05 June 2017

Post-Structuralist Lessons in Urban Combat Tactics

Every once in a long while you run across something in your reading that really scrutinizes basic facts you had previously taken for granted and makes you question whether the author is an idiot or a genius simply by dint of the audacity in their claim.
90% of the time, you will later come to the conclusion that the author was indeed an idiot - especially if you've spent any serious time reading history, humanities, or philosophy. But 10% of the time, you realize that one or more of your basic assumptions about Things As They Are bears little resemblance to reality.
Tonight I read one of those all-too-familiar academics bloviating as they so often do on critical theory - the traditional enemy of my pragmatic, holistic approach to narrative, politics, science, etc that bore me so well through the pitfalls of traditional academic epistemological fractalization - and I was really surprised to see they got something right. This guy realized that academie's own endless search to subvert established structures (long a popular pastime in critical theory for those of you who have never been in a higher-level humanities course or read much of critical theory) could - shocker! - be used by imperialists - IMPERIALISTS, I SAY - against their opponents:
"Education in the humanities, often believed to be the best lasting weapon with which to combat imperialism, has here been adopted as imperialism’s own weapon."
Wow, it's almost like knowledge in and of itself has no moral value and can be used for good or evil!
And more than that, after I got over the hilarity of reading one of these types very deliberately and seriously come to that painful realization (and then make a groaner of an attempt to defend critical theory from this "threat:" "It is not my aim in this article to try and correct mistakes and exaggerations made in the use or interpretation of specific theories by such military thinkers.") I got to see how postmodernism and post-structuralism actually make more sense on the battlefield then they ever did as critiques of society in general.
Not to make a mountain out of a mouse-hole, but I think I really understand folks like the Situationists and Derrida better now that I've read about how their theories have been applied by the Israeli army in urban combat operations. And here had been I, thinking that all critical theory since structuralism had amounted to little else than obfuscatory fractalization and job security in the ivory tower...