File spoon-archives/bourdieu.archive/bourdieu_2004/bourdieu.0411, message 11

Date: Mon, 29 Nov 2004 07:05:27 -0800 (PST)
Subject: [BOU:] One Last thread for this server: The American habitus

Since this server is going away soon, and I don't know
whether another is going to replace it, let me try to
start one last thread, regarding the American habitus.
   But first, let me raise the question as to whether
Bourdieu provides a model for the "active" side of the
habitus--- the forces which tend to *actively shape*
the habitus. I don't have a good word or phrase to
refer to what I am talking about--- the best I can
come up with is "intellectual source." I'm less than
satisfied with this phrase because some of these
sources, it seems to me, are quite anti-intellectual.
Dozens of far right American Talk radio hosts, who
spew highly specious "arguments" for hours over
thousands of radio stations every day, are cases in
point. But a more interesting one, perhaps (indeed,
the "fountainhead" of these far right talk show hosts,
I would argue) is the favorite writer of Rush
Limbaugh: Ayn Rand (whose first name, correctly
pronounced sounds nothing at all like "Ann." It sounds
much more like a single syllable version of "ion.").
   Rand is an interesting case study because her works
have been widely read by the American public for the
better part of 60 years. Her novels continue to sell
hundreds of thousands of copies a year. But more than
a novelist, Rand claimed to be a philosopher. And more
than that, many (if not most) of Rand's followers
consider Rand to have been the greatest philosopher
who ever lived (and most of the *real* philosophers,
such as Descartes and Kant, to have been charlatans).
My own view, to put it mildly, is that Rand wasn't
really a philosopher at all. However, she was perhaps
the greatest propagandist since Joseph Goebels, the
Propaganda Minister for the Nazis, proclaimed, "No
people are as free as the German nation!" To anyone
who has ever read Rand, the comparison here should be
striking. According to rand, one is "free" if ones
lives under a system of pure, Laissez Faire
capitalism. Never mind that you have no health
insurance, or even that you're homeless, perhaps. Pure
capitalism is synonymous with pure freedom. 
    What makes this interesting? The simple fact that
something approaching a majority of Americans now
believe this. Before Rand appeared on the cultural
scene, this was not the case.
   Is anyone interested in further discussing the role
of propaganda, and propagandists, in shaping the


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