Tag Archives: deconstruction

Absolute

Huysmans dismissed him as a pompous fanatic. Baudelaire acknowledged him as his intellectual tutor. I think Joseph de Maistre is worth reading as an antidote to deconstruction.

The problem with deconstruction is that it has come to be associated with a knee-jerk liberalism that finds hysteric fault with every manifestation of authority and, therefore, tends toward a paralytic anarchist cult of consensuality and victimhood. To me, this is a deconstruction afraid to pursue its logic to the end, which ought to be its self-nullification. What deconstruction should reveal, ultimately, is the indispensability (as opposed to lamentability) of violence and privilege in the construction and maintenance of effective civilizational myths.

This is what Maistre does. And he does it by ruthlessly judging high-sounding ideas of emancipation by their outcome. Rather than attempt an impotent philosophical demolition of rationalism and the incipient bourgeois democratic ethos, he ties them to the bloody disorder ushered by the collapse of the Ancien Régime. And ultimately, he puts his faith not in the rhetorical power of his words but in the social and spiritual calamities that attend the destruction of the old patriarchal order. The people “have only seen the Revolution; they must feel it and enjoy, so to speak, its bitter consequences.”

Enjoy.