In his essay “Lived experience” matters—but not more than everything else Alex Dean places himself in the Tradition of the paranoid chatter of Allen Bloom of ‘The Closing of The American Mind’ and his two Neo-Conservative allies: Dinesh D’Souza’s ‘Illiberal Education’ and Roger Kimball’s ‘Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted Our Higher Education’, these three Neo-Conservatives attacked Academia, Bloom from the angle of lazy, unimaginative students addled by rock music and their own narcissism, D’Souza from the angle of a failed educational system, and Kimball from the idea of political apostates, the ‘tenured radicals’ who managed a corrupt system, that perverted the very idea of education.
McCarthyism is an honored American Tradition:the Salem Witch Trials, which relied on ‘spectral evidence’ pioneered by Cotton Mather began that tradition. Mr. Dean inexplicably abandons the notion of ‘microagressions”—small slights such as talking over someone’, meaning verbal bulling, in favor of ‘lived experience’ exercised by the amorphous ‘student left’ that eventually becomes real in ‘Everyday Feminism’ and ‘Cuntry Living’ , both feminist web sites, and Owen Jones’ walk out of the Sky News panel, because the other panelists refused to call the Orlando murders an attack on LGBTI persons, not because of some claim of an absence of ‘lived experience’, but because of failure of those panelists to recognize the empirical facts of the case. Mr. Dean has just begun his search for Apostates in the body politic, as the enemy of the moment, or just the scapegoats for a class of commentators, who speak for a political status quo in utter collapse: Neo-Liberalism, in its myriad iterations.
Mr. Dean astonishingly exhibits his utter ignorance of the idea of ‘lived experience’ as a product of the evolution of the thought of Dilthey, to Husserl’s ‘Life World’, through Heidegger to the existentialism of Sartre and Merleau-Ponty, in short the evolution of the philosophical school called Phenomenology: that historical background inconvenient to the imperative of shaming the political other.
Absent also is any mention of left student radicals in the 1930’s, the 1964 Free Speech movement led by Mario Savio, 1968 Paris or Chicago. In the face of political crisis like the Depression, the Vietnam War or 9-11, the War on Terror , Afghanistan,Iraq, Syria , The Drone Wars in various locations, the watershed of the 2008 Depression, and the economic doldrums eight years on, has created a sense of a permanent crisis in the West:Europe and America. All of this history, too politically inconvenient to Mr. Dean’s witch hunting polemic against the dissidents in our midst, a fifth column threatening our political unity: our own children!