Obama is on the warpath about equality; this ultimately may be something like a mid-life crisis, as Barry O. tries to prove to his early supporters that he’s still “cool” after years of drone warfare — but it is at least leftoid, and worth considering a little bit. Verso had a book from Negri out a couple of years ago called Political Descartes, a hatchet job on “possessive individualism” as a result of the familiar externalist litanies. But what if there really was more to political equality than meets the philosophical eye?
“I have never understood the passion for equality”, said Peirce’s friend Oliver Wendell Holmes. Yet waves upon waves of metaphysical anti-individualism have done little to disturb the importance of droits de l’homme, even if Simon Blackburn takes it as ‘obvious’ that some people have the worth of others many times over. Perhaps pragmatism was a first inkling of something that appeared full-blown in Chomsky’s theoretical writings, the idea that the equality of abilities among human beings is, roughly, empirically verified by enlightened measures.
In a surprisingly comic line, Adorno doubted that running a trust was ultimately more complicated than reading a meter; and perhaps once the still-existing left gets over a Deleuzist fascination with flows and flesh and all that rhizomatic jazz the early-modern era will appear like something more than a time when “the rich were so mean” — the structures of capitalism yield political equality as a matter of something more than ‘onto-theology’, more than denatured Christianity, but rather as a corollary of modern praxis.