By Richard M. Rorty, Kent Puckett
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Additional resources for Against Bosses, Against Oligarchies: A Conversation with Richard Rorty
Q: This idea that you start talking about whiteness as a racial identity just like any other racial identity. RR: [groans] God. Q: Think about the quote from DuBois about the wages of whiteness—the idea that white workers were convinced that, while they were oppressed, they were still better off than the blacks. So they were encouraged not to align themselves with the blacks, because of the benefits derived from their white skin. RR: That was what Gompers said about the Irish. It’s an age-old technique: dividing the oppressed into hostile groups so they won’t vote against you.
That is my view of Nietzsche. You can take over a lot of Nietzsche’s stuff about self-creation without thinking that people who aren’t interested in self-creation, or aren’t up to it, are base—to be neglected or enslaved. An ideal Jamesian democracy would have a place for all the vibrant self-creating activities that anybody would ever want to engage in, but would not insist that anybody be self-creative if they don’t feel like it. There’s a real difference from Nietzsche there. Q: One of the things that makes people nervous is when you suggest that one’s pleasure in life is relegated to the private sphere.
And I think a lot of people want to talk about the public sphere as a place where certain kinds of self-actualization happen. RR: I don’t think anything I’ve said implies that selfactualization only happens in private. Some people take no pleasure in other people—only in their own solitude. Some people do the reverse. Most of us are in between. That’s the spectrum I was talking about earlier. S. Mill. Is that the best thing we can hope for in a political philosophy? RR: I just can’t think of anything I learned from postMill writings that added much.