people yelling that trans people are what you say they are is more important than trans women being able to have a place to talk without being harrassed… that makes sense… so basically if brandolini’s law decided the rules of a social media platform.
The war altered Eliot’s politics and his poetics more fundamentally than his Christianity had affected them. Catholicism, classicism, and royalism emerged from an intellectual process that began at Harvard and a psychological process that began in childhood, “But the torment of others remains an experience / Unqualified, unworn by subsequent attrition.” Eliot’s acquiescence in democracy (“We all agree on the affirmation that a democracy is the best possible aim for society”) was announced on a lecture tour of America in 1950 and was a more momentous development than is generally supposed An implication of his philosophical notebooks had been that —since reality is conventional, and truth determined by conventions of language —it was necessary to maintain a rigorous and exclusive vocabulary in order to have truth or reality at all. From this perspective, pluralist democracy threatens the continuity and even the existence of reality because it encourages the claims of rival vocabularies and establishes the expectation of their alternating dominion. But democracy, Eliot came to believe after the war, was “not merely a form of government, but a common ethos, a way of responding emotionally, even common standards of conduct in private life.” Democracy no longer seemed to Eliot a mechanism for the avoidance of commitment, of the selection of discourse, but as an instrument of its expression. Part of the reason for his change of mind may be that democracy itself had changed: in 1933 democratic elections brought Hitler to power, and in Europe, during the years between the wars, a vote for a political party could signify the voter’s choice of an ethics, a metaphysics, and a system of government. Eliot had held that electoral politics led only to unbridgeable disagreement, indeed incommensurability, or else to frivolous dispute. Following the war, democracy, at least in English-speaking countries, produced what Eliot called “significant disagreement”: enough agreement about terms and values to make debate possible, sufficient divergence of method and purpose to make debate more than a sport.
Eliot adjusted to the logic of the situation. Democracy had the advantage of existence, and his endorsement disposed of the apparent contradiction between his distaste for theoretical worlds, as a philosopher, and his advocacy of them, as a social critic. Eliot decided, the war having proved major upheavals undesirable, that there were developments in modern life “which we must accept,” but he discovered as well that democratic values fit closely with his philosophical position. More closely, it appears, than had his interim values: Eliot’s postwar essays read more like his Harvard notebooks than anything written between them, and they contain innumerable apologies for the tone and content of prior work In ’The Aims of Education,” the lecture series in which he explored the virtues of democracy, the controlling argument was that “‘education’ is likely to mean, in practice, a compromise between what different people mean by it,” and that ‘”equality of opportunity’ . . means different things to different people, and different things to the same people at different moments, often without our knowing it.” To judge by style or by slant, the date of these comments night be 1915 and, as contributions to public debate, they show how Elliot had by 1950 found the latitude at which perspectivism and pluralism meet. The perspectivist and the pluralist, having a special awareness of dissension, may be specially devoted, as a practical consequence, to the achievement of consensus. Eliot’s metaphors for consensus had been absolutistic-a consensus achieved, for the skeptic, is a truth —and these uncongenial metaphors served to alienate a plurality from the consensus he described.35 His postwar metaphors were benign, even democratic. The Oxford English Dictionary became Eliot’s favored illustration of consensus: the O.E.D. comprehends all mutations of definition, past and present, on the assumption that every usage, however eccentric or archaic, is valid and that, despite wide variation, “there is an implicit unity between all the meanings of a word.” This had been precisely Eliot’s characterization of orthodoxy— the implicit consensus of diverse perspectives —but orthodoxy, whatever Eliot’s intention, did not connote a human consensus.