March 17, 2011

Dialectic and the Weightier Matters of the Law

Some readers who are following this blog may be wondering why I pay so much attention to what seem to be the “little things” of Mr. Ferrara’s attack on Austro-libertarianism. I reply by (a) assuring them that I will get to the so-called big things and (b) begging their patience.
I would also remind them, however, that the way one manages little things can be an excellent predictor of how one manages big things. (Matthew 25:14-28)

I think I understand what these readers are waiting for. “All right, Mr. Flood, so you don’t like the way Mr. Ferrara phrased his objections to Austro-libertarianism, you don't like his tone. But if you don’t start dealing with their substance pretty soon, you’ll risk being seen as merely fussy.” That’s a risk I’m willing to take. But perhaps they misunderstand the point of this enterprise.

Mr. Ferrara’s noisy, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink style of “argument” is his substance. The few matters that require thought and research could be listed on an index card. His objections were answered long ago in print, in some cases before Mr. Ferrara was born. He did not look for those answers or, if he did, he kept his research to himself.

Perhaps another look at an earlier post, “On Reviewing Propaganda,” is in order, especially this paragraph: 
The challenge facing a reviewer of a work of propaganda is to reveal it to be propaganda without committing an equivalent sin against honest communication. While he must note the intellectual issues that the propagandist raises and critically evaluate the latter’s handling of them, he must not (a) appear to grant the propagandist’s conceit that his is a work of intellectual merit, (b) give the propagandist a victory by appearing to evade the alleged force of his “devastating” arguments, or (c) get into the gutter with him.  
I care very much about the ideas he distorted and the people he held up for ridicule in TCATL, especially since he had the nerve to do so in the name of Christ and His Gospel. It is therefore my purpose to subject Mr. Ferrara’s every polemical twitch to common standards of truthful communication. That's the dialectical spin we’re in.

Once we document Mr. Ferrara's departure from those norms in TCATL, the errors and sloppy scholarship with which it is rife will be intelligible as symptomatic of ethical lapse. The complaints he brings to the bar of reason are but so many tithes of mint and anise and cummin.  Justice in one’s communication pertains to the weightier matters of the law.  That’s a rather Big Thing. This he ought to have done, without leaving the other undone. (Matthew 23:23)