Montgomery McFate: The New Heroine for a Collapsing Discipline (1.1)

[see “Me so horny, me love you long time”: The Phallo-Fascism of a Vainglorious Anthropologist in the Academilitary]

…in a decaying hegemomic power, I might add.

I just finished reading through one example of what will surely become a more visible, more audible set of apologia in anthropology for the work of the likes of McFate. You can find an example of politely reactionary, subtly head-kicking anthropology at its best on Grant McCracken’s blog. (“Cracken,” “Fate,” “Kil-Cullen”? Some of these surnames sound as if they had been made up by a novelist to reflect the character of the protagonists.)

McCracken admonishes us, protesters and nay-sayers: “Some anthropologists may be too good for the world. But they have to understand that their refusal to participate has consequences and that these consequences have moral implications.”

Well, I certainly hope so. If the refusal to participate in imperialist projects has no moral implications, it would seem to diminish the need for the refusal to begin with. What McCracken wrongly assumes is that there can be only one set of moral implications, that we inherently support the jihadists by not supporting the cluster bombers and mercenaries of the American side. This is rehashed Bush doctrine: you are either with us, or against us.

McCracken asks: “But I wonder now if the object of our concern shouldn’t be something like ‘high horse’ anthropology, that inclination to address the world outside the ivory tower as if it were always and only an exercise in compromise and prostitution.” Interesting choice of words — compromise and prostitution — as they seem to immediately bring to mind the oversized glossy image of McFate that McCracken reproduces on his blog. The fact is that anthropology, whether applied in the service of imperialists or engaged in elitist withdrawal from public discourse, has been more than just compromised and prostituted to begin with: it never left the ranks of the elite. It has always been “high horse anthropology,” in all of its manifestations.

If anything, this is McCracken’s very useful contribution: bringing out yet another, deep structural basis of imperialist anthropology that continues unchanged, because changing it means dismantling a discipline that is already in a state of internal collapse.

I very much appreciate the sentiments of the prominently featured opponents of “weaponized anthropology,” such as David Price, Roberto Gonzalez, and Hugh Gusterson. At the end of the day, however, I will depart from them as well: their ultimate goal is to safeguard the integrity of a very questionable discipline. My goal is quite different.

To echo McCracken’s clever and catchy blog title, let me say:

Intersection of Fury and Disgust.