So some political scientist (David Kilcullen) decides to call his counterinsurgency work “conflict ethnography.” Do we take that at face value as ethnography? On what basis is the Human Terrain System “anthropology” as Grant McCracken celebrates it, bemoaning that anthropology is only ever really applied when it is applied in dominating other nations and murdering those who oppose U.S. hegemony? Failing that, it is a “museum piece.” On what basis do we call it a “radical new experiment,” when there is a long history of anthropological service to imperialism, a fact promoted by Montgomery McFate in her own writing? Anyone who knows anything at all about anthropology in the last 30 years would know that we have had these debates before, and anthropologists have served in counterinsurgency programs long before now. So why feign such ignorance, or is it real ignorance? Why the preposterous claims to “novelty” when there is nothing new here? Why the foolish appropriation of the term “radical” in connection with an ideologically reactionary stance and imperial militarism? How many more times will the degraded salesmen pitch their product in such hackneyed terms? Why not just stand for what you mean to say, and what you mean to think, instead of couching it in such awfully banal language of “NEW!”, “experimental!”, “applied!” and “radical!”?
Unless Grant McCracken’s audience consists entirely of teens, or the irredeemably ignorant, he should do readers a favour and treat them as if they had intelligence, and failing that, at least some tiny amount of knowledge. Then again, maybe he is safe to assume that they are hopeless cretins, given some of the garbled comments I read on his blog.
Otherwise, my final question is a purely mathematical one: is the bullshit about the Human Terrain system INFINITE in quantity, or is it finite, that is, does it have an actual end?