Re: What are *your* politics?

Steve Krause (krause@MIND.NET)
Mon, 14 Oct 1996 21:10:52 -0700

Nicholas, you curious young man...

I guess I personally want to draw some distinction between politics and
Politics, the political and the Political. For me, the "big P" means
democrat/republican/etc., though the "big P" is obviously related to the
little one. I don't really think I'm terribly "Political;" I'm far too
cynical and lazy for that. But I do think I'm "political" in my teaching
and scholarship and such.

I think my ideas about theory are _tied_ to my politics, but I don't think
it's a confirm/deny relationship. I mean, I like marxist theory but I
don't think of myself as a marxist (in the Political sense). On the other
hand, I think of my politics (and Politics) as generally to the left (with
some weird pseudo-libertarian/anarachist/net-child sort of things thrown in
there, which can frequently be pretty right wing), so I don't really feel
compelled by theories that have what I see as a right-wing bias. ED Hirsch
is like that for me; any sort of "Christian" criticism is like that for me.

Teaching is of course also tied up into all this too, but I think that the
praxis of teaching has done more to alter my theory than the other way
around. Teaching fy comp makes me wonder about Derridan concepts of
writing and such-- he ain't talking about my students making comma splices
when he talks about "Differance," I'll tell ya that! I can't imagine
teaching without some concept of critical theory popping up everywhere I
look, and I can't imagine thinking in terms of critical theory without
teaching. So in that sense, the classroom for me is a primary site for
both theory and politics.

Can I appreciate a theory I find unreasonable? Sure-- I like and read
Plato. I'm going to be teaching Birkerts this quarter. Unreasonable ideas
can be interesting too, but I'll still call them unreasonable. Which means
(I suppose) I teach politically, and which also means (I think) that my
students know my politics. Actually, I don't talk about my Politics (eg,
Dole/Clinton) because there is supposedly a law in Oregon against it and
because I'm pretty sure most of my students can guess (bsed on my

There are some other questions too, but I like the one "do you feel guilty
sometimes?" How come I feel like I'm lying on Carbone's couch, him sitting
with a pen and pad, analysing my dreams? I feel guilty about lots of
things, but I rarely feel guilty about what I do for a living, which in
part is an example of both my politics and my Politics.

Steve Krause * Department of English * Southern Oregon State College
1250 Siskiyou Blvd. * Ashland, OR 97520 * Office Phone: 541-552-6630
School e-mail: * Personal e-mail: