August 02, 2015 by Miles Kimball These different defenses of literature are connected with different conceptions of democracy. The world-citizen view insists on the need for all citizens to understand differences with which they need to live; it sees citizens as striving to deliberate and to understand across these division. It is connected with a conception of democratic debate as deliberation about the common good. The identity-politics view, by contrast, depicts the citizen body as a marketplace of identity-based interest groups jockeying for power, and views difference as something to be affirmed rather than understood. Indeed, it seems a bit hard to blame literature professionals for the current prevalance of identity politics in the academy, when these scholars simply reflect a cultural view that has other, more powerful sources. Dominant economic views of rationality with the political culture have long powerfully promoted the idea that democracy is merely a marketplace of competing interest groups, without any common goals and ends that can be rationally deliberated. Economics has a far more pervasive and formative influence on our life than does French literary theory, and it is striking that conservative critics who attack the Modern Language Association are slow to criticize the far more powerful sources of such anticosmopolitan ideas when they are presented by market economists. It was no postmodernist, but Milton Friedman, who said that about matters of value, ‘men can ultimately only fight.’ This statement is false and pernicious. World citizens should vigorously criticize these ideas wherever they occur, insisting that they lead to an impoverished view of democracy. – Martha Nussbaum, Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education, pages 110-111 (in chapter 3).