Sunday, October 30, 2011

Iraq

Visser on Christopher Hill.
FLC: "An 'Obituary' that says it all & well!" Click the headline.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Conservatism of Occupy Wall Street
Not a surprise.

The Murder Brigades of Misrata
in re: recent posts and two discussions, at Crooked Timber and Cosmic Variance based -begun- on the assumption that art and science are opposed, and that art is religious and science is secular.
The last paragraph of the introduction [pdf]
A few years ago, at a gallery opening I got into a conversation with an astrophysicist from Stanford; we were mutual friends of the curator. He felt slightly dragged along. He was game but said he didn’t understand art. The conversation drifted and he mentioned a book he was reading, a biography of Sandy Kofax, the great pitcher for the Dodgers, in Brooklyn and LA. He said what he liked most was the way the author wrote not only as an observer, a professional sports-writer, and fan, but as a woman, an outsider in the world of male athletics, and as a Jew writing about Koufax, another Jew and outsider in the gentile world of professional sports. He said her description of those relations was really interesting. I asked him if he could have described any of it as she had. He said no. I told him he understood art.
The above describes the secular function of art. Platonism is religious.
Atrios: Parks
There aren't enough details in this article to really form an opinion, but I'll express what's probably an unpopular opinion and say that adding a bit of development to Fairmount Park might not be such a bad idea. Devil's in the details, of course, but I think urban parks should be better integrated with the city than it is. That doesn't mean I'd support paving over big chunks of it.
Fairmount Park is one of the largest metropolitan park systems in the world. I used to get lost in it as a child. Walking on the trails you can sense that you're miles away from the nearest road, when streets can be just over a hill on either side, out of sight.



"The High Line is a good example of a park built with people in mind."



repeat: On The High Line

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Childishness and OWS.

Abstruse philosophizing. I posted a comment on the post
When I heard the "human mic" the speaker had a real one, and the result was not a call and response but a catechism. I find the rarefied philosophizing around OWS deeply annoying. The anarchist vanguardism is counterproductive. The protests need to expand into something truly popular; If they stay within the core group of revolutionary idealists they'll collapse. The US is not Egypt and the understanding of world politics among American "tenured radicals" is woefully inadequate. [link to the Alastair Crooke piece on Syria] FYI: in Libya, thanks to NATO, polygamy is back. Politics is not conceptual art.
An Email from John Protevi: "I'm deleting this. Take your incoherent mutterings somewhere else. You're banned. Go somewhere else for your therapy. "

The first paragraph (about a third) of my response
The discussion of Egypt on your site revolved around the posts of an American philosophy teacher [Harman] in Cairo. He might as well have been an ophthalmologist talking politics to his friends back home but to you he was a philosopher so that made his comments important. I give him credit for staying but no credit to you for losing interest. I read Jadaliyya for serious intellectual engagement on Egypt and elsewhere. On Libya, you've said nothing of substance. Read the piece I linked by Alastair Crooke. It's important. Google him to understand why you should take him seriously.
NewAPPS posted an interview with Harman on Oct 5th. In a long exchange this is the only reference to Egyptian politics
I am overjoyed at the prospect that a new system of government might be able to unlock that talent and maybe bring home portions of the talented Egyptian diaspora– people who never saw enough opportunity at home in Egypt until now.
I quoted that in my final note to Protevi, adding a link posted this morning by AA.
Yet today’s generals are protecting an entirely different set of interests from those important to the Free Officers. They have presided over months of delay in the trials of Mubarak and his aides, and have stalled and bargained with the revolutionary forces over every aspect of constitutional and electoral reform. They have thrown over 8,000 people in military prisons, and have even turned their tanks and guns on peaceful demonstrators at Maspero. The generals’ statements in support of the January Revolution can no longer conceal their connections with the old regime and their return to the worst of its tactics.
Protevi's response: "Fuck you"

Maharawa vs Spitzer:
I’m firmly anti-capitalist, but I’ve been thinking about the Occupy Wall Street movement as not so much capitalist or anti-capitalist but about how can we think about ourselves outside of capitalism. That’s what we’ve been seeing down at Zuccotti Park. It’s creating modes of being and modes of social interaction that are somewhat outside of capitalism. So value isn’t only about creating wealth or having a job. It’s about creating a community based on shared skills, mutual aid, stuff like that.
earlier: Vallejo vs Graeber
It’s very similar to the globalization movement. You see the same criticisms in the press. It’s a bunch of kids who don’t know economics and only know what they’re against. But there’s a reason for that. it’s pre-figurative, so to speak. You’re creating a vision of the sort of society you want to have in miniature.
A note from a journalist who's covered the Middle East and Arab Spring, and now in NY
The only reason OWS won the first (small) battle of making it into the news was because of the police's heavyhandedness. The 99% people uploading their signs on tumblr aren't going to camp out with a bunch of kids/homeless people/drug addicts and raving sidewalk preachers who behave like they haven't had a conversation with anyone for 30 years.
related:
Owen Flanagan and Alex Rosenberg on Naturalism. Rosenberg's latest book is subtitled "Enjoying Life without Illusions." My comment was not published.
note taking/posted elsewhere. old wine in new bottles
Language is never stable, whether in common life, Catholic doctrine or the meaning of the US Constitution. Rituals may stay the same, as spelling may, but meanings change. Only reactionaries such as Antonin Scalia argue otherwise.

See Balkin, Levinson, and Richard Taruskin

From Text to Performance: Law and other Performing Arts

The major problem with the contemporary theory and practice of social science is the assumption that the meanings of research will not be subject to change as are other texts. Concomitant with this is the fiction that "scientists" are on one side of the glass and that "the folk" are on the other.

Historians read and interpret the past as lawyers and concert pianists do. None of them engage in science and none require a god. All require a faith in the representational power of their own language, even while acknowledging that that power will not be shared in the future. All that the future will share with the past will be the form, the rituals, the words, the notes, the numbers. And the last is where scientists get their fiction.

Numbers are seen by most as modeling the world, but they do not represent it. Representation is a function of meaning and meanings are private. An engineer of highways and an engineer of public transport systems will be of different faiths regarding the use of the same formulae. In a humanist sense the formulae are as meaningless as rocks, all that matters is what's done with them. The collapse of simple facts, of rocks, with meaning has allowed science to take on the role of a self-supporting faith: that the function of logic presupposes a logical (reasonable) goal. It does no such thing.

Science does not know irony. The best model of the secular "belief in belief" is the faith of the lawyer, historian and fiddle player.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Alastair Crooke in Asia Times: The Great Game in Syria
The US, Israel, The Saudis, Qatar and Turkey, with footnotes. It's the best description I've seen.

More from MoA

Compare Crook's analysis to that of David Kurtz at TPM: "Lindsey Graham went on Fox News this morning and attempted to make a sow's ear out of the silk purse of Obama's recent foreign policy successes."

Stupid.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

AP
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed American condolences, and her British counterpart William Hague said he was saddened to hear of the death. Britain's Prince Charles sent his condolences in a personal letter to the Saudi king.

"The crown prince was a strong leader and a good friend to the United States over many years as well as a tireless champion for his country. He will be missed," Clinton said from Tajikistan on a Central Asia tour. "Our relationship with Saudi Arabia is strong and enduring and we will look forward to working with the leadership for many years to come."
Guardian
British firms urged to 'pack suitcases' in rush for Libya business.
Questions by/for OWS

Friday, October 21, 2011

"He echoed comments by State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, who said on Friday: 'This sale is designed to support the Bahraini military in its defence function, specifically in hardening the country against opposition groups and potential attack or nefarious activity by countries like Iran.'"

"Rula al-Saffar, whose appeal hearing is on Sunday, tells how she was tortured and jailed for treating injured protesters"

AA is good today.
And FLC
Arabist

Atrios
I remember the good old days when these kinds of things were just Chomskyian conspiracy theories. and serious people laughed at that silly man reading the entrails. Now politicians just feel comfortable saying them out loud
"Let’s get in on the ground. There is a lot of money to be made in the future in Libya. Lot of oil to be produced. Let’s get on the ground and help the Libyan people establish a democracy and a functioning economy based on free market principles."
Atrios again
Duh
Formed with a $10 million endowment from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Egyptian Center for Economic Studies gathered captains of industry in a small circle — with the president’s son Gamal Mubarak at the center. Over time, members of the group would assume top roles in Egypt’s ruling party and government.
Can we just fucking stop this shit? It's fucked up and bullshit.
The irony isn't enough. DB is a small-minded provincial and a pedant. He'll refer to Chomsky only in jest and link rarely to Cole, the liberal non-Arab, non-Muslim go-to guy for all things Islamic -though Cole defended the stupid (and illegal) Libya attacks- but if something gets too complex or the questions make him uncomfortable he'll stay away, or oversimplify and yell. I don't think I've ever read a complex argument from him or even seen a link to one.

"Israeli officials want a public commitment from Washington to protect the Saudi regime should it come under threat.."

Most important questions if examined resolve into simplicity, but not the simplicity you learned about in Kindergarten.

Google site search for "Israel" found this
Some Question U.S. Support For Israel
By Roger B. Fetcher
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 31, 2002; Page A01

WASHINGTON, DC Since the signing of the Camp David accords, billions in U.S. foreign aid have gone to Israel. There is growing outrage by some about continued financial support of Israel, given the alleged human rights abuses of the Israeli government against Palestinians by the Sharon government.

David Duke, president of Americans in Support of Palestinian Freedom, a D.C.-based human rights group, said "Since last year, we have gotten well over 200 complaints of human rights abuses. It's time our lawmakers recognize these injustices."
That was of course a fake news story. Everyone get the point?
The switch in font size is in the original.
"David Duke, president of Americans in Support of Palestinian Freedom"

That and this are from 2002.
It is precisely because "elite" opinion betrays its inexplicable bias - devoting more column inches to lamenting uprooted olive trees in Palestinian settlements than to innocent Israeli victims of suicide bombers - that there is cause for alarm.
There are more, similarly offensive or stupid. The un-offensive posts by and large are written by others. He's made only three references to Israel in the past year, all of them minor. From arrogant speech to cowardly silence, call it progress.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Duncan Black: "In a weird kind of way I actually respect Pat Buchanan because unlike most racists he articulates pretty well and honestly just what his racism is all about."
During a radio appearance promoting his book, MSNBC analyst Pat Buchanan argued that blacks and whites were more unified during the 1950s than they are today. Buchanan argued that "what we had then, which was a sense of cultural and social one-ness, we were a people, that I think that is what's being lost." Buchanan added that while blacks considered themselves Americans first and foremost during the era of segregation, today they're using "hyphenated terms" like "African-American" to describe themselves.
Derrick Bell
While honoring the efforts and sacrifices of the people whose struggles culminated in Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court case that ended school segregation in this country, New York University Professor Derrick Bell provocatively suggested last week that generations of black children might have been better off if the case had failed.
Duncan Black:"I generally think concerns about the ill impacts of urban gentrification are overblown."

"I know and have friends and acquaintances who are African-American..."

[update] "David Duke, president of Americans in Support of Palestinian Freedom"

My general comments: "We're voting for the nigger."

A few hours ago I added a comment to this post at TPM, responding to statements approving of the fact that people at OWS who had attacked Obama as Zionist had been shouted down by other protesters and called Nazis. I posted a link: "Tel Aviv: City launches program to prevent relationships between Jewish girls and minorities." My comment was removed and the post has been edited, removing the last paragraphs and the references to Obama.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Swoop
October 17th – October 23rd, 2011
The uptick in US-Iran tensions, to which we have been drawing attention over the past weeks, has now metastasized into something much more serious. Irrespective of individual views about the alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington – commentary has covered the full spectrum between full-throated support for the Administration and outright skepticism – US officials are determined to use the incident to tighten the international sanctions regime against Iran. With US-Iran commercial relations virtually at zero, this means that Washington will be dependent on a positive response from its allies and partners. How these events play out is uncertain, though our official contacts assure us that no military action is contemplated. The emerging consensus in the intelligence community is that the story reflects personal and political tensions inside the Iranian leadership rather than a top-level involvement with the operation. In parallel, the Administration is re-emphasizing US diplomatic assertiveness, with Secretary of State Clinton making two major speeches on the importance of global leadership and economic statecraft. In these she has highlighted what she describes as a "pivot moment" in US diplomacy whereby the focus of US interests gradually transitions from the Atlantic to the Pacific. These dynamics were on display this week in the high-profile visit by South Korean president Lee Myung-bak. As we have noted, foreign policy is unlikely to be the central issue of the forthcoming presidential election. However, with none of the Republican contenders having deep foreign policy experience, the White House political staff sense an opening to highlight President Obama's credentials in this field. Next month he will make two overseas visits to attend the G-20 and APEC summits. Finally, the deployment of some 100 US combat troops to Uganda and three other Central African countries to advise on operations against the Lord's Resistance Army represents further confirmation of the influential role played by the "liberal intervention" faction among Obama's advisers which was so influential over Libya. In the Congress, Republican leaders are complaining of a lack of consultation, albeit cautiously as the interventions is grounded in 2010 legislation passed with substantial bipartisan support.
UPI
MANAMA, Bahrain, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- A top U.S. diplomat confirmed Tuesday the United States has finalized a $53 million weapons deal with the Persian Gulf Kingdom of Bahrain.

Monday, October 17, 2011


The underlying assumption is that Americans are different than Iraqis. To someone from another country they'd be the same. Credit where credit is due, but not where it's not.

He's seen things he wants to forget.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Brilliant political move by Obama: The Lord's Resistance Army are Christian.
"We're not at war with Islam."
Etc.
Name your plot.

not bad.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"You've got 50 economics PhDs in this room who pretty much run the world economy. And you're asking that girl for a better system? Aren't the solutions your job?
No.

Also: used car salesman, terrorism, etc. Paul Woodward
Arabist and AA.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tax deductions
In the warren of Met administrative offices, the people who run one of the world’s busiest opera houses had something else to applaud: a record amount of contributions for the fiscal year that ended in July. According to preliminary figures released for the first time, the Met hauled in $182 million, an astonishing amount in a tough economic climate and 50 percent more than it raised just the year before.

And there was other good news. For the first time in seven years, the Met had balanced its budget, thanks partly to $11 million in profits last year from its HD movie theater transmissions, which had been operating for only five years.
Bruce Ackerman
On the Presidential Assassination of American Citizens

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cairo riots

recent posts at AA
note taking. Goldhammer
In one of many recent articles on the late Steve Jobs, Dean Baker wrote (comparing Jobs and Alan Greenspan): “One made us rich, with a vast array of new products and new possibilities. The other made us poor with a long lasting downturn that could persist for more than a decade.” I want to enter a mild demurrer against the hagiographic depiction of Steve Jobs as the heroic entrepreneur, which one finds in nearly all the obituaries. My quarrel is not with Apple’s overseas labor practices, deplorable as those may have been. That is a separate issue. It is with the whole idea of the heroic individual entrepreneur who supposedly creates an industry ex nihilo and “makes us rich.”

To say this is to take nothing away from Steve Jobs, who was brilliant at what he did. But what he did was essentially to package the genius of tens of thousands of others, who worked not for extraordinary shares of immense profits or for rock-star celebrity but for love of the work itself. When the technologies are in place, it is inevitable that a Jobs will come along and find the key to commoditizing them, but creation of the technologies is a long, slow, and above all social process, which owes more to the actions of a far-sighted state and to basic research pursued in universities and private labs than to the genius of any entrepreneur.

Think of all the technologies that go into a Mac or iPhone: semiconductor physics, computer languages, ingenious algorithms, liquid-crystal displays, networking protocols, advanced modulation techniques, etc. etc. Steve Jobs was responsible for none of this, and the vast scope of the collective effort that goes into making each handy consumer device is a story that needs to be told by a historian of technology, not a hagiographer. Otherwise we risk confusing the achievement of the individual, remarkable as it may be, with the social achievement–the civilization–that makes it possible.

The singling out of the individual achievement is to my mind an essentially right-wing trope. It encourages the kind of thinking that leads people to argue that the tax system must preserve the profit incentive that is supposed to motivate these”job creators” and “wealth creators.” But the fact is that emphasizing the economic incentives to individuals ignores the importance of providing other kinds of incentives to the kinds of people who are not motivated primarily by money (and I think that Jobs himself surely was one of those for whom money was a secondary consideration). No matter how much we enjoy our iPods and iPhones, we should be careful about attributing their existence to individual “genius” rather than to collective effort and the education and organization on which that effort depends.
se
The problem with this is not the discussion of technology, but the refusal to acknowledge design. It’s ironic that a translator of literature would ignore the fact that Jobs as a designer was first and foremost an architect, not an engineer. Architecture is a kind of poetry, and poets are authoritarians of the worlds they create. That’s not a defense of Jobs as such, it’s simply an observation of why he’s important as an individual in the sense that Bill Gates, Sergey Brin, and Mark Zuckerberg are not.

What was interesting about Apple under Jobs was that the attention to specifics limited its ability to expand. Apple’s model has been a large scale form of boutique capitalism. Google’s amorphous interest in “content” over form has allowed for continuous expansion that makes it much more dangerous.
Goldhammer
The problem, Seth, is that this translator of literature used to be a physicist and mathematician and sees more poetry in the Dirac equation or the algorithm for the Fast Fourier Transform than in the sleekness of the iPod or iPad. And I beg to differ about Sergey Brin, whose search algorithm is a far more important contribution to productivity and well-being than any of Jobs’ creations.
se
The logic of google is technocratic authoritarianism. It will have to be nationalized, or better internationalized, sooner or later. As to your general point the aesthetics and politics of Platonism itself is authoritarian. Democracy is founded in theater not science. Theater is the culture of the secular and imperfect.
Also to add: most of the ease of use that we now take for granted in non technical computing, the social activity including this exchange, originates with apple and Jobs’ intuitive decidedly non-geeklike understanding of human behavior.
The debate went on too long. And he doesn't even know his history. "The pull-down menu was used in Lotus software on PCs before the Mac existed. The mouse was invented at Xerox PARC."
---

Marcus Stanley, and my response
"The sociology of modern knowledge production empowers the scholar over the humanist, and the collective / communal enterprise of scholarship over the inspiration of the individual thinker."

You have that precisely backwards. The humanist is embedded in culture by calling, the mathematician only by default, while embedded by choice in a private world of universals.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Vallejo vs Graeber

Camila Vallejo
Throughout the six-month revolt, Chilean students – in many cases led by 14- and 15-year-olds – have seized the streets of Santiago and major cities, provoking and challenging the status quo with their demand for a massive restructuring of the nation's for-profit higher education industry. In support of their demands for free university education, since May they have organised 37 marches, which have gathered upwards of 200,000 students at a time.

Police repression has been frequent. Vandals who often use the cover of student marches to attack banks, pharmacies and utility companies are met by an armed force of riot police who routinely attack pedestrians and tear gas crowds of innocent civilians.

What began as a quiet plea for improvements in public education has now erupted into a wholescale rejection of the Chilean political elite. More than 100 high schools nationwide have been seized by students and a dozen universities shut down by protests.

Classes for tens of thousands of students have been suspended since May, and the entire school year might have to be repeated. Polls show an estimated 70% of the Chilean public backs the students' demands and an equal percentage find the government's proposal insufficient, according to figures from Chile's leading newspaper, La Tercera.

Widely admired for her eloquent speeches on Chilean television, Vallejo has gathered a cult following around the world that ranges from German folk rock tributes to videos from Latin America's largest university, the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (Unam). "This internationalisation of the movement has been very important to us," says Vallejo who receives a daily deluge of fan mail and invitations to speaking engagements and seminars. "Here in Chile we are constantly hearing the message that our goals are impossible and that we are unrealistic, but the rest of the world, especially the youth, are sending us so much support. We are at a crucial moment in this struggle and international support is key."
David Graeber
EK: This movement is organized rather differently than most protest movements. There isn’t really a list of demands, or goals, or even much of an identifiable leadership. But if I understand you correctly, that’s sort of the point.

DG: It’s very similar to the globalization movement. You see the same criticisms in the press. It’s a bunch of kids who don’t know economics and only know what they’re against. But there’s a reason for that. it’s pre-figurative, so to speak. You’re creating a vision of the sort of society you want to have in miniature. And it’s a way of juxtaposing yourself against these powerful, undemocratic forces you’re protesting. If you make demands, you’re saying, in a way, that you’re asking the people in power and the existing institutions to do something different. And one reason people have been hesitant to do that is they see these institutions as the problem.

EK: So if you say, for instance, that you want a tax on Wall Street and then you’ll be happy, you’re implicitly saying that you’re willing to be happy with a slightly modified version of the current system.

DG: Right. The tax on Wall Street will go to people controlled by Wall Street.

EK: By which you mean government.

DG: Yes. So we are keeping it open-ended. In a way, what we want is to create spaces where people can think about questions like that.
Graeber has always been a fantasist; he's attacking ideas with ideas. Vallejo is attacking policy. Her questions are specific and the students' demands are concrete. Graeber is trying to "create" a community rather than use ones that exist.
DG: Yes. So we are keeping it open-ended. In a way, what we want is to create spaces where people can think about questions like that. In New York, according to law, any unpermitted assembly of more than 12 people is illegal in New York. Space itself is not an openly available resource. But the one resource that isn’t scarce is smart people with ideas. So we’re trying to reframe things away from the rhetoric of demands to a questions of visons and solutions. Now how that translates into actual social change is an interesting question. One way this has been done elsewhere is you have local initiatives that come out of the local assemblies.

EK: It also seems that the tradeoff here, from an organizational standpoint, is that if you say you want, say, a tax on Wall Street, then the people who aren’t interested in a tax on Wall Street stay home. So remaining vague on demands can make the tent bigger. But it also seems that, at some point, people are going to need to be working towards concrete goals and experiencing dicrete successes in order to sustain the energy of a movement like this.

GB: As the thing grows, new organizational forms will develop. At this point, the New York occupation has 30 different working groups for everything from handling sanitation to discussing labor issues and tax policy. So we’re trying to set up ways that people with different interests can plug into the movement. There’s even a newspaper. The ‘Occupied Wall Street Journal.’ Of course, this is nothing compared to what happened in Tahrir Square, where they even had dry cleaners.
The shallowest revolutionary rhetoric.

related

Monday, October 03, 2011

Neoliberalism, tomatoes, and Yelp.

How Yelp is killing chain restaurants:
...However, looking more broadly, chain restaurants as a whole seem to have declined in market share as Yelp has grown in prominence. “This suggests,” Luca writes, [pdf] “that online consumer reviews substitute for more traditional forms of reputation.” In 2007, about 50 percent of all restaurant spending, some $125 billion per year, went to chain restaurants. Chains have always benefited from uniformity: No matter where you go, you always know what you’ll get at an Applebee’s or a McDonald’s. Independent restaurants, by contrast, are more of a gamble. But as online review sites like Yelp expand, that’s no longer the case."
From last year
"Italian rules allowing candy makers including Nestle SA to label their products as “pure chocolate” breach European Union law, the region’s highest court said.

Permitting chocolate made from pure cocoa butter to be called “cioccolato puro,” or “pure chocolate,” clashes with EU-wide measures which allow chocolate laced with vegetable fats to be marketed as chocolate, the tribunal in Luxembourg said."
German roofers were under pressure from the EU a few years ago because in Germany you were not allowed to start your own company without 7 or 8 years of experience, and other countries were far less strict. But German roofers were considered the best in Europe. At the same time small batch cheese makers in Switzerland are under pressure now from industrial cheese manufacturers in Germany, who buy up all the milk.

Brad DeLong has come out in favor of cardboard tomatoes for the masses.
...you have to either live in the countryside or live in the city and be really rich to say that rubber tomatoes suck. For those humans who live in the city and are not really rich, rubber tomatoes provide a welcome and tasty and affordable simulacrum of the tomato-eating experience.
DeLong on Seeing Like a State
But when we look around at modern large-scale bureaucratic capitalism, we see what Scott calls "metis" everywhere. Everything from the flick of your wrist so that the supermarket laser-scanner reads the bar code (try it some time)...
Comments are here

The protests on Wall street and elsewhere are not the beginning, and they are not the continuation of something begun in Cairo.

note taking. posted elsewhere. repeat arguments, here answering Corey Robin
The danger of revolution is that the moral logic -the sensibility- becomes self-sustaining through performative reinforcement. The dangers of reaction are the same. Ideology is armor, and you can think through ideology about as well as you can move around in a tin suit. Israel was founded by the victims of a crime but the former victims cannot fully conceive of themselves as victimizers. Zionism is illiberal by definition but “liberal Zionists” will brook no argument.

It would be helpful if educated liberals who are so fond of their capacity for reason would understand that the notion of the rule of law originates in a conservative fear of reason unmoored. It would also help if liberal academics (with the exception of law professors) understood how closely their claims for their own arguments track the those of legal conservatives regarding the Constitution. “My words will mean what I say they mean not what others interpret them as meaning. My writing will be interpreted as ‘dead’ ” to use Scalia’s terminology: outside of history, or historical change.

The rule of philosophers and technocrats is not democracy. It would help also if both modern liberals and conservatives understood that conservatism under the old regime was in origin, aristocratic, anti-materialist, anti-bourgeois, and anti-capitalist. Burkeanism and market liberalism are opposed. Bourgeois liberals and bourgeois conservatives both ignore the fact that they’re bourgeois. Conservatives aren’t directly responsible for gentrification, which is best defined as the move of “adventurous” middle class liberals into working class neighborhoods, displacing members of the working class irrespective of politics.

Duncan Black (Atrios) specifically mocked the small town mythology of working class urban neighborhoods, and denies any responsibility for the transition of what was once a majority black neighborhood into a middle class majority white one. I suppose he reasons that words speak louder than actions, if they’re his. Brad DeLong argues that the urban non-rich should make do with tasteless cardboard tomatoes, (would he say the same about mediocre schools?) and at least one or two of the authors at Crooked Timber think governments should be allowed limits on freedom of speech. Are these arguments liberal? Were they liberal 30 years ago? Mike Konczal’s about page has him as “a former ‘financial engineer’” (or it did until recently). Marx would have fun with the title alone. But now he links to David Graeber.

Graeber’s focus is on the process of decision-making more than the result; on form not “content”. The rule of law is the rule of “due process”. Compared to the liberal focus on enlightened reason, Graeber’s arguments are conservative.
---

“The actual conservatives of the last 35 years in America were those individuals and movements and organizations that wanted to preserve the New Deal Order.”

Hofstadter is the precursor to DeLong as public intellectual: mid-century efficiency expert and neatnik as philosopher.

And again, as to the New Deal, both modern liberals and conservatives ignore that the biggest result was the economic unification of the country. Most modern conservatives are in favor of US economic dominance, and without Wickard v. Filburn and other decisions the US would not have become what it is. Similarly the civil rights cases had as much to do with economic efficiency, and liberal self-love, as concern. Read Derrick Bell’s dissent in What Brown v. Board of Education Should Have Said. Capitalism requires the collapse of public and private; private life has shrunk and continues to.

A mature politics deals in the conflict between desire and convention, freedom and responsibility. Law is convention, reason is colored always by desire. The civil rights movement was made up of socially conservative lower middle class african americans lead by their priests, not liberal or revolutionary upper middle class whites and their college professors.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

AA
So US killed `Awlaki. I read the statement by the US government: it is unmistakable in expressing gratitude to the forces of `Ali `Abdullah Salih. It all but paid tribute to the Salih regime. It is certain that Salih delivered `Awlaki in return for continued US support. The Yemeni regime is killing around 30 people a day, and the US government yesterday issued a statement criticizing repression in...Iran. I kid you not.
You reason only in the categories and the hierarchies that you know. Yemen is not a significant category in the American imagination, including the imagination of self-serious American liberals.

As always, I'm angered more by the unacknowledged politics of intellectual rationalism than by the politics of Zionism or any other bigotry. It's no use demanding that people be saints, but one can ask that scholars not be narcissists.