Sunday, September 30, 2012

Eric Posner: The World Doesn’t Love the First Amendment.

Older comments (mine):
The normative changes over time; it's absurd to say otherwise. The Weimarization of American politics may make Posner and Vermeule's arguments relevant as description, but prescription is another matter. 
Can we not find a more direct response to fascist logic than to criticize it as romance?

Balkin is acting as an advocate, as lawyers do. He’s engaged in an argument with Posner, Vermeule and their ilk. But his logic or his faith force him to fudge his history to defend his vision of democracy, which allows Vermeule to counter as a hardened realist and blablabla [blablabla]. I find myself more and more envious of Canada and the living tree doctrine, which renders all this irrelevant.

Our relation to the Constitution is like our relation to Don Giovanni. And every time Peter Sellars has a new production set in Trump Tower or Las Vegas, we set about arguing whether he made the thing fresh or somehow screwed it up. The only difference between the two debates is I suppose the matters of life and death, or justice and tyranny: the baggage of politics. I love baggage; thinking about baggage takes up a good part of my life. But treating politics as baggage, as vulgar, has its advantages. I see no need to waft about in discussions of faith and redemption; fascism is fascism, why pussyfoot around it? Posner and Vermeule defend what lovers of democracy abhor, what else is there to say? They claim to find support for this in the Constitution but Christian kings found support for the Crusades in the Bible. They claim to defend reason. My response is simple. I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it: “That authoritarianism has become normative may be a scientific fact, but that does not make authoritarianism itself a scientific truth.”

Balkin is arguing from the past and about the future, but somehow the present is lacking.
Related. Quoting myself on Tushnet
It says something about the decline of this country that a specialist in Middle East Studies writing about Kuwait gives a better defense of free speech than a professor of American constitutional law does writing about The U.S.
To go into detail on that fucking idiot start here. For Farrell on democracy (recently) go here. Bertram: "various speech restrictions naturally suggest themselves." etc.

Tyler Cowen, 2006
"Shantytowns might well be more creative than a dead city core. Some of the best Brazilian music came from the favelas of Salvador and Rio. The slums of Kingston, Jamaica, bred reggae. New Orleans experienced its greatest cultural blossoming in the early 20th century, when it was full of shanties. Low rents make it possible to live on a shoestring, while the population density blends cultural influences. Cheap real estate could make the city a desirable place for struggling artists to live. The cultural heyday of New Orleans lies in the past. Katrina rebuilding gives the city a chance to become an innovator once again."
When I first read that I had a hard time taking it seriously. I asked Henry Farrell and the rest of the idiots at Crooked Timber if he could possibly be serious. I asked Max Sawicky, then of EPI. No one would come out and say that the argument was grotesque. The best Max could do was to describe the argument as made in earnest: the courtesy of members of a tribe towards their own.
Some things have changed, some haven't.

John Quiggin writes about utopia.

Farrell links to frequent commenter J.W. Mason writing at Jacobin/Hamas responding to Mike Beggs on Graeber. Mason
Mike Beggs read Debt, and he didn’t like it. The book’s “main arguments,” he says, are “wholly unconvincing.”

That’s too bad. Debt is certainly not without its flaws, but I think Jacobin has missed a good opportunity to connect David Graeber’s opus with the broader conversation economics on the Left. Mike sees Debt as “a move in an interdisciplinary struggle: anthropology against economics.”
Daniel Davies on culture. A rare passing reference.
Something like this has, of course, been mostly visible in the European countries which were hardest hit by the banking crisis. In Ireland and Spain, the cost of financial bailouts have been almost entirely met by spending cuts rather than tax increases. Once more, this compares poorly to Sweden, which financed its massive bank bailout program by raising the top rate of income tax to 58% and introducing a 20% VAT. But Sweden in the 90s was the kind of society in which this was possible - because there was a general culture of social solidarity and tax compliance. People were used to the overall budget and the overall funding of that budget as something that the whole Swedish population was involved in; if they had been used to thinking of taxes as something taken from part of the population and given to another part, presumably they would have had just the same reluctance to pay them.
"But Sweden in the 90s was the kind of society in which this was possible."

The forest for the trees. DD on the military and on the 2005 riots in France. My reference in a comment to Belle Waring was to this: "Working On A Groovy Thing" "Now, why don’t I have anything to say about the rioting in France?" My comment at Waring's post was the following, from Atrios, who's good for once.
I bounce back and forth between amusement and disgust at the right wing's bizarre and uninformed reaction to the events in Paris. Without getting into the of course important subtleties, think "60s race riots" as your comparison point, not "al Qaeda terrorists."

France treats its immigrant populations (which include, of course, 2nd and 3rd generation "immigrants") like shit. This isn't a "clash of cultures" it's rebellion by a repressed and marginalized underclass.
Linked here, where I linked also to Doug Ireland. In another post Atrios linked to Juan Cole. A third, very smart:
Connerly's France
Just to add on a bit to what Juan Cole wrote to reiterate a couple of things. France's approach to multiculturalism and race is essentially that of Ward Connerly you simply make it officially not exist. A couple years back Connerly pushed for a ballot measure in California which would've made it illegal for the state government, in most cases, to make any racial classifications by race. While I'm not entirely unsympathetic to the notion that such classification systems are problematic for various reasons, the alternative is simply having no information at all about race.

This is France's system. This is the conservative approach to race and society. This is what they've spent the last week mocking.

They're such idiots.
Davies in a comment in his post (replying to others)
If it’s not the case that poor policy-making has resulted in the maintenance of an economic underclass not integrated with the rest of French society,

well I see where you’re going, but this is theorising beyond the evidence. What there is decent evidence for is “they’re rioting because they’re poor and nobody respects them”.

I don’t think we can argue from there to

1) “they’re an economic underclass” (if the term “underclass” is to mean anything more than they’re poor), or that

2) “poor policy-making has resulted” in this, as opposed to the simple fact that France has been in recession or near-recession for about seven years. There were certainly towns in the Welsh Valleys that had unemployment of 40% and more for long periods in the 1980s and 90s, under completely different policies.

3) that they’re “not integrated with the rest of French society”. I would want to see much more evidence before taking this on trust, and I’d probably be looking for a rigorous definition of what “integrated” meant in this context.

They’re rioting because a) they’re poor b) there was an incident that got them angry c) they’ve been allowed to keep rioting and d) it hasn’t rained. The general conditions that lead to riots are pretty well-studied, and I would assume that the size and frequency of them follows something like a power law distribution; despite the conspiracy theorists, a riot is usually a self-organising phenomenon. Given this, I’m not sure that we need a specific theory of particular riots.
A pile on. The mediocrity of the people of the culture of ideas. See also 2004

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