Tuesday, June 19, 2018

I think there's something to be said for returning money to the old category of "shit". Most people still follow the old pattern, but ideological liberals try to deny it, and moralizing leftists prefer to think of good vs evil. I think going back to the past is enough.
Capital Grille opened in 1994, the year that Newt Gingrich—the philandering former house speaker who crusaded for family values even though he told his then-wife he was leaving her as she lay ill with cancer—led the GOP takeover of Congress. It later became a favorite haunt of the late Randy “Duke” Cunningham, the former member of Congress who went to prison for taking bribes from defense contractors. As recounted in “The Wrong Stuff,” by Jerry Kammer and Marcus Stern, Cunningham used to dine at the Capital Grille and invariably order a filet mignon – very well done, the worst way to eat steak – with iceberg lettuce salad and White Oak wine.

On one occasion he invited his dining companions back to the “Duke-Stir,” his 42-foot yacht (where he frequently took female guests) and invited them all to join him in the ship’s hot tub, which was filled with water siphoned directly from the polluted Potomac River. Cunningham stripped himself naked and immersed himself in the filthy water, but his guests were so repelled that no one joined him.
Posted on twitter. "liked" by Sri Thiruvadanthai

Replying to his snide dismissal of Pankaj Mishra in the LRB.  I remembered the story and thought it might be an appropriate response.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Vesely, continuing
Chapter 5, p. 249
In the current understanding, aesthetics covers the appreciation of beauty in everything from nature to art. Often it is simply identified with art, whose function par excellence is seen as the production of aesthetic objects. During the past hundred years, aesthetics has also taken on role oppositional to science and technology. This, as we shall see, is a misconception, and in fact a contradiction. Science, technology, and aesthetics belong together. The development of scientific objectivity depends, as we have already seen, on the subject responsible for the project of science. In other words, the more objective reality becomes, the more subjective must be the position of the individual who encounters in modern science by definition, as it were, only his or her own projection of reality. One might conclude that objectivity in science is in fact the product of human subjectivity.

The transformation of the traditional relationship of humans to the world did not affect only science, but became the basis for the gradual split of the whole of European culture into artificial domains of objectivity and subjectivity. With the first we are already familiar. The second contains everything that resists mathematization—qualities, perception, imagination, feeling, and fantasy. It was in this ambiguous domain of qualities that cannot be precisely determined, but at the same time cannot be completely suppressed or ignored, that aesthetics came into existence. It grew slowly out of repeated attempts to establish some kind of logic or order in the qual-itative world, aided as well by what could later be labeled a general aestheticization of culture.

The critical turning point in the formation of modern aesthetics was the contribution of Leibniz, who opposed the Cartesian autonomy of clear and distinct ideas that deprived human senses of any claim to understanding and truth. He firmly believed that our senses do, in their own way, reveal the nature and truth of the world. Unlike ideas, however, the senses are not clear and distinct but only clear and confused, and for that reason inferior. Somewhat poetically he compares them to the murmur of the sea:

"Although our senses relate to everything, it is not possible for our soul to attend to all individually, and that is why our confused sensations are the result of a variety, altogether infinite, of perceptions. It is almost like the confused murmur heard by those approaching the shores of the sea that arises from the accumulation of the reverberations of the innumerable waves." Leibniz's understanding of the senses is still based on the integrity of the scholastic world in which the sensible or visible is a manifestation of the universal order. This manifestation is also our main encounter with beauty, in which the perfection of the order is revealed. What is new in Leibniz is the shift toward individualizing such experiences, which coincides with his notion of the individual soul as monad. As he sees it,
the beauty of the universe could be learned in each soul, could one unravel all its folds which develop perceptibly only with time. But as each distinct perception of the soul includes an infinity of confused perceptions which embrace all the universe, the soul itself does not know the things which it perceives, except in so far as it has perceptions of them which are distinct and heightened and it has perceptions in proportion to its distinct form. Each soul knows the infinite, knows everything, but confusedly.
Such confusion arose, Leibniz and his contemporaries thought, because perceptions could not account for their own reason, because their origins and meaning remained hidden. For Leibniz himself and others who believed in providence, this obscurity was not a significant problem, because the unknown, inexplicable, and mysterious was seen as part of the divine plan of things. However, for those who believed in the transparency of the world, in reason, the inexplicable was very troubling. It was difficult to accept that whole areas of reality, such as works of art or the landscape, stirred strong feelings and a sense of beauty that could not be ignored yet could not be explained. This experience was described already in the seventeenth century as the "je ne sais quoi—I know not what."

Dominique Bouhours, who devoted a whole treatise to the issue, declares: "One can say with certainty that 'je ne sais quoi' is one of the greatest wonders and one of the greatest mysteries of nature." Montesquieu, some eighty years later, writes: "There is something in people and in things, an invisible charm, a natural grace, which cannot be defined and which one is forced to name le ne sais quoi.' It seems to me that this is an effect based primarily on surprise." The self-sufficiency of the Leibnizian monad was what brought the inexplicable into the domain of subjectivity, "each mind being as it were a little divinity in its own department."

With Leibniz, we stand on the threshold of a new epoch, in which the harmony and beauty of the world, revealed gradually in a dialectical process, became a field of aesthetic experience dependent on the cultivation of taste and on the role of the genius. The new experience created a distance from things and events, thereby contributing to the formation of modern aestheticism and historicism. Aestheticization itself is closely linked with the relativity of taste and the formalization of experience. 

--Aesthetics was an invention of the eighteenth century and the age of reason, a theory of art in the shadow of production, as something to be taken or left, optional, superfluous, “parasitic”.

--The Baroque was considered decadent precisely for the discord between easy artifice and rough integrity, but the period was focused less on the balance of ideal and worldly order as in the Renaissance, or on the more extreme dichotomy of otherworldliness and corruption -the panicked pretense of Counter-Reformation Mannerism- than on a worldly sophistication as such: the narrativizing of ideal order. The Baroque is the culture of monarchy and aristocracy at the beginning of the age of theater, the age of the bourgeoisie.
Leibniz: the unified and ideal in the multiform.
I read Vesely years before I returned to writing, but I didn't cite him. I need to.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Sex, Sport, and Why Track and Field’s New Rules on Intersex Athletes Are Essential
Last week, track and field’s world governing body limited entry into women’s events to athletes who have testosterone levels that are capable of being produced solely by ovaries.

These rules apply across the board to athletes however they presented at birth. Advocates for intersex and transgender athletes have vigorously attacked the International Association of Athletics Federations’ new rules, but they are an extraordinary compromise for women’s sports, including for traditional feminist proponents of equal access to sports for girls and women, guaranteed in the civil rights legislation known as Title IX.

Understanding the rules and why they make sense is hard. They are based in biology people don’t know or don’t like to talk about and, let’s be honest, at least in some circles, they’re politically incorrect. They force us to talk about women’s bodies when it is increasingly taboo to do so, and they run counter to the movement that seeks to include transgender and intersex people in social institutions based on their gender identity rather than their biology.
via Leiter, who calls it "interesting and sensible", rather than simply "right".

Transhumanism and Transgender

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Bertram again.
I know you’ve all been waiting expectantly …. My book Do States Have the Right to Exclude Immigrants? is published in the UK today by Polity Press (those of you in North America will have to wait until Wiley publish it in July). The book challenges the assumption that lies behind most debates on immigration, namely that states have a discretion to do pretty much as they like and may set their policy according to the interests of their own citizens.

The book has three chapters....
The first commenter nails it. “This sounds like a job for InnatelySolomonicBourgeoisMan.”

one repeat among others: Bertram on Wolfgang Streeck.

Compare, now, Varoufakis on Italy.
Had President Mattarella refused Mr Salvini the post of Interior Minister, on the basis that he rejects such a monstrous project, I would be compelled to support him. But, no, Mr Mattarella had no such qualms. Not even for a moment did he consider vetoing the formation of a 5S-Lega government on the basis that there is no place in a European country for scenes involving security forces rounding up hundreds of thousands of people, caging them, and forcing them into trains, buses and ferries before expelling them goodness knows where.

No, Mr Mattarella vetoed the formation of a government backed by an absolute majority of lawmakers for another reason: His disapproval of the Finance Minister designate. And what was this disapproval based on? The fact that the said gentleman, while fully qualified for the job, and despite his declaration that he would abide by the EU’s eurozone rules, has in the past expressed doubts about the eurozone’s architecture and has favoured a plan of euro exit just in case it is needed. It was as if President Mattarella were to declare that reasonableness in a prospective Finance Minister constitutes grounds for his or her exclusion from the post! 
Barrons: Italy Without the Euro Would Not Be Argentina or Turkey—It Would Be the U.K.
Take out Greater London—the prosperity of which depends to an uncomfortable degree on servicing oligarchs from the Middle East and the former Soviet Union—and the U.K. is one of the poorest countries in Western Europe.
Venezuelan refugees are a bigger and bigger issue in Colombia and elsewhere. Migrants from Zimbabwe are threatened in South Africa. I've heard nothing, ever, from Bertram and his ilk about the rights of Palestinian refugees, long term residents in Lebanon and Jordan, or about Syrian refugees in those states now. Bangladesh is struggling with the Rohingya. Oxbridge, or European, technocratic universalism is a form of exceptionalism.

Linked in the repeat above, Adam Tooze reviews Streeck's How Will Capitalism End? in the LRB
The weird geometry of Streeck’s Staatsvolk-Marktvolk juxtaposition points to an inconsistency at the heart of his agenda. When Streeck says he wants to put society in control he can expect general agreement. This, indeed, is pure Habermas, reasserting the lifeworld against the system. It is the boilerplate of social democracy. But the question it dodges is the all-important one: who or what is ‘the social’? The disagreement between Habermas and Streeck, put in Habermas’s terms, is whether to move up and forwards to a future cosmopolitan order, or down and backwards to the nation. But as Streeck himself asks when he has his critical sociology hat on, what about class divisions within the social, whether at the local, national or European level? In some of the best passages in How Will Capitalism End? Streeck explains that the distinction between ‘society’ and ‘economy’ that has structured the discipline of sociology, the dyad that made it possible to speak so confidently of putting ‘society’ in charge of the ‘economy’, was in fact an artefact of the peculiar class balance of the 1950s and 1960s. Streeck’s entire narrative rests on the claim that this class balance was ruptured in the 1970s. Thatcher let the cat out of the bag with her declaration that ‘there is no such thing’ as society, just ‘individual men and women and … families’. To which the response of critical theory should not be a pantomimic ‘Oh yes there is and it should be in charge,’ but to ask what configuration of social forces made it possible for Thatcher to make that claim and how might it be reversed.
Sebald. The inability to mourn, to be fully human. Streeck is trying to describe, hoping for, a normal Germany, to match Greece, Italy et al.  Tooze promotes a crap universalism.

Adam Tooze "holds the Shelby Cullom Davis chair of History at Columbia University and serves as Director of the European Institute...."
Travel Partnership
New York is home, but once you are bitten the Wanderlust never dies, and Adam is a regular guide on historical and culinary tours in Europe organized by the exclusive tour operator Conley & Silvers. Our featured tour in 2017 is Wine Roads and War Stories – a luxurious trip through Champagne, Alsace and Burgundy. Plans for the future include Switzerland and the Italian lakes and historic Spain.
"The Hamptons is not a defensible position... Very hard to defend a low-lying beach. Eventually people will come for you."

Blyth

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A new tag for Deleuze. I should've done it long ago.
For all I've written, about the Baroque, narrative, Modernism, Mannerism and the fading of the ideal, I've never read The Fold.
The decadence of mannerism presents as the self-narrativizing of a concrete idealism, attempting to inoculate itself against increasingly dominant narrative (relativist) culture. Mannerism is the model of aristocratic art in an age of incipient democracy. The baroque is the same model of conservatism in the age of a fully ascendant democracy: the age of theater.
I referred to it in passing, but it belongs here and I've never bothered to do it.  Now that I'm reading it, it's everything I assumed and more. All I have to do is put in a few references.  He imagines he's creating concepts but he's following a path.

Philosophers are so predictable.  That they insist on seeing themselves as apart from other writers of fiction is more absurd as time goes on. As always, for philosophers and theologians, history is bunk.

Historians win. Vesely Chapter 4, p. 176
The most significant change in the representation of reality took place in the period traditionally associated with the formation and development of modern science and with the beginning of its dominant role in modern culture. Though a connection between the two is plausible, it could be misleading if by "science" we understand the context-free, mathematically structured knowledge that was developed later within new disciplines generally called "natural science." The science of the transitional period between the end of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the eighteenth is instead closely linked with philosophy, metaphysics, theology, and, in a less obvious sense, with the culture as a whole.1

The transitional period overlaps significantly with the period generally termed "Baroque," and the science of this era unquestionably shares many of the characteristics of Baroque culture. We don't usually think of prominent figures such as Sir Isaac Newton or Christiaan Huygens as Baroque scientists, yet we would probably agree that Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. the great philosopher and mathematician who was involved in a serious metaphysical and theological argument with Newton, is a Baroque thinker par excellence. Architecture was similarly involved in these issues. The works of Christopher Wren, Claude Perrault, and Guarino Guarini represent not only different tendencies in Baroque architecture but also different trends in Baroque science. The affinity between science and Baroque culture hints at deeper dimensions of representation, not yet fully acknowledged.

Because we usually see Baroque science as an independent domain of knowledge, we tend to overlook the fact that science was then an integral part of the general intelligibility of culture and that it becomes autonomous or independent only under particular and more precisely defined conditions. Indeed, such conditions had never existed before, and their emergence was one of the main characteristics of the transitional period. They were created in unique historical circumstances, by attempts to over-come a deep cultural crisis. I shall say more about that process later. In the meantime, it is important to describe the tendencies that shaped the transitional period as a whole. If we look at the politics, philosophy, literature, visual arts, and everyday life of that time, we find a common search for order and certainty in an environment dominated by fragmentation, relativism of values, skepticism, and pessimism. The radicality of the response, which was based on a dogmatic faith in the mathematical nature of the world order, created for the first time in human history a mode of representation that could claim both that it was fully independent and. at the same time, that it could be universally applied. Because any representation, despite its claims to universality, is inevitably partial, there is always a residuum of reality left out, which has to define its own mode of representation. The result is a duplication that may best be described as "divided representation." A classic example of divided representation is the double standard of truth that has plagued the history of modern science and theology. In architecture, divided representation finds its first clear manifestation in Claude Perrault's distinction between positive and arbitrary beauty, a division that foreshadowed later tensions and conflicts between experience, based on the continuity of tradition, and artificially constructed systems. More recently, divided representation reveals itself as a painful conflict between primary cultural values and technology, which is governed by economic imperatives.
continuing 

Monday, May 14, 2018

As usual for me it's less about the the things themselves then the changes they mark, changes in the meanings of words, of liberalism, in America and in NYC.  My arguments about language, and Israel/Palestine, have been consistent for decades. The pedants who claim always to be standing on solid ground have never noticed the ground shifting, and them drifting with it.

Still a bit shocking.


NYT Opinion I Helped Start the Gaza Protests. I Don’t Regret It.
RAFAH, Gaza — The seed that grew into Gaza’s Great Return March was planted Dec. 9, just a few days after President Trump announced he would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Palestinians long have held onto the dream of Jerusalem as our own capital, or at least as a shared capital in a country that offers equal rights to everyone. The feeling of betrayal and distress in Gaza was palpable. To clear my head, my friend Hasan and I took a walk along the border, which we do every now and again.

“There lies our land,” I said to Hasan, as I looked at the trees on the other side of the barbed-wire fence that confines us. “It’s just a few kilometers away from here.” And yet, because of that fence and the soldiers who guard it, it is so far away. Most people my age have never been permitted to leave Gaza, since Egypt controls the southern land exit and Israel restricts access to the north — as well as forbids use of our sea and airport (or at least what’s left of it after three wars).

That thought led to a wish expressed on Facebook. And it struck such a chord with people in Gaza that it set off a movement that culminated in the historic protests that have taken place over the last month. Tragically, Israel reacted even more brutally than I expected — and I’ve lived through three of its wars. The latest estimate of the number of protesters killed is 104; more than 50 died just on Monday. Thousands more have been injured. But our voices needed to be heard, and they have been.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

updating
College-educated Americans speak about the economic problems of the working class in terms of trends that can be seen in tables and graphs. Those on the left criticize the federal minimum wage as being too low, while those on the right bemoan the erosion of work incentives. But the people who are experiencing these adverse economic trends express themselves differently, using a moral language that is often rooted in attitudes about work and race.

This was first noted by the sociologist Michèle Lamont in her book “The Dignity of Working Men.” She found that white working-class men often define their self-worth through their ability to lead disciplined, responsible lives...
This was first noted by the sociologist Michèle Lamont...

Obviously, it wasn't. And the premise, the first paragraph, is obscene.

history, and some fun.

I made a few glib comments recently about sociology, talking to a historian of 19th century Germany, and he agreed without caveat.  I've blamed Weber for modern journalism and gotten smiles, a better response now than a few years ago.

The blank naiveté at the core of modern social science has always annoyed me. I've documented it at it's worst but haven't picked it apart.
...the impersonal in art and technocracy, though the product of the same events are very different things.
The passage that sentence appears in makes the point but it's not strong enough.

Arendt hated social science. She's the heir to the humanist tradition in an anti-humanist age, but fighting for it rather than merely acknowledging its fading. And her work has some of the weakness of writing for function.

Scientific American: Who Speaks Up in the Face of Uncivil Behavior?
On the one hand, you might hypothesize that people who are more aggressive or hostile by nature are more likely to openly challenge a stranger. On the other hand, speaking out against injustice could be seen in a more positive light, as an act of maturity. Emerging research supports the latter idea—that people who stand up to incivility have a strong sense of altruism, combined with self-confidence. Understanding what motivates these heroic individuals could lead to more effective ways of curbing everyday immoral behavior.
"Emerging research" confirms what is, or was common knowledge. Social science research is full of this crap, the product of a refusing to engage fully with a given situation. The passive observer is simply a note-taker, as if note-taking means objectivity. The result in fact is lazy, flabby, passive subjectivity, and a weakened flabby science.

Persuasion persuades
In a peer-reviewed study we published this month, we find op-eds do change minds. After reading opinion pieces, we found people were far more likely to agree with the author’s point of view.

Monday, April 30, 2018

"Comedians, talk-show hosts, and satirists are better equipped than professional journalists to refute the fictions that clog the news stream"



I keep this one on file. It came in handy this week.
etc.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Still working. Bit by bit.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Deadspin:  How America's Largest Local TV Owner Turned Its News Anchors Into Soldiers In Trump's War On The Media
The video has been seen 4.6 million times in 24 hours, at Deadspin and embedded all over the web, including NY Magazine, Baltimore Sun, Mother Jones,  etc.  Deadspin is a sports page.

A year ago: "Comedians, talk-show hosts, and satirists are better equipped than professional journalists to refute the fictions that clog the news stream"

with a link that connects this to the previous post.
another one for the archives. you can't make this shit up

Farrell
But there’s also a much bigger point there, about the kind of space that the Internet has created. Liberalism of the small-l kind goes together with a strong emphasis on free speech. The implicit assumption is that we will all be better off in a world where everyone can say whatever they want, to whoever they want, even if it is inconvenient, or wrong minded, or crazy.

However, this assumption rests on empirical assumptions as well as normative ones. And as speech becomes cheaper, it may be that those assumptions don’t hold in the same way that they used to (see further Zeynep Tufekci, Rick Hasen and Timothy Wu, as well as Molly Roberts’ forthcoming book).
Hasen: "Cheap Speech and What It Has Done (to American Democracy)"
Wu: "Is the First Amendment Obsolete?"

"Cheap Speech" and "Low-Value" speech

Piketty on twitter
New research on WID.world : Brahmin Left vs Merchant Right: Rising inequality and the changing structure of political conflict. In order to understand the rise of "populism", one first needs to analze the rise of "elitism". http://wid.world/news-article/new-paper-on-rising-inequality-and-the-changing-structure-of-political-conflict-wid-world-working-paper-2018-7/

"Brahmin Left." Piketty, economist and friend of Bourdieu, misses the distinction from aristocrats and technocrats
Harry Brighouse
-I would say, in fact, that the first amendment tradition has a terribly distorting effect on American public discussions of free speech. 
-I think there is a very strong case that hateful epithets can be distinguished and treated differently from propositional content, and do not merit protection under “the right to speak what one sees as the truth”.
Chris Bertram
The right frame, in my view, is to think of the state as “we, the people” and to ask what conditions need to be in place for the people, and for each citizen, to play their role in effective self-government. Once you look at things like that then various speech restrictions naturally suggest themselves. 
Henry Farrell
I’ve suggested that academic freedom is a good thing on pragmatic grounds, but also made clear that it fundamentally depends on public willingness to delegate some degree of self-governance to the academy. If the public decides that academic freedom isn’t working out in terms of the goods it provides, then too bad for academic freedom. 
Mark Tushnet
Is the loss of meaning from paraphrase or restatement or statement (in the case of nonrepresentational art) small enough to make nonrepresentational art sufficiently similar to expository writing that it should be covered in the same way that such writing is?
Brian Leiter
Much, perhaps most, speech, in fact, has little or no positive value all things considered, so the idea that its free expression is prima facie a good thing should be rejected. And since the only good reasons in favor of a legal regime of generally free expression pertain to the epistemic reliability of regulators of speech, we should focus on how to increase their reliabilty, rather than assume, as so much of popular and even some philosophical discourse does, that unfettered speech has inherent value.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Ghost of Panofsky
Walter Friedlaender, one of Panofsky's teachers and a lifelong friend, related how to Erwin Panofsky's cradle in Hannover there hurried two fairies, Wealth and Intelligence. The third, Good Looks, didn't make it In her stead came a fairy who said, "Whichever book you open, you will find precisely the passage you need." 
which explains, continuing

Bertram
My book is a work in political philosophy rather than an intervention in current debates (though it can’t help being that to some extent). Let me just sketch the main argument and then I’ll get on to some further remarks about our current predicament. States are compulsory and coercive bodies. Legitimate states use that coercive force to limit the freedom of people subject to them. But there’s normally a quid pro quo involved: the state limits our freedom but also protects us from the threat that we, as individuals, pose to one another’s freedom. This tradeoff provides us with reasons to comply with the state’s authority. But unlike resident citizens would-be immigrants get all of the coercion with none of the protection. The world is divided into many states, some of which do a much better job for their subjects than others. And mobility is something that human beings have practised since forever. To make the regulation of migration legitimate, states ought to comply with principles that ought to be acceptable to everyone. Insofar as such principles don’t exist, legitimate states need to be working towards creating them (just as they regulate other areas of international life). Unfortunately, far from doing this, states at the moment are actively trying to subvert or evade even the paltry international conventions that currently exist, such as the Refugee Convention. In doing so, they are locking millions into poverty, exposing hundreds of thousands each year to avoidable death, separating families, and exposing others to statuses that make them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. States that act like this have lost their moral authority to control their borders.
Arendt
It is against the background of these experiences that I propose to raise the question of violence in the political realm. This is not easy; what Sorel remarked sixty years ago, 'The problems of violence still remain very obscure," is as true today as it was then. I mentioned the general reluctance to deal with violence as a phenomenon in its own right, and I must now qualify this statement. If we turn to discussions of the phenomenon of power, we soon find that there exists a consensus among political theorists from Left to Right to the effect that violence is nothing more than the most flagrant manifestation of power. "All politics is a struggle for power; the ultimate kind of power is violence," said C. Wright Mills, echoing, as it were, Max Weber's definition of the state as "the rule of men over men based on the means of legitimate, that is allegedly legitimate, violence." The consensus is very strange; for to equate political power with "the organization of violence" makes sense only if one follows Marx's estimate of the state as an instrument of oppression in the hands of the ruling class. Let at therefore turn to authors who do not believe that the body politic and its laws and institutions are merely coercive superstructures, secondary manifestations of some underlying forces. Let on tun, for instance, to Bertrand de Jouvenel, whose book Power is perhaps the most prestigious and, anyway, the most interesting recent treatise on the subject. "To him," he writes, "who contemplates the unfolding of the ages war presents itself as an activity of States which pertains to their essence." This may prompt us to ask whether the end of warfare, then, would mean the end of states. Would the disappearance of violence in relationships between states spell the end of power?

The answer, it seems, will depend on what we understand by power. And power, it tuns out, is an instrument of rule, while rule, we are told, owes its existence to "the instinct of domination."54 We are immediately reminded of what Sartre said about violence when we read in Jouvenel that "a man feels himself more of a man when he is imposing himself and making others the instruments of his will," which gives him "incomparable pleasure." "Power," said Voltaire, "consists in making others act as I choose"; it is present wherever I have the chance "to assert my own will against the resistance" of others, said Max Weber, reminding on of Clausewitz's definition of war as "an act of violence to compel the opponent to do as we wish." The word, we are told by Strausz-Hupé signifies "the power of man over man."  To go back to Jouvenel: "To command and to be obeyed: without that, there is no Power—with it no other attribute is needed for it to be.... The thing without which it cannot be: that essence is command." If the essence of power is the effectiveness of command, then there is no greater power than that which grows out of the barrel of a gun, and it would be difficult to say in "which way the order given by a policeman is different from that given by a gunman." (I am quoting from the important hook The Notion of the State, by Alexander Passerin d'Entreves, the only author I know who is aware of the importance of distinguishing between violence and power. "We have to decide whether and in what sense 'power' can be distinguished from 'force', to as-certain how the fact of using force according to law changes the quality of force itself and presents on with an entirely different picture of human relations," since "force, by the very fact of being qualified, ceases to be force." But even this distinction, by far the most sophisticated and thoughtful one in the literature, does not go to the roots of the matter...

However, there exists another tradition and another vocabulary no less old and time-honored. When the Athenian city-state called its constitution an isonomy, or the Romans spoke of the civitas as their form of government, they had in mind a concept of power and law whose essence did not rely on the command-obedience relationship and which did not identify power and rule or law and command. It was to these examples that the men of the eighteenth-century revolutions turned when they ransacked the archives of antiquity and constituted a form of government, a republic, where the rule of law, resting on the power of the people, would put an end to the rule of man over man, which they thought was a "government fit for slaves." They too, unhappily, still talked about obedience—obedience to laws instead of men; but what they actually meant was support of the laws to which the citizenry had given in consent.. Such support is never unquestioning, and as far as reliability is concerned it can-not match the indeed "unquestioning obedience" that an act of violence can exact—the obedience every criminal can count on when he snatches my pocketbook with the help of a knife or robs a bank with the help of a gun. It is the people's support that lends power to the institutions of a country, and this support is but the continuation of the consent that brought the laws into existence to begin with Under conditions of representative government the people are supposed to rule those who govern them. All political institutions are manifestations and materializations of power; they petrify and decay as soon as the living power of the people ceases to uphold them. This is what Madison meant when he said "all governments rest on opinion," a word no less true Inc the various forms of monarchy than for democracies. ("To suppose that majority rule functions only in democracy is a fantastic illusion," as Jouvenel points out: "The king, who is but one solitary individual, stands far more in need of the general support of Society than any other form of government." Even the tyrant, the One who rules against all, needs helpers in the business of violence, though their number may be rather restricted.) However, the strength of opinion, that is, the power of the government, depends on numbers; it is "in proportion to the number with which it is associated,". and tyranny, as Montesquieu discovered, is therefore the most violent and least powerful of forms of government. Indeed one of the most obvious distinctions between pence and violence is that power always stands in need of numbers, whereas violence up to a point can manage without them because it relies on implements.
See also.
Beginning in the 1950s and blossoming since 1961, a major scholarly controversy has sucked The Federalist into its gravitational field: What was its role in the great shift from republicanism to liberalism in American political thought? These complex bodies of ideas and practices have almost no direct links to today’s Republican party or modern American liberalism; moreover, these terms have become so vague that many historians have abandoned both words as useless.

Desiring to preserve liberty and to achieve the common good, Americans established republican forms of government—in which the people held ultimate political power, entrusting it to representatives responsible to them. Every previous republic, however, had collapsed into anarchy or tyranny. The precondition for a successful republic, therefore, was to maintain the people's virtue —their willingness to sacrifice special interests in the service of the public interest.

By contrast, those who espoused liberalism favored each person's right to pursue his or her talents and abilities to the fullest extent possible. The strongest case for a republic, they argued, was precisely that it would enable each citizen to develop those talents; a republic should take the greatest possible pains not to restrain that process but to
guide it so that individuals‘ pursuit of their own interests would foster the public interest.

Scholars who identify a great transition from republicanism to liberalism marked by the making of the Constitution and those who insist that the Constitution maintained the American commitment to republicanism find ammunition in The Federalist. That they can read it for such clashing purposes. however. undermines this argument's usefulness for understanding The Federalist or the historical context that produced it. Today, historians and legal scholars such as Jack N. Rakove, Bruce Ackerman, William E. Nelson, and the present writer are moving beyond this debate's stale polarities. Instead. they suggest, American constitutionalism embodies an ever-shifting balance between these two bodies of thought; there was thus no dramatic sea-change from one to the other.
"The sea-change is real, and the victory of liberalism over republicanism connects to the victory of technocracy and scientism. Virtue is an explicit prior. There's no way it could be expected to prevail in the age of objectivity, reason, and "value free" science. But capitalism can thrive. "

Sunday, March 18, 2018

3/24
It was going to be new post, but they make a nice pair.

Jane Mayer
I joined the NRA at camp, won sharpshooter medal, was 8 when JFK was shot, 13 when MLK & RFK were shot, as a reporter I observe & don't join anything, but have seen enough innocent slaughter: I'm joining my daughter and the other kids at the march today.
repeat
Political scientists seek to understand politics, not engage in politics. Yet our profession has always had strong normative commitments at its foundation: a conviction that peace is preferable to war, freedom to tyranny, justice to injustice, equality to inequality, democracy to authoritarianism. As John Adams wrote in 1780, in the Massachusetts Constitution, the fundamental premise of American self-government is that it “be a government of laws, and not of men.”

It is in this spirit that we are voicing our collective concern about Donald Trump.
"I asked a Marine if he was a soldier first or citizen. He said 'Semper Fi'."

Objectivity is impossible, and the ideal of objectivity ends in passivity. I've said it a thousand times; I've watched people beginning to come to terms with it. I've said that a thousand times too.

After the inauguration, Washington DC
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Anchorman, etc
imdb
Repeat, two years ago

"That explains it." It still does.
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Leiter: "...but given that she's an assistant professor in a field with no discernible wissenschaftlich standards..."

Rauchway, repeats of repeats, originally here
[A] traditional defense of academic freedom... goes something like this: Academic freedom predates free speech. Although Prussia gave constitutional protection to Lehrfreiheit in 1850 (“science and its teaching shall be free”), academic freedom generally does not enjoy legal protection outside of contractual guarantees; rather, it rests on the authority and ability of a community of competent scholars to police their own discourse and on the willingness of universities to affirm this authority and ability.
Kant and de Maistre (start here)
Kant, What is Enlightenment?
Thus we observe here as elsewhere in human affairs, in which almost everything is paradoxical, a surprising and unexpected course of events: a large degree of civic freedom appears to be of advantage to the intellectual freedom of the people, yet at the same time it establishes insurmountable barriers. A lesser degree of civic freedom, however, creates room to let that free spirit expand to the limits of its capacity. 
de Maistre
Everything that constrains a man, strengthens him.
Joshua Yoder: The Case Of Human Plurality: Hannah Arendt's Critique Of Individualism In Enlightenment And Romantic Thinking [pdf]
According to Leonard Krieger, the concept of individual freedom, or "individual secular liberty," characterized political thought in Western Europe as early as the seventeenth century. The freedom of the individual depended on maintaining some kind of distance from political authority. In Germany, however, "individualized freedom", or Freiheit, had to contend with another notion of freedom already present: Libertaet, which referred to the rights of German princes within the Holy Roman Empire. After 1650, as German princes began to exercise more political control, they interpreted Libertaet as the freedom to rule without Imperial interference. The idea of Libertaet, along with centralized administration and growing bureaucracies, changed the German principalities into sovereign territorial states. Yet, within these states the individual, and individual rights, still occupied an ambiguous role. Krieger argues
The German princes never ceased to feel themselves aristocrats as well as monarchs, not only personally because of their family origins and connections, not only socially because of their special dependence on the nobility worked by the peculiarities of the German economic and social structure, but even institutionally, because the social and constitutional structures were so integrally intertwined that the very development of the German princes toward absolute sovereignty in their own territory was at the same time a development of their aristocratic rights within the [Holy Roman] German Empire. It was this institutional connection between sovereign power and aristocratic liberties... that made this kind of Libertaet the representative expression of German political liberty in the old regime.
From 1650-1750, as the more individualistic ideas of Freiheit spread into Germany from enlightened thinkers in Western Europe, they were transformed to fit the prevalent ideas of Libertaet, resulting in the notion of enlightened absolutism. German thinkers "adopted western assumptions which made individuals the primary units of society and individual rights the basis and the limitation of the state, but they interpreted these assumptions in a way compatible with the preservation of the peculiar German corporate rights and made the prince arbiter over all." Using natural law, German thinkers were able to combine inalienable rights and political obligation in the form of an absolutist state. After 1750, political ideas in Western Europe continued to further reflect notions of "material individualism,"but in Germany "natural law absolutism" held sway in both theory and practice until the French Revolution.

[Leonard Krieger, The German Idea of Freedom: History of a Political Tradition]
What is Enlightenment?
I have emphasized the main point of the enlightenment--man's emergence from his self-imposed nonage-- primarily in religious matters, because our rulers have no interest in playing the guardian to their subjects in the arts and sciences. Above all, nonage in religion is not only the most harmful but the most dishonorable. But the disposition of a sovereign ruler who favors freedom in the arts and sciences goes even further: he knows that there is no danger in permitting his subjects to make public use of their reason and to publish their ideas concerning a better constitution, as well as candid criticism of existing basic laws. We already have a striking example [of such freedom], and no monarch can match the one whom we venerate.

But only the man who is himself enlightened, who is not afraid of shadows, and who commands at the same time a well disciplined and numerous army as guarantor of public peace--only he can say what [the sovereign of] a free state cannot dare to say: "Argue as much as you like, and about what you like, but obey!" Thus we observe here as elsewhere in human affairs, in which almost everything is paradoxical, a surprising and unexpected course of events: a large degree of civic freedom appears to be of advantage to the intellectual freedom of the people, yet at the same time it establishes insurmountable barriers. A lesser degree of civic freedom, however, creates room to let that free spirit expand to the limits of its capacity. Nature, then, has carefully cultivated the seed within the hard core--namely the urge for and the vocation of free thought. And this free thought gradually reacts back on the modes of thought of the people, and men become more and more capable of acting in freedom. At last free thought acts even on the fundamentals of government and the state finds it agreeable to treat man, who is now more than a machine, in accord with his dignity.
When I first read it the contradictions annoyed me; they were obvious and stupid. I didn't have the patience to read for context. Later it made sense, but I'm just disgusted that the contradictions are simply ignored.
Although he took a keen interest in the great British philosophers - he later discovered and edited some new letters by Hume - he shared Cassirer's dismay at the blinkered approach of the analytical philosophers who dominated the Oxford scene: ignoring the historical context of thinkers such as Leibniz, the only thing they wanted to know was whether his statements were true according to their own criteria.
Formalism and anti-humanist pseudoscience in the age of Weber: the age of plumbers.
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serendipity. continuing here

Monday, February 26, 2018

The irony of the masters

The Enlightenment: History of an Idea
Vincenzo Ferrone

It just doesn't stop.
Paraphrasing the great Karl Marx in the Manifesto of the Communist Party, one might say that a specter is haunting Europe: it is the specter of the Enlightenment. It looks sad and emaciated, and, though laden with honors, bears the scars of many a lost battle. However, it is undaunted and has not lost its satirical grin. In fact it has donned new clothes and continues to haunt the dreams of those who believe that the enigma of life is all encompassed within the design of a shadowy and mysterious god, rather than in the dramatic recognition of the human being’s freedom and responsibility.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, some thought that it was time to liquidate what was le of the heritage of the Enlightenment. Surely they could now, nally, lay to rest that ambitious and troublesome cultural revolution, a movement that in the course of the eighteenth century had overcome a thou- sand obstacles to overthrow the seemingly immutable tenets of Ancien Régime Europe. One could at last put paid to the fanciful Enlightenment notion of the emancipation of man through man, i.e., to the idea that human beings could become enfranchised by their own forces alone, including the deployment of knowledge old and new that had been facilitated by the emergence of new social groups armed with a formidable weapon: critical thought.

Sapere aude—dare to know. Come of age. Do not be afraid to think with your own head. Leave aside all ancient auctoritates and the viscous condition- ing of tradition. us wrote the normally self-controlled Immanuel Kant in a moment of rare enthusiasm in 1784, citing the Enlightenment motto. However in our day, under the disguise of modern liberals, some eminent reactionaries have even entertained the dream that it might be possible to restore all the Ancien Régime’s reassuring certainties without ring a single shot. ey would all come ooding back: God’s rights (and therefore those of ecclesiastical hierarchies), inequality’s prescriptive and natural character, legal sanction for the rights of the few, the primacy of duties over rights, the clash of communities and ethnicities against any cosmopolitan or universalistic mirage.
"...it is the specter of the Enlightenment. It looks sad and emaciated, and, though laden with honors, bears the scars of many a lost battle. However, it is undaunted and has not lost its satirical grin."

Alex Rosenberg says academic philosophy is non-hierarchical, or "flat". Younger academic pedants disagree.  Leiter calls it a "slave rebellion"

"Irony is the glory of slaves." Milosz was a humanist. The satirical grin of the Enlightenment was the grin of those who lost.

Pinker's book is being mocked. Ferrone's is being taken very seriously.

How many times?