An Unenviable Situation

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Still playing with it. The old explaining the new.

We can’t re-fight old battles every time a subject comes up; there are limits to the human capacity for recall. Years after spending time and effort to come to a conclusion it’s the conclusion not the process that sticks in the mind. But that means that no matter how hard we once fought our response now is based on received opinion, even if received from our younger selves. So it’s good occasionally to revisit the past in detail, especially in cases where our relation to the past is the thing under debate. 

1

A North Texas school district apologized late Thursday after an administrator advised teachers that if they have books about the Holocaust in their classrooms, they should also include reading materials that have “opposing” perspectives of the genocide that killed millions of Jews. 

2

Mr. Döpfner said he plans to grow Politico’s footprint both in the U.S. and overseas by introducing new industry-focused products and services and by broadening the scope of coverage. He said he expects Politico’s main news offerings, now free, to go behind a paywall in the medium term.

He also said he expects Politico staffers to adhere to Axel Springer-wide guiding principles that have raised controversy at times at its German properties—though they won’t be required to sign a written commitment to the principles like employees in Germany. The principles include support for a united Europe, Israel’s right to exist and a free-market economy, among others. 

3

It would be an excellent idea to call in respectable, accredited anti-Semites as liquidators of property.

To the people they would vouch for the fact that we do not wish to bring about the impoverishment of the countries that we leave.

At first they must not be given large fees for this; otherwise we shall spoil our instruments and make them despicable as “stooges of the Jews.”

Later their fees will increase, and in the end we shall have only Gentile officials in the countries from which we have emigrated.

The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies. We want to emigrate as respected people.

Efforts by German authorities to clamp down on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign took a sinister turn recently after a Jewish-German singer and daughter of a Holocaust survivor was warned that a concert in which she is scheduled to perform would be cancelled if she made any remarks in support of BDS.

History needs to be re-argued because without the argument history becomes catechism: anti-historical. 

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

A

We are being told that in effect the decision of the current President and a House of Congress to investigate a violent assault on the seat of government can be stymied by a former President who led the attack! Indeed, the same former President who was put on trial for the crime and had a big majority of the Senate (57 votes for conviction) vote to convict him. And we are told that this is not because of any legitimate authority or privilege but simply because the courts – which are in essence under the management of the highest echelon of the legal profession – can’t decide things quickly enough. And by quickly enough here we mean they can’t process the question in less than a year.

They say – usually in very different contexts – that justice delayed is justice denied. If Shaub’s prediction is right, that is certainly the case here. And that is a grave indictment of the whole legal profession, especially the elite community of law professors who largely define – on the right and left – how the law functions in our society. The legal profession is one of the groups the Republic relies upon for protection and here it’s pretty clearly and disastrously failed.

Shaub: "As for the bottom line, it seems quite likely that the committee is correct that, as a legal matter, it is entitled to most of the information and testimony it seeks. But, as a practical matter, the committee may never receive it."

Shaub is an academic describing the process of lawyering. Academia tends towards passivity or moralism, two forms of evasion.  Prosecutors don't socialize with defense attorneys, but academics are all of the same tribe. That's Balkin's weakness. It takes a lot to pull him out of his shell.

And again: when a non-state actor filters information it becomes a publisher of it. Facebook is not a "platform". But Balkin had a point I didn't admit the first time. Research and targeted advertising are a question of free speech and ending targeted advertising won't pass the test. But filtering at the scale of Facebook and Google is a question of access to information, solving the problem within accepted constitutional limits.  

"Lawyers are the rule of law." Joe Jamail, doing a deposition, and a lecturing at Stanford



The second video documents his conflicts over the relation of professions and business, self-respect and self-interest.

"Doing these cases,” he wrote, “I began to find myself in a dangerous situation as an advocate.  I came to believe in the truth of what I was saying.

Thinking about Balkin's ideas and their relation—or better, his relation—to politics, going back 18 years, but also liberals' confusion. I wrote a new post but decided to add it here, and I've rearranged things a bit.


1

More legal academics. Rick Hills, at PrawfsBlawg, in 2011: 

Eric Posner's and Adrian Vermeule's op-ed piece in the New York Times, urging President Obama to raise the debt limit unilaterally, is just a specific application of their general theory, outlined in their book, The Executive Unbound: After the Madisonian Republic, that Presidents should be free of legalistic limits on their power to initiate policies. The basic message of the book is both positive and normative. On the positive side, Eric and Adrian retail Terry Moe's line (more recently pressed by William Howell) that Presidential power to make policy unilaterally is inevitable. The public wants Presidents to respond to crises quickly without waiting for Congress' imprimatur, and Presidents will accommodate this public desire, regardless of legalistic limits, because neither Congress (bogged down with collective action problems) nor courts (lacking information) will stop them. On the normative side, Eric and Adrian retail a kinder, gentler Carl Schmitt: We should not worry about Presidents' unilaterally claiming powers to (for instance) raise the debt limit, because they will be adequately cabined by politics. Presidents want to win re-election or a favorable place in history, so they will try to accommodate opposing views to signal to the public that they are not tyrants. The plebiscitory limit of regular presidential elections suffices to constrain Presidents: We do not need law to do so.

There is a lot one could say about this briskly written, energetically argued book, but one simple, blog-worthy point leaps out at me: Eric and Adrian are cynical tough guys in dismissing legal limits, but dewy-eyed and naive idealists when it comes to politics. They have a view of presidential politics that I have seen expressed elsewhere only on the more saccharine episodes of "West Wing" (the ones where Alan Alda, the reasonable conservative guy who would not take the Ethanol Pledge in Iowa, was running against Jimmy Smits, the macho but sensitive lefty). They proclaim that voters will be able to distinguish between phony and genuine signals of Presidential trustworthiness, because “[p]eople who seek the office [of the President] have strong incentives to discover and disclose negative information about those in office,” a task in which they are aided by “powerful institutions that are not part of the constitutional structure – most prominently, the media and political parties.” (Pages 115, 119). But this assessment of press and party strikes me as a tad optimistic coming from guys who believe that members of Congress cannot overcome their own collective action problems to stop an aggressive President.

Take, for instance, the press: There seems to be a lot of evidence that the press is the President's Little Helper (to use Jonathan Zaller's phrase). According to this "indexing" theory of reporting, reporters simply repeat -- "index" -- the press releases of the White House, ignoring rival stories offered by scientists and bureaucrats that (for instance) those aluminum tubes imported to Iraq had nothing to do with WMDs. (See Chapter 6 of William Howell's and John Pevehouse's book, While Dangers Gather: Congressional Checks on Presidential War Powers for exhaustive evidence of the "indexing" theory).

There are limits to the "indexing" theory of Presidential omnipotence over the press, but Eric's and Adrian's urging of a unilateral presidency might seem reasonably calculated to destroy those limits. 

Howell, Pevehouse, and Douglas Kriner report, for instance, that, if members of Congress stand up to the President by holding hearings, issuing press releases, and generally making a fuss, then the press reports their opposition, and voters seem to listen. These political scientists do not explain why members of Congress can get public attention that others cannot attract.

Here's a theory of causation: Members of Congress are perceived by the public as being politically relevant actors without whose imprimatur the President cannot lawfully act. Eric and Adrian want to eliminate precisely that perception of Congress by pressing their "legal-authority-does-not-matter" theory. Why would reporters flock to the press conference of a senatorial committee chair whom the President could easily bypass with an executive order? Would not such a blowhard seem just as unnewsworthy as a member of, say, the House of Lords or the European Parliament?

It might be, in short, that constitutional structure has an effect on the behavior of the press. Destroy the structure that makes Congress the preeminent lawmaker, and you destroy the press coverage that members of Congress earn from their constitutional position. 

My reply on the page.
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? 

"Certainly British journalism is not a profession. Over the years they have tried to make it one. In the United States they have mostly succeeded.... They are taught about the technical skills and the ethics, the heroes of American journalism and its theory. In the process they are moulded and given a protective gloss of self-importance. They have Standards and, in return, they get Status. In Britain it isn’t like this at all. Journalism is a chaotic form of earning, ragged at the edges, full of snakes, con artists and even the occasional misunderstood martyr. It doesn't have an accepted career structure. necessary entry requirements or an effective system of self-policing. Outside organized crime it is the most powerful and enjoyable of the anti-professions."  

3

"i'm a journalist, not an american journalist. my job is not to serve as a propagandist for anybody, just to tell stories and my advantage is that i can tell stories that are hard to come by
...imagine if that one taliban commander had not screwed up my plans to go with them when they conducted attacks, and i had seen that too. isnt that interesting? isnt it important to understand who they are? and most importantly, wouldnt it make for a fun read?" 

4
Two articles on judicial review in the UK.

"Written​ constitutions? ‘Because of where I came from, these documents seemed profoundly exotic.’"

Vermeule was always a fascist. Now he's a theocrat


Since it's now a topic: the first time I referred to "polling and passivity" was 2006.
The 'naturalization' of the discourse of law, politics, and even culture has resulted in the dumbing down of democracy to the level of polling and passivity. Intellectuals in the mold of Posner do not educate or explain—they have no interest in dumbing down their own discourse by dealing directly with the populace—they collate and presume. And if the first rule of intellectual life is to know oneself, that capacity is the first thing that's lost. The self-absorption of the logician is not too far from that of the autistic child staring at a spinning fan. If the logical system prevails over its creator, there is no need for self to be anything else but the system. Life becomes simple, and perverse.

The third time, in 2010, I linked to Jon Stewart.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Rooney had been accused of boycotting Hebrew. American liberal Zionists, supporters of Israel and the Green Line, pushed back. Anti-Zionists weren't interested in the distinction.

Rooney should publish in Arabic. Any Jew native to the Middle East will understand, and the immigrants should have learned it. 
In December 1920, the mayor of Jerusalem, Raghib al-Nashashibi, organized a large event in honor of British High Commissioner Herbert Samuel. When he invited Prof. Abraham Shalom Yahuda to speak at the event, there was no need to say the lecture would be given in Arabic. For both of them, sons of distinguished Jerusalem families, one Arab-Muslim and the other Arab-Jewish, Arabic was the local language. It was the language in which members of all religions here wrote, spoke, traded and argued.

Arabic was viewed as the language of the land also among the Zionist movement, which acted to renew the Hebrew language. David Yellin and Yosef Meyouhas, two of the founders of the Hebrew Language Committee and Hebrew education in the land of Israel, could not have imagined that their project for the rebirth of Hebrew would serve one day as a tool to displace Arabic.
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"Popularism" and the problem of leadership. Social science is passive: polling is the only way to know what people want. Any leader who wants to help people knows that sometimes they won't thank him till later. 

Monday, October 11, 2021

Leiter: "The Epistemology of the Internet and the Regulation of Speech in America" 

The Internet is the epistemological crisis of the 21st-century: it has fundamentally altered the social epistemology of societies with relative freedom to access it. Most of what we think we know about the world is due to reliance on epistemic authorities, individuals or institutions that tell us what we ought to believe about Newtonian mechanics, evolution by natural selection, climate change, resurrection from the dead, or the Holocaust. The most practically fruitful epistemic norm of modernity, empiricism, demands that knowledge be grounded in sensory experience, but almost no one who believes in evolution by natural selection or the reality of the Holocaust has any sensory evidence in support of those beliefs. Instead, we rely on epistemic authorities—biologists and historians, for example. Epistemic authority cannot be sustained by empiricist criteria, for obvious reasons: salient anecdotal evidence, the favorite tool of propagandists, appeals to ordinary faith in the senses, but is easily exploited given that most people understand neither the perils of induction nor the finer points of sampling and Bayesian inference. Sustaining epistemic authority depends, crucially, on social institutions that inculcate reliable second-order norms about whom to believe about what. The traditional media were crucial, in the age of mass democracy, with promulgating and sustaining such norms. The Internet has obliterated the intermediaries who made that possible (and, in the process, undermined the epistemic standing of experts), while even the traditional media in the U.S., thanks to the demise of the “Fairness Doctrine,” has contributed to the same phenomenon. I argue that this crisis cries out for changes in the regulation of speech in cyberspace—including liability for certain kinds of false speech, incitement, and hate speech--but also a restoration of a version of the Fairness Doctrine for the traditional media.

Again, Tom Nichols, et al.

Facebook is the rule of experts as power hungry and passive aggressive. "We're only giving the people what they want." Leiter prefers the rule of those like himself. He defends "truth".  End the monopoly; end the shit-funnel. Shit will always be with us, but each of us needs to judge for ourselves.

"Democracies have freedom of speech not because governments grant it but because the government is not granted the power to take it away."

Most arguments against mass surveillance don't respond fully substantively to claims that you shouldn't worry if you "have nothing to hide".  Defense of personal freedom isn't enough.  What's needed is an argument in defense of the need for citizens in a democratic state to be able to be all kinds of wrong, all kinds of confused, creepy, conflicted, desirous, weepy or hate-filled, so that they may be able to learn to understand and outgrow their childishness. The choice is between a community of adults with a minority of the inveterately childish and criminal or a community of children ruled by moralists and crime lords.

I've repeated both a few times and I'll repeat them again and again.

Saturday, October 09, 2021

It's too easy

1. "Great moments in obscure rock 'n' roll: Tucky Buzzard, 'She's Meat,' 1971"

2. "Academic Ethics: Is ‘Diversity’ the Best Reason for Affirmative Action?"

Charles Mills went from arguing that liberalism is racist, to arguing for a "deracialized liberalism", and philosophers just follow along for the ride. The narrative of the change is left to historians.

Jesus fuck

Bookish as a child, Dr. Mills said he regretted spending more time reading the works of J.R.R. Tolkien than Frantz Fanon, the revolutionary Franco-Caribbean philosopher. But he also joked that his love of science fiction had prepared him for a life in philosophy.

“It could just be that I’m a nerdy alienated weirdo, and nerdy alienated weirdos are disproportionately attracted to both fields,” he wrote in a biographical essay in 2002. “Have you been to an A.P.A. meeting recently? I rest my case.”

Like the man says, I rest my case. 

If I believed in the primacy of ideas, I'd have a hard time figuring who did more damage to the western and then global intellectual tradition in the post war era: Tolkein, Rawls, or the inventors of Dungeons and Dragons. But in the end of course they'd all follow von Neumann.

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Leiter links to Leiter, (my emphasis)
5.  Most discussion of appropriate and inappropriate restrictions on speech on campus are not based on legal requirements, but on ideals of freedom of thought and inquiry that universities are (often uniquely) thought to stand for.  (Recall that even Marcuse, in his critique of "repressive tolerance" for harmful expression, thought universities should be bastions of unbridled expression....)

Absolute fucking bullshit. Academia polices speech in ways the government can't. 

McWhorter and Rauchway and Ronell and Tushnet

Hüppauf is honest

The university belongs, like the church and the military, to the social institutions that are situated at a considerable distance from democracy and adhere to premodern power structures. 

I grew up listening to legal discussions of the First Amendment and freedom of speech, arguments about the principle and the Constitution. Supreme Court justices were acknowledged as political appointees and mostly mediocre minds. And these were debates among lawyers and others involved in cases at the lowest level, who were advocates for people, not ideas. This is how change happens, how principles are preserved, expanded, shaped. The Supreme Court makes government policy; rulings can't define the terms of debate (see the idiot Tushnet, above). The same applies to discussions of foreign policy among those who eschew easy definitions of the foreign. This is what it means to be intellectually serious. Left to its own devices authority serves only itself.

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

"It was strange. My students were all obsessed with sex....

Not the idea of sex or the meaning of sex, but sex!"

NFS means No Fucking Shit 

In a separate paper, “The existential function of right‐wing authoritarianism,” Womick, Ward and King, joined by Samantha J. Heintzelman and Brendon Woody, provide more detail:

It may seem ironic that authoritarianism, a belief system that entails sacrifice of personal freedom to a strong leader, would influence the experience of meaning in life through its promotion of feelings of personal significance. Yet, right wing authoritarianism does provide a person with a place in the world, as a loyal follower of a strong leader. In addition, compared to purpose and coherence, knowing with great certainty that one’s life has mattered in a lasting way may be challenging. Handing this challenge over to a strong leader and investment in societal conventions might allow a person to gain a sense of symbolic or vicarious significance.

Cultures armor themselves under threat. Bullies were once bullied.  "Early Childhood Victimization Among Incarcerated Adult Male Felons"  It was fucking obvious before 1998. It was obvious before I was born. It was obvious before the 20th century. It was obvious before 1789. 

"Very hard to defend a low-lying beach. Eventually people will come for you"


"Political scientists seek to understand politics, not engage in politics."
Social science is anti-historical, anti-political pseudoscience.

Liberal technocrats imagine themselves as defending democracy. If they recognized themselves as managers, as rulers, they'd understand the backlash when they do a lousy job. I'll repeat myself until I die. Technocracy is not democracy.


"the meaning of sex"  The Journal of Philosophy, mid 80s.  Told to me by Callie Angell, who was there.

I know what Mark Blyth does for a living. And he cowrote this book with a hedge fund manager.  Another reason I gave this one the Comedians tag.

Sunday, October 03, 2021

Ryan Cooper
I made a (somewhat slapdash) video about Lord of the Rings and why America has no tradition of dutiful conservatism

Of course the same applies to liberalism. "The Impossibility of a Paretian Liberal" only came out in 1970, and A Theory of Justice was published in 1971

In the work of Rawls, Dworkin,  Arneson, and Cohen, a central example that clinches the case against equality of welfare as the ethically correct kind of egalitarianism is the required treatment of a person with voluntarily cultivated expensive tastes. Under welfare egalitarianism, such a person must receive a larger-than-normal bundle of scarce resources, which appears to render him a kind of exploiter of others with more frugal tastes. In the model I have presented, a person who has a high rate of time discount (r) or who views education as very costly (low value of s) has expensive tastes, for he will choose a low level of education (ceteris paribus) will consequently have low expected future income, and will have a low expected welfare. 

To take a the classic example, consider the person who derives satisfaction from a drink only If it is a pre-phylloxera claret. Such a person requires more money to derive the same satisfaction that a beer lover derives from her brew. Here is how Dworkin, Arneson, and I would differ in the treatment of a person. Dworkin would not compensate the one who could derive satisfaction only front pre-phylloxera claret if she identifies with those tastes. Arneson would not compensate her if it had been prudent for her to learn to like beer: presumably, if she knew that she would not have the income to purchase the ancient claret, and if she had the opportunity to develop frugal tastes, then it would have been prudent for her to do so. I propose that the decision whether to compensate her depends on how the median person of her type behaved. Let us say that her type is "child of impoverished aristocrats." If the "median preferences" of persons of that type are for pre-phylloxera claret, then she is entitled to compensation to increase her level of welfare to what the person of frugal tastes, who exercised a median degree of responsibility in other circumstances can experience with his resources.  

If you click through the links they get you back to Rawls, Roemer et al. 

And Cooper contracts something he wrote less than a month ago. 

At bottom, the argument that socialists need to behave virtuously for political reasons is liberal and individualist – the same fallacy seen from Matt Bors' famous Mr. Gotcha. The whole point of leftist politics is to solve problems through collective coordination, not by convincing individuals to behave differently. 
And as always
SE: "Arguments for the nobility of greed are a recent development."
Chris Bertram: "If, by 'recent' you mean 1705, you may be right."

To match this, Leiter has a new paper calling for a return to Hart. Varieties of pseudoscience and anti-politics.

I'll add the Aristocrats tag. I don't have one for virtue ethics. And The Discovery of Experience. It's still Tolkien but at least Cooper is trying. But the video is pretty bad. 
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day later he tries again: "I spent like 60 hours making this video, pls watch"

Because it fits. Because an ex-editor of Commonweal[!]  asks: Does motherhood make us less free?

And that's why the fascist Sophie Lewis calls for abolition. End the family, in the name of freedom, 
self-interest, and self-hatred. 

And we're back to the previous post: "It might be worth defining fascism as the rebellion of individualism against itself, since fascists are incapable of functioning within a community. " 
updated at bit. It's depressing how unsophisticated the sophisticated have become
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Jacob Bacharach in the New Republic, 2021: Ayn Rand Made Me a Communist
How an adolescent love affair with "Atlas Shrugged" opened up the world of radical politics.

I don’t suppose that when my parents sent me off to the University of Virginia Young Writers Workshop they imagined I’d return, a few weeks later, both gay and an objectivist.

Bacharach in the New Republic, 2016: I Was a Teenage Nazi Wannabe

The alt-right is a loser's poor fantasy of what a radical revolution looks like. I should know.

I was nearly expelled from high school my senior year, just before graduation. Only my grades, acceptance to a relatively prestigious college, and privileged position as the son of one of the pillars of the local economy prevented it. I was a weird kid: artsy, fay, obsessed with conspiracies, science fiction, Ayn Rand, and the occult.

2021

...As for me, I’ve never quite figured where to place myself on a left-right spectrum: a moralist but a moral relativist; a queer atheist with an enduring affection for the most traditional of religions; an anarchist by intellect but a collectivist by sentiment. I do count myself a radical, and even if my later development as a political writer and thinker owed a great deal more to Didion and Vidal and Ishmael Reed and a lot of crackpot early-aughts bloggers, then it would still be no exaggeration to say that my earliest, most formative, and most enduring encounter with a radical politics was the high priestess of The Collective herself, Ayn Rand.

“Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual).” Get it, girl!

"Individual rights are not subject to a public vote".  Often, they are. It depends. Didion was a Goldwater girl, and she's still not a "liberal". Gore was always a patrician. This idiot is so confused. He still doesn't know what he is, or what he wants to be.

2016

We were seniors in 1999, the year of the Columbine massacre. For most of the couple of years preceding, we’d been cobbling together a masterpiece of experimental filmmaking—actually, a semi-related skein of filthy, profane sketch gags centered on the peripatetic wanderings of a character (I use the term loosely) named “Headless,” defined chiefly by the fact that he wore, or was, a full-head rubber Tor Johnson mask. We filmed in our backyards and the woods behind them, in parking lots and alleys, in our bedrooms, and, most ill-advisedly, in the hotel where we stayed on our AP Government trip to Washington, D.C. Then one of us left the VHS master copy sitting on a table in the Laurel Highlands Senior High School cafeteria.


The movie inevitably made its way to our principal. There were plenty of bits to get a decent and unimaginative man riled up—rituals cribbed from Anton LeVay, drug use both simulated and actual, violence, and plenty of fake blood. But I have to believe that the worst moment for that poor administrator and for our poor parents was when they watched another friend of ours, a nice girl from a devoutly Christian family—Lord knows how we cajoled her into participating—crawl between my legs to perform simulated fellatio on a TV remote control. I suspect we meant all this as some kind of commentary on the media. The camera panned up to my contorted face. “Oh yeah, baby,” I growled, “Suck it. Heil Hitler, my dick is your Fuhrer.”

I was already out, the only openly gay kid at my school. I was—I am—a Jew. 
John Waters is a conservative. Ask anyone who knows him.
He even name checks Nick Land, but doesn't get the point. I'm seeing more and more of this... 

I'm so fucking bored 

"I was a weird kid: artsy, fay, obsessed with conspiracies, science fiction, Ayn Rand, and the occult."

"...he double-majored in music and English and became deeply involved in avant-garde theater, trying out and discarding various radical ideologies like costume changes."


Earlier this year, another hipster wannabe communist and Rand, linking to the history.

Jeet Heer retweeting Krugman on Asimov, and writing about comics. Asimov, the intellectual hero to Krugman and Gingrich and Henry Farrell. I liked Asimov at 12 and knew it was intelligent pop crap. Naked Sun, the one that stayed with me, is detective fiction, the only pulp ever to rise above the name. Ray Bradbury and later Philip K. Dick rose above pulp in other ways.  I read a page of Rand at 17 and knew it was incompetent.  But all of the above, as I've aid a thousand times, documents unsophisticated understanding of art. And change is slow.

More of the same, at a higher level. The brilliance of Steely Dan is inseparable from the limitations. As with the Coen brothers and Nabokov: the poetry of velvet-gloved overdetermination, the late style, not of individual artists but of a form: the Russian novel,  American popular song, Hollywood film. Nabokov is better than Borges because not conceptual or in the service of ideas, not openly reactionary, but too knowing.  Didion belongs on that list too; I think she'd agree. The fans bother me more than the people they worship, even Borges. I  didn't read comics much as a kid, but when I found one by Jack Kirby, from the late 60s, the drawings fascinated me: they had something I hadn't seen before. They manifested—made present—a kind of sense, that I responded to, viscerally. My nerves responded to the line and I recognized something. Kirby had done something and I had understood.
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I sent note to Bacharach; we had a bit of a back and forth. I told him he should follow Didion's model and be observant and honest to the point of making others and himself uncomfortable, since that's what makes good writing. He disagreed.

I reminded him of Didion's essay on the Central Park jogger. I told him the top image on the top left, above Lulu, is fascist: the identification with victimhood, and the demand for respect as a victim, of the world, and of being therefore too good for this world. Brooks was too smart to make that generalization. Didion didn't go as far as I have, but she makes the conservative case against individualism and the resulting narcissism. 

Didion is Bacharach's Judy Garland. He's a fan, writing for an audience of fans. But he sees himself as a liberal, or as liberals do, full of best intentions. 

It might be worth defining fascism as the rebellion of individualism against itself, since fascists are incapable of functioning within a community.  

Friday, October 01, 2021

People have been talking about this all week, noting the author, quoting the first paragraph and then footnote 2. But Rudd begins a quote from Dashiell Hammett

Nobody thinks clearly, no matter what they pretend. . . . That’s why people hang on so tight to their beliefs and opinions; because, compared to the haphazard way they’re arrived at, even the goofiest opinion seems wonderfully clear, sane, and self-evident.

Now Leiter's found it, via an article in the Times.

My father will be remembered in the world beyond family and friendships for one essay on Hammett. His father was a Pinkerton, a hired killer, who died of TB a year after my father was born. 

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Read the whole thing. It's a hoot. It's got everything,

When I search for the historical significance of Occupy Wall Street, my mind goes first not to the assemblies, the marches, or even the arrests. Rather, the first memory that arises is a 2011 meeting of the Marxist reading group that I attended from 2010 to 2018, my years in graduate school. We dedicated a session that October to Occupy, and the group swelled from its normal five or ten to a packed house, full of dozens of people trying to make sense of what was happening. (This had also happened the previous February during the Wisconsin Capitol occupation and the Arab uprisings.)

...Most straightforwardly, Occupy was the critical event in the formation of a new anticapitalist intellectual milieu. You could go to Zuccotti Park and find people arguing about policing, finance, feminism, climate—and out of this ferment, new institutions took shape and old ones changed. The New Inquiry and Jacobin both slightly predated the occupations (and perhaps anticipated them), but both gained much of their solidity from the participation of the resulting coterie. n+1 and Dissent both underwent much-heralded generational transformations, pointing them in newly radicalized directions. In 2012, the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research appeared, founded by left-wing Columbia graduate students looking for a meaningful alternative to dead-end academic careers. All this, it turns out, had consequences.

...Earlier this year, a student in my office hours asked me if I knew about some radical writer. I smiled and said, “Oh sure, I met that guy once at a Verso party seven or eight years ago.” The student blinked at me—”The Verso loft? You’ve actually been there?” While it’s tempting to roll one’s eyes at such a totemic status for a party venue for the New York media-centric left—and easy to mock as an instance of an in-crowd—we ought to take its significance seriously.

Certainly, Occupy is not reducible to some number of careers in the cultural superstructure. And like any scene, this one has its narcissism, its pecking orders, its blind spots, and its abuses. But it must be acknowledged the movement of 2011 created what cultural theorist Raymond Williams would have called a “structure of feeling”: a loose system of institutions of production and reception of ideology, in which a common experience and mood could solidify somewhat into a common language, shared even among antagonists within the left.

This bit is priceless 

It is not that the individuals in this intellectual cohort were all important to the development of Occupy (with the notable exception of the writers Vicky Osterweil and Malcolm Harris, who helped bring a crowd early on with a fake promise of a Radiohead appearance). 

Osterweil, and the the Verso loft 

Friday, September 24, 2021

Leiter links to another "professional philosopher" writing at Spiked
The result was in itself evidence of the vast scale of self-censorship on campus. Clearly, concerns about the threats to our freedoms are widely felt, even if they are not widely voiced. And it’s not just a problem in Cambridge. A recent, large survey carried out by the University and College Union found that 35.5 per cent of academics are self-censoring.

The Cambridge page sounds absurd, and not because microaggressions don't exist. The service staff at Cambridge lives with them every fucking day. And again: none of this is about freedom of speech; it's a debate over norms. There's no freedom of speech in the UK, and none in academia.

Arif Ahmed MBE, testified before Parliament alognside Kathleen Stock, OBE




Thursday, September 23, 2021


Deutschland im Herbst. Somewhere in Dusseldorf. It's been a long time.

U.S. Special Envoy To Haiti Quits Over Deportations Of Haitian Refugees

Dear Secretary Blinken,

With deep disappointment and apologies to those seeking crucial changes, I resign from my position asSpecial Envoy for Haiti, effective immediately. I will not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti, a country where American officials are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs in control of daily life. Our policy approach to Haiti remains deeply flawed, and my recommendations have been ignored and dismissed, when not edited to project a narrative different from my own.

The people of Haiti, mired in poverty, hostage to the terror, kidnappings, robberies and massacres of armed gangs and suffering under a corrupt government with gang alliances, simply cannot support the forced infusion of thousands of returned migrants lacking food, shelter, and money without additional, avoidable human tragedy. The collapsed state is unable to provide security or basic services, and more refugees will fuel further desperation and crime. Surging migration to our borders will only grow as we add to Haiti’s unacceptable misery.

Haitians need immediate assistance to restore the government’s ability to neutralize the gangs and restore order through the national police. They needa true agreement across society and political actors, with international support, to chart a timely path to the democratic selection of their n e x t president and parliament. They need humanitarian assistance, money to deliver COVID vaccines and so many other things.

But what our Haitian friends really want, and need, is the opportunity to chart their own course, without international puppeteering and favored candidates but with genuine support for that course. I do not believe that Haiti can enjoy stability until her citizens have the dignity of truly choosing their own leaders fairly and acceptably.

Last week, the U.S. and other embassies in Port-au-Prince issued another public statement of support by for the unelected, de facto Prime Minister Dr. Ariel Henry as interim leader of Haiti, and have continued to tout his “political agreement” over another broader, earlier accord shepherded by civil society. The hubris that makes us believe we should pick the winner—again—is impressive. This cycle of international political interventions in Haiti has consistently produced catastrophic results. More negative impacts to Haiti will have calamitous consequences not only in Haiti, but in the US. and our neighbors in the hemisphere.

Sincerely, 

Daniel Foote  

2013, Pooja Bhatia reviews Jonathan Katz, in the LRB

It began with hubris and extravagant promises. Within days of the disaster, powerful people around the world were speaking of ‘Marshall Plans’, ‘building back better’ and a ‘new Haiti’. At a donor conference in March 2010, two and a half months after the quake, rich countries announced pledges of $8.4 billion for Haiti’s reconstruction, a sum bigger than its annual GDP, and spoke of changing the way aid was done. Haiti was already known as the ‘Republic of NGOs’, and its reliance on them was strangling the country. As foreign aid groups delivered basic services – including water, medical care and electricity – the state’s capacity to do so weakened. Ordinary Haitians had little or no say in what went on. The donor conference proposed a solution: a commission of Haitians and outsiders would determine spending priorities. It would be co-chaired by a real grandee: Bill Clinton, who the year before had been appointed UN special envoy to Haiti. ‘He had a particular fondness for places he mucked up as president,’ Katz writes.

Amid the flashbulbs and self-congratulation at the conference, Katz noticed other portents. The Haitian government’s plan for reconstruction read as if it had been ghostwritten by the donors. It emphasised private enterprise, paid scant attention to housing for the 1.5 million people displaced by the quake, and was in general so vague that ‘it seemed donors would be forgiven for doing whatever they wanted.’ Hillary Clinton, then secretary of state, warned donors to hold themselves accountable (what institution holds itself accountable?) and to work with the Haitian government rather than around it. The day before she spoke, her own deputy had predicted correctly that Congress was unlikely to route aid through the Haitian government. Results from a survey that canvassed 1750 Haitians on the reconstruction – ‘the only views of regular Haitians heard that day’ – were nearly excluded from the proceedings. Haitians’ ‘desire to be consulted in setting priorities, selecting projects and assessing tangible and measurable outcomes’ was mostly ignored. Préval was at one point lectured on accountability by a 32-year-old Norwegian emissary and then forgotten, it seemed, when discussion at the press conference that followed veered to Iran. ‘Do I need to develop a nuclear programme so that we come back to talking about Haiti?’ he asked.

Donors didn’t deliver on their promises. The joint commission faltered and then foundered. As for the money, some of the most breathtaking facts in Katz’s book come from ledgers kept by the likes of the UN Office of the Special Envoy. They merit amplification and repetition, if only to counter the persistent notion that Haiti has wasted billions of dollars in aid. There were never any billions in aid to Haiti, let alone its government; not much money has gone to Haiti’s government since the United States withdrew its support of Jean Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier in 1986.

Katz in 2015, on the Clintons and Haiti, and 2016, on the Clintons, Haiti, and Trump. 

Friday, September 17, 2021

From 2011

A note from a journalist [not American] 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.

I won't repeat myself more than this. 

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Stock: Lesbians Aren’t Attracted to a Female ‘Gender Identity.’ We’re Attracted to Women.
In Quillette. She's published there before.
There is commonly held to be a difference between a sexual preference and a sexual orientation. Sexual preferences include preferences for blondes over brunettes, or macho men over pretty boys. At the more exotic end, they can include predilections for cars, chandeliers, and dalliances with farm animals. None of these are sexual orientations, though. Opinions differ on what makes an orientation an orientation, but my preferred explanation says that for a preference to count as an orientation, it has to be stable in individuals, widespread among the human population, and have a range of relatively important social consequences.

Two such orientations are heterosexuality and homosexuality. They are defined in terms of specific patterns of attraction. You are heterosexual if you, a member of one sex, are stably sexually attracted only to members of the opposite sex to you. Alternatively, if you’re stably attracted only to members of the same sex as you, then you’re homosexual. If you’re stably attracted to both sexes, you’re bisexual. In addition to these terms, equally applicable to both males and females, the English language has words to describe homosexual orientations disaggregated by sex. “Lesbians” are same-sex-attracted females. There are other sex-disaggregated words, too, often pretty negative: “faggots,” “dykes,” etc.

Putting things this way will, I predict, raise the hackles of readers schooled in queer theory, and in particular fans of French post-structuralist Michel Foucault. It is a commonplace there that orientations are—just as biological sex categories are for Judith Butler—socially constructed, historically contingent, and culturally located. As trans scholar Jack (then non-trans Judith) Halberstam summarises approvingly: “Within a Foucauldian history of sexuality, ‘lesbian’ constitutes a term for same-sex desire produced in the mid-to-late twentieth century within the highly politicized context of the rise of feminism … if this is so, then ‘lesbian’ cannot be the transhistorical label for all same-sex activity between women.” My short answer is that, while obviously we need to acknowledge the interesting fact that throughout the ages, same-sex activity has had many different relatively local sociocultural meanings and names, it wasn’t invented in the 20th century. I’m talking about distinctive, relatively ahistorical patterns of sexual relationship in individuals, and not particular cultural representations of that pattern. That’s a coherent distinction to make. 

Saying a sexual orientation must be “stable” for an individual doesn’t mean you can’t have voluntary and even pleasurable sexual experiences at variance with it. It’s fairly typical for young people to take a while to figure out what their orientation is, and sometimes it takes older people a while, too. This is more likely for gay people in a culture in which heterosexuality predominates. A gay person might be less willing or even able to notice relevant clues as to where the real patterns of attraction lie. Or a person can just get drunk and have opportunistic sex with whoever happens to be there, against their normal grain. They can have sex with one kind of person, fantasising wildly about another. Or they can be romantically attached to someone in a way that temporarily causes them to seem attractive but wouldn’t otherwise. Strictly speaking, a sexual orientation should be understood in terms of the sex(es) you would be sexually attracted to under relatively self-aware, uncoerced, uninhibited circumstances, and not necessarily who you actually are attracted to right now. A sexual orientation is for life, not just for Christmas parties. 

In the last paragraph, separating would be from are,  not in terms of relationship status but emotion, Stock matches Halberstam's bullshit with her own. Arguing against the specious logic of the move from linguistic to material instability, Stock, the philosopher, indulges the equally specious move from material to linguistic stability—non-contradiction and "the excluded middle"— imposing a limitation which James Baldwin politely called "unnecessary". And that's the reason she's happy to publish in Quillette. 

Two different Modernisms, now united in idealism. And liberals can't accept the Baudelairean irony needed to face the Sadean self-disgust in Halbertam's fascist kitsch. That Halberstam's blind as well, or needs to be only confirms the point. That's the brilliance of Arendt's response to Baldwin. 

Stock in 2019, on another conservative page/rag

Can a biological male be a lesbian? If this question seems to you outlandish, it’s probably because you’re unaware of a new paradigm, in vogue in many millennial communities, progressive organisations, and University departments. This paradigm says that a transwoman can count as a lesbian; and that many do.

Though precise statistics are unavailable, many transwomen are exclusively female-attracted. Prior to transition, they’re what we would ordinarily call heterosexual, or straight: males stably attracted to the opposite biological sex. When transition occurs, this pattern of attraction usually persists. But, for some, it’s unacceptable to now think of themselves as straight – for this carries with it a lingering connotation of manhood, now rejected. Hence some transwomen self-identify as lesbians. They do so even where their transition is only social, and not medical – which is most of the time. The rest of us are now urged to accept the phenomenon of a ‘lesbian with a penis’, or even a ‘girldick’.

When a group of lesbians called ‘Get the L Out’ disrupted the London Pride procession last year with banners saying ‘lesbian=female homosexual’, many were quick to express disgust at what they assumed was transphobia. When  Labour activist Lily Madigan got involved in a Twitter argument last week with a lesbian academic about whether transwomen could be lesbians, many automatically took Madigan’s side, assuming this must be straightforward bigotry towards a vulnerable transwoman. However, a closer look at some documented background concerns here should slow down the knee-jerk outrage in both cases.  In a nutshell, the main general concern – which is a structural one, and not directed towards any particular trans individuals – is  given existing misogyny, when you admit males into a formerly female-only domain, certain predictable and harmful things start happening to females. 

I’ll focus here on two such predictable things. The first is that, to put it crudely but accurately, males start badgering females for sex. A familiar phenomenon since time immemorial, one might think, though this time with an added twist: progressives are facilitating. Some trans ‘lesbians ‘ complain that lesbians won’t consider them as potential partners. Their focus is lesbians, because hitting on straight women might threaten the preferred narrative: a straight woman is attracted to men, after all. The resistance of many lesbians to have sex with male-bodied people is framed as a matter of inequality rather than orientation, and therefore something to be corrected in the name of progress. Lesbian resistance is sometimes referred to as the ‘cotton ceiling’, crassly riffing on the idea of a promotion ceiling for women at work, but substituting images of glass with that of underwear. Equally, sometimes those resisting are called ‘TERFs’, because it is assumed that their resistance is a result of trans-exclusive radical feminism, rather than because they are homosexual.

Baldwin,  "Down at the Cross", The Fire Next Time.  Published in the New Yorker as Letter From a Region in my Mind, 1962

Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun in­exorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death—ought to decide, indeed, to earn one's death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible to life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return. One must negotiate this passage as nobly as possible, for the sake of those who are coming after us. But white Americans do not believe in death, and this is why the dark­ness of my skin so intimidates them. And this is also why the presence of the Negro in this country can bring about its destruction. It is the responsibility of free men to trust and to celebrate what is constant—birth, struggle, and death are con­stant, and so is love, though we may not always think so­—and to apprehend the nature of change, to be able and willing to change.I speak of change not on the surface but in the depths-change in the sense of renewal. But renewal becomes impossible if one supposes things to be constant that are not-safety, for example, or money, or power. One clings then to chimeras, by which one can only be betrayed, and the entire hope-the entire possibility-of freedom disappears. And by destruction I mean precisely the abdication by Americans of any effort really to be free. The Negro can precipitate this abdication because white Americans have never, in all their long history, been able to look on him as a man like them­ selves. This point need not be labored; it is proved over and over again by the Negro's continuing position here, and his indescribable struggle to defeat the stratagems that white Americans have used, and use, to deny him his humanity.

America could have used in other ways the energy that both groups have expended in this conflict. America, of all the Western nations, has been best placed to prove the uselessness and the obsolescence of the concept o f color. But it has not dared to accept this opportunity, or even to conceive of it as an opportunity. White Americans have thought of it as their shame, and have envied those more civilized and elegant Eu­ropean nations that were untroubled by the presence of black men on their shores. This is because white Americans have supposed "Europe" and "civilization" to be synonyms­ which they are not-and have been distrustful of other stan­dards and other sources of vitality, especially those produced in America itself, and have attempted to behave in all matters as though what was east for Europe was also east for them. What it comes to is that if we, who can scarcely be considered a white nation, persist in thinking of ourselves as one, we con­demn ourselves, with the truly white nations, to sterility and decay, whereas if we could accept ourselves as we are, we might bring new life to the Western achievements, and trans­ form them. The price of this transformation is the uncondi­tional freedom of the Negro; it is not too much to say that he, who has been so long rejected, must now be embraced, and at no matter what psychic or social risk. He is the key figure in his country, and the American future is precisely as bright or as dark as his. And the Negro recognizes this, in a negative way. Hence the question: Do I really want to be integrated into a burning house?

White Americans find it as difficult as white people else­ where do to divest themselves of the notion that they are in possession of some intrinsic value that black people need, or want. And this assumption-which, for example, makes the solution to the Negro problem depend on the speed with which Negroes accept and adopt white standards-is revealed in all kinds of striking ways, from Bobby Kennedy's assurance that a Negro can become President in forty years to the un­fortunate tone of warm congratulation with which so many liberals address their Negro equals. It is the Negro, of course, who is presumed to have become equal-an achievement that not only proves the comforting fact that perseverance has no color but also overwhelmingly corroborates the white man's sense of his own value. 

Interview with Richard Goldstein in 1984

Do you think your unresolved sexuality motivated you, at the start, to write?

Yeah. Well, everything was unresolved. The sexual thing was only one of the things. It was for a while the most tormenting thing and it could have been the most dangerous.

How so?

Well, because it frightened me so much. 

I don’t think straight people realize how frightening it is to finally admit to yourself that this going to be you forever.

It’s very frightening. But the so-called straight person is no safer than I am really. Loving anybody and being loved by anybody is a tremendous danger, a tremendous responsibility. Loving of children, raising of children. The terrors homosexuals go through in this society would not be so great if the society itself did not go through so many terrors which it doesn’t want to admit. The discovery of one’s sexual preference doesn’t have to be a trauma. It’s a trauma because it’s such a traumatized society.

Have you got any sense of what causes people to hate homosexuals?

Terror, I suppose. Terror of the flesh. After all, we’re supposed to mortify the flesh, a doctrine which has led to untold horrors. This is very biblical culture; people believe in wages of sin is death, but not the way the moral guardians of this time and place understand it.

Is there a particularly American component of homophobia?

I think Americans are terrified of feeling anything. And homophobia is simply an extreme example of the American terror that’s concerned with growing up. I never met a people more infantile in my life....

[break]

I sometimes think gay people look to black people as healing them…

Not only gay people.

...healing their alienation.

That has to be done, first of all, by the person and then you find your company.

When I heard Jesse Jackson speak before a gay audience, I wanted him to say there wasn’t any sin, that I was forgiven.

Is that a question for you still? That question of sin?

I think it must be, on some level, even though I am not a believer.

How peculiar. I didn’t realize you thought of it as sin. Do many gay people feel that?

I don’t know. (Laughter). I guess I’m throwing something at you, which is the idea that gays look to blacks as conferring a kind of acceptance by embracing them in a coalition. I find it unavoidable to think in those terms. When I fantasize about a black mayor or a black president, I think of it being better for gay people.

Well, don’t be romantic about black people. Though I can see what you mean.

Do you think black people have a heightened capacity for tolerance, even acceptance, in its truest sense?

Well, there is a capacity in black people for experience, simply. And that capacity makes other things possible. It dictates the depth of one’s acceptance of other people. The capacity for experience is what burns out fear. Because the homophobia we’re talking about really is a kind of fear. It’s a terror of the flesh. It’s really a terror of being able to be touched.

Do you think about having children?

Not any more. It’s one thing I really regret, maybe the only regret I have. But I couldn’t have managed it then. Now it’s too late.

But you’re not disturbed by the idea of gay men being parents.

Look, men have been sleeping with men for thousands of years — and raising tribes. This is a Western sickness, it really is. It’s an artificial division. Men will be sleeping with each other when the trumpet sounds. It’s only this infantile culture which has made such a big deal of it.

So you think of homosexuality as universal?

Of course. There’s nothing in me that is not in everybody else, and nothing in everybody else that is not in me. We’re trapped in language, of course. But homosexual is not a noun. At least in my book.

What part of speech would it be?

Perhaps a verb. You see, I can only talk about my own life. I loved a few people and they loved me. It had nothing to do with these labels. Of course, the world has all kinds of words for us. But that’s the world’s problem.

Is it problematic for you, the idea of having sex with other people who are identified as gay?

Well, you see, my life has not been like that at all. The people who were my lovers were never, well, the word gay wouldn’t have meant anything to them.

That means that they moved in a straight world.

They moved in the world.

Do you think of the gay world as being a false refuge?

I think perhaps it imposes a limitation which is unnecessary. It seems to me simply a man is a man, a woman is a woman, and who they go to bed with is nobody’s business but theirs. I suppose what I am really saying is that one’s sexual preference is a private matter. I resent the interference of the State, or the Church, or any institution in my only journey to whatever it is we are journeying toward. But it has been made a public question by the institutions of this country. I can see how the gay world comes about in response to that. And to contradict myself, I suppose, or more precisely, I hope that it is easier for the transgressor to become reconciled with himself or herself than it was for many people in my generation — and it was difficult for me. It is difficult to be despised, in short. And if the so-called gay movement can cause men and women, boys and girls, to come to some kind of terms with themselves more speedily and with less pain, then that’s a very great advance. I’m not sure it can be done on that level. My own point of view, speaking out of black America, when I had to try to answer that stigma, that species of social curse, it seemed a great mistake to answer in the language of the oppressor. As long as I react to “nigger,” as long as I protest my case on evidence of assumptions held by others, I’m simply reinforcing those assumptions. As long as I complain about being oppressed, the oppressor is in consolation of knowing that I know my place, so to speak.

Goldstein was always a putz. He's pathetic. 

Arendt to Baldwin, 1962

Your article in the New Yorker is a political event of a very high order, I think;  it certainly is an event in my understanding of what is involved in the Negro question.  And since this is a question which concerns us all, I feel I am entitled to raise objections.

What frightened me in your essay was the gospel of love which you begin to preach at the end.  In politics, love is a stranger, and when it intrudes upon it nothing is being achieved except hypocrisy.  All the characteristics you stress in the Negro people: their beauty, their capacity for joy, their warmth, and their humanity, are well-known characteristics of all oppressed people.  They grow out of suffering and they are the proudest possession of all pariahs.  Unfortunately, they have never survived the hour of liberation by even five minutes.  Hatred and love belong together, and they are both destructive;  you can afford them only in the private and, as a people, only so long as you are not free.

They share a sense of the necessity of tragic consciousness. The still religious Baldwin dreams of an out. Arendt remembers the fantasies of those who claimed the out had been reached. 

He's fond of the word, but political science is provincial by definition. 
ISSS Virtual Roundtable Discussion on 20 Years in Afghanistan: How did we get there and what are the consequences?

Monica Duffy Toft: moderator, ISSS Chair, and Professor of International Politics, Fletcher School, Tufts University
Audrey Kurth Cronin, Distinguished Professor, School of International Service, American University
Jacqueline Hazelton, Associate Professor, Naval War College
John J. Mearsheimer, R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Caitlyn Jenner: "I’m Pro-Choice but I Also Support Texas Abortion Ban"

I am for a woman’s right to choose,” Jenner responded before trying to have it both ways. “I am also for a state having the ability to make their own laws. So I support Texas in that decision, that’s their decision. But as far as being a woman’s right to choose, I don’t see any changes in our laws in California in the future.”

repeats 

"Tell me about transgirls and Title IX, about transwomen feminists opposed to abortion (if you don't know any you will soon enough)."

"Will transgirls now be able to sue under title IX? Will the anti-abortion opinions of a transwoman with a penis hold equal weight with those of a woman with a uterus?" 

"Transsexuals are accepted, abortion is not. I’m waiting for the transwoman who come out as an anti-abortion as a woman and a feminist."

The Guardian censored Judith Butler's stupidity after feminists complained. There is no free speech in the UK.  This was cut.

It is very appalling and sometimes quite frightening to see how trans- exclusionary feminists have allied with rightwing attacks on gender. The anti-gender ideology movement is not opposing a specific account of gender, but seeking to eradicate “gender” as a concept or discourse, a field of study, an approach to social power. Sometimes they claim that “sex” alone has scientific standing, but other times they appeal to divine mandates for masculine domination and difference. They don’t seem to mind contradicting themselves. 

The Terfs (trans exclusionary radical feminists) and the so-called gender critical writers have also rejected the important work in feminist philosophy of science showing how culture and nature interact (such as Karen Barad, Donna Haraway, EM Hammonds or Anne Fausto-Sterling) in favor of a regressive and spurious form of biological essentialism. So they will not be part of the coalition that seeks to fight the anti-gender movement. The anti-gender ideology is one of the dominant strains of fascism in our times. So the Terfs will not be part of the contemporary struggle against fascism, one that requires a coalition guided by struggles against racism, nationalism, xenophobia and carceral violence, one that is mindful of the high rates of femicide throughout the world, which include high rates of attacks on trans and genderqueer people.

The anti-gender movement circulates a spectre of “gender” as a force of destruction, but they never actually read any works in gender studies. Quick and fearful conclusions take the place of considered judgments. Yes, some work on gender is diffcult and not everyone can read it, so we have to do better in reaching a broader public. As important as it is, however, to make complex concepts available to a popular audience, it is equally important to encourage intellectual inquiry as part of public life. Unfortunately, we are living in anti-intellectual times, and neo-fascism is becoming more normalized.

Freedom of inquiry means I want to know what others think. I have the right, and the obligation, to hear them speak, even or especially if I'm told they hate me. But in this case the argument is absurd.

The relation of trans-humanism in every form to fascism is as old as fascism itself. And it's not some hidden secret thing. That Kathleen Stock and others don't know the history and ally themselves with conservatives is just one form of ideological modernism attacking another.  Stock is a moralist who defends  the "Nordic model", criminalizing prostitution. But her opponents champion legalized "sex work", so it becomes simplified to puritan moralism vs libertarianism: dueling forms of anti-psychological, and anti-intellectual idealism. 

Butler: "We need to rethink the category of woman" No. we don't.  

Fetishizing the other doesn't make you one of them. It's a form of self-hatred that totalizes human beings according to your own fantasies. It's a form of bigotry. The history of male homosexual and transexual misogyny isn't even debatable, any more than the history of homosexual self-hatred. I'm tired of repeating myself. 

The section above was taken from a screenshot which cropped the censored text. Elisions on elisions... This is the bit that defenders of Butler didn't want others to see.
it seems that some within feminist movements are becoming sympathetic to these far-right campaigns. This  year’s furore around Ni Spa in Los Angeles saw an online outrage by transphobes followed by bloody protests organised by the Proud Boys. Can we expect this alliance to continue? 

Vice covered  the whole mess. The "developments which occurred after the interview took place.” were this 

The LA police department (LAPD) announced late on Thursday that it had put out an arrest warrant for Darren Merager, who is now facing five felony counts of indecent exposure at Wi Spa in the Koreatown neighborhood. The charges, filed on Monday, come two months after a viral Instagram video from a woman who filmed herself confronting Wi Spa staff about seeing a “man” naked in front of women and girls in the women’s section of the facility.

Merager has been a registered sex offender since 2006, police said, and has a history of previous indecent exposure charges. Merager was convicted of indecent exposure in LA in 2002 and 2003, and pleaded not guilty to seven counts of indecent exposure in an alleged December 2018 case, according to court records. That case is still open.

PinkNews UK

A trans woman who has been charged with indecent exposure over an incident at Wi Spa in Los Angeles has said she is the victim of transphobic harassment.

Agee Merager, who is legally female, is reportedly facing multiple felony charges of indecent exposure after four cis women and a girl accused her of exposing her genitals at Wi Spa in June, according to the New York Post.

The Whig theory of sexuality is no better than the Whig theory of history.