Saturday, May 02, 2015

Various and sundry, the old with the new.

Eric Rauchway: Real liberals fight fascism
The New Deal gave Americans not only the material capacity to fight fascism, but faith in American institutions.
see recent, on Wickard etc, and Kolko.
repeats, Rauchway defines liberalism:
If Kramer’s report is accurate, you can see why the Columbia faculty got frustrated. They wanted Bollinger to offer a traditional defense of academic freedom, which goes something like this: Academic freedom predates free speech.

...I can think of three reasons Bollinger might have said this, instead of offering the traditional defense of academic freedom.

(1) He doesn’t know the history and sources of academic freedom. This seems unlikely, though that phrase “surprised and bewildered” is worrying.

(2) He knows the history and sources of academic freedom, but he thinks it uncongenial to assert them in this anti-elitist day and age.
Real liberals don't read Foucault.
Richard Yeselson: Is Cosmopolitan Communitarianism still Possible? Was it ever?
Bertram and Farrell answered years ago
Bertram on Martha Nussbaum's Not For Profit
However, the central idea of the book, that receipt of a certain type of humanities education is necessary for people to acquire the capacities for empathic imagination that (according to MN) are necessary virtues of democratic (and indeed global) citizenship strikes me as (a) obviously false and (b) insulting to those of her fellow citizens who haven’t been the beneficiaries of such courses. Those given a more technical education are described as “useful machines” as early as p.2. There is very little empirical support adduced for any of the causal claims in the essay which tend to rely on more or less a priori arguments from various educational and psychoanalytical thinkers that Nussbaum likes. 
Farrell on Gambetta and Hertog's Engineers of Terror
Their preferred explanation lies in the combination of a particular mindset given to simplification, monistic understandings of the world and desire that existing social arrangements be preserved, with key environmental factors (most importantly, frustrated professional aspirations due to a lack of opportunities). Interestingly, Gambetta and Hertog suggest that the same mindset which drives engineers in the Islamic world to become terrorists, may lead to the marked tendency of US engineers to adhere to strongly conservative political views. This is the kind of topic that lends itself to the worst kind of uninformed pop-journalism academics, but as best as I can tell (I’m a consumer rather than a producer of the statistical literature) Gambetta and Hertog are extremely careful about their analysis, and up front about the limitations of their data.
Rich Puchalsky in comments at Yeselson's post
The fundamental failure of past left analysis is looking to the working class as the progressive or revolutionary force. It clearly isn’t. The reliable left-leaning classes are the professional and creative classes below the 1%: the cosmopolitanism of capitalism together with the inability to loot that makes communitarianism possible.
We're back to Rauchway's elitism. Few of the comments are as blunt as that one; most are almost as offensive. And though Farrell is intrigued by Gambetta he approves of this
The role of science has been to gauge the limits of the species, with new technologies and extra-planetary environments being used as virtual laboratories for an ongoing thought experiment. If the mainstream novel employs the lens of the commonplace career – birth and education, marriage and divorce, ambition and failure – SF has pursued the inquiry by abducting the human animal and placing it in alien environments.
The cognitive dissonance is painful to witness. How can you have a conversation with pathology?
Rauchway again: When You Can’t Avoid Knowing Grandpa Was a Nazi
Teege’s brief narrative also encompasses also the memory kept by Holocaust survivors and their descendants: before Teege found out about her grandfather, she traveled to Tel Aviv, made friends there, and lived there. Her discovery imposes silence between her and her Jewish friends. She doesn’t know what she can say. Her grandfather might have shot their grandparents.

“There is no Nazi gene,” Teege insists, struggling against the idea that she must bear some guilt for her grandfather. But she clearly feels that guilt. We all inhabit the world the bloodthirstiest conquerors made; only some of us grew up with them, personally.
The author of the book is a Zionist. No mention of Palestinians.
Jason Stanley is interviewed about his new book How Propaganda Works
In How Propaganda Works (Princeton University Press, 2015), Jason Stanley develops an original theory of propaganda according to which propaganda is the deployment of an ideal against itself. Along the way, Stanley distinguishes various kinds of propaganda and explores the connections between propaganda, ideology, stereotypes, and group identities. Stanley's central thesis is that propaganda poses an epistemological problem for democracy, as propaganda is the vehicle by which false beliefs are disseminated and opportunities for knowledge are closed.
The book's blurbed by Chomsky, as "a novel and significant contribution that should revitalize political philosophy." Propagandists are introducing foreign substances into our precious bodily fluids.
But journalistic forces and manipulation can also act more subtly. Like the Trojan Horse, they introduce heteronomous agents into autonomous worlds. Supported by external forces, these agents are accorded an authority they cannot get from their peers. These writers for nonwriters or philosophers for nonphilosophers and the like, have television value, a journalistic weight that is not commensurate with their particular weight in their particular world. 
…What I find it difficult to justify is the fact that the extension of the audience [made possible by television] is used to legitimate the lowering of the standards of entry into the field. People may object to this as elitism, a simple defense of the citadel of big science and high culture, or even an attempts to close out ordinary people (by trying to close off television to those who with their honoraria and their and showy lifestyles, claim to be representative of ordinary men and women, on the pretext that they can be understood by these people and will get high audience ratings). In fact, I am defending the conditions necessary for the production and diffusion of the highest human creations. To escape the twin traps of elitism and demagoguery we must work to maintain or even to raise the requirements for the right of entry –the entry fee- into the fields of production.
Pierre Bourdieu -and the rest of them- as Jack D. Ripper


The gift that keeps on giving.  Brighouse, again (most recently here)

Is having a loving family an unfair advantage? Yes, but the state should allow parents to read to their children while perhaps not to send them to expensive private schools. Behind philosophy qua philosophy -the specious search for truth- the power of the state to give and take away. And of course on education G.A. Cohen disagrees.

Liberalism considers the tension between inequality and fairness, but not between freedom and obligation. The state alone regulates behavior assumed to be base and vulgar. A superior force holds our violence in check. It's a model of Weberian authoritarianism; in a nation of laws there is no need for virtue. Cohen thought so, certainly.
It's difficult to expect a person who lives in a particular social niche to depress the circumstances of himself and his family below a certain level even for the sake of principles that he sincerely affirms.
Holbo on Nazis twice. Were The Nazis Right-Wing? In What Sense Were The Nazis Socialists?

For Holbo as for his wife.
As Waring points out herself, tenure or no tenure, she’s not really at liberty to say what she thinks anyway. That’s a handicap for a writer. Maybe she should write about something else.

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