Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Self-described leftists mocking the unenlightened and unwashed for science denial, mocking economic pseudoscience, and mocking technocratic scientist/political managers for massaging science in the service of messaging, all in turn, without batting an eye.

"Leftist" academic "intellectuals",  expressing adoration for the political and the intellectual life of prewar and interwar Europe, celebrating Vienna and Weimar without admitting to themselves what it means to love those things.

When I was a 9 year old—I'd said 12—copying George Grosz and listening or Brecht and Weil, I wanted a homburg with the brim turned down on one side. I didn't want to be a socialist or a fascist. I wanted to be immune. I understood what these idiots don't understand at 25 or 40. We're all part of the fucking disease.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Don't Look Up isn't very good; mostly it's bad, and it's worth thinking about why. But it includes the most gloriously over the top attack on autism as an ideal that I've ever seen. 

Sirota is ballyhooing, and complaining about "elite" critics, attacking corporate media and bragging about success, in corporate media. Blind enthusiasm and self-congratulation are a problem both for the film its makers. The differences between their film and the films they mock aren't as big as they pretend.

Related, since Larry Summers and antitrust, efficiency and supply-chains are in the news again...

"The emerging claim that antitrust can combat inflation reflects 'science denial'”.  

I searched the archives, but I have a short memory. I didn't have to go very far at all. It's got pretty much everything, including economics and science fiction.

This one's good too, economic pseudoscience, left-liberal utilitarianism and the moralists' understanding of art. 

Also: Saint-Simon

My first reference to the inverse relation of efficiency to stability was an annoyed comment to Dani Rodrik in 2008. It seemed obvious then.

Dani Rodrik, Angus Deaton, Krugman, and Quiggin.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

I've said before: Didion was a conservative. She wasn't a "law and order" conservative. She was an anti-utopian, pessimistic observer of the world. She saw no "beckoning light"

I return to the same piece because it suits my purposes: the relation of art and politics, individual and collective.

Didion humanized the Central Park 5 without claiming their innocence. She knew the difference between sympathy and pity. Jim Sleeper accused her of being drawn "like a moth to a flame", which she was, but not for the reasons he assumed. She had the journalistic distance of a voyeur, against Sleeper's moralism and his assumptions about the accused. Their exoneration made Sleeper the loser in his argument with Didion, but it does nothing to what Didion wrote, since she wasn't arguing, and their actual guilt or innocence was irrelevant. She was describing something larger. We're back to Baudelaire, Eliot, James, and "disinterest", touched with perversity because turning life and suffering into art is morally ambiguous, and turning others' pain into art is more so. Surgeons enjoy surgery. "I’m a smooth type of fellow, cool, calm, and mellow" rapped Yusef Salaam at his sentencing. When I was placed across the table from Ann Beattie at dinner at Roger Angell's summer house she looked at me as material, cruising me with flat directness, but not for sex. Didion would have been more discreet.  

On misplaced self-respect. Didion's description of the jogger's world, close to her own, and the liberal feminism of "Take Back the Night" is cutting. This is what people forget. She spent paragraphs describing the design process behind Central Park. It wasn't made to be safe at night—a "safe space"—because in a park not in s police state it's impossible. Freedom demands prudence

“[T]he wave of young professionals who took over New York in the 1980’s,” has spread out into the boroughs. Brooklyn is the new Upper West Side, the new home of the literary class. The working class is pushed aside. Didion and Dunne lived on the Upper East Side and Beverly Hills. 30 years ago an assistant editor at the NYR, a thin white boy-man sniffed contempt for Didion as someone who had fallen off the perch he'd put her on in high school. "They want it both ways...", LA and NY, Hollywood and whatever he thought was serious. He was a snobbish moralizing self-hating faggot, and he'd worshipped her. Like Bacharach, he'd turned self-hatred in a form of idealism; but unlike him, he'd begun with Didion and not Ayn Rand. I found out years later he'd quit the job in and gone to business school. Bacharach can still celebrate Didion as "camp": a knowing fake and failure. What interests him most about her is in fact her weakest point.
In the recent documentary that her nephew, Griffin Dunne, did for Netflix, he asks her what she thought when she was hanging in Haight-Ashbury and saw a young child high on LSD, and she gets this sly smile and says, shamelessly, “It was gold!” Which is what I would say if I were playing a drag version of her.

He likes the little touch of journalistic nihilism. And it's a quote from a conversation. In her writing she's more careful about crossing the line from observation to indulgence. 

Didion's writing as writing gives me pleasure because I sense the contradictions, in the tone and the precision of the language, as form and representation. I sense them because I'm in sympathy with them, part of me all of the time, or all of me part of the time. That sympathy predates my reading her, so her pulling her interests and herself apart interests me by way of comparison. I learn things about her, the world, and myself. It annoys me no end that Pynchon is incapable of writing an essay without going into cutesy false modesty. Whatcha gonna do? 
The last paragraph of "Sentimental Journeys" 

That there might well be, in a city in which the proliferation of and increase in taxes were already driving private-sector payrolls out of town, hardly anyone left to tax for such public works and public-sector jobs was a point not too many people wished seriously to address: among the citizens of a New York come to grief on the sentimental stories told in defense of its own lazy criminality, the city’s inevitability remained the given, the heart, the first and last word on which all the stories rested. We love New York, the narrative promises, because it matches our energy level.

Someone will write something about Didion and her beginnings as a Goldwater Girl and California libertarianism. But it won't be me. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Michael Young, June 2001, The Guardian 

I have been sadly disappointed by my 1958 book, The Rise of the Meritocracy. I coined a word which has gone into general circulation, especially in the United States, and most recently found a prominent place in the speeches of Mr Blair.

The book was a satire meant to be a warning (which needless to say has not been heeded) against what might happen to Britain between 1958 and the imagined final revolt against the meritocracy in 2033.

I figured I had to have done this years ago. I've never been able to read the word straight, even before I knew the origin. But people still do, especially the people claiming to oppose it. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2021


"I've had someone saying they would rather kill me than Hitler," says 24-year-old Jennie*.

"They said they would strangle me with a belt if they were in a room with me and Hitler. That was so bizarrely violent, just because I won't have sex with trans women."

I missed the follow-up: BBC Article Sparks Backlash Against Survivors of Assault

"When asked to comment on this pattern of coercion and assault, Stonewall’s CEO compared same-sex attraction to racism."

The article quickly gained traction on social media. It received hundreds of letters, in support and complaint. Caroline Lowbridge, the journalist behind it, received so much abuse that she was forced to delete her Twitter account. And the backlash didn’t stop there.

When asked to comment on this pattern of coercion and assault, Stonewall’s CEO compared same-sex attraction to racism. “Nobody should ever be pressured into dating, or pressured into dating people they aren’t attracted to,” Nancy Kelley told the BBC. “But if you find that when dating, you are writing off entire groups of people, like people of color, fat people, disabled people or trans people, then it’s worth considering how societal prejudices may have shaped your attractions.”

Stonewall was founded as a gay rights charity. Yet its most senior figure disregarded lesbian survivors and likened being gay to a form of bigotry. Kelley’s homophobic remarks raise serious questions about Stonewall’s claim to stand for “acceptance without exception.”

Novara Media editor Ash Sarkar echoed Kelley’s comments. She compared lesbians saying they don’t want penis-in-vagina sex to racists not wanting relationships with women of color:...

Columnist Owen Jones described the testimonies of these lesbians as “conspiratorial hate.” He did not acknowledge their experiences of sexual coercion and rape, instead framing a group of survivors as the oppressor: 

“It’s beyond belief that the BBC published such unbelievably appalling journalism, based on no reliable data and the testimonies of anti-trans activists. You’d expect to find this sort of conspiratorial hate on the darkest recesses of the internet, not on the BBC.”

And Dr Finn MacKay, a feminist researcher and activist, Tweeted that it’s “…outrageous that the BBC has produced a lengthy, anecdotal, opinion piece that headlines with, & promotes the idea that, trans women specifically are a rape threat & particularly to lesbians.”

“I was one of the women interviewed for this article,” responded Kat Howard. “You can choose not to believe my ‘anecdotal evidence’ but myself and two other lesbians were all assaulted by the same transwoman at university, and we were targeted BECAUSE we were lesbians. That is a problem, I’d say.”

Lesbians are accused, but not gay men. 

...if only you knew this fantasy's charms, if only you could understand what one experiences from the sweet illusion of being no more than a woman! incredible inconsistency I one abhors that sex, yet one wishes to imitate it! Ah! how sweet it is to succeed, ... 

Lesbians are accused, but not gay men, or heterosexuals. 

Sunday, December 19, 2021

It has been said of Kafka’s work many times that the thing to remember is that it is funny. Kafka was known to laugh uncontrollably when reading his work aloud to friends, and though that sounds more like anxiety than hilarity to me,...

Laughter is anxiety.

A scenario [from 2010]:

At the end of WWII, in a newly liberated concentration camp. The former prisoners are about to be bused to a DP camp and a few of them rebel, overpowering the Allied soldiers and barricading themselves inside their old prison. Other survivors come back to join them, also now refusing to leave. Word spreads and the Allied commanders become increasingly nervous that the rebellion could grow.  After a discussion they agree and order their troops to attack. The fight is brief but brutal. The rebels are killed and the forced exodus resumes. The movie is shot at Buchenwald and the Jews are played by Turks. The film is shot in German,  English, Russian and Turkish.
The name of the movie is "Masada."

"Hey Seth, this is the story? Thanks for thinking of us, but I'm afraid it's a pass this time." 

S.E.: How about this one?

I had provided myself with the popular books of the day (this was sixteen or seventeen years ago), and for two weeks I had never left my room. I am speaking now of those books that treat of the art of making nations happy, wise and rich in twenty-four hours. I had therefore digested—swallowed, I should say—alI the lucubrations of all the authorities on the happiness of society—those who advise the poor to become slaves, and those who persuade them that they are all dethroned kings. So it is not astonishing if I was in a state of mind bordering on stupidity or madness. Only it seemed to me that deep in my mind, I was conscious of an obscure germ of an idea, superior to all the old wives’ formulas whose dictionary I had just been perusing But it was only the idea of an idea, something infinitely vague. And I went out with a great thirst, for a passionate taste for bad books engenders a proportionate desire for the open air and for refreshments.

As I was about to enter a tavern, a beggar held out his hat to me, and gave me one of those unforgettable glances which might overturn thrones if spirit could move matter, and if the eyes of a mesmerist could ripen grapes. At the same time I heard a voice whispering in my ear, a voice I recognized: it was that of a good Angel, or of a good Demon, who is always following me about. Since Socrates had his good Demon, why should I not have my good Angel, and why should I not have the honour, like Socrates, of obtaining my certificate of folly, signed by the subtle Lélut and by the sage Baillarger? There is this difference between Socrates’ Demon and mine: his did not appear except to defend, warn or hinder him, whereas mine deigns to counsel, suggest, or persuade. Poor Socrates had only a prohibitive Demon; mine is a great master of affirmations, mine is a Demon of action, a Demon of combat. And his voice was now whispering to me: “He alone is the equal of another who proves it, and he alone is worthy of liberty who knows how to obtain it.”

Immediately, I sprang at the beggar. With a single blow of my fist, I closed one of his eyes, which became, in a second, as big as a ball. In breaking two of his teeth I split a nail; but being of a delicate constitution from birth, and not used to boxing, I didn't feel strong enough to knock the old man senseless; so I seized the collar of his coat with one hand, grasped his throat with the other, and began vigorously to beat his head against a wall. I must confess that I had first glanced around carefully, and had made certain that in this lonely suburb I should find myself, for a short while, at least, out of immediate danger from the police.

Next, having knocked down this feeble man of sixty with a kick in the back sufficiently vicious to have broken his shoulder blades, I picked up a big branch of a tree which lay on the ground, and beat him with the persistent energy of a cook pounding a tough steak.

All of a sudden—O miracle! O happiness of the philosopher proving the excellence of his theory!—I saw this ancient carcass turn, stand up with an energy I should never have suspected in a machine so badly out of order, and with a glance of hatred which seemed to me of good omen, the decrepit ruffian hurled himself upon me, blackened both my eyes, broke four of my teeth, and with the same tree-branch, beat me to a pulp. Thus by an energetic treatment, I had restored to him his pride and his life. Then I motioned to him to make him understand that I considered the discussion ended, and getting up. I said to him, with all the satisfaction of a Sophist of the Porch: “Sir, you are my equal! Will you do me the honour of sharing my purse, and will you remember, if you are really philanthropic, that you must apply to all the members of your profession, when they seek alms from you, the theory it has been my misfortune to practice on your back?”

He swore to me that he had understood my theory, and that he would carry out my advice.
I get a reply. 

Dear Seth

Hey, happy new year and thanks for sending this our way. I'm sorry to pass, but I think it's a strong story and anyone would be lucky to have it—we're just really backed up as we don't publish all that much fiction and I have to be extra choosey. But I think it's great you've been able to be productive and wish you much luck in placing this elsewhere. Godspeed.


Allende won 36.2% in a three way race. Boric won 56% against one opponent.
The poster was in the stash I donated to MoMA.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Both pairs from Greenwald, a libertarian moralist who likes to play gotcha when it suits him. As someone pointed out about the second, Rumble has speech codes.  
Assange is a nihilist, but he's not the issue. And the idiots don't know what free speech means, or why it's important. They defend speech for the same reason they defend wealth, or they defend "good" speech, or just end up defending people or statements and not principle. And they do it blindly. Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez at least are politicians making political calculations. But she has a conversation with Chomsky at Guillotine, and Assange doesn't even come up. And Chomsky of course is a Zionist. Gotcha.

Greenwald has gone from partnering with the founder of Ebay to partnering with the founder of Twitter, helping private wealth undermine the goal of a functioning government, while attacking unions. He's supporting the "third way" candidate in Brazil. But remember, Tucker Carlson and Steve Bannon are "socialists"

And then this: thanking "twitter safety" for asking people to take their mockery down a notch, reminding us of our "common humanity". Hypocrisy turning on a dime is pathological. Greenwald doesn't fucking understand free speech. He defends Tucker Carlson only by denying Carlson's bigotry. But free speech is the right to ridicule, to express utter fucking contempt, to be cruel. It's the defense of the opposite of "acceptable speech". It's the defense of the rights of Nazis to speak and mine to treat them like shit. Better that than management of unquestioned authority. In a free society civility and courtesy are things each of us needs to choose in our own time.

And journalism is ambulance chasing; it's sleazy, vulgar, by definition and necessity.  And since Greenwald brings up his arguments about "political journalists" condemning Zero Dark 30, I'll repeat my review of them, and it.

An honest journalist: "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?"

Monday, December 13, 2021

The Times UK 

Police have been criticised for saying they will record rapes by offenders with male genitalia as being committed by a woman if the attacker “identifies as a female”.

Police Scotland said that they would log rapes as being carried out by a woman if the accused person insists, even if they have not legally changed gender.

...Plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act were shelved by the SNP government last parliamentary term amid internal divisions and concerns about women’s rights, but the SNP and Greens’ power-sharing deal at Holyrood commits them to completing the process by the middle of next year.

The policy analysis group MurrayBlackburnMackenzie is campaigning for Police Scotland to be required to accurately record the sex of people charged with rape or attempted rape. Lisa Mackenzie, a member of the group, warned: “For such offences, it will only take a few misclassified cases to skew the statistics.”

Detective Superintendent Fil Capaldi said: “The sex/gender identification of individuals who come into contact with the police will be based on how they present or how they self-declare, which is consistent with the values of the organisation. Police Scotland requires no evidence or certification as proof of biological sex or gender identity other than a person’s self-declaration, unless it is pertinent to any investigation with which they are linked.” 

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Ten years ago: Dylan Riley on Tony Judt. 

2020, on Erik Olin Wright, 

In ‘a Tale of Two Marxisms’, his stimulating critique of the life-work of Erik Olin Wright, Michael Burawoy raises a crucial question for the left. What is the relationship between capitalist development and the project of socialism? In the classical Marxist schema, the competitive and unplanned nature of capitalist investment meant that manufacturing overproduction would result in periodic, and perhaps worsening, crises. At the same time, capitalism was producing a new class, the industrial proletariat, with the capacity to establish another form of social production based on democratic planning—and with a keen interest in so doing. The scientific analysis of capitalist development was thus intimately linked to the socialist political project. The factory and, later, the large corporation contained the cell form of the planned society to come, while the working class provided the social muscle for its achievement.

The strong point in this account has always been its explanation of the rhythms of capitalist production; its weak point was its sociology of class formation. As Bernstein observed in 1899, capitalist society does not simply produce class polarizations, but a host of intermediate positions as well. Subsequent thinkers, from Sorel to Wright and Burawoy’s ‘sociological Marxism’ and beyond, have pondered whether these layers could unite in an anticapitalist coalition.2 Yet as Burawoy points out, Wright’s interventions in this discussion were somewhat paradoxical. Rather than producing a new synthesis of class analysis and socialist politics, the two demarcated different phases of his intellectual career: class theories and empirical investigations of increasing scale and complexity preoccupied Wright through the seventies and eighties; the ambitious international project of Envisioning Real Utopias and its satellite volumes consumed his energies over the next thirty years. In this cursus, class analysis and real utopias seemed to have little to do with one another.

This poses what Burawoy correctly identifies here as the central conundrum of Wright’s work: the move 'from a class analysis without utopia to utopia without class analysis.'

2017, on Bourdieu

Given this intellectual and political profile, it is quite understandable that Bourdieu would be an unavoidable point of reference for the contemporary intellectual left: a brilliant and indefatigable sociologist who combines the intellectual sophistication of Lévi-Strauss or Jean-Paul Sartre with the empirical rigor of Anglo-American survey research and ethnography while also carrying on the venerable French tradition of the engaged intellectual, especially toward the end of his life. Indeed, the social theory that he has singlehandedly created is to the contemporary intellectual left what neo-Marxism was to the students of the 1960s.

Distinctively, however, Bourdieu, while attractive to the avant-garde, also appeals to the stolid mainstream of American social science, whose tolerance for French imports is usually quite limited. What explains this strikingly broad appeal? This essay will consider two accounts: the view that Bourdieu’s is a grand sociological theory (or what I will refer to hereafter as a macrosociological theory) like those of Marx, Weber, or Durkheim, and a contrasting view that Bourdieu’s sociology resonates with the social conditions that char- acterize elite academics, especially in the United States.

Macrosociological theories are distinguished by their explanatory ambition. In particular they have three characteristics: They link structural divisions in society to observable behaviors; they develop explanations for why, given those divisions, societies can reproduce themselves; and they sketch the processes through which societies change. When successful, these theories thus offer some account of stratification, reproduction, and social change. Marx’s theories of class conflict and mode of production, Weber’s sociology of domination, and Durkheim’s accounts of the division of labor, anomie, and social solidarity are all macrosociological theories in this sense. Bourdieu’s work also presents itself as just such a theory, but a close examination of his work reveals that his explanations are often tautological or weak. Indeed, this essay strongly endorses Philip Gorski’s recent claim that “Bourdieu’s oeuvre does not contain a general theory of social change.” This, I argue, poses a puzzle: If Bourdieu’s sociology is largely nonexplanatory, his current popularity cannot be accounted for by the power of its macrosociology.

I then turn to a second account suggesting that Bourdieu’s appeal is based on the unmatched ability of his work to articulate the experiences and political hopes of elite academics in the contemporary period. 

 The last paragraph on Olin Wright. 

This brings us to a simple question. What is the purpose of re-describing the socialist project in terms that confusingly equate it with a variety of patently non-socialist institutions and outcomes, just because these seem to be in some way tangible? The problem of socialism doesn’t strike me as a lack of vision; the goal is human emancipation in every dimension, as it has been from the start. The problem is political: the need for a collective will. Re-describing present-day institutions as if they were ‘partly socialist’ has only a soporific function. Socialists would be better served, in my view, by a comprehensive investigation of their opponents’ resources and an unremitting analysis of the system’s weak links. This, it seems to me, is the most useful way of honouring the memory of Erik Olin Wright.

"the goal is human emancipation in every dimension,..."  After all the clear analysis, it's a pity.

The simplest reminder that I know that utopian bullshit does nothing but undermine the fight for actual existing human decency: Harry Brighouse's sincere belief that Beyoncé Knowles would be a good running mate for Hillary Clinton.

Fallen Rock Stars of the 70s. It should be a tag.

"the goal..." The other option would be to read it as an explication of conflicts within religious doctrine, with no claims made for the beliefs themselves. But given the source...

Thursday, December 09, 2021

continuing, on Srinivasan.

The Right to Sex: What the reviewers say. 

For Srinivasan, the notion that people who are fat or transgender or simply don’t fit the white and blond mould are sexually undesirable is a matter for political contestation and moral analysis ... It is a compelling argument ... The book effectively highlights how sexual desire – who we are and are not attracted to – is political and affected by the prevalent injustices in society and relevant to their elimination ...

Srinivasan 2018, LRB

In the hours between murdering three men in his apartment and driving to Alpha Phi, Rodger went to Starbucks, ordered coffee, and uploaded a video, ‘Elliot Rodger’s Retribution’, to his YouTube channel. He also emailed a 107,000-word memoir-manifesto, ‘My Twisted World: The Story of Elliot Rodger’, to a group of people including his parents, his therapist, former schoolteachers and childhood friends. Together these two documents detail the massacre to come and Rodger’s motivation. ‘All I ever wanted was to fit in and live a happy life,’ he explains at the beginning of ‘My Twisted World’, ‘but I was cast out and rejected, forced to endure an existence of loneliness and insignificance, all because the females of the human species were incapable of seeing the value in me.’

He goes on to describe his privileged and happy early childhood in England – Rodger was the son of a successful British filmmaker – followed by his privileged and unhappy adolescence in Los Angeles as a short, bad-at-sports, shy, weird, friendless kid, desperate to be cool. He writes of dyeing his hair blond (Rodger was half-white and half-Malaysian; blond people were ‘so much more beautiful’); of finding ‘sanctuary’ in Halo and World of Warcraft; being shoved by a pretty girl at summer camp (‘That was the first experience of female cruelty I endured, and it traumatised me to no end’); becoming incensed by the sex lives of his peers (‘How could an inferior, ugly black boy be able to get a white girl and not me? I am beautiful, and I am half-white myself. I am descended from British aristocracy. He is descended from slaves’); dropping out of successive schools and then community college; and fantasising about a political order in which he ruled the world and sex was outlawed (‘All women must be quarantined like the plague they are’). The necessary result of all this, Rodger said, was his ‘War on Women’, in the course of which he would ‘punish all females’ for the crime of depriving him of sex. He would target the Alpha Phi sorority, ‘the hottest sorority of UCSB’, because it contained ‘the very girls who represent everything I hate in the female gender ... hot, beautiful blonde girls ... spoiled, heartless, wicked bitches’. He would show everyone that he was ‘the superior one, the true alpha male’.

Late in 2017, the online discussion forum Reddit closed down its 40,000-member ‘Incel’ support group, for ‘people who lack romantic relationships and sex’. 


"I've had someone saying they would rather kill me than Hitler," says 24-year-old Jennie*.

"They said they would strangle me with a belt if they were in a room with me and Hitler. That was so bizarrely violent, just because I won't have sex with trans women."

Jennie is a lesbian woman. She says she is only sexually attracted to women who are biologically female and have vaginas. She therefore only has sex and relationships with women who are biologically female.

Jennie doesn't think this should be controversial, but not everyone agrees. She has been described as transphobic, a genital fetishist, a pervert and a "terf" - a trans exclusionary radical feminist.

Male self-hatred and misogyny, non-white self-hatred, self-hating Jewish boys and Shiksa Goddesses. Passing

Srinivasan in 2021 in the New Yorker

Today’s trans-exclusionary feminists typically claim that they seek to dismantle a gender system that oppresses girls and women. Yet they tend to reinforce the dominant view that certain bodies must present in particular ways. Although officially on the side of butch lesbians, who are, they say, existentially threatened by “gender ideology,” trans-exclusionary feminists support laws that make such women’s access to public spaces precarious: since the start of the “bathroom wars,” butch lesbians in the U.K. report being increasingly harassed in women’s bathrooms. Meanwhile, trans-exclusionary feminists often criticize trans women for embracing stereotypical femininity. A few years ago, the British philosopher Kathleen Stock tweeted, “I reject regressive gender stereotypes for women, which is partly why I won’t submit to an ideology that insists womanhood is a feeling, then cashes that out in sexist terms straight from 50s.” In a new book, “Material Girls: Why Reality Matters for Feminism,” Stock rows back from this sentiment: “It seems strange to blame trans women for their attraction to regressive female-associated stereotypes when apparently so many non-trans women are attracted to them too.” Yet the reprieve is partial. Her view is that being trans—immersing oneself in a “fiction” that one is of the “opposite” sex owing to a strong identification with it—is a species of gender-nonconforming behavior that can be morally tolerated, but not in cases where it might pose any risk to non-trans women. For Stock, that bar is so high she is not sure that even using a trans person’s pronouns clears it. A journalist recently told me that she found a high-profile trans woman’s embrace of femininity “grotesque.” When Shon Faye, the author of “The Transgender Issue,” a powerful new call for trans liberation, was asked to host Amnesty International’s Women Making History event in 2018, one feminist tweeted a photo of her with the description “a biologically male person, performing as a blow up doll.”

At the same time, trans-exclusionary feminists often ridicule trans women who fail to “pass” as cis women. In 2009, Germaine Greer wrote of “people who think they are women, have women’s names, and feminine clothes and lots of eyeshadow who seem . . . to be a kind of ghastly parody.” And such feminists tend to be dismissive of nonbinary people, who, in their refusal of gender distinction, have a good claim to being the truest vanguard of gender abolition.


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.

Liberal intellectuals admit that orientalism is racism. They're opposed to anti-Semitism. And they're Zionists. And now...

googling, I find Schliesser, linking to Srinivasan chatting it up with Tyler fucking Cowen: 

Zionism, "Europe's stability rest[ing] in the capable hands of Angela Merkel", Libertarian Social Darwinism,  and... 

Cowen: You’ve described yourself as a utopian feminist.

Jesus fucking Christ. What a disaster.

Monday, December 06, 2021

updated, AGAIN, because... 

Rawls’s highly abstract and intricate philosophical system was not a flight from the real world’s effects on him, Forrester argues, but rather a direct response to the harrowing experiences, personal and political, that had shaped much of the first three decades of his life.
It was both. And we're back to Calvino. It doesn't matter if it's Chomsky and linguistics-as-physics, or de Man, Robbe-Grillet and Feyerabend, or Quine, who combines them, or Rawls. It's all Post-war intellectual formalism. 
In related news, Matt Bruenig is autistic. So fucking perfect.

Philosophy is literature. The history of literature is scholarship.

Twice this week I've come across people writing on art and "the arts", critics with a wide following, who are so unsophisticated it makes me howl. If art were made for aesthetes, dandies would be the ideal. They fantasize art without effort, without "the mud and the flies", alongside their twins, self-identified as artless: the junkie bohemians. Working artists are surrounded with these types. They talk and drink with them and fuck them. They make work about them: they're raw material. But artists aren't lazy; they're obsessed with work.
Philosophers try to make art safe or try to ban it. And now we have a generation of earnest college graduates, and above, who either celebrate corporate entertainment as great art or disdain it as inferior. They love "Art". They love to talk about it. And they're endlessly optimistic.

A comment that labeled me a "nihilist":

12 years ago on the subway, I watched a man playing the accordion. My first thought was that he knew how to handle a knife. His playing was hard, cold and precise, but it was turned in an instant from jagged to fluid, from points to curves, swooping and stabbing. The music described the violent moral universe that made him. He was trailed by a stoop-shouldered woman with a cup. The expression on her face was heartbreaking.

He was the sort of man who could side with fascists or republicans, but he wasn't either. He was the sort of man Borges worshipped, but who held Borges in contempt. 

Amia Srinivasan's conflicts are more than skin deep: "The corollary of bro is babe". 

Srinivasan mentions "a black queer porn director with a film degree from the San Francisco Art Institute". That brings us back to Laura Kipnis and George Kuchar.

more on this. It's a fucking disaster.

Sunday, December 05, 2021

psychologists confirm: the anti-Semites were right

American Psychological Association, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Personality Processes and Individual Difference 
Ekin Ok, Yi Qian, Brendan Strejcek, and Karl Aquino
University of British Columbia

We investigate the consequences and predictors of emitting signals of victimhood and virtue. In our first three studies, we show that the virtuous victim signal can facilitate nonreciprocal resource transfer from others to the signaler. Next, we develop and validate a victim signaling scale that we combine with an established measure of virtue signaling to operationalize the virtuous victim construct. We show that individuals with Dark Triad traits—Machiavellianism, Narcissism, Psychopathy—more frequently signal virtuous victimhood, controlling for demographic and socioeconomic variables that are commonly associated with victimization in Western societies. In Study 5, we show that a specific dimension of Machiavellianism—amoral manipulation—and a form of narcissism that reflects a person’s belief in their superior prosociality predict more frequent virtuous victim signaling. Studies 3, 4, and 6 test our hypothesis that the frequency of emitting virtuous victim signal predicts a person’s willingness to engage in and endorse ethically questionable behaviors, such as lying to earn a bonus, intention to purchase counterfeit products and moral judgments of counterfeiters, and making exaggerated claims about being harmed in an organizational context.

Keywords: Dark Triad, unethical behavior, victim-signaling, victimization, virtue-signaling 

"The cry that one is a victim of injustice, oppression, intolerance, or any of the myriad reasons why people believe they are prevented from getting what they want in life has echoed loudly through the ages. It remains so today..... "

PhD Candidate in Marketing and Behavioral Science

BA (Harvard), MA (Harvard), Ph.D. (Harvard) Associate Professor, Marketing and Behavioral Science Division

Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, OBHRM & Marketing Areas

BSc (Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), MSc, PhD (Northwestern)
Richard Poon Professor of Organizations and Society at the UBC Sauder School of Business, Marketing and Behavioural Science Division

I found the paper months ago through something retweeted by Jilani
People who more often signal their victimhood are more likely to lie, cheat, and engage in other unethical behaviors in order to get ahead, even at others’ expense.
The archetypical anti-Semitic description of Jews.  Jilani of course used it as it was intended, against any and every other discontented subgroup that has faced or faces discrimination. 

The link in the tweet—I replaced it with a link to the APA page—takes us to Gwern Branwen; and Cory Clark herself is another trip, publishing with proponents of "human bio-diversity". It's two hops from Bo Winegard to Noah Carl to Richard Lynn. It took me 3 minutes to find the route. Do it yourself. And of course every one of the authors of the paper studies human behavior in the service of marketing, as specialists in the condescending happy-talk of "positive psychology", from Seligman to Pinker, Haidt and Lukianoff, and the whole sorry lot. None of that is to say anything about the research itself. The results are unoriginal and obvious: people do what they need to to survive. Scars last for generations; trauma is passed down. The history of how that was accepted, denied, and accepted again is more than anything the story of the rise and decline of ideology and ideal form. Psychology dealt with honestly is not a field for optimists.   

I thought I'd written something about Seligman before, but I think that was from my twitter days.

The above reminded me that Jilani is on the Board of Advisors of the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism, which includes the usual reasonable, acceptable, bigots, and at least one overt anti-Semite, though again of course, he defends Israel.
Jewish exceptionalism and the exceptionalist nature of Jewish civilization require an unconditional space for the continued evolution of their civilization. What’s good for Jewish civilization is good for humanity at large. Jewish civilization is an international treasure trove that must be protected.

Not all cultures are indeed equal. Some are abysmally inferior and regressive based on their comprehensive philosophy and fundamental principles—or lack thereof—that guide or fail to protect the inalienable rights of their citizens.

Given the voting patterns of Palestinians—towards Islamicism and terrorist organizations for the most part—that openly advocate and work for Israeli and Jewish destruction and annihilation, a strong argument can and ought to be made to strip Palestinians of their right to vote—period. The regional hostilities towards Israel in the Middle East are such that Israel must take those threats seriously. It must work for a coalition of forces to neutralize them.  
But we've come to the point when the creatures of the culture of neoliberalism begin to examine the world that made them.
Organization Studies,  Money Matters: Teflonic Identity Manoeuvring in the Investment Banking Sector, Mats Alvesson, Maxine Robertson
In this paper we address identity issues in relation to senior employees in the UK investment banking sector. Drawing on in-depth material, the study demonstrates their marginal concerns about identity issues or engagement in what is typically viewed as identity work. Instead they had what we refer to as an identity minimalism orientation and met potential challenges to identity with what we conceptualize as teflonic identity manoeuvring. In so doing they were able to deflect attention away from themselves, enabling them to circumvent identity concerns. These employees drew upon material resources, specifically money, to rationalize this disposition and social (in particular, dress codes) and discursive resources (around professionalism) to bolster and sustain this disposition.
Professor of Organizational Studies, Lund University

Emerita Professor of Innovation and Organisation, Queen Mary School of Business and Management

repeats. The relation of corporate to academic life over time, and the Americanization of the world.

Advertising and Happy Talk, Liberals Make Nihilism Attractive, Pedants and Children, Race, Make it Idiot-Proof, Politics, Philosophy, Culture, Israel/Palestine

The arguments are all in the manuscript. It's embarrassing to say this all the time but I do. 

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Although Graeber and Wengrow concern themselves primarily with humanity’s early history, they begin by examining how Western thinkers have previously treated the subject, and in doing so they first turn to the French Enlightenment. This happens to be my own area of expertise, and I was curious to see what they would make of it. Quite frankly, I was appalled. 
The western romance of the other. David never understand culture because he denied that he had one. Utopianism is religious. The White Goddess, and Dungeons and Dragons. I'm not going to spend the money to read Appiah's review.

I forgot I have a second NYRB account that I can use to read recent articles. Once you start paying and then let it expire, you lose the option.

Then there’s Mashkan-shapir in Iraq, which flourished four thousand years ago. “Intensive archaeological survey,” we’re told, “revealed a strikingly even distribution of wealth” and “no obvious center of commercial or political power.” Here they’re summarizing an article by the archaeologists who excavated the site—an article that actually refers to disparities of household wealth and a “walled-off enclosure in the west, which we believe was an administrative center,” and, the archaeologists think, may have had an administrative function similar to that of palaces elsewhere. The article says that Mashkan-shapir’s commercial and administrative centers were separate; when Graeber and Wengrow present this as the claim that it may have lacked any commercial or political center, it’s as if a hairbrush has been tugged through tangled evidence to make it align with their thesis.

They spend much time on Çatalhöyük, an ancient Anatolian city, or proto-city, that was first settled around nine thousand years ago. They claim that the archaeological record yields no evidence that the place had any central authority but ample evidence that the role of women was recognized and honored. The fact that more figurines have been found representing women than men signals, they venture, “a new awareness of women’s status, which was surely based on their concrete achievements in binding together these new forms of society.” What they don’t say is that the vast majority of the figurines are of animals, including sheep, cattle, and pigs; it’s possible to be less sanguine, then, about whether female figurines establish female empowerment. You may still find yourself persuaded that a preponderance of nude women among depictions of gendered human bodies is, as Graeber and Wengrow think, evidence for a gynocentric society. Just be prepared to be flexible: when they discuss the Bronze Age culture of Minoan Crete, the fact that only males are depicted in the nude will be taken as evidence for a gynocentric society. Then there’s the fact that 95 percent of Çatalhöyük hasn’t even been excavated; any sweeping claim about its social structure is bound to be a hostage to the fortunes of the dig.

And so it goes, as we hopscotch our way around the planet....

Appiah pretty much disgusts me as a thinker. Graeber only annoys me, for reasons of loyalty if nothing else. Both of them, as "liberal" or "anarchist" are asocial, anti-cosmopolitan individualists. Graeber's model of community is a fantasy dreamed up by someone for whom actual communality, common culture, was impossible.

Friday, November 26, 2021

The predictable end of "manualising" politics. Lisa Godson again, both times via Hussein Omar. 

"Lisa Godson is a historian of design and material culture, and also researches and writes about contemporary design."

The politics of design, of pedantry, of authoritarian scholasticism. Change comes from below. The managerial class leads from the motherfucking rear.

"I like to think of all of the arguments about the nature of art over the last two hundred years as a battle between the conservative and the reactionary."

Nov. 25th, The Toronto Sun: The Toronto District School Board appears to be reconsidering its nixing of a book by 2018 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nadia Murad because of concerns it could foster Islamophobia.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Given the bleak trajectory of American politics, I worry about progressives retreating into private life to preserve their sanity, a retreat that will only hasten democracy’s decay.
Because politics is a choice, not a necessity, at its worst a fantasy, a speculative fiction.

"Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series is perhaps the definitive expression of mid-century American liberalism."

"The nerdy classic is quite possibly the definitive statement of 20th Century American liberal thought."

Sci-fi was very much a young man's game, and its tropes -- rockets, extraterrestrials, etc. -- were interpreted by thinking adults as inherently juvenile indulgences. Sci-fi publications marketed themselves almost exclusively to adolescent boys, and the leading practitioners were only slightly more mature than their audience.

Zachary D. Carter, the author of a biography of Keynes, follows Krugman as a TV critic.

Asimov is Ayn Rand for people who think they've outgrown Ayn Rand, or Rand for PhDs.

repeats repeats repeats

"Science Fiction was created by men trying to get away from the alien environment populated by their wives."

The rise of a self-conscious geek culture, the proud celebration of the preadolescent imagination in adulthood, came in earnest ten years after the publication of One-Dimensional Man and the release of Dr. Strangelove, the title character an amalgam of Werner von Braun and the ur-geek von Neumann.  “If you say why not bomb them tomorrow, I say, why not today? If you say today at 5 o’clock, I say why not one o’clock?”

On that note, Henry seems to have dumped Tyler Cowen for Noah Smith.

But Henry is using the same Calvino quote he used 12 years ago, so I'll repeat the comments I made there at the time, repeating arguments I made 30 years before that. 

And they're still "struggling to come to terms with the obvious".

Comments on "literary fiction" at Language Log; deleted ones—I always save a copy—here.

If the video dies. Imagining the Future: Science Fiction and Social Science, with Farrell, Ada Palmer, Smith, Jo Walton. Moderator, Krugman. Introduction, Karen Sander. At the CUNY Gradate Center, on Zoom. 11/10/21

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Two links from Leiter.
Two letters, one from professional philosophers, one from scientists

Dear Chancellor Greenstein,

In your speech of 5 November 2021, you said that “Students want breadth. They want to have a lot of choice for their majors and they should. Just as important, communities need them to have choice. Because we’re public. Because we owe ourselves to the state and to the students, the question is how do we provide people with the breadth of program choices they need.” The very next week you issued a directive to close “low-enrolled” majors. Here at Bloomsburg University, we have shuttered the Philosophy, Physics, Anthropology, and German majors. There was no discussion with affected parties, no seat at the decision-making table, no shared governance, no data offered or targets to meet, not even commiseration, just the hammer from above.

As philosophy faculty, students, alumni, and supporters of a broad-based liberal arts education, we implore you to reverse this decision and make a commitment to the continuance of the philosophy major at Bloomsburg and throughout the State System of Higher Education. Authentic higher education is not just worker training for businesses. Philosophy has been the central discipline of universities since Plato’s Academy. We invented logic, systematic ethics, and the natural sciences—philosophy is not some ephemeral, boutique area of study but the heart of the university. Young Pennsylvanians deserve the chance to improve their lives through the study of philosophy, and not just if they are privileged enough to go to U. Penn or Swarthmore.

We are not requesting an “opportunity” to re-apply for the major, which would no doubt involve promising unattainable deliverables to meet arbitrary benchmarks. It does not matter how many students major in philosophy; we will never attract as many as fields that are the names of jobs. What matters is that students have the choice that you promised on November 5th. What matters is that Bloomsburg University retain the philosophy major as our students deserve. We request that you guarantee its continuance.

A recent report from a Government NCEA working group on proposed changes to the Māori school curriculum aims “to ensure parity for mātauranga Māori with the other bodies of knowledge credentialed by NCEA (particularly Western/Pākehā epistemologies)”. It includes the following description as part of a new course: “It promotes discussion and analysis of the ways in which science has been used to support the dominance of Eurocentric views (among which, its use as a rationale for colonisation of Māori and the suppression of Māori knowledge); and the notion that science is a Western European invention and itself evidence of European dominance over Maori and other indigenous peoples.”

This perpetuates disturbing misunderstandings of science emerging at all levels of education and in science funding.These encourage mistrust of science. Science is universal, not especially Western European. It has origins in ancient Egypt. Mesopotamia, ancient Greece and later India. with significant contributions in mathematics, astronomy and physics from mediaeval Islam, before developing in Europe and later the US, with a strong presence across Asia.

Science itself does not colonise. It has been used to aid colonisation, as have literature and art. However, science also provides immense good, as well as greatly enhanced understanding of the world Science is helping us battle worldwide crises such as Covid, global warming. carbon pollution. biodiversity loss and environmental degradation. Such science is informed by the united efforts of many nations and cultures. We increasingly depend on science. perhaps for our very survival. The future of our world, and our species. cannot afford mistrust of science.

Indigenous knowledge is critical for the preservation and perpetuation of culture and local practices. and plays key roles in management and policy. However. in the discovery of empirical. universal truths. it falls far short of what we can define as science itself.

To accept it as the equivalent of science is to patronise and fail indigenous populations; better to ensure that everyone participates in the world's scientific enterprises. Indigenous knowledge may indeed help advance scientific knowledge in some ways, but it is not science. 

"We invented logic, systematic ethics, and the natural sciences." Rationalists did not invent empiricism. The history of navigation predates Thales by a thousand years. Philosophers didn't build the first house or road; they articulate and codify, then takes the credit for "creation", since following the diktats of theology in any culture, ideas must precede facts and events. 

The philosophers and the critics of the scientists' letter defend the primacy of metaphysics, either "western" or "indigenous". The philosophers' letter slides awkwardly between utilitarianism and humanism. The scientists don't question the existence or history of Māori technics.

The link in the second letter is to an article describing the responses. The letter itself is harder to find, but I found a screen grab and transcribed it. The NCEA Working Group's proposal is here.


addendum: looking through the archives I can't believe I didn't post this. I had a short email exchange with the Petsko at the time.
"A Faustian bargain", Gregory Petsko, in Genome Biology, 2010
An actual defense of the humanities.
Dear President Philip,

Probably the last thing you need at this moment is someone else from outside your university complaining about your decision. If you want to argue that I can't really understand all aspects of the situation, never having been associated with SUNY Albany, I wouldn't disagree. But I cannot let something like this go by without weighing in. I hope, when I'm through, you will at least understand why.

Just 30 days ago, on October 1st, you announced that the departments of French, Italian, Classics, Russian and Theater Arts were being eliminated. You gave several reasons for your decision, including that 'there are comparatively fewer students enrolled in these degree programs.' Of course, your decision was also, perhaps chiefly, a cost-cutting measure - in fact, you stated that this decision might not have been necessary had the state legislature passed a bill that would have allowed your university to set its own tuition rates. Finally, you asserted that the humanities were a drain on the institution financially, as opposed to the sciences, which bring in money in the form of grants and contracts.

Let's examine these and your other reasons in detail, because I think if one does, it becomes clear that the facts on which they are based have some important aspects that are not covered in your statement. First, the matter of enrollment. I'm sure that relatively few students take classes in these subjects nowadays, just as you say. There wouldn't have been many in my day, either, if universities hadn't required students to take a distribution of courses in many different parts of the academy: humanities, social sciences, the fine arts, the physical and natural sciences, and to attain minimal proficiency in at least one foreign language. You see, the reason that humanities classes have low enrollment is not because students these days are clamoring for more relevant courses; it's because administrators like you, and spineless faculty, have stopped setting distribution requirements and started allowing students to choose their own academic programs - something I feel is a complete abrogation of the duty of university faculty as teachers and mentors. You could fix the enrollment problem tomorrow by instituting a mandatory core curriculum that included a wide range of courses.

Young people haven't, for the most part, yet attained the wisdom to have that kind of freedom without making poor decisions. In fact, without wisdom, it's hard for most people. That idea is thrashed out better than anywhere else, I think, in Dostoyevsky's parable of the Grand Inquisitor, which is told in Chapter Five of his great novel, The Brothers Karamazov. In the parable, Christ comes back to earth in Seville at the time of the Spanish Inquisition. He performs several miracles but is arrested by Inquisition leaders and sentenced to be burned at the stake. The Grand Inquisitor visits Him in his cell to tell Him that the Church no longer needs Him. The main portion of the text is the Inquisitor explaining why. The Inquisitor says that Jesus rejected the three temptations of Satan in the desert in favor of freedom, but he believes that Jesus has misjudged human nature. The Inquisitor says that the vast majority of humanity cannot handle freedom. In giving humans the freedom to choose, Christ has doomed humanity to a life of suffering.

That single chapter in a much longer book is one of the great works of modern literature. You would find a lot in it to think about. I'm sure your Russian faculty would love to talk with you about it - if only you had a Russian department, which now, of course, you don't.

It goes on. It's worth reading.

"We're voting for the nigger" II

Liberals are confused

If capitalism were racist then white people would still be ruling the world.
On race, the changes for the better have increased the confusion.

repeats. from 2008 
So a canvasser goes to a woman's door in Washington, Pennsylvania. Knocks. Woman answers. Knocker asks who she's planning to vote for. She isn't sure, has to ask her husband who she's voting for. Husband is off in another room watching some game. Canvasser hears him yell back, "We're votin' for the nigger!"
Woman turns back to canvasser, and says brightly and matter of factly: "We're voting for the nigger."
Confusion, and not just for white people. There are more native blacks willing to express shock and horror at the the quote above and fewer willing to admit cynicism in public (black immigrants are more willing to shrug). As I said at the time, the quote made me laugh; that's when I knew Obambi was going to win. I'm sure he was happy when he read it.

Bill Clinton was the last white democrat who could go for the cracker vote. Obama went for it, as much as he could. Again, this was obvious at the time.
Josh Marshall initially thought the debate was a draw and wondered why Obama hadn't been more aggressive. The major newspapers with the exception of the NY Times also called it a draw. But the public says it's a clear win.

How would it have appeared to the block of narcissistic but all-important "undecided" white voters to see a young black man attack an old white man as aggressively as white liberals imagine they would if they were in his place? That's not to say Obama's reticence is conscious and strategic, only that it's how he's played the game; and it's important to understand he never had a choice.
From 2008 to 2010. In fact is was both conscious and strategic, though he never had a choice.
Obama, the "prep school negro". 
Top pic from Ben Rhodes. And the second doesn't undermine my comments on race and capitalism. Look at the numbers. America is not the world.

America is still a country of racists. It's a country of anti-Semites, but of course they support Israel. Zionists still identify as realists. White liberals, and Americans, are still trapped by their own guilt, self-pity, and self-interest.  

Monday, November 15, 2021

Ryan Cooper "good point about right-wing small business owners -- the core of the conservative movement -- being insanely pissed about the tight labor market"

Yakov Feygin: "The fascist social base is medium-sized local elites getting squeezed by more competitive firms."

The more competitive firms are global. International capital undermines democracy with bribery of the masses, something shopkeepers can't afford. 

Feygin works with Nils Gilman at the Berggruen Institute. Gilman: against citizenship.

repeats: Bruenig and the looter-intellectuals: liquidate the kulaks.

repeat from 2010. I forgot to add it at the link.
Compare and contrast 
One key to Germany's miracle is the mittelstand, as the family-owned small and mid-size manufacturing firms that dominate the economy are known. Last week, I visited AWS Achslagerwerk, a factory of one such firm, in the farmlands of Saxony-Anhalt, about two hours west of Berlin. As in many such companies, this factory turns out specialized products: axle-box housings for Chinese and German high-speed trains, machine tools requiring climate-controlled precision measurement. With annual revenue of 24 million euros, the factory has won a significant share of the world market, though it employs only 175 production workers.
Until Greece can find a way to disentangle the private sector from the family and find another way to allocate resources — free from the intergenerational, class and gender inequities of the family unit — no amount of reform will make a difference.

The European Union and the I.M.F. should forget about dismantling Greece’s (already puny) welfare state and increasing labor flexibility in the (already flexible) private sector. The public sector does need restructuring, but the resulting unemployment will only strengthen the dominance of the family. A better solution would be to create a real public safety net that would help free young Greeks from the supportive yet suffocating grip of their families.
Economics is an aspect of culture.
The logical and obvious argument for starting at the top. Technocratic idealists and pseudo-leftists start at the middle because they want to distance themselves from members of their own class.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

The Rittenhouse trial is a theater of the pathetic: from the judge to the baby faced murderer, to the "radical" victims, one convicted of sucking off 11 year olds, another who went after his grandmother with a knife, and the putz with the expired concealed carry license who "accidentally" pointed his gun at the perp; all white or "white identified". Varieties of self-loathing. 

Add to that the liberal fixation of race, when the fascists are so clearly multi-ethnic; white nationalists are happy to make common cause. 

Late Capitalist Fascism, Mikkel Bolt Rasmussen, Polity Press

What if fascism didn’t disappear at the end of WW II with the defeat of Hitler and Mussolini? Who the fuck said it did? Even more troubling, what if fascism can no longer be confined to political parties When the fuck was it confined to political parties?  or ultra nationalist politicians but has become?? something much more diffuse that is spread across our societies as cultural expressions and psychological states?

This is the disturbing thesis developed ??? by Mikkel Bolt Rasmussen, who argues that late capitalism has produced hollowed-out and exchangeable subjectivities that provide a breeding ground for a new kind of diffuse, banal fascism. There was an un-banal fascism? The overt and concentrated fascism of the new fascist parties thrives on the diffuse fascism present in social media and everyday life, where the fear of being left behind and losing out has fuelled resentment towards foreigners and others who are perceived as threats to a national community under siege.

Only by confronting both the overt fascism of parties and politicians and the diffuse fascism of everyday life will we be able to combat fascism effectively and prevent the slide into barbarism.

Bolt, and Dominique Routhier

"Realism 2020: Farewell to (Bourgeois) Art Criticism"

On February 25, 2020, the Christian Dior Autumn-Winter 2020 fashion show took place in the Tuileries Garden in Paris, in a 1.000 n12 building erected for the event. Over the delicately creme colored building entrance are four black letters: “Dior.”

I don't really care if they're writing about Dior to argue that the artist involved is a hypocrite. Their own hypocrisy, without a hint of self-awareness, is worse. The piece is published in a high-gloss art/glam magazine. The footnotes are the usual, but also this

[27] In the context of rising fascist tendencies in contemporary art, Dorian Batycka usefully defines the tactic of “overidentification” as “the act of identifying oneself to an excessive degree with ideas or concepts antithetical to one’s own ideology.”

"Is Accelerationism a Gateway Aesthetic to Fascism? On the Rise of Taboo in Contemporary Art".  Published in the same journal, uploaded on a blog called xenogothic. The name again.

The cast:

Dorian Batycka  art critic, curator @hyperallergic @theartnewspaper @artnet @coindesk  etc

Coindesk. Every link, to art, the art market, to capitalism and the world of luxury commodities. 

The diffuse fascism of everyday life precedes and outlasts the fascist state. These fucking idiots are symptoms of the fucking disease. One of them might get the joke. Was the Bauhaus decadent? Of course. Was Brecht?

 "What would it pleasure me to have my throat cut/ With diamonds?"

In the end it all dovetails.

A repeat from 2014, with additions, relating to Mark Fisher, art as life, fascism, and the rest.

Monday, November 08, 2021

"...paperback originals with French flaps, using a custom serif typeface"

in re: the contemporary ubiquity of academic discussions of "images": the art of the past framed thoughtlessly in the language of the present. Benjamin returns us to the Gothic in more ways than one; focusing on immateriality and ideas—ideas are immaterial—takes us out of the world. 

A monk staring at an icon is looking for "truth". Painters like storytellers are craftsmen, makers of fictions, illusions, and "lies". "There’s no art more ironic than a Fra Angelico."  Historians are secularists; priests are sincere. Philosophy is so fucking reactionary. 

new tag: The Same Story About Barthes

I used to be fond of "subaltern" academics in the west, but they've become so successful that the outsider status has become aestheticized. Academia serves its own interests. The romanticism of the international hereditary PMC: a discussion of Egyptian political prisoners is a discussion of prison abolition, which follows a discussion of Egyptian architectural modernism. Utopianism is anti-political. Academia is a safe space for priests and pedantry.
Put a pdf on the fucking web. Share it "for the revolution". Fuck "curators", "aestheticized politics", and "French flaps, using a custom serif typeface".  Fuck "Coffee table architectural favela porn.” 
And who gives a fuck about the fucking Queen?