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). 

repeats: Blyth and David Brooks,  Osterweil, and date night at 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.


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....


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. 

She'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.”


"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.

Saturday, September 04, 2021

I repeat from last year, with some additions

"I wasn’t hostile to May ’68, but whereas the people who participated in it saw it as a beginning, I saw it rather as an end. May ’68 was the first stone thrown into the pond of Marxism. The ideological collapse of Marxism began in ’68. Because I believe that May ’68, paradoxically, cured many people, including perhaps me, of communism and anticommunism. I think that the kind of Marxist fever that took place after May ’68 carried within it its condemnation and its end, it was a last flare-up. That’s how I saw May ’68, and that is why, personally, I remained absolutely indifferent, serene, with regard to what might happen. I continued with my work."
"Perhaps more than an ambiguity, it was an irony of history. The real legacy of May ’68, as we see in France today, is individualism, the rejection of civic sense and ideology, the rehabilitation of the idea that personal and financial success is a worthy pursuit — in short, a revival of capitalism. To borrow an expression of Lenin’s, we were useful idiots. Indeed, the uprising was more a counterrevolution than a revolution.... 

It was the strike, not the student revolt, that truly paralyzed the country for three long weeks. The paradox is that these two movements never encountered each other. The students marching toward the factories to “meet the workers” found the doors closed. The unions didn’t want them: the workers found the students disorganized and irresponsible."

My mother used to tell a story about marching with Harry Bridges' longshoremen—a punk kid running around trying to incite violence, trailed by a hulking longshoreman pointing him out to the crowd and shouting "A-gent Provacatoo-er! A-gent Provacatoo-er!!" She laughed, of course. That's one of the points of the story.

Friday, September 03, 2021

It made me laugh, so I looked up the history. I'm not sure if this was it. I'm sure there's more.

"Roundtable critique (pdf) of that piece by Bessner and Logevall on how what academic history needs is more focus on US elites" [link]

"This bit struck me as right on the money: 'Bessner and Logevall seem to prefer an older approach, one in which non-American people, places, cultures, and societies remain in the outer reaches of their imagined U.S.-centric solar system.'"

Bessner's a putz. This now includes a link to an earlier post. 

Thursday, September 02, 2021

Continuing from here, in a sense. And a repeat, though I'm not so crude in the original.  How is abortion like downloading?

Vaccines currently required in the state of Florida:

• Diphtheria-tetanus-acellular Pertussis (DTAP)
• Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV)
• Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR)
• Varicella (chickenpox)
• Haemophilus Influenzae Type B (HIB)
• Pneumococcal Conjugate (PCV13)
• Hepatitis B (HEP B)

Greenwald is a libertarian, and the ACLU, now proudly "liberal" (betraying its past) is tempted by Greenwald's model. But you don't have the freedom to drive drunk or to infect other people. There's no need for any other argument.

Women will get abortions one way or the other. They should be safe. People now copy and download. The model has to change to meet reality. Idealism is more than a waste of time. It's counterproductive,

old and new. Weber, the second paragraph, from @humanprovince: "A hundred years and it's still true". I used a different translation.


In America there are comparatively few who are rich enough to live without profession. Every profession requires an apprenticeship, which limits the time of instruction to the early years of life. At fifteen they enter upon their calling, and thus their education ends at the age when ours begins. Whatever is done afterwards is with a view to some special and lucrative object; a science is taken up as a matter of business, and the only branch of it which is attended to is such as admits of an immediate practical application.


Always the same. The deliberate consciousness of Americans so fair and smooth-spoken, and the under-consciousness so devilish. Destroy! destroy! destroy! hums the under-consciousness. Love and produce! Love and produce! cackles the upper consciousness. And the world hears only the Love-and-produce cackle. Refuses to hear the hum of destruction underneath. Until such time as it will have to hear. 


There is a further difference between America and Germany. This is that in Germany the lecturer is less concerned with lecturing than he might wish. He does indeed have the right to lecture on any topic in his discipline. But to make use of that right is thought to show an unseemly lack of respect toward lecturers with greater seniority, and as a rule the "major" lectures are given by the professor as the departmental representative of the discipline while the lecturer makes do with ancillary lectures. The advantage of this is that he can devote his early years to research, even though he may not do so entirely voluntarily. 

In America the system is organized on entirely different principles. In his early years the young lecturer is completely overloaded precisely because he is paid. In a department of German studies, for example, the full professor will give a three-hour course of lectures a week on, say, Goethe, and that is all, while the junior university assistant will have twelve hours teaching a week, including the duty of drumming the basics of German grammar into students' heads, and he will be happy if he is assigned the task of lecturing on writers up to the rank of, say, Uhland.

On academia, also Turner, and Krieger, Arendt, Panofsky, et al. Wissenschaften. Also VeyseyThe Emergence of the American University. I thought I'd written something on it. I can't find references on my computer. I bought the book. I'm betting I found it through a reference in a pdf somewhere without searchable text.

Another one from last year, which includes the above. It belongs here.

Interestingly, Chekhov was convinced his works could never be successfully translated. They would make no sense, he thought, outside the family that was Russia. Dickens, who wished to extend his family everywhere, was happy with translations. His work was hugely successful in Naples, where family reigns supreme, and was held up as a positive example by the government of the newly united Italy in its drive to promote domestic values and national cohesion.

Were there other writers, I wondered, for whom this hierarchy of values held, novelists whose plots, one way or another, hinged around belonging and its attendant emotions, however differently they might come at it—just as Dickens and Chekhov come at it differently, and position themselves differently, though obviously obsessed by the same questions and construing life in the same way?

Over time, reading and rereading carefully, I found these authors who fit the description: Virginia Woolf, Natalia Ginzburg, Elsa Morante, George Eliot, Haruki Murakami, Graham Swift, François-René Chateaubriand. Many other lesser names, too, in genre fiction as well as literary. Many Italians, perhaps because I read a lot of Italian literature, or perhaps because the values of belonging are so powerful in Italian society. Dante, writing in exile, is obsessed with belonging; the deepest circle of hell is reserved for the treacherous, those who betrayed family and community.

On the other hand, I haven’t found a single American whose work I can place in this category. Does this tell me something about America? Or the limitations of my idea?


Jumping ahead, more from Weber.

For twelve centuries social rank in China has been determined more by qualification for office than by wealth. This qualification, in turn, has been determined by education, and especially by examinations. China has made literary education the yardstick of social prestige in the most exclusive fashion, far more exclusively than did Europe during the period of the humanists, or as Germany has done. Even during the period of the Warring States, the stratum of aspirants for office who were educated in literature—and originally this only meant that they had a scriptural knowledge—extended through all the individual states. Literati have been the bearers of progress toward a rational administration and of all 'intelligence.'

Not bad

Washington, D.C. and Menlo Park, CA-- Today Facebook and the United States Supreme Court announced a joint venture, the creation of a Supreme Court Oversight Board that will perform tasks that the Supreme Court is no longer able to perform: hearing cases on the merits after full oral argument and briefing, and rendering reasoned opinions explaining its conclusions to the public. 

To this end, the new Supreme Court Oversight Board (SCOBUS) will contract with a group of former judges to do what Supreme Court Justices used to do. The U.S. Supreme Court will continue to tweet out its decisions at or around midnight, and leave it to the new Oversight Board to explain their legal meaning to others and take all responsibility for decisions that people don't like.

"We're extremely grateful to Facebook for suggesting this possibility to us," Justice Samuel Alito explained. "With 60 to 80 cases a year and only four clerks per Justice, we can't possibly carefully consider every case brought before us, much less justify our conclusions. Frankly, we're swamped. Many of us are busy writing best-selling books and doing book tours, which consumes a lot of our time."

"We think that this is a win-win for the Supreme Court," added Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's founder. "We know what it's like to be a secretive, all-powerful body, accountable to nobody, that holds the fate of countless people in its hands."

I wonder who wrote it. It wasn't Balkin. Or maybe it was. 

And another: Private Enforcement Mechanisms and You

Draft and enact a statute – maybe in CT but no, especially in DC -- that prohibits the expression of anti-choice views and anti-choice advocacy and delegates enforcement of that law to “any person.”  Statutory damages for violation of the statutory would be – let’s go big -- $100,000.  Anyone could then sue Americans United for Life and individuals (politicians) advocating for the overthrow of Roe.   

Or here’s another one. Prohibit entry to the bar to a group of people (you pick) and also prohibit anyone from aiding or abetting a member of that group who is trying to become a member of the Bar.  (See, e.g., Law Schools, Professors, the LSAT people, me – I’m a clinical professor). The law could even be applied retrospectively to members of this group who are members of the Bar.  Delegate enforcement of the law to another specific group of people).  Statutory damages for violation of the law again 100,000.  A form of reparations.

Let’s see how quickly things would change. I suspect the Court would rush to prevent such laws from taking effect. It would decide we need to have a mechanism for enforcement of federal constitutional rights in federal court and states can’t void this mechanism by playing these sorts of games.  Either our interpretation of the 11th amendment must change or the Ex Parte Young doctrine – already a ‘fiction’ after all – must be broadened.  Would they limit these mechanisms to the fancy First Amendment, cuz it’s the most important – it was first, foundation of democracy, etc., etc.  You be the Judge.

new tag for Judicial Review.  a bit late.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

WaPo: I was a combat interpreter in Afghanistan, where cultural illiteracy led to U.S. failure

When comparing the Taliban with the United States and its Western allies, the vast majority of Afghans have always viewed the Taliban as the lesser of two evils.  


Zeeshan Aleem: Was there a significantly better way to withdraw from Afghanistan? 

Anand Gopal: Well, there was and there wasn't. 

There was a better way to do it if Washington faced certain hard ground truths. What would have been the better way was if the U.S. government had secured a deal with the Taliban that began a process of transfer of power to them, while the U.S. was still in the country. But that would have meant completely undermining the Afghan government to do that; it would've meant recognizing the Afghan government, basically, is a creation of the U.S. entirely, and has no real legitimacy on the ground. So that would've been a pretty major paradigm shift, almost a greater paradigm shift than just simply cutting and running, I think.

As I said, they could, but of course, they couldn't. 

And Gopal uses the same line as Ahadi (in WaPo) 

So really, you had a one-sided war in those years, between 2001 and 2004, where the U.S. was fighting an enemy that didn't exist, and innocent people were the ones who were suffering. That really is what created the Taliban's resurgence. The Taliban wasn't a popular force in 2001, but in these communities, people saw the Taliban as a lesser of two evils to the violence perpetuated by the U.S. and by the U.S. proxies.