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?

Sunday, November 07, 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."

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.

"There's a common argument that they try and use that goes 'What if you met a woman in a bar and she's really beautiful and you got on really well and you went home and you discovered that she has a penis? Would you just not be interested?'" says Jennie, who lives in London and works in fashion.

"Yes, because even if someone seems attractive at first you can go off them. I just don't possess the capacity to be sexually attracted to people who are biologically male, regardless of how they identify."

I became aware of this particular issue after I wrote an article about sex, lies and legal consent.

Several people got in touch with me to say there was a "huge problem" for lesbians, who were being pressured to "accept the idea that a penis can be a female sex organ".

I knew this would be a hugely divisive subject, but I wanted to find out how widespread the issue was.

Ultimately, it has been difficult to determine the true scale of the problem because there has been little research on this topic - only one survey to my knowledge. However, those affected have told me the pressure comes from a minority of trans women, as well as activists who are not necessarily trans themselves.

They described being harassed and silenced if they tried to discuss the issue openly. I received online abuse myself when I tried to find interviewees using social media. 

re the link in the quote above: retroactive withdrawal of consent.

For the rest, it's misogyny. Lesbians are biological females who eat pussy

Synecdoche (cont)

"Republicans appear to be reaping the positive consequences of the deep polarization along educational lines unleashed by Trump while evading the negative ones.

Liberals make nihilism attractive 

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

How does his Olympia address us? With what sort of attention? From what specific distance?

T.J.Clark in the LRB. Smart but he works too hard. He knows his shit, but erudition is cautiousness.

Velazquez is painting portraits of servants dressed up in costumes. But they look out at us as our equals, or superiors, or as creatures of indeterminate status—simply as others—with the full weight of their humanity.  If you look at the range of his work it becomes obvious. That's a stunning thought considering his role. 

On the secondary pics above; the character is both frontal and in repose. He has three legs! It's a brilliant touch to an image of ambiguity. 

Clark, Masters and Fools 

How does his Aesop address us? With what sort of attention? From what specific distance? Many Velázquez portraits provoke questions of this kind (think of Don Juan of Austria) but here they are intensified – exacerbated – by the suspicion that a particular set of features has been shifted by the artist to embody an entire worldview. What could be more particular than Aesop’s face? But when has a face been more imprinted with a philosophy?

Could it be, in the first place, that the very words ‘expression’, ‘address’ and ‘us’ are the wrong ones to apply to Aesop’s way of looking? Does Aesop as Velázquez imagines him exist, or exist primarily, in a world made up of interlocking subjectivities? He is, remember, the master of animals. The world he takes stock of may include ‘us’ only as objects or processes of a certain kind – entities, outsides, behaviours, patterns of dominance and submission. Such a way of thinking is no doubt extreme, or at least uncommon, but doesn’t Aesop’s whole attitude make it seem reasonable – realistic? Doesn’t his face ask us to rearrange our notions of normality? What’s normal, he asks, about reading other minds?

I reach a familiar impasse. I have no words, or none that strike me as convincing, for the way Aesop looks – the way his features hover between irony and resignation – but that doesn’t mean I don’t know what his look intends. On the contrary, the wordlessness of Aesop’s communication makes his intention all the clearer. I have a good idea what he’s contemplating. I understand the quality of his distance: he is assessing not addressing me, would be one way of putting it – reaching a judgment but not pronouncing one. (As is his way with the world in general.) And isn’t this partly what we mean by expression – isn’t this what expressions are for? Expressions, especially ones as charged and impenetrable as this, are for where words fail us, where we’re lost for them. Aesop’s original muteness – the original muteness of each individual, the stumbling of the infant into speech – is part of his power.

Near the end of the piece. 

There used to be a strand in the Velázquez literature that proposed that Aesop, Menippus and Mars were pictures, all three, of court jesters playing at being philosophers and gods. I see why the notion was discarded – it came out of a period when Velázquez’s art was interpreted too much in a late-19th-century Realist way. Nonetheless, the idea does speak to something.

How does his Olympia address us? With what sort of attention? From what specific distance?  That was a new question 50 years ago. 

The painting of the Spanish Golden age, and specifically Velázquez, is the origin of 19th century realism in France.

I'm piling it on.

Panofsky dismisses the story of the Holy Roman Emperor picking a paintbrush off the floor, but the same story is told about Philip IV. Velazquez’ royal portraits are tragic; they show the weaknesses of an insecure man, yet they show him great respect. Stripped of the obligatory pomp, it’s the same respect Velazquez showed Pablo de Valladolid. Brown ends his book writing that Velazquez “...discovered a new way to transmute images of kings and queens and princes and princesses into a new form of art which continues to grow in power long after the memory of his protectors has faded nearly into oblivion.” Brown, the defender of progress and art for art’s sake, stripped of its full depth of meaning, can’t see the obvious. Velazquez’s “new way” and “new form of art” describe the end of monarchy. The maturation of his technique, the curiosity that drove it, and the obligations of his calling diverged, but the form of his obligation changed as well. The glorification of a master became the sympathy for a friend, in ways that neither king nor servant could admit. We’re back to Baudelaire, and Renoir, von Rauffenstein, and de Boeldieu, the originating tragedy, later played as kitsch, (as farce).

Axios: FEC lets foreigners finance U.S. ballot fights

The Federal Election Commission has ruled foreign donors can finance U.S. referendum campaigns, opening the door to foreign spending on fights over high-profile policy issues,...

Tuesday, November 02, 2021


In no particular order, because it doesn't matter. What's done is done.
"getting priced out" of the neighborhoods they've lived in all their lives, while liberals move in.  Liberals love the passive fucking voice.
One more I'd missed

WaPo: "Biden administration asserts 'no constitutional right is safe’ if Texas abortion law allowed to stand" 

Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh characterized the Justice Department’s lawsuit as “irregular” and “unusual,” and asked what authority the federal government has to sue over a state law.

Prelogar acknowledged the unusual nature of the government’s lawsuit and said the Justice Department does not “lightly invoke” its authority to sue Texas to block enforcement of the abortion law.

“The reason we’ve done it here,” she said, is because the law is “so unprecedented, extraordinary and extraordinarily dangerous for our constitutional structure.”

Texas, she said, should not be allowed to evade the Supreme Court’s past rulings by crafting a law to evade judicial review.

 tag: Judicial Review (and Comedians)

Times Change


 When the current US Supreme Court strikes down race-conscious admissions procedures...

...which they will almost certainly do in the next couple of years, the Court will, oddly enough, in this instance have majority sentiment on its side, if not elite opinion:   opposition to using race and ethnicity as factors in admissions decisions for colleges is quite widespread.  More than 60% of Blacks, Hispanics, and Democrats say race or ethnicity should not be a factor at all in admissions.  (Philosopher Thomas Mulligan [Georgetown] has called attention to this striking fact previously.)

Leiter links to Leiter, quoting Mulligan 

Whites oppose affirmative action because they believe it violates merit-based hiring. Blacks support affirmative action because they believe it enables merit-based hiring, by nullifying racial bias and other forms of disadvantage.

Despite appearances, when it comes to affirmative action, there is no moral disagreement. Both Blacks and whites believe that the best-qualified applicant should be hired. What we disagree about is a factual question: Does real-world affirmative action enable, or detract from, our shared moral goal?

"More than 60% of Blacks, Hispanics, and Democrats say race or ethnicity should not be a factor" 
They say that now. What did they say in the past?

The black respondents strongly endorsed all eight of the items. The average endorsement of the positive response was 78.7 percent. The range was from 59.6 percent to 91.3 percent (see Table 1). Item five, which elicited the weakest response, asked the respondents if they thought there would be "reverse discrimination against white men." This ia a perceptual item that elicits other reactions than just support for affirmative action. Nevertheless, it still contributed to the overall scale. Items three, seven, and eight, which simply asked how strongly they supported affirmative action programs, received the strongest responses. Roughly 90 percent of the respondents supported these items and only about four percent opposed them. Clearly there is strong support in the black community for affirmative action programs.
"Elite Opinion" gave us Brown v Board. Decades later, Derrick Bell dissented. Leiter would never agree with Bell's reasoning.

A 1963 Nation Opinion Research Center survey of black opinion as to priorities had voting rights and desegregation both at 13%.  Jobs came out at 58%

Mildred A Schwartz, Trends in White Attitudes toward Negroes, National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago, 1967

The 1956 Roper question was as follows: "Now there have been a number of different viewpoints about the Supreme Court decision against separate schools for Negro students. Which of these comes closest to expressing your own personal opinion? (1) Negroes should go to the same schools that white children do and separate schools should be done away with immediately in all parts of the country. (b) Every attempt should be made to do away with separate schools for Negro students, but a reasonable time should be given to work out the problem. (c) The time may come when Negro and white children should go to the same schools, but it will take years in some places and it shouldn't be pushed. (d) The Supreme Court decision was a mistake and white and Negro students should never be forced to go to the same schools"

The largest proportion, 31 per cent, felt that the Court decision had been a mistake. Twenty-three per cent were of the opinion that school integration, while desirable, would take many years and should not be pushed. Another 22 per cent wanted separate schools done away with, but agreed that "reasonable time" should be allowed for this. Altogether, then, 45 per cent opted for a gradual approach to school integration. Only 12 per cent were in favor of immediate integration. [The remainder had no opinion.]

 Leiter has no sense of history. He imagines a timeless world. 

Arguments could be made that the original intent of the reconstruction amendments was "unconstitutional", inconsistent with previous understandings, or that the framers wrote amendments in race neutral terms but then while they could promoted discrimination based on race. A brilliant decision, to set their own policies on auto-destruct, only after they'd begun to do their work.

[I]n 1867 Congress passed a law providing relief for “freedmen or destitute colored people in the District of Columbia,” to be distributed under the auspices of the Freedmen’s Bureau. Of particular importance in the late 1860s was the Bureau’s operation of schools for blacks, to the point that black children in the South were often better educated than their white counterparts.

"Divide and conquer" Radical reconstruction wasn't radical. If it were, black and white poor would have been treated as equals and the wealth of the rich would have been seized.  But however it was done, affirmative action was always strictly speaking, both unconstitutional and necessary. It's still a white man's world, but not for much longer. 

"Whites oppose affirmative action because they believe it violates merit-based hiring." They have a point, but that's not the only reason they oppose it.

Politics is argument in time; it's low and high, vulgar and fine. It's force and logic, reason and interests. Leiter, like all philosophers, fantasizes a world of one without the other, where their own interests play no role.
More on Bell and Arendt a few months later, 5/22.