Thursday, January 20, 2022

An assistant editor of HamasMag in the New Left Review 

The dominant forms of Anglo-American Marxism however largely did not exhibit the subtlety of thinking about culture that Mills believed was necessary to navigate the relationship between class and race. Much of his early career was spent wrestling with conceptual matters – questions of history, ideology and morality – which he felt that this work had misconstrued. Analytical Marxism, which took as its starting point G.A Cohen’s Karl Marx’s Theory of History: A Defence (1978), aimed to apply a scientific rigour felt to be lacking in the interpretations emerging out of France and Germany by borrowing the tools of analysis developed by economics and logic to address issues of agency, class interests, and the relationship between base and superstructure. The concept of ideology however – the subject of Mills’s thesis – presented serious problems for this paradigm, since it seemed to suggest that an essential component of Marx’s theory was a rejection, on epistemological grounds, of the autonomy of social practices and morality.

Mills took aim in a 1989 essay at what he saw as Cohen’s technologically determinist understandings of history. In his view, the Canadian Marxist’s thesis that asocial forces of production determine the structure of society was incoherent. Contra Cohen, he asserted that forces of production could not be so easily distinguished from relations of production. In his telling, the binary between the material and the social on which Cohen’s ontology rested fell apart once one recognised that society is constituted by both material and ideal elements. Where Cohen saw the impetus for the development of the forces of production in a supposedly natural human rational interest, Mills argued that it was the struggles internal to a specific society that influenced the use to which productive technologies would be put. This echoed the position developed by the political Marxists Robert Brenner and Ellen Meiksins-Wood, who had previously argued that economic relations were the results of political conflict between social groups. Mills however believed that the conflicts which determined the development of the forces of production were not only within the economic domain. Instead, they could also include those over racism and sexism.

and Foreign fucking Policy

There exists a strand of social thought, stretching from Georg Hegel in the 19th century through to Max Weber in the early 20th and Juergen Habermas in the postwar era, that insists that a hallmark of modernity is the differentiation of forms of human knowledge. The sophistication of culture is defined in part by the autonomy of science, morality, and art from religion, and their mutual incommensurability. Any undoing of this development, according to these thinkers, would mean regression to a less sophisticated form of culture.

What then is to be made of “theory,” a term that became en vogue among English-speaking intellectuals in the second half of the last century? Defined not by a focus on a specific subject domain—biology, say, or sociology—but instead by its commitment to producing concepts that could then be applied to different forms of thought, theory became a catch-all phrase for whole swathes of (primarily French) philosophy and cultural criticism from the late-1960s on. There were, however, some unifying features of the genre, including the commitment on the part of its most famous practitioners—Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze—to breaking out of the confines of orthodox Marxism, often in ways that mirrored the criticisms put forward by uncritical defenders of the free market.

...Unlike the socialist political economy and philosophy of the early 20th century, postwar theory was propelled not by any kind of practical engagement but by a constant demand for innovation and newness, needed to keep up with a postwar political landscape that was thoroughly fragmented. The social transformations theory attempted to make sense of—disillusionment with communism, anti-colonial movements, women’s liberation, the existence of an underclass, the continued existence of capitalism—undermined so many assumptions about the world held across the political spectrum that it was hard to see how any overarching ideas could synthesize them, or whether theorists’ inability to do so should be considered a failure.

So bored. So fucking bored.
Arguing with G.A. Cohen is even more of a waste of time than reading him. 
Bur the idiot's a fan of Raymond Geuss, who's a fan of "Ghandi".  rilly

And the NLR publishes reviews of luxury commodities.  Because "fine art" is like "philosophy". 
And I'm a sociologist from Mars.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Andrew Elrod has been getting a lot of play, building on his dissertation on the history of price controls. The inflation debate: Boston Review, and Equitable Growth,  See also, Tooze


It was the effort to control supply lurking within the project of price stabilization that produced the late-twentieth- and early twenty-first-century taboo against overtly political control of markets.

 J.W. Mason

And then at some point it will occur to us that, after all, isn't the interest rate itself a price? In which case, the debate isn't price controls, yes or no, but merely about exactly which prices to control. 

 Jäger replies:

Yes x1000 - if the interest rate is simply the ‘price’ of money, how have we not been doing intense price control for over a decade already?

When I read all this I think of all the time wasted on trolley problems. The doctrine of double effect, again, and so soon.

The language in the thing has changed. It was more concise a decade ago, but the link on the rights side of the page is still there.

The man who swings the axe is called the "Executioner"; the man who gives the order is called only "Governor". Officers send enlisted men to almost certain death but may not befriend them. Stanley Milgram’s 1963 experiments showed that physical proximity, of authority to subject and subject to “learner”, was the main factor in affecting the level of obedience to the command to cause harm.

A governor has an indirect relation to the execution that he's ordered. Interest rates have an indirect relation to price hikes. A manipulated economy and a command economy are not perceived as the same thing. And the fatalism behind the popular acceptance that power will out no longer holds when power is indecisive.

Democratic government is artificial, and democratic governance is always a bit of a sham. Most people have no interest in the work of self-government but they can still recognize the hypocrisy of self-interested leaders who claim to be selfless. They'll accept simple unfairness as natural but chafe at controls imposed by moralizing hypocrites who can't make up their minds. Putting an economy on a "war footing" succeeds only because it's temporary. And either way if unfairness goes too far people will rebel out of what they sense as self-preservation, still without wanting the full responsibilities of self rule.

Information is decentralized, and the point of government intervention should be to keep it that way. A sham democracy is still better than open rule of an elite, if only because the elite in a democracy is being refreshed from below and outside; experts need to fear amateurs and amateurs need to be watchful. It begins with that fact that you can't predict what will change you, and expands out to the world.

Agreements among stakeholders, provided that worker representatives have real power. Is that Ordoliberalism?

Thursday, January 13, 2022

"Someone will write something about Didion and her beginnings as a Goldwater Girl and California libertarianism. But it won't be me." And now I guess they have. 

And the same people now tut-tutting Didion are mourning Terry Teachout.
repeat from 2018
I'd always thought of Teachout as an overly earnest, shallow, self-serving moral conservative, but now nihilism is a moral option.

Teachout was an aesthete. Aestheticism is a form of denial; if nihilism isn't overt it slips out. Didion understood. What artist isn't tempted by nihilism in an age of crisis?

Vice is alluring; then show it as alluring; but it brings with its train peculiar moral maladies and suffering; then describe them.

The Third Man is about the limits of friendship and the seductions of fascism; to claim that fascism is a moral point of view is to already admit being seduced. "Twee fascism". I should've used the phrase, and for Bacharach too. I'm almost curious what he has to say about all this. 

Marfrks: "For academics, ideas are games", without weight, connecting Teachout and Scialabba to technocrats, and why technocrats are gamers. Graeber's inverted technocracy is a form of positivism. Nihilism is an inverted moralism. So we end up with art critics interested in aesthetics but not art, because honesty scares them. Jeet Heer is an earnest liberal Zionist who writes about comics. His conservatism is manifested in the same childishness, again, without weight.

Fiat iustitia, et pereat mundus. Conservatism at it's best is human strength identifying itself with/as weakness; Fascism is weakness identifying with/as strength. It's the difference between "I serve the law" and "I am the law". "Unto the pure all things are pure", is a license to anything. Barbarians don't need a license. They accept responsibility for their choices. But if Biden is starving Afghanistan it's because he thinks he had no choice; following the doctrine of double effect he's been granted absolution. Doctors and nurses on the ground, doing their jobs in a crisis, are conservatives; social workers, people wanting to help, are liberals. It's the difference between behavior and ideation. Baudelaire and Didion would get the joke. A lot of people would, and do, but few "philosophers" "theorists" or "social scientists", most of whom identify as liberals. 

An appropriately scathing review of Teachout's biography of Louis Armstrong. "Teachout has tailored Armstrong’s life story along lines that recall Horatio Alger." The art itself becomes meaningless.   

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Vergera's one of the new breed of theorists of republicanism who still by their own definition have a hard time accepting that their interests are as much a document as "effective forces in history". That their interests are what they are now was itself predictable.

Vergara, "The Plebeian People of Populism" (uncorrected proofs)

Mainstream definitions of populism have detached populism from the historical  and material conditions in which it arises. Perhaps the most pernicious of these abstractions is the conception of the people. According to most definitions, any politics appealing  to “the people” against “the elites” is populist, regardless of their different conceptions of  the people, platforms, and relations to liberal democracy, which has led to the conflation of  populism with ethnonationalism. Through a radical republican approach, in this article I give theoretical ground to effectively separate the people of populism from conceptions of the  people based on ethnicity. Relying on Jacques Rancière’s theory of politics as disagreement, and Jeffrey Green’s theory of the plebeian subject as second-class citizen, I argue that, seen from a historical and material perspective, the people of populism is constructed from a  plebeian identity based on class that is egalitarian and inclusive, constructed from a position of no-rule, in resistance to oppression against the oligarchic order.

Jeffrey Green, The Eyes of the People: Democracy in an Age of Spectatorship

For centuries it has been assumed that democracy must refer to the empowerment of the People's voice. This pioneering book makes the case for considering the People as an ocular entity rather than a vocal one, arguing that it is both possible and desirable to understand democracy in terms of what the People gets to see, instead of the traditional focus on what it gets to say. 

The Shadow of Unfairness: A Plebeian Theory of Liberal Democracy

In this sequel to his prize-winning book, The Eyes of the People, Jeffrey Edward Green draws on philosophy, history, social science, and literature to ask what democracy can mean in a world where it is understood that socioeconomic status to some degree will always determine opportunities for civic engagement and career advancement.  


The political dispute challenges the foundations of the system of police through a radical egalitarian logic that does not speak to the system but disrupts it through the political performance of the people, of those who do not have a part in the system but nevertheless claim it. “Politics means the supplementation of all qualifications by the power of the unqualified,” the visible action of the people, of those who are not supposed to act because ignorant and unqualified (Rancière, 2010, p.53).

Given its egalitarian logic, Rancière is adamant that politics has a very specific subject that cannot be constructed along identitarian lines because it “exists only in the form of disjunction” (ibid.). The democratic subject is “not definable in terms of ethnic properties” or identified “with a sociologically determinable part of a population,” but a subject made up of “those who have no part,” who do not “coincide with the parties of the state or of society, floating subjects that deregulate all representation of places and portions” (Rancière, 1998, p.99). This construction of the democratic people based on an egalitarian logic of alterity and disagreement is not only different from identitarian constructions of the people but also stands opposed to them. 

Rancière, 2010 (p.53)

This is what demos and democracy mean. The demos is not the population, the majority, the political body or the lower classes. It is the surplus community made up of those who have no qualification to rule, which means at once everybody and anyone at all.

Those who have no qualification to rule 

Protestant authority and Catholic authority... and the demos, the plebeians and comedians.

However good some of these people are as critics, they're still critics, pretending they're not playing on the same stage as the rest of us. But the Catholics are better than the Protestants. The arrogance of the Protestants is beyond belief. 

Monday, January 10, 2022

Myside bias” and "Implicit bias". I remembered today that Leiter was once a fan of Dan Sperber. Maybe not anymore.

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

And now

I've been gratified by the interest this paper has already attracted, and how useful many legal scholars, especially, have found the notion of epistemic authority.

As always: legal scholars and lawyers are  two groups, not one. And "epistemic authorities" don't believe in free speech.

The paper is on SSRN.
So is this:

These platforms are now responsible for shaping and allowing participation in our new digital and democratic culture, yet they have little direct accountability to their users. Future intervention, if any, must take into account how and why these platforms regulate online speech in order to strike a balance between preserving the democratizing forces of the internet and protecting the generative power of our New Governors.

but not this

I am fine with this,” wrote Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s No. 2 executive, in a one-sentence message to a team that reviewed the page. Three years later, YPG’s photos and updates about the Turkish military’s brutal attacks on the Kurdish minority in Syria still can’t be viewed by Facebook users inside Turkey. 

or this

Five years ago, Facebook gave its users five new ways to react to a post in their news feed beyond the iconic “like” thumbs-up: “love,” “haha,” “wow,” “sad” and “angry.”

Behind the scenes, Facebook programmed the algorithm that decides what people see in their news feeds to use the reaction emoji as signals to push more emotional and provocative content — including content likely to make them angry. Starting in 2017, Facebook’s ranking algorithm treated emoji reactions as five times more valuable than “likes,” internal documents reveal. The theory was simple: Posts that prompted lots of reaction emoji tended to keep users more engaged, and keeping users engaged was the key to Facebook’s business.

Facebook’s own researchers were quick to suspect a critical flaw. Favoring “controversial” posts — including those that make users angry — could open “the door to more spam/abuse/clickbait inadvertently,” a staffer, whose name was redacted, wrote in one of the internal documents. A colleague responded, “It’s possible.”

You'd think these idiots would at least read the news. But it wouldn't help. Call that "expertise for realists".

Kieran Healy
Something that's happened to me several times when teaching social theory to undergrads at various places is we start reading Weber and then I have to back up and explain what the Reformation was and then one or more students discover to their surprise that they are Protestant.

Noting the failure of American secondary education, ancillary to a discussion of the sociology of American religion.

Also Kieran Healy

The lead character and her husband, modeled on Hanson-Løve's parents, are referred to as "philosophy professors" in American reviews, because of the subplot involving her publishers. They're high school teachers. That's unimaginable in the US.

I don't want to oversimplify, and I'm not

"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."

I'd love to see some bourgeois self-awareness in this country. But self-awareness is pessimistic, and here even comedy—also pessimistic by definition—is used to reinforce the optimistic imperative.  Laughter is nothing but a symptom of denial.

"You must look through the surface of American art, and see the inner diabolism of the symbolic meaning. Otherwise it is all mere childishness...."

Sunday, January 09, 2022

Socialism or Communism/Taylor v Britney

The President-Elect of Chile, and the National Secretary of the French Communist Party.
Comedians in politics are a sign of progress. 

Camila Vergara, in the NLR blog, December 10th
In the upcoming presidential ballot on 19 December, Chileans will be asked to choose between a far-right Pinochet apologist and a social democrat – not, as outlets like the Economist and Financial Times have claimed, between ‘two extremists’ offering different variants of populism....   
Kast’s 2021 presidential programme – promising to ‘restore order’ and reclaim Chile from an alleged communist insurgency – included proposals to lower corporate taxes and eliminate inheritance tax; grant legal immunity to the armed forces and fund the legal defense of police officers accused of using excessive force; give the President sweeping powers to crack down on dissent; establish an International Anti-Radical Left Coalition to ‘identify, arrest and prosecute radicalized troublemakers’; shut down the Human Rights Institute; exit the United Nations; repeal the ILO Convention No. 169 on indigenous peoples; and eliminate the Ministry of Women, offering financial incentives for heterosexual marriage while erasing ‘gender ideology’ from the education curriculum.

Meanwhile, Boric pursued the failed strategy of trying to defeat the far-right on its own terrain. He secured the backing of the Christian Democratic Party after meeting with its leaders and sought to win over the business moguls at the Confederation of Production and Commerce (CPC), opening talks to quell their ‘legitimate anxieties and fears’. Rejecting the popular demand to liberate all those jailed during the uprising, Boric has called for a tough line against protesters accused of ‘burning and looting’, even though such allegations have in many cases been confected by police (indeed, five separate reports have documented human rights violations perpetrated by carabineros and cases of intra marcha agents involved in acts of vandalism, including the destruction of Santiago’s Hotel Principado). As a representative in the lower house, Boric approved the ‘anti-barricade law’ that criminalized protest by imposing prison sentences between two months and five years on those who occupy public spaces or build blockades. He later apologized for backing the reform, conceding that it gave more arbitrary power to police and judges, yet he refuses to support pardons for those who have been jailed because of it.

Boric has been both praised and criticized for his conciliatory attitude towards the right. A month after the uprising in 2019, he was one of the opposition leaders invited by the government to negotiate the terms of the constituent process. A conversation he started in a men’s bathroom with the far-right Senator Juan Antonio Coloma ended fifteen hours later with a ‘social peace agreement’ signed at 2am. This deal stipulated that a two-thirds supermajority in the Constitutional Convention was required to approve new constitutional articles – giving effective veto power to elite interests – and created an obligation to respect existing commercial treaties. (Since then, President Piñera has been pressuring Congress to fast-track the ratification of TPP11, which would force the state to pay crushing fines to private companies for nationalizing natural resources).

Following his swerve to the center-right, Boric has ingratiated himself with the ex-Concertación and even with the government coalition, whom he implores to unite against the threat of fascism. His new campaign manager for the 19 December election, Izkia Siches, has announced that Boric’s government would retain the current Undersecretary for Health, Paula Daza (who asked for unpaid leave to campaign for Kast). Siches also said they would consider bringing on board the other right-wing presidential candidate and former Piñera cabinet minister, Sebastian Sichel. As a result, this electoral alliance can only come at the cost of abandoning the struggle against the neoliberal model and the parties that have administered it for three decades. Although Boric’s coalition is nominally antifascist, his campaign’s decision to incorporate figures like Daza, and its intention to grant more legal power to police and judges, undermines any ostensible commitment to democracy. If this neoliberal ‘Antifa’ can achieve anything, it will most likely be a reconfiguration of establishment forces, aiming to implement what Boric calls a ‘responsible transformation’ that eclipses the radical energies unleashed in 2019.

While Kast’s vote share is expected to reach 40% in the next round, given that all right-wing parties have endorsed him, Boric has the support of all the parties of the ex-Concertación, even if some Christian Democratic leaders remain sceptical. Parisi has refused to endorse Kast but is so far silent on Boric. Nevertheless, the ‘Antifa’ strategy appears to be yielding results, with polls putting Boric three to 13 points ahead of his rival. At this rate, the social democrat is set to win by a comfortable margin; although a legislative stalemate is inevitable since right-wing parties have captured half the seats in both houses of Congress.

Saturday, January 08, 2022

New York: Sentimental Journeys

I really thought Adam Shatz was better than this. It reads almost like a parody. Switch out Randall Kennedy for some negro intellectual from 1968. And " book on Frantz Fanon." Every fucking base. 
"Notes on a Mugging", NYRB 

"My attackers came out of nowhere on a familiar street and didn’t even take my wallet. But they robbed me of something: a New Yorker’s self-assurance."

There is something morbidly instructive about being beaten up by people who are obviously relishing your humiliation. To read about the pleasure people have taken in cruelty is not the same as experiencing it firsthand.

Before I was set upon, assaulted, and robbed, at roughly 9:15 PM, a half-block from my girlfriend A.’s building in Chelsea, December 17 had been a rather good day. I’d outlined one of the last chapters of my book on Frantz Fanon and felt a surge of adrenaline about the work ahead. Then I took a long, satisfying swim, hopped on the train to Manhattan, and had Mexican food and drinks with an old friend—an otherwise normal New York evening that, in this era, felt almost sublime. As I walked to A.’s building, I put on my headphones to listen to the rest of a podcast conversation with my friend Randall Kennedy, about his new book on race and civil rights, Say It Loud. Randy’s voice was the last thing I heard as I turned right on West Seventeenth Street and Ninth Avenue, where my attackers were lying in wait.

Once I noticed them, I knew something was awry. Suddenly, I was aware of being surrounded on all sides by other bodies that should not have been so close to mine. They were three young men, barely old enough to be called that—sixteen or seventeen, I would guess. Then, almost immediately, I was on the pavement. 

"The victim...was a leader, part of what the Times would describe as “the wave of young professionals who took over New York in the 1980’s,” one of those who were “handsome and pretty and educated,”... who, according to the Times, not only “believed they owned the world” but “had reason to.” 

NCAA: Swimming World

By now, the narrative of the Thomas saga is well-known. If a quick rehash is required, here we go. Thomas is a transgender woman who competed for three years as a member of the University of Pennsylvania men’s program. Following hormone-suppressant therapy, which is in line with current NCAA requirements, Thomas has – this year – started to compete as a member of Penn’s women’s program.

Through the early stages of the season, Thomas has produced impressive times that suggest she will challenge the American records of Missy Franklin (200 freestyle) and Katie Ledecky (500 freestyle) at the NCAA Championships. The male-puberty advantage possessed by Thomas has clearly not been mitigated, even after she complied with the NCAA standard, and her presence in a women’s sport is utterly unfair to the biological females against whom she will race.

So, again, we emphasize that the issue at hand is not about transgenderism. It is about providing an opportunity for thousands of female athletes – in the present and the future – to know they will enter competition with an equal chance for success, not already facing a scenario in which they are overmatched, or in which an opponent’s arsenal is far more potent.

NY Post

A group of UPenn swimmers were so upset by transgender athlete Lia Thomas’ advantages that they mulled boycotting their final home meet — but decided not to for fear they’d be banned from the Ivy League championship, according to a report.

Thomas, 22, who has smashed several records at the University of Pennsylvania this season, has sparked outrage for being eligible under NCAA rules to swim in women’s collegiate events after taking one year of testosterone suppressants.

A source close to the team of 41 women who considered the boycott told the Daily Mail that “they’ve been ignored by both Penn and the NCAA.” 

Thinking about this again, and the earnest fans of Don't Look Up
Gaming and bitcoin, the same flat virtual world. Fantasies end in violence when they meet the world.  
Conceptualism is the intellectualism of preadolescence: imagination before experience, before the influence of sex, and the knowledge of death. The philosophy of D&D is post-war rationalism seen through the eyes of the readers of L. Frank Baum. It's T.S. Eliot without despair and Borges without Nihilism. It's the pathology of cute, and the optimism of the designers of World of Warcraft. 
I didn't mark the top line in the graph.

Guardian 1999, DiCaprio film-makers face storm over paradise lost
It was the Hollywood dream: Leonardo DiCaprio, the most beautiful boy in the world, strutting his stuff on the most idyllic beach in the Orient and starring in a dark utopian romance drawn from an internationally bestselling novel.

But the real story behind the filming of The Beach, Alex Garland's book about backpackers seeking a late 20th century Utopia, looks like concluding in ecological disaster and court cases.
Guardian 2018. Thailand bay made famous by The Beach closed indefinitely
The golden sands and crystal blue water of Maya Bay, ringed by cliffs on Ko Phi Phi Leh island, has become one of Thailand’s most-visited tourist destinations since it shot to fame as the movie’s location.

The small beach has sustained extensive environmental damage in recent years, receiving up to 5,000 tourists and 200 boats a day.

Wednesday, January 05, 2022


Guardian: BLM protesters cleared over toppling of Edward Colston statue 

...In closing statements following the nine-day trial, the defence had urged jurors to “be on the right side of history”, saying the statue, which stood over the city for 125 years, was so indecent and potentially abusive that it constituted a crime.

After just under three hours’ deliberation, a jury of six men and six women found the so-called “Colston Four” not guilty by an 11 to one majority decision at Bristol crown court on Wednesday afternoon.

“This verdict is a milestone in the journey that Bristol and Britain are on to come to terms with the totality of our history,” said David Olusoga, the broadcaster and historian of the slave trade, who gave evidence in the trial.

Olusoga said: “For 300 years Edward Colston was remembered as a philanthropist, his role in the slave trade and his many thousands of victims were airbrushed out of the story. The toppling of the statue and the passionate defence made in court by the Colston Four makes that deliberate policy of historical myopia now an impossibility.”

Clive Lewis, the Labour MP, said: “A British jury has confirmed the toppling of Edwards Colston’s statue was not a criminal act. The real crime was the fact the statue was still there when protestors pulled it down....

But some critics reacted with fury. Scott Benton, a Conservative MP, denounced the verdict as an “absolutely appalling decision”, tweeting: “Are we now a nation which ignores violent acts of criminal damage? This sends out completely the wrong message.”

The former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie said he could not help “questioning the sanity of the jury”. He added: “The verdict was a shocking signal to every lefty protester in the country that they can damage with impunity as long as they chant the phrase hate crime.”

The UK: Hate crime laws, hate speech laws, and what in the US would be "jury nullification", as law.
I prefer the first amendment to this shit. If the state is allowed to judge it will become self-serving.
Toppling the Colton stature was a criminal act. I might have joined in.  My parents broke federal law. They risked their future on principle. Saying they didn't break the law, is an argument against law itself.

I was thinking of amending what I wrote above, bur I realized I don't need to.
The “Colston Four” were charged with criminal damage. Under the Criminal Damage Act 1971, defendants charged with destroying or harming property can argue they had a “lawful excuse” for their actions. This is because safeguarding property – whether it is a house, a car or the statue of a slave trader – is less important than protecting public safety or preventing a more serious crime. To demonstrate “lawful excuse”, defendants must show that they acted reasonably and they honestly believed they were acting for these reasons.

...One of the key arguments was that the group was acting to prevent the more serious crime of public indecency.

...The judge, HHJ Peter Blair QC, didn’t allow jurors to decide on the grounds of misconduct because there was insufficient evidence on the matter. But he did allow them to consider whether the statue was offensive. One defendant said in court that the statue was “offensive to the true character of Bristol...”

"public indecency." "the true character of Scotland

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Under the AAUP definition of academic freedom, "extramural" speech by faculty is protected speech that cannot be sanctioned by a university employer.  Yet even the First Amendment right of public sector employees to free speech can be outweighed by the employer's interest in running its workplace efficiently and without excessive disruption (the "Pickering test").  One can imagine a court being sympathetic to a private university's invocation of similar reasoning.
"the employer's interest in running its workplace efficiently and without excessive disruption"
Workplace efficiency: the definition of the neoliberal academy.  By that logic U. Penn could have fired Du Bois for being uppity, MIT could've fired Chomsky, and teach-ins would have been career suicide.

I'm a stronger defender of academic freedom than Brian Leiter. I guess I've always assumed that.

Leiter: "Soon the only students who can safely take her classes at Penn will be Jews and WASPs."

New language from him. But student safety isn't the issue. The issue is the risk of lawsuits.

Leiter's still reading me. He deletes my comments, but I troll him by email now and again. The last time he said he was going to block my address but he hasn't, yet. I have contempt for a lot of people. I hate a lot of people. But he's too smart and his conflicts are too broad for me not to like him. People are either interesting or not. And a world of boring people I agree with is my definition of Hell.
The Posners I hate. Their minds are as two dimensional as their ideas. 
I love the Ivory tower. I love the bubble. It has its place.

Sunday, January 02, 2022

E. Vanessa Assae-Bille (JD, Harvard), on her immigrant American Dream, becoming bourgeois and a (black) gentrifier, published in a magazine whose existence is predicated on gentrification. Four paragraphs: first, from the middle, penultimate and last.
THE FURNITURE CATALOGS and interior design books belonged to my mom’s friend, who collected them in her flawless house in Wembley. I liked to peruse their pages on my overnight visits, after everyone went to sleep. As a 12-year-old kid with a vivid imagination and an aptitude for the visual arts, I’d long paid attention to space and aesthetics, to the way things landed and were laid out. But seeing others’ visions had opened my eyes to a universe of possibilities. Home didn’t have to be a compromise or mere afterthought; it could be intentional, a place built on principles. I daydreamed of someday moving into a home where I could paint the walls, where I could realize just one of those possibilities for myself....

My parents had done everything right. The house was overpriced,  but their loan itself had been within their means. They were proud to be owners and cared for the house with love. The stenciling was scraped off and the carpet torn out. The first floor was child-proofed so my mom could operate a small home daycare. We repainted the walls and planted tiger lilies outside. By the time I left for law school in August 2009, the house was prettier than ever. Nevertheless, outside forces had concluded it was now worth half the purchase price. Like many of their neighbors, my parents were facing a financial cliff. Being underwater meant paying for a house without building equity or security for the future. They might as well have rented and externalized maintenance costs on a landlord. But it wasn’t as simple as leaving the keys in the door—unless they could work out a deal, their lender would count on getting repaid in full, no matter how little money a sale could bring in. My parents’ ideal home had turned into a financial nightmare that would haunt them for years.... 

With the knowledge that some of my building now resented me, I grasped for the first time the strength of my position as an owner with a title equal to my neighbors’. That day, I’d staked a claim on behalf of the West Indian house and other Black Petworthians, myself included. There was nothing my neighbors could do to force me out. There was no manager, no landlord, not even a police officer they could call on to punish my bluntness. I was as free as they were. Unless they wanted to suffer another public shaming, it was on them to accommodate my intolerance for their racist speculations. I expected them to try with the same zeal they showed in demanding our block accommodate their preferences. I didn’t regret my outburst. If living alongside Black people was so antithetical to their vision of the ideal home, they could leave. 

And most of them did, in time. I doubt that it was my doing, as flattering as that would be. This is DC; turnover will always be high. The staffer and his husband bought a house north of our building. One of the two churches on 8th Street relocated to Maryland, where most of its Black congregation had already migrated, and sold to a developer who tore down the church’s dark brick and colorful windows, replacing them with high-end condos. The newlyweds left with a baby. Domku, the popular restaurant, closed after a decade in Petworth—the landlord raised its rent by 66 percent and wouldn’t budge. Sheila moved out of the corner unit, to a Maryland suburb with “good schools” for her infant daughter. My former roommate relocated to New York City and became a prosecutor. As for me, my days in the building were numbered after I met my future partner. Fortunately, the grandmother in the house next-door will outlast us all. Seven years after my arrival, you can still find her sitting on her porch, watching us come and go.

Nathan Robinson, (JD, Yale) her former editor

One problem with film reviews is that they are often so concerned with evaluating the quality of a movie that they don’t get chance to seriously discuss the ideas it raises. Reviewers are preoccupied with questions like: How is the acting? The editing? Is the dialogue sharp? The pacing energetic? Are certain mawkish indulgences by the director partly counteracted by a thoughtful score? In the case of a satire trying to make a point, does it make the point well, or does it do it “ham-fistedly”? Is it subtle and graceful or does it “beat you over the head”? 

Vanessa A. Bee is performing a mixture of arrogance, indignation, self-aggrandizement and regret. These are her "ideas".

Fortunately, the grandmother in the house next-door will outlast us all. Seven years after my arrival, you can still find her sitting on her porch, watching us come and go.

"They endured."