Monday, January 31, 2022

Still fucking with this thing, and fucking with Adolph Reed.

Jäger, a good one

Adolph Reed, is an ass.
Next month, Reed will publish a book that is, in the context of his polemical writing, unusual. Called “The South,” it is an account of growing up in segregated Arkansas and New Orleans, and of navigating, as a young man, Jim Crow’s immediate aftermath. The book read to me as a memoir, a term he adamantly rejects. He told me my interest in the book made him regret writing it; he did not want to receive mainstream attention for his reminiscences. 
Reed is a vanguardist, and vanguardists are snobs.  
What a fucking idiot.

I call Reed an idiot—he isn't—because he's a pedant. It is a fact that race is less of an issue. It is a fact that people argue from self-interest and not "truth". It is a fact that "Black Lives Matter is a cry for full recognition within the established terms of liberal democratic capitalism." It is a fact that the fading of race as an issue will return class the the central role that Reed prefers. And it is a fact that Reed is so angry that the peasants aren't intellectuals that he can't think straight.

And elitism, as I've said again and again, has a double edge: the elect are permitted to indulge sins forbidden to the common people: "To the pure all things are pure", "Homosexuality for us, but not the masses" "Don't call it a memoir!!" 

In my twitter days, I trolled Catholic rightists by telling them they wanted people to share their own self-hate. Innocence was a lie. The lack of self-hatred disgusted them. They agreed. I was less trolling them than the liberals reading them who didn't get the point.

"Religion promotes the divine discontent within oneself, so that one tries to make oneself a better person and draw oneself closer to God." A quote attributed to Cyril Cusack, whose performance in Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451 is a pitch-perfect model of the priest to Oskar Werner's boy. I saw the movie as a boy and don't remember if Cusack reminded me of Daniel Berrigan, whom I met as a 5 year old—he stayed at our house for for a few days when he was on the run—or the reverse.  I've never forgotten his face, moving down towards mine as he shook my hand. I recoiled, pulling my head back, and later asked my mother to explain just what it was I'd reacted to. Her reply was, "Unctuous". Years later I saw the same expression in a part-time student, model, hustler, from my circle—not the director of the Halston bio—who'd been raised by Jesuits. He had the smile of a man who wanted to seduce anything alive. Even his friends didn't trust him.  

Reed is offended by the thought that he's been outed as a storyteller, an orator, not a philosopher, and interested in telling a story about himself. Only members of the elite, his own kind, are allowed to know his secret.

Corey Robin makes my job even easier: "I once said that Adolph is the closest thing to Max Weber we've ever had in this country." And as I once said about Weber:  "The fantasy of objectivity is the fantasy of the universal through the elision of the particular, beginning with the elision of the particular self." All of this in various ways goes back to my comments about The Name of the Rose, from 30 (40?) years ago: the decay of scholasticism. And now the rise of the black bourgeoisie, offends the righteous academic left.

I'm sympathetic to elitists. My stockbroker stocks up on marijuana edibles at places that look like Apple stores; it's something out of A Clockwork Orange.  I miss the days when good drugs were left to criminals and serious intellectuals, who understood the cost.
Unlike Reed I get the joke: "Innocence ends when one is stripped of the delusion that one likes oneself."
I'm playing cute with all this. It's fun playing at being catty. I take all this shit for granted and I can't write as if anyone has the slightest idea what the fuck I'm talking about, or if they do, that it matters.

speak softly and carry a big black stick

Biden saying that he was going to choose a black woman was the worst kind of white pandering, and politically incompetent. If he'd had the guts to play hardball he would have spoken only about policy, and then nominated one of the same women he's looking at now. It's not the battle; it's the war. Leave proud statements of moral superiority to others.

In other news I'm still in the Berkshires and obliged by my host to watch MSNBC, where the talking heads of every color are praising Biden's moral superiority, calling for war with Russia, and silent about the US policy of death and destruction in Yemen and starvation in Afghanistan.

And Whoopi Goldberg is being criticized for saying Jews are white.

"Crypto and the politics of money", Tooze and Morozov 

EM: The whole new field of “cryptoeconomics” seems to ignore the macro-level and just focuses on getting the Homo Economicus to behave through better-designed incentives… If one were to write an intellectual history of cryptoeconomics, it’s going to be almost exclusively dominated by mechanism/market design and game theory, its non-existent macro-economics stuck in denial somewhere between the extremes (all on the far-right) of someone like Murray Rothbard and his libertarian opponents who preach Free Banking. This ignorance of the macrofinancial is premised on what seem like wrong-headed ideas about the nature of fiat money and it not being “backed” by anything… Could you briefly tell us why in your opinion the standard crypto critique of fiat money makes a mistake in ignoring the ways in which the structures of macrofinance actually do back, say, the US dollar?

AT: Well it is a vertiginous realization isn’t it? That money is not backed by “anything.” I’ve shocked year after year of smart college students by forcing them to face that reality. There are always a significant minority who cling to some version of the gold standard. They actually do believe that when you “take the note to the central bank,” you will get “something” in exchange. It’s not an easy idea to give up. It’s not unlike the vertiginous feeling that is engendered by realizing that language is not “backed” by anything. We are familiar with solutions to this problem. Create a physical object that can be used as a reference for a word, a definition, a standard, etc.

I pasted the above a week ago and set it aside. It made me laugh. I had that "vertiginous feeling" a long, time ago, but I wanted to put this to good use.

Leiter just posted "Realism About Precedent" to SSRN 

In jurisdictions with a doctrine of precedent (or stare decisis), later courts are supposed to be bound by the decisions (the ratio or holding) of earlier courts, either those above them in a chain of authority (vertical precedent) or their own earlier decisions (horizontal precedent, where the later incarnation of the same court usually retains the option of overruling its earlier decision). The later court, in either the vertical or horizontal cases, is bound only by those decisions which are “on point” or “the same in relevant respects” to the case currently before the court. Since cases are never identical in all particulars, this always requires figuring out which general categories that subsume the particulars of different cases are the relevant ones: I will call this “relevant similarity” in what follows. Relevant similarity is typically assessed in light of either the reasons the earlier court actually gave for the decision or the reasons that can be imputed to the earlier court based on the legal decision that court reached. Analogical reasoning figures crucially in ascertaining whether an earlier case that might be precedent is, in fact, “relevantly similar.” Indeed, there is no doctrine of precedent without analogical reasoning, since in any jurisdiction with a doctrine of stare decisis, any earlier decision by a court is a possible precedent for a later court considering the same legal question, and any earlier decision considering the same legal question is potentially distinguishable as involving facts that are not “relevantly similar.” Uncontroversial judgments of relevant similarity deal with most of the former cases. 

Leiter pretends to be an observer, not a player; he thinks his arguments are "backed" by something more than pedantry. Using his own definition, trial lawyers are the only legal realists. 

My only real comment on Morozov is from 2013, but his name's come up a few times. I'll give him a tag

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Pollitt on Srinivasan 
The Right to Sex is clever, well-written, and worth reading, but I don’t quite understand why it’s received so much attention. Srinivasan was even profiled in British Vogue, hardly a bastion of socialist feminism. Perhaps her tendency to avoid hard conclusions is part of the appeal. Then, too, attacking earlier generations of feminists is always popular. As is sex. What is most striking to me about the book is the near absence of most of the issues that have historically been feminism’s major concerns. There’s almost nothing about marriage, motherhood, child care, equality with men in the workplace, domestic labor, political representation, reproductive rights, misogynist culture, women’s health, the medical pathologizing of women’s bodies and minds, the continuing power of sexism to shape women’s expectations and behavior from birth, and the myriad obvious or subtle ways so many women are pushed, little by little, into becoming the support system for a man. The urgent and growing threat of fundamentalist religion and semi-fascist nationalist movements around the world goes unmentioned, as do the millions of mothers who were forced out of their jobs, some permanently, when the pandemic closed day-care centers and schools. It’s a truism of reviewing that you have to permit a writer her choice of subject; you can’t blame her for not writing a different book (it’s also true that the overambitious subtitle “Feminism in the Twenty-First Century” is an add-on for the U.S. edition). Still, I found myself wondering if the most important issues in the lives of most women have been around so long, with so little fundamental improvement, that we’d just rather talk about something else. Like incels and pornography and professors who sleep with their students.

Smart but too polite. Since I skimmed the book using word searches I missed some amazing bits of  rationalizing and self-justification.

From, Coda: The Politics of Desire

21. If this is right, in what sense is political lesbianism, as Andrea Long Chu insists, a failed project? 

22. In an interview Chu responded at length to ‘The Right to Sex’. She acknowledges the phenomenon with which I am concerned: ‘Obviously something like “no fats, no femmes, no Asians” is a desire that has a history, and has a politics, that can be described by reference to political processes: imperialism, white supremacy, and also, like, the world-historical defeat of the female sex.’ But she adamantly resists the idea that we can or should do anything about it. ‘I can’t stand body positivity,’ she says, alluding to my discussion of Lindy West. ‘I cannot stand it. It is just anathema to me. It’s moralizing. It’s really fucking hard to figure out a way to tell people to change their desires that isn’t moralistic.’[6]

23. Is there no difference between ‘telling people to change their desires’ and asking ourselves what we want, why we want it, and what it is we want to want? Must the transformation of desire be a disciplinary project (wilfully altering our desires in line with our politics) – or can it be an emancipatory one (setting our desires free from politics)?

[6]- "Wanting Bad Things" Long Chu and Anastasia Berg

ALC:...The story that begins the article is an account of me in high school, long before I’ve transitioned. I’m on the athletics bus as the manager of the girls’ volleyball team, and I’m the only boy on the bus, and we’re driving to an away game. And it was like this really intense erotic experience for me. And one of the things you do as a trans person, especially if you don’t have the luxury that some of us have of sort of always having felt “this way,” is when you do transition you go back and think, Okay, so what are the signs? So I was looking for signs. And this bus ride seemed to be demonstrative of something, of a way that I sort of felt without knowing that I felt that way. So that was where the piece came from in terms of some of the more personal aspects, but it was a lot of things I’d just been thinking about, and sort of dying to say and not feeling like I had a space to say it. 

AB: You conclude the story of being on the bus by saying, “The truth is I have never been able to differentiate liking women from wanting to be like them.” And I think for some readers who are less familiar with how debates within feminist discourse and trans discourse have been going on this could sound pretty innocent. But actually this isn’t very much an innocent statement at all—to talk about liking women and wanting to be like women in one and the same breath—because this is the kind of thing that has been used as an accusation.

ALC: Oh, absolutely. Something that’s kind of lurking in the background in this piece that doesn’t get discussed explicitly, I don’t think, is that the first accounts of transsexuality and transvestitism—we’re talking about Magnus Hirschfeld and the Institute for the Science of Sexuality in Berlin in the early twentieth century—those first accounts are sexual accounts. Transsexuality and transvestitism are understood as being essentially erotic projects, you know. One hears an echo of that in the discourse around the bathrooms, for instance, as if the reason that trans women transition is so that they can have easier access to little girls in bathrooms. As a result, we’ve had a hard time talking about the role that desire, sexual desire, erotic interest—all of those things—play in transition, which is… it’s so—it’s so incredibly real.

AB: Why did that—transsexuality as having to do with desire—become something that got denied and replaced with the model that you discussed of identity?

ALC: Well, the problem with the Hirschfeld model or the models that followed, the difficulty with those accounts is that the sexual valence that was treated to transsexuality was a pathologizing one. That was a part of a way of marking it as a form of perversion, which is something that again continues to today. In recent sexology there’s this largely debunked theory that transsexual women are in fact men, and you can divide them into two categories: homosexual transsexuals, or straight trans women, and autogynephilic transsexuals, men who are aroused by the idea of being women.

An explicit defense of sexual "Orientalism", fetishizing the other. When liberal optimism accepts the demimonde, some pathologies need to be recategorized. Cosmetic surgery for men who want to be women is accepted, and thus also and secondarily, for women who want to become men, but women who want to look younger to attract men are just sad. Political lesbianism may be more necessary than ever.

"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."

And clicking down the rabbit hole of rationalism,  Berg, a professor of philosophy at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an editor of The Point, recommends an article, by Gal Katz, with a quote: "I’m from Palestine myself, or as I like to call it, 'a place usually designated as Israel."  Men are the new women;  Zionists are the new Palestinians; Rachel Dolezal is still a liar.  As I said years ago, all that's clear is that blacks as a group get the benefit of a knee-jerk sympathy from liberals that women as a group do not.

Back to Srinivasan

48. I find this reduction of sexual orientation to genitalia – what’s more, genitalia from birth – puzzling. Is anyone innately attracted to penises or vaginas? Or are we first attracted to ways of being in the world, including bodily ways, which we later learn to associate with certain specific parts of the body?

49. Consider the gay men who express delighted disgust at vaginas. Consider the idea of the ‘Platinum Star Gay’, the gay man who, birthed via a caesarean, never even made bodily contact with his mother’s vagina. Is this the expression of an innate, and thus permissible revulsion – or a learned and suspect misogyny?

An innate and thus permissible misogyny. What a fucking idiot. Liberalism tying itself into knots.

We've come a long way in the Anglo-American analytic tradition, since 1985—"It was strange. My students were all obsessed with sex.... Not the idea of sex, or the meaning of sex, but sex!"—and then again, we haven't. 

After going through the archives for the various repeats of that story, told by Callie Angel about a grad student returning to Columbia and the Journal of Philosophy after teaching summer school at Princeton, I'll go with this one. 

"The banality of much of the the New York cultural scene is beginning to get to me."  From 2003. My writing's gotten more informal, and less.

Srinivasan now has a tag.

This is still pretty good.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Ask and ye shall receive

Robert Corn-Revere:

In a recent opinion piece, two highly respected scholars at the Berkeley School of Law, Erwin Chemerinsky and Prasad Krishnamurthy, offer a modest proposal to prevent “unaccountable technology monopolies serving as the nation’s speech police.” They point to the long-defunct fairness doctrine, which purported to require broadcast stations to cover controversial issues of public importance in their communities and to do so with “balance,” and suggest Congress could pass a law forbidding “designated social media platforms from discriminating against users and content on the basis of their political views.”

With all due respect to Dean Chemerinsky and Professor Krishnamurthy, it is hard to imagine a proposal that would more thoroughly break the internet. Their proposal ignores the sad history of failure and abuse that led even the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) to abandon the fairness doctrine as unworkable and unconstitutional; it rests on an unsound constitutional premise that already has been rejected by the Supreme Court; and it would empower a federal bureaucracy to become the nation’s speech police for “designated social media platforms” (but apparently not for others). The proposed cure is far worse than the disease.

My reply:

Chemerinsky and Krishnamurthy reply:
The power to censor speech, whether in the hands of the government or private companies, should be of great concern to all of us. Although we disagree with virtually everything President Trump said, we are deeply concerned that Twitter’s lifetime ban deprives him of the ability to speak and 88 million followers of the ability to hear his message. At this time, a relatively small number of media companies — Twitter, Facebook, Google, Youtube — exercise enormous control over what all of us can see and hear.

A modest proposal 

In light of this, we advanced a modest proposal: Congress should pass legislation that forbids designated social media platforms from discriminating against users and content on the basis of their political views. Platforms would still be free to remove unprotected speech such as libel, slander, threats, and the intentional dissemination of untruth. They would also be permitted to remove posts that do not conform to their community standards of decency and mutual respect. But platforms would not be permitted to censor speech based on its political content. We believe that the Supreme Court’s decisions upholding the fairness doctrine, such as Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC and Turner Broadcasting System v. FCC, provide a constitutional basis for such legislation.

Robert Corn-Revere, an eminent First Amendment lawyer and scholar, has opposed this by saying that we are urging Congress to create a fairness doctrine for the internet. He then proceeds to say that the fairness doctrine was a disaster and would “break the internet.”

Mr. Corn-Revere creates a straw person and then attacks it. We do not argue for a fairness doctrine for the internet. We mention the fairness doctrine cases because they support the constitutionality of what we propose: federal legislation to prevent monopoly social media platforms from discriminating against users and content on the basis of their political views.

Critical questions

There are three critical questions: First, should social media platforms be able to exclude speech based on the political views expressed? Mr. Corn-Revere does not defend the desirability of their doing so. We believe that censorship based on political views is wrong whether done by the government or powerful private entities and is harmful to freedom of speech.

Second, is there a workable way to prevent social media platforms from excluding speech based on political views? Mr. Corn-Revere opposes creating an agency with this power. We never advocated such an agency. Perhaps a cause of action against social media companies when they do this would be the best option. Mr. Corn-Revere describes how litigation was strategically used by incumbent political parties to harass or silence broadcasters, especially smaller ones, under the fairness doctrine. But our proposal covers monopoly social media platforms, so there is much less of a likelihood that they can be pressured by baseless litigation. If it is agreed that social media platforms should not exclude speech based on their political views, the conversation should be about how to implement that.

Third, would such restrictions be constitutional? Unlike Mr. Corn-Revere, we find no indication that the Supreme Court ever has repudiated Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC or Turner Broadcasting System v. FCC. Reno v. ACLU declared unconstitutional some provisions of the Communications Decency Act, but did not consider any of the issues we are raising or the problems with monopoly social media companies that simply did not exist then. The argument must be that social media companies are the “press” under the First Amendment and to hold them liable for the choices they make in regards to content violates the Constitution. The irony is that under Section 230, social media companies purport to be anything but the press. More importantly, the constitutional question is whether government regulation to further free speech outweighs the institutional interests of social media companies to not be regulated. We do not deny that this is a difficult issue, but we ultimately believe that the central goal of the First Amendment is more speech — and that is what we are urging.

C and K, again:

Platforms would still be free to remove unprotected speech such as libel, slander, threats, and the intentional dissemination of untruth. They would also be permitted to remove posts that do not conform to their community standards of decency and mutual respect. But platforms would not be permitted to censor speech based on its political content. 

"standards of decency and mutual respect" as opposed to "political content". 

My reply: Fuck you. 

Facebook is not a "platform". Platforms are under no obligation to remove unprotected speech, because they are not liable for unprotected speech. Removing posts is the prerogative of publishers with comment sections. The power of platforms and providers is something worth discussing. Fair?

tags: Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom,  Futurism and Data Culture, etc.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

we'll see...

In an email from the NYRB, reminding me why my parents subscribed from the start, adding each issue to a pile in a room on the third for of our house, in the apartment of our imaginary maid.

V.S. Pritchett on Stendhal and his contemporary critics in 1969

Mr. Peter Brooks’s essay comes in a learned book with a good subject; worldliness in Crébillon, Marivaux, and Laclos; and since Laclos particularly was Stendhal’s master, this is a study of great importance. The balance of scholarship and discernment is admirable. Mr. Brooks is very subtle and exact about the double attitude to social absolutism and “le monde“:

Stendhal then both regrets the loss of le monde, a public system of values and rules, gestures and codes, and sees a liberation in the demise of an enclosed, monolithic, ethically conformist order.

This is obvious, but then comes the finer point:

It follows that “worldliness” from a natural and inevitable stance in life and literature, becomes one among many view points, one conceivable attitude in the world, one possible style in what Stendhal, in a very eighteenth-century definition, liked to call the pursuit of happiness, la chasse du bonheur. Worldliness…is no longer the style of life, it becomes a problem in Style. In his own existence, Stendhal tended to respond with the pose of the dandy, the stylized social being who insists that life meet him on his own terms, who creates his own history and his own milieu by his personal style—a figure that was to have importance throughout the 19th century [Baudelaire, I suppose] as more and more writers sought to set the imaginative creation against life and history, and to affirm the autonomy and superiority of the artifact.

In his life Stendhal’s preoccupation with style as a form of tactics was a stumbling block; but in his novels he achieved an eccentric blend of humeur à l’Anglaise, comedy, and High Romance which has never been equalled. His interest in Fielding is not so astonishing as it seems at first.

It's hard to be precise and plain in descriptions of sense and perception. To be sensitive is to be receptive, but to be social is to be armored (and it helps to be rich). Pritchett says one of Stendhal's strengths was "the vast pride of the timid." All humility is false humility. 

In "age of disenchantment", self-invention is a given, at least among the professionally disenchanted. It all comes down to how you handle it. And it's up to others to gauge self-invention and self-enchantment.

In a passage from one of the Five Lectures on Psychoanalysis Freud says that as the result of a successful treatment repression is replaced by 'a condemning judgment'. He doesn't explain the difference between the two. What's the difference between "I don't want to kill my father and sleep with my mother" and "I don't want to kill my father and sleep with my mother." Is the first, louder and more nervous? More declarative? More cocksure? I don't know but it's a question conceptualists can't answer. 

Pritchett: "This is obvious, but then comes the finer point:...  'Worldliness…is no longer the style of life, it becomes a problem in Style.'" And then "[Baudelaire, I suppose]". For Pritchett, a bridge too far.

If the first point is no longer obvious, it's because being obvious it was taken for granted, and the foundations of the argument were lost.

We can’t re-fight old battles every time a subject comes up; there are limits to the human capacity for recall. Years after spending time and effort to come to a conclusion it’s the conclusion not the process that sticks in the mind. But that means that no matter how hard we once fought our response now is based on received opinion, even if received from our younger selves. So it’s good occasionally to revisit the past in detail, especially in cases where our relation to the past is the thing under debate. 

Brooks' eighteenth-century terms go back to the seventeenth century: je ne sais quoi,

'Worldliness…is no longer the style of life, it becomes a problem in Style." Aristocracy devolves into fashion: style once denoting substance, now replaces it. For those who claim substance as such, it becomes the opposite of politics, of perception: the realm of reason. And for judges of character, gauging self-invention and self-enchantment, a world becomes worlds apart, a free-floating game.

Stendhal (and Baudelaire and all of us) live in a world where pedantry is winning out over judgement, and a new social absolutism, more inflexible than the old. The pose of the dandy is a social armoring, the affect of self-awareness and indifference. Pritchett's manner is a pose, staged over many years  of a kind of stability. 

This is all varieties of repeats, but the one-sided exchange between Pritchett and Brooks set me off. What was obvious to them was obvious to me, like a joke among friends, or between the two of them and my imaginary parents. And as long as I'm repeating myself...

Thursday, January 20, 2022

An assistant editor of HamasMag in the New Left Review, and two months later in Foreign Policy.

Mills felt that in key respects the bourgeois task of abolishing non-economic hierarchies had not yet been accomplished in either country. Both were riven by deep inequalities that were inseparable from the racial form in which they were manifested. In 1970s Jamaica not one top firm was controlled by black people, despite their making up ninety percent of the country’s population. For the young Mills however, this entanglement of race and class did not justify a move away from socialism, but merely proved that the cultural domain was also a material one. In ‘Race and Class: Conflicting or Reconcilable Paradigms?’, a magisterial essay published in 1987, he sought to explicate the oft-quoted dictum of Stuart Hall that race is the modality through which class is lived, arguing that Hall did not mean to suggest that there was a perfect correlation between the two categories. Rather, racial classifications were the result of conflicts between social groups and represented different relations to economic and political power. On this basis, Mills concluded that ‘the ideologies and cultures of resistance that develop in the Caribbean will be most strikingly characterized by the reciprocal valorisation of blackness, whether in the form of Garveyism, Rastafari or Black Power.’

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.

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.

The contradictions make your head spin.
Mills: from  "liberalism is racist", to "deracialized liberalism"; from Tolkien to Fanon to Black John Rawls. Arguing with G.A. Cohen is even more of a waste of time than reading him. 
But John-Baptiste Oduor is a fan of Geuss, the fan of Fanon and "Ghandi", while Arendt "was certainly not a philosopher at all,... nor "a particularly good practitioner of her chosen profession of historically oriented political journalist." Violence or non-violence, as long as it's pure: pure Jesuitical sleaze. 

And the NLR publishes puff pieces by the same author about makers of luxury commodities—$1,575,000 at Sotheby's—because "fine art" is like "philosophy", and now the "fine artist" is black and a woman. Here she's chatted up in Vogue. The last time I made this point it was Christie's; the philosopher was a woman and the artist was a man, also touted in Vogue.  I guess "the bourgeois task of abolishing non-economic hierarchies" has been accomplished. Where does that leave John-Baptiste Oduor, the New Left Review, and HamasMag? Perhaps theorists' inability to synthesize a response should be considered a failure.

The prices for Yiadom-Boakye's paintings have no relation to anything beyond the bubble—or bubbles within bubbles—of the market, and are only slightly less absurd than the valuation of an NFT.  But what do I know? I'm just a sociologist from Mars.

12 years ago a gallery director offered to help me pitch the drapery project to Massimiliano Gioni—a name mentioned in Vogue, not the NLR—but when he read what I'd written he backed off. I've never blamed him for it.  And this was the same man who saw me at an auction at Christie's and gasped "What are you doing here! This is evil!" We both laughed. He's player, a cynic and survivor, but he loves the art he loves, and he defends it, which is why he was at the auction. But I'm not a player; I can't pull it off. I wish I could. But since timing is everything, here's one post about the project.

Pseudo leftists aren't what they were. They celebrate Hollywood liberalism and now preadolescent fantasies of communism—the womb or the hive—proclaim the end of intellectual conservatism while praising a "scholar of the demimonde". Geuss at least still understands the obvious, that communism and monarchism, taken seriously, have a lot in common
Martin Scorsese is a conservative. Tarantino is a conservative. Stephen Frears calls himself a "Queenist"
And on and on.

Liberalism is a fucking disaster. And innocence in adulthood is a form of decadence.
repeat and update: the Teddy Roosevelt statue is gone.  And Hammons is represented by Bob Mnuchin, father of Steve. His connections to Goldman, financial and social, date back decades. The MoMA show was great, but as always, and as any dialectical materialist should know, the medium is the message, and Hammons is a conservative.  

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 right 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, including worker representatives. Ordoliberalism? 

I don't argue with specialists by pretending to be one. I don't argue with car mechanics about engines. I don't argue with soldiers about the best gun for the job. I don't argue grammar with grammarians. I don't argue technics; I argue application. Even arguing about art I'm a generalist. 

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—see previously on the Chilean election— is 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)

For that to happen the logic of the police has to be thwarted by the logic of politics. Politics means the supplementation of all qualifications by the power of the unqualified. The ultimate ground on which rulers govern is that there is no good reason as to why some men should rule others. Ultimately the practice of ruling rests on its own absence of reason. The 'power of the people' simultaneously legitimizes and de-legitimizes it.

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".

"our New Governors." Klonick almost deserves a tag just for that. 

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 publisher. They're high school teachers. That's unimaginable in the US.

"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, 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

Amy Wax again, and Leiter 

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.

And again in July, and Leiter begins to see a problem: "Penn Dean calls for "major sanctions" (which could include termination) against tenured law professor"

The Dean's letter is here...  The AFA has now sent a letter to the Penn President in response.   A few observations of my own: 

...The AFA letter,  however, neglects the fact that some of the allegations concern not extramural speech, but speech and actions in the classroom; and some concern extramural speech on matters that impact the functioning of the school.  In the former category is the fact that Professor Wax invited an infamous (and unabashed) racist, Jared Taylor, to speak in her class and have lunch with her students.  It is dubious that the decision to host Mr. Taylor in her classroom can be defended on academic freedom grounds, as a professionally sound choice given academic standards in law teaching.  It also has the potential to implicate violation of anti-discrimination norms, to which the law school is bound (although one would need more details to say for sure).  In the latter category is Professor Wax's public disparagement of the academic competence of her Black students, which I have addressed before.   Disciplinary action for both of these incidents would not violate principles of academic freedom (indeed, Wax has already been disciplined for the latter incident).

Monday, January 03, 2022

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."