Monday, February 28, 2022

Zelensky's not the moralist; he's an advocate, playing to others' sense of morality.
[I was wrong. I gave him credit for making stupid arguments out of desperation.] 
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Moralism will get us all killed. Zelensky wants a fucking no fly zone. He wants the west to go to war, and too many idiots want to do it. 
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On the 27th, Tooze and Matthew Klein on Spotify, on nuclear war and the EU economy.  Tooze' "nucular" was an annoying surprise. He makes the obvious point—referring to Henry Farrell's other group blog at WaPo—that an authoritarian bureaucratic government is less likely to go nuts than a government of one man rule; the PRC has always been more rational than Putin. Then discussion of the sudden changes in EU economic policy—the end of austerity—and American obliviousness compared to European fear. Hundreds of thousands have marched in Europe.  

Mostly it's a discussion of the transformation of the EU.  The parallel to European racism is a newly united Europe. Germany and Sweden pushing arms; Switzerland ending its neutrality.  And today the 28th, Shell and BP are pulling out. 

If we all live, China is a winner, and so is social democracy. China is stronger and Russia is weaker, but [Klein] Taiwan is now safer.  Tooze disagrees. Will the PRC start seeing Russia as it sees North Korea, as a pain in the ass?  

“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” Milanovic quotes Lenin

There is out there, a mature understanding of the world. I'm not sure how many people; I'm not sure it's enough. But globalism is changing, and maturing.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

 Leiter asks if Putin might use a nuclear weapon in Ukraine, missing the point entirely.
A friend pointed out, the Russian  "мир" means both "peace" and "world". 
Racism in the media. All from twitter (obviously) and not my translations. There are a lot more by now but I'm not going to take the time to add them. 
 

David Sakvarelidze, Ukraine Deputy Chief Prosecutor: "I'm sorry. It's really emotional for me because I see European people, with blue eyes and blonde hair being killed" [I'd said it was Zelensky]

“We’re not talking here about Syrians fleeing the bombing of the Syrian regime backed by Putin, we’re talking about Europeans leaving in cars that look like ours to save their lives.”

Jean-Louis Bourlanges, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the National Assembly:"This is going to be an immigration of great quality, intellectuals, one that we will be able to take advantage of".


This is all a public link list. For my own records. I'm not pretending.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

It was always going to be the liberals who kill us all.

Things are moving fast.
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1- https://www.france24.com/en/middle-east/20220224-israeli-air-strikes-kill-three-syrian-soldiers-near-damascus-syrian-media-says

2- https://apnews.com/article/fact-checking-969210303435

3- https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/02/10/biden-administration-should-prevent-atrocity-famine-yemen-conflict/

4- https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/2/11/theft-afghan-americans-decry-decision-to

So why has no progress still not been made in this direction? For one simple reason: Western wealthy people fear that such transparency will ultimately harm them. This is one of the main contradictions of our time. The confrontation between « democracies » and « autocracies » is overplayed, forgetting that Western countries share with Russia and China an unbridled hyper-capitalist ideology and a legal, fiscal and political system that is increasingly favourable to large fortunes. In Europe and the United States, everything is done to distinguish useful and deserving Western « entrepreneurs » from harmful and parasitic Russian, Chinese, Indian or African « oligarchs ». But the truth is that they have much in common. In particular, the immense prosperity of multi-millionaires on all continents since 1980-1990 can be explained to a large extent by the same factors, and in particular by the favours and privileges granted to them. The free movement of capital without fiscal and collective compensation is an unsustainable system in the long term. It is by questioning this common doxa that we will be able to effectively sanction autocracies and promote another development model.

https://prospect.org/world/worse-than-a-crime-its-a-blunder-russia-ukraine-lieven-interview/

Recommended by Anton Jäger, Tariq Ali, and others. And it includes Cooper, in his new home. Again: the unromantic left meets up with the unromantic observers/partisans of capitalism.  I've been following Lieven on this for a couple of weeks, through somebody. This has made a few people laugh. 

I’m not sure if John Mearsheimer has ever completely forgiven me for this, but I reviewed his book that came out in the ’90s, and he wrote that Germany was inevitably going to come back as a great military power dominating Europe, and I wrote in my review that the man who wrote this has never been in a German disco. That he really doesn’t understand contemporary German youth, and I think that still applies.

I linked to Lieven once, years ago, to ridicule Henry Farrell, but I should have read him more. 

I had a polite email exchange with Milanovic. It confirmed all my assumptions, but he's right of course about capitalism. 

Thursday, February 24, 2022

After 9-11, I said that Americans shouldn't respond. AQ was never weaker than after the attack, and the US had the support of the world. 
Putin fucked up. The US should stay in the background, but it won't.
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American idealists are pushing for war. American cynics are screaming no.
The Cuban missile crisis as a fucking joke. It was always going to be the liberals who kill us all.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

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Walt is good
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updated for comedy.

The Economist is published in London. Global capitalism, distributed information and all that. 

Milanovic on Putin's speech.
He's obviously using a teleprompter. I sent the link to a friend, a native Russian speaker who'd watched it; he thought Milanovic's introduction was absurd. I hadn't watched it. Now I have.

Kennan in on NATO expansion, NYT Feb 5, 1997

"Should NATO Grow? A Dissent"NYRB, August 10, 1995

Dear Mr. Secretary:

We are a group of retired Foreign Service, State Department, and Department of Defense officers who served during the Cold War. We are concerned by the potential consequences of the administration’s policy of promising to extend NATO membership to the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland. In our view, this policy risks endangering the long-term viability of NATO, significantly exacerbating the instability that now exists in the zone that lies between Germany and Russia, and convincing most Russians that the United States and the West are attempting to isolate, encircle, and subordinate them, rather than integrating them into a new European system of collective security.

the essay referred to in the letter: "Losing Russia or Keeping NATO: Must We Choose?", Arms Control Today,  June 1995
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Terrell J. Starr, then and now; at The Root, since 2017, and now the Atlantic Council, and all over your TV. 


Right Sector identify themselves as followers of the Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera 





John McCain with Oleh Tyahnybok 


Dan the Lawgiver. It made me laugh. Requiescat in Pacem.

Dan:  here, and here, and here,

So the new baroque Modernism, on its own terms, without defense or rationalization (the language of “baroque specialization”) manifests an ethic not of utopian idealism but of description: of the realities of how we live, of capital and commerce, and of our perceptions of ourselves as actors within the world both define. Glass is everywhere again but now reflection is as important as transparency and the distinction between object and reflection becomes difficult to judge. Solids become light. Talking to younger architects a few years ago about who first began using glass as it’s being used now, I was told that in architecture proper, it was probably the Dutch firm Coop Himmelblau, and before that, Dan Graham. Before that however, and no one mentioned it, it was Jaques Tati, in Playtime.

Architecture is obliged to give simple pleasures before complex ones (even more so than the fine arts are obliged to flatter the wealthy). We may enjoy reading about infernos or even having pictures of them on our walls but it’s still perverse to have a cocktail party in the boiler room. Graham’s use of reflectivity was intended originally to be emotionally disturbing, the sense of disembodiment linked to one of isolation and even terror, and Tati’s response was cooler but no less critical. Life has acclimated us so much to the splintering if not the obliteration of self in the endless reflectivity of mirrors and markets that it’s now an aspect of the popular sense of architectural pleasure. And the architects I talked to remember discovering Graham’s pavilions, and responding to them instantly, in their late teens or early 20s; recognizing what they already understood.

Talking today to an old friend who knew Graham since the early 80s; he was annoyed by all the hagiographies floating around. "Oh, Dan was such a great guy." He was an asshole. 
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Have to say this worked out.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Avant-Garde is Kitsch

updating for fun. More piss. more vinegar, more comedy (Walid Jumblatt)
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The below because one of the globalized subaltern academic "leftists" was mourning Bersani's death. 
And the same people mourning the author of Homos, now support arguments that claim homosexuality as such, most specifically lesbianism, is the equivalent of racism.

David Halperin reviews Homos, in the LRB in 1996
Bersani begins magnificently. ‘No one wants to be called a homosexual.’ 
Remember that Halperin is the author of How to be Gay  
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Dale Peck, Leo Bersani  Bersani is dead.

"Susan Sontag divides her essay 'Fascinating Fascism' into two parts, two ‘exhibits’, the first attacking Leni Riefenstahl for lying about her past, and the second defending the fascist theatricality of the 70s demimonde as merely aesthetic game-playing." It doesn't work 

Self-hated is the foundation of fascism. Self-hatred directed outward: the Catholic Integralists and faggots disgusted by the fact that most people don't know enough to hate themselves.

There's this clock in Hell that chimes every hour, You will never get out . . . you will never get out . . . you will never get out."

 "Why, of course, the people don't want war," Goering shrugged. "Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship." 

Richard Grenell, Peter Thiel,

On and on it goes. If you inter-railed across Europe, only stopping with gay fascists, there aren't many sights you'd miss. France's leading post-war fascist was Edouard Pfieffer, who was not batting for the straight side. Germany's leading neo-Nazi all through the eighties was called Michael Kuhnen; he died of AIDS in 1991 a few years after coming out. Martin Lee, author of a study of European fascism, explains, "For Kuhnen, there was something supermacho about being a Nazi, as well as being a homosexual, both of which enforced his sense of living on the edge, of belonging to an elite that was destined to make an impact. He told a West German journalist that homosexuals were 'especially well-suited for our task, because they do not want ties to wife, children and family.'" 

And it wouldn't be long before your whistlestop tour arrived in Britain. At first glance, our Nazis seem militantly straight. They have tried to disrupt gay parades, describe gay people as "evil", and BNP leader Nick Griffin reacted charmingly to the bombing of the Admiral Duncan pub in 1999 with a column saying, "The TV footage of gay demonstrators [outside the scene of carnage] flaunting their perversion in front of the world's journalists showed just why so many ordinary people find these creatures repulsive." 

But scratch to homophobic surface and there's a spandex swastika underneath. In 1999, Martin Webster, a former National Front organiser and head honcho in the British fascist movement, wrote a four-page pamphlet detailing his 'affair' with Nick Griffin. "Griffin sought out intimate relations with me," openly-gay Webster explained, "in the late 1970s. He was twenty years younger than me." Ray Hill, who infiltrated the British fascist movement for twelve years to gather information for anti-fascist groups, says it's all too plausible. Homosexuality is "extremely prevalent" in the upper echelons of the British far right, and at one stage in the 1980s nearly half of the movement's organisers were gay, he claims. 

Click on the Peck/Bersani link and everything that pops up will tell the same story, of the centrality of self-hatred to homosexuality. Now think of claims for the centrality of self-hatred for women and Jews. Jews of course means Ashkenazim: "The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies."

"Celine is my Proust"

I've said it all before.
 

Saturday, February 19, 2022

"Humor and Style in Panofsky’s History of Art", Introduction to Irving Lavin, ed., Erwin Panofsky. Three Essays on Style, Cambridge, MA, and London, 1995, 1-14; revised English version, unpublished, 2014 https://publications.ias.edu/sites/default/files/Lavin_IntroThreeEssaysStyle_2014.pdf

note 22 

Panofsky’s concrete, humane, sympathetic, and modern evaluation of the Baroque contrasts markedly—and I sometimes think deliberately—with that of Walter Benjamin who, while he also saw the Baroque as the beginning of the modern era, interpreted the style pessimistically as a kind of paroxysm of allegory, and essentially degenerate. In 1927 Panofsky had read and disapproved of the section on Melancholy, much indebted to the recent work on the subject by Panofsky and Fritz Saxl, in Benjamin’s subsequently famous study of German Baroque drama, Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels (The Origin of the German Tragic Drama, London-New York, 1977;...)

George Steiner's introduction to the English translation, with its references to Marxist millenarianism, doesn't really help.

Thirdly. Benjamin pleads, though in a voice muted by concurrent hopes of academic acceptance, for the rights of the esoteric. It is not only his material—the neglected plays and emblem-collections of the German seventeenth century— that is esoteric; it is his critical task. How could it be otherwise? How could the empathic decipherment of many-layered texts in an idiom long-forgot, pretend to perfect clarity? In this contest opaqueness and inwardness of semantic arrangement are a manifest of honesty. No doubt, this plea reflects very strong traits in Benjamin‘s personality, traits which find expression in his love of the arcane, in his pretense to kabbalism, in the condensations and bracketings that mark his own prose. But once more, we are also dealing with a motif of the moment. The esoteric is a decisive symptom throughout the modernist movement. whether in Yeats‘s mature poetry, in Ulysses in the Tractatus or in the abstract art and music of the 1920s. Benjamin’s hermeticism represents a bias in himself and in the atmosphere of the day. 

That's a defense of a work of literature, not scholarship, and a literature that exemplifies the decadence and desperation of Mannerism. 

This is the Baroque.

Friday, February 18, 2022

reading and scribbling about this shit for years and I've never read Dilthey. I really am lazy.
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Arendt v Mannheim, Panofsky & Mannheim

Mannheim

To give a still clearer illustration of the 'meaning' character of cultural phenomena, and of its threefold differentiation, we shall mention a concrete example. And we have deliberately chosen a trivial example, so as to make it clear that our concept of the 'cultural' embraces, not merely cultural products endowed with traditional prestige, such as Art or Religion, but also manifestations of everyday life which usually pass unnoticed—and also that these manifestations already display the essential characteristics of meaning as such. Take the following case:—
I am walking down the street with a friend; a beggar stands at a corner; my friend gives him an alms. His gesture to me is neither a physical nor a physiological phenomenon; as a datum, it is solely the vehicle of a meaning, namely that of 'assistance'. In this process of interpretation, the event which is mediated by visual sense-data becomes the vehicle for a meaning which is something entirely different from the visual data and belongs to the sociological field, where it is theoretically subsumed under the category 'social assistance'. It is only in a social context that the man at the corner will be a 'beggar', my friend 'one who renders assistance' and the bit of metal in his hand an 'alms'. The cultural product in this case is solely the event 'assistance', to be defined in sociological terms; in so far as the meaning of the event (by which it is constituted as an event) is concerned, my friend as a psycho-physical individual is quite irrelevant; he enters into the context merely as a 'giver', as part of a 'situation' that can only be grasped in terms of meaning and that would be essentially the same if his place were taken by any other person.
No knowledge of the intimate content of my friend's or the beggar's consciousness is needed in order to understand the meaning of 'assistance' (which is the 'objective meaning' of the situation); it is sufficient to know the objective social configuration by virtue of which there are beggars and people with superfluous cash. This objective configuration is the sole basis of orientation which enables us to grasp the meaning of the event as one exemplifying 'assistance'.

Panofsky 1939

When an acquaintance greets me on the street by lifting his hat, what I see from a formal point of view is nothing but the change of certain details within a configuration forming part of the general pattern of color, lines and volumes which constitutes my world of vision. When I identify, as I automatically do, this configuration as an object (gentleman), and the change of detail as an event (hatlifting), I have already overstepped the limits of purely formal perception and entered a first sphere of subject matter or meaning. The meaning thus perceived is of an elementary and easily understandable nature. and we shall call it the factual meaning; it is apprehended by simply identifying certain visible forms with certain objects known to me from practical experience and by identifying the change in their relations with certain action or events.

from Joan Hart, "Erwin Panofsky and Karl Mannheim: A Dialogue on Interpretation", Critical Inquiry, Spring, 1993

Arendt was with Heidegger. It's too simple to say Panofsky was with Cassirer. Panofsky was a historian; no attachment to philosophy can undermine that. Arendt's attachment to philosophy as constituted in the 20th century made for an insecure humanism; she wrote from the position of the individual under threat. Panofsky could refer to the human sciences without worrying about positivism.  I prefer Panofsky's Kant to Arendt's.

Panofsky 1932,  Translated 2012

Even if Dürer himself had commented directly on the ultimate aim of his work (as later artists have attempted on various occasions), it would soon be clear that even these comments miss the true intrinsic meaning of the sheet and, rather than furnish us with its correct interpretation, become themselves objects in urgent need of interpretation.After all, just as the degree of politeness in lifting a hat is a matter of the will and consciousness of the person doing the greeting, but it is not in his power to control what message about his innermost nature others may take from his gesture, so likewise even the artist knows only ‘what he parades’ but not ‘what he betrays’ (to quote an intellectually stimulating American). [C.S. Peirce]

The source of the interpretation of intrinsic meaning is effectively the worldview of the interpreter, as is no less apparent in Heidegger’s interpretation of Kant than it is in the accounts of Rembrandt by Carl Neumann or Jacob Burckhardt.  That is, this source of knowledge is fundamentally subjective, and one may say that its absolutely personal nature is even more in need of an objective corrective than either the vital experience of living (with which we grasp the phenomenal meaning) or the literary knowledge (with which we uncover the meaning dependent on content). Such a corrective does exist, and it belongs to the sphere of historically situated factuality which provides a boundary that must not be crossed by any interpretive ‘violence’ in order not to turn it into ‘roving arbitrariness.’
It is a sense of general intellectual history which clarifies what was possible within the worldview of any specific period and any specific cultural circle, just as the history of styles delimits the sphere of what kind of representation was possible in a given context or at any time and the history of types clarifies what was imaginable. In summary we might say, the history of styles instructs us about how pure form coalesces with specific factual and formal meaning within the process of historical change; the history of types instructs us about how factual and formal meaning coalesces with specific meaning dependent on content within the process of historical change; finally, a general sense of intellectual history instructs us about how meanings dependent on content (for example, the concepts of language or the melismas of music) are redolent of the outlook of a specific worldview within the process of historical change. 

So, for example, art historians use the intellectual testimonia of the Renaissance (among which naturally the writings of Dürer himself must be included) to show the worldview within which Dürer’s Melancholia united a typus Acediae with a typus Geometriae and thus for the first time brought together in a single conception the sufferings of creatures with a sense of fateless agency. The possibilities of this worldview alone draw a line against what we might otherwise lean towards interpreting as depression [Weltschmerz] in the modern sense. Likewise the intellectual history of the eighteenth century allows historians of philosophy to see the limits of a Kantian ontological exegesis, provided that such an exegesis has the aspirations and the duties of conforming to the rules of historical interpretation.*

*One could conceive of an approach which declares itself independent of historical correctives on principle and only postulates that the picture it constructs of a given phenomenon is in itself consistent and meaningful, no matter whether it fits into any historic circumstances. Such an approach (which neither extracts from texts what they ‘say’ nor what they ‘want to say’ but—adhering to the principle of consistency—what they ‘should have had said’) can however no longer be defined as ‘interpretation’ but rather as creative ‘reconstruction’. Its value or nonvalue is not dependent on the standard of historical truth but on that of systematic originality and consistency. This approach is unassailable as long as it is aware of its transhistorical or, even, extrahistorical aims, but it must be resisted the moment when it is tempted to defend itself by replacing history with some other aspiration. 

Panofsky, "The History of Art as a Humanistic Discipline" 

Thus, while science endeavors to transform the chaotic variety of natural phenomena into what may be called a cosmos of nature, the humanities endeavor to transform the chaotic variety of human records into what may be called a cosmos of culture.

There are, in spite of all the differences in subject and procedure, some very striking analogies between the methodical problems to be coped with by the scientist, on the one hand, and by the humanist, on the other.*

*See E. Wind, Das Experiment und die Metaphysik, Tiibingen, 1934, and idem, "Some Points of Contact between History and Natural Science," Philosophy and History, Essays Presented to Ernst Cassirer, Oxford, 1936, p.255ff. (with a very instructive discussion of the relationship between phenomena, instruments and the observer, on the one hand, and historical facts, documents and the historian, on the other).

David Wagner, "Peirce, Panofsky, and the Gothic"

Abstract
This paper aims to show that Peirce’s analogy of scholastic logic and Gothic architecture merits more than the dismissive note John F. Boler grants it in his essay “Peirce and Medieval Thought” (Boler 2004). Peirce does not just anticipate art historian Erwin Panofsky’s view of an analogy between the scholastic Summa and the Gothic cathedral. Habitus and habit-taking play a vital part in both analogies. I present William Whewell as a likely source of inspiration arousing Peirce’s interest in Gothic architecture, and suggest that Edgar Wind played a part in transmitting to Erwin Panofsky the Peircean idea of unconscious beliefs as expressed by habits. Thus this essay deals with two connections: on the one hand, the relation between ideas as embodied in the structure of scholastic treatises and of cathedrals, and on the other, the concept of habit linking Peirce and Panofsky. Research on the latter benefits from the publication of Panofsky’s correspondence, which reveals that his study of Gothic architecture and Scholasticism commenced four years earlier than hitherto suspected.

I really doubt Panofsky needed much prodding. 

Thursday, February 17, 2022

From Leiter, and it's comedy gold

Eric Schwitzgebel: "Qualitative Research Reveals a Potentially Huge Problem for Standard Methods in Experimental Philosophy"

Mainstream experimental philosophy aims to discover ordinary people's opinions about questions of philosophical interest. Typically, this involves presenting paragraph-long scenarios to online workers. Respondents express their opinions about the scenarios on simple quantitative scales. But what if participants regularly interpret the questions differently than the researchers intend? The whole apparatus would come crashing down.

Kyle Thompson (who recently earned his PhD under my supervision) has published the central findings of a dissertation that raises exactly this challenge to experimental philosophy. His approach is to compare the standard quantitative measures of participants' opinions -- that is, participants' numerical responses on standardized questions -- with two qualitative measures: what participants say when instructed to "think aloud" about the experimental stimuli and a post-response interview about why they answered the way they did.

Kyle's main experiment replicates the quantitative results of an influential study that purports to show that ordinary research participants reject the "ought implies can" principle. According to the ought-implies-can principle, people can only be morally required to do what it is possible for them to do. Thompson replicates the quantitative results of the earlier experiment, seeming to confirm that participants reject ought-implies-can. However, Thompson's qualitative think-aloud and interview results clearly indicate that his participants actually accept, rather than reject, the principle. The quantitative and the qualitative results point in opposite directions, and the qualitative results are more convincing.

It was always obvious what was going on.

Tooze doubles as a well-paid tour guide for the 10%, and now he's married to his boss. Blyth makes offhand comments about the fate of his "hedge-fund friends", because he has them. Milanovic likes dining alone in our "utopia with a twist..." with "stains of human passions... lost amid the chromium gleam.". Nir Rosen thinks "some of you people take this war too personally." And all of my money, what's left of it, is in oil and gas. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Following American self-styled leftists going back and fourth between attacking the anti-democratic state, and defending it against "anarchist libertarians" who oppose vaccine mandates. School vaccines have never been mandatory in Canada and the UK and France changed the law in 2018.  Two from "Carl Beijer", as symptomatic of a suburban high-school romance with an imagined past. Arguing with himself on Marx, Lenin and state censorship it just reminds you how far removed Americans are from the rest of the world.

Another way to put it is to say that truth is private, and politics is public, and liberals with their "politics of truth", square the circle in defense of their own self-image and self-interest. Their lies begin as lies to themselves.

Beijer's idealistic authoritarianism is fundamentally liberal, and stupid. 


The Ghost of Panofsky: "Whichever book you open, you will find precisely the passage you need."
Timing is everything.

Leiter, a few days ago on "Standpoint Epistemology", and now, on  Truth, freedom of speech and academic freedom, linking to CHE and to himself. The arguments are absurd. Academia is an institution, and no institution is an arbiter of truth in the way these idiots fantasize. They're defending a fucking church, which is why Leiter is against  freedom of speech for the rest of us.

I've made that point a thousand times but I don't think I've ever used the word "Hayek" when the name doesn't appear in a quote. The market tells you nothing about what it means to be a woman or a slave, and the academy is no better. Women's, Ethnic, Jewish, Black, and "Subaltern" Studies, are the result of change not the cause of it, which is why I'm following the globalized subaltern academic bourgeois celebrating communism, nationalism, internationalism, fascism—without acknowledging it—modern poetry, and Ermenegildo Zegna. 

James C. Scott, anarchist control freak. I'm not surprised he worked for the CIA. "Academics... don’t take ideas seriously. For academics, ideas are games."

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

*MS. NULAND: * Matt, as you have made clear again and again in this room, we are not always consistent.

I've switched out videos with Matt Lee I've posted over the years. A lot of them died. Now they're all CSPAN or the State Dept.; they'll last a bit longer.
Nuland on Ukraine, the leaked phone call from 2014: "Fuck the EU"

Friday, February 11, 2022

The list of US crimes is getting longer, and this one's pretty much out in the open. Only Nixon could go to China; only a Democrat could be goaded into crimes against humanity. 

A woman I knew years ago in the extended family of Zahir Shah, born under house arrest and raised in Queens, went to Afghanistan and came back with stories of NGO workers zooming around Kabul in their new Mercedes.   

repeats: from Afghanistan to Haiti and vice versa, both with links the LRB because bourgeois liberalism doesn't have to be absolute shit.

From Leiter: Mearsheimer on Ukraine from 2014. 
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An old friend's grandparents were blacklisted in the 1950s. They were communists. The husband lost his government job. To pay the bills they opened a childcare center. They lived in New Jersey, and the parents of one of the children in their care were at the Afghan mission to the UN. J's grandmother, who'd been a barnstormer in the 20s,  had fond memories of "little Najib". When I introduced her grandson to the grandniece of Zahir Shah,  I introduced him as the grandson of the babysitters of her babysitter.
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Yemen, 2015,  20162021now.

Wednesday, February 09, 2022

When I was rooming with Graeber in Chicago  we sat on one of the Comaroff's dual seminars. David was done with coursework—he was waiting for funding—but he liked them both and liked to show up. A few minutes in I wanted to jump off my chair but didn't, though David saw me struggle and it annoyed him.  John Comaroff was talking about the 1922 South African miner's strike, and shamans' declaration that the mines had become taboo. He called it a great example of political art, and I fought the urge to protest.

"Political art" engages with authority, and is predicated on the existence of what it seeks, or claims to seek, escape from. This was the opposite: the disengagement from authority.  The image, or scene, that came to me at the time or shortly after—they're joined in my mind—is of two men sitting on a bench while a man behind them is screaming at them to get back to work. One of the men turns  to the other: 

"Did you hear something?"
"It's just the wind" 
"Wanna go fishing?" 
"Sure" 

And they walk away, while the man screams. Comaroff was right that that it was a brilliant act, but he wasn't able to describe what made it so good. Neither could David of course. Every defender of an independent non-ideological art (the standard argument) would smile at the shamans' refusal.

14. But Harvard’s investigation only exacerbated Plaintiffs’ nightmare. Harvard dragged the process out for over a year, foisted inordinate burdens on Plaintiffs, then willfully ignored the overwhelming evidence they marshalled. During the process, Harvard obtained Ms. Kilburn’s private therapy records without her consent and disclosed them to Professor Comaroff....

66. Professor Comaroff, meanwhile, continued to harass students with impunity. He even boasted about it publicly. At an October 2017 dinner with faculty and graduate students, Professor Comaroff compared himself to Harvey Weinstein, and remarked, “They’re coming for me next!” Professor Jean Comaroff, also in attendance, disparaged women who confront or report sexual violence, commenting, “Whatever happened to rolling with the punches?”
The filing is full of references to Jean Comaroff facilitating her husband's continued abuse. His record goes back to the 70s.  I remember her from the seminar, her manner and her scarf. And when I first heard of the case and saw the photographs of the plaintiffs, this one, of Amulya Mandava, stood out. 
Feminism and Post-feminism: the defensiveness and anger of "ladies", who willingly spent lives deferring to male attention and authority. 
It's not hard for me to imagine women following the same conservative feminine prerogative who would have spit in John Comaroff's face. But maybe they'd be the first to admit their own conservatism.

It's almost too neat: I moved in with Graeber because he was the only person I knew in Chicago when I moved there to hang out at the Art Institute, where I sat in on a class, every week, with Babette Mangolte

Tuesday, February 08, 2022


A few years ago watching an episode of Gotham, listening to the dialogue I realized that the script had written by a playwright; that whatever the necessities of network tv, the writer had been allowed on a scene by scene basis, to build exchanges and set pieces. It didn't feel like a "screenplay"; it seemed more theatrical than filmic, but not in a way that undermined the result. TV as a medium is still very different than "film" (digital or not)—it's different in scale and structure—and the new black box surrealism is an interesting thing. 
Still fucking with this.
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The change of medium and scale, from projection to glowing box, changes the focus from picture to story. The French New Wave, as literary filmmakers, were also filmmakers for the age of television. 

The new tv surrealism goes back the old tv surrealism; it goes back to Ernie Kovacs

Sunday, February 06, 2022

Truth and Politics. more later
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Links die: Summers' thread, with the tweet Weisenthal quotes.
I am sorry to see the @nytimes taking MMT seriously as an intellectual movement. It is the equivalent of publicizing fad diets, quack cancer cures or creationist theories.

[linked: NYT, Is This What Winning Looks Like? Modern Monetary Theory, the buzziest economic idea in decades, got a pandemic tryout of sorts. Now inflation is testing its limits. ]

Yes article does point out data it regards as inconsistent w MMT & quotes 
@jasonfurman as being critical but this is like reporting symmetrically on the ongoing argument btw evolutionary biology & creationism & noting a development on evolutionary side. Fundamentally misleading

I greatly admire @jeannasmialek's reporting but I was very disappointed this time out. She was also victimized by an egregiously misleading headline, if the goal of her story was to point out MMT’s weakness.

There are things MMT says that are true and things it says that are new but unfortunately there is no overlap.

This is not about politics or agreement with me. I deplore the @nytimes and economic journalism in its general neglect of Marxist and post Keynesian scholarship, most of which is very critical of my views and policy choices.

I am all for intellectual diversity and wish that the NYT would give more attention to Marxist scholars like Steve Marglin, whose book Raising Keynes deserves extensive debate, or other left scholars like Tom Palley, Dean Baker or Jamie Galbraith. 
[linked: Marglin, Raising Keynes: A Twenty-First-Century General Theory] 
Serious leftist scholars submit their work to peer review, are willing to engage in public debate with their critics and carry out empirical work that others can try to replicate.  Not the MMT movement.

It would be valuable for the Senators to verify that Fed nominees are not in the thrall of MMT. 

"Anything we can actually do we can afford.” Keynes in 1942: on the BBC, an orator, a political actor in wartime.