Friday, July 28, 2023

NYT: Biden Orders U.S. to Share Evidence of Russian War Crimes With Hague Court

President Biden has quietly ordered the U.S. government to begin sharing evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine with the International Criminal Court in The Hague, according to officials familiar with the matter, signaling a major shift in American policy.

The decision, made by Mr. Biden in recent days, overrides months of resistance by the Pentagon, which had argued that it could pave the way for the court to prosecute American troops, according to the officials.

It was unclear why Mr. Biden let the impasse linger or what finally led him to resolve it, but he has been under mounting bipartisan pressure to act. Last week, for example, a Senate committee approved a government funding bill that had a provision stating that the president “shall provide information” to the court to assist with its investigations into war crimes in Ukraine.

S. 2438. pp 203-4


(A)(i) None of the funds appropriated under the heading ‘‘Economic Support Fund’’ in this Act may be made available for assistance for the Palestinian Authority, if after the date of enactment of this Act—

(I) the Palestinians obtain the same standing as member states or full membership as a state in the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof outside an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians; or

(II) the Palestinians initiate an International Criminal Court (ICC) judicially authorized investigation, or actively support such an investigation, that subjects Israeli nationals to an investigation for alleged crimes against Palestinians.

It'll be sad when twitter dies.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Hofstadter and Metzger, The Development of Academic Freedom in the United States1955 

p. 388, notes stripped except two.

The German conception of academic freedom, reflecting the philosophical temper of German academic thought, distinguished sharply between freedom within and freedom outside the university. Within the  walls of academe, a wide latitude of utterance was allowed, even expected. With Fichte’s heroic scholar as their model, university professors saw themselves, not as neutral observers of life, but as the  diviners and spokesmen of absolutes, as oracles of transcendent truths.  In the normative sciences particularly, “professing" in Germany tended  to be the presentation with aggressive finality of deep subjective convictions. Among certain professors, to be sure, there were proponents  of a more restrained and cautions conception. In 1877, in the heat of  the Darwinian controversy. Rudolph Virchow, the great German  pathologist. argued that unproved hypotheses should never be taught  as true, that professors should stay within their spheres of competence,  that they should consult the consensus gentium before expressing possibly dangerous beliefs.” But in a famous reply to Virchow, Ernst Haeckel, the biologist, contended that no line between objective and  subjective knowledge could or ought to be drawn, that science advances  only through the open clash of wrong and correct opinions, that the  obligation of the professor to adhere to indubitable facts or to defer to  existing opinion would relinquish the field of education to the religious  infallibilists.[note 71) The leading theorists [note 72] of academic freedom in this  period adhered to the latter position—Max Müller of St. Gallen, Georg  Kaufmann, von Helmholtz, Friedrich Paulson. Reasoning from rationalistic or idealistie premises, they believed that the only altemative to  the presentation of personal convictions was the prescription of authoritative dogma, that the only alternative to polemical controversy was  the stoppage of academie inquiry. Recognizing that there were dangers  in subjective and polemical teaching, they thought there were adequate  safeguards in the freedom and maturity of the student, who was neither  captive nor unprimed. As Paulsen put it:  

The content of instruction is not prescribed for the academic teacher; he is,  as «archer as well as teacher. attached to no authority; he himself answers  for his own instruction and is responsible to no one else. Opposite him is his  student with complete freedom to accept or to reject; he is not a pupil but  has the privilege of the critic or the improwr. There is only one aim for both:  the truth; only one yardstick: the agreement of thought with reality and with  no other outside authority.

To Helmholtz, 

Whoever wants to give his students complete conviction about the accuracy  of his statements must first of all know from his own experience how one wins  conviction. and how one does not. Thus he must have had to know how to  struggle for this by himself when no predecessor had yet come to his aid; this  means that he must have worked on the boundaries of human knowledge and  conquered new realms for it. A teacher who imparts convictions that are not  his own is sufficient for students who are to be directed by authority as the  source of their knowledge. but it is not for such as those who demand :: foundation for their conviction down to the very last fundamentals. . . . The free  conviction of scholars is only to be won if the free expression of conviction  on the part of the teacher, freedom of teaching, is assured.

But outside the university. the same degree of freedom was not condoned. Though quite a few German professors played prominent political roles in the nineteenth century. and a number of these—notany  Mommsen and Virchow—were outspoken critics of Bismarck, it was   not generally assumed that Lehrlreilzeir condoned or protected such actualities. Rather, it was generally assumed that professors as civil servants  were bound to be circumspect and loyal, and that participation in partisan politics spoiled the habits of scholarship. Even so firm :: libertarian  as Paulsen held that  the scholar cannot and should not engage in politics. They cannot do it if  they have developed their capacities in accordance with the demands of their calling.

Note 71—Ernst Haeckel, Freedom of Science and Teaching, (New York, 1889, first printing l878). pp. 63 ff.  

note 72—Max Weber was an exception. See “Die Lehrnfreiheit der Universitäten"... Weber argued for neutrality on normative issues, insisting, however, that the professor be the judge of his own transgressions. 

Weber, "Die Lehrfreiheit der Universitäten", trans. Edward Shils, Minerva, 1973, [JSTOR], in Peter Josephson, “Lehrfreiheit, Lernfreiheit, Wertfreiheit: Max Weber and the University Teachers' Congress in Jena 1908”,  Max Weber Studies, 2004,  [JSTOR]


Cultural consensus in the field of education can be justified basically only on the condition of severe self-restraint in the observance of the canons of science and scholarship. If one desires this consensus, one must put aside the idea of any sort of instruction in ultimate values and beliefs; similarly the university teacher, especially in the confidentiality of his lecture hall—nowadays of such solicitude—is under the sternest obligation to avoid proposing his own position in the struggle of ideals. He must make his chair into a forum where the understanding of ultimate standpoints—alien to and divergent from his own—is fostered, rather than into an arena where he propagates his own ideals  

Haeckel, 1878

Rarely indeed has such a treasonable attempt on liberty of doctrine been made by a prominent representative of science, and a leader of the intellectual movement too, as this by Virchow. Only inquiry is to be free and not teaching! And where in the whole history of science is there one single scientific inquirer to be found who would not have felt himself quite justified in teaching his own subjective convictions with as much right as he had to construct them from inquiry into objective facts. And where, generally speaking, is the limit to be found between objective and subjective knowledge? Is there, in fact, any objective science?

This question Virchow answers in the affirmative, for he goes on to say: “We must not forget that there is a boundary line between the speculative departments of natural science and those that are actually conquered and firmly established” (p. 8). In my opinion, there is no such boundary line; on the contrary, all human knowledge as such is subjective. An objective science which consists merely of facts without any subjective theories is inconceivable. For evidence in favour of this view we must take a rapid survey of the whole domain of human science, and test the chief departments of it to see how far they contain, on the one hand, objective knowledge and facts, and on the other, subjective knowledge and hypotheses. We may begin directly with Kant’s assertion that in every science only so much true—that is objective—knowledge is to be found as it contains of mathematics. Unquestionably mathematics stand at the head of all the sciences as regards the certainty of its teaching. But how as to those deepest and simplest fundamental axioms which constitute the firm basis on which the proud edifice of mathematical teaching rests? Are these certain and proved? Certainly not. The bases of its teaching are simply “axioms” which are incapable of proof. To give only one example of how the very first principles of mathematics might be attacked by scepticism and shaken by philosophical speculation, we may remember the recent discussions as to the three dimensions of space and the possibility of a fourth dimension ; disputes which are carried on even at the present day by the most eminent mathematicians, physicists, and philosophers. So much as this is certain, that mathematics as little constitute an absolutely objective science as any other, but by the very nature of man are subjectively conditioned. A man’s subjective power of knowing can only discern the objective facts of the outer world in general so far as his organs of sense and his brain admit in his own individual degree of cultivation.

Josephson, concluding paragraphs including the Weber quote above.

Unquestionably, it is an audacious agenda that Weber is promoting. Not only does he want to give enemies of the state the right to teach those young people who will, in the future, serve in the nation's leading positions. But he also demands that his colleagues muzzle themselves in certain respects. The question this raises is why academics would in general feel forced to accept the restrictions he proposes? Why should podium politicians, appointed by the government, willingly give up the right to vent their worldviews?

Towards the end of his article, Weber himself anticipates these objections. He has previously acknowledged that the indoctrination that the students receive at the nation's seats of learning, is due to the fact that their teachers receive their salaries from the government and that they generally feel obligated to educate loyal public workers and subjects. With the help of examples, he now mounts the powerful counter argument that a consistent application of this principle of unholy exchange would result in a whole host of rival world views winning academic legitimacy. The father who has to pay out of his own pocket for his son‘s education could then, with the same rights as the state, demand that he university have instructors employed to serve his political interests. Resource—strong lobbying organizations, such as the workers unions and the federation of employers would surely also want to reserve professorships for their candidates. In the long run, emphasizes Weber, this will result in complete ideological fragmentation. 'Religious, economic, social and political parties would then all possess the right to have separate universities and professorships provided for them, in which instruction in accordance with their own ideals would be given.’ According to Weber there is only one way to prevent this scenario from becoming a reality:

Cultural consensus in the field of education can be justified basically only on the condition of severe self-restraint in the observance of the canons of science and scholarship. If one desires this consensus, one must put aside the idea of any sort of instruction in ultimate values and beliefs; similarly the university teacher, especially in the confidentiality of his lecture hall—nowadays of such solicitude—is under the sternest obligation to avoid proposing his own position in the struggle of ideals. He must make his chair into a forum where the understanding of ultimate standpoints -alien to and divergent from his own—is fostered, rather than into an arena where he propagates his own ideals (Weber 1908d; 91).

It is a very high price that Weber fears that university instructors will have to pay if they continue to preach politics in their lecture halls. The doctrine of value—free science is in this context obviously intended to fortify the university system's inner unit. lf everyone is to be given access to the universities, without them being ripped to shreds by internal conflicts among different interest groups, then academic instructors must avoid speaking out on political and moral issues. Otherwise, the academic world will be transformed into a veritable archipelago of ideologically rivalling institutions of learning. What Weber attempts to demonstrate is that his opponents are acting against their own interests when they demand the right to express their own political opinions from the podium. The implicit assumption is, of course, that the other side really wants to preserve the unity that, by tradition, has characterized university life. Once again, criticism seems to have been primarily directed at the academics who attended the Congress in Jena. it is important to be aware why the resolution that the congress eventually approved was initially put forward. Prior to the event, it was reported in the Münchener Neusten Nachtrichte that the catholic Center Party had recently succeeded in convincing the federal government in Bavaria to revoke the professorship of a theology teacher in Munich: a similar incident had allegedly occurred in Innsbruck These examples warned of dangers to come. Since the Center Party/s strategy had proved successful, there was an obvious risk that other parties would subsequently demand to be involved in deciding which candidates could be considered for academic positions: 'The rights that are currently extended to the religious political party will soon be extended to political, social and economic interest groups' (Amira 1908: 74). When chairman Karl von Amira later spoke to colleagues assembled in Jena, he predicted that such a policy would ultimately be catastrophic: 'Exchanges between different seats of learning would cease. .. One would be forced to establish Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and who knows what kind of universities, all for the purpose of forcing a particular ideology on people' (BdMNN 1908b: 630)  In other words, Karl von Amira, in order to enlist support for his resolution on academic freedom, had referenced exactly the same threat that Weber describes in his article. The purpose of the resolution was to reinforce those particular principles without which the internal unity of the university world would be lost. The fact that the participants had nevertheless reserved for themselves the right to propagate their political opinions must, for Weber, have seemed fatefully inconsistent.

Shit I should have read before I ever said anything about Weber's "value-free" fantasies. It was obvious he was as fucked up as the rest of the miserable fin de siècle teenagers: specialists must be "without spirit" because the only alternative is chaos; from Weber to Gerhard Richter. But what Weberian wants to know the history of his church? We'll never have a good history of social science until positivism is dead and buried.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Vladislav Davidzon in Tablet

It was deeply exasperating and disappointing to read the latest screed published in The Forward regarding neo-Nazi influence within the now-infamous Ukrainian Azov battalion. The article, from Mr. Lev Golinkin, was necessarily both exasperating and disappointing to anyone who cares about these issues, and about Ukraine. It was, however, especially disappointing to me, a onetime contributor to The Forward, where I published my first reviews as a fledgling literary critic. The unceasing attacks on the heroic defenders of Ukraine in the midst of the Kremlin’s genocidal war are merely the latest indicator of its protracted decline into irrelevancy....

Ukrainian civic patriotism is fundamentally healthy and strong. It is, in fact, healthy in a way that makes lots of people integrated into the urban, post-historical professional and administrative classes in advanced democracies uncomfortable: a swaggering, self-assured liberal nationalism that unironically deploys the kinds of martial virtues lacking in many deracinated Westerners, and which make the latter feel inadequate and perhaps even emasculated. I understand full well why these virtues make a lot of American progressives (especially self-neutered progressive men) feel uncomfortable. The masculinity and virility exhibited daily by Ukrainian soldiers has not been seen in the West for half a century. After the end of history and time, nice, chummy, and decadent Westerners were not supposed to fear going to war ever again. They had “all-volunteer” armies of impoverished cannon fodder for that.

Fukuyama, and Azov, and Lev Golinkin, previously.

The Zionist Federation of Germany Addresses The New German State (1933) 

The emancipation of the Jews, begun at the end of the 18th, beginning of the 19th century, was based on the idea that the Jewish question could be solved by having the nation-state absorb the Jews living in its midst. This view, deriving from the ideas of the French Revolution, discerned only the individual, the single human being freely suspended in space, without regarding the ties of blood and history or spiritual distinctiveness. Accordingly, the liberal state demanded of the Jew, assimilation into the non-Jewish environment. Baptism and mixed marriage were encouraged in political and economic life. Thus it happened that innumerable persons of Jewish origin had the chance to occupy important positions and to come forward as representatives of German culture and German life, without having their belonging to Jewry become visible.

Thus arose a state of affairs which in political discussion today is termed "debasement of Germandom" or "Jewification."...
Zionism has no illusions about the difficulty of the Jewish condition, which consists above all in an abnormal occupational pattern and in the fault of an intellectual and moral posture not rooted in one's own tradition. Zionism recognized decades ago that as a result of the assimilationist trend. symptoms of deterioration were bound to appear, which it seeks to overcome by carrying out its challenge to transform Jewish life completely.

It is our opinion that an answer to the Jewish question truly satisfying to the national state can be brought about only with the collaboration of the Jewish movement that aims at a social, cultural, and moral renewal of Jewry—indeed, that such a national renewal must first create the decisive social and spiritual premises for all solutions.

Zionism believes that a rebirth of national life, such as is occurring in German life through adhesion to Christian and national values, must also take place in the Jewish national group. For the Jew, too, origin, religion. community of fate and group consciousness must be of decisive significance in the shaping of his life. This means that the egotistical individualism which arose in the liberal era must be overcome by public spiritedness and by willingness to accept responsibility. 

 So predictable, and so fucking boring.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Miyazaki hates Otaku.

updated a few time, this time at the top. It's all so fucking stupid.
The Idiot Tushnet, and co., restating his old argument.
The Supreme Court has unanimously held that Jackson Pollock’s paintings, Arnold Schöenberg’s music, and Lewis Carroll’s poem “Jabberwocky” are “unquestionably shielded” by the First Amendment. Nonrepresentational art, instrumental music, and nonsense: all receive constitutional coverage under an amendment protecting “the freedom of speech,” even though none involves what we typically think of as speech—the use of words to convey meaning. 

Jackson Pollock from 1952, 

Jackson Pollock, Blue Poles (Number 11)
Daniel Bell 20 years later. "Behind the chiliasm of modern man, is the megalomania of self-infinitization." 

Atomization, isolation and the illusion of absolute community. The low buzz and hum—the violence and warmth—of neurological overload. 

Lewis Carroll's conservative mathematical fictions.

I've said it all before 
[Weber] imagines an impersonal relation to the world. It’s a common trope of the literature of the period, but the impersonal in art and technocracy, though the product of the same events are very different things....  

By the time anything becomes known as an idea, it’s been around for awhile 

From rationalism to positivism to a world of shit.

Two from the NYRB

There is a big secret about sex,” wrote Leo Bersani in 1987. “Most people don’t like it.” The same might be said of translation, which many readers secretly consider a necessary evil.

Translation is transliteration. It's a necessary evil. Utilitarianism turns practical necessity into the ideal, so its weaknesses are now "secrets". And another name for the file of women getting their model of sexuality from homosexual men. Post-feminism is pre-feminism on crank, and rationalism makes you stupid. Or the other way around. An asshole doesn't have a clitoris.  Call it female circumcision by category error.

In his films for children, Hayao Miyazaki has used the labor-intensive art of animation to study the major problem of adult life.

That was the subhead, but still. No fucking shit.

The director sticks to a deliberately vague line, one that could be applied to the most anodyne Disney venture, that all his films are about “how to live.” Few scholars or critics have done the work to penetrate this author’s statement. “What’s it about?” asked Nigel Andrews of Spirited Away. “Simple answer: Everything.” Ligaya Mishan writes that Miyazaki’s films seem to “thwart the Western mind.”

A world of idiots.

Miyazaki is the benign ruler of his domain. He's a master and treated as one by his employee/servants. He's a filmmaker and an artist. His wife "hasn't forgiven him" he says, for making her stop working as an animator. Nothing about any of this"thwarts the Western mind". There are many things in his work that are foreign to the Western mind, but French art is foreign to the English. You can't translate Rimbaud, Mallarmé, or Lady Murasaki, but there's nothing to translate in a painting—a material thing—or an image; the difference is in the perception by individuals and members of various groups. Japanese people understand Miyazaki in ways Europeans will not, but the thing absent perception is the same. 

Spirited Away is a film about children and the adults who care for them. Miyazaki's closest equivalent in the US is Maruice Sendak. In Europe it's Tove Jansson.

You will never understand the inner workings of another mind; all you have to work with is your perception of their actions, or the record or description of those actions by others, rendered in form. Proust is untranslatable; he could never be an English novelist; the past is another county. Acknowledging these things is the beginning of adulthood and intellectual life. We're ruled by big children in university chairs and editorial offices, and it makes me want to puke. 

in re: the "Western mind". A commenter, Zina Hitz, on Leiter's post reporting the death of Harry Frankfurt
When I met him at Princeton I was already trained as a scholar in Greek philosophy. But I had not fully realized that I could use philosophy to think about my life or what t means to be a human being.

Princeton philosophy in the 80's

"My students were all obsessed with sex. Not the idea of sex, or the meaning of sex, but sex!"

Rakesh Bhandari comments about Frankfurt's discussion of 1st and 2nd order desires. Maybe Frankfurt will be remembered for teaching geeks that there's more to life than being geeks, the same transition Derrida played a part in. One of them would be amused. I still think I coined the phrase second-order curiosity, meaning the ironic awareness of an interest, as a way of explaining the problems of analytic philosophy. Autism is the model of first order curiosity: subtext, and other people, are irrelevant. "I'm a liberal"; "I'm a nice guy!" "Some of my best friends..." "I have an extended mind!"

Mathematics can't tell you why you wanted to be a mathematician. "Science can't even justify science." Steven Weinberg, whose philosophy justifies Zionism, as Leiter's does.

Bhandari, in the past, and recently.

Two by Tushnet: one pushing his version of the "unitary executive" and another, on free speech and art, again. He belongs with the idiots above.

A few weeks ago, my family went on vacation in Copenhagen, where we ate at several top-of-the-line restaurants. My reaction to the meals? “How incredibly creative of the chef.”

A few weeks ago, my family went to DC, where we met with several top-of-the-line law firms. My reaction to the briefs? “How incredibly creative of the partners.”

Briefs are referred to as well crafted. "Lawyers are tradespeople!"

None of these cases are about speech; they're about the relation of speech to commerce. 

The idiot

A different example, with the same analytic structure, clarifies the problem. Switch from discrimination on the basis of religion to discrimination on the basis of race. Now the chef makes dishes to preserve white culture. An African-American comes to the restaurant, but the chef says, “Sorry, I won’t serve you because my message that these foods are preserving white culture would be diluted if people saw Black people eating at the restaurant.” We might say that the restaurant owner’s choice of a business model is his way of expressing himself: His expressive conduct is his expressive activity.

White Trash Cooking is a cookbook, and anyone can buy it. The KKK can open a restaurant, but it has to serve niggers, gooks, spics, and kikes. Equal access to the market, in a commercial culture: from Wickard vs Filburn to civil rights, the market takes precedence over social and private life. 

After Tushnet's open letter: 

—NBC, Alabama Republicans refuse to draw a second Black congressional district in defiance of Supreme Court.

—National Review[!], Harvard’s Mark Tushnet Wants Joe Biden to Become a Dictator

Tushnet is a famous opponent of judicial review, and now Alabama Republicans and supporters of the independent state legislature theory have heeded his call. On executive supremacy, Posner and Vermuele at least are consistent. And all of this and everything above, with the same paper-thin idea of language, and politics.

Saturday, July 15, 2023


The European Commission’s appointment of an American economist to a top job in its competition department has prompted a backlash from French politicians, with the digital minister “inviting the Commission to re-examine the matter”.

The EU executive announced Fiona Scott Morton’s appointment as chief economist in DG COMP, the Commission authority responsible for ensuring fair competition within the single market, on Tuesday (11 July).

However, Scott Morton’s career as a consultant for a series of digital giants, including Apple and Microsoft, and her nationality has resulted in criticism in Paris. Of the 32,000 people working for the Commission, around 1,900 are third-country nationals and are mainly local agents established in foreign countries....

Centre-left MEP Raphaël Glucksmann, who headed the French Socialist list ahead of the 2019 elections, said that “appointing an American citizen who worked for Amazon and Meta as chief economist of DG Competition is unacceptable”.

“We have worked hard to regulate GAFAM [Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft], not to entrust the application of these rules to their lobbyist. No way,” he concluded on Twitter.

Manon Aubry MEP, co-chair of The Left group in the European Parliament, said the situation “raises an obvious question of conflict of interest”....

Louis Aliot, one of the leaders of Marine Le Pen’s party, the far-right Rassemblement National, condemned Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for “giving a key position to American interests against the interests of European companies and peoples”.

Contacted by EURACTIV France, a series of government advisers from the prime minister’s services, the Elysée, and three ministries first declined to respond.

Renew MEP and former Minister for EU Affairs, Nathalie Loiseau, questioned the appropriateness of Scott Morton’s appointment, calling it “disappointing”.

“So Commissioner Vestager hasn’t found any Europeans who are worthy of being chief economist?”, Loiseau tweeted.

According to a senior European official quoted by Le Monde, the American “was the best of the eleven candidates”.

Macron’s Renaissance MP Antoine Armand described the European executive’s choice as “absurd” and “inconceivable”, given that the conflicts of interest that seem to be emerging mean that the new chief economist of DG COMP “will have to withdraw from major dossiers”....

GAFAM: Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft. Remember Stanford, the first link below.

There's no freedom of speech in Europe, but America sees freedom of speech as paired with freedom of property. The US government and "liberal" technocratic managers, Scott Morton and her peers, are perfectly happy to have private monopolies, their past and future employers, control what people read and say. Algorithms can feed the lowest instincts their captive audience, free from liability. The government gets censorship without having to taking credit.

Taibbi is a grifter; the "Twitter files" were mostly nothing new, but as hype-man for billionaires, and making a good living at it, he's helped to obscure the bigger issue. 

repeat: Zuckerberg describes Facebook policy, "penalizing borderline content", shadowbanning, in 2018.

I don't read Stoller much. Out of curiosity I googled his name and Taibbi's

Twitter, prior to Musk’s takeover, had been caught multiple times playing fast and loose with user data. So it signed a consent decree with the FTC in 2010 committing the firm to lots of internal work regarding data privacy and security. It then violated that decree in the 2010s, and so had to pay $150 million fine in 2022, and redouble its commitment to data privacy. When Musk bought the firm, he fired most of the people in charge of FTC compliance, and probably unwittingly gave user data access to third parties. Which is likely both illegal and Twitter’s third violation of the law. That’s the kind of thing that can incur a huge fine, as well as penalties against individuals in charge of decision-making. And guess who makes the decisions at Twitter? Elon Musk.

During the subcommittee hearing, which revolved around Hunter Biden’s laptop-style scandals, participants occasionally veered into the FTC. (Jordan released a silly mostly ignored report pretending there’s some connection, my org put out a rebuttal.) And no one seemed to understand why the FTC would police Twitter’s violation of the law, instead chalking it up to some sort of conspiracy to censor conservatives. (Taibbi, after attacking the FTC, didn’t seem to realize there had been a consent decree.)

Not that there aren’t conspiracies, but the FTC policing Twitter over privacy violations isn’t one of them. Anyway, Senator Ted Cruz ad Jordan are investigating the FTC. That’s not going to go anywhere, because there’s no scandal. But Musk is going after the FTC via Jordan for a reason - he realizes Twitter has a legal problem and may be on the hook for some serious penalties. 

Stoller recommends Taibbi on Substack, for the same reason he defends Hawley: he can't see the grift. He's an honest nationalist who knows how to count: a Keynesian China hawk. 
repeat, on Bidenomics, from neoliberalism to mercantilism, which in the end neoliberalism always was.

Americans are conformist: opinions are like assholes; two things you don't talk about in a bar are politics and religion, three if you add money; the web is for talking to your friends. Individualism leads to its opposite. The second link is to Jed Purdy on Tocqueville; by accident or luck the first includes Stoller, and Taibbi—I'd forgotten—on Joe Rogan, and David Dayen, all on banning targeted advertising. 

I've alway referred to the flattening effect of individualism as resulting in an inability to judge A from B. If everyone is dancing to their own tune they're all equally inarticulate: the articulate being defined by the existence of a common form or language. But before that, public conformity begins in the need not to start a fight, and less in individuals than the coexistence of tribes. But then the tribes too begin to fade, and then recreated as artificial, overdetermined "intentional" communities, "social bonds are construed as a matter of taste and choice rather than of obligation" as Streeck describes it, 250[?] years after the first utopian community, the first revolutionary cosplay.

Taibbi and Stoller are more examples of the nostalgia of contemporary American politics. 

Press briefing, Nov. 28, 2022, state pressure to censor is state censorship. The whole exchange is obscene. I wonder who the researcher at Stanford is.
Q    Just a question about Twitter. You know, there’s a researcher at Stanford who says that this is a critical moment, really, in terms of ensuring that Twitter does not become a vector for misinformation.  I mean, are you concerned about the — you know, Elon Musk says there’s more and more subscribers coming online.  Are you concerned about that?  And what tools do you have?  Who is it at the White House that is really keeping track of this?

Friday, July 14, 2023

From April and I was convinced I'd noted it. This is just bookmarking. 

Rest of World, Twitter is complying with more government demands under Elon Musk

It’s been exactly six months since Elon Musk took over Twitter, promising a new era of free speech and independence from political bias. But Twitter’s self-reported data shows that, under Musk, the company has complied with hundreds more government orders for censorship or surveillance — especially in countries such as Turkey and India.

The data, drawn from Twitter’s reports to the Lumen database, shows that between October 27, 2022 and April 26, 2023, Twitter received a total of 971 requests from governments and courts. These requests included orders to remove controversial posts, as well as demands that Twitter produce private data to identify anonymous accounts. Twitter reported that it fully complied in 808 of those requests, and partially complied in 154 other cases. (For nine requests, it did not report any specific response.)

Most alarmingly, Twitter's self-reports do not show a single request in which the company refused to comply, as it had done several times before the Musk takeover. Twitter rejected three such requests in the six months before Musk's takeover, and five in the six months prior to that.

More broadly, the figures show a steep increase in the portion of requests that Twitter complies with in full. In the year before Musk's acquisition, the figure had hovered around 50%, in line with the compliance rate reported in the company's final transparency report. After Musk's takeover, the number jumps to 83% (808 requests out of a total of 971).

The full dataset used in this reporting is available here.

Rest of World, About us, the sixth subhead: Hold the powerful accountable

We hold companies, executives, and policymakers accountable for the impact of their work and decisions. In a world where a single product designer in Palo Alto can affect the daily lives of millions of users in New Delhi with one click, it’s critical to confront decision-makers with the impact of their work.

Since the founder is the daughter of Eric Schmidt, she knows whereof she speaks. Holding dad accountable is another question.

Eric Schmidt has been quietly building an investment vehicle blending public and private funds that could grant the former Google CEO unusual influence over U.S. national security policy and, potentially, the opportunity to steer taxpayer money to his own bets.
The Tech Transparency Project, "Holding Big Tech accountable". Funded by Soros and Omidyar
You can't escape billionaires who really want to help.

repeat, from November

FT: "EU and US turn up the heat on Elon Musk over Twitter"

Elon Musk is under renewed pressure from the US and EU over his ownership of Twitter, as regulators clamp down on the billionaire’s push to transform the social network into a freewheeling haven of free speech.

The European Commission on Wednesday threatened Musk with a ban unless Twitter abides by strict content moderation rules, as US Treasury secretary Janet Yellen indicated that Washington was reviewing his purchase of the social network.

Thursday, July 13, 2023


How ESG Investors Helped Saudi Aramco (the world’s most powerful oil company) Raise Billions

For subscribers only

It's from Bloomberg, If you sign up for an email from Matt Levine you don't have to pay a thing, but you miss all the offhand cultural references and the art. 

Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, has become an unlikely beneficiary of funds earmarked for sustainable investments thanks to a complex web of financial structures it used to raise money from its pipelines. …

The unlikely tie-up between Aramco and ESG began with the creation of two subsidiaries — the Aramco Oil Pipelines Company and the Aramco Gas Pipelines Company. Aramco sold 49% of the shares in each unit to consortiums led by EIG Global Energy Partners LLC and BlackRock Inc., respectively. These investors used bridge loans from banks to fund those transactions. 

In order to generate cash to repay the bank loans, the EIG and BlackRock consortiums created two special purpose vehicles: EIG Pearl Holdings and GreenSaif Pipelines Bidco, both registered at the same Luxembourg address. These SPVs then sold bonds, which, since they had no direct links to the fossil-fuel industry, ended up getting an above-average score in a widely-used JPMorgan Chase & Co. sustainability screening based on third-party ESG scores. 

From there, the bonds made their way into JPMorgan’s ESG indexes, which are cumulatively tracked by about $40 billion of assets under management. Investors in the SPV bonds include funds managed by UBS Group AG, Legal & General Investment Management and the investment arm of HSBC Holdings Plc.

A repeat. 21 years later it's hard not to laugh.

NYT Nov. 25, 2002,  Neil MacFarquhar, "Killing Underscores Enmity Of Evangelists and Muslims" 

''I think she was killed because she was preaching Christianity to Muslims,'' said Bishop George Kwaiter, acting archbishop for the Roman Catholic diocese, who has criticized the evangelist movement's assertive efforts at conversion.

''She was in the habit of gathering the Muslim children of the quarter and preaching Christianity to them while dispensing food and toys and social assistance,'' he said, and her actions upset the city's Muslim hierarchy. ''In these times, there are people in the Muslim community who don't even want to hear the word 'conversion.'''

on the natural history of destruction/nostalgia for the present

Hajo Holborn, "Achievements and Prospects of German Democracy", Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 70, No. 3 (Sep., 1955) JSTOR,  cited by Krieger

Everywhere bureaucracy has multiplied but nowhere as much as in Germany. Allied military government liked to work through the civil service rather than through political parties. The Bonn system has extended the scope of the judiciary and of the government service tremendously and in Germany these two professions are staffed by the same type of civil servant. The Bonn constitution like all the new state constitutions contains grandiose catalogues of civil rights which go far beyond anything known in the United States. The experiences of the arbitrariness of Nazi rule have created in Germany a great belief in judicial procedures. But many of these civil rights are mutually incompatible and a settlement of conflicts calls for a political decision rather than a juristic opinion. One says in Germany that the Rechtsstaat has become a Justizstaat, a government by justices rather than a government by law. Meanwhile, the administration is busily occupied in determining the claims which the new legislation has granted to practically every imaginable category of human being, and all these claims are justiciable. The main contacts between the hard-working German and his new state are the pleadings of his private claims before an official behind a desk.

German bureaucracy is organized as before 1933. The university diploma is the entrance ticket to a career in the higher service and admission to the university depends in turn on the graduation from high school. Except for some beginnings in Hamburg, Hessen and West Berlin, class privileges in higher education have not been broken. Allied military government utterly failed to broaden the social base of the civil service and of the "academic class" in general. Some changes have taken place. The idea of Rechtsstaat does not appear any more as a matter of course and as something that can easily be combined with any other political order, including totalitarianism. But while, therefore, totalitarianism and militant nationalism are being rejected, a positive belief in democracy as the only method that can assure the permanent security of the rule of law in our age is extremely rare. Democracy, or, as one would say among these groups in Germany, the "rule of parties" (Parteienstaat), is not a guarantee of freedom. On the contrary, it is argued that the democratic volonte generale can produce the suppression of all law and freedom. In this line of thought national socialism appears more as a consequence of the French Revolution than as a reaction to it, and this explains, too, why academic historical thought centers so largely on Bismarck.

It is true, however, that this has not led to an openly reactionary attitude or to militant nationalism. Both the judiciary and the general civil service have shown a more cooperative spirit toward the Bonn government than they did to the Weimar Republic. But parliament and parties are eyed with suspicion by the great majority. Germany's most eminent philosopher of education, Theodor Litt, wrote recently: "A champion of democracy must be conscious of the odds against which he is struggling and the dubious support which he can expect from the present state of public life and the average thinking of his fellow citizens."' The Rechtstaat ideal has come back and come back in greater strength. In the historical and social setting of Germany it is not likely to lose its authoritarian overtones altogether, but it has become noticeable that the authority of the government is being enforced with a firmer hand than in the days of the Weimar Republic, even against the industrialists.

Ever since I was a kid, and then later, with Richter and Polke, and Kraftwerk, and reading Böll, reading and watching Fassbinder, Herzog, Germany in Autumn... Wings of Desire was released two years after Signal Germany on the Air. Gursky. It's useless even making a list. I'm not sure when I came up with the thought that postwar Germany was autistic, but I made the comment to a woman whose family charts the history of the 20th century in Germany, or at least the high bourgeois, German and Jewish, with all that implies, and she agreed. Marcel Reich-Ranicki said that the only German he ever met who fully understood the significance of the Nazi era to the Jews was Ulrike Meinhof. It made me laugh.

At some point in the 90s I wrote the title for an essay "German Culture and the Banality of Democracy". It makes sense I'm repeating things from 2002

"One says in Germany that the Rechtsstaat has become a Justizstaat, a government by justices rather than a government by law." The need for truth and the hatred of politics

I interrupted a pompous 20something art aficionado/theory-hack who was describing the work to a friend in terms of "the abject", to say that the best way to understand Polke was to think of Herzog or any well educated German man born during the war and now alone in the desert, or in the jungle, or at sea, or on the ice, tripping on acid and screaming lyric poetry into the void. The pompous kid looked over his glasses and said, "I'm not familiar with his films."

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Mark Graber 

Harvard tried to keep out Jews and other unsuitable children of immigrants from Eastern and southern Europe by using intelligence tests. The persons who devised those tests assured the American elite that standardized examinations distinguished the natural intelligence of sturdy Anglo-Saxons from Jews and others whose inflated grades reflected obsessive studying. Alas, Jews and other immigrants figured out how to game the test. An admissions system based entirely on text scores and school grades would increase further the percentage of Jews and immigrant children at Harvard.

Diversity was the better solution to Harvard’s Jewish problem. Maybe Jews and other immigrant children were smart (“cunning“ and "shrewd” were other words found apt by many), but all they did was work and grade-grub. Protestant men were well-rounded leaders. You could go hiking in the woods or party with Protestants on weekends. Universities that were finishing schools for the elite wanted students who could appreciate the full richness of American society. The Protestant elite was convinced that all Jews did was study. How some managed to have children was a mystery to them. Evaluating the full person guaranteed classes made up predominantly of Protestants who would be political, economic, and social leaders and minimized the number of Jews who would do little more than become doctors, lawyers, engineers, and teachers....

When the Supreme Court of the United States first ruled on the constitutionality of race-conscious university admissions policies, four justices took the historical disadvantage route rather than Harvard’s road to diversity. The issue in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978) was whether the medical school at the University of California, Davis could set aside sixteen seats for students of color. Justices William Brennan, Byron White, Thurgood Marshall, and Harry Blackmun found this policy constitutionally unproblematic. Brennan’s opinion observed that “whites as a class” were “not saddled with such disabilities or subjected to such a history of purposeful unequal treatment or relegated to such a position of political powerlessness as to command extraordinary protection from the majoritarian political process.” Relying on what in the United States is called “intermediate scrutiny,” a form of judicial review that resembles what the rest of the world describes as “proportionality,” Brennan asserted that the medical school “could conclude that the serious and persistent underrepresentation of minorities in medicine . . . is the result of handicaps under which minority applicants labor as a consequence of a background of deliberate, purposeful discrimination against minorities in education and in society generally, as well as in the medical profession.” White, Marshall, and Blackmun played variations on these themes in their opinions. None cared much for diversity.

Justice Lewis Powell, who provided the crucial fifth vote on a court of nine justices, proved a better Harvard man. His opinion rejected both of Brennan’s central arguments. Powell insisted that the Court apply the highest level of scrutiny, strict scrutiny, to all race classifications. In his view, because “the white majority is composed of various minority groups most of which can lay claim to a history of prior discrimination, . . . no principled basis” existed “for deciding which groups would merit heightened judicial scrutiny.” 

Diversity came to the rescue. Powell concluded that “a diverse student body” was a compelling interest given that “the nation’s future depends upon leaders trained through wide exposure to the ideas and mores of students as diverse as this Nation of many peoples.”

Good one

Justice Clarence Thomas noted that the University of Michigan Law School would enroll more students of color by being less selective and that the institution’s interest in being ranked in the top ten could not possibly be a compelling interest.

Every administrator dreams of working at a top tier school, for the same reason professors lord it over secondary school teachers, and the highest ranking are happy when they don't have to teach at all.

Leiter's arguments against "diversity blather" are founded in vulgar positivism: there's no reason for women to have a role in writing abortion policy.

repeat: There's no epistemological need to have blacks, or women, or homosexuals, or Palestinians, tell their own stories, or judge others' stories.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Shouldn't this stuff be banned as disinformation or something? I'm really worried for the future of this country.

Bipartisan push forms in Congress to deny Ukraine cluster bombs.

The Intercept, "A loose coalition of Democrats and Freedom Caucus Republicans are pushing NDAA amendments that challenge Washington’s foreign policy orthodoxy"

Putin's got to everybody apparently.
I posted Moyn's piece without starting with the obvious. It's so late in the game for him to be doing this. It's kind of amazing. He has a long history playing cute with reactionaries, but he has no time even for Beinart. It really marks the boundaries of liberal academia, as a thing in the world.
More amusing discoveries. Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins in Dissent, in 2021, comparing Beinart from 2006 to Moyn in the present. Beinart's changed, but not in any way any of them can accept. Dissent, provincial American "progressivism".  Steinmetz-Jenkins previously.

Moyn, "perhaps Arendt... wasn’t Zionist enough"

For this reason, the great use of reading Arendt alongside Cold War liberals in the age of decolonization is to consider the geographical morality they shared. They offered Cold War libertarianism for the transatlantic “West,” an emancipatory statism (with violence if necessary) in their Zionist politics, and a caustic skepticism about the fate of freedom in either form elsewhere, based on an implicitly hierarchical set of assumptions about the world’s peoples. If this is right, their establishment of that special category for Jews in the Middle East is compelling and remarkable, for its very existence—as the sole place in their thought where earlier forms of liberalism with their activism and statism were allowed to survive— represents a fundamental challenge to their call for limits in developed countries and anxieties about meaningless violence in developing ones. To the extent that Zionism allowed a last remnant of the earlier philosophy of liberal emancipation they all liquidated, perhaps Arendt, like the Cold War liberals, wasn’t Zionist enough.

Yerachmiel Kahanovich

E: What is Operation Broom and what was its objective? 

YK: We cleared all the villages…

E: What do you mean?

YK: We cleared one village after another and expelled – expelled them, they fled to the Sea of Galilee and from there to the Galilee. 

E: But how? How? 

YK: You mean by shooting?

E: How do you mean?

YK: We shot, we threw a grenade here and there. Just listen – there's one thing you have to understand: at first, once they heard shots they took off with the intention of returning later. 

E: But, wait a sec, that was before May 15, that was before the Arab armies came. 

Operation Broom, Operation Broom then. How does it happen? Do you receive any information? Is it an organized campaign?

YK: Yeah, sure.

E: Tell me.

YK: It was. Who was it? Yigal Allon himself planned it. We moved from one place to the next. 

E: What places? Can you tell me?

YK: We passed, we passed by Tiberias and moved from one village to the other, from one to the next. 

E: So you had orders to expel and clean up the villages?

YK: And then go home. 

E: But you did see how they ran away?

YK: We saw them, what do you think? I fired at them with that – with the Browning – on the boats. 

E: They fled on boats?

YK: Yes. 

E: On the Sea of Galilee?

YK: Yes. On the other side they had more [villages], except [Kibbutz] Ein Gev [which was the only Jewish settlement on the east bank]. 

E: And who were the people who fled?

YK: Village people, they were fishermen, among other things. Then it was Lod. 

E: Wait a minute. We'll get to that. 

YK: Ramle. We entered the houses only in one place, in Balad al-Sheikh, near Yagur. There it was really, murderous and all that. And he said, you go there with axes. 

E: Who did?

YK: Only one man could – Yigal Allon. And I assume there was no misunderstanding between him and Ben Gurion, no. "So go there with axes, let them get lost, leave no trace. As much as you can, don't use any bullets, so that they won't hear it at the [British] police [station in Yagur] and, so that they won't send them reinforcements. 

E: So what did you do?

YK: We smashed the door and throw a grenade…

E: In Balad al-Sheikh?

YK: And indeed it never rose again, it's gone. 

Arendt, "Zionism Reconsidered"
Not less dangerous and quite in accord with this general trend was the sole new piece of historical philosophy which the Zionists contributed out of their own new experiences; "A nation is a group of people ... held together by a common enemy" (Herzl)-an absurd doctrine containing only this bit of truth: that many Zionists had, indeed, been convinced they were Jews by the enemies of the Jewish people. Thereupon these Zionists concluded that without antisemitism the Jewish people would not have survived in the countries of the Diaspora; and hence they were opposed to any attempt to liquidate antisemitism on a large scale. On the contrary, they declared that our foes, the antisemites, "will be our most reliable friends, the antisemitic countries our allies" (Herzl). The result could only be, of course, an utter confusion in which nobody could distinguish between friend and foe, in which the foe became the friend and the friend the hidden, and therefore all the more dangerous, enemy.

"We were the first fascists" Marcus Garvey.
We are living in a time of exploding nationalisms. The blacks in America are the first to abjure the idea of assimilation, to realize the inherent lie in the concept of melting pot. Through black nationalism has developed a new black pride and hence the ticket to liberation

Today’s young American Jew is a good bit slower. He desperately wants assimilation: Jewishness embarrasses him. He finds the idea of Jewish nationalism, Israel not­ withstanding, laughable. The leftist Jewish student is today’s Uncle Tom. He scrapes along, demons­trating for a John Hatchett, asham­ed of his identity, and obsessed with it. He cannot accept the fact that he is seen as a Jew, that his destiny is that of the Jews, and that his only effectiveness is as a Jew. But he wants to be an “American,” a left­ist American, talking liberation and aspiring WASP. He is a ludicrous figure. 

Monday, July 10, 2023

A critique of Bidenomics in Phong Bui's Brooklyn Rag, and Phong's letter to readers, after Prigozhin.  I'm not going to go over my sociology/genealogy of intellectual hipsterdom, even though Jamie Merchant's essay appears under an ad for an exhibition of luxury commodities made by an insufferably pretentious schmuck, in a luxury boutique owned by a clueless fop, in a town with an economy fueled almost entirely by the "oll bidness". 

Grey Anderson and Thomas Meaney in the NYT: "NATO  secures American influence in Europe on the cheap". I'm not sure that NATO allies won't end up with more power than the US wants.

It's always good to see interesting things in the mainstream press.

Merchant, "The Economic Consequences of Neo-Keynesianism".

Criticism of the new orthodoxy has been scarce, but not completely absent. In a blog for the New Left Review, the sociologist Dylan Riley threw cold water on the whole prospect of Bidenomics. Taking the March bailout of Silicon Valley Bank as a point of departure, Riley claimed that “the SVB collapse is a beautiful, almost paradigmatic, demonstration of the fundamental structural problem of contemporary capitalism: a hyper-competitive system, clogged with excess capacity and savings, with no obvious outlets to soak them up,” and that “the current vogue for ‘industrial policy’ will do nothing to address this underlying issue.” Consequently, socialists have no business supporting Bidenomics or any other industrial policy for that matter: instead, “the commanding heights of the economy…must be seized all at once.”4 

Despite helpfully solving the problem of socialist strategy, Riley’s polemic provoked a flurry of rote Keynesian responses criticizing his ultraleft politics and emphasizing the role of demand as a policy variable. Writing for New York magazine, Eric Levitz pointed to the high rate of US profits, as measured by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, as evidence against Riley’s contention that overcapacity is suppressing them. “More broadly, overcapacity cannot exist in anything but a relative sense,” he added, “the world does not have more productive capacity than is required to satisfy all the wants and needs of its 7.8 billion people.” The problem, Levitz suggested, is one of “inadequate demand.”5 Similarly, the economist J.W. Mason criticized the theoretical basis of Riley’s overproduction story, claiming that it—unjustifiably—takes demand as a static variable, just as, conversely, mainstream economics usually takes supply as a given factor, unalterable by human activity. Besides, political realities should trump political purism. Rather than dismissing Bidenomics from the standpoint of some idealized socialist movement, progressive activists should welcome it as the flawed but long-awaited arrival of post-neoliberal governance, which for better or worse will form the terrain of political conflict in the years to come. And in the end, isn’t any climate policy better than none?6 

Considering the content of the IRA, that's actually debatable. The IRA— billed by its cheerleaders as “the most important climate action in U.S. history”—provides billions in tax credits to generate domestic consumer demand for US-made electric vehicles, along with a host of other measures to incentivize emission reductions and clean energy manufacturing. It also hands out truly massive subsidies to the oil and gas industries, locking in continued windfall profits for oil oligarchs—“courageous visionaries,” in the words of US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm—and environmental degradation at the public’s expense for decades to come.7 At the moment, it is unclear if the legislation’s decarbonization measures will even balance out the historic pipeline permit it just handed to the fossil fuel industry not just to continue, but to escalate its campaign to doom human civilization. Beyond the IRA, the speed with which the Biden administration has approved new drilling projects has left even Trump’s cretinous lackeys of industry in the dust.8 

That’s not all, though. A key feature of the IRA is its brazen protectionism for US electric automobile manufacturing, which predictably set off alarm bells in Brussels and Seoul, whose exports the Act is explicitly meant to shut out. As a plainly mercantilist policy with the goal of raising US growth at the expense of its competitors, the IRA is already triggering an international arms race toward general mercantilism, with the European Union rushing to implement its own protectionist subsidies. The South Korean government, already acting against its own economic interests to accommodate the US’s trade war against China, was shocked by the US’s apparent willingness to economically decimate a critical ally in its anti-China coalition.9 It has since enacted a new round of subsidies for its domestic industries and is currently considering even bigger ones. Japan is following suit.10 With the IRA’s beggar-thy-neighbor consequences, the US is happily forming a circular firing squad with its supposed “allies,” with signs afoot that a global race to the bottom in protectionism is already underway. This makes the prospects for global cooperation on the climate crisis even bleaker than they already were.11 

There's a lot more.

Caitlín Doherty, "poetry editor" at a journal so over-the-top that its editors used mocking criticism for its blurbs

“an overdesigned manual in nihilist navel gazing” “Coffee table architectural favela porn.”

— writes an article attacking contemporary feminism as style, in the NLR.
via Anton Jäger. You can't make this shit up.

Andrea Dworkin

Swimming in the blood of her own body, in labor and in pain, the woman is a half-human who achieves her half-human fate in pregnancy and childbearing. The canal through which the infant is extruded is the man’s place of sex; he enters, not wanting blood to drown him or contaminate him or pollute him; the blood makes her dirty and threatens his pristine penis; this makes her an abomination.

Susie Bright was right, she's a great pornographer. She's wrong to call her a lousy writer; that's a good paragraph. But how do you deal with so much self-loathing; anger directed first at herself and then out at the world? Dworkin did it by making her hate into a kind of art that laws she promoted would ban, or should if they're followed. Far from the first artist to make an art from self-destruction. 

Doherty is no better than the women she's responding to, all of them focused on style to avoid what they can't face, following Dworkin's model rather than trying to understand it. But Doherty can't accept that it's the style that makes it personal; and even the impersonal is a style if it's filled with details. It's those details that make it the communication between one single, specific, individual, person and another or others, and that's what the other writers are responding too. It's the details that make it the writing of "Andrea Dworkin". But Doherty—the poetry editor!—has no interest in the specifics of another life; she can't even read "Fascinating Fascism" for what it is. 

Doherty has to pretend. Programs and positivism: so earnest.

It cannot be overstated how deeply boring all this is. How unthrilling, how inessential, to how few urgent questions this seems to contain the seeds of any possible answers. As Dworkin said of porn (after her friend said it of heroin): ‘The worst thing about it all is the endless repetition.’ We’ve been here before, of course, in the past few years’ debate over Afropessimism. Similar risks adhere to a negative feminism: if the aim is to move from a biological conception of gender, as of race, to one that is socially constructed but no less real for it in its consequences, might it not behoove us to arrive at a category definition that does not condemn all those who fall within it to limitless amounts of pain? Feminism has no absolute right to existence. It must describe something about the world accurately for it to make sense as a political-philosophical position. And that description must contain within it verifiable truths about the current situation of women, or else it will be – only – a style.   

"Afropessimism",  academia like big pharma, evergreening the blues, "double-consciousness", "down by law", the history of black experience, and the experience of the working class, of any race, for the age of buppies; like Zionism and "little Israel".

And then this: "...if the aim is to move from a biological conception of gender" Brilliant

"And that description must contain within it verifiable truths about the current situation of women, or else it will be – only – a style."

All of this describes the current situation of women. But it's up to the next generation to read the details and understand the inner lives of the dead.

I've said it before: I was was shocked when I learned, late, that Brecht never recognized his own decadence. It was always the doubleness, contradiction, the violence that made the hairs on my arms stand up, that gave me shivers. I always saw everything for context. Everything's always been double. Or if it wasn't needed to be. If it wasn't double it bored me. But the obliviousness of people now, those who should know better if only because they've read the history, and even teach it! amazes me.

"and the experience of the working class, of any race". Cracker pessimism


Crooked Timber is celebrating 20 years, with posts by Bertram,  Quiggin, Henry, Brighouse, Maria Farrell, Holbo.

I could run down my list of lowlights; it's long. One will do. 
Ted Barlow "(of glorious memory)" [HF] 
The Islamic world has ample reasons for legitimate criticism. Anti-Semitism, sexism, lack of democracy, lack of opportunity, nurturing of terrorism… these are sad realities, not the hallucinations of right-wingers. Anger and criticism are appropriate, but our approach has to start with the assumption that Muslims are not going away. Short of deliberate genocide, there’s no way forward in the long run except for “hearts and minds.”

They've changed over the years, but since they don't want to remember ever being wrong about anything, it doesn't register.

Thursday, July 06, 2023

'See you later, Max.'

Ryan Ruby: oh, but it makes perfect sense: the criticism of a work of art is implicitly a criticism of a way of life. this is what gives criticism its stakes. people's resentment towards critics is both an acknowledgment of its importance and the highest compliment that can be paid to them.

Corey Robin: Kind of reminds me of what George Steiner said about the KGB: that no one took literature more seriously than they did.

Ruby: Perhaps it's self-flattery, but I've always been sympathetic to this observation--and have from time to time wondered if the most perfect form of censorship is paradoxically that people should be free to say whatever they like because language itself does not matter.

Robin: Don't tell anyone I said this, but I kind of agree.

Ruby: your secret is safe with me (and the internet)

Robin: That and similar arguments of his produced this epic conversation on British television between him, Mary McCarthy, and Joseph Brodsky. One of those things you stumble across on YouTube late at night, when you can't sleep. 
Ruby: never seen this! luckily, I expect to be facing a night when I can't sleep in the very near future. (also: al alvarez: there's a name you don't hear too often any more.)


Kant, What is Enlightenment

Thus we observe here as elsewhere in human affairs, in which almost everything is paradoxical, a surprising and unexpected course of events: a large degree of civic freedom appears to be of advantage to the intellectual freedom of the people, yet at the same time it establishes insurmountable barriers. A lesser degree of civic freedom, however, creates room to let that free spirit expand to the limits of its capacity. 

de Maistre

Everything that constrains a man, strengthens him.
"This guy was out here, one of the head honchos, and he was upset -- what was it? -- oh, yeah -- because Billy Al Bengston was racing motorcycles at the time. This critic just dismissed that out of hand as a superficial, suicidal self-indulgence. And I said you can't do that. We got going and ended up arguing about folk art. He was one of those Marxist critics who like to think they're real involved with the people, making great gestures and so forth, but they're hardly in the world at all. Anyway, he was talking about pot-making and weaving and everything, and my feeling was that that was all historical art but not folk art. As far as I'm concerned, a folk art is when you take a utilitarian object, something you use everyday, and you give it overlays of your own personality, what it is you feel and so forth. You enhance it with your life. And a folk art in the current period of time would more appropriately be in the area of something like a motorcycle. I mean, a motorcycle can be a lot more than just a machine that runs along; it can be a whole description of a personality and an aesthetic.

"Anyway, so I looked in the paper, and I found this ad of a guy who was selling a hot rod and a motorcycle. And I took the critic out to this place. It was really fortunate, because it was exactly what I wanted. We arrived at this place in the Valley, in the middle of nowhere, and here's this kid: he's selling a hot rod and he's got another he's working on. He's selling a '32 coupe, and he's got a '29 roadster in the garage. The '32 he was getting rid of was an absolute cherry. But what was more interesting, and which I was able to show this critic, was that here was this '29, absolutely dismantled, I mean, completely apart, and the kid was making decisions about the frame, whether or not he was going to cad plate certain bolts or whether he was going to buff grind them, or whether he was going to leave them raw as they were. He was insulating and soundproofing doors, all kinds of things that no one would ever know or see unless they were truly a sophisticate in the area. But, I mean, real aesthetic decisions, truly aesthetic decisions. Here was a fifteen-year-old kid who wouldn't know art from schmart, but you couldn't talk about a more real aesthetic activity than what he was doing, how he was carefully weighing: what was the attitude of this whole thing? What exactly? How should it look? What was the relationship in terms of its machinery, its social bearing, everything? I mean, all these things were being weighed in terms of the aesthetics of how the thing should look. It was a perfect example.
"The critic simply denied it. Simply denied it: not important, unreal, untrue, doesn't happen, doesn't exist. See, he comes from a world in New York where the automobile . . . I mean, automobiles are 'What? Automobile? Nothing.' Right? I mean, no awareness, no sensitivity, no involvement. So he simply denied it: 'It doesn't exist.' Like that: 'Not an issue.' Which we argued about a little on the way back over the Sepulveda pass.

"I said, 'How can you deny it? You may not be interested, but how can you deny it? I mean, there it is, full blown, right in front of you, and it's obviously a folk art!'

"Anyway, he, 'No, no.'

"So I finally just stopped the car and made him get out. I just flat left him there by the road, man, and just drove off. Said, 'See you later, Max.'"

The Sharjah Biennial is less art than style sold on money and lies. Without either there'd be only a smaller regional audience, and who knows what you'd find under the surface.  Film festivals in Iran are more serious, because more local, and because films, like books, aren't luxury commodities, so conspicuous consumption is effect not cause.


David Drake is a flabby white suburbanite out of the Simpsons, now in Brooklyn, who writes about hip hop. The black teenagers who invented it didn't need a critics's permission, and neither did their friends.  The relation of artists to critics is adversarial, but critics are a byproduct not a cause. And it's not news that culture is richest where repression leaves room or is giving way. 

repeats. Steiner, Panofsky and Benjamin,  Steiner and Robin, and Farrell and Scialabba. Steiner is obviously conflicted, or he separates art from its audience: the people who make it represent freedom; their audience, including critics, are seduced, "and thus the cry in the poem may come to sound louder, more urgent, more real than the cry in the street outside. The death in the novel may move us more potently than the death in the next room."  Steiner could have been referring to himself; he had a fraternal bond with fragile bookworms, reactionary romantics of the library.

An artist has no necessary obligation to "what is best", only to the truth of experience, including the experience of lying, cheating and killing. And when the interview was first shown Alvarez had just published The Biggest Game in Town. I had no idea a British literary critic is responsible for the rise of Poker. Serendipity/The Ghost of Panofsky: Robert Irwin—above, explaining art to an art critic—made a living as a gambler before he made one as an artist.

Art wasn't invented by pretentious college students, white fans of the blues, critics, philosophers, moralists, priests, or librarians with fantasies of what art is supposed to be.
The most fascinating point of all applies more broadly than to Godard; it reaches out to anyone who believes that film is more important than the world. Maybe film is not the great new language of engagement with the world that Bazin hoped it would be. Perhaps it is, instead, a vehicle more suited to dreaming, sensationalism and not wanting to grow up.
repeats. Ryan Ruby and Matthew Sitman defend snobbery.

And remember that Robin is famous for lumping Edmund Burke with the Republican du jour. He's changed the reference in the subhead from Palin to Trump. What next, The Reactionary Mind: An Autobiography?

Robin, back in the day:

I think people have lots of different interests, and I think an elitist project like conservatism actually offers non-elites certain opportunities for power (though power that is always allied/hitched to subjection), which is one of the reasons non-elites support it.

And now he's come out of the closet, and my response hasn't changed.