...it would appear. His Facebook remarks are largely factually false, but his ignorant extramural rant is plainly constitutionally protected and so his university has no grounds for sanctioning him, as I trust they will not. But what a knuckle-head!
Yes, there's someone occupying the office, but he's clueless and is even more out of his depth than George W. Bush, who had at least had some experience in government. The man occupying the office occasionally does things when instructed. Fortunately, there are a few adults around who have had real jobs and performed them professionally, like General Mattis, the Secretary of Defense, and Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State. Even the Vice-President, the otherwise morally abhorrent Mike Pence, actually governed a state, and got in trouble because of his bigotry, not because of sheer incompetence. The interesting thing is that it turns out the country, and the vast federal bureaucracy, can chug along despite not having a President. For how long though? I guess we're going to find out.
We know how Trump thinks, and a distinguishing feature of it is that it includes precious few ideas, and no ideology: it is driven mainly by personal relationships and loyalties, plus the quirks of his psychological disturbance. Bannon, by contrast, has ideas and an ideology, and this is the best synthesis of what they are. (See also this and this, and recall an earlier post about his speech to the Vatican traditionalists.) It is a strange brew, about what you would expect from a working-class Irish-Catholic kid without any real intellectual discipline or sophistication. He notices real events--e.g., Wall Street bankers being bailed out after the 2008 fiasco while working-class Americans see their retirement savings or their property values collapse--but has no serious diagnosis about cause and effect, instead interjecting as an interpretive rubric various petty bigotries and prejudices that he probably learned in his youth with crackpot theories about the "real" trends of history. He correctly sees that there are elites, but fails to see that he shares with them the most crucial commitment, namely, to capitalist relations of production. He understands too little about capitalism to realize that his silly nationalist bromides are actually incompatible with the capitalism he cherishes, that the "Davos class" of elites he bemoans are the necessary consequence of the economic system he still supports. This is apparent to other members of the ruling class, e.g., this billionaire investor:
“President [sic] Trump may be able to temporarily hold off the sweep of automation and globalization by cajoling companies to keep jobs at home, but bolstering inefficient and uncompetitive enterprises is likely to only temporarily stave off market forces,” he continued. “While they might be popular, the reason the U.S. long ago abandoned protectionist trade policies is because they not only don’t work, they actually leave society worse off.”
Bannon once professed that, like Lenin, he wanted to destroy the system. He should read some more Lenin, and then he might even develop a coherent world view and understand the actual role of Republican policies in it.
At least he didn't refer to the media as the Lügenpresse (that must have required some self-restraint). Bannon seems to have forgotten that Trump won because of 100,000 unexpected votes in three states, and that 55% of the electorate didn't vote for his man. (For those who missed it, here's some insight into this weird, stupid man, Stephen Bannon.)
So the good news is that he's been President [sic] for 24 hours, and hasn't killed us all, so that's hopeful. Anyway, following up on yesterday, here are a couple of other reactions from philosophers to that comically bad and delusional inauguration speech. ("Carnage"? What is this crazy man talking about?)
Ken Taylor (Stanford) posted the following very funny comment on Facebook, and kindly gave permission to repost here:
What Trump really meant to say when he said that for the first time the American People have taken power is something more like, "With the aid of the electoral college, Russian tampering, and FBI malfeasance, the minority of American people who up until now have deluded themselves that I'm not really the crazy narcissistic fuck that I appear to most Americans to be have for the first time taken power." Now that's unfortunately true.
An untenured philosopher wrote: "‘Thus spake Herr Trump’ indeed. But I thought Donnie Darko’s speech needed a little more oompah loompah, so I’ve set its sentiments to the tune of ‘Der morgige Tag ist mein’, inspired by this Spitting Image episode (very striking similarities to our present predicament) (the episode is itself a parody of this scene from Cabaret (1972)):
What may be in store. Of the two conservative thinktanks in Washington, American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation, only AEI has ever been concerned with adult policy analysis; Heritage is just a front for reactionary hacks. And the budget plan allegedly comes from Heritage.
Yup. Norm Ornstein at AEI has been good on this subject for a long time too. It began with Reagan, but jumped the tracks totally in the early 1990s with Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, then Drudge etc. It's an interesting question why the capitalist ruling class in America has proved so irrational and imprudent, so much so that "conservative" parties in other democracies would largely be moderate Democrats in the U.S.
Shocking! (Context.) A shame he didn't understand the paper, though (alternatively, if he did understand it, a shame he couldn't make any relevant counter-arguments). Do read the first few comments on the post, they're very funny.
(Kudos, by the way, to Justin Tosi and Brandon Warmke, who instead of demanding a juvenile pity-fest for their vulnerability, communicated to their critic that given that the paper was in the public domain, it was fair game for mocking criticism.)
(Thanks to several readers who brought this to my attention.)
...but since "conservative" doesn't mean conservative anymore, but something more like "bonkers reactionary religious fanatic with little grip on reality" these days, this is a horrifying statistic. Gallup's analysis of its own poll results is naïve: it fails to take account of the fact that the extension of the terms "conservative" and "liberal" have changed over the last quarter-century, as the overall political discourse has moved to the right on every topic except a handful of social issues (notably, LGBT rights).
Apparently these legislators are too stupid to realize that tenure is non-monetary compensation, and that ending tenure will require enhanced compensation--unless of course the plan is just to destroy the public universities in the state. Which may be the plan. (The Iowa legislator apparently doesn't even know about breach of contract--it would certainly be a constructive expenditure of state resources to have to defend against a lawsuit by every tenured professor in the state were this legislation to become law!)
What you're calling "elitism" is just simply not being ignorant. We don't have our heads shoved up Jesus's ass. And when the left gets angry because of how fucking dumb some of the shit coming out of rural and red mouths is, we're told we need to understand what they believe. No, we're just gonna say that stupid is stupid.
This 61-page document is not a work in political philosophy, in any sense of the term. Political philosophy is a sub-discipline of philosophy. This is not a work of philosophy, in any sense of the term. While characterizing the distinctive features of philosophy in the Western tradition has itself long been a lively topic among philosophers, it is in every guise marked by a mode of argument the point of which is the discovery of general and abstract truths. That mode of argument is manifested in standard forms of reasoning, for example, in establishing, with evidence, a number of premises the acceptance of which logically requires the acceptance of the truth of a conclusion those premises support.
A key thesis of the alt-right, as some contributors here have discussed, is that race is a real feature of the human person (just as sex is a real feature of the human person) and that one’s race can, to a large extent influence (or perhaps outright determine), a people’s intelligence, personality types, temperament, and so forth. The truth of this thesis, the alt-righter might claim, can be grasped at the level of common sense by simply having interactions with persons of various races.
Quite innocently and without meaning to cause scandal, an observer may notice, for example, that the Japanese he has met tend to be deferent and non-confrontational, or that Sub-Saharan Africans he has met tend to be joyous and energetic, or that the Italians he has met may be expressive, loud and impatient, that the Swedes he has met tend to be smarter than the Pygmies he has met, and so forth. But there is also plenty ofempiricalevidence for this thesis. (Perhaps this is the claim that Shapiro finds “racist”; if so, then either he has a very trivial account of what racism (e.g., the claim that there are racial differences, something that is hardly objectionable and is as true as the claim that there are differences between the sexes) is or he is simply wrong.)
Next comes the following claim by the alt-righter: these biological facts about one’s race go on to influence, outright determine, or, more poetically, flavor the sort of civilization that a race will establish. Thus the high-IQ race that is characteristically deferent and non-confrontational race will establish a peculiar and unique sort of civilization and the low-IQ race that is characteristically brutish, violent and present-thinking will establish a peculiar and unique sort of civilization. The alt-righter might additionally—and very plausibly—claim that a low-IQ race that is characteristically brutish, violent, and present-thinking will not—and perhaps cannot—establish the sort of civilization that the high-IQ, deferent and non-confrontational race can establish (and vice versa).
Now, if there really are racial differences in intelligence, personality, temperament, and so forth—and there is overwhelming evidence that there are such differences between the races—and these differences contribute to (or give a flavor to, or determine, etc.) the sort of civilization that a race will create, then it is not implausible at all to suggest that Western civilization—by which we mean European civilization—can only be fully and genuinely carried on by people of European biological stock (just as, say, Jewish civilization can only be genuinely or fully carried on by people of Jewish stock). Other races that have some biological similarity to people of European stock may carry European civilization forward to some extent—we could say not genuinely (as do, for example, the Japanese, to some extent, in their appreciation of classical music). But the differences between the race groups will inevitably result in differences in the way that European civilization can be carried out, just as we would expect Europeans (that is, people of European biological stock) to be able to carry on with Japanese civilization in a limited manner but never genuinely.
This is quite amazing, on so many levels: the conflation of culture with race, the cherry-picking of discredited "evidence", the inability to distinguish causation from correlation, all in the service of the most ugly and dangerous Nazi myths about "European biological stock" (as distinct from "Jewish stock" and so on). This is sick, sick stuff--we thought it was defeated in 1945!--but here it is on a blog that purports to represent contemporary philosophers "on the right." These are not philosophers "on the right," these are NeoNazi morons.
Understand that Tillerson was the CEO of Exxon, that America is a capitalist country in which the pursuit of profit is paramount and not subject to the generic limitation that it comport with government policy, and that the NYT headline writers hopefully know both these things. And this, remember, is the "best" newspaper in this benighted country.
Meanwhile, also in the NYT, Thomas "no ideas and the ability to express them" Friedman declares Russian interference with the U.S. election "an act of war." I'm very glad it's Tillerson, and not Friedman, who may become Secretary of State.
The irony is that Jason really, really isn't one of us. He doesn't want to secure the existence of our people and a future for white children. He is not even a fellow traveler; he is just a LARPer who thinks he is a zoroastrian Magi, who likes to watch anime and jerking off to Heidegger books, like so many 'intellectuals" here.
BTW, Heidegger was not a Nationalsocialist. Yes, he was a card carrying party member, but he fucked Arendt, what kind of Nationalsocialist have sex with jews?
I have never understood what “Neo” is supposed to mean in the context of “NeoNazi”, other than an evocation of Hollywood depictions of “skin head” militiamen. A National Socialist is a National Socialist. Martin Heidegger, the greatest philosopher of the 20th century, was a National Socialist. I am not one, even if I have argued, rightly (in my October Stockholm speech), that National Socialist Germany was the only political regime to seriously consider the implications of mainstream scientific recognition and widespread cultivation of those latent human capacities hitherto marginalized as “paranormal.” To put my relationship to National Socialism in the language of the Left, since most of my accusers fancy themselves of that political persuasion, to call me a National Socialist is like calling someone a Stalinist simply because he is a Marxist. A Trotskyite would certainly be defamed by such an epithet, and would be rightly outraged to be subjected to that kind of slander. I am not any kind of nationalist.
Some important distinctions here: Jorjani stands to Nazism as Trotsky stands to Stalinism. The latter two both self-identify as Marxists, of course, but disagree about implementation of the revolution. So, too, the former two are both pan-Aryan racists and authoritaraians, but disagree about...well, apparently "nationalism." Onward:
It makes no more sense to equate my views with those of Richard Spencer (let alone Adolf Hitler) simply because he patted me on the back on stage for a minute than it does to claim that Barack Obama is a Wahhabi responsible for all of Saudi Arabia’s routinely inhuman barbarity because he knelt and kissed the Saudi King’s hand or sheepishly accepted a medal from him.
...but in a world with lots of blogs run by people with varying levels of knowledge, sometimes stupidity finds an audience, and innocents need to be warned. The only thing that Babette Babich knows less about than the Continental traditions in post-Kantian European philosophy is what is going on in Anglophone "analytic" philosophy, but on neither topic is she an informed or reliable commentator. As one commenter correctly remarked:
I think you do the Continental Philosophy tradition a serious disservice by raising this (to my mind very important) topic in the context of a rant by Babich and one of her acolytes. She’s well known to try to discredit speakers at Continental Philosophy conferences by insulting them on Twitter (sometimes with the retort that they are secretly “Analytic”, and sometimes with more mundane insults). She’s barely taken seriously by Continental Philosophers anymore, except for a small die-hard crop of apologists who are thankfully diminishing in numbers fast.
And another patient commenter, Jonathan Mitchell, responds effectively on the "merits" of this intellectual muddle:
As someone who writes on Nietzsche I find much of what Babich has to say quite poorly motivated (for reasons I will explain below). But first I want to start by quoting Babich’s definition of ‘continental philosophy’:
The question the interviewer sets up is this:
“CC If, as I am suggesting, logical argumentation is at the heart of the analytic methods, can you express the essence of the continental practices in philosophy?”
“BB: Continental philosophy includes a historical sense, a sense of historical context which it does not name ‘the history of philosophy.’ If Heidegger writes about Anaximander he is not reflecting on philosophy’s history as if this were a thing once done, passé, whereas we now, today, do some other sort of thing when we ‘do’ philosophy. At the same time the continental tradition also emphasizes everything that has to do with context, with interpretation, as a difference that makes all the difference.”
For starters, there is no obvious reason why one can’t study philosophy with a ‘historical sense’, where this involves paying due attention to historical context, and at the same time be involved in ‘logical argumentation’, if by the later one is taken to mean providing reasons, arguments and evidence for the claims one makes (especially, but not least, claims of exegesis). The two would only seem mutually exclusive if one had an incredibly narrow understanding of what ‘logical argumentation’ amounted to (i.e. equivalent to applying the most abstract of formal logical methods which is not the trend in Nietzsche studies!).
While sometimes unavoidable, anonymity in online posts should be used judiciously.
In what possible sense is anonymity "sometimes unavoidable"? One can either post using one's name or not. And what constitutes "judicious" usage of anonymity? Surely, for example, a blog like Feminist Philosophers with many pseudonymous posters operating for years under their pseudonyms--e.g., "Philodaria," "Monkey," "Magical Ersatz," "Lady Day," "Prof Manners"--are not using anonymity "judiciously" but continuously, effectively shielding themselves from being accountable for what they write. And such anonymity is clearly avoidable, as others (for example, the philosophers Anne Jacobson and Jennifer Saul) post under their own names at the very same blog.
You know we're falling through the looking-glass when the "blowhard and buffoon" Alan Dershowitz (as one of my liberal, Jewish and very pro-Israel colleagues called him) is cautioning people to be cautious about charges of anti-Semitism. This is a good takedown of Dershowitz's nonsense. All that said, I'm sure that if Bannon is an anti-Semite, he's kept it well under wraps, given the influence of Trump's son-in-law, an orthodox Jew. Bannon is a much bigger threat to Muslims in America than to Jews.
DeNiro remarked (with remarkable New York restraint) that Trump is a "mutt," a "dog," who should be "punched in the face." Please watch around 21:00 this video about the effect of Trump's rhetoric on human beings (here children). "Mutts" deserve a lot better than Trump.
(Thanks to Daniel Buk for pointer to the video, which is worth watching in its entirety.)
...plus pathetic sexist tripe, but it also has its own resident raving anti-Semite, one "Jacques," whom no other contributor to that blog appears to have criticized for his insane bigotry. Some quotes from comments he's posted on that sorry blog:
Since the time of Marx through the many Bolshevik mass murderers like Kaganovich through to the present era of “whiteness studies” (i.e., anti-white-gentile studies) rammed with ethnocentric anti-white Jews, there is no group of people on earth who have been more venomously effective in the propagation of anti-Christian bigotry than leftist Jews. No group is more privileged or powerful or tribalistic...Jews enabled the Moors to take Spain. Jews traded in Christian slaves in huge numbers through the middle ages. Jewish wealth funded the rabidly Christophobic Bolsheviks. The Talmud tells us Christ is in hell boiling in excrement. All major Jewish organizations righteously demand that we flood Christian lands with unvetted limitless numbers of Muslims while making no similar demands on Israel.
Is it anti-semitic to believe on solid evidence the true proposition that...“leftist Jews” have been vastly over-represented among haters, oppressors and mass murderers of Christians, and in anti-Christian anti-European movements, and notably under-represented in the defense of the interests of Christians and non-Jewish Europeans
That the blog let this stuff stand defies belief. RightlyConsidered is operating at about the level of Breitbart, though trending towards StormFront! If right-wing philosophers want to be taken seriously, this blog is not the way to do it! But if they simply want to have their own cyber-circle of self-congratulation plus unabashed sexism and racism, then they're doing a great job!
Rob Hughes, a young moral, political and legal philosopher teaching in the Wharton School at the University of Pennslyvania, writes:
Having read Richard Swinburne's recent argument about the ethics of homosexuality, both the version he published in 2007/2008 and the version he presented in his talk at the SCP meeting, I can confirm your belief that his argument is awful. There is no need to discuss Swinburne's dubious moral premises. The argument clearly fails because it relies on a false and unjustified empirical assertion. Here it is, in Swinburne's own words (from the text of his recent talk posted on First Things, pp. 12-13):
"The evidence seems to me to indicate clearly that genes and environment (nature and nurture) both play a role in determining sexual orientation; and also that this orientation is sometimes to a considerable extent reversible. So if there was a general recognition in society of an obligation to abstain from homosexual acts, that would prevent homosexual behaviour being presented as an option for young people of equal value to the heterosexual one which makes possible procreative marriage. That would deter the young from wondering whether they are really homosexual when previously it would not have occurred to them, in consequence experimenting with homosexual sexual acts, getting accustomed to such behaviour and so developing a homosexual orientation."
Swinburne asserts here that sexual experimentation in adolescence or adulthood influences people's sexual orientation. This assertion is not an off-hand remark; it is crucial to his argument that God has a reason to prohibit homosexual conduct. (Swinburne does not think that natural law prohibits homosexual conduct; indeed, he nicely dispatches this view in one sentence on p. 8.) Swinburne's assertion is at odds with the evidence that a person's future sexual orientation is determined before school age and possibly much earlier. He provides no evidence for his assertion that sexual experimentation influences orientation, either in his 2007 book Revelation, or in his 2008 reply to critics, or in the text of his recent talk.
Swinburne claims to have provided evidence that adults can change their sexual orientation, but to call his evidence shoddy would be too generous. His 2007 book cited a study purporting to show that some people had changed their sexual orientation through "reparative therapy." The study's author, Robert Spitzer, retracted the study in 2012 and said that its methodology had a "fatal flaw." Swinburne's recent SCP talk acknowledges this retraction. The talk instead cites Michelle Wolkomir's 2006 book Be Not Deceived as evidence that "the sexual orientation of some, but perhaps not most, homosexuals can be changed to a significant degree." (19) The book is an ethnographic study of two small groups of gay and "ex-gay" Christians and their self-understanding. Treating this study as evidence that people can change their sexual orientation is a mistake for the same reason Spitzer's study was flawed: we have no way to establish that subjects who reported changed sexual desires were sincere and not deceiving themselves. The large number of ex-ex-gays gives us reason to suspect that people are either insincere or deceiving themselves if they claim to have altered their sexual orientations (including their desires as well as their behavior).
Several months ago, I learned, via the Chair of the Philosophy Department at British Columbia, that my old pal Carrie Jenkins had received an "offensive" package, and that the return address consisted in a mangled version of my Law School's address and a pseudonym attributed to me by a law blogger who had championed the idea that "law school is a scam" and whom I had mercilessly criticized for years (a short and sweet explanation of the whole background is here). That was weird, but I didn't think much of it, and no information about the "offensive" content was shared.
Then, in late August, David Velleman wrote to me as follows:
> A few people have received packages of excrement from someone using your law-school address and a name widely [sic] believed to be your pseudonym. I assume it can't be you -- which means that someone is trying to embarrass you. I don't know if there's anything you can do about it, but I thought you would want to know. Some of the recipients have reported the packages to the police.
Continental Philosophy Farhang Erfani, a philosopher at American University, provides a useful set of links to news, events, interviews, reviews, videos, etc. related to "Continental philosophy" (broadly construed)