Few comments on the material -- I did the sentence that refers to the US as a country of broad shoulders, and decided that the poem, or most of it, belonged in the article. As a nation, our mojo kinda sorta is on vacation; I think that Trump's election depended in large part on a lot of people showing off their pencil necked geek. Chicago was a great image of America, a country with flaws but broad shoulders. Trump's triumph requires that a part of us give up and just slump our shoulders and demand our American version of Dostoyevsky's Inquisitor. It's ok to be depressed, but damn it, you need to go out shoulders back, head high and be aggressively depressed. Or something.
Dylan number is from his 88 tour of Australia with a little known band from Gainesville as his backup....Tad Putty and the Heartburners? Something like that. Looks like he's playing a Dean acoustic guitar which strikes me as odd.
New Vets setup limits the amount of music I can post. As I was finishing up, I realized I wanted to add this, mainly for the first verse --
Same old tune/fiddle and guitars/ where do we take it from here?
Rhinestone boots /big shiney cars/ it's been the same way for Years
We need a change...
Somebody told me when I got to Nashville
Son you really got it made
Old Hank made it here and we're all sure that you will
But I don't think Hank done it this a-way
I don't think Hank done it this way?
If old Hank did it this way, it would sound like Chuck Prophet.
There’s recently been a revival of an argument that goes back to the 18th century: that the form of government prescribed by the Constitution gives more representation to rural than to urban people, and to people from relatively sparsely-populated states than to people from populous ones. The clinching demonstrations of this are the composition of the Senate and, less extremely, the electoral college. Now, everyone takes the position on this matter that would help their own side get elected. Nevertheless, the question does show something fundamental about the nature of political representation.
The political reasons for the phenomenon are familiar from your history textbook: the US originates as an alliance among independent states. The less populous states were concerned that their voices and interests would be drowned out or swamped by those of Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New York; they had to be cajoled into the nation. Similar assurances about representation were required, for example, by smaller nations in constituting the European Union, and the United Nations pays lip service at least to a principle of equal sovereignty among nation-states, not representation in proportion to population. It had to start there if it expected smaller nations to join.
Most of us do not, any longer, think of the US as an alliance of independent nations; we consider the United States a single political unit in some sense. Under that presumption, and as an abstract matter in democratic political theory (which is liable to start with a principle of equal representation or one person/one vote), it is hard to argue that the 600,000 or so people of Wyoming should have the same representation in the Senate as Florida’s 20,000,000.
But whatever the theoretical and practical drawbacks of the system as it stands, it also shows some of the real complexities and some of the possibilities for beauty or profundity that lurk within the practices of political representation. The neutral, abstract scheme of one person/one vote yields a kind of minimalist or hyper-simplified picture, but the concrete practices of political representation on the ground are variegated, swirling, showing many relations of human beings to one another and to other bits or dimensions of the world.
In almost any real democratic system, the space or geography of the nation is represented to some extent as well as its human population. This is striking, in that it suggests that, in representative politics, the physical configuration of a country as well as its people is the subject represented: what the picture is a picture of, as a portrait represents the person who sat for it or a still-life painting a bowl of fruit. A democracy in some sense represents the place in which it is located as well as people it encompasses as citizens. In addition to being a portrait of the people, that is, a representative system is a sort of landscape painting or topographical map of the terrain it operates within.
The spaces that Florida and Wyoming occupy in the Senate chamber correlates better to their relative physical size than to their relative population, and in general the Senate comes closer than the House, for example, to resembling the sweep of the nation across the vast central plains and mountain west that has been central to the national narrative. Obviously, this doesn’t work so well for Delaware, but the point is that the different principles on which different branches and levels of government are selected ends up yielding a remarkably complex depiction of a nation.
Any representative democracy and indeed almost any political system is obliged to represent geographies as well as populations. Geography, after all, accounts to some extent for the distribution of populations in the first place. But any political situation or system of any size coordinates smaller units: provinces, counties, townships, and so on, and reflects to some extent the physical environment it occupies.
Indeed, when we think about America, we do not think of it only, or even primarily, as a group of people, but as a physical terrain (purple mountains and fruited planes, sea to shining sea, and so on). We might think of it, as well, in terms of located sub-cultures: Latino culture in southern Texas, peoples meeting in New Orleans at the mouth of Mississippi, Appalachia, and a hundred others. The principle of one person/one vote irrigates all the deserts, flattens all the mountains, and bridges all the rivers, but even the attempt to apply the principle with perfect neutrality ends up connecting to the highly differentiated landscape and acknowledging the connections of the people to it.
Every political system represents the space it occupies as well as the people occupying that space, and represents them as inseparable. We may want to ameliorate specific political inequalities that this generates, but I think it is more something we should try to become conscious of and even celebrate than something we should seek to expunge.
Crispin Sartwell teaches philosophy at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. His most recent book is Entanglements: A System of Philosophy (SUNY 2017).
I'm still trying to destroy the left-right spectrum, and I'm going to do a three-part series: Why I Am Not a Leftist, Why I'm Not on the Right, and Why I'm an Anarchist, and what that means in this case. I really do think that a wretched mistake lurks at the heart of the left, starting with Marx, an unconscionable and utterly implausible detachment of means and ends.
it's true! i'm in the wall street journal today. i think people have failed to see something pretty glaring about analyzing politics, or prosecuting it, primarily through demographic categories. namely, that the thing is incoherent. incoherent, i tell you.
I rejoice that horses and steers have to be broken before they can be made the slaves of men, and that men themselves have some wild oats still left to sow before they become submissive members of society. Undoubtedly, all men are not equally fit subjects for civilization; and because the majority, like dogs and sheep, are tame by inherited disposition, this is no reason why the others should have their natures broken that they may be reduced to the same level. Men are in the main alike, but they were made several in order that they might be various.
Good farmers are learning that there is a better way to treat their cattle than by blows. The hostler of intelligence and kindness, is ceasing to maul his noble horse. They are leaving off the practice of breaking steers and colts, for the reason that it is cruel: undeserved by the horse and unworthy of the employer, and because a whole horse or ox is better than a broken one. Political action is unfit even for brute animals. Is it fitter for man? Is humanity less susceptible of moral influences than what we call brutality? A politician is but a man driver, a human teamster. His business is to control men by the whip and the goad. His occupation would be unlawful and inexpedient toward even the cattle.
New post. Gratuitous although relevant Doors music. Shakespeare. List of Russian Movies on Afghanistan. General Character assassination of Trump, although there's really not that much to assassinate. Call for Jesus to Smite Mike Pence. Normal Wednesday here in Wolf Country.
alright, i'm going to tell you, guiltily, what i like about trump, why i keep returning to a seemingly sympathetic tone, or why i sometimes 'relate,' though i utterly reject his politics. on the charlottesville weekend, i wrote this on saturday. (on saturday a counter-demonstrator was killed by a white supremacist, trump gave a lame reaction or a 'both sides do it' sort of thing. then on monday he said exactly what everyone demanded he say. then on tuesday he went off, in the disastrous way that finally convinced me that he actually is sympathetic to white supremacism.)
through my life, i have done a lot of saying what i was not supposed to say, from the slightly continually inappropriate to the in-your-face transgression. i have calmed down a lot through the years, actually, but i definitely have an impulse, in any given situation, to feel for the verboten position, word, line of jive, and then find a way to deliver it, perhaps with a slant that makes it a bit hard to interpret. when i feel that people are telling me what to say, i have a vivid physical sensation of constraint; i might comply for awhile; ultimately it won't go well. the peeceer the people around me, for example, the more i talk wrong, or work on ways to undermine the constriction.
this impulse, i feel, has stood me in good stead many a time, and if you ever want a counter-consensus position, i am the wholesale outlet. it's led me to important moral insights, i believe, including that the political state is completely incompatible with any decent ethics whatsoever. but it will also tempt me toward the dark side, toward, for example, the views that are the opposite of the pc views. but that they're not pc, of course, does not entail that they are not evil, and so on. i sort of sometimes end up on the wrong side even by my own lights.
trump has that same set-up, which is more or less why i connect with him. whatever his views on race, etc, his very being was rebelling at the notion that everyone was writing a script for him, that they didn't care what he thought as long as he said a pre-rehearsed set of words that anyone could write in their sleep. that press conference tuesday was his whole being just saying 'fuck you'; he was chomping at the bit; he had the sensation of a release from physical constraint, of selfhood and self-respect and defiance. but he also expressed considerable sympathy with fucking neo-nazis, alright? you cannot have that in a pres of the united states, however he got there.
sorry about slow blogging. i'm not missing everything, however, in this wild and woolly period. real-time political commentary has basically moved to my weekly column on the world's liveliest website, splicetoday (today: political idolatry and iconoclasm, on confederate memorials and such) and my twitter feed @crispinsartwell. i'll be back on the blog too, i expect.
as you know, i've come up with a simple solution for cultural appropriation: just avoid the words or aesthetic products of minority and oppressed groups. (or it would be simple, if figuring who belongs to what groups were simple). now i propose to address the scourge of micro-aggressions. the hard part of dealing with micro-aggressions from the point of view of straight white guy is that they're unconscious; we don't even know we're doing it. that certainly is going to make it hard to stop. we can start stopping by becoming self-conscious and stilted in all conversations with gay people, black people, latino people, women and otherwise gendered people - in short almost everyone. but it's not enough. the obvious solution is simply not to address such people at all unless absolutely necessary, and then in a few clipped words. with other people who identify as straight white men, i will be my bold, free-wheeling self; i say what i think, and laugh heartily and make mistakes, etc. i will greet everyone else with completely emotionally neutral silence. if absolutely necessary, a few extremely polite words at most, with an extremely curtailed repertoire of gestures. this of course will prevent me from knowing them at all, or they me, or from participating in any sort of community that is not a community of white straight men. ah, but who cares, you know? i'm more comfortable with white guys anyway. i just want to stop oppressing people.
perhaps donny's greatest accomplishment is revealing by provocation the bizarre, contradictory, and above all subservient ways that his opponents think about politics. check this showcase of fallacies, contradictions, and fantasies by the emotionally shattered yet sneeringly superior lawrence o'donnell.
first of all, he repeatedly uses the word 'we' to refer to donald trump; that is, he over and over again identifies donald trump as the american people, and includes himself in donald trump himself. that donald trump diddles around about climate change means that we do: it means to lawrence o'donnell that lawrence o'donnell himself is a climate change denier. that donald doesn't hold certain truths to be evident means that we don't, that o'donnell himself does not. we have a collective consciousness, and his name is trump, and that is on the account of his opponents. in other words, lawrence o'donnell is a nationalist who holds that we are all one person together, and that person is the president of the united states. that position is obviously dangerous gobbledygook, and yet he is also congratulating himself throughout on his own superior intelligence. just track the reference of 'we' through the monologue to see the bizarre, subservient belief system that leaves him in this condition of enraged bewilderment.
i challenge you or o'donnell to run through that monologue and draw from it a plausible or non-disastrous account of what o'donnell thinks trump is, and what he thinks he himself is.
then there is the material on 'truth' and the concept of 'self-evidence.' no, you doink, that carbon emissions cause climate change is not self-evident in the sense that the declaration of independence says that human equality is, even if the evidence is overwhelming. no assertion of science or truth produced by it is self-evident in this sense, or else research would not be necessary. no, 'the truth of barack obama's birth certificate' is not self-evident. that donald trump denies p or expresses doubt about it, or that 38% of americans do, does not in any way affect the truth or falsity of p. truth is not what 'we' 'collectively' believe, and what 'we' 'collectively' believe is not what out leaders say; nothing should be more obvious, and you know it very well: you've disagreed with your political opponents about matters of fact throughout your life, and you don't believe it if you don't take it to be true. your sort of reality melts away as soon as anyone dissents. let's say that 'reality' and 'truth' are matters of consensus. then there has never been any such thing as reality or truth. i know you think you can produce one by 'education,' by which you mean relentless indoctrination. have fun trying, i guess?
so it's on to 'we are so much better educated than they are,' just sheer grotesque elitism, to which his own tissue of fallacies and incoherences give the lie. whomever educated lawrence o'donnell, they destroyed the basic reasoning abilities with which he was born.
really, what i want to say, however, is that the notion that the president of the united states is all of us, or indeed any of us but himself, is a fantastical and wildly dangerous superstition, completely impossible to give a rational account of, and a mere expression of enthusiastic self-subordination. it's incessant though. one of my favorite columnists, kathleen parker, gives a version of it. she is embarrassed by the behavior of her nation (for the first time?) imagine barack obama wrestling a fox logo! oh i don't know, so what? donald trump is no more part of me or i part of him than i am part of genghis khan or kim kardashian or that philedendron over in the corner, alright?
if this whole thing has the effect of showing each person that they are not a nation or are not the government of the united states, that can't hurt. these folks really do imagine themselves as little faces who all together constitute the leviathan; together we are the president etc. show some pride, show some sense, etc. you're embarrassed simply because you are enthusiastically subordinated and now are so confused.
[once more i am going to show you that you do not believe that social consensus has any relation to what is real or what is true. thought experiment: by extreme indoctrination or chemical intervention or psycho-surgery, the fossil fuel industry produces complete unanimity on the claim that the planet is not warming at all, but growing colder. does that keep the ice caps intact, on your view?]
people who have freaked on trump for ragging mika apparently haven't noticed that she, like many others in the msm, has been hurling brutal but unimaginative and profoundly repetitive personal insults at trump for many months. (that's my splce column this week.) they have become what they purport to repudiate, except they aren't terribly good at it. here's cnn's ana navarro: “Listen, you crazy, lunatic, 70-year-old man-baby, stop it. You are now the president of the United States, the commander-in-chief, and you need to stop acting like a mean girl, because we just won’t take it.” that's part of her call for a return to civility. i'd be firing back too. cnn gets body-slammed, then 'just keeps doing our job,' half of which is actually reporting, the other half just a string of personal attacks on the man's sanity and so on. also, as the navarro shows, or mika's obsession with hand size, the attacks are relentlessly feminizing, showing that their emitters do regard it as degrading to be female. i'm surprised they haven't started in on 'he's so gay,' or tried racial slurs.
in their attempts to grapple with trump, they have become trump, without the flair or competence in ridicule. but even ana navarro or mika brzezinski are responsible for the things they themselves say. the defense will be the tried and true and infantile 'he started it.' p.s. that wwe vid is pretty darn funny. come back with little hands again, i guess, if that's all you've got.
after my stint in re-education camp - for which i am really grateful to my jailers - i have come to realize that cultural appropriation is worse than evil: it is inappropriate. now i see that my cornrows were straight-up racial violence, like a hail of bullets or a thorough batoning. my forced, televised confession was completely sincere, and i have made an important resolution. from now on, everything i do will be pure white, white as a diaper, caucasian as a motherfucker (wait did i get that from hip hop)? because of my anti-racism, and from right now until my impending decline into dementia, it's going to be all white all the time: white clothes, white slang, white gestures, white hairstyle, white values, white neighborhood, white music, white walk (i am so so sorry about the pimpstrut), and so on. man, it is going to be all calvin klein, golf, lawrence welk, and dick-cheney-style politics from now on. i will not permit anything even vaguely black, brown, yellow, red, or chartreuse to enter into my behavioral repertoire or my geographical area in any way whatever, because that is what is really hurting black folks. if you will join with us in our collective program for white purity, together we will overcome this nightmare of racial oppression.
here's what people mean when they start howling that we're in a post-truth era, reality is melting, etc. people like us (='the elites') have lost epistemic control over the peasants' minds. well they never had it, really, but they definitely believe that they should have control over what you believe. why it's a crisis now is because some of the people whose minds they've lost control of are now exercising political power. it's your little academic/bureaucratic/technocratic world, extreme in its self-love. the question of how to fix it, stop the conspiracy theories, quiet kellyanne down, etc is the same question as the question of how we can can reassert control over your beliefs and hence your behavior. well, it's going to be all 'gatekeepers': censorship, silencing of views divergent to whatever we seem to believe at the moment. 'what can we do about post-truth?' = 'how can we silence our opponents?' one of the most breathtaking things about the whole approach is that, though nothing could be more obvious than what they're doing and why, they have no idea about themselves that they are the sort of people who want to silence and disqualify people.
Whatever Trump did or did not say to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador, the reaction right now is bizarre and out of all proportion. Many have said that 'if true' it has 'put American lives at risk.' I'm afraid I'm going to need to see a plausible scenario. One theory is that it will 'acclerate' isis's laptop-bomb program. That is just nonsense, and they publicly announced the threat and took security measures in March. If that didn't accelerate them..
And compromising a source in Turkey or on the battlefield is not the same as having an immediate battlefield or terror-threat-type effect. The people in the intel community and in the media who are talking this way need to calm down and report the facts, alright? They are making almost no definite assertions. They are also hinting at the completely incoherent theory that the Russians will leak back into isis, who will execute the source, let's say. As you try to look at any specific scenario, pay attention to the question of who you've got allied with whom, because the sort of thing they're saying makes no specific sense; they're just creating an amorphous cloud of emergency.
just showed this video to my 'anarchist theory' class.
I might call the position 'anarcho-statism.' He envisions a full-scale liberal welfare state, a wild expansion of it, in fact. He wants "a bigger cage' until we break free of all cages. First he says that we are being victimized by 'state-supported capitalists and corporations,' then he presents the state as the solution to the bad effects of capitalism, what's protecting us. He might as well be FDR, okay? Then he says 'there is no contradiction,' which is just silly. By his own terms, increasing the power and resources of the state and people's dependence on it will also in the long run consolidate the power of capital.
One reason for this, I would say, is that he's much more socially affiliated with leftism than with anarchism per se, and so many of his allies are the biggest statists in the universe: socialists, Marxists, etc. But Chomsky's anti-statism is merely verbal, a distant ideal against which he's working in the present as he tries to market his bigger cage.
Many self-professed anarchists, David Graeber for example, have versions of this. Work it out, y'all, one way or the other!
so, roughly, we have an east german form of government: government by secret police. it needs its own 'ocracy.'
this is true even though it's also true that the trump/russia connection is disturbing and probably disqualifying. at any rate: the fsb surveiled and leaked the clinton campaign to death. the nsa surveiled the trump campaign and is leaking them to death. not exactly a democracy.
The UK is at least as diverse a nation as we are, with many similar problems, and we share a surprising number of anal-retentive characteristics. The Brits voted for BREXIT with less than half the electorate showing up and a lot of votes in favor of it just because they were pissed off at the seeming inability of government to cope and rather than blame it on themselves for electing the Tory wankers, they decided to blame the EU as the representative of all their woes.
The message of protest is often intrinsic or hidden. It has to be quietly subversive because our enemies are among us: our rulers and bosses
We, of course, had less than half the electorate show up and of that, less than half voted for Donald Trump. Our food, beer and dental work is superior; they have better schools for the most part and a functioning national health service, except they've shown in it and the other aspects of community life that if you want to have nice things as a nation, you need to spend the necessary money. Trump shares little with Margaret Thatcher except greed and basic deep-seated meanness.