Saturday, January 26, 2002
Now I know that's not what Putnam really thinks, but it is more or less what he's saying and he's not the only one. What critics of the "decadent" (or whatever) nineties need to remember is that even though they (and I) think politics, etc. is interesting all the time, not everyone needs to agree with us.
Most people are only interested in public affairs when something's going wrong. The rest of the time they want to concentrate on their private pursuits, and when they do focus on politics it's only in order to get politicians to get things back in order so that they can go back to their private lives.
Is that really so wrong.
We Jews do ourselves a disservice if we cry "anti-semite!" with the same stridency at a liberal commentator who criticises the Israeli army's disproportionate response to terrorist outrages, and at a National Front lout who asserts that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a genuine documentwhile ignoring the fact that the most recent cries of "anti-semite" were in response to a ludicrously anti-semitic New Statesman cover story alleging that a "kosher conspiracy" has been silencing British critics of Israel.
And where are the conservative human-rights activists of today, who may not have been old enough to be held responsible for their position on Dr. King when he was alive? Making cracks about "affirmative action," without ever having taken on the racism that gave rise to it. Slandering the 60’s as nothing but Marxists and hippies in a disengenous refusal to see that the defining aspect of the 60’s in American history was the civil-rights movement–because to admit that would force them to face the shameful history of conservative cowardice, hypocrisy and often outright racism in the 60’s.It's something to think about in these heady days of leftist bashing.
After all, thanks to Cornel's antics, his leaving for Princeton is now front page news in the New York Times which went so far as to bill him a "star" Otherwise, I think the best he could have hoped for was the front page of the Crimson. All this virtually guarantees that my beloved Harvard Independent will be breaking it's informal policy of not covering the comings and goings of the faculty?
So should we join Judis in panicking? Perhaps. The article's worth reading and the race is worth paying attention to, but I think that this sort of analysis underestimates the ability of long-term pols to shift according to the winds.
If much of Stoiberism sounds outdated, that's only because he's been around a long time. Look at some other European survivors -- like Jacques Chirac and Lionel Jospin in France -- and you'll see that what makes them survivors is their ability to adopt new policies to meet new conditions and never seem out of date.
philosophically underpinned the free market, anti-welfarism of the approaching Reagan-Thatcher era. This seems wrong to me. The fundamental tenet of Reaganism, as a public political platform at least, was much more the Milton Friedman line that deregulation and lower taxes would lead to more growth and hence improve the condition of the poor. This was mixed in with a good deal of "neoconservative" concern for the moral state of the poor, welfare's effect on the family, etc.
There's an important difference between these two different arguments for reducing the size of government and I think that it would do those of us (like me and the Guardian) to distinguish between the two. The empirical claim that a freer market will make things better needs to be tested and, where true, embraced. The Nozickian argument, however, should simply be refuted.
More interesting to me then seeking a correct understanding of what should be done is the question of why Rupert Murdoch's rightwing papers in the UK have played such a large role in fanning the flames of the current controversy. Their shocking conduct -- it was the Daily Mail, after all, not the Guardian that ran TORTURED as a headline -- can't be explained as typical Euro-antiamericanism since those publications are traditionally staunch defenders of the US and unceasingly hostile to Europe.
Friday, January 25, 2002
The implications of "Anarchy, State, and Utopia" are strongly libertarian and proved comforting to the right, which was grateful for what it embraced as philosophical justification. Christopher Lehman Haupts New York Times obituary for the great Robert Nozick (a mentor of mine). Justification for what? The implication here is that conservatives are just greedy, bad people and that Nozick gave them some patina of philosophical justification for their selfishness.If Nozick were really a mentor of Sullivan's, shouldn't he know what "justification" means in terms of philosophy? For a political program to have a "justification" is for it to be correct. Nozick's book, allegedly, justifies libertarianism. Similarly, his antagonist John Rawls' Theory of Justice provides justification for redistributive taxation provided that empirical data supports the idea that such taxation would benefit the worst-off members of society.
Thursday, January 24, 2002
I also fantasize about Walker becoming a character on Oz. Imagine if Verne and his boys got hold of him. The black Muslims wouldn't take him as one of their own. He'd be shish kebab in no time.Love that Oz. I'm no so certain as to what Verne would do, the far right's reaction to the current war has been similar in many ways to that of the far left. American neo-nazis sort of admire the Taliban's hardcore traditionalism.
His loss will probably be felt in the libertarian-heavy blogging community, but people should know that although he never published any further works on political philosophy that at the time of his death he no longer held the views of Anarchy, State, and Utopia feeling that there were some "Burkean considerations" pushing him more in the direction of a traditional conservativism. He still remained deeply attached to the instrumental arguments of Friedman and Hayek, however, despite having backed down from some of his own rights claims.
The best thing that can probably be said is just to quote these words from department chair Christine Korsgaard:
[Nozick was] a brilliant and fearless thinker, very fast on his feet in discussion, and apparently interested in everything. Both in his teaching and in his writing, he did not stay within the confines of any traditional field, but rather followed his interests into many areas of philosophy. His works throw light on a broad range of philosophical issues, and on their connection with other disciplines. The courage with which he faced the last years of illness, and the irrepressible energy with which he continued to work, made a very deep impression on all of us.On a less serious note, this raises two questions: Who's going to grade my paper and who's going to inherit his university professorship?
I say, hold your horses and focus on al-Qaida outliers in Somalia, etc. Then bring some pressure on less deadly, but still dangerous, Sunni fundamentalists (Saudi Arabia, et al), and then maybe Iraq. We should still be trying to ally with the Ayatollahs. The enemy of my enemy...
His practice of seeming constantly irrelevant and ill-informed gives him a bad name among the press corps, but allows him to do his job of shielding his boss and his boss's policy people from tough questions very effectively. People (Marshall included) have started passing things off as Fleischer's responsibility rather than attributing them to the administration as a whole.
The great strength of the Bush network of family and loyalists is that Dubya, unlike Bill Clinton, is surrounding by a group of people who are more than happy to make themselves look like idiots for his sake.
Could the European intelligentsia really be so far gone that even a man who has been tortured can't recognize the difference between torture and normal prison conditions?
Wednesday, January 23, 2002
Consider this: Some things are more important than low oil prices. The rights of women matter. Secular education is important. Governments should not be underlined by religious ideologies. These sound like liberal themes to me. Unfortunately, for too many bloggers the only right-left issues are the war and income tax rates and they associate the term "liberal" with the rantings of marginalized (and/or foreign) intellectuals. Liberalism also stands for things like secularism and rational government that can easily make the case for a crack down on the House of Saud.
Tuesday, January 22, 2002
And do you know what we learned out of all that? The great changes are not made here in the legislative chambers or in the judicial halls. The great changes in this world are made in the hearts and minds of men and women. Attitudes are so important. I think that this holiday for Martin Luther King will give us an annual opportunity to recommit ourselves to the proposition that all men are created equal.Sounds like a holiday worth having to me.
I tend to agree, however, with the Economist's line on this question which is that a good first step would be to make more effective use of our foreign aid payments by ending requirements that they only be used to purchase American goods or services (which is really an industry subsidy and not foreign aid). We could also stop giving so damn much of it to ungrateful basketcases like Egypt.
Monday, January 21, 2002
Then again, how surprising would it be for a "distinguished" academic to take a pro-bin Laden position. Everything is good -- even Islamic fundamentalism -- as long as its neither capitalism nor Israel.
HMO reform is a good example of socioeconomic bias. Journalists, as journalists, do not have any reason to be sympathetic to insurance companies. They have every reason, however, to want their health care to be better. So they sympathize with efforts to regulate HMOs more closely without giving much thought to the plight of the uninsured who could actually use help and simply dismiss as propaganda the idea that marginal patients will lose coverage.
Washington likes fights and polarization and opposition.But he has a better way. First stack the bioethics commission with a faux-diverse group of anti-technology zealots and then assign them anti-science fiction books for reading.
Sullivan's response to Daniel Goldhagen's lengthy and detailed article on anti-semitism and the Catholic Church was also, I should note, cursory and hysterical at the same time.
Sunday, January 20, 2002
ISN’T IT RICH?: Frank Rich asks many tough, pertinent questions about Enron today. “Then again, who in either party hasn't cashed an Enron check?” he demands. Good point, Frank. Asked your fellow columnist Paul Krugman about that? “Whom can the country turn to for an honest investigation?” Rich asks. Another excellent point, Frank. Certainly not the economics columnist for the New York Times who never disclosed his own $50,000 Enron lucre in his own column until it was reported by others. Then there’s Rich’s peroration: “Enron has arisen like the ghost of over-the-top Christmases past, as a jolting throwback to the untethered America of the dot-com bubble. The greed of its perpetrators, and of the enabling politicians of both parties who took their cut before the wipeout, looks even uglier against the stark backdrop of those less well-connected Americans who are fighting our war.” Couldn’t have put it better myself. $50,000 is up to two years’ salary for some of our troops. Rich’s fellow columnist pocketed it for what he concedes was doing nothing but burnishing Enron’s image. And now he asks us to take him seriously when he lambastes Enron cronyism?What is the relevance of any of this to Rich's column? Does Sullivan really think that there's a vast liberal conspiracy centered around the New York Times op-ed page to defraud America and hand the nation over to bin Laden? What's the big deal anyway? If he's just forcing himself to muster a lot of fraudulent outrage in order to try and eliminate Krugman then that sounds like abuse of blog to me.
I'd be concerned about claims that revealed we'd been killing people when some other course of action could have saved those lives and still accomplished our goals. As long as the killing is necessary, though, I'm all for it. Easy for me to say, I suppose....
Why would a piece about Enron and the CIA be in the Metro Section? You'll have to ask the Times why they bury their most interesting columnist there. I hate to say it, but I'd guess that the answer has more than a bit to do with liberal bias.