Tag Archives: progressivism

What would Benedict Anderson say?

First, there’s the European Court of Justice, the so-called Supreme Court of the EU. Of the 37 members listed on its site, six studied and/or taught in the United States. That’s 16%, including the president of the court. We count four Harvard degrees and a Harvard visiting scholar. Two Fulbright scholars. Several more studied at Cambridge or Oxford, and I would say nearly half studied outside of their country of origin. President of the Court Koen Lenaerts was a Fulbright scholar, and has an LLB from Harvard, as well as a Master of Public Administration from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government – the gold standard signifier for a true-blue USG man. The ECJ was established in 1952.

Then there’s the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany, established in 1951. Of the 16 members of this court, five studied and/or taught in the United States. That’s 31% of the country’s Supreme Court. Do we notice Harvard JFK fingerprints here? Of course! JFK, Harvard Law, Yale, University of Michigan – a number of the usual suspects are implicated.

The Constitutional Court of Austria, in contrast, does not have a single sitting friend or alumnae [sic] of Harvard or Yale. Not one out of 14 members. The president of this court studied in Graz and Salzburg, not even making it to Vienna, the old cosmopolitan imperial capital. We note three instances of foreign influence: New York University, the College d’Europe in Belgium, and the University of Limerick in Ireland. A grand total of 7% who studied or taught in the United States, less than half of the ECJ and less than a quarter of Germany’s supreme court. The one infringement is NYU, not JFK or Yale Law, which might make the one infringement a Trump-tier heresy.



The Ford Foundation New Voices Fellowship

The Ford Foundation was a deep state front in the ’50s and ’60s. What is it up to now? Well, it has something called the ‘New Voices Fellowship’. Here are a few Ford Foundation New Voices Fellows.

1. Christine Ahn (@christineahn), a pro-North Korea propagandist:

Ahn has long led a group called the “Korea Solidarity Committee,” or KSC, which describes itself as “a group of progressive Korean American activists, students and artists” in the San Francisco Bay Area, who were inspired by “a desire to debunk the racist portrayals of North Korea, and present a more critical perspective on the continuing North Korean nuclear crisis.” I don’t know if Ahn calls herself a Communist or not, but she is on sisterly terms with Judith LeBlanc, a former Vice-Chair of the Communist Party, USA, a legacy Stalinist rump faction led for years by Gus Hall. …

Ahn opposed human rights legislation for North Korea that funded broadcasting to North Korea, and that provided for aid and asylum for North Korean refugees, calling it an effort “by hawkish conservatives and Christian fundamentalists with the intention of bringing regime change in North Korea.” (As if that would be a bad thing.) …

On at least two separate occasions, Ahn has referred to North Korea’s “alleged” sinking of the ROKS Cheonan, an attack that killed 44 South Korean sailors, despite the findings of an international investigation team that a North Korean submarine torpedoed the ship. This was almost certainly a nod to a conspiracy industry that grew up in left-wing South Korean circles that were in denial after the attack. If Ahn has ever acknowledged North Korea’s responsibility for the attack, I can’t find where she ever has. (Update: In this tweet, Ahn expressed support for conspiracy theories denying North Korea’s responsibility for the attack.) …

Ahn decries “the assumption that the famine in North Korea was a result of Chief of State Kim Jong Il’s mismanagement of the country,” and assails “attributing the cause of North Korea’s famine to an ‘evil dictator.’” Ahn blames the famine on a combination of the collapse of the U.S.S.R., “droughts and floods that . . . destroyed much of the harvest,” and “economic sanctions led by the U.S. and its refusal to end the 50-year Korean War.” Ahn never acknowledges that throughout much of the famine, the U.S. was the largest donor to food aid programs in North Korea, or that North Korean authorities diverted much of the aid and manipulated aid workers into distributing it on the basis of political caste, rather than humanitarian need. As for the droughts and floods, those have struck North Korea for 25 consecutive years now, hardly ever crossing the DMZ and never causing a famine in South Korea. For some reason.

Whether there is still famine in North Korea on a smaller scale or not, many people there are still malnourished, and the World Food Program is still appealing for aid. In a 2010 op-ed, Ahn again blamed American sanctions, which at the time were narrowly targeted at North Korean entities linked to proliferation, for restricting Pyongyang’s “ability to purchase the materials it needs to meet the basic food, healthcare, sanitation and educational needs of its people.” Yet according to the economist Marcus Noland, North Korea’s food gap “could be closed for something on the order of $8 million to $19 million — less than two-tenths of one percent of national income or one percent of the military budget.”

Meanwhile, under Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s (known) annual spending on luxury goods has skyrocketed to over $600 million a year.

2. Purvi Shah (@leftinmiami)

Purvi Shah is the Bertha Justice Institute Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights. As the Director of CCR’s new training institute, her work focuses on deepening the theory and practice of movement lawyering across the United States and the world. Through the Institute, Purvi supports lawyers at every stage in their careers – as students, emerging lawyers, and senior lawyers – to both develop a deeper understanding of the connections between law and social change and to gain the practical skills and expertise to be effective advocates. Purvi’s current projects include designing CCR’s internship and post-graduate fellowship programs, including the Ella Baker Program; publishing educational resources and training materials on the theory and practice of movement lawyering; designing and facilitating national and international conferences, trainings, and CLEs; and building national and international networks to increase collaboration, innovation, and strategic thinking within the progressive legal sector. Most recent, she co-founded the Ferguson Legal Defense Committee—a national network of lawyers working to support the Ferguson movement and the growing national #BlackLivesMatter movement. Prior to coming to the Center for Constitutional Rights, Purvi spent a decade working as a litigator, law professor, and community organizer. At the Community Justice Project at Florida Legal Services – a project she co-founded and started – she litigated on behalf of taxi drivers, tenants, public housing residents, and immigrants in a variety of class actions and affirmative damages litigation. She was an adjunct clinical professor at the University of Miami School of Law, where she co-founded the Community Lawyering Clinic. She graduated from Northwestern University and the Berkeley School of Law at the University of California. Her honors and awards include the Ford Foundation’s New Voices Fellowship, the ACLU of Florida Rodney Thaxton Award for Racial Justice, and the Miami Foundation’s 2009 Miami Fellowship. Her work has been featured on MSNBC and in The Nation.

In September 2015, Shah gave a talk at Harvard:

Come hear Purvi Shah, Director, Bertha Justice Institute, Center for Constitutional Rights, discuss movement lawyering, why lawyers matter and what students can do to support the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Co-sponsored with BLSA, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, Criminal Justice Program of Study, Research and Advocacy, Systemic Justice Project, Criminal Justice Institute, Law and Social Change Program of Study, Students for Inclusion, and Lambda. Non-pizza lunch will be provided.

Purvi Shah is the Bertha Justice Institute Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights. As the Director of CCR’s new training institute, her work focuses on deepening the theory and practice of movement lawyering across the United States and the world. Through the Institute, Purvi supports lawyers at every stage in their careers – as students, emerging lawyers, and senior lawyers – to both develop a deeper understanding of the connections between law and social change and to gain the practical skills and expertise to be effective advocates. Purvi’s current projects include designing CCR’s internship and post-graduate fellowship programs, including the Ella Baker Program; publishing educational resources and training materials on the theory and practice of movement lawyering; designing and facilitating national and international conferences, trainings, and CLEs; and building national and international networks to increase collaboration, innovation, and strategic thinking within the progressive legal sector. Most recent, she co-founded the Ferguson Legal Defense Committee—a national network of lawyers working to support the Ferguson movement and the growing national #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Prior to coming to the Center for Constitutional Rights, Purvi spent a decade working as a litigator, law professor, and community organizer. At the Community Justice Project at Florida Legal Services – a project she co-founded and started – she litigated on behalf of taxi drivers, tenants, public housing residents, and immigrants in a variety of class actions and affirmative damages litigation. She was an adjunct clinical professor at the University of Miami School of Law, where she co-founded the Community Lawyering Clinic. She graduated from Northwestern University and the Berkeley School of Law at the University of California. Her honors and awards include the Ford Foundation’s New Voices Fellowship, the ACLU of Florida Rodney Thaxton Award for Racial Justice, and the Miami Foundation’s 2009 Miami Fellowship. Her work has been featured on MSNBC and in The Nation.

3. Christopher Punongbayan, executive director of the San Francisco pressure group Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, former ‘advocacy director’ of Filipinos For Affirmative Action, and (apparently) certified yoga instructor

Instead of hoops and hurdles, what the 12 million undocumented people living in the United States need are fair reforms that recognize the positive contributions millions of immigrants — undocumented or otherwise — have on the United States.

Legalization must be offered equally to immigrants across the board. Employer sanctions, which make it illegal for undocumented immigrants to hold gainful employment, need to be eliminated. And criminalization of immigrants and heavy-handed enforcement measures must be rejected.

When Congress returns from recess, it must get back to work and resolve this debate by passing a legalization program that upholds the rights of all.

Christopher Punongbayan is advocacy director at Filipinos For Affirmative Action, and a current Ford Foundation New Voices Fellow. He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

4. Sushma Sheth (@sushmachete)

Sushma Sheth MBA MPA is a manager with Accenture Strategy focused on organizational and talent challenges facing the private and social sectors. Her clients include pharmaceutical firms, consumer product companies, multilateral organizations, and government agencies across the Unites States, Europe, and Latin America. She recently co-authored the publication, “Are you the weakest link? Strengthening you talent supply chain”.

Outside management consulting, Sushma partners with social justice organizations addressing challenges of the evolving digital global economy.  She serves as Organizing Ventures Advisor to New Virginia Majority, representing small business owners, low-wage workers, and immigrant families in Northern Virginia. Sushma also serves as Advisor to Fair Care Labs, the innovation arm of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.  The lab recently launched the Good Work Code, eight values for good work in the online economy featured in Fast Company and CNN Money.

Sushma served on the teaching team for Exercising Leadership: The Politics of Change with Professor Ron Heifetz in 2011 as well as joined Kim Leary PhD MPA and Professor Heifetz for the White House Youth Leadership and Policy Hackathon in the summer of 2015.

Originally from Miami, Florida, Sushma is the first-born daughter of Indian immigrants and grocery store owners. Prior to graduate study, Sushma co-founded the Miami Workers Center and served as Director of Programs from 2001-2008. She was named Miami’s 25 Power Women in 2005, Ford Foundation New Voices Fellow in 2002, Miami Foundation Fellow in 2007, and recipient of Robert Thaxton ACLU Award for Racial Justice in 2008. Sushma holds a MBA from Kellogg School of Management and MPA from Harvard Kennedy School as a Paul and Daisy Soros New American Fellow and Harvard Center for Public Leadership Emerging Leader Dubin Fellow. She earned her BA in Community Development Studies from Brown University in 2001.

You’ve got to wonder about an MBA at Accenture Strategy who puts this much effort into posturing as a Maoist.

5. Debanuj DasGupta

Debanuj DasGupta is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and the South Asia Studies Initiative at the Ohio State University. His research interests are broadly related to the intensification of neoliberalism and bio-politics in contemporary United States and India. Debanuj’s dissertation is titled “Racial Regulations and Queer Claims to Livable Lives.” His dissertation analyzes immigration regulation related to HIV/AIDS, transgender asylum, and the formation of racialized queer migrant subjectivity within the past two decades in the US. Debanuj maintains a strong secondary research interest in the relationships between Hindutva, neoliberalism, and sexuality politics in India. He currently holds a Graduate Administrative Associate position with the Morrill Scholars Program at the Office of Diversity Inclusion. In this capacity Debanuj is responsible for creating social-justice related academic enrichment programs for the largest diversity leadership program in the country. He is actively engaged in university governance and serves as the Chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee for the Council of Graduate Students. Debanuj is the graduate student representative on the University Senate Diversity Committee.

He has worked for over 16 years across two continents in the “civil society sector.” In 1994 Debanuj founded the first HIV prevention program for men-who-have-sex-with-men in Kolkata, India. His work in the US has largely been within the environmental rights, sexual rights and immigrant rights movements. Debanuj has received numerous grants, awards and fellowships notably the Association of American Geographers T.J.Reynolds Award for Disability Studies (2013 & 2012), The Space, Sexualities, and Queer Research Group of the Royal Geographic Society-Institute of British Geographers Scholarship towards attending RGS-IBG ( 2012), Arts & Humanities Graduate Research Small Grant from the Ohio State University (2011), Ford Foundation / Academy for Educational Development funded New Voices Fellowship (2006), The British Department for International Development-West Bengal Sexual Health Project Multi-Year Award (1995-1998), Graduate Research Fellowships from the University of Akron (1996-1998), and The International AIDS Society Fellowships for Emerging Activists (1996). Debanuj holds a B.A. in Sociology (HONS) from Presidency College, Kolkata (now the Presidency Autonomous University), and an MA in Geography & Urban Planning from the University of Akron, OH. Debanuj’s work has been published in the Disability Studies Quarterly, Contemporary South Asia, the Scholar & Feminist Online, South Asian Magazine for Action and Reflection (SAMAR), make/shift, and the WhiteCrane Journal.

Areas of Expertise:
* Global Philanthropy
* Transnational Feminist & Sexuality Studies
* Race & Queer theory
* Space and Subjectivity
* Women of Color Philosophers
* South Asian Languages and Literature
* Activism and the Academy


Here’s his academia.edu profile. His shtick is something about “queering immigration”.



Marcuse on the student movement

Malinovich: In a debate with Raymond Aron in the New Statesman, somewhere around 1971, you said that a radical transformation of values is taking place before your eyes. And you were speaking about an overcoming of aggressive, repressive values. Would you still take that strong a position?
Marcuse: Yes, more than ever before. I insist that a better society, or socialist society, would be qualitatively different from all preceding and present social systems.
Malinovich: But would you agree with the idea that in the late sixties and early seventies the students had really attained a kind of new consciousness?
Marcuse: Yes, and not only the students. Also women and racial and national minorities, also part of the intelligentsia as a whole.
Malinovich: My feeling was that you were not just speaking of a political consciousness but that you were speaking of a change in the psychological—
Marcuse: A change in the entire mental structure. If you want, you can go back and quote it in Freudian terms—an ascent of Eros in the struggle with aggressiveness and destructiveness.
Malinovich: Do you still feel now that that change was a deep one, that it was more than a superficial change?
Marcuse: Yes, I do. It was on a very deep level, but did not come to adequate realization as a political movement.
Malinovich: If that’s still your feeling, then how do you explain that the student movement has kind of fizzled out? Recent Gallup polls indicate that students are much more conservative.
Marcuse: I would consider this a temporary relapse. The situation may very well change with a worsening of economic conditions.
Malinovich: How would you explain the fact that it came to an end?
Marcuse: There are many reasons. First, the end of the war in Vietnam, and the end of the draft. Secondly, the stabilization of the capitalist system.
Malinovich: What do you mean by that?
Marcuse: Economically as well as politically a turn to the right, and with that an intensification of repression.
Malinovich: Do you have some specific thing in mind when you speak of intensification of repression? Something like Kent State?
Marcuse: In this country still in a constitutional and democratic way we have no such thing as a Berufsverbot. However, I think it is an understatement to say that a Marxist scholar will find it very difficult to get a job or even a promotion.
Malinovich: Could you say something about what your hopes were for the student movement back in the sixties? At that time what seemed to you to be the possibilities for the movement? For example, in a lecture in Germany you said: “I see the possibilitiy of an effective revolutionary force only in the combination of what is going on in the Third World with the explosive forces in the centers of the highly developed world.” Did you in the sixties have hope that somehow the student movement in conjunction with the Third World or the ghetto population could conceivably have led to a real revolution?
Marcuse: Not in this country. The situation was different in France. It was not in itself in this country a revolutionary movement, but one of the catalyst groups which for the first time articulated this transformation of needs and values, with such slogans as “the new sensibility”, for example.
Malinovich: When you talk about the new sensibility are you saying that, while the students today are more politically conservative or less politically involved, they are still in some psychological sense on a more advanced level than students before the sixties?
Marcuse? Again, it is not so much a psychological question as the changing needs and aspirations, and a skepticism concerning all the competitive needs and values of the capitalist system, and the insistence on the right of sensibility, a sensuousness—that the emancipation of these from the established alienation is a decisive element in the struggle for a better society. This kind of change is still there. Its political expression is largely repressed, but it is certainly there, and not only among the students.
Malinovich: You talked about the workers.
Marcuse: And strata of the dependent bourgeoisie.
Malinovich: So what you said about France is at least as true about the United States?
Marcuse: Not everything I say there about France would apply to the United States. You cannot say that it was a revolutionary movement here; in France it may well have been, and in Italy too.
Malinovich: So even in the sixties you never believed that the U.S. student movement was a revolutionary movement, but would it be correct to say that you felt it would be a step in the right direction, a consciousness-raising experience?
Marcuse: Even more, I would say the expression of a qualitatively different struggle and qualitatively different aims.


Ça ira, ça ira, ça ira

Stop the presses! Josh Barro (NYC; B.A., psychology, Harvard) has an opinion.

Josh Barro (son of Robert Barro, Ph.D., economics, Harvard) has some more opinions.

Josh Barro gets paid to put his opinions in print. Jay Yarow (NYC; M.A., journalism, NYU) likes Josh Barro’s opinions.

So does Matty Glesias (DC; B.A., philosophy, Harvard).

Josh, Jay, and Matty, of course, are some of the most ‘privileged’ people in America. They’re very highly educated, you see. Josh has a little piece of paper that says “Harvard” on it, and that little piece of paper assures him that he will never be cast out among the poors, the middle Americans, the 2 Broke Girls viewers. But, you see, he earned it, by being the son of a Harvard man. A legacy. An aristocrat.

Have you ever met a minor aristocrat?

A minor aristocrat, that is, not someone like Donald Trump. Donald Trump is not a minor aristocrat. Donald Trump has serious money, and his father had serious money before him. No one with that much money needs to be insecure—and Donald Trump is not. His aesthetic is kitschy. His hair is kitschy. And he owns Mar-a-Lago, which was built by the richest woman in the United States. Donald Trump is an aristocrat—he’s good at making people forget it, but he is an aristocrat—but he’s secure in his position.

Josh Barro, on the other hand, is a snot-nosed kid who went to Harvard. What does he have? A piece of paper and a journalism gig. Is Josh Barro, who couldn’t tell Montana from Mongolia, a particularly talented journalist? Could he, in a double-blind test, outcompete the poors, the yokels, the disgusting average people of gross, inferior white America? If Josh Barro were hit by a truck, his bizarrely large ears and bilious guts splattered into a million giblets across the pavement of his coastal gated community, his blood separated from his veins and dripped into the sewers to ever so slightly increase the concentration of cocaine in the local water supply, would anyone care? No. Josh Barro, the minor aristocrat, is replaceable. He is privileged, but he is still insecure.

If you ever meet a minor aristocrat, insecurity will be the most obvious thing about him. It’s stamped on their round, Charlie Brown-like skulls in bright flashing letters. But they have their excuses. The minor aristocrat doesn’t shop at Walmart—not because it’s ‘low-class’; he opposes their labor practices, so he buys from Amazon instead. The minor aristocrat despises the white working class—not because he knows he might someday lose his privilege; he knows their hate is holding America back, so he says they’re all inferior, maybe even subhuman. The minor aristocrat invents an ever-expanding set of shibboleths and calls anyone who doesn’t master them Satanic (sorry, “fascist”)—not because he wants to distinguish himself from the yokels, but because justice demands it. And his shibboleths are bundled up as progressivism, socialism, Marxism, whatever sort of egalitarianism, and taught in private schools and prestigious colleges, so that only the privileged can learn them. As for Donald Trump—he’s not secure; he’s just a prole. The minor aristocrats are on top of the world.

If you ever meet a minor aristocrat, get him drunk, or at least angry. Wait for him to start fantasizing about rounding up the Republicans and slaughtering them, burning down the South with everyone in it, herding Christians into gas chambers. I’ve met my share of that lot, and they usually do. Sometimes they don’t bother trying to hide it. Brian Leiter, a disgraced law professor who once tried to insult me by calling me a “DMCA violator”, has repeatedly compared conservatives to the Taliban, labeled them “brain-dead”“disgusting”, and “bits of slime”, and calledtwice!—for their mass imprisonment. And then there’s Josh Barro. This isn’t your garden-variety performative internet bile; I’ve heard some minor aristocrats take even worse lines in real life. The worst ones are the most assured and the least secure—the second-generation Harvard graduates so sure that they’re part of the ‘elite’ and the first-generation Brahmin converts from flyover states, who fantasize about things like—and I am not making this up—holding banjo burnings to ‘protest racism’ or refusing to eat fried chicken because it’s associated with the South, and what would The Left think?

Leiter recently quoted the postmodernist professor Richard Rorty’s 1997 prediction that the “old industrialized democracies” would have a new Weimar period:

Members of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. …

At that point, something will crack. The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for—someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots. …

All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet.

“Badly educated” is an interesting phrase, especially in this context: it contrasts with “college graduates”. To Rorty, these are the two opposing sides of a binary. The “badly educated”, i.e. the bad, are people who aren’t college graduates. Graduating from college is a spiritual transformation: the student is born again in the Spirit of Education, and transformed into a graduate—who is increasingly the only sort of person deemed worthy of even a job. And “education” is something one is socialized into: the student’s spiritual transformation is brought about by spending four years in a separate environment controlled by the Highly Enlightened, the most Spiritually Transformed of them all; and going to lots of lectures (sermons) and studying lots of books—especially the favored canon (holy texts, although the word “canon” itself originally meant “Church law”)—often while sleep-deprived (suggestible), and often getting drunk (becoming more suggestible) or using drugs (becoming more suggestible) in the off-hours; and, in exchange for access to these separate environments controlled by the Highly Enlightened, giving them lots and lots of money.

If we apply the usual tools of materialist analysis, we find that, since the Highly Enlightened exert influence over their students, and since the students pay the Highly Enlightened lots and lots of money to attend their cult compounds universities, the Highly Enlightened have a strong incentive to justify their position ideologically (by, for example, setting up a binary opposition between the virtuous “college graduates” and the unvirtuous “badly educated”) and materially (by turning their certificates of Spiritual Transformation into certificates of ideological ability to hold a job), and that this incentive is shared by the elite, who have the money and the connections to get themselves and their children into the most Spiritually Transforming cult compounds universities of all, and especially by the bankers, who provide loans (which are undischargeable and which minors can legally sign for) to seekers of Spiritual Transformation.

Strangely, this point seems to go unmade in academia. Even Freddie deBoer thinks ‘free’ college is a reasonable economic-leftist position. Presumably, one is to question everything except the institutions telling you to question everything…

But we could always question the idea that an education is something you get by sitting in a room in college, that a degree is a mark of Spiritual Transformation that ought to be required of everyone who wants a job, and that minor aristocrats like Josh and Jay and Matty are #important #thinkfluencers, not nervous snot-nosed manchildren pushing the interests of their class as hard as they can in the desperate hope that they can hold onto their position.

“That was disgusting! Osama is a freedom fighter!”

i was on campus a couple of days after 9.11, and i had already recorded a spot for all things considered. they were looking for someone who would express any sort of anger, could not find one among their staff or usual contributors, i gather. i had been talking to my (now-deceased) brother jim, who was an unbelievable cynic, raconteur, and artist of the hyperbole. ‘i want to fly over the middle east and see nothing but piles of smoking rubble.’ i started there. you know, i too want vengeance. in fact this distinction between justice and vengeance is complete jive, just a way of pretending you don’t want revenge, or collectivizing responsibility, effectively offloading it from everyone entirely. i had three minutes, years of argument behind it. then i said: but even if it is legitimate to take vengeance, you are morally obliged to take your vengeance only precisely on the perpetrators. no burning rubble, my brother, without osama & co inside it. only them.

next day, robert merrill (a senior colleague), confronted me in the hall and said “that was disgusting!” the next words out his mouth were ‘osama is a freedom fighter!’ i felt a marked cooling toward me and rallying around him after that.

then for whatever political reason, they put my job to a national search. i did ‘six names of beauty’ as the talk, just or soon-to-published by routledge. anyway, it defines beauty’ as ‘the object of longing.’ then i put up my childhood crush emma peel. then i went on to buntings and roses and the universe as a whole. a lit prof, soheila ghaussy, hopped up and started saying my whole thing was just (paraphrasing) coming from the dick, and weren’t millennia of oppression enough? they hired someone else, who did not work out at all.

oh, and then there’s this, where i posted a miranda lambert song to my blog, which led to academics calling in the police and academics firing me. finally water-boarded to death!

what i have found over and over again is that teaching, research, and service are irrelevant in an academic career (research, for sure). the only real criterion of advancement is conformity. that’s why you have all these mediocrities at the very upper reaches: mere careerists. that’s why the senior level of the profession now is lilliputian compared to the last cohort.


Here is one of Robert Merrill’s syllabi.

NPR: Musical dysmorphic disorder

Men who play music may be engaging in practicing behavior to the point that it’s harming their emotional or physiological health, according to a recent study.

The preliminary study, presented Thursday at the American Psychological Association’s annual convention, recruited 195 men ages 18 to 65 who played music at least twice a week and regularly engaged in practicing behavior.

Participants answered questions about their practicing behavior use as well as their self-esteem, mental image, musical habits and gender roles.

“These men want to be conventionally talented, and it makes sense that [practicing behaviors] are what they’re using or abusing,” says Richard Achiro, lead author of the study and a registered psychological assistant at a private practice in Los Angeles.

Forty percent of participants, who were all men, increased their practicing use over time, while 22 percent were replacing regular activities with practicing behaviors. Eight percent of participants had signs of bodily stress due to practicing behavior, and 3 percent reported injuries caused directly by it.

Men who used practicing behaviors inappropriately also were more likely to have behaviors associated with mental disorders.

Achiro is no stranger to the culture of practicing behaviors. His interest was piqued when he noticed throughout college and graduate school how common it was for his male friends to go to practice rooms to use musical instruments.

“It became more and more ubiquitous,” Achiro says. “Guys around my age who I knew — I’d go to their apartment and see some kind of guitar.”

Not to mention that this has become a multibillion-dollar industry that’s grown exponentially in the recent decade or so, he adds. …

One big factor behind practicing behavior use is dissatisfaction, the study found. The men internalize a particular set of cultural standards of talent usually depicted by the media: “like Yngwie Malmsteen,” says Achiro. And they’re unhappy that they don’t meet that ideal.

But the study also found that the men using practicing were more likely to feel gender role conflict, which Achiro explained as underlying insecurity about one’s masculinity.

“This isn’t just about the music,” Achiro says, “What this is really about is what the music represents for these men. It seems that the findings in part [show] this is a way of compensating for their insecurity or low self-esteem.” …

“Someone with anorexia will feel they need to continue to get thinner and lose weight. With musicians, they act in the same kind of manner. They acknowledge that they’re skilled, but are obsessed with certain techniques that they find inadequate. This drive for talent preoccupies them. Practicing behaviors serve them the same way diet products serve someone with an eating disorder,” Cohn says.

For people affected by musical dysmorphic disorders, this constant and compulsive behavior takes over their lives — they are constantly skill-checking and can be unhappy, dissatisfied, or have low self-esteem.

“Think about bands on the high school and college level. Lots of these guys are encouraged by teachers and trainers to take these behaviors,” says Cohn. “This isn’t thought of as a negative behavior but can have negative consequences.”

The silver lining, Achiro points out, is that 29 percent of study participants knew that they had a problem of overusing practicing. But they might not be aware of possible underlying psychological factors.

“Guys think using practicing behaviors is healthy, [they’re] convinced it’s good for them, [it’s] giving them all kinds of skill they wouldn’t be getting otherwise,” says Cohn. “[This is] ignorance about what proper skill is.”

It’s also not unusual for people diagnosed with musical dysmorphic disorder or its characteristics to also have a high incidence of depression, anxiety and alcoholism, Cohn adds.

Although the research is preliminary and has yet to be peer-reviewed, Achiro hopes his research puts the issue on the map and encourages researchers to replicate his work.

“This is just the very beginning. There’re still tons to look at,” he says.

You heard it here first, folks. Wanting to get better at something is a sign of disordered thinking, low self-esteem, and insecurity about masculinity. And if an angel ever gives you a choice between being Haydn and being an immortal oyster, pick the oyster.

The original article is here.

Twentieth-century Americanism

Scene: Eugene Dennis (Frank Waldron), a Communist activist, is arrested during a protest and brought to trial.

Of the many arrested March 6, seventeen went on trial in April and for eleven days Judge Bogue, in a state of bewilderment, kept muttering from his bench, “Incredible! Absolutely astonishing!”

American Civil Liberties Union attorney Leo Gallagher, a deceptively mild-looking, grey-haired, wiry fighter, exploded the first shock for the startled Judge when he challenged the entire jury panel. Gallagher charged the defendants would have a better trial if the Commissioner would “stop passers-by on the street and take them into court for jury service”.

The Judge spluttered at Gene and Party organizer Carl Sklar who were acting as their own attorneys:

“You can’t make Communist speeches to prospective jurors. You can’t tell them there are different standards of law for the rich and the poor.”

On any given day now some fifty people were either in jail, in court, or beaten by police on the outside. Physical and legal self defense became simultaneous weapons of the local unionization and unemployed struggles. A delegated conference of local organizations set up a “general self defense organization” whose purpose was “the physical protection and defense of all militant struggles, organizations and demonstrations of the working class, to protect them from the reactionary attacks of the fascists and the state apparatus.”

On the legal front the International Labor Defense conducted orientation sessions throughout the city enabling arrested workers to defend themselves in court. Frank Spector, Southern California head of that organization, and one of the seventeen before Judge Bogue, told the court:

“When the laws are against the interests of the working class and the courts are essentially an instrument in the hands of the employer class, we advise workers that the laws be violated and the court decisions be ignored.”

In its summation, the prosecution intimidated the jury: “If you will not convict them, then you will show that you too are against our government.”

Gene told them:

“A verdict of guilty will mean you approve the exploitation of the working class by the capitalist government. It will mean you approve police brutality and that you agree with Police Commissioner Thorpe that we ought to be deported. But even if you put us in jail now, you can’t break our Movement. Hundreds, thousands of others will take our place and carry on the struggle until this system will be abolished and the dictatorship of the proletariat, as in the Soviet Union, will be established.”

Our comrades in the courtroom were no less startled than was Judge Bogue and the reporters to hear Gene tell the jury:

“It is because I love my country and the American people from which I spring that I fight today and will always fight in the interest of the people. It is our country, it is our Bill of Rights, it is our American way of life that you would betray here today.”

Peggy Dennis, The Autobiography of an American Communist: A Personal View of a Political Life 1925-1975.

The result:

The grand jury indicted seventeen T.U.U.L. [Trade Union Unity League] and [Communist Party activists on “conspiracy to foment revolution during the cantaloupe season”. This was later changed to the more stylized charge, “suspicion of criminal syndicalism” involving charges to overthrow the government on a number of separate counts that could total 42 years in prison for each defendant. Of the seventeen, fourteen were arrested, but the police could not find [Frank] Spector, [Carl] Sklar, and Gene. They had disappeared from sight after leaving the courtroom that April 14.

Spector, Sklar, and Gene “hid in friendly strangers’ homes, moving every few days to a new place. They stayed in contact with activity and decision-making processes through complicated courier systems. We were all waiting for a higher Party decision in New York as to whether they should or should not surrender to the Valley arrest warrants.” The Party voted to have Spector and Sklar surrender; Eugene Dennis remained a fugitive, under the alias “Tim Ryan”, and the Party eventually decided to have him flee to Moscow. His wife Peggy joined him there later with their son, although she had to fight her Party organizer, a new arrival from New York, to be allowed to do so: the organizer said, “We cannot handle this request routinely. We would be guilty of rank male chauvinism if we agreed to transfer this leading young woman comrade merely so she may join her husband.” About this, she wrote:

I had some heavy thinking to do. I was uncomfortable with my Party organizer’s defense of me as a leading woman comrade. The more I hassled with the feeling that something was wrong, the more I disliked the context in which the question had been placed. I felt like I was being subjected, with praise, to a subtle male chauvinism which rejected the possibility that a woman can be a wife and leading activist. Under the guise of upholding my rights, I was being told I had to choose between being a housewife at the beck and call of her man or becoming the classic version of an unencumbered male. … All I knew was that I wanted to join him. The framework for my activity would have to be found within that context, always.

Her parents disapproved.

Nothing ever changes: Comstockery for communists

Boston had a very different reputation before the ’60s:

Boston was founded by the censorious Puritans in the early 17th century. Boston’s second major wave of immigrants, Irish Catholics, began arriving in the 1820s and also held conservative moral beliefs, particularly regarding sex.[2] The phrase “banned in Boston”, however, originated in the late 19th century at a time when American“moral crusader” Anthony Comstock began a campaign to suppress vice.[3] He found widespread support in Boston, particularly among socially-prominent and influential officials.[2][3] Comstock was also known as the proponent of the Comstock Act, which prevented “obscene” materials from being delivered by the U.S. mail.[4]

Following Comstock’s lead, Boston’s city officials took it upon themselves to ban anything that they found to be salacious, inappropriate, or offensive. Aiding them in their efforts was a group of private citizens, the Boston Watch and Ward Society.[2] Theatrical shows were run out of town, books were confiscated, and motion pictures were prevented from being shown; sometimes movies were stopped mid-showing, after an official had “seen enough”. In 1935, for example, during the opening performance of Clifford Odets‘ play Waiting for Lefty four cast members were placed under arrest.[2]

And what did the international community think? When George Bernard Shaw was asked what he thought of his books being removed from library shelves in New York, the next city down on the Corridor from Boston, here’s how he replied:

Nobody outside of America is likely to be in the least surprised; Comstockery is the world’s standing joke at the expense of the United States. Europe likes to hear of such things. It confirms the deep-seated conviction of the Old World that America is a provincial place, a second-rate country-town civilization after all.

Personally I do not take the matter so lightly. American civilization is enormously interesting and important to me, if only as a colossal social experiment, and I shall make no pretense of treating a public and official insult from the American people with indifference.

It is true I shall not suffer either in reputation or pocket. Everybody knows I know better than your public library officials what is proper for people to read whether they are young or old. Everybody also knows that if I had the misfortune to be a citizen of the United States I should probably have my property confiscated by some postal official and be myself imprisoned as a writer of ‘obscene’ literature.

But as I live in a comparatively free country and my word goes further than that of mere officialdom, these things do not matter. What does matter is that this incident is only a symptom of what is really a moral horror both in America and elsewhere, and that is the secret and intense resolve of the petty domesticity of the world to tolerate no criticism and suffer no invasion.


Because I have been striving all my public life to awaken public conscience to this, while Comstock has been examining and destroying ninety-three tons of  indecent postcards, it is concluded that I am a corrupt blackguard and Comstock’s mind is in such a condition of crystal purity that any American who reads, sees, writes, or says anything of which he disapproves or which he is ‘doggoned if he understands’ must be put in prison.

Well, far be it from me to question the right of American to manage its affairs its own way. Every country has the Government it deserves, and I presume Comstock couldn’t govern America without America’s consent. He will not lack supporters.

I cannot fight Comstock with the American Nation at his back and the New York police in his van. Neither can Daly. I have advised Daly to run no risks.When this news reached me I had already cabled both Daly and my agent, Miss Marbury, to countermand the performance, because I think New York has had enough of me for one season. Now I am bound to leave Daly free to accept the challenge and throw himself on the good-sense of people who want to have the traffic in women stopped instead of driven underground for its better protection.

He is young and bold; I am elderly and thoroughly intimidated by my knowledge of the appalling weight of stupidity and prejudice, of the unavowed money interest, direct or indirect, in the exploitation of womanhood, which lies behind his opponent. I cannot save Daly. If these forces are too strong for his supporters, I am afraid he will be uncomfortable in prison. But I also have a presentment that Comstock will not be quite comfortable out of it.

When a man begins to value himself, not on the number of decent postcards he puts in circulation, but on the number of indecent ones he throws out of it, he is on the high road to a condition of mania in which he is apt to seize every postcard he sees and declare it indecent. An Indian who counts the scalps he has torn from his enemies is under heavy temptation to get up quarrels with his friends in order to have an excuse for scalping them.

Comstock’s reputation grows with every blackguard he imprisons. A man in that position generally ends by seizing respectable citizens by the collar, raising the cry of blackguardism against them, and throwing them into prison.

For Comstock’s part, here’s what he thought of Shaw:

“Shaw?” said Mr Comstock reflectively, “I never heard of him in my life. Never saw one of his books, so he can’t be much.” The reporter had in his pocket a copy of The New York Times in which appeared the letter written by Mr Shaw, the author and playwright, after he had learned that his books had been removed from the ‘open shelves’ in the New York Free Libraries. This order of removal Mr Shaw characterized as a piece of “American Comstockery.” The reporter submitted the letter, and Mr Comstock read it carefully.

“Everybody knows,” wrote Mr Shaw, “that I know better than your public library officials what is proper for people to read, whether they are young or old.” When Mr Comstock read that, he literally grew pale with indignation. “Did you ever see such egotism?” he commented angrily. “I had nothing to do with removing this Irish smut dealer’s books from the public library shelves, but I will take a hand in the matter now.” …

“This very morning,” said Mr Comstock, “I confiscated for destruction 23,600 pictures and had the man convicted in the Special Sessions. Last week I confiscated 100,000 such pictures from a German in Brooklyn. For a third of a century I have battled in the ranks of the society with which I have the honor to be affiliated — battled for the morality of the young people of this country. I have done work in Canada, in Paris, in London, and in most of the civilized countries of the world. The society has made over 23,000 arrests; it has destroyed 98 tons of unfit matter.

It matters little if the literary style is of a high order if the subject matter is bad. I had a man convicted who was printing and selling pictures of paintings hung in the Paris Salon and in the art hall at our Centennial Exposition. The only question is, Can this book or picture or play hurt any one morally, even the weak? All else is of minor consequence.”

The Comstocks of our day are, like Mr. Hundred Thousand Pictures himself, interested in choking off a new platform for the dissemination of information — all for the good of the weak, of course — but that’s not all they want. The communist slogan is not “no platform for fascism”, but “no platform for fascists”. Not only should Shaw’s books be banned — so should Shaw himself. #指鹿為馬

This Comstock heads his blog with a quote from Emma Goldman:

Not so very long ago I attended a meeting addressed by Anthony Comstock, who has for forty years been the guardian of American morals. A more incoherent, ignorant ramble I have never heard from any platform.

The question that presented itself to me, listening to the commonplace, bigoted talk of the man, was, how could anyone so limited and unintelligent wield the power of censor and dictator over a supposedly democratic nation? True, Comstock has the law to back him. Forty years ago, when Puritanism was even more rampant than to-day, completely shutting out the light of reason and progress, Comstock succeeded, through shady machination and political wire pulling, to introduce a bill which gave him complete control over the Post Office Department — a control which has proved disastrous to the freedom of the press, as well as the right of privacy of the American citizen.

Since then, Comstock has broken into the private chambers of people, has confiscated personal correspondence, as well as works of art, and has established a system of espionage and graft which would put Russia to shame. Yet the law does not explain the power of Anthony Comstock. There is something else, more terrible than the law. It is the narrow puritanic spirit, as represented in the sterile minds of the Young-Men-and-Old-Maid’s Christian Union, Temperance Union, Sabbath Union, Purity League, etc. A spirit which is absolutely blind to the simplest manifestations of life; hence stands for stagnation and decay. As in anti-bellum days, these old fossils lament the terrible immorality of our time. Science, art, literature, the drama, are at the mercy of bigoted censorship and legal procedure, with the result that America, with all her boastful claims to progress and liberty is still steeped in the densest provincialism.

The smallest dominion in Europe can boast of an art free from the fetters of morality, an art that has the courage to portray the great social problems of our time. With the sharp edge of critical analysis, it cuts into every social ulcer, every wrong, demanding fundamental changes and the transvaluation of accepted values. Satire, wit, humor, as well as the most intensely serious modes of expression, are being employed to lay bare our conventional social and moral lies. In America we would seek in vain for such a medium, since even the attempt at it is made impossible by the rigid régime, by the moral dictator and his clique.

Your fave is problematic, Klabnik. And Urbit is banned in Boston^WSt. Louis.

This movement had several consequences. One was that Boston, a cultural center since its founding, was perceived as less sophisticated than many cities without stringent censorship practices.[2] Another was that the phrase “banned in Boston” became associated, in the popular mind, with something lurid, sexy, and naughty. Commercial distributors were often pleased when their works were banned in Boston—it gave them more appeal elsewhere.[2]

American Ghazali

So, like, there’s this place called Russia, right? And they’ve got this guy, Vladimir something, and this guy Vladimir, like… Russia doesn’t like us very much. See, the Soviet Union… when the Soviet Union was around, like, it was, like, people like to say they were bad, but maybe they weren’t, you know? A lot of bad people said they were bad, so they might have been good, you know? Like, you can tell if you’re doing something right if you make the right enemies, right? But then again, they had this thing, like, they banned rock music, and I once went to a museum in Berlin, about East Germany, and, like, there was this… egg thing, egg container, I forget what it’s called, but there was only one type of egg thing, you could only get one. It had a chicken head on it. The only style of egg thing you could get. So, like, maybe the Soviet Union was bad. I don’t know. That’s bad. Only one kind of egg thing. That’s bad.

Anyway, Reagan made the Soviet Union stop existing, or something. Reagan was bad, man, fuck Reagan. So then, like, some other stuff happened, I guess, I mean, it was there for like ten years, so something must have happened, but I don’t know what. And, like, then this fascist Putin came along, and he hates gay people, and Russia is really bad now, really bad, man. They’ve got this fucking fascist Putin, and the fucking Russians are too stupid or something to see that Putin is bad. There was this article in the Times, like, this novelist, he holed up in a hotel in New York and watched a bunch of Russian TV, and he thought it was stupid, and there were a bunch of other novelists and they all agreed with him. He’s a novelist and he was in the Times and New York is cool, but anyway. Where was I?

Right. Vladimir something. So this guy Vladimir something, he’s something high up in Russia, some kind of advisor, something like that, and he keeps talking about America, and the Russians, they’re, like, stupid or brainwashed or something, I don’t know, they apparently think this guy Vladimir is right. Here’s what he says:

America has a simple ideology – that there is only one truth in the world, that truth is held by God, and God created the United States to be an embodiment of that truth. So the Americans strive to bring this truth to the rest of the world and to make it happy. Only after that will everything be well. This ideology has a strong influence on their policy.

So Vox ran this article, you know, here’s what they said.

Lukin is hardly seen as an anti-American hard-liner in Russia — rather, he’s considered to be an objective expert on the United States and a highly professional diplomat. He is a founding member of the liberal opposition party Yabloko. That he would get the United States so obviously wrong — what Americans would call defending democracy and human rights, he sees as a far more radical and explicitly religious agenda of “advocating a world revolution” — is troubling. But his view is a common one, and that tells you a great deal.

The interviewer’s response is similarly telling: “So Russia took off its ideological blinders in 1991, but America still seems to have them on. The Soviet Union is gone, but the policy against it is not.”

This narrative of an inherently aggressive America is one we heard over and over in Moscow, not just from people who support Russian President Vladimir Putin and his aggressive, anti-American policies but even from those who oppose them. In this view, American politics and policies are bent on, and in many ways driven by, a hatred of Russia and desire to destroy or at least control it.

Lukin, that’s it. Alright. So, like, yeah, do you see the problem here? Like… this guy doesn’t like democracy and human rights and all that, you know? “World revolution”, how do you get there from here?

Like, democracy, human rights, all that, these things are good, right? And we know that. Everyone knows that. It’s just how it is. It’s not religious at all. Religion, you know, that’s things like myths and going to church, like, weird shit that people do over there. Democracy and human rights, that’s just how things are, you know? Lukin is probably a fascist too. You have to be either stupid or evil not to believe in democracy and human rights. It’s 2015!

And, you know, man, democracy and all that, it’s going to happen, it’s going to come, it’ll just happen. The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice, except sometimes it doesn’t and we have to go bend it ourselves. But, like, it’s progress, you know? It’s just, like, an inevitable historical process. Sometimes we have to go inevit it, but it’s not us doing it. We order that some stuff happen, and some people follow the orders, I guess, and then it happens, but we didn’t make it happen. History did.

It’s like those riots in… where are the riots now? It was… what was it, somewhere, I don’t know where, a while ago it was that, and now it’s Baltimore, those riots in Baltimore, there are rioters, and they burn some buildings down, and then the buildings are burned down and they aren’t there anymore, but the rioters didn’t make that happen, you know? We don’t have enough justice yet. The buildings got burned down because it’s only 2015, and, you know, we’ve come a long way, but we aren’t there yet, like, someday history will end, but today we have all these racists and sexists and homophobes and Putin and all that, and, like, we’ve got to inevit that inevitable process, man, we’ve got to do that, but it won’t be us doing that, you know? It’ll be history, it’ll be inevitable, it’s going to happen, and once it happens, once we’ve gotten rid of all the racists and sexists and homophobes, I mean, once history has done that, once they realize what year it is, once they wake up and realize what year it is, like, this medieval shit, it’s not the Dark Ages anymore, man, once they wake up and realize what year it is, this stuff won’t happen anymore, the buildings won’t get burned down, and the foreigners, the Russians, the… there was that guy who got fucked up the ass with a knife until he died, what was his name, in, like, one of those countries over there, dictator, totally insane, like, once all those fascist dictators are gone, once they have democracy, once they start respecting human rights, those buildings, they won’t be getting burned down.

It’ll just happen, you know? All those dictators, man, it’s 2015, like, you know, it’s… it’s the will of the people, man, humanitarian interventions, we should go over and help them, but, like, sometimes they get brainwashed, you know, and we have to do something about that, we have to tell them, like, it’s not the Dark Ages anymore, man, these dictators have got to go, get with the times, right?

Like, alright, Iraq and Vietnam and all that, that was wrong, man, that was Bush, fuck Bush, something about oil, but these, like, that guy over there, knife guy, he had to go. Humanitarian intervention, right? Democracy. Human rights. It’s the will of the people.

This Vladimir guy, man, how could anyone get America so wrong?

Civil wars

Civil wars are first and foremost about local score settling. The trigger isn’t some guy going door to door saying “you know those Yazidis? We’re starting a group to get rid of them, would you like to know why?” Everyone was already itching to kill the Yazidis. The trigger in most civil wars is the sense that the long-repressed vengeance on your nearest and dearest enemies has become possible. This means that much of the killing in civil wars follows the demographics of murder, rather than genocide.

Civil wars are almost never geographic at first. Syria was not divided into “rebel” and “government” territories until after several weeks of fighting. Why? Because the government troops and the people who hated them were evenly dispersed around the country. Once the shooting broke out, some local battles went one way, some went another, and each side eventually had to work out supply lines connecting places where they’d won. Your loyalties aren’t determined by your residency, your residency is determined by which army you’re running away from.

There is no home front in a civil war. Every action by every side degrades the lives of both sides. Think of the worst divorce you’ve ever seen your friends go through, and think of the worst moment in that divorce, and that’s how everybody feels in a civil war all the time.

Civil wars aren’t anybody’s program. Usually the two sides each feel like they are legitimate, and can’t figure out what the other guys are playing at. They think “shit, these guys are clowns, lets just get them out of the way.” Everybody underestimates the consequences of their actions, the time it will take, and the dying that will happen as a result. Nobody in Syria in 2011 was saying “right, lets call a protest, and in three years we’ll be holed up in a burning hotel shooting twelve-year-olds in the head as they pull their mothers’ bodies from a drainage canal!”

No, we aren’t headed for a civil war. For now, the local scores are too stupid to settle — what would a red-state insurgent mob do if the veil were torn, burn coal? Shoot latinos? Give it a decade, maybe, but not now.

— Ran Prieur

I don’t buy the last paragraph. Here are two more quotes:

Congo. Nobody knows much about it, because nobody wants to. It’s been in the news lately, with a new movement called M23 sweeping through eastern Congo, taking the provincial capital of Goma, and then promising to withdraw—the kind of story you read, then drop, because you know it’ll never make any sense to you. The most anyone’ll say is “Durn shame, all those dead people. It’s some tribal thing, right?”

Well, it’s a safe bet that this killing is tribal, because that’s what war is: tribal killing. When we call African killings “tribal,” what we really mean is that we don’t get it, the tribal differences seem ridiculous to us—in other words, they all look alike. But when you’re inside a tribal division, it’s different. If Romney drove through my old neighborhood in Bakersfield, he’d take one look and say “trash,” but when you lived in that neighborhood, there were blocks that were like kryptonite to you and others where you were safe, houses that were like Abode of Evil and others that were Good Country People.

Even when we say a war isn’t tribal, it almost always is. Take the US Civil War, “brother against brother.” Except it wasn’t brother against brother very often. It was two very different tribes, Yankee and Dixie—different religions, different economies, different ethnic groups. Tribal all the way. So yeah, it’s tribal in Congo, but no more than most other wars. That’s not what’s made the killing drag on and on like this. …

[T]he Tutsi and Hutu traded massacres in Rwanda and Burundi until 1994, when what most people think of as “Rwanda” happened: The Hutu, who had built a good genocidal organization in Rwanda, called on their people to kill the Tutsi “cockroaches.” The Hutu weren’t warriors, but they were very obedient, orderly farmers, and the Tutsi were dispersed and disarmed. So the Hutu answered the call and managed to chop and burn 800,000 people to death in a few months. It’s not easy to kill that many people, that fast, with nothing but pangas and fire, but the Hutu went at it like the good little workers they always have been. It’s always that way: the best genocidaires, as the French call ’em, are never the big loud macho tribes, always the polite, educated, orderly ones. The Hutu got the call to kill and rape and steal, and they did. They still don’t know what they did wrong; most of the few Hutu who ever got called to account said they were just doing what the Radio, “Radio Thousand Hills,” told them to do. It’s a myth, by the way, that people have this thing called a “conscience” or that they suffer from stress, etc., after a massacre. Try reading Jean Hatzfeld’s book, Machete Season, and you’ll see the main thing the Hutu genocidaires feel is regret that they have to answer to a court now and then. The whole notion of guilt doesn’t cross their minds.

War Nerd

The Right-Wing Blob?  Why would he be envious of these people?   Again, the armchair psychology seems so manifestly inadequate one wonders why the Blob bothers.  Accusations of “hatred” are akin to the Right-Wing Blob’s favorite trope about “Bush Derangement Syndrome”:  it is just a rhetorical trick to dismiss well-grounded moral outrage about wrongful conduct.

One more example, from the blogosphere’s leading practitioner of condescension from below:  Glenn “InstaIgnorance” Reynolds denounces Krugman as a “sad and irrelevant little man.”  He does so, as best I can tell, without any sense of the irony of a middling legal scholar at the University of Tennessee who posts on a blog denouncing as “sad,” “irrelevant” and “little” a Nobel Laureate in Economics at Princeton University who writes for The New York Times.  And, of course, Krugman is so “irrelevant” that even a throwaway blog post necessitates the Right-Wing Blob, with its thousands of members, to swing into action!

And so it goes.  These people are literally devoid of independent thought, they are just bits of slime that ooze off the Blob when the Blob is poked, and in the process, they do violence to the language, stand reality on its head, and contribute to the continuing degradation of the public culture.

— Brian Leiter

What is America? Maybe it’s Southeast Asia, with people taking to the hills to escape the state, and the state strongly disliking the ornery hill tribes; maybe it’s the British Empire, full of peasants who want to preserve themselves but ruled over by a Macaulay-filled great power that doesn’t think the peasants’ culture is worth preserving; or maybe it’s the Middle East, full of religious crusaders who think the backwards Satan-worshipers in the mountains ought to be made to not exist. But one thing is for sure: the tribe that reads Brian Leiter — they’re the “educated, orderly ones”.

I don’t think it’s red-state insurgents that we need to worry about. Secessionists who want to be left alone don’t make good insurgents. Lowland crusaders, on the other hand…