Thursday, June 30, 2005
(12:30 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
I should learn LatinWord on the street is that the CTS language exam in German is really easy -- they give you a book in the language, give you a few weeks to read it and familiarize yourself, then they give you a few pages to translate, with a dictionary, in a certain number of hours. No big deal.
So obviously, I need to learn a second language this summer: Latin. Enough of this perceived pressure to supposedly "speak" a supposed "living language" so that I can supposedly "communicate" in "it" (i.e., German or French). I already know how to pronounce Latin from church -- Ave Maria, gratia plena, dominum tecum... Whatever. Easy.
What book should I use again?
(8:46 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Haloscan is not workingAs of now. At several sites, I have gotten errors saying not to post comments more than once every thirty seconds, then saying that I have over 10,000 more seconds to go if I want to post one. It seems likely that the service will be unreliable throughout the day.
That is not to say, however, that blogological dialogue is not possible. Jared Woodard of our sister site à Gauche has
On another note, at around 6am, there was incredibly loud thunder in the greater Chicago area -- it was actually setting off car alarms. Reportedly, when it woke up Anthony this morning, he immediately assumed it was a nuclear bomb.
UPDATE: Didn't Word used to have a feature where it would bring up the "open" box in the last folder you used? It seems unnecessary to default to "My Documents" every time, since there is, in fact, a big honkin' button that can take you directly to that folder in case of emergency. Having had my coffee supply disrupted somewhat, I just stared at the window for a minute, thinking, "Where did all my files go?" I was too groggy to be really worried, though.
Since I still can't post comments, even though 6 other people can, I would like to point out that Long Sunday is unlikely to make any immediate inroads into our market share due to declining participation from key bloggers, rampant absenteeism among listed contributors (LSINO's, let's call them), and their continued failure to write link-whore-able posts. (I solve The Weblog's rampant absenteeism problem by not listing contributors. It was funny, though, the last time Robb posted -- you remember him? He used to post here kind of a lot -- and someone asked in comments, "Who are you?")
UPDATE (2): Adam Robinson makes Update #2 once again -- since I can't leave comments at your site, either, e-mail me an article telling me the rest of your damn story! The Times cut you off at "the next day."
UPDATE (3): I've decided that this is going to be the "obnoxiously self-referential post." I feel like we've all shown remarkable self-control in that regard lately, especially me, so I'm going to indulge myself today.
So here's the question: What would everyone think of changing the page so as to make one massive sidebar on the right hand only? I'm thinking this would be the order of the items:
- Recent Posts
- Ad Box
- About the Weblog
- Weblog-related Materials
- Scholarly Resources
- Google Search
- Unapologetic tackiness
But no, I'm never going back to the yellow background color, ever, unless Monica Bennett promises to post once a week for the next two months -- or, failing that, unless some yellow partisan manages to convince Tara Smith to agree to a similar regimen.
UPDATE (4): Obviously plans have changed somewhat. Faced with the prospect of either starting to do actual work or tweaking my blog template, the choice was obvious. I saved a backup of the old template, so changing back is a simple matter. Now you have a visual to assess.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
(3:06 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
For all the Nazarenes in the House.The newest GS.
Good, I don't like hopeful signs anyway.
UPDATE ADDED BY ADAM: Dr. Bowling has declined to serve. The other front-runner has as well, meaning that the election of Nina Gunter, at least, seems all but assured. I just said in comments that "The only thing [Dr. Bowling] could do to redeem himself in my mind is to turn it down and endorse one of the two other front-runners." I say, close enough -- Dr. Bowling, consider yourself redeemed in my eyes!
(2:03 PM) | Discard the Name:
Zapatistas, Once AgainThe Zapatistas are exemplary for a number of reasons, not all of which could be immediately noted. But they are a contemporary experiment in autonomous government, their practice of delegation offers an alternative to the "representation" of captialist parliamentarianism, and they have involved their revolutionary moment in a kind of imaginative and literary production that, so far from agitprop, has its provenance in Pessoa and Garcia Marquez. It is a virtual revolution in the sense that they have made use of communicativity for radical politics, but also in the sense that they live a virtual time - one only has to read certain communiques to find this. And it is, really, a virtual revolution. Unlike the state-takers, who live and die by the calendar (1789, 1917, 1989, whatever), the Zapatistas are everywhere, and they are not going away. Additionally, they understand the role of masking (see Michael Taussig's Defacement). Which is to say, their tendency and power is not localizable, not just visible. They might be our tick on the clock, the one where we can, according to Benjamin's citation, turn our weapons on the clock itself.
Owing to this virtuality, we might think of what it means to "be a Zapatista where you are," as the saying goes. Intergalactic, as the latest communique has it. (This is nothing new, see Huey Newton's "Speech at Boston College".)
The Zapatistas are beginning to release description of the new stage they are entering. You can find it at: http://chiapas.indymedia.org/display.php3?article_id=113973
There is obviously a something new happening, and my hunch is that it will lead a core group of the EZLN outside the boundaries of Chiapas. If you are in Mexico, the time may be ripe. If you are in the USA, there are new reasons to tear down the borders.
(11:49 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Grossest Ever?One of the cats puked. Their puke is very similar to the color of the floor in the kitchen, so I didn't notice it. Walking between the sink and the refrigerator, I didn't step in it so much as kick it, spreading it throughout the general area.
UPDATE: Jared Sinclair has proposed a new "Wednesday Gross-Out" series. While I will take that under advisement, I feel I should first open the floor to any of my intrepid co-bloggers who would like to try their hand at a series. After all, it's no fair that I should have two weekly series and everyone else should have none. Group participation has been pretty good recently, but having a weekly series or two from co-bloggers would help to sustain that trend in the long run.
(8:04 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
The New Non-Conservative StrategyIt seems that all of us non-conservatives (called "liberals" by conservatives) have finally come to our senses in terms of responding to conservative attacks. In part, this is due to sheer exhaustion. After years of responding to the exact same attacks, week in and week out, our belief in the good faith of our conservative opponents is completely gone. We realize that, the whole time, they were talking to people who already agreed with them, even in situations where normal human beings would talk to the person actually present -- and we realize that, since the orthodox conservative way of thinking is so stupid and contradiction-laden, mindless repetition is the only possible way to "convince" people of it.
So now we non-conservatives are slowly realizing that our last refuge is sarcasm. Yes, I'm casting magic spells to make the Iraq War go poorly. Yes, I've devoted my entire journalistic career to aiding and abetting terrorism. Etc. I count this as a victory of the pro-satire wing of the epic battle of the Wealth Bondage Dumpster. Though perhaps not a victory of the non-conservative movement in this country -- more a strategic retreat. One hopes that sarcasm can unmask the stupidity of mainstream orthodox conservative discourse, which proudly and openly proclaims its historic inability to compete on equal footing with other ideological forms in the public discursive space of classic liberalism (the "liberal media," the universities) -- but one hopes also that people do not continue to embrace stupidity because it "at least" offers something positive, in contrast to the debunking and discrediting strategies of non-conservative commentators.
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
(3:30 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
The Newest American "WTF?!?" MomentSo, I see that Ronald Reagan was voted our greatest American. He beat George Washington and Martin Luther King Jr, among others. Yeah, that's right, a man who helped fund death squads and consulted the stars for policy advice has won the honor of Greatest American. It's obvious why Martin Luther King didn't win, no contest really. He just helped some people, within his own race even, get their freedom. You know what Jesus says about people who love their friends. Reagan didn't limit his love to his own race, he spread it to those within his tax bracket who may or may not have been merely white. Now if MLK had helped kill some people in South America - well, then it would have been more of even race.
For those of you who don't know - we are completely fucked.
In an somewhat related note, does anyone else find it funny that in Germany's version of this exercise we find in the top three spots Konrad Adenauer, who helped rebuild West Germany after WWII, Martin Luther, and Karl Marx? Now, that's a list!
(8:34 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Tuesday Hatred 6Today is the feast of St. Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons, reputed to have been martyred under circumstances that are unclear, the author of Against all heresies, a refutation of Gnosticism, which was, in all fairness, a pretty stupid religion. The hatred comes in because tomorrow is the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, which is so big that it gets a vigil mass, meaning that Irenaeus gets commemorated only in morning prayer, not in evening prayer. I finally find a saint I like, who isn't a war criminal, and the church shortchanges him.
Our shower hasn't been draining lately. For a few days, it would just take a couple hours to drain after a shower, but then it stopped altogether. I cannot handle it emotionally when the shower isn't draining. It is in the top five of things that make me extremely angry. Also, the toilet doesn't flush completely, so there's always that last piece of toilet paper lingering, at best.
I hate that Adobe Reader support in Firefox is buggy. It is the only thing that causes it to lock up in my experience, and it locks up approximately once a day. I hate that you can't copy and paste text from a PDF using Adobe Reader. I hate alt-tabbing among three or more windows. I hate that you can't change the default paste behavior in Microsoft programs and that it always seems to default to the stupidest and most disruptive way to paste something in. (I know that I could fix this problem by writing some VBA scripts and remapping my keyboard shortcuts, but it should be simpler to change it.)
I hate how easily I fall asleep when I try to read at night.
Monday, June 27, 2005
(8:41 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Vegetarianism: A Question of Religion?In a comment thread below, I referred to vegetarianism as being "like a religion," in that people say "I can't eat that." Anthony felt that was unfair, and although he has not yet detailed why, I can imagine -- vegetarianism is an ethical or moral stance, arrived at through reasoning rather than through divine command. That is true. It is also true that there are people who are vegetarian because of their knowledge of the present regime of meat-production in the United States, rather than out of a principle that one must never eat meat (such as Anthony).
It does seem to me that vegetarianism is a religious question. The matter of holy days and eating habits are the most essential material aspects of any religion, and also the last ones that one "loses" as one drifts away from active participation in that religion -- for instance, many lapsed Catholics continue to observe the prohibition of meat on Friday during Lent, many Jews' observance of their religion is basically limited to kosher, etc. Broadly speaking, my religion, Christianity, prides itself as being the one where you can eat any food. I think it's a good thing to be proud of.
I don't continue my Christian observance in the area of food simply out of inertia, however. In the comment thread in question, I mentioned the idea of table fellowship as being crucial to my observance of Christian food (non)regulations -- a flexible diet allows one to be flexible in receiving hospitality. Of course, the corollary, using Romans 14 as a guide, should be that those who are more "liberated" in this matter should accomodate those whose conscience will not allow them to eat particular things, either because of a reasoned moral stance or because of respect for ancestral tradition (which are not mutually exclusive). That corollary is seldom observed among Christians, particularly for vegetarians (even though the Bible specifically instructs Christians with flexible diets to be accomodating to vegetarians in the passage already mentioned).
Where am I going with this? I think it's important for people to eat together. I think that the position that Anthony takes on vegetarianism makes a lot of sense, and I have no interest in persuading him to abandon it. It's more important to be able to eat with him, and since I'm the one with the flexible diet, if I ever make dinner for him, it will be vegetarian-compatible. I will, however, continue to indulge my meat-eating habit in private meals. (So in my case, I adopt the Christian religion's position on food because I agree with the reasoning behind it.)
(8:40 AM) | The Young Hegelian:
nur ein biβchenI’ve always wondered why it is that some books of continental philosophy get translated into English and others don’t, or more accurately, how the decision is made on what to translate of a particular author’s oeuvre and what it is felt the English-speaking world can survive without. In one respect it’s a good thing that not everything by a particular philosopher does get translated, as it encourages the English-speaking student of continental philosophy to learn the respective language of his chosen subject. It was beginning to be a formal requirement back when I was studying, and I’m glad to hear that from what Adam has said it is even more so now. Good in another respect too, in that it leaves a space for the really diligent student to seek out an as-yet untranslated text and write a chapter of her thesis on it, thus fulfilling the Ph. D. requirement of making ‘an original contribution to research’. Learning German was for me actually one of the more enjoyable parts of writing a thesis on a German philosopher (though I still have to apologise for having nur ein biβchen) and having our very own native speaker (writing on Ernst Bloch, incidentally – more on whom below) to teach us philosophical German was an added bonus. Germanists were well catered for in our department; less so those who chose Kierkegaard as their topic, or Emil Cioran. I felt a bit sorry for them – Danish and Romanian looked even more fiendish than the Muttersprache.
During the heyday of continental philosophy in England and America (the early- to mid-1990s) we students had a belief that soon enough everything would be translated into English. So it seemed to be proceeding with Derrida, for whom translators must have waited like paparazzi as the books fell hot off the press at Seuil. Things proceeded more slowly with Heidegger, perhaps because of the difficulty of his prose, those tortuous neologisms. So it is that there are still some very notable omissions from the translated Gesamtausgabe (correct me if I’m wrong on this): the essay on Hölderlin’s Andenken, and the lectures on Germanien and Der Rhein. In the same vein, the Selected Writings of Walter Benjamin translated almost all but not quite everything he had written, but with some seemingly arbitrary omissions (a Collected Works would have been just a few hundred pages longer). And though Ernst Bloch had briefly caught the spotlight at that time with translations of Spirit of Utopia and Essays on Literature, strangely no one jumped to translate Spuren (Traces) or Thomas Munzer als Theologian der Revolution, nor his book on Hegel, Subjekt-Objeckt.
I’m sure you can think of other omissions (Alfred Döblin’s book of philosophy, Unser Dasein is one more that springs to mind). Maybe we can put some pressure on publishers like Meridian to complete the noble work they started.
(8:30 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Benefit of the DoubtI'm going to give Karl Rove the benefit of the doubt on this one. After all, any American can see right through this ridiculous nonsense, so the idea that he is saying such things for political gain is simply implausible. What he is doing with his remarks is precisely defending our nation's cities through subterfuge:
"Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers," Mr. Rove, the senior political adviser to President Bush, said at a fund-raiser in Midtown for the Conservative Party of New York State.Knowing that cities are traditionally much more liberal than rural areas, Rove is attempting, in a desperate gambit, to convince the terrorists that liberals are their natural allies. After all, terrorists do nothing but sit around watching TV all day:
Citing calls by progressive groups to respond carefully to the attacks, Mr. Rove said to the applause of several hundred audience members, "I don't know about you, but moderation and restraint is not what I felt when I watched the twin towers crumble to the ground, a side of the Pentagon destroyed, and almost 3,000 of our fellow citizens perish in flames and rubble."
Mr. Rove also said American armed forces overseas were in more jeopardy as a result of remarks last week by Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, who compared American mistreatment of detainees to the acts of "Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime - Pol Pot or others."As we know, if the terrorists -- a finite group of people whom we can definitively kill off -- are fighting our troops in Iraq, then they obviously cannot simultaneously be attacking the US mainland. But if they do somehow manage to spare 20 guys to come up with an elaborate plot to kill 3000 people in the space of an hour, Rove is betting that they are going to strike at the "tough and resolute" Red States rather than their "natural allies," the liberals. Thus, if all goes according to plan, we get the headline: "Terrorists attack grain silo, killing several mice."
"Has there ever been a more revealing moment this year?" Mr. Rove asked. "Let me just put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Senator Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals."
It's brilliant. The guy is totally the genius everyone says he is.
UPDATE: Bitch PhD directs me to a site where US Servicemen object to Rove's remarks.
Sunday, June 26, 2005
(12:07 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
An Open Letter to the Anglican Churches in Africa and Asia.Thanks a lot. It is truly inspiring to see that years of colonialism at the hands of Christian missionaries from Europe and America has finally been usurped. Sure, you sat back and took years of murder and radical re-structuring of your society, but now, finally, you have taken a stand. There you stand, for you can do no other! Sure, some people got killed where you actually lived before and you didn't do anything, but now, God forbid, some Bishop located along the Eastern seaboard of America is gay! The killing and the pillaging, that was fine, but this gay guy is just too much.
I was worried what action you would take, but it is heartening that you have learned from the error of the European Church and have decided that instead of killing us and taking over our culture as we did to you it would be merely wise to kick the American and Canadians out over that gay guy. I mean, after all, he puts his penis in another man's ass. One man's ass exclusively. That's just gross.
So, again, thanks a lot fuckers. Way to go!
(11:58 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
A Necessary GagIn some future movie, there needs to be a parody of the scene from Magnolia in which the entire cast sings along with the Aimee Mann song "Wise Up."
In order for it to have even a shadow of a chance of working, however, Will Ferrell absolutely has to be involved. I cannot overemphasize the importance of his role in this hypothetical gag.
(10:13 AM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
Things I do to get my rocks off that are not by proxy of Subcomandante Marcos.
So, since JD seems to think that I only get my rocks off by proxy of Subcommandate Marcos I have decided to let you all in on my political activities, small as they may be. Perhaps the one I am most proud of, because I'm a pretty lazy son of a bitch, is my commitment to responsible transportation. Though Hayley and I have a car, and she does use it quite often for going back and forth places, I rarely if ever drive it in the city. I have always traveled by public transportation when I could and loved the fact that in Paris there was no need for a car at all, unlike in Chicago. As of the end of winter I bought a little Schwinn road bike and I rode that back and forth from school every day that I could (lost 10 lbs. too). There really is something great about riding a bike in the city. I'm not sure if it's that death could overtake you in the form of a SUV at any moment, passing cars and making it home long before them during rush-hour, or if it's the euphoria of your body finally doing something that hurts a bit and makes you sweat. Either way, it is wonderful. It would be pretty transformative if a Church would decide to preach against the evils of cars and fought the CTA's corrupt bureaucrats to get better transportation in Chicago. Hell, I'd feel good about a Church that gets people onto bikes.
I also became a vegetarian after Easter this year. I didn't do this because I think killing things is always and forever wrong. Life indeed feeds on life, and when it does it right its joyous. But our modern meat industry is life feeding on death and its killing a lot more than a few million cows and chickens. I'm a firm believer that any new ecological thought must not posit that humans are at the pinnacle of life on the planet Earth, that we are part of the eco-system as participants and not masters. Our meat industry operates and encourages the belief within consumers that the earth is simply here for us and that our relationship with animals and the earth we all live on can be mediated by economic exchange. After literally hanging out with some cows at Hayley's parents place, I could no longer participate in that fiction. Hopefully a day will come when we kill animals in a way that puts them in a respectable relationship with us and I can again have some damn sausage.
I work a horrible job. I don't want to go into it, but suffice it to say that they are somewhat abusive to their employees by way of only getting work through temp agencies so that none of us are guaranteed employment or access to benefits. I steal time, often.
Further, I've worked on forming relationships with people and just talking to them. Even some scary drunk dudes who could beat the shit out of me. It's good to talk to them and realize that I'm being a dick in my fear. After all, I doubt they'd kill me even if they beat the shit out of me. What I wish I could do was learn some Spanish and Polish and help unite the working class poor in our area, but I don't have the disposition for such amazing work. I would, however, get behind anyone who does.
Sure, it isn't as good as going to Chiapas and participating in the Good Governments, but I'm trying to do some things to show that I'm not powerless.
(9:25 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
ClearingI must clear my inbox:
- Increasingly frequent commenter Tyler Simons has a post on Zizek and invites criticism and clarification.
- Ralph Luker has an open letter to Billy Graham in which he expresses hope that the civil rights movement will come to be understood as a chapter in American revivalism.
- Scott McLemee's Intellectual Affairs columns at Inside Higher Ed are now conveniently collected. This is a major advance. (There does not appear to be an RSS feed for the page at this time, though my research was admittedly cursory.)
- This wasn't in an e-mail, but since I do have an e-mail from him in my inbox: Michael Bérubé has discovered that he is part of the Network. This is very exciting for Prof. Bérubé and for all of us in the Loyal Order of the Neo-Bérubéans.
Saturday, June 25, 2005
(6:24 PM) | Dave Belcher:
Christianity and Politics?[Disclaimer: If you haven't yet seen M. Night Shyamalan's The Village, and you want to still, then don't read the first paragraph]
I really think that Christians should take up as their model the kind of community from M. Night Shyamalan's latest film The Village. They should move out from metropolitan areas, buy an enormous lot of land in the country, put up a fence to keep everyone in--and strangers out--and concoct myths about creatures that lie in the woods in order to keep the villagers in a perpetual state of fear from leaving their isolated sphere and wandering too near the woods, and "civilization." Or, at least, it seems that's a perception of what I meant when I said "contemporary monasticism"... an honest misunderstanding.
In case you didn't catch it the first time, let me be clear: something like Jacques Maritain's distinction between the temporal and spiritual spheres is decidedly not what I am saying. Here's Maritain:
The Christian respects and cherishes the distinction between the things that are
Caesar's and those that are God's even when, acting on his own and without
committing the Church, he gives himself most wholeheartedly to his temporal
mission, and when the Church herself does everything in her power, while
remaining within her own sphere (which is that of the spiritual) to help the
world overcome the difficulties it faces in its own order. (The Peasant of the
I think that Maritain understands Hegel's Philosophy of Right and democracy quite well. I just think that this is wrong when it comes to the gospel. This was my point in my post on Jim Wallis. If Wallis wants democracy--one that takes religion seriously and gives it a proper place--then he needs to be reading Maritain; if he wants Christianity, then he should be talking about something altogether different. He can't have it both ways, in my opinion. Ok. So, what am I saying? What do I mean, for instance, when I use the word "politics"?
I mean politics in two ways: one quite basic, and one "Hardto-Negrian." First of all, politics is the way in which a group of people collect and order themselves together, how they negotiate boundaries, and what they decide is common to their lives. So, this definition of politics is prior to any notion of society (societas). The second definition is quite obviously a response to the emergence of "society"--in Hardt and Negri's case, the society of control. Biopower spreads its regime over every region of life (bios), making it impossible to imagine any sort of outside to Empire's reign and rule. In this second sense, Christians are "political" merely by virtue of their location within the biosphere of Empire--and it should be noted here that that location can be anywhere, since Empire is a literal utopia, a no-place. Christians are political in exactly these two senses.
So, as Discard says in one of his comments below, I am indeed using the phrases "contemporary monasticism" and "mysticism of dispossession" with such an understanding or "(re)conceptualization" of Christian politics in mind. Christians are not to retreat into their isolated sphere--as the villagers in Night's film--while holding out hope and offering suggestions to "the world" for possible improvements in "their" sphere, which would be the worst sort of escapism (though I think this kind of effacement--without the "suggestions to 'the world'" part--is kind of what Thom Yorke is talking about in almost every song he writes..."I'm not here..." There is something undeniably compelling about it, which is to say, there are times when I just want to fucking disappear). Rather, Christians are bound up with the political, embedded in the very fabric of Empire (which has no center), much like St. Augustine's civitas dei is bound up with the civitas terrena; the heavenly city is on a pilgrimage with the earthly, moving through this world toward the end that it simultaneously waits for ("O, Maranatha!"). Now. Sounds a bit like Milbank right? There is a big difference. Milbank--and even Cavanaugh, who has probably written the best book in contemporary theology over the past 5 or 6 years--is saying that Christian politics is better than the worldly politics which poorly emulates the theological. The theological is a counter-politics to the politics of nihilism. I'm not saying this. This reneges on the whole "pilgrimage" metaphor that Milbank supposedly likes (and on the use of Certeau/de Lubac, for Cavanaugh). If I may quote myself from a comment below,
I mean this [kind of politics] at the communal level, and in a profound engagement with "the world." I mean by this a community that is so shaped by the practices of a
humbling liturgical life that it becomes reality for them outside the walls of
the church--which means the church becomes a moving body that is actually made
up by the "work of the people" (liturgy). So, Christian communities are, then,
simultaneously linked to a tradition and a heritage while yet moving ever out
from it in a transitivity that moves toward those who "are not" in this world.
Christian politics and Marxism thus have elements of affinity. Breton, again: "There is a certain correspondence between the mystical--neoplatonic critique of the Divine attributes--as an attempt to possess God in terms of ontological properties which would reduce His transcendence to the immanence of Being--and the Marxist critique of private property. Christianity and authentic Marxism share a common call to dispossession and a critical detachment from the prevailing order" (The Word and the Cross, 136). Breton goes on to say, however, that though there is an emphasis on the liberation of the poor from economic oppression in the Christian gospel, it is not limited to this. Furthermore, while both Christianity and Marxism share a "principle of hope," as Ernst Bloch says, Christianity cannot be reduced to historical materialism because of its "prophetic eschatology" (ibid., 137). Christian service towards those who "are not"--towards the Cross--is a passage, a soft breeze, a whisper. Far from the carnivalesque spectacle of the politics of the Religious Left or the Religious Right, or from the immanent materialism that reduces the mystery of the Infinite to "transcendence," the Cross as the Sign of Contradiction leaves a mark of distinction on the world which can only be perceived as "foolishness" and a "stumbling block." As Breton says, "The Logos of the Cross is doubtlessly more radical than a certain radicalism believes" (ibid., 30).
(5:50 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
IndexingFrom the Stanford University Press standards for indexing:
We usually figure about one printed page of index per 30-40 pages of typeset text. One can count about 100 entries to the printed index page.... Any index much shorter than this--say a 450-entry index for a 275-page book--is likely to be skimpy. Any index much longer than this--say a 1000-entry index for a 275-page book--is likely to be excessive. The disadvantage of a skimpy index is obvious. An excessively long index is usually one whose usefulness is impaired by inadequate consolidation of draft entries into larger units or by the inclusion of trivia unlikely to be looked up.The only possible way I can craft an "adequate" index for the book I'm working on is precisely "by inadequate consolidation of draft entries into larger units or by the inclusion of trivia unlikely to be looked up."
This entire document is a marvel of self-contradiction, counterintuitivity, and frustration. For instance, one is only to use subentries if there are five page references that could fall under the main entry. As if God himself were mocking me, literally every time I try a subentry, it comes out to only four page references for that topic.
I'll be done soon enough, in any case. The benefits to having done this include getting paid and getting my name in a book published by a prestigious press.
(2:25 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Redefining Family: A ConjectureI think there's a significant chunk of the New Testament devoted to redefining the family. In fact, except for some of the later pseudo-Pauline works, I think that the dominant way of talking about family in the New Testament is a highly metaphorical one that ends up undermining the importance of one's biological family.
One could say that all of those references take for granted the importance of family duty and that the higher duty to the kingdom of God or the gospel should put family duties into proper perspective, effectively making one a better parent/child/whatever -- and indeed, the Pastoral letters and Colossians and Ephesians seem to be moving in that direction. The important thing is to keep an appropriate balance, because our duties to family are simultaneously duties to God.
It would be natural to lean toward this late pseudo-Pauline view if one shared with those letters the idea that the apocalypse is not coming any time soon, and indeed, even with the (largely understandable) fascination the book of Revelation exerts on some people, our contemporary religious culture is not one that consciously expects the apocalypse to come any time soon. One could go a step further: emphasis on familial duty is a good indicator that apocalypticism is dying out, something like the frogs who start to die off as a prelimary sign that an ecosystem is collapsing.
Interestingly, the ideology of family arose in the Roman context just at the point where it seemed like this cannot go on. Family values were aggressively portrayed in imperial iconography even while the emperors themselves were terrorist thugs whose legitimate children either never materialized or were murdered immediately upon being born. The imperial system of government was not stable in its early years. Every regime change was a military coup, with the people clamoring for a new leader to remove the old one, until the new leader turned out to be even worse. And the institution of marriage was deteriorating as well -- you couldn't pay young men to get married. But again, family values was the official party line. Even if the emperor was in fact a serial rapist and murderer who had neither wife nor children, the imagery of the emperor cult was at great pains to show the subjects that they were being ruled not just by a man, but by a family.
Partly, this was just a matter of keeping warm bodies pumping out. As Peter Brown remarks near the beginning of Body and Society, we can't imagine today the horrible immediacy of death in the ancient world, the absolute necessity of reproducing merely to keep the thing running. But as the world was united in the peace provided by a brutal warlord who, in the early years at least, paid the army out of his own pocket -- just as the wonderful opportunities for travel, trade, mutual understanding were being opened up in the civilized world, people could not be convinced to invest in it any longer. People could not be convinced to invest their bodies, to invest their lives in the raising of children, because the whole thing was coming down and everyone knew it. When Paul declared in his letter to the Romans that the wrath of God is revealed against the injustice of Rome, it was old news, likely eliciting the same hopeless shrugs that a Chomsky tirade evokes among us today.
Paul, and the Jesus of the written gospels after him, says -- let the whole thing burn, and we'll be ready when it does. "Everything is permissible," every aspect of this world -- which is not merely wicked or evil in some abstract way, but that is objectively doomed, radically devoid of future -- can be used on an ad hoc basis, including even marriage or food sacrificed to idols. It's just a matter of keeping these little families -- real families, the kind made up of a worker's commune in Thessalonica who share everything, the kind made up of a bunch of ignorant Galatian hicks who somehow became convinced that some Jewish guy from across the world was raised from the dead, or the kind made up of a bunch of vagrants travelling two-by-two relying on the kindness of strangers -- together to greet the one who will redeem the world when it comes tumbling down under the force of its own inertia.
The irony of Christianity comes in here. We've got to keep these groups together, perhaps even growing. That means that we have to keep people from getting killed, or at least from being so mistreated that they give up an plug back into the mainstream culture. And so how do we do that? One really obvious way is to take the official imperial values and actually do that stuff better than the people who really profess them. So that's what a lot of Christians start to do -- raise solid families, create loving stable marriages, become obedient slaves and kind masters. After all, everything is permissible, even marriage, even family! And in this way, the Christians spread like wildfire, saving the empire in the process, creating a Romanism with a human face -- the greatest, perhaps the sole, achievement of Christianity. Retrospectively, we can see it as a powerful symbol when Jesus, dying on the cross as the corrupt Roman leadership tries to placate the crowd, prays for those who are murdering him -- objectively, historically, it is precisely Rome that he died to save.
That, in any case, is one conjecture among the many that are possible.
(2:37 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Adam Robinson's Play Was ExcellentThe play was absolutely hilarious. The range of jokes put The Simpsons to shame -- we got everything from a ghost slipping on a banana peel to a discussion of Anselm. The plot was surprising without seeming contrived, and dramatic irony abounded. He managed to pull off the "meta" thing without constantly turning knowing glances toward the audience.
The dialogue was excellent, and the primarily amateur cast put on a surprisingly tight performance. Of special note was Mike ______'s performance as frat boy Mikey Severs, Monica Bennett's as the brainy J. (with an excellent disguise of wig and glasses that kept me and many of her friends from recognizing her for several scenes), and Jonathan Burke's as Professor Moriartey.
This was likely the first and last production of the play, at least with this cast in this venue. It's a shame you couldn't have been there.
Friday, June 24, 2005
(5:55 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Sure to stir controversyThe best song the Beatles ever recorded is "Mother Nature's Son."
(1:17 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Reader ContributionReader Gabe Quearry responds to Dave Belcher's latest post:
The Puppet is the Perve
After reading an article in the Chicago Tribune on the "Christian Alliance for Progress" Dave Belcher reports that he had to stick his finger down his throat on behalf of a doubly poisoned political Christianity; Belcher hurled a scandalous proposal. Let me quote him exactly: "Maybe Christians need to stop thinking about how to 'reclaim' the faith, or how to be more 'public,' and think toward a sort of contemporary monasticism." In case anyone did not notice, Belcher's post received a prodigious amount of attention. But why?
My father holds the highest office in our great county so inaptly named "The Garden Spot of the World." Last night he suffered a "political defeat" of sorts sure to elevate his blood pressure to a heavenly locus because, in the end, the golden scales of justice are accessible to obstreperous thieves and men erudite in meticulous nescience. Exhausted, depressed, and disheartened by a displayed farrago of non-cooperation, pathetic insight, and - to borrow the Appalachian term - "boneheadedness" among the meritorious board, my father concluded that instead of running for re-election (which he would win) he will let the department return to the control of greedy, do-nothing, poltical crooks. I replied, "I think thats a good idea."
Across the kitchen, my mother, who was inconspicously observing, immediately retorted, "The Bible says when good men do nothing evil flourishes!" And I answered, "Well, where does it say that?" She has not found that exact verse yet, but she has convinced my father that even though the snakes bruised his heal, he will crush their heads. Is the purpose of Christianity to function as a filter of deadly venom, i.e evil?
I hate Michael Moore more than I hate Cialis commercials. But didn't the thesis of "Bowling for Columbine" contain at least some verity? Isn't American Political-Christianity a "Politics of Fear"? a form of existential "angst" growing not from the future possibility of living in a truly pagan milieu, but the expectations of the type of Christianity that that entails? because that Christianity is envisioned by the megachurch suburbanites as a precarious Christianity determined by a precarious world? I was introduced to Slavoj Zizek by Brad Johnson, and I am incredibly thankful for the introduction because I have learned something. You see, the thesis of The Puppet and the Dwarf is all wrong; it is exactly the opposite of what it should be: It is not that the Marxist needs to go through the Christian experience, but rather the Christian needs to go through the Marxist experience.
(8:31 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional
I confess that my unemployment is over for now and seems poised to be over for at least the rest of the summer. I've gone from trying and failing to get another student loan to probably being in a position to retire a pretty significant chunk of my credit card debt this summer. Plus, I'm working from home. So basically, I'm looking at fewer panics and breakdowns for the rest of the summer, which is good for everyone.
I confess that I don't know what "controversial" means anymore. Does it refer to something where, if you say it, obnoxious right-wing hacks will flock to it like maggots to the rotting corpse of constitutional government? Does it mean anything that challenges the status quo from a leftward direction? And why does it seem to be the designator for things that should not be uttered in polite company (for instance, on the pages of the New York Times)?
I confess that I don't know if it's even possible to be "subversive" anymore. All the possibilities for subversion seem to be taken up in advance, and they're always attached to issues other than economics -- unless we count "home economics." You know what would be really subversive? Admitting that homeless people exist. That would be pretty fucking subversive. Or it would be subversive to call people racist when they don't want to drive through a "bad neighborhood" in Chicago or when they comment that it's a bad idea to get off at a certan El stop. (Just to get a feel for what makes a "bad neighborhood" -- I've seen polling data wherein even black people themselves regard the mere presence of black people in a neighborhood as a sign of its "badness," so deeply rooted are our racial stereotypes.) So admitting that racism still exists, and then holding oneself and one's friends accountable for its manifestations (rather than, say, the Republicans, as though being a devout liberal means you can't be racist by definition), would be subversive in my opinion. But no one talks about this stuff, ever. Can you guys think of a single blog (including this one) that makes more than passing glances at homelessness or racism (excluding accusations that Republicans are racist)? I can't. Not one of the mainstream blogs on the supposed left of the blogosphere talks about that stuff, ever. I say, shame on all of us.
I confess that it is shameful that I took Spanish for four years, was a brilliant student, still remember most of it, and feel really intimidated to so much as try to speak Spanish to the people who live in my actual neighborhood. When I go to the Mexican bakery, which is increasingly often, the transaction usually proceeds in silence. I do know enough Spanish to buy a donut, or a torta, or to say thank you to the clerk at the grocery store. I just don't want to look like an idiot or like I'm trying to be what I'm not -- or, since we're in a confessional mood, maybe I'm a fucking snob who thinks that Spanish is the language of poor laborers and I really don't want to make an effort to speak it, because I've got more important languages to learn.
I confess that when I hear these liberals critiquing evangelical Christians, or critiquing Republicanism, or critiquing narrow-minded conservatism, I think -- Who are you, that you know about this? Didn't you grow up in New York, or Philadelphia, or California? When have you ever met these people? What do you know about them aside from what you read in the occasional anthropological piece in The New Yorker? And all your psychologizing of these people ("They don't like uncertainty") -- what do you know? Seriously, what do you know, about any of this stuff? Nothing, absolutely nothing. But you pretend that you know more about Christianity than any Christian possibly ever could. And you psychologize and psychologize and psychologize until someone's feeling of sexual repression caused the Iraq War. And if anyone comes out of that evangelical scene with a view other than "religion is evil" or "the true Christianity is identical with mainstream liberal ideals," then you don't have anything to say to that person.
The entire public sphere of this country is determined by the right, and by the right's identification of the "liberal" as its abject other -- and I mean the entire public sphere, including the "liberal" one. All the time, we "admit" that whatever the right is doing "works," and then try to copy it -- the surest example that history repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. There are differences between the liberals and the conservatives, the Democrats and the Republicans, but they're relatively small and growing smaller. The Democrats seem obsessed with creating a Coke vs. Pepsi politics in this country, because they're trying to be nice, because they're trying to play fair, because they're trying not to be controversial, because they're observing the rules that you just can't talk about class or homelessness or racism or the role of the public sphere or why maybe taxation isn't evil in principle or why maybe the wealthy and the corporations don't need help from the government -- all of that is out of bounds, and Democrats are really good at playing by the rules and playing with the hand they're dealt, and it's going to be the death of all of us.
So that is what I confess today.
Thursday, June 23, 2005
(8:11 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
From dissenting speech to undermining speechThere has been some discussion of late in conservative media circles about certain types of "liberal" or "left-wing" speech that cross the line from "dissent" to "undermining." I'd like to set the record straight on this matter.
As a card-carrying member of the ACLU (quite literally card-carrying), I think that I easily qualify as a bomb-throwing leftist for the purposes of this discussion. And I can testify that my friends and I were consistently disappointed that our scathing critiques of the war in Iraq consistently failed to affect the outcome. We had some of the scathingest critiques thinkable by the human mind, to wit:
- President Bush decided to invade Iraq even before he was elected and shamefully manipulated a grieving and frightened American populace into a war that was completely unconnected to 9/11.
- Every stated reason for the war, by the administration and by members of the mainstream media elite, is false -- in point of fact, it was motivated by a quest for vengeance against the rebellious former client Saddam, combined with a desire to tighten the US stranglehold on Mideast oil reserves in the face of explosive economic growth in China.
- The war proceeded with the most slapdash planning available, ignoring the opinion of those who have spent their career studying and implementing military ventures, in favor of the outlandish fantasies of men whose intellectual nourishment consists of a heady cocktail of Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, Leo Strauss, and Tim LaHaye.
- The government deliberately put the troops in harm's way without adequate armor and more importantly, without adequate knowledge of the goals of the occupation, which had to remain a secret, lest it offend the basic human decency of the majority of American citizens.
- The administration promoted brutal and immoral policies of interrogation, characterized by arbitrary indefinite detention and tortue, even of those prisoners believed to be factually innocent of any crime.
"Nonsense!" I said. "The problem isn't that words are ineffective, but rather that we are using the wrong type of words. We believed, mistakenly, that dissenting words would be adequate to affect the course of the war. We must look for words that will directly undermine the war effort by directly causing real effects in the physical world!"
The room was silent. Some hapless liberal terror-monger asked, "So are you saying we should pray that the troops fail?"
"NO!" I screamed, pulling out and waving aloft my ACLU membership card. "God is no fool -- he knows we hate him almost as much as we hate America, and he would never agree to be worshipped under false pretenses by those hungry only for political gain!"
Again, silence. "So, um..." said another storm trooper in the war on freedom, "what did you have in mind?"
"I'm glad you asked." I pulled out a large, leather-bound book. "What I have here is what you would call a 'magic book.' It's a simple item, something you can order off of Amazon. But the words inside this book hold the key to unimaginable power over the course of nature itself."
The crowd made crowd noises, and I called them to attention. "Look at these spells! Here we have a spell to cause young Iraqi men to join insurgent cells. This spell inspires its victim to plan and execute a car bombing in the Green Zone. And this -- this spell is my pride and joy. It causes its target to take pictures of his fellow soldiers abusing prison inmates and mail the photos home to his friends and family!"
And so there you have it. The conservative commentators are absolutely right. After we realized that dissenting words have absolutely no influence over the course of a war on the other side of the planet and that under the normal laws of physics, only those who physically fight in the war and command soldiers in the war can be held responsible for the conduct of a war, we turned from dissenting speech to undermining speech -- that is, we started casting magic spells to make the war go badly for America. That was the only way we evil liberals could think of to go about our daily lives here in America while simultaneously undermining a war effort thousands of miles away.
Thank you for your time.
(1:08 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
Evil geniuses and the problem of nihilism.
I am often drawn by nostalgia or morbid curiosity to articles detailing the lives of Christian Evangelicals, so when Adam's New Yorker arrived with an article about Patrick Henry College I read it immediately. The college is packed full of home-schooled children, whom the author (Hanna Rosin) quite deftly describes as being able to appear older and younger at the same time, who are being trained to go into the GOP ranks immediately upon graduation. These home-schooled Dick and Jane's tend to have very high SAT scores, one main figure having scored a perfect. Their law debate team has routinely beaten the team from Oxford. Yet, at the same time the students are expected to sign a ten-part statement of faith which in part holds positions of a young earth and belief that hell, in addition to being real, is for all those who fall outside the love of Christ. A 1600 on the SAT signed this pact and not in some ironic hipster kind of way just as his khaki's and button up shirts are completely sincere. This kid is obviously smarter than me and yet he is part of a willful conspiracy to destroy all that is good in the world, being confused on what exactly the good is.
How exactly does one score a perfect on the SAT and have such disregard for science? Have these Evangelicals mastered the art of distance? They are able to distance themselves so much from the idea of the world, of conforming their vision to this world, that they can spout of the answers to questions they don't even believe in. Nietzsche was right; at the heart of Christianity and other perverse political bodies lay nihilism.
To close – Yes, I did compare the students of Patrick Henry College to Nazi soldiers; and no, I won't apologize. The point is not that Patrick Henry students may begin killing Jews in mass numbers or any other group (heaven knows they would rather increase funding for Israel) but that they share the way Nazi's were able to distance themselves from the obvious stupidity of their actions while retaining a superior intellect.
(9:45 AM) | Dave Belcher:
Christian Alliance for ProgressIn today's Chicago Tribune I read an article about a "new" "grass-roots organization with plans for a national membership" called the "Christian Alliance for Progress." This is basically Sojourners all over again. Check out their video here.
Yes. The Religious Right scares the shit out of me. And there was a time when I would've eaten this up, but this shit kinda scares me--and I don't just eat shit for anybody. I am convinced more than ever that Christians might need to stop talking about politics...this has to be taken a certain way: I don't mean like Maritain that we need to distinguish between two "planes"; I think that those two "planes" (if we can talk about it that way at all!) are already bound up with one another in such a way that a religious person or community is always already a political person or community. Maybe Christians need to stop thinking about how to "reclaim" the faith, or how to be more "public," and think toward a sort of contemporary monasticism. Maybe Christianity in our context cannot be thought apart from a mysticism of dispossession. Just maybe.
(8:34 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
My Quiz: What 20th Century German Protestant Theologian Are You?[UPDATE: Why waste your time on this quiz when you could be reading Scott McLemee's piece on Bourdieu?]
- What is your vice of choice?
- General womanizing
- Bleeding-heart liberalism
- Plotting to assassinate evil political leaders
- How long is your dogmatics
- Oh, just three slim volumes. Wouldn't want to overdo it!
- What? A dogmatics? Little old me?
- I never got a chance to do mine.
- Twelve and a half volumes, and I'm still not done.
- Oh, just three slim volumes. Wouldn't want to overdo it!
- What book made your initial reputation?
- Well, ostensibly it's a Bible commentary
- Fragmentary and obscure letters I wrote to my closest friend
- A theological appropriation of Ernst Bloch
- A theological appropriation of Martin Heidegger
- Well, ostensibly it's a Bible commentary
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
(12:26 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Survey SafetyAt a recent summit sponsored by Nielsen Media Research, a variety of recommendations were reached on the impact of increasing cell phone usage on the polling community:
As a result of this meeting, it was proposed that several “advisory” statements be drafted for the research community concerning reaching cell phones while conducting telephone surveys. The statements address: (1) the overall issue of accounting for cell phones in survey research sampling, (2) safety concerns of conducting research with a respondent while they are on a cell phone, (3) data quality concerns, and (4) the ethics of conducting research interviews with a respondent who is using a cell phone. (my emphasis)Here's some more info on number two:
The mobile nature of cell phone technology allows for a respondent to be engaged in numerous activities and to be physically present in various locations that would not normally be expected in reaching someone on a fixed landline number. In particular, the operation of a motor vehicle or any type of potentially harmful machinery by a respondent during a research interview presents a potential hazard to the respondent and to anyone else in the general vicinity of the respondent (e.g., fellow passengers in the car).So the survey person will call you up on your cell phone and you can have that classic conversation: Are you sure you're safe to drive right now?
As such, any researcher who conducts a survey that includes respondents being interviewed on a cell phone should take appropriate measures to protect the safety of the respondent and those around the respondent.
(11:34 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Which Theologian Are You?Via Sarah at Just Another False Alarm, I find a new Internet quiz.
Which theologian are you?
created with QuizFarm.com
Moltmann (80%) had no close competitors in my results. Anselm and Luther were tied for second at 53%. Calvin, Barth, and Tillich were tied for third at 47%. My theological loyalties are somewhat in flux at the moment, and there is probably going to be some distinction between theologians I like on an aesthetic level and theologians whose ideas I can use, but I don't particularly like Moltmann. I am always suspicious of a theology that puts a great deal of emphasis on suffering.
It'd be awesome if someone could make an internet quiz where each individual question wasn't so transparently a slogan for some particular figure, and where the idea of having a range of six options between "agree" and "disagree" didn't seem to be completely overkill.
(10:47 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
ATM ProblemsI keep getting hit by double fees for using ATMs that don't belong to my bank. (By "keep getting hit," I mean that it has happened three times in six months, bringing my total cost for double fees to $5.50.) I've thought about switching to a bigger bank, such as Bank One, in order to avoid such fees. The "nice" areas of the city, such as Lakeview, Lincoln Park, and the Loop, are well-served by ATMs for my bank, but I don't spend all my time in those areas. I'm wondering, though -- might it be easier, and nearly as quick, to just wait until my bank is bought out by a larger bank?
Another option would be to stop using ATMs that don't identify themselves as belonging to any particular bank, because those are the ones that keep resulting in double fees -- that would include the ATM by the Streetside Cafe, the closest and most convenient ATM in my neighborhood, and the ATM in the gas station across the street from Don Pedro's in Sterling, IL, which I use only very rarely.
Or I could avoid all fees by always routing every trip I take through the Loop, getting any necessary cash at the ATM for the branch of my bank at Monroe and Dearborn. What would be the time difference of taking the Blue Line all the way to the Loop, then catching the Red or Brown Line to the cool, hip neighborhoods, as opposed to taking a bus along one of the congested east/west streets in order to catch the Red or Brown Line there as necessary? Or perhaps I could just do a better job of planning ahead in terms of having cash on hand, rather than walking around with $3.00 in my pocket and paying for CTA cards by scrounging around for change? And to enable that strategy, I would have to do a better job of just having more money.
Man, this is throwing my entire lifestyle into question.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
(9:04 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Evolutionary Reductionism is StupidOgged has a post in which he says that evolution is a way of accounting for facts about the world and has no bearing on the question of God. Joe O responds:
The most influencial current evolutionary thinkers are atheists. This isn't going to help things in Kansas, but a correct understanding of Evolution is deeply incompatable with belief in God.I respond:
Many people believe in directed evolution where God puts his thumb on the scale to get mankind intelligence or moral capacity. If you believe this, you can't correctly understand human intellegence and moral capacity. Because, human intelligence and moral capacity were produced by evolution, not God.
So, for example, there is a reason why treatment of people out of our group (iraqi civilians) is so much worse than the treatment of people in our group (us soldiers). Fucked-up things happen in wars. And they probably have an evolutionary origin. Which doesn't mean you can't avoid either wars or the fucked-up behavior, but you have to work at it.
Could it be that those behaviors you mention are influenced by biologically encoded traits that are a result of evolution, but also by the development of human civilization, which has a logic all its own? After all, biological evolution is ultimately based on complex chemical interactions, but no one denies that biological evolution has its own logic that is not simply determined by the laws of chemistry -- and so on, all the way down.I post this (a) to be self-indulgent, (b) because there is every chance that this comment will be ignored now that I'm no longer one of the Chosen Few who posts thirty comments a day at Unfogged, and (c) because that comment represents a decent formulation of an opinion that I've long held (see the title to this post) without fully thinking it through. The position that I have outlined is still compatible with a materialist outlook, but it would be a more Lacano-Hegelian position, arguing for the existence of Geist or the Symbolic Order. My criticism would apply to all versions of vulgar materialism, of which the evolutionary strain seems to be the most prevelant (probably because it was adaptive at some point for us to be attracted to evolutionary reductionism).
So it's possible that in order to understand human beings, we need to understand their social life, and we need to engage with previous attempts to understand that social life (such as, say, Christianity) on their own level, rather than making this short-circuit of pretending that it's wholly determined by some "lower" level.
Not that materialism is some kind of sine qua non for me! By no means!
UPDATE: Joe O responded to my comment. I was just sore because the first comment I left was ignored.
(7:35 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Explain something to meYou're all familiar with the fact that I have just gone through a long period of unemployment and that my finances are basically not in very good shape at all. So could you please explain to me why I was just looking on Craigslist for reasonably-priced used pianos in the Chicago area?
I found one that looks good for $350 -- four years old, hardly used. Maybe I can write the guy one of those checks that you get from the credit card company. If I just wait a couple days, one of my cards is bound to send me yet another set of them.
(10:38 AM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
Update: I just read the Zizek article linked to by Amish Lovelock where Žižek says:
To put it bluntly, do we want to live in a world in which the only choice is between the American civilization and the emerging Chinese authoritarian-capitalist one? If the answer is no, then the only alternative is Europe. The Third World cannot generate a strong enough resistance to the ideology of the American Dream. In the present constellation, only Europe can do so. The true opposition today is not the one between the United States and the Third World, but the one between the whole of the American global Empire (and its Third World colonies) and Europe.
I think Žižek is completely wrong about this and while I don't want to attribute it to some kind of racist euro-centrism I do wonder why he continues to even talk about a "Third World". France and Germany, while certainly being loci of power, are not working to undermine American interests or, more importantly, capitalist interests. The truly inspiring movements of power, and not hope, are happening in South America. Stretching back hundreds of years, but now in our own time with Chavez and the Bolivian Revolution, there has been a movement towards a united South America. That, in my mind, is the potential power I would like to see realized. If Europe wants to stand up to American hegemony and the more important capitalist empire that Žižek always subsumes under America, then Europe should do all it can to destroy the Monroe doctrine and foster the trade of goods and ideas that already exist in the South.
(7:47 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Tuesday Hatred 6By way of a preface, I include this conversation, which just happened:
Anthony: "So what's with that new theatre down the street? They're going to be doing some pretty artsy stuff."I hate how hard it is for me to concentrate on working at home. If I were in an actual office, social pressures would keep me seated at my desk, at least -- here at home, I'm just walking around, going to my room to play the piano, harrassing the cats, etc. I've probably put in the equivalent of two full workdays, but that was over the course of four days. So if I'm going to do this freelance thing for a longer period, which is not certain but is desirable, I'm going to need to get into better habits.
Me: "Yeah, they're going to be doing some Shakespeare thing. That's the ultimate in artsy."
Me: "Well, actually, Shakespeare is kind of middlebrow nowadays."
Anthony: "They need to do some Brecht."
For example, reading Rebekah's post on lazy temp workers, I definitely recognized myself in her insistence on being the one to do actual work. The only times I have been able to maintain that kind of work ethic at home have been when I was so overwhelmed by schoolwork that there were just no other options, or during the "state of exception" that writing a paper brings into my life. Doing the first draft of the Derrida translation was like that as well, except that I was putting in the equivalent of 12-hour days at some points. If I end up doing some mysterious other translation this summer, that would probably help productivity on all fronts: I would concentrate more on getting my work done (again, assuming I had more freelance stuff to do) so that I could complete the translation. I like doing translation. If a normal academic thing doesn't work out, maybe I could get by doing translation jobs for a while -- something like A Thousand Plateaus would probably pay fairly well.
I hate how lonely weddings make me feel. Justin and Kim's wedding was very nice, and I enjoyed the reception/party afterwards; that only ended up making it harder for me to identify the low-level depression that intensified before peaking out in my going to bed at 9:30 last night. The same with Fred and Bethany's wedding -- it was the nicest ceremony I'd ever been to, and there were a lot of good friends there. Still, after the reception, which ended at about 6:00 by my memory, I didn't want to go home to my empty house (every weekend, during that summer when a huge proportion of my friends lived at my house, they would also all leave every damn weekend), and I thought to myself: Maybe I could hang out with Natasha? No, she's married, so it's "weird" for us to hang out like we used to. Maybe Andy wants to go get a drink? No, he is going to see his girlfriend. Maybe I could go hang out at Fred and Bethany's? No, they just got married and are probably pretty busy. Maybe I could go home and sit by myself? Yes. But it was one of those things where hanging out with someone wouldn't necessarily help.
I hate it when people try to start a discussion thread on a topic on which they very clearly have an opinion, but they pretend that they are open-minded and just looking for suggestions. Then they always act disappointed when no one jumps up and confirms what they had in mind in the first place. Such discussions rarely go anywhere.
I hate being in air conditioning unless it's absolutely necessary. It feels great when it's ungodly hot, but otherwise, it strikes me as ridiculous and, yes, childish. It's the same as when someone uses too much seasoning or sauce -- childish. I base these opinions on my resentment toward my sister when we were kids, because she was a "full-blast all the time" kind of girl when she was little, to the point where she was willing to freeze on the days when it was too cool for the air conditioner, like the point wasn't to regulate the temperature, but to have this machine running that intends to make her comfortable. She's still what they call "high maintenance," but not nearly as bad. The amount of syrup she uses on her pancakes now strikes me as perfectly reasonable, for instance, and my parents' house has central air, so she doesn't have much personal control over it.
But anyway, I really do hate air conditioning generally. This is going to sound ridiculous, but I have come to like the Great Lakes Region weather, and I'd just as soon go through the cycle of seasons more naturally. Even the ridiculous bitter cold doesn't seem so bad, and I find it kind of fun to sweat a lot. Obviously, there are limits -- I'm more than willing to go for the air conditioning if it's over 90, and I certainly want my house to be warmer than the outside air during the winter, but I like there to be some correlation between what my body is experiencing and what is going on in the atmosphere, particularly in the atmosphere in this general region of the world where I've spent my entire life. This is a good thing, given that I've decided to stay in Chicago for at least five more years.
Here's something kind of abstract, but I think I hate it -- reading something on Atrios, I thought kind of at random that I wished 9/11 had never happened, not only for the sake of those who died that day, but also because of the ugliness and destructiveness that has resulted in our country since that time. I get the feeling, though, that there are many people in this country who, deep down, are glad about 9/11 precisely because of those things that I identify as ugliness and destructiveness -- they probably think of it as a "wake-up call" that broke us out of our decadent slumber, to a new state of values and unity and, best of all, sacrifice. One wishes that we did have an official state religion, so that we could sacrifice animals or little styrofoam "bread" wafers -- as it stands, the only sacrifice the American civil religion will accept are human sacrifices.
Monday, June 20, 2005
(3:23 PM) | Brad:
In the Spirit of TestimonyOnce upon a time there was a young man, he with the mad hair, unobtrusively plain face and anonymously banal wardrobe. Seminary had treated him well, he with the golden valedictorian cord adorning his graduation robe. Trained in the ways of religion, and liberally funded by those with the most fervent of faith, who considered him a favorite son of the fold, he was, one might say, blessed. And yet, he quixotically begged to any who might listen: 'You there, you with the faith that runs as deep as your pockets, you must believe for me. I'm no longer sure I do.' Blessed he may be, he with familial friends and a Pharisaic bank account, this studious young man was very unhappy.
His generation was called, by purple-hazed rebels with jobs and sparkle-bright smiles, the apathetic generation, a tag its constituents, they were told, always had time to resist. 'You're all wrong,' this unhappy, blessed man concluded. 'Mine, and so many of theirs, my peers, is the question of sincerity.' To be sincerely hypocritical, this was his aim: to religiously embrace, with tears of praise in his heart and on his lips a passionate irreligiosity; to pursue, with a mystic's vision and a saint's prayer, the path of theological misunderstanding. His lot, he who wished to live a questionable sincerity, he felt was to pinch from the priestly purse the pauper's penny, and to think of nothing but the happy injustice of it all.
And thus he lived sincerely, consciously oblivious to the consequences of his actions. He said what everybody wished to hear so that he might live in such a way that nobody could believe. His life, in turn, was as unbelievable as his faith. Lovely words, the sacred fiction of a sincere young man's holy lie, this will be the death of him.
(2:08 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Way out in the leadMy friend Melinda Minch is way out in front of my group of friends from high school. She recently completed her MA in computer science and is preparing to move to Washington to work for Microsoft. She is also engaged. All the major milestones of adulthood are in place, and she seems poised for a very happy and productive life.
Here is an update on others in this circle:
- Adam Kotsko continues his terminal decline into fiscal insolvency this year as he begins a PhD program in Theology, Ethics, and the Human Sciences. His penchant for falling in love with married and/or older women continues to hamper any prospects of getting married. Analysts warn that perpetual adolescence remains very much on the horizon for the near- to medium-term.
- Michael Schaefer, after some initial setbacks, has secured employment with Euromonitor, a market research firm, allowing him to actually use some of the skills he acquired in his undergraduate work. His MA in Russian and Eastern European Studies from Stanford gave him something of an early lead in the eyes of some observers, but its net effect has been negligible over the course of the study period. His live-in girlfriend boosts his adulthood score somewhat, though not as much as would a full-blown marriage.
- Michael Hancock continues to struggle. Arguably holding a slight lead over Mr. Kotsko, he is currently serving in the Peace Corps in Uzbekistan or in a country relatively close to Uzbekistan. Plans for the future remain unclear, though it is unlikely that he has tens of thousands of dollars in debt on the immediate horizon. His preference for single women his own age may give him an edge over Mr. Kotsko in the race for the coveted "not last place" slot.
- Joe Fairweather is poised to overtake Ms. Minch in the medium- to long-term. Currently pursuing his PhD in engineering, with special emphasis on hydrogen fuel cells, Mr. Fairweather is virtually guaranteed wealth and success. His relatively recent entry into the dating market ideally positions him to make a suitable match, unburdened by emotional baggage and aided by the promise of a six-figure income.
- Becky Fairweather is making many of the same missteps that continue to hamper Mr. Kotsko as she pursues her music career. Prospects are helped by her decision to become a state-certified teacher, giving her an ideal "bail-out" career, something shared by neither Mr. Kotsko nor Mr. Hancock. Consequently, her hold on a midlevel ranking remains relatively certain, with some possibility for rapid growth depending on her success in the job market for classical musicians.
(12:52 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
MemoryRemembering is better than writing down. Once something is written down, it is lost as memory. In some situations, this can be an advantage -- for instance, I would much rather have a definite citation for a particular piece of information rather than a vague "I think I read somewhere" if I needed to write about that topic. But as I start a CD that meant a lot to me last year, I am reluctant to write. The vagueness is the point, the changeability. What was important to me then? What moods dominate? What and whom did I love? It's different, every time, with every different reminder.
I don't know if I can write in a way that shows the good and the bad -- the often deep depression coupled with the profound joy, the longing for the experience of that precise time together with the assurance that it really is okay that that was that time and that this time is different. I have been reminded repeatedly of a relationship I had last summer, by lavender dish soap and a trip to Union Station. I like to remember it, and I like still having that person in my life in a different way -- but how to capture this feeling precisely? How to say, "I do not want to repeat that relationship" or "That relationship was often very stressful and emotionally draining for me," without sounding "bitter"?
Why so many accusations like that? Why do people assume that when I recall the negative, I have this hidden resentment? Is the morally appropriate approach to "negative" memories to forget them entirely? Is it unhealthy to think about negative things at all? I sometimes don't feel like I'm really being heard, or better, that I'm being typecast as a negative or a bitter person -- once that is established, people know how to deal with me. But that's not what's going on at all. By remembering, even the bad things, I want to affirm everything in my life as my life. I do not want to "deal with" "issues" insofar as "dealing with" things means getting rid of them or forgetting. Or solidifying them, usually in terms of credit or blame -- even if a provisional judgment can be made, I always want room to reconsider.
I want to absolve the past. I actually went to confession recently, after being somewhat estranged from the Catholic Church for the last year or more. The priest seemed to me to do exactly what I needed -- he heard my confession, including my confession of things that the church takes to be sins but which I have no plans of discontinuing, and he said that he hoped God would bring peace into my life, then said the prayers of absolution. It worked -- I was absolved. Things do seem more peaceful -- the endless self-analysis and self-blame and self-pity to which I am so prone was put on hold, at least for a time.
Remembering a past that has been absolved is different. It is a past that does not enclose the future or determine it; it is a past that has been allowed to be past, a past with regard to which I am free. Forgiveness is important. Confession is important as well, but confession that opens out to forgiveness -- the always incomplete confession that never becomes a mechanistic condition for forgiveness but that must always accompany it. There is no forgiveness without confession, and no forgiveness in which only one party forgives. In being absolved, I must absolve myself as well, set myself free for a genuine and undetermined future -- undetermined as much by a one-sided insistence that the past is irrelevant as by an equally one-sided insistence that it forecloses the future entirely.
There is no forgiving if it must be accompanied by forgetting. This is why Bonhoeffer says that even in the eschaton, there will be sin. Just as Christ's wounds, the culminating mark of the history that is Jesus Christ, remain after the resurrection -- God's act of forgiveness to the world, the foretaste of his coming forgiveness, which comes only with judgment -- so will all of our wounds, self-inflicted and otherwise. The persons who will be resurrected are the exact same persons who lived stupid, petty little lives. If they are not -- if the human race is ever replaced by an unwounded and unwoundable perfection -- then there is no redemption. The world to which, despite everything, God says yes, is this world, this world that we are continuing to create and (perhaps more often) to destroy.
If something like Christianity has anything to offer to the future of this world, it is surely forgiveness -- a forgiveness that is conditioned neither by a morbid inventory of the past nor by a forgiveness that denies the past has happened. Nothing will be destroyed, nothing will be lost -- and nevertheless, there is a future. The denial of the past is the denial of the future as such, which instead becomes an infinitessimal present, where absolute possibility becomes absolute impossibility.
(11:04 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
A new meme?Which blog do you not read often enough?
That's easy: John Emerson's blog, solely because it doesn't have an RSS feed. (Scott McLemee would suffer a similar fate if I weren't checking it every Tuesday and Thursday for an easy link to his column.) John has a lot of interesting essays up -- in fact, the period during which I didn't check it seems to have been his most productive period in decades -- including a theory about the historical Humbert Humbert and some discussion of Baudelaire's poem about a hippopatamus. It's a shame that this is such a "religious blog," so that those posts couldn't have been shared more directly with The Weblog's audience.
Coming up: My personal testimony!
Sunday, June 19, 2005
(10:32 PM) | Dave Belcher:
Jim Wallis is a "Fundamentalist"Now, before some of you Žižekians start to get excited, I mean that "Jim Wallis is a 'Fundamentalist'" by his own definition alone. He is quite clear what makes one a "fundamentalist":
Fundamentalism is essentially a revolt against modernity. It is a reaction usually based on profound fear and defensiveness against 'losing the faith.'
(God's Politics, 66)
I want to highlight at least two fundamental (no pun intended) contradictions in these two statements. The first one is obvious to anyone who has read the book. Fundamentalism is a reactionary gesture against the possibility of "losing the faith." And, yet, the title of Wallis' second chapter is, "Taking Back the Faith." There is a profound sense of anxiety (as well as arrogance) in Wallis' words, fearful of letting the "fundamentalist freaks"--we might say--possess that which is properly "ours" (or his, or whosever). And actually we can use Žižek’s analysis of “authentic fundamentalism” as opposed to “perverse fundamentalism,” here. In On Belief, Žižek notes that “authentic” fundamentalists—using the Amish and Tibetan Buddhists as prime examples—don’t fear their neighbors. “Perverse” fundamentalists, however, have a great mistrust and even “envy” for the Other. This envy is manifest in a desire to fill a lack, something that was once possessed but has now been lost. So, the perverse fundamentalists envy the pleasure of the sinner’s life, secretly wishing to have back the jouissance which was previously sloughed off in “conversion” (See Žižek On Belief, 68-9). Is this not obviously the case for Wallis, who secretly wishes he could blend faith and politics even half as well as the Religious Right? Wallis’ “hidden” agenda, which reads like a failed attempt at threading a subliminal message into the fabric of the explicit discourse, is to mobilize the Democratic party to do just that: step to the “right” in order to outdo the Right on their own turf. Now of course the reverse would work as well: if the Right would step to the “left,” Wallis would still have his mixture of “conservative on cultural issues” and “populist” on economic issues (here, Wallis even says that such a stance would be “pro-poor”!). However, he is too busy drawing a caricature of the Religious Right’s fundamentalism. Now, admittedly, this is as much the fault of the Right as anyone! Regardless, however, Wallis’ continual picturing of all conservatives as fundamentalists (despite how he tries to cover his tracks) has burned all possible bridges. He has no other option but to turn to the Democrats. This is highly ironic, since his book is apparently an attempt at a “third way” in politics in America, drawing us away from the stale two-party system.
The second contradiction is in a phrase that Wallis invents—as oxymoronic as it is annoying: “secular fundamentalist.” Wouldn’t this phrase, coupled with Wallis’ primary definition of fundamentalism as “essentially a revolt against modernity,” be thoroughly implausible? Isn’t modernity—at least according to an extremely dominant historical interpretation—characterized by “secularization”? So, how could the secular and the revolt against the secular cohere? If Wallis were as clever as Derrida, this kind of unassailable Contra-Diction would in fact be plausible. But, and I don’t think I really need to say this, Wallis is no Derrida. Regardless, back to this ridiculous phrase. I immediately knew what he meant the first time I read it; one can easily infer what is meant merely by attending to the pretense of the book: the importing of “faith” into the political sphere. “Secular fundamentalists” are those—Democrats—who staunchly relegate both the language and the practice of faith to the “private” realm, not allowing the religious and the political to mingle in any way. This absolute refusal on the part of the Democratic party is, according to Wallis, contrary to the intention of the “founding fathers,” insofar as America was founded on “values.” Values, for Wallis, cannot be easily limited to the issues of “same-sex marriage” and abortion, as the Religious Right attempts. Rather, the economy, trade, agriculture, and so forth and so on; all these are inherently moral “issues.” If we take Wallis seriously, however, anything is a potential value; for example whether I use a toilet (and read a book) while I take a dump, or bury my shit in a hole in the woods imposes on me a moral choice. In this way “values” becomes something of an unlimited specter like the use of “terrorist” by the Bush administration. The field of potential enemies is leveled, such that anyone is a potential terrorist; or, in our case, any situation in public life is a potentially value-imbued situation. If “values” and “morality” were regulative ideals to which public deliberation and the use of reason strained, this might make sense. But, Wallis understands values and morality to be specifically religious and—at least implicitly—Christian. Christian dogma is disseminated into every inch and every moment of political life. This fits all too well Wallis’ own definition of fundamentalism, equivalent to “theocracy,” which attempts to seize power in order to impose a values system on public life. Now, according to Wallis, the theocratic imposition is from the top down, whereas “God’s politics” starts at the bottom. But, if this really were the case—if grassroots organizations were actually offering a third way for American politics, not reducible to one or the other, in such a way as to yet remain public—then Wallis wouldn’t need to write this book about a “third way” in politics, one which has as its basic agenda the Christianizing of the Democratic party, so as to have a vote which sits better on his conscience. And here it should be obvious from a thoroughly secular point of view why Wallis’ contradiction-laden book offers us nothing short of the same damn thing in a new, bright, shiny package.
But, of course, Wallis would say that it is our thoroughly secular point of view which keeps us from seeing his point. One must look through a Christian lens, as it were. However, Wallis himself does even worse on this note. Relegated to a list of tasks to be done, the issues of values upon which a religious person must hinge their vote, become the definitive marks of the gospel. Wallis continually points to text upon text in order to prove that there are more verses about ending poverty in the Bible than the values that attract the Right wing. And yet, this can be said from a far remove—and this of course has implications for us…me included—demanding great change on a world scale, while we ourselves are not changed. We can “end poverty” as a religious obligation, as a fulfillment of the gospel, without actually being ourselves transformed into something like the communities in Acts (4-5), who owned no private property, shared all in common, and yet not one was in need. We can at least fault the influence of Jeffrey Sachs on Wallis for this economically depraved “development” point of view. This, however, doesn’t make it excusable. And it definitely doesn’t make it Christian. If a Christian, according to “God’s politics,” is supposed to support and engage in government-supported programs to end poverty by bringing those who are the “poorest of the poor” up on to the first rung of the ladder of development, then I am no Christian; and that God, for me is dead. Christians are called to a beyond which can only be summed up as an ironic “detached and smiling ‘I think’ accompanying all our representations or projects,” as Stanislas Breton puts it. Those programs are indeed programs I support; and I will continue as a citizen of a liberal democracy to enter into the public sphere in order to voice those concerns. But, let’s not tack on a verse from Isaiah to a liberal democratic process and call it “Christian.”
(5:52 PM) | bitchphd:
Lying to childrenThis is a terrible follow-on to Adam's last post, but then I am a terrible person. A few posts ago, Joe Drymala commented on the way the Calvin & Hobbes strip always had these great lies the father told the kid, but then said, no, parents shouldn't lie to children.
Well, bullshit. Lying to little kids is fun. Lies we have told Pseudonymous Kid:
1. Baby oil is made of squished babies. (This is a favorite, and has now turned into a game: "What is ___ oil made of? Squished ___!!!")
2. Play-doh is made from little kids who got play-doh stuck under their fingernails and didn't wash their hands. It kind of takes over your body, and you just turn into play-doh. That's why play-doh is different colors: it depends what color shirt the kid was wearing at the time.
3. If you don't stop acting up, I'm going to take you downstairs and lock you in the trunk of the car so I can finish shopping. (This got an audible gasp from the woman on the other side of the bra rack.)
4. You know that pirate treasure we got at Disneyland? (Plastic jewels, you shovel 'em into a little black velveteen bag the way you do shiny rocks at national parks.) Well, the way I got that was, after we got off the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, I was carrying your toy Peter Pan sword, so I snuck back into the ride and stole the pirate treasure! And then I fought with the pirates and scared them all away, so that I could get pirate treasure for you.
5. Mama may look tame, but she is a wild animal. Mama weighs 3000 lbs, and can run 30 miles per hour, three times faster than you can. Many people are gored by mama every year. Do not anger mama. (This, more or less verbatim, from a sign warning people about the bison at Yellowstone.)
(3:56 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Serious Discussion of GuantanamoDavid Kopel, apparently incapable of distinguishing metaphors used for rhetorical effect and rigorous historical arguments, offers an appropriate historical analogy to Guantanamo Bay:
The more plausible analogy to Guantanamo is British interrogation of Irish Republican Army suspects in the early 1970s. Then, the British extracted confessions through "the five techniques": wall-standing, hooding, continuous noise, deprivation of food, and deprivation of sleep. The European Court of Human Rights, in the 1978 case Republic of Ireland v. United Kingdom, ruled that the techniques did not constitute "torture," but were "inhuman and degrading," in violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.No. Did that case include things like being chained hand-and-foot to the floor so that the people being interrogated shat and pissed on themselves? No. Did it include sexual humiliation? No. Did it include forced grooming? No. There are a million (oh! sorry! a more plausible number would be "dozens of") things that are going on at Guantanamo that did not go on in the situation mentioned that make Guantanamo a considerably more serious situation than that described. Insofar as using attention-getting rhetoric comparing the vicious and inhumane treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo and other "fronts" on the so-called "War on Terror" to some of the worst atrocities committed by the sworn enemies of the United States is some kind of problem -- and I don't think it is, I think that it's morally bankrupt to spend one's time denouncing such rhetoric when the decent human thing to do is to denounce what our government is doing in our name! -- the solution is not to pick a "more plausible analogy" that just happens to "normalize" the treatment there, then declare that "serious." Apparently the only discussion of Guantanamo that counts as "serious" is that which "recognizes" the "necessary evil" of continuing to run our little prison camp. Well, I say: no. In fact, here are some theses:
- If you have devoted considerable space to explaining away every "allegation" of "misconduct" in American interogation techniques, then you lack the moral judgment of an eight-year-old child.
- If you advocate any position that doesn't include unilaterally shutting down the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and returning everyone there to their home countries, then you are not serious. You are not worth talking to or arguing with on this point, because you are unequivocally, completely wrong.
- Insistence that one turn a blind eye to the abuses of one's own government in order to denounce the abuses of others, separated by wide expanses of time and space from oneself, is an affront to the principle of democratic self-governance. If anything should count as "un-American," such rhetoric should -- it denegrates the legitimate right and privilege of the people of the United States to exercise the principle of democratic self-governance, in favor of giving those in power a free hand to do whatever they want. Such servile authoritarian rhetoric, of which we get reams and reams spewed forth from the unoffical Republican Party organs represented by Fox News, the right-wing press, and bloggers such as Glen Reynolds, is absolutely contrary to the principles on which this country was founded and should be denounced, execrated, and shouted down by all those who take seriously their responsibilities as citizens in a democratic polity and as rational human agents.
If your first reaction to this is to accuse me of overlooking the fact that the Democrats are just as bad if not worse, then I think you have some serious soul-searching to do.