The Cresting Of A Hipster Wave?-From The New York Observer: ‘Brooklyn Is Now Officially Over: The Ascendance of Brooklyn, the Lifestyle, Above All Else’
From Arch Daily Via Readers: ‘From Psychopath Lairs to Superhero Mansions: How Cinema and Modernist Architecture Called A Truce’
Offering links and thoughts on the Arts, Politics, Political Philosophy and Foreign Affairs.
Addition: File this under the ‘Mill touchstone.’ Better Mill than points further Left.
‘So it is today—the faculty largely accept as true most liberal mantras, including the widely-embraced view in academe that the Pope is wrong on abortion, its support for gay marriage, and avoidance of not only racism (agreed), but “triggers” of “classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression.” They are the fruits of Mill’s transformation—the defenders of “experiments in living.” Sandra Korn has not called for a fundamental change, but described how things are.
The real debate lies not between Sandra Korn and the defenders of “academic freedom,” but the truth or falsity of the commitments that are most deeply held. Mill was right about conservatives if we think that they “win” by upholding an academic freedom that has issued progeny like Sandra Korn. I agree that we should be committed to academic justice; I disagree that today’s academy has defined justice correctly.’
Ken Minogue (in discussion with William F Buckley) touches on similar ideas, including Mill (starts at 1:20):
‘The exercise of arguing against falsity strengthens truth.’
Stanley Fish defended Ward Churchill’s academic freedom too: From The Stanley Fish Blog: Ward Churchill Redux…
Broad, but maybe not broad enough. Martha Nussbaum says the university needs to be defend Socratic reason and still be open to diversity: From The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’…
A lot of this could be avoided by keeping political and aesthetic judgments apart, argues Roger Scruton: Repost-’Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment’…
Here’s a sentence you don’t come across every day:
‘Clearly the example of a transsexual Muslim airline pilot was meant as a reductio ad absurdum and not as a real or actual concern.’
With irony and/or sarcasm, you can end-up addressing an issue elliptically; the meaning easily lost or confused.
Also On This Site: So, You’re Telling Me What’s Cool?-Theodore Dalrymple At The City Journal: ‘Banksy In Neverland’
Theodore Dalrymple At The City Journal: ‘What The New Atheists Don’t See’…Theodore Dalrymple Still Attacking Multi-Culturalism In Britain…From The WSJ Weekend Journal-Theodore Dalrymple: “Man Vs. Mutt”
Well, not to look like too much of a dupe (me), but chess great Garry Kasparov, who has spoken-out at great personal risk for his birthplace of Azerbaijan as well as for the freedoms of all against autocracy and tyranny, has been very vocal on Twitter as to just what we’re likely dealing with in Putin:
Addition: Kasparov is a human-rights advocate having a tough time finding support against the actual force used by Putin against those supporting an independent Ukraine. Some human-rights advocates are as close to foreign policy decisions as they’ve been in a while in the current U.S. administration.
Is there any merit in applying rational motives to Putin’s behavior?
Perhaps, if you’re in Kasparov’s shoes, no, there isn’t. Putin’s actions should be clear enough.
Hopefully, I’m aware that many Western media outlets occupy a kind of secular-bubble within which everyone’s a potential convert to a shared set of assumptions about liberal democracy. The spread of human-rights through international institutions is often presumed to be the natural course of events. Apparently even Putin, China, the mullahs in Iran, and Islamic terrorists might be welcome to join as long as they agree to some basic conditions.
It’s ain’t what you know…
Moving along, here’s liberal strategist and thinker Zbigniew Brzezinski at WaPo, born in Poland, who served under Jimmy Carter (yes, Obama’s further out there than Carter, in many respects).
Putin’s actions can’t go unpunished:
‘This does not mean that the West, or the United States, should threaten war. But in the first instance, Russia’s unilateral and menacing acts mean the West should promptly recognize the current government of Ukraine as legitimate. Uncertainty regarding its legal status could tempt Putin to repeat his Crimean charade. Second, the West should convey — privately at this stage, so as not to humiliate Russia — that the Ukrainian army can count on immediate and direct Western aid so as to enhance its defensive capabilities. There should be no doubt left in Putin’s mind that an attack on Ukraine would precipitate a prolonged and costly engagement, and Ukrainians should not fear that they would be left in the lurch’
WaPo’s editorial board wakes up to Obama’s foreign policy assumptions, at least before potentially nodding-off again.
I think it’s reasonable to expect more redlines and deadlines from the President. Economic sanctions and scrambling behind the 8-ball are par-for-the-course these days. Check out Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic’s interview with Obama. It’s quite insightful.
My take: This administration is deeply invested in a kind of everyone-come-to-the-table peace activism and idealism, as well as Obama’s ability to read the intentions of others using this roadmap. I suspect he’ll likely redouble efforts for an Israel/Palestine peace process and a tentative peace-deal with the leadership in Iran, evidence to the contrary, history, strategy, peace through strength notwithstanding. The liberal internationalists are grounding him in realpolitik to some extent, bolstering this worldview which I suspect Obama sees as quite pragmatic and middle-of-the-road.
Yes, he’ll use drones, take out Bin-Laden, and keep our security in mind, but his default position is towards an ideal of peace, not necessarily peace through strength. His political and ideological interests are similarly aligned.
Addition: Is Putin acting to undermine his own interests quickly, more slowly?
Important to note: American withdrawal supply lines out of Afghanistan run through Russian territory, and any possible negotiations with the Iranian leadership depends upon some Russian cooperation.
Also, what many Americans may have missed during the last election:
We need a grander strategy, from the Middle-East through Asia, though how this strategy would look, exactly, is up for debate.
Charles Hill suggests that if America doesn’t lead with a new set of challenges that face the West, then Europe surely isn’t capable of leading either. If we don’t strike out on our own as Truman did with bold leadership after World War II, we will end a generations long experiment in American exceptionalism. If we don’t lead, someone who doesn’t share our values, probably will.
The world can easily destabilize and get quite violent, quite quickly.
This seems to be where we are.
Any thoughts and comments are welcome
(*As for liberal democracy, my understanding is that there are many strains within it that are highly illiberal, and threaten it from within, obviously, while claiming high ideals and insisting upon utopian and big solutions to persistent problems).
“Those who speak most of progress measure it by quantity and not by quality.”
More on Kennan (wikipedia).
Now that Putin is playing the Russian strongman in Ukraine (video of Russian tactics):
‘Yet one wonders how many U.S. government officials during the 1940s would have been able to behold the fruits of the policy with the sort of critical distance that Kennan demonstrates. His black, razor-sharp diagnosis of Stalinism—at a time when pro-Soviet wartime propaganda in the United States presented a diametrically opposed picture of the regime—is of a piece with this innate skepticism and independence of thought.’
Many diplomats and first-class thinkers can be frustrated by the constraints of a democratic system. Some are like Grandmasters, playing a global game of chess. They can spend their entire lives envisioning strategic outcomes, advising and calculating many moves ahead as they run through a rolodex of hundreds of names and players.
It can be dispiriting for them to have to try to explain the logic of it all to a President and his team who might give them 10 minutes to get a point across, and then have them write a follow-up position paper.
Or, in the case of Kennan, it might be even harder when their ideas are actually adopted into policy.
‘SOME OF HIS crankiest observations deal with the shortcomings of democracy. During his time as a government official Kennan had often witnessed how the principles of good policy were undermined by the short-term thinking of elected politicians, and he had concluded from the experience that democracies were inherently incapable of devising and pursuing rational strategy.’
Perhaps it’s an inherent good to have the logic and experience of even the very wise frustrated by the democratic process.
A realism you can get behind?
“The purpose of bureaucracy is to devise a standard operating procedure which can cope effectively with most problems. A bureaucracy is efficient if the matters which it handles routinely are, in fact, the most frequent and if its procedures are relevant to their solution. If those criteria are met, the energies of the top leadership are freed to deal creatively with the unexpected occurrence or with the need for innovation. Bureaucracy becomes an obstacle when what it defines as routine does not address the most significant range of issues or when its prescribed mode of action proves irrelevant to the problem.”
“Moreover, the reputation, indeed the political survival, of most leaders depends on their ability to realize their goals, however these may have been arrived at. Whether these goals are desireable is relatively less crucial.”
Kissinger, Henry. American Foreign Policy: Three Essays. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc. 1969.
I prove a theorem and the house expands:
the windows jerk free to hover near the ceiling,
the ceiling floats away with a sigh.
As the walls clear themselves of everything
but transparency, the scent of carnations
leaves with them. I am out in the open
and above the windows have hinged into butterflies,
sunlight glinting where they’ve intersected.
They are going to some point true and unproven.
From Via Media: ‘Russia Turns Gaze To Latin Autocrats:
At first, a friend pointed-out the return of the old Moscow-Tehran-Damascus alliance: Russia may be only a shade of its former Soviet self, but Putin is still running the old Cold-War playbook for leverage to recover his empire. The Syria redline debacle simply allowed him to dust-off some old plays.
‘That Russia is building ties with the least democratic and most anti-American governments in the hemisphere should help us as we gaze into his eyes and try to see his soul. He doesn’t actually like us very much, and doesn’t wish us well. This kind of stuff is particularly problematic for the two flexibility experts in DC—Kerry and Obama—who have consistently reached out to Russia in hopes of a better or at least more pragmatic understanding.
It’s hard to think of many goals that the Obama administration has pursued so consistently as the reset with Russia. News like this reminds us that it may have all been in vain.’
As of now, we’re putting human rights ideals and peace-dealing before many of our other interests, using this dragnet to try and include even bad-actors into an international framework.
The actual consequences of this approach are not reassuring, with Syria and Russia currently standing-out. We’re creating something of a power vacuum and conducting an experiment to see which kind of people fill the void.
If I’m not mistaken, Mead is calling for a more Huntingtonian approach, or rounding-up our interests and allies first and proceeding from there (less Western far-Left, human-rights focused and liberal internationalist).
Thomas Graham, a former Security Advisor to Russia, suggests we still aren’t in a zero-sum game against Russia.
So, what do we actually do next?:
‘What requires more thought is Mead’s conclusion. He sees a major zero-sum geopolitical contestunfolding, pitting Russia against the United States. Washington, he argues, should abandon its policy of seeking better relations and push back against Russia. Most urgently, in his view, the administration needs to rethink its policies on Ukraine and Syria to take into account Russia’s unrelenting opposition—and Mead would surely argue that the dramatic events in Kiev and the collapse of the Syrian negotiations only reinforce the urgency. But he has not yet suggested what the pushback would entail in detail and what it should aim to achieve. What, in other words, should the United States do, to what ends, at what cost, and with what chances of success?’
We may be getting to that point shortly under the current leadership.
How’s that Russian reset going?:
Well, this did take place in California.
‘Yet even if the judges are right, the situation in the school seems very bad. Somehow, we’ve reached the point that students can’t safely display the American flag in an American school, because of a fear that other students will attack them for it — and the school feels unable to prevent such attacks (by punishing the threateners and the attackers, and by teaching students tolerance for other students’ speech).’
With a larger Mexican population, Cinco De Mayo has apparently become a source of enough Mexican cultural and national pride at the school that such any display, provocative or not, of American national pride, has led to some confrontation.
Or at least the avoidance of confrontation.
So the more free-thinking Jerry Brown on display in the video below, back in the 70′s, is a far cry from the practical politics of the Golden State today:
Victor Davis Hanson’s suggestions still sound quite reasonable: So reasonable they’d be very difficult to implement:
‘The four-part solution for California is clear: don’t raise the state’s crushing taxes any higher; reform public-employee compensation: make use of ample natural resources: and stop the flow of illegal aliens. Just focus on those four areas-as California did so well in the past-and in time, the state will return to its bounty of a few decades ago. Many of us intend to stay and see that it does.’
-A link for Michael Lewis’ article about California politics, public pensions and Schwarzenegger’s time in office.
-A map from Immodest Proposals on how to divide California. Just some suggestions.
-California’s anti-immigration, anti-union Democrat: Full video and background on Mickey Kaus here.
Related On This Site: Victor Davis Hanson Via Youtube Via Uncommon Knowledge: ‘The New Old World Order’
A great city deserves great art extravaganzas…: L.A.’s New Public Art Piece ‘The Levitated Mass,’ Or As The American Interest Puts It: ‘A Moving Rock’
The people who promise solutions to poverty and homelessness seem to be engaged in a utopian cost-shifting exercise which favors their interests and overlooks crime, violence and personal responsbility…hardly a way to balance the budget: Repost-Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘The Sidewalks Of San Francisco’…
Link sent in by a reader.
Without a stronger moral core, will liberalism necessarily corrode into the soft tyranny of an ever-expanding State?
Since the 60′s, and with a lot of postmodern nihilism making advances in our society, is a liberal politics of consent possible given the dangers of cultivating a kind of majoritarian politics: Dirty, easily corrupt, with everyone fighting for a piece of the pie?
As an example, Civil Rights activists showed moral courage and high idealism, to be sure, but we’ve also seen a devolution of the Civil Rights crowd into squabbling factions, many of whom seem more interested in money, self-promotion, influence, and political power.
The 60′s protest model, too, washed over our universities, demanding freedom against injustice, but it has since devolved into a kind of politically correct farce, with comically illiberal and intolerant people claiming they seek liberty and tolerance for all in the name of similar ideals.
Who are they to decide what’s best for everyone? How ‘liberal’ were they ever, really?
Kelley Ross responds to a correspondent on Isaiah Berlin’s value pluralism, while discussing John Gray as well:
‘Now, I do not regard Berlin’s value pluralism as objectionable or even as wrong, except to the extend that it is irrelevant to the MORAL issue and so proves nothing for or against liberalism. Liberalism will indeed recommend itself if one wishes to have a regime that will respect, within limits, a value pluralism. I have no doubt that respecting a considerable value pluralism in society is a good thing and that a nomocratic regime that, mostly, leaves people alone is morally superior to a teleocratic regime that specifies and engineers the kinds of values that people should have. However, the project of showing that such a regime IS a good thing and IS morally superior is precisely the kind of thing that Gray decided was a failure.
Thus, I believe Gray himself sees clearly enough that a thoroughgoing “value pluralism” would mean that the regime of the Ayatollah Khomeini is just as morally justified as the regime of Thomas Jefferson. Gray prefers liberalism (or its wreckage) for the very same reason that the deconstructionist philosopher Richard Rorty prefers his leftism: it is “ours” and “we” like it better. Why Gray, or Rorty, should think that they speak for the rest of “us” is a good question. ‘
and about providing a core to liberalism:
‘Why should the state need a “sufficient rational justificaton” to impose a certain set of values? The whole project of “rational justification” is what Gray, and earlier philosophers like Hume, gave up on as hopeless. All the state need do, which it has often done, is claim that its values are favored by the majority, by the General Will, by the Blood of the Volk, or by God, and it is in business.’
And that business can quickly lead to ever-greater intrusion into our lives:
‘J.S. Mill, etc., continue to be better philosophers than Berlin or Gray because they understand that there must be an absolute moral claim in the end to fundamental rights and negative liberty, however it is thought, or not thought, to be justified. Surrendering the rational case does not even mean accepting the overall “value pluralism” thesis, since Hume himself did not do so. ‘
Are libertarians the true classical liberals? Much closer to our founding fathers?
Has John Gray turned away from value pluralism into a kind of ‘godless mysticism?’
Related On This Site: From The NY Times Book Review-Thomas Nagel On John Gray’s New ‘Silence Of Animals’…From Darwinian Conservatism: ‘The Evolution of Mind and Mathematics: Dehaene Versus Plantinga and Nagel’…
From Edward Feser: ‘Nagel And His Critics Part IV’…A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”…
If you’re in the information gathering and sharing business, you’d probably better understand how information is now being gathered and shared in order to broadcast it to as many people as possible (if you’re looking to make money and retain authority).
Many outlets still haven’t figured that out in the new landscape:
‘My take is that the rise of objectivity journalism post-World War II was an artifact of the new monopoly/oligopoly structures news organizations had constructed for themselves. Introducing so-called objective news coverage was necessary to ward off antitrust allegations, and ultimately, reporters embraced it. So it stuck.
But the objective approach is only one way to tell stories and get at truth. Many stories don’t have “two sides.” Indeed, presenting an event or an issue with a point of view can have even more impact, and reach an audience otherwise left out of the conversation.’
Are we back in an age of yellow-journalism, pamphleteering, and voices shouting from the rooftops? A period of unique opportunity before new and different monopolies form?
Check out an oral history of the epic collision between journalism and digital technology, from 1980 to the present, from the Nieman Journalism Lab.
Good for a laugh:-Who reads the newspapers?
Don’t worry, the current ideological and political interests running our government are on the cutting-edge: Peter Suderman at Reason: Healthcare.gov Cloud Computer System Cost Five Times As Much As Expected:’
‘Asked about the increased cost, a federal health official tells NextGov that “if the additional services were not added urgently, the exchanges would not function as designed and citizens would continue to have issues using the marketplace.” In other words, the original plan had been for a system that wouldn’t work.’
Remember, the winners are many of Obama’s political and ideological allies and some previously uninsured people, not necessarily everyone else.
Suderman’s wife: Megan McArdle At Bloomberg. ‘Latest Obamacare Delay Is Probably Illegal‘
Avik Roy At Forbes: ‘Democrats’ New Argument: It’s A Good Thing That Obamacare Doubles Individual Health Insurance Premiums’…Megan McArdle At Bloomberg: ‘Health-Care Costs Are Driven By Technology, Not Presidents’