Offering links and thoughts on the Arts, Politics, Political Philosophy and Foreign Affairs.
Walter Russell Mead on the Keystone Pipeline:
‘The State Department has again and again reported that the proposed pipeline would have a neglible impact on climate change (because the oil is coming out of the ground whether Keystone is built or not), and Canada is America’s largest trading partner and one of its most important allies. But the greens are an important part of the Democratic base moving into the midterms, so what should have been an easy decision for the pipeline became a real dilemma.’
Amy Payne At The Foundry: ‘Morning Bell: Obama Administration Buries Good News on Keystone Pipeline’ From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘The Failure of Al Gore Part Three: Singing the Climate Blues’…Ronald Bailey At Reason: ‘Delusional in Durban’…A Few Links On Environmentalism And Liberty
Shika Dalmia on Ezra Klein following the logic where it leads:
‘What’s truly ugly, I note in The Week, is accepting totalitarian notions of justice to address a problem that is nowhere near as rampant as the proponents of “yes means yes” laws claim and that women are perfectly capable of handling on their own.’
More from Minding The Campus.
The ideology and its adherents defend their position and themselves, and claim to be neutral. It’s just wiki-wonk pure journalism. Cathy Young at Reason-The Argument Against Affirmative Consent Gets Voxjacked.
Who needs natural rights and the presumption of innocence when the wise progressive elders have the latest statistics?
Defending Eliot Spitzer…as a man who ought to be free of prostitution laws…but didn’t he prosecute others with those same laws?: Repost: Martha Nussbaum On Eliot Spitzer At The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A very Harvard affair: The Spelke/Pinker debate-The Science Of Gender And Science
Henri-Levy has done some pretty deep thinking, mostly within leftist intellectual traditions, but also seems to attempt to question the core ideas of those traditions:
“I hate competition of victimhood. But I also hate the idea of a big, huge, and empty concept of suffering…”
A deep moral and (maturing political) realist who’s also anti-religious (typically left, at least he doesn’t advocate enforcement of Godlessness).
I agree that there’s danger in identity-victimhood politics. It can cultivate many vices under its loftier idealism. Yet, for my part, I believe that an intellectually honest, reasonable conservative (conservare) position already acknowledges much of this danger:
“You had fascism in Japan. You had fascism in Europe. You had fascism in people like Lindberg in America. You had fascism in Latin America and in the Arab world.”
Well…yes. It doesn’t go away, and you can likely make a deep metaphysical theories about how it is a part of each of us and extend them around the globe with moral courage as Henri-Levy has done. However, I don’t think the conservative position need devolve into caricatured support of fascist tendencies. I can easily see how identity-politics might inflame fascist tendencies (if you accept Henri-Levy’s defintion of fascism.
Which brings me to the next point:
“And one of the reasons I am so much in favor of [Senator Barack] Obama is that his election might be, will be—because I think he will be elected—a real end to this tide of competition of victimhood, and especially on the specific ground of the two communities, Jews and African Americans, who were so close in the 1960s”
…”The Obama election would reconstitute the grand alliance.”
What is he smoking? The grand alliance? No wonder his book American Vertigo seemed so tone-deaf when dealing with its potential subject: America. Even the American left found it lacking.
I appreciate the support that some in the French republic extended to African Americans (jazz musicians, writers, James Baldwin…for example) who were cast beneath our moral concern, and held there, sadly, by even the laws. There are hardly words for such injustice, yet I see no easy recourse from it.
In fact, if I were one of the millions of relatively poor and marginalized Muslims on the outsides of Paris, languishing with little hope of a future, my fascist tendencies (expressed within or without the Koran) would lIkely be bubbling up. And while the depths of moral courage, wisdom and insight an Henri-Levy provided (if I got the chance to read him) might spur me on to independent thought, those depths would leave a lot untouched.
Addition: Reader-emailed evidence for the American black-jewish leftist alliance on Bloggingheads with Joshua Cohen engaging in genuine moral concern and genuie academic apologetics. Obama has chosen Rahm Emmanuel to likely be the White House Chief Of Staff, and of course from the Kentucky Fried Movie, Cleopatra Swartz. Thank you readers…I think.
At this point, we’re probably helping Henri-Levy make his. Identity politics!
I thought Henri-Levy had transcended them…oh wait…never mind.
Repost-‘Modern Art For Sale In The Middle-East-From The New Yorker: ‘Richard Serra In the Qatari Desert’
Click through for a Serra-released photo of four metal pillar-forms aligned in the deserts of Qatar, designed to inevitably rust. The piece has a slight ‘2001: A Space Odyssey‘ feel, but that could just be me.
‘The Qatar Museums Authority is estimated to spend about a billion dollars per year on art. At its head is the young Sheikha al-Mayassa Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, a sister of the Emir of Qatar and a Duke University graduate, who was recently named the most powerful person in the art world by ArtReview.’
Get while the getting is good, so long as the Sheiks have the dough.
Serra is a quite accomplished modern artist and sculptor often working in the ‘land-art,’ category, or site-specific pieces interacting with the viewer and the natural surroundings. Check out Hyperallergic’s visit to ‘Shift,’ a series of concrete forms he left in an Ontario field.
Here’s Serra discussing a piece of his at 21 West Gagosian, or a densely-packed, carefully measured series of metal forms in a room. What does the viewer experience in this space?:
Serra, I think, more than other land-artists, turns that discussion a little more inwards, towards the abstract, the body moving through a space of his design as he tries to bring something across to the viewer.
Or so says me.
Also, what’s with all that Gulf oil money buying-up modern art?:
As to politics, James Panero had a piece on Qatar:
‘On the one hand, Qatar’s art initiatives can be seen as a modernizing force, one that could liberalize the tribal attitudes of the country’s native population and pave the way for further political reform. On the other hand, contemporary art may merely serve as a cover for further repressive policies.’
On another note, that of land-art, Robert Hughes took a look at the work of Michael Heizer, who’s been working since 1972 on a sculpture in the Eastern Nevada desert, which was originally called ‘Complex One.’ It’s morphed into his life’s work, called City. It’s very large. It can’t be moved. You can’t reproduce it. It represents a break from traditional sculpture. It can’t be put in a museum and it’s not clear that it has a function. See more on Hughes take on it from his series, “Shock Of The New” which includes some aerial shots (from 00:45 to 5:30):
Is modernism now our culture?:
Related On This Site: James Panero At The New Criterion: ‘Time to Free NY’s Museums: The Met Responds’
MOMA is private, so perhaps it’s not as decadent if they display Tilda Swinton in a box:
Tilda Swinton At MOMA-From Arma Virumque: ‘Nightmare In A Box’
Roger Scruton says keep politics out of the arts, and political judgment apart from aesthetic judgment…this includes race studies/feminist departments/gay studies etc.: Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment
There was also a summary of chapters in a reading group presentation:
‘Jerry has argued throughout the book that the conception of the person employed within public reason liberalism and liberalism broadly speaking must move in this Hayekian direction. If public reason liberals follow Jerry’s lead, the fundamental structure of public reason and even the nature of the social contract theorists’ project must substantially change. In short, political justification must not begin with deriving the rationality of rule-following from a teleological conception of practical reason. Instead, it must begin with an understanding of the nature of human beings who are already rule-followers and the nature of the moral emotions and cooperative activities that accompany such rule-following. It is in this way that Jerry moves most forcefully away from Hobbesian conceptions of public reason. He goes further by arguing that even the Kantian conception of the person he endorses cannot be constructed out of practical reason alone. Instead, human nature contains Kantian elements for thoroughly Humean-Hayekian-evolution reasons. Our rule-following nature is contingent on our social development (though no less contingent than our goal-seeking nature).’
Any thoughts and comments are welcome. Gaus tries to reconcile three ideas:
1. The reality of deep disagreement, and the fact that private reason leads each of us to vastly differing conclusions about the nature of truth and how to live and what to do; how to constrain our behavior.
2. The principle that no one has any natural authority over anyone else
3. The principle that social authority is necessary for social life. We are already born and woven into such a fabric and are already rule-followers to some extent.
For Gaus, instrumentalists do not deal persuasively with number 003, and some empirical research, cog-sci, economics etc. is perhaps necessary for the practice of good political philosophy.
In addition, he cites his three primary influences as Thomas Hobbes, John Rawls, and Amartya Sen.
Some liberaltarians I know are quite pleased.
Addition: And a friend asks?: “Can you see life, liberty, and property from here?”
Addition: Public Reason also has an audio interview here. Likely worth your time.
Related On This Site: Jesse Prinz Discusses “The Emotional Construction Of Morals” On Bloggingheads...
From Walter Russell Mead:
‘Those are classic gangster euphemisms coming out of Don Putin’s mouth. And Russia’s capo should be feeling confident: he has triumphed in Ukraine, and is now pushing his advantage in yet another area. In Moldova, Russia has the all-important lever of a frozen conflict that could conceivably be thawed should the need arise’
Putin’s ethno-nationalist, thuggish plan to isolate and freeze former satellites, foment and support conflict and strong-arm them into submission is continuing apace. From Georgia to Ukraine to possibly Moldova…
Meanwhile, Xi’s cohort in Beijing is drawing Hong Kong further into its orbit, as Hong Kong still fights to maintain many of its political and economic freedoms…realizing how easy it is to see them whittled away…as though they were never there.
On that note, Michael Totten has been visiting the still Communist regimes:
‘Vietnam’s middle class travels on motorbikes for the most part rather than in cars, but in the 1970s almost everyone got around on a bicycle. Cuba hasn’t even reached the bicycle stage yet. Its streets and highways are more bereft of traffic than anywhere in the world except North Korea.’
That economic liberalization and rapid change away from a Communist regime is partly what’s going on in China: Copy the patents and ideas while building basic infrastructure, as Peter Thiel pointed out, and get up to speed over the next few decades. Keep the economy blistering ahead by hook or by crook.
This is creating all sorts of other contingencies.
Related On This Site: Kissinger says our relations with China are incredibly fragile, and that due to its own past, it may not fit as easily into the Western models of statecraft as some would think: From The Online WSJ: ‘Henry Kissinger on China. Or Not.’
Obama’s Decision On Missile Defense And A Quote From Robert Kagan’s: ‘The Return Of History And The End Of Dreams’…A Kantian raft?: Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy
‘The alchemists in their search for gold discovered many other things of greater value.’
Kirsch was not so impressed with the 2009 inauguration ceremony:
‘In our democratic age, however, poets have always had scruples about exalting leaders in verse. Since the French Revolution, there have been great public poems in English, but almost no great official poems. For modern lyric poets, whose first obligation is to the truth of their own experience, it has only been possible to write well on public themes when the public intersects, or interferes, with that experience–when history usurps privacy.’
‘In “Sea Change,” Graham becomes Prospero, casting spells by spelling out her thoughts to merge with ours, and with the voices of the elements. The result is a mingling of perceptions rather than a broadcasting of opinions. Instead of analysis, the poems encourage emotional involvement with the drastic changes overwhelming us, overwhelm- ing the planet.’
‘Strengths and weaknesses, flows and ebbs, yet every poem in “Sea Change” bears memorable lines, with almost haunting (if we truly have but 10 years to “fix” global warming) images of flora and fauna under siege. Jorie Graham has composed a swan song for Earth.’
What are these poems being asked to do?
Related On This Site: When poetry went into the universities: Repost-From Poemshape: ‘Let Poetry Die’
Philosopher Of Art Denis Dutton of the Arts & Letters Daily argues the arts and Darwin can be sucessfully synthesized: Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’
Conservative Briton Roger Scruton suggests keeping political and aesthetic judgments apart in the humanities:Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment
Roger Scruton In The American Spectator: The New Humanism…From Nigel Warburton’s Site: A Definition of Humanism?…From The City Journal Via Arts And Letters Daily: Andre Glucksman On “The Postmodern Financial Crisis”
‘It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare.’
and from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
‘This type of treatment began in the nineteenth century, when Burke was invoked as an antidote to the confidence of the French Revolution by liberal thinkers who prized its principles, saw their narrowness, and required a sense of historical development to situate them properly in a viable civil society. It was continued when Matthew Arnold tried to treat Burke as a (pre-Home Rule) Gladstonian spokesman about Ireland. It went further still in the twentieth century, when Burke was pressed into service as a counter-revolutionary agent in the anti-Communist cause, and when the twenty-first dawned some treated Burke as proponent of postmodernism.’
From George Will on Stephen Colbert: “What conservatives say is that we will protect you against idealism.” Originalism vs. The living constitution: George Will Via The Jewish World Review: ‘True Self-Government
I tend to agree with the below, that the ACA will further remove health care decisions from many consumers.
‘One ray of sunshine might be an involuntary heightening of the contradictions: The structure of the Affordable Care Act, by removing health care decisions even further from consumers, all but ensures that costs will escalate even faster. At some point, most employers in America will only be able to afford catastrophic health insurance for their employees. If and when that irony busts onto the scene, perhaps real consumer dynamics will emerge, and perhaps America will stumble backward into a Singapore-style system.’
Many people have been brought onto Medicaid rolls under the ACA, and some onto the exchanges, but many incentives are simply backwards, such as inducing young people in their prime to buy-in with carrots and sticks. Under this law, you, me and everyone (in theory) will eventually be forced to join the government-run exchanges.
I could easily see a massive, health-care bureaucratic complex on the time horizon of a few decades; sprawling, good for the politically and culturally well-connected along with a large swathe of people who have enough money and freedom to access it and who would often have other options available, if necessary. They would be accessing near the top, too, where there would be higher-end facilities and better points of access, and this is also where the choice jobs and opportunities would be on the bureaucratic side, as I envision a generational conveyor belt moving through the suburbs, universities and on down to Washington (a permanent coalition of majority Democrats, if other bureaucracies offer any example). People with enough money always tend to have other options, and there would be winners and losers in this set-up just like any other.
Clearly, many poor and working poor would get more care than they got before, early childhood vaccinations and urgent care, some basic access and routine checkups, but again, in a world of limited resources, they would get promises but not always delivery. There would definitely be more availability for some and lots of brochures and ‘nudges’ that usually don’t work as advertised.
Of course, paying for these folks would be many others who are working poor and non-poor who could very easily be getting the short-end of the stick: Paying for all of this and perhaps getting very little in return and having no other options and virtually no political recourse. Such people would be paying for an immovable bureaucracy and more politicians controlling more of the money supply. They would be paying for more union control through the activists who benefit from the law along with the standard corruption and inefficiencies inherent in such systems. Such folks would sometimes be working against their own interests, disincentivized and unfree.
Richard Epstein looks pretty prescient on what the law’s specific challenges are:
‘As I have noted before, there is only one type of reform that can make progress in meeting the three goals of a sensible health care system: cost reduction, quality improvements, and public access. That reform requires massive deregulation of the many market impediments that are already in place. Lower the costs, drop the excessive mandates, and thin out administrative costs, and people will flock back to the system voluntarily’
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’
Related On This Site: From The New England Journal Of Medicine Via CATO: ‘The Constitutionality of the Individual Mandate’From If-Then Knots: Health Care Is Not A Right…But Then Neither Is Property?… From The New Yorker: Atul Gawande On Health Care-”The Cost Conundrum”…Sally Pipes At Forbes: ‘A Plan That Leads Health Care To Nowhere’…Peter Suderman At The WSJ: ‘Obamacare And The Medicaid Mess’…From AEI: ‘Study: ‘Obama Healthcare Reform Raising Costs, Forcing Workers Out Of Existing Plans’