Radical Academics Jumping Turnstiles, Decadence & Tilting At Windmills

From the NY Post:

‘A New York University professor is one of the masterminds behind the anarchist group that organized the rampage through the subways last month, destroying turnstiles, stranding thousands of commuters and spray-painting “F–k Cops” on station walls.’

Spring 2020 tuition at the NYU Gallatin School of Individual Study seems a little high.  Can’t I just show up at the next rampage for free?  With a mask and a bat?

On that note, Peter Thiel reviews Ross Douthat’s new book.

Sexual, moral and political liberation movements (the ’68ers) have a lot of downside costs.  There’s been lots of talk of freedom, the (S)elf, and intentions, but little talk of responsibilities, other-directed loyalty, and results.

I don’t expect folks caught up in liberation movements to accept that they may, in fact, be responsible for their own behavior as well as the political economy they’re helping to create:

Are we making progress? Not so much, Douthat answers. Baby boomers will wince at his title, since “decadence” sounds to them like the complaint of an old curmudgeon. They cannot stand to think of themselves as old, nor can they bear to think of the society they dominate as dysfunctional. But this is a young man’s book. Douthat can see our sclerotic institutions clearly because his vision is not distorted by out-of-date memories from a more functional era.’

Are you convinced?  Kirkus review here.

Hmmmm…

Mike Shellenberger leaves the environmental reservation.

Would you like more people staying warm, being able to read at night, and eating food without parasites?  Hopefully, yes.  You can still care about the natural world, genuinely sensitive ecosystems, remarkable creatures and, you know, other people.

But wherever you go, there you are. This probably means living in a place, (alas, a Nation), stuck with yourself, your family, your friends, your responsibilities, your duties and your own boredom.

What does scale?

Globally, nuclear energy produces nearly twice as much electricity at half the cost. And nuclear-heavy France pays little more than half as much for electricity that produces one-tenth of the carbon emissions as renewables-heavy, anti-nuclear Germany.

Whatever you may think about conservation and your relationship with the natural world, the environmental movement has become big business, big politics, and big money.

I have never really been a member of what I see as rather Romantically Primitive, collectivist utopian groups, overlapping with Left causes and producing much economy-regulating techno-bureacracy in practice.

It’s good to see some reasonable discussion.

A Link To Tom Wolfe’s ‘The Kingdom Of Speech’ And A Further-Left Cry Against ‘The Mythos Of The Mast Brothers’

Via a reader:  Caitlin Flanagan reviews Tom Wolfe’s new book ‘The Kingdom Of Speech.

Darwin and Chomsky have gotten it wrong, according to Wolfe, it’s speech that gives man his edge.

This will have its appeal, as does an apparent attack on many intellectuals in general:

‘Wolfe’s attack on Chomsky — whom he calls “Noam Charisma” — is precise, scathing and not undeserved. But what, Lord, does this have to do with the topic of language? Precious little. Thank God. But soon enough we’re back on the long march, learning about a Chomskyan principle called — ZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!!!!! — “recursion” and how the language of a Brazilian tribe called the Pirahã presents a significant challenge to that principle.’

Jerry Coyne, ecologist, writing in the Washington Post, was not impressed:

But in fact Wolfe doesn’t even understand the theory he so despises. Evolution, he argues, isn’t a “scientific hypothesis” because nobody’s seen it happen, there’s no observation that could falsify it, it yields no predictions and it doesn’t “illuminate hitherto unknown or baffling areas of science.” Wrong — four times over.

If you’ve read the book, please share your thoughts.

Related On This Site: Where I agree with Chomsky on political matters: Down-twinkles to Stalin.

I often agree with Wolfe’s social conservatism.

“Noam Chomsky: The Last Totalitarian”


You may be familiar with the Mast Brothers, perhaps capitalizers on the desire for a return to craft over mass-production, communalism over ‘impersonal’ market forces.

Well, they were re-examined by the reporter who was previously on a mission against nail-salon social injustice, against whom Reason blogger Jim Epstein pushed-back, to which the Times eventually responded.

That is to say, a reporter, probably, who places value in lots of secular ‘-isms’:

Rick Mast said the backlash had come as a surprise. “To be boiled down to how you dress or how you wear your beard, or where you live — I think it’s a distraction,” he said. “Our chocolate is our No. 1 focus.” On a tour of the main factory next to the Brooklyn Navy Yard alongside his brother on Sunday, the Masts stressed their transparency

Behind the beards are actual men, you know, chocolate-makin’ men who have mingled their business model with the hipster yawp heard over many a rooftop garden in Brooklyn during the last few decades.

Of course, $7.50 chocolate bars may not actually be necessary, but the Mast Brothers invite customers into their process.  They’re giving you bits of their individual Selves to mix with your individual Self as you band together towards the future that awaits….

Few chocolate-makers take pains to mention Mark Twain & Ralph Waldo Emerson in their promo videos:

I’ve been thinking that upon examination, hipsterdom (not necessarily the Mast Brothers) may reveal DNA strands of previous American counter-cultural movements: Some hipsters have adopted milder forms of the bohemianism and cultural withdrawal of the Beats, others the collectivism, activism and ‘social conscience’ of the Hippies (along with many tenets of the feminist and environmentalist movements). Some others still the disposable income and professional ambition of Yuppies (see: Park Slope).

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As postedA similar, but different debate.

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-Steven Pinker, Harvard experimental psychologist and cognitive scientist wrote a piece in the New Republic, entitled: ‘Science Is Not Your Enemy

-Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of the New Republic since the 80′s, responded at The New Republic:  ‘No, Science Doesn’t Have All The Answers.

-Ross Douthat, conservative Catholic columnist at the Times jumped in the fray: ‘The Scientism Of Steve Pinker’ 

-Jerry Coyne, evolutionary biologist, responded to Douthat.

-Wieseltier jumped back in with: ‘Crimes Against Humanities: Now science wants to invade the humanities.  Don’t let it happen.

-Now Daniel Dennett, philosopher, cognitive scientist, one of the New Atheists and Boston-based secularist responds to Wieseltier:

‘Pomposity can be amusing, but pomposity sitting like an oversized hat on top of fear is hilarious. Wieseltier is afraid that the humanities are being overrun by thinkers from outside, who dare to tackle their precious problems—or “problematics” to use the, um, technical term favored by many in the humanities. He is right to be afraid. It is true that there is a crowd of often overconfident scientists impatiently addressing the big questions with scant appreciation of the subtleties unearthed by philosophers and others in the humanities, but the way to deal constructively with this awkward influx is to join forces and educate them, not declare them out of bounds.’

Related On This Site:  Perhaps after Kant’s transcendental idealism, Chomsky really does believe that morality, like Chomsky’s innatist theory of language, is universal and furthermore hard-wired into the brain.  This could lead to a political philosophy of either universalism or nihilism, or at least his retreat into anarchism or anarcho-syndicalism away from such idealism.  There’s little to no room for the individual in such a vision.  Perhaps Chomsky has never seen life, liberty and property and the individual except from such a vantage point:  Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of Knowledge

What about value pluralism…positive and negative liberty?: The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

A reader points out that I’ve put forth no real arguments…: The Politics Of Noam Chomsky-The Dangers Of Kantian Transcendental Idealism?

Martha Nussbaum criticizing Chomsky’s hubris in Martha Nussbaum In Dissent–Violence On The Left: Nandigram And The Communists Of West Bengal

Perhaps Chomsky and Strauss both flirted with Zionism, but they were very different thinkers:…From Peter Berkowitz At Harvard: ‘The Reason Of Revelation: The Jewish Thought Of Leo Strauss’From Darwinian Conservatism By Larry Arnhart: “Surfing Strauss’s Third Wave of Modernity”

Update And Repost-‘Philip Brand Reviews Kay Hymowitz At Real Clear Books: ‘Women on Top, Men at the Bottom’

Full review here.

Man-children?  A war against men? The products of feminism?  An erosion of religious values?:

‘The thrust of Manning Up is different. In her new book, Hymowitz puts economic conditions first — along with the increasing professional accomplishments of women. Preadulthood, she says, is “an adjustment to huge shifts in the economy, one that makes a college education essential to achieving or maintaining a middle-class life.” 

That’s preadulthood for men:

‘Preadulthood — most common among men in their twenties, though it can easily extend to one’s thirties and beyond — is a consequence of two related economic trends that are reshaping the coming-of-age experience for young Americans, both men and women. The first trend is the extended period of training — college and beyond — deemed necessary to succeed in the modern economy. The second trend is women’s participation and flourishing in the new economy.’

There have been many changes going on in American society, which include getting women into the workforce and into college.  I suspect this has partially required the erosion of traditional and religious familial hierarchies and the institutions growing out of them as a model for civil society.

Naturally, social and religious conservatives are less happy with this state of affairs, and there is legitimate criticism that the State will fill the role the family they once held as a model for civil society, especially among lower income folks.

Obviously, we’re not going back to 1962, but men are not just born, they’re made, and now that the culture and institutions that made them is receding, what is taking their place?

Where are the new jobs coming from?:

***Thanks to Malcolm Greenhill for pointing this out.   In response to Megan McArdle’s post “America’s New Mandarins,” it might be worth revisiting Charles Murray’s Coming Apart.  Murray got there first:

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Helen Smith, wife of Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds, has a new book out entitled ‘Men On Strike, Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream-and Why It Matters‘ which suggests the old incentives combined with the new culture is incentivizing men to sit on the sidelines:

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Related On This SiteFrom Will Wilkinson-A Response To Kay Hymowitz: ‘The “Menaissance” and Its Dickscontents’Kay Hymowitz In The The City Journal: Love In The Time Of DarwinismKay Hymowitz In The City Journal: Child-Man In The Promised Land?Kay Hymowitz At The City Journal: ‘How Brooklyn Got Its Groove Back’

From The Chronicle Of Higher Ed Via A & L Daily: Christina Hoff Sommers “Persistent Myths In Feminist Scholarship”Wendy Kaminer At The Atlantic: ‘Sexual Harassment And The Loneliness Of The Civil Libertarian Feminist’

Repost-Revisting Larry Summers: What Did He Say Again?

Update And Repost-A Conversation About Libertarianism

A socially conservative friend pointed out the following:  “Libertarians rise to power against liberalism, because, ultimately, they share the same antipathy toward founding one’s social conventions and morality in the word of God, and the Church.  They will turn upon each other to our benefit.”

I’m not sure who he meant by “our,”  and I mean this genuinely.

I thought about it: Reason magazine is fiscally conservative, railing against the public sector unions in California and the fiscal hole they’ve helped put California in, yet the very same socially liberal and politically left conditions in California that can make unions possible and certainly more powerful could also shared by many libertarians (a broader definition of liberty anyways).  On this view, the society is adrift away from Natural Law and the Church.

Related On This SiteWilliam Saletan and Ross Douthat At Slate: ‘Liberalism Is Stuck Halfway Between Heaven And Earth’…Catholic libertarianism: Youtube Via Reason TV-Judge Napolitano ‘Why Taxation is Theft, Abortion is Murder, & Government is Dangerous’

Douthat’s The Grand New PartyRoss Douthat At First Principles: ‘The Quest for Community in the Age of Obama: Nisbet’s Prescience’

Nussbaum argues that relgion shouldn’t be a source for the moral laws From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum…More on Strauss as I’m skeptical of his hermeticism and his strong reaction to Nietzsche and some things he may have missed about the Anglo tradition: From Philosophy And Polity: ‘Historicism In German Political Theory’From The Selected Writings By And About George Anastaplo: ‘Reason and Revelation: On Leo Strauss’

How does Natural Law Philosophy deal with these problems, and those of knowledge?

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