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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

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Monday, January 23, 2017


One of the things you learn when you start teaching at a university is that although graduate students can probably handle being required just to write a final “term paper” for a course, undergraduates need some along-the-way feedback and evaluation to help them produce acceptable work.  Well, when it comes to the sort of political action we are trying to undertake in the wake of the Trump victory, we are all undergraduates, so there needs to be some way to keep track of what we are doing and keep our spirits up.  How can I help?

Here is an idea I had while taking the garbage out to the dumpster behind my condo building [I lead a rather romantic life.]  Suppose each Friday, everyone who wants to makes a comment on this blog about what he or she has done in the last week.  I will copy all the reports into a text and post it.  Folks can get some psychic credit for their efforts and also pick up tips from other people’s reports.  If enough people take the trouble to report in, and if people actually DO something, we can create the sense that in this little corner of the blogosphere, we are on the march.

What do you think?


One of my devices for avoiding the sight of Trump's face on television has been to binge watch a rather large amount of the schlock series called Defiance.  No need for me to sketch the lineaments of the story.  Suffice it to say that one of the seven extraterrestrial races to have shown up in post-apocalyptic St. Louis is a group of very, very white people who bath communally and have a heightened sense of honor.  When one of them has done something really bad, he is strung up by hands and feet on a "shaming rack," the ropes of which are pulled tighter and tighter as each member of their little band comes forward and drops another rock in a basket until the poor slob is torn apart.  Very poetic.

I just called the offices of my two North Carolina Republican senators and left a message opposing Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education.   I think of this as two more tiny pebbles in the basket of the shaming rack.




Following up on the DML post:  Would someone tell this geezer what a "slack" is?


DML posted this as a comment, but not everyone reads comments, so I am reposting it here.  I suspect we are going to have to take on and defeat the party regulars before we can really make some progress.

"A few things to be aware of:

1. For reasons I don't know, the Our Revolution people have been a lot more organized around California. The Democratic party recently had its party reorganization there, where low level party leaders are elected, and they turned out pretty massively to elect a majority of delegates. These are usually low key, under-the-radar, low attendance meetings, that are attended by party insiders, but this year, most of the caucuses were jam packed. Good story about it here:

Our Revolution is trying to replicate this everywhere, but different states reorganize at different times (Maryland, where I live, doesn't do it for two more years), and they are trying to research the process and prioritize; more states are reorganizing over the next few weeks. You need to join their site, and then you'll get a Slack (kind of like Facebook) invitation, which is where a lot of the online action is around this.

2. I've also been informed of this.

Its targeting swing congressional districts, and directing willing volunteers where to put their energies. I don't know much about it, but it seems worthy.

3. The Women's March website has a "10 things in 100 days" program. Thing #1 is to send a post-card (that you download from their site) to your legislator about an issue. I'm a little dubious about this. I think phone calls are more effective, BUT I now know of two different "postcard parties" being hosted this week, where you drop by, hang out, and write your postcard (the hosts have everything set up to do this). I'm going to one tomorrow more for the solidarity and fellowship than the postcard itself. This could be a good tool for face to face organizing.

4. Finally, its worth noting, that this massively successful march had zero to do with the Democratic party. Its "official" leaders (Schumer, Pelosi etc.) were no where to be seen, and all of the DNC chair candidates were at a high dollar donor retreat in Florida along with the detestable David Brock. I can think of no better display of the complete disconnect between the party, and the people it purports to represent."


Well, the marches are over.  They were a spectacular international success.  Not bad for a woman in Hawaii who posted an appeal on FaceBook.  Now we must ask, as is everyone, what do we do next?  There is no single answer, and it is a waste of time to argue about it.  I will say again, as I have said so often, Find something you like to do and keep doing it.  I will write for this blog, not because I imagine for a moment that it is important, but because I enjoy it and know that I will continue to do it until I grow senile or my little fingers become too stiff to type.

If you are casting about for things to do, here are several, lifted from Michael Moore and others.

1.  Donate such money as you can afford to any of the countless organizations marching in the right direction.  In my neck of the woods, a Starbucks coffee and biscotti cost about $4.19.  Forego that once a month and click on “make it monthly” when PayPal asks you for your credit card info.  If two million people give $5 a month each, that is $120 million a year, more than enough to make a real difference.

2.  Google your Senators and Representative, find their local offices, and call them once a week to urge them to do whatever is on your mind that week.  Currently, asking them to vote against Jeff Sessions or Betsy DeVos for cabinet posts is a good one.  Don’t anguish over the message.  Nobody but the poor schlub answering the phone will ever hear it.  But the call will be counted, and there is a good deal of evidence that even several hundred calls to an elected politician’s office make an impression.

3.   If you have the bad luck to be living in a Republican controlled state, Google your State Rep and Senator and make calls to them.  The smaller the district and the more local the elected representative, the bigger the impact of those calls.

4.   When OurRevolution gets its act together and puts up its interactive list of local groups, join one.  I am not about to be a community organizer, what with my obligations at home and my age, but I can certainly join a group and go to a meeting from time to time.

We are just getting started, folks, and from the evidence of the past two days, we have plenty of company.

Sunday, January 22, 2017


The reports you all are posting of marches in your cities are remarkable and enormously encouraging.  But since I am, when all is said and done, a pedant, not an organizer, I will pause to give voice to an utterly irrelevant pet peeve.  I apologize for the interruption.  The revolution will continue momentarily.

For a variety of reason having mostly to do with its mongrel pedigree, English exhibits a distinction between what are called strong and weak verbs.  Weak verbs form the past tense by adding "ed."  I walk, I walked, I cook, I cooked, I kiss, I kissed.  Strong verbs form the past tense by altering the present tense itself:  I run, I ran, I bring, I brought, I think, I thought, I fly, I flew [except when I am playing baseball, in which case I fly to left field, I flied to left field, not I flew.]

"Freight" is a noun meaning, roughly, cargo put aboard a ship or truck.  It was originally the present tense of the verb "to freight," which is to say "to load with goods for transport."  The past tense of freight is fraught.

So, to say of a situation that it is fraught with significance or danger is essentially to say that the situation is loaded or weighed down with significance or danger as though [metaphorically] with cargo.

It doesn't make any sense to describe a situation, simpliciter, as fraught.

Now, back to the revolution.