Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ONE THROUGH SIX ON IDEOLOGICAL CRITIQUE
LECTURE ONE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbU3yW2xIGE
LECTURE TWO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wASCruPzPY
LECTURE THREE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGrsAGh2tzE
LECTURE FOUR: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWvboYpmhgs
LECTURE FIVE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tL2dcCaCKDk
LECTURE SIX: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Y6L1CvJKR4



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Saturday, February 13, 2016

AN IDLE THOUGHT ON A SLOW SATURDAY

A bit of Googling confirmed my memory that Evangelical Christians have higher divorce rates, higher out-of-wedlock birthrates, and are more likely to Google porn sites than non-believing Jews, for example.  Perhaps Trump is on to something in South Carolina.  I would strongly suggest that Ted Cruz consult Matthew 23, in particular verse 27.  I assume he always has his Bible with him.  

A CURIOUS CIRCUMSTANCE

If Trump wins the fight for the Republican nomination, as I more and more believe he will, there will be four possible match-ups come November:  Trump-Clinton, Trump-Sanders, Trump-Bloomberg-Clinton, Trump-Bloomberg-Sanders.  Three of these four hopefuls live in New York City and the fourth was born in Brooklyn, with the accent to prove it.

When I was a boy, we called a World Series between the Yankees and the Dodgers or the Yankees and the Giants a subway series. This is going to be a subway election.

A STEEP HILL TO CLIMB

As we move into the run-up to the 2016 election, it is worth reminding ourselves what a steep hill either Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton will have to climb.  In the first two and a half centuries of the United States, it was quite common for one party to hold the White House for three or more consecutive terms: Jefferson, Monroe, and John Q. Adams for seven terms, Jackson and Van Buren for three terms, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, and Arthur for four terms, McKinley, Roosevelt and Taft for four terms, Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover for three terms, and of course FDR and Truman for five terms.

But since 1952, only Reagan and George H. W. Bush have managed it [if we do not count Al Gore, who really won in 2000 but had the victory stolen by the Supreme Court.]  I have long thought that Clinton would have a difficult time against a standard conservative Republican and that Sanders would have no chance at all, but if my projections are correct and Trump wins the nomination, I think a trifecta is more than likely.

The South Carolina Republican primary in just seven days is the key.  If Trump's 35% in the polls holds up, and if the other Republican candidates stay in the race through March 1st [so-called Super Tuesday], Trump, I believe, will sweep to the nomination.  

At that point, Bloomberg may announce a third party run, which would ensure a Democratic victory.

Friday, February 12, 2016

A REPLY TO CHRIS

Chris asks a deceptively simple question:  "Given that you've spent so much of your life studying race and class, where do you side on the whole race-class debate? Race is reducible to class? Race is separate but interconnected to class. Race is separate. Etc."

I have written about this before, but it seems appropriate to return to the issue in the context of the current race between Sanders and Clinton for the Democratic nomination, just before the South Carolina primary.

Quite obviously,  neither race nor class is "reducible" to the other, and equally obviously, they are interconnected in endlessly complex ways.  Here, put as simply as I am able, is my view of their differences:

The struggles for gender equality, racial equality, and equality of sexual orientation are all, in my view, struggles for the perfection of capitalism, not its overthrow.   I think Marx was right [and he was not at all alone in this view in the nineteenth century] that capitalism is a revolutionary force whose tendency it is to destroy social, economic, and political differences based on race, gender, religion, ethnicity, or [though Marx would never have said so] sexual orientation.  That is to say, it is the tendency of capitalism to erode or destroy social and economic differences grounded in anything other than one's position in the social relations of production.  Thus capitalism was, when it appeared, and is in its essence, politically progressive and liberal in its orientation.  The ideal capitalist world is a world in which men, women, Blacks, Whites, Gays and Straights are all equally and with rigorous fairness exploited by capital, a world furthermore in which no religious beliefs interfere with the smooth accumulation of capital.

The evidence of the past century strongly suggests that Marx overestimated the power of capitalism to accomplish this transformation of the pre-capitalist world, but he was correct, I think, in its tendency. 

The liberation struggles of women, African-Americans, and the LGBT community are desirable, admirable, essential, and worthy of support and commitment, but they are not, nor have they ever pretended to be, inimical to capitalism itself.

What makes the Sanders campaign extraordinary in American politics is that it is the first campaign in several generations that even hints that capitalism itself is the problem, not the deformations or imperfections of capitalism.  I say "hints" because Bernie is really an FDR liberal, not a genuine socialist in the style of my grandfather [or Eugene V. Debs, to choose a rather more prominent example from the same period of American history.]

Does that help?



LECTURE SIX IS UP

Okay, folks, Lecture Six is available on YouTube.  In the course of the lecture, I made reference to two books,  and promised to post references to them on this blog, so here they are:

Janet Abu-Lughod, BEFORE EUROPEAN HEGEMONY

Eric Wolf, EUROPE AND THE PEOPLE WITHOUT HISTORY

Next week is the last lecture on Wilmsen.  Then on to Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and African-American literary theory.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

INTERESTING DATA

S. Wallerstein asks an interesting question -- were the pro-Sanders under $50,000 voters in New Hampshire working class or just young students on their way to making much more than that eventually?  Here are some data that help to answer that.  It does not in general look good for Bernie.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

MORE FROM THE HOT STOVE LEAGUE

Lecture Six has been delivered, recorded, edited, converted, and stored, ready to be uploaded on Friday, so now perhaps I can return to the primary campaign.  There is growing in me the wisp of a dream of a Sanders presidency.  Bernie is doing very well indeed with white voters whose household income is $50,000 or under [essentially half of all households, more or less], as well as with the young [the figures there defy belief.]  If he can crack the minority vote, which I believe he can, then we may actually see a Trump/Sanders race, in which case Bloomberg will probably run on a third party ticket.  All the commentators think that would hurt the Democrats more than the Republicans, but I think that is wrong.  Bernie would do well with white working class men, the so-called Reagan Democrats to whom Trump is appealing.  Just imagine:  Bernie against two billionaires!  What more could he ask?

Seriously, this is a moment like none other in my lifetime.  Class interests seem to be taking precedence over cultural, religious, or racial and ethnic concerns.  We may have to trot out all the old union songs and update the lyrics.  Where are Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger when we need them?