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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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

To contact me about organizing, email me at rpwolff750@gmail.com




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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

FOLLOW UP

This is a further elaboration of the reply I posted to Ann's comment on my long post, "Where We Are Now." It is natural to focus one's attention on the Tea Partiers, and to decry their looniness. But it would be a very serious mistake to imagine that the fundamental shape of American foreign and domestic affairs has been importantly shaped by them and their many predecessors. If one wishes to locate the roots of our policy of permanent war, look to the Foreign Affairs Council, to the sober, respectable, moderate, thoughtful men and women of American public life, to William Fulbright and Mike Mansfield, to Joe Biden and Madeleine Albright, to Hillary Clinton and Zbigniew Brzezinski, yes even to Henry Kissinger. Look to every Senator who has ever chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee or Senate Armed Services Committee, to every Secretary of Defense since the post was created. I cannot think of a single major public figure since World War II who has questioned the foundations of American foreign policy [with the possible exception of Henry Wallace, but I am not sure about him --- I was only fourteen at the time.]

For a while, to be sure, American military policy was driven by the objective technological facts of the delivery of nuclear warheads. But that technology settled down forty years ago. [If anyone is actually interested in this, I would be happy to post a long explanation. At one point in my life, I was an expert on the subject, and wrote a book about it that I never succeeded in getting published.]

The crazies in American politics are dangerous, but they are not the explanation for the shape of post-World War II American foreign and military policy. Nor, needless to say, are they and their ilk the cause of economic inequality in America, any more than fever blisters are the cause of an infection.

2 comments:

Ann said...

This reminds me of Seymour Melman's book "The Permanent War Economy." I think part of the explanation is old-fashioned Keynesian stimulus......That is, war is good for the economy..... and part is due to the inherent structure of the liberal state, as I suggested in the earlier reply.

At least some economists, including Kenneth Arrow, have founded an organization for economists against the war(s).

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Yes, but NOT an organization against the entire orientation of American foreign policy -- that is my point. The question is not whether this or that war is a good idea. There has always been disagreement about that. The question is about the fundamental orientation of American policy for the past 70 years.