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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Friday, March 26, 2010

THE NARCISSISM OF SMALL DIFFERENCES

Ever since the attack by the youthful Marx and Engels on their former comrades, the Young Hegelians [Edgar and Bruno Bauer, etc.], the left has been afflicted by a murderous in-fighting that has resulted in the endless splintering of tiny bands of revolutionaries. It seems that the closer two radicals are to one another in ideology, the more deadly their wars, as though the real danger to socialism were not the hostility of the entire capitalist world, but the minute differences separating Schachtmanites from Luxembourgeois. At the University of Massachusetts, when a happy series of unexpected circumstances led to the simultaneous hiring of five tenured Marxist economists in the Economics Department, the first thing they did was to split into two opposed groups.

Freud had a felicitous phrase for the psycho-dynamics of this sort of thing. He called it "the narcissism of small differences."

I am happy to report that this affliction of self-destruction seems now to have been visited upon the right in America. The latest evidence is the vitriolic reaction of folks at the American Enterprise Institute to the departure of David Frum. Frum says he was fired as a result of donor pressure. Charles Murray, who describes himself as a long-time close friend of Frum and his wife, calls this a despicable calumny and says that this judgment will no doubt lead to the end of the friendship. [For those who are totally clueless, hit the internet and find Frum's very recent opinion piece calling the Republican hostility to health care reform a strategic Waterloo.]

Perhaps I should not go on. As Napoleon is reputed to have said to one of his Marshals during a battle, "When your enemy is making a mistake, do not interrupt him."

5 comments:

NotHobbes said...

Would that be the same Charles Murray of bell curve notoriety?

Robert Paul Wolff said...

I think so.

NotHobbes said...

Hmmmmm..Think I`ll buy a tub of popcorn and watch US news channels tonight.
;-)

Ann said...

Don't buy American popcorn, though - too much saturated fat and sodium
:-)

NotHobbes said...

While speaking of all things American, may I ask if you(or any of Wolffpack) can give insight to work of Diane Arbus?
There is an exhibition opening in town this week and intimation from she who must be obeyed is that visit is on the agenda
A treat in store, or wholesale bore?