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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A THREAT AND AN OPPORTUNITY

Another primary day has come and gone, and once again, the right wing crazies have unseated viable, electable Republican candidates for national office. Everybody's favorite, I am sure, is Christine O'Donnell, now anointed as the Republican standard-bearer for the Delaware senatorial seat vacated by Joe Biden. O'Donnell is of course most famous for her strong stand against masturbation. O'Donnell's opponent, eminently electable Republican Mike Castle, has apparently declined to endorse her. As one wag put it, "Mike told her to go f**k herself, which of course she won't do."

The assault by the Tea Partiers on the Republican establishment is a threat and an opportunity. The threat is that in this dismal off-year election, these troglodytes will actually get elected, and spend the next six years making Jon Kyl and Jeff Sessions look sane. The opportunity is that if we can mobilize our voters, we can defeat these appalling characters, hold onto the Senate, and maybe even hold on to the House as well.

But to do this, we must get off our collective bums and start campaigning. It is not necessary to change minds -- always difficult in door to door canvassing. There are enough safe Democratic votes out there to do the trick, if we can just get them to the polls and let their reflexes do the rest.

This is not the time to rehearse your disappointments with the Obama administration. If you think it is not worlds better than what is slouching toward Bethlehem waiting to be born, you are seriously deluding yourselves. "The best lack all conviction, while the worst/ Are full of passionate intensity."

12 comments:

Chris said...

Me and my leftist friend have a curt quip we make about why we prefer Bush and the tea party to Obama; at least with those guys, we know in advance what kind of policy we are getting, albeit it's abominable. I always knew where Cheney stands for instance!

Snurp said...

Chris, if you're being serious (I'm not totally sure), this really doesn't seem like the right time to make "devil you know" arguments unless you think Obama might do not only abominable things, but things more abominable than what Bush did and the Tea Party would do. It's clear that Obama is not the leftist that some still want to think, but it's also clear that he's far left of the Tea Party; at his worst he's basically Bush, but even Bush is left of the Tea Party, and Obama is certainly not always at his worst. Whatever mysteries Obama has, there's no secret Tea Partier behind there, and as long as that's the case it seems ridiculous to not be for Obama over the current opposition, regardless of how you feel about him. That seems the whole point of this blog post; hold your nose if you have to, but recognize your choices for what they are: center versus so-far-right-it's-out-of-rational-comprehension.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Thank you, Snurp [snurp?]. I agree completely. I am growing weary of flip refusals to engage with the world as it actually is, on the grounds that it is not as you would like it to be. No candidate who shares my political views could ever be elected president in this country. That is simply a fact of life. But if you have lost your house, or are faced with impossible medical bills, you damned well can tell the difference between the party that gave us the economic policies that are destroying you and the party that gave us social security and medicare and is committed to protecting these and other social safety nets. If you have no interest in the well-being of those who are hurt by the policies of the Republican Party, then stop calling yourself a leftie or a radical and acknowledge that you are simply apolitical.

Chris said...

Snurp, I think there is a slight misunderstanding. I do not mean to imply that Obama has 'worse' policies; I was only saying that when the Neocons were in office, predicting their policy was extremely easy. Obama's not so much. Hence, "at least with those guys, we know in advance what kind of policy we are getting." it's only a joke. Trying to lighten the mood.

Chris said...

Although, Chris Hedges, a very astute political commentator, makes the contention that democrats cannot save citizens from the right; and he's definitely of the far left.

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/do_not_pity_the_democrats_20100913/

GTChristie said...

This may be the year the neocons shot the elephant. Wouldn't it be funny if the only hope for moderate Republicans like me is ... Democrats. Please be advised (and if so inclined, reassured) there is a lot of wailing and gnashing going on within the center-right. Enjoy! LOL.

Eric said...

As a Marxist, I feel compelled to agree mostly with Hedges's article. That said, I will still be doing everything within my power to elect Elaine Marshall rather than the abominable Richard Burr, as I'm sure Prof Wolff will also. Some politicians are clearly preferable to others, no matter how much one may hate the system they serve.

By the way, if you are ever interested in canvassing with the UNC Young Democrats, I am sure they (or we, I suppose I should say) would appreciate your help!

Robert Paul Wolff said...

I have been canvassing with what I thought was the standard Democratic group in the Chapel Hill area --- Diane Robertson's org. --- but I would be delighted to canvass with the UNC Young Democrats. Do you work mostly with UNC students, or in the area generally?

Chris said...

Eric, Hedges point was specifically that working with the Democrats is the wrong choice...Oh well.

Eric said...

I realize that, Chris, but I see no contradiction between striving to build socialist alternatives while at the same time fighting against arch-reactionaries with every resource available at our disposal. I think it is silly to believe that any given Democrat is no better than any given Republican, or, heaven forbid, tea-bagger. I also think it is silly to believe that a genuinely attractive leftist alternative will be constructed in the U.S. within a period of a few months. And I don't believe Hedges thinks this is likely ever to happen; he is one of the most pessimistic columnists I have read. Should we put faith in the party apparatus, in what Badiou calls "parliamentary fetishism", and in "hope" and "change"? Should we be excited about the Democrats or any other centre-right liberal party? Absolutely not. We must be without illusion. But at the same time we must be without the illusion that small changes make absolutely no difference in the lives of real people. The Fourth Internationalist was on campus for the past week talking with any students who would listen. Fran├žois, one of the organizers with whom I spoke, seemed genuinely shocked at the political apathy and comfortable bourgeois liberalism he encountered, perhaps understandable since he studied at Nanterre in the wake of May '68. But where is the Trotskyist revolution for which the ICL has been constructing a vanguard party? It hasn't materialized. I doubt it ever will.

Professor Wolff, the UNC Young Dems is a student-run organization that I am tangentially involved with. I don't have many details, but I can ask around and shoot you an email if you are interested. I know that last Saturday a group canvassed in Orange County, and that this Saturday they are canvassing in Alamance. It is a weekly thing, if I'm not mistaken.

High Arka said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
High Arka said...

I wasn't able to get an answer last time, so I'll try again. How many children does Obama (if it helps you, replace with "the Obama administration") have to kill before it no longer matters that its evil is "lesser"?

How many, Old, Wealthy White Male Blogger? Or is there no limit?

Can any quantity of unjust death stir your soul? I suspect, from your lofty dismissal of disagreement, that you long ago tore out those nerves to make your way respectably toward your current status in America. But I'm still curious.

How many dead kids? Anything less than infinity?