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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A REPLY TO LFC

LFC asks:  "I'm sure you've dealt with this in your memoirs, but I am interested in the evidentiary basis (as the lawyers would say) for your statement that Walzer supported Nixon during the impeachment proceedings."  I do in fact tell the story in my Memoirs, but here it is again, quoted verbatim from that source:

[I]n the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, I was called in Northampton by a young political scientist in New York who told me that a group of political scientists were trying to raise the money to take a full page ad in the TIMES calling for the impeachment of Nixon.  The TIMES, rather hard-headedly, wanted the money for the ad up front, and this young man was calling to ask whether I could help him reach Barry Moore or Marty Peretz for contributions.  I told him to forget about Barry -- like many upper class types with inherited money, Barry was quite stingy when it came to giving it away.  But I was pretty sure I could reach Marty through Mike.  I phoned Mike, exchanged pleasantries, and then explained why I was calling.  There was a long pause at the other end of the line.  Very softly, Mike said, "well.... you see .... we are supporting Nixon."  I was so astonished that I exploded, asking him what on earth he was talking about.  There was an even longer pause.  Then, in a sweet, sad voice, almost as though he were describing something being done to him, rather than something he was doing, he said, very hesitantly, "Well... you see ... Israel."  Nixon, whatever his crimes, had adopted a strongly pro-Israel policy, and that, it seemed, trumped all other considerations.

I was so embarrassed for Walzer that I got off the phone as fast as I could, and have not talked to him again.  Ever since that time, it has seemed to me that Mike's work, whatever its ostensible subject, is really about Israel.  Freud says somewhere, talking about the conduct of a psychoanalysis, that if there is any subject that it is not permitted to discuss freely in an analysis, sooner or later the entire analysis comes to be about that subject.

 

1 comment:

LFC said...

Thank you for the reply. I've read small parts of your memoirs and sort of recalled the passage, but I didn't remember whether you had spoken on the occasion to Walzer himself. I disagree w/ various positions he's taken at various times (and agree w/ some others) -- I just never thought of him as at all sympathetic to Nixon. That's why I wanted to be reminded of exactly what the conversation was.

It seems quite possible to me -- I don't know for sure -- that this was a position he held only briefly. I suspect one would be hard pressed to find him having said anywhere in print what he said to you on the phone -- though again, I don't know for sure. Anyway, it might be interesting to ask him now if he recalls the conversation and see what, if anything, he has to say about it.

As for all his work "really" being about Israel even when it seems to be about something else (and he's written quite a lot that actually has nothing to do with Israel), I think that's a little too Freudian for me.