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Friday, April 29, 2016


I am getting sick and tired of being the punching bag for other people's distress.  So, Bob, put up or shut up.  Next November, you will have a choice:  You can vote for Trump, vote for Clinton, vote for a third party candidate if one happens to appear on your ballot, or not vote.  Choose one and explain right here why you have made that choice.  Those are the only choices you will have.  I don't want to hear about how upset you are at having those choices.  That is the way it is.   Leave me out of it.  I won't be in the voting booth with you, and I won't be printing up your ballot or handing it to you.  Just explain, TAKING EVERYTHING INTO ACCOUNT, what you propose to do, and then justify that choice. 

Let's hear it.


s. wallerstein said...

In the 1989 election, the first after 16 years of the Pinochet dictatorship, the left, that is, the Socialist Party, the Communist Party, and the MIR (Left Revolutionary Movement), three groups decimated by the dictatorship, with thousands of disappeared people from their ranks and tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people, tortured, called on Chileans to vote for Patricio Aylwin, a Christian Democrat, a golpista (pro-coup), a fanatical opponent of the democratically elected socialist government of Salvador Allende, overthrown by Pinochet in 1973.


Because the alternative was Hernan Buchi, Pinochet's pet minister of the hacienda (treasury).

Aylwin won the election. Was he a great president?

No. But it seems that in politics you often choose the lesser evil. And after all, Aylwin, being president was a first step towards the end of Pinochetisimo in Chile.

David from MA said...

I left the "purity" of the Green Party so I could vote for Bernie in the Democratic primaries. Having done that, I must admit to myself that pragmatism meant more to me than purity. So now I must admit -- to abstain from voting for the woman who destroyed Libya and gives lunch talks to her hedge fund buddies -- would be a return to the goodness and light in the sky I abandoned.

Life is like that. Hard choices have to be made.

After voting for Clinton in November I will probably consume a bottle of something and be in a foul mood for several days. But to do anything else would be stupid and childish.

TheDudeDiogenes said...

Prof. Wolff, I am 100% with you on this (despite my virtually lifelong loathing of Clinton as a person).

s. wallerstein: Excellent example!

As Camus might point out, purity is not a live option for humans, and the yogi as surely as the commandant has blood on his hands. (Actually, we probably all have blood on our hands; really all we can do in this world is try to minimize that blood.)

Chris said...

Maybe absolute purity isn't a live option, but certainly absolute bloody hands shouldn't be an option either....

I think my reasonable question in the other post is being ignored, and closeness to Clinton is being overly taken for granted.

s. wallerstein said...


Have you ever read Sartre's play, Dirty Hands?

It's an interesting encounter between a young purist and an experienced activist. Both have something to say. There's a plot too: it's drama, not just a philosophical dialogue. Highly recommended. In my opinion, Sartre's best work of theater.

s. wallerstein said...

the play is free online if anyone is interested. it reads fast and is entertaining.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Chris, I am not ignoring your comment, but I have been busy today. I will try to get to it tomorrow.

David Palmeter said...


Could you tell me where I could find the Camus quote? I'd like to use it in some correspondence with young puritans.

Unknown said...

I'm sorry Bob that you feel I am making you into a punching bag. That was not at all my intent. What I've been trying to say is that your passionate detailed diatribes against Trump, which I basically agree with, coupled with your simply saying that you know and agree with all the arguments against Clinton, tend to minimize what an absolutely dreadful and agonizing choice we are being called upon to make in November.

Robert Shore

Unknown said...

P.S. If you resent my comments so much, Bob, I do hope that you will address in detail Chris' impressive April 28 comment and his associated comment today which make basically the same point I've been trying to make. I hope you don't feel that he's making you into a punching bag too.

Robert Shore

Jerry Fresia said...

Robert Shore, your point is well taken; however, please do not side-step the Professor's challenge. Inquiring minds want to know.

But let me throw this into the "purist"-"pragmatist" hamper: should Bernie go Green? David Lindorff makes a compelling argument: "Sanders and his ardent supporters, in other words, have a unique historic opportunity to shatter the asphyxiating two-party duopoly of two pro-corporate parties that has been the Bermuda Triangle of progressive politics for over a century."

I would love to hear the thoughts of this possibility by readers of this blog, such a "think tank" are we.

Unknown said...


I think it is premature at this point to stake out a definite position. Much can happen between now and November. A little of Keat's negative capability -- a capacity to live with uncertainty -- may be preferable to saying that the die is now cast and you have to decide where you stand as Prof. Wolff is asking me to do.

Robert Shore

Chris said...

Wallerstein I have read it! It's fantastic! I also love The Wall.

s. wallerstein said...


Glad to hear that you enjoyed it too. I like it so much that I'm going to get a copy of it from the public library this afternoon and reread it.

Chris said...

My all time favorite novel, which deals heavily with socialism and getting your hands dirty for a greater good, is In Dubious Battle by John Steinbeck. I highly recommend it to you Wallerstein, especially if you liked Sartre's Dirty Hands. Steinbeck's novel left me stunned and cold for a week. It has impacted me psychologically and philosophically more than other novel I've read. Do check it out.

s. wallerstein said...


Thanks for the recommendation. I'll put Steinbeck on the reading list.

David said...

This really is a tough decision for progressives and even some liberals. To further muddy the waters, there is an interesting article in Salon that argues that there is a silver lining to electing Trump over Clinton:

... the main reason being that debates about issues that are impossible to have with mainstream candidates in power might get some air time for once.

TheDudeDiogenes said...

In this version of The Rebel on page 288, Camus writes: "There is, in fact, no conciliation possible between a god who is totally separated from history and a history purged of all transcendence. Their representatives on earth are, indeed, the yogi and the commissar. But the difference between these two types of men is not, as has been stated, the difference between ineffectual purity and expediency. The former chooses only the ineffectiveness of abstention and the second the ineffectiveness of destruction. Because both reject the conciliatory value that rebellion, on the contrary, reveals, they offer us only two kinds of impotence, both equally removed from reality, that of good and that of evil."

If I'm not mistaken, the commissar (who I mistakenly called the commandant in my previous comment) and the yogi are drawn by Camus from an essay by Arthur Koestler of that name, though I have not read it (Koestler's essay, that is.)