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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Thursday, November 24, 2016

GREAT WISDOM FROM MY SON

My son, Professor Tobias Barrington Wolff of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, is one of the wisest people I know.  He has just posted the following lengthy statement on his FaceBook page.  I am going to reproduce it here, not just link to it, because it is so important.


"For my friends who are enthusiastically supporting Jill Stein's effort to pursue recounts and an audit in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin:
I understand the motivation behind the effort, and I appreciate in theory the idea that this will give everyone better information even if it does not change the result. But it is important to understand what this will mean for the incoming President. If indeed the results do not change in this recount, then the entire effort will give the incoming President a powerful moment of symbolic legitimacy at precisely the time when he is flagrantly engaging in a tidal wave of corruption and kleptocracy in order to establish those behaviors as a new normal and intimidate the press and the American people away from challenging him.
This man and the people who surround him understand something that a lot of good people do not: norms and institutions are more important than laws and the enforcement of rules -- and, for predatory opportunists, they are therefore more dangerous. In the vast majority of cases, ordinary people limit their behavior because they wish to abide by norms and respect institutions, not because they will be prosecuted under the law or penalized under a rule. For people with no conscience and no sense of shame, norms and institutions are for chumps. They are also one of the biggest potential obstacles to their ability to act with impunity.
The incoming President and his team are actively seeking to violate norms of responsible behavior in the presidency and institutions like the press that serve as an outside check. When you look at their behavior and shake your head, thinking "But they're being so brazen about it," understand that this is the point. They are trying to shred these norms and delegitimize important institutions in a frontal assault that is so shocking to ordinary people of good conscience that we will feel overwhelmed and won't know how to react. Their goal is to have us acquiesce in all of this without mounting an effective response. If they do that, then those norms and institutions will be gravely weakened. The President and his team will use the very fact that we did not stand up to their outrages the first time to cast us as hypocrites or opportunists if we try to do so down the line.
Giving the incoming President a moment of triumph by prevailing in these recounts will grant him symbolic legitimacy that he will exploit relentlessly at the very moment when he is attempting to establish his outrageous behavior as acceptable and take a torch to the norms and institutions that would place limits on him.
I am not condemning the choice to conduct recounts. But I am deeply concerned. But there is a reason why Secretary Clinton and President Obama have warned people away from this effort, and it is not because they lack courage or a willingness to fight. They understand what this man and his team are, and what they are trying to do."

3 comments:

Jerry Fresia said...

I'm for the recount and I appreciate your point, which I hadn't thought of.

I don't think whatever legitimacy might accrue in the way you describe will
amount to much given that the oath of office will provide indisputable legitimacy.

Further, his meaningful legitimacy, up to now, turns on the fact that a large portion of the US population
that felt abandoned by the Democratic establishment believe that Trump is a breath of fresh air, that he
speaks for them. Recounting an election in which experts are pointing to a myriad of mathematical reg flags
may make the Democratic establishment seem real for a change: it reflects integrity, passion, and boldness that is
sorely lacking. It's energizing at a time when boldness is needed.

Also, a recount, framed properly will make clear already existing tactics of voter suppression and
election fraud such as cross-checking, which seems to have disenfranchised millions of voters who
were likely Democrats nationally and hundreds of thousands in the states in question. So the chance
that this effort will be a wash is zero.

Anonymous said...

What this post is saying is that Democrats should do more of exactly what they have been doing since forever. Unfortunately, those tactics are loser tactics, as can be seen at every level of government in the US. Debating about legitimacy with people who don't care about that word is pointless.

Ask yourself: if the roles were reversed, what would Republicans do? When you arrive at an answer, do that. Because that will probably be a winning tactic. Say what you will about those guys, but they know how to fight. And they're relentless.

Anonymous said...

I definitely see an effort to shame people who question corrupt norms and institutions ("For people with no conscience and no sense of shame, norms and institutions are for chumps."), but wisdom? Sorry, not an iota.