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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A FIRST REPLY TO CHRIS

I am back now from taking my wife to the doctor, and I wanted to share the initial reply I sent to Chris, who sent his lengthy response to me as an email.

Dear Chris,

Thank you for your long and thoughtful message.  I am afraid I owe you an apology.  It is really Robert Shore that I was irritated with, that and the general depression that hangs over us all these days.  I agree with much of what you say, and where I disagree, it is over tactics, where I do not think my opinion carrries any great weight.  I think, the realities being what they are, we shall have to work with a great many Democrats with whom we have profound disagreements, and I do not much like that, but it seems to me to be the reality we face.  It is, at this point, another month before the really bad things start, and already we can see a great many people weakening, making deals, trying to claim that everything is normal.

About one thing I am quite sure.  There will be no "revolution," if by that we mean something on the order of Russia or China.  Any changes we make will have to be legislated, enacted, signed off on by a president, and all that.  Therefore it seems to me we have no choice but to work with people we would normally view as enemies.  I think folks like me, whose personal circumstances make them relatively secure, have a greater obligation to fight and struggle than those, like you, who are less safe.  It takes very little courage for me to say what I do.  It takes a great deal more for you to do the same.

Well, I must take my wife to the doctor, but I felt you deserved some response right away.

More later.

Best,

Bob Wolff
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7 comments:

Larry Hamelin said...

About one thing I am quite sure. There will be no "revolution," if by that we mean something on the order of Russia or China. Any changes we make will have to be legislated, enacted, signed off on by a president, and all that. Therefore it seems to me we have no choice but to work with people we would normally view as enemies.

I think you are mistaken. And I think this is why people might be throwing Clinton in your face. I've heard this line since literally 1980 when Reagan was elected, and it has been used to excuse the Democratic party's 30 assault on the working class. But you stand to lose lose nothing by abandoning the working class and focusing on the status, security, and prosperity of your own class, which the Democratic party surely will at least erode less quickly than the Republicans.

I wish you the best of luck, because technocratic neoliberal oppression is better than absolute authoritarian rule, but I want to be an actual socialist, so I can neither join you nor support you.

s. wallerstein said...

There is a lot of space inbetween technological neoliberal oppression and revolutions like the ones in Russia and China (which, by the way, didn't turn out so well in the long-term).

What about what Sanders proposed during the primary campaign? Social democracy, the welfare state (call it what you will): isn't that worth struggling for? Stuff like free single payer medical and dental care, free university education, free childcare, etc.

s. wallerstein said...

Typo:

My first sentence above should read: "there's a lot of space between technocratic neoliberal oppression and..."

levinebar said...

Karl Marx was right in parts of his analysis, and wrong in much of his theory. Nowhere was he more spectacularly wrong than in his tenet that the only real change is revolutionary change. The advent of labor unions, and weekends, and workplace health standards, and fire-codes and social security....all constitute real change without revolution. The plight of the worker has not sunk steadily towards ever more misery. Bizarrely, the belief in revolution as the only real change is the only aspect of Marx that Steve Bannon has embraced. And it's Bannon (if not Dugin) that guides Trump's "political philosophy" if those words can be put together (Wittgenstein spins in his grave)
happy holidays,
Barry Haskell Levine (levinebar)

Ed Barreras said...

Larry,

Can you give a brief sketch about how you think this non-electoral revolution will unfold? Trying to overthrow the government is an exhilarating idea, but it also seems like a good way to get yourself instantly killed. I don't want to be killed. I'd rather take my chances with "technocratic neoliberal oppression," which is at least tolerable, and which stands a chance of being substantially reformed from within.

Speaking of, your focus on the world since 1980 seems rather parochial. Our current form of electoral politics left room for great strides to be made by the working class during the 1930s. And while it's true that the labor union movement, for example, was often resisted by state violence, in the end the unions emerged victorious while the state remained intact. The end result wasn't pure socialism, but it was at least a step in the right direction.

Chris said...

Apology much appreciated and accepted, and I hope your wife is well.

I think the core debate as to whether or not supporting all dems versus just progressive dems, to stop Trump, is paramount. Right now I have no way to decide with conviction which side is right though. Does anybody?

Anonymous said...

I find it chilling how the present discussion reminds me of another discussion I've read about.

Take this, for instance

Karl Marx was right in parts of his analysis, and wrong in much of his theory. Nowhere was he more spectacularly wrong than in his tenet that the only real change is revolutionary change. The advent of labor unions, and weekends, and workplace health standards, and fire-codes and social security....all constitute real change without revolution. The plight of the worker has not sunk steadily towards ever more misery.

It's the realist, pragmatic, moderate, cautious approach. Take Roosevelt's dilemma: federal housing should be extended to blacks; ah, but that would not be realistic. The cautious, pragmatic, realistic thing to do is to leave blacks out. Someday they'll be included.

Instead, we got a working class permanently divided.

The same thing with Obama and the illegal hispanics: someday they will be included.

The welfare state social-democrats claim as their creation was no such thing: it was Bismarck's brain-child. He was no socialist and his welfare state was conceived to stop a movement towards socialism. It was extended to the rest of the so-called first world for political reasons; once the political reasons ceased to be there, bye bye welfare state.

The Lord gave it and the Lord took it away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

That's why we are in the position we are: the self-imposed view of the left as Sisyphus pushing a stone uphill, only to find the stone rolling down the hill.

The left sees its role as constantly begging for crumbs from the table of our masters. That's their realism and pragmatism. Whatever the masters deign to throw at us is greeted as a great popular victory, until one day the masters tire of the exercise.

I want what's mine, now. If one gets what's hers, all get it. If one doesn't get it, nobody gets it.

Bizarrely, the belief in revolution as the only real change is the only aspect of Marx that Steve Bannon has embraced.

Have you stopped to think that perhaps that explains why they are winning?

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People, we are in Hell. Read the dialogue in Pandemonium, book 2 of Paradise Lost. Belial could have penned the quote above.