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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Monday, December 19, 2016

PASSING THE TIME

Waiting patiently today while the Electoral College, with far too few “faithless electors,” officially chooses Donald J. Trump as our next President, we would do well to recall that we won this election by any rational measure.  We won it by almost three million votes with a candidate whom none of us liked, a candidate with so many weaknesses and flaws as a candidate that it is remarkable she did so well.  Our first and overriding task is to find ways to minimize the harm Trump is going to do to the nation.  We must support all efforts in Congress to block his destructive moves and those of the Republicans.  We owe that to the most vulnerable among us.  It is useful to remind ourselves that in every state casting its electoral votes today for Trump, there are millions of men and women who voted against him.  It is convenient to think of the nation as divided into blue and red states, but in Alabama, in South Carolina, in Texas, and yes, in North Carolina, benighted though it is, there are strong men and women who fought against the narcissistic fascist buffoon as hard as those who fought successfully in California, New York, or Massachusetts.

We each need to find some one thing that we enjoy doing in the coming struggle, something that we can be counted on to continue doing for years on end.  For some of us, it will be organizing.  For others, it will be following the lead of someone else who is doing the organizing.  Some of us will give money, some will write and circulate petitions, still others will seek out and participate in public demonstrations.  It will be easy to do this at first, when our blood boils at each offense, each assault on freedom, each act of grotesque buffoonery.  But after a while, quotidian life will reassert itself and we will grow weary of efforts that seem not to bear fruit.  This is why it is so important to discover ways of acting politically that one enjoys for themselves.

I learned this myself through my involvement with the struggle against apartheid.  I marched, I protested, I demonstrated, I managed to get myself arrested, but it turned out that none of those modes of action was, as they say in the trade, ego-syntonic for me, so when the spotlight shifted elsewhere, I stopped.  But I did discover that I rather enjoyed raising money by mailing thousands of letters generated out of my home computer, so I stuck to that, and for twenty-five years raised enough money to send sixteen hundred poor Black young men and women to historically Black universities in South Africa.  This was, by no stretch of imagination, the most important thing I could have done, but it was after all, worth doing, and because I enjoyed it, I kept at it for a quarter of a century.


Nowadays, of course, mostly what I do is express opinions on this blog, and though that no doubt has some value, the market for opinions is currently experiencing a glut, so I shall have to find some additional mode of action to supplement my bloviating.  Whatever I find, I had better enjoy it, because this is going to be a long march.

3 comments:

David said...

Professor Wolff, I've been following your blog since your first articles on Thomas Piketty's book (ah, those were the days) and I've always found it thought-provoking, informative, and even inspiring. Now, with the election of Donald Trump, I find your articles to be a kind of lifeline of sanity, good sense, intelligence, and humanity. Please keep writing.

Also please know that there are people all across the country who are organizing and who are ready to fight the good fight. For example, I continue to work for solidarity within my union, to help my students organize politically, and to support my Latino students and their parents to learn more about their rights. Next month my wife and I will join other union members in descending on our state capital to demonstrate for public education funding. My wife is also planning to participate in our city's auxiliary to the million women's march.

Is there more that we can do? Undoubtedly. We, like everyone else, are figuring this out as we go along. As the students say, we are "woke" and we're going to stay "woke."

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Thank you, David. If I can be any help at all, I am delighted. It sounds as though you and your wife are doing a great deal. God willing, here are millions like you!

Daniel Langlois said...

'the market for opinions is currently experiencing a glut'

I'm going to take this reference to supply and demand for a mere sarcastic remark or battle cry, taunts and jeers, but I'll tarry to explain -- it appears to be a reference to supply and demand, perhaps one of the most fundamental concepts of economics and the backbone of a market economy. But, I thought that we (Professor Wolff and company) were Marxist economists and skeptics of the idea that the relationship between demand and supply underlie the forces behind the allocation of resources. Apparently, we do know the laws of supply and demand? This is not the NFL there are no taunting penalties I'm just genuinely curious.