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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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, February 27, 2017

A CLARIFICATION

The lengthy and thoughtful comments suggest to me that I have failed to make myself clear, for which I apologize.   I was not speculating about the desirability of cooperating with the existing leaders of the Democratic Party.  I was speculating about taking the Party over.  My point about bureaucracy was that the Party, as an existing functioning bureaucracy, is a potentially valuable resource that it would be very difficult to duplicate [not impossible, just very difficult.]  If we were to create a third party, it too would be a bureaucracy, of course.  Bureaucracy is not a disease or a moral failing;  it is  way of organzing and managing large and compolex undertakings.

Perhaps an example will make my point clearer.  In many states [but not all], a network of regulations and laws make it very difficult for third parties to get on the ballot, or to exercise influence on state legislatures once they do.  This is no accident, of course.  It is a consequence of deliberate and intentional steps taken by the local Democratic and Republican Parties [steps that would, I assume, be imitated by a newly triumphant Socialist Party, were one to come into existence and win control of the state legislature.]  

If a left movement were to take control of a state Democratic Party, as has happened in some states, it would step into an existing structure that secured and magnified its power, a bureaucratic structure designed to take advantage of the rules and regulations put in place by earlier occupants of that structure.

It is not self-evident that this is a more promising path to take, but it is certainly worth considering without one's mind being clouded by hatred for those now occuping the structure.  Think of it as moving into a well-appointed and smoothly functioning house built by one's mortal enemy.  Superstition to one side, the moral failings of the previous occupant do not lurk in the shadows waiting to do one harm.  And if some of the floor plan does not suit one's purpsoes, a little renovation is not impossible.

8 comments:

TheDudeDiogenes said...

I enjoy your metaphor about moving into a house and superstition, Prof.

To reiterate and elucidate what I meant in the previous thread, unless there were to be a renewal of civic engagement the likes of which the US (and perhaps any current major world power) has never seen, the Democratic party is the only game in town. Until such a time as that utopian dream is achievable (i.e. never), I can see no way forward (however distasteful) except if the Democratic party can regain power nationally and in the States.

I think that will require giving up all hope of ideological purity. I would vastly prefer that all Democrats were progressive/liberal/socialist/whatever, but I would support a Blue Dog Democrat, as long as they were decidedly against Trump's agenda. (Support in an election where, say, they are running in a deep red district and would likely have a higher chance at winning than a Bernie-esque Dem. Maybe that's just triangulation under a different name, but as I expressed in the other thread, my hope for the party and the country is basically non-existent, so if it's sacrificing anything, it's a small sacrifice.)

TheDudeDiogenes said...

Why am I so pessimistic? I just heard a Muslim immigrant woman on NPR who supported Trump, thinks he's been doing good work regarding jobs since taking office (no specifics offered), and she hopes that Trump will speak out against rising hate crimes against Native Americans, and Jewish, Muslim, and other religious minorities.

Anyone who still holds any hope that Trump will "be a president for all Americans" is, quite frankly, delusional. I cannot comprehend how any thinking person can still hold on to hope that Trump will become "presidential" (or that he can change in any way for the better). What world do these people live in?!

Chris said...

TDD,
She was on Maher too. So frustrating.

s. wallerstein said...

The people who run the Democratic Party are smarter than you and I are. I don't mean that they understand Kant better than you do, but that they have years and years of experience outwitting and conning innocent souls like you and me, promising one thing and delivering another, destroying rivals in infights that you and I would not dirty our hands to engage in, bending the rules for their own benefit and those of their pals and donnors. They have too much at stake in terms of power and money to yield "their Party" to a bunch of do-gooders and egg-heads like you and I with a smile and a handshake. If they lose on paper, they'll sabotage everything we do to make sure that their triumphal comeback is rapid.

They'll always win because they're smarter and less scrupulous than you and I are, unless we start over with new alternative movements, organize other innocents and potential reborn innocents.

TheDudeDiogenes said...

s.wallerstein: I agree with much of what you say. I would disagree with you about innocence, though. Riffing off Camus, I don't believe that any of us are innocent (though obviously we're not all equally guilty).

s. wallerstein said...

Dude Diogenes,

I'm not claiming to be a saint or a model of virtue. I agree that none of us are totally innocent in the sense that Camus refers to (The Fall?).

However, I was using the word "innocent" not to signify "without guilt", but to mean "ingenuous", "easily duped by the smart guys", "unaware of the unwritten rules", "unaware of the real intentions and motives, having to do with power, of most politicians and easily taken in by their lofty discourse".

I'll have to reread Camus's the Fall. I'll put it on my reading list.

TheDudeDiogenes said...

s. wallerstein: Apologies, I certainly didn't mean to impugn you! I find your comments some of the most perceptive and informative on this blog.

Yes, "The Fall" is probably where Camus most famously discusses guilt vs innocence, and that's part of it, but I was more thinking of "The Rebel", where Camus brings up the yogi and the commissar. Just as we cannot morally be murderers (commissars), neither can we morally be yogis, who live on a mountain top "above it all" (so to speak).

So, in the context of the DNC, I don't think it's somehow morally wrong to try to use the DNC bureaucracy as opposed to trying to build a more pure third party. Since ideological purity will result in pointless purges of group members (the commissar) or ineffectual candidates (yogis who try to live above it all), I reject it in terms of what maybe could be called a "principled pragmatism". In short, reducing Republican party power is more important at this time than maintaining an ideologically pure Democrat party. Trump is not Hitler, but Communists and Capitalists joined forces to defeat him. In that respect, I welcome (almost) anyone who opposes Trump.

s. wallerstein said...

Dude Diogenes,

I didn't think that you were impugning me. You were simply questioning my use of the word "innocent". Thank you for your kind words of praise about my comments.