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Thursday, April 13, 2017


I am very unhappy with the tone of the comments that are being posted on this blog.  For no reason at all, people have become abusive and insulting.  I understand that feelings are running high, none higher than mine, but there is no chance for a serious progressive movement in this country if you cannot talk courteously even to those whose political orientation is extremely close to your own.  People have differing experiences, differing concerns, differing interpretations of events whose meaning is often obscure.  Even if you are absolutely certain that you are right, you will have no political success at all unless you can unite with literally millions of others across the country.  Trust me, I am older than you are, your chances of finding ten or fifteen million people who agree with you about everything are zero.

So cut it out.


Chris said...

Uh, there's a lot agreement in the post of today, than

Daniel Langlois said...

'Trust me, I am older than you are, your chances of finding ten or fifteen million people who agree with you about everything are zero.'

I am amused at the thought of finding *any* people who agree with me about everything. For example, if we try to agree on a proper name for our 'serious progressive movement in this country', I think we might consider naming it after me. We can all agree that this is not going to happen, but I do take it personally. Also, this talk about 'a serious progressive movement' is rather ambiguous on the matter of whether we are contemplating a total rejection (in theory) of the principles and policies on which America had been founded. I'm particularly considering the understanding of justice -- there are those who cop to a conscious repudiation of the principles of the American founding. For example, the Founders believed that all men are created equal and that they have certain inalienable rights. But maybe that is naive and ahistorical? All are also obliged to obey the natural law, under which we have not only rights but duties. But maybe that is naive and ahistorical? For the Founders, then, there is a natural moral order -- rules discovered by human reason that promote human well-being, rules that can and should guide human life and politics. But maybe that is naive and ahistorical? Man is a social construct. Man is a product of his own history, through which he collectively creates himself. For the Founders, thinking about government began with the recognition that what man is given by nature -- his capacity for reason and the moral law discovered by reason -- is, in the most important respect, more valuable than anything government can give him. Now, I don't insist on the last word about defining our serious progressive movement, but only that or the Founders, the individual's existence and freedom in this crucial respect are not a gift of government. My last word about our serious prgressive movement is, again, that it ought to be named after me. I think my last word counts as 'thoughtful', and I'm willing to think some more about what is 'thoughtful'.

Alexander McColl said...


s. wallerstein said...

Maybe you could formulate a set of rules for commenters. If you don't want to do that yourself, you could name a group of regular commenters to formulate a set of rules for suitable discourse in this blog.

It seems that given the nature of issues we discuss, insults will appear from time to time, and clear rules prohibiting insults or certain types of insults would be useful. The rules should include sanctions for repeated rule breaking, for example, being banned from commenting for a certain period of time.

tom llewellyn said...

The left is notorious for ripping apart their comrades. Remember Stalin's purges? Some of the most intelligent and left-wing professors I had in grad school were noted for being vicious to those who disagreed with them. Especially grad students.

TheDudeDiogenes said...

I thought I recalled the Prof. declining to moderate comments as too much bother. If that is the case (and I think it probably would be), I would rather see comments disabled than see Prof. Wolff decide to stop blogging.

That said, if we small band of commenters can't even manage to remain civil to one another, we are in a sorry state indeed, and probably have litle of value to say about practical politics.

Tom Cathcart said...

A lot of the certitude that the DNC (and more centrist Democrats) must have purely base motives for trying to hold the center-left Democratic coalition together seems to be based on another certitude: that, but for the machinations of the DNC and the professional pols, Bernie would have been nominated and elected. Polls are cited as proof. These polls asked hypothetical questions about how people would vote if Bernie were the nominee. Bernie had--then and now--a free pass from the Republican sleaze machine, because they thought, correctly, that it was Hillary who would be nominated. Those who remember the once-ubiquitous phrase "pinko commie creep" can picture what they would have done to Bernie. Would they have succeeded in sliming him? We don't know. But the professional Dems remember Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern and it scares them. Do pols also have a narrow self-serving interest in their own re-election? Uh-huh. But there is also a legitimate discussion within the party about how far left they can dare to push the agenda and get away with it. It's not an easy question.

Ed-the-Ted said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Edmund Wilson said...

Professor Wolff, I would fully agree with your recommendations. Cordiality isn't just the best policy. It's also the right thing to do, and it makes everyone infinitely happier as a result. A warm, pleasant, amiable and respectful comment section is also just what this brilliant, thought-provoking blog deserves. For young people like me, forward-looking commentary on the passing scene is hard to come by, which is what makes 'The Philosopher's Stone' so special.

Chris said...

"Bernie had--then and now--a free pass from the Republican sleaze machine, because they thought, correctly, that it was Hillary who would be nominated."

But he did not have a free pass from the Hillary sleaze machine which literally accused him of supporting black bagging and murdering of communist dissidents in the Miami debate...

So it's not outrageous to think if his popularity survived the Clinton sleaze machine, it would also survive the Trump one.

Daniel Langlois said...

I am actually perfectly willing to sit around on Easter and debate the facts about what the Hillary sleaze machine literally accused Bernie of, such as of supporting black bagging and murdering of communist dissidents. In the Miami debate, is it? There are multiple reasons not to bother. I find this term 'the Hillary sleaze machine' rather tendentious, to begin with. I admit that maybe we might say that politics can be a rough game. I find it odd, as a choice of emphasis, to be droning about how Hillary Clinton’s campaign had included far too many sleazy manipulations, as it were. If you think that the Clinton campaign seemed to nurture questionable actions from her operatives, supporters, and surrogates, then by all means you must say what you think. Personally, what I think, is that at least we can agree that Clinton spent the bulk of her money on ads and mailings, and she’d taken some pretty problematic approaches there. But I'd add that this is like most candidates. Doesn't make it right, but that isn't why I find it relevant. My question here is not one of defining the idea of fighting fire with fire. Rather, I'm just curious about what pattern it is, that you think is important. You don't like cheap shot artists, eh? Fine, neither do I. I'm not trying to affirm a the tissue of lies and slander..

But then, what is this about the facts about what the Hillary sleaze machine literally accused Bernie of, such as of supporting black bagging and murdering of communist dissidents. In the Miami debate, is it?

Perhaps I seem to think there is a progressive case for Hillary Clinton. That wouldn't be my point. I admit that I like Hillary Clinton and I do not feel remotely conflicted about that. But it's not my point. I think I know something about the qualities she’s exhibited over her long career. But what is this about black bagging and murding of what, now? I am trying to look up this inccident. How do I google this up? It seems like Hillary did something for which, at least, surely, Bernie would have demanded an apology. Either give me a link, or maybe reflect on whether you intend to be on the disinformation book of lists, eh?