Coming Soon:

Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON THE THOUGHT OF KARL MARX. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for Robert Paul Wolff Marx."

Total Pageviews

Sunday, March 25, 2018


After an early morning walk in ever so light mist and drizzle, I am settling in for a Sunday featuring first, a final review of tomorrow’s lecture, then a de rigeur stint in front of the TV watching Duke play Kansas for a ticket to the Final Four, and finally, the capstone of the day, Anderson Cooper’s interview with every progressive’s favorite porn star, Stormy Daniels.

The lecture is ready, but it is the most important in the series, and I want to make certain my show and tell display boards are in order.  This is the lecture in which I attempt to fulfill my promise to unite the several lines of Marx interpretation in a unified story, to introduce the irony into the equations, as I put it in a deliberately provocative preview.

The Duke/Kansas game is a civic necessity.  When I moved to Chapel Hill nine and a half years ago, I was briefed by local residents on a town ordinance that requires those living within the city limits to root first for the UNC Tar Heels and then, if they lose, for the Duke Blue Devils.  Since I am, like all theoretical anarchists, a good citizen, I shall plunk myself down in front of the tube and cheer Duke to the echo.  For me, this is simply a civic duty, but Susie, who was living in Chapel Hill when her two sons were boys, is a genuine fanatic.

Which brings me to Stormy Daniels.  I hope this interview does Trump some harm.  Hell, I hope he suffers the heartbreak of psoriasis.  But today I should like to express some sympathy for Melania Trump, or, as the Secret Service refers to her, FLOTUS.  By all accounts, Melania Trump is a beautiful, somewhat accomplished woman who has raised a son without the slightest help from her husband.  It is beyond question that she has been aware of her husband’s serial and multiple infidelities, and I leave it to the two of them to deal with that fact in whatever way husbands and wives do.  We all recall [if we are as old as I] that Ike had an on-going affair with his driver Kay Summersby while he was directing the invasion of Europe during WW II, and that  Jack Kennedy was notoriously unfaithful to Jackie, a fact used by J. Edgar Hoover to blackmail him.  Indeed, Truman, Nixon, and Carter seem to have been our most uxorious presidents of late, an unlikely grouping.  But Trump’s public behavior must be a source of constant mortification for his wife.  Try to imagine what it will be like for Mrs. Trump to walk into the White House FLOTUS offices tomorrow morning, well aware that the entire nation, including her own staff, have watched the Cooper interview.  I am not aware of anything she has done that would deserve that sort of public and personal humiliation.  Nor does her son, Barron, deserve it.  To be sure, he will probably grow up to be as appalling as his big brothers, but he is only a child now, and has not yet done anything to earn the ridicule he must suffer.

I will leave for another post my reaction to yesterday’s extraordinary Children’s Crusade.  As the prophet Isaiah tells us [11:6], “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.”  Let it be so.


David said...

The high school students who organized the marches across the country will have their work cut out for them when they go to college if they aspire to awaken a new generation of activism among their older colleagues. It isn't merely that today's college students are focused on their careers because they are assuming large debts to get a college education. What activism we do see on campus is narrowly focused on confronting right-wing extremists (antifa) or hounding a professor who questions the program for a day of activism (Evergreen State College) or protesting the Western-centric curriculum of a mandatory freshman humanities course (Reed College). The high school students will be confronted with the difficult work of inspiring their older colleagues to set aside their campaigns of righteous sensitivities and build constructive movements to challenge political power structures.

On a related note, I attended yesterday's march in Seattle, where a former student and organizer told me that they estimated about 100,000 participated in the march. That seems a reasonable ballpark figure. Qualitatively, this march was quite different in tone than the first women's march in Seattle. The latter was joyful and festive, though tinged with a great deal of anger. Yesterday's march also had its undertones of anger, but it was quieter, more somber (despite the presence of many young people and children) than the women's march.

One other thing: in Seattle, the organizers were overwhelmingly female. My wife, also a high school teacher, wondered out loud why that was. Girls tend to be more socially developed in high school than boys, so that probably has something to do with it, but look at the number of boys from Parkland who were involved in organizing the DC march. Why are there not more boys involved in organizing in our city's high schools?

s. wallerstein said...

I know that I always find something to criticize in what you write and that must irritate you, but anyway, "uxorious" has the meaning (I looked it up) of "foolishly fond or affectionately submissive towards one's wife."

You list Truman, Nixon and Carter (Ford? Bush 2?) as "uxorious", but maybe they were just faithful husbands and there is nothing foolish about that. In fact, the word "uxorious"
has sexist overtones because it suggests that there is something bad in a "real man" being too fond of or submissive towards his wife.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

ho hum

s. wallerstein said...

I'm not sure what "ho hum" means, but perhaps I did not express myself clearly. My intention is not to irritate you. I'm a very critical person myself and I have several very long friendships based on mutual criticism and debate.

We'd probably have to add Obama to our list of faithful or uxorious husbands/presidents.

Howard Berman said...

Are you interested in the final four because of anarchy or capitalism warlike competitiveness?

Charles Rossi said...

If I may break the quiet of the day on a tangential topic. We who are fortunate enough to be associated with the universalist educational and civilizational program of the University of Pennsylvania (founded, as we are often reminded, by Benjamin Franklin, who believed that Germans were a "tawny people" who did not represent the pure great white race of English and Anglo Saxon immigrants to our colony)are sometimes faced with the particularist comments of our colleagues who promote the latest in whiteness. Professor Amy Wax of the Penn Law School has become a heroine to some in the "conservative" nether regions of academic criticism. However, we at Penn are fortunate to have strong voices in opposition to the inanity of such as Professor Wax. For example, Professor of Law Tobias Barrington Wolff in the following:

Charles Pigden said...

I would challenge the dictionary. In my book 'uxorious' is not necessarily pejorative. It just means 'wife-loving'. So you could call me uxorious (I have been with the same woman for 41 years and actually married for 38) without any taint of criticism.

Ed Barreras said...

Jimmy Carter lusted in his heart.

s. wallerstein said...

Charles Pidgen,

A successful long-term relationship is something you can be justly proud of.

I checked out "uxorious" in some feminist websites and they point out that there is no corresponding term for a woman who is totally devoted to her husband or male companion.

Thus, "uxorious" singles out a male who is devoted to his wife or female companion, while there is no term which singles out women who are similarly devoted, since women are expected to be totally devoted: it's "normal", part of their "normal" role.

Now I suppose that devoted husbands could use the word "uxorious" as gays use the term
"queer", as a pejorative term which they transform into a positive one as a gesture of rebellion against "common sense" against hegemonic ways of thought.