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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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

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."




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Thursday, July 19, 2018

DOING GOD'S WORK

Well, I got hold of a database of the 397 residents of Carolina Meadows who are registered Democrats and cleaned it up so that I could use it to generate personalized letters from me asking for money for the young man running here in the NC 6th CD to upset right wing Freedom Caucus Republican Mark Walker.  Today, I drafted a letter and had it copied 400 times at the UPS store.  Then I merge printed the 397 letters with address and greeting.  After that I generated 397 matching envelopes.  I will turn them over to the campaign so that volunteers can fold and stuff them, put in return envelopes, seal them, stamp them and send them out.

Needless to say, this does not quite rise to the level of deep thinking about Das Kapital, but it just might help us flip one more seat in November.

I am reminded of this delicious passage from Kierkegaard's great short masterpiece, Philosophical Fragments:  "When Philip threatened to lay siege to the city of Corinth and all its inhabitants hastily bestirred themselves in defense, some polishing weapons, some gathering stones, some repairing the walls, Diogenes seeing all this hurriedly folded his mantle about him and began to roll his tub zealously back and forth through the streets. When he was asked why he did this he replied that he wished to be busy like all the rest, and rolled his tub lest he should be the only idler among so many industrious citizens. Such conduct is at any rate not sophistical, if Aristotle be right in describing sophistry as the art of making money." 

3 comments:

LFC said...

Completely off topic.

Henry Kissinger had a recent piece in The Atlantic in which he worries about artificial intelligence (searching on "kissinger artifical intelligence" will get you to it). I've not yet done more than skim it, but there's something gag-worthy about Kissinger, of all people, worrying about machines that are not "governed by ethical or philosophical norms" [sic].

A reaction to the Kissinger piece at the site Boing Boing, which I've also only skimmed, may go a tad overboard in equating Kissinger's crimes with those of Pol Pot and Stalin. (Though it's true that an innocent victim of the U.S. bombing of Cambodia and an innocent victim of Pol Pot's killing fields were equally dead.) Anyway, just thought some here might be interested...

Jerry Fresia said...


Great quote from Kierkegaard; it explains a lot.

LFC: I don't think you are giving Kissinger his due. In Stalin we see the butchery of a mechanic. In Pol Pot, the work of a thug. But in Kissinger we see the hand and cunning of a true master. Who else has multiple mass murders under his belt, who has received a freaking Nobel Peace Prize, and is feted to this day as a statesman of the highest caliber.

In Hitchens' The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Hitchens' bill of indictment ("identifiable crimes") "include:" 1). deliberate mass killing of civilian populations in Indochina; 2). deliberate collusion in mass murder and later in assassination in Bangladesh; 3).the personal suborning and planning of murder, of a senior constitutional officer in a democratic nation - Chile - with which the US was not at war; 4). personal involvement in a plan to murder the head of state in the democratic nation of Cyprus; 5). the incitement and enabling of genocide in East Timor; 6). personal involvement in a plan to kidnap and murder a journalist living in Washington,DC.

And who could forget (given the current talk of treason and the surveilling of government officials by the FBI) Kissinger's role in consciously sabotaging the Vietnam peace negotiations in Paris in the fall of 1968, resulting in the deaths of an additional 30,000 Americans? Come, come! By measures of variety, body count, global reach, and sheer contempt for democracy, Henry the K probably stands alone. Clearly journalists, intellectuals, and others responsible for the indoctrination of the American public, over the decades, have been busily and unreflectively, like all the rest, rolling tubs around.

s. wallerstein said...

Kissinger vs. Stalin.

I'm eliminating Pol Pot because I can't see that he did anything good.

We'll look at things in pure consequentialist terms, the greatest good for the greatest number. Individual human lives have no importance, mere colateral damage.

Stalin industrialized the Soviet Union and raised the standard of living, the educational level and the quality of healthcare for hundreds of millions of Soviet citizens. After a bad start (the pact with Hitler), he defeated fascism and thus, saved Europe from the worst political system on record, fascism.

Kissinger reached the agreement with the Vietnamese which ended decades of war, leading to a lasting peace in the region. He reached an agreement with the Chinese which allowed China to participate in the global economy (capitalist) system, thus raising the standard of living of hundreds of millions of Chinese and allowing the rest of us access to low cost consumer goods (my computer and probably yours). Once again, we're looking at the big picture, not at minor variables like the exploitation and suffering of Chinese workers who make our computers and I-phones.

All in all, I suppose that we could make the case that Stalin did more good than Kissinger since I doubt that Kissinger was concerned with living standards in China and low cost I-phones when he reached his deal with Mao and Stalin consciously did aim at raising living standards in the Soviet Union. Still, there we are bringing in intentions, not just consequences. Maybe Stalin had "better" intentions.

However, victors write history and Kissinger's side won, thanks to him to a certain extent, and I suppose that Kissinger's positive role in the official version of history is due to a conscious or even unconscious recognition that his crimes and virtues led to the victory of those who are writing the history books.