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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016


First, if anyone still cares, the final Kant lecture is here.

I do not have any witty, clever, or thoughtful comments on the election.  Before the election, Trump was a despicable man.  Now, he is a very dangerous man.

Perhaps I will be moved to continue this blog later today.

And no, I shall not be moving to Paris.  For better or worse, I shall spend my declining years in this god forsaken country.  The prospect saddens me profoundly.


s. wallerstein said...

What would be interesting to explore is the hidden Trump vote, the ones who did not identify themselves as Trump voters when they were polled, but in the privacy of the ballot, voted for Trump.

Who are they? What are their "real" political opinions? "Real" is placed between quotation marks because maybe they don't have solid and stable political opinions or maybe they do. I have no idea and anyway, they seem to be people who if you converse with them about politics, will tell you what they believe that you want to hear, not what they think about politics, if they think about politics at all.

An interesting example is the anti-semitic commenter who appeared in the previous thread to gleefully announce that the days of Jewish Marxist hegemony are over. Obviously an anonymous comment. How many "really" think like she (although it's probably a "he" and will be pissed off because I refer to them as a "she", ha ha) does?

Ed Barreras said...

Richard Rorty predicting T***p back in 1997 (quoted by Mark Danner in the New York Review of Books, back in April):

" [M]embers of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers—themselves desperately afraid of being downsized—are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.

At that point, something will crack. The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for—someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots….

One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion…. All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet."

TV said...

I like the pronoun game, better than my anti-fellow-man mini-rant. I do detest men right now, though.

Unknown said...

I think that the post-mortem that the pollsters will conduct to discover what they missed will be interesting. First reports, though, are more prosaic: despite the vaunted Democratic ground game, the key voters—blacks, Latinos, young people—were not heard from to the extent anticipated.

This perennial problem for the Democrats is a real Achilles heel. The Republicans now control the entire government and probably will do so for the next four years. In 2018, more Democratic Senate seats will be up than Republican. Possibly, if things are very grim, the Democrats might the House, but that seems unlikely from today’s perspective—not that things won’t be grim, but that the Democrats could gain enough seats even if, as is likely, grimness is pervasive.

All of this points to the importance of State and local elections, some of which will begin next year. These are vital not only as the breeding ground for national candidates, but because of their impact on our lives: local officials decide public school budgets and what gets taught (evolution by natural selection or creation “science”); public college and university support, restrictions on abortion rights and outrageous gun laws come from state legislatures; state and local prosecutors decide who gets charged for what crime and state and local judges decide how long those convicted spend in prison.

Bernie, I’m sure, will be focusing on these contests. You can set up a monthly contribution that will “painlessly” be charged to your credit card. Go do it.

Ed Barreras said...

Professor Wolf,

I am on the internet but cannot bring myself to look at any media. Not the New York Times, not HuffingtonPost, not UPEC (The Useless Princeton Election Consortium).

I came to your blog very recently. I had only heard of you when Brian Leiter posted links to your lectures on ideological critique. I was intrigued that you are a Marxist philosopher, since I am intrigued by Marxism generally.

Although I consider myself to be on the left -- even the far left -- Marxism has always struck me as one bridge too far. Years ago I read Richard Rorty on politics and found his views agreeable. I still find them agreeable. Contrary to widespread misconception, he is not a neoconservative, as his positions are basically those of Bernie Sanders. (Look at my previous post in this thread to see that Rorty *exactly* predicted Trump back in '97.)

However, not to sound too histrionic -- as if that were possible -- but November 8, 2016 will go down as the day I was radicalized. I do not know if this means I will work to bring about collective ownership of the means of production. But I will work for something that will effect widespread and lasting change -- diligently and loudly.

I will take to the streets, and I will be visiting Washington D.C.on inauguration day. If there are enough of us, we cannot be ignored. And given the recent Occupy Wall Street protests, I suspect there may be enough of us. Perhaps others there will foment violence and I will be in danger. So be it.

Like most of us, I have never experienced anything like this. It is worse than 9/11. My faith in the institutions of society have been swept away in one night. The Democratic Party, neoliberalism, scientific polls, the goodness of the American people -- it is all exposed as a sham.

I will say, though, that over the last five or six hours my bouts of claustrophobic misery have been punctuated by moments of strange clarity -- a clarity that comes, perhaps, only from witnessing an old order die.

I think about my niece and nephew, who are toddlers. And I think about that metastasizing dread we all experienced last night as the outcome became clear. Fifty years hence, will they experience a similar sense of dread, only one much worse, as it is the realization that there is not enough food or water to feed the populace?

No one in government now believes that global climate change is real, and we are just about too late to stop it.

Of course, this is not the space to get into policy. However, one thing that strikes me as urgent, aside from climate change, is reform at the level of the House and Senate. It is obscene that a state as small as North Dakota, with a population of less than a quarter of a million people, has the same number of Senators as California, with its 39 million. Are there concrete ways to bring this about?

Finally, you say that this country is godforsaken. You are right. But God forsook us long ago. In fact, there are no gods. As Wordsworth said, earth is the place where in the end we find happiness -- or not at all.

Chris said...

I'm 30. Can any of the older posters here offer me a glimmer of hope? All I see is Trump with absolute power, no checks and balances since the senate and house and SC are now Republican and they will mirror him to maintain continued support. Given that set of facts, and Clinton has our first show trial, I see fascism as basically inevitable. Someone....hope...please?

Danny said...

I do still care about the Kant lecture ;)

Towards the end, Kant's views on the concept of God and on the attempt to demonstrate God's existence are mentioned, and specifically Kant's objections to the traditional proofs for God's existence. And there is this: 'People went on believing in God 'cuz you can't stop people from doing foolish things'. Now, that may be, but Kant sought to locate the concept of God within a systematically ordered set of basic philosophical principles, right? Indeed, I could say there is Kant's explicit claim that one of the underlying drivers of Transcendental Idealism is to defend faith against theoretical reason. Perhaps it is too bad for Kant, that he was reared in a distinctively religious environment, his Lutheran heritage. Nevertheless, he remained a strong believer in God throughout his life right? There are people who are fairly obviously nothing like Christians such as Hume and Jefferson, as for Kant, I'm not buying the premise that he was an atheist..?

Anonymous said...

I second Daniel Langlois comment.

As for the election, I think that there is now an increased chance that for the first time people inside the US will suffer more under an US administration than those outside of the states. I speak as a European with no sympathies for Trump, but I think that all the talk about him having access to nuclear weapons and the impending danger of nuclear warfare are overblown. What will happen is that his overinflated ego will lead to serious attacks on the media and press freedom. But even the Republican party establishment is against him, so even Fox News will sooner or later turn against him in a serious way. There might be race riots inside the US and serious environmental damage done in the long term due to changes in the Supreme court but as an European I do not care that much about it. With Trump everything is possible, that also means something positive like less nation building like that under Hillary. And Europe's migration crisis is a direct result of Clinton's failed foreign "strategy".

Due to Trump's volatile nature it is hard to predict the future. Most likely he will break his promises on things like TTP and TTIP, but maybe his ego is so receptive to opinion of the populus (he, after all, won as a populist) that he will follow the people's will rather than that of the elites.

Interesting times surely, but please ignore too smug Europeans making fun of you. You got a surprise wake-up call. You can only hope that this means long-lasting change in the "Democratic" party, which effectively shot itself in the foot by sabotaging Sanders and abandoning inner-party democracy.

One last thing. Obama was hailed as a saviour after Bush but evidently was just another elite thinking about his legacy. Now this legacy is evaporating!

s. wallerstein said...


The United States is too culturally, ethnically and racially diverse a society for 1930's style fascism to occur, but I have no idea exactly what will occur.

Chris said...

Obama left behind the WORST levers for fascist power.
The NDAA, the assassination program, the drone program, the legal execution of American citizens without due process, and a surveillance state that makes 1984 look tame, and expanding the war powers act in the Libyan invasion (I event debated Wolff on this blog about that!). Liberals had their heads in the sand the whole time arguing overall Obama is a nice guy, at least he's not Romney or Bush, not realizing he was turning the state into the worst repressive apparatus for a future republican we will ever see. Put all that in the hands of Trump, and then try resistance....

Do we have a more diverse culture than Nazi Germany? Yes. Do we have a far more omnipotent and omniscient state....yes. And not a single element of congress to block Trump...

s. wallerstein said...


We differ on what "fascist" means, but otherwise, I agree about what you say about the United States government. However, I've never expected much from the U.S. government (I came of age in the era of Viet Nam and the coup in Chile) besides promoting a certain hypocritical political correctness, and it seems that with Trump that certain hypocritical political correctness will no longer be the official line of the chief executive.

As a result, I fear that the worst elements in American life, the racists, the misogynists, the gun worshippers, the McCarthyites, the queer-bashers, etc. will feel justified and free to emerge from the closet or the wood-work. That may not technically be fascism, but it will not a pleasant society to live in for those of us who value the life of the mind and the freedom to be weird.

Ken Gemes said...

It is hard to know what Trump will do. But as for a genuinely fascist regime in the US, that could be world depression level crisis way. When a majority of the population feels economically squeezed a Trump gets in. When they are facing a total economic meltdown they, like 1930's Germany, will be susceptible to much worse siren songs.

AP said...

Thank you for the great lectures on KANT a real gift.

Unknown said...

Good vibes. Everyday, all day. God Bless :)