My Stuff

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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Today, around the nation, there are a number of local demonstrations focused on the appalling collection of horrors nominated for the Cabinet.  Susie and I managed to find our way to one noon-time demonstration at the Raleigh, NC office of Senator Thom Tillis, one of this benighted state's two Republican senators [It was Susie's first demonstration ever.]  The temperature wasn't bad, but stiff winds made it feel cold, at least to these ancient bones.  Roughly 130 people gathered to do a little call and response chanting, sing a song or two, and hear speeches.  Since the Senator's office is in a federal building, admission is limited, but two by two we were allowed just barely in the lobby to sign the visitor's book and chat with a pleasant, clueless young woman on the Senator's staff.

A bit of a comedown after the Washington spectacular, but every tiny bit helps.  At the very least, I now know how to get there, so the next time will be easier.  I will add the visit to my end of the week list.

Meanwhile, really bad things are going down in Washington, and it is taking all of my innate good spirits to keep from descending into despair.  The harm that will be done to tens of millions of people by these animals is beyond contemplating.

I do not have the heart right now for some snarky commentary on Trump's pathetic, sociopathic fixation on the relative smallness of his Inauguration Day crowd.  Maybe later.


levinebar said...

press secretary Sean Spicer gave the most trenchant analysis of our president:

"it's demoralizing...when you're continually told, 'It's not big enough'"

Barry H. Levine (levinebar)

Ed Barreras said...

To point to some hopeful signs: There's rumblings about another big demonstration on April 15th, tax day. And with all this news about pipelines and healthcare repeal, it seems a good bet that people will still be in an agitated spirit. Also, the editors at the Guardian (one of the last good papers left) just announced a campaign to go after the minority-president. Let's keep our fingers crossed for evidence of blackmail over those pee tapes.

And did everyone see that amazing clip from inauguration? It shows T***p turn to utter something to Melania, who's standing behind him, after which her smile melts to a pained-looking grimace. I'm starting to think taht this poor woman may be a prisoner, and that Donald is just as bad as we all suspected he was. And then there's Kellyanne Goebbels talking about "alternative facts". I mean, Sweet Jesus!

I had always assumed that Americans must have absorbed the lessons about authoritarianism in Europe during the past century, and that it would take something much worse than the Great Depression for us to slide in that direction. I guess I was wrong. If all this activism doesn't pan out, our only refuge may be the consolations of philosophy. As Hume said: “To the philosopher and historian the madness and imbecile wickedness of mankind ought to appear ordinary events.”

Robert Paul Wolff said...

I consider myself a devoted student of Hume, but I do not know that quote. Where is it from?

J. W. F. said...

The Hume quote apparently comes from a letter he wrote to William Robertson, 27 November 1768.

Ed Barreras said...

It's from a letter to william Robertson. I copied and pasted a version I saw online. However, James Harris's biography quotes Hume as writing "madness & imbecility & wickedness", not "madness and imbecile wickedness."

levinebar said...

the Europeans look at us aghast
replaying errors of another age
as if we had learned nothing from their past
embracing an new politics of rage
eight years ago, the economic slump
threw millions underwater, out of work
and some, in desperation, turned to Trump
entrusting our republic to this jerk
Protectionism makes nobody great
impov'rishing our economic root
short-sighted calculation based on hate
regressing to the age of Hawley-Smoot
new century, but scant sign that we learn
we and our planet are consigned to burn

J. W. F. said...

"At present, I think every day more seriously of retiring to Edinburgh for life. Every event here fills me with indignation, which I cannot command and care not to conceal; and yet to a philosopher and historian the madness and imbecility and wickedness of mankind ought to appear ordinary events."

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Thank you, JWF. Hume never disappoints [save on matters of race, but that is another conversation.]

s. wallerstein said...

Trump is the anti-philosopher par excellence.

If the ideal of the philosopher according to Hume (Hume says that they "ought" to appear ordinary events, not that they do appear as ordinary events) is someone who sees normal human affairs from a critical distance (which does not imply not acting), Trump is the guy who never got out of junior high school in spiritual terms: just like most of us in junior high school, he wants the biggest hands, the biggest cock, the biggest car, the biggest steak, the girl with the biggest tits, because having the biggest is being a winner in the terms of junior high school, simply because most of us at the age of junior high school haven't thought much, if at all, about what really has value.

In her book "Eichmann in Jerusalem" Hannah Arendt famously claims that Eichmann didn't think, not that he wasn't cunning (in fact, he was so cunning that he fooled Arendt according to later writers on the Eichmann trial), but that he never questioned anything critically. While Eichmann never questioned his orders and Trump gives orders, Trump doesn't think either and that's why he's the opposite of the ideal of a philosopher.

DML said...

Here's a nice round up of some of the same actions in other states.

Tom Cathcart said...

The right likes to talk about "starving the beast." I wonder if it's time to think about a mass movement to not pay taxes. I guess most of the money comes from withholding or quarterly estimated taxes, so it would be only symbolic, but is it a good symbol? And how would we even organize it? Not on social media for sure. Somebody in the gov. could be reading this post right now.