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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

YET ANOTHER EARLY MORNING MEDITATION


Having nothing better to do, I spent my early morning walk today imagining what Hunter Biden might say, were he called before the Senate as a rebuttal witness, so to speak, to John Bolton [those being the names at the top of the Democratic and Republican wish lists.]  Here is how I imagined it could go.  Names, dates, and other details to be supplied, of course.

“In 2015 [?], I was contacted by a representative of the Burisma corporation, a natural gas company in Kyiv, Ukraine.  I was offered a seat on the board of the company at a monthly salary of $50,000.  I have no knowledge of or experience in the fossil fuel industry, and I do not read, write, or speak Ukrainian or Russian.  I am not a fool.  It was perfectly obvious to me that the sole interest of the Burisma company in me was my relationship to my father, who was then Vice-President of the United States.  [This next part is tricky, and depends on the provable facts.]  I immediately recognized that I had a choice among three options:  I could reject the offer out of hand as unacceptably sleazy; I could accept the offer and attempt to use my connection to the sitting Vice-President to corruptly influence American policy toward Ukraine and the Burisma company; or I could accept the offer, scrupulously avoid the slightest mention of the position or the company to my father, and take the crooks for the fifty thou a month they were offering.  I immediately rejected the second option, and after some deliberation chose the third.  My choice was sleazy but not illegal.

Why did I take the money in return for doing nothing?  Because I have had a troubled life, during which I have struggled with drug addiction, and I wanted the money.  Why then did I refuse to play ball with Burisma?  Because I  love my father, who has suffered unimaginable personal losses during his life, and although I am morally compromised, I simply refused to put my father in the position of having to choose between his principles and his only surviving son.

That is the sum and substance of my connection with the facts of this trial.  Were my actions worthy of condemnation?  Of course.  Do they in any way reflect badly, or indeed at all on my father?  Not at all.

Let me add one final comment, not as an excuse for my choices but to provide some context that may be useful.  This Senate chamber is currently occupied by one hundred duly elected United States Senators, a not inconsiderable number of whom have profited in the past or will profit in the future from choices morally comparable to those I made.

Now I am ready to answer your questions.”

6 comments:

s. wallerstein said...

Questions: didn't you realize that sooner or later your taking that job would become publicly known and could compromise your father's political future? It's hard to imagine that you didn't realize that and if you love your father so much, why did you do something that would be sure to stain his political career? Maybe there is some ambivalence that you refuse to recognize in your love for your father? Envy? Unconscious hostility? An unresolved Oedipus complex that comes back to haunt your family so late in the game?

Charles Pigden said...

Wallerstein's question are interesting ones but are not really germane to the moral and political issues. It would be absolutely wonderful if Hunter Biden made a statement along the lines you suggest, but I am not sure if has the mental and moral clarity to do so. There is is a good chance he will flub, bluster and fluster on the stand if he is called (which he probably will be if the thing shapes up to being a proper trial)

J. Fleming said...

If this has been posted previously then please excuse me. If not, then it is certainly an interesting perspective.
https://consortiumnews.com/2020/01/13/documentary-released-monday-sheds-new-light-on-ukrainegate/

s. wallerstein said...

Charles Pigden,

You're most probably right that Hunter Biden lacks the mental and moral clarity to say the kind of thing Professor Wolff outlines above. And given that, he also lacks the mental and moral clarity to analyze the ambivalences underlying his relation with his father.

Chilean president Michelle Bachelet's son and daughter-in-law got involved in some sleazy business deals claiming falsely to be able to influence Michelle Bachelet to favor the business interests of the people involved. When questioned publicly about the whole affair (which almost destroyed Bachelet's second term, 2014-2018 and sank the progressive reforms which she had proposed), her son accepts no blame and accuses a rightwing plot against him and his mother. One wonders how an intelligent and apparently ethically scrupulous political figure like Michelle Bachelet has a petty con-man and conspicuous consumer (he had a special weakness for Lexus convertibles) for a son, but children often model themselves after aspects of their parents which their parents don't display and even repress.

Michael Llenos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

A rare nonsequitur by Wolff, emotions coming through instead of thoughts in my humble opinion. Herder, Saussure, Vuk, Trubetzkoy, jakobson, McQuown, Pike, Bloomfield, Greenburg, Trager all addressed in their different ways how thoughts, speech, emotion change culture and perhaps this is what is happening presently. If Descartes were alive today he would have said be damned with my thoughts I feel, and hence, truly think I am. This is 2020. Lets call the whole thing off and think this miserable planet out of existence. The language is bringing the problems.