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Thursday, August 27, 2020


So you go through life thinking nobody cares about you and then out of the blue there comes an email message that makes it all better. This morning, while I was in the midst of a death struggle with the Best Buy Geek squad trying to resolve streaming video issues, this email showed up on my cell phone:

Idiots like you are the reason the Nazis rose to power in Germany.  No one like you should ever have any chance to speak to any students at any university or school in the US.
YOU ARE AN OLD FOOL AND AN IDIOT.  The day you die will be a good one.  If the Chinese virus brings any benefit, let it be your death.
And the trading of labor for compensation is not a capitalist myth or done under capitalist compulsion.  It's a natural state of affairs.  The most natural state.  It has always existed and always will.


Michael said...

A fool AND an idiot? Ouch.

Not sure what sort of response this fellow expects. "Good heavens, you're right! My life has been worse than a waste; I have been duped into the service of Evil, and misled countless young minds with my example. Thank you, generous sir/madam, for bringing this to my attention. If only I had been made aware sooner..."

(Also, what's that invisible button at the end of the message? I don't want to click it.)

Stephen Hemingway said...

His message was a bit too subtle for me. Maybe he could have been more explicit.

He must be a lot of fun on the home front.

s. wallerstein said...

This type of hate mail can be traced. I don't know exactly what the law is about hate mail
is in the U.S., but you might make it known in your blog that in the future if you receive any more hate mail, you will speak to your lawyer. You might also make it known that your son is a law professor and hence, is in contact with the best professional specialists among attorneys.

In a climate of hate where a 17 year old neo-Nazi shots and kills two anti-racist protesters in Wisconsin, something that only occurred in the deep south during anti-racist protests in the 60's, this kind of ugly hate messages are to be expected, but never tolerated.

Ed Barreras said...

With the election approaching, expect even more shrieking hysteria from he trolls. Honestly, it’s hard to contemplate how pathetic your life must be for you to even begin thinking of composing an email like this. These cowards love to send anonymous emails from their basements. They would never say this kind of thing to someone’s face who wouldn’t take kindly to being called a piece of shit.

Danny said...

He only succeeds in reminding me that intellectuals are an elite. But don't, maybe, let it go to your head. Blind knee-jerk hatred of capitalism, or else I don't know what, made a leading intellectual such as Lion Feuchtwanger – one of the most successful German-language writers of the 20th century – pen these lines in his travelogue about a visit to Moscow, published in 1937:

“One breathes again when one comes from this oppressive atmosphere of a counterfeit democracy and hypocritical humanism into the invigorating atmosphere of the Soviet Union. Here there is no hiding behind mystical, meaningless slogans, but a sober ethics prevails, really ‘more geometrico constructa,’ and this ethics alone determines the plan according to which the Union is being built up.”

Ecrasez said...

I thought it was the Nazis that caused the rise to power of the Nazis, not the Communists? Oh well, history was never my strong point.

Good health, prof!

Jerry Fresia said...

I think s.wallerstein's point ought to be heeded.

This comment is amusing on one level but ought not be dismissed simply as
a wing nut response. We live in dangerous times. Worth investigating.

Anonymous said...

I agree with S. Wallerstein and Jerry Fresia. You should make this known to your son, who may give you advice on how best to proceed. At any event, don't delete the email and don't press that button.

By the way, you are not the first person receiving that kind of message either. A few days back I found this comment in the comment thread of another blog:

Have you been able to find DustyEsky’s version of the Soviet National Anthem online? Still cannot.

The Red Army Choir version is fantastic. I particularly like listening to it while I polish my pistol. But I have to take care that I don’t cause a discharge in a moment of heightened fervour!

That blogger earned that because, among other things, he mentioned Marx's Critique of the Gotha Programme and that during his youth, decades ago, he had frequented a bookstore from the Communist Party. Over there a woman had given him oranges. Imagine that.


Anonymous said...

I find the last part fascinating. He's protesting a little bit too much there. It's almost as if conservatives are terrified that it is pointed out that this state of affairs is exactly not natural. Of all the things he could have said, this is what was at the forefront of his mind: Prof. Wolff dares to say that capitalism isn't natural.

(I don't doubt that people have always traded their labour for compensation, but that it is the basis of the economic order is just false).

LFC said...

There is a difference between generic hate mail and email that threatens specific harm, physical or other.

This is generic hate mail, not email that contains threats. I therefore think, contrary to the opinions of s.w. and others above, that it would be a waste of Prof Wolff's time to pursue the matter.

Keep in mind that his email address is right at the top of this blog. That means anyone w an internet connection who stumbles on this blog can send him an email. So I think this kind of hate email, while unpleasant to be sure, is not all that surprising.

C said...

I think it's funny that he attempted to provide something resembling a rational argument at the end of his hate email:

"And the trading of labor for compensation is not a capitalist myth or done under capitalist compulsion. It's a natural state of affairs. The most natural state. It has always existed and always will."

Counterexample: slavery. Slaves labored very hard without compensation. Yes, their masters provided them minimal food, clothing, and shelter but did not pay them any wages. So I think one can reasonably say that slaves labored without compensation. Thus, trading labor for compensation is not the "most natural state" that "has always existed and always will."

Other counterexamples of labor without compensation: unpaid internships and volunteer work.

Also, the language quoted above reminds me of the language justifying political/economic/racial inequality. For example: "Inequality is the natural state of affairs. Contrary to the Declaration of Independence, not all men (or humans) are created equal. Inequality has always existed and always will." See Alexander Stephens's Cornerstone Speech. I'm not saying the person who wrote the email believes in the above (although that wouldn't surprise me); I'm just pointing out the similarity in language.

In any case, the person who wrote the nasty email should really read an introductory book on critical reasoning or philosophy. If you want to make a rational argument for capitalism (whether Ayn Rand, libertarian capitalism, or welfare state capitalism) on this blog, then go ahead. If you want to make a rational argument against Marxism, communism, socialism, or FDR liberalism, then go ahead. But be aware that this blog has many highly educated readers with philosophy BAs, PhDs, and/or other graduate degrees. So be prepared for debate and intellectual competition.

Michael Llenos said...

"Idiots **** *** are the reason the Nazis rose to power in Germany"

But we don't really have Nazis in America. We just have neo-Nazis. And it seems that neo-Nazis support President Trump over Biden. And Dr. Wolff is politically in favor of Biden...

And if the writer is calling Dr. Wolff a communist, it seems contradictory, since Russia is more communist than the USA, and President Trump is in very great favor towards Russia and their policies towards the USA. And Biden is not. And, again, Dr. Wolff is instead politically in favor of Biden...

I have nothing against President Trump or Putin or Russia, but this writer who emailed Dr. Wolff seems to be making too many blaring contradictions in his declarations. My advice for the writer is to write more logically and less hatefully. And to not email Dr. Wolff anymore, please. Now I believe in freedom of the press but not freedom of nefariousness and complete contradiction. And I admit, although, I have made many contradictions in my past statements, I believe this writer has crossed the line of no return.

Michael Llenos said...

I don't know why I said 'line of no return' instead of 'point of no return?' I believe I was thinking too much about the PC games of Total War.

Michael Llenos said...


Whether you play Napoleon or Rome or Medieval in the Total War series, on each battlefield there is a area of departure where you cannot go into but the enemy or you can flee into if you lose the Battle.

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