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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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

Thursday, September 24, 2020

I checked

I called the Chatham County Board of Elections and I think I am okay.  The nice young lady at the other end of the phone told me that my vote has already been scanned into the system and will be reported on election day along with the votes cast that day. Now if only the rest of the country had the same system we would be in pretty good shape, but it doesn't, and we aren't.


s. wallerstein said...

I'm happy to hear that you don't have to go to vote. It's a huge risk for someone your age and worse because you live with another person your age and in a community with people even older than you are. There's always a few people in any line, such as a line to vote, who take their masks off or have a mask that is not put on right and they tend to be people with whom it's not prudent to get into an argument.

Whether he loses by one vote or by hundred million votes, Trump is not going to concede easily. I'm not sure if he plans to become dictator or just wants a complete pardon for himself, his family and a few of his pals. Leiter the other day suggests that if it's not a Democratic landslide, ruling class pressure on Republicans will decide things.

That's because if there's a long crisis, the stock market will fall, the dollars will crash, capital will flee, etc. A general strike, suggested by someone in a previous thread, also seems like a good idea.

Of course if it's Wall St. and/or the Pentagon, who eventually get rid of Trump, you're going to be in a whole new ball game, where Joe Biden will be beholden to Wall St. and/or the Pentagon even more than he is now. There's no going back to "normal" now: the world post Trump is going to be a different world and it may not be a pretty one.

Eric said...

Now I am really frightened....
If that is not the case, then I need to find out how I can take that back and vote early in person. Some slight risk of the virus is a chance I may have to take.

Glad to hear things seem to have worked out all right for you. But, seriously, Professor, you need to chill. Your & Susie's votes are not that critical. If they are, Biden and the other candidates you voted for have MUCH bigger problems. Your staying healthy enough over the next few years to be able to keep donating proceeds from book sales, or to serve on a jury should you be called, or to continue your lectures series and do more Skype/Zoom interviews seems to me to be of far greater consequence to the world than your casting a single ballot.

If you need to take your mind off the election, listen to some music. Are you familiar with Maurice Duruflé? I love his piece Prélude et fugue sur le nom d'Alain (Op 7), especially the last third of the fugue. There are a number of versions available on Youtube. There's a recording made by Duruflé himself, but I can't recommend it for someone who's never heard the piece because the recording, or its rendering on Youtube, is of very low quality. I prefer the version by his wife, Marie-Madeleine, because the sounds in that recording are very clean and clear (unfortunately the piece is broken into two separate videos): I. Prélude and II. Fugue.

Or, if you'd prefer to follow along with the score, there's a version by Vincent Warnier, also playing the organ at Duruflé's old church, Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, in the 5th arrondissement. (I prefer Marie-Madeleine's version over Warnier's because he hesitates throughout parts of the fugue in a way that she does not. Maybe he didn't have an assistant and was adjusting the organ stops.)

The piece was dedicated to a friend of the composer who was killed in WWII, Jehan Alain. You can read a little background on it in this blog post.

If you are more in the mood for something lighter, less cerebral, here's another French composer for you, Alexandre Guilmant—his Sonate pour orgue no. 1 en ré mineur (Op 42) performed by Ian Tracey & the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orch.
(If you're really missing Paris, there's a version of the final movement performed as an organ solo by the great Olivier Latry at Notre-Dame de Paris, pre-conflagration.)

Jerry Fresia said...


I'm not sure how someone with a vast knowledge of the US experience, not to mention having family members murdered in the Holocaust, can choose to "chill."

One feels what one feels and, for good reason, I would argue - the Cartesian Framework not withstanding.

Eric said...

@Jerry, I apologize if that came across as callous or flippant. The choice of words ("chill") was an attempt at a bit of levity. I did not mean to suggest that the worries expressed by RPW and others here (such as Unknown/MS @ 6:45pm on Sept 20) are not valid or that they are trivial. It's entirely understandable that many are feeling very apprehensive about what will happen in the election. I certainly am.

The point I was trying to make is that it doesn't do anyone any good for us to let worries over events almost entirely beyond our control provoke us into taking unnecessary risks that could have very serious consequences and lead to deep regret in the future. As individuals, we have almost zero control over what will happen in the election. We have quite a bit of control over where we focus our attention and the extent to which we allow others, including Trump and the media, who profit off of stoking fear, to manipulate how we feel.

Eric said...


I've only been following this blog for a month or two, but all of the non-anonymous commenters seem to be men, or at least seem to be posing as men.

Where are all the wimmins?

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Eric, I don't know. That has puzzled and concerned me for some time, but in this medium, there is noting I can do about it.

Jerry Fresia said...

Eric, no need to apologize and I too have thought about the gender issue. I have been commenting for a few years and I remember one woman commenting a couple of times and last week I think I saw Johanna commenting. No doubt there are female readers. Professor, has it been your experience that philosophy majors are disproportionately men, at least compared to the other social science disciplines? I remember your STEPIC program at UMass to have drawn in many women and in the poly sci department where I was, the star theorists were women. In terms of minorities, similar dynamic it seems. Too many "white dead thinkers" in philosophy?

Interestingly, an old grad student friend sent me a link to a major award given to an African American, Walter Mosely, who once studied as a grad student in the poly sci department at UMass when I was there. He just received the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters:

His list of literary accomplishments are truly extraordinary. In his Wiki page, there is no mention of poly sci/UMass, however. It must not have contributed much to his development as a writer/thinker.

s. wallerstein said...

There are no regular women commenters in another U.S. philosophy blog where I participate and in my Chilean online group women only appear to announce women's activities or to correct sexist comments.

My guess is that women are subject to so much sexual harassment, so many sexist comments or microaggressions in public space that they avoid public discussions in otherwise male environments unless they know the participants involved and here there are many anonymous commenters who can say potentially hurtful things, not to mention a Trump supporter who accuses women who abort of being murderers.

Perhaps you (Professor Wolff) should establish explicit and public guidelines limiting sexist comments and microaggressions against women and banning those who violate those guidelines.

Back in the early 1970's when I was first exposed to the feminist movement, I saw so much progress in dealing with sexism that I innocently assumed that men and women would soon be equal and that gender roles would disappear. That has not happened at all and we can see from the Trump movement that sexism and misogyny may well be on the rise. We should not take any advances in dealing with sexism for granted.

Anonymous said...

A little female interaction would probably do a world of good for some of the folks here.

Jerry Fresia said... the risk of coming across as Mr.Feminist....I thought s.w. was making some good points, to wit:

"My guess is that women are subject to so much sexual harassment, so many sexist comments or microaggressions in public space that they avoid public discussions in otherwise male environments...."

jeffrey g kessen said...

A little less Commenting by the previous Anonymous would do this blog " a world of good". Trolls are so tediously predictable in their machinations.

s. wallerstein said...

For women who are likely to want to comment in a blog by a Marxist and anarchist philosopher,
reproductive rights such as the right to an abortion are as basic as the end of Jim Crow is for African-Americans. Yes, I know that the analogy is not perfect, but politics is largely based on symbolic meanings and I believe that for many progressive women, reproductive rights have the same symbolic weight as the end of Jim Crow does for African-Americans.

I'm not saying that all Trump supporters should be banned from this space, but those who speak against women's reproductive rights should be treated just as a person in favor of Jim Crow would.

Anonymous said...

Jim Crow is morally equivalent to the prevention of killing unborn babies? Interesting.

Michael said...

It might strike many as a counterintuitive or extreme comparison. But really, I'm not sure what would be wrong with calling them morally equivalent. On reflection, the differences seem insignificant. Essentially, both are very objectionable and offensive, but some people might wish to defend them (even fanatically) on the basis of rationales that pretty obviously don't withstand scrutiny.

In the case of Jim Crow, the rationales appear to be of two sorts. One sort is the flagrantly racist. The other sort I would describe as so flimsy that it arouses the suspicion that it's just plain intellectual dishonesty, a cover for people who are (but don't wish to appear) flagrantly racist.

(E.g., Wikipedia on Jim Crow: "One rationale for the systematic exclusion of African Americans from southern public society was that it was for their own protection. An early 20th-century scholar suggested that allowing black people to attend white schools would mean 'constantly subjecting them to adverse feeling and opinion,' which might lead to 'a morbid race consciousness.' This perspective took anti-black sentiment for granted, because bigotry was widespread in the South after slavery became a racial caste system.")

In the case of "the prevention of killing unborn babies," similarly, the rationales - e.g., those invoking divine command or an implausibly robust personhood - are so odd or irrelevant as to seem patently sophistical; one suspects they're simply a cover for people's hostility (religiously motivated or otherwise) to women's sexual and reproductive autonomy.

The just-quoted expression, for instance ("the prevention of killing unborn babies"), practically takes it for granted that the morally salient feature of preventing abortion is its preserving the lives of unborn humans - rather than, say, its forcing women to undergo pregnancy and child-birth against their will. It implicitly denies that there's any moral grey area to abortion; it implies that the woman who consents to undergo an abortion is essentially a party to the wanton killing of children (and that, as such, she may well require paternalistic intervention) - in contrast to, say, a person doing her best to make a complex and deeply personal moral decision.