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Monday, January 25, 2021


This essay published five days ago by Anne Applebaum is deeply depressing and very persuasive.  If she is right, and it is hard to disagree, this country has a far larger problem than even I realized.


Anonymous said...

Well, I disagree. I do not believe that matters are as dire as Ms. Applebaum portrays them. In the short term (in this case the short term probably exceeds my, and sorry Prof. Wolff, your life time), the only-Trumpers will be a problem. But they will dissipate in a generation or less. Why do I believe this? Consider the Civil War, in which some 90% (at least) of the Southerners supported slavery. It took approximately 90 years to overcome that despicable attitude, which continued in the form of Jim Crow racism from 1876 (when federal troops were removed from the South) until 1964, when the Civil Rights Act was enacted. While racist sentiments persisted, and still persist, they are not nearly as virulent as they once were, and with younger people are becoming less and less prevalent.

Compare what attitudes bind the only-Trumpers? What, exactly? What philosophy of Trump binds them – he has no concrete philosophy other than resentment of the powers that be. That is not, in my opinion, as sufficiently cohesive as the Southern support for slavery was in the 19th and early 20th century. In addition, their attitude is not as readily transmissible to the offspring of the only-Trumpers as the Jim Crow attitudes of the post-Civil War Southerners were. Ms. Appelbaum’s comparison to the problems of the FARC in Colombia, and the potential retreat of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys into the mountains, is flimsy. Moreover, I believe Ms. Applebaum, by labeling a large proportion of the only-Trumpers as “seditionists,” is grossly exaggerating the prominence of this attitude among the only-Trumpers. Most of the Trump supporters who showed up in Washington on Jan. 6 did not engage in storming the Capitol building. I predict that within 15-20 years, perhaps less, their influence on politics will have dissipated to being negligible. This is longer than we would wish, but far less than the 90 years it took to overcome the virulent racism of Jim Crow South.

As an example of how attitudes can change, read:

David Palmeter said...

I’m more pessimistic than you, and have shared Applebaum’s reading of the situation for some time. I knew there were crazies out there, but I had no idea that there were as many as there are; until the very end, 40 to 45% of the people approved of Trump; 70 million people voted for him! What I hadn’t thought of is her solution, which makes a lot of sense to me.

Anonymous said...


Not all of the people who voted for Trump deserve the label “seditionists.” Probably less than 5% deserve that label – while still a lot of people, they are vastly outnumbered by the Trump supporters who were appalled and disgusted by seeing the assault on the Capitol. To them, this was a disgraceful unpatriotic action. They are unhappy, but they are not the seditionists Ms. Applebaum portrays them as. I suggest you read the article I provided the link to.

Anonymous said...

I read anonymous' linked essay, and I didn't find it the cause for optimism he did. There have been conservative Christians speaking out against Trump from the beginning (the editor of Christianity Today wrote extremely negative editorials in 2016). This is another one. He points to one prominent conservative Christian who's seen the light. I'm sure there are many others who also have. But there are also many others who haven't. According to one poll, 45% of Republicans agree with capitol riots. That's a significant chunk of America.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 11:08 AM,

My sources do not agree with yours:

“Overall, almost 9 in 10 Americans oppose the storming of the Capitol, including 8 in 10 who say they strongly oppose the attack, which resulted in the deaths of one police officer and four rioters, left dozens injured and shook the country. On this question, 98 percent of Democrats, 80 percent of Republicans, 89 percent of independents, 87 percent of White Americans, 94 percent of Black Americans and 93 percent of Hispanic Americans agree in their opposition to the violent insurrection.”

Tom Hickey said...

More concerning.

ProPublica, Global Right-Wing Extremism Networks Are Growing. The U.S. Is Just Now Catching Up, by Sebastian Rotella _Jan. 22

Anonymous said...

If Trump flew bombers over Cuba, you would rightfully have a fit. However it is okay to play fast and loose with a country that does this to Taiwan, and then you wonder why everyone cannot look the other way?

Anonymous said...

Most esteemed Professor! Despite your complicated thought processes, and sincere self-reflection, you occupy a very specific location within the class structure of your society. Your writings reflect this in your fear of the insane mob, an other whose thoughts cannot be parsed. There are deep assumptions behind the surface appearance. and it would take someone time to engage in more careful study of your writings to be more specific. I haven't got that sort of time. That's one of the big differences between you and the majority of the world. Sincerely yours, Sour Grapes

Anonymous said...


Anonymous at 10:03 AM, 10:45 AM, and 11:40 AM is not the same Anonymous who left a comment at 2:23 PM and/or at 2:31 PM, comments which have left me perplexed and bewildered.

R McD said...

As an antidote to the Applebaum worldview, let me recommend Jackson Lears’ review of her book, “the orthodoxy of the elites”, published in the 14 January New York Review of Books. JL doesn’t just put Applebaum in her place, he, to my mind, puts a whole bunch of us there. That's not very reassuring either.

R McD said...

And then there's this:

s. wallerstein said...

Applebaum's narrative about the FARC is impressively insensitive to social realities.

The FARC were originally organized to defend poor peasants against paramilitary groups armed by big landowners, which tried to drive the peasants off their lands terrorizing them and killing them

With time they became an organized guerrilla army and in the course of long dirty war on both side they became involved in kidnapping and drug trading. From what I know they never entirely lost their original idealistic orientation. During that long dirty war, according to a truth commission they murdered many people, although the rightwing paramilitary groups murdered almost three times more people.

However, from reading Applebaum's narrative one would get the impression that the FARC were just a group of thugs engaged in crime and terrorism. I will ask the question, which Professor Wolff often asks, which side is Applebaum on?

Anonymous said...

When choosing to leave a comment while not signed in to a Google account, I am always given two other options: I can leave the comment as "Anonymous" or I can use a "Name/URL." I assume everyone else is offered these same choices. Why do so many commenters choose to leave their comments as "Anonymous" rather than use individualized pseudonyms? The pseudonyms could change from day to day. It would be so much easier to keep track of lines of thought in discussions if we could tell which posts were made being made by the same person, even if we had no way of knowing what that person's real name is. (This Anonymous is not the same as at 10:03 AM, 10:45 AM, 11:40 AM, 2:23 PM, 2:31 PM, or 2:56 PM.)

LFC said...

s. wallerstein

I have not read Applebaum's piece linked here, so I can't comment on the piece. She is a journalist and author who spent time, I believe, in Eastern Europe and knows that region quite well, esp. Poland. Also knows a fair amt about Russia, I think. Has written several books.

Based on having read bits and pieces of her journalistic output over the years, I can give you my impression of her political orientation. She is basically a neoconservative, I think, if I can use a term that one doesn't hear a lot these days. But that doesn't mean she can't be right about some things.

Anyway, the chances she wd be at all sympathetic to FARC, in any possible respect, are, I think, pretty much zero.

s. wallerstein said...

The neocons can be right about some things, although, as I recall from the Bush 2 era, they distorted the truth according to their interests more than most.

All political sectors lie at times, but some lie more than others. For example, Trump lied more than Sanders did. The neocons were and apparently are especially intellectually dishonest.

LFC said...

I meant neocon in the sort of older, 1970s/80s sense. Though there is a line of connection, for sure, between say Jeane Kirkpatrick and those who were gung-ho for the Iraq war, like Bill Kristol. I don't think Applebaum is necessarily all the way in their camp; I really haven't read enough of her work to be completely certain.