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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Thursday, January 7, 2021

FORTY-EIGHT HOURS

This has been, how shall I say it, one of the more unusual 48-hour periods in my life. Let me try in a preliminary way to come to terms with what has happened in the past two days.

 

It started Tuesday morning when I spent a little bit more than an hour listening to the entire phone call between Trump and the Georgia Secretary of State. It was interesting in several different ways. First of all, it was obvious that Trump had spent a great deal of time absorbing conspiracies and fevered speculations from fringe media. He seemed to have them all ready to hand in considerable detail. For those who wonder how he spends his days when he is not watching Fox News or tweeting, I think the answer is that he is really quite busy seeking out and adopting any fantasy that feeds his need to believe that he did not lose the election. I thought the relatively few remarks by Mark Meadows were interesting. That must be what it was like to be a courtier in the time of Mad King George.

 

At this point I was simply passing time while I waited for the vote reports to come in from Georgia. By late in the evening, Warnock and Ossoff were behind anywhere from 80,000 votes to 120,000 votes behind. When a large dump of 170,000 votes came in from one of the Atlanta area counties, Warnock took a significant lead and Ossoff was only several thousand behind. Because of the location of the outstanding votes, it was clear that both were going to win and finally at about 1:30 AM I went to bed.

 

I staggered out of bed at about 6 AM on Wednesday, skipped my morning walk, and settle down groggily to wait for the formal declaration that the Democrats had recaptured the Senate. Meanwhile, I watched the beginning of what I thought would be a lengthy and tedious charade in Congress as Republicans challenged a number of state electoral vote reports and thereby triggered for each state challenged two hours of debate followed by a vote.

 

The most interesting and amusing part of the beginning of this affair was the touching speech by Mitch McConnell, who, recognizing that he had lost control of the Senate, suddenly discovered his inner patriotism and gave a heartwarming defense of the supposedly purely formal procedure. It led me to believe that McConnell was positioning himself to retain some fraction of his now much diminished power by indicating his readiness to work “across the aisle” in a way that has eluded him for the past 12 years.

 

Then Secret Service agents hustled in to lead the vice president away and all hell broke loose. I assume everyone reading these words knows as well as I and perhaps better what then happened. I will just make a few comments on aspects of the entire affair that struck me particularly strongly.

 

First of all and quite remarkably, it is now part of the mainstream consensus gentium that had the mob been black the response would have been totally different. Since I have spent much of the last 25 years of my life arguing and saying in print some version of this, always aware that my opinions put me on the fringe, it was quite an experience to discover that I was now firmly located in the mainstream. Joy Reed even redeemed herself in my eyes with an impassioned statement of this previously unacceptable truth without the slightest hedging or compromise on her part.

 

I get the sense that this affair has significantly weakened the Republican Party. There was unfortunately some loss of life – the latest report I have heard is that four people were killed. But the whole business could have been a very great deal worse.

 

I have no idea what we can anticipate from the last 13 days of Trump’s presidency. I do hope a lot of people go to jail for this and not just the little people but that may be too much to hope for.

 

My most fervent hope is that I can get a little sleep. I have discovered that at the age of 87 I can no longer pull all nighters with impunity.

63 comments:

DDA said...

I think 1 person was killed. I think it will be important to indict people (including the complicit Capitol police) but to keep the indictments sealed until after inauguration.

David said...

On Saturday, in a FaceTime call with friends, I said that it was known that the Trump mob planned to storm the Capitol and disrupt the proceedings. I said confidently that since the Trumpers lacked the element of surprise, they would easily be rebuffed. How wrong I was.

Of all the madness that occurred yesterday, I am most astounded by the complete failure of the police to prepare for the obvious. What happened?

s. wallerstein said...

I think maybe the U.S. joined the human race yesterday, the human race with all its problems, vices, pettiness, unresolvable conflicts and contradictions, etc.

That might even be a positive step toward reality, out of illusion, out of the cave of American exceptionalism and "we're special", "we have a mission to illuminate humanity and spread the gospel of democracy".

Let's see if the United States, as a society, with Biden as president, is capable of growing up. There was an article in The Guardian a few months, Germany, an adult society. It compared Germany with the United Kingdom and it showed or tried to show that unlike the U.K., in the era of Brexit, Germany, for all its horrid past or maybe because of its horrid past, was facing its problem in a relatively adult way. I hope that the U.S., in spite of its horrid past can also face the future as an adult society.

LFC said...

@ David

According to one piece of reporting I heard last night, DHS, FBI, local police (in addition to Capitol police), and others all should have been involved from the get-go (i.e., preparing for this), and weren't. So a situation ensued where, among other things, one Capitol police officer put himself in a doorway to block the entry of multiple people. In other words, the Capitol police were stretched thin. I doubt they were ever supposed to deal w this sort of event basically on their own. That they apparently managed as well as they did, despite the one fatality, speaks well of their competence.

David Palmeter said...

LFC

I heard something similar: that whoever made the decision didn't want the DC police there because it was thought showing that much defensive force would itself be provocative. I also saw a report today that Schumer intends to fire the Senate's sergeant-at-arms as soon as he's majority leader.

jeffrey g kessen said...

I'm not yet willing to believe that a few thousand wound-up cretinous rabble storming an ill-policed Capital prefaces immanent insurrectionist catastrophe. It'll take at least another decade, so god-damn dumb are they.

Anonymous said...

Wallerstein: The Germans "grew up", yes. But that was with the help of the Russian army, which administered the painful "cure" -- like chemotherapy -- and so when it was all over, and every last brick in the city of Berlin was pulverized, yes, the virus went into remission; or it went elsewhere; for a few generations at least.

Anonymous said...

You’re right, Jeffrey. It was poorly planned and they were ill-equipped. They should have had more weapons, not the pipes and bricks they resorted to. How stupid. Call this an insurrection? Sedition? Can’t wait till they make a more serious, determined and well thought out effort at overthrowing this poor excuse of a democracy! Viva la revolution! Let the blood flow!

s. wallerstein said...

Anonymous,

So you believe that the trauma of 4 years of Trump, ending with a mob of proto-fascist
thugs invading the symbol of Democracy in countless Hollywood movies, an image that will be retained by everyone throughout the world for years and years isn't sufficient to shock America in growing up? No, it's not the Red Army, as you point out. And maybe I was unduly optimistic about America growing up a few hours ago. If they don't grow up and that may be the case, I don't even want to imagine what the decadence of the once leader of the Free World will look like. Gimme Shelter, as the song says.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kl6q_9qZOs

Anonymous said...

Yes, indeed, Mick Jagger, a true revolutionary, man of the people and anti-capitalist, forecasting massive insurrection - just a shot away! Estimated net worth, $360 million.

Anonymous said...

Lots of commenters here who are quite good at regurgitating what mainstream news tells them in the headlines. Congrats!

I believe if you check more closely it was one death as a result of the actual conflict while the others were people who just happened to die of some other medical causes in the area at the time. Yet another media exaggeration - sort of like the 350,000 COVID deaths of which less than 10% list COVID as a single cause of death.

Everyone knew about this rally and planned Trump demonstration - so, yes, why was there almost no security at all at the beginning? Almost like that was the plan in order to fill all of your fragile heads with more of the images of "shock" and "outrage" which will be the pretext for whatever heavy-handed government reaction comes next. This isn't the first time in recent memory that we saw angry mobs taking to the streets of this benighted country...but we are fine to only decry the violence that we somehow tell ourselves isn't justified.

The good news is that your $2000 checks are probably on the way now. Bread and circuses will carry this country forward.

LFC said...

Anonymous @ 6:17 p.m.

"almost like that was the plan..."

ooh, another conspiracy stubbornly not seen by those of us who "regurgitate" the mainstream media. (Actually the "mainstream" media sources I was using never mentioned four deaths at all, only one.)

Anonymous said...

ooh, another conspiracy stubbornly not seen by those of us who "regurgitate" the mainstream media. (Actually the "mainstream" media sources I was using never mentioned four deaths at all, only one.)

It's not a conspiracy if it's the best explanation. Using your own brain is fun. Recommend it highly.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 4:47 P.M. and 5:11 P.M. wishes to disassociate him/herself from Anonymous at 6:17 and 6:38 P.M.

“[H]eavy-handed government reaction,” like, perhaps, removing this threat to democracy who pretends to be President via either invoking the 25th Amendment or impeachment? The blood of the woman who was shot – one of the rioters – is on Trumps and Giuliani’s – who called for armed combat - hands.

“It's not a conspiracy if it's the best explanation.” Huh? Like, “It’s not the solution if it’s the best explanation.” Or, “It’s not the right key if it opens the door.”

TheDudeDiogenes said...

Some first-hand accounts of what it was like to be the inside the Capitol yesterday: https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/01/07/capitol-storming-siege-congress-inside-first-person-oral-history-455715

LFC said...

To add to and qualify my earlier comment on the security angle: Just listened to Wm Brangham on PBSNewsHr on this, and to judge from that report the Capitol Police was somewhat uneven in response, but on the whole and from what I can tell, most of them did their best to repel the assault given that they were seriously outnumbered. No doubt there will be investigations of this and a fuller picture will emerge.

Anonymous said...

“[H]eavy-handed government reaction,” like, perhaps, removing this threat to democracy who pretends to be President via either invoking the 25th Amendment or impeachment? The blood of the woman who was shot – one of the rioters – is on Trumps and Giuliani’s – who called for armed combat - hands."

He's out in less than two weeks - quit being so dramatic and be happy that it's coming to an end. Is anybody really surprised by any of this, based on Trump's past behavior?

Pretty sure Trump was also not the proximal cause of that woman's death. Good luck arguing that in court. There may be other things to charge him with, time will tell, based on the evidence that may come out. Might be better to focus on that. I have no problem with that and my other points have nothing to do with believing or supporting Trump.

Anonymous said...


Wallerstein: (Sorry about this anonymous nonsense) I didn't mean to downplay the shock. It counts for a lot. Look at the message from the US Chamber of Commerce conservatives: *get* *this* *creature* *out* *now*! It's bad for business. It's bad for everyone. It is indeed a shock. It's just hard to find appropriate historical "exempla" and one (I suppose one is marked by what he learned from the old folks) often tends -- wrongly, probably -- to bring the damned, benighted, reformed "Germans" up again. Let's stick with the Americans. Jefferson foresaw and fretted about the poison at the heart of our inheritance.

Jerry Brown said...

I agree with you Professor- this event has weakened or at least split the Republican party quite a bit. And hopefully will decrease Trump's influence over that party going forward. Which is probably mostly a good thing. I still was amazed that so many Republican House members still were willing to object to certain state's votes though. Even after this happened.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 7:43 PM,

You are short-sighted. Once Trump leaves office, he will continue to be a threat to our country, and he is contemplating running again in 2004. If he is impeached and convicted, he cannot run for President, or any other federal office, again. This is reason enough to impeach him.

If one incites a riot, as Trump did the morning of Jan. 6 by meeting with his supporters and indicating that he would march with them on Congress, one is responsible for all foreseeable consequences of that incitement. It was foreseeable that if his supporters marched on the Congressional building, as he recommended, and engaged in “armed combat,” as Giuliani recommended, that some people would get injured, and even killed. So, yes, Trump and Giuliani have the blood of that woman on their hands.

Eric said...

The question is this: should the Atty. Gen. of the United States in the Biden administration investigate the behavior of Donald Trump while he was in office and if, as I suspect, he or she finds clear evidence of violations of law should charges be brought against Trump?
https://robertpaulwolff.blogspot.com/2020/11/a-question-for-discussion.html

Prof Wolff, after pondering this question for several weeks, have you come to a conclusion?

In my replies, I argued that not only should Trump and associates be investigated and possibly prosecuted for federal crimes but that the experience with Trump should also be enough to ensure that the Constitution be amended to prevent abuses of the pardon power—abuses such as presidents attempting to pardon themselves or their family members and associates.

In the news today:
President Trump has suggested to aides he wants to pardon himself in the final days of his presidency, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions....

In several conversations since Election Day, Mr. Trump has told advisers that he is considering giving himself a pardon and, in other instances, asked whether he should and what the effect would be on him legally and politically....

Mr. Trump has considered a range of pre-emptive pardons for family, including his three oldest children — Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump — for Ms. Trump’s husband, the senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, and for close associates like the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani.


(Well, to the extent that we can believe anything they say when citing anonymous sources)

David Palmeter said...

Once again,I would ask the anonymati to use a pen name. You can just put your pen name in your text if you want to send it as Anonymous. It gets very confusing otherwise. From my reading of this thread, I take there is one anonymous who is engaged in civil discussion of a serious subject, and at least one other who appears to be a troll with a need to sneer at everyone else.

Jerry Brown said...

Eric @9:00 PM,

I know you didn't ask me, but since that previous article by the Professor, Trump has continued to engage in various actions to try to discredit the election results in such a way that he would remain the President. I am not a lawyer but quite a few of them seem to me to be illegal. He needs to be prosecuted for that type of crime. I thought that phone call with the Secretary of State of Georgia was bad- but his inciting a riot to attempt to influence Congress is even worse. He needs to be impeached immediately and convicted by the Senate and prosecuted for breaking election laws and worse. And if he doesn't get impeached again he still deserves to be prosecuted.

Anonymous said...

One can both sneer and engage in serious discussion.

Christopher J. Mulvaney, Ph.D. said...

Republicans have been fostering the delusion that voter fraud exists for a long time, and Trump leaned in heavily on this trope. Polling data suggests that a large proportion of R’s buy into it. Exit polls from the GA races have 18% of R’s think votes would be counted accurately, while in the general election that figure was 46%.

In other words, there is mass psychological delusion constructed ex nihilo. That delusion was strong enough that, despite the amateurish insurrection, a significant portion of the R’s carried through with their political grandstanding. Loeffler backed off from her prior support of the Cruz/Hawley b.s. so we can surmise that she has her eyes on another race. McConnell’s wife, Sec. of Transportation Elaine Chao resigned. As I recall, it’s called elite defection, but it’s equally accurate and much more satisfying to say ‘rats fleeing a sinking ship.’




Eric said...

@Anonymous 8:27pm says:
If he is impeached and convicted, he cannot run for President, or any other federal office, again.

Unless he is pardoned.

If one incites a riot, as Trump did the morning of Jan. 6 by meeting with his supporters and indicating that he would march with them on Congress, one is responsible for all foreseeable consequences of that incitement.

Did he tell them to storm the building? To overrun the barricades, scale the walls, break the windows to gain entry?
And are you aware that nearly half of the voters who bothered to participate in the presidential election two months ago voted for him, despite (or because of?) all that has transpired in these past four years, including the hundreds of thousands of needless deaths? Any jury will likely include a number of Trump supporters.

Securing the conviction of a president would seem to be a tall order under most circumstances, but convicting this particular president for that particular alleged crime would seem to me about as likely as Amy McGrath's chances of beating Mitch McConnell were.

Eric said...

Correction--I'd forgotten the Constitution does not allow pardon for impeachment.

LFC said...

Also, as a number of people in the "mainstream" media, and perhaps elsewhere, have been noting, "voter fraud" can readily become code for "non-whites in urban or other areas shouldn't be voting" -- thus (false) claims of fraud become intertwined with racially charged or motivated voter suppression measures or attempts at voter suppression. With the coming change in the Justice Dept, things may start to improve on this front.

LFC said...

P.s. Above comment an addendum to C. Mulvaney.

Anonymous said...

Eric,

Unbelievable.

Saying A has blood on his/her hands for the death of B is not recommending a criminal indictment, but a figurative assertion of moral responsibility.

Jerry Brown said...

Eric, as far as I know, the Senate could convict the President with 51 votes for conviction and 49 against, assuming the House of Representatives had impeached. They know what he did just as we know what he did. That kind of 'conviction' just needs a majority. And I don't think Mitch McConnell wants Trump having influence over him for the next four years any more than I do.

David Palmeter said...

Jerry Brown

It takes two-thirds of the members present and voting to convict in an impeachment. (Article I, section 6).

DDA said...

My current opinion is that the Cotton wing of the republican party is smarter (in a self-interested way) than the Hawley wing. Cotton sees the danger of the Hawley wing provoking all sorts of democracy (electoral college reform, wider suffrage, ...) where Cotton & cie know how dependent they are on voter suppression and gerrymandering.

PhilosophicalWaiter said...

A few obvious points:

First, America has lost its virginity when it comes to political violence interrupting the peaceful transfer of power. It's an open question if enough of us can and will come together to protect our democracy against those who decide that Wednesday was just a good start.

Second, Wednesday's insurrection has seriously, and perhaps fatally, damaged Donald Trump's brand. He has a path forward as the leader of a violent insurrectionist group, but he's electorally radioactive now, and may have ended his ability to monetize his antigovernment rhetoric. It's unlikely that Trump has the ability or the will to effectively marshal the violent partisans that have gathered around him, but it's not unimaginable that he might attract someone who could.

Finally, Congress came together Wednesday to collectively assert its will and complete the process of electing Joe Biden as the next president. This was a (rare) fine moment for American democracy--tainted, to be sure, by the continued, baseless attacks on the election--but a moment to be proud of nonetheless.

There are parallels in our time to the fall of the Weimar Republic, but one tremendous advantage we retain that they did not was the strength of our democratic institutions. While we find ourselves in dangerous times, our democracy has recently been sorely tested and has shown remarkable resilience.

Anonymous said...

Philosophical Waiter,

I agree wholeheartedly! And to have remained a virgin for 250 years ain’t bad, given our openly promiscuous and turbulent culture. The last virgin I met was only 230 years old.

Anonymous said...

The acting District Attorney for Washington, D.C., is evaluating bringing criminal charges against Trump for inciting a riot on Capitol grounds.

https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/08/opinions/donald-trump-prosecution-capitol-mob-honig/index.html

“[A] series of federal laws makes it a crime to commit illegal acts on the Capitol grounds, to enter restricted federal government buildings without authorization, and to destroy federal property. It's beyond dispute that the pro-Trump rioters smashed these laws. The only question is whether Trump bears any legal responsibility. Here, I'd rely on a federal law against aiding and abetting. Essentially, the law provides that even if a person does not commit a crime with his own hands, he is still liable if he "aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces, or procures its commission." Pick your verb. I'd be confident arguing to a jury that Trump's words and actions meet this standard, as well.”

s. wallerstein said...

That so many different people comment as anonymous is not a sign of a vibrant democratic culture. Most of their comments are far from subversive and basically affirm or reaffirm the value of democratic institutions, about which I agree by the way.

However, the fact that they feel the need to hide their identity says something about how democratic the U.S. actually is. Democracy, I'd say, is not just formal institutions, but a culture where ordinary people feel free to speak their minds without fear of losing their jobs or being blacklisted in certain areas of the economy or of receiving hate mail, among other things.

PhilosophicalWaiter said...

I suggest that anyone who posts as "Anonymous" should, as a act of sincerity and comity, chose and uniformly use a pseudonym. Doing so does not in any way compromise the ability to be anonymous, but does provide essential clarity to distinguish among the many who continue to post anonymously.

Tim Badonsky

Christopher J. Mulvaney, Ph.D. said...

LFC,
You are absolutely right - voter fraud is the cover for voter suppression. Todays’s NYTs has an article on those fleeing the sinking ship, an the number keeps growing. BTW, I enjoyed the back and forth on historical analogies in the previous post. I usually phrase it in terms of ‘parallels.’ The parallels between Ger. And U.S are white supremacy, authoritarianism, mass delusional thinking, militias, and long term economic insecurity. I wrote a lecture on the on the consequences of breaking of norms. I illustrated the consequences in reference to the fate of the Gracchi and the end of the Roman Republic. Obviously I am willing to range far and wide if needed.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Anyone who does not have the spine to reveal their identity when submitting comments to a blog should be tarred and feathered (once their identity is discovered), run out of town on a rail, and have their voting rights suspended. Such cowardly misuse of free speech is impolite, anti-democratic and intolerable – regardless the merits or lack thereof of the substance of the comment. I would never comment on a blog that would allow such ignominious behavior to continue.

Ridiculousicculus said...

Philosophical Waiter -

Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States in November 1860, South Carolina voted to secede from the union in December of 1860, and then by mid-April of 1861 the confederates demanded the surrender of Fort Sumter and besieged it, thereby starting the US Civil War

The United States is hardly a virgin when it comes to the interruption of a peaceful transfer of power.

Anonymous said...

Mein Führer, mein Führer, Ich habe dich zu das Ende verteidigen! Bitte, bitte, Verzeihungen Sie mich sofortig! Deine demütig Diene, Rudy Guiliani

DDA said...

here's a pertinent video

LFC said...

Since there has been some confusion, at least on my part, about fatalities resulting from the riot, might be worth mentioning that I now see in addition to the person shot by Capitol police, three others died afterward from/in circumstances that apparently have not yet been detailed, and also a Capitol police officer died after sustaining injuries:

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/capitol-police-officer-has-died-after-clashing-pro-trump-mob-n1253396

jeffrey g kessen said...

How many Anonymous Commenters does it take to screw in a light bulb? Answer: all of them.

Anonymous said...

Jeffrey,

Why such sarcasm? Anonymous at 4:47 PM was agreeing with you. What this country needs is a genuine violent revolution to cure it of its anti-democratic heritage, not the pansy type excuse for an insurrection we saw in Washington on Wednesday. What amateurs! Let blood freely flow (like the alliteration?) in the streets to cleanse this nation of its utter hypocrisy and capitalist oppression! And you should be right there in front, Jeffrey, heroically brandishing your shot-gun and Glock revolver! Show us the way, Jeffrey, show us the way!

s. wallerstein said...

A glock is not a revolver.

Anonymous said...

Glock pistol, then. Es tut mir leid.

s. wallerstein said...

No need to apologize. Only if you're going to overthrow the government of a superpower albeit in decadence, you need to know your sidearms.

Probably a shotgun isn't your best option against armed police, national guard and army troops either.

jeffrey g kessen said...

Wow, that's weird. Such hair-trigger indignation does one such Anonymous have. Just for future reference, I own neither a "glock" (whatever that is), nor a shot-gun, though I did have a sling-shot when I was a kid. My Comments tend toward irony, sarcasm a little sometimes too, but I never advocate violence.

Anonymous said...

So, was I misinterpreting your comment above, to wit:

“I'm not yet willing to believe that a few thousand wound-up cretinous rabble storming an ill-policed Capital [sic] prefaces immanent [sic] insurrectionist catastrophe. It'll take at least another decade, so god-damn dumb are they.”

I interpreted your comment to imply the following: That those who have characterized the violent invasion of the Capitol building on Wednesday as an insurrection were over-exaggerating the event and that it will take at least another decade for these homegrown terrorists to learn their lesson and get smarter so that they can get it right next time.

If this was an erroneous inference, then the subtlety of your irony or sarcasm, whichever it was, escaped me. I suggest you improve your writing in order to convey more accurately what you mean. And what exactly, did you mean?

Anonymous said...

So dumb are the masses that they seem to believe the media hype about how this was a genuine attempt at insurrection.

Eric said...

@s.wallerstein(Jan 8 12:20pm),
I gather a number of the non-anonymous commenters on this board are toward the end of their careers or are retired, or are tenured professors. For them, the risks of disclosing their actual identities in social media posts are relatively low, especially when the viewpoints expressed are hegemonic.

But for someone else saying something controversial (like Anonymous@Jan 9, 12:14pm, had those remarks been meant in earnest), the risks are potentially much, much higher. Especially if they are a non-tenured faculty member. Even tenured professors may be on shaky ground in some cases.

(Btw, it occurs to me that although the comments posted here are on a private blog, the administrator of the blog, RPW, is affiliated with several universities, including a state university. It does not seem too far-fetched that permitting certain kinds of comments to remain in the posts on the blog comments pages could potentially be cited by critics as grounds for disciplinary action by the universities, eg disaffiliation and banning/shunning, against the blog administrator—not because the admin would necessarily agree with the tenor of the comments, but simply for allowing the comments to exist in print.)

The US has been, yet again, growing increasingly intolerant of certain forms of expression, with legislators joining many members of the public in demanding various forms of censorship. Liberals led the condemnation of the Trump admin's orders for foreigners seeking admittance to the US to disclose their social media accounts to border agents and to answer the agents' questions on political views. Recently, however, some of the loudest calls for censorship have been from prominent voices on the left. They naively* assume they themselves won't ever become victims of the regulations they say must be imposed.

The US remains far from the point at which police are routinely rounding up dissidents based on their blog posts, as occurs in some other countries. But in the wake of the events that took place at the Capitol this week, Biden and Congress are likely to seek further restrictions on speech, and if we are to judge by the makeup of the top federal court, it seems the courts probably won't be inclined to stand in the way.

*Trump got a taste of this yesterday.

s. wallerstein said...

Eric,

I take Anonymous's comment above at 12:14 PM to be ironic.

However, what is interesting (among other things) in this blog is that the irony becomes very complex. Simply irony is when I say something, say, Trump has been a great president, assuming that everyone knows I mean the opposite.

I have no idea what Anonymous "really" means to communicate with his comment at 12:14. However, he or she does communicate something, even though what it is is cryptic. And there are several cryptic comments here and that means maybe we're in a situation that is so new and so difficult to explain with old political paradigms that we're all trying to work out what we "really" think.


Anonymous said...

"Ye preachers of equality, the tyrant-frenzy of impotence crieth thus in you for “equality”: your most secret tyrant-longings disguise themselves thus in virtue-words!" - Nietzsche

Is the concern about anonymous commentators really based on some desire to maintain continuity in discussion here, or is it more about just not liking the speech of the Anonymous and wanting to shut it down?

Amazing how those on the left went, very quickly, from supposedly being champions of free speech to walking hand-in-hand with Big Brother.

Anonymous said...


Free-speech for the nazi-putchists of 1923! Bravo, man, bravo! What a stiff upper lip! What pluck, my dear civilized chap! Dig your own graves; again. Let justice be served even if the heavens should fall. How brave. What fearlessness! Let your Euclidean propositions and proofs carry the day and wipe the remnants of superannuated unreason and ancient grievance from the earth. Enjoy your "free marketplace of ideas" with your counterparts in the rabble-mob; see how well fine words will overcome their clubs and rifles. Cut your legs off to prove the point: that you're afraid of nothing but violation of your high-principle. So high in fact they carry you straight to the sky. Or if self-immolation is too much to muster, you can practice gradually, by -- say -- eating raw cranberries while trying not to wince.

-Sallust

PhilosophicalWaiter said...

My suggestion that Anonymous posters should adopt a pseudonym was motivated at least as much by simplicity as by a call to comity: without identification of which Anonymous is posting, it is somewhere between difficult and impossible to engage in a meaningful dialogue.

Somewhere in the interleaving discussion among the Anonymous and the identified, the notion was advanced that the buffoonery of many of the most visible insurgents into the Capitol on Wednesday is an indication that this was all too third-rate to merit any real threat. As if were the case that only the most talented and well dressed were capable of causing great injury.

As if the name Adolf Eichmann and phrase "the banality of evil" had never been uttered in the same sentence.

Perhaps if Eichmann had been fond of wearing lederhosen his historical example would be more relatable to those attempting to soft-pedal recent events.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Philosophical Waiter, that was exactly my point at 12:14 and 2:46 – that those who think those of us who have condemned the events of Wednesday as an effort at an insurrection – however feeble – and its leader as a would-be fascist successor to Der Führer here in America – are being overly “dramatic” and exaggerating its danger; are being unnecessarily hysterical Chicken Littles. Just give them time – in 10 years they’ll get it right. No need to impeach our President, after all, he has only 11 more days and counting. How much more harm can he do in a mere 11 days? Pelosi was concerned enough to contact the Commander of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to ensure that he is monitoring the situation. And what good can impeachment possibly do when there is little chance for him to be convicted by 2/3 of the Senate anyway. But impeachment, at least, would preclude him from pardoning himself, which, however a dubious a stratagem, he is actually contemplating doing. Impeachment, even without conviction, would remove any doubt regarding its Constitutional implementation. And, if convicted, preclude him from running for federal office again. I guess the subtlety of my irony, or sarcasm, whatever, was too nuanced for some to get my point. Thank you for clarifying it. Hannah Arendt was correct – inconceivable evil can come upon us in very banal appearances – in the form of a former mayor hailed for his heroic performance after a national tragedy; in the form of senators claiming only to want to ensure the integrity of our elections in the future; in the form of hard-working farmers and blue-collar workers , and house wives, and honest country folk who just want to take their country back.

Anonymous said...


(Sallust)
The hard-working farmers who'd rather not sell their soybeans to the Chinese. The persons of the most impeccably high standards whose hands were too clean in 2016 to cast a vote for anything less than a saint; certainly not for that horrible, supercilious high-school grade librarian woman! The little pot-bellied plebs wearing that little circular half-beard and mustache -- like a chevron -- who'd rather die in the gutter than participate in an insurance pool which a well-spoken black man put upon them so that they might aspire to do better. And the same rabble now the plague's upon them that poison has so worked its way into the interstices of their so-called logic that they'd rather die in the gutter than wear the mask; so highly do they suppose they hew to their "liberties" -- in particular the liberty to bare their *teeth* and their potty little chevron half-circular beards.

jeffrey g kessen said...

Just a little skit, to lighten things up: "So never a wild and woolly there was/ a blog so rough and tumbled enough/ because, because, because, because, because (whew)----because of the wonderful things it's done. We're off to see the wizard/the wonderful wizard of blogs." Such an explosion of creativity wasted me, man. I'm out.

Anonymous said...

"Sallust" - have you been remembering to take all of your pills at the scheduled times lately? Just checking.

Anonymous said...

(Sallust): Thanks to some supervening good-fortune, of which surely my prior conduct is not deserving, my physicians do note appropriately the tendency that you observe; and the remedies taken at or near to bedtime are better than nothing at all. Thank you for your solicitude!

Eric said...

Posting as Anonymous also might be intended as a way for commenters (or a commenter?) to circumvent daily posts limits ...

(Is that 3-posts-per-day thing still active?)