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Thursday, April 15, 2021


Marc Susselman is a lawyer in his early 70s who, 53 years ago, was my student during the year that I visited at Rutgers. For some while he commented on this blog as MS, but when his logorrhea got out of control and he became querulous and dyspeptic besides, I tried to limit him to one post and one riposte a day. When that failed, I deleted a great number of his seemingly endless comments and told him to go elsewhere. After a bit, he resurfaced as Samuel Chase and the same habits reappeared. I deleted some of those comments, but he is now apparently returned as John Doe.


Marc is intelligent, accomplished, and knowledgeable but he has one characteristic that he seems not to share with anyone else who ever comments on this blog: he makes me want to stop blogging. When he is in full bray, I cringe from checking the comments section. I thought about simply continuing to blog without ever reading the comments, but that destroys much of the purpose of blogging and besides, many of the comments are thoughtful, intelligent, provocative, responsive to what I have actually posted, and deserving of some reply.


So I am just going to say it straight up. Marc, go away. You are younger than I was when I started blogging. Start your own blog, build your own audience, and have at it, but not here. Those of you who enjoy your interactions with Marc can migrate to his blog and exchange views with them to your heart’s content. Just not here.


Salmon Chase said...

No, I am not John Doe, and did not post as John Doe. John Doe in fact made some valid points, to which I added additional commentary in a later post, which you have also deleted. You could not stand John Doe’s comment, because he contradicted some of your left-wing, knee-jerk social commentary about the role of racism in this country. You cannot tolerate anyone who vigorously disagrees with you because you are a hypocrite – you purport to be a political anarchist whose autonomy must not be subordinated to any authority, but that is a privilege you reserve only to yourself, the omniscient seer, the wizard behind the curtain. You, sir, are a fraud.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Okay, you had your say. Now go away.

s. wallerstein said...


You're blowing it. Take a month or maybe two of vacations from this blog.

If and when you return, follow the rules, as I suggested yesterday. Limit yourself to one daily post and one riposte.

And above all, don't insult Professor Wolff again. In contemporary society we all have to play so many roles, grandfather, father, citizen, member of a small local community, teacher or lawyer, partner, public intellectual, activist, that we all end up a bit hypocritical because the roles often contradict each other. What our partner demands of us at times contradicts what a pure committed activist would do, etc.

And when I try to think of people who lived pure lives without any contradiction between their principles and their everyday action, they all ended up murdered, Socrates, Jesus, Trotsky, Che Guevara, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X.

Anonymous said...

This is the problem with technology. Let me re-direct one and all to the words of the Great Sage Susanne K. Langer, who quotes the words of J.M. Thorburn (in the end of her preface) who basically says "all the genuine deep delight in life is showing people the mud pies you have made" and that "life is at its best when we confidingly offer these mud-pies to other people for their sympathetic consideration." Neitzsche claims man is at his best when as an adult he recaptures for a moment the seriousness of a child at play. Thank you professor Wolff for your mud-pies. (I will pledge to quote you in a few score also when the moment dictates.) People, enjoy life and this is not twitter. Use technology appropriately.

John Rapko said...

I've always wondered about the 'You, sir, are an X!' locution. Why do folks think they're impressive when they use it? To me it seems like someone putting on medieval armor, clanking into a room, and shouting 'Thou art a knave and a fool!'

T.J. said...

I'm really confused by the thought that an anarchist can't tell someone to go away. Why would that be the case? I'm not an anarchist (as far as I know) and haven't read any anarchist literature, so this is probably just from lack of education. If I had to shoot from the hip and define anarchism, I'd go with something like "no government is legitimate." Or maybe, stronger, "no possible government is legitimate." What does that have to do with regulating one's personal affairs? That's perfectly consistent with telling people to stop commenting on your blog, being a parent over children, being a professor over students, etc. Anarchism has to do with the legitimacy of the state, so I just don't see how it could be relevant to 2 individuals interacting at a granular, personal level (i.e., neither in their capacity as an agent of the state, or whatever)

s. wallerstein said...


First of all, I have not read Professor Wolff's book on anarchism, so I don't know how he defines it.

However, the feminists in the 70's taught us (or at least taught me) that what is personal is political, the family is political, the classroom is political, love is political. Where there are relations of power (and almost everywhere there are relations of power), there are political relations.

Chomsky, who is an anarchist, says that in an anarchist society or culture all relations of authority must be rationally justified. He generally gives the example of his relations with his grandchildren: when he is with them, he has to exercise authority over them because otherwise, they may run out in front of a truck (rational justification).

I don't know what Professor Wolff's rational justification is for censoring Samuel Chase. In addition, I'm not sure whether anarchist criteria should only be applicable in an anarchist society or not. That is, you could argue that applying anarchist criteria
in contemporary non-anarchist society is utopian or just not realistic.

Ridiculousicculus said...

If memory serves, one of the arguments in In Defense of Anarchism is that individual autonomy is incompatible with state power. So you can either reject the legitimacy of state power and maintain your individual autonomy, in which case you are an anarchist, or you can accept the legitimacy of state power and surrender your autonomy. Professor Wolff likes autonomy and so he is an anarchist that rejects the legitimacy of state power.

MS/SC's argument, as far as I can tell, is that Professor Wolff should permit MS/SC to exercise MS/SC's autonomy on the blog because as an anarchist, Professor Wolff ought to respect MS/SC's autonomy. Further, Professor Wolff's lack of respect for MS/SC's autonomy compromises Professor Wolff's claim to be an anarchist.

But since Professor Wolff is not the state and Professor Wolff's blog is not an apparatus of the state that claims legitimate authority over bloggers like MS/SC, I don't see how Professor Wolff's monitoring of his blog is incompatible with a commitment to political anarchism.

Anonymous said...

MS/SC would have no problem replying if he kept his replies brief and succinct. He was not responsible nor respectful. If every individual was responsible and respectful, we could have a working anarchy, in society and on this blog. However, more often than not individuals hijack and ruin thus the need for rules and laws and government, even on this blog. Maybe MS/SC is getting older and a little jealous of Wolff's success. It wasn't the content, it was the inappropriate length of the replies that bothered me and others including Wolff. Maybe there should be a word limit on the reply, but that shows people really do need to be controlled.

John Doe said...

Samuel Chase:

I strongly encourage you to start your own blog. If you start one and link to it here, I will read it and probably comment here and there.

You can use a pseudonym, and you can post and comment freely.

In addition, I never got the chance to read your comment in response to my initial series of comments on the post “TRYING TO UNDERSTAND.” I am interested in reading your comment but RPW deleted it and most of my initial comments.

If you start your own blog, you can post that comment there.

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

It seemed to me that the recently “barred’” individual had nothing more in mind than trying to demonstrated his brilliance, with the side effect of proving to himself that 1) he was smarter than those with advanced academic degrees, and 2) proving that radical analysis lacks merit.

Right to the end, he thinks he has proved Dr. Wolff a fraud (and Herbert Marcuse a bomb throwing radical).. He has, however, proved he is not what he thinks he is.

LFC said...

John Doe, above, encourages MS/SC to start his own blog.

That's fine, but I would add some notes. Of course every blogger or would-be blogger is different, so these should be taken w the appropriate caveats.

Starting one's own blog is easy enough, but keeping it going is not very easy, at least in my experience. It takes discipline to post things that you know few people will read, unless you're one of the relatively rare bloggers with a sizable audience. Some bloggers have a clear, overriding reason to blog. I cd give examples, but it wd make this comment too long.

For would-be bloggers without this kind of "built-in" reason, one has to decide what the focus of the blog will be, or whether it will have a focus at all. One has to decide on the tone or whether there will be a consistent tone. One has to decide whether one will repeat things one has said or published elsewhere, or whether one will read a lot of new things to provide material for posts, or whether one will comment on the news or whatever happens to catch one's eye (and if so, to what value-added end), etc. And it can be time-consuming, of course. In short, anyone who starts his/her own blog shd go into it w eyes open and the knowledge that relatively few bloggers gain a sizable audience, esp. if they lack name recognition beforehand. It's possible, even for someone using a pseudonym or initials, but not, I think, particularly easy. And in the end one may conclude that if one doesn't have many readers and is writing largely for oneself, other kinds of writing are more satisfying.

Anonymous said...

I don’t understand why it would be so unsatisfying to write your own blog, and why you have to really think through some vision for the purpose or style of the blog before doing it. If you have thoughts that it pleases you to put out somewhere, why not just do it? Obviously, if you are hell bent on having a certain size readership, then you have more of a challenge to face and have to take a more deliberate approach. But if not, why discourage people from this and why assume the point of blogging has to be getting a sizable readership? People write in journals that will never be read, day after day, and get therapeutic value out of this. Why can’t a personal blog do the same?

Jason said...

Professor Wolff, as someone who lurks more than engages and comments on your blog, I sure do you hope you continue to post regularly and not let the trolls get you down. I have to believe I'm not the only one who thinks this: your blog is valuable to a great many people.

I read your Autobiography of an Ex-White Man several years ago after you posted it to your box. It was entertaining and eye opening, I'm better off for having read it I believe. I never would have even known such a book existed, never had the realizations I had while reading, never sought out the books and authors mentioned, had you not mentioned on your blog that you had uploaded a copy of it.

I'm 40, I have no college degree, just a few semesters at the local community college, and I'm 140 pages into the first volume of Capital, mostly because you and others like yourself have taken the time to share what you know on the internet. Who knows, maybe one day I'll try to tackle Kant!

Ridiculousicculus said...

Jason just added the most important and relevant comment to this whole dialogue.

Anonymous said...

If I read Kant and smoke pot and come to an enlightenment, is that a priori synthetic, even if the pot is organic?

Jordan said...

Well Anon, at least your pun was related to THAT kind of a priori judgment, instead of the other kind...

LFC said...

Anonymous @10:44 p.m.

I had a blog for roughly nine years (I started it on an impulse shortly after getting a high-speed internet connection). In my comment above I was trying to draw on my experience blogging to offer a few reflections. I'm sorry if they came across as excessively negative and discouraging.

I had been going to offer my reflections on the MS/SC brouhaha, but then I thought it would be more constructive to offer my reflections on blogging, since it is something with which, as I say, I have personal experience. I also made clear right up front (quoting my comment) that "every would-be blogger is different," so my reflections should be taken with that in mind.

I am planning to comment less frequently here than I have in the past, Anonymous @10:44, which you may be pleased to learn.

LFC said...

Well that last sentence came across as snarky, sorry about that.

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