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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Saturday, July 2, 2022


I have lost track of where we are in this challenge so I have donated my last $200 and declare the challenge completed.  Thank you one and all. $3000 is not nothing and it will go some way to helping local candidates win in states around the country. Let us hope many others follow our example.

Now we can go back to talking about the world historical meaning of the universe.


Anonymous said...

s. wallerstein said...


I'm curious why you hate liberals with a passion.

Liberals can be smug, self-complacent and comfortable. Few are more tedious than Thomas Friedman in the New York Times.

Still, hate them with a passion? They're often tedious, boring, without self-awareness.....

Maybe when I was younger, I was more capable of hating them. Now I avoid them.

David Palmeter said...


When you say you hate liberals, what kind of liberals do you mean? Liberals in the European sense, which resemble our Libertarians, or Liberals in the U.S. sense, which resemble European Social Democrats?

He Man said...

To be a liberal in the sense meant (I presume) by anonymous, one must be 1) a capitalist, and 2) a supporter of the Democratic Party. Liberals in this sense are usually opposed to so-called “leftists”. The reason liberals arouse the ire of leftists is that their Venn diagrams overlap to some extent: the leftists perceive the liberals as somehow *on their way* to being Marxists, but lacking the spine to go full red commie — or as borrowing much of the rhetoric of leftism, but lacking the substance.

Liberals and leftists fight for the hearts and minds of the same audience, but since the liberals currently hold the lion’s share of power, the leftist have decided to predicate their PR campaigns on seething, scorched earth hatred of all things liberal (because the conservative are hopeless, so who cares about them, right?)

Hence, from a leftist perspective all social ills are blamed, ultimately, on liberals, and specifically on Democrats. A theocratic Supreme Court strips women of the right to control their own bodies. Whose fault is it? The Democrats’. Biden’s massive social spending bill goes down in flames. Whose fault is it? The Democrats’.

My issue with this is that it seems to fly in the face of all evidence. Had Hillary Clinton won in 2016, not only would the Supreme Court not be theocratic, it would be *left-leaning*. (Imagine a world where Elena Kagan is the de facto leader of Court, instead of Samuel Alito — yup, we’d’ve gotten that with Hillary.) Had Democrats picked up just two extra Senate seats in the past few cycles, Biden’s Build Back Better would currently be law. Those are just facts. Voting Democrat *can* make a huge difference. And in that respect, the attitude of seething, scorched-earth hatred for all things liberal — the attitude fostered by the leftists — is manifestly harmful, since it encourages people not to vote for Democrats.

The only way to move a nation’s politics leftward is to ensure that the right-wing part is defeated at the ballot box — decisively and repeatedly. Unfortunately, the so-called leftists, in adopting an attitude of “I want revolution and I wan it now!” have aided the rise of right-wing authoritarianism in this country, inasmuch as they’ve refused to join an alliance with the liberals.

He Man said...


Let’s assume Bernie Sanders is a leftist — which isn’t necessarily a solid assumption since many self-described leftists consider him to be really a Macron-style social-democrat imperialist, and therefore little more than a kinder and general liberal, which just goes to show how slippery these categories are to begin with — but let’s assume he is... And let’s assume further that he had defeated Biden for the nomination in 2020. In that case, everything I just said about leftists refusing to support liberals would apply exactly to liberals who refused to support Sanders.

In other words, why *shouldn’t* liberals demand to lead the alliance when they are the ones who win elections? Had the left won, it could have been in the driver seat (and I use the past tense here because I fear the republic may be at an end). I believe it’s incumbent upon people to fall in line to do whatever it takes to defeat the political right, which is now revealing itself in all its ghastly ugliness. And by the way, back when it looked like Bernie might clinch the nomination (before the 2020 South Carolina primary), I remember seeing Paul Krugman talking about how he was preparing to go on the road defending Sanders. Which shows that Krugman, whatever else you might say about him, is at least a more mature individual than all those petulant leftists who love to performatively declare how they would never, under any circumstances support the Clinton-Biden axis of evil. You reap what you sow I guess.

David Palmeter said...


I recall an earlier post, I think from you, referring to Hobsbawm's response to the question of what a socialist society would be like. He made some reference to Scandinavia, not as socialist, but as moving in the right direction etc. At least that's my recollection of the post. If it was yours, I would appreciate your stating it again. Also, I'm planning on reading more Hobsbawm (I recently finished his book on Nationalism) and would be happy for any recommendations you might have.

John Rapko said...

I seem to recall that last year after the great leftist journalist James Ridgeway died, a published reminiscence recalled him having said in the 1980s that the nastiest, absolute worst people you'll ever meet are liberals. Now surely that's an exaggeration from the author of Blood in the Face, a study of the KKK, neo-Nazis, and the Aryan Nation. I reflected on it for a minute, and concluded that nonetheless Ridgeway's statement was at least true of my own experience. I'm sure that's a reflection of my extremely narrow range of experience of having lived almost all of my adult life in the San Francisco Bay area. Here the sense of what a liberal is is carried mostly by the limousine liberals of local politics who are also a major part of the bellwethers of the arts. In their public chatter leading up to the most recent presidential elections, they seemed to find Trump in very bad taste, but Sanders alarming and existentially threatening. They're not only as s. wallerstein says boring and tedious, but also prominently exhibit (in my experience) alternating public blandness and private viciousness, and the sense of the themselves as a kind of living ideal to all humanity. Their machiavellianism seems of a piece with their certainty that their aims are good, so any means to their goals is acceptable. They bask in self-admiration for having supported gay marriage, all the while sneering at unions and flying to vacations on three or so different continents per year. They're easy to avoid in everyday life and most social situations, but are inescapable in organizations.

aaall said...

HM, You do understand we are currently exiting the ~ fifty year neo-liberal dispensation? Macron is a center-right neo-liberal. Bernie is basically a New Deal liberal. There is no place for folks left of social democrats - the exception, of course, is college because, as Chef says, "there's a time and a place for everything and that's college."

Had Clinton won in 2016 there still would have been a Republican Congress. Without Trump there is little reason to believe that the House would have flipped in 2018.

There would have been gridlock, wall to wall investigations, and probably an impeachment. Kennedy would still be on the SC and we would have entered 2020 with two vacant seats on the court. The 2020 election would have been - who knows, most likely not good?

He Man said...


My understanding of Macron’s politics is that he has been accused of being center-right in the context of France’s welfare state, which I would think places him firmly on the left from the American perspective. (Also, haven’t most of Macron’s proposed reforms fizzled in the face of popular opposition?) And I don’t understand — do you consider Bernie a social democrat?

@John Rapko

I agree that your range of experience is indeed narrow. The liberals you are describing sound more like “centrist” Republicans. I am quite sure that the vast majority of rank-and-file Democrats (but perhaps not a critical mass) would have easily supported Sanders over Trump. And I do agree that support for labor unions should be a baseline qualification for calling yourself a liberal. However, having known many died-in-the-wool unionists, I can confirm that many of *them* can be the most bland, tedious, privately vicious, and self-righteous individuals you ever met. But none of that really matters, does it?

s. wallerstein said...

David Palmeter,

Hobsbawm said (late in life) that the division between socialism and capitalism is needlessly binary, that Scandinavia, although technically capitalist, is closer to socialism than to Thatcher's Britain and that we should see socialism vs capitalism as a scale, not as a binary divison, either/or.

I would recommend his History of the 20th Century, Age of Extremes, written in the 90's after the fall of the Soviet empire, about what he calls the short 20th century from World War 1/Russian Revolution until the collapse of the USSR. Hobsbawm is above all a man who learns from his political experience and grows as a thinker as he gets older.

s. wallerstein said...

He man,

Paul Krugman is a Nobel prizer winner, ultra high IQ, cosmopolitan, friend of Picketty, relatively opened minded, not your typical liberal.

A leftist can't avoid liberalism in the U.S. If they want to read a newspaper or see TV, the best they can do is the New York Times or CNN, both orthodox liberal sources. If they want a promotion at work, it's probably wiser that they hide how radical their opinions are from their boss. They are careful not to post their most radical opinions in Facebook because future employers may read them. Thus, they grow up to be more complex thinkers, capable of functioning in the liberal world (where the money is) and in their own leftist world.

The liberal, on the other hand, is Prince Charles. They find their opinions reflected in the mainstream media, everywhere they go, they can freely express their opinions without fear of harming their career or social options. They're simpler, more comfortable people and as I said above, a bit more tendious for just that reason. They don't know the discipline of "silence, exile and cunning". That's a literary quote, by the way.

Sure, both liberals and leftists should unite to defeat the far right, but they're never going to love each other.

Marc Susselman said...

Not surprisingly, I agree with everything that He Man has written above. It is the uncompromising leftists who have brought us to this deplorable pass, with the right on the rise and controlling the S. Ct., and threatening for the very existence of our democracy.

When one says s/he is a Marxist (as does s. wallerstein, Eric, and, yes, Prof. Wolff), what does one mean? That they believe that capitalism entails the exploitation of the working class? Agreed. That the world would be a better, fairer place if the means of production were owned and controlled by workers? Perhaps. There is legitimate question whether, if this were the case, there would be the kind of technological innovation which insures that there will be sufficient growth to provide for full employment. That a world in which Marxism ruled, we would all be better off? Is this even feasible, given human nature – its propensity for selfishness, drive for power, need to dominate others. As has been noted by others on this blog, there has never been a nation which espoused Marxism as its guiding principle, which did not eventually evolve into a totalitarian state which deprived its citizens of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, and civil rights generally. In such a world, where is it better to live – in a capitalist country which exploits workers, but which still respects their civil rights and allows them to unionize, or a state which gives lip service to the Marxist ideology, but installs a totalitarian hierarchy where all citizens are equal, but some are more equal than others, and the proletariat have no civil rights? (Without getting into it again with David Zimmerman, I still wonder where Marxists derive the principle that fairness is ethically correct, without conceding that being fair is an objective moral principle, without proof.)

Prof. Wolff just closed his challenge to raise money for the DLCC. Everybody who contributed money to that campaign earned that money via their work supporting a capitalist economy. Would such a campaign even have been possible in a state such as Russia, China, or Cuba, which have espoused Marxism, but which, in different ways, have squelched the civil rights of their populace?

And s. wallerstein, for a person who rejects speaking in generalizations, generally speaking, it is unbecoming to see you spouting generalizations about so-called liberals. The liberal is Prince Charles? Where does this definition, using the definite article “the,” come from? I assure you that not all liberals are boring and insufferable, e.g., George Orwell, and I am confident that among those who espouse Marxism, there are many who are also boring and insufferable.

Anonymous said...

s. wallerstein said...


By the way, I am not a Marxist nor ever have claimed to have been one.

Marc Susselman said...

s. wallestien,

You sure about that?

You are clearly anti-capitalist. So, if you are anti-capitalist, and not a liberal, what are you?

s. wallerstein said...

For example, Chomsky is anti-capitalist and not a Marxist. I'm not Chomsky, but I'm a mixture of lots of things. I've mentioned philosophers who influence me, Nietzsche, Raymond Geuss, Rorty, Foucault, Simone de Beauvoir, even Chomsky, but not Marx.

Marc Susselman said...

s. wallerstein,

OK, but where are you politically? You are clearly on the left, and reject liberalism. So, you are a non-Marxist leftist?

Anyway, I am a liberal Democrat, and not ashamed to say so.

There is still hope for the Democratic Party in 2024. If Joe Biden decides not to run in 2024, which appears likely, Gov. Newsom is going to throw his hat in the ring. I believe he is the Democrats’ best hope of defeating Trump or DeSantis. But will the leftists support him, or sit on the hands again?

s. wallerstein said...

Sure, a non-Marxist leftist. Let me throw in my list of philosophers Adorno who was a Marxist of sorts, but so weird that I enjoy his company.

In 2024 I'm going to support whoever you support, Marc, I'm just waiting for the word.

Marc M. Susselman said...

In tribute to Phil Ochs.

LFC said...

There is an intellectual tradition (for lack of a better phrase) of those who identified as non-Marxist socialists. E.g., Carlo Rosselli, _Liberal Socialism_. Also some writers connected w the British Labour Party in 1950s and 60s.

I'm not putting s.w. in this box bc I don't think it fits and he can speak for himself. I'm just saying the category exists. Things get blurry bc there are some who are influenced by Marx but prefer not to call themselves "Marxist' bc they don't agree w aspects of Marx's thought. That's why you sometimes see the label Marxian rather than Marxist. There were (and are) historians whose work was influenced by Marx even though they didn't label themselves Marxist; I think E.P. Thompson, best known for _The Making of the English Working Class_, is in that category for ex.

Marc Susselman said...

And this:

s. wallerstein said...

By the way, George Orwell was a socialist and not a Marxist at all.

Anonymous said...

“But will the leftists support him, or sit on the hands again?”

There must be some technical term for the logical flaw in this assertion/question?

But what I, as a foreigner, find intriguing about such a remark is that, whatever their particular partisanship, so many Americans seem to think that when their side loses an election it was somehow stolen from them by outright fraud, by a knife in the back, by evil-thinking foreign powers, etc. etc. Of course, when it’s the other side that is making such claims, that’s easy to perceive and criticise. But those doing the criticising rarely seem capable of viewing their own lost election claims in a similar critical fashion.

Marc Susselman said...

s. wallerstein,

Yes a socialist, and therefore liberal, and a supporter of the British Labour Party. And far from boring, or tedious, or insufferable.

Here’s my choice for the Democratic 2024 ticket:

Gavin Newsom for President, and Gretchen Whitmer, Gov. of Michigan, for V.P.

LFC said...

Re Anonymous at 10:33 a.m.
I voted for Hillary Clinton against Trump in 2016. While some of the reasons for her loss (and she did win the popular vote but lost the Electoral College) were outside of her control (Comey letter, Russian bots on social media etc), a major reason for her loss is that she ran a bad campaign, more strategically bad than substantively.

alien said...

I wasn't saying that all partisans fall into blame gaming, LFC, and it certainly sounds like you don't.

Re Clinton, I agree with you. Perhaps you'd agree, in turn, that she demonstrated the same political ham-handedness in her primary campaign against Obama? And that the Democrats ought to have done more to try to block her candidacy in 2016?

Anonymous said...

“Here’s my choice for the Democratic 2024 ticket:

Gavin Newsom for President, and Gretchen Whitmer, Gov. of Michigan, for V.P.“

Lol, two of the most hated governors in the country. Good luck with that!

Also, the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics is not a real Nobel Prize.

LFC said...

Basically agree w that.

Marc Susselman said...

Anonymous at 11:15 A.M.

Well, you're back.

Yes, hated by Trump's supporters, which is why they would make excellent Democratic candidates. No self-respecting Democrat would vote for the same candidate supported by Trump's supporters. And Gov. Whitmer who supports a woman's right to choose, will garner the votes of the women disgusted with the Dobbs decision.

He Man said...

My cursory google search suggests that Whitmer is actually quite popular and seems to be weathering the current dismal headwinds. And she’s from a rust belt state. If she wins the upcoming election by a comfortable margin, she’ll be in a strong position to run for national office.

As for Newsom...where to begin? Based on his record, I actually think he has the potential to generate a powerful message. He can present himself as stark alternative to a Trump or DeSantis, especially where climate change and women’s rights are concerned. And contrary to what the right-wing troll media would have their followers believe, California’s economy is eminently poised to be the centerpiece for a national campaign. If 2024 turns out to be perceived as a fork-in-the-road election, an existential choice between radically different alternatives, then I can see Newsom having a lot of appeal.

Newsom’s drawbacks are more in the intangibles. I think that that whole having dinner indoors during the pandemic episode would prove to be an enormous thorn in his side. (How stupid can you be?) And he’ll somehow have to overcome his robotic phoniness as a retail politician. Also, his relatively humane policy toward undocumented migrants is far outside the mainstream, I fear.

Oh, and there’s also the little matter of the sitting President and Vice President. I think Harris has proven to be a terrible politician. But unfortunately, if she’s passed over for someone else — and if that someone else is white — we can expect the right wing to stoke the fires of racial resentment. It’s unfortunate, but there it is.

Anonymous said...

" It is the uncompromising leftists who have brought us to this deplorable pass, with the right on the rise and controlling the S. Ct., and threatening for the very existence of our democracy."

MS, not at all. While there are a number of reasons, there aren't enough actual leftists in the US to bring much of anything anywhere. We do have a lazy, somewhat stupid media that has too many stenographers who are stuck in J school bothsiderism (see Kathleen Parker). When Reagan ended the Fairness Doctrine it made right wing talk radio possible. Rupert Murdock took "What is to be Done" seriously.

We also have a Constitution that has turned out to be a suicide pact. Besides its other flaws it simply isn't set up to deal with ideologically driven political parties (we have just one, of course). Just as Communism as likely permanently ruined Russia, the US may have been fatally damaged by Movement Conservatism/neo-liberalism. Like the song goes: "You can check out anytime you like but you can never leave”

Of course it helped to have a few very wealthy folks determined to end the New Deal and democracy. Bill was serious about derailing that train.

aaall said...

HM, you bring up yet another flaw that has developed in our ridiculous presidential system. Harris would actually make a fine president but it seems the nation isn't ready for president who is a woman (check out the voting patterns amongst Black and Hispanic voters). If the Dems loose in Nov. all this will be moot as the SC is taking up the North Carolina case.

aaall said...

MS, yet another reason we are where we are: The New York Times runs stories like this:

BTW, Redding is a red flag. It's solid red territory and home to a large fundamentalist cult. The NYT also did a recent puff piece on far right propagandist (i.e. bigot and serial liar) Chris Rufo.

LFC said...

Reagan and the Republican presidents who came after him likely would not have won w.o working-class, formerly Democratic voters, or at least they made it easier for Reagan et al. to win.

And what moved the so-called Reagan Democrats to switch parties? Partly, it was the effects of corporate globalization, off-shoring, and deindustrialization, which in turn were bound up w soaring income and wealth inequality and the financialization of the economy.

These structural trends, abetted by certain conscious decisions, have at least as much to do w the evolution of U.S. politics since c. 1980 as the rise of Movement Conservatism and right-wing talk radio and culture wars (though the latter also matter of course). Rush Limbaugh could have talked himself blue in the face and if a receptive audience hadn't been ready, waiting to turn its anger somewhere, he would have gone nowhere.

Even the right-wing now turned Trumpist J.D. Vance (now a candidate for Senate), in Hillbilly Elegy, had to acknowledge the effects of deindustrialization in the Midwest even though it cut against his main thesis that the white working-class's own profligate habits were to blame for its distress. Vance was forced to acknowledge those effects because one of the towns he wrote about (one of his home towns, I forget the name) had a major factory that was the center of its economy that closed. He proceeded w his thesis undisturbed but even someone reading the book quickly would have been able to draw inferences that tended to undercut the thesis.

Basic changes in the US and intl economy and the resulting effects on personal life (increased mortality etc. in certain groups) and voting behavior have to be factored into any account of what has happened to U.S. politics.

Marc Susselman said...


I don’t know what you mean by a “puff piece.” I did not read it, but I should think any article which exposes Chris Rufo’s obsession with attacking critical race theory would be a good thing.

aaall said...

The problem wasn't globalization, it was that the top fraction of one percent in developed countries were allowed to hoover up most of the benefits. A few hundred million folks in developing countries also benefited (well there were/are the sweat shops). That was the result of a belief in Schumpeter's creative destruction and that was very much a result of an ascendant conservatism. The rise in the middle of the curve was noticed more then the spike on the right. Conservative economic dogma told us that things would work out. They didn't.

What the ascendancy of Reagan and neo-liberalism prevented was government doing anything to ameliorate the negative effects in the US and the UK (Thatcher/Reagan). As I have pointed out previously NAFTA originated in the Bush Administration and was signed in the Clinton Administration. The problem is that after 2005 there was no possibility of dealing with the negative effects.

A good deal of the receptivity to Limbaugh et al was the ongoing blow-back from the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, legislation, and court decisions. Never discount race in the US. The audience was also captive in most rural areas. In the hinterlands the radio choices were/are right wing talk, religious, and CW and that many stations. About 25 years ago I pulled into a gas station in a rural part of I-5. The car in front opened his door the same time I did. In that stretch that was the choiceWe were both listening to Limbaugh. Limbaugh, et al and Fox created their audience as much or more then that audience was already formed.

I don't get the resistance. Revolutions are a Long March. Lenin, Ho, Mao, Buckley all succeeded eventually. BTW, Vance is one of Thiel's projects.

LFC said...

The problem wasn't globalization

I disagree inasmuch as I think a case can be made that a particular type of globalization was part of the problem.

Per capita incomes did go up in some developing countries, but of course the benefits were unevenly distributed. Too late in the evening to go into this further.

I don't get the resistance.

I don't really understand this sentence.

Revolutions are a Long March. Lenin, Ho, Mao, Buckley all succeeded eventually.

To some extent, apples and oranges. Lenin and Mao were involved in classic social revolutions. Ho arguably also. Buckley not. I understand what you're getting at, but tend to think the comparison is less than helpful.

(Buckley succeeded in that the Repub Party eventually became more ideologically Right. Buckley failed, however, in other respects; couldn't stop the civil rights movement, e.g.)

aaall said...

Nice gesture:

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