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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.

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Sunday, September 25, 2022


 $75 more! We are almost there.

As we wrap up this match, I am embarking on a new project. In my file cabinets is a drawer filled with manila folders containing unpublished papers, talks, meditations and so forth. Some of these date back 60 years. I have decided to embark on a lengthy project of converting these to computer files and then posting them on my blog little by little. Some may interest those of you who have taken to reading this blog, some may not, but I have reached a point in my life when I feel the need to make these available to that little corner of the world that sometimes pays attention to what I write.

Right now, I am looking into optical character recognition programs and such and looking for someone whom I can pay as my assistant in this effort. At some point, before too long, I hope to start posting these essays and research papers and talks.

Meanwhile, I waited anxiously each bit of news on the further trouble that Trump is getting himself into.

I thank you all for joining me in the match. It is a small contribution we make but it is something, and that is really the most anyone can ask of us.


s. wallerstein said...

The fascist far right is winning the Italian elections according to exit polls and Giorgia Meloni, who makes Trump look like Winston Churchill, will become prime minister.

The far right is on the rise all over the world and whether Trump goes to jail or not is not going to change that at all.

We need to build a left alternative and that is not happening.

Sad. We'll always have Schopenhauer.

aaall said...

Putting your papers online sounds like a good idea. I hope it works out.

s.w., actually it will matter and Trump is way more dangerous because the United States is way more powerful then Italy. As with most everything, one breaks it down into manageable pieces. A Trump here, a Putin there. One head at a time, one stake at a time and before you know it fascism is back in its coffin. As a practical matter, Italy isn't close to being the disaster another Trump term would be.

s. wallerstein said...

Obviously, the U.S. is way more powerful than Italy, but if the far right is ascending everywhere or almost everywhere, jailing Trump will only pave the way for another far right president in the U.S., in 2024 or 2028. Trump is the symptom of a deeper sickness, not the cause.

Anonymous said...

Trump is nowhere the fascist that Meloni is, as some of us have tried to argue on this blog for a while now.

Marc Susselman said...

Getting back to things that really matter in this world, regarding the prior post relating to the Carlsen-Niemann dispute, a friend sent me this link which sets forth the current status of the controversy.


Prof. Wolff, has your son Patrick offered his opinion regarding the matter to you, and, if so, are you at liberty to share it?

Anonymous said...

There have been 69 Italian governments since WWII, for an average of one every 1.11 years. Meloni would be lucky to last that long. Italian factions are forever realigning to form new coalitions.

s. wallerstein said...


The point isn't how long Meloni lasts as primer minister, but that her votation signals, I believe, a change in the zeitgeist towards the extreme right: the recent elections in Sweden, the defeat of the new progessive constitution in the Chilean plebiscite three weeks ago by a 62% vote and now Meloni.

I don't see any soul searching or real thought on this matter on the left and I'd like to see some. There are mid-term election in the U.S. soon and we'll see how the Republicans do, because, as we all know, the Republicans are no longer the party of Eisenhower or even of Reagan, but of the people who swear that Trump "really won" in 2020.

I myself don't fully understand the change in the zeitgeist, but it is very ugly and disturbing, racist, anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-feminist.

During the campaign for the Chilean plebiscite from time to time I listened to a podcast by two electoral experts for the rightwing Rechazo campaign. Both extremely cynical and machiavellian, but above all, both had a grasp of the psychology of the average Chilean voter that I have never seen on the left.

David Auerbach said...

Prof. Wolff, about optical character recognition: I know the NCState library (and so, probably the UNC library) has industrial strength scanners. That is, they have robust and fast document feeders (for unbound material) and flatbed scanners for bound material (which would be the labor-intensive part). And, of course, high-end character recognition. You could authorize a grad student to traipse over to the library and do all scanning and bring the resulting files back on a thumb drive. The resulting PDFs (make sure the target format is PDF) will have, in the lingo, an OCR layer. The character recognition will have made these PDFs searchable. If the OCR-ing made mistakes a simple spellcheck should catch most. (e.g., if it guess the numeral 1 in place of the correct letter l.). At NCState the scanning+OCR was simply a service of the library.

DJL said...

Meloni's coalition is actually rather solid, not least because it has close to 60% of seats in both parliament and the senate, and commentators in Italy don't expect the resultant government to be short-lived.

aaall said...

s.w., if this account is correct, "Apruebo" never had a chance:

"Rechazo" did what the Right does everywhere - lie, cheat, and steal in order to prevail. They were aided by those favoring the new constitution not having a plan and by horrible signaling by the present government. Add to that a way too long, kitchen sink-like document that preserved (or made worse) the current structure of the government and here we are.

Fascism is on the rise because we humans are merely overclocked apes and too many of us resonate to fascist and Right Neo-liberal memes. Fail to keep staking and we go around again.

"Trump is nowhere the fascist that Meloni is, as some of us have tried to argue on this blog for a while now."

Anon, nit-picking between a grifting malignant narcissist and a cos-playing hobbit isn't reassuring. Folks playing:

are playing Russian roulette.

s. wallerstein said...


I skimmmed through the article and some is correct and there are lots of errors or exaggerations.

First of all, the government was prohibited by law from "taking sides" in the plebiscite. Their only legal function was to inform the public and they did that by printing and handing out free copies of the draft. They hinted as much as they could, within the law, that they were in favor of Apruebo.

Second, the so-called backroom deal of November 2019 was reached between then Congressman Boric and the right with the country in flames: there were rumors that the military was going to intervene to "restore law and order". Yes, according to the deal, a two thirds majority was necessary to put an article in the new constitution, but the author leaves out the fact that in the election for members of the constitution the right did not obtain a third and so over two thirds of the convention was left or left of center.

Far from representing elites as the author claims, the convention, first of all, was based on complete parity between the sexes, required by law and a portion of Native-Americans representing their percentage in the general population. Independents could run lists and thus, many of the members of the convention were not from any elite and/or political party and they included for example a woman who drove a school van, etc.

I could go on correcting errors, but my back hurts and I have better things to do.

s. wallerstein said...


You criticize the U.S. Green Party because among other reasons they debilitate the Democrats, who for all their faults, are, you claim, the only way to hold off the right and to advance in social legislation.

The article you link to is from the Chilean equivalent of the Green Party.

Gabriel Boric, the current president, criticized throughout the article you link to, as a neoliberal sell-out and phoney, is the most leftwing president we've had here since Allende and as far as I can see, "as good as it gets" in 2022. He's pragmatic, he's not a martyr, he's willing to compromise for sure, but by the way, he faced Communist Daniel Jadue in a primary election, Jadue with positions much closer to those of the article and beat him 60% against 40%, which indicates that even among leftwing voters who chose to participate in that primary, his "pragmatic" option was preferred. I voted for Boric in the primary by the way.

LFC said...

Re Italy: I get email from the Foreign Policy media whatever-it-is (more than just a magazine, which is what Foreign Policy used to be exclusively a long time ago) -- anyway, they mention that a recent episode of the podcast called Ones and Tooze, w/ historian Adam Tooze, addresses the issue of the Italian election w reference to fascism etc. You can prob find it by searching on the name of the podcast.

Jerry Fresia said...

As a resident and citizen (dual) of Italy, my only only addition to comments above is this: I think the more appropriate description of the Brothers of Italy/Meloni is not neo-fascism but Christian fascism.

I would agree that Italian political coalitions are unstable as is the support for any given political party - and Meloni represents a greater danger in Italy than Trump/ism has or does in the US.

aaall said...

s.w., I'm not sure where the problem is.

"First of all, the government was prohibited by law from "taking sides" in the plebiscite."

My point was that if the article is correct then the Right opposition had an organized campaign and those in favor of the new constitution didn't. Perhaps your point is revealing. The government didn't have to campaign for approval but there needed to be a well planned and funded coordinated campaign to that end. If there wasn't that is a massive fail.

Besides, how is it that copies weren't distributed to the prisons when the prisoners could vote? While most folks with lives aren't going to have the time or the chops to evaluate a large legal document, prisoners usually have lots of time and every institution will have a few jail house lawyers who can understand and communicate.

I linked to the New Left Review, a UK venue, and Camila Vergara is a Chilean currently at Columbia Law. The Green Party isn't a policy problem, it's a practical problem in a nation with a presidential system and FPTP elections.

JF wrote: "...Meloni represents a greater danger in Italy than Trump/ism has or does in the US."

Then Italy is really in trouble!

s. wallerstein said...

I looked it up and there were 889 prisoners registered to vote in jails, hardly enough to change the election results.

Those jailed had to register (unlike others) because the Electoral Service assigns people a voting place near their normal place of residence.

aaall said...

I mentioned the prisoners because it was low hanging fruit and since prisoners have families there was likely a multiplier. For a campaign this was malpractice.

I understand that the right in any country has it easier because the goal is to afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable so they are practiced in lying, cheating, and stealing because they wouldn't get many votes if they were honest but I wish the left would learn to take that into account when doing policy.

From what I've read and you've shared about the situation in Chile perhaps it would have been better to narrow the focus and perhaps broaden the appeal? A good metric for this would have been to start with how much funding could be raised for a real campaign as well as doing some serious research on what was easy and what was a reach and calibrating based on that. If what you heard on the debates made sense to you and seemed reasonable, it was likely over the heads of a large number of other listeners.

s. wallerstein said...


As a perhaps final note, I'd like to point out several examples of behavior by the radical left in the Convention or in support of the Convention which alienated "normal" people from the Apruebo position and which the author in the New Left Review conveniently omits.

The first day of the Convention radical left delegates booed the national anthem played by an orchestra of school children.

One of the most vociferous radical delegates, Rodrigo Rojas Vade, was elected claiming to have terminal cancer and to owe hundreds of thousands of dollars to the for-profit healthcare system for his treatment. He came on as the "voice" of cancer patients ripped off by the system. The problem was that, a rightwing newspaper investigation discovered, he didn't have cancer and that he had used money raised by several on-line campaigns to travel to Europe.

A week before the plebiscite, the radical fringe held a rally in support of Apruebo where a trans group used the national flag to "wipe their backside".

There are other examples, but you get the idea.