“the false notion of heroic self-made aristocracy”

an enlightened utterance1 in response to which we will note, with our friend Mr. Hume: “We have… no choice left but betwixt a false reason and none at all.”2 Rousseau concurs, but Nietzsche remains more popular among “us” (not “really” more popular in the more material sense, in which Rousseau and Hume reign), because, in addition to reaching that same conclusion, and before he descended into complications and dissociations indistinguishable from “none at all,” he invited us to make up and celebrate any more pleasing reason-no-more-true-nor-false. In the social-political dimension, the problem that Nietzsche encountered and we encounter, or that we simply ignore if it it suits our needs or preferences or madness, is that the peculiar false reason of the mass liberal democratic regime form remains a true reason precisely to the extent that, like the dying fairy, it is always applauded back to life. If the people childishly choose false democracy democratically, then it is a truly-if-childishly and truly-because-childishly democratically chosen false democracy, more authentically democratic than the rejected ideally or supposedly authentic democracy, and the lonely post-Humean Nietzschean has nothing to offer against the massed innocents except the necessarily generally unheard assertion that he or she, for his or her own perfectly unaccountable reasons, prefers something else, as if we might ever have had some doubt on that score, and even though or because he or she utterly lacks the power to produce that something else except within the limits of the room set aside for him or her by his or her family or perhaps the state, if family or state so chooses on the basis of connections and assumptions, those also false notions truly believed and believed true, that family and state retain against the lonely post-Humean Nietzschean’s ridicule, whether shouted or scrawled or whispered in free stride naked back and forth across the floor, covered in his or her but to be honest typically his own filth, impotently priapic, priapically impotent, occasionally pausing to play piano also with his elbows, and calling it supreme performance.




  1. The comment appears at a discussion generally referencing “Nietzsche’s Marginal Children”, an essay by Dr. Corey Robin in The Nation; also discussed downthread at “Driving Blind: Foucault, Nietzsche, and Dotcom” at The League of Ordinary Gentlemen. []
  2. A Treatise of Human Nature, Book I, Part IV, Section VII, in David Hume Collection (Kindle Location 4147). []

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  1. You’re right of course, we should all admit we are nothing without the sovereign, frankly that Magna Carta thing was a step too far.

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Noted & Quoted

TV pundits and op-ed writers of every major newspaper epitomize how the Democratic establishment has already reached a consensus: the 2020 nominee must be a centrist, a Joe Biden, Cory Booker or Kamala Harris–type, preferably. They say that Joe Biden should "run because [his] populist image fits the Democrats’ most successful political strategy of the past generation" (David Leonhardt, New York Times), and though Biden "would be far from an ideal president," he "looks most like the person who could beat Trump" (David Ignatius, Washington Post). Likewise, the same elite pundit class is working overtime to torpedo left-Democratic candidates like Sanders.

For someone who was not acquainted with Piketty's paper, the argument for a centrist Democrat might sound compelling. If the country has tilted to the right, should we elect a candidate closer to the middle than the fringe? If the electorate resembles a left-to-right line, and each voter has a bracketed range of acceptability in which they vote, this would make perfect sense. The only problem is that it doesn't work like that, as Piketty shows.

The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between.

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Understanding Trump’s charisma offers important clues to understanding the problems that the Democrats need to address. Most important, the Democratic candidate must convey a sense that he or she will fulfil the promise of 2008: not piecemeal reform but a genuine, full-scale change in America’s way of thinking. It’s also crucial to recognise that, like Britain, America is at a turning point and must go in one direction or another. Finally, the candidate must speak to Americans’ sense of self-respect linked to social justice and inclusion. While Weber’s analysis of charisma arose from the German situation, it has special relevance to the United States of America, the first mass democracy, whose Constitution invented the institution of the presidency as a recognition of the indispensable role that unique individuals play in history.

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[E]ven Fox didn’t tout Bartiromo’s big scoops on Trump’s legislative agenda, because 10 months into the Trump presidency, nobody is so foolish as to believe that him saying, “We’re doing a big infrastructure bill,” means that the Trump administration is, in fact, doing a big infrastructure bill. The president just mouths off at turns ignorantly and dishonestly, and nobody pays much attention to it unless he says something unusually inflammatory.On some level, it’s a little bit funny. On another level, Puerto Rico is still languishing in the dark without power (and in many cases without safe drinking water) with no end in sight. Trump is less popular at this point in his administration than any previous president despite a generally benign economic climate, and shows no sign of changing course. Perhaps it will all work out for the best, and someday we’ll look back and chuckle about the time when we had a president who didn’t know anything about anything that was happening and could never be counted on to make coherent, factual statements on any subject. But traditionally, we haven’t elected presidents like that — for what have always seemed like pretty good reasons — and the risks of compounding disaster are still very much out there.

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