Featured

Mattis: Not Ike, but the Right Shape

It is perfectly normal, and beyond that it is natural and altogether archetypical, for human communities in times of crisis to look for and seek to rally behind a commanding figure. The American electoral process is in many ways already the institutionalization of crisis even in the normal course of events, and this year, with one of the two major parties struggling to fight off a hostile takeover by a crypto-fascist and his movement, has had more of that character than usual.

Posted in Featured, Political Philosophy, Politics Tagged with: , ,

The Egological: Notes on Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit by Martin Heidegger

“The essence of the universe, at first hidden and concealed, has no power to offer resistance to the courageous search for knowledge; it must open itself up before the seeker, set its riches and its depths before his eyes to give him pleasure.”

Posted in Anismism, Featured, Philosophy Tagged with: ,

The Party Deconstructs

In times such as these, party loyalty raises the question of what a party is at all in America 2016 – or at least what it means to be a Republican, if Trump is one, and potentially the standard-bearer.

Posted in Featured, Politics

Star Wars VII and the Ultra-Real

The cinematic rather than merely narrative objective of Star Wars VII is to persuade by being overwhelmingly Star Wars VII.

Posted in Featured, Movies Tagged with: ,

In This Galaxy, Now

The Alt-Right is criticizeable in many ways, and is undoubtedly full of unpleasant people given to saying repugnant things and taking pleasure in doing so, but the Alt-Right is not wrong to point to a transformation whose existence is obvious, but whose significance is difficult to discuss. The denial their statements receive may in turn reflect a determination on the part of a type of true believer to accept the narrative as a kind of sacred truth, rather than as an even conceivably debatable proposition.

Posted in Featured, History, Movies, Neo-Imperialism Tagged with: , ,

Voegelin’s Gnosis, Part 3: Anismism

The point at which the insight or observation of or insistence upon an “anism” or anti-gnosis converts into just another gnosis would be the central problem of anismism, the problem of anismism to itself, already foretold in the paradox of its name and the temptation to start tacking additional “isms” onto it: Anismismism would be very bad anismism as well as a bad joke, the false idol of the return to anism or the image of that return or the discourse of images of that return, and so on, rather than as the actual return to the anismic real.

Posted in Anismism, Featured, History, Philosophy, Religion Tagged with: , , ,

Notes on America in the Philosophy of World History: Ronald Reagan’s ‘A Time for Choosing’

The critique of neo-conservatism and of Reaganism, especially the right-libertarian critique from within conservatism, amounts to a critique of their shared Hegelianism.

Posted in Featured, History, Neo-Imperialism, Political Philosophy Tagged with: , ,

Confederates in Love

“Chris” notes that Civil War monuments are much more common in the South than the North. Throughout much of the South, it is impossible to escape The War. It may be objected at this point, by those of you who

Posted in Featured, notes, Political Philosophy, US History, War Tagged with: , , ,

Will’s Affront (An Untimely Post)

An American conservative attitude toward the nature of crime, as committed by individuals against individuals, and as naming specific acts – not “rape is rape” and “no is no,” but “only real rape is rape” and “only a real no is no” – may prevent conservatives from saying what they really mean: that in fact they agree about the existence of a rape culture, but disagree as to who the real perpetrators have been and are.

Posted in Featured, Internet, notes, Philology, Untimely Tagged with: , , , ,

The Ephemeral Sublime vs The Triumph of Death

"The Triumph of Death," Pieter Bruegel, The Elder

"The Triumph of Death," Pieter Bruegel, The Elder “The Triumph of Death,” Pieter Bruegel, The Elder
To treat the past as nothing because it is or seems inaccessible to us is to imply the nothingness of every present destined to fall into it next – to make the substance of life the triumph of death… and therefore it is not thus.

Posted in Art, Featured, notes, Philosophy

From the Featured Archives

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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