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Comments by CK MacLeod

On “Feet First on Reagan, Neo-Conservatism, and Hegel

Haven't yet seen AMERICAN SNIPER, and not sure when I will, so obviously can't comment on the film itself responsibly, but only on its reception: As I stated on Twitter, the leftwing response so far suggests a mirror image of the rightwing response to AVATAR, including an apparent, predictable refusal or inability to begin with the movie and the popular response to it on their own terms.

On “Will’s Affront (An Untimely Post)

Don't see how the position "disregards" possible disagreement any more than any other position strongly held, or held at all. To believe one thing as opposed to another is inherently or implicitly to hold the other position in lower "regard" in some sense.

As for a full cross-comparative critique of the history and theory of the sexual division of labor, I'll hold off on that - though I recall a past bigly pointless discussion, somewhat pointlessly discussed here:  Same goes for the presumptions underlying "unattached to a free-willed human being who makes decisions for its use." In the meantime, presuming that men simply "had it better" under the old regime removes some of the best arguments for the modern one, it seems to me.


Not a source of shame, b-p, necessarily, or only in the sense that "shame" and sexual exclusivity originate in certain organic realities of childbearing and -raising in pre-modern environments - when infant mortality was a leading cause of death, first for babies, and then for mothers; when paternity was always inherently uncertain; and when simple, effective, inexpensive birth control wasn't widely available. Simply to presume, however, that the old regulation of sexual desire is completely obsolete, or that the initial adaptations to the removal of the old problems are good, balanced, and sustainable, may be mistaken.

The "Real Blame" in conservatives' eyes would be connected to the destruction of virtue, which used to be one effect of rape, an injury to both the direct victim and all of her relations, and now is in this conservative view a cause of rape or what is called rape, and in another sense is already a kind of slow-motion achievement of the same destructive effect. To put it baldy, in case I wasn't clear enough in the post, Will et all seem to think and to be saying or coming very close to saying that progressivism produces an equivalent of rape, that the Swarthmore woman was already as-though-raped, or "destroyed," and that, if there is a rape culture, then the hook-up culture is the real rape culture. The event that six weeks later the victim chooses to view as rape would in this scheme be the culmination of an extended process of degradation. Some radical feminists might once have agreed in some ways.


Ah - now I think I see what you mean. It seems to me that precisely what you describe would be within the outer limit of the crime of rape according to the new definition, and to be appalled with the ghastly Will over his expressing his view does seem at least to evoke the distance between political correctness and how people live.


Which or whose viewpoint would that be, Mr.Phrog - if you can describe it without expressing it?

On “Open Thread

likewise, enchanted frog-puppet.

On “The Docket

seems like Situation Universal - narrative and facts never align perfectly, yet that is the definition of the "true": correspondence of statement and "reality" - but I don't know what you're referring to precisely, so whether your narratives aligns with the facts or how it doesn't.


You'll have to direct me to a definition in the vizzinity of your allusion, don miguel, as I don't understand it. I do think you somewhat get my meaning, however, though may be reluctant to accept that you have gotten it. I'm thinking about publishing the piece soon, since Mediaite picked Will as one of their toxic misinformers or whatever of the year, partly on the basis of his affront on "rape culture," but I am holding off on such activities til after today, Xmas, as to which by the way a Merry one to you. In any event, yes, the con answer to the progs is, implicitly, "You have met the rape culture, and you are it."


That book does look like an interesting read, and it's at minimum amusing to me that the late RMN praised it.

Glad you like the "Docket" addition, and thanks for saying so! Was just going to put up a post about it for the "Web Design"/"How-To" category, but now I think I'll wait until the next "build." It was something I've been thinking about creating for a while now. Want to build some additional features into it, possibly develop it as a "plug-in" for other WordPress users - since I think more popular/engaged bloggers might find it useful to let their readership know a piece on the latest Big Thing is in the works. Will want especially to attach a "subscription/notification/Email Me/Tweet Me/Facebook Me when this Piece Is Published" option. If a writer sees an unusually large number of subscriptions build up, would increase motivation to publish, not least for the greater likelihood of reaching engaged readers. Under some designs, might be a way for readers or supporters to participate in the publishing process in other ways - much to think over here.

FYI - most of the posts currently listed - and I suspect listed in the future - are or will be no-longer-timely pieces, usually things that I began to write in response to an eruption of interest in the marketplace of ideas - a.k.a., "a kerfuffle" - that passed, as such matters tend to do, before I could finish a thought about it in a way I wanted to bring to light. Even the Hegel-Reagan piece was somewhat "timely," but is becoming decreasingly so, since the 50th Anniversary of "A Time for Choosing" was late last October. The "Accounts Deleted" series is about the torture report, so may be virtual fish-wrapping by now. When a timely post becomes untimely, it usually needs to be re-written in a way that justifies it as an anytimely piece, and, in the process of being re-written as not merely "occasional," it reveals more about itself, and at the same time undergoes a removal of excuses for muddy thinking... which's why there's one piece there that has been "on the docket" for a couple years now.

On “The Sane and Rational and Decent Torturer

Oddly enough, I think my analogy is apt enough for the purpose intended.


(Wondering if for the sake of being understood, I need to include a larger excerpt from Sullivan's post.)


As to the larger point - it goes to the difference between a peacetime and wartime concept of "criminality." Killing people of a certain designated type, as many as possible, is somewhat frowned upon in peacetime, for instance, and the leeway for harming innocent or uninvolved bystanders is obviously much greater in wartime.

However, the main point here for "sane and rational and decent" critics of the criticisms isn't that no laws were broken or that those who broke the law or went "over the line" shouldn't be held responsible, but whether the program or operatives or those presiding over it should be held responsible for such lawbreaking. If I design a health care law, and, in the process of its being implemented, unscrupulous vendors defraud new applicants, even to the point of causing serious injury to people, to what extent am I responsible? If I am by some construction at least partly responsible, if not necessarily legally responsible, do I get to introduce my good intentions and the good the law has done in mitigation? Is it fair to call me a criminal?


Not sure which DC quote you're referring to. You understand that the quoted statement is Sullivan's idea of what should have been said, nothing Cheney actually said, right?

On “Turning the Torture Discussion into a Non-Discussion

There you go as usual with your perfect dichotomies... Given the continual and flagrant violation of the convention by numerous signatories, it always has had a whiff of "aspirationality" about it, though arguably some good has been done with it worldwide. Since you're focusing on the US, being a ratified signatory had much to do with why the EIT program was constrained to the extent and in the way that it was, which is something that hyperbolic and distorted commentary tends to downplay or miss entirely - although, of course, no one can say what we or others might have done in the absence of the convention, or, alternatively, if faced with stronger or more well-defined laws and systems and precedents of enforcement in place.


Well, if you want to pursue the legal question relating to ratification, you should read this rather complicated entry:

Note that, upon ratification, among the "numerous (A) reservations, (B) understandings and (C) declarations" was that the US is not required to act at all except in the sense of bringing its own laws into conformity with the convention: So, in short, not the understanding offered by Reagan that has been so widely circulated. The common statement that a treaty upon ratification becomes law of the land is a substantial oversimplification.

(It does not surprise me that the ratification of a torture convention, and interpretation of that ratification, would be a tortu(r)ous process. Fits the torture discussion self-reflexivity theory I offered a while back: )


What the Senate should or could have done, and what they did, are different things. Even without the Senate proviso, how the US does or doesn't go about fulfilling general obligations under a treaty like that one is a complex topic even before we get to the constitutional questions.

As for the hypothetical testicle-crushing, the example was offered, as I noted, by his debate opponent, and Yoo's answer, in addition to being a theoretical statement rather than a policy statement, was not a statement to his employer or an official statement. At the time of the debate, Yoo's employer was UC Berkeley - he left the Bush Administration in 2003.

We could spend all day coming up with absurd or highly unlikely or evil things that a president could order that would not be technically unconstitutional, but that we do not think he or she should or would ever do.


There may be a theoretical problem even deeper, but just on the argument as you put it, when the US Senate ratified the the torture convention in 1994, it did so with a special exception: “.. nothing in this Convention requires or authorizes legislation, or other action, by the United States of America prohibited by the Constitution of the United States as interpreted by the United States.”

I'll look up the full text of the "rider" later, but, even before we get to the self-defense exception, the legal definition of "torture," and for that matter a potential constitutional crisis, you'd have to settle whether applying the treaty against the president's C-in-C powers has already been implicitly "prohibited."

On “The Ephemeral Sublime vs The Triumph of Death

Wouldn't ( and didn't) say it suggested "only" eternalization, but perhaps did say or meant to suggest that its reference to eternity was always implicit, however much we exert or successfully refrain from exerting ourselves or our minds. The vanishing points of emptiness and eternity may not be distinguishable, since in another sense they are not at all, or, in language bound to being, are identically non-sensical.

On “Feet First on Reagan, Neo-Conservatism, and Hegel

Looking again over the quote from Strauss you provide, and noting the one from the Smith review, "one of the cleverest public lawyers" seems clearly to be Schmitt. So, we can forget my "in the air" comment, and wonder, probably idly, why Strauss would speak as he does about Schmitt and Kojeve, brought into proximity by Hegel, Hitler, and the question of the state. (I'm seeing also that the sentence on Kojeve seems to be missing a phrase or two possibly crucial to making sense of it.)


I'm continuing to work as time permits on the post/essay that belongs to these notes, and, while looking for the Strauss quote I had in mind (still haven't done a serious search through my dead tree shelf), I discovered an interesting review - Nazi or Philosopher? - whose main subject is Heidegger, but which attributes the original statement, on the death of Hegel's "constitutional state" in the Nazi regime, to Schmitt, who considered himself anti-Hegelian at the time, but was attacked as a crypto-Hegelian heretic by Nazi ideologues. If Strauss took it from Schmitt, it would be interesting if he suppressed the source consciously or otherwise, though I suppose it's just as possible that the thought was "in the air" among German intellectuals. Quite helpfully, the reviewer, Steven B. Smith, quotes Heidegger replying to Schmitt to the opposite effect - that "it was only then [when the Nazis took power] that [Hegel] began to live." Of course, I think all three were somewhere around half-wrong, for reasons I've already indicated.


Interesting set of problems here. I had (of course?) attempted a longer reply to don miguel. It may strike you as an inordinately fine distinction, but it is quite possible for the US to fulfill and in critical ways to adopt "Hegelianism" or the Hegelian state project without adopting Hegelianism as official ideology. America or rather we could, overall, live in a state of "false consciousness" about ourselves. We may, in other words, be tremendous hypocrites, maintaining Lockean pretensions while everywhere engaged in Hegelian dirty work. Likewise Germany and the EU may maintain ideas about what they are or aspire to be, but be revealed as in critical ways dependents on America, including the dynamic contradictions (or hypocrisies) of Americanism.

I think the problem of ideas in history is naturally quite complex, but regardless of your stand on how they all seem to be working out or not, what I thought absurd was the notion that America would go all in with a or the typically German thinker, while Germany would prefer an Englishman. To me it's a bit like asking, "What if America were Germany, and Germany were America?" or "What if Americans spoke German, and Germans spoke English?"


Not sure what you're aiming for there, don miguel - statement is a little garbled. De Tocqueville also, of course, had the benefit of direct observation of the young United States.


The Strauss center lists the Hegel courses as "pending."

Sending me your collection would would be very kind of you. Depending on the size of the folder you may be able to attach it to an email, or just send the particular transcript in question. If it's too large, then there are user-friendly and free filesharing tools. I can email you later at the address you use when you comment, but right now I have to return to work in the salt mine.

*Comment archive for non-registered commenters assembled by email address as provided.


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