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Comments by bob

On “Nested Comments Unbound 1.0 Now Available from the WordPress Repo

that's why I replied out of place - seemed like it might duplicate more chaotic dynamics of large sites.

On “All the News that’s Fit to Kill (OAG #8)

You could be right.

OTOH, your remark presupposes a sense of agency that my sense is, Land rejects, that the "machinc" agency he understands to be the case would be located in the larger assemblage that intends to advance his program.

Following this interpretation, what you take t be irony would be just part of the machinic feedback loop seeking to maximize chaotic efficiency.

I do have to admit, all of this did have a glancing influence on my Cyborg posts. And seeking to eliminate irony has an ironic appeal for me. But I think Land sees this as epiphenomenon.

Your remarks seek a fully synthetic perspective. Land seems to me to locate his remark not just a step broader in perspective, but from the perspective that there is no perspective.

OTOH you may be right.


A while ago OT had an extended discussion about the Alt Right that went into some detail about its ideas and origins. At the time I wondered about the absence of discussion about Land, who has I believed been called the "Dark Prince" of the whole thing. I find his writing some combination of impenetrable and puerile, but a lot of people take him seriously, and because of that I suppose we should too. For example here's a primer by Ray Brassier.

My interpretation of "Magnificent Prophecy" as Landian assessment, was that the categories of irony and sympathy don't apply one way or the other. Instead, it represents a kind of "I wish I said that in the course of my own writing." Any comment on WaPo or journalism in general would be, in this interpretation,incidental, mere contingent vehicle for a truly "magnificent prophecy". But I could be wrong.


For what it's worth, Nick Land calls the slogan a "magnificent prophecy", ie aspirational,in an approving tone, similar in that way to ATNTFTP.

On “On Emulating the TP vs Trump’s GOP

I dunno, I think a lot of people looked at the TPers not as patriotic Americans but as bat shit crazy. Their difficulty in finding non-bsc candidates for various Senate races, and their success in getting bsc candidates elected in safe R seats, illustrate this.

But yeah, certain dynamics are present in all politics. I guess I'm pointing to a certain fluidity in the situation where past definitions and dynamics have less sway than in the past, and my hope/contention that enough of the new new left (maybe a whole new nomenclature is needed, the post contemporary Left perhaps ie PC Left) has been developing in fits and starts a workable approach.


Sure, that's a fair characterization of the discussion outlined in the tweets. My point is that the information we have about "the left" is already considerably concrete and operationalized. Already a broad front has emerged that incorporates both the disrupt and persuade styles. Indeed, I think there is a sophisticated analysis/effort to use both poles according to how events unfold.

The question then is the sustainability of all this. But I think it's important to see that there exists a portion of the left that has moved considerably beyond Occupy's inability to figure out how to get the drummers from drumming all night and pissing off people living in the area who might otherwise be sympathetic.

My point is that there is a continuity of individuals who have been developing analysis and tactics in a focused way, testing them as they go along. The discussion among them is past just being general or theoretical/


Your last comment is the most useful of the thread.

If we're talking about the left's tactics, I think we need to go back as least to the D primary. My view then, and still now, is that, among other things BLM organizers (too narrow a label, but they were the most visible) used the Sander's campaign as a testing and proving ground for disruption and confrontation. One of the skills I think they learned in all of that was the need for discipline among both the organizers and the rank and file.

They were not natural allies of Bernie's, but he seemed willing to be co-opted for the organizational boost.

The Women's March was impressive in both its organization and discipline, allowing it to make effective use of an organic "moment".

Afterwards much opining focused on the idea that while it was impressive, they needed to develop an affirmative program to go forward.

While true, this was trivial. The program has been under development now for months, mostly behind the scenes. The contest for DNC chair is something of a proxy fight not only between the 2 wings of the D's Sanders and Clinton, but also the 2 wings of the Sanders coalition - Sanders and his young supporters, who initially faulted him for focusing too much on economics and not enough on intersectionality.

On “Stephen Walt: Trump Has Already Blown It – Foreign Policy

sure no problem. btw I did subscribe to this but haven't gotten any notices for new comments. do I need to check new replies box every time? before the notices were for all comments to the post. is this now only for each comment?


Yeah, courage is perhaps a particularly fraught virtue. Emerson asserts that one must have "practical power" to have courage, so one unaccustomed to giving a speech is not faulted for being afraid t do so. He also writes:

It is plain that there is no separate essence called courage, no cup or cell in the brain, no vessel in the heart containing drops or atoms that make or give this virtue ; but it is the right or healthy state of every man, when he is free to do that which is constitutional to him to do. It is directness, – the instant performing of that which he ought.

A lot hangs on that "ought". Terrorists, snipers and ambushers all can be characterized as either courageous or cowardly depending on how one construes that "ought".


Just so. That's my point - he didn't seem to mean precisely "tragic", but only as you say "profoundly bad outcome." My poorly made point is that, given the care he takes in the rest of his essay, he should continue it to the final word.


Certainly there is many who voted for that fellow will meet a tragic impasse - enabling the outcome they sought to avoid. But it seems to me that Walt isn't making this point - or only in passing.

In the passage you quote he writes "By that standard, in short, Donald J. Trump is already a failure. Didn’t take him long. I would say it was “Sad!” but it’s not. It’s tragic." That is he himself is the tragic figure.

As I said, I would normally let the causal use of "tragic" pass without comment. But here, if we are to understand anything about the unfolding events, I think we should use a group of words, "tragic" among them both judiciously and precisely.


Normally I let the casual use of "tragic" pass without comment. But here, and I suspect increasingly, what we mean by "tragic" when we say "tragic" matters.

Is it the Oedipal, earnest pursuit of doing the right thing only to have the disaster we sought to avoid be the result? Or is it an expression of the soteriological distaste of bad things happening to good people?

Walt guesses that that fellow has no endgame in mind, relying on esoteric plans that have no exoteric correlate. That fellow says he will save us all, we need only to believe.

If so it seems to not even have the good faith of hubris. If so it is not tragic, only mere dementia.

On “The Data That Turned the World Upside Down – Motherboard

Thanks for all the clarifications.

Yeah, not only am I a Twitter holdout but FB as well. Both Karen and Emma are on FB and get a lot out of it, but it sounds like the overload would outweigh any benefits for me.

My guess yesterday when I saw the comment was in moderation was that the changes you've made inadvertently meant that having to re-enter my name etc, meant it went into moderation. In the past I've had to re-enter name etc if I hadn't commented in some shortish period, but that did not mean it went into moderation.

So let's see...


"near real time self loading"? My occasional insight and rhetorical success usually depends on taking my time - some times a lot of it. And, as you note in Extraordinary Comments "Comments that add as much to this site as the posts do". Many of these, and other, more ordinary, but enjoyable comments and exchanges here are longish to quite long.

And of course there's the comments here I've written and didn't post because I realized I hadn't thought it through as much as I thought I had, or were not really how I wanted to represent myself.

So I look t any effort to keep things brief as a bit of a loss. I suppose there's a self loading time that strikes a balance. I look forward to the experiment.

On ““Human nature only really exists in an achieved community of minds.” – Hegel

Thanks for contextualizing the context. It reminds me of a discussion I've been running across that places philosophy in the same inferior position to neuroscience as Hegel places common sense to philosophy.

In this discussion, philosophy become an extension of the heuristic approach begun by common sense. This approach, as subtle and nuanced as it may be in some of its iterations, is still armchair thinking about thought. This is the source of thinking of consciousness as the "hard problem".

Neuroscience tends toward a reductionism toward consciousness that renders the skeptic-centerism of philosophy as only another heuristic.

So here, Hegel's observation, as resonant as it is (and even I think it is), falls in on itself as an example of what it criticizes.

So for example, that fellow is a pure example of Hegel's common sense man as we are likely to find. And he indeed is frightening and anti-the-human as we are likely to find. To analyze him as a neuroscience specimen is unsatisfying and probably useless. So we are left only with our common sense.


I'll be interested to see how you make use of this. To me, it seems like a straw man argument. "The man of common sense" as described, resembles my drunken relatives trying to have a political discussion during a holiday dinner. Sober, most of them were reasonably reasonable people. Yet I came to recognize their humanity in both modes. The "roots" and "nature" of humanity surely include both impulses, manifesting at different times, to different degrees, in the same individual according to the ebb and flow of both nature and nurture.

On “Si Vis Bellum, Part 3: Always Again

It may be that the latin phrse is best understood as implicitly transitive: If you want to make peace with your enemy, prepare for war with him. Once the USSR reverted to Russia, that specific partner in global war and peace disappeared, replaced with just another regional power.

The Right has had conniptions about their view that O's has been unwilling to "name the enemy". Doing so seems to provide, among other things, a unitary enough enemy to war/peace with. One of the problems with intervening in Syria has been the difficulty in having this kind of clarity - there just didn't seem to be any guys good enough for us to fight with/for - both conceptually and operationally.

In the Cold Way era, the conceptual clarity carried the day against any operational ambiguity. Now all we have is ambiguity.

A new organizing phrase may be: If you want clarity, prepare for ambiguity. If you want ambiguity, prepare for clarity

On “Si Vis Bellum, Part 1: “Militarism” and “Interventionism”

Some rambling thoughts:

As you discuss in the post, some of this is definitional vagueness. It probably is possible to take a metrical approach to this - establish the parameters and then measure them in various countries. A couple might be the number and level of military people in the non-military parts of govt, the % of the pop who have served in the military, the ratio of GDP to the military budget etc. Most probably take a more heuristic approach using say WWII Germ and Japan as templates. This may work most of the time, but its likely to miss less obvious situations.

For example Turkey has significant military integration into the govt, providing in fact the basis for its attempts to integrate into the Western liberal order, until it didn't. Also all men are require to serve in the military.

How this relates to "interventionism" seems unclear to me. So Turkey is fairly militaristic, but has ben reluctant to intervene outside its own borders. I use "intervene" here to indicate the imperial mindset many Turks still have, so that their efforts against the Kurds for example are a kind of internal intervention, intravention perhaps.

This may describe in a way, the US approach which is perhaps to see the entire world as its "living space". So here too intravention may be a useful word to describe at least some aspects of the enterprise, even if not to carry the day altogether.

Not sure what my point here is here other than to begin to sort out some thoughts on this large subject.

On “No One Can Say: Context/Contest (OAG #3)

sorry, my "this" in "after reading this" was disantecedent. The "this" I meant was Mr Read's piece, not yours, which I agree with and look forward to its postcedents.


Yeah, after reading this both maximally and minimally, I want to yell into a bullhorn "Step away from the theorizing!"

It's kinda like the perennial theorizing that we live in a computer simulation. Confusion and infinite regress combine to form a poor foundation for insight.

btw when I clicked on the "No One Can Say,," title of my email version of the post, I was sent to a page on your site saying the page could not be found.

On ““The Kremlin Didn’t Elect Trump – Obama Did”: Outline of Implications of Russian Information Operations in the 2016 Elections

Given the state of confusion/unknowledge about the whole situation, I think it's premature to characterize O's response to the put(in)ative attack. We don't what if there was an attack, if there was, its scope, or O's response.

I think Bratton's The Stack discusses these issues, but I'd have to go back and review it to be sure if its relevant. This lays out some of the basic issues of cyberwar.

On “Me: Aftermath or An 11/9 Twitterography – Here

I've mostly been not reading analysis, rants, predictions etc. My take is that the past is now an especially poor guide to the near future, and that the best approach is to, for the time being regard the whole steaming mess as a black box. Input ==> Output. What happens in between is unknowable for the immediate future.

For what its worth, my assessment of that fellow includes the idea that he is both impulsive and indecisive. Which may be an only somewhat finer grain assessment than to say "erratic". But the indecisive aspect I think is underappreciated because of all the bluster.

So it matters more than usual, and it always matters a lot, who he surrounds himself with, or who succeeds in surrounding themselves around him.

A lot also depends on what exactly the first few controversies are. They could easily equally propel or impede policy initiatives. They will be the "initial conditions", the movement of the butterfly wings, that set in motion the force and direction of the hurricane.

On “Alexandra Petri: Ted Cruz and his conscience amicably part ways – The Washington Post

thanks - haven't been reading it for a while. (now not so) new editors moved things more to lefty orthodoxy, so generally not that interesting. Maybe I'll give a chance again.

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