Sunday, January 25, 2009

Illusion of free will (Grayling)

"Almost every indication from sociobiology, evolutionary psychology and neurophilosophy supports the deterministic side of the argument, entailing that our sense of being choice-makers, deliberators, option-possessors, who could have done otherwise in most of our actions, is an illusion. On the evidence flooding in from these sources, we are as other social animals, only worse off in that we operate under an enormous error theory about our own nature, falsely thinking that we have free will and that we are therefore genuinely ethical creatures. It was from this error—if it is one—that Spinoza sought to free us by arguing in his Ethics that once we recognise that we live by necessity, we cease to repine, and thus are liberated from unhappiness.

For of course the very idea of ethics premises freedom of the will. There is no logic in praising or blaming individuals for what they do unless they could have done otherwise, any more than one would praise a pebble for rolling downhill upon being dislodged by rain...."

Reinforcement ware via Gibbeting, circa 1700

Friday, January 23, 2009

So Help me, Logos

“OATH, n. In law, a solemn appeal to the Deity, made binding upon the
conscience by a penalty for perjury.” [Bierce]

John Quincy Adams did not swear the Oath of Allegiance on a Bible, believing
that the Bible should be reserved for strictly religious purposes. Instead, JQA
swore--quite properly, according to Contingencies--on the US Constitution. Given
the separation clause of First Amendment, it's questionable whether any
politician should be allowed to take an oath on a Bible, or Koran, or Torah, or
any religious text, or use religious language. JFK did not did not take the oath
on the bible, though he had a Douay Bible--french catholic version of Good
Book-- on the podium. Herbert Hoover, descendent of Quakers, affirmed, but did
not swear the oath: that was the tradition of many puritans and protestants, who
considered oath-swearing and pledging fealty to a worldly institution like the
State a type of pagan idolatry, or at least vaguely latinate--papist. On
President Obama's second time through the oath, he did not use a Bible--southern
baptists may be calling him Apollyon for that right this minute.

John Marshall, Caiaphas of American history, swore in Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, notwithstanding his dislike for the Democrats--including Madison, reportedly
(tho' Madison shifted his politics a few times, going from Federalist, to
Democrat, and then to a slightly more moderate position). Evidence suggests that
presidents and senators until about time of Abe Lincoln did NOT generally take
the oath on the Good book: Lincoln, closer to fundamentalism than many realize,
made it mandatory for many state officials. The Constitutional oath itself
probably follows more from royalist tradition than from say baptists, or the
more liberal founding fathers. Though the Federalist papers are not handy, I
suspect Alexander Hamilton, swashbuckler and duellist--at least until Burr put
an end to that-- had a say in retaining oaths for his yankee republic.

The oath was not a mere formality (and at least JQ Adams realized that),
but a solemn occasion, akin to the vassal-knights pledging fealty to a king, or
baron: ancien regime oaths were contracts--not so different than "touching the body" ala La Cosa Nostra-- and the contract signings were often attended by a sacrifice or ritual of some sort--cue the statist trumpeters, and tympani with somber Haydn-like concerto. Oaths also seem prima facie evidence of deliberation, and thus have something to do with liberty, and Intentionality, in the philosophical sense: a elected official promises to uphold a specific course of action. Promises, and other tokens of Honor, even as vague as an oath of office, aren't exactly phenomena: though perhaps some astute naturalist could conceivably interpret oaths as totems or meme, of some sort: statist-Ordnung totem. Alas, the great majority of Yokeli Amerikanus do not understand the meaning of Honor, and the discussions of ritualistic aspects of the oath (and inauguration itself) are left to obscure corners of blogdom.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Send your AC Grayling

""""Can ethics be derived from evolution by natural selection?

""""Given that human beings have evolved by natural selection (with genetic drift and some other factors perhaps assisting), and are ethical creatures, it follows ab esse ad posse that ethics can be derived from evolution by natural selection.
That, though, might not be to answer the purport of the question, which asks: would natural selection be sufficient to produce creatures with a consciousness of ethical principles and a tendency to wish to observe them and see them observed?
The idea might be that whereas other social animals have evolved behaviours that subserve the interests of their sociality—dominance orderings, co-operation in hunting and watching for predators—this does not amount to ethics, the idea of which at least premises an awareness of the demands and responsibilities ethics involves, and the possibility of their non-observance, not least deliberately. Among other animals the evolved social behaviours are largely invariant and automatic; a putative "ethics" that is choicelessly a result of hard-wiring could not be ethics.
Immediately one says this, one has begged what is possibly the hardest question known to metaphysics and moral philosophy: that of free will. Almost every indication from sociobiology, evolutionary psychology and neurophilosophy supports the deterministic side of the argument, entailing that our sense of being choice-makers, deliberators, option-possessors, who could have done otherwise in most of our actions, is an illusion. On the evidence flooding in from these sources, we are as other social animals, only worse off in that we operate under an enormous error theory about our own nature, falsely thinking that we have free will and that we are therefore genuinely ethical creatures. It was from this error—if it is one—that Spinoza sought to free us by arguing in his Ethics that once we recognise that we live by necessity, we cease to repine, and thus are liberated from unhappiness.
For of course the very idea of ethics premises freedom of the will. There is no logic in praising or blaming individuals for what they do unless they could have done otherwise, any more than one would praise a pebble for rolling downhill upon being dislodged by rain. So this month's question becomes, by these selective pressures: could natural selection, resulting in the adaptations otherwise distinctive of human descent, have produced free will?
To answer that requires a clearer conception of "free will." Its formal identifier is the "genuinely could have done otherwise" requirement: but not only does that itself require unpacking, we also need to look for the fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) traces that suggest which structures in the brain import novelty into the world's causal chains, making their possessor a true agent, and not merely a patient—a sufferer—of the universe's history. So the question evolves yet again: could finding such a thing even be a possibility?"""""""

Let's hope so, AC. The contrary--proof that humans are automatons (or even mostly automatons)---would not bode well for those in religion business, or justice business (or academic business, really).


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Veblen on marxism

"""The neo-Hegelian, romantic, Marxian standpoint was wholly
personal, whereas the evolutionistic -- it may be called
Darwinian -- standpoint is wholly impersonal. The continuity
sought in the facts of observation and imputed to them by the
earlier school of theory was a continuity of a personal kind, --
a continuity of reason and consequently of logic. The facts were
construed to take such a course as could be established by an
appeal to reason between intelligent and fair-minded men. They
were supposed to fall into a sequence of logical consistency. The
romantic (Marxian) sequence of theory is essentially an
intellectual sequence, and it is therefore of a teleological
character. The logical trend of it can be argued out. That is to
say, it tends to a goal. It must eventuate in a consummation, a
final term. On the other hand, in the Darwinian scheme of
thought, the continuity sought in and imputed to the facts is a
continuity of cause and effect. It is a scheme of blindly
cumulative causation, in which there is no trend, no final term,
no consummation. The sequence is controlled by nothing but the
vis a tergo of brute causation, and is essentially mechanical.
The neo-Hegelian (Marxian) scheme of development is drawn in the
image of the struggling ambitious human spirit: that of Darwinian
evolution is of the nature of a mechanical process.6

Va va voom, Venus

What difference, now, does it make if the materialistic
conception is translated from the romantic concepts of Marx into
the mechanical concepts of Darwinism? It distorts every feature
of the system in some degree, and throws a shadow of doubt on
every conclusion that once seemed secure.7 The first principle of
the Marxian scheme is the concept covered by the term
"Materialistic," to the effect that the exigencies of the
material means of life control the conduct of men in society
throughout, and thereby indefeasibly guide the growth of
institutions and shape every shifting trait of human culture.
This control of the life of society by the material exigencies
takes effect thru men's taking thought of material (economic)
advantages and disadvantages, and choosing that which will yield
the iller material measure of life. When the materialistic
conception passes under the Darwinian norm, of cumulative
causation, it happens, first, that this initial principle itself
is reduced to the rank of a habit of thought induced in the
speculator who depends on its light by the circumstances of his
life, in the way of hereditary bent, occupation, tradition,
education, climate, food supply, and the like. But under the
Darwinian norm the question of whether and how far material
exigencies control human conduct and cultural growth becomes a
question of the share which these material exigencies have in
shaping men's habits of thought; i.e., their ideals and
aspirations, their sense of the true, the beautiful, and the
good. Whether and how far these traits of human culture and the
institutional structure built out of them are the outgrowth of
material (economic) exigencies becomes a question of what kind
and degree of efficiency belongs to the economic exigencies among
the complex of circumstances that conduce to the formation of
habits. It is no longer a question of whether material exigencies
rationally should guide men's conduct, but whether, as a matter
of brute causation, they do induce such habits of thought in men
as the economic interpretation presumes, and whether in the last
analysis economic exigencies alone are, directly or indirectly,
effective in shaping human habits of thought.""""

To reiterate: "Whether and how far these traits of human culture and the
institutional structure built out of them are the outgrowth of
material (economic) exigencies becomes a question of what kind
and degree of efficiency belongs to the economic exigencies among
the complex of circumstances that conduce to the formation of
habits." Sehr schoen. Pure Veblen-speak--.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Smackdown: Rawls vs. Zizek(update!)

"The scary prospect that Žižek raises in Welcome to the Desert of the Real is that the status of Homo sacer (## note) does not so much pertain to the excluded as it does to the possibility of being excluded, i.e. the fact that, due to political contingencies, all of us—citizens—can at any time be stripped of our citizenship rights, i.e. that we can all be reduced to Homo sacer (95). Since Rawls defines men as those who can be citizens, there is always someone who cannot be a citizen."

Yes, scary: though not as scary as say the Bolsheviks circa 1917 denying the right to vote to various groups, whether bourgeois liberals, or peasant anarchists. There were always thousands who could not be citizens under Hegelian statism, whether of russian, or prussian variety. Zizek himself has often praised Bolshevik tactics, and has also suggested some may be excluded from the worker's utopia to come--whether the usual booj-wah villain, or "populists", whether romantic leftists, or presumably rightist wingnuts.

Zizek wants to caricature Rawls’ system by any means necessary and make it appear like hypocritical liberal capitalism, or something (when it’s really a type of socialism, rooted in social contract), and at the same time suggest his own quasi-Bolshevik theory as a real democratic alternative. Zizek's Rawls-bashing does not therefore concern the problems with the political theory per se, but, via the usual pomo-jester tactics, allows him to ridicule the yankee-yokels and Ivy League, if not Enlightenment tradition itself (repeat social contract, mention Locke, or Adam Smith, the Constitution, science, etc.). Rector Zizek in effect conducts a show trial of Rawls and Rawlsian theory, and by extension Anglo-American thought as a whole.

Rawl’s updating of his theory (from man to citizen) improved the ToJ, Contingencies avers, especially the original position: the ToJ left open the problem of rationality (really agency); with Pol-Lib, citizenship is granted to rational people, and rational people decide on the societal structure (in brief). Even James Madison--er, the good Madison--might agree to that. The two over-riding justice principles (see note 1) of Rawls' ToJ are left intact. It should be recalled that Rawls is not a utilitarian as some suggest, nor a libertarian ala Nozick or Locke: democratic socialism seems the most apt description, yet the rationality requirements would preclude, seemingly, complete collectivist equality , whether in terms of wealth or rights. A nurse is not a doctor. A custodian is not an engineer. Its not about empowering bums, but empowering skilled and qualified (and taking down the pimps). Rawls did not adequately address that meritocracy issue in the ToJ.

The question remains what rational people would actually choose if forced to make disinterested decisions regarding a just society: the real objections are not from Nozick's MBA-libertarianism, or from a Zizek-Marxism perspective (the orthodox marxist simply rejects any reforms anyway which allow capitalism, if not the bourgeois to exist; so even if Rawls' theory were sound, it's not as sound as insurrection). The Rawlsian "maximin" hinges on the hypothetical Original Position, and the veil of ignorance; the same criticism levelled against Hobbes' political ideas for years applies. For one, without any real binding force, the rational choice made under the Veil seems rather provisional if not capricious: one might choose monarchy, and non-cooperation of various sorts (even say, joining the mafia), just as in the Prisoner's Dilemma a perp might choose to rat out his buddy instead of cooperating, notwithstanding that the potential loss is substantially greater. (It could be set up to be binding, we suggest, using modern technology, and computing/the Net: a Rawls bot--).

Tho' the hypothetical may be a stretch for many, the Rawlsian social contract, like Hobbes', does hint that social institutions and economic transactions should be grounded in something like a social contract which presumes fairness--a level playing field and equality as starting point (thus the Rawlsian also in principle opposed to monopoly and dynasties of various sorts--as were the more liberal Founding fathers). The Constitution, while very important does not suffice; a more-than-minimal state then is required in order to implement distributive justice. Lacking some distributive justice maxims, we are left to libertarianism, if not anarcho-capitalism (not to say wall streets, bailouts, the Forbes 400 gang, billionaire brokers or porn producers living a few miles from starving teachers and other skilled workers, etc etc).

Although Zizek and most marxists might object to Rawls' Difference Principle (if they bother to read it at all) the DP offers a political mechanism whereby the rich provide substantial economic assistance to the impoverished and miserable--the working poor--not based on mere charity, or handouts, but on optimization (and on the Original Position OP--so accept the OP, then DP follows. A bit more schematic than British empiricists, emotional liberalism, or romantic marxism). It's Hobbes via Rousseau (and a bit of Kant--but only as an end, ie kingdom of ends) rather than Lockean. Locke's attacks on the Divine Right of Kings are and should remain commendable, yet what's needed is an attack on the Divine Right of Corporation (most leftist/progressives hint at that, but Rawls did the dirty work).

Rawls’s criteria of citizenship based on public reason (see note 2) offers a possible solution to the problem of the romantic masses, and ill-equipped, uneducated rebels: were some 3rd world “homo sacer” (really a typical Zizek straw man; the term is from Agamben, in latin means sacred man, but used to mean something like "loozer") as provably as intelligent or competent as Biff and Bunny in the ‘burbs, then he has the same rights to citizenship (and to political participation). Given Zizek’s own attacks on populism, he also seems to object to romantic marxism: so at times he suggests some shall be excluded from societal and/or political participation (tho it’s probably a lot more than he lets on)--thus, Zizek has his own "homo sacers"(and a mineshaft to toss 'em in). Rawls arguably did not go far enough in terms of specifying a citizenship criteria, but it’s quite more workable than the usual marxist hype (including Zizek’s–really on examination another romantic himself).

The ToJ does lack that spirit of romantic rebellion which many cafe-leftists mistake for politics, however. Rawls put his shoulder to the wheel, but he wasn’t a Che Guevara, Sartre, or Chomsky, or Zizek, etc. He was more like a Galbraith or Dewey than existentialist guru. That lack of continentalist swagger bothers Zizek more than anything; Rawls as symbol of academic reformist, etc, if not American mediocrity. Irregardless the TOJ’s a workable system, and given the history of botched Hegelianism–-stalin, nazis, mao, etc.– the TOJ should be given serious consideration as a type of progressive template.

1). Rawls definition of a just society:

(a) Each person has the same indefeasible claim to a fully adequate scheme of equal basic liberties, which scheme is compatible with the same scheme of liberties for all; and

(b) Social and economic inequalities are to satisfy two conditions: first, they are to be attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity; and second, they are to be to the greatest benefit of the least-advantaged members of society (the difference principle).)

2). public reason, per Jefferson: [I]t is proper that you should understand what I deem the essential principles of our government, and consequently those which ought to shape its administration . . . . [They include] the diffusion of information and the arraignment of all abuses at the bar of public reasons..."

##: re "Homo sacer"-- "The meaning of the term sacer in Ancient Roman religion is not fully congruent with the meaning it took after Christianization, and which was adopted into English as sacred. In early Roman religion sacer means anything "set apart" from common society, which equally covers the meanings of "hallowed" and "cursed". The homo sacer was thus simply a man expunged from society and deprived of all civil rights and all functions in civil religion."" (not "homo," like well, your fatboy preacher worries about, Tammany McDreckson)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Monday, January 12, 2009

Bush, Obama and the Gaza Blitz/Buchanan

Buchanan's wrong most of the time, but not wrong all of the time:

"""Unwilling to control its fighters, who fired scores of missiles into Israel at the end of their six-month ceasefire, Hamas gave Israel the provocation it needed to deliver a savage blow to the Palestinian enclave in Gaza.

Saturday was the bloodiest day in the history of the Palestinian people since being driven from their homes in the War of 1948. One thousand were killed or wounded, as the Israeli Air Force conducted over a hundred strikes — on graduation ceremonies for Hamas fighters, police stations and storage sites for rockets.

About Israel’s right and duty to defend its border towns, there is no dispute. When Hamas permits Gaza to be used as a launch pad for rockets, it must expect retaliation. Nor can Hamas claim some right to dictate the limits of that retaliation.

Yet the wisdom of so savage a retribution for rockets that killed not one Israeli is open to question. And crass Israeli politics seems to be behind this premeditated and planned blitz. With Likud’s hawkish “Bibi” Netanyahu ahead in the polls for the Feb. 10 election, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Labor’s candidate, had to show that he, too, could be ruthless with Hamas. Kadima Party candidate and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has an even greater need than the highly decorated Barak to show toughness. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, departing in scandal, wants to exit in a blaze of glory, to blot out the memory of a botched war against Hezbollah that he launched in the summer of 2006.

However, while Israel’s politicians all seem to have a stake in these devastating strikes, Israel herself will pay the price. Given the casualty toll, over 300 dead and 1,300 wounded as of this writing, Hamas will have to exact its pound of flesh. The Hamas wing that seeks renewed war with Israel will now shout into silence the wing working with Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak on a new ceasefire.

The moderate Palestinian Mahmoud Abbas, who has been talking to Israel, testifying to her good faith, has been made to appear the puppet and fool. A new intifada spreading to the West Bank, with suicide attacks inside Israel, is now possible.
Moderate Arabs, who have recognized Israel or backed peace, will now be seen by the Arab street as appeasers impotent to stop the public suffering of the Palestinian people.

As for President Bush’s hopes of midwifing a peace that would create a Palestinian state, they are as dead as the Annapolis process he set in train. In advancing peace in the Middle East, Bush’s eight-year record is now a near-absolute failure.
For four years, Bush refused to talk to Yasir Arafat, though Bill Clinton had negotiated with him, as had four Israeli prime ministers, two of who shared a Nobel Prize with Arafat. In his second term, Bush, after insisting Hamas be included in free elections in Palestine, refused to recognize Hamas when it won those elections.
Arafat was a terrorist and Hamas is a terrorist organization, declared Bush, and we don’t negotiate with terrorists. Yet, Bush de-listed Libya as a state sponsor of terror and sent Condi Rice to chat up Col. Gadhafi, though Gadhafi still has on his hands the blood of scores of American school kids from the Lockerbie massacre of 1989 that Libya and Gadhafi engineered For eight years, like the “dummy” in a hand of bridge, Bush has sat mute as his Israeli partner, Sharon or Olmert, played America’s cards as well as their own. The Bush response to Saturday’s carnage, as anticipated, was to blame Hamas for causing it and urge Israelis to be careful about civilian casualties as they go about their reprisals.

Whatever Israel decides, we support. For eight years that has been the most reliable guide to U.S. Middle East policy. And Barack Obama? Forty-eight hours after the Israeli blitz began, he and his national security team remain silent.
Hopefully, Obama will bring with him a new Mideast policy, one made in the U.S.A., for the U.S.A. Hopefully, just as Israel has its private links to Syria through Turkey, to Hamas through Egypt and to Hezbollah, Obama will establish independent U.S. channels to all three, and adopt a separate U.S. policy toward all three, as Israel does.

While the United States must support Israel’s right to defend her towns and to strike bases from which Israelis are being attacked, Obama should denounce the collective punishment of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza, by Israel’s cutting off their electricity in the dead of winter and denying them the food and medicine many need to survive.

For us to remain silent in the face of this comports neither with our interests or our values. Israel’s policy of withholding from the weak and innocent of Gaza, women and children, the necessities of life, to punish the guilty who rule at the point of a gun, is a policy that Obama should declare the United States will no longer support with tax dollars.""""""

To reiterate: "....the wisdom of so savage a retribution for rockets that killed not one Israeli is open to question." Das stimmt. Lest we forget who the demopublicans work for, last week the Senate and House voted --unanimously in the Senate, and like 400 to 5 in the House--in favor of more or less unconditional support of AIPAC, and the Israeli military.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Governor Girrly Mann

From the SFGate:

"""Schwarzenegger... resubmitted a proposal the Legislature rejected last year
to cut benefits for the children of welfare recipients if their parents fail to
get jobs. State subsidies for the elderly, blind and disabled also would be
frozen through the end of the decade, while Medi-Cal would be cut by $1 billion.

A large part of the savings would come from eliminating dental coverage
for 3 million adults.

In essence, the governor's budget proposes many of
the deep cuts economists have long said would be necessary to bring the state's
revenue and expenditures in line if the Republican governor would not raise
taxes, which he has pledged not to do.

But the cuts will be politically difficult if not impossible in a state controlled by Democrats, who have long championed robust spending on education and social programs.

The majority of the estimated $14.5 billion deficit would be closed by an
across-the-board cut of 10 percent to almost all state agencies and programs.
The move saves almost $10 billion.

The governor also proposes borrowing an additional $3.3 billion under bonds voters approved for deficit-relief in 2004. That would extend the state's repayment of the bonds, which were designed to cover the budget shortfall resulting from the dot-com bust well into the next decade. """

Schwarzi's deficit now matches that of Davis; before CA voters
decided to curtail the state govt.'s ability to take on more
loans, AS borrowed billions more than Davis did. Government fidiciary
matters--budget-chat-- might be dull for many CA hipsters, yet the talking
points of the Recall show consisted primarily of budget-chat.

Schwarzi and the GOP yacht-club enjoy slashing programs--not merely
welfare-type programs, but public education, services to elderly and
disabled, parks--and he proposes to continue the slashing. Schwarzi has
also substantially increased tuition at community colleges, Cal
States (where most po' CA students go), and UCs; in effect, tuition
increases and higher state fees of all sorts (DMV, licensing etc. ) are a
shadow-tax on lower and middle classes.

Schwarzi, however, has kept his promises to the aristocrats of Cali. Burdening
those gated enclaves and mansion-dwellers of
Westside LA, Malibu, Carmel, the Duchy of Palo Alto,
Fog town: das ist Verboten.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


From Wiki-wonderland :

"[CA Senator Diane] Feinstein voted to give the attorney general and the director of national intelligence the power to approve international surveillance of the communications of Americans entirely within the executive branch, rather than through the special intelligence court established by FISA. Many privacy advocates have decried this law and Senator Feinstein's vote in favor of it... In February 2008, Feinstein joined Republicans in the Senate in voting "Nay" to strike the provisions providing immunity from civil liability to electronic communication service providers for certain assistance provided to the Government.... On July 9, 2008, Feinstein broke with counterpart Sen. Barbara Boxer and voted for the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, H.R. 6304.

Feinstein was the original Democratic cosponsor of a bill to extend the USA PATRIOT Act. In a December 2005 statement, Senator Feinstein stated, "I believe the Patriot Act is vital to the protection of the American people." She was the main Democratic sponsor of the failed 2006 constitutional Flag Desecration Amendment. In November 2007, Feinstein was one of only six Democrats to vote to confirm Michael Mukasey as Attorney General.""""

DF's record, especially regarding civil liberties, rates higher on the SnitchConservative-metric than that of many GOP hawks (and her CA congress-crony Pelosi, now doing the Search for Justice schtick with old motown hack Conyers, shares most of her views). The Kossacks clamoring for the heads of Rove and Cheney can't, however, quite grasp the concept of bipartisan guilt: on KOS and other mainstream liberal sites, a female Dem with a record nearly identical to that of say Trent Lott0--tho' Lott values the 2nd Amendment a bit more than DiFi does-- has some exemption (dare we say royalist) not granted to mere mortal rethugs.

(Rove and Cheney are hardly the only one in the tumbril (the tumbrils of the Mind). It's the US Govt and US Military. So take it the Hague, crimefighters, or STFU)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

El libro de arena

Utopía de un hombre que está cansado (un cuento escrito de JL Borges , en El libro de arena)

""En el cuento, Eudoro Acevedo, de la ciudad de Buenos Aires y nacido en 1897, visita una finca en medio de una llanura desierta, en el futuro. Su anfitrión, que habla en latín, le cuenta la vida del futuro, en la que los hombres viven el tiempo que desean, prefieren la soledad y el arte. Acevedo retorna al presente con una pintura de su anfitrión."""

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Mike Whitney
re Obama and Gaza

Uno momento de la Izquierda autentica:

"""""....[Obama's] nothing more than an ambitious and well-spoken young man who's being used to conceal the genocidal operation of the imperial machine; a fact that is particularly poignant on a day like December 29, the 118th anniversary of Wounded Knee, when more than 200 Lakota Sioux were mowed down by the 7th Cavalry on the Pine Ridge Reservation marking the end of the Indian Wars. Like the Palestinians, the Indians were guilty of nothing more than having been born in the wrong place at the wrong time. Needless to say, if Obama had been around then, he would have looked askance and bit his tongue just as he has today. The truth is Obama is a "cool guy" who doesn't really feel that strongly about anything. That's why Obama's moral authority has been gravely eroded before he's even been sworn in. The bloody streets of Gaza are an indictment of Obama not Hamas.

When people see the photos of the Palestinian children being extracted from the debris of bombed-out buildings in Gaza; they should ask themselves whether Obama could have saved a few lives by just speaking out. The fact is, he had a chance to defend the people who can't defend themselves, but chose silence and complicity instead...."""""

Viva Malatesta! Recuerde, La Señora Feinstein - La Porcina del CA--es el primer orador en el fiesta de Obama. No, nos se no puedan....

Thursday, January 01, 2009

AC Grayling blogs the UDHR

"""""The importance of freedom of speech – which includes, as the jurisprudence of the US's first amendment shows, all forms of expression – is so great that it cannot be overstated. First, though, one must accept that it is not absolute: the hoary old example, no less compelling for being so, is that one cannot shout "fire!" in a crowded theatre where there is no fire. But the circumstances in
which some greater benefit is served by limiting freedom of expression have to
be such that, on a strictly individual and one-off basis, an overwhelming case
can be made for doing it on that occasion alone. There should, in short, never
be a blanket proscription of expression. When such expression is libelous or
damaging, there can be remedy after the fact, as when someone sues for
defamation. Prior restraint on expression, by contrast, should be a rare and
exceptional event, as just suggested. And emphatically, the fact that someone
"feels offended" by someone else's utterances – or cartoons or theatre
performances – ought never to be grounds for quelling free speech.

Why all these shoulds and should nots regarding free speech? Why is article 19 so
important? Because our other rights depend on it. Without free speech you cannot
claim, assert or protect your other rights. You cannot defend yourself in court
or accuse those who harm you. You cannot have democracy, which turns upon the
statement and discussion of policies and challenge to those who propose them.
There cannot be education worth the name when some things cannot be said, when
some information is suppressed, and when enquiry and debate is stifled. There
cannot be fully flourishing literature or theatre or broadcasting services if
there are gags over mouths and blindfolds over eyes.""""""

Hear, hear. 'Mericans could do worse than to sublimate their instinct for British-bashing and study a bit of GraylingSpeak. Multicultural leftists generally dismiss the secular-progressivism and rights-talk of a Grayling, regarding about any British academic--whether a Keynes, Bertrand Russell, or even Dawkins--as imperialist anathema, whereas the US yokel is probably reminded of Hannibal Lector, or Winnie Churchill, assuming they read Guardian-level English at all (--tho of course Grayling not exactly competing with like Paturkno State vs TrojanCo, or ...Bill n Hillary Iguana tripping the light phantastic to Sinatra drones.... Hymn to La Cosa Nostra).

Regardless, Grayling does correctly note the importance of free speech/expression rights. However bor-reeng, trite, or liberal rights-speak seems to some gauchistes (or boring to Coulteresque vichy wannabes, or neo-confederates, etc.), intelligent humans have a fundamental right to express their viewpoints, their objections, their dissent--whether that's via local metro-newspaper (hardly a vehicle for democracy), blogs, magazines, academic journals. Those rights also apply, arguably, to academia, which often controls or purges discussion of various issues (such as the academic bureaucracy itself).

Professor Grayling has a bit of the old Fabian sensibility: that tends to offend romantics, whether marxist, or mafiosi. He's dissed the royals and even that supposed saint Rowan Williams. He's rather well-read in many of the current scientific/evolutionary debates. To people who consider a Bertrand Russell a manifestation of Apollyon, he probably seems demonic; to those of us who would rather sink with the ship--the USS Fabian--with the likes of Bertrand Russell, Keynes, Dewey, Orwell, even Chomsky, than side with stalinists, or jihadists, he's the voice of reason.
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