Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

To contact me about organizing, email me at rpwolff750@gmail.com




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Sunday, December 4, 2016

WORTH READING

There has been a good deal of discussion, coming both from the left and from the right, about the need to move past what is called Identity Politics, discussion to which I have on occasion contributed on this blog.  Here is a heartfelt and well-written discussion of the question in the form of a family history of the author, going back to slavery times.  The message of the piece is a simple one:  Turning away from Identity Politics is a luxury that White people can afford but that people of color cannot afford.  It is a luxury that men can afford but that women cannot afford.  It is a luxury that  straight people can afford but that LGBT people cannot afford.

It would be worth your time to read it, I believe.

THE OLD PHILOSOPHER TRIES AND FAILS TO STRIKE A BLOW FOR FREEDOM

When I got up this morning, I found a message from a friend with whom I canvassed door to door the week before the election.  He told me there was a critical need for volunteers to help recount 90,000 ballots in Durham County by 7 pm tomorrow evening in order to stop the Republican from stealing Roy Cooper's victory over Republican governor Pat McCrory.  It is a complicated story, but the short of it is that if the ballots are not all counted by 7 pm tomorrow, the election can be thrown into the State Legislature and stolen.  Cooper currently leads by more than 10,000 votes and his lead is growing as the last ballots are counted.

So I kissed my wife goodbye, jumped into my car, and raced down to 210 North Roxboro Street where the Durham County Board of Elections is situated.  The first sign that something was wrong was the sizeable parking lot next to the building, which was totally full.  I parked across the street, walked over, and entered the building.

I presented myself to the nice lady behind the reception table, feeling extremely virtuous and civic-minded, and said I was there as a volunteer to help count the ballots.  At that point the woman in charge of the recount walked by and said they had so many volunteers there was no more room.  She gave me her number and said to call back at noon, but I know a rejection when I get one.  Oh, I'll call, but pretty obviously I was just another Johnny-Come-Lately.  Apparently the line to volunteer started forming at 7 am, even though the building did not open until 9.

Who knows?  Maybe I won't have to live into my nineties to see some signs of progress.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

BALM FOR THE SOUL

A reader sent me this link.  It won't mean much to my younger readers, but the oldsters like me will tear up as we listen to it.  This is a time when we need to recall our better angels.

BUNGLER IN CHIEF

There are only two plausible explanations for Trump's chat with the President of Taiwan.  Either one of the many despicable people around him conned him into it, or he stumbled into it all on his own.  Either way, it is obvious that he did not have a clue what the foreign affairs implications were, and he does not have around him someone who did know and could be relied on to tell him.  And this is seven weeks before he actually becomes President!  I have been focused on Trump's cupidity and brutal hostility to large swaths of the American public and on the sheer evil of his closest advisers, so perhaps I may be forgiven for having overlooked his mind-numbing incompetence.  I am not only ashamed to be an American, I am also embarrassed.

As I said to my wife yesterday evening when we were sitting at the counter in our favorite restaurant eating happy hour half-priced oysters, I am struggling to achieve some semblance of inner balance and equanimity in the face of this on-rushing disaster.  I am more determined than ever to live long enough to see things take a turn for the better, even if I must soldier on into my nineties.

Friday, December 2, 2016

HELP!

I created a group in Gmail for all the peoole who say they want me to contact them, and now I cannot figure out how to add them to the group or how to send a message to the whole group once I have.  Somebody?

A STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLE, OR A CRY OF DESPAIR, AS THE CASE MAY BE

Little by little, I am creeping forward with this cockamamie plan I have conceived to foster a nation-wide network of activists.  Why on earth am I doing this?  The simple answer is, Because I feel just awful, and doing something, anything, eases the pain.  That is not a very elevated motive, I admit, but then, that is pretty much why God gave his only begotten Son to save Mankind, and look how that turned out.

At the moment, I have opened a Gmail account and learned, thanks to Google, how to create a distribution list.  Baby steps …

There is one very important point I need to clarify, and that is the real reason for this post.  My goal is to encourage some people all over America to form their own local action groups targeting local elections and ballot initiatives.  It is very definitely not my aim to enforce any particular ideological agenda, no matter how strongly I may support it.  For example, I am on record [with the DNC via a phone call] as supporting Keith Ellison for Chair of the DNC, but there are many Democrats who support other candidates.  So far as I am concerned, that is just fine.  The same goes for any of a number of hotly contested policy issues.  My role, if I have any, is to encourage and maybe facilitate folks in various places to get in touch with one another and start agitating, organizing, identifying candidates for local or state offices, and in this way maybe to move the political center of the country a little bit leftward.  I am absolutely certain that most of the people I manage to get in touch with will have politics to the right of mine.  That has been true all my life.  In my eyes, a Blue Dog Democrat is better than any Republican, a moderate Democrat is better than a Blue Dog Democrat, a progressive Democrat is better than a moderate Democrat, and a Socialist is better than a Democrat of any sort.  If there are folks out there who will only consider working to elect certified radicals, fine.  I will do what I can to help them.  If there are other folks who will only work to elect safe, comforting moderate Democrats, fine, I will help them too.  Of one thing I am sure:  If I am successful beyond my wildest dreams, the result will still fall far short of what I really want.  If I cannot come to terms with that, then I have no business getting involved in politics.  As Paul Newman says to Robert Redford in The Sting as he is explaining how to work the Big Con on Robert Shaw:  “When you are all done, you won’t get everything you want, but it is all you will get, so you will have to take it and walk away” [or words to that effect.]


I am in such despair that at this point I would be delighted to see Clinton miraculously replace Trump as our next President, even though when I thought that was actually going to happen, my heart was heavy at the prospect.  That tells you how deep the s**t is that we are in.

LET US LEARN FROM HISTORY

Out of curiosity, I went looking for information about how the news media reported on Hitler following his rise to power.  I found this extraordinarily chilling essay, written, I believe, just a year ago by a scholar whose speciality is Holocaust Studies.  Coincidentally, this morning I caught a few minutes of Morning Joe [a show I used to watch regularly and can no longer stand] during which Scarborough and Brzezinski mocked those who call Trump a fascist  [they were, I am happy to say, quite clearly extremely defensive, indicating that the criticism they have been getting is hitting home.]

One troubling point.  The author of the essay, Dr. Rafael Medoff, spends somew time detailing the shameful actions, or inactions, of one of my childhood heroes, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

It is well worth the few minutes it will take to read this essay.