Category: Uncategorized

The Hayek-Pinochet Connection: A Second Reply to My Critics

In my last post, I responded to three objections to my article “Nietzsche’s Marginal Children.” In this post I respond to a fourth regarding the connection between Friedrich von Hayek and Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. Though my comments on that connection took up a mere three sentences in my article, they’ve consumed an extraordinary amount of bandwidth among my libertarian critics. At Bleeding Hearts Libertarians, Kevin Vallier repeatedly accuses me of “smearing” Hayek with the Pinochet connection: When Hayek was eighty he said that Pinochet was an improvement on Allende. This was a serious mistake in judgment, but it is not significant for Hayek’s body of work in any way. Why would it be? Libertarian journalist Julian Sanchez says, “I […]

Petraeus may not be quite all in at CUNY

General David Petraeus has been hired to teach at CUNY at the University of Southern California (h/t Anna Law): David H. Petraeus, the former four-star U.S. Army general who resigned as head of the Central Intelligence Agency last year after confessing to an extramarital affair, will teach part-time at USC and help mentor students who are veterans, officials are announcing Thursday. Petraeus, who commanded coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, will teach and participate in seminars on such issues as international relations, government, leadership, information technology and energy, according to USC… … Petraeus, 60, is supposed to start his faculty position at USC July 1 for an open-ended period, officials said. “I am very grateful to have an opportunity to […]

George W. Bush did not always lie about Iraq

On the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War, it’s important to remember that George W. Bush did not always lie about Iraq and the threat it posed. He did not sell the war simply by making stuff up about the presence of WMD or exaggerating the threat posed by Iraq. That storyline is too easy. Bush and his allies did something far subtler—and more disturbing—and what they said was actually well within the canon of national security discourse, both on the left and the right. Here’s an excerpt from The Reactionary Mind: Hovering about every discussion of war and peace are questions of life and death. Not the death of some or even many people, but, as Michael Walzer proposes […]

The US Senate: Where Democracy Goes to Die

Every once in a while I teach constitutional law, and when I do, I pose to my students the following question: What if the Senate apportioned votes not on the basis of states but on the basis of race? That is, rather than each state getting two votes in the Senate, what if each racial or ethnic group listed in the US Census got two votes instead? Regardless of race, almost all of the students freak out at the suggestion. It’s undemocratic, they cry! When I point out that the Senate is already undemocratic—the vote of any Wyomian is worth vastly more than the vote of each New Yorker—they say, yeah, but that’s different: small states need protection from large […]

Bloomberg to City Council: Back the F*ck Off!

Kate Taylor, a reporter for the New York Times, just tweeted these. .@mikebloomberg forcefully defends right of Brooklyn College to organize BDS conference, while noting he’s a strong supporter of Israel. — Kate Taylor (@katetaylornyt) February 6, 2013 Mayor: “If u want to go to a university where the govt decides what…subjects are fit for discussion, I suggest you apply…in N Korea” — Kate Taylor (@katetaylornyt) February 6, 2013 Update (12:10 pm) According to a transcription of Bloomberg’s remarks that was prepared by Emily Stanback, this is the entire statement he made: Well look, I couldn’t disagree more violently with BDS as they call it, Boycott Divestment and Sanctions. As you know I’m a big supporter of Israel, as big […]

Highlights from Jacobin

The latest issue of Jacobin is now online, and it’s fantastic. Before I give you some highlights, let me make a pitch: subscribe or donate to Jacobin. I’m a contributing editor, so I’m biased. But I know I’m not alone in saying it’s one of the newest, freshest magazines around. It was founded by an undergrad in his dorm room (seriously). But, hey, Trotsky was 25 (or 26?) when he led the St. Petersburg Soviet in 1905 and Martin Luther King was 26 (or 25?) when he led the Montgomery Bus Boycott. So who knows where this can go? In any event, subscribe, donate, help out. I’ve got a piece in the new issue on the politics of national security.  […]

Jefferson’s Race Obsession is a Response to Emancipation, not Slavery

Thanks to some provocative comments from my friend Nikhil Singh, and a spirited critique of my post from someone at Crooked Timber, it occurred to me that we may really be missing the significance of Jefferson if we think of him solely in the context of slavery (and I may have contributed to that). As both scholars and defenders of Jefferson have pointed out, Jefferson was not a fan of slavery. He had grave moral doubts about the institution, which he expressed in Notes on the State of Virginia and elsewhere, even if he almost never acted on them. Especially in his earlier years, he thought emancipation was inevitable (though that belief got somewhat more strained as time went on). […]

Bertolt Brecht Comes to CUNY

Last month, the English Department faculty at Queensborough Community College (QCC), which is part of the CUNY system where I teach, voted to recall their chair and elect a new chair. (At CUNY, chairs are elected.)The vote was a landslide, as these things go: over 20 out of 30 full-time faculty were in favor of the recall and the new chair. On Tuesday, the president of QCC decided to overturn the faculty’s decision. Among the reasons the president gave for her decision was that the department was divided (apparently, only Soviet-style election results in which 100 percent of the people vote for the Party are acceptable) and needed time to heal (by having its decisions overturned). The president also reappointed […]

Held With Bail

NYC City Councilwoman Christine Quinn got a lot of justified flak on the Twitters for saying that alleged looters should be held without bail until Sandy’s effects have subsided. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent suspension of certain provisions of  New York State law has gotten less scrutiny. Which is unfortunate: as a Legal Aid attorney explained to me, it’s resulted in people being held with bail! This is the paragraph in Cuomo’s suspension that’s causing all the trouble. In addition, I hereby temporarily suspend and modify, for the period from the date of this Executive Order until further notice, any other statute, local law, ordinance, order, rule or regulation or part thereof, establishing limitations of time for the filing or service […]

The American Creed: You give us a color, we’ll wipe it out.

George Carlin: This country was founded by slave owners who wanted to be free. Am I right? A group of slave owners who wanted to be free! So they killed a lot of white English people in order to continue owning their black African people, so they could wipe out the rest of the red Indian people, and move west and steal the rest of the land from the brown Mexican people, giving ’em a place to take off and drop their nuclear weapons on the yellow Japanese people. You know what the motto for this country ought to be? “You give us a color, we’ll wipe it out.”   h/t Greg Grandin

Words Like Freedom

There are words like Freedom Sweet and wonderful to say. On my heartstrings freedom sings All day everyday.   There are words like Liberty That almost make me cry. If you had known what I know You would know why. — Langston Hughes   This poem originally appeared under the title “Refugee in America” in the Saturday Evening Post. It often goes by the name “Words Like Freedom.” It also appears on a sidewalk plaque on an E. 41st St. promenade, between Park and 5th, leading up to New York Public Library. I used it as the epigraph to chapter 7 of my first book Fear: The History of a Political Idea.