Tag: racism

Keynes thought he was ugly. What does that mean for political theory?

Throughout his life, John Maynard Keynes was plagued by the thought that he was ugly. In his diary, Keynes’s father notes that his six-year-old son “thinks no one ever was quite so ugly.” When he was 23, Keynes complained to Lytton Strachey that “I have always suffered and I suppose always will from a most unalterable obsession that I am so physically repulsive….The idea is so fixed and constant that I don’t think anything—certainly no argument—could ever shake it.” Keynes didn’t lack for sexual partners. He kept a detailed list of his sexual experiences, and it’s long. Nor was he an unhappy person, prone to self-doubt. He was just convinced that he was ugly. Interestingly, his lack of confidence in […]

Adorno in America

The history of the Frankfurt School in America is usually told as a story of one-way traffic. The question being: What did America get from the Frankfurt School? The answer usually offered: a lot! We got Marcuse, Neumann, Lowenthal, Fromm, and, for a time, Horkheimer and Adorno (who ultimately went back to Germany after the war)—the whole array of émigré culture that helped transform the United States from a provincial outpost of arts and letters into a polyglot Parnassus of the world. The wonderfully counter-intuitive and heterodox question that animates Eric Oberle’s Theodor Adorno and the Century of Negative Identity is: what did the Frankfurt School get from America? To the extent that question has been asked, it has traditionally provoked […]

Clinton Opens Double-Digit Lead in National Poll

Brexit’s got people nervous about a possible Trump victory in November. It shouldn’t. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows Clinton opening up a double-digit lead over Trump, 51%-39%. Now that she has clinched the nomination, Clinton is beginning to consolidate and expand support—as many observers predicted she would. The poll also shows: First, Trump’s racism and sexism play well with a rump—though never a strong majority—of the GOP. Racism and sexism are a disaster, however, in the general electorate. Roughly two-thirds of those polled think Trump’s comments about Muslims, women, and racial minorities are racist and/or unfair, and an overwhelming majority strongly disapproves his recent comments about a judge whose parents were Mexican immigrants. Only 36% of the electorate thinks that Trump is standing up for their beliefs. While […]

John C. Calhoun at Yale

Part of the problem with Yale’s position in the Calhoun College controversy is the assumption that John C. Calhoun’s sins are exhausted by the institution of slavery, that his crimes belong to the first half of the 19th century. Yale President Peter Salovey’s recent email message about this controversy, in which he affirms Yale’s decision to keep the name “Calhoun College,” constantly invokes the terms “slavery”, “history,” “reminder,” and “past.” Calhoun’s real contribution to the canon of American evil, however, is not as a defender of slavery but as a theorist of white supremacy. His was less the voice of a dying institution than a vision of the future that was only just being born. Nearly a century before DuBois coined […]

Black Alumni at Yale Weigh In With Major List of Demands

Among the more dispiriting responses to the wave of protests around racism on campus is the claim that this unrest, particularly at Yale, is the work of privileged and pampered campus crybabies. Now I cede to no one in my contempt for Yale. But I think that criticism is unfair. As I’ve pointed out a number of times, if we want to turn every conflict over social justice into the Oppression Olympics, where you can’t talk about one case of injustice until you’ve talked about every other case of worse injustice, no one in the United States is going to deserve anything. You can always find someone who is worse off and more deserving; by that definition, most people around the globe are […]