Political scientist Patrick J. Deneen examines the impending, inevitable collapse of liberalism - as the victim of its own revolutionary success in creating a society of hyper-individuated actors in a landscape without communal bonds - and calls for pursuing a 'unitary conception' of society and politics beyond the limits of ideology.
Patrick is author of the new book Why Liberalism Failed from Yale University Press.
Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
Ever get in one of those moods where your understanding of what the world is seems stuck on "basic alienation?" Reality parades and throngs around you like an immersive performance, human activity repeats ritualistically, as mechanical behavior in response to stimulus or programmed biologically, chemically even. A sophisticated organization of humans going about its sophisticated business is doing nothing more meaningful, nor does it evince any more free will, than salt does when it dissolves in water. People fight, love, build, invent, trade and sing because there is nothing else for them to do. We're all just chemistry trundling along through our processes of transformation. There is not a single activity you can discern to be a product of choice.
Here's a tidbit I picked up somewhere as I was going through the motions of living my life: King Solomon had a lot of contact with demons. I may have mentioned this elsewhere, but it never hurts to go over old ground. In Solomon's world, demons were as observant as any Jew. They had temples in their demon world and studied Torah. Not some demon Torah, the Torah. And being immortal, they accumulated a great deal of wisdom from their studies. Ashmodai, the big cheese of the demons, was famous for his knowledge of Torah and mastery of its mysteries.
It's no surprise, then, that Solomon kept Ashmodai prisoner in his palace in order to study at the demon's feet. Solomon had a compulsive desire to learn. For a king, untangling the secrets of the universe woven in the letters and sounds of Torah provided material advantages, but Solomon was no less a student for the pure sake of learning. He learned the languages of the animals from the demons, and some say Ashmodai provided Solomon with the architectural specifications for rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem.
During their studies they came upon a particular mystery, I'm not sure what, but it was a deeply puzzling, mystically divine question, and Ashmodai had the answer to it. The demon said he could only explain if given full range of movement, because apparently there was some sort of gymnastic aspect to this point of doctrine. Solomon would have to remove whatever chains prevented Ashmodai from freely moving. Also, Ashmodai wanted to wear Solomon's royal signet ring, solely for the time it took to impart the secret... read more
In 1916 – (101 years ago) — in San Francisco, business leaders and the local chamber of commerce sponsored a “Preparedness Day parade” to cheer the entry of US troops into World War I. Labor leaders, radicals, and anarchists who opposed US participation in the faraway European war planned to protest the parade, and had been warned of possible mischief by provocateurs. Shortly after the parade got underway, a pipe bomb exploded in the middle of the crowd, killing ten people and wounding forty. Two locally prominent left-wing labor leaders, Thomas Mooney and Warren Billings, were among those arrested by police, and were held for six days without being allowed to see a lawyer. In defiance of loud protests by labor and civil liberties activists, both men were soon found guilty — their death sentences later commuted to life imprisonment. More than twenty years later, a state commission found that their trial had been marred by false testimony and other irregularities, some of which were publicly admitted by the trial judge and jurors. Mooney and Billings were released from prison in 1939 and later pardoned. To this day, the real perpetrators of the San Francisco bombing remain unknown.
In 1962 – (55 years ago) — at Cape Canaveral, Florida, a rocket was launched carrying the spacecraft Mariner 1, intended to be the first to fly near the planet Venus. Soon after launch, the rocket veered off course and stopped responding to guidance commands sent from the ground. Fearful that it might come down and hit a populated area, mission controllers sent a command for the rocket to self-destruct, which it did. Analysts later found that a computer programmer who transcribed guidance software for the rocket had unwittingly introduced a typo, which science writer Arthur C. Clarke later called “the most expensive hyphen in history.” Five weeks later, a second launch sent the Mariner 2 spacecraft to a successful Venus flyby, where it measured hellish temperatures on that planet’s surface of nine hundred degrees Fahrenheit — hot enough to melt lead.
Samuel is author of The Moral Economy: Why Good Incentives Are No Substitute for Good Citizens from Yale University Press.
Elizabeth wrote the piece Liberal shaming of Appalachia: Inside the media elite’s obsession with the “hillbilly problem” for Salon.
Adele wrote the article What We Do Is Secret: Trumpism as a private-capital scam for The Baffler.
Wendy returns to discuss her interview earlier this month, and her book We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria.
Greg's latest report is Sanders and Jackson join hands to take on Trump’s Vote Thief-in-Chief at his website.
Sean produces the very valuable and recommended Seans' Russia Blog podcast.
Is that the order you do those two things?
Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
Complaining about cultural appropriation, or misappropriation as it should be called, is fun. I can tell it's fun, because people do it even when it's not necessary. They even do it when it makes no sense. Sometimes it's just to make fun of how presumptuous white people poorly execute ethnic cuisine. "Szechuan pizza? Gross! And offensive!" Sometimes it's a form of virtue signaling, as when white people commiserate with black people about Euro-misappropriation of dreadlocks. "Look," signals the white person, "I get it! They're stealing your hair! It's insulting and offensive! They just don't get it, but I do."
I don't want to pick on political comic Hari Kondabolu, especially since he recently entertained our socialist troops in Chicago, like a kind of woke Bob Hope, but he has this one routine someone brought to my attention that fits the description of what I'm going to call "virtue-signaling through ignorance." He was complaining about vegan soul food.
First off, let me admit that I understand hostility toward vegan food. I myself have complained on this very show about a particular vegan barbecue I endured. In that case, though, the barbecue was thrown by people who didn't even understand how to host a party in which people expected to eat, let alone have their hosts provide a source of heat over which to cook food. They failed the heat test, which is, if you don't have charcoal or propane either already hot or at least ready to ignite, it's not a barbecue. And if you don't have anything else for your guests to eat other than a few grapes and some leftover croissants, along with your uncooked tofu dogs still in the wrapper awaiting absolutely nothing because there is no flame over which to make them resemble edible food, you are a bad person.
There's an idea I myself have helped spread that a vegan is someone who doesn't like food. That's wrong. But it is accurate often enough to be mildly funny to some people.
And what with new dietary restrictions cropping up every day for any number of reasons, it's tempting to mock the gluten-intolerant, the diverticular, and the celiac sufferer. Suffering is funny! Comedy is tragedy happening to people you don't care about.
But Hari wasn't mocking vegan soul food because it's bland or oily or a travesty of culinary artistry, he was... read more
In 1381 – (636 years ago) — John Ball, an itinerant English priest, was executed for helping provoke a peasant’s revolt against high taxes levied by the state to finance its endless warfare. As England struggled to recover from the plague years of the Black Death, Ball had traveled from town to town, using Bible passages to preach radical ideas of social equality. He achieved great popularity by voicing the grievances of the impoverished peasants in vernacular terms they could understand. After the Catholic Church, which owned a third of the land in England, excommunicated Ball, he took his preaching outdoors, where he drew large crowds. By the time of his final arrest he had already been in and out of prison several times for giving sermons in which he urged his listeners to seize and kill members of the nobility and their lawyers as well as high-ranking members of the clergy, including the archbishop of Canterbury. On the day of Ball’s execution, the fifteen-year-old King Richard II was on hand to watch him first hanged, and then drawn and quartered. The four bloodsoaked quarters of Ball’s body were then sent to four different villages to be displayed in public as a warning to those who might consider heeding his call or following in his footsteps.
In 1927 – (90 years ago) — in Vienna, demonstrators taking part in a general strike against Austria’s right-wing government stormed the National Palace of Justice and set it on fire. The blaze followed several months of earlier protests led by opposition Social Democrats against the regime, which was backed by rich businessmen and Catholic clergy. Those demonstrations had sometimes flared into violence — including one incident in which three right-wing paramilitaries had killed a World War I veteran and an eight-year-old boy and were later acquitted after pleading self-defense. At the Palace of Justice, after demonstrators attacked firefighters and cut their hoses, and after Vienna’s mayor appealed for calm and was ignored, police chief Johann Schober issued army rifles to his officers and ordered them to open fire on the crowd. Eighty-nine labor protesters were killed, along with five police; and some six hundred protesters were seriously injured. Two years later, Schober would go on to become Austria’s chancellor.
Rotten History is written by Renaldo Migaldi
Jesse is author of the new book The Chickenshit Club: Why the Justice Department Fails to Prosecute Executives from Simon & Schuster.
Valerie wrote the article Detroit’s Underground Economy:Where Capitalism Fails, Alternatives Take Root? for In These Times.
Brian will also report on squatting and striking in São Paulo, and the short doc he made covering organizing there this Spring.
Michael is author of the new book Haiti Will Not Perish: A Recent History from Zed Books.
Julianne and Paul wrote the article Silicon Valley Will Not Save You for Current Affairs.
Part of his ongoing series getting us yelled at online, I guess.
Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
After an incident at the Chicago Dyke March in which pro-Palestinians and pro-Israelis ruffled each other's feathers, I weighed in by Jewsplaining, or perhaps "circumsplaining," to the benighted lesbians on both sides of the controversy. Though I tried to be evenhanded in my criticism of the pathetic display of juvenile behavior, I definitely went at non-Jews more aggressively. Non-Jews on the left seem complacent about their ill- repressed anti-Semitism, even willfully ignorant of it, so I felt it would require a lot more work to get it through their thick skulls exactly how hypocritical they are. I was right. I don't know if it's a thing with doctrinaire lesbians, or doctrinaire lefties in general, but they do appear to be more intransigently stupid than, say, your average first-grader.
Possessing, as I do, a penis, albeit a reasonably queer penis, I'm an outsider in this case. I don't apologize for having a penis, which is one of the most beautiful things in the world. Not mine, but the archetypal organ in general. As a penis-appended outsider, I should, according to some, abstain from commenting on this dyke-versus-kike buffoonery. And I considered that. I often abstain from commenting on the stupidity of women and people of color. It's much more fun to criticize white people, especially white men, and they do offer so much material. When women and people of color provide material for mockery, it's often even more satisfying not to comment. What could be more patronizing than deeming someone too oppressed and delicate to make fun of?
I didn't want to engage in that type of condescension this time. First, it would've been too easy. Second, the offenses to civil discourse were too blatant. And, third, the potential for snark was too tempting.
For example, as pointed out by my friend, the great shamanistic poet and mystic Rachel Kann, some of the march organizers, or "survivors of the trauma," have set up an online crowd-funding page to send themselves and their allies against Zionism on a retreat to recover from the argument. So pitiful is their plaint that even some of those who support the other side have given money. I'll quote two of them. Anonymous says, "You should be ashamed of the way you treated your fellow (Jewish) dykes!" Anonymous gave an undisclosed amount. Perhaps it was too insulting to disclose, in... read more