The machine has taken over, I’ve set up a series of reading assignments for you to be released at timed intervals by computer itself. This is the second:
The machine has taken over, I’ve set up a series of reading assignments for you to be released at timed intervals by computer itself. This is the first:
- David Duke and Donald Trump: Game knows game.
- Read this excellent symposium on Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains. John is far too midwestern to quote from it, but I’m a mad computer so I’ll give you this highlight:
More generally, libertarianism has had an unfortunate recurring tendency to attract or ally with racists of varying stripes. From Reason magazine’s 1970s flirtation with Holocaust deniers to the paleolibertarianism of Murray Rothbard and Lew Rockwell (the latter purportedly author of Ron Paul’s race-baiting newsletters in the 1980s) to the clear interest in “race realism” evident in the comments sections of today’s libertarian blogs and publications, this history is not pretty. While many libertarians fully embrace racial equality and disavow this aspect of the movement, a history excavating this relationship (perhaps the one now being written by John P. Jackson, Jr., who has also written the most compelling defense of Democracy in Chains), would be both important and timely.
I’m taking a break until September. On a several-state tour of some of our several states. When I come back, my mind will be a raging torrent of ideas, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.
In the meantime, your homework is:
- See if you can get the percentage of those who approve of the neo-Nazis back down into the lower single digits.
- Check out this historians’ roundup of commentary on white supremacy memorials.
- Read Corey Robin on Bannon’s departure from the White House.
- Next time Trump does something stupid (I know, I know) see if you can name the apologia that inevitably comes a few hours later from somebody.
Once you’ve done your homework, you may:
- Read the Comics Curmudgeon.
- Learn a new skill.
- Solve a puzzle.
- Listen to a great interview.
- Remember the old days.
- Learn about V-Discs from the V-Disc Daddy.
- Or just do something random.
See you in September!
This is the cover of my new book, just published with David Depew, the noted philospher of biology. Writing a book with David has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in my academic career. It has been a real pleasure to produce this book with him and I’m very proud of our work. Get your copy today!
Darwinism, Democracy, and Race examines the development and defence of an argument that arose at the boundary between anthropology and evolutionary biology in twentieth-century America. In its fully articulated form, this argument simultaneously discredited scientific racism and defended free human agency in Darwinian terms.
The volume is timely because it gives readers a key to assessing contemporary debates about the biology of race. By working across disciplinary lines, the book’s focal figures–the anthropologist Franz Boas, the cultural anthropologist Alfred Kroeber, the geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky, and the physical anthropologist Sherwood Washburn–found increasingly persuasive ways of cutting between genetic determinist and social constructionist views of race by grounding Boas’s racially egalitarian, culturally relativistic, and democratically pluralistic ethic in a distinctive version of the genetic theory of natural selection. Collaborators in making and defending this argument included Ashley Montagu, Stephen Jay Gould, and Richard Lewontin.
Darwinism, Democracy, and Race will appeal to advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and academics interested in subjects including Philosophy, Critical Race Theory, Sociology of Race, History of Biology and Anthropology, and Rhetoric of Science.
Is it even newsworthy that Trump’s press conference about Charlottesville was misleading and disingenuous? Probably not. Trump is so dishonest that it is no longer an interesting question that he mislead us but rather to ask how and to what end he lied. Sometimes, of course, the answer seems to be “because he felt like it” or “because he is so unconcerned with truth that he doesn’t even know he’s lying anymore.” I’m not even going to bother with the nonsense about “both sides do it,” I’ll leave that to Driftglass. I’m more interested in Trump’s challenge to a reporter who dared ask him a question:
When you say the alt-right, define alt-right to me. You define it. Go ahead. Define it for me, come on, let’s go.
Trump claims he “never spoke to Mr. Bannon about” Charlottesville. Maybe when he bothers to do so, he can ask him to define “alt right” since Bannon knows all about it. Heck, he even published a whole guide about defining the alt right. Maybe an aide can make a pretty picture book about it so President Pop-Up-Book can understand it.
In 1998, when he was 23 years old, John William King and two friends beat an African-American man, James Byrd, Jr., behind a convenience store. King was the one who used a baseball bat. They then chained Mr. Byrd behind their truck and dragged him for 3 miles. The pathologist report, once they had reassembled the 81 pieces of Mr. Byrd’s body, told the court that the evidence indicated Mr. Byrd was alive for most of the dragging since the remains indicated he tried desperately to protect himself. John William King, and his friends, were found guilty. At his sentencing, King issued a statement:
Though I remain adamant about my innocence, it’s been obvious from the beginning that this community would get what they desire; so I’ll close with the words of Francis Yockey: “The promise of success is with the man who is determined to die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly.”
King is still on death row awaiting execution, forgotten by all. If he had done those actions even thirty years previously, he’s probably still be walking among us, a free man.
I’m spending the next few days dogsitting George the Pug (pictured above). Claire Potter has written a nice and insightful review of Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains over at Public Seminar. I spent the evening playing fetch with the tireless George and responding to criticisms of Potter’s piece by Professors David E. Bernstein and Phil Magness. I wrote some rather lengthy comments, patted myself on the back for a job well done, and George and I turned in for the night. This morning I woke up and found the the Disqus commenting system had marked those two lengthy comments as “spam” and didn’t post them. Maybe I should have left out the part about how you can make thousands of dollars from your home?
At any rate, I’m going to post them here just to get them out in public. I recommend you go read Potter’s review and the comments if you feel like you’ve been dropped in halfway through the movie.
White people have the luxury of not thinking about race if they don’t want to. Marginalized people, on the other hand, are forced to think about their own oppression all the time if they want to get by in the world. One way to think about this luxury is what philosopher Charles Mills calls “white ignorance.” In scholarship, one way the white ignorance is displayed is by white scholars, whom Critical Race Theorist Richard Delgado called “imperial scholars,” who ignore the scholarship of people of color. The poster child for white ignorance may well be Milton Friedman.
Milton Friedman was one of the most famous economists of the twentieth century. The leading light of the “Chicago School of Economics,” the most influential economics department in the world, Nobel prize-winner in Economics in 1976. If there were an All-Star team of economists, Friedman would be in the starting line-up. My view of him was nicely summarized by Murray Rothbard in 1964: “I am getting pretty p.o.’ed at the influence of that little bastard anyway; he is the No.1 respectable right-wing economist in Newsweek and Business Week, and Goldwater’s chief economic theoretician.” (Rothbard to James Martin, Martin Papers, University of Wyoming).
A Good Case can be Made That He Was
With our new Education Secretary, Betsy Devos the idea of moving away from public schools via vouchers for private schools is once again in the news. Many feel there are insufficient safeguards against discrimination in many voucher programs. An important bit of history is that the notion of privatizing school has its roots in the battle to preserve racial segregation in the era of “massive resistance.” When the Center for American Progress (CAP) pointed this out, the libertarian Cato Institute issued a rather weak response. Libertarians, I think, like to ignore the rather sad history of their movement’s commitment to racial justice.
The CAP report focuses on Prince Edward County, Virginia. This story is related to James M. Buchanan, the subject of Nancy Maclean’s Democracy in Chains. The libertarian right have attacked this book fiercely . Here is what I find notable about many of the criticisms of her book. They pounce on certain words (she says “lodestar!”), her interpretations of some of the quotations she cites, minor incidents of Buchanan’s career, or some minutia of Buchanan’s “public choice theory.” Rhetorician Kenneth Burke nailed this strategy in the 1950s in his essay, “On the Art of Debunking:
It would seem they are no longer seeking good arguments; rather they are seeking any arguments, if only there be enough of them to keep running through the headlines, an avalanche of arguments, condemnations, prophecies of dire calamity, “statistical proofs,” pronouncements by private and institutional “authorities,” a barrage, a snowing under, a purely quantitative mode of propaganda, Are there no eagles among their utterances? Very well, let them be instead a swarm of mosquitoes. Before you could refute this morning’s, there is a new batch out this afternoon.