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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Saturday, December 16, 2017

A SPONTANEOUS CAVIL

The Editorial Board of USA TODAY has been basking in the praise it has received for writing, “A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.”  I am all for condemnations of Trump, but when I read that editorial opinion, I found a thought coming unbidden to my mind. 

There will be toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library when it gets built.  Someone will have the job of cleaning them.  In Chicago, where the library will be located, I believe, that person will almost certainly be a Black man or woman, getting about as little pay as the law currently allows in Illinois.  If George W. Bush wears shoes that will take a shine, he may choose to have them shined, in which case that job, in Texas, will probably be done by a Latino man or woman.  There are tens of millions of men and women in America who are doing these and similar jobs for very little money.  They are decent, hard-working men and women who would, I am sure, like a raise, and my guess is that many of them take a certain pride in doing well the jobs they have.  The much-praised one-liner from USA TODAY clearly implies that only a low-type person would have one of those jobs, and Trump is not even that low – he is lower.  No one, after all, would think to write, “A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to perform brain surgery on Barack Obama or write a legal brief for George W. Bush.”


If we want to craft a progressive politics for the future, we might start right there.

IT FEELS AS THOUGH WE ARE APPROACHING A CLIMAX

In the Senate, Republican hold-outs caved, the appalling "tax" bill will pass, and House Republicans are preparing the way for an all-out assault on Mueller.  Meanwhile, popular opposition to Trump builds, and in eleven months, the Democrats will probably take control of the House and even, if everything falls into line, the Senate.  It feels as though we are approaching a crisis shortly after the new year.

Trump and the Republicans have done grave damage to the well-being of working-class Americans, but some at least of that danage can be repaired if the Democrats can retake control of the government.  

The ground level surge in progressive activism gives me some cause for hope, but I cannot deny that this country is very close to fascism.

As I approach my eighty-fourth birthday, now only eleven days away, it takes all of my energy to maintain hope and defeat despair.  

Thursday, December 14, 2017

AN INTERESTING OBSERVATION FROM AN UNLIKELY SOURCE

William Kristol, whom I have hated for years [a hatred he inherited from his father and mother] made the following very interesting observation on an MSNBC talk show regarding the Alabama election.  As anyone knows who was watching the vote tallies, there were more write-in votes than Doug Jones' margin of victory -- somewhat more than 20,000 in all.  But there were no other races on the ballot.  That means that more than twenty thousand people went to the trouble of going to the polls simply in order not to vote for either Moore or Jones  Pretty clearly these were Republicans.  So they were so deeply opposed to Moore that, while unable to vote for a Democrat, they felt compelled to go out and not vote for Moore rather than just staying home.

Remarkable.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A QUESTION OF TRANSLATION

As you know, I have been binge-watching a Turkish soap opera called Resurrection:Ertugrul, which features English subtitles.  In the episode I am now watching, one of the evil characters is represented as saying to the equally evil counselor to a rather naive Emir, "Only the weak nebbishes threaten, Commander Nasir."

Can anyone tell me the colloquial Turkish for "nebbish"?

THIS COULD BE THE START OF SOMETHING BIG

No need to go on at length about Doug Jones' win in yesterday's Alabama special Senate election.  The turnout in the Black community was spectacular.  I especially liked the exit poll showing that women with children under eighteen living at home went big for Jones.  This is a Lysistrata moment.

With Jones replacing Luther Strange, we only need Susan Collins to flip and the tax bill is defeated.  Collins is flippable, since her excuse for voting aye was a series of promises from McConnell that the House Republicans have made it clear they will not honor.  But wait, you say.  The Senate will slow-walk Jones' seating until the tax bill passes.  No doubt.  But consider.  There are 48 Democratic Senators [47 without Franken].  Last time I checked, there were 24 hours in the day.  If each of those Democratic princes and princesses can bestir him or herself to deliver thirty minutes of random talk a day, the Democratic bloc can stage a collective filibuster that will stop passage of the bill until Jones is seated.  Couldn't McConnell kill the filibuster with a point of order that requires only a simple majority to overrule a pro forma ruling from the chair?  Yes, but there is a good deal of evidence that McConnell is unwilling to take that extreme step, since it would consign the Republicans to impotence the next time the Democrats seize control of the Senate.

At least it is worth a try.  What is wrong with the Democrats in the Senate?  [Do not flood the comments section with answers.]

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

BACK TO WHAT REALLY INTERESTS ME

As I returned to my file drawer of unpublished writings after a day in New York having meetings at Columbia, I came across an extended discussion, written I know not how many decades ago, about the epistemological questions posed by the writing of historiographical narratives.  I had quite forgotten that I had written this, but as I read through it, I reflected that these are issues in which I have been interested for sixty years.  Over the next day or two, I am going to reconstruct some of my thoughts in one or two extended posts.  Meanwhile, I await the reports of the voting now going on in Alabama.  This could be big.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

DAY OFF

No posts tomorrow.  I shall be spending the day at Columbia University.  I shall explain when I get back.