Critical race theory

1 Jun, 2023 at 09:48 | Posted in Politics & Society | 1 Comment

John McWhorter Newsletter - The New York TimesAlmost anyone can see what a reductive view this is of modern society, even without having read their Rousseau or Rawls. We must not be taken in by the fact that this is called “critical,” that it’s about race, and that it’s titled a “theory.” It is a fragile, performative ideology, one that goes beyond the passages above to explicitly reject linear reasoning, traditional legal theorizing, and even Enlightenment rationalism. We are to favor an idea that an oppressed race’s “story” constitutes truth, in an overarching sense, apart from mere matters of empirical or individual detail …

‘Critical Race Theory’ is the root of the idea today, seemingly so senselessly manipulative, that any claim of racism a black person makes must qualify automatically as valid because … they are black and speaking from “their experience.”

John McWorther

The problem with Foucault

27 May, 2023 at 18:29 | Posted in Politics & Society | 1 Comment

My problem with Michel Foucault, then, is not that he seeks to “move beyond” the welfare state, but that he actively contributed to its destruction, and that he did so in a way that was entirely in step with the neoliberal critiques of the moment. His objective was not to move towards “socialism,” but to be rid of it …

Foucault and Neoliberalism – a few thoughts in response to the Zamora piece  in Jacobin | Progressive GeographiesIn addition to the “dependency” it supposedly creates, Foucault believes that social security ultimately serves mainly the affluent. Thus, in a 1976 interview, he invokes, again without much distancing, the classic neoliberal argument according to which the welfare state actually amounts to a subsidy for the rich paid for by the poor, since it is often the rich who make the most use of the services provided …

This argument, largely developed by Milton Friedman in his little opus Free to Choose — which Foucault was surely aware of — basically opposed any form of universal service financed by the public. According to Friedman, such a system always leads to “a transfer from the less well-off to the better-off” …

How could we seriously think that discrediting state action in the social domain and abandoning the very idea of social “rights” constitutes progress toward thinking “beyond the welfare state”? All it has done is allow the welfare state’s destruction, not a glimpse of something “beyond.”

Daniel Zamora

Foucault’s anti-socialism

27 May, 2023 at 16:34 | Posted in Politics & Society | Leave a comment Foucault and Neoliberalism: 9781509501779: Zamora, Daniel,  Behrent, Michael C.: BooksIt is not difficult to discern Foucault’s animosity toward the post-war left project. Obviously he was very hostile to Marxism … For Foucault in 1977, “the return of the revolution, that’s our problem (…) You know it very well: it’s the desire itself of the revolution that is a problem”

Foucault’s non-vote for Mitterrand in 1981 was about more than just a vote; it revealed his deep suspicion of the whole project of the left after 1945, with its strong state, universal rights, and public services. The new philosopher Andre Glucksman summarized this sensibility in “The Master Thinkers” – a book that Foucault endorsed in a long review and characterized as “brilliant”: “what have we won in replacing a capitalist with a functionary?” In his view, “in the long run, nationalization is domination” …

Let’s not forget that at that moment, he thought that the French left had no proper “governmentality” … Neoliberalism was thus attractive for a rethinking of the left … it was a rethinking that would put aside all his ideas of revolution and of socializing the means of production. Rather than creating a serious social alternative to the post-war left, Foucault did legitimize in many ways, the idea that there was no alternative to the market.

Daniel Zamora

Foucault’s neoliberalism

26 May, 2023 at 10:46 | Posted in Economics, Politics & Society | 4 Comments

foucault / desfoucault | Engraçado, PalavrasAlthough somewhat critical of its reductive elements, Foucault found certain attractive features in the ideal or programmatic form imagined by American neoliberalism, namely, that it envisages a kind of regulation outside sovereign, disciplinary, and biopolitical forms, that it regulates without the fabrication of subjectivities and in a manner that optimizes difference and tolerates minority groups and practices. Second, from a policy perspective, Foucault showed a certain acceptance of a neoliberal diagnosis of current problems of the welfare state as creating dependency, as unresponsive and costly, without offering an explicit endorsement of its reconstructions of health and social services as a series of markets. Finally, from the perspective of concrete political alignments, he displays an affinity with the “Second Left,” those elements within French social democracy that opposed the statism of the “First Left” and displayed a willingness to adopt neoliberal ideas and solutions …

Intellectually, Foucault expresses most affinity with American neoliberalism of the Chicago School. From a public policy perspective, he offers critiques of the welfare state found in the work of the principals of that School and explores technologies, such as the negative tax, that are sourced from such critiques. And from a concrete political perspective, he most clearly aligns himself with specific factions of the French Left open to ideas and solutions borrowed from American neoliberalism. To note this threefold, affirmative relationship is not to denounce Foucault as a neoliberal. It is simply to indicate his much more serious and fundamental engagement with a contemporary form of economic liberalism than is usually allowed in Foucauldian commentary.

Mitchell Dean

Universalism vs tribalism

24 May, 2023 at 15:17 | Posted in Politics & Society | Leave a comment

Moral universalism: Global evidence | CEPRIt’s now an article of faith that universalism, like other Enlightenment ideas, is a sham that was invented to disguise Eurocentric views that supported colonialism. When I first heard such claims some fifteen years ago, I thought they were so flimsy they’d soon disappear. For the claims are not simply ungrounded: they turn Enlightenment upside down. Enlightenment thinkers invented the critique of Eurocentrism and were the first to attack colonialism, on the basis of universalist ideas …

In the last few years the Enlightenment has been held responsible for most of our misery, just as a century ago, the source for contemporary suffering was called modernity. Something big, after all, must be to blame. Enlightenment-bashing may have begun in American universities, but its reach has swept through the culture in much of the Western world …

They forget that the Enlightenment emerged from a blasted landscape, on a continent soaked with blood. Those who dismiss Enlightenment thinkers as naive or optimistic not only ignore their writings; more importantly, they ignore the history that formed the background to their thought.

Susan Neiman

Wokeism and the commodified academic industry

23 May, 2023 at 14:52 | Posted in Education & School, Politics & Society | Leave a comment


The problem with identity politics and wokeism

23 May, 2023 at 09:44 | Posted in Politics & Society | Leave a comment


Postcolonial theory in perspective

20 May, 2023 at 23:25 | Posted in Politics & Society | 1 Comment

Links is niet woke, Susan Neiman | 9789047715597 | Boeken | bol.comMany of the theoretical assumptions which support the most admirable impulses of the woke come from the intellectual movement they most despise. The best tenets of woke, such as the insistence on viewing the world from more than one geographical perspective, come straight from the Enlightenment. Contemporary rejections of this period usually go hand in hand with not much knowledge of it. But you can’t hope to make progress by sawing at the branch you don’t know you are sitting on.

It is now an article of faith that universalism, like other Enlightenment ideas, is a sham that was designed to disguise Eurocentric views which supported colonialism. These claims are not simply ungrounded: they turn the Enlightenment upside down. Enlightenment thinkers invented the critique of Eurocentrism and were the first to attack colonialism — on the basis of universalist ideas. When contemporary postcolonial theorists rightly insist that we learn to view the world from the perspective of non-Europeans, they are echoing a tradition that goes back to 18th-century thinkers, who risked their livelihoods, and sometimes their lives, to defend those ideas.

This is not merely a historical matter: we need Enlightenment ideas if we have any hope of moving forward against what are politely called the authoritarian tendencies of the present. But there is no time for politeness when many elected leaders around the world are openly undermining democracy.

Susan Neiman

Postmodernism & Pedophilia

19 May, 2023 at 19:29 | Posted in Politics & Society | 1 Comment

Jean-Paul Sartre, Roland Barthes, Simone de Beauvoir, Gilles et Fanny Deleuze … Jack Lang … André Glucksmann, et bien d’autres encore; tous font partie des 69 intellectuels français qui, aux côtés de l’écrivain Gabriel Matzneff … ont signé une tribune publiée le 26 janvier 1977. D’abord dans Le Monde puis dans Libération pour défendre trois hommes incarcérés depuis plus de trois ans pour avoir abusé sexuellement de mineurs de moins de 15 ans.

‘Trois ans de prison pour des caresses et des baisers, cela suffit !’ écrivaient les signataires.

Ils demandaient la relaxe des trois hommes au prétexte que les enfants n’avaient pas été victimes de la moindre violence, mais, au contraire, qu’ils étaient consentants.

Le 23 mai 1977, dans les pages “Opinions” du Monde, 80 intellectuels français parmi lesquels Jean-Paul Sartre, Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, Simone de Beauvoir … Jacques Derrida … signent un autre texte pour demander que la loi décriminalise les rapports sexuels entre les adultes et les enfants de moins de 15 ans.

 Cécile de Kervasdoué et Fiona Moghaddam

International Women's Day: An ode to Simone de Beauvoir - Philosophy -  University of Kent It has to be said that Beauvoir’s interest in these matters was not purely theoretical … She was dismissed from her teaching job in 1943 for “behavior leading to the corruption of a minor.” The minor in question was one of her pupils at a Paris lycée. It is well established that she and Jean-Paul Sartre developed a pattern, which they called the “trio,” in which Beauvoir would seduce her students and then pass them on to Sartre …

Beauvoir’s “Lolita Syndrome” … offers an evangelical defence of the sexual emancipation of the young … Beauvoir posits Bardot as the incarnation of “authenticity” and natural, pure “desire,” with “aggressive” sexuality devoid of any hypocrisy. The author of “The Second Sex” is keen to stress sexual equality and autonomy, but she also insists on the “charms of the ‘nymph’ in whom the fearsome image of the wife and the mother is not yet visible.”

Andy Martin/New York Times

Sverige — ett Eldorado för finansiella lobbyorganisationer

18 May, 2023 at 13:52 | Posted in Politics & Society | Leave a comment

Hem | SwedishbankersFå lobbyorganisationer i landet är mäktigare än Svenska Bankföreningen, som satt i system att rekrytera ex-politiker till vd-posten. Denna organisation och dess inhyrda lakejer har systematiskt motarbetat alla försök till ökade krav på branschen, inte sällan med hjälp av domedagsscenarier där Sverige påstås regrediera till bronsåldern om inte samhället värnar storbankernas lönsamhet.

Det är en pr-kampanj som rönt lysande framgångar. Sedan millennieskiftet har de sammanlagda skulderna för hushåll och företag i Sverige ökat från 3 000 till över 12 000 miljarder kronor, enligt SCB. De enda tydliga vinnarna på detta är bankerna och vad som kan kallas det finansindustriella komplexet: fastighetsbolag, mäklarfirmor, rådgivare och riskkapitalister …

När inte ens marknadsliberalernas egen utbildningsfabrik Handelshögskolan litar på de betyg som landets friskolor producerar har det gått långt. Inget tyder på en förändring. Politiken är numera fullsmockad med tidigare eller blivande ”public affairs”-konsulter, ett slags trojanska hästar utplacerade i maktens korridorer. Det går inte längre att svara på var demokratin slutar och särintressena börjar i Sverige.

Det borde egentligen få medborgarna att springa ut på gatorna i raseri.

Andreas Cervenka

Girig-Sverige — eller när kommer kraschen?

15 May, 2023 at 11:20 | Posted in Economics, Politics & Society | Leave a comment

Ekonomijournalistgruppen har en hel del tydliga devota och inställsamma inslag, där många, kanske de flesta, med tiden har valt att gå ”all in” och blivit PR-konsulter eller pressansvariga på något företag.

Andreas Cervenka är ett lysande undantag och hans ”Girig-Sverige” är ekonomijournalistik när den är som bäst, kritisk, upplysande och underhållande

Is Capitalism All About Greed? - YouTubeSverige har numera enligt Cervenkas lista 541 miljardärer, och där dessas tillgångar numera motsvarar en högre andel av vår BNP än oligarkernas andel i Ryssland. Cervenka lyfter skickligt och trovärdigt fram baksidorna av denna nya verklighet, med de mycket kraftigt växande ekonomiska klyftorna och då inte minst den bråddjupa ravin som har öppnat sig på den svenska bostadsmarknaden …

Men även politiska beslut har stärkt denna termik. Det gäller de slopade arvs- och förmögenhetsskatterna, där Sverige numera är ett av de mest ”generösa” länderna i världen. ”Skatteparadisen” Luxemburg och Schweiz har kvar dessa skatter.

De gäller även sänkta bolagsskatter och slopad reavinstskatt på försäljning av helägda dotterbolag, vilket gör att alla kommersiella fastigheter numera är ”paketerade” i bolag och ger noll i skatt vid försäljning. Detta har gjort att Svenska aktiebolag numera är en etablerad ”parkeringsplats” för internationella fastighetsaktörer som vill minimera skatten …

De avslutande kapitlen handlar om att detta inte kan fortsätta. Det är ekonomen Hyman Minskys finansiella instabilitetsteori som testas. Och frågan är bara: När kommer kraschen?

Per Lindvall

Det är svårt att inte hålla med — sällan eller aldrig har man anledning vara nöjd med den svenska ekonomijournalistiken. Ytterst få ekonomijournalister och börsanalytiker tar sitt jobb på allvar och bedriver ekonomisk journalistik värd namnet. Per Lindvall och Andreas Cervenka är två lysande undantag. Synd bara att allmänheten i övrigt oftast får nöja sig med det tyckmyckentrutade nonsens näringslivets hejaklacksledare helt oemotsagt får basunera ut i våra medier vecka efter vecka

Postmodern obscurantism

9 May, 2023 at 22:53 | Posted in Politics & Society | Comments Off on Postmodern obscurantism

Mainstream economics — an obscurantist and harmful waste of time | LARS P.  SYLLAmong the soft obscurantists some aim at truth, but do not respect the norms for arriving at truth, such as focusing on causality, acting as devil’s advocate, and generating falsifiable hypotheses. Others do not aim at truth, and often scorn the very idea that there is such a thing. By assumption, these non-respecters of truth cannot be reached by argument, only by ridicule …

Let me mention who they are, by discipline and by name. Disciplines include deconstructionism, postmodernism, subaltern theory, post-colonialism, queer theory, gender theory. Some names are Jacques Derrida, Bruno Latour, Gayatri Spivak, Alain Badiou, Slavoj  Žižek, Homi K. Bhabha, Judith Butler.

Jon Elster

When listening to — or reading — the postmodern obscurantist mumbo-jumbo​ that surrounds​ us today in social sciences and humanities, yours truly often finds himself wishing for that special Annie Hall moment of truth:

Woke racism

9 May, 2023 at 19:00 | Posted in Politics & Society | Comments Off on Woke racism



7 May, 2023 at 23:14 | Posted in Politics & Society | Comments Off on Enlightenment


Susan Neiman’s defence of Enlightenment and critique of wokeism is both powerful and convincing.

The ideas of the Enlightenment are still relevant, despite the numerous criticisms that have been levelled against them. The Enlightenment was characterized by a spirit of exploration that led to new discoveries in both science and culture. Rather than promoting a narrow worldview, it encouraged people to question assumptions and religious beliefs. It still provides a framework for addressing some of the most pressing problems facing society, such as climate change and social inequality.

While the Enlightenment has been criticized for its flaws and limitations, its ideas and values still have much to offer us today. Discussing philosophy and philosophers — just as economics and economists — has to take place in a contextualized place and time. Judging people that lived more than 200 years ago from the standpoint of present days (scientific) knowledge is nothing but anachronistic. That Kant and most people in his time held views that expressed ‘misogyny’, or were discriminatory, or even ‘racist’, is not the question. We all know that. What is much more interesting is to situate and try to analyze and understand why and in which historical, social, and cultural contexts these views were anchored. That said, I think that Kant — and the philosophers and scientists who have followed in his footsteps — if he had lived today would strongly condemn all kinds of racism and other attacks on universal human rights and enlightenment.

Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed nonage. Nonage is the inability to use one’s own understanding without another’s guidance. This nonage is self-imposed if its cause lies not in lack of understanding but in indecision and lack of courage to use one’s own mind without another’s guidance. Sapere aude! “Have the courage to use your own understanding,” is therefore the motto of the enlightenment.

An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment? - Immanuel Kant - Ljudbok  - BookBeatLaziness and cowardice are the reasons why such a large part of mankind gladly remain minors all their lives, long after nature has freed them from external guidance … Those guardians who have kindly taken supervision upon themselves see to it that the overwhelming majority of mankind — among them the entire fair sex — should consider the step to maturity, not only as hard, but as extremely dangerous. First, these guardians make their domestic cattle stupid and carefully prevent the docile creatures from taking a single step without the leading-strings to which they have fastened them. Then they show them the danger that would threaten them if they should try to walk by themselves. Now this danger is really not very great; after stumbling a few times they would, at last, learn to walk. However, examples of such failures intimidate and generally discourage all further attempts …

Dogmas and formulas, these mechanical tools designed for reasonable use — or rather abuse — of his natural gifts, are the fetters of an everlasting nonage …

Enlightenment requires nothing but freedom — and the most innocent of all that may be called “freedom”: freedom to make public use of one’s reason in all matters. Now I hear the cry from all sides: “Do not argue!” The officer says: “Do not argue — drill!” The tax collector: “Do not argue — pay!” The pastor: “Do not argue — believe!” Only one ruler in the world says: “Argue as much as you please, but obey!” We find restrictions on freedom everywhere. But which restriction is harmful to enlightenment? Which restriction is innocent, and which advances enlightenment? I reply: the public use of one’s reason must be free at all times, and this alone can bring enlightenment to mankind.

Immanuel Kant

Left is not woke

7 May, 2023 at 09:00 | Posted in Politics & Society | Comments Off on Left is not woke


[You can watch the Foucault-Chomsky debate mentioned in the video here]

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