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February 18, 2021

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We either didn't believe her or didn't care. I could still eat salami in large quantities, and sometimes do, just as a treat.

Me too.

I've eaten a lot of weird stuff, growing up and travelling in the far east (snake, sea slugs, jellyfish etc), and don't have that much of an "ugh" reflex, except the strong taboo feeling about eating cat or dog.

I love most offal, (including blood sausages etc) except overcooked liver. It has to be pink in the middle, or else in a pate. I can even enjoy some preparations of brains, although after a few delicious but rich bites, I do get a bit weirded out by the thought (no joke intended).

As far as haggis is concerned, the best thing about it is a reliably-sourced story I may have told you before, but hopefully you will bear with its repetition. Since Burns Night is celebrated all round the world by nostalgic Scots, the haggis is always piped in and greeted by the Burns poem which includes the line Great chieftain o' the puddin' race!

At a Burns Night celebration in Germany, the printed program included a German translation of the poem, with an English version translated back from the German alongside, in which this line as given as:

Mighty fuhrer of the sausage people!

This gives me great pleasure.

Mighty fuhrer of the sausage people!

Cracked me up.

If you are already headed through the South, just extend the trip far enough to make it to New Mexico for some authentic New Mexican cuisine. I've eaten all manner of regional Mexican, but I think New Mexican is the most distinctive. And New Mexican apple pie (with hatch chilis, piñon streusel, and cheese in the crust) is the pinnacle of apple pie as far as I'm concerned.

Excellent! I'm off to bed now, to dream of a road trip round the South. Good night all.

Excellent referred to Janie. But I was in New Mexico in about 1993, and ate a lot of good food in Santa Fe. I liked it (didn't stay in Santa Fe, but out in the country), despite its touristification.

I was in college in Santa Fé in the early 90s and that may have been peak tourist-y. With any luck you managed to find a couple of the local secrets, like the dearly departed Dave's Not Here (named after the Cheech & Chong skit, and for the same reasons), which had the best chili rellenos (breaded) I have ever had. Plaza Cafe is still (there, and a local mainstay with affordable food despite being right on the Plaza).

I stayed a night in Santa Fé a couple years ago on the way back from visiting family in CO - first time since college - and it seemed to be more run down and reduced than I remember it being in '91 when I first got there. Still tourist-y, but more niche in its tourism and more impoverished overall.

Food is still great, though, and the sunsets are still fantastic over the Jemez mountains.

Garbage plates! I almost forgot about them. I had a few late at night when I was working just outside of Rochester, NY. I recall them being like a bunch of stuff you’d eat at a cookout, whether hot or cold, thrown hastily into a pile on a large paper plate. Lots of food for little money, best eaten drunk.

That apple pie description is incredible nous and everyone is cordially invited to move to the anteroom for a thread about it and other recipes.

Story about Lauren Underwood; interesting throughout.

https://www.elle.com/culture/a35524502/lauren-underwood-is-the-future/
...Underwood was eventually escorted to an undisclosed location, but what should have been a safe space was anything but when she realized the room was crammed full of Republicans who refused to put on masks. It was “the most direct superspreader exposure I had ever been in,” says Underwood, 34. “After all those months of being so careful with COVID...” (She has a heart condition called supraventricular tachycardia and is sure that if she got the virus, “I'd be symptomatic, and it would be rough.”)

For four hours, Underwood and other members were told they couldn’t leave. No bathroom breaks, no food—“you just had to sit there,” she says. She had someone text her sister to say, “I’m with Lauren. She’s in an undisclosed location without her phone. She’s safe.” The sergeant at arms came in after about two hours and said, “We haven’t yet secured the Capitol. We are waiting for reinforcements to arrive.” What? How is this possible? Underwood thought....

...“I believe, even with my constituents who are the most ardent supporters of the MAGA philosophy, that they can respect and understand what it means to pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States and what it means to uphold the Constitution,” Underwood says. “While they may disagree with how I choose to exercise that oath, we have not gone so far that we cannot have a conversation.”...

...Unlike some candidates running in purple districts, she didn’t campaign on being a moderate because, well, she isn’t. She ran on an openly liberal agenda, embracing affordable and accessible health care—drawing on her experience as a registered nurse and a former senior advisor at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—as well as public education, paid leave, and affordable child care...

...When she went door-to-door, farmers would tell her no Democrat had knocked on their doors in 10 years. And what Underwood says she heard “loud and clear,” from those ruby- red rural parts of her district to the more moderate suburbs, is that both sides felt like no one cared. “No one was showing up for them. No one understood what was going on with their families. No one understood their fears or hopes,” she says. “And so when we literally physically showed up and talked to them, listened and were responsive, and engaged them on the issues that mattered to them, we were able to earn their support.”

The conversations often had very little to do with politics or which side of the aisle she sits on. “I will show up in the smallest town. I have towns with less than 100 households, and we show up and talk to them...

...When the Black Lives Matter movement took hold this summer, Underwood was heartened by the rallies in her district. “I’ve lived in this community my whole life and growing up, I never had a Black teacher. There was only one other Black kid in my class. So to see our communities step up—I mean, every town and city had a protest, a rally, a march, something—I was so touched.”

But she didn’t dare participate...

Thanks, Nigel. I found it inspiring. We need many more Lauren Underwoods.

Yes, that is good reading. And an indication of what can be achieved if the Dems up their ground game in states where they have been MIA.

an indication of what can be achieved if the Dems up their ground game in states where they have been MIA.

When you consider how various Democratic proposals poll when not labeled by party, it seems like a lot of quite red areas could be in play with a bit of effort. A lot of that stuff, including some things where I'm personally underwhelmed by the specifics of what is proposed, directly addresses real problems for those voters. And the GOP is offering nothing of substance as an alternative. So it could be huge . . . IF Democratic candidates can up their ground game.

Still won't reach the Trump cultists, of course. But they're really less than 1/3, probable less than 1/4, of the voting population. And even some of them are more driven by the sense that he is finally someone who cares. (He doesn't, not even a little. But at least he puts up a front.) Show up in person and, who knows how many you can peel off.

Behold the Golden... Aaaaargh!
https://www.thedailybeast.com/golden-statue-of-donald-trump-unveiled-at-hellish-looking-cpac-meeting

This is even more fun:

I retract my earlier comparison of this to the golden calf as unfair to the ancient Israelites. For one thing, their calf was real gold, and for another a calf is (I think--not that I have much personal experience with them) a pleasant and peaceful animal.
Not unlike the comments characterizing the previous Presideny to a cranky 3-year-old being a slur on 3-year-olds.

I love the fairy godmother wand and the flip-flops.

Since neither of the current threads is unequivocally Open, I'm choosing this one to again post a link to Ian Leslie's The Ruffian. I have no connection with him, and was only referred to his blog by a friend who thought I'd be interested. And I always do find something interesting in it, and I'm constantly aware of how much of it connects to the interests and concerns of many ObWi commenters, so here is the latest (very US-centred) issue:

https://ianleslie.substack.com/p/tough-talk?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=cta

Western Fault for Hitler/Holocaust

Ok, this is going to be a long one, and as I sit down to finally bring all of my thoughts together, my main thought is “what’s the point, the chances of moving anyone’s needle are close to nil?” Put differently, I’m preparing a case for a jury that I will never persuade. But since I said I would, I will. Here goes:

Background Statement: there were many comments before and after I signed off temporarily from the “Openish Thread” by me and others. I am writing this as if the reader has refreshed on my previous comments. If you haven’t and if what I say seems out of context, you’ll have to return to my earlier comments because there is only so much on person can do or say. Finally, I intentionally absented from ObWi the morning of 2/21/21 because I already had enough to deal with.

The Issue: The Value or Not, Comparatively and Objectively, of Modern Western Liberal Democracy (MWLD) and the Study of Western Civilization and the Western Canon from which MWLD Evolved.

The Protagonists: Modern Traditional Western Liberals vs. the Frankfurt School et al

Preliminary, Overarching Point: the farther one goes left on the spectrum, the more “west” and “white” become conflated.
In fact, MWLD has been embraced throughout the world without regard to local culture or ethnicity. It is a state of mind and a state of being that is, or should be, universally available and applicable to all who want it. The left’s color/geography conflation is one of the core flaws with its antipathy toward MWLD and his antecedents.

McKTex’s Basic Premise (refined in light of comments through 2/21/21 at 8:55 a.m. CST):
The Western Canon is the product of Western Civilization as it developed over a period of 2500 or so years, out of which Western Liberal Democracy (WLD) and then, post WWII (but uniquely informed by certain US Civil War events), Modern Western Liberal Democracy (MWLD) arose. I say, without reservation or qualification, MWLD is, comparatively, superior to any other known and applied societal/governmental system.
Essential elements of MWLD include:

1. Free market capitalism cabined by a focused and balanced statutory and regulatory regime;

2. Equality before the law regardless of race, sex, etc, the Rule of Law, including a variety of enumerable individual rights which the state must respect.

3. A general, often difficult to describe notion of individual liberty/freedom (marry who you want, get in the car and go where you want to go, read what you want, choose your profession or other manner of making a living, hang out with who you please, and so on).

4. People can take it or leave it, as they please, i.e. in a MWLD, the freedom to believe is virtually unlimited so you can take issue with any or all of it and the state is powerless to act.

As others have noted, WLD (19th Century and later) stood on shaky ground. Whether, on balance, 19th Century WLD was superior to Islamic theocracy, the Ottoman Empire, Chinese feudalism or what have you is beside the point because time, as it always does, marched on. We have to deal with the here and now. Historical, comparative atrocity, as I have documented in earlier comments, disproves any pronounced, uniquely Western proclivity for mass violence/atrocity, and I will further cement this point with modern examples of atrocity below. History likewise shows the West to be, on balance, clearly superior in terms of righting its own ship and doing better for the world.

MWLD: Key Historical Milestones

The MWLD began with the end of WWII. The Holocaust and other widespread atrocities were sui generis, not the logical end product of pre-WWII WLD. The world, i.e. every literate society with radio and newspapers, was seeing the utter, inconceivable devastation that had been wrought by the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese. One effect of seeing just how horrible supposedly modern human beings could be was the West to look within. The West, and in particular the United States, had its own set of hard, domestic questions that would not go away and that demanded answers. The ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’ could not be reconciled with Jim Crow, desegregation, ‘separate but equal’, women as second class citizens and any number of other problematic present and recent historical facts. Either we were lying to ourselves about who we were and what we stood for or we needed to be honest with ourselves and fix what was clearly broken. In principal, we seemed sound; in practice, no so much. It’s still a work in progress, but I maintain that one has to be willfully blind in order to miss the extraordinary progress made just in my lifetime.

MWLD was born in the United States. This makes sense for several reasons, not the least of which, the US was the last industrial, democratic power standing at the end of WWII, and was also the loudest voice, if not actor, for freedom and democracy. Further and essentially, the US was a functioning constitutional democracy, meaning that our constitution both circumscribed certain state action in favor of the individual and, in more limited instances, compelled it. But mostly, the constitution acts as a brake on what the state can do.

MWLD would not exist today but for the US Constitution. No other governing regime had anything like the 14th and 15th post Civil War Amendments. These Amendments, cap stoning the already unique Bill of Rights, served as the modern criteria by which the US was compelled, legally and morally, to judge itself and make its own high-minded principals universal and not rhetoric. “Equal protection under the law”, as an inviolable, fundamental individual right, enforced by the state against the state, had no meaningful historical precedent.

Then, history kicked in. In 1947, Truman desegregated the armed forces. Three years later, when N Korea invaded S Korea and the UN authorized force to repel the invasion, for the first time in the history of the country, African American men fought and died with white men in integrated, regularly formed military units. If one were to pick the beginning point of desegregation in the US, the Korean War would be as good a place as any.

In the same year the Korean War ended, the Supreme court handed down Brown v Board of Education, reversing Plessy v Ferguson and holding “equal means the same” and extending the 14th Amendment to all state action. Ten years later, Congress passed the Civil Rights Acts including Title VII and Title IX. Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence and the women’s rights movement in the 60’ and 70’s, which began in the US, https://www.britannica.com/event/womens-movement, set the benchmark for the rest of the world at a time when the choices were basically binary: the evolving MWLD or the Sino/Soviet model. Today, gay marriage is taken for granted and, anti-racist hyperbole notwithstanding, the US and Europe are exemplary in their respect and accommodation of diversity, all of which traces as I’ve laid very out very generally above, back to the US constitutional foundation post WWII.

Meanwhile, since 1945, the Soviet model failed, the Sino model has repeatedly demonstrated is endless awfulness while MWLD is embraced around the world and is not longer a “white” or a “European” concept; rather, its simply recognized by huge swaths of humanity as the best basic model on which to organize relatively free, open and productive societies.

Western Hegemony, Hitler and the Frankfurt School

Here’s are some questions: what are the specific negative effects of Western Hegemony? That is, is something of equal or greater *value* being excluded by Western hegemony? If so, what? Plus: who, outside the US and European West, is even complaining about Western Hegemony? What schools of thought, worldviews, etc. should sit alongside MWLD and the modern Western Canon?

Parenthetically, I do not expect substantive, specific responses to these questions.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the last couple of weeks thinking about this and reading up on the topic. One of the first things I noticed is that none of the critics of Western Hegemony have anything unkind to say about that other uniquely Western perspective: Marxism. There are zero complaints from the anti-Western Hegemonists about Marxist Hegemony. None, zero, zilch and nada. Indeed, the Frankfurt School is a Marxist-Hegelian endeavor that, if I’m reading it right, is the source of modern ‘critical’ studies. It is passing strange to me that anti-Western Hegemonists are silent in the face of a worldview that violently suppresses dissent and nonconformity yet remains endlessly hostile to the one liberating force in the world that has done so much for so many. I haven’t found any evidence of an identifiable, conflicting worldview anywhere other than critical studies, which is fundamentally, a 1930’s German (all white and male) split with Leninism in favor of Hegel. Intramural Marxist debate about how many workers can gloriously dance of the edge of a sickle is meaningless outside that bubble.

Western Fault for the Holocaust

Here is some irony for you: when things got too warm in Germany for the Frankfurt School, did they flee to the Worker’s Paradise? Um, no. They came here, to the USA.

Next are some historical facts which apparently did not get on the Frankfurt School’s cause-and-effect radar screen: Japan invaded China in 1931. Or in 1937. You can get different dates. Thereafter, Japan invaded a bunch of other countries. Nazi Germany, friend and admirer of the West, invaded Poland, Austria, France and Norway plus began a war against Great Britain plus declared war on the US all before invading the Soviet Union and, to be completely precise, before the US declared war on Nazi Germany.
The West—and mainly the US—put paid to Japan. Had the West—and mainly the US—sought accommodations with Hitler, WWII on the Eastern Front would have had a different ending. Also, the peace loving peoples of the Soviet Union invaded Poland in 1939 and Finland in 1940. But, you know, the West sucks, because of 19th century slavery and European colonialism.

Does anyone remember the population of Cambodia in 1968? In 1972? How many Uyghurs are there in the PRC today? How many were there ten years ago?

Yes, Western Hegemony, it’s the worst.

The Origins of the Holocaust

Suggested reading: Mein Kampf and the Wannsee Protocol. Hitler was a vicious anti-semite as was most of the Nazi leadership. The SS attracted like-minded creatures and carried out the systematic extermination of Jews and other “subhumans”. It’s not a mystery. The historical facts were not hidden away, waiting for the grandkids of Max Horkheimer, Theodor W. Adorno, Herbert Marcuse etc. to read the runes of the past, jiggle and ignore the obvious evidence and find out that Marxism’s implacable enemy—the Western Liberal Tradition—was actually at fault for Hitler’s rise and the Final Solution. The Bolshevik Revolution and mass slaughter in the peace-loving Soviet Union had nothing whatsoever to do with the rise of the far right in Germany.
In the late 19th Century—a time when single digits of any countries population went to college—Germany was viewed as one of the high points in the West. However, that changed with WWI. You have to look at all of history, not just the parts that fit your happy place.

Final Note

I’m probably out for while. I’m transitioning my law practice this year and it will require a lot of time. Y’all be well.

Good on you, McKinney, for trying to engage with this. I would only say, as I have before, that when you say things like

Does anyone remember the population of Cambodia in 1968? In 1972? How many Uyghurs are there in the PRC today? How many were there ten years ago?

you are not arguing with anybody here, but with some other lefties who live in your head, and fiercely defend and argue for the superiority of Marxism, the USSR, the PRC and (possibly given the above) the Khmer Rouge.

Your view of the superiority of MWLD is as you say very widely held, and with some reason, and if there is pushback against it, that seems only fair as there should always be examination of widely held and usually unquestioned worldviews.

As far as the USA being the cradle, and guardian, of rule of law and constitutional safeguards is concerned, I can only say that at the moment (and to the extent that this was ever true) its status seems in a worrying condition. I don't need to overstress this: you saw it yourself, very recently.

You have to look at all of history, not just the parts that fit your happy place.

Your view of the superiority of MWLD is as you say very widely held, and with some reason, and if there is pushback against it, that seems only fair as there should always be examination of widely held and usually unquestioned worldviews.

I believe in the superiority of MLD. (I'll drop the W to indicate that liberal democracy can be universal, and that it's not an inevitable result of Western culture.) I just don't think that the US has lived up to its principles as closely as McKinney does, or faithfully as we should. Racial disparity in the criminal justice system, which incarcerates more people than any other industrialized nation, is one glaring example of this.

I believe in the strength of our Constitution, but also recognize its flaws, many of which were included in an attempt to accommodate slavery. Acknowledging and correcting that would go a long way toward making our democracy closer to its ideal.

Unfortunately, we the people currently have a lot of bad actors whose belief in equality and MLD is suspect. Our adherence to principles that we recognize as superior is a constant struggle. People within our system betray our principles, and we don't always prevail over their sabotage.

Y’all be well.

Back atcha!

Historical, comparative atrocity, as I have documented in earlier comments, disproves any pronounced, uniquely Western proclivity for mass violence/atrocity

there's a lot of straw here.

nobody here has said proclivity for violence is unique to the West.

what many of us keep saying, in many different ways, is that the west, just like all those nasty inferior cultures, has been very violent, and horrific, and terrible. so bringing up instances where Asians were terrible to each other as solid proof that Asian culture is inferior while No-True-Scotsmannign western atrocities just isn't convincing.

the history of the west is just as violent and terrible as anyone else's.

  • 1. Free market capitalism cabined by a focused and balanced statutory and regulatory regime;
  • this begs the question of the superiority of free market capitalism. its myriad failures and general amorality raise doubts.

    2. Equality before the law regardless of race, sex, etc, the Rule of Law, including a variety of enumerable individual rights which the state must respect.

    it's a great ideal. still waiting for a full implementation.

    McT, that's one impressive post. Perhaps what one should expect from someone in your profession, but still. Impressive.

    Best of luck with transitioning your practice. Those sorts of efforts, even when they go exceptionally smoothly, are always a strain.

    P.S. who, outside the US and European West, is even complaining about Western Hegemony?
    There have been constant complaints, from East Asia, from South Asia, and probably from Africa (although I'm not in a position to hear as many of those). Complaints about the hegemony of Western (and/or American) culture displacing the local culture. But I suspect this is just more of what we also see here: an older generation exasperated by their children's taste in music, clothing, etc.

    I believe in the superiority of MLD. . . ., I just don't think that the US has lived up to its principles as closely as McKinney does, or faithfully as we should.

    I thought that McKinney was pretty explicit that we hadn't lived up to our ideals. He just said that we have made significant progress, in our lifetimes, towards doing so. For all that we still have a ways to go.

    Here is some irony for you: when things got too warm in Germany for the Frankfurt School, did they flee to the Worker’s Paradise? Um, no. They came here, to the USA.

    I am not at all a scholar of marxism and have only so much Venn overlap in my studies with marxism, but the account of Western Marxism that McKinney gives seems highly idiosyncratic and uninterested in actually trying to understand either the philosophical disconnects between Western Marxism and Marxism-Leninism, or the practical circumstances.

    Most of the Frankfurt School figures that ended up in the US had gone into exile in France or Scandinavia looking for a place that was not getting blown up and was not actively rounding up people of Jewish descent. That place had, for a period of time, been Paris, but then, you know, blitzkrieg made that a bit hard and the Atlantic was a more secure buffer.

    They didn't go to the Soviet Union because they opposed the Soviet Union on a fundamental level. When you say that there is no complaint against Marxist Hegemony from Critical Theorist, you are failing to understand that the Frankfurt School Marxism is itself an attack on Marxist Hegemony.

    Criticism of Marxist Hegemony is woven all through the actual works of the Frankfurt School at a fundamental level.

    They didn't go to the Soviet Union because they opposed the Soviet Union on a fundamental level.

    What was practiced in the Soviet Union bore little resemblance to anything Marx favored. Communist China ditto. A brilliant bit of marketing and misdirection, it's true. But nothing like the real thing.** Perhaps part of the reason German Marxists didn't go there.

    ** Whether real Marxism is even possible with real human beings, at least in numbers above a dozen unrelated individuals, is questionable. Not unlike a true libertarian "society." Beautiful fantasies, but in the real world? Perhaps there is a reason we never see them happen.

    ** Whether real Marxism is even possible with real human beings, at least in numbers above a dozen unrelated individuals, is questionable. Not unlike a true libertarian "society." Beautiful fantasies, but in the real world? Perhaps there is a reason we never see them happen.

    See also most organized religions.

    All voluntary political associations struggle with the challenges associated with Dunbar's Number:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar%27s_number

    ...especially when we also prove susceptible to seeing the world through the lens of a non-iterated Prisoner's Dilemma much of the time when thinking about interactions with people beyond the limits of our own social group.

    Don't know how much weight we can put on Dunbar's Number as a verifiable principle, but it certainly feels to me like it says something real about social experience.

    If y'all would like me to front page this, I can.

    I am pretty sure that this reply was started by my wondering why the West isn't blamed for the Holocaust. As such, McT argues a purely intentionalist line against what are primarily functionalist interpretations. As I noted, the field has moved towards a synthesis, and this article might be of interest to those who really want to examine history. Even if you don't, you may want to read it in light of Trump's CPAC speech

    https://scholarworks.lib.csusb.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1115&context=history-in-the-making

    I think it takes too many pains to incorporate the intentionalist side, but for those not up to reading the whole thing, the two paragraphs. I'd argue that 'modernity' can be replaced, for all intents and purposes, by 'MWLD', but that is just me.

    There are many who would allocate the Holocaust as the defining moment of the twentieth century, and to a point they would be right, even if that perspective is a bit short sighted. It would be more accurate to assign that allocation to World War II as a whole. The many theaters of war forever shifted our view of humanity, and shows just how destructive we as citizens of the world can be. This is largely a product of humanity’s progress into modernity, as the regard for human life has been continually devalued. One need only look to the atrocities of war, whether it is the Holocaust, Operation Barbarossa, Stalinist Russia, the Atomic bombs or the actions of the Japanese in China. Simply, World War II was largely an assault on humanity.

    This concept of modernity and humanity’s ever vigilant search for a higher dose of it has led to people being only seen as numbers. “The Nazi regime turned people into numbers, some of which we can only estimate, some of which we can reconstruct with fair precision. It is for us as scholars to seek these numbers and to put them into perspective. It is for us as humanists to turn the numbers back into people. If we cannot do that, then Hitler has shaped not only our world, but our humanity.” The legacy of modernity and the quest to keep progressing should not be defined by the loss of humanity, because the legacies of evil overshadow those in the past, but the present and future’s appeal to humanity. Why is it easier for us to turn our humanity over to a statistic, rather than to strive as a collective entity, united in our humanity to exist? In the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln, “with malice towards none and charity for all”?39 If it is possible to move in that direction, we can begin to assure ourselves that humanity, in the face of modernity, has not been defined by someone as malevolent as Adolf Hitler.

    I also thought it was amusing that Japan enters McT's essay in "Western fault for the Holocaust" on the back of a seriously messed up timeline (no, seriously, when exactly did Japan 'invade a lot of countries'?) and McT's assertion that somehow, there were tons of accomodations for Japan and none for Hitler, which gave me the suggestion that Japan was responsible for the whole mess. Japan has its own issues with China and Korea, but thinking of them as the reason for the Holocaust is a rather unique take on history.

    Anyway, if you want me to front page it, drop a comment.

    lj, you're absolutely correct about what started it. I just ran with it (and my theme of Germany as one of the high points of then Western civilisation) when McKinney said the holocaust was the responsibility of the Nazi party, not Germany. byomtov's point that plenty of Europe collaborated enthusiastically with the genocide was a follow-on, which I guess McKinney deals with by starting his MWLD after WW2. I don't know what to say about McK's obsession with contrasting MWLD with all previous civilisations, nor his obsession with Marxism, which as far as I can see (pace bobbyp) is these days, in all its various permutations, pretty much a busted flush. It seems as if the Cold War state of mind which insists on this binary is very hard to shift, once firmly in place, and having heard Trump last night insisting that Biden and the Dems' "socialism" is leading inevitably to "communism", it's clear there's still plenty of gas in that particular tank, and with people a great deal less informed, and more easily manipulable, than McKinney. Sigh.

    For Trump (and, AFAICT, CPAC generally) "socialism" just means "evil" and "communism" is simply an alternative was to say "super-evil". Any relation to the actual beliefs which constitute either of those is entirely coincidental.

    Yeah, Manchurian Candidate still hasn't lost its relevance as far as the GOP is concerned:
    "One of your mother's more endearing traits is her tendency to refer to anyone who disagrees with her about anything as a Communist."

    Interesting article, lj. So, if I may simplify, the author attributes the savagery of the Holocaust largely to the "intentionality" of one Adolph Hitler (the spark) as viewed through a modified synthesis of "functionalism" and intentionalism", correct?

    Yet it seems common in "the west" to turn this on its head when contemplating the disaster that was 20th century state socialism does it not, as the horrors of the Soviet Union under Stalin or China under Mao take on a wholly functionalist tinge to shift the blame for these atrocities on "marxism" and not the intentionality of the actors?

    Also, pointing the finger at "modernity" is a well established canon, as the release of the power of carbon has magnified both the best and the worst in humanity. Marx might have been on to something here, but subject for a different discussion.

    And of course, it goes without saying that the Enlightenment is also to blame (/sarcasm).

    Well, enlightenment gave rise to 'scientific' racism since the old religious justification was not considered valid anymore but to get rid of the prejudices themselves was naturally a no-go (stop hating the Jews? you must be kidding!).

    One of the first things I noticed is that none of the critics of Western Hegemony have anything unkind to say about that other uniquely Western perspective: Marxism.

    One of the first things I notice about McKinney's diatribes is the remorseless return to this theme. It is, simply, a part of an unceasing "historical" attempt to tie the US "left" such as it is, to the worst aspects (many) of marxism in practice, as it's avowed practitioners implemented upon seizing state power in several nations during the 20th century (note: Tex never admits that these socialists also did some good things, but whatever). This inevitably leads to unloading a big guilt trip on "woke" liberals, who, by any measure, are not marxists by any stretch of the imagination, intellectually or politically. It is pure guilt by association.

    Nobody should take such bleatings seriously.

    I am not, remotely, a historian, but it's a topic of interest to me. I read stuff, more or less randomly following one shiny tidbit of information or other, down one rabbit hole or other.

    What seems blindingly clear to me, from my spotty and slapdash exposure to the history of humans, is that we have an enormous capacity to visit hell upon the heads of each other.

    This seems to be so across every imaginable combination of culture, ethnicity, geography, religion, economic and social organization, climate, historical period, whatever. Humans will slaughter other humans, in as large a number as they can manage, if there's something in it for them. And then they'll invent 1,000 reasons why it was justified.

    If anybody can show evidence to the contrary, I'd love to see it.

    I personally prefer modern liberal democracy to pretty much anything else I can think of, but I would be unsurprised if that was in no small part because I was raised in it. My guess, and it's only a guess, is that if you were to described MLD to a random sampling of humans over the last 10,000 years of settled human history and ask their opinion, they might prefer what they were raised in.

    There would be, no doubt, obvious exceptions. But I'm also pretty confident that a lot of folks would respond with something like "yeah, but you're telling me anybody can be king? that's insane! what if all the goatherds got together and we ended up with a goatherd for king? who's gonna fight the Vandals, a goatherd?".

    Right?

    MLD makes sense for us, now. Literacy is high in most places, technology has reduced the need for most people to spend their lives in plain old physical labor, most people have at least a rudimentary education. It's a good fit, now, for us.

    And to head off the expected rejoinder, no, all of those good things are not the unique and inevitable fruit of MLD.

    I'm gonna go out on a limb and assert that the main reason MLD didn't emerge at other historical points in time is that it wasn't a good fit, then, for those people. Culture and all of the institutions that arise from culture are adaptive, and evolve into forms that suit their times and situations. And what people come up with always has upsides and downsides.

    I'll also say that a capitalist economy and free trade generally (those are not the same thing) have brought us many many material benefits, but you can enjoy those benefits while also being mindful of their downsides.

    I'll close here by calling out modern China as a counter-example to MLD. I probably wouldn't enjoy living in China. It is an authoritarian state. Notably, as kind of aside, it's kind of a capitalist authoritarian state, with enormous state intervention into the economy and into people's lives. But it's not a society that most people who grew up in the West would probably prefer to live in.

    China has also brought its people from fairly widespread poverty, to a place where there is a significant middle class, in about one generation.

    So were you to ask the average Chinese person if they would prefer MLD, my guess is that a lot of them would say "no".

    Chauvinism is a form of hubris. As a general principle, it is IMO to be avoided, and I recommend avoiding it. It's fine to be proud of your culture and your society, it's a slippery slope to say it's the best, now or ever. In my opinion.

    Things I am actively researching as a result of this thread:

    The role of the telegraph in the American Civil War and the various European wars of the 19th C. (testing the notions of modernity and of globalism - I wrote a grad school paper about Dracula that focused on the idea of Dracula as a network information threat along these lines).

    A lateral step from this: how the Civil War dead were memorialized and the cultural ties of this to religion (to compare to a similar survey I did for Europe between the Napoleonic Era and The Great War - such a huge change in how cultures think about the war dead).

    A historically embedded reading of socialism and its many factions and arguments (especially looking for the ties to Modern Western Social Democracies as opposed to Marxist Leninist states).

    Books and articles about Johann Gottfried Herder and other German Romantics and the influence of their idea of Volkscharakter and whatnot upon German Nationalism.

    As with writing a dissertation, I expect that this will lead to a lot of interesting reading in lieu of productive writing, so don't expect much in the way of reporting back.

    You have to look at all of history, not just the parts that fit your happy place.

    This is a rich little dollop of condescension of "pot, meet kettle" variety. Then again, it's not actually fair to the kettle in this case, unless we're talking about the straw kettle in McKinney's head.

    FWIW, my happy place doesn't seem to show up in the historical record.

    :(

    an unceasing "historical" attempt to tie the US "left" such as it is, to the worst aspects (many) of marxism in practice, as it's avowed practitioners implemented upon seizing state power in several nations during the 20th century

    I note a certain similarity in the routine practice of US liberals in tying conservatism to the worst practices (likewise many) of the reactionaries and fascist-wannabes here who claim to be conservatives. (Yes, I know, whataboutism at its worst who claim to be conservatives. C'est la guerre. ;-)

    nous,
    sounds like a good trip. enjoy the scenery!

    Humans will slaughter other humans, in as large a number as they can manage, if there's something in it for them.

    With the caveat that "something in it for them" may be entirely psychological, with no concrete reality whatsoever. Indeed, there may be serious concrete costs.

    (especially looking for the ties to Modern Western Social Democracies as opposed to Marxist Leninist states).

    In this regard, you might find interesting the vote by the German Social Democrats (SPD) for war credits in 1914.

    I note a certain similarity in the routine practice of US liberals in tying conservatism to the worst practices (likewise many) of the reactionaries and fascist-wannabes here who claim to be conservatives.

    Yes, but the libruls are right and the right is wrong! ;-)

    I note a certain similarity in the routine practice of US liberals in tying conservatism to the worst practices

    since what is known as 'conservatism' doesn't make much of an effort to distance itself from those practices, i'm not sure it's tying as much as pointing out

    Notably, as kind of aside, it's kind of a capitalist authoritarian state, with enormous state intervention into the economy and into people's lives.

    Socialism with Chinese Characteristics looks more like fascism than it does socialism. There's not a lot in the way of government-provided social services and safety nets. People are largely dependent on family and friends when they get into difficulties.

    China has also brought its people from fairly widespread poverty, to a place where there is a significant middle class, in about one generation.

    After the current government, with Mao at its head, plunged the whole of China into abject poverty with Mao's great leap backward and cultural devolution. Early on, the decrease in poverty came from taking some of the brakes off people's entrepreneurial inclinations and allowing foreign investments into the country. Only after the populace created some wealth did the government began to create infrastructure and some other modernizations. Even today, just a few miles outside the modern first-tier cities, you encounter third-world levels of poverty. Some of the reductions in poverty the government claims to have accomplished were just lowering the bar of what is considered poverty.

    Rubin has had it with your shenanigans:

    You did not have to watch a moment of the Conservative Political Action Conference (and for your mental hygiene, I hope you did not), to understand that “conservative” — like “cancel culture” or “fake news” — has no meaning. None of those words carry any intellectual weight today. They are expressions of opposition — against the “liberal elites” — and of resentment. “Cancel culture” is an attitude of defiance and an unwillingness to be held accountable for one’s actions or words. “Fake news” signifies anger over facts that contradict the worldview of white grievance and cult worship.

    If conservatism no longer means belief in objective reality, reverence for the rule of law, fiscal sobriety, recognition of universal human rights or public virtue, the Republican Party has no value (or values, frankly).

    ...

    Today’s GOP rationalizes defeat as a sellout by the establishment that simply lacked the patriotism and will to triumph over it enemies. Seething with resentment, the MAGA right considers revenge — “owning the libs” — to be an end unto itself.

    You will note that none of this has anything to do with politics, public policy or problem-solving. Even if Republicans held power, they could not abolish “cancel culture.” They could not make White Christians into a majority of the population, as they once were in America. They could not eradicate an overwhelming majority of voters who are roused by the Black Lives Matter movement and support the American creed that “all men are created.”

    what is known as 'conservatism' doesn't make much of an effort to distance itself from those practices

    Oh, conservatism does. It just doesn't have the same megaphone that the rabid reactionaries do.

    Ironically, since they want government control of huge parts of society, a megaphone funded in major part by wealthy libertarians.

    Oh, conservatism does. It just doesn't have the same megaphone that the rabid reactionaries do.

    the reactionaries own the label, these days.

    and they'll cancel you if you try to infringe on their anti-intellectual property.

    "anti-intellectual property" -- what a delightful formulation!

    Looking for what real conservatives are like? Check this out:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/vanita-gupta-biden-justice-department/2021/03/01/cec4c74c-79f1-11eb-b3d1-9e5aa3d5220c_story.html

    (Naturally the CPAC types hate her.)

    McTex on Marxism, the Frankfurt School and exceptionalism - I would like to it's say so bad it's funny, but this type of ignorance paired with deep seated narcissism is so widespread that our political future seems very grim indeed. My only hope is that it's an age thing and our woke kids will slowly turn around the tanker.

    Well, guess there is some life in this topic yet. Though it might be like this story
    https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2021/feb/28/horse-racing-gordon-elliott-cooperating-investigation-social-media-image
    Because the story has this
    an image circulating widely on social media, which shows the trainer sitting on a dead horse on his gallops,
    I googled the picture to try and figure out what was 'on his gallops' and if anyone wants to explain what that means, it might serve as a useful visual reference.

    I'm glad GftNC explicitly noted McT's defining the period of MWLD after the Holocaust, which I was thinking, but thought it would be a bit ott. It does, however, reveal a lawyerly bent, 'ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my client is not guilty because these events occurred before the time I have conveniently stipulated!' How does it go?

    You have to look at all of history, not just the parts that fit your happy place.

    Yeah, right.

    About nous' dive into the telegraph, from this
    https://www.essentialcivilwarcurriculum.com/the-telegraph.html
    By contrast, the Confederacy failed to make effective use of the South’s much smaller telegraph network for several reasons. Before the war, many operators working on southern lines were northerners. After secession, most returned to their northern homes. Officials of the Confederacy’s largest telegraph company, the Southern Telegraph Company, balked at cooperating with military and civilian officials.

    Funny how when one kicks people out, it tends to bite them on the ass.

    The telegraph also prevented the Nez Perce from escaping to Canada
    https://www.jstor.org/stable/40487055?seq=1

    People do people stuff, tech makes it easier for them to do it, so I'm not sure if the answer is to stop making tech or stop making people....

    Of course, the US Civil War was a foreshadowing of a lot of other things, like concentration camps and IEDs

    Funny how starting the clock after WWII avoids a lot of this....

    Post-WWII is McKinney's happy place, and he doesn't have to take his own advice, any more than he has to argue with the people here instead of the versions in his head.

    I really admire those of you who can be anything but snarky about it. Like nous, choosing to make lemonade and actually learn something, even if it's not the lessons McKinney intended.

    Funny how starting the clock after WWII avoids a lot of this....

    There's a certain hope among many Americans (including Obama-style progressives, but I really don't like to label people, because then we start talking about whether Obama is a Republican-lite, blah, blah), that the last several centuries have brought about an evolution in political values (the arc ...). For example, the fact that the Civil War was won by the Union, and that slavery ended as a direct result of the blood that was shed [obviously backtracking hugely with the end of Reconstruction], that WWI was a first attempt at ending Empire (didn't actually happen obv., and arguably the rise of fascism and totalitarian Communism was also a result) and that WWII conquered European fascism and laid bare the evils of anti-Semitism and racism, resulting (slowly) in more emphatic civil rights efforts ...

    Better is good. We're not always on the trajectory towards better (keep going two steps back, then having to try to catch up with three steps forward), but there's a clear choice in most Western democracies of doing better towards good, and doing worse towards fascism. The people in democratic countries have an easier path than, say, the people in China. The people in America have more political agency, therefore they are more culpable for the wrongs of their government.

    Honestly, starting the clock somewhere should show some evolution towards a more humane perspective. Europeans conquered the Americas. During that time they were drawing and quartering people, and torturing them in dungeons. They improved. ISIS was crucifying people fairly recently. Where we start the clock doesn't matter so much as that wherever we start it, it should show that we're doing better over time.

    The US is not doing consistently better, although thank goodness for November 2020.

    The US is not doing consistently better, although thank goodness for November 2020.

    As you noted, we do a fair amount of 3 steps forward, two steps back. Which is to say, it's a noisy signal. Anybody arguing for trends has to take a baseline at least a couple dozen times the step size in order to avoid confusing noise with signal.

    Step 1: figure out what the (average!)** step size is. My swag would be half a generation; say 10 years.

    ** Always assuming that the steps actually have a length. Maybe they have some kind of size, i.e. how much progress (and how do we put a number on that?)), but nothing like a regular length.

    I really admire those of you who can be anything but snarky about it. Like nous, choosing to make lemonade and actually learn something, even if it's not the lessons McKinney intended.

    As lj notes, McKinney's training is in finding the most persuasive narrative to support the side. Mine is in New Historicism, modern rhetoric, and a bit of anthropology. I tend towards trying to understand and identify the culture and context that creates a particular moment and then work from there to build bridges to our own moment and context.

    I mean, sure, Hitler and his anti-semitism played its role in shaping the German moment of the Holocaust, but so did Schmitt's catholicism and political theology, and Herder's Romanticism. Those roots go deep and they bind together the transition from medieval and renaissance paradigms of nations to enlightenment and modern paradigms of nation states and the ways of understanding one's position within a society change accordingly.

    You can't understand enlightenment (etc.) thinking from a modern mindset. You have to do the work of translation.

    Not to channel Donald (but wish he were here!), I wonder what roots support anti-Palestinian sentiment in Israel.

    People need to resist whatever in their culture leads them to be horrible. That includes me.

    People need to resist whatever in their culture leads them to be horrible.

    I don't want to pick a fight here, but while one possible reading of the Civil War is that slavery was ended at great cost, another reading is that slavery created the opportunity to go to war and after that, industrialization took it the rest of the way, which is perhaps why Reconstruction failed and we went thru another problematic half century, thus allowing Northerners to argue for their moral superiority (and allowed the Lost Cause mythology to take root, which is why you can see confederate flags in places where they really shouldn't be, though I'd argue that they shouldn't be anywhere except in a museum with a detailed explanation, not on the back of someone's pick up truck)
    https://www.wnyc.org/story/how-did-confederate-flag-come-north/

    https://www.chicagotribune.com/nation-world/ct-confederate-flag-pride-racism-patriotism-20181024-story.html

    https://beltmag.com/ohio-confederate-flag-apologists-history/

    Resisting things in our culture means resisting readings of history that may be drawn too sharply, imho.

    Resisting things in our culture means resisting readings of history that may be drawn too sharply, imho.

    Sure. People are complicated. There's an argument to be made that history is an interesting hobby, but maybe doesn't mean much because we each can reject it all and start all over. But that means that we shouldn't complain about when people begin their timeline, right?

    When slavery was going on here (early 18th c), England had atrocious child labor in the textile industry (5 year olds and up) and Ireland had a famine, meaning that lot of people died or had permanently horrible lives at the hands of other people. Not as bad as slavery? Depends on what kid you were maybe. Probably no horrible medical experiments on them and such, and there wasn't a legacy of racial hatred.

    One thing about historical narratives
    (and mythology in general) is that we can buy into a story that inspires us in a direction that helps us to be more humane. Or we can see it all as a horrifying tragedy that will eventually lead to our apocalyptic undoing. Or we can treat it as a series of anecdotes of peculiar people with weird circumstances that we may or may not have to deal with again. Whatever floats boats.

    I was talking today to someone who is horrified at an anti-vaxxer, some family member who she has to deal with. All the atrocities and wars are bad. Man's inhumanity to man - it's all disgusting and can only be explained by ... sociopathology? But's what's to make of these weird ass people who are resisting the science on viruses?

    Shrug. I like to believe inspiring narratives from stuff, but some things resist inspiring stories.

    Oops - meant early 19th c. re industrial revolution, slavery, child labor, famine. So easy to lose track of time.

    I guess it was the lucky kids who got to be powder monkeys on British naval vessels in the Napoleonic era. Never looked to see if the French and Spanish did the same.

    Children not working is a modern and first-world luxury. In other times and other places, it's how people survived.

    I guess it was the lucky kids who got to be powder monkeys on British naval vessels in the Napoleonic era.

    Gawd. Just a quick google tells me that was thing well into the mid-19th century. (Thanks, Priest - had no idea about it.) Life was gruesome back then, and didn't get a whole lot better for awhile. That doesn't in any way excuse or mitigate slavery or the horrifying racism that happened and still exists.

    But better is good. Otherwise, why do we bother to go on?

    Children not working is a modern and first-world luxury. In other times and other places, it's how people survived.

    That's true, CharlesWT, but do you have an opinion about it, other than "spoiled first world children"?

    My opinion (weird to offer it in 2021): It's ugly to exploit children (who are slaves until they can manage independence). Less horrible in a family situation, where they are cared for at the same time as working on a family enterprise from which they benefit. Not great in a factory, where they are purely a commodity.

    This is interesting. Teaching civics? I think we have to believe in the promise of our government to inculcate "civic responsibility". Otherwise, what's the point?

    Even the children working in factories may have made the difference of whether and much they and their families had to eat. No doubt, especially toward the end of the sweatshop period, more than a few children were exploited by business and their families who could have gotten by without their labor.

    Some years ago there was a brouhaha about child labor in plants in Bangladesh producing products sold in the US. The plants got rid of the child labor and some of the children ended up begging on the streets or in the sex trade. If you're going to take away someone's least worse option, you need to be prepared to give them something as good or better.

    In the US, children still work in family businesses and agriculture. I follow a couple of farmers' YouTube channels. During harvest last year, one of the farmers' ten-year-old son was operating half a million dollars worth of equipment. Of course, the tractor had an air-conditioned cab, power steering, and was a lot safer than the tractors I operated as a kid.

    When cotton mills first sprang up in Lowell MA two hundred years ago, the mill owners had a bright idea: let's staff them with farmers' daughters from the surrounding area.

    To persuade the farmers, the capitalists created "The Lowell System": prim, proper boarding houses for the Mill Girls, supervised by respectable matrons to protect their virtue, enforce their piety, and encourage their self-improvement through enlightening lectures.

    It was a noble experiment in what might be called benevolent exploitation. But it didn't last -- although many of the boarding houses, good solid brick buildings, still stand in downtown Lowell.

    It didn't last because even civic-minded capitalists from the finest old aristocratic families of Boston could not resist exploiting cheaper labor. French-speaking immigrants from Canada replaced the Mill Girls, to be replaced in their turn by waves of Irish, Italians, Greeks, and other wretched refuse from some teeming shore -- people willing to live in shanties because nobody was about to demand decent housing, let alone enlightening lectures, for them.

    It seems to me that child labor could be less repugnant, given a bit of human decency among capitalists. But human decency costs money, and as we all know "job creators" never quite have enough money for such frivolities.

    --TP

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