by Chris Bertram on January 10, 2004

I’m just back from the Oxford Political Thought Conference — and great fun it was too. One of the things I managed to do in Oxford was to meet up with Chris Brooke of the “Virtual Stoa”: in his palatial college rooms. Just over a year ago Chris and about the board games: me about “playing Monopoly in the old GDR”: and “he about”: Bertell Ollman’s game “Class Struggle”: . I was fortunate enough to find myself sitting next to Professor Ollman at lunch today and asked him about the game, and one of the things he told me was the Monopoly itself was originally conceived as an _anti-capitalist_ game by a follower of Henry George. The story of the game’s invention and its subsequent appropriation by Parker Brothers is “here”: (scroll down to list of articles) and “here”: .

France and the Jews

by Chris Bertram on January 10, 2004

Norman Geras has “a post on anti-semitism in France”: which documents some awful recent attacks on Jews. But he then goes on to cite another article by Serge Klarsfeld which alleges that France has been a “consistent adversary of the Jewish nation” and cites a 1789 speech to the National Assembly by Clermont-Tonnerre, one of the deputies. I was curious about this and googled for it, and “the whole speech is available on-line”: . The speech actually concerns the various groups who were excluded from various legal rights before the revolution, including members of “questionable professions” (such as actors and executioners) and religious minorities including Protestants and Jews. Clermont-Tonnerre is arguing for the extension of legal rights to all citizens, regardless of their religious opinion, and that no-one should have a special and distinct legal status because of the religious or ethnic identity: all individuals should be equal as citizens before the law. He attacks the idea that the Jews should be allowed to have their own judges and to exact their own punishments on lawbreakers. But it is clear that the point he is making is the same as a liberal would make now if it were proposed that Muslims should be allowed to establish Sharia courts with the power to enact punishments within France or Britain today. Maybe there is an argument supporting the thesis of a persistent anti-Jewish bias by the French state since the revolution, but the broadly liberal sentiments expressed by Clermont-Tonnerre in the National Assembly are no evidence for this.

I can’t tell how far this story has got out of Wisconsin, but it is pretty amusing. Bishop Burke of La Crosse has issued a statement denying communion to legislators who vote pro-choice. You can imagine that quasi-Catholic legislators are annoyed, and so are their Democratic colleagues. There’s been lots of nonsense on the radio about the threat to separation of church and state, revealing that people really don’t understand the point of separation, which is to protect religious believers from discrimination by the state and other faiths, not to protect them from their own church (we have laws against murder, etc, to do that). The legislators are free to leave the church if they disagree with it, or if they want to take a job which requires them to act against its policies. Burke is simply illuminating the reality of the choice. Good luck to him.

Blogging as Scholarship

by Brian on January 10, 2004

Brian Leiter has two interesting posts up (one two) on the question of whether academics should be able to claim scholarly credit for blogging. It is fairly clear that good blogging should count as service. Indeed in all my recent self-promoting activities I’ve been plugging my work on various blogs as a service both to the public and the profession. But whether this counts as scholarly work is a tougher question.

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