Department of the Bleeding Obvious

by Daniel on February 25, 2004

Via the Volokh lads, news that those tiresome Internet purveyors of laboured satire at Adbusters have made the startling discovery that, in general, Jews are more likely to have strong opinions about Israel than, say, Norwegians. Oy gevalt, as they say up the road from me in Golders Green, who’d have thought it. Christ knows what may happen next week when they spot the connection between the Northern Irish republican cause and the Church of Rome. Jesus.

Actually, what might be a lot more use than Adbusters’ idea would be a list of American pundits who aren’t Jews and have never set foot in Israel, but nevertheless think that they’re qualified to act as spokespeople for the Zionist cause worldwide. (Or for that matter, people who haven’t visited Europe since student days but still regard themselves as experts on trends in anti-Semitism there). I can think of a few names off the top of my head, and I daresay CT commenters can think of others …

On not having a PhD

by Chris Bertram on February 25, 2004

bq. “Goddammit, Morris, what are we going to do with this guy Swallow? He claims he ain’t _got_ a field.” Morris has recommended putting Philip down to teach English 99, a routine introduction to the literary genres and critical method for English majors, and English 305, a course in novel-writing. As Euphoric State’s resident novelist, Garth Robinson, was in fact very rarely resident, orbiting the University in an almost unbroken cycle of grants, fellowships, leaves of absence and alcoholic cures, the teaching of English 305 usually fell to some unwilling and unqualified member of the regular teaching staff. As Morris said, “If he makes a fuck-up of English 305, nobody’s going to notice. And any clown with a PhD should be able to teach English 99.”
“He doesn’t have a PhD, ” Hogan said.
“They have a different system in England, Morris. The PhD isn’t so important.”
“You mean the jobs are hereditary?”

I quote this passage from David Lodge’s “Changing Places”: in reaction to reading some of “the comments about Simon Schama”: over at Invisible Adjunct. As is happens, I don’t have a PhD either, and nor do several prominent British philosophers of my generation (such as UCL’s Jo Wolff, a contemporary of mine on the M.Phil at UCL in the early 80s). In the previous generation hardly anyone did the PhD or DPhil, most people got appointed after doing the Oxford B.Phil or the London M.Phil or something similar (these are both two-year postgraduate degrees involving a combination of examination and dissertation).

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Out of the mouths of babes …

by Henry on February 25, 2004

bq. Greenspan Urges Congress to Reign in Deficit

Says the “NYT”: (though I’m sure the typo won’t last long).

With great power comes a little responsibility. As guest timberwossname, I inform you the best lit/film/culture online journal is Pseudopodium – formerly, Bellona Times. I wandered in one night by accident, while making my drunken way home. Well, it felt more like I fell through the roof, as Indiana Jones might find himself suddenly amongst the treasures of an ancient temple. For, you see, it’s one of those serially updated personal sites/online journals that goes back so far that it’s … older than blogging. Damn, you think, running a fingertrack through the dusty HTML. Place is old. 1999; 1997, even. Crap, some of this stuff was written in 1990. Frankly, it spooked me how good – smart and winning and heartfelt and erudite. Hazlitt and Howard Hawks, Nicholas Ray and Ruskin. I felt about uncertainly in this marvelous terrain, then with increasing delight; finally I was cramming my pockets with treasure to call my own ever after. I have returned regularly and very lately entered into edifying correspondence with its ten-times admirable demiurge, Ray Davis.

Now go and don’t come back until you have read for an hour. I could tell you which are my favorites, but I want you to have your own, that you found yourself.

Here’s the song that gave my title. Hope Ray doesn’t mind me provoking you all to strain his bandwidth.

UPDATE: Just to explain the joke, the connection between the two is, via the world, ‘with a kick to it’.

…the gnawing of the mice

by Chris Bertram on February 25, 2004

I’ve been rereading parts of the “German Ideology”: , the text where Marx and Engels really start to get historical materialism straightened out. And very fine and interesting it is too. But my purpose in this post isn’t to discuss the content of a work which Marx and Engels did not publish but “abandoned … to the gnawing criticism of the mice”, but to reproduce (below the fold for bandwidth reasons) a page of the original MS which appears in facsimile in volume 5 of the MECW. What readers get, thanks to the intervention of subsequent editors, as a piece of elegant if vituperative prose, appears in the original in the form of a half-crossed out scrawl . The scrawl only occupied about half the page, the rest of which is filled with jottings, notes and many many doodled heads (probably by Engels). Other facsmile pages are in an even worse condition with great chunks consumed by the rodents. [I now discover that the page I’ve photographed and a few others besides are on the “”: website anyway, never mind ….]

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Four more years?

by John Quiggin on February 25, 2004

The announcement that Ralph Nader will again run for the Presidency raises the (almost) unaskable question -are there any circumstances under which we should hope for, promote, or even passively assist, the re-election of George W. Bush as against either of the remaining Democrat contenders? I feel nervous even raising this question, but I think it’s worth a hard and dispassionate look.

Regardless of their political persuasion, most people will agree, at least in retrospect, that it would have been better for their own side (defined either in ideological or in party terms) to have lost some of the elections they won. Most obviously, this was the case for the US Republican Party in 1928. Hoover’s victory, and his inability to cope with the Depression, paved the way for four successive victories for FDR and two generations of Democratic and liberal hegemony, which didn’t finally come to an end until the Reagan revolution in 1980. The same was true on the other side of poltiics in Australia and the UK, where Labour governments were elected just before the Depression, split over measures of retrenchment demanded by the maxims of orthodox finance and sat out the 1930s in Opposition, watching their own former leaders implement the disastrous policies they had rejected, but had been unable to counter.

p. So, is 2004 one of those occasions? The case that it is rests primarily on arguments about fiscal policy. Bush’s policies have set the United States on a path to national bankruptcy, a fact that is likely to become apparent some time between now and 2008. Assuming that actual or effective bankruptcy (repudiation of debt or deliberate resort to inflation) is unthinkable, this is going to entail some painful decisions for the next President and Congress, almost certainly involving both increases in taxation and cuts in expenditure. On the expenditure side, this will mean a lot more than the obvious targets of corporate welfare and FDW[1]. Either significant cuts in the big entitlement programs (Social Security and Medicare) or deep cuts in everything else the government does will be needed, even with substantial increases in taxes (to see the nasty arithmetic read these CBO projections, and replace the baseline with the more realistic *Policy Alternatives Not Included in CBO’s Baseline*)

fn1. Fraud, Duplication and Waste

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