Hobbes against blogging

by Chris Bertram on January 9, 2005

A rather interesting paper by Richard Tuck at the OPT conference on Hobbes and Rousseau contained a longish quote from “De Cive”:http://www.constitution.org/th/decive10.htm (10.9) about the inconveniences of democracy. At the time it seemed to me to contain wise advice about the downsides of blogging, and on chasing it up, that view is reinforced:

bq. But perhaps for this very reason some will say, That a Popular State is much to be preferr’d before a Monarchicall; because that, where all men have a hand in publique businesses, there all have an opportunity to shew their wisedome, knowledge, and eloquence, in deliberating matters of the greatest difficulty and moment; which by reason of that desire of praise which is bred in humane nature, is to them who excell in such like faculties, and seeme to themselves to exceed others, the most delightfull of all things. But in a Monarchy, this same way to obtain praise, and honour, is shut up to the greatest part of Subjects; and what is a grievance, if this be none? Ile tell you: To see his opinion whom we scorne, preferr’d before ours; to have our wisedome undervalued before our own faces; by an uncertain tryall of a little vaine glory, to undergoe most certaine enmities (for this cannot be avoided, whether we have the better, or the worse); to hate, and to be hated, by reason of the disagreement of opinions; to lay open our secret Counsells, and advises to all, to no purpose, and without any benefit; to neglect the affaires of our own Family: These, I say, are grievances. But to be absent from a triall of wits, although those trialls are pleasant to the Eloquent, is not therefore a grievance to them, unlesse we will say, that it is a grievance to valiant men to be restrained from fighting, because they delight in it.


by John Holbo on January 9, 2005

Hey, I’m nominated for a Koufax for Best Writing! Since I’m competing against, among others, Crooked Timber, this is a little awkward. But keep in mind that when people say Size Matters, what they mostly mean is that Grotesque Length matters. (How much post you’ve got tucked under the fold. I hope I don’t have to draw you a map.) Vote Holbo.

I’m too much like that Chris Klein character to vote for myself, however. I think I’m voting for Yglesias. I think I learn more from him on a regular basis than from any other blogger. Of course, his posts are drafty and full of typos, so it depends what you mean by ‘best writing’. I figure James Wolcott is going to trounce us all anyway.

Around and about

by Chris Bertram on January 9, 2005

I’m just back from the Oxford Political Thought Conference, which was great fun. On my trip I managed to run into Chris Brooke of “The Virtual Stoa”:http://users.ox.ac.uk/~magd1368/weblog/blogger.html , Marc Mulholland of “Daily Moiders”:http://marcmulholland.tripod.com/histor/ and Sarah of “Just Another False Alarm”:http://rubberring.blogspot.com/ . I’ve met Chris before, but it was good to see the others as well and to compare blogospheric notes with Marc. Chris told me about “the fuss about the BBC’s broadcast”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/4154071.stm of “Jerry Springer: The Opera”:http://www.jerryspringertheopera.com/jerry_opera.html . So of course I tuned in to this spendid TM production last night and greatly enjoyed such numbers as “Chick with a Dick” and “Mama Gimmee Smack on the A**hole”, before wowing to the Jerry in Hell special program complete with Jesus, God and the Virgin Mary. The microslice of the blogosphere that both hates the BBC _and_ was in a great lather of indignation over the British government’s incitement to religious hatred legislation (Melanie Phillips and co) is going to have a problem over this one. Here’s how I expect them to handle it: (a) they’ll argue that it exemplfies the double standards of a decadent culture (everyone is careful not to offend Muslims and Sikhs but Christians can be trashed with impunity) and (b) they’ll say that whilst _of course_ there should be no legal interference with speech, the BBC _is an exception_ , since, funded by licence-payers, it had an obligation not to transmit JSTO. Just my prediction, now let’s wait and see…

Sociology in Cafe Society

by Kieran Healy on January 9, 2005

Just before Christmas, a new cafe opened up outside the main gates of the “University of Arizona”:http://www.arizona.edu/. The coffee is good and it’s a shorter walk than the alternatives. The people are friendly, too. One of my colleagues was chatting with the owner, Danny, last week — he’s often behind the bar serving customers. Danny asked whether my friend taught at the university, and then in what department. “Sociology,” my friend said, which is usually enough to move the conversation to some other topic. But instead Danny said “Oh, my uncle was a sociologist — he was pretty well known in Europe years ago, but you’ve probably never heard of him. “What was his name?” asked my friend. “Oh, Mannheim,” says the owner. “Karl Mannheim?!” says my friend. “Wow, you know his first name!” says Danny. Small world. Sociologists know that already, but the point of that insight is precisely that you don’t know about every case. There are probably other connections of this sort in my acquaintance network that I’m completely unaware of. Yours, too.