Cooley on Nexon/Wright on Empires.

by Henry on June 11, 2007

I’ve been planning to write up something on Dan Nexon and Tom Wright’s _APSR_ piece on the politics of empires, which I think is a really important piece of work in international relations theory but haven’t gotten around to it yet (other promised reviews to finish first – next up Scott Page’s new book). Luckily, Alex Cooley has “done it for me”:http://3quarksdaily.blogs.com/3quarksdaily/2007/06/america_and_emp.html. The original article is available as a PDF “here”:http://homepage.mac.com/mgemmill/Nexon_Wright_Empire.pdf.

Last year, the Chronicle organized a “conversation”:http://chronicle.com/free/v53/i16/16a00801.htm between Michael Bérubé, who’s now my co-blogger, and David Horowitz. I enjoyed the conversation greatly, not least because Bérubé had the better of it; Horowitz had considerable difficulty in keeping up with Bérubé, who clearly didn’t take him at all seriously. But this provoked a debate in the comments section here at CT, with some commenters, including “Harry”:https://crookedtimber.org/2006/12/05/horowitz-v-berube/#comment-181414, suggesting that Bérubé should have engaged seriously with Horowitz rather than poking fun at him. I didn’t and don’t agree – I think that poking fun at Horowitz is _exactly the right thing_ to do. But I recognize that it’s necessary to make arguments as to why this is possibly so. Small-l liberal academics – that is, academics who are committed to certain standards of diversity and plurality as a basis for academic argument – have an obligation to engage in reasoned debate with people that they profoundly disagree with, or at the very least to recognize that these people not only have a right to participate in argument, but very likely have something of value to contribute to it.

So why shouldn’t we engage in serious argument with people like David Horowitz? After all, he seems (some of the time) to be inviting us to? In this overly long blogpost, or overly short essay, I want to argue that this question is important to understanding Bérubé’s recent book, _What’s Liberal about the Liberal Arts?: Classroom Politics and Bias in Higher Education_. (“Powells”:http://www.powells.com/partner/29956/s?kw=Berube%20liberal%20arts, “Amazon”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FWhats-Liberal-About-Arts-Classroom%2Fdp%2F0393060373%3Fie%3DUTF8%26s%3Dbooks%26qid%3D1181579041%26sr%3D8-1&tag=henryfarrell-20&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325). I also want to argue on behalf of a possible answer to this question, which I draw from Max Weber’s idiosyncratic and agonistic version of liberalism. The short version: I think that we need not only to distinguish (as Bérubé does) between substantive liberalism and procedural liberalisms, but between different procedural liberalisms that are appropriate to different contexts. I suspect (although I’m not entirely sure) that there’s a proto-argument along these lines buried in Bérubé’s book – and I think that Max Weber’s essays on Politics as a Vocation and Science as a Vocation help to draw it out. This said, my thinking on this is still a bit in flux (i.e. good tough criticisms are greatly appreciated).

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Blogging Gets Results!

by John Holbo on June 11, 2007

Example: Scott Kaufman contributes, in civil fashion, to a thread at Jesus’ General – and as a result, he is defamed to his entire local academic community as a white supremacist! One of the General’s commenters – Ghost of Adolph Rupp, a.k.a. ‘John Casper’ – took it upon himself to email a bunch of people at UC Irvine (Scott’s department head, dean, various politicians across the whole state, I gather) as a generous public service.

Scott K. is innocent as charged. But that isn’t to say these allegations can’t be career-threatening, eh? (Stay classy, John Casper!)

You can read about the whole sordid saga at Scott’s blog – starting here. (A post explaining the fight that caused the fight that caused this problem.) The latest development, depressing but relatively inconsequential compared to the defamatory emails, is that Patriotboy (Jesus’ General) ain’t exactly coming up heaped in glory. Go read, if you care to. I guess the main post, reporting the first wave of emails accusing Scott of ‘refined white supremacy’, is here.

So Scott’s life is officially a mess. So if you are a friend, drop a comment, extend him your support and best wishes that an idiot hasn’t managed to wreck his career in vile and irresponsible fashion. I have the flu and am going straight to bed, probably will not be contributing to any discussion for the next 14 hours or so. So no fighting, if you please.