Tea Parties and Slime Moulds

by Henry Farrell on September 21, 2010

I’ve been mulling over Jonathan Rauch’s “essay on the Tea Party movement”:http://www.nationaljournal.com/njmagazine/cs_20100911_8855.php for the last few days. It is a really fascinating piece of sociological journalism. And this “post by Brad Plumer”:http://www.tnr.com/blog/jonathan-cohn/77840/can-the-tea-party-be-controlled brought some of the inchoate thoughts swirling around my head into focus.

bq. Jonathan Bernstein touches on an interesting question below: Who, exactly, speaks for the Tea Party movement? Many Tea Partiers would say that no one does. It’s a grassroots movement, decentralized, self-organizing, bottom-up—all that jazz. Apart from Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck, it doesn’t really have any leaders. And yet, there are plenty of groups that would love to channel the Tea Parties’ energy (and rage, let’s not forget rage) for their own purposes. On top of that, the Tea Party movement may need a bit of centralization and coordination to survive and prosper in the future. But all those competing priorities can create an awful lot of tension.
[click to continue…]

Ripstein, Kant and barbarism

by Chris Bertram on September 21, 2010

I’ve just completed Arthur Ripstein’s Force and Freedom, his rather excellent book on Kant’s political philosophy. When I say excellent, I mean that Ripstein is clear, precise and does his best to present Kant in an appealing light. I doubt that a better account of Kant’s views will be published in English. Clarity of exposition, however, has two sides to it. And in me it induced both the belief that this was what Kant believed and a revulsion at the implications of such a system. I detected rather more affection in Ripstein’s own response, in fact, I rather get the impression that he believes that something close to Kant’s views are true.[fn1] I, by contrast, have had my respect for Rousseau, Hume, Hegel, Marx, Mill and Nietzsche enhanced, especially insofar as they are all prepared to pay at least _some_ attention to welfare, anthropology, and psychology – all of which Kant (officially) disdains in favour of the sparse metaphysics of freedom-as-non-domination.
[click to continue…]