[Updated to send you to where the stuff can actually be found]

by John Holbo on October 1, 2016

UPDATE (March 21, 2021):  looking for the latest On Beyond Zarathustra stuff? It’s here!

[Long story short. I took, the old stuff down because I’m re-launching it. Doing it right this time!]



ezra abrams 10.01.16 at 11:37 pm

sometime ago, you all took a few days out to savage N Kristof of the Times
he may not be perfect, but how many voices at his level are even trying:

maybe you should do some self reflection about why there is such liberal venom toward the Times ?
and, maybe some reflection on how trite and old and tired such venom is , just retreads from the 70s (nam), 60s (civil rights) , 50s (McCarthy) god knows, back to the era of Dos Passos for all i know


John Holbo 10.02.16 at 1:53 am

When did I – or Zarathustra, for that matter – savage N Kristof of the Times (or N Kristof of Space, or any other N Kristof?)

“… back to the era of Dos Passos for all i know”

I did not anticipate in the least that Zarathustra would inspire drive-by Dos Passos crankery.

But thanks for playing, and best of luck to you!


RNB 10.03.16 at 3:51 pm

Nothing to do with Z, but thought that Holbo would find the following excerpts from a leading European political theorist interesting.

“Not everyone who criticizes elites is a populist. In addition to being antielitist, populists are antipluralist. They claim that they and they alone represent the people. All other political competitors are essentially illegitimate, and anyone who does not support them is not properly part of the people. When in opposition, populists will necessarily insist that elites are immoral, whereas the people are a moral, homogeneous entity whose will cannot err.”

Muller, Jan-Werner. What Is Populism? (Kindle Locations 1379-1382). University of Pennsylvania Press. Kindle Edition.

“It can often seem that populists claim to represent the common good as willed by the people. On closer inspection, it turns out that what matters for populists is less the product of a genuine process of will-formation or a common good that anyone with common sense can glean than a symbolic representation of the “real people” from which the correct policy is then deduced. This renders the political position of a populist immune to empirical refutation. Populists can always play off the “real people” or “silent majority” against elected representatives and the official outcome of a vote.”

Muller, Jan-Werner. What Is Populism? (Kindle Locations 1386-1387). University of Pennsylvania Press. Kindle Edition.

‘The major differences between democracy and populism should have become clear by now: one enables majorities to authorize representatives whose actions may or may not turn out to conform to what a majority of citizens expected or would have wished for; the other pretends that no action of a populist government can be questioned, because “the people” have willed it so. The one assumes fallible, contestable judgments by changing majorities; the other imagines a homogeneous entity outside all institutions whose identity and ideas can be fully represented. The one assumes, if anything, a people of individuals, so that in the end only numbers (in elections) count; the other takes for granted a more or less mysterious “substance” and the fact that even large numbers of individuals (even majorities) can fail to express that substance properly. The one presumes that decisions made after democratic procedures have been followed are not “moral” in such a way that all opposition must be considered immoral; the other postulates one properly moral decision even in circumstances of deep disagreement about morality (and policy). Finally— and most importantly— the one takes it that “the people” can never appear in a non institutionalized manner and, in particular, accepts that a majority (and even an “overwhelming majority,” a beloved term of Vladimir Putin) in parliament is not “the people” and cannot speak in the name of the people; the other presumes precisely the opposite.’

Muller, Jan-Werner. What Is Populism? (Kindle Locations 1081-1085). University of Pennsylvania Press. Kindle Edition.


phenomenal cat 10.04.16 at 2:38 am

Well, I have to admit, it would be fun to hear Z give Kristof the what-for. Granted, a bit like fish in a barrel–Kristof certainly has the air of a Last Man (uber alles)–but fun nevertheless.

Godspeed on your reflection, Holbo.


John Holbo 10.04.16 at 2:28 pm

Thank you kindly. My work is so much more that just a blot on a retread of the memory of the works of Dos Passos!

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