Older than we thought: ‘The Crisis of the Humanities’

Inquiry

This is the sort of article that seems too easy to interpret to support one’s own prejudices. Indeed, the authors cite important examples of how Max Weber’s work was misinterpreted to support scholars’ own prejudices. But if I understand correctly, Weber sought to elevate inquiry itself as a calling.[1] Then again, it’s much too easy to misinterpret. I think I want the book anyway.

Paul Reitter and Chad Wellmon, “Max Weber Invented the Crisis of the Humanities,” Chronicle of Higher Education, February 6, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/interactives/20200206-MaxWeber


Authoritarianism

George Monbiot’s use of the word fascism is neither entirely consistent nor entirely inconsistent with my own.

Monbiot is writing about authoritarianism—and this is the term he prefers—but considers it a root of fascism. In this work,[2] he does not recognize the cycle I consider essential to fascism, that being where violence, whether structural or physical, is deployed as a means of building popular support, even as I think the regimes he points to indeed do just that.[3] At the same time, in seeking to distinguish authoritarianism from fascism, he repeats the much-more-often-than-not seen error of failing to offer a definition for the latter.[4]

Still, his essay is important in documenting a pattern of right wing authoritarianism—I mean to distinguish this from authoritarian populism if only because I have not satisfied myself that this is indeed the same phenomenon—around the world.[5] My own work has concentrated on the United States but I have seen what looks a lot like authoritarian populism certainly in Britain, where I’ve argued it originated, with Brexit, and I have seen neoliberalism, the so-called “Washington Consensus,” as having been imposed throughout the world by way of institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. I need to at least begin considering how my seven tendencies of conservatism[6] may indeed have global applicability.

George Monbiot, “The Roots of Fascism,” February 11, 2020, https://www.monbiot.com/2020/02/11/the-roots-of-fascism/


  1. [1]Paul Reitter and Chad Wellmon, “Max Weber Invented the Crisis of the Humanities,” Chronicle of Higher Education, February 6, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/interactives/20200206-MaxWeber
  2. [2]George Monbiot, “The Roots of Fascism,” February 11, 2020, https://www.monbiot.com/2020/02/11/the-roots-of-fascism/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “A simple definition of fascism,” Not Housebroken, July 6, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/06/a-simple-definition-of-fascism/
  4. [4]George Monbiot, “The Roots of Fascism,” February 11, 2020, https://www.monbiot.com/2020/02/11/the-roots-of-fascism/
  5. [5]George Monbiot, “The Roots of Fascism,” February 11, 2020, https://www.monbiot.com/2020/02/11/the-roots-of-fascism/
  6. [6]David Benfell, “The seven tendencies of conservatism,” Irregular Bullshit, n.d., https://disunitedstates.com/the-seven-tendencies-of-conservatism/

Jeremy Corbyn has a plan.

Brexit

Jeremy Corbyn has a plan. It’s not clear that it will work. It would likely go to court. But he has a plan.[1]

Al Jazeera, “UK’s Labour vows to oust Johnson, delay Brexit and call election,” August 14, 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/08/uk-labour-vows-oust-johnson-delay-brexit-call-election-190814163557439.html

Camilla Tominey, “Jeremy Corbyn writes to MPs in bid to oust Boris Johnson over Brexit,” Telegraph, August 14, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/08/14/jeremy-corbyn-writes-mps-say-make-pm-stop-no-deal-brexit-cross/


My old high school

There is a new blog post entitled, “A non-conformist mural and a non-conformist kid: Why the mural still must be covered up.

Carol Pogash, “San Francisco School Board Votes to Hide, but Not Destroy, Disputed Murals,” New York Times, August 14, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/14/arts/san-francisco-murals-george-washington.html


Recession

Pretty much[2] as I said yesterday.[3] To me, and I don’t think this is quite true, it’s as if the numbers are following the psychology. It might be that reporting on the numbers[4] follows the psychology, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.[5]

Josh Mitchell and Jon Hilsenrath, “Warning Signs Point to a Global Slowdown,” Wall Street Journal, August 14, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/warning-signs-point-to-a-global-slowdown-11565814494

David Scutt, “The ‘doom loop’ that could bring on a global recession,” Sydney Morning Herald, August 15, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/markets/the-doom-loop-could-bring-on-a-global-recession-20190815-p52h9v.html


Jeffrey Epstein

There is another new blog entry entitled, “Wait, what? Jeffrey Epstein strangled? Probably not. Only probably.

Carol D. Leonnig and Aaron C. Davis, “Autopsy finds broken bones in Jeffrey Epstein’s neck, deepening questions around his death,” Washington Post, August 15, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/autopsy-finds-broken-bones-in-jeffrey-epsteins-neck-deepening-questions-around-his-death/2019/08/14/d09ac934-bdd9-11e9-b873-63ace636af08_story.html


Migration

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that it took so long for this ruling to come out. This is the case in which a Department of Justice lawyer was trying to argue that enumerated items, that is, “adequate food, water, bedding, toothbrushes and soap,”[6] amounted to a modification of the Flores agreement requiring safe and sanitary conditions for detained migrant children. It was not a persuasive argument, but it was apparently the only way the government even could appeal, and it was pretty clear that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals would do[7] just what it did today,[8] upholding Judge Dolly Gee’s order for an rapid improvement in conditions. The government was whining that it couldn’t comply given a surge of migrants[9] and no doubt, the Trump administration will try to find a way to appeal this ruling nonetheless.

Maura Dolan, “Court upholds ruling that children held at border must have adequate food, bedding, sanitation,” Los Angeles Times, August 15, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-08-15/children-border-sanitary-conditions-flores-agreement-9th-circuit


  1. [1]Al Jazeera, “UK’s Labour vows to oust Johnson, delay Brexit and call election,” August 14, 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/08/uk-labour-vows-oust-johnson-delay-brexit-call-election-190814163557439.html; Camilla Tominey, “Jeremy Corbyn writes to MPs in bid to oust Boris Johnson over Brexit,” Telegraph, August 14, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/08/14/jeremy-corbyn-writes-mps-say-make-pm-stop-no-deal-brexit-cross/
  2. [2]David Scutt, “The ‘doom loop’ that could bring on a global recession,” Sydney Morning Herald, August 15, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/markets/the-doom-loop-could-bring-on-a-global-recession-20190815-p52h9v.html
  3. [3]David Benfell, “As a possible or probable recession looms, neoliberalism evades challenge. Yet again,” Not Housebroken, August 14, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/14/as-a-possible-or-probable-recession-looms-neoliberalism-evades-challenge-yet-again/
  4. [4]Josh Mitchell and Jon Hilsenrath, “Warning Signs Point to a Global Slowdown,” Wall Street Journal, August 14, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/warning-signs-point-to-a-global-slowdown-11565814494
  5. [5]David Scutt, “The ‘doom loop’ that could bring on a global recession,” Sydney Morning Herald, August 15, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/markets/the-doom-loop-could-bring-on-a-global-recession-20190815-p52h9v.html
  6. [6]Maura Dolan, “Court upholds ruling that children held at border must have adequate food, bedding, sanitation,” Los Angeles Times, August 15, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-08-15/children-border-sanitary-conditions-flores-agreement-9th-circuit
  7. [7]Ken White, “Why a Government Lawyer Argued Against Giving Immigrant Kids Toothbrushes,” Atlantic, June 23, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/06/why-sarah-fabian-argued-against-giving-kids-toothbrushes/592366/
  8. [8]Maura Dolan, “Court upholds ruling that children held at border must have adequate food, bedding, sanitation,” Los Angeles Times, August 15, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-08-15/children-border-sanitary-conditions-flores-agreement-9th-circuit
  9. [9]Miriam Jordan, “Judge Orders Swift Action to Improve Conditions for Migrant Children in Texas,” New York Times, June 29, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/29/us/migrant-children-detention-texas.html

Owned

Migration

There is a new blog post entitled, “Owning the libtards.”

Analysts say the public charge change [announced August 12] could dramatically reduce family-based legal immigration to the United States, particularly from Latin America and Africa, where incomes are generally lower than the rest of the world. It also could lead to an increase in deportations, as those present with some form of provisional or temporary immigration status in the United States are denied legal residency.[1]

Abigail Hauslohner et al., “Trump officials move to deny green cards, path to citizenship for poor immigrants,” Washington Post, August 12, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/trump-administration-aims-to-make-citizenship-more-difficult-for-immigrants-who-rely-on-public-assistance/2019/08/12/fe3f8162-b565-11e9-8949-5f36ff92706e_story.html

Public Broadcasting System, “Trump administration issues rules to deny green cards for immigrants on food stamps,” August 12, 2019, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/new-rules-can-deny-green-cards-for-immigrants-on-food-stamps?fbclid=IwAR3ucMIKGcFP9nPmwyvnfib6SfsYY4zV0H-KFvoAEwaiOmgPkHbcLHJ5aOU

Devan Cole, “Cuccinelli rewrites Statue of Liberty poem to make case for limiting immigration,” CNN, August 13, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/13/politics/ken-cuccinelli-statue-of-liberty/index.html


Pittsburgh

Beaver County is getting a Royal Dutch Shell ethylene cracker plant. Because U.S. Steel’s pollution isn’t enough already.[2] And Donald Trump was here to celebrate claim credit for the plant which was announced in 2012.[3]

Do I need to say it? I mean, I get it. It’s been a long, long two and a half years. But Trump was inaugurated in 2017, five years after the plant was announced.[4]

Eric Heyl, “Trump Takes Credit For Plant Announced 5 Years Before Presidency,” Patch, August 13, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/gt5wi/trump-takes-credit-for-plant-announced-5-years-before-presidency

Eric Heyl, “Trump To Tour Shell Cracker Plant, Protesters Anticipated,” Patch, August 13, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/gt595/trump-to-tour-shell-cracker-plant-protesters-anticipated


Military

William Astore[5] inspired me to resurrect and update my adaptation of The History Guy’s “American Military History.”[6] My adaptation is in spreadsheet form and is intended to expose the number of calendar years without some sort of U.S. war. The total number remains sixteen; the longest interregnum remains eight. A limitation is that the History Guy uses 1890 as an ending date for the American Indian Wars;[7] some would dispute this. We have been in a continuous state of war (this includes the Cold War from 1945 through 1991) since 1941. The spreadsheet is now available via Google Sheets so I think anyone with a modern web browser (certainly Google Chrome) should be able to view it.

William J. Astore, “In Wars and Weapons We Trust: America’s Militarized Profession of Faith,” TomDispatch, August 13, 2019, http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176596/tomgram%3A_william_astore%2C_military_strength_is_our_national_religion/


My old high school

Carol Pogash, “San Francisco School Board May Save Controversial George Washington Mural,” New York Times, August 10, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/10/arts/san-francisco-murals.html


Jeffrey Epstein

As predicted,[8] heads are rolling at the Metropolitan Correctional Center,[9] presumably making the understaffing problem[10] there worse.

David Shortell, “Warden at prison where Epstein died is temporarily reassigned and staffers placed on leave,” CNN, August 13, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/13/politics/epstein-mcc-warden/index.html


Palestine

You didn’t really think Israel wants a two-state solution, did you? Apparently some U.S. lawmakers made that mistake when they authored and passed an anti-BDS (Boycott, Diversity and Sanction) bill.[11]

Gil Hoffman, “Israeli MKs to Congress: Thanks, but BDS bill ‘dangerous for
Israel,’” Jerusalem Post, August 12, 2019, https://www.jpost.com/American-Politics/Israeli-MKs-to-Congress-Thanks-but-BDS-bill-dangerous-for-Israel-598392

Michael Arria, “Israeli lawmakers to Congress: two-state solution far more dangerous to Israel than BDS,” Mondoweiss, August 13, 2019, https://mondoweiss.net/2019/08/lawmakers-congress-dangerous/


  1. [1]Abigail Hauslohner et al., “Trump officials move to deny green cards, path to citizenship for poor immigrants,” Washington Post, August 12, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/trump-administration-aims-to-make-citizenship-more-difficult-for-immigrants-who-rely-on-public-assistance/2019/08/12/fe3f8162-b565-11e9-8949-5f36ff92706e_story.html
  2. [2]Jessi Quinn Alperin, “Clairton, PA, wants to be clear: Residents demand accountability from U.S. Steel,” Environmental Health Network, May 13, 2019, https://www.ehn.org/clairton-coke-works-air-pollution-2636784943.html; Eric Heyl, “Trump To Tour Shell Cracker Plant, Protesters Anticipated,” Patch, August 13, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/gt595/trump-to-tour-shell-cracker-plant-protesters-anticipated; Kris Maher, “Pittsburgh Breathes Easier After Repairs at U.S. Steel Coke Plant,” Wall Street Journal, May 26, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pittsburgh-breathes-easier-after-repairs-at-u-s-steel-coke-plant-11558872000; Kris Maher, “U.S. Steel Suffers New Fire Knocking Out Pollution Controls in Plant Near Pittsburgh,” Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-steel-suffers-new-fire-knocking-out-pollution-controls-in-plant-near-pittsburgh-11560795102
  3. [3]Eric Heyl, “Trump Takes Credit For Plant Announced 5 Years Before Presidency,” Patch, August 13, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/gt5wi/trump-takes-credit-for-plant-announced-5-years-before-presidency; Eric Heyl, “Trump To Tour Shell Cracker Plant, Protesters Anticipated,” Patch, August 13, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/gt595/trump-to-tour-shell-cracker-plant-protesters-anticipated
  4. [4]Eric Heyl, “Trump Takes Credit For Plant Announced 5 Years Before Presidency,” Patch, August 13, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/gt5wi/trump-takes-credit-for-plant-announced-5-years-before-presidency
  5. [5]William J. Astore, “In Wars and Weapons We Trust: America’s Militarized Profession of Faith,” TomDispatch, August 13, 2019, http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176596/tomgram%3A_william_astore%2C_military_strength_is_our_national_religion/
  6. [6]The History Guy, “American Military History,” 2017, https://www.historyguy.com/american_military_history.html
  7. [7]The History Guy, “American Military History,” 2017, https://www.historyguy.com/american_military_history.html
  8. [8]David Benfell, “Jeffrey Epstein almost certainly committed suicide. Not that that will quiet the conspiracy clowns,” Irregular Bullshit, August 12, 2019, https://disunitedstates.com/2019/08/12/jeffrey-epstein-almost-certainly-committed-suicide-not-that-that-will-quiet-the-conspiracy-clowns/
  9. [9]David Shortell, “Warden at prison where Epstein died is temporarily reassigned and staffers placed on leave,” CNN, August 13, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/13/politics/epstein-mcc-warden/index.html
  10. [10]Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, “Corrections officers did not check on Epstein for ‘several’ hours before his death, violating protocol, person familiar with case says,” Washington Post, August 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/it-was-inevitable-officers-watching-epstein-were-on-overtime-due-to-jail-staffing-shortage-union-president-says/2019/08/11/2b611404-bc5e-11e9-a5c6-1e74f7ec4a93_story.html
  11. [11]Michael Arria, “Israeli lawmakers to Congress: two-state solution far more dangerous to Israel than BDS,” Mondoweiss, August 13, 2019, https://mondoweiss.net/2019/08/lawmakers-congress-dangerous/; Gil Hoffman, “Israeli MKs to Congress: Thanks, but BDS bill ‘dangerous for
    Israel,’” Jerusalem Post, August 12, 2019, https://www.jpost.com/American-Politics/Israeli-MKs-to-Congress-Thanks-but-BDS-bill-dangerous-for-Israel-598392
It’s a cover-up! (Of a mural at my old high school.)

It’s a cover-up! (Of a mural at my old high school.)

George Washington High School

When I attended junior high and high school in San Francisco, Presidio Junior High covered grades seven through nine (yes, really!) and Washington High covered grades ten through twelve. I took California’s proficiency examination toward the end of the eleventh grade, passed, and moved with my mother to Sacramento, where I started that fall at Sacramento City College (I attended there one semester, then transferred to American River College, which seemed to have a better data processing program).

So I only attended George Washington High School for two years. But I believe I recognize the stairwell. The photographer’s vantage point (figure 1) appears to me to be beneath the principal’s office. As I recall, at least when I attended, students were forbidden from using this entrance. I didn’t know why, but I assumed it was to remind us that we were second-class citizens directed to side or rear entrances and barred from the main one. As I was being compelled to attend a place I absolutely despised, and as this was one of several schools where I was not protected from physical bullying, I had little reason to believe otherwise.
mural frs letters
Fig. 1. Image credited to Jim Wilson of the New York Times, April 9, 2019, via the Sacramento Bee, July 20, 2019, described as the lobby of George Washington High School. As I remember it, there was no such thing, certainly where this photograph was taken. It was just stairs. Fair use.[1]

I think it was in junior high, not in high school, where atrocities against American Indians were mentioned so briefly in passing that I was afraid to question them. So it’s a bit hard to imagine that even though this was a different school (albeit kitty-korner from the junior high), that we were forbidden from using that entrance out of sensitivity to Blacks or American Indians.

Karin Klein certainly raises that question with her argument in favor of covering over that mural (or series of murals).[2]

Her argument is interesting but I am deeply skeptical of her interpretation of the artwork:

What makes the mural even more sympathetic to anti-censorship advocates is its message, which was progressive, and even daring, for its time. Created by a communist Russian-American artist,Victor Arnautoff, as one of the artistic works sponsored by the New Deal, it gives an unflattering image of George Washington as a slave owner and shows white colonists stepping over the dead body of a Native American.

The wording has been heated on both sides – no surprise these days. A committee convened to examine the issue claimed that the mural glorified slavery, genocide and oppression. Did they even look at it? Do they know what glorifying means? The artwork is a clear statement to the opposite.[3]

I think that if Klein is correct in her interpretation, and I certainly see her logic, then Victor Arnautoff really pulled a fast one on the authorities at that time. It is inconceivable to me that they would have been sympathetic to such a portrayal, let alone allowed its placement where it might influence young minds.

Karin Klein, “At first, it looked like censorship. But covering up controversial mural makes sense,” Sacramento Bee, July 20, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/california-forum/article232846267.html


  1. [1]Karin Klein, “At first, it looked like censorship. But covering up controversial mural makes sense,” Sacramento Bee, July 20, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/california-forum/article232846267.html
  2. [2]Karin Klein, “At first, it looked like censorship. But covering up controversial mural makes sense,” Sacramento Bee, July 20, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/california-forum/article232846267.html
  3. [3]Karin Klein, “At first, it looked like censorship. But covering up controversial mural makes sense,” Sacramento Bee, July 20, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/california-forum/article232846267.html