Skip to main content


Showing posts from June 5, 2005

nine American soldiers dead since Tuesday

I read an old column of Alexander Cockburn’s yesterday, from 1999. The substance of the column was that the left in the U.S. was a joke, led by phonies like Jesse Jackson and Michael Moore, and the only progressive political energy was, bizarrely, on the right, where there was a healthy hatred of the government. Now, as is the case with many Cockburn columns, this was too clever by half. But lopping off the too clever half, he had a point – the only people who were truly, actively against U.S. intervention in Kosovo were rightwingers like Jack Kemp. Given that politics is mostly positioning, that opposition to war has melted on the right with the Republicans in power. But I do think it could come back. In fact, I think it has, among the grassroots. Save for those who are swayed by the logic of Suttee, which posits that sacrifice demands, in itself, further blind sacrifice (thus the soldiers killed in Iraq are not killed in vain if further soldiers are killed in Iraq), the American will

Nietzsche, again

LI received a letter the other day wishing us good luck on our Nietzsche postings, but warning us that we were probably on a fool’s errand. Maybe so. Still, it does seem to us that the controversy about Nietzsche and fascism makes a strange detour around the arguments of the fascists themselves, and this is something we’d like to correct. And we’d like to correct it using one of Nietzsche’s own habitual methods: the question, for us, is what problems faced a philosopher who wanted to make Nietzsche into a proto-Nazi? And, a companion question, what benefit did Nietzsche bring to Nazism? In Lehmann’s intro, one of the problems that has to be dealt with is that Nietzsche happens to have been multiply claimed between 1890 and 1933. Here’s the way Lehnmann states the problem: It is not the year 1900, the year of Nietzsche’s death, that is decisive in bringing to a close the mental reality that we call the 19th century. It was only 1914 that decisively pushed that reality into the past. And

a short and not so sweet post

LI has been terrible lately. We know it. Exhaustion on this end. And also – there is a strange cycle in trying to write posts daily. Sometimes, what comes out of my fingers seems like gold – and then sometimes it seems like fool’s gold. I am rather fascinated by that volatility, even if LI's poor readers might find it less than engrossing. It isn’t connected to the quality of ideas – writing isn’t a command and control process, in which the concepts come first and tell the language, or one’s share of it, how to get to work. The concepts are vaguely there, a sort of drape fluttering and room hum, and one’s share of the language is sprawled on the floor, grinding up crayons and picking their noses. And then some cognitive throat clearing occurs, and the language either jumps up and starts spontaneously doing the dance of the bumble bee back from the pollen laden flowers – which is good -- or it bucks and whinnies like a dying mule – which is bad. Our recommend for your reading ple

too much blog talk

Mr Turbulent Velvet replied to our post about Nietzsche, sort of preemptively killing us in the windup. But we are still determined to trace out one of Nietzsche's posthumous "becomings" -- how N. became a Nazi -- in order to demonstrate that the selective reading of Nietzsche that made him acceptable to the nazis is picked up and reproduced by those who criticize him for being a protofascist without questioning the history of that image. Unfortunately, I’m doing some heavy lifting in another part of my life right now – the editing part – so that I just don’t have the energy today. So, instead of Nietzsche, a little short post about a funny blog thing. A couple of days ago, at one of our favorite blogs, Charlotte Street, there was a post about “bruschetta brigade” – which I guess is the equivalent, in the U.K., of limousine liberals. It was a nice riff that ended like this: “Here is ‘mere talk’; meanwhile others must make tough decisions etc. ‘Bruschetta’ has the added

Nietzsche and fascinating fascism

A busy schedule has made LI haphazard and sloppy about posting, lately. We hoped to have up a post about Nietzsche, today, but instead we have this galimatias. Nietzsche is surely the writer we have studied most closely, and who has had the greatest impact on our life. Consequently, we don’t really like to write about the man. Arguing about Nietzsche is much less fun, in our view, than applying Nietzsche’s m.o. Still, we’ve been following UFO Breakfast’s intermittent series of posts attacking the Big N. and, in particular, his status right now on the left. LI is, if anything, a lefty Nietzschian, so we are going to take a crack at replying to this charge: “I do think that even if Nietzsche was an innocent reactionary aphorist, there is something peculiar about his work that, when appropriated by progressives, leads not so much to fascism as fecklessness.” The writer of the blog, Turbulent Velvet, is very good. He employs those methods approved of by the legendary Mike Fink, who always

oh that American rag...

The court decision on medical marijuana is unsurprising – this is a court that has consistently insulated the war on drugs from the Constitution, affirming, time and time again, the tactics of the police state and the destruction of the Bill of Rights -- as long as that destruction leads to the American penitentiary society of which we are all so proud. The NYT captures the weirdness of the vote: "The states' core police powers have always included authority to define criminal law and to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their citizens," said O'Connor, who was joined in her dissent by two other states' rights advocates: Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justice Clarence Thomas. The legal question presented a dilemma for the court's conservatives, who have pushed to broaden states' rights in recent years. They earlier invalidated federal laws dealing with gun possession near schools and violence against women on the grounds the activity was to


While it is illegal to experiment on a living human being, there are no laws against experimenting on nations. Poor Russia has suffered two great experiments – one, the Bolshevism of communism, and the other, after Gorbachev, the Bolshevism of capitalism. The latter, of course, is much favored in the Western press, which has gotten more worked up about the jailing of a billionaire Mafioso/oil tycoon than all the premature deaths in Moscow and Chechnya combined. A reader wisely scored LI for suggesting that Central Europe would do better to create an EU-style union with Russia than with the EU. This is not going to happen – not only are the hostilities still too deep, but Russia has drifted back into its own history of disastrous strong men with Putin. There is a nice personal essay – St. Petersburg Portraits -- by Emma Lieber in this season’s Massachussetts Review . Portraits of St. Petersburg are a motif in Russian literature – Gogol’s Nevsky Prospect, for instance, which begins with