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Showing posts from October 25, 2015

racism: it is not just rednecks

Racism has a double aspect: there is a racism of sentiments and a racism of structure. It is a mistake to think that these aspects are governed by the same dynamic, and will reflect the same “moves.” And yet, they are “aspects” – ultimately, sentiments and structure form a unity. In a society that has  bought into the myth of methodological individualism, the unity becomes ever more mysterious. According to that myth, if we operate on the individual sentiments, we are engaged with the determining cause of racism. If, that is, we could through some process make sure that nobody “feels” racist, then we eliminate racism.   Although intellectually many liberals think that structural racism is semi-autonomous, in some way, in everyday discourse these liberals tend to reflect the hegemonic position that it is sentiments that count. Thus, without considering that, objectively, those who achieve some success in a society that is structurally racist are themselves complicit in racism – or

the politics of analogy always tend right: Putin as Yeltsin's heir, not Stalin's

When Americans decide that so and so is a dictator, so and so always becomes Hitler. Except in the case of Russia. American pundits have a great time making the connection between Putin and Stalin. It is a mythogram that is set and fixed in the narrative. However, it is absolute nonsense. Stalin’s economic and social policies look nothing like Putin’s. One doesn’t see a major purge of former Putinista trundling off to the camp. One doesn’t see the enormous resources devoted to an industrialization that will create a proletariat which will retrospectively legitimate the regime. To put very briefly events that deserve, and have generated, opuses. Opusi? No, the Russian leader that Putin resembles most closely is America’s favorite Russian leader, Boris Yeltsin. From the crony capitalism, which brings into alignment the government and certain favored oligarchs, to the manipulation of the media through companies that are aligned with the ruling party, to the use of war as a means of

the era of splaining 'splained

The Upshot was supposed to be the NYT’s ‘splainer. Splaining is very popular among the center-liberal crowd who went from their twenties to their thirties in the Bush and Obama years. The center of the ‘splainer universe is Vox, which has decided the gimmick is to present opinion pieces as though they were explanations. It is as if you received a box containing, say, the parts for a tricycle, and were given an instruction sheet that told you why the person who wrote it prefers a red to a blue tricycle. This is why it is ‘splaining. Usually, there will be some grafs thrown in, as though we were big boys now, but grafs are only convincing in a convincing context. For decades, the climate change denialists would use a graf to show that the climate worldwide was actually getting cooler. Easy to do: just take the outlier peak of 1998 and graf everything from that. And so it is with the Upshot. Every once in a while, the Upshot magisterially surveys the presidential race so far to tell us