April 22, 2014
What’s good for the goose…

Tyler Cowen on Thomas Piketty:

Piketty fears the stasis and sluggishness of the rentier, but what might appear to be static blocks of wealth have done a great deal to boost dynamic productivity….Consider Piketty’s native France, where the scores of artists who relied on bequests or family support to further their careers included painters such as Corot, Delacroix, Courbet….among others.

Corey Robin on Tyler Cowen:

Cowen fears the stasis and sluggishness of Bolshevism but what might appear to be state tyranny or inefficient state subsidies have done a great deal to boost cultural production….Consider the Soviet Union, where the scores of artistic figures who relied on and benefited from state patronage include Rodchenko, Mayakovsky, Lissitzky, and Gorky, and where the scores of artistic figures who were inspired by state repression include Mandelstam, Akhmatova, and Pasternak, among others.

Inspired by an email from Mark Ames.

April 7, 2014
Nazi Germany and Jim Crow

"Schmitt…defended the Nuremberg Laws of September 1935…These laws prohibiting German citizens from marrying non-Aryans, according to Schmitt, were not intended as a first step in transforming the world. Unlike the Bolsheviks, he went on, Germans were not presuming to legislate for mankind."

—Paul Gottfried, Carl Schmitt: Politics and Theory (h/t Harrison Fluss

"The object of the [14th] amendment was undoubtedly to enforce the absolute equality of the two races before the law, but, in the nature of things, it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based upon color, or to enforce social, as distinguished from political, equality, or a commingling of the two races upon terms unsatisfactory to either…Legislation is powerless to eradicate racial instincts or to abolish distinctions based upon physical differences, and the attempt to do so can only result in accentuating the difficulties of the present situation….If one race be inferior to the other socially, the Constitution of the United States cannot put them upon the same plane."

Justice Brown, Plessy v. Ferguson

March 31, 2014
No getting past black skin

Clarence Thomas to Juan Williams, 1987:

There is nothing you can do to get past black skin. I don’t care how educated you are, how good you are—you’ll never have the same contacts or opportunities, you’ll never be seen as equal to whites.

March 31, 2014
Clarence Thomas on Malcolm X

From an interview with Reason in 1987

Reason: It’s odd that Malcolm X isn’t a conservative hero, isn’t it? He was very good on self-help.

Thomas: Yes, but he had some very strong things to say about whites. I’ve been very partial to Malcolm X, particularly his self-help teachings. I have virtually all of the recorded speeches of Malcolm X.

Reason: Then you still see him as hero.

Thomas: Let’s say I’m a little bit more discriminating in what I accept and what I reject. There is too much sometimes of the anti-white rhetoric. There is a lot of good in what he says, and I go through it for the good.

March 31, 2014
Now this is what I call a mentor!

Max Weber to Georg Lukács, on the latter’s idea for a book on Dostoevsky: “I hated and still hate this work of yours.” (h/t Harrison Fluss)

March 31, 2014
This is how white conservatives blurbed books by black conservatives in the 1970s…

Michael Novak on Thomas Sowell’s Race and Economics: “Thomas Sowell…owns one of the coolest and most honest minds in America.”

January 9, 2014

October 27, 2013
Freedom v. Liberty

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Friend:

An acquaintance of mine (least of all men a political zealot) had christened a vessel which he had just built — THE LIBERTY; and was seriously admonished by his aristocratic friends to change it for some other name. What? replied the owner very innocently — should I call THE FREEDOM? That (it was replied) would be far better, as people might then think only of Freedom of Trade; whereas LIBERTY had a jacobinical sound with it!

September 14, 2013
Chekhov’s Gun and Academic Writing

Chekhov (h/t John Kerrigan):

If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.

If only academics understood that…

August 30, 2013
How the NYT Reviewed The Feminine Mystique

Here’s a pitch-perfect rendition of how you might imagine the New York Times would have reviewed The Feminine Mystique, which turns out to be precisely how the Times actually did review The Feminine Mystique:

Sweeping generalities, in which this book necessarily abounds, may hold a certain amount of truth but often obscure the deeper issues. It is superficial to blame the “culture” and its handmaidens, the women’s magazines, as she does. What is to stop a woman who is interested in national and international affairs from reading magazines that deal with those subjects? To paraphrase a famous line, “The fault, dear Mrs. Friedan, is not in our culture, but in ourselves.”

H/t Laura Tanenbaum

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