Here are several items that briefly caught my attention over the past few days, but first I had to deal with the blizzard of bullshit emanating from the GOP:
Conor Williams bemoans the corporate media's ongoing efforts to slander liberal politics in "Defending Progressivism" (Dissent):
Largely by their rhetorical force, [conservatives] have converted progressivism into utopianism, bureaucratic technocracy, corporatism, emotivism, anti-Americanism, philosophical non-foundationalism, racism, and so on and so forth. [...] As has become customary, progressives are waiting for their more organized opponents to define the debate, its terms, and their role in it. They are routinely on the defensive in public debate, even when the facts overwhelmingly support their positions.
Never out of print, it is by far the most insightful and enduring account of the attraction of intellectuals to Stalinism and, more generally, of the appeal of authority and authoritarianism to the intelligentsia. [...] One hundred years after his birth, fifty-seven years after the publication of his seminal essay, Miłosz's indictment of the servile intellectual rings truer than ever: "his chief characteristic is his fear of thinking for himself."
James Brett writes at American Liberalism:
I must answer whether my own mind is captive of Democratic Party ideas. No, it is not. It entertains each platform of ideas and chronicle of events, statements, and rulings on a daily and weekly basis, subjecting every last idea to the method of multiple working hypotheses. This is, as we noted a few weeks ago, the very meaning of liberal, in the expression "liberal democracy" bequeathed to us by the men of the Enlightenment. It is the scientific method applied to politics. And, it is a burdensome chore, believe me, but it is the only way to land somewhere sanely between having a captive mind and the irresponsible, undisciplined anarchy of the ego-centric existence.***
Lewis Lapham writes on deploying history as a weapon:
Well, you deploy it against the dealers in fascist politics and quack religion. You deploy it against people promising miracles. It teaches you to rely on the blessings of experience, which is the great teacher, I think, as opposed to abstract outcome. [...] Jared Diamond wrote a book a couple of years ago called "Collapse," in which he says that ideas, civilizations, in a state of decay cling desperately to the systems that are no longer functioning. And it's also probably true to say that capitalism in its stronger forms went out the window in the United States in the 1930s, because now, once you get the combination of government and business -- I mean, speaking to Diamond's point -- propping up a system that is essentially dead in the water is what we've done with the government takeover, the stimulus bill, the TARP. I suspect we're attempting to rescue a corpse.
As I mentioned here, Jay Kennedy's analysis of Plato' dialogues is featured in the latest issue of TPM: The Philosopher's Magazine. In the piece, Kennedy announced a book on the subject entitled The Musical Structure of Plato's Dialogues: a Guide to the Evidence.