Digest, 11/6/2021: 밥먹자
the twenty-sixth digest post
An unusually news cycle-inspired, partisan-politics heavy week for me. I should get really abstract and impractical next week. Otherwise, well, I had a tiring few days and I don’t have much to say this time… I’m on Goodreads and Twitch and I just started a Letterboxd account, if that interests you.
This Week’s Posts
Monday, November 1st - I’m Still Here
I’m a leftist. I say the stuff I do because I’m a leftist. There’s nothing contrarian about it. It’s just traditional socialist shit.
Tuesday, November 2nd - Here's Two Examples of the State Enforcing Social Justice Norms
Laura Kipnis and Amy Cooper would like a word.
Wednesday, November 3rd - CRT Could Use a Little Cost-Benefit Analysis
If we won the CRT fight… what would we be winning?
Thursday, November 4th - There Are No Refs
Stop whining about what’s fair; it’s politics. Nobody cares, work harder.
Friday, November 5th - Read the Bending Cross (subscriber only)
Debs is my copilot.
Also, we started the new book club for Hermann Hesse’s Demian! Check it out.
From the Archives
We can’t all be self-actualized #girlbosses because some forms of flourishing are zero sum and one person’s success is another person’s failure. (We call can be secure and happy, however.)
Song of the Week
Substack of the Week
People often complain (when they aren’t complaining about everything else) that I never criticize conservatives. There’s a few reasons for that, one of which is that I think my left, the left left, the socialist left, is far from being genuinely viable as a real political force in American politics and needs serious reform before that changes. Reform mandates internal criticism. But the bigger reason is this: there’s just so little worth engaging with, intellectually, within conservatism right now. There are thoughtful conservatives like Ross Douthat or Kay Hymowitz, but the more thoughtful and interesting they are, the further they are from being influential within the Republican party. So I typically just don’t know why I’d bother. Am I going to write deep, reflexive essays about the shit they publish in Breitbart?
Well, Richard Hanania isn’t anywhere close to the GOP mainstream either. But he is a very interesting thinker, provocative and surprising. (And wrong, about most things, but you can’t have everything.) His jeremiad against expertise in the NYT was entertaining and convincing, and there’s a lot of similarly interesting stuff on his Substack, such as this consideration of Covid security theater. Much of what he publishes there is interviews and podcasts, so if you’re into that, check it out.
Best. Movie. Year. Ever.: How 1999 Blew Up the Big Screen, Brian Raftery, 2019
This is a fun collection of little histories and ruminations on the major movies from what truly was a watershed year at the cinema. A lot of these are favorites, and Raftery both makes some interesting points and shares a lot of behind-the-scenes tidbits I’d never heard. (The Boys Don’t Cry stuff is a highlight.) As I said in my Goodreads review, if you’re looking for some sort of overarching thesis about why this particular year was so fertile or how the films in it are similar in plot or theme, you won’t find it. But what is there is consistently entertaining.
NFL Pick of the Week
Because I missed a couple weeks on vacation, let’s do three rapid fire picks this week.
Atlanta Falcons (+6.5) over the New Orleans Saints - teams on their third-string QB with bottom-third wide receivers probably shouldn’t be giving six and a half period
Tennessee Titans (+7.5) over the Los Angeles Rams - classic potential for a letdown game for the Rams and for the Titans to outperform expectations without Derrick Henry
Baltimore Ravens (-3) over the Miami Dolphins - just an inexplicable line; the Ravens are much better than the Dolphins, who legitimately might be the worst team in the league, whether Tua plays or not
Edit: Inexplicably because it's the Texans, not the Ravens. Disregard!
Comment of the Week
The U.S. Left historically defended free speech tooth and nail because they knew that in a capitalist state, those who advocate for workers are ALWAYS outside power. And they advocated not in the abstract, but on the ground, in the streets, in sometimes bloody and deadly battles. In 1920, the ACLU was founded by and for the defense of labor radicals rounded up for prosecution under the Espionage Act. (Roger Baldwin: "The cause we serve is labor.") It's a fools game to think that because the Left has power now, we don't need to defend free speech. First, because unless you're part of the Left that has abandoned class struggle you really don't have power. And second, because even if the Left did have some modicum of power, the balance could easily shift. It's NEVER a good idea for Leftists to pull back from defending free speech. - Mary Anne Imelda
That’s it! See you next week.
I made comment of the week! Hooray! Thanks, Freddie. :)
I'm sure you've read this but for the benefit of any other commenters who haven't, Hanania has an interesting thesis - and a 10,000 word article about it - on how mainstream US liberalism is a literate culture and mainstream US conservatism is a preliterate or antiliterate culture. That is, mainstream US liberalism is primarily something that comes out of think tanks in the form of articles and books, and has a coherent worldview based on this; mainstream US conservatism is very soundbite-y and more apt to come from radio or TV. Of course this is overly simplistic, and he has noted that the neocon strain of conservatism, while *popularized* on the airwaves, did have an intellectual backing (albeit a really bad one.) But overall, as someone on the Right, I find it convincing overall.
I do think it's changing, more on the liberal side than the right, having seen the ease with which (as you wrote on Monday) free speech as a liberal, leftist value has been completely memory-holed among mainstream libs. But his thesis goes a good way to explaining how a huge percentage of the electorate went from "let them eat capital" Romney to "actually, the proles should have jobs and maybe free trade and open borders aren't good for the American people" Trump without noticing the huge, yawning chasm between them. (This malleability is good for these voters in that it helps the Republicans win elections, making the voters happy they picked the winner; it's bad because it's this lack of a worldview backed in coherence that often gets them hoodwinked. It's this, not the whole temporarily-embarrassed-millionaires and/or muh Christian Right whining that the libs enjoy, that is responsible for the Right failing to elect people who stand for what they vote for. It's because, in large part, they're not very sure what they want.)