Today’s Latin Lesson

This tweet of mine unexpctedly opened up the meditation on US politics which follows it:

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Friendly, unsolicited advice to Republicans in search of solutions to their poor, bedraggled (driven through the mud) party or, alternatively, toward founding a new center-right one:

Go back to the basics.

You likely aspire after RES PUBLICA, a “public thing” – a govt answering to its franchised citizens.

You probably do not think that the DEMOS, the People, especially a people composed of multiple conflicting identities, should rule. That would be DEMOCRACY.

Obviously, the question of citizenship, more precisely who is franchised, must be defined. My advice would be to expand the franchise to as many as possible. Short of genocide, white people, those who consider themselves such, will become a minority almost everywhere in the US.  

A Modest Proposal

One wag I know has proposed only half-jokingly a simple constitutional amendment that would resolve at a single stroke many problems in US democracy:

Reduce the representational weight of self-proclaming straight white males to 3/5 per man, the same figure  constitutionally applied to black slaves until after the Civil War.

The Problem with Universities

Extract from personal correspondence with PDM.

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The inflection of Univ education to techno-bureaucracy is built on top of an institution which is and has always been elitist in its structure and ethos. What has gone wrong, IMHO, is not that there is a coterie of right-minded administrators and their lackeys now running the show, rather that this the meritocratic and elitist nature of the thing has been twisted and captured by a group alien in spirit and mind to the foundations of the academy itself.

 Education (and, yes, science), is anti-democratic and it is the “democratization” (commodification, adulteration etc etc) of it which is reducing the noble calling of this grand feudal institution to mush.

 The vast expansion of public higher education after WW2 may be looked at part of the brief period of social democracy which followed upon the depredations of the war. It was also clearly a desire of the electorate to provide the benefits of education to their children (even in my little lower middle class and working class East End of Houston). But they were sold a bill  of goods. Whatever learning acquired had to be recaptured in the interests of the technocratic and … the neo-liberals. The cost of such being passed over onto the students and their parents themselves, as the State withdrew its support. The banks, which are printing money (what else is debt to a bank?) on the backs of all this, jumped in to capture this “market”.

 The University needs more, not less elitism, and should cost a hell of a lot less than it does. Which should mean less for professors as well as far fewer administrators.

On this point I recently twat: https://twitter.com/geogeoplots/status/1304136748348272640. As usual, whistling in the wind.

 I don’t know what I’d do if I were young again but I was always dubious about the expressed goals of universities and ended up there only by chance, I can see in retrospect. Not that I don’t consider myself as part of the natural ruling intellectual elite. Just that I think I belonged to it through my own efforts and starting at an early age, when, for ex, I used to read encyclopedias. For fun.

Loaded Diplomatic Words

The Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, crafted or had crafted a superb note of official congratulation to the newly-elected US President. Dripping with irony but absolutely correct in terms of expected language, formula and cliché, Kantian to boot.

“Germany and America are bound by their values: democracy, freedom, the respect for the law and the dignity of human beings, independent of their origin, skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political position. On the basis of these values I offer the future president of the United States, Donald Trump, close cooperation.”

„Deutschland und Amerika sind durch Werte verbunden : Demokratie, Freiheit, Respekt vor dem Recht und der Würde des Menschen, unabhängig von Herkunft, Hautfarbe, Religion, Geschlecht, sexueller Orientierung oder politischer Einstellung. Auf der Basis dieser Werte biete ich dem künftigen Präsidenten der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika, Donald Trump, eine enge Zusammenarbeit an.“

Full report in the FAZ: http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/inland/deutschlands-politiker-reagieren-gemischt-auf-trump-14520543.html