(1) Jeffrey Herf is apparently shocked and appalled by the emergence of a “pro-Hamas Left” in the American academy. He writes:
The emergence of this objectively pro-Hamas and pro-war Left is an historically significant event. It breaks with both the self-understanding and public image of a Left that carried a banner of anti-fascism. It rests on a double standard of critique, a critical one applied to the extreme Right in the West and another, apologetic standard applied to similarly based rightist Islamist movements.
So the left intelligentsia is prone to extreme hypocrisy, anti-semitism, crypto-fascism, opportunism, and the unrestrained politics of ressentiment? Is this supposed to be news of some kind? Political controversy is to be measured against some yardstick of fundamental decency, that is now, peculiarly, being betrayed? Who or what is supporting that yardstick, exactly? If we subtract any such ‘yardstick’ entirely from our considerations, haven’t we thereby, for the first time, begun to approach the topic realistically?
(2) As noted before, I’m a terrible reader of Scott Alexander. There’s always a point, early on, in any of his posts, where my concentration is wrecked by the buzzing question: how is this any kind of problem? So I’m reliant on better followers of his lithe reasoning to explain to me how this post can make any sort of sense except through the expectation that life should be fair. The attractiveness of that dream (or delusion?) is easy to grasp. What is difficult (for me) to understand is how an acute intelligence can fail to realize, intuitively, that thinking begins at exactly the point such indulgent fantasy terminates.
It’s quite clear that Scott knows obnoxious PUA sociobiology is basically correct. How else to read this?
If you’re smart, don’t drink much, stay out of fights, display a friendly personality, and have no criminal history – then you are the population most at risk of being miserable and alone. “At risk” doesn’t mean “for sure”, any more than every single smoker gets lung cancer and every single nonsmoker lives to a ripe old age – but your odds get worse. In other words, everything that “nice guys” complain of is pretty darned accurate. But that shouldn’t be too hard to guess …
How could the aspiration to any kind of ‘social justice’ in this context (or in fact any other) conceivably be anything but a fantastic falsification of the world as it deeply (or pre-conventionally) exists? To acknowledge this reality is to admit that our ideas of ‘justice’ mean nothing. One might as well “complain” about gravity or the second law of thermodynamics.
(3) Perhaps Nothing isn’t in any way real, suggests Leon Horsten. Zero, unlike any other small Natural, would have no irreducible designation. It would function only as shorthand, abbreviating a concatenation of plenary operations. Linguistic applications of “nothingness” would be dissolved by analogy.
According to the scientific picture of the world, absences do not seem to be fundamental building blocks of either the concrete (physical) world or of the abstract (mathematical) realm.
So Nothing can be ‘scientifically’ annihilated — that will surely dispel its irritation. (Or not.)
Of the world’s various contests, there have to be some which do not draw Outside in unreservedly to the nihilistic side of the battlefield. If I turn to this possibility with sufficient dedication, perhaps I will think of some.