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Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave



 
 
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  #1  
Old July 16th 03, 04:13 AM
Nick
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Default Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave

Mike Murray wrote in message
. ..(to Jerome Bibuld):
...
I am thinking of Karl Marx, who knocked up his unpaid servant woman
(while living in a two-room shack with his wife and several children),
and then refused to support the offspring. And wouldn't all our idols
look better without those clay feet?...


That may depend to the extent that one's public works can be segregated from
one's private life. Evidently, Mohandas Gandhi was deeply estranged from his
eldest son, but that unfortunate fact has not diminished Gandhi's standing in
history.

'Isaac Newton said he had seen farther by standing on the shoulders of giants,
but he did not believe it. He was born into a world of darkness, obscurity,
and magic; led a strangely pure and obsessive life, lacking parents, lovers,
and friends; quarreled bitterly with great men who crossed his path; veered
at least once to the brink of madness; cloaked his work in secrecy; and yet
discovered more of the essential core of human knowledge than anyone before
or after....He made knowledge a thing of substance: quantitative and exact.
He established principles, and they are called his laws.'
--James Gleick (Isaac Newton, p. 3)

Would Richard Wagner's music sound any better if he had not been anti-Semitic?

"The public performance of Richard Wagner's music has always been banned
informally in Israel, although his music is sometimes played on the radio
and recordings are available in Israeli shops. To many Israeli Jews, Wagner's
music--rich, extraordinarily complex, extraordinarily influential in the
musical world--has come to symbolize the horrors of German anti-Semitism.
Nevertheless, he was a unquestionably great genius when it came to the theater
and to music. He revolutionized our whole conception of opera; he totally
transformed the tonal musical system; and he contributed ten great masterpieces,
ten operas that remain among the very great summits of Western music. The
challenge he presents, not just to Israeli Jews but to everyone else, is how
to admire and perform his music on the one hand and, on the other hand, to
separate that from his odious writings and the use made of them by the Nazis.
As Daniel Barenboim has frequently pointed out, none of Wagner's operas have
any immediately anti-Semitic material in them; more bluntly, the Jews he hated
and wrote about in his pamphlets are simply not at all to be found *as Jews*
or Jewish characters in his musical works. Many critics have imputed an
anti-Semitic presence in some characters that Wagner treats with contempt and
derision in his operas: but such accusations can only be imputations of
anti-Semitism, not instances of it, although the resemblance between caricatures
of Jews that were common at the time and Beckmesser, a derisory character in
Wagner's only comic opera 'Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg' are actually quite
close. Still, Beckmesser himself is a German Christian character in the opera,
most certainly not Jewish. Clearly, Wagner made the distinctio in his own mind
between Jews in reality and Jews in his music, since he was voluble about the
former in his writing, and silent on them in the latter...." (pp. 175-6)

"In the Israeli case about Wagner and Barenboim, how many writers, musicians,
poets, painters would remain before the public if their art was judged by their
moral behavior? And who is to decide what level of ugliness and turpitude
can be tolerated in the artistic production of any given artist? For a mature
mind it should be possible to hold together in one's mind two contradictory
facts: that Wagner was a great artist, and second, that Wagner was a disgusting
human being. Unfortunately, one cannot have one fact without the other. This
is not to say that artists shouldn't be morally judged for their immorality
or evil practices; it is to say that an artist's work cannot be judged solely
on those grounds and banned accordingly." (p. 182)

--Edward Said ('Barenboim and the Wagner Taboo' from "Parallels and Paradoxes:
Explorations in Music and Society" by Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said)

Consider all the commonality between Bobby Fischer and Karl Marx....
Both were given to intemperate diatribes....


'Panslavism is now, from a creed, turned into a political programme,
with 800000 bayonets to support it.'
--Karl Marx (21 April 1855, 'Neue Oder-Zeitung', reprinted in
"The Russian Menace to Europe: a Collection of Articles etc.")

"Marx's obsessions with the dangers of Pan-Slavism filled many of his articles
at this time. Read today, they seem indistinguishable from Hitler's comparable
fears in 'Mein Kampf'--written seventy years later, but reflecting the same
dread that the 15 million Slavs subject to the Austrian emperor--or in Hitler's
day, living in the scattered remnants of the Austro-Hungarian empire--would
unite against the rest of Europe....

One aspect of Marx's thinking on the Eastern Question which has puzzled
students of his writings was his paranoid conviction that Lord Palmerston,
outwardly the most jingoistic of government ministers, and replacing Lord
Aberdeen as (British) prime minister at the darkest hour of the (Crimean) war,
was in fact a Russian spy....Marxists are coy about this fact--particularly
Russian Marxists--since for reasons which do not need to be explained it
embarrasses them that the philosopher who inspired the Russian Revolution
should have been personally violently anti-Russian."

--A.N. Wilson (The Victorians, pp. 187-8)

But here's the question. Why, with all these advantages, did not Karl
Marx become a world class Chess player? Why not Marx instead of Steinitz?


"Karl Marx Plays Chess" by GM Andrew Soltis is a collection of anecdotes
compiled from his column in "Chess Life" (the USCF magazine).

Think of the concentration camps and purges avoided, the Kulaks left alive,
the Poles left unslaughtered, the Cambodian genocide sidestepped, had Marx
been able to channel his intellect into productive tournament and match chess
instead of political gibberish.


As a general principle, most historians prefer not to address counterfactual
propositions in detail.

"(Fritz) Haber and (Albert) Einstein agreed that the economy could not be
left solely to market forces. Einstein went beyond private warnings and
public statements about militarism. Where Haber sought an authoritarian
answer, Einstein favored an antifascist coalition of Communists and Socialists.
In June 1932, in anticipation of the July election (at which the Nazis scored
their greatest victory before the assumption of power), Einstein joined
Heinrich Mann and Kaethe Kollwitz in urging a common electoral front and a
single list of candidates for Communists, Socialists, and trade unionists.
A few days before the election, a mass meeting, also supported by Einstein,
reiterated the call for what later came to be called a popular front but at
the time was a fantasy without a shred of practicality. The Communists, in
their Stalinist phase, villified all other parties, branding the Socialists as
'social fascists', as the worst betrayers of the working class; the socialists,
in turn, hated the Communists. (The conflict between the two was sealed in
the Revolution of 1918-19. The Communists blamed the murder of Rosa Luxemburg
and Karl Liebknecht in 1919 on the Socialists; posthumously they were invoked
to divide what they had meant to unite--the German working class.) In the
best of worlds, German workers and social-democratic voters from all classes
would have practiced the unity Einstein preached; in the worst of worlds, the
one in which Einstein lived, National Socialists and Communists collaborated,
as for example, in the transportation strike in Berlin in November 1932. In
one of the momentous dramatic dialectics of our century, National Socialists
and Communists killed and helped each other by turns; for decades Communists
won left-wing sympathy by default, given the brutal horror and crude
irrationalism of their opponents."
--Fritz Stern (Einstein's German World, pp. 151-2)

Karl Marx's writings do warrant critical scrutiny, and sometimes, in my view,
they may justify critical repudiation. Ad hominem attacks on Marx's private
life, however, have no bearing on the merits of his public works. Another
approach is required if one intends, as Mike Murray did, to discredit all of
Karl Marx's works as 'political gibberish'.

"Men in masses, when goaded by disappointment, are never just."
--James Fenimore Cooper (Satanstoe)

--Nick
  #2  
Old July 16th 03, 08:47 AM
Mike Murray
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Posts: n/a
Default Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave

On 15 Jul 2003 19:13:40 -0700, (Nick) wrote:

I am thinking of Karl Marx, who knocked up his unpaid servant woman
(while living in a two-room shack with his wife and several children),
and then refused to support the offspring. And wouldn't all our idols
look better without those clay feet?...


That may depend to the extent that one's public works can be segregated from
one's private life.


Which itself depends on how devoutly one lives by the maxim, "do as I
say, not as I do".

Evidently, Mohandas Gandhi was deeply estranged from his
eldest son, but that unfortunate fact has not diminished Gandhi's standing in
history.


Nor have his sometimes predatory and somewhat hypocritical sexual
practices. Likewise with Jefferson's personal failings that might
blight his memory.

Would Richard Wagner's music sound any better if he had not been anti-Semitic?


It probably wouldn't have helped. But would Socrates have been
equally credible had he accepted exile?

"For a mature
mind it should be possible to hold together in one's mind two contradictory
facts: that Wagner was a great artist, and second, that Wagner was a disgusting
human being. Unfortunately, one cannot have one fact without the other. This
is not to say that artists shouldn't be morally judged for their immorality
or evil practices; it is to say that an artist's work cannot be judged solely
on those grounds and banned accordingly." (p. 182)


To segregate the art from the artist's morals is one thing. To
segregate a philosopher's ethics from his life is quite another.
Compare Fischer to Heidegger.

Think of the concentration camps and purges avoided, the Kulaks left alive,
the Poles left unslaughtered, the Cambodian genocide sidestepped, had Marx
been able to channel his intellect into productive tournament and match chess
instead of political gibberish.


As a general principle, most historians prefer not to address counterfactual
propositions in detail.


The subjective outsells the subjunctive.

Karl Marx's writings do warrant critical scrutiny, and sometimes, in my view,
they may justify critical repudiation. Ad hominem attacks on Marx's private
life, however, have no bearing on the merits of his public works. Another
approach is required if one intends, as Mike Murray did, to discredit all of
Karl Marx's works as 'political gibberish'.


When determining intent, context is everything. Marx served this
post only analogically.


  #3  
Old August 15th 03, 08:02 AM
Mike Murray
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Default Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave

On 14 Aug 2003 20:39:44 -0700, (Nick) wrote:

Hypocrisy is endemic among humankind. Yet I believe that it's
still worthwhile to maintain a distinction (albeit not necessarily
an absolute one) between the public and the private spheres.
And perhaps some human foibles and inconsistencies should be more
tolerated than condemned.


For instance, Hannah Arendt might be criticised for having
had a love affair (as a young student) with Martin Heidegger
(then a married professor), but it's absurd to cite that fact
alone as a sufficient reason to discredit her book,
"Eichmann in Jerusalem: a Report on the Banality of Evil".


Agreed, but Heidegger seems much more culpable in the affair -- not
that it was anything unusual -- young attractive student starts
banging a famous older married man -- we see it all the time, in
academia, politics, the business world. And the fact that he acted
the cad doesn't decisively reflect on his philosophical writings,
although one wonders whether he believed himself to be "living in
authenticity".

But, where he joined the Nazi party, praised Hitler, betrayed his
teacher, Husserl, screwed over various Jewish grad students and
faculty members -- all this certainly calls into question his claim to
be a conduit for the emerging "truth of Being". Now, German
philosophers of that time were very conscious of their place in
history. And when it became clear that Germany was losing, he went
into damage control, adopted a strident anti-American attitude, never
apologized, rarely explained, etc. To me, it's critical that a
potential student evaluate whether the positions Heidegger publicly
proclaimed in the 1930s derive from his philosophy, *before* devoting
the massive time required to understand his works. Now, one really
can't do this, of course, it's a chicken and egg type thing.

Contrast this with Fischer. His chess was basically pure. Sure, he's
been a nut case, but one can play over his games without knowing his
bizarre political and racial opinions, and IMO, it would be hard to
find them reflected in his moves over the board.

But would Socrates have been equally
credible had he accepted exile?


Aristotle's writings seem no less credible today, even though
Aristotle (a 'metic', not a citizen) voluntarily departed from
Athens lest its people should 'sin twice against philosophy'.


He's not regarded as such a worthy example of a philosopher, or with
the same affection as is Socrates, even though some of the latter's
ideas would be regarded as monstrous today (it's unethical to turn
your father in for beating a slave to death?).

When determining intent, context is everything. Marx served this post
only analogically.


Thanks for the clarification. The writer always enjoys a more
privileged context than the reader. The writer presumably knows
one's own intentions; the reader can only infer them from the text.
And, in this case, you might know much more about Jerome Bibuld's
political beliefs and activities than I do.


I know him only from these Usenet forums. If I knew him personally, I
probably would have wimped out and let the remarks pass. I've always
been irritated by those who claim we are determined by our historical
and economic context, but who feel quite comfortable in ripping
various historical figures out of theirs and judging them by current
ethical standards. So, good enough for Jefferson? Good enough for
Marx.

  #4  
Old August 15th 03, 02:49 PM
StanB
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Default Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave


"Nick" wrote in message
m...

Aristotle's writings seem no less credible today, even though
Aristotle (a 'metic', not a citizen) voluntarily departed from
Athens lest its people should 'sin twice against philosophy'.


Wasn't he the guy that thought the sun revolved around the earth?

StanB


  #5  
Old August 15th 03, 04:45 PM
Mike Murray
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Default Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave

On Fri, 15 Aug 2003 08:49:04 -0400, "StanB"
wrote:

Aristotle's writings seem no less credible today, even though
Aristotle (a 'metic', not a citizen) voluntarily departed from
Athens lest its people should 'sin twice against philosophy'.


Wasn't he the guy that thought the sun revolved around the earth?


Well, you can't get *everything* right.
  #6  
Old August 16th 03, 09:01 AM
NoMoreChess
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Default Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave

..
Wasn't [Aristotle] the guy that thought the sun revolved around the earth?



Well, from where I'm standing, the sun DOES go 'round the Earth. As do the
moon, and the stars, and the clouds-- floating in the ether.


When I was last on the sun, however, it was true that things appeared as if
the planets -- insignificant specks in the distant darkness -- went 'round the
sun, which stood perfectly still, or so it seemed at the time. But then, I may
not have been thinking coherently, as it was rather hot and itchy in my
asbestos space-suit, and on top of that, the (I should say, *overdone*) intense
lighting was somehow set into the very ground, which was a bit disorienting, to
say the least.
We can hardly blame Aristotle, in view of the fact that he could not have,
like me, donned an asbestos space-suit, and catapulted himself skyward to see
how things looked from another perspective, can we?


It's all relative, of course. But I never realized the gravity of the
situation until the day an apple, falling from the highest treetop, struck me
square on the head! That was the biggest apple I ever saw, and the fastest,
and the hardest-hitting!



As for that Sophist and corrupter of youth, he got back some of what he had
dished out: poison.









  #8  
Old August 17th 03, 12:38 AM
NoMoreChess
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Default Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave

..
Well, Aristarchus figured it out. And he didn't have the resources to
him that Aristotle did.



You must here be referring to the giant catapult -- absolutely required for
this sort of experiment right up until the invention of the rocket-fueled
engine, or the rubber-band, whichever came first.



Could Aristarchus leap 27 feet? I know of one fellow who, having no
particular resources at all, actually did this! But I won't malign the two
Arist's for their relative short-sightedness when it came to leaping
on-the-run. I have all the training resources in the world at my fingertips,
and can still only leap, maybe, fifteen feet -- perhaps less.


Okay, so Aristarchus figured it out. But there was no way back then to test
his theory, was there? Mere mathematical conjecture, at best. And impious
conjecture, to boot. Is not the sun-god, Apollo -- who drives his mighty
chariot across the sky each day -- greater than Gaia, goddess of the Earth?
Why am I asking a known heretic this rhetorical question?




As for that Sophist and corrupter of youth, he got back some of what he
had dished out: poison.


So Ashcroft convinced you, eh?



Ashcroft who? I thought I was the ONLY one who had figured this out. Now
I suppose someone else will get all the credit for my work -- this always seems
to happen to me!
No, I somehow doubt that someone like Ashcroft could see-through Socrates'
clever sophistry, the way I alone (apparently) have done. Another false alarm.












  #9  
Old August 17th 03, 03:39 AM
PJDBAD
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Default Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave

Actually with the Earth being flat and all like a cosmic cracker its rotation
about its axis causes the sun to appear to roatate about it. However, it is
more of a crossing movement than a rotation. The relative positions of the
earth and the sun remains almost constant, the individual rotation of these
bodies not withstanding.
 




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