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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Principles and Emotions 

One of the weapons of neoliberalism is destroying the public space by inundating it with the private. For instance, people begin to confuse the feelings they experience when seeing cute photos of a politician hugging puppies with an intellectual position on his political agenda. 

The way one can resist this is by refusing to be seduced into abandoning principles in favor of emoting over personalities. If you are against the abuse of workers by employers, it shouldn’t matter that an abused employee has an unappealing personality, sports an ugly haircut, or reminds you of a high school teacher you hated. All that should matter is the principle. 

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17 thoughts on “Principles and Emotions 

  1. Yes, exactly! Or, as I sometimes say, marketing is the ultimate evil.

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  2. DWeird on said:

    I’m getting a bit of dissonance from this line of posts. Is it the students who pressure administrations into getting rid of people the don’t like? Is it administrations using student pressure to weed out undesirables? Using the increased level of precarity as a bargaining stick? What’s the relationship here?

    Also, while this particular development may be somewhat new, in general, I doubt that there has ever been any polity that did not incorporate emotions in some way. The attempt to make a hard distinction between principles and emotions in the realm of politics must be two thousand years old at least. How would you even end up with a principle of being against abuse by employers without some prior emotional reaction? Concept wise, I think you’re trading in a lot for fairly little in return here.

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    • Yes, it’s the students who do all this damage because they are bored and it’s entertaining. Example: after a conference on freedom of speech at a university, students gathered by the exit to yell and spit at the professors who participated. Because freedom of speech is an anti-progressive concept these days. The idea that some administrator told them to spit at specific professors is a bit strange, you’ve got to agree.

      Getting people fired is simply the culmination. There are many, many more less extreme things going on here.

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      • \ yell and spit at the professors

        Spit at?!!! Did they really do it on purpose?

        Why weren’t the students identified, arrested by security and disciplined by university?

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        • You don’t understand. They get applause and awards. Remember those students who bullied a Yale professor in the famous video? They got awards.

          Everybody supports them and thinks they are, at worst, right and, at best, little kids who aren’t at fault.

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          • A particularly cute detail about the spitting: they protested the freesdom of speech conference because the concept is racist. And the professors they singled out for spitting on tended to be non-white. Because they are traitors to their race. The spitters, though? White.

            So this was white folks spitting at 2 Asian professors in the name of racial justice. It’s surreal.

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            • \ And the professors they singled out for spitting on tended to be non-white. Because they are traitors to their race. The spitters, though? White.

              I would have never in a 1000 years imagined such a thing.

              Imagine the reaction to white Trump supporters spitting at those poor profs, or at anybody at all.

              Btw, in the place of those Asian professors, I would have shared the info about the horrible American racism with all my relatives, friends and so on. Inside and outside America.

              I also suspect seeing Asian profs as “less than” (getting the cue from general US society) enabled those ‘anti-racists’ spit at them without fear of punishment. I do not believe for a moment race played no role here.

              As for “traitors to their race,” I guess it’s part of seeing everybody ‘non-white’ as basically the same – whether one is Arab, Asian, African American or (not Ashkenazi?) Jewish.

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              • If the professors who were spat at make the tiniest of protests, that will be the end of their careers. This is happening at a university where other professors have already had to resign for very mildly and kindly asking students to be a bit more respectful with other points of view. The professors know that nobody would have supported them.

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      • DWeird on said:

        Not surprised, but then isn’t describing this as abuse by employers a misdescription?

        And I don’t want to take this line of thought too far, because it’s you who is consistently against this nonsense, but isn’t the idea that only people in authority can do ill one of the things that allows these acts to go on unrecognised and unremedied?

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  3. This blog I found yesterday is not a blog I would recommend in general, but this post has an interesting insight regarding the motives of what he calls SJW (social justice warriors) – I think it can explain the behavior of some Germans too:

    \ What gives people meaning? Why do many people feel like their lives are meaningless?

    Meaning can come from many sources, but (I suspect) we derive it from three main sources:

    Worthwhile work
    Family
    Religion


    We do have one source of meaning left: politics. As Moldbug famously noted, liberalism is neo-Puritanism is the religion of America, simply shorn of that Constitutionally inconvenient “God” business.

    With nothing else to provide meaning to their lives, not even the mild nationalism of thinking their own country/society a generally nice place, lonely atheists with empty jobs have turned to politics to fill the void. If they can save the whales, or the refugees, or the gay people, then they will have achieved meaning. In reality, this dedication is often quite shallow, a fly-by-night concern with the lives of strangers that lasts until the next pressing hashtag pops up.

    It’s as though the desire to care for one’s family does not dissipate simply because one is barren, but instead gets transferred to strangers (or animals) who are unlikely to return the favor.

    https://evolutionistx.wordpress.com/2017/01/26/on-the-measures-of-meaning/#comments

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  4. Interesting:

    U.S. Support of Gay Rights in Africa May Have Done More Harm Than Good

    Gay Africans are becoming increasingly caught in the American culture battles being waged in Africa, said the Rev. Kapya Kaoma, an Anglican priest from Zambia who is a researcher at the Massachusetts-based Political Research Associates.

    “When two elephants fight, the grass will suffer,” said Mr. Kaoma, who has documented the ties between American evangelicals and the anti-gay movement in Africa. “This is what’s happening in Africa. African L.G.B.T. persons are just collateral damage to U.S. politics on both ends.”

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  5. I decided to google what you referred to regarding spitting and found:

    \ Alan Dershowitz, a prominent Harvard Law School professor … , who is Jewish, argues that he has been the victim of anti-Semitism and hateful language on campus by the very students who intend to remove all harmful language from campus.

    When he spoke at the City College of New York (CUNY), he said, he was met with shouts of “Zionists out of CUNY.” At Johns Hopkins there were posters showing his face defaced with Hitler mustaches, he said. When he attends lectures or gives speeches on campus, Dershowitz says, he needs police officers to escort him around campus for his own safety.

    “These students don’t want me to be safe,” he said. “They don’t want students who agree with me to be safe. They just want their ideas to be safe and protected from any contrary point of view.”

    http://www.businessinsider.com/alan-dershowitz-thinks-student-protesters-dont-want-true-diversity-in-colleges-2015-11

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    • The incident I was talking about is among the multitude that weren’t widely reported. I know about it from the actual people who were being spat at. They didnt want any publicity because the public opinion of their reference group would not be on their side. They don’t want to sacrifice their careers and livelihoods to this cause.

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      • We only find out about a tiny percentage of cases. There are so many more where professors simply cave in and fold from the get-go because the penalty for resisting is too harsh. The professional community will be against them and will unanimously condemn them as racists, which is a form of civil death for academics.

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  6. \ the professional community will be against them and will unanimously condemn them as racists, which is a form of civil death for academics.

    Are those in “the professional community” simply too afraid and unwilling to not go with the flow, or they believe in what they say?

    Interesting whether it’s a unique American phenomenon, at least in its degree, or the situation is similar in Europe.

    In Israel I have never heard of such a thing, but we’re a completely different society with other problems, so it’s not an achievement for us. Probably we have other problems in academia I am unaware of.

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    • Thing is, we have real issues and real racism around here. And nothing gets solved while we speech-police good people out of existence for no reason. Charleena Lyles, a mentally ill pregnant mother of 4 was gunned down in her apartment last week. Obviously, we have all failed her and her kids as a society if she got a bullet instead of timely psychiatric help. But it’s easier to make faces at college professors and accuse them of racism because they wrote an email or whatever than try to do something for people like Charleena.

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  7. \ Obviously, we have all failed her and her kids as a society if she got a bullet instead of timely psychiatric help. But it’s easier to make faces at college professors and accuse them of racism because they wrote an email or whatever than try to do something for people like Charleena.

    I think there is a problem of equating racism with inner beliefs and emails, thus making it all about the white liberals or “liberals” in question, such as those spitting university students.

    “she got a bullet instead of timely psychiatric help” — What you talk about applies to all poor mentally ill people, including many poor WASP Americans. To solve this problem, one would need to invest more in health care for everybody, including currently uninsured people. Given American debates about health care, how probable is that?

    Also, I wonder how many of those posturing students really see people like Charleena and whether they would vote for paying higher taxes to help them.

    Spitting at professors is easy and socially rewarding; helping people like Charleena is a long, difficult process with high chances of failure.

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