Funny Link

This is one of those Onion-type pieces that is hilarious irrespective of ​whether the author is trying to be funny or describing an actual event. But I had to share because it’s very funny.


CEOs Need to Shut Up

Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett, and Silicon Valley CEOs Implore Trump Not to Eliminate DACA.

Can’t these suckers just stay the fuck out of it, for a change? They are only making things worse. All they are doing is giving credence to the idea that billionaires like immigrants because they are helpful in driving down wages and destroying labor protections. 

The CEOs’ appeals to morality and kindness stink to high heaven. Their moral authority is lower than that of a sack of rotting cabbage. They need to stop posturing and go treat their own employees with a bit more humanity. 

A Bishop from Congo

Hey, folks, did you know that the first black Catholic bishop in history was the son of the Congo emperor Nzinga Mvemba who ruled the Congo in the first half of the 16th century? Mvemba was a devout Christian who sent his son to Portugal and then to Rome to attend seminary. And the son became a bishop. 

Campus Fun

Today I took Klara to campus because I had to meet with a student. During a break between classes, Klara positioned herself in the midst of the student flow and had a blast, greeting everybody, accepting compliments and showing off her shoes and bracelet. 

There are people of all kinds of ethnicities on campus, and that’s great because I want her to get used to folks of different appearances. She’s used to dark-skinned people, for instance, but somebody with a pronounced Semitic look (like my sister) freaks her out. It was very weird back in Florida this summer because Klara was literally scared of her aunt. 

After having fun on campus, we went to the Indian restaurant where Klara discovered kofta. Turns out, she loves it. 


Life is so unfair. I’ve been struggling on this diet for months. And yes, I lost 27 lbs, which is half of what I need to lose. And then N went on this diet and lost 15 lbs just like that. He didn’t even suffer! Not that I want him to suffer, of course, but it’s hard to admire somebody’s easy success when it’s not as simple for you to achieve it. 

More on Lilla

Of course, if Lilla simply said everything I already know about neoliberalism as a threat to democracy, I wouldn’t have liked the book. I hate to be in agreement because it’s a massive waste of time. 

Once and Future Liberal also told me things I didn’t know about the trajectory of the US liberalism since the 1950s. (There is a lot more in the book about the trajectory of the US Republicans but I knew all that stuff already). I now understand why “incrementalism” was such a dirty word in the last election and where the idea of Liberals as elitist comes from. 

Plus, the book is funny and offers many good jokes. So it’s enjoyable to read, too.

Book Notes: Mark Lilla’s Once and Future Liberal

I read this book because I saw many angry denunciations of it, and that sort of thing always makes me want to find out for myself. And I’m glad I did. 

One of the dangers of neoliberalism is that it destroys democracy, hollowing out democratic institutions and turning people into isolated, disaffected consumers who are incapable of solidarity. Liquid capital doesn’t like civic engagement and sweeps it away. This process has been studied at length. Bauman, Ulrich Beck, Manuel Castells, McGuigan, Zizek, Dardot and Laval have all written about the difficulty of preserving any meaningful form of democracy in the era of neoliberalism.

All the names I mentioned, though, belong to European thinkers. They do mention the US in their work but Europe is the main focus of their attention. In the US, there is little original work on neoliberalism as an ideology and a way of being. Mostly, it’s all about neoliberal economy, as if one could isolate the economic from everything else. 

Lilla is finally bringing these ideas to this side of the Atlantic. Neoliberalism, he points out, impacts people irrespective of their political affiliation. You can’t subtract yourself from the dominant ideology. All you can do is realize this and start noticing the ways in which it acts upon you. 

Lilla’s argument is that neoliberalism has destroyed any meaningful form of conservatism, as we have seen in the 2016 election. But it didn’t leave liberalism untouched either. Right now is the best moment for liberalism to win a decisive victory because the opponents are so morally and politically bankrupt. It’s not going to be easy, though, because the neoliberal attributes of alienation, lack of solidarity, self-absorption, etc are destroying the Left, too. 

What we need to do is to start noticing the ways in which we have absorbed neoliberal mentality. The manner in which the Left does politics today is so infected by neoliberal (or you can also say consumerist) mentality that it’s doomed to fail. 

Lilla is a great fan of the welfarist aspect of the nation-state. He believes that the praise of fluidity needs to stop and we should at least try to create a dam to the forces that are eroding the nation-state model. It is only within that model that anybody has at least tried to create welfare protections, so ditching it is a mistake.

I don’t know if it’s possible to resist the lure of neoliberal ideology. But I’m glad somebody is at least trying. As Lilla says, this is the kind of resistance we really need.