The cycle comes round again


John Wilkins plagiarizes Bertrand Russell, changing a few words here and there, and it’s frighteningly accurate. Here we go, repeating history again, only the players have changed.

Comments

  1. taraskan says

    So, Russell was kind of a wanker? Really, how is that piece supposed to be valid today when it wasn’t valid in 1933? Hoover wasn’t a good president, but he didn’t cause the depression, lack of regulation did. 1933 was immediately followed by the most progressive decade in the country’s history. Some horde, that is. It’s clear Russell didn’t consider turn of the century socialist intellectuals to be worthy of the name, so it’s no wonder he conflated a flaw of capitalism with Eugene Debs destroying the opposition party for 12 years.

    Surely we can pull something stock from the red scare/mccarthyist ’50s to better suit the current climate than this drivel that you can attach to basically any decade of American politics and look smart with a pipe.

  2. taraskan says

    Also confirms everything I’ve ever suspected about the “special relationship”. 20th century Britons were happy pointing at America in praise, nudging their neighbors and remarking “We did that, you know.” But what was then a thoroughly European phenomenon/fascism fails to rally a 25% unemployment rate US, it’s all Yankland and Francis Fukushima bullshit.

  3. John Morales says

    From Bertrand’s essay:

    The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.

    Whenever and wherever does that not apply? :|

    taraskan:

    So, Russell was kind of a wanker

    !

    Really, how is that piece supposed to be valid today when it wasn’t valid in 1933?

    That “piece” is John Wilkins’ homage, not Russell’s 1933 “piece”. Conflating them is stupid.

    Surely we can pull something stock from the red scare/mccarthyist ’50s to better suit the current climate than this drivel that you can attach to basically any decade of American politics and look smart with a pipe.

    Really. So, you assert it was not valid in 1933, and you also assert it was something that you can attach to basically any decade of American politics.

    (If you want to dispute its relevance, you should actually (a) give some factual basis other than your assertion, and (b) not contradict yourself)

    But what was then a thoroughly European phenomenon/fascism fails to rally a 25% unemployment rate US, it’s all Yankland and Francis Fukushima bullshit.

    What? The unemployment rate in the USA is around 5%, quite similar to that of the UK.

    To the point: you want do dispute the claim, you should argue that it is not actually the case that, in the USA, the disaffected alt-right and Dominionists have come together whilst the progressive elements have been splintered.

    (“Together we stand, divided we fall”)

  4. consciousness razor says

    taraskan:
    Russell may have been a bit of a wanker at times, but he was talking about Germany. It will be the thing which “sinks to the level of a horde of Goths,” etc., not the US … at least not when he wrote it.

    It’s strange. Goths always get such a bad rap. They seem like they were fairly decent people to me.

    The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt. Even those of the intelligent who believe that they have a nostrum are too individualistic to combine with other intelligent men from whom they differ on minor points.

    Wanker should’ve told us which ones were the minor points and how such combinations work. Also, no telling why there’s one fundamental cause. I’ll give it 7/10.

  5. handsomemrtoad says

    Not “plagiarized”. Wilkins acknowledges the source.

    Bertrand Russell’s Principia Mathematica is great, but Gottlob Frege’s The Foundations of Arithmetic is even more important, and Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico Philosophicus is more fun.

  6. says

    “In this gloomy state of affairs, the brightest spot is Europe. In Europe democracy still appears well established, and those in power deal with what is amiss by constructive measures, not by pogroms and wholesale imprisonment.”

    Unfortunately, Europe is also heading in the same looney direction…

  7. Nogbert says

    Oh what’s the point. Disagree with the parallel but at least comprehend the simple analogy for what it is. Whats up with Taraskan.
    I’m with Morales here, ‘(“Together we stand, divided we fall”)’
    Stuff html btw. Too much effort compared to that required to actually read the bloody article by Wilkins/Russell for comprehension.
    I’m out, its 5:42 am where I am and sleep calls.

  8. says

    I disagree with the parallel, too. I have some problems with the original text – the idealization of the Enlightenment (“the world”, outside of Western Europe and the US, has seen a lot of setbacks in material well-being related to Enlightenment philosophies, and I tend to agree with Adorno and Horkheimer about the Dialectics of Enlightenment), the simplification in the opposition of “stupid” and “intelligent” (which can lead to dangerously underestimating the opponent, although I don’t think Russell was guilty of that) – but I do think Russells point is valid.

    However, I wonder if Trevor Noahs comparison of Trump to Zuma, or, with even clearer parallels, a comparison of Trump to Berlusconi wouldn’t be more to the point. Berlusconi was a guy with a construction business, ties to the Mafia (never strong enough to become juristically important), who collaborated with actual fascists, ruled as a corrupt authoritarian who never separated his business interests from his politics, and treated women in the most awful ways possible.

  9. says

    No, I actually hadn’t seen that. But yeah, the parallels are obvious (I forgot the fake tan!). Christoph Blocher in Switzerland is another populist cum capitalist, although he’s never been in power (due to the special Swiss system of power sharing). Both are what you’d consider right-wing populists, whereas Zuma (as well as, e.g. Zambia’s Michael Sata) used to be more of a left-wing populist (who is now himself being challenged from the “left” by his erstwhile student Malema). “Left” being a very loosely defined term in that regard.

  10. lostbrit says

    @taraskan #2

    Also confirms everything I’ve ever suspected about the “special relationship”. 20th century Britons were happy pointing at America in praise, nudging their neighbors and remarking “We did that, you know.”

    In Russell’s actual 1933 writing – linked to in the top of Wilkins’ post if you havent already found it – he says:

    In this gloomy state of affairs, the brightest spot is America. In America democracy still appears well established, and the men in power deal with what is amiss by constructive measures, not by pogroms and wholesale imprisonment. After the defeat of the French Revolution, democracy; discredited by the reign of terror, reconquered the world from America. Perhaps America is destined once more to save Europe from the consequences of its excesses.

    Seems like, in 1933 and at least for Bertrand Russell, the special relationship was still in place.

    However, just to be clear one person cant ever be seen to speak on behalf of a nation. I would have thought this was something Americans would be keen to point out.

  11. says

    Russell’s original essay was published before I was born but as a child in the Second World War I became aware of the horrors of Fascism and my one wish was that people would learn to live together in harmony – and never again ,,, ,,, but we never learn.

    Off we are going down the same road – only this time everyone had far more deadly weapons to destroy the imagined bogey men the Fascists believe are at the root of all evil – because they are incapable of looking in a mirror and seeing the irrational hate in their own eyes.

  12. says

    “The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
    or as Yeats put it:
    ” The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.”