Sunday, 25 February 2007


The Stooges—fronted by Iggy Pop—were rock ’n’ roll pioneers. I have the band’s three original albums on compact disc: The Stooges (1969), Fun House (1970), and Raw Power (1973). “Search and Destroy” (from Raw Power) is one of the greatest songs ever made. Here is a New York Times story about the band.

How to Do Things with Words

The New York City councilman mentioned in this story needs to read J. L. Austin. He doesn’t understand the difference between words and their uses, which is like not understanding the difference between kitchen utensils and their uses. Nor, shockingly, does he understand that words can be used ironically, sarcastically, hyperbolically, metaphorically, and subversively, as well as literally. What a moron.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Your editorial says that “as much as we claim to be a nation of immigrants, we have thwarted them at every turn.” We do not thwart them. Every year, this country is very generous compared with other countries in the number of immigrants and refugees admitted.

In 1986, the last time Congress “fixed” illegal immigration, a “one time” amnesty was granted to three million undocumented workers. One of the traditions of our immigrant nation is respect for the law. We should not reward lawbreakers with another amnesty, no matter what it is called.

Any amnesty will encourage even more to enter this country illegally and reward businesses by allowing them to use illegal workers, further depressing the wages of American citizens.

Robert F. LaPorta
Dix Hills, N.Y., Feb. 18, 2007


Here is the New York Times story about Stage 6 of the Tour of California.

A Year Ago


Allan Bloom (1930-1992) on A Theory of Justice

What Rawls creates is an enormously active government whose goal is to provide the primary goods, including the sense of one’s own worth, and therefore to encourage the attitudes that support the production and equal distribution of those goods. What can the future of liberty be in such a scheme? Liberty is, to be sure, Rawls’s first principle of justice, but it is qualified by having to be “compatible with a similar liberty for others.” Rawls does not elaborate the extent of that qualification. There is, to repeat, no natural-right teaching in Rawls, no absolute limit of any kind. All freely chosen life-plans must be restricted by the fundamental demands of social union. Conflict will be resolved practically and theoretically in favor of society. We have only Rawls’s assurance that nothing important can fail to find acceptance within the terms set by the original position. Man’s plasticity, made even greater by the absence of nature and its limits, permits all those little adjustments in men which will make the idea of social union possible. Society is the one absolute in Rawls’s thought, although it is without foundation.

And what is the purpose of all of this? An artificial happiness of an artificial man. Rawls’s promised society is a desert. It feeds on false tales—stories about its being the final product of evolution and history, stories that make unequal things appear to be equal. Democracy, which was to free us from the myths which perverted nature, becomes the platform for a strident propaganda that denies nature for the sake of equality, as the myths of conventional aristocracies denied nature for the sake of inequality. The community desired is one without tension, without guilt (except for those who do not go along), without longing, without great sacrifices or great risks, one made for men’s idle wishes and for the sake of which man has been remade. The language of maximum liberty, diversity and realization of capacities is so much empty talk, the only function of which is to support our easygoing self-satisfaction.

(Allan Bloom, “Justice: John Rawls Vs. The Tradition of Political Philosophy,” The American Political Science Review 69 [June 1975]: 648-62, at 662)

Safire on Language