Back to School: Life in Palestine (1)

So how was your child’s first day of school? It’s always so traumatic, sending the little tykes off on their own, isn’t it? At least it didn’t involve tear gas and an altercation with the military.

Well, here, by contrast, is the first day of school for the Palestinian children of the (Palestinian) village of Tuk’u, in the West Bank, near Bethlehem. According to my sources, the school day began with an unprovoked incursion into town by the Israeli military, and descended from there into a tear gas fusillade, a chaotic detention of a few school children, and various other sorts of mayhem, only imperfectly captured in the video and stills below. I’ve spent time in this village, and villages like it, across five trips to the region, the most recent one in the summer of 2019, my last trip before the pandemic struck. Testimony from first-hand experience: the Israeli military invades villages like Tuk’u, Beit Ummar, Abu Dis, Sawahera, Surif, and Halhul essentially at will, going out of its way to target school-aged children, and imprisoning them indefinitely without charge. Better to instill the fear early than wait until they understand the need for it. That’s just what a military occupation is.

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9/11 + 20

This Saturday marks the twentieth anniversary of 9/11. To that end, I thought I’d haul out some of the more edifying things I’ve written over the years about, or of relevance to, 9/11. In doing this, I’m to some extent plagiarizing at least the form of Chris Sciabarra’s most recent blog post at his blog, summarizing the twenty annual posts he’s written about 9/11. But plagiarism in this case is intended more as a tribute than as mere theft. If you read one thing about 9/11, you should read Chris’s Post of Posts.

The old World Trade Center site, April 2017.
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New Blogger: Kevin Carson

Having welcomed a new blogger yesterday, I’d like to welcome yet another–Kevin Carson, who’s agreed to blog at Policy of Truth. I figured that PoT hadn’t gotten sufficiently left-wing and anarchist, so it was time to up the ante. Sectarian designations aside, I thought Kevin was just the guy to shake this place up a little. The twenty years he’s spent working in hospitals (and the insight he brings to the subject) also coheres nicely with PoT’s recent focus on issues in health care. That said, I’ve given Kevin carte blanche to write on whatever he wants, including re-publishing the posts he writes for other outlets, and/or serializing the various book/paper manuscripts he’s always working on.

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He’s Immune to Parody, Too

Jason’s Brennan’s self-parodic idea of a parody, titled “I Am Immune to Criticism” (my italics):

I’ve decided to copy-cat a style of argumentation which is prominent among democrats and socialists in the philosophy literature. This move will now render me and my work immune from criticism.

By epistocracy, I henceforth mean not only a system that gives greater weight to the wise during voting, but which actually makes substantively wise decisions! Thus, any time a seemingly epistocratic decision-system makes a bad choice–such as a choice that runs afoul of the demographic objection–it wasn’t *true* or *real* epistocracy! Epistocracy by definition always makes the wisest choices. Therefore, to oppose epistocracy is to oppose good choices and favor bad ones.

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Afghanistan: So Worth It

Frederick Kagan in The New York Times, on the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban:

Reasonable people can disagree about the wisdom of keeping American military forces in Afghanistan indefinitely, even at very low numbers. I and others have argued that the investment, including the risk to American personnel, is worth it to prevent militant groups from once again overrunning the country.

Maybe, after Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, it’s time to ask what it means when people say “it’s worth it” to fight wars. What’s worth what, to whom, how and why? Anyone who wants to go and fight for Kabul or Kandahar is free to go and give it another 20 years of their life, on the model of the Lincoln Brigades in the Spanish Civil War. But that doesn’t mean it’s worth another 20 years of ours.

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Character-Based Voting FTW

Lorenz Kraus is (or was) a candidate for US Senate, based in Troy, New York. My knowledge of his candidacy is based on about ten minutes’ Internet search after he sent me a crank email cc’d to Counter-Currents Publishing, a white nationalist website, among other recipients. Ten minutes is all it took to figure out that Kraus was a crank, and all it would have taken to figure out not to vote for him.

How? Because Kraus’s entire campaign is based on anti-Semitism of a wild, overt, over-the-top sort. No need to hash through the details; once was enough for me. If you don’t want to take my word for it, spend maybe ten minutes scrolling through his Twitter feed below (underneath the separator), or whatever else comes up in a Google search. If it takes you more than ten minutes, you’re doing it wrong.

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McCormick-Taber Seminar in Philosophy Redux

About twenty years ago, PoT blogger Michael Young and I started a philosophy discussion group that we somewhat pretentiously called The McCormick-Taber Seminar in Philosophy (MTSP), idiosyncratically named for the locations where the first seminars took place in the early 2000s: McCormick Park in Princeton, New Jersey, where I lived at the time, and Taber Avenue in Providence, Rhode Island, where Michael lived.* We self-consciously conceived the group as a successor to David Kelley’s so-called Institute for Objectivist Studies, in which the two of us were involved, or perhaps over-involved, during the 1990s.  

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