Camus on Totalitarian Impulses

Nicola Chiaromonte's paraphrase of a talk Albert Camus gave at Columbia a half century ago and more ends this way:

Now that Hitler has gone, we know a certain number of things. The first is that the poison which impregnated Hitlerism has not been eliminated; it is present in each of us. Whoever today speaks of human existence in terms of power, efficiency and "historical tasks" spreads it. He is an actual or potential assassin. For if the problem of man is reduced to any kind of "historical task," he is nothing but the raw material of history, and one can do anything one pleases with him. Another thing we have learned is that we cannot accept any optimistic conception of existence, any happy ending whatsoever. But if we believe that optimism is silly, we also know that pessimism about the action of man among his fellows is cowardly.

We opposed terror because it forces us to choose between murdering and being murdered; and it makes communication impossible. This is why we reject any ideology that claims control over all of human life.

Hoffer Spots a Trend

From Eric Hoffer, longshoreman and observer:

In all contemporary mass movements schoolmasters played a vital and often leading role. I am willing to bet that more than half of the leaders in Africa are ex-schoolmasters. In the Nazi movement grammar-school teachers played a prominent and fateful role. Now and then I am inclined to think that the passion to teach, which is far more powerful and primitive than the passion to learn, is a factor in the rise of mass movements. For what do we see in the Communist world? Half of the globe has been turned into a vast schoolroom with a thousand million pupils at the mercy of a band of maniacal schoolmasters.


Hoffer, Eric. Working and Thinking on the Waterfront, 1968 

Credentialing the Poets

From an English Departmental email

Next up is a poetry course. If you or someone you know on campus has an M.F.A. in poetry and is a practicing poet, please contact me, as we need your help designing and teaching this class.


Incel--the Endpoint of the Welfare State

“The 25-year-old man accused of mowing down pedestrians in Toronto with a van, killing 10 people and injuring 15 more, reportedly warned of an “Incel Rebellion” on Facebook before the attack, says Fox News. What is “incel” you ask? It stands for “involuntary celibates” and refers to low beta males or maybe gamma males who can’t get the women they want and are angry. Apparently, the group claims that since women will have nothing to do with them, the government should supply them with prostitutes.

I learned of all this in the last hour from a friend. After my initial shock and surprise, I realized that these losers are being perfectly consistent with Obama’s Jula ad and the trend of our beloved Welfare State. If safety is a right, if food is a right, if housing is a right, if education is a right, if healthcare is a right, if gender euphoria is a right, then why is sex not a right?

Of course, if these turn out to be a bunch of libertarian free market types or paleo cons, then they are crazy hypocritical whining narcissists. But if they are sjw types, or Democrats in general, then they are simply being consistent.

Just what IS the endpoint of the Welfare State? And how can we distinguish it from the Safety Net for those inclined to look to Big Brother, Sister Government to solve all problems.