Wednesday: Hili dialogue

April 19, 2023 • 6:45 am

by Greg Mayer

Good morning on Wednesday, April 19, 2023. Jerry is on his way back to Chicago from Paris, and will soon resume his full WEIT duties. He sent this photo of himself at the Paris airport this morning, adding, “My first morning coffee in eight days.”

And, when he took that one, he also found a photo from several years ago when he spent the night on his lab couch with an orphan duckling so he could hand it over to rehab at 4 a.m.:

Da Nooz

*The big news of the day is that Fox News has settled Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation suit for $787.5 million. That’s a lot of money– on the order of 20% of Fox’s cash on hand! A settlement had been widely expected when the judge delayed the trial by a day without explanation. The amount was more than I expected, since an analysis of Dominion’s business that I read indicated to me that they had generally done pretty well in expanding their business– I thought they might well win on the claim of actual malice, but receive much less then the $1.6 billion they asked for, since they had not suffered much demonstrable financial damage. Dominion argued that Fox had limited their future growth, which may well be the case in getting contracts with Trump-friendly election commissions, but it’s harder to demonstrate the counterfactual of what their profits would have been absent Fox’s attacks on them.

Fox also had to make a limited admission of fault:

We acknowledge the court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false.

This is less than a full acknowledgement of its errors and malice, but much more than the usual denial of all claims of the plaintiff by the defendant. Dominion’s lawyers are also issuing full-throated cries of “Qapla’.” Many plaintiffs are satisfied with monetary damages, and accede to the defendant’s demand for silence. Dominion did not agree to be gagged in exchange for the money, though Fox’s limited admission must be less than they desired.

*This isn’t news to those who have been paying attention, but the CBC seems surprised that philosopher and socialist Susan Neimanthat says that “‘woke-ism’ is not leftist” (ht: Brian Leiter). I have long made that point here at WEIT, noting that the most trenchant critiques of the “1619 project” were organized by the World Socialist Website, and that Marxist political scientist Adolph Reed has derided Kendian “antiracism” as a neoliberal alternative to an an actual Left. Identity politics is orthogonal to economic politics: Orban’s blood and soil nationalism is the mirror image of Kendi’s antiracism.

Like Jerry  (and Freddie deBoer), Neiman agonized over using the word “woke”:

I thought about it for a long time. I agonized about it. But it still seems to me that woke picks something out that we all recognize and that needs to be examined, even if it looks like it’s putting you in bad company.

Money quote:

Every place I go, I hear another story [about the excesses of wokeism]. Look, critical books are not being published, critical plays are not being presented. Or if they’re presented, they’re being rewritten in certain ways.

The idea of cultural appropriation, that cultural products belong to a member of a particular tribe, strikes me as against the concept of culture itself. That’s one kind of problem.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili seems concerned that, despite the fact that she is a card-carrying member of the order Carnivora, she might be on the menu:

Hili: An Eagle.
A: So what?
Hili: We’d better hide.
In Polish:
Hili: Orzeł.
Ja: I co?
Hili: Lepiej się schować.

33 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    797 – Empress Irene organizes a conspiracy against her son, the Byzantine emperor Constantine VI. He is deposed and blinded. Shortly after, Constantine dies of his wounds; Irene proclaims herself basileus. [Some mothers, eh?]

    1506 – The Lisbon Massacre begins, in which accused Jews are slaughtered by Portuguese Catholics.

    1770 – Captain James Cook, still holding the rank of lieutenant, sights the eastern coast of what is now Australia.

    1818 – French physicist Augustin Fresnel signs his preliminary “Note on the Theory of Diffraction” (deposited on the following day). The document ends with what we now call the Fresnel integrals.

    1903 – The Kishinev pogrom in Kishinev (Bessarabia) begins, forcing tens of thousands of Jews to later seek refuge in Palestine and the Western world.

    1927 – Mae West is sentenced to ten days in jail for obscenity for her play Sex.

    1943 – World War II: In German-occupied Poland, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising begins, after German troops enter the Warsaw Ghetto to round up the remaining Jews.

    1943 – Albert Hofmann deliberately doses himself with LSD for the first time, three days after having discovered its effects on April 16.

    1956 – Actress Grace Kelly marries Prince Rainier of Monaco.

    1971 – Launch of Salyut 1, the first space station.

    1971 – Charles Manson is sentenced to death (later commuted to life imprisonment) for conspiracy in the Tate–LaBianca murders.

    1987 – The Simpsons first appear as a series of shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show, first starting with “Good Night”.

    1993 – The 51-day FBI siege of the Branch Davidian building in Waco, Texas, USA, ends when a fire breaks out. Seventy-six Davidians, including eighteen children under the age of ten, died in the fire.

    1995 – Oklahoma City bombing: The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, USA, is bombed, killing 168 people including 19 children under the age of six.

    2020 – A killing spree in Nova Scotia, Canada, leaves 22 people and the perpetrator dead, making it the deadliest rampage in the country’s history.

    2021 – The Ingenuity helicopter becomes the first aircraft to achieve flight on another planet.

    1806 – Sarah Bagley, American labor organizer (d. 1889).

    1872 – Alice Salomon, German social reformer (d. 1948).

    1877 – Ole Evinrude, Norwegian-American engineer, invented the outboard motor (d. 1934).

    1903 – Eliot Ness, American law enforcement agent (d. 1957).

    1933 – Jayne Mansfield, American model and actress (d. 1967).

    1935 – Dudley Moore, English actor, comedian, and pianist (d. 2002).

    1942 – Alan Price, English keyboard player, singer, and composer.

    “Well, how many Ducks of Death have you met before, mate? What, what am I supposed to look like?

    1768 – Canaletto, Italian painter and etcher (b. 1697).

    1824 – Lord Byron, English-Scottish poet and playwright (b. 1788).

    1831 – Johann Gottlieb Friedrich von Bohnenberger, German astronomer and mathematician (b. 1765).

    1881 – Benjamin Disraeli, English journalist and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1804).

    1882 – Charles Darwin, English biologist and theorist (b. 1809).

    1906 – Pierre Curie, French physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1859).

    1967 – Konrad Adenauer, German politician, 1st Chancellor of Germany (b. 1876).

    1989 – Daphne du Maurier, English novelist and playwright (b. 1907).

    1992 – Frankie Howerd, English actor and screenwriter (b. 1917).

    2004 – John Maynard Smith, English biologist and geneticist (b. 1920).

    2009 – J. G. Ballard, English novelist, short story writer, and essayist (b. 1930).

    2021 – Jim Steinman, American composer, lyricist (b. 1947).

    1. As someone whose job requires him regularly to get down and dirty with politicians, I have this quotation attributed to Disraeli in my quiver to use in the fight.
      “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

      1. My favourite quote on the subject is:

        A politician uses statistics like a drunk uses a lamppost – more for support than for illumination.

    2. Thanks JezGrove,

      I am the lucky result of that pogrom in Kishinev as both my grandparents settled in Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1903. Your informative post reminds me that we, as a species, are still beset with many cruel atrocities and the future doesn’t seem to hold much promise for any enlightenment. Your inclusion of poets, artists and scientists provides some measure of hope, but. Hitchens is sadly correct in laying this mass psychosis on organized religion. Sadly, I concur with the recent ramblings of Noam Chomsky that the doomsday clock is ticking more rapidly, and to be an optimist is getting very difficult.


      1. “The doomsday clock is ticking more rapidly…” After reading this, I was reminded of No Country for Old Men.

  2. The photo of Jerry asleep with the ducking tells me more about his ethics, morals,
    and character than any article ever could.

  3. In settling I assume Dominion’s lawyers are acting in the interests of the company shareholders. An admission of guild, however muted, is probably enough to protect the hard nosed business interests.

    Fox News’ problems though are not over. The larger (2.7bn) Smartmatic lawsuit is still headed in their direction. A number of pundits pointed out in the last week that whatever they paid Dominion was the bare minimum that they’d need to settle this one.

    Dominion still has open individual suits against, Rudi, Sydney Powell et al. With less money at stake – or at less much less ability to make good on a judgement from these individuals, they will be free to drag Fox’s name through the dirt repeatedly over months in a public forum.

    1. “Fox News’ problems though are not over.” Good. Maybe when a couple of “News” corporations have gone broke over lawsuits like this, editors and journalists will remember that “reporting things as they are” was not such a bad idea after all.

  4. Yes, the critiques I’ve seen of wokeism from the Left tend to be that it jettisons the foundational concept of class for that of race. With regard to the ultimate object of both, the overthrow of Capitalism, I am not sure it makes much difference.

    1. Wokeism is perfectly happy with capitalism as it exists today. All the woke ask is that the rich be diverse. To the woke, as Adolph Reed said, “a society in which 1% of the population controlled 90% of the resources could be just, provided that roughly 12% of the 1% were black, 12% were Latino, 50% were women, and whatever the
      appropriate proportions were LGBT people.”


      1. But of course that distribution could arise only from violence which would destroy most of the wealth held by everybody, so it is something of a pointless supposition. Redistribution of wealth requires the destruction of wealth. And lives, too. That is the central message of communism, as DrB implies.

      2. I doubt very much that that would be satisfactory to the woke, because it never is. Also, a proportional distribution would mean that a significant share would still be held by cis-het white men, and we can’t have that, ’cause they are the worst, and they deserve to be punished for the privileges that cis-het white men that lived before them supposedly had.

  5. The “woke” fad is IMHO uniform, simplistic and formulaic – ignorant of individuals or degree / weighting – and is immune to standard criticism drawn from empiricism – because it is about power structures and socially-constructed knowledge – not falsification or observation.

    The critical-theoretical intersectionalist ideology is met with no competition, and appears in conversation as if no questions or objections will be raised, so it survives. IMHO the ideology is as risible as a “pomo” hoax paper.

    I arrive at those conclusions based on James Lindsay’s writing here – the piece on The 1619 Project or “fat studies” serves as a good example :

    1. Just real short – meant to link this one. See excerpt for reason:

      “It is impossible to overstate the central relevance of problematizing to the Theory and praxis of Critical Social Justice. This is because problematizing is the chief epistemological tool of any critical theory, […]”

      “[…] problematics are what critical theories criticize, and problematizing is how it does its criticism.”

      (Again, writer is James Lindsay)

  6. Thank you for the continuity Greg, Jez, and the always-faithful Andrejz (apologize for spelling). The discussions of wokeism on this website has been extremely helpful and I look forward to understanding this morning’s discussion.

  7. The 1619 Project has been severely criticized for being wokeism run amok. Particular criticism has been leveled at the assertion that the American revolutionaries broke away from Britain primarily or to a large degree to protect slavery. As a result some historians and those that parrot them have essentially denied that the protection of slavery played no role as a cause of the Revolution because there is supposedly no evidence to support this. To admit that slavery played a role would be challenge the fairy tale version of American history. Yet, there is direct evidence that most historians are not aware of this or have chosen to ignore. I present the proof below.

    There is a scholarly quarterly journal called Reviews In American History. Each edition is composed of professional historians reviewing the works of other professional historians. I draw your attention to volume 45(2017), pages 588-594, which consists of a review of several books on slavery by historian Douglas Ambrose. Note that this review was published before the appearance of the 1619 Project. This journal can be found at the Project Muse site (paywalled I fear). Ambrose starts off his essay with this:

    In November 1785, more than 150 “free Inhabitants of the County of Lunenberg,”Virginia, affixed their names to a petition to the General Assembly.Aroused by a “daring attempt . . . to wreste from us . . . the most valuable and indispensable Article of our property, our Slaves, by a general Emancipation of them,” the petitioners reminded their representatives of what the recent Revolution—to their minds—was all about. When the British Parliament “usurp’d a right to Dispose of our Property” and sought “to establish a principle which might one day prove fatal to our rights of Property . . . we dissolved our union with our parent Country” in order “to fix a Tenure in our property on a Basis of Security not to be shaken in the future.” Talk of emancipation aroused their anger, for such an action would have betrayed what they had fought for: “Title to the full, free, and absolute Enjoyment of every species of Property, whatsoever, or howsoever legally acquired.” Aware that several prominent Virginians endorsed the idea of general emancipation, these “free independent Citizens” insisted that their efforts to secure their property constituted a “Purchase of too great a Value to be sacrificed to the Caprice, or Interest of any rank or Description of Men, however dignified or distinguished.” Confident in their understanding of the Revolution, they rose to oppose emancipation and defy any “dignified or distinguished” men who advocated it.

    The Lunenberg County petitioners, and the hundreds of other white Virginians who signed similar petitions in 1784 and 1785, remind us that the meaning of the Revolution found expression among countless common people as well
    as the elite. Their understanding of that meaning should caution us against seeing the Revolution as necessarily in tension with slavery. The petitioners sought to protect their private property in human beings as well as in land. And they declared that the “sacred Constitution” of Virginia best expressed and secured the meaning of the Revolution.


    Here it is, clear as bell, and irrefutable: some Virginians openly and without shame stated they fought the Revolution to protect slavery. Of course, this doesn’t mean that all Americans fought the Revolution to protect slavery. Certainly, northern colonists did not do so. Yet, some did. It is a stain on the historical profession that Ambrose’s research has not been addressed by those that claim that the protection of slavery played no role in the coming of the Revolution.

    1. To me, the biggest problem (among many) of the 1619 Project is that they claim that 1619 is the real foundation of the US because that is when the first enslaved person is alleged to have been brought here and all developments that led to the founding of the US sprang from that.

      But your argument above points to the truth; the foundation of the US had many, varied roots. Some were noble, some not; some for personal profit while some worked for the public good, and some were undoubtedly criminal. One small root was this group of framers in Virginia Ambrose mentions. 1619 Project would have the entire colonial congress comprised of those farmers. That is a lie.

      It seems to me that “history” is often little more than the currently accepted set of lies.

    2. Sorry this is long but I think it is concise : From New Discourses, J. Lindsay’s 1619 entry :

      “… to attempt to refute the 1619 Project through genuine and established historical methods is, from the perspective of critical race Theory and its devotees, to reassert the need for the 1619 Project and its approach in the first place.”

      “The strategy is simple. A critical counterstory such as we have in the 1619 Project is forwarded with the express purpose of generating debate around its validity and the critiques it raises. The next step is to characterize that debate in terms of the relevant power dynamics addressed by the discrepancies between the narratives of the counterstory and the story it seeks to replace.”

      “People are therefore forced to pick a side not between truth and falsity [… but either ] with oppression or [with] liberation from oppression.”

      “The most obvious way to undermine the 1619 Project in specific, then, is not to argue about matters of historical fact […]; it’s to point out that it erases the earlier and more severe suffering of American (see also, USian) indigenous people who were genuinely enslaved and subjected to genocide by the Spanish starting almost a century earlier (see also, settler of color).”

    3. The Lunenberg County petition was written after the fact of the successful revolution. The petitioners, speaking for themselves, may have been engaging in some historical revisionism of their own. They may have been writing truthfully about why they went to war but it may be an act of projection to say that’s why “we” —who’s we, anyway?, all 13 colonies?— went to war. Unless you have minutes from meetings of the ringleaders of the Revolution in the 1774-1776 period, when leaders were still taking counsel about whether to go to rebellion and what the terms of a pan-alliance against Britain would be, I don’t think the Lunenberg petition of 1785 says much. Surely the northern signers of the Declaration of Independence were perfectly aware that many or most southern signers expected that slavery would continue in whatever republic(s) emerged from the ashes. A good question is whether the North would have, could have, or ought to have said, “Well if the only reason you’re signing the D of I is to keep the British from someday abolishing slavery, then forget it. We don’t want your allegiance on those terms. We’re going to force the same on you first chance we get ourselves. anyway.” Would either bloc have been able to beat the British on its own? What if one defected part way through? I suppose many of the signers figured they might not survive the rebellion—hanged separately as Franklin warned—so slavery was a can they kicked down the road.

      I was not aware of the Lunenberg County petition. I can tell you as a foreigner that I was never taught that the American Revolution was ever “in tension” with slavery. If anything it was in tension with Emancipation, given that it persisted longer in America than in the British Empire excepting India. The anti-slavery elements in the North were perfectly willing to make common cause with their slave-owning brethren in order to get rid of the British. In that light, you can see why the Virginians would be pissed that those sneaky abolitionists were now trying, so soon after southern blood had spilled, to bring in general emancipation. “You lied!!” is all it says to me.

      1. If I read you correctly, you seem to think that the petitioners were addressing the national government. This was not the case. The country was still under the Articles of Confederation, pretty much a toothless document. They were petitioning the legislature of the state of Virginia. The northern states (or any other state) had nothing to do with their complaint. At this time, even in the South, there was a general sentiment that slavery was bad and should be abolished someday. Of course, any concrete plan of emancipation (which would have taken many decades to effectuate – it would not have been immediate) failed in the Virginia legislature. Thus, the fears of the petitioners (and others that Ambrose implies) were not realized. There is no reason to doubt that the petitioners were telling the truth as to their motive (perhaps one of many) as to why they revolted against Britain. The basic point stands: some revolutionaries (we will never know how many), in contrast to the assertions of some historians, feared that Britain threatened their property in slaves. This was their perception. Whether this perception was based in reality is a different story.

        1. Yes, of course you’re right. There was no national government at the time. My important mistake.

  8. As I mentioned on here once before, a small dog belonging to a friend of mine was carried off by an eagle. The eagle eventually dropped the dog, but he was so mangled (one eye was gouged out) that he had to be put to sleep. If an eagle can carry off a rabbit or a small dog, it can carry off a cat. I wish someone would tell Hili’s staff that she is right to be concerned.

  9. “The amount was more than I expected, since an analysis of Dominion’s business that I read indicated to me that they had generally done pretty well in expanding their business…”

    At the other hand if they proceed with the lawsuit until the end, Fox might be very well forced to air “corrections”, that is, admit in its own program, to its own audience that they lied to them. So far they completely avoided this, there was absolute minimum coverage of the events.
    So Fox’s lawyers probably knew that the ruled money would be much less than this, but at the other hand Dominion’s lawyers knew that Fox wants to avoid a verdict like that at any cost.

  10. Regardless of whether it fits into a Marxist definition of “Left”, current wokeish orthodoxy resembles an earlier fashion trend on part of the Left in its subordination of everything to Theory. A lifetime ago, a grandiose, over-arching, reductive, crude Marxism was commonplace on the pop-Left, and underlay apologetics for what was called the “Bolshevik experiment”. It taught that human consciousness is a secondary effect of the relations of production and distribution. The corollary was that if the relations of production were just Socialized, this would automatically generate the desired new, improved, form of human consciousness. Results in such cases as the GDR and the USSR were not exactly promising. In the latter case, 70 years of socialized production nurtured the GULAG, the NKVD, the robber-baron oligarchs of the 1990s, and the consciousnesses of such paragons as V. Putin and Y. Prigozhin.

    The experiment’s disastrous failure did not dampen enthusiasm for grand Theory on the pop-Left. The dream of joining “the right side of History”, as if history were a parade, induces such emotional satisfaction that parade fans came up with a new grandiose, over-arching, reductive formula for the 21st century. The new one, DEIism, is a mashup of postmodernist clichés, assorted Critical Grievance Theories from academic mock scholarship, and the therapeutic language of the educational consultant industry. Implementation of its program (or the DEIshchina, following Russian usage,) can be expected to yield results at least as brilliant as those of the “Bolshevik experiment”.

  11. “We acknowledge the court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false.”

    Sadly, this statement is no admission whatsoever by Fox, and it’s extremely disappointing that this is all Dominion was willing to demand from Fox. This statement is simply an acknowledgment of the public record, i.e., that THE COURT found that “certain claims” were false. It does not in the least suggest that Fox agrees or even accepts the court’s findings, nor does it even acknowledge that the claims the court found to be false were claims made BY FOX.

  12. I can see why Dominion settled, as Fox could have dragged this on for months or maybe even years with appeals and Dominion would probably be left with the same amount of dosh. But it does suck that we won’t be able to see Carlson, et. al. squirming on the stand, admitting their lies and obfuscation. I doubt most Fox viewers even know about the lawsuit and the admission of the hosts that they listen to every day are lying propagandists.

    What’s really sad about this entire affair is the millions of Fox viewers themselves. They want to be lied to; they don’t want to know the truth that their guy, chosen by god himself, lost the election; of course the election was stolen, how can god lose a fair election? (Putting aside god’s omnipotence.) Fox was the first network to call Arizona for Biden. They were telling the truth after Biden won, but they soon learned that millions of people were fleeing the network for Newsmax and other far-right outlets that were continuing to say the election was stolen. So greed became Fox’s fulcrum and all their hosts began disseminating the Big Lie and blaming Dominion and supporting other conspiracy theories that the election was stolen. I’m sure much of their audience came back, once their confirmation bias was again being satiated by the Big Lies. That’s a scary reality.

    1. Back when Trump had lost yet was still in office and pushing his lies and conspiracy theories, I somehow came across a fellow on YouTube that said he was giving up on Fox News because they had actually said things that contradicted Trump’s claims, that wasn’t acceptable to him, so he was switching to one of those even more extreme “news” channels (I can’t remember the name) that said what he wanted to hear.

      Around the same time I saw a comment by an extreme conservative religious science fiction writer (he had been involved in the Hugo voting mess, if you’re familiar) who had been at the Washington DC rally on Jan 6 and he had a view of the country that I think would seem insane to most in the mainstream. One of the things he mentioned was that he believed almost all of the US news organizations are part of a conspiracy and constantly lying. He believed Satan was involved too.

      The point is that it’s not that these people want to be lied to, but rather have built a bubble of belief around themselves that is so far from reality they can’t accept actual facts.

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