March 23, 2019

Song of the Day #1631

Song of the Day: Pour Some Sugar On Me is credited to Joe Elliott, Robert John "Mutt" Lange, Phil Collen, Steve Clark, and Rick Savage, and was a hit single from the 12x platinum-selling 1987 album, "Hysteria", by English hard rock band Def Leppard. Today kicks off our seven-day tribute to the seven inductees, which constitute the Class of 2019, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I'm paying special attention to this year's induction ceremony because it is taking place for the fourth time in the last five years in Brooklyn, New York at the Barclays Center. An HBO special of the event will air on April 27, 2019. Each day over the next week, I will devote to one of the inductees en route to the March 29th ceremony. I could think of no better song to kick off our tribute than one that's hot, sticky, and sweet. Check out the official video of the song and the extended version [YouTube links].

March 22, 2019

Getting Old, Ageism, and The Alternative

Yesterday, Paul Jacob had an absolutely classic piece on his Common Sense site, an essay called "Trans-philosophical." Apparently, The Journal of Medical Ethics published a piece by Joona Rasanen, a bioethicist, who argues that individuals who feel that their legal age does not correspond to their "experienced" age should be allowed to legally change their age. And this was published in a peer-reviewed academic journal.

Well, having recently turned 59, I have been reminded that, yes, I'm getting old, or at least older.

But today, I read in the New York Daily News that Jimmy Carter, now 94 years and 172 days old, has become the longest-living President in the history of the United States. While not a fan of Carter when he was President, I do have to applaud one thing he said in 1998:

What could possibly be good about growing old? The most obvious answer, of course, is to consider the alternative to aging. . . . But there are plenty of other good answers --- many based on our personal experiences and observations.

Or as another President, John Adams (who also made it to 90) once said: "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."

And the fact is, biologically and temporally, you are what you are. And in the end, does it really matter? We are all headed in the same direction anyway. What matters most is not your biological age, but how youthful you are in spirit.

And on that score, Trans-Ageists be damned! I'm still a kid with all the wondrous spirit of a 2 year old!

Being Dialectical About Dialectics or Finding Courage Through Criticism

My friend Nick Manley posted this on Facebook:

I still think there is nothing wrong with being cowardly or if there is: you can remind yourself that nobody's perfect or without "sin", but I do really wonder what I could do for left-wing market anarchism were I more courageous and fearless on taking action on behalf of it.
If Chris Matthew Sciabarra could endure what he did in terms of both scholarly and personal critiques to bring the world the notion of dialectical methodology being useful for free market libertarians: why can't I? It isn't like I haven't tested the potentially hostile waters before and came out still alive so to speak.
I didn't get involved in libertarian anarchism to be part of some exclusive social club or cult. I got involved to change the world for the better.

I replied on Facebook, and wanted to share my reply with Notablog readers; I wrote:

Nick Manley, my friend, it saddens me that you put yourself through so much self-torture, worrying about what others might say or think about what you say or think (though with all due respect, you're not inside their minds, and you never really know what other people may be thinking or why they say the things they do).

Understand this: I went through about 35-40 years of criticisms from left and right over "dialectical libertarianism"... but I didn't tie my self-concept to whether I was right or wrong. Instead, I answered the criticisms to the best of my ability, did more reading, and by the time I got to the final book of my trilogy, I tried to address every criticism that was raised with regard to the concept of dialectics that I had endorsed ("the art of context-keeping") and the need to tie that method to the defense of a free society.

Did I succeed? I have no clue. I only know that I welcomed the criticism, even those criticisms that were, for lack of a better phrase, completely idiotic---because they attempted to tie me to certain notions of dialectical method that I had clearly not endorsed. So I spent half of Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism literally re-writing and reconstructing the history of dialectics as a concept---in the first three chapters, followed by a whole chapter that developed a definition of dialectics and to unpacking that definition and its implications for social inquiry.

And guess what? I was still criticized, and will be criticized long after I am gone, despite hundreds of footnotes and citations to this or that source. It comes with the territory. I'm still learning. I practically live for the dialogue (after all, the dialectical method was born, in its first manifestations, from the very notion of dialogue---looking at things from different perspectives and on different levels of generality, and not reifying a single one-sided perspective as if it were the whole).

But one really good thing happened. After nearly four decades of being the voice of one crying in the wilderness (and we all know what happened to the last guy who had that voice of one crying in the wilderness), I have now coedited with two colleagues (Roger Bissell and Ed Younkins) a forthcoming volume (The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom) with contributions from 19 scholars (including myself) who are not afraid to utter the words "dialectics" and "liberty" in the same sentence.

But guess what? I don't even agree with what every scholar in the book has done with the notion of a 'dialectical libertarianism'---and I suspect that the contributors to the volume would disagree with one another on the various dialectical applications that each of them has made in their respective essays. But this is a good thing. It shows that the very notion of a dialectical libertarianism includes vigorous differences even among those who adhere to its core premises, which makes it a living research program for future scholarship, going in directions that none of us might be able to predict, given that it will be applied in various contexts and innumerable ways as circumstances change over time.

Welcome the differences! Work on not tying your self-worth to a cause, but on developing your self-worth as an unfolding project of its own. It may or may not include that cause, but be open to the possibility that that cause itself will also unfold and evolve over time.

I know, I know, all this is easier said than done. There will be days that you'll read a criticism of your work in a book or on social media and want to pick up your laptop and throw it against a wall. The real courage that you need to develop is the courage to accept your self-doubt, the courage to question yourself, and the courage to accept the fact that you are growing and will never stop expanding the boundaries of your knowledge. And in order to do that, you need critics---some will be friendly, some will be hostile; some will say worthwhile things, some won't. But none of it is a reflection of who you are, and to me, you've been a kind, supportive, gentle soul who doesn't give himself enough credit for what he knows already.

Mucho love from Brooklyn. Hang in there.

March 14, 2019

The Mafia in NYC: Dead and Alive

Just the other day, it was reported that longtime Colombo family boss, Carmine Persico, died at the age of 85. It prompted a discussion among a couple of friends as to whether the Mafia was really a force in organized crime anymore. Seemingly crushed in the 1980s by a series of then-federal prosecutor Rudy Giuliani's indictments and convictions of "Five Family" major Mafia figures, the Italian-American contingent of organized crime was rocked to its core. We remembered back in the 1970s and early 1980s, how often we'd watch our local WABC's "Eyewitness News," with report after report [YouTube links] by famed journalist Milton Lewis ("Now listen to this") about the comings and literal goings of Mafia chieftains.

So it came as an almost creepy surprise this morning when we awoke to hear a report by John Montone on the "all news all the time" AM radio station, 1010 WINS, that Gambino-family crime boss Frank "Franky Boy" Cali was gunned down outside his Todt Hill house in Staten Island last night, the first Mafia rub-out in New York City since the Paul Castellano hit in 1985, ordered by Dapper Don John Gotti! (Jeez, did he have to have the last name, Cali, which is the first name of my cat, who has no ties to organized crime?)

Montone ended his report with a bit of his classic, stinging sarcasm, saying that there was no gun found at the scene, and no cannolis either [YouTube "Godfather" link]!

March 04, 2019

Song of the Day #1630

Song of the Day: Beverly Hills 90210 ("Main Theme") [YouTube link], composed by John E. Davis, opened up the coming-of-age television teen drama during its ten-year run on Fox. It was a guilty pleasure, I admit, but I watched all ten seasons, and at least one of its various spin-offs ("Melrose Place"). As in all teen-age soap operas, the series had one brooding young male character, and in '90210', it was Dylan McKay, played by Luke Perry, who died today at the age of 52, due to complications from a massive stroke. The only person I ever actually visited from that zip code was Nathaniel Branden, back in 1999. Today, however, is a date seared into my own memory---for my own father died on March 4, 1972, at the age of 55 from a massive coronary. As you get older, it's only natural that you are reminded of your own mortality, but at the age of 59, you tend to think that this happens to folks older than you. At some point, of course, the mathematics tend to outweigh the thoughts. Still, at 52, Perry is another person gone too soon. RIP, Luke. RIP, Dad.

February 27, 2019

The Dialectics of Liberty: A New Anthology is On The Way!

It is my distinct honor---and pleasure---to formally announce a forthcoming book: The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom, a trailblazing collection of essays by a diverse group of scholars, coming from a variety of disciplines and perspectives. The anthology has been coedited by Roger E. Bissell, Chris Matthew Sciabarra, and Edward W. Younkins. It is slated for publication by Lexington Books in June 2019 and it is sure to be a provocative read for anyone interested in liberty and the contexts that nourish---or undermine---it.

Readers can find the book's home page here (which is redirected from both Dialectics of Liberty.com and Dialectics and Liberty.com). As we state on our abstracts page:

These essays explore ways that liberty can be better defended using a dialectical approach, a mode of analysis that grasps the full context of philosophical, cultural, and social factors requisite to the sustenance of human freedom. The contributors represent a variety of disciplines and perspectives who apply explicitly dialectical tools to a classical liberal / libertarian analysis of social and cultural issues. By conjoining a dialectical method, typically associated with the socialist left, to a defense of individual liberty, typically associated with the libertarian right, this anthology challenges contemporary attitudes on both ends of the political spectrum.

Abstracts for all the articles that are included in the anthology can be found here and contributor biographies can be found here. For those who just can't wait to read through those links, here is a glimpse of what to expect:

Table of Contents

Introduction - Roger E. Bissell, Chris Matthew Sciabarra, Edward W. Younkins

Part I: Foundations and Systems of Liberty

Chapter 1: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism - Chris Matthew Sciabarra

Chapter 2: Freedom and Flourishing: Toward a Synthesis of Traditions and Disciplines - Edward W. Younkins

Chapter 3: The Unchained Dialectic and the Renewal of Libertarian Inquiry - John F. Welsh

Chapter 4: Whence Natural Rights? - Douglas Den Uyl and Douglas B. Rasmussen

Chapter 5: Dialogical Arguments for Libertarian Rights - Stephan Kinsella

Chapter 6: Dialectical Psychology: The Road to Depassement - Robert L. Campbell

Part II: Government, Economy, and Culture

Chapter 7: Don Lavoie's Dialectical Liberalism - Nathan Goodman

Chapter 8: Free Speech, Rhetoric, and a Free Economy - Deirdre Nansen McCloskey

Chapter 9: Exploring the Interconnections of Politics, Economics, and Culture - Robert Higgs

Chapter 10: Context Matters: Finding a Home for Labor-Managed Enterprise - David L. Prychitko

Chapter 11: The Dialectic of Culture and Markets in Expanding Family Freedom - Steven Horwitz

Chapter 12: Up from Oppression: Triumph and Tragedy in the Great American Songbook - Roger E. Bissell

Part III: Justice, Liberation, and Rights

Chapter 13: Why Libertarians Should Be Social Justice Warriors - Roderick T. Long

Chapter 14: Radical Liberalism and Social Liberation - Gary Chartier

Chapter 15: Social Equality and Liberty - Billy Christmas

Chapter 16: Formal vs. Substantive Statism: A Matter of Context - Kevin A. Carson

Chapter 17: The Political Is Interpersonal: An Interpretation and Defense of Libertarian Immediatism - Jason Lee Byas

Chapter 18: Aesthetics, Ritual, Property, and Fish: A Dialectical Approach to the Evolutionary Foundations of Property - Troy Camplin

Index

About the Editors and Contributors

********************

Anyone taking a look at the contributors to this book might be scratching their heads a bit, wondering how some of the authors associated with the volume may very well not associate themselves with the views of other authors herein represented. Let me say by way of introduction, that this collection falls under the category of "Big Tent" classical liberalism / libertarianism: It is not presented as a monolithic view of what a dialectical approach to human freedom must be. Rather, it is a sign of the fruitful interplay of ideas and theories that might result when classical liberal and libertarian thinkers adopt a context-sensitive dialectical approach, making their political project a living research program that will necessarily generate a variety of perspectives, united only in their ideological commitment to freedom and their methodological commitment to a dialectical sensibility.

I should just add that this is purely an announcement: I'd like to save the debates for when the book is published and folks actually have a chance to read the essays, before passing judgments, either positive or negative on the contents of the volume. I know that our authors would greatly appreciate critical feedback; but nothing advances human knowledge when judgments are reached on the basis of reading short abstracts or brief biographies. Suffice it to say: We are going to have plenty of time and many forums in which to debate the contents of this book.

For now, I would simply like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to my hard-working fellow editors, and our remarkable group of superb scholars, whose commitment to the project has been a delight to behold.

So many more Notablog posts with further information on the forthcoming book to come ...

Postscript: This Notablog announcement was shared on Facebook by quite a few people, reaching potentially thousands of readers. I'm delighted by the response, and added a few points in several threads. The most important point I made, however, was in response to some folks who criticized the inclusion of people whose views they oppose. Here was my response:

If I may add a point: One of the reasons that folks as diverse as Stephan Kinsella and Kevin Carson are in the same volume is because each applies a dialectical sensibility to the topic of their essays; we wanted a volume that would represent the wide range of perspectives and disciplines that might be engaged in a genuinely radical classical liberal / libertarian research program.
And if I may be so bold: I think that the volume constitutes a virtual paradigmatic shift in its explicit embrace of a dialectical sensibility in furtherance of a radical libertarian social theory. From the early 1980s through to the publication of my Dialectics and Liberty trilogy (from 1995 to 2000), I felt like "the voice of one crying in the wilderness." But I argued that many classical liberals and contemporary libertarians had already embraced a dialectical approach to libertarian social theory, even if they had not named it as such. That today, 30+ years after I started this project, I am a co-editor of a volume that features such talented scholars who are not afraid to utter the words "dialectic" and "liberty" in the same sentence is of great significance to me. I'm very proud to be associated with this project, and prouder still of the work that each author contributed to it. It's a Big Tent folks: Get under it! :)

Postscript II: The debate over the contents and its contributors has continued, so I made the following observation on one of the Facebook threads:

I have to admit that if this is how worked up folks are getting over the list of contents and contributors, i just can't imagine what will happen when the book is actually released and its contents are actually read, comprehended, and commented upon.
As a matter of fact, even I don't agree with every essay in the book; this is of little consequence, however. What was more important to me was to amass a group of writers from every discipline and a variety of perspectives, who demonstrated an attention to the larger context within which freedom might be nourished---or undermined. There is not a single author in this book who does not qualify on those grounds. I may disagree with the way some folks apply certain dialectical tools of analysis to their subject matter, but in a sense, the book itself is an example of the very "dialectics" of liberty it proposes, at least in terms of its original intent of meaning: that in viewing the issues at hand, we look at them from as many different vantage points and on many different levels of generality as is possible, to reveal relationships that might be obscured by one-dimensional readings.
Even in disagreeing with this or that author, it is my hope that folks, especially those who adhere to classical liberal / libertarian ideas, might actually embrace the "rivalrous" readings offered in this volume, in much the same way that they embrace the "rivalrous competition" they extol as one of the virtues of free markets. Embrace the differences; you don't have to agree. But celebrate the fact that the editors had the audacity to put this volume together and that the contributors, even those that found themselves on opposite sides of certain issues, were courageous enough to be a part of what is sure to be a provocative, trailblazing anthology.
As I said: If this is the reaction we're getting from a Table of Contents, abstracts, and biographies, I can only imagine what might happen when the volume comes out in June! Mount Vesuvius ain't got nothin' on us! :)

This post was shared on quite a few Facebook pages, and also noted on several blogs, including that of Center for a Stateless Society, Bleeding Heart Libertarians, Austro-Athenian Empire, and StephanKinsella.com.

February 25, 2019

Song of the Day #1629

Song of the Day: The Monkees ("Main Theme" or "Hey, Hey, We're the Monkees"), words and music by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, was the theme song of the TV show "The Monkees," that I regularly watched as a child. On February 21st, Peter Tork, one of the quartet's original members, passed away. Check out the memorable theme [YouTube link].

February 24, 2019

Song of the Day #1628

Song of the Day: Yentl ("Papa Can You Hear Me?") features the lyrics of Alan and Marilyn Bergman and the music of the late Michel Legrand, who would have turned 87 today. I still feel the sadness of his passing. How apropos then to conclude our Film Music February tribute on Oscar Day with a song from this man who died on January 26th, days before our annual tribute began. He gave so much to the art of the score throughout his illustrious career. This song comes from the 1983 film, directed by and starring Barbra Streisand, who became the first woman to win a Golden Globe Directing Award (for a Musical or Comedy), as the film itself took home Globe honors for Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy). This particular song, along with "The Way He Makes Me Feel," was Oscar-nominated for Best Original Song, but lost out to "Flashdance: What a Feeling." But Legrand and the Bergmans took home the Oscar for Best Original Score (Adaptation). Tonight, composers and lyricists will take home awards for scoring and songs at the 91st Annual Academy Awards. And we'll be back next year for another Film Music February tribute. For now, check out this song as heard in the 1983 film [YouTube link].

February 23, 2019

Song of the Day #1627

Song of the Day: Sharky's Machine ("High Energy") [YouTube link] was composed by Bob Florence for the jazz-infused soundtrack to this 1981 thriller, directed by and starring Burt Reynolds. Reynolds is sure to be among those mentioned in the "In Memoriam" segment of tomorrow night's broadcast of the Academy Awards. This particular track from the film is performed with blazing heat by the Doc Severinsen Band.

February 22, 2019

Song of the Day #1626

Song of the Day: Christmas in Connecticut ("The Wish That I Wish Tonight"), music by M. K. Jerome, lyrics by Jack Scholl, is heard over the opening credits to this 1945 film, starring Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan, and Sydney Greenstreet. Check out the music in the title sequence and as sung by Dennis Morgan in the film. The song was also a hit for the Ray Noble Orchestra with vocalist Trudy Erwin and Jo Stafford [YouTube links].

February 21, 2019

Song of the Day #1625

Song of the Day: The Godfather, Part III ("Promise Me You'll Remember"), words and music by Carmine Coppola and John Bettis, was the love theme from the concluding part of the Francis Ford Coppola "Godfather" trilogy. Nominated for "Best Original Song" at both the Golden Globe Awards and the Academy Awards, it was performed on the film's soundtrack [YouTube link] by Harry Connick, Jr.

February 20, 2019

Song of the Day #1624

Song of the Day: To Catch a Thief ("Main Title") [YouTube link], composed by Lyn Martin, provides a lively opening to this visually stunning 1955 Alfred Hitchcock film, starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. This was one of four films that Grant did with Hitchcock and one of three films that Kelly did with Hitchcock. The pairing of Grant and Kelly in a Hitchcock [YouTube "Dick Cavett" interview clip] film with the French Riviera as backdrop thrills audiences with romance, suspense, and literal fireworks [YouTube link]. Today is the 100th anniversary of my mother's birth; she passed away in 1995, but not even a five-year bout with lung cancer could dull the intensity of her love for Cary Grant (she would practically fall over from excitement, watching Cary run in Hitchcock's "North by Northwest" famous crop-duster scene! [YouTube link]). So this one's for Mom... and for Cary!

February 19, 2019

Song of the Day #1673

Song of the Day: Airport ("Emergency Landing") [YouTube link], composed by Alfred Newman, is a musical highlight from the 1970 film that originated the "disaster genre" that would come to dominate the decade. This was the last film Newman scored prior to his death on February 17th of that year, a month before he would have turned 70 and less than a month before the release of this film (on March 5, 1970). Nominated for forty-five Oscars throughout his scoring career, Newman would go on to win nine Academy Awards for Best Original Score, third behind Walt Disney, with twenty-six, and art director/production designer Cedric Gibbons, with eleven.

February 18, 2019

Song of the Day #1672

Song of the Day: El Cid ("Palace Music") [YouTube link], composed by Miklos Rozsa, is a gentle theme for flute and guitar for the soundtrack to the 1961 Anthony Mann-directed epic (which was lovingly restored by Martin Scorsese in 1993), starring Charlton Heston in the title role and Sophia Loren as Dona Ximena. For his gorgeous cinematic soundtrack,Rozsa received an Oscar nomination as well as for Best Original Song ("The Falcon and the Dove"), losing to Henry Mancini in both categories (who won for "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "Moon River," respectively).

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