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Patrick S. O'Donnell
Adjunct Instructor, Department of Philosophy, Santa Barbara City College
Interests: philosophy of law and legal theory, philosophy of mind, ethics, political philosophy, philosophy of science, religious worldviews, psychoanalysis, psychology
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“The 1953 Iranian coup d'état, known in Iran as the 28 Mordad [the fifth month of the Iranian calendar] coup, involved the overthrow of the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in favour of strengthening the monarchical rule of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi on 19 August 1953. [It was] orchestrated [and first proposed] by the United Kingdom (under the name ‘Operation Boot’) and the United States (as the TPAJAX Project or ‘Operation Ajax’).” * * * The following, from Hugh Wilford’s book, America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Making of the Modern Middle East (2013), provides a basic political backdrop to the coup: “The Cold War skirmishes of 1946 and 1947 … —the withdrawal of Soviet troops and the suppression of separatist movements in Azerbaijan and Kurdistan—had apparently left Iran firmly tethered with the Western camp. A major source of instability remained, however. Despite the example set by... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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In October 1963, “the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided in Baden Baden, Germany, that South Africa would have to eliminate racial discrimination in sports before 31 December 1963, or the country would not be permitted to send a team to the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo [‘the Games of the XVIII Olympiad’]. [The IOC announced its decision on August 18, 1964 to bar South Africa from the 18th Olympic games after it failed to meet an ultimatum to comply with its demands by the 16th of August.] Although the deadline had been extended by eight months, the government failed to permit multiracial sports. As a result the IOC did not invite South Africa to the Olympic Games in Tokyo. This was a heavy blow for South African sporting circles and its supporters. Following Prime Minister J. B. Vorster’s relaxed sports policy, a committee of the IOC visited South Africa in... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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László Moholy-Nagy, “AL 3,” 1926 (oil, industrial paints, and pencil on aluminum) One of my favorite public intellectuals (writer, lecturer …) on the Left, whose worldview I would characterize, broadly, as exemplifying “spiritual humanism,” recently wrote in response to a comment at his blog, that “there are major problems with the notion of group rights, the belief in which is probably stronger now than it was 30 years ago.” I’m not sure if he believes that these problems are fatal, in other words, that the notion of “group rights” is somehow morally or legally incoherent or normatively indefensible. He may think there can be a philosophical or moral and legal case for group rights but has yet to learn of a plausible version of same. Be that as it may, I want to offer an all-too-brief case on behalf of the normative necessity for a moral and legal concept (and... Continue reading
Posted Jul 26, 2017 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Mexican artist Saner painted this at Beebe’s 2 Supermercado at 1421 Springwells St., Detroit (Photograph by Southwest Detroit resident and community leader Erik Howard) My latest bibliography, “Detroit: Labor & Industrialization, Race & Politics, Rebellion & Resurgence,” is comparatively short, although as you see, the title is a mouthful. I hope you enjoy the murals, all of them from Detroit (click on the photos for a larger picture). Mexican artist Jesús Benitez painted this diptych at Garage Cultural at 3439 Livernois, Detroit (Photography by Erik Howard) By Eugene Carland Kobie Solomon’s Chimara mural By Nicole MacDonald By Beau Stanton By Jesse Kassel By Ouizi Mano de Obra Campesina (‘hand of peasant labor’) - 6022 West Vernor Highway: this large mural decorates the west wall of Hacienda Mexican Foods. By Chilean artist Dasic Hernandez (2010) Dalek and Taylor White for Murals In The Market 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo) Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2017 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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“Frantz Omar Fanon (20 July 1925 – 6 December 1961) was a Martinique-born Afro-Caribbean psychiatrist, philosopher, revolutionary, and writer whose works are influential in the fields of post-colonial studies, critical theory, and Marxism. As an intellectual, Fanon was a political radical, Pan-Africanist, and Marxist humanist concerned with the psychopathology of colonization, and the human, social, and cultural consequences of decolonization.” Bulhan, Hussein Abdilahi. Frantz Fanon and the Psychology of Oppression. New York: Plenum Press, 1995. Cherki, Alice (Nadia Benabid, tr.) Frantz Fanon: A Portrait. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2006. Fanon, Frantz (Richard Philcox, tr.) Black Skin, White Masks. New York: Grove Press, 2008 (Éditions du Seuil, 1952). Fanon, Frantz (Richard Philcox, tr.) The Wretched of the Earth. New York: Grove Press, 2004 (Présence Africaine, 1961). Fanon, Frantz. A Dying Colonialism. New York: Grove Press, 1994 (Monthly Review Press, 1965; in French, 1959). Fanon, Frantz (Haakon Chevalier, tr.) Toward the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 20, 2017 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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There is so much material worthy of detailed discussion and further elaboration in Jonathan Lear’s latest book, Wisdom Won from Illness: Essays in Philosophy and Psychoanalysis (Harvard University Press, 2017), one hardly knows—as we say—where to begin. And I say this before having finished the book! For now permit me to share one snippet selected from an essay on why Lear believes Freud provides us with the means whereby we can continue the “unfinished” project of Aristotle’s moral psychology. As Lear reminds us, Bernard Williams describes a distinctively moral psychology as an enterprise that employs “the categories of meaning, reason and value, but leaves it open, or even problematical what way moral reasons and ethical values fit with other motives and desires, how far they express those other motives and how far they are in conflict with them.” One could certainly argue that contemporary moral philosophy and ethics is fairly... Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2017 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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As we’re in the midst of summer, probably most of us would rather listen to the songs than read what follows, all the same, I’m hoping there are a few hardy (perhaps even ‘communist’) souls that can’t resist reading something about the life and work of Guthrie. In Michael Denning’s groundbreaking and provocative book, The Cultural Front: The Laboring of American Culture in the Twentieth Century (Verso, 2010 ed.), Woody Guthrie (along with Carlos Bulosan and Ernesto Galarza) is invoked to exemplify a compelling alternative to the Popular Front’s “grapes of wrath” (the ‘Okie exodus’) narrative of migrant agricultural workers in California. Guthrie, Bulosan and Galarza together provide us with a “less visible attempt of farmworkers to represent themselves politically and aesthetically.” As Denning writes, the former narrative, which became part of American mass culture, “has always been taken as an emblem of depression-era populism, embodying the ‘documentary impulse’ of... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2017 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
Either the Republicans are dissembling, or they’re simply well-versed in collective self-deception, denial, and wishful thinking. Can it be that they truly do not understand the mechanisms intrinsic to private insurance markets? Or is it that they simply don’t care? One of the more obvious ways insurance markets might fail has to do with “adverse selection” (another way is said to relate to ‘moral hazard,’ but I’m inclined to believe that is not a prominent problem for health insurance markets). Robert E. Goodin explains how this works: “If participation in the insurance scheme were voluntary, and if individuals had better information concerning their own true risks than did underwriters, then better-than-average risks would opt out of the scheme (preferring to self-insure) and only bad risks would be left in. Premiums would have to rise to cover the above-average level of claims for those now left in the pool. As they... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2017 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
Today’s selection of maxims is presented for your delectation without any comment. “Our self-esteem is more inclined to resent criticism of our tastes than of our opinions.” “Greater virtues are needed to bear good fortune than bad.” “Everybody complains of his memory, but nobody of his judgment.” — La Rochefoucauld Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2017 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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The epigraph is germane to our third maxim from La Rochefoucauld below. “The argument for the promising rule goes by appeal to the value that the practice of promising has for us as members of a society. The chief value of the practice of promising is social coordination and cooperation—promises (and cognate phenomena like contracts and agreements) allow people to trust one another, which in turn allows for all sorts of cooperative benefits, e.g., divisions of labor, solutions to coordination problems and collective action problems, exits from prisoners dilemmas, etc. The theory is first offered by Hobbes (Leviathan xiii–xv). Hobbes’ framework for assessing the rationality of moral rules assumes that the over-arching goal is to exit the state of nature into a civil society. In the Hobbesian state of nature, our expansive natural rights, our over-large appetites and our natural inclination to dominate result in constant, irresolvable conflict, what Hobbes... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2017 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Several years ago I occasionally posted on my Facebook page selections from La Rochefoucauld’s (Tr. Leondard Tancock) Maxims (Penguin Books, 1959, first published in 1665) and I thought perhaps RLL readers might enjoy them as well (apologies to those few who are found in both groups). It is one way for me to mark the start—and is in the spirit—of summer. Permit me to introduce the first group of these with some wise observations from Jon Elster: “Alone among the moralists, La Rochefoucauld offered something like a theory of human motivations. In fact, his views about unconscious motivation and unconscious cognition are probably more valuable than anything found in twentieth-century psychology. To some extent it is true, as Jean Lafond says, that ‘a certain verbal exuberance together with the exaggeration required for an original assertion turns the psychology into mythology.’ Yet…some systematic views can be extracted from what first appear... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2017 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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This bibliography is now available on my Academia page. What follows is the Epigraph and Apologia for this compilation. Epigraph “The wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world may be the poorest in what was supremely precious to the highest cultures of classical antiquity and the renaissance of world history—the availability of time for thought and contemplation, for relaxation and creative work, for conversation and study, for love and friendship, for the enjoyment of the arts and the beauties of nature, for solitude and communion, for doubts and dreams. There is little room or time for indolence and excellence, for salons and coffeehouses and the market-place, for laughter and tears, for poetry and philosophy, for song and dance and worship, for birds and beasts, for sleep and convalescence, for birth and death; time to live and enough time to dwell on eternity. Can the mere availability of more time... Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2017 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Propositions pivotal to the “default liberal optimism about human welfare:” People tend to fare best when they possess, more or less, the greatest possible freedom to live as they wish. Exceptions will be marginal. Ideally, people will face circumstance of maximally unbounded and unburdened choice. More freedom in determining the character of one’s life is almost always better, in terms of average well-being, with exceptions representing a fringe of special cases. The benefits of option freedom are not marginal but major. A great increase in option freedom will typically yield large gains in well-being. Individuals are almost always better positioned to make choices concern their well-being than anyone else, aside from limited resources and matters of special expertise. People not only do best in conditions of unbounded choice; they tend to do pretty Option freedom benefits individuals primarily through the successful exercise of their own agency. This is because it... Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2017 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Donald Trump’s economic plan (as inferred from his budget proposal) looks backward with overweening nostalgia, believing that “one of the greatest achievements in all of economic history,” namely, the “Great Leap Forward of the American level of labor productivity that occurred in the middle decades of the twentieth century,” can be attained once more, hence his singular and inordinate fondness for “industries that powered the American economy in the mid-20th century, particularly manufacturing, fossil fuel extraction, and construction.” His campaign slogan to “Make America Great Again” (which first appeared in Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign), makes literal or at least sub-conscious reference to this period of economic history, the budget plan enshrining both socio-economic nostalgia and messianic yearning. According to Robert J. Gordon, “… [T]he year 1970 marks a distinct break point between faster and slower growth.* The ten decades between 1870 and 1970 deserve their accolade … as the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2017 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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What follows—in the hope of whetting your appetite—is the tentative epigraph and apologia to my latest (comparatively short!) bibliography: Beyond Capitalist-Attenuated Time: Freedom, Leisure, and Self-Realization. “The wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world may be the poorest in what was supremely precious to the highest cultures of classical antiquity and the renaissance of world history—the availability of time for thought and contemplation, for relaxation and creative work, for conversation and study, for love and friendship, for the enjoyment of the arts and the beauties of nature, for solitude and communion, for doubts and dreams. There is little room or time for indolence and excellence, for salons and coffeehouses and the market-place, for laughter and tears, for poetry and philosophy, for song and dance and worship, for birds and beasts, for sleep and convalescence, for birth and death; time to live and enough time to dwell on eternity. Can... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2017 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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May 30th, 1902 is the date is used to mark the deaths of at least 15,000 Black Africans in concentration camps that housed approximately 115,000 of their number during the Second Anglo-Boer War (26,370 Boer women and children died in separate ‘concentration’ camps as well, and those camps included Black—‘Kaffir’—servants). The date is significant because it comes the day before the signing of the “peace” agreement, the Treaty of Vereeniging, at Melrose House in Pretoria on May 31st, 1902. Later estimates put the number at closer to 20,000 Black Africans, the majority of whom were children, the causes of death being primarily medical neglect, exposure, infectious diseases (e.g., measles, whooping cough, typhoid fever, diphtheria and dysentery) and malnutrition. The establishment of these camps was but one part of a “Scorched Earth Policy” adopted by British Commander Lord Kitchener during the South African War (‘once called the last gentleman’s war’) as... Continue reading
Posted May 30, 2017 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Elizabeth Catlett, “The Lesson,” ca. 1948 (crayon on paper) David Lazarus at the Los Angeles Times: “Die hard: Republican healthcare bill has no problem throwing you off a building” “What kind of politician would commit such a monstrous act? That’s easy, said Elizabeth G. Taylor, executive director of the National Health Law Program: Any politician more interested in cutting taxes for the rich than providing affordable healthcare for ordinary people. The bill ‘sacrifices the healthcare of millions of vulnerable people to pay for tax breaks for the wealthiest in this country,’ she said.” * * * Harold Meyerson (executive editor at American Prospect) in the Los Angeles Times: “Why do billionaires care so much about charter schools?” “ … [W]e have to go back to the economic polarization of pre-New Deal America to find a time when the super-rich felt so compelled to better the lot of the poor, as... Continue reading
Posted May 29, 2017 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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At Food Politics, Marion Nestle shares an interview with Tom Nassif, the CEO of the Western Growers. “Nassif represents this trade association for industrial agricultural producers in the West and Southwest. He discusses how immigration issues affect farm labor from the perspective of producers.” The entire interview is worth reading, but I want to highlight the following two “questions” and answers, commenting—by way of the work of Frank Bardacke—on the second one below: Some people say farmers just have to pay more for their labor. “Anyone who is an enlightened observer of immigration reform and agriculture knows that’s not true. Wages have continually gone up. And the supply of labor keeps diminishing. … It’s not the wages, it’s the work. This is a difficult job. This is seasonal. This is migratory. This is not full time. This requires people to be away from their families. So that’s not very attractive... Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2017 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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“By the end of the wars of 1947-49, an estimated 750,000 Palestinians had either fled Palestine or been expelled from their homes by the Haganah. Palestinians … call this seminal happening the Nakba, or the Great Catastrophe. [The events of this period are commemorated by Palestinians in both the Palestinian territories and elsewhere on May 15th, Nakba Day.] Over 90 percent of the Palestinian inhabitants of Haifa, Tiberias, Beit She’an, Jaffa, and Acre had vanished. Expulsions from towns and villages were common along the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem road in the eastern Galilee. Palestinians in Nazareth and the southern Galilee for the most part stayed, and today these areas form the core of the Palestinian Israeli population. Altogether, roughly 15 percent of Palestinians remained behind and became Israeli citizens, some staying where they lived, other moving to other parts of the country, all losing their property to expropriation. In the course of... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2017 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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From his Wikipedia entry (the embedded hyperlinks are from yours truly): “Walter Max Ulyate Sisulu … was a South African anti-apartheid activist and a member of the African National Congress (ANC), serving at times as Secretary-General and Deputy President of the organization. He was jailed at Robben Island, where he served more than 25 years’ imprisonment. [In 1943, a couple of years after becoming a member of the ANC, Sisulu], together with Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo, joined the ANC Youth League, founded by Anton Lembede, of which he was initially the treasurer. [….] Sisulu was a political networker and had a prominent planning role in the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe (‘Spear of the Nation’). He was made secretary general of the ANC in 1949, displacing the more passive older leadership, and held that post until 1954. He also joined the South African Communist Party. As a planner of the... Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2017 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Kent State University photo “Ohio” Tin soldiers and Nixon coming, We’re finally on our own. This summer I hear the drumming, Four dead in Ohio. Gotta get down to it Soldiers are cutting us down Should have been done long ago. What if you knew her And found her dead on the ground How can you run when you know? Gotta get down to it Soldiers are cutting us down Should have been done long ago. What if you knew her And found her dead on the ground How can you run when you know? Tin soldiers and Nixon coming, We’re finally on our own. This summer I hear the drumming, Four dead in Ohio.—Neil Young From the Wikipedia entry on the “Cambodian Campaign”: “At 21:00 on 30 April [1970] …. President Nixon appeared on all three U.S. television networks to announce that ‘It is not our power but our... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2017 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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May 3, 1968: “Be realistic, demand the impossible.” As the Verso Radical Diary reminds us, on this date French students protest[ed] the closure of the Sorbonne, setting off the May ‘68 wave of strikes by millions of students and workers.” See, for example, the late Daniel Singer’s book, Prelude to Revolution: France in May 1968 (Haymarket Books, 2013/first published by Hill & Wang in 1970). “In May 1968 ... when a student revolt led to a general strike of nearly ten million workers in France, there were significant demonstrations of solidarity in Mexico City, Berlin, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Berkeley, and Belgrade, and students and workers in both Spain and Uruguay attempted general strikes of their own. Massive student strikes in Italy forced Prime Minister Aldo Moro and his cabinet to resign; Germany experienced its worst political crisis since World War II, and a student strike at the University of Dakar,... Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2017 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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I want to draw your attention to some books that fall, loosely (e.g., perhaps they’re indirectly relevant to…), under the heading, “resistance and revolutionary aspirations in the Middle East.” The list is confined to books I’ve read or am currently reading, with the exception of Blumenthal’s title on the last war in Gaza, which I hope to read anon. I had planned on confining the list to ten works, all less than ten years old, but I’ve ended up exceeding the first constraint by two titles. Given the arbitrary nature of the constraints and the fact that I’ve not been able (of late) to keep up on the number of books that might meet our criteria for inclusion, there invariably are titles worthy of mention missing from this list. But at least it’s a start, especially for those for whom this is not an area of expertise or one of... Continue reading
Posted May 2, 2017 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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The following, albeit lightly edited, is from the Bread and Roses Centennial Committee’s (1912-2012) Facebook post yesterday accounting for the distinction between May Day and Labor Day in this country: “Ever wonder why the U.S. celebrates Labor Day, the first Monday in Sept, while May 1 is a day recognized around the world as a workers’ holiday, a day of solidarity between workers of all nationalities? It was bound up with the struggle for the shorter workday – a demand of major political significance for the working class. ‘Eight hours for work —eight for rest—and eight for what we will.’ Already at the opening of the 19th century workers in the United States made known their grievances against working from ‘sunrise to sunset,’ the then prevailing workday. Fourteen, sixteen and even eighteen hours a day were not uncommon. The 1820s and 1830s are full of strikes for reduction of hours... Continue reading
Posted May 1, 2017 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Gök Jami mosque of Yerevan, Armenia John Esposito on “Islam and Religious Pluralism”—This is an excellent introductory lecture (click on the title for the video) by one of this country’s foremost scholars on Islam that was filmed for UCTV at the Walter H. Capps Center for the Study of Ethics, Religion, and Public Life at UC Santa Barbara. Additional Resources (from yours truly): Study Guide for Islam Islamic Studies bibliography Islam & Muslims in the United States: a select bibliography Islam & Democracy (an encyclopedia entry) Poetry & Islam (a published introductory essay) Book Review: Oliver Leaman’s Islamic Aesthetics: An Introduction (2004) (published in Philosophy East and West) I also have several bibliographies that overlap a bit with some of the above material: The Modern and Post-Modern Arab World The Bedouin Modern Iran Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Continue reading
Posted Apr 30, 2017 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com