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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
Recent Activity
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My latest compilation is on South African liberation struggles. The two images respectively above and below are paintings by the South African artist John Koenakeefe Mohl. The first, “Miners carrying their working tools, near Springs, South Africa” (oil on board), the second, “Caught on the way to the house of worship” (oil on canvas). Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Today, as the 2017 Verso Radical Diary reminds me, is the date of the signing of Charter 77. First, by way of historical backdrop and relevant causal conditions: “The sweeping political reforms introduced by [Mikhail] Gorbachev in the late 1980s completely altered the Soviet government’s response to civil resistance both in east-central Europe and in the Soviet Union itself. Far from seeking to crack down with force on non-violent resistance in east-central Europe, Gorbachev tolerated and indeed actively encouraged sweeping political change in the region. Similarly, by the late 1980s, Gorbachev had given unprecedented latitude for the formation of unofficial groups in the Soviet Union that sought to achieve their demands through civil resistance. Even when in 1989 the communist systems in east-central Europe collapsed and when the proliferation of unrest in the Soviet Union began to threaten the Soviet regime’s own existence, Gorbachev declined to use force with the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2017 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
“The American people want us to start over,” Pence said. “Releasing the power of the free market is the pathway toward expanding access and affordability of health care across the country.” This is one of the dumbest f*ckin’ things any national politician has said of late, and that’s a startlingly low standard. First of all, it was not “the American people” as such, but those who voted Republican, and they are not a majority of the American people. Second, you’d have to be the dullest tool in the shed (or succumb to a colossal act of self-deception, wishful thinking, or state of denial) to think a regressive return to “the power of the free market” is going to be the panacea to our health care system, as Vice President-elect Pence claims. Such a claim is dangerous ideological claptrap that, to the extent it proves capable of motivating policy changes, will... Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2017 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Today is the birthday of C.L.R. James (4 January 1901 – 19 May 1989), the remarkable Marxist humanist and Afro-Trinidadian socialist, historian, journalist, and essayist. Here are two posts from the archives on James: From “Cricketing in Compton” to the “Cricketing Marxist,” and The Marxist Spirituality of C.L.R. James. And here is a fitting celebratory essay by Christian Høgsbjerg on James’ “magisterial work,” The Black Jacobins (1938, second ed., 1963): “CLR James and the Black Jacobins.” The following works help illuminate the life and writings of C.L.R. James, the “cricketing Marxist” and “urbane revolutionary.” Buhle, Paul. C.L.R. James: The Artist as Revolutionary. London: Verso, 1988. Buhle, Paul, ed. C.L.R. James: His Life and Work. London: Allison & Busby, 1986. Høgsbjerg, Christian and Charles Forsdick, eds. The Black Jacobins Reader. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017. Renton, Dave. C.L.R. James: Cricket’s Philosopher King. London: Haus, 2007. Robinson, Cedric J. Black Marxism:... Continue reading
Posted Jan 4, 2017 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
“Passive resistance” is an awful term: it is not a true oxymoron in the sense that it might be “surprisingly true,” but rather close to a conceptual and practical contradiction insofar as it is both descriptively and normatively misleading. We need not accept Gandhi’s stark contrast between “principled nonviolence” (i.e., satyāgraha) and what he called “nonviolence of the weak,” that is, “passive resistance,” to see this, for strategic or tactical nonviolence need not denote or imply weakness in either one’s methods or in the character of or power wielded by those who’ve chosen such means and methods from motivations that differ from those intrinsic to the political morality crafted by Gandhi (which does not, in turn, efface the value of a conceptual or moral distinction between principled and strategic nonviolence). There are different ideals and models of nonviolent theory and praxis that reflect different kinds of political motivation and political... Continue reading
Posted Dec 22, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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My latest bibliography, Blacks on the (Radical) Left, is available here. What follows is the introduction: This compilation was inspired by a blog post—and the excellent suggestions in the comments appended thereto—of the African American Intellectual History Society by Terrell Jermaine Starr. The original list, which was not intended to be exhaustive, focused on “African Americans and Communism,” while this compilation is—hence the title—broader than what motivated Starr’s list. By “radical Left” is meant those individuals and groups committed to more or less Marxist, Communist (and communist), and/or Socialist moral principles, political ideas and values, and their corresponding methods and means of praxis. I welcome suggestions for possible additions to this list. As with most of my bibliographies, this one has two main constraints: books, in English. Because I have a separate bibliography on the Black Panther Party, I have not included titles that would otherwise be added here, given... Continue reading
Posted Dec 1, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Today, November 15, is the birthday (b. 1938 in Yeoville, Johannesburg) of Ronald—“Ronnie”—Kasrils, a former member of both the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP), and an early (some say ‘founding’) member of Umkhonto weSizwe (Spear of the Nation), commonly known as MK, the ANC’s armed wing of the struggle for liberation from apartheid in South Africa, formed in the aftermath of the Sharpeville massacre of 21 March 1960 (the SACP was also responsible for the founding of MK insofar as it supplied some of its earliest recruits, as well as contributing its members’ ‘technical skills’ and ‘revolutionary theory’). [The turn to armed struggle was simultaneously undertaken by the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) with the formation of Poqo (meaning ‘pure’ or ‘alone’ in Xhosa).] Kasrils served in post-apartheid South African governments as Deputy Minister of Defence, Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry, and Minister of... Continue reading
Posted Nov 15, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
For new readers, especially any students who might be aspiring legal ethicists interested in this topic, I have a bibliography on the moral, legal and political dimensions of torture here: https://www.academia.edu/4844181/Torture_moral_legal_and_political_dimensions_a_basic_bibliography
Thank you for this, although I must say I'm not at all surprised. Cf. this from Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), which is absolutely false: “America does not torture. We never have and we never will.” See more here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/tom-cotton-waterboarding_us_5823a501e4b0e80b02ceb6e4?
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Here is my latest compilation: The History, Theory & Praxis of the (‘old’ and New) Left in the 1960s — A Basic Bibliography. This is the introduction: This bibliography is not exhaustive owing, in part, to three constraints: books, in English, with a largely (thus not exclusively) North American orientation. In addition, this compilation assumes the 1950s spill over into the 1960s and that the cultural ethos and politics of “the Left” in the 1960s, in turn, coherently and often vibrantly persist in one way or another into the 1970s (in other words, our periodization lacks mathematical rigour and so our historical parameter, in spite of the title, can encompass several decades). The works below by avowedly Left or Left-leaning intellectuals (some of which were written prior to or after the ‘60s) are intended to be merely representative and thus indicative of their formative influence during this period. I assume... Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Since Steve did not provide a link to his new book (available in paperback!), here is one from the publisher, Cambridge University Press, and here for Amazon, where you can preview parts of the book. Hearty congratulations to Steve! Continue reading
Posted Oct 25, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Here is my bibliography for Marxism (or ‘the Left’), Art & Aesthetics. “’Stupid people often accuse Marxists of welcoming the intrusion of politics into art,’ John Berger once wrote, with his customary pugilistic elegance. ‘On the contrary, we protest against the intrusion. The intrusion is most marked in times of crisis and great suffering. But it is pointless to deny such times. They must be understood so that they can be ended: art and men will then be freer.’ Presented in this way, art and artists don’t just have a moral interest in political struggle. Anyone who is interested in art has an interest in struggling for a more equal world because equality is a condition for creativity to realize its full potential in our lives. At this point, however, we begin to transcend the question of artists as a professional group. In fact, we begin to see that making... Continue reading
Posted Oct 20, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party (originally the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense). The Party was the handiwork of Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, although it has been said that the “first” such party was actually Alabama’s Lowndes County Freedom Organization: “Jim Crow was a grim reality in Lowndes County, Alabama, at the beginning of 1965. African Americans attended separate and unequal schools, lived in dilapidated and deteriorating housing, and toiled as underpaid and overworked domestics and farm laborers. They were also completely shut out of the voting process. There were five thousand African Americans of voting age in an overwhelmingly black rural county, but not a single one was registered. Most were too scared to even try. Francis Moss, born nearly seventy years earlier, was among those immobilized by an overwhelming fear of white violence. ‘I used to run in the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 15, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Friends and family of Kitty Hawk SOS sailors wait at Fleet Landing in San Diego to distribute copies of the ‘Kitty Litter,’ the sailors’ anti-war underground newspaper. During the Vietnam War on this date in October 1972, there was a “mutiny” or “riot” on the Navy aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk ostensibly led by African American sailors (‘The ship’s complement consisted of 4,483 sailors, aircrew, and Marines, 302 of whom were black.’) Accounts vary as to what precisely precipitated the mutiny (and various conditions contributed to its proximate causes), one stating it began when Marines attempted to disrupt a protest meeting of black sailors. The meeting had been called in response to what occurred when the warship was in Subic Bay, the night before its scheduled departure: “…[S]erious fighting erupted at the Subic Bay men’s club, the San Paquito. On the evening of the twelfth, after the first full day... Continue reading
Posted Oct 12, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Everything (well, not everything, but a lot of stuff) you wanted to know about the Islamic World but heretofore (and apart from Wikipedia) did not know where to begin, I have gathered together below. The following resources should suffice by way of an introduction and material for further exploration, research and reading, should you summon the requisite motivation: Islam Study Guide Islam & Muslims in the United States: A Select Bibliography Islamic Studies Bibliography The Bedouin: An Introductory Bibliography Democracy and Islam Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Bibliography Modern Iran: A Basic Bibliography The Modern and Post-Modern Arab World: A Basic Bibliography Poetry and Islam: An Introduction Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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“James Forman (October 4, 1928 – January 10, 2005) was an American Civil Rights leader active in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Black Panther Party, and the International Black Workers Congress.” * * * The following is from the Foreword (June 1997) by Julian Bond to James Forman’s The Making of Black Revolutionaries (Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 1997 ed. [Macmillan, 1972]): xi-xiii. “James Forman is one of the under-appreciated figures of the modern civil rights movement. His autobiography, The Making of Black Revolutionaries, is a classic. In a determined voice, Forman describes his life and activism. He doesn’t mince words. Nor is he cautious in his descriptions of those he believes to be enemies of black progress, whether black or white. Revolutionaries is precious because it represents one of the very few autobiographies by a youthful activist. [….] James Forman had enormous influence on the Student Nonviolent... Continue reading
Posted Oct 4, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Greg Deal’s Leonard Peltier mural at the Albuquerque, New Mexico Peace and Justice Center, headquarters for the Peltier Defense Committee “Leonard Peltier (born September 12, 1944) is a Native American activist and member of the American Indian Movement (AIM). In 1977 he was convicted and sentenced to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment for first degree murder in the shooting of two Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents during a 1975 conflict on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Peltier’s indictment and conviction have been the subject of much controversy; Amnesty International placed his case under the ‘Unfair Trials’ category of its Annual Report: USA 2010. Peltier is incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary, Coleman in Florida. Peltier’s next scheduled parole hearing will be in July 2024. Barring appeals, parole, or presidential pardon, his projected release date is October 11, 2040.” Indeed, Peltier is “considered by Amnesty International, the Southern Christian... Continue reading
Posted Sep 28, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Islamic Cultural Center of New York Abdullah, Zain. Black Mecca: The African Muslims of Harlem. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. Ammar, Nawal H., ed. Muslims in US Prisons: People, Policy, Practice. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2015. Austin, Allan D. African Muslims in Antebellum America: A Sourcebook. New York: Garland Publications, 1984. Austin, Allan D. African Muslims in Antebellum America: Transatlantic Stories and Spiritual Struggles. New York: Routledge, 1997. Breitman, George, ed. Malcolm X Speaks: Selected Speeches and Statements. New York: Merit Publishers, 1965. Clegg, Claude Andrew, III. An Original Man: The Life and Times of Elijah Muhammad. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997. Curtis, Edward E., IV. Islam in Black America: Identity, Liberation, and Difference in African-American Islamic Thought. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2002. Curtis, Edward E., IV. Black Muslim Religion in the Nation of Islam, 1960-1975. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 27, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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“According to a new estimate in 2016, there are 3.3 million Muslims living in the United States, about 1% of the total U.S. population.” OK, that’s a sufficient “reason” for at least some of us to take an interest in Islamic ethics (as with other ethical traditions, it is both ‘lived’ and, as an ideal, aspirational), about which I suspect there’s abundant ignorance. Here is a very select list of titles (you’re warmly invited to add more in the comments), in English, on “Islamic ethics.” Of course ethics in Islam cannot be discussed without—at the very least—a corresponding knowledge of Islamic theology and jurisprudence. Still, and for comparative and philosophical reasons, we can make sense of “Islamic ethics” as such, much in the manner we speak of and write about other kinds of religious ethics (e.g., Christian, Buddhist…). Ali, Kecia. Sexual Ethics and Islam: Feminist Reflections on Qur’an, Hadith and... Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Elizabeth Catlett, Black Unity (1968) At the blog of the African American Intellectual History Society, Clarence Lang explains why “[f]raming symbols and discourses—rendered in the form of images, platforms and demands—are the most critical aspect of any movement-building effort. At their most effective, they bring political coherence and focus to an activist community, convey meaning and goals to supporters and potential participants, mobilize constituents to action, and equip adherents organizationally to contest for legitimacy (and power). Along these lines, framing discourses can communicate insurgent ideas about what changes are necessary, rather than simply what reforms are deemed possible.” There are numerous historical exemplifications, some well-known, others less so, of such “framing” by social movements and political groups in the diverse struggles for black freedom and self-determination in this country. The end of legal institution of chattel slavery took place, first, with the Emancipation Proclamation, followed by the ratification of the... Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Painting by Betsy Graves Reyneau Today is the birthday of the philosopher, Alain Locke: “Alain LeRoy Locke (September 13, 1885 – June 9, 1954) was an American writer, philosopher, educator, and patron of the arts. Distinguished as the first African American Rhodes Scholar in 1907, Locke was the philosophical architect —the acknowledged ‘Dean’— of the Harlem Renaissance.” The following is from the introduction to the entry on Locke in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy by Jacoby Adeshei Carter: “Alain LeRoy Locke is heralded as the ‘Father of the Harlem Renaissance’ for his publication in 1925 of The New Negro—an anthology of poetry, essays, plays, music and portraiture by white and black artists. Locke is best known as a theorist, critic, and interpreter of African-American literature and art. He was also a creative and systematic philosopher who developed theories of value, pluralism and cultural relativism that informed and were reinforced by... Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Steve (Stephen Bantu) Biko (18 December 1946 – 12 September 1977), “leader of the South African Students’ Organisation (SASO) and pioneer of the Black Consciousness philosophy, died in police custody at the age of thirty. Biko was arrested in the outskirts of Grahamstown on 18 August 1977. During his detention in a Port Elizabeth police cell he had been chained to a grill at night and left to lie in urine-soaked blankets. He had been stripped naked and kept in leg-irons for 48 hours in his cell. A blow in a scuffle with security police led to him suffering brain damage. Realising to a certain extent the seriousness of his condition, the police decided to transfer him to a prison hospital in Pretoria, which was 1133 km away. He died shortly after his arrival there. His death was confirmed by the commissioner of police, General Gert Prinsloo.” This following is... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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“The incident that has erupted here at Attica is not a result of the dastardly bushwacking of the two prisoners Sept. 8, 1971 but of the unmitigated oppression wrought by the racist administration network of the prison, throughout the year. WE are MEN! We are not beasts and do not intend to be beaten or driven as such. The entire prison population has set forth to change forever the ruthless brutalization and disregard for the lives of the prisoners here and throughout the United State. What has happened here is but the sound before the fury of those who are oppressed.” – “L.D.” (Elliot James) Barkley, reading aloud from the introductory paragraphs of The Five Demands in the prison’s D-Yard Today marks the 45th anniversary of the start of the revolt (to reduce it to a ‘riot’ is misleading and tendentious, thus inaccurate) by prisoners of the Attica Correctional Facility.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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I want to share this extraordinarily profound and eloquent (not ‘eloquent’ in the sense that a Trump supporter on CNN confidently described a recent campaign speech by Trump as ‘eloquent’) passage from Tom Wicker’s book, A Time to Die: The Attica Prison Revolt (Haymarket Books, 2011; first published by Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Co., 1975). It comes at a point in the micro-historical narrative of events surrounding the Attica Uprising when “negotiations” with the prisoners in D-yard appear to have ended and Wicker has just gotten off the phone with Governor Nelson Rockefeller in a futile, last minute effort to persuade him to meet with the “Observers Committee” (which consisted of 14 individuals invited by the rebelling inmates and an additional 23 other members) so as to, among other things, buy time in order to enhance the probability that a “massacre,” as an otherwise predictable result of the effort... Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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William Kunstler at New York City rally protesting the carnage at Attica that led to the deaths of 29 inmates and 10 hostages killed by corrections officers and state troopers (recalling with James Forman, Jr., that ‘[t]he most sadistic crimes took place after state officials had full control of the prison’). Today is the 21st anniversary of the death of William Kunstler (July 17, 1919 - September 4, 1995), the indefatigable Left-activist (‘cause’) lawyer and WW II U.S. Army veteran. Here is his Wikipedia entry, which is tolerable, all things considered, although it fails to mention that Kunstler was among those asked to negotiate on behalf of the rebelling inmates at Attica Correctional Facility, September 9 -13, 1971. Kunstler’s efforts in solidarity with the prisoners in D-yard is discussed in Tom Wicker’s (also invited by the prisoners to assist in negotiations and a member of the ‘Observers Committee’) A Time... Continue reading
Posted Sep 4, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com