Open University

Authenticity And The Actors
June 04, 2007

by David A. Bell David Greenberg and Michael Kazin's posts raise some fascinating issues. In many ways, questions of authenticity have been at the heart of democratic politics since the eighteenth century. They were central to the Enlightenment, as readers of Lionel Trilling's wonderful Sincerity and Authenticity well know. During the French Revolution, they became matters of life and death (woe to those revealed as inauthentically revolutionary!). But in contemporary American politics, the issues are bit trickier than they appear.

Responsible Journalism
May 29, 2007

by Linda Hirshman As I have mentioned elsewhere scholars, especially on the left, have been harsh in their criticism of me and other writers who reported the phenomenon of middle class women opting out of paid work. "A Myth," one reported. Family and work scholar Joan Williams called the real story "untold." "Why Can't the Media Ever Get it Right?" the Columbia Journalism Review asked. If we would just not tell about women deciding to quit, there would be no hostile workplaces and laggard spouses. Indeed we were speculating on imperfect data.

On "10 Percent" Plans
May 29, 2007

by Sanford Levinson Much has been written over the past decade about "10%plans" as an alternative to the use of self-conscious racial- and ethnic-preferences. The term largely derives from a Texas law, passed in the aftermath of the Hopwood decision by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that struck down UT's affirmative action program.

Bargain Destination
May 28, 2007

by Richard Stern They're advertising discounted fares to Teheran for $623.00 The airline slogan is "Book Now And Save Big." You find it in the margin of pieces reporting on the months' long interrogation and now imprisonment of the Iranian-American scholar, Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs. Dr.

May 28, 2007

by Eric Rauchway Nothing we say matters. Andrew Bacevich: When my son was killed in Iraq earlier this month at age 27, I found myself pondering my responsibility for his death. Among the hundreds of messages that my wife and I have received, two bore directly on this question. Both held me personally culpable, insisting that my public opposition to the war had provided aid and comfort to the enemy. Each said that my son's death came as a direct result of my antiwar writings.... Not for a second did I expect my own efforts to make a difference.

Keeping It Real
May 25, 2007

by Michael Kazin If recent media reports are credible, several of the leading candidates for president are conniving, unpleasant frauds. John Edwards feels uncomfortable around gay people and made millions working for a hedge fund while supposedly dedicating himself to fighting poverty; Hillary Clinton didn't bother reading the intelligence report on Iraq before voting to authorize the war and has stuck to her marriage only because it might help her get elected; and Mitt Romney reverses his positions on key social issues and explains it as a maturing process.

Translator Turns Blogger
May 22, 2007

by David A. Bell Many readers of this blog will be familiar with the work of Arthur Goldhammer, who has long been the preeminent translator of French non-fiction into English (recently, he has branched into fiction is well). In addition to the scores of books he has translated, Goldhammer is also a brilliant Tocqueville scholar and an astute, knowledgeable observer of French politics, society and culture. So it is with great pleasure that I report that Goldhammer has now launched his own "French Politics" blog.

Ends In Themselves
May 21, 2007

by Richard Stern Much to do, little time. And desire is greater than strength, will power, patience. Much of what one wanted for years is way out of bounds: flying a plane; becoming a skier; running a state. Today an editor-friend proposed writing a small book about some thing which would cast a different light on the U.S. (One book in the series is about the hamburger, another about inventing a state, a third about Cage's 4'33", a fourth about Gypsy Rose Lee.) Would this be within my powers?

Counterfactuals And Social Science
May 18, 2007

by David A. Bell Eric Rauchway, in his response to my post, makes some excellent points. I agree with a good deal of what he says. But I do think we are talking about two different sorts of counterfactuals. Eric is of course right to say that counterfactuals belong to the social sciences. But they are counterfactuals of a special, well-controlled sort, where, ideally, you imagine changes in a small number of variables, and trace the effect on the larger system, in a manner akin to a scientific experiment.

For Want Of A Nail
May 17, 2007

by Eric Rauchway I'm going to disagree, a little, with my distinguished colleague David Bell: I think it's not the anti-counterfactualism of social science that's the reason for the parlous state of military history. First, counterfactualism belongs properly to the social sciences. A theory of causation says a cause is some x without which some y would not have occurred. That's a counterfactual argument--"without x, no y" means thinking seriously through what "without x" means.