an in-between move

Cool kids read The Bellman.


Don't read this blog!

I mean, thanks for dropping by my little corner of the blogospheric backwaters, but the blog you should be reading is The Bellman. The stuff I post there is much, much less likely to be imbued with dormitive powers.


[German, from zwischen, intermediate + zug, move

Literally an "in-between move". A move in a tactical sequence is called a zwischenzug* when it does not relate directly to the tactical motif in operation. |source|

image copyright TWIC

From this position, black played a zwischenzug: 19…d5
(Linares 2002, 1-0)


about your blogger

David Rowland studies philosophy at the University of Illinois - Urbana / Champaign, where he's an active member of the Graduate Employees Organization. He used to play a lot of chess, but wasn't all that good. He has a blog. And email.



Hey you scandal monkeys!
Critics continue to pile on the UFCW
The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I ...
Fun facts from the exit polls
More criticism of the UFCW
Fish on!
News from the front
If you don't do anything wrong, you have nothing t...
Why art thou disquieted in me?
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$zwichenzug$ sell-out zone





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Union Label

Direct Action
Gets the Goods!


some folks I know

Mark Dilley
a daily dose of architecture
Safety Neal
January Girl
mimi jingcha
Hop, Skip, Jump
ambivalent imbroglio
Brooke & Lian


some blogs I read

strip mining for whimsy
It's Matt's World
School of Blog
Fall of the State
Dru Blood
Echidne of the Snakes
Colossal Waste of Bandwidth
Running from the Thought Police
Bionic Octopus


some philosoblogs

Fake Barn Country
Freiheit und Wissen


some labor blogs

Confined Space
Working Life
Dispatches From the Trenches
Labor Blog
Eric Lee


some A-list blogs

This Modern World
Matthew Yglesias
Andrew Sullivan
Political Animal
The Volokh Conspiracy


some other links

Rule 33
This Week in Chess
War Nerd
National Priorities Project
Bible Gateway
Internet Archive
A Weekly Dose of Architecture
Orsinal: Morning Sunshine
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Safety Sign Builder
Get Your War On


some philosoblogging

Six views about reasons
Seidman on reflection and rationality
And another thing
Tiffany's argument for strong internalism
Internalism v. Externalism
What do internalists believe anyway?
Rationalism and internalism
The experimental method in philosophy
Advertising to children
On moral skepticism
A linguistic argument
More on Williams
Williams on reasons
General and particular
Normativity and morality
Political intuitions
What it is, what it was, and what it shall be
Objectivity and morality
Thinking revolution
Abortion and coercion
Moore on torture
On the phenomenology of deliberation
Even more Deliberation Day
more Deliberation Day
Deliberation Day run-down
He made a porch for the throne where he might judge, cont.
He made a porch for the throne where he might judge
Every shepherd is an abomination
Droppin' H-bombs
ad hominem

Thursday, February 12, 2004


Defending Tail Gunner Z

A little while ago a commenter called my blog, 'so pink!' At first I thought this might be something the cool kids were saying nowadays, and that it meant that I was, in my own way, cool. Then I realized that the commenter was calling me a communist. Shocking!

I wouldn't call myself a communist. Unless, of course, I was trying to start an argument at a certain kind of dinner party.

One reason I wouldn't call myself a communist is that I don't believe in the inevitability of revolution, and couldn't support a violent revolution even if I did. Too many professed communists, especially communists with a share of political power, have had a cavalier attitude towards human suffering. They have so dirtied the label that anything noble it might once have stood for is now blocked from view.

Another reason I wouldn't call myself a communist is that I wouldn't want to commit myself to communist economic theory. Marx was very smart and added a lot to the study of economics, but in the century and a half since he did his best work the discipline has moved past him. It's unfortunate that contemporary mainstream economists don't read Marx – he has things to teach them about the way disparities in bargaining power distort markets. But it's also unfortunate when latter day communists don't familiarize themselves with modern economic theory.

Labels are deceptively powerful. The vice principal at my junior high school wanted to be a figure of respect, a man feared by the students and spoken of in hoarse whispers. But his name was Dr. Grippenstroh. That name can only induce giggling among adolescents.

For awhile a desire not to be pigeonholed led me to call myself an anti-ismist and to deny all doctrines other than anti-ismism. I contemplated writing a manifesto. Even after I became disillusioned with anti-ismismist dogma I considered becoming an anti-ismismologist so that I could study the main figures of the movement. Unfortunately, no one had gotten around to writing a manifesto, so that project fell through.

Not all definitions are bad. My uncle happily calls himself an accountant and doing so helps him attract clients. Carnap thought that agreement on definitions was a necessary condition for rational disagreement about anything else.

If I had to give a label to the core of my political beliefs, I'd call myself a radical democrat. With Rawls, I think that the most fundamental democratic commitment is to the idea that all persons have a right to equal participation in the operation of political institutions, and that this right is grounded in the fact that all persons are capable of forming and acting upon their own conception of the good. I don't know how to argue for this commitment, but I don't think it's very controversial either – it seems to me to underlie the professed ideologies of both major political parties in the United States.

What makes me a radical is my understanding of political institutions. As a matter of definition, an institution is political just in case it is a mechanism for the legitimate exercise of coercive force. Using this definition, a libertarian would say that governments are the only political institutions. As a radical democrat, I hold that political institutions are much more pervasive. In particular, I think that the exercise of economic power is an exercise of coercive force and that, therefore, institutions which exercise economic power are political institutions. It follows that all persons have a right to equal participation in the operation of economic institutions, which is to say that the workplace ought to be democratized.

As with the fundamental democratic commitment, this isn't something I have an argument for. In fact, I suspect that it's not the sort of thing that can be settled by argument. Instead, it's a matter of perception; you either see it or you don't. The thing to do in such a case is to try to train the perceptions of others by pointing out the things you think they ought to see.

Sometimes they won't see it. They'll just see you, pointing, and think, "Damn commie!"

Them's the breaks.

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