!?

Zwichenzug

an in-between move

Cool kids read The Bellman.

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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.

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Zwischenzug
[German, from zwischen, intermediate + zug, move

n.
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
Adams-Kasparov
(Linares 2002, 1-0)

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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.

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recent

Throwing a bone
Ramblings about rumblings in the labor movement
Holding Zone
Poetry appreciation corner
Exciting news from the world of accounting
Travelling man
Time to take off the dust covers
Moore on Torture
On the phenomenology of deliberation
Even more deliberation day

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error log


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syndication

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Creative Commons License
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some folks I know

Mark Dilley
a daily dose of architecture
dailysoy
Hannah
funferal
Safety Neal
eripsa
January Girl
mimi jingcha
bleen
Rambleman
Washburn
Hop, Skip, Jump
E
ambivalent imbroglio
Brooke & Lian

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some blogs I read

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

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some philosoblogs

E.G.
Philosoraptor
Left2Right
Fake Barn Country
Freiheit und Wissen

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some labor blogs

Confined Space
Unions-Firms-Markets
Working Life
CGEU
Dispatches From the Trenches
Labor Blog
LaborProf
Eric Lee

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some A-list blogs

This Modern World
Discourse.net
Matthew Yglesias
pandagon
Andrew Sullivan
Political Animal
Majikthise
DeLong
The Volokh Conspiracy

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some other links

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

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some philosoblogging

Six views about reasons
Seidman on reflection and rationality
And another thing
Aspirin
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
Whorf
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
Factoid
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

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

 

Heaven forfend!

You don't have to read very deeply into this blog to figure out that I'm pretty far to the left politically. What might surprise you, though, is that I have a lot more respect for committed conservatives than for moderates. Most moderates, it seems to me, are either ignorant or wishy-washy. This in itself isn't too bad. What bothers me is that moderates then go on to present their moderation as if it were, somehow, a virtue. We moderates, they intone, look sensibly at each issue and judge it on its merits. Only our lessers succumb to the distorting lens of extreme political views. What sanctimonious condescending bullshit.

I'm ranting, of course, and you might wonder what set me off. Well it's this gem, William Kristof's column from Wednesday's New York Times.

Kristof's thesis is that liberals are wrong to call Bush a liar because: (a) sometimes Bush only exaggerates; (b) Bush isn't really good enough at talking for anybody to tell whether he's lying or just failing to make any damn sense; and (c) calling your political opponents liars tends to coarsen political discourse and undermine the electorate's trust in the political process.

I'm reminded of a dinner party I ruined several years ago. A number of us were sitting around getting to know one another and one of the subjects that came up was political orientation. I let it be known that I pretty much accepted the socialist critique of capitalism, though I wasn't down with the notion that revolution was a historical inevitability and, anyway, thought it was pretty obvious that violent revolution would do more harm than good.

Another of the guests, I'll call her K, couldn't let this pass. She didn't think this was a political view that a moral person could have unless that person were startlingly ignorant. At one point she argued that because I hadn't summered in Europe I wasn't cosmopolitan enough to have developed respectable political views.

I found all of this to be quite insulting, of course, but not so offensive as to require that all conversation halt until such time as apologies had been delivered. Moreover, it was pretty clear to me that K was taking me to be defending the worst excesses of Stalinism, something which I would never dream of doing.

I tried to explain the nuances of my position, tried to get across the idea that the governments of the Soviet Union and its satellites didn't faithfully embody the ideals put forth by Lenin in State and Revolution, and that anyway Marx's worries about the accumulation of surplus value didn't obviously imply any of this Vanguard of the Proletariat stuff.

I was rebuffed at every turn. K insisted that she had closely studied the socialist canon and had found it wanting. Once I informed her that there was such a thing as War Communism she asserted that this historical era had also been an object of considerable investigation on her part. In short, she was an authority on these matters.

She was obviously lying. Maybe, just maybe, she had read the Communist Manifesto somewhere along the way, but it was clear that her knowledge of socialist theory didn't extend past the canard that the fall of the Soviet Union had proven that socialism didn't work.

The next time she claimed to have read Capital I called her on it. I said she was lying.

Judging by her reaction you would have thought that I had punched her in the nose. Her mouth and eyes opened wide and she just stared at me. I don't remember precisely what she said, but it had the flavor of, "How dare you besmirch my honor! I demand that you apologize at once and repudiate any suggestion that I am not an authority on socialist theory."

Then, and I remember this quite clearly, another guest accused me of being rude. A chorus of others said that I ought to apologize. Instead, I thanked the host and left.

From my point of view I had answered a question about my political inclinations and been attacked for it. During my attempt to defend myself I was accused of ignorance, naivete, and immorality. Then, (then!) my accuser embarked on a pattern of lies that frustrated every attempt I made to respond. But I was the one who was rude? I was the one who should apologize?

I don't buy it. I think K owed me an apology. Not for the insults (I'm not that thin-skinned) but for violating the conversational ground rules that make communication possible. If one of us was responsible for coarsening the discourse it wasn't me, it was her.

I'm not saying that lying is always bad, or that liars should always be taken to task. There are, as we say in philosophy, cases and cases. And this brings us back to Kristof and Bush.

Off the top of my head here's a sample of the untruths that the Bush Administration has knowingly fostered: The No-Child-Left-Behind-Act is a sincere attempt to improve education; The Bush tax cut doesn't disproportionately favor the rich; The Administration never advocated torture; Saddam Hussein directly aided the al Qaeda terrorists who destroyed the World Trade Center; There is proof that Iraq possesses WMDs.

Kristof says that calling Bush a liar, "further polarizes the political cesspool, and this polarization is making America increasingly difficult to govern."

But what about Bush's lies? They have an effect on political discourse too. The kinds of lies Bush and his cronies tell--lies told to grease the wheels of government, lies told to further a political agenda that could not otherwise find popular support, lies which carry the authority of official endorsement--these lies are a violation of trust. These lies undermine any attempt to have a serious public discussion about the issues that confront the nation.

Kristof says that we shouldn't call Bush a liar because, "insults and rage impede understanding."

Bullshit. Lying impedes understanding.


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