Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Culture War

Ironically, if Donald Trump were President, the Supreme Court Might Have Left Roe Alone

A leaked draft opinion is circulating indicating that the Supreme Court may plan to overturn Roe v. Wade, the decision that protects abortion rights. The draft opinion is not an official ruling, and it’s still possible that the Supreme Court may issue a different opinion. Draft opinions are not usually leaked. Many on the right think that the draft was leaked by a liberal staffer to subject the court to political pressure. But it’s also possible that a conservative leaked the draft as a way of politically testing the waters for a highly controversial version of the decision. By leaking a highly extreme opinion, more political space is potentially created for a less extreme, but still very controversial decision. Supreme Court justices do worry about the political legitimacy of the court. They do worry that if they push things too far, congress may seek to impeach some of the justices of pack the court. That brings me to the position I want to put in front of you today–if Donald Trump were president, the Supreme Court might be more skittish about touching Roe. That may sound like a bizarre view. Give me a chance to explain.

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On the State of the Left in 2022

This past weekend, I did a couple panels for the Platypus Society at the University of Chicago and Northwestern. These included two prepared ten-minute talks. The talks focus on the relationship between Marxism and liberalism, and on the degree to which the Millennial Left is and was Marxist. The scripts for those two talks are below. If you watched the panels live (or on YouTube), I did ad-lib a bit in places. This is not a transcript.

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Misreadings of Marcuse and the Confused Cancel Culture Debate

Recently, Matt Taibbi wrote a piece blaming Herbert Marcuse for the condition of the American left. Separately, Nathan Robinson was pushed out by The Guardian over a joke tweet criticizing the United States for providing military aid to Israel. Robinson and Taibbi have been on opposite sides in the debate over whether “cancel culture” is a problem for the left. Despite this episode with The Guardian, Robinson continues to deny that the left has a cancelling problem, while Taibbi not only maintains that this problem exists but lays the blame for it at the feet of Marcuse. I think both sides are missing something, and I want to try to mediate.

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The Four Centrisms

Back in 2016, I argued that the centrist consensus of the 90s was breaking down, and that instead there was a wider menu, with three meaningfully distinct choices:

  • Left Egalitarianism, which critiqued the consensus on the grounds that it enabled capitalists to exploit workers
  • Neoliberalism, which defended the consensus through the traditional center-right and center-left parties
  • Right Nationalism, which critiqued the consensus on the grounds that it enabled foreigners to exploit citizens

I no longer believe that this menu exists, and it may never have existed. Instead, I think there are four different types of centrist position. These types of centrism are aesthetically different but substantively nearly identical. By differentiating aesthetically, the 90s consensus is able to accommodate a higher level of cultural polarisation while protecting the core commitments of the 90s consensus.

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A Left Critique of the Current Protests

There are a number of problems with the strategy of the current protest movement. No one seems to be writing about these problems. This is not to say that no one can see them. Many folks have reservations, but stay silent in the hope that the protests will succeed. Others see the problems but fear that pointing them out will attract hostility from fanatics on the internet. The problem is that the strategy is not just sub-optimal–it is counterproductive. It is going to blow up in our faces, and the sooner we face up to that, the better. Here’s why.

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