Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: Kanye West

Why I Like Thomas Hobbes and You Should Too

People are sometimes surprised to discover how much I love Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes is the political theorist who wrote Leviathan. He presents a pretty grim account of human nature–for him, people have conflicting desires in a world of scarcity, they don’t know each other’s intentions, but they do know that they can hurt other people and that if they do so other people will be intimidated and might not hurt them. We can’t share thoughts and feelings because each of us is stuck in a different body and words are vague and unreliable, so we’re always alienated from each other and always prone to conflict. Hobbes wants to live, and he wants everyone else to live too, so he proposes that we solve this problem by submitting to the state. The state protects us from each other, and once we’re protected a space for trusting other people opens up.

Most left-wing people hate this. They hate that Hobbes even presents an account of human nature in the first place, much less one so grim as this. They especially hate how powerful Hobbes makes his state–he only allows people to defy the state when it threatens their own lives, and while he’s willing to tolerate a sovereign parliament Hobbes certainly prefers monarchy, because in his view it’s less likely to lead to conflicts about where the sovereignty is, which could end in civil war and death.

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The Collapse of Artistic Criticism Under Trump

The Trump presidency has been bad for art and the way we evaluate it. Yes, there’s newfound popularity for far right art forms that speak to dark impulses. “Martial industrial” music–often set to images of Nazis marching–is spooky stuff, and in the last few years it’s quietly spread all over YouTube:

But mainstream art critics have mostly ignored the niches of material which are nakedly far right. They prefer to focus on more popular stuff. And here they have done us a number of disservices, aiding the right even as they attempt to resist it.

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The Overground Hell Road: The Similarities Between Kanye and Gandhi Are Scary

Today Kanye West said:

When you hear about slavery for 400 years…For 400 years? That sounds like a choice. You were there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all. It’s like we’re mentally imprisoned…right now we’re choosing to be enslaved. [T]o make myself clear. Of course I know that slaves did not get shackled and put on a boat by free will. My point is for us to have stayed in that position even though the numbers were on our side means that we were mentally enslaved. [T]he reason why I brought up the 400 years point is because we can’t be mentally imprisoned for another 400 years. We need free thought now. Even the statement was an example of free thought. It was just an idea. [O]nce again I am being attacked for presenting new ideas.

Lots of people have attacked Kanye, accusing him of various bad isms. I’m going to do something different. I’m going to compare him to Gandhi.

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The Candace Owens Problem

This year has been politically very stale, and so I continue to get my kicks from the strange things Kanye West coughs up on Twitter. Kanye is a window into the American id. He doesn’t read and he doesn’t listen to anybody. He goes out of his way to avoid other people’s interpretations. This enables him to more directly access what’s happening, but it robs him of the intellectual tools necessary to refine his understanding. Recently Kanye tweeted:

Who is Candace Owens? I’d never heard of her. Kanye made me look her up, and looking up Candace Owens taught me something–despite Bernie Sanders, despite DSA, despite all the left activism in the United States over the past few years, there are still millions and millions of Americans who have no idea a left alternative to the Democratic Party establishment exists.

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Kanye’s Return to Twitter and Liberalism’s Love Affair With Fear

Kanye West recently returned to Twitter. Many people think Kanye is an idiot, but if he is, he’s something of an idiot savant–the unrefined one-liners he tosses out are often in the neighborhood of truth, and those of us who pay attention can make use of what might seem useless. For instance, here’s two Kanye tweets:

Is it really true that everything single thing we do stems from either fear or love? Probably not–but it got me thinking. Have you noticed how completely and totally animated by fear contemporary liberal politics is, and how manipulative it has become as a result?

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