Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: Legitimacy

Notre Dame is Not a Monument to “Whiteness” or “Western Civilization”

The fire at Notre Dame in Paris might have been an opportunity for us to come together to express our appreciation for history and for the beautiful things that emerge from it. But there are some people who think Notre Dame is about contemporary political debates to do with racism, colonialism, or terrorism. Already I am seeing wokescold anarchists rejoicing in the fire, calling Notre Dame a symbol of “whiteness” or “colonialism”:

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Why Political Disagreement is so Hard to Settle

Last week, I went to one of the debates at the Cambridge Union about whether or not Britain ought to have a second referendum on Brexit. It struck me that the way this argument works is very misleading. The two sides pretend to be arguing about whether it would be democratic to have another referendum, and frame their arguments around procedural fairness and democratic legitimacy. But that isn’t really what the argument is about. There’s a much deeper disagreement, about whether Brexit is an acceptable outcome in the first place–if it’s the kind of result which, by its very nature, invalidates the process which led up to it.

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The Supreme Court is Gripped by an Unsustainable Conception of Individual Freedom

Today the Supreme Court voted, 5-4, to enable public sector workers to unilaterally withhold contributions from their unions. Justices Roberts, Alito, Gorsuch, Thomas, and Kennedy were in the majority, with Kagan, Ginsberg, Sotomayor, and Breyer in dissent. The principle guiding the majority’s decision is simple and intuitively appealing. When workers pay unions dues, those unions use that money to fund political speech. Individual workers may not agree with the union’s speech acts, and therefore compelling them to pay dues ties their employment to their willingness to espouse a particular kind of political speech with their wallets. The court argues that requiring workers to make certain kinds of political speech acts with their wallets to retain employment violates their free speech rights. The argument is internally valid–it makes sense, given a particular conception of individual freedom. The trouble is that this conception of individual freedom is destabilising the labour market in a politically dangerous way, and in consistently choosing to interpret this principle in this way the court is threatening the legitimacy of the state.

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The Left’s Problem With Order, the Center’s Problem With Happiness, and the Right’s Problem With the Truth

There’s something wrong with the conversation in each of our mass movements today–the left, the center, and the right. Each one is missing something important, and because of this it’s difficult for perceptive people to feel truly at home in any of them.

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Democrats Shouldn’t Call Trump “Illegitimate” Unless They Mean It

Recently I’ve been disturbed by how flippantly the term “illegitimate” is getting tossed around by some Democrats and Trump opponents. Since Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) denounced Trump as illegitimate, many have criticized Trump’s petulant reply to Lewis while defending or echoing his remark. Some feel this is perfectly acceptable because the birthers on the right denied Obama’s legitimacy, claiming falsely that he was born in Kenya. But while the birther movement was absurd, we did not see mainstream Republican politicians explicitly deny the legitimacy of Obama–even Trump himself never used that term in any of his birther tweets. Legitimacy is a very serious political concept, and we should be extraordinarily selective about when we invoke it. Read the rest of this entry »