The Indelible Bonobo Experience

Renaissance Monkey: in-depth expertise in Jack-of-all-trading. I mostly comment on news of interest to me and occasionally engage in debates or troll passive-aggressively. Ask or Submit 2 mah authoritah! ;) !

On Saturday, Michael Grunwald, a senior correspondent at Time, stoked controversy by tweeting, “I can’t wait to write a defense of the drone strike that takes out Julian Assange.” The tweet triggered an immediate backlash among people who believe that murder is wrong, and that expressing preemptive delight at the prospect of defending murder is wrongheaded and repugnant. Shortly thereafter, Grunwald apologized to his followers, called his tweet “dumb,” and deleted it. (via The Ideology Behind Michael Grunwald’s Repugnant Assange Tweet - Conor Friedersdorf - The Atlantic)
Even though, as Amy Davidson noted at the New Yorker, “Grunwald seems a bit oblivious as to what was wrong with what he said,” I’m allergic to anyone being fired over any one tweet, especially if they express regret for sending it.
It is nevertheless worth dwelling on his tweet a moment longer, because it illuminates a type that is common but seldom pegged in America. You see, Grunwald is a radical ideologue. It’s just that almost no one recognizes it. The label “radical ideologue” is usually used to describe Noam Chomsky or members of the John Birch Society. We think of radical ideologues as occupying the far right or left. Lately a lot of people seem to think that The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald is a radical (often they wrongly conflate the style with which he expresses his views with their substance). But Grunwald graduated from Harvard, spent a decade at the Washington Post, and now works as a senior correspondent at Time. How radical could someone with that resume possibly be?
That doesn’t mean that he’s a bad guy, or that he shouldn’t be a journalist. But as someone who finds Grunwald’s ideology as problematic and wrongheaded as I’m sure he finds aspects of my worldview, I tire of the fact that people who share it are treated as pragmatic centrists while their critics, whether on the libertarian right or the civil liberties left, are dismissed as impractical ideologues.
He reflexively assumed that objections to a tweet about the extrajudicial killing of a transparency activist came from the “Don’t Tread on Me crowd” — as if only right-wing libertarians would object to such a sentiment! The link delivers us to a Time essay, “Tread on Me,” that surveys a whole range of controversies and lays out his overarching attitude, which manages to combine anti-libertarian and anti-civil-libertarian aspects. 
Denying a particular American his Miranda rights, because we’re really sure this one is guilty, and hey, terrorism!, is objectionable in different ways, which cannot be waived away with “the republic will survive.” Preserving a culture of due process is, in fact, vital to the survival of a free society. No single violation is fatal, but Grunwald appears oblivious to the danger of undermining the culture, and to how radical it is to call for one-off departures of convenience from long established norms. Using the same logic, one could argue that, hey, torturing Dzhokar Tsarnaev might’ve prevented further tragedy, and it isn’t like the republic wouldn’t survive another waterboarding!

On Saturday, Michael Grunwald, a senior correspondent at Time, stoked controversy by tweeting, “I can’t wait to write a defense of the drone strike that takes out Julian Assange.” The tweet triggered an immediate backlash among people who believe that murder is wrong, and that expressing preemptive delight at the prospect of defending murder is wrongheaded and repugnant. Shortly thereafter, Grunwald apologized to his followers, called his tweet “dumb,” and deleted it. (via The Ideology Behind Michael Grunwald’s Repugnant Assange Tweet - Conor Friedersdorf - The Atlantic)

  • Even though, as Amy Davidson noted at the New Yorker, “Grunwald seems a bit oblivious as to what was wrong with what he said,” I’m allergic to anyone being fired over any one tweet, especially if they express regret for sending it.
  • It is nevertheless worth dwelling on his tweet a moment longer, because it illuminates a type that is common but seldom pegged in America. You see, Grunwald is a radical ideologue. It’s just that almost no one recognizes it. The label “radical ideologue” is usually used to describe Noam Chomsky or members of the John Birch Society. We think of radical ideologues as occupying the far right or left. Lately a lot of people seem to think that The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald is a radical (often they wrongly conflate the style with which he expresses his views with their substance). But Grunwald graduated from Harvard, spent a decade at the Washington Post, and now works as a senior correspondent at Time. How radical could someone with that resume possibly be?
  • That doesn’t mean that he’s a bad guy, or that he shouldn’t be a journalist. But as someone who finds Grunwald’s ideology as problematic and wrongheaded as I’m sure he finds aspects of my worldview, I tire of the fact that people who share it are treated as pragmatic centrists while their critics, whether on the libertarian right or the civil liberties left, are dismissed as impractical ideologues.
  • He reflexively assumed that objections to a tweet about the extrajudicial killing of a transparency activist came from the “Don’t Tread on Me crowd” — as if only right-wing libertarians would object to such a sentiment! The link delivers us to a Time essay, “Tread on Me,” that surveys a whole range of controversies and lays out his overarching attitude, which manages to combine anti-libertarian and anti-civil-libertarian aspects. 
  • Denying a particular American his Miranda rights, because we’re really sure this one is guilty, and hey, terrorism!, is objectionable in different ways, which cannot be waived away with “the republic will survive.” Preserving a culture of due process is, in fact, vital to the survival of a free society. No single violation is fatal, but Grunwald appears oblivious to the danger of undermining the culture, and to how radical it is to call for one-off departures of convenience from long established norms. Using the same logic, one could argue that, hey, torturing Dzhokar Tsarnaev might’ve prevented further tragedy, and it isn’t like the republic wouldn’t survive another waterboarding!
"Nothing is more dangerous for man’s private morality than the habit of command. The best man, the most intelligent, disinterested, generous, pure, will infallibly and always be spoiled at this trade. Two sentiments inherent in power never fail to produce this demoralisation; they are: contempt for the masses and the overestimation of one’s own merits."
Mikahil Bakunin (1814-1876), Power Corrupts Best

"Nothing is more dangerous for man’s private morality than the habit of command. The best man, the most intelligent, disinterested, generous, pure, will infallibly and always be spoiled at this trade. Two sentiments inherent in power never fail to produce this demoralisation; they are: contempt for the masses and the overestimation of one’s own merits."

Mikahil Bakunin (1814-1876), Power Corrupts Best

In a grandiose display of Foucauldian irony, one of the greatest anti-capitalist debates of our time has been reduced to an intellectual commodity.
We wish to emphasize one important point. We do not contest Icarus Films’ exclusive legal right to distribute the debate within the narrow confines of our present legal order; what we do contest, however, is the very nature of that order as it prioritizes the private ownership of public knowledge over its widespread dissemination among the very public that helped to produce it. The creation and use of knowledge is a collective enterprise that cannot be jammed into the suffocating straitjacket of a privatized intellectual commodity. The video we shared was broadcast on Dutch public television in 1971. The production itself was paid for by Dutch taxpayers and made possible entirely by the creative input of two of the world’s most staunchly anti-capitalist thinkers, whose intellectual product was subsequently alienated by producer Fons Elders (a “professed anarchist” who also acted as the incapable moderator of the debate) and appropriated by international companies that did nothing to make the debate possible. Now the entire world is barred from seeing it just because this company owns an exclusive legal right to its distribution in North America. Again, our issue here is not with a distributor of great documentary films that clings on to a somewhat outdated business model in the hope of squeezing a few bucks out of a 40-year-old public debate. Our issue is with a system that forces the employees of such a company to chase us down the streets of cyberspace in order to satisfy the profit motive that the market imposes upon their boss. This is precisely the “private tyranny” of the marketplace decried by the great thinkers of the Left, including Chomsky and Foucault in this debate. Ironic, isn’t it? (via Chomsky-Foucault debate removed due to copyright | ROAR Magazine)

In a grandiose display of Foucauldian irony, one of the greatest anti-capitalist debates of our time has been reduced to an intellectual commodity.

We wish to emphasize one important point. We do not contest Icarus Films’ exclusive legal right to distribute the debate within the narrow confines of our present legal order; what we do contest, however, is the very nature of that order as it prioritizes the private ownership of public knowledge over its widespread dissemination among the very public that helped to produce it. The creation and use of knowledge is a collective enterprise that cannot be jammed into the suffocating straitjacket of a privatized intellectual commodity. The video we shared was broadcast on Dutch public television in 1971. The production itself was paid for by Dutch taxpayers and made possible entirely by the creative input of two of the world’s most staunchly anti-capitalist thinkers, whose intellectual product was subsequently alienated by producer Fons Elders (a “professed anarchist” who also acted as the incapable moderator of the debate) and appropriated by international companies that did nothing to make the debate possible. Now the entire world is barred from seeing it just because this company owns an exclusive legal right to its distribution in North America. Again, our issue here is not with a distributor of great documentary films that clings on to a somewhat outdated business model in the hope of squeezing a few bucks out of a 40-year-old public debate. Our issue is with a system that forces the employees of such a company to chase us down the streets of cyberspace in order to satisfy the profit motive that the market imposes upon their boss. This is precisely the “private tyranny” of the marketplace decried by the great thinkers of the Left, including Chomsky and Foucault in this debate. Ironic, isn’t it? (via Chomsky-Foucault debate removed due to copyright | ROAR Magazine)