Daily Archives: February 19, 2024

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New C4SS Article on Dialectics

Today, Center for a Stateless Society published my newest essay: “It Really Does Depend on the Context: Ben Burgis and the Analytical Marxist Critique of Dialectics.” As I write:

The title of this essay recalls the Congressional hearing that took place on December 5, 2023, in which Claudine Gay, the president of Harvard University, seemed to dodge difficult questions by uttering the phrase “it depends on the context.” The phrase immediately became meme-able, even the butt of an opening “Saturday Night Live” skit. New York Times journalist A. O. Scott (2024) wrote that more than any other word, be it “plagiarism” or “genocide,” “Gay’s fate was sealed by a single word. … The word was ‘context’.” Scott’s larger point, of course, was that throughout the heated controversy, there was, in fact, a “rigorous avoidance of context” — the context of election-year politics, unending global conflicts, the crises in higher education, and so forth.

My purpose in this essay is not to relitigate that Congressional hearing. Rather, it is to focus on the method for which keeping context is primary. That method — dialectics — addresses societal problems by exploring their many overlapping and shifting contexts in a dynamic world.

Check out the “full context” here!

For discussion, see here, here, and here.

Song of the Day #2103

Song of the Day: A Man Called Otto (“Til Your Home”) features the words and music of Sebastian Yatra and Rita Wilson, who was a co-producer of this poignant 2022 comedy-drama. Based on the 2012 novel “A Man Called Ove“, written by Fredrik Backman, and a 2015 Swedish film adaptation, this film stars Tom Hanks in the title role. Thomas Newman composed the film score, but this song is a standout from the film’s soundtrack. Check out the official video, which highlights scenes from the film [YouTube link].