— On Assholes

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To many of his supporters, Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, is an asshole. But he’s also entertaining, even likable, bold and courageous, and certainly a winner. What is more, he’s potentially a force for good. Our political system is chock-full of assholes (is it not?), in which case we could do well to add an even bigger, stronger asshole in hopes of bringing order. As the great political philosopher Thomas Hobbes might have put it, Trump, the alpha-asshole, has the potential to “over-awe” the others and restore orderly cooperation.

… continue reading here

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Check out the audio version of Assholes: A Theory of Donald Trump here.  A expert on Soundcloud is here:

 

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_Assholes: A Theory of Donald Trump_ , by yours truly (cover photo here)

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“devi essere sempre più furbo degli altri per avere successo nella vita” (you have always to be  more clever than any other if you want to be successful).  The result in Italy, according to a helpful correspondent, herself Italian, is that assholes and jerks are everywhere .

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2013 was a banner year in assholery—in no small part because of the breathtaking spectacle of Senator Ted Cruz.  But while it is never good when self-aggrandizing political entrepreneurs walk a country and the world to the edge of a needless economic disaster, 2013 also brought some remarkable good news.   …  Continue reading here.

 

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Selected beauties from Kanye (see here, for the full compendium of 2013 foolishness).

 

“If I were to write my title like going through the airport and you have to put down what you do? I would literally write ‘creative genius’ except for two reasons: Sometimes it takes too long to write that and sometimes I spell the word ‘genius’ wrong. The irony.” November 18, Bret Easton Ellis Podcast

“It’s only led me to complete awesomeness at all times. It’s only led me to awesome truth and awesomeness. Beauty, truth, awesomeness. That’s all it is. “June 16, New York Times

“So the next day I went to the studio with Daft Punk, and I wrote ‘I Am a God,’Cause it’s like, yo! Nobody can tell me where I can and can’t go. Man, I’m the No. 1 living and breathing rock star. I am Axl Rose; I am Jim Morrison; I am Jimi Hendrix.” June 19, W Magazine

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Here is Louisa Kamps, writing for Elle magazine (here):

In his erudite and streetwise Assholes: A Theory (Doubleday), UC Irvine political philosophy prof Aaron James looks at the consequences of income inequality and reminds us how, for millennia now, philosophers have been grappling with the moral challenges of treating other humans decently. James, an avid surfer, became interested in the subject when he realized that a certain prototypical surfer—Lance, he calls him, rather nicely—can be found on every great swell around the world. Lance has “decided that he should have almost any wave he wants,” and when “people see him paddling for a wave, they should realize that he is the regular, that he’s the better…surfer, and that this wave is therefore his wave.” Even if somebody is already up on it, Lance takes “his” wave. As “other surfers are ‘burned’ in this way”—flicked

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Zach Dorfman offers a lovely discussion, sounding themes of dignity, in the LA Review of Books, here.  Here’s the first bit:

YOU KNOW HIM, I PROMISE. He is difficult to avoid — especially, it seems, in our great urban centers. Curiously, the tonier the ZIP code, the more he seems to multiply like some droning, infuriating ungulate. He is the person who weaves through three lanes of traffic suddenly, without signaling. He is the person who sits near you at a movie theater and proceeds to take a phone call in the middle of the feature. He is

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Where the “sucker” is defined as one who fails to stand up to an asshole, on behalf of cooperative people (or him or herself), when this appropriate and necessary.  The sucker is thus complicit in the asshole’s assholery, even if not necessarily an asshole him or herself.

It can be hard to tell when someone is a sucker so defined, because it can be hard to tell when standing up to an asshole is appropriate and necessary.  Much of the time, we should just blow of an asshole and let the frustrations go, and it can be a tough call when it would be productive and right to take on the fight.  Assholes succeed by exploiting this zone of uncertainty.  Because cooperative people disagree about when and when not to resist the asshole, they often turn on one another, making the assholes work easier for him.

Alas, in Boehner’s case, the case seems relatively clear cut.  With global financial catastrophe in the cards, with stakes that don’t get too much higher, it is fair to say that he’s well beyond the zone of uncertainty.  Taking a stand for the public good is now necessary (and possible, since Boehner merely has to allow a vote on the House floor, which will settle the issue with a significant bi-partisan majority).  So Boehner probably isn’t an asshole.  But in this case, being a sucker may be as bad or worse.

 

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