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If you are going to smear Ayn Rand, the Pauls, etc, at least be witty about it

21 Jul

Radley Balko has a FaceBook Note where he aggregates all the variously droolingly stupid and foamingly rabid headlines from articles at places like Stalon.com (a website President Putin funds as a vanity project for his American concubine Joan Walsh) or TrapNeuterRelease (a magazine on a lifeline from a Facebook billionaire for eunuchs and people with congenital deformities of the crotch who were misdiagnosed as gay).

(We’ve commented on a number of these before at IL ourselves.)

Since I think Radley’s ethics won’t actually allow him to shoot me, I am reproducing it here without even asking:











Portrait of an obsession: Every Alternet and/or Salon headline about libertarians from the last three years.

As Gene Healy put it, “Never before have so many been so intimidated by so few with so little political power.”

New articles up to July 2015

Libertarianism is for white men

What Rand Paul’s libertarian hypocrisy reveals about the GOP’s giant race problem

America’s libertarian freakshow: Inside the free-market fetish of Rand Paul & Ted Cruz

Rise of the techno-Libertarians: The 5 most socially destructive aspects of Silicon Valley

Big Data’s big libertarian lie: Facebook, Google and the Silicon Valley ethical overhaul we need

Elon Musk will not save us: Why libertarians waiting for a superman are wasting everyone’s time

Beware the Silicon Valley elite: Ayn Rand, Google libertarianism and Indiana’s “religious freedom”

I was a troll on the white dude-bro Internet: The dark side of gaming, libertarianism, and guns

Rand Paul’s civil rights fiasco: How Jon Stewart just unmasked him — and exposed libertarians’ perverted view of freedom

Rand Paul’s dystopian America: 6 things to know about the war-mongering, faux libertarian

My Personal Libertarian Hell: How I Enraged the Movement and Paid the Price

How Big Business Invented the Theology of ‘Christian Libertarianism’ and the Gospel of Free Markets


Welcome to ‘Libertarian Island’: Inside the Frightening Economic Dreams of Silicon Valley’s Super Rich

It’s Bizarre: Libertarians Are Clueless About the ‘Free Market’ That They Worship

The True History of Libertarianism in America: A Phony Ideology to Promote a Corporate Agenda

New articles up to March 2015

Libertarianism is for petulant children: Ayn Rand, Rand Paul and the movement’s sad “rebellion”

The atheist libertarian lie: Ayn Rand, income inequality and the fantasy of the “free market”

Nightmare libertarian project turns country into the murder capital of the world



21 Rand Paul quotes that expose libertarianism for the con job it is

Ann Coulter: Libertarian voters are “idiots” who deserve to “drown”

My unusual libertarian journey: How a former outlaw broke the political mold

Libertarian Sham: Using the L Word to Hide Even Worse Politics

Ayn Rand’s capitalist paradise lost: The inside story of a libertarian scam

The sharing economy is a lie: Uber, Ayn Rand and the truth about tech and libertarians

Rand Paul’s libertarian hoax: Why his latest strategy is a sham

“That’s something that should make libertarians nervous”: Inside the tumultuous rise of an American ideology

You’re Not the Boss of Me! Why Libertarianism Is a Childish Sham

Big Economic Theory Underpinning Libertarian Economics Is Total Baloney

The True History of Libertarianism in America: A Phony Ideology to Promote a Corporate Agenda

Koch-Tied Group Tries to Trick Stoners Into Voting for Wisconsin Libertarian

Rand Paul’s Quest to Woo Young People — What Does It Mean for Libertarianism?

Koch Brothers: Teach Our Libertarian Claptrap and Get Millions for Your College!

What Happened When Some Libertarians Went Off to Build Ayn Rand’s Vision of Paradise



New articles up to September 2014


Confessions of a recovering Libertarian: How I escaped a world of Ron Paul hero worship

Rand Paul gets schooled: Libertarian fantasies don’t help kids learn — teachers do

Ferguson brings the libertarians: Why a new coalition has everyone confused

Libertarians’ true identity revealed: Rich conservatives OK with gay people, basically

The GOP’s libertarian time bomb: Why “going Rand” would be an electoral disaster

The 7 strangest libertarian ideas

The atheist libertarian lie: Ayn Rand, income inequality and the fantasy of the “free market”

Ann Coulter: Libertarian voters are “idiots” who deserve to “drown”

Ron Paul’s no Nirvana, and this isn’t the “Libertarian Moment”

Proof the GOP’s newfound “libertarianism” is a big ol’ sham

Stephen Colbert skewers libertarian scheme: “I’m tired of the whole idea of a melting pot in America”

The GOP’s new holy land: How libertarianism is changing the face of the Republican Party

Rand Paul, Giant Libertarian Fraud

Koch Brothers: Teach Our Libertarian Claptrap and Get Millions for Your College!

How Hanging Out With Libertarians Made Me Stop Being a Libertarian

You Don’t Know What ‘Libertarian’ Means

Some Self-Described Libertarians Can’t Distinguish Libertarian from Communist or Unitarian

What Happened When Some Libertarians Went Off to Build Ayn Rand’s Vision of Paradise

NYT Sunday Magazine Falls Hook, Line and Sinker For Libertarians’ Big Propaganda Lie

Why Are Koch Brothers Trying to Masquerade as Libertarians?

Ugly Right-Wing Underbelly of the Libertarian Cause on Display at Silicon Valley Conference

7 Libertarian Upstarts Who Might Help Democrats Keep Their U.S. Senate Majority: These beer-swilling, racist, movie junkie, misogynist and plain-jane Libertarians might just help Dems keep the Senate.


Libertarians’ Sneaky New Crusade


What would the Founding Fathers have thought about our libertarian crazies?


Death of a Libertarian Fantasy: Why Dreams of a Digital Utopia Are Rapidly Fading Away

How the Libertarian Agenda Drowns Out Rational Approaches to Major Social Problems Like Guns and Auto Accidents

How Libertarianism Would Actually Curtail Human Freedom

Disgraced coal baron rebrands himself as libertarian activist

Libertarians’ anti-government crusade: Now there’s an app for that

Why I left libertarianism: An ethical critique of a limited ideology

The question libertarians just can’t answer

Grow up, Libertarians!



New articles up to May 2014

Google shows libertarians the money

Cliven Bundy’s next sick libertarian paradise: Georgia wants you to die from gun violence

Libertarians’ scary new star: Meet Bryan Caplan, the right’s next “great” philosopher

Fresh Silicon Valley libertarian idiocy: Government is “slavery”

The libertarian dream crypto-currency is here — but its fate remains uncertain

Piketty shrugged: How the French economist dashed libertarians’ Ayn Randian fantasies

Astra Taylor’s radical Internet critique: “I don’t want to give in to the libertarian logic of our time”

Ralph Nader Wants You to Join Right-Wing Libertarians to Solve America’s Problems: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

New articles up to April 2014

Don’t Leave Bitcoin to the Libertarians! Why the Progressive Movement Needs Open Source Money

Young, rich and politically ignorant: Sean Parker and the next generation of libertarian billionaires

Cause for trepidation: Libertarians’ newfound concern for prison reform

10 reasons Americans should be wary of Rand Paul’s libertarianism — especially millennials

Libertarians’ delusional “New Atlantis” fantasy: Floating ocean city-states

CEO of Reddit: “The userbase for bitcoin is basically crazy libertarians”

Game over: How libertarians lost the battle for Bitcoin’s soul

Why We Should Be Suspicious of the Libertarian Right’s Newfound Concern for Prison Reform

3 inconvenient facts that make libertarians’ heads explode

Libertarians’ ethical gap: Why their alliance with Christians is based on contempt

Sorry, libertarians: The IRS is going to levy taxes on your bit coins


Articles from 2012 to February 2014

Letter to an Angry Libertarian

The Libertarian Billionaire Agenda Propelling the Tea Party Monster That Has Shut Down Congress

What America Would Look Like If Libertarians Got Their Way

Why Atheist Libertarians Are Part of America’s 1 Percent Problem

Libertarian Writings that Read Like Comic Books

The True History of Libertarianism in America: A Phony Ideology to Promote a Corporate Agenda

Latest Major Chemical Spill Exposes Flaws of Libertarian Approach to Govt.

Why Libertarians Are Basically Cult Members

The Terrifying Future Envisioned By Libertarians

Meet Former GOP Public Relations Flak Radley Balko, Now a Libertarian Crusader Against Police Militarization

How a Libertarian Used Ayn Rand’s Crazy Philosophy to Drive Sears Into the Ground

The Libertarian Con: Favorite ‘Rebel’ Ideology of the Ruling Class

Libertarian Developer’s Ayn Rand Fantasy Is Detroit’s Latest Nightmare

How an Ayn Rand-Loving Libertarian Destroyed The Company He Runs With His Cultish Objectivist Theories

Exposed: How a Lot of the Libertarian Outrage Over Govt. Spying Is Just Shilling for the Private Surveillance Biz

Don’t Be Fooled by Pot-Loving Libertarian Gary Johnson — He Works for the 1%

Libertarian Activist Openly Loads Shotgun and Calls for Revolution in D.C.

Are Right-Wing Libertarian Internet Trolls Getting Paid to Dumb Down Online Conversations?

The Really Creepy People Behind the Libertarian-Inspired Billionaire Sea Castles

A Rand Paul Presidential Campaign Would Teach Americans Just How Vicious and Anti-Social the Libertarian Agenda Is

The Ultimate Escape: The Bizarre Libertarian Plan of Uploading Brains into Robots to Escape Society

Jon Stewart Eviscerates Free-Market Libertarianism in Bit on Illegal Foreclosure

Libertarian Suggests Children Should be Trained to Tackle Shooters

Exposed: How a Lot of the Libertarian Outrage Over Govt. Spying Is Just Shilling for the Private Surveillance Biz

Ayn Randroids and Libertarians Join Forces: Will Her Noxious Philosophy Further Infect America?

Libertarians in 2013: The Even Whiter, Wealthier, WASPier Bastion of Republican Party

Politically Isolated Libertarians Go Literal, Consolidating Plans For Man-Made Libertarian Islands

Why Libertarians Play the Clowns in the Circus Show Called the Republican Party

Libertines v. Libertarians: Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s Rejection of Sexual Restraints

The secret libertarianism of Uber & Airbnb

Great Disawakening: A Burgeoning Libertarian Contagion?

When libertarianism fails

Libertarians with money, scarier than a black man with a gun

Christie slams ‘libertarian’ trend on security

Libertarianism’s Amorality

Colonial Americans Were Not Libertarians!

Why Libertarianism Loses Me (Hint: Because I Love Steak)

Bringing back feudalism-Is libertarianism an unwitting tool?

The question libertarians just can’t answer

Why I fled libertarianism — and became a liberal

Confessions of a former Libertarian: My personal, psychological and intellectual epiphany

5 libertarian oligarchs who made fortunes off the government they want to destroy

GOP’s epic internal struggle: The modernists vs. libertarian fabulists

“The Daily Show” destroys Fox News libertarian Andrew Napolitano for blaming the Civil War on Abraham Lincoln

Edward Snowden: A libertarian hero

Don’t ally with libertarians: Ideologues co-opt an anti-NSA rally

11 questions to see if libertarians are hypocrites

A Bitcoin libertarian disaster: The Silk Road gets busted

5 bogus libertarian talking points

Libertarians are very confused about capitalism

A libertarian nightmare: Bitcoin meets Big Government

Libertarians: Still a cult

The screwed generation: Libertarian, not liberal

Grow up, Libertarians!

“The Walking Dead”: Anti-libertarian critique

A libertarian man’s surprising proposal: Gender quotas!

“Libertarian populism” = Ayn Rand in disguise

Sorry, libertarians: You’re still hypocrites

How to beat libertarians on the economy

Antonin Scalia, civil libertarian?

Judge behind Verizon order tied to free trip from libertarian think tank

Here’s what’s wrong with Ayn Rand, libertarians

Libertarians are even whiter and wealthier than the GOP

The libertarian/marijuana conspiracy to swing the election

Libertarians name North Dakota “most free” state

Is Werner Herzog a libertarian?

“The Libertarian Case for Mitt Romney” is hilarious

Rand Paul tries to sell social conservatives on libertarianism

Thom Hartmann: Libertarians are pushing us over a cliff

Liberals should unite with Libertarians (sometimes)

Libertarians who don’t understand liberty

Ann Coulter gets booed by a roomful of libertarians

Libertarians fear Obamacare so much they closed the government

How Libertarian-Style Capitalism Killed My Father and My Best Friends

Libertarian women’s history month: Camille Paglia

21 Mar
Camille Anna Paglia (born April 2, 1947) a self-described dissident feminist, has been a professor at the University of the Arts in PhiladelphiaPennsylvania, since 1984. The New York Times oddly described her as “first and foremost an educator,” though clearly she is primarily a provocateur, paradigm shifter, and public intellectual.  Her speech pours forth in torrents of fructifying tangential themes, which barely works in a lecture or long format interview (like the one done this week, below, by reasonTV), but it leaves her an undigestible surd and outlier when she appears on TV panels like Bonnie Erbe’s feminist version of The McLaughlin Group, the PBS distributed  To the contrary.  Imagine a more deeply educated, more original, maybe more media savvy, more libertarian, less closeted, and way more caffeinated Susan Sontag.

In an interview with reason magazine in the mid 90s, Paglia explained what she means when she calls herself both a libertarian and a Clinton Democrat:  “I consider myself not a conservative libertarian but a radical ’60s libertarian.  I feel that government has no right to intrude into the private realm of consensual behavior. Therefore, I say that I’m for the abolition of all sodomy laws. I’m for abortion rights. I’m for the legalization of drugs—consistent with alcohol regulations. I’m for not just the decriminalization but the legalization of prostitution. Again, prostitutes must not intrude into the public realm. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to say that civil authorities have the right to say that prostitutes should not be loitering near schools, or on the steps of churches, or blocking entrances to buildings and so on. Prostitution should be perfectly legal, but it cannot interfere with other people’s access to the public realm.I believe that government should confine itself to the public realm and that it should be as stripped down as possible, within reason. It should not be burdened by excess bureaucracy.

“Furthermore, the public realm is not owned by Judeo-Christianity. It is shared by people of all cultural and religious backgrounds. Therefore, I’m arguing for the Greco-Roman or pagan line, which is very tolerant of homosexuality and even of man-boy love. I’ve argued controversially for a reduction in the age of consent to 14—there are some countries in the world that do have that. I’m open to considering even lowering it further.
“That’s the way I would be separate from a conservative libertarian, who would not necessarily take the position of the legalization of drugs or the very positive attitude I have toward prostitutes and pornographers and drag queens. I take a celebratory attitude toward them. Similarly, I think that most conservative libertarians would not agree with my idea of lowering the age of consent and so on.
In the first chapter of Sexual Personae, I made a defense of capitalism. I feel that capitalism has a very bad press with the pseudo-leftists who clog our best college campuses and that in point of fact capitalism has produced modern individualism and feminism. Modern capitalism has allowed the birth of the independent woman who is no longer economically dependent on her husband. I despise the sneering that our liberal humanists do about capitalism even while they enjoy all of its pleasures and conveniences. I just despise it.
“However, I do believe that capitalism is inherently Darwinian and that a totally free market is ultimately inhumane, because you’ll have what happened in the 19th century—a kind of piling up of profits at the very top, with working-class people falling way below. I do think that there should be some kind of safety net, that we should not tolerate, in an affluent society, extreme levels of poverty or deprivation.
“At the same time, I think that the way that the welfare state has developed is just atrocious. It’s part of the condescension and paternalism and the guilt of the affluent white upper-middle class to say: “Oh, they’ll be taken care of.” And so we have that huge culture of dependency which is suddenly, shockingly being broken, just like affirmative action. I never dreamed of the speed with which these issues which have been so long suppressed have come to the fore, and it seems like anything is possible now.
“I think it’s a very exciting time; I only regret it’s not my party, the Democratic Party, that started this whole process. Because Clinton was elected for change. I wish that he had taken the aggressive tack the Republicans have of really investigating every single bureaucracy, stripping it down.
“I despise bureaucrats. I despise administrators. That has been one of the most pernicious effects of the post-war years in academe. There has been an overgrowth of an arrogant master class of administrators on college campuses who are being paid twice the level of the salaries of the faculty and regard themselves as being in charge and everyone else as being their lackeys. What the Republicans are doing in Washington, looking at the federal government, I want people to be doing on the college campuses—to have a thoroughgoing review of this parasitic class of administrators.”
Her career making book was Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (1990), but her prolific output includes a collection of essays, Sex, Art, and American Culture (1992), an analysis of Alfred Hitchcock‘sThe Birds, and Break, Blow, Burn (2005) on poetry. Her most recent book is 2012’s Glittering Images




Paglia is known for her critical views of many aspects of modern culture, including feminism and liberalism. She has been characterized variously as a “contrarian academic” and a feminist “bête noire,” a “witty controversialist,” and a maverick, Margaret Wente has called Paglia “a writer in a category of her own… a feminist who hates affirmative action; an atheist who respects religion” and “a Democrat who thinks her party doesn’t get it.” Martha Duffy writes that Paglia “advocates a core curriculum based mostly on the classics” and rails against “chic French theorists Michel Foucault and Jacques Lacan,” and “has a strong libertarian streak — on subjects like pornography — that go straight to her ’60s coming-of-age.” Elaine Showalter has called Paglia a “radical libertarian,” noting her socially liberal stands on abortionsodomyprostitutiondrug use, and suicide. Paglia has denounced feminist academics and women’s studies, celebrated popular culture and Madonna, and become a media celebrity, writing op-eds and gossip columns, appearing on television and telling her story to journalists.

Paglia has said that she is willing to have her entire career judged on the basis of her composition of what she considers to be “probably the most important sentence that she has ever written”: “God is man’s greatest idea.”

Paglia’s Sexual Personae was rejected by at least seven different publishers before it was published by Yale University Press, whereupon it became a best seller, reaching seventh place on the paperback best-seller list, a rare accomplishment for a scholarly book. ‘Paglia called it her “prison book”, commenting, “I felt like CervantesGenet. It took all the resources of being Catholic to cut myself off and sit in my cell.” Sexual Personae has been called an “energetic, Freud-friendly reading of Western art“, one that seemed “heretical and perverse”, at the height of political correctness; according to Daniel Nester, its characterization of “William Blake as the British Marquis de Sade or Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson as ‘self-ruling hermaphrodites who cannot mate’ still pricks up many an English major’s ears”.

Paglia is a devotee of Oscar Wilde and Walter Pater, cherishing “performance, artifice and play rather than earnestness.” She has expressed admiration for Dorothy Parker and Mary McCarthy, as well as for models, singers and movie stars such as Elizabeth TaylorMadonna, and Barbra Streisand.  There are also many parallels between herself and Ayn Rand, Paglia told Salon.com (for which she and Glen Greenwald both used to be both sort of the “left-libertarian” and most popular contributors, before the website’s descent into robotic Obama cheerleading and socialist statism under the editorship of Joan Walsh):  

Many people have noticed the very real parallels between Ayn Rand and me. (I was born in the United States, however; my mother and all four of my grandparents were born in Italy.) A New Yorker profile of Rand several years ago in fact called her ‘the Camille Paglia of the 1960s.’  Ayn Rand was the kind of bold female thinker who should immediately have been a centerpiece of women’s studies programs, if the latter were genuinely about women rather than about a clichéd, bleeding-heart, victim-obsessed, liberal ideology that dislikes all concrete female achievement. Like me, Rand believed in personal responsibility and self-transformation as the keys to modern woman’s advance.

Rand’s influence fell on the generation just before mine: In the conformist 1950s, her command to think for yourself was brilliantly energizing. When I was a college student (1964-68), I barely heard of her and didn’t read her, and neither did my friends. Our influences were Marshall McLuhan, Norman O. Brown, Leslie Fiedler, Allen Ginsberg and Andy Warhol.
“When my first book finally got published in 1990, a major Rand revival was under way. I was asked about her so often at my book signings and lectures that I researched her for the first time. To my astonishment, I found passages in her books that amazingly resemble my own writing: This is certainly due to the fact that we were inspired by the same writers, notably Nietzsche and the High Romantics.
“The main differences between us: First, Rand is more of a rationalist, while I have a mystical 1960s bent (I’m interested in astrology, palmistry, ESP, I Ching, etc.). Second, Rand disdains religious belief as childish, while I respect all religions on metaphysical grounds, even though I am an atheist. Third, Rand, like Simone de Beauvoir, is an intellectual of daunting high seriousness, while I think comedy is the sign of a balanced perspective on life. As a culture warrior, I have used humor and satire as the most devastating weapons in my arsenal!”
In 2005, Paglia was named as one of the top 100 public intellectuals by the journals Foreign Policy and Prospect. In 2012, an article in The New York Times remarked that “[a]nyone who has been following the body count of the culture wars over the past decades knows Paglia”.
Paglia was born in Endicott, New York, the elder daughter of Pasquale and Lydia Anne (née Colapietro) Paglia. Both her parents immigrated to the United States from Italy. Additionally, Paglia has stated that her father’s side of the family were from the Campanian towns of AvellinoBenevento, and Caserta.  Paglia attended primary school in rural Oxford, New York, where her family lived in a working farmhouse. Her father, a veteran of World War II, taught at the Oxford Academy high school, and exposed his young daughter to art through books he brought home about French art history. In 1957, her family moved to SyracuseNY, so that her father could begin graduate school; he eventually became a professor of Romance languages at Le Moyne College. She attended the Edward Smith Elementary school, T. Aaron Levy Junior High and William Nottingham High School. In 1992 Carmelia Metosh, her Latin teacher for three years, said “She always has been controversial. Whatever statements were being made (in class), she had to challenge them. She made good points then, as she does now.” Paglia thanked Metosh in the acknowledgements to Sexual Personae, later describing her as “the dragon lady of Latin studies, who breathed fire at principals and school boards“.

She took a variety of names when she was at Spruce Ridge Camp, including Anastasia (her confirmation name, inspired by the film Anastasia starring Ingrid Bergman); Stacy; and Stanley. A crucially significant event for her was when the outhouse exploded after she poured too much lime into the latrine. “It symbolized everything I would do with my life and work. Excess and extravagance and explosiveness. I would be someone who would look into the latrine of culture, into pornography and crime and psychopathology… and I would drop the bomb into it”.

For over a decade, Paglia was the partner of a younger artist Alison Maddex. Paglia legally adopted Maddex’s son (who was born in 2002). In 2007, the couple separated.  A few years back Paglia traveled to Brazil and wrote glowingly of Brazilian divas, before she went on hiatus.  In an interview with Salon she wrote:  “When have I ever criticized anyone’s fetish? I am a libertarian. Go right ahead — set up plastic figurines of 1950s-era moppets to bow down to in the privacy of your boudoir. No one will scold! Then whip down to the kitchen to heat up those foil-wrapped TV dinners. I still gaze back fondly at Swanson’s fried-chicken entree. The twinkly green peas! The moist apple fritter! Meg Ryan — the spitting image of all those perky counselors at my Girl Scout camp in the Adirondacks. Gwyneth Paltrow — a simpering sorority queen with field-hockey-stick legs. I will leave you to your retro pursuits while I dash off to moon over multiracial Brazilian divas.
Paglia entered Harpur College at Binghamton University in 1964. The same year, Paglia’s poem “Atrophy” was published in the local newspaper. She later wrote that the biggest impact on her thinking were the classes taught by poet Milton Kessler. “He believed in the responsiveness of the body, and of the activation of the senses to literature… And oh did I believe in that”. She graduated from Harpur as class valedictorian in 1968.
According to Paglia, while in college she punched a “marauding drunk,” and takes pride in having been put on probation for committing 39 pranks.
Paglia attended Yale as a graduate student, and she claims to have been the only open lesbian at Yale Graduate School from 1968 to 1972. At Yale, Paglia quarreled with Rita Mae Brown, whom she later characterized as “then darkly nihilist,” and argued with the New Haven, Connecticut Women’s Liberation Rock Band when they dismissed the Rolling Stones as sexist. Paglia was mentored by Harold BloomSexual Personae was then titled “The Androgynous Dream: the image of the androgyne as it appears in literature and is embodied in the psyche of the artist, with reference to the visual arts and the cinema.”
Paglia read Susan Sontag, and aspired to emulate what she called her “celebrity, her positioning in the media world at the border of the high arts and popular culture.” Paglia first saw Sontag in person on October 15, 1969 (Vietnam Moratorium Day), when Paglia, then a Yale graduate student, was visiting a friend at Princeton. In 1973, Paglia, a militant feminist and open lesbian, was working at her first academic job at Bennington College. She considered Sontag a radical who had challenged male dominance. The same year, Paglia drove to an appearance by Sontag at Dartmouth, hoping to arrange for her to speak at Bennington, but found it difficult to find the money for Sontag’s speaking fee; Paglia relied on help from Richard Tristman, a friend of Sontag’s, to persuade her to come. Bennington College agreed to pay Sontag $700 (twice what they usually offered speakers but only half Sontag’s usual fee) to give a talk about contemporary issues. Paglia staged a poster campaign urging students to attend Sontag’s appearance. Sontag arrived at Bennington Carriage Barn, where she was to speak, more than an hour late, and then began reading what Paglia recalled as a “boring and bleak” short story about “nothing” in the style of a French New Novel.
As a result of Sontag’s Bennington College appearance, Paglia began to become disenchanted with her, believing that she had withdrawn from confrontation with the academic world, and that her “mandarin disdain” for popular culture showed an elitism that betrayed her early work, which had suggested that high and low culture both reflected a new sensibility.

In the fall of 1972, Paglia began teaching at Bennington College, which hired her in part thanks to a recommendation from Harold Bloom. At Bennington, she befriended the philosopher James Fessenden, who first taught there that very semester.  Through her study of the classics and the scholarly work of Jane Ellen HarrisonJames George FrazerErich Neumann and others, Paglia developed a theory of sexual history that contradicted a number of ideas in vogue at the time, hence her criticism of Marija GimbutasCarolyn HeilbrunKate Millett and others. She laid out her ideas on matriarchyandrogynyhomosexualitysadomasochism and other topics in her Yale Ph.D. thesis Sexual Personae: The Androgyne in Literature and Art, which she defended in December 1974. In September 1976, she gave a public lecture drawing on that dissertation, in which she discussed Edmund Spenser‘s Faerie Queene, followed by remarks on Diana RossGracie AllenYul Brynner, and Stéphane AudranPaglia “nearly came to blows with the founding members of the women’s studies program at the State University of New York at Albany, when they categorically denied that hormones influence human experience or behavior”.  Similar fights with feminists and academics culminated in a 1978 incident which led her to resign from Bennington a year later. After a lengthy standoff with the administration, Paglia accepted a settlement from the college and resigned the following year.

Paglia finished Sexual Personae in the early 1980s, but could not get it published. She supported herself with visiting and part-time teaching jobs at Yale, Wesleyan, and other Connecticut colleges. Her paper, “The Apollonian Androgyne and the Faerie Queen”, was published in English Literary Renaissance, Winter 1979, and her dissertation was cited by J. Hillis Miller in his April 1980 article “Wuthering Heights and the Ellipses of Interpretation”, in Journal of Religion in Literature, but her academic career was otherwise stalled. In a 1995 letter to Boyd Holmes, she recalled: “I earned a little extra money by doing some local features reporting for aNew Haven alternative newspaper (The Advocate) in the early 1980s”. She wrote articles on New Haven’s historic pizzerias and on an old house that was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

In 1984, she joined the faculty of the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts, which merged in 1987 with the Philadelphia College of Art to become the University of the Arts.
Paglia is on the editorial board of the classics and humanities journal Arion and has been writing a monthly column for Salon.com since the late 1990s (currently on hiatus). Paglia has announced that she is currently working on “a study of the visual arts intended as a companion book to Break, Blow, Burn“.
Paglia cooperated with Carl Rollyson and Lisa Paddock in their writing of Susan Sontag: The Making of an Icon, sending them detailed letters from which they quoted with her permission. Rollyson and Paddock note that Sontag “had her lawyer put our publisher on notice” when she realized that they were investigating her life and career.
Paglia participates in the decennial poll of film professionals conducted by Sight & Sound which asks participants to submit a list of what they believe to be the tengreatest films of all time. According to her responses to the poll in 2002 and 2012, the films Paglia holds in highest regard include Ben-HurCitizen KaneLa Dolce VitaThe GodfatherThe Godfather: Part IIGone with the WindLawrence of ArabiaNorth by NorthwestOrphéePersona2001: A Space OdysseyThe Ten Commandments, and Vertigo.
Some feminist critics have characterized Paglia as an “anti-feminist feminist,” critical of central features of much contemporary feminism but holding out “her own special variety of feminist affirmation.” Elaine Showalter notes Paglia’s admiration for Simone de Beauvoir and The Second Sex (“the supreme work of modern feminism… its deep learning and massive argument are unsurpassed”) as well as Germaine Greer, but Time magazine critic Martha Duffy wrote that Paglia “does not hesitate to hurl brazen insults” at several feminists including Greer, whom Paglia accused of becoming “a drone in three years” as a result of her early success; Paglia also called activist Diana Fuss’ output “just junk – appalling!” Showalter calls Paglia “unique in the hyperbole and virulence of her hostility to virtually all the prominent feminist activists, public figures, writers and scholars of her generation”, mentioning Carolyn HeilbrunJudith ButlerCarol GilliganMarilyn FrenchZoe BairdKimba WoodSusan Thomases, and Hillary Clinton as targets of her criticism.
Paglia has accused Kate Millett of starting “the repressive, Stalinist style in feminist criticism.” Paglia has repeatedly criticized Patricia Ireland, former president of the National Organization for Women, calling her a “sanctimonious”, unappealing role model for women whose “smug, arrogant” attitude is accompanied by “painfully limited processes of thought”. Paglia contends that under Ireland’s leadership, NOW “damaged and marginalized the women’s movement”.  Paglia has called feminist philosopher Martha Nussbaum a “PC diva”, and accused her of borrowing her ideas without acknowledgement. She further contends that Nussbaum’s “preparation or instinct for sex analysis is dubious at best”.
Many feminists have criticized Paglia; Christina Hoff Sommers calls her “Perhaps the most conspicuous target of feminist opprobrium,” noting that the Women’s Review of Books described Sexual Personae as a work of “crackpot extremism,” “an apologia for a new post-Cold War fascism,” and patriarchy‘s “counter-assault on feminism.” Sommers relates that when Paglia appeared at a Brown University forum, feminists signed a petition censuring her and demanding an investigation into procedures for inviting speakers to the campus.
Naomi Wolf traded a series of sometimes personal attacks with Paglia throughout the early 1990s. In The New Republic, Wolf labeled Paglia “the nipple-piercedperson’s Phyllis Schlafly who poses as a sexual renegade but is in fact the most dutiful of patriarchal daughters” and characterized Paglia’s writing as “full of howling intellectual dishonesty”. In 1991, Paglia referred to Wolf as a “twit”.
Gloria Steinem said of Paglia that, “Her calling herself a feminist is sort of like a Nazi saying they’re not anti-Semitic.” Paglia said that Steinem, whom she accused of not having read her, had compared her to Hitler and Sexual Personae to Mein Kampf. Paglia called Steinem “the Stalin of feminism.”
Katha Pollitt has characterized Paglia as one of a “seemingly endless parade of social critics [who] have achieved celebrity by portraying not sexism but feminism as the problem.” Pollitt writes that Paglia has glorified “male dominance,” and has been able to get away with calling the Spur Posse California high school date-rapegang “beautiful,” among other things “that might make even Rush Limbaugh blanch,” because she is a woman.
Paglia’s view that rape is sexually motivated has been endorsed by evolutionary psychologists Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer; they comment that “Paglia… urges women to be skeptical toward the feminist ‘party line’ on the subject, to become better informed about risk factors, and to use the information to lower their risk of rape.”
Paglia is critical of the influence modern French writers have had on the humanities, claiming that universities are in the “thrall” of French post-structuralists, that in the works of Jean BaudrillardJacques DerridaJacques Lacan and Michel Foucault, she never once found a sentence that interested her and that Post-structuralism has broken the link between the word and the thing, and thus endangers the western canon. François Cusset writes that Paglia, like other major American public intellectuals after World War II, owes her broader recognition mainly to the political repercussions of polemics that first erupted on college campuses, in her case to a polemic against foreign intellectualism. He says she achieved phenomenal success when she called Foucault a “bastard”, thereby providing (together with Alan Sokal‘s Social Text parody) the best evidence for Paul de Man‘s view that theory should be defined negatively, based on the opposition it arouses.However, Paglia’s assessment of French writers is not purely negative. She has called Simone de Beauvoir‘s The Second Sex (1949) “brilliant”, and identified Jean-Paul Sartre‘s work as part of a high period in literature. Paglia has praised Roland Barthes‘ Mythologies (1957) and Gilles Deleuze‘s Masochism: Coldness and Cruelty (1967), while finding both men’s later work flawed. Of Gaston Bachelard, who influenced Paglia, she wrote “[his] dignified yet fluid phenomenological descriptive method seemed to me ideal for art”, adding that he was “the last modern French writer I took seriously”.
Paglia characterizes herself as a Clinton Democrat and libertarian. She opposes laws against prostitutionpornographydrugs, and abortion. Paglia criticized Bill Clinton for not resigning after the Monica Lewinsky scandal, which she says “paralyzed the government for two years, leading directly to our blindsiding by 9/11.” In the 2000 U.S. presidential campaign she voted for the Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, “[because] I detest the arrogant, corrupt superstructure of the Democratic Party, with which I remain stubbornly registered.” In the 2004 U.S. presidential election, Paglia supported John Kerry; and in 2008, she supported Barack Obama. In 2012, she supported Green Party candidate Jill Stein
In Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (1990) Paglia argues that human nature has an inherently dangerous Dionysian orchthonic aspect, especially in regard to sexuality. Culture and civilization are created by men and represent an attempt to contain that force. Women are powerful, too, but as natural forces, and both marriage and religion are means to contain chaotic forces. A best seller, it was described by Terry Teachout in aNew York Times book review as flawed, but “…every bit as intellectually stimulating as it is exasperating”. Martha Duffy wrote that the book had a “neoconservative cultural message” which was well received, but rejected by many feminists. In a review of Sexual Personae, feminist author Molly Ivins accused Paglia of historical inaccuracy, demagoguery of second-wave feministsegocentrism, and writing in sweeping generalizations. In his review, Anthony Burgessdescribed Sexual Personae as “a fine disturbing book” that “seeks to attack the reader’s emotions as well as his or her prejudices”.Germaine Greer writes that Paglia’s insights into Sappho are “vivid and extremely perceptive”, but also “unfortunately inconsistent and largely incompatible with each other”.

Sex, Art and American Culture: Essays (1992) is a collection of short pieces, many published previously as editorials or reviews, and some transcripts of interviews.[64] The essays cover such subjects as MadonnaElizabeth Taylor, rock music, Robert MapplethorpeClarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination, rape, Marlon Brando, drag, Milton Kessler, and academia. It made the New York Times bestseller list for paperbacks.

Vamps and Tramps: New Essays (1994) is a collection of 42 short articles and a long essay, “No Law in the Arena: a Pagan Theory of Sexuality”. It also contains a collection of cartoons from newspapers about Paglia. Writing for the New York Times, Wendy Steiner wrote “Comic, camp, outspoken, Ms. Paglia throws an absurdist shoe into the ponderous wheels of academia“. Michiko Kakutani, also writing for the New York Times, wrote: “Her writings on education… are highly persuasive, just as some of her essays on the perils of regulating pornography and the puritanical excesses of the women’s movement radiate a fierce common sense… Unfortunately, Ms. Paglia has a way of undermining her more interesting arguments with flip, hyperbolic declarations”.
In 1998, and in commemoration of the 35th anniversary of the release of Alfred Hitchcock‘s The Birds, the British Film Institute commissioned Paglia to write a book about the film. Paglia’s 96-page book interprets the film as “in the main line of British Romanticism descending from the raw nature-tableaux and sinister femme-fatales of Coleridge.” Paglia uses a psychoanalytic framework to interpret the film as portraying “a release of primitive forces of sex and appetite that have been subdued but never fully tamed”.
Break, Blow, Burn: Camille Paglia Reads Forty-three of the World’s Best Poems (2005) is a collection of 43 short selections of verse with an accompanying essay by Paglia.The collection is primarily oriented to those unfamiliar with the works. Clive James noted that Paglia tends to focus on American works as it moves from Shakespeare forward through time, with Yeats, following Coleridge, as the last European discussed, but emphasized her range of sympathy and her ability to juxtapose and unite distinct art forms in her analysis.  Christopher Nield remarked that Paglia has “a rare gift to capture a poem’s mood and scene in terse, spiky phrases of descriptive insight” and exhibits moments of brilliance, but also notes that some of her selections from recent writers fall flat. He also praises her pedagogical slant towards basic interpretation, suggesting that her approach might be what is required to reinvigorate studies in the humanities.

Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars (2012) is a series of essays about notable works of art from ancient to modern times, published in October 2012. Writer John Adams of the New York Times Book Review was sceptical of the book, accusing it of being “so agenda driven and so riddled with polemic asides that its potential to persuade is forever being compromised.” Gary Rosen of the Wall Street Journal, however, praised the book’s “impressive range” and accessibility to readers.

On the prospects for the 2016 elections, Paglia told Salon: “As a registered Democrat, I am praying for a credible presidential candidate to emerge from the younger tier of politicians in their late 40s. A governor with executive experience would be ideal. It’s time to put my baby-boom generation out to pasture! We’ve had our day and managed to muck up a hell of a lot. It remains baffling how anyone would think that Hillary Clinton (born the same year as me) is our party’s best chance. She has more sooty baggage than a 90-car freight train. And what exactly has she ever accomplished — beyond bullishly covering for her philandering husband? She’s certainly busy, busy and ever on the move — with the tunnel-vision workaholism of someone trying to blot out uncomfortable private thoughts.

“I for one think it was a very big deal that our ambassador was murdered in Benghazi. In saying “I take responsibility” for it as secretary of state, Hillary should have resigned immediately. The weak response by the Obama administration to that tragedy has given a huge opening to Republicans in the next presidential election. The impression has been amply given that Benghazi was treated as a public relations matter to massage rather than as the major and outrageous attack on the U.S. that it was.
“Throughout history, ambassadors have always been symbolic incarnations of the sovereignty of their nations and the dignity of their leaders. It’s even a key motif in “King Lear.” As far as I’m concerned, Hillary disqualified herself for the presidency in that fist-pounding moment at a congressional hearing when she said, “What difference does it make what we knew and when we knew it, Senator?” Democrats have got to shake off the Clinton albatross and find new blood. The escalating instability not just in Egypt but throughout the Mideast is very ominous. There is a clash of cultures brewing in the world that may take a century or more to resolve — and there is no guarantee that the secular West will win.

Does Joan Walsh have the hots for Nick Gillespie?

6 Mar
Libertarianism is for petulant children: Ayn Rand, Rand Paul and the movement’s sad “rebellion”

S(t)alon, the leftover website edited by Joan Walsh, a frequent MSNBC contributor, pretty much has a daily piece chock full of howlers attacking libertarians.

For months my hypothesis has been this was just whoring, socialist street walkers after capitalist cash, as the articles usually target particular libertarian divas with a big fan base: Ayn Rand, Ron Paul, Rand Paul.  Essentially this clickbait is a form of pay per view porn, where proglodytes can join  David Sirocco or some other nerdy pajama boy, minimally cooler than they are, in a gang rape of that uppity bitch’s (Ayn Rand’s) bones.

But the tone of recent articles, like the one above calling libertarians juvenile, suggest a new diagnosis.  It’s projection.  These nerdy leftovers are infatuated with libertarians, like a smelly, borderline autistic kid making prank calls or stalking a beautiful and popular student who doesn’t even know they exist.

In her recent appearances it looks like Joan Walsh has had her famously rodent-like dentition ground down, a new hair cut, and maybe a little freshening around the eyes.  If she can’t land Nick for some extramarital hanky panky, perhaps she’s aiming to get a show as MSNBC cleans the Ronan and the Sharpton out of its stables.  The old mare may ride yet!

One nation under Galt: How Ayn Rand’s toxic philosophy permanently transformed America

17 Dec

Libertarian-Baiting the Anti-NSA Movement

24 Oct
Libertarian-Baiting the Anti-NSA Movement by Justin Raimondo — Antiwar.com

Raimondo exposes Tom Watson, the latest Stalon smear merchant, as a long time defender of the NSA and hatchet man on WikiLeaks, Snowden, and Assange.

Ayn Rand attracts cowardly rapists

12 Oct
Not as fans, but as critics.  Endless little nerd boys who will never have a real thought or write anything of significance will always, like Pavlov’s dogs, come a running to desecrate Ayn Rand’s bones.  And leftover websites with flagging traffic luv to publish pay per view cyber gang rapes of her corpse.

The authors, from David Sirota at Salon to this little unknown at gothamist, are always nerdy males.  And they always are much more hostile, abusive, and derisive when speaking about Ayn Rand than they are writing about any male author.  It’s all rather obvious.

Why Isn’t The Government Protecting Us From This Ayn Rand Play?

10813Anthem2.jpg 
Matthew Lieff Christian as EQUALITY 7-2521, Courtesy of Carol Rosegg
Opening this week at the Baryshnikov Arts Center’s Jerome Robbins Theater is the Austin Shakespeare Theatre Company’s performance of Ayn Rand’s novella, Anthem, which maybe you read in high school. The play was adapted and composed by Jeff Britting, the curator of the Ayn Rand Archives at the Ayn Rand Institute in Ayn Rand Irvine, California.
This press release summary will get you up to speed:

Anthem is the story of a young man, EQUALITY 7-2521, who is born into a future world that has banished all individuality. Not satisfied with a world lighted by candles, EQUALITY fosters his love of discovery in an abandoned subway, a relic of the past. In solitude, EQUALITY rediscovers electricity and a new source of light. Above ground he meets and falls in love with LIBERTY 5-3000, committing a further ‘sin of preference.'”

The story is written from EQUALITY 7-2521’s perspective and shown in the play through a series of vignettes. Only plural pronouns like “we” are used and the Unspeakable Word is punishable by death. (Can you guess what it is?) He is assigned to work as a street sweeper. He hangs with his street sweeping pal and talented artist friend, INTERNATIONAL 4-8818. Striving for something more, EQUALITY 7-2521 tries to present his light bulb to the World Council of Scholars convening in his town. They are not pleased and reject his act as treasonous. He eventually escapes, runs into LIBERTY 5-3000, who also ran away, finds shelter and books, learns the the Unspeakable Word (“I”), and (in the book) renames himself Prometheus.
Some background on Rand: Rand was born in 1905 and emigrated into the States in 1926. She was raised in St. Petersburg, coming of age during the the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, and despised Communism. Her father’s pharmacy was put under government control, causing her family to leave the city. They bounced around the country and she studied at a couple universities before coming to America where she began working as a screenwriter.
10813anthem5.jpg 
EQUALITY 7-2521 and LIBERTY 5-3000, played by Sophia Lauwers, Courtesy of Carol Rosegg
Rand’s bourgeois status was her birthright and her burden. Born into the aristocracy about to be thrown out, Rand took issue with that which would threaten it. She went on to write, among other things, The Fountainheadand Atlas Shrugged, and continued to develop her “philosophy” called Objectivism. Rand believed that collectivism killed entrepreneurial creativity through disingenuous ethical/moral justifications, and that the pursuit of individual happiness/wealth/whatever was the supreme moral purpose of life. Rand proclaimed that the only system that protects the rights of the individual is “full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire” capitalism.Emphasis added for effect. After all, Rand was born into a wealthy, successful upper-middle class family. If she could make it, why can’t you?
And so that is the context for the play. It’s all framed by the considerable force of Rand’s beliefs, pedantically bludgeoning the audience with a fictional world meant to appear stunningly prescient —Oh my god she was right…I can see it all around me! Absolutely nothing is lost is translation; everything is by design loaded with meaning. He names himself Prometheus at the end because he invented light. Do you understand?
School was too easy for EQUALITY 7-2521. He wasn’t challenged and wasn’t allowed to be challenged. “It’s not good to be different from your brothers,” a Council elder tells him, “But it is evil to be superior.” Broad strokes. The society is oppressive and total, ruled in secret, with standardized and efficient biological reproduction. Women are brought to the House of Mating, raped, impregnated, and then separated from their children. LIBERTY 5-3000 was brought to the House and managed to escape. Upon reuniting with EQUALITY 7-2521, she reassures him they didn’t defile her. EQUALITY 7-2521 is relieved. It’s a weird moment that leaves you uncomfortably wondering what would have happened had she been raped. Would she be ruined, a tainted good, for EQUALITY 7-2521?
There is talk of the Unmentionable Times, filled with evils like “wagons that moved without horses,” and light without fire. This repressive society is anti-technological, afraid of development. When EQUALITY 7-2521 presents his light to the Council, he hopes that it will lighten the toils of man. His justification for technological innovation is that it will make work easier. There’s a joke about how it took 20 years to implement and standardize the production and operation of candles in society. I guess it’s an indictment of bureaucracy.
Ultimately [SPOILER ALERT?] [LOL], LIBERTY 5-3000 AND EQUALITY 7-2521 escape the city and find a home. “We can kill more birds, more than we need,” EQUALITY says. Unrestrained, interminable consumption. Everyone can take more than they need, always, endlessly, without regard. What’s a few more dead birds?
The staging was nice, if only because it distracted you from the diatribe. A large video screen played clips and served as a shifting set as actors traversed the open area dotted with spotlights. The actors did what they could with the dialogue adapted from the story, but couldn’t shake the clunkiness. If EQUALITY 7-2521 and LIBERTY 5-3000 seem a little stilted to you, just imagine how they sound read aloud. Earnestly.
Anthem is the subject of one of the most popular high-school essay contests for a reason. Nonexistent nuance, simple themes, conventional tropes and devices, a straight-forward epistolary plot. I would agree that you should judge it as a straight-up work of fiction.
But it’s nearly impossible to approach the work itself, or a theatrical adaptation, as an object of critique in itself because Rand chose to unsubtly perpetuate her beliefs through bad fiction. Not a particularly astounding writer, the result is just ham-fisted propaganda for capitalism. There are more than just passing similarities between her and L. Ron Hubbard. It makes sense that conservative zealots like Paul Ryan were inspired to be a politician by her work.
Britting believes that “the principle ethical-political issue in Anthem—and of our time—is individualism versus collectivism. Is the individual the primary element of society, or is the group the basis of society? The play poses the questions: Do individuals have the right to think and choose their own goals in life and pursue their own happiness? Or do the wishes of society determine the goals of individual lives, and is service to others the primary moral obligation among men?”
The above question has the double distinction of being a false equivalency and a purely vacuous ideological question. Yes, individuals have the right to think, for Christ’s sake, and choose their own goals.
In that spirit, here’s a good thought exercise: If you had to choose between the world of Anthem and a just-as-dystopic opposite (let’s say, instead of government there’s a system of rule based on pure capitalist economics), what would you pick? And why?
Britting said that he wants the play to be provocative because he believes (like Paul Ryan does) that “the world is going to end up at some point in the future like the world of Anthem, and that’s a very real practical problem.”
Well, the Soviet Union fell and big scary Cold War Communism mostly disappeared. Capitalism “won,” but where has it led us? To the largest socio-economic gap in recent history; to widespread unemployment; to a weak economy recovering from a financial collapse orchestrated in part by speculative derivative risk trading and predatory loan practices; to a couple decades of extreme deregulation, a massive taxpayer-funded bailout for those same institutions; and to a global economic system of exploitation, beset regularly by instability, dotted with conflicts on nearly every continent.
Our arms ache and the skies are empty: We are really good at killing birds.
If Rand’s opinions didn’t pretend to operate as legitimate philosophy, her work is immediately rendered more fun and insignificant. She was no writer, but she was even less of a philosopher. If Objectivism couldn’t gain traction beyond small circles of self-serving elites and earnest frat boys during the Reagan-era, why should we pay any attention to it now?
Anthem is running until December 1st at the Baryshnikov Arts Center at 450 West 37th Street. Tickets actually will cost you $69.00-$89.00. I repeat, they are charging $70 dollars for this production. More information can be found here.
Contact the author of this article or email tips@gothamist.com with further questions, comments or tips.

Camille Paglia returns to Stalon, comments on Hillary and Weiner

22 Aug
Camille Paglia, long the lone bright light (along with Greenwald) at Obama hack Joan Walsh’s (who claimed Andrew Breitbart had faked the selfie pics of Weiner’s junk) website Stalon, left it a few years ago to write a book.  This week the libertarianish lesbian Democrat returns for an interview, selections below:

Camille Paglia: “It remains baffling how anyone would think that Hillary Clinton is our party’s best chance”

In Salon interview, the provocateur holds forth on Rihanna and gay porn, plus Hillary, Anthony Weiner and Benghazi

Camille Paglia: Camille Paglia (Credit: Michael Lionstar)
I can vividly remember the first time I read Camille Paglia. I was visiting New York with my mom during college and we happened across “Vamps and Tramps” at a bookstore near our hotel. Lying in neighboring twin beds, I read passages out loud to her. Explosive things like, “Patriarchy, routinely blamed for everything, produced the birth control pill, which did more to free contemporary women than feminism itself.” I didn’t always agree with Paglia, but I enjoyed her as a challenging provocateur.
I still have that copy of the book. There are asterisks in the margins, double-underlined sentences and circled paragraphs. Reading it was a satisfying rebellion against the line-toeing women’s studies classes I was taking at the time — and at a college with an infamously anti-porn professor, no less. Since then, I have moments of genuine outrage and fury over Paglia’s writing and public commentary (see: thisthis and this, for examples of why) — but she is still compelling and occasionally brilliant. The truth is that many people still want to hear what she has to say — about everything from BDSMto Lady Gaga.
The paperback release last week of her book “Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art From Egypt to Star Wars” — which Salon interviewed her about last year, and which is an example of Paglia at her intellectual best and an antidote to her birther moments — is a great excuse to check back in with the so-called bete noire of feminism. I spoke with Paglia by email about contemporary feminism, Anthony Weiner and the “end of men.”

Two words: Anthony Weiner. Your thoughts?
Two words: pathetic dork. How sickeningly debased our politics have become that this jabbering cartoon weasel could be taken seriously for a second as a candidate for mayor of New York. But beyond that, I have been amazed by the almost total absence of psychological critique in news analyses of the silly Weiner saga. For heaven’s sake, Weiner is no randy stud with a sophisticated sex life that we need to respect. The compulsion to exhibit and boast about one’s penis is embarrassingly infantile — the obvious residue of some squalid family psychodrama in childhood that is now being replayed in public.
I assumed at first that Huma Abedin stayed married to Weiner out of noble concern for her unborn child, who deserved a father. But her subsequent behavior as Weiner’s defender and enabler has made me lose respect for her. The Weiners should be permanently bundled off to the luxe Elba of Oscar de la Renta’s villa in the Dominican Republic. I’m sure that Hillary (Huma’s capo) can arrange that.
Any hopes, fears or predictions for the presidential elections in 2016?
As a registered Democrat, I am praying for a credible presidential candidate to emerge from the younger tier of politicians in their late 40s. A governor with executive experience would be ideal. It’s time to put my baby-boom generation out to pasture! We’ve had our day and managed to muck up a hell of a lot. It remains baffling how anyone would think that Hillary Clinton (born the same year as me) is our party’s best chance. She has more sooty baggage than a 90-car freight train. And what exactly has she ever accomplished — beyond bullishly covering for her philandering husband? She’s certainly busy, busy and ever on the move — with the tunnel-vision workaholism of someone trying to blot out uncomfortable private thoughts.
I for one think it was a very big deal that our ambassador was murdered in Benghazi. In saying “I take responsibility” for it as secretary of state, Hillary should have resigned immediately. The weak response by the Obama administration to that tragedy has given a huge opening to Republicans in the next presidential election. The impression has been amply given that Benghazi was treated as a public relations matter to massage rather than as the major and outrageous attack on the U.S. that it was.
Throughout history, ambassadors have always been symbolic incarnations of the sovereignty of their nations and the dignity of their leaders. It’s even a key motif in “King Lear.” As far as I’m concerned, Hillary disqualified herself for the presidency in that fist-pounding moment at a congressional hearing when she said, “What difference does it make what we knew and when we knew it, Senator?” Democrats have got to shake off the Clinton albatross and find new blood. The escalating instability not just in Egypt but throughout the Mideast is very ominous. There is a clash of cultures brewing in the world that may take a century or more to resolve — and there is no guarantee that the secular West will win.
What do you make of contemporary feminism, especially as it’s manifested online?
Oh, feminism is still alive? Thanks for the tip! It sure is invisible, except for the random whine from some maleducated product of the elite schools who’s found a plush berth in glossy magazines. It’s hard to remember those bad old days when paleofeminist pashas ruled the roost. In the late ‘80s, the media would routinely turn to Gloria Steinem or the head of NOW for “the women’s view” on every issue — when of course it was just the Manhattan/D.C. insider’s take, with a Democratic activist spin. Their shameless partisanship eventually doomed those Stalinist feminists, who were trampled by the pro-sex feminist stampede of the early ‘90s (in which I am proud to have played a vocal role). That insurgency began in San Francisco in the mid-‘80s and went national throughout the following decade. They keep dusting Steinem off and trotting her out to pin awards on her, but she’s the walking dead. Her anointed heirs (like Susan Faludi) sure didn’t pan out, did they?
While it’s a big relief not to have feminist bullies sermonizing from every news show anymore, the leadership vacuum is alarming. It’s very distressing, for example, that the atrocities against women in India — the shocking series of gang rapes, which seem never to end — have not been aggressively condemned in a sustained way by feminist organizations in the U.S. I wanted to hear someone going crazy about it in the media and not letting up, day after day, week after week. The true mission of feminism today is not to carp about the woes of affluent Western career women but to turn the spotlight on life-and-death issues affecting women in the Third World, particularly in rural areas where they have little protection against exploitation and injustice.
What do you think about arguments that we are witnessing “the end of men” or a crisis in masculinity?
If this phenomenon exists, it primarily applies in my view to white upper-middle-class culture, a product of the service-sector economy that has gradually displaced manufacturing since World War II. Hanna Rosin’s “The End of Men,” a best-seller last year, is the focus of a Munk Debate that I will be part of at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto on Nov. 15. The proposition is: “Be it resolved that men are obsolete.” Arguing for the motion will be Rosin and Maureen Dowd. Arguing against the motion will be me and Caitlin Moran. It should be a fascinating and substantive discussion. Lineups of opposing views like this have been rare indeed in feminism, which has preferred to ostracize and exile dissident voices.

Two words: Anthony Weiner. Your thoughts?
Two words: pathetic dork. How sickeningly debased our politics have become that this jabbering cartoon weasel could be taken seriously for a second as a candidate for mayor of New York. But beyond that, I have been amazed by the almost total absence of psychological critique in news analyses of the silly Weiner saga. For heaven’s sake, Weiner is no randy stud with a sophisticated sex life that we need to respect. The compulsion to exhibit and boast about one’s penis is embarrassingly infantile — the obvious residue of some squalid family psychodrama in childhood that is now being replayed in public.
I assumed at first that Huma Abedin stayed married to Weiner out of noble concern for her unborn child, who deserved a father. But her subsequent behavior as Weiner’s defender and enabler has made me lose respect for her. The Weiners should be permanently bundled off to the luxe Elba of Oscar de la Renta’s villa in the Dominican Republic. I’m sure that Hillary (Huma’s capo) can arrange that.
Any hopes, fears or predictions for the presidential elections in 2016?
As a registered Democrat, I am praying for a credible presidential candidate to emerge from the younger tier of politicians in their late 40s. A governor with executive experience would be ideal. It’s time to put my baby-boom generation out to pasture! We’ve had our day and managed to muck up a hell of a lot. It remains baffling how anyone would think that Hillary Clinton (born the same year as me) is our party’s best chance. She has more sooty baggage than a 90-car freight train. And what exactly has she ever accomplished — beyond bullishly covering for her philandering husband? She’s certainly busy, busy and ever on the move — with the tunnel-vision workaholism of someone trying to blot out uncomfortable private thoughts.
I for one think it was a very big deal that our ambassador was murdered in Benghazi. In saying “I take responsibility” for it as secretary of state, Hillary should have resigned immediately. The weak response by the Obama administration to that tragedy has given a huge opening to Republicans in the next presidential election. The impression has been amply given that Benghazi was treated as a public relations matter to massage rather than as the major and outrageous attack on the U.S. that it was.
Throughout history, ambassadors have always been symbolic incarnations of the sovereignty of their nations and the dignity of their leaders. It’s even a key motif in “King Lear.” As far as I’m concerned, Hillary disqualified herself for the presidency in that fist-pounding moment at a congressional hearing when she said, “What difference does it make what we knew and when we knew it, Senator?” Democrats have got to shake off the Clinton albatross and find new blood. The escalating instability not just in Egypt but throughout the Mideast is very ominous. There is a clash of cultures brewing in the world that may take a century or more to resolve — and there is no guarantee that the secular West will win.
What do you make of contemporary feminism, especially as it’s manifested online?
Oh, feminism is still alive? Thanks for the tip! It sure is invisible, except for the random whine from some maleducated product of the elite schools who’s found a plush berth in glossy magazines. It’s hard to remember those bad old days when paleofeminist pashas ruled the roost. In the late ‘80s, the media would routinely turn to Gloria Steinem or the head of NOW for “the women’s view” on every issue — when of course it was just the Manhattan/D.C. insider’s take, with a Democratic activist spin. Their shameless partisanship eventually doomed those Stalinist feminists, who were trampled by the pro-sex feminist stampede of the early ‘90s (in which I am proud to have played a vocal role). That insurgency began in San Francisco in the mid-‘80s and went national throughout the following decade. They keep dusting Steinem off and trotting her out to pin awards on her, but she’s the walking dead. Her anointed heirs (like Susan Faludi) sure didn’t pan out, did they?
While it’s a big relief not to have feminist bullies sermonizing from every news show anymore, the leadership vacuum is alarming. It’s very distressing, for example, that the atrocities against women in India — the shocking series of gang rapes, which seem never to end — have not been aggressively condemned in a sustained way by feminist organizations in the U.S. I wanted to hear someone going crazy about it in the media and not letting up, day after day, week after week. The true mission of feminism today is not to carp about the woes of affluent Western career women but to turn the spotlight on life-and-death issues affecting women in the Third World, particularly in rural areas where they have little protection against exploitation and injustice.
What do you think about arguments that we are witnessing “the end of men” or a crisis in masculinity?
If this phenomenon exists, it primarily applies in my view to white upper-middle-class culture, a product of the service-sector economy that has gradually displaced manufacturing since World War II. Hanna Rosin’s “The End of Men,” a best-seller last year, is the focus of a Munk Debate that I will be part of at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto on Nov. 15. The proposition is: “Be it resolved that men are obsolete.” Arguing for the motion will be Rosin and Maureen Dowd. Arguing against the motion will be me and Caitlin Moran. It should be a fascinating and substantive discussion. Lineups of opposing views like this have been rare indeed in feminism, which has preferred to ostracize and exile dissident voices.