Taylor Swift, Straussian?

by on July 22, 2015 at 12:41 pm in Current Affairs, History, Music | Permalink


The singer is launching her own Taylor Swift-branded clothing line next month, on the platforms of local e-commerce giants JD.com and the Alibaba group, with t-shirts, dresses and sweatshirts featuring the politically charged date 1989.

The date – as well as being Swift’s year of birth – refers to her album and live tour of the same name, which she will perform in Shanghai in November.

But the date – and the initials TS – are particularly sensitive in China, as they signify the Tiananmen Square massace in 1989, when hundreds of students were killed in pro-democracy protests.

There is more here.  Here is a story on the map of China accompanying Dwyane Wade.

1 E. Harding July 22, 2015 at 12:43 pm

Nah, just oblivious.

2 Econchic July 22, 2015 at 12:51 pm


3 prior_approval July 22, 2015 at 12:51 pm

Well, the Straussian mood affiliation reading using big data metrics ould lead to the amazon tag line ‘average is over’.

But let’s be honest – when has this web site ever cared about any successful woman?

4 Ray Lopez July 22, 2015 at 1:49 pm

@P_A – so you think Ms. Emily Chamlee-Wright is not successful and unloved?

Emily Chamlee-Wright
Mercatus Center Senior Research Scholar
Provost and Dean at Washington College
Board Member

Emily Chamlee-Wright is a senior research scholar and Board Member at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Her primary research interests include development economics, cultural economics, and indigenous markets in Sub-Saharan Africa.

5 triclops41 July 22, 2015 at 2:08 pm

She doesn’t count because she is a gender traitor who has sworn allegiance to the all powerful and evil Mercatus Center!

6 msgkings July 22, 2015 at 3:14 pm

p_a is a gender warrior too? That’s the biggest shark he’s jumped so far.

7 MOFO. July 22, 2015 at 4:32 pm

Pfft, you think p_a cares at all about gender? Hes just desperate for any brush to tar TC with. If he cant find something useful to disagree with, he just makes shit up.

8 Leo July 22, 2015 at 4:13 pm

I’m already struggling to understand “mood affiliation”. What is “Straussian mood affiliation”?

9 MOFO. July 22, 2015 at 4:30 pm

Straussian as i understand it is reading between the lines. “Straussian mood affiliation” is mocking the lingo that Cowen commonly uses.

10 Leo July 22, 2015 at 6:50 pm

I’m still trying to understand what Tyler means by “mood affiliation”.

(Yes, I have read his blog post


in defining it, but it’s not clear to me.)

Ian David Ross says that mood affiliation is just another name for confirmation bias. Is that accurate?


11 MOFO. July 22, 2015 at 7:02 pm

Yea, pretty much. Id say there is an element of “i believe this because thats what i want to be true” in there as well.

12 Ricardo July 22, 2015 at 7:05 pm

I think of mood affiliation as “I believe X because people I really admire believe X, and I like to think of myself as being like those people.”

13 Leo July 22, 2015 at 7:06 pm

Thanks, MOFO, for your reply.

If mood affiliation is just confirmation bias, then why would Tyler come up with a redundant name for an established concept? (He seems too smart and articulate to make this error.) Given how smart Tyler is, what is it about mood affiliation that is different from confirmation bias?

(Tyler: It’d be great if you could step in on this – thanks.)

14 triclops July 22, 2015 at 7:44 pm

I’d also add that mood affiliation can refer to taking positions with less regard for accuracy than for balancing the karmic scales, from ones perspective.
Think “always sticking up for an idea/person because they are generally maligned unfairly” or “I cannot bring myself to praise this person even when they are doing something i like because they are bad”.

15 Charles July 23, 2015 at 12:45 pm

I have assumed that mood affiliation is similar to Robert Nozick’s normative sociology: “Normative sociology, the study of what the causes of problems ought to be, greatly fascinates us all” from Anarchy, State and Utopia. The marginal distinction being that confirmation bias implies that you have looked at a range of potential causes, identified one as the most probable and then only pay attention to evidence that is consistent with that one explanation. Normative sociology implies something slightly more primitive. Only one cause is conceived of as possible and all evidence is interpreted to be consistent with that one cause. The skipped step is the initial conscious evaluation of alternative explanations.

16 Larry Siegel July 22, 2015 at 8:33 pm

Megan McArdle? Deirdre McCloskey?

17 ibaien July 22, 2015 at 12:49 pm

‘it can be two things’

18 Harmony Krabbe July 22, 2015 at 1:07 pm

I shall henceforce always imagine Taylor Swift’s ‘Style’ as being sung by the Goddess of Democracy to Tank Man:

You come and pick me up, no headlights
A long drive,
Could end in burning flames or paradise
Fade into view, oh, it’s been a while since I have even heard from you (heard from you)

I should just tell you to leave ’cause I
Know exactly where it leads but I
Watch us go ’round and ’round each time

19 triclops41 July 22, 2015 at 2:09 pm


20 BC July 23, 2015 at 4:41 am

And, of course, these lines are about that most subversive topic of all, Taiwanese Independence and Chinese efforts to block it: “You go talk to your friends, talk to my friends, talk to me; But we are never ever ever ever getting back together; Like, ever…”

21 James July 22, 2015 at 1:30 pm

Regarding the whole Tiananmen Square thing, China should just “Shake it off.”

22 Ryan July 22, 2015 at 1:38 pm

Indeed. If they truly wanted to censor it, then they should have trademarked it first.

23 dearieme July 22, 2015 at 1:52 pm

Never ‘eard of ‘er.

24 Connor July 22, 2015 at 2:09 pm

Taylor Swift’s album 1989 is an elaborate piece of art which clearly was designed to overthrow the Chinese goverment.

25 Jeff R. July 22, 2015 at 3:43 pm

Nobody figured the Velvet Underground would help bring down the Iron Curtain, but that happened, too.

26 MOFO. July 22, 2015 at 4:33 pm

Or Dallas for that matter.

27 revver July 22, 2015 at 2:18 pm

“…the Tiananmen Square massace in 1989, when hundreds of students were killed in pro-democracy protests.” They were anti-communist protests, regradless of how media and academics spin these things.

28 JWatts July 22, 2015 at 3:00 pm

They were called the “’89 Democracy Movement” in Chinese.

“When Hu Yaobang suddenly died of a heart attack on April 15, 1989, students reacted strongly. Hu’s death provided the initial impetus for students to gather in large numbers.[39] In university campuses, many posters appeared eulogizing Hu, calling for a revival of Hu’s legacy. Within days, most posters were writing about broader political issues, such as freedom of the press, democracy, and corruption.


29 honkie please July 22, 2015 at 5:25 pm

Spawning that well-worn gem of Chinese comedy: “Hu died of a heart attack?”

30 Ricardo July 22, 2015 at 7:06 pm

Too soon? I don’t think so!

31 yo July 23, 2015 at 6:28 am

Hu’s dead?

32 neednewname July 22, 2015 at 3:43 pm

The Tiananmen Square “massacre” was an Maoist race riot and attempt to bring back the cultural revolution.

33 Leo July 22, 2015 at 2:28 pm

I don’t get the title of this post – why is Tyler suggesting that Taylor Swift may be a Straussian?

34 Norman Pfyster July 22, 2015 at 3:01 pm

It is part of Tyler’s continual invocation of Leo Strauss, which I haven’t figured out whether is an intentional or unintential misunderstanding of Strauss’ theory of interpretation. In this case, that Taylor Swift is intentionally signalling her solidarity with Chinese pro-democracy/anti-communist elements by referencing having been born in 1989 and being very commercially successful.

35 rayward July 22, 2015 at 4:07 pm

I get the anti communist thing but Strauss was anti democracy as well, so who exactly would she be signaling solidarity with? Who are the political leaders in China with whom a Straussian would have solidarity? Who reflects Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero in China? And how in the world does Taylor Swift reflect Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero? With Cowen, one never knows if his references to Strauss relate to the esoteric (which some would call deceit) or philosophy. It’s usually the former (word play).

36 Larry Siegel July 22, 2015 at 8:38 pm

Strauss was a republican (small r), not a democrat (small d). It is a little unfair to say he was anti-democracy. A democratic republic is a type of republic.

Unlike Tyler, I am old enough to remember Strauss as a living human being, and although he was not my professor, his influence at the U of C in the early 1970s was immense. Basically the school – consisting almost entirely of nerds – was divided between Friedmanians (I was one) and Straussians. Those were interesting times.

37 Thor July 23, 2015 at 2:24 am

No, it is more than a “little” unfair. Strauss was a thoroughgoing anti totalitarian.

38 Leo July 22, 2015 at 4:13 pm

What is Tyler’s definition of “Straussian”? (I can’t find his definition via simple Googling.)

Thanks for your reply, Norman.

39 triclops July 22, 2015 at 7:48 pm

The noble lie.
Pretty sure TC is joking here.

40 A Definite Beta Guy July 22, 2015 at 3:10 pm

The Taylor Swift is built on inoffensive bubbly nonsense. So, no, not Straussian.

41 Dan July 22, 2015 at 4:19 pm

“Chinese Democracy” took Axl Rose 13 or so years to make, but it didn’t bring democracy to China

42 Thiago Ribeiro July 22, 2015 at 8:15 pm

Yet. If, according to the sentence misattributed to Zhou Enlai, it is too early to judge the French Revolution, how can be know how “Chinese Democracy” will affect China?

43 Michael July 22, 2015 at 4:51 pm

Stop dropping “Straussian” as if it makes you sound smart or something. Strauss was mediocre, and you sound like a lame, not very bright, pseudo-intellectual.

44 Lion of the Judah-sphere July 22, 2015 at 6:25 pm


45 Thor July 23, 2015 at 2:27 am

I used to think that, too, Michael but then I read about Strauss’s reflections on Nietzsche and Heidegger and found his treatment of their historicism interesting and deep.

46 Michael July 23, 2015 at 12:32 pm

Strauss wrote very little on Nietzsche and Heidegger (or any German thinker for that matter). His critique of them is not very interesting or perspicacious. He just shoehorns them into his general moralizing anti-historicism.

47 jorod July 22, 2015 at 5:16 pm

Imagine. Taylor thinking of that. Capitalist slut.

48 Larry Siegel July 22, 2015 at 8:40 pm

Me too. Capitalist slut – I like that. Soon appearing on the bumper of my car!

49 Jimmy July 22, 2015 at 6:28 pm

Starting to think Cowen : Strauss :: Aristophanes : Socrates is not entirely inaccurate (understood according to the Straussian line, of course).

50 Brian Donohue July 22, 2015 at 6:41 pm

Tyler, this was funny. Pay no heed to the humorless scolds.

51 Steve Sailer July 22, 2015 at 7:33 pm
52 Sleazy P. Martini July 22, 2015 at 9:54 pm

She’s a weird bitch.

53 RoyL July 23, 2015 at 6:34 am

Looking at that Tibetless China map, it does include Taiwan. So if China could trade Tibet for Taiwan, especially if it could retain Tibet as a client state, would it be worth it?

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: