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LOYALTY / Vol. 86, No. 3 (Fall 2019)

Arien Mack, Editor

This issue acknowledges and celebrates The New School’s centennial by exploring loyalty and betrayal in some of their many guises as a way of grasping their importance in the political and cultural history and life of the US and other countries. The New School was established by a group of prominent intellectuals, among them Charles Beard, John Dewey, James Harvey Robinson, and Thorstein Veblen, who resigned from Columbia University in protest over the demand that its faculty not speak out against World War I. In the eyes of the Columbia administration at the time,to vocally oppose the war was to be disloyal to the United States; in the eyes of its departing faculty, the demand was an infringement on their academic and political freedom.

Loyalty is a deeply “vexing virtue,” as Eric Fenton has observed. We admire loyalty to family, friends, sports teams, even institutions, up to a point. In this paper I take up the most problematic form of loyalty, namely loyalty to country. Is patriotism a virtue? I argue that it is by distinguishing it from nationalism (on the right) and cosmopolitanism (on the left). Patriotism is an expression of a desire to belong best captured by that humble Yiddish term, Mishpocheh, suggesting loyalties we share to extended relations, kinsmen, and fellow countrymen.

Individuality takes on certain emphases in a modern democracy, and has three components: encouraged self-expression within moral boundaries; resistance on behalf of others; and a large-minded apprehension of phenomena apart from one’s individual interests and purposes. If democracy lapses, the cultural soil of democratic individuality disappears. Extreme crises can lead to tyranny. The best relation to oneself that remains under tyranny is inner freedom, single-minded devotion to truth, in the name of human dignity: truth about human potentialities that tyranny forecloses, including democratic individuality, and the human situation more generally, even if such truth must be kept to oneself.

The essay develops and critiques two prevalent but seriously flawed accounts of loyalty. The first, Trumpian Loyalty, captures and then distorts a central feature of loyalty: its relational character. The other, Comeyan Loyalty, mislocates loyalty while recognizing the legitimate moral constraints to which it may be subject. The essay concludes with a preferable account of loyalty’s virtue and its limits.

Hannah Arendt's judgment of Bertolt Brecht instantiates her distinction between work and action. The highest, most enduring form of work for Arendt is art, especially poetry and poetic drama, because they are closest to action. Brecht’s poems and dramas are replete with intimations of action. This essay is an interpretation of Arendt's judgment of Brecht's loyalty to an ideology that purported to save even as it betrayed those who struggled. To Arendt this was emblematic of Brecht's betrayal of the jealous gods of poetry. Their punishment for crossing the border separating art from action was to retrieve the great gifts they had bestowed on him.

This paper sets out to clarify an important feature of the implicit pluralism of everyday moral life: our reliance on the competing virtues of loyalty and fidelity. Because ordinary and philosophic languages both tend to conflate these virtues, the paper begins by constructing a clear distinction between them. It then goes on to examine the nature and significance of the moral conflicts that our reliance on these virtues can create for us, drawing heavily on an interpretation of Sophocles’s Antigone to illustrate my conclusions.

How should partisan loyalty be understood? Is it helpful or corrosive to democracy? The answer depends on the nature of that loyalty. Party identification can be rooted in blind allegiance, or it can be anchored to policy preferences. It depends on an individual’s social psychological and institutional incentives. This paper explores this conditionality by comparing partisan loyalty in today’s polarized environment with party loyalty in nineteenth century American politics, a very different but also highly polarized era. The paper concludes by discussing several institutional arrangements that have shaped partisan loyalties and what might happen if those arrangements were changed.

In this essay we explore the potential of the concept and practice of loyalty for living in a time of unfolding catastrophe, building on the analysis of one of its most thoughtful interpreters, Josiah Royce. Royce was not aware of the Anthropocene paradigm shift of a no longer stable earth system—an earth system destabilized by the effects of recent human intervention. We think that loyalty as Royce understands it can offer a trajectory. Resolutely local, attentive to the existential needs of selves in search of a center and of larger networks of connected care, undaunted by the likelihood of failure, Roycean loyalty describes the sort of lives we can and must now live, in the service of the humble and hopeless causes we must now serve.

This article explores a conception of loyalty and disloyalty in the works of Irish modernist James Joyce and puts it into conversation with the foundation of the New School in New York in 1919. Joyce’s conception of disloyalty as a route to a radical form of independence that might in turn benefit the “betrayed” community is shown to be central to a complex ethical and political program. Both Joyce and the New School position parrhesia (the freedom to “speak truth to power”) as a primary ethical requirement and traditional discourses of “loyalty” as preservers of a conservative status quo that can only be overthrown through a complex embrace and rejection of those discourses.

The paper seeks to explore the question of loyalty as it surfaces in a somewhat unusual form: enforced loyalty to a group by looking at the particular phenomenon of the enforcement of loyalty to a caste by caste panchayats through interestingly different periods and contexts in India. It tries to diagnose why this phenomenon can sometimes go missing due to methodological prejudices, while also expounding how in our own times the loyalties that are imposed are predominantly driven by one or another form of politics that reflects what caste has become in India over the last century.

In this essay, Queen Margaret’s curses in Richard III become part of a feminist ethics on the early modern stage. As a parrhesiast, in Foucault’s terms, Margaret speaks truth to power and claims a right of citizenship. That Margaret elicits universal revulsion from the other characters while also holding a unique position of ethical authority is uncovered by the play’s women, who initially agree with their men but come to see her as a powerful speaker who will teach them how to curse. Practitioners of feminist ethics speak from positions of authority that are deeply implicated in the ethical dilemmas of their plays.

Loyalty and disloyalty were central concepts in the wartime imprisonment of Japanese Americans. A presumption of disloyalty landed Japanese Americans in concentration camps, and then an inquest into loyalty and disloyalty determined who would be granted permission to depart from camp and who would be driven into a deeper incarceration called “segregation.” This article narrates the story of a single man’s shattering experience with the government’s mechanism for loyalty screening. It illustrates the incoherence of a security program built around loyalty, the blindness of those who administered it, and its devastating impact on Japanese Americans’ lives.


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