From Hobson's Choice
Hobson's Choice was originally a weblog (link), whose content is being gradually converted to the new MediaWiki format. The name comes from a double entendre referencing John A Hobson and the familiar expression, "Hobson's choice."
The Generic Sense of a Hobson's choice
The expression "Hobson's choice" comes from a Thomas Hobson (1544?–1630) of Cambridge, England, who kept a livery stable. He insisted that customers take the horse nearest the stable door or none. Frequently, the caliber of the horse was so poor, and the isolation of Cambridge was so severe, that customers felt they were squeezed into a thoroughly unattractive choice. The choice between the impossible and the horrible is known as a "Hobson's choice."
Hobson's Choice strives to be as faithful as possible to the original intentions and views of its namesake. This is not about zealous loathing of a particular nation or group of people; this is not about pushing a single, unique social order or industrial system. Some of our readers will be Marxists, others anarcho-capitalists, still others social democrats. I've avoided adopting an peculiar ideology because of the positive-normative paradox, but I hope you will find this site illuminating and even a bit pleasant.
Much of the radical critique of contemporary society tends to be so filled with negativity and rage; that's not meant to disparage radical critiques per se, but a precautionary word to readers venturing down that path. Your ability to transform society in a radical way is, to put it gently, limited, and you will find that the things you're fighting against are surprisingly resilient. A lot of great radicals found themselves totally exhausted and embittered at times, and you will too. It's important to remember that the same mankind who shaped this cruel world also is ingenious, generous, noble, and witty. Always be open to fresh ideas, always seek to discern fairly, and don't forget to appreciate the wonderful achievements of the others with whom you share the world.
About the Logo
Click for larger image
The logo is taken from Titian's Sacred and Profane Love, although I altered the original so the allegorical figures would fit. Researching imperialism is, not to put too fine a point on the matter, a very depressing business. Even when the truth is expressed in dry, academic language, it's frequently heartbreaking. I happen to be a US citizen, and of course a lot of particular anger or bitterness is directed at Usonians. For men like myself, exposure to radical feminist ideology can be harrowing. There are many other ways in which I can be classified as an oppressor or perpetrator, and since I tend to take what others say to me quite seriously, it's not easy. Sometimes it's depressing.
I take solace in that which is lovely; not merely beautiful, but lovely, and much of the time that includes classical arts, music, and poetry. Perhaps Titian's most famous painting, Sacred and Profane Love is intended to pose an allegorical choice between the world of God and the world of the flesh. But while the framing of the choice is meant to impose stern rectitude, it seems as though Titian (with a wink to his patron) was appealing to a more elemental impulse; the painting is luscious and alluring. It's not an either-or-choice; tenderness and caritas flourish in each other's presence. The other pair, represented in the artistic subtext, is that of austere classical balance combined with organic shapes. It's formal, but voluptuous.
The Hobson's choice contemporary readers are faced with is, bluntly, hegemony or survival. It's a choice between the intolerable and the painful. But there is also the art of choosing without excluding; of discerning without despising. Feminists may regard Titian as a purveyor of pornography for a warlord; and so he was. The whole of recorded history is filled with exploitation and artifacts glorifying that exploitation. But Titian also expressed the joy of quiet delights, and a person whose heart is free will, I think, be grateful for that.
My name is James R MacLean, and I'm a native-born citizen of the United States. I lived in California until early 2004, then moved to Seattle, Washington. I have a masters in economics from SFSU. Readers are advised that, while I am not always an authoritative expert on the subjects I'm writing about, I do try to furnish the best available sources for everything I assert. Those who feel I have made a mistake, or an unsubstantiated claim, are encouraged to contact me at the email address given below.
James R MacLean (15:29, 3 September 2007 (PDT))