Philosophers to Be Cautious of: Cornel West

I’m going to start pointing out individuals to be cautious of. Unless explicitly stated, posts of this nature are not meant to be taken as a blanket “this guy’s an idiot”. These posts are meant to be a general “proceed with caution” because the individuals I will be pointing out are basing their conclusions on false fundamentals.

I pick Cornel West simply because Ben Sima recently linked to him (link).

From the video…

27 seconds in: “Democracy is all about public discussion.”

The American States voluntarily formed a constitutional republic, not a democracy. Lynch mobs are democracy taken to the full extent. I suspect Cornel thinks of people in terms of groups, i.e., he’s a collectivist. Implication by this statement is that if there is enough “discussion”, we will end up with the correct conclusions for and about government. Does not recognize democracy’s only useful place in government: for things that are optional and non-life threatening.

Does not recognize that truth and reality exist independent of how well any individual discusses any particular topic, how many people argue for or against a certain point, and how many people wish/want/desire something to happen.


40 seconds in: “I think Peter would agree that there are human values that are not reducible to market price… social justice…”

This is the hall mark of an individual who is disconnected from reality and believes contradictions can exist in reality. The essence of “human values that are not reducible to market price” is that man is a slave to his brothers. That unalienable rights are contextual, situational, and only proper when it is convenient for them to be practiced. A “human value”, irreducible to a medium of exchange, and in the sense that he used it, directly implies a value that must be provided for by force.

Ie, by slavery. Tragically/depressingly ironic given his ethnicity.

“Social justice” is a dead give away of his accepted, underlying basic premises.


3 minutes 26 seconds in: “… the free-market tyranny”

Forget philosophy for a second, examine the sentence structure alone.

Free —> market —> tyranny

This is laughingly contradictory. A free market is by definition the diametric opposite of tyranny. Tyranny is force and fraud applied to human relationships. A free market requires the removal of and protection from force and fraud: from foreign governments, individuals, groups, etc.

There is no such thing as “free market tyranny”, the same way there is no such thing as Santa Claus and a round square.


These are just some basic excerpts from the video. Feel free to watch it in full and pick out the ideas that are clearly nonsense. Or watch Peter, whose thinking is clear, confident, and reality based, pick him apart.

In all cases, the fact that Cornel believes contradictions can exist in reality — which is synonymous with believing “necessary evils” can exist — is so fundamentally “off”, it should give everyone serious pause when listening to anything this guy has to say. This is not a small detail. This conviction permeates his entire life.

— Anthony Dream Johnson

About Anthony Dream Johnson

CEO, founder, and architect of The 21 Convention, Anthony Dream Johnson is the leading force behind the world's first and only "panorama event for life on earth". He has been featured on WGN Chicago, and in the NY Times #1 best seller The Four Hour Work Week.    His stated purpose for the work he does is "the actualization of the ideal man", a purpose that has led him to found and host The 21 Convention across 3 continents and for 6 years in a row. Anthony blogs vigorously at and

14 Responses to Philosophers to Be Cautious of: Cornel West

  1. Gold Investor December 8, 2011 at 8:15 pm #

    Good to see Peter Schiff pwn that n00b and turn him back.

  2. Hugo December 8, 2011 at 9:02 pm #

    West is such a blowhard. He just speaks in platitudes and sound bites. There is absolutely no substance behind his words. If he actually heard himself speak and thought about it he would see how stupid he sounds. Unfortunately, he’s not that intelligent.

    What I find funny about the whole occupy x street or x location is that they are angry at businesses for what’s wrong with the economy. Yet they never see that corporations don’t pass laws. The government passes laws and they accept bribes…oops I mean contributions…to pass laws that favor one group over another.

    You will never get rid of greed, thinking you can is akin to thought crime. What you can fix is the mechanism by which that greed gets expressed. If the government didn’t get involved in the economy we wouldn’t in our current situation.

  3. Slartibartfast December 8, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    Calling Cornell West a philosopher is being a bit generous

  4. ben sima December 8, 2011 at 11:07 pm #

    1. i think he’s talking about the democratic ideal – that of equality and freedom – not a literal democracy, which I think is impossible anyways.

    I don’t see how you take him to be a collectivist, and he never says that enough discussion will provide the correct answer, he only acknowledges the necessity of dialectics, for obvious philosophical reasons.

    2. I think he’s just saying that not everything can be quantified by economists. I mean, the alternative (“all human values *are* reducible to market price”) is deterministic and mechanistic. Recent research has proven that people aren’t so economically rational as the Keynesians thought. It also leaves no room for volitional free will…

    3. A free-market tyranny is just mob rule. It’s when big biz begin acting like drug cartels. I’m not gonna comment on the economy stuff cause I don’t much about that, but it sounds like they were debating cause and effect anyway, which can’t be proven (narrative fallacy)
    ^ that’s why we have an electoral college, separation of powers, and a republic instead of democracy.

    I mean, West is so well-read and intelligent and has such a mastery of the English language that you can’t just take what he says on the surface. In the other video I linked to he explains a little more, goes more in depth.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson December 9, 2011 at 10:54 am #

      1. The curious thing is that he mentions (values) democracy in the first place. Why bring it up? In addition, he makes no mention that we do not live in a democracy. Peter is well aware of that and had the discussion been different, I think he would have called him out on it. Finally, while Cornel may not have been talking about an absolute democracy across the entire spectrum, he was talking about it to the extent that democracy is useful for things that are life and death scenarios. Notice: Peter despises the income tax. Cornel talks about changing the %s, because he believes violently enforced tax is a valid and rational idea in the first place.

      2. I do not mean all human values are reducible to fiat currency, gold backed currency, etc. I mean they are reducible to *money*, a medium of exchange. The very fact that a “human value” is a value, indicates that someone, somewhere, is willing to trade for it, even if it is them trading with reality, or of course, another person or group. In addition, what Cornel is really talking about are things like healthcare. He’s saying in essence that healthcare is “special”, and must be provided for by force. He would never admit direct force, but that is the meaning of that concept. To force people indirectly to pay for others health care costs, to force doctors with the threat of violence to care for people, etc.

      This is advanced slavery.

      3. I disagree. Government is the cause because government holds the only legal monopoly on force. When a big business uses force, it is governments responsibility to intercede and prevent that force or fraud from affecting people. If government is corrupted and this interposition is prevented, the fundamental problem still lies with government and the individuals currently operating it. This is no different from a common criminal bribing a judge and getting away with murder — the fact that he got away with the act is governments fault.

      4. Those institutions were not enough. The majority always holds a tyranny so long as the people they elect deal in contradictory violent force. IE so long as people can elect legislators who can decide whether I live or die — without hurting or defrauding anyone — we have a serious fucking problem. This is the essence of income tax, legal tender laws, the draft, individual mandates, etc. These things are VIOLENTLY enforced — you don’t pay, you don’t serve, you use your own money … you face violence. First jail, and if you defend yourself by the means necessary, death by the shooting of police officers.

      • ben sima December 9, 2011 at 11:20 am #

        1. “he makes no mention that we do not live in a democracy” -> So you’re assuming he thinks we live in a democracy? If so that’s an appeal to ignorance…

        3. ok i think i can agree with that…

        4. I think Spooner had an interesting solution to this… it was like the minimum amount of legislation to not be anarchy. I have it in my notes somewhere, if I find it i’ll send it to you

  5. Madbiker December 9, 2011 at 6:48 am #

    I’ve met this man. I used to work in an field where people like him were invited to speak to groups of educators and policy makers about how to achieve equity and fairness.

    He is a collectivist. He believes in redistribution of wealth for the greater benefit of all, and that raising up lesser people not through merit but through a systematic redistributing of people through school systems, in higher ed, in jobs…in short, AA on steroids from cradle to grave. No personal responsibility required.

    Dialectics can be a poor form of debate, because they drive not towards a win/lose situation, but a consensus, and usually an unequal one, where the loudest-shouter of platitudes and ideals forces the opposition to concede to the superiority of his position – and that position need not be factually superior; argument only has to reach a point where the opposition is weakened or tired or just wants the squeaky wheel to STFU! already.

    Dialectics lead to placation, and placating ideologues is what has led us to this mess.

    • ben sima December 9, 2011 at 11:01 am #

      “He believes in redistribution of wealth for the greater benefit of all…”
      Wasn’t aware of this, and haven’t seen it in his writings yet (to me he seems to champion personal responsibility), but I’ll look out for it. In fact, he’s coming to my campus in january i think, I’ll try and ask him explicitly about his views.

      Dialectics allows for all areas of an issue to be examined, which is why plato wrote in dialogue. it’s not a method of debate, but a method of inquiry. the point’s not to have a shouting match, but to take a reasoned approach to an issue. It’s not perfect, but it’s useful. Yeah the scientific method is probably better, but I think Karl Popper was a bit too harsh.

      • Madbiker December 10, 2011 at 9:57 am #

        I am looking, perhaps unfairly, at Hegelian dialectics, which use the pretense of debate to drive at a consensus which is seldom accurately reflected in the true beliefs of the people involved. Shouting, tyranny, or just plain boredom with tired arguments can make people concede to anything if they are not vigilant and principled.

        • ben sima December 10, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

          I don’t know much about Hegel. read him once over a year ago but didn’t understand hardly anything, so i’ll take your word and agree on that.

  6. VartanK December 9, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    He still kicked ass on the Matrix documentary, he get’s eternal credit for that.

  7. Gold Investor December 10, 2011 at 10:25 am #

    Cornell West is one of the biggest creeps out there, calling everyone “brother” and pretending to be friendly when his philosophy is clearly one of pure hatred for life and mankind. Listen to this vileness:

  8. L December 11, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

    As a recent grad of Princeton, I am incredibly ashamed that my tuition went to paying West – he’s an epic fool, thankfully he no longer teaches there.

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