Category: Practice (Page 3 of 3)

Sullivan, Trump, and Tyranny in America

Howl of the Day: May 3, 2016

Veteran political commentator and online media all-star, Andrew Sullivan, emerged from semi-retirement yesterday, firing broadsides. In an article for New York Magazine, Sullivan mounted an impassioned defense of elitism in America, arguing that the ever-greater democratization of American society and politics has made the nation ripe for tyranny.

Beginning with a reading of Plato and culminating in an assault on Trump, Sullivan warns against the rise of populist anti-establishment politics. To him, Trump is a demagogue, a tyrant-in-waiting of the type that Plato identified as particularly likely to emerge in excessively democratic regimes.

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Sanders at Dearborn: A Socialist Love-Story

Howl of the Day: Mar 16, 2016

In the wake of Bernie Sanders’ victory in the Michigan primary, one of the main themes in the press coverage is that the pundits were taken aback by the large numbers of Arabs and Muslims who voted for Sanders [1] [2] [3]. Cities such as Dearborn, which has the largest concentration of Arab-Americans in the nation, went heavily for Sanders to the surprise of many in the media. This surprise, if it is one, is attributed to the fact that Sanders is Jewish. And, of course, to the prejudicial assumption that few people would expect large numbers of Arabs and Muslims to vote for a Jewish candidate.

With that assumption proving unfounded, the media has rushed to an opposite and equally dubious sweeping assumption, viewing the high levels of support for Sanders among Arab and Muslim voters as evidence that anti-Semitism is not widespread in their communities.

The claim that Sanders’ support in Dearborn suggests there is little anti-Semitic feeling among Arabs and Muslims in America, or even beyond, is as great a folly as the claim that there is no more racism in America, since it has elected a black president. Many of the leading figures in the design and rise of European socialism were secular Jews–including Marx himself and Trotsky– yet, as 20th century European history makes abundantly clear, attraction to the socialist cause was not an antidote for anti-Semitism.

Despite the tone of desperate wishfulness in the articles that propose it to be so, Sanders’ ethnic and religious background had little or nothing to do with the results. The media should be asking why these communities voted for Sanders, rather than why they voted for him despite his being Jewish. The results are much more clearly understood as driven by Sanders’ views and his ideological commitments.

Bernie Sanders is a self-professed democratic socialist, and socialism is one of the few Western political ideologies to have taken root in a big way in the broader Arab and Muslim world or to find consilience there. For this reason, Sanders is probably the least surprising candidate to have garnered such support in these communities.

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The Anti-Trumplodytes

Howl of the Day: Mar 8, 2016
A disclaimer first. This article is not at all meant to endorse Donald J. Trump as a candidate for president of the United States. It is not even meant to suggest anything particularly good about him. It is only meant to discredit a particular strain of irresponsible rhetoric that has arisen surrounding his campaign.

Donald J. Trump is not like Hitler. It seems this can’t be repeated often enough.

It can’t be repeated often enough because saying that Trump is like Hitler does two things: it denigrates the sacrifices and sufferings of millions upon millions of human beings, military and civilian, during the Second World War, and it promotes such laziness of thinking as to make even basic political understanding impossible to achieve. Americans need to be able to speak about the relative merits and demerits of political figures and positions without sloppily referring to anything that doesn’t immediately please them as being like Hitler.

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Socrates Made Tiny and Cute

Howl of the Day: Feb 16, 2016

The Second Letter attributed to the philosopher, Plato, contains the famous suggestion that his dialogues present a Socrates made “young and beautiful”. Some people, it seems, concerned with the state of education of children in America, would go a few steps further than Plato did in this sense. They would raise a generation or more of little Socrateses, all not just young and beautiful, but tiny and cute.

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Foggy Thinking in the University; Reality Cut Off

Howl of the Day: Feb 3, 2016

Join us for the next TechnoscienceSalon

Thursday, January 21, 4-6 :: Making Love and Relations Beyond Settler Sexuality

Settler colonialism and heteronormativity are built into science and its institutions.  Join us to explore theoretical interventions that might think through the entangled politics of ethical non-monogamy, nurturing extended family and tribal kin formations, and critiques of marriage as integral to the settler colonial project. At the meeting points of technoscience studies and indigenous studies, we will discuss kin making as practices that have the potential to unsettle relations to the environment, sex, politics, and science.

Speaker ::   Kim Tallbear (Native Studies, U of Alberta)
Stirrers ::     Emily Simmonds (STS, York)
Michelle Murphy (WGSI & History, U of T)
Location | Time  ::  Studio 109, Artscape Youngplace,  4-6, p.m.

Ok, let’s get the obvious out of the way. The invite to this panel reads like a parody of academia.

Even within the rarefied air of the Ivory Tower, the claim that settler colonialism is built into science is more likely to produce eye-rolling than agreement. And while interdisciplinary studies thrive on odd pairings, the juxtaposition of the history of science with native studies is beyond esoteric. The number of people competent to speak to both the foundations of modern science as well as the theory and practice of tribalism and polygamy (ethical or otherwise), let alone the critique of marriage as integral to the “settler-colonial project” (don’t tell the US Supreme Court!), has to be vanishingly small.

But, behind all the post-colonial academic jargon, is a serious point. Modern science is an instrument, a theoretical construction, and, like all instruments, it must serve some master. So what project does it serve? What project should it serve?

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The Best Case for the Iran Nuclear Deal Requires a Global Perspective

By: Alex Rinn

The United States really only ever had two options for confronting Iran’s nuclear program. First, America, largely on its own, could have invaded Iran, secured its military sites, and ousted the Supreme Leader (the invasion option). Second, it could have struck essentially the kind of deal that President Obama recently appears to have secured (the diplomatic option).

The world should be extremely skeptical of the agreement with Iran. In addition to Iran’s history of flouting international nuclear obligations, for the past decades it has made a policy of working against the interests of the United States and its allies in the region. But as much as the agreement may be a hard pill to swallow, it may be the better of the two available options. If the deal is defensible at all, it is not because it better alleviates the nuclear threat from Iran. Rather, the deal with Iran, if implemented as part of a more comprehensive foreign policy, could allow the United States to direct the bulk of its energies to confronting what are actually its greatest threats, namely China and Russia, each of which seek to test America’s supremacy in the world.

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The Israel-Palestine Conundrum

By: John Simke

The following are class notes for a seminar on the Israel-Palestine problem. The goal of the class is to create an informed discussion among participants who may have no previous experience with the subject.

The way Learning Experiences does its classes is that we present material in chunks of about 5-8 minutes and then pose questions for discussion, for which we allow 10-15 minutes per question. The Israel-Palestine notes represent a 90 minute class, broken into four pieces of 20-25 minutes each.

We attempt to set up a discussion by providing various points of view on an issue, with just enough provocative material to encourage a lively exchange of views. We try not to let our own biases affect the presentation too much.

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The Gods of Barack Obama

By: Lucian

On February 4th, in the year of our Lords, 2014, President Barack Obama formally announced himself as the prophet of a new religion.

The president was, on that date, to be found addressing the faithful, who were assembled in Washington, DC, for the National Prayer Breakfast. He said then that, “No god condones terror,” and also that, “We have to speak up against those who would misuse His name”.

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Israel, Crucible of Civilizations

By: L. B. Benjamin

“I am not sorry that we notice the barbarous horror of such acts, but I am heartily sorry that, judging their faults rightly, we should be so blind to our own.” 

– Montaigne, Of Cannibals

Some things in political life are every bit as inescapable as the turning of day into night. The occasional rise and eventual fall of nations is one them. The hold exerted by Israel over the moral imagination of mankind is another.

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A New Approach

By: Alex Mazer
Originally published on Policy Options

Read the full text of the original here

The road to building a more sustainable economy and reducing growing income inequality leads through the public treasury. Budgets are a government’s main policy mechanism for dealing with problems like these, targeting more resources for programs and services that work and fewer for those that don’t. Building a sustainable economy will take carbon pricing and public investment in physical infrastructure and learning. Reducing inequality will require changes to tax policy and funding for social programs.

Yet we see little change in the way governments budget. It’s time we did.

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