Category: Practice (Page 1 of 6)

On the Precipice

by Victor Wallis

Like many others (unless they are in a state of simple denial), I sometimes feel paralyzed by the enormity of the environmental challenge.

How to break through this?

We must begin with the certainties.

First is the science. Not every aspect of it, of course, but the basic contours. The most in-depth, up-to-date, and accessible account is Ian Angus’s 2016 Monthly Review Press book, Facing the Anthropocene: Fossil Capitalism and the Crisis of the Earth System (see my review at Climate and Capitalism). When you read this book, you will see how in some respects the point of no return has already been reached. But even if full collapse is only a matter of time, many life-and-death choices will still confront us along the way – over what we may hope will be more than a single lifetime.

The second certainty is that we are being systematically lied to by the most powerful interests in this society. It is now known that the big oil companies, by their own research in the 1970s, confirmed what would later become common knowledge about the climate-impact of greenhouse gases, but they then undertook a deliberate campaign of obfuscation which continues to this day (see updates at kochvsclean.com).

The third certainty is an outcome of the second: hundreds of millions of people who should – and could – be waging the battle of and for their lives, are instead propelled by a structured inertia, part “practical” and part ideological, to continue with their daily routines – of heating or cooling, driving, flying, over-indulging in one or another addiction, and acquiescing in wars of domination – as though nothing had changed.

And yet things have changed!

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Against Term Limits

Guillaume LeBlanc from New American Perspective takes issue with President Trump’s suggestion of adding Congressional term limits.

In what was certainly a bid to win more good will with the populist right (and perhaps even the populist left), President Trump recently called for term limits on Congress. The reaction was much more subdued than I expected, although it did play out more or less as this sort of thing normally does: with the populists sharing articles about it, complete with complaints about “career politicians”, while only a few skeptics bothered to chime in to oppose it. And when it comes to the issue of term limits for Congress, put me firmly in the opposition camp.

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Bill Nelson Won’t Go Home

By: Caleb Mills

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and, after forty years in politics, you’d think that Senator Bill Nelson would be a case in point when it comes to that adage. But sometimes, for both people and their canine companions, mastering new tricks is actually a viable option. Still, for Florida’s lone Democrat to survive past November, it’s going take a little more than just jumping through hoops to succeed.

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Historic Handshake between North and South Korea complicates Sino-American rivalry in Asia

By: David O. Monda

This week, witnessed the unprecedented diplomatic rapprochement between the presidents of North and South Korea. Political actors around the world witnessed these two leaders cross over the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) at the 38th parallel and pledge to work towards a new Korea. These precedent setting events, have not been witnessed heretofore. This historic handshake between North and South Korea complicates Sino-American rivalry in Asia.

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Cry Beloved Country: Matiba’s Legacy Creates Hope for a New Republic

By: David O. Monda

On 1st June 1932, the soils of Muranga County reverberated with the birth of Kenneth Njindo Matiba. Born was a Kenyan who would confront the authoritarian powers that had coopted the state since independence. Kenneth Matiba’s life was characterized by his defiance to the tyranny of the state and his desire for increasing democratic freedoms. While many mourn his demise, the reality of things is that Matiba was unable to bridge the divide of ethnic mobilization in the Kenyan political psyche. He was unable to beat the beast of negative ethnicity that scuppered his momentum in advancing the expansion of the democratic space through the introduction of multi-party democracy in the 1990’s.

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Racist Ideas, Justice, and Freedom: A Review and Reflection on Ibram Kendi’s ‘Stamped from the Beginning’

By: Jeremy Kingston Cynamon

We tend to think that hierarchical institutions like slavery emerge as the result of racist and hateful ideas. Ibram Kendi’s new book Stamped From the Beginning, offers an intriguing and far reaching historical challenge to that narrative. Kendi reverses the causal arrow and argues that rather than racist ideas causing discriminatory practices, racist ideas are more accurately understood as ex post justifications of those practices. In other words, hierarchical institutions emerge first – owing to self-interested economic, political, and social reasons –  and are then justified in theory by clergy, intellectuals, and other elites.[1] Perhaps Kendi’s most surprising claim is that racist ideas penetrate even the minds of liberal reformers, activists, and theorists, who are otherwise considered progressives. Here he cites W.E.B. Du Bois and Barack Obama amongst many others, ultimately suggesting that racist ideas infiltrate nearly every discourse and sphere of social life.

Kendi’s book is, as its subtitle suggests, an incisive and thoroughgoing study of the history of racist ideas in America. But it is more than that; Stamped From the Beginning is also rife with implications for political theory. It has much to say both about the ongoing discussion about distributive justice, and about how we conceptualize freedom. Its central argument, which points to the need to address deep structures of inequality, can be interpreted as particularly troublesome for liberal theories of distributive justice. This same argument also highlights some important limitations of the typical bifurcation of freedom into its positive and negative variants.[2]

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Pro-life Replies to Pro-choice Arguments

By: Hendrik van der Breggen

Below are some popular arguments for abortion choice followed by some pro-life replies. These pro-choice arguments are real (from a critic of one of my recent articles published here and here) and so are the replies (which I presented as responses).

I hope the interaction between this critic and me will encourage careful reasoning in Canada’s public discourse on abortion.

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PAUL RYAN ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT FROM CONGRESS

PLANS TO REJOIN THE CAST OF THE MUNSTERS IN THE UPCOMING REUNION FILM

Don’t Feed The Animals, A Series of Satirical Musings by: Josh Lorenzo

April 11th, 2018, Washington, D.C. – Current Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Representative of the 1st District of Wisconsin, Paul Ryan, has announced that he will not seek re-election when his current term expires.

​In a surprising turn of events, Speaker Ryan plans to rejoin the cast of the Munsters for a reunion film set to begin shooting early next year. Speaker Ryan will reprise his seminal role as the gregarious Eddie Munster.

​“The House is in much better shape after my tenure,” Ryan confidently told colleagues after announcing his decision. “No matter who the next Speaker of the House will be, they will be quite capable of facilitating the non-cooperation and partisan politics I have worked so hard to achieve.”

​Reprising the role of Eddie, the all-American boy/werewolf of the mid-1960’s television show, is truly a dream come true for the actor-turned-unmotivated politician. As the only child to Herman and Lilly Munster, Speaker Ryan was taught valuable lessons in selfishness, a lack of compassion for others, and a sense of entitlement. These traits were used quite frequently during his twenty-year tenure in the House.

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Raila’s “handshake” with Uhuru, betrays the cause of many NASA supporters

By: David O. Monda

If anything encapsulated the insincerity of Raila Odinga to his supporters, it was his handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta last week. Nothing illustrates his single minded focus to access the presidency than his abandonment of the democratic ideals he claimed he fought for in the pursuit of short term political power. His actions smack a veneer of contempt upon the millions of NASA supporters that were hoodwinked into believing that Raila actually wanted electoral reform, change in policing policy, judicial reform or the entrenchment of devolution. The deal between Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta is an agreement between two political dynasties that has no input from the electorate. Raila Odinga will come to regret his action.

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A Quick Word on How Social Media is Rewiring the Democratic Ganglion

By: Jared Marcel Pollen

All major political epochs have their corresponding media epochs: the reformation and the printing press, the nation state and the broadsheet newspaper, nationalism and the pamphlet. That Fascism rolled on the waves of radio, to take another example, is no coincidence. The acoustic space furnished by transmission, its spherical, enveloping field, allowed the disembodied God-like voice of the Fuhrer to cruise through every living room in the Reich. The proliferation of the bound, typeset book in the sixteenth century gave us what Marshall McLuhan called Gutenberg minds–– individualist, solitary, thinking. Books took us out of the city square and into the home, and newspapers later undid this by making reading more participatory and communal. If we take media as an extension of the central nervous system, one that provides the lattice which structures our whole reality, then any new transformation will inaugurate a transformation of the political nervous system along with it.

We now find ourselves at such an epoch, somewhere between the global village and the filter bubble. It’s been almost twenty years since broadband, and about fourteen years since the rise of social media, beginning with Facebook in 2004, and already we’ve observed the ways in which these technologies have altered democratic norms of communication; this includes a whole set of ethical questions re. privatization of the internet, censorship and “fake news.” (The last deserves some revision. We shouldn’t allow Trump’s slur for anything that dissents from the empire of his mind to be conflated with real obscurantism.)

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