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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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Heidegger, Metaphysics, and Wheelbarrows: A Poetic Introduction to Heidegger’s Being and Time

By: Richard Oxenberg

so much depends
upon
a red wheel
barrow
glazed with rain
water
beside the white
chickensWilliam Carlos Williams

In order to appreciate Heidegger’s thought it is necessary to see it in relation to the Western metaphysical tradition from which it has emerged. This would be true, of course, for any thinker, but it is especially so for Heidegger, because Heidegger’s thinking represents a radical challenge to the tradition itself. Heidegger does to the traditional view of Being and the world what Marx is said to have done to Hegel’s dialectic: he stands it on its head. He stands it on its head – so he might contend – in order that we might finally see it right-side-up.

The problem with the traditional view, from Heidegger’s perspective, is not that it fails to illuminate the most abstract and remote issues, the Alpha and Omega of Being, but that it fails to properly grasp what is most obvious, what is everyday, what is right before our eyes; what is, perhaps, so close that it is uncomfortably close. And in this failure it has institutionalized an interpretation of life that is inauthentic and self-alienated. Perhaps the best way to see this is to examine something that is itself rather simple and everyday, first from the traditional and then from the Heideggarian standpoint.

The poem quoted above will serve this purpose well. It is, apparently, the expression of a simple moment of life; perhaps it is a worried sigh, a moment’s nervous reflection. It might have been uttered at the end of a long day’s work, or in preparation for a new one. It is almost too simple to say anything about. We are finished with it before we have begun. And yet it is precisely here, in the obvious, in the everyday, that Heidegger begins his revolutionary investigations.

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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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Naked, Shivering Creatures: A Look Behind Burke’s “Pleasing Illusions”

By: Sonia Maria Pavel

“Only man placed values in things to preserve himself – he alone created a meaning for things, a human meaning! That is why he calls himself “human,” that is: the esteemer. […] Only through esteeming is there value: and without esteeming, the nut of existence would be hollow.”[1] – F. Nietzsche

In the Reflections, Edmund Burke expresses his concern with the radical political changes prompted by what were then recent events in France. He sees the “new conquering empire of light and reason” threatening to tear off the old “decent drapery of life.”[2] Contrary to the enlightened reformers leading this empire of light, Burke defends prejudice and the “pleasing illusions” that surround political power. In his view, prejudices ought not to be cast aside simply because they are old or irrational, but rather valued as a common moral heritage that engenders stability through feelings of familiarity and belonging.

In this article, I differentiate between two dimensions of Burke’s argument. The first is a historical and anthropological description of ‘pleasing illusions’ – their manifestations and meanings in pre-revolutionary France. On this front, I take Burke to be arguing that the ‘pleasing illusions’ surrounding power are not designed as ways of deceiving people into obeying authority, but evolve alongside relationships of obedience thereby making them gentler and more liberal.[3] According to him, communities and cultures are not built from scratch in accordance to a rational plan to yield particular results, but emerge and develop historically.

At the same time, on a secondary political level, Burke’s argument is not merely a tribute to this fading cultural reality; it is in itself a rationalist justification of why it should be revived and rehabilitated. Burke argues that life without such prejudice is brutish and crude. Sans prejudice we would be left with nothing but our “naked shivering nature,” alone and afraid. As a result, he reasons that conventions should be maintained through prejudice.[4]

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Femininity and the Emasculation of Western Politics

By: Glen Paul Hammond

“Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, and fill me, from the crown to toe, top-full of direst cruelty!”

With these words from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the playwright provides modern readers with a sense of what the western world’s view of womankind was in the late medieval period. This view backed up a foundational belief that women were ill-suited to the hard demands of leadership outside the home. Shakespeare’s stratified society was a more complicated system than our own; aristocrats were “born to rule,” and women, depending on their placement within that system, were, more or less, expected to turn their talents to the personal sphere of society, allowing men to apply theirs to the professional world that operated outside the home. In Lady Macbeth’s desire to “unsex” herself, the character outlines the way different traits were assigned to the sexes: She wants kindness to be replaced with cruelty, and compassion to be replaced with action.

As these caricatures of sex traits began to be dismantled in the post-feminist world of the 20th century, female leaders were expected to adopt the attributes of male-styled leadership, since these were still considered the defining features of a leader. However, by the end of the 20th century this began to change, so much so that in the early 21st century, the pendulum seems to have swung the other way.

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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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