How to Strangle Democracy While Pretending to Engage in It, Carlos Lozada

…But the German-born Hirschman — who in addition to being an academic economist was a U.S. Army veteran, an antifascist resister, an adviser on the Marshall Plan and a consultant to the Colombian government — was too intellectually honest, or simply had seen too much of the world, to stop with the right. The left displays its own unity of certitude, he suggested in the penultimate chapter of “The Rhetoric of Reaction,” and its habit of rationalization is “richer in maneuvers, largely of exaggeration and obfuscation, than it is ordinarily given credit for.”…

(read more) [Posted in Political/Democracy]

The U.S. Thinks ‘It Can’t Happen Here.’ It Already Has

  • The U.S. Thinks ‘It Can’t Happen Here.’ It Already Has, By Jamelle Bouie

    The move from democracy to autocracy isn’t a sudden shift. It is not a switch that flips from light to dark with nothing in between. But it’s also not quite right to call the path to authoritarianism a journey. To use a metaphor of travel or distance is to suggest something external, removed, foreign.

    It is better, in the U.S. context at least, to think of authoritarianism as something like a contradiction nestled within the American democratic tradition. It is part of the whole, a reflection of the fact that American notions of freedom and liberty are deeply informed by both the experience of slaveholding and the drive to seize land and expel its previous inhabitants. (read more) [posted in Political/Democracy]

The Uncomfortable Truths That Could Yet Defeat Fascism

  • The Uncomfortable Truths That Could Yet Defeat Fascism, Anand Giridharadas

    Polls swing this way and that way, but the larger story they tell is unmistakable. With the midterm elections, Americans are being offered a clear choice between continued and expanded liberal democracy, on the one hand, and fascism, on the other. And it’s more or less a dead heat.

    It is time to speak an uncomfortable truth: The pro-democracy side is at risk not just because of potential electoral rigging, voter suppression and other forms of unfair play by the right, as real as those things are. In America (as in various other countries), the pro-democracy cause — a coalition of progressives, liberals, moderates, even decent Republicans who still believe in free elections and facts — is struggling to win the battle for hearts and minds. (read more) [posted in Political/Democracy]

Fareed Zakaria on Grassroots Democracy

  • Fareed Zakaria on Grassroots Democracy, From his 10/16/22 CNN GPS program.

    And now for the last look. The protests raging in Iran have been deeply inspiring, sparked by women demonstrating against the repression of a brutal regime, that has made control over women and their bodies a central tenant of its rule. And as the “New York Times” notes, the protests have now spread to include oil workers who have taken to the streets shouting slogans like “death to the dictator.”

    This is powerful stuff. But are the regime’s days numbered? In a fascinating piece in “The New York Times,” Max Fisher notes two puzzling trends. All over the world we are seeing an astonishing rise in protests. But this rise in frequency does not appear to correlate to a rise in efficacy. In fact, quite the opposite. (read more) [posted in Political/Democracy.]

American Culture Is Trash Culture

American Culture Is Trash Culture, [behind paywall], Wesley Morris

It’s not just that trash is what Americans want from movies; it’s who we are. So where did it go?

…Our culture has always been at its most pure when it’s in the gutter, when it’s conflating divine and ugly, beauty and base. Blackface minstrelsy, ragtime, jazz: Somebody was always on hand to cry debasement (not unjustly in minstrelsy’s case). But the crude truth of trash is that we like it — to cry over, to cringe and laugh at — even when we say we don’t. The gutter is where our popular culture began, and the gaminess lurking there is our truest guise.

So really what I mean when I say trash vanished is that it vanished from movies. But trash is a persistent, consumptive force that’ll set up shop in any eager host. And its shamelessness went and found a new home, in American politics…

(read more) [behind paywall]

Promoting the Compassionate Humanity Community

  • Promoting the Compassionate Humanity Community, Wade Lee Hudson and Larry Walker.

    Rooted in humanity’s highest traditions, the time-honored effort to relieve and prevent suffering is alive and well. In countless ways, ethical individuals and organizations spread compassion and promote justice as alternatives to society’s selfishness. These manifestations of a global compassionate humanity community tap into deep, innate, positive instincts, strengthen love and trust, counter hate and fear, and channel anger into positive action. These efforts use democratic partnerships to counter unjustified domination and blind submission. (read more)

The New York Times Series on Mental Health

  • The New York Times Series on Mental Health. [behind paywall]

    It’s Not Just You.

    America’s mental health crisis isn’t just about our unhappiness as individuals. It’s about the world we live in: our economy, our culture, our medical establishment. Americans have long treated mental health as a personal matter. But until we realize that society shapes our mental health and how we treat it, we won’t be able to feel better.

    [read more — behind paywall]
    Posted in Personal Growth/Mental Health/Articles

Mental Health Is Political

Mental Health Is Political, Danielle Carr.

What if the cure for our current mental health crisis is not more mental health care?…

..Some social scientists have a term — “reification” — for the process by which the effects of a political arrangement of power and resources start to seem like objective, inevitable facts about the world. Reification swaps out a political problem for a scientific or technical one;…

Medicalizing mental health doesn’t work very well if your goal is to address the underlying cause of population-level increases in mental and emotional distress. …

Solving the mental health crisis, then, will require fighting for people to have secure access to infrastructure that buffers them from chronic stress: housing, food security, education, child care, job security, the right to organize for more humane workplaces and substantive action on the imminent climate apocalypse.

A fight for mental health waged only on the terms of access to psychiatric care does not only risk bolstering justifications for profiteering invoked by start-ups eager to capitalize on the widespread effects of grief, anxiety and despair. It also risks pathologizing the very emotions we are going to need to harness for their political power if we are going to win solutions.

[read more — behind paywall]

Posted in Personal Growth/Mental Health/Articles

A Finnish Scholar Wants to Change How We See American History

A Finnish Scholar Wants to Change How We See American History, Jennifer Schuessler.

“Indigenous Continent,” (by Pekka Hamalainen) published on Tuesday by Liveright, aims to do nothing less than recast the story of Native American — and American — history, portraying Indigenous people not as victims but as powerful actors who profoundly shaped the course of events.

Hamalainen, a professor at the University of Oxford who has written acclaimed histories of the Comanche and the Lakota, is hardly the first scholar to argue against the trope of the “doomed” Indian, who inevitably falls victim to the onslaught of guns, germs and capitalism. But he takes the argument further.

The confrontation between European settlers and Indigenous America, he writes, “was a four-centuries-long war,” in which “Indians won as often as not.”…

Back then, Hamalainen was part of a cohort of scholars who were building on the so-called New Indian History. And the field has only continued to explode.

[read more — behind paywall]

Posted in History/Articles.