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.

Can’t We Come Up with Something Better Than Liberal Democracy?

  • Can’t We Come Up with Something Better Than Liberal Democracy? Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker

    The West’s favored form of self-government is looking creaky. A legal scholar and a philosopher propose some alternatives.

    …Getting the part to act as the whole presupposes an agreement among the whole. There is no such agreement. Trumpism and Obamaism are not two expressions of one will for collective action; they are radically incommensurable views about what’s needed…

    The perennial temptation of leftist politics is to suppose that opposition to its policies among the rank and file must be rooted in plutocratic manipulation, and therefore curable by the reassertion of the popular will. The evidence suggests, alas, that very often what looks like plutocratic manipulation really is the popular will…

    Kōjin Karatani… s a staunch egalitarian, who believes that democracy actually exemplifies the basic oppressive rhythm of “ruler and ruled.” His ideal is, instead, “isonomia,” the condition of a society in which equal speaks to equal as equal, with none ruled or ruling, and he believes that such an order existed around the Ionian Islands of the seventh and sixth centuries B.C.E., before the rise of Athens…

    …Yet the basic inquiry into the possibility of human relationships that Karatani undertakes is moving, even inspiring. Though he doesn’t cite them, his Ionians most resemble the classic anarchists, of the Mikhail Bakunin or Emma Goldman kind: repudiating all power relations, ruler to ruled, in a way that shames more timid liberal imaginations. (Posted in Democracy/Articles)

We Build Civilizations on Status. But We Barely Understand It

We Build Civilizations on Status. But We Barely Understand It, Ezra Klein Show with Cecilia Ridgeway.

You can listen to the podcast on your favorite platform. The transcript is here (behind paywall).

From the Intro:

Cecilia Ridgeway is a sociologist and professor emerita at Stanford University. She spent her entire career studying what she calls the deep story of status, what it is, why it matters, how it works and all the ways it shapes our world. And Ridgeway’s basic argument is that the way we typically think about status is all wrong. Status isn’t just some social vanity limited to elite institutions or the top percentages of the income ladder. It’s a cultural system that is absolutely fundamental to how our society operates, one that permeates literally every aspect of our lives, from the office, to the classroom, to the dinner table. At the heart of Ridgeway’s theory and of this conversation is what she calls the double-edged sword of status…

My comment:

While listening to this valuable podcast, it struck me that they did not address the need to respect everyone’s essential equality, as does Beatrice Bruteau when she affirms “a worldview that features the incomparable value of each person, [which leads to] mutual respect and care.” Recognizing everyone’s “incomparable value” seems to be a critical starting point. At the conclusion, however, the podcast does touch on this issue with these remarks:

Secondly, respect others. Respect others. Understand that they’re all in this game too. And treat them with respect. If you want to be treated with respect, treat others with respect. It works. It works. So that can help. Because a lot of when you get really obsessed with status, it’s because nobody treats you with it. You don’t get no respect. But if you respect others, they tend to respect you back. They do. And then that gets you through.

But even here they don’t clearly affirm everyone’s infinite value.

Relational Equality: A Conceptual and Normative Analysis

  • Relational Equality: A Conceptual and Normative Analysis, Kathryn E. Joyce.

    “This dissertation provides a conceptual framework for theorizing about relational equality. I demonstrate its appeal by using it to develop an account that attends to neglected aspects of relational equality, grounds its core commitments, and provides resources for addressing some of the most pressing objections raised against it.”

Introduction to the Democracy topic.

Introduction to the Democracy topic. “History reflects an ongoing battle between autocracy and democracy. Popular forces, often invisible and underground only to emerge unpredictably, chip away at oppressive hierarchies that enable the rich and powerful to monopolize wealth and power, shape a country’s culture, and socialize its people to conform. Even in relatively democratic countries like the United States, the corrupt hierarchy remains dominant.” (read more)

Recent Additions to Americans for Humanity


  • Why Your Social Life Is Not What It Should Be, David Brooks (behind paywall).

    “…If a bunch of people are lonely, why don’t they just hang out together?… Once you get used to filling your day with social exercise, it gets easier and easier, and more and more fun… the fate of America will be importantly determined by how we treat each other in the smallest acts of daily life…”

Recent Additions to Americans for Humanity

“A mentorship platform that empowers your organization to drive performance through relationships. Accelerate employee growth through mentoring.”


  • Peer Learning: 6 Benefits To Collaboration in the Workplace, Matthew Reeves.

    “Here are six compelling reasons to consider peer learning in your workplace. Peer learning is one of the strongest ways to accelerate employee development. Why? For starters, learning sticks when we’re collaborating with others. We’re discussing things back and forth, explaining ourselves, actively listening to others, and refining our ideas.”


  • Peers, more than teachers, inspire us to learn, Michigan State University.

    “Why do I have to learn this?” It’s a common question among youth, but new research suggests students perform much better academically when the answer is provided by their peers rather than their teachers.”



  • Review of James Lindley Wilson: Democratic Equality, John Thrasher.

    “It is especially important insofar as it defends a conception of political equality based on the relational egalitarian notion of equality of status that does not cash this idea out in terms of equality of power. Taken as a whole, Wilson presents a thoroughly worked out conception of political equality as well as its relation to democracy and democratic institutions.”


  • Review of Democratic Equality (James Lindley Wilson) for Political Theory, Samuel Bagg,

    “Despite these lingering worries – which no theory can entirely escape – Wilson’s book is clearly a significant contribution to ongoing debates in analytic political philosophy. On its own terms, then, it is undoubtedly an impressive achievement. He outlines a distinctive account of the justification and demands of democracy, carefully contrasts his view with others, and systematically draws out its institutional implications. He endorses recent arguments that equal authority over common affairs is an essential component of relations of social equality. Yet he doubts that this can be achieved through equal power or influence. Just as we give appropriate consideration to the judgments of our friends, rather, representatives must grant the same respect to their constituents, and equal citizens to one another. To aid them in this task, Wilson concludes, political institutions must be designed to minimize deliberative neglect.”

The American polity is cracked, and might collapse

  • The American polity is cracked, and might collapse. Canada must prepare, Thomas Homer-Dixon.

    …By 2025, American democracy could collapse, causing extreme domestic political instability, including widespread civil violence. By 2030, if not sooner, the country could be governed by a right-wing dictatorship.

    We mustn’t dismiss these possibilities just because they seem ludicrous or too horrible to imagine. In 2014, the suggestion that Donald Trump would become president would also have struck nearly everyone as absurd. But today we live in a world where the absurd regularly becomes real and the horrible commonplace… READ MORE (Posted in Democracy)