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

The Proud Boys and the Long-Lived Anxieties of American Men

The Proud Boys and the Long-Lived Anxieties of American Men, Adam Hochschild.

“…But one wonders if what groups like the Proud Boys are really worried about is the replacement of men by women.

A similar sense of precarious white masculinity underlay the earlier vigilante groups…

A future U.S. administration may more tightly seal the country’s borders and claim to stop the Great Replacement. But despite recent efforts by the Supreme Court, it will have a far harder time rolling back advances by American women. Which suggests that the Proud Boys — who have misogyny “baked into the rules,” Campbell writes — won’t vanish from our streets any time soon.”

[read more — behind paywall]

Posted in Gender/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.

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.

The Holy Thursday Revolution, Beatrice Bruteau

The Holy Thursday Revolution, Beatrice Bruteau.

A pioneer in interspirituality and contemplative thinking, Bruteau offered a worldview that features the incomparable value of each person and the community dynamics of mutual respect and care that follows from that view. In her last book, The Holy Thursday Revolution, Bruteau addressed, How can the world evolve from a culture of war and domination to one of friendship and communion? She wrote:

In saying that the domination/submission paradigm lies at the basis of many of our contemporary ills, I do not say that all of our ills can be traced to it, nor do I say that it is productive only of ill.

In fact, I hold that certain versions of it can be useful and appropriate in various limited, specific, functional situations… However, in our culture we have tended to award to the functionally dominant persons and institutions a total value of superiority, privilege, and power that has often led to injustice, damage, and suffering.

I am suggesting that domination is basic to a great many ills from which our culture does suffer and that it may be possible to replace it with an alternative paradigm that would afford some improvement. I think that each of these paradigms lies at a sufficiently deep level in our consciousness to be a unifying principle for a great many particular behaviors, and therefore if we deal with the matter on a deep level, we could thereby effect alterations in the relatively superficial attitudes and actions much more efficiently than by trying to change those feelings and events piecemeal.

Posted in Systemic/Books.

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)