past+present+history+podcast+nicole+hemmer+natalia+petrzela+neil+young+historians
Multi MediaPodcast

Afghanistan, Plus-Size Clothing, and Swearing

Past and Present: Episode 98

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil J. Young debate Trump’s proposal for Afghanistan, plus-size clothing, and why swearing is on the rise.

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Afghanistan presidential election workers count and organize election ballots at a local school in the Nawa District © U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. William Greeson | Wikimedia Commons
EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

The Old Patterns of the New Afghan Democracy

The Ghani-Abdullah Agreement and national and international stability in historical perspective

After a long electoral process, on September 27, 2014, Ashraf Ghani was sworn in as the Afghan president. The arrangements to grant him that office, which was earned in a controversial election, were not easy, because it forced a generous conciliation with Abdullah Abdullah, Ghani’s chief rival. Abdullah was granted the role of chief executive of the government, a sort of Afghan Prime Minister.

As Michael Keating points out, this is a blow to the trustworthiness of the electoral process, which serves precisely to avoid this sort of agreement among elites. …

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"The Apotheosis of War," oil on canvas, 1871, by Vasily Vereshchagin © AlexSoft | Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

Can I be a Pragmatic Pacifist?

This is a gently updated version of a post I originally published in Deliberately Considered. I post it now, thinking about the latest chapter of the never ending story of the war on terrorism.

I remember struggling with this question as a young man. Subjected to the draft during the Vietnam War being a very early and precocious opponent to the war, I tried to convince myself that I was a pacifist. Wanting to avoid conscription, I read the writings of Gandhi and A.J. Muste. I looked into the pacifist activities of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Although I realized that making the claim of being a Jewish pacifist would be practically difficult, I wanted to explore possibilities. …

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Anti-government protest in Kiev, Dec. 29, 2013, showing flags of The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and All-Ukrainian Union "Svoboda" parties © maksymenko oleksandr | Fickr
EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionThe Left

The War on Fascism

By my title,“The War on Fascism,” I do not mean the war between the US, the Soviet Union and Great Britain, on the one hand, and Nazi Germany, Mussolini’s Italy and imperial Japan on the other, the war that took place between 1939 and 1945. Rather I mean an unspoken war on the concept of fascism that increasingly characterizes our understanding of World War Two and informs discussion of contemporary problems, such as Ukraine. Although the term “fascism” is still in use today, it generally refers to real or supposed dictatorships, such as those of Saddam Hussein or Vladimir Putin, and has lost its original connotation, that of an authoritarian but still capitalist state. Because the original meaning of “fascism” was aimed not at dictatorship, but at the relation between dictatorship and private property and market power, the term had a critical or self-reflective character. Understanding the loss of this character can help us understand the history by which present political discussions, for example those concerning Putin, have become impoverished. …

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