Pro Democracy rallies around Poland, BYDGOSZCZ, 19 December 2015 © Jaap Arriens | Flickr
EssaysFeatureLiberal Democracy in Question

Thoughts on the Hungarian and Polish New Right in Power

Eviscerating the Constitutional Court and purging the judiciary, complete politicization of the civil service, turning public media into a government mouthpiece, restricting opposition prerogatives in parliament, unilateral wholesale change of the Constitution or plain violation of it, official tolerance and even promotion of racism and bigotry, administrative assertion of traditional gender norms, cultural resurrection of authoritarian traditions, placing loyalty over competence in awarding state posts, surveillance without check — with such policies and more, right-wing governments in Hungary and Poland …

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Hungary vs. Refugees © Michael Gubi | Flickr
EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

Orbán’s Politics of Fear and Hatred in Hungary

On a European nation's far-right response to the refugee crisis

Although the position on the migrant issue put forward by the prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, is morally hard to digest, many people think it is nevertheless the only way to save Europe from the flood of masses that threatens to destabilize the continent. I dispute this opinion. In addition to the moral issues it presents, Orbán’s plan for Europe is doomed to end in disaster. …

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A 2015 demonstration in Washington, DC against the still-operating Guantanamo Bay facility © Stephen Melkisethian | Flickr
EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

Let’s Change the Future

On reclaiming our humanity in times of fear

I have a strange feeling, like I’ve been here before.

Everything looks familiar. The highly coordinated Islamist attack on a “Western” nation; the bloodthirsty demand for revenge; the calls to war abroad and the suspension of liberties at home; the simplification of the world into …

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Marchers in support of Charlie Hebdo rally in Paris wearing posters saying "I am Charlie" and "We are Charlie," January 11, 2015 © Passion Leica | Flickr
EssaysRaceRace/ismsThe Left

Charlie Hebdo and the Appeal for French Context

White & Black Analytics

The attacks on the offices of the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in January 2015, during which fourteen people were killed, pose a specific problem for the white left. The call to contextualize Charlie Hebdo foregrounded a structurally white French context, in which people of colour and Muslims could be included only as loyal subjects of the Republic. The translations of France offered by French and Francophile leftists for their “Anglo-American” interlocutors, while revealing of the French dynamics of secularism, universalism, and coloniality, marginalised those “who could not be Charlie.” Instead, to use Barnor Hesse’s formulation, a “white analytics” was advanced that denied the centrality of the “black analytics” crucial for a complete understanding of both historical and contemporary French conflicts around race and religion (Hesse 2014). “Context,” therefore, stand in for racial neutrality: in reality, an impossibility. …

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Book cover of The Muslims are Coming!: : Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror by Arun Kundani © Verso | Amazon
EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionRaceRace/isms

The Muslims are Coming! Video of Arun Kundani’s Lecture

Islamophobia, extremism, and the domestic war on terror

This lecture by Arun Kundani, Adjunct Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, was part of the NSSR Sociology Lecture Series. It took place on February 9, 2015, in the Wolff Conference Room of the Vera List Academic Center at 6 E. 16th St. in New York.

Over the last few years, it has become increasingly apparent that Muslims in the U.S. are being subjected to systematic surveillance by law enforcement agencies. How does this surveillance relate to the longer histories of surveillance in the U.S.? How can we understand the construction of Muslims in the U.S. as a racial “other”? …

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"Masquerade" by Aubrey Beardsley (1872 - 1898) © Public Domain |masterpieceart.net/aubrey-beardsley
EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionMedia & Publics

We Say No to the “Sacred Union”

In the aftermath of the killings at Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher, critical voices have largely been drowned in the general sea of undifferentiated outrage. But this statement by French colleagues, which recently appeared in Le Monde, is a major intervention and a welcome exception.

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Scene from the January 11, 2015 demonstration in Paris © Kelly Kline | Flickr
EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionRace

A Postcard from France: A Canadian in Avignon

To provide some context for what follows: I live in France, in the small southern city of Avignon. My wife, Audrey, is French, but I’m not. I, like so many others here, am “an immigrant.” Recent events have made the last few days emotionally and intellectually complex. I’ve been, at times, angry, exhausted, bewildered, and blasé. 

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Quartz crystal © Macroscopic Solutions | Flickr
CapitalismEssaysThe Left

Seven Steps toward Enlightenment: The Case of the French Killings

When a crystal breaks, it breaks along lines of pre-existing weakness. Thus traumatic assaults, like the one in Paris, can serve as X-rays into the body politic that endures them. Certainly, the US invasion of Iraq, a response to 9/11, serves as a paradigm case of how a terroristic attack can provoke the blind aggressivity otherwise obscured and disguised in the self-professed guarantor of world peace. By examining the range of responses to the massacre at Hebdo, we can learn something more about ourselves, and perhaps correct our mistaken stance. In my view there are seven levels of response to these attacks, each a mixture of ideology and truth, progressing closer and closer to something comprehensive and just, albeit also elegiac and incomplete. …

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