Daniel Berrigan Funeral, 2016 © Jeremy Varon
EssaysFeatureIn Depth

The Death Stops Here: The Death and Resurrection of Daniel Berrigan

Fidgety and a little bored in the crammed pews of the Church of St. Francis Xavier, my eight-year-old son waited with us for the service to begin. For distraction and readiness, he etched on his program, with his parents’ help: “Today we reflect on the life of Daniel Berrigan. He was a great priest, prophet, poet and peacemaker. He touched many lives with his actions and words. It is nice to be in such a beautiful church with so many people honoring a man they loved.” Simple and true, these words presaged a ceremony that edified and even transformed the two thousand or so people blessed to have been there. The death on April 30 of the 94-year-old Fr. Dan Berrigan, S.J. at a Jesuit infirmary in New York City has been big news. Heartfelt obituaries have poured forth: from fellow priest and political troublemaker John Dear; from the rogue Washington Post columnist Coleman McCarthy, …

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Church and State © Dan Klein | Flickr
EssaysFeatureTheory & Practice

Refugee Resettlement Is a Church-State Enterprise

If Rand Paul supports church efforts to aid refugees, then he should support government efforts, too.

During the last Republican debate, Senator Rand Paul expressed opposition to resettling Syrian refugees because of his concern about government spending. “Charity is about giving your own money,” Paul declared. “Charity isn’t giving someone else’s money.” Paul lavished praise on private efforts to aid refugees, …

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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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Women Say NO To Torture, Outside The Third Guantanamo Hearing (Washington, DC), 2007 © Jim Kuhn | Flickr
EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionThe Left

Look Out Kids: On the New and Next Left

A reply to Eli Zaretsky

Bundled into Eli Zaretsky’s unmistakable claim that second wave feminism was substantially to blame for the undoing of the 60s-era Left is another curious charge: that no American Left exists today, or has for a long time [“Rethinking the Split Between Feminists and the Left”]. In their response, Ann Snitow and Vicky Hattam expose the flimsy basis and maladroit construction of the first charge [“The Women Did It?”]. While adding to their case, I address mostly the second. I do so not as one who “was there” in the 1960s but as both a scholar of the period and an activist since the 1980s in what I’ve always considered the Left. Zaretsky’s rebuttal of the Snitow/Hattam response further confuses his original argument while modestly improving its terms. I deal with it briefly at the end.

Uniting both of Zaretsky’s claims is a dismissive view of the experiences and perspectives of others. Second wave feminists might feel proud of their efforts to establish battered women’s shelters, health and day care collectives, rape crisis centers, alternative schools, peace camps, and more accepting versions of the family. …

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Shulamith Firestone (circa 1970). © Unknown | RIP futurist Shulamith Firestone, who hailed artificial wombs and cybernetics as tools of liberation
EssaysThe Left

Rethinking the Split Between Feminists and the Left

The recent death of Shulamith Firestone marks a milestone in the history of second wave feminism, and encourages an historical perspective. Firestone was one of the most inspired and original political intellectuals of the sixties, and a founder of the modern feminist movement. I can speak personally here of the impact of Firestone’s Dialectic of Sex (1970) on my own life. When I first read the book, upon its publication, I immediately recognized that its portrait of a universal system of male domination rooted in the family was both the most important challenge to the Marxism that had shaped my worldview, and an equally important corrective to its blind spots. My 1972 book, Capitalism, the Family and Personal Life began as a review of Firestone’s work and proposed both to answer and to learn from it.

In a recent New Yorker (April 15, 2013) Susan Faludi provided a powerful and moving account of Firestone’s brief, brilliant career and its tragic aftermath.Firestone was only twenty-five years old when she published Dialectic of Sex.

 

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