EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionThe Left

The Disappearance of the Liberal Illusion

Three recent decisions from the Israeli Supreme Court

Four months ago, I was present at a conference organized by The Association for Civil Rights in Israel. The conference focused on a report that the Association had published, entitled “One Government, Two Legal Systems,” which studied the apartheid methods that Israel applies in the West Bank. Among the participants in the second panel of the conference were former Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner and Israel’s current Deputy Attorney General, Dina Zilber. Zilber’s talk was mostly apologetic, and not very successful at that: she tried to answer the claim that the State Attorney’s office consistently collaborates with the injustices perpetrated by Israel’s political system in the West Bank. …

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EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

Fortress Europe and a Mediterranean Cemetery for Migrants

In the night between April 18th and April 19th a boat filled with up to 950 migrants sank in the Mediterranean Sea, 70 miles north of Libya, while trying to reach the southern European border. This was not only the greatest tragedy to date involving migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, it is also the last of a long series of deaths: around 14,600 from 1993 to November, 2012; 900 in little more than a year from January, 2014 to April, 2015, before this latest tragedy.

In face of between 700 and 900 deaths, it is difficult to write a series of numbers and data, when anger, sadness, and shame would seem to be a more appropriate response. …

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CapitalismEssays

Platform Cooperativism vs. the Sharing Economy

The backlash against unethical labor practices in the “collaborative sharing economy” has been overplayed. Recently, The Washington Post, New York Times and others started to rail against online labor brokerages like Taskrabbit, Handy, and Uber because of an utter lack of concern for their workers. At the recent Digital Labor conference, my colleague McKenzie Wark proposed that the modes of production that we appear to be entering are not quite capitalism as classically described. “This is not capitalism,” he said, “this is something worse.”[1] …

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CapitalismEssaysIn Depth

Think Outside the Boss

Cooperate alternatives to the sharing economy

Digital labor touches all of us, whether you are browsing Tinder profiles in your spare time, searching for “Jersey Shore” on Google, or ordering an Uber taxi.

In this afternoon’s talk, I will highlight what is and what could be successful about 21st century work and what are some tendencies that are worrisome. Once we gain an understanding of that, we can examine how to work around the concerning dispositions and promote positive trends. In the first five minutes, I will walk you through a few cases that I find troublesome. …

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EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

Iran, Fear and Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

My partner and I saw Iran from our own eyes last May 2014. The plane was going up and down, as I never experienced before. The pilot seemed to struggle to land in what appeared to be a sand storm over Imam Khomeini airport in Tehran. This difficult landing injected adrenaline in my blood. It did not need this adrenaline. My blood was already racing in a closed circuit it knew too well. The literature I read on Iran, be it critical, balanced or favorable to the regime, did not help. I was anxious to cross the Iranian border as no other border before. Images of interrogation, imprisonment, and torture could not escape from my mind. It was too late to turn back. I took my courage in both hands and we joined the queue. After half an hour waiting, a customs officer scanned our passport and visa. …

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EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

Vilnius and Warsaw: Our Common Cause

Upon receipt of the Freedom Prize

Mrs. President, Mrs. Chair of the Parliament, Mr. Prime Minister,

I am moved and embarrassed by this honor bestowed by the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania on a Pole — a Polish journalist and editor of Gazeta Wyborcza. I treat it as a sign of recognition for my friends and colleagues who supported Lithuanian strivings for independence and democracy from the very beginning — and this includes people from the era of democratic opposition and those who later came together around “Gazeta.” The Polish democratic opposition always wanted a sovereign and democratic Lithuania to be a friendly neighbor of a sovereign and democratic Poland. …

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EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

Against Pessimism: Reflections on the Prospects of the Israeli Left

For me March 17th was a day of joy. At least so it began. Election days in Israel are fully paid holidays, and this year the elections coincided with the dancing display of the male Houbara Bustard. The display is true nature marvel which I have never seen before. I woke up at 4:00am and with a fellow birder drove south for nearly two hours all the way to the border with Egypt. There, we watched a lone specimen of the endangered species, which faces environmental threats, much like the Israeli left.

 

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EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

The Arabs Are Coming!

Imagine that on a United States election day the candidate for the presidency urges the white citizens of the country to get out and vote so as to outnumber the African American voters who are flocking to the polling station. It is almost a certainty that such a statement would result in the downfall of this candidate and the disgrace of his or her party.

 

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EducationEssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionSex & Gender

Four Ways African Universities Should Support Democracy

African universities need to redefine themselves and with greater urgency pursue a more vigorous democratization mission of their societies, given the spectacular failure of political leadership in the region to build quality democracies.

The challenge for African countries is how to mold democratically based models of citizenships in countries and regions where the political cultures are markedly undemocratic, even if governing parties, leaders and individual citizens may often profess embracing democracy. …

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EducationEssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

The Cultural Basis of the Netanyahu Victory

I received this note the day after the recent elections in Israel. -J.G.

Dear Jeff,

As you know, I am frequently blamed for being “pessimistic.” Indeed I am. I am on record stating that Bibi would win three days before the election. Nevertheless, even I did not expect this MAJOR victory. It is “our” liberal biased view that blinds us from looking coldly at how Israeli culture is moving away from our cherished liberal democratic values. In some respects, and given what is going on in the Middle East, this development is quite congruent with the neighborhood we are in…

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