EducationEssays

The German Geist Dwells Nowhere

The turmoil surrounding Heidegger’s Black Notebooks achieved new heights recently, with Freiburg University’s announcement that its legendary Heidegger Lehrstuhl would be abolished and converted to a junior professorship in logic (!) and analytic philosophy, as if to deliberately obliterate Heidegger’s legacy. Apparently, the Lehrstuhl has become too controversial. This decision may well be scandalous, as Markus Gabriel argued on March 3rd in Süddeutsche Zeitung, but the reasons he marshals in defense of a Heidegger Lehrstuhl in his essay — “Where Does German Spirit Dwell?” — seem to us to create needless confusion. A collegial response is in order.

 

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CapitalismEssays

Put out the FIRE (in GDP)!

No one can escape discussions about the state of “the economy.” They inform political campaigns in the U.S., debt and austerity battles in the Eurozone, and development efforts in the poorest countries in the world. Our ideas about “the economy” — how it works, what it involves, and how it is measured — provide the departure point for our debates over inequality, unemployment, wages and a host of other hot topics. And no metric for describing and assessing national economic health is used more frequently today than Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

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EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionThe Left

Hope and its Discontents in Greece

The impressive victory of Syriza in the January 25th Greek elections was the direct result of increasing popular discontent with the Greek political elites and years of self-defeating austerity. The party, which symbolized a break with the past, ran on a platform based on hope, in contrast to the campaign of fear waged by the center-right government of New Democracy. “Hope is under way” was the main slogan, reverberating the famous Chilean “La alegria ya viene” from the referendum on Pinochet in the mid-1980s. Syriza played well on that terrain, promising to the people radical change, including the drastic restructuring of the debt through a 1953-style international conference, and the rejection of the memorandum of agreement with the “troika” of bailout monitors.

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EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionTheory & Practice

Hannah and Me: Understanding Politics in Dark Times

Contrary to the suggestion of my informal title, I did not study with Hannah Arendt, nor were we ever colleagues, although I missed both experiences only by a bit. I was a graduate student in the early 1970s in one of the universities where she last taught, the University of Chicago, and my first and only long term position, at the New School for Social Research, was her primary American academic home.

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EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

Arendt, Eichmann, and Thoughtlessness

According to Arendt’s emphatic and paradoxical thesis, [Eichmann] was an enemy of humanity from “thoughtlessness.” “It was a sheer thoughtlessness — something by no means identical with stupidity — that predisposed him to become one of the greatest criminals of that period” (285; G: 57).* This (and only this) is what the phrase regarding the “banality of evil” was meant to capture. 

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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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Arts & DesignEssays

An Interview with Amos Oz on Literature, Judaism and Zionism

A conversation with the Israeli author Amos Oz, conducted on November 12th in the guesthouse of the Hamburg Senate, upon receiving the first Siegfried-Lenz Prize.

NF: Bruchim Habaim leHamburg! — Welcome to Hamburg!

AO: Thank you very much. Being the first recipient of the Siegfried Lenz literary award is a great honor but also a very deep sadness, because we have lost Siegfried Lenz just a few weeks ago, and I was so much hoping that he will be the one who will hand me the award. …

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Arts & DesignEssaysMedia/Publics

Rap as News or Art?

“Rap music is the CNN of the ghetto.” – Chuck D

Rap began — Chuck D nailed it — as news from the streets. Rap riffed ghetto life, syncopated in hard rhymes and dense metaphor the raw reality of the ghetto. In Ronald Reagan’s America, blacks in the ghettos from Harlem to Bed Stuy to South Central formed what George Bataille called the heterogeneous element of society — or the unassimable byproduct of a culture, born of that culture, upon which the culture rests. In plain English, rap was the art of the dispossessed, and as the art of the dispossessed, it tells us the truth of the trickle-down economic era from the mouths of those who were held far beneath the place where the trickle dried up. …

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EssaysMedia/Publics

Amusing Ourselves to Life

I am in mourning and in withdrawal. I am losing my two nightly sanity fixes, Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart. I’m left with my morning fixes: running, swimming and cycling. Sleeping will become more of a problem. I published this piece a number of years ago in Deliberately Considered. I might want to expand on it, exploring the importance of televised political satire and the American social condition. 

Neil Postman was a famous media critic. He thought that the problem with television was not its content but its formal qualities as a medium. It presented a clear and present danger. …

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CapitalismEssays

An Interview with Lance Taylor on Inequality

In a new paper for the Institute For New Economic Thinking’s Working Group on the Political Economy of Distribution, economist Lance Taylor and his colleagues examine income inequality using new tools and models that give us a more nuanced — and frightening — picture than we’ve had before. Their simulation models show how so-called “reasonable” modifications like modest tax increases on the wealthy and boosting low wages are not going to be enough to stem the disproportionate tide of income rushing toward the rich. Taylor’s research challenges the approaches of American policy makers, the assumptions of traditional economists, and some of the conclusions drawn by Thomas Piketty and Larry Summers. Bottom line: We’re not yet talking about the kinds of major changes needed to keep us from becoming a Downton Abbey society.

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