Arts & DesignEssays

Why Comedy Matters

When moral or political decisions are at stake, we often make use of catch-phrases drawn from a repertoire of available drama and literature. For we understand that both our actions and how they are perceived depend on how we frame them. Comedy, of all genres, appears to be the one we covertly use all the time without, meanwhile, fully appreciating its ability to portray and explore the intensity and integrity of our interactions with others. When Caesar began the civil war in Rome, he proclaimed: “The die has been cast.” According to Suetonius, he said it in his native Latin ( alea iacta est). But Plutarch reports that he used Greek (anerrhiphtō kybos), thus quoting a now lost comedy by Menander, the originator of the so-called New Comedy. In a letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul also turns to Menander, quoting the comedy Thaïs: “Bad communications corrupt good characters.” …

READ MORE →
CapitalismEssaysPsyche

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The search for authenticity in consumer culture

Milan Kundera begins his novel Immortality with a description of a gesture made by a woman he is observing at a swimming pool. This woman, who we will come to know as Agnes in the story, smiles and waves at the lifeguard who has just been giving her swimming instructions. There is something charming and elegant for Kundera about this hand wave that reminds him of the gesture of a young woman “playfully tossing a bright colored ball to her lover.” This unique gesture reveals to Kundera the essence of Agnes’ charm, and he is dazzled and strangely moved by it. Later in the novel we discover that this gesture is not as unique as it initially seems. …

READ MORE →
EssaysPsycheTheory & Practice

Alan Baas | Philosophy Talk Series | @NSSR

A reading of On the Cult of Fetish Gods

Since Marx’ and Freud’s influential usage of the term, we became accustomed to talk about fetishism as a topic for psychology and social theory. It is rarely remembered that the topic was originally a topic in theology and ethnology. Why has fetishism assumed such a wide meaning? Why do theorists of fetishism, from Marx to Freud and passing by Comte, always begin with applying it to a specific topic but then ending up generalizing it? These are some of the questions that Alan Bass tackles in his talk delivered as part of the Philosophy Thursday Nights Series. This talk is part of Alan Bass’s ongoing project, which aims at examining the implications of Freud’s generalization of fetishism at the end of his life in relation to the history of discourse on the subject. …

READ MORE →
CapitalismEssaysThe Left

Climate Change and the New Synthesis

Is green the new red?

I completed my undergraduate studies at a small liberal arts college literally in the middle of a field somewhere between the bustling urban center of Cleveland and the depressed industrial ruins of my hometown, Youngstown. My alma mater was surrounded by acres of farmland, bodies of water, Amish communities, and the occasional rural-suburban housing development. Nothing much caught my eye during my commute except for the treacherous dips and twists along the sparsely populated main road I followed, which constantly threatened to re-route my aging Honda Civic into a tractor-dug ditch or a clutch of untouched trees.

Until one day, just crossing out of the corona of campus into the deep space of rural Ohio, I noticed a sign in a yard. “Green is the New Red,” it proclaimed, illustrated by a picture of a pleasantly green pine tree juxtaposed with an ominously red hammer and sickle. …

READ MORE →
EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

The Overlooked Besieged Alternative in the Middle East

The Rojava Cantons

In my previous article I wrote about how both soft and hard Islamists render a very dark future for the Middle East. I finished my article by stating that the Kurdish Movement may provide a salient alternative for the whole region. However, this alternative is currently under attack by Islamists and its supporters.

As I write this article, ISIS thugs surround the northern Syrian city Kobanê — also known as Ayn Al Arab. While both the Kurdish guerilla group PKK, Syrian arm PYD and some factions from the Free Syrian Army are desperately fighting to keep ISIS out of town, the situation is getting worse by the day. Turkey is reluctant to open its borders for humanitarian and military assistance, and so help ISIS to take over the town. …

READ MORE →
EssaysImaginal PoliticsLiberal Democracy in Question

Fascism on Trial: Greece and Beyond

Last week, Greeks woke up with a shocking phone video that was posted on the newspaper Kathimerini’s website and then went immediately viral on the Internet. A toddler dressed in a traditional Greek uniform, bearing a Nazi armlet on his right arm, and holding a Nazi flag, was being taught by an adult how to perform the Nazi salute and say Heil Hitler. …

READ MORE →
EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionRace

Cop Violence and the Order of Urban Terrorism

Immediately after Ferguson, MO cop Darren Wilson murdered unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9, 2014, the city’s police mounted a show of militarized power that represented the rising tide of police-state terrorism in growing numbers of urban communities throughout the United States of America. Treating the community as a war zone, the cops occupied the streets, ostensibly to protect the city from the violence of black protestors. Rather, the militarized cop presence in the city of Ferguson only served to exacerbate community anger, outrage, and resentment. Young Brown’s parents, Leslie McSpadden and Michael Brown, Sr., were left to grieve for their son, who was left dead in the street for four hours. Since the murder of Michael Brown, killer cop Darren Wilson has not been seen in public, nor has he been charged with a crime; rather, he has been allowed to walk free and has gone into hiding. …

READ MORE →
EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionReligion

Islamists and the Perpetuity of Catastrophe

Islamist governments in the Middle East have provided the perfect breeding ground for religious extremism. In the mean time, intoxicated by the prospect of a holy war, European Muslim youth are pouring into Syria in order to participate in the spectacle of terror. This new breed of fanaticism is mobile, highly networked and capable of orchestrating a global media campaign to intimidate large segments of populations.

Now in panic, many of the peaceful Muslim associations are trying to prove that Islam has nothing to do with this form of extreme-extremism. But it is a bit too late, and a bit too soft. …

READ MORE →
EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

What Changes and What Remains the Same in Brazil

The electoral setting vs. the political-institutional setting in the 2014 presidential election

Until recently, candidate Eduardo Campos was playing a supporting third-place role in the Brazilian presidential race. His tragic death in a plane crash has revolutionized the Brazilian electoral setting, where the first round of presidential elections is scheduled for October 5, 2014. Despite this change, and the consequent rise of Marina Silva, the political-institutional setting remains unchanged in the country, regardless of what will be the outcome of elections.

Brazil, the largest democracy in Latin America, has been undergoing one of the most hotly contested presidential elections of its recent history. This intensity is due to an unusual event: the death of the third place candidate Eduardo Campos (PSB, Brazilian Socialist Party) in a tragic plane crash on August 13. …

READ MORE →
Essays

Call for International Solidarity against War in Rojava

An emergency call to all women struggling for peace! Take action against the massacre in Rojava.

Women’s Initiative for Peace urges ALL women’s organizations struggling for peace worldwide to launch actions and organize demonstrations on Sunday, September 28th (and if this date is too early, any time before or on October 1st) wherever you are located. 

The images of Kurdish female fighters of YPJ have been widely circulated in various media covering the war against Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS) in Rojava. Celebrated for the bravery, the Kurdish female guerrilla force has been the forefront in the struggle against patriarchy and against the Islamic State’s targeting, slaughtering and enslaving of women. The women in Rojava, who are not only fighters, but also peacekeepers, leaders, or simply women, are much more than figures that terrify the IS gangs, who believe that they won’t be rewarded with heaven if killed by a woman in battle. They stand for a hope for a different form of governance in the region. Yet, Rojava now is facing a massacre. IS gangs has besieged Kobanê on three separate fronts. …

READ MORE →