CapitalismEssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionThe Left

On the Other Side of the Berlin Wall

East Germany and the fall

It was a colleague, Jonathan Bach, who discovered that Trebor Scholz and I, both currently associate professors at the New School, happened to be serving in the German military 25 years ago — but on opposite sides of the wall! As such, he brought us together for the Enter Ghost Symposium, giving us an opportunity to reflect on our experiences in …

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EssaysPower and CrisisTheory & Practice

Winter is Coming for Refugees in Germany

On the humanity vs. the organization of refuge

It’s getting cold in Germany. It’s actually hard to believe that it has only been weeks since warm images of the “good” German went around the world, of thousands of people welcoming even more thousands of refugees with food, toys, and clothes at train stations throughout the country. It was only a few months ago that Angela Merkel transformed from the dictator of …

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EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

Romania’s Threatened Freedom of Speech

A report on an authoritarian backlash

On October 7, the Romanian Senate passed a law whereby anyone accused of “social defamation” can be subject to penalty. The financial sanction for individual charges varies between 1.000 RON and 30.000 RON (225 Euros-6.750 Euros), whereas fines for group defamation can go up to 22.500 Euros. The person who initiated such a mind-blowing act, Liviu Dragnea, is arguably one of the most questionable …

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CapitalismEssaysMedia/PublicsPsyche

Pizza Rat, a Totem of Our Time

Humans, animals, and life in 2015

For a brief moment in late September, New York City had a new celebrity: Pizza Rat. This furry character — either endearingly repulsive, or repulsively endearing, depending on your sensibility — appeared in most of our social media feeds after a quick-fingered commuter snapped the rodent dragging a large pizza slice down the stairs of a typical, filthy subway station. …

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EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionMedia/PublicsThe Left

Letters From St. Petersburg, Part I

Social justice in the Maidan movement in Ukraine

Many researchers analyze the Maidan movement as a part of recent waves of protests shaking the world time and again. However, despite the similarities behind all these movements such as populist identities, anti-state agendas, and more, there is one crucial difference between the movements in the post-socialist world and protest movements in other countries – this difference concerns the social climate. …

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EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionTheory & Practice

You Say You Don’t Want a Revolution

Conservatism, radicalism, and democracy in 2015

The New York Times’ David Brooks has long been the conservative that liberals hate to love (or at least like). It is easy to see why. Brooks accepts the possibility of reasonable disagreement with the likes of liberals such as Mark Shields or E.J. Dionne, is rarely shrill, and seems to acknowledge the idea that argument and civil discourse are important aspects of a pundit’s professional life on any point of the spectrum. He is, if nothing else, “genteel” …

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Arts & DesignCapitalismEducationEssaysTheory & Practice

The Triumph of Design (Thinking)

What's wrong with useful creativity

September’s edition of that venerable and elite journal of contemporary capitalism, the Harvard Business Review, is devoted to the evolution of something called “design thinking” and its role in current business practices. We are all likely familiar with the way in which design has come to play a central role in the viability of almost all consumer products, but …

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Essays

The El Niño Intifada

Jerusalem's boulevards of broken dreams

I’m spending the year in California, which explains how earlier this week I found myself on a marine sightseeing trip, on a rough sea watching for seabirds. As my first such trip it was a wonderful experience, filled with many exciting species of shearwaters, storm-petrels, alcids, jaegers, and even one black-footed albatross. To the more veteran participants, the experience was mixed. The El Niño we’re now experiencing messes with sea …

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CapitalismDisabilityEssaysRaceRace/ismsSex & Gender

The Disability Paradox

Further thoughts on inequality, disability, and the imaginal

Do you have a disability? Do you want to work? This seemingly innocent pairing of questions should immediately raise a red flag, for it is technically oxymoronic: in the United States, the disabled, by definition, are those who cannot work, at least in any significant sense. Granted, disability falls on a continuum, and answering to this continuum is a parallel benefits scheme for some workers — specifically, those whose disabilities have resulted from …

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