“The proponents of M.O.O.C.s (Massive Open Online Courses) look for the magic bullet, hoping to find a technological solution to the crisis in education. The O.O.P.S. (Open Online Public Seminar) project is to use the new technology, the potential of the web, to extend education’s promise.”
With these words, I closed my introduction to a New School for Social Research experiment, using the resources of Public Seminar to realize the intellectual mission of engaged social science in and beyond the classroom. Since then we have been pushing forward. …
Last week Johanna Oksala asked is capitalism good for women? And if it is not, are there reforms that can make capitalism good for women? Rather than rehearse her complex and fascinating answers to these questions, let me rather interrogate the assumptions that underlie them. One, of course, is that we know what capitalism is, but I won’t go into that just yet. Another is that we can consider women as a social and historical totality — a “gender” — that is oppressed as a whole, and that can seek remediation as a whole. Of course, there are differences among women — rich and poor, gay and straight, young and old and so forth. Nonetheless, women as a whole are oppressed and can seek remedies that apply to all women.
There is no question that the fact that Benjamin Netanyahu will form the next Israeli government is a disaster for Israel and the world. Israel is a state that was formed in 1948 by the United Nations in response to worldwide public opinion. It is a state whose legitimacy was questionable from the first because of the failure to found Palestinian state at the same time. While Israel has now had a long history of its own, the truth is that its only friendly neighbors are dictators and that it is increasingly a pariah state. Its racist internal policies as well as the occupation are essentially unique holdovers from an earlier, colonial epoch and will not survive. Given that context one has to ask what were the Israelis thinking when they cast a vote for Netanyahu?
I was not surprised to learn that Andrew Ross, professor of American studies at NYU, had been barred from entering the United Arab Emirates. I have known Andrew for quite a few years, and know him to be a persistent and consistent critic of injustice and exploitation. Much of his recent work has focused on labor and debt, for example in his most recent book, Creditorcracy. That he was prevented from spending his spring break doing further research on labor practices in Abu Dhabi one can take as an admission by the relevant authorities there that his researches had been, as usual, on point. The work of his I want to focus on here concerns the politics of the American city in the Anthropocene. Ross has always had good instincts for how to apply scholarly practices to contemporary issues.
The sociologist reading Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition is bound to squint at the page in puzzlement when Arendt gives her definition of society. So would, I think, most readers of the text. Arendt’s fondness for assigning new meanings to commonly used words is most perfectly demonstrated in that moment when she nonchalantly declares that “society” is a distinctly modern phenomenon: the intrusion of the private sphere into the public, resulting in a massive emptying of the value of human association.