"We the People," National Constitution Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania  ©  Stefan Ogrisek | Flickr
EssaysFascism: Old and NewFeatureLiberal Democracy in QuestionMedia & PublicsPower and CrisisTheory & Practice

Claims to Populism, Danger to Democracy?

No US election campaign in living memory has seen as many invocations of “populism” as this one. Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are labelled as “populists;” the term is regularly used as a synonym for “anti-establishment,” irrespective of any particular political ideas; it is also associated with particular moods and emotions: populists are “angry,” their voters are “frustrated,” or suffer from “resentment.” Similar claims are made about figures in Europe: Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders are most commonly …

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George Washington Carver Museum, Tuskegee Institute Campus, Macon County, AL  © Vieilles Annonces | Flickr
EducationFeatureLiberal Democracy in QuestionO.O.P.S.Power and Crisis

Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment in an Early Modern Science Course?

Reflections on continuous contingent foundations for liberal education and liberal democracies

In my final post of the old year , I promised that my next post would defend my claim that “however much I believe the liberals’ heart is in the right place, I believe the critiques of liberal universalism both within the academy and without hit home in some real ways, not least in terms of the self-delusion we liberals have all-too-often suffered about our own tolerance of, and even appetite for, cruelty.” Such a promised defense is only the more necessary in light of David Kretz’s response, which among many other interesting things, raises the question about whether or not a liberal arts college today, …

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Ágnes Heller, October 27, 2014 © Fundació Catalunya-La Pedrera | Flickr
EducationEssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionPower and CrisisTheory & Practice

Agnes Heller and “Everyday Revolutions”

Portrait of a Philosopher

The forms of the southern clouds at the dawn of April 30th, 1882, are comparable to those mottled streaks on this one book he had only seen once (a Spanish edition). Following the Naturalis Historia, he recounts exactly four historically exemplary cases of prodigious memory: Cyrus …

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The Washington Square Park Arch and World Trade Center lit in the colors of the French flag © Ajay Suresh| Flickr
EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionPower and CrisisTheory & Practice

Moral Sentiment and Moral Judgment after the Paris Attacks

On the problem of selective solidarity

Ever since the dust began to clear after what President Hollande rightfully called “the horror” of Friday night, my media consumption — yes, especially my Facebook feed (constantly refreshed with reflections from Public Seminar) …

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World map, 1570 © Abraham Ortelius | Wikimedia Commons
EssaysPower and CrisisTheory & Practice

For the Last Time: “The West”

Revisiting the myth of the clash of civilizations

As information about the attacks in Paris, which left at least 128 people dead, gradually unfolds, I feel overwhelmed and disturbed. I am overwhelmed by the quantity of affective response to which I add my own grief, but I am also deeply disturbed by the way in which this affective reaction is channeled …

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A desolate German winter, devoid of humanity © Jens-Olaf Walter | Flickr
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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A Sudanese refugee encampment in Hanover, Germany © Bernd Schwabe | Wikimedia Commons
EssaysPower and CrisisTheory & Practice

The Problem with Humanitarian Borders

Toward a new framework of justice

The language of humanitarianism has played a central role in recent political and media debates about undocumented migrants crossing into Europe and North America. The unaccompanied minors crossing into the United States reached the designation of “humanitarian crisis” last summer, i.e. 2014, whereas the most recent tipping point in the Mediterranean came in April 2015, when at least five boats sank and close to 1,200 people drowned …

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The center of the Milky Way viewed from Oregon © Joe Parks | Flickr
EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionPower and CrisisTheory & Practice

The Ethics and Politics of Responsible Belief

On liberalism and faith

Prior to his death in June 2007, Richard Rorty turned his attention to religious belief and its place in the public sphere. Rorty had long been presenting himself as the “village atheist” in the domains both of academic philosophy and public intellectualism: he viewed religious belief as the most pervasive form of false metaphysical comfort, and as a political “conversation stopper” that is ineluctably at odds with the sort of foundationless liberal democracy he championed. But late in his career …

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