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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EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

African Style Democracy?

Alarmingly a question being increasingly asked is whether democracy has failed in Africa, or similarly, whether democracy is unworkable or perhaps not suitable for Africa: this, given the fact that many African countries, which are supposedly democratic, are characterised by dreadful human rights abuses, ethnic conflicts, life presidents and economic chaos.

Many African leaders wrongly argue that democracy is “unAfrican,” “Western” or somehow anti-African “culture.” China’s economic rise without democracy appears to have emboldened those who argue that Africa should push for development first, and think about building democracy later. …

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EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

Argentina in Shock

A mysterious death in Buenos Aires raises questions about the true sources of power inside Argentina's state

A federal prosecutor in a democratic state accuses the elected president of a major cover-up. Alberto Nisman is scheduled to explain the cover-up in Argentina’s congress when, hours before testifying, he mysteriously dies in his apartment. What kind of democracy allows this to happen? In the context of such events, what will be the fate of this democracy? As a result of Alberto Nisman’s death, Argentina is facing a traumatic shock, one without precedent in the last two decades of its young democracy. …

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EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionMedia/Publics

We Say No to the “Sacred Union”

In the aftermath of the killings at Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher, critical voices have largely been drowned in the general sea of undifferentiated outrage. But this statement by French colleagues, which recently appeared in Le Monde, is a major intervention and a welcome exception.

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