Hannah Arendt is a thinker who insists that we make distinctions. One of Arendt’s most controversial distinctions is that between racism and what she alternatively will call “race thinking” in The Origins of Totalitarianism, and then "prejudice" in many of her later essays. In the wake of the shooting in Buffalo last week, John McWhorter made his own distinctions while trying to understand the place of racism in U.S. society. McWhorter argues that we use the word racism today to mean too many things. He states that we need to distinguish between different aspects of what we call racism in order to think more clearly about the problems and prevent such tragedies as the shooting in Buffalo.
There is a certain overconfidence in the circles I frequent that the world is against Russia and for Ukraine and Nato. But more than half the world is tacitly or explicitly supporting Russia in its war with Ukraine. The Economist looks at the Russian propaganda campaign aimed at non-western countries in Africa and Asia.
Wendy Brown is interviewed by David Marchese about the politics of speech codes, wokeness, and academic freedom on college campuses.
As the world comes to the realization that old-fashioned ground warfare may be in our present and our future, the New York Times’ Azmat Khan has written a deeply researched account of the U.S. air war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
There is no dictatorship in the United States threatening university administrators and faculty with prison for violating national security laws. And yet Sergiu Klainerman argues that too many administrators are acting as if there were. According to Klainerman, even those administrators who profess to support freedom of expression and academic freedom are so cowed by DEI administrators that they refuse to publicly stand up for the academic freedom of their professors.
Peter Baehr has spoken multiple times at Hannah Arendt Center conferences and until recently was a professor at Lingnan University in Hong Kong. In a new essay about the abandonment of academic freedom and intellectual integrity in Hong Kong, Baehr describes how “administrative ecstasy” has led university managers to quickly abandon liberal values, discipline professors who are not loyal to the Chinese government’s line, remove offensive books and artwork, and expel students who question University censorship.
Frances Haugen, the woman who blew the whistle on Facebook, has put her influence behind the European Union’s attempt to regulate social media. The European Digital Services Act passed this month seeks to “make social media far better without impinging on free speech.” The Act is an important model because it does not regulate content or take aim at offensive speech. Instead, it requires that social media companies reveal how their algorithms privilege some material over others. This new transparency will show how it is that lies and hate proliferate. And it will empower governments, corporate boards, and other public actors to hold media companies accountable for their actions. Haugen, who will be a keynote speaker at the Hannah Arendt Center Conference “Rage and Reason: Democracy Under the Tyranny of Social Media."
Timothy Syder inquires into the birth of a new word naming an old idea:
"The new word “рашизм” is a useful conceptualization of Putin’s worldview. Far more than Western analysts, Ukrainians have noticed the Russian tilt toward fascism in the last decade."
Victor Orbán won a resounding reelection in Hungary this month. Marine Le Pen is once again rallying the illiberal democrats of France. Recep Erdogan has solidified his rule in Turkey. And Donald Trump continues to control the Republican Party in the United States. All look to Vladimir Putin as an example of the new fascism, the nationalist and authoritarian rule of ethnically coherent nation states.
The politician, for Arendt, is someone who speaks and acts in such a way as to reaffirm or reconstitute the political community around a common and healthy sense of what is right and wrong. The challenge of appealing to the sensuscommunis today is that all the political incentives are to split the community, to appeal to a part of the whole, a faction, or a polarized movement. Jonathan Haidt argues that the rampant polarization of our political world has been exacerbated by social media.