Tracy Burr Strong died on May 11th. Tracy was one of the greatest contemporary political theorists with an extraordinary range. His first book, Friedrich Nietzsche and the Politics of Transfiguration (1975) is still read widely as both a contribution to Nietzsche studies and to political thinking more broadly. His latest book, Learning One’s Native Tongue, argues that the essence of American citizenship is not simply a matter of who can vote or whom has rights.
Jill Lepore writes about the literature of epidemics, looking back at great works about plagues by Daniel Defoe, Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Jack London, Stephen King, Albert Camus, and Jose Saramago. What all plague literature shares is, first, the knowledge that the plague threatens the human world, that is “cuts away the higher realms, the loftiest capacities of humanity, and leaves only the animal.”
Before the Corona pandemic we were already facing a loneliness epidemic. And now, with mandatory self-isolation, many are worried about what kind of impact this enforced aloneness will have for individuals. Hannah Arendt draws an important distinction between solitude and loneliness.
Kate Bracht turns to Hannah Arendt to find a silver lining to our need to be by ourselves during the Corona Virus pandemic. We are all increasingly spending more time by ourselves. One answer is to reach out for companionship through on-line dinner parties and courses.
I would like to share an ancient wisdom story still told by the indigenous peoples of North America as it has been for over a thousand years. It so happened that on a particular day, a day like most other days, the hunters returned to the village without a single deer for food. Not only were they unable to kill a deer, in fact they had not seen a single deer during the entire day.
The European Journal of Psychoanalysis has published a symposium “Coronavirus and Philosophers.” It begins with an excerpt from Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish about the quarantine of a town during the plague in the 17th century.
We live in irregular times and the President and members of the Executive branch of government are pushing the bounds of Constitutional norms. But there are lines that should not be crossed if we are to preserve the virtues and benefits of limited government. One of those norms is quite simply the rule of law and authority of the Federal judiciary.
Matt McManus writes about a dimension of Hannah Arendt’s work that he believes is given short shrift: Arendt’s critique of bigness and of “political leaders who embody the traits of “impotent bigness,” as she framed it.” Bigness in politics for Arendt is a danger to freedom. It goes together with the rise of bureaucracy and centralized government.