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.
Sara Cederberg looks at the now perennial “crisis of the humanities” and writes that one reason for the crisis is “the fact that there is no longer a case to be made for the cultivation of the soul.” If the humanities emerged as a project of national storytelling so that humanists were engaged in the “preservation and cultivation of the nation’s soul,” the turn to science as the dominant cultural force has left the humanities adrift.
It is well known that we are suffering a crisis in truth alongside hyper-partisanship and a massive loss of trust in public institutions. As part of that hyper partisan atmosphere, however, it is usually the case that everyone thinks it is only the “other” side that spreads lies and misinformation.
Hong Kong democracy was always a project rather than a reality. But the movement for democracy in Hong Kong had been gaining steam for a decade. With the unanimous vote by the Chinese National People’s Congress this week, the hope for democracy in Hong Kong has gone up in smoke. The increasingly totalitarian Chinese Communist Party is solidifying rule at home and mobilizing its people for a long-term confrontation with the West, especially with the United States.
I have joined The Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA) as a founding member. The AFA “is a non-profit organization whose members are dedicated to protecting the rights of faculty members at colleges and universities to speak, instruct, and publish without fear of sanction or punishment. We uphold the principles that are required if scholars are to fulfill their vocation as truth-seekers..."
There is a widespread misconception that we are seeing a threat to democracy. More rightly, we are witnessing a democratic revolt against liberal-constitutional-limited government. The question, then, is how liberal-constitutional republics should react to threats from populist democratic movements. The general view at least in the United States is that constitutional democracies allow its critics—even its existential critics—the benefit of freedom of speech.
Hannah Arendt was skeptical of social science theories. Theorists, or problem solvers as she often referred to them, are people of “great self-confidence.” They are confident in the education and intelligence and they “pride themselves on ‘rational.’” Dedicated to rationality, they “were indeed to a rather frightening degree above ‘sentimentality’ and in love with ‘theory...'"
In what seems a fairly usual occurrence, two journalists and two professors were fired or prosecuted this week for running afoul of mainstream opinions or, in Poland, legally prohibited opinions. John McWhorter argues that firing a New York Times reporter for using the N-word to refer to the N-word and not as a slur obfuscates the difference between a slur and a taboo. Ben Cohen reports on the prosecution of Professors Barbara Engelking and Jan Grabowski in Poland.