In response to news that Howard University is disbanding its Classics Department, Cornell West reminds us that Frederick Douglas and the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. were inspired and nurtured by the classics. West argues that the attack on the classics is an attack on the soul and symptom the moral and spiritual rot of American culture.
In March, 2017, I published an essay “Why Arendt Matters” about the newly inaugurated President Trump. I wrote that, “Common sense insists that we not abandon reality and imagine that the United States is experiencing totalitarianism.” I argued that while the President was leading a mass movement, and that while mass movements are at the core of totalitarian domination, it is also the case that not all mass movements are totalitarian.
It has become common sense that President Trump lies. Once again there are countless articles and Twitter feeds and video compilations showing that the President has lied, stated falsehoods, and denied having said what he said. And yet through it all, the President’s popularity rating is soaring.
The German Museum of History prepared a wonderful new exhibition on Hannah Arendt that was supposed to have its opening this week.
In the recent podcast on Arendt, Freedom, and Protest on the Political Theory Podcast, host Toby Buckle asks Roger Berkowitz why Hannah Arendt is so loved today. One answer comes from Jeremy Clarke who writes about his love affair with Hannah Arendt’s thinking, which he first encountered on a BBC radio show In Our Time.
In the last Amor Mundi Newsletter we linked to an essay by Giorgio Agamben where he embraced a rightly discredited theory that the Corona Virus was not worse than the flu, and that governments were hyping the dangers of the virus in order to justify repression and discipline. Agamben has since recognized his mistake and has now published a follow up called “Clarifications.”
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.
Eitan Hersh argues that college-educated voters only think they are engaged in politics, while what “they are doing is no closer to engaging in politics than watching SportsCenter is to playing football.” When college-educated voters donate online, follow the polls, and become fans of a candidate, they are less doing politics than participating in a spectator sport as spectators. And these hobbyists, Hersh writes, are hurting American politics.