The incredible popularity of Hannah Arendt in recent years is likely traceable to her reflections on themes such as totalitarianism, loneliness, and lying in politics. Her work is thought to be relevant to our modern political and cultural situation. And it is. But Arendt’s importance today goes beyond her substantive insights into our political condition.
A new study from the Survey Center on American Life confirms what studies have been showing for decades, that Americans increasingly have fewer friends. The number of American men who say they have “no close friends” has increased from 3% in 1990 to 15% in 2021. To live without friends is terrifying; it is to risk being adrift, without support and love.
Sarah Schulman’s book Conflict Is Not Abuse is one of the better arguments, from a progressive perspective, against de-platforming and in favor of having difficult conversations. Schulman makes an essential argument, that we too often confuse the feeling of conflict or being uncomfortable with the experience of abuse or serious medical trauma.
I was in Ljubljana in early June to speak at a conference, “What Kind of Government?” You can watch recordings of the talks including my own talk “Revitalising Democracy: Citizen Juries as a Response to the Failure of Expert Rule.”
When I was in law school in the 1990s, Critical Race Theory was emerging from the legal academy. In my own personal history, it began with Patricia Williams’ book The Alchemy of Race and Rights: A Diary of a Law Professor. Later in law school I encountered Critical Race Theory through the works of Derrick Bell and Kimberlé Crenshaw. Critical Race Theory was radical and exciting.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has published a three-part reflection on her experiences of being insulted and attacked on social media by a former student and mentee, someone she had sought to help. For those who have experienced such attacks—and more and more of us have—it is shocking and disorienting to have people we consider friends or trusted colleagues join or even lead online attacks.