Timothy Snyder argues that the abyss of American democracy is fed by a crisis in truth that has left us in a pre-fascist moment. But Snyder recognizes that President Trump never could bring himself to embrace fascism. He alienated the military, on which a fascist government would need to depend. He emboldened militias, but never organized them into a unit. His social media attacks were constant but scattered.
Jennifer Senior writes that the reason Congress is out of touch is not that it has too many millionaires, but that it is filled with people with too many academic credentials. This is a fact central to the argument for sortition—the selection of representatives by lot rather than by election. The Arendt Center held a webinar asking the question of whether it would be good to bring randomly selected citizens into the legislative process in October.
Pope Francis published his annual Christmas Speech and, in his opening paragraph on the miracle of human freedom, invokes Hannah Arendt’s conviction that all men and women are beginners. Born free, we have the faculty and power to act and speak in ways that are unexpected and surprising. And such spontaneous doings can alter the course of history.
I recently wrote about a study by Shaylyn Romney Garrett and Robert D. Putnam who argue that—contrary to popular expectations—the years in which black Americans performed best on metrics of economic and social prosperity were before the Civil Rights Movement; Garrett and Putnam show that since the 1970s, black achievement has stagnated. How does this fact require that we reassess both the Civil Rights Movement and the new Movement for Black Lives?
In a wide-ranging essay on Hannah Arendt’s approach to judgment and thinking, Blake Smith considers Arendt’s argument that “the dangers facing our political and moral life must be met with a particular kind of mental activity she called “judgment,” and distinguished from two others: “cognition” and “thinking.” As opposed to cognition that seeks truths and solutions, thinking aims for meaning.
In a common narrative, racial progress in the United States was slow or non-existent until the Civil Rights Movement, at which time there was a sustained improvement in racial equality. Shaylyn Romney Garrett and Robert D. Putnam argue that this view is not born out by facts. On the contrary, the years in which black Americans performed best on metrics of economic and social prosperity were before the Civil Rights Movement; since the 1970s, black achievement has stagnated.
Olúfémi O. Táiwò reflects on his unease at being asked to speak for underprivileged black people in elite and professional settings. As a Black American of Nigerian descent, Táiwò is an elite; to have him and others like him “represent” and “speak for” poor or excluded people of color contributes, he argues, is more to the maintenance of elitism than to real revolutionary change.