In the final chapters of Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt worries that the very strength of the Israeli Court in its trial of Adolf Eichmann—its fairness and its fidelity to law—prevented the court from understanding that Eichmann’s unprecedented acts required a political rather than a legal response. Eichmann himself argued that if he were guilty, it was of “aiding and abetting” in the commission of horrific crimes, that he himself had not...
Reading Arendt has caused me to consider the generative quality of my own work. All too often I find myself swinging from the narratives of hope to the voice of alarm and despair. From week to week my voice will vacillate between historically informed caution and a pragmatic optimism, which feels to be bordering on faith. Only loosely depending on the news of the day I am either warning people against the reactionary spirit that rises out of labeling our current...
As a new semester approaches, Troy Vettese chronicles Sexism in the Academy. Littered with statistics about the ways in which academic structures, like teaching evaluations, halt the upward mobility of female academics, Vettese paints a bleak picture: There are two tenured men for every tenured woman. The proportion of black women among tenured faculty has fallen since 1993.
Are we living in a new gilded age? Two pieces this week address the tyranny of wealth and celebrity “culture.” In the American Affairs Journal, John Pierpont Morgan, compares two moments of economic crisis, thinking about whether or not inequality is good for capitalism. The wealth-gap, he writes, is self-reinforcing.
By Richard A. Barrett
Politicians, despite their divergent views and their distaste for each other, share at least this common ground: they believe in the vigorous pursuit and defense of freedom. In campaign speeches and party platforms freedom is one of the most frequently used terms. Freedom is set forth as a goal, as something that goes hand and hand with democracy.
Earlier this month at the National Conservative Conference multiple speakers sought to promote a “new American and British nationalism.” There was an effort to describe a nationalism grounded in strong national borders, and the superiority of “Anglo-Protestant culture.” Also held up as the roots of American nationalism were constitutionalism, the common law, the English language, and Christian scripture.
Roberto Mangabeira Unger writes that lectures and stern words will do little to save the Brazilian Rain Forest. There are 30 million people living in the Amazon, Unger reminds us, and we “need to ensure that the forest is worth more standing than cut down. To that end, we must give the inhabitants of the Amazon the means to both use and preserve their environment.” Above all, what is needed is ways to make the people living in the Amazon aware of its worth to them.
Jason Richwine takes on the argument that free speech only applies to the government regulation of speech. Of course, legally it is true that only the Constitution only protects speech from governmental restraint. But Richwine rightly argues that there the culture of engagement requires a broader protection of free speech.
Nikole Hannah-Jones is well aware that she is “part of the first generation of black Americans in the history of the United States to be born into a society in which black people had full rights of citizenship.” She writes that while “Black people suffered under slavery for 250 years; we have been legally “free” for just 50.” And she believes that “in that briefest of spans, despite continuing to face rampant discrimination...
This week, we republish a QotW essay from one of our current students here at Bard College.
In our current political climate, media has exacerbated and publicized social tensions. Mostly these are tensions that have always existed but have not always been issues of large-scale public contention. The proliferation of mass media has led to increased political divisiveness...