Hannah Arendt has become the thinker of the present moment, cited in hundreds of essays and think pieces seeking to explain our current predicament. There are some good reasons for her newfound relevance. Arendt’s fearless thinking insisted on confronting reality. She understood the uniqueness of totalitarianism, but also its origins in imperialism, bureaucracy, racism, loneliness, and the decline of the nation state.
Lily Kuo writes about the impact of the new National Security Legislation that is being imposed by China on Hong Kong. The law defines national security crimes broadly, allows suspects to be sent to China for trial, permits Chinese state agents to work in Hong Kong, expands police powers, and allows secret trials without juries.
In the new issue of Salmagundi,Thomas Chatterton Williams, Margo Jefferson, Darryl Pinckney, John McWhorter, and Orlando Patterson debate “The Black Intellectual & The Condition of the Culture.”
Yascha Mounk discusses three recent instances in which individuals have been fired or punished for expressing opinions (or being thought to have expressed opinions) that were said to have been inconsistent with perceived pieties. Mounk looks deeply into these cases and shows that while the effort to use this political moment has good intentions and is rightfully seeking to root out racial injustice, overreactions that punish people...
In an Interview with Kevin Roose, Steve Huffman explains his decision as CEO and co-founder of Reddit to ban a series of groups on the platform including “The Donald,” a group populated by many supporters of President Trump that has become “a source of countless memes, slogans and conspiracy theories that made their way into the broader online conversation.
Democracy is the rule of the people. Demagoguery is the people being led by a speaker who sparks and appeals to the people’s passions. Charles Sykes writes about a public hearing in Palm Beach, Florida in which citizens scream and yell at public health experts who argue that wearing masks should be required to help control the pandemic.
Liberation is the throwing off of the yoke of tyranny, and liberty its outcome. Freedom is rather the ongoing ability to speak your mind and act openly within the cultural and political life of your community or society. The latter ought to follow the former, and it must be defended in all places, at all times, and in all circumstances. For it is never enough merely to throw off the yoke...
Ned O’Gorman argues that what makes Hannah Arendt so meaningful in our divided, highly partisan, and post-truth age is her embrace of politics that avoids claims to truth. While some may recoil from the intensity of politics and seek to restrain political excess, Arendt insists that the only way to protect ourselves from democratic tyranny is by expanding rather than constricting democratic powers.
The linguist John McWhorter discusses debates amongst editors of the Merriam-Webster dictionary about the definition of racism. The classical dictionary definition is that racism is “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”