“Human plurality, the basic condition of both action and speech, has the twofold character of equality and distinction.” Arendt sets plurality as the foundation of her understanding of man as a political being. According to plurality, we are all equal, which means we can understand each other and those ancestors who came before us and those will come after us. And yet, as distinct, we need to seek to make ourselves understood.
Jonathan Chait tells the story of David Shor, a social democrat and a data analyst who worked for President Obama. But Shor, who worked for the data analysis firm Civis Analytics, was fired for tweeting a “short summary of a paper by Princeton professor Omar Wasow. The research compiled by Wasow analyzed public opinion in the 1960s, and found violent and nonviolent protest tactics had contradictory effects.
On September 16, 1964, Hannah Arendt sat for an interview on German TV with Günther Gaus. Arendt and Gaus are both chain smoking through the interview in which they talk about the Holocaust, philosophy, feminism, Jewishness, exile, and of course her book on Adolf Eichmann.
Whether George Floyd died from asphyxiation or some combination of “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression,” as the official Hennepin County autopsy has it, anyone can see that former police officer Derek Chauvin sat firmly on Mr. Floyd’s neck, left hand casually in his pocket as if bored, for over 8 minutes while three other officers calmly looked on.
These are dark times. The hardest thing to do in dark times, writes Hannah Arendt, is to love the world. She invokes the Latin phrase Amor Mundi, For the Love of the World, to express the unspeakably difficult effort to reconcile with the world as it is while also insisting that the world must change.
Anne Applebaum tells the stories of Wolfgang Leonhard and Markus Wolf. Both were sons of prominent German Communist families who were educated in the Soviet Union and were roommates in the same military camp. They had similar ideological educations and both came to understand that the communist system behind the Iron Curtain was failing to deliver on its utopian promise. But then their paths diverged.
Many have been waiting and wondering when, and if, leaders would emerge from the conservative strongholds like the military and the Republican Party to call out the childishness, narcissism, and boorishness that makes Donald Trump such a singularly disastrous President. It seems that the President’s decision to use the U.S. military to clear away protesters so he could have a photo op at St. John’s Episcopal Church...
Thirty-one years ago today the Chinese People’s Liberation Army forcibly cleared democracy protesters from Tiananmen Square. Marking that anniversary has been banned in China (something I found out the hard way when I foolishly wore an Amnesty International t-shirt onto Tiananmen Square on June 4th, 1991 and nearly got arrested).
Masha Gessen’s newest book argues that Donald Trump is paving the way for the end of American democracy and the rise of autocracy. Whether Gessen is right, their argument about how President Trump attacks language attacks a shared world of meaning necessary for democracy is right. Gessen founds their argument on insights from Hannah Arendt...
I’ve written about the controversy over the prosecution of Michael Flynn. On the one hand, the effort by the Trump administration to drop charges against Flynn smacks of an authoritarian interference with the independent judiciary and the rule of law. On the other hand, there are questions about the original prosecution itself as an overreach by security agencies.