January 12, 2011

Liberal passivity leads to conservative violence The piece below is an excerpt. Two of the reasons I like it are that it counters Jon Stewart's tepid, inacurate, misleading response on Monday night (the current political situation is not one balanced between left and right but one dominated by an extreme right that gets away with murder and that considers most disagreement with it to be treason) and that it moves away from the specificity of that event to focus on the larger economic and political context. From WSWS: After the shooting in Tuscon The Democratic Party and the liberal left, in a perpetual state of political demoralization, console themselves with the thought that America would be a far happier place if only a more civilized and polite form of discourse could be encouraged. The task before reasonable people, they argue, in accordance with the gospel of Jon Stewart, is to persuade everyone, on the "left" as well as the right, to "tone down" the rhetoric, to argue less and listen more, and to find a common ground. This sickly spirit of universal conciliation has found a distinctly reactionary expression in the aftermath of the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Giffords. Richard Kim of the Nation proposes, as an antidote to the violence of the right, that the American people "cherish more dearly the practice of politics and citizenship as something noble in its intent, something to expand and celebrate--instead of something to denigrate as the enemy of the people." These words are a devastating self-exposure of the...
It's Not Just Inflammatory Rhetoric | OurFuture.org On New Year's day, The New York Times ran a column by Nicholas Kristof, "Equality, a True Soul Food," which illustrates how rising economic inequality is increasing the economic kindling in our lives, families, and communities. There's growing evidence that the toll of our stunning inequality is not just economic but also is a melancholy of the soul. The upshot appears to be high rates of violent crime, high narcotics use, high teenage birthrates and even high rates of heart disease. That's the argument of an important book by two distinguished British epidemiologists, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. They argue that gross inequality tears at the human psyche, creating anxiety, distrust and an array of mental and physical ailments — and they cite mountains of data to support their argument. "If you fail to avoid high inequality, you will need more prisons and more police," they assert. "You will have to deal with higher rates of mental illness, drug abuse and every other kind of problem." They explore these issues in their book, "The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger." The heart of their argument is that humans are social animals and that in highly unequal societies those at the bottom suffer from a range of pathologies. That "melancholy of the soul" was a reality for millions of Americans even before the current economic crisis began. For most of the previous decade, the kindling piled up around us, as economic inequality worsened. A decade's progress in reversing poverty...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

The Typepad Team

Recent Comments