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Dialectics of Enlightenment | by Kwame Anthony Appiah | The New York Review of Books
via Pierre-Yves Saintoyant

Review of
Irrationality: A History of the Dark Side of Reason
by Justin E.H. Smith
NYReviewOfBooks  reviews  books  TheEnlightenment  history 
may 2019 by pierredv
‘Silence Is Health’: How Totalitarianism Arrives | by Uki Goñi | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books
For those who cherish democracy, it is necessary to comprehend the secret delight with which many greeted its passing. A quick fix to the insurgency seemed infinitely preferable to plodding investigations, piecemeal arrests, and case-by-case lawful trials. Whipped up by the irrational fear of a communist takeover, this impatience won the day. And once Argentina had accepted the necessity for a single, absolute solution, the killing could begin.
totalitarianism  history  fascism  normalisation  Argentina  NYReviewofBooks  2018 
november 2018 by inspiral
It Can Happen Here | by Cass R. Sunstein | The New York Review of Books
In their different ways, Mayer, Haffner, and Jarausch show how habituation, confusion, distraction, self-interest, fear, rationalization, and a sense of personal powerlessness make terrible things possible. They call attention to the importance of individual actions of conscience both small and large, by people who never make it into the history books. Nearly two centuries ago, James Madison warned: “Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks—no form of government can render us secure.” Haffner offered something like a corollary, which is that the ultimate safeguard against aspiring authoritarians, and wolves of all kinds, lies in individual conscience: in “decisions taken individually and almost unconsciously by the population at large.”
Nazi  history  totalitarianism  consumer  personalaccount  comparison  politics  DonaldTrump  Germany  USA  NYReviewofBooks  2018 
august 2018 by inspiral
How the BBC Lost the Plot on Brexit | by Nick Cohen | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books
In the preface to Animal Farm, George Orwell provided a line that today would be apt for the walls of the BBC headquarters: “Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban.” No doubt, if the shift of public opinion against Brexit continues, the BBC’s silence will end and, like a weather vane, it will swing with the prevailing wind. It will receive no plaudits from me. No one should praise journalists who speak out when, and only when, they are certain that public opinion is with them. Not just journalists, but anyone engaged in political life should learn from the BBC’s abject performance. Whether you are on the left or the right, there will be times when you will be frightened of saying what you believe for fear of offending your friends, breaking a taboo or going against the ephemeral consensus of the day. Allow that fear to dominate you and you will end up like the BBC: platitudinous, frightened, and irrelevant.
BBC  journalism  Brexit  critique  NYReviewofBooks  2018 
july 2018 by inspiral
New York Review of Books reviews White Working Class
“Williams’s principal point—that the privileged are too condescending toward the working class—is surely correct. Her book will help some professionals think twice about their attitudes and assumptions toward those who have less money or especially less education.”
whiteworkingclass  nyreviewofbooks  2018back  hbspnews 
may 2018 by hbrinthenews
Brexit’s Irish Question | by Fintan O’Toole | The New York Review of Books
"These very questions had tormented Ireland for centuries and were at the heart of the vicious, low-level, but apparently interminable conflict that reignited in Northern Ireland in 1968 and wound down thirty years later. If that conflict was to be resolved, there was no choice but to be radical. Things that nation-states do not like—ambiguity, contingency, multiplicity—would have to be lived with and perhaps even embraced. Irish people, for the most part, have come to terms with this necessity. The English, as the Brexit referendum suggested, have not. This is why the Irish border has such profound implications for Brexit—it is a physical token of a mental frontier that divides not just territories but ideas of what a national identity means in the twenty-first century."

"In retrospect, there is some irony in the fact that the Conservative Party in Britain, now the driving force behind Brexit, was crucial to the conceptual revolution that led to the Belfast Agreement (colloquially called the Good Friday Agreement) of 1998. Traditionally, the Conservative and Unionist Party (to give it its full title) held to the line succinctly summed up by Margaret Thatcher in 1981: “Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom—as much as my constituency is.” But by 1990, the Conservatives were articulating a position in which Northern Ireland was very different from Thatcher’s English constituency of Finchley. It was (and is) inconceivable that any British government would state that Finchley was free to go its own way and join, for example, France. In 1990, however, the then secretary of state for Northern Ireland, Peter Brooke, announced, in a carefully crafted phrase, that “the British government has no selfish strategic or economic interest in Northern Ireland.”

This phrase, since embedded in international law through the Belfast Agreement, is remarkable in itself: sovereign governments are not in the business of declaring themselves neutral and disinterested on the question of whether a part of their own state should ultimately cease to be so. Even more remarkable, however, is that this fundamental shift in British thinking was mirrored in a similar shift in the Irish position. Since Ireland became independent in 1922, its governments had always looked on Northern Ireland as a part of its national territory unjustly and temporarily amputated by the partition of the island. Now, Ireland too withdrew its territorial claim—in 1998 its people voted overwhelmingly to drop it from their constitution and replace it with a stated desire “in harmony and friendship, to unite all the people who share the territory of the island of Ireland, in all the diversity of their identities and traditions.” Those plurals resonate."

"In its most startling paragraph the Belfast Agreement recognizes “the birthright of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both, as they may so choose.” It accepts, in other words, that national identity (and the citizenship that flows from it) is a matter of choice. Even more profoundly, it accepts that this choice is not binary. If you’re born in Northern Ireland, you have an unqualified right to hold an Irish passport, a British passport, or each of the two. Those lovely little words “or both” stand as a rebuke to all absolutist ideas of nationalism. Identities are fluid, contingent, and multiple."

"When these ideas were framed and overwhelmingly endorsed in referendums on both sides of the Irish border, there was an assumption that there would always be a third identity that was neither Irish nor British but that could be equally shared: membership of the European Union. In the preamble to the agreement, the British and Irish governments evoked “the close co-operation between their countries as friendly neighbours and as partners in the European Union.” The two countries joined the EU together in 1973 and their experience of working within it as equals was crucial in overcoming centuries of animosity."

"There are five distinct parts of the UK: Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the global metropolis that is Greater London, and what the veteran campaigner for democratic reform Anthony Barnett, in his excellent new book The Lure of Greatness, calls England-without-London.*"

"Crudely, passionate nationalism has taken two forms. There is an imperial nationalism and an anti-imperial nationalism; one sets out to dominate the world, the other to throw off such dominance. The incoherence of the new English nationalism is that it wants to be both. On the one hand, Brexit is fueled by fantasies of “Empire 2.0,” a reconstructed global trading empire in which the old colonies will be reconnected to the mother country. On the other, it is an insurgency and therefore needs an oppressor to revolt against. Since England doesn’t actually have an oppressor, it was necessary to invent one. Decades of demonization by Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers and by the enormously influential Daily Mail made the European Union a natural fit for the job."
Brexit  Ireland  nyreviewofbooks  globalization  Northern-Ireland  national-identity  nationalism 
october 2017 by jschneider
Britain: The End of a Fantasy | by Fintan O’Toole | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books
To understand the sensational outcome of the British election, one must ask a basic question. What happens when phony populism collides with the real thing?
Brexit  EuropeanUnion  TheresaMay  politics  review  critique  UK  NYReviewofBooks  2017 
june 2017 by inspiral
How He Used Facebook to Win | by Sue Halpern | The New York Review of Books
There is no doubt that Trump’s digital operation—overseen by Parscale with the involvement of Giles-Parscale, Cambridge Analytica, the Republican National Committee, and scores of contractors—drew heavily on Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection playbook. Recalling that campaign, Kreiss describes how the Democrats repurposed a marketing strategy called “uplift” or “brand lift” and used it to pursue voters they identified as receptive to Obama’s message. They did so by gathering millions of data points on the electorate from public sources, commercial information brokers, and their own surveys, then polling voters with great frequency and looking for patterns in the responses.

All this was used to create predictive models of who was likely to vote for Obama, who was not, and who was open to persuasion. It also indicated who would be disinclined to vote for Obama if contacted by the campaign. These models sorted individuals into categories—let’s say, mothers concerned about gun violence or millennials with significant college debt—and these categories were used to tailor communications to members of each group. Kreiss observes that such sorting was necessary because
DonaldTrump  CambridgeAnalytics  elections  politics  USA  NYReviewofBooks  2017 
may 2017 by inspiral
The Confidence Man of American Art | by Jed Perl | The New York Review of Books
The trouble with Robert Rauschenberg is that adventure and innovation invariably confound order and tradition. Didn’t it ever occur to him that the search for perfection, however quixotic, is among the greatest adventures? Although this overstuffed show offers only a partial view of Rauschenberg’s megalomaniacal output—among the many embarrassments wisely overlooked is a series of bicycles edged with neon from the early 1990s—there are enough twists and turns to leave museumgoers in confusion. From what I could see when I visited Tate Modern on a weekday afternoon, visitors were intrigued, beguiled, baffled, bewildered, and sometimes just plain bored.
RobertRauschenberg  art  review  TateModern  exhibition  profile  NYReviewofBooks  2017 
april 2017 by inspiral
The Death of British Business | by Simon Head | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books
It must now embark on a series of marathon negotiations with its EU ex-partners, certain only in the knowledge that the trading regime that will emerge from them may be far less favorable to business located in Britain than the one that exists now. It is hard to imagine a set of circumstances more likely to convince foreign businesses in Britain that they should act on their warnings to leave the country or reduce their presence there, and instead take up residence within the secure  confines of the Single European Market. The British economy and the British people will suffer the consequences.
Brexit  economy  impact  review  financialservices  manufacturing  critique  author:SimonHead  NYReviewofBooks  2016 
october 2016 by inspiral
Panama: The Hidden Trillions by Alan Rusbridger | The New York Review of Books
The extraordinary material in the documents drew the curtain back on a world of secretive tax planning, just as WikiLeaks had revealed the backroom chatter of diplomats and Edward Snowden had shown how intelligence agencies could routinely scoop up vast server farms of data on entire populations. The Panama Papers—a name chosen for its echoes of Daniel Ellsberg’s 1971 leak of the Pentagon Papers—unveiled how a great many rich individuals used one Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca (“Mossfon” for short), to shield their money from prying eyes, whether it was tax authorities, law enforcement agencies, or vengeful former spouses.

Tax havens are supposed to be secret. Mossfon itself, for instance, only knew the true identity of the beneficial owner—a person who enjoys the benefits of ownership even though title to the company is in another name—of 204 Seychelles companies out of 14,000 it operated at any one time. The Panama leak blew open that omertà in a quite spectacular fashion. The anonymous source somehow had access to the Mossfon financial records and leaked virtually every one over the firm’s forty years of existence—handing to reporters some 11.5 million documents. By comparison the Pentagon Papers—the top-secret Vietnam War dossier leaked to The New York Times by Ellsberg—was around seven thousand pages. Harding estimates that it would take one person twenty-seven years to read through the entire Panama Papers.
PanamaPapers  MossackFonseca  taxation  moneylaundering  offshore  critique  review  UK  Africa  NYReviewofBooks  2016 
october 2016 by inspiral
In the Depths of the Digital Age by Edward Mendelson | The New York Review of Books
Every technological revolution coincides with changes in what it means to be a human being, in the kinds of psychological borders that divide the inner life from the world outside. Those changes in sensibility and consciousness never correspond exactly with changes in technology, and many aspects of today’s digital world were already taking shape before the age of the personal computer and the smartphone. But the digital revolution suddenly increased the rate and scale of change in almost everyone’s lives.
internet  consumer  impact  psychology  smartphones  critique  JudyWajcman  BernardEHarcourt  VirginiaHeffernan  WendyHuiKyongChun  RichardCoyne  PhilipNHoward  communication  filterbubble  sexuality  NYReviewofBooks  2016 
june 2016 by inspiral

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