robertogreco + progressivism   60

6 Kinds of Public - Dilettante Army
Long ago, I adopted the moniker “dilettante ventures” as a frame for my cultural activity. At the time it was envisioned as a collective comprised of three other art and curatorial collectives. Much like this journal seeks to do, I spent a fair amount of time trying to rehabilitate the word “dilettante.” Lately though, I’ve given up on worrying about that sort of framing, because now I have to rehabilitate another word—“republican.” In November 2018, I was elected to the Vermont State Legislature. As a candidate, I appeared on the ballot as the nominee of two political parties—the Democrats and the Progressives. But to be accurate about my political philosophy, I am a decentralist communitarian republican. Identifying as small-r republican, even though it isn’t the same as being a capital-r Republican, can be problematic for me. On my winding trajectory from an artist-that-doesn’t-make-art to a librarian/legislator, I’ve investigated how republican themes of interdependence, virtue, and civic responsibility might be usefully employed in the (neo)liberal political quagmire we find ourselves. Here are the key concepts I use to understand the links between art and community-making in a new era of progressive politics:

Public Art, new genre



Public Culture



Public Good, scale of



Public Library



Public Philosophy



Public Realm



Public Work



Public work brings me back to the inadequacy of social practice (art). I have proposed “social poiesis” as an alternative. “Poiesis” is a word, mostly used in literary theory, that describes creative production, in particular the creation of a work of art. “Social poiesis,” then, encompasses not only the production of art and art environments, but also the creative production of society through things like urban planning, sports leagues, communes, be-ins, residencies, raves, state fairs, theme parks, cults, encounter groups, Chautauquas, and even legislating. Governance, properly undertaken, is public work, positing “citizens as co-creators of the world.” This world of artistic citizenship demands a variety of public actions and inquiry, some of which I’ve touched on here. Above all it demands a reevaluation of the promise and potential of a revived republican spirit."
randallszott  public  publics  republican  2019  suzannelacy  roberthariman  montesquieu  thomasaugst  williamsullivan  libraries  publiclibraries  hannaharendt  harryboyte  publicwork  publicrealm  philosophy  socialpracticeart  art  publigood  publicculture  culture  republicanism  community  decentralization  interdependence  virtue  civics  governance  neoliberalism  liberalism  progressive  progressivism  vermont 
april 2019 by robertogreco
San Francisco; or, How to Destroy a City | Public Books
"As New York City and Greater Washington, DC, prepared for the arrival of Amazon’s new secondary headquarters, Torontonians opened a section of their waterfront to Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs, which plans to prototype a new neighborhood “from the internet up.” Fervent resistance arose in all three locations, particularly as citizens and even some elected officials discovered that many of the terms of these public-private partnerships were hashed out in closed-door deals, secreted by nondisclosure agreements. Critics raised questions about the generous tax incentives and other subsidies granted to these multibillion-dollar corporations, their plans for data privacy and digital governance, what kind of jobs they’d create and housing they’d provide, and how their arrival could impact local infrastructures, economies, and cultures. While such questioning led Amazon to cancel their plans for Long Island City in mid-February, other initiatives press forward. What does it mean when Silicon Valley—a geographic region that’s become shorthand for an integrated ideology and management style usually equated with libertarian techno-utopianism—serves as landlord, utility provider, urban developer, (unelected) city official, and employer, all rolled into one?1

We can look to Alphabet’s and Amazon’s home cities for clues. Both the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle have been dramatically remade by their local tech powerhouses: Amazon and Microsoft in Seattle; and Google, Facebook, and Apple (along with countless other firms) around the Bay. As Jennifer Light, Louise Mozingo, Margaret O’Mara, and Fred Turner have demonstrated, technology companies have been reprogramming urban and suburban landscapes for decades.2 And “company towns” have long sprung up around mills, mines, and factories.3 But over the past few years, as development has boomed and income inequality has dramatically increased in the Bay Area, we’ve witnessed the arrival of several new books reflecting on the region’s transformation.

These titles, while focusing on the Bay, offer lessons to New York, DC, Toronto, and the countless other cities around the globe hoping to spur growth and economic development by hosting and ingesting tech—by fostering the growth of technology companies, boosting STEM education, and integrating new sensors and screens into their streetscapes and city halls. For years, other municipalities, fashioning themselves as “the Silicon Valley of [elsewhere],” have sought to reverse-engineer the Bay’s blueprint for success. As we’ll see, that blueprint, drafted to optimize the habits and habitats of a privileged few, commonly elides the material needs of marginalized populations and fragile ecosystems. It prioritizes efficiency and growth over the maintenance of community and the messiness of public life. Yet perhaps we can still redraw those plans, modeling cities that aren’t only made by powerbrokers, and that thrive when they prioritize the stewardship of civic resources over the relentless pursuit of innovation and growth."



"We must also recognize the ferment and diversity inherent in Bay Area urban historiography, even in the chronicles of its large-scale development projects. Isenberg reminds us that even within the institutions and companies responsible for redevelopment, which are often vilified for exacerbating urban ills, we find pockets of heterogeneity and progressivism. Isenberg seeks to supplement the dominant East Coast narratives, which tend to frame urban renewal as a battle between development and preservation.

In surveying a variety of Bay Area projects, from Ghirardelli Square to The Sea Ranch to the Transamerica Pyramid, Isenberg shifts our attention from star architects and planners to less prominent, but no less important, contributors in allied design fields: architectural illustration, model-making, publicity, journalism, property management, retail planning, the arts, and activism. “People who are elsewhere peripheral and invisible in the history of urban design are,” in her book, “networked through the center”; they play critical roles in shaping not only the urban landscape, but also the discourses and processes through which that landscape takes shape.

For instance, debates over public art in Ghirardelli Square—particularly Ruth Asawa’s mermaid sculpture, which featured breastfeeding lesbian mermaids—“provoked debates about gender, sexuality, and the role of urban open space in San Francisco.” Property manager Caree Rose, who worked alongside her husband, Stuart, coordinated with designers to master-plan the Square, acknowledging that retail, restaurants, and parking are also vital ingredients of successful public space. Publicist Marion Conrad and graphic designer Bobbie Stauffacher were key members of many San Francisco design teams, including that for The Sea Ranch community, in Sonoma County. Illustrators and model-makers, many of them women, created objects that mediated design concepts for clients and typically sat at the center of public debates.

These creative collaborators “had the capacity to swing urban design decisions, structure competition for land, and generally set in motion the fate of neighborhoods.” We see the rhetorical power of diverse visualization strategies reflected across these four books, too: Solnit’s offers dozens of photographs, by Susan Schwartzenberg—of renovations, construction sites, protests, dot-com workplaces, SRO hotels, artists’ studios—while Walker’s dense text is supplemented with charts, graphs, and clinical maps. McClelland’s book, with its relatively large typeface and extra-wide leading, makes space for his interviewees’ words to resonate, while Isenberg generously illustrates her pages with archival photos, plans, and design renderings, many reproduced in evocative technicolor.

By decentering the star designer and master planner, Isenberg reframes urban (re)development as a collaborative enterprise involving participants with diverse identities, skills, and values. And in elevating the work of “allied” practitioners, Isenberg also aims to shift the focus from design to land: public awareness of land ownership and commitment to responsible public land stewardship. She introduces us to several mid-century alternative publications—weekly newspapers, Black periodicals, activists’ manuals, and books that never made it to the best-seller list … or never even made it to press—that advocated for a focus on land ownership and politics. Yet the discursive power of Jacobs and Caro, which framed the debate in terms of urban development vs. preservation, pushed these other texts off the shelf—and, along with them, the “moral questions of land stewardship” they highlighted.

These alternative tales and supporting casts serve as reminders that the modern city need not succumb to Haussmannization or Moses-ification or, now, Googlization. Mid-century urban development wasn’t necessarily the monolithic, patriarchal, hegemonic force we imagined it to be—a realization that should steel us to expect more and better of our contemporary city-building projects. Today, New York, Washington, DC, and Toronto—and other cities around the world—are being reshaped not only by architects, planners, and municipal administrators, but also by technologists, programmers, data scientists, “user experience” experts and logistics engineers. These are urbanism’s new “allied” professions, and their work deals not only with land and buildings, but also, increasingly, with data and algorithms.

Some critics have argued that the real reason behind Amazon’s nationwide HQ2 search was to gather data from hundreds of cities—both quantitative and qualitative data that “could guide it in its expansion of the physical footprint, in the kinds of services it rolls out next, and in future negotiations and lobbying with states and municipalities.”5 This “trove of information” could ultimately be much more valuable than all those tax incentives and grants. If this is the future of urban development, our city officials and citizens must attend to the ownership and stewardship not only of their public land, but also of their public data. The mismanagement of either could—to paraphrase our four books’ titles—elongate the dark shadows cast by growing inequality, abet the siege of exploitation and displacement, “hollow out” our already homogenizing neighborhoods, and expedite the departure of an already “gone” city.

As Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti muses in his “Pictures of the Gone World 11,” which inspired Walker’s title: “The world is a beautiful place / to be born into / if you don’t mind some people dying / all the time / or maybe only starving / some of the time / which isn’t half so bad / if it isn’t you.” This is precisely the sort of solipsism and stratification that tech-libertarianism and capitalist development promotes—and that responsible planning, design, and public stewardship must prevent."
cities  shannonmattern  2019  sanfrancisco  siliconvalley  nyc  washingtondc  seattle  amazon  google  apple  facebook  technology  inequality  governance  libertarianism  urban  urbanism  microsoft  jenniferlight  louisemozingo  margareto'mara  fredturner  efficiency  growth  marginalization  publicgood  civics  innovation  rebeccasolnit  gentrification  privatization  homogenization  susanschwartzenberg  carymcclelland  economics  policy  politics  richardwalker  bayarea  lisonisenberg  janejacobs  robertmoses  diversity  society  inclusivity  inclusion  exclusion  counterculture  cybercultue  culture  progressive  progressivism  wealth  corporatism  labor  alexkaufman  imperialism  colonization  californianideology  california  neoliberalism  privacy  technosolutionism  urbanization  socialjustice  environment  history  historiography  redevelopment  urbanplanning  design  activism  landscape  ruthasawa  gender  sexuality  openspace  publicspace  searanch  toronto  larenceferlinghetti  susanschartzenberg  bobbiestauffacher  careerose  stuartrose  ghirardellisqure  marionconrad  illustration  a 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Jonestown’s Victims Have a Lesson to Teach Us, So I Listened – Mother Jones
"In uncovering the blackness of Peoples Temple, I began to better understand my community and the need to belong."



"Trying to unpack the meaning of Jonestown and its leader, Jim Jones, has become a genre in its own right. Peoples Temple was a church and socialist political movement that began in Indianapolis in the 1950s before migrating to California and opening congregations in Redwood Valley, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. In 1977, the church established what it called an “agricultural project” in a remote outpost in Guyana, where its leader and hundreds of his followers set about establishing a socialist utopian Promised Land. Instead, on November 18, 1978, 918 people died at the behest of Jones, who called the action “revolutionary suicide.” There are memoirs by survivors, like Deborah Layton’s Seductive Poison. There are documentaries, including Stanley Nelson’s Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple. There are more recent historical looks at Jones and how he built the church, like Jeff Guinn’s The Road to Jonestown.

The vast majority of these popular accounts center predominately on Jones, who was white, and the perspectives of white survivors. Each anniversary of the massacre, though, brings a more sober look at how race functioned within the church, like Sikivu Hutchinson’s 2015 novel White Nights, Black Paradise. More than 90 percent of Peoples Temple members were African American. Jones even modeled the cadences and substance of his preaching on those of a black spiritual leader named Father Divine, a sort of T.D. Jakes of the early 20th century. Of the roughly 1,000 Peoples Temple members who moved to Guyana before its tragic end there, 70 percent were black and almost half were black women. A number of those were black women over the age of 61; the burgeoning community relied in part on the $36,000 per month in Social Security benefits that these women brought in.

I can see why the church and its drive to build a colorblind utopia appealed specifically to black people in this San Francisco community. The Fillmore was once called “the Harlem of the West,” a black neighborhood dominated by jazz bars, mom-and-pop shops, and Victorian duplexes in varying degrees of upkeep and decay. Like most black communities, it was a place of government-sanctioned racial segregation, one of only two neighborhoods open to black people, where black doctors didn’t live that far from the poorest of the poor. By the 1970s, black families in San Francisco were struggling with drug addiction and neglect; the neighborhood was still reeling from a two-decade-long redevelopment program that demolished hundreds of homes and displaced tens of thousands of residents. It was mostly the poor who were left to live in a smattering of public housing complexes that took up most of the neighborhood.

What’s more, the church became the place where radical and progressive dignitaries, the people many of these neighbors looked up to, came to show their worth: Angela Davis visited and once gave a radio dispatch talking about the “conspiracy” against the church. Dennis Banks, who had been part of the more than year-long occupation of Alcatraz with the American Indian Movement, also reportedly showed up. Willie Brown, who would become San Francisco’s first black mayor but was then a California state assemblyman, was a strong supporter. Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett, the influential publisher of the city’s black newspaper, became the publisher of the church’s newsletter and was also the personal physician of the church’s reverend.

Even still, in America, Jonestown is largely seen as a white catastrophe; in Guyana, it’s viewed as a distinctly American one, a late-20th-century experiment in colonialism. In both tellings, and in the many books and films, black people are seen en masse, without individual stories of their own that might tell us something about how private entities learn to prey on black people when civic institutions fail them, and how joy can sometimes be found within that.

So I went looking for names."



"I came away from all of this with a deeper appreciation for just how average Peoples Temple members seemed. I went into it thinking that I’d find people who were misunderstood, maybe, but also brainwashed. Their inclination to be part of something was ultimately misguided, but nonetheless, it was human. But now, crucially, through Moore and McGehee, I also deeply understand how possible it is to build a life from tragedy, and how necessary it is to sift through what’s most painful, year after year after year, to better understand how it’s shaped you.

The irony isn’t lost on Moore. After rejecting the church when her sisters were alive, she’s spent the decades after their deaths more enmeshed in the Temple’s existence than really anyone. Her involvement goes beyond the study of the Temple and its meaning. Once, when I tried to arrange a time to talk with her, I hear from McGehee that she’ll be busy helping a former Temple member move in Indianapolis, even though the couple lives in a remote part of Washington state. “[My husband] and I occasionally ask ourselves, ‘What would we be doing if Jonestown had not happened in 1978?’,” she told me. “And the fact is we’ve been part of Peoples Temple much longer than my sisters ever were part of the movement.”

I became fascinated with Jonestown not because I was repelled by the idea of people mindlessly following along on some wild journey to build a utopian community, but because, on some level, I got how they did. I know how it feels to want to be a part of something that is separate but still part of the community in which you’re raised. I wasn’t born until nearly a decade after Jonestown, but the Fillmore I grew up in was one besieged by stories of loss. It was the Dot Com boom of the late 1990s, and all around me were stories of black families who were leaving the city because their rents were too high, their property taxes had skyrocketed, or the violence and neglect of the preceding decades left them aching for a fresh start elsewhere.

It’s extremely lonely and vulnerable to be born and raised and black in San Francisco these days. My mom is aging, and I’m a thirtysomething living 3,000 miles away and feeling increasingly anxious about the amounts of care I’ll have to provide to her on my own. For this, and so many other reasons, in this time of tribalism and instability, with inequality on the rise and people feeling moved to find a political savior, Jonestown is still worth revisiting. So too are the people still surviving it."
sanfrancisco  history  jimjones  jonestown  peoplestemple  2018  jamilahking  cults  race  progressive  progressivism  socialism 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Anarchism in Latin America
"Ángel Cappelletti (1927-1995) was an Argentine philosopher who spent much of his career teaching at Simón Bolívar University in Venezuela. He also translated numerous works from Greek and Latin, and wrote over two dozen books, primarily on philosophy and anarchism. One of his later books is the classic survey Anarchism in Latin America, now available in English.

“Progressives have long looked to Latin America for models of resistance and alternative political structures. However, we tend to see these models in a Marxist light. Anarchism in Latin America provides an important corrective, recounting the anarchist historical roots of some of the most important movements of our time.” —Todd May, author of A Fragile Life: Accepting Our Vulnerability

“For the first time, English-language audiences have access to Ángel Cappelletti’s Anarchism in Latin America, one of the historiographical cornerstones of Latin American anarchism. While the study of anarchism has exploded since Cappelletti originally published his work in 1990, his book remains an invaluable introduction to the hemispheric history of anarchism in Latin America. Gabriel Palmer-Fernández’s clear, skilled, and lucid translation includes an insightful introduction by modern scholar-activists that updates Cappelletti by expanding our understanding of how anarchists have dealt with feminist, environmental, and indigenous issues. This is a welcomed and timely book as anarchist ideas and movements once again surge throughout the Americas.” —Kirwin Shaffer, author of Black Flag Boricuas: Anarchism, Antiauthoritarianism, and the Left in Puerto Rico, 1897–1921"
latinamerica  books  ángelcappelletti  anarchism  politics  progressive  progressivism 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Offering a more progressive definition of freedom
"Pete Buttigieg is the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. He is a progressive Democrat, Rhodes scholar, served a tour of duty in Afghanistan during his time as mayor, and is openly gay. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone [https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/pete_buttigieg-36-year-old-mayor-south-bend-indiana-2020-713662/ ], Buttigieg talked about the need for progressives to recast concepts that conservatives have traditionally “owned” — like freedom, family, and patriotism — in more progressive terms.
You’ll hear me talk all the time about freedom. Because I think there is a failure on our side if we allow conservatives to monopolize the idea of freedom — especially now that they’ve produced an authoritarian president. But what actually gives people freedom in their lives? The most profound freedoms of my everyday existence have been safeguarded by progressive policies, mostly. The freedom to marry who I choose, for one, but also the freedom that comes with paved roads and stop lights. Freedom from some obscure regulation is so much more abstract. But that’s the freedom that conservatism has now come down to.

Or think about the idea of family, in the context of everyday life. It’s one thing to talk about family values as a theme, or a wedge — but what’s it actually like to have a family? Your family does better if you get a fair wage, if there’s good public education, if there’s good health care when you need it. These things intuitively make sense, but we’re out of practice talking about them.

I also think we need to talk about a different kind of patriotism: a fidelity to American greatness in its truest sense. You think about this as a local official, of course, but a truly great country is made of great communities. What makes a country great isn’t chauvinism. It’s the kinds of lives you enable people to lead. I think about wastewater management as freedom. If a resident of our city doesn’t have to give it a second thought, she’s freer.


Clean drinking water is freedom. Good public education is freedom. Universal healthcare is freedom. Fair wages are freedom. Policing by consent is freedom. Gun control is freedom. Fighting climate change is freedom. A non-punitive criminal justice system is freedom. Affirmative action is freedom. Decriminalizing poverty is freedom. Easy & secure voting is freedom. This is an idea of freedom I can get behind."
petebuttigieg  freedom  democracy  2018  jasonkottke  everyday  life  living  progressive  progress  progressivism  education  water  healthcare  universalhealthcare  health  climatechange  politics  policy  poverty  inequality  decriminalization  voting  affirmitiveaction  guncontrol  liberation  work  labor  salaries  wages  economics  socialism  policing  police  lawenforcement  consent  patriotism  wealth  family 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Thread by @ecomentario: "p.31 ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… p.49 ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… ecoed.wikispaces.co […]"
[on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ecomentario/status/1007269183317512192 ]

[many of the captures come from: "From A Pedagogy for Liberation to Liberation from Pedagogy" by Gustavo Esteva, Madhu S. Prakash, and Dana L. Stuchul, which is no longer available online as a standalone PDF (thus the UTexas broken link), but is inside the following document, also linked to in the thread.]

[“Rethinking Freire: Globalization and the Environmental Crisis" edited by C.A.Bowers and Frédérique Apffel-Marglin
https://ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A.+Bowers,+Frdrique+Apffel-Marglin,+Frederique+Apffel-Marglin,+Chet+A.+Bowers+Re-Thinking+Freire+Globalization+and+the+Environmental+Crisis+Sociocultural,+Political,+and+Historical+Studies+in+Educatio+2004.pdf ]
isabelrodíguez  paulofreire  ivanillich  wendellberry  subcomandantemarcos  gandhi  2018  gustavoesteva  madhuprakash  danastuchul  deschooling  colonialism  future  environment  sustainability  cabowers  frédériqueapffel-marglin  education  campesinos  bolivia  perú  pedagogyoftheoppressed  globalization  marinaarratia  power  authority  hierarchy  horizontality  socialjustice  justice  economics  society  community  cooperation  collaboration  politics  progress  growth  rural  urban  altruism  oppression  participation  marginality  marginalization  karlmarx  socialism  autonomy  local  slow  small  capitalism  consumerism  life  living  well-being  consumption  production  productivity  gustavoterán  indigeneity  work  labor  knowledge  experience  culture  joannamacy  spirituality  buddhism  entanglement  interdependence  interbeing  interexistence  philosophy  being  individualism  chiefseattle  lutherstandingbear  johngrim  ethics  morethanhuman  multispecies  humans  human  posthumnism  transhumanism  competition  marxism  liberation  simplicity  poverty  civilization  greed  p 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Thorstein Veblen - Wikipedia
"Thorstein Bunde Veblen (born Torsten Bunde Veblen; July 30, 1857 – August 3, 1929) was a Norwegian-American economist and sociologist. He was famous as a witty critic of capitalism.

Veblen is famous for the idea of "conspicuous consumption". Conspicuous consumption, along with "conspicuous leisure", is performed to demonstrate wealth or mark social status. Veblen explains the concept in his best-known book, The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899). Within the history of economic thought, Veblen is considered the leader of the institutional economics movement. Veblen's distinction between "institutions" and "technology" is still called the Veblenian dichotomy by contemporary economists.[3]

As a leading intellectual of the Progressive Era, Veblen attacked production for profit. His emphasis on conspicuous consumption greatly influenced the socialist thinkers who sought a non-Marxist critique of capitalism and technological determinism."

[via https://twitter.com/rowenick/status/926820735036862464
in reply to https://twitter.com/jbouie/status/926805038672072704 ]

[See also another Flinstones pic in the thread: https://twitter.com/jbouie/status/926803286166048768 ]
thorsteinveblen  capitalism  economics  consumerism  consumption  conspicuousconsumption  conspicuousleisure  leisure  society  socialstatus  status  class  leisureclass  institutions  technology  progressivism  technologicaldeterminism  production  marxism 
november 2017 by robertogreco
We’ve Hoped Our Way Into Our Current Crisis | On Being
"Those are some of my oldest memories, my literal “dark night of the soul.” The heightened turmoil we’re living through these days echoes my despair from that time. I think of it when so often we’re urged to embrace hope as an antidote. Hope for a brighter day. Hope for justice. Hope for peace. Hope that compassion will win out. But speaking for myself, I’m giving up hope.

Not that I don’t understand the impulse. It’s tempting to think that looking to the future will get me through hardship. But in my life’s struggles, hope hasn’t worked out that way. Too often hope has hardened into anticipation and expectation for specific outcomes. At times, I’ve believed that if only I could reach that next achievement — an age, a job, a relationship, a house, a car, an academic degree, a lifestyle — then I’d be content.

Similarly, our culture encourages us to believe that reaching the next societal goal will create the utopia (or a reasonable facsimile) that we crave. Getting this court decision, passing that law, having this candidate elected will mean we’ve finally arrived. We’ll become in reality the country we’ve always pretended to be.

But I think we’ve hoped our way into this current crisis. Rather than facing the hard truths about our historical and continuing inequality and doing the hard work of examining our institutions, our traditions, and ourselves, we’ve floated along hoping things would inevitably get better. We’ve lived too much in the rosy future and far too little in the messy present. And we’ve allowed the hope-turned-expectation of progress to blind us.

This oblivious hope explains why so many were blindsided by rising racist rhetoric, by the videos of police shootings, by last year’s election, and by the national dissension that has exploded since November. People marginalized by racism, misogyny, homophobia, ableism, and other forms of oppression have tried to get the nation’s attention for decades.

The response? “We’re America. Have hope.” Before our eyes, that view is being unmasked for the fantasy it is.

But if not hope, then what? Do we let ourselves wallow in bitterness and despair, throw up our hands and resign ourselves to injustice and oppression?

I have no one-size-fits-all prescription; that’s been part of our problem — and part of the problem with hope. It encourages us to think that if we do certain things, take certain steps, achieve certain milestones, we will get the outcomes we want. It assumes that we have the solutions and we can control the future.

That’s not how the universe works. Nothing we can do will give us complete control. If history has taught us anything, it should have taught us that. Hoping and despairing about what we can’t control only distracts us from what we can: our actions in the present. Right now.

When I recall the asthmatic child I once was, I remember that though I had hopes and dreams about the future, that’s not what kept me going. I read incessantly: books and newspapers, my mother’s Ladies Home Journal and Redbook, Catholic missionary magazines and comic books. I began writing stories and journals while in elementary school. I watched films, inhaling the structures of narrative, the music of language. I listened to how people talked: their accents and inflections, their changes of register and style, their ways of arguing, praying, cursing. I thought about why people did what they did, what motivated them. I spent time alone, walking in nature, reflecting on and wrestling with myself.

At the time I didn’t know I was making myself a writer. I just responded to what called me.

Parenting, too, has taught me about hope. Like so many parents, I’ve indulged hopes about how my children will be at a given point in their lives. But, children being children, things turn out differently. Eventually I learned that I feel calmer and parent better when I focus on what they need in the present. I spend less time mentally playing sepia-toned, soft focus futures of achievement, and concentrate on clothing them, feeding them, and giving them boundaries and the love they need right now. I realized that if I valued being a good parent, if I loved them, I had no other choice.

You see, whether I get what I want turns out to not actually be my business. This insight came as quite a surprise, living as we do in a culture of control (not to say domination), a culture that deifies power over people, nature, possessions, aging, time, even death. But I don’t control whether I get what I want because I don’t control the universe; I live within it.

So I don’t need hope (or control) to act. I don’t need hope to figure out what I should do and how I should live. I have values. I have beliefs. I can examine whether they’re grounded in reality. And I can use those values to ask myself with each choice, “Am I being — right now — the person I believe I should be? Am I acting in line with truth, with reality, with the way I think life should be lived?”

If I believe in justice, do I express that belief? Do I work against injustice? Do I choose to undermine oppression or further it? Not because I know I’ll “win” or “succeed,” but because I’ve committed myself to living the way I think I should live.

At my best, I answer what each moment and my values call me to do. Sometimes it’s to rest, to reflect. Sometimes it’s to play. Sometimes it’s to connect with friends and loved ones. Sometimes it’s to struggle, critique, speak out. Sometimes to listen. Sometimes to celebrate. Sometimes to grieve. Each moment makes its demand, and I’m seeking the kind of life where I hear and answer that need as often as I can.

Contrary to our control-obsessed culture, the alternative to hope isn’t passivity or despair. It’s living. It’s being humble and real. It’s being here."
miguelclarkmallet  hope  everyday  passivity  despair  2017  life  living  engagement  justice  integrity  control  domination  power  humanism  parenting  achievement  injustice  oppression  marginalization  us  utopia  society  progress  progressivism  present  presence 
september 2017 by robertogreco
Verso: Dehumanization by Deification: On Kamala Harris and "Black Women Will Save Us"
"My introduction to the politics of Kamala Harris came from the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) and other sex worker organizations and activists in the wake of the federal shutdown of Backpage’s adult section in January. Backpage was a website that a number of sex workers used to advertise and screen potential clients. The closure and federal persecution of Backpage, Rentboy.com, and other similar online spaces meant that escorts and other sex workers were denied the ability to conduct their work with the degree of safety that comes with the virtual separation of workers and their would-be clients. As a newly elected California senator, Harris praised the shutdown of the adult section; previously, as California Attorney General, Harris repeatedly sued Backpage alleging that the website was profiting in the sex trafficking (and slapping its CEO, Carl Ferrer, with a pimping charge).

Despite arguments by sex workers that the closure of online work spaces would be harmful to them, Harris, like many others, claimed to support sex workers while actively making their lives more difficult: her prosecutorial logic deliberately conflated voluntary sex work and sex trafficking in a way that was indistinguishable from the rhetorics of sex work abolitionists and sex work exclusionary feminists (SWERFs). Her carceral justifications for these criminalizations were complementary to the outright anti-poor, anti-Black, anti-queer and trans attacks from the present administration and their material implications for sex workers. Yet Harris has swiftly been elevated as a kind of progressive feminist hero injecting new life into the party purporting to stand in stark ideological opposition to the one currently dominating most of the American government.

Harris has also been heavily criticized for her support for civil asset forfeiture (via her 2015 sponsorship of legislation seeking to battle transnational organized crime and meth trafficking) and her office’s refusal to expand early parole programs because the state would lose part of its heavily subsidized inmate labor force (she later claimed to be “shocked” that her department’s lawyers made this argument). She also contested the appeal for gender reconstructive surgery made by an incarcerated trans woman, Michelle-Lael Norsworthy, as well as similar requests from other incarcerated trans people. Despite her bipartisan effort with Republican Senator Rand Paul to eliminate pre-trial bail, people familiar with her pre-Senate record on criminal justice are reasonably skeptical of her — particularly given her refusal to proactively investigate police shooting in San Francisco during her tenure as state attorney general — and the buzz from establishment Democrats and “progressives” that has made her a new party darling and a soft potential 2020 presidential candidate.

“Black women will save us!” has been a kind of refrain both following the presidential election (where 94% of Black women voters supported Clinton) and the emergence of Maxine Waters and Harris as congressional gadflies outspokenly challenging the Republican Party in various hearings on Capitol Hill. As with Hillary Clinton, a gendered liberal rhetoric has emerged to defend Harris, claiming that she is being criticized because “leftist bros” are resentful of and threatened by female political leadership. Liberal commentators continue to conflate the most vocal and visible contingent of Bernie Sanders supporters — “Bernie Bros” — with the entirety of the left, and use this conflation to insist on dismissing “the left” on the grounds of racism. There is no denying that whiteness is reproduced (and the labor behind that reproduction invisibilized) throughout much of the left, but even if these critiques were made in good faith, it does not make sense to erase of leftists of color if one intends to further progressive discourses.

Roqayah Chamseddine wrote incisively on this dynamic where slightly left of center [white] pundits deliberately elide non-white contributions to left movements and discourses in the name of a left-baiting centered around specific politicians (namely, Bernie Sanders). She responds to Jill Filipovic’s revisionist erasure of Black and Brown contributions to 20th century left organizing, writing that leftists of color are not acknowledged for anything outside of "the illustrations of us they use to peddle neoliberal policies, and centrist organizing tactics that are about as spineless and cartoonish as their very ideology.” These savioristic declarations that the left is exclusionary demonstrate that leftists of color are "only good enough to exist as garments — worn on occasion when they want to make it known that they are here to save us from this so-called white ideology.”

There are critiques of Kamala Harris and Hillary Clinton that simply reflect a contempt for women [of color], and those misogynies are of course unacceptable. But there is a duly irresponsible and unacceptable idea that an individual’s politics are beyond reproach because they possess a marginalized identity (or multiple ones). Just as it was warranted to criticize President Barack Obama’s defense of empire as president or LGBQT people’s homonationalist and pinkwashed participation in the police state or some white women’s embrace of white supremacy, it is both politically necessary and politically correct to make pointed critiques of a woman of color’s track record of advocating for and even embodying the carceral state. Ironically, many of these same white people — particularly liberal white women — pay lip service to “amplifying the voices of women of color," yet they, once again, erase our voices as soon as they realize that our opinions are not monolithic and we cannot be so easily objectified and dehumanized as the saviors of liberalism through empty rhetorics of representation and inclusion.

The refusal to acknowledge the violent politics of a woman of color because of her raced-gendered identity is comparably racist to a critique of woman of color that revolves solely around those identities: white supremacy, remember, knows no sectarian or ideological bounds. Dehumanization, whether through degradation or deification, reflects of bigoted regard for minoritized individuals or groups; it objectifies of the identities of women of color to suit one’s politics. It is both infantilizing and condescending to avoid holding women of color’s politics to the same standard of rigor as the white men we easily (and necessarily) critique. and rests on no meaningful understanding of hegemonic social structures. This superficial politics of representation (i.e. the idea that elevating minorities to positions of power is an unquestioned social good regardless of their politics) and a weird fetishization, rather than actual respect, for non-white womanhood.

There seems to be an irreconcilable dissonance in this white liberal logic: how can "Black women save ‘us’” if the complexity and heterogeneity of our discourses, identities, needs, and humanity are ignored to make room for our superficial insertion into and tokenization within anti-left “progressive” arguments and shallow pandering by the Democratic Party during election cycles? Beyond, once again, demonstrating the limitations of politician-centered politics, these identity-based politics of infallibility also softly seem to insinuate that women of color (and politicians of color in general) are impossibly fragile or less capable (or worthy) of receiving much-needed critique without being altogether abandoned or seen as disposable.

If we can criticize the ineffectuality of the Democratic Party, can we not also criticize the non-white figures they tap to push those same dissatisfying politics on the party’s behalf?

The role of a state attorney general is to act as the state’s premiere law enforcement officer, and in occupying this position, Harris was essentially enforcing the will of a racist and anti-poor state “justice” system (the most populous state and one of the most expansive carceral states, at that). To pretend that only white men could possibly articulate a radical critique of this political track record and trajectory is wildly disingenuous. We will surely see Kamala Harris’ name all over the news in the coming years, but more important than the political advancement of the new progressive superstar is the revelation of white liberalism’s complete inability to engage non-white women both within the public political arena and outside of it."
zoésamudzi  2017  politics  left  leftism  race  erasure  racism  kamalaharris  liberalism  policy  democrats  hillaryclinton  roqayahchamseddine  jillfilipovic  poc  progressives  progressivism 
august 2017 by robertogreco
A fresh approach no more: the return of politics in New Zealand | Overland literary journal
"All of a sudden in Aotearoa New Zealand there is an election campaign worth following, and not just for its immediate result, but to test the boundaries of left-wing politics: what is acceptable, what is thinkable, what brings votes and hence the power to make change.

Just two months ago, it was all heading in a very different direction. Having signed a pact of fiscal responsibility that cut any prospect of expansionary interventions at the knees, the sole remaining viable parties of the centre-left – Labour and the Greens – appeared interested above all in projecting a reassuring air of technocratic prowess, and in continuing to vie for the same narrowing patch of the mythical centre ground, as they had done with terrible results for three elections in a row. Completely gone was the talk of expanding the voter base, the so-called ‘missing million’ of the disaffected and alienated – roughly a quarter of eligible voters – who have gradually abandoned the political process since the New Right reforms of the mid-1980s.

As is so often the case when parties want to avoid talking about a country’s resource base or in any way threatening capital returns for the most parasitical sectors of the economy, immigration – the most external of all external factors – became the darling issue of both parties. Having begun to demonise foreign property buyers early in the cycle by poring over recent records in search of ‘Chinese-sounding names’, Labour was first out of that particular gate, but the Greens swiftly caught up, couching their policy in the language of ‘sustainability’ and setting an unprecedented limit of 1% long-term arrivals per year including returning citizens.

Both strategies were sprinkled with the odd progressive policy, or promise of progressive policies to come, as well as with generic pledges to reduce the country’s staggering rates of inequality (all implicitly undercut by the spending restrictions alluded to above). But every zig was followed by a zag, every promise of new public housing with the reassurance that ‘we don’t want house prices to fall’. Business would be allowed to continue undisturbed, and the radical neoliberal policies that have dominated government in the country for the last 30-plus years would merely be given a human face.

Then Corbyn happened. But I don’t think that’s what did it.

The problem with chasing swing voters from a comfortable social bloc in a country with a thriving economy is not that it’s a strategy doomed to failure – although it is. It’s that the approach mines the foundations of left-wing politics, with even worse consequences down the line. In the short term, it bleeds parties of their activist bases. Over a decade or more, it erases, in a large portion of the electorate, the very memory of any alternatives. We are now at that very juncture, and Labour’s first round of election advertising dramatically underscored the bankruptcy of the project."
2017  giovannitiso  newzealand  politics  elections  jeremycorbyn  left  progressive  progressivism  neoliberalism  liberalism  greens  labour 
august 2017 by robertogreco
California Über Alles | Ann Friedman
"It’s tempting to interpret the waning economic prospects and cultural relevance of rural America as an inevitable consequence of casual bigotry. If these people were just a bit more forward-looking—more accepting of immigrants and gay people, more interested in new technology—then maybe people like me would stay put. And maybe those states would still be attracting employers. Maybe there would be TV shows and movies set there. Maybe they’d even be drawing in transplants rather than hemorrhaging the best and brightest of each generation. Oppressive state laws can drive people away; in several states, for example, major businesses have scuttled investment plans in response to anti-LGBT legislation. The Associated Press found that North Carolina’s so-called bathroom bill, passed last year, will end up costing the state at least $3.76 billion over twelve years in canceled business.

Yet in the end, this vision of culture-wide economic payback for the politically backward interior is as much a fantasy as the notion that Trump can bring back manufacturing jobs. The real reason that jobs have disappeared from large swathes of the country has more to do with neoliberalism than with social issues. Broadly speaking, California is a winner in this system. Most other places in America are not.

The Golden State has long contained some of the richest zip codes in the country, but it’s increasingly becoming a state where only the wealthy can build a decent life for themselves. This is apparent in places like Los Angeles’ Boyle Heights, where my friend flies his rebel flag but rising housing prices are breaking up the Latino community that’s called the neighborhood home since the 1950s. Zoom out the lens, and you can see that it’s not just a local issue: since 2011, housing prices across the state have gone up 71 percent. That’s had real consequences. Between 2007 and 2014, more people left California than migrated here. Leading the exodus were people without college degrees—in other words, the same demographic that’s credited with delivering Trump a landslide victory in red states.

The hard truth about liberal secession fantasies is that California is not a place where progressive policies enable everyone to become successful. It’s a place to which people move to enjoy their success when they’ve beaten the odds elsewhere. As Kendrick Lamar reminded us, people come to California for “women, weed, and weather”—not decent wages, affordable education, and accessible health care.

Ruiz Evans’s case for secession rests on the claim that Californians’ “views on education, science, immigration, taxation and healthcare are different” from those prevailing in much of the rest of the country. This is certainly true when you look at polling on the issues. But when it comes to policies and outcomes, California’s unique values are less apparent. To take just the first example on Ruiz Evans’s list, California’s per-pupil spending on K-12 education has declined for years, falling well below the national average. In this realm, California is comparable to states like Florida and Texas—even though California also boasts some of the highest-performing high schools in the nation. This is not a sign of our more progressive views on education; it’s an indication that the state is deeply segregated along lines of race and class."



"The heartland isn’t monolithically conservative. My home state of Iowa split its Senate seats for decades, electing both a liberal member and a conservative one, and many of the midwestern states that delivered Trump the Electoral College have a similar history of mixed representation. Now that Trump is going to fail to deliver on his promises to improve the economic prospects of the people who voted for him in these states, the time is ripe for liberals to put forth an economic agenda that rests not on racial fearmongering but on guaranteed access to health care, fair wages, education, and affordable housing.

And as it turns out, these needs are every bit as acute in California as they are in Iowa. To move toward a true majoritarian liberal strategy means we must challenge more than a few ingrained narratives about American politics. It means rejecting the fallacy that California is a liberal utopia, a place where we coastal transplants can enjoy the moral high ground over our high school classmates who remained in our hometowns to raise their families. It also means dispensing with the opposite fallacy: that those who stayed behind have some sort of shopworn dignity that the rest of us lack.

And this is because, ultimately, division helps Trump advance his agenda. It keeps Republicans firmly in control of state legislatures and the House. So we must resist the urge to smugly turn our backs on the glum spectacle of the self-inflicted economic immolation of Trump country. We must keep it together. If you had a choice about where to build your life, you now have an obligation—not to move back to your beleaguered homeland, but to stay engaged with it. And if you hope to maintain any genuine sort of moral high ground in your adopted state, you have an obligation there, too: to work to make its policies align with your beliefs.

This is not, as Rich suggests, as simple as adopting Trump’s shoot-from-the-hip rhetorical style. Nor is it a question of luring venture capitalists to rural Ohio—where, in all likelihood, they would bring the same mounting inequality and diminished returns that have made Silicon Valley a fortress of paper wealth. It’s a matter of supporting candidates who share our values and have a track record of actually getting them enacted in policy. That’s a hard thing to prove when Democrats are not in power. But as I write these words, opinion polls show that Bernie Sanders is the most popular political leader in the country. Surely that suggests an opportunity to build on the best parts of his 2016 platform and to get behind other Democrats who are known for supporting such policies. There are several, like Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren, who enjoy a cross-demographic appeal. The time is also ripe to capitalize on the fiasco of Trumpcare and place single-payer health reform back on the table. Similar opportunities will surely present themselves on other issues, from education reform to infrastructure investment, as the president fails to deliver on promises to his base. The trick will be to continue to frame these issues as nationwide problems that we all have a stake in solving.

Those of us who have the economic freedom to migrate to pursue better jobs and a broad range of economic opportunities are the ones who bear the greatest burden for bridging the country’s internal geopolitical divides. Believe me, I understand the temptation to separate yourself: it’s true that I am different from the people I grew up with who chose to stay in Iowa. Part of that difference is, now, an economic and cultural advantage. So I have a dual responsibility: to see that California actually makes good on its professed values, and to ensure that those values incorporate the rest of America. Refusing to rationalize elite neglect is the real rebellion."
california  politics  policy  economics  work  labor  inequality  annfriedman  2017  education  healthcare  segregation  progressivism  class  race  classism  racism  homeless  homelessness  housing  donaldtrump  division  us  secession  siliconvalley  democrats  highereducation  highered  property  proposition13  elitism  migration  freedom  values  exclusion  inclusion  inclusivity  berniesanders  sherrodbrown  elizabethwarren  singlepayer  livingwage  affordability 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Van Jones’ Excellent Metaphors About the Dangers of Ideological Safety | HeterodoxAcademy.org
[via: http://seanmichaelmorris.com/deeply-aggrieved/ (with critique) ]

"Last week Van Jones offered the most perfect combination of strong reasons and intuitively compelling metaphors I have ever seen to explain why current campus trends regarding political diversity are bad for students and bad for the American left more generally.

Jones was a guest at David Axelrod’s Institute of Politics, at the University of Chicago. During their 80 minute discussion, with S. E. Cupp, Axelrod mentioned that he had hosted Corey Lewandowski (Trump’s former campaign manager) the previous week, which had led many students to protest the event, arguing that merely to have him on the Chicago campus would “normalize” the Trump administration. Axelrod noted that he disagrees with that thinking, and then asked Jones for his own thoughts on the question: what is the proper response when someone associated with Trump or supportive of Trump is brought onto a college campus and given an opportunity to speak publicly? What should college students do?

You have to watch Jones’ response to get the full power and passion of his remarks. But afterward you might want to see them written out, in order to quote them or tweet them or just meditate on their brilliance. I was not able to find a full and neat transcript online, so I had the staff at Heterodox Academy transcribe the clip and I post it below the video, with a closing comment.

[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zms3EqGbFOk ]

Transcript:

David Axelrod: We had Corey Lewandowski here last week. That engendered a protest outside the meeting—also part of our democracy. There’s a lot of anger and a lot of rage about what this administration is doing and the sense that [you should not have] anybody associated with him because then you’re normalizing the [Trump] administration. I have a different view but I am interested in yours.

Van Jones: I don’t like bigots and bullies. I just want to point that out… But I got tough talk for my liberal colleagues on these campuses. They don’t tend to like it but I think they like me so I get away with it. I want to push this.

There are two ideas about safe spaces: One is a very good idea and one is a terrible idea. The idea of being physically safe on a campus—not being subjected to sexual harassment and physical abuse, or being targeted specifically, personally, for some kind of hate speech—“you are an n-word,” or whatever—I am perfectly fine with that.

But there’s another view that is now I think ascendant, which I think is just a horrible view, which is that “I need to be safe ideologically. I need to be safe emotionally I just need to feel good all the time, and if someone says something that I don’t like, that’s a problem for everybody else including the administration.”

I think that is a terrible idea for the following reason: I don’t want you to be safe, ideologically. I don’t want you to be safe, emotionally. I want you to be strong. That’s different.

I’m not going to pave the jungle for you. Put on some boots, and learn how to deal with adversity. I’m not going to take all the weights out of the gym; that’s the whole point of the gym. This is the gym. You can’t live on a campus where people say stuff you don’t like?! And these people can’t fire you, they can’t arrest you, they can’t beat you up, they can just say stuff you don’t like- and you get to say stuff back- and this you cannot bear?! [audience applause]

This is ridiculous BS liberals! My parents, and Monica Elizabeth Peak’s parents [points to someone in the audience and greets her] were marched, they dealt with fire hoses! They dealt with dogs! They dealt with beatings! You can’t deal with a mean tweet?! You are creating a kind of liberalism that the minute it crosses the street into the real world is not just useless, but obnoxious and dangerous. I want you to be offended every single day on this campus. I want you to be deeply aggrieved and offended and upset, and then to learn how to speak back. Because that is what we need from you in these communities. [applause]

David Axelrod: You should see him when he gets passionate!

My Comment: Jones’ argument and his metaphors are based on the idea that young people are “anti-fragile.” They need exposure to challenges, irritants, and stressors in order to grow strong. If you treat them as though they are fragile by “paving the jungle” for them, or “taking the weights out of the gym,” you may think you are helping them, but you are harming them. You are actually making them fragile, which will set them up for lives of increased anxiety and decreased political effectiveness once they leave campus and encounter a jungle of ideological diversity, much of it far more threatening than anything Lewandowsky would say. (Granted, the Chicago students were talking about “normalization” rather than “safety.” Chicago students are tougher than most. But the net effect of banning politically unpopular views from campus is the same regardless of the motive.)

The idea of “anti-fragility” is developed at length, and with a great deal of evidence, in Nassim Taleb’s book Antifragile. This idea was at the core of my essay with Greg Lukianoff, The Coddling of the American Mind. Jones adds the argument that many universities, by granting demands for ideological safety and purity on campus, are doing things that strengthen the political right (by creating a kind of liberalism that offends many people beyond the campus) and that weaken the future leaders and activists of left.

Jones thereby makes the strongest case I have yet seen for why–in the wake of the unexpected Trump victory–progressive students should be asking for more exposure to political diversity (as Harvard students have), and for why progressive professors should join Heterodox Academy to improve the educational effectiveness and intellectual vibrancy of universities."
highered  highereducation  safespaces  academia  progressivism  discourse  2017  jonathanhaidt  vanjones  davidaxelrod  ideology 
may 2017 by robertogreco
of course, there’s the backchannel – Freddie deBoer – Medium
"My position was unpopular, but I was right then, and I’m right now. The situation made no sense. And while I appreciated that people were willing to reach out privately, the failure to speak up publicly can have high stakes. Increasingly I am concerned, in various worlds, with the distance between the public and private. Increasingly I wish that people were willing to say publicly what they now reserve only for all the backchannels out there."



"And that all comes down to a broader reality: on campus and off, even many or most of those who are deeply committed to the cause of social justice and its expression in feminism, anti-racism, and the fight for LGBTQ rights recognize that the culture of social justice is deeply unhealthy. You’ve heard all that from me before. I have been attempting to address that simple fact for years: that there is a difference between a commitment to fighting bigotry and accepting uncritically every argument that is made in the name of that fight. Many people join me in feeling that something has gone deeply wrong in how we prosecute the movement for social justice, but precisely because of the unhealthy conditions of that movement, they feel they can’t say so publicly.

*****

This seems like another one of those moments where what I’m saying is completely obvious, and would be barely worth mentioning if people didn’t react so negatively to actually spelling it out. (All it takes to be a media critic is a willingness to state the obvious.) I mean, it’s not exactly breaking news, right: people say different things privately than they are willing to say publicly. But the very nature of the backchannel makes it impossible to draw out these threads. Some will respond to this post by saying I’m making it all up, and they will be right to object to talking about a phenomenon for which I can’t present specific examples and proof. That’s a constraint I operate under because my very position as a locus of the backchannel requires me to honor the commitment to privacy. (And I always will, don’t worry.) But if you’re in my position, how do you help convince a bunch of disparate, disconnected voices to speak out, when the consequences seem so dire?

The fact remains that I am not making this up. And it remains even if you think I am personally an asshole. What good, progressive, feminist, antiracist people need to be willing to do, if they want to grow this movement so that we can stop losing elections and start acquiring the power to actually make tangible change, is to be willing to say when you think that movement has gone wrong. You must be willing to say, publicly, I am with the cause, but I am not with this. You have to be willing to say, yes, the world is full of offensive things, and yes, I stand with you when someone does something offensive, but this particular claim to offense is not credible. You have to be willing to fight for social justice loudly and passionately and then, when someone takes the language of social justice applies it to ridiculous and illegitimate ends, be one of the people willing to say “enough.”"



"I’ve said it for years: there’s a backlash brewing, against these tactics. People are fed up. Those who live and operate in left discursive spaces are numb and exhausted from living in the constant fear of saying the wrong thing and stepping on a landmine. Over-the-top wokeness is now obligatory in media and academia, which means that much of it is performed in bad faith, with the cynical and the opportunistic now adopting that language and those tactics for their own selfish ends. Meanwhile, decent people who are sincerely committed to the actual ideals that underlie that language are forced to self-censor or else to drop out entirely. This is no way to advance the cause."
freddiedeboer  backchannel  socialjustice  left  2017  progressive  progressivism  academia  debate  wokeness 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Richard Walker: The Golden State Adrift. New Left Review 66, November-December 2010.
"Since the apotheosis of the state’s favourite son Ronald Reagan, California has been at the forefront of the neoliberal turn in global capitalism. The story of its woes will sound familiar to observers across Europe, North America and Japan, suffering from the neoliberal era’s trademark features: financial frenzy, degraded public services, stagnant wages and deepening class and race inequality. But given its previous vanguard status, the Golden State should not be seen as just one more case of a general malaise. Its dire situation provides not only a sad commentary on the economic and political morass into which liberal democracies have sunk; it is a cautionary tale for what may lie ahead for the rest of the global North."



"California’s government is in profound disarray. The proximate cause is the worst fiscal crisis in the United States, echoing at a distance that of New York in the 1970s. Behind the budgetary mess is a political deadlock in which the majority no longer rules, the legislature no longer legislates, and offices are up for sale. At a deeper level, the breakdown stems from the long domination of politics by the moneyed elite and an ageing white minority unwilling to provide for the needs of a dramatically reconstituted populace.

The Golden State is now in permanent fiscal crisis. It has the largest budget in the country after the federal government—about $100 billion per year at its 2006 peak—and the largest budget deficit of any state: $35 billion in 2009–10 and $20 billion for 2010–11. The state’s shortfall accounts for one-fifth of the total $100 billion deficit of all fifty states. These fiscal woes are not new. They stem in large measure from the woefully inadequate and inequitable tax system, in which property is minimally taxed—at 1 per cent of cash value—and corporations bear a light burden: at most 10 per cent. Until the late 1970s, California had one of the most progressive tax systems in the country, but since then there has been a steady rollback of taxation. In the 1970s, it was one of the top four states in taxation and spending relative to income, whereas it is now in the middle of the pack.

The lynchpin of the anti-tax offensive is Proposition 13, passed by state-wide referendum in 1978, which capped local property taxes and required a two-thirds majority in the state legislature for all subsequent tax increases—a daunting barrier if there is organized opposition. Proposition 13 was the brainchild of Howard Jarvis, a lobbyist for the Los Angeles Apartment Owners’ Association. Support for it came not so much from voters in revolt against Big Government as from discontent with rising housing costs and property-tax assessments. But it was to prove a bridgehead for American neoliberalism, which triumphed two years later with Reagan’s ascent to the presidency."



"The fiscal crisis overlays a profound failure of politics and government in California. The origins of the stalemate lie in the decline of the legislative branch, which has popularity ratings even lower than Schwarzenegger’s. Led by Assembly Speaker Jesse Unruh in the 1960s, California’s legislature was admired across the country for its professionalism. But by the 1980s, under Speaker Willie Brown, it had become largely a patronage system for the Democratic Party, which has controlled the state legislature continuously since 1959. Republicans went after Brown and the majority party by means of a ballot proposition imposing term limits on elected officials in 1990. Term limits neutered the legislature, taking away its collective knowledge, professional experience and most forceful voices, along with much of the staff vital to well-considered legislation. Sold as a way of limiting the influence of ‘special interests’, term limits have reinforced the grip of industry lobbyists over legislators."



"Efforts to jettison Proposition 13, such as that by the public-sector unions in 2004, have been stillborn because the Democratic Party leadership refuses to touch the ‘third rail’ of California politics. Most left-liberal commentators attribute this impasse to an anti-tax electorate and organized opposition from the right, but this does not square with the evidence. Electorally, the Democrats have easily dominated the state for the last four decades: both houses of the legislature, one or both us Senate seats, the majority of the House delegation, and the mayoralties of Los Angeles, San Jose, Oakland and San Francisco; and, from Clinton onwards, every Democrat presidential candidate has carried the state by at least 10 per cent.

Rather than electoral vulnerability, it is the Democrats’ fundamental identification with the agenda of Silicon Valley, Hollywood and financiers—and dependence on money from these sources—that explains their unwillingness to touch the existing system."



"The victor, septuagenarian Democrat Jerry Brown, was governor of the state from 1975–83 and mayor of Oakland from 1999–2007; his most recent post was that of state Attorney General. Once a knight-errant of the liberal-left, it was his blunders in dealing with a budget surplus that paved the way for Proposition 13, and his harping on the theme of an ‘era of limits’ made him a rhetorical precursor to neoliberalism. In Oakland, his main contribution was to revivify the downtown area through massive condo development in the midst of the housing boom; he was also instrumental in pushing through charter schools. Brown’s low-key campaign kept its promises vague, but adhered to a broadly neoliberal agenda: pledging to cut public spending, trim the pensions of public employees, and put pressure on the unions to ‘compromise’. He has a fine nose for the political winds, but lacks any strong connection to a popular base."



"Yet whites have continued to dominate electoral politics, still making up two-thirds of the state’s regular voters. The majority of colour is vastly under-represented, because so many are non-citizens (60 per cent), underage (45 per cent) or not registered to vote. Turnout rates among California’s eligible Latinos are an abysmal 30 per cent, and the number of Latino representatives in city councils, the legislature and Congress remains far below what would be proportionate; Antonio Villaraigosa is the first Latino Mayor of Los Angeles since the 19th century. The fading white plurality continues to exert a disproportionate influence on the state. Markedly older, richer and more propertied, the white electorate has correspondingly conservative views: for many, immigrants are the problem, the Spanish language a threat, and law and order a rallying cry. Even the centrist white voter tends to view taxes as a burden, schools of little interest, and the collective future as someone else’s problem."



"The current economic and fiscal crises are just the latest symptoms of the slow decline of California’s postwar commonwealth. Here, as much as anywhere in the us, the golden age of American capitalism was built on a solid foundation of public investment and competent administration. Here, too, the steady advance of neoliberalism has undermined the public sector, and threatens to poison the wellsprings of entrepreneurial capitalism as well. This is especially apparent in the realm of education, from primary to university levels. The state’s once-great public-school system has been brought to its knees. Primary and secondary education (K–12: from kindergarten to twelfth grade) has fallen from the top of national rankings to the bottom by a range of measures, from test scores to dropout rates; the latter is currently at 25 per cent. There are many reasons for the slide, but the heart of the matter is penury—both of pupils and of the schools themselves, as economic inequalities and budget cuts bear down on California’s children."



"The upper middle class shield themselves by simply taking their children out of the public-school system and sending them to private institutions instead; previously rare, such withdrawals have now become commonplace—along with another alternative for the well-off, which is to move to prosperous, whiter suburbs where the tax base is richer. If public funds are insufficient, parents raise money amongst themselves for school endowments. In July of this year, a combination of civil-society groups launched a lawsuit over the injustice of school funding, hoping to produce a ‘son of Serrano’ ruling."



"California has been living off the accrued capital of the past. The New Deal and postwar eras left the state with an immense legacy of infrastructural investments. Schools and universities were a big part of this, along with the world’s most advanced freeway network, water-storage and transfer system, and park and wilderness complex. For the last thirty years, there has been too little tax revenue and too little investment. To keep things running, Sacramento has gone deeper and deeper into debt through a series of huge bond issues for prisons, parks and waterworks. By this sleight of hand, Californians have been fooled into thinking they could have both low taxes and high quality public infrastructure. The trick was repeated over and over, in a clear parallel to the nationwide accumulation of excessive mortgage debt. As a result, California now has the worst bond rating of any state."
richardwalker  california  via:javierarbona  2010  politics  policy  proposition13  inequality  education  schools  publicschools  highereducation  highered  government  termlimits  democrats  neoliberalism  liberalism  progressivism  elitism  nancypelosi  jerrybrown  ronaldreagan  race  demographics  history  1973  poverty  children  class  economics  society  technosolutionism  siliconvalley  finance  housingbubble  2008  greatrecession  taxes 
april 2017 by robertogreco
'Capitalism will always create bullshit jobs' | Owen Jones meets Rutger Bregman - YouTube
"Rutger Bregman is the author of Utopia for Realists and he advocates for more radical solutions to address inequality in society. His ideas include the introduction of a universal basic income, a 15 hour working week and, one which will be hugely popular on YouTube, open borders.

When I went to meet him, he told me politicians have failed to come up with new, radical ideas, instead sticking to an outdated, technocratic form of politics. He argues this has allowed politicians like Geert Wilders and Donald Trump to slowly shift extreme ideas into the mainstream."
rutgerbregman  bullshitjobs  consumerism  utopia  work  labor  davidgraeber  universalbasicincome  2017  inequality  purpose  emotionallabor  society  socialism  leisurearts  artleisure  boredom  stress  workweek  productivity  policy  politics  poverty  health  medicine  openborders  crime  owenjones  socialjustice  progressivism  sustainability  left  us  germany  migration  immigration  capitalism  netherlands  populism  isolationism  violence  pragmatism  realism  privatization  monopolies  ideology  borders  ubi 
march 2017 by robertogreco
A Boom Interview: Mike Davis in conversation with Jennifer Wolch and Dana Cuff – Boom California
"Dana Cuff: You told us that you get asked about City of Quartz too often, so let’s take a different tack. As one of California’s great urban storytellers, what is missing from our understanding of Los Angeles?

Mike Davis: The economic logic of real estate and land development. This has always been the master key to understanding spatial and racial politics in Southern California. As the late-nineteenth century’s most influential radical thinker—I’m thinking of San Francisco’s Henry George not Karl Marx—explained rather magnificently, you cannot reform urban space without controlling land values. Zoning and city planning—the Progressive tools for creating the City Beautiful—either have been totally co-opted to serve the market or died the death of a thousand cuts, that is to say by variances. I was briefly an urban design commissioner in Pasadena in the mid-1990s and saw how easily state-of-the-art design standards and community plans were pushed aside by campaign contributors and big developers.

If you don’t intervene in the operation of land markets, you’ll usually end up producing the opposite result from what you intended. Over time, for instance, improvements in urban public space raise home values and tend to become amenity subsidies for wealthier people. In dynamic land markets and central locations, nonprofits can’t afford to buy land for low-income housing. Struggling artists and hipsters inadvertently become the shock troops of gentrification and soon can’t afford to live in the neighborhoods and warehouse districts they invigorated. Affordable housing and jobs move inexorably further apart and the inner-city crisis ends up in places like San Bernardino.

If you concede that the stabilization of land values is the precondition for long-term democratic planning, there are two major nonrevolutionary solutions. George’s was the most straightforward: execute land monopolists and profiteers with a single tax of 100 percent on increases in unimproved land values. The other alternative is not as radical but has been successfully implemented in other advanced capitalist countries: municipalize strategic parts of the land inventory for affordable housing, parks and form-giving greenbelts.

The use of eminent domain for redevelopment, we should recall, was originally intended to transform privately owned slums into publicly owned housing. At the end of the Second World War, when progressives were a majority in city government, Los Angeles adopted truly visionary plans for both public housing and rational suburban growth. What then happened is well known: a municipal counter-revolution engineered by the LA Times. As a result, local governments continued to use eminent domain but mainly to transfer land from small owners to corporations and banks.

Fast-forward to the 1980s. A new opportunity emerged. Downtown redevelopment was devouring hundreds of millions of dollars of diverted taxes, but its future was bleak. A few years before, Reyner Banham had proclaimed that Downtown was dead or at least irrelevant. If the Bradley administration had had the will, it could have municipalized the Spring-Main Street corridor at rock-bottom market prices. Perhaps ten million square feet would have become available for family apartments, immigrant small businesses, public markets, and the like, at permanently controlled affordable rents.

I once asked Kurt Meyer, a corporate architect who had been chairman of the Community Redevelopment Agency, about this. He lived up Beachwood Canyon below the Hollywood Sign. We used to meet for breakfast because he enjoyed yarning about power and property in LA, and this made him a unique source for my research at the time. He told me that downtown elites were horrified by the unexpected revitalization of the Broadway corridor by Mexican businesses and shoppers, and the last thing they wanted was a populist downtown.

He also answered a question that long vexed me. “Kurt, why this desperate, all-consuming priority to have the middle class live downtown?” “Mike, do you know anything about leasing space in high-rise buildings?” “Not really.” “Well, the hardest part to rent is the ground floor: to extract the highest value, you need a resident population. You can’t just have office workers going for breakfast and lunch; you need night time, twenty-four hour traffic.” I don’t know whether this was really an adequate explanation but it certainly convinced me that planners and activists need a much deeper understanding of the game.

In the event, the middle class has finally come downtown but only to bring suburbia with them. The hipsters think they’re living in the real thing, but this is purely faux urbanism, a residential mall. Downtown is not the heart of the city, it’s a luxury lifestyle pod for the same people who claim Silverlake is the “Eastside” or that Venice is still bohemian.

Cuff: Why do you call it suburbia?

Davis: Because the return to the center expresses the desire for urban space and crowds without allowing democratic variety or equal access. It’s fool’s gold, and gentrification has taken the place of urban renewal in displacing the poor. Take Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris’s pioneering study of the privatization of space on the top of Bunker Hill. Of course, your museum patron or condo resident feels at home, but if you’re a Salvadorian skateboarder, man, you’re probably headed to Juvenile Hall."



"Jennifer Wolch: Absolutely. However it’s an important question particularly for the humanities students, the issue of subjectivity makes them reticent to make proposals.

Davis: But, they have skills. Narrative is an important part of creating communities. People’s stories are key, especially about their routines. It seems to me that there are important social science skills, but the humanities are important particularly because of stories. I also think a choreographer would be a great analyst of space and kind of an imagineer for using space.

I had a long talk with Richard Louv one day about his Last Child in the Woods, one of the most profound books of our time, a meditation on what it means for kids to lose contact with nature, with free nomadic unorganized play and adventure. A generation of mothers consigned to be fulltime chauffeurs, ferrying kids from one commercial distraction or over-organized play date to another. I grew up in eastern San Diego County, on the very edge of the back country, and once you did your chores (a serious business in those days), you could hop on your bike and set off like Huck Finn. There was a nudist colony in Harbison Canyon about twelve miles away, and we’d take our bikes, push them uphill for hours and hours in the hope of peeking through the fence. Like all my friends, I got a .22 (rifle) when I turned twelve. We did bad things to animals, I must confess, but we were free spirits, hated school, didn’t worry about grades, kept our parents off our backs with part-time jobs and yard work, and relished each crazy adventure and misdemeanor. Since I moved back to San Diego in 2002, I have annual reunions with the five or six guys I’ve known since second grade in 1953. Despite huge differences in political beliefs and religion, we’re still the same old gang.

And gangs were what kept you safe and why mothers didn’t have to worry about play dates or child molesters. I remember even in kindergarten—we lived in the City Heights area of San Diego at that time—we had a gang that walked to school together and played every afternoon. Just this wild group of little boys and girls, seven or eight of us, roaming around, begging pennies to buy gum at the corner store. Today the idea of unsupervised gangs of children or teenagers sounds like a law-and-order problem. But it’s how communities used to work and might still work. Aside from Louv, I warmly recommend The Child in the City by the English anarchist Colin Ward. A chief purpose of architecture, he argues, should be to design environments for unprogrammed fun and discovery."



"Wolch: We have one last question, about your young adult novels. Whenever we assign something from City of Quartz or another of your disheartening pieces about LA, it’s hard not to worry that the students will leave the class and jump off of a cliff! But your young adult novels seem to capture some amount of an alternative hopeful future.

Davis: Gee, you shouldn’t be disheartened by my books on LA. They’re just impassioned polemics on the necessity of the urban left. And my third LA book, Magical Urbanism, literally glows with optimism about the grassroots renaissance going on in our immigrant neighborhoods. But to return to the two adolescent “science adventure” novels I wrote for Viggo Mortensen’s wonderful Perceval Press. Above all they’re expressions of longing for my oldest son after his mother moved him back to her native Ireland. The heroes are three real kids: my son, his step-brother, and the daughter of our best friends when I taught at Stony Brook on Long Island. Her name is Julia Monk, and she’s now a wildlife biologist doing a Ph.D. at Yale on pumas in the Andes. I’m very proud that I made her the warrior-scientist heroine of the novels, because it was an intuition about her character that she’s made real in every way—just a remarkable young person."
mikedavis  2016  interviews  economics  california  sanfrancisco  losangeles  henrygeorge  urbanism  urban  suburbia  suburbs  jenniferolch  danacuff  fauxurbanism  hipsters  downtown  property  ownership  housing  populism  progressive  progressivism  reynerbanham  planning  urbanplanning  citybeautiful  gentrification  cities  homeless  homelessness  michaelrotundi  frankgehry  richardlouv  gangs  sandiego  friendship  colinward  thechildinthecity  architecture  fun  discovery  informal  unprogrammed  freedom  capitalism  china  india  england  ireland  famine  optimism  juliamonk  children  teens  youth  development  realestate  zoning  sanbernardino  sciarc 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Understanding Trump « George Lakoff
"Unconscious thought works by certain basic mechanisms. Trump uses them instinctively to turn people’s brains toward what he wants: Absolute authority, money, power, celebrity.

The mechanisms are:

1. Repetition. Words are neurally linked to the circuits the determine their meaning. The more a word is heard, the more the circuit is activated and the stronger it gets, and so the easier it is to fire again. Trump repeats. Win. Win, Win. We’re gonna win so much you’ll get tired of winning.

2. Framing: Crooked Hillary. Framing Hillary as purposely and knowingly committing crimes for her own benefit, which is what a crook does. Repeating makes many people unconsciously think of her that way, even though she has been found to have been honest and legal by thorough studies by the right-wing Bengazi committee (which found nothing) and the FBI (which found nothing to charge her with, except missing the mark ‘(C)’ in the body of 3 out of 110,000 emails). Yet the framing is working.

There is a common metaphor that Immorality Is Illegality, and that acting against Strict Father Morality (the only kind off morality recognized) is being immoral. Since virtually everything Hillary Clinton has ever done has violated Strict Father Morality, that makes her immoral. The metaphor thus makes her actions immoral, and hence she is a crook. The chant “Lock her up!” activates this whole line of reasoning.

3. Well-known examples: When a well-publicized disaster happens, the coverage activates the framing of it over and over, strengthening it, and increasing the probability that the framing will occur easily with high probability. Repeating examples of shootings by Muslims, African-Americans, and Latinos raises fears that it could happen to you and your community — despite the miniscule actual probability. Trump uses this to create fear. Fear tends to activate desire for a strong strict father — namely, Trump.

4. Grammar: Radical Islamic terrorists: “Radical” puts Muslims on a linear scale and “terrorists” imposes a frame on the scale, suggesting that terrorism is built into the religion itself. The grammar suggests that there is something about Islam that has terrorism inherent in it. Imagine calling the Charleston gunman a “radical Republican terrorist.”

Trump is aware of this to at least some extent. As he said to Tony Schwartz, the ghost-writer who wrote The Art of the Deal for him, “I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and it’s a very effective form of promotion.”

5. Conventional metaphorical thought is inherent in our largely unconscious thought. Such normal modes of metaphorical thinking that are not noticed as such.

Consider Brexit, which used the metaphor of “entering” and “leaving” the EU. There is a universal metaphor that states are locations in space: you can enter a state, be deep in some state, and come out that state. If you enter a café and then leave the café , you will be in the same location as before you entered. But that need not be true of states of being. But that was the metaphor used with Brexit; Britons believed that after leaving the EU, things would be as before when the entered the EU. They were wrong. Things changed radically while they were in the EU. That same metaphor is being used by Trump: Make America Great Again. Make America Safe Again. And so on. As if there was some past ideal state that we can go back to just by electing Trump.

6. There is also a metaphor that A Country Is a Person and a metonymy of the President Standing For the Country. Thus, Obama, via both metaphor and metonymy, can stand conceptually for America. Therefore, by saying that Obama is weak and not respected, it is communicated that America, with Obama as president, is weak and disrespected. The inference is that it is because of Obama.

7. The country as person metaphor and the metaphor that war or conflict between countries is a fistfight between people, leads to the inference that just having a strong president will guarantee that America will win conflicts and wars. Trump will just throw knockout punches. In his acceptance speech at the convention, Trump repeatedly said that he would accomplish things that can only be done by the people acting with their government. After one such statement, there was a chant from the floor, “He will do it.”

8. The metaphor that The nation Is a Family was used throughout the GOP convention. We heard that strong military sons are produced by strong military fathers and that “defense of country is a family affair.” From Trump’s love of family and commitment to their success, we are to conclude that, as president he will love America’s citizens and be committed to the success of all.

9. There is a common metaphor that Identifying with your family’s national heritage makes you a member of that nationality. Suppose your grandparents came from Italy and you identify with your Italian ancestors, you may proudly state that you are Italian. The metaphor is natural. Literally, you have been American for two generations. Trump made use of this commonplace metaphor in attacking US District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is American, born and raised in the United States. Trump said he was a Mexican, and therefore would hate him and tend to rule against him in a case brought against Trump University for fraud.

10. Then there is the metaphor system used in the phrase “to call someone out.” First the word “out.” There is a general metaphor that Knowing Is Seeing as in “I see what you mean.” Things that are hidden inside something cannot be seen and hence not known, while things are not hidden but out in public can be seen and hence known. To “out” someone is to made their private knowledge public. To “call someone out” is to publicly name someone’s hidden misdeeds, thus allowing for public knowledge and appropriate consequences."



"How Can Democrats Do Better?

First, don’t think of an elephant. Remember not to repeat false conservative claims and then rebut them with the facts. Instead, go positive. Give a positive truthful framing to undermine claims to the contrary. Use the facts to support positively-framed truth. Use repetition.

Second, start with values, not policies and facts and numbers. Say what you believe, but haven’t been saying. For example, progressive thought is built on empathy, on citizens caring about other citizens and working through our government to provide public resources for all, both businesses and individuals. Use history. That’s how America started. The public resources used by businesses were not only roads and bridges, but public education, a national bank, a patent office, courts for business cases, interstate commerce support, and of course the criminal justice system. From the beginning, the Private Depended on Public Resources, both private lives and private enterprise.

Over time those resources have included sewers, water and electricity, research universities and research support: computer science (via the NSF), the internet (ARPA), pharmaceuticals and modern medicine (the NIH), satellite communication (NASA and NOA), and GPS systems and cell phones (the Defense Department). Private enterprise and private life utterly depend on public resources. Have you ever said this? Elizabeth Warren has. Almost no other public figures. And stop defending “the government.” Talk about the public, the people, Americans, the American people, public servants, and good government. And take back freedom. Public resources provide for freedom in private enterprise and private life.

The conservatives are committed to privatizing just about everything and to eliminating funding for most public resources. The contribution of public resources to our freedoms cannot be overstated. Start saying it.

And don’t forget the police. Effective respectful policing is a public resource. Chief David O. Brown of the Dallas Police got it right. Training, community policing, knowing the people you protect. And don’t ask too much of the police: citizens have a responsibility to provide funding so that police don’t have to do jobs that should be done by others.

Unions need to go on the offensive. Unions are instruments of freedom — freedom from corporate servitude. Employers call themselves job creators. Working people are profit creators for the employers, and as such they deserve a fair share of the profits and respect and acknowledgement. Say it. Can the public create jobs. Of course. Fixing infrastructure will create jobs by providing more public resources that private lives and businesses depend on. Public resources to create more public resources. Freedom creates opportunity that creates more freedom.

Third, keep out of nasty exchanges and attacks. Keep out of shouting matches. One can speak powerfully without shouting. Obama sets the pace: Civility, values, positivity, good humor, and real empathy are powerful. Calmness and empathy in the face of fury are powerful. Bill Clinton won because he oozed empathy, with his voice, his eye contact, and his body. It wasn’t his superb ability as a policy wonk, but the empathy he projected and inspired.

Values come first, facts and policies follow in the service of values. They matter, but they always support values.

Give up identity politics. No more women’s issues, black issues, Latino issues. Their issues are all real, and need public discussion. But they all fall under freedom issues, human issues. And address poor whites! Appalachian and rust belt whites deserve your attention as much as anyone else. Don’t surrender their fate to Trump, who will just increase their suffering.

And remember JFK’s immortal, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Empathy, devotion, love, pride in our country’s values, public resources to create freedoms. And adulthood.

Be prepared. You have to understand Trump … [more]
georgelakoff  donaldtrump  2016  conservatives  markets  systems  systemsthinking  hierarchy  morality  puritanism  election  hillaryclinton  cognition  psychology  evangelicals  freemarkets  capitalism  pragmatism  patriarchy  progressivism  directcausation  systemiccausation  thinking  politicalcorrectness  identitypolitics  politics  policy  us  biconceptuals  brain  howwethink  marketing  metaphor  elections  dallas  dallaspolice  policing  lawenforcement  unions  organizing  organization  billclinton  empathy  campaigning  repetition  democrats 
july 2016 by robertogreco
What Does the Democratic Party Stand for Now? Good Question. | New Republic
"In Philadelphia, this abundance of available narratives was not merely a consequence of the Democratic message, but its essence: We will give you what you need to tell the story you want about America. It was the central theme of Clinton’s acceptance speech on Thursday night: I am here for all of you, whoever you are, whatever your ambitions—I am fighting for you. Or, as she put it: “Some people don’t know what to make of me. Let me tell you.” What followed was a sentimental autobiography, and a belief in “better futures,” promises to help all Americans rise up.

What this amounts to, at bottom, is a party that wants to carry on—a party that, per its platform, sees protecting our values as its core commitment moving forward. “The basic message is continuing on the path from 2008,” Marcus Stevenson, a Sanders delegate from Utah told me. “It’s not a rah rah thing, but it’s the safe way. They’re saying we’re on right path, it’s been positive, it’s a good direction. Nothing dramatic will change, but it’s fine. It’s the path we’re on.”

It is. It is a path that had led to marriage equality, and to the Affordable Care Act, and to a nuclear deal with Iran. But it is the path that has lead to the drone war, too. The path that has led to crackdowns on whistleblowers, to millions of deportations, to wage stagnation, to increasing disparities between our wealthy and our poor.

It is a path that the Democratic Party wagers most Americans can live with, its successes celebrated, and its failure justified by the realities of politics and the demands of expediency. That is good enough, for now."



"The possibility remains that Trump will win the election, that he will win precisely because it is difficult to know what the Democratic Party stands for beyond the notion that America is “already great” and generally intending to get greater. “If people are blaming immigrants for their problems, the correct strategic response is to build a platform that shows people what the actual source of their problems is, and proposes a means of solving them,” wrote Nathan J. Robinson in Current Affairs last week. “If you don’t have a compelling alternate vision and program, then of course people will be susceptible to demagoguery about crime and immigration. Trump and Nigel Farage may have a racist and delusional explanation for the cause of the world’s troubles, but they have an explanation.” Trump voters, at least, have no difficulty saying what their program is, who particularly it will reward, and who particularly it will punish, no matter how deranged.

There is also the danger of winning at an untenable price. We have seen this kind of false confidence before: After the defeat of Barry Goldwater in 1964, the punditry declared an era of permanent liberal consensus, only to see Ronald Reagan elected a scant sixteen years later on a nearly identical platform. When a single party absorbs the whole of “reasonable” political opinion, the consequence is rarely a single-party state. The adversarial logic that dictates the terms of American political life will only drive the opposition to the fringes, where there’s oxygen to be found, until the bounds of the “reasonable” are so expanded—eventually, the unreasonable win an election. Defeating Trump is a viable strategy. Praying that no Trump ever wins is not.

Then, of course, there is the danger lurking even in an improbable, permanent success. There is the danger that a party without a clear program, a party that is invested first and foremost in competence, in management, in providing enough for almost anyone to buy in, can by its nature do nothing but manage society as it is. There is a danger that such a party, even with the best of intentions, will tilt toward the interests of the powerful. They always do. There is a danger that such a party will make progress not when it is just, but when it is palatable, that it will stand permanently for good intentions but against the risk and sacrifice required to bring about a nation that did not require so much ambient brutality—from violence, from capital, from empire—just to carry on, no matter the good intentions of its managers. That it will plod on, competent and reasonable, but no more. A hard-working technocrat saying “America is already great, I’m fighting for you,” forever, while some people remain hungry, and some people remain sick. While some people find themselves more accepted in America, and who are grateful for it, while others on the other side of the world are incinerated in the name of American freedom. Because it’s good enough, really, it’ll get a little better sometimes, be reasonable: This is how the world has to be.

“What is the central promise you took away from this convention, the core of what you can expect will be delivered when Hillary Clinton is elected president?” I asked Sarah Parrish, a Sanders delegate from Kansas.

She paused. “I don’t know if I can,” she said."
democrats  elections  2016  hillaryclinton  statusquo  elitism  donaldtrump  berniesanders  values  integrity  meaning  emmettrensin  politics  us  progressivism  continuity 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The new political divide | The Economist
"AS POLITICAL theatre, America’s party conventions have no parallel. Activists from right and left converge to choose their nominees and celebrate conservatism (Republicans) and progressivism (Democrats). But this year was different, and not just because Hillary Clinton became the first woman to be nominated for president by a major party. The conventions highlighted a new political faultline: not between left and right, but between open and closed (see article). Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, summed up one side of this divide with his usual pithiness. “Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo,” he declared. His anti-trade tirades were echoed by the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party.

America is not alone. Across Europe, the politicians with momentum are those who argue that the world is a nasty, threatening place, and that wise nations should build walls to keep it out. Such arguments have helped elect an ultranationalist government in Hungary and a Polish one that offers a Trumpian mix of xenophobia and disregard for constitutional norms. Populist, authoritarian European parties of the right or left now enjoy nearly twice as much support as they did in 2000, and are in government or in a ruling coalition in nine countries. So far, Britain’s decision to leave the European Union has been the anti-globalists’ biggest prize: the vote in June to abandon the world’s most successful free-trade club was won by cynically pandering to voters’ insular instincts, splitting mainstream parties down the middle.

News that strengthens the anti-globalisers’ appeal comes almost daily. On July 26th two men claiming allegiance to Islamic State slit the throat of an 85-year-old Catholic priest in a church near Rouen. It was the latest in a string of terrorist atrocities in France and Germany. The danger is that a rising sense of insecurity will lead to more electoral victories for closed-world types. This is the gravest risk to the free world since communism. Nothing matters more than countering it.

Higher walls, lower living standards
Start by remembering what is at stake. The multilateral system of institutions, rules and alliances, led by America, has underpinned global prosperity for seven decades. It enabled the rebuilding of post-war Europe, saw off the closed world of Soviet communism and, by connecting China to the global economy, brought about the greatest poverty reduction in history.

A world of wall-builders would be poorer and more dangerous. If Europe splits into squabbling pieces and America retreats into an isolationist crouch, less benign powers will fill the vacuum. Mr Trump’s revelation that he might not defend America’s Baltic allies if they are menaced by Russia was unfathomably irresponsible (see article). America has sworn to treat an attack on any member of the NATO alliance as an attack on all. If Mr Trump can blithely dishonour a treaty, why would any ally trust America again? Without even being elected, he has emboldened the world’s troublemakers. Small wonder Vladimir Putin backs him. Even so, for Mr Trump to urge Russia to keep hacking Democrats’ e-mails is outrageous.

The wall-builders have already done great damage. Britain seems to be heading for a recession, thanks to the prospect of Brexit. The European Union is tottering: if France were to elect the nationalist Marine Le Pen as president next year and then follow Britain out of the door, the EU could collapse. Mr Trump has sucked confidence out of global institutions as his casinos suck cash out of punters’ pockets. With a prospective president of the world’s largest economy threatening to block new trade deals, scrap existing ones and stomp out of the World Trade Organisation if he doesn’t get his way, no firm that trades abroad can approach 2017 with equanimity.

In defence of openness
Countering the wall-builders will require stronger rhetoric, bolder policies and smarter tactics. First, the rhetoric. Defenders of the open world order need to make their case more forthrightly. They must remind voters why NATO matters for America, why the EU matters for Europe, how free trade and openness to foreigners enrich societies, and why fighting terrorism effectively demands co-operation. Too many friends of globalisation are retreating, mumbling about “responsible nationalism”. Only a handful of politicians—Justin Trudeau in Canada, Emmanuel Macron in France—are brave enough to stand up for openness. Those who believe in it must fight for it.

They must also acknowledge, however, where globalisation needs work. Trade creates many losers, and rapid immigration can disrupt communities. But the best way to address these problems is not to throw up barriers. It is to devise bold policies that preserve the benefits of openness while alleviating its side-effects. Let goods and investment flow freely, but strengthen the social safety-net to offer support and new opportunities for those whose jobs are destroyed. To manage immigration flows better, invest in public infrastructure, ensure that immigrants work and allow for rules that limit surges of people (just as global trade rules allow countries to limit surges in imports). But don’t equate managing globalisation with abandoning it.

As for tactics, the question for pro-open types, who are found on both sides of the traditional left-right party divide, is how to win. The best approach will differ by country. In the Netherlands and Sweden, centrist parties have banded together to keep out nationalists. A similar alliance defeated the National Front’s Jean-Marie Le Pen in the run-off for France’s presidency in 2002, and may be needed again to beat his daughter in 2017. Britain may yet need a new party of the centre.

In America, where most is at stake, the answer must come from within the existing party structure. Republicans who are serious about resisting the anti-globalists should hold their noses and support Mrs Clinton. And Mrs Clinton herself, now that she has won the nomination, must champion openness clearly, rather than equivocating. Her choice of Tim Kaine, a Spanish-speaking globalist, as her running-mate is a good sign. But the polls are worryingly close. The future of the liberal world order depends on whether she succeeds."
us  europe  politics  openness  division  donaldtrump  hillaryclinton  2016  elections  brexit  globalization  progressivism  conservatism  wto  france  emmanuelmacron  justintrudeau  canada  nato  sweden  netherlands  marielepen 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The end of post-neoliberalism | openDemocracy
"The time when dictatorships and neoliberal governments in Latin America were replaced by several progressive governments which benefited the poor without seriously affecting the income of the rich is coming to an end. Governments are back on the Right track. This signals a new time when unity of the popular sectors is once again the only way forward.

Latin America was the only continent where neoliberal options were adopted in several countries. After a series of US supported military dictatorships carrying the neoliberal project, reactions were swift. They culminated in the rejection, in 2005, of the Free Trade Agreement with the United States and Canada, which came as a result of a joint effort by social movements, leftist political parties, non-governmental organizations and Christian churches.

The new governments of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Ecuador, Paraguay and Bolivia put into effect policies which reestablished the role of the state in redistributing wealth, reorganizing public services, particularly access to healthcare and education and investment in public works. A more suitable share of the revenue from the exploitation of natural resources (oil, gas, minerals, agricultural produce) was negotiated between multinational corporations and the state, and the decade-long favourable international market situation allowed a significant increase in national income for these countries.

To talk about the end of a cycle conveys the idea of some sort of historical determinism that suggests the inevitability of the alternation of power between the Left and the Right - an inadequate concept if the goal is to replace an oligarchy’s hegemony by popular democratic regimes. On the assumption that the new governments were post-neoliberal but not post-capitalist, a number of factors allow us to suggest, however, that we are witnessing an exhaustion of the post-neoliberal experiences.

Obviously, it would be delusory to think that “instant” socialism is at all possible in a capitalist world during a systemic and therefore particularly aggressive crisis. The question of a necessary transition arises."
2016  latinamerica  progressivism  neoliberalism  brazil  brasil  argentina  uruguay  nicaragua  venezuela  ecuador  paraguay  bolivia  oligarchy  government  policy  development  economics  françoishoutart 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Brexit: why it may be the leftist, progressive vote. — Medium
"Ignoring the highly suspect post-vote media hysteria I thought I’d look at all the reasons why I thought, as a leftist, a vote to leave the EU was a positive step towards a more progressive world, and Europe.

Democracy.
The EU is not democratic, at least not the sense where people can actually direct it. It’s what Marx might call a bourgeoisie democracy, that works very well for the powers that be. This is set to become even more of a problem as the EU continues to move towards its own sovereignty. The 2007 Lisbon treaty also made it impossible for any member state to petition a law once it was put into force.

Austerity.
Austerity is official hard-line EU policy, that is it forcing on many of its states through various measures, punishing the most in need. Most leftists are anti-austerity. Yet a vote to Remain is a vote for the largest, most stubborn austerity campaign on the planet, that you can do nothing to change.

Visas.
You can get visas to live and work in other countries. You do not need the EU to do this. I’ve worked and lived on four different continents. I had to get a visa. The idea you will no longer be able to live and work in European countries is without any basis, especially if you hold a UK passport.

Neoliberalism.
Leftists and progressives are usually anti neoliberalism. EU is the neoliberal Prometheus. It is the neoliberal Hulksmash.

TTIP and CETA.
TTIP is a corporate assault on democracy, the environment, and the common people, yet EU bureaucrats are pushing TTIP in what has been called “open defiance of public opposition”. The leave vote mean UK has escaped any TTIP EU-US deal, but doesn’t mean UK won’t try to do its own. However, the Brexit may well have killed the EU deal dead too, something millions of signatures on online petitions was not doing. As in the words of one high ranking EU official working on the TTIP deal, “I do not answer to the people”.

Privatisation.
It may surprise UK citizens to know, but the EU is putting extreme pressure on European countries to follow the disastrous British system of privatising its rail networks, in place of the fantastic nationalised ones they already have in place.

Immigration.
Unlikely to change too much.

The Euro Currency.
It’s introduction overnight wiped out entire countries of small business owners, and is currently a failed currency, being propped up in big Southern European countries like Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal by the North half of Europe. There is no end in sight for its demise either, as no one in Europe has any idea how to fix the fiscal dilemma in places like Spain and Italy. Rise of far-right extremist parties also closely tied to the forced acceptance of the single currency.

The Labour Party.
The Brexit vote seems to have cleared the decks of the horrible bunch of Blairites that were driving the party away from actual voters off the cliff to oblivion. Paving the way for a new party that could potentially be better, more in touch with real people, and with a direction, if all goes well.

Poor Towns That ‘Benefited’ from EU Cash Still Voted Out.
Poor towns whose very welcome signs let all people living there know that the EU were giving them money, still voted to leave. A commendable example, and tells you all you need to know about what they thought EU was actually doing for their lives.

Political Correctness and Bigotry.
Post-vote fallout has confirmed what many like me already suspected of many fellow ‘liberals’, the they are indeed some of the most bigoted, and intolerant of our society. The veneer of P.C has been shown to be a sham, as scores of proudly PC bros couldn’t wait to denigrate the old and the poor as dumb, stupid, scum, sub-humans and unworthy of a vote. PC culture has been thrown out with the bathwater, as ageism, sexism, elitism, classism, and racism has been on full display by card carrying liberals. Never again can these people pretend to be on the moral side of the debate.

Italy.
Only Zimbabwe and Haiti had lower GDP growth in Italy from 2000–2010. The country has been taken toits knees while in the EU, all stemming from the introduction of the Euro. Italy, a proudly European country, in ways that a Brit can never understand, where the EU anthem, Ode To Joy, is taught and memorised across schools, has somehow become the most Eurosceptic country in Europe.

The Environment.
I sweated over this one, and I’m still 50/50. But the Common Agricultural Policy has undoubtedly been disastrous for the environment, favouring intensive industrial farming over small farm owners and pushing up prices artificially for consumers. The climate change and renewable energy directives cost the UK upwards of £5 billion a year, but need to be kept on. The EU has done nothing to save the Polish forest, or fracking in the UK. And I believe independent initiatives and local government bodies and organisations do the most incredible work for the British environment. (also see: TTIP)

V.A.T
The EU does not allow the government to have no VAT on certain items or even lower the standard rate of VAT to below 15%. A leave vote opens the possibility of a socially progressive moves such as removing VAT from certain things (like energy bills) which would be a huge help low income families.

Internationalism.
The possibility is now there that UK may be able to allow more people from other parts of the world that are not EU be part of the country. It also makes international trade, something Britain has usually led the world in, which the EU actively makes difficult, much easier.

Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland.
As non EU members in Europe, these countries have some of the best most progressive living standards in the world. Iceland was the only country who put the bankers in prison, rather than bail them out. Norway will ban the sale of all fossil fuel-based cars in the next decade."
brexit  giggsboson  democracy  uk  austerity  pc  immigration  ttip  ceta  privatization  euro  labourparty  politicalcorrectness  bigotry  progressivism  environment  norway  italy  switzerland  iceland  liechtenstein  economics  ageism  sexism  elitism  classism  racism 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Why Young Americans Are Giving Up on Capitalism | Foreign Policy
"Imagine that you’re twenty years old. You were born in 1996. You were five years old on 9/11. For as long as you can remember, the United States has been at war.

When you are twelve, in 2008, the global economy collapses. After years of bluster and bravado from President George W. Bush — who encouraged consumerism as a response to terror — it seems your country was weaker than you thought. In America, the bottom falls out fast.In America, the bottom falls out fast. The adults who take care of you struggle to take care of themselves. Perhaps your parent loses a job. Perhaps your family loses its home.

In 2009, politicians claim the recession is over, but your hardship is not. Wages are stagnant or falling. The costs of health care, child care, and tuition continue to rise exponentially. Full-time jobs turn into contract positions while benefits are slashed. Middle-class jobs are replaced with low-paying service work. The expectations of American life your parents had when you were born — that a “long boom” will bring about unparalleled prosperity — crumble away.

Baby boomers tell you there is a way out: a college education has always been the key to a good job. But that doesn’t seem to happen anymore. The college graduates you know are drowning in student debt, working for minimum wage, or toiling in unpaid internships. Prestigious jobs are increasingly clustered in cities where rent has tripled or quadrupled in a decade’s time. You cannot afford to move, and you cannot afford to stay. Outside these cities, newly abandoned malls join long abandoned factories. You inhabit a landscape of ruin. There is nothing left for you.

Every now and then, people revolt. When you are fifteen, Occupy Wall Street captivates the nation’s attention, drawing attention to corporate greed and lost opportunity. Within a year, the movement fades, and its members do things like set up “boutique activist consultancies.” When you are seventeen, the Fight for 15 workers movement manages to make higher minimum wage a mainstream proposition, but the solutions politicians pose are incremental. No one seems to grasp the urgency of the crisis. Even President Barack Obama, a liberal Democrat — the type of politician who’s supposed to understand poverty — declares that the economy has recovered."



"Does this mean that the youth of America are getting ready to hand over private property to the state and round up the kulaks? No. As many of those who reported on the Harvard survey noted, the terms “socialism” and “capitalism” were never defined. After meeting with survey takers, John Della Volpe, the director of the Harvard poll, told the Washington Post that respondents did not reject capitalism inherently as a concept. “The way in which capitalism is practiced today, in the minds of young people — that’s what they’re rejecting,” he said.

Capitalism, in other words, holds less appeal in an era when the invisible hand feels like a death grip. Americans under 20 have had little to no adult experience in a pre-Great Recession economy. Things older generations took for granted — promotions, wages that grow over time, a 40-hour work week, unions, benefits, pensions, mutual loyalty between employers and employees — are increasingly rare.

As a consequence, these basic tenets of American work life, won by labor movements in the early half of the twentieth century, are now deemed “radical.” In this context, Bernie Sanders, whose policies echo those of New Deal Democrats, can be deemed a “socialist” leading a “revolution”. His platform seems revolutionary only because American work life has become so corrupt, and the pursuit of basic stability so insurmountable, that modest ambitions — a salary that covers your bills, the ability to own a home or go to college without enormous debt — are now fantasies or luxuries.

Policies like a $15 per hour minimum wage — brought to mainstream attention not by Sanders, but by striking fast food workers years before — are not radical, but a pragmatic corrective to decades of wage depreciation. The minimum wage, which peaked in 1968, would have reached $21.72 in 2012 had it kept pace with productivity growth. Expectations of American life are formed on the premise that self-sufficiency is possible, but nearly half of Americans do not have $400 to their name. The gap between the rhetoric of “economic recovery” and “low unemployment” and the reality of how most Americans live is what makes Sanders seem unconventional: he describes widespread economic hardship many leaders rationalize or deny. Voters are not only rejecting the status quo, but how the status quo is depicted by media and politicians — the illusion that the economy is strong, and that suffering is the exception, not the rule.

We live in an era where heated rhetorical battles are fought over terms that have lost clear meaning. In an attempt to placate an angry populace, all three major candidates — Sanders, Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton — have at various times positioned themselves as “anti-establishment”: a dubious description of two career politicians and a billionaire tycoon. “Neoliberal” has gone from a term that describes an advocate of specific economic and political policies to an insult hurled indiscriminately on social media. Thanks to Trump, the word “fascist” has reentered the American political vocabulary, with some playing down Trump’s brutal and unlawful policies on the grounds that they do not precisely emulate foreign fascist leaders of the past. Meanwhile, Trump castigates Clinton for not using the term “radical Islam.” This sparring over labels illustrates the depths of our ideological confusion.

It is in this rhetorical morass that the debate over whether young Americans support “socialism” or “capitalism” takes place. Omitted from most coverage of the Harvard poll was the fact that youth were asked not only about socialism and capitalism but four other categories. “Which of the following, if any, do you support?” the questionnaire inquired, giving the options of socialism, capitalism, progressivism, patriotism, feminism, and social justice activism. None of the terms were defined. Respondents could choose more than one. “Socialism,” at 33 percent, actually received the lowest support. “Patriotism” received the highest support, at 57 percent, while the three remaining categories were each supported by roughly half the respondents.

What do these category-based questions really tell us, then, about the allegiance of youth to ideologies? Nothing. The real answers are found in questions about policies. When asked whether they support the idea that “Basic necessities, such as food and shelter, are a right that the government should provide to those unable to afford them,” 47 percent of all respondents said “yes.” Does this indicate support for socialism? Not necessarily. It indicates that respondents grew up in an America where a large number of their countrymen have struggled to afford food and shelter — and they want the suffering to stop.

You do not need a survey to ascertain the plight of American youth. You can look at their bank accounts, at the jobs they have, at the jobs their parents have lost, at the debt they hold, at the opportunities they covet but are denied. You do not need jargon or ideology to form a case against the status quo. The clearest indictment of the status quo is the status quo itself."
age  capitalism  economics  us  socialsafetynet  socialism  2016  occupywallstreet  ows  democracy  labor  work  minimumwage  education  highered  highereducation  debt  neoliberalism  progressivism  patriotism  donaldtrump  hillaryclinton  barackobama  opportunity  hope  despair  frustration  ideology  berniesanders  employment  unemployment  youth  politics  policy  statistics 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Listening While Feminist: In Defense of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” – Persephone Magazine
[See also: https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/12/19/baby-its-cold-outside-was-once-an-anthem-for-progressive-women-what-happened/ ]

"I’m a pretty voracious consumer and critic of American popular culture. I’m one of those 3rd wavers who believes that the deconstruction of all aspects of pop culture is an important aspect of feminism or any sort of progressive movement. Mass culture is the stew we all live in; when we learn to look at it critically, we can discuss the messages we’re soaking in every day. Sometimes we’re good at it, sometimes we’re bad at it, sometimes we get bogged down in the wrong details. But asking questions is important.

I’ve noticed over the last several years that some feminists have a strong dislike for the Frank Loesser song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Hattie wrote about one interpretation of the song last week, but with all due respect to my fellow Persephonine, I must heartily disagree with her view of it.

I’ve heard the take on “Baby” as “rapey” a couple of times over the years and the concern about the song usually centers in on one line: “Say, what’s in this drink,” which many contemporary listeners assume is a reference to a date rape drug. But narrowing in on this particular line divorces it from its own internal context, and having only passing familiarity with the song divorces it from its cultural context. You can (and should) read the lyrics of the song in their entirety here.

The structure of “Baby” is a back and forth conversation between the male and female singers. Every line the woman utters is answered by him, until they come together at the end of the song. When we just look at “Say, what’s in this drink,” we ignore the lines that proceed and follow this, which are what indicates to the listener how we’re supposed to read the context.

The song sets up a story where the woman has dropped by her beau’s house on a cold winter night. They talk in the first verse about how long she’s going to stay. She has “another drink” and stays longer, and then later in the evening it’s implied that she’s going to sleep over.

If we look at the text of the song, the woman gives plenty of indication that she wants to stay the night. At the time period the song was written (1936), “good girls,” especially young, unmarried girls, did not spend the night at a man’s house unsupervised. The tension in the song comes from her own desire to stay and society’s expectations that she’ll go. We see this in the organization of the song — from stopping by for a visit, to deciding to push the line by staying longer, to wanting to spend the entire night, which is really pushing the bounds of acceptability. Her beau in his repeated refrain “Baby, it’s cold outside” is offering her the excuses she needs to stay without guilt.

Let’s look at the lines. As she’s talking about leaving, she never says she doesn’t want to stay. Her words are all based around other people’s expectations of her — her mother will worry, her father will be pacing the floor, the neighbors will talk, her sister will be suspicious of her excuses and her brother will be furious, and my favorite line that I think is incredibly revealing, — “My maiden aunt’s mind is vicious.” Vicious about what? Sex. Unmarried, non-good girl having, sex.

Later in the song, she asks him for a comb (to fix her hair) and mentions that there’s going to be talk tomorrow – this is a song about sex, wanting it, having it, maybe having a long night of it by the fire, but it’s not a song about rape. It’s a song about the desires even good girls have.

So what is he singing while she’s talking about what other people think of her? He’s providing her with a list of cover stories, essential, excuses she can use to explain why she hasn’t or won’t go home. It’s cold out, it’s snowing, the cabs aren’t running, the storm is becoming a blizzard, she might get hurt trying to get home. He’s complimenting her as well, something that many criticisms of the song hone on — she has beautiful eyes, her lips look delicious, her hair looks swell. But this is standard romantic language. They are having an intimate time together and he’s far less constrained by societal expectations, so he can ask her to stay. It’s always assumed that she’ll turn him down. Except that she doesn’t want to. It’s her mother, her father, her aunt, the neighbors that want her to go home in a storm; she’s having a lovely time. (“I ought to say no, no, no sir, well, at least I’m gonna say that I tried.”)

So let’s talk about that drink. I’ve discussed solely looking at the lyrics of the song and its internal universe so far, but I think that the line “Say, what’s in this drink” needs to be explained in a broader context to refute the idea that he spiked her drink. “Say, what’s in this drink” is a well-used phrase that was common in movies of the time period and isn’t really used in the same manner any longer. The phrase generally referred to someone saying or doing something they thought they wouldn’t in normal circumstances; it’s a nod to the idea that alcohol is “making” them do something unusual. But the joke is almost always that there is nothing in the drink. The drink is the excuse. The drink is the shield someone gets to hold up in front of them to protect from criticism. And it’s not just used in these sort of romantic situations. I’ve heard it in many investigation type scenes where the stoolpigeon character is giving up bits of information they’re supposed to be protecting, in screwball comedies where someone is making a fool of themselves, and, yes, in romantic movies where someone is experiencing feelings they are not supposed to have.

The song, which is a back and forth, closes with the two voices in harmony. This is important — they’ve come together. They’re happy. They’re in agreement. The music has a wonderfully dramatic upswell and ends on a high note both literally and figuratively. The song ends with the woman doing what she wants to do, not what she’s expected to do, and there’s something very encouraging about that message."
feminism  2010  slaybelle  music  progressivism  culture  context  frankloesser 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Learn By Painting - The New Yorker
"What made Black Mountain different from other colleges was that the center of the curriculum was art-making. Students studied pretty much whatever they wanted, but everyone was supposed to take a class in some kind of artistic practice—painting, weaving, sculpture, pottery, poetry, architecture, design, dance, music, photography. The goal was not to produce painters, poets, and architects. It was to produce citizens.

Black Mountain was founded by a renegade classics professor named John Andrew Rice, who had been kicked out of Rollins College, in Florida. Rice believed that making something is a different learning experience from remembering something. A lot of education is reception. You listen to an expert explain a subject to you, and then you repeat back what you heard to show that you learned it. Teachers push students to engage actively with the material, but it’s easy to be passive, to absorb the information and check off the box.

Rice thought that this made for bad social habits. Democracy is about making choices, and people need to take ownership of their choices. We don’t want to vote the way someone else tells us to. We want to vote based on beliefs we have chosen for ourselves. Making art is making choices. Art-making is practice democracy.

Rice did not think of art-making as therapy or self-expression. He thought of it as mental training. As anyone who has tried to write a poem knows, the discipline in art-making is exercised from within rather than without. You quickly realize that it’s your own laziness, ignorance, and sloppiness, not somebody else’s bad advice, that are getting in your way. No one can write your poem for you. You have to figure out a way to write it yourself. You have to make a something where there was a nothing.

A lot of Rice’s ideas came from the educational philosophy of John Dewey (although the idea that true learning has to come from within goes back to Plato), and Rice was lucky to find an art teacher who had read Dewey and who thought the same way. This was Josef Albers. Albers had not been so lucky. He was an original member of the Bauhaus school, but when Hitler came to power, in 1933, the Bauhaus closed down rather than accept Nazi professors. Albers’s wife, Anni, was from a prominent Jewish family, and they were understandably anxious to get out of Germany. Rice heard about them from the architect Philip Johnson, and he sent a telegram to Albers inviting him and his wife to come teach at Black Mountain. The reply read: “I speak not one word English.” (Albers had read his Dewey in translation.) Rice told him to come anyway. Albers eventually did learn English, and he and Anni, an accomplished and creative weaver, established the mode of art instruction at Black Mountain. Everything would be hands-on, collaborative, materials-based, and experimental.

Bauhaus was all about abolishing distinctions between craft, or design, and fine art, and Black Mountain was one of the places where this aesthetic entered the world of American art. (Another was the Carnegie Institute of Technology, in Pittsburgh, where Andy Warhol went to college.) Albers’s most famous (although probably not his favorite) student at Black Mountain was Robert Rauschenberg, and Rauschenberg is the presiding spirit at the I.C.A. exhibition. Although goofier than most Black Mountain art—there is an earnestness about a lot of the work; this was schoolwork, after all—putting an automobile tire around a stuffed goat is the essence of Black Mountain practice.

Black Mountain College was a holistic learning environment. Teachers and students worked together; people who came to teach (and who stayed—not everyone found the work conditions to their liking) sat in on one another’s classes and ended up learning as much as the students. When a new building needed to be constructed, students and teachers built it themselves, just as, at the old Dewey School, at the University of Chicago, the children grew their own food and cooked their own meals.

It seems as though half the midcentury American avant-garde came through Black Mountain in one capacity or the other. The I.C.A. exhibition includes works by (besides Rauschenberg and the Alberses) Ruth Asawa, John Cage, John Chamberlain, Robert Creeley, Merce Cunningham, Elaine and Willem de Kooning, Robert Duncan, Buckminster Fuller, Shoji Hamada, Lou Harrison, Ray Johnson, Franz Kline, Jacob Lawrence, Robert Motherwell, Kenneth Noland, Charles Olson, Ben Shahn, David Tudor, and Cy Twombly. Black Mountain produced art of almost every kind.

Did it also produce good citizens? That’s an educational outcome everyone embraces but that’s hard to measure. In the case of Black Mountain, the sample size is miniscule, and most students left before graduating. There is also the self-selection issue. People who choose to attend progressive colleges are already progressive-minded, just as people who want a liberal education are usually already liberal (meaning interested in knowledge for its own sake), and people who prefer vocational or pre-professional education are already headed down those roads. College choice tends to confirm prior effects of socialization. But why keep those things separate? Knowing and doing are two sides of the same activity, which is adapting to our environment. That was Dewey’s point.

People who teach in the traditional liberal-arts fields today are sometimes aghast at the avidity with which undergraduates flock to courses in tech fields, like computer science. Maybe those students see dollar signs in coding. Why shouldn’t they? Right now, tech is where value is being created, as they say. But maybe students are also excited to take courses in which knowing and making are part of the same learning process. Those tech courses are hands-on, collaborative, materials-based (well, virtual materials), and experimental—a digital Black Mountain curriculum. The other liberal-arts fields might take notice. Arts practice should be part of everyone’s education, not just in preschool."
blackmountaincollege  bmc  2015  louismenand  johndewey  democracy  practice  experience  education  tcsnmy  progressive  progressivism  art  arts  highered  highereducation  collectivism  learning  unschooling  deschooling  bauhaus  johnandrewrice  making  creativity  josefalbers  annialbers  craft  design  robertrauschenberg  collaboration  ruthasawa  johncage  mercecunningham  buckminsterfuller  willemdekooning  robertduncan  johnchamberlain  robertcreeley  shojihamada  louharrison  rayjohnson  franzkline  jacoblawrence  robertmotherwell  charlesolson  benshahn  davidtudor  cytwombly  kennethnoland  elainedekooning  liberalarts  technology 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Why the Kurdish struggle is so important | Green Left Weekly
"This pamphlet aims to provide a short introduction to the Kurdish question for non-Kurdish readers in Australia. The focus is on Turkey and Rojava (the Kurdish majority liberated zone in northern Syria) where the struggle is being led by the revolutionary democratic wing of the Kurdish movement. That is, the People's Democratic Party (HDP), the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD).

This is a mass struggle, involving hundreds of thousands, even millions of people.

Inescapably, there is little in the pamphlet about Iraq and Iran. It also does not deal in any detail with Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdoğan's current war against the Kurds as he schemes to get a majority for his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the November 1 parliamentary elections.

The articles, by myself and Tony Iltis, aim to provide essential information and perspective. Apart from that, we felt it was important to let key figures speak for themselves so readers could get a feel for the struggle.

So we have the eloquent and powerful 2013 Newroz (Kurdish New Year) message from jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan and HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş's luminous vision of a new Turkey.

Then there are the inspiring interviews with HDP co-leader Figen Yüksekdağ and two Women's Protection Units (YPJ) commanders, which show very clearly the tremendous role women are playing in the fight on both sides of the border.

The final item touches on Australia's minor but shameful role in the conflict — its criminalisation of the PKK as a banned terrorist group.

Importance of Rojava

All around the world, in a myriad of struggles, people are fighting against oppression and exploitation. As socialists we support them all, so what makes the Kurdish freedom struggle today so special?

The answer is the Kurdish freedom struggle in Turkey and Rojava has a clear goal — the creation of an inclusive, secular, radically democratic, feminist, ecological society. It has a revolutionary leadership worthy of the heroism and sacrifice of the people and a strategy to achieve its aims.

So much of what we hear about the Middle East involves sectarian and inter-communal violence. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) embodies this with its murderous intolerance and extremely backward ideology.

The Middle East is a tremendously rich mosaic of different ethnic and religious communities. Fundamentalists of all stripes want to destroy this beautiful diversity through ruthless violence.

This is clear in Syria and Iraq, where the ISIS fanatics control a large territory. It is also the case in Turkey, where the Erdoğan regime — following in the footsteps Turkish government's since the founding of the republic in 1923 — seeks to imprison the whole country in the straitjacket of a mythical Sunni Muslim “Turkish nation”.

Kurds, Alevis, Armenians, Assyrians, Yazedis and a host of other ethnicities and faiths all endure discrimination and oppression.

Celebrating diversity

The progressive Kurdish movement has explicitly rejected such reactionary nationalism. In his Newroz message, Öcalan puts forward a revolutionary perspective in these very moving words: “We shall unite against those who want to divide and make us fight one another. We shall join together against those who want to separate us …

“The peoples of the region are witnessing a new dawn. The peoples of the Middle East are weary of enmity, conflict and war. They want to be reborn from their own roots and to stand shoulder to shoulder …

“The truths in the messages of Moses, Jesus and Mohammed are being implemented in our lives today with new tidings. People are trying to regain what they have lost.”

The great success of the HDP in the June 7 elections was based on this approach. It sought to be the party of the oppressed and exploited across the whole country.

And in Rojava, diversity is built into the very foundations of the revolution. Kurds are the largest ethnic group, but conscious efforts are made to engage and incorporate Arabs, Assyrians, Turkmen and so on into the self-governing structures of the cantons.

In Cizire canton, for example, where the population comprises Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, Syriacs and Armenians, the official languages are Kurdish, Arabic and Aramaic. All communities have the right to teach and be taught in their native language.

This is a matter of life and death for the Rojava revolution. The forces of darkness are constantly trying to turn communities against each other. If the revolution cannot adequately counter this, it will fail.

The ISIS killers have gained worldwide notoriety for their barbaric treatment of prisoners — and their public celebration of it. Captives have been beheaded, burned alive and shot in mass executions.

The People's Protection Units (YPG) and YPJ in Rojava have repudiated such inhuman behaviour. Prisoners are treated correctly. Individual lapses are always possible, but the Rojava authorities have an exemplary record on the humane treatment of prisoners.

The YPG/J have also signed the Geneva Conventions on not using soldiers under the age of 18 and have discharged many combatants found to be underage.

However, one has to put things in perspective here: when a 15- or 16-year-old has seen family members killed or when ISIS attacks a village threatening to kill everyone, it is entirely natural that many youth will pick up a gun and join the resistance, irrespective of their age.

Women in the forefront

All great revolutions have drawn women into the struggle. But I think it is true to say that the role women are playing in the Kurdish freedom struggle in Turkey and Rojava is unprecedented in history.

In Rojava women have their own armed force, the YPJ, making up at least a third of the combatants. They are also in the YPG. Women are combatants at all levels, including in the command. They have furnished hundreds of martyrs to the struggle.

Women in Rojava are fighting for a new society in which real gender equality prevails. The Rojava Charter (constitution) says: “Women have the inviolable right to participate in political, social, economic and cultural life … [the charter] mandates public institutions to work towards the elimination of gender discrimination.”

In Afrin canton in 2013, for instance, women made up 65% of the administration. The Prime Minister is a woman, Hevi Ibrahim.

We do not need to idealise anything. Rojava society is patriarchal but under the pressure of war, revolution and a revolutionary leadership, things are changing. Young women cannot be stopped by their fathers or brothers from joining the YPJ or the Asayish, the public order force.

While not everyone is on side and some people are disenchanted, the revolution has inspired and involved whole layers of the population.

I especially like the photo by Yann Renoult on the back cover of our pamphlet. This shows a revolutionary Kurdish family in Rojava looking out with what seems to be hope, determination and courage. There is Ocalan's image on the wall; all the couple's sons and daughters had joined the defence forces as teenagers.

One son had fallen in battle at the age of 18. Their parents were behind them, especially their mother, said the photographer.

Yes, the situation is terrible, but people know what they are fighting for and that gives the revolution a tremendous strength.

I hope this pamphlet can help spread awareness of the Kurdish freedom struggle, build support for it and play a role in the development of a more effective solidarity movement here in Australia."
kurds  2015  women  gender  democracy  rojava  ethnicity  diversity  nationalism  progressivism  secularism  feminism  ecology  environment  sustainability  freedom  newroz  division  inclusivity  fundamentalism  daveholms  tonyiltis  inclusion 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Ed-Tech Might Make Things Worse... So Now What?
"Indeed, technology might actually make things worse, particularly for disadvantaged students, in part because of the type of tech and how it’s used in their classrooms. The OECD report found, for example, that “drilling” software has a negative effect on performance (that is, to be clear again, performance on the PISA). And yet this type of software, and more broadly computer-based math instruction, is much more commonly used for disadvantaged students.

Much of the press coverage of the OECD’s report latched on to the finding that “overexposure” to technology leads to poor academic performance (as well as to lower levels of well-being). But again, it’s worth asking what that technology usage actually involves. What are students doing when they’re “using computers” in the classroom? Are they “using computers” or is it, rather, that their teachers are? That phrase – “using computers in the classroom” – can mean a lot of things after all. “Using computers” how and “using computers” to what end – that is, what are the goals of increasing the amount of tech in the classroom? (A recent Education Week headline might give us a clue: “Chromebooks’ Rise in U.S. K–12 Schools Fueled by Online Testing.” Simply put: is increased tech usage a reflection of increased testing?)

“One interpretation of these findings,” the report’s executive summary reads, “is that it takes educators time and effort to learn how to use technology in education while staying firmly focused on student learning.” Yes, that is one interpretation, one that fits neatly into a narrative that teachers and schools have failed to “innovate.” But rather than allow the burden of addressing ed-tech’s “effectiveness” to be shifted to educators, let’s ask too why so much of ed-tech remains crap – exploitative and punitive crap that is well-funded by venture capitalists and heavily promoted by ed-tech enthusiasts, I might add. Ed-tech that, as this OECD report suggests, likely makes things worse. We cannot shrug and say “it’s not the technology’s fault.” Because what if it is?

“We expect schools to educate our children to become critical consumers of Internet services and electronic media,” the OECD report says, “helping them to make informed choices and avoid harmful behaviours.” But I think expecting schools to educate children to become consumers is a flawed approach to technology from the very start. (It’s one that surely enriches the ed-tech industry, who by all accounts are the ones most clearly benefitting from widespread adoption of tech in the classroom.) This is a flawed approach to education too, I’d argue – this notion that knowledge is something delivered either by teacher or machine and in turn consumed by students. If there is any agency in this equation at all, it’s the agency to buy, not the agency to build. Most ed-tech has done very little to support students’ agency as creators – not just as creators with digital technology but creators of digital technology.

But the same can be said, unfortunately, for most classrooms, with or without computers. Students are objects in the education system, shaped and molded by institutional and societal expectations. Framing students as “consumers” posits that the only place they gain subject status is when we reduce “learning” to a transaction – and in particular to an exchange of money or, increasingly, of personal data. And if that is the framework guiding ed-tech (its present and its future), it should be no surprise that the results will be profoundly unjust.

To its credit, the OECD report does make the following policy recommendation: “Improve equity in education first.”
In most countries, differences in computer access between advantaged and disadvantaged students shrank between 2009 and 2012; in no country did the gap widen. But results from the PISA computer-based tests show that once the so-called “first digital divide” (access to computers) is bridged, the remaining difference, between socio-economic groups, in the ability to use ICT tools for learning is largely, if not entirely, explained by the difference observed in more traditional academic abilities. So to reduce inequalities in the ability to benefit from digital tools, countries need to improve equity in education first. ****Ensuring that every child attains a baseline level of proficiency in reading and mathematics will do more to create equal opportunities in a digital world than can be achieved by expanding or subsidising access to high-tech devices and services.**** (emphasis added)

It’s easy to dismiss the OECD report because it draws so heavily on the PISA framework – although no doubt that’s a good reason to be critical of “what counts” here as “learning outcomes.” And surely there are benefits to computers beyond what PISA can measure. But can we articulate what those are? And can we articulate what those are without using meaningless cliches like “innovation” and “collaboration” and “future ready”?

I confess, I’ve grown pretty tired of the response that “we must” use tech. It’s a surrender, too often and again, to this idea that we are required to interact, to connect, to think deeply through the confines of a certain kind of technology, of a certain kind of economic and social and institutional arrangement – as consumers of tech, and as the product itself.

Despite the insistence that digital technologies are “the future” and as such must be incorporated somehow into the classroom, “the future” remains an unknown. We cannot say with any certainty that “the future” will include any of the technologies that we use today. Ten, twenty, thirty years from now, we might not have “Google” or “YouTube” or “Blackboard” or even “the World Wide Web” – we certainly will not in their current form. There is no inevitability to technology nor to the direction that “technological progress” might take.

And education technology in and of itself is surely not progressive."
edtech  audreywatters  2015  oecd  technology  teaching  education  pedagogy  pisa  testing  consumption  creation  chromebooks  progressivism  progress  inequality  inequity  schools 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Christian Parenti on Climate Change, Militarism, Neoliberalism and the State
"When the left turns its back on the social democratic features of government, stops making demands of the state, and fails to reshape government by using the government for progressive ends, it risks playing into the hands of the right. The central message of the American right is that government is bad and must be limited. This message is used to justify austerity. However, in most cases, neoliberal austerity does not actually involve a reduction of government. Typically, restructuring in the name of austerity is really just a transformation of government, not a reduction of it.

Over the last 35 years, the state has been profoundly transformed, but it has not been reduced. The size of the government in the economy has not gone down. The state has become less redistributive, more punitive. Instead of a robust program of government-subsidized and public housing, we have the prison system. Instead of well-funded public hospitals, we have profiteering private hospitals funded by enormous amounts of public money. Instead of large numbers of well-paid public workers, we have large budgets for private firms that now subcontract tasks formerly conducted by the government.

We need to defend the progressive work of government, which, for me, means immediately defending public education. To be clear, I do not mean merely vote or ask nicely, I mean movements should attack government and government officials, target them with protests, make their lives impossible until they comply. This was done very well with the FCC. And my hat goes off to the activists who saved the internet for us. The left should be thinking about the ways in which it can leverage government.

The utility of government was very apparent in Vermont during the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. The rains from that storm destroyed or damaged over a hundred bridges, many miles of road and rail, and swept away houses. Thirteen towns were totally stranded. There was a lot of incredible mutual aid; people just started clearing debris and helping each other out. But within all this, town government was a crucial connective tissue.

Due to the tradition of New England town meeting, people are quite involved with their local government. Anarchists should love town meetings. It is no coincidence that Murray Bookchin spent much of his life in Vermont. Town meetings are a form of participatory budgeting without the lefty rigmarole.

More importantly, the state government managed to get a huge amount of support from the federal government. The state in turn pushed this down to the town level. Without that federal aid, Vermont would still be in ruins. Vermont is not a big enough political entity to shake down General Electric, a huge employer in Vermont. The Vermont government can't pressure GE to pay for the rebuilding of local infrastructure, but the federal government can.

Vermont would still be a disaster if it didn't get a transfer of funds and materials from the federal government. Similarly in New York City, the public sector does not get enough praise for the many things it did well after super storm Sandy. Huge parts of the subway system were flooded, yet it was all up and running within the month.

As an aside, one of the dirty little secrets about the Vermont economy is that it's heavily tied-up with the military industrial complex. People think Vermont is all about farming and boutique food processing. Vermont has a pretty diverse economy, but agriculture plays a much smaller role than you might think, about 2 percent of employment. Meanwhile, the state's industrial sector, along with the government, is one of the top employers, at about 13 percent of all employment. Most of this work is in what's called precision manufacturing, making stuff like: high performance nozzles, switches, calibrators, and stuff like the lenses used in satellites, or handcrafting the blades that go in GE jet engines. But I digress … As we enter the crisis of climate change, it's important to be aware of the actually existing legal and institutional mechanisms with which we can contain and control capital."
christianparenti  climatechange  militarism  neoliberalism  2015  goverment  politics  policy  progressivism  progressives  economics  austerity  priorities  military  surveillance  inequality  wealth  anarchism  mutualaid  activism  epa  environment  infrastructure  vermont  townmeetings 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Leon Botstein for Democracy Journal: Are We Still Making Citizens?
[via: http://willrichardson.com/post/115896934920/on-secret-keeping-and-forgetting ]

"Democracy requires a commitment to the public good. But for a long time now, our citizens have been taught to see themselves as only private actors."



"What the European émigrés discovered was a reality that partially resembled these principles. They saw from the outside, as it were, how vital the connection is between how we structure our schools and our capacity to maintain a functioning pluralist democracy. John Dewey, America’s greatest thinker on education since Mann, guided the ideology of public education. For Dewey, the justification for the proper pedagogy was not primarily political; his conception of teaching and learning derived largely from an epistemological conceit within Pragmatism. But for the European émigrés, the contrast between the school systems from which they came and the school system in the country in which they arrived—the virtue and attraction of American educational practice—was significant in terms of its political consequences.

In those years, the defining factor in the American system was the idea of a single, unitary public school system in which everybody enrolled. All citizens went to the same sort of schools through to the end of secondary school. Private schools were an elite phenomenon and relatively insignificant. Most European public systems, by contrast, were intentionally segregated by ability, creating distinct groups beginning at age 11. The state, using examinations, divided the school population into varying categories, each of which maintained a different track. The majority of citizens never completed school beyond elementary school. Some percentage went on to vocational schooling. A very small segment of the population went, as adolescents, either to a humanistic academic high school (Gymnasium) or to a less prestigious practical and science-oriented high school (Realschule) and received a secondary-school diploma. A Matura or Abitur, the diploma from these two types of secondary schools, permitted an elite student to enroll in the university.

Consequently, the unitary public school system that kept all children together until college and that built citizens of character, devoted to democratic values, was viewed by the émigré generation as a marvel. American education appeared to fit the idea that the nation and democracy were tied to a homogeneity of rights, and that diverse constituencies could not only obtain equal legal status but through education achieve the means to realize it in economic and social terms. Citizenship via a nominally nondiscriminatory and standard process accessible to all irrespective of birth, religion, ethnicity, or even language was unheard of in Europe, but it—and the concrete advantages education added—seemed possible in America.

Higher education was no less eye-opening. Undergraduates delayed specialization and studied more than one subject. They were, from the start, asked to do far more writing that called for the expression of their own arguments and judgments. What was equally shocking to a European was the way in which the American university system seemed immensely flexible and open to new ideas. There was not a rigid hierarchy with one professor running each “faculty.” Young scholars did not have to wait for their elders to retire or die. The university was able to create new fields and new positions. Not only was there less hierarchy and formality, but in graduate education there was even less deference to authority than in the public school system. The dissenter, rebel, and ambitious entrepreneur were prized more than in Europe. In terms of graduate education and academic career advancement, American university practice still stands in contrast to that of Europe.

That was the good news. The bad news was that the academic standards by which the American common school system operated seemed horrifically low. The price paid by the democratic culture of the American school system, the émigré observers concluded, was the low level of shared culture achieved at the end of secondary public education. Freshmen could not read or write properly, and they possessed little understanding of literature, art, philosophy, or history. The thinly veiled (at best) snobbery of the mid-century émigré scholars simply exploded when their members (such as Werner Jaeger, Leo Strauss, and Kurt Wolff) came to teach American college students."



"I distrust private languages and the tendency to rely on one’s personal narrative as the basis for talking about politics and, in particular, education, understood as a political good. The personal narrative is always contingent on those outside of it. What a child has to learn in school is not only to formulate a personal narrative but also to set it aside; children need to listen, to observe others, and thereby to distinguish their personal narrative from those of others as each individual constructs a role as a citizen. However, the two imperatives—personal growth and citizenship—don’t appear naturally to overlap. A child needs to learn things that allow him or her to function in a democratic context, to learn to consciously ignore personal self-interest and contemplate the public good. What a common public school ought to teach, therefore, is the capacity for disagreement, contest, and compromise. But if I think public goods are irrelevant, that we can do without government, I automatically subscribe to a kind of illusion of individualism against which criticism is hard, since the point of having a discussion or debate—the creation of the public space of a shared participatory politics—is rejected."



"The project of public education is fundamental to the notion of public goods in America. The restoration of public education seems a precondition for making the public sphere operate properly. Education must be about something more than personal happiness and benefit, economically defined; it has to map out the idea that there is more to the public good than the belief that through some free-market-style calculus of aggregate self-interests, the greatest good for the greatest number will emerge. In other words, public education is about educating the future citizen to consider a common ground in politics that can and will secure a more rewarding notion of personal security and tranquility for all.

But in the context of today’s disenchantment with the public sphere, what can a school-trained citizen do? Merely compete in the marketplace? Work for Google? What actually defines the public sphere today is not the government and Congress, but Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Conspiracy theorists when I was young pointed to the presence of socialists and communists who were said to undermine our system of values. Fear seemed reasonable in the Cold War and under the threat of nuclear war. The line between fear and paranoia was thin indeed. Fear was plausible.

But the people who frighten me and undermine the public sphere today are not terrorists and ideologues interested in overthrowing the government; they are not even those who work for the U.S. government within the NSA or the CIA. Rather, I’m afraid of the very large corporate giants that control our access to information, regulate our private lives by providing social networks—a platform for deceptive intimacy—and monitor every move we make in life and preserve a record of every message, thereby rendering secret-keeping and forgetting—two essential human experiences—impossible."



"So where does this bring us with regard to education? As a practitioner of education, I still hold to the idea that the most difficult and yet most vital thing to do is to construct and sustain a language of public conversation. And that language of public conversation will inevitably be different from our several private languages. We cannot expect it to be the same. The conversation on matters that affect us all has to take place in real space and time. School is one source of that essential opportunity.

One of the depressing aspects of our politics today is the extent to which our candidates think it is enough to be a personality and to rely on a private language in order to get elected. We are more interested in the personalities of our politicians, as if they were our neighbors or private friends, than we are in what they think. Today’s politicians cannot speak a comprehensible language of ideas in public conversation about public goods, the matters at stake in politics. We have lost the taste for a sustained debate about ideas.

To confront this lack of public discourse based on ideas—ideas bolstered by claims and evidence subject to open scrutiny—public education needs to work. It needs to create a community of very diverse citizens who are able to occupy a public space in which they can negotiate matters of shared concern, from foreign affairs to domestic policy, using a shared language. The Internet does not offer such a platform, nor does the virtual space or Facebook or any other social media.

I therefore think that we need to redouble the defense of a single system of public education to which our citizens have free access. We need to resist the privatization of schooling. That does not mean that every school should look alike. But since we will continue to be (I hope) an immigrant nation, we will have to champion a public school system if we are to reconcile increasing differences, inequalities of wealth, and class distinctions into a functioning, dynamic democracy made up of citizens.

I share the émigré generation’s quite romantic optimism for the potential of a democratic school system, one marked by excellence and equity. I think such a system is worth fighting for. There are lots of reasons to be optimistic. There is evidence that we can improve schools. A welcome first step would be to instill in the best of our current college students and future … [more]
leonbostein  democracy  publicschools  civics  citizenship  2015  individualism  collectivism  publicgood  education  society  us  privatization  government  disagreement  debate  participation  capitalism  hannaharendt  hansweil  christianmackauer  progressive  progressivism  freedom  interdependence  independence  politics  learning  johndewey  egalitarianism  americandream  equality  inequality  generalists  specialization  hierarchy  informality  formality  horizontality  standards  standardization  competition  universities  colleges  highered  highereducation  criticalthinking  accessibility  europe  history  leostrauss  kurtwolff  wernerjaeger  jacobklein  robertmaynardhutchins  stringfellowbarr  heinrichblücher  elitism  privateschools  content  process  methodology  pedagogy  howweteach  howwelearn  purpose  sputnik  truth  canon  discourse  isolation  technology  internet  schooling  schooliness  science  wikipedia  communication  language  eliascanetti  teaching  information  research 
april 2015 by robertogreco
The Crosshairs of High Expectations and Poverty | The Jose Vilson
"Our schools are currently underfunded, and our governments currently exacerbates this through long-standing property tax laws and inadequate state and federal formulas for funding schools. With such little political will to truly overhaul our public education system, frustrations ought to bubble. The safety net has withered from under us as our student population has become more diverse, and we’ve had little recourse in the educational debate but to stick to linguistic bunkers when discussing under-performing students:

“Kids don’t do well because of poverty!”
“Are you saying poor kids can’t learn?”
“Poverty means kids can’t sleep or eat well, and when they come hungry to school, they can’t concentrate.”
“That just sounds like an excuse to not teach students to the best of their abilities. We can’t accept that!”

These are arguments all worth listening to, even if the sources sometimes come off as suspect. On the one end, we have to acknowledge that poverty sucks the life out of our kids on multiple measures, from health care and life expectancy to school resources and college admissions. The more we use the word “poverty” to discuss learning and living conditions, the more we speak to social justice because, for many of our students, just getting to the classroom can be a struggle that many of my colleagues can’t comprehend. With the way poverty manifests itself in our schools, schools can’t always take the same trips, have the same lunches, or afford the same speakers to galvanize students. Schools in these environments are more likely to get shut down or restructured, and their teachers and administrators turn over more often because it’s that much more difficult.

On the other, too many of us in communities of color (not just Black or Latino, but Asian-American and Native-American communities too) have seen “highly trained” teachers who come into classrooms with pity and, eventually, resentment when teaching the students there. Many people of color acknowledge the condition they’re in, but they can’t afford for teachers to think of them as “poor” kids. In Latino communities for instance, when they hear “poor,” they also hear pobrecito, which translates to poor thing. People in poverty don’t want others to see their kids as poor things, but as people living in a condition they can’t control right now. They entrust their local institutions to do the best job possible, and for every good or average teacher who buoys up their children, there are those one or two who ruin the experience for a generation, too.

Racism, classism, and sexism manifests not just in the structures that hinder our most troubled schools, but also in many individuals within the system itself, carrying their rather visible knapsacks into our schools and dropping their bag of rocks on our kids.

That resentment leads people to turn to homeschooling or, in more recent times, charter schools. (Mostly white) activists are quick to dismiss the concerns of these parents, so, under the guise of “We want you and those schools don’t,” parents will turn to charter schools in these instances. Of course, it also means we have no idea what happens when our students get into school. For profit schools and the non-profit industrial complex have partnered up to shift the national dialogue about what school means, but those schools have made their names with zero-tolerance discipline policies and rampant de-matriculation too, so perhaps people are too quick to call it a solution.

With folks willing to give away our children of color to poverty pimps and school-to-prison-pipeline funders while so-called progressives build canoes for the kids to swim down the tubes (and all of them thinking they’re working against each other), perhaps political talking points for social justice activists of color just won’t do.

It’s important for all stakeholders to recognize that poverty matters and that achievement is a complex manifestation of environmental factors. It’s also why we shouldn’t treat outliers as miracles nor as rebuttals, but as case studies for us to examine in full (one of my bigger beefs with EdTrust / Doug Reeves 90-90-90 Theory). It’s important for all stakeholders to recognize that, despite and because of this, educators have to work to the best of their abilities because we are what’s left of the social safety net. Educators have to work in the aura of hope because our job is necessarily different, complex, and public. That also means our government officials need to vociferously support and properly fund schools in ways that make equity possible.

Instead of dwelling in the frustration of black parents or using the word “poverty” whenever we need an argument about the achievement of students of color, we’re better off discussing the systemic marriage of poverty and achievement while using our individual pockets of influence to affect change.

This isn’t an either / or argument. It’s a lot closer to the truth than 99% of what I read, though."
2015  poverty  education  schools  racism  class  classism  race  sexism  homeschool  schooltoprisonpipeline  politics  socialjustice  progressivism  acievement  casestudies  publicschools  equity  inequality  josévilson  charterschools 
march 2015 by robertogreco
I don’t know what to do, you guys | Fredrik deBoer
[See also the notes in this bookmark, which reference this article at one point: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:13419c858fc0 ]

"So, to state the obvious: Jon Chait is a jerk who somehow manages to be both condescending and wounded in his piece on political correctness. He gets the basic nature of language policing wrong, and his solutions are wrong, and he’s a centrist Democrat scold who is just as eager to shut people out of the debate as the people he criticizes. That’s true.

Here are some things that are also true.

I have seen, with my own two eyes, a 19 year old white woman — smart, well-meaning, passionate — literally run crying from a classroom because she was so ruthlessly brow-beaten for using the word “disabled.” Not repeatedly. Not with malice. Not because of privilege. She used the word once and was excoriated for it. She never came back. I watched that happen.

I have seen, with my own two eyes, a 20 year old black man, a track athlete who tried to fit organizing meetings around classes and his ridiculous practice schedule (for which he received a scholarship worth a quarter of tuition), be told not to return to those meetings because he said he thought there were such a thing as innate gender differences. He wasn’t a homophobe, or transphobic, or a misogynist. It turns out that 20 year olds from rural South Carolina aren’t born with an innate understanding of the intersectionality playbook. But those were the terms deployed against him, those and worse. So that was it; he was gone.

I have seen, with my own two eyes, a 33 year old Hispanic man, an Iraq war veteran who had served three tours and had become an outspoken critic of our presence there, be lectured about patriarchy by an affluent 22 year old white liberal arts college student, because he had said that other vets have to “man up” and speak out about the war. Because apparently we have to pretend that we don’t know how metaphorical language works or else we’re bad people. I watched his eyes glaze over as this woman with $300 shoes berated him. I saw that. Myself.

These things aren’t hypothetical. This isn’t some thought experiment. This is where I live, where I have lived. These and many, many more depressing stories of good people pushed out and marginalized in left-wing circles because they didn’t use the proper set of social and class signals to satisfy the world of intersectional politics. So you’ll forgive me when I roll my eyes at the army of media liberals, stuffed into their narrow enclaves, responding to Chait by insisting that there is no problem here and that anyone who says there is should be considered the enemy.

By the way: in these incidents, and dozens and dozens of more like it, which I have witnessed as a 30-hour-a-week antiwar activist for three years and as a blogger for the last seven and as a grad student for the past six, the culprits overwhelmingly were not women of color. That’s always how this conversation goes down: if you say, hey, we appear to have a real problem with how we talk to other people, we are losing potential allies left and right, then the response is always “stop lecturing women of color.” But these codes aren’t enforced by women of color, in the overwhelming majority of the time. They’re enforced by the children of privilege. I know. I live here. I am on campus. I have been in the activist meetings and the lefty coffee houses. My perspective goes beyond the same 200 people who write the entire Cool Kid Progressive Media.

Amanda Taub says political correctness “doesn’t exist.” To which I can only ask, how would you know? I don’t understand where she gets that certainty. Is Traub under the impression that the Vox offices represents the breadth of left-wing culture? I read dozens of tweets and hot take after hot take, insisting that there’s no problem here, and it’s coming overwhelmingly from people who have no idea what they’re talking about.

Well, listen, you guys: I don’t know what to do. I am out of ideas. I am willing to listen to suggestions. What do I do, when I see so many good, impressionable young people run screaming from left-wing politics because they are excoriated the first second they step mildly out of line? Megan Garber, you have any suggestions for me, when I meet some 20 year old who got caught in a Twitter storm and determined that she never wanted to set foot in that culture again? I’m all ears. If I’m not allowed to ever say, hey, you know, there’s more productive, more inclusive ways to argue here, then I don’t know what the fuck I am supposed to do or say. Hey, Alex Pareene. I get it. You can write this kind of piece in your sleep. You will always find work writing pieces like that. It’s easy and it’s fun and you can tell jokes and those same 200 media jerks will give you a thousand pats on the back for it. Do you have any advice for me, here, on campus? Do you know what I’m supposed to say to some shellshocked 19 year old from Terra Haute who, I’m very sorry to say, hasn’t had a decade to absorb bell hooks? Can you maybe do me a favor, and instead of writing a piece designed to get you yet-more retweets from Weird Twitter, tell me how to reach these potential allies when I know that they’re going to get burned terribly for just being typical clumsy kids? Since you’re telling me that if I say a word against people who go nuclear at the slightest provocation, I’m just one of the Jon Chaits, please inform me how I can act as an educator and an ally and a friend. Because I am out of fucking ideas.

I know, writing these words, exactly how this will go down. I know Weird Twitter will hoot and the same pack of self-absorbed media liberals will herp de derp about it. I know I’ll get read the intersectionality riot act, even though everyone I’m criticizing here is white, educated, and privileged. I know nobody will bother to say, boy, maybe I don’t actually understand the entire world of left-wing politics because I went to Sarah Lawrence. I know that. But Christ, I wish people would think outside of their social circle for 5 minutes.

Jon Chait is an asshole. He’s wrong. I don’t want these kids to be more like Jon Chait. I sure as hell don’t want them to be less left-wing. I want them to be more left-wing. I want a left that can win, and there’s no way I can have that when the actually-existing left sheds potential allies at an impossible rate. But the prohibition against ever telling anyone to be friendlier and more forgiving is so powerful and calcified it’s a permanent feature of today’s progressivism. And I’m left as this sad old 33 year old teacher who no longer has the slightest fucking idea what to say to the many brilliant, passionate young people whose only crime is not already being perfect."

[also posted here: http://qz.com/335941/im-fed-up-with-political-correctness-and-the-idea-that-everyone-should-already-be-perfect/ ]
freddiedeboer  politics  politicalcorrectness  discourse  2015  culture  pc  jonathanchait  liberalism  liberals  amandataub  megangarber  alexpareene  left  patriarchy  marginaalization  weirdtwitter  gender  race  ableism  racism  sexism  homophobia  inclusion  exclusion  intersectionalpolitics  progressivism  debate  discussion  prohibition  allies  kindness  empathy  inlcusivity  inclusivity 
january 2015 by robertogreco
The American Way over the Nordic Model? Are we crazy? - LA Times
"In my long nomadic life, I've been to both poles and most countries in between. I still remember when to be an American was to be envied. The country where I grew up after World War II seemed to be respected and admired around the world.

Today, as one of 1.6 million Americans living in Europe, I instead face hard questions about our nation. Wherever I travel, Europeans, Asians and Africans ask expatriates like me to explain everything odd or troubling about the conduct of the United States. Polite people, normally reluctant to risk offending a guest, ask pointedly about America's trigger-happiness, cutthroat free-marketeering, and "exceptionality."

Their questions share a single underlying theme: Have Americans gone over the edge? Are you crazy?

At the absolute top of the list: "Why would anyone oppose national healthcare?" Many countries have had some form of national healthcare since the 1930s, Germany since 1880. Some versions, as in France and Britain, have devolved into two-tier public and private systems. Yet even the privileged would not begrudge their fellow citizens government-funded comprehensive healthcare. That so many Americans do strikes Europeans as baffling, if not brutal.

In the Scandinavian countries, long considered to be the most socially progressive in the world, a national (physical and mental) health program is a big part — but only a part — of a more general social welfare system. In Norway, where I live, all citizens also have access to free education from age 6 through specialty training or university; low cost, subsidized preschool; unemployment benefits, job-placement and paid retraining; paid parental leave; old age pensions, and more. These benefits are not a "safety net" — that is, charitable payments grudgingly bestowed upon the needy. They are universal: equally available as a human right, promoting social harmony.

In the Scandinavian countries, long considered to be the most socially progressive in the world, a national (physical and mental) health program is a big part — but only a part — of a more general social welfare system. In Norway, where I live, all citizens also have access to free education from age 6 through specialty training or university; low cost, subsidized preschool; unemployment benefits, job-placement and paid retraining; paid parental leave; old age pensions, and more. These benefits are not a "safety net" — that is, charitable payments grudgingly bestowed upon the needy. They are universal: equally available as a human right, promoting social harmony.

This is the Nordic Model: a balance of regulated capitalism, universal social welfare, political democracy and the highest levels of gender and economic equality on the planet. It's their system, begun in Sweden in the 1930s and developed across Scandinavia in the postwar period. Yes, they pay for it through high taxation. (Though compared with the U.S. tax code, Norway's progressive income tax is remarkably streamlined.) And despite the efforts of an occasional conservative government to muck it up, they maintain it. Why?

They like it. International rankings cite Norway as the best place to grow old, to be a woman and to raise a child. The title of "best" or "happiest" place to live on Earth comes down to a neighborly contest among Norway and the neighboring Nordic social democracies, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland.

All the Nordic countries broadly agree that only when people's basic needs are met — when they cease to worry about jobs, education, healthcare, transportation, etc. — can they truly be free to do as they like. While the U.S. settles for the fantasy that every kid has an equal shot at the American dream, Nordic social welfare systems lay the foundations for a more authentic equality and individualism.

These ideas are not novel. They are implied in the preamble to our own Constitution. You know, the part about "We the People" forming "a more perfect Union" to "promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity."

Knowing this, a Norwegian is appalled at what America is doing to its posterity today. That top chief executives are paid 300 to 400 times as much as an average employee. Or that Govs. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Chris Christie of New Jersey, having run up their state's debts by cutting taxes for the rich, now plan to cover the loss with money snatched from public pension funds. That two-thirds of American college students finish in the red, some owing $100,000 or more. That in the U.S., still the world's richest country, 1 in 3 children lives in poverty. Or that the multitrillion-dollar wars of Presidents George W. Bush and Obama were fought on a credit card, to be paid off by the kids.

Implications of America's uncivilized inhumanity lurk in the questions foreign observers ask me: Why can't you shut down that concentration camp in Cuba? Why can't you stop interfering with women's healthcare? What is it about science and climate change you can't understand?

And the most pressing question of all: Why do you send your military all over the world to stir up trouble for all of us?

Europeans often connect America's reckless conduct abroad to its refusal to put its own house in order. They've watched the United States unravel its flimsy safety net, fail to replace decaying infrastructure, weaken organized labor, bring its national legislature to a standstill and create the greatest degree of economic inequality in almost a century. As they see it, with ever less personal security and next to no social welfare system, Americans are bound to be anxious and fearful. They understand as well why so many Americans have lost trust in a national government that for three decades has done so little for them (save Obama's endlessly embattled modest healthcare effort).

In Norway's capital, where a statue of a contemplative President Franklin D. Roosevelt overlooks the harbor, many America-watchers think he may have been the last U.S. president who understood and could explain to the citizenry what government might do for all of them.

It's hard to pin down why America is as it is today, and — believe me — even harder to explain it to others. Some Europeans who interrogate me say that the U.S. is "crazy" — or "paranoid," "self-absorbed," or simply "behind the times." Others, more charitably, imply that Americans are merely "misguided" or "asleep" and may still recover sanity. But wherever I travel, the questions follow, each suggesting that the United States, if not exactly crazy, is decidedly a danger to itself and others."
2015  annejones  us  healthcare  healthinsurance  socialsafetynet  scandinavia  norway  germany  uk  europe  inequality  equality  americandream  progressivism  socialism  capitalism  politics  policy  parentalleave  pensions  universality  nordiccountries  sweden  denmark  finland  iceland  individualism  equity  education  obamacare  affordablecareact  fdr 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Cornel West: “He posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency” - Salon.com
"TF: So that’s my first question, it’s a lot of ground to cover but how do you feel things have worked out since then, both with the economy and with this president? That was a huge turning point, that moment in 2008, and my own feeling is that we didn’t turn.

CW: No, the thing is he posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency. The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives go free. The war crimes in the Middle East, especially now in Gaza, the war criminals go free. And yet, you know, he acted as if he was both a progressive and as if he was concerned about the issues of serious injustice and inequality and it turned out that he’s just another neoliberal centrist with a smile and with a nice rhetorical flair. And that’s a very sad moment in the history of the nation because we are—we’re an empire in decline. Our culture is in increasing decay. Our school systems are in deep trouble. Our political system is dysfunctional. Our leaders are more and more bought off with legalized bribery and normalized corruption in Congress and too much of our civil life. You would think that we needed somebody—a Lincoln-like figure who could revive some democratic spirit and democratic possibility.

TF: That’s exactly what everyone was saying at the time.

CW: That’s right. That’s true. It was like, “We finally got somebody who can help us turn the corner.” And he posed as if he was a kind of Lincoln.

TF: Yeah. That’s what everyone was saying.

CW: And we ended up with a brown-faced Clinton. Another opportunist. Another neoliberal opportunist. It’s like, “Oh, no, don’t tell me that!” I tell you this, because I got hit hard years ago, but everywhere I go now, it’s “Brother West, I see what you were saying. Brother West, you were right. Your language was harsh and it was difficult to take, but you turned out to be absolutely right.” And, of course with Ferguson, you get it reconfirmed even among the people within his own circle now, you see. It’s a sad thing. It’s like you’re looking for John Coltrane and you get Kenny G in brown skin.



"TF: What on earth ails the man? Why can’t he fight the Republicans? Why does he need to seek a grand bargain?

CW: I think Obama, his modus operandi going all the way back to when he was head of the [Harvard] Law Review, first editor of the Law Review and didn’t have a piece in the Law Review. He was chosen because he always occupied the middle ground. He doesn’t realize that a great leader, a statesperson, doesn’t just occupy middle ground. They occupy higher ground or the moral ground or even sometimes the holy ground. But the middle ground is not the place to go if you’re going to show courage and vision. And I think that’s his modus operandi. He always moves to the middle ground. It turned out that historically, this was not a moment for a middle-ground politician. We needed a high-ground statesperson and it’s clear now he’s not the one.

And so what did he do? Every time you’re headed toward middle ground what do you do? You go straight to the establishment and reassure them that you’re not too radical, and try to convince them that you are very much one of them so you end up with a John Brennan, architect of torture [as CIA Director]. Torturers go free but they’re real patriots so we can let them go free. The rule of law doesn’t mean anything."



TF: One last thing, where are we going from here? What comes next?

CW: I think a post-Obama America is an America in post-traumatic depression. Because the levels of disillusionment are so deep. Thank God for the new wave of young and prophetic leadership, as with Rev. William Barber, Philip Agnew, and others. But look who’s around the presidential corner. Oh my God, here comes another neo-liberal opportunist par excellence. Hillary herself is coming around the corner. It’s much worse. And you say, “My God, we are an empire in decline.” A culture in decay with a political system that’s dysfunctional, youth who are yearning for something better but our system doesn’t provide them democratic venues, and so all we have are just voices in the wilderness and certain truth-tellers just trying to keep alive some memories of when we had some serious, serious movements and leaders.

TF: One last thought, I was talking to a friend recently and we were saying, if things go the way they look like they’re going to go and Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee and then wins a second term, the next time there’ll be a chance for a liberal, progressive president is 2024.

CW: It’d be about over then, brother. I think at that point—Hillary Clinton is an extension of Obama’s Wall Street presidency, drone presidency, national surveillance, national security presidency. She’d be more hawkish than he is, and yet she’s got that strange smile that somehow titillates liberals and neo-liberals and scares Republicans. But at that point it’s even too hard to contemplate.

TF:I know, I always like to leave things on a pessimistic note. I’m sorry. It’s just my nature.

CW: It’s not pessimistic, brother, because this is the blues. We are blues people. The blues aren’t pessimistic. We’re prisoners of hope but we tell the truth and the truth is dark. That’s different."
cornelwest  barackobama  progressivism  liberalism  billclinton  hillaryclinton  us  thomasfrank  2008  2014  blues  hope  pessimism  optimism  alsharpton  democrats  neoliberalism  militaryindustrialcomplex  security  surveillance  drones  war  inequality  ferguson  class  race  statusquo  politics  policy 
august 2014 by robertogreco
The Life and Work of an Institution of Progressive Higher Education: Towards a History of Black Mountain College, 1933-1949 by Jonathan Fisher | BMCS
"This ambitious new democratic structure for the administration of a college was unique to BMC, and to my knowledge has not been repeated on such a scale since. It would mean that teachers, in addition to their classroom and other responsibilities on campus, would also be taking on administrative tasks like bookkeeping, fundraising, hiring of new faculty and student admissions on a rotating basis. This commitment to a radically more democratic organizational structure for the new Black Mountain College would last until the bitter end, despite a list-ditch effort led by Dreier and Albers to alter it in the late 1940s. This attempt ultimately led to the Board of Fellows voting to remove Dreier, who had been on an extended leave of absence, in 1948. Josef and Anni Albers would leave the following year. But it was this radically democratic structure that would attract some of the world’s most visionary artists and teachers to this tiny town in rural Western North Carolina for more than two decades. It was also this structure which would allow the BMC community to move forward on issues of racial integration in the 1930s and ‘40s—decades before such attempts would be made at larger, more established colleges in the southeastern United States. It was ultimately John Dewey’s principles of progressive education that were at the foundation of these radical organizational structures, which were adopted by BMC’s founders.

During the first five years of Black Mountain College’s existence, things went remarkably smoothly. Of course finding enough money was always a problem. It was the height of the Great Depression in the United States and despite Rice, Dreier and Albers’ best efforts, BMC had never managed to secure more than minimal financial support for their new experimental progressive institution. A budget drawn up by Dreier in the first year of BMC totaled $32,000, with staff salaries totaling less than $2000, excluding Albers’ salary of $1000 annually, which was supported separately by an individual benefactor (Duberman, 1972, p.71). In these early years there were none of the scandals or disputes that would plague the community later on in the ‘30s and ‘40s. Furthermore, the college’s system of governance appeared to be working. And efforts at self-sustainability were taken on unflinchingly. A student-run cooperative store was set up on campus as well as a print shop and a cottage school for the community’s youngest members (ibid.). In addition to their academic work, students engaged in projects ranging from the staffing of the various cooperative enterprises set up on campus, to the manufacture of bookshelves, curtains and other furnishings for campus buildings. These activities helped supplement the goods available to them on the campus they were leasing from a Christian group, which used it for a summer camp for just a few months each year.

Among the highlights of these early years of the college were two visits by John Dewey, who in 1936 began serving officially as a member of BMC’s Advisory Council. Both of Dewey’s visits took place during the 1934-35 school year. It is unclear from the correspondence in the North Carolina Archives whether or not Dewey ever visited the campus again. But these two early visits set a precedent, which caused BMC faculty—especially Rice and Dreier— to request future visits, which always seem never to have quite worked out (e.g. Dreier [to Dewey] April 6, 1938; Dewey [to Dreier] April 13, 1938). In one of the oldest Dewey letters in the BMC General Collection of the North Carolina Archives, which is handwritten on Columbia University Department of Philosophy letterhead, Dewey expresses his regrets at not being able to pay Rice and the others at BMC a visit during the fall of 1936. He writes of postponing his planned visit until the spring, “when I hope to see the countryside and the flowers at their best” (Dewey [to John Rice] October 29, 1936)."



"Ultimately Dewey remained committed to his position on the Advisory council until the late 40s. A final lengthy unsent hand-written letter from Dreier addressed to Dewey provides a grim picture of the final days of Dreier’s involvement in college affairs (Dreier [unsent letter to John Dewey] 1947, July). Duberman has described in less sympathetic terms Dreier and Albers’ ploy to wrest control of BMC from the faculty and hand it over to a new Board of Trustees. At the root of Dreier’s decision, as usual, was a concern for the financial stability of the college. Black Mountain had never been officially accredited by the State of North Carolina, and student enrollment was too unreliable (Duberman p.484-5). But this was just one of many problems facing BMC in the late 40s. Dreier despairs in his unsent letter at the difficulty of finding good teachers who are also capable and willing college administrators:
Our program, a pretty real thing to [Albers] and me, was not much more than words to most new [faculty] members with one or two notable exceptions… One way of looking at the present difficulty is to say that we simply haven’t been able to get the staff we need. If we could get an adequate team that could pull together, then I think we could raise the money we need (Dreier [unsent letter to Dewey] 1947, July).

So, Dreier’s concerns are both immediate and practical, but no less frustrating for their immediacy or practicality. He is trying to escape a catch-22 of money and talent. But also, more tellingly, Dreier writes:
Another way of looking at our trouble is that our program has become unclear, conviction has sagged… Hardly anybody sees what’s wrong, but gradually the whole thing is sagging toward breaking (ibid.).

Dreier’s pain and frustration are palpable here. The emotion of this letter is even intensified by the fact that he decided not to send it to his mentor, Dewey. But this unsent letter to Dewey shows the philosophers’ influence as a guiding voice for Dreier, Albers and other faculty at BMC in the 1940s. Dreier, in writing this letter seems to be implicitly asking himself, “what would Dewey do?” not because John Dewey was some all-knowing being, capable of rescuing Black Mountain College from dire financial straits, but because Dewey’s pragmatist method of evaluating experience and taking action had been the basis for everything he had helped create at BMC over the course of the previous 15 years.

The changes in administrative structure that Dreier alludes to in his final unsent letter to Dewey, which he and Albers attempted to implement as a last-ditch effort at financial solvency for BMC, ultimately failed to stick. The ensuing crisis ended in Dreier and Albers being forced to leave. Ironically, strict adherence to the Deweyan progressive educational principle of professional autonomy, which was at the core of Rice’s idea for Black Mountain College, and which Dreier resigned from Rollins in support of, was the same issue that brought Dreier and Albers careers at BMC to an end when they switched sides. In other words, the same philosophical inclination that justified the founding of BMC in 1933 remained and kept BMC on its own radical trajectory in the late 40s, even when figures like Dreier and Albers stepped in to try to change the way the college was organized. So, on the one hand, Albers and Dreier failed at prolonging the life of BMC. But, on the other hand, even in this final failure on Dreier and Albers’s part— in their capitulation to the mainstream bureaucratic structure of higher education, the creation of a non-faculty Board of Trustees which would have had hiring and firing power for BMC— illustrates that the college retained that uniquely Deweyan pragmatist orientation and progressivism. When the community became aware of the changes that Dreier and Albers had gotten underway, they acted democratically to kick Dreier and Albers out!"
bmc  blackmountaincollege  education  progressive  progressiveeducation  johnndewey  johnandrewsrice  josefalbers  theodoredreier  democracy  tcsnmy  progressivism  compromise  annialbers  pragmatism  democratic  democraticschools  unschooling  deschooling  experience  complexity  cv  lcproject  openstudioproject 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Plutocrats at Work: How Big Philanthropy Undermines Democracy | Dissent Magazine
"From the start, the mega-foundations provoked hostility across the political spectrum. To their many detractors, they looked like centers of plutocratic power that threatened democratic governance. Setting up do-good corporations, critics said, was merely a ploy to secure the wealth and clean up the reputations of business moguls who amassed fortunes during the Gilded Age. Consider the reaction to John D. Rockefeller’s initial request for a charter from the U.S. Senate (he eventually received one from New York State):
In spite of his close ties to big business, Progressive presidential candidate Theodore Roosevelt opposed the effort, claiming that “no amount of charity in spending such fortunes [as Rockefeller’s] can compensate in any way for the misconduct in acquiring them.” The conservative Republican candidate, William Howard Taft denounced the effort as “a bill to incorporate Mr. Rockefeller.” Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, sneered that “the one thing that the world would gratefully accept from Mr. Rockefeller now would be the establishment of a great endowment of research and education to help other people see in time how they can keep from being like him.”*



One hundred years later, big philanthropy still aims to solve the world’s problems—with foundation trustees deciding what is a problem and how to fix it. They may act with good intentions, but they define “good.” The arrangement remains thoroughly plutocratic: it is the exercise of wealth-derived power in the public sphere with minimal democratic controls and civic obligations. Controls and obligations include filing an annual IRS form and (since 1969) paying an annual excise tax of up to 2 percent on net investment income. There are regulations against self-dealing, lobbying (although “educating” lawmakers is legal), and supporting candidates for public office. In reality, the limits on political activity barely function now: loopholes, indirect support for groups that do political work, and scant resources for regulators have crippled oversight.

Because they are mostly free to do what they want, mega-foundations threaten democratic governance and civil society (defined as the associational life of people outside the market and independent of the state). When a foundation project fails—when, say, high-yield seeds end up forcing farmers off the land or privately operated charter schools displace and then underperform traditional public schools—the subjects of the experiment suffer, as does the general public. Yet the do-gooders can simply move on to their next project. Without countervailing forces, wealth in capitalist societies already translates into political power; big philanthropy reinforces this tendency.

Although this plutocratic sector is privately governed, it is publicly subsidized. Private foundations fall into the IRS’s wide-open category of tax-exempt organizations, which includes charitable, educational, religious, scientific, literary, and other groups. When the creator of a mega-foundation says, “I can do what I want because it’s my money,” he or she is wrong. A substantial portion of the wealth—35 percent or more, depending on tax rates—has been diverted from the public treasury, where voters would have determined its use.

The main rationale for both the tax exemption and the charitable contribution tax deduction (created in 1917) is to stimulate private giving. Yet this is a weak rationale when applied to the super-rich; a more effective way to stimulate their giving would be to raise the estate and capital gains taxes. It is a meaningless rationale for the 65 percent of American taxpayers who don’t itemize their deductions and therefore can’t use the charity tax break.

Despite scores of studies, the relationship of charitable giving to tax incentives remains unclear. Too many different factors determine giving: religiosity, innate altruism, family tradition, social attitudes, community ties, alumni loyalty, fluctuations in income. But other patterns of giving are well known. Less than 10 percent of all charity in the United States addresses basic human needs. The wealthiest donors devote an even tinier portion of their giving to these needs. Most major donations go to universities and colleges, hospitals, and cultural institutions, often for highly visible building projects carrying the donor’s name (New York Times, September 6, 2007).

Another public subsidy to private foundations comes from the “5 percent minimum payout requirement.” To prevent private foundations from hoarding all their wealth, the 1969 tax reform requires them to make grants annually that equal or exceed about 5 percent of their endowment’s value. There is, however, a loophole. The payout includes all “reasonable” foundation administrative expenses—from salaries and trustee fees to travel, receptions, office supplies, equipment, rent, and new headquarters. Only the cost of financially managing the endowment is excluded. Thus an extravagant “lifestyle” can cost a wealthy foundation nothing: any part of the 5 percent payout that a foundation doesn’t spend on itself must go to grants anyway.



A Modest Proposal

Big philanthropy is overdue for reform. The goal should be to reduce its leverage in civil society and public policymaking while increasing government revenue. Some possible changes seem obvious: don’t allow administrative expenses to count toward the 5 percent minimum payout, increase the excise tax on net investment income, eliminate the tax exemption for foundations with assets over a certain size, and replace the charity tax deduction with a tax credit available to everyone (for example, all donors could subtract 15 percent of the total value of their charitable contributions from their tax bills). In addition, strict IRS oversight of big philanthropy—especially all the “educating” that looks so much like lobbying and campaigning—is crucial.

Another reform would require private foundations to “spend down” their endowments over a designated number of years. They would no longer exist in perpetuity. This idea has some promise of success: the living donors of several mega-foundations, including Bill and Melinda Gates, have already decided to spend down and are recruiting others to do the same.

The foundation sector will fight reform ferociously—as it has in the past. When asked to forgo some influence or contribute more in taxes, the altruistic impulse stalls. The foundation sector acts like any other powerful interest group. The Obama administration, for example, tried several times to lower the charitable deduction cap, but the foundation lobby battled each effort successfully. Still, the reforms are sound, necessary, and worth pursuing.

Meanwhile, the public needs more critical, in-depth information. The mainstream media are, for the most part, failing miserably in their watchdog duties. They give big philanthropy excessive deference and little scrutiny. Public television and radio live on big philanthropy’s largess. Collaborative programming with mega-foundations has undermined the credibility of major for-profit news organizations as well as public media, especially on health and education issues.

Early twentieth-century skeptics were rightly suspicious of plutocrats deciding how to improve the human condition and then paying to translate their notions into public policy. Now it’s time for a new progressive era—complete with muckrakers and trust-busters to cast a critical eye on big philanthropy."
philantropy  charity  us  influence  corruption  wealth  power  capitalism  taxes  charitableindustrialcomplex  lausd  joannebarkan  progressivism  history  plutocracy  2013  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  control 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Formalism Over Function: Compulsion, Courts, and the Rise of Educational Formalism in America, 1870–1930
"the history of compulsory education is also the history of the rise of educational formalism, and the courts played an important, and as yet unrecognized, role in legitimating and facilitating a vision of schooling that privileged certainty and order over substance and complexity [...]

Courts, in [the] first decades of compulsory education, understood compulsory laws as a means of obtaining the desired end of an educated citizenry (ie: "outcome-driven"), not as a means of creating a uniform system of schooling.

[phase 2] As the number of legislative enactments exploded, the courts abandoned their outcome-driven tests of education for a simpler conception that education could only occur at school [which was inline with the "Progressive reform" effort that placed schools at the center of a growing governmental apparatus of child protection and welfare.]"
education  us  history  government  law  schools  language  progressivism  compulsory  formalism  ethanhutt  via:Taryn 
september 2013 by robertogreco
The Artist Who Talks With the Fishes - NYTimes.com
"Jeremijenko suddenly jumped off the pier’s southernmost lip, landing on a weathered wooden walkway below. She withdrew the three coils of rope and used the box cutter to cut a roughly 20-foot length from each coil. She tied one end of each rope to a different pylon and cast the other end into the river. The ropes were made from both natural and artificial fibers. “It’s early in the mussel spawning season, so their spat is floating around everywhere; this is a little experiment to see which sorts of materials they’re drawn to,” Jeremijenko said. “My primary interest is in the mussels’ spectacular adaptability. That puts me in a different class from traditional conservationism. I’m interested in how organisms adapt to the Anthropocene” — the era of human activity on earth — “as opposed to the Sierra Club ‘conserve and preserve’ way of thinking.”"



"The daughter of a physician father and schoolteacher mother, Jeremijenko grew up in the coastal Australian city Brisbane, with nine siblings. An overachieving, Tenenbaum-ish brood, her brothers and sisters have worked as politicians, academics, coal miners, pilots, professional footballers and movie stuntmen. Natalie has collaborated on projects with several of them, and she integrates her creative activity with her personal life in other, more radical, ways — in a sly affront to “you can’t have it all,” she has delivered lectures while breast-feeding. “Experimenting with your own life is the most fundamental medium we have,” she told me.

Jeremijenko’s experimental streak extended to the naming of her kids. Her oldest daughter is Mister Jamba-Djang Vladimir Ulysses Hope (Jamba for short); her daughter with Conley is E (what “E” stands for is up to E, but so far she has decided to stick with the initial); and their son is Yo Xing Heyno Augustus Eisner Alexander Weiser Knuckles. “I had wanted to give our boy an ethnically ambiguous name to challenge assumptions about race and assimilation,” Conley wrote in a 2010 essay. “For all the Asian-American Howards out there, shouldn’t there be a light-haired, blue-eyed white kid named Yo Xing?”

For a spell, Jeremijenko got around, even indoors, on Rollerblades, which reflected her fascination with “alternate forms of urban mobility.” In her ideal metropolis, more people would commute by zip-line; in 2011, she and Haque installed a temporary system in downtown Toronto, which riders navigated with a large pair of wings, and she is now hoping to take it to the Bronx."



"She has the imagination of a think tank, the agenda of a nonprofit and the infrastructure of neither. In order to implement her ideas, she relies heavily on municipal programs, community organizations and the support of academic and art-world institutions. (At N.Y.U. she runs something called the Environmental Health Clinic, where anyone can make an appointment to discuss ways to remedy health hazards like airborne pollutants and storm-water runoff. She has had hundreds of meetings; one project turned cotton candy, a summer treat, into a more nutritious snack, using isomalt, a sugar substitute, edible flowers and high-protein bee pollen.)

But Jeremijenko has also begun experimenting with ideas for the free market, and one in particular seems ripe for some eco-minded venture capitalist to champion. She wants to encourage the production of water-buffalo-milk ice cream, which, in addition to being marvelously creamy, she says, would encourage the creation of much-needed wetlands, on which water buffalo graze. About a year ago, she says, she gave an informal presentation to representatives of Unilever, which owns Ben & Jerry’s, where she flaunted her fluency in “the topography and runoff issues affecting Vermont farmers” and showed mock labels she designed for the delicacy. Next, she plans to approach the company’s marketing department, hoping to leverage “the image of Ben & Jerry’s as a progressive, socially conscious brand,” she said."
nataliejeremijenko  2013  art  science  anthropocene  socialpracticeart  environment  environmentalism  sierraclub  progressivism  funding  health  conservation  conservationism  ethnicity  names  naming  life  living  glvo  howwelive  creativity 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Libraries & Occupations on Vimeo
"A history talk comparing the libraries of today's Occupation movements in Wall Street and elsewhere to the reading rooms of the Chartist movement of 19th-century Britain."
matthewbattles  ows  occupywallstreet  libraries  history  2012  chartists  readingrooms  progressivism 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Creating Distinctiveness: Lessons from Uncommon Colleges and Universities [PDF]
"Distinctive colleges and universities, as opposed to the great majority which fit into a more or less standardized mold, possess a unifying theme or vision which is expressed in all their activities. They often respond to newly emerging societal or community needs unmet by existing colleges and universities; they challenge conventional ideas about higher education and inspire greater engagement by students and faculty in undergraduate education. However, distinctiveness can also limit the institution to a very small market niche as well as sometimes making it more difficult for it to adapt to the changes necessary for survival. Strategic management models, such as the interpretive and adaptive models, need to be employed to aid distinctive colleges and universities to survive and grow. Recommendations for higher education leaders contemplating whether to pursue distinctiveness include: (1) identifying institutional values, followed by clarification, communication, and acting on unifying the values and themes found; (2) conducting a situation analysis to determine if the school is a likely candidate for distinctiveness; (3) selecting the desired level of market exposure; and (4) performing market research to uncover markets to which the college or university can appeal. Contains over 150 references and an index."
education  history  antiochcollege  blackmountaincollege  colleges  universities  learning  collegeoftheatlantic  evergreenstatecollege  stjohn'scollege  universityofchicago  universityofwisconsin  experiments  experimental  progressive  progressiveeducation  alternative  via:mayonissen  bereacollege  reed  reedcollege  ephemerality  change  ephemeral  popupschools  unschooling  deschooling  deepspringscollege  1992  barbaratownsend  ljacksonnewell  michaelwiese  gamechanging  distinctivecolleges  highered  highereducation  progressivism  bmc 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Maverick Colleges: Ten Noble Experiments in American Undergraduate Education (1993)
[Second edition (1996) of the book with some additional schools here in PDF: https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/experimental-study-group/es-291-learning-seminar-experiments-in-education-spring-2003/readings/MITES_291S03_maverick.pdf ]

[Wayback:
http://web.archive.org/web/20130730023648/http://www.mit.edu/~jrising/webres/maverick.txt
https://web.archive.org/web/19961105162647/http://www.gse.utah.edu/EdAdm/Galvin/Maverick.html ]

"This book is a product of a University of Utah graduate seminar conducted in the spring of 1991: "Notable Experiments in American Higher Education" (Educational Administration 728). The contributing authors are professor of educational administration L. Jackson Newell and seminar students, each of whom selected an innovative, or "experimental," college for research and reporting."

"Common Themes:

As seminar participants exchanged findings about the ten selected colleges, several prominent themes emerged that had not been predetermined by selection criteria but appeared to indicate common postures among experimental colleges. These include:

• Ideals spawning ideas. In most cases, the ten colleges appeared to start with the ideals of visionary founders. For some, the ideal concerned the citizens who would emerge from the learning experience …

• Emphasis on teaching; retreat from research. The vast majority of experimental colleges are liberal education colleges where the art of teaching and the development of students are values of high esteem. …

• Organization without specialization. Not unexpectedly, these experimental colleges also tended to turn away from the disciplinary organization of scholarship that had sprung from the German research university model. …

• Administrative innovations. Freedom from traditional higher education bureaucracy and hierarchy have been common pursuits of the colleges studied. …

Divergent Approaches:

Just as common themes instruct us about the aims and aspirations of various experimental colleges, so too do their divergent approaches. Two notable areas of difference among the colleges focus on who should attend and how their learning might best be organized during the college years."

[Bits from the section on Black Mountain College:]

"Its educational commitment--to democratic underpinnings for learning that comes from "human contact, through a fusion of mind and emotion" (Du Plessix-Gray 1952:10)-- was reflective of a larger liberal environment that managed a brief appearance before the 1950s ushered in fear of Communism and love of television."



"Rice and his colleagues had stronger convictions about how a college should operate than about how and what students might learn. Democracy would be paramount in the administration of the college, and structure would be loose. Students and faculty joined in marathon, long-winded decision-making meetings with decisions ranging from a faculty termination to a library acquisition.

Particularly prominent, and vital to the democratic underpinnings envisioned by Rice, was the absence of any outside governing body. Rice had determined that control exerted by boards of trustees and college presidents rendered faculty participation meaningless, limiting faculty to debate, "with pitiable passion, the questions of hours, credits, cuts. . . . They bring the full force of their manhood to bear on trivialities. They know within themselves that they can roam at will only among minutiae of no importance" (Adamic, 1938:624).

The faculty did establish a three-member "Board of Fellows," elected from among them and charged with running the business affairs of the College. Within a year, a student member was added to the Board."



"The 23-year history of Black Mountain College was one of few constants and much conflict. Three forceful leaders marked three distinct periods during the 23 years: the John Rice years, the Josef Albers decade, and the Charles Olson era.

During the first 5 years of the College, a solidarity of philosophy and community gradually took shape. It revolved largely around John Rice's outgoing personality (much intelligence and much laughter mark most reports from colleagues and students) and forceful opinions about education. He was determined, for example, that every student should have some experience in the arts.

This translated as at least an elementary course in music, dramatics and/or drawing, because:
There is something of the artist in everyone, and the development of this talent, however small, carrying with it a severe discipline of its own, results in the student's becoming more and more sensitive to order in the world and within himself than he can ever possibly become through intellectual effort alone. (Adamic 1938:626)

Although he cautioned against the possible tyranny of the community, Rice eventually decided that some group activity would,
…help the individual be complete, aware of his relation to others. Wood chopping, road-mending, rolling the tennis courts, serving tea in the afternoon, and other tasks around the place help rub off individualistic corners and give people training in assuming responsibility. (Ibid, 1938:627)



"Rice soon discovered what he would later call the "three Alberses"--the teacher, the social being and the Prussian. The Prussian Albers decried the seeming lack of real leadership at the College and the free-wheeling, agenda-less, community-wide meetings. Rice noted later, "You can't talk to a German about liberty. You just waste your breath. They don't know what the hell you mean" (Duberman 1972:69)."



"The war years ushered in a different kind of Black Mountain; one where students, and at least some faculty members, started lobbying for more structure in learning, but yet more freedom outside the classroom. Lectures and recitations were starting to occur within the classroom, while cut-off blue jeans and nude sun bathing appeared outside. Influential faculty member Eric Bentley insisted to his colleagues: "I can't teach history if they're not prepared to do some grinding, memorizing, getting to know facts and dates and so on…" (Duberman 1972:198). Needless to say, with Albers and many of the original faculty still on board, faculty meetings were decisive and volatile.

Overshadowing this dissent, however, was a new program that was to highlight at least the public notion of a historical "saga" for the College, the summer institutes. Like much at Black Mountain, the summer institutes started more by chance than choice."



"The summer institutes grew throughout the 1940s to include notable talents in art, architecture, music and literature. And it is probably these institutes and the renown of the individuals in attendance that contributed most to Black Mountain's reputation as an art school."



The excitement and publicity generated by the summer sessions, in addition to a general higher education population explosion spurred by the G.I. Bill, put the Black Mountain College of the late 1940s on its healthiest economic footing yet.

Still, Black Mountain managed to avoid financial stability. Student turnover negated some of the volume gains. Faculty salaries rose substantially, but grants and endowments did not. Stephen Forbes, for example, who had always been counted on to supply money to the College in tough times, refused a request in 1949 because he was disenchanted with the new emphasis on arts education at the expense of general education. The ability to manage what money it had also did not increase at Black Mountain, although Josef Albers proposed a reorganization that would include administrators and an outside board of overseers. In the wake of arguments and recriminations about the financial situation and how to solve it, a majority (by one vote) of the faculty called for the resignation of Ted Dreier, the last remaining faculty member from the founding group. In protest, four other faculty members resigned--including Josef and Anni Albers. By selling off some of the campus acreage, the remaining faculty managed to save the College and retain its original mindset of freedom from outside boards and administrators, while setting the stage for yet another era in its history [Charles Olson].



"What Albers lacked in administrative ability, he compensated for in tenacity and focus. What Rice lacked in administrative ability, he balanced with action and ideas. However, when Olson couldn't manage the administrative function, he simply retreated. His idea about turning the successful summer institutes into a similar series of year-long institutes fell on deaf faculty ears. So he gave up trying to strengthen the regular program."



"The vast majority of former Black Mountain students can point to clear instances of lasting influence on the rest of their lives. Mostly, this seems to have occurred through association: with one or two faculty members who made a difference, with a "community" of fellow individuals who were essential resources to one another, or with a new area of endeavor such as painting or writing or farming. Black Mountain, apparently, was a place where association was encouraged. Perhaps this occurred through the relatively small number of people shouldered into an isolated valley, perhaps by a common dedication to the unconventional, or perhaps to the existence of ideals about learning and teaching. At any rate, the encouragement of association with people and with ideas was not the norm in higher education then, nor is it now. Clearly, it is possible to graduate from most colleges and universities today with little, if any, significant association with faculty, students or ideas.

But at Black Mountain, as at other experimental colleges, association could hardly be avoided. Engagement with people and ideas was paramount; activity was rampant. It was social, and it was educational. As Eric Bentley would remark:

Where, as at Black Mountain, there is a teacher to every three students the advantage is evident. . .a means to … [more]
deepspringscollege  reed  reedcollege  stjohn'scollege  prescottcollege  bereacollege  colleges  alternative  alternativeeducation  lcproject  openstudioproject  experientialeducation  unschooling  deschooling  1991  ljacksonnewell  katherinereynolds  keithwilson  eannadams  cliffordcrelly  kerrienaylor  zandilenkbinde  richardsperry  ryotakahashi  barbrawardle  antiochcollege  antioch  hierarchy  organizations  ephemeral  leadership  teaching  learning  education  schools  research  visionaries  ideals  idealism  specialization  generalists  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  crosspollination  transdisciplinary  innovation  freedom  bureaucracy  universityofchicago  collegeoftheatlantic  democracy  democraticeducation  structure  ephemerality  popupschools  small  smallschools  josefalbers  charlesolson  johnandrewrice  lucianmarquis  highered  highereducation  progressivism  blackmountaincollege  bmc  maverickcolleges  evergreenstatecollege  experientiallearning  miamidadecommunitycollege  ucsantacruz  monteithcollege  fairhavencollege  westernwashingtonuniv 
may 2013 by robertogreco
acts of Frankenstein | the m john harrison blog
"Brutalise all plans & conceptions. Lose patience with last 10 years of ideas, now seen as prison. Bolt wrong components to wrong components! Sustained acts of Frankenstein & self-piracy! Address current emotional issues not 5 year old ones! New observations/notes; new philosophical/political insight; new structural problems/solutions. New imagery. Sense of adventure. Sense of risk in the material. Explore & affront your hopes for yourself. Glee at breaking own definitions & taboos. Carnage in the files. Parameters missing at the outset may be the things that writing will show you. In the end you have to get frightened enough to push down the pillars of your own establishment."
examinedlife  progressivism  progressive  deschooling  unschooling  perspective  self-examination  criticalthinking  mindchanging  mindchanges  notetaking  observations  observation  frankenstein  rebirth  establishment  disestablishment  fear  writing  radicalism  taboos  challenge  change  freedom  self-piracy  exploration  risk  2012  via:robinsonmeyer  yearoff  cv  shaking  canon  mjohnharrison  from delicious
december 2012 by robertogreco
Hullabaloo: California's supermajority: use it or lose it, by Robert Cruickshank
"Political reality, then, makes it absolutely clear that Democrats need to deliver meaningful improvements to people's daily lives if they are going to keep their supermajority. However, that doesn't mean they should just pass whatever they want. Legislators should assume any tax increase or substantial policy action will be put on the ballot for a referendum by wealthy conservatives. Democratic leaders will need to work hand-in-hand with California's progressive movement to determine and then implement a reform agenda over the next two years. Only by a coordinated effort will that reform agenda withstand the certain counterrevolution from the rich that would come at the November 2014 ballot.

What should that agenda look like? Here are just a few ideas:

Make it even easier to vote…
Bring even more revenue to the schools…
Make sure every Californian gets good health care…
Do something to create jobs…
Fix the Constitution…"
elections  referendums  legistlature  progressivism  democrats  mandate  texes  education  schools  singlepayerhealthsystem  singlepayer  healthcare  jobs  proposition13  government  supermajority  constitution  california  2012  robertcruickshank  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
The Philanthropic Complex
"The truth is that organizations whose missions foreground the “sociological and spiritual” go mostly without funding. Take for instance the sad tale of the Center for the New American Dream (NAD), created in 1997 by Betsy Taylor (herself a funder with the Merck Family Fund). NAD’s original mission statement gave a priority to “quality of life” issues.

We envision a society that values more of what matters—not just more…a new emphasis on non-material values like financial security, fairness, community, health, time, nature, and fun.

This is exactly the sort of “big picture” that philanthropy has been mostly unwilling to fund because, it argues, it is so difficult to provide “accountability” data for issues like “work and time” and “fun” (!). (To which one might reasonably reply, “Why do you fund only those things that are driven by data?”)…

One of the most maddening experiences for those who seek the support of private philanthropy is the lack of transparency…"
nonprofits  halclifford  orion  markets  publicadvocacy  nad  newamericandream  95-5  corruption  investment  conflictsofinterest  gatesfoundation  transparency  anonymity  self-preservation  wealth  thephilanthropiccomplex  privilege  mediocrity  influence  wallstreet  2012  riskmanagement  ngo  biggreen  environmentalism  change  government  policy  environment  restrictedgifts  control  fear  foundations  jacobinmag  progressivism  power  money  capitalism  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  nonprofit  from delicious
june 2012 by robertogreco
The Principle of Hope - The MIT Press
"The Principle of Hope is one of the great works of the human spirit. It is a critical history of the utopian vision and a profound exploration of the possible reality of utopia. Even as the world has rejected the doctrine on which Bloch sought to base his utopia, his work still challenges us to think more insightfully about our own visions of a better world."
optimism  wishfulimages  not-yet-conscious  philosophyofprocess  philosophy  progressive  progressivism  socialjustice  ernstbloch  hope  utopia  via:litherland  toread  books 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Capitalism only creates misery – we need a system that puts human wellbeing first | Comment is free | The Guardian
"…appeal to give up pursuit of wealth isn't an automatic vote-winner. But the alternative to the pursuit of riches is pursuit of a richer vision: neither austerity nor excessive wealth, but rather "sufficiency plus", where needs are met, & then some, while a fuller understating of human welfare is championed.

Having less can be more. Too much choice is not liberating. There is something to be said for rhythms of life, for patience & delayed gratification, where everything isn't available instantaneously. Seasons are enjoyed because they aren't there all year round. 50-hour weeks come at the expense of family & friends. That's if we have a job at all.

As well as robbing us of our lives, the system pits us against one another in an endless quest for more, which fuels greater inequality, dissatisfaction and unfulfilment—for both the winners & losers. We feel left behind our neighbours & other countries if we don't better ourselves economically. We have forgotten who the economy is for."
socialism  paradoxofchoice  choice  patience  delayedgratification  simplicity  sustainability  environment  progressive  progressivism  materialism  humanism  jonathanbartley  economics  policy  politics  uk  well-being  consumerism  wealth  greenparty  marxism  capitalism  from delicious
january 2012 by robertogreco
Take ‘Em To Task - Smiley & West
"A minister from Ventura, CA takes West to task on the terms "progressives" vs "liberals"."
cornelwest  travissmiley  liberalism  progressivism  liberals  progressives  definitions  language  politics  economics  2011  from delicious
august 2011 by robertogreco
The Bad Deal | Common Dreams
"The debt deal will make things clear. The President is not a progressive – he is not what Americans still call a “liberal.” He is a willful player in an epic drama of faux-politics, an operative for the money power, whose job is to neutralize the left with fear and distraction and then to pivot rightward and deliver a conservative result. What Barack Obama got from the debt deal was exactly what his sponsors have wanted: a long-term lock-in of domestic spending cuts, and a path toward severe cuts in the core New Deal and Great Society insurance programs – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. And, of course, no tax increases at all."<br />
<br />
[via: http://bettyann.tumblr.com/post/8971231613 ]
barackobama  jamesgalbraith  politics  2011  policy  progressivism  neoliberalism  from delicious
august 2011 by robertogreco
Lawrence Lessig: Neo-Progressives
"every 100 years, body politic we call America swells with fever as it fights off a democracy-destroying disease [of] "Special Interest Government," government captured by economically powerful, as they find a way to convert economic into political power…now entered 3rd of these cycles…corruption of today is in plain sight…Some of us thought Obama was our Jackson…feels embarrassingly naive today…Arianna Huffington has become a leader…Along w/ scholar/activists such as Elizabeth Warren, Simon Johnson, Joseph Stiglitz & Robert Reich, & maybe even come-back-kid politicians like Eliot Spitzer…Progressivism in its best sense is not just a politics of Left…needs to be willing to put aside part of the agenda of each w/in movement, recognizing that no change, on Right or Left, will happen until the fever is broken…Mainstream parties have lost the credibility for reform. As in 1912, only a breakaway, trans-party movement, possibly with no single leader, could have an effect in 2012."
politics  progressive  2010  2012  history  classideas  us  neo-progressives  teaparty  elizabethwarren  eliotspitzer  simonjohnson  larrylessig  josephstiglitz  robertreich  ariannahuffington  barackobama  corruption  specialinterests  money  power  influence  middleclass  democracy  government  progressivism  via:cburell  republicans  democrats  from delicious
september 2010 by robertogreco
Derek Powazek - San Francisco Values
"I’ve lived in San Francisco for 15 years, which is 15 years more than anyone connected to this ad [in support of Proposition 8]. San Francisco changed my life. I found a career here. I was married here. I bought property here. I’m never, ever leaving. So I think I can speak to what San Francisco Values really are. Here are a few of them. [Bulleted list here]…

I believe San Franciscans embody the best American values: bravery, liberty, tolerance, and opportunity. I look around San Francisco and I see people who risked everything to move to a place where they could be free. People who decided, out a mix of idealism and insanity, that they could make a more perfect union that values life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

San Francisco values and American values are one and the same."
sanfrancisco  rights  politics  humanity  us  derekpowazek  values  pride  bravery  freedom  liberty  toleranceopportunity  progressivism  reinvention  perseverance  love  coffee  community  coffeehouses  idealism  from delicious
september 2010 by robertogreco
click opera - The underclass wants to become the overman!
"Progressive politics, for me, has to go back to Marx's basic, positive, clear and forceful idea (it was William Morris's too) that ability is the true human capital. We have to stop associating creativity with privilege or class. All human beings are creative. That, rather than problems or victimhood, is what's at the core of an individual, a class, a nation, and the species itself."
momus  progressivism  human  victimhood  humancapital  karlmarx  politics  creativity 
december 2009 by robertogreco
La Red de Luis Ramirez » Chile del Bicentenario: The Latin American Texas
"Chile transformó a la UDI en partido mayoritario. El Bicentenario no será tiempo de liberales o progresistas sino de los más conservadores. Esa fue la opción de la democracia chilena. ... El “Bicentenario UDI” que Chile se regaló nos aleja de las naciones liberales que al menos a mi me gustaría seguir imitando. En 2010, Chile será más parecido a Texas. Yo no estoy feliz con eso, pero respeto la voluntad de la gente."
chile  politics  2009  progressivism  conservatives 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Race and the new urbanism « Snarkmarket
"This is some­thing I think about a lot, not least because I’m an aspir­ing col­lege pro­fes­sor mar­ried to an urban plan­ning stu­dent who is also a black lady. Who doesn’t drive. And we have kids."

[references: http://www.newgeography.com/content/001110-the-white-city ]
race  cities  progressive  progressivism  us  portland  seattle  austin  minneapolis  sanfrancisco  snarkmarket  politics  urban  urbanism  planning  society  comparison  diversity  boston  nyc 
october 2009 by robertogreco
quote for the afternoon | The League of Ordinary Gentlemen
"The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.” ~ G.K. Chesterton"
politics  democrats  conservatism  conservatives  progressives  progressivism  change  mistakes 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: What is progressivism?
"Progressive policies offer more scope for individualism and some kinds of freedom. Greater security gives people a greater chance to develop themselves as individuals in important spheres of life, not just money-making and risk protection and winning relative status games."
politics  economics  tylercowen  progressives  progressivism  marginalrevolution  philosophy  policy  ideology  democrats  liberalism 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Half an Hour: Tax Credits: The Oregon Example
"Oregon, especially, has been the locus for numerous quality-of-life reforms over the years.

Look at the first paragraph of their business plan: “Oregon is a special place to live, and Oregon’s quality of life helps attract and retain talented people who drive our economy. Access to the outdoors and recreation, arts and culture and safe communities are among many Oregon assets that can support economic prosperity.”

http://www.oregonbusinessplan.org/sub_plan_place.html

No amount of tax breaks in the world can make up for a poor quality of life; that’s why nobody relocates to Somalia.

Oregon’s business plan incorporates ‘Four Ps’: people, place, productivity and pioneering. http://www.oregonbusinessplan.org/plan_fourp.html It is very important to focus on all four, rather than to write as though tax credits were the missing link or the magical tool that Oregon is using."
oregon  well-being  qualityoflife  people  policy  politics  economics  taxes  place  productivity  portland  reform  progressivism 
august 2009 by robertogreco
Progressive Education [don't miss the "sidebar"]
"It’s not all or nothing, to be sure. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a school — even one with scripted instruction, uniforms, and rows of desks bolted to the floor — that has completely escaped the influence of progressive ideas. Nor have I seen a school that’s progressive in every detail. Still, schools can be characterized according to how closely they reflect a commitment to values such as these: Attending to the whole child, Community, Collaboration, Social justice, Intrinsic motivation, Deep understanding, Active learning, Taking kids seriously...A school that is culturally progressive is not necessarily educationally progressive. ... What It Isn’t ... Why It Makes Sense ... Why It’s Rare ... A Dozen Questions for Progressive Schools"
progressive  education  learning  alfiekohn  nais  tcsnmy  philosophy  progressivism  politics  standards  teaching  schools  children  students  homework  schooling  lcproject 
june 2009 by robertogreco
cityofsound: Postopolis! LA, day one / Los Angeles
"It still shocks...so radically different for the European. The flight descending over the city, through the yellowy haze and over endless brown and grey grids of low-rise - so different to landing amidst Sydney’s greenery & deep blue harbour - and then the slow drive from the airport - was it a 10- or 12-lane highway? One loses track - through flat plains of housing w/ downtown impossibly distant on the hazy horizon. It looks like the Emerald City, which is hardly surprising when you think about it. You can immediately see why it appealed to Reyner Banham, as it’s so radically different to England. Progressive through constant reinvention, in a particular way that cannot occur in the UK. Yet I often find it appalling too. You’re disarmed & charmed, then despairing and confused, often within seconds of each other. There’s no reason for this city to be here at all & yet it’s this constantly growing & transformed mass of humanity. The constant contradiction of LA is almost overwhelming."
losangeles  reynerbanham  cityofsound  cities  future  progressivism  contradiction  reinvention 
april 2009 by robertogreco
Poder 360° - The Urbanist Party: With 80 percent of Americans living in suburban areas, could they organize into a new political party?
"If you live in a big city, you will probably find yourself more in agreement with your neighbors—or even with city-dwellers on the other side of the world—than you will with rural members of your national political party."
future  policy  sustainability  urbanplanning  urban  urbanism  politics  government  us  world  international  progressivism 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: John Edwards and the virtues and limits of democracy
"democracy is very blunt instrument....especially in US...isn't smart, finely honed, closely geared toward truth or "progressive" values...bad at fine-tuning details of economic policy...solution is not be less democratic, but appreciate democracy for wha
democracy  politics  economics  tylercowen  us  negotiation  organization  social  progressivism  values  policy 
january 2008 by robertogreco
The Revolution Will Not Be Designed -- In These Times
"As the d.school has discovered: Claim the kind of thinking that can save the world from the excesses of capitalism is one and the same as the kind that can increase profits, and Wal-Mart will fund it. That brand of progressivism is naïve, at best."
design  future  change  progressivism  capitalism  thinking  reform  social  massivechange  housing  world  poverty  environment  sustainability  green 
january 2008 by robertogreco

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