Fukuyama’s discussion of Rousseau reminded me of this article from the last issue of National Review, “The Gospel of Jean Jacques.” Author Hagen expresses the disdain common among many conservatives for Rousseau, whom they see as a source of contemporary liberals’ hyper-individualism and tendency toward authoritarianism.
Ok, the DoE’s investigation into Princeton’s confession of racism is a canny move, whether or not you support the motives behind it. On reading about it, I have that feeling one gets from reading a surprising haiku. We’ll be discussing this in class Thursday for sure. Coverage at City Journal, an organ of the conservative Manhattan Institute: “Show Us Your Systemic Racism, Princeton. The Department of Education calls the university’s bluff.”
I always look forward to Thomas Edsel’s careful, well-referenced New York Times columns. This week’s was downright harrowing, as the author cited expert after expert who thinks there is a good likelihood of unrest and public violence in the wake of November’s presidential election, regardless of who wins. Read it here: “Whose America Is It? ‘Apocalyptic terms’ have taken over the 2020 election, with potentially dangerous implications.”
Here’s an interesting story in the liberal New Republic about a successful effort by Upper West Side residents in NYC to have homeless men relocated from a city-owned hotel in that neighborhood. The author writes, “Slippery terms like neighborhood and community are quietly and expertly carved out to exclude the people—nonwhite or ill or poor—who reduce property values.”
Here are three timely items relevant to our week’s topic. All three point to a lack of nuance in some current debates.
First, an essay in Commentary by an art historian about the recent efforts to remove monuments deemed racist: “Destroying the Past to Purify the Present: The Frenzy Against the Monuments.”
Second, an analysis in the New York Times of President Trump’s comments in the last week directed against critical race theory and related ideas: “More Than Ever, Trump Casts Himself as the Defender of White America.”
Third, from Reason, a brief interview with Steven Pinker about a recent effort to revoke his distinguished fellow status in the Linguistics Society of America: “Steven Pinker Survives Attempted Cancellation.”
Relevant to our discussion of kibbutzim and other communal living arrangements, and, in these fraught pandemic times, funny-’cause-it’s-true, see this essay in Mother Jones: “Plague Comforts: Planning a Commune.”
David Graeber, anarchist, anthropologist, died this week. I’ve assigned his work in courses over the years; students were often surprised by his novel take on why the world is as it is. This homage in Jacobin tells a bit about Graeber, and is also interesting to us regarding the way people personally negotiate identity and community boundaries: “A Jewish Goodbye to David Graeber.”
Material relevant to our class, ripped from the headlines. We’ll be talking about authenticity as a problem in general for ingroup boundary police. Krug’s case is very like the examples of literary hoaxes we’ll look at later in the semester. Read about it at Inside Higher Ed: “White Lies: Prominent scholar outs herself as white just as she faced exposure for presenting herself as Black.”