Archive for the ‘politics’ tag
A really interesting and worthy book review of the awkward tension that exists — and is highlighted in William Easterly’s new book — about how the huge western economic development industry seems to have a big soft spot for freedom-hating autocrats.
In 2013, Melinda Gates, on the eve of a trip to Ethiopia, described it as one of her favorite countries. “I always enjoy visiting Ethiopia,” she declared, “because I see inspirational stories and concrete leadership from the government and community health workers reaching the hardest to reach and making change.” Easterly quotes a 2013 report by Tony Blair’s Africa Governance Initiative praising the Ethiopian government’s “strong, accountable leadership in implementing the plan.”
Strong, certainly; accountable, certainly not. According to Human Rights Watch’s 2014 country report, “Ethiopia’s ambitious development schemes, funded from domestic revenue sources and foreign assistance, sometimes displace indigenous communities without appropriate consultation or any compensation.” And after describing in detail the government’s imprisonment of nonviolent opposition leaders and journalists, and denial of the right to assembly, among many other violations of human rights, the report notes that while Ethiopia receives donor assistance of almost $4 billion a year.
I’d not realized it, but Samanth Subramanian points out that the latest presidential election — which brought Narendra Modi to power — there may mark the decline of English being the most important and prominent language in India:
Most recently, though, India’s major newspapers have been expanding in a different direction. In 2012, Bennett Coleman, the publisher of The Times of India, the world’s largest English daily, started a Bengali newspaper and poured fresh resources into its older Hindi and Marathi papers. Last October, the publisher of The Hindu, a 135-year-old English paper, launched a Tamil edition. Another leading English daily, The Hindustan Times, has enlarged the staff and budgets of its Hindi sibling Hindustan. And this past winter, a few months before the election, The Times of India launched NavGujarat Samay, a Gujarati paper for Modi’s home turf.
A comment on it pretty quickly captures my summary of this essay — “it’s inconclusive and a little cute“ — but it is a neat term with some analytical power underneath it.
To actually be alive and able to take up possibilities in a genuine way means being able to take a critical and thus transformative stance towards one’s environment; it is to really be a fully cognitive adult. Thus, the possibility of always remaining a cognitive child must involve the elision of the appropriate orientation to possibility. Taking up this particular possibility (to remain a child rather than become adult) means shutting the pursuit of all other possibilities down.
Hence, we see how the restrictive shape of the cupcake, its cold and uniform neatness, matches up with the infantilizing elements of twee cupcakey tropes: it is only possible, as an adult, to remain a cognitive child if you are a child without sticky fingers, drily conforming to a prescribed set of rules.
(via Buzz Anderson)
This piece from NYRB is an awesome and brief biography of one of the more interesting and controversial early presidents of the United States: John Quincy Adams. It’s a good read even if you’re not a history buff like me:
John Quincy Adams was a highly principled, hardworking, and patriotic man of great intelligence and integrity. He was complex and full of contradictions, frigid and hot-tempered, confrontational and thin-skinned, devoted to public service and egocentric. He yearned for acclaim and strove for achievement and high political office. But as Fred Kaplan demonstrates in his engaging, well-crafted, and deeply researched biography that puts particular emphasis on John Quincy’s rich life of the mind and draws extensively from his diary this supremely successful diplomat and shrewd practitioner of realpolitik had a personality quite unsuited for a life in politics.
I’ve said it a number of times that I love when literary review send a reporter to conflict areas and let them be verbose and thorough in their impressions. Ukraine’s recent history and near-term reality is explained clearly and vividly by Tim Judah for the NYRB. His conclusion, though I encourage you to read it if you have the time:
But while it will be hard to agree on a date, it is already easy to say what is happening in people’s heads. Six months ago everyone here just went about their normal business. They were worried about the things that everyone worries about, and here especially: low salaries, scraping by, collecting money for all the bribes one has to pay, and so on. And then something snapped. The rotting ship of the Ukrainian state sprung a leak and everything began to go down. In people’s heads a new reality has gradually begun to take shape and, in this way, everyone is being prepared for war.
There are pretty charts, and a nice post, but really this piece from Vox is about one thing you may have already suspect:
Two big reasons — prosecution has become more efficient, and prison sentences have lengthened
I always enjoy reading Slavoj Žižek, and this piece of his about the current state of international relations is at least reasonable enough to entertain:
This, however, brings us to what is arguably the “principal contradiction” of the new world order (if we may use this old Maoist term): the impossibility of creating a global political order that would correspond to the global capitalist economy.
A nice little essay from The Philosophers’ Mail about how you’re probably at least a little bit Marxist:
In his search for what makes work fulfilling, Marx speaks beautifully about workers needing ‘to see themselves in the objects they have created’. In other words, at its best, labour offers us a chance to externalise what’s good inside us (let’s say, our creativity, our rigour, our logic), and to give it a stable, enduring form in some sort of object or service independent of us. Our work should – if things go right – be a little better than we manage to be day to day, because it allows us to concentrate and distill the best parts of us.
A fun little depiction of the insanity that can occur in America’s legal system. Because of a policy change in how an Ohio county recorder’s office made records available to the public — they were going to change $2 per photocopied page rather letting bulk requests be distributed digitally — a case came about in which the best tactic was to refuse to answer a seemly simple question about a the term “photocopy machine” — the New York Times has a new series in which they have dramatized the whole exchange.
A conservative writer talks about the American political situation in light of the works of Karl Marx. As someone who’s obsession with my country’s politics is behind me, it’s an interesting analysis. It’s heart is this:
Here’s what Marx got right—profoundly, overwhelmingly, admirably right: capitalism is unforgiving to “conservatives,” those who care about neighborhood, Church, family, loyalty, tradition.
(via Alan Jacobs)