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Posts tagged ‘Arendt’

Which America First?

Trump spoke at the World Economic Forum at Davos yesterday (full transcript here) about “America First,” saying, “I believe in America.”   Trump seems to think it is obvious who he means by America, and many of his supporters think it is obvious too.  Yet, increasingly, the policies of “America First” do not support those who support it.  Last week, in an effort to protect American interests the Trump Administration slapped a tariff onto solar panels coming from China this week.  Though Trump fancies himself a “job creator,” this move will likely result in the loss of 23,000 American jobs.  Solar panel manufacturing will help FirstSolar, Tesla, Suniva, and SolarWorld, but manufacturing only makes up a small portion of the solar panel industry.  Most of the work is in installation.  Some analysts are even suggesting that foreign companies will see most of the benefit. Read more

Border Walls, Immigration Policy, and Hannah Arendt

This semester I am teaching a course I’m calling “Thinking with Arendt.”  The question of the course follows from Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem: if failing to think enables us to do great evil, what is it about thinking that leads us to live well?  A corollary of this question is what are the ways that we think about other people that allow us to dehumanize them to the point where we can justify actively killing them or letting them go to their deaths?  I’ve been teaching Eichmann as discussions about US immigration policy and border security are underway ahead of a deadline today for funding the federal government and I’m finding that second question particularly pressing.

First, I should say that it continues to boggle my mind that people in the interior of the United States talk about the need for a border wall, when there IS A BORDER WALL at much of the parts of the border that can be walled.  Above is a photograph of part of the wall at the Hidalgo County Pumphouse that I took when I was living in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas.  The wall purposefully does not cover the whole border because it is meant to funnel people crossing to places where the border patrol can focus.  The existence of the wall in the face of the discussions of it demonstrate the extent to which people in the interior are far removed from the reality of the border.  People who live at the border don’t want a wall and they have long been mad about the way the current wall has destroyed ecosystems and public spaces. Read more

The Banality of Evil: Anti-feminism and the Left

Last week, I finally sat down with some friends and watched the 2012 film, “Hannah Arendt,” by Margarethe von Trotta.  The film focuses on Arendt’s trip to Israel to watch the Eichmann trial and the writing of her article for The New Yorker on the trial, Eichmann in Jerusalem.  With nice timing, The New Yorker is making its archives including this article available for a limited time on its website so check it out here.  Arendt argues in that essay that what was most appalling about the trial and about Eichmann and most frightening for a political environment tending more and more to totalitarianism was that Eichmann did not claim to think.   Read more

Nafplion: The Leisure to Think

Thinkers from Plato to Marx remark on the need for leisure–for leisure time won by having one’s expenses covered and necessities provided–to engage in the life of the mind.  After the busy work of investigating Athens, we have now settled into the leisurely place of Nafplion where we have plenty of time to think.  I’ve set two thinking projects for myself: one is a paper on Arendt and Aristotle that I’m giving at the American Political Science Association (APSA) at the end of the summer and the other is a piece on Aristotle’s conception of government, politeuma, which I have presented a number of times and am now ready to send it out for publication. Read more

Famous men have the whole earth as their memorial.

The title of this post comes from Pericles’ Funeral Oration as recounted by Thucydides in History of the Peloponnesian War.  My very patient traveling companion read it aloud to me today in the Kerameikos District, the Classical-era cemetery where Pericles gave that oration after the first dead had been returned to Athens at the start of the Peloponnesian War. Thucydides remembers Pericles speaking thus: They [the dead] gave their lives to her [Athens] and to all of us, and for their own selves they won praises that never grow old, the most splendid of sepulchres–not the sepulchre in which their bodies are laid, but where their glory remains eternal in men’s minds, always there on the right occasion to stir others to speech or action. Read more

Hellas Yes!

Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off – then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. Melville, Moby Dick

On Monday, I get to sea.  I am traveling to Greece for five weeks.  First, a week in Athens and then south to Nafplio where most of June will be spent.  Brief forays to Delphi, Corinth, Mycenae and Sparta will interrupt writing work all thanks to funds from the Byron K. Trippet Assistant Professorship that I hold at Wabash College. Read more