Who won what? Here’s the rundown of the Class of 2020’s award winners – The South End

For medical students nationwide, Match Day 2020 is the culmination of years of hard work, the day when thousands learn what residency program they matched with to begin their career as physicians after graduation.

On March 20, at exactly noon EST, our nearly 300 Warrior MDs received an email from the National Resident Matching Program that included the name of the institution they 'matched' with to begin their post-graduation residency in their chosen specialty. We shared in their joy by posting all the Match Day details at med.wayne.edu/match-day.

The Wayne State University School of Medicines traditional Match Day celebration looked different this year. Like so many medical schools participating in this years residency match event, WSU may has been forced to cancel its traditional gathering of faculty, students, family and friends on March 20. However, we were still determined as ever to cheer and celebrate with the M.D. Class of 2020.

The following Class of 2020 award winners, and faculty members, were recognized via video at the Class of 2020 Match Day virtual celebration March 20.

Herman and Eva Blum Endowed Award:Jedidiah Bell


Amelia Stone

Anum Naseem

David Gelovani

Ellen Murphy

Jay Jarodiya

Nikita Desai

Raven Batshon

Herbert Mendelson Enthusiasm for Medicine Endowed Scholarship:David Gelovani

Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award Student: Jedidiah Bell

Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award Faculty: Richard Bryce, M.D.

Medical Alumni Senior Scholarship Award: Andrew Bacyinski

Class Marshal: Barbara Bosch, Ph.D.

Distinguished Leadership Awards:

Madeline Berschback

Serina Beydoun

Amanda Dooley

Joseph Friedli

Jay Llaniguez

Anum Naseem

Amelia Stone

Voluntary Faculty Award:Richard Bryce, M.D.

Penfil-Tischler Award:Diana Kakos

Superlative Awards:

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Who won what? Here's the rundown of the Class of 2020's award winners - The South End

Impunity in the Time of Corona(virus) – Modern Diplomacy

Globalgovernance has increasingly become common sense within the political-economicsphere in the context of preaching for accountability and transparency. Thereis,however, a grey space that claims questions of what the end goal of suchcoherence is called for and who it seeks to serve. This paper shalldescriptively delve into the need for Global Governance in todays world whileenumerating its corresponding challenges and criticisms.

International solidarity is not an act ofcharity, it is an act of unity between allies fighting on different terrainstowards the same objective. The foremost of these objectives is to aid thedevelopment of humanity to the highest level possible. Samora Machel

Theinternational arena in the 21st century requires a catalyst to unify the worldbeyond borders and to build global institutions that can combat disparagementof the idea of globalisation. The resolution to this conundrum is the dilationand legitimisation of global governance. Global Governance is essentially aframework that proposes global relationship and a knit playing fieldintegrating all spheres of a society including social, economic, political,cultural, and environmental sectors to revolve issues with a collectiveconsciousness[1] as liberalistswould preach.

This ishowever unachievable without all actors in the system including, states,political figures and leaders, quasi state actors, corporate sector and institutions,NGOs,MNCs and the financial system collaborate to form a coherent structure thatcan vastly influence the grassroots of the system. This is parallel to the ideaof mega diplomacy proposed by Parag Khana, a profound specialist in internationalrelations. As Parag Khana stated, Were moving into a post Westphalian world,a world which is populated where the authoritative actors are not justgovernments. They are companies.[2] He explains howdiplomacy has widened as a tool into diverse spheres such as private mercenaryarmies, AI and technology, humanitarian agencies and non-governmentalorganizations, the educational sector; schools and universities, religiousinstitutions and organisations and much more. He believes that diplomacystretches beyond multilateral institutions such as the United Nations and theWorld bank or bilateral relations between nation states themselves. This ismore efficient as it uplifts the accountability held by state and non-stateactors. It propagates a sense of global order and global citizenship in aninterdependent world as an aftermath of proactively embracing globalisation.

While thereis no universally accepted definition of Governance, TheCommission of Global governance defines the same as the sum of the many waysindividuals and institutions, public and private, manage their common affairs.It has posited that governance is a continuing process through whichconflicting and diverse interests may be accommodated and cooperative actionmay be taken.[3] The concept ofGlobal Governance is viewed narrowly as a movement to address todays issueswhile it is fundamentally much more. As Whitman (2009:8)[4] stated,it is an instrument to help independent states reach out for help in the faceof emerging international issues and come together to create the envisagedworld of peace and harmony. This stems out of the inefficiency and the failureof global institutions. For instance, humanitarian relief having been sent toRwanda in 1994 during the genocide by the UN enforcing the Tusi military couldhave deterred the massacre at its grassroots.

Globalisationbacklash may be seen as a growing hindrance to the expansion of GlobalGovernance as states are reluctant ant towards embracing the rapidinterdependence often leading to circumstances and conflicts that arise out ofintervention. Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations rightfullystated while addressing the assembly that theCentral challenge we face today is to ensure that globalization becomes a positiveforce for all the worlds people, instead of leaving billions of them insqualor.[5] Whilean ambitious concept, it may serve to be counterproductive in nature. The shifttowards abandoning globalisation in neither desirable nor pragmatic. Revokingthe systemic change, it has brought about for more than a decade now wouldbring along multifaceted problems hand in hand. It goes unrecognised, that theissue isnt globalisation, but how we work around it and how it is managed. Asrightly pointed out by Stiglitz, the macroscopic problem lies in the hands ofthe global financial institutions such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO),World Bank and The International Monetary Fund (IMF). They go beyond theirmandates to ideally sere the best interest of the developed nations as opposedto the developing unindustrialised nations.

Need for GlobalGovernance

Transnationalpolicy challenges influencing nation states on an individual level see the needfor cooperative global approaches within the contemporary world. This wouldrequire re-building of the mechanisms of global governance and its constantexpansion to address global issues that are on the rise. Globalisation, beingthe epicentre of the framework, is array of opportunities alongside challenges.While the debate on pollution persists, issues such as terrorism, drugs abuse,arms proliferation, climate change, and data security have crossed nationalborders in search of global solutions. These while picked up within thedomestic affairs of individual states within their political agendas,require integrated policy change in the international arena to be dealt with inan effective and constructive manner.

While viewedas transnational, the effects of global governance have a direct influencewithin the domestic there of each individual state. As Halabi (2004:23)[6] stated,that the framework of global governance is best suited to manipulateglobalisations forces, control its detrimental negative effects and recognisesthat globalization cannot lead to global governance like cooperationcorrespondingly may not be facilitated by the anarchy that prevails in theinternational system. In the anarchic system, the challenge stands as statesseek authority, power and control. While this collective consciousness isimperative for change, the thirst for power breaks down the cooperation andleads to violations in search for a state of hegemony. While offensive realistswould argue that this is natural, this state of neutrality is least beneficialfor the scale of change that meets the eye. A multilateral approach istherefore the only possible explanation which not only levels the playing fieldfor all but also doesnt compromising on valuing the voices of each of itsstake holders from time to time.

While the framework sounds equitable, it is impossibleto isolate domestic values in a multilateral setting. Deliberation and debatemay still lead to decision making that isnt convincingly adhered to by allstates. Hence, policy development needs to be holistic in nature.


One of themain challenges to Global Governance is state sovereignty. Stemming from thewidely accepted grassroots of the Westphalian system that today UN carriesforward in its mandate stated, theconcept of nation-state sovereignty based on two principles: territoriality andthe exclusion of external actors from domestic authority structures .[7] GlobalGovernance can be maximised in the state of absence of state governments and acollective sense of shared sovereignty to create a cohesive internationalcommunity.

The abilityfor nations to contribute to change may diversely vary corresponding to theirstanding and their state capabilities. As Halabi (2004:24)[8]recognises,while global governance seeks to resolve disputes and issues, it does notrestrict states in continuing to pursue wealth within the created structure oftheir own. Hence, we need a global interface that can pool in these independentcapabilities and empower international actors to foster change.

Dominationand subordination of states hinders the process of global governance. Aspointed out by Mehta (2007:4)[9], the idea ofinternational is often perceived as the G8 or the G20. The G8[10], whileprimarily focusing on economic issues are seen to represent and speak for theentire international community as they guide the forces of response to globalissues and challenges. From an economic lens, the G8 as one might multilateralinstitution concentrates the power to manipulate the procedures of worldeconomics. This prevailing hierarchy in the system therefore deters thecomprehensive bridge between the rich and poor states, further breaking downthe cooperation.

Limits of GlobalGovernance

Some of thefundamental limits to the idea go Global Governance includes the forcesability to comply with international rules, to maintain transparency, to beable to create win-win resolutions that are mutually beneficial in interstatedisputes, and its ability to empower international organisations to deliverrequired international aid in terms of services and public goods for allnations to thrive in an equitable system. All nations have an intrinsic need tojoin these international organisations and institutions to prove theirinternational legitimacy within the global community.

Thesechallenges have been witnessed prominently in many spheres of transnationalissues. The United States non-cooperation in the environmentalprotect through the implementation of the targets to reduce CO2 emissions thatwould help curbing global warming in accordance to the Kyoto protocol[11] is anapt example of the same. The target of global poverty reduction has promptedinternational economic institutions such as the International Monetary Fund andthe World Bank to strengthen their policies through the launch of CDF(Comprehensive Development Framework) and PRSPs (Poverty Reduction StrategyPapers). Yet, the need for radical reformation persists. A report by the IFIAC,also known as the Maltzer Commission[12] deduces theinefficiency of the World Bank by pointing out the inconsistency in itsassistance provided to the social programs for the rural as its administrativework overlaps significantly with the domestic and regional developmental bankshence leading to low performance of the institution as a unit. The commissioncalled for a privatisation of the World Banks lending operations leading toits conversion into a World Development Agency.

The field ofhuman rights has been widely debated due to the lack of coherence andinconsistencies in policies that are adapted to the domestic affairs of eachstate. Human rights for the moral compass for global governance as violationproliferate across the globe. The asymmetry of information enables institutionsand states to exercise policies that impede several rights that individuals arefundamentally entitles to. The use of policing, coercion and torture violaterights including their rights to food, health care, housing and many more. Theconundrum of capital punishment and its violation to the fundamental right tolife has been debated for decades. The implementation and an ability to upholdand maintain this moral compass of human rights is a test of the potential ofGlobal Governance.

The breakdownof trade agreements highlights the over reliance and dependance of developingnations on the export of commodities that carry the brunt of collapsing prices.Such disputes and inequities within investment and trade may also be seen amonglarge and advanced nations that seek to uphold leverage against one anothersuch as the persisting trade conflict between USA and China. The shift in focusis therefore now on the diversification of exports that may be facilitated ifGlobal Governance can effectively manage the forces of globalisation andstreamline it through new international agreements supporting the price ofcommodities.

Last but notthe least, the uprise of civil society conflicts and revolutions are grosslymismanaged. The recent measures taken by the United Nation of disputes such asthe ongoing Syrian Civil War and unrest have led to questioning the legitimacyof the proposals passed through the Security Council and the body itself. Whilefunding for the institution is always constituted as a fundamental issue, noconstructive measure to rectify the same has been collectively formed by themember states of the international organisation.


While GlobalGovernance seeks to benefit all, it is over ambitious and idealistic. There areseveral reforms that are imperative to its efficient implementation. Firstly,it is important to modify how states perceive state sovereignty and dismiss thethreat that global governance poses to it. It is crucial to sustain herepresentation of state governments to retain the democratisation of globalinstitutions. With that said, the international community has a heavy relianceon national governments as opposed to weakening them. Weak states carrying acontrasting perception are not only a threat to themselves but also to theframework of Global governance. Weak legitimacy in nations that may categorisedas rogue states, fake democracies or quasi authoritarian states have a highdegree of threat on their efficiency and potential. This is however enhanced instates that exercise more liberty and freedom, where the civil societyrepresentation is high.

Secondly,global governance requires an accountable and moral structure. These twoelements must be universally recognised as backbones of the framework that areessential and uncontested. Subsequently, regional governance and domesticaffairs must be trusted and respected to maintain development and management ofstate infrastructure and the preservation of natural resources. Emergingregional powers must refrain from dominating the playing field and facilitatetrade and regional agreements to foster global governance by mobilising people,boosting imports and exports, and effectively managing resources.

Correspondingly,the needs to be an urgent democratisation of international economicinstitutions such as the UN, World Bank, WTO and IMF to filter and check theviability of proposals and measures taken. There needs to be a reiterated callfor conformity of these revolutionary and policy making bodies with the causeof strengthening global governance, enabling them to efficiently respond tocurrent and emerging global challenges. There needs to be an expansion of theSecurity Council that restricts the veto power in the hand of a few elitistnations and a reformation of the mandate of the UN enabling it to target shortterm goals making it more effective.

Lastly, thelegal structure require reform. The international judiciary and legal system needto be strengthened adhering to the globalised relationships between states thatsupersede domestic dynamics of legal frameworks within states. Internationalcourts such as the ICJ and the ICC must take cognizance of the changing worldthat the seek to serve.

The globalcommunity must in tandem minis the unilateral rule and isolate the quest forhegemony to create a system of cooperation and enable the upliftment ofsubordinated sections of societies such as women, children, indigenous people,underprivileged, refugees and many more. The structure should encompass allstate and non-state actors to help developing nations in the society meet theMillennium Developmental Goals to ensure peace, harmony, uphold human rights,reduce the detrimental effect of global warning on climate change, combatterrorism, curb migration and nuclear proliferation alongside fostering growthin the international, regional and individual state level. Global Governance isthere a vital instrument that seeks to intertwine global interests and lookbeyond domestic foreign policies to form a global knit community that envisagesa world of peace and harmony. Yet the question prevails, is global governancean answer to the echoing anarchy or a mere euphemism of a global government?

[1](n.d.). Retrieved from http://csmt.uchicago.edu/glossary2004/collectiveconsciousness.htm.

[2]Bigthinkeditor. (2018, October 5). ParagKhanna on the Rise of Mega Diplomacy. Retrieved fromhttps://bigthink.com/big-think-edge/parag-khanna-on-the-rise-of-mega-diplomacy.

[3]Hgel, P. (2011). GlobalGovernance. Oxford Bibliographies Online Datasets. doi:10.1093/obo/9780199743292-0015

[4]Whitman, J. (2009). Conclusion: The globalGovernance Prospect. Palgrave Advances in Global Governance, 189203.

[5]Speeches. (2019, February 13). Retrieved fromhttps://www.kofiannanfoundation.org/topics/speeches/.

[6]Halabi, Y. (2004). The Expansion of GlobalGovernance into the Third World: Altruism, Realism, or Constructivism?International Studies Review, 6(1), 2148.

[7]Timberman, T., & Timberman, T. (n.d.).The Peace of Westphalia and its 4 Principles for Interstate Relations IsntFailing. Retrieved fromhttps://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/the-peace-of-westphalia-and-its-4-principles-for-interstate-relations-isnt-failing.

[8]Halabi, Y. (2004). The Expansion of GlobalGovernance into the Third World: Altruism, Realism, or Constructivism?International Studies Review, 6(1), 2148.

[9]Mehta, M. D. (2007). Good Governance.Encyclopedia of Governance.

[10]Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan,Russia (suspended), the United Kingdom and the United States.

[11]What is the Kyoto Protocol? (n.d.).Retrieved from https://unfccc.int/kyoto_protocol.

[12]International Financial Institution AdvisoryCommission. (2016, December 23). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Financial_Institution_Advisory_Commission.


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Impunity in the Time of Corona(virus) - Modern Diplomacy

How the humanities became the new enemy within – The Guardian

The strain of conservatism that has now taken up residence in Downing Street is tireless in its identification of enemies. The BBC and Channel 4 were put on notice during the latter stages of the election campaign, and the government is now openly pursuing the termination of the BBC licence fee. Dominic Cummings long-harboured resentment towards civil service mandarins is driving Whitehall reform, imperilling its independence.

The vanguard of rightwing thinktanks and newspapers is redoubling its attacks on universities, with a pitifully thin Policy Exchange report on the topic this week earning a Times headline decrying these sneering institutions. Meanwhile, a bogey-ideology known as wokeness, constructed by conservative commentators and free speech advocates, now serves as an all-purpose bin into which any form of activism, complaint or critical theory can be thrown.

These various hostilities are often lumped together as symptoms of a culture war, in which the demographic and educational divisions that came to light around Brexit are amplified and exploited for political gain. But we can be more specific than that. The new conservative ideology coalesces around one theme in particular: hostility towards the modern humanities, and their elevated status in British public life.

The 20th century witnessed a distinctive model of interlocking political, educational and artistic institutions, with the humanities at their core. Public bodies such as the British Academy and the BBC set the template for the optimistic, post-1945 era of public investment in the arts and humanities. The state actively supported their expansion after the war via such icons of mass cultural modernity as the Arts Council, BBC2, the Open University and the new redbrick universities. By the 1980s, this project had borne such fruits as the South Bank Show, the Birmingham School of Cultural Studies and Channel 4. Threaded through all of this was the principle that there was a public interest in understanding ideas, artefacts and events.

Cummings has never hidden his contempt for humanities subjects, forged partly out of his own experience of studying history at Oxford. He has been a long-term advocate for an expansion of Stem (science, technology, engineering, maths) in the school curriculum, and for attracting more Stem graduates into the civil service. His notorious blog-cum-recruitment ad, which sought to attract data scientists and weirdos to Whitehall, was also notable for its dismissal of Oxbridge English graduates who chat about Lacan at dinner parties with TV producers.

More fundamentally, the humanities play a pivotal ideological role for contemporary conservatism: they sit in the crosshairs of both Thatcherite neoliberals and nationalists. It is often difficult for free marketeers to find common ground with nationalists, especially on issues such as immigration. The possession of a shared enemy provides coherence to an otherwise unwieldy coalition. The figure of the publicly funded humanities graduate, whose cultural privilege grants them access to the London elite, fuels a paranoid fantasy that is now central to conservative ideology.

The neoliberal position is that a humanities degree is a simple waste of money, as revealed in the earnings of graduates. To people of this mindset, the benefit of the post-2010 tuition fee regime, allied to a host of league tables and audits, is that it exposes latent inequalities in higher education that were previously concealed by public funding. If somebody chooses to study art history (and not, say, computer science), then this is a high-risk investment, which they should be personally liable for. The recent announcement by the University of Sunderland that it would be terminating all its history, languages and politics courses, and replacing them with vocational alternatives, therefore represents progress.

The nationalist concern is very different, and stems especially from the perceived influence of continental philosophy over the past 50 years. For those who buy into rightwing conspiracy theories about cultural Marxism or the milder anxiety surrounding postmodernism, humanities graduates are an enemy within, a segment of the liberal elite that lacks national loyalty.

Opposition to public institutions such as the BBC has been incubated by Rupert Murdoch and his newspapers for many years. More recently, Brexit has given nationalists the confidence to cast suspicions upon a wide array of independent public bodies, from universities to the Bank of England. One thing that neoliberals and nationalists can agree on is that anyone whose education and career has been spent in publicly funded liberal institutions, telling a story about the public interest is a fraud. The popular appeal of Johnsonism lies in its antipathy to this elite.

But in favour of what exactly? The Cummings plan is for esoteric forms of rationalism to topple the humanities: not just data scientists but game theorists, cognitive scientists, software developers and people who never went to university should shape government thinking. This is a vision of society as a programmable machine, a form of post-humanism, which denies that culture or history require any specialist interpretation, but merely provide more data to be fed into predictive mathematical models. The social sciences and humanities will eventually be taken over by physicists.

If Cummings wants to accelerate away from the 20th century, then conservative traditionalists want to reverse it. If, as the economics professor Thomas Piketty argues, we are returning to a form of oligarchy last seen prior to the first world war, one can easily envisage how the arts and humanities will be sustained: via the patronage of the rich and the indulgences of their children. The brief historical period, when learning about literature or, yes, Lacan, was a gift from the state, accessible to all regardless of background, is firmly over.

It is telling that, while Cummings wants to hire people who use analytical languages: eg Python, SQL, R, Boris Johnson is just as likely to lapse into Latin. The liberal humanities are being caught in a pincer movement, between hyper-modern futurism and pre-modern classicism. Taken to extremes, the dream of wiping away modern culture in the name of some distant future and some primordial past has inspired the most hideous of rightwing regimes. Even at its mildest, this is a project that sees little intrinsic value in a public library, a primetime documentary or a history degree.

The 20th-century cultural establishment has plenty of failings, which are readily exposed by its opponents. It has never been as inclusive as its rhetoric pretends, and it is far from democratic. Resentment towards cultural and political elites has clearly been brewing for decades, especially among non-Londoners and non-graduates an electoral goldmine for Johnson. Too often, these elites have reflexively countered the attacks of Thatcherites and the Murdoch press by closing ranks, relying on the power of their contact books, free tickets and charm, but only deepening the sense of metropolitan luvvies doing favours for each other. The defence of universities and the BBC is going to be an important test case for how much of that establishment survives this government.

William Davies is a sociologist and political economist. His latest book is Nervous States: How Feeling Took Over the World

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How the humanities became the new enemy within - The Guardian

The Problem We All Live With and the political awakening of Norman Rockwell – Vox.com

Sometime on Tuesday, November 8, 1960, a 66-year-old widower and self-described moderate Republican went to his polling place in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, to vote for his states junior senator for president. Never the most forthcoming of men, Norman Rockwell hadnt told his family he was backing John F. Kennedy. Hed painted portraits of both candidates for the Saturday Evening Post, and he just didnt like Richard Nixons face.

It was only a short walk down Main Street from the two-story Colonial house supposedly once occupied by Aaron Burr, whose derelict red barn Rockwell had converted into his fastidiously tidy studio. Hed called Stockbridge home since relocating from rural Vermont six years earlier, mainly for proximity to its renowned Austen Riggs psychiatric center. His second wife, Mary, who struggled with alcoholism and depression, had been a chronic patient there.

In those newly cosmopolitan times the Mad Men era, for shorthands sake the Anytown, USA, that Rockwell had depicted on hundreds of Post covers was becoming a curio at best and an object of derision at worst. Nixon still espoused a mealy-mouthed fealty to those pseudo-Rockwellian virtues. By choosing Kennedy instead, Rockwell might as well have been casting a ballot to hasten his own obsolescence. But nobody could disagree that hed had a good run.

Born in 1894 on Manhattans Upper West Side, Rockwell had never shown interest in any other career besides commercial illustration. Before his 16th birthday, he had dropped out of high school to enroll at New Yorks Art Students League. Untempted by the bohemia of Greenwich Village and seemingly indifferent to (or unnerved by) the concept of a love life, he had business cards printed for himself while he was still in his teens.

Most midcentury Americans would have had trouble fathoming the idea that Norman Rockwell had ever been that young or unknown. In the four and a half decades since his Post debut in 1916, his humorous vignettes of awkward situations and glowing ones of social and domestic rituals had defined the nations most idyllic self-image. From Andy Hardy movies to Frank Capras Its a Wonderful Life, Hollywoods version of homey American verities was by and large a facsimile of Rockwells.

But by the time he cast that vote in 1960, his perspective was growing increasingly remote from the bulk of his fellow citizens lived experience in cities and postwar suburbs. The concept of kitsch had begun following Rockwell around in print like one of the lovelorn puppies he would include in a painting whenever he was at a loss for an effect (a habit that he would later mock).

Worse, the Saturday Evening Post wasnt the national arbiter it had been. A few months after JFKs inaugural, the magazine would promise jittery advertisers a drastically modernized look under a new editor-in-chief who promptly recanted the Posts endorsement of Nixon the previous fall. The demotion of Rockwells Main Street America to the Rat Packs Nowheresville wasnt explicit, but everybody got the gist.

Its unlikely he even considered retiring. At ease only when at his easel, he took little interest in hobbies or even in his family. Not the most well-rounded of men, Rockwell, when asked to describe his leisure activities by Edward R. Murrow on CBSs Person to Person in 1959, responded that he couldnt think of any, except the countless hours he spent tearing up diaper cloths for use as paint rags.

In any case, he was obviously too sedate to change his spots, no matter how speedily the country around him was changing. That would have been most peoples guess, at least.

It would have been spectacularly wrong. The tumultuous 60s would convert Rockwell into an overt social liberal and the eras unlikeliest practitioner of polemical art.

Even the Norman Rockwell Museum cant make sense of his late-life political transformation. Amid the familiar Rockwelliana on display there is 1964s The Problem We All Live With which his biographer Deborah Solomon, in her 2013 book, American Mirror, calls the most famous painting of the civil-rights movement as jarring as it must have been in the pages of Look magazine more than 50 years ago. But it was only the first of his 1960s paintings to upend everything Norman Rockwell stood for.

Indeed, one of the minor marvels of the 60s was that the period made Rockwell happier than hed ever been. The hippies he came to dote on had a word for it: liberation.

After Mary died unexpectedly of coronary heart disease in August 1959, her husbands vestigial social life centered on a Stockbridge mens club called the Marching and Chowder Society. Its members met once a week to chew over the news of the day, from the nuclear arms race to the Souths roiling battles over desegregation.

Up until then, the average lamppost had taken a livelier interest in current events than Rockwell did. His only concessions to topical urgency had come between Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. Besides proselytizing for democracy with his epic Four Freedoms series (a quartet of paintings depicting freedom of speech and worship as well as freedom from fear and want the last of these featuring his celebrated image of a familys Thanksgiving feast), hed regaled Post readers with covers featuring a regally posed Rosie the Riveter and a youthful soldiers homecoming. But then hed gone back to his familiar tableaux, seemingly unaffected by Elvis Presley, suburbias advent, or the Cold War and certainly not by Brown v. Board of Education, Rosa Parks, or Little Rock.

Rockwell had every reason to feel personally un-implicated in the countrys burgeoning racial strife. Theres no record of him encountering black-white tensions during his youth in New York City and New Rochelle, nor, later on, in relatively isolated (and white) Vermont or Stockbridge. As for his Saturday Evening Post America, it could have been what Ronald Reagan had in mind when he notoriously reminisced about the days when we didnt even know we had a racial problem a we as defining, if far more damning, than the one in The Problem We All Live Withs title.

The Post banned illustrations showing African Americans in anything other than menial roles. Rockwell had generally been docile about that. Very little in his Post work had prepared his audience for how unambiguously and provocatively he declared himself on the subject of desegregation in his Look magazine debut.

At the time, most white Americans still thought of racial injustice as a problem only Southerners wrestled with. The contest between Kennedy and Nixon ran its course without civil rights being much of an issue, with one dramatic exception. In October 1960, a month before the election, Martin Luther King Jr. was jailed after leading an Atlanta sit-in. In a surprise move, JFKs brother Robert F. Kennedy publicly intervened to help secure his release. The Kennedy familys actions while Nixon cautiously kept mum would abruptly change the equation. African American voters significantly bolstered JFKs razor-thin margin of victory.

Rockwells only involvement in the 1960 election, aside from voting, had been his portraits of Kennedy and Nixon. His son Peter (one of the three he had with Mary) remembered Rockwell grousing that the problem with doing Nixon is that if you make him look nice, he doesnt look like Nixon anymore. As the magazines preferred candidate, Nixon got the cover dated closer to Election Day, not that it did him any good.

Never fond of television, Rockwell probably went to bed without watching the evening news on November 14, 1960, just under a week after Kennedys victory. If so, he wouldnt only have missed the sight of a knackered Nixon shaking hands with the new president-elect in Key Biscayne, Florida. Hed also have missed a mob of white New Orleanians howling abuse as they witnessed the unthinkable: a quartet of US marshals escorting a 6-year-old girl named Ruby Bridges as she entered school to attend first grade.

Bridges was one of just four African American first-graders whod been chosen to integrate the citys school system. But at least Leona Tate, Tessie Prevost, and Gail Etienne got to enter McDonogh 19 school as a trio. Bridges, flanked by the marshals, went up the steps of William Frantz Elementary School on her own.

Not that anybody knew her name. To readers and viewers of most news outlets, she was simply the little Negro girl, and so she remained until the 1990s, when the adult Bridges was reunited at a Black History Month event in New Orleans with one of her real-life escorts and the painting.

What drew Rockwell to the subject three years after the fact? His interest may have been sparked by the writings of psychiatrist Robert Coles, whod met with and counseled Bridges and her family. The artist may have read John Steinbecks 1962 bestseller Travels With Charley, whose concluding chapter contains his eyewitness account of the havoc outside the school on a typical day in the autumn of 1960. One passage, in particular, vividly anticipates the central figure in Rockwells painting: a glimpse of the littlest Negro girl you ever saw, dressed in shining starchy white, with new white shoes on feet so little they were almost round. Her face and little legs were very black against the white.

Yet Rockwell unmistakably had Ruby Bridgess ordeal on his mind before either Coles or Steinbeck weighed in. His most ambitious painting of 1961 was The Golden Rule, which featured more than two dozen people of all races and faiths illustrating the caption Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Two of them are African American: a man in a pointedly middle-class white shirt and tie as well as a neatly dressed girl prominently placed in the foreground. In an early version of The Golden Rule, which is the one propped today in the artists studio at the Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, the girls hands are simply clasped in prayer. In the final painting, theyre clutching two schoolbooks.

Not many Post subscribers in 1961 were likely to miss the allusion to the child whod gotten so much news coverage the previous autumn. Segregationists certainly didnt; they sent Rockwell the only hate mail hed received in his 45-year career. But his relationship with the Post had been deteriorating in any case. Its editors had concluded that his brand of folksy humanism was pass. They also seemed uninterested, as The Golden Rule hinted, that their former mainstay had a burgeoning interest in more provocative social themes. That summer, the new regime unveiled its plans for a revamped Post, including art work ... considerably more abstract than anything that has appeared in the magazine. Rockwells sardonic response was his very funny January 1962 cover, The Connoisseur, depicting a stocky gent in bankers gray pondering a Jackson Pollock riot of splattered red, yellow, and blue.

His imitation Pollock was expert enough to delight the artist Willem de Kooning. But The Connoisseur proved to be the last of his great Post covers. Just five months after it was published, Rockwell got new marching orders, and they rankled. He was to be confined from then on to producing portraits of statesmen, plus the occasional celebrity.

Terrified of ending his relationship with the Post, he tried to oblige his bosses. But in May 1963, he scrawled a remarkably agonized 3 am lament: All of this debasement, depression, unsatisfaction. Isnt this the answer if necessary, die doing something worthwhile. A worthy end ... not humiliating fear and groveling. Have I got the sustaining courage to cut it through? Cut the knot myself not die groveling.

Four months later, he wrote the Posts latest art director that hed come to the conviction that the work I now want to do no longer fits into the Post scheme.

His major emotional sustenance during this period came from his new wife. Fourteen months after Mary died, after a brief acquaintance, he married Molly Punderson, a 64-year-old schoolteacher who, as biographer Solomon puts it, was not known to have had any male suitors before they wed. But Rockwells marital needs had never been primarily sexual, and he knew what he could count on from her: You will help, be with me, admire me, he addressed Molly in that same insomniac cri de coeur. I have the courage with you.

Rockwells final Post cover, for the memorial issue commemorating John F. Kennedys assassination, that November, was a reprint of the artists 1960 JFK portrait. But by then, hed already signed up with Look. The rival to Henry Luces Life magazine, the more politically adventurous Look had no misgivings about the unlikely image Rockwell proposed as his debut, despite how it diverged from everything he was famous for unless, of course, that was part of its appeal. On October 1, 1963, art director Allen Hurlburt wrote him, As you know, Dan [Mich, Looks editor] and I are very excited about your idea for a painting of the Negro girl and the marshals. ... In checking our production schedules I find that we should have the art work by November 10 to make an early January issue.

Rockwell told Hurlburt hed gotten a head start on the painting, having identified a willing model: I already have the 7 yr old little girl and she is perfect. Her grandmother is sewing the white dress for her. ... Be assured I am very excited about the picture. Excited wasnt a word hed often used about his assignments for the Post.

Rockwells search for the perfect little girl may seem odd, given the common belief that Problem simply replicates a news photograph. But that misconception is an unwitting tribute to how completely the real episode and Rockwells depiction of it have fused in our collective memory. Aside from the basic situation, virtually every detail of the picture is Rockwells invention.

His usual MO was to sketch or paint from photographs of local residents, who would come to his studio and then follow his directions as they struck various poses. Hed employed a photographer named Bill Scovill virtually full-time since 1953, and it was Scovill who likely took the reference photos for The Problem We All Live With.

Only two African American families lived in Stockbridge then. Rockwell was friendly with the patriarch of one of them: Bill Gunn, whod posed for The Golden Rule and also chaired the Berkshire County chapter of the NAACP. Rockwell became a lifetime member in October 1963, around the time he began working on The Problem We All Live With.

Two of Gunns granddaughters were approximately the right age to stand in for Bridges: first cousins named Lynda and Anita Gunn. Lynda ended up doing most of the posing. Anita and other members of the Gunn family, who had been invited to observe the photo sessions, enjoyed the Coca-Colas that Rockwell passed around. For Lynda, the tricky part was balancing herself on two wooden boards front foot tilting upward, back foot tilting down to simulate walking. It was an old device of Rockwells, and he also used it for the separate reference shots of her four adult escorts.

At least two of the burly men who posed for the painting were authentic US marshals sent out from Boston to oblige him. Another was Stockbridge Police Chief William J. Obanhein, who, oddly enough, would later enjoy a peculiarly 60s-ish fame of his own as the Officer Obie of Arlo Guthries 1967 hit song Alices Restaurant.

But well never know which of Bridgess escorts he impersonated. In one of Rockwells boldest breaks with representational convention, the marshals are painted from their shoulders down not just faceless but headless. While that doesnt dehumanize them, exactly if anything, it makes their determined bearing more eloquent nothing could better emphasize Rockwells understanding that the moments emotional truth lay in Ruby Bridgess solitude. Of course they were terribly disappointed that I didnt show their faces, he would explain years later. But if Id shown the four faces, you wouldnt have seen the little girl.

Rockwells depiction of Bridges was another matter. He chose to darken her skin tone, making it darker, in fact, than that of either Lynda or Anita Gunn. Today, such artistic license deliberately darkening a subjects appearance as a way of overemphasizing race and provoking the viewer would be seen as racially insensitive. But he plainly hoped to disconcert Looks readers by making her blackness the pictures central issue. Paradoxically, that also made her unmistakable individuality more arresting.

Except for the somewhat too-vivid yellow of the marshals armbands arguably, the pictures only flaw and the almost bridal whiteness of the little girls dress, which is one of its masterstrokes, the only patch of color thats meant to draw the eye is the stain on the wall behind them, the residue of a flung tomato. (It took me ten tomatoes to look as though it had really splashed, Rockwell later recalled.) But its not as prominent as Problems most shocking ingredient today: the all-caps racial slur scrawled on the wall.

With its decapitated marshals and the diminutive Ruby walking in stark profile, the painting is among Rockwells most stylized. There is even an artificiality to the way the four bodyguards left arms are cocked back so that the viewer can see their badges as well as the court order tucked into the lead marshals side jacket pocket. The artist has pared down the actual event to its essential meaning an atypical treatment for Rockwell, who loved to pack his canvases with incidental detail.

Whats strikingly absent, except by unpleasant implication, is Rockwells most durable theme: community. The mob heckling Ruby Bridges is nowhere to be seen, and only gradually does it sink in that its because were looking at Bridges and her escorts from the mobs point of view. We can only dissociate ourselves from them by refusing complicity.

When the Look issue came out, Rockwell was in Moscow, which would have confirmed white bigots worst suspicions even or especially if theyd known he was participating in a cultural exchange program at the US Information Agencys behest. He didnt return home until early February, entirely unaware of how The Problem We All Live With had been received.

According to Solomon, he was greeted by sacks of disapproving mail from readers that Looks editors had forwarded to him. The negative letters were venomous: Anybody who advocates, aids or abets the vicious crime of racial integration is nothing short of a traitor to the white race, and a traitor to the illustrious white founders of this country, wrote G.L. Le Bon of New Orleans. THE WAR HAS JUST BEGUN!

But there were supportive letters, too. Chester Martin of Chattanooga, Tennessee, wrote, I have never been so deeply moved by any picture. ... Thank you for showing this white Southerner how ridiculous he looks. The truth is pretty hard to take until we get it from a Norman Rockwell. Onetime Negro League third baseman turned real estate broker and occasional poet David J. Malarcher was stirred enough to send Look a poem hed written in honor of the illustration, including these verses: Their hands are tense / Their gait is rare / Their arms are ready for the fray / The little girl is unaware / That she is history today.

Another approving letter came from a self-described former Rockwell debunker whod once scoffed at how maudlin and commercial his work was. Permit me now to choke on my words. ... YOU have just said in one painting what people cannot say in a lifetime. In his thank-you letter, Rockwell modestly explained that I am [sic] just had my seventieth birthday and I am trying to be a bit more adult in my work.

Adult is an interesting choice of words for a man his age. When Mary was alive, Rockwell had plunged into therapy, almost as if he couldnt stand the idea of Mary monopolizing the shrinks attention. He had sessions twice a week with Erik Erikson, the analyst to whom we owe the locution identity crisis. Erikson was famous mainly for his work with troubled children, and the most beloved illustrator in American magazine history occasionally resembled one. The side of Rockwell that had never matured left him uncommonly dependent on validation from others, maybe now more than ever.

As a result, Hurlburts encouragement thrilled him. Besides offering specific recommendations that Rockwell happily accepted it was Hurlburt who suggested the marshals be depicted with their arms back he provided the support and approval Rockwell craved. I dont want to sound slushy or sentimental, he wrote Hurlburt in the spring of 1966, but I cant resist writing you to tell you how much your creative art direction has meant to me. You have given me the opportunity over and over again to paint pictures of contemporary subjects that I am fascinated with.

The most unsparing picture he ever painted was the accompanying illustration for a 1965 Look article called Southern Justice. As unknown today as Problem is famous, Murder in Mississippi was Rockwells depiction of the June 21, 1964, killing of civil rights workers Mickey Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney two white New Yorkers and a local African American volunteer by Klansmen and local police. Spooky, harshly lit, and almost barren, its as close as Rockwell ever came to Goyas Los Desastres de la Guerra.

Because the exact circumstances under which the three men died werent known, Rockwell struggled with deciding how to portray their final moments, initially including their killers in the frame before reducing them to looming shadows. What stays constant is his depiction of the victims: one dead, one dying, one grimly preparing to meet his fate.

Sprawled on the ground, Goodman has already been killed. Schwerner is still standing, his head turned in profile to gaze at his executioners. Linking the two white men is Chaney, whos been shot once and is on his knees, clutching Schwerner with both hands for support. Schwerners right hand has pulled him close in an embrace, tugging up Chaneys T-shirt to expose his bare back, Rockwells way of emphasizing both Chaneys race and his vulnerability.

Rockwells unusually detailed notes on the murders are a moving testimony to his determination to do right by the civil rights workers. He remarked on Goodman and Schwerners beatnik sneakers and blue jeans. In one poignant observation, he wrote that they had, all three, had haircuts the day before. The reference photos also emphasize his emotional commitment. His son Jarvis modeled as Schwerner, and Rockwell himself posed for a detail photo of Chaneys bloodied hand gripping Schwerners bicep. Both the hand and the bicep are Rockwells.

It could be the most strangely haunting picture of Norman Rockwell anybody ever took. Because his facial expression doesnt matter, hes gazing placidly at the camera, wearing a slight smile. Yet, consciously or not, by impersonating Schwerner and Chaney simultaneously, hes claiming an identification with both victims one black, one white.

I tried in a big way to make an angry painting, he wrote to Hurlburt in May 1965. If I just had a bit of Ben Shahn in me it would have helped. Its an interesting wish, since the very left-wing Shahns Depression-era paintings had derived their force from semi-grotesque distortions that were utterly at odds with Rockwells innate naturalism. As it happened, Hurlburt apparently agreed; Look opted to print not Rockwells final version of the scene but one of his rawer preliminary studies. Only 18 months into their association, this was the acid test of Rockwells trust in his new patrons. Initially disgruntled, he ended up conceding that All the anger that was in the sketch had gone out of the finished painting.

Look would never print a Rockwell picture that angry again.

During the next five years, Rockwells paintings on contemporary subjects for Look were hardly confined to indictments. Hed simply gotten more selective in the aspects of modern America he found worth celebrating. He painted more than one picture championing the Peace Corps: I love ... the ideals and the performances of these young people, he told Hurlburt. He boosted Lyndon Johnsons war on poverty. Maybe most endearingly, he was besotted with NASA, producing gadget-happy depictions of the space program.

Even the third and last of his major civil rights paintings for Look struck a relatively hopeful note, amounting to a reconciliation of the Norman Rockwell of yore with his new focus on topicality. New Kids in the Neighborhood featured a pair of black children and a trio of white ones sizing each other up as a moving van is unloaded behind them. The benign mood is undercut only by a detail that isnt easy to spot even face-to-face with the original and that must have been indiscernible in Looks reduced reproduction: a white woman peering from a nearby window, her expression conveying worry, verging on hostility.

Rockwell hardly wanted New Kids in the Neighborhood to be his last word on the subject. But he and Look were unable to agree on the much grimmer painting he proposed next. Existing in multiple versions, none of which seems to be fully finished, Blood Brothers depicts two men one black, one white dying side by side in a pool of their intermingled blood. The point, of course, is that you cant tell whose blood is whose.

Initially, Rockwell wanted to set Blood Brothers in the ghetto, in the parlance of the era. But Look urged him to transpose the scene to Vietnam, which would obviously have implied a different set of pieties. Rockwell gave the revision a dutiful try. By late 1968, however, he was grumbling, I think I want to go back to the ghetto.

Either because of that impasse or some other dispute, he and Hurlburt eventually abandoned the idea. But if the combat zone version of Blood Brothers had seen print, it would have been Rockwells only painting for Look to deal with the Vietnam War head-on. He may have balked because the concept left his personal position on the war unstated, and he and his wife, Molly, were both staunch in their opposition to it.

As citizens, he and Molly werent shy about letting Lyndon Johnson know where they stood. An uncooperative sitter when Rockwell had painted the new president in 1964, LBJ likely grew weary of the stream of telegrams from the couple demanding negotiations instead of bombing. But a Rockwell artwork directly attacking the war would have been too polarizing for Looks editors, and it appears he never proposed one.

What he could do was agree to paint philosopher and peace activist Bertrand Russells portrait for the very left-leaning Ramparts in 1967. Almost a quarter-century after tackling the Four Freedoms for the Pentagons Office of War Information, he firmly refused a Marine Corps request to produce a propaganda poster. I was supposed to do a portrait of a soldier in Vietnam kneeling over to help a wounded villager and love shining in their eyes, Rockwell told Womens Wear Daily in 1968. I thought about it a lot, and my wife said, You cant do that and you know you cant. [So] Im doing John Glenn instead. The first American astronaut to orbit Earth was the kind of Marine Rockwell had no problem lionizing.

By the late 60s, he often heard from older fans who wondered why he couldnt go on giving them those sweet old pictures like you used to do. But Rockwell was unmoved. You cant make the good old days come back just by painting pictures of them, he snorted. That kind of stuff is dead now and I think its about time, he told another interviewer.

After a lifetime of diffidence, Rockwells interviews from the end of the decade are remarkably energetic and cocky, militant, even. Without disavowing his earlier work I couldnt have had my tongue in my cheek for 50 years he never stopped insisting that red-cheeked little boys and mongrel dogs no longer typified America. Now its all sex or race troubles, he remarked, homosexuality or college riots, and I think its a great challenge. Even more startlingly, he declared in that pivotal year of protest, 1968, that he couldnt paint the Four Freedoms now. I just dont believe in it.

A different kind of freedom entranced him instead. Rockwell was enamored of the counterculture, not least for its visual clat. I think the hippies and the Yippies are wonderful, he told the International Herald-Tribune. I think of everybody as models, and Im so goddamned sick of business suits with conventional haircuts, like I have. In 1968, Rockwell pointedly included a hippie couple he in a fringed jacket, she with a flower in her hair among the concerned citizens in The Right to Know, his last political painting, which shows a multicultural cross-section of Americans staring accusingly at an empty leather chair. (The captions mention of wars we do not want finally made his position on Vietnam explicit.) Touchingly, among the faces all dramatically underlit is the artist himself, his hand tenderly resting on the young womans arm.

Rockwell desperately wanted to paint beat poet Allen Ginsberg as well as Bob Dylan and his family. While nothing came of either project, Rockwell did paint two of Dylans onetime sidemen when he agreed to do the cover art for guitarist Mike Bloomfield and organist Al Koopers album The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper. Its one of his most carefree paintings, showing Bloomfield smoldering through ice-blue irises and looking more sensual than any other man Rockwell ever painted, as Vanity Fairs David Kamp noted in a 2010 essay.

Nonetheless, Look expected Rockwell to do his due diligence in election years, even if his enthusiasms lay elsewhere. Tasked with painting the 1968 presidential candidates Gene McCarthy, Bobby Kennedy, and Hubert Humphrey among the Democrats; Nixon and New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller among the Republicans he chose to render all of them with two faces: the Rockwellized version of Greek masks of comedy and tragedy. (He wanted to paint independent segregationist candidate George Wallace in front of a funereally black background, but Look vetoed that one.)

As had been the case in 1960, the eventual Republican nominee the hardest man I had to paint, ever was a challenge. [Nixons] got a mean eye, he said. And then he has these big chestnuts in his jowls. That August, with the Republican convention done and the Democrats debacle in Chicago looming, Rockwell wrote to Hurlburt, I was delighted to have you call me yesterday and tell me that I dont have to paint Mr. Nixon again.

But he did. Once Nixon won, Rockwell had to paint him as Mr. President. Its now the only Rockwell painting in the National Portrait Gallery, and this time around, he managed what hed once said was impossible. His subject looks like a nice man who is, nonetheless, unmistakably Richard Nixon. At any rate, Rockwell as no one else did captured Nixons eternal, tentative, thwarted wish to be the good-hearted person he wasnt, which is the paintings peculiar beauty.

Despite his aversion to the new president as a subject for portraiture, Rockwell had voted for him this time around. Whatever prompted his choice loss of heart, alienation from the Democratic Partys 1968 shambles, or credulous hope that Nixon might actually end the war in Vietnam it was a wan coda to the most dramatic and exhilarated (indeed, the only) self-reinvention of his long career.

Largely sidelined after 1972 as he developed dementia, eventually dying in 1978 at age 84, Rockwell never painted another significant picture again.

Tom Carson is a National Magazine Award-winning writer whose work has appeared in Esquire, GQ, the New York Times, the Village Voice, Rolling Stone, and other publications.


The Problem We All Live With and the political awakening of Norman Rockwell - Vox.com

The Integrative Work of Spiritual Ecology | Gregory Eran Gronbacher – Patheos

My last post introduced my readers to the concept of spiritual ecology and I drew out some connections to Judaism. In this post, I want to briefly discuss how spiritual ecology can relate to nearly any religious tradition or practice.

At the core of spiritual ecology are the overlapping and intertwined insights and convictions that the natural world has spiritual meaning, that humans are embedded in the natural world, and how we relate to animals, the ecosystem, agriculture, natural resources effects our own well being.

Spiritual ecology does not seek to take existing religious traditions and add nature-based concerns or elements, but rather, seeks to draw out the nature based elements already present and beneficial to the tradition overall. Therefore, spiritual ecology can dialog and interact with Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, and even forms of Humanism. And spiritual ecology is relevant whether one is orthodox, liberal, traditional, or whatever.

Spiritual Ecology & Holidays

Think about religious holidays for a moment. Sukkot is replete with nature-based imagery, calls us outside into the sukkah, and coincides with the time of the harvest. Scholars tend to think the origins of the holiday are deeply rooted in earlier harvest traditions and celebrations. In our modern world alienated from nature, it is too easy to neglect or even miss altogether the ecological aspects of the holiday which rather than detract from its deeper, spiritual meanings, enhance them.

Consider the Christian holiday of Christmas. While no one knows the exact date of Jesus birth, and while there are historical reasons for the holiday taking place when it does (supplanting earlier Pagan celebrations), from a Christian perspective having the celebration coincide with the Winter Solstice the renewal of light makes much sense. The same can be said of Hanukkah.

Part of the underlying structure of these, and many other celebrations, is natures cycles and rhythms. The specific timing of the holidays and festivals may vary due to culture and geographical location, but the cycles of the sun and seasons, and the corresponding agricultural events are the basis and structure for many of our enduring holidays.

A common thread is the recognition that attuning to the natural rhythms of nature can reconnect us to our place in the ecosystem and be a powerful tool for personal and spiritual transformation and growth.The seasons provide opportunity for reflection, personal accounting, and marking off significant times and events in our life. We live each day with the symbolism and metaphor of the constant progression/changing of the seasons. And yes, such things have spiritual power and significance and are not foreign or contrary to any of the worlds major religious traditions.

Spiritual Ecology & Environmental Responsibility

Spiritual ecology as a religious impulsebegins to suggest practices and disciplines that we can take upon ourselves to increase awareness and reconnection to others, the natural world, and therefore ourselves.We engage such practices to elevate our lives and move us toward wholeness. No spiritual practice fulfills its meaning unless it make us a better, more whole and loving person.

As we increasingly realize the potential dangers of climate change, pollution, and how many aspects of our lifestyle choices damage the environment, we also realize our moral obligations to lessen the harm we do. This recognition is not a partisan political one, it is simply the understanding that to the degree to which we harm the planet is to the degree to which we harm ourselves. There may be debate over the exact causes, corrective measures, and the like, but one cannot responsibly ignore the issues of climate change, the destruction of ecosystems, and our all too often callous attitude toward the natural world.

The thinking of spiritual ecology is that environmental concern is existential concern, that there is a moral and spiritual aspect to these issues, and that our responses will be most effective when they recognize such. Obviously, science and technology are vital and pivotal to finding solutions that will help protect the environment. But human attitudes and values must change as well, and changing human values and attitudes is, in part, a religious task.

What are your thoughts? Have you encountered ideas, books, or people into spiritual ecology? Was it a good experience?

See the original post here:

The Integrative Work of Spiritual Ecology | Gregory Eran Gronbacher - Patheos

Answers to life, death and everything in between – The Hindu

Religious texts have long shone a torch on the path to enlightenment, happiness and gratitude, yet we walk the aisles of book stores in search of a compass that will help us navigate resentment, grief and modern love. Sensitivity trainer TT Srinath has been at this for a while now asking existential questions since he lost his father as a teen, struggled as an entrepreneur and trained thousands as a human interaction facilitator before finding his voice as a writer of four books and a column in MetroPlus. Over the past few years, his Conversations with Self that appears on our Health pages has engaged with the world, warmly without being preachy.

When we meet to discuss his latest book, Facing My Mirror What It Means To Live In This World, Srinath, from a well-established industrialist family, looks back on the tough years that shaped his life and thinking, with disarming humanism.

What I would now define as setbacks in life primarily because of circumstances that were beyond my control were actually instances when life was presenting me a fork in the road; asking me to make a choice. While I made those choices, I did not like the consequences. But choice also gives you the power to be responsive rather than reactive. When I came to appreciate that it led to who I have become, says Srinath. I realised that there is no point being futuristic, no point of worrying about the past. Every day is a gift.

While Srinath had enough material from his own journey to help others accept or avoid lifes minefields, the idea for the book originated in early 2018, when he was unwell and juggling a training workshop he has trained nearly 30,000 participants and worked with 120 organisations across the world. A member of the Indian Society for Applied Behavioural Science, Srinath holds a doctorate from Anna University, Chennai, in Organisational Behaviour. His first introduction to existentialism came from a Jesuit, Father John Prabhu, while pursuing a post-graduate degree in Human Resource Management at XLRI, Jamshedpur. He lent me Mans Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. The book could not have come to me at a better time I was still low from the death of my father, I was trying to find my place in my extended family. It helped me recognise that there are certain givens you are born and you will die. So between those two posts, how do you embrace life, embrace people. And accept the pain that comes with the choices you make. The only choices we have are can I learn to appreciate my uniqueness, celebrate it and, therefore, celebrate the other; can I take charge of my life and find my authenticity.

Frankl continues to remain an important part of Srinaths book that had a soft launch, anchored by historian Pradeep Chakravarthy, earlier this week. Industrialist Suresh Krishna received the first copy from N Ravi, director, Kasturi and Sons. While Krishna spoke on how the book defines the weighty concept of existentialism in simple language, Ravi spoke on how it was a reflection of the writer who has transformed many times over in the four decades Ive known him. It does not handout bailouts for a perfect life; instead it suggests how to find a path.

Nirmala Lakshman, director, The Hindu Group Publishing, who has also written the foreword for the book, said, This is a book that must be dipped into often, a much-needed manual that can show us who we really are.

The book begins at what we consider the end death, and demystifies a subject that many do not wish to dwell upon. It is also an outpouring that the path to happiness is to not be in pursuit of it at all.

Facing My Mirror, published by Shakthi Forms, will be launched on February 28 at Higginbothams, Anna Salai, at 6.30 pm. The author will be in conversation with Vinay Kamath, Senior Associate Editor, The Hindu Businessline, and author-playwright-poet Shreekumar Varma.

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Answers to life, death and everything in between - The Hindu

Democratic Socialism in the Twenty-First Century – CounterPunch

In the previous century I was a regular columnist for The Humanist magazine, and I was fortunate to work for an editor, Rick Szykowny, who was committed to publishing both class conscious and explicitly socialist writers. On March 1, 1994, The Humanist published my article titled The Good Fight: The Case for Socialism in the 21stCentury. The article is archived online at The Free Library. Heres an excerpt:

Rosa Luxemburg pointed out in the last piece she wrote before her death that certain socialist successes had been Pyrrhic victories, whereas there was much to be learned and gained from those historical defeats which constitute the pride and power of international socialism. There is not a single word or ideal that has not been dragged through the mud and blood of this centuryincluding democracy and humanism. Shall we invent a new language altogether to be able to go on with life and still pass on our stories? Is the burden and shame of the old words too great this late in the twentieth century? Broken-hearted silence and withdrawal have a certain minimum of integrity. But the century approaching will bring us still greater shame and burdens if we leave politics only to politicians, and if we abandon the great majority of our own species to another era of wars and hunger. We can choose to fight the good fight.

In my sixth decade, I have lived long enough to recall the eye-rolling tolerance of progressives who preferred their social icons on postage stamps, who voted by rote for pragmatic candidates, who wrote checks to the ACLU and the Sierra Club, and who nevertheless made their peace with bipartisan war and empire. The deep lesson they learned from the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall was that social democracy made visits to Europe interesting, but that a comfortable life at home simply ruled out taking personal and political risks that might derail careers and create bad blood round Thanksgiving tables.

Since my social circle includes many academics, the fevered fantasies on the far right regarding troops of tenured radicals seemed absurd. True enough, a fraction of professors in higher education are, in fact, committed socialists. For that matter, a fraction of the very rich have always understood too well the brute facts behind the expensively groomed figures in corporate culture. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was even moved to join this fraction of class traitors, in an era of militant labor strikes and factory occupations. Roosevelt notably stated at Madison Square Garden in a public speech in 1936:

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peacebusiness and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob. Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for meand I welcome their hatred.

Among secular humanists, then and now, there has been an ongoing debate about the very meaning of humanism, and an unsurprising division of opinion about rational policies in public life. In fact, humanists of various kinds span the whole political spectrum. Some are true believers in the free market and even in the vainglorious egoism of Ayn Rand; others hope to reform capitalism with the kind of managerial plans recommended by Elizabeth Warren, who has stated I am a capitalist to my very bones; and some are committed, like Bernie Sanders, to democratic socialism, including the kind of social democratic policies the Sanders campaign honorably supports.

Though I send donations to the Sanders campaign, I reserve my votes for socialist candidates of the Green Party, because their Green New Deal is far better than the shoplifted product of the Democratic Party. If they make it on the ballot, I also sometimes vote for independent socialists opposed to both of the big corporate parties. I gladly give much credit to Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez, and others who have taken discussion of democracy and socialism to a much wider public. Too damn easy to snipe from sectarian bunkers at the new wave of young socialists who have joined the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), and the much larger number of voters and citizens who are the solid base in the Sanders campaign.

What really matters most now is that a growing number of working people are in motion, and that a class-conscious popular movement is on a collision course with the anti-democratic old guard within the Democratic National Committee (DNC). If the next Democratic Convention is a brokered convention designed to stop the Sanders campaign by any means necessary, then the old guard may retreat into the gilded palace of the DNC and finally pull down the roof and pillars on their own heads.

A class-conscious fight for basic democracy must also include radical reforms in the existing electoral system, so that councils of workers and neighbors finally become the living foundation of a democratic republic. We can have real democracy in this country or we can have the two party system, but we cannot have both. The political independence of workers and of class-conscious allies certainly includes a political revolution, just as Sanders recommends. Though we can fully expect the ruling class to wage a political counterrevolution through campaigns of organized lying and through ongoing economic assaults on the great majority of working people.

A democratic republic will certainly require a political revolution in campaign financing and in electoral laws. Including the overturning of the Supreme Courts decision in Citizens United, and the abolition of the Electoral College. Equally certain is that a political revolution will be more easily eroded without an economic revolution gained through actual class struggles in workplaces, in neighborhoods, and in daily life.

For both moral and strategic reasons, non-violent resistance against the corporate state is by far the best way forward. Anyone inclined toward gunfights with the state is willfully ignorant of the fact that they are far outgunned by the state, but they have also mistaken class-conscious power with state violence. That kind of political romanticism has far more in common with a fundamentally amoral corporate state than with a democratic movement for socialism. Fortunately, the little Lenins of the left are a small minority, though at crucial junctures they may wield an influence beyond their actual numbers. To this day, there are sectarians who have not reckoned with the actual course of the Russian Revolution, that stormy coalition of workers, peasants and intellectuals who formed workers councils and popular assemblies.

Lenin even wrote one of the classic documents of the libertarian left in August and September of 1917, titled The State and Revolution. He was moody and cunning, however, and by 1920 he was writing Left Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder. By 1921, Emma Goldman gave a speech at the grave of the anarchist Peter Kropotkin, and indeed his funeral would be the last time anarchists were permitted to demonstrate in public. In the same year, Lenin and the Central Committee mobilized troops to crush the Kronstadt Rebellion. In the previous century, an earnest member of the Spartacist League informed me that this rebellion was simply a misadventure of degenerate elements and lumpenproles.

By the time Lenin wrote his Last Will and Testament in 1922, he did give a warning: Comrade Stalin, having become Secretary-General, has unlimited authority concentrated in his hands, and I am not sure whether he will always be capable of using that authority with sufficient caution. Furthermore, Lenin added: Stalin is too rude and this defect, although quite tolerable in our midst and in dealing among us Communists, becomes intolerable in a Secretary-General.

This reference to the Russian Revolution may be of interest to democratic socialists for both moral and strategic reasons. Some readers may be impatient with past revolutions, and certainly our first duty is to stand our ground in present circumstances. Even so, we are better oriented to reality if we can glance backward to gain perspective, the better to acknowledge both the losses and gains of the world socialist movement over the past hundred years. Moreover, gaining a sense of history is not simply an academic exercise. What began as a Russian Revolution did not consolidate a democratic republic, and ended in a Bolshevik coup detat.

Some have argued that a plural coalition of peasants, workers, social anarchists, social democrats, and socialist revolutionaries was fated to fail without successful revolutions in Europe, and only the centralizing drive of Lenin had any chance of holding the red fortress in Russia. The Bolshevik theorists of revolution considered themselves in possession of a scientific doctrine that justified their own course of action, exclusively in command of state power and of state violence.

The crucial distinction between power and violence is worth our attention, since the ruling class rules far more often through institutional power than through outright violence. Consider the police power of the state, and the most honest opponents of assassins in uniform will acknowledge that the institutional impunity of the police is established not only by bullets but also by class and racial disparities in legal penalties, including the barbarism of the death penalty. When we confront state terrorism within national borders, then class-consciousness also grows in opposition to an unaccountable military budget and to endless wars.

Sanders is not our best guide in getting a clear public account of the vast Pentagon budget, nor has he been the most consistent public witness against imperial wars. But he has changed incrementally, and for the better, even on these issues. He has been challenged to be more honest about the racist and colonial regime in Israel, and he has become more forthright in criticism of state Zionism.

Outrageously, MSNBCs Chuck Todd recently addressed his guest, Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus, and stated,Ruth, we have all been on the receiving end of the Bernie online brigade. Quoting a column by Jonathan Last in The Bulwark, Todd said, Heres what [Last] says, no other candidate has anything like this digital brown shirt brigade except for Donald Trump. The question is this, What if you cant win the presidency without an online mob? What if we live where having a bullying, aggro social media online army popping anyone who sticks their head up, is an ingredient for or a critical marker of success? Has Todd no sense of decency, has he no sense of shame? Members of Sanders family were murdered by the Nazis.

A New York Times columnist, Frank Bruni, had previously opined that Trump and Sanders are ideological mirror images of each other, and the graphic that ran with his column showed the heads of both men facing off in profile and encircled with flames. Bruni got merely rich in the course of flattering the stratospherically wealthy career politicians of his chosen party. For the record, Bruni also wrote a meatloaf cookbook, where his taste and talent are better featured.

What do we think of law, order, democracy? The story may be apocryphal, but a reporter once asked Mohandas Gandhi, Mr. Gandhi, what do you think of Western civilization? Gandhi replied, I think it would be a good idea. Likewise, we can agree that reason and persuasion are best in making the case for law, order and democracy. The contradiction we face is that the ruling class is very highly class conscious of its own privilege in extracting profit from the whole planet, including from the lives and bodies of working people. In their version of capitalist meritocracy, the great majority of the human species does not merit any great share of their consideration. The stark and growing class divisions in this country are not an accidents of ruling class power and public policies, but necessities of the accumulation of capital across global borders and of imperial wars.

We are many, they are few. Democracy from the ground up is both the moral and political strength of any socialist movement worth our brief time on earth. This does not mean socialists should resign ourselves only to personal acts of witness. The whole field of social relations becomes the ground of struggle. If we lose our moral bearings, we will also lose any sane orientation to socialist goals. But the ruling class also gets a vote in the use of brute force, and indeed they exercise that option far more often than the working class, as the whole history of class struggles has proven.

Raising the ground floor of social democracy in health care, housing and education is common ground between social democrats and democratic socialists. These are certainly radical reforms, and cannot be won and defended without popular resistance against the corporate state. Whatever happens in the presidential election, the movement for democratic socialism will cross party lines and go beyond the year 2020.No friction, no traction.

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Democratic Socialism in the Twenty-First Century - CounterPunch

The Neoliberal Time Capsule of Ricki and the Flash – The Spool

Every month, we at The Spool select a filmmaker to explore in greater depth their themes, their deeper concerns, how their works chart the history of cinema and the filmmakers own biography. For February, were celebrating acclaimed genre-bender Jonathan Demme. Read the rest of our coveragehere.

2015s Ricki and the Flash doesnt know whats about to happen. It doesnt know it would silence the successful string of Singing Streep films. It doesnt know its Jonathan Demmes final film. And it doesnt fully realize the changing conservative political tide that was about to crest over America the following year.

Ricki and the Flash is a rock n roll fable about Ricki, a prodigal mother (Meryl Streep) who returns to bourgeois Indiana from her life as a working-class musician to help estranged daughter Julie (Mamie Gummer) through her divorce and suicide attempt. Her return reignites hostilities with ex-husband Pete (Kevin Kline) and sons Josh and Adam (Sebastian Stan and Nick Westrate). But with a little classic rock, the atypical family learns to accept one another. Sorta.

Ricki Rendazzo (real name Linda Brummell) is complex and flawed, to use 2015s euphemisms. She is a rock n roll baby boomer whose ideology is in direct conflict with the music she sings. She makes disparaging racial remarks about Obama, thinks all Asian people look alike, has a Dont Tread On Me back tattoo, and thinks her son Adams homosexuality is a passing lifestyle choice. While Ricki seems to be composed entirely of cognitive dissonance, the film interrogates none of these flaws, which rings a little tragic in a post-Trump world.

Uncharacteristically, Demmes camera feels invisible. This film has a straight-forward, matter-of-fact style that works to humanize its grisly protagonist. However, true to form, Demme composes some crackerjack musical sequences. Even the surprising renditions of Lady Gagas Bad Romance and P!nks Get This Party Started are shot with earnest verve. Demme, till the very end, has a wonderful eye for music. He knows how to cut to compliment the rhythm and is still masterfully able to get us inside the songs.

Written by Diablo Cody (Juno, Jennifers Body, Young Adult), this off-kilter rock dramedy has a lot of good things going for it. An incredible cast headlines the film; Kline and Streep, pairing now for the third time, bring their tender chemistry back full circle. Streep and real-life daughter Gummer have a wonderful working rapport that makes the snipes weve come to expect from Cody feel all that more delicious.

There are plenty of winners in the supporting cast, too. Rock icon and consistent charmer Rick Springfield is a delight as Greg, Rickis somewhat boyfriend and lead guitarist of The Flash. Multi-Tony-Award-Winner Audra McDonald plays Maureen, Petes all-too-patient second wife. Unlike the film, we will return to her.

2015s Ricki and the Flash doesnt know whats about to happen.

Ricki and The Flashs tone runs all over the place. While the film doesnt get bogged down with subplots or unnecessary twists, the awkwardness of the films halves makes for a jolting momentum. Gummer does the best she can, finding golden moments of humor in a character that has to take a backseat to her family drama.

The film turns into a sentimental melodrama, as the second half forgets Julies struggles entirely and focuses on Ricki patching things up with her sons. All this while Ricki and The Flash intermittently pad the film with rousing covers of classic rock songs. They end the wedding with Bruce Springsteens My Love Will Not Let You Down and Canned Heats Lets Work Together.

But can they ever really work together? Wont Rickis love let her family down because of her beliefs? Looking back on contemporary reviews at the time, 2015 was happy to tepidly tip-toe around Rickis bigotry. Streep, never one to take on politically radical roles, pulls back just enough to let us know this is one background the grande chameleon is unwilling to disappear into. (Why she thought The Iron Lady wasnt as fraught, I still have no idea.)

Many critics avoided the politics altogether. But some critics praised the rebellious mother for her strength in pursuit of her dreams, despite societal pressure. Some even thought she should have been more outspoken instead of letting her family walk all over her. Others saw the familys animosity stem not from bigotry, but being fundamentally decent people whose choices have put them at odds with one another.

There were a few critics who acknowledged the troublesome politics, but downplay their severity. Ricki is described as more of an experiment than a person we should take seriously. Others focused on how Demmes use of ritual and music dissolve[s] [the] boundaries that Rickis beliefs put up in the family. To some extent this is true. Ricki performing at her sons wedding seems to make amends. But this moment plasters over Rickis politics, it does not acknowledge, correct them, or show theyve changed.

This isnt too say 2015 overlooked Rickis problems altogether. Slate critic Dana Stevens rightfully finds Rickis attitudes mournfully unexplored, despite it being a logical conversation to have. In his New York Times review, Bob Vergara describes Cody and Demme as conflict-averse and is justifiably confused as to why liberal-minded Demme didnt interrogate further. But even these reviews do not think Rickis problems are remarkable enough to investigate fully. They are happy to leave the film with a patronizing and benign ok, boomer commentary and move on.

Watching Ricki and the Flash after 2016 makes us realize how dangerous Ricki is.

Essentially, the Hollywood of 2015 had an optimism that the following year would prove completely unfounded. Even though the increased public discourse on police brutality and the rage of the riots in Ferguson, Missouri had begun in earnest the year before, many still thought 2016 would maintain the era of liberal centrism ushered in under the Obama administration. Only Varietys Andrew Barker, in acknowledging the changing shift in classic rock demographics, seems to sense the lurking trembles of right-wing populism in the films subconscious.

Though the film believes liberal goodness will change hearts and minds, watching Ricki and the Flash after 2016 makes us realize how dangerous Ricki is. Demme and Cody see Ricki and her politics as a flash in the pan, the last gasp of a dying ideology. Only now do we see the flash is actually the flicker of an oncoming train entering a long dark tunnel.

This is a movie about a wandering generation that believes in fierce, unregulated independence (for some). Ricki set out following the promises of rock n roll only to find that failure was still possible. Yet she refuses to see any link between her poverty and the ideologies she espouses. Time has shown that Ricki doesnt have to wait long. Her lost generation was about to find itself to monstrous effect.

And this distance is no more palpable than when we watch how she itself interacts with McDonald. Take for instance, the first scene with Ricki at The Brummels palatial abode. They already hint at this new wife, but shes not at home because shes visiting her sick father in Seattle.

Ricki sarcastically comments on the marble foyer to which Pete replies sometimes I feel like Jefferson at Monticello. Which, you know, makes McDonald into Sally Hemmings. If you dont know that one of the most acclaimed black performers of our time is in this movie, you might forget to yikes when Maureen shows up an hour later.

When they are on screen together, the tension between Ricki and Maureen feels heightened amongst a new political climate. Far from a meek and mild second wife, McDonald turns Maureen into a strong and intelligent force. We hold our breath, waiting for racial hostilities to ignite. Weve seen how people like Ricki who come into power respond to black dissenting bodies. But it never comes.

Ricki and the Flash captures a particular moment in American history where our liberal elite thought their reign was far from over. They were too scared to address existing racial tension because we were post-racial. Everything was going to be fine. The film paints Ricki as a fossil, a relic from a fading time. Demmes trademark humanism encouraged sympathy for a woman left behind by the system.

But now, because people gloss over her bigotry, this sympathy has turned to fear and loathing. We know it is entirely possible that Ricki doesnt learn her lesson and that, one day, in the not so distant future, we would have to confront her ideologies on a much grander scale.Watching Ricki and The Flash now reveals how ephemeral film can be and how our relationship to what it preserves changes over time. Far from static, films change over the years because the reflection changes. As such, Demmes final work leaves us looking at a funhouse mirror in which we can see our social distortions. We owe it to his legacy to learn from it.

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The Neoliberal Time Capsule of Ricki and the Flash - The Spool

Inside the Cuban Hospitals That Castro (and Bernie) Doesn’t Want Tourists to See – PanAm Post

I saw biological waste discarded in a regular trash can. The beds had no linen, and the only equipment around was the bag of IV fluids hanging above them. (File)

As Cuba has become an issue in the U.S. Presidential election, we have thought it useful to republish the PanAm Posts own research on Cubas healthcare system:

By the time I climbed the steps of the emergency room entrance in San Miguel, Havana, I could already tell that the supposed first-classhealth care provided in Cuba was a myth. Hospitals in the islands capital areliterally falling apart.

Friends told me to dress like a Cuban and not to speak while inside, since my Argentinean accent would give meaway the moment I said hello. A member of the opposition Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU) party came along to guide me in my journey to the core of communist-style medicine.

We entered the hospital at 10 p.m. on an ordinary Saturday night in September. Three out of the hospitals four stories were closed. Only the ER was operational.

We have been waiting for an ambulance for four hours, yelleda man wearing green scrubs, who seemed to be a doctor. I sat on one of the four plastic chairs in the waiting area. My friend kept stilland gestured to let me know I should remain silent and listen to the patients and theirrelatives.

Twenty minutes went by,and still no ambulance. The man in green scrubsremained at his mothers side on an improvised stretcher, trying not to lose hispatience. They looked like characters from the play Waiting for Godot.

The scarce equipment available gave the building the appearance of a makeshift medicalcamp, rather than a hospital in the nations capital.

I stood up and continued my tour.Two nurses stared at us but didnt say a word as we entered an intensive-care unit, where the facilitys air-conditioned area began.

My guide a taxi driver for tourists who dont get to see this part of town told me that all the doctors working the night shift are still inschool. Indeed, none of them appeared to be older than25.

The only working bathroom in the entire hospital had only one toilet. The door didnt close, so you had to go with people outside watching. Toilet paper was nowhere to be found, and the floor was far from clean.

I saw biological waste discarded in a regular trash can. The beds had no linen, and the only equipment around was the bag of IV fluids hanging above them. All doctors offices had handwritten signs on the doors, and at least four patients waited outside each room. The average wait time for each was around three hours.

Orderlies were also nowhere to be seen. A young man had to push his mother on a stretcher until he reached the line of those waiting for anambulance.[adrotate group=8]I leftthe hospital after a couple hours. Once outside, puzzled by the large bags the people entering the hospital were carrying, I asked my friend to explain.

Well, theyhave to bring everything with them, because the hospital provides nothing. Pillows, sheets, medicine: everything, he said.

Cubas Public Health Ministry runs all hospitals in the country and is in charge of centrally dictating public-health policies. The socialized medical system, delivered at no charge to Cuban patients, is akeypropaganda tool of the Castro regime.

Since the triumph of the Revolution, making sure that Cubans have free health care has become a fundamental social cornerstone,Granma, the Communist Partys official media outlet, boasts in an article. This is in linewith thehumanism and social justice of our revolutionary process.

Socialists and progressives outside of Cuba have also been known to gush over the islands state-run health-care system.

In 2007, filmmaker Michael Moore released a documentary that featured US citizens who traveled to Cuba to get free medical treatment. Moore claimed they received services comparable to what ordinary Cuban citizens would have received.

The Cuban people have free universal health care. Theyve become known as having not only one of the best health-care systems, but as being one of the most generous countries in providing doctors and medical equipment to third-world countries, Mooresays inSicko.

Yilian Jimnez Expsito, general director of Cuban Medical Services, toldGranma in an interviewthat the secret lies in the medicaltraining under a socialist system, where doctors do not view the patientas merchandise or acustomer; where every citizen has aright to health care from birth to the grave,without discrimination.

However, Hilda Molina, a Cuban neurosurgeon who turned against Castro, explained in an interview with El Cato that the whole sector is under tight government control, which shuts downs private alternatives or independent organizations.

These arbitrary measures, aside frommany othernegative consequences, had a terrible impact, ethically: the sacreddoctor-patient relationship was replaced with animpersonal government-patient dynamic. When patientsare forced to seekcare from government-sanctioned doctors and facilities, they suffer distress, whether consciously or unconsciously, immersed in a deep sensation of insecurity, she said.

The regime has neither provided Cubans with equality nor fairness in health care. The ruling elite, theirrelatives and friends,get better service than the rest, Molina lamented.

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Inside the Cuban Hospitals That Castro (and Bernie) Doesn't Want Tourists to See - PanAm Post

The tormentor of the Krakow ghetto: The secret life of Horst Pilarzik – DW (English)

A sporty Mercedes with a handsome man at the wheel pulls up at the sidewalk. Nearby, a young man is waiting. The driver signals to him to get in, and they speed off. It's the late 1950s; the Mercedes races down the wide streets of a freshly reconstructed Frankfurt am Main. In the city center, the tall buildings herald a new dawn. Shoppers are busy indulging their lust for consumption in the crowded pedestrian zones. These are the years of the German economic miracle.

The driver of the car is Horst Burkhart, a hotel manager, aged about 40. The young passenger is his nephew, Jochen, who is probably suitably impressed. Horst is rich; he surrounds himself with attractive women, takes them out on yachting trips. Jochen and Horst get along well; they often meet in Frankfurt in the evening and go to a bar. Horst likes a drink.

Many years later, Jochen is reluctant to talk about these meetings. His daughter Christiane encourages him, but he pleads forgetfulness. "Oh, Chrissie, that was so long ago," he says. He seems, in his old age, to have completely repressed his memories of Horst. Whenever Christiane asks him if he knows that Horst sent hundreds, if not thousands, of Jews to Auschwitz, he always responds automatically: "Really? That's terrible," sounding surprised every time.

"The name Horst had been buzzing around me ever since I was a child. The way people talked about him was so strange. There was something not right there," recalls Christiane Falge, Jochen's daughter. Born in 1970, she was the one who decided to oppose her family and bring the story of Horst Burkhart to light. She herself never met him; he died five years before she was born.

"The whole family knew that Burkhart wasn't his real name. They played along with this game of hide-and-seek. We were always told that we must never reveal that his name was Horst Pilarzik; we weren't allowed to say that he was part of our family," she remembers.

Read more:Poland's forgotten victims of Nazism

Horst Pilarzik was a regular at well-heeled establishments and events in Frankfurt

The terror of the ghetto

After the deportations from the Krakow Ghetto in October 1942, the German occupying forces set up a labor camp on the site of two Jewish cemeteries in Krakow's Plaszow district. A young SS-Unterscharfhrer, Horst Pilarzik, was appointed camp commander. The junior officer had previously been a member of the elite SS unit "Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler." In Plaszow, he supervised a group of about 200 workers who left the ghetto each day to remove gravestones and build the camp barracks.

Mieczyslaw Pemper, a member of the Judenrat the Jewish council appointed by the Germans was a prisoner in the Plaszow camp. He remembers a man the whole ghetto feared. Pilarzik was said to have shot dead a group of Jews as they returned to the ghetto after work. According to Pemper's official report at the time, Pilarzik's justification for this was that he had only recently graduated from the SS training school and it was the first time in his life he had seen so many Jews. Testifying after the war about German criminals in Krakow, Pemper remarked that there was "nothing good to be said about Pilarzik."

Pilarzik was only in charge of the camp for a few weeks. At the beginning of 1943 he was replaced by SS-Oberscharfhrer Franz Josef Mller. He remained in Krakow, however, and on March 13 and 14, 1943 he took part in the liquidation of the ghetto. 2,000 people died, and 1,500 were sent to Auschwitz.

Read more:A German town and Josef Mengele, Auschwitz 'angel of death'

When the Nazis occupied Hungary in March 1944, the Jewish population lost their rights, were persecuted, deported and finally murdered. Sheindi Ehrenwald, 14 at the time, took notes about it all, including her deportation and life in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp which she wrote at the risk of her life. Almost her entire family was killed by the Nazis.

The photo above, probably taken about 1935, is from a happier time in the lives of the Ehrenwald family, who were merchants and part of the large Jewish community in the town of Galanta near the Austrian border. The man in the foreground is Sheindi's father Lipot (Leopold) Ehrenwald, who died in Auschwitz.

On arrival at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the newcomers who were not immediately sent to their deaths were forced to work. Sheindi was transported to a German weapons factory in Lower Silesia.

Sheindi secretly transferred her handwritten notes to index cards thrown out by the arms factory. She managed to hide and save them for the 14 months before liberation. Today, her diary is a rare testimony to that time.

"Punishment at roll call" is the title of a watercolor by Zofia Rozensztrauch, painted in 1945, that shows the brutality of German guards in the concentration camp. The painting is also on display in the exhibition of Berlin's Deutsches Historisches Museum to mark the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp 75 years ago.

Author: Stefan Dege (db)

A coat from Plaszow

These days, Christiane Falge is a university professor. She remembers hearing about clothes Horst distributed to relatives in Gliwice during the war. "He brought children's clothes and shoes as gifts for my young father, who wore them. Good quality children's boots, good warm coats," she says. She suspects they belonged to prisoners in Plaszow or Auschwitz. How else would a Krakow SS man have got hold of such clothes at that time?

In mid-1943, Horst Pilarzik was made adjutant to the third camp commandant, SS-Hauptsturmfhrer Amon Gth. Shortly afterwards he was transferred to Riga, possibly because of his excessive alcohol consumption.

Pemper describes hearing the drunken Pilarzik shouting in a Krakow casino: "Can't you find a chair for a holder of the Knight's Cross?" He was given a chair, but when it turned out that Pilarzik had no such a medal, he was moved away from Krakow. Another story suggests he was found drunk and asleep in the street.

Read more:Guilt without atonement: When Nazi Germany occupied Lodz

Escaping reality

Within the family, it was known that Horst had problems with alcohol, was aggressive, and had a lot of affairs with women, says Christiane Falge. "His life after the war was a life on the run. He drank, he beat up women, moved frequently from town to town. He was clearly afraid that the truth about his past would eventually come to light," Falge says.

As Horst Burkhart, Pilarzik lived in Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt and the Ruhr district. Although he wasn't an educated man, he found well-paid work in hotels. He had a sports car; he sailed yachts and rode horses. Beautiful women found him attractive.

But his past always threatened to catch up with him. Christiane's mother remembers a visit from two men in the 1960s, looking for Pilarzik. Was it the police? Were they Israeli agents? He was wanted by institutions that hunted war criminals. His case was also taken up by the District Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Krakow without success. Then, in 1965, Pilarzik died unexpectedly.

Read more:Nazi victim files go online in German archive

Christiane Falge researched her family past

Exposing the perpetrators

Without Falge's determination, Pilarzik's post-war life would probably have remained a secret. In 2018, she contacted the Krakow Museum and told the story of her relative. She wants the world to know about his crimes. "It's important to expose the perpetrators, like the camp commanders, and remind people of their guilt," she says.

Falge admits that it took time for her to deal with the Nazi chapter of her family history. "I don't think it's good to hide these crimes," she says. "I'm doing what I can to expose this story and bring it to light, and I feel better for it. The bad feelings that my family kept silent about Horst the mass murderer don't weigh on me as heavily as they did."

Falge's research focuses on the issue of diversity. She is involved in initiatives to counter discrimination and racism. She says she wants to raise her children with values like tolerance and humanism, so that Nazi ideology and others like it never return.

"In our house, we have visitors from all over the world. It's normal for our children that not everyone is German, and not everyone speaks German. They know that diversity is enriching," she says. She thinks for a moment. "This is probably the positive thing that's come out of this story."

This article is part of the Guilt without atonement series by DW's Polish desk in cooperation with Interia and Wirtualna Polska.

As Hitler's Propaganda Minister, the virulently anti-Semitic Goebbels was responsible for making sure a single, iron-clad Nazi message reached every citizen of the Third Reich. He strangled freedom of the press, controlled all media, arts, and information, and pushed Hitler to declare "Total War." He and his wife committed suicide in 1945, after poisoning their six children.

The leader of the German National Socialist Workers' Party (Nazi) developed his anti-Semitic, anti-communist and racist ideology well before coming to power as Chancellor in 1933. He undermined political institutions to transform Germany into a totalitarian state. From 1939 to 1945, he led Germany in World War II while overseeing the Holocaust. He committed suicide in April 1945.

As leader of the Nazi paramilitary SS ("Schutzstaffel"), Himmler was one of the Nazi party members most directly responsible for the Holocaust. He also served as Chief of Police and Minister of the Interior, thereby controlling all of the Third Reich's security forces. He oversaw the construction and operations of all extermination camps, in which more than 6 million Jews were murdered.

Hess joined the Nazi party in 1920 and took part in the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch, a failed Nazi attempt to gain power. While in prison, he helped Hitler write "Mein Kampf." Hess flew to Scotland in 1941 to attempt a peace negotiation, where he was arrested and held until the war's end. In 1946, he stood trial in Nuremberg and was sentenced to life in prison, where he died.

Alongside Himmler, Eichmann was one of the chief organizers of the Holocaust. As an SS Lieutenant colonel, he managed the mass deportations of Jews to Nazi extermination camps in Eastern Europe. After Germany's defeat, Eichmann fled to Austria and then to Argentina, where he was captured by the Israeli Mossad in 1960. Tried and found guilty of crimes against humanity, he was executed in 1962.

A participant in the failed Beer Hall Putsch, Gring became the second-most powerful man in Germany once the Nazis took power. He founded the Gestapo, the Secret State Police, and served as Luftwaffe commander until just before the war's end, though he increasingly lost favor with Hitler. Gring was sentenced to death at Nuremberg but committed suicide the night before it was enacted.

Author: Cristina Burack

Every evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. Sign up to receive it directly here.

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The tormentor of the Krakow ghetto: The secret life of Horst Pilarzik - DW (English)

In Karnataka teens cry of Pakistan zindabad, an echo of Tagores thoughts about patriotism – Scroll.in

As I write these words, a young woman is sitting behind tall walls in a prison somewhere in Karnataka, shadowed with the stigma of two among the gravest crimes in Indias statute books. The first is of these is sedition,the second is of fostering hatred between communities. If found guilty and convicted of the first, she could be sentenced to spend her life in jail.

Just two words brought this misfortune upon her young shoulders. These were Pakistan zindabad. Literally Long Live Pakistan.

Nineteen-year-old Amulya Leona Noronha stirred a tumult during a protest against amendments to Indias citizenship law, organised by the Hindu-Muslim-Sikh-Issai Federation at Freedom Park in Bangalore on February 20. It was here that she shouted the slogan Pakistan zindabad which plunged her into mayhem, as several men tried to drag her away. But before the microphone was snatched from her, she also managed to shout Hindustan zindabad or Long Live India.

No one allowed her, then or later, to explain why she wished that Pakistan live long. Soon after she uttered these two words, she was arrested. Her father condemned her actions, declaring, What she said is wrong. She was joined by some Muslims and wasnt listening to me! Some men, said to be members of an extremist Hindutva organization, gathered that night outside her home and stoned it.

The chief minister of Karnataka also took notice of the young womans slogan. He claimed evidence that the young woman had Maoist links, and that her refrain wishing Pakistan well werepart of a conspiracy to disturb peace and harmony in the state. He also said that her father wanted to break her bones. Asaduddin Owaisi, chief of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, who was on the stage and among the men who tried to silence her, later condemned her roundly,pronouncing: We, in no way, support our enemy nation Pakistan. The magistrate before who she was presented, refused her bail, and instead sent her for 14 days into judicial custody.

The first crime that she is charged with sedition, under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code was used by colonial rulers against freedom fighters like Mahatma Gandhi and Lokmanya Tilak. It can punish with life in jail any person who by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law in India.

Among those recently charged with under this colonial provision are the mother and teacher of primary school children in Bidar for a writing and performing a play critical of the recent amendments of the Citizenship Amendment Act. Amulya Noronha is also charged under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code, for the alleged crime of creating hatred against communities.

I confess to being utterly confused by too many mysteries at play here. Maybe I am missing something, but how could a young person declaring publicly that she wishes Pakistan well be seen to incite hatred against any community in any way? Her message, after all, was not of hate against anyone. How indeed could the call Pakistan Zindabad be construed as an attempt to cause hatred, contempt or disaffection against the government of India to attract the grave charge of sedition?

Moreover, if Karnataka Chief Minister Yediyurappa was correct in his overnight discovery of her Maoist links, I cannot figure out why a Maoist would hail Pakistan? Her father was angry with her because she did not listen to him: but he should know that this is a crime that any young people would be guilty of. His other complaint was that she was joined by some Muslims. But the Muslims who joined her on the stage only tried to seize her mic and silence her voice as she wished Pakistan well.

These mysteries become even more perplexing when I find that Union ministers who openly incite crowds to shoot at protesters or dub people of certain identities termites are not charged with either creating hatred or of sedition.

In our collective haste to charge Amulya Noronha with sedition and hate outraged by what we feel is evidence of her regrettable wanting in love for her country we have chastened her with a spell behind prison walls. Would we have profited by listening first to what she wanted to say? In a Facebook post a week before her public sloganeering, Amulya Noronha had written, Whatever country may be long live for all the countries! She had added. Long live India! Long live Pakistan! Long live Bangladesh! Long live Sri Lanka! Long live Nepal! Long live Afghanistan! Long live China! Long live Bhutan!

Among those who would surely have approved of the universal humanism that Amulya Noronha seemed to be attempting to uphold although with such disastrous outcomes for herself is Rabindranath Tagore. Tagore was vigorously opposed to the idea of the nation and nationalism, rejecting these variously in his writings as artificially created, organised self-interest, least human and least spiritual, and even a cruel epidemic of evil that is sweeping over human world of the present age, eating into its moral vitality. He was convinced that a naturally-built human society is much more humane in essence than the so-called artificially created nationhood.

Ashis Nandy tells us that Tagore was a patriot but not a nationalist. Patriotism means love for ones countrya certain emotional attachment to place of ones birth, the place where you have grown up, place which frames your earliest memories. Nationalism is different. Nationalism is not a sentiment. It is an ideology. It is based on the idea of that nationBecause nation and nationalism presume that you homogenise the population. And give them a theory of love of the country which also specified enemies and friends, allies and detractors.

If we had paid heed to what Amulya Noronha was saying, perhaps it was the rejection of the idea that love for ones country requires you to hate specified enemies.

In Mahatma Gandhis worldview, as well, there was no place for enemies. In his last fast, two weeks before he was assassinated, one of his demands was to pay Pakistan its promised share of funds, without which it stood in danger of going bankrupt. Pakistan is not an enemy, he insisted. We maybe estranged, but we are still siblings.

I dont know when Amulya Noronha will be released from prison, and (if and) when she will be freed from the charges of sedition and hate. I dont know if a time will come when politicians, the police, courts and the denizens of social media will listen to her rather than judge her.

If judge her we must, then the most we can judge is that perhaps she was brash and a little unwise in the way she communicated her convictions. But then what is the point of being young if you cannot on occasion have the privilege to be unwise and brash, especially if you believe in something which you are convinced is very important, which you want the world to think about?

We are passing through a luminous moment in the journey of our republic when our young people are trying to teach us new ways to engage with our country and our world. They are telling us to shed hatred and bigotry. Can we just stop and listen?

I feel a catch in my heart to think of this young woman in prison for trying to tell us simply that loving your country does not require you to hate any other.

I dont know if and when she will ever read this article. But if she does, I offer her a small gift. This is my clumsy translation of an exceptional Punjabi poem by Manjeet Sumal which I recently discovered.

The title of the poem is Pakistan Zindabad, two words which our establishment has deemed to be both seditious and hateful.

What is the harm in saying Pakistan Zindabad?Why should I say Pakistan Murdabad Death to Pakistan?Zindabad means may you live, may you remain happy, may you thriveMay you prosper, may you enjoy peace, may you enjoy good fortune alwaysPakistan at one time was part of usOn that side is left behind our land, our cities, our peopleOur history, our shared culture, the memories of our ancestorsWhy should these not be Zindabad?Why should these not live long?Why should I wish for their destruction?They are our neighbours. Tell me who wishes for the death of ones neighbours?We can wish for the death of terrorism in PakistanWe can curse with Murdabad the political leaders, the system which supports and fosters terrorismBut we cannot wish death to the entire people, the country, the citizens of PakistanThey are not to blame in any wayTheir artistes, singers, cricketers, actors are not to blameWhy should we curse themwith Murdabad?If our neighbours prosper, we will prosperDo we want them to raise the slogan Hindustan Murdabad against us?Would we be happy if they say that the people of India should die, should be reduced to a land of corpses?We ourselves sometimes raise the slogans Punjab government Murdabad! Indian government Murdabad!Never Punjab Murdabad! India Murdabad!If we wish death, it is to the systemBut when it comes to Pakistan, why do we forget this?That its system should perish, not its people?If we seek their death, is this not evidence of the bankruptcy of our minds, our ignorance?Patriotism should not be a device to hijack our mindsThose who truly love their country love all the earthTheir love does not halt at any borderTheir love does not wish that people live on this side of the border and die on the other sideMay India live long!May Pakistan live long!May Bangladesh live long!May Sri Lanka live long!May China live long!May Canada, America, England, Dubai, Qatar, Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia, all live long!May people who live everywhere thrive, prosper, find happiness!|Both India and Pakistan have lived long! They are living long! They will continue to live long far into the future!Pakistan Zindabad!

So, Amulya Leona Naronha, a rousing call from me to you Pakistan zindabad!

Excerpt from:

In Karnataka teens cry of Pakistan zindabad, an echo of Tagores thoughts about patriotism - Scroll.in

Dan McCaslin: Nature and Shallowing the Mind – Noozhawk

Regarding todays dominant Facebook/iPhone digital connective culture, conservative New York Times editorialist Bret Stephens critiques the impact of our eras instant communication and endless websites. Far from increasing important knowledge to enhance personal prosperity and individual happiness, we swim like homeless hominids in this digital connective culture (DCC) that causes "a kind of shallowing of our inner life," according to Stephens (see 4.1.1. Books).

Im a backcountry hiker and outdoor columnist, and lately have followed John Ruskins sublime footsteps into wild nature seeking repeated deep time episodes. In repetitive forest bathing hikes, one finds urban detox, mental rejuvenation and those crucial oceanic feelings that rewild the spirit. Rewilding, juvenescence, forest immersion, hill-country music and awe-stricken moments surrounded by Earths green beauty absolutely will compel a mental reawakening. We need new terms or new word combinations to describe the postmodern ennui and depressions sprouting all around us in the Anthropocenes harrowing DCC.

Shallowing is not actually a word, but Stephens neologism fits a new concept demanded by the infowars and "fake news" of this early Anthropocene. Like juvenescence, adjacentcy and forest bathing, the shallowing description helps me figure out whats going awry in so many westerners spirit-lives (see 4.1.1. for adjacentcy). Depression and deteriorating mental health among millennials certainly terrify everyone in America today.

The vast and ever-expanding Internet "meridians" apparently cover everything there is, but this proto neural membrane is also incredibly thin so while we know more and more and also more quickly, its usually about less and less. As a world culture, weve fallen into left-brain overspecialization again. (I covered left-brain vs. right-brain neurologies in my recent column.)

Inner resilience emerges out of the outdoor interludes that humans truly require. We can follow the animistic example of our Stone Age ancestors, and especially as urbanization/digitalization/optimization race ever onward. When your life is one of constant optimization, youre never free and you can never fully relax, as eloquent millennial Jia Tolentino points out describing todays ideal woman of the DCC

good looks, the impression of indefinitely extended youth, advanced skillsof self-presentation and self-surveillance. The ideal woman, in otherwords, is always optimizing. She takes advantage of technology. Herhair looks expensive. She spends lots of money taking care of her skin The same is true of her body. it has been pre-shaped by exercise thatensures there is little to conceal or rearrange. Everything about thiswoman has been preemptively controlled to the point that she canafford the impression of spontaneity .

Similarly, most adult humans, especially the mournful millennials, must relearn Stone Age ways I strongly recommend a process of rewilding the mind and spirit. Neo-animism (my neologism) simply means re-enchanting the world and holding off the de-animating digital destruction. The process commences with simple outings in or near green nature; its what I pushed in "Eternal Backcountry Return" (constant walking). Millennials, Gen-Xers, boomers, weve all got to re-valuate the manifest advantages in paleo thinking.

This curative process embodies the call for a renewed animism for the Anthropocene Ive dubbed this way of thinking neo-animism. The inanimate is indubitably as alive in those holy boulders shown in another column as in the dancing bees buzzing about my face. The ancient Mesopotamians even worshipped the life-force in Salt (their famous Hymn to Salt prayer), although left-brainers see only the NaCl formula. The left brains revenge on the right brain is to suffocate the wide-angle communal viewpoint.

In our collective shallowing, weve lost the appreciation for the life and life-giving force in natures inanimate stone artifacts, including mountains and exotic canyons. Perhaps it is less a shallowing than an extraordinary widening that some minds cannot comprehend or stretch to. If everything is indeed alive, then the individuals cosmos feels very different to her than in our hyper-kinetic speedy DCC.

If a reader struggles with the interpretation offered in the idea of living boulders in the field near Hurricane Deck, or seeking wisdom in places, then she should realize she might profit from extended forest bathing jaunts as she begins the neo-animism process.

After postmodernism comes post-humanism, and with the latter my neo-animism emerges as a necessary corollary.

In neo-animism, we conjure the image of the natural world working on us humans, not the other way round. Guardian columnist George Monbiot argues for a radical political rewilding that can mirror natures own rewilding processes. Rewilding allowing dynamic, spontaneous organization to reassert itself leads to organic complexity, and need not be exclusively top-down the way our politics are today (Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, President Trump, Kim Jong-un, Mark Zuckerberg).

Bruno Latour argues that were all actually climate skeptics: Whatever our intentions, we all act as if climate change is not real. In the same vein, most of us live our lives in some child-like state where we all act as if human life isnt time-limited. However, human lives are indeed time-limited as Buddha constantly said, and refusing to honor this crucial condition makes us weak, and also sometimes violent.

My neo-animism resembles an eco-theism where the actual planet Gaia is our church/temple/mosque (a kind of pantheism). The demands in "Facing Gaia" form a moral imperative and enhance a novel mode of experience. In a new politics for this human-created Anthropocene Era, neo-animism joins with radical post-humanism to ask fundamental questions of us, like:

Shouldnt there be fewer people?

Should 90 percent of the humongous herds of cows and pigs be culled (killed off)?

Why not rewild locally by returning grizzly bears to the San Rafael Wilderness?

How can humans accord natural rights to the evolved animals on this Gaia?

The 19th century Romantic right-brain view of physical nature was replaced by the left-brain dominant scientific view that justified any activity to wrest more value (resources) from Gaias rich body. This Industrial Age left-brain dominance allies seamlessly with the DCC today, and thus fosters that shallowing of so many human minds and imaginations.

The first step in resisting the corrosive DCC is to buy sturdy shoes or boots, and begin a regular hiking program in or near our backcountry. The Eternal Backcountry Return beckons, and certainly bring your children along!

Books and articles: For my term adjacentcy, it defines the way densely populated California urban zones lay next to wild and wilderness zones, see my Autobiography in the Anthropocene, p. 60 and passim). Stephens quote: New York Times, Dec. 21, 2019. For Tolentino quote: Jia Tolentino, "Trick Mirror," p. 64; Bruno Latour, "Facing Gaia" (Polity 2017); J. Purdy, "After Nature A Politics for the Anthropocene" (2015), discusses the "new animism," 272-275; George Monbiot: click here.

Dan McCaslin is the author of Stone Anchors in Antiquity and has written extensively about the local backcountry. His latest book, Autobiography in the Anthropocene, is available at Lulu.com. He serves as an archaeological site steward for the U.S. Forest Service in the Los Padres National Forest. He welcomes reader ideas for future Noozhawk columns, and can be reached at [emailprotected]. Click here to read additional columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Dan McCaslin: Nature and Shallowing the Mind - Noozhawk

The new industrial revolution will change everything – Fabius Maximus journal

Summary: Industrial revolutions reshaped the world. But during the long pause of tech progress since WWII, we forgot what they do to society. Here is a reminder. A timely one, since a new revolution has begun.

For the world is changing: I feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth, and I smell it in the air. Treebeard the Ent in Tolkiens The Return of the King.

Technological progress slowed so much after WWII that we no longer remember what rapid change looks like. Compare two lives to see what it was like.

Bat Masterson was born on a farm in 1853, amidst people living hard lives with only simple machines. Women drew water from wells, making them old before their times. He became a gunfighter in the tech boom known as the Wild West. He was a sportswriter for the New York Morning Telegraph when he died in 1921 in a city of cars, telephones, electricity, and a powerful public health infrastructure. If we transported his mother through the Time Tunnel from her 1853 home to his 1921 home, how quickly could she adapt? Everything would be different, with a thousand advances beyond her imagination.

June Cleaver was a mother in the 1957 sitcom Leave it to Beaver

Another example: imagine if we shifted General Pershing one hundred years into the future from 1918 WWI to command a modern Army division. He would recognize all the major new tools: aircraft (fighters and bombers), submarines, rockets, radio, and tanks. But if we shifted the Duke of Wellington from the Battle of Waterloo (1815) to WWI (1917), the Duke would be lost amidst the new tech.

The specific dates of the previous industrial revolution are arbitrary, depending on whether one looks at the laboratory breakthroughs or when engineers build them. Whatever the dates, it reshaped the world.

The Singularity has happened; we call it the industrial revolution or the long nineteenth century. It was over by the close of 1918. Exponential yet basically unpredictable growth of technology, rendering long-term extrapolation impossible (even when attempted by geniuses) Check. Massive, profoundly dis-orienting transformation in the life of humanity, extending to our ecology, mentality and social organization? Check. Annihilation of the age-old constraints of space and time? Check.

The Singularity in Our Past Light-Cone by Cosma Shalizi (Assoc. Prof of Statistics at Carnegie Mellon).

The revolution gave per capita GDP in the developed nations a boost that lasted through the 1960s. But few noticed its ending. In the 1960s, people believed in a future of rapid technological progress. But all we got was the manned space program (an expensive trip to nowhere) and the supersonic transport (a premature technology) and radical changes in the narrow fields of communications and computing. So technological progress slowed, as did economic growth.

Now a new revolution might have begun.

The most obvious wave coming is more automation from the combination of semi-intelligent machines, better algorithms, improved cheap sensors, and better manipulators.

Algorithms have already changed the workplace. In the days of yore, for example, every bank had credit officers who personally approved each loan; now algorithms do so faster, better, and cheaper for most consumer loans and mortgages.

As the revolution begins, we have credit cards with chips (replacement for cash), self-driving cars with Star Trek-like sensors and computers, retail kiosks, and facial recognition systems. All have the ability to reshape the workplace. For example, fast-food ordering kiosks provide faster and cheaper service and customers prefer them.

An industrial revolution differs from the narrow advances in the past few generations by its breath. Drones, solar power, gigabyte broadband, smart machines, 3-D printing, re-usable spaceships these and a host of other new technologies are already reshaping our world.

Coming are far greater advances, such as guard robots, computer-generated actors and models, sexbots, and wonders as yet seen only in science fiction tales. They will have a Richter 10 impact on society.

{The arrival of sexbots} will blow up the world. It will make crack cocaine look like decaffeinated coffee. Anonymous (source here).

The pace of progress appears to be accelerating towards greater breakthrough technologies.Here are three candidates from a long list. Only a few need succeed to change everything.

All this is great news for our descendants, as we move to the wonderful world predicted by Lord Keynes in 1930. Revolutions do not solve problems so much as make them irrelevant. But rapid growth creates its own problems. Look at 1880s London in this slightly altered quotation from William Manchesters biography The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Visions of Glory.

The city itself is overwhelmed, engulfed by changes with which it has not learned to cope, and which are scarcely understood. Some were inherent in the trebling of the population, some consequences of industrialization. Particles of grime from the factory smokestacks produce impenetrable smog which reduces visibility to a few feet.

Much of the city stinks. The citys sewage system is at best inadequate and in the poorer of neighborhoods nonexistent. Buildings elsewhere are often constructed over cesspools which, however, have grown so vast that they form ponds, surrounding homes with moats of effluvia.

And the narrow, twisted streets are neither sealed nor asphalted. People lock their windows, even in summer, but they have a lot to keep out: odors, dust.

And then there was the manure from the horses (in 1880, NYC had 180 thousand) Nobody saw this coming, and so people had to react instead of prepare. Lets do better this time.

Among the biggest economic disruptions will be from big companies unable to ride these waves. Such as Xerox who dominated the copier business and invented most of the key elements of personal computing. Such as Kodak inventor of the digital camera (1975) and organic LEDs (1987), the one-time leader in digital radiography and blood testing equipment (history here). Such as GE whose serial screw-ups are legion (e.g., see Fast Heat: How Korea Won the Microwave War by Ira C. Magaziner and Mark Patinkin in the Harvard Business Review, January-February 1989).

The social and political problems from an industrial revolution will be even more difficult for investors to manage. Two can be foreseen. First, the struggle to share the fruits of increased productivity between labor and owners. This can be solved with a little wisdom, but often a little wisdom is more than a people have on tape. Failure at this could make burying gold in the backyard a winning strategy.

Second, coping with widespread unemployment. Many remain in denial about this. In their 2004 book, The New Division of Labor: How Computers Are Creating the Next Job Market, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane discuss fields where computerization should have little effect on the percentage of the workforce engaged in these tasks. They list truck driving as one such field. Only 16 years later that prediction looks foolish. Imagine what another 16 years will bring. Discussing the coming job apocalypse is beyond the scope of this article. I will write about it if there is any demand.

So far we prepare for these things by closing our eyes. I doubt that will prove successful, and it squanders our lead time.

Risk and reward. Greed and fear. Booms and busts. Industrial revolutions do not change their natures, but make all of these larger. Understanding the economic regime of our time can inform your decision-making in all aspects of life.

Just as the date is vague when the previous revolution began, so will the start of the next one. There are no milestones for such things. But if you look for it, you will see the signals.

Ideas!For some shopping ideas see my recommended books and filmsat Amazon. Also, see a story about our future: Ultra Violence: Tales from Venus.

If you liked this post,like us on Facebookandfollow us on Twitter. See all posts about singularities, about robots, how the 3rd industrial revolution has begun, andespecially see these

By Ray Kurzweil. See his website.

From the publisher

At the onset of the twenty-first century, humanity stands on the verge of the most transforming and the most thrilling period in its history. It will be an era in which the very nature of what it means to be human will be both enriched and challenged, as our species breaks the shackles of its genetic legacy and achieves inconceivable heights of intelligence, material progress, and longevity.

For over three decades, the great inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil has been one of the most respected and provocative advocates of the role of technology in our future. In his classic The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence

That merging is the essence of the Singularity, an era in which our intelligence will become increasingly nonbiological and trillions of times more powerful than it is today the dawning of a new civilization that will enable us to transcend our biological limitations and amplify our creativity. In this new world, there will be no clear distinction between human and machine, real reality and virtual reality. We will be able to assume different bodies and take on a range of personae at will. In practical terms, human aging and illness will be reversed; pollution will be stopped; world hunger and poverty will be solved. Nanotechnology will make it possible to create virtually any physical product using inexpensive information processes and will ultimately turn even death into a soluble problem.

While the social and philosophical ramifications of these changes will be profound, and the threats they pose considerable, The Singularity Is Near maintains a radically optimistic view of the future course of human development. As such, it offers a view of the coming age that is both a dramatic culmination of centuries of technological ingenuity and a genuinely inspiring vision of our ultimate destiny.

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The Many Holocausts – The Atlantic

Those years saw the emergence of Israels preeminent Holocaust writer. Though not a survivor of the death camps, Aharon Appelfeld, a refugee from Ukrainian captivity who became a child cook in the Soviet army, nevertheless remained possessed by Holocaust themes. These included foreboding, loss, and above all the rootlessness of a displaced writer of displaced fiction, as Philip Roth described him. Appelfelds was a Holocaust of anger, and bore the mark of his determination to preserve its uniquely Jewish character. Attending a series of lectures he gave toward the end of his life, I was stunned by his bitterness toward younger Israeli authors who, he claimed, had abandoned their Jewish identity for secular Israeli culture, and whose Hebrew was shorn of Yiddish overtones.

Appelfelds rancor, his defense of Jewish heritage, and his refusal to extract universal or moralistic meaning from the Holocaust appealed to Israeli grit. Still, he would never attain Levi- or Wiesel-like stature. One reason is the immediacy of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which can eclipse the horrific events of 80 years ago. Grossmans fame, like that of Amos Oz and A. B. Yehoshua, owed less to his treatment of the Holocaust than to his promotion of peace. Tension, meanwhile, continues to surround the lessons Israel should draw from the Holocaustwhether, as Netanyahu told gatherers at Yad Vashem, the strong survive; the weak are erased, or, as President Reuven Rivlin said at the same event, the Holocaust will forever place the Jewish people as eternal prosecutors against anti-Semitism, racism, and ultra-nationalism.

Most striking of all, though, is the absence of a broad audience for any Holocaust book, even Appelfelds. In a country where Holocaust curricula are taught in most schools, where 18-year-olds ritually visit the camps before enlisting, and where the Knesset debates incessantly about expanding survivor pensions and extending them to the victims of fascism in North Africa and Iraq, how much awareness can any one writer add? Does Israel, where normal life comes to a complete halt on Holocaust Memorial Day, need another Night or Survival in Auschwitz?

The same cannot be said for Europe and the United States, where recent polls indicate an alarming decline of even basic Holocaust knowledge, especially among young people. Amid the passing of the World War II generation and the rise of extreme right-wing parties around the world, some with fascist pasts, the voices of Wiesel, Levi, and Appelfeld need to be heard more than ever. Now, though, they must speak in a unified language understandable to all audiences, American, European, and Israeli alike. And their message must be onethat the Holocaust teaches us multiple messages, all of them complementary. It is a message of hope, of humanism, and of Jewish national rebirth.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.

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The Wolf That Devours Everything, and Then Devours Itself – Patheos

The epigraph of my new book, Post-Christian: A Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture, is an astonishing passage from William Shakespeare, who in 1601 predicted how things would be 400 years later and what will happen next. It is also a good summation of my book.

The lines are from Troilus and Cressida, Shakespeares take on the Trojan War, which is notpresented as the pinnacle of classical ideals, as in Homer, but as their undoing. The wise Ulysses warns what will happen when the objective order of Gods creationHis moral, social, and natural lawsis repudiated.

Take but degree away, untune that string,

And, hark, what discord follows. . . .

Then everything includes itself in power,

Power into will, will into appetite;

And appetite, an universal wolf,

So doubly seconded with will and power,

Must make perforce an universal prey

And last eat up himself.

Troilus and Cressida (1601), Act 1. Scene 3. Lines 10910, 12227.

From my book:

Post-Christians of every variety reject degree, as we hear in common statements such as life has no meaning, the universe is absurd, there are no absolutes. But what makes these lines from Shakespeare so uncanny, so startlingly relevant to our own times four centuries later, is that they zero in on the three major preoccupations of contemporary thought and culture: power, will, and appetite.

Today, post-Marxists on the left and Nietzscheans on the right insist that ideas, morality, institutions, and culture itself are nothing more than masks for power, pretexts that allow one group (men, whites, heterosexuals, humans, etc.) to oppress other groups (women, racial minorities, gays, animals, etc.). The will has displaced moral absolutes as the moral authority. (Those who support abortion call themselves pro-choice. The only limit to sex is consent.) And all desires (sexual, consumer, personal) must be fulfilled at all costs, thus the unleashing ofappetite.

For Shakespeare, the coming together of power, will, and appetite forms a universal wolf that devours everything. As we have been seeing in contemporary thought and culture, this wolf is eating up universities, laws, technology, the family, the arts, the media, and churches. But, having done so, there comes a point, says Shakespeare, when the wolf starts eating up himself.

Modernism unleashed skepticism against all traditions and authorities, all in the name of reason; whereupon postmodernism unleashed that skepticism against reason itself. All that remains now is to be skeptical about skepticism. Universities have taken academic freedom so far that they now censor dissenting views, impose speech codes, and in other ways inhibit academic freedom. Humanism has advanced to the point of becoming antihuman. Progress has evolved to become neoprimitivism.

But when the universal wolf has finished devouring himself, his predation will be at an end. Life might start to flourish again. The course of post-Christian culture, when it ends in self-contradiction and catastrophe, may herald cultural rebirth.

My book unpacks all of this, demonstrates why it is so, and applies it in multiple ways.

Illustration: Wolfie Sketchie byZakeena. Licensed underCC-BY.Creative Commons Licensevia SketchPort

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Auschwitz and the politicisation of history – The Strategist

Looming over this years commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, were two contradictory impulses that lay behind the creation of the Jewish state: cosmopolitanism and nationalism. A painful dialogue between these perspectives marked the event, reflected in the utterances of the officials who attended and the objections of those who stayed away.

In opening the ceremony, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu set the tone for what was to come. He described Auschwitz as an abyss and Jerusalem as a peak, with the former representing enslavement and death and the latter epitomising freedom and life. To give meaning to the lives of those murdered in the Holocaust, he sought to link their deaths to Israels founding just a few years later. But in doing this, he risked presenting the massacre of the Jews as a necessary staging post on the marvelous journey of the revival of our people. Rather than presenting the fate of Europes Jews as a reason to renew the struggle against hatred and genocide everywhere, he focused more narrowly on the interests of the state of Israel and concluded his remarks with a battle cry against Iran.

The choice between cosmopolitanism and nationalism has always been an especially difficult one for Jews. Historically, the exclusion of wandering Jews from official life meant that they were de facto citizens of nowhere, and thus cosmopolitan by default. Yet precisely for that reason, many Jews went on to become ultra-nationalists in the countries into which they were eventually assimilated. A quintessential example was the Austrian writer Stefan Zweig, who as a young man initially welcomed World War I as an opportunity to fight for his country. The same contradictory sentiments are now bound up in Israels national identity, animating an abiding tension between democracy and the desire to provide a Jewish homeland.

The foreign speakers at Yad Vashem this year also embodied this conflict between nationalism and cosmopolitanism. Russian President Vladimir Putin decried the weaponisation of history, before doing exactly that, claiming (not inaccurately) that the Holocaust was carried out not just by Germans but also by European collaborators who were often crueler than their masters. Not surprisingly, he directed this charge specifically at Ukraine, Lithuania and Latviaall countries with which Russia has a troubled relationship.

But it was the Polish government that objected most strenuously to this interpretation. After not being invited to speak, Polish President Andrzej Duda boycotted the ceremony. And in anticipation of Putins speech, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki wrote a commentary for Politico arguing that, Russia is trying to rewrite history. Far from being a liberator, the Soviet Union was a facilitator of Nazi Germany and a perpetrator of crimes of its ownbefore and after the liberation of Auschwitz. The official Polish response comes as no surprise, given that this is the same government that, in 2018, passed a law criminalising any mention of Polish complicity in the Holocaust.

The contrast with the remarks delivered by the French and German presidents couldnt be greater. Each reflected on his own countrys guilt before making a case for universal human values. Those who murdered, noted German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, those who planned and helped in the murdering, the many who silently toed the line: They were Germans.

Like Netanyahu, Steinmeier also focused on the theme of renewal following the Shoah, which gave way to a new order of peace, founded upon human rights and international law. But, unlike Netanyahu, Steinmeier wasnt triumphalist. In fact, he underscored an issue that, in spite of decades of vergangenheitsbewltigung (working through the past), is now afflicting Germany: the return of anti-Semitism.

French President Emmanuel Macron was equally brutal in his self-criticism. France has looked at its history head-on and faced up to the irreparable responsibility of the French state in the deportation of the Jews, he declaimed. The lessons he takes from Auschwitz are universal and forward-looking. No one has the right to use the memory of the dead, he argued, to justify some kind of contemporary hatred.

One wonders how Zweig would have responded to all of these speakers. Although he was a protg of Zionisms founding intellectual, Theodor Herzl, a recent biography by George Prochnik shows that Zweig became increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of nationalism over the course of his life. Following the rise of the Nazis, he argued that Jews had a sacred mission not to create yet another state with cannons, flags, [and] medals. Rather, he wanted Jews to serve as the gadfly which plagues the mangy beast of nationalism, and to work for the dissolution of nationalist tendencies.

In other words, were Zweig alive today, he doubtless would sympathise more with the cosmopolitan humanism of Steinmeier and Macron than with Netanyahus ethno-nationalism. But its worth remembering that even as they established a Jewish nation-state, David Ben-Gurion and most of Israels founders were similarly committed to a cosmopolitan and universalist vision based on complete equality of social and political rights irrespective of religion, race or sex.

For my part, as a descendent of German Jewssome of whom were exterminatedI strongly support Israels right to exist. But I also believe that Netanyahus instrumentalisation of the Holocausts victimsmany of whom didnt share his Zionist nationalismdirectly undermines the ideals of the countrys founders.

As Auschwitz passes from memory into history, it is ironic that the lessons people draw from it would become more particular, rather than more universal. Clearly, the global fight against anti-Semitism needs a new narrative for the 21st-century world of hyper-fragmented and multicultural societies, where no one knows Holocaust survivors personally. Otherwise, history will continue to be politicised and pressed into the service of nationalist agendas, rather than showing the way to a more peaceful future for all.

Read more here:

Auschwitz and the politicisation of history - The Strategist

Countrywide protests signify a nod to new humanism that seeks to synthesise political ideas and identities – The Indian Express

Written by Amit Chaudhuri | Updated: January 25, 2020 11:34:53 am To be Indian is to be Hindu, the BJP has instructed us, in a way that mutilates both categories. The protests have replied: To be Indian is to be human.

For an occurrence to become an adventure, said Sartre in his brief memoir, Words, it is necessary and sufficient for one to recount it. Necessary and sufficient: By which I suppose Sartre means that what makes an adventure adventure-like is determined after the fact, when an inchoate event has a narrative and a sort of completeness imposed upon it in retrospect. You cant decide to have an adventure; you cant always know youre in one.

What Sartre said about the adventure, I often felt was true of history: That few people are actually aware of being in history, or in a significant historical moment. The present is frayed, open-ended, distracting, often humdrum: It doesnt have the polish and carefully-put-together air that history does in books, whether theyre scholarly works or novels, or in cinema. Most people Ive met whove lived through great historical change confess to not being aware at the time of the experience of the importance, the historicity, of what they were going through.

The events in India in the last month and a half have made me revise my view. For the first time I can think of, I am aware of living in history. It has all the frayed and unpredictable qualities of the present; yet its sui generis nature has taken us by surprise. We werent schooled to recognise it or led to expect it; but we know it for being history now that it has happened.

Opinion |Understand the CAA it is a humanitarian legislation

Im referring, of course, to the nationwide protests that began in the midst of the deep gloom of the Citizenship Amendment Bill becoming an act in both houses of Parliament. They first started in Assam for a particular set of reasons; then related to the fraught question of what it means to be Indian in Jamia Millia, Aligarh Muslim, and Jawaharlal Nehru universities; spreading then to streets and squares everywhere, breaking with the terrible normalcy of the BJPs second terms first seven months, replacing the post-CAA despair with incandescence and exuberance. No historical moment, or protest, is like another this much is clear now. Not only India, the world has known nothing like this before. Whats being formulated is the thought that to be Indian is not only to be secular it is to be human. Although the conflagration and revaluation was prompted by religion, its not God thats at issue here.

The words, idea of India, trip readily off the tongue. But what does being an Indian actually mean? At which point did the word begin to be used by the English, and when and how was it wrested away from the coloniser so that it became a keyword, a potent concept, for the natives? To be Indian was to be many things, but I think it also comprised an overhaul of the colonisers ownership of humanism. When a late 19th-century Englishman used the word human, he most often meant Englishman or, at most, European. When late 19th-century Indians, increasingly divorced from power in their own country, used the word Indian for themselves, they were inserting themselves into the history of humanism, which gave them the freedom to perform and be defined by a range of characteristic but seemingly contradictory actions. Whether or not the Indian was a Muslim or high or low-caste Hindu or a Christian or man or woman, they could read, equally, the Gita, the Bible, or Wordsworth, or listen to a qawalli or a bhajan, often in new secular contexts; to be Indian also meant one could oppose the English coloniser politically while being able to study, and be moved by, English poetry. This is how the experience and consciousness of being Indian expressed anew, and in an unprecedented way, what it meant to be human. That to be Indian was not a political identity alone. Besides civilisational pride, it was this modulation of humanism that gave Indians their sense of parity, their absence of a sense of cultural marginality, in relationship to their political rulers.

Opinion |With a flag, song and book: Reclaiming national symbols is an act of political genius and imagination

In the last half century, its not only liberalism and, in India, secularism that have been called out as fraudulent; humanism, of which the other two are offshoots, is a world-view thats been largely put on the shelf. The reasons for this are unarguable: To do with the powerful whether theyre European, or male, or elite, or all of these using the word human primarily to refer to those who are European, or male, or elite, and leaving the rest of the world outside the words purview. On these grounds, humanism was made illegitimate, both by the Left and the Right, as an idea that was more exclusionary than inclusive. It splintered into a variety of political identities, to do with class, race, gender, and postcolonial difference, which the word human had once enveloped and muffled. No one but a nostalgist would invoke humanism. It had had its day.

Or so it seemed until last month. The protests since mid-December participated in by women, men, and children of all religions and classes, almost entirely peaceful and mostly unaffiliated to any political party represent the first resurrection anywhere in the world of what one thought was an anachronism: The humanist legacy. The resurrection has brought renewed attention to the Constitution, which is a humanistic rather than a nationalistic document. To be Indian is to be Hindu, the BJP has instructed us, in a way that mutilates both categories. The protests have replied: To be Indian is to be human.

Most protests worldwide have had to do, with good reason, with the indispensable assertion of the interests of beleaguered groups and identities: Wed forgotten what it meant to fight for humanity because it had become blurred as an idea, or an ideal. Fighting for an ideal itself belonged, conceptually, to another epoch and value-system. Who remembers now that an ideal can be more pressing and immediate than self-interest? The world would have been unconvinced of this until recently. Yet, the Hindu or the Muslim person on the street rejecting the CAA is not there for sectarian reasons, but to fight for an ideal articulated decades before it was formalised in the Constitution. Humanism, not nationalism, determines the contexts in Shaheen Bagh and elsewhere, of national flags and pictures of Ambedkar and Gandhi and the recitations of the Preamble; yet not even Gandhi or Ambedkar, or any European liberal, could have dreamt that humanism could be so radical an instrument, cutting across religions, classes, castes, and genders.

Who would suspect, unless one discovers Shaheen Bagh or Park Circus, humanisms deep compatibility with religious identity, and the latters kinship with rationality? If theres one thing that interviews, comments, and placards on the street have revealed, its that the ordinary person is not to be respected for their ordinariness alone, nor the burkha-clad woman for her ethnicity and difference, but for speaking with a more profound common sense, clarity and rationality than our politicians. Remember, only a tiny sliver of the rational tradition belongs to Western science; much of it originates in spiritual movements that rebut bogus religiosity, going back to Buddhism and various devotional movements. All these cultural energies have gone into creating the new humanism were seeing taking birth on the street.

Realising, in an absolutely fresh way, that history, unlike the adventure, is not the recounting of a narrative but where we are now, Ive entered it in some of these streets and parks myself.

This article first appeared in the print edition on January 25, 2020 under the title Reclaiming the Republic. The writer is a novelist and essayist.

Opinion | CAA protests have inspired a new vocabulary of citizenship, but the Republic needs much more

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Countrywide protests signify a nod to new humanism that seeks to synthesise political ideas and identities - The Indian Express

Gantz and Netanyahu arrive in DC to meet with Trump; plus why Gantz might have an easier time saying yes to peace plan – Jewish Insider

Deep Dive:The New York Timesexamineshow Iran tried for three days to cover up its role in shooting down a Ukrainian airliner before finally admitting the truth.

War on Terror:Three rocketsstruckthe U.S. embassycompoundin Baghdad yesterday, and one person was reportedly lightly wounded. The Pentagonrevealedover the weekend that 34 U.S. service members suffered traumatic brain injuries after Iranian airstrikes on an air base in Iraq earlier this month, countering earlier claims by the president.

Payback:In aninterviewwith Jeffrey Goldberg,The Atlantics editor-in-chief, at the Sundance Film Festival, former Secretary of State and 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton suggested that Mark Zuckerbergs refusal to tackle the spread of disinformation and propaganda on Facebook is Trumpian and authoritarian.

Rebound:WeWork co-founder Miguel McKelvey hasspentthe past few months devising a plan to save the company by slowing down and scaling back the opposite of his co-founder Adam Neumanns onetime approach.

Living History:CNN anchor Wolf Blitzerinterviewedfilm director Steven Spielberg for his CNN documentary Voices of Auschwitz.

About Time:The Dutch prime ministerissuedthe countrys first-ever apology for its persecution of Jews during World War II, including collaborating with the Nazis.

Talk of the Town:A store in New Orleanss French Quarter, Rare Finds,will removeJim Crow-era antique pieces and Nazi-related items after complaints from the director of the Anti-Defamation Leagues local chapter.

Lawsuit:A member of the Rothschild family, Geoffrey Hoguet, issuingthe city of Vienna for perpetuating Nazi laws by plundering the familys foundation.

Problematic Pilgrimage:The Christian Science Monitortakes alookat the debate raging in the small Hungarian village of Bodrogkeresztr, which has become a hotspot for pilgrims visiting a Hasidic rabbis grave.

Seen on SNL:Alan Dershowitz, played by Jon Lovitz,showed upin a Saturday Night Live skit while visiting Jeffrey Epstein in hell. In aninterviewwithVanity Fair, Dershowitz said that he brought up his past ties to Epstein with Trump before he was hired.

Compare and Contrast:In an hour-long recording of a private dinner with Trump in 2018, former Rudy Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Frumanappear to compareTrump to the messiah while presenting him with a gift from Ukrainian Chief Rabbi Moshe Azman. Its like messiah is the person thats come to save the whole world. So its like youre the savior of the Ukraine. Parnas could be heard telling Trump to show the gift to Jared Kushner to explain its meaning.

House Party:Jeff Bezoshosted an Alfalfa afterpartyat his mansion in the Kalorama neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Attendees included Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), Microsoft founder Bill Gates, actor Ben Stiller, David Rubenstein, David Solomon, and Dina Powell.

Open Skies:Israeli Interior Ministry Arye Deriannouncedon Sunday that for the first time in the countrys history, Israelis will be permitted to visit Saudi Arabia for religious purposes or for business trips limited to nine days.

Awaiting Mercy:Naama Issachar, the young Israeli-American woman imprisoned in Russia, has reportedly officiallyrequesteda pardon.

Rushing to Judgement:Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI)retweeted and later removed a tweet that claimed that a Palestinian boy whodrownedin a flooded ditch in East Jerusalem was kidnapped by Israeli settlers, assaulted and thrown in a water well.

The rest is here:

Gantz and Netanyahu arrive in DC to meet with Trump; plus why Gantz might have an easier time saying yes to peace plan - Jewish Insider

From The Wire to everything else, the Anatomy of an Islamist: Into the mind of Sharjeel Imam, mastermind of Shaheen Bagh – OpIndia

The EndGame of the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act has become evident after the mastermind of the Shaheen Bagh protests revealed his intentions of cutting off the North East from the rest of India. Sharjeel Imam, the mastermind, also happens to be a columnist at The Wire. If one had read his eulogy of Jinnah that was published on The Wire, then he or she wouldnt have been surprised with the path he has chosen for himself.

Sharjeel Imam can be heard saying in the viral video, If five lakh Muslims are organized then we can cut off the North-east from the rest of India. If we cannot do so permanently, then at least we can do it for months. Our responsibility is to cut Assam from India, only then will the Government will hear our voice. If we have to help Assam then we will have to cut Assam from the rest of India.

More disturbingly, he speaks of isolating Northeast India by blocking the Chickens Neck. The Chickens Neck is a narrow stretch of land of about 22 kilometres located in West Bengal, that connects the northeastern states to the rest of India, with Nepal and Bangladesh lying on either side of the corridor. Thus, Sharjeel has made his intentions very clear, he wants a Civil War in the country and ultimately, another partition.

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Before we speak of his article published on The Wire, we need to focus on some of the extremely problematic posts he has made on Facebook. It would give our readers some clue into how Sharjeel Imam thinks. First, theres the usual apologia for Yakub Memon and Afzal Guru that we have come to expect from Radical Muslims. According to them, executing two dreaded Islamic terrorists is valid grounds for Muslims to lose their faith in the country.

Source: Sharjeel Imams Facebook profile

Then, there is the justification for the Pulwama Terror Attack. Again, while it is true that sensible people would find this rhetoric extremely troubling, the justification for terrorism is a regular feature of the mainstream media. And Sharjeel Imam, here, is no different. He also accuses the USA, Israel and India of Islamophobia because the three countries are not willing to entertain justifications for terrorism.

Source: Sharjeel Imams Facebook profile

With regards to the ongoing protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, Sharjeels rhetoric is akin to the rhetoric peddled by the likes of Shehla Rashid and others who have continuously prevented secular parties from claiming that these are secular protests. Like others, Sharjeel, too, exhorts Muslims to stop liberals from hijacking what are essentially Muslim protests.

Source: Sharjeel Imams Facebook Profile

Now, we shall elaborate on the really problematic aspects of his ideology. It is pertinent to mention here that Sharjeel Imam is a student of Modern Indian History at Jawaharlal Nehru University. The most concerning aspect of his ideology is the fact that he places Jinnah in the context of India in the 21st century. He says about Jinnah, The more I read Jinnah Papers, the more I realize that almost all of Jinnahs political career was spent as the leader of a minority community, organising the community against odds, and against what he considered as the Hindu revivalist forces of his time, which intended to monopolize power after British left.

Source: Sharjeel Imams Facebook Profile

Sharjeel continues, Seventy years later, the Muslims and other minorities of India know too well what he meant. In other words, Jinnah who was an Indian Muslim for the first 71 of the 72 years of his life, is infinitely more relevant for the besieged Indian Muslim minority than for Pakistani Muslims. In very specific ways, as an Indian Muslim politician fighting for minority rights, his methods, his arguments, his successes and his failures are lessons for us.

Sharjeel Imam goes on to assert that Indian Muslims should study Jinnah in order to understand the myth of Secular Congress. This is extremely problematic rhetoric. Sharjeel hasnt limited himself to praising Jinnah in the manner in which Mani Shankar Aiyar of the Congress party praises Jinnah. From his portrayal of Jinnah, it is clear that he wants Indian Muslims to emulate Jinnah and seize power in the country.

Read: An enemy community was foisted upon the Muslims after Independence: Shaheen Bagh mastermind Sharjeel Imam reveals real-agenda behind CAA protests

Where his thoughts about Jinnah become really clear is his article published on The Wire. From his eulogy of Jinnah on The Wire, it is evident that Sharjeel does not find any fault with Jinnahs conduct that led to the partition of the country. He does not even believe that partition was necessarily a bad thing. He says, In order to demystify Jinnah and to resolve such contradictions, a fuller discussion of Partition should have been a part of our educational setup. However, it has been made impossible to know such a historic figure by attributing violence of Partition to him. This as an attempt by Congress to hide its failures to accommodate the genuine Muslim demands and aspirations for political proportional representation.

Sharjeel did not stop there of course. He says that the questions raised by Jinnah are just the starting point of a larger debate which will inevitably take place again and again, as the situation of Indian Muslims is made to worsen. He believes that Jinnah led a righteous struggle to protect Indian Muslims from Hindu rule. Also, Sharjeel goes to great lengths to prove that Jinnah was a leader of Indian Muslims. He says, Indian Muslims, despite having been indoctrinated for generations now, retain some memory of Partition and Jinnah. For many of them, Jinnah is the author of Partition and yet one of the greatest leaders of Muslim India in the last century, who made the Muslim League into a national party by mobilising millions of Muslims across British India.

He states further, Jinnahs communalism is positive communalism as discussed above, and need not be understood through the contemporary meaning of the word. He did not believe that India was a nation, as is shown by the frequent use of the term continent as well as subcontinent. He was merely representing one community in this grand ocean of communities, and in this process, he was trying to secure rights for all numerically inferior communities.

Read: Its official: Endgame of Shaheen Bagh protest is second partition of India. Listen to what mastermind and The Wire columnist says

Sharjeel adds, Jinnah argued that it does not matter if we are 15% or 25%, unless we receive safeguards, they have all the resources to monopolise power. In other words, the Muslim majority provinces chose to secede rather than stay in a Hindu-dominated centralised India, as they saw no other option. Hence Partition is not their responsibility, it is their compulsion by the conditions created by Congress.

Lastly, according to Sharjeel, Jinnah raised questions which are still relevant. As the largest religious minority in the world, Indian Muslims, are one of the major victims of majoritarian democracy. It is the political struggle of these hundreds of millions of besieged Muslims which will define the meaning of plural democracy for the coming centuries. He ends the article with the words, The AMU portrait of Jinnah must not go. If anything, we need thousands more.

Thus, it is fairly obvious by now that Sharjeel Imam wishes to replicate what Jinnah achieved in 1947. It is also clear that he considers Jinnah as an Indian Muslim who became disillusioned with politics in the country and thus embarked upon a righteous quest to partition India along religious lines. Whats really troubling here is the fact that a widely read Indian media outlet provided a platform to such an individual to spread his propaganda.

Questions must be asked about the mainstream media and intellectual elite who have provided cover to such individuals to run their propaganda. It also shows that the liberal class can be fooled by a Jihadi if he is good enough with words. The manner in which Sharjeel has eulogized Jinnah and portrayed his Jihad against India as a righteous struggle to protect the interests of Muslims should have been the first sign that he is an extremely dangerous individual. However, since he was able to cloak his bigotry in fanciful words, Sharjeel was given great respect by the liberal fraternity. It only serves to demonstrate how gullible the liberal establishment is.

Furthermore, the liberal establishment should at least now stop to reconsider the danger that their rhetoric poses to peace in the country. The love for Jinnah, the justifications for Islamic Terrorism in Kashmir, the whitewashing of Yakub Memon and Afzal Guru, liberals should at least now realize that they are only furthering the interests of Radical Islam by peddling such extremely dubious rhetoric. The liberal establishment should also realize what their whitewashing of history and peddling narratives of Islamophobia without any shred of evidence has led to. It has led to a situation where dangerous individuals like Sharjeel Islam are using the cover their rhetoric provides in order to further the cause of Radical Islam.

Read: Jinnah wali Azadi slogans raised at Shaheen Bagh: The true face of anti-CAA protests and what these slogans mean

It is also pertinent to mention here that Sharjeel Imams rhetoric eulogizing Jinnah is textbook Pakistani propaganda. He is regurgitating the propaganda points that the Pakistani establishment makes. Sharjeel doesnt once refer to the genocides that were committed by the Muslims in their pursuit of Pakistan, he doesnt once mention the call for Direct Action Day that led to the slaughter of innumerable Hindus. He conveniently ignores the genocide of Bengali Hindus that Pakistan committed in 1971. All of this was Jinnahs tree yielding fruits. And yet, Sharjeel doesnt once refer to them and continues to whitewash his legacy while demonizing the Congress party.

There is a certain kind of truth that only radicals like Sharjeel Imam are capable of saying. It is the king of truth that liberals try to whitewash for the cause of secularism. Where Sharjeel Imam really distinguished himself, prior to his recent call for civil war, is when he declared in a Facebook post that Muslims did not choose India due to ideals of secularism. He said, and it is true, that Muslims remained in India due to their property and other reasons.

Source: Sharjeel Imams Facebook Profile

The above Facebook post from September 2019 is the biggest slap on the face of the likes of Asaduddin Owaisi who like to boast about how they chose secular India over Islamic Pakistan. Imagine if a BJP politician had said such a thing. The entire liberal establishment would have nailed him to a cross. And here we have Sharjeel Imam who is provided a platform by The Wire and the liberal establishment which have helped the mastermind of the Shaheen Bagh protests at every turn by painting these protests as secular and about saving the constitution.

Sharjeel Imam has also flaunted the fact that Indian Muslims cheer for the Pakistan cricket team. He sees nothing wrong with it and, in fact, exhorts Muslims to not be on the defensive about it. Most conspicuously, however, he says that growing up, he had great knowledge about Saeed Answar but did not have much idea about Saurav Ganguly. He asks his audience to figure out the reason behind it.

Source: Sharjeel Imams Facebook Profile

The evidence of his bigotry is abundant in his Facebook posts. In another Facebook post, Sharjeel denigrates Idol-Worship and calls it Shirk. He also insults polytheism, the form of religiosity most Hindus subscribe to, by using it as an insult. He equates atheism, secularism, humanism, even nationalism, to Shirk.

Source: Sharjeel Imams Facebook Profile

Thus, what is clear from Sharjeel Imams Facebook posts and his eulogy of Jinnah is that he doesnt see any difference between Pakistani and Indian Muslims. He equates Nationalism to Shirk because the Ummah transcends national boundaries. He asks Indian Muslims to not be ashamed of celebrating Pakistans cricket team because he believes it is natural for Indian Muslims to identify themselves more with Pakistan than with India. In fact, he encourages Indian Muslims to feel that way. At the most fundamental level, Sharjeel Imam sees Jinnah as an Indian Muslim who revolted against Hindus in order to create the Islamic State of Pakistan. He sees Jinnahs Jihad as a righteous struggle for the protection of Muslim interests and he believes the oppressed Muslims of India should tread a similar path.

Read: Shaheen Bagh protests: Deep dive into how JNU student and The Wire columnist Sharjeel Imam went from let us burn Constitution to saving it

Let this not be forgotten. The liberal establishment helped a Radical Islamist like Sharjeel Imam achieve his objective perfectly. While the Liberal Establishment accuses ordinary BJP voters of being fascists, they are the ones who collaborated with someone who whitewashed a Jihadist who was responsible for the death of millions and millions of Hindus.

Sharjeel Imam has been at the forefront of the anti-CAA protests from the very beginning. In a video that had gone viral on social media by the 17th of December, he could be seen inciting Muslims to do Chakkajam in Delhi and wherever they have sufficient numbers. He called for Muslims to bring entire cities to a halt. There are over 30% urban Muslims in UP. Do you have no shame at all? Why cannot you do Chakkajam in UP? The area in Bihar where I am from, the rural Muslim population is 6% while the urban Muslim population is 24%. Indian Muslims mostly live in cities. So it is upon you. You can bring your cities to a halt. If anyone asks you not to, disown them he was heard saying in the viral video.

There is another aspect that needs to be investigated here. A thorough investigation needs to be conducted into the extent of the collusion, if there was any, between Sharjeel Imam and the students of Jamia who gave a call for Jihad. As we have reported earlier, days before violence erupted in the national capital, the students Barkha Dutt labelled Shero gave a call for violent Jihad. While Sharjeel Imam eulogized the man responsible for the partition of the country, the Jamia Jihadans eulogized the men responsible for the Moplah massacre which resulted in the slaughter of hundreds and thousands of Hindus. Like Sharjeel, one of them did express great grief at the execution of Yakub Memon.

The role of the media also needs to be investigated amidst the current unrest. Slogans such as Hinduon se Azadi and yet, they were whitewashed the media. Slogans of Jinnah Wali Azadi were raised at the Shaheen Bagh protests and still, these protests were painted as secular. It needs to be investigated whether the Liberal Media is doing so due to their ideological affinity towards Radical Islam or whether there are more sinister reasons behind it.

The role of politicians needs to be investigated as well. AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan was spotted with Sharjeel Imam, it also needs to be mentioned that Amanatullah himself is accused of inciting riots. Hehad created ruckus outside Delhi police demanding the release of a 22-year-old Muslim youth named Furkan who is accused of instigating riots in Jamia Millia University in December. There is every indication of a grand conspiracy here. And as had said earlier, this is truly the Khilafat 2.0.

Black Coffee Enthusiast. Post Graduate in Psychology. Bengali.

Read more:

From The Wire to everything else, the Anatomy of an Islamist: Into the mind of Sharjeel Imam, mastermind of Shaheen Bagh - OpIndia

Sigrid Nunez’s National Book Award-winning novel, The Friend: One form of contemporary misanthropy – World Socialist Web Site

Sigrid Nunezs National Book Award-winning novel, The Friend: One form of contemporary misanthropy By James McDonald 18 January 2020

The Friend (2018) is Sigrid Nunezs National Book Award-winning novel about a middle-aged writing instructor whose recently deceased friend and mentor has bequeathed her his enormous Great Dane.

Thats it. With densely weighted details and chatty digression, Nunez wrings both emotional depth and incisive social observation from a story about the adoption of a burdensome dog by a grieving woman who doesnt like dogs.

The Friend is narrated by the woman who, like all the other characters except Apollo the dog and Hector, the superintendent of her Manhattan apartment building, remains nameless. The novel is told in the first person, addressed to you, the womans friend, who has committed suicide. You, a teacher and only moderately successful writer, was unwilling, the woman surmises, to endure an autumnal existence bereft of the womanizing that appears to have been the chief reward of his career.

The strength of The Friend is Nunezs characteristic narrative restraint. The novel is written in her trademark crisp, unadorned prose, which compels the reader through the pages as if we are being led by Apollo on a brisk walk. More than this, the narrative reveals itself to be a tour de force of understatement as we come to know the complexity of the womans relationship to You, and to Apollo, likely better than she herself.

Early on, in a conversation with Wife Three, who is delivering the news that You wanted the narrator to take his dog, Nunez offers up an impressive display of doubling. The narrators thoughts digress to her deceased friends increasingly pathetic sexual encounters with students and from there to the J.M. Coetzee novel Disgrace, in which the protagonist exhibits the same sad proclivities, at which point Wife Three brings up the dog. The narrator relates,

When you decided you wanted to keep the dog, you and she had a big fight. A beautiful animaland how could she not feel sorry for the poor thing, being abandoned like that. But she didnt like dogs...She told you she refused to share any responsibility for itfor example, when you had to go out of town.

And it is a taste of Nunezs poignant sense of humor when Wife Three complains, You cant explain death to a dog.

Nunez makes reference on several occasions to Milan Kundera, whose novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being also features an adopted dog, and The Friend decidedly shares formal affinities with the Czech novelists work. Such as the references to other writers. In the course of The Friend, Nunez alludes to Flannery OConnor, J.R. Ackerley, Heinrich von Kleist, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Elizabeth Bishop, to name a few. Such allusions occur naturally enough in a novel narrated by a creative writing teacher. (Although she teaches in a college, the woman never refers to herself as a professor.)

As with Kundera, the literary allusions, as well as the many historical and scientific asideswe are told, for instance, of Kleists murder-suicide pact with his terminally ill lover and a wealth of knowledge and lore about caninesbear a certain formality, presented not in dialogue or in narrated events but as discrete digressions addressed at once to You and to the reader.

Also, like Kundera, Nunez conducts with her novel overt intellectual inquiries of which the narrative is both the occasion and a functioning component. In the case of The Friend, these inquiries take up matters of love, contemporary academia and misanthropy.

In keeping with this contemplative, agreeably didactic form, the overall tone of The Friend is a cool detachment, a mulled-over past tense that seldom broaches emotional immediacy. Even a description of her crying over her dead friend and imagining seeing him on the street is prefaced with a factoid:

Its true that if you cry hard enough for long enough you can end up with blurred vision.

Of course, such moments serve purposes in the novel, and in this instance, Nunez continues The Friends interesting consideration of lasting trauma as a cost of love. (She opens the novel with an account of Cambodian women who suffer blindness as a result of seeing loved ones tortured and murdered.) A consequence of this reserved tone is that, when Nunez does bring her narrator to a moment that exceeds contemplation, the effect is arresting.

It is the costs of love, of friendship and marriageand conversely, the ideals of lovethat work quietly within the womans narrative. Has fear of love kept her from taking a partner? Has her love for You prevented her marrying another? Apollo too suffers from the loss of his owner, and the woman wonders intermittently about the grief and famous loyalty of dogs. To the consternation of her friends and colleagues, she too exhibits an overwhelming loyalty to Apollo, risking homelessness rather than live in her pet-free building without him.

Given its academic setting, it is possible to read The Friend as a postmortem of the dead white male (one of the deceased writers colleagues quips in the funeral parlor that he is now a dead white male), an expression of a high anxiety of influence. Nunez writes in and of a historical moment that is post-feminist, postmodern and self-consciously multicultural. In fact, some of the novels most intellectually energetic moments come when the narrator confronts the effects identity and so-called cancel culture have on her students, who are thoroughly indoctrinated, and her colleagues, who are demoralized. (Where, one wonders, are the indoctrinating professors?)

Nunezs treatment of identity politics and other symptoms of educations decline is sensitive and humane, giving time to her (narrators) frustration with the triggered campus and to sympathy for the argument that writing should now be dominated by those whose voices have been underrepresented in print. But The Friend does seem to give the last word to an identity politics of race and culture, which may have played a role in endearing it to those arbiters of contemporary taste, the National Book Award judges. Missing from the novel is any unifying vision of an oppressed class, of a bourgeoisie in crisis, of an upper middle-class scramble for diminishing dollars in the worlds of art and academia.

When a writing student tells the narrator that writing is made to seem difficult because the pie is only so big, we might move beyond the narrators dumbstruck silence to an implied social analysis, but such an analysis is hardly encouraged by the novel. Instead, we are prompted to recoil at the new generations pragmatism (at one point her students complain that they arent reading more successful authors). As a result, Nunez falls short of identifying the deeply reactionary and menacing character of identity politics, which deals in harms that go far beyond the worlds of publishing and teaching.

This shortcoming marks The Friends political limitation. And now that we have the New York Times 1619 Project with its mendacious pseudo-historicism, and the irrational anti-education of ethnomathematics, a novel set in the world of contemporary academia must be weighed, in part, in terms of its position on identity politics. The effects of this lack of a historicizing vision, however, run deeper, and it is ironically its misanthropy that most mars this self-consciously humane novel.

Ultimately, the narrator arrives at, or finally reveals, her conclusion that human relationships are too complicated, unfulfilling and, worst of all, not conducive to a kind of beatific goodness she, and Nunez, seek. At least this is the case with living, healthy humans. Again, citing Kundera, the narrator endorses the idea that true human goodness can come to the fore only when its recipient has no power. The quest for such goodness is at the heart of The Friend, as it is of Nunezs post-apocalyptic novel Salvation City, whose adolescent protagonist achieves maturity and independence upon the occasion of the incapacitation of his own caretakers.

To see oneself as blessed by virtue of the suffering of others is, by one reckoning, humanisms highest calling. As an end in itself, however, such a position betrays a resignation to the causes of suffering. Why has every aspect of the narrators social and academic life (she has even given up reading) becoming so repugnant, characterized by a calculating, misanthropic ethos? The Friend does not delve into this question. Instead, in a novel that does so much to chart the symptoms of contemporary bourgeois demoralization, the salvation we are offered is an individual altruism and a preference for the nonhuman. The lot of the discouraged or even the misanthrope.

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Sigrid Nunez's National Book Award-winning novel, The Friend: One form of contemporary misanthropy - World Socialist Web Site