Kyiv, the Polis

As a former citizen of the USSR, born in Kyiv, I am living through a surreal moment. The country my family and I escaped as refugees no longer exists, having collapsed under the pressure of the Cold War, political ineptitude, and inexorable economic deterioration. Yet the memory of my brief, bleak life in my native […]

Suicidal Sovereignty

Is Putin insane? Is Trump insane? Is Kim Jong-un insane? Is Bashar al-Assad insane? Was Muammar Gaddafi insane? Was Stalin insane? Was Hitler insane? Even a cursory search will yield headlines of this sort, and the list can be extended indefinitely. To be an authoritarian leader, it seems, is to court madness. The position of […]

Tips for Following News about Israel and Palestine

This is sound advice, notwithstanding the author’s own clear political preferences. FWIW, when I teach my media students about “information biases,” we cover many of these principles, which have nothing to do with “objectivity” but with avoiding obvious factual errors and falling into standard fallacies en route to formulating political and moral judgments. They are […]

On Populism, Again

Jason Frank writes: “Debating whether we should call such movements “populist” is a semantic distraction: it too often mires us in unproductive verbal disputes or obfuscates ideological differences that should be engaged on their own terms.” But this is odd. The forum (and the wider project it represents) seeks to rescue the concept of populism […]

The Truth of Impeachment

Something is awry in the framing of the argument to remove Trump from office. Advocates of removal have appealed to the Constitution, the framers’ intent (e.g., the Federalist papers), and moral principle. They’re imploring the public, if not GOP Senators, to choose country over party, democracy over authoritarianism, right over wrong. This all seems perfectly […]

The Trump Event

Alain Badiou’s work is both needlessly obscure and rather appalling. But the gist is that he argues for an ethics and politics of what he calls “the Event,” which is a kind of rupture in the normal run of things. The paradigmatic instance of an Event, in his view, is falling in love. He has […]

The Empty Iron Throne

So what are we to make of the fact that Jon is indisputably the sole rightful heir to the Iron Throne, and remains alive (after killing his only rival), yet is not even considered for the job by the lords? In the count of those who might serve as the monarch, the one “true” monarch […]

Yes, Aspirational Fascism Is Still Fascism

When Trump was elected, certain “radical” commentators tried to distinguish themselves from supposedly credulous academics and journalists by insisting, against all evidence, that he was in no way unusual, and far from a budding authoritarian. They soon fell silent, as the Trump administration indulged in an endless series of power grabs, both effective and futile. […]

Truth & Trump, redux

The most astute analysis of the fate of facts under Trump(ism) is offered by Masha Gessen. Simply put, his blatant lies and “alternative facts” are assertions of power over truth itself. This fits neatly into the broader GOP strategy of casting doubt on validity claims by associating them with the interests and motives of political […]