What in 2011 was described as Egypt’s peaceful revolution (which it never really was), two years later resulted in a counter-revolution that has left behind a trail of violence, death, polarisation and hatred. Trying to understand how it could happen, Samuli Schielke looks at the moral dimension of political violence, grounded as it is in the desire to fight evil by all means necessary and to establish purity and clarity – and purity is a very dirty business.
Arundhati Roy recounts the political legacy of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, a leader of India’s national movement, and Gandhi’s greatest political adversary. Roy argues that Gandhi was in fact a “great defender” of the caste system, “a system that can only be maintained through the egregious application of violence”, and which is “the engine that runs India”.
Following the abduction of 43 students in Iguala, Mexico in September, Daniel Macmillen Voskoboynik sketches a short history of the practice of enforced disappearance, inquiring into why governments vanish their citizens.
One reason why Turing’s life is so convenient for biographical fiction is that with very little effort, it is possible to find a theme, a red thread, and not one but a number of major resolutions. There is no need to change things around, or to exclude large parts of his life in order to get a good story out of it. Reality outshines fiction at every turn.
Reflecting on years of experience as a psychotherapist, Jane Haynes draws on a wide range of sources from film and literature to reflect on mothers and mother-figures. She also gives voice to some of her own patients, offering unique glimpses of the psychological significance of mothers.
A conversation with filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer about his work and the role of empathy in confronting the spectres of our past.
Let’s talk about ethnic conflict and national politics. Take the example of one country, where an ethnic group makes up 80% of the population, yet the remaining four ethnic groups exert considerable political influence. These minority ethnic groups together have access to strategic locations and their historically entrenched claims to political power make them powerful. The second largest ethnic group—a tribe mostly living in the Northern part of the country’s […]
“The ideal of social cooperation has come to be treated as high-sounding flabbiness,” Pat Bateson writes, “while individual selfishness is regarded as the natural and sole basis for a realistic approach to life. Competition is now widely seen as the mainspring of human activity. The process can be reversed if we work actively against a style of thought that places all the emphasis on confrontation. If we don’t, the building up of enormous arsenals of weapons will lead inexorably to the use of those arms in some moment of blind irrationality.”
Eric Lybeck sympathizes with the thousands of students who are going to be on the streets of London today protesting for ‘Free Education’. While declining public funding for universities and student debt are serious problems, Lybeck argues that the root of the injustice is not that wealth defines who can go to university or that working class students suffer over proportionately from paying back the debt. For him, the problem is that future generations will have to pay for what we think is a collective good.
While some might celebrate the decline of hard physical labour across “post-industrial” service-based economies, one of the prices we have paid has been greater uncertainty and anxiety about the ultimate worth of the work we do. Tom Barker questions the assumptions underlying talk of “non-jobs” and “bullshit jobs”, and in doing so asks us to interrogate our own definitions of what constitutes “real” work.
The bulk of most nutritional science is methodologically flawed and yet continues to cause many unnecessary anxieties about our food consumption. Tobias Haeusermann argues that it is time that we shift our attention to the socioeconomic conditions that give rise to different food habits, and the privilege required to “eat well”.
Clément Mouhot and Lorna Finlayson reflect on the enduring crisis in Palestine and respond to critics who say that singling out Israel is “misguided”, “myopic”, or “immoral”.
We find the sight of female body hair to be shocking, as it seems to fly in the face of the ‘acceptable’ norm. Drawing on her own research into self-defining feminist women and body hair, Melisa Trujillo argues that, when we attempt to police women’s bodies, we are overstepping a line, involving ourselves in a false, and sometimes violent form of intimacy.
The hope for a cure, a renewed absence of disease, is still one of the central legitimizing forces in the project of medicine. The promise of a cure inspires hope in patients and motivates doctors and researchers. But is it really a useful concept for guiding medical research and assessing the success of medical treatment? Konrad Laker argues that with the emergence of modern medical practice, the term may do a great deal more harm than good, unless fundamentally rethought.
Norman Finkelstein gives an unconventional critique of really-existing ‘academic freedom’, recounts the bizarre story of Bertrand Russell’s 1940 dismissal from the College of the City of New York, and examines authors from Marx to Chomsky in his defense of the academic’s right to “break free of the shackles imposed by polite discourse… to speak the impolite and impolitic truth.”