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Posts Tagged ‘government’

Are You Smarter Than a Freshman? by Harvey C. Mansfield

In books, government, law, philosophy, political science, politics on November 17, 2012 at 18:22

From: Are You Smarter Than a Freshman? What political philosophy has to say about elections. by Harvey C. Mansfield, Defining Ideas, http://www.hoover.org/publications/defining-ideas/

Aristotle’s Politics calls into question the assumption that elections are democratic. Democracy stands for living as you please, he says, which means as you choose. But choosing means taking better over worse, or a respectable life over doing menial tasks, the noble over the necessary. In choosing to have an election—the word for choice also means “election”—you give your support to someone or a party you admire or at any rate think better of. What is this preference but the choice of an aristocracy, literally, the rule of the best, or of the best in this situation?

Machiavelli believes that human beings are divided into the few who want to rule and the many who do not care to rule themselves but do not want to be ruled by others either. Then those who want to rule must conceal their rule from the many they rule if they wish to succeed. How can they do this? Machiavelli went about conceiving a “new mode of ruling,” a hidden government that puts the people “under a dominion they do not see.” Government is hidden when it appears not to be imposed on you from above but when it comes from you, when it is self-imposed.

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Reposted with permission from: Defining Ideas

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St. Francis of Fukushima by Andrea Bennett

In Asia, biology, nature, politics, society on September 5, 2012 at 14:33

 

From: St. Francis of Fukushima by Andrea Bennett, Adbusters Magazine, http://www.adbusters.org

Naoto Matsumura’s body is completely contaminated with radioactive cesium. A year after the Tohoku earthquake, and the subsequent nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima, the 52-year-old farmer is the final holdout in Japan’s government-mandated 20-kilometre nuclear exclusion zone.

He says he’s full of rage. He says he refuses to let go of hunger and grief. He says he wants to die in his hometown. Matsumura, and the surviving animals he tends to, have very little access to water, and no electricity. He scavenges leftover coal and rations gas for energy; he survives off tinned food sourced from outside the evacuation zone.

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Reposted with permission from: Adbusters Magazine

The Heretic by Tim Doody

In Africa, anthropology, culture, government, history, medicine, North America, politics, research, society on September 2, 2012 at 18:16

 

From: The Heretic by Tim Doody, The Morning News, http://www.themorningnews.org

In surveys administered shortly after their LSD-enhanced creativity sessions, the study volunteers, some of the best and brightest in their fields, sounded like tripped-out neopagans at a backwoods gathering. Their minds, they said, had blossomed and contracted with the universe. They’d beheld irregular but clean geometrical patterns glistening into infinity, felt a rightness before solutions manifested, and even shapeshifted into relevant formulas, concepts, and raw materials.

The !Kung (tongue-click then “kung”) is one of the psychedelically-augmented, anarchistic societies that had survived these purges well into contemporary times. A nomadic people, they’d harmonized with the austere rhythms of the Kalahari Desert for thousands of years. Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, who lived with them during the 1950s, writes that the !Kung recognized an illness called “Star Sickness,” which could overcome members of the community with a force not unlike gravity and cause profound disorientation. Unable to situate themselves in the cosmos in a meaningful way, the afflicted displayed jealousy, hostility, and a marked incapacity for gift-giving—the very symptoms that plague many Westerners, according to Fadiman (and, certainly, quite a few others).

Albert Einstein, who navigated the twilight turf between consciousness and matter for much of his life, argued that “Man” suffers from an “optical delusion of consciousness” as he “experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest.” His cure? Get some n/um. “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious,” he said. “It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: His eyes are closed.”

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Reprinted with permission from: The Morning News

Hitchens as Orwell’s Successor by Anthony Lock

In civilisation, government, literature, society, writers on July 13, 2012 at 01:14

 

From: Prick the Bubbles, Pass the Mantle: Hitchens as Orwell’s Successor  by Anthony Lock, the Humanist Magazine, http://thehumanist.org

It’s hard to say where Hitchens’ greatest popularity lies, but much Hitch-love comes from his status as the successor to George Orwell. Orwell’s manner, if anything, was the opposite of Hitchens’ strut. But the two are compared because they both criticized the Left from within on matters of international policy, albeit in independent ways. Hitchens broke from the Left over the so-called war on terror, quitting his literary homestead, The Nation, and making particularly derisive comments about his comrades. These actions were viewed as the strongest individual leftist dissent by a writer since Orwell’s infamous break over the Spanish Communists and the Soviet Union. To boot, Hitchens offered strong, vocal admiration for the elder English author and polemicist, and invoked Orwell on matters of principle and ethics regarding his own conservative turn. Indeed, the two are similarly noteworthy for their incorporation of morals into their politics.

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Moscow supports Kim Jong-un by Leonid Petrov

In Asia, Europe, government, history, politics on July 11, 2012 at 00:09

 

From: Moscow supports Kim Jong-un by Leonid Petrov, The Montreal Review, http://www.themontrealreview.com

One may be surprised by the timing and generosity of the deal. Despite promises of a new era of strength and prosperity, this year saw the DPRK at odds with old evils. The coldest winter and the driest summer in decades have dashed its expectations for a proper harvest. The embarrassment of a faulty rocket launch in April was compounded by the withdrawal of US food-aid and international condemnation. The hyper-inflation of North Korean currency and the continuing energy crisis are not the propitious signs of effective governance by the newest leader in the Kim dynasty. Is Russia trying to help Kim Jong-un consolidate political power and overcome mounting economic difficulties?

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UK Mass Surveillance Bill: The Return of a Bad Idea by Cindy Cohn

In copyright, law, politics, privacy on June 18, 2012 at 22:01

 

From: UK Mass Surveillance Bill: The Return of a Bad Idea by Cindy Cohn, Electronic Frontier Foundation, https://www.eff.org

This week the British government unveiled a bill that has a familiar ring to it. The Communications Data Bill would require all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and mobile phone network providers in Britain to collect and store information on everyone’s internet and phone activity.  Essentially, the bill seeks to publicly require in the UK what EFF and many others have long maintained is happening in the US in secret – and what we have been trying to bring to public and judicial review since 2005.  Put simply, it appears that both governments want to shift from surveillance of communications and communications records based on individualized suspicion and probable cause to the mass untargeted collection of communications and communications records of ordinary, non-suspect people.

This shift has profound implications for the UK, the US and any country that claims to be committed to rule of law and the protection of fundamental freedoms.

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