Exploring the Eclipse of Equality

Archive for May, 2010|Monthly archive page

What was that about a Good Crisis? The politics of immigration and hydrocarbons

In Domestic Politics on May 27, 2010 at 9:40 am

Do you remember that line of Rahm Emanuel’s that those among us who are Republicans love to repeat: you never want a serious crisis to go to waste? It is a great line because it reflects a hard-bitten political instinct that is really quite savvy, although it may not have been politic to say it in public. Opponents of the President have been quite wrong in attributing this machine politics sensibility of his Chief of Staff to him, for in Obama’s radical moderation he is going to let two serious crises pass him by in the same season. The trick in making sense of these crises is that each points in a different direction.

Just Tuesday, we learned that Obama is going to move to secure the border with 1200 troops, a decision he seems to have reached after meeting with Republican Senate leaders. One might imagine that he is speaking about the border with North Korea, but no, this is our ally Mexico. In a move that apparently splits the middle of concerns on this issue, he balances the fear driven concerns of those who live in Western States with the fear driven concerns of Latinos and civil rights groups who see the Arizona law as a way to introduce a kind of ethnic Apartheid.  Obama here is probably making a mistake by avoiding the chance to signal to all Latinos everywhere that the Democratic Party is their natural home as the Civil Rights act did for African Americans.

This week as the BP disaster has washed thick oil into the marshes of Louisiana, the public furor about the lack of safety precautions taken by the company is only now washing ashore here on the banks of the Potomac. We have Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Muslims’, ‘Islamists’, and ‘Islamics’: The Dilemma of ‘Sacred’ Interpretation

In Guest Blogger, Intellectual History on May 21, 2010 at 2:23 pm


Here is a belated (on my part) post form our own Mohammed Cherkaoui, who returns to Confrontations with another fascinating piece on an important Arab thinker, this one more recently departed. Mohammed’s object in this essay is the  Mohamed Abed Al-jabri who passed away earlier this month. In Mohammed’s care, we see Al-Jabri as a careful and forward looking thinker who recognized the inherent dangers that come with a modernizing Islam, but who tried to forge a path toward a coherent future.

There is surely much for you to debate in Cherkaoui’s argument and his use of evocative phrases like “Salafists with liberal tendencies” and “a scientific critique of Arab reason by renouncing the traditional understanding of tradition” should get you thinking and curious about this intriguing figure that Mohammed introduces to us here.

From my vantage at Confrontations, I see this as a great moment to think about how the imagery of the “West against the Rest”can be set aside for support for engagement with the indigenous development of alternative modernities around the world. If Mohammed is right, then we should use the occasion of Al-Jabri’s passing to explore his answers to the questions that we all face.

While mourning the death of the Moroccan philosopher Mohamed Abed Al-jabri (May 3, 2010), one commentator said the loss of Al-jabri was also a “farewell to the reason and the philosophy of religions”, in recognition of his advocacy of innovative and modern thinking. Read the rest of this entry »

So that was what all the fuss was about: Rand Paul and the Health Bill ruckus

In Domestic Politics on May 21, 2010 at 10:55 am

I have been more detached from the news cycle than usual, and I get a little behind these days, but the interview on Rachel Maddow’s show with Rand Paul is a first class media event. There is so much in this episode, but the thing that stands out to me is the reaction from  John Kyl that I came across in the New York Times.

“I hope he can separate the theoretical and the interesting and the hypothetical questions that college students debate until 2 a.m. from the actual votes we have to cast based on real legislation here,” said Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican.

This is, in a sense, more important a revelation than are Paul’s comments because they have more to reveal. If you have been paying attention, as Ms. Maddow obviously has, you would know that Paul has to oppose the Civil Rights act of 1964, precisely because it was such a radical document from a Libertarian perspective. You might as well ask him if he would support limiting freedom of speech (his freedom of association fixation is drawn from that same First Amendment) for people with whom he disagrees. This is a freedom über alles philosophy and he is the real deal.

What makes the Rand Paul victory important for ideological clarification is that grappling with a prominent Paulite will help you to disaggregate the two major constituencies that opposed that landmark bill of 1964 and who are in some sense still with us today: you have the traditional southern racists like Strom Thurmond and George Wallace and the constitutional fundamentalists like Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. These two sets of actors may all seem like racists to us in the twenty-first century, but only because we have the hindsight benefit of having spent most of our lives in the relative calm in race relations that the Civil Rights bill brought us and all of the placidity of vision that can come with that.

The two groups were really quite different. Read the rest of this entry »

Living the Cascade: Why Johan Galtung remains the indispensable man

In Intellectual History, Reviews on May 12, 2010 at 10:22 am

I was having a chat with one of ICAR’s most thoughtful master’s students, Jay Filipi, yesterday in which he asked me about the soul of the field of Conflict Resolution. Jay’s question touched on what most of us likely ask ourselves all the time who have joined this strange enterprise that goes by the name of Conflict Resolution, Conflict Transformation and Peace Studies. He wondered what it was that made CR any different for me from my home discipline Sociology. Couldn’t one think of it as a kind of sub-field of (fill in your own home discipline here)?

My answer is that yes one could think of it in that way, but I don’t think that this is the right answer. Instead, I think that we get a sense of how to think of the field from Andrea Bartoli’s Lynch lecture given this Monday. Andrea, who is self consciously and brilliantly attempting to invite us to invent some coherent collective purpose for our field, focused on the second side of the escalation curve, the one that in most models goes down from the peak of escalation, but in his model climbs up from the well of despair. What we do that others do not is to investigate why conflicts fall into the well and why they climb back out.  This is why ICAR is called the Institute of Conflict Analysis and Resolution. The Analysis part is the climb up the hill or the fall down the well. The Resolution part is the climb back down the hill or the ascension from the well. Andrea knows what this thing is that is emerging and he cares little if we call it resolution, transformation or peace so long as we do it (well he is sticking to resolution, but has “a rose by any other name” attitude toward it). If you want to know Read the rest of this entry »