Exploring the Eclipse of Equality

Posts Tagged ‘Trauma’

Kriesberg at ICAR: Various kinds of intractability

In Uncategorized on March 5, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Just came from the very interesting talk in the Truland building by Louis Kriesberg. I had never seen him and it was great fun to finally put a face to the name and to get a sense of what kind of person had written those things that you had read over the years.  The topic was the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, hosted by Marc Gopin and his center, and the crowd turned out dutifully to get some pearls of wisdom on this never ending nightmare of a conflict.

There was good reason to attend (for those of you who had thought about it, but couldn’t come) and I am certainly happy to have gone. The reasons were related not to finding the way out of what we all recognize as one of the world’s worst conundrums, shared from a self possessed guru. Kriesberg was not there to mobilize the masses. Instead, he came off to me as something very familiar–a sociologist. Lou’s style, if this is any guide, is to stay within the range of the data. He spoke of his long experience in the field and in studying this conflict and shared some of this legitimacy with Chris Mitchell, who had introduced him. He spoke of his recent trip to the hill and of his futile attempts to make contact with J Street.  These were not the most powerful examples to our high powered and socially active group. We are so engaged as to be almost trigger happy. We want answers. Kriesberg’s style of answer, to paraphrase, was of the form “explanations of a phenomenon by good science can get you the right answer 60% of the time, which is a darn spot better than flipping a coin.” I assume that most of us were not much happy with that kind of answer; but I was. You see, Kreisberg is that old style University of Chicago sociologist (my Alma mater). He is ambitious and active, but he is also unwilling to say he knows something when he doesn’t. I think he came to ICAR to have a conversation with like minded scholars on a problem that many of us have lived with for a long time. He was unapologetic, and he certainly did what I came for.

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The Party of Lincoln: Civil War, Seccesionist Republicans and American Trauma

In Uncategorized on March 3, 2010 at 12:19 pm

I was just reading a column by E. J. Dionne that got me thinking about a few themes in American politics.  Dionne presents the Governor of Texas as an extreme rightist who has embraced positions far to the right of George W. Bush. He also suggests that Perry, who yesterday won the Republican Party primary for governor, has voiced support for secession from the United States. This is interesting because Sarah Palin’s husband has also been associated, to some unspecified degree, with Alaskan secessionists in the past as well. Palin had also supported Perry in the defense of his governorship. This comes together in a picture of the new right as something like the modern day incarnation of the Antebellum South. As I have heard it put, it is difficult to find the edge of the right fringe, much as it was back in 1964.

I am now trying to decide if the fear of the right is based on reasonable expectations of secessionist proclivities (however unlikely these are to be realized), or if the civil war is acting here as a kind of chosen trauma for progressives who fear the past. This makes some sense if we remember that the progressive movement was a creature of the Republican Party under figures like Teddy Roosevelt and Robert LaFollette, and that the Republican Party was created in order to combat the secessionist south. Progressive tendencies within the Republican Party were alive and well until around the late 1960s when New Yorkers like Nelson Rockefeller and Jacob Javits were closing out their careers.

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