Monthly Archive: February 2014

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Useful Idiots and the Defense of Totalitarians

Why do smart people support dictators? Usually, they don’t defend a murderer, and probably oppose wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or drone strikes in Pakistan. Yet, when a foreign leader opposes “American imperialism” or upholds a socialist vision, all is forgiven. Who needs freedom of speech, a bourgeois virtue that...

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How to Travel in 7 Steps

Everyone talks about how much they’d love to travel. Ignoring the 90 percent of people who lie when they say it, the remaining 10 percent who want to probably won’t leave the country. So I want to help that 1 or 2 percent of the 10 who might commit to...

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Your Ideology Makes You Lie to Yourself

As we descend into the cave of reality and search for truth, ideology guides our action. Yet, as the mystery in the cave deepens, the ideology we use as a flashlight catches our eyes and blinds us instead of lighting the path. Though I’m skeptical that we can escape the...

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Appalachia Is a Place, Not Just a Backwater

I used to envy my friends with cultural connections to the country their families immigrated from. The traditions, cultural ties, and general identification for a way of life left behind but still valued enticed me. It continued a rare brand of conservatism that reflected Burke’s definition of society as a...

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Repression By Any Other Name

From “Repression By Any Other Name” by Ariel Dorfman in Guernica: Of course, the U.S. government will continue to spy, no matter what limited and cosmetic restrictions may henceforth be enacted, and of course the criminalization of journalists who question or inform about these activities and methods is bound to increase...

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An American Surveillance Story: Congressional Edition

Does the NSA spy on Congress? “Probably.” Is there a more American way to admit it? The surveillance apparatus has become so sprawling, so all-encompassing, that we can’t get a “yes,” but a “we collect so much data, it’s hard to believe we don’t.” The affirmation might cause the first...

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Lazy Thinking: Problems of Exceptionalism and the Threat of Nationalism

Western tradition gets upheld as a lone bastion of freedom, the shining city on a hill. To make that story plausible, we can argue that, among other things, Western countries uphold conceptions of nationalism that center around individual rights and intermediate institutions which preserved freedom and community. That story falters,...

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10 Essays That Will Improve Your Mind

The following, in no particular order, range across the political, literary, virtuous, and philosophical. They lack a thematic coherence, but capture something valuable in a process, thought, or method. Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson I do not wish to expiate, but to live. My life is for itself and not...

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The Cult of Economic Progress Isn’t Always Progress

I always dismissed “people before profits.” It sounds reactionary, an economically ignorant slogan rather than anything meaningful. Hippies or “artists” living in the city on trust funds from suburban parents shout it at rallies. However, it deserves more than flippant disregard. Uttered in a more nuanced light, it’s a commentary on progress....