Nature, Ability, and Value

Perhaps nowhere do the great philosophical issues of civilization become more evident than in how society treats the disabled. Take the current obsession with the notion of the “natural”, for instance. Human civilization is repeatedly criticized for being unnatural; the natural world is taken to be morally superior. But what …

The Entirely Ordinary Victory of Donald J. Trump

The election of a deeply reactionary representative of the American plutocracy – and political outsider – to the office of President seems to have caused a major intellectual crisis in American liberalism. Or perhaps not so much a crisis as a panic – a sudden desperation to deflect any and …

Things Are Not OK

Once upon a time I was talking to an old German man. “The government is blaming foreigners for everything,” he told me. “All these politicians, they’re completely corrupt! Taking money from corporations, doing whatever they’re told by the rich. They don’t care about ordinary people anymore. They don’t care about …

On Punching Nazis

There’s been a lot of debate about the use of violence to oppose various manifestations of the far right lately. Both sides of the argument are frequently indignant. How can it be OK to punch anyone? How can it not be OK to punch a Nazi? What’s missing from most …

Deplorables

I’ve experienced racism as long as I can remember. As a small child in Greece, it was because I spoke German to my mother, so other children would mock me, screaming “Hitler! Hitler!” on the playground. As an adult living in Germany, it’s because I’m Greek, and Greeks are supposedly …

But What Does It Tell Us About Art?

In my early university days in Germany, I made the rather painful mistake of picking something called Theatre, Film and Media Studies as one of my majors. I was fully aware that this department only cared about the theoretical/academic side of things and wouldn’t teach us how to make movies …

Faith in Humanity

There’s a quote from the glossary at the end of Star Maker – a book so good that even its glossary is worth quoting at length – that came back to me today. I’ve mentioned it before, but hadn’t thought about it for a while. I believe that it encapsulates …

Art Is Not Politics

It has become fashionable to treat art as politics. The inclusion of millionaires of a certain gender or “race” in the latest corporate entertainment product is taken to signify an improvement in the conditions of people who share superficial traits with those individuals, even as nothing changes in their wages, …

We Are Not A Virus

In recent decades, there has been a growing tendency in the politics and philosophy of ecology that can only be described as anti-humanist. While this doesn’t constitute a coherent movement as such, there are several ideological assertions that crop up repeatedly across the entire spectrum of anti-humanist thought. The anti-humanist …

Human Nature

We can’t create a better economic system. We can’t beat cancer. We can’t achieve interstellar travel. We can’t overthrow the Czar. We can’t beat the plague. We can’t create machines that fly. We can’t overthrow the kings. We can’t prevent the infants from dying. We can’t cross the oceans. We …