Meritocratic Ideals Can Undermine Democracy

Michael Sandel describes the meritocratic ideal as a dystopian aspiration in The Tyranny of Merit. Justin Kempf reflects on this book and considers how meritocratic ambitions can undermine democratic governance. What is Justice Justice is an ideal divided between claims of inequality and equality. Philosophers as early as Plato and Aristotle defined it as what each... Continue Reading →

Populist Logic and Populist Mindset

A populist logic is necessary to understand the populist mindset. Justin Kempf reflects on Ernesto Laclau's classic On Populist Reason to construct a sense of logic within a largely illogical political mindset.  What is Populism? Populism implies widespread support. It indicates popular public policies. So it may come as a surprise populists do not always win... Continue Reading →

Michel de Certeau – The Practice of Everyday Life

So many expectations burden democracy. There are conflicting expectations of representation. Some expect democracy to represent different viewpoints or ideologies while others expect a representation of diverse groups sorted by geography, gender, race, or other characteristics. There are expectations of merit. Leaders are expected to embody personal character, virtue, and most of all, leadership. But... Continue Reading →

Chantal Mouffe – On the Political

Condescension toward political polarization begins from a position of privilege. It requires an expectation of inclusion within the political process. Elites assume polarization is a problem with a simple cure. But the reality is it is a symptom of deeper systemic problems without simple solutions. Polarization is a manifestation of the politics of exclusion. It... Continue Reading →

Chantal Mouffe – The Democratic Paradox

A paradox is distinct from a contradiction. Sometimes the two ideas are confused. They are used interchangeably in ways which remove the impact of the concept of paradox. It is true ‘paradox’ feels a bit more exotic than the more pedantic ‘contradiction.’ But this is no reason to distort its meaning. A contradiction is where... Continue Reading →

Podcast Episode 8: Yael Tamir

  Yael Tamir is the author of Why Nationalism. We discuss Liberalism, Cosmopolitanism, and, of course, Nationalism. Since the end of World War II, Nationalism has largely been associated with the far right. Tamir believes this is a mistake and reimagines a path for the left to reclaim Nationalism through a realignment with Liberalism. Our... Continue Reading →

Isaiah Berlin – Against the Current

Isaiah Berlin did not call himself a philosopher. He was a historian of ideas. Indeed, he never explains his philosophy. He shares his ideas through his analysis of the ideas of others. His thoughts are rarely straightforward. Indeed, he will sometimes write one thing before he goes on to contradict it. There is a meaning... Continue Reading →

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