If Only Right-Wing Christians Knew Where Their Ideas Came From

by Ira Chernus, AlterNet, November 12, 2013

mini-excerpts

Right wing political landscape

The media spotlight has focused on the growing split in the Republican Party between its corporate-business wing and the libertarian-leaning Tea Partiers. But what about the third leg of the GOP tripod…the evangelical Christian religious right?…what will determine the fate of the GOP, is which way the religious right will break in this intramural fight over the role of government…the split in the GOP runs smack down the middle of the religious right…Tea Partiers align with the libertarian call for smaller government. They see government as a force imposing its secular ways upon them…Many other evangelicals will join the corporate-business Republicans in rejecting the Tea Party’s extremist anti-government agenda. They’ll see why Tea Partying is a trap for them. Only a powerful government can do the things evangelicals want most, like banning abortion and gay marriage, and more generally, imposing strict rules of personal behavior on every American.

History

What most won’t see, though, is the hidden place where evangelicals and libertarians do meet: way back in U.S. history, where both movements were inspired by a radical worldview. Just as the libertarian call for less government has its roots in radical, not conservative, assumptions about human nature, so the religious right’s call for government intervention has deep roots in evangelical demands for policies that were radically progressive at the time. Some of them are still radical, even by today’s standards…use government to achieve their goals—goals that today’s progressives still struggle for, like a fair and just income tax structure, guaranteed equal pay for women, and government ownership of utilities and transportation systems…Populists. Their program was laid out most famously in the 1892 declaration of the People’s Party, which demanded that government support the interest of “the people,” not “capitalists, corporations, banks, trusts.”…the main weapon Populists aimed to use was political power—enough power to make sure that their policies were enacted through government legislation, regulation, and strict enforcement…The Knights of Labor, the Populists, and the Bryanites [William Jennings Bryan] were in many ways the forerunner of today’s progressive left. Their fusion of evangelical Christianity and strong progressive government holds lessons for, and poses questions to, progressives today.

Progressive movement – strategy

The Republican Party may or may not be cracking up. Cracks in the GOP alliance don’t necessarily mean any advantage for progressives, of course. But they are windows of opportunity, if the left knows how to take advantage of them. It’s all a question of strategy. A smart first step for progressives is to do whatever we can to widen those cracks. It’s the religious right, long the progressive left’s favorite target, that is now the richest target of opportunity. Because politically progressive evangelical Christianity is not merely a relic of the 19th century. It’s making a comeback. That presents left progressives with a challenge. In your struggle for justice, would you ally with people who share your commitment to greater economic equality but would like to see government ban abortion and gay marriage? Today the question may seem abstract and hypothetical. Soon enough it may become a very real issue of debate for progressive strategists, and there are bound to be good arguments on both sides.

Communications/message

However, everyone should be able to agree that at least progressives outside the evangelical community should begin talking to folks inside that circle who are open to hearing the progressive message. Evangelicals will have to filter the message through their own beliefs, which means phrasing it in a somewhat different language…The main goal here should be to make the progressive tent wide enough to make room for evangelicals…moving evangelicals to the left will also widen the cracks in the shaky conservative alliance and hasten the day when it can no longer hold itself together.

Full Excerpt

The media spotlight has focused on the growing split in the Republican Party between its corporate-business wing and the libertarian-leaning Tea Partiers. But what about the third leg of the GOP tripod, the one that used to get all the attention: the evangelical Christian religious right? That’s where the spotlight ought to be…

We know the corporate-business types want an active federal government, because it can be counted on to serve their interests, especially if Republicans regain control of it. We know that the libertarians, who are the driving force in the Tea Party, want to shrink government; that’s their whole reason for being.

What we don’t know yet, and what will determine the fate of the GOP, is which way the religious right will break in this intramural fight over the role of government. Even the conservative evangelicals themselves don’t know, because the split in the GOP runs smack down the middle of the religious right.

Many politically active evangelicals are happy to be Tea Partiers [3] and align with the libertarian call for smaller government. They see government as a force imposing its secular ways upon them…Many other evangelicals will join the corporate-business Republicans in rejecting the Tea Party’s extremist anti-government agenda. They’ll see why Tea Partying is a trap for them. Only a powerful government can do the things evangelicals want most, like banning abortion and gay marriage, and more generally, imposing strict rules of personal behavior on every American.

What most won’t see, though, is the hidden place where evangelicals and libertarians do meet: way back in U.S. history, where both movements were inspired by a radical worldview. Just as the libertarian call for less government has its roots in radical, not conservative, assumptions about human nature, so the religious right’s call for government intervention has deep roots in evangelical demands for policies that were radically progressive at the time. Some of them are still radical, even by today’s standards…use government to achieve their goals—goals that today’s progressives still struggle for, like a fair and just income tax structure, guaranteed equal pay for women, and government ownership of utilities and transportation systems…Populists. Their program was laid out most famously in the 1892 declaration of the People’s Party, which demanded that government support the interest of “the people,” not “capitalists, corporations, banks, trusts.”…the main weapon Populists aimed to use was political power—enough power to make sure that their policies were enacted through government legislation, regulation, and strict enforcement…The Knights of Labor, the Populists, and the Bryanites [William Jennings Bryan] were in many ways the forerunner of today’s progressive left. Their fusion of evangelical Christianity and strong progressive government holds lessons for, and poses questions to, progressives today.

The Republican Party may or may not be cracking up. Cracks in the GOP alliance don’t necessarily mean any advantage for progressives, of course. But they are windows of opportunity, if the left knows how to take advantage of them. It’s all a question of strategy.

A smart first step for progressives is to do whatever we can to widen those cracks. It’s the religious right, long the progressive left’s favorite target, that is now the richest target of opportunity. Because politically progressive evangelical Christianity is not merely a relic of the 19th century. It’s making a comeback [7].

That presents left progressives with a challenge. In your struggle for justice, would you ally with people who share your commitment to greater economic equality but would like to see government ban abortion and gay marriage? Today the question may seem abstract and hypothetical. Soon enough it may become a very real issue of debate for progressive strategists, and there are bound to be good arguments on both sides.

However, everyone should be able to agree that at least progressives outside the evangelical community should begin talking to folks inside that circle who are open to hearing the progressive message. Evangelicals will have to filter the message through their own beliefs, which means phrasing it in a somewhat different language.

Smart progressives will start learning that language, figuring out how to communicate with evangelicals and discover common ground. Smart progressives will also learn how to remind evangelicals, gently but persuasively, of their own radical political history, which many may not know.

The main goal here should be to make the progressive tent wide enough to make room for evangelicals. Though we are far from the 19th century, evangelicals can now, as then, bring a unique kind of energy into progressive movements that can pay off. As a side benefit, moving evangelicals to the left will also widen the cracks in the shaky conservative alliance and hasten the day when it can no longer hold itself together.       

Full text

The media spotlight has focused on the growing split in the Republican Party between its corporate-business wing and the libertarian-leaning Tea Partiers. But what about the third leg of the GOP tripod, the one that used to get all the attention: the evangelical Christian religious right? That’s where the spotlight ought to be.

We know the corporate-business types want an active federal government, because it can be counted on to serve their interests, especially if Republicans regain control of it. We know that the libertarians, who are the driving force in the Tea Party, want to shrink government; that’s their whole reason for being.

What we don’t know yet, and what will determine the fate of the GOP, is which way the religious right will break in this intramural fight over the role of government. Even the conservative evangelicals themselves don’t know, because the split in the GOP runs smack down the middle of the religious right.

Many politically active evangelicals are happy to be Tea Partiers [3] and align with the libertarian call for smaller government. They see government as a force imposing its secular ways upon them. And Tea Party politicians have been equally happy to talk the religious right talk because it wins them votes.

Many other evangelicals will join the corporate-business Republicans in rejecting the Tea Party’s extremist anti-government agenda. They’ll see why Tea Partying is a trap for them. Only a powerful government can do the things evangelicals want most, like banning abortion and gay marriage, and more generally, imposing strict rules of personal behavior on every American. The more the Tea Party weakens the government, the more it deprives the religious right of its most potent tool. That should be easy enough for most conservative evangelicals to see.

What most won’t see, though, is the hidden place where evangelicals and libertarians do meet: way back in U.S. history, where both movements were inspired by a radical worldview. Just as the libertarian call for less government has its roots in radical [4], not conservative, assumptions about human nature, so the religious right’s call for government intervention has deep roots in evangelical demands for policies that were radically progressive at the time. Some of them are still radical, even by today’s standards.  

As early as the 1820s, the evangelical style of Christianity was beginning to dominate American political life. It didn’t stop dominating until the 19th century was over.

Looking back across the history of that century you’ll find evangelicals, demanding strong government intervention in everyone’s life, popping up in all sorts of places. And most of those places are well to the left of where you might expect them, if your view of evangelical politics is shaped only by the era of Ronald Reagan and Jerry Falwell.

Most famously, evangelical Christians led and filled the ranks of the movement to abolish slavery. Some (though far too few) even took the lead in treating African Americans as genuine equals. The best recent writing on the causes of the Civil War shows that evangelicalism was a crucial factor creating widespread popular resistance to the “peculiar institution.”

Without the spur of evangelical fervor there probably would have been no Republican Party, no President Lincoln, and no secession of the South. Slavery would not only have continued in the United States; it probably would have spread throughout the territories that became the new states of the Southwest, making it that much harder ever to abolish.

Antebellum evangelical reformers also took the lead in demanding that government provide free public education for all, more humane treatment of prisoners and the disabled, and more equality for women. Of course, most of their specific policy prescriptions seem too conservative by today’s progressive standards. But in their own day they were out on the cutting left edge of political life. And one of their demands—that government renounce war as an instrument of national policy—still sounds as radical as ever.

You’ll find all of these examples, and more, if you pick up any good book on 19th-century U.S. history.

I picked up one such book at random, just as I was beginning to write this column: Alan Trachtenberg’s The Incorporation of America [5], one of the most insightful histories of the Gilded Age, from the 1870s to the 1890s. When historians go looking for evangelicals supporting left-leaning government policies, they almost always look at the era of reform before the Civil War, not the Gilded Age that followed it. Yet just thumbing through Trachtenberg’s book I easily found evidence that the pattern lasted right through the 19th century.

Trachtenberg points out the powerful evangelical impulse in two of the era’s greatest political bestsellers, Henry George’s Progress and Poverty and Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward. George wrote glowingly of “the noble dreams of socialism.” Bellamy advocated “the religion of solidarity… a system of public ownership… to realize the idea of the nation … as a family, a vital union, a common life.”

Both denounced the injustices of the emerging corporate system with “evangelical fervor,” says Trachtenberg, sustained by “religious emotions of ‘solidarity.’”

But there was more going on than just utopian words. There were workers organizing in the factories and the streets, dominated in the 1870s and 1880s by the Knights of Labor. The Knights intended to use government to achieve their goals—goals that today’s progressives still struggle for, like a fair and just income tax structure, guaranteed equal pay for women, and government ownership of utilities and transportation systems.

And they built their movement upon “an unmistakable fusion of republicanism and evangelical Protestantism,” in Trachtenberg’s words. “Workers found in Protestantism a profound ‘notion of right’ for their struggles.” They made “’the religion of solidarity’ proclaimed by Edward Bellamy and other Protestant reformers … a living experience within labor.” Obviously they saw no conflict between evangelical Christianity and a strong central government enforcing laws to create economic justice.

By the 1890s the Knights’ leading role in labor movement had been eclipsed by the American Federation of Labor. But as the Knights declined, the spirit that moved them was being picked up by an eclectic mix of movements that came to be grouped under the umbrella term, Populists. Their program was laid out most famously in the 1892 declaration of the People’s Party, which demanded that government support the interest of “the people,” not “capitalists, corporations, banks, trusts.”

That declaration was “composed in evangelical accents” and “rang with echoes of revivalism” as well as “backwoods democracy and grassroots outrage,” as Trachtenberg writes. “Populist spokesmen clothed themselves in the garb of righteous evangels.”

Like the Knights, the Populists were on a crusade to eliminate sin. But their political ideas also “drew from the movement’s roots in native radicalism, in a secular rhetoric of ‘equal rights’ and ‘anti-monopoly.’” And the main weapon Populists aimed to use was political power—enough power to make sure that their policies were enacted through government legislation, regulation, and strict enforcement.

Like most historians, Trachtenberg traces the decline of the Populists to their fateful decision, in1896, to join with the Democrats in making William Jennings Bryan their joint candidate for president. Bryan ran three times for the top job and lost all three times. Today, on the left, he’s most remembered as the evangelical Christian zealot who decried the teaching of evolution in the 1924 Scopes trial. But the infamous trial came near the end of his long life.

For most of that life he, more than any other American, carried the banner of radical reform in the name of God. It’s worth reading the details in Michael Kazin’s recent biography of Bryan [6]. Kazin, a leading authority on Populism and an important progressive intellectual in his own right, makes it clear that in the late 19th century, and on into the early 20th, millions of evangelical Protestants saw it as a religious duty to demand that a strong government right the economic wrongs of the corporate capitalist system. The left in that era could not have emerged as a significant force without the tremendous boost it got from evangelical faith.

All this history should be more than mere curiosity to us. The Knights of Labor, the Populists, and the Bryanites were in many ways the forerunner of today’s progressive left. Their fusion of evangelical Christianity and strong progressive government holds lessons for, and poses questions to, progressives today.

The Republican Party may or may not be cracking up. Cracks in the GOP alliance don’t necessarily mean any advantage for progressives, of course. But they are windows of opportunity, if the left knows how to take advantage of them. It’s all a question of strategy.

A smart first step for progressives is to do whatever we can to widen those cracks. It’s the religious right, long the progressive left’s favorite target, that is now the richest target of opportunity. Because politically progressive evangelical Christianity is not merely a relic of the 19th century. It’s making a comeback [7].

That presents left progressives with a challenge. In your struggle for justice, would you ally with people who share your commitment to greater economic equality but would like to see government ban abortion and gay marriage? Today the question may seem abstract and hypothetical. Soon enough it may become a very real issue of debate for progressive strategists, and there are bound to be good arguments on both sides.

However, everyone should be able to agree that at least progressives outside the evangelical community should begin talking to folks inside that circle who are open to hearing the progressive message. Evangelicals will have to filter the message through their own beliefs, which means phrasing it in a somewhat different language.

Smart progressives will start learning that language, figuring out how to communicate with evangelicals and discover common ground. Smart progressives will also learn how to remind evangelicals, gently but persuasively, of their own radical political history, which many may not know.

The main goal here should be to make the progressive tent wide enough to make room for evangelicals. Though we are far from the 19th century, evangelicals can now, as then, bring a unique kind of energy into progressive movements that can pay off. As a side benefit, moving evangelicals to the left will also widen the cracks in the shaky conservative alliance and hasten the day when it can no longer hold itself together.    

See more stories tagged with:

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republican party [9],

libertarian [10],

christian [11],

evangelical [12],

religious [13],

right-wing [14],

tea party [15]


Source URL: http://admin.alternet.org/belief/if-only-right-wing-christian-evangelicals-knew-where-their-ideas-came

Links:
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[2] http://admin.alternet.org/authors/ira-chernus
[3] http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/just-enough-city/2013/apr/22/how-religious-right-and-libertarians-buried-hatche/
[4] http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/if-only-tea-party-crowd-knew-where-their-ideas-came
[5] http://us.macmillan.com/theincorporationofamerica/AlanTrachtenberg
[6] http://www.randomhouse.com/book/90625/a-godly-hero-by-michael-kazin
[7] http://www.christianpost.com/news/author-new-evangelical-left-pushing-bounds-of-christianity-49287/
[8] http://admin.alternet.org/tags/gop
[9] http://admin.alternet.org/tags/republican-party
[10] http://admin.alternet.org/tags/libertarian-0
[11] http://admin.alternet.org/tags/christian-0
[12] http://admin.alternet.org/tags/evangelical
[13] http://admin.alternet.org/tags/religious
[14] http://admin.alternet.org/tags/right-wing
[15] http://admin.alternet.org/tags/tea-party-0
[16] http://admin.alternet.org/%2Bnew_src%2B

 

Bill Moyers: ‘We Are This Close to Losing Our Democracy to the Mercenary Class’

NOTE – here’s a short video – Bill Moyers: ‘We Are This Close to Losing Our Democracy to the Mercenary Class’ – video http://www.upworthy.com/if-more-people-knew-the-secrets-those-in-power-keep-from-us-all-we-would-toss-them-out-on-their-ear?c=ufb1

By Bill Moyers, TomDispatch, posted on Alternet,org,  December 12, 2013  

I met Supreme Court Justice William Brennan in 1987 when I was creating a series for public television called In Search of the Constitution, celebrating the bicentennial of our founding document.  By then, he had served on the court longer than any of his colleagues and had written close to 500 majority opinions, many of them addressing fundamental questions of equality, voting rights, school segregation, and — in New York Times v. Sullivan in particular — the defense of a free press.

Those decisions brought a storm of protest from across the country.  He claimed that he never took personally the resentment and anger directed at him.  He did, however, subsequently reveal that his own mother told him she had always liked his opinions when he was on the New Jersey court, but wondered now that he was on the Supreme Court, “Why can’t you do it the same way?” His answer: “We have to discharge our responsibility to enforce the rights in favor of minorities, whatever the majority reaction may be.”

Although a liberal, he worried about the looming size of government. When he mentioned that modern science might be creating “a Frankenstein,” I asked, “How so?”  He looked around his chambers and replied, “The very conversation we’re now having can be overheard. Science has done things that, as I understand it, makes it possible through these drapes and those windows to get something in here that takes down what we’re talking about.”

That was long before the era of cyberspace and the maximum surveillance state that grows topsy-turvy with every administration.  How I wish he were here now — and still on the Court!

My interview with him was one of 12 episodes in that series on the Constitution.  Another concerned a case he had heard back in 1967.  It involved a teacher named Harry Keyishian who had been fired because he would not sign a New York State loyalty oath.  Justice Brennan ruled that the loyalty oath and other anti-subversive state statutes of that era violated First Amendment protections of academic freedom.

I tracked Keyishian down and interviewed him.  Justice Brennan watched that program and was fascinated to see the actual person behind the name on his decision.  The journalist Nat Hentoff, who followed Brennan’s work closely, wrote, “He may have seen hardly any of the litigants before him, but he searched for a sense of them in the cases that reached him.”  Watching the interview with Keyishian, he said, “It was the first time I had seen him.  Until then, I had no idea that he and the other teachers would have lost everything if the case had gone the other way.”

Toward the end of his tenure, when he was writing an increasing number of dissents on the Rehnquist Court, Brennan was asked if he was getting discouraged. He smiled and said, “Look, pal, we’ve always known — the Framers knew — that liberty is a fragile thing.  You can’t give up.”  And he didn’t.

The Donor Class and Streams of Dark Money

The historian Plutarch warned us long ago of what happens when there is no brake on the power of great wealth to subvert the electorate.  “The abuse of buying and selling votes,” he wrote of Rome, “crept in and money began to play an important part in determining elections.  Later on, this process of corruption spread in the law courts and to the army, and finally, when even the sword became enslaved by the power of gold, the republic was subjected to the rule of emperors.”

We don’t have emperors yet, but we do have the Roberts Court that consistently privileges the donor class.

We don’t have emperors yet, but we do have a Senate in which, as a study by the political scientist Larry Bartels reveals, “Senators appear to be considerably more responsive to the opinions of affluent constituents than to the opinions of middle-class constituents, while the opinions of constituents in the bottom third of the income distribution have no apparent statistical effect on their senators’ roll call votes.”

We don’t have emperors yet, but we have a House of Representatives controlled by the far right that is now nourished by streams of “dark money” unleashed thanks to the gift bestowed on the rich by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United case.

We don’t have emperors yet, but one of our two major parties is now dominated by radicals engaged in a crusade of voter suppression aimed at the elderly, the young, minorities, and the poor; while the other party, once the champion of everyday working people, has been so enfeebled by its own collaboration with the donor class that it offers only token resistance to the forces that have demoralized everyday Americans.

Writing in the Guardian recently, the social critic George Monbiot commented,

“So I don’t blame people for giving up on politics… When a state-corporate nexus of power has bypassed democracy and made a mockery of the voting process, when an unreformed political system ensures that parties can be bought and sold, when politicians [of the main parties] stand and watch as public services are divvied up by a grubby cabal of privateers, what is left of this system that inspires us to participate?”

Why are record numbers of Americans on food stamps? Because record numbers of Americans are in poverty. Why are people falling through the cracks? Because there are cracks to fall through. It is simply astonishing that in this rich nation more than 21 million Americans are still in need of full-time work, many of them running out of jobless benefits, while our financial class pockets record profits, spends lavishly on campaigns to secure a political order that serves its own interests, and demands that our political class push for further austerity. Meanwhile, roughly 46 million Americans live at or below the poverty line and, with the exception of Romania, no developed country has a higher percent of kids in poverty than we do.  Yet a study by scholars at Northwestern University and Vanderbilt finds little support among the wealthiest Americans for policy reforms to reduce income inequality.

Class Prerogatives

Listen!  That sound you hear is the shredding of the social contract.

Ten years ago the Economist magazine — no friend of Marxism — warned: “The United States risks calcifying into a European-style class-based society.”  And as a recent headline in the Columbia Journalism Review put it: “The line between democracy and a darker social order is thinner than you think.”

We are this close – this close! – to losing our democracy to the mercenary class. So close it’s as if we’re leaning way over the rim of the Grand Canyon waiting for a swift kick in the pants.

When Justice Brennan and I talked privately in his chambers before that interview almost 20 years ago, I asked him how he had come to his liberal sentiments.  “It was my neighborhood,” he said.  Born to Irish immigrants in 1906, as the harsh indignities of the Gilded Age brought hardship and deprivation to his kinfolk and neighbors, he saw “all kinds of suffering — people had to struggle.”  He never forgot those people or their struggles, and he believed it to be our collective responsibility to create a country where they would have a fair chance to a decent life.  “If you doubt it,” he said, “read the Preamble [to the Constitution].”

He then asked me how I had come to my philosophy about government (knowing that I had been in both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations).  I don’t remember my exact words, but I reminded him that I had been born in the midst of the Great Depression to parents, one of whom had to drop out of school in the fourth grade, the other in the eighth, because they were needed in the fields to pick cotton to help support their families.

Franklin Roosevelt, I recalled, had been president during the first 11 years of my life.  My father had listened to his radio “fireside chats” as if they were gospel; my brother went to college on the G.I. Bill; and I had been the beneficiary of public schools, public libraries, public parks, public roads, and two public universities.  How could I not think that what had been so good for me would be good for others, too?

That was the essence of what I told Justice Brennan.  Now, I wish that I could talk to him again, because I failed to mention perhaps the most important lesson about democracy I ever learned.

On my 16th birthday in 1950, I went to work for the daily newspaper in the small East Texas town where I grew up.  It was a racially divided town — about 20,000 people, half of them white, half of them black — a place where you could grow up well-loved, well-taught, and well-churched, and still be unaware of the lives of others merely blocks away.  It was nonetheless a good place to be a cub reporter: small enough to navigate but big enough to keep me busy and learning something new every day.  I soon had a stroke of luck.  Some of the old-timers in the newsroom were on vacation or out sick, and I got assigned to report on what came to be known as the “Housewives’ Rebellion.”  Fifteen women in town (all white) decided not to pay the Social Security withholding tax for their domestic workers (all black).

They argued that Social Security was unconstitutional, that imposing it was taxation without representation, and that — here’s my favorite part — “requiring us to collect [the tax] is no different from requiring us to collect the garbage.”  They hired themselves a lawyer — none other than Martin Dies, Jr., the former congressman best known, or worst known, for his work as head of the House Committee on Un-American Activities in the witch-hunting days of the 1930s and 1940s.  They went to court — and lost.  Social Security was constitutional, after all.  They held their noses and paid the tax.

The stories I helped report were picked up by the Associated Press and circulated nationwide.  One day, the managing editor, Spencer Jones, called me over and pointed to the AP ticker beside his desk.  Moving across the wire was a notice citing the reporters on our paper for the reporting we had done on the “rebellion.”  I spotted my name and was hooked.  In one way or another, after a detour through seminary and then into politics and government, I’ve been covering the class war ever since.

Those women in Marshall, Texas, were among its advance guard.  Not bad people, they were regulars at church, their children were my classmates, many of them were active in community affairs, and their husbands were pillars of the business and professional class in town.  They were respectable and upstanding citizens all, so it took me a while to figure out what had brought on that spasm of reactionary defiance.  It came to me one day, much later: they simply couldn’t see beyond their own prerogatives.

Fiercely loyal to their families, to their clubs, charities, and congregations — fiercely loyal, in other words, to their own kind — they narrowly defined membership in democracy to include only people like themselves.  The black women who washed and ironed their laundry, cooked their families’ meals,  cleaned their bathrooms, wiped their children’s bottoms, and made their husbands’ beds, these women, too, would grow old and frail, sick and decrepit, lose their husbands and face the ravages of time alone, with nothing to show for their years of labor but the creases on their brows and the knots on their knuckles.  There would be nothing for them to live on but the modest return on their toil secured by the collaborative guarantee of a safety net.

The Unfinished Work of America

In one way or another, this is the oldest story in America: the struggle to determine whether “we, the people” is a moral compact embedded in a political contract or merely a charade masquerading as piety and manipulated by the powerful and privileged to sustain their own way of life at the expense of others.

I should make it clear that I don’t harbor any idealized notion of politics and democracy.  Remember, I worked for Lyndon Johnson.  Nor do I romanticize “the people.” You should read my mail and posts on right-wing websites.  I understand the politician in Texas who said of the state legislature, “If you think these guys are bad, you should see their constituents.”

But there is nothing idealized or romantic about the difference between a society whose arrangements roughly serve all its citizens (something otherwise known as social justice) and one whose institutions have been converted into a stupendous fraud.  That can be the difference between democracy and plutocracy.

Toward the end of Justice Brennan’s tenure on the Supreme Court, he made a speech that went to the heart of the matter.  He said:

“We do not yet have justice, equal and practical, for the poor, for the members of minority groups, for the criminally accused, for the displaced persons of the technological revolution, for alienated youth, for the urban masses… Ugly inequities continue to mar the face of the nation. We are surely nearer the beginning than the end of the struggle.”

And so we are. One hundred and fifty years ago, Abraham Lincoln stood on the blood-soaked battlefield of Gettysburg and called Americans to “the great task remaining.”  That “unfinished work,” as he named it, remained the same then as it was when America’s founding generation began it. And it remains the same today: to breathe new life into the promise of the Declaration of Independence and to assure that the Union so many have sacrificed to save is a union worth saving.

 

See more stories tagged with:

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class warfare [6],

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[6] http://www.alternet.org/tags/class-warfare-0
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[9] http://www.alternet.org/tags/dark-money
[10] http://www.alternet.org/%2Bnew_src%2B

Thinking for the Future

By DAVID BROOKS, New York Times, December 9, 2013

We’re living in an era of mechanized intelligence, an age in which you’re probably going to find yourself in a workplace with diagnostic systems, different algorithms and computer-driven data analysis. If you want to thrive in this era, you probably want to be good at working with intelligent machines. As Tyler Cowen puts it in his relentlessly provocative recent book, “Average Is Over,” “If you and your skills are a complement to the computer, your wage and labor market prospects are likely to be cheery. If your skills do not complement the computer, you may want to address that mismatch.”

So our challenge for the day is to think of exactly which mental abilities complement mechanized intelligence. Off the top of my head, I can think of a few mental types that will probably thrive in the years ahead.

Freestylers. As Cowen notes, there’s a style of chess in which people don’t play against the computer but with the computer. They let the computer program make most of the moves, but, occasionally, they overrule it. They understand the strengths and weaknesses of the program and the strengths and weaknesses of their own intuition, and, ideally, they grab the best of both.

This skill requires humility (most of the time) and self-confidence (rarely). It’s the kind of skill you use to overrule your GPS system when you’re driving in a familiar neighborhood but defer to it in strange surroundings. It is the sort of skill a doctor uses when deferring to or overruling a diagnostic test. It’s the skill of knowing when an individual case is following predictable patterns and when there are signs it is diverging from them.

Synthesizers. The computerized world presents us with a surplus of information. The synthesizer has the capacity to surf through vast amounts of online data and crystallize a generalized pattern or story.

Humanizers. People evolved to relate to people. Humanizers take the interplay between man and machine and make it feel more natural. Steve Jobs did this by making each Apple product feel like nontechnological artifact. Someday a genius is going to take customer service phone trees and make them more human. Someday a retail genius is going to figure out where customers probably want automated checkout (the drugstore) and where they want the longer human interaction (the grocery store).

Conceptual engineers. Google presents prospective employees with challenges like the following: How many times in a day do a clock’s hands overlap? Or: Figure out the highest floor of a 100-story building you can drop an egg from without it breaking. How many drops do you need to figure this out? You can break two eggs in the process.

They are looking for the ability to come up with creative methods to think about unexpected problems.

Motivators. Millions of people begin online courses, but very few actually finish them. I suspect that’s because most students are not motivated to impress a computer the way they may be motivated to impress a human professor. Managers who can motivate supreme effort in a machine-dominated environment are going to be valuable.

Moralizers. Mechanical intelligence wants to be efficient. It will occasionally undervalue essential moral traits, like loyalty. Soon, performance metrics will increasingly score individual employees. A moralizing manager will insist that human beings can’t be reduced to the statistical line. A company without a self-conscious moralizer will reduce human interaction to the cash nexus and end up destroying morale and social capital.

Greeters. An economy that is based on mechanized intelligence is likely to be a wildly unequal economy, even if the government tries to combat that inequality. Cowen estimates that perhaps 15 percent of workers will thrive, with plenty of disposable income. There will be intense competition for these people’s attention. They will favor restaurants, hotels, law firms, foundations and financial institutions where they are greeted by someone who knows their name. People with this capacity for high-end service, and flattery, will find work.

Economizers. The bottom 85 percent is likely to be made up of people with less marketable workplace skills. Some of these people may struggle financially but not socially or intellectually. That is, they may not make much running a food truck, but they can lead rich lives, using the free bounty of the Internet. They could use a class of advisers on how to preserve rich lives on a small income.

Weavers. Many of the people who struggle economically will lack the self-motivation to build rich inner lives for themselves. Many are already dropping out of the labor force in record numbers and drifting into disorganized, disaffected lifestyles. Public and private institutions are going to hire more people to fight this social disintegration. There will be jobs for people who combat the dangerous inegalitarian tendencies of this new world.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/10/opinion/brooks-thinking-for-the-future.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20131210

The Time for Wealth Redistribution Is Now

Robert Reich’s Blog / By Robert Reich, posted on Alternet,org,  December 6, 2013  |

The President’s speech yesterday on inequality avoided the “R” word. No politician wants to mention “redistribution” because it conjures up images of worthy “makers” forced to hand over hard-earned income to undeserving “takers.”

But as low-wage work proliferates in America, so-called takers are working as hard if not harder than anyone else, and often at more than one job.

Yet they’re still not making it because the twin forces of globalization and technological change have reduced their bargaining power and undermined their economic standing—while bestowing ever greater benefits on a comparative few with the right education and connections (and whose parents are often best able to secure these advantages for them).

Better education and training for those on the losing end is critically important, as will several of the other proposals the President listed. But they will only go so far.

The number of losers is growing so quickly, and so much of the economies’ winnings are going to a small group at the top—since the recovery began, 95 percent of the gains have gone to the richest 1 percent [2]—that some direct redistribution of the gains is necessary.

Without some redistribution, the losers are likely to react in ways that could hurt the economy. They’ll demand protection from global markets they believe are taking away good jobs, and even from certain technological advances that threaten to displace them (rather than smash the machines, as did England’s 19th-century Luddites, they’ll seek regulations that preserve the old jobs).

Without some redistribution, our ever-increasing number of low-wage workers won’t have enough money to keep the economy going. (This is one reason why the current recovery has been so anemic.)

And without some redistribution, America’s growing army of low-wage workers may fall prey to demagogues on the right or left who offer convenient scapegoats for their frustrations.

One way we already redistribute is through the Earned Income Tax Credit [3], a wage subsidy for the working poor, which, at about $60 billion a year, is the nation’s largest anti-poverty program. It’s like a reverse income tax—larger at the bottom of the wage scale (now around $3,000 for incomes around $20,000) and gradually tapering off as incomes rise (vanishing at around $35,000).

The EITC subsidy should be enlarged and extended further up the wage scale before tapering off.

How to pay for this? By cutting subsidies and special tax breaks for the oil and gas industries, big agribusiness, military contractors, hedge-fund and private-equity partners, and Wall Street banks. And by capping individual tax deductions (deductions are the economic equivalent of government subsidies) for gold-plated health care plans, lavish business junkets and interest on giant mortgages.

In other words, we can finance much of this redistribution to the working poor by ending unnecessary redistributions to the wealthy.

See more stories tagged with:

redistribution [4],

economy [5],

poverty [6],

low-wage workers [7],

Earned Income Tax Credit [8]


Source URL: http://www.alternet.org/economy/time-wealth-redistribution-now

Links:
[1] http://www.alternet.org/authors/robert-reich-0
[2] http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/10/the-rich-get-richer-through-the-recovery/
[3] http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/13/expanding-a-safety-net-program/
[4] http://www.alternet.org/tags/redistribution-0
[5] http://www.alternet.org/tags/economy-0
[6] http://www.alternet.org/tags/poverty-0
[7] http://www.alternet.org/tags/low-wage-workers
[8] http://www.alternet.org/tags/earned-income-tax-credit
[9] http://www.alternet.org/%2Bnew_src%2B

 

Paul Crouch, Architect of Prosperity Gospel Televangelism, Dead at 79

by Sarah Posner, ReligionDispatches.com, December 1, 2013

Paul Crouch, the founder of Trinity Broadcasting Network and an architect of global prosperity gospel televangelism, died yesterday at the age of 79.

Crouch built the network from one station in the 1970s to a global empire featuring a 24-hour menu of health and wealth gospel, preying on the gullible to turn their money over to televangelists to receive God’s blessing.

The network has purchased property all over the world to spread its message to Christians and non-Christians alike. Last year, when the network acquired studio space in Jerusalem, Crouch said on his Behind the Scenes program, “the harvest is coming in so fast. People, the messianic congregations are growing like you can’t believe.” Crouch maintained the purchase was of a “prophetic” significance, claiming that it would reach both the Jewish and Arab residents of the city.

Crouch’s son Matthew, speaking from a Jersualem balcony with his father, added, “what is the message of the Gospel, if it isn’t for the Jew first?”

Best known for his controversially extravagant spending, with his wife and business partner Jan, Paul Crouch survived many a media exposé. He and his wife built their network, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, using tax-exempt donor funds, frequently, former insiders have charged, for their own enrichment.

In 2004, the conservative Christian financial watchdog Ministry Watch issued a scathing report on the network, charging that its “huge cash stockpile” should be spent on charitable works, rather than on the Crouches’ personal luxuries. That same year, the Los Angeles Times ran a damning three-part exposé of the family’s mansions, luxury cars, and private airplane. But perhaps the most damaging revelation was the claim by Crouch’s former chauffeur, Lonnie Ford, that Crouch had paid him $425,000 in hush money to keep silent, Ford claimed, about how he was forced to have sex with Crouch to keep his job. On the air, Crouch called the story a “pack of lies right out of the pit of hell.” Other prosperity televangelists closed ranks around Crouch; the enemy, after all, was the secular media.

More recently, in 2012, Brittany Koper, the Crouches’ granddaughter and daughter of their son Paul, Jr., sued the network. She described to the New York Times “company-paid luxuries that she said appeared to violate the Internal Revenue Service’s ban on ‘excess compensation’ by nonprofit organizations as well as possibly state and federal laws on false bookkeeping and self-dealing.” The luxuries included a “former Conway Twitty estate in Tennessee, corporate jets valued at $8 million and $49 million each and thousand-dollar dinners with fine wines, paid with tax-exempt money.” The network has repeatedly denied Koper’s allegations, and has claimed it was Koper who stole money from the network.

Koper’s sister, Carra Crouch, also sued the network, claiming her family covered up her rape by a TBN employee when she was 13 years old.

The Orange County Register reported last year that Koper’s husband, Michael, filed documents in her lawsuit alleging that Jan and her son Matthew were celebrating that the elder Crouch—thought then to be on his deathbed—had signed a letter leaving them, not Paul Jr., in charge of the network.

The Register, which closely follows the lawsuit against the network based in Santa Ana, also reported that Paul and Matthew Crouch suggested that God might punish TBN’s adversaries with death. “God help anyone who would try to get in the way of TBN, which was God’s plan,” Crouch said. “I have attended the funeral of at least two people who tried.”

Frequently overlooked amid the Crouches’ family feuds, financial and sexual scandals, prosperity preaching, faith healing claims, revelation, prophecy, and apocalyptic outlook was the role Crouch played in the development of Republican evangelical outreach in presidential campaigns. The Times obituary today notes that Crouch interviewed Rick Santorum last year; that’s a tradition, though, that dates back to the George H.W. Bush era, when Bush’s evangelical outreach guru Doug Wead brokered an interview for the Yankee Episcopalian to reach TBN’s audience.

Wead, who developed an extensive list of influential evangelicals with whom he wanted 1988 Bush presidential primary campaign to connect, had first-hand knowledge of the Crouches’ world. Yet he recognized the potential downside of Bush being seen with Crouch, whom he described as an “exaggeration of the most bizarre manifestation of the peculiar evangelical subculture.” He advised the vice-president not to appear for a televised interview with Crouch. But he staged such an interview himself, using the tagline “correspondent Doug Wead,” coaxing Bush to exhibit his faith in Jesus Christ for the TBN audience.

When George W. Bush first ran for president in 2000, Wead helped push for Crouch’s support without Bush appearing on the network. John McCain, however, had no such luck: he submitted to a 2007 interview with Crouch’s son, Paul, Jr.

To outsiders, the Crouches are comical, Elmer Gantry-esque caricatures of themselves, he with his prophecies and flamboyant fawning over the televangelists he helped turn into stars, she with her pink hair piled high on her head, garish make-up, high-pitched voice, and gaudy clothes. But as Wead recognized, they have an audience (one worth cultivating for votes, at least), in a subculture not only unfamiliar but probably outright incredible to many Americans.

When I was writing my book, I attended one of those notorious TBN “Praise-A-Thons” at the network’s suburban Atlanta studio. (For more on what happened that night, see this post on prosperity gospel and foreclosure.) The studio audience is nothing more than a prop. While the audience is asked to deliver money to an altar ready-made for the cameras, the real money comes pouring in from those at home.

The people in the studio audience, some bussed there in church vans, are true believers. They were willing to stay in their seats during crucial camera pans so television viewers could feel the anointing, too. They spoke in tongues and were slain in the spirit, but not too much if it wouldn’t play well on TV. The sad genius of it all was the orchestration to make the audience feel like a crucial part of something huge, something God wanted, something that God was going to bless many times over with miraculous riches and good health.

Jan Crouch was there, without Paul. The audience heard of her healing from colon cancer, “no radiation, no chemo, just Jesus!” she exclaimed.

After the healing story, Jan Crouch really got down to business. “The gift of the anointing for prosperity is flowing on this Praise-a-thon,” she said. The Praise-a-thon (which raises millions for the network that even conservative Christian critics charge lacks transparency and accountability) “is not about TBN,” said Crouch. “It’s about you.”

Paul Crouch managed to survive scandal after scandal, even those that tore apart his own family. For his supporters, he was a prophet, or at least a lucrative patron and ally. For anyone shocked by the excesses and abuses of prosperity preaching and exploitation of tax-exempt status, though, Crouch was a heretic and a charlatan. For both, his imprint will long survive him: he leaves not only a legacy of scandal, but a legacy of forever altering the landscape of American and global Christianity.

http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/sarahposner/7422/paul_crouch__architect_of_prosperity_gospel_televangelism__dead_at_79

Look at the Stats — America Resembles a Broken Banana Republic

 by CJ Werleman, AlterNet, December 9, 2013

Last week, President Obama gave one of the most important speeches of his presidency when he spoke about the rapidly growing deficit of opportunity in this country. It was the president’s most focused and deliberate address on income inequality to date, but for many it wasn’t nearly alarmist enough, for it didn’t recognize how far this nation has fallen. It’s time we call it what it is: we’ve become a third-world nation.

America has become a RINO: rich in name only. By every measure, we look like a broken banana republic. Not a single U.S. city is included in the world’s top 10 most livable cities. Only one U.S. airport makes the list of the top 100 in the world. Our roads, schools and bridges are falling apart, and our trains—none of them high-speed—are running off their tracks. Our high school students are rated 30th in math, and some 30 countries have longer life expectancy and lower rates of infant mortality. The only things America is number one in these days are the number of incarcerated citizens per capita and adult onset diabetes.

Three decades of trickledown economics; the monopolization, privatization and deregulation of industry; and the destruction of labor protection has resulted in 50 million Americans living in abject poverty, while 400 individuals own more than one-half of the nation’s wealth. As the four Walmart heirs enjoy a higher net worth than the bottom 40 percent, our nation’s sense of food insecurity is more on par with developing countries like Indonesia and Tanzania than with OECD nations like Australia and Canada. In fact, the percentage of Americans who say they could not afford the food needed to feed their families at some point in the last year is three times that of Germany, more than twice than Italy and Canada.

The destruction of labor has been so comprehensive that first-world nations now offshore their jobs to the U.S. In other words, we’ve become the new India. Foreign companies now see us as the world’s cheap labor force, and we have the non-unionized South to thank for that. Chuck Thompson, author of Better off Without Em, writes, “Like Mexico, the South has spent the past four decades systematically siphoning auto jobs from Michigan and the Midwest by keeping worker’s salaries low and inhibiting their right to organize by rendering their unions toothless.” Average wages for autoworkers in the South are up to 30 percent lower than in Michigan.

In Sweden, the minimum wage is $19 per hour and workers enjoy a minimum of five weeks paid vacation every year. In the U.S. the minimum wage is a tick above $7 per hour and workers can expect no more than 12 days of annual vacation. So guess what? IKEA has set up a factory in Virginia. Volkswagen has set up in Tennessee, and the likes of Hyundai, KIA, BMW, Honda, and Toyota have all set up in the South to take advantage of the world’s latest cheap labor source. Moreover, the profits of these foreign companies goes toward stimulating their economies instead of ours.

So, it’s amusing when Republicans blame Detroit’s bankruptcy on liberal policies because nothing could be further from the truth. Detroit is bankrupt thanks to the Republican business model that has turned the entire South into a third-world banana republic. A business model that the rest of the country is forced to compete with i.e. lower wages, low corporate tax rates, low property taxes, and low environmental and labor protection, which results in a migration of industry and jobs from the northern states, which means a shrinking of the tax revenue base in cities like Detroit. Since 2000, the population of Detroit has fallen 20% and property tax revenue has plummeted 26%. Take this as an illustration of how we are in a never-ending death spiral race to the bottom.

Obama’s speech clearly depicted an America losing touch with its ideals. Not only is the middle-class fast becoming the working poor, but upward mobility is becoming almost impossible to attain. At a time when America should be investing in its own future, it is dealing with a sequestration that was never meant to have happened. It happened because the GOP congress would rather destroy the economy than see a black president succeed. Also, raising revenues runs against the GOP’s fundamental pro-corporate strategy of “starving the beast” i.e. starving the federal government of the revenues it needs so it can use deficits as an excuse to cut programs like Social Security and Medicare and replace them with for-profit alternatives.

Mattea Kramer and Jo Comerford of the National Priorities Project [3] write:

“Robust public investment had been a key to US prosperity in the previous century. It was then considered a basic part of the social contract as well as of Economics 101. As just about everyone knew in those days, citizens paid taxes to fund worthy initiatives that the private sector wouldn’t adequately or efficiently supply. Roadways and scientific research were examples. In the post–World War II years, the country invested great sums of money in its interstate highways and what were widely considered the best education systems in the world, while research in well-funded government labs led to inventions like the Internet. The resulting world-class infrastructure, educated workforce, and technological revolution fed a robust private sector.”

America is in urgent need of significant investment. We need to, as Obama said, “not be stuck in a stale debate from two years ago or three years ago. A relentlessly growing deficit of opportunity is a bigger threat to our future than our rapidly shrinking fiscal deficit.”

That’s one part of the solution. The other part is a rejection of the Republican Party business model. A higher minimum wage; higher taxes on corporations and the rich; and a greater percentage of the labor force protected by collective bargaining will help restore the America whose middle-class was once the envy of the world, and whose people were among the happiest and healthiest on the planet.

See more stories tagged with:

wealth [4]


Source URL: http://www.alternet.org/economy/america-rich-name-only-look-stats-we-resemble-broken-banana-state

Links:
[1] http://alternet.org
[2] http://www.alternet.org/authors/cj-werleman
[3] http://nationalpriorities.org/
[4] http://www.alternet.org/tags/wealth
[5] http://www.alternet.org/%2Bnew_src%2B

 

Connect the dots to find the story of America today

Titles of articles that give clues to the reality of American democracy today
10 Great Things About America That Drive Conservatives and the Religious Right Insane
10 Steps to Repair American Democracy
10 Ways Our Democracy Is Crumbling Around Us
10 Years After the Invasion: America Destroyed Iraq But Our War Crimes Remain Unacknowledged and Unpunished
11 Most Absurd Lies Conservatives Are Using to Brainwash America’s School Kids
12 Biggest Right-Wing Lies About America
13 Benghazis That Occurred on Bush’s Watch Without a Peep from Fox News
14 Propaganda Techniques Fox “News” Uses to Brainwash Americans
23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism: Item #1 — There’s No Such Thing as a Free Market
37 Percent of People Don’t Have a Clue About What’s Going on
4 Propaganda Techniques Fox “News” Uses to Brainwash Americans
40 years after Watergate, Nixon was far worse than we thought By Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward
46 Million Americans Live in Poverty — So Why Isn’t Anybody Saying the P Word?
5 Founding Fathers Whose Skepticism About Christianity Would Make Them Unelectable Today
5 Things Unions Have Done for You By Zaid Jilani
5 Ways GOP Tried to Subvert Democracy in 2012 — And They’ll Try Again
5 Ways That Raw, Unregulated Capitalism Is Acting Like a Cancer on American Society
5 Ways to Achieve World Peace and Prosperity — Yes, It’s Possible
6 Facts About Hunger That Demonstrate the Shameful Excesses of American Capitalism
6 Right-Wing Zealots and the Crazy Ideas Behind the Most Outrageous Republican Platform Ever
6 Ways the Rich Are Waging a Class War Against the American People 
60 Years of American Economic History, Told in 1 Graph
65 Years of Tax Cuts for the Wealthy Created Record ‘Inequality’ Not ‘Prosperity,’
7 Institutions That Have Grown So Monstrously Big They Threaten to Destroy America
7 Things Fox View­ers Are Wildly Mis­in­formed About 
8 Shocking Ways America Leads the World 
80-year study: Democrats better at economics
9 Ways the Right’s Ayn Randian Experiment Screws Over the Young
97% Global Warming Consensus Meets Resistance from Scientific Denialism
A Bitter, Losing Fight Against the Power of Money
A Crisis from the Top: The Unwisdom of Elites 
A Global Convergence of Social Movements
A New Religious America — How a “Christian Country” Has Become the World’s Most Religiously Diverse Nation Why Is the Conservative Brain More Fearful? 
A Society with Poor Critical Thinking Skills: The Case for ‘Argument’ in Education 
A Warmer World and Weather Gone Wild: The Most Important Story of Our Lives
Abandoned O.J. Project Shows Shame Still Packs a Punishing Punch
Add It Up: The Average American Family Pays $6,000 a Year in Subsidies to Big Business
Alan Simpson Slams Fellow Republicans For Unwillingness To Compromise,
ALEC: Facilitating Corporate Influence Behind Closed Doors
America Does Not Have a Religious Identity
America Has Woken Up to the Reality: Inequality Matters
America Is Far from #1
America is not and its Christians should not want it to be a Christian Nation
America without a middle class
America’s Duopoly of Money in Politics and Manipulation of Public Opinion
America’s Ku Klux Klan Mentality By Lawrence Davidson
America’s Sell Out Intellectuals and the Perks They Get
America’s Tragic Decline 
America’s Unlevel Field 
America’s White Male Problem
American Intellectuals’ Widespread Failure to Stand Up to Billionaires and Authoritarian Power
American Right-Wingers Are No Longer Conservative — They’re Extremists
Americans Don’t Realize Just How Badly We’re Getting Screwed by the Top 0.1 Percent Hoarding the Country’s Wealth
America’s Greatest Shame: Child Poverty Rises and Food Stamps Cut While Billionaires Boom  
Anger Can Be Power
Antigovernment ‘Patriot’ Movement Expands for the Fourth Year in a Row
Apocalyptic Christian Theology’s Role in Gov Shutdown
Are Conservatives Rethinking Fox News’ Endless Outrage Model?
Are Humans Hard-Wired for Racial Prejudice?
Are Republicans Committing Treason? 
Are Republicans Social Darwinists?
Are the Bible Thumpers Losing Their Grip on Our Politics?
Are There Still Enough Value Voters to Turn American Red?
Are We Being Ruled by Self-Centered Jerks? What New Studies Reveals About the Ultra Wealthy
Attacking unions: It’s not about the money, it’s about power
Ayn Rand’s Gospel of Selfishness and Billionaire Empowerment Is Plaguing America
Believers Beyond the Church: How the ‘Spiritual Not Religious’ Gospel Has Spread
Biblical Capitalism — The Religious Right’s War on Progressive Economic Policy 
Big Change Whether We Like It or Not, Only Washington Is Clueless 
Big Lie: America Doesn’t Have #1 Richest Middle-Class in the World…We’re Ranked 27th!
Big Media Is Raking in Billions on Political Ads — Here’s a Way to Take Back the Airwaves That Belong to All of Us 
Billionaire Koch Brothers Spending Millions To Deny Health Coverage To Low-Income Americans
Billionaires Against Social Security
Billionaires Unchained: The New Pay-As-You-Go Landscape of American “Democracy”
Bitter Tales from the Massive White Underclass
Born on Third Base’: How the Wealthy Inherit the Earth by Common Dreams staff
Bush-Era Tax Cuts Projected As Largest Contributor To Public Debt [CHART]
Bye, Bye American Dream! U.S. Economic Inequality Is Permanent, Study Finds
Can National Grassroots Push Depose the ‘Billion Dollar Democracy’?
CEO Council Demands Cuts To Poor, Elderly While Reaping Billions In Government Contracts, Tax Breaks
CEOs average $12.3 million in 2012, 354 times the average worker
CEO-To-Worker Pay Ratio Ballooned 1,000 Percent Since 1950
Change Agent Karen Arm­strong argues for prac­ti­cal com­pas­sion
Chris Hayes: Bring on the upper-middle-class revolution!
Chris Hayes: Why America’s Meritocracy Is Just a Myth By Joshua Holland
Christian Right Failed to Sway Voters on Issues
Climate Skeptics” More Likely to Embrace “Free Market” Ideology, Conspiracy Theories
Congress gives out end-of-year perks to interest groups
Conscious evolution for thinking people
Conservative Bullying Has Made America Into a Broken, Dysfunctional Family: But There Are Ways to Regain Our Well-Being
Conservative Bullying Has Made America Into a Broken, Dysfunctional Family: But There Are Ways to Regain Our Well-Being
Conservative Christianity’s Marketing Gimmick to Keep Its Old-Time, Heaven-and-Hell Religion Afloat By Valerie Tarico
Conservative Fantasies About the Miracles of the Market
Conservative Southern Values Revived: How a Brutal Strain of American Aristocrats Have Come to Rule America By Sara Robinson
Conservatives Want America to be a “Christian Nation” — Here’s What Would That Would Actually Look Like
Conservatives With a Cause: ‘We’re Right’
Conspiracy Theories Explain the Right
Constitution is inherently progressive 
Corporate America, meet ‘Generation C’ by Brian Solis
Corporate Elites Are Witnessing a Growing Wave of Resistance to the ‘Walmartization’ of Our Economy 
Corporate Espionage and the Secret War Against Citizen Activism
Corporations Profit From Permanent War: 
Crimes Against Nature by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Crimes Against the Soul of America by Caroline Myss
Crony cap­i­tal­ism David Stock­man
Crumbling American Dreams
Cuz the Bible Tells Me So
Cynicism Is Corporate America’s Greatest Weapon. Disarm It. 
Dark Ages Redux: American Politics and the End of the Enlightenment
DC Beltway Is America’s Wealthiest, Brainiest, Most Insular Region
Debate Over Mother Earth’s ‘Rights’ Stirs Fears of Pagan Socialism
Deciphering Right-Wing Code: What Conservatives Are Really Saying When They Seem to Spew Nonsense 
Deconstructing a Demagogue [Newt Gingrich]
Deep Philosophical Divide Underlies the Impasse
Democracy in America Is a Series of Narrow Escapes, and We May Be Running Out of Luck 
Democ­racy Should Be a Brake on Unbri­dled Greed and Power
Did the Dalai Lama Just Call for an End to Religion?
Disrespect, Race and Obama
Does God Want You To Be Rich?
Don’t Wait for the Revolution — ‘Be the Change’ and Live It
Earth Facing Imminent Environmental ‘Tipping Point’ by Common Dreams staff
Engineered Inequality
Ethical Businesses With a Better Bottom Line 
Even Right-Wingers Become Liberals When They Turn Off Fox News
Fascist America: Have We Finally Turned The Corner? 
Fear of a Black President By Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic
Five Lessons in Human Goodness From “The Hunger Games”
Five myths about Ronald Reagan’s legacy
Five Ugly Extremes of Inequality in America– The Contrasts Will Drop Your Chin to the Floor
Five Ways Privatization Degrades America 
Fix the Debt’: How 1%ers Build a Mass Movement for Millionaires  
Fox’s Unbalanced Ethics Threatens Democracy by Wendell Potter
Free Trade” Was Never Really About Trade
Free­dom of and From Reli­gion 
G.O.P. Extremists Defy Description
G.O.P. Shift Moves Center Far to Right
Gar Alperovitz’s Green Party Keynote: We Are Laying Groundwork for the “Next Great Revolution” By Amy Goodman
Get Apocalyptic — The Case for the New Radical 
Global Austerity ‘An Unethical Experimentation On Human Beings’ — Paul Krugman
Global economic crisis also values crisis 
Global Warming Systemically Caused Hurricane Sandy
God and His Demons — Taking on the Religious Right  Right-Wing Religion’s War on America 
God Favors Supply-Side Economics
Good Consumers, Bad Citizens
Good Without God: Why “Non-Religious” Is the Fastest-Growing Preference in America
Grayson blames shutdown on GOP literally drinking on the job
Group Challenges Corporate Power, Government Secrecy With Crowd-Funded Transparency
Grover Norquist – Romney Will Do As He’s Told
Grover Norquist, Enemy of the State?
Guess What? Fewer Americans Call Themselves Economic Conservatives
Guilty of Sedition? How the Right Is Undermining Our Government’s Authority and Capability to Run the Country
Half Of American Households Hold 1 Percent Of Wealth by Dan Froomkin
Happiness and Well-Being are NOT the same thing… huge implications for public policy!
Happiness Comes From Respect, Not Riches
Has America’s Stolen Election Process Finally Hit Prime Time?
Has the 1 Percent Committed Treason?
Has the G.O.P. Gone Off the Deep End?
Have They No Shame?
Healing the Heart of Democracy by Parker Palmer, Book Review by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat ‚ 2011
Here Are The 144 Republicans Who Voted To Send The U.S. Into Default
History of gun-control legislation
Holy Book Learning — Americans are shockingly illiterate when it comes to religions
House Republicans Changed The Rules So A Majority Vote Couldn’t Stop The Government Shutdown 
How a Shadowy Network of Corporate Front Groups Distorts the Marketplace of Ideas
How America’s Demented Politics Let the GOP Off the Hook for Their Giant Mess
How American Society Unravelled After Greedy Elites Robbed the Country Blind
How Anti-Intellectualism Is Destroy­ing Amer­ica
How Ayn Rand’s Bizarre Philosophy Made the New Right so Toxic 
How Big Business Subverts Democracy 
How Big Money Bought Our Democracy, Corrupted Both Parties, and Set Us Up for Another Financial Crisis 
How Bush Gets Away With It 
How Christian Delusions Are Driving the GOP Insane
How Climate Change Is an Historic Opportunity for Progressives
How Conservative Radio Creates an Echo Chamber of Hate
How Cor­po­rate Per­son­hood Threat­ens Democ­racy
How Corporations Are Subverting Attempts to Rein in Their Power
How corporations became ‘persons’
How Did Conservatives Convince the Public to Think Differently About Government? 
How Former Very Influential Revolving-Door Senators Give Corporate Propaganda Extraordinary Clout 
How Frank Luntz Is Killing the GOP
How Fundamentalist Religion Is Destroying the World
How Humans Became Moral Beings
How Humans Became Moral Beings By Megan Gambino
How Inbred Elites Are Tearing America Apart
How Money Worries Can Scramble Your Thinking
How Obama’s Election Drove the American Right Insane
How Party of Budget Restraint Shifted to ‘No New Taxes,’ Ever  
How Patriarchal, Christian Backlash Politics Have Only Become More Vicious
How Privatizing Government Shovels Cash to Parasitic Corporations and Undermines Democracy 
How Propagandists for the 1% Are Manipulating Christian Teachings to Rob the Middle Class
How Religion’s Demand for Obedience Keeps Us in the Dark Ages 
How Right-Wing Conspiracy Theories May Pose a Genuine Threat to Humanity 
How Storytelling Is at the Heart of Making Social Change
How Talk Radio and Fox News Brainwashed My Dad
How the Billionaires Class Is Destroying Democracy 
How the Common Good Is Transforming Our World
How the Conservative Worldview Quashes Critical Thinking — and What That Means For Our Kids’ Future 
How the Fundamentalist Mind Compels Conservative Christians to Force Their Beliefs on You
How the G.O.P. Became the Anti-Urban Party
How the GOP Became the Party of the Rich
How the Gun Industry Made a Fortune Stoking Fears That Obama Would Take People’s Guns & Ammo Away
How the Legal System Was Deep-Sixed to Serve Elite America and Occupy Wall Street Became Inevitable
How the Mainstream Press Bungled the Single Biggest Story of the 2012 Campaign 
How the Media and the Elites, Not the Voters, Move the Country to the Right
How the Religious Right Is Fueling Climate Change Denial
How the Right Has Turned Everything Into a Culture War — And Why That’s Terrible for Our Democracy
How the Right Has Twisted the 2nd Amendment
How the Right-Wing Brain Works and What That Means for Progressives
How the Unholy Alliance Between the Christian Right and Wall Street Is ‘Crucifying America’
How the US Press Lost its Way
How the Wealthy Wage War on Democracy Itself
How You Will Change the World with Social Networking
How You Will Change the World with Social Networking
Humanity Imperiled — The Path to Disaster
Humanity Must Stabilize Population, Consumption or Face ‘Downward Vortex’ of ‘Ills’
Idealism, Conscience And The Spiritual Left by William Horden
Ignore the Spin: This Debt Ceiling Crisis is Not Politics as Usual
Imagine If America Had Adopted Martin Luther King’s Economic Dream
In America Today, Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower Would Be Bernie Sanders in the U.S. Senate
In Obama’s inauguration speech, a new American religion
In Public ‘Conversation’ on Guns, a Rhetorical Shift
Inequality Rages as Dwindling Wages Lock Millions in Poverty 
Inside Groundswell: Read the Memos of the New Right-Wing Strategy Group Planning a “30 Front War”
Inside the Fox News lie machine: I fact-checked Sean Hannity on Obamacare
Inside the plan to steal the election By Steven Rosenfeld, Alternet.org
Introduction to Community Organizing: Choosing an Issue
Iraq War Cost U.S. More Than $2 Trillion, Could Grow to $6 Trillion,
Iraq war costs U.S. more than $2 trillion:
Is Karl Rove Losing It?
Is There a Revolution Coming? Americans Finally Realize Global Capitalism Is a Murderous Sham
Is This Election A War For America’s Soul?
It’s even worse than it looks
It’s Time to Fight the Status Quo by Bill McKibben
It’s Important to Know How the Stories We Tell Ourselves — True, or Not– Shape our World… for Better or Worse 
Jesus Hates Taxes: Biblical Capitalism Created Fertile Anti-Union Soil 
Justice Ginsburg Slams Supreme Court’s ‘Hubris’ In Fiery Dissent On Voting Rights Act
Large Portion Of GOP Thinks Obama Is Racist, Socialist, Non-U.S. Citizen: Poll
Lee Atwater’s Infamous 1981 Interview on the Southern Strategy
Lest We Forget: Why We Had A Financial Crisis
Let There Be Markets: The Evangelical Roots of Economics
Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem. by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein
LGBT Advocates Need Public Progressive Faith 
Liberals Call for Spiritual Values in Public Policy,
Libertarians in 2013: The Even Whiter, Wealthier, WASPier Bastion of Republican Party
Life Among the Plutocrats — What Unimaginable Wealth Does to a Person
Mahatma Gandhi’s famous statement on the nature of God
Make climate change a priority
Mankind: Death by Corporation
Many Faiths, One Truth
Mass Bible-Based Sexual Dysfunction as Root of Culture Wars?
Meet Mr. Republican: Jack Abramoff 
Meet the Elite Business and Think-Tank Community That’s Doing Its Best to Control the World
Meet the Evangelical Cabal Orchestrating the Shutdown
Meet The Radical Republicans Chairing Important House Committees 
Messing With Our Minds: The Ever Finer Line Between News and Advertising
Messing With Texas Textbooks 
Michael Needham: The Strategist Behind the Shutdown
Mike Huckabee Says He Wants Americans To Be Indoctrinated At Gunpoint 
Millennials to business: Social responsibility isn’t optional
Mitt Romney Blurts Out the Truth About Neo-Conservatism
Mocking the Right’s ‘Free Market’ Agenda Is Almost Too Easy — A Real Problem Is That the Dems Don’t Challenge It By Elizabeth DiNovella and Thomas Frank
Modern GOP is still the party of Dixie 
Money Unlimited 
Most American Voters Elected a Democratic House, But We Got a Tea Party Congress
Move Over, Koch Brothers: A Bigger, Darker Rightwing Funder Is Out to Destroy Public Education
Movements Without Leaders — What to Make of Change on an Overheating Planet
Murder, Suicide and Financial Ruin: How the Class War Is Destroying Americans’ Lives 
New Report Reveals Relationship Between Rapid Growth of the Financial Sector and the Weak Real Economy 
New Rules for Radicals: 10 Ways To Spark Change in a Post-Occupy World 
Nine Ways Our World Changed During the ‘00s
No Longer a Party of Lincoln: The Racial Politics of the New GOP
No Wonder So Many Are Disillusioned by Our Politics — We’ve Got an 18th Century Political System
Noam Chomsky on the Shredding of Our Fundamental Rights and the Common Good
Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann Explain Why Congress is Failing Us
Norquist still calling cadence in GOP ranks
Numbers, Analysis Show 30 Years of Failed US Economic Policy
Obama Says Faith Shouldn’t Be Used to Divide
Obama won but he still has to contend with millions of Americans who are taught to hate their own government
Obama: A pragmatic moderate faces the ‘socialist’ smear by Norman J. Ornstein
Obama’s ‘God talk’ was highlight of his convention acceptance speech
Obstruct and Exploit by Paul Krugman
Of Course Michele Bachmann Believes the End Times Are Here
Old vs. Young By David Leonhardt
On the Sabotage of Democracy by Bill Moyers
One Nation, Under Arms 
One Staggering Chart Shows How Incomes In Washington DC Have Left The Rest Of The Country In The Dust 
Our ‘Government of Laws’ Is Now Above the Law
Our Broken Social Contract 
Our Democracy Is at Stake
Our Dumb Democracy: Why the Untied States of Stupid Still Reins Supreem
Our Dumb Democracy: Why the Untied States of Stupid Still Reins Supreem b
Over-Consumption’ Threatening Earth
Party of No: How Republicans and the Right Have Tried to Thwart All Social Progress
Paul Ryan’s Biggest Influence: 10 Things You Should Know About the Lunatic Ayn Rand
Perpetual Growth Myth’ Leading World to Meltdown 
Philosophic Clash Over Government’s Role Highlights Parties’ Divide By Peter Baker
Plutocrats Feeling Persecuted
Plutonomy and the Precariat  On the History of the U.S. Economy in Decline 
Political dysfunction spells trouble for democracies
Politicians Massively Overestimate Conservatism Of Constituents: Study
Politics is the great divider in United States by Dan Balz
Poll Conducted for Aspen Ideas Festival Shows ‘American Dream’ Unreachable for Most Americans 2006
Pope Francis ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ Calls For Renewal Of Roman Catholic Church, Attacks ‘Idolatry Of Money’
Pope Slams Capitalism, Inequality Between Rich And Poor In New Years Message
Popular Resistance Is Percolating Across the Country — Inspiring Activism That the Corporate Media Always Ignores
Poverty strains cognitive abilities, opening door for bad decision-making, new study finds
Power Shift: How the Youth Climate Movement is Changing the Game
Pro-Capitalist, Anti-Government Extremists
Profits of World’s 100 Wealthiest Could End Poverty Four Times Over: Report
Progressive Activism Is Bubbling Up Across the Country -
Prophetic Politics: Charting A Healthy Role For Religion In Public Life
Pundits and politicians contend for the soul of the Republican party
Racism and Cruelty Drive GOP Health Care Agenda
Raising The Minimum Wage Is A Political Goldmine
Real moral values — Articulating a liberal religious moral vision
Reclaiming Our Imaginations from ‘There Is No Alternative’
Reconstructing America’s Economic System Is Within Reach
Redistributing Wealth To The Rich.
Redistributing wealth upward by Harold Meyerson
Religious extremism and the Republican Party
Religious Freedom” and the Conservative Quest for Absolute Truth
Religious progressives hold stronger appeal among Millennials
Religious Right’s Ralph Reed Field-Tests Plan for Beating Obama
Religious Right’s Ralph Reed Field-Tests Plan for Beating Obama By Adele M. Stan
Report Argues U.S. Is Neglecting, Undervaluing Education in the Humanities
Republican Deficit-Hawk Hypocrites by Sen. Bernie Sanders
Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party
Republican members of the House of Representatives leading the right wing extremist movement
Republicanity’—The GOP Trans­for­ma­tion is Nearly Com­plete 
Republicans and the Gun Lobby — Editorial,
Republicans Lied To by ‘Conservative Entertainment Complex’
Republicans Tell Iowa Homeschoolers Education Not Government’s Role
Restore the Basic Bargain
Reweaving the Fabric of our Society 
Rich People Just Care Less
Right-wing Populism Could Hobble America for Decades
Right-Wing Racism: Past, Present—and Future
Right-Wing Religion’s War on Amer­ica
Rise of the Religious Left
Robert Gates on the GOP’s Breakdown and Failure at “The Basic Functions of Government” By Steve Benen
Romney’s Neocon Foreign Policy Written by Those Who Ignored al Qaeda Threat
Ron Paul’s Farewell Speech in Congress Lays Bare His Hatred for “Pure Democracy,” and Love of Oligarchy
Rove Rides Again Bush’s former strategist is secretly seizing control of the GOP – and amassing $135 million to destroy the Democrats 
Rush Limbaugh’s Reputation as King of Right-Wing AM Radio Has Come Crashing Down, 
Salons: A New Intellectual Culture is Taking Shape Throughout the Country
Saying Goodbye to Compassionate Conservatism
Scary: People Who Watch and Trust Fox News Will Surprise You
Scientists find visions of a benevolent future society motivate reform 
Screw Positive Thinking! Why Our Quest for Happiness Is Making Us Miserable
Secrets of the Tea Party: The Troubling History of Tea Party Leader Dick Armey 
Shameless GOP Lies: Is There Any Limit to What Republicans Will Say — And What People Will Believe? 
Shocking New Evidence Reveals Depths of ‘Treason’ and ‘Treachery’ of Watergate and Iran-Contra
Six Reasons We Can’t Change the Future Without Progressive Religion
Socialism? The Rich Are Winning the US Class War: Facts Show Rich Getting Richer, Everyone Else Poorer 
Some People Are Making Big Bucks Sabotaging Obamacare
Speaking Out Is at the Heart of Being a Citizen
Staunch Group of Republicans Outflanks House Leaders 
Still United: Ninety per cent of Americans still believe in hard work and the American Dream
Tea Party Movement Returns Christian Right to Its Racist Past
Teach­ing Peo­ple to Hate Their Own Govt. Is at the Core of the Project to Destroy the Mid­dle Class 
Ted Cruz returns to Texas as a hero who is reshaping the state Republican Party
Ted Cruz’s Father Suggested His Son Is ‘Anointed’ to Bring About ‘End Time Transfer of Wealth’
Tentacles of rage: the Republican propaganda mill, a brief history
Texas Republicans express ‘regret’ for officially opposing critical thinking skills
The ‘Hubris’ of the Supreme Court’s Voting Rights Ruling
The 1 percent played Tea Party for suckers 
The Abject Failure of Reaganomics
The achievement gap, by the numbers
The American Legislative Exchange Council Is Hard at Work Privatizing America, One Statehouse at a Time
The American Public’s Shocking Lack of Policy Knowledge is a Threat to Progress and Democracy
The Astonishing Collapse of Black and Latino Household Wealth
The Attack-Syria Coalition: Brought to You By the Same People Who Gave Us the Iraq Debacle
The Bible is a Good Book, But God Didn’t Write It, I
The Big Money Behind State Laws, Edi­to­r­ial,
The Big Picture: A 40-Year Scan of the Right-Wing Corporate Takeover of America
The Big The­o­ries Under­writ­ing Soci­ety Are Crash­ing All Around Us — Are You Ready for a New World? 
The Biggest “Takers” and Societal Parasites Are the Rich, Not the Working Class and Poor
The Biggest Engine of Economic Growth? 8 Ways Taxpayers and the Government Are Necessary to Capitalism
The Biggest Idea in Obama’s Speech: A Common Good
The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party 
The Billionaires’ War Against Public Education 
The Business of America Is War
The Campaign to Privatize the World 
The Charter for Compassion
The Christian Fascists Are Growing Stronger
The Collapse of Journalism, and the Journalism of Collapse
The Commons Moment is Now — How a small, dedicated group of people can transform the world—really
The conservative grip on power By Linda Hirshman
The Conservative Psyche: How Ordinary People Come to Embrace the Cruelty of Paul Ryan and Other Right-Wingers
The Constitution is inherently progressive by John Podesta and John Halpin
The Constitution, the Bible and the Fundamentalist-Modernist Divide
The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic
The Corporate Bully Whose Front Groups, Willful Distortions and Hate-Mongering Has Poisoned U.S. Politics: Meet Richard Berman 
The Corrosion of America 
The Crisis of Civilization is an Unprecedented Opportunity
The Deadly Secret About the Fiscal Cliff Charade
The Death of Honesty
The Death of Liberal Arts
The Death of Self-Interest Fundamentalism
The Debt Ceiling Crisis and Biblical Economics
The Decade of Lost Children by Charles M. Blow, 
The Decline of Critical Thinking, The Problem of Ignorance 
The Decline of Unions Is Your Problem Too 
The DeVos Family: Meet the Super-Wealthy Right-Wingers Working With the Religious Right to Kill Public Education 
The Distortion And Decline Of Christianity 
The Dumbest Idea in the World”: Corporate America’s False — and Dangerous — Ideology of Shareholder Value 
The Earth Is Full 
The Economic Elite Have Engineered an Extraordinary Coup, Threatening the Very Existence of the Middle Class, 
The Empathy Ceiling: The Rich Are Different — And Not In a Good Way, Studies Suggest
The End of Newspapers and the Decline of Democracy,
The End Times come to prime time
The Evangelical Rejection of Reason 
The Evils of Unregulated Capitalism 
The False Equation: Religion Equals Morality by Gwynne Dyer
The Fascinating History of How Corporations Became “People”
The Fascinating Scientific Reason Why “Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness”
The Fascinating Story of How Shameless Right-Wing Lies Came to Rule Our Politics
The Fate of Humanity Is at Stake
The Five Reasons Why Romney/Ryan Must be Defeated in 2012
The Four Plagues: New Strategies for Social Change Are Necessary
The GOP Crackup: How Obama is Unraveling Reagan Republicanism
The GOP’s Disgusting New Southern Strategy: Take the Vote Away from Blacks, Roll Back the Civil Rights Movement
The GOP’s Voter Suppression Strategy
The Gradual Selling of America the Beautiful
The Great Turning: The End of Empire and the Rise of Earth Community.
The humanities are just as important as STEM classes
The Idea That Brought Slav­ery to Its Knees 
The Implosion of Capitalism
The Long, Sordid History of the American Right and Racism
The Massive Republican Campaign to Sabotage the Affordable Care Act
The Middle Class Faces Extinction—So Does the American Dream
The mythology of the 1980s still defines our thinking on everything from militarism, to greed, to race relations
The New Know Nothing Party and the High Price of Willful Ignorance
The New Social Contract — and Why You’re Not Part of It
The Non Zero-Sum Society: How the Rich Are Destroying the US Economy
The NRA’s Wayne LaPierre Has Blood on His Hands
The Occupy Movement and the Politics of Educated Hope
The People Who Break the Rules Have Raked in Huge Profits and Wealth and It’s Sickening Our Politics
The Persistence of Racial Resentment
The Perversion of Scholarship by Chris Hedges, TruthDig,
The politics of hatred by Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite
The Politics of Lying and the Culture of Deceit in Obama’s America: The Rule of Damaged Politics
The Powell Memo and the Teaching Machines of Right-Wing Extremists by Henry A. Giroux
The Price of Inequality and the Myth of Opportunity 
The Privilege of Being Human: Ecological Crisis and the Need to Challenge the Twenty Percent
The Radical Christian Right and the War on Government
The Radicalization of the GOP is the Most Important Political Story Today
The real media bias is for the horse race by John Rash
The Real Numbers: Half of America in Poverty — and It’s Creeping toward 75%
The Relationship between Libertarians, the Tea Party and the Christian Right 
The religious left — An old tradition for a new day
The Reli­gious Right and The Repub­li­can Plat­form
The Republican Brain: Why Even Educated Conservatives Deny Science — and Reality
The Republicans’ War on the Poor
The Revolution of the Mind is Underway
The Rich Get Even Richer Expos­ing the Repub­li­cans’ 3-Part Strat­egy to Tear the Mid­dle Class Apart
The Richest 1% Have Captured America’s Wealth
The Right’s ‘School Choice’ Scheme
The Right’s Obamacare Rhetoric Is Completely Detached from Reality
The Right’s Stupidity Spreads, Enabled by a Too-Polite Left 
The Rise and Fall of the American Childhood By Colin Greer
The Rise of the New Confederacy: How America-Hating Right-Wingers Took Over the GOP 
The Rise of the Regressive Right and the Reawakening of America 
The Rove Presidency – Karl Rove’s Life and Political Career 
The Sad Race for Bottom on the Loony Right
The Science of Fox News: Why Its Viewers are the Most Misinformed B
The Self-Made Myth: Debunking Conservatives’ Favorite — And Most Dangerous — Fiction
The Sequester and the Tea Party Plot
The shutdown of good governance
The Sick Ayn Randian War Against Everyone Who Isn’t Rich
The Sick Social Darwinism Driving Modern Republicans by Robert Reich
The Siren Song Of War: Why Pundits Beat The Drums For Iraq
The Social Contract 
The Spiritual and Political Warfare of the New Religious Right
The Spiritual Crisis Underlying American Politics
The Strange Sexual Obsessions Driving the Tea Party Movement by David Rosen
The Surprising Brain Differences Between Democrats and Republicans
The Tea Party’s Real Constitutional Philosophy,
The tea party’s revolt against reality
The Ten Hardline Conservatives Pulling the Strings of the GOP Shutdown e d
The Theology of Government Shutdown: Christian Dominionism
The Tragic Story of Christianity: How a Pacifist Religion Was Hijacked by Rabid Warmongering Elites By Gary G. Kohls
The Truth About Religion in America: The Founders Loathed Superstition and We Were Never a Christian Nation
The Two Centers of Unaccountable Power in America, and Their Consequences
The U.S. Behaves Nothing Like a Democracy, But You’ll Never Hear About It in Our ‘Free Press’ 
The Uh-Ohs: A Decade of Conservative Failure by Terrance Heath
The Ungodly Constitution: How the Founders Ensured America Would Not Be a Christian Nation
The Violent Language of Right-Wing Pundits Poisons Our Democracy
The Virus of GOP Ignorance: Why Don’t Media Protect Us From the Lies Spewed in the Republican Primary?
The Wild Hypocrisy of America’s Con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­tians
The Will­ful Igno­rance That Has Dragged the US to the Brink ex
The World Grows More Com­plex
the World Has Divided into Rich and Poor as at No Time in History
There’s Still Hope for the Planet
This election is about core values
This is Not Fiscal Conservatism. It’s Just Politics
This is Your Story — The Progressive Story of America. Pass It On
Tim Wise on White Resentment in a Multiracial Society
Tom Foley’s passing recalls the bipartisan spirit of a bygone era
Tony Blair [and George Bush] should face trial over Iraq war, says Desmond Tutu
Toward a “Common Spirituality”: Scaffolding for Evolving Consciousness
Toward a “Common Spirituality”: Scaffolding for Evolving Consciousness ex
Trapped in a Web of Truth, Frank Luntz is Whining
Trickle-Down Cruelty and the Politics of Austerity ex
Turned off from politics? That’s exactly what the politicians want.
U.S. Inches Toward Goal of Energy Independence
U.S. Ranks at the Bottom of Child Well-Being
U.S. to Grow Grayer, More Diverse, Minorities Will Be Majority by 2042, Census Bureau Says By N.C. Aizenman
Understanding the Ideological Divide Between Liberals and Conservatives: Is it Possible for Us to Get Along? By Joshua Holland
Understanding the modern conservative movement
United States of Paranoia: How the FBI Spied and Lied So Conspiracy Theorists Would Sound Crazy,
Upworthy says we’ve been doing viral all wrong: serious stuff is more shareable than LOL cats
US Poverty Rate Reaching 50-Year High 
US Running on Myths, Lies, Deceptions and Distractions by John Atcheson
Us vs Them: A Simple Recipe to Prevent Strong Society from Forming By James Rohrer
Using History to Mold Ideas on the Right ex
Václav Havel: Democracy as Spiritual Discipline
Vision: As the American Capitalist Economy Craters, Promising Alternatives Emerge
Voter Suppression Is Treasonous by Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm
Voting Rights Under Attack as GOP Seeks to Overturn Historic Civil Rights Law
Wall Street CEOs are the ‘Faces of Class Warfare’ 
Wall Street Manipulates Deficit Angst with ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Fear
Wall Street, a Culture of Greed Won’t Let Go 
War Profiteers Make Millions At the Expense of the Public 
Was the 2004 Election Stolen? by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Washington Has Been Stopped in Its Tracks by Republican Tea Party Types, and It’s Destroying the Country
We Are in the Midst of Defeating the Largest Corporate Trade Agreement in History
We Can’t Give in to the Culture of Fear and Apathy — Channel Your Discontent into Positive Action
We Live in an Era of Zombie Politics
We May Be Witnessing the First Large Global Conflict Where People Are Aligned by Consciousness and Not Nation State or Religion
We Must Unleash Radical Thought: Harry Belafonte
We Need a Little Fear
We need a new Social Gospel: the moral imperative of collective bargaining
We’d All Be Much Wealthier If We Acted Like a Society
We’re No. 1(1)! 
We’re Not Broke — We’ve Been Robbed 
We’re Number 88! US Ranked Low on Global Peace Index — Common Dreams staff
We’re past due on handling the finances of war
Welcome to the Shari’ah Conspiracy Theory Industry
What Do We Mean By ‘Judeo-Christian’?
What Do We Really Know About Racial Inequality? Labor Markets, Politics, and the Historical Basis of Black Economic Fortunes 
What Happened to the Traditionally Conservative Republican Party?
What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets
What Watchdog? How the Financial Press Has Failed the American Public
What Would Machiavelli Do? The Big Lie Lives On 
When Election Regulators Are Mocked
When Facts Are Not Enough: Treat­ing Mass Psy­chosis
Where are the compassionate conservatives?
Where Do Anti-Government Ideas Come From? by Joe Brewer
Where The 99 Percent Get Their Power — Why is this protest spreading when others have fizzled?
White Democrats Lose More Ground in South
Who Are You Going To Believe: Karl Rove Or Your Lying Eyes?
Who Is The Smallest Government Spender Since Eisenhower? Would You Believe It’s Barack Obama?
Who Really Won the Election? Campaign Consultants
Who’s Afraid of Zinn’s Radical History? 
Why ‘Sci­en­tific Con­sen­sus’ Fails to Per­suade, 
Why America Can’t Pass Gun Control
Why Americans Can’t Vote
Why Americans Need Unions Now More Than Ever ex
Why are “Wedge Issues” Essential to Republican Rule? 
Why Are Americans So Easy to Manipulate and Control?
Why Are Believers Willfully Ignorant About Atheists?
Why Are So Many Christians So Un-Christian?
Why do smart peo­ple do stu­pid things?
Why don’t bad ideas ever die?
Why Don’t We Have a National Narrative of Empathy?
Why Elites Want to Mask the Suffering of Poor Whites
Why Few Americans View Climate Change as a Moral Problem 
Why fundamentalism will fail
Why Government Should Not Be Run Like A Business
Why Inequality Is Bad for the One Percent
Why Is Poverty, Inequality Growing? 
Why is the Charter for Compassion so Important?
Why Is the Conservative Brain More Fearful?
Why Is the Conservative Brain More Fearful? The Alternate Reality Right-Wingers Inhabit Is Terrifying 
Why Is There So Much God in Our Pol­i­tics? The Reli­gious Right’s Theo­cratic Plan for the 2012 Elec­tion
Why Is There So Much God in Our Politics? The Religious Right’s Theocratic Plan for the 2012 Election
Why It’s Okay to Criticize Fundamentalist Evangelicals by Tom Eggebeen
Why Life in America Can Literally Drive You Insane
Why our children’s future no longer looks so bright  ex
Why Our Elites Stink
Why Patriarchal Men Are Utterly Petrified of Birth Control — And Why We’ll Still Be Fighting About it 100 Years From Now
Why Progressives Can’t Ignore Religion by Mike Lux
Why Racist People Tend to Be Conservative
Why sane bargaining looks strange
Why Science Is Telling All of Us to Revolt and Change Our Lives Before We Destroy the Planet
Why Taxing the Rich is the Godly Thing
Why Teaching People to Think for Themselves Is Repugnant to Religious Zealots
Why the Christian Right Believes It Has Once-in-a-Decade Chance to Impose Its Radical Worldview on America 
Why the Government Shutdown Is Unbiblical 
Why the Great Religious Realignment is a Great Secular Opportunity
Why the Mainstream Media Are Clueless About the Religious Right
Why the Republican Party as We Know It Must Die
Why Ultra-Conservatives Like the Sequester
Why War Isn’t Inevitable: A Science Writer Studies the Secret to Peaceful Societies by Brad Jacobson
Why We Love Politics
Why We Must Reclaim The Bible From Fundamentalists
Why we must reject the dogma of religious truths
Why We Need New Ways of Thinking
Why Won’t The Press Police Radical Republicans?
Why You Need to Understand Political Psychology
Why You Should Care About the Psychology of Disgust
Why Young People Are Fleeing Conservative Evangelicalism
Will Glenn Beck’s Common Nonsense Change Our Nation
Will Republican Voters Believe Anything? The Right’s Hyperbolic, Dysfunctional World
Wisdom: The Forgotten Dimension?
With House Win, GOP Pushes Food-Stamp Cuts to the Far Right
With Millions in Assets And Hundreds of Attorneys, Christian Right Is Waging War on the Church-State Wall, 

Millennial Searchers

By EMILY ESFAHANI SMITH and JENNIFER L. AAKER, New York Times, November 30, 2013

FOR Viktor Frankl, the Holocaust survivor who wrote the best-selling book “Man’s Search for Meaning,” the call to answer life’s ultimate question came early. When he was a high school student, one of his science teachers declared to the class, “Life is nothing more than a combustion process, a process of oxidation.” But Frankl would have none of it. “Sir, if this is so,” he cried, jumping out of his chair, “then what can be the meaning of life?”

The teenage Frankl made this statement nearly a hundred years ago — but he had more in common with today’s young people than we might assume.

Today’s young adults born after 1980, known as Generation Y or the millennial generation, are the most educated generation in American history and, like the baby boomers, one of the largest. Yet since the Great Recession of 2008, they have been having a hard time. They are facing one of the worst job markets in decades. They are in debt. Many of them are unemployed. The income gap between old and young Americans is widening. To give you a sense of their lot, when you search “are millennials” in Google, the search options that come up include: “are millennials selfish,” “are millennials lazy,” and “are millennials narcissistic.”

Do we have a lost generation on our hands? In our classes, among our peers, and through our research, we are seeing that millennials are not so much a lost generation as a generation in flux. Chastened by these tough economic times, today’s young adults have been forced to rethink success so that it’s less about material prosperity and more about something else.

And what is that something else? Many researchers believe that millennials are focusing more on happiness than prior generations, and that the younger ones in that age cohort are doing so even more than the older ones who did not take the brunt of the recession. Rather than chasing the money, they appear to want a career that makes them happy — a job that combines the perks of Google with the flexibility of a start-up.

But a closer look at the data paints a slightly different picture. Millennials appear to be more interested in living lives defined by meaning than by what some would call happiness. They report being less focused on financial success than they are on making a difference. A 2011 report commissioned by the Career Advisory Board and conducted by Harris Interactive, found that the No. 1 factor that young adults ages 21 to 31 wanted in a successful career was a sense of meaning. Though their managers, according to the study, continue to think that millennials are primarily motivated by money, nearly three-quarters of the young adults surveyed said that “meaningful work was among the three most important factors defining career success.”

MEANING, of course, is a mercurial concept. But it’s one that social scientists have made real progress understanding and measuring in recent years. Social psychologists define meaning as a cognitive and emotional assessment of the degree to which we feel our lives have purpose, value and impact. In our joint research, we are looking closely at what the building blocks of a meaningful life are. Although meaning is subjective — signifying different things to different people — a defining feature is connection to something bigger than the self. People who lead meaningful lives feel connected to others, to work, to a life purpose, and to the world itself. There is no one meaning of life, but rather, many sources of meaning that we all experience day to day, moment to moment, in the form of these connections.

It’s also important to understand what meaning is not. Having a sense of meaning is not the same as feeling happy. In a new longitudinal study done by one of us, Jennifer L. Aaker, with Roy F. Baumeister, Kathleen D. Vohs and Emily N. Garbinsky, 397 Americans were followed over a monthlong period and asked the degree to which they considered their lives to be meaningful and happy, as well as beliefs and values they held, and what type of choices they had made in their lives.

It turns out that people can reliably assess the extent to which their lives have meaning, much in the same way that people can assess their degree of life satisfaction or happiness. Although a meaningful life and a happy life overlap in certain ways, they are ultimately quite different. Those who reported having a meaningful life saw themselves as more other-oriented — by being, more specifically, a “giver.” People who said that doing things for others was important to them reported having more meaning in their lives.

This was in stark contrast to those who reported having a happy life. Happiness was associated with being more self-oriented — by being a “taker.” People felt happy, in a superficial sense, when they got what they wanted, and not necessarily when they put others first, which can be stressful and requires sacrificing what you want for what others want. Having children, for instance, is associated with high meaning but lower happiness.

When individuals adopt what we call a meaning mind-set — that is, they seek connections, give to others, and orient themselves to a larger purpose — clear benefits can result, including improved psychological well-being, more creativity, and enhanced work performance. Workers who find their jobs meaningful are more engaged and less likely to leave their current positions.

Further, this mind-set affects what types of careers millennials search for. Today’s young adults are hoping to go into careers that make an enduring impact on others. Last spring, when the National Society of High School Scholars, a global honor society for high school students, asked more than 9,000 top students and recent graduates what they wanted to do with their lives, they found that these recession-era millennials favored careers in health care and government. Of the top 25 companies they wanted to pursue out of a list of more than 200, eight were in health care or at hospitals while six were in government or the military. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital came in as the No. 1 place these millennials wanted to work “The focus on helping others is what millennials are responding to,” James W. Lewis, the chief executive of the honor society, told Forbes.

Some studies have suggested that millennials are narcissistic and flaky in their professional and personal lives, and are more selfish than prior generations. But new data suggests that these negative trends are starting to reverse. In a study published this summer in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, the researchers Heejung Park, Jean M. Twenge and Patricia M. Greenfield looked at surveys that have, each year since the 1970s, tracked the attitudes of hundreds of thousands of 12th graders. Although concern for others had been decreasing among high school seniors and certain markers of materialism — like valuing expensive products such as cars — had been increasing for nearly four decades, these trends began to reverse after 2008. Whereas older millennials showed a concern for meaning, the younger millennials who came of age during the Great Recession started reporting more concern for others and less interest in material goods.

This data reflects a broader pattern. Between 1976 and 2010, high school seniors expressed more concern for others during times of economic hardship, and less concern for others during times of economic prosperity. During times of hardship, young people more frequently look outward to others and the world at large.

Of course, nobody likes living through tough economic times — and the millennials have been dealt a tough hand. But at the same time, there are certain benefits to economic deprivation. Millennials have been forced to reconsider what a successful life constitutes. By focusing on making a positive difference in the lives of others, rather than on more materialistic markers of success, they are setting themselves up for the meaningful life they yearn to have — the very thing that Frankl realized makes life worth living.

Emily Esfahani Smith is an editor at The New Criterion and Defining Ideas, a Hoover Institution journal.

Jennifer L. Aaker is a professor of marketing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/01/opinion/sunday/millennial-searchers.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20131201

Liberals, conservatives differ in estimating consensus within their group

By Susan Perry, MinnPost.com, 11/26/13

A key difference on thinking about consensus may help explain why the conservative Tea Party movement was able to gain political traction while the liberal Occupy Wall Street movement did not.

As I’ve mentioned before in this column, recent years have seen an explosion of research into the psychological underpinnings of the ideological differences between liberals and conservatives.

These studies have found in general that conservatives tend to be more fearful of threats and losses, less tolerant of ambiguity, and more likely to value order, structure and stability. They are also more likely to develop punitive judgments about people who violate social norms.

Liberals, on the other hand, tend to be more open to new experiences, more accepting of ambiguity and change, and more egalitarian in their attitudes toward others.

Well, you can add another differing psychological characteristic to that list. For a new study has found that conservatives and liberals also vary significantly from each other in how they estimate the percentage of people who share their opinions on politics and other topics.

Conservatives tend to overestimate the similarity of their views to other conservatives, while liberals tend to underestimate the similarity of their views to other liberals.

According to the team of New York University researchers who conducted the study, this difference may help explain why the conservative Tea Party movement was able to gain political traction while the liberal Occupy Wall Street movement did not:

At the height of the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011, the liberal movement had garnered mass support and possessed potential for enacting meaningful change. However, supporters of the movement struggled to develop consensus on both large-scale (e.g., creating a shared agenda) and small-scale (e.g., determining how to respond to the New York City Police Department’s request to take down signs) issues, which hindered the movement’s ability to progress toward social change. … In contrast, supporters of the conservative Tea Party movement reached consensus on important goals and successfully founded a congressional caucus.

The inability of liberal Occupy Wall Street protestors to achieve consensus on vital issues ultimately contributed to the movement’s failure to develop solidarity and enact political change. Although developing actual consensus within a group’s ranks is important for mobilizing collective action, research has shown that perceiving consensus — even if that perception is not entirely grounded in reality — is similarly a vital step in motivating collective social change.

Two separate studies

The published study actually contains two separate but closely related studies. The first study involved 292 volunteer participants (171 women, 121 men); the second, 287 participants (162 women, 125 men). All participants were recruited through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk online survey website. They ranged in age from 18 to 82, but the mean age in both studies was 35.

When asked to describe their ideology, 137 of the first study’s participants said they were liberal, 93 said they moderate and 62 said they were conservative. In the second study, the numbers were similar: 125 identified themselves as liberal, 96 as moderate and 66 as conservative.

Participants in both studies were asked to indicate whether they agreed or disagreed with 41 statements, some political (“American should strive to strengthen its military”) and some nonpolitical (“I like poetry”). They were also asked to estimate the percentage of other people who share their political persuasion would agree with each statement  — a measure of perceived in-group consensus. Study one’s participants were asked to make this estimate in reference to other people participating in the study. Study two’s participants were asked to do it in reference to Americans in general.

Study’s two’s participants also completed a standardized questionnaire designed to evaluate individuals’ “need for uniqueness.”

Findings

Both studies found that moderates and conservatives tended to perceive their beliefs as being more similar to those of others in their political groups than they actually were — evidence of what psychologists refer to as the “false-consensus effect.”

Liberals, on the other hand, generally perceived their beliefs to be less similar to those of other liberals than they actually were, thus displaying an effect that psychologists refer to as “truly false uniqueness.”

Liberals did this in part, the research also revealed, because they possess a stronger desire to feel unique than do moderates and conservatives. (Other research has shown that additional motivations, such as the need for closure and a desire to avoid uncertainty, may also explain why liberals and conservatives differ in the accuracy of their similarity estimates.)

Political implications

The current study’s findings are undoubtedly provocative. They may also have important political implications, as the NYU researchers explain:

Liberals’ greater desire for uniqueness likely undermines their ability to capitalize on the consensus that actually exists within their ranks and hinders successful group mobilization, whereas moderates’ and conservatives’ weaker desire to feel unique (i.e., greater desire to conform) could work to their advantage by allowing them to perceive consensus that does not actually exist and, in turn, rally their base.

In recent years, America has seen the demise of media outlets in which liberal commentators and listeners provided similar positions on political issues (e.g., Air America), whereas their conservative counterparts (e.g., The Rush Limbaugh Show on the radio and The O’Reilly Factor on television) continue to thrive and create influential political discourse. The present research suggests that the failure of media outlets that promote consensual opinions among liberals may be due in part to liberals’ greater desire to develop beliefs and preferences unique from those of other liberals.

As political movements like Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party continue to develop over the coming years, dispositional motivations associated with the political ideologies of the movements’ members could inform the extent to which members accurately perceive the consensus that exists within their ranks and ultimately affect the groups’ ability to strive toward and successfully achieve collective goals.

The study was published online Nov. 18 in Psychological Science, a journal published the the Association for Psychological Science.

http://www.minnpost.com/second-opinion/2013/11/liberals-conservatives-differ-estimating-consensus-within-their-group?utm_source=MinnPost+e-mail+newsletters&utm_campaign=ab7fc3a1a1-12_1_2013_Sunday_Review11_27_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3631302e9c-ab7fc3a1a1-123367202

Learning to Think for Ourselves

by Michael Roth, President, Wesleyan University, HuffingtonPost.com, 11/12/2013

Over the last year there has been a steady stream of articles about the “crisis in the humanities,” fostering a sense that students are stampeding from liberal education toward more vocationally oriented studies. In fact, the decline in humanities enrollments, as some have pointed out, is wildly overstated, and much of that decline occurred in the 1970s and 1980s. Still, the press is filled with tales about parents riding herd on their offspring lest they be attracted to literature or history rather than to courses that teach them to develop new apps for the next, smarter phone.

America has long been ambivalent about learning for its own sake, at times investing heavily in free inquiry and lifelong learning, and at other times worrying that we need more specialized training to be economically competitive. A century ago these worries were intense, and then, as now, pundits talked about a flight from the humanities toward the hard sciences.

Liberal education was a core American value in the first half of the 20th century, but a value under enormous pressure from demographic expansion and the development of more consistent public schooling. The increase in the population considering postsecondary education was dramatic. In 1910 only 9 percent of students received a high school diploma; by 1940 it was 50 percent. For the great majority of those who went on to college, that education would be primarily vocational, whether in agriculture, business, or the mechanical arts. But even vocationally oriented programs usually included a liberal curriculum — a curriculum that would provide an educational base on which one could continue to learn — rather than just skills for the next job. Still, there were some then (as now) who worried that the lower classes were getting “too much education.”

Within the academy, between the World Wars, the sciences assumed greater and greater importance. Discoveries in physics, chemistry, and biology did not seem to depend on the moral, political, or cultural education of the researchers — specialization seemed to trump broad humanistic learning. These discoveries had a powerful impact on industry, the military, and health care; they created jobs! Specialized scientific research at universities produced tangible results, and its methodologies — especially rigorous experimentation — could be exported to transform private industry and the public sphere. Science was seen to be racing into the future, and some questioned whether the traditional ideas of liberal learning were merely archaic vestiges of a mode of education that should be left behind.

In reaction to this ascendancy of the sciences, many literature departments reimagined themselves as realms of value and heightened subjectivity, as opposed to so-called value-free, objective work. These “new humanists” of the 1920s portrayed the study of literature as an antidote to the spiritual vacuum left by hyperspecialization. They saw the study of literature as leading to a greater appreciation of cultural significance and a personal search for meaning, and these notions quickly spilled over into other areas of humanistic study. Historians and philosophers emphasized the synthetic dimensions of their endeavors, pointing out how they were able to bring ideas and facts together to help students create meaning. And arts instruction was reimagined as part of the development of a student’s ability to explore great works that expressed the highest values of a civilization. Artists were brought to campuses to inspire students rather than to teach them the nuances of their craft. During this interwar period a liberal education surely included the sciences, but many educators insisted that it not be reduced to them. The critical development of values and meaning was a core function of education.

Thus, despite the pressures of social change and of the compelling results of specialized scientific research, there remained strong support for the notion that liberal education and learning for its own sake were essential for an educated citizenry. And rather than restrict a nonvocational education to established elites, many saw this broad teaching as a vehicle for ensuring commonality in a country of immigrants. Free inquiry would model basic democratic values, and young people would be socialized to American civil society by learning to think for themselves.

By the 1930s, an era in which ideological indoctrination and fanaticism were recognized as antithetical to American civil society, liberal education was acclaimed as key to the development of free citizens. Totalitarian regimes embraced technological development, but they could not tolerate the free discussion that led to a critical appraisal of civic values. Here is the president of Harvard, James Bryant Conant, speaking to undergraduates just two years after Hitler had come to power in Germany:

To my mind, one of the most important aspects of a college education is that it provides a vigorous stimulus to independent thinking…. The desire to know more about the different sides of a question, a craving to understand something of the opinions of other peoples and other times mark the educated man. Education should not put the mind in a straitjacket of conventional formulas but should provide it with the nourishment on which it may unceasingly expand and grow. Think for yourselves! Absorb knowledge wherever possible and listen to the opinions of those more experienced than yourself, but don’t let any one do your thinking for you.

This was the 1930s version of liberal learning, and in it you can hear echoes of Thomas Jefferson’s idea of autonomy and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s thoughts on self-reliance.

In the interwar period the emphasis on science did not, in fact, lead to a rejection of broad humanistic education. Science was a facet of this education. Today, we must not let our embrace of STEM fields undermine our well-founded faith in the capacity of the humanities to help us resist “the straitjackets of conventional formulas.” Our independence, our freedom, has depended on not letting anyone else do our thinking for us. And that has demanded learning for its own sake; it has demanded a liberal education. It still does.

Cross-posted from Inside Higher Education. The op-ed draws on Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters, which will be published by Yale University Press in the spring.

Michael Roth

President, Wesleyan University

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-roth/learning-t