Category Archives: hubris

“La ZAD: Another End of the World Is Possible”

“The French government announced that it had given up on building a new airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes (NDDL). This decision capped five decades of political, economic, legal, environmental, and personal struggle. … What began as a small protest camp grew into a world-famous space of autonomous experimentation that lasted almost nine years.”

Editorial – “The Guardian view on arrogance: the Greeks had a word for it”

“The original meaning of hubris went far beyond the pride that goes before a fall: it was a deliberate, excessive and brutal act. Remind you of any government?”

Joseph Fronczak: “Hobsbawm’s Long Century”

“Hobsbawm’s short twentieth century was hard and horrific. Today it is a century since his birth, and it has been a long one. Long enough that Hobsbawm’s vision of humanity-encompassing Enlightenment ideals expressed politically in the form of socialism, seemingly dead at his short century’s end in 1991, now in 2017 suddenly appears once more in surprisingly sturdy shape, fortified for what looks to be another long century.”

Timothy Snyder: ‘“It’s pretty much inevitable” that Trump will try to stage a coup and overthrow democracy’

“The thing that matters the most is to realize that in moments like this your actions really do matter. It is ironic but in an authoritarian regime-change situation, the individual matters more than [in] a democracy. In an authoritarian regime change, at the beginning the individual has a special kind of power because the authoritarian regime depends on a certain kind of consent. Which means that if you are conscious of the moment that you are in, you can find the ways not to express your consent and you can also find the little ways to be a barrier. If enough people do that, it really can make a difference — but again only at the beginning.”

Christopher Lebron: “What Totalitarianism Looks Like”

Five signs of totalitarianism:  ‘1: Leader Insists on Mass Public Adoration. 2: Regime Controls the Truth. 3: Regime Suppresses Knowledge Producers. 4: Regime Invents Common Enemies. 5: Leader Is Surrounded by Cronies and Sycophants.’



Sheila Fitzpatrick: “What’s Left?”

Review of 5 new books:  “Nothing fails like failure, and for historians approaching the revolution’s centenary the disappearance of the Soviet Union casts a pall. In the rash of new books on the revolution, few make strong claims for its persisting significance and most have an apologetic air. … On top of that, the revolution, stripped of the old Marxist grandeur of historical necessity, turns out to look more or less like an accident. Workers – remember when people used to argue passionately about whether it was a workers’ revolution? – have been pushed off stage by women and non-Russians from the imperial borderlands. Socialism is so much of a mirage that it seems kinder not to mention it. If there is a lesson to be drawn from the Russian Revolution, it is the depressing one that revolutions usually make things worse, all the more so in Russia, where it led to Stalinism.”

Timothy Snyder: “Donald Trump and the New Dawn of Tyranny”

“The Founding Fathers designed the constitution to prevent some Americans from exercising tyranny. Alert to the classical examples they knew, the decline of ancient Greece and Rome into oligarchy and empire, they established the rule of law, checks and balances, and regular elections as the means of preserving the new republic. Thus far, it has worked. But it need not work forever.”

Erica Chenoweth on “How to Topple a Dictator”

Waleed Shahid interviews Erica Chenoweth, a leading scholar of authoritarian regimes:  “Generally speaking, successful civil-resistance campaigns have four things in common: the continual growth of the number and diversity of participants; the ability to elicit loyalty shifts among the opponent elites and their supporters; the innovation of new methods rather than reliance on a single method; and the ability to remain resilient, disciplined, and united in the face of escalating repression.”

Michael Weinman: “Tyrant, Demagogue, or Fascist – Which archetype fits President Trump?”

Drawing on Cleon in Thucydides to argue “why it matters that we engage with President Trump as the demagogue he is and not as a tyrant or a Fascist.”

David Bromwich: “We are still in the first scene of the first act.”

“Apparently unorganised and leaderless protests have gathered about them a certain romantic glamour ever since the Occupy movement of 2011-12, and yet the real utility of such protests is to serve as a warning when planned in alliance with an existing party. The only other purpose they can have is to initiate a revolution; and people who act from such a motive had better have a chance of succeeding. On the other hand, refusal to obey unjust laws, if carried out by a large enough mass of the people, may crystallise an opposition when party leaders have lost their way. Democrats have forgotten what it means to constitute an opposition.”