The growing risk of authoritarian rule in the US

Thomas Edsell's piece in the August 3, 2022 New York Times offers a truly chilling view of the plans currently underway by Donald Trump and his supporters for creating an authoritarian one-party state in the United States (link). Edsell draws primarily from Trump's own words at the America First Policy Institute in late July 2022.  As he …

Is there a working class in the US?

There is certainly a working class in the United States, and it is a majority of the population (persons who earn their livelihood through wage-paying employment). But it is highly fragmented, mostly in the service sector, unorganized, and often disinclined to believe in the possibility of serious social change. A recent Brookings research report by …

Gross economic inequalities in the US

An earlier post (link) highlighted the growing severity of inequalities of wealth and income in the United States, as well as Elizabeth Warren's very sensible "billionaire" tax proposal. According to a 2020 article in Forbes, "According to the latest Fed data, the top 1% of Americans have a combined net worth of $34.2 trillion (or 30.4% …

English socialism

What were the social conditions that led many English intellectuals in the 1930s to engage in fundamental critique of the society in which they lived? Why was social criticism so profound and sustained in Britain from the time of Carlyle and Engels to the surge of English socialism in the 1930s? The answer, of course, …

HB Acton’s version of Marxism

H. B. Acton gained celebrity with the publication of Illusion of the Epoch in 1955, supposedly as a serious philosopher's even-handed exposition of the philosophy expressed in Marx's writings. Acton was not an especially influential philosopher, and he certainly does not stand in the first ranks of post-war British philosophy. He taught philosophy at the London School …

Sidney Hook’s theory of education in a democracy

Philosopher Sidney Hook is best remembered for his debates with other philosophers and engaged political figures about Marxism and Communism (link). My interest here is in a different part of his work after World War II, his philosophy of education. Hook was a student of John Dewey, the author of Democracy and Education, but ultimately Hook …

A 1934 debate about communism among American philosophers

The appeal of Marxist socialism -- communism -- as an alternative to the consumerism, inequality, and exploitation of European and American capitalism was a powerful draw for many intellectuals in the 1930s, especially in the context of the great Depression and widespread crisis and deprivation of the 1930s. This interest extended to many prominent American …

Paradigms, conceptual frameworks, and denkkollektive

Image: Ludwik Fleck as prisoner / scientist in Buchenwald An earlier post opened a discussion of the "historical turn" in the philosophy of science in the early 1960s (link). This innovation involved two large and chiefly independent features: deep attention to the social and institutional context of scientific research, and the intriguing idea that research …

Social embeddedness of scientific and cultural work

How do complex, socially embodied processes of cultural and scientific creation work? (I'm thinking of artistic traditions, scientific research communities, literary criticism schools, high-end culinary experts, and mental health professionals, for example.) This is a complex question, by design. It is a question about how a field of "cumulative" symbolic production moves forward and develops; …

The GOP descent into right-wing authoritarianism

In December 2020 I reviewed Hannah Arendt’s analysis of totalitarianism in The Origins of Totalitarianism (link) to try to assess the damage and threats created for our democracy by Donald Trump’s conduct as president. There were very worrisome indications at that time of the slide towards an authoritarian political regime caused by Trump's behavior and …

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