What Happened When China Joined the WTO?

Video: OMC español

Economically, the United States saw some benefits and some downsides.

  • Consumers broadly benefited from China’s WTO entry because they could buy goods from China at lower prices.
  • Corporations profited from increased access to China’s massive market. In 2017, for example, China accounted for about 20 percent of Apple’s sales, and since 2001, the value of U.S. agricultural exports to China increased by 1,000 percent.
  • However, labor unions in manufacturing and factory work opposed a WTO accession deal, certain that cheaper labor in China would cost jobs in the United States. And they were right: between 1999 and 2011, almost 6 million U.S. manufacturing jobs were lost. A landmark study attributed nearly 1 million of those manufacturing job losses, and 2.4 million total job losses, to competition from China. But because major technological advances such as automation occurred in that same time frame, economists disagree about exactly how responsible Chinese competition was for job losses in manufacturing.

Meanwhile, for China, the economic impact has been remarkably positive:

  • Since 1999, more than four hundred million Chinese people have been lifted from extreme poverty (living on less than $1.90 a day).
  • China’s economy is eight times larger than it was in 2001.
  • Trade in goods between the United States and China increased more than thirty times, from less than $8 billion in 1986 to over $578 billion in 2016. China surpassed Germany to become the world’s largest exporter of goods in 2009.

Source: https://world101.cfr.org/global-era-issues/trade/what-happened-when-china-joined-wto

Video: CNN Chile

Video: teleSUR tv

Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon fired

(CNN) President Donald Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon has been fired, multiple White House officials told CNN on Friday.


Sources told CNN that Bannon’s ouster had been in the works for two weeks and a source said that while Bannon was given the option to resign, he was ultimately forced out. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed Bannon’s departure, but claimed the decision for him to leave was mutual.

“White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day. We are grateful for his service and wish him the best,” Sanders said in a statement.

The President has privately stewed over Bannon in recent days, including Thursday night from his golf course in New Jersey. He was furious with his chief strategist after he was quoted in an interview with the American Prospect contradicting Trump on North Korea and asserting that Bannon was able to make personnel changes at the State Department.

On Saturday morning, however, the President tweeted out his thanks to Bannon: “I want to thank Steve Bannon for his service. He came to the campaign during my run against Crooked Hillary Clinton – it was great! Thanks S.”

Bannon’s exit comes just seven months after Trump took office and three weeks after retired Gen. Kelly took over as chief of staff, looking to instill order in a chaotic White House beset by internal divisions, staff infighting and a storm of controversies.

Bannon’s exit meant one of the White House’s most controversial staffers, the man generally perceived as the driving force behind Trump’s “nationalist” ideology, would no longer be at the center of the Trump universe.

Bannon joined Trump’s campaign last year, moving from the sidelines as one of Trump’s top cheerleaders to a position atop his campaign apparatus.

He did not travel with the President during the first week of what White House officials described as a “working vacation” at Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey. Instead Bannon remained in Washington where he worked out of a temporary office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building as the West Wing underwent renovations.

Bannon was supposed to be fired two weeks ago, a White House official told CNN’s Jeff Zeleny, but it was put off.

CNN reports the President equivocated after an initial plan was to fire Bannon and then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus at same time, the official says, because Rep. Mark Meadows, the influential chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, and others urged Trump to keep him on board.

The interview this week was enough for Meadows to change his view, a person close to him says.

What Bannon is thinking

After his firing Friday, Bannon spoke to The Weekly Standard, making a pointed case that the Trump presidency that his brand of populist, right-wing conservatives helped make possible is now “over.”

“We still have a huge movement, and we will make something of this Trump presidency,” Bannon told The Weekly Standard. “But that presidency is over. It’ll be something else. And there’ll be all kinds of fights, and there’ll be good days and bad days, but that presidency is over.”

The question now is whether Bannon will be an ally or a thorn in the side of the Trump administration outside the White House, where he has apparently already returned to his role as head of Breitbart, the right-wing news site he ran until he joined Trump’s campaign a year ago.

However that unfolds, Bannon is expected to remain tightly connected to the billionaire conservative father-daughter pair Robert and Rebekah Mercer, who are major investors in Breitbart News and top Trump donors.

Bannon returned to the role of executive chairman of Breitbart News and chaired the evening editorial meeting, the publication’s White House correspondent reported Friday evening.

Both Bannon and Trump spoke with the Mercers in recent days, a White House official said.

A White House ally who has talked to Bannon said the outgoing chief strategist does not want to go to war with Trump. Bannon is making that clear to close associates in response to Breitbart editor Joel Pollak tweeting #WAR.

“That’s not where Steve’s head is at,” this source said. “He’s been fighting for the exact same things that the President has been fighting for.”

This source quoted Bannon as saying “I want (Trump) to succeed.”

Still, as his firing appeared increasingly likely, Bannon downplayed concerns about being booted from the White House and argued that he would be a more powerful force from the outside, sources close to Bannon said.

He has privately told associates he would return to his “killing machine” — Breitbart — if he was forced to leave for the White House and has said he would be able to more easily target some of his White House rivals — like chief economic adviser Gary Cohn and national security adviser H.R. McMaster — from the outside, the sources said.

Bannon has also worked in recent weeks to put the pieces in place for his agenda to live on without him at the White House, working on hardline trade initiatives in his final weeks.

After pushing the President to start the process of investigating Chinese trade abuses, Bannon also laid the groundwork for a series of aggressive trade actions designed to impose a harder line against China, the sources said.

In his final days at the White House, Bannon was continuing to work up schedules for the rollout of trade initiatives that would come in September, long after he expected to be forced from the White House, the sources said.

“We’re going to run the tables on these guys,” Bannon told The American Prospect in an interview earlier this week.

A quick and contentious tenure.

Bannon’s turbulent White House tenure was marked by controversy.

In the administration, Bannon frequently butted heads with other advisers to the President, feuding with son-in-law and senior adviser Jared

Kushner, chief economic adviser Cohn and other more moderate members of the President’s administration whom Bannon branded as “globalists.”

Bannon was often suspected by colleagues of badmouthing them to reporters and he rubbed colleagues the wrong way by attempting to ramrod his ideological positions.

“Steve was never a team player,” a senior administration official said.

Bannon viewed himself as the populist defender of Trump’s campaign promises in the White House, working daily to tick off items from the list of promises that hung on the walls of his West Wing office.

Bannon focused especially on pushing a hardline trade agenda, recently working to cue up a series of trade policies to aggressively target Chinese foreign trade abuses and work toward rebalancing the trading relationship between the US and China.

Source: CNN

Bannon was an influential voice inside the White House, feeding and encouraging Trump’s nationalist and populist instincts.

In the process, he garnered an infamous reputation as a puppet master pulling the strings in the Oval Office, with pop culture portrayals ranging from the moniker “President Bannon” to his depiction as the grim reaper on “Saturday Night Live.” Those portrayals — coupled with a Time Magazine cover that declared him “the great manipulator” — often angered Trump, who chafes at being outshined.

But the reality is that while Bannon was an influential figure at Trump’s side, he was hardly the all-powerful aide so many sought to portray him as.

He did not always come out victorious in his feuds with fellow White House aides and Trump did not always heed his counsel.

Still, Bannon served as a daily reminder to Trump of his populist campaign promises and his bellicose political instincts. Bannon’s rivals in the White House argued that he encouraged the President’s worst instincts, while his allies said he was keeping the soul of Trump’s movement alive.

The fiery chief strategist also led the charge against proposals by national security officials to deepen US military involvement in Afghanistan, feuding vocally during meetings of the National Security Council with McMaster and working behind the scenes to water down hawkish proposals for troop increases and a longer-term US military commitment.

The President is meeting Friday with members of his national security team at Camp David to consider options for the future of the US war in Afghanistan as he nears a decision, but Bannon is not there — and was not scheduled to be, based on a list of attendees the White House sent out Friday morning.

This story is breaking and will update with additional news.

CORRECTION: This graphic has been updated to reflect Shaub’s duration on staff for the Trump administration. He was on staff 180 days.

CLARIFICATION: This graphic has been updated to clarify Scaramucci’s and Comey’s duration on staff based on the their start and end dates. They stayed on staff 11 days and 110 days, respectively.

CNN’s Jim Acosta, Jeff Zeleny, Miranda Green, Gloria Borger and Eli Watkins contributed to this report.

In: cnn

Pentagon spends 10 times more on erectile disfunction meds than transgender services

The Pentagon spent $84 million on erectile disfunction medications in 2014, 10 times the estimated annual medical costs for transgender services.

Military Times reported in 2015 that the military spent $84 million on erectile disfunction medications such as Viagra and Cialis the year before. Meanwhile, a 2016 Rand Corporation study estimated that the maximum annual medical costs for transgender military members would be around $8.4 million, Business Insider reports.

“You’re talking about .000001% of the military budget,” being spent on transgender services, Navy SEAL veteran Kristin Beck, who is transgender, told Business Insider.

President Trump announced Wednesday on Twitter his decision to ban transgender people from serving in the military “in any capacity.” He cited the “tremendous” costs for providing medical services for transgender troops.

“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you,” Trump tweeted.

His announcement sparked widespread condemnation from members of both parties, including Republicans who broke with the president to speak out against the ban.

Image: Facebook

In: thehill

Read also:

Trump to ban transgender people from all military service

Retired transgender Navy SEAL: Tell me to my face I’m not worthy of serving


BREAKING: Howard University professor reports settlement in Brazilian wax case

Image: https://d28htnjz2elwuj.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/06073524/Howard-CREDIT-279photo-Studio-Shutterstock.com-FEAT.jpg

By  July 14, 2017

Howard University has reached a tentative agreement with the law professor it found responsible for sexual harassment over a test question about a hypothetical Brazilian wax.

This afternoon, professor Reginald Robinson’s attorney, Gaillard T. Hunt, released the following statement:

We have discussed the case with the University and we believe we have reached a mutually satisfactory solution. Professor Robinson regrets if anyone was offended by the test question.

FIRE reported on the case last week, which we noted at the time was part of a larger pattern of colleges and universities punishing constitutionally protected expression under the guise of addressing sexual harassment.

You can read more about the case in our press release.

Check back to Newsdesk next week for more on this development.

Schools: Howard University Cases: Howard University: Professor Subjected to 504-Day Investigation and Sanctions for Hypothetical Test Question Involving Waxing

In: thefire.org

Case given by the professor translated in spanish:

Pregunta 5.

P es dueño y manager de “Day Spa & Massage Therapy Company, LLC.” P atiende tanto a hombres y mujeres. Entre otros servicios, P ofrece “Brazilian wax” y “bikini wax” – también llamados “Sphynx”, depilada total, o depilación estilo Hollywood.

Para prestar estos servicios, P contrató a A, un esteticista, certificado y licenciado por la escuela ubicada en el Estado en que P realiza sus actividades.

Un día, T visitó la compañía de P. T nunca había buscado tales servicios, pero sus amigos habían elogiado el trabajo de P. A se encontró con T en la mesa de atención. T pidió un Brazilian wax. -¿Un brasileño completo o modificado? -preguntó A a T. T parecía confundido, entonces A procedió a explicarle que un Full Brazilian (“FB”) implicaba depilar totalmente a T desde el ombligo hasta las nalgas,  por lo que un FB requería que T esté desnudo de la cintura para abajo. Un FB además requiere que A toque el cuerpo de T y realice los ajustes necesarios para que este pueda acceder a todos los folículos del vello púbico de T. Asimismo, A le explicó a T cómo sería un “Modified Brazilian” (“MB”). Un MB le dejaría una fina franja de pelo en la parte superior de sus genitales, es decir, un “landing strip” (pista de aterrizaje). Así, T optó por un Full Brazilian.

Una vez más, A le explicó a T que tendría que tocar sus genitales para completar la depilación. T estuvo de acuerdo y firmó en el Contrato de Servicio el espacio donde reconoce la información brindada por A. T se desvistió en un salón privado, donde también bebió un té de hierbas caliente. Por pedido de A, T, quien estaba desnudo de la parte de abajo, se acostó en la mesa de depilación. Una vez sobre ella y con los tonos instrumentales como fondo, T cayó en un sueño ligero. Finalmente A completó el FB. Al despertar, T se sintió físicamente incómodo, preguntándole a A si lo había tocado incorrectamente. A, le dijo que no, y sintiéndose ofendido, se fue.

Semanas después, P recibió una carta del abogado de T, en la que T alegaba que A lo había tocado inapropiadamente, generando que T buscara consejería y medicación para tratar un Trastorno de Estrés Post-traumático. Habiendo trabajado con A durante 10 años, P respondió que A era un esteticista certificado y licenciado, que nunca había tenido quejas presentadas por sus clientes. T demandó a P, y por testimonio de A, Los abogados de P y T descubrieron que A había tocado a T correctamente durante el FB. Sin embargo, T todavía siente que los tocamientos de A fueron impropios. En la demanda, T alegó que A, envuelto en una aparente posición de autoridad, lo había inducido a través de representaciones falsas a confiar razonablemente en él, de modo que A podría causar daño a T mientras actuaba en el marco de su labor. Si P se hubiera opuesto, en efecto diciendo “Sí, ¿Y qué?” a los pedidos de T, ¿la corte se encontraría a favor de T?

(A) Sí, porque T había establecido que A era un empleado que fue colocado como esteticista, lo que permitió a A hacerle daño a T.

(B) No, porque T expresa e implícitamente consintió  los tocamientos de A en cualquier manera razonable para que este le proporcione el servicio FB que aquél solicitó.

(C) Sí, porque P se benefició de los ingresos pagados por T en razón del servicio realizado por A.

(D) No.

This is our chance to make gerrymandering unconstitutional

Why you should support Common Cause

In January, a federal judge ruled that the Wisconsin Legislature—tasked with drawing legislative districts—would have to re-draw them to less blatantly favor one party over the other.

The Legislature in Wisconsin drew unconstitutionally partisan lines because they wanted to rig the system.

They’ve appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court, and you can bet they’ll be well financed.

This problem is called Gerrymandering, and I’m determined to terminate its poisonous impact on our democracy.

That’s why I’ve partnered with Common Cause, a nonprofit focused on promoting open, honest and accountable government.

We want to hire the best-in-the-business lawyers to argue this and other critical cases before the Supreme Court.

If we win, we have the chance to make gerrymandering unconstitutional nation-wide.

But terminating gerrymandering will be expensive.

Arguing a case in front of the Supreme Court, filing amicus briefs, paying for the research and legal expertise necessary to really have a shot at terminating gerrymandering — that’ll take anywhere from $250,000 to $1,000,000.

We’re hoping YOU can help us get to $150,000. And because we must win these cases, I’m personally going to match each and every dollar we raise with my own contribution.

Please chip in whatever you can afford today — even $3 will send a powerful message that the citizens of America won’t stand idly by as politicians protect their jobs instead of earn them.

Message from Arnold Schwarzenegger:

Thank you!

Friends — 

I have been traveling across the globe, but I had to take a moment to write you a quick note of thanks for joining me in the effort to end partisan gerrymandering.

Now that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case, our work begins in earnest. You are on the front lines of this battle, and I’m grateful to have you with me in this fight. 
I can think of no better way to celebrate our patriotism after July 4th than boldly proclaiming that as American citizens, we stand united against gerrymandering and the broken political system it has created.
We stand against politicians choosing themselves and their jobs over the people. 
We stand for American citizens taking political power into their own hands. 
You’ve already done your part by donating — now make sure that your friends know we have the chance to make gerrymandering unconstitutional. 
Share your support on Facebook.

Together, we’re going to make Washington work for regular people again. 
I hope you had a fantastic fourth, 


A 1951 book about totalitarianism is suddenly flying off the shelves. Here’s why.

What Hannah Arendt’s philosophy can teach us about Trump, Brexit and the dangers of isolation

Author and political theorist Hannah Arendt. Getty Images

After Donald Trump was elected president, lots of people started buying books by Hannah Arendt: In December, her 1951 book The Origins of Totalitarianismwas selling at 16 times its normal rate.

Why Arendt, a political theorist who died in 1975? She’s an important philosopher but not exactly a popularly read writer. The answer is simple enough: She has a lot to say about what’s wrong with the world today.

Arendt theorized about the nature of totalitarian societies — how they work, what they prey on, and why they spring up. America is not currently under the yoke of totalitarianism, but the preconditions are there, namely a hollow and fractured society full of dislocated, angry people.

This is what most concerned Arendt, and it ought to concern us today.

I reached out by phone to Lyndsey Stonebridge, a Hannah Arendt scholar who wrote a book about Arendt’s influence, The Judicial Imagination: Writing After Nuremburg. We talked about Arendt’s legacy and how her ideas speak to our present political moment. We also discussed Donald Trump, Brexit, and what Arendt meant when she defined totalitarianism as a form of “organized loneliness.”

Our lightly edited conversation follows.

Sean Illing

Why do you think so many people are suddenly interested in Arendt?

Lyndsey Stonebridge

I think the resurgence in the last year has been around the phenomenon of totalitarianism and that sense that something like a crisis is occurring and we don’t know how to address it. It’s very interesting that it’s The Origins of Totalitarianism that’s being cited and read.

Sean Illing

I read that book in graduate school and was sort of bowled over by it. Her idea that totalitarianism is essentially organized loneliness seems awfully relevant now.

Lyndsey Stonebridge

I’ve made the point quite a few times that Arendt was very important as a 20th-century thinker. I’m trained as a literary scholar and a historian at the same time. That’s my dual background. What’s brilliant about The Origins of Totalitarianism is she’s saying you need to invent new methods for understanding new things. That’s why she was blasted for writing The Origins of Totalitarianism, because she wouldn’t give a big historical narrative. She insisted that we pay attention to what was new and what was different.

Sean Illing

Let’s linger on that thought for a second. What was it about totalitarianism for Arendt that was new? Why was it uniquely a product of the modern world?

Lyndsey Stonebridge

There’s a reason she refused to give some grand historical narrative about the roots of totalitarianism. She believed that certain things had to be in place for totalitarianism to take shape — racism, capitalist expansion for the sake of expansion (what we might call globalization today), the decline of the traditional concept of the nation-state, and anti-Semitism.

Arendt said those things conspired to create a constellation which could produce totalitarianism in the form that she was talking about then.

Sean Illing

What strikes you when reading The Origins of Totalitarianism now?

Lyndsey Stonebridge

Two things. She said studying totalitarianism was like trying to unpack a crystal. She insisted that she wasn’t a “traditional historian” because historians usually write about things because they want to preserve them, whereas she wanted to write about something “I wanted to destroy.”

She thought she could destroy an idea which is both totalitarian but also endemic to lots of ideological thinking, and that is the idea there is a “telos,” or a grand purpose or struggle, and that everything has to be in service of that idea. She didn’t want to replace the totalitarianisms of her day with another master narrative.

She wanted to explode the belief in master narratives altogether.

Sean Illing

I’m glad you went there because that’s something that interests me as well, this belief in grand stories about history or justice — all ideologies have something like this at the center. Why did Arendt believe people were vulnerable to these narratives? Why was modern life making them so attractive?

Lyndsey Stonebridge

For Arendt, it was about the isolation of modern life, the emptiness of it all. What she understood — more than someone like [George] Orwell — is that you don’t need to be a totalitarian state to exhibit the characteristic features of totalitarianism. Her focus was on modern loneliness, the isolated individual who loses a kind of rootedness in the world and therefore is prime material for the takeover of ideology, for the total narrative that gives life direction and meaning.

Sean Illing

What is the political and social price we pay for allowing society to fracture in this way?

Lyndsey Stonebridge

I’d like to answer that by raising a couple of things that Arendt didn’t really wrestle with. The big price we pay for mass loneliness is the loss of a shared reality. Arendt disagreed with Orwell that everyone knows two plus two doesn’t make five. We’re not idiots. We know a lie. But the problem is when people decide they don’t have to accept this reality. Then everyone begins to inhabit their own world, and that loss of a shared reality is what produces the loneliness, and that’s what makes the chaos of post-truth and willful lies so politically and existentially traumatic.

Sean Illing

Draw a line for me. How do we get from a loss of shared reality to totalitarianism?

Lyndsey Stonebridge

Once you’re uprooted from your sense of reality as a community, that allows all sorts of other uprootings to take place. We lose our human connection to other people, and that’s when the conditions are in place for tribalism and mass violence, for the extermination of “superfluous people,” for “others.” This something Arendt understood all too well.

Sean Illing

So obviously we’re dealing with this problem right now, this loss of a shared reality. We’re in this bizarre “post-truth” climate in which our president lies with impunity, fake news and misinformation are pervasive, and much of the country is cocooned inside self-affirming information bubbles. At the same time, there’s a resurgence of racism and ethnonationalism, both here and in Europe.

I take it Arendt would have anticipated this?

Lyndsey Stonebridge

Absolutely. The relationship between that kind of politics and violence was inextricable for Arendt. One of the things people do when they’ve become uprooted is to retreat into us-them fictions, and that often means dividing the world racially.

I think the politics of Trumpism and politics of Brexit, the politics of the new right, have deliberately merged, and so you cannot pull them apart. What we’re also getting as a product of this organized loneliness is a valorization of race politics and even violent racism.

Sean Illing

Can you give me a concrete example of what you mean by violence there? Because I suspect a lot of people will assume that political violence has to be explicit or overt, but that’s not always the case.

Lyndsey Stonebridge

Sure. So we’ve just watched a tower block in London kill 79 people, and that’s a very conservative estimate. That tower block was full of asylum seekers, migrants, poor, working-class, black people. It burned down because there’s a politics that has said in our council and in our country for a long time that the interests of the bourgeois elite and their monetary interests come above those people. There are now criminal proceedings, but it’s an act of murder, and it can’t be divorced from the politics that made it possible.

Sean Illing

Let’s connect this back to Trump and Brexit if we can. How are Trump and Brexit direct responses to the loneliness and the uprootedness?

Lyndsey Stonebridge

I think these movements give people a coherent fiction. My sense is that it gives them a kind of fantasy, and in both Britain and America it’s a nostalgic fantasy, a belief that we can return to some glorious past in which the middle class boomed and everyone had stable incomes and simpler lives.

Britain has the same economic divisions that America has, and in both countries the liberal elites haven’t fully come to grips with the fact that the economic policies of the last 20 or 30 years have produced a monster, a monster that we created.

Sean Illing

So you see Trump and Brexit as twin political phenomena?

Lyndsey Stonebridge

I’m slightly more worried about the Trump fantasy than the Brexit fantasy, because Trump’s cult of personality is built on power and narcissism, and I’m not sure the Brexit fantasy is quite as mad as that.

But I don’t want to turn this into a competition!

Sean Illing

If it’s a madness competition between Britain and America right now, I’ll take America.

Lyndsey Stonebridge

Fair enough.

Sean Illing

So if Arendt were to emerge out of a void and survey our current political landscape, what do you suppose she would say?

Lyndsey Stonebridge

“Think! Think! Think!” I imagine she would also tell us to be scared, but I think she’d have been saying that for the last 10 or 20 years. And she’d say to not just be scared of Trump or Brexit, because those are manifestations of something that’s been happening for a very long time.

Sean Illing

You seem to imply that the intellectual class has been blind to this brewing chaos. Is that right?

Lyndsey Stonebridge

That’s right. There’s a certain type of left intellectual, both in the US and the UK, that simply doesn’t get it. First, we had Brexit. Then we had Trump. The distinguishing feature of that was an absolute incredulity among certain people to understand what had happened, to understand that something totally spontaneous seemed to have happened that we couldn’t predict and that we didn’t like, that we thought was mad and we didn’t understand.

I think Arendt would’ve said this is what politics does. It’s around the space of interruption. It’s around the spontaneous. And whoever owns that space owns the direction it goes, and so you have to be watchful at all times, especially when the signs of disruption are so clear.

Sean Illing

Apart from the elections, what sorts of signs do you have in mind?

Lyndsey Stonebridge

I think Arendt would point to things like the prison system in the States, to the housing estates in London, to the forgotten spaces in Middle America with no role to play in this booming global economy — Arendt would say these are the new homes for superfluous people. But they’re real people, and people in power are blind to them.

These are also totalitarian features. When you crowd people into spaces, declare them invisible, declare them immaterial, those are the new spaces of what used to be the totalitarian camp.

Sean Illing

Political spontaneity works both ways, though. Are there not also encouraging developments?

Lyndsey Stonebridge

Sure. I think Arendt would be enthusiastic about other forms of politics that are coming together in the face of all this. Whereas lots of people are troubled that the Democrats don’t have a central narrative, and until three weeks ago it didn’t seem like the left did in Britain either, I think she’d have been very interested to watch the different groups that are coming together — there’s local community groups and political groups, different international groups — that together form a kind of counter-politics.

Arendt would call this an example of natality, an example of the new, the positive creation that can happen in the face of bad politics. So I think she’d be excited about that.

Sean Illing

I want to go back to the concept of thinking, which had a particular meaning for Arendt, a political meaning. When you say that Arendt would look at our current moment and tell us to think, what do you mean? What would she mean?

Lyndsey Stonebridge

Well, actually, thinking for Arendt isn’t always political by itself. Thinking is something you do by yourself. It is loneliness. It is isolation. It’s always tricky in Arendt’s work to see how she gets from thinking to politics, which I can talk about in a second. But thinking for Arendt was really a way of being; it’s about the dialogue we have in our head. She wanted to valorize that because it’s an internal check, in the moral and political sense.

Sean Illing

Which is why she insisted that all totalitarian societies were defined by a kind of thoughtlessness. They were full of men and women who were smart but stopped thinking in this sense.

Lyndsey Stonebridge

Right. She was writing in response to what she saw as totalitarian thoughtlessness. What she noticed about [Nazi leader Adolf] Eichmann when she went to see him [on trial] in Jerusalem was that he spoke purely in clichés, in banalities. She said he could only do that because he hasn’t got the inner voice, he hasn’t got that second voice in his head. He’s a human machine, a thoughtless tool. His thoughts were the thoughts drilled him into via the propaganda and the slogans.

Which is why she always cautioned against banal or clichéd speech; this was a sign that people had stopped thinking for themselves, and once that happens, totalitarianism isn’t far behind.

Sean Illing

Let’s close with something useful for readers who are interested in reading Arendt as a way of making sense of the present. Where should they start?

Lyndsey Stonebridge

The essays that I go back to are the “Thinking and Moral Considerations” essay, which she wrote coming out of the Eichmann trial. The book on Eichmann is wonderful just for its sense of narrative and indignation. But the “Thinking and Moral Considerations” essay is especially interesting because it was written during the Watergate scandal. There was a real sense of America tearing itself down and a belief that something different was happening.

 And that is a familiar feeling these days.
In: vox 
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