Monday, December 28, 2015

Ten good things I wrote this year

I don't put much effort into promoting my writing, which means that a lot of it can fly under the radar for the people who actually read me. I should probably correct that by setting up a newsletter or something next year, but in the meantime I thought I'd gather ten of what I consider to be my better articles from 2015, in case you missed them (or would like to read them again).


PESSIMISM

If our civilization fails, there's no reason to believe the survivors will learn any lessons. 

When things get this terrible, we often hope that the sheer weight of misery will ultimately force communities to come together and effectively defend themselves. As I've written elsewhere, this strikes me as historically naive. Humans can endure suffering of scales and intensities unfathomable to the modern mind - particularly to the minds of sheltered, pampered Americans. 


ELECTION 2016

In response to the recurring accusation that leftists only care about class, I briefly run through the ancient history of class-only politics - from their origins in the Enlightenment to their absolute extinction in the early twentieth century.

A good companion piece to the last one: I outline the kinds of policies and proposals you would expect to see in an actual radical, class-first platform, in contrast to the decisively liberal platform of Bernie Sanders.

A look at actual voter trends - and historical / international efforts to put more women in office - clearly suggests that the major representational obstacles women face are barriers to entry. In the United States, most people want to vote for women - but campaign and nomination processes prevent them from doing so.


THE LEFT

The left has become increasingly - and justifiably - critical of the works of Michel Foucault in recent years, but his contribution to our understanding of power remains enormously important and influential.

Capitalists are relying on extremely bad data and incredibly dubious philosophical assumptions to argue that capitalism has made the world a better place than it was during the prehistoric era. Some basic anthropology calls all of that into question.

The left has historically talked about mental illness in two different ways: as a biological reality that shapes our politics, and as a social construct that is shaped by our politics. Today, we've settled on an incoherent middle-ground between the two.


CLIMATE CHANGE

Scientists aren't just telling us that climate change is real - they're telling us that it's urgent, and that dramatic measures have to be taken immediately. Denialists who reject climate change altogether and liberal centrists who only support incremental solutions are both denying the same science.

Climate politics in the US remain fixated on domestic issues, but the much greater fight is one that we have barely even begun: the developing world will need our help to stop climate change, and that means historically unprecedented international aid from the US.

Thanks for reading everyone; hopefully we'll all survive another year.