Social Criticism

Social Criticism

Culture: Philosophers Kessler & Kingwell Interviewed

culture September 19th, 2017

I want to discuss culture, not just because it has an academic fascination, but because it’s relevant to the way we live our lives. Many people in America even hybridize cultures— a Mexican American, a white-collar and blue-collar mixed nuclear family, a gay adolescent. This obviously equals certain advantages as well as special disadvantages. My first partner in dialogue is Gary Kessler, Ph.D., who has a Master’s degree in divinity and also a Ph.D. in philosophy. He taught comparative religion and philosophy at the California State University, Bakersfield. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University. I personally know his book, Voices of Wisdom: a Multicultural Philosophy Reader; its Sixth Edition was published in 2006. He’s working on a book called The Dark Side of Religion. Tune in to the interesting discussion of culture, sociology, environmental influence, cultural anthropology, and relativism.

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America’s #1 Satirist: Mark Twain Quotes

Mark Twain quotes September 18th, 2017

Mark Twain is up there with American luminaries such as Will Rogers, Lucille Ball, Woody Allen, Dorothy Parker, Ambrose Bierce, Betty White, Thomas Nast, Gary Larson, Phyllis Diller, Joan Rivers, Charlie Chaplin, and Carl Reiner. This is, of course, a shockingly truncated list. Mark Twain quotes have stood the test of time for their penetrating, serious character as well as their satirical and humorous quality. Here are those in the Wisdom Archive, over 26,000-strong now! 

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Surviving These Times: Howard Zinn Quotes

Howard Zinn Quotes September 14th, 2017

Happily for him, my man Howard Zinn never lived to see Donald Trump ascend to the throne. He was no stranger to demagogues, self-serving hypocrites, and pretenders – for he fought Hitler (like, literally), was a leader in the Civil Rights movement, and every morning had to read the papers while George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Lyndon Johnson were president. He fought the good fight for decades. Finally, his body gave out. But his mind, during most of his long life, was strong, adroit, and productive. Here are some Howard Zinn quotes (and some allied others) to help us all deal with the presidency of Donald Trump. He would want us to look to wise guides and find within ourselves the strength to resist, to organize, and to non-violently protest. If he were alive today, he would say that we will prevail.

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Liberty: A Summary and Critique

liberty September 11th, 2017

Philosopher and economics expert Joanne Baldine, Ph.D. offers the following: “According to classical liberalism, the idea of liberty – as the word suggests – is preeminent. It’s the idea around which many people from different political persuasions still unite…. You will find both the ‘arch-conservative’ and the ‘extreme liberal’ agree on this point: that is, the importance of liberty. Still, the interpretations of liberty differ, depending on whom you ask.” She goes on to highlight “…the key liberalist ideas that issue from the people I consider to be the most important architects of liberalism: John Locke, David Hume, Adam Smith, and John Stuart Mill.” In this blog, I will share a few thoughts about each of these thinkers, and many others, as well. The goal is to see what this idea of liberty is all about. I start off slow and get to the heart of the matter. Anything that the two polarities of the political spectrum can agree upon is worth exploring!

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Virtues: Society’s Guiding Light

love is best among virtues September 10th, 2017

Since time immemorial, values, virtues, and societal norms (and mores, folkways, etc.) have been part and parcel of the fabric of every civilization. Not only is interesting to think of the ways in which different cultures differ from each other and how societies can spin out of control, it is exciting to think of the ways in which certain virtues hold up beautifully over time. For example, every society has more or less valued the virtue of truth: honesty, fair dealing, justified belief, etc. A society which prized chicanery, deceit, and unscrupulous behavior would not long last. Trust and law are the glue that hold a people together, and thus, the virtue of truth is written into the sacred texts, myths, laws, and norms of a society. Read on to see which virtues are tried and true, and ideally gain some inspiration for honoring them. 

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The Commons: Crucial Public Goods

The Commons means "public" September 10th, 2017

K. Sabeel Rahman wrote a tidy piece about “public goods” – basically, goods and services open to the public. Contrast this with private and member-only kinds of benefits and accoutrements. Things such as public roads, public water, public sewer, open spaces and parks, museums, schools, fire protection and the like are public goods that (typically) are funded by tax dollars. Here is why preserving the Commons for us all is critical.

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More, Better, Principled, Responsive Government

responsive government September 8th, 2017

Fareed Zakaria, ever the reliable liberal, penned a smart essay on responsive government. In it, he suggests we need not less, but more (and I would say, better and more principled) government. In a word, a responsive, ethical, and subservient group of individuals who know how to do their jobs, serve rather than take, and govern effectively. Unfortunately, with Trump occupying high office, most government officials who can afford to leave already have. And Congress has a nearly-single-digits approval rating. Their job performance is truly abysmal. The courts are either suffering vacancies or filled with reactionary political appointees (consider the awesomely bad rulings by the SCOTUS, Citizens United, Vallejo, and McCutcheon). What can be done to help us achieve the kind of leadership we desperately need – more, better, principled, responsive government? Here are a few thoughts.

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The American Labor Struggle Captured in Quotes

labor struggle September 4th, 2017

The struggle for workers’ rights is a very significant part of the American experiment. Today, Labor Day, I want to reflect on the efforts for fair working conditions, equal pay for equal work, safe workplaces, profit-sharing, class divisions, and progressivism that is known, proudly, and somewhat wistfully, as the labor struggle. 

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Economic Justice: Five of My Beliefs

economic justice September 3rd, 2017

I actually think quite a bit about what it means for society to be “economically just.” Social justice is one of my favorite phenomena. Justice in general is a deep and wide topic which is infinitely fascinating. My penchant is for an approach to economics that I suppose could be called progressive. I have also entertained descriptors such as egalitarian, communitarian, liberal, fiscally liberal, democratic-socialist, and even some libertarian principles. I considered myself a big Bernie Sanders supporter, and was disappointed in his loss. America is a bit difficult to stomach in the past decades. I sincerely hope we are not witnessing the waning years of American Empire. I still sometimes hold out hope that we can govern ourselves (some would note, work ourselves, or invent ourselves, or educate ourselves) back to a more functional, humane, progressive, respectful, legitimate, and responsive political system. This blog details five of my premises/beliefs about how economic justice can be fomented and nurtured. God speed!

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Quotations About Business/Economics/Capitalism

quotations about business August 30th, 2017

There are many remarkable quotations about business and quotes on economics available online. What The Wisdom Archive can do is to bring hundreds of them together in the same place. Further, the collection of quotations about business one finds therein is unique because of its searchability, diversity, and utter truthfulness. Capitalism is not given a beautiful gloss, nor is anarchy heralded. Just as wisdom indicates that business is a force for good, it also has the potential to reflect humanity’s dark side. Here is a smattering of assertive and insightful quotations about business and interesting thoughts on economics from the perspective of Values of the Wise: 

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