#118: The Voter is Always Right: The Meaning of Democracy

When you lose an election, the impulse to insult the voters appears highly appealing. They just didn’t understand your great plans. They don’t know enough. They are easily misled by misinformation. Maybe they are wicked, immoral, and deplorable. The enemies are strong and devious. We are righteous warriors for truth and justice, and those who… Continue reading #118: The Voter is Always Right: The Meaning of Democracy

#94: What Is Political Extremism Today?

We are conditioned to think in political categories of “right” versus “left”, with an underappreciated center in between. This model has become deeply entrenched in political thinking, no matter how simplistic it actually is. Politically, “left” and “right” derive from seating arrangements of pro- versus anti-monarchist forces in the National Assembly during the French Revolution,… Continue reading #94: What Is Political Extremism Today?

#80: There is No Alternative to Dialog and Debate

Of course, we all want to believe that what we are thinking and doing is the right thing. Nobody wants to be wrong, nobody wants to be the bad guy. Nobody is truly at peace with themselves if they are at war with the world. But we cannot all be right on everything. We all… Continue reading #80: There is No Alternative to Dialog and Debate

#79: The Need for the Public Understanding of Humanities and Social Science Theory

Words are easy. They are not formulas. You should just be able to read them and understand them instantly. Or so it goes. We seemingly are living in a time where all the things talked about in the humanities and the social sciences in the recent decades are finally coming to have their day in… Continue reading #79: The Need for the Public Understanding of Humanities and Social Science Theory

#75: There are no “Internal Matters”

When criticized by others, some governments frequently claim that any disapproval from the outside world would be an unwelcome intrusion into “internal matters” that should be rejected out of hand. Furiously, foreign ministers, heads of state, state media and sometimes even religious leaders reject any attempt to condemn any attacks on human rights or territorial… Continue reading #75: There are no “Internal Matters”

#58: Question Everything; But Also Yourself

It is important to not take everything for granted. The dangers of authoritarianism are always real, and simple answers to complex questions should never satisfy the curious mind. There is a reason dictatorships always want to limit free speech and even thinking itself, and any attempts at limiting free thought and free expression need to… Continue reading #58: Question Everything; But Also Yourself

#43: “Worst Persons” in the World: Hate is the New Normal

I still remember Keith Olbermann’s sometimes ironic, sometimes dead-serious takedowns of politicians and people in the public eye. His show “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” on MSNBNC (2003-11) started, supposedly, as a parody of the style of Bill O’Reilly’s show “The O’Reilly Factor” (1996-2017), then on Fox News. While Olbermann never achieved the brilliance which Stephen… Continue reading #43: “Worst Persons” in the World: Hate is the New Normal

#40: Enabling Free Speech, or, the Problem of the Public Sphere

Saying that free speech is an absolute value that needs to be protected against all odds, against all possible and impossible detractors, in order for democracy to be possible, is one thing. But how do we make this happen? This is what is called the problem of the public sphere, be it constituted by the… Continue reading #40: Enabling Free Speech, or, the Problem of the Public Sphere

#39: Free Speech is Absolute

The dividing line between a just society and barbarism is whether free speech is valued or not. With “free speech” I mean any speech, no matter how offensive. With protected, I mean that the only answer to speech you do not like shall be counter-speech. The truth will win out in an equal, peaceful, respectful… Continue reading #39: Free Speech is Absolute

#21: Media: Don’t Tell People What To Think

Journalism is one of the most important activities in any country. Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Speech, both are cornerstones for any successful society, not just for democracies. Without a free press and free speech, no society will survive successfully for long. Dictatorships that disallow one or both those crucial components of public and… Continue reading #21: Media: Don’t Tell People What To Think