Feb 22, 2011

empathy is crucial for democracy

I've posted many times about the relationship between empathy and solidarity, but was reminded of its importance to democracy by George Lakoff in an article analyzing what's behind the attack on workers, being so beautiful held off in Wisconsin. Here he argues

"In the 2008 campaign, candidate Obama accurately described the basis of American democracy: Empathy — citizens caring for each other, both social and personal responsibility—acting on that care, and an ethic of excellence. From these, our freedoms and our way of life follow, as does the role of government: to protect and empower everyone equally. Protection includes safety, health, the environment, pensions and empowerment starts with education and infrastructure. No one can be free without these, and without a commitment to care and act on that care by one’s fellow citizens. The conservative worldview rejects all of that.

Conservatives believe in individual responsibility alone, not social responsibility. They don’t think government should help its citizens. That is, they don’t think citizens should help each other. The part of government they want to cut is not the military (we have 174 bases around the world), not government subsidies to corporations, not the aspect of government that fits their worldview. They want to cut the part that helps people. Why? Because that violates individual responsibility.

But where does that view of individual responsibility alone come from? ..." read on

Feb 16, 2011

Latin American visions of solidarity


Fourth Annual Empire and Solidarity in the Americas Conference

Latin American Visions of Solidarity

University of New Orleans

October 15-16, 2011

Conference Organizers: Aviva Chomsky and Steve Striffler

International solidarity between the United States and Latin America has sought to create partnerships between actors with vastly unequal access to power and resources. Solidarity activism has worked to change U.S. policy towards Latin America, to provide material aid to Latin Americans, and to educate the U.S. public about Latin American realities and the impacts of U.S. foreign policy. Most studies of U.S.-Latin America solidarity have focused on U.S.-based organizations and their activities.

This conference seeks to explore Latin American visions of solidarity from two perspectives: First, how have Latin Americans seen, understood, and engaged with U.S. solidarity movements? Second, how have Latin Americans conceptualized and created their own visions of solidarity? In both cases, we also look to understand the ways in which Latin American actions and visions been received and understood in U.S. solidarity circles.

Paper proposals should include a 100-200 word abstract and a 1-page cv, and be submitted to striffler@hotmail.com and achomsky@salemstate.edu by April 1, 2011.

The Empire and Solidarity in the Americas Conference is a working conference. Attendees are expected to read all conference papers (about 8) and participate in intensive discussion of each paper. If your paper is chosen, you will be an invited guest with conference expenses paid by the University of New Orleans.

Feb 12, 2011

Feb 7, 2011

The Geopolitics of Colombia's Territorial Conquest

Today I read an article that rocked my world. It is one of the best analyses of Colombian reality I've read (and I've read probably too many). If you do any work that has anything to do with Colombia I recommend it highly, despite the odd pretitle:

Iron Maiden Landscapes: The Geopolitics of Colombia's Territorial Conquest
by Margarita Serje

It's available here.

She's an anthropology professor at Los Andes. By iron maiden she means "a device for collective abuse." Was 'iron maiden' a name for some old torture gadget? Is this just a weird translation? It just makes me think of the band I'm afraid. Anyways, the article is well worth reading, and I'm looking forward to getting her book.