Maybe this is how Great Men read books: like boys.
March 18, 2017
Dutch Election Diary
Wilders’s argument is, in effect, that multiculturalism is the opposite of diversity. At a Koblenz conference hosted by Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland, he warned in that the totalitarianism of the EU and political correctness would reduce the wonderful variety of nations to a “uniform multicultural society.” (He also said that “women are afraid to show their blonde hair,” which is new to me.) But he owes so much to the “politically correct” vocabulary of “rights” and “identity” that he claims to reject.
January 12, 2017
It’s been a while since a President has had to speak of fascism as something that has a lure.
Also distracting was the image, revealed a few hours earlier, of the next President urging Russian prostitutes to pee on each other in a Moscow hotel bed where Barack and Michelle Obama had once slept.
Drones need no Churchills and deserve no Lincolns.
In the narrative world of an Obama speech, the protagonist of every story is in some sense a generation, and the climax of every story is a moment. For Bush, time was always running out, like Jack Bauer’s clock in 24. The decision point was that instant when one billiard ball hits the next, and God willing, your aim was true. But in the greatest Obama speeches, because of their eloquence and ceremonial grandeur, time itself slows.
The nomination of a Supreme Court justice is the closest thing the United States has to the election of a pope.
Three letters from Amsterdam
How far beyond the academy do our commitments extend? Are we defending our right to teach and study things that might be useless? Or are we insisting on our usefulness?
April 12, 2015
Letter from Amsterdam, Part II
A few weeks ago I wrote a chronicle of a revolution at the University of Amsterdam, where I teach. To recap: On February 13, a student protest group called De Nieuwe Universiteit occupied a campus building to protest dreadful budget cuts, and to challenge more fundamentally the neoliberal managerialism that has crept into academic governance since the 1990s, even in public universities like this one. They were evicted eleven days later.
March 26, 2015
Occupying the Maagdenhuis in protest is a minor tradition here. In 1969, students did so for five days. Now, it’s been almost a month. Back then, students and teachers were generally on opposite sides of the barricades, or at least teachers represented the establishment. Now, teacher and student are allies against a new establishment—the university’s Board of Directors (College van Bestuur, or CvB)—and against trends in Dutch academia and the broader world: the financialization of the university, something called rendementsdenken, neoliberalism itself.