Political philosophy


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Skinheads in Southend, England, in 1981. Photo by Michael Daines/Mirrorpix/Getty

Essay/
Subcultures
Hate reads

The Western canon has no shortage of fascists. But can the far-Right make ‘literature’ worthy of the name?

Andrew Marzoni

Self-Portrait in the Camp (1940), by Felix Nussbaum. Nussbaum was a prominent and admired artist prior to the Nazis seizing power in 1933. He subsequently worked in exile and hiding before being murdered in Auschwitz in 1944. Neue Galerie New York/Getty Images

Essay/
Thinkers and theories
Where loneliness can lead

Hannah Arendt enjoyed her solitude, but she believed that loneliness could make people susceptible to totalitarianism

Samantha Rose Hill

Study For Liberty Displaying the Arts and Sciences, or The Genius of America Encouraging the Emancipation of the Blacks (1791-92) by Samuel Jennings. Courtesy the Met Museum/New York

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History of ideas
Philosophy’s systemic racism

It’s not just that Hegel and Rousseau were racists. Racism was baked into the very structure of their dialectical philosophy

Avram Alpert

Activists clash with police on 1 March 2020 in Kolkata during a protest against India’s new citizenship law and following sectarian riots in New Delhi. Photo by Indranil Aditya/NurPhoto via Getty

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Mood and emotion
Politics is visceral

In an age thick with anger and fear, we might dream of a purely rational politics but it would be a denial of our humanity

Manos Tsakiris

Wyoming, United States, 1954. Photo by Elliott Erwitt/Magnum Photos

Essay/
History of ideas
On tact in dark times

Far from a social luxury, tact becomes imperative when life is cheapened. We exercise it to show gentle respect for another

Corina Stan

Pakistani construction workers in the Business Bay area of Dubai, 2012. Photo by Jonas Bendiksen/Magnum

Essay/
Work
Universal unions

Being an employee is a threat to your liberty. But while firms exist, compulsory unions are a basic safeguard of freedom

Mark R Reiff

Residents line up for cow beans provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to ease an ongoing food crisis caused by the Boko Haram insurgency. Mainok village, Western Borno State, Nigeria, 11 February 2017. Photo by Ashley Gilbertson/VII/Headpress

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Poverty and development
The billionaire curse

Philanthropy is vital – but its mechanisms are as intricate and troubling as the baroque structures of high finance

Katharyne Mitchell

Carl Schmitt addresses the German Industry and Trade Day at the Kroll Opera House, Berlin, 8 April 1930. Photo by Ullstein Bild/Getty

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Political philosophy
Lawyer for the strongman

Demagogues do not rise on popular feeling alone but on the constitutional ideas of Weimar and Nazi legal theorist Carl Schmitt

David Dyzenhaus

American Civil Rights activist Malcolm X (left) pictured in New York in 1963. His radicalism helped shape public discourse. Photo by Robert L Haggins/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty

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Mood and emotion
The fruits of anger

To those who say anger is destructive or pointless: Not so! Getting angry spurs and sustains us to take action for justice

Brian Wong

Adolf Hitler greets German workers in 1934. Concern for workers’ rights was part of the initial appeal of fascist leaders. Photo by Heinrich Hoffmann/Ullstein Bild/Getty

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Politics and government
The lure of fascism

Fascism promised radical national renewal and supreme power to the people. Are we in danger of a fascist revival today?

Jonathan Wolff

A Japanese-American shopkeeper and graduate of the University of California unfurled a banner proclaiming ‘I am an American’ in the window of his grocery store in Oakland, California, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. This photo was taken three months later, just prior to the man’s forced removal to an internment camp. Photo by Dorothea Lange

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Political philosophy
The theorist of belonging

Judith Shklar fled Nazis and Stalinism before discovering in African-American history the dilemma of modern liberalism

Samantha Ashenden & Andreas Hess

Photo bt Emin Ozmen/Magnum Photos

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Knowledge
Nihilism

The risk of nihilism is that it alienates us from anything good or true. Yet believing in nothing has positive potential

Nolen Gertz

Bertrand Russell in November 1950, having been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Photo by Bettmann/Getty

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Political philosophy
The politics of logic

Should philosophy express the national character of a people? Bertrand Russell’s ‘scientific’ philosophy was a bulwark against nationalism

Alexander Klein

At the Extinction Rebellion protest in London, 9 October 2019. Photo by Crispin Hughes/Panos Pictures

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The environment
Habermas and climate action

Jürgen Habermas offers a framework for action on climate change – justice and deliberation are as important as the science

Emilie Prattico

Cicero, in the Senate, accusing Catilina of conspiracy. Fresco by Cesare Maccari (1889). Palazzo Madama, Rome. Photo by AKG London

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The ancient world
Rules or citizens?

Ancient Athenian and Greek practices afford us insights into how and why to maintain real accountability in public life

Melissa Lane

Isaiah Berlin in 1985. Photo by Gemma Levine/Getty Images

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Thinkers and theories
Philosopher of the human

One can only imagine how much nobler and more decent the world might be if it took more notice of Isaiah Berlin

Johnny Lyons

New York in 1946 from the New Jersey shore, taken with a 40-inch Dallmeyer telephoto lens. Photo by Andreas Feinin/Time Life/Getty

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Political philosophy
Project and system

There are two ways of seeing order in the world: as a spontaneous system or as an intentional project. Which way lies freedom?

Paul Kahn

KFC, McDonald’s, tourists and a Trabant car at the site of the former Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin. Photo by Kay Nietfeld/dpa/AFP/Getty

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Politics and government
The horror of sameness

What people most fear is not difference, but a world in which nothing and nowhere is unique, in which everyplace is the same

Holly Case

Photo by Raghu Rai/Magnum

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Technology and the self
Privacy is power

Don’t just give away your privacy to the likes of Google and Facebook – protect it, or you disempower us all

Carissa Véliz

Buddhist monks receive alms in Luang Prabang, Laos. Photo by Chris Stowers/Panos

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Thinkers and theories
Marxism and Buddhism

Life is suffering, whether you sit under a Bodhi Tree or stand with the workers. But do the two schools agree on the remedy?

Adrian Kreutz

Detail from The Good Government (1338-9), by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. To the right: Magnanimity, Temperance and Justice seated above prisoners. From a fresco at the Palazzo Pubblico, Siena, Italy. Photo by Getty Images

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Thinkers and theories
The first socialist

Well before Bentham, Cesare Beccaria radically questioned the right of the state to imprison and execute its citizens

Lorenzo Zucca