Thinking Our Way Through Coronavirus: Hannah Arendt’s Insights for Dark Times

(Sanjana Rajagopal’s essay below originally appeared in the Blog of the American Philosophical Association. Reprinted with permission.)

The novel coronavirus has managed to spread to all corners of the globe, altering our ways of life profoundly, bringing sickness and death everywhere it goes. Continue reading Thinking Our Way Through Coronavirus: Hannah Arendt’s Insights for Dark Times

Understanding Nihilism: Evaluative and Practical

The Nihilist by Paul Merwart (1882)

“Understanding Nihilism: What if nothing matters?”
©John Danaher (Reprinted with Permission) 

John Danaher is currently an academic and senior lecturer at the National University of Ireland (NUI), Galway, where he teaches in the School of Law. Continue reading Understanding Nihilism: Evaluative and Practical

White Privilege

African-American university student Vivian Malone entering the University of Alabama to register for classes. Until 1963, non-white students were not allowed to attend.

When we talk about white privilege we don’t mean that your life is easy because you’re classified as white. You’ve probably worked very hard in your life. But some groups of people have the deck stacked further against them than other people. For example, if you grew up in a lower socio-economic class than someone else that made life harder for you. (Not growing up wealthy you probably wouldn’t have stumbled into the Presidency for example as did George W. Bush or Donald Trump—both of these men were abject failures but saved by money and connections.)

However, if you are classified as black (race is NOT a biological category it is a social category) you had additional obstacles. For example, if classified as black you were not eligible for FHA loans in New Deal legislation;  if you served in WWII and were classified as black you were not eligible for the GI Bill, if you are black you can’t buy housing in certain neighborhoods, etc. (Trump’s father famously didn’t rent to blacks.) Other examples of systematic racism include not being allowed to do virtually anything (go to most state universities, vote, stay at most hotels, etc. etc. etc.

So again the idea isn’t that being called white means life is easy, just that it provides some advantages to being black. And powerful racists have used that fact to turn working-class people against one another for a long time. That’s why they remind you that you’re better than the black guy. At least you’re white they tell you. But your real enemies are those who really steal the money from society. Not the guy trying to rob the 7-11 or steal a pair of shoes because he has no money or job prospects. But the billionaires, none of whom went to jail after the financial crisis of 2008; or the corporations that pay no taxes; or the billions that have disappeared in the latest government stimulus program. They are the ones really looting from society.

Ok. So here are some specific examples of how society usually respects my basic human rights as a white person because I can do all of these things without worry: Continue reading White Privilege