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James Block

Entries by James Block

The Dead Hand of the Present: Is a Future Possible?

(1) Comments | Posted August 28, 2013 | 4:16 PM

The pressing question one faces in trying to make sense of the collapsing framework of the American system is how to capture the full crisis afflicting its way of life. Given the signs everywhere of a society in free fall, is there a way to address our deepest fears and...

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Child Rearing and the American Future: Let the Hunger Games Begin

(1) Comments | Posted April 30, 2012 | 4:06 PM

American children are in trouble. Each day brings increasing evidence of peer aggression (the new documentary Bully), autism spectrum disorders (the report just released by the Centers for Disease Control) and serious dependency and helplessness issues (an ongoing U.C.L.A. study). The unsurprising conclusion of the director...

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From Occupy to Progressive Renewal IV: A Full Development Society

(0) Comments | Posted January 18, 2012 | 10:29 AM

Every child is a precious individual, not just a potential functionary of society. -- Michael Young

The New Framework

At the heart of the just society must be a public realm committed to the development of human capacity, those self-actualizing and democratic citizens society must have to thrive....

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From Occupy to Progressive Renewal III: A Call to New Truths

(4) Comments | Posted December 27, 2011 | 5:52 PM

Real equality of opportunities must be through equality of achieve valuable functioning.
--Amartya Sen

A Common Inheritance

As the party of freedom and collective well-being, progressives must not leave another generation to question the dream of a realized and empowered society. Acknowledging that genuine individualism and willing...

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From Occupy to Progressive Renewal II: It Takes a Village

(3) Comments | Posted December 13, 2011 | 12:21 PM

We must have faith in the people, in their capacity to take care of their real interests as human beings. --Erich Fromm

The Case for Renewal

To move beyond their cautious pragmatism, progressives must abandon the self-defeating assumptions of the past. They must reject the false choice between social...

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From Occupy to Progressive Renewal: Demanding the Just Society

(5) Comments | Posted December 1, 2011 | 5:10 PM

The little rabbit was in a deep hole from which it could not escape. It consulted the rabbit manual, which stated, "when in a dangerous situation, dig a hole." So it dug. It is still in the hole, and still digging.

Light at the End?

Finally, serious...

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Beyond the Myth of 9/11: The Path of Self-Examination

(0) Comments | Posted September 8, 2011 | 8:00 PM

September 11 was not only a trauma but, as with any crisis of identity, an opportunity for greater maturity. This would require serious reappraisal of the national project, beginning with the lure of self-mythology itself. Such castle-building enables those threatened with unmanageable external danger to split the world into us...

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Beyond the 9/11 Myth: Dispelling the Fog

(0) Comments | Posted September 3, 2011 | 2:14 PM

It will always be nearly impossible to extract the real meaning and importance of 9/11 from its mythic dimensions because it was -- as it was intended -- a mythic act. The targets were specifically chosen as symbols of American (and Western?) financial and military might, the mainstays of...

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The Pleasures of Hidden Membership

(1) Comments | Posted June 21, 2011 | 2:53 PM

Americans have prided themselves on producing the most mobile society on record. Actually the pride is partly misplaced, for once our ancestors left for a land unbound by tradition, there was nowhere to call home regardless of the pull to settle down.

So, what do you do when...

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Progressives and the 'Good Child' DIlemma

(4) Comments | Posted March 4, 2011 | 10:14 AM

How many progressives does it take to install a new society? Forget it -- there's no punch line. Progressives are the wrong ones to ask. They are too eager to be constructive -- critical to a point, open and honest to a fault, but they want to be trusted with...

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The (Untelevised) Revolution Next Door

(6) Comments | Posted February 20, 2011 | 8:24 PM

I caught a glimpse of the future last weekend in the Riverwest neighborhood of Milwaukee. For those of you who haven't spent time there yet, it would be easy to miss. For a century (the 20th) raised on dramatic accounts of revolution, the Russian, Chinese, and Cuban for example, there...

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The Bully(ing) Pulpit

(0) Comments | Posted January 31, 2011 | 3:05 PM

The society that invented and then perfected the soft sell has shifted its marketing strategy. No more smiling faces! No more Mr. Nice Guy! The old ways have been revealed as just that -- soft! Why even pretend to listen, to suggest what your product can do for others, when...

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Play It Again, Barack

(1) Comments | Posted November 12, 2010 | 11:04 AM

Sometimes watching historical events are like witnessing a video playing, in slow motion. When you see the ugly things coming, you want to jump up and insert a new scene. But then you remember: the slo-mo is just a tease, the ending is already in the can.

Of course, events...

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The Specter Of The Counterculture III: The Land Of False Dreams

(13) Comments | Posted January 19, 2010 | 12:33 PM

When did the American national bird become the ostrich? This was, after all, the take-away message from the megahit Matrix I, that we dwell in a world of painted veils and comforting delusions, utterly disconnected from reality and the desert caused by our willful blindness lying just behind.

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Mad Men and the High Cost of Advertising

(1) Comments | Posted October 21, 2009 | 8:07 AM

That the award winning show Mad Men chronicles the rise of contemporary advertising should be our first warning. The fantasy machine that propels the American -- and increasingly global -- consumer culture achieves this leverage simply with make believe. It imagines what we want before we want it. It packages...

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Wrong Turn at Paradise: Woodstock at 40

(0) Comments | Posted August 18, 2009 | 9:50 AM

The culture is now abuzz with the latest next new thing: the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. My first reaction as one who passed a long-ago weekend at the festival and his college years at Berkeley before that is to change the channel. The fleeting attention must be yet another case...

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The Specter of the Counterculture II: The Cunning of Desire

(4) Comments | Posted July 15, 2009 | 2:41 PM

Sitting here in a coffee house on the Pacific in Arcata, California, spiritual capital of the American counterculture (no signs, no hype, but a lot of head shops, used CD and vinyl stores, tofu take-outs and supply outlets for indoor greenhouses), it is clear we are a long way from...

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Specter of the Counterculture I: A Footnote to History?

(2) Comments | Posted April 18, 2009 | 12:17 PM

The counterculture - if anyone remembers the term - has been long since relegated to the dustbin of history. It refers to that period in the last century - or was it millennium? - when a generation of young people threw off traditional American restraints. Opting for liberation and immediate...

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The Sun and the Wind: Two Faces of Globalism

(8) Comments | Posted February 6, 2009 | 6:03 PM

There is an old story from Aesop's Fables about a traveler proceeding along a country road, watched over by the Sun and the Wind who debate which of them has the power to get the traveler to shed his coat. After wagering, the Wind goes first. He progressively escalates his...

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The Progressive Dilemma

(2) Comments | Posted December 12, 2008 | 10:10 AM

Many progressives are anxious and even skeptical about the emerging Obama administration. As a card-carrying devotee of the (cardless) progressive movement and a charter member of the (unchartered) counterculture, I sympathize. The late night Grant Park dreams of a new era of change now slowly give way to the day-after...

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