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Jedediah Purdy
Jedediah Purdy's writing includes a trilogy of books on American politics and culture, most recently A Tolerable Anarchy. He is Professor of Law at Duke Law School, where he teaches constitutional and environmental law, among other topics. He lives in Carrboro, North Carolina."

Entries by Jedediah Purdy

Socialism or Barbarism? Syriza, Economics, and Democracy

(44) Comments | Posted February 19, 2015 | 12:50 PM

With the Syriza-led government locked in no-blink negotiations with Greece's creditors, especially Germany, it might be time to revive an old slogan of the left: Rosa Luxemburg's "socialism or barbarism." Restated for the 21st century, "socialism" simply means that a people's judgments about its own economic life -- the kind...

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Eternal Childhood of the Spotless Mind: Speech Codes in the Neoliberal University

(3) Comments | Posted February 18, 2015 | 9:35 AM

Every morning, on my way to teach at Duke, I pass a display of civility marketing. Poster-sized pictures of students, done in that art-photo-meets-advertising style, inform me that "We Don't Say ... faggot, man up, 'What are you?'" -- that we are sensitive here to the subtle, complex ways of...

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Thoughts from Chapel Hill: Violence as a Way of Life

(119) Comments | Posted February 13, 2015 | 12:43 PM

I live on the outskirts of Chapel Hill (across the tracks, literally). It's been a heartbreaking time for everyone here, a frightening time for many Muslims (and those who might "look Muslim") in the region, and also a time of stirring, heartfelt solidarity and shared mourning. At a vigil at...

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The Dangers of Clarity: Don't Let Terrorism Define Us

(18) Comments | Posted January 14, 2015 | 9:03 AM

France is at war, Prime Minster Manuel Valls declared after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, against terrorism and radical Islamism. Millions of people marched in Paris and elsewhere two days later to affirm the values Valls's war is meant to defend: liberty and solidarity. These are stirring responses to terrible acts....

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I Understand Nothing

(11) Comments | Posted January 10, 2015 | 12:44 PM

I have felt ill and exhausted since first reading about the murders at Charlie Hebdo. The illness comes, partly, a sense of the pressure to form an opinion. The killers have forced themselves on the world's attention. Like the scriptural passages in a liturgical calendar, their monstrous acts have become...

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Thanksgiving #Ferguson

(16) Comments | Posted November 26, 2014 | 6:01 AM

This is a strange year, even an awful one, to celebrate Thanksgiving. A grand jury's refusal to indict Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson has crystallized ugly truths. Many Americans feel unsafe in their own neighborhoods, not despite law enforcement but because of it. In some places, the police seem,...

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Who Zephyr Teachout Is

(0) Comments | Posted May 30, 2014 | 9:34 AM

Zephyr Teachout is a living reminder that phrases like "speak truth to power" can be more than cliché.

The bio is impressive enough:

She helped to create Howard Dean's Internet campaign in 2004, which shocked and galvanized the Democratic Party and laid the groundwork for Barack...

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Carolina on Your Mind: Why Saturday's Moral March is Everyone's Lookout

(21) Comments | Posted February 6, 2014 | 11:34 AM

On Saturday, February 8, North Carolinians will fill downtown Raleigh, surrounding the state capitol. There will be many thousands, very possibly tens of thousands. There will be teachers, doctors and nurses, laborers, farmers, artists, and unemployed people. We won't be protesting, or demanding, anything in particular -- not...

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Saving the World Within: Environmentalism for the Human Gut

(5) Comments | Posted September 17, 2013 | 10:25 PM

We need an environmentalism for the human gut.

I realized this when I read a single phrase from the Center for Disease Control report that's getting so much attention right now: "poor antimicrobial stewardship." With those three words, I felt I was glimpsing a new worldview. In...

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Everyday Utopias: Local Music and/or Political Hope

(4) Comments | Posted September 10, 2013 | 2:47 PM

Everyday utopias prove that people still want, and maybe need, bigger utopias. It's a good thing, too.

I spent a chunk of the last few days wandering around one kind of everyday utopia, a music festival, admiring the work of people I know or at least recognize when I see...

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In the Shit With Thoreau: A Walden for the Anthropocene

(237) Comments | Posted June 30, 2013 | 7:15 PM

Henry David Thoreau's phrase, "In wildness is the preservation of the world," launched a thousand calendars, mugs, T-shirts, and bumper stickers. For a long time, it seemed the perfect slogan for American environmentalism. The movement sprang up to preserve the Adirondacks and Sierra Nevada, grew through public fights in the...

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About Your Banging Blacklist: An Open Letter to the Civitas Institute

(70) Comments | Posted June 20, 2013 | 9:41 AM

Dear Civitas Institute,

Thanks for including me in your Moral Monday Protesters database. I'm sure I speak for many of those arrested for civil disobedience protesting North Carolina's Tea Party legislature who are happy to find our name, residence, and employer are usefully listed on the...

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Why I Got Arrested in Raleigh: The States Are the New Front Line

(944) Comments | Posted June 11, 2013 | 8:59 AM

Because North Carolina refused the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, I ended up in handcuffs in the Wake County Detention Center. That was my trigger, anyway. Statistically, next year more than two thousand people in the state will die who would have lived if North Carolina had accepted federal money to give...

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Why We'll Get Marriage Equality: The Good, Bad, and Ugly Reasons

(828) Comments | Posted March 19, 2013 | 8:57 AM

The Supreme Court will rule for nationwide marriage equality by a 6-3 vote. That's my prediction. This is premature, more than a week before the Justices hear arguments, but here are my reasons -- good, bad, and ugly. If it does happen, this will be why.

Good Reasons

These are...

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Will Justice Kennedy Defend Marriage Equality and Outlaw Affirmative Action -- With One Stroke?

(38) Comments | Posted December 10, 2012 | 11:10 AM

With both gay marriage and a challenge to affirmative action on its agenda, the Supreme Court will weigh in on two of the most charged issues. Progressives are full of nervous excitement about the marriage cases and just plain nervous about affirmative action.

Consider this unsettling possibility. Suppose the Court...

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Against 'Decadence': Fewer Kids, Better Future

(299) Comments | Posted December 5, 2012 | 7:30 AM

Is having fewer children the mark of decadence? The New York Times' cultural conservative, Ross Douthat, has been arguing that in recent columns. For him, a decline in childbearing means that people are abandoning the future for the fleeting pleasures of the present.

Douthat suggests...

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Whiteness in the Age of Obama

(775) Comments | Posted November 26, 2012 | 3:43 PM

Recall the numbers: 59 percent of white voters supported Romney. More dramatically, 88 percent of his votes came from whites. One simple but plausible analysis suggested that Obama won a majority of white votes only in New England, New York, and Hawaii. His national share of the white vote fell...

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How to Be American Here in the Future

(165) Comments | Posted November 9, 2012 | 2:07 PM

Everyone knows that what won on Tuesday was not just a candidate or a party, but a version of America's future. But there's a lot we don't know about that future, even though we are living in it, even though we are it.

A lot of what we know is...

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What We Have Lost (and What We Are Fighting for)

(411) Comments | Posted October 22, 2012 | 12:11 PM

It's time to fight like hell for the party of the center-right, represented by Barack Obama, against the party of the far right. There is no alternative.

It's a time for progressives to be disappointed and resolute. This is so different from the mood of 2008 that it's worth pausing...

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The Morality of Capitalism: Where to Start the Debate

(458) Comments | Posted July 17, 2012 | 1:23 PM

Despite what David Brooks thinks, it is not true that Barack Obama has forced Mitt Romney into a debate about the morality of capitalism. Too bad. But with Bain, LIBOR, and offshoring all in the campaign mix, it's just possible that that the debate might happen. If we manage to...

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