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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

Climate Apocalypse and/or Democracy

(79) Comments | Posted September 13, 2015 | 10:50 PM

In the last week, a group of scientists and a prominent historian each predicted a climate apocalypse. The scientists, led by Ricarda Winkelmann of Germany's Potsdam University, issued a paper finding that, if humans burn the rest of the world's estimated fossil fuel reserves -- which might take...

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The Amazon Economy

(105) Comments | Posted August 17, 2015 | 9:20 AM

A recent New York Times piece describes as Lord of the Flies for engineers and managers. Relentless culling, hyper-critical supervision, and channels for informing on allegedly slacking co-workers create an artificial State of Nature, where many employees careers are brutish and short. The article tells the stories...

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Sandra Bland, Citizen

(0) Comments | Posted July 26, 2015 | 1:30 PM

Sandra Bland's "mistake" was to act like a first-class citizen of a free country. She was punished for that by the side of the road in Texas, and now she is dead.

When she was pulled over in Prairie View she didn't make nice, act surprised and apologetic,...

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The Pope and I (Are Having a Complicated Weekend)

(20) Comments | Posted June 21, 2015 | 4:13 PM

I spent a day reading Pope Francis's encyclical on climate, the environment, and human responsibility, Laudato Si, while watching my liberal Internet explode with enthusiasm and conservative recoil. After sleeping on it, I did the Very Protestant Thing of listing my agreements and disagreements. I suspect I'm not the only...

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Tenure, Fairness, and Fear(lessness)

(47) Comments | Posted June 10, 2015 | 10:02 AM

Tenure is supposed to make people bold, but this summer it seems to be making them shy.

Wisconsin's move to strip tenure protection for state university professors from its statutes (and put it in the hands of the university's appointed political overseers) has stirred a muted and ambivalent...

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The TPP Is a Test of Democracy

(40) Comments | Posted May 23, 2015 | 8:54 PM

Democracy is the problem with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiation. It's the problem for TPP supporters because the trade deal has been secret so far -- known to the public only through leaks and rumors -- and because the Fast Track authorization that the Obama Administration wants would box...

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Socialism or Barbarism? Syriza, Economics, and Democracy

(44) Comments | Posted February 19, 2015 | 1:50 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

(0) Comments | Posted February 18, 2015 | 10:35 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

(0) Comments | Posted February 13, 2015 | 1:43 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 | 10:03 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 | 1:44 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 | 7:01 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 | 10:34 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 | 12:34 PM

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 | 11:25 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 | 3:47 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 | 8:15 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 | 10:41 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 | 9:59 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 | 9:57 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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