Agora & Polis at L. Rhodes <p>Essays exploring the intersection of politics and the social.</p> 2019-10-17T12:00:04-04:00 L. Rhodes Metalsmith Sovereignty in the Grand Old Party L. Rhodes 2019-05-25T00:00:00-04:00 tag:,2019-04-02:agora-polis05252019 How did I wind up reading James Burnham's Congress and the American Tradition? I can't quite recall where I first encountered the title. It's a fascinating book thus far, though already I'm forming certain misgivings regarding Burnham's philosophical assumptions. One thing I certainly did not expect was for the opening chapters to be so theoretical. Burnham goes on at length about the foundations of governmental legitimacy, the &quot;syndromes&quot; of political ideology, and the indivisibility of sovereignty. The last of those seems particularly relevant to the contemporary scene. Ungrievable at the Border L. Rhodes 2019-05-17T00:00:00-04:00 tag:,2019-04-02:agora-polis05172019 In the introduction to her essay collection Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable?, Judith Butler writes: Forgiveness in the Republic L. Rhodes 2019-04-09T00:00:00-04:00 tag:,2019-04-02:agora-polis04092019 Kirstjen Nielsen did a terrible thing. If there is any truth to the reporting,[1] she resisted doing so. Far from exculpating her, that suggests only that she was aware of the wrongness of what was being asked of her, and then did it all the same. She did it, denied it, defended it, and in the end, her transgressions failed to preserve for her the position she had hoped to save. The President wanted even worse than what she, who had already suspended her conscience so far, was willing to do, and so he forced his Secretary of Homeland Security to resign. How to play Find-the-Bill, and lose L. Rhodes 2019-01-25T00:00:00-05:00 tag:,2019-04-02:agora-polis01252019 At the end of a page I wrote earlier this week to explain my intentions for @ContactCongress, I included the following disclaimer to cover for a particular class of inaccuracies that are almost sure to crop up from time to time: The Blindspots of Conservative Intellectuals L. Rhodes 2018-07-19T00:00:00-04:00 tag:,2019-04-02:agora-polis07192018 For anyone who thought there might be a conscientious brain trust able to conserve some intellectualist core of the Republican Party against the demagogic ravages of Trumpism, I recommend this panel from the latest edition of Democracy. In it, the journal's centrist–liberal editors confront four conservative hold-outs -- David Frum, Liz Mair, Jennifer Rubin, and Peter Wehner -- with a question that strikes right at the heart of that conceit: The Civil and the Polite L. Rhodes 2018-07-04T00:00:00-04:00 tag:,2019-04-02:agora-polis07042018 Lately, I have seen a great deal of skepticism, even cynicism, about civility. That’s understandable. Its reputation has suffered as of late. Bad advocates have invoked it to argue against forms of protest that have just as valid a claim to democratic virtue. Some of these advocates show every indication of sincerity, but we are, by now, so accustomed to bad faith that it can be difficult to tell the difference. On Cacophony L. Rhodes 2018-06-01T00:00:00-04:00 tag:,2019-04-02:agora-polis06012018 In a recent essay for Public Seminar, dissident-journalist Adam Michnik writes about the disorienting political situation in his home country of Poland. In his diagnosis, much of the uncertainty of the era comes of having emerged from dictatorship with no particular destination in mind. The revolutions of 1989, he writes, &quot;were revolutions without utopias. The very thought that communism could be dismantled was utopian enough.&quot; Having achieved that political aspiration, they were soon confronted with a welter of potential alternatives, each competing for attention and consideration. The resulting circumstance as he describes it feels very familiar: Liberty and Equality, Minus the Fraternity L. Rhodes 2016-02-04T00:00:00-05:00 tag:,2019-04-02:agora-polis02042016 Much has been written about the political fault lines shaking the Republican Party this election season. Perhaps because the left hasn’t fielded a candidate anywhere near as bombastic and polarizing as Donald Trump, less has been said about similar tensions rending the Democratic Party. The Anxious Defenders of Liberalism L. Rhodes 2015-09-28T00:00:00-04:00 tag:,2019-04-02:agora-polis09282015 When Donald Trump announced his bid for the Republican presidential nomination back in June, he was introduced by his daughter Ivanka as “the opposite of politically correct.” Since then, much of the garrulous real estate magnate and reality TV star’s campaign has centered on efforts to earn that title. He has railed against Mexican immigrants and derided John McCain’s experience in North Vietnamese POW camps. When asked at the Republican debate in August how he would rebut the charge that he is part of a purported “war on women,” he answered by suggesting that political correctness has made the U.S. less economically competitive. The closest he came to addressing the charge was to tell Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, who had asked the question, “I’ve been very nice to you, although I could probably, maybe not be, based on the way you have treated me. But I wouldn’t do that.” Just the Facts L. Rhodes 2015-04-18T00:00:00-04:00 tag:,2019-04-02:agora-polis04182015 Both because his hijinks are relevant to current events, and because I serendipitously happened on a copy not long ago, I've lately been reading Senator Joe McCarthy, by the late New Yorker political columnist, Richard Rovere. The massive central chapter (112 pages!) contains a brief meditation on &quot;fact-fetishism&quot; — a phrase cribbed from culture critic Dwight Macdonald — that struck me as useful for navigating the pitfalls of public debate. In particular, there are two points worth carrying with us.