Category: Politics

Madness and Civilization, Revisited

“For the madness of men is a divine spectacle: In fact, could one make observations from the Moon, as did Menippus, considering the numberless agitations of the Earth, one would think one saw a swarm of flies or gnats fighting among themselves, struggling and laying traps, stealing from one another, playing, gambling, falling, and dying, and one would not believe the troubles, the tragedies that were produced by such a minute animalcule destined to perish so shortly.”  ― Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason. 1961. America struggles with mental health: we are in the...

Shrump II: Madness, Fascism, and Resistance.

Silence from the country’s mental health organizations has been due to a self-imposed rule about evaluating public figures. But this silence has resulted in a failure to lend our expertise to worried journalists and members of Congress at this critical time. We fear that too much is at stake to be silent any longer… We believe that the grave emotional instability indicated by Mr. Trump’s speech and actions makes him incapable of serving safely as president.

Shrump I: Post-Democracy in America?

Before I get started, let’s introduce a new term that helps us to appreciate the differences between words, their meaning, and reality itself. You may wonder what a “shrump” is. If you google it you will find that the definition is still in flux, and ranges from a “pickled shrimp” to a twitter hashtag, and to what I am suggesting here, namely a bump in the forest floor. Look at the picture on the left. It’s only a shrump if there is a mushroom underneath. The most intriguing aspect of this kind of object is that you can’t know what it is until you look...

US Election 2016: How to lose a Democracy.

Since election day a week ago, people have been protesting every night in the Bay Area and across the United States. I went to the demonstration yesterday, and want to share some impressions and photos. This family-friendly event on Sunday afternoon was called “Hands around Lake Merritt.” The goal was to bring out enough people to surround Lake Merritt, in the middle of Oakland, with a human chain. The lake has a loop of about 3.5 miles, and the event was announced through Facebook and Twitter. The organizers calculated that they needed around 4000 people. Many more showed up –...

God bless America!

You wake up and realize that a dystopian vision has become reality: America just became Trump University. There is no termination clause in the contract, and the sale is final. What went wrong? Hillary won in terms of absolute numbers, but lost the election. She received 48% against his 46.5%, or around 3 million votes more than Trump, out of 120 million votes cast. This is a replay of Gore versus Bush in the year 2000, when Gore won the vote count, but Bush won the Presidency due to the Electoral College system. Americans love their Constitution, but it has some serious flaws: The...

Europe: What now?

When I grew up in West Germany in the 70’s and 80’s, I learned French in High School, and I participated in a student exchange program that sent us young Germans to live during the Summer months with French families, while their teenagers came to our homes. I learned that the Germans and the French belong together, in the words of one of our Chancellors, we are a “Schicksalsgemeinschaft,” a community created by a shared destiny. These experiences were deeply emotional for us, because we had also visited the battlefields of Verdun, and we knew that our grandfathers had fought...