Psychology

One way in which the lives of contemporary urban dwellers must differ from those of most people in the 250,000 years of anatomically modern human history is in not knowing our neighbours. In a small settlement in a time before widespread travel and privacy, you would probably know everybody. Now, many of us couldn’t pick […]

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George Monbiot’s career advice for aspiring journalists may apply at least as much to civil servants and academics: You want to be free? Then first you must learn to be captive. The advisers say that a career path like this is essential if you don’t want to fall into the “trap” of specialisation: that is […]

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“Nothing sways them from the habit—not illness, not the sacrifice of love and relationships, not the loss of all earthly goods, not the crushing of their dignity, not the fear of dying. The drive is that relentless… If human life was so simple that people learned from negative consequences, well then human history would be […]

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Activism depends on more than just idealism. It is not enough that people be attitudinally inclined toward activism. There must also exist formal organizations or informal social networks that structure and sustain collective action. The volunteers were not appreciably more committed to Freedom Summer than the no-shows. Their close ties to the project, however, left […]

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First, to a remarkable extent, they have remained faithful to the political vision that drew them to Mississippi nearly a quarter century ago. Second, they have paid for this lifetime commitment with a degree of alienation and social isolation that has only increased with time. The political and cultural wave that once carried them forward […]

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As radical an organization as SNCC had always been, its modus operandi had remained but an aggressive variation on the “petition the masters” strategy. Its approach depended upon the federal government’s willingness to respond to “moral suasion,” albeit of a forceful sort. Events in Mississippi had undermined SNCC’s confidence in such a strategy. But it […]

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Using credentials borrowed from sympathetic delegates from other states,a contingent of MFDP [Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party] members gained access to the [1964 Democratic National] convention floor and staged a sit-in in the Mississippi section. The sight of black Mississipians being carried from the convention floor by uniformed, white security officers was but the ultimate ironic […]

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Therein lies their significance. For historical currents do not irresistibly propel themselves and everyone in their path. No matter what their broader structural or ideological roots, they both carry along and are carried along by people, who are not merely the passengers of history, but its pilots as well. In the end, social history is […]

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The Atlantic has an interesting article by Kurt Anderson about why so many Americans believe the crazy things they do. He argues that it’s both rooted in history and particular to the ideologies and self-understanding of the United States: America was created by true believers and passionate dreamers, and by hucksters and their suckers, which […]

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When we think about global trends, we tend to focus on their importance and how rapidly things are changing. China’s economic rise, along with massive economic development and urbanization around the world, all have unambiguous importance, though we will endlessly disagree about how they will interact and few of us will live long enough to […]

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