HomeUncategorizedRemembering Anthony Bourdain’s Commentary On Israel/Palestine (And More)
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Don midwest
Don midwest

The Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World

The Ordinary Virtues Examines How Trust, Honesty, and Respect Can Glue a Fractured World Back Together

I have sorta noticed this guy. An academic, politician, public intellectual, wide ranging career.

As readers here know I am enamored with Bruno Latour. So when I saw the review of 4 books on secularism by Michel in the New York Review of books, I did my thing which is to do a search of his name and Bruno Latour. (I learned from Bruno that secularism which was one of the big deals of the enlightenment, but has never worked.)

Michel ran for Prime Minister in Canada and was roundly defeated and now is the rector and head of the Central European University.

This book of his is in line with the life work of Anthony Bourdain.

Q: Are there any virtues under threat by larger institutions or trends that you’re particularly worried about?

A: Trust is the one. The limited trust that we need to have democracy work is in a lot of trouble. Electing somebody to go to Washington, for instance. Our capacity to trust these men and women has been eroded by 40 to 50 years. But you can’t run a democracy without trusting representatives to some extent. The way we get that back is a matter of good behavior: You get one good representative doing their job, being accountable, and not saying one thing while doing another. It’s performative, this stuff. There’s no way to give some big message to the world about how you restore trust.

Trust is that when a senator goes to Washington, she does her damn job. By showing people that she’s doing her best in a difficult situation, she reproduces trust. I’ve been an elected representative so I know how hard this stuff is. And there are no general lessons at work. You have to show up to the meetings in the community. You have to remember people’s birthdays. And if you say you’re going to vote for something you damn well vote for something. If you can’t vote for something you then have to explain that to people. Trust is performative in that way. And our democracy depends on people being willing to do that.

Q: What lesson do you hope people might take from this book?

A: We need to treasure ordinary virtue and the moral operating systems that bind strangers together, and we need to do everything we can to understand how these moral operating systems work. We need to understand how they sustain communities. We need to look unflinchingly at what happens when they break down, and we need to understand what we do to repair them.

Don midwest
Don midwest

Article by Michael in NY Times

Doing a search on his name found this 2007 article

interesting take on politics and the wisdom of the man on the street vs. the academic or us ordinary people

I am going to write him and mention Bruno Latour who he probably knows. The philosopher Graham Harman goes through Bruno’s work on politics in a book and at the start Graham invents concepts to deal with the wide range of Bruno’s work in politics. Graham invents Truth Politics and Power Politics. Each of them have a left and right version and all of the above in some way are against or for Bruno’s conception.

The important point is the nature and importance of policics.

The rest of this is from Michael’s NYT article Aug 5, 2007

Getting Iraq Wrong

first 2 paragraphs

The unfolding catastrophe in Iraq has condemned the political judgment of a president. But it has also condemned the judgment of many others, myself included, who as commentators supported the invasion. Many of us believed, as an Iraqi exile friend told me the night the war started, that it was the only chance the members of his generation would have to live in freedom in their own country. How distant a dream that now seems.

Having left an academic post at Harvard in 2005 and returned home to Canada to enter political life, I keep revisiting the Iraq debacle, trying to understand exactly how the judgments I now have to make in the political arena need to improve on the ones I used to offer from the sidelines. I’ve learned that acquiring good judgment in politics starts with knowing when to admit your mistakes.

the third paragraph – the more I read it, the better it gets and what will be in the fourth paragraph? I did scan it, but it didn’t sink in yet …Can see from this paragraph Truth Politics vs Power Politics …

The philosopher Isaiah Berlin once said that the trouble with academics and commentators is that they care more about whether ideas are interesting than whether they are true. Politicians live by ideas just as much as professional thinkers do, but they can’t afford the luxury of entertaining ideas that are merely interesting. They have to work with the small number of ideas that happen to be true and the even smaller number that happen to be applicable to real life. In academic life, false ideas are merely false and useless ones can be fun to play with. In political life, false ideas can ruin the lives of millions and useless ones can waste precious resources. An intellectual’s responsibility for his ideas is to follow their consequences wherever they may lead. A politician’s responsibility is to master those consequences and prevent them from doing harm.

wow! next paragraph. No wonder he has won so many awards and had such a wide ranging career

I’ve learned that good judgment in politics looks different from good judgment in intellectual life. Among intellectuals, judgment is about generalizing and interpreting particular facts as instances of some big idea. In politics, everything is what it is and not another thing. Specifics matter more than generalities. Theory gets in the way.

Bernie comes out of the mold of an authentic politician and shows the inability of establishment politics to deal with what is going on.

Please read the article and maybe you can figure out how to incorporate in US politics

Don midwest
Don midwest

Still sitting at my computer and not getting to what I have to do here at home

I have gone to Chautauqua in NY State a few times and often been disappointed about their ties to the establishment. But I tried my trick of searching for Michael and Chautauqua to see if he had ever been invited. They are heavy with Harvard, Ivy League Speakers, NY Times, etc.

He didn’t come up on the search but there were articles and one a couple of months ago about his fight for academic freedom by the university in Hungary that he now heads. He wrote this article.

The role of universities in an era of authoritarianism

Academic freedom matters

Until we got into this jam, I never really thought that hard about academic freedom. It seemed to be one of those little perks that middle-class educated people get to have.

We need to be very clear about how we are seen and we need to turn the language of academic freedom as our privilege into academic freedom as a right that protects us all if we are going to defend universities in the 21st century.

We are not just fighting for a corporate privilege for ourselves; we are defending a counter majoritarian institution whose function is to serve and protect and defend the whole society’s capacity to know anything at all. That’s why academic freedom matters. If we defend it as a corporate privilege, we are done for. And that’s a central message that I have learned.

The second message is that we need to understand the crucial way in which academic freedom is one element of a counter majoritarian fabric that is integral for the health of a democratic society.

As a university president, if you ask yourself what do I need institutionally to make sure that academic freedom in my institution is secure, you will come up with the rule of law and constitutional review, independent accreditation bodies, self-governing professional associations, scientific bodies that are able to do any kind of peer review, a formal right of consultation about impending legislation, parliamentary review of higher education legislation, a free press, university autonomy and, above all, you need to be part of an international structure of independent scientific peer review.

Another point which is relevant to globalisation of higher education: visa regimes are now the chief choke point in every Western democratic country restricting the capacity of universities to freely choose who they want to admit to their programmes.

One further point: these authoritarian regimes are increasingly creating national universities to teach public administration to control their future bureaucracy. This is another challenge to academic freedom. Why does this strategy have any support? What I’ve learnt is that it has support from local universities who resent international competition.

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