Author: J Andrew Zalucky

Against Fatalism: The Limits of Money in Politics

Stories like the leak of the Panama Papers make for a great outrage-fest at the sneaky tactics of the rich and powerful to hide their money away. Likewise, statistics that show massive sums donated to political causes by rich companies and individuals are great for whetting populist appetites. Political commentators relish the opportunity to declare that “money in politics” is more pervasive than it’s ever been before. But the rich have always had outsized influence on the political process. And this truth is not limited to the modern liberal democracies of the United States and Western Europe. It goes way back into the Western heritage. In her recently published book about the history of ancient Rome, Mary Beard describes the political environment of the republic in terms modern readers may find strikingly familiar: The poor could never rise to the top of Roman politics; the common people could never seize the political initiative; and it was axiomatic that the richer an individual citizen was, the more political weight he should have. More than 2000 years …

Regaining a Sense of Sanity in an Age of Social Media

For those of us who follow politics and current events, it’s hard not to feel cynical. The cultural practices of manufactured outrage, sensationalism and professional offense taking seem to have set us on course for a total cultural burnout. Things can still get better, but cultural recovery begins with individual improvement. I joined Facebook back in 2005 and came of age with everything since then, so maybe I’m just a little burned out. At this point, my indifference at being part of the “Facebook generation” has morphed into shame and resignation. True, public discourse has always been a little over the top in The United States. When I hear people say, “I miss the good old days when people were nice to each other,” I think, “what the hell are you talking about? Do you remember the 90s?” None of this is really new. But our current epoch is indeed unique. It’s incredible how frequently we see things like public shaming, and harassment used for the most minor transgressions. And no side has a true …