Overcoming Bitterness and No Longer Assuming the Worst of Democrats

For decades, I have been obsessed with exposing the Clintons and like-minded Democratic politicians’ dangerous foreign policies, challenging liberal naiveté that ignores or excuses such hawkish proclivities, and underscoring the need to withhold support until they embrace more responsible positions. What I am belatedly discovering, as this campaign season is drawing to a close, is that while such concerns are not without merit, such efforts have ended up contributing to what may be an even bigger problem: the anger, frustration, cynicism, self-righteousness, isolation and other self-defeating tendencies on the left.

“Fighting in the Captain’s Tower”: In Defense of Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize

Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature for songwriting. He is a poet, but his medium is not the page. So yes his lines read different when you take away the music. But by reintroducing poetry to an existing popular musical genre, Dylan opened up possibilities for all poets. What Dylan understood very early is that in an electric age, poetry cannot survive without song.

Ever-Dying People: Review of Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer

Jacob Bloch, the grandson of Isaac, a survivor of the camps, and Julia, an architect who has never had her designs built, have three sons: Sam, Max, and Benjy, wise and lovely kids. Jacob’s father Irv is an outspoken enemy of Arab states and his opinions lean on the rest of the family: his blog manifestos are pretty much the opposite of what you would find in Tikkun. They all live in Washington, DC.  Sam, the eldest of the Bloch children, is studying for his bar mitzvah, but has been caught writing a list of vile racial epithets, quite out of his character, but perhaps under the influence of his grandfather. The rabbi brings Julia and Jacob in to discuss their son’s sin, and threatens to disallow Sam’s bar mitzvah, a much anticipated event that arguably keeps great-grandfather Isaac alive. Sam claims he did not do it, though the words are in his handwriting.

30th Anniversary Special Editorial: Tikkun at 30

Ok, I’ll admit it — I am proud of our role as a prophetic voice for peace, love, environmental sanity, social transformation, and unabashedly utopian aspirations for the world that can be. Over these past thirty years Tikkun has been a platform for young writers to emerge as public intellectuals and for established thinkers and academics to posit groundbreaking philosophies and radical ideas. It has also been a stage for novelists and poets to flex their minds and for spiritual progressives and social change activists to urge self-reflection, inner psychological and spiritual healing, and direct action. Our goal of tikkun olam — the healing and transformation of the world — is far from having been achieved (duh!). But the Tikkun community has made some important contributions along the way, including a perspective on the psychodynamics of American politics which, had it been adopted by liberals and progressives, might have spared us some of the most troubling features of American politics in 2016.

30th Anniversary Special Essay: On Anne Winters’ “The Displaced of Capital”

When I opened the mail back in 2000 and read the poem she had sent me, “The Displaced of Capital,” I knew I was holding in my hands a signature poem. But of course there was no way to know that, following publication in Tikkun, “The Displaced of Capital” would announce the title of her second book, one of the most important and impressive books of poetry in the last 12 years.

War or Peace: The Essential Question Before Voters on November 8th

In the 1992 presidential election, the campaign team of Bill Clinton had the remarkable insight to simplify the choice before the American electorate in November, encapsulating the whole thought process in the phrase “it’s the economy, stupid.” Following this advice, voters ignored the foreign policy triumphs of President George H. W. Bush’s administration, including the recently won war against Iraq to liberate occupied Kuwait, and the slightly more remote “victory” in the Cold War, which Bush recalled to the nation in the forlorn hope of eliciting gratitude. Indeed, going into the elections, the economy was anemic, for cyclical reasons, and it was not to the incumbent’s advantage that this fact be highlighted.

The Ethics and Efficacy of the War on Terrorism: Fighting Terror without Terror? Or How to Give Peace a Chance

On September 11, 2016, although most Americans and virtually all global media will appropriately “remember” the tragic day fifteen years earlier, few will pause to analyze the reasons for the attacks and the “effectiveness” of the world war that has ensued. Even fewer will perform a dispassionate “cost/benefit” analysis of the GWOT, both from strategic and ethical standpoints.In contrast, I argue that the US-led counterterrorist strategy initiated by the Bush administration and largely preserved by Obama’s should be reexamined because it has been shown to be largely ineffective in reducing the global incidence and lethality of acts of political violence Western leaders brand “terrorist.”

Join the Mensch Movement

Earlier in the week, it appeared that the House Democrats felt helpless and perhaps hopeless about the gun situation. Every attempt to pass even small steps to decrease the number of gun deaths have been met with staunch and unflinching opposition from a legion of Republicans walking in lockstep. It took a filibuster in the Senate even to get a vote scheduled, and the House, without filibuster rules, was left with no choice but to break the rules in order to be heard.

Why We Should Prosecute Our Own War Criminals

Another development of equal moment in the news from England was the long-awaited release on Wednesday, July 6th of the Chilcot Inquiry Report. Nearly seven years in coming, this Report presented the findings of an independent investigation chaired by Lord Chilcot that looked into the UK’s role in the Iraq War and particularly into the decision-making process of the country’s leadership.

The Rural Route

The gravestones rose at the top of the hill. They were black or gray, clumped together geometric and precise as if for protection from the outside world. He was mindful of how in the old country, people broke the things of the living and the dead when they vandalized cemeteries.

Brussels and the Body Politic

For many years there has been concern that a terrorist strike on the networks of social connectivity, most commonly understood to include things like power grids, communications networks, and the like, could cause considerable damage to our information-based society. In many ways this concern is warranted, although the primary targets are not those infrastructural networks under corporate control, but rather much more informal networks of face-to-face community formation.

New Poems from Ari Banias: “An Arrow” and “Bouquet”

“An Arrow”

Too often I’d like some direction

but am ashamed of this fact, still I ask for it,

men are supposed be bad at admitting

they’re lost though why men agree

to fulfill this is lost on me. Who cares what men are. Can’t we

scrap this whole enterprise, seriously

top down management

small talk, normative dating. A little box

I fill in over and over, like feeding pennies into a slot

it leads somewhere I think

I’m saving them. For when?