Tag Archives | radicalism

The nudists, doctors, and true believers who built vegetarianism

Believe it or not, refusing to eat meat was once considered to be a radical act, reports Vox:

Today, October 1, is World Vegetarian Day. The North American Vegetarian Society started the holiday in 1977, and the International Vegetarian Society picked it up the next year. But the history of vegetarianism in the West stretches back far, far earlier, all the way to the 19th century. And the early days were … well, sometimes they were a bit weird.

Back in the 1800s, people in England first began to organize groups that promoted vegetarianism as a means of preserving animal life. The 1809 founding of the Bible Christian Church marked an early starting point, and other organizations — both religious and secular — followed. As early as 1811, potential vegetarians could find arguments in books like John Newton’s strident testimonial The Return to Nature:


In the ensuing decades, vegetarianism grew in popularity, thanks to advocacy from some religious groups and support from parts of the medical community (one example, from 1838: Vegetable Diet, as Sanctioned by Medical Men, and by Experience in All Ages).

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In Defense of Radicalism

KAZ Vorpal (CC BY 2.0)

KAZ Vorpal (CC BY 2.0)

by Jeff Shantz

In the present period few terms or ideas have been as slandered, distorted, diminished, or degraded as radical or radicalism. This is perhaps not too surprising given that this is a period of expanding struggles against state and capital, oppression and exploitation, in numerous global contexts. In such contexts, the issue of radicalism, of effective means to overcome power (or stifle resistance) become pressing. The stakes are high, possibilities for real alternatives being posed and opposed. In such contexts activists and academics must not only adequately understand radicalism, but defend (and advance) radical approaches to social change and social justice.

The first known use of the term radical is in the 14th century, 1350–1400; Middle English coming from Late Latin rādīcālis, having roots. It is also defined as being very different from the usual or traditional. The term radical simply means of or going to the roots or origin.… Read the rest

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Rethinking Democracy

rubio_jeffersonA pretty compelling read introducing the radical idea that maybe Democracy needs to be reconsidered. Old hat to postmodernism, of course, but maybe it’s time for some mainstream exposure for these notions.

via Salon:

This is what democracy looks like: grotesque inequality, delusional Tea Party obstructionism, a vast secret national-security state, overseas wars we’re never even told about and a total inability to address the global climate crisis, a failure for which our descendants will never forgive us, and never should. Maybe I’ll take the turtle costumes after all. The aura of democratic legitimacy is fading fast in an era when financial and political capital are increasingly consolidated in a few thousand people, a fact we already knew but whose implications French insta-celebrity Thomas Piketty and the political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page (of the “oligarchy study”) have forcefully driven home. Libertarian thinker Bryan Caplan sees the same pattern, as Michael Lind recently wrote in Salon, but thinks it’s a good thing.

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Get Apocalyptic: Why Radical is the New Normal

Angissoq1350collapse0003Robert Jensen writes at YES! Magazine:

Feeling anxious about life in a broken-down society on a stressed-out planet? That’s hardly surprising: Life as we know it is almost over. While the dominant culture encourages dysfunctional denial—pop a pill, go shopping, find your bliss—there’s a more sensible approach: Accept the anxiety, embrace the deeper anguish—and then get apocalyptic.

We are staring down multiple cascading ecological crises, struggling with political and economic institutions that are unable even to acknowledge, let alone cope with, the threats to the human family and the larger living world. We are intensifying an assault on the ecosystems in which we live, undermining the ability of that living world to sustain a large-scale human presence into the future. When all the world darkens, looking on the bright side is not a virtue but a sign of irrationality.

In these circumstances, anxiety is rational and anguish is healthy, signs not of weakness but of courage.

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The Right to Think Dangerous Thoughts

Pic: Felipe Micaroni Lalle

Gabe Rottman writes at the ACLU’s Blog of Rights:

Earlier this month, the White House blogged about its commitment to empower “members of the public to protect themselves against the full range of online threats, including online radicalization to violence,” and announced the creation of a new interagency working group for that purpose. The working group will coordinate the government’s efforts and develop plans—alongside private industry—to “implement an Internet safety approach to address online extremism.”

The White House initiative raises a basic question: Is it appropriate for the government (in cahoots with private industry) to repurpose programs that, for instance, urge consumers to install anti-virus software and protect their credit card information into something that warns them against “bad” ideas?

My colleagues Mike German and Dena Sher have written at length about how “radicalization” models assume, falsely, that you can predict future violence from present sympathies for “radical” or “extreme” beliefs.

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Operation Mindcrime: The Selling Of Noam Chomsky

from Stevertigo at Wikimedia Commons

[disinfo ed.’s note: this original essay was first published by disinformation on November 15, 2001. Some links may have expired.]

Author’s note: This interview was originally published in REVelation magazine (#12, Summer, 1995): 30-38. This piece captures a transitional period in world politics that exerts a powerful influence over today’s Culture Jammers and anti-globalization activists. Post-NAFTA Americans have became aware of the maquiladora; the Zapatistas seized cyberspace; Jose Ramos-Horta has since been honored with the Nobel Peace Prize; Australia has stepped back from Paul Keating’s mid-1990s drive into South-east Asia; Noam Chomsky continues to lecture, teach, and write. The article title, of course, refers to Queensryche’s progressive rock album Operation: Mindcrime (1988), one of the finest portrayals of how ‘radical’ drones can unwittingly become an integral part of the Reaganite entertainment-as-oppression system that they are (supposedly) fighting against.

18 January 1995 was an extraordinary day for Sydney.… Read the rest

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Anarchism and Steampunk

Aerial HouseExploring the radical roots of a popular science fiction genre. Via Airships, Anarchists, & Anachronisms:

Steampunk began as a radical satirical form of fiction, but today it encompasses much more. What precisely is steampunk? As the editors of Steampunk Magazine explain, steampunk is “a vibrant culture of DIY crafters, writers, artists, and other creative types, each with their own slightly different answer to that question.” By its diverse nature, steampunk resists definition. Furthermore, in the ever evolving nature of steampunk, “as each new iteration of the idea be­comes more ambitious, the mutations are delightfully limitless and unpredictable.”

This definition seems in line with Rachel A. Bowser and Brian Croxall’s statement that, “Steampunk is more about instability than any other single characteristic. It resists fixedness by unsettling the categories from which it cribs.” Yet, the authors do provide a definition for those looking for the quintessential steampunk. They write:

That being said, one common element arguably shared by all steampunk texts, objects, or performances is the one on which this journal is predicated: the invocation of Victorianism.

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