—Aaron Cantú focuses on the War on Drugs and mass incarceration, social inequality and post-capitalist institutional design.
“If mayors ruled the world: a conversation with Benjamin Barber,” by Jonathan Derbyshire. Prospect, November 22, 2013.
This is an interview with Benjamin Barber, who imagines a world where “inefficient supra-national institutions” are displaced by a global system of networked urban centers. He argues that nation states are not only too massive to sustain “bottom-up citizenship, civil society and voluntary community,” but also too sovereign to competently address inter-dependent challenges like terrorism and climate change, and only a global cosmopolis led by a parliament of super mayors can lead us out of crisis. His explanation is a little muddled when he tries to explain whether there is an ideal size to which cities should grow, and his discussion of a “pragmatic, post-ideological” future induces horrible flashbacks to Obama’s first presidential campaign, but he is surely not the only thinker who feels our 17th century public institutions are too outdated to handle the challenges of the 21st.
—Owen Davis focuses on public education, media and the effects of social inequality.
"STEM: Still No Shortage," by Freddie deBoer. Medium, November 27, 2013.
It's become a truism that the US needs to bulk up on STEM subjects—science, technology, engineering and math—if we want to be the hale and vigorous superpower we once were. Freddie deBoer dispels the myth, showing that job prospects for STEM grads are actually quite slim, and that humanities majors have a better chance at employment. He points out the irony that the technologies lauded for employing STEM majors are in part responsible for the displacement of professional workers and increasing automation of production.
—Hannah Gold focuses on gender politics, pop culture and art.
“Girl trouble: we care about young women as symbols, not as people,” by Laurie Penny. New Statesman, November 30, 2013.
Every week I am inches away from picking Laurie Penny's column at the New Statesman as my article highlight. This time, the topic is young girls and self-esteem. A recent study by Girlguiding found that 87 percent of women ages 11-21 think they are judged more on their appearance than their ability. Penny argues that this should be expected in a society that is by-and-large addicted to treating women, young girls in particular, as symbols of sex, purity, ambition and so forth. "Girls know perfectly well that structural sexism means they can’t have everything they’re being told they must have," writes Penny.