To understand the capitol insurrection, we don’t have to look all the way to Germany

Ever since the attempted insurrection at the capitol on January 6th, the fascism debate has once again sprung to life. Is Trump fascist, is Trumpism fascism, are Trump supporters fascists themselves? While the debate can be useful in the urgency that it provides, I believe that it’s much more telling to look at the precedents to Trumpism that fall closer to home. By focusing on the particular circumstances of post-WWI Europe, we can miss some of our own troubling past.

Historically, the rise of fascism was attributed to many things: the humiliation of losing an important war, a mass base…

(Illustration by GraphicaArtis/Getty Images)

One of the most powerful ideas that American conservatives have ever created is the that of the Silent Majority. Brought into the popular imagination by Richard Nixon in the 1960s, the Silent Majority is the law-abiding, middle class mass of Americans that pay their taxes, go to church, and just want the same opportunities as everyone else. The threats to their safety change over time. Sometimes it’s politicians and big government, sometimes it’s gang members and criminals, and sometimes it’s even the rich elites. …

Selection on the importance of public control and the common good

William A. Peffer was a publisher and politician that served as the senator of Kansas from 1891 to 1897. He was one of the few Populist Party members that made it to the US Senate, but he only served for one term and was more influential in much of his writing. In 1890, before serving in the Senate, he wrote a pamphlet “The Way Out” which called for democratic control of the money supply and interest rates. Some of the reforms he laid out were implemented in some form later, but even today the piece serves as an eloquent defense…

What a Depression-era movement can teach us about responding to economic crises

A self-help cooperative during the Great Depression

In 1929, the bottom fell out of the US economy. After a stock market crash and a run on the banks, the economy spiraled deep into depression as the government spun its wheels in desperation. What started as a simple recession slowly warped into a twenty percent national unemployment rate and a massive contraction in all parts of the economy.

The Great Depression impoverished a huge chunk of the country, driving hundreds of thousands of people into Hoovervilles: shanty-towns named after the president that many felt had put them there. As the Hoovervilles swelled and the newly unemployed looked for…

The land of the American Dream is becoming the new face of American poverty

Mobile home community
Mobile home community
Source: Google Maps

America is a suburban nation, and not by accident. Our current geography was built over decades by very intentional government and market action. The Federal Housing Administration made it easier to obtain a mortgage (for some people), the Federal Highway Act made it easier to get in and out of the cities (for some people), and then racism, public policy, and massive disinvestment pushed many former city residents into the surrounding suburbs. As a result, now just over half the country lives in a neighborhood they would describe as suburban.

These trends tend to form our baseline image of the…

A Response to a Bad Op-Ed

The 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg

As the extent of our climate crisis becomes clearer and the voices for changes become stronger, it is inevitable that the arguments made for the status-quo are going to become craftier. In just the last twenty years, people have gone from “the climate isn’t changing” to “the climate is changing but not because of us” to “sure, we’re changing the climate but the ideas to fix it are too crazy.” Yesterday, the New York Times published a new flavor of that last argument in an op-ed by editor of the defunct conservative magazine The Weekly Standard, Christopher Caldwell. …

How the American Dream rose from the dead, and how it died again

America has always had a unique history. While it was formed as a European colony with European settlers, its development was always distinctly non-European. The old world was weighed down with millennia of history and constantly short on space, but the new world seemed to be opposite: completely new and endlessly expansive. These differences were developed even further in the American Revolution, introducing the ideas of republicanism and equality to an already extraordinary society.

The ideal of a independent yeoman farmer, as depicted in the 1870s

What this actually looked like on the ground, at least theoretically, was known as Jeffersonian democracy. Under this system, everyone owned a certain amount of land…

What to do when the free market can’t provide a basic right

The history of American housing over the last decade has been a history of crisis. From the subprime mortgage crisis to the skyrocketing rents in cities across the country, it is clear that the current system isn’t working. People have offered various solutions: build more housing, regulate mortgages, or even (gasp) rent control. But at the end of the day, none of them eliminate the underlying driver of all these problems: profit motive. The subprime mortgage crisis came to be in the first place because banks wanted to package subprime mortgages with more desirable mortgages and pretend they were all…

They’re all bad, but some are even worse than the others

This cluttered intersection of crappy campaign signs serves as a metaphor for the 2020 logo designs

In 2016, we saw our first election where every candidate tried to have an actual logo. There was such a wide array of logos, and many of them had their own unique, interesting twist. 2020 is not nearly as good, though there are some things worth pointing out.

15. Andrew Yang

The tricky business of uniting the Hispanic community and harnessing the Obama legacy

Julián Castro is probably not going to be president. The latest Morning Consult tracking poll had him at around on third of 1%, despite being one of only a handful of candidates to have officially announced his candidacy. But that doesn’t mean that he isn’t worth talking about. He’s the first HUD Secretary to run for president, he’s by far the most prominent Latino to run for president, and it’s clear that he’s trying to juggle a lot of different elements in his run. And what better lens is there to observe his candidacy through than his logo.

Karl Stomberg

Somehow idealistic and cynical at the same time

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