home Must Reads Must reads: Populism, sexism, cloning, and rudeness

Must reads: Populism, sexism, cloning, and rudeness

Good morning! This week we’re delving into longreads on the present and future of women, the groundwork for Trump, and…cloning? Follow us down the rabbit hole, please drop your favourite reads of the week in comments, and stay tuned this week, because we have an exciting announcement coming up!

The Populist Ploy‘ (Win McCormack for The New Republic)

Some of the most astute predictions about the rise of Trump came not from leftist visionaries, but sharp conservative thinkers — which is perhaps a sharp reminder that reading conservatives can provide valuable insight into preventable situations.

But unlike the old kind of populism that struck terror in the hearts of the Founding Fathers, the “new populism,” as Kristol dubbed it, was nothing to worry about. In his view, the sentiments of the people now represented a “common sense” reaction against the “un-wisdom” of the elites. What was needed, he believed, was a strong leader who could rally the masses to reclaim American democracy from the clutches of liberal intellectuals, institute a faith-based government, and bind the nation together by preaching an assertive nationalism.

Female Fighters Series Re-examines Women’s Rage Around the World‘ (Eve Ensler for Guernica)

Women militants are often dismissed, belittled, or treated as secondary to their male counterparts. Society rarely allows women to respond to oppression with violence, to consider violence as a rational and reasonable reaction, and Ensler challenges this notion through conversations with women fighters.

I have interviewed women guerillas in the mountains of the Philippines and the indigenous Lumads fighting back against the mining corporations stealing and poisoning their lands, women in US prisons involved in the Black Liberation movement in the US imprisoned for violent acts. It is clear in joining militant movements that women escaped traditional oppressive gender role assignments in every society. Every woman I spoke to talked about rage, rage and helplessness in the face of state power. For them, becoming an armed militant was a way of expressing political outrage and not being rolled over by the neoliberal, racist, capitalist patriarchy. It was a way of keeping dignity and fighting for their families and land and traditions and life itself. It was a way of surviving.

The Age of Rudeness‘ (Rachel Cusk for the New York Times Magazine)

The social contract that governs our conduct is faded, disrupted, chaotic. What does that mean for the way we interact with each other, and the world? Can we reclaim an age of manners?

The social code remains unwritten, and it has always interested me how many problems this poses in the matter of ascertaining the truth. The truth often appears in the guise of a threat to the social code. It has this in common with rudeness. When people tell the truth, they can experience a feeling of release from pretense that is perhaps similar to the release of rudeness. It might follow that people can mistake truth for rudeness, and rudeness for truth. It may only be by examining the aftermath of each that it becomes possible to prove which was which.

The Men in My Office‘ (Cass Cross for Catapult)

The editorial team at Catapult are consistently developing some of my favourite longreads on a regular basis — I stop by at least once a week for absolutely stunning work. This layered, complicated, lyrical piece about being a woman in a world that hates women is a superb read.

Now there is only one man in my office who will hold a conversation with me without looking self-conscious. We are at a happy hour after a work conference where we talk about being writers. The conversation means something to me; it is raining outside and the bar is crowded and loud and we have all come from the conference and I am happy to talk about the thing I love best. Then we talk about our office. It turns out that he knows the story already. It turns out everyone knows the story, just as I feared. I’m so happy, I could kiss you right now. I drink. I drink so much that later I will have to walk past my car and keep walking. I ask, is it something, or is it nothing? He hates the boss, too. Everyone hates the boss, wants him out, wants this to be something.

Hello Again, Dolly‘ (The Economist)

I have a vivid memory of hearing a report about Dolly the sheep on Morning Edition and the series of conversations the earthshattering event sparked — what would cloning mean for society? 20 years later, we still aren’t sure.

Instantly understandable to an excited Mrs Walker—“I knew we had done what we had thought we had done”—the fax had been kept terse and cryptic because the breakthrough was, at the time, hush-hush. The existence of Dolly the sheep would not be revealed to the world at large until the following February, when a scientific paper was published in Nature—at which point a furore broke out that went far beyond the scientific world.

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