It feels like it was March just yesterday, but September is upon us. The Olympics are over, the Paralympics are about to begin, the G20 has wrapped up, Britain is struggling with Brexit, and much, much more is happening around the world. Today, we’re taking a look at what some of the thinkers of the world…are thinking about! We also want to hear from you: What are you reading? What would you like to read more of here? Join in the comments!
Economic development in China is on everyone’s minds this week, as China hosts the G20 and indicates an interest in expanding into more world markets. But what does that look like in practicality? Who wins and who loses? Take a ride along the ‘new Silk Road’ to find out.
But what is Beijing trying to achieve with its Silk Road plan? Does the Chinese leadership want to promote economic development in nearby and faraway countries and “bring together” the world, as it insists in its government propaganda? Is it because Chinese companies need globalization to bolster their stuttering economy and create new export routes for surplus production of goods, as well as routes for importing oil? Or is the real goal to break the West’s political dominance — a plan, in a sense, to conquer the world?
‘How Conservative Media Learned to Play Politics‘ (Politico)
Conservatives, and the conservative media, have learned how to exploit social attitudes to optimum effect. This is a fascinating narrative of the story behind conservative media’s rise to power and influence in the United States, articulating why it continues to carry so much weight today.
Though little remembered now, Clarence Manion was in many ways the godfather of modern conservative media. His radio program, launched in 1954, foreshadowed the talk radio revolution of the 1980s and 1990s. And his use of a relatively new medium to amplify his message looks a lot like innovators on the right-wing web today. As a radio host, he spotlighted rising conservative stars, fought to roll back the New Deal and organized grassroots conservatives desperate for some form of activism. And he also decided to try to change American politics directly: He led a conservative media team that organized a third-party ticket to challenge the re-election of Dwight Eisenhower.
‘On Change in India‘ (Guernica)
India is a nation in rapid transition, but it’s also one of radical inequalities. Siddhartha Deb takes viewers into the gulf between haves and have-nots in lush, elegantly sketched scenes of modern India.
It is difficult even to get an estimate of the number of migrant workers in India. The government census of 2001 considered 307 million people, or 30 per cent of the total population, as migrants. In this assessment, however, the census was merely counting people who had moved away from their places of residence, and not the reasons for their migration. The authors of the UNDP report on migrant workers, in contrast, have figured that there are around 100 million “circular” migrant workers in India.
In the tech industry, the user is the product — and the product is highly profitable. That’s what makes the private provision of what should be public services unsettling, as it may come at a cost higher than many realise until it’s too late to do anything about it.
Providing access to the internet is a noble cause, particularly in parts of the world where it is severely limited or even non-existent. But should this infrastructure belong to a private company like Facebook, or should it be state-owned and maintained? Far be it from me to question the true nature of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s philanthropy, but no matter how charitable a cause Facebook is championing, its primary aim is to make money – often from monetising its users’ data.
Teaching the Holocaust can be fraught and complicated — what is age appropriate? When and where should teachers start talking about it, and how?
Like the Atlanta public school system, New Orleans’s Recovery School District is made up overwhelmingly of students of color. My new first-graders live in some of the roughest neighborhoods in New Orleans. My school is an hour and a half’s drive from Baton Rouge, where Sterling was killed. It was founded in 1955, during Jim Crow, as the legally all-black neighborhood elementary school. Daniel on the Upper East Side had never known firsthand what it was like to face prejudice, to be stereotyped, to experience racism. His parents were able to shelter him from these things — they had the privilege to opt out, to table these lessons for later (or to avoid teaching them forever). My students and their parents do not have this option. They face obstacles and have struggles to which I will never have to, and can’t pretend to, relate.
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Photo: Han Cheng Yeh/Creative Commons