Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

4 Reasons Why the European Left Has to Stick Up For Immigrants and the EU

Last week we talked about British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s cunning plan to allow Brexit to go forward in the hope that he and his party might take power in 2020 or 2025 and use restored national powers to move Britain sharply to the left. It’s politically tempting for some on the left to return to the nation state–many working class people in many countries want to see tighter controls on immigration and a renewed emphasis on national sovereignty, and if the left triangulates on these issues it might make itself more competitive with these voters in the short term. Some on the left now believe that international institutions are irredeemably neoliberal, that there’s no prospect of regional or global cooperation to restore the tougher tax, wage, and regulatory policies of the post-war era. Right nationalists are doing well, and the fight between nationalists and internationalists seems to be one the internationalists are likely to lose. So why chain ourselves to creaking neoliberal institutions like the European Union? Surely this is an albatross the left can do without, right? This all may sound plausible, but it’s a big mistake.

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How to Think About the Michael Flynn Scandal

A few people have asked my opinion on the Michael Flynn scandal. As I understand it, anonymous sources from within the intelligence community have leaked to the press that Flynn, President Trump’s National Security Adviser, was in contact with the Russian government prior to Trump’s inauguration and lied about his connections. Further leaks claim that Trump knew about this, and that other members of his team were also in contact with Russia. Flynn has resigned. If there was contact, this contact would be illegal under the Logan Act, which prohibits private citizens from conducting US foreign policy. Violators of the Logan Act can go to prison for three years. Many Democrats want to use the Logan Act to go after the Trump administration, while the Trump administration prefers to emphasize the illegality of the leaks:

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A Judge Judy Think Piece

The internet is often full of aesthetic think pieces. It’s easy to write them–you identify some show or artist that’s captured the attention and the artistic sensibility of your readers, and you make some vague connection between the themes of that art and some current issue. On prestige websites, you can often find writers pumping out think pieces about prestige programs. Often it’s some big critical hit on HBO like Game of Thrones, or an edgy Netflix original series like House of Cards. These are thought to be the important shows, because they’re the shows our social, cultural, and political elite enjoy. Think pieces get lots of clicks, because they make us feel that the stuff we’re watching, reading, or listening to really matters. But do they matter? The most popular Game of Thrones episode was watched by about 8.9 million people. A new season of House of Cards gets seen by about 5 million. Meanwhile, every week, like clockwork, 10 million people watch Judge Judy.

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Corbyn’s Brexit Long Game

Initially I found British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit strategy bizarre. He campaigned to remain in the EU, but not very hard. Then after leave won, he decided to have the Labour Party support the government’s decision to invoke Article 50, using a three line whip to punish Labour MPs who defied him. Two-thirds of Labour voters opposed Article 50–why was Corbyn so intent on preventing Labour MPs from voting their consciences, from voting the way their own supporters wanted them to vote? Why would Corbyn alienate so many party supporters and young activists who had opposed Brexit? Why wouldn’t he take this opportunity to place his party firmly in the remain camp, so that if and when the government’s Brexit plan fared poorly, Labour would be in position to say “I told you so” and reap electoral gains? Is Corbyn a fool after all, or is there some strategy to this that I was missing? I think I have this figured out–Corbyn does have a plan, but it’s not the sort of plan most people expect or want him to have.

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How Postmodernism Undermines the Left and Facilitates Fascism

Lately when I’ve discussed the implications of political violence with some people on the left, they’ve responded by appealing to postmodernism. These people undoubtedly have good intentions, but I fear many of them are not recognizing the corrosive  and counterproductive effects that postmodernism has on politics.

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