Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: John Stuart Mill

What I Think in 2020

Now that the Bernie Sanders movement is comprehensively failing, it is time for those of us who supported it to take a step back and reflect. We can only learn from defeat if we are willing to be honest with ourselves and recognise it as such. This post is more autobiographical than most of what I run here. The aim is to do some hard introspection about how I came to support the Sanders movement and where its downfall leaves me, politically.

Read the rest of this entry »

Miguel Salazar Wants You to Think Marxism is Racist–But He Doesn’t Want to Own It

There’s a piece by Miguel Salazar in The New Republic that’s been doing the rounds for the last week or so. As a political theorist, I find it a very strange piece. Salazar seems to think historical materialism is racist but refuses to provide any arguments for this. When pushed, he maintains that he is simply reporting the views of people in and around DSA outlets. But this isn’t what his piece says–he very clearly portrays historical materialism and Marxism more generally as a “hardline”, fringe thing and then vaguely and non-specifically associates that position with racism.

Read the rest of this entry »

Kim Davis: When Civil Disobedience is Used for Evil

Kim Davis has just been released from prison. Davis is the infamous Rowan County, Kentucky clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. Clerks are elected (bizarrely, Davis was elected as a democrat), so Davis cannot be summarily fired. Instead, she was taken to court and ordered to issue the licenses. She appealed, but the Supreme Court refused to hear her appeal. She continued refusing to issue licenses anyway, and was jailed for five days for contempt of court. She vows to continue refusing to issue licenses. So far, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway (another democrat) has declined to appoint a special prosecutor to charge Davis with misconduct. When Davis was released from prison, she was greeted by throngs of supporters led by US Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Ted Cruz was also in attendance, but Huckabee’s people succeeded in marginalizing him. The reaction from people to this has been very interesting–nearly everyone is being a hypocrite about Kim Davis (including Kim Davis), on all sides.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Oklahoma Racism Scandal: Why It’s Wrong to Punish the Students

The University of Oklahoma was recently scandalized when footage emerged in which members of the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon sang a revoltingly racist song:

This should make us think long and hard–how are young people acquiring racist beliefs? What are the social, economic, and environmental factors that lead young people to think negatively of other people based on their racial background? To what extent is wider society influenced by these same factors? How can we mitigate them and create a more fair and just society? But we’re not asking any of these questions. Instead, we’re going after the students and patting ourselves on the back for not being racist. That’s a mistake–here’s why.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Case for “Death with Dignity”

Brittany Maynard, a 29-year old newlywed, recently learned that she has terminal brain cancer. Brain cancer is an awful way to die–sufferers often experience morphine-resistant pain, personality changes, and loss cognitive and motor skills. So she decided to relocate to Oregon, one of 5 US states that has a “death with dignity” law, allowing people with terminal disease to commit assisted suicide. On November 1, she intends to kill herself. Should euthanasia be permitted? Under what circumstances might it be ethical? These are the questions I pursue today.

Read the rest of this entry »