the EPOCH JOURNAL
VOLUME X ISSUE II
War Speech by Noah Burns
History Yet to Be Made by Matthew Manotti
Elephant in a Room on a Rampage by Cyrus Schiller
plus How to Raise Money and
Influence People & A Changing Environment WINTER 2017
the EPOCH JOURNAL winter 2016
volume x, issue II
editor-in-chief Sawyer Neale layout editor Stuart Lombard BUSINESS DIRECTOR Ivan Syritsyn editorial board Sawyer Neale Grace Villmow Stuart Lombard Ivan Syritsyn Matthew Manotti Morgan Ballard-Wheeler Columnists Morgan Anastasi Noah Burns Stuart Lombard Matthew Manotti Cyrus Schiller contributors Noah Burns Ivan Syritsyn Grace Villmow Sam Jones © 2016, The Epoch Journal disclaimer The Epoch Journal is produced and distributed in annapolis, maryland. opinions expressed in articles or illustrations are not necessarily those of the editorial board or st. john’s college. mailing address st. john’s college 60 college ave. annapolis, md 21404 submissions are you interested in writing for the epoch journal? we are currently looking for submissions — for more information, contact sawyer neale at email@example.com. 2
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Editor’s Letter P
resident Donald Trump. These three words, even long after the election, still ring through my ears, as the hair at the back of my neck stands on end. Clearly, the allegedly rich businessman has tapped into anxiety about the economy and anger with the political status quo, but through what means? In a campaign season nastier than any I’ve seen or heard, an alleged sexual abuser ravaged by scandal managed to beat arguably the most qualiAssuming [Trump] continues to be fied presidential candidate we have seen in the the leader that he has promised since history of our country. This election represents both a potential announcing his candidacy in 2015, we will need to fight back. complete paradigm shift in how politics are run in the United States, as Morgan Anastasi details in his piece An Intellectual Foundation for the Next Four Years, and a potential opportunity for growth. The Democratic Party lost this election, and decisively so -- we may have won the popular vote in the presidential race, but our minority status in both houses of Congress remains unchanged. In his article Elephant in a Room on a Rampage, Cyrus Schiller attempts to make sense of where the Democrats ran wrong. As an open and avowed liberal, I find myself troubled by the fact that our vision of the future is failing to connect with much of the American public, but see a bright future ahead of us. The Democratic National Committee is still in the process of deciding the next party chair, but the appointment of Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to prominent positions in the Senate Democratic caucus give us a good indication of a potential future of the party, one which is wholeheartedly committed to our vision of social justice as well as economic justice. These next four years will be hard for many of us, both on the left, and many a principled conservative on the right, such as Matthew Manotti who provides a sociological account of Trump’s election and the problems resulting therefrom in History Yet to Be Made. but regardless of how upset we may be at the results of this election -- any many are rightfully upset at these results, we cannot stand down. For those drawn to public service as a way to affect positive change, Ivan Syritsyn offers tips for aspiring politicians in his article How to Raise Money and Influence People. As for me, I still sincerely hope that President-Elect Trump fulfills his promises, detailed in his November 9th victory speech, to be a president for all Americans, regardless of their skin color, religion, class, or who they love. However, assuming he continues to be the leader that he has promised since announcing his candidacy in 2015, we will need to fight back. To bring back a saying used ad-nauseum over this election, we are, in fact, stronger together, and we need to make that clear. ■
- Sawyer M. Neale, Editor-In-Chief WINTER 2016
CONTENTS 5. War Speech
by Noah Burns (A’18)
8. Elephant in a Room on a Rampage by Cyrus Schiller (A’19)
11. How to Raise Money and Influence People by Ivan Syritsyn (A’19)
14. Our Environment
by Grace Villmow (A’20)
18. An Intellectual Foundation for the Next Four Years by Morgan Anastasi (A’18)
21. Walking The Party Line by Sam Jones (A’20)
24. A Changing Environment by Stuart Lombard (A’19)
28. History Yet to be Made by Matthew Manotti (A’18)
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War Speech BY NOAH BURNS
was browsing the “New Releases” section in the college bookstore a few weeks ago, and after quickly glancing over a few titles, I stayed my eyes on one. It was a collection of American anti-war writings called No More War, which includes songs, poetry, speeches, essays, short stories, and other written materials. I glanced at the back cover to see who was included in the anthology, and was pleased to see many names that deserved to be there, such as Edna St. Vincent Millay, Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau, and Kurt Vonnegut, among many others. I was disappointed not to see Noam Chomsky, who, whatever you think of his ideas, has been one of the most powerful critics of American wars in the country’s history. I was also disappointed to see only one short essay by Howard Zinn, which does not contain his sweeping arguments against all wars, which are quite interesting. I was most surprised to see included an entry by Barack Obama. Although, as the editor’s introduction to his speech reverentially points out, Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, as president he pursued eight years of expanding global war, including an assassination program that his killed thousands, more troops in Afghanistan, airstrikes in Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Iraq, and the use of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) to fight dirty wars and fund and train militants throughout the Middle East. (For a comprehensive account of the second War on Terror
from its origins in the 1990s through the Obama administration, see Jeremy Scahill’s book Dirty Wars.) As William Hartung wrote in a must-read article from July 26th 2016 at Tomdispatch.com, called ‘How to Arm a Volatile Planet,’, “During President Obama’s first six years in office, Washington entered into agreements to sell more than $190 billion in weaponry worldwide – more, that is, than any U.S. administration since World War II.” The regimes who have received these weapons: vicious dictators and repressive governments in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. Hartung also notes that the Obama administration has loosened regulations on foreign arms sales, allowing 36 counties, including Erdogan’s Turkey, to buy weapons from U.S. manufacturers without a State Department license. The most egregious case is the continued, ongoing support of Saudi Arabia’s (and its coalition’s) attack on Yemen. Saudi Arabia has been bombing Yemen since 2015, using US made cluster bombs, which release many smaller bombs that do not immediately detonate and often injure curious children, and using other US made munitions (and also receiving US logistics and intelligence cooperation, as well as refueling) bombing hospitals, neighborhoods, schools, and public spaces. So far, the Saudi bombing campaign is estimated to have killed around 3,000 civilians, and is a major factor currently putting millions of Yemenis at risk of starvation. WINTER 2017
But Obama’s later policies do not make the refuge of the grave and denied it…” his speech not anti-war. The content of the speech is what makes it not anti-war: while Obama lists Whatever the military or those who agiseveral reasons why he is opposed to the Iraq war, tate for wars (but do not fight them) might say including that many Americans will die, it will be about only targeting the bad guys or only targetvery expensive, it will make the Middle East more ing civilians is either a lie, stupidity, or madness. unstable, and the war is a distraction from domes- This is obvious, stupidly obvious, but like with tic issues, there is not one single word anywhere many truisms, we have convinced ourselves that in it about the effects of a war on Iraqis. Obama there can be such a thing as a “targeted airstrike” did not once mention the innocent Iraqis who that only kills the bad guys, and that it’s okay to would inevitably be killed as a result of Ameri- bomb other people’s cities, fields, and countries can bombing and occupation. In other words, because we are only “unintentionally” killing cihis critique was not that killing innocent people vilians. If I blew up a building full of people, and is wrong, but that it would not be advantageous claimed when rightly arrested and prosecuted for to kill these particular innocent people. Perhaps murder that I didn’t intend to kill the people, just that sounds too harsh. We don’t to destroy the building, you would War vocabulary is say that I was either insane, stupid, kill innocent people, at least not intentionally: we are a force for or lying. Whatever the explanation, often designed to good in the world, we think. And shield us from the I would not successfully claim that yet we don’t think about these the deaths of the people killed by consequences for the consequences of our war policies the bombing were “unintentional” very often, or we only think about people on the other or “accidental.” And yet, these side of our bombs. words are constantly used by highly them in embarrassingly superficial ways (“We will be greeted educated and supposedly intelligent as liberators” comes to mind). and sane people to describe the vicWe have to ask: What are we really doing? As tims of our bombs, drones and missiles, like the Mark Twain observes in an essay included in the children accidentally blown apart by a US cruise No More War anthology, called The War Prayer, missile in al-Majalah, Yemen in 2009, or the prayers to grant our troops victory contain a sec- thousands of civilians killed by the US bombing ond, implicit prayer. A sample of it: of Baghdad in 2003, which is not described as a war crime, because those deaths were, of course, merely “unintentional.” But if we consider the predictable consequences of our actions to be our Lord our God, help us tear their intentions, as we must, then there are no “uninsoldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help tentional” civilian deaths from our airstrikes. us to cover their smiling fields with the pale War vocabulary is often designed to forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown shield us from the consequences for the people on the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of the other side of our bombs. We conduct “kinetic their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to operations,” “targeted killings,” and “precision lay waste their humble homes with a hurristrikes” as part of “counterterrorism operations” cane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of against “high value targets” in “denied areas.” In their unoffending widows with unavailing real language, these are terms for killing people, grief; help us to turn them out roofless with usually by blowing them to pieces with missiles their little children to wander unfriended in or bombs, often people who haven’t been conthe wastes of their desolated land in rags and victed of any crime, and sometimes people whose hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames in identity is not even known. (For more on the tarsummer and the icy winds of winter, broken in gets of US drone strikes, see The Drone Papers, spirit, worn with travail, imploring thee for
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leaked classified documents hosted at theintercept.com.) War terminology also often helps us feel good about the force we use by casting us as the good guys, by definition. The words “aggression” and “defense” are classic examples. Anything we do will always be labeled “defense,” since good people don’t want war and we are good people. People who don’t want wars don’t start them, and only fight them in self-defense or defense of others. Therefore, everything we do is “defense.” Our “Defense Department” is perhaps the most blatant example of this. (As a side note, if we have a Department of Homeland Security, and it isn’t doing the same thing as the Department of Defense, and we are using the normal definitions of the words that we are supposed to believe apply here, then what is the Department of Defense defending exactly?) Conversely, our enemies, who of course are not good, do start wars, and are therefore labeled as “aggressive.” We are never “aggressive,” except in the cause of righteousness. “Terrorism” and “counterterrorism” are very similar. “Terrorism” means any violence that we don’t like. “Counterterrorism” is the violence we commit when it is directed (at least partially) at people who are committing violence we don’t like, i.e. terrorists. Therefore, unless we disapprove of our own violence (which we can’t, since we only use violence for defense) we can never be terrorists. 9/11 killed over 3,000 innocent people, which, as I said above, was approximately the civilian (innocent person) death toll from our initial bombings of Iraq in 2003. The September 11th attacks are universally condemned (including by me) as a horrific terrorist act. Our “counterterrorism” bombings are, at most, criticized by people like Barack Obama as “dumb,” or “a mistake.” People who call them “terrorism” and “war crimes,” like Noam Chomsky, do not appear even in anti-war books. This is because such criticisms are clearly illogical, given the definitions of the terms of war speech. The incoming Trump administration is unpredictable in many ways, especially on foreign policy, but will likely increase the historically high military budget further. (Although it should be noted that, even if he continues the
policies of the Obama administration, that will mean a global war on terror, extrajudicial assassination, arms transfers to totalitarian regimes, and more. It is not as if Trump would be a uniquely violent president: most of the most extreme powers he will have he can thank Barack Obama for.) If those weapons are to be used, and are not being made for show, we must remember what they will be used for, and what really follows from our war speech. ■
Elephant in the Room on a Rampage: Democrats Trampled BY CYRUS SCHILLER
or Democrats like me, 2012 was a great year. The year saw the re-election of modern liberal icon Barack Obama as President of the United States, and the results heralded a promising electoral future for the Democratic Party, in which an emerging majority consisting of Hispanics, young people, African Americans, and women would usher in an era of Democratic dominance, with the GOP diminishing into a regional party and splintering into various bickering factions. Fast forward to 2014, and the Republicans manage to keep a lid on the insurgent Tea Party, which they had hitherto been unable to do, spelling trouble for the Democrats, who were smugly and prematurely taking victory laps ahead of the next presidential election, confident that the Republicans would never again win another national election. The Democrats believed that the Republicansâ€™ dismal standing with women and minority voters would make the Democrats the dominant party in the United States. They believed while ignoring their own inability to win congressional races in the flyover states. The 2010 Tea Party revolution, which defeated numerous moderates in both 8
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parties, saw the Republicans seize control of the House and dent the Democratic majority in the Senate. However, the Tea Party insurgency also botched numerous winnable races for the Republicans, and in some instances led to Democratic pickups. In 2014, the Republicans made sure this did not happen, and a wipeout ensued. The Democratic gains in the House in 2012 were mostly erased, and the Senate fell to the Republicans. The Democrats mostly mounted weak campaigns this time, which were focused mainly on painting their Republican opponents as extremists while trying to seize the middle ground for themselves and being as uncontroversial as possible. Numerous Democrats even shunned any association with President Obama, due to his unpopularity in many of these competitive congressional districts. These conservative Democrats failed to give voters any reason to elect them, since they were essentially moderate Republicans in all but name. After the wipeout, I blamed the Democratsâ€™ defeat on insufficient enthusiasm from its liberal base and the active suppression of more activist
voices in the party by the Democratic leadership. I was incensed in early 2015 when it seemed likely that Hillary Clinton would be the only major contender for the Democratic presidential nomination. Surely, I thought, there is someone with the guts to take on the complacent Democratic establishment and talk to the American people about the important issues, instead of airing the same fear-based platitudes about how the Republicans were at war with women or about how they would deport children of illegal immigrants. To me and others like me, Hillary Clinton was the very symbol of the sort of smugness and entitlement I had come to detest from mainstream politics. I saw her as the sort of out-of-touch, flip-flopping insider whose brand of decaf liberalism I associated with the Democrats’ defeat. Not surprisingly, I was quite taken with Bernie Sanders when he announced his candidacy and I supported him in the primaries. With his loss, I moderated my opinion on Hillary Clinton, once it became clear that the alternative to her was Donald Trump. As much as I didn’t like Clinton, I could never in the right mind support Donald Trump, and I assumed, like many Americans, that Trump would be easily defeated and, at worst, things would remain more or less the way they are. I still had misgivings about her ability to win an election though, and prior to Trump’s entry into the race, I thought the Republicans would nominate some Romney-esque establishment candidate like Jeb Bush, who would keep a relatively moderate tone so as not to draw the ire of minorities and women. This seemed like the most viable path forward for the Republican Party, after the results of the 2012 autopsy came in. However, I did not yet realize that Republican voters were as fed up their establishment candidates as I was with mine. Then, the 2016 presidential primaries arrived; and a brash real estate mogul from New York named Donald Trump enters the race. Over the course of the brutally long election season, this man would singlehandedly upend everything Americans took for granted about their political system, to the delight of some and the stomach turning disgust of others. “Gaffes” of the sort Romney made in 2012 were nothing
compared to the things Trump said every time he opened his mouth. Political and media elites in both parties were convinced he could not win, and the Republicans repeatedly underestimated the self-funded businessman, who proceeded to shatter the fourteen spineless nobodies that the Republicans threw at him and coast almost effortlessly to victory in the primaries. Once he was the official candidate, the Democrats were smugger than ever, superbly confident that no matter how slow the economic recovery had been, and no matter how frustrated Americans were with their economic and political system, they would not elect a shameless bigot with no governing experience to be the leader of the free world. And yet, in spite of almost all general election polls and media predictions, this New York billionaire with gold-plated toilets became the voice of working class America. Many, including myself, were utterly shocked when Trump ascended to the presidency the night of November 8, catapulted by the “blue wall” states of Pennsylvania, Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin, all states that Democrats had carried handily since 1988, as well as larger-than-expected margin of victory in the swing state of Ohio. How did this happen? Where did the Clinton campaign go wrong? The answer lies simply in the reality that the Democrats took too much for granted. Trump remorselessly offended just about every voting bloc in the country and had no ground game to speak of; and that gave the Democrats reason to believe that they had the race locked up from the start. Their strategy, in keeping with their Republican-lite gimmick, was to entice moderate GOP voters repulsed by Trump into the Democratic fold. Senator Chuck Schumer even said, regarding Pennsylvania, that the Democrats could afford to lose working class and rural voters who supported Democrats in the past because they would be compensated by picking up twice that number in disaffected suburban voters who previously supported Republicans. That flawed strategy points to the root of the Democrats’ problem. By forsaking the populism of the past that made them the dominant party from 1932-1968, the Democrats have WINTER 2017
trouble resonating with working class voters in the heartland of the country. While remnants of that age remain in some Democratic policy, the party overall experienced a rightward shift during the Reagan years, as it sought to emerge from a string of devastating presidential election losses. This more centrist Democratic party was good for the purposes of appealing to educated professionals and suburban voters, and may have somewhat delayed the South’s transformation into a GOP stronghold for a few more years, but it did little to assuage the concerns of blue collar union
As someone who in many ways is the epitome of an out-of-touch, East Coast liberal, I say it is time for the Democrats to emerge from their bubble and start reconnecting with all Americans, regardless of what their opinions are.
workers in the Rust Belt and in the big cities. These people had been facing declining economic fortune since the 1970s, as industrial patterns changed, hurting the manufacturing sector. They were the “Archie Bunker vote” during the Nixon years, and the Republican president cultivated their support as part of the larger backlash against the counterculture and the civil rights movement, which alienated them from much of the Democratic Party at the time. Interestingly, Trump’s opposition to “Political Correctness” echoes this very same backlash in its present form, as student activism and the Black Lives Matter movement confound much of white Middle America to this day. Trump won because of his combination of economic populism, nationalism, and his brash outspokenness. In short, the Democrats need to re-adopt economic populist policies from their golden age and speak out against economic problems if they wish to remain a viable party in the heartland, as well as keep a more moderate tone on social issues. I recognize that I may have angered a great many people when I say this, but as a bona fide social liberal, I mostly agree with the aims of 10
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the social justice movement. I just think that the Democrats need to broaden their outreach to include people they might not always agree with on everything. There is inevitably a generational and religious divide when it comes to social issues, and the Democrats need to downplay the divisions as much as possible in order to attract people to their economic message. In the end, the economy and national security, not the culture war, are the most important things. It is worth noting for both sides that just because someone is on the other side of the culture war, it does not mean he or she is a bad person with concerns that are not worth listening to. We are all Americans, and we are all struggling through this difficult time. The Democrats need to be the party of all people, including, but not limited to, African Americans, Hispanics, LGBT people, Immigrants, Asians, and bicoastal urban and suburban liberals. As someone who in many ways is the epitome of an out-of-touch, East Coast liberal, I say it is time for the Democrats to emerge from their bubble and start reconnecting with all Americans, regardless of what their opinions are. ■
How To Raise Money and Influence People BY IVAN SYRITSYN
n this article, I will seek to lay out information which will be useful to any aspiring politician. The ways to success may differ according to each individual’s situation, but they all share common traits. All paths share some necessities that need to be acquired and some pitfalls which need to be avoided. It is thus crucial to know what one should keep an eye out for. After all, politics can be like a house of cards: one wrong motion can make it all tumble down.
1. Going into politics is no cheap matter.
The 2016 election cycle saw a total of $2.5 billion spent all in an effort to get candidates elected. Fundraising is often the difference between the success and failure of any campaign. The more money a candidate has earlier on, the easier the path to victory. In the 2004 general elections, 95 percent of House races and 91 percent of Senate races were won by the candidate who spent the most on his campaign. This isn’t only true for any one campaign but for the whole of somebody’s career. Money flows to where the power is -- if someone wants to track a candidate’s fun-
damental positions it will pay off pretty well to see where that candidate received the money that started his or her career. As far as data shows, small donors are good for talking points, but the big donors are the ones that get a person elected. A data chart of the 2010 source of funds for congressional candidate breaks it down in the following manner: 11% comes from candidate self-funding, 23% from PACs (Political Actions Committees), 13% from small donations by individuals, 48% from large donations by individuals, and 5% from other miscellaneous sources. This pattern seems to hold largely true both for those seeking national and state offices. If the pattern does ever change it does so with large individual contributions taking up more space in higher offices, such as for Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) comprising 66%, and candidates on lower levels having to heavily rely on their own pockets. Looking at the slate of the Congressional races this Nov in Virginia it is easy to see that every winning candidate had 100% to over 1000% more percent funding than the losing one. The difference this money makes is particularly emphasized in more contested races, such as that in District 5, where Jane Ditmar WINTER 2017
raised $1,151,763 in comparison to Tom Garrett’s $524,428. Neither of them had incumbent advantage. Jane won. This pattern holds true for every state whether it is a swing state or not. Therefore, if a person wants to run for office they need to have some well-endowed friends, or friends who can channel strong backers. The alternative to this is to facilitate a very strong and passionate grassroots movement among individuals and small time donors. The most recent and famous example of such a movement would be that of Bernie Sanders. His campaign, Bernie Sanders 2016, raised a total of $228,171,330, and was comprised largely of small donations ($134,684,156 or 59.03%). This sort of campaign still, to some degree, relies on major individual donors however, as evidenced by the $97.1 million contributed by them in this instance. However, this is not a reason for despair. There are almost always contributors and organizations which share the beliefs of candidates and are willing to contribute to them. People band together for all sorts of reasons and a candidate looking for support needs to be passionate, clever, and in the right place. After all, people who have shared the beliefs of any candidate in the past spent their time and energy to make the lives of their successors easier. Why not take advantage of such opportunities? Most people do. A lot of times though, die-hard supporters cut straight from one’s own cloth are not enough. One also has to battle over the support of swing supporters, corporations like Pfizer, AT&T, and Motorola, who are not committed to any particular side. These sort of donors are not primarily ideologically driven. Often, they end up splitting their donations nearly evenly between the two parties. These supporters are usually always available to grab and their existence can be of great benefit to any novice candidate, except for when the candidate is running against an incumbent.
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2. The worst opportunity for a candidate to kick start a career is against an incumbent.
In what is known as the incumbent advantage, incumbents enjoy the support of majority of PACs and swing-contributors. The types of groups which a candidate running against an incumbent can bet to get support from are ideological and single issue groups, along with labor unions. Yet these prefer to direct their money towards the incumbent 75% of the time. So, the following lesson can be drawn from this: statistically it is better for a candidate to wait rather than run against an incumbent. The incumbent has both the advantage in terms of donors and the people, to whom the candidate can say, “You’ve elected me and I therefore have experience, unlike my opponent.” Exceptions to this are dependent on extraordinary circumstances. One such extraordinary circumstance is the election of Gov. Ted Strickland (D-OH) who had the misfortune of taking office in Jan 2007, right before the full swing of the Great Recession. This was cataclysmic for his future prospects. As the incumbent, he took both blame and praise alike. In this instance it was the blame of governing one of the worst affected states in the nation. Being thus tainted he lost, albeit narrowly, to the Republican challenger John Kasich in 2010. That such events can have long term effects can be seen in the fact that Gov. Strickland lost his bid for U.S. Senator this past November, after being campaigned against as “a governor who ran the state's finances into the ground.” However, cataclysms are not the only events which can lead to opportunities for newcomers. Incumbents and establishment figures often provide the nails for their own coffins in the form of scandals. Another governor, Jim Gibbons (RNV), had a stellar record. As a Nevada native, a war hero, and a Congressman, he had all the makings necessary for a successful governorship. However, it wasn’t the Recession that did him in. It was a series of scandals, including extramarital affairs, which made Gibbons morally repugnant to the Nevada GOP leadership. They feared los-
ing both donors and the public. So Gibbons ended up losing the 2010 GOP primary to his successor, Brian Sandoval. Sandoval has gone on to win two gubernatorial elections. This is the power of scandals over incumbents. They always have some effect. However, they are most effective when both true and indisputable. Reputation takes a lifetime to build but only seconds to destroy.
3. Every aspiring politician should have the ability to find and keep talented advisors.
Advisors serve an important function and are often the crux behind every politicianâ€™s support system: no one can be a specialist at everything. This can be quite problematic, especially if someone is asked to manage a project without having the best background for it. At this point one either has to find an advisor or face the prospect of bad performance. The better choice is obvious. Throughout history there have been various pairs of statesmen and their advisors. Augustus and Agrippa, Louis XIII and Richelieu, Carter and Brzezinski are some of the more famous examples. Although in more recent times leaders have favored panels of advisors, the ability to make sure that those advisors have certain qualities is still relevant and crucial. It is important that advisors are capable, innovative, and loyal. To have an advisor who is either going to end up as deadweight or sell-out to the other side is worse than to have no advisor at all. An advisor who simply does what is told is bearable but serves limited use. Someone who is intellectually flaccid may help bear the load of whatever comes up but does not contribute the necessary brainpower needed for growth and addressing concerns. Therefore, it is good to develop the discernment needed for finding advisors who are not only capable but more than walking corpses. The earlier this potential can be found and the advisor brought into the fold the better. It will allow for the advisor to be an organically integrated part of the team. â– WINTER 2017
Our Environment Where We’ve Been, Where We’re Going
BY GRACE VILLMOW
he question on our minds the past month or so has been, “How badly can he mess this up?” But when it comes to the state of our planet, the question becomes, “How badly have we messed this up?” The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed on November 8th that the earth’s average temperature has risen 1 degree Celsius since we first started recording in 1880. With 2015 as the hottest year yet, 2016 set to top it, and 2011-2015 as the hottest 5-year period on record, the consequences of climate change take place in the form of extreme weather phenomena and a general trend of heat, which is why most people use the terms “climate change” and “global warming” synonymously. It should be noted that although the earth’s temperature is increasing on average, the term “climate change” more accurately describes the situation because it takes into account that the temperature in certain areas may stagnate or even decrease due to local weather patterns. The way climate change presents itself in our day-to-day lives is subtle or even nonexistent, but looking at weather trends over time, such as 2011-2015, allows us to better examine extreme events and how they relate to our planet’s increasing temperature. Many people still have their doubts about 14
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whether or not climate change is caused by humans or not. This is a valid concern before critical analysis of the situation. After all, the earth has gone through different stages across millennia where temperature has risen and fallen, and these trends have had absolutely nothing to do with human existence. But around the mid-1700s to the mid-1800s, humans started to affect the planet in a different way than any animal had ever managed to do before. Britain’s Industrial Revolution marked the shift from predominantly rural, agrarian societies to urban societies focused on manufacturing products. This dynamic is typically how we separate first world countries from third world countries today - whether or not they have industrialized. It was during this era that people started mass-producing not only goods, but also pollution. Greenhouse gasses, like CO2 and methane, absorb heat and act as a blanket around our planet. Without the greenhouse effect, our planet could not sustain life. Before the Industrial Revolution, the balance of gasses that kept Earth at an average temperature of 15 degrees Celsius remained within a 1-degree Celsius range for about 10,000 years. That number has since been nudged up to 16 degrees, as more countries industrialize and produce more greenhouse gasses.
It is the general scientific consensus that modern climate change, specifically this upward trend in temperature, is caused by humans. The pictured graph shows the average yearly temperatures that NASA has recorded since 1880 - the temperature increase is clear, and no, it’s not a coincidence. But climate change isn’t proven by graphs alone. Mathematically speaking, all those heat-trapping gasses that we produce can’t just disappear or stop trapping heat. The earth could warm up naturally like this, yes, but just because it has happened naturally in the past does not mean that humans aren’t involved now. This article is intended not to convince human-caused climate change deniers, but to analyze how the next four years will play out in the long run in terms of environmental policy and effect. That being said, I encourage any readers that have doubts about the plausibility of human-caused climate change to think critically before calling it a hoax made up by the Chinese. So, our question: How badly have we messed this up? That depends on how you’d define “messed up”. A global temperature increase of 1 degree Celsius has not been the end of the world, but we have seen some of the damage
it has done, especially in recent years. We’ve always had droughts, hurricanes, and severe weather occurrences, so no one is directly blaming California’s drought or last year’s El Niño on climate change. However, the comprehensive report published by the WMO on November 8th of 2016, The Global Climate 2016, analyzed whether or not human-caused climate change could be directly correlated to individual extreme weather events, and found that human-caused climate change increases the risks of these events, which include heatwaves, droughts, rainfall, and floods. Highlighting some of the most costly climate change-caused natural disasters of the last 5 years – the hottest 5-year period on record – The Global Climate 2016 is a clear reminder that this is not something for our children to worry about; this is something we are paying for right now. 2012’s Hurricane Sandy cost the United States over $67 billion in damages. 2015’s heatwaves of India and Pakistan took over 4000 lives. Oh, and to protect the rapidly-depleting Los Angeles Reservoir and combat California’s severe drought - which is still ongoing – the city of LA emptied 96 million “shade balls”, or black plastic spheres with a 4-inch diameter, into the water to WINTER 2017
the tune of $34.5 million (34 cents a ball). They work fantastically to prevent evaporation and algae growth, but if emptying millions of balls into our water supply isn’t a desperate cry for help, then I don’t know what is. Our economy is already suffering from climate change, and this is only the beginning. 113 of 197 countries have ratified the Paris Agreement, of which the “central aim is to strengthen global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels”. Why 2 degrees Celsius? Mostly because we regard the 2 degree Celsius mark as the point of catastrophe, but the truth is, we really have no idea. Some scientists see 2 degrees as an arbitrary goal set to unify nations, others foresee disaster from complete ice cap melts to mass extinctions. Most likely, we’ll at least see an increase in the severity and length of droughts and heatwaves to the extent that it may unsettle the global food supply. At the 2-degree mark, most scientists also agree that oceans will rise up to several feet, displacing millions of people that live in coastal areas. In fact, Justin Gillis, a science reporter for the New York Times, has already detailed how and where coastal flooding due to climate change is already occurring in his telling article: Flooding of Coast, Caused by Global Warming, Has Already Begun. The title says it all. And don’t forget, food supply disruptions and displacement of millions are only some of the effects climate change will have on humans. To discuss the integrity of our plant as a whole is too big a topic to span one article. But how badly can Trump mess this up? The answer is “a lot” on a small scale and “not much” on a large scale. While we laud President Obama for his progressive environmental policies, he did not actually pass a single major environmental law throughout either of his two terms. Part of that is because Congress would not let him, but I think he also tended to focus more on other noble pursuits, like universal healthcare. Obama’s greatest environmental achievement actually hinged on a law passed by Nixon in 1970, the Clean Air Act, to increase regulations on a 16
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broad range of pollutants from mercury to soot. The Clean Air Act is useful because it’s meant to be flexible, so as time goes on, the EPA can keep returning to it and interpreting it more and more progressively. Of course, this has not been met without reservation. Many Republicans liken Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which goes before the Supreme Court in early 2017, to a “war on coal”. And conveniently enough, one of our President-Elect’s campaign promises was to revive the coal industry. But before we talk about that, let me make a few things clear: Trump can lower regulations, but overturning the acts established in the 1970s by a Republican administration is not something he can easily do. And while he claimed that he will “cancel job-killing restrictions on the production of American energy, including shale energy and clean coal”, he cannot stop investors from throwing money at green energy companies. And, no, he cannot bring the coal industry back – it would struggle to compete with cheaper, more efficient natural gas even without government regulation (also, clean coal doesn’t exist. CO2 is produced through burning coal regardless of how it us done, and the “clean” title only comes from the capture and storage of this CO2, usually underground). This article is not intended as fearmongering. The next four years are a step back. Maybe even several steps back; or come January 2017, we might even be running backwards. It is what it is. But looking realistically at what a Trump administration will do to the environment, it’s important to keep a few facts in our mind:
• Trump cannot stop an entire industry. The next four years will be brutal on renewable energy companies and we should do all we can to support them, but this is not the end of green energy.
• The Paris agreement was never mandatory. Even if Trump withdraws our country from it, the reality is that it never meant that much to begin with. It’s a sad truth, but the truth none-
theless. The UN has very little power.
• At this point, the damage has already been done. 1 degree, 2 degrees. 3, 4, 5. We’re already experiencing droughts, heatwaves, extinctions, coral bleachings, and ice meltings. These will continue to get worse, but humans will continue on. It’s the rest of the animal kingdom that will suffer the most, and the opposition to environmentalism has made it clear that appeals to the integrity of our planet and life itself mean nothing to them. Our focus now should be damage control and preservation of what we have. The time to plan for the future has passed; climate change is happening now.
• Even if we do get our act together, there are a dozen other countries just now entering their own industrial revolutions - or some equivalent - that relies heavily on the cheapest and most environmentally-damaging resources, namely coal and oil. They will do just as
much damage as we have done, maybe even more, and making the renewable energy industry cheaper than traditional energy sources is the only way to combat this. Unfortunately, with Trump as president, I do not foresee this happening anytime soon.
under your feet and the food on your table. Millennials will be paying for most of the damage done to our environment so far, and it will be a far greater burden than any decreased regulations on carbon or coal will be able to alleviate. It is not fair, it is not right, but it is our duty to keep fighting for conservation, no matter how much conservatives themselves fight back. In the face of an already dire situation, I have confidence in our generation to help keep it from getting worse, even if the next four years are a massive blow. But a major change must be made: our earth must be prioritized over our economy. Until we find another habitable planet, Earth is the only one we have. Forget this whimsical idea that you can just go live on Mars once we terraform it - if we can’t even spare some jobs in coal country, what makes you think we’re suddenly going to invest in space travel? What we need to do now is acknowledge that industries evolve, and jobs lost during this transition will be replaced in a new era of clean energy. No one is complaining that lightbulbs hurt the candle industry or that air travel hurts the boating industry, so there is no reason to complain about renewable energy companies and government subsidies towards them. We must acknowledge that environmentalism only hinders our economic progress if we keep fighting it, and even if it is expensive now, the preservation of life itself is more important than a few extra dollars in our pockets. ■
lease, please don’t get discouraged. Giving up is the worst possible thing to do at this point. Life precedes humans, and life will go on after humans. To my fellow students, the best way to combat these steps backward – and this does not just apply to environmentalism – is to keep doing what we are doing, and that’s getting an education. Educated people are the natural enemies to any administration that spits in the face of clear scientific evidence. Trump, while a major misstep during a crucial era, is not the end of environmentalism. So while you fight for your rights for the next four years - marriage, reproductive rights, healthcare - remember the ground WINTER 2017
An Intellectual Foundation for the Next Four Years Politics and Campaigning in a Post-Trump America
BY MORGAN ANASTASI
he recent triumph of Donald J. Trump over Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2016 presidential election demands that we develop a new foundation for how we understand the political world. Trump’s victory astounded and astonished most of those who relied on traditional legacy news-media, defying expectations so thoroughly that it demands that we reconsider the most fundamental axioms of our political life. Indeed, the results of the election demand a clean break with the hoary and antiquated maxims which we have inherited from countless generations - a Cartesian reconsideration of what we have uncritically accepted. To begin this project, I wish to articulate a handful of principles which we may use to guide in our interpretation of the events of the next four years.
hierarchy is dead–long live non-linearity! In the broadest and most gen First,
eral possible interpretation, the recent election was a referendum on the notion of linear politi18
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cal hierarchy. In one sense, Secretary Clinton represented a dismantling of traditional gender and racial hierarchies in the liberal pursuit of the universal, homogenous state. In another sense, however, she represented the further entrenchment of hierarchies based on familial ties, wealth, and network - Secretary Clinton’s status as a veteran Washington insider with close ties to Wall Street banks and Beltway lobbyists, as well as her sham-primary which appeared to be closer to a coronation ceremony than a legitimate democratic process is nothing else but the entrenchment of top-down hierarchical insider politics. Trump is almost exactly the inverse - he represents the further deepening of racial and gender hierarchies, on the one hand, but -- as a political outsider and independently wealthy businessman -- the utter obliteration of power structures which depend on deep networks, deep familial ties, and deeppocketed donors on the other. One must simply look at the structural differences of the two campaigns to see these differences laid bare: Secretary Clinton ran a tra-
ditionally hierarchical campaign, with the candidate delegating campaign get-out-the-vote activities to state and local party offices. Her campaign was essentially similar to every Presidential campaign since FDR. Trump, in contrast, had very little help from GOP national and state apparatus, and the amount of local support he received varied wildly from place to place. Trump instead ran a decentralized and grassroots campaign based around massive rallies where the candidate was able to communicate directly with tens of thousands of supporters. Trump’s campaign also displayed a deeper and more intuitive understanding of the nature of digital technology and viral social media. Trump used provocative and often humorous posts on social media to devastating effect in both the primary and general election campaigns. These provocative posts frequently dominated news cycles for days or even weeks, allowing the candidate to effectively control and manipulate the media narrative to his advantage. In short, Secretary Clinton embodied the old-school, pre-digital, hierarchical, centralized, and linear values of a pre-Internet world. Trump, however, showed us the future of politics in a digital world: non-hierarchical, de-centralized, viral, non-linear, grassroots and entirely unpredictable. This is sure to be one of the guiding principles of the next four years: linearity and hierarchy are dead, and de-centralized, viral and rhizomatic politics are here to stay.
universality is dead–long live the particular! Trump’s campaign mes Next,
sage was deeply concerned with particularistic attachments - the attachments one has to one’s own town, one’s own family, one’s own church, one’s own neighbors, et cetera - over and against the neoliberal consensus that all particularistic attachments are morally indefensible forms of racism. Trump also appealed to the notion of national sovereignty - which is necessarily the sovereignty of this or that nation and therefore particular - against anti-democratic neoliberal supranational confederations such as NAFTA and NATO. Secretary Clinton, in contrast, echoed the global financial interests in her dream of hemi-
spheric open borders and a worldwide common market. This attachment to a particularistic view of national sovereignty hearkens back to Aristotle’s original conception of a polity: a specific group, with a specific shared identity, in a specific place (frequently, but not always, surrounded by walls), with clearly defined notions of who is and is not a citizen. Secretary Clinton’s platform, in contrast, supports what has been called the “universal and homogenous state”, in which every adult human being is a full and utterly equal member. As political philosopher Leo Strauss explained in his illuminating debate with Alexander Kojeve, the development of a universal and homogenous state represents a grave threat to the possibility of the philosophical life. The philosopher seeks to live the best life, which necessarily requires judgements of better and worse, and therefore a concrete articulation of good and bad. The universal and homogenous state which was the goal of Secretary Clinton’s campaign regarded any notion of better or worse ways of life as morally indefensible prejudices, and any articulation of good and bad as merely relative opinions or beliefs, with no validity in the world beyond the individual who holds the belief.
The final principle that needs be described
here is this: attention is the most valuable
currency in 21st century political life.
From the beginning of the campaign, Trump had a devastating advantage over the seventeen Republicans and five Democrats who stood between him and the Oval Office: his ability to dominate the attention-span of the entire nation. This proved to be more valuable than the entire Clinton political machine, which consisted of top talent from Secretary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and President Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, and which was surely the largest, most comprehensive, and most expensive campaign apparatus ever assembled. Trump starved this massive apparatus of the oxygen it needed to survive -- through his provocative statements he captivated the attention of a nation. Nearly every day brought new controversy to the front-pages WINTER 2017
of every media outlet in America, while Secretary Clinton’s more low-key approach was often either a footnote or overlooked entirely. In the new media landscape where e-mails, Facebook notifications, posts on Twitter, and text messages all crowd thick and fast to demand one’s attention, anyone who wants their message to be heard must distinguish themselves from this ordinary background noise of technological life. And the only way to do that is to be louder, more provocative, more humorous, and, in general, more interesting than that background noise. Perhaps the politics of the future will not be based on policy or philosophy, but on comedy. In accordance with this final principle of Post-Trump politics, the political figure who will be most successful will be they who can craft the wittiest joke, the cleverest retort, and the most outrageous soundbite. ■
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Walking The Party Line BY SAM JONES
ovember 8th, 2016. That’s the day Donald Trump was elected our nation’s next president. That was the date we marked our 239th year of peaceful transition of power here in the U.S. It was the day we came together as a people and made our voices heard, exercising our right and our duty to vote. It was also the day which preceded an absolute outpouring of anger, fear, and general upsetment. Articles began appearing, warning that a Trump win meant that America had finally accepted it was a nation of racial bigotry. Social media was abuzz with people claiming that this was the end of our nation, or even our planet. Protests broke out in the streets, all across the nation, and D.C. was absolutely swarmed with picket signs (carrying messages with varying levels of politeness). It isn’t hard to see that a large portion of the nation was, and still very much is, scared of the results of this election, and at the surface it seems quite obvious why: Our nation's next president rarely ever hit a 50% national approval rate at the best of times, and these certainly aren’t those. President Elect Trump didn’t even manage to win half the Republican Party’s support in the primaries. Donald Trump is not a well liked man, by any metric. Hillary Clinton, his opposition, didn’t fare much better in the arena of public opinion. A joint Washington Post/ ABC News poll taken of registered voters just a week before the election showed her to have an
uninspired 38/59 Favorable/Unfavorable split, compared to Trump’s equally impressive 37/60 split. So neither major candidate was well received. Then how did these two become this year’s candidates? How did one of them become president of the United States, despite abysmal levels of national support? How come neither of the third party candidates managed to gain traction? Well, the better part of the blame for this phenomenon can be placed squarely on the shoulders of the concept of the “Party Line,” and the way Americans walk it. While America wasn’t built with the intention of a two party system, George Washington himself making a special point to warn against them in his farewell address, the last time a candidate not from either the Republican or Democratic party was elected to the office of President was… 1848. The last time a candidate was elected who could truly be considered nonpartisan was in 1820, when James Monroe won the office nearly unopposed. That makes 196 years of heavily partisan politics. Political parties, particularly the two major parties we’ve grown to know and begrudgingly support, have been a part of American political framework for nearly as long as we’ve had one. And despite people’s rising ire with the established parties, as evidenced by anti-establishment candidates such as Bernie WINTER 2017
Sanders, and to a lesser extent Stein and Johnson, coming into popularity this election cycle, 2016 still saw over 94% of the popular vote go towards the major party candidates. And if numbers like that aren’t a big enough indicator of how massive America’s two major parties have truly become, then maybe this one will be: $2,889,869,895. That’s the amount of money collectively raised by the Republican and Democratic parties. In the 2016 election cycle, alone. It’s also about 5 times the annual profit of retail giant Amazon, to put things in perspective. The 2-party system is not only ancient. It’s very, very rich. But what’s the harm in all this? So there are two well established parties. So they’re old and rich. Bill Gates is old and rich, and he’s a sweetheart! Well, unfortunately, though somewhat unsurprisingly, instead of attempts to halt the spread of communicable disease or help establish infrastructure in impoverished nations, the two major political parties spend their money on… That’s right! Politics! That 7 digit annual budget of theirs goes entirely towards different aspects of campaigning. Which means propping up whichever candidates the parties have chosen to run. This means paying for rallies, travel, television appearances, TV ads, paper ads, donor events. It means name recognition. It means visibility. That’s almost 3 billion dollars going towards making sure two candidates, out of nearly 320 million citizens, have the nation’s full attention. How on earth is a grassroots campaign supposed to compete with that amount of funding? What independent candidate could possibly hope to raise capital anywhere near that amount? Well, uh, none of them. Gary Johnson managed to raise a respectable 11 million dollars, putting him at under .5% of the major parties. Jill Stein raised less than a third of that. Then there are the countless other candidates who threw their hats into the ring only to have their hats immediately trampled, ground into the dirt, and then promptly forgotten about (Here’s looking at you, Evan McMullin). There is no platform for any candidate not sanctioned by one of the two main parties to succeed. No place they can’t be outspent, no sound they can make that won’t be drowned out. 22
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So the two major parties have successfully become entrenched enough that they don’t need to fear outsiders competing with them. This partial hegemony doesn’t completely assure either party dominance, however. They still have one another to contend with. Republicans and Democrats tend to get along like cats and dogs, everyone knows that. They are just different kinds of people, with different views, not the sort you’d ever expect to agree or cooperate on much. Every good Republican knows Democrats are soft-hearted suckers, and every good Democrat knows that Republicans are uneducated, gun-toting, bigots. But how do we know these things (Which are clearly true) so well? Because the two major parties explained it all to us, that’s how! After all, with third party candidates out of the way, the only thing either major party has left to compete with is the other major party. So how does either party keep its voters on course and casting their ballots for the right candidates? How do they keep Americans from crossing party lines? The solution is as timeless as it is simple: Demonize the other side. Republicans in Congress have made it quite clear the past decade or so that they’ll not cooperate with Democrats on anything. The government shutdown, the unwillingness to even meet with Obama’s supreme court nominees, and the continued blind eye the Republican controlled Senate has been turning to bills coming in from the House are all sending a clear message to the American people: The Democratic party has nothing of value to contribute. And the Democrats have made it clear the feeling is mutual. Republican proposals to secure the border are anti-immigrant, prolife proposals are anti-woman, military spending is simply feeding into the military-industrial complex, and pro gun politicians are dangerous and bought by the NRA. Both parties are doing what they can to paint the other as dangerous, radical, and oftentimes outright malevolent. And the American people are largely buying into it. President Obama was an illegal Kenyan, Muslim, Socialist, with a fake birth certificate and a hatred for America. There were hundreds of thousands of protesters at his inauguration. People swore
he’d be the end of this country. Yet nothing really came of that. Now Donald Trump is the one who’s going to run us into the ground. Several major news outlets have compared him to Adolf Hitler, several politicians have declared him unfit to hold office. He’s going to either start a nuclear war with Russia, or let them take over all of Eastern Europe (Nobody seems entirely sure which of those they’re supposed to be afraid of, the media’s been painfully unclear). And now there are hundreds of thousands of protesters in Washington, and people swear he’ll be the end of this country. Yet I don’t think anything will really come of that. But the real damage being done here isn’t just to Donald Trump’s (otherwise sterling) reputation, or President Obama’s feelings. This demonization of the other is pervading everyday life for many Americans. If all Democratic politicians are socialists who want to see the downfall of capitalist America, then how awful must the people voting for them be? And if the Republican politicians are all science denying bigots, then obviously the people supporting them must be hateful, backwoods idiots, right? And so politics in America become increasingly contentious, as we’re manipulated into viewing our fellow Americans not as people striving to bring about the best for this nation that they can, but as unwitting pawns of the Evil political party (Don’t worry! Not your party, the other one) at best, and traitors and saboteurs at worst. And so Trump becomes a harbinger of the end of American ideals, and those who supported him are cast as spiteful people who just want to watch the country burn. There’s little doubt Hillary and her supporters would be similarly decried as the worst thing to happen to the country had they won out. And so the American people are left with a lot of resentment, distrust, anger, and very little in the way of unity or hope. But at least we can rest easy knowing that whatever goes wrong, it was the other side’s fault. It always is. ■
A Changing Environment How Global Entities Adapt to New Climates
BY STUART LOMBARD
here are many issues that the world is trying to address, and international law is attempting to deal with them by working towards a more globalised world. Entities such as the United Nations and the European Union have been making great strides in bringing nations together to create better reform and stronger strategies for conquering the worlds issues: famine, human rights, etc. The environment is one of these issues that has been seen as a united force, because if the human race hopes to survive, we need a healthy planet. Over the years, many nations have put in place measures to protect the environment but still, many have not. The EU has brought many nations together to make the environment a priority for all member states. But while the efforts of the European Environment Agency (EEA) has made real progress in environmental reform, some member states are slow to adopt the regulations. The UK, for example, is still working on enforcing the EEA-regulated limit on air pollution, and now that Brexit is a reality, there may be less of an incentive to control air pollution. Many of the critical measures that the EEA has enacted are now at risk of being dissolved at the point when the UK invokes Article 50. Until then however, the EU will likely continue to impose fines on the 24
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UK for the non-compliance. With other global developments, such as the 2016 US election, it appears that the once rapid rate of globalisation is now slowing. How will Brexit affect Britain’s environmental law, and how are global entities creating united reform?
English Environmental Law In order to better understand what the potential outcome of invoking Article 50 may mean for Britain’s environmental law, I submit that it is necessary to look at what precedent English law has set in regards to the environment. What has Parliament done to ensure the health of Britain’s environment? And what does the new leadership in Number 10 foretell for the future of environmental law? Britain’s history of environmental law stretches back to Alfred’s Case in 1619 , which some believe to be the first case that specifically deals with environmental law. I submit too that this case also highlights the underlying purpose of having environmental law: to make a comfortable and safe place to live. Here, the courts held that having the smell of a pig sty being blown
onto someone else’s land constituted nuisance, and that Alfred should not have to live with a smell that makes his property unbearable to live in. The courts held that the foul smell deprived Alfred of his dignity. I find this to be very interesting, and have examined other acts of parliament which aim to aid the environment. All of these acts had the underlying goal of making Britain a clean, safe, and pleasant place to live. Environmental law often begs to be coupled with health, both of animals and of the environment itself. To ensure that Britain remains a clean, safe, and pleasant place to live post-Brexit, Parliament needs to show that they are committed to the task.
ment. The 1995 Act was a revisionary Act which saw the creation of the National Park Authorities and created new measures for waste management. These two Acts once again proved that Britain was at least partially dedicated to being cleaner. Perhaps this rise in concern for the environment was linked to the reputation as the ‘dirty man of Europe’, but if this were the case, then perhaps Britain would have done more to comply with air quality standards that the EU passed.
National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949
Indeed, the European Commission has been making efforts to fine the UK in order to make them comply with the standards, and in 2015, just days before David Cameron was reelected as Prime Minister an advocacy group called ClientEarth won their five-year Supreme Court battle over deadly air pollution. The Supreme Court ordered the British Government to draft new measures to drastically lower emissions of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2).
A major development in Britain’s environmental law, the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act (1949) included the creation of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). Their purpose is to conserve much larger areas of land in a way that is less strict than that of National Parks. With proper planning permissions, towns have been built within AONBs with the stipulation that they are not causing harm to the environment. This has led to the continued conservation of the emerald isles, while also allowing sustainable development to take place. I submit that AONBs are perhaps the greatest development of English environmental law, as they seek to harvest cleaner energy and promotes responsible practises.
The Environmental Acts: 1990 and 1995 With the passing of these two acts by Parliament, a greater attention was being paid to the environment. The 1990 Act was written to control environmentally unfriendly emissions and to control waste management. But it also expanded the laws surrounding people who were found to be contaminating or otherwise damaging the environ-
‘In 2015, only two of London’s boroughs met EU standards for NO2 levels, causing the European Commission to launch action against the UK to enforce the Air Quality Directive.’
The New Government David Cameron ended up failing to deliver what he had pledged to be the ‘greenest government ever’ back when the coalition government was established in 2010. But the Labour government from years past had not done better. ‘Overall carbon emissions have risen since Labour came into power. The Government’s progress, after some real achievement in 1997-2000, has stalled and in many areas gone into reverse.’ (Friends of the Earth) Gordon Brown’s record was looked upon poorly, and as a new Conservative leader, David Cameron wanted nothing more than to right all the wrongs that the Brown’s government had created. But while wind energy, in particular, soared to new highs by the end of 2014, accounting for WINTER 2017
9.3% of total energy generated for the year, David Cameron proceeded to cut new subsidies for the creation of new wind farms in the 2015 party manifesto. As a result, the number of new turbines built in 2015 dropped by over 50% from 2014 statistics. I submit that this was a bad move to make on his part, and while he claims that adverse public opinion was the cause for the cuts, other sources claimed that the public sentiment regarding wind energy was at an all-time high. And even still, by the end of 2015, despite the efforts to build more turbines, the UK falls greatly short of the amount of wind energy that Germany produces, and is also nearly half of what Spain produces. Now with the new Conservative government taking over post-Brexit, I find it to be crucial that Theresa May and her Environmental Secretary, Andrea Leadsom, make the environment a priority whilst they work on negotiations to exit the EU. Unfortunately, both May and Leadsom have voting records that often work against environmental reform. And in the first days of her premiership, May abolished the Department of Energy and Climate Change, a decision that I find to be deeply worrying when considering how she has voted against measures that supported the decarbonisation of the UK’s energy and was absent for many environmental and energy votes. Leadsom has been becoming a greener voter in recent months, voting for tighter measures of fracking but not for a decarbonisation target. And despite her shaky record, Leadsom promised to maintain the UK’s environmental commitments, saying that reducing greenhouse gasses was a duty to future generations. This pledge will become increasingly important as many of the paths that the UK is set on were instated by EU directives. And given how little effort the UK has shown in conforming to said EU directives, I worry that this new government will be putting the environment on the back bench.
How much of the UK’s Environmental law relies on the EU? It seems like the majority of modern environmental law, which involves the UK, comes from EU directives. Natura 2000 protects the UK’s wildlife and promotes exercise; and directives on air, water, waste, and wildlife protect everything from the UK’s air to its beaches. However, like stated before, the British government does not usually cooperate fully with the EU directives, but fight any progressive reform, forcing the EU to impose fines on the UK when they become non-compliant. I am concerned by this, because if the EU has been pushing for reform that places them at the pinnacle of environmental reform, and the UK is fighting that reform despite being a member, then it seems like the UK will not have the environment as a top priority when negotiating their exit from the EU. As a result, British wildlife may be at risk if provisions are not made to keep Natura 2000, or some form of it. British air quality will have less restrictions and may not receive the attention it needs; and the same goes for Britain’s beaches (coastal bathing sites), only 59.5% of which were rated ‘Excellent’ in 2015 by the European Commission. This number may seem decent as another 27.4% were classified as ‘Good’, but compared to countries that have hundreds of sites more than the UK (Italy, France, Spain, Croatia, Greece, Denmark), the UK scored the lowest of the bunch, with only Sweden, Estonia, and Romania having less coastal bathing sites that were rated ‘Excellent’. This is yet another concern that the new government may not be willing to fix. And it only makes me more certain that the EU is the main force behind Britain’s environmental law.
The Decline of Globalisation and the Paris Agreement With Britain on its way out of the EU, the new President-Elect of the USA, and the rise of other far-right candidates in other countries, the rhetoric that has been taking centre stage has struck me
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as uncomfortably nationalistic. Both Britain and the USA feel like they are having immigration problems, and with the world in disarray, it is no surprise to me that countries are becoming more self-centred. And both Brexit and a Trump presidency likely spells bad news for the environment. Trump has claimed that he will continue work on the Keystone XL pipeline, consider more offshore drilling, and cancel the United States’ involvement with the Paris Agreement. His new cabinet appointment of Scott Pruitt, a leading climate change sceptic and one who is quite familiar with suing the EPA over various pro-environment issues, will undoubtedly use his love of coal to help President-Elect Trump save coal worker’s jobs and dismantle much of the legislation that President Obama has passed to prevent climate change, promote clean air and water, and save lives. The Paris Agreement is by far the most important climate change tool that we have, and as of 4 November 2016, the Agreement became active. The beauty of the Paris Agreement is that the UN will hold it to be legally binding, immediately making all signed countries subject to international law. The problem I see with the Paris Agreement, is that even though the UN could hold it to be legally binding in international courts, there is nothing they can do to force countries to change their policies, or make any progress at all. The only thing that is legally binding about it is that all states that have signed are obligated to have their progress observed and documented. In other words, the worst we can do right now to countries that are non-compliant is to publically shame them. Granted, many countries have already started to make changes, such as investing in renewable energy or decreasing dependence on ‘dirty’ energy (i.e. coal), but some countries will undoubtedly face challenges both political and economic. This may render the Agreement to be essentially useless apart from being a nice gesture towards limiting climate change on behalf of the world.
Closing Remarks I find Environmental law to be very important, and that the Paris Agreement has the possibility to be the most significant reform in history. However, as globalisation slows and sometimes regresses, international law faces new challenges. The UN, in my opinion, needs to have the power to fully enforce their measures by whatever means necessary. This may involve direct access to the international courts, or it may also mean having a UN military with the authority to enforce global agreements. The challenges with international law also lie in the existence of borders. Where there is a global effort, I think that international law needs to have the power to treat each nation equally and act without borders. And if the world can agree on one thing, I would hope that it is that every person has the right to live without polluted air and water, and in a world that has healthy places to live; for that is the essence of environmental law. ■
History Yet to be Made BY MATTHEW MANOTTI
”History is past politics, and politics present history.” - Sir John Seeley
do not know why Trump was elected. Social trends and changes are difficult to interpret, especially when we live in the midst of them. It is possible to be too close to an object such that it becomes incomprehensible. We must be doubtful of any attempts to explain with one or two simple reasons why Trump was elected for at least a decade or so. Furthermore, we must be doubtful of any attempts by an American to explain the election: to be a citizen of this nation is to be close to the currents of the country such that we do not know when we are still, or when we are caught in a fashion. Tocqueville, for example, would not have been as perceptive had he been raised in America. Nonetheless, we demand some sort of answer, and no answer will be flawless. Our best bet at finding a true explanation of the events of this past year will be to remain open to ideas that had not previously occurred to us. This essay, then, is a collection of explanations. Some contradict each other, others are compatible. Some are simple ideas for this time and place. Others are attempts to explain the present and the past, and, 28
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perhaps, to predict the future. I am certain that counter arguments can be easily found for all of these accounts. Please offer them. I ask only that you pick one or two explanations and keep them in the back of your mind as you explain to your children why Donald Trump was elected. Ten or twenty years will provide you with new insight, including new insight into these accounts. Furthermore, keep political biases in mind. A liberal will give a different account of this election than a conservative. This means only that they are seeing the same world through different lenses. Each lens notices things that the other is blind to. I am a Never-Trump conservative. The accounts I have chosen to give will rest upon that moral basis. I dismiss out of hand reasoning that rests upon the fact that America is racist. That explains some phenomena, but not all and certainly not this. America just elected its first black president. If Trump was elected by racists (which is a broad generalization and little more than a caricature of Trump voters), then we must explain why America has become more racist since 2008. Human bias requires an explanation. It will not do to explain racism by pointing to the racists and stopping there. The problem of racism cannot be solved without first attempting to understand why there are racists. To respond to Trump’s win with the simple answer of “racism/
sexism/xenophobia” is lazy reasoning, circular, and also uninteresting. Finally, the ideas that I am presenting are not all self-generated. I am hardly that clever. The vast majority of them stem from conversations I’ve had with students on campus, articles I’ve read lectures and interviews that I have listened to. I cannot cite all my sources, so rather I would like to thank the polity at large. One of the many benefits of St. John’s College is that it gives us an unmodern perspective to evaluate modern events. This makes the students here vastly more interesting than students elsewhere and I have enjoyed all the perspectives on Trump’s rise. The only person I wish to name directly is a person who is not even a current student, but might return in the future: Ryan Dau. Late night chats with him have helped me to get a larger and clearer picture of this election, especially in the context of history. I am in his debt. The 2016 election is an event that directs our attention towards larger historical movements within which we live. Let us now examine what some of those movements might be.
The Internet’s First President ”Forget the press, read the internet.” - Donald Trump In 1960, the first televised presidential debate took place between Richard Nixon and John F Kennedy. Those who listened to the debate on the radio believed Nixon to have been the victor. Those who watched the debate believed Kennedy to have won. This was one time in which the medium of a campaign entirely changed the nature and structure of the campaign itself. Looking at the role that the internet has played in this year’s election, I would argue that the 2016 election was another case in which the presidential campaign was transformed by a new medium. Both Obama and Hillary have Twitters. Trump, however, knew how to use it. His Twitter feed was (and is) interesting. He did not filter his thoughts through a series of experts who knew what words he ought to use and what words he ought not to use. Instead,
Trump was personal in a way that Hillary Clinton was not, he interacted directly with his audience. We saw him use the medium less as a means of formal speechmaking, and more as a means of publicly portraying a stream of thought— for better and for worse. Trump also seemed to attract and cultivate a certain kind of internet culture. He became a meme. The alt-right adopted the same sort of ironic, irreverent, and over the top humor to produce his propaganda that would normally be found on the pages of 4chan. After all, this is the year that Pepe the Frog, an absolutely pointless and idiotic meme of the internet, was portrayed on Hillary Clinton’s website as a symbol of white supremacy. Clinton regularly showed how foreign she was to the culture and age of the internet, and the internet responded by ostracizing her. Let us not forget the infamous (and, more importantly, entertaining) “Pokémon Go to the polls” comment. Any attempts that Hillary made to embed herself in the culture of the new medium were correctly interpreted as just that: attempts. Trump did not attempt anything, he used Twitter just as so many users approach the medium- he simply Tweeted whatever was running through his mind at that moment. Trump’s “memefication” meant that he did not have to create his own propaganda. His followers iconized him instead. Interestingly, Trump was not the only candidate who became something a meme this year. Let us not forget the popularity of the “Bernie or Hillary?” memes before the Democratic primaries. Bernie and Trump both attracted techsavvy young people in a way that Hillary never managed to.
Globalism and Nationalism “As we move from the industrial to the infomation age, we have an extraordinatory opportunity to advance our values at home and around the world.” - President Bill Clinton WINTER 2017
The medium of memes and the internet do not tell us much about moral content that attracted America to Trump as opposed to Clinton. Both offered starkly different views of what is good for America’s future. Clinton was a progressive: she stood for free trade, lowered borders, and an urban culture and morality. Her ads (when not attacking Trump) catered to minorities of all sorts, defended equity, emphasized empathy as the primary moral value, and promoted a global society, free of loyalties to the in-group. “If you believe we should never write discrimination into our laws...you’ve got to vote!” —Hillary Clinton. Trump’s moralism was nationalist in nature. His policies were protectionist: we must build the wall to protect the nation, increase tariffs to protect our economy, we must make the nation of America great again. The message that Trump proposed contrasts sharply with the medium in which that message is carried. The Internet transcends national boundaries; it brings all men closer together, regardless of national loyalties. If Trump is the first President to effectively utilize computer technology, he is also the first President to stand firmly against the social changes that computer technology will bring about. The inclusive ethic of globalism, an ethic which values individuality and individual freedom more than group loyalty and tradition, has been firmly attacked by Trump and his followers. Why? And what is causing the change of events? I have found the works of Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan particularly pertinent when this trend from the past year. I will try to summarize some of his more basic ideas. Technology changes us more than we change technology. A device can be created for a specific purpose, but its effects are unknown even to its inventor until that device enters the free market. The car was invented to get us from point A to point B faster. It is also the best piece of technology ever created to change the layouts of cities. Furthermore, technology is changing the very environment in which we live; in fact, technology is the environment in which we live. If two men stand in the same room, and one has a phone in his pocket and the other one does not, then 30
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they stand in different environments. The phone serves as a window, an extension of the eye and ear to outer world. ”We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march back- wards into the future.”
- Marshall McLuhan”
Technology is serving to connect us. At one point in time, it would have taken months for a person in France to learn that the latest king of England is dead. Now I know about a school shooting in Ohio while it currently happening. Technology, argues McLuhan, is making us into a Global Village. Our interactions with a person halfway across the globe are similar to how villagers interact with each other. Gossip spreads quickly, judgements are made quickly, and the individual is absorbed into the crowd, shamejustified or unjustified- is the primary means of social control. As new technologies create new environments, men become anxious. “All new technologies bring on the cultural blues, just as the old ones evoke phantom pain after they disappeared.” He says elsewhere “The instant involvement that accompanies instant technologies triggers a conservative, stabilizing, gyroscopic function in man.” The global village is a tribal village. It is not a land of peace, but a land of in-groups and out-groups. The individual is absorbed into his or her respective tribe in order that he might fight against his neighbor. I do not think that these tribes necessarily have to be founded upon some sort of ideological content. Trump, for an example, is not an ideologue. If he were, he would be predictable. He is more like an energy which a person can pin their ideology to. He’s not conservative, but conservatives may see him as one. He is not libertarian, but libertarians can see him as one. I suspect for many Trump voters (though not all) he acts as a mirror, reflecting their own views and passions, expressing their own anxieties in less than 140 characters. If Trump is a sign of the future, and McLuhan leads me to believe that he is, then the
political tribes of the future will have no philosophical standard to which they belong, but rather an empty sophistry used only to attack whoever dares draw their ire. Trump’s election is one of many events— from Brexit to the rise of France’s National Front and Germany’s Alternative for Germany— that signal a global shift away from globalism. This may be a good thing. The end of globalism seems to be a unified and open global democracy in which national divisions are thin, if they exist at all. I do not see how globalist ethics permit any kind of national or local loyalties; such ethical dogmas directly conflict with ethics built upon empathy as the primary value. The left, always empathetic, wants Europe to open her borders so as to prevent the suffering of migrants. It seems blind to any argument that suggests that Europe’s first priority is to her own citizens because they are hers. Such arguments, I suspect, trigger a moral sensitivity that those who propose open environments either do not have or suppress. What matters is that people are suffering; this trumps all other moral concerns. The global society, then, would be a land without a sense of belonging. A world in which men move freely across borders is a world in which no external moral demands are made upon the individual. Finally free, men move across the world like tumbleweeds, rootless, carried by the wind. Our children’s children’s children will have no homes, not because their houses were destroyed in some war, but because the concept of a home will be foreign to them; it demands a loyalty that is not empathetic.
The Rise of White Identity Politics ”The American creed, one that Yale has proudly espoused, holds that an American should be judged as an individual and not as a member of a group.” - Judge Macklin Fleming
Anyone who has discussed politics with me at any length will know that I am extremely adverse to identity politics of any kind. Too often it becomes an excuse to lob ad hominem attacks, as opposed to taking the careful and tedious route of examining the argument itself. In short, it puts an end to discussion by attacking the attacker. Furthermore, it creates a political danger. If identity politics become common on both sides of the political aisle, and cooperation or attempts to understand and engage with the opponent’s argument become null, then there is no use persuading the other guy—he cannot understand our perspective because of his socio-economic background, skin color, gender, and so on. The mechanism by which any polity, especially democracy, moves— dialogue—is obsolete. There is no reason that these identity politics must remain the tactics of the minority. If it is an effective tool of persuasion for one person, then it can be an effective tool of persuasion for another. Power does not dictate who argues by what means, and identity politics on the left has given rise to identity politics on the right.
“A social theorist [Wyndham Lewis] about ten or fifteen years ago said, ‘You know, if you classify people enough different ways, you deprive them completely of their individuality.’ If somebody is exclusively moved in virtue of his participation in this bloc or in that bloc, creating enough blocs in which each one of us belongs, in the end we are all treated as categories...” -William F. Buckley Jr.
Some people on the alt-right are white supremacists. I do not know the numbers, but I fear that it is greater than I would suspect and wish. White identity politics have long been WINTER 2017
tied to social unacceptable political movements (namely the Nazis and the KKK) and have not had a mainstream voice for years. Donald Trump is providing that voice, whether he means to or not. I suspect that there are several causes. First, we are now distant enough from the horrors of World War II that the events of that war have become common jokes. The same, incidentally, can be said for the horrors of the Soviet Union. Hitler killed seven million people in the concentration camps. According to Solzhenitsyn, Stalin killed around sixty million people over the course of his dictatorship. The vast evils of the previous century seem unreal to us, in large part because they are scarcely imaginable. Second is the rise of politically correct culture. It is no coincidence that one of Trump’s most ardent and outspoken supporters, Milo Yiannopoulos, is supremely popular on college campuses. He attacks all of the things held sacred by most leftist college students- he attacks Muslims, feminists, and new sexualities and genders. His speeches are devised to make people angry, and they do. I regard it as a general rule of debate that as soon as one person loses his or her temper, they have automatically lost the debate. Milo knows what punches to throw, and what claims to make in order achieve this end. He is, in short, a very effective troll. He forces people to give way to their anxiety and anger in order to make a scene. I do not like Milo, but there is a reason he is popular. Like Trump, he speaks the unspeakable. There is a problem with the culture at large when that becomes a virtue. This new right wing identity politic will do nothing to protect the basic liberties I care about. The result will be the same silencing of thought and enforcement of political correctness, but under a new name and a new language. The alt-right supporters will ostracize from its ranks anybody who dares question its new facts or dares doubt the philosophical basis upon which it rests. How could they not? By adopting the tactics of identity politics, they cannot be criticized. The political has become the personal, and to attack an idea shall become the equivalent of attacking the person. A recent article stated the issue clear32
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ly: “‘I knew that identity would come next,” she recalled. “It had to come. All they had to do was copy what they were hearing. The multiculturalist arguments you hear on every campus — those work for whites, too.” Mr. Spencer, asked in an interview how he would respond to the accusation that [the alt-right] was practicing identity politics in the manner of blacks and Hispanics, replied: “I’d say: ‘Yuh. You’re right.’’’ I have attacked globalism, now I must attack nationalism. If the choice of the future century will be between the two, then neither will lead to positive result. Classical liberalism and freedom from the tyranny of the state is, I fear, a dead man walking. America can do little more than to provide bread to her citizens, but man does not live on bread alone. We must attach ourselves to some hope of a better world, some reason to hope beyond our current sufferings. An America that delights in its virtues and refuses to see its vices can never be as a city on a hill, it will see itself instead as the new Jerusalem. The sense of belonging—the tribalism—that the alt-right desires so dearly will be its despair. In wanting to make itself ever more pure, it will not cease in ostracizing all members who are unlike it. In attempting to keep the nation the same, and not cover it with a new coat of paint, it will find that the nation shall rust. The alt-right is not conservative- the conservatism of Burke moves, though slowly. The alt-right demands a purity of thought and blood that is a reversal of many of the most basic American values. I support slowing down immigration, but I do not support building a wall. A wall demands a loss of individuality that serves both to keep out immigrants and also to retain emigrants. It symbolizes a closing of borders in both directions. While I want to keep America as my home, I do not want America to become my world. The greatest criticism I can offer to the alt-right is that it is arrogant. For all its anti-semitism, it pretends to be the semites themselves. It forgets that Lincoln made sure to preface his description of the Americans with the phrase “almost-chosen people.”
“A golden rule: We must judge men, not by their opinions, but by what these opinions make of them...” - Georg Lichtenberg What I fear most about Trump is an undoing and under-turning of established values. I do not see how we can defend crudity as a moral good. It is difficult to be tactful and polite. It is difficult to speak well. Any common slob can talk about grabbing women by their pussies. Rare is the man who keeps his mouth shut, and more rare and noble is the man who does not think about such things at all! Prudence is a trait that any leader must have. To praise slander that cannot even be deemed clever is to praise the opposite of prudence. The right, I fear, has fallen into the same trap of ressentiment that the left fell into many centuries ago. Things that were once thought properly good and virtuous are being decried as unvirtuous on both sides of the debate. One ought not take pride in being a “nasty woman” any more than one ought take pride in being a cheap tax-dodging businessman. Both are reversals of common sense: a common virtue for the masses which is not virtue at all. That being said, I do not think that all Trump voters suffer from this suppressed envy. Hardly so! Most of them, I hope, simply decided to choose the devil they did not know. Many of people who voted for Trump wanted change, and decided to take the chance and roll the die, not knowing if the roll would be high or low. For others, a vote for Trump was a loud “no” at a long standing system which they see to have produced more evil than good. The average Trump voter is not a white supremacist, not overcome with a subconscious feeling of ressentiment, and not an enthusiastic voter. The average Trump voter is an average American, a trustworthy people for the most part. Nonetheless, my prophecies of the future are all pessimistic. Let us pray I am wrong. ■
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