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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is WHAT WE'RE UP AGAINST. His previous books include The Parable of the Tribes: The Problem of Power in Social Evolution, for which he was awarded the Erik H. Erikson prize by the International Society for Political Psychology.
(2 comments) Sunday, December 3, 2017 A Better Human Story: #11-- Humankind as Tragic Hero
The story of the creature that breaks out of its biologically-evolved niche moves forward with an inevitability characteristic of tragic drama. Biological evolution -- which chooses life over death -- lays the foundation for the good. The breakout from that order into civilization inevitably creates a disorder transmitted through the system, working like what's always been called "evil." A drama in three acts that unfold here.
Friday, October 6, 2017 A Better Human Story # 9-- Understanding Evil
In our times, a destructive force has arisen quite visibly in the American power structure. Trump is of course part of it, but he is also a symptom and product of what has been emerging on the right for years. Liberal America has been blind to this bigger picture-- a blindness that has enabled that force to gain power. Here's a way of understanding "evil": a coherent force that spreads a pattern of brokenness-- call it "evil."
(31 comments) Wednesday, August 16, 2017 The Why of "White Supremacy"
The profound human brokenness represented by "white supremacy" can be seen in both moral-spiritual and historical perspectives.
(2 comments) Thursday, July 6, 2017 Better Human Story # 5-- The Parable of the Tribes: The Problem of Power in Social Evolution
When humankind broke out of the niche in which our species had evolved biologically, and thus began to create a new kind of life form, we inadvertently created also a new kind of disorder. And the consequence of that disorder was -- and has been -- that the evolution of civilization has inevitably been driven in a direction that humanity did not choose but could not stop: driven by a selection for the ways of power.
(2 comments) Thursday, June 29, 2017 Malign Alignment: How an Alliance of America's Darkest Forces Made the GOP Break Bad
For a hundred years, the political force that had served the Slave Power and the force that was the instrument of the corporate money power had been opposed to each other along partisan lines. But then, beginning with Nixon's "Southern Strategy," the two became allies, as the Solid Democratic South became the Solid Republican South. The two darkest forces in America then turned the GOP into the force of darkness we see today.
(9 comments) Saturday, June 17, 2017 A Better Human Story #4-- Humankind's Perilous Step into Terra Incognita: The Rise of Civilization
If we look back at history, we take civilization for granted, and we -- mistakenly -- conclude that the history of civilization represents human nature writ large. But if we look at the rise of civilization in the perspective of the almost 4 billion year evolution of life on earth, we see that humankind stumbled into an unprecedented and impossible situation we did not choose and could not avoid, dictating our destiny.
(2 comments) Friday, May 26, 2017 The Sacred Space of Lovers (Third in the Series, "A Better Human Story")
This third entry in the series "A Better Human Story" builds upon the previous discussion of how evolution crafts us to find fulfillment in what has been life-serving, and how fulfillment is the only sensible basis for "value." Here, "the sacred space of lovers" is explored-- a place of deep fulfillment that has been central to the perpetuation of our kind.
(3 comments) Sunday, May 7, 2017 How "the Good" Emerges Out of Evolution (Second in the Series, "A Better Human Story")
Many who arrive at their beliefs in a wholly secular and rational way -- believing what is shown by evidence processed by reason -- have concluded that "value" is not really "real," that one cannot get from "is" to "ought," that issues of right and wrong or good and evil are merely matters of opinion. Such conclusions are non sequiturs. This piece shows how "value" that is very real EMERGED out of the evolutionary process.
(20 comments) Thursday, April 27, 2017 A Better Human Story (First in a Series)
Would you be interested in hearing about a way of understanding our humanity, and the story of our species on this planet, that
" Explains much about the overall trajectory of human history; and,
" Offers insight into why our history has been as tormented and destructive as it has been;
" Presents a plausible way of comprehending the nature, source, and modus operandi of what has tradtionally been called evil?(And more)
(12 comments) Thursday, January 12, 2017 A Global Counter to the Global Rise of Fascism
Trump's rise to the presidency in the United States is part of a larger global trend toward what might be called "The Rule of the Thug" or, as I'd propose, "The Rise of Fascism" in various democratic, or once-democratic, nations. This dark global trend calls for not only political struggle at the national level, but alsoo a global movement to combat it. This article describes what such a movement might most effectively do.
Tuesday, November 15, 2016 "Seek Peace While Preparing for War": A Strategy for the Outset of the Trump Era
In this extremely dangerous moment in our nation's history, we owe it to ourselves and our posterity to seek best-case scenarios with the new president, rather than merely assuming that all that we fear will come to pass. Because we have good reason to fear the worst, we also need to prepare to fight What this calls for is moves that simultaneously test for the possibility of peace, and that also position us well for battle.
(6 comments) Tuesday, November 15, 2016 "Seek Peace While Preparing for War": Going to/after Trump about Climate Change
Here is the first application of the overall strategy -- develop moves toward/against Trump -- that are apt both for attaining a positive outcome and for framing the battle, if it must be fought, advantageously for our side. Here it is applied to that most crucial issue: meeting the challenge of climate change (regarding which all the signs thus far from Trump are deeply troubling).
(18 comments) Wednesday, June 29, 2016 Brexit: A Setback in One of Humankind's Most Important Projects
If we look at what provided the initial impetus for the unification of Europe, we can see why what the Europeans have attempted to do over the past several generations is something that prudence -- indeed possibly human survival -- requires that civilization as a whole attempt to do in the next century or two.
(2 comments) Monday, June 27, 2016 Any Self-Respecting Supreme Court Would Have Struck Down the Texas Abortion Law
The Texas law was clearly an attack on the authority of the Supreme Court. That alone should be enough for a Supreme Court justice -- even one who doesn't agree with what the Court has previously said about the right to an abortion -- to strike down that law. (But only Kennedy, of the four "conservative" Supremes, put the integrity of our constitutional system ahead of their partisan policy position.)
(10 comments) Tuesday, June 21, 2016 Did the Spirit of Donald Trump Help Assassinate Jo Cox in Britain Last Week?
Thomas Mair pulled the trigger. But like all human actions, Mair's lethal attack took place in a context. There are quite plausible ways by which the rise of Donald Trump, with his message of bigotry, in the United States, could have contributed to pushing the bigoted Mair over the edge into assassinating the pro-EU member of Parliament, Jo Cox.
(1 comments) Wednesday, June 8, 2016 I Was Wrong About Trump
A piece appearing in newspapers in my conservative congressional district in Virginia: Previously, I thought Donald Trump was an accomplished actor, who could choose what role to play to achieve his purposes. Now it seems I was wrong. The needless, counterproductive fights he has picked lately,show that rather than being in control of his belligerence, Trump is controlled by it.
(13 comments) Wednesday, May 25, 2016 A Win-Win Way for Bernie to Lead Now
A strategy for Bernie that should be liked both by those who are still hoping for Bernie to get the nomination and those who want Bernie to strengthen the Democratic cause for the fall campaign, or at least stop weakening it. It is a good way for Bernie to make a case for himself. And it sets the stage for a strong party after the convention, no matter who is the nominee.
(24 comments) Monday, May 23, 2016 Are We on the Democratic Side Going to Blow It Again?
The Democratic side has a history of not seeing the battlefield well, and of either fighting the wrong battle or fighting the right one weakly. In recent weeks, this unfortunate pattern has been repeated, with a squandered opportunity to make the most of a moment when Trump and the GOP could have been weakened by a unifed Democratic voice delivering the right message to the Republican world and to the nation.
(1 comments) Sunday, May 22, 2016 Why Trump's Lies and Transgressions Appeal to His Followers
Donald Trump breaks the rules. For his followers, that's part of his appeal. Trump specializes in the lie. That, too, draws his followers to him.
That's because Trump's movement is an appeal to the authoritarian personality, which is built around a fundamental lie, and which is, at its root, a rebellion against the order it pretends to serve.