New Democrats and Minority Bingo

16 Jun 2016

The NDP federal executive has voted to establish a series of quotas for the nomination papers of candidates seeking leadership: of the 500 signatures needed, 250+ must be female-identified members, 100 must be from “equity-seeking groups”, and there are an additional series of wholly arbitrary regional categorizations that must also be met. This seems to be an attempt to ensure that leadership candidates have diverse bases of supporter from across the country. On the surface, this is a noble and worthwhile gesture, but when thinking through the details there are a number of concerns that arise with these guidelines that undermines their very aim.

Is the central party going to check if a candidate has enough black or queer supporters to qualify for leadership? Imagine a debate over whether names seem sufficiently Indigenous enough and having the party call supporters to ask their minority status. If the party is not checking then it really is nothing more than cheap publicity and lip service to diversity. If it is simply an honour system, then it is still forcing the candidates to engage in an absurd game of minority bingo for the “right” mix of Canadians.

Which brings up another problem: is the executive also going to clearly define what counts as Indigenous? As disabled? As sufficiently visible for minority status? Or will it simply be up to the candidate’s best judgment whether and how a supporter fits into these categories? Perhaps they will have to clearly identify for the party which signatures belong to minorities, women, and particular regions. This would end up being one of the more essentializing forms of bureaucracy to come from progressives in decades. Would the NDP keep and maintain a permanent database of minority supporters or would this information simply go into a filing cabinet to be ignored after the election?

As a white male, I have already seen a great number of politicians who look like me and we are long overdue for leaders who break with that tradition. All parties should seek to better speak to and represent the diversity of Canada, but the approach here is ill conceived. Not only are the criteria arbitrarily selected and extremely limited in scope, but the end result is little more than a form of checklist diversity among a very small sample size of supporters. If the goal is to appear to be a more diverse party, then this approach might be successful if nobody looks too closely. If the goal is to actually be more diverse, then it is time to go back to the drawing board.

The Power and The People

15 Jun 2016

George Kateb for The Utopian:

Morally speaking, democracy is an insufficient foundational value for a political system; democracy is not the sole value in political life. “The more democracy, the better” is not true – whether in political, social, or cultural life.

"A selfish vantage point"

14 Jun 2016

Chris Arnade for The Guardian:

In these last three years, out from behind my computers, I have been reminded that life is not rational and that everyone makes mistakes. Or, in Biblical terms, we are all sinners.

We are all sinners. On the streets the addicts, with their daily battles and proximity to death, have come to understand this viscerally. Many successful people don’t. Their sense of entitlement and emotional distance has numbed their understanding of our fallibility.

The Style Guide: On Canons [Episode 40]

13 Jun 2016

Some of my PhD work is on the nature of the political philosophy discipline and the canon that has been constructed around it. Having run into a bit of a wall, I was able to trick Dave into dedicating an entire episode that was aimed towards helping me climb that wall. Thanks Dave! PS: “I Will Never Speak To You Again. I Hate You.”

Float On

13 Jun 2016

Mike Miller:

Like the child you were, literally hold a real book and tune out, and turn off, the digital distractions. Embrace the content that lets you explore far off worlds where hours fly by in the blink of an eye. The king will always beckon you back to reality but, at least on occasion, make sure they are calling you back from some imaginary world.

"A palpable example of being a complete person"

13 Jun 2016

Khoi Vinh:

The act of shedding tears, hyperventilating, losing my balance, letting the despair beat me down without a fight… it all brings a real and tangible relief. There’s comfort in it, a feeling as warm and intimate as a cherished blanket.

"Everything’s like something else"

12 Jun 2016

Black Hockey Jesus:

I’m not a noun. Neither are you. Think car crashes, lightning flashes, flowing waves of crazed relations, long meandering conversations, smoke and mirrors and obfuscations. We’re fictional characters, fluid creations, in a story that never ends. Truth is just one reflection in this funhouse mirror of worlds. But don’t worry. It’s not so bad—being a dream.

Creativity Myths

11 Jun 2016

Eric Karjaluoto:

A number of myths around creativity are simply hardwired into our culture. In no particular order: The belief that designers are sensitive prima donnas whose needs must be catered to; The idea that “eureka” moments come only after great toil; The belief that you need to create a mess in order to pull out a gem; The perception that ideas occur as a result of random, chaotic action, and are only impeded by rational, clear-headed examination and planning.

Glengarry Glen Ross: The Speech

10 Jun 2016

Mike D’Angelo for A.V. Club:

All hail young, skinny Alec Baldwin.

The Last Ballast

09 Jun 2016

Jay Kang for The Morning News:

Losing almost all the money I had in the world in six hours stirred up only a cold, scraped-out feeling of knowing—the calm that freezes out your brain when you watch someone younger make the same mistakes you made at their age. Staring out at the empty skyscrapers, I tried to figure out what might be the right reaction to losing $12,000.