Appiah Antidote

No sad or syrupy analysis was going to ease the bitterness I felt towards the American institutions of democracy. I turned instead to the BBC's 2016 Reith Lectures, presented and available as four podcasts by cosmopolitan intellectual Kwame Anthony Appiah, where I found some relief in my second listening. A third or fourth time through might be required to restore my goodwill and generosity. bbc

His four lectures under the banner "Mistaken Identities" will focus on four themes: Colour, Country, Creed and Culture. They will be recorded in London, Glasgow, Accra, in Appiah’s adopted hometown of New York, and will be broadcast on Radio 4 in October and November. Episode guide. bbc

Appiah believes there are profound sources of confusion in our thinking about identities. Indeed, almost every identity grows out of conflict and contradiction, and their borders can be drawn in blood. And yet they can also seen to fade in the blink of an historical eye. The demands of identity can seem irresistible at one moment, absurd at the next. Most of us swim easily in the swirling waters of our multiple affiliations most of the time, but we can be brought up short in moments when the currents of identity tug us excruciatingly in opposite directions. bbc

He adds: “In these Reith lectures I want to explore some of these confusions through an examination of four central kinds of identity: creed, country, colour and culture. Through the lives of particular people in particular places and times, we’ll see how the confusions play out, but also how they can be cleared up. We’ll learn how those identities play both positive and negative roles in their lives and in ours, and how we might escape some of the negatives if we understood some of the many mistakes we make about identity.”

In his book Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers, Appiah introduces two ideas that "intertwine in the notion of cosmopolitanism". The first is the idea that we have obligations to others that are bigger than just sharing citizenship. The second idea is that we should never take for granted the value of life and become informed of the practices and beliefs of others. wikipedia


Unlike Kawame, Glenn Greenwald is writing after the election and speaks in much more direct terms. "The indisputable fact is that prevailing institutions of authority in the West, for decades, have relentlessly and with complete indifference stomped on the economic welfare and social security of hundreds of millions of people." intercept