The tortured legacy of the Mexican-American War (part 2)

July 7th, 2020

by DANNY SJURSEN

Truth DigA scene from the Battle of Resaca de la Palma, which occurred in Texas on May 9, 1846, during the Mexican-Amercan War. Capt. Charles A. May’s squadron from the 2nd Regiment of Dragoons is shown slashing through enemy lines. PHOTO/Truth Dig

The Constitution was, and is, emphatic on one matter, at least: only Congress possesses the power to declare war. In the 1840s, an era of legislative preeminence, even the high-risk Tyler blanched, aware that the agreement exceeded his authority. He quickly abrogated it, but the damage was done. Texas was at a point of no return, the U.S. government appeared treacherous, and Mexico subsequently amassed troops along the border. By election season, annexation seemed more a matter of when and how, not if.

Still, the establishment leadership in both parties stalled and battled the current. Tyler had clearly squandered any remaining chance for the Whig nomination, and Henry Clay stepped up, once again, to run on the party’s ticket. He was the first to weigh in. In a letter published in D.C. papers, which engendered regrettable political backlash, Clay outlined his many reasons for opposing Texas’s accession and warned readers that “annexation and war with Mexico are identical.” The Democratic frontrunner essentially agreed. Former President Martin Van Buren seemed to be the anointed candidate for 1844, and he also opposed annexation. For Washington to unilaterally absorb Texas would, he claimed, alienate every other country in the world, and “do us more real lasting injury as a nation … [since] we have a character among the nations of the earth to maintain.”The Constitution was, and is, emphatic on one matter, at least: only Congress possesses the power to declare war. In the 1840s, an era of legislative preeminence….
[Click to Tweet]

Clay and Van Buren alike would prove correct. The only problem: rational calculus rarely prevails in the emotive realm of American politics. Both men underestimated the substantial popularity of Texas annexation among the populace. That Van Buren’s stance torpedoed his nomination became abundantly clear when the Democratic Party’s founder, Andrew “Old Hickory” Jackson, his health failing at an advanced age, turned on his one-time successor, and declared, “Obtain [Texas] the United States must, peaceably if we can, but forcibly if we must.” Jackson’s words carried enormous weight west of the Appalachian Mountains and south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Van Buren was cooked, but many wondered who would replace him. Jackson had just the man in mind: his own protégé, who, though obscure, bore the nickname “Young Hickory.” His name was James K. Polk.

Polk and the election of 1844

It was an outsiders’ election year, a cyclical phenomenon throughout U.S. history. The experience, contrary to common assumption, wasn’t unique to 2016. There are, however, distinct similarities between the ascensions of Polk and Donald Trump. Both were long-shot candidates who had initially been dismissed. Each ran against both Washington and his own party. Both defeated highly qualified — in traditional terms — candidates who had previously sought the presidency. The nominations of Trump and Polk before him were widely predicted to portend the end of their respective political parties. The main, and profound, difference was that Polk was a true ideological believer. It’s unclear which sort — idealist or opportunist — is more dangerous.

The Future of Freedom Foundation for more

Chomsky: We must not let masters of capital define the post-COVID world

July 7th, 2020

by C. J. POLYCHRONIOU

Protesters stand on the street while holding signs during a “reopen” protest in Indianapolis, Indiana, on April 18, 2020.PHOTO/Jeremy Hogan / SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The global outbreak of COVID-19 has many thinking that a new economic and political order is inevitably under way. But is that so? In the U.S., the moneyed class, which has thrived under Donald Trump, won’t go down without pulling all stops to make sure that popular pressures for radical reforms will be blocked, says world-renowned public intellectual Noam Chomsky. Chomsky also reminds us that overt racism has intensified under Trump, and that police violence is a symptom of the underlying white supremacy that plagues U.S. society. Meanwhile, Trump’s anti-environmental policies and his trashing of arms control treaties are bringing the world ever closer to an environmental and nuclear holocaust.

C.J. Polychroniou: It’s been argued by many, from various quarters, that COVID-19 has been a game changer. Do you concur with this view, or are we talking of a temporary situation, with a return to the “business as usual” approach being the most likely scenario once this health crisis is over?

Noam Chomsky: There is no way to predict. Those who have primary responsibility for the multiple crises that imperil us today are hard at work, relentlessly, to ensure that the system they created, and from which they have greatly benefited, will endure — and in an even harsher form, with more intense surveillance and other means of coercion and control. Popular forces are mobilizing to counter these malign developments. They seek to dismantle the destructive policies that have led us to this uniquely perilous moment of human history, and to move toward a world system that gives priority to human rights and needs, not the prerogatives of concentrated capital.

We should take a few moments to clarify to ourselves the stakes in the bitter class war that is taking shape as the post-pandemic world is being forged. The stakes are immense. All are rooted in the suicidal logic of unregulated capitalism, and at a deeper level in its very nature, all becoming more apparent during the neoliberal plague of the past 40 years. The crises have been exacerbated by malignancies that have surfaced as these destructive tendencies took their course. The most ominous are appearing in the most powerful state in human history — not a good omen for a world in crisis.

The stakes were spelled out in the setting of the Doomsday Clock last January. Each year of Trump’s presidency, the minute hand has been moved closer to midnight. Two years ago, it reached the closest it has been since the Clock was first set after the atomic bombings. This past January, the analysts abandoned minutes altogether and moved to seconds: 100 seconds to midnight. They reiterated the prime concerns: nuclear war, environmental destruction and deterioration of democracy, the last of these because the only hope of dealing with the two existential crises is vibrant democracy in which an informed population is directly engaged in determining the fate of the world.

Since January, Trump has escalated each of these threats to survival. He has continued his project of dismantling the arms control regime that has provided some protection against nuclear disaster. So far this year, he has terminated the Open Skies Treaty, proposed by Eisenhower, and imposed frivolous conditions to block the re-negotiation of New Start, the last pillar of the system. He is now considering ending the moratorium on nuclear tests, “an invitation for other nuclear-armed countries to follow suit,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

The military industry can scarcely control its euphoria over the flood of gifts from the public to develop new weapons to destroy us all, encouraging adversaries to do likewise so that down the road, new grants will flow to try to counter the new threats to survival. A hopeless task, as virtually every specialist knows, but that is not pertinent; what matters is that public largesse should flow into the right pockets. In the midst of an unprecedented respiratory pandemic, Trump’s minions are seeking to increase air pollution, which makes COVID-19 more deadly.

Trump also has continued his dedicated campaign to destroy the environment that sustains human life. His FY 2020 budget proposal, issued while the pandemic was raging, called for further defunding of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health-related components for government, compensated by increased support for the fossil fuel industries that are destroying the prospects for survival. And, as usual, more funding for the military and for the [border] wall that is a central part of his electoral strategy. The corporate leaders Trump has installed to supervise environmental destruction are quietly eliminating regulations that somewhat constrain the damage and that protect the population from poisoning water supplies and the air they breathe. The latter reveals sharply the malevolence of the Trump phenomenon. In the midst of an unprecedented respiratory pandemic, Trump’s minions are seeking to increase air pollution, which makes COVID-19 more deadly, endangering tens of thousands of Americans. But it doesn’t much matter. Most have no choice but to live near the polluting plants — [those] who are poor and Black, and who vote the “wrong” way.

Again, there are beneficiaries: his prime constituency of private wealth and corporate power.

Turning to the third concern of the Doomsday Clock analysts, Trump has accelerated his program to dismantle American democracy. The executive branch has been virtually dismantled, converted to a collection of cowardly sycophants who do not dare to offend the master. His latest step was to fire the State of New York prosecutor who was investigating the swamp that Trump has created in Washington

Truth Out for more

The soul in itself

July 7th, 2020

by NICHOLAS CANNARIATO

PHOTO/ Fechner’s On Life after Death.

Gustav Theodor Fechner’s soul neither defies naturalism nor depends on revelation.

The soul exists. That’s what it does. It doesn’t need traditional religion or occultist speculation to justify, let alone explain, its existence. The soul can simply be a thing-in-itself, free from purpose or the need to be redeemed or maintained or isolated for study. We often talk about the soul simply as the nonmaterial and thus mysterious aspect of our being, something we feel but can’t point to—or what is silent and constant, enclosed in our mortal coil. It’s also entirely possible that there’s no nonmaterial part of our being, and whatever intangible dimension of ourselves we feel or think we feel is just, as yet, unexplained by science. Or maybe we do have souls, but they die with the body. Given such speculative uncertainty, the closest approach to the soul for many without recourse to religious reassurance is “consciousness,” though this may amount to no more than replacing one word with another.

But if one wishes to give form to spirit, as well as cast off the yoke of moralism and dogma, the work of Gustav Theodor Fechner (1801–87), a nineteenth-century German physicist, philosopher, and psychologist, may be one place to begin. His work may have even more traction now, in a time of declining religious affiliation, when many people (the so-called nones) seek replacements for more dogmatic versions of spiritual reality but resist succumbing to mere hedonism or nihilism. A concept of the soul that neither defies naturalism nor depends on revelation or dogmatic authority is thus more appealing than ever.

Fechner’s Little Book of Life after Death (1836) is a modestly sized yet ambitious treatise on the immortality of the soul. (His later Zend-Avesta: On the Things of Heaven and the Hereafter [1851] continues his thinking on the soul and related matters.) Available to the English-speaking world largely because of Mary C. Wadsworth’s 1904 translation (with a short introduction by William James, who praised its “daylight view” of the world “as inwardly alive and consciously animated”), the book presents the soul as something real and immortal, not just a philosophical construct. It treats the soul monistically, essentially dissolving the long-lived and very tired mind/body dichotomy. Fechner collapses dichotomies of God and human, material and spiritual, consciousness and matter, to create a unified tapestry of seeming immanent and transcendent reality.

Fechner begins his Little Book by framing life as a progression of stages. The first stage is gestation. The second is life itself, in which the senses orient people toward the world around them and, ideally, the spiritual permeating it. The third stage is, for lack of a better term, the afterlife, life after seeming death. Like many traditional religious believers, Fechner sees this world as a preparation for the world to come, although for him this next world is also really this world, just out of focus.

Addressing the connection between human experience and nature, Fechner argues that a bond exists between the two. He calls it “the spiritual limbs of the man, which he exercises during life while still bound to a spiritual body, to an organism full of unsatisfied, up-reaching powers and activities, the consciousness of which still lies outside of him, though inseparably interwoven with his present existence, yet, only in abandoning this, can he recognize it as his own.” Don’t believe only in what you see. Believe also in what animates you.

Hedgehog Review for more

Coronavirus further imperils refugees, internally displaced in Nigeria

July 6th, 2020

by LINUS UNAH

A woman goes in search of water at the Dalori camp for people displaced by Boko Haram, near Maiduguri in Nigeria’s Borno state. PHOTO/Linus Unah.

Anthonia Ojong is a refugee in Nigeria’s southeastern state of Cross River, which borders Cameroon. The 55-year-old woman lives with her family of seven at a refugee settlement in the town of Ogoja. 

More than three years of intense fighting between Cameroonian security forces and separatist fighters seeking independence for the anglophone minority has forced nearly 700,000 people in the mainly English-speaking regions of Cameroon to flee their homes. 

Around 58,000 Cameroonian refugees have been registered in the southern Nigerian states of Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Imo as well as in the central and northern states of Benue and Taraba respectively. 

Since she crossed the border to Nigeria in late 2017, Ojong and her family have depended largely on the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, for support. The family makes additional income by working in nearby farms. 

But now they face a new threat: COVID-19. 

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria in late February, the number of cases has continued to rise rapidly. As of June 7, Nigeria has recorded 12,486 cases of COVID-19, of which 3,959 have recovered and 354 have died. 

Benue, Taraba, and Akwa Ibom –all Nigerian states with Cameroonian refugees– have active cases of COVID-19. Cross River is the only state in the country without an active case of the virus, but lack of testing could belie the real situation there.  

Ojong, a widow, is worried that she might be unable to purchase food from local markets after the prices of food items soared amid restrictions on movement and lockdowns.  

The UNHCR offers a cash-based intervention (CBI) of 4,600 naira ($12) monthly to enable refugees purchase food. 

“I depend mainly on the CBI for survival,” she says, “but with prices of food going up we are struggling to survive.” For example, a circular container of garri, a staple made from processed cassava, now costs 12,000 naira ($31), a four-fold increase from the price in February. 

Beyond food, the larger problem is the impact of the pandemic on the aid sector and how it could exacerbate humanitarian needs. 

Since late March, Nigeria has banned interstate road trips as well as domestic and international flights. All land borders were also closed because health officials worried that Nigeria’s porous land borders could impede efforts to tackle the coronavirus if people entered and exited the country at will. 

These restrictions are taking a toll on humanitarian operations, causing access constraints, disrupting supply chains and affecting delivery of humanitarian goods and assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees. 

A humanitarian worker in Cross River said some staff have been laid off by aid organizations partnering with UNHCR to support Cameroon refugees due to limited operations. 

“The camps are almost empty as refugees are moving to border villages to look for farm labor to survive,” she explains. 

Nowhere is this impact more felt than in Nigeria’s northeast region where Boko Haram’s ten-year insurgency is making life unbearable for local people.

The conflict has killed more than 36,000 people and displaced 1.8 million people inside Nigeria. 

Nearly 80 percent of the displaced populations are in Borno state, the epicenter of the crisis. 

Toward Freedom for more

Trump: “the lone warrior”

July 6th, 2020

by B. R. GOWANI

Demonstrators march in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in the Brooklyn borough of New York City on June 6, 2020, following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. PHOTO/Stephanie Keith/Getty Images/Pew Research Center

on June 30, Trump, in all capital letters, tweeted:

THE LONE WARRIOR!

reporters, writers, and the public made fun of him

of course, Trump’s bravado is present in his statement

one can see the glaring irony that opens it up to funny responses

such as, his dodging the draft during the US war against Vietnam

but I think they all are missing the real picture

Trump’s rating in the polls have dipped substantially

only 19% of his own Republicans are happy with the state the country is in

so his daughter Ivanka and his advisors are reading the writing on the wall

they all must be trying hard to reign in Trump’s divisive talk

but Trump has a serious problem figuring out that this is not 2016

in some respects, things have changed drastically throughout the US

67% of the people in in this country support Black Lives Matter or BLM

but Trump still feels he can carry on with his racist bull shit

that’s the reason Trump feels lonely and thus: “the lone warrior”

two days prior to the above tweet, Trump had tweeted:

“THE VAST SILENT MAJORITY IS ALIVE AND WELL!!! We will win this Election big. Nobody wants a Low IQ person in charge of our Country, and Sleepy Joe is definitely a Low IQ person!” — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2020

Trump is again wrong

many in the silent majority have witnessed Trump’s COVID-19 handling

Trump has blood on his hands, including of the silent majority

besides, 54% of the people do want to vote for “Sleepy Joe”

B. R. Gowani can be reached at brgowani@hotmail.com

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza, 1964—2020

July 6th, 2020

by ANN GARRISON

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza, 1964—2020

Burundi is Africa’s Syria and Venezuela, a developing nation that dared to defy US dictates under Nkurunziza’s leadership.

“His legacy is his effort to reconcile Burundi’s Hutu and Tutsi classes and end the deep-seated, centuries-old hatred between them.”

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza, died suddenly on June 8th, reportedly of a heart attack. The new president, Évariste Ndayishimiye , who had been elected on May 20th, was sworn in ten days later, two months earlier than planned, in accordance with a decision by Burundi’s judiciary.

Burundi is a tiny East African nation bordering Rwanda to the north, Democratic Republic of Congo to the east, and Tanzania to the west and south. It is Africa’s Syria and Venezuela, a developing nation that dared to raise an independent head, contracted with a Russian firm to mine its nickel reserves, then survived the ensuing Western propaganda and covert operations. Russia and China came to Burundi’s aid by vetoing UN Security Council resolutions to censure it, which would have laid ground for a military intervention of one sort or another. Samantha Power, the USA’s violent, know-it-all Ambassador to the UN from 2013 to 2017, was as furious as she was when Russia and China vetoed resolutions to censure Syria.

Burundi is on the western edge of China’s One-Belt, One-Road Initiative in Africa. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was quick to send his condolences to Burundians upon Nkurunziza’s death, writing, “We express our condolences to the people of the Republic of Burundi for the regrettable and unexpected physical departure of its president, Pierre Nkurunziza. My respect and solidarity with our brothers and sisters of Mother Africa at such a difficult time. Embrazos!”

I spoke to Edgar Muvunyi Tabaro, the author of an eloquent tribute first published in The  Observer , a Ugandan outlet.

Ann Garrison: Edgar, your essay “Fare Thee Well, President Nkurunziza” is complex, nuanced, and historical, and I recommend it to anyone seeking to further understand the African Great Lakes Region. Could you summarize what you most hoped to make people understand about President Pierre Nkurunziza, what you hope his legacy will be?

Edgar Muvunyi Tabaro: President Nkurunziza taught at Burundi University and the military academy. His mother was a Tutsi nurse and his father a Hutu governor. The Hutu and Tutsi identities transfer patrilineally, from father to children, so he was a Hutu, but nevertheless born to an elite class. Despite privilege, he conducted his presidency in humble simplicity. He was very much in touch with the Hutu peasant majority, very accessible to them. His legacy is his effort to reconcile Burundi’s Hutu and Tutsi classes and end the deep-seated, centuries-old hatred between them. 

He also kept his promise to step down and hand power over to a successor chosen by the people in a democratic election. Word had it that he wanted his party’s 2020 nomination to go to the president of the national assembly, the lower chamber of Burundi’s legislature, but the party’s executive committee preferred General Évariste Ndayishimiye, and he accepted that.

AG: You wrote about the assassination of Louis Rwagasore, a Tutsi prince who married a Hutu and joined a prominent Hutu politician to forge a movement that would move Burundi beyond polarization of the Hutu and Tutsi classes. Tutsi supremacists assassinated Rwagasore just before he was to become prime minister, then assassinated two Hutu prime ministers elected to follow him. The tyrant who then came to power committed genocide against 300,000 Hutu people. Can you explain what was so extraordinary about the way that President Nkurunziza engaged with this history?

Black Agenda Report for more

Turf battles between Melania Trump, Ivanka Trump revealed in book

July 6th, 2020

by KAREN TUMULTY

“The Art of Her Deal” claims that Melania delayed her move to Washington after her husband became president to gain more leverage in renegotiating the couple’s prenuptial agreement.

Among modern first ladies, none has been such an enigma as Melania Trump.

A largely ornamental presence in public, she speaks so rarely – and says so little when she does – that people across the political spectrum have been left to make their own interpretation of the Meaning of Melania.

Was that swat when her husband reached out to hold her hand in Tel Aviv a sign of trouble in the marriage? The glower during his inaugural address a repudiation of what he was saying? Does she feel trapped in a White House where she and the president appear to be leading separate lives under a single roof?

A whole “free Melania” genre of humor has grown up in Democratic circles and among late-night comedians.

But a new, impressively reported book by my Washington Post colleague Mary Jordan has pulled back the veil. It reveals the first lady to be a power player in her own right, one driven by a very clear sense of her own self-interest.

“The Art of Her Deal,” which will be released Tuesday, has already made headlines with its revelation that the first lady delayed her move to Washington after her husband became president to gain more leverage in renegotiating the couple’s prenuptial agreement. Among her concerns was assuring that her young son Barron would be treated equitably with the other Trump children when it comes time to be assigned a role in the family business and eventually collect his inheritance.

The book also details the turf battles that have erupted between the first lady and her stepdaughter Ivanka, who takes a far higher public profile, who flaunts her influence and who, Jordan reports, at one point proposed that the “First Lady’s Office” be renamed the “First Family Office.” Melania nixed that idea.

But the most significant insight to be gained from reading “The Art of Her Deal” is Jordan’s discovery of how much alike the first lady and her husband are in character and priorities, despite their vastly different styles and temperament. This, perhaps, explains why Donald Trump’s third marriage has outlasted his previous two.

“She is seen as the good-hearted princess who needs to be saved from her rapacious and bullying husband, the vulnerable immigrant swept up in his presidential ambitions who cried the night he was elected, the vapid and shallow model with nothing much to say about the world, the lucky beauty who just happened to be in the right place at the right time,” Jordan writes. “Yet she is none of those things.”

Much like her husband, Melania Trump has airbrushed her past and exaggerated her achievements. She has claimed that she graduated from design school and earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture. In fact, she dropped out of college after her first year to pursue modeling. Her respectably successful career in that field has also been inflated, with claims that she was a “supermodel.”

As President Trump does, Melania demands iron loyalty, but it is a one-way street. Jordan’s book is filled with stories of people who helped her along the way, only to never hear from her again after they were no longer useful.

Jordan also discovered that there is no evidence to back up the first lady’s claims to speak five languages. Melania knows a few words in Italian and French – including “bonjour” and “ciao” – but has never demonstrated fluency in any language but English and her native Slovene.

NDTV for more

Weekend Edition

July 3rd, 2020

NAACP & ADL approach against Facebook is not very bright

July 3rd, 2020

by B. R. GOWANI

PHOTO/Duck Duck Go

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook is just interested in money

he has met Trump so that he doesn’t act against Facebook

hateful stuff is common on Facebook and other social media sites

Facebook is under pressure to take off hate-inciting materials

Zuckerberg is so powerful that he doesn’t care about such things

that is, up until now

NAACP, ADL, others joined hands to force advertisers to boycott Facebook

the ADL or Anti-Defamation League is an Israel Lobby in the United States

it silences people who are critical of Israeli occupation of Palestine

NAACP’s record is not unstained either

it supports big harmful corporations to get a bit of money

some of the big companies have started the boycott of Facebook

the list is growing by leaps and bounds

the boycotts are all temporary and won’t have much effect on Facebook

what is really needed is to ask people en masse to quit Facebook

this could be made possible by involving Democratic Party leaders

they with celebrities and others should convince people to boycott

this will save the people from more ignorance and misinformation

it will also help them to escape the clutches of Zuckerberg

B. R. Gowani can be reached at brgowani@hotmail.com

The fruits of anger

July 3rd, 2020

by BRIAN WONG

American Civil Rights activist Malcolm X (left) pictured in New York in 1963. His radicalism helped shape public discourse. PHOTO/Robert L Haggins/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty

To those who say anger is destructive or pointless: Not so! Getting angry spurs and sustains us to take action for justice

You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”

Greta Thunberg, 23 September 2019, New York

At her speech at the United Nations summit on the impending climate crisis, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg spoke with passion and anger, calling out those who have been apathetic towards bringing about global warming. Her speech was criticised by many for Thunberg’s bellicosity, which allegedly put off potential sympathisers to the movement. Anger is alienating, upsetting and even exclusionary under particular circumstances – yet one can’t help but feel that Thunberg’s anger is at least partially justified. After all, it is decades of unbridled carbon emissions and industrialisation that have led us to the mess we are in today.

Thunberg’s speech – and what we make of it – epitomises an age-old conflict between those who oppose anger for its seemingly counterproductive consequences, and those who find anger a natural and appropriate human emotion with value in both public and private spheres. From the righteous, worldwide anger that launched the 2017 Women’s March, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration as president of the United States, to the nihilistic anger propelling the anti-extradition bill movement in Hong Kong, to the fearful anger emanating from the ongoing anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests across India – the question is the same: what is the value of anger?

For Aristotle, anger was ‘a desire accompanied by pain for perceived revenge caused by a perceived slight, of the sort directed against oneself or one’s own, the slight being undeserved’. Anger is thus reactive towards a perceived violation, and embeds within it a vindictive yearning for revenge. Think about that time your best friend lied to you, or when your cherished bike was stolen – it hurt, but it also made you feel as if you were owed answers.

The philosopher Amia Srinivasan at the University of Oxford is an advocate of anger’s merits. Her work makes the case for anger by drawing extensively on fields ranging from political science and sociology to feminist epistemology. Among the many arguments in her seminal article, ‘The Aptness of Anger’ (2018), she notes that anger can be productive epistemically – that is, in the production, shaping and organising of our knowledge and understanding. It better enables victims to make sense of their oppression by heightening their emotions and allowing them to focus on specific features of their victimisation. Victims of injustice or circumstance are often told by their oppressors to blame themselves; consider, for instance, the black single mother blamed for ‘choosing’ to become a ‘welfare queen’, or those languishing in caged homes in Hong Kong, who are told that their socioeconomic circumstances are their own fault. Gaslighting and dismissal of their lived experiences are part and parcel of everyday life for the voiceless. Anger supplies those who are wronged or slighted with the resilience to say: ‘No! It is not my fault.’ It clarifies the injustice that befalls them, enabling individuals to make sense of their situations by access to their authentic feelings.

Anger is epistemically valuable not just for the individual, but also for those around them. The philosopher Alison Jaggar at the University of Colorado Boulder observes in Just Methods (2014) that ‘anger becomes feminist anger when it involves the perception that the persistent importuning endured by one woman is a single instance of a widespread pattern of sexual harassment’. It is an emotion that both transcends and unites people by providing context for an individual’s grievances. Those on the 2017 Women’s March found solace and reassurance in their shared anger, in knowing that they were not the only ones outraged by the country’s decision to elect Trump as its president. When co-opted skilfully by just causes, anger enables victims to identify similarities in their lived experiences, overcoming the superficial differences that drive them apart.

Aeon for more