The Society I Live In Is Mine

Paul Goodman was a public figure who did not shrink from taking action in support of his beliefs. In the biopic PAUL GOODMAN CHANGED MY LIFE you'll see him alongside draft resisters; speaking out at peace rallies; going before the Board of Ed with radical reform proposals for New York City schools; advocating the banning of cars from Manhattan; and telling elite defense contractors they're the world's most dangerous men. Goodman's formal career in politics advanced no further than a school board position on Manhattan's west side.

Nuke Me Once, Shame on You. Nuke Me Twice, Shame on Me.

First I want to say that the suffering in Japan is weighing heavy in my heart. Second I want to say we should all of us be taking extra care of ourselves right now. No matter what they say about immediate health threats or lack thereof, radiation anywhere threatens us everywhere, especially in East Asia, the Pacific, and western North America.

state of union, state of world

A lot of news has been happening lately, from Tunisia to Tucson. For those of us whose heartstrings vibrate merrily at the thought of revolution, it's pleasant to watch the Tunisian fever turning into a prairie fire across North Africa. Is Hosni hosed? Are they diggin' it across the Arabian peninsula and sayin' "Ye, men?" Are we digging the Palestine Papers, an autopsy on the corpse of the so-called peace process? Are we digging in our heels?

Are we enjoying the so-called resurgence of our great black-and-white changey-hope of a president?

when I'm gone

The year 2011—a half century from the innocence of the early 1960s—will mark the release of the documentary film Paul Goodman Changed My Life, a movie whose project is to revive the memory of, and introduce to a new generation, a nearly forgotten sixties figure who profoundly influenced that decade's countercultural and political awakening.

The doc market's a little crowded just now. Another biopic with the same mission just had its New York opening.

Election Special: Better a Frenemy

Q: What's spookier than Halloween?

A: Election day.

For partisans of peace and justice, this has been the most depressing election season in recent memory: Harvey Wasserman called it "a horrendous death spasm for a dying empire. The cancerous flood of corporate money pouring through the process has taken the corruption of what's left of our democratic process to new post-imperial depths." I seethe at the bitter irony that this metastasizing money meltdown resulted from something called Citizens United.

I Am Become Death (part 2)

If the damage that nuclear stockpiles, never fired, have done to domestic rule of law in the United States of America concerns you, rest assured that at the international level it's only more manifold. After all, many people around the world have noticed that the American president, and certain other Leaders of Nations, reserve for themselves the right to murder other people by the hundreds of millions and maybe put an end to complex life on planet Earth.

I Am Become Death (part 1)

One of the most brilliant quips from the social critic Paul Goodman is that "technology is a branch of moral philosophy, not of science." Goodman was astute enough to recognize that technological "progress" was not a monolithic process but the consequence of many decisions made by individuals and institutions. Any specific technology will bring about changes, sometimes unexpected ones, for good or ill, often both.

War: "the activity of decades"

What would Paul Goodman have thought about the war in Afghanistan? Nothing much different than what he thought about the war in Vietnam, I expect.

More interesting to me is what he might have thought about 9/11, the awful event that made the war in Afghanistan appear inevitable, and to many at the time, self-evidently justified. This, too, is an easy one. I mean, come on: the guy was against World War II. If Pearl Harbor wasn't enough of a casus belli for him, it's a cinch he would have taken 9/11 in stride.

I was in New York that day and the months that followed.