Democracy

Ed Hancox

Six of The Mantle's bloggers tackle the question: what is the one story you are most interested in following in 2011? The answers, like the blogroll, vary in interest, region, and subject matter. Chinese environmentalism, Sudanese independence, and Arundhati Roy's political activism are just three of the topics that have our bloggers excited. Read on to learn more about what's on their radars for 2011.

Ed Hancox

The US Foreign Policy establishment is being roiled by the revelations emerging from the Wikileaks secret document dump – or maybe it isn't.  While the embarrassing Wikileaks leaks have made front pages around the globe, the reality so far is more heat than light: Italy's Silvio Berlusconi is a sleazebag, Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai is corrupt and possibly nuts, Russia's Dmitry Medvedev is playing Robin to Vladimir Putin's Batm

Carol-Ann Gleason

When one thinks of Cameroon, the country's vibrant music scene and consistently good national soccer team come to mind. Corruption and the curtailment of democratic freedoms aren't usually associated with this central Africa state. Perhaps that's because a paltry number of citizens can engage with the world via digital media. Carol-Ann Gleason discusses Cameroon's technological obstacles, and promises.

Max Currier

On October 30, political satirist Jon Stewart co-hosted a massive rally in Washington, D.C. The "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear," which attracted 215,000 Americans to the National Mall, was a call to bring greater civility to political discourse. In this essay, Max Currier, who attended the event, finds that Stewart's rallying cry and the philosophy on which it is based have serious implications for a politically charged, American democracy.

Shaun Randol

Recently I was struck by the similarities underlying dystopic visions found in a novel first published in 1953, and another released this year. In both Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story, the future America is an illiterate country. Americans are not only illiterate in both of these bleak futures, but they are illiterate (unwittingly or not, it’s difficult to say) as a result of their own design.

Shaun Randol

By the time I got home, my jeans were soaked, my shoes had puddles at the toes, and shivers signaled the onset of a mid-September cold. It was so worth it. Brooklyn Book Festival 2010 may have been drenched, but that didn’t keep me from feasting on literary splendors from near and far, at a veritable buffet of authors, critics, publishers, journalists, comedians and more.

Josh Linden

A very real challenge of state-building — particularly in areas devoid of institutionalized democracy — is striking the right balance between strong top-down leadership and social inclusivity. The cold efficiency of executive authority and the beautiful chaos of pluralism. Lean too heavily in either direction, and you may wind up with either a dangerous precedent of quasi-authoritarianism or a political system paralyzed by protracted and irreconcilable debate.

Ed Hancox

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has crafted an ambitious agenda; two key planks of which are fighting Russia’s endemic problem with corruption and moving the national economy away from its reliance on extraction-based industries (primarily oil and natural gas production) towards more value-added pursuits-Medvedev’s current pet project is the construction of a Russian “Silicon Valley” outside of Moscow.  It all sounds like a well-reasoned plan for the future, yet it’s worth noting that his predecessor, Vladimir Putin, made many of the same pledges, but his eight years in office ended witho

Shaun Randol

For the Jun/Jul/Aug issue of Bookforum magazine, Paul La Farge published a sketch of the utopian ideal, and the conceptions of utopia today. This is a quick response I shared with the editors of BF.

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Ed Hancox

Think for a minute about the Wakhan Corridor.  You say you’ve never heard of the Wakhan Corridor?  Don’t feel bad, not many people have since it is one of the most remote places on Earth.  Look at a map of Afghanistan; see that long, skinny piece jutting out from the northeast corner reaching over to China, the thing that sort of resembles a giant splinter sticking in the flank of the country?  That is the Wakhan Corridor, a mere ten miles wide in some areas, it is a place that owes its existence to th

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