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Articles by Robert Jensen

From the State Bank of Lake Park to a Critique of Capitalism

Resilience ·

Jim Koplin, who developed the most comprehensive and consistent radical left/feminist/anti-racist/ecological politics of anyone I have ever known, talked with great affection about his time as a bank teller.

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Can Bernie Sanders be labeled?

Nation of Change ·

Whatever the fate of Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid, his current popularity provides an opportunity to clarify the various political labels attached to him: liberal, progressive, socialist, democratic socialist, social democratic, leftist, radical.

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Robert Jensen on the art of journalism

The Hand On Heart Review/South Africa; reposted on Resilience.org ·
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Things White People Should Never Say

YES! Magazine, Summer 2015 ·

I am white, and the woman I’m meeting is black. I have lived in Austin, Texas, for more than two decades, and she recently moved here. We bumped into each other at an event and learned we have similar political interests. I invited her to coffee to talk about local organizing, and after introductions the first thing I say is, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you to join a nonprofit board.”

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American Journalism’s Ideology: Why the “Liberal” Media is Fundamentalist

ZNet ·

This memo is my response to an editor at a U.S. news organization who was soliciting feedback for a review of the organization’s coverage of environmental news. From a conservative point of view, this newsroom is part of the “liberal media.” My goal in the memo was to step back from that superficial, diversionary label and evaluate the deeper ideological commitments that shape mainstream news.

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The transgender problem for diversity politics

Dallas Morning News ·

The surge of discussion about transgenderism — and growing support for policy goals of the transgender movement, such as public funding for sex-reassignment surgery — leaves many liberal/progressive people conflicted.

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Resilience Reflections

Resilience ·

Resilience Reflections asks Robert Jensen what it is that inspires his work, and what keeps him going.

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Rolling Stone and Rape Culture

teleSUR ·

What do patriarchy and feminism have to do with the University of Virginia story, and why should journalists care?

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‘Epic Fail’: Feminism and Ecological Crises

Resilience ·

We humans are an epic fail.

In internet-speak, that term can be used derisively or sympathetically. A failure of grand proportions can be labeled “epic” either to mock or to offer condolences to someone who fails so completely. However, given the speed at which pop-culture fads come and go, I’m told by younger informants that the term is already long out of date and that to invoke it is a sign of irrelevance.

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Sainath’s Challenge

CounterPunch ·

P. Sainath started building the People’s Archive of Rural India only a couple of years ago. But the passion behind the innovative online project that mixes journalism and oral history, which was launched last month to overwhelming acclaim, goes back more than two decades.

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Feminism Unheeded

Nation of Change ·

For the past year, the media have been full of discussions of the endemic sexual violence in the contemporary United States, while at the same time pop culture has been celebrating the new visibility of the transgender movement. Both of these cases — which many take to be feminist successes — actually highlight patriarchy’s ability to adapt to challenges and undermine a radical critique of the domination/subordination dynamic at the heart of institutionalized male dominance.

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“You’re the Nigger, Baby, It Isn’t Me”: The Willed Ignorance and Wishful Innocence of White America

Rowman & Littlefied ·
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Extracting ourselves from the extractivist mindset

Resilience ·

Naomi Klein has written a brave book that not only confronts the calamity of climate destabilization but also examines the deep roots of the crisis in the perverse logic of capitalism and the dehumanizing values of the “extractivist” high-energy/high-technology world.

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There are Limits: Ecological and Social Implications of Trans and Climate Change

Dissident Voice, September 12, 2014 ·

We are biological creatures, part of an ecosphere, living in communities. Like any other organism, our genetic code sets parameters within which we live. The ecosphere is governed by laws of physics and chemistry that set the parameters within which all organisms exist. And we encounter the world not as isolated, independent individuals but through social systems that affect how we understand ourselves and the possibilities for our lives.

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New UT Chief’s Military Background Is Cause for Reflection

Common Dreams ·
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After the harvest — learning to leave the planet gracefully

Waging Nonviolence, June 13, 2014 ·

We must face what is beyond our capacity to bear and we must do so without giving into despair or turning away from the demands that ecological crises place on us.

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Some Basic Propositions about Sex, Gender, and Patriarchy

Dissident Voice ·

Within feminism there has been for decades an often divisive debate about transgenderism. With increasing mainstream news media and pop culture attention focused on the issue, understanding that feminist debate is more important than ever.

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Rape, rape culture and the problem of patriarchy

Waging Nonviolence ·

To confront the reality of rape and rape culture is to realize that vigorous prosecution of the small number of men who rape doesn’t solve the larger problem.

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The Ideology Problem: Thomas Patterson’s Failed Technocratic Dream for Journalism

Media Ethics ·

Thomas Patterson’s new book on the current crises in journalism is organized around six specific problems, starting with “The Information Problem” and moving through Source, Knowledge, Education, Audience, and Democracy problems.

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Barking dogs and sinking ships: Journalism’s search for metaphor and meaning

Texas Observer ·

Review: The Watchdog That Didn’t Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism by Dean Starkman

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Realistic left politics in Texas

Truthout; also published in Austin American-Statesman ·
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“Declaring victory wherever we can”: An interview with Cynthia Kaufman on “Getting Past Capitalism: History, Vision, Hope”

CounterPunch ·

I’m fond of books that don’t claim to have The Answer but instead are useful guides in our search for answers.

Such a volume is Cynthia Kaufman’s Getting Past Capitalism: History, Vision, Hope, which expresses in clear, concise language thoughts that likely have been bumping around in the minds of many of us who reject capitalism. The book is particularly powerful because of its modesty; Kaufman promises no new grand theory and instead offers insights that we all can use in our daily lives.

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Thanksgiving Anxieties, Political and Personal

Truthout ·
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Writers on Kennedy: Look Beyond Style

Austin Chronicle ·

Hero worship is politically debilitating, undermining grassroots organizing and impeding honest intellectual practice. A good example is the case of John F. Kennedy. A political assassination is both a personal tragedy for loved ones and an attack on democracy, and the anniversary of JFK’s assassination is a time for reflection on that brutality. But it should not be a time to revive the myth of Kennedy’s “Camelot,” nor to indulge the historical distortions necessary for such hero worship.

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The Future Must Be Green, Red, Black and Female

Truthout ·

The future of the human species – if there is to be a future – must be radically green, red, black and female.

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Without a Net

Texas Observer ·

It’s not easy being a human in the 21st century, knowing so much. The more we learn about how the world works, the more we realize how many ways we are destroying that world. Despite all that knowledge piling up, humans continue to treat the only home we have like a mine from which we can endlessly extract and a landfill into which we can endlessly dump.

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With Truce at the UT Factory, Time to Face Tough Choices

The Rag Blog ·

More than ever we need a university that refuses to serve power and instead focuses its resources on the compelling questions of social justice and ecological sustainability.

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Our Democracy?

Dissident Voice ·

The issue-packed title of this event—“Our Democracy in Crisis: The Rise of the Total Surveillance State and the War on a Free Press”—offers a panelist a number of potential targets. Given the expertise of other panelists on the specifics of surveillance and journalism, I want to focus on what may seem like the least controversial part of the title, “Our Democracy,” to which I would add a question mark.

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Peace Talks: New Chapter, Old Book

CounterPunch ·

New negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians may begin next week, with much talk of a “new chapter” in the seemingly intractable conflict. A new chapter, perhaps, but who is writing the book?

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Expanding The Dead-End Debate Over Abortion

Counter Currents ·
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The Craziest Person in the Room: Reflections on How a Mediocre White Guy Can Try to Be Useful

Racism Review, June 7, 2013 ·

Edited version of a talk at the National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education in New Orleans on June 1, 2013

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Get Apocalyptic: Why Radical is the New Normal

YES! Magazine ·

Feeling anxious about life in a broken-down society on a stressed-out planet? That’s hardly surprising: Life as we know it is almost over. While the dominant culture encourages dysfunctional denial—pop a pill, go shopping, find your bliss—there’s a more sensible approach: Accept the anxiety, embrace the deeper anguish—and then get apocalyptic.

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The Souls of Austin

The End of Austin ·

TEOA asked Robert Jensen, “How does a rapidly changing city avoid losing its soul?” Here is his response: The question presumes that Austin has a soul. I’m skeptical, for several reasons.

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Ready for Rationing?

Counterpunch ·
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The universe is an undifferentiated whole

Rabble.ca ·

An adapted excerpt from the book Arguing for Our Lives: A User’s Guide to Constructive Dialogue, by Robert Jensen, published by City Lights Books.

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Does God have a gender?

MS Magazine ·
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We Are All Ideological Now (and Always Have Been)

Truthout ·

An excerpt from Arguing for Our Lives: A User’s Guide to Constructive Dialog.

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Important Truths Behind an Anti-War Slogan

The Rag Blog ·

Underneath the complex relationships and shifting strategies, the obvious question lingers: If the Middle East were not home to the largest reserves of the most easily accessible oil in the world, would we have gone to war in Iraq?

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An illegal anniversary

Truthout ·
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Rationally Speaking, We Are All Apocalyptic Now

Truthout ·

If we are rational and consider objective scientific evidence of environmental collapse including groundwater depletion, topsoil loss, chemical contamination, ocean dead zones, species extinction, bio-diversity reduction and climate disruption, we need to be apocalypticists, argues Robert Jensen.

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