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Showing posts from September, 2013

The Alaska Forest/Ocean Divide

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Many Alaska communities, particularly in the southeast, are dominated by a contrast between two very different environments—the forest and the ocean.


My fiancée and I both grew up in Ketchikan, located near the southeasternmost edge of Alaska. We both love our hometown, but we have very different preferences for where we spend time in nature: I love the forest, and she loves the ocean. It's almost like a compatibility test based on the "classical elements," where I would be "earth" and she would be "water." Does that mean we're a good match?

The dramatic contrast between forest and ocean informs not only how Alaska couples spend their spare time, but also how communities have survived, died, or thrived—such as through logging, fishing, and tourism. To be sure, Alaska is the most immense and geographically diverse state in America—perhaps the most geographically diverse sub-national political unit on earth. There must be many other great contrasts …

The Irony and Historical Roots of White American Libertarianism

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Of all the questions you can ask about libertarians in the United States, here's one I donʼt hear said aloud (or see written) often: "Why does it seem like almost all American libertarians are white?"

In response to this, one answer might be that white Americans are more likely to be ignorant of their privileges and ignorant of the injustices experienced by others, leading them to believe government actions to alleviate such injustices are unnecessary. This makes some sense, to be sure, but it doesn't account for the fact that there are many white Americans (and others) who have experienced serious hardship and nevertheless hold to libertarian views. I'm going to offer a short (and inevitably simple) explanation of this conundrum by looking at history. Along the way I'll note that the seemingly overwhelming whiteness of American libertarianism is really a huge irony.