Harper’s Notes (1/30)

The Harper Review’s weekly newsletter: progressivism, limitarianism, neorealism, and more.

The editors

January 30, 2024

Islamophobia and progress: The Harper Review’s most recent letters to the editors on the question “Should we ever forget the past?” add important qualifications to our running debate. Rishaad Mollah writes on Islamophobia and the selective memory of the United States, arguing that if we are to remember the 2,977 people who were killed on 9/11, we must also remember the innocent civilians worldwide who have died as a result of aggressive American foreign policy. Mollah argues that it’s crucial to acknowledge and atone for American crimes that have slipped from our collective memory. In his letter, Pratyush Sharma claims that we must measure the progress of our society by reflecting on our history. Remembering both the successes and failures of the past aids us in our effort to achieve excellence; in turn, we find our place in history.

Perfect post-Valentine’s date idea: Visit the Seminary Co-op on February 15 to hear John J. Mearsheimer and Sebastian Rosato discuss their new book How States Think: The Rationality of Foreign Policy. In How States Think, Mearsheimer and Rosato, professors of political science at the University of Chicago and the University of Notre Dame, respectively, examine foreign policy decisions made by past and present world leaders to determine whether nations act rationally on the global stage. In doing so, the pair explores and clarifies the various behavioral theories scholars rely on when studying international relations. RSVP for the event at the link for a chance to ask Mearsheimer and Rosato about anything from behavioral economics to the Cold War.

When enough is enough: Ingrid Robeyns, a professor of philosophy at Utrecht University with a focus in wealth and ethics, has recently published a book titled Limitarianism: The Case Against Extreme Wealth. She argues that poverty can only be eradicated by employing strict limits to wealth accumulation. She begs the question: How much wealth is too much? While most studies on inequality focus on poverty reduction, Robeyns focuses on the flip side—what the effects of excessive private wealth have on society, democracy, and the environment. Robeyns writes that in the past three years, 60 percent of humanity has grown poorer while billionaires have become 34 percent richer. This massive shift in wealth distribution presents a new and dire issue that politicians will have to consider globally in upcoming 2024 elections. Her book attempts to demonstrate that a state policy of wealth limits can correlate with happiness levels.

How to stop the steal-stoppers: The ghost of January 6, 2021, still haunts American electoral politics. Was the Capitol riot a fluke or the beginning of a dangerous precedent in American elections? In How to Steal a Presidential Election, a book forthcoming from Yale University Press, Lawrence Lessig, a professor of law at Harvard, and Matthew Seligman, a fellow at the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford, explain that political candidates have less radical—yet still formidable—measures for overturning election results at their disposal, including vice-presidential intervention and election decertification. In this illuminating volume, Lessig and Seligman not only explain the loopholes in our electoral system but also make several recommendations for stabilizing elections and, even more critically, stabilizing our republic.