We were not born critical of existing society. There was a moment in our lives (or a month, or a year) when certain facts appeared before us, startled us, and then caused us to question beliefs that were strongly fixed in our consciousness-embedded there by years of family prejudices, orthodox schooling, imbibing of newspapers, radio, and television. This would seem to lead to a simple conclusion: that we all have an enormous responsibility to bring to the attention of others information they do not have, which has the potential of causing them to rethink long-held ideas. — Howard Zinn
One of the things I’ve always stressed on this blog (if not elsewhere) is the importance of keeping an open mind to any and all ideas that come your way. Far too often, even the most creative and well-educated of us can remain deeply entrenched in “comfortable” ways of thinking, avoiding ideas that are controversial, peripheral, offensive, or otherwise alien.
On a collective scale, these widely-accepted concepts become conventional wisdoms, the sort of things that almost everyone agrees are unquestionable or obvious (aka common sense). Many conventional ideas merit this widespread acceptance, though many others can also be incorrect and dated, with their continued widespread acceptance becoming detrimental. These flawed and irrelevant ideas remain in place only because people take them as a given, and are generally too afraid to challenge established or popular ways of thinking.
Thankfully, Foreign Policy, which rarely shies from challenging the status quo, has opened up the floor to some very interesting arguments and debates. Though the article in which these were published is a few months old, most of what is discussed remains topical now and into the future.
- Economies Can’t Just Keep On Growing, by Thomas Homer-Dixon
- Homeland Security Hasn’t Made Us Safer, by Anne Applebaum
- China’s Rise Doesn’t Mean War…, by Joseph S. Nye Jr.
- …And China Isn’t Beating the U.S., by Daniel W. Drezner
- Understanding History Won’t Help Us Make Peace, by Aluf Benn
- America Pressures Israel Plenty, by Leslie H. Gelb
- Actually, the Retirement Age Is Too High, by James K. Galbraith
- The Rich Really Don’t Care About the Poor, by Carl Pope
- The Global Economy Won’t Recover, Now or Ever, by Immanuel Wallerstein
- Sovereignty Is Far From Dead, by Nina Hachigian
- Democracy Is Still Worth Fighting For, by Morton Halperin
- Sometimes, the Conventional Wisdom Is Right, by Stephen Sestanovich