News & Analysis

Post Category Key

Third Coast: An Update on Our Activities

Many people in the Austin area know the Third Coast Activist Resource Center from our work opposing the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the larger critique of the U.S. empire. Others first encountered Third Coast at 5604 Manor, the community center we bought and developed in collaboration with the Workers Defense Project. And, […]

Next System Project, Part II

 The Next System Project helps us face creatively the systemic challenges we face now and in the near future. The second volume of the project’s “New Systems Series” includes: Building A Cooperative Solidarity Commonwealth: Jessica Gordon Nembhard describes a system that seeks to establish and strengthen economic participation from the bottom up through interlinking networks of […]

Next System Project

Where can we look for the new ideas needed for a decent human future? The Next System Project gathers the work of people thinking the systemic challenges we face now and in the near future. From the project’s web site: Responding to real hunger for a new way forward, and building on innovative thinking and […]

Ecological News and Analysis

When mainstream media don’t offer the critical analyses that we need to understand the multiple, cascading ecological crises of our time, where can we look for information and insight? There are many good sources, including A project of the Post Carbon Institute, this website offers no-nonsense writing on energy, agriculture, and the economy. Collecting […]

Third Coast’s Robert Jensen has published a new book, Plain Radical: Living, Loving, and Learning to Leave the Planet Gracefully, an account of his intellectual, political, and emotional relationship with his late friend Jim Koplin. A reviewer in the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes: If at the beginning of “Plain Radical” you wonder what kind of […]

Nuclear Threats, at Home and Abroad

As politicians jockey for position on the Iran nuclear deal, the political and media conversations assume that Iran poses an existential threat that requires an international response led by the United States. Nuclear weapons surely pose a threat not only to peace but to our existence, but what nations pose the greatest threats? With his […]

“There Is No Post-Racial America”

Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of the new book “Between the World and Me,” reminds us that the term “post-racial” is a farce: As many of our sharper activists and writers have pointed out, America’s struggle is to become not post-racial, but post-racist. Put differently, we should seek not a world where the black race and the […]

Mainstream Media in Baltimore

Karen Attiah, the Washington Post’s Opinions Deputy Digital Editor, masterfully skewers both the mainstream media and the arrogance of the United States in “How Western media would cover Baltimore if it happened elsewhere.” She begins the piece If what is happening in Baltimore happened in a foreign country, here is how Western media would cover it: […]

Jewish Voice for Peace in the Austin American-Statesman

Tuesday’s Austin American-Statesman arrived on local doorsteps with an op/ed by Bernice Hecker of the newly formed Austin chapter of the national organization Jewish Voice for Peace. Read the full article below or at the Austin American-Statesman. —– Bernice Hecker: Israeli election requires introspection for U.S. Jews Tuesday, March 31, 2015 print edition The hearts […]

Noam Chomsky on “The End of History?”

Noam Chomsky, with his characteristic candor, ponders whether human civilization “may now be approaching its inglorious end” in an essay on the twin threats of war and ecological crises. That essay draws on a thought-provoking analysis by Arundhati Roy, “Is Democracy Melting?“: Arundhati Roy suggests that the “most appropriate metaphor for the insanity of our […]

Capitalism v. Climate

Naomi Klein’s new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, offers a blunt statement of today’s central problem: “[O]ur economic system and our planetary system are now at war. Or, more accurately, our economy is at war with many forms of life on earth, including human life.” The book, and a companion film directed […]

On Israel and Palestine

Many people assume the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is particularly difficult to understand, perhaps even convoluted beyond a solution. When I started educating myself about U.S. foreign policy in the late 1980s — topics like Central America, Iraq and Iran, and corporate-led globalization — I avoided what I assumed was the dizzyingly complicated topic of Israel/Palestine. But […]

With economic and ecological crises deepening, more people are facing the harsh reality that modern high-energy/high-technology ways of living—along with the economic system out of which they emerged—have to change if the Earth is to sustain a large-scale human presence in the future. If the American “way of life” is incompatible with a sustainable future, […]

Rape, rape culture and the problem of patriarchy

The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault released its final report in the middle of a debate about how to understand rape and rape culture. That report includes no mention of the problem of patriarchy and no hint of a feminist critique of men’s violence, which Robert Jensen argues is essential […]

In a review of a new book on mainstream news coverage of the financial crisis, UT professor Robert Jensen suggests that the model of contemporary professional journalism is inadequate to deal with the multiple crises–cultural, political, economic, and ecological–that we face. Jensen points out that “watchdog journalism” focuses on misbehavior by powerful people within existing […]

Realistic Left Politics in Texas

In an op/ed in the Austin American-Statesman, Robert Jensen and Patrick Youngblood of Third Coast point out that while Texas politics is particularly reactionary, the deeper problem is a U.S. political culture that can’t face reality. We spend little time decrying the ideological fanaticism of Republicans but instead highlight differences between our work on global […]

Owen Jones of The Independent in the UK explains how attempts at expanding social justice in Venezuela are being undermined in his column “Socialism’s critics look at Venezuela and say, ‘We told you so’. But they are wrong.” “Does this mean that Venezuela is some sort of paradise?” Jones asks. No, but don’t count on […]

Sharp Left Turn for the Media Reform Movement

Robert McChesney, one of the United States’ most astute media critics, has written an important article, “Sharp Left Turn for the Media Reform Movement: Toward a Post-Capitalist Democracy,” in the February issue of Monthly Review. As a co-founder of Free Press, McChesney has been a central figure in the media reform movement that has over […]

Getting Past Capitalism

The profound failures of capitalism — at the personal, political, and ecological levels — are more evident than ever. (Here’s a quick primer on “Anti-capitalism in five minutes or less.”) The space for honest conversation about how we can transcend this pathological economic system is opening up, albeit slowly. Last month in Austin, for example, […]

The Year of Surveillance

Some of the biggest stories of the year came from Edward Snowden’s revelations about the scale and scope of the National Security Agency’s spying and data collection. In his first extended interview, “Edward Snowden, after months of NSA revelations, says his mission’s accomplished,” Barton Gellman, the Washington Post reporter who helped break the stories, gives […]

Climate Change as “Intergenerational Injustice”

James Hansen is the lead author on an important new study, “Assessing “Dangerous Climate Change”: Required Reduction of Carbon Emissions to Protect Young People, Future Generations and Nature.” The scientists put it bluntly: Continuation of high fossil fuel emissions, given current knowledge of the consequences, would be an act of extraordinary witting intergenerational injustice. Responsible […]

Climate Justice Movement

At “COP 19” — the 19th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol — in Warsaw, activists are “demanding action on climate change.” The best coverage of the meeting is on Democracy Now! For years, activists have been pressing the need for “climate justice,” a call for a worldwide accounting climate […]

Climate science is telling us all to revolt

Canadian journalist Naomi Klein explains that if we take climate science seriously, we have to challenge the basic dogmas of corporate capitalism. In “How science is telling us all to revolt,” Klein points out that scientists are increasingly getting involved in political movements, as the evidence about climate change mounts and it becomes clearer that […]

The Difficulty of Looking at Climate Change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issues a new report, a new study shows that children will bear the brunt of the impact of climate change because of their increased risk of health problems, malnutrition and migration, and despite the overwhelming scientific consensus, big business continues to fund efforts to discredit climate science. Rebecca Solnit […]

Many well meaning Americans trying to follow foreign policy are treated to a disjointed, confusing narrative that jumps from one flashpoint to another. Every few weeks a new crisis dominates the news, the reporting adds little to our understanding of the way the world works, and the resulting debate is shallow and familiar. Current news […]

Workers Defense Project featured in New York Times

The Workers Defense Project, one of the partners in the progressive community center 5604 Manor, is the subject of the lead article in the Sunday New York Times’ business section. Longtime Times labor reporter Steven Greenhouse made several trips to Austin for the reporting for “A Union in Spirit.” Cristina Tzintzun spoke on NPR’s The […]

NSA Scandal Deepens

The Guardian in London continues to provide the best coverage of the threat to civil liberties and privacy posed by increasingly expansive U.S. intelligence operations. Lawyer-turned-journalists Glenn Greenwald continues to do exemplary reporting and offer insightful analysis. His Twitter feed is a good place to get the top stories.

The Struggle for Reproductive Rights

Feminist struggles for equality have long included demands for sexual autonomy and abortion rights. As Andrea Dworkin put it in her classic book Right-Wing Women, freedom for women is predicated on, and could not exist without,  her own absolute control of her own body in sex and reproduction. This included not only the right to […]

Terror v. Surveillance?

For the most complete coverage of the state of the U.S. surveillance state, many are looking to The Guardian newspaper in London, and especially the writing of the lawyer-turned-journalist Glenn Greenwald. As is often the case, people in power suggest that the expansion of that power is necessary to protect ordinary people. In a piece […]

In the summer issue of YES! Magazine, UT Professor Robert Jensen suggests that the central illusion of the industrial world’s extractive economy is the naive belief that we can maintain indefinitely a large-scale human presence on the earth at something like current First-World levels of consumption. Our task is to face a tough truth: The […]

In his essay “The collapse of journalism and the journalism of collapse: From royal, to prophetic, to apocalyptic,” UT professor Robert Jensen uses those theological terms to talk about the challenge facing secular journalism: We have no choice but to deal with the collapse of journalism, but we also should recognize the need for a […]

Arguing for Our Lives

In Arguing for Our Lives: A User’s Guide to Constructive Dialog, published by City Lights, Third Coast co-founder and University of Texas professor Robert Jensen explores the anxiety and anguish so many feel in the face of economic and ecological crises on a global scale, when the stakes that seem higher than ever before. In […]

Critical Thinking in Crisis Times

We live in a time when public discourse is more skewed than ever by the propaganda that big money can buy, with trust in the leadership of elected officials at an all-time low. The “news” has degenerated into sensationalist sound bites, and the idea of debate has become a polarized shouting-match that precludes any meaningful […]

The U.S. Invasion of Iraq, 10 Years Later

Two questions are worth pondering this week as we mark the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq: What were the real reasons for the invasion? Was the invasion legal? In an op/ed in the Austin American-Statesman, “Important truths behind an anti-war slogan,” Robert Jensen argues that we need to recognize the role of […]

Rationally Speaking, We Are All Apocalyptic Now

The news about the health of the ecosphere is grim, and getting grimmer. This is on the minds of lots of people, but it’s often difficult to find places where others want to discuss this. Anyone who speaks bluntly about these threats risks being accused of being a downer. Robert Jensen addresses this problem in […]

University of Texas economist James K. Galbraith, one of the country’s leading analysts of the financial crisis, argues that increased inequality is a product of the rise of windfall profits in finance and the deregulation of markets. In an interview with “The Real News,” he explains how he makes the case in his new book, Inequality […]

MLK the Radical

The holiday to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement is a time not only to honor those achievements but to commit to continuing that work. Both those endeavors require us to remember King’s radical roots. In the dominant culture, King has become America’s all-purpose icon for racial harmony. To make King […]

We All Politicize History

Right-wing organizations love to suggest that radicals have taken over universities and are undermining students’ love of country. The latest expression of concern about this threat came from the National Association of Scholars and its Texas chapter in the report “Recasting History: Are Race, Class, and Gender Dominating American History?” The report warns: all too […]

In a provocative essay in the environmental magazine Orion, “Dark Ecology: Searching for truth in a post-green world,” Paul Kingsnorth faces honestly the difficult place we humans find ourselves in the midst of multiple, cascading ecological crises. Rejecting the technological fundamentalism and market madness of the “neo-environmentalists” — what he describes as “an old-fashioned Big […]

Joshua Farley, a leading writer and teacher in the field of ecological economics, in this interview explains why conventional economic thinking is a dead-end: I found that economists either failed to test their models, or else when reality contradicted them, argued that we should reshape the world to conform to their assumptions. No matter how […]

UT: What Starts Here Destroys the World

The university is one of the few institutions in contemporary U.S. culture that is dedicated to the practice of critical thinking, which is one of the reasons I was attracted to a career as a faculty member. My own experience of critical thinking has led to an often harsh critique of the systems and structures […]

Naomi Klein on Disaster Capitalism and Sandy

Naomi Klein’s analysis “of how the disaster capitalists are buzzing around the latest natural/human disaster, “Superstorm Sandy — a People’s Shock?” is in the November 26 issue of The Nation. The whole piece is available on Alternet. Just how crass can the disaster capitalists get? Yes that’s right: this catastrophe very likely created by climate […]

Why I vote: Community action begins at the ballot

Cristina Tzintzun, executive director of the Workers Defense Project in Austin, makes the case for voting as part of a holistic approach to political organizing and activism. In an essay on Al Jazeera English, she states: I realise that voting isn’t the most important thing I do to make a difference, but to honour those […]

Beyond Capitalism

Bill Moyers’ recent program on the plutocracy offers insights into the pathological politics and psychology of the super-rich. But what about the pathology of the economic system out of which the super-rich emerge? The problem is not abuses within capitalism, but capitalism itself. Such a predatory, amoral system not only leads to incredible inequality within […]

Climate Change: Extreme Weather and Dirty Oil

Although there is still not nearly enough reporting on climate change in the corporate/commercial news media, important stories are appearing. The Los Angeles Times, for examples, reports that “Some climate scientists, in a shift, link weather to global warming“: a few prominent climate scientists now argue that there have been enough episodes of drought and […]

Why We Won and How We Are Losing

In this review of three new books, Robert Jensen ruminates on what we can learn about contemporary crises by thinking about human origins. He begins: We label as “crazy” those members of the human species whose behavior we find hard to understand, but the cascading crises in contemporary political, economic, and cultural life make a […]

Raj Patel and Food Justice

In an interview in Earth Island Journal, the critically acclaimed writer Raj Patel talks about the failure of the Green Revolution, the beauty of the commons, and why industrial agriculture will never be the answer to our food woes. The author of bestsellers on food (Stuffed and Starved) and economics (The Value of Nothing), Patel […]

David Orr on “Thinking about the Unthinkable”

According to David Orr, one of the country’s most astute thinkers about the ecological and the cultural, “We live now in the defining moment of our species that will determine whether we are smart enough, competent enough, and wise enough to escape from a global trap entirely of our own making.” In this essay “Thinking […]

Despite overwhelming evidence of the depth of the ecological crises we face, mainstream political and theological institutions have avoided talking about the radical changes that are necessary. “The Apocalypse of the Teacher (The Book of the Great Divide)” is one writer’s attempt to present those questions in the form of a modern fable. The story […]

Purity Myths, Conservative and Liberal

Conservatives love purity myths, those stirring stories of how America was the first nation born without political original sin. It turns out that many liberals like the same myths, with a slightly different focus. George Lakoff and Glenn W. Smith indulge in that myth-making in their piece “How Romney-Ryan’s Budget Would Destroy America’s Soul” on […]

The Media, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Ayn Rand

Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate brings what the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer calls “the ghostly presence” of Ayn Rand to the Republican ticket. It’s not hard to understand why Rand’s reactionary hyper-libertarian philosophy has long been attractive to disaffected adolescents — it allows someone who is frustrated with the stupidity […]

Public Perception and Global Warming

Summer 2012, like most summers in recent memory, has brought an assortment of extreme weather that is becoming familiar – record-breaking fires (this time in Colorado), an iceberg twice the size of Manhattan breaking off of Greenland’s Petermann Glacier, and June was the 328th consecutive month with a global temperature higher than the 20th century […]

Author and activist Raj Patel, who spoke in Austin at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in 2009, is one of the most insightful critics of how capitalism distorts the world food system. In this new interview in Truthout, he explains: So it’s absolutely the case that we’re able to feed everyone if we wanted to, but […]

Sara Robinson offers “Six Reasons We Can’t Change the Future without Progressive Religion” on Alternet. One thing I’ve appreciated about the progressive church I attend, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian in Austin, is that people there are willing to confront the harsh realities of social and ecological breakdown. When the pastor there, Jim Rigby, takes a break, […]

Wendell Berry: “It All Turns On Affection”

Wendell Berry  is at his most insightful in the 2012 Jefferson Lecture, “It All Turns On Affection.” Here’s one of those many insights: Economy in its original—and, I think, its proper—sense refers to household management. By extension, it refers to the husbanding of all the goods by which we live. An authentic economy, if we […]

Every day are more studies and more voices sounding a warning about the dire state of the living world and the need for humans to dramatically alter the way we are drawing down the ecological capital of the planet. Arne Mooers, an expert on biodiversity at Simon Fraser University, sums it up without sugar-coating in […]

Inter Press Service reporter and Truthout contributor Gareth Porter has been awarded the 2012 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, a top UK award for reporting that tells “an unpalatable truth, validated by powerful facts.” In a series of extraordinary articles, Gareth Porter has torn away the facades of the Obama administration and disclosed a military […]

Noam Chomsky on NPR

NPR rarely engages radical critics, but this week the syndicated interview show “On Point” featured Noam Chomsky for an hour. Here’s how the show introduced the interview: These seem like big troubled times and Noam Chomsky joins us to give us his take on everything from the Occupy Movement to the Arab Spring. Noam Chomsky […]

This past week the writing of David Sanger of the New York Times offered additional documentation of what was already clear: The United States is at war with Iran. Sanger’s stories — “Obama Order Sped Up Wave of Cyberattacks Against Iran” and “Mutually Assured Cyberdestruction?” — draw on his new book, Confront and Conceal: Obama’s […]

Escalating Drone Strikes in Pakistan

The Institute for Public Accuracy provides an excellent update on the “Escalating Drone Strikes in Pakistan,” noting that the United States launched new drone strikes on Pakistan over the weekend, causing at least a dozen deaths in the tribal area of South Waziristan. Junaid Ahmad, a law professor at Lahore University of Management Sciences in […]

Alternet’s Joshua Holland offers a clear explanation of how firms such as Bain Capital make their money. Were it not such a sad statement about how superficial our political discourse has become, the indignant defenses of Bain Capital by self-flattering “centrists” in the media would be almost comical. The simple reality that has been totally […]

Steve Coll on the power of ExxonMobil

Former Washington Post managing editor Steve Coll gave an excellent talk at BookPeople in Austin about his book on ExxonMobil, “Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power.” A video of that presentation is online. (Thanks to Jeff and Grace of ZGraphix.) As former ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond said, “Presidents come and  go; Exxon doesn’t come and go.” […]

The Rise of the New Economy Movement

Alternet is running a series on innovative thinking in economics. The first piece was by Gar Alperovitz, “The Rise of the New Economy Movement.” As our political system sputters, a wave of innovative thinking and bold experimentation is quietly sweeping away outmoded economic models. In ‘New Economic Visions’, a special five-part AlterNet series edited by […]

Recession is a springboard for school reform

As a public high school teacher and a parent I think often about the role of schools in our society and closely follow the current debate over school reform. Recently I read a concise, insightful letter to the New York Times that has stuck in my mind, almost haunted me, since — To the Editor: […]

While the Occupy phenomenon has helped put inequality on the political map, it’s important not to mistake it for a political movement. Of course, “Occupy” can mean different things in different places, but Matthew Noah Smith makes an important point in his essay “Reflections on Occupy’s May Day: All Play Doesn’t Work”: I do not […]

Noam Chomsky continues to help us focus on the key political questions in this new essay on, “A Rebellious World or a New Dark Age?” As is typical for Chomsky, he doesn’t back away from an honest account of what we face: We’re really regressing back to the dark ages. It’s not a joke.  […]

Gary Dorrien on Economic Justice and Theology

Thorne Dreyer interviewed theologian and social ethicist Gary Dorrien on Rag Radio on April 27 on Austin’s community radio station, KOOP, 91.7 FM. Dorrien, an Episcopal priest and professor at Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University, was in Austin to speak at a conference on economic justice and theology. Dreyer also edits The Rag Blog. […]

Jim Rigby on Fundamentalism

Jim Rigby, a member of the Third Coast board and pastor at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, has been offering tips on “Self Defense from a Fundamentalist Attack” on his blog. Here’s the final installment: We come now to the end of our series on defending ourselves from fundamentalism. Today’s lesson is perhaps the most important, […]

Celebrating May Day

Whether or not we are in a decisive historical moment, as Marina Sitrin and Dario Azzellini argue in an essay on ZNet, politics-as-usual in the United States and around the world is being challenged. Around the world people are marking this with May Day celebrations of International Workers’ Day. There are lots of articles that […]

Jim Rigby on theology and economic justice

In this op/ed in the Austin American-Statesman, Jim Rigby argues that economic justice should be at the heart of Christian theology: In a culture where Christianity is increasingly fused in the public mind with right-wing politics, it’s more important than ever for people of faith to question the fundamental fairness of the economic system. Tonight […]

A good way to mark Earth Day is to step back and think about the state of the Earth, or “Eaarth,” as Bill McKibben suggests we rename the planet. McKibben explained his position in an appearance on Democracy Now! just before Earth Day 2010.

At a New York University conference on finance capitalism sponsored by a “Rethinking Capitalism” initiative, I had a chance to meet the great Indian economist Prabhat Patnaik. My interview with him is summarized in an essay, which is posted on a number of websites, including the Monthly Review. It begins: After an engaging half-hour interview […]

In this video of a talk at the Columbia University Business School, Zeynep Tufekci discusses how the Internet was used by activists in the Middle East to document corruption and abuse and to coordinate with each other in the public sphere during the Arab Spring uprisings. Zeynep, a professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel […]

NYT Magazine Profiles Robert Caro

I had a chance to meet journalist/author Robert Caro in 1984, and that day still ranks high on my list of most exciting brushes with great writers. His book on Robert Moses remains one of the classic modern political biographies. The NYT Magazine profile‘s description of him describes the guy I remember meeting nearly 30 […]

Climate Change: The News Keeps Getting Worse

Reports issued over the past few weeks remind us of the dramatic consequences of human intervention into ecosystems, and the terrifying prospects if we continue business as usual. From the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development comes “Environmental Outlook to 2050: The Consequences of Inaction.” The report focuses on what it calls “red light” issues: […]