Political Animal Magazine2019-03-27T14:53:23+00:00


A Search for Meaning: The Hemingway Hero & Fifty-Grand

July 18th, 2019|

By Glen Paul Hammond

“All is vanity.”  –  Ecclesiastes 1:5

Ernest Hemingway’s work is rooted in the struggle of existence, in what Kierkegaard was said to describe “as the struggle of the living being against non-being” (May 19).  In the meaningless universe of the Old Testament’s Ecclesiastes, where generations replace generations in an endless cycle, even the search for meaning ends with an assertion that for the individual it must come from within, generated by an organism who creates his own values.  This is the Hemingway Hero: A man not victimized by the vicissitudes of life, but one who acts upon what life throws at him—an individual who, through an act of will, provides form to chaos; one who acknowledges that the harsh truths of life necessitate the preparedness to cope with its realities and, as a result, accepts the responsibility, as Jake Barnes does in Hemingway’s novel The Sun Also Rises, to act well rather than to act badly.  Hemingway’s protagonists are made heroic by a code of conduct that allows the individual to combat futility with dignity, a dignity derived from the self-control necessary to utilize the values that the hero himself has generated.  In one of Ernest Hemingway’s most famous short stories, Fifty-Grand, an illustration of such heroism is provided by its protagonist, the boxer Jack Brennan. (more…)

Civil Disobedience and the Separation of Powers

June 25th, 2019|

Restoring the Balance of Powers during the Trump Presidency

By: David Antonini 

Nearly three years into the Trump presidency, we should all be outraged by (among other things) his violation of constitutional and democratic norms. This is especially true in relation to the separation of powers. The separation of powers, it might be argued, is perhaps the single most important constitutional check on abuses of power by any single branch of the government. And while Trump’s seeming disregard for this constitutional mechanism has in one respect been a saving grace during his presidency—having invited the judiciary to over-rule several of his most controversial moves—the prospect of a president undermining this constitutional check should give us all pause.

Hannah Arendt’s enthusiasm for the separation of powers is no secret. She writes glowingly of this aspect of the American constitutional system in both On Revolution and her essay “Civil Disobedience.” However, an Arendtian perspective requires both appreciation and critique of the concept.

The way we think and talk about the separation of powers seems to imply that it is descriptive of only those within government—judges, elected officials, or the president. In other words, it is only these individuals who can check each other and that as citizens, our recourse or hope is that those within government share our concerns and will effectively check those who seek to abuse their power.

Short of voting for better elected officials who can go to Washington and help carry out this checking function, what are we to do? (more…)


Load More Posts


Load More Posts


Social Contract Theory

By |February 1st, 2019|0 Comments

When you make an agreement of some significance (e.g., to rent an apartment, or join a gym, or divorce), you typically agree to certain terms: you sign a contract. This is for your benefit, and for the the other party’s benefit: everyone’s expectations are clear, as are the consequences of failing to meet those expectations.

Load More Posts


Load More Posts