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Sidney Blumenthal on the Crisis of Democracy

There’s always been this strain, par­tic­u­lar­ly in American pol­i­tics, a skep­ti­cism about politi­cians. We’re in one of these peri­ods where there is such skep­ti­cism, but it runs deep­er.

Sidney Blumenthal on Being Advisor to Hillary Clinton

I have known Hillary for almost thir­ty years. And I hope that when this con­fer­ence takes place, she’s been elect­ed pres­i­dent. We share com­mon val­ues, polit­i­cal val­ues. But also I think that these are deeply root­ed in our own per­son­al expe­ri­ences. And these val­ues we’ve defend­ed against all sorts of peo­ple who have used what­ev­er means that they could, many of them under­hand­ed, in order to try and destroy rep­u­ta­tions, attack peo­ple per­son­al­ly, to engage in what we’ve called the pol­i­tics of per­son­al destruc­tion, but for polit­i­cal advan­tage and gain.

The Divided States of America

I think there’s a great deal of naiveté about how pol­i­tics actu­al­ly works. And this is where either wing—the Trump wing or the Sanders wing—don’t under­stand how pol­i­tics actu­al­ly works in Washington.

How Should We Do Politics?

I think that pol­i­tics has always been sus­cep­ti­ble to con­ver­sion so that it’s not actu­al­ly about liv­ing peo­ple it’s about sig­nal­ing mem­ber­ship with­in a par­tic­u­lar com­mu­ni­ty.

What is the Value of Culture?

In America now, you can defend the human­i­ties but only on eco­nom­ic grounds. So a the­ater improves a neigh­bor­hood. Or many peo­ple who study English become McKinsey con­sul­tants. But the fact is that you do it for itself, intrin­si­cal­ly, and you do it for the cul­ti­va­tion of the per­son and the cul­ti­va­tion of the cit­i­zen. Which should be reward enough.

Nihilism and Human Nature: Good or Bad?

I’m very dif­fi­dent towards val­ues, any kind of. Because you know, val­ues can be very dan­ger­ous. And as the poem of Yeats says, the pas­sion­ate inten­si­ty in believ­ing in some­thing can be very dan­ger­ous.