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Weekly Roundup: May 10


At the Blog

On Monday, Jessica Whyte examined the Biden Administration’s recent sanctions against West Bank settlers within the longer history of the use of economic coercion by the United States in Israel/Palestine to bolster “economic peace.” As she argues, both the visions of economic peace, and the forms of economic coercion mobilized to defend it, have shifted over time. While earlier sanctions punished those who disrupted the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process” or undermined neoliberal dreams of global commercial integration, more recent sanctions aim primarily to secure a peace deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, relegating Palestinians to observer status.

On Tuesday, David Pozen reflected on the legal-institutional forces that helped bring Columbia to its current conjuncture—all of which relate, in various mutually reinforcing ways, to the power of the president’s office. As Pozen argues, there’s been a decades-long drift toward more powerful university presidents, weaker (or no) faculty governance, and a tendency to view a large endowment as an end in itself, rather than as a means for supporting institutional functions. Reversing this drift, and developing a more democratic model of internal governance, may be a prerequisite not only for rebuilding intellectual community but also for avoiding future campus conflagrations.

And on Thursday, Pozen was back at it again, this time continuing our symposium on Aziz Rana’s The Constitutional Bind, which he praises for providing a vital resource for appreciating how the American ideology of constitutional reverence was constructed. Pozen wonders, however, to what extent we should see Americans’ tendency “to idolize a document that fails them” as a significant obstacle to democratic reform. As he notes, there are plenty of structural biases and barriers that make democratic reforms extraordinarily difficult to achieve regardless of the cultural climate. And several countries without this culture of constitution worship suffer from similar democratic deficits–which suggests that forces such as global capitalism buttress them more than any domestic constitutional ideology.

In LPE Land

In a recent episode of Ones and Tooze, Adam Tooze discusses Columbia’s various funding streams, the university’s incompetent financial management, and the politics of divestment.

Over at ProMarket, Jonathan Masur and Eric Posner argue that the FTC’s noncompete ban is lawful. (See also our recent post from Sandeep Vaheesan and Jonathan Harris, who argue it is both very legal and very cool).

In Jewish Currents, an interview with Aziz Rana on revisiting the anti-imperialism of the 1960s and ’70s amid the return of left internationalism.

In Dissent, Erin Pineda reviews Jefferson Cowie’s Freedom’s Dominion.

In Phenomenal World, Ariel Ron looks at commodity crops and the US agricultural sector.

At Dorf on Law, Guha Krishnamurthi explains how the incentive to shift potential tort liability may have contributed to university administrators’ decisions to call the police to clear encampments.

Reviewing Oliver Bullough’s Butler to the World and Kojo Koram’s Uncommon Wealth in the NYRB, Quinn Slobodian discusses the history of tax havens.