Love your enemies—it drives them crazy

By Robert Wright, editor of the Mindful Resistance Newsletter

Love your enemies—it drives them crazy: People often quote the Apostle Paul saying, in his letter to the Romans, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink.” People less often quote what Paul says next: “For by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.”

This passage came to mind after I read an email from Heidi, an MRN subscriber who is doing her best to transcend anger and hatred.

Heidi writes, “I volunteer, politically & socially, but I feel like possibly the biggest contribution I’m making right now is a commitment to be 100% positive online…  I don’t mean I don’t express sadness at events, but I’ve drawn a red line for myself so that I don’t either put out, or pass on, material that is angry, or even snide. I try to encourage and congratulate others, so it’s more than just an absence of negative, but just not spreading nastiness feels like a huge thing right now.”

But Heidi has a friend who tells her that “playing nice” is just “rolling over,” and Heidi has nagging doubts that “maybe my friend is right and I’m simply ceding ground out of cowardice to people who have no problem being angry.”

There are definitely times when skillfully channeled anger does some good. In fact, there are times when unskillfully channeled anger winds up doing some good. Still, it’s worth remembering that transcending anger and hatred isn’t just a mushy moral or spiritual ideal. Sometimes it’s a smart tactic, a way to thwart your enemy’s aims. Though scholars differ over the exact interpretation of Paul’s “burning coals” line, the basic idea seems to be that, as a practical matter, reciprocating antagonism usually isn’t the best way to fight it. Paul’s next sentence is, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” He’s offering a path not just to goodness but to victory—much as the Buddha was when he said, “Hostilities aren’t stilled through hostility… Hostilities are stilled through non-hostility.”

Again, whether this strategy works depends on your situation and your adversary. But when your adversary is a president who loves to be able to tell his supporters that you hate him, and hate them, and loves to depict you and your allies as dangerously uncivil extremists, then defying those stereotypes may indeed be a way to heap burning coals on his head. (And I commend Heidi—who says she thinks we should “impeach with compassion”—for presumably not taking any pleasure in that image.)

By the way, Paul’s observation wasn’t original. He was quoting almost word for word—and intentionally referencing—a verse from the book of Proverbs in the Hebrew Bible. And Proverbs, I would emphasize, is categorized as part of the “wisdom literature.”

Each week, the Mindful Resistance Newsletter presents a calm and balanced summary of the news along with reflections on, and background reading about, the problem of Trumpism and how to fight it intelligently.

 

Subscribe to the Mindful Resistance newsletter!

 

Robert Wright, editor of the Mindful Resistance Newsletter, is the New York Times bestselling author of Why Buddhism Is True, The Evolution of God (a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), NonzeroThe Moral Animal (named one of the ten best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review), and Three Scientists and their Gods (a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award). He has written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Intercept, and Wired.

Read the latest edition of the Mindful Resistance Newsletter

What is tribalism?

By Robert Wright, editor of the Mindful Resistance Newsletter

In the Atlantic, Adam Serwer recently challenged the common view that “tribalism” is a big problem on both sides of America’s political divide. As a member of the tribe that holds the common view, I will not let this attack go unavenged!

The reason the tribalism label shouldn’t be applied symmetrically, says Serwer, is that only Trump’s side of the divide “remotely resembles a coalition based on ethnic and religious lines,” and only Trump’s side of the divide “has committed itself to a political strategy that relies on stoking hatred and fear of the other.” Serwer concludes that America “doesn’t have a ‘tribalism’ problem. It has a racism problem.”

Now, people on Trump’s side of the divide might reply that labeling them as racist, which Serwer more or less does here, is itself a way of “stoking hatred and fear of the other”—a manifestation of tribalism that Serwer himself condemns!

But I digress. My bigger problem with Serwer’s argument is his insistence on confining the term “tribalism” to its old-fashioned sense of conflict along ethnic or religious lines. If those aren’t the lines that define your group, he seems to believe, your group can’t be tribal.

A lot of us are using the term more broadly than that, to include groups defined by ideology. The reason is that the psychological mechanisms that sustain conflict along ethnic or religious lines—the emotions, the cognitive biases, the flat-out delusions—also sustain it along ideological lines.

Or, really, pretty much any lines. One study found that if you randomly assign young children blue T-shirts or yellow T-shirts, and then use shirt color as a basis for trivial things like seating assignments, the children will come to believe that their T-shirt tribe is superior to the other T-shirt tribe.

And the classic study of how tribal affiliation shapes perception— “They Saw a Game” —was about how Princeton and Dartmouth students assessed the officiating in a 1951 football game between the two schools. (Answer: Differently.) And you can rest assured that in the 1950s there wasn’t a big difference between Princeton and Dartmouth students along the dimensions of ethnicity or religion.

Though that study was about collegiate tribalism, the cognitive bias it highlighted—more sensitivity to evidence that our tribe was treated unjustly than to evidence that an opposing tribe was so treated—can play out in ethnic tribalism or religious tribalism. Or ideological tribalism: look at how media on the left and right covered allegations of voter suppression or vote tampering in this month’s midterms.

In a sense the versatility of our tribal psychology is good news. It means humans aren’t doomed to eternal conflict along history’s most traditionally incendiary fault lines—race, religion, nationality. Just watch what happens when a fight breaks out during a basketball game; which side of the fight a player is on depends on the color of his T-shirt, not the color of his skin.

What that fight is telling you is that neither America nor the world is doomed to fracture along lines of ethnicity or religion or any other classically tribal lines. That’s the good news. The bad news is that, even so, it can fracture along other lines, including ideology.

Keeping that from happening is a huge challenge. Some of us believe that meditation is one tool that can help meet the challenge. But whatever tools you favor, meeting the challenge begins with understanding that all of us sometimes evince the psychology of tribalism, because we’re all human.

[Note: This reflection is a partial answer to MRN reader LeBrie, who asked in an email,  “Would you tell us more about why you use that word [tribalism] and how it’s helpful for us to think about mindful resistance?” It probably won’t be the last such reflection.]

Each week, the Mindful Resistance Newsletter presents a calm and balanced summary of the news along with reflections on, and background reading about, the problem of Trumpism and how to fight it intelligently.

 

Subscribe to the Mindful Resistance newsletter!

 

Robert Wright, editor of the Mindful Resistance Newsletter, is the New York Times bestselling author of Why Buddhism Is True, The Evolution of God (a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), NonzeroThe Moral Animal (named one of the ten best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review), and Three Scientists and their Gods (a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award). He has written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Intercept, and Wired.

Read the latest edition of the Mindful Resistance Newsletter

Make globalism great again

By Robert Wright, editor of the Mindful Resistance Newsletter

A FEW DAYS before the 2016 election, journalist Andrew Sullivan wrote this about Donald Trump: “He has no concept of a nonzero-sum engagement, in which a deal can be beneficial for both sides. A win-win scenario is intolerable to him, because mastery of others is the only moment when he is psychically at peace.”

I’m not sure dominating other people is the only occasion when Trump feels at peace. Presumably there’s a moment during what is reportedly his standard McDonald’s meal—two Big Macs, two Filets-O-Fish, and a chocolate milkshake—when all seems right with the world.

Still, in Trump’s hierarchy of bliss, dominance does seem to rank at the top. “I love to crush the other side and take the benefits,” he wrote in a book called Think Big. “Why? Because there is nothing greater. For me it is even better than sex, and I love sex.” He went on to observe: “You hear lots of people say that a great deal is when both sides win. That is a bunch of crap. In a great deal you win—not the other side. You crush the opponent and come away with something better for yourself.”

So it makes sense that, two years after Trump entered office, Sullivan’s game theoretical framing has caught on. The zero-sum game—in which the players’ fortunes are inversely correlated, so that for one player to win the other must lose—has become a standard paradigm for the Trump presidency. If you Google “Donald Trump” and “zero-sum” you’ll get such headlines as “Trump’s Zero Sum Delusion,” “Donald Trump and the Rise of Zero-Sum Politics,” and simply “Zero-Sum Trump.”

Some of the articles attached to these headlines are about economics. They may lament Trump’s gleeful anticipation of “winning” the trade wars he starts—as if trade were a zero-sum game—and his seeming obliviousness to the fact that trade wars can have lose-lose outcomes. Other articles focus on world affairs more broadly. Nations come together to pursue win-win outcomes in the face of all kinds of problems, from financial meltdowns, climate change, and weapons proliferation to overfishing of the seas. And Trump’s attitude toward the institutions that embody such nonzero-sum engagement is notably lacking in warmth.

As journalist Jonathan Swan wrote on Axios this summer, “Trump has expressed skepticism, and in some cases outright hostility, towards NATO, the European Union, the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, and the Group of Seven.” Swan added that Trump has “already withdrawn the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Iran deal” and “announced his intent to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.”

The zero-sum label applies not just to Trump’s policy preferences but to his political style. He’s expert at evoking reactions that seem to have been engineered by evolution for zero-sum situations, notably fear of, hatred of, and contempt for a perceived enemy. Bill Clinton presumably had Trump in mind when he said, five months into Trump’s presidency, “We’ve seen a resurgence in the oldest of all social reactions—the tendency to look at people first as the other, to think of life in zero-sum terms, it’s us versus them.”

I claim an increment of credit for Clinton’s conversance in game theory. During his presidency I published a book about human history and the future called Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny, which he read and said some nice things about and assigned to White House staffers to read. Clinton even said the book had a big influence on his presidency.

As a result of all this, I once got some face time with Clinton. And when the subject turned to my book (which I made sure it did), he said what he had liked about it was that it was realistic—not naive—yet hopeful.

And it’s true that, after documenting humankind’s historical drift toward bigger and bigger cooperative networks—a process driven by technological change—I had sketched out a pretty sunny possible future.

It was a future in which the world’s nations grasp that they’re enmeshed in lots of nonzero-sum games and act accordingly: working together to solve various problems, gradually building the foundation of good global governance.

I even said this political progress could involve moral progress. People of different nationalities, religions, and ethnicities, aware of their interdependence, of the correlation of their fates, could muster the tolerance that facilitates peaceful coexistence and active collaboration. We needn’t let our tribal impulses prevail over nonzero-sum logic, I opined 19 years ago.

That was then. Now we’ve got a president who not only resists playing nonzero-sum games but actively fans emotions that impede the wise playing of them. And as if that weren’t enough, the fanning of those emotions can recalibrate the games, making lose-lose outcomes even worse than they would be otherwise. The more tribalized the world is—the more antagonistically divided along national, ethnic, religious, ideological lines—the more danger there is in, for example, letting arms control challenges go unaddressed: The more nations will be in the mood to lob missiles, the more terrorist groups there will be that might get ahold of a nuke or a bioweapon. Trump’s policy instincts make good governance hard, and his political style makes the consequences of bad governance grave.

Still, hope springs eternal, and so does my belief that hope can be reconciled with realism. There’s reason to think that, in a weird way, the Trump presidency, rather than drag us into a death spiral of tribalism and lethal technology, could be a roundabout path to a higher plane.

You can read the whole piece in Wired here.

Each week, the Mindful Resistance Newsletter presents a calm and balanced summary of the news along with reflections on, and background reading about, the problem of Trumpism and how to fight it intelligently.

 

Subscribe to the Mindful Resistance newsletter!

 

Robert Wright, editor of the Mindful Resistance Newsletter, is the New York Times bestselling author of Why Buddhism Is True, The Evolution of God (a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), NonzeroThe Moral Animal (named one of the ten best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review), and Three Scientists and their Gods (a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award). He has written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Intercept, and Wired.

Read the latest edition of the Mindful Resistance Newsletter

Break the “fake news” cycle.

By Robert Wright, editor of the Mindful Resistance Newsletter

Trump in the grand scheme of things: I just published a big piece in Wired—‘big’ in the sense of pretty long, but also ‘big’ in the sense of ambitious (and ‘in Wired’ in the sense of actually being in the physical magazine, just like in olden days). The piece aims to put Trump and Trumpism in cosmic perspective—to see them in the context of the full sweep of human history. I argue that if we understand where Trump fits into history, we can make something good out of what he leaves behind.

This piece captures a big part of my world view and a big part—a very big part—of why I started the Mindful Resistance Newsletter. Yet it’s a part of my world view that hasn’t been all that conspicuous in MRN; it enters the newsletter mainly in fragmentary and oblique ways. So I hope you’ll find time to read the piece. As I said, it’s kind of long. But here’s the first, not-so-long part—if you find it worthwhile, you can click and read the rest:

Make Globalism Great Again
By Robert Wright

A FEW DAYS before the 2016 election, journalist Andrew Sullivan wrote this about Donald Trump: “He has no concept of a nonzero-sum engagement, in which a deal can be beneficial for both sides. A win-win scenario is intolerable to him, because mastery of others is the only moment when he is psychically at peace.”

I’m not sure dominating other people is the only occasion when Trump feels at peace. Presumably there’s a moment during what is reportedly his standard McDonald’s meal—two Big Macs, two Filets-O-Fish, and a chocolate milkshake—when all seems right with the world.

Still, in Trump’s hierarchy of bliss, dominance does seem to rank at the top. “I love to crush the other side and take the benefits,” he wrote in a book called Think Big. “Why? Because there is nothing greater. For me it is even better than sex, and I love sex.” He went on to observe: “You hear lots of people say that a great deal is when both sides win. That is a bunch of crap. In a great deal you win—not the other side. You crush the opponent and come away with something better for yourself.”

So it makes sense that, two years after Trump entered office, Sullivan’s game theoretical framing has caught on. The zero-sum game—in which the players’ fortunes are inversely correlated, so that for one player to win the other must lose—has become a standard paradigm for the Trump presidency. If you Google “Donald Trump” and “zero-sum” you’ll get such headlines as “Trump’s Zero Sum Delusion,” “Donald Trump and the Rise of Zero-Sum Politics,” and simply “Zero-Sum Trump.”

Some of the articles attached to these headlines are about economics. They may lament Trump’s gleeful anticipation of “winning” the trade wars he starts—as if trade were a zero-sum game—and his seeming obliviousness to the fact that trade wars can have lose-lose outcomes. Other articles focus on world affairs more broadly. Nations come together to pursue win-win outcomes in the face of all kinds of problems, from financial meltdowns, climate change, and weapons proliferation to overfishing of the seas. And Trump’s attitude toward the institutions that embody such nonzero-sum engagement is notably lacking in warmth.

As journalist Jonathan Swan wrote on Axios this summer, “Trump has expressed skepticism, and in some cases outright hostility, towards NATO, the European Union, the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, and the Group of Seven.” Swan added that Trump has “already withdrawn the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Iran deal” and “announced his intent to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.”

The zero-sum label applies not just to Trump’s policy preferences but to his political style. He’s expert at evoking reactions that seem to have been engineered by evolution for zero-sum situations, notably fear of, hatred of, and contempt for a perceived enemy. Bill Clinton presumably had Trump in mind when he said, five months into Trump’s presidency, “We’ve seen a resurgence in the oldest of all social reactions—the tendency to look at people first as the other, to think of life in zero-sum terms, it’s us versus them.”

I claim an increment of credit for Clinton’s conversance in game theory. During his presidency I published a book about human history and the future called Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny, which he read and said some nice things about and assigned to White House staffers to read. Clinton even said the book had a big influence on his presidency.

As a result of all this, I once got some face time with Clinton. And when the subject turned to my book (which I made sure it did), he said what he had liked about it was that it was realistic—not naive—yet hopeful.

And it’s true that, after documenting humankind’s historical drift toward bigger and bigger cooperative networks—a process driven by technological change—I had sketched out a pretty sunny possible future.

It was a future in which the world’s nations grasp that they’re enmeshed in lots of nonzero-sum games and act accordingly: working together to solve various problems, gradually building the foundation of good global governance.

I even said this political progress could involve moral progress. People of different nationalities, religions, and ethnicities, aware of their interdependence, of the correlation of their fates, could muster the tolerance that facilitates peaceful coexistence and active collaboration. We needn’t let our tribal impulses prevail over nonzero-sum logic, I opined 19 years ago.

That was then. Now we’ve got a president who not only resists playing nonzero-sum games but actively fans emotions that impede the wise playing of them. And as if that weren’t enough, the fanning of those emotions can recalibrate the games, making lose-lose outcomes even worse than they would be otherwise. The more tribalized the world is—the more antagonistically divided along national, ethnic, religious, ideological lines—the more danger there is in, for example, letting arms control challenges go unaddressed: The more nations will be in the mood to lob missiles, the more terrorist groups there will be that might get ahold of a nuke or a bioweapon. Trump’s policy instincts make good governance hard, and his political style makes the consequences of bad governance grave.

Still, hope springs eternal, and so does my belief that hope can be reconciled with realism. There’s reason to think that, in a weird way, the Trump presidency, rather than drag us into a death spiral of tribalism and lethal technology, could be a roundabout path to a higher plane.

You can read the whole piece in Wired here.

To impeach or not to impeach? This week’s BuzzFeed report that Trump suborned perjury led to a new wave of impeachment talk. Then, awkwardly for those doing the talking, the Special Counsel’s office said the story wasn’t entirely accurate.

But rest assured that there will be more impeachment talk. And I’m guessing that when all the evidence comes out, this talk won’t be wholly without foundation. Which raises the question: should you join in the talk? Should you urge your congressional representatives to impeach, and become an impeachment enthusiast, and click on so many impeachment-related headlines that Google starts mainlining impeachment news into your brain?

Your call. I’d just like to lay out some reasons it’s a tough call—why it’s not obvious to me that a drive for impeachment is a good move, and why getting too wrapped up in this issue could be a waste of time and energy.

Suppose, for starters, that impeachment results in Trump’s early departure from the White House. That is: either (1) not only does the House impeach Trump (which could well happen) but the Senate convicts him (much less likely, since that requires a two-thirds vote); or (2) Trump resigns under the pressure of impeachment, somewhat as Nixon did.

In these scenarios, we wind up with Mike Pence as president. Now, in many ways, I find the prospect of a Pence presidency significantly less horrifying than the reality of a Trump presidency. On the other hand, Pence’s governing ideology would probably be, basically, Trumpism—partly because of some of his natural leanings and partly because he would inherit Trump’s base and a GOP reshaped by Trump. Or, at least, it would be Trumpism with a few rough edges smoothed off.

Some of those edges are definitely worth smoothing off (e.g. Trump’s mindless violation of norms, and his mind-numbing day-to-day noise level). But precisely because Pence would in this sense seem like a breath of fresh air, he’d probably be more likely to get re-elected in 2020 than Trump would. So the impeachment of Trump could be good for Trumpism in the long run.

And in some ways Pence could be worse than Trump. Though Trump has largely obliged the GOP’s neoconservative foreign policy establishment, he at least has spasms of doubt about the value of prolific military intervention. These spasms aren’t shared by the establishment and probably wouldn’t be shared by a President Pence.

Don’t get me wrong: Like Resisters in general, I feel good when I hear of some new piece of damning evidence about Trump, or when I imagine him leaving the White House in disgrace. But part of the point of mindfulness is to not accept your feelings as guides to thought without carefully inspecting them. When I pause to think about it, I’m far from sure that Trump’s leaving the White House via impeachment in, say, January of 2020 would be better than his leaving via the ballot box in January of 2021 (though, of course, a January 2020 departure has the virtue of precluding a second term in office).

You can play this game of “what ifs” all day. The “What if the House impeaches and the Senate doesn’t convict and Trump doesn’t resign” scenario has all kinds of hypothetical branches emanating from it, ranging from “Trump is usefully chastened” to “Trump destabilizes the world via various gambits aimed at preserving the allegiance of his base during the impeachment drama.”

I hope all this explains why I’m an impeachment agnostic. Emotionally drawn as I am to the impeachment scenario, when I reflect on the matter I realize I just don’t know if impeachment would be good or bad.

Amid the uncertainty, I try to stay true to something I’m more sure of: The ultimate enemy is Trumpism, not Trump. So I shouldn’t let my loathing of the latter undermine, or even distract me from, opposition to the former. Which means, among other things, trying to reduce my loathing level. (And here, actually, Trump’s sheer clownishness can be an asset; I find it harder to hate a malicious buffoon than, say, a malicious mastermind).

I also try to think about what policies best combat Trumpism. If you want to get the biggest picture, longest-term view of what I mean by that, read my aforementioned Wired piece. (Sorry to keep flacking it, but I spent a lot of time on it, and it’s as close as I can come to a magnum opus on why Trump and Trumpism are here and what we should do about it.)

This week’s impeachment whipsaw—first the BuzzFeed story was billed as a nail in Trump’s coffin, after which the Mueller office seemed to put a nail in the BuzzFeed story’s coffin—is, if nothing else, a reminder of one thing: you can save a lot of time by not staying attuned to the ups and downs of the impeachment stock market. And maybe you can use that time wisely.

Each week, the Mindful Resistance Newsletter presents a calm and balanced summary of the news along with reflections and background reading about the problem of Trumpism and how to fight it intelligently.

 

Subscribe to the Mindful Resistance newsletter!

 

Robert Wright, editor of the Mindful Resistance Newsletter, is the New York Times bestselling author of The Evolution of God (a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), NonzeroThe Moral Animal (named one of the ten best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review), Three Scientists and their Gods (a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award), and Why Buddhism Is True.

Read the latest edition of the Mindful Resistance Newsletter

Love your enemies—it drives them crazy

By Robert Wright, editor of the Mindful Resistance Newsletter

Love your enemies—it drives them crazy: People often quote the Apostle Paul saying, in his letter to the Romans, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink.” People less often quote what Paul says next: “For by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.”

This passage came to mind after I read an email from Heidi, an MRN subscriber who is doing her best to transcend anger and hatred.

Heidi writes, “I volunteer, politically & socially, but I feel like possibly the biggest contribution I’m making right now is a commitment to be 100% positive online…  I don’t mean I don’t express sadness at events, but I’ve drawn a red line for myself so that I don’t either put out, or pass on, material that is angry, or even snide. I try to encourage and congratulate others, so it’s more than just an absence of negative, but just not spreading nastiness feels like a huge thing right now.”

But Heidi has a friend who tells her that “playing nice” is just “rolling over,” and Heidi has nagging doubts that “maybe my friend is right and I’m simply ceding ground out of cowardice to people who have no problem being angry.”

There are definitely times when skillfully channeled anger does some good. In fact, there are times when unskillfully channeled anger winds up doing some good. Still, it’s worth remembering that transcending anger and hatred isn’t just a mushy moral or spiritual ideal. Sometimes it’s a smart tactic, a way to thwart your enemy’s aims. Though scholars differ over the exact interpretation of Paul’s “burning coals” line, the basic idea seems to be that, as a practical matter, reciprocating antagonism usually isn’t the best way to fight it. Paul’s next sentence is, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” He’s offering a path not just to goodness but to victory—much as the Buddha was when he said, “Hostilities aren’t stilled through hostility… Hostilities are stilled through non-hostility.”

Again, whether this strategy works depends on your situation and your adversary. But when your adversary is a president who loves to be able to tell his supporters that you hate him, and hate them, and loves to depict you and your allies as dangerously uncivil extremists, then defying those stereotypes may indeed be a way to heap burning coals on his head. (And I commend Heidi—who says she thinks we should “impeach with compassion”—for presumably not taking any pleasure in that image.)

By the way, Paul’s observation wasn’t original. He was quoting almost word for word—and intentionally referencing—a verse from the book of Proverbs in the Hebrew Bible. And Proverbs, I would emphasize, is categorized as part of the “wisdom literature.”

Each week, the Mindful Resistance Newsletter presents a calm and balanced summary of the news along with reflections and background reading about the problem of Trumpism and how to fight it intelligently.

 

Subscribe to the Mindful Resistance newsletter!

 

Robert Wright, editor of the Mindful Resistance Newsletter, is the New York Times bestselling author of The Evolution of God (a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), NonzeroThe Moral Animal (named one of the ten best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review), Three Scientists and their Gods (a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award), and Why Buddhism Is True.

Read the latest edition of the Mindful Resistance Newsletter

Issue #37: Apr 22–Apr 28, 2018

We open this week’s newsletter with a solemn appeal (seriously!): If you value MRN highly, then this week please click on one of the social media icons scattered through the newsletter and share either the whole newsletter or some subsection of it with your friends and/or followers on Facebook or Twitter. Our circulation has reached a thoroughly respectable 8,300, but subscription growth has slowed lately. That’s not shocking, since I haven’t had occasion lately to promote the newsletter to any big audiences. But since that condition could persist for awhile, we’d like to find out if there’s enough reader commitment to generate much of what people in the newsletter biz call “organic” growth. So if you really like MRN—or for that matter if you just like the word “organic”—and you spend much time on social media, please consider spending a sliver of it on MRN’s behalf. But if you’re an online introvert, that’s fine too; we value all our readers.

–Robert Wright

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Issue #36: Apr 8–Apr 14, 2018

Note: Due to foreseen circumstances, the newsletter won’t be published next week. But this past week had about 1.9 weeks’ worth of Trump-related news, so why don’t we call it even? Below you’ll find the usual stuff—TWIT, links, News You Can Use—plus my critique of the Steven Pinker book Enlightenment Now and the first known example of the Mindful Resistance Newsletter (and Project) getting serious attention from a philosopher! As for how you’ll spend your time next week, with no MRN to ponder: You can ponder the future of MRN and email us with any suggestions: feedback@mindfulresistance.net. We’ll be back on April 28.

–Robert Wright

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Issue #35: Apr 1–Apr 7, 2018

What do EPA administrator Scott Pruitt and now-famous high-end troll Kevin Williamson have in common? No, they haven’t both been fired (yet). They’re both featured in this week’s newsletter! Along with lots of Trump-related news, lots of background links, some reader emails, and some news you can use (or not, as you see fit).

–Robert Wright

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