Author: Jacob Nierenberg

The second (and less prolific) of the two Jacobs that write for The Stanford Sphere, Jacob Nierenberg '17 M.A. '18 is a graduate student in the Journalism program. Prior to that, he completed a B.A. in American Studies and minored in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. His work has been featured in The Stanford Daily and The Seattle Times, as well as on Crosscut.com. He writes about everything from Australian psychedelic rock bands to Stanford's handling of sexual misconduct. He rarely leaves the house without a pair of earbuds.

Against Epistocracy: Why ‘Rule of the Informed’ Will Not Fix Democracy, Pt. II

This is second part of a two-part essay on “epistocracy,” defined by political philosopher and Georgetown University professor Jason Brennan as a system where the most politically-informed citizens have the most voting power. You can read the first part here.

There’s a lot of evidence that the United States isn’t nearly as democratic as it likes to think it is. Continue reading “Against Epistocracy: Why ‘Rule of the Informed’ Will Not Fix Democracy, Pt. II”

Against Epistocracy: Why ‘Rule of the Informed’ Will Not Fix Democracy, Pt. I

Western democracies haven’t had the best track record as of late. The United Kingdom shot itself in the foot by voting to withdraw from the European Union in 2016, which would’ve gone down as the year’s most egregious self-inflicted wound if the United States hadn’t outdone them three months later with the election of Donald Trump. Alternative für Deutschland, Front national and Partij voor de Vrijheid—right-wing populist parties, all of them—are as popular as they’ve ever been in Germany, France and the Netherlands. The global resurgence of far-right politics is profoundly disturbing, and it suggests that resentment, if not rage, is starting to appeal more to voters than reason. If these movements continue to gain ground, it might mean that democracy’s best days are behind it.

Continue reading “Against Epistocracy: Why ‘Rule of the Informed’ Will Not Fix Democracy, Pt. I”

Antifa is not the Alt-Left

It’s no coincidence that the term “alt-left” seemed to come out of the national ether around the same time that anti-fascist movements—“antifa” for short—were growing in prominence. Members of antifa groups have made appearances at demonstrations since Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency, but it wasn’t until the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville last August that they started to be referred to as alt-left. Three days after the rally—in which a man with white supremacist ties drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing a woman—Trump reasserted his belief that there was “blame on both sides” for the violence. When pressed to comment on the alt-right’s role, Trump responded, “What about the alt-left that came charging at, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?”

Continue reading “Antifa is not the Alt-Left”