serendipitous finds

Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds.

@haymarketbooks“No human being is illegal.”

Prof. Jason Stanley — Three Essential Facets of Fascism

  1. Conjuring a “mythic past” that has supposedly been destroyed (“by liberals, feminists, and immigrants”)
  2. Fascist leaders sow division; they succeed by “turning groups against each other,” inflaming historical antagonisms and ancient hatreds for their own advantage.
  3. Fascists “attack the truth” with propaganda, in particular “a kind of anti-intellectualism” that “creates a petri dish for conspiracy theories.”

What happened when migrants moved into my family’s Sicilian village, via @jhagel

In October 2013, a boat full of migrants and refugees capsized in the Mediterranean: 368 people perished and needed proper burial. The town of Sutera, almost entirely populated by older people, had long since filled its cemeteries to capacity. But although there was no room for the dead, there was plenty of room for the living, with hundreds of empty homes left by those who had abandoned the town in search of work abroad. In 2014, the mayor of Sutera agreed to let the Italian state settle asylum seekers in his community’s vacant homes. Sutera joined a resettlement programme that funds towns to host a certain number of migrants …

… For Sutera, which clings to the base of Mount San Paolino in central Sicily, the arrival of migrants has been a boon. The local school once risked closure because there were so few pupils but, thanks to the children of asylum seekers, it has remained open. The town is now a model of integration which has been replicated across several Italian cities, including Riace, in Calabria; there, the town’s mayor, “Mimmo” Lucano, has welcomed hundreds of migrants who have, in turn, brought investments to the town.

Re-reading Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer (1951) by David Ronfeldt

“It is startling to realize how much unbelief is necessary to make belief possible. What we know as blind faith is sustained by innumerable unbeliefs.”
“Should Americans begin to hate foreigners wholeheartedly, it will be an indication that they have lost confidence in their own way of life.”
“If free enterprise becomes a proselytizing holy cause, it will be a sign that its workability and advantages have ceased to be self-evident.”
—Eric Hoffer

The three princes of Serendip: Notes on a mysterious phenomenon

The word “serendipity” was entered into the lexicon by Horace Walpole in 1754. He had become intrigued with a Persian fairytale in which three princes of Serendip, (now Sri Lanka) traveled the world, “making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of…” Walpole proposed the new word, but then went on to give rather mundane examples of its meaning. It is only recently that serendipity has acquired its rather grand and mysterious significance.

Image: Wikipedia — 20th-century illustration of Bahram V hunting

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