The Mengzi (4th c. BCE)

Though it was written in the 4th century B.C.E., Mengzi's philosophy, especially his democratic tendencies, his policy recommendations, and his humanistic outlook, can still be inspirational to the left today.

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Marriage Markets (2014)

This book is a detailed analysis of the puzzle of why (some) marriages in the U.S. are becoming increasingly unstable. It argues that changes in job opportunities create bifurcated marriage markets which lead to bifurcated marriage behavior. In doing so, the book touches on issues of gender, race, and class, and argues that this bifurcated marriage behavior can exacerbate societal inequality.

Weapons of Math Destruction (2016)

Sophisticated models that learn patterns from large datasets offer the promise of providing impartial, efficient, accurate, "smart" decision-makers. As such, they are becoming more widespread and have a lot of influence over people's life outcomes. Weapons of Math Destruction argues, however, that these algorithms have troubling features that codify unjust discrimination and are inscrutable and unaccountable. I focus in this post on these undesirable features and how to counteract them.

Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970)

How do you teach a student from an oppressed class without the wider oppression of society being mirrored in the teacher/student relationship? This book describes how control and oppression work, and argues why it is important to take care that education helps people imagine and create a world with less oppression, rather than merely embodies and reinforces oppressive structures. To accomplish this, the author proposes a pedagogy built around the practice of education as dialogue and the practice of problem-posing.

Conflict Is Not Abuse (2016)

This book is about the process by which conflict is mistaken for, and thus escalated into, abuse. The author also talks about how shunning shuts people off from crucial knowledge, and how a mentality of supremacy and/or trauma drives this escalation + shunning behavior. She analyzes how this process plays out for an eclectic set of social issues ranging from abusive relationships to large-scale political conflict. I discuss the shared themes of Conflict Is Not Abuse, Why Does He Do That?, and Nonviolent Communication in order to give some insights into abuse, rationalizations of violence, coercion/control, and deescalation.