Free: Download 5.3 Million Images from Books Published Over Last 500 Years

Dance Records of the Month 1917

Back in 2014, we brought to your atten­tion an image archive rival­ing the largest of its kind on the web: the Inter­net Archive Book Images col­lec­tion at Flickr. There, you’ll find mil­lions of “pub­lic domain images, all extract­ed from books, mag­a­zines and news­pa­pers pub­lished over a 500 year peri­od.”

At the time, the col­lec­tion con­tained 2.6 mil­lion pub­lic domain images, but “even­tu­al­ly,” we not­ed in a pre­vi­ous post, “this archive will grow to 14.6 mil­lion images.” Well, it has almost dou­bled in size since our first post, and it now fea­tures over 5.3 mil­lion images, thanks again to Kalev Lee­taru, who head­ed the dig­i­ti­za­tion project while on a Yahoo-spon­sored fel­low­ship at George­town Uni­ver­si­ty.

Records of Big Game 1910

Rather than using opti­cal char­ac­ter recog­ni­tion (OCR), as most dig­i­ti­za­tion soft­ware does to scan only the text of books, Leetaru’s code reversed the process, extract­ing the images the Inter­net Archive’s OCR typ­i­cal­ly ignores. Thou­sands of graph­ic illus­tra­tions and pho­tographs await your dis­cov­ery in the search­able data­base. Type in “records,” for exam­ple, and you’ll run into the 1917 ad in “Colom­bia Records for June” (top) or the creepy 1910 pho­to­graph above from “Records of big game: with their dis­tri­b­u­tion, char­ac­ter­is­tics, dimen­sions, weights, and horn & tusk mea­sure­ments.” Two of many gems amidst util­i­tar­i­an images from dull cor­po­rate and gov­ern­ment record books.

1912 Book of Home Building

Search “library” and you’ll arrive at a fas­ci­nat­ing assem­blage, from the fash­ion­able room above from 1912’s “Book of Home Build­ing and Dec­o­ra­tion,” to the rotund, mourn­ful, soon-to-be carved pig below from 1882’s “The Amer­i­can Farmer: A Com­plete Agri­cul­tur­al Library,” to the nifty Nau­tilus draw­ing fur­ther down from an 1869 British Muse­um of Nat­ur­al His­to­ry pub­li­ca­tion. To see more images from any of the sources, sim­ply click on the title of the book that appears in the search results. The orga­ni­za­tion of the archive could use some improve­ment: as yet mil­lions of images have not been orga­nized into the­mat­ic albums, which would great­ly stream­line brows­ing through them. But it’s a minor gripe giv­en the num­ber and vari­ety of free, pub­lic domain images avail­able for any kind of use.

American Farmer Library 1882

More­over, Lee­taru has planned to offer his code to insti­tu­tions, telling the BBC, “Any library could repeat this process. That’s actu­al­ly my hope, that libraries around the world run this same process of their dig­i­tized books to con­stant­ly expand this uni­verse of images.” Schol­ars and archivists of book and art his­to­ry and visu­al cul­ture will find such a “uni­verse of images” invalu­able, as will edi­tors of Wikipedia. “What I want to see,” Lee­taru also said, “is… Wikipedia have a nation­al day of going through this [col­lec­tion] to illus­trate Wikipedia arti­cles.”

Museum of Natural History 1869

Short of that, indi­vid­ual edi­tors and users can sort through images of all kinds when they can’t find freely avail­able pic­tures of their sub­ject. And, of course, sites like Open Culture—which rely main­ly on pub­lic domain and cre­ative com­mons images—benefit great­ly as well. So, thanks, Inter­net Archive Book Images Col­lec­tion! We’ll check back lat­er and let you know when they’ve grown even more.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Down­load for Free 2.6 Mil­lion Images from Books Pub­lished Over Last 500 Years on Flickr

Old Book Illus­tra­tions: Free Archive Lets You Down­load Beau­ti­ful Images From the Gold­en Age of Book Illus­tra­tion

The British Library Puts 1,000,000 Images into the Pub­lic Domain, Mak­ing Them Free to Reuse & Remix

The Get­ty Adds Anoth­er 77,000 Images to its Open Con­tent Archive

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

The British Library Digitizes 300 Literary Treasures from 20th Century Authors: Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, James Joyce & More

First Edition Ulysses

As a young col­lege stu­dent, I spent hours wan­der­ing through my university’s library, look­ing in a state of awe at the num­ber of books con­tained there­in by writ­ers whose names I knew or who seemed vague­ly famil­iar, and by hun­dreds, thou­sands, more I’d nev­er heard of. Always con­tent to immerse myself in seclud­ed cor­ners for days on end with a good book, I could­n’t have felt more at home.

The inter­net was in its infan­cy, and my online life at the time con­sist­ed of awk­ward, plain-text emails sent once or twice a week and the occa­sion­al clunky, slow-load­ing web­site, promis­ing much but deliv­er­ing lit­tle. Excitable futur­ists made extrav­a­gant pre­dic­tions about how hyper­text and inter­ac­tiv­i­ty would rev­o­lu­tion­ize the book. These seemed like intrigu­ing but unnec­es­sary solu­tions in search of a prob­lem.

To the book­ish, the book is a per­fect­ed tech­nol­o­gy that can­not be improved upon except by the pub­lish­ing of more books. While inter­ac­tive texts—with linked anno­ta­tions, biogra­phies, his­tor­i­cal pre­cis, crit­i­cal essays, and the like—have much enhanced life for stu­dents, they have not in any way improved upon the sim­ple act of read­ing for plea­sure and edification—an activ­i­ty, wrote Vir­ginia Woolf, requir­ing noth­ing more than “the rarest qual­i­ties of imag­i­na­tion, insight, and judg­ment.”

Though Woolf would like­ly have been unim­pressed with all that talk of hyper­tex­tu­al inno­va­tion, I imag­ine she would have mar­veled at the online world for offer­ing some­thing to the read­er we have nev­er had until the past cou­ple decades: free and instant access to thou­sands of books, from lit­er­ary clas­sics to biogra­phies to his­to­ries to poetry—all gen­res upon which Woolf offered advice about how to read on their own terms. With­out the anx­ious admis­sions process and cost­ly tuition, any­one with a com­put­er now has access to a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the aver­age col­lege library.

And now any­one with a com­put­er has access to a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the British Library’s rare col­lec­tions as well, thanks to the ven­er­a­ble institution’s new online col­lec­tion: “Dis­cov­er­ing Lit­er­a­ture: 20th Cen­tu­ry.”

orwell rejection

Read­ers of our site will know of Open Culture’s affin­i­ty for 20th cen­tu­ry mod­ernist lit­er­a­ture, like that of Vir­ginia Woolf, and for the dystopi­an fic­tion of George Orwell. These authors and greats of more recent vin­tage are all well-rep­re­sent­ed in the British Library col­lec­tion. You’ll find such trea­sures as a scanned first edi­tion of James Joyce’s Ulysses, first Amer­i­can edi­tion of Antho­ny Burgess’ A Clock­work Orange, and first edi­tion of Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. These are just a few of the clas­sic nov­els avail­able in the “over 300 trea­sures” of the col­lec­tion, writes the British Library.

woolf cover

The online library offers a par­adise for read­ers, cer­tain­ly. And also a heav­en for schol­ars. Includ­ed among the rare first edi­tions and crit­i­cal essays and inter­views on the site’s main page are “online for the first time… lit­er­ary drafts… note­books, let­ters, diaries, news­pa­pers and pho­tographs from Vir­ginia Woolf, Ted Hugh­es, Angela Carter and Hanif Kureishi among oth­ers.”

Some incred­i­ble high­lights include:

And as if all this—and so many more 20th cen­tu­ry lit­er­ary treasures—weren’t enough, the col­lec­tion also tucks in some won­der­ful arti­facts from pre­vi­ous eras, such as a col­lec­tion of man­u­script poems by John Keats, includ­ing the Odes and Robert Burton’s ency­clo­pe­dic 1628 study of depres­sion, The Anato­my of Melan­choly.

“Until now,” says Anna Lobben­berg, the Library’s Dig­i­tal Pro­grammes Man­ag­er, “these trea­sures could only be viewed in the British Library Read­ing Rooms or on dis­play in exhibitions—now Dis­cov­ery Lit­er­a­ture: 20th Cen­tu­ry will bring these items to any­one in the world with an inter­net con­nec­tion.” It tru­ly is, for the lover of books, a brave new world (a book whose 1932 orig­i­nal dust jack­et you can see here).

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The British Library Puts Over 1,000,000 Images in the Pub­lic Domain: A Deep­er Dive Into the Col­lec­tion

The British Library’s “Sounds” Archive Presents 80,000 Free Audio Record­ings: World & Clas­si­cal Music, Inter­views, Nature Sounds & More

Vir­ginia Woolf Offers Gen­tle Advice on “How One Should Read a Book”

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

Get a Sneak Peek of Archangel, the New Comic Book by Cyberpunk Author William Gibson

gibson archangel 2

“The world is in ruins. The White House relo­cat­ed to the omi­nous-sound­ing Nation­al Emer­gency Fed­er­al Dis­trict in Mon­tana. They have tech­nol­o­gy that far out­strips our own.” A dystopi­an vision of the dis­tant future? Nope, a dystopi­an vision of Feb­ru­ary 2016 — the Feb­ru­ary 2016 of Archangel, a new com­ic-book series from actor-writer Michael St. John Smith, artist Butch Guice, and none oth­er than nov­el­ist William Gib­son, author of such sui gener­is works of sci­ence fic­tion, pil­lars of cyber­punk, or prophe­cies of the present as Neu­ro­mancer, All Tomor­row’s Par­tiesPat­tern Recog­ni­tion, and most recent­ly The Periph­er­ala pre­de­ces­sor, in a way, of Archangel’s sto­ry that plays out on more than one time­line.

“A father and son occu­py the new White House as Pres­i­dent and Vice Pres­i­dent,” writes Ars Tech­ni­ca’s Jonathan M. Gitlin. The younger over­lord of Amer­i­ca “has been sur­gi­cal­ly altered to resem­ble his grand­fa­ther, because Junior is about trav­el to an alter­nate Earth in 1945 to take grand­pa’s place, with the intent of remak­ing that world more to his lik­ing.” In response, “a pair of tat­tooed Marines go back in time to stop him, but things start to unrav­el when their stealth plane mate­ri­al­izes in a for­ma­tion of B‑17s in the skies above Berlin.” In that alter­nate 1945, “British intel­li­gence offi­cer Nao­mi Givens is tasked with find­ing out what just fell out of the skies of Berlin.” If you feel your curios­i­ty piqued — and how could­n’t you? — you can read through (above) pages of Archangel’s first issue, whose paper ver­sion quick­ly sold out. (You can also pur­chase the dig­i­tal one here.)

As the series goes on, it will sure­ly deliv­er more of the “alter­nate-his­to­ry/cross-worlds sto­ry” that Gib­son describes as “Band Of Broth­ers vs. Black­wa­ter,” not to men­tion plen­ty of hero­ics on the part of anoth­er one of his sig­na­ture pro­tag­o­nists, the “over-the-top female char­ac­ter who just nev­er gets killed.” Enthu­si­asts of both com­ic books and William Gib­son have long and patient­ly wait­ed for those worlds to col­lide, and they’ll pre­sum­ably wait a lit­tle less patient­ly for Archangel’s next issue, since its first one holds out enough promise to make them want to time-trav­el back to an alter­nate 1984, the year of Neu­ro­mancer’s pub­li­ca­tion, and get its author writ­ing comics right away.

via Ars Tech­ni­ca

Relat­ed Con­tent:

William Gib­son Reads Neu­ro­mancer, His Cyber­punk-Defin­ing Nov­el (1994)

Take a Road Trip with Cyber­space Vision­ary William Gib­son, Watch No Maps for These Ter­ri­to­ries (2000)

Tim­o­thy Leary Plans a Neu­ro­mancer Video Game, with Art by Kei­th Har­ing, Music by Devo & Cameos by David Byrne

How Chris Marker’s Rad­i­cal Sci­Fi Film, La Jetée, Changed the Life of Cyber­punk Prophet, William Gib­son

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

10 Most Popular MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) Getting Started in June: Enroll Free Today

june 2016 moocs

Like every­thing else these days, edu­ca­tion has become a 24/7 affair. Yes, things are slow­ing down on col­lege cam­pus­es this sum­mer. But, on the inter­net, it’s full steam ahead. This June alone, over 300 free MOOCs (Mas­sive Open Online Cours­es) are get­ting under­way. They’re all neat­ly cat­a­logued by the edu­ca­tion web site Class Cen­tral, which also tracks the most pop­u­lar MOOCS offered each month. What’s hot in June? Find the top 10 below. And don’t hes­i­tate to enroll in any of the cours­es. They’re all free.

Per­son­al Finance Plan­ning
Pur­due Uni­ver­si­ty via edX
Man­age your mon­ey more effec­tive­ly by learn­ing prac­ti­cal solu­tions to key invest­ment, cred­it, insur­ance and retire­ment ques­tions.
Book­mark | Next Ses­sion : 15th Jun, 2016

Nutri­tion and Health: Food Safe­ty
Wagenin­gen Uni­ver­si­ty via edX
Learn about bac­te­ria, pes­ti­cides and health haz­ards present in food.
Book­mark | Next Ses­sion : 1st Jun, 2016

Islam Through Its Scrip­tures
Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty via edX
Learn about the Quran, the cen­tral sacred text of Islam, through an explo­ration of the rich diver­si­ty of roles and inter­pre­ta­tions in Mus­lim soci­eties.
Book­mark | Next Ses­sion : 1st Jun, 2016

His­to­ry of Graph­ic Design
Cal­i­for­nia Insti­tute of the Arts via Cours­era
This con­densed sur­vey course focus­es on four major areas of design and their his­to­ry: Typog­ra­phy, Image-Mak­ing, Inter­ac­tive Media, and Brand­ing.
Book­mark | Next Ses­sion : 20th Jun, 2016

Big Data: Data Visu­al­i­sa­tion
Queens­land Uni­ver­si­ty of Tech­nol­o­gy via Future­Learn
Data visu­al­i­sa­tion is vital in bridg­ing the gap between data and deci­sions. Dis­cov­er the meth­ods, tools and process­es involved.
Book­mark | Next Ses­sion : 27th Jun, 2016

Micro­eco­nom­ics: When Mar­kets Fail
Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia via Cours­era
Per­fect mar­kets achieve effi­cien­cy: max­i­miz­ing total sur­plus gen­er­at­ed. But real mar­kets are imper­fect. This course will explore a set of mar­ket imper­fec­tions to under­stand why they fail and to explore pos­si­ble reme­dies, includ­ing antitrust pol­i­cy, reg­u­la­tion, and gov­ern­ment inter­ven­tion.
Book­mark | Next Ses­sion : 6th Jun, 2016

Sin­gle Page Web Appli­ca­tions with Angu­lar­JS
Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­si­ty via Cours­era
Do you want to write pow­er­ful, main­tain­able, and testable front end appli­ca­tions faster and with less code? Then con­sid­er join­ing this course to gain skills in one of the most pop­u­lar Sin­gle Page Appli­ca­tion (SPA) frame­works today, Angu­lar­JS
Book­mark | Next Ses­sion : 20th Jun, 2016

Machine Learn­ing: Clus­ter­ing & Retrieval
Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton via Cours­era
A read­er is inter­est­ed in a spe­cif­ic news arti­cle and you want to find sim­i­lar arti­cles to rec­om­mend. What is the right notion of sim­i­lar­i­ty? More­over, what if there are mil­lions of oth­er doc­u­ments?
Book­mark | Next Ses­sion : 15th Jun, 2016

Intro­duc­tion to Engi­neer­ing
Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas at Arling­ton via edX
The appli­ca­tion of knowl­edge to design and build devices, sys­tems, mate­ri­als and process­es in engi­neer­ing.
Book­mark | Next Ses­sion : 8th, Jun, 2016

Social Norms, Social Change
Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia via Cours­era
This is a course on social norms, the rules that glue soci­eties togeth­er. It teach­es how to diag­nose social norms, and how to dis­tin­guish them from oth­er social con­structs, like cus­toms or con­ven­tions.
Book­mark | Next Ses­sion : 20th Jun, 2016

For a com­plete list of cours­es start­ing in June, click here.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

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How to Spot Bullshit: A Primer by Princeton Philosopher Harry Frankfurt

We live in an age of truthi­ness. Come­di­an Stephen Col­bert coined the word to describe the Bush administration’s ten­den­cy to fudge the facts in its favor.

Ten years after the Amer­i­can Dialect Soci­ety named it Word of the Year, for­mer pres­i­dent Bush’s cal­en­dar is packed with such leisure activ­i­ties as golf and paint­ing por­traits of world lead­ers, but “truthi­ness” remains on active duty.

It’s par­tic­u­lar­ly ger­mane in this elec­tion year, though politi­cians are far from its only prac­ti­tion­ers.

Take glob­al warm­ing. NASA makes a pret­ty rock sol­id case for both its exis­tence and our role in it:

97 per­cent or more of active­ly pub­lish­ing cli­mate sci­en­tists agree: Cli­mate-warm­ing trends over the past cen­tu­ry are extreme­ly like­ly due to human activ­i­ties. In addi­tion, most of the lead­ing sci­en­tif­ic orga­ni­za­tions world­wide have issued pub­lic state­ments endors­ing this posi­tion.

In view of such num­bers, its under­stand­able that a sub­ur­ban Joe with a freez­er full of fac­to­ry-farmed beef and mul­ti­ple SUVs in his garage would cling to the posi­tion that glob­al warm­ing is a lie. It’s his last resort, real­ly.

But such self-ratio­nal­iza­tions are not truth. They are truthi­ness.

Or to use the old-fash­ioned word favored by philoso­pher Har­ry Frank­furt, above: bull­shit!

Frank­furt–a philoso­pher at Prince­ton and the author of On Bull­shitallows that bull­shit artists are often charm­ing, or at their very least, col­or­ful. They have to be. Achiev­ing their ends involves engag­ing oth­ers long enough to per­suade them that they know what they’re talk­ing about, when in fact, that’s the oppo­site of the truth.

Speak­ing of oppo­sites, Frank­furt main­tains that bull­shit is a dif­fer­ent beast from an out-and-out lie. The liar makes a spe­cif­ic attempt to con­ceal the truth by swap­ping it out for a lie.

The bull­shit artist’s approach is far more vague. It’s about cre­at­ing a gen­er­al impres­sion.

There are times when I admit to wel­com­ing this sort of manure. As a mak­er of low bud­get the­ater, your hon­est opin­ion of any show I have Lit­tle Red Hen’ed into exis­tence is the last thing I want to hear upon emerg­ing from the cramped dress­ing room, unless you tru­ly loved it.

I’d also encour­age you to choose your words care­ful­ly when dash­ing a child’s dreams.

But when it comes to mat­ters of pub­lic pol­i­cy, and the pub­lic good, yes, trans­paren­cy is best.

It’s inter­est­ing to me that film­mak­ers James Nee and Chris­t­ian Brit­ten trans­formed a por­tion of their learned subject’s thoughts into voiceover nar­ra­tion for a light­ning fast stock footage mon­tage. It’s divert­ing and fun­ny, fea­tur­ing such omi­nous char­ac­ters as Nos­fer­atu, Bill Clin­ton, Char­lie Chaplin’s Great Dic­ta­tor, and Don­ald Trump, but isn’t it also the sort of mis­di­rec­tion sleight of hand at which true bull­shit­ters excel?

Frank­furt expands upon his thoughts on bull­shit in his apt­ly titled best­selling book, On Bull­shit and its fol­lowup On Truth.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Noam Chom­sky Schools 9/11 Truther; Explains the Sci­ence of Mak­ing Cred­i­ble Claims

Young T.S. Eliot Writes “The Tri­umph of Bullsh*t” and Gives the Eng­lish Lan­guage a New Exple­tive (1910)

Stephen Col­bert Explains How The Col­bert Report Is Made in a New Pod­cast

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

Noam Chomsky on Whether the Rise of Trump Resembles the Rise of Fascism in 1930s Germany

No mat­ter where you are in the world, you must by now be well-acquaint­ed with the polit­i­cal chaos in the Unit­ed States. No one can con­fi­dent­ly pre­dict what’s going to hap­pen next. A cer­tain priv­i­leged few still find the sit­u­a­tion amus­ing; a cer­tain few have found a tremen­dous oppor­tu­ni­ty to increase prof­it and stand­ing, embrac­ing the mad­ness by embrac­ing Don­ald Trump, the celebri­ty real estate mogul some on the right have dubbed their “Great White Hope.”

A col­umn last week by the far-right nation­al­ist Pat Buchanan— whom Trump once denounced as a “Hitler-Lover”—ran with the idea, express­ing the para­noiac fan­tasies of thou­sands of white suprema­cists who have ral­lied behind the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee. Rhetoric like Buchanan’s and David Duke’s—anoth­er sup­port­er Trump once dis­avowed (then famous­ly didn’t, then even­tu­al­ly did again)—has demol­ished the “Over­ton win­dow,” we hear. America’s racist table talk is now a major par­ty plat­form: the prover­bial crank uncle who immis­er­ates Christ­mas din­ner with wild con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries now airs griev­ances 24 hours a day on cable news, unbound by “polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness” or stan­dards of accu­ra­cy of any kind.

Grant­ed, a major­i­ty of the elec­torate is hard­ly thrilled by the like­ly alter­na­tive to Trump, but as even con­ser­v­a­tive author P.J. O’Rourke quipped in his back­hand­ed endorse­ment of Hillary Clin­ton, “She’s wrong about absolute­ly every­thing, but she’s wrong with­in nor­mal para­me­ters.” There’s noth­ing “nor­mal” about Don­ald Trump’s can­di­da­cy. Its freak­ish­ness enthralls his ador­ing fans. But the mil­lions of Amer­i­cans who aren’t among them have legit­i­mate cause for alarm.

Com­par­isons to Hitler and Mus­soli­ni may have worn out their use­ful­ness in elec­tions past—frivolous as they often were—but the Trump campaign’s overt dem­a­goguery, vicious misog­y­ny, racism, vio­lent speech, actu­al vio­lence, com­plete dis­re­gard for truth, threats to free speech, and sim­plis­tic, macho cult of per­son­al­i­ty have prompt­ed plau­si­ble shouts of fas­cism from every cor­ner.

For­mer Repub­li­can Mass­a­chu­setts gov­er­nor (and recent­ly reject­ed Lib­er­tar­i­an vice-pres­i­den­tial can­di­date) William Weld equat­ed Trump’s immi­gra­tion plan with Kristall­nacht, an anal­o­gy, writes Peter Bak­er in The New York Times that is “not a lone­ly one.” (“There is nobody less of a fas­cist than Don­ald Trump,” the can­di­date retort­ed.) Like­wise, con­ser­v­a­tive colum­nist Robert Kagan recent­ly penned a Times op-ed denounc­ing Trump as a fas­cist, a posi­tion, he writes, with­out a “coher­ent ide­ol­o­gy” except its nation­al­ist attacks on racial and reli­gious oth­ers and belief in “the strong­man, the leader (Il Duce, Der Führer), in whom could be entrust­ed the fate of the nation.”

On the lib­er­al left, fig­ures like for­mer labor sec­re­tary Robert Reich and actor and Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty orga­niz­er George Clooney have made the charge, as well as colum­nists in the New Repub­lic and else­where. In the video above from Democ­ra­cy Now, Mex­i­can pres­i­dent Enrique Pena Nieto com­pares Trump to Hitler, and Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty’s Robert Pax­ton—who has writ­ten arti­cles and a book on his the­o­ry of fascism—discusses the pos­si­bil­i­ty of Trump-as-fas­cist.

At the top of the post, Noam Chom­sky (MIT pro­fes­sor and author of the new book, Who Rules the World?) weighs in, with his analy­sis of the “gen­er­al­ized rage” of “main­ly work­ing class, mid­dle class, and poor white males” and their “tra­di­tion­al fam­i­lies” coa­lesc­ing around Trump. (Any­one who objects to Chomsky’s char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of Trump as a cir­cus clown should take a moment to revis­it his real­i­ty show career and per­for­mance in the WWE ring, not to men­tion those debates.)

In Chomsky’s assess­ment, we need only look to U.S. his­to­ry to find the kind of “strong” racial­ized nativism Trump espous­es, from Ben­jamin Franklin’s aver­sion to Ger­man and Swedish immi­grants, who were “not pure Anglo-Sax­ons like us,” to lat­er par­ties like the 19th cen­tu­ry Know Noth­ings. Per­haps, as John Cas­sidy wrote in The New York­er last year, that’s what Trump rep­re­sents.

The his­to­ry of nativism, Chom­sky goes on, “con­tin­ues into the 20th cen­tu­ry. There’s a myth of Anglo-Sax­on­ism. We’re pure Anglo-Sax­ons. (If you look around, it’s a joke.)” Now, there’s “the pic­ture of us being over­whelmed by Mus­lims and Mex­i­cans and the Chi­nese. Some­how, they’ve tak­en our coun­try away.” This notion (which peo­ple like David Duke call “white geno­cide”) is

Based on some­thing objec­tive. The white pop­u­la­tion is pret­ty soon going to become a minor­i­ty (what­ev­er ‘white’ means)…. The response to this is gen­er­al­ized anger at every­thing. So every time Trump makes a nasty com­ment about who­ev­er, his pop­u­lar­i­ty goes up. Because it’s based on hate, you know. Hate and fear. And it’s unfor­tu­nate­ly kind of rem­i­nis­cent of some­thing unpleas­ant: Ger­many, not many years ago.

Chom­sky dis­cuss­es Germany’s plum­met from its cul­tur­al and polit­i­cal heights in the 20s—when Hitler received 3% of the vote—to the decay of the 30s, when the Nazis rose to pow­er. Though the sit­u­a­tions are “not iden­ti­cal,” they are sim­i­lar enough, he says, to war­rant con­cern. Like­wise, the eco­nom­ic destruc­tion of Greece, says Chom­sky may (and indeed has) lead to the rise of a fas­cist par­ty, a phe­nom­e­non we’ve wit­nessed all over Europe.

The fall of the Weimar Repub­lic has a com­pli­cat­ed his­to­ry whose gen­er­al out­lines most of us know well enough. Ger­many’s defeat in WWI and the puni­tive, post-Treaty of Ver­sailles’ repa­ra­tions that con­tributed to hyper­in­fla­tion and total eco­nom­ic col­lapse do not par­al­lel the cur­rent state of affairs in the U.S.—anxious and agi­tat­ed as the coun­try may be. But Hitler’s rise to pow­er is instruc­tive. Ini­tial­ly dis­missed as a clown, he strug­gled for polit­i­cal pow­er for many years, and his par­ty bare­ly man­aged to hold a major­i­ty in the Reich­stag in the ear­ly 30s. The his­tor­i­cal ques­tion of why few—in Ger­many or in the U.S.—took Hitler seri­ous­ly as a threat has become a com­mon­place. (Part­ly answered by the amount of tac­it sup­port both there and here.)

Hitler’s strug­gle for dom­i­nance tru­ly cat­alyzed when he allied with the coun­try’s con­ser­v­a­tives (and Chris­tians), who made him Chan­cel­lor. Thus began his pro­gram of Gle­ich­schal­tung—“syn­chro­niza­tion” or “bring­ing into line”—during which all for­mer oppo­si­tion was made to ful­ly endorse his plans. In sim­i­lar fash­ion, Trump has fought for polit­i­cal rel­e­vance on the right for years, using xeno­pho­bic big­otry as his pri­ma­ry weapon. It worked. Now that he has tak­en over the Repub­li­can Party—and the reli­gious right—we’ve seen near­ly all of Trump’s oppo­nents on the right, from politi­cians to media fig­ures, com­plete­ly fold under and make fawn­ing shows of sup­port. Even some Bernie Sanders sup­port­ers have found ways to jus­ti­fy sup­port­ing Trump.

But Trump is “not Hitler,” as his wife Mela­nia claimed in his defense after his sup­port­ers swarmed jour­nal­ist Julia Ioffe with grotesque anti-Semit­ic attacks. Although he has an obvi­ous affin­i­ty for white nation­al­ists and neo-Nazis (see his activ­i­ty on social media and else­where) and per­haps a fond­ness for Hitler’s speech­es, the com­par­i­son has seri­ous draw­backs. Trump is some­thing else—something per­haps more far­ci­cal and bum­bling, but maybe just as dan­ger­ous giv­en the forces he has uni­fied and ele­vat­ed domes­ti­cal­ly, and the dan­gers of such an unsta­ble, pet­ty, vin­dic­tive per­son tak­ing over the world’s largest mil­i­tary, and nuclear arse­nal.

Per­haps he’s just a taste­less, cyn­i­cal con-man enter­tain­er using hate as anoth­er means of self-advance­ment. He has non-white and Jew­ish sup­port­ers!, his vot­ers claim. He holds “cor­rupt and lib­er­al New York val­ues”! say con­ser­v­a­tive detrac­tors. These objec­tions ring hol­low giv­en all Trump has said and done in recent years. His cam­paign, and the response it has drawn, looks enough like those of pre­vi­ous far-right racist lead­ers that call­ing Trump a fas­cist doesn’t seem far-fetched at all. That should seri­ous­ly alarm any hon­est per­son who isn’t a far-right xeno­pho­bic nation­al­ist.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Noam Chom­sky Defines What It Means to Be a Tru­ly Edu­cat­ed Per­son

Noam Chom­sky Slams Žižek and Lacan: Emp­ty ‘Pos­tur­ing’

How to Spot Bull­shit: A Primer by Prince­ton Philoso­pher Har­ry Frank­furt

Rare 1940 Audio: Thomas Mann Explains the Nazis’ Ulte­ri­or Motive for Spread­ing Anti-Semi­tism

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

4 Simple Ways You Can Personally Reduce Your Risk of Getting Cancer

A quick pub­lic ser­vice announce­ment. Accord­ing to a new study pub­lished in the jour­nal JAMA Oncol­o­gy, we have a good mea­sure of con­trol over whether can­cer rates actu­al­ly rise or fall. And if we take four prac­ti­cal steps, we could see can­cer rates decline by as much as 40–60%. Here’s what the new study rec­om­mends:

  • No smok­ing. It’s that sim­ple. (Bill Plymp­ton’s “25 Ways To Quit Smok­ing” video above offers some light-heart­ed ways to rid your­self of that bad habit.)
  • Drink in mod­er­a­tion. One drink or less per day for women; two or less for men. Not more.
  • Main­tain a healthy body weight, a Body Mass Index between 18.5 and 27.5. Learn how to cal­cu­late your BMI here.
  • Exer­cise often. Dur­ing a giv­en week, exer­cise mod­er­ate­ly for at least 150 min­utes, or vig­or­ous­ly for at least 75 min­utes.

There are no great rev­e­la­tions here. It’s com­mon sense real­ly. But maybe you could improve in one of these areas, and maybe now is the time to get going.

You can find more details on the study in this press release.

And, just for good mea­sure, eat well (no processed foods) and get a good night of sleep.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

via LA Times/WaPo

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Why Sit­ting Is The New Smok­ing: An Ani­mat­ed Expla­na­tion

The Sci­ence of Willpow­er: 15 Tips for Mak­ing Your New Year’s Res­o­lu­tions Last from Dr. Kel­ly McGo­ni­gal

John Cleese Explores the Health Ben­e­fits of Laugh­ter

Walt Whitman’s Unearthed Health Man­u­al, “Man­ly Health & Train­ing,” Urges Read­ers to Stand (Don’t Sit!) and Eat Plen­ty of Meat (1858)

Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Life & Literature Introduced in a Monty Python-Style Animation

“You know how ear­li­er we were talk­ing about Dos­toyevsky?” asks David Brent, Ricky Ger­vais’ icon­i­cal­ly inse­cure paper-com­pa­ny mid­dle-man­ag­er cen­tral to the BBC’s orig­i­nal The Office. “Oh, yeah?” replies Ricky, the junior employ­ee who had ear­li­er that day demon­strat­ed a knowl­edge of the influ­en­tial Russ­ian nov­el­ist appar­ent­ly intim­i­dat­ing to his boss. “Fyo­dor Mikhailovich Dos­toyevsky. Born 1821. Died 1881,” recites Brent. “Just inter­est­ed in him being exiled in Siberia for four years.” Ricky admits to not know­ing much about that peri­od of the writer’s life. “All it is is that he was a mem­ber of a secret polit­i­cal par­ty,” Brent con­tin­ues, draw­ing upon research clear­ly per­formed moments pre­vi­ous, “and they put him in a Siber­ian labour camp for four years, so, you know…”

We here at Open Cul­ture know that you would­n’t stoop to such tac­tics in an attempt to estab­lish intel­lec­tu­al suprema­cy over your co-work­ers — nor would you feel any shame in not hav­ing yet plunged into the work of that same Fyo­dor Mikhailovich Dos­toyevsky, born 1821, died 1881, and the author of such much-taught nov­els as Crime and Pun­ish­mentThe Idiot, and The Broth­ers Kara­ma­zov (as well as a pro­lif­ic doo­dler). “His first major work,” in the pos­tur­ing words of David Brent, “was Notes from the Under­ground, which he wrote in St Peters­burg in 1859. Of course, my favorite is The Raw Youth. It’s basi­cal­ly where Dos­toyevsky goes on to explain how sci­ence can’t real­ly find answers for the deep­er human need.”

An intrigu­ing posi­tion! To hear it explained with deep­er com­pre­hen­sion (but just as enter­tain­ing­ly, and also in an Eng­lish-accent­ed voice), watch this 14-minute, Mon­ty Python-style ani­mat­ed primer from Alain de Bot­ton’s School of Life and read the accom­pa­ny­ing arti­cle from The Book of Life. Even apart from those years in Siberia, the man “had a very hard life, but he suc­ceed­ed in con­vey­ing an idea which per­haps he under­stood more clear­ly than any­one: in a world that’s very keen on upbeat sto­ries, we will always run up against our lim­i­ta­tions as deeply flawed and pro­found­ly mud­dled crea­tures,” an atti­tude “need­ed more than ever in our naive and sen­ti­men­tal age that so fer­vent­ly clings to the idea – which this great Russ­ian loathed – that sci­ence can save us all and that we may yet be made per­fect through tech­nol­o­gy.”

After The School of Life gets you up to speed on Dos­toyevsky, you’ll no doubt find your­self able to more than hold your own in any water-cool­er dis­cus­sion of the man whom James Joyce cred­it­ed with shat­ter­ing the Vic­to­ri­an nov­el, “with its sim­per­ing maid­ens and ordered com­mon­places,” whom Vir­ginia Woolf regard­ed as the most excit­ing writer oth­er that Shake­speare, and whose work Her­mann Hesse tan­ta­liz­ing­ly described as “a glimpse into the hav­oc.” You may well also find your­self moved even to open one of Dos­toyevsky’s intim­i­dat­ing­ly impor­tant books them­selves, whose assess­ments of the human con­di­tion remain as dev­as­tat­ing­ly clear-eyed as, well, The Office’s.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Dos­to­evsky Draws Doo­dles of Raskol­nikov and Oth­er Char­ac­ters in the Man­u­script of Crime and Pun­ish­ment

Fyo­dor Dos­to­evsky Draws Elab­o­rate Doo­dles In His Man­u­scripts

Dos­to­evsky Draws a Pic­ture of Shake­speare: A New Dis­cov­ery in an Old Man­u­script

The Dig­i­tal Dos­to­evsky: Down­load Free eBooks & Audio Books of the Russ­ian Novelist’s Major Works

The Ani­mat­ed Dos­to­evsky: Two Fine­ly Craft­ed Short Films Bring the Russ­ian Novelist’s Work to Life

Albert Camus Talks About Nihilism & Adapt­ing Dostoyevsky’s The Pos­sessed for the The­atre, 1959

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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