Gordie Fellman: Introduction

[Editor’s note: The next three posts in the Waltham Review are by Brandeis sociology professor Gordie Fellman.  This post is Gordie Fellman’s introduction to his two letters, a letter to the 1 percent and a letter to the 99 percent. The previous post is the Editor’s introduction to Professor Fellman’s posts in the Waltham Review]

I am a professor of sociology at Brandeis University and chair its undergraduate interdisciplinary program in Peace, Conflict, and Coexistence Studies.

There is no consensual agreement on the definition of sociology. Here is mine: Sociology is the discipline that allows us to locate sources and dynamics of unnecessary human suffering and ways to reduce it.

Toward that end, I work on both the structural level of analysis—social class, race, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality—and the social psychological level, asking what are humans’ inner dynamics that express complex inner distress and also link to cultural contradictions and pathologies.

My book Rambo and the Dalai Lama: the Compulsion to Win and Its Threat to Human Survival makes the case that humans have so far lived under the adversary paradigm, which takes victory of any sort as its goal. The alternative, the mutuality paradigm, prizes connection, cooperation, empathy, and compassion toward solving human and planetary problems together.

I am now completing a book called The Coming End of War, which offers a three part deconstruction of war, as well as several suggestions for how to come to terms with what war has been and how to move past it.

I have received various teaching and academic honors, none more precious to me than being designated as a very dangerous professor by David Horowitz, in his 2006 book The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America. This label clearly refers back to a 2004 article in Horowitz’s FrontPageMag.com blog, where one of Horowitz’s associates attacks the peace studies program I chair at Brandeis as an example of the so-called “dangerous leftism of peace studies.”

Inspired by the now defunct Occupy movement, which started in New York five years ago this week, then quickly spread across America, I have, this election year,  written a Letter to the 1% and a Letter to the 99%, both of which are posted now on the Waltham Review.

(Artwork: Pieter Cornelis “Piet” Mondrian (Dutch, 1872-1944) Composition A 1920)

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