Monday, May 23, 2016

Kansas City Enlightenment Project

The Kansas City Enlightenment Project is an initiative inaugurated in July 2014, guided by veteran cultural activist Fred Whitehead, whose accomplishments include the edited volume Freethought on the American Frontier (1992) and the erstwhile newsletters Freethought History and People's Culture.

The group's name is a response to the challenge of Dialectic of Enlightenment by Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno and the notion that Enlightenment was ineffective against fascism and the blockage of radical progressive agendas in the post-World-War-II capitalist democracies, especially the United States.
We noted the appearance of an international organization called The Re-Enlightenment Project, based mostly on participants from prestigious cultural institutions such as museums, universities, and so on. It began in New York, but quickly engaged people in Europe. In the United States, we further noted, its participants were entirely on the East and West Coasts. We believe our modest Kansas City effort, based in the geographical center of the country, can offer Midwestern perspectives and raise the flag of the Enlightenment in this territory.
The Re-Enlightenment Project is based at New York University. Its initiatives and personnel are listed on its web site. I recognize the name of its Director, Clifford Siskin, who is a noted scholar of Romanticism.

The American Midwest has its own heritage of freewheeling, independent radicalism, not kowtowing to the coastal power centers. We shall see what comes of their determination to fight back against the forces of ignorance, disinformation, and reaction dominant in the United States. You may find my writing on their web site at some point.