Don’t call it a comeback. Months ago, at the height of last winter’s Occupy eruption, I wrote that we were “in the last throes of the era of Ezra Klein.” But then came rebuttals from the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books. The editorial class demanded, “More Ezra!”
Maybe “epoch” would’ve been the fitting word.
The Black Jacobin
Choosing a visual representation for a collective can be as politically fraught as the drafting of a written manifesto, and the image that graces our masthead is no exception. I presented four options to the Jacobin editorial board, but the debate boiled down to two. An abstract symbol ultimately lost out to our new pictoral logo, which references C. L. R. James’s The Black Jacobins.
Where is our fifteen-hour workweek? Had Keynes been right about how society would use its productivity growth, we would not find his predictions borne out in the per capita income statistics – these measure only the production of commodities.
The average European works almost double the proportion of their lifetime waking hours that Keynes predicted, and Americans two-and-a-half times.
The Case for Cinderblocks
It’s no accident that this is a microcosm of what is happening to public schools, where parents and kids are increasingly being asked to pitch in and paint the building or hawk candy bars to fill budget gaps. That’s because the values of freedom, autonomy, and choice are in perfect accordance with market-based “reforms,” and with the neoliberal vision of society on which they’re based.
Tom Friedman’s War on Humanity
Friedman has done a superb job of delegitimizing himself as a journalist by peddling an array of schizophrenic postulates against a solid backdrop of warmongering apologetics on behalf of empire and capital. It says much about the dismal state of contemporary journalism that his unabashed advocacy for collective punishment, both military and economic, has facilitated rather than jeopardized his prominent perch at the US newspaper of record, his elevation to the rank of Top Global Thinker by Foreign Policy magazine, and his occasional service as dispenser of personal advice to Barack Obama.
The Politics of Getting a Life
It is relatively easy to say that in the future I will be what I am now – a worker, just perhaps with more money or more job security or more control over my work. It is something else to imagine ourselves as different kinds of people altogether.
Against Law, For Order
To see how mass incarceration has reworked our expectations about governance, we need to understand the relationship of policing to the two major political ideologies of the past thirty years and the governance project that came out of it. How did a neoconservative movement that describes itself as being for limited government and liberty become the engine behind a prison state more expansive than that of Russia or Rwanda? And how does the government of the neoliberal imagination, which, by definition, fails at everything it attempts, expand its activities in the one area – imprisonment and the use of force – that has such a high risk of abuse?
Special Topic: The European Left
Introduction: Europe Against the Left
Europe today is witnessing developments that may soon bring an end to the last forty years’ trajectory of steady left decline; whether what comes next will be a revival or a final collapse will be determined by events that lie closer than we think.
The Left Party is neither a radical anti-capitalist formation like France’s ailing Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste or Portugal’s Bloco Esquerda, both of which define themselves as being to the left of both “official” socialist and (post-)communist parties; nor is it a social-democratized formation such as France’s Communist Party or Italy’s tragically splintered Rifondazione Communista. Rather, it is all of these things, in one formally unified, but internally contentious formation.
An Incomplete Legacy
We’ve lost the ability to talk about social democracy (much less socialism) not simply because of a crisis of faith. It’s because the institutions with the ability to articulate an alternative discursive framework have been defeated as real political alternatives. This points to the fundamental limitation of social democracy, or “socialist capitalism,” as Michael Harrington more accurately described it. It’s a compromise between socialism and capitalism, but one that’s made on capitalism’s terms.
Socialism with Dutch Characteristics
The Socialist Party is an unusual organization, perhaps even unique. While its policies might at first glance give the impression of a kind of progressive social democracy, its pervasive grassroots activism reveals a different reality.
an interview with Emmanuel Todd
“A New Deal or ‘Papandreouization’”
V.S. Naipaul and the American Right
Naipaul’s career developed at a time when Western reactionary intellectuals could still be formidable, dynamic and unpredictable; there was space carved out on the Right for reactionary talent like Naipaul.
I hate to piss on the party, but chairs suck. All of them. No designer has ever made a good chair, because it is impossible. Some are better than others, but all are bad. Not only are chairs a health hazard, they also have a problematic history that has inextricably tied them to our culture of status-obsessed individualism. Worse still, we’ve become dependent on them and it’s not clear that we’ll ever be free.
Reality T.V. and Flexible Future
Much of my life is spent either at work, working from home, or looking for other jobs, so you’d think that the last thing I’d want to do is relive work in an estranged, if tautly edited, form. But reality TV is better than the morosely Freudian period dramas everyone else in my demographic keeps talking about. It’s far more honest about our condition, and therefore more educational.
Special Topic: Philanthropy
It’s no small feat that this mega-charity has successfully branded a color, making pink synonymous with fighting breast cancer. According to an old New York Times profile, Brinker is well aware of her achievement. Thanks to Brinker, “breast cancer has blossomed from wallflower to the most popular girl at the corporate charity prom.”
The Philanthropic Complex
One source summarized the general situation in this way: “Progressive funders say all things are connected, but act as if all things are disconnected. Conservative funders never argue that all things are connected, but then they act – and spend money – as if they were.”
(on James Livingston’s Against Thrift)
But the nature of Livingston’s defense is revealing. He doesn’t contest the “crapification” charge, or urge poor people to give in to the libidinal desires they’ve discovered through
McDonald’s billboards. Instead of defending actually existing capitalist consumerism, he defends the promise of a future which will feature consumption alongside “redistributing income and socializing investment” – bringing it under popular control so it can be driven by social concerns rather than mere profit.
The Race to 3,000
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