Always Inventing Marxism

Always Inventing Marxism

When attempting to assess the work of the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, one is tempted to do as Richard Bernstein did in a piece about Habermas in the 1980s and write two columns: one showing what a sympathetic, the other what an unsympathetic critic would say. More»

Metal Pakistan

Metal Pakistan

During the 1990s, numerous Pakistani bands arose from the nascent democracy that followed the end of the Zia ul-Haq era. Dusk was one of them: a Pakistani metal band with a sound that has evolved with the miseries of daily life. More»

The Death of Meaning

The Death of Meaning

Even if you’ve heard nothing about the new Sufjan Stevens album Carrie and Lowell, the cover should make its purpose clear. But I somehow managed to remain willfully ignorant until the moment when I put it on the stereo. It must have been a defense mechanism, because the minute his voice entered the warbling folk of the first track, I was already in tears. More»

Latest entries
The New Ted Heath

The New Ted Heath

If the Financial Times has it right, the centre-left is on course to win Britain’s general election. According to the erstwhile pink tabloid, it all comes down to math. Statistics show that a Labour-SNP government has a 32.5% of victory, whereas the governing Tories lag painfully behind, at 0.39%. If true, it’d be a spectacular drubbing. More»

The Houthis and the Salehs

The Houthis and the Salehs

Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi, father of the ongoing Houthi revolt, demanded greater autonomy and influence for his family as spiritual leaders among Yemen’s Zaydi Shia community. President Ali Abdullah Saleh refused to accept these demands, not wanting to lose power to a rival family.  More»

The Afghan Character

The Afghan Character

Modern Pakistan is filled with myths about “the Afghan character,” particular to its urban middle class. As a result, students of Pakistani politics frequently encounter bizarrely colonial appraisals of “culturally Afghan” groups in Pakistan. More»

The California Dream Dries Up

The California Dream Dries Up

Climate change is dominating the global news cycle as never before. With every catastrophic storm and highly unusual spate of weather, the possibility that we have irreparably destabilized the Earth’s delicate ecological balance looms larger. Even in the United States, where, despite — or perhaps because of — a comparatively high standard of living and learning, denial of this dire situation has been rampant, the tide is tuning. More»

The Anti-Cameron

The Anti-Cameron

The first round of Britain’s election debates passed with little trouble. In spite of a heckler’s best efforts, three women represented the left on the national stage. As the UK media has grudgingly acknowledged, Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon won the debate. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. More»

Toxic Country

Toxic Country

Igor Kolomoisky was having a bad week. The Ukrainian parliament had passed a new law that would have cost him control over a major oil company. So Mr. Kolomoisky, one of the richest men in Ukraine, decided to fight back. Just not through the courts. He and a group of handpicked, armed men stormed two office complexes in Kiev on March 19th and 22nd. More»

The New Information Economy

The New Information Economy

There’s a point in Don Letts’ Clash documentary Westway to the World where bassist Paul Simonon talks about the uncertainty that they all felt about their status after they’d signed their first record contract with CBS Records (for £100,000) in January 1977. More»

Iran in Yemen

Iran in Yemen

The Saudi-led invasion of Yemen has opened new discussions on the Houthis, an alliance of tribal militants that are based in Sa’ada. Mainstream analysts have begun to insist that the group is nothing more than an Iranian proxy, which demands closer scrutiny. More»

Sticking It to The Man

Sticking It to The Man

At a time when the word “fascism” is being thrown around with increasing carelessness, on both the Right and Left, the fight against it is plagued by confusion. Most people, regardless of their ideological position, adhere to the belief that being a fascist requires some form of totalitarian behavior. But the role of the state in that behavior is no longer taken for granted. More»

Death of the Center-Left

Death of the Center-Left

It’s been nearly five years since Ed Miliband was elected as Labour leader. From the start, the right-wing press heaped scorn upon him. Of all the attacks foisted upon him the ‘fratricidal’ agent charge, who stepped over his own brother to grab the big seat, backed by trade unions, was perhaps the most revealing. More»

To the Crematorium

To the Crematorium

He was running across our rows for the first time. He was creating a new block out of us, the “zugangs” (new arrivals.) He was seeking, among unknown people, some men to keep order in the block. Fate willed it that he chose me, he choose Karol Swietorzecki (a reserve officer of 13th cavalry regiment,) Witold Rozycki (a good fellow from Warsaw,) and several others. More»

From Extreme Metal to Islamic State

From Extreme Metal to Islamic State

When I set out to do ethnographic research on extreme metal for my doctorate in the mid-1990s, it was the transgression that fascinated me. I wanted to immerse myself in a culture dedicated to musical celebrations of the dark side, that flirted with sonic oblivion, that stared into the abyss. More»