Bundestag and Knesset

Bundestag and Knesset

On a visit to Israel in 2008, Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke before the Knesset. “The historical responsibility for Israel’s security is part of Germany’s raison d’être,” she said. During her most recent visit, in February, on which she was accompanied by nearly her entire cabinet, Merkel was awarded Israel’s highest civilian honor for “standing by Israel” and fighting against anti-Semitism and racism. More»

The Past-Perfect Thing

The Past-Perfect Thing

It made me feel sad, seeing the “perfect thing” reduced to such a pedestrian function. Impersonally repurposed, devoid of caché, the antithesis of the iPod’s glory years. Worse still, it had been caged next to instructions on how to use it, as if the average consumer would have forgotten, in stark contrast to the portable phonograph displayed by the cash register for Record Store Day. More»

Rise of Javid

Rise of Javid

David Cameron’s Tories have become enamored with the British-Pakistani banker Sajid Javid. The danger of this cannot be understated. Unlike Cameron’s other token efforts, like Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Javid actually has a chance of being successful. More»

Latest entries
Waiting for the Anarchists

Waiting for the Anarchists

Whenever foreign leftists think about Italy, one of the first things that comes to mind are violent demonstrations, in big cities, like Rome, and Milan. Rarely do they imagine politics taking place outside of the major tourist hubs. It’s not surprising. One plays host to the federal government. The other, the business sector. More»

American Labor’s Death

American Labor’s Death

A U.S. Supreme Court decision set to come out this summer could decide the fate of the nation’s public sector unions, and judging by the temperament of the court’s conservative five-member majority, it looks as if labor is bracing for a powerful punch to the gut. The court’s acceptance of the idea of that money is tantamount to speech means that a decision in Harris v. Quinn could mean the end of the “closed shop” in government employment. More»

How Not to Defend Spoilers

How Not to Defend Spoilers

A seemingly endless pattern has developed. Somebody on my Facebook feed gives away a development from a television program, and another person complains. Then, the discussion starts. It’s always the same thing, the same arguments, and the same discourses that prevent any meaningful exploration from taking place. More»

Facing Multicultural Europe

Facing Multicultural Europe

When you see them all lined up in a row, staring out at you with faces of cheer and goodwill, the pressure to identify with them is strong. To identify with them as Europeans. To identify with Europe. And that’s surely the point behind this ad campaign, because the bureaucrats in Brussels and Strasbourg who signed off on it need to cultivate a sense of continental belonging. More»

Qutb's Communism

Qutb’s Communism

For all his shortcomings, I find Sayyid Qutb to be treated somewhat unfairly. This was probably inevitable. After all, Qutb’s prison writings as a disenchanted member of the Muslim Brotherhood helped inspire two of the region’s most fear-inducing ideologies: Islamism, and Salafi jihadism. More»

Are the Mekons a Meal?

Are the Mekons a Meal?

The other night I saw Skull Orchard, the latest side band of the Mekons’ Jon Langford, in Brooklyn. I was hungry for some good music, and the show was filling—but not the same way even the best reunions, such as Flag’s recent set, or the Avengers show a few years back, have been. More»

Austerity Rising

Austerity Rising

The broad European response to the economic downturn of the last few years has been various programmes of economic austerity: reductions of national expenditure through intense budget cuts. History shows that this is a risky tactic. Policies like this played an important role in aiding the Nazis’ rise to power at the end of the Weimar Republic More»

Concentrated Wealth

Concentrated Wealth

The publication of Capital in the Twenty-First Century, by French economist Thomas Piketty, has come at a crucial moment. In the US,  there have been suggestions from the White House that income inequality is a matter of concern. Europe today has become a sort of mad scientist’s laboratory in which defunct theories from the past (austerity, the gold standard, German hegemony) are redeployed in the hope that they’ll work better this time around. More»

Nostalgic for Nirvana

Nostalgic for Nirvana

Over the past month, pieces marking the twentieth anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s suicide have built to a crescendo. For those who remember the initial coverage of his death, when his face stared out from publication after publication, the commemoration inspired a disturbing sense of déjà vu. We were being asked to relive something that wasn’t pleasant to begin with, but also, inevitably, to compare that period with our own. More»

Muhammad the Anti-Capitalist

Muhammad the Anti-Capitalist

Would the Prophet Muhammad have been anti-capitalist?  Obviously, we cannot know. The Prophet’s experiences with mystical poetry, called “Revelation” by believing Muslims, are firmly grounded in their historical setting. They cannot offer direct insight on capitalism any more than they can provide a critique of Italian Futurism More»

Farewell to Café Aleppo

Farewell to Café Aleppo

“So how are you leaving Armenia?” Levon asked, with a smile. After six months in Yerevan, I was soon to return home. I regretted my decision. Levon, the composite character of Syrian-Armenian refugee and kebab stall owner I had come to know during my stay, was arranging triangular Khachapuri, Georgian cheese pastries, on a baking tray. When tessellated, he grinned at his handywork, then up at me. More»

Treatises of Fascism

Treatises of Fascism

If we are to maintain our vigilance in the face of the possibility, of the return of fascist forms of government to Europe, it is important to understand some of the structural causes that facilitated the rise of fascism and allowed it to gain such a hold of the populations in the countries involved.  One of these is philosophical, and another is simply how it spreads. More»