John Foster

John Foster is a librarian, writer, and musician based in Cleveland, Ohio. When not writing or attending shows, he can usually be found cursing at his television during Arsenal matches.


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The New Dystopia

The New Dystopia

I have, from time to time, been wont to quote the opening passage of Horkheimer and Adorno’s Dialectic of Enlightenment. It is perhaps the most compelling statement of the deeply unsettling character of the modern world. “Enlightenment, understood in the widest sense as the advance of thought, has always aimed at liberating human beings from fear and installing them as masters.” More»

The Downfall of American Democracy

The Downfall of American Democracy

Verso has recently published a collection of Lewis Lapham’s essays under the title Age of Folly: America Abandons Its Democracy. If a book more apposite to our current situation has been published in the last 18 months I am unaware of it. More»

The Trumpian Dawn

The Trumpian Dawn

The United States is at a crossroads, one that few on the left thought would arrive at as recently as last week. The election of Donald Trump to the presidency is the harbinger of the most severe crisis to face the democratic institutions of this country since the late 1850s. More»

David Brooks Journeys to His Happy Place

David Brooks Journeys to His Happy Place

There are moments when I am tempted to start a sub-blog that would comprise commentaries on op-eds David Brooks publishes in the New York Times. Partly this stems from the delicious Schadenfreude that one experiences while watching this leading journalistic light of moderate conservatism try to cope with Donald Trump burning the Republican Party to the ground. More»

Konsumterror

Konsumterror

I’ve been reading Alexander Sedlmaier’s Consumption and Violence: Radical Protest in Cold War West Germany. I picked it up after seeing it in the Cambridge University Press catalog, and only subsequently did I realize that I’d seen Sedlmaier give quite an interesting presentation at a German Studies Association conference in New Orleans long ago. More»

Legends of the Fall

Legends of the Fall

As a practical matter, it seems to be very difficult to write a book about the Frankfurt School (or any of its related figures) which is not hagiographical, impenetrable, interminable, or some combination of the three. I can count on one hand the number of titles on this topic that did not prompt me to the immediate consumption of alcohol or some sort of stimulant. More»

The Fifth or Sixth Human

The Fifth or Sixth Human

Der dritte oder der vierte Mensch, by the German sociologist Alfred Weber, hardly qualifies as a classic of the literature. It was published in 1953 as the first phase of the Cold War was winding down and much of the value that it retains is due to the way that it reflects the mindset of a particular moment in history. More»

Progress Sucks

Progress Sucks

Progress has a bad name these days. There is a certain degree of justice in this. For the vast majority of human history, things were seen to be static. What would be was what had been, at least until some sort of apocalypse brought matters to a close. Progress as a historical motif gained its greatest prominence during the Enlightenment, although it was not really new then. More»

The Past is Alive

The Past is Alive

Of all the words in the lexicon of music writing, legendary must be about the most over-used.  Yet I am very much of the opinion that it applies here. Anti-Cimex formed in the days when the U.K. punk scene of the late 1970s was metastasizing into the hardcore punk scene of the 1980s. More»

The Sociopath Faction

The Sociopath Faction

Taking journalistic potshots at the Republican National Convention really amounts to the grabbing of low hanging fruit (or perhaps low hanging nuts). The level of self-involved crazy is so great, and so profoundly weird that it’s not difficult to find targets for humorous engagement. More»

United States of Extremism

United States of Extremism

This is the first of two articles on the party national conventions that are currently going on in the United States. These gatherings have precipitated more than the usual measure of handwringing this time around, especially on what passes for the left wing of American politics. More»

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