Books

No problem is so central to everyday life in the modern world as that of work, although its manifestations vary widely depending on one’s location in the global topography of production and consumption. If the central issue of David Graeber’s latest book, Bullshit Jobs, is a phenomenon specific to postindustrial society, it is nonetheless true that the broader implications of his argument spiral outwards, making contact with the broader reaches the productive processes in late capitalism. (More…)

Discussions of the Mear One mural, Jeremy Corbyn’s reaction, and anti-Semitism within the UK Labour party bring to mind a long-ago discussion.  The reason lies with majoritarian difficulty or inability to see what is perfectly visible to a minority.  (More…)

It has often been said that when two armies face each other across a battlefront and engage in mutual slaughter, they may be considered as a single army engaged in suicide. Now it seems to me that when countries, each one doing its best to arrest its economic ruin, do their utmost to accelerate the ruin of each other, we are witnessing the suicide of civilisation itself. (More…)

BEIRUT – When she wrote her book We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices From Syria, Wendy Pearlman set herself a difficult target: She wanted “readers who might not otherwise think of picking up a book on Syria” to not only come away with a better understanding of the complex conflict but also care about it. (More…)

Can colonialism collapse into post-colonialism through ironic self-exposure and self-parody?  It is misleading to think we can ridicule colonialism away, even if William Seabrook’s career as a white voyeur among darker peoples certainly makes an excellent case for that position.  (More…)

Everyone thinks they know what bureaucracy is about; paperwork, pointless rules, red tape, computer says no. Despite this seeming familiarity it nonetheless stubbornly resists conceptualisation.  The critique of bureaucracy – an endeavour once undertaken by all shades of the political spectrum – has fallen by the wayside in recent decades. (More…)

Kelly Lytle Hernández’s City of Inmates is both enlightening and troubling.  Aside from famous institutions such as Sing-Sing, prison and jail systems appear as ahistorical institutional structures.  They seem as though they materialized in response to a need to house criminals. Yet all prisons and jails have histories. They are often responses to the criminalization of human categories rather than criminal violence. (More…)

Born in 1906, Hannah Arendt was a German-American theorist and seminal scholar of the rise of totalitarianism in twentieth-century Europe. It is little surprise then that, upon Donald Trump’s inauguration as President of the United States last year, her 1951 essay The Origins of Totalitarianism suddenly sold out on Amazon alongside Orwell’s 1984. (More…)

Mimi Pond’s second graphic memoir, The Customer is Always Wrong (Drawn & Quarterly), tells of her early twenties when she was a struggling waitress and beginning cartoonist in the Oakland of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Like her first memoir, Over Easy, it centres on Pond’s workplace, the Imperial Café (a pseudonym for the real-life Royal Café), which provided her with many of the stories she tells. (More…)

At the beginning of his book Capitalist Realism, Mark Fisher reads Alfonso Cuarón’s 2006 film Children of Men as an allegory for our geopolitical predicament. In depicting a world much like our own, except for the fact that children are no longer being born there, it literalizes the experience of living through an era when the future no longer seems meaningfully different from the present. (More…)

The first thing worth noting about Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff’s recently released airing of the Trump Administration’s dirty laundry, is that there is very little in it that was not either generally known or strongly suspected. (More…)

Russians who reside in England are agreeably impressed by the fact that the English political world and English society of today show cordial appreciation of the actual progress of Russia and of her culture in general. They are, moreover, deeply touched by the warm recognition of the efforts of Russia to do her duty by her allies in the present war. (More…)