Books
Origins of American Globalisation

Origins of American Globalisation

Spreading the American Dream is about the folklore of capitalism on a global stage. Or as an article in The National Interest once pithily described the mentality: “the multilingual, globe-trotting, advanced-degree holding, CNN-watching, Hilton Hotel-staying, international organization-employed cadres who go from trouble spot to trouble spot imposing the neoliberal state- and nation-building agenda on recalcitrant and often ungrateful natives.” More»

Summer Reading for Imperialists

Summer Reading for Imperialists

Daniel Silva’s series of thriller novels featuring Gabriel Allon, an Israeli spy, are a phenomenon among bestsellers. Millions of English-language copies from this have been sold in the sixteen years this series has been in print, and translations are available in dozens of languages. A new novel appears near-annually, and in a short time, hits the top of the New York Times bestseller lists. More»

Punk is History

Punk is History

People warned me about punk, two in particular. The first was Judith, who was two years older than me and whose father taught computer science at the liberal arts college in eastern Washington state where my father was the dean of the faculty. More»

Bin Laden Was Here

Bin Laden Was Here

Seymour Hersh occupies a peculiar place in the American media landscape. As the guy who broke the story of the massacre at My Lai in 1969, and having been instrumental in exposing the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in 2004, Hersh is second only to Woodward and Bernstein in the firmament of investigative journalism. More»

The Envy of Privilege

The Envy of Privilege

One cannot help but wonder what author Andrew Solomon would have achieved had he been born into different circumstances. He sits across from me on a French-style couch in his private library, arms extended, seemingly afloat on a swell of cushions. More»

Stopping Hillary

Stopping Hillary

After Doug Henwood’s My Turn, you’ll be well equipped to go up against liberals desperately circling the Hillary wagon right now. It’s strength is partly that it doesn’t require you to support a particular candidate. You just have to harbour suspicions about Hillary Clinton’s record. And the prospect of a Clinton dynasty does not inspire much enthusiasm. More»

Daring Less Democracy

Daring Less Democracy

It’s been just over 40 years since the Trilateral Commission issued their landmark report, The Crisis of Democracy: On the Governability of Democracies. Although the commission (which still exists) has become, in practical terms, fodder for the paranoid fantasies of fringe groups like the John Birch Society, in the 1970s, it was not always so. More»

Reich of the Living Dead

Reich of the Living Dead

A former academic colleague used to complain that people who wrote about Heidegger invariably ended up writing like Heidegger. This is not entirely fair to Heidegger scholars (although not entirely unfair either). Peter Trawny’s recently translated Freedom to Fail: Heidegger’s Anarchy affirms the legitimacy of both complaints. This is, in fact, the first of Trawny’s works that I have read in translation and, oddly enough, it is the one that I feel like I understand the least. More»

Liberalism and Its Discontents

Liberalism and Its Discontents

Tzvetan Todorov’s The Inner Enemies of Democracy wants to use the accumulated wisdom of the West to address a modern problem. In this particular case, the problem is that, although democracy has become the  lingua franca of the West, there are dynamics internal to it that have the potential to vitiate the progress that has been made towards more humanistic social orders. More»

Letter to an ISIS Militant, Part II

Letter to an ISIS Militant, Part II

Camus’ writings deal intensely with the problem of death; suicide in Myth of Sisyphus (1943), and the death of others in L’Homme Révolté (1951). For Camus, the issue is that humans have no direct experience of death, but it remains their only certainty, and shapes their existence. More»

Victory Over the Thugs

Victory Over the Thugs

Of all the notable literary events of the past year, perhaps none was so important as the release of the complete works of Primo Levi. The three volumes of this edition make available in one place a wealth of Levi’s novels, his shorter fictional and occasional pieces, as well as his more general autobiographical writings such as The Periodic Table. More»

Anterograde Amnesia

Anterograde Amnesia

Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism constitutes one of the clearest statements of what people for better or worse like to call the ‘postmodern condition’. On Fisher’s account, culture in the late capitalist world exists in a condition of stasis, having lost the impulsion to novelty that Fisher imputes to systemic competition with actually existing socialism. More»