Books
America, Collected

America, Collected

Mega media-scholar Robert McChesney has been accused, with some justice, of being an over-producer. His histories of American media going back to the founding of the Republic pretty much set the tone for that area of scholarship in Communications, sending him around the country and sometimes around the planet with severe critiques and dire warnings. More»

Diminishing Humanity

Diminishing Humanity

At a symposium sponsored by NASA in 1993, science fiction writer Vernor Vinge postulated that within thirty years, we would create a sentient artificial entity with superhuman intelligence. “Shortly after, the human era will be ended,” he concluded. This event, which he termed “the singularity” would change the balance of power on this planet, as humans would not be the smartest beings in the world. More»

Art Against Communism

Art Against Communism

The most important trend in recent historiography of the Cold War has been an expansion in interest in subjects outside tthe politico-military, and the economic. Twenty years ago, when Heide Fehrenbach published Cinema in Democratizing Germany, the perception that cultural issues were secondary was still widespread among scholars (particularly historians) of the postwar era. More»

Putting Life Back in Balance

Putting Life Back in Balance

Sometimes, you can’t tell how much a book has moved you until many years after you first encounter it. This past October, I took a trip Flagstaff, a town I’d somehow managed not to visit in fourteen years of living in Arizona. After a mostly sleepless night of coughing, I forced myself to drive north towards the Grand Canyon. That’s when I remembered Tony Hillerman. More»

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»

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»

Death From Above

Death From Above

The drone war, as it has been fought to this point, has featured an effective interweaving of military and ideological considerations. Grégoire Chamayou’s A Theory of the Drone represents  the most comprehensive attempt to untangle the most politically complex aspects of drone use, and to explore its and psychological implications. More»

Philosophy as Evil

Philosophy as Evil

Last May, I posted piece on the publication of the Schwarze Hefte, the heretofore unpublished notebooks kept by the prominent German philosopher Martin Heidegger. This event was getting a lot of press at the time, much more so than the emergence of unpublished works by a thinker few people have read and even fewer understand would usually do. More»

This is not Uganda

This is not Uganda

More than just a graphic novel, This is Not Uganda is like peeking over the shoulder of the artist, the Berlin-based Tine Fetz, and seeing everything she sees. The book, released late last year by German publisher Ja Ja Verlag, is a chronicle of the time that Fetz spent studying and traveling in Israel. More»

Post-Capitalist Politics

Post-Capitalist Politics

At a fundamental level, there is something very attractive about the writings of Murray Bookchin. The work of this often prickly autodidact, who died in 2006, evinces an enduring to commitment to something that might (in the best sense of the word) be termed “humanism.” More»

Never Mind the Women

Never Mind the Women

Between 1976 and 1979, the British punk scene produced some very good albums (Never Mind the Bollocks; London Calling; Damned, Damned, Damned) and a couple of real brilliancies (The Pop Group’s Y, Gang of Four’s Entertainment.) But for sheer transgression, there is nothing to top Cut, the first album by The Slits. More»

The French Holocaust

The French Holocaust

“No European country has been more interested than France in the nature of memory and history, how it is understood, recorded, perceived, written and transmitted.” So writes Caroline Morehead in her new book, Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France, and with some justice. More»