Reads
The Schlub Problem

The Schlub Problem

It’s a shame Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday expressed her ideas so inelegantly, because the relationship between entertainment and a culture of misogyny bear scrutiny. After all, the ghastly Isla Vista shootings have generated several public discussions about gun violence and regulation, mental illness, and in particular misogyny. More»

The Fourth Horseman

The Fourth Horseman

In a review of Emmanuel Faye’s 2004 book Heidegger: The Introduction of Nazism into Philosophy, Harvard historian Peter Gordon wrote of the tendency of philosophy to trouble the public sphere “only when some outrage calls the very legitimacy of philosophy into question.” This specter has once again arisen with the publication of notebooks kept by the Martin Heidegger (the so-called Schwarze Hefte) between 1931 and 1938. 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»

The Ukraine Reader

The Ukraine Reader

Perceptions of the crisis in Ukraine have been driven by the media. The Western press has taken a guardedly positive line toward the protestors in Maidan Square, constructing the flirtations of the Ukrainian opposition with NATO and the EU as simple struggles for freedom and the rule of law, mostly ignoring the neo-fascist presence in the movement. More»

The Not-So-Great War

The Not-So-Great War

In May 1903, a group of Serbian army officers fired their way into the royal palace in Belgrade. King Alexander, the scion of the Obrenović dynasty, was discovered with his wife Draga, hiding in a closet. Tricked into revealing themselves, they were hacked to death, and their partially eviscerated bodies were flung out a window. The plotters then paused for a celebratory cigarette. More»

Britain's Troubled Media

Britain’s Troubled Media

Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations are the biggest journalistic event in the past decade, and certainly the most important US leak since the Pentagon Papers. They have exposed practices that have been judged to be government privacy boards to be illegal, and by courts as an affront to the Constitution. And they have demonstrated that large amounts of state surveillance in the post 9/11 era have nothing to do with terrorism. More»

Making Sense of Marx

Making Sense of Marx

Biographical writing can seem futile. This is true in a trivial sense, because on the surface, history is always shaped by the present. One of the best measures of a historian is their ability to recognize this influence, and to correct for it. Biographies are particularly subject to this limitation. Especially those of controversial political figures. More»

Inside Merkel's Greece

Inside Merkel’s Greece

Greece has taken on the characteristics of a matinee horror show. Like other states on Europe’s periphery, the postwar success story been transformed into a mad laboratory, where technocrats experiment with the importation of disaster capitalism into the EU. You’d be forgiven for thinking it was Germany in the early 1930s, or Chile in the 1970s. More»

Open City

Open City

In the fall of 1992, I moved to New York to attend the New School for Social Research. Separated from my social scene in Portland, Oregon and with little money, I spent my first weeks in Manhattan feeling very much out of sorts. It was then that I reconnected with an old friend from my undergraduate days. Donny was going to Cornell Medical School uptown. He’d grown up in and around the city, and he made it his business to help me acclimate. More»

My Year in Consumption

My Year in Consumption

I was spoiled. For fifteen years, there wasn’t a day when a new book or CD didn’t arrive in the mail. Sent for review, at the magazines I edited, it was a very different era. Publishers could far more easily dispense with physical copy, for PR purposes, than they can today. I owe half of my library to this largesse. More»

Eating Palestine

Eating Palestine

The culture of food is directly connected to the politics of scarcity. This is especially true when it comes to environments that have been bombarded by war. The Gaza Strip is a perfect example. Even before Israel conquered the area, its population had always been marginalized. In keeping, every low point in Gaza’s history has been eclipsed with time. Today, it’s one of the poorest, most densely populated areas in the world. More»

In Praise of Failure

In Praise of Failure

Tony Judt, who died in 2010 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, had the quality of an epigone. This is not the case because he was a historian of a stripe very much in retreat from the onslaught of post-structuralist trends since the 1970s. He was also a representative of a humanistic strain of liberalism which had, by the time of his death, long since begun to seem atavistic. More»