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Flagging the Divide

Flagging the Divide

Monday was Memorial Day in the United States a day to reflect on those who have died, willingly or not, for their country but also a day to reflect on what the commemoration of their deaths means politically. Established in the aftermath of a brutal civil war, it implicitly served to bring a divided nation closer together. Perhaps that’s why it has felt more important in recent years. More»

Flex Your Head

Flex Your Head

Immigrant equals female. So one might be inclined to think by the significance accorded the hijab by populists. Muslim headscarves are not so much a security threat, as they are a gender-designator for outsiders. It’s pretty high concept for conservatives, for sure, but best read psychoanalytically. This is about fear. Not theory. More»

Fighting the Euroskeptics

Fighting the Euroskeptics

The EU elections will be shadowed by paradox. Almost everyone agrees that the continent’s establishment parties will lose ground to insurgent ‘Euroskeptics’ on both the Right and Left, making it harder to conduct business as usual in Strasbourg and Brussels. If this happens, millions of people will have voted to devalue future exercises in supranational polling. More»

Remixing Brussels

Remixing Brussels

Brussels without the EU. It’s a hell of a thought, particularly for the tens of thousands drawn to the city, to work for European political institutions and business. So omnipresent are Union offices and buildings that, for most visitors to the Belgian capital, they are the city. Never mind the medieval architecture, the longstanding immigrant community, and the beer and fries. More»

Fattening the Beast

Fattening the Beast

The best political slogans aren’t those you chant ritualistically, like a machine, but the ones that stop you in your tracks for a minute and make you think. Take this sticker from Brussels: “Democracy is always capitalism getting fat.” What makes this formulation so provocative is the black-or-white worldview that it expounds. More»

The Paper State

The Paper State

Fucked Up and Photocopied. It was an appropriate title for a book documenting the first generation of American punk flyers. Published in 2000, just as print ‘zines were giving way to online gig listings and, eventually, blogs, the coffee-table sized collection could not have been more timely. It was as though it were a concluding chapter to an era, which had not fully given way to something else yet – the Internet. More»

Is Green the New Brown?

Is Green the New Brown?

I do a lot of driving, most of it highly tedious. Two miles to the grocery store. Six miles to the mall. Twelve miles to work. The sort where every minute seems to count because the whole trip is so wearisome. In that context, it doesn’t take much to piss me off. I start stereotyping. Big pick-up trucks are driven by reckless assholes; European sedans by condescending elitists. More»

Urban Cleansing

Urban Cleansing

‘Gentrification’ is a relatively new word to the left. Increasingly invoked to describe the transformation of inner city neighborhoods in Europe and the United States by wealth, the term has become especially pejorative of late, given the persistence of the economic crisis. How could cities, once abandoned by the affluent for the suburbs, all of the sudden be booming again? More»

Birth of a Prison

Birth of a Prison

You don’t have to have an eye for street art, to notice. Wherever you turn, in Belgium’s capital, there are stickers, and in the poorer neighborhoods, posters, denouncing the construction of a new prison. Located in Haren, in north Brussels, the prison-to-be is the stuff of post-modern fantasy. More»

Waiting for the Anarchists

Waiting for the Anarchists

Whenever foreign leftists think about Italy, one of the first things that comes to mind are violent demonstrations, in big cities, like Rome, and Milan. Rarely do they imagine politics taking place outside of the major tourist hubs. It’s not surprising. One plays host to the federal government. The other, the business sector. More»

How Not to Defend Spoilers

How Not to Defend Spoilers

A seemingly endless pattern has developed. Somebody on my Facebook feed gives away a development from a television program, and another person complains. Then, the discussion starts about spoilers. It’s always the same arguments that prevent any meaningful exploration from taking place. More»

Facing Multicultural Europe

Facing Multicultural Europe

When you see them all lined up in a row, staring out at you with faces of cheer and goodwill, the pressure to identify with them is strong. To identify with them as Europeans. To identify with Europe. And that’s surely the point behind this ad campaign, because the bureaucrats in Brussels and Strasbourg who signed off on it need to cultivate a sense of continental belonging. More»