The Road to Tbilisi

The Road to Tbilisi

In the 21st century, many countries border each other with roads, and tunnels. But Georgia’s neighbour is Russia, not Switzerland, or France. Russia is not a modern, thinking country, and has no plans to be so. More»

Polis Brutality

Polis Brutality

These are uncertain times in the US. Although the economy has been doing better, most people still seem to feel that it isn’t doing better for them. A state of half-war continues to prevail internationally. And reports of brutality by both local police forces and the CIA have many Americans wondering where their country went. More»

My Top Ten Musical Anxieties of 2014

My Top Ten Musical Anxieties of 2014

It’s that time of year again. I’m being bombarded by Top Ten/Twenty/Fifty/Hundred music lists. I suppose that, as someone with a background in music scholarship and as a fairly seasoned critic, I should view them with wry amusement – sometimes scoffing at other critics’ choices, sometimes sagely agreeing. But that’s never been how I react to them. More»

Latest entries
Humanity is Passé

Humanity is Passé

The Khmer Rouge got off easy. No act of genocide is as misunderstood as the murderous campaign that the Maoist revolutionaries undertook during the second half of the 1970s. Two million Cambodians were murdered in the space of four years. The scale of the killings, and the ruthlessness with which they were conducted, shocked the West, which was still struggling to get its head around the Holocaust, just three decades earlier. More»

The Belgian Nazi

The Belgian Nazi

European intellectuals can be divided between those who embrace history, and those fleeing from it. Marx and his intellectual progeny (up to Louis Althusser) represent the first sort. Men make their own history, as Marx once averred, but they do not do so under conditions of their own choosing. For structuralists and post-structuralists, by contrast, the role of history is, at best, secondary for understanding human life. More»

From Famines to Austerity

From Famines to Austerity

From Brussels to Turin, the flyers read the same. The 2008 economic crisis continues on, slowly but surely transforming the European Union’s weakest member states into Third World countries in all but name, quasi-colonial holdings of their wealthier neighbors, and the banks bailing them out. More»

The AK-47 Era

The AK-47 Era

The AK-47 assault rifle and the state of Israel are almost exactly the same age. Although this is purely a coincidence, it provides a useful opportunity to ponder their relationship. Throughout the Cold War, the AK-47 signified resistance to the hegemony of the free-market West, both during the final decades of traditional colonialism and the confusing post-colonial period that followed it. More»

Warsi's Gaza

Warsi’s Gaza

Operation Protective Edge has claimed its first political casualty. The victim is neither Palestinian, nor Israeli. In a delightfully ironic turn of events, it’s the chief executive of Mandate Palestine’s former colonial parent state, the United Kingdom. Fittingly, David Cameron received the resignation letter of his best-known Muslim minister, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, who quit over his support for Israel’s campaign in Gaza. More»

Their Ideal Israel

Their Ideal Israel

Larry Gordon assured me that it was all a big misunderstanding. Sure, his Long Island newspaper, the 5 Towns Jewish Times, printed an article by his son and staffer, Yochanan, titled “When Genocide Is Permissible.” In considering how Israel can protect itself from rocket fire the author ponders the unthinkable, and while the paper officially apologized, Gordon insisted that the outraged public got it wrong. More»

Nazi Skinhead Economics

Nazi Skinhead Economics

Tom Metzger’s WAR (White Aryan Resistance) was always the archetypal Nazi skinhead group. Their newspaper was filled with crass cartoons of Jews and African-Americans (picture big noses and big lips,) but it was his cable-access TV show, Race and Reason, that was most popular with the neo-Nazi skinheads in the Deep South community I grew up in. More»

Ravaged by War

Ravaged by War

Viktor produced a thick volume from the Yugo’s trunk for me to read while he drove. Inside were maps and graphics of red replacing blue with each subsequent year, reminiscent of the famous map of Palestinian displacement. The landscape itself was not so different either. More»

Blame the Americans

Blame the Americans

The downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 is America’s fault, I am told. Washington egged on the fascists in Kiev, who were trying to shoot down Vladimir Putin’s plane, but somehow got the wrong one.  Everything bad that happens in the world is the United States’ fault. It always is. More»

Bild's Europe

Bild’s Europe

Germany’s biggest tabloid has been roundly criticized for publishing an op-ed decrying Islam as a barrier to integration. Bild editor-in-chief Kai Diekmann has since apologized for the article, penned by Bild am Sonntag vice editor-in-chief Nicolaus Fest. But not before his polemic helped reinvigorate German Islamopobia, and renewing anxiety about diversity in Europe. More»

Gaza and the Holocaust Mentality

Gaza and the Holocaust Mentality

This month, as Germany accepted the mantle of World Cup Champions in football, my home town of Berlin was awash in both World Cup merriment and a sea of contradictions. On the news, pictures of the victorious German team ran alongside headlines about bombings in Gaza, creating an awkward clash of emotion, forcing me to wonder if anyone else was connecting the dots. More»

Europe as Prison

Europe as Prison

Few European capitals are as loathed as Brussels. Whether it be on the right, as the scapegoat for everything wrong with national political policies, or on the left, as the enforcer of American-style neoliberal reforms, the EU’s lead city has definitely seen better days. No one will argue that the economic crisis has damaged the prospects of further European integration. More»