American Politics

The People, It Depends

The People, It Depends

What’s the matter with left-populism?

The New Deal is the ultimate horizon of Frank’s political imagination. In the 1930s, Frank argues, the Great Depression finally forced the American ruling class to rethink its unabashed elitism, leading inevitably to the rediscovery of the virtues of the populist tradition. The New Deal was at its heart, then, a cultural and rhetorical phenomenon with downstream economic consequences. He devotes orders of magnitude more attention and detail to poets like Carl Sandburg (whose epic The People, Yes gives the book its title), filmmakers like Orson Welles, and the oratory of FDR at his most fire-breathing than to the substantive economic policy of the President and his postwar successors. Frank even quotes, approvingly, labor secretary Frances Perkins’ remark that the New Deal was “basically an attitude.”

After Neoliberalism

At the heart of the new age are novel configurations of fear, certainty, and power

The big reveal: Google and Facebook are marketing companies. That is how they make money. What is more extraordinary is how much the two companies have thus far dominated their markets. Zuboff reports that between 2012 and 2016 Google and Facebook together accounted for 90 percent of the growth in global advertising expenditures. But there is nothing much “unprecedented” about advertising.

BLM in the Billionaire Wilderness

BLM in the Billionaire Wilderness

A channel for movement at the grindingly slow pace of government

Our new group joined around a hundred people who stood on the grass and the sidewalk in front of the courthouse. A counter-protest formed on the sidewalk across the street—they numbered around ten, all men, all white, some with assault rifles strapped across their chests. Together they held one sign, a large piece of cardboard with Sharpie letters that read ALL LIVES MATTER FCK SOROS AND ANTEFA [sic]. It was mostly silent—a modern-day Western standoff, with two opposing factions staring each other down and a man in a MAGA hat on horseback circling both groups.

The Most Exciting Time in the History of the World to Be Alive

The Most Exciting Time in the History of the World to Be Alive

If Americans clamor for a return to boring and courteous politics, the 1996 Gore–Kemp debate offers a blueprint

They were living in an era that prized blithe superficiality. For the second straight month, the Billboard Hot 100 was dominated by a song about a woman named Macarena who cheats on her boyfriend after he’s conscripted; delegates at that summer’s DNC had famously danced to it. The reigning box-office champ was The First Wives Club, in which three well-heeled divorcées vie for the fortunes of their adulterous ex-husbands. “It’s the ’90s,” says Goldie Hawn’s character, “plastic surgery is like good grooming!” (Characters in the ’90s loved to talk about how they were living in the ’90s, the ultimate decade.)

Argument Without Argument

Argument Without Argument

Robert M. Gates and America’s forever foreign policy

The more time one spends in Gates’s head, the more one is struck by the increasingly nihilistic quality of the American exceptionalist creed. Gates and his ilk remain committed to the idea that when there are problems in the world, the United States must “do something.” What is that something? It usually doesn’t matter much.

Dispatch from the California Stripper Strike

Dispatch from the California Stripper Strike

The rumblings of revolutions begin small

In all radical labor movements, history is made when ordinary workers disrupt the system that seeks to exploit and silence them. Because of social stigma, wage theft, and sexual assault, the strip club has always been a difficult and dangerous work environment. Today, the stakes have reached a desperate tipping point, even though, technically, thanks to a recent court ruling, we have more legal rights than ever: we have the right to discuss the job while on the job, the right to organize and gather, and the right to unionize, which will give us a voice in the workplace—instead of only a body to be gazed at.

From the Lockdown Protests to the Capitol

From the Lockdown Protests to the Capitol

January 6 and the enduring lessons of Black Lives Matter

We cannot police our way out of authoritarianism. An increasingly authoritarian police state in the hands of the “right” bourgeois elites will not suppress the far right; it will instead train a new generation of far-right foot soldiers and target, disorganize, and destroy fascism’s most dogged opponents among the far left.