Politics

Anything Else Would Not Be Good Enough

Anything Else Would Not Be Good Enough

The referendum victory in Ireland

At Dublin Castle, several of those politicians took the stage to rapturous cheers. Crowds filled the courtyard of the building to celebrate and observe, as they had at the announcement of the referendum on marriage equality three years previous. Some of the politicians on stage had only had their moments of conversion weeks or months before, and yet were ready to take the applause as if it was they who had given up their time and energy to pound pavements and tell stories of women’s experience for years and decades. “I was warned about this, that it will only be politicians’ names in the history books, and there is only so much room on the stage at Dublin Castle,” Kavanagh said. “It’s something you have to adjust to. As grassroots activists, we know that we won’t get the credit we deserve and we have to just live with that. It’s why it’s all the more important that we take care of each other afterwards.”

The Refusal to Make Things Easy for Anyone

The Refusal to Make Things Easy for Anyone

On Philip Roth, 1933–2018

For an age where more people are porn-literate than literature-literate, the nerdy Roth may prove to be his most transgressive persona in posterity, although there’s another candidate for the role. As all the tributes pour in and multiply in thousands of bytes on our screens, there’s another thing that no one has really mentioned: his political astuteness.

Last Week in Israel

Last Week in Israel

A violent crackdown on protest and dissent

The extreme police violence during protests outside the new US embassy on Monday turned out to be a prelude to the Israeli police’s response to protests on Friday in the mixed city of Haifa. In what can only be described as a police riot, heavily armed border police officers and Special Forces troops charged a peaceful crowd of predominantly Palestinian demonstrators, punching and throttling and kicking chairs at them and throwing them to the ground. By the end of the night, Israeli police had arrested twenty-one people, at least four of whom were hospitalized for serious injuries.

Not the Backward-Glancing Comrade

Not the Backward-Glancing Comrade

On Ece Temelkuran

Temelkuran, a generation removed from Gürbılek, represents something else: not the backward-glancing comrade but the daughter of one, born in 1973, raised in Izmir by a social-democrat father and Maoist mother. It’d be hard to think of a more consummate figure of what a true Turkish “new left” would look like: democratic socialist, feminist, with books on the legacies of the Armenian genocide, on the Arab Spring, on the Latin American pink tide (untranslated), chapters and articles on Kurdish politics, nearly three million Twitter followers and a vast, sui generis facility with the media. A New Left Review essay one day—a TED talk the next.

Bringing the War Home

Bringing the War Home

Gun violence and American foreign policy

Numbers are not everything. The murder of an ordinary person will do little to register in the public imagination beyond a day or two of news coverage, while the murder of a head of state will provoke an international crisis. The symbolic resonance of a violent act matters, and a society that guns down children in school is one in which something has gone very wrong. But as with terrorist attacks, the symbolism of school shootings mutates into spectacle, and if symbolism resonates like a plucked guitar string, the spectacle is the sound of that string fed into an amplifier and then trapped in a feedback loop, increasing in volume and intensity until the only possible response is panic and anger.

Zombie Liberalism

Zombie Liberalism

A plea for liberal nationalism ignores what it has looked like in practice.

Despite the appeal to pragmatism, Mounk’s political vision is utopian, his ideal polity a kind of liberal sublime. In a distant place far outside of history, virtuous trustees of public reason skillfully mobilize the best of nationalism while fending off its “dangerous excesses.” Entranced, Mounk sees in nationalism a muscular tool for legitimizing the political-economic order: “Nationalism is like a half-wild beast. As long as it remains under our control, it can be of tremendous use.” Who is the “beast,” and who is the “us” into which Mounk places the reader?

A New Struggle Coming

A New Struggle Coming

On the teachers’ strike in West Virginia

The teachers’ movement is a reclamation and redirection of a militant working-class identity. They look back to the miners, look around at the uncompensated wreckage of the land, and look forward to the world we are all entering, where the labor is in social reproduction: teaching, caregiving, the upholding of the human world.

Sordid, Predictable, Doomed

Sordid, Predictable, Doomed

Italian election preview

Today’s demented circus, a reality show whose rivals compete for the title of most insensate and most nihilistic, is the result of a crisis more than twenty-five years in the making. At the start of the 1990s, when Italy was preparing to enter the eurozone, the downturn in productivity was already evident, the backwardness of the economic system as undeniable as the total corruption of our political class. The crisis of 2008 and the semi-recent collapse of Europe’s core were only the icing on a rotten cake.

Gun Violence and the War on Terror

Gun Violence and the War on Terror

Discussions of terrorism and mass shootings lean heavily on a sense of danger that bears little resemblance to the threats that actually face us.

This time around, magical forces (that is, children) were supposed to save us from the gun control debate. There was something unsettling or self-serving about the excess of praise adults heaped on the Stoneman Douglas students who boarded charter buses bound for the Tallahassee statehouse just a few days after watching their classmates die. “This shooting is different from the other ones,” a 16-year-old boy told a Times reporter. “I just have a gut feeling—something is going to change.” It’s understandable that he should feel this way; insofar as no previous school shooting had happened in his school, to his friends and teachers, this time was different. But his representatives quickly demonstrated that it was not different enough. Florida’s legislature voted down a motion to debate an assault weapons ban.

The Party Had Been Perfectly Correct on Every Issue

The Party Had Been Perfectly Correct on Every Issue

The end of the Zuma years

The global scandal of Donald Trump, like Zuma highly promiscuous and a figure of the grotesque and the laughable, has yielded much useful reflection on democracy, including the fact that the problem of love in politics is more complicated than it had seemed. The unattractiveness of Zuma and Trump is inscribed in everything from their ungainly physical presence to their ugly habits of casual lying and worse. Zuma’s rise was hindered neither by his having driven a wife to suicide nor by the charge of having raped the daughter of one of his close friends. The ruling party’s Women’s League demonstrated outside his friend’s daughter’s rape trial under a singular banner—“Burn the Bitch”—and, by some stroke of fortune, the victim’s house was indeed burnt down and she was forced into exile: one of the many occasions on which sections of the public have made clear their identification with the abuser. He bankrupted the country while reducing his party to a criminal enterprise. Yet he had no apparent charisma on Robben Island where, during the ten years of his imprisonment, he received not a single visitor.