Politics

You're the Real Job Creator

You're the Real Job Creator

An interview with Stephanie Kelton

It is absolutely true that states, municipalities, and local governments depend on tax revenue in order to fund themselves. It is absolutely untrue that the federal government of the United States depends on tax revenue to fund itself. The United States government is the issuer of our currency—the US dollar. It has to spend dollars before the rest of us can get any. Households, local governments, private businesses, state governments—they are all users of the dollar. They have to get dollars in order to spend them. That’s the big difference.

Houses Are Built on Top of Mountains

Houses Are Built on Top of Mountains

Hurricane Ophelia diary

Coping and suffering is what Ireland has decided to throw its chips on. Years of corruption in our planning system, with politicians receiving payments to approve ill-thought through housing projects, have led to housing developments on flood plains, at the mercy of the weather each winter. Houses are built on the top of mountains, or in remote fields, draining resources, encouraging the use of the private car, and wrenching apart Ireland’s small towns and villages.

The Recovery

The Recovery

Disaster capitalism in Mexico City

The collectives transmitting on the radio out of Café Zapata have made it their goal to speak through the misinformation, malpractice and cover-ups that have proliferated in the chaos after the earthquake. They call themselves the Brigadas Autónomas. “Let’s say it clearly,” they wrote in a press release on September 26, “solutions will not come from the State and from capital; on the contrary, they are responsible for a natural phenomenon turning into a tragedy.” In a way, there can be something equitable, at least initially, about a natural disaster: rubble falls on rich and poor alike. This time, as in 1985, buildings in the wealthy Roma and Condesa neighborhoods suffered some of the greatest damage in the city. But reconstruction comes at a price, and after the earth stops shaking, the vulnerable find themselves even more so.

Austerity Natural Disaster

Austerity Natural Disaster

Why we should push for debt forgiveness for Puerto Rico

Over the last twenty years, international stakeholders have come together in an impressive show of political consensus to provide debt forgiveness to poverty stricken countries through the introduction of programs like the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative and the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative. Eligible countries, often affected by war, famine, or natural disasters, have been able to get complete write-offs of their external debt, as well as access to development loans at sustainable rates of interest. Most crucially, these countries have seen their gross domestic product rise after decisive debt relief. Puerto Ricans should get a similar deal.

Obscurity of Purpose, Immediacy of Experience

Obscurity of Purpose, Immediacy of Experience

On documenta 14

Obscurity of purpose; immediacy of experience; the foregrounding of a nameless parallel space, shorn of concrete social orientation: these qualities enveloped huge swathes of the exhibition. In a paradoxical turn, the greater the formal emphasis on participation, egalitarian engagement, and the banishment of hierarchy, the less political commitment, or the articulation of a clearly defined viewpoint, appeared possible. It’s a turn that has been noted before, most magisterially by Claire Bishop in Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship (2012). One foregrounds a “symmetrical situation of the encounter of equals,” only to wind up with incoherence and a teleology of open-endedness. Social relations were skated over, as projects like Social Dissonance melded more or less anonymous participants into spontaneous collectives. Artists tacked on political motives as loose premises or ex post facto revelations, unintegrated into any aesthetic whole.

A Recognition That We're All Getting Screwed

A Recognition That We're All Getting Screwed

Winning the white working class for criminal justice reform

To win the election, Krasner needed a “ground game,” and he needed to win white working class votes—including the pro-police constituency that would vote for anyone but him. This is what took me to the doors in Port Richmond, canvassing with an organization called Reclaim Philadelphia. Like the rest of Philly, this ward, the 25th, predominantly votes Democrat, and has for generations. But the vote has been shading from blue to violet. Even though Clinton won this ward (in both the primary and the general election), 28 percent voted for Trump; the citywide average was 15 percent.

Not at That Price

Not at That Price

On the future of DACA

The accomplished young people who crowd our sympathies in the political theater are Americans, and we deserve legal recognition. In lieu of comprehensive legislation, DACA is our best recourse. But we did not come from nothing, Athenas born in full armor. We were raised by men and women who spilled sweat and sometimes blood for us, and I defy you to find a Dreamer who does not owe to their elders their lives and the work ethic you so admire. To use us as collateral against them is psychological torture, cruel and unusual, and it will destroy our communities.

Don't You Hear Her?

Don't You Hear Her?

The enduring Korean War

When “fire and fury” were brought to Korea, they were accompanied by the threat of nuclear weapons. At a press conference on November 30, 1950, President Truman proposed the use of the atomic bomb in Korea to protect a “just and peaceful world order.” On December 9, undone by the unforeseen Chinese offensive, General MacArthur requested the use of twenty-six atomic bombs to counter the attack. On Christmas Eve, MacArthur upped the request to thirty-eight, and in later interviews, would talk about using anywhere from thirty to fifty nuclear warheads.

Fairouz in Exile

Fairouz in Exile

How hellish could it be after the horrors of Syria? Until Ahmad got to Germany, he could never fathom the warnings from these lucky Syrians in Europe.

We began to speak regularly over Skype, about Syria, about Germany. It was October 2015, and refugees were rarely away from the headlines: overloaded boats capsizing in the Mediterranean, vast columns of people walking down Greek highways. In the right-wing tabloids, there were tales of mass invasion and terrorist infiltration. In the liberal media, stories of individual quests: grueling journeys from horror toward safety. In most of them, the curtain fell on the moment of arrival, a safe haven and the tentative hope of a fresh start. I wanted to understand what life was like after the journey’s end.

Sub-Sub-Underground-Anti-Connoisseurship

Sub-Sub-Underground-Anti-Connoisseurship

Adrift with Allan Sekula

When Sekula died of cancer in August 2013 at age sixty-two, he left behind a remarkable legacy as a photographer, filmmaker, art historian, activist, and educator, though only a fairly small—albeit distinguished—tribe of artists and academics has taken stock of it. Much of his work is united by a consistent interest: wherever capitalism sought to hawk the fantasy of an immaterial economy, or to hide its stink in refrigerated shipping freight, Sekula made it his artistic practice to visualize and to describe its mechanisms of concealment.

Irregular Order

Irregular Order

Why Congress can’t work

The repeal bill still sits on the calendar, but the Republican Party still has no idea what to do about healthcare in any serious way. Their majority is small enough that the procedures in Congress gummed up the works, at least so far. But that may not last forever. Its elites want tax cuts. They accept a mass base that wants ethnonationalism. That fateful embrace is the central fact in contemporary American politics. The consequences go beyond legislative output in Congress to endanger the system itself. Far more than the first branch of government is tied up in the fate of the Republican Party.

The Way It Hemmed You In

The Way It Hemmed You In

Soldiers, trigger-fingers, and nerves in Palestine

The violence had been minor, in the grand scheme of things, though unprovoked. Yet the figure of the masked man, prowling round the car, seemed to stand in for a much greater violence. The texture of it is hard to capture, but it suffuses Palestinians’ experiences of the occupation. It is the violence of that moment in which your life is not your own, in which a car full of young people on the way home from a night out, flushed with all the pleasure of youth, is transformed into a threat, and they haven’t even realized.

A Combination of Historical Ignorance and Disastrous Blundering

A Combination of Historical Ignorance and Disastrous Blundering

The US has no prospects for improving the stability of Afghan politics through military force.

The US army, through a combination of historical ignorance and disastrous blundering, failed to populate Afghanistan’s post-invasion government with the people who could have given it a chance at real stability. The US pretended as though the Afghan civil war had never occurred, and allowed mujahedeen and warlords who had terrorized the country throughout the 1990s to assume positions of political power, which did not endear Afghans to their new rulers.

New Hope for Britain

New Hope for Britain

The release of Labour’s manifesto marked the moment when the tide turned.

Opinion polls had long shown that left-leaning economic policies were popular in principle. The problem was that there were very few opportunities to vote for them in actual elections. What 2017 shares with 1983 is an unusually deep commitment to these policies, to tangible and plausible things.

Joli Mai

Joli Mai

Macron ascends.

The president has advanced an impressively coherent plan of action: an arctic blast of budgetary austerity (a word Macron prudently shuns, in favor of euphemistic references to “medium-term structural deficit imbalance” and the like) to bring France into compliance with European guidelines; deep cuts to public-sector employment; a reduction in corporate tax rates; and demolition of French labor law—making good on Hollande’s progress in this direction—to be pushed through over the summer by means of executive ordonnances, extending the retirement age and punishing the unemployed who balk at accepting jobs generously offered to them.

Business Is Bad for Business

Business Is Bad for Business

Why aren't American companies spending money?

For forty-years American management has leveraged capital mobility to demand concessions from organized labor. Holders of sovereign debt do the same to demand reductions in public spending and shrinking the public sector. This has severely strained liberals’ willingness to stimulate private investment through taxes and transfers. Meanwhile, corporate boards of directors continue to refuse to invest on any but their own terms. Loosening their grip on investment decisions is the only way through this impasse.

Ecuador After Correa

Ecuador After Correa

Contradictions and dilemmas of left populism in Latin America

Rafael Correa’s tenure has seen an expansion in the political participation of the poor, and the proliferation of new collective rights and democratic institutions. These gains stand alongside crackdowns on social movements, the weakening of left opposition parties, and the centralization of power in the executive. After a decade of left rule, Ecuador is at once more equal and more unequal, more democratic and more centralized, radically transformed and mired in historic patterns of domination that date to the colonial era. These antinomies have their origins in a left populism that made a pact with oil and mining—a story that has echoes across the continent.

Landscape of Treason

Landscape of Treason

On the French elections

As François Hollande’s ignominious presidency draws to a close, his party confronts its gravest crisis since it was refounded in 1971 out of the ruins of the French Section of the Workers’ International (SFIO). Party membership has dropped to as few as 42,000 cardholders, a mere quarter of the 2014 figure. Municipal Socialism has imploded: today, the PS controls less than a third of large- and mid-sized cities, five of seventeen regions, and only twenty-seven of France’s 101 departments.

No Longer a Girl

No Longer a Girl

The hallmarks that would come to characterize the official narrative surrounding the serial murders were already being established.

The discovery was recorded under the charge of “intentional homicide.” Preliminary inquiry 16142/95-1101 indicates the body was found face-down, the head oriented to the north, the right arm bent beneath the abdomen, the left bent alongside the body; the legs were separated. Death by strangulation was confirmed. The hair was held back by a “a brown hairband or hair tie.” The body wore a white T-shirt that read “California. The Golden State” on the front. The shirt was rolled up above the breasts, as was as the white bra. Underneath the body, green jeans were found with blood stains and corpse fauna. To the left, at the top of the thigh, was a shoe without laces and a pair of white underpants. Aside from the shoe, which carried the mark of Tres Hermanos, her clothing showed no labels or visible branding.

The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone

An excess of people and an excess of desert.

Tumbleweeds blow in the wind—saladillos, chemís, voladoras—and the smell of rot arrives in gusts. Residents live in houses made of other people’s trash, discarded scraps of wood, sheets of metal or asbestos, old doors. Here, wire is an indispensable material, used to tie up, to hold together, to separate, to keep in that which would otherwise escape. From Lomas de Poleo, residents can look out upon the well-constructed homes, the green lawns, the technological splendor that surrounds nearby El Paso, Texas.

You're the Real Job Creator

You're the Real Job Creator

An interview with Stephanie Kelton

It is absolutely true that states, municipalities, and local governments depend on tax revenue in order to fund themselves. It is absolutely untrue that the federal government of the United States depends on tax revenue to fund itself. The United States government is the issuer of our currency—the US dollar. It has to spend dollars before the rest of us can get any. Households, local governments, private businesses, state governments—they are all users of the dollar. They have to get dollars in order to spend them. That’s the big difference.

Houses Are Built on Top of Mountains

Houses Are Built on Top of Mountains

Hurricane Ophelia diary

Coping and suffering is what Ireland has decided to throw its chips on. Years of corruption in our planning system, with politicians receiving payments to approve ill-thought through housing projects, have led to housing developments on flood plains, at the mercy of the weather each winter. Houses are built on the top of mountains, or in remote fields, draining resources, encouraging the use of the private car, and wrenching apart Ireland’s small towns and villages.

The Recovery

The Recovery

Disaster capitalism in Mexico City

The collectives transmitting on the radio out of Café Zapata have made it their goal to speak through the misinformation, malpractice and cover-ups that have proliferated in the chaos after the earthquake. They call themselves the Brigadas Autónomas. “Let’s say it clearly,” they wrote in a press release on September 26, “solutions will not come from the State and from capital; on the contrary, they are responsible for a natural phenomenon turning into a tragedy.” In a way, there can be something equitable, at least initially, about a natural disaster: rubble falls on rich and poor alike. This time, as in 1985, buildings in the wealthy Roma and Condesa neighborhoods suffered some of the greatest damage in the city. But reconstruction comes at a price, and after the earth stops shaking, the vulnerable find themselves even more so.

Austerity Natural Disaster

Austerity Natural Disaster

Why we should push for debt forgiveness for Puerto Rico

Over the last twenty years, international stakeholders have come together in an impressive show of political consensus to provide debt forgiveness to poverty stricken countries through the introduction of programs like the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative and the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative. Eligible countries, often affected by war, famine, or natural disasters, have been able to get complete write-offs of their external debt, as well as access to development loans at sustainable rates of interest. Most crucially, these countries have seen their gross domestic product rise after decisive debt relief. Puerto Ricans should get a similar deal.

Obscurity of Purpose, Immediacy of Experience

Obscurity of Purpose, Immediacy of Experience

On documenta 14

Obscurity of purpose; immediacy of experience; the foregrounding of a nameless parallel space, shorn of concrete social orientation: these qualities enveloped huge swathes of the exhibition. In a paradoxical turn, the greater the formal emphasis on participation, egalitarian engagement, and the banishment of hierarchy, the less political commitment, or the articulation of a clearly defined viewpoint, appeared possible. It’s a turn that has been noted before, most magisterially by Claire Bishop in Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship (2012). One foregrounds a “symmetrical situation of the encounter of equals,” only to wind up with incoherence and a teleology of open-endedness. Social relations were skated over, as projects like Social Dissonance melded more or less anonymous participants into spontaneous collectives. Artists tacked on political motives as loose premises or ex post facto revelations, unintegrated into any aesthetic whole.

A Recognition That We're All Getting Screwed

A Recognition That We're All Getting Screwed

Winning the white working class for criminal justice reform

To win the election, Krasner needed a “ground game,” and he needed to win white working class votes—including the pro-police constituency that would vote for anyone but him. This is what took me to the doors in Port Richmond, canvassing with an organization called Reclaim Philadelphia. Like the rest of Philly, this ward, the 25th, predominantly votes Democrat, and has for generations. But the vote has been shading from blue to violet. Even though Clinton won this ward (in both the primary and the general election), 28 percent voted for Trump; the citywide average was 15 percent.

Not at That Price

Not at That Price

On the future of DACA

The accomplished young people who crowd our sympathies in the political theater are Americans, and we deserve legal recognition. In lieu of comprehensive legislation, DACA is our best recourse. But we did not come from nothing, Athenas born in full armor. We were raised by men and women who spilled sweat and sometimes blood for us, and I defy you to find a Dreamer who does not owe to their elders their lives and the work ethic you so admire. To use us as collateral against them is psychological torture, cruel and unusual, and it will destroy our communities.

Don't You Hear Her?

Don't You Hear Her?

The enduring Korean War

When “fire and fury” were brought to Korea, they were accompanied by the threat of nuclear weapons. At a press conference on November 30, 1950, President Truman proposed the use of the atomic bomb in Korea to protect a “just and peaceful world order.” On December 9, undone by the unforeseen Chinese offensive, General MacArthur requested the use of twenty-six atomic bombs to counter the attack. On Christmas Eve, MacArthur upped the request to thirty-eight, and in later interviews, would talk about using anywhere from thirty to fifty nuclear warheads.

Fairouz in Exile

Fairouz in Exile

How hellish could it be after the horrors of Syria? Until Ahmad got to Germany, he could never fathom the warnings from these lucky Syrians in Europe.

We began to speak regularly over Skype, about Syria, about Germany. It was October 2015, and refugees were rarely away from the headlines: overloaded boats capsizing in the Mediterranean, vast columns of people walking down Greek highways. In the right-wing tabloids, there were tales of mass invasion and terrorist infiltration. In the liberal media, stories of individual quests: grueling journeys from horror toward safety. In most of them, the curtain fell on the moment of arrival, a safe haven and the tentative hope of a fresh start. I wanted to understand what life was like after the journey’s end.