What the Honest Capitalist Will Say
Give yourself, for starters, a capitalist honest enough to answer your questions and admit that he is driven to increase his fortune indefinitely, without pause and without respite. Ask him why he yields to this irresistible tendency. You will receive the following answers…
February 21, 2020
Reading Arendt Is Not Enough
Trump’s victory was for many people a shock moment. It dramatized how close we have moved toward the return of totalitarianism, so we grabbed books by revered humanist writers from the 1940s and 1950s, telling us how to resist. The writings of George Orwell and Arthur Koestler, but above all, the work of the German-born political philosopher Hannah Arendt gained huge popularity.
May 2, 2019
Peter Fryer & ‘Thinking Black’
In the 1980s, with the exception of a handful of those like Stuart Hall and Paul Gilroy, there were few black intellectuals, to my knowledge, writing about the history of black people in Britain. Into that vacuum walked the white journalist Peter Fryer.
September 27, 2018
My Father and the Kurds
Had my father lived to see his ideas about “social ecology” enacted in Rojava and southeastern Turkey, he would have been profoundly moved to know that his revolutionary spirit and vision for human liberation had been reborn among a generation of the Kurdish people.
June 15, 2018
Grand Old Marxists
A specter is haunting the Republican National Convention—the specter of ideology. The novelist Ayn Rand (1905–1982) and the economist Friedrich von Hayek (1899–1992) are the house deities of many American libertarians, much of the Tea Party, and Paul Ryan in particular. The irony of today is that these two thinkers relied on some of the same underlying assumptions as the Marxism they were trying to defeat. The paradoxical result is a Republican Party ticket that embraces outdated ideology, taking some of the worst from the twentieth century and presenting it as a plan for the twenty-first.
August 28, 2012
Poetry and Utopia
I was standing, one lovely May afternoon, on the corner of 5th Avenue and 42nd Street in New York City, waiting for a friend who was late. I had spent the previous hour in a bookstore in the neighborhood that was famous for stocking up on the latest literary magazines and poetry books, turning the pages and reading a poem here and there. Waiting at the busy intersection, it suddenly occurred to me that if the old Greek poetess, Sappho, could see what I’m seeing now, she would not only understand nothing, but she would be terrified out of her wits.
June 7, 2012
Tony Judt's Journey
Tony Judt was, in effect, two historians: first, a Marxist from a working-class English-Jewish background educated at Cambridge and at the École Normale in Paris who wrote four excellent books on the French left, and then a grand New York scholar who wrote an unimaginably good history of postwar Europe as well as strikingly clear studies of leading European intellectuals, such as Albert Camus and Leszek Kołakowski.
August 31, 2010