• print • Sept/Oct/Nov 2021

    Law and Border

    “THERE ARE POLICY CHOICES to be made about who should be an immigrant, and that includes removing folks who don’t qualify under the law,” said Cecilia Muñoz, a member of President Joe Biden’s transition team, and previously the face of President Barack Obama’s harsh immigration-enforcement policies, in a recent interview. She added, “That’s, I think, just the reality of being a nation.”

    Muñoz’s comment is true in the same way “all bachelors are unmarried men” is true—analytically, by virtue of the meaning of its constituent terms. When “a nation” is constituted as the nation-state, in the

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  • review • March 23, 2021

    Gabriel Winant’s chronicle of working-class Pittsburgh

    The past few years have seen the resurgence of the working class as a topic of interest, with pundits passing judgements and Ivy League–educated politicians posturing for proletarian clout, though all too often without any input from the workers themselves.

    If working-class people are present, they often get the Hillbilly Elegy–treatment. Real people are reduced to caricatures or abstractions; “the workers” become a catchall scapegoat for backwardness, racism, unwillingness to change, and, almost always, as a proxy for whiteness. Trump’s rise is blamed on the working class, an act of misrecognition

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  • print • Mar/Apr/May 2021

    Prime Mover

    GET BIG FAST was an early Amazon motto. The slogan sounds like a fratty refrain tossed around at the gym. Jeff Bezos had it printed on T-shirts. More than twenty-five years after leaving his position as a Wall Street hedge-fund executive to found Amazon, Bezos’s size anxiety is long gone. (At least as it pertains to his company; the CEO’s Washington, DC, house has eleven bedrooms and twenty-five bathrooms, a bedroom-to-bathroom ratio that raises both architectural and scatological questions.) Bezos is now worth $180 billion. Amazon, were it a country, would have a larger GDP than Australia.

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  • print • Mar/Apr/May 2021

    Search and Destroy

    I REGRET TO INFORM THE READER that Andreas Malm’s new book, How to Blow Up a Pipeline, does not in fact contain instructions on how to blow up a pipeline. The title is aspirational: how to get enough people to realize that (a) drastic measures are now required to prevent or ameliorate the worst effects of global warming, (b) the usual protests and appeals to institutional authority are getting nowhere, and therefore (c) direct action against the instruments and agents of climate disaster is justified.

    I’m not going to pretend to be impartial. News items pile up in my brain: three-thousand-year-old

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  • excerpt • February 04, 2021

    With Black Marxism, Cedric J. Robinson revealed how racial capitalism creates class difference

    Racial capitalism has been the subject of a robust body of scholarship and has become virtually a field unto itself since the re-publication of Black Marxism. In fact, the term has become so commonplace in Left circles that when the neo-Marxist philosopher Michael Walzer confessed his ignorance of “racial capitalism” in the pages of Dissent, social media lit up, shaming and schooling the professor for being a political and theoretical luddite. Walzer’s response, however, is typical of a number of leading Marxist thinkers who have dismissed as insufficiently anti-capitalist the decade-long

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  • excerpt • January 06, 2021

    How Black activists organized within the women’s suffrage movement

    New York women won the vote just as the Nineteenth Amendment campaign was gaining momentum in Washington. To push their cause over the top, the state’s suffragists met in Saratoga, New York, in fall 1917. With a reputation for spring waters that promoted health, the upstate village had been a fabled meeting place since the mid-nineteenth century, one popular with generations of New York’s political leaders. In 1917, the New York City Women’s Suffrage Party delegates might have taken time to drink in the salutary effects of the spas and they drew breath from the same air breathed by the state’s

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  • print • Dec/Jan/Feb 2021

    Dull Access

    THE MARKETING COPY describing True Crimes and Misdemeanors as “a real-life legal thriller” sets up unfair expectations for a book rehashing recent news. The outcome is already known: Trump is still president, despite two investigations examining shady dealings with Russia and Ukraine. Early in his presidency, with liberal media at a fever pitch comparing him to twentieth century European dictators such as Mussolini and Hitler, it seemed that liberals really believed the headwinds of collective outrage would topple Trump before the end of his first term. As of this writing, two weeks before the

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  • print • Dec/Jan/Feb 2021

    A Heart Is Not a Nation

    I REMEMBER BETTER THAN MOST where I was when I knew Donald Trump would win. Not just that he would win but that “the office” would not subdue him, that he was coming because he was the crest of a wave, a force made unstoppable by its mostly unseen mass. It was October 9, 2016, I was forty-four, and I was having a heart attack. On the TV above my hospital bed, at his second debate with Hillary Clinton, Trump loomed over Clinton’s shoulder. My nurse, a Trump supporter, gave me a drip of nitroglycerin. It was a slow-moving heart attack. It’d gathered strength across days, at first fooling the ER

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  • print • Dec/Jan/Feb 2021

    American History XYZ

    YOU MAY NOT HAVE BEEN thinking about American history on September 17, not in the longitudinal sense. Maybe you were taking a limited view of the historical arc, something like, “What the fuck?” That morning, as he often does, Trump connected the immediate and the long-view senses of history by announcing the “1776 Commission,” a body conjured from thin air and allegedly dedicated to the case of “patriotic education.” The proximate insult that Trump and his speechwriters were responding to was the New York Times’s 1619 Project, a collection of essays and study resources with a longer view that

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  • print • Dec/Jan/Feb 2021

    Oh, Mercy

    SEVEN YEARS AGO, Aaron Coleman, who is currently twenty and a candidate for the Kansas state legislature, attempted to extort nude photos from a thirteen-year-old. When she refused, he circulated another nude photo of her in retaliation. Around the same time, he started bullying another girl, and persisted until she attempted suicide. Last December, months before he came to national attention, he hit and threatened a third woman, then his girlfriend, choking and slapping her in a hot tub after she joked about breaking up with him. After two of the women made their stories public, Coleman found

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  • print • Dec/Jan/Feb 2021

    Fail Better

    IN HIS AUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY, Steve Jobs explains how he chose the name Apple. In 1975, Jobs was working weekends pruning Gravenstein apple trees at an orchard near Salem, Oregon. A Swiss millionaire owned the land, but he had entrusted the cider operations to his nephew, a Hare Krishna hippie who had recently served two years in Virginia for possessing 24,000 tablets of LSD. Jobs liked the hippie, the orchard, and the fruit. He liked the way the word “apple” sounded—fun and unintimidating. “Apple took the edge off the word ‘computer,’” Jobs told his biographer, Walter Isaacson: it balanced

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  • print • Dec/Jan/Feb 2021

    The Living Is Easy

    WHEN THE PANDEMIC FIRST HIT, “social distancing” was exactly what I wanted: I was exhausted and in a deep brain fog and all I could imagine was lying in bed for weeks reading trashy novels and watching bad TV. But with death all around, I felt the need to find something to do, so back to journalism with me, talking to essential workers and the laid-off and the homeless moving into vacant homes. As the crisis worsened, I found myself bargaining: I won’t miss touch if I can just look someone I love in the eyes; I don’t need restaurants open if I can just see friends. If my friends stay safe I

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