• print • Mar/Apr/May 2022

    Hegemony Changes Everything

    LAST YEAR, during a diversity workshop I was required to take for work, the facilitators asked each of us to share the moment we first became aware of class inequality. One of them gave her example to “get us started” and told us about the time she visited a wealthier classmate’s house and saw a bidet in the bathroom. I think we were meant to laugh, but I kept wondering if this “rich person” was maybe just Japanese. Details aside, I was confused. You would have to live in an absolute cultural vacuum not to realize until that point in life that rich people existed. The class divide was the very

    Read more
  • print • Mar/Apr/May 2022

    The Thin Gray Line

    THE JOURNALIST EYAL PRESS HAS LONG BEEN FASCINATED by the vagaries of conscience. Why do some people speak out against misconduct while others stay silent? What price does such bravery exact? What distinguishes a genuine act of moral courage from a self-interested attempt to keep one’s hands clean?

    In Beautiful Souls, a tour de force of reportage from 2012, Press investigated the stories of “nonconformists” who chose to break rank when faced with grave wrongdoing. His subjects included those who helped Jewish refugees escape from Nazi Germany, rescued Croats from their Serbian tormentors, and

    Read more
  • print • Mar/Apr/May 2022

    The Old Jim Crow

    IN 1947, A YOUNG AUDRE LORDE and her family boarded a train from New York to Washington, DC. Along with their luggage, they carried a box of food, including roast chickens, bread, butter, pickles, peppers, carrots, a spice bun, peaches, iced cakes, rock cakes, iced tea, napkins, and a rosewater-dampened washcloth. “I wanted to eat in the dining car,” Lorde writes in her autobiography, Zami (1982), “but my mother reminded me for the umpteenth time that dining car food always cost too much money.” Her mother was hiding the full truth—that Black families could not eat in southbound dining cars—to

    Read more
  • 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

    Read more
  • 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

    Read more
  • 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.

    Read more
  • 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

    Read more
  • 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

    Read more
  • 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

    Read more
  • print • Dec/Jan/Feb 2021

    No Rest for the Wiki

    WHEN I WAS EIGHT OR NINE, my father bought an encyclopedia. To him, maybe because there had been one in his childhood home—a prized possession his parents had bothered to box up and ship when they immigrated in the 1970s—owning an encyclopedia was some sort of milestone, a marker of adulthood. I had trouble grasping the potential utility. Why do you need that, I asked, when you can use Wikipedia? This resulted in a game: we would come up with an arbitrary topic or question (What are the names of Jupiter’s moons? What was Kublai Khan’s love life like?), and see who could find the answer first—me

    Read more
  • 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

    Read more
  • 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

    Read more