• print • Winter 2024

    Battle Lines

    AGAINST MY BETTER JUDGMENT, I opened Twitter on an evening walk. The first thing I saw was about a twenty-three-year-old Palestinian in Turkey who had died of a heart attack after being unable to reach her family in Gaza. I despaired, of course. There are many ways to kill a people without pulling the trigger. I thought of Etel Adnan’s words: “How not to die of rage?” When protests erupted globally as Israel escalated its bombardment of Gaza, comparisons to the Iraq war were everywhere; and so, as I witness unfathomable violence, and I ache, I remember Adnan’s In the Heart of the Heart of

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  • review • December 11, 2023

    Mirror, Mirror

    For Naomi Klein’s admirers, and I count myself among them, there would never be any risk of confusing her with Naomi Wolf. For nearly a quarter century, Klein’s work has offered clarifying conceptual frameworks to understand the workings of power, guided by an investment in movement politics and an unapologetic anticapitalism. She has the capacity to make socialist principles accessible—meme-able even—without moralizing or sacrificing rigor. She also has a canny knack for capturing the zeitgeist, crystalizing ideas attuned to a given historical moment that serve to galvanize activists as much

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  • print • Fall 2023

    What’s the Use?

    WHEN HOMER SIMPSON wakes up gray in the face one morning, poisoned by a long-spoiled sandwich, it’s not because the ten-foot hoagie was never nourishing. It is Homer’s pathological reluctance to let go that pits him against his own stomach. Cradling the sandwich’s putrefied remains in the sickbed to which it has condemned him, Homer “can’t stay mad” at the snack so large it once seemed it would just keep giving. The emotional life of the political left, according to many of its theorists, can often, in this sense, feel Homeric. From Benjamin, Adorno, and Marx to Wendy Brown, Enzo Traverso, and

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  • print • Summer 2023

    Commit to the Bit

    CRYPTOCURRENCY’S BLEND OF OPAQUE TECHNICAL JARGON, obtuse regulatory schema, and flagrant gambling has, since its inception, made it a magnet for characters you could generously call “colorful.” This was the case in 1992 when a squad of anarcho-libertarian Neal Stephenson fans first started gossiping about the idea on the cryptography listserv “Cypherpunks.” It was likewise true in 2008 when someone (or multiple people) using the moniker Satoshi Nakamoto sicced Bitcoin on the internet. Nakamoto—speculated, at various points, to be a Rhodesian cartel boss, a Palm Beach County detective who died

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  • print • Summer 2023

    Radical Attention

    “WHAT DO RAPE VICTIMS WANT?” At the height of #MeToo, this question was asked a lot. “What’s really important,” we would be told, with the furrowed brow of someone seeking to assure us of their own seriousness, “is what the victims want.” The rape victim became an offstage moral authority, someone whose judgment could be deferred to. But most often, her supposed desires were evoked to lend legitimacy to somebody else’s project. On the far left, prison abolitionists told us that rape victims didn’t really want their attackers to be punished; instead, they wanted forgiveness, rehabilitation, a

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  • review • December 29, 2022

    Sticky Fictions

    WHEN KERRY HOWLEY PUBLISHED HER FIRST BOOK, Thrown, in 2014, bookstores labeled it a “nonfiction novel.” Its journalistic bona fides were somewhat straightforward—Howley embedded with two real lesser-known mixed-martial-arts fighters for three years, documenting the lengths they went to hone and destroy their bodies in real professional combat. The “novel” addendum stemmed from the book’s first-person narrator—a woman identified not as “Kerry” but “Kit,” a philosophy student who wanders out of an academic Husserl conference into a “Midwest Cage Championship,” where she encounters for the first

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  • print • Dec/Jan/Feb 2023

    Down and Outbreak

    IN THE FALL of 2019, I wrote in these pages: “It remains unlikely that Ebola will spark a global pandemic. But it is almost certain that something else will, and there is every danger that it will exacerbate prevailing social tensions.” The occasion was two books about the 2013–2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Each author, Richard Preston and David Quammen, warned of the “Next Big One,” as Quammen put it, which could well be “an inevitability.” People tend to forget Cassandra was right.

    Quammen’s new study opens a few months after I wrote those sentences, when reports of a “pneumonia of

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  • review • September 14, 2022

    The Lust Hurrah

    “These days ecstasy is indeed out of fashion,” the late critic Ellen Willis wrote, despairingly, in 1992. The quest for an ecstatic existence had once inspired Willis to seek a new life; to leave her first husband, move to the East Village, and, eventually, form the radical feminist group Redstockings. Her brand of feminism (often called “pro-sex”) bristled against the division of sexual expression into categories of good and bad, and rejected the anti-porn movement’s moralism, which Willis saw as essentially conservative. Willis envisioned a world in which women embraced bolder, trickier

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  • print • Sep/Oct/Nov 2022

    Jane’s World

    THE PATIENT was a twenty-six-year-old mother of two, and she had just been sterilized. After getting a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s disease, a lymphatic cancer, during her second pregnancy, the young woman had realized that giving birth again would likely kill her. She had harangued a doctor for months, until he finally agreed to schedule a tubal ligation. When the anesthetic lifted, the first voice she heard was the surgeon’s. “The sterilization procedure was a success,” he said. “And congratulations, you’re eight weeks pregnant.” 

    The young woman asked her hospital for an abortion; her doctors

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  • review • June 10, 2022

    A Radical Leftist in the Midfield

    In the 1920s, an anarcho-syndicalist union in Germany distributed a pamphlet beginning: “May God punish England! Not for nationalistic reasons, but because the English people invented football! Football is a counterrevolutionary phenomenon.” Fifty-five years later, in his recently translated memoir Kicks, Spits & Headers: The Autobiographical Reflections of an Accidental Footballer (1976), Torinese leftist radical and professional footballer Paolo Sollier claps back: “I think that sports are an important field to be active in. One which the left has always avoided because of a question of

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  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    Future Perfect

    THE WORLDS CONJURED in analytic philosophy are strange ones, in which abstract persons are trapped in a shifting kaleidoscope of hypotheticals, posited obligations, infinite regressions, near and far possible worlds. Even after the so-called applied turn in the last century of ethics and political philosophy, the tendency by professional thinkers to treat every real-world problem as a logic puzzle persists. 

    This approach has extended to analytic philosophers’ theorizing about reparations for slavery. Some, like political philosopher Bernard Boxill, have urged an approach situated in Lockean

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  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    Dirty Laundry

    IN 2004, DAISY PITKIN, a young staff organizer for the Union of Needletrades, Industrial, and Textile Employees (UNITE), is recounting the union’s history to a group of ironworkers, roofers, painters, and laundry workers assembled for organizing training. She begins with the founding of UNITE’s predecessor, the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, in 1900, and continues with the strike by New York City garment workers, nine years later, that came to be known as the Uprising of the 20,000. She tells her audience how Clara Lemlich, a twenty-three-old garment worker, called for the strike

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