• 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

    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

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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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  • excerpt • November 25, 2020

    An excerpt from As We Have Always Done on Indigenous practices that opt out of capitalism

    There is an assumption that socialism and communism are white and that Indigenous peoples don’t have this kind of thinking. To me, the opposite is true. Watching hunters and ricers harvest and live is the epitome of not just anticapitalism but societies where consent, empathy, caring, sharing, and individual self-determination are centered.

    My Ancestors didn’t accumulate capital, they accumulated networks of meaningful, deep, fluid, intimate collective and individual relationships of trust. In times of hardship, we did not rely to any great degree on accumulated capital or individualism but

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  • print • Sept/Oct/Nov 2020

    Dems the Breaks

    THEY’RE BOTH ON THE BOOK’S COVER, in the backseat of a limo, winner and loser of the 1980 presidential sweepstakes, riding, one presumes, to the inauguration of the one on the (so to speak) right. The outgoing president, giving the side-eye to his successor, stoically bears what one might view as an enigmatic half-smile. When things were going better for him four years earlier, his full-bore eighty-watt grin was his calling card, his ticket to glory. He’ll smile like that again someday, but it’ll never be the same. The incoming president? Nothing can harsh this guy’s mellow on this bright-and-frosty

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  • print • Sept/Oct/Nov 2020

    A Beginner’s Guide to End Times

    “UTOPIA HAS SUDDENLY changed camp,” write Pablo Servigne and Raphaël Stevens in How Everything Can Collapse: A Manual for Our Times, just out in an English translation by Andrew Brown. “Today, the utopian is whoever believes that everything can just keep going as before.” In 2015, when the book was first published in France, such a statement might have sounded alarmist. In 2020, Collapse feels positively prophetic. Things have not kept going as before, and it seems increasingly doubtful that they ever will again.

    That doesn’t mean that these are end times. Servigne and Stevens argue that the

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  • print • Sept/Oct/Nov 2020

    Quiet Riot

    THE STANDARD DEBATES around violent and nonviolent protest are well worn, if not worn out. Those of us who defend the deployment of tactics deemed “violent”—the broken bank window, the punched neo-Nazi, the burning cop car—are told that the moral high ground lies in nonviolence alone. In response, we speak of historic successes. We bemoan the whitewashing of civil rights militancy and decry the state’s monopoly on force. We’ve been known to quote Assata Shakur: “Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing

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  • print • Sept/Oct/Nov 2020

    Necessary Errors

    THE 1990s WERE A TIME of great techno-cultural promise. But despite the radical potential of the early internet, the decade gave rise to the increasing consolidation of power in the hands of men. Artists and theorists updated feminism to account for the social changes wrought by the internet and the systematic erasure of women in tech. In the Global North, this amorphous movement came to be known as cyberfeminism, and ran the gamut from the raucous, and often filthily funny, “Girls Gone Wired” ethos of Australian collective VNS Matrix to dry-mouthed academic treatises that were rather more

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  • print • Sept/Oct/Nov 2020

    Blame It on the Rain

    EVERY SPRING FOR MILLENNIA, snow in the Rockies and Appalachians has melted, carrying silt to the Mississippi River. From Minneapolis to Natchez, the river has bulged with the mountains’ sediment and whatever soil it pulled from the banks. Near its mouth, the Mississippi widens. Its height drops and its pace slows, allowing millions of metric tons of sediment to settle. Over time, the continent’s profit has expanded the state of Louisiana.

    But over the last one hundred years, Louisiana has shrunk. The Mississippi River has washed more soil into the Gulf of Mexico than it carried from the north.

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  • excerpt • August 20, 2020

    A Different Substance

    John Dewey was right: elected politicians are “the shadow cast on society by big business”—and, we would add, by powerful state institutions like the military and law enforcement agencies. While politicians do exercise a degree of autonomy, the general parameters of their activity are determined by those larger institutional forces, the roots and dynamics of which we have sought to explain in these pages.

    The dominance of corporations, we argue, derives first and foremost from their control over the investment of capital. This gives them enormous economic, political, and social power, since

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