With measures of subjective well-being on the rise, what role does happiness have to play in politics? Should it inform our judgements about who receives welfare payments? Might the government try to direct society towards a particular notion of ‘happiness’? Sam Dalton explores these questions and more, and argues that a public, deliberative politics of happiness might indeed be a good thing.
While the left-leaning media bemoan the rise of a "post-truth" political culture, might not the left wing be just as easy to caricature as "post-factualist" as is the right? Natalie Morningstar examines the figure of the hipster, as liberal consumer par excellence, and argues that a moralising language of truth and reality – of factualism – spans the full breadth of the political spectrum.
What can contemporary art tell us about the reality in which we’re living? Through a reading of "Liquidity Inc." by the German artist Hito Steyerl, Gary Zhang reflects on 2008 as a technological, economic and aesthetic turning point — and on its consequences for representing realism in a 'post-truth' world.
As is now tradition for presidential candidates in the United States, Donald Trump committed many of his key policies to print ahead of the 2016 election, in the campaign book "Crippled America". Now, after Trump's campaign was proven successful and at the end of 2016, Chris Townsend turns to the book for some answers.
At the end of 2016, Zadie Smith's Swing Time feels both apposite and timely, as a story about "the failure of liberal thought". Rebecca Liu details the ways in which the novel deals a blow against the myth that individuals from any background can, with the right attitude and enough effort, achieve their dreams — and the notion that wealth is an indicator of success.
During the Great Depression 85 years ago, when masses of American voters had 'lost all confidence that politics can accomplish anything significant', American philosopher John Dewey wrote of the urgent need to move beyond the business-dominated two-party system. The Democratic and Republican national committees were at the time colluding to restrict both extra-party competition and intra-party dissent in ways that strikingly resemble today's two-party cartel. Dewey's argument is both as obvious today as it was then, and as woefully unfulfilled.
The leader of the U.S. Libertarian Party, Gary Johnson, has had an election campaign marred by blunders and blusters. But Johnson is seen by many as the only viable alternative to the Clinton-Trump race for the Whitehouse, polling as high as 6%. As a rebranded Libertarian Party attempts to court both disenfranchised Democrats and rebellious Republicans alike, Jack Marley-Payne examines the truths and the fictions behind their policies and promises.
When questioned about his apparent involvement with the Pinochet's militant regime by Newsweek in 1976, Milton Friedman observed that "I do not consider it as evil for an economist to render technical economic advice to the Chilean Government, any more than I would regard it as evil for a physician to give technical medical advice to the Chilean Government to help end a medical plague".
This article traces the roots of the now-ubiquitous conception of economics as a neutral technical order by examining how contemporary voices bracketed 'the economic' from 'the political' in the case of the Chicago Boys. Rebecca Liu argues that those from the financial and economic sector have insulated their discipline from critique by performing a series of rhetorical manoeuvers that shut off a priori the efficacy of these criticisms through using a language of 'expertise'. The result, however, is the coagulation of ideological positions into 'scientific, self-evident truths' that challenge our very ability to make sense of, and fight for, our standing in the world.
In June, 2015 Rachel Dolezal, president of her local NAACP chapter and professor of Africana studies, was exposed as a white woman passing as black during a televised interview. This interview went viral, and subsequently initiated a national debate about racial performance and construction in the United States. In this article, Tanisha Spratt emphasizes the relevance of this event in relation to contemporary notions of passing, and argues that racial passing today often continues to exhibit the same traits and conventions as it did in the early twentieth century.
Playing with location and dislocation, British artist filmmaker Ben Rivers’ feature film and installation, The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers (2015) take a large-scale film set as a backdrop, and the BBC’s former prop-making studios as a stage. Rivers uses Ouarzazate, a small town on the border between Morocco’s Atlas Mountains and the desert, as his film location, offering a multifaceted critique of the many films made there in the past, and being made there today. His ethnographically inflected practice blurs facts with fiction, often focusing on socially marginalized characters and locations. Borrowing Trinh T. Minh-ha’s ideas of intercultural cinema, Becca Voelcker discusses in this article The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers’ use of bodily metaphors (eyes, voice and hands) to explore identity and displacement.