International Women’s Day: Female Consciousness

This week, on the 8th of March, thousands will renounce their daily demands to strike for International Women’s Day. Women are calling upon women to act, or not act, in any way they can: to ‘put a broom outside the front door or a banner in the window; bang pots and pans, change your facebook profile to the image of the Strike, refuse to do the washing up or the shopping, charge double for sex work’.

In Defense of Incomplete Endings

Despite its mainstream success at the box office, ‘La La Land’ resists fulfilling the usual Hollywood romance narratives. Reading the film alongside Roland Barthes’s ‘The Lover’s Discourse’, Rebecca Liu suggests that the message of both is that “to love, sometimes, means to know when it is time to let go”.

Hipster Post-Factualism and the Rise of the Extremely Real

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.

Second-Hand: “Song of Solomon”, Toni Morrison

  ‘Second-Hand’ is a series of alternative book reviews. Traditional reviews, with their emphasis on the latest and greatest novels, risk leaving the reader behind. This column offers a breathing space, by focusing each time on a single second-hand book. The focus of this column is on chance encounters, revisionary readings of classic novels, and on the margins of the literary canon. It is a celebration of the book as physical object, in an […]

Hito Steyerl’s “Liquidity Inc.” and Art Under Neoliberalism

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.

Re-reading Trump’s Campaign Book “Crippled America”

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.

Second-Hand: “Report to Greco”, Nikos Kazantzakis

‘Second-Hand’ is a series of alternative book reviews. Traditional reviews, with their emphasis on the latest and greatest novels, risk leaving the reader behind. This column offers a breathing space, by focusing each week on a single second-hand book.

 The focus of this column is on chance encounters, revisionary readings of classic novels, and on the margins of the literary canon. It is a celebration of the book as physical object, in an […]

Zadie Smith’s “Swing Time” and the Death of Liberalism

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.

The need for a new party, redux

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 New Libertarian

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.

Orwell on Patriotism

During the Conservative Party Conference last week, the prime minister gave a speech critical of those in the political class who turn up their noses at the public’s patriotism, national pride, and pro-British sentiment. Our editor Chris Townsend thinks through May’s comments with George Orwell on his side.

The Chicago Boys now and then

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.

White Guilt, American Shame and Racial Violence: Chester Himes’ Plan B

Black American writer Chester Himes turned his back on America for good in the 1950s after a brief stint in prison and a less-than-stellar writing career (at least as far as white publishers were concerned) in the U.S. His late fiction, notablyBlind Man with a Pistol and the posthumously published Plan B give vent to his rage against America at the same time that the novels dissect the origins of not only Himes’ rage but perhaps also the rage fueling today’s white on black violence in America. Alice Mikal Craven looks at how Himes’ works potentially illuminate issues of white on black violence in American today.

“I identify as a black woman”

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.

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