The annotated table of contents below offers a sneak peek at what’s in issue 19. To get the issue delivered straight to your door, subscribe now.
On Left Straussianism
[Anastasia Berg and Jon Baskin]
The left Straussian may after all be laboring—as Strauss claimed philosophers had done for centuries—in the service of a noble cause. But it remains hard to see how left Straussianism’s protective logic, if left unchecked, can avoid coming into conflict with other values modern intellectuals claim to hold: an opposition to elitism, the promotion of equality and the belief that everyone is equally capable of using reason to decide what is true or good.
The New Deal
“My feeling for the New Deal is growing colder and colder. In fact, it’s growing so cold that it’s coming to the boiling point of hatred.” (Ayn Rand)
The Dictatorship of the Present
[John Michael Colón]
Thirty years ago socialism was dead and buried. This was not an illusion or a temporary hiccup, a point all the more important to emphasize up front in light of its recent revival in this country and around the world. There was no reason this resurrection had to happen; no law of nature or history compelled it. To understand why it did is to unlock a door, behind which lies something like the truth of our age.
In Her Own Time
Why we’re still looking for Lorraine Hansberry
[Danielle A. Jackson]
I’m drawn to Lorraine’s ambivalence about her success—she’s “bored to death” with A Raisin in the Sun, she writes—and to her trembling, human longing. She wants to be “in love,” she says, yet sex bores her. It is only from across the gulf of fifty years that Lorraine’s unruly multitudes, her inconsistencies, can be legible.
Teaching fiction at work
These people from the corporate world, the world of management theory, the world whose discourse academics accuse of invading higher education, have a kind of enthusiasm for and faith in the English-department classroom that I would have blushed to share with my Oberlin colleagues for fear of sounding naïve or reactionary. … Whatever the future holds for the liberal arts, the way people from outside the university (still) idealize the humanities seminar reminds us of the value of what we do. It can also turn us into an uncanny version of ourselves—familiar but also strange.
Prophecy and Politics
Reading the Book of Amos in America
In the face of so much suffering in our society—suffering that apparently has not moved enough people to care for “the least among us”—it is urgent that we find a way of altering our prevailing mindset and values. As was the case in Amos’s time, greed and indifference today not only constitute a violation of basic notions of fairness or justice, they threaten to annihilate our entire way of life.
Robert Pippin and Martin Hägglund on This Life
Virtually none of what Hegel thought was emerging has come to pass, and in the industrialized West, we have instead experienced cultural anomie, the emergence of an unimaginably influential media owned and directed by corporate interests with no regard for its consumers’ psychological health, and many more contributions to widespread social pathologies. To imagine in that world that persons, liberated to pursue what they want in their free time, will pursue in a cooperative and respectful way “what they really want” does not seem to me plausible. (RP)
The point is not to have a society which secures that we cooperate in mutual recognition of the freedom of one another. The point is rather to have a society that enables our cooperation in mutual recognition of the freedom of one another…. The principles of democratic socialism are therefore the conditions of possibility for mutual recognition and institutional rationality in Hegel’s sense. (MH)
Forms of Life
In the mud with the zadistes
On January 17, 2018, the French government announced it was canceling plans to build an airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, near Nantes. For fifty years, the project had occasioned fervent protest in France as well as internationally. In a stand “against the airport and its world,” as one of their slogans put it, some environmentalists had made their homes at the site for ten years.
McDonell’s prescription for civilian casualties is, broadly, to reduce the NCV, to foster a military ethic of moral responsibility, to work toward a society that accepts certain risks because to accept certain risks is simply morally better. That is a legitimate perspective, a defensible one, and it offers several avenues for useful reforms. But an American military with an NCV of zero would, of course, still be an American military, an organization endowed with the power to carry out violence on behalf of some people and not others.
In one of the densest urban agglomerations on earth, Hart Island feels distinctly remote, and this is no accident. Hart Island is part of a lattice of cradle-to-grave public institutions, pushed to the city’s lesser islands and shorelines during Manhattan’s tremendous growth during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and, to this day, invisible in the bustling surface city—hidden like the picture in Dorian Gray’s attic.
Of Love and Blindness
I wanted to see deep into you. Wanted you to see into me, too. And while I think I understood that there were necessary limits to this possibility, these limits blurred with the obstacle of your tightly closed blinds. I obsessed over blind spots. What was I not seeing?
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