a journal of modern society & culture

Review: John Matisonn, God, Spies and Lies: Finding South Africa’s Future Through its Past. Vlaeberg: Missing Ink, 2015.

[dc]S[/dc]outh Africa seldom reaches news headlines nor are its politics a topic of much public concern elsewhere anymore. It has, in a certain sense, fallen into benign neglect. Internationally, the anti-apartheid sympathy for the Mandela administration extended itself right up to the current political regime, giving current president Jacob Zuma an unearned reprieve from scrutiny. John Matisson, a veteran South African journalist, here sifts expertly through the last 40 years of local journalism. What he turns up is a dismaying story of a long struggle to expose the inequities of racial segregation and apartheid, first basking in the enlightened free press during a short period after the democratization in 1994 and then a sorrier tale of relinquishing those same gains to Zuma’s more authoritarian style of regime. Read More…

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook

September 9, 2016   Comments Off on Review: John Matisonn, God, Spies and Lies: Finding South Africa’s Future Through its Past. Vlaeberg: Missing Ink, 2015.

Review: Hugh Gusterson, Drone: Remote Control Warfare. MIT Press 2016

[dc]I[/dc]nside a foreign policy seminar, as a sour sort of luck would have it, I actually heard an Army officer, who was on leave to pick up an advanced degree, blurt just a bit too blithely that drone strikes in Pakistan were perfectly fine because the national government quietly approved. Why? Remote control warfare was reckoned to be the least worst of Pakistan’s paltry options, given all the scorch marks that the US was determined to inflict across the tribal wilderness bordering Afghanistan. Ninety percent of Pakistanis nonetheless oppose drones and three quarters accordingly regard the US as an enemy. No intervention at all, was not among the options. Apparatchiks really believe this stuff and do so because they want to believe it. How this self-serving stance differs from deception is not so easy to figure out. Read More…

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook

September 9, 2016   Comments Off on Review: Hugh Gusterson, Drone: Remote Control Warfare. MIT Press 2016

Review: Benedict Anderson. A Life Beyond Boundaries. London: Verso, 2016

[dc]I[/dc]n 1965 a coup d’état took place in Indonesia. The left-leaning government of President Soekarno (var. Sukarno) was replaced by a military regime headed by General Suharto. Soekarno’s presidency had balanced itself on the so-called Nasakom, the attempted harmonisation of three major forces in Indonesian life: Nasionalisme (Nationalism), Agama (Religion) and Komunisme (Communism). The Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), with its some three million members, was said to be the largest non-ruling Communist Party in the world and had an increasing influence on Soekarno. When Soekarno fell so too did Nasakom. In violence that continued into 1966, at least 500,000 Indonesians (and possibly upwards of one million) were killed, communists mainly as well as ethnic Chinese and an ideological array of leftists. Tortures and mass-imprisonments were also common. As the Suharto rule solidified, the new dictatorship blamed the violence on communists, with the claim that the PKI had fomented all this. Western governments, the United States foremost among them, pushed a similar line. Read More…

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook

September 9, 2016   Comments Off on Review: Benedict Anderson. A Life Beyond Boundaries. London: Verso, 2016

Review: Mary Wisniewski, Algren: A Life. Chicago Review Press, 2016

[dc]M[/dc]ary Wisniewski is a seasoned pro with a long career as an ace reporter for the Chicago dailies and for Reuters, and it shows in her superb biography of Nelson Algren, the writer who made Chicago “his trade.” Like James Joyce and Dublin, Franz Kafka and Prague, and Alfred Doeblin and Berlin, Algren’s knowledge of Chicago, and his long tenure there, which ended with a dejected move to the East Coast just before he died, has sealed his status as the street level poet-laureate of the Second City. Read More…

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook

September 9, 2016   Comments Off on Review: Mary Wisniewski, Algren: A Life. Chicago Review Press, 2016

Review: Kevin M. Kruse, One Nation Under God-How Corporate America Invented Christian America. New York: Basic Books, 2015.

[dc]H[/dc]ow did conservative evangelical Christianity become the default religion of the US government, despite the legal separation of church and state? Kevin M. Kruse sees this as a Twentieth Century development, a process that started with the Eisenhower administration, continued through several others, and eventually solidified with the Reagan administration. The book offers impressive detail about the people, places, and events that united government with organized religion in general and conservative evangelicalism in particular. I don’t take issue with the evidence or with Kruse’s interpretation as far as it goes. However, he does leave the central thesis from the subtitle unresolved: how did corporate America invent Christian America? Indeed, I don’t think he addresses this question at all, either in the narrative or in the running discussion. Nevertheless, the book offers significant historical context and details about the activity of notable players, despite the imperceptible critical deliberation of their activities. Read More…

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook

September 9, 2016   Comments Off on Review: Kevin M. Kruse, One Nation Under God-How Corporate America Invented Christian America. New York: Basic Books, 2015.

On Thinking With and Against the State

September 9, 2016   Comments Off on On Thinking With and Against the State

Deep Contradictions Facing the Global Movement for Human Emancipation: The Middle East, China, and Europe

Prologue Read More…

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook

September 9, 2016   Comments Off on Deep Contradictions Facing the Global Movement for Human Emancipation: The Middle East, China, and Europe

Art, Immanence, and Critique: A Dialogue between Alain Badiou and Theodor Adorno

Introduction Read More…

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook

September 9, 2016   Comments Off on Art, Immanence, and Critique: A Dialogue between Alain Badiou and Theodor Adorno

Poisoning the Well: Demagoguery versus Democracy

I am your voice.
Donald Trump, Republican National Convention, July 2016 Read More…

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook

September 9, 2016   Comments Off on Poisoning the Well: Demagoguery versus Democracy

Society against State: The Brazilian Crisis Beneath the Surface

Crisis, Democracy and Reaction

[dc]T[/dc]he current Brazilian crisis is redefining the boundaries between law and politics for a second time in less than 30 years in a dramatic and radical fashion. For different reasons, when the music stops, Brazilian politics and law will never be the same again. It seems that the Brazilian justice system has revealed the corrupt core of our public life, which has been open for business since at least the late 1980’s.[1] Read More…

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook

September 9, 2016   Comments Off on Society against State: The Brazilian Crisis Beneath the Surface