Tom Mertes on Richard Posner, Breaking the Deadlock. The first lucid analysis of the upshot of the US Presidential election, and its setting in the West’s most backward democracy.
LIGHT FROM FLORIDA
Standard liberal laments about the outcome of last year’s US presidential election represent it as an outrage to the democratic law of the land. Thanks to vicious manipulation of recorded ballots by Republican functionaries in Florida, brazenly backed by the conservative majority of the Supreme Court, Bush stole an election rightfully won by Gore. Such has been the refrain of Democratic loyalists and journalists up and down the country. At the higher reaches of this band of opinion, however, sheer denunciations of electoral robbery are sublimated into a loftier case. Among constitutional theorists, Bush’s victory is pictured not so much as straightforwardly illegal but rather as morally and historically improper—a violation not of the letter, but of the spirit of the Constitution. Here a mystical ideal of ‘true’ American democracy serves to blur the boundaries between this imaginary construct and the actually existing system.
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Crash of 1837
Tom Mertes on Alasdair Roberts, America’s First Great Depression. Political outcomes of economic crisis in the antebellum United States.
War, Crash, Slump
Tom Mertes on Liaquat Ahamed, Lords of Finance. Bestselling portrait of the interwar world’s central bankers as originators of the Great Depression—with edifying comparisons to their modern counterparts.
Tom Mertes on Jerry Hough, Changing Party Coalitions. Ethnic and confessional divisions as the origins of America’s political alignments, and the elite strategies that have culminated in today’s red–blue polarization.
Tom Mertes on Sean Wilentz, Andrew Jackson. A retouched portrait of the Democrat founding father—minus Indian massacres, slave exploitation and financial bubble.
A Republican Proletariat
Why did cultural bogeys trump economic distress as working-class voters went to the polls in the US? Can the case of Kansas stand in for proletarian America at large, as Thomas Frank suggests? Billionaire Democrats and blue-collar Republicans in the twisting shapes of the 21st-century political system.
Tom Mertes on Walden Bello, Deglobalization. Ideas of another world economy, less subject to the diktats of the imf and the straitjackets of the WTO.
Replying to Michael Hardt with an alternative look at Porto Alegre, Tom Mertes argues that while the variety of movements and forces in the WSF is not to be reduced to a single scale, the differences between them are less to do with organization than strategy.
Baffler in Boomtown
Tom Mertes on Thomas Frank, One Market Under God. The Robin Hood of anti-Cultural Studies leads a merry chase against market populism.
On No Logo
Tom Mertes on Naomi Klein, No Logo. Emblems of ownership: from branding hides to clothes, cattle to people? A Canadian reporter’s stinging attack on the new corporate logic behind logo-mania.
Counsellor to Clinton
Tom Mertes on Dick Morris, The New Prince. America's fallen political adviser as a surrogate Machiavelli for the White House.