SILVER AND LEAD
On 11 December 2006, barely a week after his inauguration as Mexican President, Felipe Calderón sent 7,000 troops and police to the western state of Michoacán to destroy marijuana plantations and search out traffickers. This was the first deployment of a ‘war on drugs’ that soon escalated dramatically: within two months, a total of 30,000 security personnel had been sent into 8 of the country’s 32 states, mostly in the north of the country. Four years later, Calderón’s war can only be classed as a murderous catastrophe: a staggering 40,000 people have died, over 6,000 of them in the first half of 2011 alone—equivalent to a casualty rate of more than 30 a day—and yet the flow of drugs and weapons continues unabated, and the tide of killings, kidnappings and extortion has spread still further.
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Reserve Armies of the Imagination
Tony Wood on Hito Steyerl, The Wretched of the Screen. Dilemmas of representation—aesthetic and political—in the age of the super-abundant image.
Collapse as Crucible
While Russia’s anti-Putin demonstrations have prompted talk of a civic awakening—led by a flat-pack middle class—the country’s overall social landscape remains largely unmapped. Tony Wood surveys its shifting structures since the Soviet collapse, and the consequences of marketization’s advance through the USSR’s ruins.
Good Riddance to New Labour
As the British general election approaches, a balance-sheet of New Labour’s thirteen years in office. The record of Blair and Brown—imperial wars abroad, subservience to the City at home—as so many reasons to cheer their downfall.
Latin America Tamed?
Tony Wood on Michael Reid, Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin America’s Soul. A revised neoliberal gospel for the region, courtesy of the Economist.
Contours of the Putin Era
Responding to Vladimir Popov, Tony Wood examines the geographical and social distribution of Russia’s recent economic growth. What are the priorities and outlook of the emerging business-state elite—and whom will Putin’s ‘stabilization’ benefit?
Celluloid and Plasma
Tony Wood on Laura Mulvey, Death 24x a Second. How has the digital era changed the cinematic viewing experience—and the spectator? Freeze-frame fetishism and narrative disruption from Lumière to Kiarostami, via Hitchcock and Rossellini.
Annals of Utopia
Tony Wood on Andrey Platonov, Happy Moscow and Soul. Recently discovered works by the neglected giant of twentieth-century Russian letters. The singular language and multiple ambiguities of Platonov’s style, and heroic impasses of his life and times.
The Case for Chechnya
Eager to embrace Putin, Western rulers and pundits continue to connive at the Russian occupation of Chechnya, as Moscow’s second murderous war in the Caucasus enters its sixth year. Traditions of resistance, popular demands for sovereignty and Russia’s brutal military response, in Europe’s forgotten colony.
Tony Wood on Corinne Diserens, ed., Gordon Matta-Clark. Dissections of architectural space in the 60s and 70s, and their meaning in contemporary criticism. Did Matta-Clark’s disappearing art works leave behind a radical grin?
A Futurist Ark
Tony Wood on John Bowlt et al., eds, Nikolai Khardzhiev, A Legacy Regained. Matchless archive of art and writings from avant-garde Russia, and an old man at the mercy of the West.