A BRIEF HISTORY
OF NEW LEFT REVIEW
NLR was founded in 1960, from a merger between the Boards of Universities and Left Review and The New Reasoner—two journals that had emerged out of the political repercussions of Suez and Hungary in 1956, reflecting respective rejections of the dominant 'revisionist' orthodoxy within the Labour Party and of the legacy of Stalinism in the Communist Party of Great Britain. The common political focus uniting these two currents was provided by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), the first anti-nuclear peace movement. In the pages of these journals E. P. Thompson, Charles Taylor and Alasdair MacIntyre debated 'Marxist Humanism', ethics and community, Raphael Samuel explored 'the sense of classlessness', and Isaac Deutscher analysed the Communism of Khrushchev's thaw. [For accounts of the early New Left in Britain, see Out of Apathy, edited by the Oxford University Socialist Discussion Group, Verso, London 1989]
The new review was conceived as the organ of a broad New Left organization. Its emphases were popular and interventionist, aimed at immediate issues of contemporary politics. The decline of CND by late 1961, however, deprived the New Left of much of its momentum as a movement, and uncertainties and divisions within the Board of the journal led to the transfer of the Review to a younger and less experienced group in 1962. The first two years of NLR (nos 1–12) thus constitute a distinct and self-contained period. It was marked by a novel approach to the understanding of popular culture and innovative proposals for the democratization of the modern communications industry. Stuart Hall and Raymond Williams were later to pursue these two themes in highly influential work. A prophetic article by C. Wright Mills, 'Letter to the New Left', in NLR 5, was to be much reprinted. It questioned the 'labour metaphysic' and helped to shape the concerns of the emerging North American New Left.
From 1962 to 1963 a tentative and transitional magazine, of more restricted scope, appeared, with Perry Anderson as editor. With the dispersal of the New Left movement as such, NLR retrenched as a theoretical journal whose intellectual orientation was on the whole more geared to the emerging preoccupations of Continental theory. Articles by Claude Lévi-Strauss, R. D. Laing and Ernest Mandel signalled these new interests. The Review's primary political focus was on the Third World rather than the domestic arena. Characteristic of this period (nos 1522) was a series of articles on Cuba, Algeria, Iran and the Portuguese colonies, written in a mode which drew on comparative sociology and class analysis. There was little or no coverage of British politics in the last years of the Conservative regime of the time, though a fine essay on the philosopher Oakeshott (by Colin Falck, in NLR 18).
In early 1964 a new format for NLR was adopted which endured, through various subsequent changes, to the end of 1999. At the same time a broader and more ambitious editorial direction was developed. Between 1964 and 1966 (nos 2335), a basic 'model' of the journal was created that gave it a new and specific identity. In terms of topical concentration, a primary focus on the Third World gave way to a principal concern with the UK itself, although the analytic emphasis was not entirely different. A series of articles explored structural features of British historical development and the distinctive capitalist society they had created, with its particular balance of class forces. The major intellectual influence here was Gramsci. The resultant NLR 'theses' gave rise to a lively rejoinder from Edward Thompson, published in the Socialist Register 1965, in a significant debate of the mid sixties. Politically, although the Review was sharply critical of the traditions of Labourism, its own position might perhaps be described as an anticipation of the preoccupations of the Eurocommunism of a decade later. It was argued that socialist hegemony must be developed within civil society prior to, and as a precondition of, socialist advance at the level of the government or state. This outlook found typical expression in the first book produced by NLR, Towards Socialism (1964), a paperback designed for the context of a new Labour administration. In practice, the first few months of the Wilson government were enough to dispel any illusions concerning the potential of the latter as a vehicle of socialist transformation. Treatment of international issues was much reduced during this phase. However, the Review contained a range of shorter comment and criticism, and a diversity of cultural coverage, that gave it a more varied and readable texture. A series on the cinema, pioneering auteur theory in Britain (by Peter Wollen, writing under the name Lee Russell) and another in which people from a range of occupations recounted experiences of work under capitalism (later collected in two Penguin volumes by Ronald Fraser), were popular features of this period of the journal. Other theoretical concerns of this time were indicated by articles on existentialism and psychoanalysis. A certain diffuse Sartreanism also coloured the magazine's politics and Les Temps Modernes furnished an admired model.
From 1966 to 1968 NLR developed into a distinct fourth phase (nos 3651). Opposition to the Labour regime of the time took the form of successive Penguin Specials produced by the Review, designed to give voice to the two major resistances to itthe trade-union movement fighting the wage-freeze and deflation in 1967 (The Incompatibles), and the student movement which culminated in the revolts of 1968 (Student Power). The editor of the journal undertook a critical mapping of Britain's academic intelligentsia in NLR 50 (Components of the National Culture). The Review also now broached for the first time classical issues of the international revolutionary movement of this century, with an organized debate between Communist, Trotskyist and Lukácsian participants over the role of Trotsky in the Russian Revolution and its aftermath. This debate was initiated by Nicolas Krassó, an editor of the Review who had been a protagonist of the Hungarian uprising of 1956. Abroad, the spread of Cuban-inspired guerrillas in Latin America and the victories of the Vietnamese revolution in Indochina were followed in renewed Third World coverage within the Review. Guevarist and Maoist influences were among the characteristic undercurrents of this period. In the same years, the Review initiated the series of translations and expositions of 'Western Marxist' texts, from Gramsci, Lukács and Korsch onwards, that were to become one of its principal strands. Western Marxism was seen as a vital resource in rejecting the authorized catechism of official Communism and the bland philistinism of social democracy alike. The Review's eclectic theoretical interests equally found expression in articles on psychoanalysis (Adorno , Lacan) and reprints of key texts of the Russian Formalists and Constructivists. In 1966 it started to engage with the problem of women's liberation, with Juliet Mitchell's pathbreaking essay on 'Women: The Longest Revolution' in NLR 40, an original synthesis of de Beauvoir, Engels, Viola Klein, Betty Friedan and other analysts of women's oppression.
A fifth phase in the evolution of the journal runs approximately from late 1968 to mid 1971 (nos 5267). A general radicalization, amidst the international student and worker upsurges in Western Europe and the impact of the war in Vietnam, marked the outlook of NLR. In a special issue, NLR 52, the Paris 'May events' were celebrated as a 'festival of the oppressed'. Limited attention was paid to domestic developments, though the first conference and publications of the women's movement were discussed. The main focus was on North America, Japan and other OECD areas. Western Marxist materials were now the most prominent single category of texts with the Reviewstill cast largely in expository fashion. The most important institutional change of this phase was the decision, taken in late 1968, to create a publishing house as an extension of the work of NLR. The first NLB titles appeared in the autumn of 1970, and the initial shape of the imprint closely reflected the current emphasis of the journal. Cultural coverage in NLR was now irregular, though there were exchanges on rock music, sexuality and Peter Wollen's 'Signs and Meaning in the Cinema'.
From 1971 to 1975 NLR developed its theoretical programme with critical assessments of, or interviews with, major theorists within the Western Marxist traditionLukács, Althusser, the Frankfurt School, Sartre and Colletti (later collected in an NLB Reader). Western Marxism was attractive because of its openness to non-Marxist avant-garde influences and because it appeared to give foundations for a critique of bourgeois society and of bureaucratic misrule in the Eastern Bloc. As it developed, this interest grew to encompass cognitive and substantive issues of social and historical analysis. The work of Louis Althusser was the subject of several critical essays and exercised influence on a number of contributors such as Nicos Poulantzas and Göran Therborn. The Review and its publishing house also presented work by Benjamin, Adorno and Timpanaro. A critique of received Marxist ideas on culture by Raymond Williams laid the foundation for 'cultural materialism' (NLR 82). There was now somewhat more British coverage in the Review, dealing with the vulnerability of the Heath government. The Review found itself somewhat isolated on the Left, arguing for British membership of the European Community; a special issue on this theme by Tom Nairn was subsequently republished as a Penguin Special. Another significant political intervention of this sixth phase (nos 68–90) was made in articles criticizing Chinese foreign policy, and analysing processes in the USSR and Eastern Europeespecially the emergence of the Russian dissidents, the fate of Czechoslovakia and workers' revolts in Poland. This was the first period in which the 'Second World' received extended treatment in NLR, the main preoccupations being the need for a settling of accounts with the bureaucratic regimes in these states. There was also a recovery of Third World articles to a high quantitative level, including not only country studies but more general debates over the nature of the post-colonial state, and Bill Warren's controversial claim that capitalism was gaining momentum even in many previously underdeveloped regions. A debate on household labour attempted to join socialist and feminist analyses, while Enzensberger contributed seminal articles on ecology and the media.
After 1975 the 'Western Marxist' programme of NLR was virtually completethat is, introduction and evaluation of the main currents in post-classical European Marxist thought. There succeeded two distinct, if complementary, emphases in the theoretical work of the Review. The first was critical evaluation of the classical Marxist tradition itselfMarx, Engels, Lenin, Luxemburg, or the Austro-Marxists, together with reassessments of the legacy of Stalinism in the international labour movement. The language and concepts of Marxism helped the Review to reach out to readers and contributors in many different countries. But this did not preclude a second emphasisengagement with the native heritage of British socialist and radical thought. By now NLB was publishing original titles of its own, so that this work found as much expression in book as in journal form. Discussion of the writing of Raymond Williams, initiated in the journal, developed into Politics and Letters (1979); debate was renewed with Edward Thompson, on the occasion of The Poverty of Theory (1978); while the origins of British Marxist historiography were explored in the Review itself. Robert Brenner's article on 'The Origins of Capitalism' in NLR 104 bespoke an increasingly sophisticated concern with the dynamic of social formations and modes of production. Politically, this seventh phase (nos 91120) saw the collapse of the dictatorships in southern Europe, and a new advance of radical revolutions in the Third World (Vietnam, Angola, Ethiopia, Iran, Nicaragua)events covered relatively consistently by NLR. First World problems of a broad character, often rather under-explored by the socialist tradition, were tackled in a series of articles on bourgeois democracy, nationalism, state expenditure, social classes and the world recession by authors such as Göran Therborn, Erik Olin Wright, Ian Gough, Arghiri Emmanuel and Ernest Mandel. Criticism of far-left adventurism was advanced in articles on Portugal, Italy and Turkey. By contrast, treatment of Britain itself was sporadic, with some monitoring of currents in the working class by interviews (Scargill, Cowley shop stewards). The most salient features of the NLR towards the end of this period were its resistance to the gathering Cold War climate of the late seventies, and its attention to the alarming immobilism of the Communist states, especially the Soviet Union. Thus, NLR 119 contained articles by Alec Nove on plan and market, Fred Halliday on Afghanistan, and Stuart Hall on Poulantzas's State, Power and Socialism; contributions from authors such as Miklós Haraszti and Rudolf Bahro identified the malaise of 'actually existing socialism'.
The period from 1980 to 1984 was dominated by the editorial priority given to the agenda of the peace movementthe increasing dangers of the arms race and the new recklessness of the United States and Britain. The international debate organized by the Review, in response to Edward Thompson's original intervention on this issue, was extended into the book Exterminism and Cold War (1982). Major articles studied key zones of political contest in East and WestPoland and the DDR, Central America and the Caribbean. Raymond Williams, in a major intervention in NLR 124, insisted that winning peace could not be separated from achieving political liberation and justice. The peace movements of the early and mid eighties can be seen as one ingredient in the development of a new era of détente, with its consequent upheavals. Articles on Poland and Kosovo drew attention to explosive internal tensions in the East. Domestic coverage focused somewhat narrowly on the character and prospects of the Labour Party, rather than on the nature of the current Conservative regime, with the notable exception of Anthony Barnett's 'Iron Britannia', a special issue on the Falkland s War (NLR 134), and a special feature on the 1983 election in NLR 140. The Review's past critique of the Westminster model helped to inform a strong commitment to proportional representation, a position then uncommon on the Left. North American coverage (and contributors) greatly increasedthe United States now occupying a similar position in the journal to that of Western Europe in earlier phases. Cultural materials registered a certain revival with essays by Terry Eagleton and presentation of the debate on 'Aesthetics and Politics' between Adorno, Brecht, Lukács and Benjamin. The theoretical concerns of this period marked a transition in the evolution of the Review, with articles by Ralph Miliband and Norman Geras addressing the institutional specificity and class relations of Western societies, and with studies of social-democratic organization and policy by Göran Therborn and Adam Przeworski. Towards the end of this period there was a recomposition of the editorial committee, with about half of those who had joined in the mid sixties withdrawing and several new editors joining NLR. Robin Blackburn took over the editorship of the journal in 1983, remaining in the position until 1999.
From the mid to late eighties (nos 143-178), the Review foregrounded an economic critique of the Soviet-bloc systemswhose social antagonisms and negation of democracy had been earlier documented and analysedwith articles on plan and market, on consumer power and social ownership, by Wlodzimierz Brus, Ernest Mandel, Alec Nove, Robin Murray, Meghnad Desai et al., Diane Elson and R. W. Davies. A succession of contributions from the Soviet author Boris Kagarlitsky analysed the unfolding of glasnost in the Soviet Union. Several articles in the autumn of 1989 considered the large implications of the moral and political collapse of Communist regimes in 1989. In NLR 180 Fred Halliday and Mary Kaldor assessed 'The Ends of Cold War'. In a different register, a series of articles by Raphael Samuel, 'The Lost World of British Communism', sought to recover the experience and outlook of the militant in the Western CPs. An influential article by Fredric Jameson in NLR 146—‘Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism’—led to wide debate on the theoretical and cultural conjuncture in advanced capitalism in the eighties. Stunning reports from Mike Davis in Los Angeles evoked the world of actually existing capitalism. In earlier periods there had been significant articles on women's oppression by male as well as female authors (Wally Seccombe and Maurice Godelier): in this period a series on women's movements covered Spain, Greece, West Germany, Ireland, Japan, France, Bangladesh, India, Brazil and the Middle East. Another series scrutinized the trajectory of the Left in Europe, covering Denmark, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Norway and West Germany. So far as the broader political parameters are concerned, debates on Thatcherism, post-Marxism and 'New Times' responded critically to what were seen as unduly iconoclastic and accommodating theses influenced by the rightist climate of the late eighties. In NLR 148 Francis Mulhern, responding to Raymond Williams's work, essayed a bold synthesis of socialism and the concerns of the new social movements. An interview with Jürgen Habermas in NLR 151 addressed the most fundamental questions affecting human solidarity and emancipation. Exchanges and articles on history and social power, 'rational choice' Marxism, post-modernist philosophy, the values of liberalism, and the overthrow of Stalinism, continued to defend the vitality of socialist theory and the fertility of the basic theses of historical and cultural materialism. The varieties of Marxism and socialism espoused in this and earlier periods had the general effect of distancing NLR from the populism, relativism and identity politics found in the broader New Left and post-New Left milieu.
From the turn of the nineties, a new set of priorities shaped the agenda of the review. The collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union was analyzed in a series of historical retrospectsJürgen Habermas's 'Rectifying Revolution' (NLR 183), Robin Blackburn's 'Fin de Siècle: Socialism after the Crash' (NLR 185), Benedict Anderson's 'Radicalism after Communism', Peter Wollen's 'Our Post-Communism' (NLR 202), Manuel Riesco's 'Honour to the Jacobins' (NLR 212)while developments in its wake, from Central Europe to Transcaucasia, were explored by Slavoj iek, Ronald Suny, Andrzej Walicki, Ivan Szelenyi, Roy Medvedev, Michael Burawoy, R. W. Davies, Ernest Gellner, Georgi Derluguian and others. Counterpointing this scene, the rise of China as a major poweran area of the world where NLR's coverage had traditionally been weakwas extensively treated in articles on its economy, society, politics and culture: from Richard Smith, Cui Zhiyuan and Roberto Unger, to Lin Chun, Liu Binyan, Zhang Xudong and Jeffrey Wasserstrom, culminating in the round-table on China's future by leaders of the June Fourth movement in NLR 235. In the West, on the other hand, a series of major studies of the dynamics of contemporary world capitalism marked the decade: Robert Brenner's and Mark Glick's critical assessment of the Regulation School (NLR 188), Giovanni Arrighi's fundamental survey of World Income Inequalities (NLR 189), Andrew Glyn's panorama of the OECD zone in the epoch of Reagan and Thatcher (NLR 195), Michel Aglietta's 'Capitalism at the Turn of the Century' (NLR 232) and Robin Blackburn's analysis of 'The New Collectivism' (NLR 233)and not least, the enlarged special issue devoted entirely to Robert Brenner's 'Economics of Global Turbulence' (NLR 229), which sold out immediately.
Politically, unlike much of the Left, the Review had no truck with the neo-imperialist or 'humanitarian' interventions of the period, attacking Allied interventions in the Gulf and the Balkans without remission (Robert Brenner and Peter Gowan on the 1991 invasion of Iraq, NLR 185 and 187; Tariq Ali, Robin Blackburn, Edward Said and Peter Gowan on the war against Yugoslavia, NLR 234 and 235). Although these years saw the passing of many key figures of the first New Left generationamong those commemorated in the Review were Edward Thompson, Raymond Williams, Ralph Miliband, Raphael Samuelits intellectual vitality was undiminished. Theoretical debates in NLR ranged from the dynamics of ethnic cleansing and the fate of class politics (Michael Mann) to the legacies of historical materialism and deconstruction (Jacques Derrida and Fredric Jameson); the vicissitudes of post-war sociology (Jeffrey Alexander and Pierre Bourdieu) and the return of social evolutionism (W. G. Runciman and Michael Rustin); the validity of world-systems approaches (Immanuel Wallerstein and Gregor McLennan) and Marxist macro-history (Eric Hobsbawm, Göran Therborn, Tom Nairn); while regular aesthetic discussions featured Peter Bürger, Fredric Jameson, Terry Eagleton, Julian Stallabrass and Malcolm Bull. The 200th issue, which appeared in the summer of 1993, offers a good summation of the concerns of this phase of the journal, containing interviews with Karel van Wolferen on Japan and Dorothy Thompson on ‘The Personal and the Political’, and articles by Tom Nairn on ‘Ukania’, Johanna Brenner on US feminism, and Mike Davis on the ecological costs of the Cold War.
In January 2000, NLR was relaunched in a new series, redesigned and numbered afresh. Returning as editor, Perry Anderson set out a manifesto for the Review, ‘Renewals’: while registering the scale of the Left’s defeat by the end of the 20th century, the journal would refuse any accommodation with the prevailing order or euphemization of its operations; the task was rather one of cool-headed analysis, in a spirit of uncompromising realism. The Review maintained a sharp political edge, with signed editorials attacking the ramping up of Anglo-American aggression across the greater Middle East—bombardment and invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, threats to Iran, drones in Pakistan—accompanied by sustained analysis of US imperial policy, by Anderson (NLR 17, 48), Tariq Ali (NLR 5, 21, 38, 50), Susan Watkins (NLR 28, 54), Peter Gowan (NLR 16, 21, 24) and Gopal Balakrishnan (NLR 23, 36). The journal called for an equitable division of land between the two peoples in Israel/Palestine, against the blatantly disproportionate 80:20 shares envisioned by the Oslo Accords and the US–EU’s ‘two-state solution’ (NLR 10). Edward Said attacked the cowardice and ineptitude of Arafat and the Palestinian Authority, and the hold of the Israel lobby over US policymakers (NLR 6, 11); flanked by complementary pieces from Gabriel Piterberg, Yoav Peled, Virginia Tilley and others.
Interventions on the world economy included texts by Andrew Glyn, R. Taggart Murphy and Robert Wade on global imbalances and the international financial system; Andrea Boltho, Ronald Dore and John Grahl debated the resilience of European and East Asian models to the ‘shareholder agenda’. The contradictions of financialization and fall of Enron (NLR 14) were probed by Robin Blackburn, who also put forward a proposal for a global pension plan (NLR 47). Robert Brenner extended his analysis of the US ‘long downturn’ (NLR 6, 25). In landmark engagements with the work of Robert Brenner and David Harvey, Giovanni Arrighi offered a major new interpretation of the dilemmas of American hegemony (NLR 20, 32 and 33), while Nicholas Crafts, Michel Aglietta and Kozo Yamamura contributed to a critical symposium on Brenner’s Economics of Global Turbulence (NLR 54). The longer-term implications of the 2008 financial crisis were discussed by Gopal Balakrishnan (NLR 59) and Peter Gowan in his final essay for NLR, ‘Crisis in the Heartland’ (NLR 55).
On the cultural front, principal contributions included an exchange between Perry Anderson and Fredric Jameson on the poetics of utopia (NLR 25, 26); a major debate between Stefan Collini and Francis Mulhern on the latter’s critique, in his book Culture/ Metaculture, of the political ambitions of Kulturkritik and Cultural Studies alike (NLR 7, 16, 18, 23, 27); and continuing discussion of the aesthetic regimes of modernism and post-modernism, with interventions by T. J. Clark, Christopher Prendergast and Malcolm Bull (NLR 2, 10, 11, 24). Benedict Anderson traced trans-oceanic connections between artistic avant-gardes, anarchism and fin-de-siècle anti-colonialism, exploring the worlds of Filipino patriot and novelist José Rizal (NLR 27, 28, 29). From Brazil, Roberto Schwarz wrote on peripheral masterworks, past and present. An extended colloquy on world literature, spanning Latin America, India, China and the Anglophone world and focused initially around the work of Franco Moretti and Pascale Casanova, treated of literary sociology, language, genre and form (NLR 1, 8, 13, 15, 16, 20, 31, 41, 48, 54); themes further explored in Moretti’s ‘Graphs, Maps, Trees’ (NLR 24, 26, 28; criticized by Prendergast in NLR 34). On the visual arts, the journal published a series of auteur studies on Aleksei German, Gianni Amelio, Edward Yang, Hou Hsiao Hsien, Francisco Lombardi, Ousmane Sembene; interpretations of Godard as multimedia artist, by Michael Witt, and of Kluge through the lens of Eisenstein, by Jameson; a landmark history of Cahiers du Cinéma by Emilie Bickerton; and contributions on contemporary art and media practices from Peter Wollen, Julian Stallabrass, Hal Foster, Sven Lütticken, Peter Campbell, Tony Wood, Marcus Verhagen, Barry Schwabsky and Chin-tao Wu.
In the realms of philosophy and social theory the Review published work by Slavoj Žižek, Malcolm Bull, Peter Hallward, Peter Dews and Alain Badiou, with contributions from Gregor McLennan, Göran Therborn, Erik Olin Wright and Nancy Fraser on religion, demography, class and gender. NLR 45 (May–June 2007) was a special issue on globalization and bio-politics edited by Malcolm Bull; it included an exchange between Clive Hamilton and George Monbiot on environmental politics, an issue also addressed by Jacob Stevens, Mike Davis and Kenneth Pomeranz, in his survey of Asian states’ conflicting ambitions for Himalayan waters (NLR 58). Analyses of major states continued the long-standing tradition of country studies, with sustained treatments of Germany, Russia, Brazil, India, Colombia, Turkey, Thailand, Mexico, Cuba and Nepal, among others. A prominent feature of NLR after 2000 was its extended coverage of the PRC, including interviews with intellectuals such as Wang Hui and Qin Hui, articles spanning topics from sociology to cinema by He Qinglian, Wang Chaohua, Zhang Yongle, Yang Lian, Henry Zhao and Lü Xinyu, and a dialogue on Tibet between Wang Lixiong and Tsering Shakya. Mark Elvin and Joel Andreas offered contrasting critiques of Arrighi’s Adam Smith in Beijing. In 2006, NLR began a series on the transformation of major metropolitan centres—Dubai, Lagos, Istanbul, Medellín, Managua, Macao; this followed the global synthesis by Mike Davis in ‘Planet of Slums’ (NLR 26), on the headlong urbanization of much of the Third World.
In a series on the ‘Movement of Movements’, the Review tracked the rise of new forms of protest in Global South and North alike, through interviews with Subcomandante Marcos, Brazil’s landless farmers, South Africa’s anti-privatization campaigners, Indian dam protesters, Chinese labour organizers, US immigrant activists. The politics and strategy of the World Social Forum were discussed by Naomi Klein, Michael Hardt, Tom Mertes, Emir Sader and ATTAC’s Bernard Cassen. New works of radical theory—by Hardt and Negri, Badiou, Klein, Unger, Bello—were given sustained critical consideration. In January 2010, NLR’s fiftieth anniversary issue carried texts by its first editor, Stuart Hall, on the early New Left; its second, Perry Anderson, on the contrasted outcomes of the Russian and Chinese Revolutions; its third, Robin Blackburn, on the race and labour struggles that forged the American Gilded Age; and its fourth, Susan Watkins, on the historical meaning of the crash of 2008—together with essays by Mike Davis on climate chaos, Tariq Ali on Obama’s wars, Teri Reynolds on Oakland’s public healthcare, Franco Moretti on Ibsen; and an interview with Eric Hobsbawm on the major world developments of the post-Cold War age.