It is devastating to witness the death throes of so many cities. Splendid, opulent, hectic, for centuries, sometimes millennia, they had survived the vicissitudes of history: war, pestilence, earthquakes. But now, one after another, they are withering, emptying, becoming reduced to theatrical backdrops against which a bloodless pantomime is staged. Where once life throbbed, and cantankerous humanity elbowed its way, pushing and shoving, now you will find only snack bars and stalls—all of them the same—selling ‘local specialities’: muslins, batiks, cottons, beach wraps, bracelets. What was once a living torrent, full of shouts and fury, is now safely enclosed in a travel brochure. The death sentence is delivered from an elegant building in Paris—Place Fontenoy, Seventh Arrondissement—after a long drawn-out bureaucratic process. The verdict is a label that cannot be removed—a brand, stamped on forever.
’My institution subscribes to NLR, why can't I access this article?’
By the same author:
Rise and Fall of the Daily Paper
The historical arc of print journalism, from its emergence as the instrument of a rising bourgeoisie through a twentieth-century heyday, buoyed by consumer advertising—and coming retreat to a subscription-only luxury market under the new oligarchy.
Geographies of Ignorance
De-exoticization of the faraway in the age of inter-continental travel, matched by growing blanks in the map of national space. Marco D’Eramo on the selective epistemologies of globalization.
The Not So Eternal City
Angry and witty in equal measure, a blistering native account of Rome’s fate at the hands of avaricious developers, insensate priests, neo-liberal ex-communists and stupefied tourists: corruption, dilapidation, fossilization, Disneyfication and—now, above all—cementification of Europe’s oldest capital.
They, The People
Marco D’Eramo on Jan-Werner Müller, What Is Populism? German contribution to a burgeoning genre on opponents of the liberal order.
The history of global capitalism as inscribed in the changing face of the port city, from the teeming harbours of sail-era Amsterdam via the industrial hoards of the Cokeport to the great abstract desert of contemporary Rotterdam’s container terminals.
Why the Restoration of 1815, sealed in Vienna by Emperor, Tsar and King, brought not the longed-for return to the past but the arrival of a novel form of inter-state relations—presaging the birth of the ‘international community’.
Populism and the New Oligarchy
Tracking the terms ‘populism’ and ‘the people’ from the 19th century, Marco D’Eramo offers a striking new interpretation of their current applications—the first levelled indiscriminately at any political force that steps outside the bounds of convention, the second banished from the scene.
Marco D’Eramo on Sergio Luzzatto, Padre Pio. A scholarly view of Italy’s most famous cleric and the cult he inspired.