To which thinkers should we turn in a bid to ground a new conceptualization of political agency—or to determine whether such a move has been nullified by the transformations of the last decades? Gopal Balakrishnan on Machiavelli’s parables of innovation and readings of him from Rousseau to Schmitt, Strauss to Gramsci. The Florentine as strategist of beginning anew, in the context of historic defeat.
In the first part of a major engagement with David Harvey’s New Imperialism, Giovanni Arrighi sets out the interlocking dynamics, spatial and temporal, of capitalist development and imperialism. Should US difficulties in Iraq and the ballooning current-account deficit be read as symptoms of a deeper-lying crisis, a shift from hegemony to dominance presaging the rise of a new East Asian challenger?
As tensions are ratcheted up across the Taiwan Strait, Wang Chaohua analyses the distinctive trajectory of national consciousness on the island. Contradictions of identity, as the legacies of KMT and Cold War confront local particularities and democratic impulses, and possibilities for an exit from the impasses of geography and history.
In the age of franchise museums and mega-shows, what role for the artist? Borrowings from the revolutionary avant-garde in the practices of present-day creator-impresarios, seamlessly fusing the realms of commerce and culture—and the refusenik stance of Kabakov’s conceptual counter-projects.
The Ramallah doctor and activist, general secretary of the Al Mubadara coalition, on struggles against the Israeli Occupation, from the popular movement of the first Intifada to the tactical errors of the second, via the disaster of Oslo. As Abu Mazen is levered into place, what alternatives can combat both IDF stranglehold and the flyblown Palestinian Authority?
Yang Lian on Chen Guidi and Wu Chuntao, Zhongguo nongmin diaocha. A catalogue of the iniquities visited on rural China as the CCP safeguards the ‘investment environment’ of the coastal cities, at the cost of the countryside. Impoverishment and extortion of 40 per cent of the world’s peasants, in a survey suppressed by the PRC authorities.
Robin Blackburn on Anatol Lieven, America Right or Wrong. Universal principles and local ressentiments as twin motors of US nationalism, in a study of the ambiguous relation between patriotic creed and heartland ethos.
John Newsinger on David Anderson, Histories of the Hanged and Caroline Elkins, Britain’s Gulag. Complementary accounts of British colonial crimes in Kenya. The throttling of a liberation movement by gallows and gaol, re-examined in the shadow of Abu Ghraib.