Reflections on the challenge of Afflicted Powers, from the Retort collective. How is America’s forward policy since 9/11 best explained, and what does it tell us about the nature of the inter-state system today? Has the age of Great Power rivalry passed, and if so, what kind of geopolitical order is replacing it? Capital, spectacle and war in the vortex of the Middle East.
A panorama of Iraq two and a half years after the Anglo-American invasion. Britain’s leading reporter on the country talks about the life conditions of the population; the springs of the resistance; the relations between Sunni and Shia communities; the position of the Kurds; the performance of the us military; and the historical precedents and possible outcomes of the second Western seizure of Iraq.
Theorists of political justice have long taken the nation-state to be the relevant unit for their proposals. Nancy Fraser argues that the time for this is past. The necessary interconnection between struggles for economic redistribution and social recognition now requires that issues of political representation be re-tabled at a global rather than national level—where decisions affecting the fate of all are increasingly taken, or not taken.
What made the greatest Brazilian novel of the nineteenth century, Machado de Assis’s Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas, a masterpiece of world literature? The strange fate of realism in an ex-colonial society, in which liberalism was a ruling ideology, modernity a universal ideal, and slavery still an everyday fact of life.
Lifting, swiping, zapping: popular expressions that have been aesthetic tactics since Dada. Sven Lütticken recasts the history of such practices of appropriation—not excluding those of Warhol or Debord, sometimes misplaced—as so many exercises in mythology. Anticipated by Flaubert, theorized by Barthes, staged by Broodthaers, is time running out for such creative misuses of past or present, as ‘intellectual property rights’ tighten?
Jack Goody on Maurice Godelier, Métamorphoses de la parenté. Kinship as the central concern of anthropology, and its place in French and British traditions of the discipline. The universality—or otherwise—of incest taboos; their interpretation by Lévi-Strauss; and the role of beliefs versus interests in generating them.
Donald Sassoon on Victoria de Grazia, Irresistible Empire: America’s Advance Through 20th-Century Europe. How the US reshaped European ideals of consumption and culture, from the stately world of Thomas Mann to that of McDonald’s and José Bové. All the way from the club to the kitchen, learning from Duluth and San Bernardino.
Vivek Chibber on Ellen Meiksins Wood,Empire of Capital. Three historical forms of imperial dominion—based on land, trade and production—and their end-point in the sway of capital today. The function of territorial states in an extra-territorial system of profit and accumulation.