With the collisions over Ukraine, the contradictions in Russia’s relations with the West have been sharpened by sanctions and economic crisis. Perry Anderson on the spectre of Great Power status that still informs the post-multinational nation—and why, despite all the Kremlin’s attempts at integration with the US–EU, the country remains indigestible.
The descendant of Dutch bargees, Jan Breman has been investigating workers’ lives for half a century, travelling from rural Gujarat to the Javanese uplands and now coastal China. The social relations patterning control of land and labour framed in historical perspective, from colonial plantations to the globalized informal economy.
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’.
From Nietzsche to Lukács, decadence was a matter of cultural disintegration and social atomization under pressure of capitalist modernity, but such talk has dwindled. Malcolm Bull asks whether the private languages of conceptual art are decadent or undecadent. And is the market a substitute communicator of shared values?
In The Structure of World History, Kōjin Karatani attempts a radical reconstruction of historical materialism, from early nomadism to post-capitalist society. Mauss, Hobbes and Marx mobilized as companion thinkers of exchange; Kant as ethico-political prophet. Rob Lucas queries the speculative history of one of Japan’s leading public intellectuals.
Alexander Zevin on Douglas Newton, The Darkest Days. Exploding the myth of Britain’s restraint during the countdown to war in 1914.
David Simpson on Mark Greif, The Age of the Crisis of Man. Crystalization of liberal universalist discourses through the eras of FDR and McCarthy.
Rachel Malik on John Frow, Character and Person. The fictional figure as both textual construct and object of psychic identification, from Roman comedy to DeLillo.