A materialist history of capital and empire, through the lens of the German-American petrochemical industry. What does it mean to see oil, not just as an energy source or transport fuel, but as primary material for contemporary commodity culture—the chemical basis for a synthetic world of things?
Machiavelli, Galileo and The Censors
Under the Inquisition, twin defences against the challenge of natural and political science, hinging on the distinction of reasoning simpliciter and sub conditione. A striking commonality in the cases of Machiavelli and Galileo, targets of the censors and progenitors of upheaval in Renaissance thought.
Situationism à L’envers?
Building on the extended review by Cédric Durand in NLR 116/117, Perry Anderson seeks clues to the politics and method behind Adam Tooze’s Crashed in the author’s wider oeuvre. From the Peace of 1919 to the dollar swap-lines of 2008, the oft-heralded rise of a beneficent American hegemon.
Taking the Temperature of History
From Vichy-era rural conservatism, via communism and Furet, to a grand synthesis in ecological history, culminating decades of empirical research. Portrait of Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, historical materialist and quasi-reactionary, founder of historical climatology and last outpost of Annales-school historiography.
Civilization: A Grammar
Cameos from the motley, tangled lives of history’s major spatial divisions are woven with reflections on the Americanization of French culture, revealing the grammar of hegemony—imprint, impress, imperium—behind the rise, rule and fall of civilizations.
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.
Grandeur and Misery of the Social State
Kafka’s day job, defending injured factory workers, as starting point for an illuminating study of the West’s social-protection mechanisms. Mixed legacies and uncertain future of a system built to mitigate the tensions of industrialization.
Unlike its neighbours, Brazil has yet to confront the crimes of its military dictatorship. As a Truth Commission sifts evidence of torture, killings and disappearances—many of whose survivors are now in high office—what will be the upshot of a belated accounting with the past?
Cultures of Empire: Greece and Rome
How was Roman imperial rule over Greece legitimated in the minds of conquerors and subjects alike? The mutual reverberations of an Augustan cultural revolution that brought Hellenism to the empire’s core and diverted Greeks to the glories of the past.