Mathematics and Modern Literature
If modernist literature has been fascinated by the possibilities of mathematical formalism, mathematicians have repaid the compliment in their use of that paramount avant-garde form: the manifesto. Here we publish extracts from Alice Bamford’s bravura treatment of experimentation at Bourbaki and Oulipo.
Engels’s Second Theory
The author of Buying Time detects a state-political supplement to Marxian social theory in Engels’s analyses of 19th-century militarism. The interplay of modes of production and destruction, class struggle and international warfare, from the Crimea to the War on Terror.
A Tale of Two Marxisms
The political-intellectual career of sociologist Erik Olin Wright (1947–2019), traced by a friend and collaborator. Amid the demise of actually existing socialism, a passage from class analysis to utopian imaginings, science to critique. Can Polanyi offer insights on how these strands might be joined?
K-Punk At Large
The most powerful critique of neoliberal culture since the crisis, issued from the margins of the blogosphere. Simon Hammond traces the arc of Mark Fisher’s career, from accelerationism to Capitalist Realism and beyond, in a striking comparison with the critical cultural studies of Stuart Hall.
Ben Anderson 1936–2015
Affecting tribute to the author of Imagined Communities, tracking a friend’s life from birth in pre-war Yunnan to exclusion from Suharto’s Indonesia, area studies at Cornell to delvings into popular Siam, recovery of the international context of Filipino revolt against Spain, and final return to Java.
Antonio Candido 1918–2017
Pioneer analyst of a Brazilian literary space, Candido surveyed Western cultural centres and their contending theories, not simply to measure up local experience, but to test them against it. Portrait of a gifted teacher and literary critic, subtle master of his country’s complex ex-colonial condition.
The Soul of the Eurozone
The character, career and intellectual output of Europe’s most consequential politician, Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble—longest-standing member of parliament in his country’s history, superintendent of national reunification and drill-master of continental austerity, obliged to serve in the shadow of a muddle-through mediocrity.
As the world of Soviet Communism disintegrates around him, a young Russian discovers the thought and moral example of the great Italian revolutionary who was his grandfather. Antonio Gramsci Jnr on his legacy, and the remarkable family of his grandmother, Giulia Schucht.
The Heirs of Gramsci
Transformations of the Prison Notebooks’ fertile problematic of hegemony by a quartet of thinkers—Hall, Laclau, Guha, Arrighi—from Jamaica, Buenos Aires, Bengal, Milan. Coercion and persuasion, ideology and economic interest, national and inter-state systems as means for thinking Thatcherism’s ascendancy, populist strategies, peasant rebellion, post-colonial rule and the geo-political logics of American power.
In the second part of a sweeping reconstruction of the development of Marx’s thought, the ways in which bourgeois society came to be replaced by capitalism as the cardinal object of investigation after the collapse of the revolutions of 1848, and the political lessons of his passage across that watershed for rebellions in the new century.
Opening salvo of a two-part reconstruction of Marx’s intellectual passage through the Hegelian—then Ricardian—conceptual landscape of his early years, taking him to the threshold of his mature architectonics of capitalism as a mode of production. From a starting-point in the philosophical empyrean of the 1830s to a turning-point with the economic upturn of the early 1850s, the development of one sketch of an historical materialism to the brink of another.
Rethinking the Republic
Nowhere else in the West does a single figure occupy the same position in national life as the political writer Fintan O’Toole in Ireland. The first full consideration of the cursus and corpus of this powerful critic of the island’s establishment, and the society over which it has presided. Merits and limitations of another understanding of ‘republicanism’ in Ireland.
Retrospective on the liberated life and work of Alexander Cockburn, whose last book, A Colossal Wreck, completes a dazzling triptych. Shaping influences of family, place and political epoch on a singularly radical temperament, and the keen-edged prose in which it found expression.
“This issue of the journal is devoted to a two-part study of American foreign policy by Perry Anderson. ‘Imperium’ examines the objectives and outcomes of us world power; ‘Consilium’, the thinking of its policy elite. nlr has run three special numbers before: Tom Nairn . . .” read more
Alexander Cockburn, 1941–2012
A tribute to Alexander Cockburn—director of CounterPunch, Marxian environmentalist, long-standing editor of New Left Review. Robin Blackburn traces his path from County Cork to Soho, Havana to Manhattan, the Florida Keys to California’s Lost Coast.
Tony Judt: A Cooler Look
Few Anglophone intellectuals have received such posthumous acclaim as the Director of the Remarque Institute, leading contributor to the New York Review of Books, and late champion of social-democracy. Regularly compared to George Orwell, if not Isaiah Berlin, does any careful examination of his oeuvre sustain such panegyrics?
Decisions and Indecisions
Where liberal thought has tried to quarantine the ‘dangerous mind’ of Carl Schmitt, recent revisions have found portents of contemporary imperial hubris in his analysis of victors’ justice. Warning against such 'rehabilitations', Benno Teschke detects a unifying set of preoccupations that render the thinker's transition from hyper-authoritarianism to fascism logical.
The Winding Paths of Capital
The author of Long Twentieth Century and Adam Smith in Beijing, interviewed by David Harvey, on dispossession and development, capitalist crises, China’s future. The political education of a teenage factory-manager, via African liberation struggles and autonomia operaia; and influences—Braudel, Gramsci, Smith, Marx—in Arrighi’s work.
Cosmopolitanism’s Alien Face
The interweaving of literary affinities and cross-cultural influences, occluded by postcolonialist discourse, that characterized a vanished cosmopolitan modernism. Amit Chaudhuri explores paradoxes of belonging and defamiliarization in Bloomsbury and Bombay.
Roads to Renegacy
A philosophe engagé discusses the ‘wrong turn’ taken by so many erstwhile French Maoists, locating its sources within the landscape of 1970s militancy. The perils of politics as ambition, as fashion, as absolute—paving a mediatized path from 68 to Sarkozy.
No Forbidden Zone in Reading?
For a decade, the monthly review Dushu has published some of China’s most incisive debates on the country’s culture and economy. Zhang Yongle’s survey relates the journal’s trajectory to the PRC’s dramatic development course and ruptures within its intelligentsia.
Zion’s Rebel Daughter
Principally known for works on totalitarianism and the Eichmann trial, Hannah Arendt’s powerful and prophetic critiques of the Zionist project, written in the 1940s, have rarely been discussed. Gabriel Piterberg tracks the evolution of this brave and independent thinker.
A Hollow Crown
Duncan McCargo on Paul Handley, The King Never Smiles. Taboo-breaking biography of the world’s longest-serving monarch, Thailand’s Bhumibol Adulyadej. Is the throne’s mystique, carefully reconsolidated in the 20th century, now threatened by the lottery of primogeniture?
Liberation from bourgeois marriage, central radical demand from Sand and Kollontai to Piercy, is subsumed in the age of global capital by calls for same-sex property rights. Wollen’s unmade film treatment celebrates loves unsanctified by church or state—de Beauvoir’s relationships with Sartre and Algren.
An Arabian Master
The remarkable life and literary career of Abd al-Rahman Munif, author of the Cities of Salt quintet. Sabry Hafez charts the emergence of Munif’s searing fictions. Evocations of desert traditions, foreign interference, the deformities of despotism and lessons of resistance.
Over-Man and the Commune
Peter Thomas on Domenico Losurdo, Nietzsche, il ribelle aristocratico and Jan Rehmann, Postmoderner Links-Nietzscheanismus. Two deconstructions of contemporary treatments of Nietzsche, restoring the virulence of his thought to its nineteenth-century contexts.
Political education in the dungeons of Barcelona, and the converging tracks of Filipino and Cuban revolutionaries as the 400-year-old Spanish empire enters its final throes. Benedict Anderson concludes his exploration of the late 19th-century world setting of José Rizal’s explosive anti-colonial novels.
In the World-Shadow of Bismarck and Nobel
After the literary revelations of ‘Nitroglycerine in the Pomegranate’ (NLR 27), a new political reading of José Rizal’s astonishing last novel. Imperial power, anarchist bombings and anti-colonial insurrection in the gifted young Filipino’s vision of a 19th-century global landscape.