Kōtoku Shūsui and Anti-Imperialism in Japan

Against the Grain

He was a trailblazing critic of imperialism, but chances are you’ve never heard his name.  The radical Japanese journalist Kotoku Shusui, who moved from socialism to anarchism, wrote a seminal critique of imperialism — before Hobson and Lenin — and led the movement against empire in Japan.  Robert Tierney discusses Kotoku, his classic work Imperialism, … Continued

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Against the Grain

Free Universities

As universities become increasingly infiltrated and transformed by capitalist logics, what do free universities add to the educational, social, and political landscape? Fern Thompsett, a Ph.D. student at McGill University, co-founded a free university in Australia; she’s also researched more than two dozen free university projects in North America. Thompsett describes both the free-of-charge and … Continued


Against the Grain

Habermas and Adorno on Reason and Rationality

What happens when “reason” is in decline, when the world appears to be moving in the direction of irrationality and political pathology? Martin Jay discusses how two Frankfurt School thinkers, Theodor Adorno and Jürgen Habermas, tried to salvage a critical version of reason. Whereas Adorno looked to art and aesthetics, Habermas appealed to practices of … Continued


Against the Grain

Fannie Lou Hamer and Thomas Merton

Fannie Lou Hamer and Thomas Merton were both, as Albert Raboteau puts it, religious radicals. Hamer became an outspoken advocate for racial and social justice; she risked her life to secure voting rights and political equality for African Americans. Thomas Merton was a Catholic contemplative who spoke out forcefully against racism, militarism, and rampant consumerism. … Continued


Each week brings another tragic account of the police injuring or killing someone, usually poor and of color.  So shouldn’t we support reforms to make the police more accountable? Alex Vitale has a surprising answer.  The sociologist discusses how liberal police reforms legitimize an illegitimate institution.  He argues instead that the reform we should get … Continued


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