Capitalism depends on various inexpensive things to stay robust, including labor — both paid and unpaid — energy, food, and nature. What happens when they all stop being cheap at the same time? Jason Moore discusses whether capitalism can survive the rising costs of business as usual. Resources: Raj Patel & Jason W. Moore, A …
Against the Grain
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One oft-ignored consequence of mass incarceration is the release of massive numbers of people from prison each year. Where do these people go, and how likely are they to find decent housing and the other resources they need? Over the course of his ethnographic work in Oakland, California, Alessandro De Giorgi discovered how neoliberal economics … Continued
Americans are struggling economically and personal finance gurus think that’s our fault. If we could just save money from small indulgences — like lattes — and sock it away in the stock market, we could end up millionaires. So claim the likes of Suze Orman and Robert Kiyosaki. But, according to journalist Helaine Olen, such … Continued
Did Lincoln free the slaves? Or did they just as much free themselves? And what were the ramifications of their seemingly impossible achievement — immediate and uncompensated emancipation — for other oppressed groups? Historian David Roediger discusses that revolutionary period in U.S. history — and the consequences of its failure today. (Encore presentation.) Resources: … Continued
Without a fundamental change in the way humans view and relate to themselves, each other, and the natural world, crises like climate change will not and cannot be addressed. So argues Michael Sukhov, who believes that the Frankfurt School theorist Herbert Marcuse’s conception of radical subjectivity can inform and energize environmental activism today.
It’s the only mass broadcast institution the left has — but it may disappear, right when listeners are tuning in and donating in droves during the Trump years. Radio historian Iain Boal and former interim Executive Director of Pacifica and Chair of the Pacifica National Board Sherry Gendelman discuss the crisis that has brought Pacifica … Continued
What do animals have to do with absolutism? Can animal bodies and representations be used to justify authoritarian rule, or can they model forms of conduct expected of a ruler’s associates? According to Peter Sahlins, animals that lived and were depicted in the royal gardens of Versailles played a key role in Louis XIV’s reign, … Continued
What are the origins of modern conservatism? The failed Goldwater campaign? Or the Cold War era discontent of midwestern small capitalists? Historian Kathryn Olmstead argues that it should be located even earlier, in the intense and massive labor unrest that took place in the fields of California in the 1930s. The response by growers and … Continued
Highlights of some of the best commentary presented on Against the Grain in 2017, featuring Gabriel Rockhill on democracy; David Hollinger on longstanding ethnoracial categories; Fern Thompsett on free universities; Sunaina Maira on the interfaith movement; and Vaughn Rasberry on W. E. B. Du Bois’s take on the Soviet Union.
In relation to the radical political groupings of his time, the British Marxist T.A. Jackson occupied the position of an outsider. So asserts Philip Bounds, who finds Jackson’s inability to conform not only refreshing but of immense value to the revolutionary project. Bounds also discusses Jackson’s understanding of the political views of Dickens and Shakespeare. … Continued
From charter schools to enterprises like Teach for America — profiteering off of public education has surged, supported by both Democrats and Republicans. But Noliwe Rooks argues that the plundering of taxpayer-funded education has a long history, going back to the era after Reconstruction. Rooks discusses that history — and whether we’re now seeing the … Continued