Against the Grain

Walter Benjamin on Violence

Walter Benjamin, a German-Jewish philosopher associated with the Frankfurt School, had a unique take on the origins and manifestations of violence in the world. James Martel discusses how Benjamin thought about the various forms of violence under capitalism, and whether he thought violence and coercion could be eradicated. Brad Evans and Terrell Carver, eds., Histories … Continued


The Environmental Protection Agency is tasked with safeguarding the public from toxic exposure.  But Jonathan Latham, executive director of the Bioscience Research Project, says that The Poison Papers — an enormous trove of documents — indicate that the EPA and the chemical industry often work hand in hand to mislead us into thinking that toxic … Continued


Against the Grain

Langston Hughes’s World

Langston Hughes wore many hats: writer, poet, world traveler, racial justice advocate, and central figure of the Harlem Renaissance. He spoke at U.C. Berkeley about his life and ideas, and some of his letters were published in a book co-edited by MaryLouise Patterson. Patterson’s leftist parents, Louise Thompson Patterson and William (“Pat”) Patterson, were friends … Continued