Why We Need Erotica

Hayley Phelan in the Los Angeles Review of Books: THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN a lot of hand-wringing around erotica, especially erotica that centers on female submission. Feminists worry that it perpetuates harmful gender dynamics, while conservatives shudder at the frank depictions of female sexuality. Intellectuals usually dismiss it as smut. In the meantime, millions of…

The Red Baron

Kwame Anthony Appiah in the New York Review of Books: Michael Young was an inconvenient child. His father, an Australian, was a musician and music critic, and his mother, who grew up in Ireland, was a painter of a bohemian bent. They were hard-up, distractible, and frequently on the outs with each other; Michael, born…

Hegelian Themes: Robert Pippin interviewed by Richard Marshall

Richard Marshall in 3:AM Magazine: Robert Pippin is an expert on Kant, Hegel, Idealism, Nietzsche, modernism and philosophy of film. Here he discusses Hegel and Kant, links between logic as metaphysics and modern developments in the philosophy of logic, self-consciousness, Hegel’s view about the social characteristic of subjectivity and normativity, John McDowell and Robert Brandom, the dynamism of reason in…

The voice of Hobsbawm: How the Marxist ideas of a British historian ended up on the bookshelves of Indian civil servants and Brazilian housewives

Emile Chabal in Aeon: Almost all Marxists have imagined themselves to be part of a global community. More than perhaps any other modern ideology, Marxism has given its adherents a sense of being connected across regions, countries and continents. The activists, thinkers, politicians, students, workers, guerrilla fighters and party apparatchiks who, throughout the 20th century,…

My Great-Grandfather the Bundist

Mary Crabapple in the New York Review of Books: During his elder years, my great-grandfather, the post-Impressionist artist Sam Rothbort, tried to paint back into existence the murdered world of his shtetl childhood. Amid the hundreds of watercolors that he called Memory Paintings, one stood out. A girl silhouetted against some cottages, her dress the same…

The Legitimacy of the Supreme Court?

Ajay Singh Chaudhary in Public Seminar: We Americans are “constitutional fetishists” in the apt phrase of the lesser-known mid-20th century critical theorist of law and economy, Franz Neumann. We tend to think that a particular order of state institutions — for example, our current incarnation of the separation-of-powers — embodies the essence of democracy instead of…

The Ultimate Sitcom

Sam Anderson in the New York Times: How do hands move in heaven? Ted Danson knows. Watch him in “The Good Place,” NBC’s circle-squaring philosophical sitcom about life, death, good, evil, redemption and frozen yogurt. As Danson speaks, his hands flutter and hover in front of him like a pair of trained birds. They poke…

Resisting the Juristocracy

Sam Moyn in The Boston Review: Affirmative action will be the first to go, with Justice Kavanaugh’s vote. A federal abortion right is also on the chopping block, with the main question remaining whether it will die in a single blow or a succession of smaller ones. The First Amendment will continue to be “weaponized”…

Old Rivals, New Allies?

Samuel Moyn reviews A Foreign Policy for the Left by Michael Walzer in Modern Age: In A Foreign Policy for the Left, Walzer has updated some of the accessible and sprightly essays he published in Dissent and elsewhere since 2001 to explain how American progressives should think about their state’s global activities. His central argument is negative: the…

The Paradox of Karl Popper

John Horgan in Scientific American: I began to discern the paradox lurking at the heart of Karl Popper’s career when, prior to interviewing him in 1992, I asked other philosophers about him. Queries of this kind usually elicit dull, generic praise, but not in Popper’s case. Everyone said this opponent of dogmatism was almost pathologically…

The Painful Sum of Things

Pankaj Mishra and Nikil Saval discuss V.S. Naipaul in n+1: Dear Nikil, You are right: Naipaul did not seek this role of the uniquely positioned reporter on the third world. He found himself in it, and much of his own complicated and tormented relationship with his subjects was bleached out, especially in his writings on…

Death of a Marxist

Vijay Prashad in The Hindu: On Sunday, August 12, Samir Amin died. With him went a generation of Egyptian Marxists who came of age in the time of Nasserism and departed with the world in tatters. Amin was born in 1931 in Cairo. He was doing his PhD in Paris when Gamal Abdel Nasser and…