Subversive Bach

"Ruht wohl, ihr heiligen Gebeine" is the magisterial concluding chorus to Bach's Johannes-Passion. Simultaneously comforting and disquieting, part lullaby and part lament, invocation and injunction, it is the perfect encapsulation of Good Friday. As John Eliot Gardiner notes, the stately theme evokes the image of Christ's body being lowered reverentially, even ceremoniously, into the grave. … Continue reading Subversive Bach

Beyond Jubilee: Debt Abolition

I reviewed another new book from Haymarket—Can't Pay, Won't Pay: The Case for Economic Disobedience and Debt Abolition—for The Bias magazine. Can't Pay, Won't Pay is a product of the collective theorizing and organizing of the Debt Collective. It's an excellent primer on the history of neoliberalism's weaponization of debt as well as an effective … Continue reading Beyond Jubilee: Debt Abolition

Cardboard Darwinism & Double Transference

"Cardboard Darwinism," writes biologist Stephen Jay Gould in an essay of the same name, "is a reductionist, one-way theory about the grafting of information from environment upon organism," or what amounts to a form of biological determinism. Gould's critique of this hollowed-out version of Darwin's theory comes in the context of a larger critical appraisal … Continue reading Cardboard Darwinism & Double Transference

Dialectical Ecology

"If we dig precious things from the land, we will invite disaster." Thus reads one of the Hopi prophecies which echo throughout Philip Glass's haunting soundtrack for Koyaanisqatsi (1982). As those familiar with Godfrey Reggio's cult film know, the title itself refers to "a state of life that calls for another way of living," a … Continue reading Dialectical Ecology

Two World Views of the Russian Revolution

The Russian Revolution: A View from the Third World (Verso, 2018) compiles a series of lectures given by Walter Rodney, the black Guyanese radical, at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. (Jesse Benjamin and Robin D.G. Kelley have done amazing work in editing and presenting these lectures as a book.) Writing from the … Continue reading Two World Views of the Russian Revolution

Red Star Over the Third World

Vijay Prashad, Red Star Over the Third World (Pluto Press, 2019). Vijay Prashad's Red Star Over the Third World is an explosive little book that admirably conveys the profound impact of the October Revolution and its continued influence for communist movements in the Third World – with a focus here on Asia, the Middle East, … Continue reading Red Star Over the Third World

Los Angeles Intellectuals

As a guide to understanding the cultural mythology and socio-geographical history of the singular American city that represents both "the utopia and dystopia for advanced capitalism," there is none more incisive than Mike Davis' City of Quartz, a tour de force which offers perhaps the definitive account of the land "south of the Tehachapis" even … Continue reading Los Angeles Intellectuals

The Marx Delusion

Terry Eagleton, Why Marx Was Right (Yale, 2018). Eagleton's witty Why Marx Was Right might be more accurately called something like Marxism Is Not What Most People (viz. Those Who Have Strong Opinions on Marx but Have Probably Never Read Him) Think It Is—or, What If the Common Objections to Marxism Don't Have Anything to Do with Marx's Actual Thought, which in Fact Constitutes a Plausible … Continue reading The Marx Delusion