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Author Archive | Jay Rothermel

The Sargasso Manuscript: Some Observations on Susan Sontag’s As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980

Susan Sontag.  As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980.  Edited by David Rieff.  New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012. I. David Rieff has played the last of Susan Sontag’s jokes upon the reader: to remain austerely cool, distant, and unsympathetic toward us even in “journals and notebooks.”  The barbed wire of […]

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Who Defends Syria’s Sovereignty?

NPR’s “The Diane Rehm Show” is an excellent barometer.  Each day Ms. Rehm interviews figures from the commanding heights of the Washington establishment.  Elected officials, Pentagon officers, foundation grunts, academics, media personalities and reporters, and the diplomatic corps all pass through her studio. Syria was the focus of Ms. Rehm’s first hour on 17 August. […]

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Labor’s Defeat in Wisconsin and the Specter of 2012

On March 9, 2011 Republicans at the state capitol in Madison, Wisconsin approved Governor Scott Walker’s bill ending most collective bargaining rights for union-organized state employees.  The capitol had been occupied for over a month by unionists, students, and their supporters who were opposed to the bill.  This was the first mass labor upsurge of […]

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The Contrarian

Over the years Gore Vidal has spilled a lot of ink telling readers how the mass media murdered serious book culture in the United States, but he is the only living US novelist to have his own coffee table book.  Snapshots in History’s Glare is a photo album of fine design and no small expense […]

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James Ellroy’s USA

Blood’s a Rover is the third novel in a series by James Ellroy depicting the “secret history” of U.S. government action against the Cuban Revolution, global anti-colonial struggles, and domestic Black liberation struggles circa 1955-1974.  FBI agents, government officials, and mobsters find themselves on the same programmatic page and payroll: the bi-partisan COINTELPRO program.  Ellroy […]

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Bonapartism in Everyday Life: Robert B. Parker RIP

The world of the Black Mask Boys was always slightly supercilious and more than a little self-satisfied.  Their descendants often degenerated into dime-store Freudianism (Ross Macdonald) or facile passages of second-hand Götterdämmerung (Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder novels, for instance.)  The P.I. genre’s decades of longueurs happily led to a counter-reformation best seen in the novels […]

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FTA — Now More Than Ever

FTA (Dir. Francine Parker, 1972). Preamble: “This film was made in association with the servicewomen and men stationed on the United States bases of the Pacific Rim, together with their friends whose lands they presently occupy.” Accepting his Oscar for Best Actor, Sean Penn jokingly referred to the Academy as lovers of “commies and homos.”  […]

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Anti-communism with a Liberal Face

Murali Balaji, The Professor and the Pupil: The Politics and Friendship of W. E. B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson, New York:  Nation Books, 2007. W. E. B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson have been poorly served by their biographers.  David Levering Lewis and Martin Duberman found these two US communist revolutionaries about as congenial […]

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The Struggle to Build a Coalition in Cleveland against Foreclosures, Evictions, and Utility Shut-offs: A Personal View

On November 18, 2008, activists in Cleveland, Ohio came together to form an organization called Ohio Moratorium Now on Foreclosures, Evictions, and Utility Shut-offs.  A Cleveland winter lay ahead of us in one of the most poverty-stricken, foreclosure-ridden cities in the United States.  All around the US on a daily basis came stories of working […]

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The Anti-war Quote Book

Their Peace and Ours

“Our community is expanding: MRZine viewers have increased in number, as have the readers of our editions published outside the United States and in languages other than English.  We sense a sharp increase in interest in our perspective and its history.   Many in our community have made use of the MR archive we put […]

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The End of the Libertarian Bubble

The libertarian moment in U.S. bourgeois politics is quickly passing today.  It was burning bright in the spring, when Ron Paul banners were hung from every overpass.  Soon his books will be remaindered.  Libertarians have nothing to say that will get a hearing in a period of crisis.  Libertarianism can rationalize the economic success or […]

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Of Little Faith and Liberalism

Lewis Black, Me of Little Faith, New York: Riverhead, 2008 Now even the stand-up comics are embracing godlessness.   First came the scientists, then the pundits, and now Lewis Black and his collection of autobiographical snapshots and pensées, Me of Little Faith.  In a country supposedly under the iron heel of the Christian Right, how heartening […]

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Before the Gathering Storm

Patrick Buchanan, Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War, New York, 2008. Patrick Buchanan’s Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War is an uncompromising attack on the US ruling class and its course in the world from 1917 to the present.  He says that US foreign policy today is “headed inexorably for an American Dienbienphu” (p. 423). […]

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Billy Graham: Ministering to the Powerful

Cecil Bothwell, The Prince of War: Billy Graham’s Crusade for a Wholly Christian Empire, Asheville, NC, 2007. Today we are used to the ministers and preachers playing an open role in class politics.  Usually they support the rule of our employers: railing against this or that Satan (the Kaiser, the Bolsheviks, Hitler, the USSR, Castro, […]

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Saïd Taghmaoui

Traitor

Anyone looking for a good movie about traitors can skip the new Don Cheadle vehicle Traitor.   Despite all the action movie hype, it won’t be around long, anyway. Traitor is not a movie about traitors, or a sensitive post-mortem on why people might become “traitors.”  That old chestnut “The Man without a Country” is […]

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