Something to read, perhaps


Just something I found on the web:

Red-Brown Alliances: Russia, Ukraine, Syria, And The Western Left.

The growth of political “confusionism”, the mixture of “conspi” (conspiratorial), nationalist, far-right and apparently ‘left-wing’ has been one of the features of the last years. This is one of the factors that has made overt anti-semitism an issue today.

This group trait explains all kinds of extremism

Research from my PrejudiceLab at Goldsmiths, University of London shows that people who score high on the collective narcissism scale are particularly sensitive to even the smallest offences to their group’s image. As opposed to individuals with narcissistic personality, who maintain inflated views of themselves, collective narcissists exaggerate offences to their group’s image, and respond to them aggressively.

What Causes Some Cities to Become Sites of Revolution?

Instead, Rapport’s book demonstrates how attention to the specific geography and social forces of a city can illuminate a critical question about which the new global history has little to say: Why do people in some places—but not others—become radicalized, driving revolutions into previously uncharted territory?

Eliminating the mortgage tax deduction could boost homeownership

Eliminating the mortgage interest deduction causes house prices to decline, increases homeownership, decreases mortgage debt, and improves welfare. Our findings challenge the widely held view that repealing the preferential tax treatment of mortgages would depress homeownership.

Yanis Varoufakis’s argument that there is a ‘Marxist’ case for staying in the EU isn’t as simple as it seems

In the abstract, the transnationality of the single market fits with left-wing ideals. But let's look at the reality. Every mass social movement that has laid a national democratic challenge has found itself confronted by the infrastructure of the EU

How Did Trump Win? Follow the Dark Money

You say, how do you know it’s dark money? Obviously, it’s not all provided. The answer is very straightforward. We’ll see this cash coming in from an entity, usually has kind of a fake charitable name attached, and then you will see the cash coming out but no cash going in. That’s what they’re legally allowed to do because everybody knows these are not charities. They are in fact there to do politics. And so, you can tell the dark money easily. When we look at the dark money for Trump in the final weeks we were astonished, ’cause Trump had — and there’s actually a clip of Trump saying he wouldn’t take dark money.

The Cognitive Biases That Convince You the World Is Falling Apart

There are two main contributing factors to our declinism attitudes: the biases known as the “reminiscence bump” and the “positivity effect.” The first, as clinical psychiatrist Dale Archer explains, is the tendency for adults to have more vivid, pleasant memories and feelings of nostalgia for events that occurred during adolescence and adulthood. Basically, the world tends to seem like a brighter, better place when we look back at the good ol’ days of our youth, but the reality is that we were just less stressed about work, probably didn’t have to worry about money, and didn’t pay much attention to the news.

The positivity effect, on the other hand, is the idea that as we get older we tend to remember more positive things than negative.


Mark Fisher: Capitalist realism

k-punk's political incarnation wrote one of the few decidedly Marxist books that has acquired bestselling status and is widely known - even to the degree that "capitalist realism" now most often means what Mark says it means in this book. And a good book it is, admirably short and precise. It attacks our neoliberal shithole head on - but also, and as importantly, has issues with the whole post-something and identity politics and what not. Call me an Alt-Marxist if you want: I shall not complain.

Susie Steiner: Missing, Presumed

A nice read with a twist: a police officer that is a dropout from an Oxbridge institution, drinks a wee bit too much, drives an old and eccentric car, and has troubles with the old love life: not Morse, but a woman. And a story that also twists and turns and does manage a plausible but still surprising hard left at the very end.

David Peace: Nineteen Seventy-Four

Part of a trilogy of Yorkshire Noir, and dark they are indeed. Not a nice place in any way, Yorkshire, in the year 1974. We are left to somewhat root for a young investigating journo, but even he is an absolute dick in many ways. The rest of the cast are hardly much better. But books such as these show that a political thriller does not have to heavy handed nor does it need to wear rosy, tinted glasses.

Megan Miranda: All the Missing Girls

The South, it is hot and humid and 2 girls - years apart - disappear. The trick is that the book is almost entirely told backwards which gives the whole unreliable narrator thing (and that is also present) an interesting spin. Nice read, but once you get beyond the awesomeness of the narratological trick, exactly how interesting are the left overs?

Jon McGregor: Reservoir 13

So, another book about a missing girl. Except not like any other, quite. As we follow the ebb and flow of life in a valley in the North of England through 13 years, a lot happens and a lot does not. Any moment we expect something to happen, Rebecca to be found, but instead we see and hear and smell life in the village as seasons come and go, years come and go, people grow up, fall in love and fall out of love, get sick, die, start over, and the badgers and the foxes do their thing in the woods, year after year. The memory of the girl is always there, in the back, but not more prominent than the fact that somebody burned burn a shed, the school got a new heating system, the snow fell in the next valley, and the village lost the annual cricket match, yet again. The prose is glorious throughout, but you need to pay attention, slow down, and let the life in the village flow past you.

Sunday morning at the old Reeperbahn.

A reading list

As always procrastinating. Someday I will write something my own self; meanwhile:

What are the origins of the alt-right? Hint: It’s not as new as you think:

To call a tendency deviant — as we might be tempted to do with the alt-right — is already to discount the responsibility of the orthodoxy in breeding the deviancy. Could it be that “new cultural items” are introduced into the cultic milieu through the agency of the orthodoxy to the extent that the cultic milieu becomes a useless concept? How, in fact, do we separate the dominant and the variant? When the president of the United States is in large part sympathetic to the so-called cultic deviancy, and when he is in fact backed by nearly half the population, then the framework really falls apart.

How to defend capitalism:

Dear right-wingers.

Capitalism as it currently exists has come into question; huge numbers of voters support nationalization of utilities and widespread price and rent controls. This poses the question: how can you defend actually-existing capitalism?

Forty Years of The Firm: Trump and the Coasian Grotesque:

In the last year, it’s occurred to me, on more than one occasion, that Trump is a Coasian grotesque. Making deals and giving orders: that’s all he knows how to do. Except that he doesn’t. As we’re seeing, he’s really bad at both.

The white supremacist origins of "public choice theory," the bedrock of contemporary libertarian thought:

The theory has its origin in John C. Calhoun, a proponent of slavery, and James M. Buchanan, an opponent of the civil rights movement. Both used the language of oppression and freedom to defend elitism, characterizing any kind of redistributive movement as a form of oppressive control exercised by the majority (poor people, which, in America, overwhelmingly means racialized people) against a downtrodden, endangered minority (the one percent, again, overwhelmingly white people).

The Basic Income and the Cult of Work:

We live in a society that makes a fetish out of work. One's trajectory through the education system is (supposedly) guided by getting a decent job at the end of it. People's engagement with social security is supposed to be a temporary thing with the object of throwing them back into the workplace at the earliest opportunity. And if people aren't working, they're feckless and bone idle and made to feel that way - never mind how unemployment always exceeds the number of vacancies.

On Being Midwestern: The Burden of Normality:

If the South depends on having black people to kick around, Midwestern whites often see people of color as ever new and out of place, decades after the Great Migration. The thinking goes like this: America is an experiment, carried out in its purest form here in the Midwest; people of color threaten the cohesion on which the whole experiment may depend. Thus, while Southern history yields story after story of the most savage, intimate racist violence—of men castrated and barbecued before smiling crowds, dressed as for a picnic—Midwestern history is a study in racial quarantine.

The Problems with a Large-Scale Shift to Organic Farming:

A new study, led by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, gives the impression that a large-scale shift to organic farming would largely bring environmental benefits. And indeed, that’s how the paper has been covered. But if we look under the hood, the findings are dependent on several pretty questionable assumptions about diets and production systems that, together, make the paper’s conclusions hard to take too seriously.


Joyeuses Fêtes! Eight “street portraits” from Sarah Meunier: eight reasons to love suburban Paris


Post-modernists may be said to have developed a paradigm that clashes sharply with the one in this book. I have argued that modern life and art and thought have the capacity for perpetual self-critique and self-renewal. Post-modernists maintain that the horizon of modernity is closed, its energies exhausted—in effect, that modernity is passé. Post-modernist social thought pours scorn on all the collective hopes for moral and social progress, for personal freedom and public happiness, that were bequeathed to us by the modernists of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. These hopes, post moderns say, have been shown to be bankrupt, at best vain and futile fantasies

Marshall Berman, All That Is Solid Melts Into Air:The Experience Of Modernity


Elena Ferrante's Naples – a photo essay

Some books read

Nathan Hill: The Nix

10 years in the works, apparently, and a whole lot of meticulous research. An amazing debut that immediately brings Pynchon to mind. Except it it nothing like Pynchon after all, except for some of the pyrotechnics involved. Basically, and what you realize at the very end, a family saga and a saga of remembrance and redemption and forgiveness. It is stretched out across troubled times - Chicago 1968, the Trump era, and points in-between.- There are a lot of poignant stabs at cultural and political phenomena, but in the final conclusion this hardly matters: for this is an unusual story that breaks out of the postmodern mold is seemed to be in. See, this is it: for most of the characters the end is a happy or at least hopeful one. The world might be going down the drains, but they are capable of saving and savoring some resemblances of happiness. Oh, and by the way: highly recommended.

Jan-Olof Olsson: De tre fra Haparanda

I don't think this novel is available in English. I read a Danish translation. It is a very likable World War I caper about three young men stumbling into an adventure that includes smuggles, ballet dancers, revolutionaries, and so on so forth. It is enjoyable, but lacks the final oomph – in the end we readers, just like the main protagonist and narrator, look back at something that could have been really wild and crazy as something decidedly muted and distant that one can look back upon with some nostalgia.

John Le Carré: A legacy of spies The final (or maybe not?) tome in the saga of one George Smiley and his entourage. We revisit the era of the spy that came in from the cold, see things from a different angle and through different eyes. As always, a book with a lot of human insight and accumulated wisdom. As Le Carré has gotten older, there is less cloaks-and-daggers and more human condition.

Peter May: The Lewis trilogy The three books, set in remote Lewis of the Outer Hebrides are nominally crime stories, but as we know, the better crime stories are actually much more than that. And so it is with these. Over the three volumes, recurring themes of loss and grief, identity and identity loss, and family and love and friendship appear and are exercised and bent and reshaped. The main, recurring characters are strongly drawn and shown with their warts and all. A great, accidental find.

Matthew Carr: The Devils of Cardona

Basically a police procedural with an investigating judge, his muscle, his secretary, a beautiful damsel in distress, a nefarious conspiracy, and much more. But it unfolds in 16th century Aragon, the damsel happens to be a feminine sodomite, the secretary probably a Muslim, and the inquisition lurks in the background. If you stripped of the colorful garments, it might just another run-on-old-mill such story, but the meticulous research and great knowledge from the author makes it worthwhile. I picked up quite a bit I did not know about Spain and Aragon and so on at this time.


Joseph Rodriguez’s Photos of 1970s NYC

Bauhaus costume parties were simply incredible


Wim Wenders on his Polaroids – and why photography is now over

Wenders, too, now regards photography as a thing of the past. “It’s not just the meaning of the image that has changed – the act of looking does not have the same meaning. Now, it’s about showing, sending and maybe remembering. It is no longer essentially about the image. The image for me was always linked to the idea of uniqueness, to a frame and to composition. You produced something that was, in itself, a singular moment. As such, it had a certain sacredness. That whole notion is gone.”

A mixed bag of interesting destinations


“A gift and a strong social conscience”: Ella Murtha on her mother’s astoundingly truthful photography




COURAGE yet, my brother or my sister!
Keep on—Liberty is to be subserv'd whatever occurs;
That is nothing that is quell'd by one or two failures, or any num-
ber of failures,
Or by the indifference or ingratitude of the people, or by any
unfaithfulness, Or the show of the tushes of power, soldiers, cannon, penal statutes.

What we believe in waits latent forever through all the continents,
Invites no one, promises nothing, sits in calmness and light, is
positive and composed, knows no discouragement,
Waiting patiently, waiting its time.




René Magritte: 130 photos featured in world-first exhibition

Get on the train


The first traveling library