A reading list
As always procrastinating. Someday I will write something my own self; meanwhile:
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.
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?
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 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).
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.
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.
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.