Month: March 2020

Taking the Last Flight Out in Times of Lockdown

  They gave us 48 hours to return home before all the airports in the country would shut down to contain the spread of Covid-19. There are huge numbers of us outside the mother country, numbers the size of which are mostly familiar to the Third World. So I rushed home as the skies were being closed and barricaded, managing to catch the last flight back. Who leaves elderly parents alone in the mother country in times of crises? Not those from the Arab world. Not if you want to die easy. Not if you want to live easy,...

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The Modern Decameron, Book 1

In Boccaccio’s Decameron, there were seven women and three men, self-quarantined in the time of plague, Florence, 1348.  The women were Pampinea, elected queen by her peers because she was so decisive, insightful, and cheerful; Fiammetta (Boccaccio’s nickname for his lover in real life); Filomena; Emilia; Lauretta; Neifile; and Elisa.  The men, all dashing and handsome per Boccaccio’s specifications, were Pamfilo, Filostrato, and Dioneo (the last a stand-in, according to Rigg’s translation, for Giovanni himself).  Book/Novel 1 commences when Pampinea commands the bashful Pamfilo to start the stories that will become The Decameron. He rises to the occasion and tells us, with surprising eloquence and detail, of a man, Ser Chiappelletto (the Cheater) who lived a life of crime and died a saint.  This is my retelling for our plague time. ____ Now that I’m locked up with you, ladies and gentlemen, I withhold the compliment when it comes to these two punkass motherfuckers, men who still carry their weapons as if  they might protect their impoverished souls against the pestilence that waits outside the doors of this church, now closed against a disease that would waste the world, yes, now I will, as commanded, tell the story of a man whose transgressions made him a saint, a man whose sins became virtues, a man so steeped in the foul sewage of iniquity that he could say shit you...

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In the streets a serenade

In the streets a serenade Bonnie Honig Emergencies like the current public health crisis can be occasions to retrench democracy or deepen it. Which will it be? In England, local elections are being deferred for a year as part of a more general crowd avoidance strategy designed to limit the spread of the new coronavirus ( England’s electoral commission recommended deferring the local elections until autumn but the government has opted for a delay of one year instead, for reasons that are “not clear,” an MP said. For the moment, however, West End theater performances have not been cancelled...

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Interview with John Judis

Founding editor of Socialist Revolution, then foreign editor of In These Times, John Judis has gone on to serve as a writer and editor at a number of more mainstream journals including The New Republic, The New York Times Magazine, and the Washington Post.  His latest books are The Populist Explosion (2016) and The Nationalist Revival (2016). This interview was conducted by James Livingston and Bruce Robbins in April...

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