See, we made it back. We’re getting the hang of this magazine thing, due in no small part to the rigorous standards of Matthew Friedman, our managing editor, who does everything but write the copy. He has put us on a regular schedule, of course, with deadlines and all—next issue out May 15th—but his more important accomplishment is acting on the reality of the future of this project. Thanks, Matt.
This issue mixes politics and letters as mischievously as we can. We lead with a photo essay from James Clifford, a leading historian and theorist of anthropology. He writes of gravity, but turns this property of bodies and mass into the weight of the past, where the spare, scoured slabs of 18th-century gravestones still erupt from the useless plain of a cemetery, reminding us that politics is possibility plus time.
We then print a précis of a paper by Etienne Balibar, the philosopher and social theorist who has been etching a new atlas of political emotion by insisting that liberty and equality, no matter how modern your definition of either, are not only compatible as commitments, they’re indispensable to each other. Our associate editor, Bruce Robbins, fleshes out Balibar’s annotations, and in doing so writes his own quiet manifesto.
Then we turn to the politics of new cultural artifacts with essays by Lisa Fluet on the film Spotlight, by Lauren Goodlad on the Danish TV series Borgen, and by Olivia Rutigliano on the fact that Oscars have a habit of being stolen. Fluet asks how the “pride of place” that attends recent cinema set deeply in Boston translates as a kind of anti-social celibacy, an abstention we might read as crime. The movie looks less earnest and more important after her reading.
Goodlad wonders if “Borgen” means that women have become bearers of cultural change because the series—or the audience that has responded to it—somehow assumes that men are more or less incapable of the moral and political struggles women must face when they choose the public life of a career. And here we thought Denmark was different. The series feels even more real, or realistic, take your pick, after this reading.
“Stolen Oscars” is something of a coup for us because Vanity Fair, inspired by Rutigliano’s essay here, will be publishing a sequel. The Academy Awards will never look the same.
We conclude the issue with politics in a major key. I explain “How To Think About Socialism” with Eleven Theses, although I have somehow misplaced #10. Some Facebook feedback is included.
Next, Van Gosse, Bill Fletcher, and Phyllis Bennis offer us a set of observations and principles that could ground a “New Internationalism” of the Left; these include criteria for intervention as well as abstention from global commitments and conflicts. We don’t necessarily agree with their premises or their purposes, but we think this is an important departure from conventional thinking—a place to start arguing about the futures of foreign policy and the intricacies of solidarity.
Then John McClure continues his ongoing series about Podemos, the Spanish Left, and the realignment of political parties and sensibilities there.
We end with Michael Harris, author of the recent and much-praised Mathematics Without Apologies, on the different intensities of Israel/Palestine activism in the humanities and in the sciences, in Europe and in the US.