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Trivial Pursuit

It would not be possible in the space of even a lengthy review to do justice to either the scope or the style of Brooks and Papo­la’s cine­matic achievement. I can only share some of what I saw. After a brief credit sequence we meet “Arthur,” which is what I will call the Brooks-esque character in the film. (I am going to assume we are not quite meant to identify him with the real-life Brooks, who cannot possibly be as stupid and sinister by turns as this guy…

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The New Brazilian Right

Ten years ago, Brazil was a left-wing success story. The Workers’ Party’s generous cash-transfer programs for poor families, bank­rolled by buoyant commodity prices and constructed on a preexisting foundation of fiscal discipline, helped to lift millions out of pov­erty. Constitutional order was maintained. The economy grew, and arrangements were reached between the reigning patronage party…

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McLuhanomics: The Medium versus the Market

Why has digital technology so scandalously betrayed the expectations set by market liberalism? What accounts for the vast divergence between the starring role digital tech was meant to play in the global consummation of market liberalism and the dis­ruptive, discrediting, disillusioning role it actually is playing? Why did liberal experts and liberal economics get it…

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Marvel’s War on Terror

When the Norse god Loki threatens earth in the 2012 film The Avengers, the “playboy billionaire genius” Tony Stark confronts him in a Manhattan penthouse. Overlooking the cityscape, Stark warns Loki that if earth’s most powerful superheroes “can’t protect the earth, you can be damned sure we’ll avenge it.” And so are born the Avengers,…

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Toward a Party of the State

As critiques of liberalism have become more pronounced, alarm bells about possible alternatives to liberalism have grown louder. These alarms, ironically enough, have often been sounded most emphatically by American writers who otherwise describe themselves as conservatives. In response to the recent challenges to liberalism, conservatives have generally dropped the pretense that they are anything…

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Left Populism and the Rediscovery of Agonistic Politics

If there were a tagline for today’s populist moment, it would probably be something like “It’s not the economy, stupid.” Economic factors matter, but they are far from decisive in understanding why populists, especially right-wing populists, have solidified their position as the second largest or even largest parties in many Western democracies. In 2012—in the aftermath of…

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Sweden’s Ambivalence on Immigration

In 2015, immigration to Sweden reached an all-time high. At its peak, more than 10,000 people arrived in a single week. The total for the entire year was 162,877 people—1.6 percent of the Swedish population. In September, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven welcomed the immigrants, saying that his Europe does not build walls. A month and…

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Kanye West’s Radical Black Liberation Theology

Kanye West has always had a streak of what one might call conservatism. He defiantly included “Jesus Walks” on his 2004 debut album, despite repeated urging from record execs to drop it, and predictions that it would never get play. Instead, the single helped make his career. The track begins with Kanye revealing, “We at…

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Clean Rooms and Dirtbags

Conservative Canadian professor Jordan Peterson and socialist Brooklynite podcast Chapo Trap House have a lot in common. They each make around a hundred thousand dollars a month from Patreon donations. They each inspire both adoration and revulsion, while rejecting, in different ways, forms of political correctness…

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Christopher Lasch and the Digital Return of Memory

If the headlines are to be believed, the instability and uncertainty of the global situation, especially in the West, is the dangerous result of the politics of nostalgia. From Europe to the United States, from Russia to Latin America, political analysis has been explaining today’s unanticipated resurgence of illiberal, reactionary, and na­tionalist…

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