Just in time for the national election/civil war/general strike/ total shitshow, I have a new piece at Three Way Fight, looking at our current moment in terms of Richard Hofstadter’s classic essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics.” I give particular attention to the idea of paranoia as style, as aesthetic.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the right wing lately. I can’t imagine why.
I wrote a short piece for Truthout detailing recent instances of the cops colluding with heavily armed right-wing knuckleheads, placing that collaboration in its historical context. And then I wrote a review of Corey Robin’s The Enigma of Clarence Thomas, contemplating the significance of Thomas’ move from left-wing black nationalist to right-wing black nationalist.
This is more interesting, though: Halloween weekend, I will be speaking on an online panel about incipient fascism in the United States. The panel will follow reading of Tony Kushner’s play A Bright Room Called Day, put on by the Faultline Ensemble. Act One is on October 30, and Act Two on November 1. Discussions will follow each act, but I don’t know which day I will speak. (So I guess you will just have to show up for both.) More details soon!
Update: My panel will be on November 1. Tickets for both dates are available here:
I wrote an essay for Toward Freedom, considering what twenty-first century anarchists could learn from Oscar Wilde. The short version is that we could all stand to be a great deal less puritanical.
I’ve also given a couple of interviews about my book Resist Everything Except Temptation: The Anarchist Philosophy of Oscar Wilde. The first was on Rising Up with Sonali, and it is frankly just not my best performance. The second, which managed to be far more of an organic conversation, ranging rather widely, was on The Final Straw. Unfortunately the sound quality is not great.
A few days ago I wrote a short piece in support of the staff at the Multnomah County Library and their efforts to fight layoffs and cuts to service.
Amazingly, the management is seeking to throw people out of work and reduce services to the public when there is ample money in the budget to maintain current staffing levels and there is staff enough to increase available services, even without opening library buildings. Either this represents an idiotic failure to adapt to the conditions imposed by the pandemic, or it is just an exercise in imposing austerity for austerity’s sake.
Luckily library staff and the communities they serve are united in demanding better. I urge you to join us in this struggle.
Back in May, I wrote an essay about the appalling incompetence on display in the County’s response to the Covid-19 crisis, using Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 as a reference point.
At the time, I wrote:
The County is contemplating layoffs and cuts to programming—at exactly the time that “essential workers” are being hailed as heroes, the spike in unemployment is likely to increase the need for public services, and even the International Monetary Fund is advocating Keynesian measures. Layoffs at this moment can only worsen the economic crisis and hobble any future response to the pandemic. Just imagine a second spike in cases, probably in the fall, producing another lockdown and new demands on government services—but with fewer staff available for redeployment.
Covid-19 is only one epidemic that we are facing. We are also facing an epidemic of stupidity.