George Orwell and Albert Camus, Oscar Wilde and Alan Moore (January 2021)

I have an essay in the latest New Politics, in which I compare George Orwell’s writing about capital punishment with Albert Camus’, with particular attention to the essays “A Hanging” and “Reflections on the Guillotine.”  Following Orwell, I suggest that there is a relationship between each writer’s moral views concerning state violence and his prose style.

Swimming Against Themselves; George Orwell and Albert Camus - J.W. Carey

Meanwhile, Fifth Estate just ran a review of my book Resist Everything Except Temptation: The Anarchist Philosophy of Oscar Wilde.  Written by Nick Mamatas, the review ends with an urgent (and flattering) argument for Wilde’s relevance:

We must not cede individualism, and bohemian culture, to the right. The right wing today is making great inroads into popular culture, and posing as advocates for free speech against the “cancel culture” of online mobs, and as libertines contra the neo-Puritan left. Oscar Wilde is a model for the left of artistic achievement that holds neither to Party lines or the demands of a “scene,” and a model for artists of an explicitly left-wing and implicitly anarchist mode of being in the world as a creator and activist that doesn’t sacrifice aesthetics and individuality. Resist Everything Except Temptation is a case study in how one artist balanced, sometimes even successfully, the often contradictory demands of individual creation and social transformation. Intriguing, vital stuff.

I’m especially pleased to receive praise from Nick.  He was my first editor at Soft Skull, when they put out Our Enemies in Blue, and he contributed in a roundabout way to the Wilde book, though he may not even realize it.

Years and years ago I delivered a lecture on Wilde and anarchism at the San Francisco Anarchist Bookfair.  During the Q+A, I got a question that depressingly stumped me:  “Is there a figure in anarchism today who seems to be following Wilde’s path?”  My mind went blank.  I could think of literally no one, and had to confess as much.  After the talk, Nick came up to introduce himself and suggested a candidate for Wilde’s heir: Alan Moore.

A decade later, the book nearly done, I remembered this exchange and insisted, I think to the surprise of my publisher, that Alan Moore was exactly the right person to provide a foreword.  I didn’t really think he would — but he did.

Thanks, Nick!



Eyes Right (October 2020)

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:


More Wilde (September 2020)

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.


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