George Orwell Creates a Who’s Who List of “Crypto” Communists for British Intelligence Forces (1949)

≡ Category: History, Politics |2 Comments

Journalist and novelist Eric Blair, known for all of his professional life by the pen name George Orwell, staunchly identified himself as a democratic socialist.


How “America’s First Drug Czar” Waged War Against Billie Holiday and Other Jazz Legends

≡ Category: Music, Politics |5 Comments

The U.S. government’s so-called “War on Drugs” predates Richard Nixon’s coinage of the term in 1971 by many decades, though it is under his administration that it assumed its current scope and character.


Ayn Rand Writes a Harsh Letter To Her 17-Year-Old Niece: “I Will Write You Off As a Rotten Person” (1949)

≡ Category: Literature, Philosophy, Politics |7 Comments

Image via Wikimedia Commons
I recently happened upon the Modern Library’s “100 Best Novels” list and noticed something interesting. The list divides into two columns—the “Board’s List” on the left and “Reader’s List” on the right.


Edward Said Recalls His Depressing Meeting With Sartre, de Beauvoir & Foucault (1979)

≡ Category: Philosophy, Politics |2 Comments

Image by Joe Pineiro
I have not had the occasion to meet my intellectual or literary heroes, those still alive, of course. And from most of the accounts of those who have, it’s probably for the best.


Werner Herzog Plays Himself in Cartoon That Satirizes Obama’s 2008 Election & Race in America

≡ Category: Comics/Cartoons, Current Affairs, Politics |Leave a Comment”>full

The United States has two important cultural means of self-examination—the work of foreign observers and of domestic satirists. In the former category, we have the longstanding example of political theorist Alexis de Tocqueville and the much bleaker, contemporary vision of Werner Herzog.


Ayn Rand Helped the FBI Identify It’s A Wonderful Life as Communist Propaganda

≡ Category: Film, History, Politics |5 Comments

If you wanted to know what life was really like in the Cold War Soviet Union, you might take the word of an émigré Russian writer. You might even take the word of Ayn Rand, as the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) did during the Red Scare, though Rand had not lived in her native country since 1926.


Noam Chomsky Almost Appeared on Saturday Night Live During the 90s

≡ Category: Comedy, Politics |Leave a Comment”>Ben

Image by jeanbaptisteparis
There are those guest hosts on Saturday Night Live who immediately become exemplary cast members they fit in so well. I’m thinking mostly of Alec Baldwin. Then there are those—certain pop stars and athletes—who are too awkward even to make for unintentional humor.


Theodor Adorno’s Radical Critique of Joan Baez and the Music of the Vietnam War Protest Movement

≡ Category: Music, Philosophy, Politics |1 Comment

The Marxist Frankfurt School’s practice of negative dialectics put the “critical” in critical theory, and none of its loose band of philosopher-critics was as incisive as the dour, depressive Theodor Adorno.


David Harvey’s Course on Marx’s Capital: Volumes 1 & 2 Now Available Free Online

≡ Category: Economics, Philosophy, Politics |Leave a Comment

For many people, the arguments and analysis of Karl Marx’s three-volume Das Kapital (or Capital: A Critique of Political Economy) are as relevant as ever. For many others, the work is a historical curiosity, dated relic, or worse.


The Red Menace: A Striking Gallery of Anti-Communist Posters, Ads, Comic Books, Magazines & Films

≡ Category: Art, History, Politics |5 Comments

By its very nature, propaganda distorts the truth or tells outright lies. It targets our basest impulses—fear and anger, flight or fight. While works of pure propaganda may pretend to make logical arguments, they eliminate nuance and oversimplify complicated issues to the point of caricature.


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