Political scientist Corey Robin examines the politics of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas - from his early formative experiences with White supremacy, leftist defeatism and Black nationalism, to his formation of a deeply pessimistic, conservative realism that rejects the notion of politics as a path toward liberation.
Corey is author of the book The Enigma of Clarence Thomas from Metropolitan Books.
Thomas wrote the article The European Union Is an Antidemocratic Disgrace for Jacobin.
Astra is author of the book Democracy May Not Exist, but We'll Miss It When It's Gone from Metropolitan Books.
Suzy wrote the paper The Case for Open Borders for Catalyst.
Garrison wrote the article Make America Trip Again for Current Affairs.
Welcome to the Moment of Truth, the thirst that is the drink.
It’s nostalgia time on premium cable. I mean, it’s always nostalgia time on premium cable. But, man, Mohammed Ali. Got me listening to The Motorbooty Affair. This is Howard Cossell, reporting live from The Motorbooty Affair.
Hey, remember when Mohammed Ali, the boxer, refused to go to Vietnam and fight against the North and the VC? Remember why? Because it was a racist war, he wasn’t getting treated like a human being by the official society here in the USA, and he didn’t like that much, so why should he go do the same thing to some strangers on the other side of the world who’d never done him any harm? Remember that? Or something like that? That was when refusing to go to war wasn’t easy. You were forced to go to war. If you refused, you went to jail. You lost your championship title. There were consequences. Nowadays, they can’t force you to go to war. They just make you so poor you have no choice but to join the army. But it is a choice. Isn’t it?
Remember back when? When the world was sort of different, although since then the cruelties have shifted around, from public sector to private sector, from overt coercion to subtle, tacit coercion? Here and there, now and then? Nostalgia is unnecessary. You really just need the proper tools of interpretation, and you are instantly transported from the enlightened present to the benighted past. Watch The Handmaid’s Tale and you are back in your worst colonial collective memory. Just by rearranging the emphasis on intention, you can travel back in time while staying in the same place. To colonial times. Or to yesterday in Alabama.
Nostalgia didn’t used to be a dead end, but nostalgia is a dead end, especially now. We are approaching the future, and it looks like crap. Yet we are compelled to think of the past, because, eh, it’s the only thing we can remember. We are prisoners of our mental deficiencies. Look, it happens. It happened in Rome. It happened in Medieval Europe. It happened in 20th Century Europe. It happens because our institutions are adolescent. They’re stuck in a puerile stage of development. They repeatedly promise reform, because the people and the obvious awfulness of the situation demand it, but, like lazy teenagers, they continue the same behavior that burned the house down and wrecked the car, last time and the... read more
Marshall wrote the article Boeing might represent the greatest indictment of 21st-century capitalism for Salon.
Bhaskar is author of The Socialist Manifesto: The Case for Radical Politics in an Era of Extreme Inequality from Basic Books.
Jenny is author of How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy from Melville House.
Jasper wrote the essay Between the Devil and the Green New Deal for Commune.
Can't wait to re-listen to this one.
Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
I envy those who can unironically praise and express love for themselves in our multicultural post-modern USA. Who are these people? They’re the oppressed. Just as they have to work twice as hard to succeed in this biased society, they need to be twice as proud as unoppressed people in order to achieve the same level of self-esteem.
Who’s unoppressed? The straight white men. White women can at least be proud of being women, at least until someone points out how many of them voted for Dump, and the other historically awful crap they’ve done.
I’m lucky, because in addition to being white I’m also a Jew. It’s okay to be proud of being a Jew as long as you’re suitably ashamed of the Israeli expulsion of Muslim Palestinians prior to 1948 Independence and the subsequent abuses of the Occupation. The Jews who deny any wrong-doing in this regard, well, I’m ashamed of them. And they’re ashamed of me. They call me a “self-hating Jew.” Have you ever really gotten to know a Jew? If you have, I’m sure you’ll agree that the moniker “self-hating Jew” is redundant.
So white Jews are a special case of white people. Then again, isn’t every white person? You can be proudly Irish, because you saved civilization and survived the famine. You can be proudly Russian, because of Tolstoy etc., and that you survived any number of things. You can be proudly German, because of Goethe, but I suggest you counterweigh that pride with some healthy shame because of you-know-what.
Really, it’s the WASPs who need to check their pride, at least here in the US, but also around the world. They owned like half the world at one point, and despite extending their pinkies while drinking tea, they weren’t the kindest of overlords. But, hey, the overlord business isn’t about kindness. The Chinese in Tibet, Uyghur-land, Indochina, etc. have earned a lot of shame, but the British got them all hooked on opium, so it’s even, I guess. The Japanese in China, Thailand, etc., were brutal oppressors, but they did invent sushi, origami, sake, and they got Hiroshimaed and Nagasakied by the WASPs and their minions.
WASPs carry the whiteness elitism for the rest of the white mongrels. Whiteness is what allows the rest of us white people to pass as possible members of the elite group of... read more
Allegra and Emily wrote the article The End of War Is Just a Beginning for TomDispatch.
Cedric wrote the article What Black Life Actually Looks Like for Jacobin.
And opens a WASPs nest in the process.
Danny is author of the book American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People's History of Fake News—From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror from Skyhorse Books.
Joshua is author of the book Red Meat Republic: A Hoof-to-Table History of How Beef Changed America from Princeton University Press.
Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
It’s a dangerous world. How do you make it safe? You can’t make everyone safe. You have to start by making yourself safe. How? By deflecting, so I hear. Deflection. It’s the coward’s way and you’ve got to give it to cowards, they’re all safety first.
I’d like to deflect a few things. Because I’ve heard that’s what clever people do, they deflect. Or maybe not clever people, successful people. I’m not sure what characterizes these people, to be honest, but deflection seems to be thought of as a successful strategy. I’m not sure for what. But successful on its own terms or on some terms.
I heard from an anonymous source that, at UCLA, a stupid uninoculated millennial may have exposed 500 people or so to the measles, those people were quarantined, and the school has been hushing it up, but you didn’t hear it from me.
My writing partner is saddened that chimps in the Detroit Zoo are no longer allowed to smoke. I agree, it’s an unfortunate decision. Everything gets ruined by these priggish bluestocking martinets. One of my fondest childhood memories is of going into the Great Ape House and seeing Jo Mendi II relaxing with a cigarette and the morning paper. What are the chimps supposed to do now when they’re having coffee or a beer?
Trump writes up an executive order that health workers can refuse to give medical care for religious reasons. So if a Satanic pharmacist doesn’t want to sell you reading glasses because you’ll use them to read the Bible, you’re out of luck, Junior.
Look, I’ve wasted my life. I did it just to see what that would be like. And it’s fine. It’s miserable, yeah, but lots of people are miserable who haven’t wasted their lives at all. They’ve created quite beautiful things, like restaurants or symphonies or babies. Yet they can be miserable, physically miserable, living in misery. I’m just miserable because I’m haunted by self-disgust. Because I’ve wasted my life, and I did it on purpose, just to see what it would be like. And it’s great, really.
But it was a stupid thing to do, in other ways. But then, wasn’t it stupid of us to allow things to get to this point? Where everything is melting and burning, and only incredibly stupid, vile people are allowed to hold public office?... read more