Papering over the psychological distress of consumers, it’s coloring! / Julie Rybarczyk
The Baffler,  August 3, 2015

Daily Bafflements

Papering over the psychological distress of consumers, it’s coloring! / Julie Rybarczyk


• The Baffler was recently flattered with the fine title of  “America’s most pugnacious magazine,” but if there is one publication that gives us a run for our money in this respect, it’s surely the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, in which a new study entitled “Survival of the Fittest and the Sexiest” was released last week. Among its findings, the much-avoided fact that “bullies have higher self-esteem and social status, as well as lower rates of depression and social anxiety.” Today we publish David Graeber’s salvo “The Bully’s Pulpit” from the bowels of The Baffler no. 28, in which he argues that Lord of the Flies-type bullying methods “did not emerge in the absence of authority; they were techniques designed to create a certain sort of cold-blooded, calculating adult male authority to begin with.”

• On the unworkable paradox of policiteering, whereby police collect money for the municipal courts: “Having taxpayers foot a bill of $4,000 to incarcerate a man who owes the state $745 or a woman who owes a predatory lender $425 and removing them from the job force makes sense in no reasonable world.” (Thanks, Mother Jones!)

• Sunday was the first ever National Coloring Book Day, and with even the gory Game of Thrones franchise publishing a relaxing coloring book, it’s time to ask: Is this coloring craze the new mindfulness?

• It is with great chagrin that we bring you the news that The Baffler’s favorite racehorse, Innovation Economy, was euthanized this weekend, following a fall.

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High on the Apocalypse

Jessa Crispin

Maybe we all just decided it was cooler to be George Orwell (who came from money) than H. G. Wells (who did not)—cooler to be the smirker saying, “Pah, it'll never work,” than to be the kid chirping, “Here is what we can do.” The H. G. Wells we find profiled in Krishan Kumar's Utopia and Anti-Utopia in Modern Times was someone who suffered greatly and wanted to help prevent the suffering of future generations. He was someone who cycled through great optimism and great despair, but kept coming back to optimism, believing that equality is possible without totalitarianism. He treated his ideal society—in which property would be held communally, the state would be run by the enlightened, and all would be free to express their eccentricities without being marginalized for it—as neither an impossibility nor an inevitability, but as something that could be willed closer by way of the imagination. Yet his critics, like Orwell and Aldous Huxley, felt free to mischaracterize his work and compare his vision to the vision of the Nazis. You know who has a vision of the future? Those actively working to destroy it.

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Further Reading

 April 17

Or, put it this way: Paul Ryan went out onto the tightrope. The crowd, so long adoring their golden child, cheered. But a jester got the best of Ryan.

 April 12

The avant-garde attempt to unite art and life through productive labor has been too successful for our own good.