The Word Factory

Daily broadsides from The Baffler's just-in-time corps of knowledge workers

The PC Debate, Sullied

Chris LehmannMarch 16, 2017
What good does tarring Charles Murray's opponents do? / Gage Skidmore
What good does tarring Charles Murray's opponents do? / Gage Skidmore

In times of perceived crisis, the American liberal mind instinctively reaches for reassurance in its great dream of impartial reason. The noble pursuit of above-the-fray truth is besieged on all fronts, the stout refrain usually goes, and the most urgent order of business, in view of this sorry state of affairs, is to subject the sanctums of our higher learning to bracing corrective discipline in the name of free and open inquiry.

The Constant Comrade

Amber A’Lee FrostMarch 15, 2017
Hey, Red, you can't please everyone. / donalruth
Hey, Red, you can't please everyone. / donalruth

But reader, learn to take breaks! Remember, after all, the first act of the Paris Communards: they shot out the clocks.

Daily Bafflements

The BafflerMarch 14, 2017
Wikimedia
Wikimedia

LD50, the London gallery with alt-right leanings, has been closed. Last week Megan Nolan wrote about the way mystification in the supposedly apolitical art world enables the spread of reactionary ideas: “I have seen it said by antifa that LD50 is not a story about art, but about fascism.

Organizing in Pence Country

Sarah JaffeMarch 14, 2017
Megha Anwer and Melissa Gruver are among the organizers of the womens strike in Lafayette, Indiana. / Photo courtesy of Megha Anwer
Megha Anwer and Melissa Gruver are among the organizers of the womens strike in Lafayette, Indiana. / Photo courtesy of Megha Anwer

To those who say that strike is only the luxury of the privileged, that is bullshit. Strike is the most basic form of resistance for the most vulnerable women. It is precisely the most vulnerable women that have come out and demanded their rights over the history of modernity really.

Experts Baffled Episode 1: The Politics of Smart

Levan Ramishvili
Levan Ramishvili

Rick Perlstein talks to Baffler editor in chief Chris Lehmann about his salvo “Outsmarted” in the new issue of the magazine. They discuss the curious identity of smartness, American Psycho, the dark underbelly of meritocracy, and the long-term political origins of the “libtard” insult.

Accessorized for the Apocalypse

Siddhartha DebMarch 13, 2017
Amio Cajander
Amio Cajander

In prepping scenes, the sheer weight and volume of things, an essential part of the North American experience for a while now, is recorded and imagined in a different time. Things are arced from abundance to scarcity, reinvented with meaning, imparted with an aura that they do not have in our present even as they endlessly proliferate on the difference between wages for labor in the global south and the prices supported by the credit-fuelled, consumer economies of the global north.

The Betrayal of Democracy

Chris LehmannMarch 13, 2017
Gage Skidmore
Gage Skidmore

The globalized power elite that may feel more at home in Taiwan or Singapore isn’t objectionable because its members may be in thrall to some sinister, unpatriotic economic loyalties, as Bannon and his retinue of Trump enablers tirelessly insist. No, the members of the placeless, merit-obsessed global ruling class deserve our scorn because they’ve turned their backs on the larger project of sharing democratic civilization on an equitable basis with their fellow citizens.

Daily Bafflements

The BafflerMarch 10, 2017
Keith Ellison's vegetarian kugel, baked in savory solidarity with International Women's Day strikers. / Sam Brodey
Keith Ellison's vegetarian kugel, baked in savory solidarity with International Women's Day strikers. / Sam Brodey

In Case You Missed It (to be fair, you might have been distracted by the efforts of congressional Republicans to take away your life-saving health coverage): a little-discussed bill called HR 1313 is on the rise, approved by a House committee.

Richard Simmons Has a Knee Injury

Niela OrrMarch 10, 2017
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10693516495_a549a4cdb1_o

Missing Richard Simmons is not a “much-heralded hollow space.” It deserves its acclaim. It mostly succeeds in rounding out the personality of a man who had become in the public eye a caricature, a Halloween costume, a reliable butt of David Letterman jokes before he withdrew into his Beverly Hills mansion.

Why They Need the Cucks

Jessa CrispinMarch 10, 2017
A portrait of Charles Fourier
A portrait of Charles Fourier

Strip The Hierarchies of Cuckoldry and Bankruptcy of its satirical critique, and you’re left with a logic that is dismally familiar. The categories of embattled manhood now trafficked by the cuck-trashing, immigrant-bashing men of Breitbart or 4chan are shifting but ultimately exacting; like Fourier’s taxonomist, they obsess over finer and finer distinctions.

Trump’s Willing Scholars

Hannah GaisMarch 09, 2017
Not your average scholar. / Gage Skidmore
Not your average scholar. / Gage Skidmore

Welcome to This American Carnage, your weekly slice of life from the country of Trump.

Trump’s rise has been described as “anti-intellectual” in nature, but that hasn’t stopped a new intellectual movement from feeding off his momentum.

Rubber and Heroin in a Dying City

The Goodyear sign over Akron, Ohio. / Tim Evanson
The Goodyear sign over Akron, Ohio. / Tim Evanson

When driving into Ohio from the Northeast, as I now do several times a year, one of the first things one sees when crossing over is the towering Goodyear plant. The headquarters, and then the old factory. It is a haunting image, the “GOODYEAR” atop the factory with its lights blinking or fading, smoke seeming to rising out of nowhere, the windows broken or blackened.