The Word Factory

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

The Long Haul

Amber A’Lee FrostFebruary 15, 2017
. / fdecomite
. / fdecomite

Like a lot of people, I spent the lead-up to the election expecting a Clinton victory and a rather business-as-usual political future. Even though I drifted to the left in the past year like many other millennial white guys (thanks Chapo!), I didn’t see it as a particularly awful outcome and planned a multi-month trip starting in December—a sort of once-in-a-lifetime, solo backpack around the world type deal I had been saving for since I graduated college.

Is Trump a Populist?

Max B. SawickyFebruary 15, 2017
When the election is over, what is left of "rightwing populism"? / Jamelle Bouie
When the election is over, what is left of "rightwing populism"? / Jamelle Bouie

People relate “rightwing populism” to the excoriation of immigrants, demonization of the poor, and railing about high finance on the campaign trail. That criticism never amounts to any actual policies when the candidate is in office. What’s left is simply xenophobia and bigotry, which can be drawn out in all sectors of the population, including the working class.

Deportation Nation

Sarah JaffeFebruary 14, 2017
ICE police raid
ICE police raid

I think we sugarcoat it by making it very procedural, but actually, that night she was kidnapped from her family and there are many of us in the community that took action. We had them waiting outside in vigil for Lupita in hopes that the director would have released her.

Old School

Scott BeauchampFebruary 14, 2017
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dake_crop_square

Anatomist Louis Bolk once called humans sexually mature primate fetuses. (And yes, it sounds suitably disturbing in the original German: einen zur Geschlechtsreife gelangten Primatenfetus.) As Bolk patiently explained, our evolutionary history is something of an arms race between the pelvic size of mothers and the skull size of offspring, which means, in turn, that we’re born half-made and unfinished.

Daily Bafflements

The BafflerFebruary 13, 2017
Max Kiesler
Max Kiesler

“Gerrymandering, in a word, is why American democracy is broken,” claims The Washington Post, echoing David Daley, in his Q&A with Baffler associate editor Dave Denison. “Eight of the ten most gerrymandered districts in the United States were drawn by Republicans.”

Polls suggest the American electorate is experiencing buyers’ remorse.

Running Riot

Rick PaulasFebruary 13, 2017
David Goehring
David Goehring

In Psychology 101 you learn of those “false binary” or “false dichotomy” situations that crop up where two viewpoints are so powerful they tend to pull all other options into their orbit. If you’re not capitalist, you’re socialist. In Chicago if you’re not a White Sox fan, you’re a Cubs fan.

Flight of the Punk-Pecking Carnage Vultures

Jason DiamondFebruary 13, 2017
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5169889795_6e18c0d926_b

Let’s face it—unless the consumerist world order crumbles soon, the music we make in protest now could easily, a few decades down the line, end up tinkling over the speakers of an antiseptic big-box store. That’s all the more reason to stop worrying about how our anti-Trump music will sound to the future and start listening to the people who have been busting their asses all along trying to make change.

Daily Bafflements

The BafflerFebruary 10, 2017
David Goodner coordinates a leadership team of rank and file workers and everyday people during a "Fight For A Fair Economy: Make Wall Street Pay" action outside of Wells Fargo in Iowa City. / Photo courtesy of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.
David Goodner coordinates a leadership team of rank and file workers and everyday people during a "Fight For A Fair Economy: Make Wall Street Pay" action outside of Wells Fargo in Iowa City. / Photo courtesy of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.

“Society is creating a new crop of alpha women who are unable to love,” warns Fox News. Authoritarian wives everywhere are forgetting which side their bread is buttered on, apparently. As concerned as we are about this development, we’ll stick with the slightly more complicated dialectic of love and authority proposed by Christopher Lasch, and in Issue no.

The Defiant I Am Not Your Negro

Niela OrrFebruary 10, 2017
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

The film’s promotional poster notably features just Baldwin’s eyes and the title, and all through the film are magnetic images of black people staring, looking off, caught in their own subjectivity. The effect of these eyes turned back on the viewer is breathtaking.

Suits and Ties

Nick OltmannFebruary 10, 2017
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5587396714_a58c8d7d74_b

The alt-right has been going through some growing pains these last few weeks. On inauguration day, the now-notorious Richard Spencer got socked in the face on camera. The assailant is still at large, the celebrations of his getting attacked are viral, and there’s a video game about it now.

Old-school Organizing in Iowa

Sarah JaffeFebruary 09, 2017
David Goodner coordinates a leadership team of rank and file workers and everyday people during a "Fight For A Fair Economy: Make Wall Street Pay" action outside of Wells Fargo in Iowa City. / Photo courtesy of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.
David Goodner coordinates a leadership team of rank and file workers and everyday people during a "Fight For A Fair Economy: Make Wall Street Pay" action outside of Wells Fargo in Iowa City. / Photo courtesy of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.

There is also a lot of inspiring social organizing in Iowa. It is not to a scale compared to New York City or L.A. or anything, but in 2012 a grassroots community organization named Iowa CCI, bird-dogged Mitt Romney at the state fair and forced him into his “Corporations are people, my friend” gaffe.

It’s Already Happened Here

Sarah KendziorFebruary 09, 2017
Teakwood
Teakwood

At the center of all this executive-assured destruction, there is Trump, both a hater and a loser. Desperate for applause and enthusiastic about abusing executive power, he is driven by narcissism and need. His paranoia and megalomania is typical in foreign authoritarian leaders, yet Trump is a native archetype: he is the conman, the showman, the “Confidence Man” of Herman Melville, the President Stillson of Stephen King’s The Dead Zone.