This isn’t shaping up to be the millennium we were promised. The data-bedazzled twenty-first century was to be a time of painlessly enhanced social justice and seamless market accommodation. The arc of history bent unmistakably toward a bigger, shinier Information Age.
Instead, America slouches toward this century’s second decade with a lunatic bigot directing our national politics. Fascism is on the march in these United States, and the painful truth is that it’s been feeding on all the social forces we’d naively entrusted to a feckless expert class. In recognition of this dramatically altered status quo, The Baffler gives you Issue 34, “The Snare of Preparation.”
Mystified by the counsel of economists who’ve made a punitive fetish of the idea of austerity? Dean Baker dismantles all the errors that make up this profession-wide delusion. Still flummoxed by how fundamentally worthless the polling industry proved to be over the course of Election ’16? Worry not: Sam Kriss has identified the ancient superstitions that explain the follies of political soothsaying in our high-tech civitas.
Thomas Frank pierces the dark heart of the liberal cult of curation, while Yasha Levine ventures into the wild frontiers of Russian cyberhacking—and finds that here, too, a body of self-anointed experts is foisting a self-interested boondoggle on our credulous press and battered sense of procedural fair play. If all that hasn’t left you scandalized enough, check out Carey Dunne’s account of the ghastly posture fad known as the Mensendieck System, or Brandon Garrett’s report on the abuses packaged under the professional imprimatur of courtroom forensic science.
Meanwhile, Rick Perlstein lays out, in sobering detail, the empty presumptions that inform the cult of smartness across yon political spectrum. How, in the age of Trump, can we begin to reverse the march of credentialed folly? Fortunately, the Baffler business model forbids the publication of anything resembling “solutions journalism.” But even so, Alexander Zaitchik has returned from the occupation at Standing Rock with news of a principled left protest that actually worked—at least until our Orange Mussolini reopened the Dakota Access Pipeline with an executive order. Hey, the only person to tell you any of this might be easy would be a stupid fucking expert.