Baffler no. 38 presents an eclectic array of musings on the cults, sects, and holy orders populating the cybernated badlands and civic swamps of our accursed epoch. From Barbara Ehrenreich on the agonizing postmodern asceticism that is fitness culture, to Ann Neumann on the Mexican folk idol who’s been conscripted into the drug wars, we’re tipping the innumerable, and often unchallenged, sacred cows of the Trump era. Jessica Loudis travels all the way to Georgia to investigate a new wave of Stalin nostalgia, while Bruce Bartlett pines for a Republican Party actually invested in economics. Eugene McCarraher scrutinizes the deranged doctrines of Ayn Rand, chief theologian of the neoliberal church of capital, and Jeff Hauser takes on a cult of fundamentalist political scientists bent on predicting us into oblivion.
Lest we forget the shibboleths of tech: there’s Corey Pein’s exploration of the impending call-system apocalypse, David Golumbia’s salvo on the overeager proponents of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and Aaron Timms’s deep dive down the capital-flush halls of the predictive data industry. Even the world of entertainment—where yesterday’s cult film fandoms united loners and weirdos in the pursuit of truly subversive art—is now the hallowed ground of streaming-service movie buffs and chino-clad yuppies seeking obscure films without the IRL community they once offered, according to Judy Berman. It’s enough to make even the most stalwart among us don our tin foil hats and settle in for whatever apocalyptic vision is on offer.