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The Baffler’s Week That Was


Guys and gals, ladies and Libor-boys, profs and Pikettys, Rahms and race-baiters, mountaineers and May Day marchers, let’s all take a look back at the past week on The Baffler online:

• This week, on the occasion of the locked-and-loaded festival of fear that is the annual convention of the National Rifle Association, we revisited Mike Newirth’s comprehensive NRA history from Issue 14, “Death Travels West, Watch Him Go.”

• We also put up online for the first time Christian Lorentzen’s salvo about the backlash to, and aftermath of, the rate-rigging schemes in London, from Issue 21, “Anything for the Libor Boys.”

• From our current issue, we published George Scialabba’s look back at the legacy of economist Albert Hirschman, and how our modern version of capitalism differs from his. “Capitalism was tonic once, as . . . Karl Marx emphasized repeatedly,” Scialabba writes. “It has turned toxic for exactly the reasons he foresaw: relentless, uncontrolled commodification, concentration, financialization, and globalization.”

• Robert Zaretsky proposed a quite spirited solution to sagging salaries and shrinking class-enrollment in the liberal arts—why didn’t we think of this before?—“Commodify the Classics!

• The authors of the definitive history Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes, Maurice Isserman and Stewart Weaver, made a convincing argument that, while Everest has had a good run, it’s time to shut it down.

• Just in time for Portlandia’s season finale this week, Ethan Thompson framed the show as “therapy” for Generation X, helping its viewers at home come to terms with their now-abandoned counter-culture ideals, and with the “burden” of their cultural capital—just like Thirtysomething did in the 1980s.

• Kathleen Geier smacked down a heck of a lot of conservative arguments against Thomas Piketty, explained all the reasons that Rahm Emanuel is best known as “Mayor One Percent,” and showed how the latest software patent kerfuffle in the courts illuminates how dysfunctional our current intellectual property system can be.

• Finally, Jim Newell exposed the lie lurking within Cliven Bundy’s and Donald Sterling’s workaday racism and gave an optimistic take on the future of public opinion about the death penalty.

Speaking of, this week the Baffler blog had to say farewell to Jim Newell, as he took a full-time gig elsewhere, but, never fear, both Jim and Chris Bray will still continue to write for the Baffler in print. Subscriptions are a piddling $30 per year, you know, and include original art that was praised by Illustration Age this week. Quite the value, if we do say so.

Say hello, and do enjoy your downtime/baffletime this weekend.