It is our sad duty to announce the passing of Lucio Magri, one of the foremost Italian left-wing intellectuals. A member of the Italian Communist Party from the mid 1950s, Magri was expelled in 1969 along with the group of dissidents who had established the journal il manifesto. In the ensuing decades, he was active in the Independent Left and the peace movement. After the disbandment of the PCI in 1991, Magri joined the Rifondazione Comunista party and acted as the editor of La rivista del Manifesto. In the words of Simonetta Fiori, Magri was "a great chess-player, a talented skier, and a generous politician", who remained "clear-headed and rational, until the end." Verso has recently translated to English his last book and political testament, The Tailor of Ulm: Communism in the Twentieth Century. A first extract from the book was published in 2008 in New Left Review.
Following a recent appearance in Guernica, The Imperial Messenger has been excerpted in the London Review of Books. In the book, author Belén Fernández systematically demolishes the façade of principled criticism that Friedman projects, and exposes instead the mass of contradictory assertions and disingenuous equivocation—not to mention, terrible writing—that is the acclaimed New York Times columnist's true hallmark.
Ever since literary blogs, alternative news outlets, and nifty "read later" contraptions infested the once-venerable tangle of data that is the Internet, it has become dishearteningly easier to read good, intelligent writing that is as informative as it is well-crafted. Rambling, incoherent, cartoonishly bad and ethically suspect writing no longer populate our screens; and we have been left with nostalgia for the days when we still hadn't quite figured out our RSS subscription preferences.
Thankfully, Thomas Friedman is still getting published.
If you have not yet experienced the literary coup de poudre that is Friedman's writing, you can read his New York Times column, which runs twice-weekly because Friedman stauchly supports torture without legal consequences. For short but still painful reminders of the current state of political discourse in this country, you can follow @NYTFriedman on Twitter.
But burying this kind of rhetoric at the bottom of a reader feed is not enough—it has to be brought to light and thoroughly dismantled. If you want to understand how Friedman is "a testament to the degenerate state of the mainstream media in the United States" and a mouthpiece for imperial violence and aggression around the world, you should read Belén Fernández's witty, incisive take-down of this apologist for empire.
"The noun chav, in Britain, essentially means 'ugly prole': loutish, tacky, probably drunken and possibly violent. Think Snooki with a cockney accent. Mr. Jones’s book is a cleareyed examination of the British class system, and it poses this brutal question: 'How has hatred of working-class people become so socially acceptable?' His timely answers combine wit, left-wing politics and outrage."
Visit the New York Times to read the article in full.
The book was also included on Matthew Higgs’ “Best of 2011” list in Artforum (December 2011, print version)
"Seen in the light of the riots and the worldwide Occupy protests, his lucid analysis of a divided society appears uncannily prescient."
In an article devoted to the new technocratic governments in Greece and Italy published in the Financial Times, the "liberal" professor and former politician Michael Ignatieff notes:
it is a good sign that Mr Monti [the new Italian Prime Minister] is being called "the professor". It's an indication that the people want him to succeed. Having been a professor myself and having done my time in politics, I would offer only one piece of advice: convince your people that you are doing this not for the banks, not for Europe, not for the bond market, but for them, your fellow countrymen and women.
In the light of the outstanding achievements of Professor Ignatieff as the leader of the Canadian Liberal Party, one can really wonder what Professor Monti should make of this advice. Last May, under Professor Ignatieff's leadership, the Canadian Liberal Party underwent its worst electoral result ever, forcing him to resign. Apparently, Canadian "countrymen and women" were not very convinced by Professor Ignatieff's enlightened views.