In a recent piece for the Boston Globe, reviewer Amanda Heller reads Jeremy Harding's memoir, Mother Country, as a comment on national character:
If the secrecy surrounding adoption in America has to do with sex, in England, just as revealing of national character, it has to do with class. Harding's quest soon led him to the stunning realization that his own origins were not the only ones his parents had deliberately obscured.
Visit the Boston Globe to read the full review.
Peter Hallward writes in the Guardian on the popular revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, and the real meaning of the "will of the people":
In today's Tunisia and Egypt, as in 1950s Algeria, to affirm the will of the people is not to invoke an empty phrase. Will and people: rejecting the merely "formal" conceptions of democracy that disguise our status quo, an actively democratic politics will think one term through the other. A will of the people, on the one hand, must involve association and collective action, and will depend on a capacity to invent and preserve forms of inclusive assembly (through demonstrations, meetings, unions, parties, websites, networks).
"Why fear the Arab revolutionary spirit?"—Slavoj Žižek, writing for the Guardian, takes on the "breathtaking" hypocrisy of western liberals in prioritising stability over democracy in the Arab world.
Here, then, is the moment of truth: one cannot claim, as in the case of Algeria a decade ago, that allowing truly free elections equals delivering power to Muslim fundamentalists. Another liberal worry is that there is no organised political power to take over if Mubarak goes. Of course there is not; Mubarak took care of that by reducing all opposition to marginal ornaments, so that the result is like the title of the famous Agatha Christie novel, And Then There Were None. The argument for Mubarak - it's either him or chaos - is an argument against him.
Andrew Saint's review of A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain for the Times Literary Supplement has some nice things to say, and many criticisms.
For Saint, A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain is
no true guidebook at all but a ranting, panting travelogue eked out with provocatively scruffy little photographs ... [Hatherley] doesn't say much that is perceptive because he doesn't really look. He is in much too much of a hurry to place them in cultural context, say something flip, move on and weave his slashing narrative. Haste is both this book's virtue and its vice. It gives it a vitality and immediacy, but does not make for mature criticism ... its instant and local value is enormous. It destroys shibboleths, and its anger, zest and articulacy make one think.
Saint also remarks on the author's "macho façade and ... semblance of hectic movement." Saint, the general editor of the Survey of London, part of English Heritage's Research Department, then attempts "to define the shape of Hatherley's cultural baggage"
Architecture for Hatherley must be hard, sincere, obtrusive, if possible outrageous, by preference connected to the puritan heyday of the welfare state ... Just as for Betjeman the supreme experience might be evensong in a Comper church menaced by an urban motorway, so for Hatherley it is wandering through the deserted Sheffield Markets with hard-rock tracks in his ears, or talking to ex-punks who remember the last days of Hulme.
The Times Literary Supplement website is "under construction." This review appears in the edition of Friday 28 January 2011.
Benjamin Kunkel has written a lengthy article on David Harvey for the London Review of Books. Nominally a joint review of his recent books The Enigma of Capital and A Companion to Marx's Capital, it engages with Harvey's entire body of work, and especially his seminal The Limits to Capital.
Over recent decades, the landmarks of Marxian economic thinking include Ernest Mandel's Late Capitalism (1972), David Harvey's Limits to Capital (1982), Giovanni Arrighi's Long 20th Century (1994) and Robert Brenner's Economics of Global Turbulence (2006), all expressly concerned with the grinding tectonics and punctual quakes of capitalist crisis. Yet little trace of this literature, by Marx or his successors, has surfaced even among the more open-minded practitioners of what might be called the bourgeois theorisation of the current crisis.