In his review of Alain Badiou's The Communist Hypothesis for Dissent, Tim Barker begins by agreeing it is indeed a very handsome edition and one that must be an important statement of Badiou's beliefs. He also agrees that Leon Wieseltier's "automatic dismissal of Badiou as a 'heartless bastard' is analytically unsatisfying." Barker then poses the question: What is it about this moment which has made communism (or at least these communists) so popular?
In the case Badiou, it is something less than sinister. It is the frustration and confusion that Richard Wolin has described on this website: "[The] traditional left-wing solutions were noble yet flawed; and we remain uncertain in what ways or directions they need to be supplemented." Most Dissent readers will have, as I do, strong disagreements with the diagnosis and prescriptions provided by the thinkers in question. But it is important to note that their appeal speaks directly to a crisis of the Left which calls for more than the simple repetition of social democratic slogans.
To coincide with his event in Melbourne to launch The Obama Syndrome, Tariq Ali has written an article for The Age in which he lays out just how Obama's foreign policy "mirrors the ugliness of the Bush years." In an effort to match the brilliance of Verso's cover for The Obama Syndrome, The Age accompanied Ali's article with this image by Matt Davidson—not bad at all.
In his review of Tariq Ali's The Obama Syndrome for The National, Scott McLemee hits the nail on the head straight off where the book's title is concerned:
The election of Barack Hussein Obama felt like the triumph of cosmopolitan possibility over rugged provincialism ... there was a spark of intelligence in the new president's eyes, where his predecessor had never shown more than a glint of dim cunning. World opinion was festive, for a while [...]
The very title of Tariq Ali's new book treats all of this as a kind of mental disorder—a "syndrome" to be treated, if not cured, by a strong reminder of political realities. Obama is "an extremely intelligent human being", he writes, but "not a progressive leader by any stretch of the imagination. Wishing that he were is fine but does not bring about the required transformation ... To talk of betrayal is foolish, for nothing has been betrayed but one's own illusions."
In a recent article for Big Think John Cookson cites Erik Olin Wright, author of Envisioning Real Utopias, on the subject of—gasp—whether all public transit should be free.
"Of course public transportation has to be paid for," writes Wright, "but it should not be paid for through the purchase of tickets by individual riders—it should be paid for by society as a whole through the one mechanism we have available for this, taxation."
"This should not be thought of as a 'subsidy' in the sense of a transfer of resources to an inefficient service in order for it to survive," he says, "but rather as the optimal allocation of our resources to create the transportation environment in which people can make sensible individual choices between public and private means of transformation that reflect the true costs of these alternatives."
Here here. And once we've got free public transit for all, we can move swiftly onto establishing free healthcare for all in the US ...