In his 4th of July special for the Huffington Post, "20 Of The Best Books From Independent Presses You Should Know About," Anis Shivani took Independence Day as an occasion to big up indie presses and their latest offerings. Included on his list is Owen Jones' Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class, which is praised for its astute analysis of the working class and for the parallels it highlights between US and UK attitudes to middle-class aspirations and social mobility.
Owen Jones writes about the demonization of the British working class, pointing to a new middle-class license to abuse them in public, the Chavs terminology being an example of a wider phenomenon. Jones wonders how it became possible for the Labor Party to join in the conservative (Thatcherite) condemnation of supposedly lazy, irresponsible, and bigoted working men and women, and how it was that the working class fell out of progressive discourse altogether (a book like this is very much needed for the American scene, where the illusion is similarly perpetuated by the Democrats that the middle-class is all that matters, that everyone can aspire to join the middle-class or is already part of it).
On June 23, John Nichols, author of The "S" Word: : A Short History of an American Tradition ... Socialism, joined Phil Gasper in Madison, WI for an event to discuss the history of socialism in America and its increasing popularity during today's crisis of capitalism. The event was sponsored by the International Socialist Organization, Haymarket Books, Verso Books, and WORT 89.9 FM Madison.
"One does not need to be a socialist to understand that socialism has been a part of this country's journey from the start."—John Nichols
In case you hadn't heard, Slavoj Žižek, author most recently of Living in the End Times and Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, will be in conversation on stage in London this weekend for an event moderated by Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman.
For those in the UK, a few tickets remain (at the time of writing) for this meeting of "the most dangerous philosopher in the west" and "the most dangerous man in the world."
And thanks to Democracy Now!, US viewers can watch the discussion from afar: the event will be broadcast live at democracynow.org from 11am EDT this Saturday July 2. You can even submit questions for Žižek and Assange—see this, from the DN! website:
Within the past year, whistleblower website WikiLeaks has released three of the most significant leaks of classified information in history: the Iraq War Logs, the Guantánamo Bay files and Cablegate. Since then the world has undoubtedly changed. Ambassadors have resigned amid scandals exposed by leaked cables; governments have ordered reviews of their computer security; and pro-democracy movements have swept across the Middle East and North Africa-in part fueled, some believe, by WikiLeaks revelations ...
You can post your questions for the panelists ahead of time on the Democracy Now! Facebook page and submit them to the Frontline Club by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Question 2 July."
Focusing on the ethics and philosophy behind WikiLeaks' work, the talk will provide a rare opportunity to hear two of the world's most prominent thinkers discuss some of the most pressing issues of our time.
It will also mark the publication of the paperback edition of Žižek's Living in the End Times, in which he argues that new ways of using and sharing information, in particular WikiLeaks, are one of a number of harbingers of the end of global capitalism as we know it.
Visit Democracy Now! for more information.
Truthout has run an excerpt from Annette Fuentes' Lockdown High: When the Schoolhouse Becomes a Jailhouse. The excerpt, adapted from chapter 5 of the book, "The War on Drugs Goes to School," opens with a portrait of one Chris Steffner, a "true believer in the national movement to randomly drug-test students."
Chris Steffner strode to the front of the packed audience, shunning the podium to deliver her sermon Oprah-style with a wireless mic transmitting the Word loud and clear. The pert, petite blonde is principal of Colts Neck High School in Monmouth County, New Jersey, and a true believer in the national movement to randomly drug-test students in order to save them from themselves and the perceived epidemic of youth drug and alcohol abuse. Steffner was among nine presenters at this, the second Regional Drug Testing Summit of 2007, organized by the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and held at the Hilton Hotel near Newark International Airport on February 27.