No Picture

Prison Nation 12/01

Driven by fear, the US has surrendered to “carceral Keynsianism”

And, to a degree, it’s true: The country does have a phenomenal number of murders and murderers, gangsters, mercenary drug pushers, kidnappers, rapists, and armed robbers. Arguably, since the very birth of the nation – complete with the roving gangs of brigands in Appalachia and privateers off the Atlantic seaboard – it always has had. And, like all things American, violence here, whether it be the gang violence associated with illegal drugs, or the urban upheavals of the rioting poor, happens on an epic scale. At the height of the crack wars of the 80s, more than 25,000 people were being killed annually. Parts of inner-city Los Angeles, Washington, Detroit, New Orleans, New York, Chicago, and several other cities, are, indeed, virtual war zones. read more

No Picture

Asia Goes Mad (8/98)


When I was a boy, my family and I joined hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in yearly anti-nuclear demonstrations through the center of London. The demonstrations were replicated in every capital city of democratic Europe, in the US, Australia, and New Zealand. We would go to "die-ins" outside Britain’s nuclear research facility at Aldermaston, and my mother would frequently join the women camped outside the military base of Greenham Common, protesting the presence of the US-made Cruise missiles. Few people now know what Greenham Common represented. But for politically aware Brits of my generation, the very words evoke a maelstrom of emotions. read more

No Picture

US: Punishment for Profit (11/98)

Echoing the Russian novelist Dostoyevsky, Winston Churchill once declared, in his inimitably authoritative voice of empire, that how a society treated those it imprisoned was the surest indication of how civilized it was. Churchill himself had been incarcerated in South Africa when he was a young reporter covering the Boer War. And although conservative in much of his thinking, when it came to prisons, his underlying humanity and progressive instincts always shone through.

Unlike most Euro-establishment politicians of his generation, Churchill was also fairly sympathetic to the concept of the United States. He understood all too well that the cultural and political momentum was shifting irreversibly westward across the Atlantic, and at least partially reconciled himself to the notion that, perhaps, such a movement wasn’t an altogether bad idea. read more