The surveillance industry sees us as little more than raw materials.
Naomi Wolf loves suppressed books; she loves them so much that she’s managed to suppress her own. One way of extinguishing a brilliant idea is to smother it under an enormous quantity of misinformation. Another is to discredit the author. In her new book Outrages: Sex, Censorship, and the Criminalization of Love, Wolf seems to have accomplished both.
The signal error, grabbing headlines immediately upon the book’s release, was her claim that “several dozen” men inVictorian England were executed for sodomy. They were not: the last were hanged in 1835. Wolf’s error was the result of an understandable but embarrassing misreading of the legal arcana: taking “death recorded” to indicate a completed execution rather than the mere documentation of a formal sentence that the judge expected to see commuted. The goof was made known to Wolf in a most public way, in the midst of a BBC interview. This led to the recall of the first British printing and the delayed release of the US edition. Some observers took the opportunity to soak in the schadenfreude, but I suspect a larger number started quietly humming “There but for Fortune.” I know I did.
Of the recent windfall of books published around the 80th anniversary of the end of the Spanish Civil War, Antoine Gimenez’s memoir Sons of Night stands out. The book does a good job of capturing the spontaneous and hope-filled mood of the times. This is an exhilarating and somewhat swashbuckling tale. The reader is treated to a ringside seat of what it is like to be caught up in the maelstrom of a revolution in progress.
George Orwell's relationship to the Left was complicated while he lived, and only grew more so after his death. Always determined to find out what he himself thought, rather than align with a particular party or doctrine, his criticism spared neither enemies nor allies. He both denounced and was denounced by the Communist Party, and he traded public jabs with pacifists and anarchists, remaining all the while a steadfast opponent of capitalism, imperialism, and all forms of totalitarianism.
“Sometimes, in the predawn hours when they find me wandering around without possibility for rest, I am able to climb up on a wisp of smoke and, from very high up, I look at us. Believe me that what can be seen is so beautiful that it’s painful to look at. I’m not saying that it’s perfect, nor that it’s finished, nor that it has no gaps, irregularities, wounds to close, injustices to remedy, spaces to liberate. Eppur si muove. And yet it moves. As if everything bad that we are and carry were mixed with the good that we can be, and the entire world redrew its geography and its time were remade with another calendar. Well, as if another world were possible.” - Zapatista Subcommandante Marcos
A manifesto by George Orwell, published in a recent book on the British author, argues that democracy and socialism are not merely two desirable and complementary ideals, but are, or ought to be, the same thing -- that socialism is simply the extension of democratic principles into the economic life of the society.