Verso

Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again by Katherine Angel & Why We Lost the Sex Wars by Lorna Bracewell

by
June 2021, no. 432

Among historians of sexuality, it is customary to stress that there was never just one sexual revolution, but many. There were the pop-culture versions, the countercultural expressions and perhaps most momentously, but least discussed, the everyday or ‘ordinary’ sexual revolution. Or conversely, as French philosopher Michel Foucault so influentially argued in The History of Sexuality Vol. 1: The will to knowledge – first published in French in 1976 and in English in 1978, in the very thick of the so-called sexual revolution – there was no liberating sex from the disciplinary and regulatory effects of modern sexuality, already by then at least three centuries old. One of the delusions of the age was that, as we put sexual repression behind us (by saying yes to sex, for instance), ‘tomorrow sex will be good again’.

... (read more)

Judith Butler is acutely aware of the extent to which violence is an accepted part of human affairs. ‘The case for nonviolence encounters skeptical responses from across the political spectrum,’ Butler writes in the opening sentence of their latest book, The Force of Nonviolence. It is not so much that most people unconditionally advocate violence. Rather, it is considered an inexorable feature of life, a necessary measure to resist evils and prevent atrocities against populations and the marginalised. Nevertheless, Butler pushes back against that orthodoxy, declaring that we must ‘think beyond what are treated as the realistic limits of the possible’. It is a bold yet hardly indefensible claim. Indeed, the bleak alternative would be to doom the future of humanity to the internecine violence recently demonstrated in Washington, Ethiopia’s war in the Tigray region, and Australia’s inhumane asylum-seeker detention policy. It is, perhaps, a duty of writers and philosophers to free themselves from the mire of the status quo and to pave a way forward that ushers in a better, more equal world.

... (read more)

In the novel Demons, Dostoevsky’s narrator describes the character Shatov as ‘one of those ideal Russian beings who can suddenly be so struck by some strong idea that it seems to crush them then and there, sometimes even forever’. This ideal person is one whose ‘whole life afterwards is spent in some last writhings, as it were, under the stone that has fallen on them’. The people who populate Vivian Gornick’s The Romance of American Communism are Americans rather than Russians, but they too are living in the last writhings of the strong idea that dominates their lives: the idea of Stalinist communism.

... (read more)

Obituaries for neoliberalism have been coming thick and fast in recent years. Resurgent populist governments appealing to white, middle-class values, with rich subsidies for privileged sectors but austerity for others, might sound the death knell for the self-regulating markets, small government, and economising rationality commonly associated with contemporary neoliberalism. ‘That key voices on the right,’ economist Richard Denniss recently quipped regarding Australia, now ‘devote so much time to advocating the importance of Western culture and Australian values is proof that they have abandoned the fundamental neoliberal tenet that economic growth can solve all social and environmental problems’.

... (read more)

Few media institutions are revered across the mainstream political spectrum quite like The Economist. Since its founding in London in 1843, The Economist – which insists on calling itself a newspaper despite switching to a magazine format in the mid-twentieth century – has developed a reputation for intelligent, factual reporting and forthright advocacy for free trade and economic expansion. And it has weathered the digital storm far better than most publications, with print circulation now higher than it was prior to the arrival of the internet.

... (read more)

See What You Made Me Do by Jess Hill & Rape: From Lucretia to #MeToo by Mithu Sanyal

by
September 2019, no. 414

Domestic violence and rape are not easy topics to write or read about. It’s not just because of the subject matter itself, as grim and distressing as the details can be. The writer must grapple with centuries of cultural baggage, competing theorisations and research paradigms, and the politicisation of these issues, for better or worse ...

... (read more)

Bradley Manning is famous for being the US soldier who supplied WikiLeaks with its ‘choicest material’. In The Passion of Bradley Manning, Chase Madar argues that Manning is a national hero who has been wrongfully punished for his actions ...

... (read more)