Push Back

Our current forms of democratic government are looking hollowed out and weary, to put it very mildly indeed. Of course, “democracy” isn’t an a-historical given. You get many kinds. The question is how you arrange it. The problems with what we’ve got now are legion: we might agree about what many of them are. I’d say that the radical critique of liberal democracy still has force: that its deep links to capitalism, its inequality, ideology and instability mean that we must work to transform and eventually replace with something better. Right now, some kind of action is needed to push … Continue reading

Beyonce and the politics of cultural dominance

beyonce-black-panther-party

I confess, I am a culturally alienated, old, disconnected 1960s and ‘70s radical trying to live and struggle for revolutionary change in a world that might have passed me by, because I cannot for the life of me understand how Beyonce’s commodified caricature of black opposition was in any way progressive. Instead what I saw was the cultural power of neoliberal capitalism to co-opt opposition, monetize it and provide some mindless entertainment all at the same time. I didn’t see opposition; I saw the imagery and symbols of authentic black radicalism grotesquely transformed into a de-politicized spectacle by gyrating, light-skinned … Continue reading

Is Africa’s success story over?

The most impressive person I met in Botswana barely said a word. She was an older woman, small in stature. We were sitting next to each other at a table during lunch at a conference about Botswana’s economic model. In a quiet voice, she told me that she was a former government minister. We talked briefly about the conference, neither of us saying anything particularly memorable. Then we were both drawn away by other conversations. I learned later that Gaositwe Chiepe was the first woman to serve as a government minister in Botswana, the large but sparsely populated country just … Continue reading