Western science and technology are the motors that drive social progress; no other knowledge system comes anywhere close. It's a widely held view, an example of Western exceptionalism and triumphalism -- but is it correct? The philosopher of science Sandra Harding talks about knowledge appropriation, the failure of "development," and the value and sophistication of non-Western ways of thinking.
Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers may seem synonymous. The charismatic leader headed up the union through strikes and boycotts that garnered nation-wide attention and made him a labor icon. Former farm worker Frank Bardacke, however, argues that the history of the UFW needs to be understood from the bottom up. In a remarkable new book, he reveals the mainly untold story of the UFW's militant rank and file, who brought their own radical traditions to the union and clashed with union staff in ways that shaped the organization's fate.
The photographer Eadweard Muybridge met Leland Stanford at a time when technological breakthroughs were beginning to alter myriad aspects of everyday life. Muybridge's innovations paved the way for cinema, Stanford's obsessions fueled the beginnings of Silicon Valley, and Rebecca Solnit has written a book about the consciousness-changing advent of modern technology.
Archie Green may be best known for almost singlehandedly pressuring the government to create the American Folklife Center, but Sean Burns argues he was one of this country's foremost intellectuals on the left. Burns has written the definitive study of the labor historian and folklorist and discusses his political formation on San Francisco's docks and his contributions to our understandings of work and culture.
Inequalities in wealth and status abound, despite the official rhetoric of equal rights and opportunity. According to Immanuel Wallerstein, the French Revolution had thunderous consequences for the capitalist world-economy and for how struggles between haves and have-nots have played out. Ideals promoted by the French revolutionaries, he argues, generated dynamics that produced a liberalism determined to contain radicalism at every turn.
Many leftists may believe that reactionary thought is a contradiction in terms -- that there is no intellectual complexity, substance, or allure to conservative ideas. But that, political scientist Corey Robin argues, is wrong. He discusses the motivations and power of reactionary thought, as well as how conservatives have been avid students of left movements. And he considers the future of the right following the upsurge of Occupy Wall Street.