Some highlights from the past year, including Loïc Wacquant on the punitive state, Laura Nader on judging foreign cultures, Timothy Morton on ecological thinking, Robin D. G. Kelley on racial politics and anticolonialism, and Lochlann Jain on cancer in US culture.
Could spending be virtuous and thrift bad? Left-wing economic and cultural historian James Livingston thinks so. He suggests -- taking on the 19th century Populists, the Frankfurt School, and current economic orthodoxy along the way -- that consumption is good for social justice and the environment. Livingston argues that, in place of austerity and frugality, investment should be socialized, wages increased, and the workweek shortened.
What's this notion called the sublime? What does it mean to have a sublime response to something, and why has interest in the sublime waxed and waned? According to Iain Boyd Whyte, the sublime can be discussed in connection with natural phenomena, artistic production, and even political ideology and propaganda.
If we're to believe the mainstream media, the Occupy movement came out of nowhere and represents a new kind of politics. But we should be skeptical of such claims. Social movements scholar Barbara Epstein was a participant in the nonviolent direct action movements of the 1970s and '80s. She describes how they incorporated consensus-based decision-making, radical egalitarianism, and prefigurative politics. And she examines how their strengths and weaknesses have been passed down to Occupy.
Global capitalism, far from being only an economic phenomenon, affects and influences how we think, including what and how we think about the past. Max Haiven reveals how neoliberal-era initiatives frame human cooperation and collective action; he also emphasizes the importance of what he calls "commoning memory."
Two decades into the internet revolution, what's the state of a medium that was supposed to create new, perhaps utopian, relationships between people around the world? Why is it not dominated by collaborative nonprofit efforts like Wikipedia? Media critic Robert McChesney describes how capitalist interests have managed to enclose the non-commercial promise of the internet -- and argues that it doesn't have to be so. He also considers the state of online journalism. (Encore presentation.)