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  • Domenico di Michelino's “La commedia illumina Firenze” on the wall of Florence Cathedral.
    in Lists

    My Year in Reading, 2022

    My entirely not-of-the-moment, provisional list of favorite reads from 2022, the books that most shaped my thinking this year.

  • Black and white photo of a Soviet woman looking at fallen hammer and sickle emblem.
    in Notes

    The Age of Extremes

    As tempting as it is to fantasize on what could have been, the historian’s task, Hobsbawm quips, is to analyze what was. And so despite his sympathies and disappointments, Hobsbawm does what no ideological historian can do, but which only the best Marxist thinkers are capable of.

  • Pyramid of Capitalist System, 1911 cartoon.

    Max Weber famously argued for an “elective affinity” between a Calvinist work ethic and the economic requirements of industrial capitalism. In its insistence on secularized vocation and deferment of worldly pleasure, according to Weber, the Protestant work ethic gave religious sanction to certain kinds of economic activity, namely, the reinvestment of wealth as capital to build society’s productive forces.

  • Copperplate print showing perspective view of Nikolaikirche, Leipzig.
    in Notes

    Subversive Bach

    The music brings out this sense of inexorableness that the text signals with words like bestimmen (designate, determine, appoint) and the clipped, forceful, almost untranslatable Not (destitution, misery, dire need).

  • “The Year of Jubilee,” by Henry Le Jeune.
    in Essays

    Beyond Jubilee

    My review of Haymarket’s Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay: The Case for Economic Disobedience and Debt Abolition, for The Bias magazine.

  • Stephen Jay Gould in his office.

    “Cardboard Darwinism,” writes biologist Stephen Jay Gould in an essay of the same name, “is a reductionist, one-way theory about the grafting of information from environment upon organism,” or what amounts to a form of biological determinism.