Innocent abroad

In a recent issue of TNR , Alan Wolfe reviewed David Kuo’s book telling the story of his service in the current Bush administration. Kuo worked in the office of faith-based initiatives, and though he left the administration he still praises Bush because of his Christian testimony. What . . . . Continue Reading »

World Cities again

Thinking again about Mike Featherstone’s comments on the fact that multiculturalism developed first in Southern Hemisphere cities (quoted in a post from September 2006), it strikes me that one of the dynamics of the current global situation is a reversal of colonialism. That’s true in . . . . Continue Reading »

Mass culture

The point of theories of “mass culture” is not so much the “mass” as the “culture.” Goods and services may be distributed to a large number of people in economies where what is called “mass culture” doesn’t exist. When theorists use the phrase, . . . . Continue Reading »


Baudrillard sounds like a nut when he says that we are now living in a hyperreal world, a virtual world. But there is certainly something to it. We’re still physical creatures, of course, surrounded by physical objects, and that doesn’t change when we get strapped in for some virtual . . . . Continue Reading »

Community of the fearful

Postmodernity unleashes fear, Bauman says: “Modernity was a continuous and uncompromising effort to fill or to cover up the void; the modern mentality held a stern belief that the job can be done - if not today then tomorrow. The sin of postmodernity is to abandon the effort and to deny the . . . . Continue Reading »


Johannes Fabian argues in his Time and the Other that “geopolitics has its ideological foundations in chronopolitics.” Bauman summarizes the argument: “The modern perspective ‘denied coevality’ to any form of life different from its own; it construed the Other of . . . . Continue Reading »

Slavery in America

In his recent history of slavery in the New World, David Brion Davis records some surprising facts about American slavery. Prior to 1820, for instance, African slaves were more numerous than European settlers by a ratio of 5 to 1. About 5-6 percent of slaves in the Western hemisphere were in North . . . . Continue Reading »

Toleration and absolutism

In his history of the idea of toleration, the late A.J. Conyers summarizes the arguments of Robert P. Kraynak on the development of Locke’s thought on religious toleration. The puzzle is this: Locke’s early works are absolutist in a Hobbesian vein, invoking the supreme . . . . Continue Reading »

Herbert on Pop Music

Zbigniew Herbert writes in a poem entitled “Mr Cogito and Pop” of a visit to a concert. “Mr Cogito,” a recurring character in Herbert’s poems, reflects on the “aesthetics of noise” and offers some penetrating observations on the character of contemporary . . . . Continue Reading »