Authors Archives: Gregory J. Lobo

The Left at the Moment: An Interview with Michael Bérubé

Part I/Politics in the U.S. Today: What Time is It?

Gabriel Noah Brahm: In early 2009, when The Left at War had just come out, Barack Obama was inaugurated and George W. Bush was finally out of office.  Those were heady days.  The right seemed to be on the run, as you put it in the “Introduction” to your book, which you subtitled “On Time.”  Was the feeling that things were looking up for the left, after eight long years, part of why you there called your book “untimely”?  And if so, have times changed again already, so soon and so quickly?  The book seems very timely, with war still raging and the left still in disarray.[1]

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For Liberalism & Thinking Politically Again: Reflections Inspired by Michael Bérubé’s "The Left at War"

Finally, a book on and from the left that constitutes, as a certain sort of Englishman might say, a “proper” bit of thinking! Or, as a certain sort of lawyer might say, an “actionable” analysis and argument, that is, a book which can serve as a basis for action—and thinking politically again. In addition to making the case for a re-politicized cultural studies that does a lot more than endlessly produce ludic commentaries on banal cultural phenomena, Michael Bérubé’s The Left as War gives us the opportunity to seriously reflect on our world. Though Bérubé claims the mantle of a democratic socialist, I want to argue that his analysis and argument are more properly Marxist, in contrast to those who more ostentatiously inhabit that category, like Slavoj Žižek and Alain Badiou, whose non-political and actually non-Marxist thought I will briefly consider below. Bérubé’s work is political, and Marxist, because it seeks to engender a better world on the basis of what is immanent in this one, and not on the basis of its infantile rejection. His book is political in daring us to give up the certainty that so many of us on the left feel that we have it all figured out, if not the details, then the broad outlines. To wit, most of us, though fully linked in to all the benefits derived from the horrible past—air travel, telecommunications, computer technologies—nonetheless purport to be the arch enemy of the present, the capitalist, neoimperialist, patriarchal, heteronormative, liberal democratic present. What enables our certainty is our conviction that we know who the bad guys are—and they are, when all is said and done, us—and so by a simple if not very rigorous logic we know who the good guys are—anyone who is against us.

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GUEST EDITORS' INTRODUCTION: Toward a Post-Manichean Left

For Christopher Hitchens—the Left at War with Himself

What follows are nine essays inspired by Michael Berube’s book of 2009, The Left at War (NYU Press), prefaced by Nick Cohen’s shot at dealing in brief with some of the same issues, which he takes on at greater length in his book of 2007, What’s Left? (Harper Perennial).  Our interview with Berube was conducted in light of his reading of these pieces, and his own piece—a “response to the responses,” titled “The Left at Bay”—which comes after.

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9/11, Moral Equivalence & Appropriate Response: Reflections on "Left" Reactions

With the recent announcement by members of the Bush administration that Cuba is on the list of possible targets in the ongoing war on terror, and the release of the latest US military budget which is greater than the military budgets of the next 15 highest spending countries combined(!), it is perhaps time to reflect on the “debate” which took place among what I want to call practioners of critical discourse over the nature of the attacks on September 11 and of the appropriate response. Despite the title, I don’t really want to situate this debate on the left-hence the scare quotes above-since some people think that a man like Clinton was/is on the left; fewer, I think, would credit him with practicing critical discourse.

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