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Field Notes

Money Magic

That the feasibility of using the ongoing depression to further drive down wages, cut benefits, and worsen working conditions is being discussed via a social-scientific dispute—whether a short-term relief measure is a disincentive to work at a time when 30 million jobs have vanished—tells us more about the nature of economics than about the motivation for employment. It provides further support, if any is needed, for historian of science Jerome Ravetz’s description of economics as a “folk science,” “a body of accepted knowledge whose function is not to provide the basis for further advance but to offer comfort and reassurance to some body of believers.”2

Health Self-Defense in a São Paulo Favela

In Brazil, there is a public discourse that associates the spread of epidemic diseases with favelas and urban peripheries. It is based on epidemiological bulletins and maps, produced by the federal government’s official organs, which employ a global perspective that often hides the realities specific to Brazil’s metropolitan areas. In times of crisis, these kinds of communications fuel the stigmatization of marginal territories by treating them as places perilous to public health and safety.

In Conversation

RAQUEL DE ANDA with Ethel Palacios Shipton

Laredo, Texas sits on the border across from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. It has been a community for 265 years with a 95 percent Hispanic population and is the largest inland port in the United States. Now this wonderful binational/bicultural city is being threatened anew by the building of an unwanted border wall.

Politics with Normal Characteristics

The reality is that Trump’s presidency has been anything but “not normal.” It has continued the same brutal worldview of his predecessors, albeit with unorthodox theatrics that has made the mockery of our two-party system transparent.

Beyond “Racial Capitalism”

The uprising sparked by the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis has again placed the question of race at the center of politics in the US. While the right steadfastly denies the existence of racism and advocates greater repression against those protesting police violence, the left—both liberal and socialist—is scrambling to come to grips with the rebellion.

The Dangerous Seduction of Reform

While the original incarnation of Black Lives Matter focused on blocking infrastructure, like highways and bridges—ostensibly to wake up a slumbering public to the brutal reality of American policing, and press for reforms that would make Black lives matter in the eyes of the law—this time around protestors have unleashed an often frontal attack on symbols of carceral power: police precincts, courthouses, department of correction buildings, to name a few. As these rotting avatars of social control draw increasing fire, sometimes it seems that anything is possible but a return to the status quo that they serve to prop up. 

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The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2020

All Issues