What Are We Talking About When We Talk about Socialism?
With the election to the House of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, following up on the surprising Presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, socialism is on the rise, after a long decline in America. But the Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer says there is a great deal of ambiguity about what socialism even means. Americans have always danced around the term, and the actual policies advanced under the banner of socialism may look very similar to liberalism, or social democracy, or even the historical movement known as “good government.” Sanders declared that the hero of his brand of socialism is Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who insisted that he was not a socialist. Lepore tells David Remnick, “The way our politics works is to discredit not the idea or the policy but the label.” Plus, the actor Richard E. Grant has just been nominated for his first Oscar, for “Can You Ever Forgive Me,” after thirty-plus years in the movies. And, as an Oscar nominee, he finally got Barbra Streisand, his all-time idol, to reply to a fan letter he sent her nearly fifty years ago.
Teju Cole on Blackface and Valeria Luiselli on the Border Crisis
When depictions of Virginia politicians in blackface surfaced this month, the New Yorker contributor was unsurprised. “A white man of a certain age in the U.S.,” he reflects, “is found to have done something racist in his past; well, yes.” As a photographer and photo critic, he is acutely aware that a photograph captures the thinnest sliver of time, half a second or much less. So any photograph of a man in blackface—or in any other offensive image—always indicates that “there’s a lot more where that came from.” And Valeria Luiselli, a writer born in Mexico, struggles to depict the experiences of children arriving alone at the southern border, in circumstances unimaginably different from her own border crossings as the daughter of a diplomat.
To Stop the Shooting, Lupe Cruz Gets Between the People with the Guns
Conversations about gun reform are often galvanized by catastrophic mass shootings. But gun violence mostly unfolds as a matter of awful routine: domestic-partner homicides, suicides, and shootings between people who know each other are everyday occurrences. “A ll this [talk of] legislation, that doesn’t mean anything for us,” Lupe Cruz says, in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago. “Most of the guns in this community are stolen. This is the real world.”
A onetime gang member, Cruz mediated disputes informally for years before being recruited by an organization called Cure Violence. Their trained mediators, or “interrupters,” will show up after shootings or at funerals, and talk down the people who are likely to retaliate. Cruz now leads Cure Violence projects in Latin America and elsewhere. But she still mediates in her old neighborhood, where the stakes are very high: if her intervention doesn’t work, someone she knows may get shot—maybe right in front of her, which is what happened in November. She is getting tired and would like to “pass on the torch,” she tells the reporter Caroline Lester. But they need her in Little Village.
Is the Tide Turning on Gun Reform?
This week, the House held hearings on gun violence, the first in eight years. In the 2018 elections, gun-reform groups outspent the N.R.A.—which appears to be in financial trouble. After years of greatly expanded gun rights, is the tide turning on gun reform? In this special episode, David Remnick talks with Lucy McBath, who ran for Congress as a gun reformer and won in the conservative district once represented by Newt Gingrich. We’ll hear from the reporter Mike Spies, the criminal-justice professor April Zeoli, the Navy veteran Will Mackin, and the gun-violence survivor Sarah Engle.
Marlon James Builds His Own Damn Universe
When the cast of the film “The Hobbit” was first announced, Marlon James was dismayed—though hardly surprised—by how white it was. A long-standing complaint of black fans of fantasy is that authors can imagine dwarves and elves and orcs, but not black characters. “I got so tired of this whole question of inclusion, and the backlash against asking to be included,” James tells the staff writer Jia Tolentino, “that I said, ‘I’m going to make my own damn universe.’ ” That was one origin point of James’s “Dark Star” trilogy, which he describes as “an African ‘Game of Thrones.’ ” The first book, which is about to be published, is called “Black Leopard, Red Wolf,” and it centers on the search for a missing boy by a disparate cast of characters. Another origin point for him was the TV show “The Affair”; James borrowed the structural device of a story related by multiple characters whose perspectives don’t quite add up. James talks about writing fantasy from a Caribbean perspective, where “magical realism” may not seem so magical. Plus, a successful C.E.O. says that activist investors’ quest for one quick stock bump after another is wrecking companies and eroding American competitiveness.