What's new in Newsweek, The New Yorker, and Smithsonian.

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
March 10 2009 11:45 AM

After Capitalism

The Nation rethinks socialism for the 21st century.

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The Nation, March 23 In the cover package, Barbara Ehrenreich and Bill Fletcher Jr. rethink socialism. While both are staunch socialists, they did not expect capitalism to fail in the way that it seemingly has: "There was supposed to be a revolution," not the nationalization that has occurred. Meanwhile, capitalism has left us and our environment "with less than it found on this planet, about 400 years ago." To move forward, "we have to build organizations, including explicitly socialist ones, that can mobilize … talent, develop leadership and advance local struggles." One of several pieces in response to the cover story argues, "[T]here was and is a revolution, just not one that looks the way socialists and a lot of '60s radicals imagined it." To wit, "[o]rganic, urban, community-assisted and guerrilla agriculture" puts up a small but significant fight against giant food corporations.

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Newsweek, March 16 David Frum laments in the cover story that ultraconservative pundit Rush Limbaugh has become "the public face" of the Republican Party. "Rush is a walking stereotype of self-indulgence—exactly the image that Barack Obama most wants to affix to our philosophy and our party," to contrast with the president's calm demeanor and keen sense of responsibility. Limbaugh wants to maintain the Republican Party's status quo, when what it needs, Frum argues, is to "deliver economic improvement," win over voters, and "take governing seriously again." An article considers the fate of former members of an all-female suicide-bomber group in Iraq. Some of the women of Al Khansaa, part of al-Qaida in Iraq, "joined because their fathers, husbands or brothers suggested it" or even forced them to. After one woman blew herself up, the group began to fall apart. Now its former members remain ostracized within their community, where "fear trumps forgiveness."

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Weekly Standard, March 16 The author of the cover story vows to "never, ever join Facebook, the omnipresent online social-networking site that like so many things that have menaced our country (the Unabomber, Love Story, David Gergen) came to us from Harvard but has now worked its insidious hooks into every crevice of society." Usually a late-adopter of trends, he's forsaking this one completely, in part, he notes, because of Farhad Manjoo's assertion on Slate that everyone else has joined. "[C]ollecting Facebook friends is the equivalent of being a cat lady, collecting numerous Himalayans, which you have neither the time nor the inclination to feed," he argues. An article criticizes President Obama for being too complacent about fighting climate change. Despite Obama's call for cap-and-trade legislation to be passed this year, his administration would not levy taxes on emissions until 2012. While Obama quickly pushed through his economic agenda, he "seems in no particular rush to cut down on greenhouse emissions."

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The New Yorker, March 16 In the "Style Issue," a profile of Bill Cunningham lauds his New York Times column "On the Street" for its "elegiac respect for the anonymous promenade of life in a big city, and a dead-serious desire to get it all down." For the past three decades, Cunningham has photographed a variety of fashion statements, from Greta Garbo's classic coats to "the snowman sweatshirts and reindeer turtlenecks of tourists." But Cunningham himself is something of a fashion "oblate—a layperson who has dedicated his life to the tribe without becoming a part of it." Critic David Denby examines the relatively new "mumblecore" genre of low-budget, independent films so nicknamed because they are "a kind of lyrical documentary of American stasis and inarticulateness." In these understated movies, such as Funny Ha Ha (2002) and Alexander the Last (2009), ambition is of little concern to characters content to "remain stuck in a limbo of semi-genteel, moderately hip poverty."

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Smithsonian, March 2009 A feature considers "the difficulties of adjusting to life in a quiescent Northern Ireland." During "the Troubles," "Catholic Irish nationalists, favoring unification with the Irish Republic to the south, began a violent campaign against Britain and the Loyalist Protestant paramilitaries who supported continued British rule." Ten years after a historic peace agreement, Northern Ireland still grapples with old tensions. In some Belfast neighborhoods, brightly painted murals of IRA hunger strikes or Protestant military victories recall past conflicts. Although a once-unlikely coalition government has been formed between two former rivals, "[s]ome IRA splinter groups are still planting explosives and, rarely, executing enemies." Another article analyzes a Cindy Sherman photograph that will appear this spring in an exhibition on the American West at New York's Museum of Modern Art. Sherman, known for her staged, "film still" self-portraits, "resists any reference to cowboys or Indians" in the photo and instead "offers an alternative mythology" of the Western frontier.

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