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  • Originally published 06/02/2013

    Steve Hochstadt: Review of Lawrence S. Wittner's "What's Going On at UAardvark?" (Solidarity Press, 2013)

    Steve Hochstadt teaches at Illinois College and blogs for HNN.What if the trend toward commercialization of higher education continued and accelerated? What would the fully commercial university look like? Lawrence Wittner presents UAardvark: every building named after a corporation; TV sets that can’t be turned off, broadcasting commercials in classrooms, dorms, and offices; and a president negotiating to store radioactive waste in the New Technology Center.Wittner taught history for thirty-six years at the State University of New York at Albany, and has widely published on peace movements and nuclear disarmament. His recent memoir, Working for Peace and Justice, identifies him as an activist intellectual; he serves on the national board of Peace Action. This is his first novel.

  • Originally published 03/22/2013

    Gordon N. Bardos: Marxists in the State Department

    Gordon N. Bardos is a Balkan politics and security specialist based in New York. Don’t laugh—but maybe Joe McCarthy was on to something. And the problem might be even more serious than he realized. Stepping back from contemporary policy debates reveals that Marx’s materialist view of history and Lenin’s voluntarism have been the ideological basis for many of our imperial misadventures from the Balkans to the Mideast to Central Asia.Actual commies are probably not crawling Washington’s hallowed halls. But a very Marxist-Leninist understanding of human nature and historical change has nevertheless had a significant impact on U.S. foreign-policy making in recent decades. Some forty years ago, Walker Connor, one of the deans of the study of ethnic nationalism, had already observed (and decried) the ”propensity on the part of American statesmen and scholars of the post-World War II era to assume that economic considerations represent the determining force in human affairs.” This “unwarranted exaggeration of the influence of material factors” on the world is of course a direct outgrowth of Marx’s belief that existence determines consciousness....

  • Originally published 02/11/2013

    New satire unleashes Hitler on modern, multi-cultural Germany

    What would happen if Adolf Hitler woke up in modern-day Berlin to find that it was not occupied by Russian soldiers but instead by a vibrant, multicultural citizenry? This is the premise of the debut novel by German journalist Timur Vermes, Er Ist Wieder Da (He’s Back), which has topped Germany’s best-seller list.Narrated in the first-person by Hitler, the story follows the Führer as he awakens from a 66-year sleep in his bunker beneath Berlin to find an entirely changed Germany. In the celebrity-obsessed modern-day city, everyone assumes the fulminating leader of the Nazi party is a comedian in character — and soon he becomes a celebrity with a guest slot on a Turkish-born comedian’s TV show. His bigoted rants are interpreted as a satirical exposure of prejudice, leading him to decide to start his own political party....