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The Ideology of Capitalist Democracy
One of the most confounding aspects of American society—the one that perhaps most frequently perplexes observers both domestic and foreign—is the vast contradiction between what anthropologists might term the “hot” and “cold” elements in the culture. The hot encompasses the dynamic and progressive aspects of a society dedicated to growth and productivity, marked by mobility, innovation, and optimism. In contrast, the cold embodies rigid social forms and archaic beliefs, fundamentalisms of all kinds, racism and xenophobia, anti-intellectualism, cultural atavism, and ignorance—in short, the primitive.
For cultural critic Paul Smith, the tension between progressive and primitive is a constitutive condition of American history and culture. In Primitive America, Smith contemplates this primary contradiction as it has played out in the years since 9/11. Indeed, he writes, much of what has happened since—events that have seemed to many to be novel and egregious—can be explained by this foundational dialectic.
More radically still, Primitive America attests that this underlying stress is driven by America’s unquestioned devotion to the elemental propositions and processes of capitalism. This devotion, Smith argues, has become America’s quintessential characteristic, and he begins this book by elaborating on the idea of the primitive in America—its specific history of capital accumulation, commodity fetishism, and cultural narcissism. Smith goes on to track the symptoms of the primitive that have arisen in the aftermath of 9/11 and the commencement of the “Long War” against “violent extremists”: the nature of American imperialism, the status of the U.S. Constitution, the militarization of America’s economy and culture, and the Bush administration’s disregard for human rights.
An urgent and important engagement with current American policies and practices, Primitive America is, at the same time, an incisive critique of the ideology that fuels the ethos of America’s capitalist culture.
Paul Smith is professor of cultural studies at George Mason University and the author of numerous books, including Clint Eastwood: A Cultural Production (Minnesota, 1993).
Pacifist Bookseller Roy Kepler and the Paperback Revolution
Long a hub for literary bohemians, countercultural musicians, and readers interested in a good browse, Kepler's Books and Magazines is one of the most well-known independent bookstores in American history. When owner Roy Kepler opened the store in 1955 he changed the book industry forever as a pioneer in the “paperback revolution.” The notion of selling texts in inexpensive paperbound volumes was revolutionary in the publishing trade and Kepler's focus on stocking these inexpensive books put him at the forefront of the movement. Paperback-selling was not the only revolution Kepler supported, however. In Radical Chapters, Doyle sheds light on Kepler’s remarkable contributions not only to the book industry but also to pacifism. Recalling the tumultuous politics of the last century, he highlights Kepler’s achievements in advocating radical pacifism during World War II, anti-nuclear activism during the Cold War era, and the anti-Vietnam War movement. During those decades, Kepler’s Books played an integral role, creating a community and space to exchange ideas for such notable figures as Jerry Garica, Joan Baez, and Stewart Brand. Doyle’s fascinating chronicle captures the man who inspired that community and offers a moving tribute to his legacy.
The Rockefeller Plan and the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, 1914-1942
"Rees makes effective use of new sources to give a more nuanced understanding of the operation of one of the nation's more progressive company unions. He makes a strong case, in his conclusion, for the argument that, whatever the limitations of company employee plans, they provide workers with more protection than no union, and they often plant the seeds for the emergence of truly independent unions."—Elizabeth Fones-Wolf, Business History Review
In response to the tragedy of the Ludlow Massacre, John D. Rockefeller Jr. introduced one of the nation's first employee representation plans (ERPs) to the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company in 1915. With the advice of William Mackenzie King, who would go on to become prime minister of Canada, the plan - which came to be known as the Rockefeller Plan - was in use until 1942 and became the model for ERPs all over the world. In Representation and Rebellion Jonathan Rees uses a variety of primary sources - including records recently discovered at the company's former headquarters in Pueblo, Colorado - to tell the story of the Rockefeller Plan and those who lived under it, as well as to detail its various successes and failures. Taken as a whole, the history of the Rockefeller Plan is not the story of ceaseless oppression and stifled militancy that its critics might imagine, but it is also not the story of the creation of a paternalist panacea for labor unrest that Rockefeller hoped it would be. Addressing key issues of how this early twentieth-century experiment fared from 1915 to 1942, Rees argues that the Rockefeller Plan was a limited but temporarily effective alternative to independent unionism in the wake of the Ludlow Massacre. The book will appeal to business and labor historians, political scientists, and sociologists, as well as those studying labor and industrial relations.
From the KKK to the Michigan Militia
"A real contribution to Michigan history that gets to the root of the movements in twentieth-century American history that upon reflection can bring a certain discomfort and unease." ---Francis X. Blouin, Director of the Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan Throughout the twentieth century, Michigan became home to nearly every political movement in America that emerged from the grassroots. Citizens organized on behalf of concerns on the "left," on the "right," and in the "middle of the road." Right in Michigan's Grassroots: From the KKK to the Michigan Militia is about the people who supported movements that others, then and later, would denounce as disgraceful---members of the Ku Klux Klan during the 1920s, the followers of Father Charles Coughlin in the 1930s, anti-Communists and the John Birch Society in the post–World War II era, and the members of the Michigan Militia who first appeared in the 1990s. The book explores the complex historical circumstances in Michigan that prompted the emergence of these organizations and led everyday men and women to head off, despite ridicule or condemnation, with plans unsanctioned and tactics unorthodox, variously brandishing weapons of intimidation, discrimination, fearmongering, and terror. Drawing heavily on primary sources, including the organizations' files and interviews with some of their leaders and surviving members, JoEllen Vinyard provides a far more complete portrait of these well-known extremist groups than has ever been available.
This book explores the life and works of the pioneering opera composer Robert Ashley, one of the leading American composers of the post-Cage generation. Ashley's innovations began in the 1960s when he, along with Alvin Lucier, Gordon Mumma, and David Behrman, formed the Sonic Arts Union, a group that turned conceptualism toward electronics. He was also instrumental in the influential ONCE Group, a theatrical ensemble that toured extensively in the 1960s. During his tenure as its director, the ONCE Festival in Ann Arbor presented most of the decade's pioneers of the performing arts. Particularly known for his development of television operas beginning with Perfect Lives, Ashley spun a long series of similar text/music works, sometimes termed "performance novels." These massive pieces have been compared with Wagner's Ring Cycle for the vastness of their vision, though the materials are completely different, often incorporating noise backgrounds, vernacular music, and highly structured, even serialized, musical structures. _x000B__x000B_Drawing on extensive research into Ashley's early years in Ann Arbor and interviews with Ashley and his collaborators, Kyle Gann chronicles the life and work of this musical innovator and provides an overview of the avant-garde milieu of the 1960s and 1970s to which he was so central. Gann examines all nine of Ashley's major operas to date in detail, along with many minor works, revealing the fanatical structures that underlie Ashley's music as well as private references hidden in his opera librettos._x000B_
Evangelical Performance in Twenty-First-Century America
In Sensational Devotion, Jill Stevenson examines a range of evangelical performances, including contemporary Passion plays, biblical theme parks, Holy Land re-creations, creationist museums, and megachurches, to understand how they serve their evangelical audiences while shaping larger cultural and national dialogues. Such performative media support specific theologies and core beliefs by creating sensual, live experiences for believers, but the accessible, familiar forms they take and the pop culture motifs they employ also attract nonbelievers willing to “try out” these genres, even if only for curiosity’s sake. This familiarity not only helps these performances achieve their goals, but it also enables them to contribute to public dialogue about the role of religious faith in America. Stevenson shows how these genres are significant and influential cultural products that utilize sophisticated tactics in order to reach large audiences comprised of firm believers, extreme skeptics, and those in between. Using historical research coupled with personal visits to these various venues, the author not only critically examines these spaces and events within their specific religious, cultural, and national contexts, but also places them within a longer devotional tradition in order to suggest how they cultivate religious belief by generating vivid, sensual, affectively oriented, and individualized experiences.
The Black Panthers Take a Stand in New Orleans
Through interviews with many individuals involved with the Black Panther Party in New Orleans in 1970, including Robert H. King, one of the Angola 3, Showdown in Desire tells the story of a year that included a shootout with the police on Piety Street, the creation of survival programs, and the daylong standoff between the panthers and the police in the Desire housing development.
When Edward Snowden began leaking NSA documents in June 2013, his actions sparked impassioned debates about electronic surveillance, national security, and privacy in the digital age. The Snowden Reader looks at Snowden’s disclosures and their aftermath. Critical analyses by experts discuss the historical, political, legal, and ethical issues raised by the disclosures. Over forty key documents related to the case are included, with introductory notes explaining their significance: documents leaked by Snowden; responses from the NSA, the Obama administration, and Congress; statements by foreign leaders, their governments, and international organizations; judicial rulings; findings of review committees; and Snowden’s own statements. This book provides a valuable introduction and overview for anyone who wants to go beyond the headlines to understand this historic episode.
The Presidency of George W. Bush
National Security Policy after 9/11
In Unending Crisis, Thomas Graham Jr. examines the second Bush administration's misguided management of foreign policy, the legacy of which has been seven major - and almost irresolvable - national security crises involving North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, the Arab-Israeli conflict in Palestine, and nuclear proliferation. Unending Crisis considers these issues individually and together, emphasizing their interrelationship and delineating the role that the neoconservative agenda played in redefining the way America is perceived in the world today.