"The charmingly naive American student is in fact a cash cow, and everyone has got a scheme for slicing off a porterhouse or two… .It is all so wonderfully circular, is it not? We know college degrees make us affluent because affluent people have college degrees; and we also know that we must spend lots of money on college - signing up for a life of debt, essentially - because we believe status signifiers like college ought to be fantastically expensive. Think about it this way for long enough and you start to suspect that maybe those fancy stickers you put in your rear window are what education is all about, the distilled essence of the whole thing."

Thomas Frank on the collapse of the American university in Baffler #23: ACADMY FIGHT SONG.

“In the wake of Edward Snowden’s leaks, the news media leapt into its usual dismal role, working to provide all of the really important information. Why is Snowden such a bad person? What’s wrong with Glenn Greenwald, the lawyer and activist who was Snowden’s contact at the Guardian? Is it bad for individuals to reveal the projects of state power, or is it unspeakable? But a few stories hinted at the outlines of our burgeoning reality, describing telecom and Internet companies as active partners in an exchange with government rather than mere victims of bureaucratic overreach. An employee of Booz Allen showed us, at least in outline, the intimate connections between the security state and its adjuncts in what we quaintly refer to as the “private sector.” That’s treason. Patriots don’t interfere with healthy business relationships.”
Chris Bray writes on the thought process behind the American security state in “Street Legal: The national security state comes home,” newly published in The Baffler #23: A Carnival of Buncombe.
Introducing Baffler #23: A Carnival of Buncombe!
Available in all your favorite bookstores and featuring Susan Faludi, Thomas Frank, and many more. In the meantime, read Jim Frederick’s “Internment Camp: The Intern Economy and the Culture Trust,” written for Baffler #9 and excerpted in #23 (because all we can say is: we told you so).

Introducing Baffler #23: A Carnival of Buncombe!

Available in all your favorite bookstores and featuring Susan FaludiThomas Frank, and many more. In the meantime, read Jim Frederick’sInternment Camp: The Intern Economy and the Culture Trust,” written for Baffler #9 and excerpted in #23 (because all we can say is: we told you so).

Sheryl Sandberg won’t talk to us, and more from last night’s episode of Greater Boston on WGBH.

“He has populated the magazine with other interstitial thinkers, intellectual drifters dismissed by the academy for being too snarky, too strident, or too sincere. There’s Thomas Frank, of course, who remains on the magazine’s masthead as ‘Founding Editor’ and regularly contributes articles and substantive input. There’s [Chris] Lehmann, now the journal’s senior editor and an invaluable collaborator for Summers. (‘Chris is a veteran editor, and I’m just playing,’ Summers said.) There’s the radical anthropologist David Graeber; authors Susan Faludi and Rick Perlstein. Though many of the contributors have high public profiles, they are unaffiliated with academic organizations. They have found in The Baffler’s pages a home for ideas they can’t express elsewhere.”
— Yep, that’s us, the island of misfit intellectuals. Read what the Columbia Journalism Review has to say about The Baffler, and then maybe subscribe.
“Before, my Spanish wasn’t so bad, but it wasn’t so good, either….at 5:30 a.m. the morning of June 28, 2009, I plunged into a pit so huge and so dark and so endless that it was—and still is—far beyond any words I had ever learned or imagined having to learn.

I already knew the biggest, most important word: golpe (coup, or blow). But that morning, the radio said golpe de estado—the full phrase, ‘a blow to the state’—a coup d’état. As in, a violent overthrow of constitutional order.”
— In an essay from our upcoming issue, Baffler #23, UC Santa Cruz professor and activist Dana Frank reflects on the anniversary of the 2009 Honduras coup. To get this essay in print, delivered right to your door, make sure to subscribe.
“Over the last few years, however, certain reaches of the political Right have developed an outright cult of the capital strike. We can see it, for example, in the resurgent popularity of Atlas Shrugged and its reversal of the strike-novel tropes of the thirties….Every news item, to these apostles of the capital strike, vibrates with the universal political chorus: Do what business wants! Do what business wants! Do what business wants! Or! Else!”
Baffler founding editor Thomas Frank on capital strikes and insane Randian island fantasies..Over the boom and through the bust, “To Galt’s Gulch They Go”!
“A seduction to be successful has to imply a moment of impotence and failure, in the sense that you playfully acknowledge your limitations. Seduction never works with perfection. People are totally wrong when they think that you should present yourself as perfect, blah blah blah blah.”
“Pornography is the most censored genre you can imagine. First, you notice how totally regulated it is. In standard heterosexual porn, what happens? First, you have some fantasizing, masturbation, cunnilingus, fellatio, then full sex, then maybe an orgy, whatever. It’s absolutely codified.”
— Once upon a time we interviewed Slavoj Žižek


This week:

Cotton Tenants by James Agee with photographs by Walker Evans

9781612192123 // $24.95

This is the rediscovered original magazine piece Agee wrote that was later transformed into Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. It is probably impossible to overstate the esteem we—and readers at large—hold for Agee, and for this work in particular. 

Cotton Tenants is the story of three families of desperate but proud farmers in the South in the great depression. They struggle under an endless mountain of debt. They postpone or forego medical treatment they can’t afford. They are victims of a mindless, cruel system that steals their labor, their lives, and in return gives them not happiness but only—and rarely—an unthinking stillness, a biding of time. 

Thank god we’ve come so far since then.

Find it in you library or local indie bookseller now.

Co-published between us and Melville House. Out tomorrow!