China Mieville, Partition, Koreas, Confederate, Abuja, Guam, Torture

Hic sunt camelopardus: this historical edition of The Browser is presented for archaeological purposes; links and formatting may be broken.

China Miéville: October

Eric Blanc | Verso | 15th August 2017

Conversation about the lessons of the Russian revolution at the level of practical politics rather than ideology. “It’s important to stress the party not as a top-down issuer of instructions, but as a brake, a restraint. I find it very striking the extent to which key moments during high political dramas (not just the Russian Revolution) are not some vanguard telling people what to do, but about saying ‘Stop’, urging restraint, trying to control an understandable but violent rage” (5,200 words)

The Raj Is Dead

Editorial | Guardian | 15th August 2017

Contemporary editorial on Indian partition and independence. Possibly sincere, but stunning in its self-regard. “Indian society had become ossified. Through contact with the outer world the Indian people recovered a vitality such as they had not known for over a thousand years. As soon as this happened the political changes now being completed could only be a matter of time, for Great Britain had neither the desire nor ability to rule a people which had recovered the will to rule itself” (1,180 words)

Korean Borderland

Kurt Kohldstedt | 99% Invisible | 14th August 2017

“Strange structures start to appear all around as one drives toward the Korean Demilitarized Zone from either side of the border. There are overhead signs and what appear to be bridges connecting nothing at either end, roadside concrete blocks stacked like Brutalist totem poles, beach ball-sized steel orbs rusting on stumpy pedestals and other odd varieties. While the forms vary, these odd assemblies share a common purpose: in case of war, explosives can quickly turn them into defensive rubble” (1,600 words)

The Lost Cause Rides Again

Ta-Nehisi Coates | Atlantic | 4th August 2017

HBO says that its planned new series, Confederate, will offer “an alternative history of post-Civil War America”, portraying America “as if the South had won”. And how much fiction is there supposed to be in this, exactly? In the real America the values of the South survived and thrived. White supremacy captured the political mainstream for decades. It is gaining ground again now. Has HBO really thought through the idea of exciting a new generation with the fantasies of the Ku Klux Klan? (1,500 words)

Letter From Abuja

Mathias Agbo | Common Edge | 15th August 2017

Portrait of Nigeria’s capital city, purpose-built in the 1980s and now home to five million people, who have flocked there because Abuja is safer and better-run than other big cities, and in the hope of government jobs. But outside the core, Abuja has grown without planning or infrastructure. There is no city-wide public transport system. Most residential neighborhoods lack roads and streetlights. Only the older districts have mains water. Residents of newer neighborhoods must drill boreholes (1,200 words)

What Is Guam?

Shannon Togawa Mercer | Lawfare | 15th August 2017

American military bases cover 28% of Guam, an island of 162,000 people lying 2,100 miles south of Korea and 4,000 miles south-west of Hawaii. The US Navy governed Guam after taking it from Spain in 1898. America lost Guam to Japan in 1941 and retook it in 1944. Guam was declared to be an “unincorporated territory of the United States” — in effect, a colony — in 1950. Residents have US citizenship “through congressional grace, rather than constitutional right” (2,400 words)

Terrorism, Ticking Time-Bombs, And Torture

Christopher Morris | Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews | 7th August 2017

Review of Fritz Allhoff’s book about the philosophy of torture. Allhoff makes a persuasive case for the use of torture in specific cases where the lesser harm of torture can prevent the greater harm of terrorism. But by building his argument on individual cases, Allhoff fails to give due weight to the near-impossibility of implementing a public policy which allows for torture only in such cases and in no others; and yet such a policy is essential for permitting torture in the first place (2,500 words)

Video of the day: Baikal Ice

What to expect:

Ethnobeat, an Irkutsk percussion group, plays the ice on Lake Baikal (4’26”)

Thought for the day

The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things
Rainer Maria Rilke

Join 150,000+ curious readers who grow with us every day

No spam. No nonsense. Unsubscribe anytime.

Great! Check your inbox and click the link to confirm your subscription
Please enter a valid email address!
You've successfully subscribed to The Browser
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in
Could not sign in! Login link expired. Click here to retry
Cookies must be enabled in your browser to sign in