Being as completely distracted and off the ball as I have been lately as regards politics & journalism & news & culture & whatever, it has only just now come to my attention through a couple of different sources that The Baffler is back!!!
here and especially here. In The Baffler's glory days, during the Clinton era, its editor Thomas Frank and his coterie of South Side Chicago smart-asses provided a sustained critique of a Democratic Party that had transformed itself into a fanatically pro-laissez faire force, a party that turned its back on economic populism, but nevertheless continued -- pathetically -- to compensate for completely selling out its base by signaling its supposed 'leftism' by adopting ludicrously 'tough' postures, which naturally fed right into the hysterical"Culture Wars"-style paranoia propagated by the A.M. radio demagogues and Think-Tank-Neo-McCarthyists of the Far Right. Furthermore, Frank and Company poked fun at the appropriation by multi-national marketeers of 'oppositional' pop culture tropes and 'attitudes', from the Nirvana-like guitar-crunch sounded by ads selling luxury cars, to Burger King's strategy of hawking burgers and fries with the apothegm: "Sometimes You've Gotta Break the Rules."
The list of contributors to the first issue of The Baffler's "Volume 2" appears to be a bit heavy on academicians. It was not uncommon for the 90s version of the journal to include the occasional professor or Ivory Tower-type -- after all, Frank himself earned a Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago. But in those days, the the lion's share of spineless bimbos putatively positioned on the 'Left', inside and outside of academe, were united -- for either ideological or pragmatic reasons -- in their support for the new and improved neoliberal, "Third Way"-style Democratic Party. Some of the most forceful opposition to Frank's brand of left-populism -- and especially the way in which Frank framed the "Culture Wars" issue -- issued from politically engaged academic-types who really should have known better. Among them, and someone who in most respects I quite like, is the literature and cultural-studies professor Michael Bérubé.
But anyway, I gather that The Baffler has returned in part because the arguments to which it has given voice regarding market fundamentalism -- and the political toxicity of the Democratic Party's continuing institutional (read: $) and ideological allegiance with it -- are now impossible for an intellectually honest person to ignore. The impotence of the Democratic Party, despite enjoying an unprecedented congressional majority, the incoherence of the party's ideological stance as regards big business interests, health care, social justice, and any number of issues, and the Obama Administration's inability and unwillingness to pursue real reforms against an appallingly oligarchic financial sector are the inevitable consequences of thirty-or-more years of cynical market fundamentalism. A fundamentalism against which there is no bulwark in this country -- no checks, no balances. Pretty grim. But at least somebody's pointing it out now.
See also Thomas Frank's great new piece in The Wall Street Journal about the Right-wing Christian Fundamentalists who have hijacked -- with SERIOUSLY SHOCKING results (NY Times) -- the content of the social studies textbooks to be manufactured and distributed throughout Texas and probably throughout many other states.