Not long before Margaret Thatcher’s intensely dramatic departure from office in November 1990, the veteran Conservative politician William Whitelaw was talking to Sir Robin Butler, recently appointed as Cabinet secretary, the most senior permanent official in the British government. As Charles Moore relates in Read originalRead More
John Rawls, who died in 2002, was the most influential American philosopher of the twentieth century. His great work, A Theory of Justice, appeared in 1971 and defined the field of political philosophy for generations. It set out standards for a just society in the form of two principles.
Condé Nast was actually a person—a fact that might come as a surprise to readers who know the name only from the magazine publishing corporation, a company so monumental that it’s practically synonymous with twentieth-century periodicals. The man who established the high-end glossy Read originalRead More
In 1971, the artist Suzanne Lacy was taking classes with Judy Chicago at the California Institute of the Arts, and she had an idea: What if they created a performance that involved an audience listening to recordings of women telling their stories of rape? It sounds simple now but it wasn’t then, because those kinds of stories weren’t told. Nancy Princenthal writes in her Read originalRead More
Murder mysteries, however else they might differ, rely on one major, shared belief: that murder matters, and is worth looking into. Whoever did the killing, whoever was killed, the investigation moves forward because the people inside the story and those outside of it, following along as the clues unfold, agree that the murder has moral weight, and ought to be solved. Read originalRead More
At the Cannes Film Festival in May, the actress Elle Fanning walked down the red carpet in a silk Gucci gown, with cape sleeves and a crystal appliqué flower at the waist. The cost of this soigné ensemble—that is, if you could buy it in stores, which you cannot—likely reached $10,000, and that is without the shoes.
Ben Lerner writes novels about Ben Lerner. This sentence might have once sounded like a criticism. But since writing that collapses the distance between fiction and author—so-called autofiction—is au courant, it is nearer an endorsement. The hero of Lerner’s debut novel, 2011’s Leaving the Atocha Station, is a poet named Adam Gordon.
How a political film should aim to make you feel is a tricky question. There’s the Ken Loach approach, worthy and moving but, in this overcrowded landscape, arguably not fashioned to persuade (or even attract) those viewers not already on-side, and there’s the fast-paced Armando Iannucci satire, in which hypocrisies are gleefully punctured and the accepted political culture is stretched toward its Swiftian logical conclusions.
In 1958, sociologist Michael Young wrote a dark satire called The Rise of the Meritocracy. The term “meritocracy” was Young’s own coining, and he chose it to denote a new aristocracy based on expertise and test-taking instead of breeding and titles. In Young’s book, set in 2034, Britain is forced to evolve by international economic competition. The elevation of IQ over birth first serves as a democratizing force championed by socialists, but ultimately results in a rigid caste system.