This issue of Catalyst focuses on challenges to the political elites, both in the United States and in its wards. In a far-ranging essay, Dina Rizk Khoury examines the calamitous results of the US invasion of Iraq. In the wake of the military settlement and subsequent occupation, Washington not only managed to dismantle many of the institutional anchors for daily life, it incubated a ruling elite that has only maintained its predecessors’ contempt for democratic rights and popular sovereignty. Khoury cogently lays out the political economy of this new ruling class, then provides an analysis of the subaltern forces coming together against it.
Despite cheering on the invasion and the occupation that followed, the mainstream media has been largely silent on events in Iraq since then. The same cannot be said for Israel, which has always had an outsize position in the public eye. While Israeli brutality toward the Palestinians has largely been either ignored or, more scandalously, defended, the tenor of public debate has shifted quite dramatically of late. American media has suddenly woken up to the brutal human costs of Israel’s occupation and its periodic military attacks on the Palestinian territories. In this issue, we publish a symposium with Noam Chomsky, Rashid Khalidi, and Gilbert Achcar, in which the three analysts consider how and why the US coverage of Israeli policy has shifted so dramatically.
The changed attitude toward Israel is only part of the rapidly changing political discourse in the United States more generally. One of the most dramatic developments in this respect has been the crisis within the Republican Party since Donald Trump’s election. On the one hand, the party is even more brazenly attacking democratic institutions than it ever has before. But on the other, some of its most visible leaders are calling for an embrace of the working class, with a pronounced tilt toward economic populism. Making sense of this phenomenon is one of the most pressing tasks for the Left. In an ambitious analysis, Paul Heideman debunks the claim that the GOP is gaining real traction with the working class. He then examines the longer-term forces that are roiling the party, rendering it incapable of maintaining its place as the favored political vehicle for US capital.
And, in the latest entry in our “Radical Classics” series, Jeremy Cohan and Ben Serby take up Herbert Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man, one of the most influential books in the American New Left as it emerged during the 1960s. Marcuse’s great work is frequently cited, but it no longer carries much weight among today’s student left. Cohan and Serby advise that there is much in the book still of value, and hence that it ought to be revived — but that some of its central arguments are quite dubious, even mistaken. One-Dimensional Man deserves a place on today’s bookshelves — but with a warning label.