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Failure Is an Option

Cover Art by Mark Pernice
That aspect of the modern crisis which is bemoaned as a “wave of materialism” is related to what is called the “crisis of authority.” If the ruling class has lost its consensus, i.e. is no longer “leading” but only “dominant,” exercising coercive force alone, this means precisely that the great masses have become detached from their traditional ideologies, and no longer believe what they used to believe previously, etc. The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.
— Antonio Gramsci, Prison Notebooks, 1930
Front Matters

Front Matters

Clinical Trials

Illustration by Ricardo Santos

Party Lines

Seth Ackerman

Failure Is an Option

Haunted by the specter of democracy, the Constitution’s framers blundered into a historic miscalculation. We’re still living with the consequences.

Struggle Session

Ezra Klein
Interviewed by Bhaskar Sunkara

Don’t Blame Polarization

A discussion on American partisanship, political dysfunction, and why it’s not our passions that are the problem — it’s the Constitution itself.

Friends & Foes

Daniel Bessner

The General Who Brought Down the American Empire

In 2002, the Pentagon staged a $250 million war game known as the “Millennium Challenge.” It was supposed to be a fixed fight — until a retired Marine lieutenant general, playing the role of a Middle Eastern country, brought the US military to its knees.

Means of Deduction

Means of Deduction

Data Collection

Vulgar Empiricist

America the Laggard

By virtually any measure, people in the United States are worse off than those in other rich countries. There’s no disputing the impact of our weak entitlements and paltry labor protections.


The Great Divergence

It used to be better to be a low-wage worker in the United States than in France. That hasn’t been the case for a long while.

Uneven & Combined

Mapping the Decline

How the neoliberal project’s very own fifty-state strategy left poverty and low wages in its wake.

Reading Materiel

Reading Materiel

Peer Review

Field Notes

America’s Railroad to Nowhere

We know the US rail network is no match for trains in France or Japan. But Barack Obama’s plan for high-speed rail couldn’t even match that of Morocco or Uzbekistan.

Canon Fodder

Philip Rocco

Ending Federalism as We Know It

A new book shows how the fragmented American state arrests democracy. What we need is nothing short of a reconstruction.

Canon Fodder

Luke Savage

A Very British Dystopia

A Very British Coup embraced the intrigues of class war, but its sequel falls prey to the mundanities of culture war.

Illustration by Joe O’Donnell


Richard Lachmann

Effective states can enforce discipline on elites. The United States is not one of them.

Illustration by Mark Pernice

American Capitalism Is Working  —  That’s the Problem


Nicole Aschoff

The United States is not a failed state — just ask any American capitalist. But we desperately need something better for everyone else.


Jonathan Steele

The United States today isn’t on the verge of a Soviet-style disintegration — but neither is there any force at the top willing and able to reform our political system.


Meagan Day

In the United States of 2020, millions are desperate for help, and they’re forced to compete for scraps from Twitter philanthropists.

Cultural Capital

Cultural Capital

Emergency Eye-Wash Station

Ways of Seeing

Owen Hatherley

From Your House to Our House

America’s experiment with public housing was far less successful than Europe’s — but this hasn’t made it any less influential.

The Tumbrel

The Tumbrel

Lighting the Bunsen Burner

Illustration by Daniel Zender


Abi Wilkinson

On Being a Mother in America

Within ten days of giving birth, a quarter of us are forced to return to work. If liberals truly want to support parents’ choices, they need to back the subsidies and employment legislation that are vital to child-rearing.


Branko Marcetic

Stories for the End of the World

From the mutant animals of Chernobyl and Marie Antoinette’s perverted orgies, to QAnon and Russiagate, conspiracy theories flourish in times of crisis and collapse of political legitimacy.



Mouse #4 Has Died

Popular Front

Peter Frase

Blue Order

In an increasingly unstable country, what if a “deep police state” threatens to undermine our electoral gains?


Matt Karp

How Abraham Lincoln Fought the Supreme Court

It is not enough to question the decisions, the justices, or even the structure of the current court — we need to challenge, as Abraham Lincoln did, the foundation of its power to determine the law.


Amber A’Lee Frost

Socialists Should Be Republicans

The first generation of the GOP tried — and failed — to build a modern republic. Socialists today won’t get very far unless we finish their work.