A response to Paul Mattick’s Do We Live in a Society of the Spectacle?

On November 8th, 1990 the Soviet Union held its 73rd anniversary October Revolution Parade. Hundreds of Soviet troops goose stepped past an enormous portrait of Lenin hanging in the Red Square, while Gorbachev and the Politburo looked on from Lenin’s Mausoleum. At the conclusion, a huge crowd of civilians marched through the Square with banners bearing the old revolutionary slogans. The proceedings were not seamless, however. The emblems of the Soviet Republics were not flown, testifying that Latvia and Lithuania had declared their independence. Bands of…


We UUs pride ourselves on our religious tolerance: as it says on the UUA website, “We welcome the many ways that people define, express, and experience the Holy and respect what is considered sacred in our diverse cultures.” But political events challenge us to consider the limits of our religious tolerance. We can tolerate another religion when it remains purely private, that is, when it is only practiced in the home and on the weekends, away from the government and the economy. When a religion becomes public, however, when it becomes involved with the government and the economy, then conflicts…


“Death on a Toilet,” Francis Bacon, 1973.

“The method of averting one’s attention from evil, and living simply in the light of good is splendid as long as it will work, but it breaks down impotently as soon as melancholy comes, because the evil facts which it refuses positively to account for are a genuine portion of reality; and they may after all be the best key to life’s significance, and possibly the only openers of our eyes to the deepest levels of truth.” — William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience

Most of the reading lists you’ll find on this website and elsewhere recommend books to…


Myth: What is it Good For?

In wake of the recent uprisings the question of myth has attained a new poignancy for the American republic. In June the Washington Post released an interview with filmmaker Ken Burns entitled “Our Monuments are Representations of Myth, Not Fact.” In it Burns says, “Our monuments, even those as revered as the Statue of Liberty, are representations of myth, not fact, and, as we consider what role monuments play in our culture, it’s the history, not the mythology, that we must remember.” While Burns is right to say that monuments represent myth, it is…

Sam Copeland

New York based freelance writer. Cultural and political commentary.

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