George Scialabba, Radical Democrat

Jedediah Purdy in The New Republic:

It may strike a reader new to George Scialabba’s writing as extraordinary that Slouching Toward Utopia, a new collection of his essays and reviews, is not a response to Donald Trump’s presidency. Although the president does not appear by name until a handful of very recent pieces toward the end—earlier he is decorously invoked, just once, as “a famous social parasite”—Scialabba has argued for years that the United States is a plutocracy, administered mainly for the convenience of those who control capital and jobs. His consistent themes have been the corruption of language, the coarsening of imagination, the colonization of attention by technology and commerce, and the seductions of power. The pathologies that the present moment throws into relief have always been the occasions of his warnings and laments. He writes lucidly about benightedness, vividly about purblindness, so that his essays and reviews show thought as a thing possible in a world that can seem a conspiracy against sense and reason.

It is up to Scialabba’s readers to observe this modest heroism in his work, because he will not claim it for himself. He has long insisted on the political irrelevance of criticism.

More here.