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The Capitalocene

Benjamin Kunkel: The Anthropocene, 2 March 2017

The Birth of the Anthropocene 
by Jeremy Davies.
California, 240 pp., £24.95, June 2016, 978 0 520 28997 0
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Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital 
by Jason Moore.
Verso, 336 pp., £19.99, August 2015, 978 1 78168 902 8
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Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam-Power and the Roots of Global Warming 
by Andreas Malm.
Verso, 496 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 1 78478 129 3
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... Misanthropocene). It has already ‘picked up a variety of incompatible meanings’, as Jeremy Davies, a professor of English at Leeds, observes in The Birth of the Anthropocene, perhaps the best guide so far to the different senses and timeframes attached to the term. Even so, a common intellectual function seems to unite the various usages ...

They don’t even need ideas

William Davies: Take Nigel Farage ..., 20 June 2019

... Italian Five Star Movement, to disrupt electoral politics at unprecedented speed. Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn now hold the record for the most unpopular leadership duo ever, breaking the record set by Thatcher and Michael Foot in December 1981. The roots of this disillusionment extend back many years, well before the 2016 referendum. Many have highlighted ...

Don’t join a union, pop a pill

Katrina Forrester: ‘The Happiness Industry’, 22 October 2015

The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold Us Wellbeing 
by William Davies.
Verso, 314 pp., £16.99, May 2015, 978 1 78168 845 8
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... life is not the stuff of politics, economics or science – is not shared by what William Davies calls the ‘happiness industry’, that constellation of psychologists and economists seeking to maximise happiness; neuroscientists developing increasingly sophisticated tools for measuring it; doctors and psychiatrists prescribing drugs to induce ...

Short Cuts

William Davies: Reasons to be Cheerful, 18 July 2019

... reality is the loser. Words have now broken completely free of their factual moorings; Johnson and Jeremy Hunt seem committed to touring the nation and its television studios misreporting and misdescribing the economic, legal and political realities that will confront the next prime minister. To do otherwise would be an act of surrender. Things have been ...

How to Be Prime Minister

William Davies, 26 September 2019

... quite how strange it is that the headlines should be dominated by the figures of Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn and Dominic Cummings. Absent the idiosyncrasies of these men, and the way they determine their interactions, the present crisis would be playing out in a different way entirely. The central fact of Johnson’s political career is that he has ...

He’s Bad, She’s Mad

Mary Hannity: HMP Holloway, 9 May 2019

Bad Girls: The Rebels and Renegades of Holloway Prison 
by Caitlin Davies.
John Murray, 373 pp., £10.99, February 2019, 978 1 4736 4776 3
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... for their actions? Were they redeemable? Did they have ‘higher susceptibilities’? As Caitlin Davies notes in Bad Girls, her history of Holloway and its inmates, incarcerated women were considered far more difficult to manage than men. Misconduct in Holloway, the prison inspector Arthur Griffiths insisted in 1870, was ‘intensified by hysteria, and those ...

Leave, and Leave Again

William Davies: The Brexit Mentality, 7 February 2019

... visions of what should happen next. There are few things that could produce consensus between Jeremy Corbyn, Arlene Foster, Vince Cable and Jacob Rees-Mogg, but opposition to May’s deal was one. Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, responded to the result with a tweet urging the UK ‘to clarify its intentions as soon as ...

Pain, No Gain

William Davies: Inflation Fixation, 13 July 2023

... than by a sober assessment of the fix the bank is in. And unlike last autumn, when Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt were parachuted in to rescue the economy from Trussonomics, this time there are no grown-ups to call.There is always a significant interval between a rate rise and the pain it causes, as fixed-rate repayment deals take time to expire. But 2.4 million ...

How bad can it get?

LRB Contributors: On Johnson’s Britain, 15 August 2019

... Neal Ascherson, Mary Beard, Jonathan Coe, Tom Crewe, William Davies, Sionaidh Douglas-Scott, Lorna Finlayson, Daniel Finn, Katrina Forrester, Jeremy Harding, Daisy Hildyard, Colin Kidd, James Meek, Ferdinand Mount, Jan-Werner Müller, Jonathan Parry, David RuncimanNeal Ascherson‘On​ 17 June poor France fell ...
Jeremy Thorpe: A Secret Life 
by Lewis Chester, Magnus Linklater and David May.
Fontana, 371 pp., £1.50
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... In one sense, as the advertising claims, this is ‘the only book to tell the full story of the Jeremy Thorpe affair’, for there is no other book that tells that story. Written by three journalists from the Sunday Times, it presents the existing state of knowledge, but tidied up and reduced to order, and with some ‘investigative’ embellishments probably added ...


Peter Campbell: At the new British Library, 27 November 1997

... Are we really up to it? It is all very well for Bernard Shaw and Karl Marx (even for Mandy Rice-Davies and Jeremy Paxman, who the Library, a little coyly, include in the list of celebrated readers they hand out to the press), but most readers are not famous or notorious; some of us are vague and dilatory – doubtful ...

Reasons for Corbyn

William Davies, 13 July 2017

... Macron), in the last two years we have witnessed the unforeseen rise of Bernie Sanders (75), Jeremy Corbyn (68) and Donald Trump (71), the oldest man ever to become president. These men have lurked on the margins of public life for decades, and a stockpile of images and stories has accumulated around them. Both Corbyn and Sanders have an impressive ...

Let’s eat badly

William Davies: Irrationality and its Other, 5 December 2019

Irrationality: A History of the Dark Side of Reason 
by Justin E.H. Smith.
Princeton, 344 pp., £25, April 2019, 978 0 691 17867 7
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... is, just so long as it takes place on Facebook. The iconic model of a surveillance technology is Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon design for a prison, in which prisoners would feel visible to the prison guards at all times whether or not they were actually being watched. As Michel Foucault noted, the panopticon was a disciplinary tool, which sought to bolster ...


William Davies: Capitalism Decarbonised, 4 April 2024

The Price is Wrong: Why Capitalism Won’t Save the Planet 
by Brett Christophers.
Verso, 398 pp., £22, February, 978 1 80429 230 3
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... since the global financial crisis, leaders on the political left have attempted to point this out. Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders used their respective platforms to name and denounce a system that extracts without promising anything in return. Ed Miliband hung his 2011 Labour Party Conference speech on a Braudelian distinction between economic ...

Against Responsibility

William Davies, 8 November 2018

Family Values: Between Neoliberalism and the New Social Conservatism 
by Melinda Cooper.
Zone, 447 pp., £24, March 2017, 978 1 935408 84 0
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... Conservative rhetoric for about twenty years, fell by the wayside with the political upheavals of Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader in 2015 and the resignation of David Cameron the following summer. (Theresa May initially hoped to refocus on ‘JAMs’ – Just About Managing families – but lost all ideological confidence along with her ...

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