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Reading List December 21, 2018

10 Essays You Might Have Missed

Take a second look at some pieces that might have passed you by in 2018.

2018 has been a busy year for Boston Review! In addition to our four print issues, we have published a host of freely available articles online, including 31 essays on politics, 26 pieces on race, and a whopping 142 poems! 

It’s likely that more than a few of these passed you by, so we wanted to re-introduce you to 10 pieces from throughout the year that deserve a second look. From an essay by the man who took Cambridge Analytica to court (and won), to an exploration of the totalitarian nature of virtual reality, here are some of our editors’ favorites.

—Rosie Gillies


Fatalism, Freedom, and the Fight for America’s Future
by David Runicman

“Pinkerian faith in progress assumes that present problems are just future solutions waiting to happen. But what if our present problems make future solutions impossible?”

• • •

Chronicling the Last Days of Old New York
by Jeremy Lybarger

Long before Twitter, art critic Gary Indiana perfected the art of pungent, small-batch insults. On Annie Leibovitz: “she makes even people who have accomplished something look like empty, narcissistic assholes.”

• • •

The Border Is Not a Wall
by Matthew Longo

It not only functions to keep people out, it is also an ever-widening surveillance zone that demands the loyalty of boderland citizens—and turns them into guardians of the state.

• • •

A History of Cyborg Sex, 2018-73
by Cathy O’Neil

“Sex with robots was no only better than anything women had previously experienced, it was also safer. A new environment of sex-positiveness emerged.”

• • •

A Political Philosophy of Self-Defense
by Chad Kautzer

“When conditions are so oppressive that one’s self is not recognized at all, self-defense is de facto insurrection, a necessary making oneself known through resistance.”

• • •

Headset Hypocrisy
by John Tinnell

“If totalitarianism is a matter of fabricating compelling alternate realities for masses of isolated individuals, then the upcoming spread of virtual reality should already concern us.”

• • •

Globalization Survived Populism Once Before—and It Can Again
by Suzanne Berger

“Nowhere did globalization advance alone on its economic merits, but always as part of larger visions in which a nation’s domestic order was moving toward greater social justice.”

• • •

“Could You Do Any Better Than We Did?”
an interview with William Vollman

“The resistance to making progress on climate change is a combination of short-term greed, monetization, frivolous use of electricity, and the legitimate aspirations of poor people to have some of what we have.”

• • •

Cambridge Analytica Is Dead, Long Live Our Data
by David Carroll

“Cambridge Analytica epitomizes a distressing new era of digital colonialism. The next dark data machines are already being built for the next elections.” We hear from the man who took them to court—and won.

• • •

The Limits of Antitrust Enforcement
by Brishen Rogers

“Unchecked corporate power is cancerous. The workplace, too often, is authoritarian. The remedy lies in democratic control.”

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