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From Walt Whitman to Arundhati Roy, here are the essays that were read the most over the past twelve months.
As 2019 draws to a close, we have been diving into our analytics to find out which essays you loved the most from the past twelve months. From Walt Whitman’s complicated homosexuality to the mobile lending crisis that is crippling Kenya, the list below serves as a perfect microcosm of the incredible variety of pieces we publish at Boston Review. And what’s more, we are proud to note that seven of our top ten essays were written or co-written by women!
“Neoliberalism—or market fundamentalism, market fetishism, etc.—is not the consistent application of modern economics, but its primitive, simplistic perversion. And contemporary economics is rife with new ideas for creating a more inclusive society.”
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A leaked Department of Homeland Security database confirms what many suspected: the U.S. government is actively trying to punish and intimidate people advocating for immigrant rights.
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“No matter how much we increase our investment at the front end—perfecting our minds with thinking classes, long ruminations, novel-reading, and moral algebra—we cannot spare ourselves the agony of learning by doing.”
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With this year having marked the poet’s bicentennial, we saw praise for his political idealism and gauzy reclamations of him as an LGBT ancestor. But it remains difficult to talk about the connection he saw between patriotism and his love of young men.
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“India, which has the most malnutritioned children in the world, where hundreds of thousands of debt-ridden farmers have committed suicide, where it is safer to be a cow than it is to be a woman, is still being celebrated as one of the fastest growing economies in the world.”
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“The evidence for causation seems to lie entirely in correlations. But for seeing correlations, we would have no clue about causation. And thus a puzzle arises: if causation cannot be reduced to correlation, how can correlation serve as evidence of causation?”
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“For five decades, one of the central characters in capitalism’s mythology has been the nineteenth-century maverick cigarette entrepreneur, James B. Duke. The problem? His story is false: mid-century business historians fabricated it to accord with the theory of creative destruction.”
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“Kenya’s new experience of debt is worrying. It reveals a novel, digitized form of slow violence that operates through the accumulation of data, the commodification of reputation, and the instrumentalization of sociality.”
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For five decades Anglophone political philosophy has been dominated by the liberal egalitarianism of John Rawls. With liberalism in crisis, have these ideas outlived their time?
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“In Obama’s telling, racism is not the defining feature of black life, and her profound success is a testament to the ways that striving and self-motivation are the difference between those who succeed and those who do not.”
...we need your help. Confronting the many challenges of COVID-19—from the medical to the economic, the social to the political—demands all the moral and deliberative clarity we can muster. In Thinking in a Pandemic, we’ve organized the latest arguments from doctors and epidemiologists, philosophers and economists, legal scholars and historians, activists and citizens, as they think not just through this moment but beyond it. While much remains uncertain, Boston Review’s responsibility to public reason is sure. That’s why you’ll never see a paywall or ads. It also means that we rely on you, our readers, for support. If you like what you read here, pledge your contribution to keep it free for everyone by making a tax-deductible donation.
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