The World As We Know It

Harper's Magazine, April 2012



Why does a magazine that many think leans toward the upper crust establishment take on the manner in which the ultra rich and the corporate world are eroding U.S. style democracy? Surely because those parasitic tendencies will eventually turn cannibalistic, i.e., the rich will, unless checked, come to feed on one another as well. In "It's a Rich Man's World," Thomas Frank tells us this isn't an anomaly; it's happened before. But this time, there may be neither a trustbusting nor a new deal Roosevelt to set things to rights for everyman. 

In "The Warrior Class," journalist Charles Glass chronicles the rise of the mercenary as both individual and corporation, and the move of the ability to declare and fight war away from the people. 

And I find it interesting that this issue displays the fiction of both Alice Munro ("Train") and Roberto Bolaño ("The Secret of Evil"). Both are adept at telling stories about nothing much at all, as if they were examining the innerworkings of a grandfather clock. Munro's, though, seems almost whimsical against Bolaño's darker, ominous nothings. 

As is increasingly true, there's little to rejoice in in the self-reflective, post-modern world. But it's always instructive to depict that world and what we know about it, as Harper's Magazine does.


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