Faculty Writing: On the American Public’s Fascination with Ted Kaczynski; and an Interview with Wendy Brown

Writing for The Nation, R.H. Lossin examines the American public’s continued fascination with Ted Kaczynski’s unsanctioned violence, which seems to take one of two expressions—either hedgingly admiring, as in: “he made some good points” (about technology, government, and the environment) “but his methods are faulty”; or morally admonishing, as in: the man was unhinged if not “psychologically aberrant.” But, for Lossin, the two are not so easily separable: “Talking about Kaczynski may be a way to obliquely address our ambivalence, or even anger, toward a social reality at odds with vaunted American ideals of freedom and independence. Talking about Kaczynski—unambiguously bad, maladjusted, and safely in prison—may also be a way to repress this ambivalence. More than likely, it is both.”

And, for Dissent, Rafael Khachaturian interviews political theorist Wendy Brown about her new and recent work on neoliberalism, in theory and practice. They discuss how recent world events—from the pandemic to economic recession to the global rise of right-wing regimes—have challenged the political and economic foundations of the past four to five decades, inquiring along the way into “two seemingly contradictory impulses” that seem to have flourished in the contemporary right under neoliberalism: “an anti-democratic politics and a libertarian personal ethic.”

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