On Gardening

“If it is true that the next renaissance of human culture will be the reconstruction of the natural world in our cities and suburbs, then it will be the designers, not the politicians, who will lead this revolution. And plants will be at the center of it all.”
—Thomas Rainer, Planting in a Post-Wild World.

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It’s true, I’ve disappeared. It’s time to admit it. Architecture and academics have become boring. There are no new buildings of consequence and academics are plumbing the depths of irrelevance. Star worship killed both.

Few people who knew me in academics knew about my secret life, investing and managing real estate (anyone who ever took my Network City course should have received some good lessons on that) and that panned out well enough that I don’t have to prostitute myself for low-paying academic jobs anymore for the “experience” and “exposure.” There are many things I should do with this freedom: chiefly, proposals for art and museum installations, writing, and my book on the first decade of the Netlab. I am slowly working on all of these, but I found a new secret life, something else that has absorbed me thoroughly, something that I want to do: gardening.

Forget the term “landscape,” a holdover from the days when men wore cargo shorts and baggy T-shirts. Landscape implies finding an earth mover and puttering about with it, treating a plot of land as if it were a building, terracing it without regard to whatever might be living there. Periodically, claims will be made about clever schemes for land reclamation or water filtration but inevitably these will go awry since the designer will have given little thought for the plants and even less for the structure of the soil. Landscape needs a broad area to take into view, which necessitates clear cutting and large expanses, not the minute detail of gardening. Landscape suggests something for a public to view, not something productive for a household. Worst of all, around here, “landscapers” are illiterate madmen with gas-powered leaf blowers, whose sole job is to redistribute wealth into their pockets while driving me out of my goddamned skull. I saw one the other day, “Stone Age Landscapers.” Like something out of a Robert Smithson narrative, the name says it all.

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Early April, Toadshade Trillium (Trillium sessile) is surrounded by fiddlehead ferns and debris. 

Gardening is something altogether different. I embrace the amateur nature of the term, its lack of regard for academics and high art. These things don’t matter anymore. We all know this. But sticking your hands into the dirt every day does. Growing things for a particular area that you know well does. It’s not something you hire someone else to do, it’s something you do yourself.

Gardening is a massive investment of time. Learning plants takes time. When I started I didn’t know Virginia Creeper from poison ivy and took the advice of a friend who suggested we pull it up too. What a mistake, only now is it coming back to cover bare spots. Plants take time, a lot of time. You don’t just put them in the ground and walk away. By their nature, they grow and they grow slowly. One reason I plunged headlong into gardening is that I realized that the temporal nature of the project meant anything I did now would only start paying off years later. There are things I am doing now that won’t have real impact for a decade or two.

After three years of intense gardening, I am only beginning to understand how a half acre garden on the periphery of New York City can be radical in its own way. This hit home to me last night. Notwithstanding their previously dwindling populations, the fireflies came back in force this year. My sixteen year old daughter and I sat on the chairs in our back yard, amidst all the things that I had planted, and delighted in them. Planting pine trees, letting debris in the woody area of the property rot and offering unmown micro-meadows seems to have done the trick.

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A native Mountain Laurel (Kalmia Latifolia) bloomed in early May this year. 

My goal is to build a contemporary suburban pleasure garden, a place to restore some measure of peace to my family, friends, and myself even in a world gone mad. Logic is gone, we held its funeral years ago. In its stead is the raw anger of Brett Kavanaugh on one side and “woke” folk on the other racing each other in a doomsday death spiral. I have little time for that here, where I have gone, just as Diocletian turned to tending his cabbages after retiring from Emperor. My garden is a spiritual place, far from any church and its tired old songs. It stems from an earth-centric spirituality, a celebration of the cycle of life in its raucous abundance, drawing from warring pagan forces of soil, sun, and rain, not of some angry, white-bearded man-god better suited to faraway desert lands barren of living things. I have learned a lot about botany and horticulture, but I have also learned that these things have limits. I am after the deep connection with the living that science denies too often.

I have embraced the native plants that belong to this place, this town of Montclair, New Jersey, but I haven’t embraced the native plant movement and its assumption of original sin, guilt, and the rejection of pleasure. It’s merely more Protestantism in disguise and I read to much Nietzsche in college to revel in guilt. I don’t want to fill my yard with a patch of weedy-looking things. I am not pretending that I will restore a long-vanished landscape, nor do I assume to be primarily working for the pollinators or wildlife (although I did think about the fireflies a bit). Rather, I see such benefits as byproducts, just as habitat destruction and the spread of invasive species have been byproducts of recent landscape design. We can design byproducts into our plans, think about the side effects we want even as we create something for ourselves.

With this in mind, my plants are grouped in terms of the native plant communities indigenous to this place—meadows, woods, moist, dry, sun, and shade—along with a small grouping of native and non-native plants that traditionally have been identified with restorative properties (a “physick garden”) and a few food-bearing plants (sadly, the lack of controls on deer make my dream of a self-sustaining lifestyle difficult here).

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A non-native in my “physick garden,” Borage (Borago officinalis), which makes for an excellent addition to cocktails and is possibly the failure that I lament the most this season. The four foot tall plant fell over and died this week, its lower stem rotten, the victim of too much water early in the season.

I set out to make this garden as a personal project, but I’ve begun to think that it may be more than that, that this project could eventually serve as a model for a new suburban landscape. There is so much land here we could turn to our advantage and yet most of it is a green desert, bereft of both biological diversity and visual appeal. A painful aspect of learning what can be achieved with gardening is that it opens your eyes to the ugliness of most properties. Sad houses are bracketed by sadder yards, at best a forlorn tree or two sits in an unused front lawn, some tired mop-headed hydrangea compete with invasive barberry and euonymous amidst a sea of black-painted “mulch,” all of which telegraphs nothing more than the property owner’s laziness. The lack of intentionality boggles the mind, as does the poverty of it all.

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Early May and our Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) has lost most of its flowers, carpeting the ground around it up by Highland Avenue. It is July now and the ferns and grasses near it have come in thick.   

In the last three years, I have planted some thirty-eight trees on this 1/2 acre, all but three of which have been native (two are apple trees and one is a Norway spruce that my daughter received on arbor day at her school). These species——Carolina Silverbells, White Pines, Magnolias, Paw-Paws, Eastern Cypresses, American Hazelnuts, Redbuds, American Dogwoods, and so on——are a mix of understory and canopy trees, nestled in amidst the tulip-beech-oak canopy that defines the edges of this property. I spray religiously with Deer Out, a non-toxic mix of cayenne peppers, peppermint and eggs and that seems to have largely discouraged the ravenous deer in this suburb. I have let many seedlings thrive where they fall, helping in reforestation. I have planted dozens upon dozens of bushes, at least fifteen native rhododendrons alone. Native perennials now dot my yard, with woodland ephemerals tucked wherever I can find a place for them and ferns——relics from the Carboniferous period when giant dragonflies the size of hawks flew about——by the hundreds. Even a few lycopods, perhaps the most alien and oldest form of land plants, have managed to find homes here. Where before there had been mulch or bare ground, now something grows. Still, the property eagerly absorbs as many plantings as I can throw at it.

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A recent haul. Two carts of native plants purchased on June 25th from the Bowman Hill Wildflower Preserve in New Hope, PA. It would be lovely to find natives from sources closer to home, but there are no nurseries that grow from local stock any closer and the price is right. 

But my race against time this summer has run out. It’s too hot and dry to plant more for now. I’ll have to wait until fall, weed out the invasive plants that infest my land, products of criminal nurserymen and heedless neighbors, and work on my other projects. Perhaps I’ll even blog from time to time, or work on my book and the other things. Soon enough, fall will come, and with her cooler nights and, I hope, quenching rains, another planting season will come.

On Networked Publics and the Facebook

At a recent party, an acquaintance asked where I’d disappeared to. Nowhere, I said, and when I inquired into what prompted their question, they responded by saying that they couldn’t find me on the Facebook. I was a little surprised about this since I am hardly the first person to deactivate or delete an account; in the United States and the European Union, the Facebook’s membership has peaked and has been declining for a few years while engagement is in a steep decline.

Still, the Facebook has effectively replaced most social communication for many people, so I initially had some anxiety about deactivating my account. I thought it would be hard to go without the Facebook since it gathered together people from throughout my life and career and also hosted a few key discussion groups that I enjoyed (mainly pertaining to modular synthesis). Two months later, I don’t feel I am missing out on anything; on the contrary, I am more at ease. Losing the constant noise of the Facebook feed is a joy. If anyone actually wants to get in touch, I am here.

The connections we establish on Facebook are superficial. Birthdays are a case in point: it’s lovely when people remember your birthday, but they don’t really, the Facebook prompts them too. And a couple of happy birthdays doesn’t excuse the toxic impact the site has had on politics, which I find much more oppressive than Twitter, which is used by a large number of journalists and bloggers. My most active Twitter circle is composed of some of the best writers in the architecture and urbanism today as well as a smattering of people involved with digital culture. So, when I mentioned I was quitting Facebook, William Ball sent a link to a scary article by Timothy McLaughlin about how Facebook’s rise in Mynamar fueled genocide while Frank Pasquale lamented that Facebook might wind up like Big Tobacco, accepting the shrinking of its domestic market since it is doing so well overseas.        

This gets me to thinking. Something has changed in network culture: the 2016 election and the end of the Facebook’s growth in the US and EU are indicators that the heady exuberance about the Net has turned to anxiety and dismay. That the methods of communication used by networked publics are fundamentally flawed in a way that earlier publics were not isn’t just something that scholars talk about anymore, it’s something we all face, daily. Back when we took on the term as an object of study at the Annenberg Center for Communications, we understood “networked publics” to refer to a group of individuals with a particular interest in connecting together digitally. Some researchers—not coincidentally sponsored by technology corporations rather than universities—mistakenly depicted social network sites as networked publics in themselves. This is a category error: with few exceptions (the first incarnation of aSmallWorld, intended as a gathering place for the mega-rich and their hangers-on comes to mind), social networking sites act not as publics in themselves but rather as hosts or platforms on which, in theory, individuals could participate in a variety of different publics.

But they don’t. Algorithms ensure posts only reach individuals who “like” similar content, inhibiting the discussion and deliberation necessary to create a public, supplanting it with a brown slime of happy (or angry, or sad, depending on sorts of things one “likes”) posts. Social networking sites profit off of various malignant actors who promote content covertly. Controversy is good, creating more engagement, regardless of the human cost.

If publics can’t form on social networking sites and if, for many people, social networking sites are the primary means of interacting with others, is it possible that publics and public discourse are becoming extinct as a consequence? When I see people saying “it’s time for us to have a conversation” when they really want to shame you into accepting whatever idea they have adopted as their cause that day, I wonder if we have become completely unable to engage in actual public discourse. After all, the modern category of the public is less than four centuries old. Why should we be so bold as to think it will endure?

 

Drones at the New School

I am delighted to announce that I will be presenting Perkūnas at the New School tomorrow during the Sonic Pharmakon conference put together by Ed Keller for the Center for Transformational Media (I am a fellow with CTM this year). See the schedule here. As a modular synthesist and with a sound sensitivity disorder, I am committed to the possibilities of drone and am fascinated to see Sunday’s events (alas, I am on a plane back from Kauai today so will miss the day).

Aleksandra Kasuba, 1926-2019

Artist and designer Aleksandra Kasuba passed away on March 5. Kasuba was a brilliant force and I knew her throughout my life. Among my earliest memories is crawling around in her Lived-In Environment, a radical transformation of the first floor of the Upper Western Side brownstone that she and her husband owned through tensile constructions. My parents were friends with her and her husband, the sculptor Vytautas Kasuba and we would see each other periodically.

 

Although I lost touch with her after I went to graduate school and then moved to Los Angeles, we reconnected on the occasion of my giving a lecture on her work at the National Gallery of Art in Lithuania to accompany the exhibition of Spectrum: An Afterthought. During those 25 years she had kept tabs on me and agreed that I could give the lecture—apparently other historians had failed to understand her work properly—and I took copious notes on our discussions. Last week I wrote her obituary for the Architects’ Newspaper. See it here. I am revising my talk for the catalog of the retrospective of her work to take place there in 2020.

Year in Review 2018

The Year in Review 2018

I let six years go by without a Year in Review post, restarting the tradition last year. Not this time, although, with the frenetic pace of news this year, it seems like we have all aged six years in 2018.

Things are in a profound state of in-between. On the one hand, the Trumpian kleptocracy is accelerating. With Kelly and Mattis leaving in December, the “adult day care center” has closed, leaving only a pre-school version of Lord of the Flies in the White House. And yet, the end seems to draw near for this vexed time. Voters gave a resounding rebuke to Republicans in Congress, one that may ultimately be generational in nature and that gives Democrats subpoena power. Expect action soon. What’s in those tax returns? How much crony capital have Jared and Donald received over the years? By this time next year, we should know. Moreover, the Mueller investigation is accelerating, drawing closer and closer to the great kleptocrat’s inner circles even as we are left guessing at what sort of revelations we will learn in the months to come.

But that said, massive global instability is the price we pay for Trump. Authoritarian forces are on the rise throughout the world. It would be easy enough to say that these forces have been there all long, but its more accurate to say that the actions of individual players still matter. Trump was a colossal misfire, an eruption of senile admirers of fascism who think that a country of coal miners, machine guns in every classroom, and Christian sharia law will bring Jesus back, no doubt riding on a dinosaur. But with the markets on a rolled coaster ride that ultimately ended down in almost all sectors worldwide, we have to wonder how long business will find the radical Right palatable. Constant turmoil and increased tariffs are making CEOs wonder how useful Trump really is. It’s time to take gramps out of the White House and put him in a nursing home.

Beyond the rise of authoritarian power, 2018 was the year in which the rapid pace of climate change became obvious to anyone with a pulse. I am not a big fan of Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (democratic socialism is a ticket to another right-wing victory), but her Green New Deal just makes sense. The US has spent trillions upon trillions subsidizing oil in various ways (from outright subsidies to the construction of roads which are, of course, paved in oil) and fighting wars in the Middle East to safeguard fossil matter, why shouldn’t we treat this as energy independence as matter of national security? There are 50,000 coal miners in the United States, less than the 89,000 employees of Sears who will lose their jobs this year’s and far less than the 1.6 million university faculty in the USve. If the Democrats want to win in 2020, running of a platform of stopping the rise in temperatures worldwide and the ballooning national debt while restoring basic rights and freedoms taken away during the Trumpic regime would be a good place to start (given that the GOP has forgotten about the deficit now).

As for architecture. What is there left to say about it anymore? Starchitecture has faded, nobody gets excited about cool forms anymore. How can we be surprised? No starchitect is making interesting buildings, in fact the whole movement has been something of a bust. Second, architecture is no longer the profession that shapes space, digital technology is. Failing to recognize this dooms the profession to irrelevance, like heraldry in the days of mustard gas.

But architecture isn’t the only institution without purpose. Silicon Valley, it seems, has finally met a time in which nobody cares about what it makes or promises. People are not only tired of big tech, they are tired of startups that promise the world when their only business plan is to be acquired as soon and possible. In fact, for all its promises,startup culture was a bust and it is far smaller than it was two decades ago. Apple made its best products ever (I am typing this on one of the amazing third generation iPad Pros that I bought), and was punished for it by a massive drop in its stock price.

If any tech became widely accepted by the mainstream in 2018, it was the Internet of Things and the Smart Home. Amazon’s Alexa, Nest and Ring’s video doorbell, and Lutron’s Caseta system were among the winners in this transformation of our interior lives. There is nothing terribly radical about the smart home and, frankly, a lot of the panic about surveillance with the hardware is silly (as if smart phones don’t already do this). But embedded technology is everywhere now.

Still, it’s odd how art (and architecture) misses this change. For want of anything else, we are still in the era of post-Internet art, an idea which, unfortunately, I am somewhat to blame for. If there was some merit to thinking about how network culture permeated art in 2011, talking about “post-Internet art” now simply is about as useful as talking about Abstract Expressionism as “post-automobile” art. Art, like architecture, has lost any purpose or drive forward. Technology and art have drifted apart again and only a few of us hack away at the intersection of the two. Still, art and architecture are always falling into ruin and being reborn. Perhaps this time will be no different and the work we are doing will lead to a rebirth?

The academy is sick as well. Years of poor management practices and bloated administrations have gutted the arts and humanities as faculty were forced to take on heavy teaching loads and real research has been eliminated (in case you wondered, I left Columbia when the new Dean did away with the entire research arm of the school to appease the finance office). Two decades ago, I decried “staff-ism” in schools, but now that is all that’s left.

I left teaching completely this year, resigning from my position at University of Limerick, Ireland after thirteen years and bringing nearly thirty years of teaching to end. In large part, it was the basic inability of universities to function that drove me away. What good is it for me to waste my time trying to jump through hoops to get paid when there are people in finance offices whose job literally is to ensure that faculty don’t get paid (I’ve been told this point blank)? And teaching itself isn’t much fun anymore. Students, for their part, are more interested in looking at their instagram feeds than in listening to what I have to say. It’s the opposite of the 1960s when students proclaimed the irrelevance of their teachers. Now, faculty proclaim the irrelevance of their students. Bah. It’s not worth it. It was a mistake to keep going over the last couple of years. I may come back to education one day—I have many great memories that come from my students and many of them remain my friends to this day—but now is a time when the university is very much irrelevant. Independence is what we need, not sick institutions.

Speaking of sick institutions, there is welcome news this year regarding Facebook: we saw the first signs of that hated enterprise starting to implode. Zuckerberg’s pathetic attempt to get a date by building a Web site has wound up doing tremendous damage to the Internet with its reduction of all content to a general level of idiocracy. Older forms of Internet communication such as blogs, email-mailing lists and Internet forums are dying and since nobody reads books or magazines anymore, we communicate less than we did thirty years ago. Instead, we don’t even get FarmVille, we get social diarrhea. Nobody likes Facebook. Independent voices are needed on the net again. It’s not up to someone else to provide them, it’s up to us.

I rebuilt my Web site last week in hopes of returning to being an independent voice in the field. I finished the last year in review with a similar resolution, maybe this year, I’m getting cranky enough that’ll actually happen.

I am trying to break the Internet

I don’t see how we can remain enthusiastic about network culture. In the decade since the release of the iPhone, the Internet has gone from being a playpen for geeks and outsiders to the primary theater for politics and culture. Even three years ago the thought that a major global leader would use Twitter to announce major policy initiatives would have seemed futuristic and a little naïve. Now we have it and it’s the darkest time most America has collectively experienced in memory. We lurch headlong into a future, but it’s a new bad future.

And, as we seem to be drowning in information, we seem to have lost our ability to communicate and absorb knowledge. Almost nobody reads and writes blogs anymore (please don’t get me started about Medium and the final, thorough destruction of independent content its startup model is premised on). Magazines and journals are well and truly dead. Most books by theorists and academics are soundly ignored too, which is probably a good thing given that theory has become permeated by a neo-fascist identity politics. Outside of the telecocoon of our partners, children, closest friend or two, and immediate work associates, we no longer call each other, we no longer e-mail each other, and we ghost each other as much as we text each other. Earlier forms of Internet culture are also on the rocks: listservs have become replaced by Facebook groups that produce no thought or discussion of any substance whatsoever, and most online forums have died as well. The aforementioned Twitter should be dead, but is kept alive by our desire to see what the lunatic in the White House will say next, and otherwise serves as home to a few misfits and general oddballs. Facebook absorbs everything, reducing all human communication to nothing and algorithmically directs us to only see those posts that give us a fleeting satisfaction. It’s more imagistic spawn, Instagram, is the model of the new Internet, driving us to constantly one up each other with a lifestyle pornography. There are, of course, exceptions—I actually like Reddit and there are some niche online forums that have moments of productivity—but it’s bad out there. I have played my own part in migrating to these awful commercial platforms and regret it. Something must be done. Endless promises and little delivery.

In the case of this site, I’ve resolved to fix matters over and over again, but each time was undone by the content management system, Drupal. Drupal is awful. Way back in 2005, Drupal seemed like a good choice, with its module-based open architecture, and the promise of a content management system that could go far beyond a blog. At the time, I was fascinated with the idea of the networked book and Drupal seemed to offer such functionality built in. Unfortunately, Drupal long ago began to resemble a 1980s American car company, suffering from over-complexity, putting design and user interface last, and unable to got basic features working. A critical flaw is that the development team long ago decided that “the drop is always moving”: each major version of Drupal breaks all the existing plug-ins and themes without which a site is ugly and limited. And therein lies the rub. I should have updated my site eight years ago when Drupal 7 was released, but the horribly botched release of that version would have broken my site thoroughly if it had been possible to update it at all (I am now forgetting if it was Drupal 7 or 8 that did not have upgrade capabilities when first released and the upgrade cycle to Drupal 6 cost me over a month of work). Add to that constant trouble with excessive memory overhead, the obliteration of comments by spambots, together with a general feeling that the whole creaking mess was going to explode like a steam-powered Soviet tractor meant that I knew I’d never be upgrading Drupal. But where to go?

A New Year’s resolution for 2017 had been to redo my site in a new content management system and I upgraded the front end of my site to Kirby. Kirby is fantastic. It took me an afternoon to build the site (I am still running Kirby over at the network architecture lab. In Drupal it would have taken a week. Still, although now I had a decent portfolio together, the blog languished and I made a handful in 2017 and only one post in 2018. In part, this was due to life: I am still cleaning up after the decades of neglect that our house suffered before we bought it, I am spend more time with my family, and I am working on my conceptual art and sound practices. Still, doing anything in Drupal was a nightmare and I stayed away from any substantive blogging.

So it happens that we were away skiing at Smuggler’s Notch in Vermont this week and, as so often happens, we had freezing rain all day. So I decided to finally upgrade this blog and move it to WordPress. I had used WordPress before in Jo-Anne Green’s Networked book project and that had pushed the platform beyond what it was capable of at that time, leaving me with a bad opinion of the platform, but during the intervening years, WordPress has matured into a capable platform (even with the recent growing pains caused by the Gutenberg blogging interface).

Frédéric Gilles’s amazing Drupal to WordPress plugin imported all of the data from Drupal—even comments!—better than I had ever dreamed was possible, better than I would have expected from an upgrade within Drupal. I’ve long loved Indexhibit and use it on AUDC’s site so I was glad to base the new site on Leanda Ryan’s Inxhibit theme (much as  I love Indexhibit, it simply isn’t designed for blogging). A day of work later and, although there are some bugs here and there, I am confident enough to replace Varnelis.net with WordPress.

One of the major impediments to blogging that I faced with Drupal is that inputting text on the Web is a nightmare (I can’t tell you how many posts I’ve lost by accidentally hitting the wrong key on Drupal) and uploading text inevitably seemed to introduce formatting issues, no matter how hard I tried. In the case of WordPress, I knew that there were many more tools available at my disposal so I decided to try iAWriter and found it worked flawlessly. I started writing this post on my Mac, seamlessly picked it to my iPad Pro and posted this entry. This is simple, the way Content Management Systems were supposed to be, without losing the independence that blogs make possible.

I’ve also put Feedly front and center for daily reading on my iPad. There are plenty of great blogs out there are acting as a resistance to the managed content of Facebook, Twitter, and Medium and I am setting out to rediscover them. With these changes to my blog, maybe, just maybe, I may once again join them as well.

 

Network Histories at Michigan, 3/8/18

I am delighted to be delivering the keynote address at the P+ARG Conference at the University of Michigan on March 8, 2018, at 6pm. More details here

My talk is titled "Network Histories: Baran and Milgram in Perspective" and the abstract reads roughly … 

The foundational work done by social psychologist Stanley Milgram and telecommunications researcher Paul Baran on networks in the 1960s remains profoundly influential today, establishing the basis of network theory. But both projects are more complicated than they seem: Milgram’s famous “Six Degrees of Separation” appears to have been largely fabricated while Baran’s plan for a “Distributed Network” is inevitably read within a retrospective mythography. This talk sets out to uncover not so much a theory of networks as an ideology of networks, seeking not a celebration but rather an understanding.

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London and Paris—Midsummer 1939

In today's entry of Philip Johnson's fascist writings, we have his first piece as "foreign correspondent" for Todayʼs Challenge, written in summer of 1939 in London and Paris and published in the August-September issue. This completes my upload of the three pieces Johnson writes for the magazine. Worse is to come.  

This piece puts down the French and English as weak and ineffectual, drawing the implicit conclusion that it will be the Americans who will have to bail them out if their foreign policy leads to war. Nothing too bad, you say? Alright, well here is the conclusion, which hints at what we are going to see in his writing for Social Justice.

"Another serious split in French opinion is that caused by the Jewish question, a problem much aggravated just at present by the multitude of émigrés in Paris. Even I, as a stranger in the city, could not help noticing how much German was being spoken, especially in the better restaurants. Such an influx naturally makes the French wonder, not only about these incoming Jews, but also about their co-religionists who live and work here and call themselves French. The facts that [former Prime Minister and Popular Front leader Léon] Blum and the men around him are Jews, that there are two Jews in the present cabinet, Messrs. Zay and Mandel and that the Jewish bankers Mannheimer, de Rothschild and Lazard Freres are known to stand behind the present government all complicate the situation. 

The position taken by the Daladier government on this question is an interesting commentary on its policies in general. There are two decree laws which concern the press, one against publishing propaganda paid for by a foreign government. Under these laws, the patriotic weeklies Le Defi and La France Enchainee were just recently uppressed, presumably for getting money from Hitler; but LʼHumanité, which no one doubts gives out Russian propaganda, paid for by Russia, has been left alone. What is freedom of the press and for whom is it done, the French ask."

Read it here.

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