On an occasion engraved in my memory, the Dean of Arts and Sciences at Brandeis University (himself an architect of the “Strategic Hamlet” program in Vietnam for the US Army) reproached Professor Herbert Marcuse at a faculty meeting for having spoken at an anti-war rally: It is an intellectual and academic duty, he argued, to acknowledge both sides of disputed issues. Marcuse rose. “What,” he asked, “is the other side of the argument about Auschwitz?”
Gary Roth reviews two timely and important booksJason E. Smiths Smart Machines and Service Work: Automation in an Age of Stagnation and Aaron Benanavs Automation and the Future of Work.
My friend David Graebers sudden death last year came as a great shock. More than anyone since Frederich Engels, he succeeded in digging anthropology out of the shadows and making it seem empowering to ordinary people.
In the last three weeks, as I have tried to write this essay on different days, it has continued to elude me. First, I was crumbling physically and mentally in the throes of the virus. My frail body had gone weaker than ever before. I kept underestimating it, treating it like a seasonal flu, as my parents in the hinterland, 400 kilometers away from Delhi, thought about their cases.