Jacobin fee-na-nay

I’ve decided that I want to read more mind-expanding, far-left polemics. What are good places to read these? I thought I might try subscribing to some kind of publication along these lines.

I loved this Mo Tkacik piece in the Baffler, but I’m wary of Thomas Frank. How about that Jacobin mag that everyone is talking about? Any other suggestions?

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51 replies
  1. 1
    Diana says:

    dunno if this guy is left enough for you, but I’ve always found everything he has to say spot-on: http://coreyrobin.com

  2. 2
    wmd says:

    I’d suggest Ian Welsh.

  3. 3
    Baud says:

    I’ve decided that I want to read more mind-expanding, far-left polemics.

    I thought that’s why most people read Balloon Juice.

  4. 4
    AA+ Bonds says:

    There is always Marx (Grundrisse is a big fat unfinished book but suprisingly approachable) and Engels, but yes, I recommend Jacobin.

    If you are looking for blogs there is also McCaine, one of my favorites.

    Hell, there is always early Marx which is very light reading.

    Also, IMO What is to be Done? should be indispensable even for liberals. Ditto, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism.

  5. 5
    AA+ Bonds says:

    Here’s something fun to do: read Greg Mankiw’s blog and Anti-Mankiw together.

  6. 6
    AA+ Bonds says:

    I think Adam Curtis’s documentaries would be right up your alley too and they are all available for free at YouTube and elsewhere. Okay, I’m done.

  7. 7
    ruviana says:

    Anything by David Harvey.

    And I really like Tom Frank. I think he may be less involved with The Baffler these days, but it’s still an interesting publication. Rick Perlstein’s article in the most recent issue on the conservative movement as a kind of organized con game scamming the rank and file was really interesting.

  8. 8
    AA+ Bonds says:


    Anything by David Harvey.

    Seconded. The Enigma of Capital is very broad but doubles as an (admittedly biased) primer of contemporary Marxist and Marxian approaches. It’s ostensibly a response to the 2007 collapse.

    I believe davidharvey.org should still have all his intro to Capital, which is just a great series to introduce people. I did the course alongside David Bly’s Civil War course (not leftist really) which TNC had been pushing.

  9. 9
    ruviana says:

    @AA+ Bonds: Harvey’s own website has a series on the close reading of Capital that I keep meaning to do. http://davidharvey.org/

  10. 10
    AA+ Bonds says:



    It’s totally worth it, even for old hands and grumpy people who disagree with him.

  11. 11
    eemom says:


    I’d suggest Ian Welsh.

    omfg, what a pompous ass. However, he does have a bit of history to recommend him: used to post at FDL, and, like, oh, just about everybody who’s ever worked for Jane Hamsher, was turned upon and fucked over by her…..resulting in a highly comic flame war that went on circa 2009 or so.

    Wonder what ol’ Jane is up to these days. No one ever talks about her anymore.

  12. 12
    charles pierce says:

    I don’t care what you read, frankly, but that’s the best damn headline in the history of the Intertoobz. Well fcking played!

  13. 13
    Kadzimiel says:

    Tkacik takes aim at an easy target, but Frank asks the more interesting and valuable question: why did Occupy fail? I think we can get a lot further by asking that question and coming up with some real answers than by mocking David Bradley’s intellectual hypocrisy and shallowness.

  14. 14
    Corner Store Operator says:

    Doug Henwood on economics http://lbo-news.com/

  15. 15
    ruviana says:

    @AA+ Bonds: My bad for not reading your whole comment (I got too excited that someone else liked Harvey). :)

  16. 16
    the Buhjaysus says:

    Hey Doug, I’m curious about your wariness towards Tom Frank?

    Is it because he wrote for the WSJ?

  17. 17
    jdrs0819 says:

    Black Agenda Report: http://www.blackagendareport.com/
    Charles Davis: http://charliedavis.blogspot.com/
    Chris Floyd: http://www.chris-floyd.com/
    Ian Welsh: http://www.ianwelsh.net/
    Avedon Carol: http://sideshow.me.uk/
    Arthur Silber: http://powerofnarrative.blogspot.com/
    Stirling Newberry: http://symbalitics.blogspot.ca/
    Don Durito: http://dasnotesfromunderground.blogspot.com/

    On policy, you will probably agree with them 75% of the time; but they’re going to piss you off. It’s ok, they’re the only ones worth reading when it comes to expanding your horizons; the conservatives have nothing left to offer.

  18. 18
    AA+ Bonds says:


    No problem. I also dug up McCaine’s latest reading list which people might like. The contemporary stuff is further down on it. He has William Robinson’s Theory of Global Capitalism on there which was always one of my favorite books for making this capitalist class business straight with the names of companies that people recognize, with numbers, and I completely forgot to mention it.

  19. 19
    Will says:

    The Monthly Review is the best “mind-expanding, far-left” polemic there is.

  20. 20
    Anoniminous says:

    Don’t know what you mean by “Far Left.” There’s the IWW, CPUSA, and Democratic Socialists of America sites.

    I’ve found European Tribune to be the best Center-Left blog.

  21. 21
    TXG1112 says:

    I’m not sure what you’re looking for, but that Baffler piece is such awful pretentious crap that it’s vying for one of Sullivan’s awards. Just because someone is bashing The Atlantic doesn’t mean its worth reading.

  22. 22
    Anoniminous says:

    And I’ve been moderated for daring to put 4 links in my post.


  23. 23
    handsmile says:

    My, my, my, first the NYT profiles it on Monday, and now Doug Galt is interested in reading it….Hopefully others here might follow, if for no other reason than to inform discussions about what the “professional Left” actually believes and does.

    I’ve been reading Jacobin since the Occupy Wall Street protests, during which time it organized several public debates in NYC.

    Other sites, magazines, and individuals to consider, a number of which you may be familiar with, all of which/whom I read at least occasionally (links will send me to moderation limbo):


    New Left Review
    The Nation

    Andrew Bacevich
    Tom Engelhardt
    Laura Flanders
    Thom Hartmann
    Chris Hedges
    Rebecca Solnit

    The Nation, AlterNet, and Tom Engelhardt would be my first choices. Rebecca Solnit, who writes more about culture than politics (though rarely separating the two) should be read by just about everybody. A magnificent writer, an ethical beacon.

  24. 24
    David in NY says:

    My lefty kid was begging for a Jacobin hard-copy subscription (for Christmas), so I bet it’s OK.

  25. 25
    Anton Sirius says:

    Frank resurrected the Baffler again? Oh, that’s just sad. Get on with your life, man. John Lydon didn’t keep re-making Never Mind the Bollocks. Dave Eggers hasn’t launched Might.com.

  26. 26
    Chris says:

    http://www.empirenotes.org by Rahul Mahajan was one of my favorites. He hasn’t written anything in about a year, but if you go back before that there’s lots and lots of posts spanning about a decade. Often a focuses on international affairs, foreign policy and the war on terror.

  27. 27
    Paula says:

    Jacobin = McSweeney’s for leftists? I can’t quite get a read on whether they want to be a leftist NYRB/TLS or if they want to be a more moderated, scholarly Counterpunch. Are they journalists or public intellectuals waxing on every trend a la the Opinionator on the NYTimes website?

    But more substantive than Jodi Dean’s site and less likely to induce eye-rolling than ZNet, so sure, go nuts.

  28. 28
    jamick6000 says:

    I like Dissent Magazine. I thought this article was really good, specifically. http://www.dissentmagazine.org.....n-feminism

  29. 29

    I enjoy listening to Chris Hedges. I get the impression that he irritates a lot of people, probably because he is very caustic toward the president and other elected Democrats. But his books are very good. If you don’t want to invest that amount of time, hit youtube and watch is longer talks/speeches or whatever you want to call them.

    He raises many questions that we ought to think and talk and smoke over.

  30. 30
    jamick6000 says:

    @handsmile: Democracy Now is an absolute treasure.

  31. 31
    sharl says:

    Moe Tkacik fascinates me. I like her writing, although I can see why it would come across like nails-on-a-chalkboard to others. Matter of taste, I assume. Beyond that, she’s quite unpredictable in her style and mood, which also keeps my interest (I’m guessing I must have liked peek-a-boo as a baby; must ask Dad about that).

    And I do not think of her as “reliably leftist”, although she usually is. But others might disagree with that as well. For example, when she actually published the names of Julian Assange’s two alleged Swedish rape victims, I didn’t find that to be very good leftie behavior, but supporters of Assange might feel otherwise (at least those who think the incident was a set-up done at the behest of the U.S. Government and its allies).

    I have a theory, which is mine (h/t Doughy Pantload) – and totally unsupported by actual, y’know, verified facts and evidence and whatnot – that Tkacik has come to recognize her relatively privileged birth into comfortable circumstances, and has been struggling to make it outside of that guilded cage ever since. [Her dad, whom she clearly loves and get along with, philosophical differences notwithstanding, is some kind of big shot at the Heritage Foundation.] As noted in the link above and this one, she has gotten into hot water with bosses and other writers on the topic of rape. IMHO, those are instances where she should have tried really, really hard to view the concept of sexual assault from the perspective of those less privileged than her – not necessarily for the purpose changing her view(s), but to give her the motivation to present her view(s) with a certain degree of care and sensitivity. As it is, discussions that might have been part of thoughtful discussions instead devolved into let’s-torch-Moe events.

    I hope she continues to survive, and eventually thrive, in her journalistic niche, even if doing so means that she has to acquire a certain amount of narrative-dulling self-discipline and prudence [sadface]. As it is, I think that her foes find it fairly easy to dismiss her writing, such as this (IMO) interesting post that suggests a connection between former U.Va. professor and global warming expert Michael Mann, and the attempted firing of university president Teresa Sullivan:

    In the weeks before Sullivan’s ouster, the UVA environmental sciences faculty voted to bring Mann back to Thomas Jefferson’s University in a prestigious professorship endowed by vice rector Mark Kington, one of the coup’s main conspirators. Sullivan vociferously endorsed the hire, according to a UVA alumnus active in Charlottesville political ciricles [sic]. But it was nixed without explanation by Margaret Woo, the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a strident supporter of the [sic] Sullivan’s ouster.

    Um, yeah I know, Tkacik getting useful employment may also include a copy editor…

  32. 32
    Paula says:


    Thanks for this! Clear writing, clear arguments, consistent — all too rare for blogs.

  33. 33
    sharl says:

    @sharl: And by “guilded cage” I meant of course “gilded cage”… which was probably built by a member of the Guild of Gilded Cage Builders (Local BR549).

    I’m sure there are other things there that need editing, but I’m tired now.

  34. 34
    mclaren says:

    Z magazine:

    Chuck Spinney’s blog The Blaster:

    Fabius Maximus’ blog:

    World Socialist website:

    Marcy Wheeler:

    Secrecy news:

    The National security archive at George Washington University:



    Common Dreams:



    The Agitator:


    And of course, the one you all love to hate…Glenn Greenwald:

    I’m certainly the most wild and crazy far-left extremist here, since I believe in wacka-wacka kooky stuff like trial by jury, charging someone with a crime before executing him — goofy hippie purity-trolly stuff like that. But most of the people on the above list make me look conservative.

  35. 35
    Doug Galt says:

    @the Buhjaysus:

    No, I just think his political analysis is flawed in general.

  36. 36
    Doug Galt says:

    @charles pierce:


  37. 37
    danielx says:

    Try Stop The Spirit Of Zossen 2.0. Not too far to the left, but excellent commentary on movement conservatism. (Hint: these fuckers don’t regard any president except one approved by them as legitimate, they aren’t going to give up, and they aren’t going to go away.)

  38. 38
    Mentioner says:

    Ah, maybe late to the party, but for my money, Zizek is tops: super theory, dedicated Marxist, critical of everything.

  39. 39
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Anton Sirius:

    Frank resurrected the Baffler again?

    No, John Summers did.


    Democracy Now is an absolute treasure.

    There’s something about it (and The Nation) that persistently annoys me: the “establishment anti-establishment” thing, I think.

    I like Moe Tkacik. She does a lot of hard source work for her better stuff (example) which is a dying skill in the trade. And anyone who has managed to burn that many journalistic bridges in 21st century America must have something going for them.

  40. 40
    FlipYrWhig says:

    My brother, a Battle in Seattle/Occupy/union stalwart, has been trying to turn people onto Jacobin for a long time now. I haven’t tried it myself. I have liked what I’ve seen from David Harvey. Chris Hedges seems like a windbag, but YMMV. Anyone ever tried New Left Review?

  41. 41
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @pseudonymous in nc: I still get The Nation, but it’s certainly less indispensable than it used to be. At least Alexander Cockburn died. That was a relief. I thought he’d figured out a way to pickle himself in bile.

  42. 42
    Brendanyc says:

    i vote for Dissent. and i cherish Charles Pierce for many reasons, but now one more for pointing me to the headline that i would’ve otherwise missed.
    oh, and i’d say Jacobin looks promising, but with Dissent and the others cited here, there is too little humor and sex in the whole lot.
    also, more pictures, please.
    mass media and all that. Unless you are as fun to read as say, the Pierce mentioned above, or are really really smart, the miles of unrelieved typeface can grind the most ardent student of left thought down into a lazy puddle.

  43. 43
    chris9059 says:

    Thomas Franks is “far” left? even most of the reader suggestions are people /sources that would have been considered mainstream liberals at one time.The center of gravity sure has shifted to the right.

  44. 44
    brashieel says:

    I’m frankly baffled that nobody has mentioned The Exiled. Left leaning radicalism with a large dose of cynical sarcasm is pretty much their thing.

  45. 45
    manual says:

    Jacobin is fantastic. Must read.

  46. 46
    AA+ Bonds says:


    there is too little humor and sex in the whole lot.

    Well I did mention Adam Curtis, but there’s also the unholy trinity:



    and NSFW Corp.

  47. 47
    handsmile says:


    Thank you for taking the time to post that roster of independent and left-wing sites, particularly with that self-description. :)

    While we might disagree on the integrity and utility of some, several are essential (fas.org, the National Security Archive) and Common Dreams may be the most comprehensive aggregator of online progressive journalism. I am curious to dig into those sites unfamiliar to me (e.g., CopWatch, Chuck Spinney, Fabius Maximus).


    New Left Review was included in my comment #23 above. Perhaps the most intellectually formidable of left-wing journals, it demands a ready familiarity with Marxist political and cultural theory and a comfortable grasp of contemporary psychoanalytic theory. A regular reader for over twenty years, I have some chance with at least a few articles published in most issues. Also, NLR‘s perspective is more global, less U.S.-oriented, than the other sites and writers I mentioned.

  48. 48
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @handsmile: whoops, missed it there. Sometimes I’m in a mood for theory. Maybe I’ll try on an issue or two in a bit.

  49. 49
    sharl says:

    While closing the gazillion open tabs in my FF browser, I came across one I had open for the leftist British bi-monthly magazine Red Pepper, which appears to be devoted to covering Europe and developing countries. Here’s most of the content of their ‘About’ page:

    Red Pepper is a bi-monthly magazine and website of left politics and culture. We’re a socialist publication drawing heavily on feminist, green and libertarian politics. We seek to be a space for debate on the left, a resource for movements for social justice, and a home for anyone who wants to see a world based on equality, meaningful democracy and freedom.
    Red Pepper is completely independent, and whilst not rejecting party politics, seeks to help build the kind of pluralistic, dynamic movements which can fundamentally challenge our economic system, with its entrenched injustice, structures of power and oppression, and tendency towards war and environmental destruction. Although based in London, we have links around Britain, and have always covered events and perspectives from outside the capital.
    We’re a non-profit magazine and exist because all those involved believe the left needs publications which are non-sectarian yet unafraid to take a stand, radical yet non-dogmatic, and thoughtful yet orientated on real-world activism.

    I cannot personally vouch for any of this, nor for the complimentary quotes over there attributed to Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky and other leading lights of leftist thinking, but from a quick perusal, it looks like a basically accurate self-description.

  50. 50
    James Hulsey says:

    @Anoniminous: Well, the DSA link was bad.

    Try this: http://dsausa.org/

  51. 51
    handsmile says:


    Most likely you will never see this, but then again I’m just coming upon your comment #17 almost fifteen hours after you posted it. Perhaps it was in moderation when I was posting my first comment last night, and I neglected to read through the entire thread until now.

    Those appear to be very interesting sites, almost all unknown to me and, upon a quick read, much more to the left on the ideological dial than my own recommendations. Many thanks!

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