It’s that time of year again. And by “that time of year again,” we mean it’s New Year’s Eve and time to drown away a year of dashed hopes and personal failure with cheap champagne. What better way to get the day over with than a hastily assembled compilation post?
But before we tell you what we were up to this year, here’s a reminder: it’s still December, which means we’re still fundraising, just like every other organization you made the mistake of once giving your email to. Until midnight PST, all donations to Jacobin will be matched.
We know you’re being bombarded by these sorts of appeals — and we’ve already done our fair share of bombarding — but if you’ve appreciated our work in 2018, please help us continue it into the new year.
We kicked off the year by evaluating Trump’s first year in the White House (spoiler: it was bad) and looking back at Obama’s first year out of it (spoiler: it was bad). We explained why Winston Churchill was awful, just in time for the Oscars, and read Tom Brady’s book of snake-oil diet and exercise so you didn’t have to. The authoritarian right won an election in Honduras and an endorsement from Ronaldinho in Brazil. The Right also looked ascendant in Italy, partly a result of the collapse of the country’s once-mighty Left. Meanwhile, we reported on a study that determined neoliberalism is making you your own harshest, most judgmental critic.
In February, Jordan Peterson was full of shit, as he still is. We warned you that Elon Musk is a crackpot before he fully lost his mind on Twitter, while Jeff Bezos snapped a pool cue in half and ordered cities to fight to the death for the privilege of housing his headquarters. A ray of light in these dark times: The Young Karl Marx, Raoul Peck’s strikingly accurate portrayal of, well, a young Karl Marx.
Russiagate threatened to swallow up Bernie Sanders, while liberals conveniently dropped their commitment to identity politics. We also told you why generational politics and capitalist philanthropy are no good.
We brought you coverage of the historic West Virginia teachers’ strike, from its lessons and potential, to exclusive interviews with those involved . We also found time to review David Frum’s shitty book about the Trump era, remind you that, yes, the Obama presidency did have serious scandals, and hear the reminiscences of labor organizer and communist Sidney Rittenberg. Grifter of the month was self-help millionaire Tim Ferriss, who has been suckering in dissatisfied office workers since 2007 by convincing them they, too, can get rich and quit their jobs by suckering other dissatisfied office workers.
Eric Blanc and others continued their coverage of the teachers’ strikes, which by April had spread to Oklahoma, Arizona, and Kentucky. Across the Atlantic, grassroots opposition movements were building against Macron’s agenda and Norway’s Trump was booted from its government. In less good news, Wall Street licked its lips over Puerto Rico’s federal relief funds and Lula was imprisoned in Brazil.
We also told you why Bitcoin is stupid, why the Left should embrace Brexit, and why Israel is not only not The Only Democracy in the Middle East ®, but not a democracy at all. Glenn Greenwald stopped by The Dig to talk Russiagate, and we examined how the “fake news” panic was being used by governments around the world to censor their opposition.
We shouldn’t have been shocked by May 2018 at the Clintonites’ incompetence anymore, but because you craved it, we picked out the most jaw-dropping parts of Amy Chozick’s insider account of Hillary’s campaign. We took on the canards that the US is a country of “temporarily embarrassed millionaires,” and grappled with the contradictions of marketing class struggle in an age of consumerism. Over in the UK, we observed that the upcoming Royal wedding was rehabilitating the monarchy while turning the country into a theme park. And unlike most of the news outlets covering Russiagate, we actually looked through hundreds of Russian troll posts, and learned that protesting white supremacy is apparently just playing into Putin’s dastardly hands.
The month started rough, when we lost a great chef and fellow traveler in Anthony Bourdain. It only got rougher when the Janus decision gutted public sector unions, leading Chris Maisano to make the case for renewed labor militancy in response. Then the overrated Anthony Kennedy retired, handing Trump another victory in the form of a Supreme Court appointment, and leading Todd N. Tucker to make the case for court-packing.
But it wasn’t all bad. We spoke to one of the Google workers who led the successful campaign against the company’s contract with the Pentagon, and looked at how major reforms could solve the problem of increasing teen anxiety. There was also the little matter of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory over Joe Crowley.
July picked up our spirits, as a spate of socialist candidates served as an antidote to a bleak June. We looked at why Ocasio-Cortez won, and the candidate herself dropped by to share her thoughts, even as liberals twisted themselves in knots to dismiss her victory. Democratic Socialists of America member and soon-to-be-state-senator Julia Salazar also spoke to us, as did Bernie Sanders. Over in Europe, we took another look at Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour manifesto and its radical implications, giving us more cause for hope.
It was a busy month. We covered Sanders’ CEOs vs Workers town hall, explained to your dad what democratic socialism is, examined the return of the Gilded Age, and Matt Bruenig kicked off an ongoing feud with libertarian think-tank Mercatus after it accidentally showed Medicare For All would save money for the American taxpayer. James Comey was shook.
August only got busier. Our interview with Antoine Dangerfield, the Indianapolis welder who filmed the viral video of a wildcat strike at his workplace, became one of our most-read pieces of all time. The feud with Mercatus broadened to include Politifact, the Associated Press, Jake Tapper, and the Washington Post. Our childhood issue laid out a blueprint for universal childhood and argued that every mother-to-be deserves the Beyoncé treatment. We also interviewed the guy who made your favorite anticapitalist film of the year; you may have heard of him.
Meanwhile, we took aim at all the liberal faves: John McCain, intelligence chiefs, Joe Biden, psychiatry — all are cancelled. Aaron Leonard told us the shocking history of the last time the FBI tried to destroy the Left. And we looked at how attempts to suppress right-wing speech have historically been weaponized against the Left.
Obama’s endorsement of Medicare for All showed socialists were winning the war of ideas, too, as did Elizabeth Warren’s plan for mandatory worker codetermination. Notable deaths of the month included consummate scam artist and right-wing patriarch Richard DeVos and Chicago torturer John Burge.
Unfortunately, we also had to sit through Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, where we learned the only exceptional thing about the ruling class is how utterly unexceptional they are. More bad news came in the form of contributor Max Zirngast’s arrest by Turkish authorities.
October closed with the Trump administration’s deeply strange report on socialism, and it’s no wonder: the month began with Jeff Bezos raising his workers’ starting wages to $15 an hour after being bullied into it by Bernie Sanders. But it may have been a portent of something more ominous, with mini-Pinochet Jair Bolsonaro’s election victory in Brazil. We examined the reasons behind his rise, why he enjoyed support among the poor, and argued for a more nuanced left stance on corruption.
The nearly yearlong negotiations between UPS and Teamsters ended in betrayal, with Teamsters leader James Hoffa ratifying a contract rejected by a member vote. Meanwhile, the “commie cadet” Spenser Rapone told us about his disillusionment with the US military, we explained why the world doesn’t need rich people, and dismantled Lyft’s woke-screen.
The midterms could’ve been worse and showed once again why tacking to the right is a doomed strategy. But while the election of several socialists to Congress made us realize the importance of creating a socialist caucus, Scott Walker’s welcome exit from Wisconsin reminded us of the Democratic Party’s worthlessness as an opposition, and Matt Karp explained how the party’s big midterm victory only exacerbates its decline.
In other news, we told you what a Jacob Rees-Mogg is and rejected the idea that public housing has to be ugly. And after previously helping you explain to your friends what socialism is, we decided to help you tell them about capitalism, too. Home stretch now.
As 2018 drew to a close, we didn’t slow down. How could we, when the gilets jaunes movement against Emmanuel Macron’s neoliberal agenda demanded closer examination and explanation? We brought you the Pamela Anderson interview that you never knew you needed, and while Macron showed us exactly how not to tackle climate change, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez helped put the Green New Deal on the agenda.
It was quite a month. AMLO — who, contrary to the haters, is nothing like Trump — was inaugurated in Mexico. The teachers’ strikes spread to California, reminding us that Republicans don’t have a monopoly on being terrible on education. Luke Savage explained in personal terms how disenchantment with liberalism helped lead him to the Left. And we had no time for George H. W. Bush hagiographies, for the Guardian’s deeply confused series on populism, and for the absolutely baffling liberal Beto-mania.
Finally, in a perfect Christmas miracle, Max Zirngast was released from “pre-trial detention” after three months in Turkish prison.
Things might get even more tumultuous. But Jacobin is the rare publication that is both invested in opposing the outrages of today and that believes profoundly in the horizon of socialism: a world built on human need, not capitalist profits.
You do that, and we’ll do our part: we’re planning to put out 1,500 essays in 2019, a host of new paperback books, and an even better print magazine. Thanks again for your support and happy New Year!