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Books, Literature & Ideas

Books, Literature & Ideas

Mike Luckovich | Spy vs. Melania /


This Political Theorist Predicted the Rise of Trumpism. His Name Was Hunter S. Thompson.

  • There’s no doubt about it: trouble lies ahead. That Hell’s Angels foresaw all this 50 years ago underscores the depth and seriousness of Thompson as a political thinker and of ours as a singularly dangerous time. Trumpism is about something far more serious than Trump, something that has been brewing and building for generations. Let us take Thompson’s cautions seriously, then, so that this time we Berkeley types are not naive about what we face. Otherwise, we’re all liable to get stomped
  • In Hell’s Angels, the gonzo journalist wrote about left-behind people motivated only by “an ethic of total retaliation.” Sound familiar?

Susan McWilliams, the Nation Hunter S. Thompson, right, speaks at a panel discussion in New Haven, Connecticut, on December 7, 1972. AP Photo

December 15, 2016 | I n late March, Donald Trump opened a rally in Wisconsin by mocking the state’s governor, Scott Walker, who had just endorsed his Republican opponent, Ted Cruz. “He came in on his Harley,” Trump said of Walker, “but he doesn’t look like a motorcycle guy.”

“The motorcycle guys,” he added, “like Trump.”

It has been 50 years since Hunter S. Thompson published the definitive book on motorcycle guys: Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs. It grew out of a piece first published in The Nation one year earlier. My grandfather, Carey McWilliams, editor of the magazine from 1955 to 1975, commissioned the piece from Thompson—it was the gonzo journalist’s first big break, and the beginning of a friendship between the two men that would last until my grandfather died in 1980. Because of that family connection, I had long known that Hell’s Angels was a political book. Even so, I was surprised, when I finally picked it up a few years ago, by how prophetic Thompson is and how eerily he anticipates 21st-century American politics. This year, when people asked me what I thought of the election, I kept telling them to read Hell’s Angels.

Susan McWilliams is Associate Professor of Politics at Pomona College. She is most recently the editor of the forthcoming book A Political Companion to James Baldwin.

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Series | The Obama Legacy, Part 3: Americans Approve Of Barack Obama’s Legacy But Don’t Necessarily Want To See It Continue

  • In his farewell speech Tuesday, Obama acknowledged the rifts that have left the nation with such divided views of his legacy but called for Americans to mend them.
  • This piece is Part 3 of a series on Obama’s legacy that Evergreene Digest  will be publishing over the next weeks. 
  • Related: The Leftwing Has Placed Itself In The Trash Can Of History

Ariel Edwards-Levy, the Huffington Post 01/13/2017 | As President Barack Obama concludes his time in office, his most immediate legacy is a paradox.

Obama’s approval rating, which languished in the mid-40s during much of his tenure, soared during the tumult of the 2016 presidential campaign. He will leave office with an average approval rating of just over 55 percent, according to HuffPost Pollster’s aggregate.

Ariel Edwards-Levy, Staff Reporter and Polling Director, the Huffington Post

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Previously in this series:


The Leftwing Has Placed Itself In The Trash Can Of History — Paul Craig Roberts,

At a time when the Western world desperately needs alternative voices to the neoliberals, the neoconservatives, the presstitutes and the Trump de-regulationists, there are none. The Western left wing has gone insane. The voices being raised against Trump, who does need voices raised against him, are so hypocritical as to reflect less on Trump than on those with raised voices.

Related: The Issue is Not Trump. It is Us.

Berkeley protesters just fell into the most obvious trap imaginable. Again.

  • What happened at Berkeley wasn’t heroic or principled; it was disorganized, and pathetic.
  • Related: 'People Have the Right to Take to the Streets'

Melissa B. Warnke, Los Angeles (CA) Times, February 8, 2017 | An attention-thirsty bigot came to speak at UC Berkeley last night (I refuse to say his name), at the request of the College Republicans. He couldn’t have asked for a better evening. What was originally billed as a peaceful protest quickly turned violent. The bigot didn’t end up speaking to a crowd of several hundred students. Instead, he spoke to a crowd of millions, during an extended interview on Fox News and a series of rants on his Facebook page, where he claimed he’d been evacuated from the campus.

I chose to cover neither the bigot’s speech tonight nor the protest. He has a single card in his deck; I’d seen it before. But when I heard that Sproul Plaza, the campus square half a mile from my house, had descended into chaos, I tuned in. And here’s what I saw: Protesters shouted obscenities; they threw firecrackers and bricks at police; they shattered windows; they set a large fire in the middle of campus; they pummeled a man wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat until he bled. Police fired rubber bullets at and deployed tear gas on the crowd after issuing multiple warnings for protesters to leave the area. Students then danced to “We Found Love in a Hopeless Place” and “Drunk in Love” while raising their middle fingers.

Melissa B. Warnke: Contributing writer, Los Angeles (CA) Times' Opinion, , covering politics, violence, gender. 

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'People Have the Right to Take to the Streets', Janine Jackson <>, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)

Janine Jackson interviewed Mara Verheyden-Hilliard about the inauguration protests for the January 27, 2017, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.