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Harper's Magazine

Harper's Magazine July 2020

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HARPER’S MAGAZINE, the oldest general interest monthly in America, explores the issues that drive our national conversation through such celebrated features as Readings, Annotation, and Findings, as well as the iconic Harper’s Index.

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United States
Harper's Magazine Foundation
$8.86(Incl. tax)
$25.20(Incl. tax)
12 Issues

in this issue

8 min.

Popular Semantics Thomas Frank’s brilliant article [“The Pessimistic Style in American Politics,” Essay, May] sheds light on the curious use of the word “populist” to describe authoritarians, and the significance of populism in American history. It is sad that nobody today wants to be labeled a populist—here in the land of government of the people, by the people, for the people. Thomas Kraemer Duvall, Wash. Frank successfully rescues the P-word from a long history of revisionism by the Establishment but misses the mark on what today’s populists should learn from the People’s Party. Nineteenth-century Populists were not so much engaged in “breaking the duopoly of the Republicans and Democrats” as they were breaking intraparty alliances and building new coalitions within those structures. From William Jennings Bryan’s winning the Democratic presidential nomination to the alliance…

4 min.
editor’s desk

When President Trump announced several months ago that the spread of the novel coronavirus constituted a national emergency, he invoked—whether he knew it or not—the National Emergencies Act, the 1976 law that formalized the executive branch’s powers in such situations. Before that point, presidents had asserted this authority in ad hoc and constitutionally dubious ways, and emergencies tended to go on indefinitely. (At the time the act passed, the declaration of emergency with which Harry Truman mobilized the country for the Korean War was still in place.) The new law brought all ongoing emergencies to a close, and it established that future ones would expire a year after being declared unless formally renewed by the president. In addition, it empowered Congress to bring an end to national emergencies at any…

10 min.
easy chair

On March 30, during one of the daily briefings on the COVID-19 outbreak that had so captured the hearts and minds of New Yorkers, Governor Andrew Cuomo uttered a sentence that would soon become his veritable mantra: “This is no time for politics.” It was a nice sentiment, but a meaningless one—everything is politics and politics is everything. In each great world crisis, the shape of things to come is fast upon us before the crisis is even over. Already, the worst among us are hard at work exploiting our national agony for brand building and political advancement. Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz, famous TV quacks, have dismissed the number of expected deaths; Southern governors have scurried about to reopen tattoo parlors; Las Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman has offered up her…

6 min.
melancholy science

On July 22, 2011, a neofascist Norwegian terrorist named Anders Breivik set off a car bomb in Oslo that killed eight people, and then traveled to a socialist youth camp on the island of Utøya, where he ruthlessly gunned down sixty-nine more. That morning he had published a fifteen-hundred-page manifesto, titled “2083: A European Declaration of Independence,” which he had prepared well before his horrific acts. The document, in addition to parroting predictable, racist rants against Muslims and immigrants, offering muddled defenses of “Christian civilization,” and repeating a few arguments from the Unabomber’s screed against modern technology, recycled charges made by the “alt-right” against the Frankfurt School, the contingent of intellectuals and academics that coalesced around the University of Frankfurt Institute for Social Research in the early twentieth century. The…

1 min.
cat ladies

The growing population of outdoor, free-ranging cats poses an increasingly serious threat to biodiversity. In this study, we provide robust estimates of free-ranging cat density at thirty universities in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, China. We found that the population density of free-ranging cats is linearly related to the proportion of female students at a university. An online questionnaire confirmed that human females were more concerned about the living conditions of free-ranging cats than were human males in China. A socialization test on twenty-seven free-ranging cats suggests that cats may react more sociably to human females, an important factor to consider in cat population management.…

2 min.
soul proprietor

VICTOR BLACKWELL: Your attorney, who was one of more than a thousand who attended the Palm Sunday service, has now contracted the virus. He is in the hospital. His wife has also tested positive. TONY SPELL: You have no way to prove they contracted this virus in our services. BLACKWELL: That is true. My question is, if you know that people have contracted the virus, have you considered having services online? SPELL: We have not. In fact, Victor, I had sixteen different states represented at our Easter Sunday service. People are coming out in greater numbers because they are seeing that this is such a false balance in our nation. Everything is open but the church. BLACKWELL: Well, that’s not true. But I want to ask: pastors around the country are having these teleworship…