Sarah Williams Goldhagen on Architecture: Valuable China
October 27, 2011
It has a centralized, repressive government for which its citizens do not vote. Local authorities come to people’s houses in the middle of the night to arrest them on bogus charges. Censors control access to information, monitoring the Internet and approving or even writing elementary school textbooks. Corrupt government officials routinely elevate to power the obedient, the well-connected, and the cash-plentiful above the meritorious. Laborers, skilled and unskilled, work breathtakingly long hours.
Wall Street Bolshies Watch
October 03, 2011
A friend who knows my interest in how the ghastly state of the economy is turning Wall Street socialist forwarded me a commentary from William H. Gross, managing director of PIMCO, a global investment management firm.
Obama Is Finally Doing the Right Thing on Israel—For Now, At Least
September 24, 2011
Not yet two months into his presidency, Barack Obama designated Chas Freeman as chair of the National Intelligence Council. It wasn’t the first indication that the United States would likely embark on a new and what was at best a jejune and shallow foreign policy. But the appointment was disturbing all the same. Altogether aside from some raw anti-Jewish biases, Freeman had done a good deal of time in the foreign service, stationed in venues where the instincts of his hosts were especially appreciated by this oh, so cooperative Washington emissary.
The time has come to return to the vexatious relationship between art and politics, which was both catnip and quicksand for thinking people during much of the twentieth century. China’s ever-higher profile as global arbiter of matters artistic—commissioning major work from international architectural stars; giving the nod to a booming market in contemporary Chinese art; and all the while drastically restricting the freedom of artists and writers—leaves us honor bound to explore the tangled old alliances and misalliances between artistic power and political power.
The Unrealistic Realist
July 13, 2011
On China By Henry Kissinger (Penguin, 586 pp., $36) Henry Kissinger may be the most influential figure in the making of American foreign policy since the end of World War II, and he is certainly the most prolific. Since stepping down as secretary of state in 1977, Kissinger has written eight books, totaling more than seven thousand pages and several million words. And this is to say nothing of the five books he wrote before attaining high office, and the innumerable articles, essays, and speeches he has produced since.
There's Gonna Be Fireworks
July 01, 2011
While most of you are watching fireworks on Monday night, I’ll be on a plane en route from Beijing to Detroit. This is the first time in my life I will be abroad for the Fourth of July and, yes, it feels very strange. But spending the last two weeks overseas has had the same effect it always does: It’s made me that much more appreciative of the United States.
Fire and Ice
May 11, 2011
The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is a very brave man. Long before April 3, when he was taken into police custody by the Chinese authorities in Beijing as he attempted to board a flight for Hong Kong, he knew that his vigorous support for human rights in China put him on a collision course with the government. He was badly beaten by the police in 2009, his blog was shut down that same year, and in 2010 his new studio in Shanghai was bulldozed by authorities.
May 05, 2011
In October 2008, a month after the collapse of Lehman Brothers—with the United States’s financial system seemingly about to buckle and Washington in desperate need of cash to prevent a total economic collapse—a State Department official contacted his Chinese counterpart about China buying U.S. securities. To his surprise, the Chinese, who had previously displayed an insatiable appetite for U.S. Treasury bills, suddenly balked at lending a hand. The reason, the Chinese official said, was the recent announcement of an impending sale of U.S.
Bob Dylan in China
April 11, 2011
In memory of Farah Ebrahimi. Times are indeed a-changing: Bob Dylan, who became an American icon by “speaking truth to power,” just gave a concert in China, one of the most repressive countries in the world. While there, Dylan not only failed to express solidarity with the Chinese dissidents in jail; according to The Washington Post, he also agreed to perform only “approved content.” The scenario becomes even more ironic when you consider that, while Bob Dylan sang “Love Sick” in mainland China, outgoing U.S.
After the Disaster
March 17, 2011
Beijing, China—Despite nuclear, geological and logistical disasters unfolding simultaneously, deciding to leave Tokyo on Monday was not a quick decision. My departure was no reflection of the endurance of the Japanese people to overcome this disaster. No doubt, within the nuclear power plants, there are sleepless men, everyday working men, continuing at tremendous personal peril to ensure the safety of millions. Heroic seems an understatement to describe their efforts, and they are not alone. I left because, unlike so many people there, I could—a lucky privilege I did not take for granted.