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anti masturbation device

The advent of the solitary vice

On the history of masturbation

Masturbation became an important medical and moral issue around 1712, Thomas Laqueur argues. Increasingly viewed by Enlightenment thinkers as a pathology of the solitude of an unmoored mind, the private practice was quickly linked with feelings of shame and guilt, with implications for self and society that would last for centuries.

Cover for: Living like a king

The film of Putin’s Palace is above all a story of monumental corruption. Yet it is also a story about the Russian leader’s warped historical imagination. Despite the residence’s imperial pretensions, its secrecy speaks volumes about the cultural chasm between Putin and the Romanovs.

Cover for: Zones of friction

Zones of friction

An interview with Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing

Extractivism and its impacts seem to be globalization’s end game. Industrial capitalism plunders natural resources, wreaking havoc on biomes and the lives of Indigenous peoples – then moves on. Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing speaks about the ‘friction’ between dynamic groups that can ultimately bring regeneration.

Cover for: Beyond Navalny’s arrest

Just landed in Moscow after recovering from the Novichok poisoning of last August, Putin’s major political opponent Aleksej Navalny was immediately arrested. This selection of Eurozine reads helps understand why the Kremlin fears him and is cracking down on niches of free expression and rising civic activism.

Cover for: Can democracy prevail?

Trump wasn’t an aberration: he only renewed the US nation’s bitter, uncivil war over whether a clear majority of its people want to forge a republic of equals. The challenge for Biden will be to assert his ‘American ideal’ over the competing vision that Trump has left behind.

Cover for: ‘I see myself seeing myself’

‘I see myself seeing myself’

Photographic experimentation in Soviet Ukraine

Amateur photographers offered a range of alternative windows on life in the USSR undercutting the dogmas of socialist realist aesthetics. Bohdan Shumylovych places the Kharkiv School of Photography under Lacan’s psychoanalytic ‘cultural gaze’.

Cover for: Big Pharma’s finest hour?

The roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines gives much-needed hope. But if the drug industry keeps being devoted exclusively to profit, inequality and mistrust will cost lives in poorer countries, and eventually also in the wealthy western world.

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‘A decisive effort is necessary’

Heritage, Brexit and the British state

The case for Brexit may amount to more than pure fiction. But there is no denying it is rooted in a revivalist narrative of British history. Whether the perceived enemy be Europe, the welfare state or migrants, the right has been waging the same battle since the 1980s.

Cover for: An uncivil war

The US is facing a twisted, belligerent reality: rioters brazenly revealed their identity in an unmasked raid on the Capitol; the ‘Save America’ rally undermined the constitutional process; and incitement came from the person at the very top of the institutions being debased. All while COVID-19 is on the rise as America’s deadliest threat.

Cover for: Representing nature

It may seem utopian, but granting rights to inanimate beings could break the institutional deadlocks of environmental policy making. Not only that, ‘a parliament of things’ could eliminate the inequalities inherent in our anthropocentric approach to politics.

Cover for: The Arab Spring, ten years on

On 17 December 2010, Tunisian fruit seller Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in protest against the arrogance of the political authorities. Bouazizi’s suicide marked the beginning of the uprisings across the Arab world. A decade later, the consequences of the Arab Spring are still unfolding.

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The erosion of democracy wasn’t gradual; the writing was on the wall. It was the public understanding that lapsed. The recent Trumpist attempt to overturn an election now ends the fantasy that American democracy is distinct. Political junkie Claire Potter weighs in.

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Roots in nature

The pathogen and the politics of biodiversity

People are starting to notice nature’s invoices: forest fires burning koalas, plastic in the oceans, but the loss of biodiversity freefall has not yet fully broken through onto the political agenda. The pandemic now highlights the connection between human health and the mismanagement of nature and wildlife.

Cover for: Will polluters ever pay?

Will polluters ever pay?

Industrial disasters from Baia Mare to Beirut

The explosion in Beirut’s port was so loud that it was heard 150 miles away in Cyprus; a neglected store of fertilizer was the unsuspected bomb. To avoid such mismanagement of hazardous chemicals, authorities need to ensure that the polluter pays, says Gergely Simon.

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