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Weekly Roundup: June 29


At the Blog

On Monday, Ntina Tzouvala argued that South Africa’s case against Israel at the ICJ should be seen as an effort to make a political-economic understanding of genocide legible within the restrictive framework of the Genocide Convention. The text and subsequent interpretations of the Convention exclude from its remit so-called “cultural genocide,” the gradual but calculated destruction of a group through attacks against its social, cultural, or economic structures. This approach, she argues, has largely displaced political economic understandings of genocide in settler colonial settings. However, by relying on Art. II para (c) of the Genocide Convention — which involves “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part” — South Africa’s submission was able to capture the totality of destruction in Gaza, including the destruction of homes, medical facilities, universities, and legal infrastructure, rather than being confined to the infliction of physical harm and death in a narrower way. As Tzouvala writes, “in this instance, history and political economy are not simply a lens that we may or may not choose to use depending on our methodological and political commitments. Rather, arguing through Art. II para. (c) of the Genocide Convention demands that the applicant maps extensively (if not exhaustively) these conditions of life and identifies which acts and omissions can disrupt the reproduction of a society on the most basic level.”

On Tuesday, Chloe Thurston and Emily Zackin explained what America’s long history of organizing voters around debt relief can teach us about our present political moment. Looking back to debtor movements in the nineteenth and into the twentieth centuries, they argue that macroeconomic instability often facilitates this kind of organizing; that measures by state and local governments often lead the way on debt relief and contribute to the process of nationwide change; and that even after their apparent defeat, short-lived policies can nonetheless participate in long-term and large-scale policy changes. As they write, “agenda-setting is, itself, a political accomplishment, pulling questions about debt relief out from technocratic and apolitical realms and into a place where democratic accountability may be possible. Making debt political in this way was an important achievement of older debtors’ movements and a precondition of their policy victories. The fights over debt relief we are witnessing today are a revival of that process.”

And on Thursday, James Kilgore, Emmett Sanders, and Kate Weisburd debunked four key myths that tend to uphold the “better-than-incarceration” rationale in the context of electronic monitoring. In recent years, they note, this rationale has become ever common, which helps explain the skyrocketing use of ankle monitoring in criminal and immigration systems. Yet it is frequently deployed in problematic ways — on the basis of faulty reasoning and to the detriment of those whom it purportedly benefits. As they explain, monitoring is not a minimally invasive form of surveillance, there is no evidence that it decreases incarceration rates, it does not provide people with the ability to choose freedom, and it is neither less expensive nor more effective than incarceration.

In LPE Land

In Democracy, Amy Kapczynski reviewed Mehrsa Baradaran’s The Quiet Coup: Neoliberalism and the Looting of America.

Over at On Labor, Noah Zatz explained how the University of California’s temporary restraining order against the UAW strike is a dangerous instance of judicial overreach.

On the Death Panel podcast, Beatrice Adler-Bolton interviewed Maryam Jamshidi about her recent LPE Blog post on recent legislative efforts to use national security law to repress pro-Palestine organizing on campuses.

Are you a progressive thinker, communicator, or organizer who wants to serve as a government staffer? The application for the 2024 Progressive Talent Pipeline — a program that identifies, endorses, trains, and recommends progressives for staff roles in Congress and government agencies — is now live. The application deadline is Sunday, June 30, 2024.

Did you know that Frank Ramsey didn’t formulate the Ramsey Formula? Beatrice Cherrier explains in a new ten-part series on the history of the formula economists use to model to future.

Gali Racabi has released a new open-access work law textbook. Come for the legal materials, stay for the recommended work law movies and books.

Over at Inquest, a new roundtable considers what role, if any, prosecutors can play in ending mass incarceration, featuring responses from elected prosecutors, advocates, and academics.

Tony Smith reviewed the recent collection Marxism and the Capitalist State: Towards a New Debate.