The Current Affairs Mindset


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4 stars
A fine collection of lefty essays about politics & culture

Current Affairs is a left-wing magazine (review) and podcast, and they publish some of their essays in book form as well. I received one such collection, “The Current Affairs Mindset”, as a Patreon gift for supporting the podcast. Since I’ve only subscribed to the magazine since 2018, this was a welcome gift; the book was published in 2017 and includes essays from the 2016-2017 time period.

The cover is adorned with an illustration of a middle-aged, mildly obese white man admiring himself in the mirror, pretending that he is a gorilla with a Trump-like head of blond hair. The title and illustration poke fun at far-right demagogue slash self-help guru Mike Cernovich’s “Gorilla Mindset” cult, which is dissected in one of the book’s better essays.

The cover and the brevity of most essays also make the book a decent bathroom reader for any lefty household. Because Current Affairs doesn’t paywall its content, you’ll find all of the included essays online, as well, in case you want to sample the content on a screen before buying a print version.

Complete table of contents with links

They range from left-wing critiques of liberal obsessions (like the musical Hamilton) to very cogent analysis of the resurgence of the far-right, and of the realities of poverty and oppression in the United States.

While parts of the book feel a bit echo-chambery (“here’s what good lefties think about X”), Current Affairs deserves credit for publishing nuanced essays on topics like free speech or identity politics, instead of embracing received wisdom of any particular political persuasion.