This week, or so, in criticism, #32

“‘If you mean to tell me,” an editor said to me, “that Esquire tries to have articles on serious issues and treats them in such a way that nothing can come of it, who can deny it?’” writes the anti-technology terrorist Ted Kaczynski, quoting from memory the 1960s activist Paul Goodman, in an amusing throwaway line in John H. Richardson’s survey of the mostly peaceable activists who find themselves in the awkward position of concluding that the Unabomber made some good points (New York).

In policy debates about the pros and cons of free trade, writes Nicolas Lamp in a new research paper, there are three predominant narratives: Trumpism, establishment economics, and reformism (SSRN). It’s impossible to show empirically that one narrative is correct and the other two false, because the narratives are premised on different value systems. Trumpists think of jobs as national property, and see trade as taking from America and giving to foreign countries; they advocate tariffs, import quotas, and other obstructions to trade that they hope will reclaim jobs for Americans, especially traditional manufacturing jobs, on which they put a higher, more or less sentimental value. Establishment economists, by contrast, see international free trade as win-win. They acknowledge that it can harm some lower-skilled American workers but since they believe it’s a boon to almost all American consumers, they see this inequity as a domestic issue. They defend the status quo, though they’re willing to nudge domestic governments to take better care of free trade’s “losers.” Reform analysts, meanwhile, see free trade agreements as taking from labor, internationally considered, and giving to capital, internationally considered. They argue that a trade agreement should require signatory countries to improve labor safety, strengthen labor unions, and crack down on corporate tax evasion and tax sheltering. Interesting coincidences: both Trumpists and reformers loathe investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) courts, but the establishment-supported and Trumpist-killed TPP would have strengthened labor’s bargaining power in Asia in just the way reformers advocate.

“Like Stalin, Harry Truman was a product of the criminal underworld,” and got his start as the squeaky-clean-looking front man for a Kansas City gang boss in the cement business. The Marshall Plan, meanwhile, was motivated not by altruism but by a concern to guide Europe away from social democracy (generous welfare systems, tightly regulated financial sectors, government involvement in the economy) and toward American-style free enterprise (austerity for the people, and money wants to be free), and is to be praised for goading the Russians to the edge of their patience but no farther. Thomas Meaney examines the unseemly facts beneath the self-congratulatory myths of America’s post-WW2 leadership of the free world (LRB).

“If Ida set its sights on a past that Poles have long evaded and denied, Cold War is a journey into what, at mid-century, was a radically uncertain future.” Giles Harvey surveys the movies of Pawel Pawlikowski (Harper’s).

In order to tame and channel the anger he stirred up among migrant farmworkers, Cesar Chavez felt he had to start a hunger strike. Who will keep the anger rampant in America today from souring into a mere longing to inflict pain on enemies? Charles Duhigg looks into the sociology and recent history of rage (Atlantic).