End of An Era

The Battleground’s Summer Books List

“No more blood.” The graffiti has been there for as long as I can remember.

Room for interpretation. San Salvario, Torino.

Scrawled on a Jewish elementary school behind the Synagogue of Torino, it’s a particularly loaded statement for its location.

It could be about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its lack of resolution. Or it could be about asylum seekers who drown in the Mediterranean. It’s impossible to tell.

But those are the parameters for interpretation. Located in San Salvario, an immigrant-heavy neighbourhood in the central part of the city, the ambiguity is in some ways necessary.

Anything explicitly tied to Israel these days inspires fear of Antisemitism, so the potential migration relation of the graffiti softens the blow, as it might also be about another bloodbath.

That the two crises might somehow be related is strangely reassuring, in its own unconfirmed way. If the author had more specific ideas in mind, I’d prefer not to know. This is better.

That the graffiti persists into a time of renewed war in Europe, now to Italy’s northeast, makes reading it even more complicated. I’m Israeli and Jewish, so my mind naturally tilts south.

At the very least, the contrast highlights the fact that there is no cultural need for graffiti about Ukraine here. The war with Russia is not a moral or cultural crisis of the same nature. So far.

One wonders if and when that might happen, as the Russo-Ukrainian war has altered European politics for at least a generation, if not longer.

Reviving Cold War divisions between Russia and the West on the heels of an unresolved COVID crisis, the conflict is just about the worst thing that could have happened at this time. 

In some respects, that’s precisely why it may have seemed wise for Moscow to have struck when it did. Despite the long buildup, it still caught a pandemic-ravaged Europe and US unprepared.

Considering what it will take for Ukraine to persevere, it seems highly likely that the war will expand and eventually draw NATO directly into the conflict. Some say it has been from the start.

At that point, it will probably be easier to domesticate the conflict to such a degree as it could become a subject of graffiti, like this. One can only imagine what will end up making it feel closer.

In that light, this summer’s Battleground books list is probably the last to mirror the world before the war in Ukraine, albeit the primary concerns of global affairs think typical of the post-Cold War era.

Though there are some books out on the crisis already, it’s still too soon to see the same sorts of titles from the indie publishers The Battleground reads yet.

In the meantime, it’s hard not to look at the titles below and not imagine it somehow reflects the end of an era. Not that any of the issues they cover will disappear. Quite to the contrary.

– Joel Schalit




Can’t Keep a Bad Man Down
Winston Churchill: His Times, His Crimes
Tariq Ali
Verso Books

Still Relevant After All These Years
Psychoanalysis, Politics, and Utopia: Five Lectures
Herbert Marcuse
Repeater Books

There’s Always Another (Arab) Spring
You Have Not Yet Been Defeated: Selected Works
Alaa Abd el-Fattah
Seven Stories Press

Britain Needs An Opposition Party
Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow: The Labour Party After Jeremy Corbyn
Mike Phipps
OR Books

No Libertarians Allowed
Resilient Welfare States in the European Union
Anton Hemerijck and Robin Huguenot-Noël
Agenda Publishing

America’s Latest Taboo Subject
The Racialized Social System: Critical Race Theory as Social Theory
Ali Meghji

Germany Before Neoliberalism
Revolutionary Berlin: A Walking Guide
Nathaniel Flakin
Pluto Press

No Leftist Complaints About Identity Politics
Border and Rule: Global Migration, Capitalism, and the Rise of Racist Nationalism
Harsha Walia
Haymarket Books

Neoliberal France
Christian Lefevre
Agenda Publishing

Best Mideast Reporter in English
The Broken Boy
Patrick Cockburn
OR Books

Photograph courtesy of Joel Schalit. All rights reserved.