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Luke Thomas Mergner is a co-founder and managing editor of Contrivers’ Review. He received a M.A. in Political Science from Indiana University in 2010, where he studied critical and democratic theory.

Through a discussion of two important texts by Kant and Lenin, Luke Mergner explores how our ideas about public intellectuals are tied to different models of social and political authority. The public sphere is defined by the tension between democracy and intellectual authority. How can anyone claiming the role of the public intellectual find alternative critical languages when the egalitarian democratic spaces of the public sphere are withering away?

A bibliographical essay on several recent conversations related to the theme of intellectual production and responsibility.

Evgeny Morozov’s newest book is best read as marginalia rather than as any systematic contribution to a social theory of technology. It is a book very much of the moment, focused on challenging the mistakes of a narrow field of interlocutors, all of whom publish, like Morozov, on the fashionable topic of technology journalism.

Contrivers’ Review is an online journal of theory and criticism. Though our first issue self-reflexively questioned the value of “intellectual” work, one crucial aspect of our description has yet to undergo much scrutiny—namely, the adjectives “online” or “digital.”

We accept that labor is necessary on some elemental level for survival and are habituated to the capitalist organization of labor that exchanges labor for income. Something about the ubiquity of work makes it difficult for us to see it as something other than a natural, inevitable part of everyday life. But middle-class, educated workers are awakening to the reality that work resembles the precarious, austere, back-breaking conditions of the global poor rather than providing a comfortable middle-class lifestyle.

In our second installment, we explore two questions surrounding the presidential election: Where is Donald Trump’s support coming form? Is Donald Trump a fascist?

In an interview, David Frayne discusses his new book The Refusal of Work, the psychological and social costs of modern work, and the possibility of reform.

President Trump’s lasting legacy may be a dysfunctional state, as institutional neglect and incompetence threaten longterm health of the US federal government.

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