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Ear to the Ground

The Working Life of a Professional Cynic

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Posted on Nov 1, 2012
Jane Magellanic

Thomas Frank.

Thomas Frank, master of sarcasm and chief polemicist for Harper’s Magazine, is a treasure of the anxious, aggravated left. He recently made a demonstration of happy defiance in the face of accelerating social disaster in an interview with The Financial Times.

Frank is the author most recently of “Pity the Billionaire,” a consideration of the right’s glorious return during the fallout of the 2008 crash from an ignominy earned during eight years of George W. Bush. His essays can be read monthly in Harper’s and in The Baffler, a triannual journal of art and criticism.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

The Financial Times:

What drives you on?

A fascination with paradox and irony. It’s definitely not a faith that my political views will one day triumph; the experience of the past few years has ended any hopes in that regard. Irony and paradox are what’s left to us.

What has been your greatest disappointment?

How to choose? I signed up for a life of disappointments: organised labour, Liberal Democrats, academia, print journalism – every one of them either a failure or near collapse.

If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?

I would probably change sides. The right needs a few able polemicists – the bunch they’ve got now are so dreadful – and everyone knows they pay much better than the liberals.

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