This is Sidecar, the NLR blog. Launching in December 2020, Sidecar aims to provide a space on the left for international interventions and debate. A buzzing and richly populated left-media landscape has emerged online in the past decade, but its main English-speaking forms have been largely monoglot in outlook and national in focus, treating culture as a subsidiary concern. By contrast, political writing on Sidecar will take the world, rather than the Anglosphere, as its primary frame. Culture in the widest sense – arts, ideas, mores – will have full standing. Translation of, and intellectual engagement with, interventions in languages other than English will be integral to its work. And while New Left Review appears bi-monthly, running articles of widely varied length, Sidecar will post several items a week, each no longer than 2,500 words and many a good deal shorter.
The criteria for publication on Sidecar will be saying something – about persons, processes, events, structures – that is not being said elsewhere, but deserves to be. Political contributions will avoid repeating judgements and tropes familiar on the left – which, even where well-founded, don’t need further iteration here. Taking culture seriously means treating it critically: sceptical, deflationary – where necessary demolitionary – treatment of intellectual fashion or commercial hype (and their typical interbreeding), combined with an adventurous, exploratory attitude towards the undiscovered and overlooked. Sidecar will share NLR’s core cultural interests – world cinema, literature, the visual arts – but also seek to diversify: reviewing different kinds of books, fiction in particular, and different forms of cultural production, as well as inviting critique of daily life. It will keep a sharp eye on the mediocracy of press and TV.
Shorter forms also allow for more protean modes of expression, with a wider range of registers and tones. Equally, there will be scope for more personal writing – drawing on lived experience, in the recognition that ideas are often born or take root there. Finally, Sidecar is conceived as a space for thought, where ideas can be realized and developed; to that end, it will also encourage critical exchange.