The Racket takes its name from the speeches of Smedley Butler, a legendary Marine turned antiwar activist in the years before World War II. After decades of advancing the causes of U.S. capitalism, empire, and his own career—at the expense of peoples all over the world—Butler became a fierce critic of all three.

In those later years, Butler turned his maverick streak against the powerful, taking the side of the working class and against fascism. And he wasn’t afraid to challenge the institutions he had dedicated his life to, declaring that as a Marine he had been no more than hired muscle for corporations and the banks—a “racketeer for capitalism.”

Written by award-winning author and journalist Jonathan M. Katz (Gangsters of Capitalism, The Big Truck That Went By), The Racket carries on Butler’s legacy: his fearlessness, his eagerness to challenge the powerful, and his willingness to be critical of himself. Building on a career he has spent exposing wrongdoing and corruption at the highest levels, each issue will help you better understand the webs of connections that link seemingly disparate parts of our world—in international affairs, disaster, U.S. politics, social issues, and more.

Who am I?

I’m Jonathan Myerson Katz. You might know me on social media as @KatzOnEarth. I’m a regular contributor to lots of publications covering world and national affairs. For the first half of my career, I broke news around the world as a foreign correspondent for the Associated Press, most notably in Haiti, where I was the bureau chief during the catastrophic 2010 earthquake.

My first book, The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster, was a PEN Literary Award finalist and won the Overseas Press Club of America’s award for the year’s best book on international affairs. I was formerly a national fellow at New America and directed the Media & Journalism Initiative at Duke University’s John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute.

What people have said about The Racket:

“Clear, sharp, moral commentary and journalism, and a vital voice promoting a world of justice in a spirit of universal humanity.” — A.R. Moxon, Racket subscriber

“I ran across your work looking for info on Haiti, then read your excellent book on Smedley Butler. I've appreciated your recent well-documented and very personal posts on the violence in Israel and Gaza/West Bank. Thanks for your reporting!” — Lauren Martens, Racket subscriber

“I subscribed ... at the highest annual rate on the strength of Katz's writing on Smedley Butler & the Business Plot” — Spencer Ackerman, Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter, writer of Forever Wars, Racket subscriber

“You seem no-bullshit and i'd rather be disturbed by the truth than comforted by a lie. I appreciate your earnest perspective, rich historical grasp, and nuanced views…” — Jason Aylsworth, Racket subscriber

“A fantastic newsletter.” — Jamelle Bouie, New York Times columnist

The Racket’s logo was designed by Casey Burns, a poster artist who has also worked with Sonic Youth, Modest Mouse, and Spoon.

It all depends on you

None of this will work without your support. The more of you who chip in with $6 a month, the more we can do—more investigations, more Freedom of Information requests, more and better independent journalism.

You’ll get:

  • Every post, including premium exclusives

  • Access to subscriber-only discussion threads

  • Access to the full Racket archive going back to 2019

  • My undying thanks and admiration