August 22, 2019

As a leftist, "I wish we could all just get along." Wouldn't that be nice? Maybe it would get boring pretty quickly. But a little less conflict between people, a little more peace and quiet, would be great. People have such trouble dealing with each other! So much cruelty and hostility, so little empathy and understanding. Relations between the sexes, for example, are so fraught...

August 4, 2019

This is from a letter Sigmund Freud wrote to his pastor friend Oskar Pfister:

I do not break my head very much about good and evil, but I have found little that is ‘good’ about human beings on the whole. In my experience most of them are trash, no matter whether they publicly subscribe to this or that ethical doctrine or to none at all. That is something that you cannot say aloud,...

July 22, 2019

[Years ago I took notes on the book mentioned below, which I thought I'd post here just for the heck of it. Maybe someone will find them useful.]

Reading Anthony Brewer’s Marxist Theories of Imperialism: A Critical Survey (1980). Sometimes my living in a postmodern culture makes me forget just how obvious the economic interpretation of history is. “The motives for imperial expansi...

July 20, 2019

A recent article of mine, called "Political Correctness Is Getting Out of Hand," elicited some angry emails. Not from people who disagreed with the thesis -- it seems that not only conservatives and centrists but even most leftists think political correctness sometimes goes too far -- but from people who objected to this sentence: "Ultimately it isn’t permitted....even to state m...

July 16, 2019

Lugubrious. That's the word for how I'm feeling tonight. That and self-indulgent. So I thought I'd write a blog post. These midnight moods used to ambush me frequently when I was in my 20s, sometimes eliciting sentimental poetry. Now I'm older, not much wiser, more callused, but still susceptible once in a while to the misty melancholy of existential yearning. Diffuse nostalgia,...

July 11, 2019

Here's a blog post for you masochists who are interested in the debates that go on among Marxist intellectuals over questions around revolution, strategies to get from capitalism to socialism, Leninism and its relevance or lack thereof to the present, etc.

It's kind of remarkable, actually, how much collective time is devoted to these abstract questions, how many thousands o...

July 3, 2019

I recently read a great book called A New History of Life: The Radical New Discoveries about the History of Life on EarthCouldn't resist taking notes on it, so as not to forget it all. (I have an abysmal memory.) In case anyone might be interested, here they are. The history of life is such a fascinating topic I sometimes wish I'd studied the life sciences instead of philosophy...

December 13, 2018

Here's a list of some good leftist books I've come across over the years. Click on the titles for the PDFs. It's a somewhat arbitrary list, but I tried to keep it confined to fairly easy-to-read books, not overly theoretical or abstruse ones that might leave the beginning reader bewildered. I've been unable to find PDFs of certain excellent works, unfortunately. You can also cons...

December 9, 2018

[Old notes on David Montgomery’s great book Citizen Worker: The Experience of Workers in the United States with Democracy and the Free Market during the Nineteenth Century (1993).]

What Alexander Troup wrote in 1891 applies just as well to the present: “We prate religion… We indulge in morbid sentimentalism over ‘happy homes,’ we spread ourselves in eagle flights of oratory over o...

October 16, 2018

[Philosophical notes from 2005.] Reading a collection called Contemporary Debates in Epistemology (eds. Steup and Sosa) for class. I'm halfway through the Dretske reading, which argues against the principle of closure (closure = the idea that if S knows that P is true and knows that P implies Q, then, evidentially speaking, this is enough for S to know that Q is true).

I think al...

September 15, 2018

[Here's an excerpt from a book on 'humanism' I wanted to write back in 2006. It's from a passage in which I was arguing against postmodern forms of literature, with their skepticism of old-fashioned narrative and all the other elements of a traditional literary aesthetic. Juvenile in some respects, this passage might at least contain a few thoughts that are defensible.]

...I’d adv...

September 13, 2018

With regard to the period between the 1530s and 1640s, the great Marxian historian Steve Stern divides the economic system that prevailed in the area around the city of Huamanga in Peru—and, by extension, the system in much of Spanish Latin America—into three stages.

The first stage, lasting until the 1570s, was dominated by encomenderos and priests who pioneered relationships wi...

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