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...

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...

June 18, 2018

[As an undergraduate at Wesleyan University I wrote hundreds of essays not all of which, I think, are worthless. Here's a short one on social democracy. Needless to say, the best form of 'government' is in fact socialism, in which workers democratically run the economy themselves. But in capitalist conditions, nothing beats social democracy.]  

Social Democracy Is the Best Fo...

March 31, 2018

A while ago I took some notes on Gabriel Kolko’s classic The Triumph of Conservatism: A Reinterpretation of American History 1900–1916 (1963). It's a far more profound book than the vast majority of scholarship on the Progressive Era. So here they are...

One point I have to quibble with in the beginning is that he does the typical historian thing of arguing that the triumph of con...

October 5, 2017

[The following are lecture notes I wrote, based mainly on Eric Foner's classic Reconstruction. As I found out, they were more than a little too detailed. Nevertheless, they may serve as a useful summary of this important period of American history.] 

The current resurgence of white supremacy—Charlottesville, Trump, the alt-right, neo-Nazis—shows that the legacy of slavery, the Civ...

March 28, 2017

In history, few topics can be more relevant to our own world than the origin of capitalism. Ellen Meiksins Wood's book on that subject (second edition published by Verso in 2002) is a brilliant commentary on and synthesis of earlier scholarship that everyone interested in capitalism should read. The next best thing, though, is to read the notes I took on it.

March 5, 2017

I recently read a book by Chris Bambery called The Second World War: A Marxist History (2014) and decided it was good enough to take notes on. I posted them on, here. Marxist interpretations are typically the most interesting and valuable, so I recommend you read either the notes or the book itself. Especially because World War II was such a formative influence on ou...

December 29, 2016

In an age when the State is daily demonstrating its willingness, or rather its extraordinary eagerness, to brutally repress dissent and democracy, it may be of interest to recall the experiences of survivors of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The following first-hand account was circulated in the weeks after the hurricane hit. As global warming intensifies, massively disrupting commun...

November 6, 2016

Here are some excerpts from a review article of a book I’m reading called Slaughterhouse (1997), by Gail Eisnitz:

[....] The agony starts when the animals are hauled over long distances under extreme crowding and harsh temperatures. Here is an account from a worker assigned to unloading pigs: "In the winter, some hogs come in all froze to the sides of the trucks. They tie a chain...

September 25, 2016

Reading Elizabeth Tandy Shermer’s Sunbelt Capitalism: Phoenix and the Transformation of American Politics (2013). Excellent book, and very ambitious. Useful as, among other things, a reminder that the main reason the South and Southwest finally overcame their colonial status as little more than providers of raw materials to Northern industry was massive intervention by the federa...

July 16, 2016

Over the years I've taken copious notes on various topics of philosophy. In case anyone is interested, I'll link to several sets of such notes here. First, here are reflections on Roger Scruton's history of modern philosophy, with more extended thoughts on Wittgenstein's famous "private-language argument." 

Second, I wrote notes on George Novack's Marxist history and critique of p...

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