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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...

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...

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...

August 8, 2016

Years ago I read and took some notes on various works by Hannah Arendt. In particular her classic Origins of Totalitarianism. It's a great book, although perhaps insufficiently Marxist and somewhat idiosyncratic in a few of its interpretations, so I posted those notes and others on Academia.edu. I also took notes on an interesting book about Max Weber's sociology of culture. And,...

December 19, 2015

On neoclassical economics.— Milton Friedman wrote a famous article in 1953 called “The Methodology of Positive Economics,” in which he argued that in science, the less realistic or more idealizing the model, the better.[1] A typically simplistic argument. But for a neoclassicist it served the function of making a virtue of necessity, thus allowing him to continue to believe his t...

October 22, 2015

Reading the Chomsky-recommended Political Economy and Laissez-Faire: Economics and Ideology in the Ricardian Era (1986), by Rajani Kanth. Classical political economy as class war, against the aristocracy and the poor. (Kind of obvious, actually.)

A useful passage:

[With the Speenhamland “amendment”—in 1795—to the Elizabethan Poor Laws, which, among other things, sanctioned the idea...

September 5, 2015

According to Karl Marx, capitalism functions in such a way that its appearance differs from its essence. What happens in the marketplace conceals what is happening in the sphere of production. His theory of “commodity fetishism” elaborates on that claim, and it leads to the theory of “reification.” Both are sketched below.

Any economist knows that a commodity has two aspects: it...

July 18, 2015

Classical and neoclassical economics are silly. Maybe at times they stumble into a good idea or two, but the foundation is unreal. Let’s just use our common sense for a minute. If a country wants economic development, there has to be high aggregate demand for goods. Without demand, producers will have no reason to supply goods. What’s the surest way to create demand? Let governme...

April 19, 2015

The following is a resolution proposed at a Chicago conference of the Communist Party’s Unemployed Councils in 1930, in the context of the Great Depression:

"The basic cause of this mass unemployment is the fact that the workers receive as wages only a fraction of the value they create, and cannot buy back their product. Hence vast quantities of commodities are left in the hands o...

March 15, 2015

Ideological hacks like Friedrich Hayek and his contemporary disciples pretend that the difference between capitalism and socialism is that the latter is planned and the former isn’t. It’s “the market” versus “centralized planning.” But this has nothing to do with it. For a very long time, capitalist societies have been largely planned, indeed since we entered the era of corporate...

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