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August 6, 2018

In The Populist Vision, Charles Postel argues persuasively that Populism, the greatest popular movement in American history, should not be called (as it sometimes is) anti-modern, ‘traditional,’ anti-industrial, anti-progress, even anti-capitalist in a strict sense. What it opposed was not ‘modernity’ or industrial progress or technological efficiency or the market but a particul...

March 23, 2018

Just a quick note: I recently posted a long summary of and commentary on Georg Lukacs' masterpiece The Destruction of Reason, which has been absurdly--though not surprisingly, given the quality of the West's intellectual culture--neglected and virtually forgotten by everyone except Lukacs scholars. It describes the path to Hitler in the realm of culture, particularly philosophy,...

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 academia.edu, 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...

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,...

May 16, 2016

Marxism and the French Revolution.— Let’s grant that the French Revolution was precipitated more by the nobility’s grievances than the bourgeoisie’s. And let’s grant that it had definitely un-bourgeois phases, such as Robespierre’s Terror and his obsession with “civic virtue,” republicanism, the general will, a phase that briefly approached totalitarianism. Let’s also grant that...

October 8, 2015

Reading The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin (2011), by Corey Robin. An elegant and erudite elaboration of an obvious thesis, that the essence of conservatism, in all its seemingly contradictory permutations, has always been the impulse to defend power and privilege against movements demanding freedom and equality. Conservatism is “a meditation on—a...

August 14, 2015

What is the significance of the fact that in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries certain (semi-fascist) sections of the middle and upper classes in Western society started obsessing over heroism, manliness, strength, military virtues, and, conversely, society’s increasing effeminacy, “neurasthenia,” desiccation, decadence, etc.? It was indeed a near-obsession, and i...

August 5, 2015

It might seem wrong to maintain, as I have in many writings, that the modern predominance of bureaucratic social structures and their ethos—for which industrial capitalism (broadly defined, including the Soviet Union and even “Communist” China) has been largely responsible, in that it is an anti-personal social order in which people tend to be treated as instantiations of such ca...

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