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March 30, 2017

[From an email.]

…Of course it's true that every event in history depends on contingencies. [I had said the Russian Revolution depended on a series of accidents, and my interlocutor had replied that’s true of everything in history.] The point is that the transition from capitalism to socialism is supposed to happen virtually by necessity (as Marx argued in the Manifesto and other...

August 11, 2016

[Old jottings from my journal.] Lenin’s Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, from the selections I’ve read so far, is sensible. (That isn’t the academic consensus, but what do you expect from philosophers? He’s a Commie, after all.) Here’s one of his briefer summaries of George Berkeley’s thought: “Let us regard the external world, nature, as a ‘combination of sensations’ evoked in...

September 20, 2015

[This is an excerpt from Notes of an Underground Humanist.]

You should read Peter Kropotkin’s essay “The State: Its Historic Role.” L’état, c’est la guerre. One of the state’s historic roles, of course, has been to transplant the peasantry from the countryside to the cities so as to facilitate industrialization (i.e., to create Marx’s “reserve army of labor”) and make possible the...

August 10, 2015

I'm finally reading [in 2011] E. P. Thompson’s classic The Making of the English Working Class (1963). Query: why was England so impervious to social and political reform in the early 19th century, during the Industrial Revolution? Answer: in part because in the 1790s “the French Revolution consolidated Old Corruption by uniting landowners and manufacturers in a common panic [ove...

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