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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...

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...

February 13, 2016

Notes on a classic. (See also these notes.)-- In Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America (1993), Walter LaFeber interprets the history of U.S. imperialism in this region as consisting of several stages: first, the U.S.’s setting up of its Central American policy or “system” between the 1890s and World War II, a system that involved forcing a depende...

February 10, 2016

The fulfillment of the [Marxian] prophecy.— As capital has become more mobile internationally since the 1970s (the era of globalization), undermining national boundaries and cultures, and has accumulated in ever-larger concentrations, undermining the “relative independence” of the state and producing a global proletariat (or “precariat”), the world has approximated ever more clos...

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...

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...

June 13, 2015

Albert Camus: “We [moderns] read more than we meditate. We have no philosophies but merely commentaries. This is what Étienne Gilson says, considering that the age of philosophers concerned with philosophy was followed by the age of professors of philosophy concerned with philosophers. Such an attitude shows both modesty and impotence. And a thinker who began his book with these...

May 6, 2015

Part 2 of "Thoughts on the 70th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust." Part 1 is here.-- While the industrialized murder of six million people is in a category all its own, one can observe in daily life many of the tendencies that make it possible. The thinking that sees the machinery of death as solely a thing of the past, an incomprehensible anomaly that we have decisively o...

April 29, 2015

The nation-state and capitalism were born as twins from the fertile, ancient womb of greed and power-hunger. They grew up together, were playmates from an early age—going on treasure hunts, playing Cowboys and Indians, in their later years preferring Monopoly—learned from each other, helped each other achieve their dreams, relied on each other in difficult times. Their youths and...

November 17, 2014

Reading A Brief History of Neoliberalism (2005), by David Harvey. The inflation of the 1970s, as you may know, resulted largely from government attempts to keep the Keynesian, labor-accommodating state going in a poorer economic climate, an environment of slower economic growth than the two postwar decades. The high inflation manifested the crisis of the Keynesian state. Double-d...

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