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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.

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...

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...

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...

November 10, 2014

In retrospect it’s obvious that something like socialism couldn’t have happened until the nation-state system had disintegrated (which it’s starting to do now), because the nationality principle conflicts with the class principle. Marx thought the latter was more powerful and important than the former, and in many ways he was right. But not in the way he wanted: business tended t...

October 10, 2014

For-profit justice.— What’s going on in the prison-industrial complex is almost literally unbelievable. Just read Punishment for Sale: Private Prisons, Big Business, and the Incarceration Binge (2010), by Donna Selman and Paul Leighton. Here’s a one-sentence summary of the monumental injustice: “While the United States has a long history of the rich getting richer while the poor...

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