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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 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...

July 16, 2016

Over the years I've taken copious notes on various topics of philosophy. In case anyone is interested, I'll link to several sets of such notes here. First, here are reflections on Roger Scruton's history of modern philosophy, with more extended thoughts on Wittgenstein's famous "private-language argument." 

Second, I wrote notes on George Novack's Marxist history and critique of p...

May 6, 2016

It’s interesting that the French Revolution’s liberalism in some ways helped make possible its illiberalism, its nationalism and authoritarianism. For, by enforcing the vision of a society of atomized individuals and “destroying corporate society” (outlawing “orders” and corporate bodies), the Revolution made it easier for people to identify with the single overarching community...

April 17, 2016

Staughton Lynd's Intellectual Origins of American Radicalism(1968) is a fantastic exploration of the ideological offshoots and effects of the Enlightenment in the United States, which all students of intellectual history should read. I took some notes on it here. But I'll also post them below:

The book begins with thoughtful philosophical analyses that set the Declaration of...

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...

April 13, 2015

One of the many ironies about contemporary Christians is that they tend to be supportive of capitalism. This isn’t surprising: from the time of Emperor Constantine, the Church has been allied with established power-structures, which have found it useful as a way to keep the masses obedient. So Christianity accommodated itself to the Roman Empire, then to feudalism, then to royal...

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...

January 21, 2015

The awesome power of business propaganda is revealed in the fact that most Americans scorn the idea of socialism, which is really just common sense. Essentially all it denotes is the ideal that working people should have control over their work, they shouldn’t have to rent themselves to multimillionaire bosses for eight or twelve hours a day in order to make more money for the bo...

December 10, 2014

From an academic paper. (See my book on worker cooperatives, where this is all fleshed out in much more detail.)-- The Food Wars (2009), by Walden Bello, presents both a damning indictment of the neoliberal world food system and a vision of an alternative system based on small-scale agriculture, which Bello argues can be more efficient, socially responsible, and environmentally s...

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 18, 2014

The power of indoctrination is shown by the fact that most people don’t consider themselves radical leftists, socialists, or anarchists. The way they act shows that basically they are, only they don’t know it. They think that authority not only isn’t self-justifying (to quote Chomsky’s definition of anarchism) but is often or usually unjust, and merely has to be tolerated because...

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