A reader of Piketty is obsessed by inequality suggested that, although he conceded that my observations based on the Introduction were not without merit, at least I should read part IV to appreciate the ideas of Piketty for a better society. Unfortunately this doesn’t alter my critique one bit. I ended my critique with Lees verder →
Probably, Isaac Asimov is still the top Science Fiction writer of all times. What he wrote about the ethics of robotics — in fact about Artificial Intelligence, but that expression didn’t exist when he wrote about it — is still very much to the point. Perhaps even more important are his sociological and psychological observations leading to his famed psychohistory in the Foundation series. His writing is permeated with the insight that personality is shaped by society, not the other way around. In these times of lockdown because of the COVID “pandemic” The Naked Sun (1957) is very instructive for where we are heading. The Naked Sunis the second detective in the “Eliah Baley” series that started with The Caves of Steel.
In an unspecified future, mankind has developed intelligent robots and star-travel. The Earth is overpopulated. Everyone lives in caves of steel: a gigantic closed structure covering most of the Earth with virtually no privacy. Even lavatories are shared by multiple families. The surface of the structure and the unbuilt parts that are left are used for food production. In the caves robots are scarce and loathed. They work the fields or foodplants on the surface autonomously. No one goes outside any more, in fact one is even afraid of looking outside.
Denouncing Marx as a revolutionary hothead and idiot has reached storm level. While the violent overthrow of slavery in the Civil War and fights for freedom against the powers that be in general are mostly praised, the fight for proper treatment of workers is denounced. In present days especially by those who want to fight the powers that be for… the middleclass working or jobless people, formerly known as the proletariat: the “populists”. Lees verder →
In “Capital and Ideology” (2020), Piketty continues to see inequality as the evil to be fought. While sometimes it’s about extreme or increasing inequality, what degree of inequality is acceptable isn’t clear. The picture emerges that the only acceptable world for Piketty is an equal world, in which everyone participates and lives roughly in the same material circumstances. Lees verder →
Yanis Varoufakis was admirable when he tried to get a proper deal for Greece from the EU back in 2015. When this unsurprisingly failed he had to resign as minister. That same year he grounded DiEM25 “a pan-European, progressive movement that aims to democratize the EU before it disintegrates“. Their newest strategy since April 2019 is stated in The Green New Deal for Europe. It is not clear what triggered the wish to jump on the climate-bandwagon. But it is surprising that “capital” is not mentioned at all in this newest policy, and also pretty much absent in other policies and writings. However, if anyone has really felt the power of capital it must be Yanis. On top of that he did call himself an “erratic Marxist“. I take it that Diem25 wants a real democratic European Federation, not merely to “democratize the EU”. Lees verder →
For about five years I am an ardent listener and fan of Bluegrass, mostly listening to the streaming of bluegrasscountry.org. About 25% of the music is from other genres, like Americana, Traditional European Folk, Blues and Zydeco, mostly sharing the same roots. Some of it not my taste but ok. The main thing is that the music is authentic, acoustic and primarily string instruments. Of course Americana is not acoustic but as it is mostly authentic this is as an exception no problem. Even then with 24/7 there is a lot of time to fill so occasional transgressions as well as intensive reuse of material is understandable. On the side: the last two years this reuse is mostly not explicitly stated and there seems to be no limit to use the same material more than once or twice in a short time (“I haven’t played that in a long time”). This gets irritating. Lees verder →
After his monumental two volume opus on “Political Order” the theme of “Identity” is a surprise though not a pleasant one. In the introduction Fukuyama ascribes his book to the fact that Trump was elected president and his dislike of this fact is clearly visible in his writing. Not very scientific, although he tries and sometimes succeeds in taking a Neutral Point of View (Wikipedia’s NPOV). In fact one tastes contempt for any “populist opposition” in the USA and EU. In his final chapter “What is to be done”, Fukuyama — not disclosing the fact that this title refers to Lenin’s famous pamphlet — pleads for an overarching nationalism based on “creedal” identity. But this nationalism is so “inclusive” and abstract that it will not appeal to many. Lees verder →
For me, present-day Marxism is exemplified by the most eminent Michael Roberts as a Marxist economist and by the no less eminent Peter Thomas for the philosophical and ideological side of Marxism. To a large extent I can value their contributions to the Marxist analysis, though I have some pressing unanswered questions regarding economics.
Now, analysis is only one side of Marxism and both observe that it’s necessary “to change the world”. And while they update the analysis, this can’t be said for the political, strategic ideas, which still uncritically rests on notions like proletariat, class struggle, revolution and abolishment of the capitalist relation of production. Thus paying no or little attention to the failure of these strategies in the past 150 years and the fundamentally changed composition and position of the working class(es), which makes such strategies even more unlikely to be successful. This, though Thomas’ excellent book on Gramsci points to many issues in these strategies. Lees verder →
Let’s not talk about who used the most violence Let’s not talk about left or right. Let’s not talk about the set-up from a Democrat mayor to make shit happen.
Let’s talk about pro or contra establishment. And establishment, that’s the swamp, the universities, Wall Street, (global) Capitalism, the “Mainstream” media. Pro or contra are not necessary aware of their actual role. So Black Live Matters are actually serving the establishment, as do all identity politics-looneys. And though the Nazi’s in Charlottesville seem unaware of this they too are serving those interests. This all points in the same direction: a serious organization of anti-establishment forces is lacking. An organization who can propagate a strategy and could make clear who belongs to the organized opposition and who not. An organization that can deal with Nazi and anti-Semitic “opposition” at the earliest stage, either bringing them to heel or to oust them and even try to get them convicted. The bloggy, loosely knit “alt-right”, tea-party or whatever is too divided and unconscious of political strategy. Maybe they should read Lenin.
The first one to blame for this deplorable(!) situation is Donald Trump and some of his long time advisers, like maybe Steve Bannon. While running for president Trump was able to organize and enthuse ten-thousands of people. This enthusiasm should have been canalized in a serious, permanent organization. Not just for canvassing during the election but as a permanent force that can exercise the necessary pressure in the right direction, and can produce functionaries that can replace Democrat and some Republican functionaries. From the beginning it was obvious that one man with only a few companions can’t drain the swamp. Even if their capacities and insights were far greater then Trump & co.
With the “Google Diversity Memo” controversy it seems like the grab for power from Social Justice Warriors, Diversity Dictators and other snowflakes has arrived at a critical phase. Looking from the other side of the Atlantic I think there is some momentum to start a roll-back. We still have to wait for that in Europe, but on the other hand the situation hasn’t gotten that much out of hand yet, though it’s coming close.
It isn’t hard to see that social science departments and possibly law schools play a big role. Here the “left” has landed after ’68 and was able to oust other points of view, spewing out whole generations of political correct warriors who took over the media, the Democratic Party and subsequently invaded other institutions and companies. This was crowned by the election of Obama as president in 2008. The past years show an attempt to cleanse these departments from the last remnants of rational and realistic thinking about society and culture.
I am not versed in the way the US federal or state government can intervene in the curriculum of social sciences, but I guess some kind of accreditation is necessary. It could be a way to roll back the influence of the loony left to form or reorganize committees to evaluate the “scientific quality” of these departments and pull their accreditation, possibly annulling previously handed out qualifications and effectively closing them down or forcing them to reorganize drastically.
Of course, as with all draining of swamps, the crocodiles won’t go away without a fight and will use their allies in “justice”-departments and courts to hinder. Unfortunately the stalemate in Congress makes proper lawmaking impossible at this moment but putting up the fight is step one to show what is at stake.