A quick note about why I'm participating in the boycott. Community is important, but as far as websites go no particular site is particularly important if the goal is to actually get things done. I haven't figured out the way to get progressive whites to look at themselves in the mirror and examine their own unexamined racism via the internet. I can do some good in person, when affective things like tone of voice can help people open up. What we need is a community with anti-racist intention. We also need moderation to back that up. It's not on dKos. Just not here.
I may be back, but I have a feeling that this is it. Hope that the anti-capitalist crowd keeps in touch.
Richard Cook, in his Blue Note Records: the Biography, doesn't consider the most important question about his subject: why did what was surely the best label in jazz sustain a long-term relationship with none of the music's greatest practitioners and release none of its most important records?
We of course regret that News of the World is the source of this video, but we all remember this episode. I have yet to read an obituary that mentions it. Amy Winehouse crossed one of the lines of 21st century whiteness in it: you can think that stuff, we might agree with you, but you don't get caught doing it publicly. Her career clearly stalled primarily as the result of her addiction, but the video didn't help.
I finished Marx's Introduction to the Grundrisse this morning, reading the third section, a methodological critique of political economy, and the fourth, some fairly sketchy notes on the relationship of production to other aspects of society, but which strikes me as a crucial rejoinder to those who would make the reductionist "base/superstructure" characterization of Marx's view of society. One of the joys of reading Marx, and particularly his manuscripts, is that it shows us a much more subtle intellect than the popular stereotype of Marx, and to some extent Engels' understanding of his project, would lead us to believe.
One of my correspondents in the Anti-Capitalist Meetup read the series of posts I am engaged in on my own blog, and suggested I post them here on DKos. The series is a liveblog of Marx's Grundrisse. This is the first of the series. I'm up to pt. 9 as I write this, about to start on pt. 10. As per a discussion with a couple of the ACM crew, I will write summaries/distillations along the way to be posted to the group. This series, however I'll post as-is, to my own feed.
I started reading Marx's Grundrisse yesterday, and plan to blog it. It will talk a lot of time, and I'll just go bit by bit. I don't have any particular expertise and certainly not any credentials, but I'm persistent and have some experience reading Marx. So, bearing this in mind, I invite anyone else out there to read along with me. Let me know what you think.
I will write what I write as part of my own working out of the text. I fully expect that I will misunderstand things. Corrections are invited. This is in no way intended to be a comprehensive or even coherent summary of the work. It's just me writing about what I read, because that's how I best develop my own understanding of a subject.
Wondering if our idiot government had come to some debt ceiling conclusion, I popped onto CNN's website. I intended a quick glance before doing a little research for something I plan on writing on debt ceiling foolishness and its relationship to radical change. I regret to report this article, prominently displayed:
Are baby boomers to blame for debt crisis?
...Still, as a generation, they will have paid less into the Social Security system than they are expected to take out. According to a report from the Social Security and Medicare Board of Trustees, the Social Security system is expected to be solvent until about 2037 -- largely because of the surplus in the Trust Fund -- even though the payroll taxes flowing in stop being enough to cover the expenses flowing out in 2017.
Minor edit w/strikethrough indicating original text on 6/25 AM.
In no way do I think that the role the Federal Debt plays in our economy is a good thing. Increasing debt benefits creditors, and that means it makes life harder for working people. Our current arrangement, increasing the Federal debt in the context of long-term reduction of tax liability of the very wealthy, benefits creditors and makes life harder for working people. That's not a good thing. Everyone should be clear that Democrats, by playing the role of the "sensible" party as regards the debt ceiling, are sensible on the system's terms. Raising the debt ceiling will allow for the smooth functioning of a system that is set up to benefit capital, not labor--not you and me. Raising the debt ceiling is the preferable option only because the consequences to not doing so will harm working people more, in terms of life conditions, than it will the very wealthy.
The important question one can ask is: "why are we in this mess?" I would myself say that the mess is capitalism, not just the debt, but we can go with just the debt. The short answer is that the United States has continually ran up its debt for decades because those with more money--more capital--than they know what to do with have funded it. Indeed, they have required our debt.
I was spending a lot of time at the San Francisco Zen Center a few months back, and I met a Muscovite who was staying there who was pleased that I knew a little Russian. In fact, he told me that I spoke the best Russian of anyone he'd met in the States. I told him that was pathetic, but that I was pleased.
We talked about a lot of things other than Buddhism, Marxist politics and literature among them. He very much considers himself a Bolshevik and feels that Stalin is misunderstood in the United States. I agree, Stalin is much misunderstood in the United States, but this Russian seemed very quick to gloss over the violence that attended his modernization policies, however successful given an important criterion--how well does Russia do against Germany?--they may have been. I suppose, though, that any Buddhist worth anything is an odd Buddhist. That, he certainly was.
I'm pretty sure that Ishmael Reed is my favorite living novelist from the United States. I won't dwell on whatever controversy Reed has engendered, above all accusations of misogyny or a tendency to characterize groups without nuance. I read novels because I get something meaningful out of the process. Gogol was an anti-semite, but Dead Souls is required reading, for example. As far as whatever controversy goes, Reed has been assailed and defended himself, and that's between other people I won't even bother looking up to find links to.
I've been blogging the Smithsonian Folkways Anthology of American Folk Music recently, tune by tune, on my music blog. This is the second installment, and, thematically, it fits with the issues at hand in the White Privilege Working Group. As it looks like that group could use a blog posted its way, I send this off.
Nothing is more American than displaced anger manifesting as gratuitous fear. This is all the more true if the displaced anger comes as a European ancestral inheritance adapted to new circumstances. To win the trifecta, you toss in straight-up misogyny.
In Nelstone's Hawaiian's "Fatal Flower Garden," without doubt one of the best titles you'll come across, we get the Blood Libel, with a gypsy--this choice is really interesting--replacing the Jew. The tune:
I subscribed to the Monthly Review for years and only let my subscription lapse this past year because I allowed myself to become overwhelmed with other things in my life, much to the detriment of my happiness. It was there that I first read Foster's work, and I will say that I was initially not a huge fan, relative to other regular MR contributors, above all Samir Amin. I considered myself a good, old-fashioned revisionist, anti-Soviet Marxist, and felt that the environmentalist theme running through his--Foster's--work was the sort of forced connection academics often make in order to be able to present the same paper at two different conferences.
In any event, the fact that I picked up his book at the library and read it indicates that my first impressions or impulses were wrong, and that, over time, I came around to see on the one hand that his approach was valid, even spot on, and also organically Marxist. Not that one needs to conform to this or that label to be right, but as I've found more value in Marx's analysis of modernity than in any other, I'm interested in the genuine extension of his thought.