What are you reading?

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blindpig
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by blindpig » Sat Jun 08, 2019 11:17 am

kidoftheblackhole wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 7:35 am
blindpig wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 6:25 pm
Naw, got it on order. If it is worth a damn I plan on giving it to a high school kid who has expressed interest in politics.
From what I've read it is less explicitly Marxist than Haiphong's BAR articles. But I see what they're trying to do.
Ruthless criticism is what I expect, and done coherently so as to 'set the table', so to speak. A good angle for youth too.
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

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Re: What are you reading?

Post by blindpig » Mon Jul 08, 2019 1:46 pm

blindpig wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 11:17 am
kidoftheblackhole wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 7:35 am
blindpig wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 6:25 pm
Naw, got it on order. If it is worth a damn I plan on giving it to a high school kid who has expressed interest in politics.
From what I've read it is less explicitly Marxist than Haiphong's BAR articles. But I see what they're trying to do.
Ruthless criticism is what I expect, and done coherently so as to 'set the table', so to speak. A good angle for youth too.
Much less explicitly Marxist.Not that I necessarily wanted it to be heavily Marxist, but it could have been a lot more materialist.Not exactly a page-turner for a person familiar with the factual material but it weren't for me as the authors state that the target audience is the anti-war movement. Where's that? Under the Dem's 'big tent, proly. And I'd expect this target audience to be familiar with Zinn, who covers a lot of the same territory.

The title itself is a bit of a mouthful. Is "and Innocence" necessary? It is part of the exceptionalism, yes? Include it in an opening definition, 'freshen' it occasionally & move on. Having that phrase on damn near every page got old. While I understand that repetition is a component of education it also get tedious if overused.

So, ya read this book, ya know it when ya see it, then what? Good for self-criticism, I'll give it that. But will it fire up the uninitiated? Christ I dunno, too much weirdness on the net, too much exceptionalism irl. For the person saturated in exceptionalism(most of us) it will create anger, resentment. But fuck them, right? They was never gonna listen anyway. Honestly I don't know any that this book might positively influence, but I'm a semi-hermit these days. But I'm gonna give my copy to that teen on condition of a response just to see what happens.

So what ya gonna do about this exceptionalism ? It is after all an effect, not a cause, of capitalism. It can only be dealt with after the capitalism which succors it is defeated. Then that's a job for the dictatorship of the proletariat to eradicate. Recognizing Exceptionalism is good to have in our 'analysis toolbox' but is not the hammer we need to smash the capitalists & we already got that, just ain't using it.
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

solidgold
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by solidgold » Wed Nov 20, 2019 11:26 pm

This doesn’t count as reading, I guess. I didn’t feel like wasting a whole thread for it. Has anyone listened to any part of David Harvey’s seminar on Capital? Tbh I don’t really know much about this guy, but it’s pretty fucking long.

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Re: What are you reading?

Post by blindpig » Thu Nov 21, 2019 12:15 am

solidgold wrote:
Wed Nov 20, 2019 11:26 pm
This doesn’t count as reading, I guess. I didn’t feel like wasting a whole thread for it. Has anyone listened to any part of David Harvey’s seminar on Capital? Tbh I don’t really know much about this guy, but it’s pretty fucking long.
We discussed him some years back and had considered him marginally useful for beginners but when ya get right down to it he's just another social democrat academic who will degrade & misdirect with his petty bourgeois 'take'. Or mebbe he's a Trot, fuck, can't hardly tell the difference anyway.
Wouldn't waste my time.

Pity we ain't got the archives back yet, some of the work Anax did on the 'line by line' readings was very good, capable of even getting thru to my dim ass.
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

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Re: What are you reading?

Post by solidgold » Thu Nov 21, 2019 12:39 am

blindpig wrote:
Thu Nov 21, 2019 12:15 am
[quote=solidgold post_id=3337 time=<a href="tel:1574292393">1574292393</a> user_id=58]
This doesn’t count as reading, I guess. I didn’t feel like wasting a whole thread for it. Has anyone listened to any part of David Harvey’s seminar on Capital? Tbh I don’t really know much about this guy, but it’s pretty fucking long.
We discussed him some years back and had considered him marginally useful for beginners but when ya get right down to it he's just another social democrat academic who will degrade & misdirect with his petty bourgeois 'take'. Or mebbe he's a Trot, fuck, can't hardly tell the difference anyway.
Wouldn't waste my time.

Pity we ain't got the archives back yet, some of the work Anax did on the 'line by line' readings was very good, capable of even getting thru to my dim ass.
[/quote]

That’s actually why I asked how the old Bell was a few months ago. Been looking to delve into Capital for a while now.

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Re: What are you reading?

Post by kidoftheblackhole » Wed Nov 27, 2019 1:54 pm

solidgold wrote:
Thu Nov 21, 2019 12:39 am
blindpig wrote:
Thu Nov 21, 2019 12:15 am
[quote=solidgold post_id=3337 time=<a href="tel:1574292393">1574292393</a> user_id=58]
This doesn’t count as reading, I guess. I didn’t feel like wasting a whole thread for it. Has anyone listened to any part of David Harvey’s seminar on Capital? Tbh I don’t really know much about this guy, but it’s pretty fucking long.
We discussed him some years back and had considered him marginally useful for beginners but when ya get right down to it he's just another social democrat academic who will degrade & misdirect with his petty bourgeois 'take'. Or mebbe he's a Trot, fuck, can't hardly tell the difference anyway.
Wouldn't waste my time.

Pity we ain't got the archives back yet, some of the work Anax did on the 'line by line' readings was very good, capable of even getting thru to my dim ass.
That’s actually why I asked how the old Bell was a few months ago. Been looking to delve into Capital for a while now.
[/quote]

I listened to some of Harvey's lectures. I particularly remember a laugh early on when he says to his students "Now, Marx was greatly influenced by Hegel. Who here knows anything about Hegel? Me neither. Moving on.."

Harvey is the type who is likely to be cited by the campus Marxist group -- primarily for the trite platitude that the capitalist's goal is to make their 2-3% profit per annum and then they are happy (it sounds so anodyne). That would be the same campus group that primarily holds meetings when they are organizing a speaking engagement for John Bellamy Foster.

Not to run the Monthly Review school too far through the mud, but as Anax liked to say -- you can tell the real deal the second you see/hear it.

Anyway, I think Harvey is a scholar who came to Marx via the need to plug some holes that academia is not capable of filling. Take him as such and you should be fine.

I might say the same of Foster.))

I have started reading collected works of Gogol but the fix ain't taking. Five years of Nazism in Ukraine has left a very bad taste in my mouth. These people seem hardly different, the Nazis a regression. I should take a more 'historical perspective but am too close I think.'

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Re: What are you reading?

Post by blindpig » Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:05 pm

blindpig wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 11:17 am
kidoftheblackhole wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 7:35 am
blindpig wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 6:25 pm
Naw, got it on order. If it is worth a damn I plan on giving it to a high school kid who has expressed interest in politics.
From what I've read it is less explicitly Marxist than Haiphong's BAR articles. But I see what they're trying to do.
Ruthless criticism is what I expect, and done coherently so as to 'set the table', so to speak. A good angle for youth too.
Well, a waste of time & money, the kid doesn't read books, he sez. wtf.
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

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blindpig
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by blindpig » Thu Mar 12, 2020 5:49 pm

Left" science fiction writer
03/11/2020

On the anniversary of Yana Yulievna Zavatskaya

Image
On March 11, 2020, the outstanding Russian science fiction writer Yana Yulievna Zavatskaya will celebrate her anniversary .

Zavatskaya was born and raised in the large Ural industrial city of Chelyabinsk. Since 1994, she lives in Germany in the city of Arnsberg, works in a nursing home, takes care of elderly people and people with disabilities. And writes books.

Yana Yulievna ZavatskayaIn 2011, Yana Zavatskaya joined the Communist Initiative organization , and then the German Communist Party . Here is what she wrote in her live journal about the German Communists:

Among the Communists, you feel completely yours. You don’t have any problems at all - rather, if problems arise, then due to the fact that most of us are young men, I’m old Crow. Among the Communists, there are no “blacks, whites, and people of color,” no “migrants with a special culture,” no Hellenes, no Jews. We are all ours, all comrades. It’s really good with them. Even communication, communication is easy, they listen carefully to you, they show interest in you. I made real friends who are ready, even hundreds of kilometers away, to rush to help if necessary. With which we can talk about the main thing.

This is not to say that there are no problems, including interpersonal ones. We are all products of the same society. But what is completely absent is the contemptuous rejection, that coldness that I knew so much before.

Membership in the Communist Party does not prevent Yana Yulievna from being a Catholic believer. She came to Catholicism in adulthood after a period of stormy, but short-term stay in the sect of fans of the notorious Anastasia ( Yana Yulievna told about this stage of her life in the novel "The Black Book or The Adventures of the Prodigal Occultist" ). However, Zavatskaya has a positive attitude to Orthodoxy.

And here is what Yana Zavatskaya writes about Germany:

I know the history of Germany, and it is beautiful and heroic, it deserves to enter as a particle in the history of the Bright Future, which, I am sure, will come.

I love this country. I know and understand her to the last stone. I know her people. I do not like them all - but I know the potential inherent in them, I know what they will become - and I love them.

There were, are and always will be those who are ready to really give their lives for other people, for the people. In the fight against oppression and capital.
It is a beautiful and great country.

One of the most interesting and suggestive works of Yana Zavatskaya is the novel Likey .

The near future. Humanity, overcoming class differences, has stratified into two social groups: the elite and ordinary people. And the novel discusses the consequences of such a separation.

The word "elite" evokes negative emotions in the left reader. This word is used to call a minority enjoying privileges, mostly undeserved. Or not quite deserved. But the elite described in Zavatskaya’s novel is free from this vice. And generally almost perfect. Its purpose is not privileges, but Service to Humanity. To achieve this goal, representatives of the elite receive excellent education in closed educational institutions (hence the name of the novel “Likey”), excellent physical, psychological and professional training, learn to find a way out of the most seemingly hopeless situations. Having received an excellent education, the representatives of the elite honestly, disinterestedly and even selflessly work in various fields. All this, of course, deserves respect.

But, as the author of the novel shrewdly shows, the existing social system has its own reverse side. It turns ordinary people into a passive object of concern from the elite. And the elite subconsciously forms an attitude towards ordinary people, as to second-class beings. A kind of pet. Of course, they should be treated humanely, but to consider them like yourself is simply pointless.

The heroes of the novel, pilot Alexei and geneticist Jane, are disappointed in the current system of relations. They leave the elite formed by Likey and choose the life of ordinary people.

The idea underlying Likey is not new to Russian literature. Back in 1961, similar problems were discussed in the novel by Vladimir Fedorovich Tendryakov (1921 - 1984), "Journey of a Century Length" . True, Tendryakov talked about the problems of a small number of "extra people" that do not fit into society, and Yana Zavatskaya - about the problems of the main part of the population, which turned into a passive object of good deeds of the elite. And about the problems of the elite itself, which is losing the ability to empathize with ordinary people.

It is possible that humanity will seriously face the problems that Tendryakov and Zavatskaya wrote about in a future communist society. Somehow these problems will have to be solved. How exactly is not yet clear.

For those who wish to rebuild the world of left-wing figures, the Likey novel is instructive in that it keeps them from the temptation to manipulate reality at their own discretion without relying on the broad masses and without their active participation. A progressive minority that has come to power and does not have strong support among the people either quickly overthrows or degenerates into a rigid and cruel dictatorship. Relevant historical examples are well known. Left-wing supermanhood does not lead to anything good.

Image

The novel "Likey" was welcomed by the figures of the Russian Orthodox Church. However, in their interpretation the main idea looked different. The main disadvantage of the elite described in Likey was its godlessness. Now, if Likey was built on the ideology of Orthodoxy, everything would be completely different.

This, of course, is not so. Moreover, the history of Christianity tells about the gradual transformation of the church into a kind of “Likey”, standing above the people and seeking to manipulate them. This is described, in particular, by The Legend of the Grand Inquisitor , composed by Fedor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky (1821 - 1881). At the same time, church hierarchs were far from always as disinterested as the Likeya warriors described by Yana Zavatskaya .

In 2007, Yana Zavatskaya presented the readership with the continuation of Likey - the novel Likey. New times . " This sequel talks about how violent good deeds from the elite generate protest, in the most acute forms taking the form of terrorism. Terrorists hijack a plane in which Jane flies with her daughter. Jane is seriously injured, but doctors save her. And Aleksey flies away on a plane somewhere high, high. And does not return ...

Truly deep social changes begin when a conscious life and activity becomes the occupation of not only the elite, but also ordinary people. About how this happens, tells the novel by Yana Zavatskaya "Reboot" .

The novel takes place in the not too distant future. After the devastating war in Russia, anarchy ensued. A population living on the brink of survival is being terrorized by gangs. And in this situation, people appear trying to organize a desperate population and establish a normal life. Among them are former military raven and communist Oriole. In the center of the novel is the fate of ordinary worker Masha Kuznetsova. At the beginning of the novel, the limited and ordinary Masha is only concerned about her own survival; at the end of the novel, she becomes a conscious fighter for a Better Future.

Image

"Reboot" is also not original. I immediately recall the novel “The Postman” written by the American physicist and writer Glen David Brin (born 1952). This story describes the events taking place in the United States after the world nuclear war and the nuclear winter that it caused.

At one time, funny writers Ilya Arnoldovich Ilf (1897 - 1937) and Evgeny Petrovich Petrov (1902 - 1942) portrayed the hack writer Nikifor Trubetskoy-Lapis, who wrote a poem about the heroic postman. It looked very funny, because, as you know, the postmen are peaceful people and usually do not perform feats.

However, physicist Glenn David Brin was able to show how fruitful was the idea that inspired Trubetskoy-Lapis.

However, his hero is not a postman, but an ordinary tramp and an impostor. Although he graduated from college in the distant pre-war past. On a cold night, he met with three of the same poor fellow and as a result parted with his main treasure - a warm coat. Now only a miracle could save him. And this miracle happens: the hero finds a car that was wrecked many years ago, and in it is the skeleton of a postman in a warm uniform coat. The hero takes a coat for himself and becomes an impostor, posing as a Postman, who is in the public service.

If there is a postman, then there is mail, and if there is mail, then there is a state that seeks to establish a normal life. And the duty of honest citizens is to do everything possible to help him in this. The impostor in postal form becomes the center of self-organization of the population, the national leader and Savior of the Fatherland. Like Joan of Arc (1412 - 1431) or Kuzma Minin (1570 - 1616). In the final of the novel, the future of the United States of America is no longer a concern.

In the US, they are very respected by loners fighting superior forces of enemies. But the hero of Brin’s novel is not a lone hero. His strength is the strength of the People who have risen to fight. Therefore, we have the right to consider the novel of the American physicist and writer an outstanding work of socialist realism. Appearing not somewhere, but in the very center of world capitalism.

The Russian analogue of The Postman can be considered the 11th part of the novel Plutishkina Tale , written by engineer Ozerov .

And even earlier there was a book by Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Fadeev (1901 - 1956) “Young Guard” , which described how teenagers from a mining town self-organized to fight the invaders. And it was concluded that it was the self-organization of the people, largely spontaneous, that broke the ridge of the fascist German Ordnung. Unfortunately, in the second edition of the novel, this idea was oiled. (It should be noted that self-organizing Komsomol members did not fall from the sky; this is a product of the Soviet, socialist social system - Ed. )

This tradition continues and "Reboot". Yana Zavatskaya shows the psychology of ordinary people, transforming from preoccupied only with their own survival of the townsfolk into citizens and fighters for a better future.

Image

Yana Yulievna wrote many works. Their action, for the most part, takes place on the distant planets of the vast Universe. But alien novels are not as interesting as novels about our Earth.

In her works, Zavatskaya continues the best traditions of socialist realism.

In a liberal environment, socialist realism is negatively viewed. There are reasons for this. Many works of socialist realism, which appeared in the Soviet Union and other countries of the socialist camp, very freely treated reality, often posing as wishful thinking. And smooth out the contradictions of real life.

Nevertheless, socialist realism is a fruitful trend in Russian and world culture.

Realism is different. In a first approximation, we can distinguish three of its main forms: naturalism, critical realism, socialist realism.

Naturalism is limited to a description of reality, often very unsightly. He is not trying to understand and analyze it. Ultimately, this position leads to reconciliation with the outrages that exist in society, which are usually explained by the perverse nature of man. In essence, naturalism gives these outrages the status of a norm.

Critical realism is trying to reveal the social roots of the ugly phenomena of reality. He explains the outrages not by the depravity of human nature, but by the prevailing social relations. In the works of critical realism, Evil almost always defeats Good. And without much work. First of all, because Evil is active, and Good is passive.

“There are more good people than evil ones, but evil people are better organized ,” said the senior hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Pitirim (1926-2003). And he is right in his own way.

Socialist realism seeks to portray the forces that come to grips with evil. Victory in this struggle is by no means guaranteed: in many cases, the struggle ends in defeat. But, nevertheless, the struggle between Good and Evil is ongoing. In the works of socialist realism, the Good is actively and, very importantly, not ideal heroes, but the most ordinary people who change and grow during the struggle, stand on his side. Therefore, unlike naturalism, socialist realism is optimistic about Man. Socialist realism (at its best) does not idealize people, but sees their potential.

The works of Yana Zavatskaya can be read on the Internet. Some of her works were published in the almanac of communist science fiction "Raging Tramp . " For example, the story "Bright Future" , about how the new Russian ended up in a communist society. However, the idea of this story is also not original: we recall the "Bedbug" by Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky (1893 - 1930). True, the hero of the "Bright Future" is not as hopeless as the citizen Prisypkin, and the journey made him think a lot.

Among the works of Yana Yulievna , several journalistic articles about the social and economic situation of women in the modern world should be mentioned. Among them is the article “A Woman and Her Work: A Marxist Approach” . This article says that women do 65% of the world's work, get 10% of their income, and have 1% of their property. What should be considered uniform disgrace.

On the day of the anniversary I would like to congratulate Yana Yulievna and wish her good health, happiness and new creative success to the joy of the “left” reader.

S.V. Bagotsky

https://www.rotfront.su/levyj-pisatel-fantast/

Google Translator
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

solidgold
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by solidgold » Sat Mar 14, 2020 10:12 pm

So, I'm not working (don't worry, I'm a lucky one) and my last semester of undergrad is basically cancelled. Gonna have a lot of free time. Any good recommendations?

P.S. Hope all is well on everyone's end.

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kidoftheblackhole
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by kidoftheblackhole » Sat Mar 14, 2020 11:38 pm

solidgold wrote:
Sat Mar 14, 2020 10:12 pm
So, I'm not working (don't worry, I'm a lucky one) and my last semester of undergrad is basically cancelled. Gonna have a lot of free time. Any good recommendations?

P.S. Hope all is well on everyone's end.
I've been reading a bunch of papers on arxiv. That lead me to a book called the The Dragon and The Eagle by Sunny Auyang. She is a physicist but the book is about the parallel Roman Empire (27 BCE - 476 CE) and Han Dynasty (206 BCE - 220 CE). I also recently downloaded The Politics of Terrorism by Donald Monaco which is keen to emphasize the equivalence of "terrorism" and "counterterrorism" (as the latter is defined by the US). Oh and I was recommended a book of military fiction called Kirov where a modern Russian battlecruiser is transported back into 1941 and becomes involved in WWII. Haven't got very far on that one.

I've also been going through Lenin's State and Revolution and Marx's Theories of Surplus Value. The latter is because of an ongoing debate about whether or not intensifying capital increases surplus value.

There are two things to consider on that question:

1. If labor productivity rises (which is what intensifying capital actually means) then less of the working day is required to produce the workers' subsistence

2. On the other hand, once productivity is raised then the new higher level of production defines how much labor is socially necessary (eg if you speed up production from 500 widgets to 1000 widgets per hour, then 1000 widgets now constitutes 1 hour of value). The claim here is that you can only increase surplus value by reducing variable capital (cutting wages) or forcing workers to work faster. Introducing new technology does neither of those things.

PS Another book I dusted off a few days ago is Hell and Good Company by Richard Rhodes. It is an account of the Spanish Civil War as it was lived by journalists, artists, etc. It especially focuses on Picasso, Hemingway and a few others. A big emphasis is the new technologies that burst onto the scene on the eve of WWII. Worth reading IMO, captures the spirit of the Republicans in Spain -- for example it details an episode where they assemble a firing squad and shoot a statue of the virgin Mary.

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