Category: academia

Notes on Graeber

Public demonstrations still seem to have an effect in nations where civil society is restricted or non-existent (see the “Arab Spring”) and in France (in the form of the general strike), but this political style is pretty much exhausted in the USA, almost to the point of becoming a cliché. The declining significance of street protests is made worse when organizers promise more than they can deliver, in this case occupying Wall Street. Until what happens? The closing of the DJIA? What Graeber purports to be one of the signs of the fall of the American empire, the tribal drumbeats echoing through the canyons of lower Manhattan, is nothing more than a local spectacle; meanwhile, for criminal banksters and feral traders (like the USB thug Kweku Adoboli) it’s back to business as usual. 

The anarchist vision apparent in this commentary (“This is why protesters are often hesitant even to issue formal demands, since that might imply recognising the legitimacy of the politicians against whom they are ranged”) is no substitute for a real political theory of how the widespread change its author envisions might be actualized. Hardt and Negri suffice for the sound bite imagination of the well-meaning demonstrators; the rest of us can still hope for something more profound.

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The decision to have a headless movement facilitated the surveillance and infiltration of Occupy. There was no learning from the 1960s, just a dash of Hardt and Negri, and a splash of Graeber.

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Mr Piketty is a significant improvement over recent heroes of the bookish left, eclipsing the likes of Negri, Hardt, and Graeber.

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Mr Graeber makes a self-evident point that has been noticed for quite a long time. The visible hand of regulation is what put “crisis theory” out of business.

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That’s the problem with well-meaning but inexplicably naive (from a historical standpoint) anarchists such as Mr Graeber. They fail to see that bureaucracies (complex organizations) “unburden” individuals from many tasks. The real problem is the over-complex functioning of organizations, which are further from the control of individuals, not the existence of complex organizations themselves.

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Railing against the storm only gets one rain soaked, which exposes one to death by consumption or possibly electrocution. Unfortunately for Mr Graeber, the likelihood that the Kula Ring and a potlatch economy will return is less than 1%. This is modernity.

One bullshit job left unconsidered is that of the anarcho-libertarian writer, whom the 99% abandoned once it realized such a writer is no substitute for a real political theorist and a real theory of how widespread change might be actualized.

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The end of capitalism was just around the corner. In 1848. The final crisis of capitalism never quite happened. Hence, there arose in its place the “crisis of crisis theory” (Claus Offe). Anyone remember the falling rate of profit? 

Capital is always innovativing, which Marx recognized. Methods are revolutionised constantly; whatever does not work, is abandoned. What Marx failed to recognize was the role that the state would play in extending the shelf life of capitalism well beyond Marx’s worst fears. The state is not merely the “executive committee” of the capitalist class in its struggle against the working class; it is also an engine of capitalist expansion. Most importantly, the state keeps the invisible hand quite visible to investors.

The term “post capitalism” is a fudge on the fact that it’s still capitalism (or “late capitalism” as per Adorno). Mr Graeber is, at best, a theorist of the “last crisis,” not the “final crisis,” which never arrives anyway. So don’t waste time enrolling in Potlatch Economics 101.

Allegretto leggiermente

Everyone is watching the debate to see if Tulsi Gabbard speaks in Russian.

Harold Bloom no longer matters. He lost the war over “the canon.”

Jeet Heer managed to complete and tweet his senior thesis on Bloom, The Joker, Scorsese, and castration anxiety.

Even Michael Corleone testified in open Senate session.

Man up, Don Giuliani.

According to Jacobin magazine, Trump’s noble savages are not really responsible for Trumpism, only the super elite. And Obama.

Their “progressive views” on the economy apparently include racist views about racial/ethnic minorities and foreigners.

Compared to the Trump Crime Family’s business dealings at home and abroad, Hunter Biden is a paragon of virtuous entrepreneurial behavior.

The chav Eggsy is the prototype for Trump’s MAGAts.

Many parole violations would have occurred had Trump maintained accurate White House visitor logs.

Colleges are not job training centers.

Your savior

It’s telling that Trump has to hold his Rolling Nuremberg Rallies in deep red states which he should have no problem holding.

The Biden-Ukraine conspiracy theory came from Ken Vogel and friends at the NY Times.

33 years ago Rudy was as mob connected as he is today.

I don’t want Manafort or Flynn to have the right to vote.

Militant secularism (as per William Barr), also known as Enlightenment and cultural progress.

An evangelical christian is born every minute. – P T Barnum.

The biggest flaw in mainstream economics is the model of rational action, which, ironically, is shared by Marxist economics.

Today’s progressives are, unfortunately, populists.

Ryan Lizza is the new Mark Halperin.

Rick Perry is proof that eyeglasses don’t make one smarter.

Telos

On a serious note, Leninists historically tend to be anti-sex, anti-pleasure.

The Impeachniki are funny in their growing hysteria. Pelosi is smarter than all of them.

If NY State has its way, Trump’s money will only be safe in the Iranian national bank.

US and Iran are panto enemies. The “GREAT SATAN” versus the “TERRORIST STATE”. Each side benefits from the existence of the other. They deserve each other.

Trump means treason in Ukrainian.

“Neoliberal” captures all the Evil in the world: racism, sexism, fascism, heterosexism, classism, etc. It’s the Swiss army knife of woke critique.

In reality, it is really, really, super-late capitalism.

In a few billion years, when the sun expands during its own death throes, the Earth will be a burnt rock and, eventually, it will be consumed by the sun.

The morning sad

A nice Watergate-style break-in at the IRS might work.

Mother Pence only tithes to God.

What’s with the circuses (Zizek and the alt-right Canuck, Gay and Hoff Sommers)? Just because Twain did it doesn’t make it right.

How much dosh did Zizek make for his performance art sketch?

Bernie is an establishment candidate now (Warren is the insurgent) and Warren has a gender disadvantage.

Warren offers specifics and feasible solutions. Bernie offers utopian critique and egotism.

“Easter worshippers” apparently prefer to be called “Easter fetishists.”

Rudy Giuliani’s incredibly disappearing neck is a thing of wonder.

If Satan had a daughter, she would be Sarah Sanders.

Ballad of lemons

Trump’s former associates should fear Putin’s ire more. Trump retaliates with childish nicknames; Putin uses chemical weapons.

The White House released a picture of a Putin puppet and opioid addict playing golf.

One can’t be a Republican politician without also being a hypocrite. What this lot have added to their list of official positions is “Russian agent.”

Sarah Sanders’ soul is predestined for the hot place for lying like the Devil.

Journalists are not astute thinkers.

They’re limited by very short term thinking (tomorrow’s front page, tomorrow’s A block) and an obsession for the “scoop” as opposed to the truth. Big news events like Russia-Trump collusion are simply beyond their pay grade.

In 50 years, no one will know who Brian Leiter was.

Love in a void

External governmental interference with free intellectual inquiry must be quashed, not accommodated.

MAGAstates are states of hate.

One has to decide which dictator one will back: Maduro or Trump.

Must be deflating for Robert Kraft to have to apologize again. He’s truly sorry he got caught, like all perps.

NY Mets are a failed franchise. Even the penny pinching Rays locked up their ace.

This empirically thin argument makes me miss David Carr.