Tag Archive: Anticapitalism

Oct 26 2014

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: 101 reasons to love academic ebola by Annieli

It’s an old book, but I was in my local thrift store yesterday and among the other RW books on sale for $1.99, I saw this one and was reminded that I ignored it when it came out but was also reminded that I had a college classmate who edits this line of conservative books, which always seemed odd for someone who had a BMW in college and lived on the upper east side of Manhattan. And having met a couple of the 101 if only as casually as PBO has met Bill Ayers, it continues to baffle me that the false consciousness of the US RW, cannot see education or Liberalism in its classic sense of the Trivium and Quadrivium, rather than reinforcing existing status and class warfare in the basic college curriculum and its prerequisites. The modern college/university is seen by the RW as Educational Ebola, where sharing the tropes of bodily fluids with liberal professors reifies the hypodermic needle model of (banking-style) education where liberal cooties stays with one without the inoculation of RW talk radio and its pastiche of higher education – for example its offering the scholarly heraldry of Photoshop…

The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America is a 2006 book by conservative American author and policy advocate David Horowitz….

Following the Ward Churchill September 11 attacks essay controversy, Horowitz argued that there were many “careers like Ward Churchill’s”. He wrote that “Not all of the professors depicted in this volume hold views as extreme as Ward Churchill’s, but a disturbing number do” and “it would have been no problem to provide a thousand such profiles or even ten times the number.”

The review in the industry news digest Publishers Weekly stated that Horowitz’s “intention to expose the majority of these professors as ‘dangerous’ and undeserving of their coveted positions seems petty in some cases, as when he smugly mocks the proliferation of departments dedicated to peace studies or considers ‘anti-war activist’ as a character flaw… the most egregious crimes perpetrated by the majority of these academics is that their politics don’t mesh with Horowitz’s.

Fortunately there are critiques of Horowitz’s work even as it has become a reactionary cottage industry and without indulging his biography truth does will out, although it is curious that Michael Savage and David Horowitz are never seen at the same time:

http://cdn.publicinterestnetwo…

Nonetheless, there is a spectre haunting Academe, and the reality is that a majority of US college faculty are actually more conservative or grudgingly centrist – in departments that are in the aggregate, predominantly white, male, and decidedly reactionary considering the trend toward more mechanical, menu-driven college degree requirements and attacks on core-curricula / general education requirements. Some of the evil 101 Horowitz cites are retired or passed on so the Pantheon in the eight years has declined since the book emerged yet still supports in spirit the stupidity of RW radio. More interesting is that the democratization of public education not unlike the democratization of suffrage threatens political discourse such that the Kochs through Koch Industries now sponsor a significant number of college sporting events (ESPN College Game Day and The Pac-12 Network) and television channels in their continuing effort to reprivatize it, just as Accuracy in Academia concurrently attacks MOOCs while promoting online efforts to leverage more false consciousness.

Welcome to Conservative University! CU is a project of Accuracy in Academia and will offer free online courses promoting conservative principles. The courses will primarily be geared towards college students, but are open to all lovers of liberty and free speech!

Each course will be taught by expert faculty, will offer continued education resources, class summaries, and an optional brief quiz to test your ascertained knowledge about the class topic.

Thank you for visiting! To see our first course trailer, click here. (“Sex, Lies & Women’s Studies”)

Ultimately, as Activity theory, going to college doesn’t even make one liberal,

Conservatives have been criticizing academia for many decades. Yet only once the McCarthy era passed did this criticism begin to be cast primarily in anti-elitist tones: charges of Communist subversion gave way to charges of liberal elitism in the writings of William F. Buckley Jr. and others. The idea that professors are snobs looking down their noses at ordinary Americans, trying to push the country in directions it does not wish to go, soon became an established conservative trope, taking its place alongside criticism of the liberal press and the liberal judiciary.

The main reason for this development is that attacking liberal professors as elitists serves a vital purpose. It helps position the conservative movement as a populist enterprise by identifying a predatory elite to which conservatism stands opposed – an otherwise difficult task for a movement strongly backed by holders of economic power.

Even if Galileo was a dangerous academic, one can use the global warming denialist movement as yet another example of the less-than-palpable effect of scholarly rationality on public policy in a world that still believes the planet to be only 6000 years old.

The FSFG supports organizations like Accuracy in Academia, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, the National Association of Scholars, the Madison Center for Educational Affairs (their “Collegiate Network” links over 70 student newspapers), the Institute for Educational Affairs and others. These organizations work to transform academia toward the right’s ideological agenda.

Oct 20 2013

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: What Is Capitalism? Part I by Le Gauchiste

There have appeared in this space several thought-provoking attempts to define capitalism, including here see and here see:. Although this might seem to some a mere academic exercise, nothing could be further from the truth: to be effective, activism to change, transform or overthrow any human construction must be rooted in a thorough and accurate understanding thereof.

This is especially important when discussing capitalism, both because its pervasive ubiquity creates a familiarity that masquerades as understanding and because the defenders of the system work tirelessly to spew lies about its virtues. Even more treacherous than the increasingly strained defenses of the system by modern conservatives are the ideological productions of modern liberals who claim a desire to reform capitalism or ameliorate those of its consequences they don’t like.

The key problem is that liberals and conservatives share the same basic understanding of capitalism, which is rooted in the neo-classical revolution in mainstream economics that occurred in the late 19th century. On this view, capitalism is a “natural” system arising from and based on market exchanges between buyers and sellers of commodities, which are assumed to maximize “efficiency” (defined in terms of allowing “supply” and “demand” to set market-clearing prices) and human happiness (defined as the total dollar value of market commodities bought and sold (GDP), regardless of what needs they meet or how they are distributed among the population).

Thus the neo-classical view (like the classical political economy of Adam Smith and David Ricardo that preceded it) is fundamentally ahistorical: capitalism is understood not as a historically specific constellation of economic relations, but rather as the result of encouraging the supposedly natural human tendency to engage in market transactions on a competitive basis with the goal of maximizing profit.

Even worse, the neo-classical assumption that the “market” is a naturally occurring phenomenon forces it to posit an Ideal Type Market-characterized by virtually unrestrained good-faith buying and selling backed up by rules to enforce the terms of transactions-against which historical social formations are measured by the degree to which they approximate the Ideal Type and can be called “capitalistic.” In this view there is of course no room for understanding how the historical economies of pre-capitalist social formations worked on their own terms, because those terms are assumed ab initio to represent flaws, deviations from the Ideal Type that maximizes happiness.

And therein lies the reason that neo-classical economics provides an unstable intellectual foundation for capitalist reformism that unavoidably undermines any case for change, because all such reforms involve straying from the Ideal Type Market. That is why, in televised “debates” about regulation between conservatives and liberals, when the former extol the virtues of the market and call for “non-interference,” the latter start off the same way (Obama does this all the time) and then suddenly pivot to an argument that some specific reform represents an exception to the free market rule. Conservatives thus always come off as more intellectually consistent while liberals seem (and in fact are) intellectually muddled and confused-even when “the facts” seem to stand in their favor.

We, however, are Anti-capitalists, and we need an understanding of capitalism that historicizes it as a system with a definite beginning and, therefore, a possible end.

Jun 10 2013

Anticapitalist Meet-Up: Can the human mind comprehend today’s world? A challenge to all…

ACM: Can the human mind comprehend today’s world? A challenge to all who engage in politics

by don mikulecky

This diary is being written by request.  The subject is all mine but I am doing this because I was asked.  I write this caveat because as time goes on my radical take on the world seems to diverge more and more with the rest of the commentators.  I am unable to focus on details and reductionist pieces any more.  I long ago came to the conclusion that these methods and the ideas they generated have failed.  If this is arrogant then I am arrogant.  I have studied for over half a century and these are the conclusions I have come to.  I have coauthored a book that sums up much of what I have learned and I’ll give a link if you want it.  The purpose of this diary is to give you a snapshot of the world model we have developed.  It is changing constantly so it needs periodic updates.  Read on below and I will give my answer to the question I ask in the title.

First of all the antithesis to the reductionist approach is that of systems analysis.  I will take a moment to remind you that when I use the word “system” it is in a very special context.  The reductionist counterpart has no meaning in this context.  The group is interested in the writing of Marx.   Marx wrote in a context that had little resemblance to the modern world.  Yet Marx had insights that outlive those limits.  The trick is to save the baby as we discard the bathwater.

Marx, for his time, was ahead of the field in understanding systems.  His ideas were founded on a sense of certain things happening without a mechanistic simple cause.  He wrote extensively to weave a more holistic view of what economics was as it connected with so many other things in human activity.  This was good and we need to go back with our modern understanding and put those ideas into today’s perspective.  This diary is not the place for that since it is at least a book.

Rather than do that I want to paint a picture (I am a painter…watercolor) of the world today as we might see it if our minds were able to take it all in. (The reductionist paradigm came about as a way of avoiding such an impossible task).  We are being forced to try to grapple with the whole system because we have more or less filled the planet and made the isolation of the past something that is disappearing as we watch in awe.

The earth system with its atmosphere and climate and oceans and ecosystems, etc has never been the subsystems our reductionist mentality created to deal with it, but as time goes on the error is being magnified non-linearly.  The role of the human species is a growing influence over time, anthropogenic global warming being but one aspect of this.  What Marx was concerned with was the role of the economic/political system in the way this one dominant species impacted on the world although he dealt with it as all humans did and most do, as if we can isolate our existence and our problems from the impact we have grown to have on the earth system.

Humans have generated conflicting world models within the common sphere of reductionist thought.  We have religions, reductionist science and other fragmented pieces of human “knowledge”.  We evolved from some beings that chimps have for example.  We like to think we are very different from them and we indeed are.  The scary part is the ways in which we remain similar.  Male female relations, political power, etc can be seen to have common features in both groups.

Part of the legacy of Cartesian reductionism is the mind/body duality and the way the living organism was metaphored as a special kind of machine.  These factors became integrated into the Capitalism Marx thought about and they shaped the way the relationship between wealth and labor were seen.  Power relations became formulated in terms that Marx described so well.  The problem is that these ideas were still in a reductionist box and remain there to this day.

So we have the fundamental challenge to face at this moment in history.  Is the human mind able to step outside of these long entrenched limits and confines and see us as a rouge species acting almost like a cancer on the planet?  Marx diagnosed the nature of this metastatic disease we had become.  He saw it in terms of the way the labors of humans that could be used in so many ways were channelled by the owners of the means of production into the creation of capital.

Here is where the systems idea is very enlightening.  The traditionional picture is that the greedy among us rise to power and control the rest of us and insist on a growing, unsustainable system to satisfy their greed.

Systems theory asks an important chicken and egg question at this point.  Is it the greedy humans that create the system or does the system simply find as many greedy humans as it needs to sustain itself and grow?  I submit that Robert Reich was correct in his book about “Supercapitalism” when he asserted that we could eliminate WalMart tomorrow and some other entity or entities would immediatly fill the vacuum and probaly evolve into something worse because of the ability to shed excess baggage.

Reductionism is wonderful for the human mind because it supplies answers.   Systems theory, recognizing the myriad complex interactions, can only describe things in general ways and can not supply false mechanistic explanations.

If this makes sense to you I apologize for bringing you to this point for you will not be able to go back.  Nor will you come up with answers the way you did before.  Nor will the political system seem like a useful tool for helping us.  No, those of us who have crossed the line are pessimistic.  The system grinds on.  It is like a cancer on the planet.  And as we look at our kids and grandkids we wonder.  And we hurt.