Occupy Wall Street holds national attention. The Left is at its most visible in decades. Thousands march in New York. There’s a general strike in Oakland. The New York Review of Books publishes a reasonable young liberal with a lust for properly punctuated policy memos.
They don’t realize we are in the last throes of the era of Ezra Klein.
[...] like the progressive labor bureaucrats, today’s generation of young radicals have spent all of their formative years living in the era of capitalist realism — the era of There is No Alternative. And it’s perhaps for this reason that each tenet of the union bureaucrat philosophy that Burns recounts finds its distorted mirror-image in the views of the young anti-union radicals.
Working Time and Feminism
The alternative is to change our view of what kind of work is socially valuable and to recognize that what happens outside of wage labor — work that sustains and reproduces all of us — should be held in equal esteem.
Planet of Fields
Davis seems to consider cities a kind of black box into which one can dump the human population and worry later. Cities come in all shapes and sizes, but if there is one rule, the bigger they are, the larger their populations, and so the more resources they require. Cities are basically black holes, drawing in massive amounts of energy and matter, and then excreting it as degraded waste back into the biosphere.
If economics is more monolithic than most social sciences, it is less so than it seems from the outside. Radicals should think of it as terrain, not the enemy itself. Many of its strategic points favor the enemy, but parts of it are open for contest. Occupying economics is about widening and shoring up the space in which radicals can survive, so as to develop analysis aimed at social movements. It is not about politicizing economics, because economics has always been politicized.
Capitalism will end. Maybe not soon, but probably before too long; humanity has never before managed to craft an eternal social system, after all, and capitalism is a notably more precarious and volatile order than most of those that preceded it. The question, then, is what will come next. Rosa Luxemburg, reacting to the beginning of World War I, cited Engels: “Bourgeois society stands at the crossroads, either transition to socialism or regression into barbarism.” In that spirit I offer a thought experiment, an attempt to make sense of our possible futures. These are a few of the socialisms we may reach if a resurgent Left is successful, and the barbarisms we may be consigned to if we fail.
Everything is fun with a Mac — even schoolwork, even labor. In this future, we are all members of the spiritually fulfilled creative class and there are no losers. But it’s hard to squeeze the kind of labor performed at FoxConn into the same frame. The suffering factory workers just don’t fit Apple’s narrative of liberated labor in a frictionless world.
Ekaru was killed by forces yet larger; forces transcending the specifics of this regional drought, this raid, this geography and the Nilotic cattle cultures. To my mind, while walking through the desert among the Turkana warriors scanning the Karasuk hills for the Pokot war party, it seemed clear that Ekaru’s death was caused by the most colossal set of events in human history: the catastrophic convergence of poverty, violence, and climate change.
Europe’s Greek Moment
To save the euro we need to implement policies that will make it economically impossible for Germany to exit the Eurozone. Even though Germany does not wish to exit presently, it knows that its “option to exit” guarantees it the exorbitant privilege of enormous hegemonic power within the zone.
Special Topic: Education and Neoliberalism
The religion of self-improvement is a way of redirecting criticisms or outrage from socio-economic structures back to the individual, imprisoning any reformist or revolutionary impulse within our own feelings of inadequacy – which is why the process of improving our nation’s schools has taken on the tone of a spiritual cleansing rather than a political reckoning. Now, instead of saying “our socioeconomic system is failing us,” an entire generation of children will learn to say, “I have failed myself.”
Teach for America, suitably representative of the liberal education reform more generally, underwrites, intentionally or not, the conservative assumptions of the education reform movement: that teacher’s unions serve as barriers to quality education; that testing is the best way to assess quality education; that educating poor children is best done by institutionalizing them; that meritocracy is an end-in-itself; that social class is an unimportant variable in education reform; that education policy is best made by evading politics proper; and that faith in public school teachers is misplaced.
Liberalism’s Exclusions and Expansions
(on Domenico Losurdo’s Liberalism: A Counter-History)
Losurdo’s book is, no doubt intentionally, a reading of liberalism from the perspective of those it marginalized or worse, but he often seems afraid of allowing “radicalism” and “liberalism” to bleed into one another. Both Hayek and Von Mises, for instance, make cameos in Losurdo’s scant comments on the twentieth century after the First World War, denouncing liberal concessions to socialism; Keynes and Rawls, on the other hand, receive not a single mention.
Facts alone do not make narratives, and without the right story, Dade or Milo would have ended up indefinitely detained like Bradley. But our silver-screen hackers didn’t let anyone else put the pieces together; at the conclusions of both films, they take forcible control of the nation’s screens and out the powerful and corrupt point by point. This is not an ideologically neutral act. Nor is it – like the DDOS attack – democratic. What right do they have to change my channel?
My eagerness to dismiss the protests as so much ego and vanity speaks to a deep and pervasive cynicism about the political sincerity of the Left, and particularly middle-class leftists, who some would say have no legitimate reason to be complaining. The view that leftist protest is fundamentally inauthentic is a legacy of the youth movements of the 1960s, which were recast and denigrated as hippie hedonism.
Crack down on raves, but let people listen to DJs in places where there are dress codes, the bathrooms are monitored and the drink costs are in the double digits. Annihilate wildstyle graffiti from trains, but let a few art speculators round out their painting collections with works by a handful of artists. Push go-go off H Street so gimmicky bars and indistinguishable indie bands can soak up some of the strip’s remaining gritty authenticity. Hanging on — occupying — in the face of this is its own political statement.
We’ve had no problem amassing subscribers over the past year, but we haven’t had the same luck wooing donors. So now, Jacobin, a magazine with annual printing costs in excess of $25,000 a year, is asking its readers to help cover a $2,000 shortfall. Gifts and prizes will be offered to donors. Don’t make us go begging to George Soros.