Showing posts with label inequality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label inequality. Show all posts

Sunday, July 8, 2018

A comment on the Raworth-Milanovic debate

A friendly critique of Kate Raworth's book Doughtnut Economics by Branko Milanovic on the Brave New Europe blog has locked the two in a heated debate. One point of contention, has the two in a war of art references, Giotto's "St. Francis" versus Rodin's "Gates of Hell." This rhetorical sticking point appears to be a debate over nature versus nurture. While Raworth appears to regard such a debate sufficient to prove her point, Milanovic appears to take a more structural view. However, in his rejoinder to Raworth's reply, Milanovic plays to Raworth's critique on the question of human nature rather than reasserting his own.

Monday, June 11, 2018

PE of Fash Week VI: Fake News and Mutual Aid (Reading List)

This last class in the political economy of fascism minicourse is meant to emulate the periodic "debriefs" I have programmed into the full-semester version of the course. I believe it is extremely important that, after rendering the coherence of fascism on its own terms, one take the time to debunk its central claims. Although I do this throughout the course during the lecture/discussion, designating an entire week's readings to such an exercise is, in my view, crucial in distinguishing this course from one of simple fascist indoctrination.

As I repeatedly say, fascism is disturbingly compelling. When one takes the time to piece it together into its coherent esoteric ideology, one is engaged in the exact game that draws people into fascism -- a game driven by curiosity and the self-satisfaction of figuring it out. In addition, fascism does point out valid contradictions about the way society operates (largely borrowing from leftist rhetoric). These critiques are then used to leverage a political race to the bottom, justifying underhandedness on the basis of a perceived supernatural enemy's underhandedness.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

PE of Fash Week III: Eugenics and the Alt-Right (Reading List)

This class is intended to address what I consider to be the closest historical precedent to the alt-right: the eugenics movement. I say this not only by manner of ideological comparison, nor only manner of social insertion. I say this because the core organizations the bred the original alt-right - VDare, New Century Foundation (American Renaissance), and the National Policy Institute - are part of a non-profit financial network that has preserved eugenics since its decline following the discovery of DNA and the sequencing of the human genome.

The "required" readings cover the history and present of the eugenics movement. The Belkhir & Duyme piece explores the core assertions and fallacies of the eugenics movement both in its historical manifestation, but also in the present day. The Smedley & Smedley piece adds color to the Belkhir & Duyme piece, going beyond the mere refutation of biological, especially genetic, origins of social identity and aptitude constructs to give an accounting of the historical and social origins of these constructs using race as its case study.

The piece by Baker is presented as a means of focusing on how eugenics functioned logistically to popularize their approach. Baker's piece, which highlights the attempts by the organized eugenics movement to appeal to Christianity, is especially illustrative given that the movement ultimately wasn't able to get enthusiastic support on the basis of tying eugenic beliefs to Christianity. However, in the process the movement underwent numerous, ultimately cosmetic changes, hiding and repackaging core principles to appeal to an audience averse to themes of biological evolution, birth control, and selective breeding.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Liberalism Is Probably Impossible Reader

Since the Democratic Party and its enabling non-profits have recently staked their hopes on an electoral process that they have insisted for over a year was compromised by foreign actors, I have been thinking about the consistent failure of electoral strategy in light of fascist upsurge. What history demonstrates time and again, from the Pact of Pacification to the Sermon on the Mount, is that a brutal government cannot be thwarted through obsequiousness. Liberalism, understood not as a political orientation but a governmental paradigm, ultimately proves impossible. Whatever is won in the moral spectacle of violence cannot make up for the literally everything that is materially lost. Suffering is suffering. Dying is dying. Below, I present five texts that tackle different aspects of the logic and application of liberalism which prefigures its own demise.

Shawn Rosenberg - Against Neoclassical Political Economy: A Political Psychological Critique

Ed White - The Value of Conspiracy Theory

Frederick Shauer - Uncoupling Free Speech

Mitch Berbrier - "Half the Battle": Cultural Resonance, Framing Processes, and Ethnic Affectations in Contemporary White Separatist Rhetoric

Frantz Fanon - On Violence (from Wretched of the Earth)

Jean Paul Sartre - Preface to Fanon's Wretched of the Earth

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

All That For This

Published an article over at Jewish Currents today about the first round of acquittals in the J20 trials. The process dragged out for almost a year, and somehow made it to a jury despite some rather unusual procedures. Here's a sample:

During the pretrial, hearing dates were rescheduled without notifying defendants who were required under penalty of arrest to attend. Law enforcement agents were demonstrated by the defense to be lying on the witness stand, and in closing arguments, lead prosecutor Jen Kerkhoff all but told the jury that their instructions were irrelevant and that reasonable doubt “doesn’t mean a whole lot.”
“We saw that the U.S. Attorney’s office has no problem with the fact that their interests overlap with [rightwing organizations] Project Veritas or the Oath Keepers,” explained Menefee-Libey. “We also saw that the DC Superior Court is willing to let all of these things proceed under their legitimizing purview. This was procedurally strange, but politically and morally terrifying and abhorrent.”
What the trials have helped bring to light above all else is the absolute disregard for procedure on the part of the police.
According to court documents, law enforcement had infiltrated the planning for all three events but zeroed in on the the anti-fascist, anti-capitalist bloc, which departed from Logan Circle at 10:00 that morning. Despite apparent concerns about their undercover infiltration methods, the DC police opted not to contact the protest organizers, as required by the department’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) regarding First Amendment activity. On the day of the protest, moreover, the police violated more of their SOP: In radio communications entered into evidence, the police commander and frontline officer discussed whether the protesters were anarchists, and made the call to mass arrest before the march even left the park, which violates their SOP requirement that protesters be arrested and charged individually. (Since the SOP was issued in 2004, mass arrests have been effectively prohibited in DC.)
Certainly going to be chilling to watch the prosecutor bring 188 more people to trial.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Why I Went on a Nazi's Podcast: Approaches and Goals

Plenty of far leftists have ended up in far right media in one way or another, mostly by accident. One of the hosts of a podcast I have been on twice (holiday episode coming soon!) called 2 Spicy actually got blindsided by Gavin McInnes in 2014 before he had made a name for himself beyond his status as persona non grata at Vice. (Apparently, McInnes only varied by degree from the rest of Vice's leadership.) Heather made the unfortunate mistake of taking an invite to do media without doing background research. Always do background research.

I've done a bit of background on the show I'm set to go on. (I'm writing this in advance of going on the show.) If you haven't heard of Millennial Woes, you're not missing much. His only noteworthy accomplishment seems to be speaking at the 2016 Maggiano's Seige NPI conference. Literally. Millennial Woes (who, despite having been doxxed as Colin Robertson still told me to call him 'Woes') is a 35 year old Scottish white nationalist with a mean antisemitic streak, anti-immigrant views, and a strange ambivalence towards bestiality. After he was doxxed (as a result of his only noteworthy accomplishment), his messaging suddenly became extremely conciliatory with regard to racial violence. You know how fash do.

Every year, Millennial Woes does a month long series of interviews he calls Millenniyule. This year he had designs to do 50 interviews in December. As a result of a fight on Twitter, I became one of them. What I hope to lay out here is how it came about that I got this "opportunity," my rationale for accepting it, my strategy for approaching it, and my goals.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Debunking Eugenics Reader

Back in August, I wrote an article for Red Pepper magazine asserting the synonymy of the alt-right and its historical antecedents in the eugenics movement. The breadth of the movement's influence at its height in late 2016 had it reaching in political spheres well beyond its original core in the white nationalist movement connected to Richard Spencer. That I catalogued this reach into GamerGate earned me quite a bit of impotent ire on the r/KotakuInAction Reddit where they claimed I didn't know what eugenics, the alt-right, or GamerGate are.

One of the more worrying claims on the Reddit was that my account and rejection of eugenics rejects evolutionary biology and sociology. Barring a restriction to literature from before 1950, little could be further from the truth. In actuality, these disciplines widely reject the key claims of biological determinism made by eugenicists by accounting for existing legal, economic, and political institutions. What follows is a list of readings that articulate contemporary critiques of eugenics.

Jean Belkhir - Intelligence and Race, Gender, Class: The Fallacy of Genetic Determinism

Francis Collins - What We Do and Don't Know About 'Race', 'Ethnicity', Genetics, and Health at the Dawn of the Genome Era

Audrey Smedley - "Race" and the Construction of Human Identity

Michael Barnshad et al. - Deconstructing the Relationship Between Genetics and Race

Graham Baker - Christianity and Eugenics: The Place of Religion in the British Eugenics Education Society and the American Eugenics Society, c.1907–1940

Monday, October 30, 2017

Universities Are Protecting Free Speech for Bigots at the Expense of Student Safety

"When I see these people on the roofs," said University of Florida (UF) student Ebony Love, gesturing to the groups of snipers on nearby campus buildings, "I understand the reason why they're up there, but at the same time, you have to take my money and pay for that, but I couldn't get an escort to walk me to my classes, and you said you were going to post security outside these classes and you didn't."

When I talked to her, Love was leaning on a police barricade set up outside of the auditorium on campus where prominent white supremacist Richard Spencer was due to speak on October 19. The night before, however, Love was escorting a student to an 8 pm exam. She and another student sat watch outside for two hours in lieu of the campus security she said the university had promised but failed to provide.

Continue reading at Truthout

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Interview on "The Radical Imagination"

Last week, I sat down with Jim Vrettos for The Radical Imagination on the Manhattan Neighborhood Network. We had an hour-long conversation about policing, pedagogy, and antifa. Watch it in full below.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The ‘alt-right’ is an unstable coalition – with one thing holding it together

In the aftermath of Charlottesville, the Associated Press (AP) has updated its style guide to change the standard usage of the term ‘alt-right’. The guide, widely followed across the US media, first added the term in November of last year, after Donald Trump won the presidential election, revealing the alt-right to be more than an electoral flash in the pan.

The update added anti-Semitism to the original definition. It now reads:

‘A political grouping or tendency mixing racism, white nationalism, anti-Semitism and populism; a name currently embraced by some white supremacists and white nationalists to refer to themselves and their ideology, which emphasizes preserving and protecting the white race in the United States.’
Both the original and updated AP definitions resemble early attempts to explain fascism in the decades following the second world war. Like the style guide versions, early writers focused attention on regime or movement attributes. This approach, often employing lists of various sizes, proved either too inclusive, or not inclusive enough.

Continue reading at Red Pepper

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Oh What, We're Not Gonna Strike?

You know me. Why would I ever pass up the opportunity right? It should probably come as no surprise that I am asking my fellow workers in the City University of New York to vote 'no' on the proposed pay cut and power grab from Governor Cuomo, Bill De Blasio, and Chancellor Milliken.

So a union is supposed to fight for worker power, right? To get a better living standard, worker control, and worker democracy, that's not happening right now. The union leadership tell us that this was the best they could get.

CUNY workers should have their suspicions.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Full Amnesty

This week, I wrote a post on the New School Economic Review blog advocating for a complete abolition of immigration restrictions. Here's a sample:

From my interactions with Branko both in person and online, I'm fairly certain that he has absolutely no desire to embrace racism and would likely rebuke it at any opportunity. However, the geopolitical paradigm he crafts here makes such a result nearly inevitable. By essentializing historically fluid categories such as national culture and language, Milanovic sets up a framework in which migration is an invasive force. By treating geographic income disparities as historically neutral and sacrosanct, he sets up a Paretian world in which changes are only permissible insofar as they are immediately beneficial to everyone involved. In other words, Milanovic's assessment of migration creates a paradigm in which only the wealthy should be allowed to migrate.

For Milanovic, migrants bring nothing but their monetary endowments to their new host countries. Anyone migrating without her own wealth, according to this reasoning, will merely drain the system. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, studies show that more often than not, migrants end up in forms of employment that create the opportunity for the creation of new higher-skill job in complementary sectors. All of this amounts to the strengthening of the very systems which Milanovic claims they will destroy.

Far from being idle surplus population, migrants provide an overwhelming economic boon where institutional systems support it. Historically, this institutional support has not led to the destruction of national culture and language, but rather its expansion. When flocks of Jewish and Slavic migrants fled the Ottoman and Austrian persecution in Milanovic's native Serbia in the latter part of the 19th century, they brought with them cultural and linguistic traditions that have since become so sewn into the fabric of this country as to go without notice.

Read the full post here

Friday, November 27, 2015

This Whole Terrorist Thing

For whatever reason, the word "terrorist" still has currency across the spectrum of the broad left. Perhaps it should be of little surprise that anyone would want to immediately translate their feelings of moral indignation into the language of the state. However, the more curious matter is the way in which the left employs the word "terrorist" to eclipse some possibly more useful & illuminating signifiers.

I had personally hoped that the lampooning of Giuliani's campaign for the 2008 presidential elections spelled the death knell for the use of "terrorism" to end conversations on the ideological and organizations intricacies of political mass violence. Instead, the opposite has appeared to happen. The left, in an attempt to race-bait the right, has eagerly applied the appellation to every mass murderer who cannot immediately be identified as marginalized.

Of course, the right-wing media doesn't really care if it's race-baited and is perfectly happy to differentially apply the term "terrorist." In the Current Year™, the implication of one's endorsement of racism just doesn't have the same earth-shattering consequences as it did in the few decades following desegregation and the Civil Rights Act. In an era of #cuckservatives and armed white nationalist "protesters," it's becoming increasingly less dangerous to be a neo-Nazi than it is to oppose them.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Welcome to The Jungle

In the mess of the hours-long attacks in Paris resulting in over a hundred deaths, a certain well-meaning tweet captured the hearts of well-meaning Anglophone liberals:

From our Eurocentric perspective, this tweet is a slam-dunk for the champions of liberal hospitality. Certainly, it would be naïve -- worse, dangerous -- to assert that this attack is the mere consequence of immigration. Of course those seeking refuge in France from the Middle East and North Africa have done so out of fear for their lives and livelihoods. But for all that this tweet (unlikely) illuminates to reactionaries, it still succeeds in obscuring for liberals.

The sentiment of this tweet is predicated fundamentally on two falsehoods. The first is that this event is not unprecedented. The second is that the narrative this tweet presents is largely false.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Dear Baby Boomers: Go Fuck Yourselves

This Saturday Los Angeles Times crotchety old man reporter Chris Erskine tried to pass off a bulleted list off as journalism wrote a list of things millennials should pledge to themselves in order to do adulting.

For a generation that has cut the retirement programs that their parents generation fought so hard for, Erskine is really gambling away being given the dignity of a nursing home. I hope my notes on his condescending list will serve as an appeal to Chris Erskine's children to let him die in the streets like his parents' parents.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

When Animal Rights Trumps Human Rights

One time I was in the Lower East Side and a homeless man with a dog told me that he had just moved to the city for a job that didn't start until the following Monday and he was looking for help feeding his dog, crying that he didn't eat unless his dog ate. He asked for a hot dog from the 7-11 we were in front of. I insisted that if he was going to feed his dog that I would buy him two, one for him and one for his dog. I came out with two hot dogs, and he gave them both to his dog right there.

Needless to say, I was pretty pissed off when I came across this video yesterday. In it, members of a French animal rights group Cause Animale Nord wrestle a dog from a homeless man and run off with it. According to HuffPo, they have put the stolen dog up for adoption.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Workers, Women, and Revolution: From Inequality to Solidarity

Today, I published a recap of Julie Matthaei's excellent talk at the New School for Social Research last Tuesday. You can read the whole thing at the New School Economic Review. Here's a sample:

In 1973, the URPE women founded a Marxist-feminist reading group which due to growing interest over the years blossomed into multiple reading groups. Some of the early selections were Women and Revolution by Lydia Sargent and Capitalist Patriarchy and the Case for Socialist Feminism edited by Zillah R. Eisenstein. The groups investigated complex questions such as "What is the relationship between capitalism and patriarchy?" since on the one hand capitalism appeared to break down certain "traditional" gender roles but on the other hand led to the increasing proletarianization of women without providing much accommodation for their needs as women. Additionally, these reading groups discussed whether women's liberation could be left until after the revolution and whether a concern for women's liberation could stand to divide the working class as so many male socialists at the time asserted. The answer was a resounding no.

Simmering below the surface was the question of "womanhood" itself. It soon became clear that an approach that considered only capitalism and patriarchy was insufficient to explain the experience of women of color and queer women (much less queer women of color). After some internal struggle, complemented by changes in the wider feminist movement, URPE embraced an approach that analyzed the intersections of all sorts of oppression and exploitation. As Matthaei said, they concluded, "There is no universal experience of womanhood."

Read the full article at the New School Economic Review

Monday, August 31, 2015

FedEx Packages

In keeping with the GOP's attempt to keep up with Donald Trump's fascist appeal, Chris Christie proposed a technocratic "solution" to undocumented immigration. I put solution in scare quotes not because his policy plan is ridiculous, but because I remain unconvinced that undocumented immigration is a problem to be solved. By and large, immigration is a boon for the economy - it tends to positively impact citizens' earnings, has minimal impact on domestic unemployment, and are comparatively less likely to be violent criminals than citizens.

What Christie proposed was a bit silly in its phrasing. Par for the course for Christie. According to Christie 40% of undocumented immigrants are here on expired visas. He proposed that we use FedEx's expertise with tracking packages in order to track human beings. The video is under the cut.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The D.E.N.N.I.S. System of Capitalism

I'm a pretty big fan of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia being a 20-minutes-outside-of-Philly boy myself. The show itself centers around five sociopaths who run an Irish bar in the only city where it's worth getting a cheese steak.

One of the characters, Dennis, is an incredibly narcissistic womanizer. Throughout the course of the series, it is revealed that he has multiple bench warrants for sexual misconduct and keeps duct tape, a Maglight, and a bundle of zip ties in a hidden compartment in his car.

In one episode, he reveals that he has a systematized his pattern of abusive and manipulative behavior into a mnemonic eponymous acronym. Oddly enough, this system also works quite well to explain how the capitalist system conditions the working class into accepting their conditions of poverty.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

#tbt Matias Vernengo 2006 Technology, Finance, and Dependency: Latin American Radical Political Economy in Retrospect

Through my odd traverse through economics education, I admittedly haven't gotten into Dependency Theory. This past weekend, I decided to finally look into it. In general, I'm rather impressed. As an anarchist, I generally appreciate any theory which takes as its foundation relationships of power in thinking through social and political relations.

This paper by Matias Vernengo provides a great introduction to dependency theory. Vernengo, who maintains the blog Naked Keynesianism, outlines the development of Dependency Theory through the scholarship of primarily Latin American and US American neo-Marxist and structuralist thought.

Download the paper here