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Showing posts from 2011

Anecdotes

The vertebrate brain seems to operate as a device tuned to the recognition of patterns. When evolution grafted consciousness in human form upon this organ in a single species, the old inherent search for patterns developed into a propensity for organizing these patterns as stories, and then for explaining the surrounding world in terms of the narratives expressed in such tales. For universal reasons that probably transcend the cultural particulars of individual groups, humans tend to construct their stories along a limited number of themes and pathways, favored because they grant both useful sense and satisfying meaning to the confusion (and often to the tragedy) of life in our complex surrounding world. Stephen Jay Gould- "Jim Bowie's Letter and Bill Buckner's Legs"

Understanding Our Confidence Crisis

Generally, I am not in favor of reducing things to their most digestible. We live in a complex world and reducing things to "good vs. bad" is rarely helpful. Topics take time to sift through and understand. This is only natural. Although, I also agree, sometimes a step back to the fundamental issues at hand is helpful. With few notable exceptions (Alan Woods, Martin Wolf), commentary surrounding Europe's debt crisis has been muddled at best and purposefully confusing at worst. If you aren't fluent in the technocratic economic vernacular of the various talking heads, things can get a bit distorted.

First off, it should be noted the crisis in Europe is not simply an "economic" crisis. It is a crisis of a certain kind of economics- a certain way we produce and distribute goods. It is a crisis of Capitalism. What started as a banking crisis in the United States has morphed into a national debt crisis in Europe. This has been complicated further due to the stra…

"The Class, the Party, and the Leadership"

The Spanish Revolution is in many ways a how-to-guide for how not to take power and implement a revolutionary workers’ democracy. Actually, it is studying the Spanish Revolution that convinced me personally that revolutionary Marxism was correct and revolutionary Anarchism, at least in practice, didn’t exist.

As we know, the Spanish Revolution failed and we saw Fascist reaction not only gain control of Spain, but ultimately most of Europe. So why did the Spanish Revolution fail? Was this a failure of leadership, or were the workers simply not mature enough to carry through a revolution?

In this document [The Class, the Party, and the Leadership] Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky answers that question by verbally body-slamming the editors of Que Faire (What To Do), which was a left-leaning bourgeois intellectual paper published in Paris. It is interesting that Trotsky made sure to write that the paper itself was of no importance, i.e, it wasn’t going to do much other th…

Putting North Dakota's Economy in Context...

"Revenge of the Squares"?

Brandishing the values of "yesteryears," some Mayberryish place that exists only in conservatives' minds, North Dakota is the nation's economic hot spot. Although it ironically has become hip to write little fluff pieces on how refreshing it is North Dakota, being so neglected by America's elite, has managed to stave off Capitalism's latest crisis, a few contextual points are in order.

First off, the oil. North Dakota has oil. Now this point is almost certainly mentioned by the glorymongerers, as it is in the above piece, but this key fact has little to do with culture and lots to do with luck and new technology that allows access to oil that was once unprofitable to be refined. A quick look through history tells us oil is, at most, a finite mixed blessing. Oil, unlike the infamous North Dakota weather, tends to keep the "riff-raff" in.

Next, we have the State bank. North Dakota is the only state in the…

Egypt

Many things come to mind when I think of the Egyptian Revolution. There are a few that stick out and I haven't heard much discussion regarding them, so I thought I'd bring them up. Many reports have mentioned the neighborhood patrols people have initiated. This doesn't sit well with conventional wisdom. It should. To be quite simple, we don't need a police force. The police are there to protect the privileges of the ruling class. Case closed. Of course there are individual members of the police force who are sympathetic and will join the people, as has happened in Egypt, but as an institution they are not necessary in a truly democratic state. Arm the people. If my neighbor isn't safe, neither am I.That brings me to my next point. Many believe most of us on the left are anti-gun and soft on crime. Untrue. I would imagine these patrols and checkpoints would be quite worthless without guns. They are needed for defense, both of individuals and of gains m…