Writers & Essays (N – Z)

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Kamran Nayeri: (1) The concern of economists is the proper maintenance of the capitalist system, not its replacement with a social system that can liberate us from the economic, social and ecological crisis it has created. The idea that economics can determine public policy belies the fact that public policy is formulated according to class interests not scientific findings. One does not need to be an expert to realize that public policy is not forged based on scientific studies. Economics, socialism and ecology: A critical outline (Part 1) (site specific)

(2) To resolve the planetary crisis and the social crisis, it is necessary to revive the intrinsic value of everything, including each human being, by ridding our society and culture of values assigned to them by the market and this cannot be done unless we return to ecocentrism and transcend the capitalist system. Economics, socialism and ecology: A critical outline (Part 2) (site specific)

Antonio Negri: Of all movements, Occupy seems the one closest to the experience of the Paris Commune: It has marked a shift that cannot be reversed; despite its defeat, it’s opened a world of possibilities that will define the world to come. From this point of view, it has won: It’s created a new political grammar of the common. We cannot go back to before Occupy. Taking notes 12: On the state of movements

Jeff Noonan:  (1) Capitalism with its accumulation of money-value progressively undermines planetary life-support, human life-requirement satisfaction and meaningful human life-capacity development. The on-going life crisis of capitalism and its inability to satisfy fundamental human life-requirements disable the expression of human life-capacities in life-coherent ways. The capitalist life crisis (site specific)

(2) The fatal problem of GDP as measurement of economic health is clear: it focuses on life-destructive economic activities. If we focus only on money-value growth, then economies can destroy the life-support upon which our lives, and the economy itself, really depend. Economics, happiness, and life-coherent societies. (site specific)

(3) Ultimately, philosophy depends on people’s capacity to honestly accept truth, even if it contradicts their pre-reflective beliefs, the claims of tradition, or the demands of power. It is incompatible with politically motivated skepticism which pretends to rigour but is really designed to impede social change. Philosophy as critique and ideology(site specific)

(4) Movements like the Arab Spring or Occupy Wall Street are not simply trying to change economic or political institutions. They are reacting not only to declining living standards, but to the expulsion of their members from participation in the political and social life of the nation. They are reacting to the death of democracy as the idea of a social whole whose members solve their shared problems together. The only solution to the spiritual crisis of capitalism is success in the positive, constructive program of these oppositional movements. The spiritual crisis of capitalist civilization (site specific)

(5) The success or failure of Occupy should not be measured by the metric underlying the question: Did the camps solve the social problems they decried? It should be asked: Did Occupy advance the long term struggle to solve problems it identified, or did it cause it to regress? But social change operates according to different rhythms; struggles unfold unevenly over open-ended time frames. After Occupy (site specific)

(6) Today revolutionary politics must be resolutely non-violent — the goal of movements for fundamental social change can no longer be to overthrow the state by force, but to overwhelm the state’s legitimacy through organizing a gigantic, unified movement that rests on goals so obviously in the shared life-interest that the army and police forces refuse to protect the ruling powers, which must then concede as a consequence. What does Revolution mean today? (site specific)

(7) The struggle for democracy is not only a struggle for the inclusion of voice, but for its inclusion so that the harms of deprivation oppressed groups suffer can be articulated and overcome. As a substantive life-value, democracy ensures that life-requirements are comprehensively and universally satisfied for the sake of enabling life-valuable forms of free capacity realization in the lives of each and all.  The difference democracy does (and does not) make to peoples’ lives (site specific)

(8) The social conditions in which the idea of rich individuality can be realized as the form of life for every individual remain valuable as the generic content of socialism, but part of the social conditions must now include, space and time apart from others. Having something to say and to give to others requires moments of solitude impossible in on-line life. Sociality, solitude, and the struggle for socialism (site specific)

(9) The problem with capitalism is that its ethic is life-destructive. The individual is not an atomic self-maximising desire machine but rather a socially self-conscious member of natural fields of life-support and social fields of life-development. Preservative struggles in the age of austerity  (site specific)

(10) In a globalized money-value economy the vast majority of the productive resources of the earth are either controlled by private corporations or allowed to be utilised by nominally sovereign states as if they were private corporate property. The exploitation of natural resources and human labour for the sake of money-value accumulation has generated massive environmental and social crises. The dialectic of the local and the global (site specific)

(11) While philosophers will be motivated by concrete political evaluations of the relative legitimacy of conflicting positions, they must ground their political assessments in the deeper understanding of human self-making activity such that the underlying humanity of all parties to any conflict is made clear. Taking notes 52: Philosophy and understanding Paris and the on-going crisis: 10 theses

(12) Wired capitalism allows one to be an advocate for feral cats in the morning, a proponent of human rights in Syria in the evening and a gamer all-night. Identity is a game not a commitment, unlike Marx’s understanding of class consciousness, which binds individual goals collectively. Capitalism, socialism, and everyday life in the twenty-first century (site specific)

(13) Critical thinking is not the ability to solve problems within the established parameters of social, economic, political, aesthetic, and intellectual-scientific life. If the problem lies with the established rules, then confining critical thinking to “problem solving” always serves the status quo. Taking notes 58: For the love of thinking: eleven theses

(14) Capitalism stands in sharp contrast to our ordinary moral dispositions as it demonizes sharing as a lost opportunity to exploit other people`s needs. Marx condemned capitalism in his early philosophical works precisely because it turned need into an opportunity to exploit others. The sharing economy: an alternative to capitalist exploitation? (site specific)

(15) Expressed politically, the philosophical question asks: if socialism is about satisfying the natural and social conditions of human freedom, what exactly is it that we should do with that freedom if it is the case that technological development could abolish the social need for labour? Freedom and de-alienated labour (site specific)

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Philippe Van Parijs: The European Union should evolve in the direction of justice. And any conception of justice relevant for our times must combine two elements — equal respect for the diversity of conceptions of the good life that characterizes our pluralist societies and equal concern for the interests of all members, present and yet to come. Justice means the greatest real freedom for those with least of it. Justice for all and the European Union 

Sanjay Perera: (1) We are at that point in history which Marx envisioned and Lenin fought for. What Lenin was denied has been delivered to us by capitalism’s systemic failure. This is history’s gift to the change makers and revolutionaries of today. Lenin for the 21st century (site specific)

(2) Practical political reason is a concept that allows for a coherent explanation of the revolutionary ideas of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. Their practical, and so, morally driven ideas are a reflection of developing working socio-economic-political principles from the ground up. Revolutionary constructivism (site specific)

(3) Looking at the economic violence of today, we gain a new perspective into Marx’s idea of the reserve army of labour. It is not just a pool of workers exploited via low wages, nor is it only a group whose surplus value is robbed and from whom profit is squeezed. The point is that for the elite to survive within their comfort zones they also need the destruction and culling of people. The economy of violence: Waste, expenditure and surplus (site specific)

(4) Among the problems faced in understanding Capital is the opacity and confusion that arises from its portrayal in neoclassical economics. In the sanitized use of Capital as a concept, economics covers up for the fact that it is a term that has taken on a life of its own via the influence it yields over everything. We are lulled by economics into regarding Capital purely as a boon to society. A critique of Capital (1): The problem with economics (site specific)

(5) Economists err in regarding their field as a science in that their ideas can be bandied as ‘objective’ like the laws of thermodynamics. While scientists are willing to accept that their theories are subject to change despite their invariant quality, economists unwarrantedly assume a capitalist paradigm by asserting that their analysis must revolve around factors of production: Ideas that go beyond invariance into becoming actualities as such. A critique of Capital (2): The metaphysics of economics (site specific)

(6) The ‘economy’ is rendered as that which is essentially true and a metaphysical entity  imposed on us through education and institutions of the state. There is nothing existing that challenges the notion of why we use the term ‘economy’ other than the blind assumption that we use that term and that we are employed-enslaved within a discourse and society that uses economic concepts as if they are divine edicts. A critique of Capital (3): Toward a moral economy (site specific)

(7) Economic rationality produces a violence calculated and destructive beyond the non-rationality of humans. It is the dogma that supports the viciousness of capitalism. It distorts, subverts and mis-channels the libidinal current away from what can be harnessed for the benefit of all into that which is microfascist and dehumanizing. A theory of economic violence (site specific)

(8) It is still difficult for those grappling to keep themselves and families together and sustain functional bank accounts to see that they are being bamboozled by the nanosecond. There is a consensus that you are meant to suffer, punish yourself and others to earn a living without being aware that the entire system is rigged against any sense of decency, humanity or ethics.  Taking notes 31: The wolf man, capital and fugazi (site specific)

(9) Hopefully, we will see that the flow of economic energy is the basis for an economic unconscious which in turn underlies our society as it underwrites our psyches. This then shapes many aspects of our life. It is a cycle in which we co-create our socio-economic realities with others. The idea is speculative and an exercise in bringing into further relief the violence of economics. The economic unconscious (site specific)

(10) There has been no tradition for Anarchist activities in Singapore and if socialism is not well understood within the city-state, most think Anarchy to be ‘chaos.’ While the mention of democracy abounds and sometimes there is talk about socialism, the country does not have a grip on the thinking behind Anarchy. Taking notes 35: The symbol of Anarchy in Singapore (site specific)

(11) Thomas Piketty treads a fine line between using and keeping a distance from Marxian notions but the influence from the left is difficult to reject as it contextualizes his comments and analysis of socio-economic inequality in a manner reflective of key ideas of our time on socio-political control framed by Marxian ideas. Taking notes 37: Meritocracy, repression and Piketty’s apocalyptic asymptote (site specific)

(12) Is moral philosophy still relevant despite disillusionment from undelivered promises based on ‘Hope,’ ‘Change,’ and ‘Yes, we can.’ Even as grounds are prepared to impeach a president for his healthcare reforms, who would instead be praised if he rode roughshod by spreading social aggression, war and planetary genocide. Making moral philosophy relevant again: the rent across the ‘veil of ignorance’ (site specific)

(13) With the violence of our time, the use of tax dollars to sustain the western military-industrial-torture complex, and the sexual abuse by America, that bastion of human rights, of so-called enemy combatants in Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib: Sade’s work speaks for the world we have created. Radical punishment: the economic rationality of the Marquis de Sade (site specific)

(14) What Lenin and his Bolsheviks failed to do, Singapore achieved with its state capitailsm. Contrary to what critics and others may say, this achievement was fundamentally correct if the country was to ever be in a position to then transform itself into an advanced socialist economy. Taking notes 45: Singapore radical: Lee Kuan Yew (site specific)

(15) Acting intentionally in an instrumental manner that initiates collateral damage on others for the ‘good’ of  the people and national interests absolves one. If the other side blows up something in your home town because their intention is to punish you for what you do overseas to others and they are further fueled by religion, then you have your pet narrative finding its official ‘bad guy.’ The intentional road to hell (site specific)

(16) The bottom line is that Singapore needs a strong and financially prudent government to deal with capitalist power brokers who run the world and not upset them too much. It has to conserve financial resources for emergencies to counter social and economic sabotage by the controllers of the world. Singapore, democracy and power play (site specific)

(17) The ISIS narrative has an uncanny and disturbing similarity to the utilitarianism and rationality of capitalism in that the linear drive for profit maximization and extraction of value from resources and human beings and all life forms have led to an unsustainable situation which heralds an end of times for us. ISIS and the instrumental rationality of its Apocalypse (site specific)

(18) That the US Constitution is genuine in intending ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ is a fiction. The freedom is meant for the haves and the rest are meant to be the precariat. Social and racial inequality are rampant in the US and takes on more sophistication when celebrities believe that more colour in an Oscar line-up is good for the welfare of minorities. The melancholia of resistance: Tarantino’s eight film (site specific)

(19) Not only does America have lax gun laws, it is time for people to finally admit that their country’s penchant for violence as a form of entertainment, way of life, and national  policy—is at the core of so much of the murders that plague their society. Taking notes 62: America is a death-driven state (site specific)

(20) The upcoming US presidential election is not only about fear and what you hate most–it also presents a moral conundrum. The cornerstone of the argument that Clinton’s backers run in support of her is why choosing the lesser evil is a necessity. Taking notes 64: America’s chance for moral courage (site specific)

(21) There may be some adjustment by Trump to assuage those upset and those whose hobby it is to rant. But that may be about it. Things will continue as usual till one generation of youth, sooner than later—will understand that they have been given the death penalty globally through climate change. Taking notes 65: Trump’s triumph: what more can be done? (site specific)

Daniel Pinchbeck: (1) Champagne glasses are no doubt clinking in fancy hotel rooms and private clubs to celebrate the selling out of the people, as the unemployed and dispossessed roam the streets. We witness, as spectacle, the slow-motion dismantling of the American republic — though nobody can say how the story will play out this time. Corporate alchemy

(2)  People have been programmed by the media to remain disconnected, cynical, and detached. They are indoctrinated to pursue their personal ambitions, to take no responsibility for the planetary situation as a whole. A vague faith in technological progress has become the religion of atheists and materialists. Our development of new technology is oriented toward profit, with no precautionary principle in place. Taking notes 9: The end of the beginning

Stephen Resnick & Richard D. Wolff: Two different and contending mainstream theories have explained capitalism’s repeated crises over the last century.  One theory asks for state interventions aimed at counteracting the unwanted extremes of capitalism’s inherent instability. “Regulate, regulate” is the Keynesian prophets’ mantra. The other insist on the market mechanism and “Deregulate, deregulate” is the neoclassical economists’ mantra. A Marxian interpretation of the economic crisis

Richard H. Robbins: The austerity budgets in Europe and the US again puts a focus on the role of debt in our economy. The real problem, however, seems to be a failure to see the real relationship between debt and economic growth. And in this lies an issue of morality, as well as the root cause of climate change, increasing inequality, political conflict, and a host of other modern ills. Taking notes 22: The need for a debt strike (site specific)

Jerome Roos: At the end of the day, however, Žižek’s dangerous dreams seem to be little more than the final convulsions of a 20th century ideology that has long since paralyzed itself. Millions of people have now experienced the microcosms of real democracy in the squares and parks all over the world. These experiences will not be washed away. Taking notes 21: The dangerous dreams of Slavoj Žižek

Coleen Rowley: Credible and independent humanitarian efforts to help individuals are inherently ineffective when entwined with any government’s national interests. The Red Cross may be an example of a human rights effort operating internationally seeming to do a better job of maintaining its independence — and NGOs should learn from this. Taking notes 11: Torture is wrong but so is the supreme war crime

Douglas Rushkoff: As highly corporatized people, it’s only natural for those of us interested in addressing our social and environmental rehabilitation to do so from within our roles as employees, consumers, and maybe shareholders.We prefer to PayPal our support of a homeless teen folksinger with a great pitch on his Facebook page than approach those homeless kids we keep seeing in the grocery-store parking lot.  A new form of activism 

John Schwarzmantel: The task of political theory must be to try and make sense of current developments, of revolutionary challenges to the existing order, if indeed that is what we are witnessing in the contemporary world. What may be developing is a democracy that invests citizens with a more creative and active role as holders of sovereign power. Insurgent democracy

Jeff Shantz: (1) Anarchists are not trying to seize power within a national territory. The process of one system replacing the other will not be a sudden revolutionary cataclysm. It will be a gradual creation of alternative forms of organization on a world scale. This will eventually make current forms of power beside the point. Re-thinking revolution: A social anarchist perspective (site specific)

(2) Anarchism is not involved in the drawing up of social bluerprints for the future. This is one reason why anarchists are reluctant to describe “the anarchist society”. Instead they have tried mainly to identify and understand social trends or tendencies, even countervailing ones. The focus is resolutely on manifestations of the future in the present. An anarchy of everyday life (site specific)

(3) May Day is largely a focal point for anarchists, communists, socialists and some labour activists. Yet it might once again come to mean something more for broader sectors of the working class. To do so efforts will need to be made to go beyond the marches and parades and return May Day to a meaningful celebration of rooted strugles. Beyond May Day: From ritual to resistance (site specific)

(4) Recent transformations to align the state with the needs of global capital have led to the emergence of a “crisis state” which claims to be feeble in the face of global forces while flexing its muscles against the poor and oppressed. Ruling elites have been hard at work removing reforms won from capital, through great struggles, over the past century. Anarchy and Autonomy: Contemporary social movements, theory, and practice (site specific)

(5) The black bloc may be viewed as an act of self-determination in which people develop autonomous forms of solidarity and social relations on terms that are relevant to their communities rather than according to the preferences of sanctioned authorities. This is not about citizenship as about participating in communities to come. Black blocs and contemporary “propaganda of the deed” (site specific)

(6) Rather than tearing down the walls between town and gown, head and hand, academic and amateur, the move of anarchists into the academy may simply reproduce, reinforce and legitimize, the political and economic structures of the academy. It certainly lends a shine to the claims of those conservative academics who like to crow about academic freedom and the openness of the neo-liberal university. Anarchism in the academy (site specific)

(7)  The separation between economic and political spheres (and the relegation of unions to the limited terrain of economic management) is a reflection, and result of, the collapse of infrastructures of resistance that expressed the connections, even unity, of economic and political action, and the need for organizations that recognized the connections between struggles in these areas. Taking notes 18: On the need for Infrastructures of Resistance (site specific)

(8)  The future potential of movements in struggle will rely in part on the growing convergence, even symbiosis, of the cyber disobedients and the direct actionists of the streets. Even more important will be the grounding of this action and organizing in specific workplaces and neighborhoods in ways that challenge fundamentally relations and structures of ownership, control, and exploitation. Taking notes 25: On cyber syndicalism — from Hacktivism to Workers’ Control (site specific)

(9) Sabotage, restraint, hindrance, for capital, reflects a measure of power—to control flows of capital for the benefit of capital. Sabotage by the working class represents something of an opposite nature—the loss of control by capital. It signifies an incapacity for regulating flows for the benefit of capital. Taking notes 46: Reflections on sabotage: theirs and ours (site specific)

(10) Increasing anger and misery in the present period can create a climate more sympathetic to terroristic reactionary violence—to fascism. If popular support for such aggression increases, the opportunity for larger expressions of fascist aggression may develop. Fascism today: fear and loathing in America (site specific)

Magid Shihade: (1) It is sometimes thought that if any change takes place in the Arab world it must be influenced or aided by Western ideas and technology. According to this narrative, even if events were not shaped by direct Western intervention, they were shaped by these indirect tools. This is to misunderstand the Arab revolution. Understanding the Arab revolution (site specific)

(2) The recent crisis in Gaza can be seen as American/Western hegemony being expressed in the Middle East yet again. It is also a reflection of the nature and working of the war machine and the dynamics of domination that structures the mindset of those in power in the West when dealing with their own public and the Third World. This sadistic domination and practices are hard to give up on by those who hold power. Taking notes 6: We are fine in Gaza — How are you?

Stevphen Shukaitis: It is one thing to say that we want a world where people manage their own lives, the environment is not destroyed, and life is not desolate and alienating – but it’s another to start talking about what such a vision might actually look like. And starting to actually create forms of cooperative practice, to re-envision utopian thinking as lived reality, is another matter. Re-envisioning utopian thinking

Wolfgang Streeck: Public perceptions of capitalism are now deeply cynical, the whole system is perceived as a world of dirty tricks for further enrichment of the already rich. Nobody believes in a moral revival of capitalism. Attempts to prevent it from being confounded with greed have failed, as it is synonymous with corruption. How will capitalism end?

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Taking notes: (1) The US dollar’s continued decline in international standing took the next inevitable step reflecting the systemic failure of capitalism. The guaranteed effects of unbridled capital accumulation in America manifests itself in moves by China and Japan at direct currency exchanges to facilitate commerce and profits for their enterprises and boost trade. But this does not alleviate the failed sytem of debt and unfairness at the core of capitalism. Taking notes 1 (site specific)

(2) The entire world economy and the elected and unelected characters in it are perpetuating a global scam. They rob the savings of the ordinary people to play their games to further enrich themselves. This nefarious game has gone on for some time: sometimes it’s called capitalism, in which elites across the globe serve their own interests. Taking notes 2 (site specific)

(3) We must realise that waiting for someone to save us will not amount to much. We must organise and come up with ways to solve our own problems. The Internet is a great way to connect and come up with ideas which help us support one another. No great or worthwhile change ever comes from anyone at the top. It comes from those who resist and move out of their comfort zones. Taking notes 3 (site specific)

(4) With the unsolvable Eurozone crisis and America’s spiralling debt, we have reached a stage in economic theory where suggestions of either austerity, or continued indebtedness, only create the inevitable situation of choosing between a rise in fascism, or acknowledging the need for collapse to finally bring about much needed changes for the betterment of all. Taking notes 4 (site specific)

(5) Insurrection is a mass armed uprising to overthrow a regime. Civil disobedience is selective refusal to obey some of the regime’s laws or policies, as a means of pressuring it into changing them. Tax strikes, refusal of conscription, and sitting in the “wrong” section of a segregated bus all belong to this category. There is no intention to overthrow the regime, only to force it to negotiate. Taking notes 5: The truant insurrection

(6) The recent crisis in Gaza can be seen as American/Western hegemony being expressed in the Middle East yet again. It is also a reflection of the nature and working of the war machine and the dynamics of domination that structures the mindset of those in power in the West when dealing with their own public and the Third World. This sadistic domination and practices are hard to give up on by those who hold power. Taking notes 6: We are fine in Gaza — How are you?

(7) Within the insular bubble of rights-based moral calculation, asymmetries of power, wealth, or development count for nothing. The rural guerrilla in sandals and armed with a rifle must respect the same etiquette of war as the foreign interloper astride a 70-ton tank. In the strange universe of the human rights industry, it doesn’t matter whether a regime’s opponents are paid by the CIA or patriotically motivated; their rights to dissent have equal legitimacy. Taking notes 7: Human Rights or Imperial Partnership?

(8) While today workers still have nothing to lose but their chains, the unemployed masses wield their chains as weapons against each other. But in the background, capitalism continues. This is not surprising since recognition of the problem could only come from practically engaging it as such. The issue is why it seems so undesirable to do so, today. Why have people stopped struggling for socialism? Taking notes 8: Class consciousness (from a Marxist perspective) today

(9) People have been programmed by the media to remain disconnected, cynical, and detached. They are indoctrinated to pursue their personal ambitions, to take no responsibility for the planetary situation as a whole. A vague faith in technological progress has become the religion of atheists and materialists. Our development of new technology is oriented toward profit, with no precautionary principle in place. Taking notes 9: The end of the beginning

(10) So the world is now indeed splitting into a plutonomy and a precariat — in the imagery of the Occupy movement, the 1% and the 99%. The Occupy movement is a major and popular reaction to injustices. But it’s necessary to admit that it will  be a long, hard struggle. You don’t win victories tomorrow. You have to form the structures that will be sustained, that will go on through hard times and can win major victories. Taking notes 10: Plutonomy and the precariat

(11) Credible and independent humanitarian efforts to help individuals are inherently ineffective when entwined with any government’s national interests. The Red Cross may be an example of a human rights effort operating internationally seeming to do a better job of maintaining its independence — and NGOs should learn from this. Taking notes 11: Torture is wrong but so is the supreme war crime

(12) Of all movements, Occupy seems the one closest to the experience of the Paris Commune: It has marked a shift that cannot be reversed; despite its defeat, it’s opened a world of possibilities that will define the world to come. From this point of view, it has won: It’s created a new political grammar of the common. We cannot go back to before Occupy. Taking notes 12: On the state of movements

(13) For romantic revolutionaries there is the assumption that the true revolution is yet to come, and they are nostalgic for Western Social-Democracy. Social-Democratic governments, they argue, produced states that were usually better than any communist state. They had “universal” welfare, near full employment, and free education. They forget that such governments operated within the framework of bourgeois democracy. Taking notes 13: Roadblocks of the Old New Left

(14) For Chávez, the art of politics was to make the impossible possible, not by pure voluntarism, but starting from the existing reality, seeking to create conditions for changing it, by building a correlation of forces favorable to change. Throughout the years of his administration, he worked masterfully to achieve it, knowing that, for the purpose of building political power, agreements at top leadership levels do not suffice. Taking notes 14: Remembering Chávez

(15) Much of the bailouts that have been ill-advisedly sanctioned by governments for many failed financial organizations under the guise of keeping the economy afloat have resulted in a public outcry, but the bottom-line has always been using public funds and tax-payers’ money to support useless financial groups. Taking notes 15: Sad Cyprus (site specific)

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(16) In the global political economy the rule from the boardrooms of large banks and corporations has been sustained by powerful and seemingly unassailable ideologies such as free trade, growth through competition, freedom though private enterprise and democracy through markets. Taking notes 16: The rebellion has started

(17) What is meant by “the world”? The Western ideological construct assumes that the world should care about human rights, but that only the West really does. That assumption is creating a deepening gap between the West and the rest of the world, which does not see things that way. To most of the real world, the West is seen as a cause of humanitarian disasters, not the cure. Taking notes 17: The good intentions that pave the road to war

(18) The separation between economic and political spheres (and the relegation of unions to the limited terrain of economic management) is a reflection, and result of, the collapse of infrastructures of resistance that expressed the connections, even unity, of economic and political action, and the need for organizations that recognized the connections between struggles in these areas. Taking notes 18: On the need for Infrastructures of Resistance (site specific)

(19) The social transformation in Venezuela is shown by the idea of revolution as a process and the primacy of the constituent power, which has been developed from below in the form of popular power throughout the country. Chávez was an ally in the construction of people’s power and creative building of a new world. The power in Venezuela is in the neighbourhoods, in the towns, villages and cities, organized together. Taking notes 19: Venezuela beyond Chávez

(20) Conservatives in the media and political figures on the right tried to cast the striking Quebec students as privileged and self-serving, but the links that the student mobilization made with the neoliberal agendas of the state resonated with the unions and the general public who were seeing an erosion of public services and benefits. Taking notes 20: The 2012 student strike: Many lessons were learned and taught

(21) At the end of the day, however, Žižek’s dangerous dreams seem to be little more than the final convulsions of a 20th century ideology that has long since paralyzed itself. Millions of people have now experienced the microcosms of real democracy in the squares and parks all over the world. These experiences will not be washed away. Taking notes 21: The dangerous dreams of Slavoj Žižek

(22) The austerity budgets in Europe and the US again puts a focus on the role of debt in our economy. The real problem, however, seems to be a failure to see the real relationship between debt and economic growth. And in this lies an issue of morality, as well as the root cause of climate change, increasing inequality, political conflict, and a host of other modern ills. Taking notes 22: The need for a debt strike (site specific)

(23) We ask: Where does architecture stand at present, in terms of its history? Are we still postmodern? What social and political tasks remain unfulfilled carried over from the twentieth century, in a world scattered with the ruins of modernity? Does the specter of modernism, still haunt contemporary building? How can architecture be responsibly practiced today? Is revolutionary architecture still even possible? Taking notes 23: Architecture: A social and political history since 1848

(24) If we focus only on the search for forms of communal life, then the danger is that we may end up becoming too comfortable within the current context. We may become either a cell that has adapted to the wider situation we began by opposing, or we may try to remove ourselves as much as possible from that situation. In either case, we give up on the revolutionary agenda, the desire and need to change the whole system itself. Taking notes 24: Why I am a Christian Communist (site specific)

(25) The future potential of movements in struggle will rely in part on the growing convergence, even symbiosis, of the cyber disobedients and the direct actionists of the streets. Even more important will be the grounding of this action and organizing in specific workplaces and neighborhoods in ways that challenge fundamentally relations and structures of ownership, control, and exploitation. Taking notes 25: On cyber syndicalism — from Hacktivism to Workers’ Control (site specific)

(26) ) The US may have a residue of $50 billion if no money continues to flow into its coffers: an amount that is small potatoes when it comes to a profligate country bent on waging war whenever it can. Part of the American military campaign is against its own people — the poor, the disabled, the elderly, the young, and against any serious attempts at education but always promoting fascist tendencies. This alone has made the US the greatest mockery of Democracy in human history. Taking notes 26: Revolution-in-waiting (site specific)

(27) The rise of Fascism is the Left’s failure: a proof that there was a revolutionary potential, dissatisfaction, which the Left was not able to mobilize. And does the same not hold for today’s so-called “Islamo-Fascism”? Is the rise of radical Islamism not exactly correlative to the disappearance of the secular Left in Muslim countries? Taking notes 27: Is there a method to Syrian madness (site specific)

(28) The thinking goes, there must be some limit on the amount of money created or it inflates and ultimately becomes worthless. Because it is hard to create, the supply of money has a natural limit that politics cannot alter. Or can it? After all, a community of human beings decided on the generating process and upper limit on the number of bitcoins, and that community could also change its mind. Taking notes 28: The next step for digital currency

(29) The reality of Economic Abundance is carefully censored and hidden, because it immediately raises the issue that people have the capacity and the tools to completely re-organize the economy to eliminate vast human suffering caused by poverty. It does not even cost very much. As the world economy lurches from crisis to crisis, it is time to accept that the system is on the way out. Taking notes 29: Abundance and Apocalypse

(30) Corporations are a carcinogen, a cancer that grows at the expense of the human body, both publicly and individually. As they unleash crisis after crisis, they are systematically destroying the institutions of society. That means we have no choice but to build new institutions that benefit the public in all directions. This will require a historic political battle that will heal humanity and the planet. Taking notes 30: Privatizing the brain

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(31) It is still difficult for those grappling to keep themselves and families together and sustain functional bank accounts to see that they are being bamboozled by the nanosecond. There is a consensus that you are meant to suffer, punish yourself and others to earn a living without being aware that the entire system is rigged against any sense of decency, humanity or ethics.  Taking notes 31: The wolf man, capital and fugazi (site specific)

(32) There is more at work here than the march toward privatization and the never-ending search for profits at any cost; there is the issue of wasteful spending on a bloated war machine, the refusal to tax fairly the rich and corporations, and the ongoing consolidation of class power in the hands of the 1 percent. Taking notes 32: Beyond neoliberal miseducation

(33) This is the real ethic of entitlement: the natural merits of the rich and powerful entitle them to stake out more of the nation’s wealth for themselves. It’s also the morality of the private atomistic self, a self that feels no obligations to others, but may still congratulate itself for being a job creator, one who raises the tide that lifts other boats. Taking notes 33: Budgets, values and visions

(34) No ruling class voluntarily gives up its power, particularly not at the hubris stage, when that power seems unassailable. The very power logic of accumulation – the need to strategically sabotage others in order to increase one’s own share of the total – forces capitalists to continue and dig their own graves, so to speak. Taking notes 34: The enlightened capitalist

(35) There has been no tradition for Anarchist activities in Singapore and if socialism is not well understood within the city-state, most think Anarchy to be ‘chaos.’ While the mention of democracy abounds and sometimes there is talk about socialism, the country does not have a grip on the thinking behind Anarchy. Taking notes 35: The symbol of Anarchy in Singapore (site specific)

(36) There is always interest before than after the revolution. We have a position that may be called ‘Before October,’ in which one’s whole mindset is determined by preparation for the revolution rather than what one does after gaining power. Less interest is shown in the more difficult tasks of constructing socialism after the revolution: Taking notes 36: Is China communist? (site specific)

(37) Thomas Piketty treads a fine line between using and keeping a distance from Marxian notions but the influence from the left is difficult to reject as it contextualizes his comments and analysis of socio-economic inequality in a manner reflective of key ideas of our time on socio-political control framed by Marxian ideas. Taking notes 37: Meritocracy, repression and Piketty’s apocalyptic asymptote (site specific)

(38) What we are witnessing in this brutal killing and mobilization of state violence is symptomatic of the neoliberal, racist, punishing state emerging all over the world, with its encroaching machinery of social death. The neoliberal killing machine is on the march globally. Taking notes 38: The Militarization of racism and neoliberal violence

(39) Instead of responding to crises with the desire to correct a wrong and reimagine a different future, all that appears to be left in American culture is the desire to merely survive in the face of endless representations of state and non-state violence. Taking notes 39: Beyond the spectacle of neoliberal misery and violence in the age of terrorism

(40) Social movements envision and seek to bring about fundamental change in the way society is reproduced. They seek to change government policy, institutional and organizational systems, or cultural norms and do not want society to be reproduced in its current form. Radical social movements see their problems as deeply rooted in the social order. Taking notes 40: The Radical Imagination: materials for struggle (site specific)

(41) How or why did economics as an important subject of inquiry into an understanding of social structures evolve into an apparently rigorous and technically elaborate discipline without much usefulness in the way of understanding or solving economic problems? Taking notes 41: Ideological foundations of neoclassical economics: class interests as “economic theory”

(42) Fear and terror are the organizing principles of a society in which the tyranny of the state has been replaced by the despotism of an unaccountable market and violence becomes the only valid form of control. The system has not failed, it is doing exactly what it is supposed to do. Taking notes 42: state terrorism and racist violence in the age of disposability

(43) Today, as then, public opinion is the omnipresent tyrant; today, as then, the majority represents a mass of cowards, willing to accept him who mirrors its own soul and mind poverty. I know so well that as a compact mass it has never stood for justice or equality. It has suppressed the human voice, subdued the human spirit, chained the human body. Taking notes 43: minorities versus majorities

(44) While the endeavor to achieve peace may often be frustrating, we should remember that nothing truly worthy can be achieved without effort. Peace and justice may be slow to arrive, but we will never obtain them without a struggle. Taking notes 44: Participatory spirituality: fostering peace, Inside and Out (site specific)

(45) What Lenin and his Bolsheviks failed to do, Singapore achieved with its state capitailsm. Contrary to what critics and others may say, this achievement was fundamentally correct if the country was to ever be in a position to then transform itself into an advanced socialist economy. Taking notes 45: Singapore radical: Lee Kuan Yew (site specific)

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(46) Sabotage, restraint, hindrance, for capital, reflects a measure of power—to control flows of capital for the benefit of capital. Sabotage by the working class represents something of an opposite nature—the loss of control by capital. It signifies an incapacity for regulating flows for the benefit of capital. Taking notes 46: Reflections on sabotage: theirs and ours (site specific)

(47) Why serve a country that doesn’t serve you? Why pledge allegiance to a nation that has still not demonstrated allegiance to Black people — even those who serve it? Black service members salute and pledge an oath of loyalty to a country that does not protect them after they have protected it. Taking notes 47: Black Americans and the military: this country is not to die for

(48) Police harassment is integral to domestic terrorism in which blacks are beaten, arrested, incarcerated, and killed. This is the new totalitarianism of the boot-in-your-face racism, one in which the punishing state is the central institution for both controlling poor minorities of race and class and enforcing the rules of the financial elite.  Taking notes 48: America’s new brutalism: the death of Sandra Bland

(49) Today we face not merely a climate crisis but a multidimensional one whose diverse facets intersect and reinforce each other. Its root cause is moral and spiritual. It stems from distortions in our most fundamental perceptions and values that infiltrate our social systems thereby driving predatory political, social, and economic policies. Taking notes 49: Climate change: a moral call to social transformation (site specific)

(50) The controlling elite view schools as dangerous to their interests. For the financial elite, right-wing ideologues and billionaires public education must be defunded, broken and privatized because it contains the potential to educate young people to question authority and hold it accountable, and produce critically engaged citizens. Taking notes 50: Schools as punishing factories: the handcuffing of public education

(51) Mobility, in the empty language of sound bites, becomes the cure-all for racism in America. All poor blacks have to do is move to a better neighborhood. Missing is any understanding of the economic, political and social forces creating few opportunities in inner cities and how difficult it is to move without resources. Taking notes 51: Dark waters: Katrina and the politics of disposability

(52) While philosophers will be motivated by concrete political evaluations of the relative legitimacy of conflicting positions, they must ground their political assessments in the deeper understanding of human self-making activity such that the underlying humanity of all parties to any conflict is made clear. Taking notes 52: Philosophy and understanding Paris and the on-going crisis: 10 theses

(53) Donald Trump’s comments form a discourse of hate, bigotry and exclusion, that are expressions of racism and fascism which resonate deeply in a landscape of US culture and politics crafted by 40 years of conservative counterrevolution. Taking notes 53: The fascism of Donald Trump’s America

(54) The Fed has turned monetary policy into an instrument of further enriching the rich. Monetary policy has effectively turned into a means of redistribution from the bottom up. This is no speculation or conspiracy theory: redistributive effects of the Fed policies in favor of the financial oligarchy are backed by undeniable facts and figures. Taking notes 54: Who owns the Federal Reserve Bank and why is it shrouded in myths and mysteries?

(55) The global economy depends on a compliant labor force, in both the Global North and the Global South. When workers live in fear of forming unions, companies can easily fire workers or cut wages and benefits without having to worry about strikes, sit-ins, or labor regulations. They also work at the whims of their employer. Taking notes 55: how mass deportation sustains global apartheid (site specific)

(56) The call for transformative hope is where religious faith and ethical idealism come in. Religions can act as agents of intolerance and violence. But at their best they can inspire and sustain us in our quest for a solution. They hold before us the vision of the kind of world we should be working to create, and they tell us that the task of creating that world rests with ourselves. Taking notes 56: On hope and hype: reflections on a New Year’s tradition (site specific)

(57) Some justify Trump’s racism as representative of  a working class populist backlash against neoliberalism but deem irrelevant whether this backlash embraces an American form of fascism, ultra-nationalism, bigotry, religious fundamentalism and other anti-democratic attitudes. Taking notes 57: Liberal commentators who are apologists for Trump’s racism

(58) Critical thinking is not the ability to solve problems within the established parameters of social, economic, political, aesthetic, and intellectual-scientific life. If the problem lies with the established rules, then confining critical thinking to “problem solving” always serves the status quo. Taking notes 58: For the love of thinking: eleven theses

(59) The need for resistance has become urgent. The struggle is not over specific institutions such as higher education or democratic procedures such as elections but over what it means to get to the root of the problems facing the United States and to draw more people into subversive actions modeled after historical struggles and contemporary movements. Taking notes 59: radical politics in the age of American authoritarianism

(60) Public school teachers and higher education faculty are a national treasure and may be one of the last defenses available to undermine a growing authoritarianism, pervasive racism, permanent war culture, widening inequality and debased notion of citizenship in US society. Taking notes 60: why teachers matter in dark times

(61) Ali taught a generation of young kids that their deficits were actually their strengths, that is, a sense of solidarity, compassion, a merging of the mind and the body, learning, and willingness to take risks, embracing passion, connecting knowledge to power, and being attentive to the injuries of others while embracing a sense of social justice. Taking notes 61: Muhammad Ali was a freedom fighter not a celebrity

(62) Not only does America have lax gun laws, it is time for people to finally admit that their country’s penchant for violence as a form of entertainment, way of life, and national policy—is at the core of so much of the murders that plague their society. Taking notes 62: America is a death-driven state (site specific)

(63) What is also forgotten by many is the racist legacy of policies implemented by the Democratic Party that have resulted in a punitive culture of criminalization, incarceration and shooting of untold numbers of Black people. Taking notes 63 : Differences between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump

(64) The upcoming US presidential election is not only about fear and what you hate most–it also presents a moral conundrum. The cornerstone of the argument that Clinton’s backers run in support of her is why choosing the lesser evil is a necessity. Taking notes 64: America’s chance for moral courage (site specific)

(65) There may be some adjustment by Trump to assuage those upset and those whose hobby it is to rant. But that may be about it. Things will continue as usual till one generation of youth, sooner than later—will understand that they have been given the death penalty globally through climate change. Taking notes 65: Trump’s triumph: what more can be done?  (site specific)

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John Weeks: The mainstream of the economics profession, “neoclassical economics,” claims profound knowledge, yet provides understanding of almost nothing and obscures almost everything by peddling ideology in the guise of analysis. The profession practices and promotes pseudo-science. Capitalist economics and the economics of Capital (site specific)

Danny Weil: (1) Meaningful education reform would embrace the value of equity, the belief that we might not all be equal but we should have equal opportunities to fulfill what it means to be human. Understanding the need for citizens to participate in power must be part of any moral underpinnings for meaningful educational debate if we are to proceed as a species. Zombie functionalism and the return of neo-instrumentality in education (site specific)

(2) Advocacy philanthropy works to secure the privatization of education, the destruction of public governance of educational decision making, the creation of school-to-work factories and testing centers, and the domination and wholesale monopolization of the $650 billion dollar industry that is now education. Advocacy philanthropy and the leveraged buy-out of public schools — Part 1 (site specific)

(3) Inside the financial rentier system of capitalist development within which we are forced to live, it is through surplus value on a collective scale that profit is derived. The question is when will we come together as a conscious force and realize that without human labor, there would be no advocacy philanthropists or profit. Advocacy philanthropy and the leveraged buy-out of public schools — Part 2 (site specific)

(4) The social and economic implications of the current debt crisis exposes the institutional crisis of financial capitalism, along with the profit maximizing firms, hucksters and hustlers responsible for shepherding higher education into the grimy hands of the rentier class. Wall Street not only produces a debt economy, but buys and sells student loan asset backed securities using pension funds fueling debt enslavement. Student loans: The financialized economy of indentured servitude

Richard J. White: We need to completely isolate, deconstruct and delegitimise capitalist indoctrination and move confidently beyond. We must confront invasive and invidious strains of economic propaganda that play upon people’s fears and vulnerability through insisting that alternative forms of economic-political visions are, at best, utopian; or, at worst — nihilist. Towards a post-Occupy world (site specific)

Patrick Wills: (1) In America institutional racism has replaced the racism of the civil rights era and created an ideology of ‘colorblind racism’ perceived as ‘racism lite.’ But it shrouds itself in ideology to maintain white privilege. The system itself justifies the morality of its own racist underpinnings by rendering itself as ethical and incapable of being unethical. Violence, ideology and the aims of society (site specific)

(2) In every part of our life from public to private and in the way we interact with others or the environment, we are interconnected within the capitalist machine. This in effect reduces us into machines and cogs within the capitalist machine. So every business, transaction, interaction and each person is a means to the ends of capitalism. Capitalism and the efficacy of education reform (site specific)

Ross Wolfe: (1) We ask: Where does architecture stand at present, in terms of its history? Are we still postmodern? What social and political tasks remain unfulfilled carried over from the twentieth century, in a world scattered with the ruins of modernity? Does the specter of modernism, still haunt contemporary building? How can architecture be responsibly practiced today? Is revolutionary architecture still even possible? Taking notes 23: Architecture: A social and political history since 1848

(2) In a “future” installment (assuming there even is one) it will be necessary to write the history of the future. Not simply to catalogue them as relics for display in the museum of the past, but rather as forgotten premonitions of the world that might still someday come. Not as a passing fancy of the present or a fleeting source of amusement in an unchanging world — but as a reminder to all that this world can be changed. Memories of the future

(3) Postcolonial and postmodernist politics never aspired to anything more than “resistance” to a seemingly all-powerful system of neoliberalism and globalization. Such is the genealogy of “resistance” on the Left. The real efficacy of such resistance is difficult to ascertain. Some Marxian theorists have suggested that politics based on resistance is often unwittingly complicit with the very systems they purport to resist. Reflections on resistance, reform, and revolution

Richard D. Wolff: (1) Western Europe, North America and Japan are stuck in a longer, deeper crisis than almost anyone expected. Millions have left the labor force. Wages, benefits and job security are declining; the so-called “middle classes” are evaporating. Having promised “recoveries,” desperate governments inject massive new quantities of money into their economies. Marxian Economics vs Capitalism

(2) Video presentation by R.D. Wolff (2015). ‘The game is rigged,’

Zoltan Zigedy: (1) Capitalism as a remedy for our problems comes with great human cost. This can be seen in what is happening in the US and Europe. Sacrifice and suffering is not an unintended result of the crisis, it is viewed as the solution to the crisis. It is a corrupt, cruel, and bankrupt ideology that embraces such a solution. Marxism: Dead or alive? (site specific)

(2) Austerity at its heart its both an economic mechanism to restore and expand profitability and an expression of the economic dominance of financial markets. It emanates from a source deep inside the capitalist system. We need to dimantle this system that only concentrates greater and greater wealth into fewer and fewer hands. Getting serious about politics

(3) Within the insular bubble of rights-based moral calculation, asymmetries of power, wealth, or development count for nothing. The rural guerrilla in sandals and armed with a rifle must respect the same etiquette of war as the foreign interloper astride a 70-ton tank. In the strange universe of the human rights industry, it doesn’t matter whether a regime’s opponents are paid by the CIA or patriotically motivated; their rights to dissent have equal legitimacy. Taking notes 7: Human Rights or Imperial Partnership?

(4) Marx’s strict methodological commitment to the historical method, his consistent search for the social determinants of human institutions and conventions explain his brief encounters and dismissive attitude toward human rights. He saw them as artifacts of the bourgeoisie and as a dominant social force in the modern era. Human rights slogans, codes, and constitutions were tools for unshackling and promoting the ruling class and its world view. Human Rights: A Marxian perspective (site specific)

(5) Social scientists must scramble to explain when inequality is receding and not when it is on the rise. Expanding inequality is the historical commonplace; shrinking inequality is the historical aberration. Perhaps nothing underscores this more than the claim that at no time has the bottom half of society owned more than 5% of a society’s wealth. Reading Thomas Piketty: A critical essay (site specific)

(6) American military might exists as the international police force for imperial maintenance and expansion. The difference is that the US variant of imperialism chooses the option of planting military installations throughout the world like the cavalry outposts of Western lore rather than incur the infrastructure and administration costs of Old World colonialism. The ‘new’ imperialism (site specific)

Slavoj Žižek: (1) The new emancipatory politics will no longer be the act of a particular social agent, but an explosive combination of different agents. What unites us is that, in contrast to the classic image of proletarians who have ‘nothing to lose but their chains’, we are in danger of losing everything. We need to begin again

(2) The rise of Fascism is the Left’s failure: a proof that there was a revolutionary potential, dissatisfaction, which the Left was not able to mobilize. And does the same not hold for today’s so-called “Islamo-Fascism”? Is the rise of radical Islamism not exactly correlative to the disappearance of the secular Left in Muslim countries? Taking notes 27: Is there a method to Syrian madness (site specific)