(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Communism

“All ancient books which have once been called sacred by man will have their lasting place in the history of mankind”*…

In 1999, Santa Cruz, California software engineer John Bruno Hare founded what he hoped would become “a quiet place in cyberspace”…

Welcome to the largest freely available archive of online books about religion, mythology, folklore, and the esoteric on the Internet… Texts are presented in English translation and, where possible, in the original language…

This site has no particular agenda other than promoting religious tolerance and scholarship. Views expressed at this site are solely those of specific authors, and are not endorsed by sacred-texts. Sacred-texts is not sponsored by any religious group or organzation.

This site strives to produce the best possible transcriptions of public domain texts on the subject of religion, mythology, folklore and the esoteric. The texts are posted for free access on the Internet. This site is like a public library: it is accessible to anyone, contains unfiltered information, and does not advocate any particular point of view. However, nobody is going to shush you if you make too much noise while using this site…

Sacred texts is one of the top 20,000 sites on the web based on site traffic, consistently one of the top 10,000 sites in Australia, the US and India, and is one of the top 5 most visited general religion sites (source: Alexa.com)…

Spirituality in all of its shapes: The Internet Scared Text Archive.

* “All ancient books which have once been called sacred by man will have their lasting place in the history of mankind; and those who possess the courage, the perseverance, and the self-denial of the true miner, and of the true scholar, will find even in the darkest and dustiest shafts what they are seeking for–real nuggets of thought, and precious jewels of faith and hope.” – Max Müller, Introduction to the Upanishads Vol. II

###

As we delve into the devotional, we might recall that it was on this date in 1848 that a document that isn’t in the Sacred Text Archive, but that is arguably apposite, was published– a political pamphlet by the German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto.  Commissioned by the Communist League and written in German, it appeared as the Revolutions of 1848 began to erupt.  Subsequently, of course, Marx elaborated on his argument (with Engel’s help, after Marx’s death) in Das Kapital.

150px-Communist-manifesto
Cover of the first edition

source

“Political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness…. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them.”*…

Mental models can be helpful, but they can also obscure as much as they reveal…

“The era of big government is over,” then-US President Bill Clinton proclaimed in 1996. But President Joe Biden’s multi-trillion-dollar spending plans are suggesting precisely the opposite. Behind the politicians stand the policy gurus, eager to put their names on – as the fashionable phrase goes – a new “policy paradigm.”

Paradigm-peddlers have not yet settled on a single label for the post-pandemic era, but frothy ideas abound. Countries should “build back better,” but only after a “great reset.” Economic growth used to be a pretty good thing on its own; these days, it is unmentionable in polite company unless it is “inclusive, equitable, and sustainable.” (I can see why, but must all three adjectives always be strung together?)

Harvard University’s Dani Rodrik was right to argue recently that we should beware of economists bearing policy paradigms. Such frameworks are supposed to organize thinking, but more often than not they substitute for it.

Consider a paradigm that the pandemic is supposed to have killed: neoliberalism. Neoliberal once meant a particular approach to free-market economics. Applying the description to leaders like Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan made some sense. But in current parlance, the term also applies to former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, and the social democrats who have governed Chile for 24 of the last 30 years – in fact, to anyone who thinks markets have some role to play in human affairs.

Through repeated, careless use, neoliberal has now become one of those words that, as George Orwell said, “are strictly meaningless, in the sense that they not only do not point to any discoverable object, but are hardly even expected to do so by the reader.”

But meaningless is not the same as useless. If a speaker at an academic seminar, policy conference, or cocktail party tars someone as a neoliberal, two messages are immediately clear: the speaker is good, and the target is bad, unconcerned with the plight of the downtrodden. Tarring someone with this particular epithet is virtue-signaling par excellence. It marks the speaker as a member of a progressive tribe concerned about the world’s poor.

The right has its own ideological identity markers. In the debate about Obamacare and health insurance in the United States, or about vouchers for school funding anywhere, anyone claiming to support “freedom of choice” is not just making a point, but also sending a signal.

Both freedom and choice have multiple meanings that philosophers have been debating at least since classical Greek times: freedom to or freedom from? Choice to do what? Is someone with little money or education really “free to choose,” as the Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman used to say? In fact, today’s freedom-of-choice advocates probably do not want to pursue those ancient and endless debates; they are simply signaling their membership in the ideological free-market tribe.

As the world seeks to ensure recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, simplistic political and economic ideologies will not lead to effective policymaking. Rodrik rightly pines for economic thinking that is unbeholden to cliché or to narrow identity politics. As he says, “The right answer to any policy question in economics is, ‘It depends.’” Circumstances matter, and the devil is in the details. 

I want the same thing as Rodrik, but you can’t always get what you want. Because nowadays (at least outside Trumpian circles) identities based on race or religion are unacceptable, ideologies have become the last refuge of the identity-seeking and politically savvy scoundrel, and new economic paradigms the weapon of choice…

In the old joke, a man walks into a psychiatrist’s office and says, “Doctor, my brother’s crazy! He thinks he’s a chicken.” The doctor says, “Why don’t you bring him to me?” And the man replies, “I would, but I need the eggs.” 

Political ideologies can be crazy, and those who peddle them often behave like chickens. But how we crave those eggs…

Simplistic political and economic ideologies that serve as identity markers will not lead to effective policymaking; but something in human psychology makes many crave them anyway: “The Perils of Paradigm Economics,” from Andrés Velasco (@AndresVelasco).

[image above: source]

* George Orwell, Politics and the English Language

###

As we acknowledge nuance, we might send qualified birthday greetings to Sidney James Webb; he was born on this date in 1859. An economist, he was an early member of the Fabian Society (joining, like George Bernard Shaw, three months after its founding). He co-founded the London School of Economics (where Andrés Velasco is currently Dean of the School of Public Policy), and wrote the original, pro-nationalisation Clause IV for the British Labour Party.

A committed socialist, Webb and his wife Beatrice were staunch supporters of the Soviet Union and its communist program. Ignoring the mounting evidence of atrocities in the USSR in favor of their commitment to the concept of collectivism, they wrote Soviet Communism: A New Civilisation? (1935) and The Truth About Soviet Russia (1942), both positive assessments of Stalin’s regime. The Trotskyist historian Al Richardson later described Soviet Communism: A New Civilization? as “pure Soviet propaganda at its most mendacious.”

source

“A murderer is less loathsome to us than a spy”*…

 

If You See Something, Say Something

Here are a few suggestions of what Americans can report to the FBI:

1. Any information about espionage, sabotage, and subversive activities. The FBI is as close to every person as the nearest telephone. See the front of any telephone book for the FBI’s number.

2. Don’t worry if the information seems incomplete or trivial. Many times a small bit of information might furnish the data we are seeking.

3. Stick to the facts. The FBI is not interested in rumor or idle gossip. Talebearing should always be avoided. The FBI is not interested in what a person thinks but what he does to undermine our national security.

4. Don’t try to do any investigating yourself. Security investigations require great care and effort. The innocent must be protected as well as the guilty identified. That is the job for the professional investigator. Hysteria, witch-hunts, and vigilantes weaken our internal security.

5. Be alert. America’s best defense lies in the alertness of its patriotic citizens.

The atmosphere of aggressive concern– if not paranoia– over “foreign” threats that’s so pervasive today is, in fact, nothing new.  The passage above is an excerpt from J. Edgar Hoover’s 1958 opus Masters of Deceit, which combined a flaming warning of the Communist threat with a painfully-specific how-to manual for combating it.

MoD was required reading for countless junior high school students across the U.S.– inclusding your correspondent, for whom it was the text in a six-week “special unit” on Communism, mandated by the Florida State Department of Education.

[via Lapham’s Quarterly]

* Honoré de Balzac

###

As we watch both our borders and our backs, we might recall that it was on this date in 1950 that a US Navy Privateer with 10 people on board flew from Wiesbaden, West Germany, to spy over the Soviet Union. Soviet reconnaissance spotted the plane over Latvia. and Soviet La-11 fighters shot down it down just off the coast, over the Baltic Sea.

A U.S. Navy Privateer in flight

source

 

Written by (Roughly) Daily

April 8, 2017 at 1:01 am

“Nobody knows what a dollar is, what the word means, what holds the thing up, what it stands in for… what the hell are they? What do they do? How do they do it?”*…

From this website QuiltBank, a “subsidiary” of master quilter Nina Paley’s Pale Gray Labs, money– a $1000 “bill”– that one can actually use

Each individually numbered bill is lovingly stitched by our robot Behemoth, which labors for over eight continuous hours at up to 1500 stitches per minute. Slowed down by the many twists and turns of the design, along with thread breaks, bobbin changes, and mysterious mishaps, each bill takes about two days to stitch. Nonetheless we achieve a pattern far more complex than any commercially available quilt.

BindingThe individual bills are painstakingly bound by Nina Paley, using a hundred-year-old foot-powered treadle sewing machine. This soft and tactile bill contains over 360,000 stitches through 100% cotton fabric, lofted with quality polyester batting – the best type for this purpose, though cotton or wool can be used on request. QuiltMoney can be machine washed like any other quilt; this is known as money laundering. 

The design is based on a 1934-series $1000 bill featuring the portrait of Grover Cleveland, the only US president to serve two non-consecutive terms…Each $1000 bill is 40 inches high by 90 inches wide (3’4″ x 7’6″, or 1m x 2.3m) with bound edges. A rare uncut sheet of two is 92″ square, suitable for use on a queen or king size bed. 

More at QuiltMoney.

* Boggs, (“money artist,” quoted in Lawrence Weschler’s wonderful Boggs: A Comedy of Values)

###

As we cozy up with our currency, we might send rebellious birthday greetings to Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin; he was born on this date in 1814 (as recorded, O.S., in Russia; it is also rendered, N.S., May 30).  A student of philosophy who immersed himself in Hegel, Bakunin moved to Paris, where he became first a friend, then an antagonist of Marx.  While Bakunin shared Marx’s dedication to justice for peasants and workers, he disagreed that acting through the State was the remedy.  Rather, Bakunin, an anarcho-socialist, argued for the replacement of the state with federations of self-governing workplaces and communes.  Their rivalry came to a climax at the 1872 Hague Congress, at which Marx and his supporters expelled Bakunin and his from the International Workingmen’s Association (IWA).  Bakunin then held a rival conference, and recruited a larger faction of IWA members than Marx.  In the end, of course, while Bakunin was right to predict that Marxist regimes would be one-party dictatorships over the proletariat, not of the proletariat, it was Marx’s approach that enthralled Lenin.

Bakunin argued that, post-collectivization, money should be replaced by labor notes, recompense for work democratically-determined according to time spent and difficulty; still, he would surely have approved of Paley’s hand-crafted currency.

 source

Written by (Roughly) Daily

May 18, 2014 at 1:01 am

%d bloggers like this: