ken hanly | 1 Jan 08:16 2011

Re: Korean developments

   I understood that the maritime border was drawn not by the U.S. but the UN 
Command although no doubt with some helpful U.S. encouragement.

Happy NEw Year...ken

----- Original Message ----
From: Marty Hart-Landsberg <marty@...>
To: pen-l@...
Sent: Fri, December 31, 2010 3:43:13 PM
Subject: [Pen-l] Korean developments

Those interested in recent developments on the Korean peninsula might 
find the following useful,

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(Continue reading)

Marty Hart-Landsberg | 1 Jan 17:53 2011

Re: Korean developments

Actually the U.S. was the UN command.  When the UN voted to intervene in 
the Korean War it was after the U.S. had already decided to act.  
Therefore the UN ended up voting to pledge its member country support 
(including troops) to the US effort.  As a consequence the UN lost all 
independent control over the conduct of the war.  In other words, there 
was no independent UN command.

Truman appointed who he wanted to run the war and the U.S. pursued its 
own strategy under the flag of the UN.  The UN itself had no control 
over US decisions.  It was a US operation dressed up as a UN operation.


On 12/31/2010 11:16 PM, ken hanly wrote:
>     I understood that the maritime border was drawn not by the U.S. but the UN
> Command although no doubt with some helpful U.S. encouragement.
> Happy NEw Year...ken
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(Continue reading)

Gar Lipow | 1 Jan 22:17 2011

French Resistance hero calls for public to get angry, son of "Catherine" ("Jules and Jim")

"Behind an unlikely bestseller, a fierce political conscience"

>Stéphane Hessel’s wildly popular new book “Indignez-vous !” is a rallying cry for French masses
to combat social, political, and economic injustices. takes a look at the man behind this
unlikely bestseller.

>There’s a new book topping the bestseller list in France, and it’s not a Swedish thriller, a vampire
novel, the tale of a teenage wizard, or even the latest from much-hyped French Goncourt prize winner
Michel Houellebecq.

>Rather, the current toast of the literary world is Stéphane Hessel, a 93-year-old former resistance
member and diplomat, whose 13-page political essay called “Indignez-vous !” (or “Get
indignant!”) has sold a whopping 600,000 copies since it hit shelves last October.

>The book, which was released by Indigène -- a tiny publishing house based in the south of France -- and is on
sale for an uncommonly cheap 3 euros, is a call for the French population to get angry about the injustices
of modern society. Amid widespread disillusionment with the policies of centre-right French President
Nicolas Sarkozy, the text could become a rallying cry for the French left as it braces itself to challenge
the incumbent in the 2012 presidential election. Hessel, for his part, is a vocal supporter of Socialist
Party head Martine Aubry.

OK Question for those who know France: Is she Mitterand with tits, or
something a bit better than that?

>Hessel was born in Berlin in 1917 to a Jewish family that converted partly to Protestantism. His parents,
painter Helen and writer Franz, were said to be inspirations for two of the three lead characters in
“Jules et Jim”, an autobiographical novel about a love triangle written by their friend
(Continue reading)

Louis Proyect | 1 Jan 22:20 2011

Reflections of a baby boomer

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Technically speaking, I am not a baby boomer but feel qualified to say a
word or two about the article "Boomers Hit New Self-Absorption Milestone:
Age 65" that appears in today’s NY Times. It was written by Dan Barry, a
character I had a run-in with back in 2006 when he wrote a stupid attack
on “squeegee” men, the intrusive beggars that persuaded so many Manhattan
liberals like Barry to vote for Giuliani.

The article defines baby boomers as those who turn 65 in January. Born on
January 26, 1945 I have my 66th birthday to look forward to. When I was
born, my father was over in Belgium dodging Nazi bullets in the Battle of
the Bulge. When he returned, I was 6 months old and something of a
challenge to him. They say that when a father is not around for a child’s
birth, he is likely to feel more remote. Not having more than 15 minutes
conversation with dad in my entire life, I imagine that this was true in
our case.

The article is focused on how my generation is hitting the brick wall of
old age:

"This means that the 79 million baby boomers, about 26 percent of this
country’s population, will be redefining what it means to be older, and
placing greater demands on the social safety net. They are living longer,
working longer and, researchers say, nursing some disappointment about how
their lives have turned out. The self-aware, or self-absorbed, feel less
self-fulfilled, and thus are racked with self-pity.

(Continue reading)

Louis Proyect | 2 Jan 15:10 2011

Public workers face crackdown

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(These 2 articles festooned the NY Times front page today, one on the left
side and the other on the right. It could not be more obvious that a
union-busting attack is being planned that will sorely test the
"leadership" of AFSCME et al.)

January 1, 2011
Public Workers Facing Outrage as Budget Crises Grow

FLEMINGTON, N.J. — Ever since Marie Corfield’s confrontation with Gov.
Chris Christie this fall over the state’s education cuts became a YouTube
classic, she has received a stream of vituperative e-mails and Facebook

“People I don’t even know are calling me horrible names,” said Ms.
Corfield, an art teacher who had pleaded the case of struggling teachers.
“The mantra is that the problem is the unions, the unions, the unions.”

Across the nation, a rising irritation with public employee unions is
palpable, as a wounded economy has blown gaping holes in state, city and
town budgets, and revealed that some public pension funds dangle
perilously close to bankruptcy. In California, New York, Michigan and New
Jersey, states where public unions wield much power and the culture
historically tends to be pro-labor, even longtime liberal political
leaders have demanded concessions — wage freezes, benefit cuts and tougher
work rules.
(Continue reading)

mckenna193 | 2 Jan 17:39 2011

Good Giroux radio interview on Zombie Politics

The Progressive Radio News Hour - 12/25/10
December 29, 2010
Gary Null
Download this episode (right click and save)
Henry Giroux holds the Global TV Network Chair Professorship at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. His books include "The University in Chains," "Against the Terror of Neoliberalism," "Youth in a Suspect Society," and his newest titled, "Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism."
His newest book will be discussed at a time America's aristocracy is more than ever empowered.
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Louis Proyect | 2 Jan 18:19 2011

Big surprise: the rich lack empathy

Rule #1: YOU MUST clip all extraneous text when replying to a message.

NY Times December 30, 2010
As for Empathy, the Haves Have Not

THE GIST The rich don’t get how the other half lives.

THE SOURCE “Social Class, Contextualism, and Empathic Accuracy,” by
Michael W. Kraus, Stéphane Côté and Dacher Keltner, Psychological Science.

ARE the upper classes really indifferent to the hopes, fears and miseries
of ordinary folk? Or is it that they just don’t understand their less
privileged peers?

According to a paper by three psychological researchers — Michael W.
Kraus, at the University of California, San Francisco; Stéphane Côté, at
the University of Toronto; and Dacher Keltner, the University of
California, Berkeley — members of the upper class are less adept at
reading emotions.

Research on psychological effects of social status is recent in this
country, where the mere mention of class can set off Marxism alarms. “Only
in the last seven or eight years have we tried to capture all the nuances
of differences between the ways the rich and the poor experience the world
psychologically,” Dr. Keltner said. “It’s a really new science.”

The paper, published in October by the Association for Psychological
Science, recounts three experiments conducted among students and employees
of a large (unidentified) public university, some of whom had graduated
from college and others who had not. In American social science, the
definition of class is generally based on measures like income,
occupational prestige and material wealth. In these experiments, class was
determined either by educational level or by self-reported perceptions of
family socioeconomic status.

In the first experiment, participants were asked to look at pictures of
faces and indicate which emotions were being expressed. The more upper
class the judges, the less able they were to accurately identify emotions
in others.

In another experiment, upper-class participants had a harder time reading
the emotions of strangers during simulated job interviews.

In the third one — an interesting twist of an experiment — people of
greater socioeconomic status were asked to compare themselves to the
wealthiest, most powerful Americans, thus diminishing their own relative
stature. When asked to identify emotions by looking at 36 sets of emoting
eyes, they did markedly better than their upper-class peers.

Here’s why: Earlier studies have suggested that those in the lower
classes, unable to simply hire others, rely more on neighbors or relatives
for things like a ride to work or child care. As a result, the authors
propose, they have to develop more effective social skills — ones that
will engender good will.

“Upper-class people, in spite of all their advantages, suffer empathy
deficits,” Dr. Keltner said. “And there are enormous consequences.” In
other words, a high-powered lawyer or chief executive, ill equipped to
pick up on more-subtle emotions, doesn’t make for a sympathetic boss.

In an apocryphal but oft-cited exchange, Hemingway supposed the rich to be
different only because they had more money. But, as Fitzgerald rather
presciently wrote in his story “Rich Boy,” because the wealthy “possess
and enjoy early, it does something to them,” surmising, “They are
different from you and me.” Score one for Scott.

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Leonardo Kosloff | 2 Jan 18:31 2011

Knowing capital today, Using Capital critically

Hi, I rarely post on this list but I wanted to let you know about a book I’m (very slowly) translating by Juan Iñigo Carrera. Juan worked as a public accountant for many years, and teaches in the University of Buenos Aires.

Below is the first part of the Preface (which I have yet to finish).

Perhaps you’ve heard of Guido Starosta who is one of the editors of Historical Materialism (the journal), who closely works with Juan. I think the book is a great -with no authoritarian underpinnings- pedagogical tool. I’d be very interested in hearing your thoughts about it, and I’d appreciate in particular any corrections in grammar or diction. It’s very hard to sum up Juan’s work in a few lines but I added some comments below.

Lastly, it'd be great if you could share this as well, I know about the list OPE-L but I don't have reach to it. Thanks.

The aim of the book, as I see it, is to delve into the question of what the role of Capital (which Marx intended to be “the first scientific victory of the working class”) is as a tool to produce a scientific consciousness wherein lies the revolutionary subjectivity of the working class.

For now, only the first three chapters are finished. Here you will find a very direct argument which exposes the ideological character of the empty abstractions of neoclassical economics and classical political economy, among others; some of which have been and are still being adopted uncritically by many Marxists, no less than to dogmatically dismiss the real determinations of the value-form of the material product of labor. More generally, it is a very straightforward yet lucid illustration of how economic theory has to eliminate any trace of human consciousness as grounded in its social being, and this in order to impose the ideological inversion of an abstract consciousness with no other determinations than the naturalized whims of a free will, which lacking an objective knowledge of the conditions from which its freedom arises is condemned to remain an illusory chimera.

Personally, what I found most valuable is that Juan does not lecture the reader on Capital, or the various interpretations of it. As Juan explains further in the book, the point is not to take any of Marx’s assertions as postulates or assumptions, not to interpret Marx, but rather to *use* Capital as a tool to develop one’s own critical appropriation of their general social relation, capital. The fact is that one needs to know what capital is, a necessity which capital begets by itself, and this is the starting point of the investigation, as was also the starting point when Marx set out his investigation of the commodity in the outlines of the Paris Manuscripts of 1844. In this sense, Juan’s book is not a reading of Capital, but his own critical investigation in order to account for this necessity, which, of course, uses Capital to help his and hopefully one’s own investigation.

Capital is thus a key political tool in the development of the organization of the working class, for only an action which can account for its own necessity can be a truly scientific basis upon which individuals may build a society of freely, that is, consciously, associated producers.

With no further ado, here is the link to the webpage where you can download the chapters in .pdf format:

You can also find other essays in English in the website, for example, this is Juan’s take on what happened during the political crisis in Argentina in 2001 which appeared in the journal Historical Materialism:

Any corrections or suggestions to my English will be appreciated.



The question

To read Capital? The mere question evokes difficulty, complexity, contradiction. Was there not someone who began writing a book “to read Capital”, boasting that he had not read it wholly, and closed the vicious circle writing the prologue for an edition of Capital where he imperatively recommended to begin by skipping the whole first section of the work?

Proposals of abridged readings rain down on us before the complexity of the question. There is the author who proposes that we “read Capital politically”. The one who considers his reading a “philosopher’s reading”.  The one who proposes to leave out anything that does not concern “ethical foundations”. Of course, there is no scarcity of authors who read it as a text of “political economy”. There is even the author who proposes to read it with the indiscreetness implied by not having a concrete question other than “seeing what is in there”. But, are not politics, economics, ethics, philosophy, all of them social forms, social relations, which unity cannot be split without mutilating the content of each one of them?

Is it then a question of interpreting the text in its unity? Will the solution perhaps be to face the reading with the intention of interpreting the world by interpreting Marx? This does not seem to be a clear way out of the problem. In the first place, there are those who threaten us with inevitably falling into “the most vulgar interpretation of the theory of value, which directly contradicts Marx’s theory” if we literally abide by the text written by him. But, above all, how do we overlook the absolute contradiction set out by Marx between interpreting the world and changing it?

If we refuse to interpret the text, how are we to confront it? Will we attain an objective perspective of it if we follow the recognized precept of looking in it for its “Logic (in capitals)”? But then, what will we do with Marx’s explicit rejection to operate through the development of logical contradictions, since logic is “alienated thinking, and therefore thinking which abstracts from nature and from real man”?

Would it not be better to listen to those who say that it is not very useful to read it because it is “a model” which corresponds to nineteenth century England but that it is not “applicable” to, for example, modern Argentina? Further, does not the scientific community consider démodé and obsolete any text after a handful of years of its publication against the speed with which reality changes?

But then what? Are we to leave out the text and begin an independent development from zero on our own? We would hardly progress beyond re-discovering gunpowder this way. Although, it would doubtless be worse to follow those who propose that we read Capital in order to “believe with Marx” in the existence of this or that social relation.

To come out of all these convolutions we do not have at this stage any recourse other than going back to the beginning. And what if stop looking at Capital as an object for us to read and rather establish our necessity to read it, up to this moment simply present from the beginning as an immediate condition, as the object which Capital is to account for? But, in that case, it would not be a question of reading it anymore but of using it to answer for our own necessity. Thus, our starting point cannot be other than confronting the determinations that our necessity to use Capital immediately presents us with in the process of producing our own consciousness. And in this way the first question which is at stake is the very form of our process of production of knowledge. It is there then, where we will begin.

Cognition and Recognition…

This is the second part which I should finish in a few days. Here Juan deals with the form of the process of knowledge mentioned above and talks about what the role of the dialectical method in Marx is in it. There is also an essay by Guido Starosta -who works closely with Juan- published by the journal Science and Society, ‘The Commodity-Form and the Dialectical Method’, which also deals with this question particularly regarding Marx’s presentation in the beginning of Capital.

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Julio Huato | 2 Jan 18:44 2011


My latest blog post:

I don't have a chance now to revive it for serious, but I couldn't
resist this for the time being.
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Sandwichman | 2 Jan 19:44 2011

Re: Austerity


Your first link goes to the wikipedia entry on the military budget instead of the NY Times article.

On Sun, Jan 2, 2011 at 9:44 AM, Julio Huato <> wrote:
My latest blog post:

I don't have a chance now to revive it for serious, but I couldn't
resist this for the time being.
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