JR Test Site News for 01-16-2018

Natural Capitalism for Enlightenment (Part 1 of 2)

Adam Smith and Capitalism for Beginners

One of the books the Scottish philosopher Adam Smith wrote, The Wealth of Nations, theorizes about the nature of capitalism. The word “Capitalism” derives from the word capital, itself deriving from the Latin word caput, meaning head. In capitalism, money takes the place of cattle as the unit of movable wealth, and that wealth’s use and circulation through acts of exchange are privately determined by individuals, not the government. Adam Smith defended this way of organizing human affairs, not just on pragmatic terms, but on moral ones, upending millennia of religion-based admonitions that one should aver selfishness. In Smith’s view, pursuing one’s interests to the general indifference of what happens to strangers is actually central to national prosperity. “By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it”. From a regard to his own interest the making of bows and arrows grows to be his chief business, and he becomes a sort of armourer. Smith’s famous example is that of pin manufacturing: “One man draws out the wire, another straights it, a third cuts it, a fourth points it, a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving the head” and so on. Smith counts eighteen distinct jobs associated with pin making in the eighteenth century, and they required at least ten laborers to carry them out. How does a nation’s wealth accumulate? Smith’s answer: by successful individuals herding or hoarding of capital and then risking it on new ventures. “As soon as stock has accumulated in the hands of particular persons,” writes Smith, “Some of them will naturally employ it in setting to work industrious people, whom they will supply with materials and subsistence, in order to make a profit by sale of their work, or by what their labor adds to the value of the materials.” Ventured capital, placed into circulation in the economy, is therefore good for many: money is made by the suppliers of materials; the employees hired to assist the new enterprise; those charging rent for office, store-front, or factory space; and-if the project proves profitable-the investor “Who hazards his stock” in the “Adventure.” This constant hazarding of “Livestock” or “Stock” by those around whom it has herded or accumulated is, of course, subject to competition, which is another stimulus to expanding the wealth of nations: “Every man, as long as he does not violate the laws of justice, is left perfectly free to pursue his own interest his own way, and to bring both his industry and capital into competition with those of any other man, or order of men”. If a government, by centralized planning, tried to set the course of economic activity, Smith is quite sure it would fail to accomplish all that capitalism accomplishes organically via the “Invisible hand”. Through, for example, competition and the constant measuring of profit and loss, capitalism naturally finds good directions for society to organize its energies around and so relieves the government of having to manage the economy: “The sovereign [the king] is completely discharged from a duty, in the attempting to perform which he must always be exposed to innumerable delusions, and for the proper performance of which no human wisdom or knowledge could ever be sufficient; the duty of superintending the industry of private people, …” In other words, distributed markets are smarter than any central planner. If capitalism is the answer to expanding the wealth of nations, what is government’s role in society? Smith sees a number of strictly circumscribed jobs: “Protecting the society from the violence and invasion of other independent societies”; protecting “Every member of society from the injustice or oppression of every other members of it”; maintaining a predictable court system for “Exact administration of justice”; maintaining public institutions and public works, such as public roads; “Supporting institutions for education and religious instruction”; predictable and non-onerous taxation, affecting “The pockets of people as little as possible”; and temperance in deficit spending. This is Smith’s theory and vision for a merchant-oriented society, where every person “Lives by exchanging, or becomes in some measure a merchant, and the society itself grows to be what is properly called a commercial society”.

Keywords: [“Smith”,”society”,”another”]
Source: https://santitafarella.wordpress.com/2012/07/04/adam-smith-and…

Critical Theory, the Critique of Enlightenment Reason, and the Problem of Freedom

Critical Theory, The Critique of Enlightenment Reason and the Problem of Freedom Abstract: The critique of Enlightenment reason put forth in Adorno and Horkheimer‟s book Dialectic of Enlightenment, remains one of the most important critiques of modernity and Enlightenment rationality of the 20th century. Words: 7,711 1 Critical Theory, The Critique of Enlightenment Reason and the Problem of Freedom Introduction In modernity, the concept of rationality presents us with an ineluctable problem, one that is almost identical to the problem of freedom itself. One of the hallmarks of critical theory is its critique of Enlightenment rationality and its “Unmasking” of what passes in modernity for reason and of freedom as ideological and false. At the same time, the sooner we see that the story of cultural modernity told in Dialectic of Enlightenment is misled by the conception of reason Adorno and Horkheimer were working with, the easier it will be to salvage the concept of enlightenment reason and the idea of freedom from the wreckage of intellectual history. As Douglas Kellner has pointed out, “[i]t is not clear whether Horkheimer and Adorno intended to carry out an immanent critique of enlightenment thought or break with enlightenment rationality altogether. Although it is not all that plausible to argue that critical theory has been hampered by the critique of reason and the Enlightenment put forth in Dialectic of Enlightenment, it did open a path for a dismissal of enlightenment thought and the possibility of an elective affinity 5 between conservative political trends and “Radical” intellectual ideas, most evident in the work of postmodernists that share their skepticism of enlightenment rationality. In other words, it is not in the continuing critique of the Enlightenment and of reason more broadly that modern Critical theory needs to be concerned with, but the realization that any critique is always situated within a tradition and that this tradition is firmly rooted in the Enlightenment and the discourse of enlightenment ideas and ideals that has continued for more than two centuries. More specifically, the link between reason and freedom is such that the intellectual path chosen by Dialectic of Enlightenment locks critical theory away from the political domain of freedom unless it goes back to the ideas of enlightenment reason. What will be attempted here is therefore not a reconstruction, but a critique of Dialectic of Enlightenment‟s critique of the Enlightenment and enlightenment reason in an attempt to liberate the Enlightenment from the various interpretations that the Adorno and Horkheimer set in motion and set the stage for a restoration of the positive elements of a critical theory of society. I will talk more about this below, but for now, the critique of enlightenment reason posited in the DE needs to be seen as largely one-sided and, in itself, totalitarian in the sense that it reduces the complexity of enlightenment thought to its instrumental manifestations and does not see its liberating and critical dimensions. 13 12 The positive moments of the Enlightenment are therefore blocked from view by the radical critique of enlightenment reason. The Problem of Freedom The dialectic of enlightenment rationality is therefore the story of how the Enlightenment itself is incapable of producing the domain of freedom. With respect to the second aspect of freedom articulated above, their critique of enlightenment reason seals off the realm of social freedom in the sense that it is unrealizable within the confines of industrial society. As Zoltán Tar has argued “The anti-mathematical bent of critical theory does not have much in common with real Marxism; its roots lie basically in the traditions of various German anti-science intellectual currents.”16 This is also the prime root of their critique of the Enlightenment as well, but how can this also be seen as a problematic between critical theory and Hegelian Marxism? Horkheimer and Adorno, like Lukács and the tradition of German sociology in the 19th century, are essentially neo-Kantians, not Hegelian Marxists. The critique of enlightenment reason begun in DE has allowed left critical thought to become reactionary against the Enlightenment and the constructive, positive elements that is has to offer.

Keywords: [“Enlightenment”,”Reason”,”Critique”]
Source: http://www.academia.edu/231435/Critical_Theory_the_Critique_of…

JR Test Site News for 01-16-2018

Gary Vaynerchuk vs. Elon Musk: The Difference in Question

Marx and Weber: Critics of Capitalism

“In spite of their undeniable differences., Marx and Weber have much in common in their understanding of modern capitalism: they both perceive it as a system where”the individuals are ruled by abstractions, where the impersonal and “Thing-like” relations replace the personal relations of dependence, and where the accumulation of capital becomes an end in itself, largely irrational. Their analysis of capitalism cannot be separated from a critical position, explicit in Marx, more ambivalent in Weber. Above all, while Marx wagers on the possibility of overcoming capitalism thanks to a socialist revolution, Weber is rather a fatalist and resigned observer, studying a mode of production and administration that seems to him inevitable. As Lucien Goldmann wrote, Marx does not “Mix” value and fact judgements, but develops a dialectical analysis where explanation, comprehension and evaluation are rigorously inseparable. The existence of these values does not mean that Marx holds a Kantian perspective, opposing a transcendental ideal to the existing reality: his critique is immanent, in so far as it is developed in the name of a real social force opposed to capitalism – the working class – and in the name of the contradiction between the potentialities created by the rise of productive forces and the limitations imposed by the bourgeois productive relations. “At the heart of Marx’s analysis of alienation is the idea that capitalism is a sort of disenchanted”religion,” where commodities replace divinity: “The more the workers estranges himself in his labour, the more the estranged, objective world he has created becomes powerful, while he becomes impoverished … The same happens in religion. Having replaces Being, and only subsists the monetary payment – the cash nexus according to the famous expression of Carlyle which Marx takes up – and the ” icy waters of egoistic calculation”. At the same time, it is also a force of social regression, in so far as it “Makes of each economic progress a public calamity.” Considering some of the most sinister manifestations of capitalism such as the poor laws or the workhouses – those “Workers Bastilles” – Marx wrote in 1847 the following surprising and prophetic passage, which seems to announce the Frankfurt School: “Barbarism re-appears, but this time it is created inside civilization itself and is an integral part of it. This is the leprous barbarism, barbarism as the leper of civilization.” All these criticisms are intimately linked: they refer to each other, they presuppose each other, and they are combined in a global anti-capitalist vision, which is one of the distinctive features of Marx as a communist thinker. These “Horrifying barbarisms and atrocities” – which according to Marx, quoting M.W. Howitt, “Have no parallel in any other era of universal history, in any other race, however savage, brutal, pitiless and shameless” – are not simply presented as the cost of historical progress, but clearly denounced as an “Infamy.” According to the sociologist Derek Sayer, “To a certain extent his critique of capitalism, as a life negating force, is sharper than Marx’s.” This is an exaggerated assessment, but it is true that some of Weber’s arguments touch at the foundations of the modern industrial/capitalist civilization. Obviously, the issues raised by Weber are quite different from those of Marx. Weber himself declared that here lies the real problem of culture – rationalization towards the irrational – and that he and Marx agreed in the definition of this problem but differed in its evaluation. What Weber, unlike Marx, did not grasp, is the domination, over human activities, of exchange value. For Marx, the origin of capitalism does not relate to any religious ethics, but to a brutal process of plundering, murder and exploitation, which he describes with the term “The primitive accumulation of capital.” The reference to religion plays a significant rôle in explaining the logic of capitalism as “Reversal.” It is not a causal relationship, as in Weber, but rather a structural affinity: irrationality is an intrinsic, immanent and essential feature of the capitalist mode of production as an alienated process, and as such it has a structural resemblance with religious alienation: in both cases, the human beings are dominated by their own products – respectively Capital and God.

Keywords: [“Marx”,”capitalism”,”Weber”]
Source: http://newpol.org/content/marx-and-weber-critics-capitalism

Vulture Capitalism

With the kind of leadership the U.S. has suffered under for several decades, capitalism becomes a tyranny in which the moneyed class loots the nation, while the working class suffers lower wages, higher prices, decreased constitutional liberties, and chronic unemployment. The U.S. is a “Consumer society” in which workers must buy and sell to live. In 2001, Argentina was the last in a long list of nations which have fallen prey to the ravages of vulture capitalism: currency-manipulation, asset-stripping, and factories and products sold at pennies on the dollar. Multinational corporations moving their manufacturing plants to wherever the labor market is cheapest, where they can get the largest tax break from the host country, and where they can be assured that the host country will adopt a currency that can be traded without danger of political interferencethe Wall Street-Treasury Complex during the 1990s allowing its economic client-states to make profits by selling their goods on the American market. Vulture capitalists selling U.S. client-states military weaponry manufactured by their own corporations and peddled through the Pentagon and U.S. embassies world-widethe Wall Street-Treasury Complex forcing its client-states to open their economies so U.S. vulture capitalists can carve out huge profits through currency manipulation and asset-strippingthe vulture capitalists buying assets at pennies on the dollar, when the client-state begins to go under, because the American market is saturated. Throughout the world, workers are being systematically beaten down by vulture capitalism: unequal taxes “Rent-a-judge” justice systems sky-rocketing unemploymentrising pricessold-to-the-highest- bidder- congresspersonscorporations such as Enron left to their own dog-eat-dog profit-making tactics which receive U.S. tax monies when they make bad foreign investments. If you are an American multinational corporation, such as GE, Chrysler, or Boeing, or if you are a savings & loan, bank, or financial institution, then the federal government will see that your losses are covered with American taxpayers’ money. Immigration into the U.S. reached its peak in 1991, with 1,827,167 immigrants allowed in and has been steadily decreasing as the American economy has fallen into recession. Not only did the federal government allow a flood of immigrant workers into the U.S. so the corporations would have low-wage workers, but the Immigration and Naturalization Service did not keep track of them-resulting in legal and illegal immigrants bombing the World Trade Center. The Immigration Act of 1990 exclusively assisted American multinational corporations, providing them an abundant supply of foreign workers willing to work for the lowest possible wages. The Act had been sold to the American public as being necessary because there was said to be a shortage of skilled workers in the science professions. As Donald Bartlett and James Steele show in their informative book, America: Who Stole the Dream?, “Two new engineers were graduated from American universities for every job that opened up. And the unemployment rate for engineers doubled, rising from 2.1 percent to 4.1 percent. Yet during this period, the United States admitted nearly 190,000 engineers as immigrants or temporary workers.” Vulture capitalism has taken many high-paying manufacturing jobs out of the United States, resulting in an eroded infrastructure, massive unemployment, high crime rates, and homelessness never before seen. Where did all the extra profits go – certainly not to the workers? The average American’s income decreases rapidly while the rich get richer. Between 1980 and 1992, the top 1% in terms of share of the nation’s income increased their share from 8% to 14%. The next 9% only increased their share of the nation’s income from 24% to 25%. The bottom 90% saw their share of the nation’s income decrease from 68% to 61%. The U.S. government, the “American” multinational corporations, and the American banks told the hapless U.S. voters that passing the North American Free Trade Agreement would result in fabulous increases in our exports to Mexico.

Keywords: [“work”,”American”,”U.S.”]
Source: http://www.hermes-press.com/vulture.htm

JR Test Site News for 01-16-2018

TEDxSydney – Andrew Kuper – Profit with Purpose: the impact investing revolution

On the Capitalist Religion

Outline I. Introduction II. Origins: Foundational American Values and the Origin of Capitalist Religion A. The concept of value B. The meaning and limits of religion in Christian life 1. Religion in subsequent history and Protestantism C. Religion for the Founders D. The place of religion and Value for other Americans 1. The locus and limits of religious discourse E. Synthesis: Constitutionalism and Protestantism III. Consequences: The Nature of Capitalist Religion A. Non-economic value subordinated B. Tenets, Goals, and Function of the capitalist religion C. Priests and Laity of the capitalist religion IV. Conclusions: Problems and Solutions? I. Introduction It has been said perhaps too many times that God works in mysterious ways, that whatever evil befalls those who would embrace the spiritual cannot meaningfully be ‘blamed’ on a Deity we cannot understand. This paper is not the first to argue that the capitalist/ corporatist/ consumerist1 system is in some way a religion established in the geography of American life.2 Yet I seek to develop the idea further, pushing it beyond metaphor and arguing instead that the consumerist religion is one with a history and a definable creed. Faced with this somewhat uneasy state of affairs, the paper then concludes, as one might expect, with some normative perspectives on the merits of capitalist religion, and perhaps less expectedly suggests that the self-perpetuating nature of the religion is such that fighting it from “Within” with the ultimate aim of integration of the working life with whatever outside value is prized – self-actualization, for example – may be a doomed enterprise. The place of religion in early Christianity It might be suggested that the separation of ultimate values from politics has its roots in the First Amendment to the Constitution, barring Congress from establishing religion or abridging its free exercise. C. Religion for the Founders This above-discussed creation of the idea of the “Secular,” that which is Other to the religious, has been seen as enabling independent nationalisms, zones of personal and economic concern that were not the affair of religion, even the scientific revolution and its epistemological counterparts by moving the ground of authentication and verification from the communal to the individual. The theory is that as religion declines in importance for many Americans, other value-generating systems have simply taken its place in the pews of the capitalist cathedral. III. Consequences: The Nature of Capitalist Religion If religion continues to be the bearer of value for Americans, and yet is simultaneously seen to be separate from the economic realm, one can easily envision the consequences in a world where the economic realm explodes. A. Non-economic value subordinated Before we can leap to hyperbolize and demonize the new American religion, it is worth developing further the marginalization of “Old” religion and the value orientations it represented which was mentioned at the end of the Part II. In many ways, the American inversion of faith and adherent is a consummately Modern activity, at least as the idea was provisionally defined earlier. In contrast to an anti- individualistic set of codes imposed by a hierarchy, American religion becomes liberated: the individual selects which aspects of the religion she wishes to emphasize. B. Tenets, Goals and Function of the Capitalist Religion With non-market value claims removed from the stage, it is a natural next step for what’s left – the capitalist/consumerist market – to be the ultimate good, if only by default. Whatever its origin, the capitalist religion is as much a part of the American geography as its many cathedrals: skyscrapers for those who have achieved the dream, McDonalds for those who wish to participate in it anyway. In many ways, the problem is intractable, much as the birth of capitalist religion was identified with the laudable “Liberation” of religion from power structures. If the separation cannot be healed, those who decry the dehumanizing effects of consumerist capitalism should simply try to strengthen the hand of the “Other sides,” be they art, culture, traditional religion, nontraditional spirituality, or any other forms of human actualization that compete with capitalist religion for primacy.

Keywords: [“Religion”,”value”,”American”]
Source: http://www.metatronics.net/lit/reich.html

Postmodernism, the Academic Left, and the Crisis of Capitalism

Over the past fifty years, postmodern theory-an umbrella term generally used to refer to such diverse theoretical movements and paradigms as post-structuralism, Lacanian psychoanalysis, deconstruction, and others-has generally dominated most fields in the humanities and some in the social sciences, while even making forays into the natural sciences. The economic meltdown in 2008 and the subsequent chronic crisis in capitalism have dealt a fatal theoretical blow to the varied and nearly ineffable assemblage of perspectives that are often grouped under the rubric of “Postmodernism.” History had not ended, nor could postmodern theory grapple with the conditions of its continuance. The financial collapse of 2008 demonstrated that language itself, or the “Symbolic register” in postmodern parlance, could not by itself contain the entirety of social reality. There is much merit in the postmodern label where the various theories are concerned, especially in connection with their demotion of reason, their radical epistemological relativism, their dismissal of or representing as inaccessible social and historical reality, and their undeniable political pessimism. In each case, a faculty, tool or method that had previously been regarded as essential for understanding the social totality and undertaking the struggle for human emancipation was now regarded as means of self-hostage-taking, or as evidence for always already having been taken hostage by the very means once considered essential for theory and practice: reason, knowledge, theory, language, etc. We can begin with Foucault, whose project must be seen in light of an effort to explain social reality, including historical change, in terms that he hoped would both escape and exceed Marxism, while nevertheless essentially leaving Marx’s analysis of political economy in place. As Mark Poster made clear in Foucault, Marxism & History, Foucault’s work clearly responded to the structuralist currents in French Marxist thinking prevalent in the 1960s, and we can discern subtle references to Marxist thought in his work-for example in Discipline and Punish, where he refers to “Panopticism” as the disciplinary prerequisite for coordinating the “Accumulation of capital” and “Accumulation of men” under industrial capitalism. Going further than Nietzsche, Foucault aimed to show that knowledge was used to impose a form of “Panoptic” discipline on the body and in the various spheres throughout the social order. In his “Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat,” Georg Lukács introduced the idea of a proletarian “Standpoint epistemology,” wherein, based on its unique positioning within the social order and its productive capacities, the working class occupied a privileged epistemological perspective for uncovering the verities of social and scientific reality. Only the working class could have the interests and the social positioning necessary to unpack the reified character of commoditized social relations and to find historical truth, objective reality. With the “Linguistic turn” of deconstruction, the radical disjuncture from social reality becomes even more pronounced. For much of the 1990s, as the “Linguistic turn” metastasized throughout the humanities, in my own field of British nineteenth-century studies, it became problematic to speak of the nineteenth-century working class as a real social formation in history. In terms of political activity, social democracy in Europe and Democratic Party adherence in the United States has been the concomitant to what can only be seen as a theoretical pessimism. Given its adherence to radical epistemological pluralism and relativism, how could the academic left, such as those who had been recently embroiled in the “Science Wars,” argue for an objective recount of ballots in the contest between the two ruling-class candidates, Al Gore and George W. Bush in Florida? The social constructivists could not come to the aid of their favorite, because they had long argued that all knowledge claims were mere constructs of ideology or language, or that observation could not but be utterly saturated in “Theory-ladenness”-that is, that no observation could escape the theoretical prejudices of the observer. Science and its products were social constructs “All the way down.” Likewise, the academic left could not credibly support the Democratic Party’s claim that the ballots should be objectively evaluated for the intentions of the voters.

Keywords: [“social”,”Foucault”,”language”]
Source: http://insurgentnotes.com/2013/03/postmodernism-the-academic-left-and-the…

JR Test Site News for 01-16-2018

Immanuel Kant and Adam Smith (The Philosophes: Thinkers of the Enlightenment)

Perhaps the most oft-quoted disparagement of Franklin came from the pen of D. H. Lawrence. Reacting to what he believed to be the self-righteousness underlying many of Franklin’s moralisms in the Poor Richard’s Almanack series, Lawrence complained that “Franklin made a list of virtues, which he trotted inside like a grey nag in a paddock.I do not like him.” Even Franklin’s remarkable accomplishments as a civic leader in Philadelphia have not escaped criticism. The literary critic Charles Angoff, assessing Franklin’s activities as Philadelphia’s leading citizen, described him as a “Cheap and shabby soul…. He represented the least praiseworthy qualities of the inhabitants of the New World: miserliness, fanatical practicality, and lack of interest in what are usually known as spiritual things. Babbittry was not a new thing in America, but he made a religion of it, and by his tremendous success with it he grafted it upon the American people so securely that the national genius is still suffering from it.”9 Whether we accept the assessment of Boorstin or of Lawrence and Angoff, we are left with a set of caricatures. In either case, Franklin’s very accessibility – his standing as a “Typical American” – has tended to reduce his stature. Franklin’s contributions to enlightenment thought far transcended the boundaries of his own country: his reputation as a scientist and as a philosopher was, deservedly, an international one. We must not, in our urge to free Franklin from the baggage associated with his image as “Typical American,” divorce him entirely from his American upbringing and experience. The extraordinary novelty and variety in that landscape would give to Franklin, in common with many other American enlightenment figures a sharpened sense of empirical observation and induction: the more open-ended social structure of eighteenth century America encouraged in Franklin an optimism about humanly-created institutions – be they legislatures or fire companies or colleges – that citizens of European societies, more heavily encumbered by tradition, would have found difficult to share. Franklin lived a long and extraordinarily varied life, but the remainder of this essay will focus on the period of Franklin’s life from 1723-1756. Franklin’s wit, like his intellectual curiosity, seemed to grow rather than diminish over time, while the young Franklin may have been overly-earnest in his quest for success, the mature Franklin was more apt to temper his ambition with irony and self-deprecation. Introducing herself to her readers in Letter No.1 in the April 2, 1722 edition of James Franklin’s New England ‘Courant’ the pseudonymous Ms. Dogood observed ‘that the Generality of People, now a days, are unwilling either to commend or dispraise of what they read, until they are in some measure informed who or what the Author of it is, whether he be POOR or RICH, OLD or YOUNG, a SCHOLLAR or a LEATHER APRON MAN, ETC. The description she gives of herself sounds very much like the young Franklin – born in humble circumstances, bound out as an apprentice t an early age, and taking ‘more than ordinary delight in reading ingenious books’. The same ambition that motivated Franklin to embark on the Silence Dogood series impelled him, just a year later, to leave Boston altogether, journeying first to New York in search of employment and, when prospects there looked less-than- promising, on to Philadelphia. Ever the enterprising tradesman, Franklin also called for investigation into “All new Arts, Trades, Manufactures etc that may be proposed or thought of.’ The underlying rationale behind all of these varied inquires was to ‘let Light into the Nature of Things” and “To increase the Power of Man over Matter, and multiply the Conveniencies or Pleasures of Life.”15 This emphasis on “Useful knowledge,” so striking in many of Franklin’s writings, has led historians to underscore the practical and “American” quality of Franklin’s thoughts and deeds. Franklin’s description of his invention appeared in pamphlet form in order to enable Robert Grace to sell the stoves that he was manufacturing according to Franklin’s plan; but Franklin the savvy businessman often gives way to Franklin the scientist. Writing to Peter Collinson in 1749, Franklin noted his chagrin that thus far no-one had been able to find any practical uses for electricity. These early entrepreneurial aspects of Franklin’s life can be followed in any of a number of Franklin biographies.

Keywords: [“Franklin”,”American”,”More”]
Source: http://www.benfranklin300.org/_etc_pdf/Enlightenment_Richard_Beeman.pdf

Rousseau and the Counter-Enlightenment: An Introduction

Rousseau demonstrates through the nature of his writings, not to mention through his own admissions in those writings, that while he was contemporary to the Enlightenment, he was actually an avid opponent of it. As honest as these self-evaluations are, the willingness of modern academics to persistently include Rousseau as a characteristic Enlightenment thinker requires us to demonstrate them conclusively, and perhaps the best example lies in the central argument of Rousseau’s First Discourse: ” our souls have been corrupted in proportion to the advancement of our sciences and arts toward perfection. For Rousseau, the vices of the arts and sciences – uselessness and the facilitation of idleness and malice – were obvious. Deriding the achievements of men like Isaac Newton and Francis Bacon, Rousseau implores such thinkers to reexamine the importance of their studies and conclusions, as they have produced “So little that is useful.” Rousseau finds even the simplest of human inventions – clothing and shelter, for example – to be “Hardly necessary, since he [man] had done without them until then.” Further, Rousseau charges these conveniences with weakening man, physically and mentally, and as man becomes more accustomed to these conveniences, man becomes “Unhappy about losing them without being happy about possessing them.” Thus, through the faculty of self-perfection, man desires further ease and further weakens himself by seeking it. To Rousseau, this is evil in and of itself, as it interferes with man’s fundamental ethic: pity, that which he considers the natural feeling that subjects the love of oneself to the needs of another “To the mutual preservation of the entire species.” Rousseau states that from the establishment of property comes idleness and vanity, which leads to the pursuit of luxury and of the sciences and arts that produce it. Rousseau credits this “Zeal for raising the relative level” of one’s fortune, derived from vanity rather than real need, as the cause of a “Wicked tendency to harm one another.” Thus, quite apart from the value the Enlightenment places upon scientific study, Rousseau considers such study useless insofar as it gives man more than necessary for him to subsist in the state of nature, enfeebling as it weakens the constitution that man would otherwise have in the state of nature, and vicious in that the differing standards of living it produces based upon talents leads to development of preference, then to vanity, and then to the desire in men to cause each other harm for their own advancement. If not already apparent, Rousseau exhibits the same distaste for reason and knowledge in general as he does for the sciences. Supposedly born from the same idleness and vanity as the sciences to no greater use, the employment of reason towards intellectual pursuits is just as disdainful from the perspective of Rousseau as are the sciences. As reason, human knowledge, and enlightenment progress, Rousseau believes that so too do the industries which lead to idleness, vanity, and so on. In the state of nature, Rousseau argues that man possesses “In instinct” all he needs to live; “In a cultivated reason, he has only what he needs to live in society.” In mocking figures like the mythical Prometheus who brought knowledge of fire to mankind, and in commending figures like Socrates who preached the value of ignorance, Rousseau makes clear his aversion to reason, going so far as to suggest that the factors which perfect human reason and consequently bring man out of the state of nature also lead to the deterioration of the species. Of course, appeals to the “Common good” throughout the Enlightenment were far from uncommon, but Rousseau distinguishes himself from the rest in the degree to which he extends this premise. Predating Marx’s notion of the species-being by almost a century, Rousseau suggests that citizens should be “Influenced rather early to regard their individuality only in its relation to the body of the state and to be aware, so to speak, of their own existence merely as a part of the entire state, [so that] they might finally come to identify themselves in some way with this greater whole”. Based on his antagonism to the dominant and perhaps least contentious values of the Enlightenment, this initial examination of Jean-Jacques Rousseau suggests that he ought not to be considered an Enlightenment philosopher. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, trans.

Keywords: [“Rousseau”,”Enlightenment”,”man”]
Source: http://themendenhall.com/2013/01/26/rousseau-and-the-counter…

JR Test Site News for 01-16-2018

Jay-Z, Lady Gaga and Why A Zen Capitalist Started ‘The Enlightened Wealth Revolution’

Working for a free and prosperous world

The Jews owe an enormous debt to free enterprise and competitive capitalism. Two propositions can be readily demonstrated: first, the Jews owe an enormous debt to free enterprise and competitive capitalism; second, for at least the past century the Jews have been consistently opposed to capitalism and have done much on an ideological level to undermine it. Jews prospered in it for that reason and also because they had a comparative advantage arising from the Church’s views on usury, the dispersion of Jews throughout the world, and their usefulness to ruling monarchs precisely because of the isolation of the Jews from the rest of the community. Compare the experience of the Jews in banking, that I have referred to, with their experience in retail trade, which has been almost a prototype of the textbook image of perfect competition and free entry. How can we reconcile my two propositions? Why is it that despite the historical record of the benefits of competitive capitalism to the Jews, despite the intellectual explanation of this phenomenon that is implicit or explicit in all liberal literature from at least Adam Smith on, the Jews have been disproportionately anti-cap- italist? Lawrence Fuchs, in a highly superficial analysis of The Political Behavior of American Jews, argues that the anticapitalism of the Jews is a direct reflection of values derived from the Jewish religion and culture. Wrote Sombart, “Throughout the centuries, the Jews championed the cause of individual liberty in economic activity against the dominating view of the time. The individual was not to be hampered by regulations of any sort. I think that the Jewish religion has the same leading ideas as capitalism …. The whole religious system is in reality nothing but a contract between Jehovah and his chosen people …. God promises something and gives something, and the righteous must give Him something in return. Indeed, there was no community of interest between God and man which could not be expressed in these terms-that man performs some duty enjoined by the Torah and receives from God a quid pro quo.” A more balanced judgment than either Fuchs’ or Sombart’s with which I am in full accord is rendered by Nathan Glazer, who writes, “It is hard to see direct links with Jewish tradition in these attitudes;… One thing is sure: it is an enormous oversimplification to say Jews in Eastern Europe became socialists and anarchists because the Hebrew prophets had denounced injustice twenty-five hundred years ago…. The Jewish religious tradition probably does dispose Jews, in some subtle way, toward liberalism and radicalism, but it is not easy to see in present-day Jewish social attitudes the heritage of the Jewish religion.” A second simple explanation is that the Jewish anti-capitalist mentality simply reflects the general tendency for intellectuals to be anti-capitalist plus the disproportionate representation of Jews among intellectuals. Competitive capitalism has permitted Jews to flourish economically and culturally because it has prevented anti-Semites from imposing their values on others, and from discriminating against Jews at other people’s expense. Cohn’s argument goes far to explain the important role that Jewish intellectuals played in the Marxist and socialist movement, the almost universal acceptance of “Democratic socialism” by the European Jews in the Zionist movement, particularly those who emigrated to Palestine, and the socialist sentiment among the German Jewish immigrants to the United States of the mid-nineteenth century and the much larger flood of East European Jews at the turn of the century. To justify itself by more than the reference to the alleged role of the Jews in Christ’s crucifixion, anti-Semitism produced a stereotype of a Jew as primarily interested in money, as a merchant or moneylender who put commercial interests ahead of human values, who was money-grasping, cunning, selfish and greedy, who would “Jew” you down and insist on his pound of flesh. As Jews left their closed ghettoes and shtetls and came into contact with the rest of the world, they inevitably came to accept and share the values of that world, the values that looked down on the “Merely” commercial, that regarded money-lenders with contempt. Can this record not be interpreted as an attempt, no doubt wholly subconscious, to demonstrate to the world that the commonly accepted stereotype of the Jews is false? I conclude then that the chief explanations for the anti-capitalist mentality of the Jews are the special circumstances of nineteenth-century Europe which linked pro-market parties with established religions and so drove Jews to the Left, and the subconscious attempts by Jews to demonstrate to themselves and the world the fallacy of the anti-Semitic stereotype.

Keywords: [“Jew”,”Jewish”,”Capitalism”]
Source: https://fee.org/articles/capitalism-and-the-jews

Capitalism & Racism

The very concept of “Race,” and the ideology and practice of racism are relatively modern. The whole concept of “Races” within the human species is not based on physical reality, but is rather a purely ideological construction. Over the past 50 years biologists have come to the conclusion that there is no scientific means of categorizing human beings by “Race.” What are taken as distinct “Races” are in reality arbitrary divisions of humanity on the basis of skin color and other secondary physical features. “85 percent turns out to be between individuals within the same local population, tribe, or nation; a further 8 percent is between tribes or nations within a major ‘race’; and the remaining 7 percent is between major ‘races.’ That means that the genetic variation between one Spaniard and another, or between one Masai and another, is 85 percent of all human genetic variation….” -Stephen Rose et al. The absence of any scientific basis for distinguishing one “Race” from another makes the whole concept meaningless. As Richard Fraser, a veteran American Trotskyist, pointed out in “The Negro Struggle and the Proletarian Revolution,” a document written in the 1950s and recently republished, race remains “a reality in spite of the fact that science reveals that it does not exist.” Fraser wrote that: “The concept of race has now been overthrown in biological science. But race as the keystone of exploitation remains. Race is a social relation and has only a social reality.” The influence, clarity and sophistication of these “Reasons” increased over the next several centuries, until by the 19th century, “Race” was widely seen as the key determinant of human history. ‘Scientific’ Racism in the 1800s…. By the end of the 19th century, the proposition, “Biology determines destiny” was scientific orthodoxy, and prominent scientists such as Louis Agassiz, Samuel Morton, Robert Knox, Herbert Spencer and Ernst Haeckel were busy devising hierarchies of the races in which the “European,” or often more specifically “Anglo-Saxon”, were placed at the top, with the other “Inferior” races ranked beneath them. Agassiz, a Harvard professor who was America’s foremost zoologist of the 19th century, claimed that “The brain of the negro is that of the imperfect brain of a seven months infant in the womb of the white.” A whole range of quack sciences such as phrenology and craniometry arose to measure and quantify the differences among individuals as well as races. “The race called Hottentots [are] a simple, feeble race of men, living in little groups, almost in families, tending their fat-tailed sheep and dreaming away their lives. Of a dirty yellow colour, they slightly resemble the Chinese, but are clearly of a different blood. The face is set on like a baboon’s; cranium small but good; jaws very large; feet and hands small; eyes linear in form and of great power; forms generally handsome; hideous when old and never pretty; lazier than an Irishwoman, which is saying much; and of a blood different and totally distinct from all the rest of the world.” -Robert Knox. The Races of Man: A Philosophical Enquiry into the Influence of Race over the Destinies of Nations. While there was a definite ordering of “Races” among whites, in general the “Fairer races” were destined to conquer and supersede the “Darker races”: “Before the go-ahead Dutchmen it was easy to see that this puny, pygmy, miserable race must retire….” To Knox and his contemporaries it was axiomatic that race was a determining force in history. “According to the anthropologist McGrigor Allan in 1869, ‘The type of the female skull approaches in many respects that of the infant, and still more that of the lower races.”‘ As an example of the pervasiveness of such attitudes the authors of Not In Our Genes quote Charles Darwin, the greatest scientist of the 19th century, as remarking: “Some at least of those mental traits in which women may excel are traits characteristic of the lower races.” Liberals, who dismiss such absurdities as evidence of the scientific backwardness of that age, and comfort themselves with the thought that such vicious ignorance has been transcended, fail to see how, at every stage, science is conditioned by the prejudices of the existing social order. Today mainstream science tends to reject race as anything other than a social construct. The Japanese capitalists are no better with their depiction of North American workers as lazy and indigent, and their tendency to attribute the decline of U.S. capitalism to race mixing.

Keywords: [“Race”,”racism”,”work”]
Source: http://www.bolshevik.org/1917/no12/no12capitalismandracism.html

JR Test Site News for 01-16-2018

The French Revolution: Crash Course World History #29

Critical Thinking and Class Analysis: Historical Materialism and Social Theory

Because capitalist social relations are qualitatively different from other historical forms of social organization – as different from all other forms of class society as class society is from non-class society – they mark a terminal point to the development of class exploitation. Far from being understood as an integral element of historical materialist social theory, the qualitative difference between capitalist and pre-capitalist class relationships stressed by Marx is not even incorporated into most approaches to class analysis. Ironically Marxists on the whole have probably paid less attention to the nature of Marx’s historical materialism than have non-Marxist social theorists, and very few of either have recognized in its fundamentally critical character his most original contribution to social theory. Very few have given serious consideration to the central importance of a truly historical conception of social development – one not rooted anachronistically in the presuppositions of contemporary social life – to Marx’s critical theoretical project. These theoretical elements have been incorporated both at the level of concrete social categories and in the central paradigm of what is taken to constitute Marxist historical social theory. This allegedly historical theory is inherently unable to depict the social forms and relationships of capitalist society as anything other than natural and inevitable products of social evolution, based on seemingly timeless principles drawn from capitalist social experience in the first place. The method of historical materialism is grounded in critical confrontation with social thought that takes for granted the world as it is. 8 Liberal social thought emerged to give novel articulation and intellectual systematization to these new capitalist relationships, and at the same time constructed a new conception of history as progress to conform with them.9 In the context of this new form of social structure, and the new forms of social theory based upon it, the foundation of Marx’s social theory must be recognized to lie not merely in a critique of the legitimation of contemporary capitalist social relations by liberal social theory, but in a more basic critique of the ways in which modern social thought adopts from liberalism a conception of the economy and of social progress through processes of economic development. Since the political economy of Smith’s later Wealth of Nations, liberal social theory has inclined strongly away from the original historical concept of progress as a process of qualitative social transformation. The German Ideology contains a great deal that is insightful on the relationship of consciousness to social existence, and The Communist Manifesto not only remains a stirring polemic, but it contains a famous, key formulation of precisely the sort of analysis that is central to historical materialism: “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.”67 Rather than being the story of economic progress, history is a record of the oppressive alienation of labour for the majority, over many centuries, and of their struggles against it. To the extent that Marxists fail to recognize the ways in which the critique of liberal social thought provides a foundation for historical materialism, they are doomed to conceive of a Marxism that combines the critical rejection of political economy’s view of capitalism, with an account of how and why capitalism came about that is drawn directly from the liberal conceptual framework which underlies political economy. 74 Rather, different specific historical conditions have created different possibilities for structured processes of social development, which must always take form through the interaction of people who are shaped by history and society, but who make history and society in turn.75 It was indeed precisely in the claim that the social development of capitalism was not necessary, natural, and universal – even within the confines of the history of Western Europe – but peculiar and historically specific to England, that Robert Brenner helped lay the foundation for recovering the historical materialism of Marx’s thought in opposition to the economic determinism of Marxist theory. It is our claim that only in England was the underlying system of social reproduction itself fundamentally transformed into a market system: first in agriculture, dissolving the normative structures of social reproduction in traditional peasant communities; and then in industry, through the extension of new social relationships, and through the effects of productivity increases in agriculture and the social dislocation of the rural population. Finally, historical materialist class analysis has something to say about the very question of the origins of modern social theory. On Weber’s commitment to marginal utility theory as a basic principle of social analysis, see his essay “Marginal Utility Theory and the ‘Fundamental Law of Psychophysics’,” Social Science Quarterly 56, 21-36.

Keywords: [“social”,”society”,”historical”]
Source: http://sdonline.org/61/critical-thinking-and-class-analysis-historical…

Weber, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, T¨ ubingen 1922, 633-4 Andrew J. PerrinSociology 250 Max Weber: Modernity and the Role of Ideas October 1, 2013 12 / 47 Marx and Weber Andrew J. PerrinSociology 250 Max Weber: Modernity and the Role of Ideas October 1, 2013 13 / 47 Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary re-constitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes. Rew J. PerrinSociology 250 Max Weber: Modernity and the Role of Ideas October 1, 2013 14 / 47 Setting Up the Great Clash the Bourgeoisie… has simplified the class antagonisms: Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two classes directly facing each other: Bourgeoisie and Proletariat. Rew J. PerrinSociology 250 Max Weber: Modernity and the Role of Ideas October 1, 2013 17 / 47 … a religious man is said to make himself ready for the reception of the all-important grasp of the meaning of the world and of his own existence. Rew J. PerrinSociology 250 Max Weber: Modernity and the Role of Ideas October 1, 2013 20 / 47 very frequently the ‘world images’ that have been created by ‘ideas’ have, like switchmen, determined the tracks along which action has been pushed by the dynamic of interest. Rew J. PerrinSociology 250 Max Weber: Modernity and the Role of Ideas October 1, 2013 24 / 47 labour produces for the rich wonderful things-but for the worker it produces privation. Rew J. PerrinSociology 250 Max Weber: Modernity and the Role of Ideas October 1, 2013 25 / 47 The worker therefore only feels himself outside his work, and in his work feels outside himself. Rew J. PerrinSociology 250 Max Weber: Modernity and the Role of Ideas October 1, 2013 29 / 47 A class must be formed which has radical chains… which has a universal character because its sufferings are universal…. This… is the proletariat. Rew J. PerrinSociology 250 Max Weber: Modernity and the Role of Ideas October 1, 2013 30 / 47 the direction in which the individual worker is likely to pursue his interests may vary widely…. In any case, a class does not in itself constitute a community. Rew J. PerrinSociology 250 Max Weber: Modernity and the Role of Ideas October 1, 2013 31 / 47 the worker sinks to the level of a commodity and becomes indeed the most wretched of commodities;… finally the distinction between capitalist and land-rentier… disappears and the whole of society must fall apart into two classes-the property-owners and the propertyless workers. Rew J. PerrinSociology 250 Max Weber: Modernity and the Role of Ideas October 1, 2013 33 / 47 … the market and its processes ‘knows no personal distinctions’: ‘functional’ interests dominate it. Rew J. PerrinSociology 250 Max Weber: Modernity and the Role of Ideas October 1, 2013 35 / 47 The management of the office follows general rules, which are more or less stable, more or less exhaustive, and which can be learned…. The authority to order certain matters by decree… only to regulate the matter abstractly. Rew J. PerrinSociology 250 Max Weber: Modernity and the Role of Ideas October 1, 2013 36 / 47 “Economically conditioned” power is not, of course, identical with “Power” as such. Rew J. PerrinSociology 250 Max Weber: Modernity and the Role of Ideas October 1, 2013 37 / 47 The class situation and other circumstances remaining the same, the direction in which the individual worker is likely to pursue his interests may vary widely…. The emergence of an association or even of mere social action from a common class situation is by no means a universal phenomenon. Rew J. PerrinSociology 250 Max Weber: Modernity and the Role of Ideas October 1, 2013 39 / 47 The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas. Rew J. PerrinSociology 250 Max Weber: Modernity and the Role of Ideas October 1, 2013 40 / 47 A developed sense of responsibility is absolutely indispensable…. it is necessary to have a frame of mind that emancipates the worker… from a constant question: …. how is the accustomed wage nonetheless to be maintained? This frame of mind, if it manages to uproot the worker from this concern, motivates labor as if labor were an absolute end in itself, or a “Calling.” The Protestant Ethic Andrew J. PerrinSociology 250 Max Weber: Modernity and the Role of Ideas October 1, 2013 41 / 47 The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.

Keywords: [“Ideas”,”Weber”,”PerrinSociology”]
Source: http://perrin.socsci.unc.edu/stuff/marxweber-slides.pdf

JR Test Site News for 01-16-2018

Slavoj Žižek. The Buddhist Ethic and the Spirit of Global Capitalism. 2012

ENLIGHTENMENT, THE The Enlightenment was an intellectual movement that originated in the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe and America giving birth to the vision of an “Age of reason” not only for Western civilization, but for humanity as a whole. Definitions The most famous definition of Enlightenment is that of German philosopher Immanuel Kant: “Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance from another. This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in lack of reason, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without guidance from another. Sapere Aude! ‘Have courage to use your own understanding!’- that is the motto of enlightenment”. As the interweaving ideology underlying all these aspects which together constituted modernity as we know it, the Enlightenment stays until today at the center of the modern Western mindset and of the knowledge societies produced by it. Their understanding of “Enlightenment” often goes back to the dawn of human history and is thus in many ways older than the Enlightenment propagated by the West. Taken as a whole, the term Enlightenment comprises three meanings historically closely connected with each other: the – mainly Western – utopia of a open, participatory and free society, driven by technology and a rational, secular and tolerant mindset, a stage of development of Western civilization, a specific state of mind of individuals or groups. In the epoch of globalization, there is a tendency that the different-but in many regards complementary-notions of Western and non-Western Enlightenment that during the imperialistic phases of Western expansion were often in conflict are becoming increasingly interweaved into each other in the framework of cross-civilizational economic, political and social processes. Proto-spiritual origins of the enlightened mindset It has been often overseen though that such attempts have a long history mainly in the West, based on the proto-spiritual origins of Western Enlightenment itself, which were subsequently removed in the process of its unfolding, and on the always existing criticisms directed against the sometimes one-sided application of secularization and modernization. Since the 1980s, the discussion about how to move the ideas of Enlightenment forward into the age of globalization has ignited a vivid debate between modernists and postmodernists if Enlightenment is an unfinished project that can be further developed and adapted to globalization by working on a meta-cultural ethics of discourse and communicability, as well as on the idea of world citizenship; or if its adaption requires overcoming most of its basic features by “Deconstructing” its foundations and moving towards an “Aesthetics of the Self” oriented rather towards basic traits of the Greek civilization than to modernity or towards an alleged “Other” of the implicit Eurocentrism and Logocentrism of Enlightenment that has still to be defined. Is there an African Enlightenment? Or is there a specific Latin American Enlightenment, tied to liberation theology? Additionally, scholars like Wei Zhang have posed the question, “Can China answer Kant’s question of what is Enlightenment?” Since this question is closely connected with democracy and liberty, human rights, personal freedom and pluralism, it becomes a core issue of democratization and government in theory and practice also for new superpowers like China and India. As U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced in a Foreign Affairs contribution of November-December 2010, the future of Enlightenment as a basic form of thought of political freedom and democracy may evolve towards “Leading through civilian power”-that means towards making Enlightenment “From below,” i.e., through contextual politics of cultural psychology and worldview supremacy-the new political and democratic power strategy of the West by the means of the arising global civil society. Accordingly, there is a new rise of Enlightenment as a secular, rational, protospiritual and pluralistic endeavor, conceived as the main alternative to the global “Turn of religion” as a metaphysical, nonrational, confessional, hierarchical and monistic worldview. Enlightenment today is conceived less ideologically and more pragmatically by civil society liberatory movements, for example in the form of liberation technologies like mobile phones, democratically conceived computer-ownership or unconditioned Internet-access for everybody that empower individuals across the world by granting them access to global networks, the respective knowledge and thus to qualification. Currently, attempts are made to mitigate the impact of competing modernities on globalization through the renewal of the concept of Enlightenment as a lead term allegedly pointing towards a new world ethos or global ethics. In the framework of globalized migration processes, there is for example a vivid discussion if the notion of tolerance should be replaced by the notion of hospitality in order to overcome its implicit contradiction of devaluating the one that is being tolerated, typical for the inner contradictions of Western Enlightenment between aspiration and reality. To which extent the American and European civilizations may continue to function as worldwide homogenizators towards such a global enlightenment by proposing an enlightened lifestyle as role model of a good life is disputed.

Keywords: [“ENLIGHTENMENT”,”global”,”Western”]
Source: http://fsi.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/Enlightenment.pdf

JR Test Site News for 01-15-2018

Gregg Kennard speaks pt. 1…conversation between the “haves” & “have nots””

Habermas, the Public Sphere, and Democracy: A Critical Intervention

His study The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere was published in 1962 and contrasted various forms of an active, participatory bourgeois public sphere in the heroic era of liberal democracy with the more privatized forms of spectator politics in a bureaucratic industrial society in which the media and elites controlled the public sphere. The two major themes of the book include analysis of the historical genesis of the bourgeois public sphere, followed by an account of the structural change of the public sphere in the contemporary era with the rise of state capitalism, the culture industries, and the increasingly powerful positions of economic corporations and big business in public life. After delineating the idea of the bourgeois public sphere, public opinion, and publicity, Habermas analyzes the social structures, political functions, and concept and ideology of the public sphere, before depicting the social-structural transformation of the public sphere, changes in its public functions, and shifts in the concept of public opinion in the concluding three chapters. The public sphere consisted of organs of information and political debate such as newspapers and journals, as well as institutions of political discussion such as parliaments, political clubs, literary salons, public assemblies, pubs and coffee houses, meeting halls, and other public spaces where socio-political discussion took place. What Habermas called the “Bourgeois public sphere” consisted of social spaces where individuals gathered to discuss their common public affairs and to organize against arbitrary and oppressive forms of social and public power. While in the bourgeois public sphere, public opinion, on Habermas’s analysis, was formed by political debate and consensus, in the debased public sphere of welfare state capitalism, public opinion is administered by political, economic, and media elites which manage public opinion as part of systems management and social control. Habermas describes a transition from the liberal public sphere which originated in the Enlightenment and the American and French Revolution to a media-dominated public sphere in the current era of what he calls “Welfare state capitalism and mass democracy.” This historical transformation is grounded, as noted, in Horkheimer and Adorno’s analysis of the culture industry, in which giant corporations have taken over the public sphere and transformed it from a sphere of rational debate into one of manipulative consumption and passivity. In Habermas’s words: “Inasmuch as the mass media today strip away the literary husks from the kind of bourgeois self-interpretation and utilize them as marketable forms for the public services provided in a culture of consumers, the original meaning is reversed. Habermas offered tentative proposals to revitalize the public sphere by setting”in motion a critical process of public communication through the very organizations that mediatize it”. A visit to the Hull House in Chicago reveals the astonishing interventions into the public sphere of Jane Adams and her colleagues in developing forms and norms of public housing, health, education, welfare, rights and reforms in the legal and penal system, and public arts. Although Habermas concludes Transformations with extensive quotes from Mills’ Power Elite on the metamorphosis of the public into a mass in the contemporary media/consumer society, I have not been able to find in the vast literature on Habermas’s concept of the public sphere discussion of the significance of Mills’ work for Habermas’s analysis of the structural transformation of the public sphere. Obviously, Habermas is an exemplary public intellectual, intervening in the public sphere in many crucial issues of the past decades, writing tirelessly on contemporary political events, criticizing what he sees as dangerous contemporary forms of conservativism and irrationalism, and in general fighting the good fight and constructing himself as a major public intellectual of the day, as well as world-class philosopher and social theorist. Since writing is his medium of choice and print media is his privileged site of intervention, I would imagine that Habermas downplays broadcasting and other communication media, the Internet and new spheres of public debate, and various alternative public spheres in part because he does not participate in these media and arenas himself and partly because, as I am suggesting, the categorical distinctions in his theory denigrate these domains in contrast to the realms of communicative action and the lifeworld. The difference between a state-controlled public broadcasting system contrasted to a more commercial model has, of course, itself collapsed in the era of globalization where commercially-based cable television has marginalized public broadcasting in most countries and where in a competitive media environment even public broadcasting corporations import popular, mostly American, entertainment, and are geared more toward ratings than political indoctrination, or enlightenment. These developments, connected primarily with multimedia and computer technologies, require a reformulation and expansion of the concept of the public sphere – as well as our notions of the critical or committed intellectual and notion of the public intellectual. My argument has been that radio, television, and other electronic modes of communication were creating new public spheres of debate, discussion, and information; hence, activists and intellectuals who wanted to engage the public, to be where the people were at, and who thus wanted to intervene in the public affairs of their society should make use of these technologies and develop communication politics and new media projects.

Keywords: [“Public”,”Sphere”,”media”]
Source: http://pages.gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/kellner/papers/habermas.htm

JR Test Site News for 01-15-2018

Thomas Sowell – From Marxism to Capitalism

Age Of Enlightenment

The resounding call to reason which has been the battle cry of the Enlightenment is by now no more than a reverberating call to identify with the privileged reason of modernity – that of the market. REASON AND RELIGION through a genealogical study of the historico-material and theoretical terrains that have lent currency to such a discursive oppositionality while paying attention to the concrete strategies of its deployment as well as consequences to the possibility of truly. Throughout the semester, the course will show how the diverse pursuits, reflections and theoretical engagements of modern and contemporary political theorists are underpinned by a struggle to define the boundary of the religious and the non-religious with the aim of securing and guarding the freedom promised by the modern conceptualization of reason. At the heart of the course is a sustained and systematic effort as well as invitation to approach religion – that is, to consciously nurture and performatively cultivate a disciplinary form of subjectivity capable of making such an approach – and then to be possessed by religion – that, is to think about the present, about oneself and one’s relations as a subject of and constituted by religion. It entails asking first – who is making this approach? How has the one approaching religion been constituted as a subject and how has this subject come to know one’s subjectivity as such via one’s position in relation to religion? The course will argue that the constitution of contemporary political subjectivity along the discourses of consumerism andcoloniality has adversely influenced the ability of the modern subject to approach religion – that is, to consider the rationality and reasonableness of a religious approach to living in the world and with others. Central to these discourses is the reproduction of the ideology of secularism and its attendant constitution of religion as a moralizing rationality thus legitimizing religion’s occlusion from the world of public life while at the same time politicizing it to serve purposes other than theologically and ecclesiologically authorized ones. Thus, the critical motif of approaching religion via one’s engagement with the world and with others is viewed in this course as a liturgical celebration – a simultaneous affirmation of commonality and difference, a productive agonism that resists solipsism and atomism, a communion with the world that is truly revolutionary. Here, to be possessed by religion does not entail the abandonment of the self but in fact demands a heightened and deliberate awareness of the self’s encounters that allows the self to come into being rather than to declare its finality, that is a rejection of an apocalyptic conception of the self and the world and its place through acts and gestures of receptivity to the eschatological moment of reason, the triumph of an enlightened form of thinking that is able to appreciate the public, stabilizing and grounded positionality of each other rather than the invisible, arbitrary and irrationality of hierarchies brought about by a false sense of rationality – a longing, a desire to long. A student conference entitled, “Moving from the Critique of Religion towards Religion as Critique” will be held two weeks before the semester’s scheduled final examinations during which students will be presenting their work to a public audience. NOVEMBER 8, 10, 15 and 17 Why is the Enlightenment’s concept of reason and appeal to the use of reason selfdefeating and incapable of animating, building and sustaining communal existence? How did the Enlightenment distort the meaning of reason and how has it shaped our contemporary political vocabulary? How did truth become publicly inaccessible in the way the Enlightenment understood it? To what extent can invocations and appeal to truth still make sense, and in fact, necessary in order to acknowledge and endorse the reality of human differences? Why is the use of religious reason not grounded on moral imperatives but guided by tradition? Why is violence the result of a form of reason that is no longer bound with tradition? Why did the logic of property and the language of the economy become the prevailing constructs of Enlightenment rationality? Why can these constructs not fulfill the tasks of reason and as such only serve to betray reason? Why are the human capacities to desire and to reason not incompatible? What ways of understanding each would render them in opposition or contradiction? How did the historical-material conditions of the industrial capitalist age pervert the human capacity to desire? Why did capitalism emerge, how does it operate and how did it change the way religion was understood? Why is capitalism inherently exploitative? How does it conceal its exploitative tendencies? Why and how can religion not become complicit in the concealment, reproduction and legitimation of the exploitative nature of capitalism? How is capitalism involved in preventing critics of the consequences of capitalist accumulation from realizing the capacity of religion to pose a serious challenge to the capitalist system? Why is a class approach to the study of society compatible with a religious form of subjectivity? Ellen Meiksins-Wood. “Hunger,”Something in a Dream,” “God of Hope,” Thing-ForUs” in The Frankfurt School on Religion ed. Why would the delegitimization and suppression of the authority of religion over its subjects lead to the rise of totalitarianism? Why is religion’s insistence on the uniqueness of the human person a powerful antidote against totalitarian terror and ideology? How does religion provide a guard against escaping the pluralistic and deeply conflictual realm of worldly existence? Why do appeals to and invocations of the law today share in the logic of totalitarianism? Why is a formal account of state power inadequate in understanding the manner through which the interests of capitalism are reproduced and legitimized? Why should revolutionaries pay attention to the production of knowledge and why is the production as well as deployment of knowledge linked with the historico-material constitution of the dominant social order? Why and how can the disciplinary regimes and technologies of religion be conceptualized and utilized in the critique of capitalist modernity? Why and how can the body become a political strategy for resisting the normalizing gaze of capitalist modernity?

Keywords: [“RELIGION”,”reason”,”how”]
Source: https://www.scribd.com/document/71290176/Syllabus

JR Test Site News for 01-15-2018

Jesse Ribot: land and capitalism


“I’ll say nothing against him. At one time the whites in the United States called him a racialist, and extremist, and a Communist. Then the Black Muslims came along and the whites thanked the Lord for Martin Luther King.”. “The goal has always been the same, with the approaches to it as different as mine and Dr. Martin Luther King’s non-violent marching, that dramatizes the brutality and the evil of the white man against defenseless blacks. And in the racial climate of this country today, it is anybody’s guess which of the”extremes” in approach to the black man’s problems might personally meet a fatal catastrophe first – “non-violent” Dr. King, or so-called “violent” me. “If violence is wrong in America, violence is wrong abroad. If it is wrong to be violent defending black women and black children and black babies and black men, then it is wrong for America to draft us, and make us violent abroad in defense of her. And if it is right for America to draft us, and teach us how to be violent in defense of her, then it is right for you and me to do whatever is necessary to defend our own people right here in this country.” “I’ve never seen a sincere white man, not when it comes to helping black people. Usually things like this are done by white people to benefit themselves. The white man’s primary interest is not to elevate the thinking of black people, or to waken black people, or white people either. The white man is interested in the black man only to the extent that the black man is of use to him. The white man’s interest is to make money, to exploit.” “I can’t turn around without hearing about some ‘civil rights advance’! White people seem to think the black man ought to be shouting ‘hallelujah’! Four hundred years the white man has had his foot-long knife in the black man’s back – and now the white man starts to wiggle the knife out, maybe six inches! The black man’s supposed to be grateful? Why, if the white man jerked the knife out, it’s still going to leave a scar!”. “When you go to a church and you see the pastor of that church with a philosophy and a program that’s designed to bring black people together and elevate black people, join that church! If you see where the NAACP is preaching and practising that which is designed to make black nationalism materialize, join the NAACP. Join any kind of organization-civic, religious, fraternal, political or otherwise-that’s based on lifting… the black man up and making him master of his own community.” “There can be no black-white unity until there is first some black unity…. We cannot think of uniting with others, until after we have first united among ourselves. We cannot think of being acceptable to others until we have first proven acceptable to ourselves.” “The white man knows what a revolution is. He knows that the Black Revolution is worldwide in scope and in nature. The Black Revolution is sweeping Asia, is sweeping Africa, is rearing its head in Latin America. The Cuban Revolution – that’s a revolution. They overturned the system. Revolution is in Asia, revolution is in Africa, and the white man is screaming because he sees revolution in Latin America. How do you think he’ll react to you when you learn what a real revolution is?”. “I’m not going to sit at your table and watch you eat, with nothing on my plate, and call myself a diner. Sitting at the table doesn’t make you a diner, unless you eat some of what’s on that plate. Being here in America doesn’t make you an American…. No I’m not an American, I’m one of the 22 million black people who are the victims of Americanism. One of the 22 million black people who are the victims of democracy, nothing but disguised hypocrisy…. I’m speaking as a victim of this American system. And I see America through the eyes of a victim. I don’t see any American dream; I see an American nightmare.” “One of the things that made the Black Muslim movement grow was its emphasis upon things African. This was the secret to the growth of the Black Muslim movement. African blood, African origin, African culture, African ties. And you’d be surprised – we discovered that deep within the subconscious of the black man in this country, he is still more African than he is American.” “We, the Black masses, don’t want these leaders who seek our support coming to us representing a certain political party. They must come to us today as Black Leaders representing the welfare of Black people. We won’t follow any leader today who comes on the basis of political party. Both parties are controlled by the same people who have abused our rights, and who have deceived us with false promises every time an election rolls around.” “I may say that I don’t think it should ever be put upon a black man, I don’t think the burden to defend any position should ever be put upon the black man, because it is the white man collectively who has shown that he is hostile toward integration and toward intermarriage and toward those other strides toward oneness. So as a black man, and especially as a black American, any stand that I formerly took, I don’t think that I have to defend it because it’s still a reaction to the society, and it’s a reaction that was produced by the society; and I think that it is the society that produced this that should be attacked, not the reaction that develops among the people who are the victims of that negative society.” “Before the Black Muslim movement came along, the NAACP was looked upon as radical; they were getting ready to investigate it. And then along came the Muslim movement and frightened the white man so hard that he began to say, ‘Thank God for old Uncle Roy, and Uncle Whitney, and Uncle A. Philip….'”. “In my recent travels into African countries and others, I was impressed by the importance of having a working unity among all peoples, black as well as white.” “For the freedom of my 22 million black brothers and sisters here in America, I do believe that I have fought the best that I know how, and the best that I could, with the shortcomings that I have had…I know that societies often have killed people who have helped to change those societies. And if I can die having brought any light, having exposed any meaningful truth that will help destroy the racist cancer that is malignant in the body of America then, all of the credit is due to Allah. Only the mistakes have been mine.”

Keywords: [“black”,”man”,”people”]
Source: http://www.malcolm-x.org/quotes.htm