Saturday 29 April 2017

France's "The Revolt of the Angels".

A bookish angel whose studies turned into a blasphemer and a rebel against the Creator, an idle and womanising aristocratic youth who rediscovered his own version of Catholic faith after being dumped by his guardian angel, and a librarian with an unhealthy attachment to books are the main characters of Anatole France's "The Revolt of the Angels".

Around these three characters, whose paths criss-cross, France, the 1921 Nobel Prize in Literature winner, weaves a story set in early 20th century Paris, in 35 short vignettes, telling their frequently small, occasionally large, personal adventures and dramas. Surprisingly and in contrast to the supernatural nature of its protagonist and his epic quest, those episodes, often told with charm and a subtle, benign humour, are eminently down to earth, providing a glimpse into the final years of the French Belle Époque.

Wednesday 26 April 2017

Bhaskar against Marx's Alleged Determinism.

Guess what?

Roy Bhaskar, founder of critical realism, wrote the entry "Determinism", for A Dictionary of Marxist Thought, Tom Bottomore (ed.).

Saturday 22 April 2017

Scientific Socialism: a Primer.

David Ruccio writes about yesterday's March for Science staged in many countries, including Australia. In our times of alternative facts and fake news, its significance is evident.

Ruccio's post, however, also reminded me of Albert Einstein's essay "Why Socialism?", where Einstein laid out his views on socialism.

Although his prominence may have afforded Einstein some protection, it took courage to pen that piece: the late 1940s-early 1950s wasn't a good time to write favourably about socialism anywhere, least of all in an openly Marxist journal. Yet, "Why Socialism?" was published originally in 1949 in the first issue of the Monthly Review, whose editors -- whom we might suppose know something about basic Marxism -- decided to file it under "Marxism".

Thursday 20 April 2017

The Problem: Houses of Parliament!

Housing affordability has been a big issue in Australia for a long while. It was a big issue before the Lehman Brothers collapse in September 2008 in the US and has remained a big issue for many Australians ever since:

Monday 17 April 2017

Experiences of an Ageing Marxist: Commodities.

Although I often stray away from Marxism and write about other subjects, I'm writing this post as a Marxist, confident that Marxist readers have shared similar experiences. I address myself to them.

Although non-Marxist readers are welcome to read on, they may well find the subject uninteresting. If you are a non-Marxist you might want to skip this (trust me, I'll understand). If you decide to stay, do so at your own peril. :-)

Tuesday 11 April 2017

The Doctrine of Fascism: Epilogue.

"The Fascist state claims its ethical character: it is Catholic but above all it is Fascist, in fact it is exclusively and essentially Fascist. Catholicism completes Fascism, and this we openly declare, but let no one think they can turn the tables on us, under cover of metaphysics or philosophy". (To the Chamber of Deputies, May 13, 1929, in Discorsi del 1929, Milano, Alpes, 1930, p. 182).

This post comments on the Footnotes Appendix to "The Doctrine of Fascism" and closes this series. That Appendix contains a series of quotes culled from different documents and speeches. It's the only part of the essay we can be reasonably sure reflects Mussolini's words.

The opening quote is one of them. Barring something lost in translation, that's a sample of his clear-sighted wisdom. There's no need for my comment (yours is welcome, however).

Saturday 8 April 2017

The Evil Empire.

The setting is a polished clean, impersonal room; control consoles, covered by electronic displays and buttons, surround a group of dignitaries, all of them professionally dressed, in the elegant but sober style one has come to associate with important people.

They are observing the world from far above.

A man in his fifties runs the show. He is handsome, with that kind of unexceptional good looks appropriate to his job. His hair is already turning grey. And what a show he is running: epic images of global destruction observed from a distance of hundreds of kilometres.

In awe with the apocalyptic power he feels it's his, the man only manages to say: "Oh. It's beautiful".

Wednesday 5 April 2017

The Doctrine of Fascism: Fascism vs Marxism.


The second part of "The Doctrine of Fascism" ("Political and Social Doctrine", a little under 7 pages long) differs from the first in style and content and can be read profitably without it.

Perhaps as a former journalist Mussolini was a better writer than Gentile (the likely author of the first part). Here we'll assume that the second part was written by Il Duce himself. Gentile added the first, without taking credit, in an attempt to give the essay more intellectual credibility. Not a wise decision, in my opinion.

At any event, this second section, less philosophically ambitious, is much more instructive and -- at least -- understandable.