Friday 27 April 2018

The Preconditions of Socialism: a Critical Review (i)

Well, a promise is a promise.

The initial idea behind this series of weekly posts on Eduard Bernstein’s Die Voraussetzungen des Sozialismus was to consider the book on its own merits; in other words, to write a critical review of the argument embodied in Voraussetzungen, not a denunciation of its author: I have already done that and I have little more to add. Moreover, originally I intended to limit this review to its empirical argument, which his modern admirers find so compelling.

Tuesday 24 April 2018

On Whose Behalf is Australia Ruled?

The preliminary findings of the Turnbull Royal Commission on Banking are the news of the day in this Terra Australis Incognita (overseas readers curious about the background to that drama may want to check these two older posts).

The public proceedings of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry (its official denomination) started a couple of weeks ago. Initially the cases heard about were, in Daniel Ziffer’s words, “tragically comic”, just “awful and dumb stuff: gym owners helping to write $122 million in loans, shonky car dealers selling lemons to hard-luck customers, a gambling addict given credit card limit increases.”

Friday 20 April 2018

Predictions About Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy.

“Professor Schumpeter, as many tart phrases reveal, has little love for socialism, and none at all for socialists.” Joan Robinson reviews Schumpeter’s 1943 Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy for the Economic Journal issue of December 1943.

I found plenty interesting stuff while searching for information on the Revisionist Debates. Among other things, four very different books.

Road to Serfdom in cartoons. [A]

For all of Eduard Bernstein’s conviction that capitalism and with it liberal democracy had won a decisive victory (or, as Francis Fukuyama put it a century later, humanity had reached the End of History), his fellow petty bourgeois intellectuals spent the next half-century -- at the very least -- worrying themselves sick about the survival of capitalism and/or liberal democracy. After its inevitable victory, capitalist democracy looked a lot like a greenhouse flower: unless heroic countermeasures were urgently taken, any deviation would lead as inevitably to chaos.

Wednesday 18 April 2018

Bits and Pieces: You're Grounded!

Qui-Gon Jinn: Don't center on your anxieties, Obi-Wan. Keep your concentration here and now, where it belongs.

A thing about these old debates is that they absorb your attention. The past, it seems, may be as addictive as the future. One, however, must try to stay grounded in the present moment, as Qui-Gon said.

Friday 13 April 2018

Lorenz Curve: Hunting Wolves.

“Seek, and ye shall find.” Matthew 7:7, KJV.

Surfing the net is a peculiar pastime. Often you find absolute crap (just take my word for it). But every now and again, out of sheer serendipity, you do find genuine gems. Maybe it’s something educative or interesting; it may just make you smile.

I learned of Max Otto Lorenz (1876-1959) by chance. I don’t expect his name should ring a bell with most readers (Marxist readers least of all, but no-frills lefties aren’t exempt). That’s for several reasons; one of them is that (and I mean no disrespect to Lorenz) what little I found about him suggests he was a rather obscure American economist.

Friday 6 April 2018

Three Social Democrats go Hiking …

It’s a funny story, of which I learned from the SPD Ravensburg website. It closes an article on Ignaz Auer and his son, Erhard. Its authors are Günther Biegert and Bodo Rudolf.

Apparently the descendants of Ignaz Auer kept this anecdote as an oral tradition. It’s set in the early 1890s. It was the time of the German version of carrots and stick.

I’ll explain. Conservative chancellor Otto von Bismarck pushed his Anti-Socialist Laws in 1878. That was the stick (you know how Germans are: they invert the order of the words in sentences)

Monday 2 April 2018

West Bank: a Day Under Israeli Occupation.

This is how Palestinians have had to live for the last fifty years, since the 1967 Israeli invasion. And those you see in those photos are the lucky ones: at least they haven't been shot in mass under Israeli apartheid.

(West Bank: Occupied lives)
Enough is enough. Australia needs to change its attitude towards Israel: they aren't the victims, but the perpetrators.