Friday 29 June 2018

The Preconditions of Socialism: a Critical Review (ix)

It’s time to go back to Thomas Piketty’s data and their application to the assessment of Preconditions.

A first question about Piketty’s 1910s Europe “capital” data would be how representative of a particular, historical, observed national economy that data are?

At the World Inequality Database the only series (personal wealth distribution: analogue of “capital”) with data for the lowest 50%, the middle 40%, the upper 9% and the top 1% I could find for that general time period was the one for France, for the years 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1907, 1909, and 1910.

Monday 25 June 2018

Turnbull Cuts his Own Taxes.

Malcolm Turnbull got his taxes cut. This is what he'll get (hint: check the bottom right) and what we'll get (the top few rows):


Friday 22 June 2018

The Preconditions of Socialism: a Critical Review (viii)

“The period of the first globalization is as fascinating as it was prodigiously inegalitarian”. Thomas Piketty (Capital in the 21st Century, 2014. Kindle Locations 595-597. Harvard University Press. Kindle Edition.)

We finally made it to Chapter 3 of Preconditions (2 of Evolutionary). As the review will now deal with statistical data, this post contains an unusually large number of links to resources freely available over the Internet. Although readers may find the task daunting, I’ll invite them to carefully check those links. I personally visited each and every single one of those pages, and in my opinion they are educative.

Eduard Bernstein composed and published Preconditions during the late 1890s. The largest national capitalist economies had been experiencing a period of overall prosperity, punctuated by the usual downturns. In some places that bonanza started as early as the 1870s; in the US it would extend well into the Roaring Twenties.

Although there are more evocative names, Thomas Piketty, in his Capital refers to those times in general with the more neutral-sounding, but very appropriate, “‘first globalisation’ of finance and trade (1870-1914)” (Kindle Location 594).

And it’s not coincidental that Piketty mentioned Bernstein three times: both deal with some of the same subjects and variables, using tax return data [maybe other authors before Bernstein had studied tax returns, but Preconditions is the earliest example I could find (p. 60) and the most unfortunate].

But the usefulness of Capital to assess Preconditions goes far beyond periodisation or noticing that Bernstein and Piketty studied similar data for Europe, roughly during the same period.

Friday 15 June 2018

The Preconditions of Socialism: a Critical Review (vii)

“There are few writers or thinkers in history whose every word and grunt has been examined by hostile critics so minutely as Marx’s has”. Hal Draper.

The usual reference Marxists give those asking about “historical materialism” (aka the “materialist conception of history”) is Marx’s 1859 Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (example 1, example 2). If readers downloaded and printed it from the Marxists Internet Archive, depending on their printer settings, they’d get something like this:

Right-click to open a larger version in a different tab.

Friday 8 June 2018

The Preconditions of Socialism: a Critical Review (vi)

“When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” Humpty Dumpty.

There’s a way to see Preconditions (or Evolutionary) that should help understand Eduard Bernstein’s argument: what goes where and why.

Imagine you are in Maycomb, Alabama. It’s the 1930s.

Friday 1 June 2018

The Preconditions of Socialism: a Critical Review (v)

“For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (Matthew 7:2 KJV)

By now anti-Marxist readers (openly right-wing or reformists, it makes no difference) must have felt something of what Marxist readers of Preconditions felt in the late 1890s. What’s sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander.

Unlike those Marxists, the more enterprising among anti-Marxists may even have discovered the trick I played them: unlike Bernstein, I explained it to them.