evening belphegor
i think what made, for me, cixin's three-body problem trilogy and sagan's contact so interesting, and enjoyable is that while they are science fiction they are very much informed speculative fiction at the same time, and the speculative aspect is primary. cixin presents compelling speculation about a hostile universe, outside context problems (to borrow something from banks), technological gulfs, and love in a world of shit. contact is imo even more remarkable in that a cosmic theological theme runs all the way through - cosmic-natural theology perhaps; sagan's broad knowledge drips from every page. they're speculative fiction that makes you stop and think about grand ideas and endless possibilities, like the antithesis of the "westphalian system but in space" or the wiki filled with "scifi lore" about some franchise

i liked them both for the same reason i like bank;s work, which i will probably revist - in fact now that i remember there is a bit in cixin's dark forest that is a mirror to something in bank's "use of weapons", essentially the same event seen from the other side. in use of weapons, banks presents a situation where "Sma" is attacked on a medieval technology world and her drone companion just kills her assailants in a fraction of a second by piloting a "knife missile" through each of them in impossible trajectories and accelerations; Sma is horrified by how easy it is. in Dark Forest, cixin presents the same situation, but an inverted perspective. the entire solar defense fleet is obliterated by a single impervious alien "droplet" which flys in the same way, simply smashing through each of the 4000 ships while the fleet itself is powerless. theres a pathos in these scenes that both authors capture.

ramble ramble
I loved the three body trilogy too, tears. Did you feel like the style of the second book was different? The translator for that one wasn't quite as good as for the other two, imo. The speculative aspect of it is where the fun of science fiction always was for me. It took me back to being a kid and reading Asimov's short stories, like if a robot had three rules and it was this type of robot, what is the logical sequence of events that might follow? What if a scientists discovers some crazy thing about the universe, how does all of society change? Even if the way the authors thought these things through wasn't always particularly convincing, the fact that they explored along with the reader makes it just plain fun.

For me, most things about future earth society in Three Body didn't really click. The author pretty much forgot that the entire continent of Africa existed, with its own societies and contributions to humanity's future. Everything was just China, America, Russia, and a little Europe thrown in. But once you get into space, when it's just humanity and the rest of the universe, it all feels like it could really happen.
hi coldday, i didn't notice that about the translator but i think that is because i have a nasty habit of reading things too fast when they fit in the "standardised" vernacular+style of sci-fi/fantasy fiction - i don't know how to better describe it: it was all very readable perhaps. that meant i rushed through all three, and did not notice the middle book losing that vernacular+style. in contrast the Lem book i am reading at the moment is not written/translated in that style and thus is slower reading and i find myself paying attention to the literary style more.

quoting this because i like it:

colddays posted:

Even if the way the authors thought these things through wasn't always particularly convincing, the fact that they explored along with the reader makes it just plain fun.

richard lewontin died :(
Its so sad!!!
i think it's cool that Norton and Blumenthal are right and loud about it. personally
and like... i'm not sure of the actual worth of saying, oh they were only right since 2015 so they're dupes and tools. like, most people are wrong before they're right...? accusations like that need an argument behind them. it doesn't make them good Marxists either necessarily, and Hell,... but it's still cool and good
Like: most of their critics "from the left" have been saying stuff like, "Norton is gonna flip to parroting the CIA line on all this stuff. tomorrow. okay, after that. any second now. any time now...." and it's been YEARS of that. If this is a long game to "sheep dip" or whatever... it no longer makes any sense. And I'm not aware of any credible allegations that their associates have been turned over to the cops or anything at all like that, and yes I do keep up with some of them.
you hear "you're wrong until you're right, people change!" from biden/sanders/clinton/etc opportunists who have no use for the critique of ideology. if ben norton would just sign up for an account we could have this cleared up real quick!

nearlyoctober posted:

you hear "you're wrong until you're right, people change!" from biden/sanders/clinton/etc opportunists who have no use for the critique of ideology.

you also hear such things as "please", "thank you", "ouch", "please pass the ketchup", etc., from such people, reactionary ideology we must purge from our vocabulary as socialists, lest others mistake us for sheep-dipped psyops or, even worse, human beings

Seriously speaking: the way you knew the folks who e.g. flipped purely opportunistically on the invasion of Iraq were frauds in that manner was not because they thought one thing and then changed their minds about it. It was the manner in which they did it, i.e., scrupulously preserving and defending the ideology of the United States and its imperialist partners as supremely virtuous unless led astray; it was, just as importantly, how those frauds flipped right back for the rape of Libya a few years later, which had so many direct and obvious parallels to Iraq that a lot of those types took great pains not to discuss it at all as it was happening.

This is exactly the opposite of what Blumenthal and Norton have done. They have instead extended their harsh criticism of the U.S. and its attack dogs to other targets of "intervention" around the world and throughout history. They've drawn attention to all of this stuff and provided more room to discuss it critically. That's pretty much all they've done but it's good imo.

As I've said before: don't let that keep you from examining what they say in a critical light yourself! Or talking about how a more rigorous materialist analysis might fill in some of the gaps they leave in their own! That's all good stuff to do too. In fact, there's a good case it's obligatory for socialists.

But presenting them as CIA/State Department patsies, witting or unwitting, in this context begins to look nutty when the other shoe hasn't dropped. It's along the same lines as saying that because Corbyn accidentally chatted with a ČSSR agent posing as a low-level diplomat (along with everyone else who passed through that diplomatic mission) that he's an agent of a global Communist conspiracy. Like... that'd be one hell of a long game by the Czechoslovak government, I mean, maybe they SHOULD be running the world if their plan for a sleeper-agent takeover isn't deterred by their own nonexistence... but really, of course, it's just a willful act of mistaking incident for cause.

With people such as Blumenthal and Norton, it begins to shade into ascribing divine omnipotence to the agents of imperialism, like, if anyone posed a challenge to U.S. supremacy, they'd already be dead before anyone realized it or something. Therefore, if people change their minds, they're agents or "allowed" to do so to manage and rhetorically disarm all opposition. And that's not how that works, as I think everyone here knows when they're thinking critically. Measures of control over discourse under bourgeois democracy can be both brutal and subtle, even if they tend towards the subtle, and that management involves plenty of fakery and agents and disinformation. But there is not exactly a recognizable footprint of those here.

Maybe there will be some sort of footprint justifying suspicion in the future... but, like, this obsession with IDing people friendly to your position as agents "before it's too late"—based completely on the collective myth that everyone who was ever right was born that way, thus making literally everyone equally a target when it's "revealed" that they weren't—that line of thinking leads to our favorite clown brigade on Twitter accusing each other of being Bill Gates microchip drones for refusing to abandon germ theory as bourgeois (and pretending in front of each other that, you know, they ALWAYS sort of suspected disease might reflect the imbalance of yellow and black bile...)
Yeah I think that there was a very safe path (that other craven shills have taken) available for Blumenthal and Norton to hedge their bets and quietly cover their asses with some halfhearted weak dissent that wouldn't challenge the narrative, setting the stage to say "I was right" ten years later when it no longer mattered. They chose not to do that, knowingly put themselves in harm's way directly confronting empire and they've paid the price. That doesn't mean they've earned automatic trust no matter what forever, but I really don't see any good coming from hypervigilant over-scrutinizing of their every move anticipating some imaginary future betrayal. Just take the win.

There are enough real psyops out there, you can't let them get to you so much that you start to voluntarily psyop yourself. The fractious self sabotage that comes from treating cointelpro campaigns as omnipresent and omnipotent is the whole point of the program.
you're right that it would be insane to believe the grayzone is a psyop when the evidence points in the opposite direction. what's suspicious here is not some trail of crumbs leading from langley to norton's bedroom, or that there might be some trail of crumbs we haven't found yet, but that norton and others seem to be deliberately avoiding ideological criticism. my point was that you cannot talk about a change from wrong to right without first talking about a change in the ideological alignment of the individual or a change in the ideology itself. opportunists talk about bernie sanders that way, like his "errors" were accidental or simply a matter of course in his secular growth. the development (or stagnation) of ideology is being obscured. that's exactly what happened in norton's apology blog post when the mysterious wind swept through what would become the grayzone's office in 2015, and it's what's happened when you flattened the terms of conversation by tediously saying "most people are wrong before they're right."

that clip that synergy shared somewhere else where ben norton and aaron mate fought over the supposed tyranny of soviet rule (with norton condemning mate's fascism) is informative. i haven't been following these people very closely but i wouldn't be surprised to learn that norton is much more capable of self-criticism than he was in 2017 when he wrote that blog post. again, all he has to do is get an account at the rhizzone and explicitly authorize his will to the joint-dictatorship like the rest of us.

nearlyoctober posted:

and it's what's happened when you flattened the terms of conversation by tediously saying "most people are wrong before they're right."

LOL, no, it isn't. I said a normal thing that's correct to say. It's tedious to respond to "hello, how are you?" with "that's exactly what a Clintonite would say...! many have said this!!"


nearlyoctober posted:

opportunists talk about bernie sanders that way, like his "errors" were accidental or simply a matter of course in his secular growth.

...while Gallant points out that Bernie Sanders moved from the left TO THE RIGHT across his political career, severely so, and considers a movement from the left to the right to be different from a movement in the opposite direction.

I think that Norton and Blumenthal are probably not going to offer ideological criticism in the sense we're using the term ideology here, that is, criticism from a Marxist-Leninist perspective, and that's because... they aren't Marxist-Leninists. Maybe Norton believes himself to be one, I don't know the guy personally, but I'm sure Blumenthal doesn't see himself that way. I think this is to their detriment as critics of U.S. and Western imperialism. I think that error is going to lead to repeated shortfalls in their analysis and their critique. I think that, in turn, is going to prompt socialists to criticize them for what they miss and where they fall short and to point out how a more consistent materialist analysis provides more and better answers, answers that Norton's and Blumenthal's analysis can't.

But I also think it's a little silly to pretend that either of those guys spend their time calculating how to avoid speaking in language that doesn't reflect their point of view or—even in Norton's case if he does see himself as aligned with those politics—that doesn't seem to serve as the primary motivator for their critiques. Like... I don't really spend a lot of time "deliberately avoiding" monarchist critiques of bourgeois democracy. That's not why the stuff I say and write is free of those arguments. I'm just not a monarchist.
ok that's fine, i see what shriekingviolet means about self-psyoping and i understand how it's ridiculous to think that norton is sitting in his room scheming up ways to deceive marxist-leninists. i'm really not interested in the paranoid business of sniffing out patsy journalists and i couldn't care less about being right in 10 years when i end up on a list that blumenthal assembled. seriously i'd watch out for that guy.


nearlyoctober posted:

you cannot talk about a change from wrong to right without first talking about a change in the ideological alignment of the individual or a change in the ideology itself.

this is wrong because (and long time readers of my terrible posts will note this is the only time i'll admit to agreeing with zizek on anything) we are all eating from the trash can all the time, rolling around in the trash, going to work in a trash heap and going home and laying down our heads to sleep on a pillow made of trash

petrol that's a paradox! critique of ideology is possible. or else i eat my shoe

Edited by nearlyoctober ()

of course it's possible! that wasn't the issue.
dialecticaly: critique of ideology is possible, and I eat my shoe.
[account deactivated]
I've always favored Sherman's all journalists are confederate spies, nice to see someone of similar thinking.
got my reading list for the rest of the next couple years
unironically that is an excellent reading list.
[account deactivated]
a separate section for shakespeare lol
got my reading list for the rest of the next couple years
sam king has a recent four-parter i just found: "Is China an Imperialist Country?"
  1. What Is Imperialism?
  2. Is China Imperialist?
  3. How Can We Accurately Characterize Chinese Capitalism?
  4. Why Are the Rich Countries Escalating Aggression Against China?

as with the stuff we were eyeing from him a couple years ago, this puts some emphasis on the monopoly/non-monopoly production distinction. from the angle of capital, it makes sense enough. ditto remarks like this:

part 2 posted:

It is not usually due to lack of available funds that imperialism has tended to neglect the infrastructure needs of the poorest countries in the world. It is because likely returns on most investments there are low and risky. That Chinese capital is forced to concentrate much of its foreign investments in such economically marginal regions of the globe indicates its weakness, not strength.

that fits the bourgeois lens well enough. but then again, a less controversially socialist country might likewise assist with infrastructure projects abroad, and in that case i don't think it would be taken as a sign of weakness. it's one of those points of underdetermination that can be spun a bunch of ways depending on the agenda: "capitalist china's capital too weak to realize properly lucrative imperial returns," vs "socialist china subordinating its capitalist relations of production to other ends"

a similar thought occurs re: the relative paucity of monopoly rents compared with the core. flaunting intellectual property is a hot issue already, sparking WTO cases and a trade war with the US, and i gather this is seen as a threat most particularly to monopoly tech. but i think probably trajectory is more instructive than the position. e.g., intellectual property issues have sharpened considerably — in the leadup to joining the WTO, there were token efforts to get China to take IP more seriously, and even afterwards there was still some leeway given (with the first formal WTO complaint only arriving in '07 as far as i can see), while now it's pretty much in full screech. likewise, i see trajectory in that gdp/capita comparison in part 2 — much as where once 40 hours of Chinese labor traded for 1 US hour, these days that ratio is around 6:1. as Li was saying ages ago, the gradual tapering off of surplus value capture implied by figures like that has enormous implications for the shape and stability of the world economy, regardless

all in all, the assessments of part 4 ring true to me — the US/China battle overall resembles less an inter-imperialist conflict than one between imperial & national capitals.

still not sure whether to be a china optimist or pessimist. maybe another 10 books will help.

[account deactivated]

Acdtrux posted:

do enterprises controlled by communist parties own capital?

that depends what is meant by "control" and "own" and i think the answer is not straightforward

Was looking to do some reading on the concept of "authoritarianism" especially as it lends to linking Nazi Germany, USSR, China, etc together in the minds of the average lib. Does anybody have JSTOR access? I tried signing up for the 100 free articles but the good shit is locked away. I wanted to read this: https://www.jstor.org/stable/3638259

Feel free to slap me down and tell me its dumb to read or I'm dumb. Also interested in more contemporary takes but I enjoy the historical journal format.
[account deactivated]
[account deactivated]

Acdtrux posted:

i think i discovered this by accident but scihub works best if you paste urls into the search bar instead of searching for article titles

Teach a comrade to fish… thank you!

[account deactivated]