#18521
the secret history - donna tartt; mostly because i need to relax before reading 2666
#18522

Constantignoble posted:

lo posted:


nice work tears-san. i'm reading a book on ancient egypt by this guy with a funny name https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Assmann


hell yeah, i just stumbled on him some months back, while working on that stupid essay that's ended up lying fallow for the last 8 months or so

so, some years back, RedMaistre pointed me to this roberto calasso poem that's relevant to the piece, that I will most definitely be including somewhere in there:



Arcana Imperii

Originally power was scattered in one place, aura and miasma.
Then it was joined in Melchizedek, priest and king.
Then it was divided between a priest and king.
Then it was joined in a king.
Then it was divided between a king and a law.
Then it was joined in the law.
Then the law was divided into many rules.
Then the rules were scattered everywhere.




but i noticed a slight discrepancy between versions of it i've seen; in some renderings, "scattered" is instead translated as "spread." so i naturally wondered about the original italian. while hunting around, the first place I found it was referenced inside an italian essay



In origine il potere era diffuso in un luogo, aura e miasma.



"era diffuso" kind of paints its own picture -- diffused, widespread; feels smoother than "scattered" maybe?

said essay also describes the poem as "una sorta di cratogonia," or "a sort of cratogony." The hell's that word? not in this dictionary. hm!

after some digging, i found it was a coining of a certain famous egyptologist:


The Heliopolitan cosmogony is at the same time what may be called a “cratogony”: a mythical account of the emergence and development of political power.



that was from "Creation Through Hieroglyphs: The Cosmic Grammatology of Ancient Egypt." cool, cool.

then i noticed that name. and y'know, i was engaged in very Serious Scholarly Pursuits; it does not do at all to be reduced to tears while laughing at a name. but alas

Edited by Constantignoble (Aug. 22, 2023 11:11:24)



this reminded me to finally read the copy of the ruin of kasch i bought five years ago, which turned out to be a good decision. strange book. never thought anything would make me want to read max stirner, if only as a prototype of the underground man

#18523
i am reading 'the golden horde: revolutionary italy 1960–1977' and it's got all kinds of cool things about the various radical currents in italy during the aformentioned time period. just now i was reading a part about student radicalism in the catholic university, and there was a brief mention of one of the student radicals having written a 70 page essay justifying prenuptial sexual relations with reference to the teachings of thomas aquinas for his girlfriend
#18524
rereading the ruin of kasch (and stendhal and proust) while i wait for the marriage of cadmus and harmony to come in the mail. as much as i'd like to skip from 1983 to 2017 by reading 'the unnameable present,' i'm going to read his books chronologically because i'm worried that an encounter with 21st century politics will abjure calasso's neo-gnostic aura. even if internet pornography as the basis of salafism is a compelling thesis. it's funny that he endorses talleyrand's hatred of bon mots when his first book is full of them. 'in heaven, atheists are frequently accused of credulity'
#18525
there are books that you read and feel are profound while reading them, and never think of again (borges, calvino, sebald). then there are books that don't feel like much of anything but are true. finally there are books like calasso's that have to be absorbed for months before you can even begin to decide where to attack them for their untruth. in the ruin of kasch calasso mentions cioran once in passing, but it gives everything away
#18526

kinch posted:

while i wait for the marriage of cadmus and harmony to come in the mail.


this book rocks , although im not familiar enough with his other output to understand the rest of the post and whether youre reading it from an exclusively critical perspective

#18527
still working on kasch myself. i also enjoyed the first chapter of Literature and the Gods. haven't read past that, yet, tho

i really have a problem with finishing things i start — even the things i'm enjoying

Edited by Constantignoble ()

#18528

lo posted:

i am reading 'the golden horde: revolutionary italy 1960–1977' and it's got all kinds of cool things about the various radical currents in italy during the aformentioned time period. just now i was reading a part about student radicalism in the catholic university, and there was a brief mention of one of the student radicals having written a 70 page essay justifying prenuptial sexual relations with reference to the teachings of thomas aquinas for his girlfriend


this book is cool. apart from the funny anecdotes about catholic radicals, there are two things that have struck me so far. one is that it's really emphasised how the failure of the italian communist party and the emergence of alternative left groups in the 60s was caused by their fundamentally productivist strategy - they basically had the idea that if they as leaders of the working class helped to construct the new postwar economy(viewed as unified by the resistance to fascism) they could ultimately win concessions from the state in the direction of socialism. of course what happened really is that they were accomplices in constructing a new capitalism that hadn't really existed in italy before, fueled by the migration of former peasants from southern italy to the rapidly industrialising cities. in the 60s discontent started to spread among these new workers(who had no historical connection to the communist party or the unions in the way that the older group of more professionalised workers did) in particular and they started to cast around for alternatives to the communist party, which lead to all these alternative left tendencies popping up questioning the official communist party line and strategy. productivism keeps coming up in my marxism reading no matter where i turn and i feel like it might be an important subject!
the other thing is that some of the theoretical questions that they were debating around the necessity of the seizure of power and the form of the dictatorship of the proletariat were not actually that different from some of what came up in china during the cultural revolution. the main difference being that obviously none of these italian groups were in a country where power had actually been seized, so you had tendencies deciding that maybe it was possible to build some kind of alternative socialist thing without actually seizing state power. this seems fairly obviously misguided from our perspective but there is some overlap in the questions being asked by some of these italians with the questions that mao had started to pose in the 70s, where he was questioning the form that the dictatorship of the proletariat had taken up to then and potentially casting about for a new stage in that form. anyway the book is worth a read if you are interested in italy!

#18529

lo posted:

the emergence of alternative left groups in the 60s was caused by their fundamentally productivist strategy - they basically had the idea that if they as leaders of the working class helped to construct the new postwar economy(viewed as unified by the resistance to fascism) they could ultimately win concessions from the state in the direction of socialism


It might be a mark that I'm not thinking of the concept enough, but I don't think I've ever seen "productivism" deployed for... I guess a sort of pre-revolutionary stakhanovism?

I mean, what you're saying makes sense to me, because it still falls under "transforming productive forces as a substitute for, rather than complement to, transforming productive relations"; I guess I'm just gobsmacked to see the question arise before state power is even seized. wowie, italia

#18530

Constantignoble posted:

lo posted:


the emergence of alternative left groups in the 60s was caused by their fundamentally productivist strategy - they basically had the idea that if they as leaders of the working class helped to construct the new postwar economy(viewed as unified by the resistance to fascism) they could ultimately win concessions from the state in the direction of socialism


It might be a mark that I'm not thinking of the concept enough, but I don't think I've ever seen "productivism" deployed for... I guess a sort of pre-revolutionary stakhanovism?

I mean, what you're saying makes sense to me, because it still falls under "transforming productive forces as a substitute for, rather than complement to, transforming productive relations"; I guess I'm just gobsmacked to see the question arise before state power is even seized. wowie, italia


i think it's not unprecedented for groups that haven't seized state power yet - if you look at a lot of the current microparties that are pro post mao china for example, their reasoning is often based on the idea that deng and his successors were good because they raised the productive forces. though i suppose this is a little different as these groups are mostly just taking a position on another country and are so insignificant in their own countries that they don't have any ability to contribute to economic construction there. i think some other reformist type groups can be thought of similarly although they may not have conceptualised their ideas in this way explicitly..

#18531

Constantignoble posted:

(incidentally, i could swear i recall Cope or someone detailing somewhere that an opportunistic worker/landlord alliance was what led to some of the legislative acts that helped first give rise to the labor aristocracy in 19C england, but i need to figure out where)


It's been like two years but I just happened across it; it's from a section of the long intro Cope & Lauesen wrote to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: On Colonies, Industrial Monopoly and the Working Class Movement.

From Dangerous Class to National Citizenship

In the second half of the 19th century, the conditions of the European proletariat slowly began to change. For the first time in the history of capitalism, the capitalists had to pay wages above the mere subsistence level. This first tiny improvement was not primarily a result of the fight of the proletariat itself. The labor movement was politically weaker than before and Chartism had been impaired by cleavage and corruption. Rather, these first improvements in wages and working conditions for the British proletariat were due to contradictions between rival factions of the ruling class.

As noted, Britain had a virtual monopoly of industrial goods at the beginning of the 19th century, resulting in extra profits. However, these profits did not only go to the industrial capitalists, and during the first part of the century it definitely did not result in higher real wages for the working class either. Paradoxically, a large portion of the extra profits from the industrial monopoly was passed on to the landowning class, its historically strong position in Parliament having allowed it to introduce an embargo on the import of corn and other agricultural products into Britain from 1804. The landowners could thereby maintain a high level of prices for their products ensuring that capitalists had to pay their workers comparatively high nominal wages just to enable them to live above the breadline.

By this artificially high price of corn the landowners could apportion to themselves a considerable part of the extra profits earned by Britain’s industrial monopoly. Therefore, in the 1840s the industrial capitalists struggled to have the Corn Laws repealed. Allied with the working class they succeeded in 1846. The reopening of the importation of corn from Prussia and later from the United States caused a fall in the prices of bread and other food.

Following the fall in corn prices, the industrial capitalists tried to decrease wages, but the working class was able to limit this decrease and thus obtain an improvement. This victory was added to shortly after the abrogation of the Corn Laws, by the introduction of a ten-hour working day, a goal for which the workers had been fighting for thirty years. Here organized labor was unexpectedly supported by the landowners in Parliament, who thirsted for revenge on the industrial capitalists.

The extra profits of the British industrial monopoly and the internal fight between landowners and industrial capitalists meant that the wages of the British working class were increased above the subsistence level at which they had been so far kept. Between 1850 and 1872, imports of wheat more than doubled and imports of meat increased eightfold. Slowly the bourgeoisie changed its political strategy from repression of the “dangerous classes” to a gradual inclusion of the working class as national citizens. In the 1860s and 1870s both Napoleon III of France and the Conservative government in England allowed the working class to organize. Socialist parties were formed in all Western European countries while the trade union movement grew in strength. The right to vote was extended to include men from the working class, wage levels rose, and the first social and health insurance systems were introduced.

Parallel to this development was a de-radicalization of the Western European working class. It had left the 1848 revolutions and the Paris barricades behind in favor of parliamentarism and negotiation with employers. Class struggle became a controlled process within the parameters set by the system. Working-class political parties and trade unions successfully fought for higher wages and better working conditions, for unemployment and health insurance, pensions, and so forth. The result was a compromise between capital and the working class which dampened the future form class struggle would take.

This historic compromise had a dark side. The developing welfare services of the state, and the widening and deepening of the franchise, united the former “dangerous classes” behind the nation-state in imperialist wars. So that the citizens in the center of the Empire could enjoy a growing welfare, ideologies of “national interest” and racism arose to justify policies which, by contrast, meant death and misery for the people in the colonies. It is this that Australian academic M.G.E. Kelly calls “biopolitical imperialism.”

“Imperialism, therefore, is primarily thanatopolitical, a politics of death, contrasting with the biopolitics of the population found within the metropole. There is, I will contend, a direct relation between the two things, in which death is figuratively exported and life imported back, in a systematic degradation of the possibilities for biopolitics in the periphery, arising out of the operation of biopolitics in the center. …

“I will argue that biopolitics constitutes a missing link in explaining how imperialism involves ordinary people of the First World. For one thing, biopolitics provides a mechanism by which the profits of imperialism may be spread to a whole population. By uniting us in a single population, moreover, biopolitics generates solidarity between ordinary people and elites.” (Kelly 2015, pp. 18–19)

Mike Davis (2000, p. 59) illustrates this reality through case studies of India, China, and Brazil that show how imperialism in the form of direct governmental intervention or “neutral” economic processes destroys the health and welfare of these countries’ populations:

“Between 1875–1900—a period that included the worst famines in Indian history—annual grain exports increased from 3 to 10 million tons, equivalent to the annual nutrition of 25m people. Indeed, by the turn of the century, India was supplying nearly a fifth of Britain’s wheat consumption at the cost of its own food security.”

In addition India also had to pay a part of the British Empire’s military effort in cash and lives:

“Already saddled with a huge public debt that included reimbursing the stockholders of the East India Company and paying the costs of the 1857 revolt, India also had to finance British military supremacy in Asia. In addition to incessant proxy warfare with Russia on the Afghan frontier, the subcontinent’s masses also subsidized such far-flung adventures of the Indian Army as the occupation of Egypt, the invasion of Ethiopia, and the conquest of the Sudan. As a result, military expenditures never comprised less than 25 percent (34 percent including police) of India’s annual budget” (ibid, pp. 60–1).

As an example of the restructuring of the local economy to suit imperial needs regardless of the consequences for the population in the colonies, Davis (ibid, p. 66) notes: “During the famine of 1899–1900, when 143,000 Beraris died directly from starvation, the province exported not only thousands of bales of cotton but an incredible 747,000 bushels of grain.”



edit: oh yeah, i had posted the entire intro like five years ago. aging sucks.

Edited by Constantignoble ()

#18532

Constantignoble posted:


this is an interesting connection because the labour situation in italy had some similarities to the 19th century one in other parts of europe. like, one of the demands that the workers had in the late 60s was a 40 hour work week for example, because often they were still working way more than that. and a lot of the radical changes in italian capitalism postwar seem to have been because they were basically modernising it and bringing in innovations that already existed elsewhere like taylorist management of factories.

#18533
i'm glad the rhizzone isn't dead so that i can post about whatever stupid marxist crap i've been reading. right now it's 'the apprentice's sorceror' by ishay landa, which is a very smartly written book about the connections between classical liberalism and fascism.i haven't finished it yet, however, in a section discussing sorel, there is some stuff that touches on productivism that i found very interesting. essentially, sorel advocated for a sort of left anarchist like conception of workers engaging in spontaneous general strikes. however, the almost explicitly stated purpose of this worker militancy was to cause the regeneration of liberalism, to return it to the strength it had had in the 19th century. in other words, the worker militancy was designed to fail, and in failing regenerate capitalism.

Ishay landa posted:

For whereas the majority of the liberals of the time feared the consequences of radical politics, democratic as well as revolutionary, for a capitalist economy, Sorel shared only the former concern, namely with respect to parliamentary socialism. By contrast, he welcomed working-class intransigence as a force for economic liberalism. Herein is a vital insight into the evasive substance of his ideological stance. Hence, Sorel’s “anti-materialist revision of Marxism” was not, ultimately, a theoretical construction meant to succour socialism, but to succour liberalism; it is strange, but nonetheless true, that in ultra-left ism Sorel saw a way of ensuring a renaissance of the era of “the captains of industry” against the age of the passive-nihilistic “last man,” prophesized by Nietzsche. Th is also sheds light on Sorel’s everpresent cultural attacks on the bourgeoisie, which Sternhell makes a great deal of. Attentively read, however, such attacks usually reveal themselves to be directed rather at mass society and culture. It is not exaggerated to say that “the bourgeoisie” in Sorel’s use is generally a codename for the masses. What he lampoons has very little do with bourgeois civilization insofar as it is capitalistic, in fact targeting the very opposite tendency, the renunciation of capitalist production, and the perceived sliding back into primitivism.



on reading this i thought of the cultural revolution, where it was commonly thought that the ultraleft currents had been intentionally strengthened by the rightists in order to discredit socialist policies and allow pro capitalist policies to be introduced. immediately after this, we've got a passage from gramsci outright suggesting that modern economism descends from sorelian stype syndicalism:

This liberist footing of syndicalism, especially in its theoretical manifestations, was illuminatingly inspected by Antonio Gramsci in his Prison Notebooks, who suggested considering “to what degree theoretical syndicalism derives . . . from the economic doctrines of free trade—i.e. in the last analysis from liberalism. Hence it should be considered whether economism, in its most developed form, is not a direct descendant of liberalism”



in addition to that, sorel's conception of work was essentially one that privileged production for its own sake, without any concept of the workers gaining from this, or freeing themselves from toil - they were expected to selflessly work to increase production without regard for their own position. sorel also uses military metaphors and references when talking about this stuff, which prefigures some right oppositional fascist figures like junger, but also made me think of the proposals trotsky was making in the 20s for militarised compulsory work programs in the ussr. again we've got the same kind of things being proposed by ostensibly far right and far left figures with likely similar results. i don't totally know where i'm going with this but it seems important to the phenomenon of productivism more generally..

#18534
i am just starting to read "Critical Education Against Global Capitalism" by Paula Allman, which was recommended to me by someone who believes it advances revolutionary pedagogy to the next level after Freire & co (though it's funny that it's always a "Paul," either way)

i'm slow-rolling it because life is busy lately, but i'll report back as i make progress
#18535
any of you fellas reading? *crickets chirping* i'm reading this book called 'the world turned upside down' by christopher hill, which is about various radical groups and sects during the english revolution. it is ok, there is a lot of information on the groups and what they believed, however it is a little difficult to approach if you don't already have a working knowledge of the period and the different events, and it probably would have been a good idea to read hill's general book on the period first, but i only found a worn copy of this one at the op shop so i didn't do that. anyway, most interesting to me so far has been that gerrard winstanley, the main ideologue of the true levellers/diggers, emerges much more explicitly as a proto communist than i expected. the true levellers/diggers were basically trying to do radical land reform by occupying vacant land and cultivating it communnally, with an eye to removing all enclosed land and organising the populace to join them. despite the fact that the true levellers, like all of these groups, were religious sects, winstanley's thought seems to have been moving towards a kind of materialism, where god was thought of as just existence as apprehended by the senses. the communes only existed for a fairly short time before they were violently suppressed by the landowners, but even this short period of experiment seems to have lead to interesting changes in his thought - his first ideas about how a new society would be organised were utopian, sort of anarchist - in marxist terms he thought the state would wither away immediately and no centralised authority would be required; after the suppression of the communes though he thought that the state would not wither away immediately and that some kind of centralised body would be needed to maintain the land reform and defend it from counterattack. it's interesting to see someone hundreds of years before marx come up with broadly similar solutions to later marxists when it comes to problems of what happens when a revolution takes power.
#18536
i’ve got landas last book laying around here somewhere. maybe i should read it
#18537

Bablu posted:

just got done reading spitzel: a little social history edited by klaus viehmann and markus mohr. it's an interesting snapshot in time of what the german security state apparatus was doing to collect information on, infiltrate, and entrap left groupings around that period as well as a good explanation of what a healthy paranoia of informants looks like in practice


is this in english anywhere

#18538
idk but here's it google translated, somewhat garbled https://filebin.net/jurbl8ijz29mh53q

edit: reuploaded link

Edited by Bablu ()

#18539
found out why posting slumped off
#18540
earlier today i finished ford maddox fords the good soldier, it was good, i dont have much in depth to say because i am still digesting it but gee golly, the man can write a novel ! ! !
#18541
please continue reading, everyone, so that we can make more posts(the post factory's production rates have been far too low recently)
#18542
All the books I've been reading lately are literal trash, one that springs to mind is a horribly Reddit thing that was sold to me as a sexy fresh analysis of future global geopolitics which reductively boils everything down to birthrates and population aging, and that we will have a new American century on our hands because the rest of the worlds' economies, especially China's, will be lumbered by old people and collapse within a couple of decades
#18543
So nice, posted twice
#18544
I've been reading the horror author Brian Evenson recently. I just finished his first novel Last Days, which was really fantastic, exactly what I look for in fiction. Midway through his short story collection The Glassy, Burning Floor of Hell, which has also been very good.

As for nonfiction I have a stack of Kohei Saito books sitting on my table that are up next.
#18545
i'm not reading it per se but i just wanted to share that i found a book called "The Dangerous Class: The Concept of the Lumpenproletariat" by Clyde W. Barrow

the introduction begins with this sentence

This book is the first comprehensive analysis of the concept of the lumpenproletariat in Marxist political theory.



it came out in 2020 — around three years after a certain almost identically named book

(the latter does not appear in the bibliography)

#18546

Constantignoble posted:

i'm not reading it per se but i just wanted to share that i found a book called "The Dangerous Class: The Concept of the Lumpenproletariat" by Clyde W. Barrow

the introduction begins with this sentence



This book is the first comprehensive analysis of the concept of the lumpenproletariat in Marxist political theory.



it came out in 2020 — around three years after a certain almost identically named book

(the latter does not appear in the bibliography)


this guy seems to be a tenured academic, so i'm not very surprised that he wouldn't mention sakai anywhere