Shameless self-promotion

King of all (Internet) media

March 14th, 2012  |  Published in Shameless self-promotion

As someone who compulsively woke up early to watch Al Jazeera English cover the Egyptian revolution last year, I’m surprised and pleased to now find myself with an op-ed running on the AJE website. Blog readers still get my ideas fresh and hot out of the kitchen, though—the column expands on something I wrote back in January about SOPA, intellectual property, and related issues.

Meanwhile, it looks like that Bloggingheads appearance is getting around. Thanks to Glenn Greenwald for highlighting our discussion of Obama’s awful civil liberties record, in his post on the administration’s shameful role in the imprisonment of a Yemeni journalist. Although I do have to object to being called a “liberal”.

My Bloggingheads Debut

March 11th, 2012  |  Published in Shameless self-promotion

If you enjoy the writing of me or Mike “Rortybomb” Konczal, you’re sure to love staring at our big bald white heads as we jabber about politics. Behold, my first appearance on bloggingheads.tv, as Mike’s guest on the new Roosevelt Institute series “Fireside Chats”:

We get into the state of the left, capitalism’s inherent tendency to crisis, the basic income, labor and automation, and of course, Star Trek. I’m not too experienced in doing stuff in this format, but I think it turned out OK. Thanks to Mike for inviting me on—there aren’t a lot of liberal think tank folks who would think to have a kook like me on as their first guest.

In other news of radical socialist media domination, my comrades at the Democratic Socialists of America had a brief moment of fame on the Daily Show:

I think DSA national director Maria Svart acquitted herself well, especially in contrast to “Trotskyist From Central Casting” and libertarian nutball Wayne Allyn Root.

More Jacobin Content: Working Time and Feminism

January 12th, 2012  |  Published in Shameless self-promotion, Social Science, Time, Work

With all the writing I do about our encroaching dystopia of artificial scarcity and rentier elites, it’s always slightly embarrassing when my writing is trapped behind a paywall. Fortunately, both of my contributions to the new Jacobin have entered the digital commons, now that my editorial on working time and feminism has been posted online. This web version preserves the print and PDF formatting, so it also shows off the work of our fantastic new designer, Remeike Forbes.

My editorial isn’t particularly radical, especially in contrast to the speculative reveries of my main essay in the issue. But I felt like it was worth taking the time to say that if we’re to talk about reducing working time—something that’s a central political concern of mine—we have to be clear that paid work isn’t the only kind, and that reducing time in waged work can sometimes be in tension with equalizing the gender division of labor.

I do wish, though, that I’d said a little more about the institution of the nuclear family, which functions as a kind of unstated premise of my whole editorial. Just after I wrote it, I read this essay by Jenny Turner on recent feminism, which draws out a great point from Toni Morrison by way of Nina Power:

‘Sometimes the things that look the hardest have the simplest answers,’ Nina Power writes towards the end of her chapbook, One Dimensional Woman. She then hands over to Toni Morrison speaking to Time magazine in 1989. On single-parent households: ‘Two parents can’t raise a child any more than one. You need a whole community … The little nuclear family is a paradigm that just doesn’t work. It doesn’t work for white people or for black people. Why we are hanging onto it I don’t know.’ On ‘unwed teenage pregnancies’: ‘Nature wants it done then, when the body can handle it, not after 40, when the income can … The question is not morality, the question is money. That’s what we’re upset about.’ On how to break the ‘cycle of poverty’, given that ‘you can’t just hand out money’: ‘Why not? Everybody [else] gets everything handed to them … I mean what people take for granted among the middle and upper classes, which is nepotism, the old-boy network. That’s the shared bounty of class.’

What about education? If all these girls spend their teenage years having babies, they won’t be able to become teachers and brain surgeons, not to mention missing out on cheap beer, storecards, halls of residence. To which Morrison, with splendour, rejoins: ‘They can be teachers. They can be brain surgeons. We have to help them become brain surgeons. That’s my job. I want to take them in my arms and say: “Your baby is beautiful and so are you and, honey, you can do it. And when you want to be a brain surgeon, call me – I will take care of your baby.” That’s the attitude you have to have about human life.’

Leaving aside the point about “just handing out money“, which I obviously love, this point about the nuclear family struck me just recently, because I was writing an entry for an academic encyclopedia on the topic of the “24/7 economy”—that is, the fact that 40 percent of employees in the United States don’t work Monday to Friday 9 to 5 jobs, but instead work evenings, nights, weekends, or rotating shifts. Scholars of these “non-standard” work schedules often point out that they tend to make child care logistically difficult, but usually this is posed as a contrast with the “normal” situation of a couple working standard hours. Workers with non-standard hours are much more likely to rely on their relatives for child care, for example; but rather than viewing this the way Morrison does, as an opening onto a more humane and realistic way of organizing care work, it is instead portrayed as a problem and a burden, something which threatens to strain relations between family members.

As long as single and dual parent nuclear families are the norm, it makes sense for the Left to demand policies that at least ease the burden of unpaid work on women, which is what my essay was about. But I’d very much like to reclaim the old socialist-feminist idea that, as Turner puts it, “any politics worth having has to start with the nuclear family: its impossibility, its wastefulness, its historical contingency.” I wouldn’t ultimately be satisfied with reforming the current relations of re-production any more than I just want to humanize the relations of production—the point is to overturn them.

An Honor Just to be Nominated

December 5th, 2011  |  Published in Shameless self-promotion

The folks over at 3 Quarks Daily are awarding their third annual prize for “the best blog writing in politics & social science”, and someone was nice enough to nominate my musings on Anti-Star Trek. A first round of voting is underway here, which will narrow the selections down to twenty semi-finalists; the winners will then be picked by celebrity guest judge Stephen Walt.

If you’d prefer not to inflate my ego any further, two other especially deserving choices were written by friends of this blog: Corey Robin on conservative radicalism and Aaron Bady on power and Occupy Cal. Just whatever you do, please don’t vote for that Ezra Klein post.

Tune in Next Week for an All New Episode

October 3rd, 2011  |  Published in Shameless self-promotion

I’ve been preoccupied with moving out of the apartment I’ve lived in for 6 years and now I’m in the process of moving to Europe for three months, so today’s post is a clip show; regular programming will resume next week. My last post was somewhat controversial, and elicited responses from both Marcy Wheeler and DJW at Lawyers, Guns, and Money. Those deserve serious responses, but that will have to wait until I have some more time.

Meanwhile, we’re in reruns. Most of this blog’s readers have discovered it in the past few months, due to the much-appreciated publicity of folks like Matt Yglesias, Mike Konczal, and Henry Farrell (and with a special hat tip to John Boy for being the O.G. of promoting my writing when I couldn’t be bothered to do it myself). But I’ve actually been blogging on and off for years; until recently, I wrote mostly for myself and a few friends, indifferent to the possibility of finding a broader audience. But as long as you’re all here, I figured I’d point out a few of my favorite posts from this site’s pre-history, which I think at least sort of hold up. There are some elements of style and content that I wouldn’t repeat now, but I still hold to the core ideas.

  • On the Mode of Production. This one is quite old, but it’s still the best attempt I’ve come up with at expressing something I think about Marxism, and about theories of history in general, that I think is both unusual and important. The short version is that I think Marxism is a theory of capitalism, not a theory of history, and I’m skeptical that a fully trans-historical account of human societies is even possible. (Although David Graeber’s new book on debt makes a good run at one; more on that later.)

  • The Game Beyond the Game. My case for a radical rather than liberal interpretation of The Wire.

  • Idiocracy‘s Theory of the Future. This is actually high up on the list of my most-viewed posts of all time, but all of that traffic seems to be from search engines. It’s my reckoning with a movie that’s both under-appreciated and deeply fucked up, a post that belongs in the same lineage of arguments that produced my break-out hit single “Anti-Star Trek”.

  • Marx’s Theory of Alien Nation. How capitalism is like an alien invasion.

  • Art as Art, Anti-Art, Post-Art. My one and only attempt at art criticism, which is probably going to seem foolish or old hat to people who actually know about this stuff. But for what it’s worth, I once put this argument to Ad Reinhardt’s grandson (who’s a theater director), and he found it at least plausible.

Das Anti-Star Trek

August 29th, 2011  |  Published in anti-Star Trek, Shameless self-promotion

It’s pretty cool to discover that someone likes your writing enough to translate it for free. So I’m happy to report that my most popular post of all time is now available in German at systempunkte.org, which was described to me as “a blog platform with a broadly left-libertarian and anarchist focus.”

Thanks to Chris from systempunkte for doing the translation. If any of my readers happen to be Deutsch-speaking, let me know what you think of it.

Welcome, Anonymous Internet Hordes

July 15th, 2011  |  Published in Shameless self-promotion

Crikey! Seven months after I wrote it, Anti-Star Trek seems to have gone slightly viral. In the past two days I’ve gotten traffic from, at a minimum: Matt Yglesias, Metafilter, Marginal Utility, Gerry Canavan, Against Monopoly, and the On the Media Twitter feed (!). Consequently, today is the highest traffic day in the history of this humble website. And I’m happy it’s from that post, which is one of my favorite things that I’ve written here. Thanks, everybody!

So I suppose I might as well mention that there’s a new issue of Jacobin out now, and I have a contribution in it that discusses the Wisconsin protests through the lens of theories of nationalism and the disappearance of the industrial working class as the collective agent of anti-capitalist struggle. But in a rather unfortunate irony, given that I’m getting all this attention for a post about the dystopian future of artificial scarcity, the article is not currently available online. So you’ll have to shell out for either the paper or digital version if you want to read it. But there’s lots of good stuff in there, some of which is online, so I recommend at least taking a look.