Friday Reading to Project on the Verizon Building of Your Mind

November 18th, 2011  |  Published in Uncategorized

This was a wild week for Occupy protests around the country—more than ever, I hate being so far away from everything that’s happening. Congrats to everyone in New York, Oakland, and everywhere else. If you’re around New York City and you’re trying to figure out where Occupy Wall Street goes from here, you’ll want to check out the next [*Jacobin* magazine event](http://jacobinmag.com/blog/2011/11/event-nyc-1128-ows-whats-phase-two/), which is happening at Columbia University on Monday, November 28th. Frances Fox Piven, Dorian Warren, Nikhil Saval, Mike Hirsch and Liza Featherstone will be there, and I’m sure it will be a great discussion. And I’m cautiously optimistic that none of our panelists will get fired for participating this time.

What else is new:

– I really wish this new pro-OWS single wasn’t by [Third Eye Blind](http://youtu.be/0gf45vXByCg). Now my non-sectarian, solidaristic leftist side is at war with my snotty, elitist music hipster side. And no, I couldn’t bring myself to actually listen to it.

– The robots are coming: soon farmworkers may be replaced by [charming little robots](http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2011/11/mobile-farm-robots/).

– The nationwide drop in crime is linked to [falling cocaine prices](http://www.theatlanticcities.com/jobs-and-economy/2011/11/cocaine-plummeting-price-nationwide-drop-violent-crime/474/). I grew up during the “Murderapolis” era of violence and high crack prices in Minneapolis, so this rings true to me. And it’s a truly damning indictment of the War on Drugs, which was meant to *raise* drug prices: not only has the War been a failure, but if it had succeeded it would have been an even bigger disaster.

– This [article](https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/16696-FACT-CHECK-SCADA-Systems-Are-Online-Now.html) about the network security vulnerabilities of airplanes, power plants, and transportation systems is terrifying.

– If you’re a leftist and a nerd (and if you’re not at least one of those things, why would you be reading this?), then this is the one link you must clink: science fiction author David Brin [demolishes](http://davidbrin.wordpress.com/2011/11/13/move-over-frank-miller-or-why-the-occupy-wall-street-kids-are-better-than-spartans/) the mendacious, fascist politics of graphic novelist Frank Miller. And if that doesn’t sate your appetite for Miller-bashing, move on to [Gary Brecher’s](http://www.exile.ru/articles/detail.php?ARTICLE_ID=8516&IBLOCK_ID=35) contribution on the topic. In addition to enjoying the polemic, I learned a lot about ancient Greek history from these posts.

– This is awesome: [“Angry over spying, Muslims say: ‘Don’t call NYPD'”](http://m.apnews.com/ap/db_16026/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=XdURQgia). Under the circumstances, “stop snitching” strikes me as exactly the right attitude. Christians might want to [adopt the same position](http://thinkprogress.org/special/2011/11/18/372320/new-york-churches-shelter-occupy-protesters-now-monitored-by-new-york-police/).

– This is so marvellously bonkers: Marxist philosopher G.A. Cohen [interviews Stalin](http://www.youtube.com/user/nvrousalis#p/u/23/yZmZp9kift0), as portrayed by Marxist philosopher G.A. Cohen.

– This [socialist defense of consumerism](http://blogs.exeter.ac.uk/unfinishedbusiness/blog/2011/11/16/liberte-egalite-alterite-towards-a-consumerist-critique-of-capitalism-and-a-socialist-defence-of-consumer-culture/) is on the right track. Socialism should be epicurean, not ascetic.

– This Chinese [alternative to the Nobel prize](http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/chinas-alternative-nobel-prize-to-be-awarded-to-putin-6262758.html) is just trolling the real Nobel committee’s Obama pick by giving it to Putin, right? Also: “The first award went to the former Taiwanese vice-president, Lien Chan, though Mr Lien did not show up to claim it at a somewhat surreal ceremony. The award and a prize of 100,000 yuan (£9,500) were instead given to a young girl, whom organisers refused to identify.”

– This episode of Matt Taibbi’s [Supreme Court of Assholedom](http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/supreme-court-of-assholedom-the-people-vs-steve-jobs-20111116) isn’t as funny as some of the earlier installments, but it turns out to be the most serious reckoning I’ve seen with the issue of Steve Jobs idolatry.

– Bloods and Crips [come together](http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/07/occupy-atlanta-bloods-and_n_1080477.html) at Occupy Atlanta. That’s basically an irrelevant bit of human interest trivia, but it gives me an excuse to post this memento of [peace treaty](http://www.gangresearch.net/GangResearch/Policy/cripsbloodsplan.html)-era LA gangsta rap.

– I’ve been a bit ambivalent about a lot of the Evgeny Morozov stuff I’ve read, but [this is exactly right](http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2011/11/salman_rushdie_and_facebook_s_pseudonym_policy_.html). He comes out strongly in favor of the right to be anonymous online, which I’ve also [written about](http://www.peterfrase.com/2010/03/in-defense-of-anonymity/).

– Do you want to see Bill Gates in a 1995 promo where he goes inside the video game *Doom* and kills demons with a shotgun? Of course you do:

– This Rock Paper Shotgun [review of *Modern Warfare 3*](http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/11/18/wot-i-think-modern-warfare-3-single-player) is what video game criticism should be like. In something I linked last week, Adorno said that “Because people have to work so hard, there is a sense in which they spend their spare time obsessively repeating the rituals of the efforts that have been demanded of them.” And now John Walker at RPS says:
> It fascinates me that this is the successful formula, the secret behind being the biggest FPS series of all time. It turns out people don’t want to be that hero at the forefront, making glorious decisions and bravely leading the way. They want to be the nobody who can only ever do what he’s told, and that’s on the rare occasions when he’s actually able to control himself. This game has the word “follow” on screen almost as often as it doesn’t. It floats above the head of whomever it is you’re with, ensuring you know your place, which is never to be in front, never to pick the direction, never to make a tactical decision. You follow. It says so.

– The National Review gives us [an interview](http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/271937/liberal-reads-great-conservative-works-carl-t-bogus?pg=2) with a liberal who informs us that “Conservatives have big appetites for ideology; liberals don’t. There are, of course, taxonomies of conservative schools of thought. People on the right classify themselves as libertarians, neoconservatives, social conservatives, traditional conservatives, and the like, and spill oceans of ink defining, debating, and further subdividing these schools of thought. There is no parallel taxonomy on the left.” Dude, *what*? I don’t think you actually know what “the left” is.

– Obvious argument is obvious: it’s hard to convince people that people get rich by working hard when [people don’t actually get rich by working hard](http://econospeak.blogspot.com/2011/11/discipline-hard-work-and-obscene-wealth.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+espeak+%28EconoSpeak%29).

– Economists have done a lot of real-world damage with their bad theoretical models, so I’m glad to see that us sociologists are getting a chance to [ruin everything](http://themonkeycage.org/blog/2011/11/16/blame-the-sociologists/) for a change.

Nigel Tufnel Day Links

November 11th, 2011  |  Published in Uncategorized

Happy [Nigel Tufnel Day](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigel_Tufnel#Nigel_Tufnel_Day), y’all. I’ll take 11-11-11 over 9-9-9 any time.

– America, you have a choice. You can be a nation that [peacefully protests in defense of the 99 percent](http://zunguzungu.wordpress.com/2011/11/10/how-it-works/), or you can be a nation that [riots in defense of rich child-rapists and their enablers](http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/11/sports/ncaafootball/penn-state-students-in-clashes-after-joe-paterno-is-ousted.html). Your choice, but if you take the second option I may just stay in Europe.

– In light of [what went down](http://zunguzungu.wordpress.com/2011/11/10/this-just-happened/) at the University of California, this couldn’t be more appropriate:

– This is what I like to see: about time my Minnesota brothers and sisters [got down](http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/news/2011/11/08/occupy-mn-protestors-occupy-foreclosed-minneapolis-home) with moving Occupy in the direction of foreclosure defense.

– This, friends, is how you deal with police provocateurs. This is our line!

– I’m kind of thin skinned, so I have a tendency to let it get to me when people say nasty things about me online. But the negative reactions I get are pretty mild, and I don’t have to put up with the kind of insane, violently abusive trolls that female writers endure [on a daily basis](http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/11/08/mencallmethings-twitter-trend-highlights-sexist-abuse-online/). If I *did* have to experience that, this blog probably wouldn’t exist, which tells you all you really need to know about how male privilege works on the Internet.

– I’m on board with [the idea that](http://www.macroresilience.com/2011/11/07/rent-seeking-the-progressive-agenda-and-cash-transfers/) “complex programs with egalitarian aims should be replaced with direct cash transfers wherever feasible.” This can be our theme song:

– [This post](http://www.unwinnable.com/2011/11/04/the-future-history-of-games-journalism/) will be funnier if you know something about the culture of video game journalism, but its portrait of our dystopian future is pretty great on its own.

– In light of [this research](http://blog.prospect.org/article/public-opinion-about-tax-expenditures-vs-government-%E2%80%9Cgrants%E2%80%9D), I suppose I should start re-branding my advocacy of a guaranteed minimum income as the “guaranteed minimum tax rebate”.

– Alabama passed a crazy anti-immigrant law, and so their immigrant population fled. And guess what, now [businesses are complaining that they can’t find enough workers](http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/why-americans-wont-do-dirty-jobs-11092011.html). There are a bunch of interesting things going on in this article. Unsurprisingly for an article in *Business Week*, the reporting skirts around the possibility that maybe the reason it’s hard to fill these jobs is *because they suck*. Dean Baker would no doubt observe that if you take these whining business owners at their word, they’re terrible at business: if you can’t find enough workers to fill the positions you have, basic economics would suggest you need to either raise wages or make the jobs more pleasant. Of course, this is complicated for some of the industries in the article, like agriculture and fish processing, since they have to compete with low-cost overseas producers. But apparently there are also labor shortages in construction and janitorial services, which can’t really be outsourced, so clearly some of this is just an unwillingness of bosses to accept that sometimes wages have to go up. My favorite anecdote is at the very end of the article, when one of the immigrants who stuck around notes that he’s going to take advantage of the labor shortage by demanding his employer give him a raise. [Full employment FTW](http://www.peterfrase.com/2011/07/against-jobs-for-full-employment/).

– Doug Henwood did what I was hoping he’d do, and [rewrote an old article](http://lbo-news.com/2011/11/08/moving-money-revisited/) to address the current craze for moving money to credit unions.

– Adorno and Horkheimer [discuss a new communist manifesto](http://www.the-utopian.org/post/12034084404/towards-a-new-manifesto), hilarity ensues.

– [“We need to alter the circumstances under which full-employment requires that lenders pay borrowers to spend. “](http://www.interfluidity.com/v2/2535.html)

– Beware of claims that [online piracy](http://feeds.washingtonpost.com/click.phdo?i=3b3b5a7ec89ac4e31c1cda4db852307d) is a big threat to the economy.

That’s it. It’s the 20th anniversary of My Bloody Valentine’s *Loveless*, so let’s have this:

Inhuman Megaphone: Friday Roundup

November 4th, 2011  |  Published in Uncategorized

I’m in Brussels for the rest of the weekend, so I’m putting these up a little early before I descend into a haze of *moules frites* and trappist beer.

– I know I said the media was failing extra hard last week, but this week might have been even worse. The Oakland march/strike/shutdown of the port was one of the most remarkably huge, dynamic, unexpected mass protests I’ve ever seen, at least as best I can tell from here in Europe. But if you watched TV or read the major papers, you’d think the whole thing was nothing put window-breaking, arson, and fighting with the cops. I’m grateful to all the folks who have been on the ground covering Occupy Oakland on the web an Twitter–some of whom ended up in jail for their trouble.

– Speaking of throwing journalists in jail, Egyptian blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah has been imprisoned by the military once again. Read his [letter from a Cairo jail](http://sultanalqassemi.blogspot.com/2011/11/translation-of-article-by-detained.html).

– [This post](http://www.macroresilience.com/2011/11/02/innovation-stagnation-and-unemployment/) (via Steve Randy Waldman) is long and fairly dense, but the core argument is simple, and it explains how technological unemployment and “great stagnation” theories of the economy can both be true at the same time. In a nutshell, we’re seeing lots innovation in *making the same stuff with fewer workers*, but not much innovation in *coming up with new stuff to make*. See the post for an explanation, and make sure to read all the way to the end: the concluding recommendations make me think once again that if you’re thinking seriously about economic policy that addresses fundamental problems, all roads lead to a guaranteed income.

– Superstitions of the bourgeoisie: how the meritocratic elite [mentally cripple](http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-death-of-preschool) their own children.

– [“The City of London will remain outside the authority of parliament. Domestic and foreign banks will be permitted to vote as if they were human beings, and their votes will outnumber those cast by real people. Its elected officials will be chosen from people deemed acceptable by a group of medieval guilds…”](http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/oct/31/corporation-london-city-medieval)

– I hate to pick on somebody who’s just an intern at the *American Prospect*, but [this post](http://www.prospect.org/article/you-say-tomato-i-say-potato) is an absolutely perfect example of the kind of confused un-ideological partisanship I recently wrote about. This guy claims that Obama is a “pragmatist” who believes that “realism, data, and debate—not ideology —make for effective long-term policy”, whereas Mitt Romney is only out to “get more votes, even if bad policy is the price.” But if Obama has no ideology, what criterion does he use to determine what counts as “good” policy? Pragmatism has to be in the service of some ideologically driven goal, otherwise it’s just…opportunistic flip-flopping in the pursuit of votes. Relatedly, I agree that [there is no such thing as a disinterested technocrat](http://ipeatunc.blogspot.com/2011/11/there-is-no-technocracy-qotd.html), merely “different, competing interest groups with different, competing preferences”.

– Cops are [the worst](http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/11/nypd-scandals-keep-rolling-in/247752/). One reason I’m thankful to my parents for sending me to urban public schools with lots of non-white kids and punks and skaters and graffiti writers: despite being an upper middle-class straight white guy, I learned early on that police are dangerous and scary, and you should do whatever you can to avoid getting anywhere near them. If I ever have kids, that’s what I’ll teach them as well.

– At last, the [Orwell take-down](http://kenmacleod.blogspot.com/2011/11/orwells-other-island.html) we all needed. The bonus Perry Anderson quote is great as well.

– The Occupy movement has mostly chosen good targets and strategies, but “Bank Transfer Day” is [kind of a dumb idea](http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2011/11/01/why-the-big-banks-arent-sweating-bank-transfer-day/). Doug Henwood [covered this](http://www.leftbusinessobserver.com/Move_your_money.html) back when it was called “Move Your Money” and was being promoted by Arianna Huffington.

– Here’s a call for [“another anarchism”](http://www.zcommunications.org/towards-another-anarchism-by-andrej-grubacic), which will “fight for and win reforms short of revolution in way that both improve people’s conditions and options now, and that also create opportunities for further victories in the future.” Uh, that’s what Gorz called the strategy of “non-reformist reform”, and us Marxists and social democrats at [Democratic Socialists of America](http://dsausa.org) have been advocating it for years. But hey, call it anarchism if you like–welcome aboard!

Occupy Friday Links

October 28th, 2011  |  Published in Uncategorized

At times I am reminded that I do indeed live in a strange foreign land:

Specialite maison: Steak de cheval

But from over here, it seems like life in America got substantially weirder in the past week. A lot of things are happening that I couldn’t have imagined a year ago.

– Reading assignment of the week: Jo Freeman’s [“The Tyranny of Structurelessness”](http://www.jofreeman.com/joreen/tyranny.htm), a timeless classic that’s once again been on my mind in light of recent Occupy Wall Street related craziness.

– You should be reading [Aaron Bady](zunguzungu.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/14th-and-broadway/) for all your news on this week’s police violence against Occupy Oakland. See [this post](http://zunguzungu.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/passing-the-hat/) to find out how you can help some of the folks documenting the occupation.

– Besides being appalling, the decision of Oakland authorities to call in the riot squad is initially a bit puzzling: like the skits on a rap album, it’s hard to understand how anyone convinced themselves that this was a good idea. But Mayor Jean Quan probably just failed to grasp the new dynamic in which protesters actually [*win* standoffs](http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/686295/jean_quan%27s_about-face:_oakland_mayor_now_supports_the_occupy_movement,_orders_%22minimal_police_presence%22/) with the police. At any point in the recent past, Quan could have reasonably assumed that massive police repression of peaceful demonstrations would result in a few days of bad press, followed by the whole problem going away. But now she’s finding that times have changed, and she has only managed to escalate the situation and give the movement its first martyr; as an additional bonus, Mayor Quan has temporarily sidelined the “what are our demands” argument by providing Occupy Oakland with [the demand](http://zunguzungu.wordpress.com/2011/10/28/why-quans-got-to-go/) that’s worked so well in other places: [ash-shab yurid isqat an-nizam](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ash-shab_yurid_isqat_an-nizam).

– I mean seriously, did the cops really think they could stop a crowd that contained [Boots Riley](http://twitter.com/#!/BootsRiley/status/129068159566225408) *and* [MC Hammer](http://twitter.com/#!/MCHammer/status/129461162663362560)? [This picture](http://4.thisbeatgoes.net/files/2011/10/MC-Hammer-Occupy-Wall-Street.jpg) belongs on [Awesome People Hanging Out Together.](http://awesomepeoplehangingouttogether.tumblr.com/)

– Speaking of Boots, this is an appropriate occupation soundtrack:

– [Solidarity](http://boingboing.net/2011/10/28/tahrir.html) with Occupy Oakland from Egypt; [strategic advice](http://www.juancole.com/2011/10/sefat-top-10-ways-ows-can-succeed-counsel-from-irans-green-movement.html) from Iran.

– Mainstream media is failing harder than usual this past week or so. NPR conducted a purge in response to the threat of [biased opera coverage](http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/21/npr-dumping-opera-show-ov_n_1026121.html), and we discovered that they also fired the holder of a [famous protest sign](http://boingboing.net/2011/10/28/how-occupy-wall-street-cost-me-my-job.html). Then the New York Times ditched a reporter after my own *Jacobin* magazine’s [recent event](http://jacobinmag.com/blog/?p=2012) got sucked into the meat grinder of [Limbaugh](http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2011/10/24/nyt_reporter_outed_as_protester_occupy_wall_street_caught_putting_its_money_in_an_evil_corporate_bank) and [Beck](http://www.glennbeck.com/2011/10/25/leading-occupy-wall-street-activist-beck-has-a-better-analysis-than-most-people-on-the-left-about-where-this-could-go/). Meanwhile, it is of course no problem at all that the Times’ Jerusalem bureau chief is [promoting a war against Iran](http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/10/26/353954/ethan-bronner-clarion-fund-islamophobic/) in his spare time, alongside noted lunatics John Bolton and Richard Perle. And to top it all off, ABC and CBS politely turned off their cameras so the cops could gas peaceful protesters, and the Washington Post illustrated a story about the police riot with a picture of [a cop petting a kitten](http://wonkette.com/455265/washington-post-illustrates-oakland-police-brutality-with-cop-petting-kitten).

– Hooray, I get to be part of my very own [micro-generation](http://www.slate.com/articles/life/culturebox/2011/10/generation_catalano_the_generation_stuck_between_gen_x_and_the_m.html)! Take that, Reagan babies.

– Corey Robin on [political repression](http://coreyrobin.com/2011/10/25/fear-american-style-what-the-anarchist-and-libertarian-dont-understand-about-the-us/) in the private sector. Or to put it another way: [“He, who before was the money-owner, now strides in front as capitalist; the possessor of labour-power follows as his labourer. The one with an air of importance, smirking, intent on business; the other, timid and holding back, like one who is bringing his own hide to market and has nothing to expect but — a hiding.”](http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch06.htm)

– I have a visceral disgust for superstitious “alternative” medical quackery, but [this is why](http://brodyhooked.blogspot.com/2011/10/farewell-to-xigris-counting-lessons.html) people don’t trust mainstream capitalist medicine.

– Cool [interview with Vint Cerf](http://interviews.slashdot.org/story/11/10/25/1532213/vint-cerf-answers-your-questions-about-ipv6-and-more), who co-designed the TCP/IP protocol that makes the Internet go. “I wish I had realized we’d need more than 32 bits of address space! At the time, I thought this was still an experiment and that, if successful, we would develop a production version. I guess IPv6 is the production version!”

– Cosma Shalizi, quantitative Marxian economics, *and* stochastic models of society? [Yes, please](http://cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/weblog/820.html).

– Finally, more relevant information from the [Ice Cube library](http://www.nytimes.com/1992/12/13/arts/pop-view-rap-after-the-riot-smoldering-rage-and-no-apologies.html):

Friday links: Coat Sunday Edition

October 21st, 2011  |  Published in Uncategorized

Peculiar Luxembourg fact of the week: my co-workers informed me today that this is the weekend of [“Coat Sunday”](http://www.wort.lu/wort/web/en/luxembourg/articles/2011/10/165173/index.php), the one day all year when shops open on Sunday, so that people can buy their winter coats. Seriously: “originally this was to allow residents living in the countryside to come down to the towns and buy their new winter outfit”. Anyway, for those of you not too busy travelling to the city for your coats:

– This [story](http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44908122/ns/us_news-life/t/homeowner-taps-occupy-protest-avoid-foreclosure/) about Occupy L.A. protestors defending a woman from foreclosure and Mike Konczal’s [post](http://rortybomb.wordpress.com/2011/10/19/the-sword-and-the-shield-occupy-foreclosures/) about the general intersection between Occupy and the anti-foreclosure movement gave me big time [nerd chills](http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2011/10/17/nerd-chills-for-starcraft-my-sport-of-choice/2/). I’ve had countless discussions over the years about how modern socialists could learn from the Communist Party’s [anti-eviction work](http://www.tenant.net/Community/history/hist03c.html) in the 1930’s. In my arsenal of talking points about how socialists need to relate to people’s everyday experience, it’s rivaled only by “the Daily Worker had a sports page”.

– This is kind of on the abstruse philosophy tip, but as someone who does a lot of Critique and finds Spinoza/Nietszche/Deleuze annoying, this from Benjamin Noys [spoke to me](http://leniency.blogspot.com/2011/10/bye-bye-mr-critique.html). And I think it actually bears on the marvellously contentious [Jacobin OWS debate](http://jacobinmag.com/blog/?p=1937) in an oblique way. Perry Anderson argued in *Considerations on Western Marxism* that the Western Marxists (Frankfurt School, Coletti, Althusser, etc.) all tried to tie Marxism back to some prior trend in the history of philosophy, and there was kind of a three-way split between those who went with Hegel, those who went to Kant, and those who went with Spinoza. The “anti-critique” tendency derives in some ways from the encounter between Marx and Spinoza in this period, of which Althusser was the primary exponent, but it’s filtered down in many ways to the type of anarchism you see in the Jacobin debate. “The invocations of radical imagination, of the valence of utopia, of transcendental ‘ideas of communism’, and so on, seem to me to forgo or forget this labour [of critique]. Motivational as they may be the effect of such receding moments, whose empirical instantiations are often questionable or vague, is to offer false consolation.”

– A faction of the Occupy Wall Street crew (including some of my friends and comrades) is trying to win people over to a demand: [jobs for all](http://lbo-news.com/2011/10/20/ows-demands-working-group-jobs-for-all). I share some of Jodi Dean’s [discomforts](http://jdeanicite.typepad.com/i_cite/2011/10/on-the-demands-occupywallstreet.html), which won’t be a surprise if you’ve read me [on jobs](http://www.peterfrase.com/2011/07/stop-digging-the-case-against-jobs/) and [full employment](http://www.peterfrase.com/2011/07/against-jobs-for-full-employment/). But I’m enough of a political pragmatist to think that this is probably the best program to get behind right now, and one that could lead in more promising radical directions in the future.

– Ari Berman’s profile of [“the Austerity Class”](http://www.thenation.com/article/164073/how-austerity-class-rules-washington) fits in nicely with my post from [a few days ago](http://www.peterfrase.com/2011/10/the-partisan-and-the-political/), in which I identified austerity politics as the ideology hiding behind post-partism “centrist” posturing. The open question about these people, as Mike Konczal [says](http://rortybomb.wordpress.com/2011/10/20/the-austerity-class-and-the-deficit/), is whether the anti-growth agenda of the austerians represents a material interest or merely false consciousness among the capitalist class.

– On a related note, [“Economists say”](http://econospeak.blogspot.com/2011/10/philosophers-support-greek-austerity.html) is one of the most ubiquitous ways that reporters launder their right-wing opinions into “objective” news.

– [“These are the dwindling options facing the Obama administration now that it’s gone down the road of killing an American citizen without due process and covering up the rationale for doing so under the veil of state secrecy. Welcome to absurdity.”](http://spencerackerman.typepad.com/attackerman/2011/10/so-is-it-a-state-secret-or-not.html)

– Great line from Jorge Albor’s [discussion](http://www.experiencepoints.net/2011/10/darker-knight.html) of *Batman: Arkham Asylum*: “I find it hard to relate to a rich white playboy who secretly buys expensive toys and uses them to beat people up.”

– I, too, tend to tune out when I hear the phrase “peak oil”, but [this](http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2011/10/peak-oil-and-great-recession) really could be a problem.

– Democratic feudalism watch (cf. Corey Robin): you can get corporate donations to your nonprofit, but only if you’re willing to [lobby on behalf](http://crookedtimber.org/2011/10/20/doing-well-by-doing-good/) of your corporate masters.

Friday Links: We Won Something!

October 14th, 2011  |  Published in Uncategorized

For the time being, mayor Bloomberg and the owners of Zuccotti park have [backed down](http://www.dnainfo.com/20111014/downtown/zuccotti-park-cleanup-scrapped-as-owners-seek-agreement-with-protesters), abandoning their plan to clear out Occupy Wall Street after a huge crowd gathered at the park and prepared to nonviolently resist the police. My favorite reaction came from historian Angus Johnston [on Twitter](https://twitter.com/#!/studentactivism/status/124802529505718274): “We won. We NEVER Win. Wow.” I think that pretty much sums up why the Occupy movement is so exciting even to those of us who are critical of some aspects of it. Of course, the city may have decided to wait until most of the crowd goes home before moving in for the kill, but this still looks like a huge win. (Also, from what I’m seeing on Twitter, there’s still some ongoing craziness between marchers and police downtown, which I can’t yet get any confirmation about.)

– Just a reminder that if you’re near New York City, you should be [going to this](http://jacobinmag.com/blog/?p=1764).

– Occupy Denver looks to be getting [more police heat](http://www.9news.com/news/article/224539/71/Police-move-in-on-Occupy-Denver) than its New York counterpart.

– New York City’s police are literally [working for the bankers](http://crooksandliars.com/susie-madrak/who-really-owns-nypd-turns-out-its-no).

– Latest evidence that OWS has changed everything: *Foreign Affairs* is asking [Hardt and Negri](http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/136399/michael-hardt-and-antonio-negri/the-fight-for-real-democracy-at-the-heart-of-occupy-wall-street) to help them figure out what’s going on.

– For the next time you encounter annoying Ron Paul “end the Fed” types at an Occupy event, Doug Henwood [has you covered](http://lbo-news.com/2011/10/13/on-ows-and-the-fed/).

– The [bezzle](http:crookedtimber.org/2011/09/24/banks-and-the-bezzle/) just [keeps growing](http://econerdfood.blogspot.com/2011/10/benfords-law-and-decreasing-reliability.html). “Accounting data seem to be less and less related to the natural data-generating process”.

– I could basically link to every new thing JW Mason writes, but you definitely want to read him on capitalism’s [re-merging of ownership and control](http://slackwire.blogspot.com/2011/10/disgorge-cash.html).

– Obama’s drones-and-death-squads foreign policy is [leading the way to a more lawless world](http://themonkeycage.org/blog/2011/10/10/the-drone-arms-race/).

– I recently finished David Graeber’s [*Debt: The First 5,000 Years*](http://mhpbooks.com/book.php?id=308) and Corey Robin’s [*The Reactionary Mind*](http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/Politics/PoliticalTheory/~~/dmlldz11c2EmY2k9OTc4MDE5OTc5Mzc0Nw==). You should read both of them. You should also read Sheri Berman’s [*The Primacy of Politics*](http://crookedtimber.org/2006/10/31/seminar-the-primacy-of-politics/), even though I don’t quite agree with her thesis and her [review](http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/09/books/review/the-reactionary-mind-by-corey-robin-book-review.html?pagewanted=all) of Robin’s book was [breathtakingly stupid](http://jacobinmag.com/blog/?p=1768).

Jacobin Live

October 6th, 2011  |  Published in Uncategorized

More non-content content until I can come up with a proper post. [*Jacobin*](http://www.jacobinmag.com) magazine, hot new Leftist magazine and the home of some of my recent writings, is sponsoring its first public event!

OWS debate flyer

__Time:__ Friday, October 14. 7 pm.

__Location:__ Bluestockings book store. 172 Allen Street between Stanton and Rivington.

__With:__ Jodi Dean, Doug Henwood, Malcolm Harris, and Natasha Lennard. Seth Ackerman moderates.

I won’t be there, unfortunately, because I’m thousands of miles away. But if you’re somewhat closer by, you should turn up for what promises to be a great debate about the politics, strategy, and tactics of the “Occupy [whatever]” upsurge.

Stay tuned to the *Jacobin* [blog](http://www.jacobinmag.com/blog) for updates and details.

Happy Agricultural Reform Day! link roundup

September 30th, 2011  |  Published in Uncategorized

No, really: on this day São Tomé and Príncipe celebrates [the nationalization of large plantations](http://books.google.com/books?id=e59TqbPNAB0C&pg=PA80&lpg=PA80&dq=%22agricultural+reform+day%22&source=bl&ots=JAumaKUG9H&sig=aoynX5iyiSi0rFbpnARQWMaaK6U&hl=en&ei=ihWFToHBA8P40gHk0q0J&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAzgU#v=onepage&q=%22agricultural%20reform%20day%22&f=false). There should really be more holidays like that.

31 years ago today the [Ethernet specification](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethernet) was published, and without it this blog wouldn’t be possible.

8 years ago today, [Yusuf Bey](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yusuf_Bey) died. I’m mentioning that mostly as an excuse to link to the insane saga of [Your Black Muslim Bakery](http://www.rickross.com/groups/bakery.html).

I’ve now risen high enough in Google’s algorithms to get some interesting search engine traffic. My favorites from the past week or so:

– “how to short germany”. Sorry, we’re not a financial advice blog here, can’t help you.
– “i’m reading huckleberry finn for english but i’m not getting what’s going on at all”. My one post on Huck Finn probably didn’t help this guy either.
– “коммодификация”. Google Translate tells me this is Russian for “commodification”.
– “how does someone steal shoes from department stores”. I believe stuffing them under your coat is a popular method.
– “do we still have capitalism”. Good question! I think I actually do have some helpful things to say about this.
– “the book of job translation in modern english”. I think this person was actually looking for information about “the job of book translation”, which I do have one post about. But “the book of job translation” isn’t a bad description of a lot of the other writing here.
– “business cycle turkey”. [Mmmm](http://www.snpp.com/guides/mmmm.html), turkey.

Anyway, your links:

– What’s that expression, it’s not the crime, it’s the pepper spraying? The media was all set to ignore the Wall Street protests, until the cops decided to [go buck wild](http://thelastword.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/09/26/7978720-rewrite-police-vs-protesters). Click that link to see former Daniel Patrick Moynihan advisor Lawrence O’Donnell sounding like vintage [Ice Cube](http://www.nytimes.com/1992/12/13/arts/pop-view-rap-after-the-riot-smoldering-rage-and-no-apologies.html): “There’s a Rodney King every day in this country, and black America has always known that.”

– Speaking of Ice Cube, [“My Summer Vacation”](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMqfRey10gA) is a great track about some LA gangbangers moving to Saint Louis to start up a new franchise. Listen to that as you read about [how today’s gangs spread to America’s smaller cities](http://botc.tcf.org/2011/09/mcbloods-gang-migration-and-the-franchising-of-american-street-gangs.html).

– And speaking of Occupy Wall Street, check out my pal Chris Maisano and my organization, the Democratic Socialists of America, in this [Salon article](http://www.salon.com/news/wall_street/index.html?story=/politics/war_room/2011/09/29/at_occupy_wall_street).

– More OWS: I haven’t written anything about Occupy Wall Street because I’m not sure what to say about it, even though I’m rooting for it to succeed and expand. Perhaps because it’s not sure [what to say about itself](http://lbo-news.com/2011/09/29/the-occupy-wall-street-non-agenda/). Still, it’s looking like things are starting to [gather some momentum](http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/09/29/1021378/-Occupy-Wall-Street-growing-rapidly).

– Just to be clear, the Obama administration is now in the business of [assassinating American citizens](http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/09/anwar-al-awlaki/245942/) whenever they feel like it, with no due process or legal oversight. In a different context, we’d use words like “death squad” to refer to stuff like this.

– Groupon seems like it’s either an egregious scam or the next big tech company or possibly both, or perhaps just pure [bezzle](http://crookedtimber.org/2011/09/24/banks-and-the-bezzle/). Felix salmon [explains](http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2011/09/26/notes-on-groupon/) why the company may not be doomed, and why the huge amount of money taken out of the money-losing company by its founders could be a rational venture capitalist strategy rather than the crass looting I always figured it was. I still think they’re doomed, though.

– I already mentioned it, but here again: [this series of articles](http://www.slate.com/id/2304442/) about the replacement of human labor with robots is quite good on the specifics of automation, but it goes with what’s basically a “jobless future” argument, and is therefore probably wrong: capitalism is endlessly capable of coming up with things that humans can be paid to do. It’s always a mistake to say “in the future there *will* be no jobs” rather than “in the future we *could* spent a lot less time in paid labor”. The real lesson here is that there’s no reason to keep coming up with alienating jobs for people, and we have the *opportunity* to live lives that are mostly free of the drudgery of unwanted work, but only if a political movement arises to make that happen. As always, see [“Anti-Star Trek”](http://www.peterfrase.com/2010/12/anti-star-trek-a-theory-of-posterity/), along with [“Against Jobs”](http://www.peterfrase.com/2011/07/stop-digging-the-case-against-jobs/) and its [follow-up](http://www.peterfrase.com/2011/07/against-jobs-for-full-employment/), for my more considered reflections on this topic.

– Oceania has always been at war against [inflation](http://www.themoneyillusion.com/?p=10991).

– Tom Slee [asked very nicely](http://whimsley.typepad.com/whimsley/2011/09/my-favourite-post.html) that everyone go read [this old post](http://whimsley.typepad.com/whimsley/2009/11/pirates-dilemma-review-remixed.html). Tom Slee is great, so you should do what he says.

– “That’s probably the pragmatic way to look at it. But it seems to me, though, that it’s a concession to a step back in civilization”. You’ll just have to [watch the whole thing](http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=lpRQrClgYsM#!) to find out what the context of that statement is. Salim Muwakkil is kind of a national treasure, but you probably don’t know about him unless you’ve lived in Chicago. Should you happen to catch the fever, though, go on to watch [this clip](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cs281awSYF0), especially after about the six minute mark. “Did that kind of radicalize you, when you were shot?”

– If you like quantitative data, survey research, and corrections for measurement error, you’ll __love__ [this video](http://youtu.be/3rZDEddKymU) about how the Census Bureau fixed an error in their new count of same-gender couples. Which is to say, I loved it. And if that doesn’t have enough complicated mathematical equations for you, there’s a [technical paper](http://www.census.gov/hhes/samesex/files/ss-report.doc)!

– New home sales in 2011 are on pace to be the [lowest since at least 1963](http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2011/09/on-pace-for-record-low-new-home-sales.html). Sales this year are at *less than a quarter* of what they were in 2005, at the peak of the bubble.

– Epic Bureau of Economic Analysis [fail](http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2011/09/27/how-macroeconomic-statistics-failed-the-us/). I knew that their initial estimates of the severity of the recession were off, but I hadn’t caught that they revised the GDP growth number from Q4 2008 from -3.8% all the way down to *-8.9%*!!! Let this be a lesson to all us quants who rely on U.S. government statistics.

– Some random day trader got on TV and caused a big uproar by confirming every suspicion you ever had that finance guys are [amoral, callous assholes](http://youtu.be/lqN3amj6AcE) who don’t actually care about the health of the global economy. Then people started to wonder whether the whole thing [might](http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2011/09/27/is-alessio-rastani-a-yes-man/) be [a Yes Men](http://www.thejournal.ie/is-alessio-rastani-actually-one-of-the-yes-men-237950-Sep2011/) [hoax](http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2011/09_september/27/statement.shtml).

– Via the [Jacobin](http://www.jacobinmag.com) crew, I found out that it’s [Capitalism Awareness Week](http://capitalismweek.org/). I hope that this consciousness-raising effort serves to increase awareness of the capitalism epidemic and the risk it poses to the public.

– [“If you’re quick with a knife, you’ll find that the invisible hand is made of delicious invisible meat”](http://xkcd.com/958/).

– I still don’t know what the current Palestinian statehood initiative is actually going to amount to, but at least it’s leading to things [like this](http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/tony-blair/8795251/Tony-Blairs-job-in-jeopardy-as-Palestinians-accuse-him-of-bias.html). Tony Blair is truly one of the most contemptible living humans.

– Anyone who took that [Onion story about congressional hostage-taking](http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/the-onion-tweets-screams-and-gunfire–wheres-the-humor/2011/09/29/gIQASpCI7K_blog.html?tid=sm_twitter_washingtonpost) seriously, or thinks the Onion “went too far”, is, to quote Charles Barkley, a stone freaking idiot.

– Corporations have figured out that they can [manipulate Tea Partiers](http://prospect.org/csnc/blogs/tapped_archive?month=09&year=2011&base_name=beyond_astroturf) into doing their lobbying for them.

– [Regime change doesn’t work.](http://www.bostonreview.net/BR36.5/ndf_alexander_b_downes_regime_change_doesnt_work.php)

Link Roundup of Doom (or, the Crusties Were Right All Along)

September 23rd, 2011  |  Published in Uncategorized

I try not to go in for dour pessimism in my writing, but this weeks links are heavy on the doom-and-gloom. The one pleasant thing to come up today was the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s *Nevermind*. (Although maybe it’s not all pleasant if, like me, you feel incredibly old contemplating that fact.) See [Latoya Peterson](http://www.racialicious.com/2011/07/29/race-riot-grrl-the-black-rock-movement-and-nirvana-the-teen-espirit-revisited-overflow/), [Amanda Marcotte](http://pandagon.net/index.php/site/music_fridays_here_we_are_now_entertain_us_edition), [Spencer Ackerman](http://spencerackerman.typepad.com/attackerman/2011/09/incesticide-changed-my-life.html) and [Matt Yglesias](http://thinkprogress.org/yglesias/2011/09/23/327504/the-gateway-drug/) for extended coverage.

You probably have to be almost exactly my age to see this anniversary as a huge deal–any older and you’d have already known about the underground Nirvana came from, any younger and you wouldn’t realize how much music and culture seemed to change after *Nevermind*. Yglesias and Ackerman both say that *Nevermind* didn’t fundmentally shake up their understanding of music, but I can’t say the same. I didn’t have any older siblings to introduce me to punk rock, so I learned about it through Nirvana. There are very few moments in my life that I can vividly recall with a kind of “where were you when JFK was shot” specificity; one of them is the 9/11 attacks, and another one is the first time I heard “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. I was 11 years old, sitting at my desk in my bedroom and doing my homework. I had the radio tuned to a Top 40 station (probably [KDWB](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KDWB-FM)), because that’s what I listened to at the time. But when “Smells Like Teen Spirit” came on I actually stopped what I was doing, turned around, and just sat there staring at the radio, listening to it. I had no idea what it was or where it had come from, but it was unlike anything I had ever heard before; I immediately decided that whatever it was, *this* was the kind of music I listened to from that point on.

From there, it was on to Fugazi, and then Minor Threat, and many more obscure finds from the bins at [Extreme Noise Records](http://www.extremenoise.com/). So this week’s roundup of doom and gloom will be accompanied by a carefully chosen gourmet pairing of apocalyptic hardcore and crust punk, which I might never have known about if not for *Nevermind*.

– [We’re doomed](http://www.tnr.com/article/economy/magazine/94963/economic-doom), political dysfunction version. Musical accompaniment: Extreme Noise Terror, “Fucked Up System”:

– [We’re doomed](http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2011/09/19/only-advanced-degree-holders-see-wage-gains/), wage stagnation version. Musical accompaniment: Assrash, “Kings of No Future”.

– [We’re doomed](http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/09/judge-worries-recording-police-will-lead-to-excessive-snooping-around.ars), not even pretending to be a free country anymore version. Musical accompaniment: Doom, “Police Bastard”:

– [We’re doomed](http://thinkprogress.org/media/2011/09/20/323856/yahoo-censoring-occupy-wall-street-protests/), really really not even pretending to be a free country–hey, maybe that Mubarak guy was onto something! version. Musical accompaniment: Discharge, “Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing”.

– [We’re doomed](http://lbo-news.com/2011/09/20/does-productivity-unemployment/), not only is Obama clueless about the economy, he’s a worse feminist than Larry Summers version. Musical Accompaniment: Spitboy, “Isolation Burns”.

– [We’re doomed](), they killed Troy Davis edition. Musical accompaniment: Amebix, “Axeman”.

– [We’re doomed](http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2011/09/16/europe%E2%80%99s-lehman-moment/?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed), Euro crisis version. Musical accompaniment: Tragedy, “Beginning of the End”.

– [We’re doomed](http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/09/fbi-islam-domination/), the FBI thinks counterrorism=Muslim-bashing version. Musical accompaniment: Destroy, “Burn this Racist System Down”.

– And to sum it all up: Code 13, “Doomed Society”.

When I talk about money all you see is the struggle

September 16th, 2011  |  Published in Uncategorized

Consider these as you reflect on this week’s anniversary of [9/13](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tupac_Shakur#September_1996_shooting_and_death):

– A little knowledge (about politics) is [a dangerous thing](http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2011/09/falsely-overinformed.html).

– The European Central Bank was in the running to win [Upper Class Twit of the Year](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSqkdcT25ss) as a collective, but this week Jürgen Stark gets the prize [as an individual](http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/09/us-ecb-stark-idUSTRE7883DF20110909).

– Fiscal stimulus [vigilante watch](http://www.businessinsider.com/richard-koo-on-obamas-jobs-plan-2011-9): “The insistence that fiscal consolidation is necessary in the longer term . . . is both lacking in decency and irresponsible.”

– More on why you [can’t fix the economy just with monetary policy](http://kantooseconomics.com/2011/09/12/mein-unbehagen-mit-quasi-monetarismus-my-discomfort-with-quasi-monetarism/#English%20version), and you instead need debt relief for households and deficit spending by the state. See also [JW Mason](http://slackwire.blogspot.com/2011/09/are-recessions-all-about-money-quasi.html) for a techier rendition of similar points. I hope to weave this into some longer writing about the liberal vs. left vs. right debate in macroeconomics, for which today’s “capital strike” post was a down payment.

– OMG, grocery stores are [subliminally manipulating](http://www.fastcompany.com/1779611/priming-whole-foods-derren-brown) our desires! [Same as it ever was](http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/30/books/review/Greif-t.html).

– The Great American Jobs Machine is now a [broken-down hooptie](http://lanekenworthy.net/2011/09/13/the-late-american-jobs-machine/).

– Student loan debt default rates are [getting ridiculous](http://www.quickanded.com/2011/09/student-loan-default-problem-even-worse-than-it-seems.html).

– Interracial marriage: unthinkable when my father was a kid, controversial when I was a kid, [taken for granted now](http://themonkeycage.org/blog/2011/09/12/graphiti-interracial-marriage/). Yes, homophobes, [it gets worse](http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-november-15-2010/it-gets-worse-psa).

– It’s unclear to me how much my audience overlaps with the group of people who already know that Sam McPheeters is awesome. [This](http://www.vice.com/read/messiah-hunt-v18n9) is his latest but start with [this](http://www.viceland.com/int/v16n1/htdocs/the-troublemakers-515.php) or [this](http://www.viceland.com/int/v16n11/htdocs/the-dessert-psycho-223.php).