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Showing posts from May 9, 2021

Taking the intoxication out: late capitalism, what a drag

  Walter Benjamin was convinced that gambling – and the gambler – was the temporal coordinate of the stroll, and the flaneur.   The gambler was an intrusion, he thought, into the bourgeois sphere of a custom determined, originally, by the economic conditions of feudalism.   This was in keeping with the Marxist nearsightedness about the function of credit and finance in high capitalism. But within those myopic limits, Benjamin’s theory of the “intoxication” of gambling is interesting. “With the briefness of the game it [the time factor]   has in fact its own condition. The briefer the play, the rawer emerges the   element of chance, the smaller or the briefer the suite of combinations, that in the course of the party are brought out. In other words: the greater the component of chance in a game, the quicker it happens.    This circumstance becomes decisive when it comes to determining what, exactly, constitutes the intoxication of the gambler. It rests on the property of the game of c

Running out of experience

   The pre-modern form of askesis was all about giving up desires. The Greek stoic, the Tuscan saint, and the Chinese Confucian sage all agreed on this point. Epictetus wrote a manual on the “exercise of not exercising desire”. Epictetus would have seen viagra as evidence of the negative path of our civilization. Is this what we use our wills – our voluntas – for? Modernity said goodbye to all that training. It was training more appropriate for the era of the Malthusian trap than for the era of continuous growth. The wheel of fortuna was a much better image of prosperity and poverty than any upward trending curve on a graph in pre-industrial societies.   The revolution of capitalism +   industry has had a spiritual result: Epictetus has been replaced by the invisible hand. Desire is a good entry point into experience, that wild country. When we are children, our experience always tastes a little new. The bicycle we learn to ride, division, oysters – all these new things we learn

The Corbyn effect

  1. Lets start out with the obvious: Starmer is a crap politician and his weaknesses just become more evident as he goes on. Labour should replace him. But: 2. There is something to the idea that Corbyn was to "blame" for Labour's loss. 3. This is not because Corbyn turned off potential Labour voters. It is because Corbyn had a profound effect on the Tories. 4. The Tories were stuck with Cameron-Osborn austerity. As Corbyn's success in 2017 made clear, austerity had the potential to sink the Conservatives. 5. What happened? Austerity talk died on the Tory side. This was, to an extent, muted by Brexit. Corbyn was uniquely mismatched to the Brexit moment. He simply didn't have the flexibility. 6. But the bubble energy for the right created by Brexit was not going to solve the austerity problem. So the Conservatives, using cultural issues as a smokescreen, made a turn to big spending and big government. The Corbyn effect on the Tories was profound. 7. Labour's c

The Centrists can never be beaten, especially when they are beaten and other journalistic chestnuts

  Well, I must say, Starmer is surprising me. The task of the Labour leader, Starmer said to himself, is to be even more laughable than the leader of the Tories. And he's done a bangup job! I loved the Labour campaign. The Tories were talking about spending more on Northern England. Well, Labour saw through that and saw that what the people in the British rust belt really wanted was: more respect for the flag! Its the cultural issues that count! Starmer's proposal that the state build a royal yacht for the Union Jack and let it cruise around the sceptered ile, where lucky yokels on the shore who spotted it could kowtow, hit the sweet spot. Unfortunately, the peeps of England didn't seem to get the message, and Starmer came through again, promising to take responsibility for the itsey bitsy loss of 88 council seats and then fired the woman who he'd thrust aside in the campaign anyway, Angela Rayner, in the hopes of hiring a guy - you know, on the guy's rule! rule, wh