Sunday, 31 July 2011

The Game


now to a modernist

religion looks superstitious

except for the fact:

“nobody knows nothing”

about the personal narrative


past death


Jesus came back

and we made him

a hero.



The three strategies for becoming rich:

(include the following, to be repetitive):


2. fortune/luck/fate/destiny

3. hereditary/inheritance



Though some would argue for a socialist capitalism; the very spirit running through, the winner take all mentality of competition, for it’s own sake, prevents the “share” in shareholder, from being meaningful, therefore rendering socialism impotent.


east is obsessed with death

west is obsessed with sex.

Martyrdom and Masturbation

in Iran and Canada

a twisting of the death drive

and other strange

Freudian matters



In Iraq

a woman on a concrete floor

comforts a sixteen year old

she will not be murdered 

and she goes back to sleep;

this happens, repeatedly.


“But at 4AM

they came for her

and she was taken away…

to be executed.”



a numbing capitalism

a joint owned modern cooperation                                                                allows for the control of “production”                                                                       to be retained in the hands of the few.

Though many people have ownership                                                                 the disproportion of control   

is a purely profitable




as only with great effort and financial literacy can you impose any meaningful say over the day operations…

you have become disengaged

by becoming a shareholder

and not a stakeholder,

which in essence,

makes you a bad investor…

. **********************


we are no longer satisfied by immediate experience so we interpret and

translate through artificial media to remind ourselves how we want to look to the world which is quickly becoming an…

image of an image…

a mixing to derange the senses in the cool medium of TV                                   is mostly related to the visual…



a large part of intellect is a portending of image,

the cruel spin of time and imperfection

unjustly altered without thought or effort…

as portrayed in

media and advertising and pop  


I cannot compare “typing” in front of a computer screen         to “social”

only a capitalsitic little fuck like the Zucker monkey

from Harvard could hijack the word so completely   


postmodernism is a betrayal

to a five sensed

or six sensed

(for the lucky ones)

dance through reality.


Kant said there are two worlds

one sensed and interpreted

the other of-it-self.


everyone got excited

especially the modernist

who were able to decoinstruct

what we thought …

of what we thought

                           they said “the god stuff*” 

we made up


*non human

various forms…



Friday, 29 July 2011


If an historically racist society begins to accept marginalized people into its fold…

how do we know the ones included are not more and more like their oppressors..

perhaps the oppressors are merely giving a show of humanity while people of color make up the largest segment of the prison population.

Dreamt last night i was to receive a sentence of six months…no six years in jail.

Of course i could go on about the internal contradictions of capitalism but 

know this: jail keepers intentionally encourage friction between the races to ensure the prisoners cannot present a united front…all the in-fighting creates a discombobulated and unconnected opponent…the jailers punish the inmates for violence against one another…if any one needs to get organized it’s them…


On the travel front i will be in Egypt around the 23rd of September and hopefully travelling through the Middle East in the fall.

How are my tax dollars being used by Israel? 


All employment contracts implicitly state the employee will listen to the employer…Do as i say or you won’t have a job…


I say again:

The only thing worse than being exploited by capitalism is not being exploited by capitalism…that is being unemployed…or worse having no money…

freedom externalized                                                                                         don’t patronize


If some one says to me,

“Do what you love and the money will follow”

i will punch them hard in the face and ask for five bucks.   

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Rules for Radicals

Alinsky writes,

"What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be. The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away."

Alinsky did not join political organizations. When asked during an interview whether he ever considered becoming a Communist party member, he replied:

"Not at any time. I've never joined any organization—not even the ones I've organized myself. I prize my own independence too much. And philosophically, I could never accept any rigid dogma or ideology, whether it's Christianity or Marxism. One of the most important things in life is what Judge Learned Hand described as 'that ever-gnawing inner doubt as to whether you're right.' If you don't have that, if you think you've got an inside track to absolute truth, you become doctrinaire, humorless and intellectually constipated. The greatest crimes in history have been perpetrated by such religious and political and racial fanatics, from the persecutions of the Inquisition on down to Communist purges and Nazi genocide."

Lovely People

As i stare into space                                                                                              a beautiful woman says                                                                              

“Life is so beautiful”.

I chuckle a response

“At least it is not hard.”

She smiles,

“Yes it cracks                                                                                                                your heart wide open”.


As we look to the east                                                                                          hungry people huddle                                                                                       under cardboard

there only shelter against the heat.


“The only thing worse than being exploited                                                            by capitalism is not being exploited by capitalism”.

Joan Robinson


Does signing an online petition count as civil disobedience?


My girlfriend from Shang Hai touches my shoulder and says

“I have a new boyfriend from “chicken” in Europe.”

I say, “You mean Turkey.”

She says, “Yes” and that she is a little embarrassed                                     about being naked at the pool.


The commodification of social interaction ends with intelligent discourse.


“Don’t eat at Denny’s” I write at MacDonalds.


As the population ages the fun begins.


We are all actors       


Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Don’t Try Suicide

Schopenhauer contends that suicide is not a denial of the will-to-live, because it is not a rejection of personal well-being but is only a rejection of suffering. Suicide does not reject life itself, but only rejects the conditions under which life is given. Suicide is a surrender of life, but not of the will-to-live. The individual who commits suicide gives up living, but does not give up willing. In the act of suicide, the will affirms itself, even though it puts an end to its individual manifestation.


They tell us that suicide is the greatest piece of cowardice... that suicide is wrong; when it is quite obvious that there is nothing in the world to which every man has a more unassailable title than to his own life and person.


Music is the answer to the mystery of life. It is the most profound of all the arts; it expresses the deepest thoughts of life and being; a simple language which nonetheless cannot be translated.


The life of every individual is really always a tragedy but gone through in detail, it has the character of a comedy.


From a book, where the protagonist loses his mind and can only remember quotes from famous books, found at “The Beat Coffeehouse Las Vegas Freemont Street.” 

“Nothing can shield my belief that this world is the fruit of a dark god whose shadow i extend.” 


Laser Cat Attack

laser cat attack

It could be worse…..


Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Life is Short

When i was young,

younger than today    

i did not think in terms

of the limited number of days

i would have on this planet…

on a darker note

i reassure myself now

with the consolation of suicide.

i say i will “end my existence”

(i use to say “end it all” but now

i am sure the world will continue

without me) at the age of sixty…

or thereabouts, depending

on personal circumstance…

some eat ice cream for relief

i dream of death which (i hope)

is permanent 

this perpetual suffering..if the Buddhists

and Schopenhauer are to be believed…

pleasure is the alleviation of pain 

and therefore a negation.

if you can

“don’t worry be happy”

but most cannot

life is suffering

desire by definition

cannot be satisfied.

every separation: a death

every reconciliation: a resurrection.

Now you understand the difficulty of a relationship ending…and why many endure despite their toxic potentialities and actualities…the beaten wife..the abused husband…relationship in name only…marriage is a sham argues Engels…

I repeat:

separation: a death                                                                                  reconciliation: a resurrection

cool…sounds religious and biblical…well in a sense we all wish it was…

as the old saying goes, “All neurosis is vanity but even that will be misunderstood…”     said doctor so and so.

Now why is death so difficult to accept and why does it cause it us so much anguish?…it is probably easier than we imagine

on an individual basis one person gone in the midst of billions is not a big deal…not even Barak Obama is that important…yet my personal death will affect my first person immensely and drastically change my perception, if i have one at all…the great unknown…no more “I” and mercifully no more persona which is at the root word of person…

Have I only worn a mask?

of course other people’s death is a non-event                                                 unless i know them and it affects me personally…                                            can we all really be that selfish…?

the banality of evil

a physical death offers no possibility of reuniting on the earthly plane so some reassure themselves they will meet up in the after life…wait for me in heaven…

Some say life is a task to be completed                                                          others  have an aesthetic approach                                                                      in search of constant gratification.


“I may not be as unambiguously hostile to capitalism as many people are, but what I don't like about it is the commodification of personal experiences, it turns everyone into actors." 


For the keeners:

Two extracts from 'Straw Dogs' by John Gray


Post-Modernists tell us there is no such thing as nature, only the floating world of our own constructions. All talk of human nature is spurned as dogmatic and reactionary. Let us put these phoney absolutes aside, say the Post-Modernists, and accept that the world is what we make of it.

Post-Modernists parade their relativism as a superior kind of humility – the modest acceptance that we cannot claim to have the truth. In fact, the Post-Modern denial of truth is the worst kind of arrogance. In denying that the natural world exists independently of our beliefs about it, Post-Modernists are implicitly rejecting any limit on human ambitions. By making human beliefs the final arbiter of reality, they are in effect claiming that nothing exists unless it appears in human consciousness.

The idea that there is no such thing as truth may be fashionable, but it is hardly new. Two-and-half-thousand years ago, Protagoras, the first of the Greek sophists, declared: "Man is the measure of all things." He meant human individuals, not the species; but the implication is the same. Humans decide what is real and what is not. Post-Modernism is just the latest fad in anthropocentrism.

At the masked ball

"I should liken Kant to a man at a ball, who all evening has been carrying on a love affair with a masked beauty in the vain hope of making a conquest, when at last she throws off her mask and reveals herself to be his wife." In Schopenhauer's fable the wife masquerading as an unknown beauty was Christianity. Today it is humanism.

What Schopenhauer wrote of Kant is no less true today. As commonly practised, philosophy is the attempt to find good reasons for conventional beliefs. In Kant's time the creed of conventional people was Christian, now it is humanist. Nor are these two faiths so different from one another.

Over the past 200 years, philosophy has shaken off Christian faith. It has not given up Christianity's cardinal error – the belief that humans are radically different from all other animals.

Philosophy has been a masked ball in which a religious image of humankind is renewed in the guise of humanist ideas of progress and enlightenment. Even philosophy's greatest unmaskers have ended up as figures in the masquerade. Removing the masks from our animal faces is a task that has hardly begun.

Other animals are born, seek mates, forage for food and die. That is all. But we humans – we think – are different. We are persons, whose actions are the results of their choices. Other animals pass their lives unawares, but we are conscious. Our image of ourselves is formed from our ingrained belief that consciousness, selfhood and free will are what define us as human beings, and raise us above all other creatures.

In our more detached moments, we admit that this view of ourselves is flawed. Our lives are more like fragmentary dreams than the enactments of conscious selves. We control very little of what we most care about; many of our most fateful decisions are made unbeknownst to ourselves. Yet we insist that mankind can achieve what we cannot: conscious mastery of its existence. This is the creed of those who have given up an irrational belief in God for an irrational faith in mankind.

But what if we give up the empty hopes of Christianity and humanism? Once we switch off the soundtrack – the babble of God and immortality, progress and humanity – what sense can we make of our lives?

Monday, 18 July 2011

Left World

Alienation as we find it in modern society is almost total: it pervades the relationship of man to his work, to the things he consumes, to the state, to his fellow man, and to himself. Man has created a world of man-made things as it never existed before. He has constructed a complex social machine to administer the technical machine he has built. Yet this whole creation of his stands over and above him. He does not feel himself as a creator and center, but as the servant of a Golem, which his hands have built. The more powerful and gigantic the forces are which he unleashes, the more powerless he feels himself as a human being. He is owned by his creations, and has lost ownership of himself.

Erich Fromm

Spoken word.

“It’s all played out.”

Friday, 15 July 2011


Walking against the wind he crossed the scraped desert mounds of sand, gravel, dead cactus,

new black roads empty reminders.

The inhabitants of distant row houses (desert dwellings?) could not see his nakedness (he imagined).

Were they old, of failing eyes, heavily medicated awaiting death as they had lived life? (Indifferently)

(Occasionally) rabbits, lizards and flocks of small birds were spotted

the hum of insect life (reassuring).

When he stopped, he wished for water.

Instead he looked back at the skyline of corporate Las Vegas small against reddish mountains.

He recalled a newspaper:

The gaming industry had “made” $580 million the previous month and this was considered reason for optimism.

The moon, almost full, was rising to his left and the sun, always full, was setting to his right

He carried an old video and turned it on himself

“Welcome to hell.” he said this time, without a smile

How would he look on camera?


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Threatened Class

Eugene B. Debs used to tell his listeners,

"I would not lead you into the promised land even if I could,                              for, if anybody leads you in, someone else can lead you out."



no weakness

do not slow down




health care


jail the poor.

broken and sad

we reach for heaven.

As i drive through the desert  after a poorly attended Anarchist Cafe                     a right wing radio personality calls the President a communist.

We should be so lucky. 

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Thursday, 14 July 2011

Walter T. Vollmann




Illumination is the first step toward alleviation. It is difficult to perform emergency surgery in pitch darkness.”

Walter T. Vollmann


The Vimalakirti Sutra, seventh century:

“This body is like a flame born of longing and desire…

This body is impure, crammed with defilement and evil…

This body is like the abandoned well on the hillside, old age pressing in on it…

This body has no fixity, but is destined for certain death.”

Read the rest at Vice Magazine: “THEY JUST WANT TO LOOK IN THE MIRROR” - William T. Vollmann Becomes a Woman - Vice Magazine


Suppose that you do not rent whores, and a whore approaches you in the night-lit street, brave and desperate. Suppose that a member of some cult sets out to convert you. Suppose that someone begs you for money.--No, suppose simply that someone sits down beside you in your subway car and begins to talk to you. In how many cases will you answer?

In this period of our literature we are producing mainly insular works, as if all our writers were on an airplane in economy seats, beverage trays shading their laps, face.- averted from one another, masturbating furiously.

Consider, for instance, the New Yorker fiction of the past few years, with those eternally affluent characters suffering understated melancholies of overabundance.

Here the Self is projected and replicated into a monotonous army which marches through story after story like deadly locusts.

Consider, too, the structuralist smog that has hovered so long over our universities, permitting only games of stifling breathlessness.

So how ought writers fulfill their role, and accomplish something?


1. We should never write without feeling.

2. Unless we are much more interesting than we imagine we are, we should strive to feel not only about Self, but also about Other.

Not the vacuum so often between Self and Other.

Not the unworthiness of Other.

Not the Other as a negation or eclipse of Self.

Not even about the Other exclusive of Self,

*(because that is but a trickster-egoist's way of worshiping Self secretly)*.

We must treat Self and Other as equal partners. (Of course I am suggesting nothing new. I do not mean to suggest anything new.

Health is. more important than novelty.)

3. We should portray important human problems.

4. We should seek for solutions to those problems. Whether or not we find them, the seeking will deepen the portrait.

5. We should know our subject, treating it with the respect with which Self must treat Other. We should know it in all senses, until our eyes are bleary from seeing it, our ears ring from listening to it, our muscles ache from embracing it, our gonads are raw from making love to it. (If this sounds pompous, it is perhaps because I wear thick spectacles.)

6. We should believe that truth exists.

7. We should aim to benefit others in addition to ourselves.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011


A man living in modern society is characterized by his subjection to both external (sociological) and internal (psychological) forces which control him and thereby thwart his desire to be free. Freedom will require men to gain control of these forces which determine his existence and behavior. 

The internal forces which influence and determine behavior were recognized by Freud as subconscious forces. He realized many people became ill because they feel driven by subconscious forces to do things while at the same time they feel another subconscious repulsion from doing these same things. Feeling they have no control whatsoever over their behavior they become mentally ill. To free man from these inner forces psychoanalysis attempts to make him aware of these unconscious energies on the assumption that such awareness is the first step, toward controlling them, rather than being controlled by them. Such a man then experiences a feeling of freedom. This is in keeping with the primary drive of mans history-the desire to be free and have the power to create---or the power to produce creatively.

Marx realized the same thing: that man has a basic desire to be free of the external forces which determine his behavior and put these forces under his control. Marx analyzed the situation and concluded that the external environment influences the life of man through his relationship to production. As he gains freedom from the dictates of coercive institutions then he is in a position to experience the power of production creatively and this is the godliness and holiness of man to man and man to the creator.

Man’s drive to reach this plateau of freedom in a class or capitalistic society is a historical fact. Under capitalism the private owners who are interested only in making profit for themselves are in control of society. The people are subjected to them and have to rely upon them for a living and are in fact slaves. Since the owners are  only interested in profits they use the people as tools to increase their riches, with little consideration of the effect this will have upon humanity

i.e. an obstruction of man the creator.

This makes it necessary to destroy the private ownership of the means of production because it has such a great effect upon all people. Everyone has to live and in order to live everyone has to produce. In a capitalistic society, however man does not produce for use he produces for profit. This again is a slave situation.  

Huey  P   Newton (co-founder of the Black Panthers)           

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Rabbits Running

The poet is a faker
Who’s so good at his act
He even fakes the pain
Of pain he feels in fact.


Monday, 11 July 2011

Proverbs of Hell


Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead.

The road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom.

Prudence is a rich old maid courted by incapacity.

He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence.

No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings.

The roaring of lions, the howling of wolves, the raging of

the stormy sea, and the destructive sword are portions of

eternity too great for the eye of man.

Always be ready to speak your mind, and a base man will avoid you.


William Blake

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Careful Now


‘Every Night’

I come back from the river bank, drunk

I have an unpaid bill

in every tavern.

Well, who lives to be seventy


by Li Po

Saturday, 9 July 2011


It is a type of power, a technology, that traverses every kind of apparatus or institution, linking them, prolonging them, and making them converge and function in a new way."[1]



Death breeds death

Ayn Rand 1905-1982

“It begins with the axiom that:

existence exists,

which means:

that an objective reality exists independent of any perceiver or of any perceiver’s emotions, feelings, wishes, hopes and fears.”

Objectivity she claimed “holds that reason is man’s only means of perceiving reality and his one guide to action. By reason, I mean the society which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses.”

This encouraged faith in rational self interest and self responsibility, resting on the core belief that no one is any one else’s slave.

Advocating individualism and the need for constitutional protection

and the rights to life, liberty and property was a continuation of the old style liberal tradition.

Rand turned unselfishness and concern for others “Upside Down”

“Objectivists ethics in essence hold that man exists for his own sake, that the pursuit of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose, that he must not sacrifice himself to others, nor sacrifice others to himself.”

Selfishness was a virtue.

Happiness was the aim.

Self sacrifice was immoral.

Sounds like some drunks I know as the finger brushes my nose

I demand answers…

“The government should be concerned only with matters that involve force. Everything else should be privately run.”

and of course she never had children and from what I understand was incapable of orgasm…her young lovers mesmerized and not too smart.


Hannah Arendt 1906-1975

Under Hitler and Stalin, terror ceased to be an instrument of state policy; it became an end in itself.

The banality of such evil is what astounded her.

In both Germany and Russia existing society had sowed the seeds of its undoing, notably by allowing the usurpation of the state by the bourgeoisie in pursuit of its own narrow interest at the expense of democracy, freedom and liberty.

Totalitarianism has such broad appeal she argued because it offered a single clear and unambiguous idea to a disenchanted and disaffected people that accounted for their present woes and promised them a future free from danger and insecurity.

She believed by going back to the origins of democracy, ancient Greece, and noting how society had slowly but surely atrophisized it values one could reassert these values by living the vita activa (active life).

It would be possible for freedom to be a character of human existence.

*Adolph Eichmann, a Nazi, who was later tried for his part in implementing the final solution for the Jewish problem was incapable of the self-judgments that would have made him aware of his deeds.

He did not think or question. He simply obeyed.

Populist Politics

Percolating in the USA,

the rich are getting richer

the middle class is getting less so

the poor…have almost been forgotten

those dam “Mexicans” as

patriotism becomes nationalism

more homes are forclosed.

Police brutality…enforcement

over five million people

are under the restrictions

of the justice system…

over 2,000,000 incarcerated.

more money on jails

than colleges…

dissent becomes a bad word…

*the information on Rand and Arendt come for the book:

Philosophy; A Beginners Guide to the Ideas of 100 Great Thinkers

by Jeremy Harwood pages 154-157 published by Quercus 

Thursday, 7 July 2011

July 7, 2011


no weed.

no cigarettes.

no beer.

Powerless radical

Egalitarian theories

as Fox ‘News' rants to

The White





as you know

a billion dollar industry

the product:

a masturbation facilitator

the verdict:


Body punishing…


obscenity laws

do not matter.

A lie:

a) attend university

b) get a well paid job

c) start a business

d) join the military

Iraqi war vets

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

and /or severe depression.

(for the most part)

poor…fighting a war,

in a desert, against an “enemy”

they knew nothing of…

the pipelines are leaking

the frogs are dying

the icecaps are melting

the forests are burning

the casinos are empty

the jails are full

the bankers are laughing

the professors

the journalists

the churches

the artists

the organizers

the activists

no one is innocent

we are all to blame

the child screams

I hear my name.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011


"Capitalism is the astounding belief                                                                   that the most wickedest of men                                                                          will do the most wickedest of things                                                                    for the greatest good of everyone."

John Maynard Keynes

Much of the mass movement literature suggests that violent direct action does have an impact on power holders. Scholars argue welfare spending increases in response to civil unrest in order to pacify the poor. They believe violence including looting, rock throwing, beatings, vandalism, arson, is most effective  when the protest group yields electoral power. 

Other factors include the size of the insurgent group, its relationship with broader society, the presence of democratic institutions, and the insurgent group's access to these institutions.

as the walls tumbled                                                                                             the earth shook                                                                                                   and the animals died.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Capitalism Defined from the Book Envisioning Real Utopias by Erik Olin Wright

Capitalism is a way of organizing the economic activities of a society which can be defined along two major thoroughfares; one the actors of the class relationship and two the coordinates of economic coordination.

Class relations are the social relations through which the means of production are owned and power is exercised over their use. In capitalism the means of production are privately owned and their use is controlled by the owners or their surrogates. The means of production by themselves cannot produce anything; they have to be set in motion by human labour. In capitalism this labour is provided by the workers who do not own the means of production and who, in order to acquire an income, are hired by capitalist firms “to work” the means of production. The fundamental class relation is between capitalist and workers. Of course this is highly simplified view of class structure while in actual capitalist countries there is a variety of other class locations loosely grouped under the title “middle class.”

Economic coordination in capitalism is accomplished primarily through mechanisms of decentralized and voluntary exchange by privately contracting parties-or what is generally called “free markets” –through which the prices and quantities of the goods and services produced are determined.

Market coordination is conventionally contrasted with authoritative state coordination in which the power of the state is used to allocate resources for different purposes. The famous phrase “the invisible hand” captures the basic idea; individuals and firms, simply pursing their own private interests, engage in bargaining and voluntary exchanges with other individuals and firms, and out of this uncoordinated set of micro-interactions comes an economic system that is more or less coordinated at the aggregate level.

The combination of these two features; class relations and economic coordination generate the characteristic competitive drive for profits and capital accumulation of capitalistic firms. Each firm in order to survive over time must compete successfully with other firms. Firms that innovate lower their costs of production and increase productivity can undercut rivals, increase their profits and thus expand at the expense of other firms. Each firm faces these competitive pressures and thus in general all firms are forced to seek innovation of one sort or another in order to survive. The resulting relentless drive for profits generates the striking dynamism of capitalism relative to all forms of economic organization.

This of course is a simplified and pure version of capitalism. As most economic sociologists stress no capitalistic economy could function effectively or even survive it it consisted exclusively of the institutions of private property and market competition. Many other institutional arrangements are needed to make capitalism actually work and are present in all real capitalistic economies.

Some capitalism has strong affirmative states that regulate many aspects of the market and empower workers in various ways to control certain aspects of the labor process and in other capitalistic states both firms and workers are organized into various kinds of collective associations that provide significant forms of coordination distinct from both market and state coordination (pg 35 Envisioning real Utopias).

Trade associations, unions, chambers of commerce and other kinds of associations help constitute what some people have called “organized capitalism.” All varieties of capitalism also contain a significant domain and economic activity that occurs outside both the market and state regulations especially economic activity within households and kin networks, but also within the broader social settings often referred to as community (pg 36 Envisioning Real Utopias).

Eleven Criticisms of Capitalism

One of the central task of socialists is to convince people that capitalism creates such a range of undesirable consequences that one should at least entertain the idea that an alternative to capitalism might be possible and is in fact even desirable.

1. Capitalism class relations perpetuate eliminable forms of humans suffering.

2. Capitalism blocks the universalization of conditions for expansive human flourishing.

3. Capitalism perpetuates eliminable deficits in individual freedom and autonomy.

4. Capitalism violates liberal egalitarian principles of social justice.

5. Capitalism is inefficient in certain crucial respects.

6. Capitalism has a systematic bias towards consumerism.

7. Capitalism is environmentally destructive.

8. Capitalist commodification threatens important broadly held values.

9. Capitalism in a world of nation states fuels militarism and imperialism.

10. Capitalism corrodes community.

11. Capitalism limits democracy.

Friday, 1 July 2011

“Envisioning Real Utopias” by Erik Olin Wright


The tasks of emancipatory social sciences:

1. Diagnosis and critique of existing social structures and institutions

-social justice

-political justice

2. Viable alternatives




The 3rd task of emancipatory social science is transformation.

The diagnosis and critique of society tells us why we want to leave the world in which we live.

The theory of alternatives tells us where we want to go and the theory of transformation tells us how we are going to get there.

This theory involves four central components:

1. A theory of social reproduction.

2. A theory of the gaps and contradictions within the process of reproduction.

3. A theory of the underlying dynamics and trajectory of unintended social change.

4. A theory of collective actors, strategies and struggles.

Lets break it down:

A Theory of Social Reproduction

Social reproduction implies that the structures and social harms identified in the diagnosis and critique of society do not exist simply through some law of inertia but in fact have a mechanism which ensures their continuity.

Since these institutions and structures cause harm to people they must have some mechanism which ensures their survival otherwise the oppressed would resist and create change to ensure a more egalitarian civilization. The relative stability of oppressive systems depends upon the existence of a variety of interconnected defense mechanisms which block or contain such a challenge. In order to transform these systems we must understand how these mechanisms work. That is we must understand the nature of the systems defense.

A Theory of the gaps and contradictions within the process of reproduction

If it were the case that the process of social reproduction was a complete coherent, pervasively integrated system then there would be little hope of deliberate transformation. Though some theories do come close to this totalizing view of social reproduction

i.e. domination is so pervasive and coherent that all acts of apparent resistance merely serve to further stabilize the system of domination itself.

These theories may still embody a diagnosis and critique of society but they fail to provide grounds for believing that transformation is possible thus scientific knowledge cannot contribute to challenging forms of oppression.

An emancipatory theory of must social transformation must examine the crack, the contradictions and the gaps in the social reproduction. In short the various ways in which the process of social reproduction opens up spaces in which collective struggles for new possibilities are available.

If we take emancipatory social science as a form of science and not just a philosophical critique then we cannot assume a priori that such openings exist so we must continue to search for contradictory processes that allow openings for transformation.

A theory of the underlying dynamics and trajectory of unintended social change

In order to formulate compelling long-term projects of social transformation, it is obviously desirable to understand, not simply the obstacles and openings for strategies in the present, but also how those obstacles and opportunities are likely to develop over time.

This is the central thrust of Marx’s historical materialism which proposed a systematic, coherent account of the dynamic tendencies internal to capitalism which in theory would lead to unintended social change and the demise of our current system.

Though we may have a good understanding of the mechanisms of social reproduction and their contradictions we do not have a good understanding of the interplay of reproduction, contradictions and social actions.

A compelling theory regarding the dynamic trajectory of social change is still forthcoming.

We do not believe that the fundamental structural and institutional changes needed for creating a democratic egalitarian society can be achieved in the immediate future yet our ability to generate credible knowledge of social conditions beyond the near future is very limited.

There is thus a gap between the time horizons of scientific theory (short term) and the time-horizon of transformative struggle (long term).

A theory of collective actors, strategies, and struggles

We believe that if viable alternatives are to be realized, this will be the result of conscious strategies, by people committed to democratic egalitarian principles.

Therefore we need a theory of strategies dealing with collective action and transformative struggle.


The theory of social reproduction maps out the obstacles we face (the systems strengths).

The theory of contradiction maps out the opportunities that exist (the systems weaknesses).

The theory of dynamic trajectory-if we had such a theory- would tell us how these obstacles and opportunities are likely to evolve over time.

The theory of transformative strategy tells us how we can contend with the obstacles and take advantage of the opportunities and move us in the direction of social emancipation.