Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Scepter and Frond

Working more on Lenin's Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism... I came across some works critical of it based on how far it breaks with Marx's understanding of capital and world-political struggle, with some people calling it un-Marxist. Is such discussion very productive? Any foundation has the capability to grow in many directions, and people of one branch, in order to justify their existence/decision/tradition, will usually criticise those of others and call them alien from the root (which they might claim to be in the most accordance with). The difference between branches can be very meaningful and worth struggle (and some branches may indeed become very distant from each other), but the need to claim a uniquely powerful tie to the root concept (whatever it is) seems unnecessary to me unless other claims mandate it (e.g. if Marxists venerated Karl Marx as a person rather than thought he had some good ideas, likewise if educated people venerated Darwin/Einstein/etc). People should learn to short-circuit discussions on authentic historicity and tradition when such things arn't an explicit goal of the philosophy/movement involved. I don't believe Karl Marx, the Founding Fathers of the United States, Charles Darwin, Adam Smith, or many other people who changed the world did it to establish a cult of personality, nor that jealously guarding their ideas in the initial forms serves their ends well. The name of a movement is equivalent to neither the value-formulations it serves to advance nor the specific attempts to do so. The response to "Is the Leninist branch really Marxism?" should be fairly close to "Who cares?" or "that's a distraction from talking about the values involved".

Lightly related, I followed a pointer to this article on Slate on economics, which is amusing and stupid on many levels. Highlight: "A perpetual trade surplus is likely to mean you're either working too hard or consuming too little; either way, you're not getting enough enjoyment out of life. " - as if a trade surplus is a good way to tell people they're unhappy, and as if pleasure has an intrinsic tie to monetary income. The other nuggets of stupid in the article are equally amusing.

In a recent Ken MacLeod blog post, he is amused at some failed attacks in Britain, specifically that the would-be bombers are members of the NHS, people who in theory should be well-educated enough to have gotten bomb-design right. He goes on to comment on the tendencies of various professions/sections of society for certain types of thought - medical students are "well meaning and intelligent" but are lumped down with students in divinity in being ill-behaved and ill-informed. Engineers are portrayed as having strong tendencies for over-formal by-the-spec thought that can lead them towards fundamentalism of various sorts, something that I've certainly seen here (and which, when I was younger, I partook of).

Small updates on news items I've already mentioned:

  • That mosque in Pakistan that's been kidnapping people and the like has been involved in battles with the police, who want to put an end to their .. activities. I confess that I'd be inclined to give people some warning to leave and then demolish the place (by bomb or rocket if necessary) - things like this should be rooted out quickly. A central mission of states, at least by a common conception, is to have a monopoly on the consistent use of force within its borders - things that challenge that are dangerous for the society that depends on the state. Sometimes states should be overthrown and when they should be is a value-laden decision, but at least by my values, those pushing Sharia should be isolated and disenfranchised or eliminated (preferring the first) for the protection and advancement of secular society/values.
  • Qadaffi's push for African political unity continues to be a major topic at the African Union summit. I've been doing a bit more reading about Qadaffi's earlier efforts for political unities - he was also involved in some of the various pan-Arab movements. I wonder if this pan-Africanism push has a better chance for success. It's interesting to look at why each of these movements failed..
  • The Japanese defence minister who commented on the Atomic bomb droppings in Japan resigned under criticism.

Also in the news, Kelly Martin's take on Erik's second candidacy for the Wikimedia board.

Recent amusing idea: Lazy-evaluation time machine, which when going back in time, creates a plausible past based on the current state of things rather than finding some "true past" and tracking it.

Life and events: amusing how they're sometimes not at all what we expect, and how so much we do is provisional, speculative. Easy to misunderstand - when people insist that we're on a straight path we can plan to every step rather than in a land of maybes, some internal, some external, which we plan for parts of, many of which will never come to be.

Desire: Golden Nepal Tea. The Beehive's is exquisite, but the tea import place doesn't have any Golden Nepal.


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