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[Xmca-l] Re: Working for the Few | Oxfam International



Which brings us back to what on Earth is meant by "mind," Paul, but no, it is not my understanding at all that capitalism exists irrespective of the armed bodies of men and their political off-shoots which protect those relations. Unlike you though, Paul, I do not ascribe a personality to "the Earth," or "humanity," "the poor," or "us academics." What I am saying however is that the overthrow of capitalist social relations and thus the state which protects it, is a self-conscious act, a collaborative project, not something which emerges mindlessly out of the social process.

Andy
------------------------------------------------------------------------
*Andy Blunden*
http://home.mira.net/~andy/


Dr. Paul C. Mocombe wrote:
Bill,

You speak of capitalism as though it has a mind of its own, I.e., the free market. No such thing as Karl polanyi demonstrates in "the great transformation...The state has kept capitalism alive and going amidst it's crises. The question becomes can we have a humanist capitalism somewhere between adam smith's "theory of moral sentiments" and his "wealth of nations." Revisionist Marxists such as Bernstein grappled with this question, and it continues to plague twenty first century socialists.


Dr. Paul C. Mocombe
President
The Mocombeian Foundation, Inc.
www.mocombeian.com www.readingroomcurriculum.com

-------- Original message --------
From: Bill Kerr
Date:01/21/2014 8:15 PM (GMT-05:00)
To: Andy Blunden ,"eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Working for the Few | Oxfam International

My contention is that capitalism has these economic characteristics:

1) General increase in standard of living
2) Increasing gap b/w rich and poor
3) Instability: periodic economic crises

If you only talk about (2) without mentioning (1) then it is hard to grasp
why people put up with capitalism. Bill and Melinda Gates just talk about
(1) and ignore the other aspects. See
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304149404579324530112590864

If you can't stomach Bill and Melinda there are other version of this
narrative. This video (Hans Rosling, GapMinder) is interesting:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbkSRLYSojo

The historical record suggests to me that provided (1) is maintained then
people will continue to tolerate capitalism. Whether capitalism can
maintain (1) depends on (3). The crisis of 2008 and the Occupy Wall Street
movement suggested to me that it was time to do some serious study of
Marx's unfinished project or alternatively other economic theories such as
Post Keynesian (Hyman Minsky, Steve Keen et al) which recognise the
inherent instability of capitalism. My tentative conclusion is that we just
don't understand capitalism and it is very hard to understand. eg. if
capitalists can muddle through the downturns by printing more money and the
very serious economic downturns can be delayed by 70 years (Great
Depression to 2008) then that might be a formula for survival (?) Absurd
simplification on my part.




On Wed, Jan 22, 2014 at 11:16 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> Which means, does it not Huw, propagating a counter-ethic, so to speak,
> since arguments against an ethic are just words, and the maxim is always
> "do as I do not as I say." But an ethic is meaningful, I believe only
> within some collaborative endeavour. My relationship to you is meaningful > only in connection of what we do, as we, together. I believe that "Do unto > others as you would have them do unto you," is fine as far as it goes, but
> is inadequate to this mtulicultural, fragmented world.
>
> Andy
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *Andy Blunden*
> http://home.mira.net/~andy/
>
>
> Huw Lloyd wrote:
>
>> Going back to reference to the bubble and social psychology, it seems to >> me that the "super rich" are to be pitied too. I am not sure living in a >> bubble is such a nice thing, especially given the immaturity required to
>> sustain it.
>>
>> I don't think it is the super rich which are to be combatted, rather it
>> is the inane notion that this is something to be admired or desired. This,
>> it seems to me, is a more obtainable and more rewarding exercise.
>>
>> Best,
>> Huw
>>
>>
>>
>> On 22 January 2014 00:07, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:
>> ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:
>>
>>     But your foundation is active in combatting inequality through
>>     literacy. "Every step of real movement is more important than a
>>     dozen programmes," as one very serious theorist said.
>>     Andy
>> http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1875/letters/75_05_05.htm
>>
>>     ------------------------------------------------------------
>> ------------
>>     *Andy Blunden*
>>     http://home.mira.net/~andy/ <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/>
>>
>>
>>
>>     Dr. Paul C. Mocombe wrote:
>>
>>         At 38 I am differing to my elders on this one...albeit, I
>>         agree with Andy...too young to be pessimistic, but what I have
>>         seen happen to black america has really disappointed me.
>>
>>
>>         Dr. Paul C. Mocombe
>>         President
>>         The Mocombeian Foundation, Inc.
>>         www.mocombeian.com <http://www.mocombeian.com>
>>         www.readingroomcurriculum.com
>>         <http://www.readingroomcurriculum.com>
>>
>>
>>         -------- Original message --------
>>         From: Andy Blunden
>>         Date:01/21/2014 6:36 PM (GMT-05:00)
>>         To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"
>>         Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Working for the Few | Oxfam International
>>
>>         David, you are quite correct that agreement on fundamentals of
>>         theory is
>>         by no means necessary for collaboration (though on the xmca
>>         list this is
>>         feasible). In a sense, the very meaning of "collaboration" is
>>         that such
>>         disagreement on fundamentals is suspended. Nonetheless, in
>>         raising the
>>         proposal on this list your are inviting collaboration on
>>         formation of
>> the concept of this project, and I have accepted the invitation by
>>         criticising your concept of the proposal. You have propsed the
>>         writing
>>         of an article countering the narrative of Ayn Rand that "the
>>         ultra-wealthy are the engines of advancement and prosperity
>>         and the
>>         saviors of society" and to argue instead that "the gradual
>>         shift in
>>         political control of the economy over the past 50 years by the
>>         ultra-wealthy has reached a kind of tipping point in which the
>>         gains in
>>         disparity are so dramatic as to overwhelm any sense of actual
>> self-interest." My response is "Well, hello!" This is hardly news, >> David. This has been argued (correctly) for several centuries. The >> wealthy have always been a class of parasites; social progress has
>>         always been only in the teeth of opposition from all but a few
>>         of that
>>         class. I would argue that it is better to enter some actual
>>         project
>>         aimed against capitalism and ineqaulity and participate in the
>>         argument
>>         about strategy and tactics. Being 68, after 50 years of such
>>         participation, I accept a somewhat arm's length participation,
>>         but the
>>         protagonists (wether real or imagined) are those actually
>>         engaged in
>>         that struggle in any formm about how best to further that
>>         struggle. Not
>>         the *generalities*, in my view. But I am pleased that you are
>>         taking up
>>         the battle and I wish you well. All I can do is offer my
>>         reflections on
>>         your object-concept, as others have and will.
>>
>>         Andy
>>         ------------------------------------------------------------
>> ------------
>>         *Andy Blunden*
>>         http://home.mira.net/~andy/ <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/>
>>
>>
>>
>>         David H Kirshner wrote:
>>         >> It would appear ...
>>         >>    >
>>         > Doesn't appear that way to me.
>>         > In fact, it's not clear to me, contrary to Andy and Paul,
>>         that in a practical endeavor one has to come to terms with
>>         foundational issues, at all.
>>         > The fact that social psychology may not have the foundations
>>         right doesn't imply that it has no insight to offer, or that a
>>         make-shift frame of reference can't provide a stable enough
>>         foundation to move people forward (collectively and
>>         individually). Indeed, isn't that the necessary way forward in
>>         any practical endeavor, given the absence of fully worked out
>>         foundational perspectives (and given the need to address the
>>         world as we find it, without the theorist's option of
>>         restricting the domain of inquiry within tractable parameters)?
>>         > David
>>         >
>>         >
>>         > -----Original Message-----
>>         > From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
>>         <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
>>         [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
>>         <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>] On Behalf Of Dr.
>>         Paul C. Mocombe
>>         > Sent: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 6:12 AM
>>         > To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity; ablunden@mira.net
>>         <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>
>> > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Working for the Few | Oxfam International
>>         >
>>         > Andy and david,
>>         >
>>         > It would appear that any counter - narrative would have to
>>         be anti-dialectical and counter-hegemonic, I.e.,
>>         anti-individual, anti-capitalist, anti-humanity...  Can such a
>>         counter - narrative come from a humanity, including us
>>         academics, subjectified to reproduce individual wealth, upward
>>         mobility, and status at the expense of the masses of poor
>>         around the world, paradoxically, seeking our bourgeois
>>         lifestyle? >
>>         > I ask because,  it would appear that the earth,in marxian
>>         terms, as a class for itself, has been begging for humanity to
>>         change the way it recursively reorganize and reproduce it's
>>         being-in-it over the last 100 years, but we consistently
>>         refuse.  Instead, turning to dialectical measures, fracking,
>>         carbon credits, neoliberalism, etc., to attempt to resolve our
>>         problems and maintain the protestant ethic and the spirit of
>>         capitalism as an "enframing" (heidegger's term) ontology.
>>         >
>>         > I am not a pessimistic person, but it appears that in this
>>         case we are all dead we just do not know it yet.
>>         >
>>         >
>>         > Dr. Paul C. Mocombe
>>         > President
>>         > The Mocombeian Foundation, Inc.
>>         > www.mocombeian.com <http://www.mocombeian.com>
>>         > www.readingroomcurriculum.com
>>         <http://www.readingroomcurriculum.com>
>>
>>         >
>>         > <div>-------- Original message --------</div><div>From:
>>         David H Kirshner <dkirsh@lsu.edu <mailto:dkirsh@lsu.edu>>
>>
>>         </div><div>Date:01/21/2014  2:50 AM  (GMT-05:00)
>>         </div><div>To: ablunden@mira.net
>>         <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>,"eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"
>>         <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>>
>>
>>         </div><div>Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Working for the Few | Oxfam
>>         International </div><div>
>>         > </div>Andy,
>>         > I suppose social psychology's unitary and a-historical
>>         ascription of the human sense of material well-being as
>>         relative to other people (rather than as relative to one's own
>>         past) gets it wrong from the start. Still, I think it provides
>>         a way to understand the individual pursuit of wealth, carried
>>         to its limits, as anti-social and destructive; an effective
>>         counter-narrative to the libertarian ideal of the individual
>>         unfettered by societal constraints. We badly need a
>>         counter-narrative to regain some kind of political leverage
>>         for ordinary citizens.
>>         > If anyone would like to help pull that together in the form
>>         of a paper, please reply, on-line or off-.
>>         > Thanks.
>>         > David
>>         > dkirsh@lsu.edu <mailto:dkirsh@lsu.edu>
>>
>>         >
>>         >
>>         > -----Original Message-----
>>         > From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
>>         <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
>>         [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
>>         <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>] On Behalf Of Andy
>>         Blunden
>>         > Sent: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 12:13 AM
>>         > To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Working for the Few | Oxfam International
>>         >
>>         > I certainly hope so, David, or at least, I hope to read and
>> participate in acting out the opening chapter of that narrative.
>>         >
>>         > I do think that the "99%/1%" narrative was a project doomed
>>         to failure however, as it conceived of itself as a linear
>>         expansion which would somehow bypass social and ideological
>>         differences. It did not conceive of itselfr as a project at
>>         all. Just a mesage about the one true world which everyone had
>>         to come to. Truly magical realism. The plot lies implicit in
>>         the opening chapter, but it is always far from easy to see how
>>         the plot will unfold itself though the multiple story-lines
>>         entailed in this conundrum, Andy
>>         >
>>         ------------------------------------------------------------
>> ------------
>>         > *Andy Blunden*
>>         > http://home.mira.net/~andy/ <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/>
>>
>>         >
>>         >
>>         > David H Kirshner wrote:
>>         >  >> The operative narrative, at least in the U.S. context,
>>         dictated by Ayn Rand, is that the ultra-wealthy are the
>>         engines of advancement and prosperity and the saviors of
>>         society. What is in their best interest is in all of our best
>>         interests. We very badly need a counter-narrative.
>>         >> Andy, is this practical project something that can be
>>         undertaken and completed in real-time as a theoretical project?
>>         >> David
>>         >>
>>         >>
>>         >> -----Original Message-----
>>         >> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
>>         <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
>>         >> [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
>>         <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>] On Behalf Of Andy
>>         Blunden
>>         >> Sent: Monday, January 20, 2014 11:06 PM
>>         >> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> >> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Working for the Few | Oxfam International
>>         >>
>>         >> David I have plenty of experience with desparate measures
>>         over teh
>>         >> past
>>         >> 50 years, and I have come very late to "the broader
>>         theoretical project." It is absolutely essential that the
>>         practical project and the theoretical project are one and the
>>         same.
>>         >>
>>         >> Andy
>>         >>
>>         ------------------------------------------------------------
>> ----------
>>         >> --
>>         >> *Andy Blunden*
>>         >> http://home.mira.net/~andy/ <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/>
>>
>>         >>
>>         >>
>>         >> David H Kirshner wrote:
>>         >>   >>    >>> Andy,
>>         >>> Sometimes, in order to create a counter-narrative that can
>>         be effective in the here and now, one has to step outside of
>>         the broader theoretical project. I guess, for some, this would
>>         constitute a distraction from the real work, perhaps a
>>         violation of the true mission of that scholarly endeavor. For
>>         others, it might be a legitimate (even if imperfect) effort to
>>         apply what one has come to understand from the larger project.
>>         For others, still, perhaps simply a political activity
>>         undertaken with theoretical tools, but with little actual
>>         relation to the theoretical project.
>>         >>> Perhaps these are desperate measures that these desperate
>>         times call for.
>>         >>> David
>>         >>>
>>         >>>
>>         >>> -----Original Message-----
>>         >>> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
>>         <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
>>         >>> [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
>>         <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>] On Behalf Of Andy
>>         Blunden
>>         >>> Sent: Monday, January 20, 2014 10:29 PM
>>         >>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>>         >>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Working for the Few | Oxfam
>>         International
>>         >>>
>>         >>> Well, that's the project I have been collaborating in
>>         since I was a teenager, David, but it has its challenges, too,
>>         you know.
>>         >>>
>>         >>> First off, these observations about social psychology and
>>         well-being:
>>         >>> The point is to have a unit of analysis and one which is
>>         as valid for making observations about psychology as it is for
>>         social theory. And in general, this is lacking for what goes
>>         by the name of "social psychology." People do not of course
>>         govern their behaviour by evidence-based investigations of the
>>         likely results of their behaviour.
>>         >>> People don't set out to "grow a bigger economy" or "have
>>         more wealth than someone else". The thinking of an individual
>>         has to be understood (I would contend) within the contexts of
>>         the projects to which they are committed. That is the reason
>>         for the relativity in the enjoyment of wealth (which is itself
>>         of course relative). People make judgments according to the
>>         norms of the project in which they are participating, and that
>>         means semantic, theoretical and practical norms. Understanding
>>         the psychology of political economy is as of one task with
>>         that of building a project to overthrow the existing political
>>         economic arrangements and build sustainable arrangements. That
>>         requires a multitude of projects all willikng and able to
>>         collaborate with one another.
>>         >>>
>>         >>> That's what I think.
>>         >>> Andy
>>         >>>
>>         ------------------------------------------------------------
>> ---------
>>         >>> -
>>         >>> --
>>         >>> *Andy Blunden*
>>         >>> http://home.mira.net/~andy/ <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/>
>>
>>         >>>
>>         >>>
>>         >>> David H Kirshner wrote:
>>         >>>   >>>     >>>      >>>> I've been sketching out in my
>>         mind, but not yet had time to research and write, a paper
>>         tentatively titled:
>>         >>>> The Psychology of Greed: Why the Ultra-wealthy are
>>         Despoiling the
>>         >>>> Planet, Tanking the Economy, and Gutting our Culture In
>>         the Quest
>>         >>>> for More
>>         >>>>
>>         >>>> The premise is that the psychological metric of our sense
>>         of material well-being is not accumulation, relative to our
>>         own past wealth, but the comparative measure of our own wealth
>>         in relation to that of others. (I believe this is a
>>         well-established principle of social psychology.) So, for
>>         example, instead of trying to grow a bigger economy which
>>         requires a large and healthy middle-class (this is what would
>>         provide more actual wealth for the ultra-wealthy), they are
>>         eroding the middle-class as quickly as they can--a strategy
>>         that maximizes disparity.
>>         >>>>
>>         >>>> The major thesis (in the U.S. context) is that the
>>         gradual shift in political control of the economy over the
>>         past 50 years by the ultra-wealthy has reached a kind of
>>         tipping point in which the gains in disparity are so dramatic
>>         as to overwhelm any sense of actual self-interest. Hence, we
>>         see increasingly irrational and self-destructive behavior by
>>         the ultra-wealthy (e.g., the fraudulent housing bubble that
>>         created what U.S. economists refer to as The Great Recession).
>>         The conclusion, of course, is a call to action to take back
>>         control of our political systems so we can set more rational
>>         policies for the economy.
>>         >>>>
>>         >>>> I don't know if this thesis extends so easily beyond the
>>         U.S. situation to the world, but if this project appeals, I
>>         would welcome a collaborative effort--perhaps even one that
>>         somehow encompasses the whole XMCA listserv as co-authors.
>>         >>>>
>>         >>>> David
>>         >>>>   >>>>
>>         >>>>     >>>>       >>>>        >>>   >>>     >>>      >>
>>         >>   >>    >
>>         >
>>         >
>>         >
>>         >
>>         >
>>         >
>>
>>
>>
>