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



I agree Rauno, that Althusser has something to say to us, and I got a lot out of reading him. Others also among those who you mention, most of whom had something to teach us. But that does not alter my assessment of Althusser as essentially a reactionary. If you see the world as a system and people as individuals who have been "subjectified," then really there is nothing better to do than have as much pleasure as you can and then die. I don't accept that advice.
Andy
------------------------------------------------------------------------
*Andy Blunden*
http://home.mira.net/~andy/


Rauno Huttunen wrote:
Hello,

I am also a humanist but I still like to read Althusser. Althusser's theory of science and social theory are very interesting (generalization I-III, intransitive causality [generative causality?], ideological state apparatus etc.). With the help of Giddens is possible to make kind of humanistic interpretation on Althusser's social theory.

Althusser's former student (many famous French thinker were Althusser's students; Foucault, Derrida, Bourdieu, Badiou, Debray...) Jacques Ranciere is also very interesting. He break away from Althusser's school in 1970th and started his own kind of humanistic critical social theory. In his book "The Nights of Labor: The Workers' Dream in Nineteenth-Century France" Ranciere claims that Althusserians really don't care about working class, their intentions, their feelings, their thought, their dreams etc.. Althusserians say that they represents the objective interests of working class but actually they are telling to working class how workers should think and feel. For Ranciere Alhusserianism is just another form of ruling elite's ideology; ruling class ideology is just replaced with Althusserian party ideology.

Rauno Huttunen

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Andy Blunden
Sent: 22. tammikuuta 2014 4:34
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Working for the Few | Oxfam International

I don't know how you claim to be an optimist, Paul. For my part, I am deeply hostile to Althusser's entire project. Structuralism is itself the paradigm of the ideology of modern capitalism. I am a humanist. "Who will take that self-conscious act?" you ask. Obviously the answer is that the agent will be a collaborative project, itself the product of many collaborative projects, and yes, organic intellectuals have a role to play it that project. But "a gramscian organic intellectual" is not a serious answer, as if it were a case of one person. But "The majority" (or intellectuals I presume you mean) is an empirical abstraction. So what? Who is counting? As if intellectual act as a unity according to majority votes of all intellectuals? Abstractions!

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


Dr. Paul C. Mocombe wrote:
But your position, andy, begs the question who will take that self-conscious act...a gramscian organic intellectual? Where are they? They are not in africa for instance...evo morales in latin america? I am with althusser on this one. The majority have been interpellated by and through ideological apparatuses that present capitalism as the nature of reality as such. The masses think they can all be and live like Mike (michael jordan), the atlanta housewives, and basketball wives. They love capitalism more than the capitalists....


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


-------- Original message --------
From: Andy Blunden
Date:01/21/2014 9:00 PM (GMT-05:00)
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"
Subject: [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
        >>>>   >>>>
        >>>>     >>>>       >>>>        >>>   >>>     >>>      >>
        >>   >>    >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >