Quotable (#103)

Jehu doing his best to upset everyone simultaneously:

If agency means our conscious actions arrive at an intended result, we acquire real freedom of action only insofar as our activity is consistent with the historical trajectory of capital. If, as Marx argued, the historical trajectory of the capitalist mode of production is in the direction of the abolition of labor, we are ‘free’ to accelerate this process. The scope of free conscious action is not unbounded; it is constrained by an objective process, a logic that is itself historically specific.

Naphta Politics

The idea of communism is practically incoherent in the absence of a global authoritarian state. It appears that Pope Francis agrees:

Pope Francis will this week call for changes in lifestyles and energy consumption to avert the “unprecedented destruction of the ecosystem” before the end of this century, according to a leaked draft of a papal encyclical. In a document released by an Italian magazine on Monday, the pontiff will warn that failure to act would have “grave consequences for all of us”.

Francis also called for a new global political authority tasked with “tackling … the reduction of pollution and the development of poor countries and regions”. His appeal echoed that of his predecessor, pope Benedict XVI, who in a 2009 encyclical proposed a kind of super-UN to deal with the world’s economic problems and injustices.

According to the lengthy draft, which was obtained and published by L’Espresso magazine, the Argentinean pope will align himself with the environmental movement and its objectives. While accepting that there may be some natural causes of global warming, the pope will also state that climate change is mostly a man-made problem.

(for more on Leo Naphta — among the most prophetic characters in world literary history — the best recommendation is to read the book.)

Quotable (#88)

Jehu has a witty post up asking “Why can’t communists be more ‘business friendly’?” Among the gems:

… as a radical, you cannot credibly compete against bourgeois politicians by promising to be even more friendly to business than that politician. Who is dumb enough to believe that promise coming from a communist?

Quick links (#30)

Osnos on Xi Jinping (related). Still throbbing in the Western media, the China crisis drum beat. Reincarnation politics. Siberia won’t be changing hands.

Singapore after LKY. Vietnam’s moment? North Koreans in Cyberspace. Twilight of the EU. Yemen collapses. Where the super-rich live. The rich and powerful are different. A de-pinkering world.

Reach for the sky. Minsky’s moment?

Bitcoin in space, and on Wall Street. Asteroid mining 101. Silicon Valley’s smartest decisions. 21. AI almost ready for business. Jobless growth. Beyond hacked fridges. AI’s PR problem (e.g. 1, 2). Father Time is getting tired. Thiel turns to biotech.

Umbral moonshine. Evolution is machine learning. Pre-deployed extraterrestrial colonization infrastructure. The universe is collapsing. At the edge of experimentation.

The Dutch East India Company (video).

Acceleration in Vice. The poverty of acceleration. #Accelerate recommended.

Robotics in SF. More robots. Design fiction. Cyberspace must die. VR digest (huge). Materials project.

Cognitive Anthropocene. Fully automated luxury communism. “Fundamentally, socialist politics are rooted in the idea that democracy should be radically extended from the political sphere into social and economic life.” Against exit. Radical chic. Pointless argument. Communism (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). Tech critique needs more communism (response).

Catastrophe by default. Tulipmania. Feminist cybersecurity. Afrofuturism (and on film).

Interviews with Bratton, Dryhurst, Graeber. Srnicek on urban struggle (video). Zizek reviewed. The Alexander-Eisenman debate.

Negate thyself. Sounds of Dark Matter (1, 2, 3).

TINA vs Demos

Now the fun begins.

Syriza-rally

For those (like this blog) who think Austerity® — when on those rare occasions when it isn’t a myth — is math, the outcome of this is already written vividly on the wall. By the autumn the new government will have been denounced as traitors by the left, and have become a teaching aid for the right.

Alternative predictions warmly welcomed in the comments.

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Quick links (#22)

Chinese inflation, grand strategy, and anti-corruption. Hebei told to clean up. Market turbulence. A post-capital economy? Hong Kong and loyalty. Changi biodome.

Urbanization and inequality. 1WTC is the most expensive building in the world.

Don’t trust economists (even if they’re well informed or objective). The stagnation quandary. Economic impacts of foreign policy and demography. A bubble in the US shale patch?

Difficult times for Venezuela (more, and more). Metamorphosis of Mecca. Cyberwar in Turkey. North Korean hackers. Europe‘s new ‘arc of instability‘. Mesopotamian miseries (1, 2, 3).

Tech-regulation arbitrage. Commercial experimentation at Amazon. AI on the blockchain. Nanotech meets 3D-printing. Memristor update. A path to quantum transistors? BitQuest. Internet decentralization through Project Maelstrom and Ethereum. Skype translator on the way. Attending to the unconnected. AI net nannies. Accelerating AI (more). The week in cyberpanic. What, me worry? Security challenge.

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Quick links (#19)

APEC provides a pretext for examinations of the East Asian diplomatic and geostrategic environment, and matters (for Americans) closer to home. China arrives. This series on China’s Tianxia traditions is unsympathetic, but raises some interesting questions (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

Signs of life in China’s ‘ghost cities’?

Chilly times for Zhang Yimou.

Doing business in Japan.

Drone commerce, border security, and military prospects. Most significantly, they’re getting smarter.

If it’s possible to land on a comet, how distant can asteroid mining be?

Helping computers write their own code (what could go wrong?).

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Quick links (#16)

The highly-informative, chart-heavy Heritage report on what rising Asia means to America is a great resource. More data, sifted for sensationalism, here.

How strong are the linkages between real estate and other sectors in China? (Strong enough for serious concern.)

Putin’s popularity in China.

Enigmatic developments in North Korea.

The coming blockchain company. (Part of a generalized decentralized computing revolution?)

Neuromorphic chip-architecture arrives.

On the Marxist contribution of turbo-capitalism. Automation and class struggle. Plus some other (more amusing) communist stuff.

Fukuyama is still doubling-down on democracy.

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The Fascism that’s Winning

John Michael Greer’s grasp of the fascist phenomenon is much stronger than Samir Amin’s. As might be expected from a voice so unambiguously aligned with the Left, Amin is entirely indifferent to the essentially populist nature of fascism and its erosion of property rights.

Property has no meaning apart from free disposal, equivalent to an Exit option on a particular instantiation of wealth. Fascism’s statist subordination of the independent ‘plutocracy’ — realized through more-or-less severe restrictions on the free disposal of assets, both formal and informal — is therefore inconsistent with the protection of private property, which is rather eroded from its foundations. (Where communism expropriates, fascism — more efficiently — attenuates.)

Amin is therefore writing from a position of structurally-unobservant Marxist dogma when he remarks of “fascist regimes” in general:

… they were all willing to manage the government and society in such a way as not to call the fundamental principles of capitalism into question, specifically private capitalist property, including that of modern monopoly capitalism. That is why I call these different forms of fascism particular ways of managing capitalism and not political forms that challenge the latter’s legitimacy, even if “capitalism” or “plutocracies” were subject to long diatribes in the rhetoric of fascist speeches. The lie that hides the true nature of these speeches appears as soon as one examines the “alternative” proposed by these various forms of fascism, which are always silent concerning the main point — private capitalist property.

On the contrary — every fascist regime qualifies the liberal right to free disposal of ‘strategic’ economic assets, and thus subverts “private capitalist property” at the root. Indeed, the forms of property most radically affected by fascist governance are precisely those identifiable with a capitalistic (i.e. productive) character. In the case of large-scale capital assets determined as the ‘commanding heights’ of a modern industrial economy, especially those of clear military significance, utilization is directed as stringently under fascist conditions as communistic ones (although typically with considerably greater administrative competence and pragmatic flexibility). When socialism emphasizes practicality, it tends to adopt fascistic traits — such as nationalism and state-supervised bourgeois management — automatically.

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