9 June 2014

BEING AND TIME, part 1 :

The Key Existentialist Philosophers as per

the Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy: S?ren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) Albert Camus (1913-1960)

WHY MARTIN HEIDEGGER MATTERS Being and Time is a work of considerable length (437 pages in the German original) and legendary difficulty. The difficulty is caused by the fact that Heidegger sets himself the task of what he calls a "destruction" of the philosophical tradition. We shall see some of the implications of this in future entries, but the initial consequence is that Heidegger refuses…Read


Of all the philosophical jargon which finds its way into everyday lexicon, few words roll off the tongue like existential. Thus, it is common to hear about someone's existential crisis, anguish or despair. The term has an air of mystery about it, like the Loch Ness monster. If an ordinary crisis seems too mundane, why not make it an existential one? That sounds far more chic.

As Stuart Hanscomb on page 15 of this issue, puts it, existentialism is like the 'punk rock' of philosophy. It is weirdly fashionable. People feel comfortable personalising it and claiming it…Read

26 March 2014

Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class

Owen Jones, a British commentator associated with leftwing politics, analyses class in Britain in Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class.

In the book, Chavs argues that people categorised as the working class in Britain are socially and politically excluded. He asserts that they are openly scorned by privileged classes and are seen as an object of ridicule and disapproval. Attributes associated with them include lawlessness, corruption and laziness.

Chavs is based on in-depth research and wide ranging interviews with media personals, politicians and workers and portrays a disturbing state of inequality and…Read

Marx Internet

With the global financial crisis of 2008, a call to return to the work of Karl Marx seems appropriate, as in 1848 he predicted the downfall of the capitalist economical system. If this reality was predicted over 150 years ago, what from the work of Marx is applicable to the power forces dominant today? Theorists Christian Fuchs and Sebastian Sevignani analyze Marx's critique of capitalism relating to today's Information Age, using the example of the structural workings of internet giant, Facebook and the implications it has on human nature.

Although often misunderstood and overlooked, the work of Marx…Read

Is Marx still relevant

The 19th-century thinker identified exploitation and questioned the automatic self-regulation of a capitalist economy. And, says Marx biographer Jonathan Sperber, there's more

The Guardian, Thursday 16 May 2013 12.00 BST

Is Karl Marx still relevant? He lived in the 19th century, an era very different from our own, if also one in which many of the features of today's society were beginning to take shape. A consideration of the relevance of Marx's ideas in the early 21st century might start with separating their outdated elements from those capable of development in the present.


Marx Was Right: Five Surprising Ways Karl Marx Predicted 2014

Sean McElwee is a researcher and writer based in New York. His work has been featured on Policyshop, Salon, The Atlan- tic and The Rolling Stone.

Recently he wrote an article that ap- peared in 30 Jan 2014 issue of The Roll- ing Stone magazine where he pointed to the fact that Marx predicted that capi- talism would be replaced by communism, and accurately predicted several as- pects of contemporary capitalism, from the Great Recession to the iPhone 5S.

McElwee's Rolling Stone article cites five facts of life in 2014 that Marx's analysis of capitalism correctly…Read

How Marx Came to Discover the Alienation of Labour

Joblessness was liberating for Karl Marx in 1844 -- it meant he could go back to school. His classrooms were Paris' gas-lit cafes and wine cellars, and small offices filled with cigar smoke.

There were no lectures, there were discussions --boisterous gatherings that drew curious passers-by who watched men from many nations shout at one another about the relative merits of socialism, communism, nationalism, liberalism and democracy, and whether governments should be taken by force and rebuilt from the ruins, or whether appeals should be made to the ruling class that fundamental social change was coming.


Marx’s General:

The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels, by Tristram Hunt, Macmillan/Metropolitan, 2009. (First published in Britain as The Frock-Coated Communist: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels.)

August 24, 2009 -- Socialist Voice -- Most people on the left know that Friedrich Engels was co-author of the Communist Manifesto and Karl Marx's lifelong collaborator. But few of today's radicals know much more than that about the man who built barricades and fought a guerrilla war in Germany in the 1848-49 revolution, the indefatigable organiser who played a decisive role in building the Marxist current from a handful of exiles…Read

Election Year

New Zealand

My parents, who will likely have to keep working well into old age, did get their vindication when I accumulated enough cultural capital through my more poorlypaid, but honourable pursuits to get a few glowing profiles in the mainstream media. And that’s part of the disease that keeps American capitalism going.

The next New Zealand general election will be held to determine the membership of the 51st New Zealand Parliament. It is predicted to take place sometime in September 2014.

The two main political parties are: National and Labour


The American Dream

rewards few, enslaves Sociology is the study of society of the social millions -Bhaskar Sunkara

I've been working odd jobs and starting businesses all my life. It’s a hustler spirit fitting with my immigrant roots, a key part of my identity. Quintessentially American, even. Self-reliance is something I'm proud of – I've always loved Westerns. For an avowed socialist, it's all a bit problematic.

At dawn, I wake up, put on something sharp and work as the publisher of Jacobin magazine – prominent by the slim standards of the American left …Read


Sociology is the study of society of the social millions frameworks within which we live our lives.

It is the study of social life at every level from two person relationships to the rise and fall of nations and civilisations. More than any other discipline it is the meeting place of the social sciences combining its own ideas and methods with insights from history, anthropology, economics, political science, and psychology in an extended examination of the way society works or fails to work.

Conflict theory emphasizes the role of coercion and power in producing social…Read

Food Chain Documentary

Labor Abuses in US Agriculture

Compelling new documentary, "Food Chains," premieres at 2014 Berlin Film Festival to sold-out screenings, generates serious buzz at starstudded festival…

On an average day, 32 million Americans will go grocery shopping, spending approximately 41 minutes per visit at the store. Yet, many Americans know little about the life cycle of their food from farm to table, including the potential abuses that may be taking place out of the public eye.

A new documentary called Food Chain seeks to explore worker's rights in American agriculture. It highlights the lives of…Read

Social Snapchat

Having recently chosen unemployment as my next career move, I volunteered to join the Peace Run throughout Europe for several months. Free accommodation, food and travel. The only catch? Run at least 10 kilometres every day, do presentations at schools and smile whenever the camera appears. It's exhilarating, exhausting and fulfilling. It also makes you realise something amazing: the boundaries that divide human beings from one another are mostly an illusion.

Here's why. When you meet so many children every day from different villages and cities, passing new borders with a bewildering frequency, you somehow get…Read

31 January 2014

Notes on Modernism

What we mean by "modern" is that each process led to the emergence of certain distinctive features or social characteristics, and it is these features which, taken together, provide us with our definition of "modernity". In this sense, the term "modern" does not mean simply that the phenomenon is  of recent origin. It carries a certain analytic and theoretical value, because it is related to a conceptual model. What are these defining features or characteristics of modern societies?

Book Review

Simon Schama (History/Harvard), author of Patriots and Liberators: Revolution in the Netherlands 1780-1813…Read

Grand Narrative

Grand narrative is a term introduced by Jean-François Lyotard in his classic 1979 work: “The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge,” in which Lyotard summed up a range of views which were being developed at the time, as a critique of the institutional and ideological forms of knowledge. Encyclopedia of Marxism

Narrative knowledge is knowledge in the form of storytelling. In the tribal times, myths and legends formed knowledge of this type; that such-and-such a mountain was just where it was because some mythic animal put it there, and so on.The narrative not…Read

Human-scale Neighborhoods

Neighbourhoods dominated by the car, without a mix of uses and housing types, tend to lack both diversity and a sense of community. They consign those who drive to endless shuttle trips, and those who don’t — the young and old — to dangerous and unpleasant attempts to cross busy streets. They create sprawl and inefficient forms of infrastructure.

In human-scale neighbourhoods, a wide mix of housing types is clustered around one or more well-defined neighbourhood centres which support jobs, commercial activity, and a range of amenities. The neighbourhood is scaled to the pedestrian, offering…Read

How Marshall Berman (1940-2013) reclaimed modernity for Marxists

The Bronx-born writer who died recently saw the danger of leaving decisions about public spaces to the technocrats

There are many people who think they’ve dismissed any criticism of capitalism if they find that the person doing the criticism owns some of its products. You, with your mobile/laptop/trainers/coffee (delete as appropriate) are going to tell me that the system doesn’t work! Argument over, hypocrisy proven. The problem is, many on the left have disarmed themselves against any possible counterattack. If you genuinely do distrust industrial production,…Read

Baudelaire: Pastoral, Counter-Pastoral and What?

Berman begins his chapter on Baudelaire with a couple of important descriptions of where he is going both in the book and in his underlying sociology.

He writes: Our vision of modern life tends to split into material and spiritual planes: some people devote themselves to “modernism,” which they see as a species of pure spirit, evolving in accord with its autonomous artistic and intellectual imperatives; other people work within the orbit of modernization a complex of material structures and processes -political, economic, social -- which, supposedly, once it has got under way, runs on…Read

Marx, Modernism & Modernization

In this world, stability can only mean entropy, a slow death. Progress and growth is our only way of knowing for sure that we are alive. Thus, to cry that our society is falling apart is merely to say that it is alive and well. We live in a state of permanent revolution--from nature to culture to self--and in order to survive, the personalities of human beings must take on the fluid and open form demanded by such an environment. Modern men and women must learn to desire change: not just to be open to it, but to demand…Read


Berman describes Goethe’s Faust as the first and best tragedy of development. In this section, he describes Faust’s growth into a larger self through development - but a development that always has a dark side. “He won’t be able to create anything unless he’s prepared to let everything go, to accept the fact that all that has been created up to now--and, indeed, all that he may create in the future--must be destroyed to pave the way for more creation. This is the dialectic that modern men must embrace in…Read

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