"Capitalist democracy is a contradiction in terms, for it encapsulates two opposed systems. On the one hand there is capitalism, a system of economic organization that demands the existence of a relatively small class of people who own and control the main means of industrial, commercial, and financial activity, as well as a major part of the means of communication; these people thereby exercise a totally disproportionate amount of influence on politics and society both in their own countries and in lands far beyond their own borders. On the other hand there is democracy, which is based on the denial of such preponderance, and which requires a rough equality of condition that capitalism repudiates by its very nature. Domination and exploitation … are at the very core of capitalist democracy, and are inextricably linked to it."
Can an egalitarian be rich without being guilty of hypocrisy? How should we think about wealth and inequality? G.A.Cohen, author of a book with the provocative title If You’re An Egalitarian, How Come Your’e So Rich? addresses these questions in this episode of Philosophy Bites.
"Class for Marxism, rather like virtue for Aristotle, is not a matter of how you are feeling but of what you are doing. It is a question of where you stand within a particular mode of production—whether as slave, self-employed peasant, agricultural tenant, owner of capital, financier, seller of one’s labour power, petty proprietor and so on. Marxism has not been put out of business because Etonians have started to drop their aitches, princes of the royal household puke in the gutter outside nightclubs, or some more antique forms of class distinction have been blurred by the universal solvent known as money. The fact that the European aristocracy are honoured to hobnob with Mick Jagger has signally failed to usher in the classless society."
"Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language."
— Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852)
"Britain’s Windsors are like an interface between two worlds , the mundane one and some vaster national-spiritual sphere associated with mass adulation, the past, the State and familial morality, as well as comforting day dreams. […] Personality is a fundament of the modern Royal ideology: the institution is almost eclipsed from popular view by the (imagined) personal nature of the Monarch, her dependents and her ancestors."
"Like anyone else, the British look into a mirror to try and get a sense of themselves. In so doing they are luckier but ultimately less fortunate than other peoples: a gilded image is reflected back, made up of sonorous past achievements, enviable stability, and the painted folklore of their Parliament and Monarch. Though aware that this enchanted glass reflects only a decreasingly useful lie they have found it naturally difficult to give up"
"As long as I breathe I hope. As long as I breathe I shall fight for the future, that radiant future, in which man, strong and beautiful, will become master of the drifting stream of his history and will direct it towards the boundless horizons of beauty, joy and happiness!"
"Seventy years after his death we are grateful to Gramsci not only for mental stimulation, but for teaching us that the effort to transform the world is not only compatible with original, subtle, open-eyed historical thinking, but impossible without it."
— Eric Hobsbawm, How To Change The World: Tales Of Marx and Marxism. (via iwanttheairwaves)
The End of Capitalism? - David Harvey at the Penn Humanities Forum
A highly engaging lecture from the brilliant David Harvey, in which he considers the future of capitalism four years after the 2008 crash. I really love David Harvey, and I think he’s one of the best leftist writers working today (I’ll even forgive the fact he went to Cambridge).
Also, this makes a neat change from my ranting about British politics.