Monday, September 17, 2018

Richard Wright and the Bandung Conference (1955)

Once again, for reasons of length and the number of images, I have not cross-posted my piece on Richard Wright and the Bandung Conference (1955), which is found at Religious Left Law


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Steve Biko (d. 12 September 1977)

By way of a small tribute to Steve Biko (18 December 1946 – 12 September 1977), here is a brief descriptive introduction to and characterization of Biko as a thoughtful and politically aware young medical student at Wentworth (the Natal University nonwhite medical school), where he was elected to the Students’ Representative Council and soon participated in NUSAS (the multiracial National Union of South African Students): 

“Undogmatic but highly disciplined in his thinking, possessed with a rare insight into human and political situations, Biko increasingly began to question the value of what he saw as the artificial integration of student politics. As in South African politics generally, Africans were hanging back, resentful but reticent, hiding behind white spokesmen who had shouldered the job of defining black grievances and goals. For liberal whites, verbal protest and symbolic racial mixing were seen as the outer limit of action. Apartheid was defined as the enemy, and nonracialism prescribed as the antidote. Repeated over and over in words and symbols, this liberal approach, and in fact the entire liberal analysis, had to Biko’s way of thinking become not an inspiration to constructive action but a sterile dogma disguising an unconscious attachment to the status quo.”— Gail M. Gerhart, Black Power in South Africa: The Evolution of an Ideology (University of California Press, 1978): 260. Gerhart had the privilege of interviewing Biko in 1972.   

Related Bibliography: South African Liberation Struggles: Toward (revolutionary?) Democratic Self-Determination.

Beyond Factory Farming

I should like to call your attention to an article by Sherry F. Colb today at Verdict: “Factory Farming:” An Evolving Phrase. While I recommend the entire piece, I’ve highlighted one passage below so as to make a brief comment.

For (philosophical and ethical) reasons found within the Buddhist tradition,* I wholeheartedly agree with this, although of course one need not be a Buddhist to concur with the premises and conclusion:

“First, if a sentient living being feels good and healthy and happy, I cannot justify depriving her of her life if I have other options. Factory farming originally woke me and others up to the fact that the animals whom we were using for food and clothing have feelings and suffer and want to live out their lives [while they likely lack a conception of what it means to ‘live out their lives,’ they clearly express a will or desire to live, they ‘cling’ to life, as it were]. Having realized and fully absorbed this, I no longer wanted to play any role in sending animals to the slaughterhouse, however lovely their pre-slaughter abode.”

Those of us who more or less share this view cannot countenance “humane slaughter” of animals (which, for us, albeit with a few possible exceptions, is a contradiction). It is true that farm animals can be treated humanely, “pre-slaughter,” and thus the forswearing of factory farming, to the extent this takes place, represents a significant measure of improvement in the quality of the lives of animals before they make it to “our” plates. I welcome that, even if, from my spiritual and ethical perspective, it falls short of what we should be—and sometimes are—capable of in our ethical relations with non-human animals. 

* Specifically, the Eightfold Path, which is divided into three interrelated and mutually supporting parts: (i) insight or wisdom (prajñā), (ii) moral virtue (śīla), and (iii) meditation (samādhi). Moral virtue consists, broadly speaking, of “right speech,” “right action” and “right livelihood.” And, among other things, and given other Buddhist teachings and doctrines, “right action” entails observing the “five precepts” (pañcaśīla), the first of which is to abstain from harming breathing beings (Pali: ātipātā veramaī sikkhāpada samādiyāmi). This is keeping with a pan-Indic virtue, ahi or (‘non-injury’ or ‘non-harming,’ often also translated as nonviolence) exemplified in particular within the traditions of Hinduism and especially Jainism and Buddhism. There is a helpful discussion of this in Peter Harvey’s An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics (Cambridge University Press, 2000). 

Related Bibliographies:

Sunday, September 09, 2018

The Attica Uprising

My post on the Attica Uprising that began on this date in 1971 is at Religious Left Law, as I did not cross-post it here owing to, among other things, its length and the number of images. 

Saturday, September 08, 2018

The Delano Grape Strike

“The Delano [Kern County] grape strike was a labor strike by the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee and the United Farm Workers against grape growers in California. The strike began on September 8, 1965 [this is when Filipino pickers first walked out of the fields; Bardacke marks September 20th  as the official beginning of the coordinated strike action], and lasted more than five years. Due largely to a consumer boycott of non-union grapes, the strike ended with a significant victory for the United Farm Workers as well as its first contract with the growers.

The strike began when the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee, mostly Filipino farm workers in Delano, California, led by Philip Vera Cruz, Larry Itliong, Benjamin Gines and Pete Velasco, walked off the farms of area table-grape growers, demanding wages equal to the federal minimum wage. One week after the strike began, the predominantly Mexican-American National Farmworkers Association, led by Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and Richard Chavez, joined the strike, and eventually the two groups merged, forming the United Farm Workers of America in August 1966. The strike rapidly spread to more than 2,000 workers.

Through its grassroots efforts—using consumer boycotts, marches, community organizing and nonviolent resistance—the movement gained national attention for the plight of some of the nation’s lowest-paid workers. By July 1970, the UFW had succeeded in reaching a collective bargaining agreement with the table-grape growers, affecting in excess of 10,000 farm workers.”—This is an excerpt (sans embedded hyperlinks) from the beginning of the Wikipedia entry on the strike, which is quite reliable and the endnotes contain excellent links to some of the best material available online about this strike and period of farmworker history in California which is crucial to the later formation of the United Farm Workers (of America—the UFW).

The foremost historical and analytical account of the strike and its aftermath is found in Frank Bardacke’s Trampling Out the Vintage: César Chávez and the Two Souls of the United Farm Workers (Verso, 2011).

See too the bibliography for “César Chávez & the United Farm Workers… and the Struggleof Farm Workers in the U.S.”

Friday, September 07, 2018

Alienation: Marxist and Otherwise

First, permit me to draw your attention to a new entry (as opposed to an updated entry) in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) on “Alienation.” The following comments do not presume you have read the entry and a few of the ideas merely introduced below are treated in more depth by the entry’s author, David Leopold. From what I take to be a basic Marxist vantage point, alienation is conversely, intimately, and normatively connected to the possibility of the transcendence of same, or what is sometimes termed human flourishing (eudaimonia in classical Greek philosophy), or simply the notion of human fulfillment, the triune nature of which entails, minimally and broadly speaking, freedom (as self-determination), human community, and self-realization.
The concept of alienation or estrangement is found to play a prominent part in several religious and philosophical worldviews (in some of these, the philosophy and religion, if you will, are rather entangled), even if it does not go by that name. The question of alienation, I suspect, should be central to any philosophical anthropology. One might arguably claim, for example, that it is fundamental in an axiomatic sense to the worldviews of Daoism in the East and Existentialism in the West. In the Judeo-Christian tradition it appears to color our interpretation of “the Fall,” however we may understand the act of original disobedience, that is, in either positive or negative terms: in other words, as a (in Christianity, ‘original’) sin, or as symbolic of future redemption. Regarding the latter possibility, Daniel Burston writes that Erich Fromm viewed Adam and Eve’s “freedom to disobey” as “emblematic of the step toward growth and emancipation:”
“Fromm emphasized that alienation, the birth of self-consciousness [which arises with the generative act of disobedience in the Garden of Eden (Paradise)], and the search for unity or union with nature, oneself, and one’s fellows are all the result of the loss of an instinctive, prereflective oneness with the cosmos.”
As Burston explains, this interpretation, more or less, “resonates with sentiment expressed by Schiller, Boehme, Milton, and, indeed, Saint Ambrose, whose doctrine of the felix culpa suggested that the Fall affords humanity the hope of even greater felicity than existed before the Fall.” For Fromm, like the existentialists “some measure of alienation is rooted in human existence and prerequisite to our full personal development.”
Of course the notion of alienation (there are three terms in German for this which range from the descriptive to the evaluative) is one of the fundamental concepts in Marx’s work, expressly in the early writings and more implicitly or assumed in his later, systematic critique of capitalism. I want here merely to highlight two books in which I’ve found the discussion of Marx’s conception of alienation (used in several different senses) quite helpful, indeed, indispensable: Jon Elster’s Making Sense of Marx (1985) and R.G. Peffer’s Marxism, Morality, and Social Justice (1990). For now, let me express wholehearted agreement with the following from Peffer:
“The moral content of the various forms of alienation Marx describes in the Manuscripts [i.e., the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844], the moral grounds upon which he condemns these forms of alienation [e.g., the historical and general alienation suffered by the majority of human beings from the ‘objects and products of material and intellectual production,’ as well as alienation from ‘the process of production, other persons, nature, and [our] own selves, i.e., “human life,” or [our] own “species-being”], can, I think, be reduced to three primary moral principles to which he implicitly subscribes in the Manuscripts and throughout the rest of his writings. These principles are freedom (as self-determination), human community, and self-realization.”
References & Further Reading (this is a sample of works I’ve found indispensable to understanding basic concepts and arguments central to the Marxist tradition and thus helpful for illuminating the normative and evaluative principles of freedom, community, and self-realization insofar as they are utilized in the critique of capitalism and the corresponding aspiration for socialism):
  • Amin, Samir. Accumulation on a World Scale: A Critique of the Theory of Underdevelopment, Vols. 1 and 2 (Monthly Review Press, 1974).
  • Amin, Samir. Eurocentrism (Monthly Review Press, 2nd ed., 2009).
  • Anderson, Kevin B. Marx at the Margins: On Nationalism, Ethnicity, and Non-Western Societies (expanded ed., University of Chicago Press, 2016).
  • Bilgrami, Akeel. Secularism, Identity, and Enchantment (Harvard University Press, 2014).
  • Burston, Daniel. The Legacy of Erich Fromm (Harvard University Press, 1991).
  • Chibber, Vivek. Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital (Verso, 2013).
  • Cohen, G.A. Self-Ownership, Freedom and Equality (Cambridge University Press, 1995).
  • Elster, Jon. Making Sense of Marx (Cambridge University Press, 1985).
  • Elster, Jon. “Self-realisation in work and politics: the Marxist conception of the good life,” in Jon Elster and Karl Ove Moene, eds. Alternatives to Capitalism (Cambridge University Press, 1989).
  • Fromm, Erich, ed. Socialist Humanism: An International Symposium (Doubleday & Co., 1965).
  • Harrington, Michael. Socialism: Past and Future (Arcade Publishing, 1989).
  • Haybron, Daniel M. The Pursuit of Unhappiness: The Elusive Psychology of Well-Being (Oxford University Press, 2008).
  • Leopold, David. The Young Karl Marx: German Philosophy, Modern Politics, and Human Flourishing (Cambridge University Press, 2007).
  • Luntley, Michael. The Meaning of Socialism (Open Court, 1990).
  • Marx, Karl (tr. and ed., Lloyd Easton and Kurt H. Guddat) Writings of the Young Marx on Philosophy and Society (Hackett Publishing Co., 1997).
  • Peffer, R.G. Marxism, Morality, and Social Justice (Princeton University Press, 1990).
  • Rustin, Michael. The Good Society and the Inner World: Psychoanalysis, Politics and Culture (Verso, 1991).
  • Schweickart, David. Against Capitalism (Westview Press, 1996).
  • Shaikh, Anwar. Capitalism: Competition, Conflict, Crises (Oxford University Press, 2016).
  • Wright, Erik Olin. Envisioning Real Utopias (Verso, 2010).
(Some) Relevant Bibliographies:
Image: Elizabeth Catlett, “Pensive”

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Varna, Caste, and the Dalits in India

[D]espite its longevity, caste, and caste oppression, is not a popular theme in India.

In Telangana, which had its own feudal ruler, ‘every untouchable family in every village had to give up their first male child as soon as he learned to talk and walk. They would bring him to the dora [landlord] to work in his household as a slave until death.’ Other castes suffered too. This wasn’t, as Gidla writes, ‘a traditional system,’ but one instituted in the late 19th century to allow the large-scale cultivation of tobacco and cotton. The peasants, aided by the Communist Party, rose up and fought this servitude. By now the brahmins were in power in Delhi. No untouchable or low-caste Hindu harboured many illusions. Some even feared that after the British withdrawal things would get worse for them. They did. The Indian army invaded the city of Hyderabad in Telangana, deposing its rulers, but then turned its guns on the peasants, detaining, torturing and raping thousands and evicting them from the land. The more progressive elements in the Congress Party may have believed that with industrialisation and modernisation the problem of caste would solve itself. It never did. Capitalism itself may be caste, colour and gender-blind but the dominant classes utilise these divisions to preserve their own rule.

In 2012 the Indian and Western media extensively covered the gang rape and murder of a single woman in Delhi, largely because students and feminist groups had protested on the streets and made it an issue; that same year 1574 Dalit women were raped and 651 Dalits murdered. Add to this the regular mob punishment of Dalit and low-caste women: they are forcibly stripped then paraded through villages to humiliate them further. Politically a democracy, constitutionally secular, India has, since 1947, been a caste Hindu dictatorship. – Tariq Ali (from his review cited below)

I want to recommend, without reservation, Tariq Ali’s review of Sujatha Gilda’s book, Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017), “The Unseeables, in the latest issue of the London Review of Books, Vol. 40, No. 16 (30 August 2018).

See too Pankaj Mishra’s review, “God’s Oppressed Children,” for The New York Review of Books, December 21, 2017.

[A self-imposed time constraint precludes the use of subscript diacritic dots in what follows, hence, for example, the ‘s’ in ksatriya should be pronounced more like ‘sh.’] 


While I unqualifiedly recommend Ali’s review, I could not resist making one comment, not about what Ali himself writes, but on a quote from Arundhati Roy’s introduction to B.R. Ambedkar’s 1930s classic, The Annihilation of Caste:

“What we call the caste system today is known in Hinduism’s founding texts as varnashrama dharma or chaturvarna, the system of four varnas. The approximately four thousand endogamous castes and sub-castes (jatis) in Hindu society, each with its own specified hereditary occupation, are divided into four varnas – Brahmins (priests), Kshatriyas (soldiers), Vaishyas (traders) and Shudras (servants). Outside of these varnas are the avarna castes, the Ati-Shudras, subhumans, arranged in hierarchies of their own – the Untouchables, the Unseeables, the Unapproachables – whose presence, whose touch, whose very shadow is considered to be polluting by privileged-caste Hindus.”

In this passage Roy elides, as many others (including those who should know better) have done before her, the historical and sociological differences between the varna model1 and the caste and jāti (‘birth-group’) system. Varna (‘color’); is the Vedic fourfold—vertically and horizontally hierarchical—normative division of labor and patrilineal social system: brāhmanas (priests), ksatriyas (soldiers, administrators, rulers), vaiśyas (farmers, merchants, artisans, etc.), and śudras (servants, landless laborers, etc.). The first three groups are called “twice-born” (dvija) meaning they participate in a religious rite of passage and initiation ceremony that permits them to fully participate in Vedic study and ritual, while the śudras were deemed impure and excluded from Vedic religious practices. The varna system is not, speaking strictly and historically, the caste or jāti system (the word ‘caste’ is from the Portuguese word casta, meaning ‘breed,’ ‘race,’ or ‘kind,’ while the latter term refers, descriptively, to thousands of ‘birth-groups’ throughout India), although it is fair to say that it later serves to provide the religious (Rg Veda 10.90) and conceptual template, if not social and cultural sanction or legitimation, for that system (as in the Dharmaśāstra-s), thus it acts as a necessary yet not sufficient condition for its historical realization (and the two terms are later in fact closely allied, sometimes even interchangeable). It’s possible if not likely that the varna system was originally “little more than a social division of labor” much as one finds in both in older and contemporary civilizations. The following from Gerald Larson is apropos:

“To be sure, the Dharmaśāstra-s, or law-books of [the] Indic period [c. 300-1200], especially perhaps the Mānava-dharma-śāstra or ‘Law-Book of Manu,’ provide clear evidence that a full-blown caste system was in operation, but it is not as clear that social life always mirrored the system as articulated in the official texts. There is some reason to believe that over the centuries there has been more flexibility and mobility among caste groupings in various parts of India than is commonly thought. The more rigid, modern system of caste probably develops during the long centuries (c. 1200-1750) of Muslim dominance in India when Hindu tradition became much more defensive and in-grown for the sake of communal survival.”2 

As Larson also explains, it is with this later, more rigid and horrific caste system that “[t]o some extent one can correlate the varna-system with the jāti-system, so that, for example, one might refer to various jāti-s as ‘sub-castes’ of ksatriya-s or vaiśya-s, and so forth.” It has been plausibly argued that the conceptualization and rationalization of this system are said to locate “homo hierarchicus” within a macrocosmic hierarchy extending “from Brahmā to the tufts of grass” (brahmādistambaparyanta). 


1. In Hinduism, the varna model is importantly and suggestively correlated with two other fourfold categorical classifications. The first is purusārtha-s: the four principal aims or ends of man, namely, wealth (artha), desire (kāma), ethics (dharma), and liberation (moksa). These are best seen as “ideal-typical” categories reflecting corresponding values: economic, psychological, moral, and spiritual. Thus understood, there is an implicit hierarchy here, with dharma and moksa higher than artha and kāma, and moksa the highest of the four. Descriptively and psychologically speaking, these may also represent various forms of motivation, keeping in mind the ubiquity of mixed motivations among human beings. They also represent the possibility that the first three aims may be harnessed toward the fourth end, hence wealth, desire and ethics can be subsumed within, and in service of, moksa. John Grimes accordingly speaks of artha and kāma as instrumental values, dharma as an integrating or regulative value, and moksa as an intrinsic and end value. The second fourfold model is aśrama-s: stages in life, of which there are four: brahmacarya, young person under tutelage of a religious teacher (guru), including the practice of strict sexual continence; grhastya, life as a householder; vānaprastha, “forest-dweller,” beginning of withdrawal from familial and social obligations to spend more time on spiritual practice; and samnyāsa, “renunciation,” all attachments to family and home now abandoned, one is usually initiated into the customs and specific religious practices of a sect. Samnyāsīs, while free of societal rules, norms and conventions, adhere to rules fashioned for them alone (yatidharma). These stages of life are considered normative for brāhmanas or brahmins. Again, as religiously inspired normative models and ideal-typical categories, it should not be assumed that Hindus conform to these models in their daily lives, even if they might be quick to verbally acknowledge their religious and cultural significance.
2. Gerald James Larson, India’s Agony over Religion (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1995): 91.

(Some) Relevant Bibliographies (and one ‘study guide’!):
Hinduism Study Guide (this was put together for my students when I taught a course on ‘comparative world religions’)

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Genocide: a select bibliography

My latest (ninety-first) bibliography is on genocide (at my Academia page).

Friday, August 24, 2018

Liberal Democratic Socialism

Socialism in not a moral theory which offers a particular vision of the good life, instead it is a theory about how the good life is possible. It is, in short, a theory about the conditions necessary for creating a society in which our lives are shaped by moral valueswe defer to the authority of the goodrather than a society in which our moral traditions have been erased by forces inimical to the moral life. And part of this theory about the conditions necessary for the good life proved the leading critical aspect of socialism. That part is the claim that it is capitalism which has been largely responsible for the destruction of the conditions necessary for the good life. — Michael Luntley

There exists, within both what is commonly called the classical and later “reconstructed” Liberal tradition (which, as a political philosophy, is related to but not identical with the ‘liberalism’ of contemporary politics used to describe the ideology of the Democratic Party in the U.S.), a preference for socialism beginning with John Stuart Mill. Consider, for example, the reasons Mill the younger viewed “the increasing impact of [capitalist] economic interests on public life and popular morality as a serious threat to liberty” in his normative critique of capitalism. Democratic principles of self-government, in the end, are not consistent with nor do they cohere well with capitalism. Mill “believed that a consumerist ethic and pervasive class interests were responsible for the moral and political weaknesses of capitalist society” [the converse of Bernard Mandeville’s defense of capitalism]. In the concise and exquisite summary provided by Nadia Urbinati, “Mill was a Marxist in reverse [this part is not wholly accurate, but we’ll leave that aside]. He interpreted socialism as an extension of self-government in the social realm to break the chain of fear and poverty that prevented individuals belonging to ‘the subordinate classes’ from enjoying liberty as both security and autonomy.” See Urbinati’s treatment of this topic in her book, Mill on Democracy: From the Athenian Polis to Representative Government (University of Chicago Press, 2002).

After Mill, and across the pond, we have the quintessential pragmatist American philosopher, John Dewey, whose democratic sensibilities were impeccable. Dewey’s “reconstructed Liberalism” invokes democratic values, principles, and practices by way of overcoming the constraints and constrictions of “capitalist democracy” (be it the liberal, corporatist or social democratic welfare state) in an argument for socialism. Capitalist democracy, over time, becomes more capitalist than democratic in both structure and ethos, as the imperatives and power of capital (hence capitalists) begin to intrude into every nook and cranny of personal and public life.* Only a consistent and coherent democratic socialism can resurrect the core values of Liberalism, as it gives meaning and expression to a democratic way of life which is essential to enhancing our individual and collective welfare and well-being. It may also prove conductive to personal fulfillment and widespread opportunities for self-realization if not eudaimonia.

Finally, we arrive at John Rawls, whose conception of “justice as fairness” translates, in his later work, into a preference for liberal democratic socialism, trumping both welfare state capitalism and what he terms (after the British economist James Meade) “property-owning” democracy as evidenced in his book, Justice as Fairness: Restatement (Harvard University Press, 2001). For a reconstruction of the basic argument, see William A. Edmundson’s John Rawls: Reticent Socialist (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

In pointing out this socialist stream within the Liberal tradition, we need not deny the progressive features of capitalism, historically speaking, features which Marx famously appreciated in his critique. What it does say is that should we care to expand the sphere of human freedom in a way that does justice to our potential for and capacities of individuation, self-realization, and general emancipation, as well as enhance our attempts to provide for the general welfare and well-being of everyone (what used to be termed the ‘common good’), perhaps even considerably increase the likelihood of achieving individual self-fulfillment and eudaimonia (in the deepest sense), then we run up against the intolerable, unjustifiable, and inequitable conditions and constraints of capitalism. By way of overcoming these conditions and constraints, we discover the myriad reasons that political philosophers and theorists, activists, utopians, communitarians of yesteryear, anarchists, and untold others have proffered on behalf of a viable alternative, namely (liberal) democratic socialism, a socialism that extends not only the methods and processes of democracy, but also its ethos, principles, and values throughout social realm (thus well beyond the realm of conventional liberal politics).

 * With regard to contemporary critiques, there is a large body of works one might cite, but I’ve chosen just a few notable examples below that have strongly influenced my understanding of the inherent weaknesses, limits, and constraints (the latter can be both constricting and enabling) of capitalism when viewed from the vantage points provided by social justice and the paramount principles of freedom, equality, and fraternity (the last in a non-gendered sense: although the term ‘solidarity’ is sometimes used in its place, it lacks, I think, the affective dimension and implications of fraternity). Hence the idiosyncratic character of this list. The authors do not, in toto, make for a strictly consistent critique, as they may disagree on this or that matter about something in Marx’s oeuvre, say, interpretive or methodological issues, normative priorities, what have you. In short, their accounting of what is living and what is dead—or what represents a proper separation of the wheat from the chaff—in the Marxist corpus is not a matter of consensus:

  • Anderson, Kevin B. Marx at the Margins: On Nationalism, Ethnicity, and Non-Western Societies (University of Chicago Press, 2016).
  • Braverman, Harry. Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century (Monthly Review Press, 1994 [1974]).
  • Chibber, Vivek. Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital (Verso, 2013).
  • Chimni, B.S. International Law and World Order: A Critique of Contemporary Approaches (Cambridge University Press, 2nd ed., 2017).
  • Cohen, G.A. History, Labour, and Freedom: Themes from Marx (Oxford University Press, 1988).
  • Cohen, G.A. Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality (Cambridge University Press, 1995).
  • Cohen, G.A. Karl Marx’s Theory of History: A Defense (Princeton University Press, 2000, expanded ed. [1978]).
  • Davis, Angela Y. Women, Race, and Class (Random House, 1981).
  • Elster, Jon. “Self-realization in work and politics: the Marxist conception of the good life,” in Jon Elster and Karl Ove Moene, eds. Alternatives to Capitalism (Cambridge University Press, 1989).
  • Harrington, Michael. Socialism: Past and Future (Arcade/Little, Brown & Co., 1989).
  • Harvey, David. Limits to Capital (Verso, 2006 ed. [1st ed., 1982]).
  • Luntley, Michael. The Meaning of Socialism (Open Court, 1990).
  • Offe, Claus. Contradictions of the Welfare State (MIT Press, 1984).
  • Offe, Claus. Disorganized Capitalism: Contemporary Transformations of Work and Politics (MIT Press, 1985).
  • Peffer, R.G. Marxism, Morality and Social Justice (Princeton University Press, 1990).
  • Przeworski, Adam. Capitalism and Social Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 1985).
  • Przeworski, Adam and John Sprague. Paper Stones: A History of Electoral Socialism (University of Chicago Press, 1986).
  • Robinson, Cedric J. Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition (Zed Books, 1983).
  • Schweickart, David. Against Capitalism (Westview Press, 1996).
  • Shaikh, Anwar. Capitalism: Competition, Conflict, Crises (Oxford University Press, 2016).
  • Wright, Erik Olin. Envisioning Real Utopias (Verso, 2010).
  • Žižek, Slavoj. The Sublime Object of Ideology (Verso, 2008 ed. [1989]).

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Haitian Revolution (August 21, 1791 – January 1, 1804): Jacob Lawrence, and the Profound Ethical Purposes of Art

Because the art photos display better with the white backdrop, I have posted this today only at Religious Left Law

Friday, August 17, 2018

Bombing French Indochina during the U.S. War in Vietnam: a précis

Bombing French Indochina during the U.S. War in Vietnam: a précis, is available here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

U.S. “Space Force” Proposal and The Weaponization of Outer Space

Mike Dorf at his blog today:

“Last week, Vice President Pence announced the creation of a ‘Space Command,’ a first step towards what President Trump hopes to obtain from Congress: a ‘Space Force’ as a full-fledged new branch of the military to take its place alongside the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. Despite the appeal of a Space Force to pre-adolescent boys whose mommies and/or daddies tuck them into Star Wars-themed blankets (and to a president whose emotional age matches the youngest of these boys), a Space Force is a terrible idea.”

I agree. Mike’s post, however, is not about international law and the weaponization of space (distinguishable to some extent from the ‘militarization’ of space, which has already taken place) but rather asks the question, “Would a Space Force be constitutional?” I’ll leave the possible answers to that question to Mike and his colleagues who are experts on constitutional law. Here I simply want to introduce some material relevant to the international law questions:

“The fact that a large number of States have been calling for the adoption of a treaty on the prevention of an arms race in space for decades now, and more recently with renewed vigour, demonstrates the international community’s belief that the existing legal regime is inadequate for halting the encroaching militarization of space. This should serve as a reason to re-examine what existing space law actually has to say on this issue. [….]

The peculiar circumstances which gave birth to the entire branch of international space law imply that the international community saw a chance for a new beginning in the ascendance of mankind to the stars. It was this perception that brought about the prohibition of claims of sovereignty on celestial objects, or the obligation to help astronauts regardless of their national origin. The same is true when it comes to mandating the ‘peaceful uses of outer space.’ Militarization should be seen as antithetical to the inspired goals and ideals set by space law treaties.

While many scholars would conclude that ‘the final frontier’ is increasingly militarized, the law clearly places a number of limits on the military activities of States in outer space. The ‘pacifist’ approach to the law is therefore more than just idealism. But simply interpreting the law is not enough. International law provides a framework for any scientific, commercial or even military activities in space. As such, it can restrict specific activities, but it may not direct them. The latter remains primarily the domain of policy. If the exploration of space is truly to provide humanity with a chance to start over, it needs to be guided by the principles of true equality, solidarity and cooperation between all States — and they exclude all forms of militarism.”—Pavle Kilibarda

(Pavle Kilibarda holds a LL.M. from the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. He previously worked at the ICRC’s legal training sector, the UNHCR office in Belgrade and the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, engaging principally with the legal position of refugees and asylum-seekers in Serbia.)

Please see the material at the Union of Concerned Scientists website.
See too the introductory analysis by Kilibarda (above) on the IRC’s blog on Humanitarian Law & Policy (in chronological order):