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Social Explanation and Social Structure
What is a social structure?
Social structures are theoretical entities, postulated to do work in a social theory. Examples: the wage-labor system of industrial capitalism; the heteronormative/bionormative nuclear family; the internal organization of an American university. What work do structures do in a social theory?
a) They are invoked in structural explanations;
b) They enable us to identify and critique structural injustice;
c) They provide the context for human agency;
d) They are, in some sense, constituted by actions of and relations between individuals.
pol.185  structure  sociology  marxism  Power_materials  class  inequalities  Methodology 
2 days ago by Jibarosoy
Why Class Matters
Just to reiterate my main point: real utopias become viable when they span these two strategies, taming and eroding capitalism. That’s why it’s different from old-fashioned Bernsteinian evolutionary socialism. The role of the state in such a transformational project is to defend and expand the spaces in which alternatives are built from below, rather than for the state to provide, to be the central actor in the provision of needs.
class  Marxism  inequality  domination  power  exploitation  Marx  Weber  socialism  anti-capitalism  analyticalMarxism  Althusser  Poulantzas  AlbertMichael  markets  cooperative  utopias  interview  dctagged  dc:contributor=WrightErikOlins 
4 days ago by petej
Adorno in America — Crooked Timber
In an afterward to The Authoritarian Personality that was never published, Adorno wrote of Myrdal:

> The gist of Aptheker’s argument is that the Negro problem is [in Myrdal] abstracted from its socio-economic conditions, and as soon as it is treated as being essentially of a psychological nature, its edge is taken away.

The Aptheker in question, of course, is Herbert Aptheker, the Marxist historian of slave revolts. That Adorno would find a sympathetic critic in Aptheker suggests not only how resolute he was in his effort to meld economics and psychology (“the concept that there is economy on the one hand, and individuals upon whom it works on the other, has to be overcome”) but also the connection he saw in the question of anti-Semitism and European fascism, on the one hand, and racism and American authoritarianism on the other. That connection has recently been taken up quite a bit in histories of the Nazis (most notably in the work of James Q. Whitman), but Oberle reveals a whole discourse in the 1940s that was very much concerned with the same problem. A discourse that got shut down during the Cold War, when the attention of the American state shifted from fighting fascism to fighting communism.

But while that discourse was live, it insisted, as Adorno did, not on sequestering the psychological, the way so many contemporary accounts of racism do, but on mixing the material and the psychological.

As Oberle shows, that discourse from the 1940s now reads almost like the lost tractates of an ancient civilization. And yet, as Oberle also shows, it still speaks to us, calling out what we have yet to learn. As Ralph Ellison put it in an unpublished review of An American Dilemma from 1941:

> In our culture the problem of the irrational, that blind spot in our knowledge of society where Marx cries out for Freud and Freud for Marx, but where approaching, both grow wary and shout insults lest they actually meet, has taken the form of the Negro problem.

So it remains today, where discussions that attempt to relate the question of race to the organization of capitalism are dismissed and reduced to the mocking rubric of “economic anxiety.”
psychology  marxism  adorno  authoritarianism 
5 days ago by jfbeatty
Erik Olin Wright
class location of librarians
c. Semi-Autonomous Employees

These are employees that, for the most part, do not supervise others but are likely to have some autonomy in the work situation because they are professionals of have special skills or technical training. Some of these are engineers, teachers, professors, programmers, and some health professionals. These are people in occupations that have a degree of autonomy in terms of decisions related to the job, and while subject to orders, are likely to fill positions that requires their own judgment concerning production and related decisions.

The semi-autonomy is described by Wright as being

"certain degree of control over their immediate conditions of work, over their immediate labour process. In such instances, the labour process has not been completely proletarianized. .... they can still be viewed as occupying residual islands of petty-bourgeois relations of production within the capitalist mode of production itself. (Giddens and Held, p. 127)."

While there are always attempts by employers and managers to limit the autonomy of the semi-autonomous employees, the technical expertise of the latter does give them a degree of bargaining power. In most cases, this expertise is required, and this has allowed these workers to maintain considerable flexibility in the workplace, and considerable control over the actual work process.
marxism  class  freire_project  expertise 
11 days ago by jfbeatty
MMT 2 – the tricks of circulation | Michael Roberts Blog
Money only has value ... if there is value in production to back it.  Government spending cannot create that value – indeed some government spending can destroy value (armaments etc).  Productive value is what gives money credibility. A productive private sector generates the domestic product and income that gives government liabilities credibility in the first place.  When that credibility is not there, then trust in the state’s currency can disappear fast, as we see in Venezuela or Zimbabwe, and even Turkey right now
marxism  michael_roberts  mmt  chartalism  modern_monetary_theory  fiat_currency  deficit_spending  government_spending  economics 
18 days ago by perich
Styles of Democracy | the A-Line
"Increasingly, since the Supreme Court some thirty-plus years ago ruled to allow unlimited funding by private and corporate interests, the United States has steadily moved toward political degeneration and corrupting abuse of democracy’s frameworks. This issue stands at the forefront of any discussion regarding democracy’s present and future reality. I see no institutional change of any sort since Trump’s hijacked election outcome. Mid-term congressional voting will doubtless produce a déjà vu, entrenching a new era of external manipulation that may assert an ongoing debasement of American institutional compromise and failure. The philosophical query, what governmental styles are possible, preferable, to be pursued, in the aftermath of coordinated de facto treason acknowledges the specter of a blithe dismantling of this nation’s tradition of democratic turmoil generated solely from within American political culture. A pernicious acceptance of outside political leverage as a new norm promises to dismantle both the legitimacy of democratic autonomy and authority as well as the tenuous usefulness of checks and balances among inter-governmental political responsibilities…institutional scrutiny that, alone, allows the flawed creativity and untrammeled rivalry of capitalistic interests to thrive despite human frailty and institutional stupidity.

The era of professional political energy may have come to a close, replaced by mafioso crony collusion. However that plays out, nothing short of a profound retrenchment of democratic idealism exercised with a maximum of commitment and canny political judgment is likely to reverse, or undo, the demise underway. I see a theoretical opening for some degree of hope. Trump has so violated standards of individual maturity, professional good sense, public decency and day-to-day truthfulness that broad public revulsion may curtail his deceitful assault on the general well being.

However that plays out, I see the present moment as inaugurating a significant transformation of American political reality. First, Marx was correct to view large deformations of institutional authority and state power to appear on occasion, first, as tragedy and, later, as farce. The events of 9/11 in Manhattan that fulfilled the “Project for the New American Century” – implicitly calling for a catastrophic event on the order of Pearl Harbor – changed the equation of American influence and global intervention as a calculus of irredeemably tragic decimation. The intervention of Russia in Trump’s electoral college victory in 2016, the successful confluence of treason and treachery, has produced enlarging institutional and cultural deformations at once farcical and dauntingly horrific. Quite literally, the entire narrative of American idealism and benevolence has been challenged, reversed and put into ongoing self-disabling dysfunction. Jeffersonian definitions of human dignity and freedom, always placebos to avoid confronting American racist cruelty, are now being eviscerated by the enlarging truth of Marx’s awareness of capital inequities (a strenuous falling rate of profit driven by excess accumulation). A long feared mega-depression, eclipsing the one that aided Hitler’s rise ninety years ago, appears to be crawling inexorably toward global reality. If, somehow, such an apocalyptic event spanning Europe, Asia and the United States is further postponed, the reprieve will not prove the superior wisdom of capitalist managers or the inherent fairness or flexibility of capitalist institutions. Its delay may wait until further depreciation of the global labor force gains momentum from increased robotic displacements.

Second, the epochal transformation of the digital era’s instantaneous social media reinforcement of tribal divisions has put the traditional pace of democratic logic not merely “at risk” but, in fact, under siege. This early stage of political dishevelment, within a span of decades, will be exacerbated by quantum computing speed and the spread of artificial intelligence. One needs only read several of the recently crafted protocols that the Future of Life Institute (influenced by Elon Musk, David Chalmers, Martin Rees, Lawrence Krauss, Nick Bostrom and Max Tegmark) have put forward to grasp a full measure of institutional transformations and upheavals gathering steady momentum: a) that AI research and implementation must hold to the goal of beneficial, precisely opposed to unfocused and potentially malicious, intelligence; b) the need to update legal systems to keep pace with AI; c) assurance that AI builders and stakeholders will enforce moral responsibility in developing their technological innovations; d) economic prosperity that accrues from AI must be shared to the benefit of humanity as a whole; e) long term alterations to life on earth must be projected and managed with profound care and resolute attention.

My point here is to suggest that our contemporary crisis in democratic well being is fundamentally a crisis of and within capitalism itself, very much resembling Terry Eagleton’s cautionary warning, in Why Marx Was Right, that “the essential irrationality of the drive for capital accumulation…subordinates everything to the requirements of [its] self-expansion,” which are hostile to earth’s ecological dynamics (237). To that hostility, I’ll add the ineradicable priority of human health, cultural and political sanity, as well as once imagined rights of individual liberty, dignity and access to the contested possibility of justice."
jimmerod  capitalism  economics  ecology  sustainability  marxism  terryeagleton  capitalaccumulation  democracy  justice  society  socialjustice  us  humanism  soicalmedia  politics  ai  elonmusk  davidchalmers  martinrees  lawrencekrauss  nickbostrom  maxtegmark 
22 days ago by robertogreco

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