Sunday, July 14, 2019

Addendum to the Anarchism Vlogs: Part 2
(The second addendum to post on Anarchism.  For the first addendum, see HERE.)

I saw this recently, and I thought I'd through it in (along with my commentary) as a second addendum.

It's Time to Leave This Planet | Eric Weinstein

The argument Eric Weinstein advances in the video is that ever since the creation of the hydrogen bomb, Earth's days have been numbered.  (n.b. the hydrogen bomb is much more powerful than the atom bomb dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.  It would take only a few hydrogen bombs to make the earth uninhabitable.)  We've managed to make it 60 years without someone launching the nuclear weapons, but 60 years is actually not a long time.  Given another 100 years, or 500 years, or 1000 years, eventually someone will screw up and launch the nukes.  Humanity is not capable of having godlike power in its hands without someone screwing it up sooner or later.
Ergo his conclusion, we need to start looking for another planet on which to live if humans are to survive another millennium.

The really scary thing is, he's probably right.

But then, as I pointed out in my vlogs on anarchism, nuclear weapons are only possible in a world with strong centralized governments.  You or I, as individuals, do not have the money, resources or expertise to create hydrogen bombs, attach them to missiles and launching equipment, store them, and guard them.  The American government and the Chinese government can do all of this, but individual people cannot.

And we certainly couldn't stockpile nuclear weapons in the tens of thousands... which is what the USA and Russia have done.

So, if you want to solve the nuclear weapons problem, we need to get rid of centralized governments.

This never occurs to Eric Weinstein though.  And it's telling that it never occurs to him.  His only solution is to start looking for other planets to live.

Well, those are our options.  Get rid of governments, or find other planets to live on.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Addendum to the Anarchism Vlogs: Part 1
(An addendum to the previous post)
There was a minor incident on twitter the other day when Elon Musk mentioned how he'd been enjoying a podcast about the end of Bakunin's life,...

...and then a bunch of people got angry that Elon Musk would in any way try to associate his brand with Bakunin, which is how it came across my twitter feed.
"Huh," I thought.  "I was just vlogging about Bakunin, and how underappreciated he was during the end of his life.  What are the odds?"
Elon Musk, it turns out, was listening to Revolutions Podcast.  And it turns out that, by sheer coincidence, Revolutions Podcast and I were talking about a lot of the same things last week. Revolutions Podcast was also talking about the fight between Mikhail Bakunin and Karl Marx, how the Paris Commune figured into the ideological split between anarchists and communists, and the split of the first International--all topics I tried to cover in the vlog.

But I'd be flattering myself if I implied that there was any equality between my rambling vlog and Revolutions Podcast.  Revolutions Podcast is the real deal--carefully researched, and professional presented.  This, really, is what you should be listening to if you want to learn about the subject, not me.
For the episode on Mikhail Bakunin's biography, see HERE.
For the episode on Bakunin's philosophy, see HERE.  
For the episode on Bakunin's and Marx's view of the Paris Commune, see HERE.
and for the episode on Bakunin's fight with Marx, and the split of the 1st International, see HERE.

(If you're even halfway interested in these topics, it's time well-spent.  Trust me.  These are entertaining and engaging podcasts.)

Revolutions Podcast is by a guy named Mike Duncan (W). He's most famous for his History of Rome Podcast (W), which I only found out about a couple years ago. It came up in a conversation in the school staffroom. 
(We have a lot of good history discussions in the staffroom.  You'd be surprised at how many former history majors and classics majors are teaching English in Asia... actually you probably wouldn't be.  It's probably exactly what you'd expect people would do with a history or classics degree.)
This podcast started in 2007, so it wasn't around when I was in college.  (In fact I'm fairly sure Mike Duncan is a few years younger than I am.)  But my younger colleagues have given me to understand that for ancient history or classics undergraduates nowadays, Mike Duncan's History of Rome Podcast is standard listening for bulking up on all the historical details outside of class.

Then after finishing The History of Rome, Mike Duncan started another podcast of history's revolutions.  It turns out Mike Duncan has the exact same interests as me.  My main historical interests are also ancient Rome, and revolutions.  
It appears Mike Duncan is just an ordinary guy (bachelor's in history) who just deciding to start podcasting about history.  Since he's been working on my historical interests, it occurs to me that Mike Duncan is doing exactly the kind of work that I myself would love to do if only I were better organized and more hard-working.  (And if I had more concentration, and was a better writer, and more intelligent, and had been more aware of what podcasting was and how to do it back in 2007.... etc.)
So I had known about his revolutions podcast, but I hadn't been actively following to it.  (I am planning on listening to the whole thing one day, but I'm working my way through other podcasts first.)  So I didn't realize he was covering the same ground as me last week. 

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

...I'm not particularly proud of this, but now that it's done I may as well post it here as well.

The origin of this dates back from about 15 years ago, when I had some ideas bouncing around my head, and was toying with the idea of writing a long political manifesto.

I thought about it for a few months, and then never wrote it.  That is the fate of most of my ideas for long epic blog posts.  (And let's face it... that's probably just as well.)

Vlogging, however, allows me to have a shot at the same subject matter without having to do the hard work of writing or paragraphing.  So now that I've started vlogging, it occurred to me that I could perhaps tackle this subject after all.

There were a couple other things that pushed this subject to the front of my brain recently:
* I've been going back and making youtube videos of my old book reviews from 12 years ago, so I've been reminded about a lot of the books I used to read on Anarchism.
* I've been spending way too much time on Leftist Youtube lately, and have discovered there's a whole community of Anarchist youtubers.  (Including another American guy who's also living in Vietnam like me.)  And I've been thinking "Hey! I also know something about this!" So I got the urge to chime in with my own two cents.

The wife and baby were away last week, so I had the apartment to myself, and filmed some videos. I made a rough outline to try to keep myself on topic (something that has been a problem in previous Vlogs).  My notes are HERE, and also posted below. But I didn't get through all the points I had outlined.

As it turned out, the subject was too big, even with the camera on.  (Maybe especially with the camera on.  Writing at least forces you to think about your word choices, but video encourages rambling).

Anyway, for whatever it may be worth, here is my vlog on anarchism

A. Preliminaries
Vlog series, rambling, notes
My history--activist scene.  At first I mocked anarchists. (high school and college education). Media Mouse (Anarchists in Grand Rapids), Reading (History/Biography mainly, not philosophy Melbourne 2010).  Nowadays: not particularly political, no group loyalty, dangers of tribalism
Disclaimer--Other people know this better, Not an expert, Not fresh in memory, Rambling, video time limit, mispronounce French names
Why do? Self-indulgence, (at a coffeehouse talk), possibly clear some stuff up. Invite corrections, Booktube tie in
Structure: What it is, History, arguments for and against.
B. What is Anarchism
Anarchism is difficult to define, and has a lot of different varieties.  Example, the conference I went to.  Anarchists resist strict categorizations.  (Although there are some doctrinaire anarchists.)
Dictionary definition misleading--but same with many political ideologies (Democrats, Republicans, National Socialists, etc).  Historical tradition is more important than definition. Anarchist history 1870s to 1930s.
Anarchism is not anarchy in the sense of chaos (James Bond villain.  Organized anarchism is not an oxymoron).
anarchy= an (no) archy (government/ruler) e.g. monarchy, oligarchy.  Does it mean no government or no ruler?
Usual description: no unjustified hierarchies.  Hierarchy has got to justify itself. (parent/child, ship on high seas)
Anarchism comes out of Socialist tradition--Is this strange?
Common misconceptions: Socialism is higher taxes, Obama-care, etc.  But this is actually welfare state within capitalism
Also: Marx didn’t create Socialism.  Socialist movement from 1820s.
Common misconceptions about capitalism--buying and selling.
History textbooks often say Capitalism emerged in the 18th century.  I found this confusing
Capitalism: shareholders (stockholders) get the profits from the company, not the workers.  (By definition, then, the workers are not being paid the value of their labor, since the profits go to the shareholders).
Socialism: workers control the means of production= workers control the company. (Private property)
Makes sense with anarchism--abolishment of hierarchies.
7. So...It’s on a scale.  Absolute state control of factories (e.g. Stalinism or Maoism) is opposite of anarchism.  But some forms of decentralized democratic socialism are quite close to (or equivalent to) more organized schools of anarchism.  (My experience debating Socialists).  Some of the difference is what tradition you want to identify yourself with. Libertarian Socialism
8. Anarchism: small communes organized into federations.  Direct democracy or recallable elected representatives.  Consensus democracy. (Consensus minus 1).
9. Anarcho-communism versus anarcho-syndicalism.

B. History
Antiquity--Modern (after French Revolution) Max Stirner
Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin
First to self-identify as anarchist. Famous dialogue (But Bakunin often seen as founder). Proudhon more in Socialist tradition. (Against violence)
Biographies: Couldn’t find on Amazon.  Revolutions of 1848 by Priscilla Robertson (Part in the Revolution)
Also, feud with Marx (Marx feuded a lot): Philosophy of Poverty/ Poverty of Philosophy.  Any biography
Dark side of Proudon: anti-semitism (but not major), Patriarchal
Property is theft
4. Bakunin
Russian aristocratic family:
Bakunin also involved in Revolutions of 1848 (Revolutions of 1848 by Priscilla Robertson)  With Wagner (Wagner: A Documentary Study edited by Herbert Barth, Dietrich Mack, Egon Voss)
Imprisonment in Russia, escape to Japan-USA-Europe
Feud with Marx--
Bakunin’s darkside: antisemitism (Francis Wheen: Karl Marx A life), also his love of conspiracies (anti-democratic) Sergey Nechayev; Catechism of a Revolutionary.  Careless about Revolutions (not like Marx).  Also not as brilliant as Marx
But… critiques of Marx still hold (Isaiah Berlin) We believe power corrupts those who wield it as much as those who are forced to obey it. Under its influence, some become greedy and ambitious tyrants, exploiting society in their own interest, or in that of their class, while others are turned into abject slaves. Intellectuals, positivists, doctrinaires, all those who put science before life…defend the idea of the state and its authority as being the only possible salvation of society-quite logically, since from their false premises that thought comes before life, that only abstract theory can form the starting-point of social practice…they draw the inevitable conclusion that since such theoretical knowledge is at present possessed by very few, these few must be put in control of social life, not only to inspire, but to direct all popular movements, and that no sooner is the revolution over than a new social organization must be at once be set up; not a free association of popular bodies…working in accordance with the needs and instincts of the people but a centralized dictatorial power concentrated in the hands of this academic minority, as if they really expressed the popular will….The difference between such revolutionary dictatorship and the modern State is only one of external trappings. In substance both are a tyranny of the minority over the majority in the name of the people-in the name of the stupidity of the many and the superior wisdom of the few-and so they are equally reactionary, devising to secure political and economic privilege to the ruling minority, and the…enslavement of the masses, to destroy the present order only to erect their own rigid dictatorship on its ruins.
End of life: (The World That Never Was: A True Story of Dreamers, Schemers, Anarchists, and Secret Agents by Alex Butterworth...and Bakunin, An Invention by Horst Bienek
Workingman’s International--1872 expulsion (and New York) Jura Federation--1876
5. Kropotkin
I’ve read about the least--but he has the best reputation (reasonable, no crackpot.)
The Great French Revolution --A People’s History of the World by Chris Harman
Supported World War I-- Marxists always bring this up (Emma Goldman autobiography)
6. Paris Commune
Big in Marxist and Anarchist mythology, but ultimately an unplanned revolution.  (Marx warned against it).  Working class revolution, but ideology confused
Anarchist--City autonomous.  Recallable delegates (Bakunin at Lyon the year before)
Marx--name associated with it, but delayed Isaiah Berlin, Paris Commune, Revolution and Reaction
Revolution went off--election Jacobin (Blanquist) majority, Proudhonist Socialist Minority (anarchist), Louise Michel (Louise Michel by Edith Thomas)
"The most fundamental split in the Commune so far had taken place, and henceforth its Assembly would consist of a Majority and Minority faction; the one, controlled by Jacobins, wanting to exercise dictatorship and terror--the methods of '93--and blaming the failures of the Commune upon the sentimentality of the Socialists; the other desiring to govern by reasonably democratic methods, to observe moderation in order to leave, as Rochefort put it, 'the door at least half open to conciliation'. In the light of twentieth-century history, it seems perhaps ironical that the exponents of democracy and moderation should have been chiefly the Internationalists, the forefathers of Lenin's Bolsheviks."--The Fall of Paris by Alistair Horne
Brutal repression--future violence
7. Propaganda of the Deed
assassinations--targeted and not so targeted (The World That Never Was: A True Story of Dreamers, Schemers, Anarchists, and Secret Agents by Alex Butterworth)
8. Anarchism in the United States
Haymarket massacre 1886
Emma Goldman (Living my Life)
Homestead Strike--Henry Clay Frick--Attempted Assassination
Socialist Critique of this--undemocratic--Emma Goldman sort of realizes this later in life
Leon Czolgosz--assassinated President of the United States (Weird, isn’t it?)  Inspired by anarchists in Europe (witnessed police brutality).  Not allowed in any anarchist group, and yet he self-identified as an anarchist.  (Brings up problems of self-identification, group responsibility).  Disavowed by anarchists, except Emma Goldman.
9. China--attraction to anarchism in 1910s and 1920s--Chinese Communist Party largely made up of anarchists until Cominterm, Chen Duxiu used to be anarchist, sons anarchist
10. Korea--anarchists in 1910s
11. Japan
1910 crackdown--accused of killing the emperor
Osugi Sakae (Sakae Osugi) Memoirs of an anarchist--childhood, Osugi Sakae: Anarchist in Taisho Japan by Thomas Stanley. Free love scandal.  Murdered by police in 1923 (precursor to crackdown).
People my age didn’t know him, but 1968 generation did.  Anarchist versus socialist.  (Chomsky)
12. Spain--Spanish Civil War
Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell

Holocaust (120,000 buses), Stalin secret police Gulag
Manhattan project
anarchist space program

Vlog: Anarchism

Anarchist in Grand Rapids:

Part 2: Anarchism

Books Mentioned:

Biographies of Marx:

Part 3: Anarchism

Books Mentioned:
Bakunin, An Invention by Horst Bienek

The World That Never Was: A True Story of Dreamers, Schemers, Anarchists, and Secret Agents by Alex Butterworth

Revolutions of 1848 by Priscilla Robertson

Karl Marx: A Life by Francis Wheen

Karl Marx: His Life and Environment by Isaiah Berlin

Wagner: A Documentary Study edited by Herbert Barth, Dietrich Mack, Egon Voss

Living My Life by Emma Goldman:

A People's History of the World by Chris Harman

Books Mentioned:

Living My Life by Emma Goldman:

The Civil War in France by Karl Marx:

Revolution and Reaction: The Paris Commune 1871 by John Hick and Robert Tucker

Karl Marx: His Life and Environment by Isaiah Berlin

Revolutions of 1848 by Priscilla Robertson

The Fall of Paris by Alistair Horne

The World That Never Was: A True Story of Dreamers, Schemers, Anarchists, and Secret Agents by Alex Butterworth

Louise Michel by Edith Thomas

Playlist HERE

Addendum 1 HERE
Addendum 2 HERE

Monday, July 08, 2019

For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway: Book Review (Scripted)

Video version of an old post (as I explained about HERE)
For the original post, see:

Spider-Man: Far From Home

(Movie Review)

The Review
A fun little Superhero movie, but nothing particularly groundbreaking like Endgame.

I suppose it's unfair to compare this movie to Avengers: Endgame.  Not every movie can or should be a huge event movie like Endgame.  You need the ordinary superhero movies in between so that the big event movies can feel special.  But... I can't help but think it, this movie does feel a bit anti-climatic after Endgame.

A good Spider-Man movie needs to focus on Peter Parker's high school angst, and Peter Parker's group of teenage friends. 
A Marvel Cinematic Universe movie needs to make connections to the larger world of superheros and reference the big events that happened in previous movies.
This movie does as good a job of balancing the two as can be hoped for.  The decision to send Peter Parker's high school friends on a European field trip allowed the writers to take the story to exotic locations, while still keeping the focus on the group of friends.

The movie is lighthearted and fun.  With a lot of jokes thrown in.
If I was inclined to be critical, I could complain that the movie is not quite as funny as it thinks it is.  (Quite often I thought that a corny joke didn't quite merit all the set-up that the movie gave it).  But why complain about nitpicks? These Marvel Cinematic Universe movies have always done a fairly good job of managing the tone-- keeping their movies fun, but also keeping the stakes real.  (After the complete failure of the DC Cinematic Universe to manage the same act, it's a reminder that we've gotten spoiled by how good the Marvel movies are.) 

Other Notes
* I was a little concerned at first that Marvel was throwing away the dramatic weight behind their own storyline by treating the "blip" as just a joke.  But after thinking about it, I think it works.  The opening scenes were just showing how high school students would react to the blip.  Of course from a high school student's perspective, the injustice of having to retake mid-terms would be the most important thing about the blip. 
This doesn't preclude a later movie from taking a more serious look at the massive societal disruption the blip must have caused.

7 out of 10 Stars.  (Good fun film, but just as easily forgettable).

Marvel Cinematic Universe Reviews Links

1. Iron Man
2. The Incredible Hulk
3. Iron Man 2
4. Thor
5. Captain America: The First Avenger
6. The Avengers
7. Iron Man 3
8. Thor 2: Dark World
9. Captain America 2: Winter Soldier
10. Guardians of the Galaxy
11. Avengers: Age of Ultron
12. Ant-Man
13. Captain America 3: Civil War
14. Doctor Strange--Haven't seen yet
15. Guardians of the Galaxy 2
16. Spider-Man: Homecoming
17. Thor: Ragnarok
18: Black Panther
19. Avengers: Infinity War
20. Ant-Man and the Wasp ,
21. Captain Marvel--Haven't seen yet
22. Avengers: Endgame

Video Review:
Video review HERE and embedded below:

Link of the Day
Noam Chomsky - The Relevance of Anarcho-syndicalism (1976)