Welcome to Bookmarker!

This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading. Currently can only be used by a single user (myself), but I plan to extend it to support multiple users eventually.

Source code on GitHub (MIT license).

3

The historical conjuncture in which theories are formed stamps them with their main characteristics. ‘Classical’ Marxism – initiated on Marx’s death by Engels and notably comprising Kautsky, Lenin, Trotsky, Luxemburg and Otto Bauer – emerged against the background of profound political and economic turbulence, which led to the First World War and the Russian Revolution. Conversely, so-called Western Marxism, of which Lukács, Korsch and Gramsci were the initiators, and to which Adorno, Sartre, Althusser, Marcuse and Della Volpe in particular belong, developed in a period of relative stability for capitalism. The themes broached by these authors, but also their theoretical ‘style’, clearly register the effects of this. Thus, although they all pertain to the Marxist tradition, a gulf separates Hilferding’s Finance Capital (1910) and Lenin’s State and Revolution (1917) from Adorno’s Minima Moralia (1951) and Sartre’s The Family Idiot (1971–72).

Introduction (1) default author 7 months, 1 week ago

The historical conjuncture in which theories are formed stamps them with their main characteristics. ‘Classical’ Marxism – initiated on Marx’s death by Engels and notably comprising Kautsky, Lenin, Trotsky, Luxemburg and Otto Bauer – emerged against the background of profound political and economic turbulence, which led to the First World War and the Russian Revolution. Conversely, so-called Western Marxism, of which Lukács, Korsch and Gramsci were the initiators, and to which Adorno, Sartre, Althusser, Marcuse and Della Volpe in particular belong, developed in a period of relative stability for capitalism. The themes broached by these authors, but also their theoretical ‘style’, clearly register the effects of this. Thus, although they all pertain to the Marxist tradition, a gulf separates Hilferding’s Finance Capital (1910) and Lenin’s State and Revolution (1917) from Adorno’s Minima Moralia (1951) and Sartre’s The Family Idiot (1971–72).

—p.3 Introduction (1) default author 7 months, 1 week ago
7

In the beginning was defeat. Anyone who wishes to understand the nature of contemporary critical thinking must start from this fact.

From the second half of the 1970s, the protest movements born in the late 1950s, but which were inheritors of much older movements, went into decline. The reasons are various: the oil shock of 1973 and the reversal of the ‘long wave’ of the trente glorieuses; the neo-liberal offensive with the election of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in 1979 and 1980; the capitalist turn in China under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping; the decline of old forms of working-class solidarity; the Left’s ascension to power in France in 1981 and, with it, ministerial prospects encouraging the conversion of leftist militants who had distinguished themselves in May 1968; the definitive loss of credibility of the Soviet and Chinese blocs; and so on and so forth. [...]

The Defeat of Critical Thinking (1977–93) (7) default author 7 months, 1 week ago

In the beginning was defeat. Anyone who wishes to understand the nature of contemporary critical thinking must start from this fact.

From the second half of the 1970s, the protest movements born in the late 1950s, but which were inheritors of much older movements, went into decline. The reasons are various: the oil shock of 1973 and the reversal of the ‘long wave’ of the trente glorieuses; the neo-liberal offensive with the election of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in 1979 and 1980; the capitalist turn in China under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping; the decline of old forms of working-class solidarity; the Left’s ascension to power in France in 1981 and, with it, ministerial prospects encouraging the conversion of leftist militants who had distinguished themselves in May 1968; the definitive loss of credibility of the Soviet and Chinese blocs; and so on and so forth. [...]

—p.7 The Defeat of Critical Thinking (1977–93) (7) default author 7 months, 1 week ago
23

Since the 1960s, the United States has been the quintessential country of identity politics. This phrase refers to policies – governmental or otherwise – aimed at promoting the interest, or combatting the stigmatization, of some particular category of the population. Identity politics aim to rehabilitate the ‘identity’ of social groups hitherto discriminated against on account of the negative perception to which they are subject. Identity politics has two important characteristics. The first is that it involves minorities who recognize themselves as such – that is, who do not have the mission of transforming themselves into a majority. In this regard they are opposed to entities like the ‘people’ or the ‘working class’, whose historical role was to coincide, in the more or less long term, with society as a whole. The struggle for recognition of homosexual identity, for example, does not necessarily aim to generalize this identity. It aims to put an end to the stigmatization of those concerned. The second characteristic of ‘identity’ thus conceived is that it is not a (uniquely) economic instance. It contains a decisive cultural dimension.

The Defeat of Critical Thinking (1977–93) (7) default author 7 months, 1 week ago

Since the 1960s, the United States has been the quintessential country of identity politics. This phrase refers to policies – governmental or otherwise – aimed at promoting the interest, or combatting the stigmatization, of some particular category of the population. Identity politics aim to rehabilitate the ‘identity’ of social groups hitherto discriminated against on account of the negative perception to which they are subject. Identity politics has two important characteristics. The first is that it involves minorities who recognize themselves as such – that is, who do not have the mission of transforming themselves into a majority. In this regard they are opposed to entities like the ‘people’ or the ‘working class’, whose historical role was to coincide, in the more or less long term, with society as a whole. The struggle for recognition of homosexual identity, for example, does not necessarily aim to generalize this identity. It aims to put an end to the stigmatization of those concerned. The second characteristic of ‘identity’ thus conceived is that it is not a (uniquely) economic instance. It contains a decisive cultural dimension.

—p.23 The Defeat of Critical Thinking (1977–93) (7) default author 7 months, 1 week ago
30

[...] These theological figures raise the question of how it is possible to continue believing or hoping when everything seems to run counter to belief, when circumstances are radically hostile to it. It is only natural that critical thinkers should feel the need to offer an answer to it. Experiments in constructing a socialist society have all ended tragically. The Marxist conceptual and organizational framework, which dominated the labour movement for more than a century, has collapsed. In such conditions, how is one to continue believing in the feasibility of socialism, when the facts have brutally and repeatedly invalidated the idea? Theology offers plentiful resources for thinking this problem – belief in the non-existent is its speciality – and from this point of view it is understandable that critical thinkers have seized on them.

The Defeat of Critical Thinking (1977–93) (7) default author 7 months, 1 week ago

[...] These theological figures raise the question of how it is possible to continue believing or hoping when everything seems to run counter to belief, when circumstances are radically hostile to it. It is only natural that critical thinkers should feel the need to offer an answer to it. Experiments in constructing a socialist society have all ended tragically. The Marxist conceptual and organizational framework, which dominated the labour movement for more than a century, has collapsed. In such conditions, how is one to continue believing in the feasibility of socialism, when the facts have brutally and repeatedly invalidated the idea? Theology offers plentiful resources for thinking this problem – belief in the non-existent is its speciality – and from this point of view it is understandable that critical thinkers have seized on them.

—p.30 The Defeat of Critical Thinking (1977–93) (7) default author 7 months, 1 week ago
36

[...] the concept of exploitation was fundamental. Exploitation is the extraction of surplus-value – that is, the portion of labour performed by wage-labourers for which they are not remunerated by capitalists. It is an economic concept, even if its consequences extend far beyond this sphere as traditionally conceived. This notion, like the representation of the social world that goes with it, tends to assign centrality to economic oppression – that suffered by the industrial working class – and to regard other forms of oppression, like male domination or colonialism, as secondary. This is what Marxists once called the problematic of ‘secondary fronts’, the ‘main’ front being the opposition between capital and labour. Contrary to a current but erroneous retrospective view, ‘qualitative’ themes – this is an important point – were never absent from Marxism and the labour movement. But in it exploitation nevertheless played the role of organizing concept.

on standard Marxism

A Brief History of the ‘New Left’ (1956–77) (33) default author 7 months, 1 week ago

[...] the concept of exploitation was fundamental. Exploitation is the extraction of surplus-value – that is, the portion of labour performed by wage-labourers for which they are not remunerated by capitalists. It is an economic concept, even if its consequences extend far beyond this sphere as traditionally conceived. This notion, like the representation of the social world that goes with it, tends to assign centrality to economic oppression – that suffered by the industrial working class – and to regard other forms of oppression, like male domination or colonialism, as secondary. This is what Marxists once called the problematic of ‘secondary fronts’, the ‘main’ front being the opposition between capital and labour. Contrary to a current but erroneous retrospective view, ‘qualitative’ themes – this is an important point – were never absent from Marxism and the labour movement. But in it exploitation nevertheless played the role of organizing concept.

on standard Marxism

—p.36 A Brief History of the ‘New Left’ (1956–77) (33) default author 7 months, 1 week ago
71

[...] developed by the Mexico-based Scottish philosopher John Holloway in his book Change the World without Taking Power, published in 2002. The basic idea underlying theories of anti-power is that the transformation of society by the seizure of state power on ‘Leninist’ lines is an illusion, which always results in regimes more detestable than those confronted. On the basis of this assessment, Holloway advocates renouncing seizure of power and changing the world by exploiting the spaces of freedom inevitably produced by capitalism. In line with this idea, and contrary to the Latin American guerrillas influenced by the Cuban model, the Zapatistas have never sought state power. When they go to Mexico City, it is to get their demands heard and occupy the media terrain. A famous saying by Subcomandante Marcos runs: ‘We do not want state power, we want power.’

Contemporary Critical Intellectuals: A Typology (51) default author 7 months, 1 week ago

[...] developed by the Mexico-based Scottish philosopher John Holloway in his book Change the World without Taking Power, published in 2002. The basic idea underlying theories of anti-power is that the transformation of society by the seizure of state power on ‘Leninist’ lines is an illusion, which always results in regimes more detestable than those confronted. On the basis of this assessment, Holloway advocates renouncing seizure of power and changing the world by exploiting the spaces of freedom inevitably produced by capitalism. In line with this idea, and contrary to the Latin American guerrillas influenced by the Cuban model, the Zapatistas have never sought state power. When they go to Mexico City, it is to get their demands heard and occupy the media terrain. A famous saying by Subcomandante Marcos runs: ‘We do not want state power, we want power.’

—p.71 Contemporary Critical Intellectuals: A Typology (51) default author 7 months, 1 week ago
111

According to Anderson, nationalism cannot be understood if we do not appreciate that its emergence coincides with the large-scale diffusion of printing. In the eighteenth century, what he calls ‘print capitalism’ gradually emerged. From this period onwards, printing became a lucrative activity that attracted capitalist investment. The advance of literacy increased the proportion of the population engaged in reading, and social institutions were established – such as the literary and political societies that were to have a decisive impact on the French Revolution and hence modern nationalism – which encouraged the development of this practice. These factors converged to give rise to the emergence of a market in printed matter.

The advent of this market had two consequences for the spread of nationalism. First, it contributed to the emergence of increasingly standardized national languages. The capitalist character of printing impelled editors to publish works that could be read by the maximum number of people so as to increase their profits. This desacralized Latin and reduced its influence. In addition, the fact that the language was printed tended to stabilize it, rendering its evolution more gradual. This conferred on it greater historical ‘depth’, which facilitated identification by contemporaries with past periods in the national history. Such standardization also created a felt need for greater correctness in expression, leading to the promotion of institutions – for example, academies – charged with producing orthographic and syntactical norms. From a general point of view, this standardization implied that a growing number of people spoke an ever more closely related language. These people would increasingly tend to regard themselves as co-citizens, the common language being a criterion – not the sole one – of membership of a nation.

The Nation-State: Persistence or Transcendence? (108) default author 7 months, 1 week ago

According to Anderson, nationalism cannot be understood if we do not appreciate that its emergence coincides with the large-scale diffusion of printing. In the eighteenth century, what he calls ‘print capitalism’ gradually emerged. From this period onwards, printing became a lucrative activity that attracted capitalist investment. The advance of literacy increased the proportion of the population engaged in reading, and social institutions were established – such as the literary and political societies that were to have a decisive impact on the French Revolution and hence modern nationalism – which encouraged the development of this practice. These factors converged to give rise to the emergence of a market in printed matter.

The advent of this market had two consequences for the spread of nationalism. First, it contributed to the emergence of increasingly standardized national languages. The capitalist character of printing impelled editors to publish works that could be read by the maximum number of people so as to increase their profits. This desacralized Latin and reduced its influence. In addition, the fact that the language was printed tended to stabilize it, rendering its evolution more gradual. This conferred on it greater historical ‘depth’, which facilitated identification by contemporaries with past periods in the national history. Such standardization also created a felt need for greater correctness in expression, leading to the promotion of institutions – for example, academies – charged with producing orthographic and syntactical norms. From a general point of view, this standardization implied that a growing number of people spoke an ever more closely related language. These people would increasingly tend to regard themselves as co-citizens, the common language being a criterion – not the sole one – of membership of a nation.

—p.111 The Nation-State: Persistence or Transcendence? (108) default author 7 months, 1 week ago
116

[...] the defeats suffered by internationalism at the hands of nationalism during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and, in particular, the fact that all socialist experiments have had no choice but to cast themselves in the mould of nation-states, are not accidental. They were inevitable for the reasons invoked above. The world capitalist economy generates uneven and combined development; and uneven and combined development generates nationalism: [...] Nationalism is neither accidental nor provisional. It is part and parcel of the very logic of the world capitalist economy.

on Nairn

The Nation-State: Persistence or Transcendence? (108) default author 7 months, 1 week ago

[...] the defeats suffered by internationalism at the hands of nationalism during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and, in particular, the fact that all socialist experiments have had no choice but to cast themselves in the mould of nation-states, are not accidental. They were inevitable for the reasons invoked above. The world capitalist economy generates uneven and combined development; and uneven and combined development generates nationalism: [...] Nationalism is neither accidental nor provisional. It is part and parcel of the very logic of the world capitalist economy.

on Nairn

—p.116 The Nation-State: Persistence or Transcendence? (108) default author 7 months, 1 week ago
130

[...] At least three elements unite the advocates of the New Left. First of all, they subject the neo-liberalism and authoritarianism of the Chinese state to concerted criticism. In other words, they believe that these are two aspects of the same phenomenon. Chinese liberals, who have been very powerful since the 1980s (and the ‘new Enlightenment’ following the country’s opening up by Deng), criticize the absence of civil and political liberties in the country, but support the neo-liberal reforms. They simply suggest extending economic liberalism to the political field. The New Left is opposed to this conception. In its view, authoritarianism and the neo-liberal reforms form a system. Those reforms are not the consequence of increased freedom in the economy, attributable to the state’s withdrawal and the emergence of an autonomous civil society. They have been implemented in authoritarian fashion by the state. Authoritarianism and neo-liberalism are therefore not antithetical. Quite the reverse. In China the state and civil society interpenetrate in many ways, to the extent that making a clear distinction between them is difficult.

The Nation-State: Persistence or Transcendence? (108) default author 7 months, 1 week ago

[...] At least three elements unite the advocates of the New Left. First of all, they subject the neo-liberalism and authoritarianism of the Chinese state to concerted criticism. In other words, they believe that these are two aspects of the same phenomenon. Chinese liberals, who have been very powerful since the 1980s (and the ‘new Enlightenment’ following the country’s opening up by Deng), criticize the absence of civil and political liberties in the country, but support the neo-liberal reforms. They simply suggest extending economic liberalism to the political field. The New Left is opposed to this conception. In its view, authoritarianism and the neo-liberal reforms form a system. Those reforms are not the consequence of increased freedom in the economy, attributable to the state’s withdrawal and the emergence of an autonomous civil society. They have been implemented in authoritarian fashion by the state. Authoritarianism and neo-liberalism are therefore not antithetical. Quite the reverse. In China the state and civil society interpenetrate in many ways, to the extent that making a clear distinction between them is difficult.

—p.130 The Nation-State: Persistence or Transcendence? (108) default author 7 months, 1 week ago
142

[...] Technology is not ‘progressive’ in itself; its positive or negative effects are always conditional on power relations. In any event, it is certain that it will not abolish capitalist exploitation solely through its own development, for labour is not simply an occupation but, in the last instance, a social relationship.

Capitalisms Old and New (139) default author 7 months, 1 week ago

[...] Technology is not ‘progressive’ in itself; its positive or negative effects are always conditional on power relations. In any event, it is certain that it will not abolish capitalist exploitation solely through its own development, for labour is not simply an occupation but, in the last instance, a social relationship.

—p.142 Capitalisms Old and New (139) default author 7 months, 1 week ago