Welcome to Bookmarker!

This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading.

Source code on GitHub (MIT license).

1

By the pool at their house, which fronts a golf course whose sprinklers turn on every ten minutes during the worst drought in California history, the calls and messages fill me with guilt. I recall the times in fall 2011, during the occupation of Philadelphia’s City Hall, when I’d do something frivolous, like browse in a bookstore, and be overcome by the shame that attaches to any private activity undertaken in a moment of public upheaval. Or worse, the feeling that intellectual work, even in the service of politics, is useless — that the only thing to do is to give yourself over entirely to the cause.

—p.1 Canvassing (1) by Nikil Saval 7 months, 2 weeks ago

By the pool at their house, which fronts a golf course whose sprinklers turn on every ten minutes during the worst drought in California history, the calls and messages fill me with guilt. I recall the times in fall 2011, during the occupation of Philadelphia’s City Hall, when I’d do something frivolous, like browse in a bookstore, and be overcome by the shame that attaches to any private activity undertaken in a moment of public upheaval. Or worse, the feeling that intellectual work, even in the service of politics, is useless — that the only thing to do is to give yourself over entirely to the cause.

—p.1 Canvassing (1) by Nikil Saval 7 months, 2 weeks ago
2

She quickly retrains me: Remember to ring the doorbell and also knock, sometimes the bell doesn’t work, try knocking twice; if they don’t know who they’re voting for, try to persuade them; if they’re voting for Hillary, leave them alone (that’s between them and their rotten, cynical conscience, she neglects to add); here’s the list of Sanders’s policies ($15 minimum wage, single-payer health insurance, free higher public education, antifracking, all of it true but not to the point — the point is he’s the first candidate in two generations who is not a neoliberal, the first in decades to call himself a socialist, running as a Democrat but, bless him, not one). In the moment, I have trouble recalling why I canvassed for Obama, or what I said in his favor. The virtue of the Sanders platform is that I have no trouble articulating what he believes, because much of what he believes, I believe. I can say what I think, for the most part, and it comes out sounding like what Sanders thinks. It occurs to me that I have never felt this way about national electoral politics in my life.

—p.2 Canvassing (1) by Nikil Saval 7 months, 2 weeks ago

She quickly retrains me: Remember to ring the doorbell and also knock, sometimes the bell doesn’t work, try knocking twice; if they don’t know who they’re voting for, try to persuade them; if they’re voting for Hillary, leave them alone (that’s between them and their rotten, cynical conscience, she neglects to add); here’s the list of Sanders’s policies ($15 minimum wage, single-payer health insurance, free higher public education, antifracking, all of it true but not to the point — the point is he’s the first candidate in two generations who is not a neoliberal, the first in decades to call himself a socialist, running as a Democrat but, bless him, not one). In the moment, I have trouble recalling why I canvassed for Obama, or what I said in his favor. The virtue of the Sanders platform is that I have no trouble articulating what he believes, because much of what he believes, I believe. I can say what I think, for the most part, and it comes out sounding like what Sanders thinks. It occurs to me that I have never felt this way about national electoral politics in my life.

—p.2 Canvassing (1) by Nikil Saval 7 months, 2 weeks ago
4

This conversation feels like a victory and inaugurates a string of houses — closer now to South Philadelphia — where nearly everyone is voting for Sanders. People seem to enjoy keeping me in suspense. “Can I ask if you plan to vote on April 26th in the Democratic primary?” “Yes, you can.” “Uh. Are you planning to vote on April 26th in the Democratic primary?” “Yes, I am.” “Right. Can I ask who you’re voting for?” “Yes, you can.” “OK. Who are you voting for?” “BERNIE SANDERS!!!” They shake my hand and send me on my way. I mark box after box: “Strong Sanders.”

It seems implausible, entire blocks voting for this weirdo. I can barely believe it, and it occurs to me that I’ve been thinking of my support for Sanders as a private obsession, a strange fascination unconnected to the preferences and actions of most people. Even the millions of votes cast for him so far seem spectral to me, mere data, unrelated to everyday life. Yet here were strangers who seemed to believe more or less the same insane things I believe, things I usually have trouble uttering, let alone defending, in polite company. The high this gives me is inspiring, and for the first time I begin to fantasize, blithely, about what it would be like for Bernie Sanders, self-described democratic socialist, to become President.

—p.4 Canvassing (1) by Nikil Saval 7 months, 2 weeks ago

This conversation feels like a victory and inaugurates a string of houses — closer now to South Philadelphia — where nearly everyone is voting for Sanders. People seem to enjoy keeping me in suspense. “Can I ask if you plan to vote on April 26th in the Democratic primary?” “Yes, you can.” “Uh. Are you planning to vote on April 26th in the Democratic primary?” “Yes, I am.” “Right. Can I ask who you’re voting for?” “Yes, you can.” “OK. Who are you voting for?” “BERNIE SANDERS!!!” They shake my hand and send me on my way. I mark box after box: “Strong Sanders.”

It seems implausible, entire blocks voting for this weirdo. I can barely believe it, and it occurs to me that I’ve been thinking of my support for Sanders as a private obsession, a strange fascination unconnected to the preferences and actions of most people. Even the millions of votes cast for him so far seem spectral to me, mere data, unrelated to everyday life. Yet here were strangers who seemed to believe more or less the same insane things I believe, things I usually have trouble uttering, let alone defending, in polite company. The high this gives me is inspiring, and for the first time I begin to fantasize, blithely, about what it would be like for Bernie Sanders, self-described democratic socialist, to become President.

—p.4 Canvassing (1) by Nikil Saval 7 months, 2 weeks ago
5

After I quit volunteering for the union, I found myself spending afternoons weeping through TV screenings of Norma Rae. I missed the commitments I had spent years building. To stand up in the textile factory, to raise the ragged placard with the word UNION on it. To stand up to everyone around you. To spend nights and weekends in a kind of exhausted frenzy, making hundreds of phone calls, digging deep into the news archives for a bit of telling data that would help you screw the bosses, driving to one home after another, one workplace after another, pleading with workers, pleading with everyone you knew but, in truth, with yourself, that there was nothing more important, that your work, that laundry and cooking, would all have to wait for this higher cause . . . was there anything greater? I missed it like a limb.

—p.5 Canvassing (1) by Nikil Saval 7 months, 2 weeks ago

After I quit volunteering for the union, I found myself spending afternoons weeping through TV screenings of Norma Rae. I missed the commitments I had spent years building. To stand up in the textile factory, to raise the ragged placard with the word UNION on it. To stand up to everyone around you. To spend nights and weekends in a kind of exhausted frenzy, making hundreds of phone calls, digging deep into the news archives for a bit of telling data that would help you screw the bosses, driving to one home after another, one workplace after another, pleading with workers, pleading with everyone you knew but, in truth, with yourself, that there was nothing more important, that your work, that laundry and cooking, would all have to wait for this higher cause . . . was there anything greater? I missed it like a limb.

—p.5 Canvassing (1) by Nikil Saval 7 months, 2 weeks ago
15

It was Marx’s genius to argue that capitalists were not fundamentally different from the feudal landlords who preceded them, since each took percentages based on an arbitrarily declared “ownership” of factories or land. Profit has no more divine justification than rent, and if you can fight a landlord who calls himself a king, you can fight one who calls himself a capitalist.

damn

—p.15 Prince Trump (14) by n+1 7 months, 2 weeks ago

It was Marx’s genius to argue that capitalists were not fundamentally different from the feudal landlords who preceded them, since each took percentages based on an arbitrarily declared “ownership” of factories or land. Profit has no more divine justification than rent, and if you can fight a landlord who calls himself a king, you can fight one who calls himself a capitalist.

damn

—p.15 Prince Trump (14) by n+1 7 months, 2 weeks ago
16

[...] Both American and Mexican labor are cheaper for being divided, and there is no obvious reason to believe that more labor laws, like raising the minimum wage, will change this fact if there remains a surplus of undocumented workers to whom these laws technically apply, though in practice they are unenforced. The real wage, calculated as the average rate paid to documented and undocumented workers alike, explains Trump’s rise more than his virulent racism does. Racism is a side effect of a regime that keeps labor laws on the books only to look the other way when millions of brown people are subjected to conditions far beneath these standards.

The wall isn’t racist; the border is racist. The wall is an effort to force a broader recognition of the privileges the border grants to professionals, who are the primary beneficiaries of American immigration and trade policy, and to redistribute some of its racist benefits downward. The only solution to this problem is to raise the price of labor power in Mexico, and then everywhere else. But given the limited political horizon of the professional left, for whom a higher minimum wage for American citizens is the best that can be hoped for, perhaps the unemployed people of Indiana can be forgiven for thinking that the wall is more realistic.

—p.16 The Woman's Party (16) by Namara Smith 7 months, 2 weeks ago

[...] Both American and Mexican labor are cheaper for being divided, and there is no obvious reason to believe that more labor laws, like raising the minimum wage, will change this fact if there remains a surplus of undocumented workers to whom these laws technically apply, though in practice they are unenforced. The real wage, calculated as the average rate paid to documented and undocumented workers alike, explains Trump’s rise more than his virulent racism does. Racism is a side effect of a regime that keeps labor laws on the books only to look the other way when millions of brown people are subjected to conditions far beneath these standards.

The wall isn’t racist; the border is racist. The wall is an effort to force a broader recognition of the privileges the border grants to professionals, who are the primary beneficiaries of American immigration and trade policy, and to redistribute some of its racist benefits downward. The only solution to this problem is to raise the price of labor power in Mexico, and then everywhere else. But given the limited political horizon of the professional left, for whom a higher minimum wage for American citizens is the best that can be hoped for, perhaps the unemployed people of Indiana can be forgiven for thinking that the wall is more realistic.

—p.16 The Woman's Party (16) by Namara Smith 7 months, 2 weeks ago
18

[...] What most women needed, they argued, was not a blanket guarantee of political and legal equality with men but the economic security provided by protective legislation.

Both sides enlisted support from male allies. The Woman’s Party made common cause with business interests who benefited from unregulated access to women’s cheap labor, and the maternalists were backed by trade unionists who saw protective labor regulations as a way to keep women from competing for men’s jobs. As the labor movement gained influence in the 1930s, the maternalists’ power grew, and they succeeded in blocking the passage of the ERA indefinitely. When FDR was elected in 1933, many prominent maternalists were appointed to his administration, including his secretary of labor, Frances Perkins, which enabled them to play a decisive role in shaping the federal welfare state.

But while the maternalists’ protective legislation laid the groundwork for the New Deal’s federal labor regulations, the specifics were left to the men. Many of the benefits enshrined in the New Deal were tied to employment, but the drafters were careful to distinguish among different types of work, providing generous benefits to some workers and none to others. The Fair Labor Standards Act, which set the first federal minimum-wage and maximum-hours laws; the National Labor Relations Act, which guaranteed workers the right to bargain collectively; and Social Security’s old-age and unemployment insurance programs did not extend to many low-paid workers, including farm laborers, maids, housekeepers, laundresses, child-care workers, and companions to the elderly, thus excluding most women, as well as black men, from the economic security and political recognition these laws afforded to the white male industrial working class.

—p.18 The Woman's Party (16) by Namara Smith 7 months, 2 weeks ago

[...] What most women needed, they argued, was not a blanket guarantee of political and legal equality with men but the economic security provided by protective legislation.

Both sides enlisted support from male allies. The Woman’s Party made common cause with business interests who benefited from unregulated access to women’s cheap labor, and the maternalists were backed by trade unionists who saw protective labor regulations as a way to keep women from competing for men’s jobs. As the labor movement gained influence in the 1930s, the maternalists’ power grew, and they succeeded in blocking the passage of the ERA indefinitely. When FDR was elected in 1933, many prominent maternalists were appointed to his administration, including his secretary of labor, Frances Perkins, which enabled them to play a decisive role in shaping the federal welfare state.

But while the maternalists’ protective legislation laid the groundwork for the New Deal’s federal labor regulations, the specifics were left to the men. Many of the benefits enshrined in the New Deal were tied to employment, but the drafters were careful to distinguish among different types of work, providing generous benefits to some workers and none to others. The Fair Labor Standards Act, which set the first federal minimum-wage and maximum-hours laws; the National Labor Relations Act, which guaranteed workers the right to bargain collectively; and Social Security’s old-age and unemployment insurance programs did not extend to many low-paid workers, including farm laborers, maids, housekeepers, laundresses, child-care workers, and companions to the elderly, thus excluding most women, as well as black men, from the economic security and political recognition these laws afforded to the white male industrial working class.

—p.18 The Woman's Party (16) by Namara Smith 7 months, 2 weeks ago
20

Bill introduced his plan to dismantle welfare, by that point called Aid to Families with Dependent Children, or AFDC, early in his campaign. Speaking before students at Georgetown in fall 1991, he claimed that the “New Covenant” he wanted to offer the American people could “break the cycle of welfare”:

Welfare should be a second chance, not a way of life. In my administration we’re going to put an end to welfare as we have come to know it. I want to erase the stigma of welfare for good by restoring a simple, dignified principle: no one who can work can stay on welfare forever. We’ll still help people to help themselves. And those who need education and training and child care and medical coverage for their kids — they’ll get it. We’ll give them all the help they need and we’ll keep them on public assistance for up to two years, but after that, people who are able to work, they’ll have to go to work, either in the private sector or through a community service job. No more permanent dependence on welfare as a way of life.

At the time, AFDC was perhaps the most widely reviled program in government history. Since its passage, in 1935, it had become a symbol of everything that was wrong with redistributive government programs. Among its most vociferous critics were welfare recipients themselves, who were subjected to a battery of moral tests and denied the dignity and title of a worker, no matter how much unwaged housework and child care they did. Although AFDC gave all unemployed mothers the right to benefits, states were free to set additional eligibility limits, and many did. In 1943, Louisiana became the first state to institute “employable mother” laws, popular in the rural South, which suspended benefits to mothers at planting and harvest time. “Suitable home,” “man in the house,” and “substitute father” laws denied benefits to mothers who caseworkers could prove were having regular sex, the regulations being loose enough that “regular” was interpreted as anywhere from once a week to once every six months. Social workers were often sent to examine the homes of welfare recipients, searching for unwashed dishes and unmade beds. How you were treated depended on where you lived: the laws tended to be harsher in regions with more black mothers on welfare. Payments in the South were, on average, about half as large as in other parts of the country. As black Americans migrated to northern industrial cities, those cities’ welfare laws became more restrictive.

—p.20 The Woman's Party (16) by Namara Smith 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Bill introduced his plan to dismantle welfare, by that point called Aid to Families with Dependent Children, or AFDC, early in his campaign. Speaking before students at Georgetown in fall 1991, he claimed that the “New Covenant” he wanted to offer the American people could “break the cycle of welfare”:

Welfare should be a second chance, not a way of life. In my administration we’re going to put an end to welfare as we have come to know it. I want to erase the stigma of welfare for good by restoring a simple, dignified principle: no one who can work can stay on welfare forever. We’ll still help people to help themselves. And those who need education and training and child care and medical coverage for their kids — they’ll get it. We’ll give them all the help they need and we’ll keep them on public assistance for up to two years, but after that, people who are able to work, they’ll have to go to work, either in the private sector or through a community service job. No more permanent dependence on welfare as a way of life.

At the time, AFDC was perhaps the most widely reviled program in government history. Since its passage, in 1935, it had become a symbol of everything that was wrong with redistributive government programs. Among its most vociferous critics were welfare recipients themselves, who were subjected to a battery of moral tests and denied the dignity and title of a worker, no matter how much unwaged housework and child care they did. Although AFDC gave all unemployed mothers the right to benefits, states were free to set additional eligibility limits, and many did. In 1943, Louisiana became the first state to institute “employable mother” laws, popular in the rural South, which suspended benefits to mothers at planting and harvest time. “Suitable home,” “man in the house,” and “substitute father” laws denied benefits to mothers who caseworkers could prove were having regular sex, the regulations being loose enough that “regular” was interpreted as anywhere from once a week to once every six months. Social workers were often sent to examine the homes of welfare recipients, searching for unwashed dishes and unmade beds. How you were treated depended on where you lived: the laws tended to be harsher in regions with more black mothers on welfare. Payments in the South were, on average, about half as large as in other parts of the country. As black Americans migrated to northern industrial cities, those cities’ welfare laws became more restrictive.

—p.20 The Woman's Party (16) by Namara Smith 7 months, 2 weeks ago
21

Having abandoned the maternalists’ sentimental defense of motherhood as a sacred calling, most second-wave feminists had no terms in which to mount a convincing justification for income support to poor mothers. Other women were working; why shouldn’t they work too? But for middle-class women, work meant public recognition, self-determination, the right to be seen as autonomous individuals and to participate in civic life. For welfare mothers, especially black women, who made up two-thirds of all domestic workers by 1960, it meant watching other women’s children, preparing their food, and scrubbing their floors, services that professional women increasingly relied on as they entered the workforce in greater numbers. The version of welfare reform Bill Clinton envisioned was much more generous than the bill eventually passed by the Republican Congress in 1996. It would have included child-care and job-placement programs — but it would still have required welfare recipients to work. Hillary’s support for the bill reveals the deep fault lines of class and race that fractured the second-wave feminist movement, as white middle-class women purchased their independence from domestic labor by shifting the burden to working-class women of color.

—p.21 The Woman's Party (16) by Namara Smith 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Having abandoned the maternalists’ sentimental defense of motherhood as a sacred calling, most second-wave feminists had no terms in which to mount a convincing justification for income support to poor mothers. Other women were working; why shouldn’t they work too? But for middle-class women, work meant public recognition, self-determination, the right to be seen as autonomous individuals and to participate in civic life. For welfare mothers, especially black women, who made up two-thirds of all domestic workers by 1960, it meant watching other women’s children, preparing their food, and scrubbing their floors, services that professional women increasingly relied on as they entered the workforce in greater numbers. The version of welfare reform Bill Clinton envisioned was much more generous than the bill eventually passed by the Republican Congress in 1996. It would have included child-care and job-placement programs — but it would still have required welfare recipients to work. Hillary’s support for the bill reveals the deep fault lines of class and race that fractured the second-wave feminist movement, as white middle-class women purchased their independence from domestic labor by shifting the burden to working-class women of color.

—p.21 The Woman's Party (16) by Namara Smith 7 months, 2 weeks ago
23

In one of her early essays, the political philosopher Nancy Fraser argues that all existing welfare states have foundered on the question of what role to allot women. As long as women perform a disproportionate share of reproductive labor, she claims, redistributive programs based solely on employment will privilege men, even if accompanied by full-employment programs and universal child care. But the alternative — designating primary caregivers as a separate, sheltered class — is no better. Even if caregiver benefits were officially gender-neutral, their recipients would still be disproportionately female, which reinforces the sexual division of labor and leaves women underrepresented in public life. Both choices are bad; neither, as Fraser says, asks men to change.

Fraser’s answer is to propose what she calls a “universal caregiver” model based on the assumption that all workers are also caregivers and all caregivers are also workers. Conceiving a new welfare state based on this model would mean rethinking the length of the workday, socializing child care, decoupling Social Security and health insurance from employment, and returning to the welfare rights movement’s call for a guaranteed minimum income. Above all, it would mean placing feminist insights and concerns at the center, rather than the periphery, of any left politics. If the movement that Sanders’s campaign called into being is going to embody the spirit of a new revolution, this would be a good place to start.

—p.23 The Woman's Party (16) by Namara Smith 7 months, 2 weeks ago

In one of her early essays, the political philosopher Nancy Fraser argues that all existing welfare states have foundered on the question of what role to allot women. As long as women perform a disproportionate share of reproductive labor, she claims, redistributive programs based solely on employment will privilege men, even if accompanied by full-employment programs and universal child care. But the alternative — designating primary caregivers as a separate, sheltered class — is no better. Even if caregiver benefits were officially gender-neutral, their recipients would still be disproportionately female, which reinforces the sexual division of labor and leaves women underrepresented in public life. Both choices are bad; neither, as Fraser says, asks men to change.

Fraser’s answer is to propose what she calls a “universal caregiver” model based on the assumption that all workers are also caregivers and all caregivers are also workers. Conceiving a new welfare state based on this model would mean rethinking the length of the workday, socializing child care, decoupling Social Security and health insurance from employment, and returning to the welfare rights movement’s call for a guaranteed minimum income. Above all, it would mean placing feminist insights and concerns at the center, rather than the periphery, of any left politics. If the movement that Sanders’s campaign called into being is going to embody the spirit of a new revolution, this would be a good place to start.

—p.23 The Woman's Party (16) by Namara Smith 7 months, 2 weeks ago