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

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4

The “investment theory of party competition,” advanced by political scientist Thomas Ferguson, holds that investors exert influence through monetary contributions but also through organizations [...]

[...] The strength of the New Deal, he argues, came from the alliance between labor and the bloc of “capital-intensive industries, investment banks, and internationally oriented commercial banks” that had emerged in the early 20th century. Because these businesses were less labor-intensive than their predecessors, and their profit margins thus less affected by rises in wages, they could “afford” to have a coalition with organized labor as long as they could still advance their goals on trade. This isn’t to say that labor didn’t have a role to play — but wealthy investors played an equal if not bigger role, helping convert FDR and the Democrats to internationalism and free trade. What made the New Deal coalition viable for a time was the uneasy harmony of this bloc.

Ferguson also explains how this bloc dissolved. Conventional arguments tend to point to the failure of organized labor to incorporate “new social movements” into its ranks, or to argue that those social movements were responsible for pushing the party toward “identity politics,” leaving economic justice by the wayside. Centrist Democrats’ preferred explanation for the realignment of the party holds that Americans simply became more conservative during the Carter years, as the working classes fractured over issues like busing and welfare. But this doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. According to polling data, from the time and since, most Americans haven’t moved right at all: for the most part, they supported (and still support) the types of programs advanced by the New Deal.

Investors, however, did not. By the early 1970s, military spending on the Vietnam War had strained the budget, leading to inflation, while growing competition from other strong economies, like Germany and Japan, was putting pressure on American manufacturing. The American economic picture was already profoundly uncertain before the decade’s oil crises struck. The 1973–75 recession — at the time, the worst since the Depression — prompted business leaders to temper wage increases (which meant attacking organized labor) and oppose any tax increases to pay for existing social programs (which would mean reduced spending power for already cash-strapped consumers). The Republican Party was historically the party of balanced budgets, and it was divided on issues of trade. With the rise of Ronald Reagan, however, the party gradually moved toward the magical solution of low taxes and drastically expanded military spending, combined with greater internationalism on trade — this latter move helping to siphon off the free trade bloc that had backed the New Deal. The 1980 Reagan campaign, Ferguson and Rogers write, thus “opened the way for virtually all of American business to mass behind its candidate.”

The Democrats panicked, and left their constituents behind. Over the next decade, they would decide again and again that the only response to the business friendliness of Reaganism was more business friendliness. [...]

—p.4 Party Foul (3) by n+1 11 months, 1 week ago

The “investment theory of party competition,” advanced by political scientist Thomas Ferguson, holds that investors exert influence through monetary contributions but also through organizations [...]

[...] The strength of the New Deal, he argues, came from the alliance between labor and the bloc of “capital-intensive industries, investment banks, and internationally oriented commercial banks” that had emerged in the early 20th century. Because these businesses were less labor-intensive than their predecessors, and their profit margins thus less affected by rises in wages, they could “afford” to have a coalition with organized labor as long as they could still advance their goals on trade. This isn’t to say that labor didn’t have a role to play — but wealthy investors played an equal if not bigger role, helping convert FDR and the Democrats to internationalism and free trade. What made the New Deal coalition viable for a time was the uneasy harmony of this bloc.

Ferguson also explains how this bloc dissolved. Conventional arguments tend to point to the failure of organized labor to incorporate “new social movements” into its ranks, or to argue that those social movements were responsible for pushing the party toward “identity politics,” leaving economic justice by the wayside. Centrist Democrats’ preferred explanation for the realignment of the party holds that Americans simply became more conservative during the Carter years, as the working classes fractured over issues like busing and welfare. But this doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. According to polling data, from the time and since, most Americans haven’t moved right at all: for the most part, they supported (and still support) the types of programs advanced by the New Deal.

Investors, however, did not. By the early 1970s, military spending on the Vietnam War had strained the budget, leading to inflation, while growing competition from other strong economies, like Germany and Japan, was putting pressure on American manufacturing. The American economic picture was already profoundly uncertain before the decade’s oil crises struck. The 1973–75 recession — at the time, the worst since the Depression — prompted business leaders to temper wage increases (which meant attacking organized labor) and oppose any tax increases to pay for existing social programs (which would mean reduced spending power for already cash-strapped consumers). The Republican Party was historically the party of balanced budgets, and it was divided on issues of trade. With the rise of Ronald Reagan, however, the party gradually moved toward the magical solution of low taxes and drastically expanded military spending, combined with greater internationalism on trade — this latter move helping to siphon off the free trade bloc that had backed the New Deal. The 1980 Reagan campaign, Ferguson and Rogers write, thus “opened the way for virtually all of American business to mass behind its candidate.”

The Democrats panicked, and left their constituents behind. Over the next decade, they would decide again and again that the only response to the business friendliness of Reaganism was more business friendliness. [...]

—p.4 Party Foul (3) by n+1 11 months, 1 week ago
12

The war’s complexity makes it difficult to see a viable path forward, but there is a sense in which it would be foolish to think of the conflict as one big Rubik’s cube in need of solving, because the complexity itself is part of the problem — the best thing to do with the Rubik’s cube would be to throw it against a wall. Again and again, countries across and outside the Middle East have decided that escalating the war by military means is justified by whatever little sliver of national interest they feel is at stake. The US, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, China, France, and Britain have all pumped military resources into the conflict, increasing not only the war’s capacity for destructive violence but also its duration. To the extent that it needed to take place at all, it should have been a civil war fought by two sides with limited military resources. Instead, it has turned into a series of extravagantly funded proxy wars across two or three separate axes, none of which has any organic connection to the questions of regime tolerance for political assembly and speech that prompted the conflict in the first place. While it would not be useful to ask nations to stop pursuing their national interests, the ease with which these countries have turned to military means in the pursuit of those interests is shameful. The response required at this late, desperate stage is neither anti-Assad nor anti-ISIS nor even anti-imperialist — it is antiwar.

—p.12 The Syria Catastrophe (11) missing author 11 months, 1 week ago

The war’s complexity makes it difficult to see a viable path forward, but there is a sense in which it would be foolish to think of the conflict as one big Rubik’s cube in need of solving, because the complexity itself is part of the problem — the best thing to do with the Rubik’s cube would be to throw it against a wall. Again and again, countries across and outside the Middle East have decided that escalating the war by military means is justified by whatever little sliver of national interest they feel is at stake. The US, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, China, France, and Britain have all pumped military resources into the conflict, increasing not only the war’s capacity for destructive violence but also its duration. To the extent that it needed to take place at all, it should have been a civil war fought by two sides with limited military resources. Instead, it has turned into a series of extravagantly funded proxy wars across two or three separate axes, none of which has any organic connection to the questions of regime tolerance for political assembly and speech that prompted the conflict in the first place. While it would not be useful to ask nations to stop pursuing their national interests, the ease with which these countries have turned to military means in the pursuit of those interests is shameful. The response required at this late, desperate stage is neither anti-Assad nor anti-ISIS nor even anti-imperialist — it is antiwar.

—p.12 The Syria Catastrophe (11) missing author 11 months, 1 week ago
20

The anti-imperialist analysis of global conflict, in which America is almost always seen as the primary bad actor, is useful and productive, but the Syrian war has exposed its limits. The political interests involved in the war are so complicated and numerous that even if the US government were persuaded to abandon the pursuit of any of its ambitions in the Middle East, the war would likely continue unabated. Only an international effort to set aside those interests, to remoralize the discussion around war and acknowledge that wars are atrocities by definition, will produce a solution. What’s needed is not an anti-imperialist analysis but an antimilitarist one. Fortunately, antimilitarism is an authentically internationalist stance, for the simple reason that war is equally bad for everyone on the receiving end of it.

—p.20 Democracy Without the People (20) by Thea Riofrancos 11 months, 1 week ago

The anti-imperialist analysis of global conflict, in which America is almost always seen as the primary bad actor, is useful and productive, but the Syrian war has exposed its limits. The political interests involved in the war are so complicated and numerous that even if the US government were persuaded to abandon the pursuit of any of its ambitions in the Middle East, the war would likely continue unabated. Only an international effort to set aside those interests, to remoralize the discussion around war and acknowledge that wars are atrocities by definition, will produce a solution. What’s needed is not an anti-imperialist analysis but an antimilitarist one. Fortunately, antimilitarism is an authentically internationalist stance, for the simple reason that war is equally bad for everyone on the receiving end of it.

—p.20 Democracy Without the People (20) by Thea Riofrancos 11 months, 1 week ago
22

The Trump Administration obviously poses serious threats to pluralism and to democracy in the more substantive sense. But Trump’s means of threatening democracy are features of the system, not contraventions of it. His executive orders do undermine substantive democracy, but not because they upset a delicate balance of power among branches of government or partisan political forces. The “bipartisan consensus” cast as the moral backbone of democracy has vested in the presidency inordinate war-making and surveillance powers hidden from public scrutiny and unchecked by democratic debate or accountability. From the war on terror to the deportation pipeline, from domestic spying to Wall Street’s guaranteed seat at the economic-advising table, Trump inherits a branch of government already well equipped to undermine democracy. The President and his crack squad of billionaires and white nationalists will undoubtedly turn these tools to devastating effect, as they already have. However, our critique of Trump — and our determined political resistance to Trumpism — should not rest on mourning a democracy we have never really achieved.

—p.22 Democracy Without the People (20) by Thea Riofrancos 11 months, 1 week ago

The Trump Administration obviously poses serious threats to pluralism and to democracy in the more substantive sense. But Trump’s means of threatening democracy are features of the system, not contraventions of it. His executive orders do undermine substantive democracy, but not because they upset a delicate balance of power among branches of government or partisan political forces. The “bipartisan consensus” cast as the moral backbone of democracy has vested in the presidency inordinate war-making and surveillance powers hidden from public scrutiny and unchecked by democratic debate or accountability. From the war on terror to the deportation pipeline, from domestic spying to Wall Street’s guaranteed seat at the economic-advising table, Trump inherits a branch of government already well equipped to undermine democracy. The President and his crack squad of billionaires and white nationalists will undoubtedly turn these tools to devastating effect, as they already have. However, our critique of Trump — and our determined political resistance to Trumpism — should not rest on mourning a democracy we have never really achieved.

—p.22 Democracy Without the People (20) by Thea Riofrancos 11 months, 1 week ago
23

Since the rise of “formal” democracy, populism has dogged it like a shadow, dramatizing, as political scientist Laura Grattan argues, a general paradox of democratic politics. “The people” ostensibly govern themselves in a democracy — but who are “the people”? As Rousseau put it, for a people to self-govern, “the effect would have to become the cause”; the people both constitute democratic institutions and are constituted by them. Democracy is in many ways an ongoing political contest to define the people and their powers. By making claims about the identity of the people and how they enact their political power, populist movements and leaders on both the left and the right confront this fundamental problem of democracy. Their answers, however — how they define “the people” and their prescriptions for democratic practice — could not be more opposed.

Populism can shore up exclusionary visions of the people. But it can also do the opposite, fostering unlikely alliances between marginalized groups. The emancipatory potential of populism relies on the political construction of a “social bloc of the oppressed,” as philosopher Enrique Dussel has argued, drawing on Gramsci and Laclau. Left-wing populism exposes class antagonisms; right-wing populism obscures them, replacing them with cultural chauvinism, xenophobia, and racism. Where left-wing populism contests inequality, right-wing populism redistributes it — making certain kinds of inequality seem not only acceptable but natural.

—p.23 Democracy Without the People (20) by Thea Riofrancos 11 months, 1 week ago

Since the rise of “formal” democracy, populism has dogged it like a shadow, dramatizing, as political scientist Laura Grattan argues, a general paradox of democratic politics. “The people” ostensibly govern themselves in a democracy — but who are “the people”? As Rousseau put it, for a people to self-govern, “the effect would have to become the cause”; the people both constitute democratic institutions and are constituted by them. Democracy is in many ways an ongoing political contest to define the people and their powers. By making claims about the identity of the people and how they enact their political power, populist movements and leaders on both the left and the right confront this fundamental problem of democracy. Their answers, however — how they define “the people” and their prescriptions for democratic practice — could not be more opposed.

Populism can shore up exclusionary visions of the people. But it can also do the opposite, fostering unlikely alliances between marginalized groups. The emancipatory potential of populism relies on the political construction of a “social bloc of the oppressed,” as philosopher Enrique Dussel has argued, drawing on Gramsci and Laclau. Left-wing populism exposes class antagonisms; right-wing populism obscures them, replacing them with cultural chauvinism, xenophobia, and racism. Where left-wing populism contests inequality, right-wing populism redistributes it — making certain kinds of inequality seem not only acceptable but natural.

—p.23 Democracy Without the People (20) by Thea Riofrancos 11 months, 1 week ago
60

MY GRANDMOTHER CAME BACK two years later. I was in middle school, and my pathetic puberty struck like a flash of lightning in the middle of the night — I suddenly saw all my surroundings for what they were: hideous and threatening. I had no friends, social life, interests, talents, breasts, straight teeth, likability, normal clothes, or charm, and every day I came home weighed down with dread. I started to fake illnesses so I could stay home with my 2-year-old brother. I followed him around everywhere, crawling when he crawled and walking on my knees when he learned to walk so that we were the same height.

relatable

—p.60 Why Were They Throwing Bricks? (57) by Jenny Zhang 11 months, 1 week ago

MY GRANDMOTHER CAME BACK two years later. I was in middle school, and my pathetic puberty struck like a flash of lightning in the middle of the night — I suddenly saw all my surroundings for what they were: hideous and threatening. I had no friends, social life, interests, talents, breasts, straight teeth, likability, normal clothes, or charm, and every day I came home weighed down with dread. I started to fake illnesses so I could stay home with my 2-year-old brother. I followed him around everywhere, crawling when he crawled and walking on my knees when he learned to walk so that we were the same height.

relatable

—p.60 Why Were They Throwing Bricks? (57) by Jenny Zhang 11 months, 1 week ago
63

My brother cried on the weekends when my grandmother went to work at a factory where she folded dumplings for five cents apiece. Most of the other workers could do only fifty an hour, and when the owner noticed my grandmother typically clocked in at a hundred and was teaching her trade secrets to the other ladies during their fifteen-minute lunch break, he instituted “quality control” rules, mandating a certain amount of flour on each dumpling and folds at the edge between 0.4 and 0.6 centimeters. My grandmother pointed out that he was arbitrarily docking pay for “unfit dumplings” without any real inspection, and all the dumplings she folded, including the unacceptable ones, were thrown into the same freezer bags, and that was exploitative. She persuaded the other workers to collectively demand back pay for all the rejected dumplings, and even organized a walkout one morning for higher wages. “Six cents a dumpling!” they chanted. The owner caved, and that day my grandmother came home pumping her fists like she was at a pep rally. Listening to her recount the day’s victory, even I had to admit that she’d done a great thing.

damn

—p.63 Why Were They Throwing Bricks? (57) by Jenny Zhang 11 months, 1 week ago

My brother cried on the weekends when my grandmother went to work at a factory where she folded dumplings for five cents apiece. Most of the other workers could do only fifty an hour, and when the owner noticed my grandmother typically clocked in at a hundred and was teaching her trade secrets to the other ladies during their fifteen-minute lunch break, he instituted “quality control” rules, mandating a certain amount of flour on each dumpling and folds at the edge between 0.4 and 0.6 centimeters. My grandmother pointed out that he was arbitrarily docking pay for “unfit dumplings” without any real inspection, and all the dumplings she folded, including the unacceptable ones, were thrown into the same freezer bags, and that was exploitative. She persuaded the other workers to collectively demand back pay for all the rejected dumplings, and even organized a walkout one morning for higher wages. “Six cents a dumpling!” they chanted. The owner caved, and that day my grandmother came home pumping her fists like she was at a pep rally. Listening to her recount the day’s victory, even I had to admit that she’d done a great thing.

damn

—p.63 Why Were They Throwing Bricks? (57) by Jenny Zhang 11 months, 1 week ago
69

All of her was laid bare now — I saw her. She was just an old woman, raised in the country without education, who’d been told as a girl that women had been put on this earth to give birth and rear children and not be a burden in any way but to live as servants lived, productively, without fatigue or requirements of their own, yet had been resourceful and clever enough to come up through the feminist movement that Mao had devised to get women out of the house and into fields and factories, who had been given more power than any of the women in her lineage, who alluded to all the people she “saved” but never the people she turned in during the Cultural Revolution, whose hearing loss fed her fears of becoming useless, and who to counter those fears adopted a confidence that was embarrassing to witness, an opinion of herself so excessively high that it bordered on delusional. She tried to make her children believe they would perish without her, and when they learned better she tried the same with her grandchildren. But we were learning better, too, and it would be years before we had our own children, and by then she would be dead. My grandmother’s unwillingness to be a victim was both pathetic and impressive, and she deserved compassion. But fuck, why did she have to be so greedy for it? It repulsed me that she wanted my brother and me to love her more than we loved our own parents, more than we loved each other, more even than we loved ourselves.

damn this is brutal (sad)

—p.69 Why Were They Throwing Bricks? (57) by Jenny Zhang 11 months, 1 week ago

All of her was laid bare now — I saw her. She was just an old woman, raised in the country without education, who’d been told as a girl that women had been put on this earth to give birth and rear children and not be a burden in any way but to live as servants lived, productively, without fatigue or requirements of their own, yet had been resourceful and clever enough to come up through the feminist movement that Mao had devised to get women out of the house and into fields and factories, who had been given more power than any of the women in her lineage, who alluded to all the people she “saved” but never the people she turned in during the Cultural Revolution, whose hearing loss fed her fears of becoming useless, and who to counter those fears adopted a confidence that was embarrassing to witness, an opinion of herself so excessively high that it bordered on delusional. She tried to make her children believe they would perish without her, and when they learned better she tried the same with her grandchildren. But we were learning better, too, and it would be years before we had our own children, and by then she would be dead. My grandmother’s unwillingness to be a victim was both pathetic and impressive, and she deserved compassion. But fuck, why did she have to be so greedy for it? It repulsed me that she wanted my brother and me to love her more than we loved our own parents, more than we loved each other, more even than we loved ourselves.

damn this is brutal (sad)

—p.69 Why Were They Throwing Bricks? (57) by Jenny Zhang 11 months, 1 week ago
72

“Mother,” she said, as she jumped on the trampoline. “Mother, I didn’t want to leave you, but I had to go with Father into the mountains. Mother, you told me to take care of my brother and I let him fight and he lost his legs. Mother, I let you down. Mother, you said you wanted to die in my arms and instead I watched our house burn with you inside as I fled to the mountains. I told Father I wanted to get off the horse and die with you and he gripped me to his chest and would not let me get down. Mother, I would have died with you, but you told me to go. I should not have gone.”

I took a step toward her. Her eyes were open but they did not see me. In the dark, I thought I would always remember this night and be profoundly altered by having seen her this way. But it was like one of those dreams where you think to yourself while the dream is happening that you must remember the dream when you wake — that if you remember this dream, it will unlock secrets to your life that will otherwise be permanently closed — but when you wake up, the only thing you can remember is telling yourself to remember it. And after trying to conjure up details and images and coming up blank, you think, Oh well, it was probably stupid anyway, and you go on with your life, and you learn nothing, and you don’t change at all.

aaah this made ms cry

—p.72 Why Were They Throwing Bricks? (57) by Jenny Zhang 11 months, 1 week ago

“Mother,” she said, as she jumped on the trampoline. “Mother, I didn’t want to leave you, but I had to go with Father into the mountains. Mother, you told me to take care of my brother and I let him fight and he lost his legs. Mother, I let you down. Mother, you said you wanted to die in my arms and instead I watched our house burn with you inside as I fled to the mountains. I told Father I wanted to get off the horse and die with you and he gripped me to his chest and would not let me get down. Mother, I would have died with you, but you told me to go. I should not have gone.”

I took a step toward her. Her eyes were open but they did not see me. In the dark, I thought I would always remember this night and be profoundly altered by having seen her this way. But it was like one of those dreams where you think to yourself while the dream is happening that you must remember the dream when you wake — that if you remember this dream, it will unlock secrets to your life that will otherwise be permanently closed — but when you wake up, the only thing you can remember is telling yourself to remember it. And after trying to conjure up details and images and coming up blank, you think, Oh well, it was probably stupid anyway, and you go on with your life, and you learn nothing, and you don’t change at all.

aaah this made ms cry

—p.72 Why Were They Throwing Bricks? (57) by Jenny Zhang 11 months, 1 week ago
76

I FIRST READ KURZWEIL’S 1999 book, The Age of Spiritual Machines, in 2006, a few years after I dropped out of Bible school and stopped believing in God. I was living alone in Chicago’s southern industrial sector and working nights as a cocktail waitress. I was not well. Beyond the people I worked with, I spoke to almost no one. I clocked out at three each morning, went to after-hours bars, and came home on the first train of the morning, my head pressed against the window so as to avoid the specter of my reflection appearing and disappearing in the blackened glass. When I was not working, or drinking, time slipped away from me. The hours before my shifts were a wash of benzo breakfasts and listless afternoons spent at the kitchen window, watching seagulls circle the landfill and men hustling dollys up and down the docks of an electrical plant.

fuck this is beautiful

—p.76 Ghost in the Cloud (75) by Meghan O'Gieblyn 11 months, 1 week ago

I FIRST READ KURZWEIL’S 1999 book, The Age of Spiritual Machines, in 2006, a few years after I dropped out of Bible school and stopped believing in God. I was living alone in Chicago’s southern industrial sector and working nights as a cocktail waitress. I was not well. Beyond the people I worked with, I spoke to almost no one. I clocked out at three each morning, went to after-hours bars, and came home on the first train of the morning, my head pressed against the window so as to avoid the specter of my reflection appearing and disappearing in the blackened glass. When I was not working, or drinking, time slipped away from me. The hours before my shifts were a wash of benzo breakfasts and listless afternoons spent at the kitchen window, watching seagulls circle the landfill and men hustling dollys up and down the docks of an electrical plant.

fuck this is beautiful

—p.76 Ghost in the Cloud (75) by Meghan O'Gieblyn 11 months, 1 week ago