Review of Value and Crisis by Alfredo Saad-Filho

Link to a review by Fabian Van Onzen of the book Value and Crisis: Essays on Labour, Money and Contemporary Capitalism (2019) by Alfredo Saad-Filho:

Review of Value and Crisis

 

Bonus links: Review of Making Money and “How Decades of Neoliberalism Led to the Era of Right-Wing Populism” (this article reviews another book on the same topic but is rather questionably historicist, though it is absolutely correct to note that “all policies — whether statist or neoliberal — are normative”)

Slavoj Žižek Quote About the Suffering of Others

Quote by Slavoj Žižek from “Margaret Atwood’s Work Illustrates Our Need to Enjoy Other People’s Pain”:

“In his Summa Theologica, philosopher Thomas Aquinas concludes that the blessed in the kingdom of heaven will see the punishments of the damned in order that their bliss be more delightful for them. Aquinas, of course, takes care to avoid the obscene implication that good souls in heaven can find pleasure in observing the terrible suffering of other souls, because good Christians should feel pity when they see suffering. So, will the blessed in heaven also feel pity for the torments of the damned? Aquinas’s answer is no: not because they directly enjoy seeing suffering, but because they enjoy the exercise of divine justice.

“But what if enjoying divine justice is the rationalisation, the moral cover-up, for sadistically enjoying the neighbour’s eternal suffering? What makes Aquinas’s formulation suspicious is the surplus enjoyment watching the pain of others secretly introduces: as if the simple pleasure of living in the bliss of heaven is not enough, and has to be supplemented by the enjoyment of being allowed to take a look at another’s suffering – only in this way, the blessed souls ‘may enjoy their beatitude more thoroughly’.

***

“In short, the sight of the other’s suffering is the obscure cause of desire which sustains our own happiness (bliss in heaven) – if we take it away, our bliss appears in all its sterile stupidity.”

Julian Paul Merrill – The Fresh Prince of Wakanda

Link to an article by Julian Paul Merrill:

“The Fresh Prince of Wakanda – a Žižekian Analysis of Black America and Identity Politics”

 

This is a great analysis of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air!

 

Bonus links: “Quasi Duo Fantasias: A Straussian Reading of ‘Black Panther'” and Review of Black Panther

Edgar Cabanas & Eva Illouz – Against Happiness

Link to an interview with Edgar Cabanas & Eva Illouz, conducted by David Broder, regarding their book Manufacturing Happy Citizens: How the Science and Industry of Happiness Control our Lives (2019):

“Against Happiness”

 

Bonus link: “In the Name of Love” and “Žižek!” and “Why Be Happy When You Could Be Interesting?”

Jacques Pauwels – The Hitler-Stalin Pact of August 23, 1939

Link to an article by Jacques Pauwels:

“The Hitler-Stalin Pact of August 23, 1939: Myth and Reality”

 

This article makes some dubious assertions about the USSR, namely that Stalin knew approximately when Hitler would invade the USSR (when actually Stalin was paralyzed with shock and indecision — see Moshe Lewin’s The Soviet Century) and that the Red Army was knowledgeable and ready, when it suffered a defeat at the hands of tiny Finland and was greatly weakened by Stalin’s purges (again see Lewin’s book).  But the parts about appeasement by Western powers is good.

Gilberto/ Veloso / Gil / Bethânia – Brasil | Review

Brasil

João Gilberto, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil & Maria BethâniaBrasil Philips 6328 382 (1981)


There is an old observation that the (western) musical stars of the 1950s and 60s often struggled for relevance in the 1980s.  Bo Diddley, Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan…these aging stars may have retained some popularity but their work in the 80s is generally critically reviled — and they were definitely less popular and less commercially successful than before.  But why?  My own view is that these changing perceptions and fortunes rested on wider changes in the sociopolitical context, namely the ascendancy of neoliberalism as represented by a shift in a balance of power between labor and capital that undermined the relative power of these stars’ old audiences bases.  At least, all this makes perfect sense when looking at the United States, where those older popular music stars were once associated with revolutionary and iconoclastic new ideas that challenged establishment power.  What about Brazil though?  Brazil was ruled by a reactionary military junta from 1969 to 1985.  Every one of the top billed musicians on this collaborative album Brasil was associated with the (intellectual/middle class) political left — Veloso and Gil were jailed and/or exiled by the junta for a time and Gilberto went into self-imposed exile too.  But by the 1980s, the junta was fading and its power loosening.  In other words, the sociopolitical climate in Brazil was changing in a manner directly opposite to the United States.  No doubt, the junta still held power in 1981 and, in a way, Brazil was changing in order to converge and collaborate with the neoliberal Washington Consensus.  But the sociopolitical vectors here were nonetheless in opposite directions.  This was much like the situation in Spain with the decline of the fascist Franco regime.  So comparisons to, say, the Spanish flamenco artist El Camarón de la Isla are apropos.  New opportunities were presenting themselves in Brazil and Spain that instead seemed to be becoming foreclosed in the United States.

Brasil is a collection of collaborative recordings that speak to a sort of traditional pop sensibility but with a modern (leftist) twist.  Most of the artists here were already starting to drift into irrelevancy, except for João Gilberto who maintained a quite isolated independence and made some of his very best recordings in the coming years.  The problem was also that in the absence of the junta these artists mostly just accommodated themselves to neoliberal imperatives and their music was accordingly listless and vapid, though sometimes adequately mediocre.  But on Brasil there is a spark of challenge.  There is a sense of courage in making a limited yet persistent challenge to the ideology of the reactionary junta.  As someone later said about Greece decades later, “To persist in such a difficult situation and not to leave the field is true courage.”  This album represents a unique historical juncture when challenges to the junta’s regime had potential, and this album reflects those possibilities.  Sure, it occasionally drifts into regrettable synthesized production treatments so common of the day, but only slightly and not to much overall detriment.  The subversive aspect of this album is, unusually, its laid-back demeanor, which instills both a sense of introverted, existential anxiety and a relaxed charm that suggests social changes will still offer an environment that is enjoyable.  It also melds the old and the new in a way that has a high degree of difficulty.

Intan Suwandi – Outsourcing Exploitation

Link to an article by Intan Suwandi:

“Outsourcing Exploitation: Global Labor-Value Chains”

The key seems to be that, at a minimum, contracting with outsourced suppliers on terms that are (objectively) unreasonable should force the large contracting party to bear responsibility for foreseeable problems.  Suwandi’s article nails the problem, though this article provides only a cursory explanation of why Global South suppliers would agree to such an arrangement, something that others have explained more fully:   Slavoj Žižek Quote About Domination, “Multiculturalism, or, the Cultural Logic of Multinational Capitalism”, Ruy Mauro Marini‘s “Brazilian ‘Interdependence’ and Imperialist Integration” (“sub-imperialism” involves peripheral economies collaborating actively with the imperialist expansion of core economies like the United States, assuming in that expansion the position of a key nation), “Malcolm Describes the Difference Between the ‘House Negro’ and the ‘Field Negro.’”.  See also The Fissured Workplace