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Sandwichman



Articles by Sandwichman

Putting the CULTURE back in cultural Marxism

5 days ago

My previous postings on "political correctness" and "cultural Marxism" have from time to time brought inquiries from researchers into the right-wing calumnies against the Frankfurt School. I carry no brief for Herbert Marcuse or Theodore Adorno, although I do have a soft spot for Walter Benjamin, who was not formally a Frankfurter even though he hob-nobbed with them.It so happens that one of my correspondents has written a brief essay defending the conspiracy theory that the Frankfurt School was a bought and paid for tool of the Comintern. The defense hinges on the fact that Frank Brooks Bielanski, who claimed "evidence" that the Institute for Social Research was a Communist front financed from abroad, was "director of investigations" for the O.S.S. and not some random F.B.I. special

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What is Looting?

21 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]“Looting is a natural response to the unnatural and inhuman society of commodity abundance.” — Guy Debord, “The Decline and Fall of the Spectacle-Commodity Economy.” The photograph used in Andy Warhol’s 1964 print, “Race Riot” was taken by Charles Moore and was published in LIFE magazine in May of 1963. Warhol used it without permission […]

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What is Looting?

21 days ago

"Looting is a natural response to the unnatural and inhuman society of commodity abundance." — Guy Debord, “The Decline and Fall of the Spectacle-Commodity Economy.”The photograph used in Andy Warhol’s 1964 print, “Race Riot” was taken by Charles Moore and was published in LIFE magazine in May of 1963. Warhol used it without permission and Moore sued. Eventually there was an out-of-court settlement. The scene depicted was not a "Race Riot" as Warhol’s presumably ironic title claimed. It was a police attack ordered by Police Commissioner "Bull" Connor on a nonviolent demonstration in Birmingham, Alabama.I remember these photos well because they appeared at the dawn of my political awakening. I was 15. The Warhol print sold in 2014 for $62,885,000. I had to stop myself when I started to

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MARX’S PAMPHLETIST: CHARLES WENTWORTH DILKE AND HIS TRACT ON THE SOURCE AND REMEDY OF THE NATIONAL DIFFICULTIES (1821)

August 16, 2020

Giancarlo de Vivo, Contributions to Political Economy, Volume 38, Issue 1, 2019, Pages 59–73,  LINKAbstractThis paper considers a largely unknown pamphlet, originally published anonymously in 1821, and assesses its place in the history of classical and Marxian thinking about value, surplus value and profits. It identifies its author and outlines his career and background in the context of nineteenth-century British politics."The pamphletist is a neglected economist—he is even absent from Seligman’s famous 1903 article "On some neglected British economists," which deals with many of his contemporaries, with the intention of rescuing them from undeserved oblivion. All in all, we can say that the pamphletist, even though not completely forgotten, has not received the attention it [sic]

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From the archives: “The Source and Remedy of the National Difficulties”

August 5, 2020

With a minimum of editing or preface, I am reposting this one from February 2009. Next year will be the bicentennial of the publication this astonishing but undeservedly obscure pamphlet. One "event" that I am conducting to celebrate the anniversary is posting of around 65 questions that I have mined from the text. I hope that there will be others but that sort of depends on gathering a critical mass of audience.  How is it that notwithstanding the unbounded extent of our capital, the progressive improvement and wonderful perfection of our machinery, our canals, roads, and of all other things that can, either facilitate labour, or increase its produce; our labourer, instead of having his labours abridged, toils infinitely more, more hours, more laboriously…?
Published anonymously in

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Stephen Miller’s Racist Fix for Race Relations, Part II

June 11, 2020

In the immigration handbook he wrote for then Alabama Senator Sessions, Stephen Miller cited U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner, Peter Kirsanow, who subsequently was considered by Trump during the transition as a potential nominee for Secretary of Labor. In Kirsanow’s June 4 feature for National Review, Flames from False Narratives, he claimed that Black men are not disproportionately the targets of police violence and that the perception they are is a fabrication perpetrated by Hollywood, the media, academics and politicians.To show that systemic police racism is a myth, Kirsanow presented a list of statistics compiled "from the 2018 National Crime Victimization Survey, Census data, FBI Uniform Crime Reports, and other sources" and cited his dissenting statement 2018 U.S. Commission on

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Stephen Miller’s Racist Fix for Race Relations, Part II

June 11, 2020

In the immigration handbook he wrote for then Alabama Senator Sessions, Stephen Miller cited U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner, Peter Kirsanow, who subsequently was considered by Trump during the transition as a potential nominee for Secretary of Labor. In Kirsanow’s June 4 feature for National Review, Flames from False Narratives, he claimed that Black men are not disproportionately the targets of police violence and that the perception they are is a fabrication perpetrated by Hollywood, the media, academics and politicians.
To show that systemic police racism is a myth, Kirsanow presented a list of statistics compiled “from the 2018 National Crime Victimization Survey, Census data, FBI Uniform Crime Reports, and other sources” and cited his dissenting

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Stephen Miller’s Racist Fix for Race Relations

June 10, 2020

Word is circulating that Stephen Miller is writing Donald Trump’s speech on race relations. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that Trump’s “solution” to the current malaise in the U.S. will involve extending a ban on immigration and expanding enforcement and expulsion of undocumented individuals. This seems like a safe bet to me because Miller really is a one-trick pony and Trump relishes rehashing his greatest hits. Maybe Miller will toss in some “enterprise zones” or other ornamental trivia but the meat will be anti-immigration.
They playbook for this will be Miller’s Immigration Handbook for a New Republican Majority that he wrote for Jeff Sessions in 2015. Footnote 21 of that handbook states that, “Amnesty and uncontrolled immigration

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Stephen Miller’s Racist Fix for Race Relations

June 10, 2020

Word is circulating that Stephen Miller is writing Donald Trump’s speech on race relations. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that Trump’s "solution" to the current malaise in the U.S. will involve extending a ban on immigration and expanding enforcement and expulsion of undocumented individuals. This seems like a safe bet to me because Miller really is a one-trick pony and Trump relishes rehashing his greatest hits. Maybe Miller will toss in some "enterprise zones" or other ornamental trivia but the meat will be anti-immigration.They playbook for this will be Miller’s Immigration Handbook for a New Republican Majority that he wrote for Jeff Sessions in 2015. Footnote 21 of that handbook states that, "Amnesty and uncontrolled immigration disproportionately harms African-American

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Looking Down Right Now

June 6, 2020

“Ryan is looking down right now, and you know that, and he is very happy, because I think he just broke a record.”
“Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that’s happening for our country,”
Trump’s cynical invoking of George Floyd yesterday has a history that explains what he imagined he was doing. In the first week after his inauguration, Trump approved a Navy Seal raid on suspected positions of al Queda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in the village of Yakla in Yemen. His National Security Adviser, General Flynn had portrayed the proposed raid as a “game changer” that would contrast Trump’s toughness with Obama’s supposed indecisiveness.
The raid was a fiasco. AQAP had somehow learned of the impending raid and

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Looking Down Right Now

June 6, 2020

"Ryan is looking down right now, and you know that, and he is very happy, because I think he just broke a record." 

"Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that’s happening for our country,"
Trump’s cynical invoking of George Floyd yesterday has a history that explains what he imagined he was doing. In the first week after his inauguration, Trump approved a Navy Seal raid on suspected positions of al Queda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in the village of Yakla in Yemen. His National Security Adviser, General Flynn had portrayed the proposed raid as a "game changer" that would contrast Trump’s toughness with Obama’s supposed indecisiveness.The raid was a fiasco. AQAP had somehow learned of the impending raid and fortified their positions. Chief Petty

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Four Days On, Ten Days Off

May 17, 2020

A very interesting paper (not peer-reviewed) by a team of Israeli scholars proposes that a more manageable exit from pandemic lockdown might be achieved by implementing a scheme in which employees go in to work for four days and then return to isolation for ten days before repeating the cycle. A variation on the proposal would have two staggered relays of workers cycling through the 14 day routine.
The research has been popularized in a New York Times op-ed and a Fast Company feature, so I would bother to discuss it here in detail. Not being an epidemiologist, I can’t vouch for the authors’ assumptions about average infectiousness. Obviously, implementing such a scheme out of the blue would present formidable challenges even assuming competent political

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Four Days On, Ten Days Off

May 17, 2020

A very interesting paper (not peer-reviewed) by a team of Israeli scholars proposes that a more manageable exit from pandemic lockdown might be achieved by implementing a scheme in which employees go in to work for four days and then return to isolation for ten days before repeating the cycle. A variation on the proposal would have two staggered relays of workers cycling through the 14 day routine.The research has been popularized in a New York Times op-ed and a Fast Company feature, so I would bother to discuss it here in detail. Not being an epidemiologist, I can’t vouch for the authors’ assumptions about average infectiousness. Obviously, implementing such a scheme out of the blue would present formidable challenges even assuming competent political leadership.

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Stairway to Serfdom

April 20, 2020

I posted the above chart four days ago in "From Social Distance to Social Justice" to illustrate Arthur Dahlberg’s argument about the eventual consequences of a declining labor share of income. Dahlberg was inspired by Stephen Leacock’s The Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice and both Leacock and Dahlberg were influenced by Thorsten Veblen.

The chart also illuminates arguments made by Moishe Postone about Marx’s theory of capitalist production. I happen to agree substantially with Postone’s interpretation of Marx even though I find his presentation repetitive and difficult to follow. That is, I think I agree with what I think he was trying to say in Time, Labor and Social Domination. 

What the chart shows is that in spite of a more than threefold increase in productivity over

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From Social Distance to Social Justice: An Unsolved Riddle

April 15, 2020

In the last two weeks of March and the first week of April, 2020 16.5 million new claims for unemployment were filed in the U.S. After the novel coronavirus is successfully contained some but not all of those jobs will return. The post-pandemic economy will not be the same as the economy before and to assume a return to business-as-usual economic growth would be folly.
There will need to be immediate share-the-work policies along with basic income guarantees. These must be viewed not as temporary measures to be abandoned as soon as “normality” returns but as transitional steps toward an entirely new regime of work, income and common wealth. Addressing climate change has momentarily taken a back seat to the urgent immediacy of the pandemic. But the

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From Social Distance to Social Justice: An Unsolved Riddle

April 15, 2020

In the last two weeks of March and the first week of April, 2020 16.5 million new claims for unemployment were filed in the U.S. After the novel coronavirus is successfully contained some but not all of those jobs will return. The post-pandemic economy will not be the same as the economy before and to assume a return to business-as-usual economic growth would be folly.There will need to be immediate share-the-work policies along with basic income guarantees. These must be viewed not as temporary measures to be abandoned as soon as "normality" returns but as transitional steps toward an entirely new regime of work, income and common wealth. Addressing climate change has momentarily taken a back seat to the urgent immediacy of the pandemic. But the irreversible long-term consequences of

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Pandemic Panorama

April 13, 2020

"The helpless fixation on notions of security and property deriving from past decades keeps the average citizen from perceiving the quite remarkable stabilities of an entirely new kind that underlie the present situation." — Walter Benjamin
Vor Dem Maskenball (with updates) — Max Beckmann, 1922
The contemporary relevance of the section titled "Imperial Panorama: A Tour of German Inflation" from Walter Benjamin’s One-Way Street never ceases to astonish me. Yesterday I finally understood what Benjamin meant by "German inflation." I had mistaken it for the name of an event, like "Great Depression" or "World War I" that referred to a monetary phenomenon in the Friedmanite sense of "inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon." I had attributed to it an ironic, metaphorical

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The Hammer and the Dance

March 21, 2020

Ordinarily, I would give some sort of summary of the Big Idea I am referencing. In this case, I will link to the essay, Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance What the Next 18 Months Can Look Like, if Leaders Buy Us Time, by Tomas Pueyo and say you must read it to get what I am talking about. O.K., in simplest terms, Pueyo outlines what is likely to happen with a do-nothing strategy, a mitigation strategy and a third strategy that he calls the "hammer and the dance."Long story short: mitigation won’t cut it.This calls for a climate change paradigm check. The discourse has been all about mitigation for three decades and here we are in 2020 emitting — up to a moment ago — more carbon dioxide than ever. Here’s the good news: our response to Covid-19 is going to cut our carbon dioxide

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How Low Can You Go?

March 11, 2020

This is not a prediction. Only an observation. From 1952 to 1996, U.S. nominal net worth of households and non-profits tracked nominal GDP pretty closely. Net worth remained pretty close to 15 times GDP. That consistent relationship ended after 1997. In the third quarter of 2007, net worth was nearly 20 times GDP but by the second quarter of 2009 it had reverted to just 17 times GDP. One might argue that it was roughly 15 times what trend GDP would have been at that time.
In the second quarter of 2019, net worth was 21 times GDP  or about 28% above the historical norm from 1952 to 1996. To revert to that historical norm would entail a loss of asset valuation of around $32 trillion.

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How Low Can You Go?

March 11, 2020

This is not a prediction. Only an observation. From 1952 to 1996, U.S. nominal net worth of households and non-profits tracked nominal GDP pretty closely. Net worth remained pretty close to 15 times GDP. That consistent relationship ended after 1997. In the third quarter of 2007, net worth was nearly 20 times GDP but by the second quarter of 2009 it had reverted to just 17 times GDP. One might argue that it was roughly 15 times what trend GDP would have been at that time.In the second quarter of 2019, net worth was 21 times GDP  or about 28% above the historical norm from 1952 to 1996. To revert to that historical norm would entail a loss of asset valuation of around $32 trillion.

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A “Wild and Dangerous” Scheme, Part Two: What’s “fixed” got to do with it? Do with it?

March 7, 2020

“…we have seen a calculation… which shows that the fixed charges, for machinery and the general management of a mill, are as nearly as possible equal to the cost of wages in the process.”
In my earlier post on the “Wild and Dangerous Scheme” I teased the “egregious accounting error” committed by the author of the 1844 article in the Economist. In plain terms the error was double counting — the author deducts 16.5% from wages to compensate for a decrease in output and then attributes a second loss of 16.5% to the decrease in output resulting from it’s effect on “fixed charges.”
That double-counting error seems self-evident to me but there is also a semantic smoke screen at play that obscures it for some readers. The term “fixed charges” seems to refer to an

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A “Wild and Dangerous” Scheme, Part Two: What’s “fixed” got to do with it? Do with it?

March 7, 2020

“…we have seen a calculation… which shows that the fixed charges, for machinery and the general management of a mill, are as nearly as possible equal to the cost of wages in the process.”
In my earlier post on the "Wild and Dangerous Scheme" I teased the "egregious accounting error" committed by the author of the 1844 article in the Economist. In plain terms the error was double counting — the author deducts 16.5% from wages to compensate for a decrease in output and then attributes a second loss of 16.5% to the decrease in output resulting from it’s effect on "fixed charges."That double-counting error seems self-evident to me but there is also a semantic smoke screen at play that obscures it for some readers. The term "fixed charges" seems to refer to an immutable absolute quantity of

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A “Wild and Dangerous” Scheme!

March 4, 2020

“…a scheme at once wild and dangerous.”
“…a trick, too, of the clumsiest description…”
I was hunting for the exact location of “Prince’s Tavern” in Manchester in 1833 when I stumbled upon an Economist article from March 30, 1844 addressing the “practical consequences” of  reducing the length of the factory working day from 12 hours to 10. I am always fascinating by the profound and enduring hostility of a faction of employers — amplified by their mouthpieces in academia and the press — to the reduction of working time. I’m amazed how often their bile and zeal leads them to compound the error of biased, unfounded assumptions with boneheaded accounting mistakes. There is nothing so edifying as the sharp-eyed calculation of a businessman who has naught but

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A “Wild and Dangerous” Scheme!

March 4, 2020

"…a scheme at once wild and dangerous."
"…a trick, too, of the clumsiest description…"
I was hunting for the exact location of "Prince’s Tavern" in Manchester in 1833 when I stumbled upon an Economist article from March 30, 1844 addressing the "practical consequences" of  reducing the length of the factory working day from 12 hours to 10. I am always fascinating by the profound and enduring hostility of a faction of employers — amplified by their mouthpieces in academia and the press — to the reduction of working time. I’m amazed how often their bile and zeal leads them to compound the error of biased, unfounded assumptions with boneheaded accounting mistakes. There is nothing so edifying as the sharp-eyed calculation of a businessman who has naught but the most important boon

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Standing on the shoulders of cranks

February 17, 2020

Standing on the shoulders of cranks

I use the term “crank” affectionately. The figure below is a valiant effort by Arthur O. Dahlberg to depict the “socio-economic process” as a network of troughs, pipes and valves. Even this elaborate contraption is confined to “the movement of the major social variables.”

Dahlberg believed that his chart technique communicated his analysis more effectively than words could. What the chart communicates to me, besides Dahlberg’s intense commitment is “it’s complicated” and “everything is connected to everything else.” That’s not nothing.

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