I knew I needed an urgent rest when I was reading the reviews of the hotel I’ll be staying at in Santo Domingo and instead of “if you can’t stay at this beautiful hotel, at least go and dine there” I read “go and die there.” 

I love the AILFCH conference because it always comes at the time in the semester when I’m completely wiped out and need a rest. 

I’m leaving at 3 am tonight. 

💯 Years

So. The 100th anniversary of the October Revolution. We are all children of that revolution because so much of what we do was defined by it. 

It’s more than probable that the Western capitalism would not have embraced the welfare state and would not have accommodated the wishes of organized labor like it did if it remained completely uncontested by any existing state ideology. This possibility is supported by the retreat of the welfare state and the weakening of labor after the collapse of the Soviet system.

On the other hand, the uncontestable failure of the Soviet alternative makes it very hard for the Left to try to articulate any way forward that lies outside seeking cosmetic changes to the dominant capitalist ideology.

The most enthusiastically pro-capitalist and rabidly Ayn-Randian folks don’t come from Wall Street. They come from the ranks of those who stood in 3-hour lines for toilet paper in the USSR. And this is the greatest testimony to the utter failure of the Soviet system to compete with seductive capitalism. Whether the Left will be able to restore itself from the crushing blow of the Soviet failure remains to be seen. But the number one prerequisite for that is knowing and understanding the legacy of the October Revolution.

At a Loss for Words

Talking about intellectualism, many people on FB have stopped communicating verbally altogether. Their response to anything is a cutesy, flashing picture. In some threads, there are barely any words at all, just flashing tweety birds, smiling bunnies, and pulsating red hearts. After staring at 20 of them in a row you begin to think you are in a crazy circus 

Some folks started banning pictures in their threads, and I don’t blame them. 

How to Create an Intellectual?

Because of the commodification of education, it has become expensive to educate an intellectual.  Because of the decline in basic public education, fewer people are equipped to pursue the education of an intellectual. 

This is utter bonk. This is one of the things money can’t buy, and it’s neoliberal thinking that makes people wonder why they can’t throw a coin into a vending machine and have intellectuals plop out of it. 

For some reason I have never been able to figure out, some people awaken intellectually and become interested in knowledge for its own sake and some don’t. None of the intellectuals I have known come from riches. Some come from outlandish poverty in the literal sense of being from the lands of extreme scarcity. 

Intellectuals aren’t educated, they educate themselves. There is absolutely nothing whatsoever in the education system of this country to prevent anybody who truly wants to learn from doing so. There is no censorship, there is no persecution based on what you read. According to the logic of the linked piece, intellectualism can’t arise anywhere where money isn’t plentiful, and that’s ridiculous.