Impotent Markets

The understanding of world affairs that is dominant in the US is very Marxist. I don’t use this word as a term of abuse but strictly in its scholarly sense. Marxism sees the economy as the basis for everything. “At the root of everything that happens lie economic reasons,” say classical Marxists. This is imposible to prove because it’s untrue, so neo-Marxists have modified this rigid adherence to the economic causes of everything.

But the US government is a lot less flexible than even the Marxists who aren’t exactly famous for their openness to new ideas. Every administration since Reagan has conducted its foreign policy in rigidly Marxist terms. Time and again, the US government tries to solve political, military, and cultural problems through economic means. And every single time it fails. Because the economy is important. But it’s not everything.

China didn’t become democratic once it was included in the global economy. Russia didn’t develop anything resembling democratic institutions once its economy was fully neoliberalized. Four decades of economic sanctions didn’t make Iran’s military industry any less of a threat. “Markets” don’t create political institutions. They don’t change totalitarian mentality. They don’t win on the battlefield. They are powerful in many ways but not in every way.

Know Your Arithmetic

I fell behind in the writing I had planned for the academic year, and as a result, will have to spend the summer stressing out about it and trying to catch up.

This was, above all, an error of arithmetic. I always calculate how much I will be able to write based on past performance. But I forgot to take into account that this year I’m writing mostly in Spanish which takes me about 1,5 times longer than writing in English.

I also put in no time allowance for emergencies. And this is precisely the year when every emergency happened. I was counting on the months of March and May, which are usually my heavy writing months, but for obvious reasons I couldn’t work in those months. Plus, I suddenly found myself saddled with a large translation project.

When it’s all done, it will be great. Five publications in very serious places created within a single year. But the process will be stressful and unpleasant when it didn’t need to be.