Personal Reflection on Immigration and America

Me with my grandmother

Since I’ve started throwing out and packing my possessions to prepare for my move overseas, I’ve been thinking a lot of my Grandparents.

They came from the desirable countries. From Denmark and Russia. Neither side had any grasp of English before they first set foot on American soil. Neither side had anything other than pluck and their trades and a small bit of savings tucked away to make their way in the New World. They adapted to their environs, raised families and by most accounts flourished – but does that mean that they ever really became Americans?

By mere merit of my birth within territorial borders, does that really make me an American or is there something else that I should look to? I’d venture yes, I’m an American, but not for the reasons you think.

Despite excitement of days off school, the grandeur of fireworks, and the pleasant fictions told to children about: Independence; Noble Savages living in Peace with Entrepreneurial White Settlers; Supremely Ethical Founding Fathers; Dead soldiers fighting Worthy Wars abroad and Dead Leaders fighting Worthy Wars at home – my fondest memories as a boy never revolved around National Holidays and their accompanying spectacles of obeisance and foods that encourage obeseness. Instead I remember with vivid precision the energy and joy the different brought to religions and cultural costumes and practices of my Grandparents.

Though I can’t speak Danish or Yiddish, hearing my grandparents speak bilingually and participating in these ceremonies as a child deeply affected me. Joy, of course. But also alienation. On both sides, I felt like I’d lost something that had been for a long line unbroken in my family. I felt like it weighted on me. All the more so as I was the fruit of a union between what once were families of award winning pig farming Epicureans and solemn Orthodox Rabbis.

I remember their warm laps and doting attention to the millions of questions I had about their stories, their struggles. Each side shared stories about outbreaks of state-sponsored violence around them. They weren’t happy as it was some long-time dream to sever ties with all that one’s ever known and go to a strange land with better opportunities, but because the conditions which for generations had once allowed their forebears to sustain family life and line so deteriorated.

Now joining the demographic pool of the 8.5 million people born in American living abroad, I can’t help but think of my grandparents own voyage to a new world.

Their struggles are on my mind as while the forces which motivated them to pack up their things and leave is quite different in tenor, the violence of primitive dispossession is similar in effect to that enacted in the various markets in which people make their day to day way in the world. The opportunities for “good living” in the United States are rapidly disappearing and will continue to deteriorate further.

I say this not to invoke the rhetoric of disaster now popular because the most apt embodiment of the venality and corruption that is the American Ruling Class sits in the White House. No, Trump is but a symbol, a symptom of a deeper systemic illness rather than some special case. I say this as I’ve reviewed the metrics and can reasonably foresee that to have the family life like my grandparents aspired to, I would have to work myself to death so many of my compatriots do.

If America was once great for letting my grandparents in – those that were fleeing from violence – then it’s not now. In fact it’s reasonable to say that America is the opposite of great since its actions and those of its allies forcefully displace millions.

Defining America’s greatness as the people and energy that composed it – the courageousness of some to brave the acclimation process to a foreign culture, a foreign language, foreign business environments – then the Great Land that was once America is now outside its borders. In fact it’s reasonable to say that America is the opposite of great since those which direct the state openly display xenophobia and ahistorical cultural chauvinism – the same trends in different form which helped form my Grandparents decision to leave.

Were we to look to the ability of people to raise family and enough capital to live a good life as the basis for greatness, we’d see that the conditions today are quite different from then. The institutional embodiment of America, the political organization of the ruling class, Federal and State governments since the 70s have worked to erase the human face of what was always an oligarchy.

As I think about leaving the land that is America to live what I see as the noble ethos of America – meaning bravery to place oneself in uncomfortable situations to personally and professional develop and not the flipside of that spirit, the ignoble ethos which dispossessed natives, engaged in the slave economy and constructed a legal system and press thatjustified these and other injustices – I also cannot help but think of the life and work of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. It is January 15th, after all, and while it wasn’t my intention to leave on such a date it does seem appropriate.

A year to the day before his assassination, King said something that had his contemporaries listened to and acted upon would have drastically changed the current shape of America:

“Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.”

Had the people of King’s time been more attuned to the long-term truth and acted with vigor to excise these qualities from the economy, from society, from the culture rather than fighting for their minor advantages I might feel better about staying. But they did not, and so I do not, and so I go – just like my amazingly brave Grandparents, on to greener pastures.

Real News on Fake Amazon Reviews

A Case Study of Commodity Fetishism in the Age of Communicative Capitalism

Amazon has a serious problem with fake reviews populating their website. So much so that Forbes, NYMag, NYPostC|Net, and Fortune are all writing about it.

After reviewing findings from data-based research by Ming Ooi, one of the co-founders of Fakespot, he offers this blunt assessment of Amazon’s reviews ecosystem: “About 40 percent of reviews we see on Amazon are unreliable.”

This video also goes details the issue:

In this blog post I’m going to examine to distinct types of fake reviews, examine it’s commercial and political effects and then outline how it is that Amazon should be handling them.

Why go through the work of explaining this?

For one, as someone that has almost 150 book reviews on their website as a means of monetization, I find sending referral traffic to a website with a consumer rating function that has been hijacked by marketers to be highly unethical.

Secondly, I find the unresponsiveness of Amazon to taking simple steps to prevent this to be reflective of a corporate environment that

Let me give you two case study examples of products that I’ve recently come across that illustrate what I mean.

Freewrite: The Juicero of Word Processing

I use the same computer for word processing as I do for my marketing business, I know how susceptible to distraction the various alerts I have set up and immediate access to the internet can be. Thus when I first saw the Kickstarter ad for the Freewrite I was interested. I clicked the sponsored post in my Facebook feed, and began to read their promotional literature. As I did, my initial excitement on a new tool faded on learning of it’s features and price.

Unlike others that have written negative reviews of the product after using it, I could tell without even investing $550 into it that it was, quoting Mashable, pretentious hipster nonsense.

Identifying Fake Amazon Reviews

Leading up to Christmas, I started to see ads announcing that the second generation of the product had been released. Hopeful at first that maybe they’d changed their product to address what I and others saw as flaws in it’s features, I was disappointed to learn that they hadn’t. And I was also confused. Fully aware that my preferences aren’t universal, I still surprised at the high number of gushing customer review ratings on Amazon.

When I started to dig deeper I noticed a number of abnormalities in those people that were reviewing it. For one, you’ll notice that a large number of the 5 star reviews are all written by people that have only ever reviewed one product: The FreeWrite.

I didn’t take screenshots of them all, but if you look at some of the other reviews you’ll notice that a lot of them also have only one or two reviews for items that were written years ago.

31 of the 42 reviews, or 74% of the 5 star reviews for FreeWrite all occur within a nine day period – between November 21st and November 30th 2016. Here’s the data from Amazon that I collected should you want to review the numbers yourself. Many of them have a length and style that is directly mirrors FreeWrite’s own marketing material and at least two reviews come from those that were incentivized to write it based upon being given the product for free. Why else, after all, would someone write a 2,300 word review of it?

Marketing Authenticity Whilst Acting Suspiciously

Despite what their video would have you believe, Stephen King DOES NOT endorse FreeWrite

Above I said that FreeWrite is like the Juicero. How so? Well, they both created much hyped, over-priced products that poorly deliver on their promises. Like Douglas Evans, founder of Juicero, they then moved on to another project that is at it’s core, well, ridiculous.

Evans is now marketing the unproven benefits of the dubiously named raw water he sells while AstroHaus tried to bring to market ClapBoss – a device that mandates you spend money and time programming a device that you can just as easily do without. It wasn’t just schadenfreude that made me happy to see that this project didn’t get funded, but a deep and genuine disdain for marketing language that mobilizes concepts such as “Freedom” and “Control Over Your Life” to encourages people to buy products such as these. I’d go so far as to venture that any person that would prefer a $550 FreeWrite to $510 dollars worth of books and some notebooks and pen or word processing software like Scrivener aren’t real writers. That said, let me add I’ve never used Scrivener, I wasn’t paid to point this out and that if you ascribe to a historical materialist view of the world you’ll notice a troubling paradox in the reviews of products that could actually lead to freedom and control over your life.

Financial Incentive Not Sole Factor For Fake Reviews

As a subject area expert, George Ciccariello-Maher frequently writes, lectures and speaks on the subject of Venezuela and American political economy. One of my favorite history books of the past several years, in fact, was We Created Chavez by GCM. In my review of the book I favorably compared it’s prose to that found in C. L. R. James’ work on the Haitian Revolution The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution, a historian that’s quoted several times in the book.

Full disclosure, thought we’ve never met – we did both present research at the 2013 Rethinking Marxism: Surplus, Solidarity and Sufficiency 2013 Conference at UMASS Amherst – me critically defending the democratically elected government of Venezuela and Bolivarianism, he on decolonizing dialectics.

For those familiar with American history and political economy and that aren’t white nationalists, the tweets for which he received negative press was funny, neigh, hilarious. Those that didn’t like it – which was much of the commentariat – didn’t get it and thus misrepresented views. In an interview GCM gave with The Inquirer, he explains as follows (Link to BET’s coverage of the State Farm Insurance tweet added by me):

“On Christmas Eve, I sent a satirical tweet about an imaginary concept, ‘white genocide,'” For those who haven’t bothered to do their research, ‘white genocide’ is an idea invented by white supremacists and used to denounce everything from interracial relationships to multicultural policies (and most recently, against a tweet by State Farm Insurance). It is a figment of the racist imagination, it should be mocked, and I’m glad to have mocked it.”

Historical Ignorance and Revisionism in Amazon Reviews

Following this the White Nationalist press got upset and mobilized their base, which also happens to have intersectional affinities with Venezuelans in Miami. The above screen shot shows how Google searches for “White Genocide” and “George Ciccariello-Maher” both peaked following his tweet going viral.

The ramifications of the Tweet wasn’t just Google searches, however, but a campaign of harassment and death threats that lead to GCM being placed on leave and an attempt at delegitimizing his academic work via the means that most used online means of commerce in America – Amazon.

Amazon Reviews and The World Turned Inside Out

The above Amazon user yentl’s sole contributions to Amazon are typical of others like it in level of insight and engagement following the uproar over two tweets by GCM. In fact, the seven reviews by yentl shown above are all for books written, translated or co-edited by George Ciccariello-Maher and are all the same – “It makes me want to Vomit!”. Similar depth of insight and engagement with the text abounds in other reviews.

I didn’t take the time to go through all of his books on Amazon, but it’s worth noting that 42 of the 63 review for We Created Chavez occur within a one week period in March of 2017 and a 3 day period in December of 2016. For those that want to check my methods, feel free to review this data sheet I made.

Amazon and Authentic Reviews

With these two cases in mind, it’s easy to see that the majority of positive reviews are done from financial motivation and those that are negative are ideological in origin. It’s also easy to see how Amazon can help prevent these sorts of false distortions of reality from being considered real.

For one monitoring negative or positive spikes in reviews and flagging them for review prior to publication.

Secondly Amazon needs to take Abuse Reports seriously. I’ve reported a number of reviews that are clearly either spam or ideologically motivated only to see that several days, weeks, months later that they remain online as a genuine “experience” of the product.

Since Amazon claims they want to be the brand of Customer Experience, they need to address this. Now. While the tenor of political discourse is no where near as bad as it is elsewhere, there needs to be a greater degree of vigilance to ensure honest communication about the merits of products and worldview. What’s at stake here isn’t just about whether or not someone chooses to buy something – but the need to be vigilant towards a platform with “democratic aspirations” from inadvertently  promoting the widening and deepening of false consciousness.

New Biography of Lucy Parsons Released

The New York Times now has an interview up now with the author of the book Goddess of Anarchy: The Life and Times of Lucy Parsons, American Radical in their book sections.

I’ve not read much about her besides her character’s speeches in Martin Duberman’s novel Haymarket, but from Jacquelin Jones description of her as a historic person:

“She was very well known throughout the United States, especially when she began to launch her own speaking tours in 1886, when her husband was in prison. Her name was really a household word. She was never happier than speaking in front of large crowds, riling them up. Her politics were very radical, quite outside the mainstream — then and today. But workers loved her rhetoric. She condemned the employers, the capitalist machine, the corrupt two-party system. She knew that undercover detectives covered every one of her speeches.”

she seems like someone worth getting to know more about.

What Computers May Soon Uncover About The Creative Process of Writers

I began my survey of the business potential of  text mining applications after  undertaking market research for a several part series of onsite content blogs. My focus began in the APIs have vast applications in the biomedical field achieved through text mining. Text mining is two words with limits in a way really only limited by language itself. For a creative like myself, I was fascinated with it’s potential and dug as deep as a week of reading got me into the literature. Ranging from the identification of novel drug targets; the identification of the names of drug gang targets in novels; the target names of novel drug use reporting techniques; the potential novel drug functions; parsing specific types of standardized and tested data points in order to determine better models of interactions between the millions of bodily interactions to understand… well things that were never ever possible before. Simply put: the increasing availability of digital medical literature and patient databases means in a way that while the machines can’t “learn” medicine, they can at least report on findings that may have the highest medical value. Yay a type of mining that doesn’t ravage the environment and the lives of the people found around the the ore, oil or other hallowed resource deposit!

Text mining has also been broadly applied to interdisciplinary fields such as government, marketing, social media, history, etc. This is where text mining kept my attention.

General Process for Text Mining and Analysis

What’s broadly referred to as the digital humanities can be described as a set of conceptual and practical approaches to engagement with cultural materials that are aided/mediated by computer applications. Some of these can be quite simple, such as Google Ngram, which can track word usage and changes in meaning over time. While those within academia are careful with their methodological approaches as they expect a high level of scrutiny from the peer-reviewed journals that they hope to get publication in, most outlets for news and cultural content are often less discerning – hence leaving me to the belief that the article from websites lauding it’s  useful in marketing is over rated.

For business applications and tracking – yes absolutely. In that way it’s been invaluable to me. And that’s the point, that’s all it’s ought to be – there’s other things out there. So you content marketers emailing me asking if they should invest time in it – I’d say not. But also clarify that it’s not also important to at least be familiar with. I’ve produced several works using R as a component that I’m pleased with – however – these were short and sweet little works designed just for a short smirk and a share. It could be used for a work with greater complexity to the content, but so few threaded Tableau’s really arrest one’s attention.

Visualizing Numbers

For example: Articles like this analysis of marijuana talk on Reddit. It is, at least to me, insightfulless. Can I have the time I just spent reading this back please? The same goes for this this analysis of Donald Trump’s Twitter. Doubly so when compared to something like this New York Times analysis and categorization of Trump’s tweets by people! It’s not just the lack of a genuinely noteworthy findings that I take issue with, but also how many have no mooring to acceptable social science principles. It’s literally spreading stupid.

The methodology of this article’s “psychological analysis” on the personality of CEOs is incredibly flawed due to it’s arbitrariness and the nature of public speech. Articles like this one, which uses a sentiment analysis of geo-tagged Twitter posts, declare that  “Florida is the 5th happiest state,” despite the fact that a study with actual social scientific rigor, like this one by Gallup, show that this is false. To me, this is all a testament as to how low publishing standards have dropped – when time saving relationships in the form of marketing brand and brain fodder takes the place of . Lest I seem like some partisan crusader, note I’m really just using this as a means of marketing to potential clients as to the standards I take in a non-legalese manner so as to get a better vibe on me. Irony! Anyways, my discerning reader, I will continue…

Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis: Examining Author’s Notebooks

Page from the notebook of Honoré de Balzac

If th are as bad as I say, why would they get published? Well for one, the producers like it as 99% of the time it is cheaper than taking a different approach. Because of the pseudo-scientific trappings, it allow publishers to justify posting whatever B.S. conclusions are given.

This is not to say that *all* text analysis done by API’s are valueless or mystifying instead of insightful – I find this project on screenplays to be fascinating and insightful –  just to state that at least most of the ones that I’ve seen promoted via new media outlets are.

This article on Large-Scale Computerized Text Analysis in Political Science: Opportunities and Challenges is focused on a particular sub-branch of Political Science that I read in graduate school masterfully delves into my reservations in greater detail than I will here.

What Machine Learning May Be Able To Tell Us About Creativity

 

A Page from Dostoyevsky’s Notebook

What I do see as valid from a social science perspective and genuinely excites me is the future prospect of being able to use textual analysis to examine the process of creative writers. One of the most rewarding projects that I took as an undergraduate was an extensive study of  Dostoyevsky’s writings, which gave me an deep insight to how he worked. It’s one of the reasons why I think it would be cool to be able to cross reference news stories with changes made – however this has some issues as well as there’s no way of ascertaining sans interview with the author on whether or not they were apprised of a particular issue.

A less epistemologically precarious form of analysis on the creative process would require that word processors keep constant documentation of a number of data points. Not only would it be cool to know at what scenes, George R. R. Martin had difficulty continuing a certain story or how and if characters in J. K. Rowling Harry Potter series – it would also be scientifically rigorous. Combining human and computer categorizations would allow for honest findings on a number of other issues as well.

People could quantify if there is a connection between the time it takes to complete writing a scene and the type of scene that it is, the characters that are in it, etc. We could map how a characters personality changes during the revision process and chart the variances in time taken on each character. Presuming the word processing application was granted geolocation data – perhaps it could be determined that there are certain locations where authors are more productive (coffee shops, library, home, etc.) as well as times of the day. These are just some of the many ideas for what computer applications may be able to tell about the creative process.

Using OCR, APIs, text mining and machine learning to be able to examine authors that used physical journals would be more difficult, but would also being productive towards make conclusions about the creative process of writers. I say this as speaking from my own experience, I occasionally write long passages in my physical daily journal when I feel stuck on a certain piece of writing.

*

Lastly, I just want to throw out how I would love if someone bought me a copy of Henry Miller’s The Nightmare Notebook. I read it while an undergraduate, but would love to have my own.

Translation of La Tinta del Sur IV

Ink from the South IV

La Tinta Del Sur IV

“I always dreamed of going South and starting over”
The man who ran after the wind

Interpretations of Carpe Diem

Today’s society is us, living poets
Do not allow the life to happen to you without your living it
– Walt Whitman

Months ago I met a couple of drunks
Submissive to the social opulence of a guild.
It was a couple of hours.
I did not need more to lift the mat from his inert whereabouts
maintained based on a white powder of illicit jungle
that tinanciaban with the accumulated intellect of the years,
and the juggling of a scalpel thirsty for organic time.
A couple of decades invested in the knowledge bank
in the search for the South American dorado
to become vampires of dreams
that brought new light to their patients. but darkness for their spirits.
I remember them as a pair of tireless bigmouths in front of me,
a man from town.
Sitting by his side,
he listened as they devoured turns to fill the foundations of his
status,
were not to exclude them from the wealthy link that was now yielding
bills
and eat shit again,
feeling “once again the popularity of its origins.
To show the eyes of the smallest,
-and more stupid-.
He did not live life in his retinas,
half yertas,
like anguished meat
that cracked and resurrected robotically

under an inhospitable light
in claustrolobic salons heartless by reputation,
where I had long ago evicted empathy
to house the opinions of his greed.
Its procedure is only one of codes and coordinates insensitive to the
happiness.
Happiness that installed in air castles and on occasional ski passes in
Deluxe class to make yourself feel more human.
Empire that proudly exhibited his friend, and clan mate,
in its brand new Silicon Valley technology.
He also boasted of the collection of skirts that attracted his wealthy robe
when walking the clinical corridors,
detailing that more than one of her legs trembled at the perception of her aura.
His pulse did not tremble, especially his soul, when he looked at his patients.
At the same time,
the other butcher laughed, and the game followed him like a good henchman,
putting on the table his last big orgy.
Story he described while holding the ring on his ring finger.
Immersed in a sea of ​​tequilas I ventured to ask them about their
conscience
The most stupid,
He commented that it was one of those nights that he would pay to be called
Lifetime
-I imagine so that, at least, in his name it would harbor a loophole
humanity-
Embraced in body – but not in spirit – this pair of idiots
I grabbed the drink and with hand up
repudiating his smiles scalpel
I toasted for a long life
despising each one of the pillars of his asqueróso Carpe Diem.

If you don’t understand it, look it up! It’s worth knowing.

Murio en Diciembre

Melancholy is the joy of being sad.
Victor Hugo

I do not know if it’s the mist that comes through the chimney
when in our kitchen it still smells like your laughter.

O the euphoria of a love simmered, gradual, secret,
like good sex,
but with a Woody Allen ending.

The tango of you would have and we would have learned in a
Montevideo
and that I did not know how to interpret in other trips after your death.

Life in a bottomless drawer
where we used to write down the list of our outbursts
to avoid the reproaches of the good morning of the last Monday of the month.

A shelf photograph that holds the pillars of your absence
and that supported by esparto tunovela
refuses to the cliffs of amnesia.

The collection of Maghreb shoes that were left without your feet.

The writing of a tickle handbook for our gray days
that powders and wears since I do not move your waist.

Breakfasts and dinners that still know the maturity of a romance
When I set the table and nobody takes over your cutlery.

A hollow guitar -as you left my body-
where the nostalgia is now scattered,
and that I can not find a way to refine when December returns.

Anyway,
a post-feeling without rancor that drowns in the mornings, without reaching
kill the will to live.

You have to understand that life is composed of agitations of the soul,
and that melancholy has those qualities,
that does not understand deaths, nor feeble hearts,
not to overly depreciate it.

Because like the vines of an unattended yard
it spreads stealthily down the slopes of the marrow
until you hit the memory interlinings
where the most precious fantasies and memories come together,
those. No wonder in the markets of forgetting I have no pretext for me
to forget.

Soulmate

It is so cute
Knowing that you exist

Mario Benedetti

I found it in the development of our passions,
disheveled by the mischievous sunset of a recent Patagonian past_
His face shone when he put his coffee smile to use
that hardened her chin and stretched her eyebrows in a loving way_
His wise and pointed nose
where he exhaled the smell of beauty.
His mouth cracked by the salt of the southern seas.
His arms sunburned by the will of the heavens of the world
They were holding an Andean leather pouch that looked light,
but that hid an anthology of jars full of handfuls of
other lives.
Behind him a halo of hope balloons gave color to the
platforms of your dreams,
dreams that were similar to mine.
He did not flinch in tourist class, he was born in it.
It got on trains, cars and carts, unknown agents
that opened his appetite for continuing to breathe.
Eternized the curiosity of the whys and why
to give a sense to the direction of the invisible before the eyes.
With carboncíllo stamped memories on ocher leaves
that signed in verse
He hung in his wandering rooms to enlighten other travelers.

Barefoot throbbed Earth wounds
going through the years of the towns and their fields,
and with words and silences it illuminated the exile of those who believed
forgotten
My traveling soul, was not always an expert,
I was also sensitive to pillow fears,
I had outstanding scars to cure
and even I recognized to run the curtains some sunrises to avoid
the sadness of the West.
And I cried, believe me I cried for their sins and weaknesses,
I cried until I blushed the iris of their green almonds.
I have to say that, in a way that I still do not know,
untangling the amygdala and flattening the road to resilience.
Disarmed, not sunken,
he painted his lips with the brush of the bougainvillea of ​​the Mediterranean,
and he threw himself into the street without plans or ties,
again on the road,
where I found it,
willing to tattoo his memory with another trip
and to fill new jars with the knowledge of the world and its people.

My soulmate,
my traveling soul,
my partner.

In the valley of. An

To the sea (us)

Your hands named lifesavers.
rescuing the shipwrecks of my lonely afternoons.
The silence of the moles on your back.
Your smile like a Cove,
(prelude to your chest lit between my hands).

We have learned to wait for the rain as something good,
to share a candle,
to hold the music between your fingers,
to light the incense that rests in a blink.
And we grow every day like a garden, between seeds, books and photographs. ‘

My hands named lifeguards,
Rescuing the shipwrecks of your lonely nights.
The waves of my hair where we both inhabit.
My hands that are a bowl where I keep your teachings
And they are white thread that repairs your wounds.

We merged slowly into fleeting ports,
Freeing our shoulders of a weight that we carry on our backs,
and the notes of a past that hurts your ways and mine.
We are ocean and sea bordering coasts,
With that sound that diluted fears and absence.

I discover myself by your side every day,
on the high seas, with its waist full of maritime foam.
And I always see your eyes as a beacon,
fairy where the air that escapes from my mouth goes.

You discover yourself by my side every day,
making your voice a work of art,
making your walk poem,
and you see me knitting ñores to decorate my breasts,
as we grow each day as a garden,
between seeds, books and photographs.

I give you a movie …

Some enigmatic images show a badly wounded whale the surface of an unknown sea while a voice in off utters the sickening words: “Once I saw a whale with three calved harpoons and it still moved. It took an entire to die. We meet the bellena again. We had never been closer. He was weaker because of the harpoon that had fired at him. And covered with scars from all the battles I fight.”

We do not know where we are or who is the narrator. The we will find out more adclanlc. For now, outside of that scene inaugural, the story officially begins with the arrival of two boys to a remote place, the island of Bastoy, located in the fjord of Oslo, Norway. There reigns a disturbing peace where the cold, the fog and the sound of the waves and the wind tend to silence the voices of their forced tenants. Or maybe it is not only the wind, but we do not advance events. Well, in this land area of ​​one square mile stands a reformatory for young misfits that lasted more than fifty years since its opening at the beginning of the 20th century.

As in other narrations of a prison nature (and this one is), the first minutes are intended for introductions into this microcosm, in that place where time seems to have stopped in its tracks and in, the one that flies over a calm that is nothing but the prelude to the disturbing, realities that are sheltered there. The inmates there have been held stripped of their names and their daily work alternates physical works with
lessons in classrooms. The treatment of workers and vigilantes who are in charge of maintaining the correctional is a reflection of that confrontation between oppressors and oppressed often dismissed not only by the extreme rigor of the context, but also by that tendency (painfully human) to the army of power over queines are  onsidered inferior on the social scale.

Except for a few facts, we ignore Erling’s notebook, two young people who have just entered the center and about which the story begins to direct their attention. Erling, unlike the rest of the reprobates, who have internalized the rules of the game and behave like automata. Rapidly highlighting an indomitable character that leads him to be subject to harsh penalties. This composition calls the attention of one of the convicts of Bastoy. Olav, who, after having been there for six years, has completed a model of institutionalization in such a way that only a couple of weeks remain to be reinserted into society. The price has been high. Olav has had to keep silent, obey the orders of his superiors and ignore the injustices that have been testified. But something inside seems to have been removed after witnessing the unyielding Erling temperament and, in fact, despite the initial rivalry, will be producing between them a solid friendship. Throughout this journey, the camera registers with meticulousness the persistent glances of Olav, who assists admired again and again to the indiscipline actions of his commiffer. This friendship begins to shine as it becomes a denim light of the hopeless stage that welcomes them, a sign of humanity in a scenario dominated by sadness. While the relationship between the two boys evolves, the new convict will need help to write a letter addressed to his sister. It tells a strange story about his past experiences as a sailor… and about a hardy whale that refused to perish.

The question is that an exchange in the roles established by the narrative, because who we thought was a Secondary character (Olav) will initiate a gradual but moving process Transformation until seize the role of the film. This in this way, we are witnesses of an individual in whom the flame of the indignation, the nonconformity, the courage. . . , to the extreme of give up that longed for exit that, in the initial phases of history, A destination impossible to change. Many things passed between them, a revolt spurred by Olav himself after checking that the preceptor who had raped one of the boys in his barrack. Driving him to suicide, he has been reinstated in his position. Per, suffocated the Insurrection, the main character now will be the only inmate that achieves Evade the reformatory. Yes, unfortunately it will not be accompanied.

Events seem to have come to an end; but it is then when we return to those enigmatic images with which the story. And we guess its nature. These images, now we know, are mental projections of Olav from the marine narrations dictated by his old partner. We deduce that these recreations are have sedimentznlo in the memory of the character and tend to reappear over and over again in your imagination knowing that a portion of your current idiosinerasia was forged thanks to the example of that figure that instilled in him the seed of nonconformity. What we contemplate, therefore, it is nothing other than the internalization of an alien story, now integrated into the consciousness of another person. A prolonged ellipsis we moves to the present. Olav, as an adult, wakes up from his rest when, In the fishing vessel where you work, you are informed that you are Approaching the region to which the island of Bastoy belongs. Olav goes out on the deck and is reunited with the unmistakable sea that surrounded that prison where he spent a good part of his adolescence. And it’s here, with a noticeable pang of emotion, when those who return to their memory Mementos where he had no choice but to leave Erling behind, accidentally engulfed by the waters of an icy fjord, and travel with a wounded leg that snowy desert in search of his freedom.

The island of the forgotten ones (Marius Holt, 2010)
Jose A. Plans Pedrefio

Newly Available: Free, Digitized Collection of Gabo’s Writings

Two years ago the University of Texas’ Harry Ransom Center acquired  Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s works.

A grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR)  contributed to the searchable, online archive which consists of nearly 27,500 items from Garcia Marquez’s papers.

This digitalized collection, is available to the public for free.

The digital archive includes manuscript drafts of the legendary writer’s published and unpublished works, research material, photographs, scrapbooks, correspondence, clippings, notebooks, screenplays, printed material, ephemera, including an audio recording of Marquez’s acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982.

 

Lectures on Hegel’s Science of Logic

When I was studying Hegel and Freud with Slavoj Žižek and Avital Ronell at New York University, we were given a vast bibliography with which to .

Science of Logic was easily one of the most difficult books that I’ve ever read, and were it not for Picturing Hegel: An Illustrated Guide to Hegel’s Logic I imagine it would have taken me much longer to grasp .

The Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP) presented a one day Lecture on Hegel’s Science of Logic along with questions from the audience.

Speakers include Peter Osbourne, Catherine Malabou and Howard Caygill.

I’ve yet to listen to the lectures and questions, I’m kind of posting this here as a reminder for me to come back to this later, but suffice it to say I am very excited to listen to this as Catherine Malabou’s  The Future of Hegel: Plasticity, Temporality and Dialiectic was one of my favorite books while at NYU.

DISCOVERED: Evidence That Lil Peep Was Murdered?!

Lil Peep: Like many a revolutionary, died young.

21 year old up and coming rapper Lil Peep was recently found dead of a suspected drug overdose in his tour van. While the police have yet to release their report, Little Peep’s death may not have been an accidental overdose but part of a carefully orchestrated plot by the Alt-Right.

Since the public displays of violence in Charlottesville and Portland that brought widespread condemnation; failed attempts at false-flag operations; failed attempts at disinformation campaigns; failed attempts at re-branding themselves and failed attempts at recruiting, the Alt-Right is now adjusting their tactics to targeted assassination of current (or potential) political activists!

While I haven’t read any of the police reports, autopsy reports, spoken with anyone that knows him or have made any effort to, what’s below will clearly show that Lil Peep was murdered as part of an Alt-Right conspiracy.

Lil Peep: Experimenting with Cocaine & Karl Marx

Little Peep’s drug use was widely publicized by himself and others. Less often discussed in articles and interviews was his views on his family life, his Russian background, and his burgeoning crypto-Radicalism. While the music world has long been associated with drug use such that it is viewed as natural, experimenting with Marxism and radical theory is another story.

The following three Instagram posts were captured before they were archived and show evidence of Lil Peep’s flirtation with Communist literature as well as a photo of the plug for his radical thoughts – his grandfather, who he names as a Communist and a “bad ass”.

Historically suspicion of Communist Party membership was considered just cause for being denied employment; ability to enter into the United States; ability to join a union or a professional organization who membership is required for work; being forced to answer questions about personal political beliefs in public; inability to purchase housing; firing from one’s place of employment and blacklisting artists/workers. This was especially evident in creative careers.

Why would the owners of businesses that rely on creative work do this? Because artists  visibility makes them influencers whose individualistic habits and (sometimes) anti-bourgeoisie values can conflict with conventional social mores and by limiting the realm of the politically possible by spreading fear throughout the society – this group can better project hegemony.

Local, state and Federal governments – instruments of social control by capitalists within bourgeoisie democracy – were in on the game too. They prevented Communist artists/activists from traveling; from running for elections; from working in all forms of government service; etc. in addition to funding those artists that they saw as “more aligned with American values.”

However with the 1992 collapse of the USSR and challenges in courts as to it’s legality, this has  come to be seen as anachronistic and has not enforced anytime recently.

The Alt-Right’s desires a return to an atmosphere of Anti-Communism, since Communists reject the prejudice against the various religious, racial and ethnic groups the Alt-Right defines themselves against.  From this lens Lil Peep’s burgeoning interest in Marx and Lenin (“Vlad in the back”) is a subversive act. With no valid pre-text for state repression, halting Lil Peep’s potential Marxist influence on American became a private matter for the Alt- Right.

Lil Peep Killed for Being A Future Russel Brand

If it seems unlikely that Lil Peep was on his way to becoming the number one Marxist threat in America, consider Russel Brand’s evolution from drug addict to revolutionary and it’s relationship to the rise of Communist-sympathizer Jeremy Corbyn in the United Kingdom. 

Brand’s personal story  from heavy drug user to left-wing spiritually-oriented revolutionary is one that it’s not hard to see that Lil Peep could have followed. Hypothetically, for example, instead of promoting Xanax use he would say this his desire for it actually stemmed from the suppressed alienation that he was feeling and that the real way to deal with this feeling was not continued self-medication but worldwide communist revolution? Given the size of his followers, even a small fragment of them becoming radicalized could have a significant political impact.

Secondly, consider who some of the major supporters of the Alt-Right are: Silicon Valley Wiz Kids. The people that are most likely to have created technology that would allow themselves to combine someones digitized personal life and a number of world scenarios together in order to determine who potential radicals will be. This would allow them to then target people that work against their interests of white ethno-state.

Lil Peep Murdered Before Turning Radical

The symbolism of an anarchy sign on Lil Peep’s face tattoo provides further proof why the alt-right would view him as an existential threat beyond the Instagram photos that he archived (maybe because he was threatened?!). He could literally be the new face of American radicalism.

If this seems like a bit of a leap, consider that there’s a large number Anarchist perspectives. Though they may not use the term themselves Lil Peep, like Brand practiced lifestyle, or individualist anarchism.

Notice that anarcho-capitalism is not represented here, because that’s not anarchism.

Often associated with Benjamin Tucker or Max Stirner, who Marx and Engles criticized extensively in The German Ideology, individualist anarchism grants neigh little validity to dictates of the state or society. Legal prohibitions against drug use and the concomitant effects that the Drug War has had on other countries, like Colombia, are seen as as particularly egregious and criminal.

Individual Anarchist social critique’s are wary of group activity, seeing near total social atomism as the ideal. Within a number of circles, this not genuinely considered to be “anarchism” as people drawn to such views can be drawn into racist politics if they come to see class as emerging from race or ethnicity as well as anarcho-capitalism if they reject class. There’s serious merit to such a position placing it outside the tent. A third option is to gain historical consciousness and move left instead of right.

Coming to recognize that it is because capitalists control the major functions of the state that the state is why the state is the way it is – rather than the state qua state it is as such – leads to a very different conclusion. By recognizing the importance of empirical, material history and class struggle for obtaining those liberties, people turn to syndicalism, collectivism, socialism and communism. This is the path that Russel Brand has gone.

Little Peep Assassinated by the Alt-Right?

DADDY by @adamdegross

A post shared by @lilpeep on

The evidence for a potential assassination goes beyond mere heresay. There are rumors of chat logs – similar to the Breitbart email leaks and the Charlottesville chat leaks – that were intercepted as part of an ongoing AntiFa right-wing monitoring campaign. In these logs it’s suspected that there are comments specifically made by Milo Yiannopolous in a manner that’s derogatory to Lil Peep.

Milo Yiannopolous’ affection for public affection of Donald Trump as Daddy is well known, and apparently he was very upset by the fact that Lil Peep had a tattoo of the word Daddy on his chest.

It is pure conjecture that Milo Yiannopolous was the actual person within the alt-right that directed the assassination of Lil Peep, but given his connections to the pharmaceutical industries and Silicon Valley it certainly makes sense.

When will we see justice for Lil Peep’s murder?

*

Please be aware that it was the author’s intent to be read as humor/satire meant to mock the various alt-right outles that said there was going to be civil war in America on November 4th. At least that’s what the !? in the title and eclectic intellect categorization was intended to indicate to the reader. I’ve never listened to any of Lil Peep’s music before not did I hear of him before he died.

Urgent Report: “Humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperilled biosphere.”

In case you haven’t already taken the chance to read this well-researched and expertly cited document – World Scientists Second Warning – then I highly recommend you do so.

There are 13, 524 signatories from 180 countries. The name of the article  purposefully alludes to the famous document “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” that was published in 1992 via the Union of Concerned Scientists. In 1992 exactly 1500 independent scientists, including the majority of living Nobel laureates in the sciences, penned that important document. If with almost 10 times as signatures, this ought to suggest the import of the warning.

On the Weakness of Trump Jr.’s Halloween Candy as Socialism Analogy

As income inequality worsens within countries around the world and more people grow disillusioned with the neo-liberal verities that justified their immiseration as well as the politicians which has been spouting them, more people have been rethinking whether or not policies based on socialist principles might be a better option. In fact with the recent election of Lee Carter, a marine veteran that identifies as a Democratic Socialist, along with a number of other left of center populists and socialists we might even be seeing the pivot begin to become a trend. This is making a lot of people nervous.

The Washington Post recently published an editorial  decrying changes in language and politics as neo-bolshevism. The American Culture and Faith Institute recently published findings from a survey which outlets like the National Review are up in arms about. Why? Because younger people are becoming more sympathetic to socialism! Also in on the furor is the Victims Of Communism Foundation, they also published the results of a different survey that much to their and others dismay, also found that younger people view socialism favorably! Lest this seem like the new American generation simply is ignorant to the realities of socialism, it’s worth noting that this trend wherein socialism is seen as desirable is not just in the U.S. but a sentiment found in the former Soviet Union as well.

 

It’s in this context of   growing demand for systemic political and economic change, that the son of the current American president, Donald Trump Jr., decided that he would use his following on Twitter to try to educate his followers on just how unfair, unjust and undesirable socialism is by posting the photo and text that I’ve screenshot on the right. The post, rightfully so, was mocked by a number of outlets, including Vice and Twitter.

A few days later Liberal (not leftist) Chris Hayes posted the following on his Twitter account. I can’t say for sure whether or not this was in response to Trump Jr’s tweet, but it does touch upon the (1) the correctness of Socialist analysis, (2) just how slow in coming to understand want Trump means for America and (3) that the received truths from most outlets (i.e. non-Marxist) are no longer valid.

Why Trump Jr is Wrong: Selective Redistribution is not Socialism

As many on Twitter pointed out, as far as analogies go Socialism = Halloween is a pretty bad one. But this isn’t something that is unique to Trump Jr. There’s a long history of purposeful misrepresentation of socialist thought and ideas by the media outlets of the wealthy going back over a hundred years. Puck Magazine was one such outlet that previously paid artists to publish cartoons of dirty, foreign socialists to discredit them. The sensibilities have changed, but the essence hasn’t.

Now people like Dinesh D’Souza, a man convicted of violating campaign finance law, not only seek to discredit socialism, but to transform it’s meeting so that the whole of the philosophy comes down to is “redistribution” and to claim that the the Democrats are in fact descended from Nazis. Thus, according to the new logic of the presumptive ruling class, World War II was really just leftist infighting between socialists in Germany and Russia and the US. By the by, this means that the Nazis actually won WW2 because, remember, FDR was a National Socialist…

The problem with all of this is, the logic turns to dust when you look to the seminal author on capitalism, Adam Smith. Here is from one of his maxims on taxes:

The Wealth Of Nations, Book V Chapter II Part II, Appendix to Articles I & II, p. 861, para. 12.

The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities…

Smith also includes four additional maxims that ought to inform how it is that taxation should transpire. That said, while tax percentages, sources and allocation is certainly a contentious dynamic, but there’s nothing inherently “socialistic” about it. Social, yes, interaction between people. Socialist? No. That refers to principles of social and economic governance. While there are a variety of views on public ownerships of good and services – such as public schools, roads, national parks, etc. – but to claim that they are “socialist” is to mistake what socialism really is – the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Marx’s Major Theoretical Writings Are About Capitalism, Not Socialism

If that last phrase of that last sentence needs some unpacking, that’s understandable. Unlike the language and theories that Freud and the circles of readers and practitioners of the artistic science of psychoanalysis developed, Marxism hasn’t entered into the popular lexicon. This shouldn’t be that surprising given the indoctrination in our schools and churches that Communism/Marx is unAmerican, the fact that America has a long tradition of anti-intellectualism; state and para-state actors that seek to dissuade those that have made their way to Marx from acting on it and an entire cultural apparatus that is owned by a numerically small but politically powerful class that does not want to see or hear of their property being threatened.

Dictatorship is a heavily loaded term and it’s worth noting that as is conceived in Marxian though, the term does not necessarily refer to a personalistic style of political rule, but to control over political institutions. Marxists say that currently, living in the class society that we do, we live under the dictatorship of capital. It’s purely descriptive.

The proletariat is the group of workers that know they live in a class society and want to halt class rule through organized political struggle. The proletariat is categorically not the working class as a whole, who may not be active in the political economic struggle.

Class struggle, however, is just one component of Marxism socialism. There’s a large body of primary literature (and for free, thanks marxists.org!) as well as secondary literature that can explain the varieties of socialism, be it How to Read Karl Marx, Towards the Understanding of Karl Marx: A Revolutionary Interpretation or David Harvey‘s website.

Class Struggle! But What Else?

From my conversations around college campuses and at political events, validated by Jon Stewart, I think it’s fair to say that as a whole Socialism/Marxism as ideologies tends to be conflated with economic leveling and giving greater political power to the people. Because of this unfortunate desire to appear “in the know” thousands of pages of theory and decades of history are obfuscated and I think that this focus distracts from the fact that there are a number of his non-revolutionary concepts and intellectual innovations within Socialist and Marxist literature.

I say non-revolutionary as there are a large number of writers on every possible locations on a political map that agree with a some of his concepts and interpretations of historical developments. I’m not going to cite them all, instead an excerpt of this article from Harvard Business Review shows that class struggle isn’t specifically socialist or Marxist:

“Have these people never heard about Teddy Roosevelt excoriating the “malefactors of great wealth,” or his cousin Franklin getting Congress to raise the tax rate on top incomes past 90%? Americans have been pillorying the rich on and off for more than 200 years, and our economic system has survived and mostly thrived. In fact, the political and labor-relations compromises occasioned by what you might call class warfare have on balance surely made the country stronger.

What’s been unique, or at least highly unusual, has been the environment in which entrepreneurs and business executives were able to operate from the late 1970s through the early 2000s. Taxes dropped, high-end incomes exploded, and hardly anybody complained at all. Far from complaining, in fact, the news media for the most part celebrated the recipients of those exploding incomes for their boldness, creativity, and economic importance. It was a pretty stinking awesome time to be a plutocrat: You got to make billions of dollars, pay far less in taxes than you would have a quarter-century before, and get your face on the cover of Forbes or Fortune (or maybe even the top of your head on the cover of HBR).”

After you’ve read that entire article, which is worth your time, I’m sure you’ll agree. However, unless you were familiar with socialist/Marxist thought, you wouldn’t know this and just think it’s just some “foreign” ideology.

Marx and the Many Schools of Economics

Understanding how societies operate is difficult and requires a specialized vocabulary to talk about various components. In the process of gaining deeper knowledge within an academic discipline, ones’ lexicon and scholarship grows such that one can come to understand a variety of schools in relationship to one another and how the effects of their policies are. It’s because of this – lack of study on the subject – that Trump Jr. makes such a poor analogy for socialism. One might consider that as a capitalist he might “have ideas”, but all this means is that he’s able to extract surplus value from people not that his position as such a historical agent makes his version of theory superior. It’s not.

But Trump Jr. is not alone in his ignorance. If polled via mTurk, I think that less than 5% of people could give me an accurate definition of any number of terms used by Marx, be it alienation, commodification, division of labor, fetishism, solidarity, mode of production, etc. I believe the same would be true for concepts introduced by Marx’s later interlocutors like Gramsci with hegemony, Rosa Luxembourg’s analysis of reformism or Trotsky with permanent revolution. What great potential for a poll! Those the believe that schools have indoctrinated children with collectivist thought could finally have proof of it as knowledge of those words and other ideas related to it would quantitatively demonstrate public school led to collectivist thought!

Despite such claims, I would propound that with Trump there is a rise of people with a racial and nationalistic language for thinking through their politics, and I’m not alone in this assessment.

Socialism, or Barbarism

The middle class does not exist in the US anymore and as nationalism becomes the new watchword for determining US policy, American workers need to come to realize that they have more in common with a worker in China than they do with their own employer. Not history, language or culture, of course, but their economic precariousness and the fact that they compete with each other in the labor market due to a world connected by cargo shipping containers, transportation networks and a variety of shops.

The Right has been using racial and nationalistic language as well taking a few pages from Joe McCarthy’s anti-communism playbook – as evidenced by the header image at the top of the page. However in the end it is less about fears of “others” than the precariousness of American’s status to which they are appealing.

“You will not replace us” is anxiety about globalism and it’s ability to decimate regions once industries leave for greener pastures (and less labor laws). It’s taken a while for enough people to come to this perspective, but people are slowly recognizing that the economic game has been so changed in the past 30 years that they want the rules to change too. Neoliberalism is increasingly becoming a dead letter and in it’s place will either go Socialism or Barbarism…

What is the Global State of Socialism? What Does that Mean in America?

While I’ve focused on the American case as we zoom out of our focus and head onto the world stage we see that Socialism, that cause for much American intervention in countries that elected such politicians, is not seen as such a bug bear.

In China, Xi Jinping is announced as a contributor to Communist thought and practice in the vein of Marx and Mao. Vietnam remains radicalized by their experiences with European colonialism and like China are a single Communist party state.

In Europe, Spain‘s PODEMOS party rules the country and while their leader Pablo Iglesias is not a Marxist, they are socialist in orientation. Same goes for Greece, where the current leader of the Syriza party, Alex Tsipras, continues to battle against Germany and the international credit market. While no longer a part of the EU, in the United Kingdom, Jeremy Corbyn, an avowed Trotskyist, is revivifying anti-austerity politics and helping to turn the Labour party in a working class party rather than a neoliberal party.

In Venezuela, Maduro’s PSUV won heavily in the regional elections. In Colombia Rodrigo “Timonchenko” Londoño, the former leader of the FARC, a Marxist guerrilla organization, has announced he will be running for president. In Bolivia, Evo Morales has presided over a decade of socialist-inspired reforms. In Brazil, the Temer government cannot gain legitimacy and it looks like in 2018 Lula will return at the head of the Workers Party.

In Kerala, India the Washington Post positively describes the large socialist movement on the opposite end of the “Red Corridor” wherein a Maoist-inspired insurgency fights the government.

In Rojava, anarcho-communist Murray Bookchin has found a new audience amongst Kurds fighting for a socialist nation and those that are inspired to help them.

Many other developed nations, such as Denmark, Finland, NorwaySwedenCanada, Australia and New Zealand are not socialist, but have such a robust social safety net that it’s nothing like the American notion of capitalism.

What does all this going on mean in America?

At the most general level, I think it means that Americans ought to familiarize themselves with socialist literature. There’s a whole lot of false misconceptions as to what socialism is out there. There’s a whole lot of people that think American socialists want to bring North Korea, Cuba or U.S.S.R. to America and despite s#!tposting that hints others, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

That said, Socialism is a huge topic with a lot of debates within – take it all in slowly and with a grain of salt for as is to be expected in politics, there are underlying motives both professionally and ideologically operating here.

Lastly, I think it’s worth pointing out that people should also meet with other people in their community to talk about their experiences in relation to what they are reading in order to make sure that they understand things correctly and to help form bonds. It’s a whole lot more engaging and enjoyable than hearing an analogy that literally makes you stupider from the son of a reality T.V. star that would love to have more of your money because they tricked you into thinking that the modern American iteration of Socialism wouldn’t be a treat…