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Monday, February 19, 2024


Can anybody point me to someplace where I can get information on the value of capital in the United States not including homeownership? As a start perhaps could anybody point me to a site that would tell me the dollar value of all publicly owned companies? Piketty is quite useful but he includes homeownership in his figures (because that is the way it is listed in the sites that he uses as sources for his information). 


Écrasez L'infâme said...

Fred perhaps? It’s no fun navigating through it, though.

s. wallerstein said...

I googled "what is the total value of all public owned companies USA" and got this.

What is the total value of US publicly traded companies?
Total Market Capitalization of Public U.S. Companies (USD, millions)
Date U.S. Equity Market Value (USD, Million) Top 500 U.S. Companies Market Value (USD, Million)
12/31/2022 40,511,838.8 33,781,377.7
12/31/2021 52,263,018.2 42,368,174.7
12/31/2020 40,736,558.2 33,388,390.9
12/31/2019 33,905,976.7 28,125,589.1

s. wallerstein said...

Here's a more update figure (January 2024)

Achim Kriechel (A.K.) said...

I ask ChatGPT 3.5

me: what was the value in USD of capital in the United States not including homeownership in 2020?

n 2020, the value of capital in the United States excluding homeownership was substantial, but the exact figure can vary depending on the specific assets included in the calculation and the methodology used. However, I can provide an estimate based on available data and analyses from that time.

According to the Federal Reserve's Flow of Funds Accounts, which tracks the balance sheets of households, businesses, and governments in the United States, the total value of non-residential assets in the US, excluding homeownership, was approximately $73.5 trillion at the end of 2020.

This value includes a wide range of assets such as corporate equities, corporate and government bonds, mutual funds, pension funds, business assets, intellectual property, financial derivatives, and other financial assets.

Keep in mind that this is an estimate based on available data, and the actual value may differ slightly depending on the source and methodology used for calculation. For the most accurate and detailed information, you may refer to official reports from the Federal Reserve and other relevant institutions.

John Pillette said...

My go-to for info on publicly-traded companies (including market cap) was always EDGAR (the SEC website). I don’t recall ever seeing a tally of all these figures together, but it seems like the SEC would be the place to do this sort of thing. Maybe inquire with your SEC regional office? In my experience a lot of these places have back-room nerds that love this kind of stuff. They are at 950 East Paces Ferry Rd NE, Suite 900 Atlanta, GA 30326, Phone: 404-842-7600, E-mail:

aaall said...

Of course any number with publicly held companies will vary by the second and some trade 24hrs (of course, after hours fills can be problematic). Companies like Microsoft can have several billion shares so even modest swing in share price will mean a multi-billion dollar swing in valuation. Privately held companies are worth what they can be sold for and that involves much subjectivity and discounting. Then there's this:

Just curious - why ?

John Pillette said...

The value figures for these companies is registered at the end of every quarter, so the number is always listed with this as a qualifier: "as of the end of the third quarter of 2023, the market capitalization of XYZ Corp is ___." Privately held companies are more enigmatic. I suppose that the Fed must be the depository for this info, as well as the highest-order Econ professor type info. Given that money is always in a bank, perhaps the OCC (Office of the Comptroller of the Currency) is the agency to ask?

LFC said...

While I don't know whether this source will give you what you are looking for, it's worth checking the Proquest Statistical Abstract of the United States (previously published by the U.S. Census Bureau).

Here's the Amazon link for the 2023 edition.

LFC said...

P.s. On the other hand, you may have what you need already from the other answers above.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Many thanks. My lectures at Harvard focus on volume 1 of capital, which means that I am talking about him in the middle of the 19th century when things were relatively simple. I was simply trying to get a handle on the current situation in the world when the transformation of private ownership into common stock holdings and so forth makes a picture much more complicated. I am just sitting here in my apartment in Chapel Hill shut in by my Parkinson's trying to figure out how the world might be made a little bit better.

John Pillette said...

One such complication seems to me to be the professional mischief-makers like hedge funds and other “activists” whose mission has been to attach themselves parasitically to the corporate form and extract value from within. I suppose the frantic speculators (who are in fact cybernetic organisms) would be included in this group. And I suppose Marx anticipated (however dimly, at a sufficiently abstract level) something *like* this happening as an effect of relentless innovation. But did he foresee a higher order of capitalists exploiting not labor as such, but exploiting the corporate form itself? Capitalism squared, as it were?

j. w. said...

I don't intend it as a criticism, RPW (& JP), but I was struck by your statement that in the middle of the 19th century things were relatively simple. I certainly understand that multiplying change has been going on since then, especially, I'd suppose (such is, perhaps, my prejudice), during the last couple of generations. But I find myself wondering whether those who inhabited the mid 19th C would have experienced their reality as any less complex than we do ours?

Sorry I can't offer anything on housing-free capital

aaall said...

Perhaps Marx was responding to the rise of stock funded ventures which proliferated beginning in the late 18th/early 19th centuries - e.g. canals and roads, then steam - rail and water.

John Rapko said...

Re Updating Capital: I can't resist mentioning that there's a new book by Yanis Varoufakis called Technofeudalism: What Killed Capitalism. I just started it, and in the preface he states his central claims as follows: since 2008 there is a "historic mutation of capital . . . into what I call cloud capital" that "has demolished capitalism's two pillars: markets and profits . . . [which] have been evicted from the epicentre of our economic and social system, pushed out to its margins and replaced . . . by digital trading platorms which look like, but are not, markets, and are better understood as fiefdoms. And profit, the engine of capitalism, has been replaced with its feudal predecessor: rent. Specifically, it is a form of rent that must be paid for access to those platforms and to the cloud more broadly. I call it cloud rent." Accordingly, the owners of traditional capital "have become vassals in relation to a new class of feudal overlord, the owners of cloud capital." (pp. x-xi)

Danny said...

The U.S. stock market's market capitalization -- the total value of all of the shares issued by publicly traded U.S. companies -- is now roughly $50 trillion.

I see that this interpretation of the question has already hit the thread. And also, 'ask ChatGPT!'

I incline to add some sort of caution about throwing such a concept as 'capital' around ingenuously. Yes, it's simply trut that Microsoft is the largest of American companies by market capitalization. But just as a point of emphasis, I'll say that economics, like logic and mathematics, is a display of abstract reasoning. Hooray, then, for the power to think clearly and to discern in the wilderness of events what is essential from what is merely accidental. It is what we lack.

John Pillette said...

W/r/t Varoufakis’s new book, it’s been a while since I read Piketty, but as I recall, wasn’t he saying something similar? Hang on, that was 10 YEARS ago … Jesus Christ! Anyway, the increasing concentration of capital would lead toward stagnation as these rich toads squat on top of the rest of us.

To take one concrete example, editors and proofreaders seem to have been wiped off the face of the earth and now we face a Tsunami of “content” produced first by sub-minimum wage English majors but now by ChatGPT bots. Essay question: how does this analogize to the Lancashire-mill-owner paradigm?

What I want to read next is an update of Weber, which might go some way toward explaining the deep DEEP personal weirdness of our new Silicon Valley overlords. They are no longer connected in any real way to the high culture of the Protestant Age (1600 – 1965) and instead have marinated themselves in the crap mass culture (Star Trek, Ayn Rand) of the late 20th Century.

Anonymous said...

Dear John

about marinating themselves in the crap mass culture of the late 20th century: first, why should our culture of choice be any different than our music? Second, most of these tech geeks are autistic, and might not be interested in purely human issues of high culture and third. who has time for high culture when there is coding to be done?
At Stuyvesant I am familiar with exceptions. Stuy offered a well-rounded education, but if high culture is not in decline it has shifted to identity issues and it just might not appeal to that kind of nerd that flourish and procreate in Silicon valley

That is my 'Dear John' letter

s. wallerstein said...

Back in the 70's I had a girl friend who was getting her Phd in artificial intelligence (linguistics) in Stanford and I used to accompany to the computer center at times. I had never used a computer before.

Anyway, this is the birth of Silicon Valley and I observed lots of guys (all guys except her) who probably all went on to found billionaire high tech companies and were then graduate students.

They had zero high culture, zero. Their idea of a fun past-time was to watch war movies on TV and to cheer, shouting and clapping, when the "good guys" killed a "bad guy" or blew up an "enemy" target or airplane.

They were losers who were to become winners as Silicon Valley took over the world and as former losers, will and do revenge themselves on the rest of us.

John Pillette said...

Ha ha ha! Our autistic tech overlords have constructed for themselves a heaven in which the virtuous will live forever (the singularity), along with an (antihuman) ethics (Derek Parfit, Peter Singer, and “effective altruism”), the gospel of which has been spread by a number of apocalyptic preachers (Stewart Brand = John the Evangelist?) All they need for a complete religion is God Himself, but for now He has chosen to remain mysterious.

As philosophy this stuff may be worthless, but as theology it’s fascinating. The deep irony of course is that all these guys are (to a man … and woman, let’s not leave Marissa Meyer out!) see themselves as completely irreligious.

Of course culture has to start somewhere and I’m sure our neolithic ancestors were probably not very interesting to talk to. 1,000 years from now will the autistics of Silicon Valley be revered as the church fathers of a flourishing culture, or will this whole present episode be seen as a Carthaginian dead end?

John Rapko said...

15+ years ago I asked a good friend of mine (a research social scientist who specializes in issues related to information and communication) what was up with this Facebook thingy. He said: "All you need to know is that it is Harvard nerds' idea of social interaction." The lack of interest in 'high culture' among the high tech poobahs is a constant lament in the Bay Area art world, as the local arts institutions try and fail and try and fail to shake a few million dollars from those billionaires. I'm also closely connected with a landscape architect who has designed a number of gardens for the multi-multi-millionaire-to-billionaire folks. On his account, it's what you'd expect, e.g. 'Tear out those native plants and I give me a swimming pool in the shape of an electric guitar and a maze of hedges where I can host paintball tournaments'.--Anonymous's 'Dear John' letter and the motif of the awfulness of our recent and contemporary popular music reminded me of R. Crumb's lament, 'Where has it gone, all the beautiful music of our grandparents?' Here it was:

Ridiculousicculus said...

Well John Rapko you persuaded me to buy Varoufakis' new book. Thanks for costing me $25!

s. wallerstein said...

John Pillette,

If you read French or Spanish (he's been translated to Spanish, but not to English), you might be interested in this French thinker, Eric Sadin.

It's notable that this guy, who is very critical of the whole Silicon Valley ethos, has not been translated into English at all. He's fairly well known here in Chile in leftie intellectual circles.

John Pillette said...

Stuyvesant is an interesting case study. My pals who went there from my cohort (class of 1984) were humanities oddballs like me. From what my sister tells me about my niece’s cohort (class of 2012), the Stuy kids today are under huge amounts of pressure from overbearing parents to go into STEM and duly take up their positions in our hyper-capitalist economy. With the cost of tuition and NYC real estate having increased some [?]-fold, it’s easy enough to understand why.

You can’t help but feel sorry for these kids. I see them all the time when I ride through the Cal campus. They look like escaped veal calves who have spent the last 8 years chained to a desk with an AP Biology textbook.

SW, Better to be a Sadist than a masochist … I’ll have dust off my French and add to my trove of misunderstanding by stumbling through the works of E. Sadin … does he have something short to start with?

s. wallerstein said...


I read the The Era of the Individual Tyrannt (2020) first and then I read The Siliconization of the World: the Irresistable Expansion of Numerical Liberalism (2016).

There was no need to read both.

The Siliconization gives a short history of the birth of Silicon Valley from the libertarian wing of the 60's counter-culture and the Individual Tyrannt describes a world of isolated individuals feeling omnipotent "liking" or "disliking" comments in Facebook or videos in Youtube or rejecting potential dates in Tinder with just a click.

They're both around 300 pages, without the typical French jargon that turns so many of us off in Derrida or Deleuze. I read them in Spanish, but I would guess that anyone who can read a newspaper article in French (say, Le Monde) can read them without difficulty. No slang.

Sadin is a philosopher by training, not a sociologist, but he has obviously read very broadly.

John Pillette said...

R. Crumb, the present-despiser par excellence! Ya gotta love the guy. “Go ahead and cancel me, whadda I care?” Interesting that he and Larry David sound like and look like brothers.

Our recent discussion of present-despising and contemporary music made me go back and have a listen to some “contemporary” (semi) popular music that I enjoyed back in my youth. Does this stuff now qualify as “oldie”? Probably but who cares.

My verdict was, it holds up and then some. The crucial difference it seems to me are the “producer” credits. Nearly all of the stuff I like was self-produced, not extruded from some Stockholm sausage factory.

John Pillette said...

Come to think of it, I can simply update Weber for the Silicon Age myself, by feeding a HTML of Pierre Bourdieu’s “Distinction” through a computer program that will simply reverse its polarity. So when PB says something like “[t]he judgement of taste is the supreme manifestation of the discernment which … defines the accomplished individual” it will come out the back end as “[t]he judgement of bad taste is the supreme manifestation of the discernment which … defines the accomplished individual”. What to call this work other than “Bad Taste”?

Michael said...

John Pillette, your 1:41 pm comment ("All they need for a complete religion is God Himself...") makes me think you'd find Tim Mulgan worth a look. Here's a link to an NDPR review of his book Purpose in the Universe: The Moral and Metaphysical Case for Ananthropocentric Purposivism.

I'm only halfway through the book myself, and finding it a challenge to stay interested, TBH. I find it almost excessively thorough, and at a certain point, the several strands of argumentation (not to mention all the acronyms he uses) make it hard to keep a handle on it.

But in a nutshell, I think the conclusion is: "Benevolent theism" is partly right, partly wrong; same for atheism. It's possible to make a reasonable case for the existence of God, but not for the further conclusion that God cares about human beings, nor that human beings are metaphysically special (e.g. possessed of immortality and freedom of will) - nor that human beings are ethically special (in the sense of, say, mattering more than other sentient creatures, being permitted to exploit other species for their purposes, being the pinnacle of creation and the center of the cosmic drama...).

There seems to be more than a touch of Singer/Parfit/etc.-style consequentialism going on as well: The distinction is made numerous times between common-sense, self-serving, "complacent" morality and a more demanding, impartial, "austere" morality. I'm not far enough into the book to really spell out the implications of this, but I wouldn't be surprised (nor completely disapprove!) if it went the Singer route and argued for the moral necessity of veganism and a "give-until-it-almost-hurts" approach to charity.

For more on Mulgan's ethics, he also has a book with the intriguing title Ethics for a Broken World, along with one or two others. I haven't looked into any yet, but there are reviews on NDPR.

One last thing. I worry that some of the commentary here may be insulting to folks on the autism spectrum. It's a shame how readily people seem to associate ASD with boorishness and selfishness and the like. As with any group of individuals, some of us are lovely, some of us downright suck, most of us are of course mixed bags.

aaall said...

In 1848 the telegraph reached Chicago. It was no coincidence that the CME opened that year. Herbert Spencer/Frick, Fisk, Drew, Ford. Ayn Rand/Musk, Thiel/Andreessen - the really rich have always been really weird and prone to ideologies that valorize them. Not that much has changed since the South Sea Bubble.

JP, Engels once shared his concerns over the plight of the working class with a colleague who agreed but added that there was a great deal of money to be made. Most trading may be based on algorithms but...

John Pillette said...

Hmmm … maybe I’ll skip Mulgan entirely and just have you tell me (1) how he discerns a “cosmic purpose” and (2) what this purpose is. (My apologies to the ghost of Robt M. Hutchins, but I’ve only got so much time left here on earth and I need to fix dinner.)

W/r/t ASD, what I associate this with is what I used to think of as "Mensa Anti-Charisma", b/c this was back in the day before the terms "Asperger's" or "autism" or "spectrum" had been invented. I never worried about insulting these guys because (a) they were happy to hand it out themselves and (b) they wouldn't notice it if you did insult them. That includes the ones I've got in my OWN FAMILY. As a good example of what I'm talking about, consider "Comic Book Guy" on "The Simpsons."

Michael said...

Yeah, I have personal and professional ties to the (well, “a”) disability community as well, so of course I’ve had it kind of drilled into me to be careful about hurtful language and stereotypes… Sorry-not-sorry, as the kids say. But if you want to speak ill of nerdy, abrasive guys, without dragging disability into the picture, may I suggest “neckbeard”?

Re. Mulgan’s book, if I’m remembering right (and from an incomplete reading at that), I think he simply infers purposiveness in general, purposiveness in some form or another, from theism, without claiming to know what specifically the purpose of the universe would be. (Though it is very unlikely on his view that human life is the (primary?) purpose, any more than slug life. His issues with “benevolent theism” are the familiar ones mentioned in the NDPR review - the problem of evil, etc.) I think the idea is simply this: If the universe has a creator, it follows that the universe has a purpose, was made for some reason, or on account of some value it has to the creator (or perhaps has intrinsically). And Mulgan’s actual case for the “if” - his case for theism - draws insights from various well-known arguments: cosmological, teleological (e.g. fine-tuning), etc.

If it’s not your thing, cool. Just thought it might be worth mentioning, since you said something about the theological fascination of Silicon Valley and Effective Altruism etc.

Anonymous said...

AL law school Question:

Two fires erupts in Birmingham and only one fire truck is available. One fire erupts at the hospital named after the current Alabama governor. The fire is about to consume tens of thousand frozen embryos of thousands of citizens of the most prosperous part of Birmingham. Another fire erupts at the same time at the kindergarten of the most famous Baptist church in Birmingham and ten children will be consumed if the firmen don't get there immediately. Only children at one location can be saved.
1st question.
Where does the fire dept go?

What this shows is that moneyed interests today are just as malicious as the people who bombed the church in Birmingham in 1963. But they will never admit it.
Question 2
Argue the position in the question just posted.

John Pillette said...

Isn’t inferring a purpose to the cosmos without identifying what it is a bit like my assuming that I’ve got several million dollars in a bank somewhere without knowing the routing and account numbers? Or assuming that, at some point, I will be spending a weekend at the Ritz with Penelope Cruz, without being able to say when or how? Or … you get the point.

Am I the asshole here? From the human perspective, how does this kind of purpose look any different from no purpose at all? Then again the problem could well be on my end; my thinking about “purpose” in such concrete terms as crisp 100 dollar bills, room service, and Penelope Cruz in her lingerie probably indicates that as hard as I may try I’m never going to be an “ineffable cosmic purpose” guy.

I do find this sort of thing interesting though, so thanks for bringing it up.

Otherwise, I don’t see the need for concern for the delicate feelings of Sam Bankman-Fried, Peter Thiel, et al. If “autistic” is what they are, then that is what they should be called, especially as this is a matter of extreme public concern. If a certain personality type aspires to shape public policy, then that type of personality is a matter of public concern and it needs to be discussed as frankly as possible. I’m sure Wired Magazine has some euphemism they would like us to use, but fuck that. AITA?

Anonymous said...

The law school question touches on the value of capital, human capital, etc. One could argue that the Supreme Court of Alabama created instantly a large dollar value for the "future human capital" of coming generations.

John Pillette said...

SW, speaking of ongoing “Siliconization”, there is an interesting exchange of letters in this week’s NYRB between Greg Lukianoff (FIRE) and David Cole (ACLU) on the “cancellation” phenomenon. I was disappointed but not at all surprised to learn that the ACLU’s line on this is “nothing to see here, let’s move it along”.

But FIRE’s research indicates that this whole thing started abruptly when the first social media generation got to campus, in 2012 or so. This is simply how they view the world, thanks to their devices and “platforms”—as straightforwardly, obviously, and properly Manichean.

Michael said...

John Pillette,

Definitely good questions. I have similar worries when the theist responds to the problem of evil (e.g., "How could a good God allow a young child to get terminal cancer?") by replying that God's will is inscrutable, that God is above "merely human" judgments of good/evil and right/wrong. Whatever the merits of this reply, it seems to rob the God question of all practical interest: If our moral categories cannot apply to God, then it seems senseless to claim that we can discern God's purposes and relate to him as some sort of fellow person or moral agent, and this deprives us of any basis to suppose that God would even bother with things like prayer and judgment and resurrection, etc. We'd just be reduced to blindly hoping that God has agreeable plans for us (or doesn't have disagreeable plans), with no sense of how we might influence the outcome.

Anyway, I'm not in a great position to say what Mulgan's response to any such worry would be. His book is divided into three parts: I. Against atheism, II. Against benevolent theism, III. Ananthropocentric purposivist morality; and I'm only halfway through Part II. But Part III would probably shed a lot of light on the question of what theism means (or should mean) to the human being, on Mulgan's view.

In the meantime, as far as Mulgan's moral philosophy and life philosophy go, I just have a few clues to go on - he's written favorably of utilitarianism; his metaethics reminds of Parfit's (I think he studied under Parfit); he thinks that many/most existing worldviews unduly privilege and over-estimate the importance of the human species. Hence my guessing that he would be on board with a pretty demanding, Singer-style, non-"speciesist" utilitarianism. (Just a guess, and most likely one that fails to do justice to his position.) And as for the human significance of the God question, I imagine he'd sympathize with William James's complaint that "Religion, in fact, for the great majority of our own race means immortality, and nothing else."

Lastly, regarding ASD, the point isn't to protect the feelings of Bankman-Fried or whomever. The concern is more that, if we list (or even appear to list) autism among a person's ridiculous or contemptible traits, or if we say something nearing the tone of "Get a load of this weirdo/jerk, I bet he has autism," we say (or insinuate, or seem to insinuate) something disrespectful about people with autism. We risk contributing to a sort of conversational atmosphere in which it's taken for granted that autism is a bad thing. It's like the idea behind eliminating "bitch" and "c**t" from our put-down vocabulary, or anything that might be spelled out as saying, "Part of your problem is that you're womanly, and being womanly is not okay." Does that make more sense?

I get how it might seem oversensitive and create a walking-on-eggshells feeling whenever we open our mouths, but it is what it is - we've got a large variety of chauvinism/bigotry sort of invisibly built into the language we've inherited, and it's at least worth keeping an eye out for it and pushing back against it from time to time.

Sorry for the over-long comment. I'll try to give it a rest. :)

s. wallerstein said...


For sure. There are plenty of worthy people with aspergers syndrome, for example, Greta Thunberg or the pianist Glenn Gould. Probably some great philosophers like Wittgenstein and Kant.

It's easy enough to avoid making comments which might create or exhibit prejudices against people with aspergers in general just as one avoids generalizing about fat people or, as you say, women.

High IQ people like the ones who generally comment here should have no trouble finding ways of showing their distaste for, say, high tech entrepreneurs without generalizing unnecessarily about any human group.

John Pillette said...

Well, I generalize all the time, and I don’t feel particularly bad about it. For example, I don’t like Southern Baptist Republicans in particular, and Southern Baptists in general. Moreover, if you were to ask them, they would be quite upfront about not liking people like me (big-city egghead commie pinko liberal snobs).

And if you want to say that autistics are *different*, b/c they *can’t help who they are* please consider Nietzsche’s argument to the contrary.

May I suggest that the liberal’s need to be “nice”, to “not offend”, to “see the best in everyone” and so on, is a big part of the reason we have allowed revolting and despicable people to take control in the first place?

s. wallerstein said...


Is being autistic like being a Southern Baptist Republican? Or to take an extreme example like being a member of the SS?

The fact that Southern Baptist Republicans would be quite upfront about not liking you or me isn't an argument in favor of behaving as they do.

I thought that one of the arguments against Southern Baptist Republicans is that they are full of prejudices, bigoted and narrow-minded.

Are we (big-city egghead commie pinkos) just like them except with different prejudices, just as bigoted and narrow-minded but about different things?

Maybe so at times, I'll grant you that, but our merit is (or so I believe) that we're striving to get out of the box. At least I am.

s. wallerstein said...


Actually, I sense that you're striving to get out of the box too, but in a different way than I am.

s. wallerstein said...

There is a big difference between "thinking nice thoughts about everyone" and thinking bigoted thoughts about certain groups.

By the way, when you describe your reactions to Newt Gingrich, you're talking more about your feelings toward him than your thoughts about him.

I have very negative feelings toward Trump, but I try to understand him when I think about him and I especially try to understand what he represents.

You are under no obligation to do that of course.

But to return to our originial topic, you say that it's important to know who your enemies are. Fine, but I doubt that autistic people in general are your enemies.

John Pillette said...

Jesus Christ on the Cross! Sam Bankman-Fried, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Peter Thiel are most definitely my enemies! Yours too! Look at what Bill Gates is doing to public education! Look at all the Silicon Valley creeps who worship Ayn Rand and will, when the time comes, drop the “crypto” coyness and reveal themselves to be open fascists!

I am necessarily “generalizing” here, because doing the opposite—“particularizing”—is, in a political context, impossible. It leads nowhere, while the other side is happy to engage in this forbidden practice.

How do these Silicon Valley types generalize about us? They contemptuously refer to us as “normies”. Well, I’m saying that the time has come for us normies to grab our pitchforks. Normies unite! Up against the wall, Silicon Motherfuckers!

Anonymous said...

Lots of little future Baptists. You can bank on it.

John Pillette said...

[SFX: *Crickets*]

Forget it … what was I thinking? This crew couldn’t knock over a lemonade stand. You’d all show up to a knife fight with a yoga mat and an NPR tote bag!

Oh well, pass me the kool-aid, so that I may drink of it and dream of what a lovely shearling I will make …

Anonymous said...

@ John

I am a graduate of Stuy 85.
It was a feeder school- however you went there for the experience.
Now the specialized schools have outlived their purpose.
It is nom accident the new building is across the street from the World Trade Center.
Then again NYC is no longer the same anyway, NYC is a zombie of its former self

aaall said...

"I have very negative feelings toward Trump, but I try to understand him when I think about him and I especially try to understand what he represents."

s.w., not much to really understand. Trump is a stone sociopath well into cognitive decline. He has rights because Constitution but he is otherwise a worthless waste of space. Had he not been born into great wealth he most likely would have been filed under "in jail or dead" long ago. There's an apt saying but I can't use it.

Our Edge Lord problem wouldn't exist had we kept the 1950s marginal tax rates.

Max Richards said...

@ John Pillette

Just been reading your comments and I love it! As a 23yo from the UK, it's refreshing for intellectual types to have a bit of character, and not feel obliged to pander all the time. It seems like a lot of people my age are either a) insufferably fixated on the dominant progressive ideology of identity etc or b) blandly complacent/nihilistic and interested in little other than what's on Netflix and where they can get the next pleasure fix. (Although, I can sympathise with the latter somewhat, having misspent a lot of my teenage years playing video games and watching Netflix.)

Do you have any advice John, for a 23yo guy from England? Haha. I've studied some philosophy, at BA and MA, and now look posed to work and study to be an accountant. Not what I dreamed of, but at least the organisation works in the public sector and at least "say" they try to get value for money for taxpayers, audit government departments etc. I'm not quite the village idiot, so aware that whether they succeed or are sincere in this aim is probably much open to question. But, sad to say, the process of just getting a job now is kinda gruelling, online banal personality questionnaires and online tests, online interviews yada yada yada, so I'm just glad it's over. My aim is to work really hard to get this, have the ACA qualification as a back up, and then maybe try and do something a little more soul-inspiring.

Given this small context, do you John, and anyone else here, have any advice? Any common pitfalls to avoid, sage wisdom etc?

Also, is anyone here familiar with John Vervaeke and his "awakening from the meaning crisis"? I believe he's a mix of philosopher and cognitive scientist. Especially as a young person in our culture, I definitely resonate with a lot of what he talks about, and I think I've learned from him that I need to incorporate an ecology of wisdom-seeking practices e.g. meditation, rather than just trying to learn the right ethical propositions out of the great texts.

Anyway, I take great interest reading comments here, especially some of the frequent commenters like John Rapko, s. wallerstein et al. Even if this type of comment betrays my youth and naivety, I hope you guys can be pleased/bemused that some of the young are still eager to learn from (some of) the previous generation/s.

P.s. John, give me six months in the gym and I'll fly out to the US with my pitchfork. Perhaps we can compare notes over a drink on who might compete with Penelope Cruz in lingerie. To Dionysus!

Anonymous said...


Dan McAdams came up with a book length analysis of Trump trait by trait, and though he's obviously on the Dark Triad spectrum, uniquely he lives totally in the present and has no sense of a past and future, above everything trying to win each present encounter.
He is abberant on multiple traits.
When I emailed the Prpfessor my sense that Trump is 'premodern" in some way, he wrote back, like a chimpanzee or gorilla.
I'd rate Clinton as more likely to be a garden variety psychopath- there's nothing garden variety about Trump, abominable though he is

John Rapko said...

Max Richards:
Thanks for your extraordinarily thought-provoking comment; alas, now I'll be thinking about it all day. The only practical advice I've given for the past 25 years is 'Unless you really must, don't go to graduate school'. My favorite piece of advice on acting comes from Confucius's Analects: “Lord Chi Wen thought three times before taking any action. When the Master heard this, he said: Twice is enough.”--There's the saying of Jesus in Matthew and Luke (and so drawn from Q) 'Where your treasure, there too your heart will be'. [It's slightly different in the two citations: Matthew gives the second person singular, Luke the plural, and Luke breaks the strict symmetry by placing (future) 'estai' at the end, which latter strikes me as both more elegant and introduces a preferable, more aspirational overtone than Matthew's, which by contrast seems a touch finger-wagging]--I've also always been inspired by Nietzsche's 'My formula for happiness: a yes, a no, a straight line, a goal'. But recently I've been thinking that even more existentially important is his advice to multiply perspectives. I think I got on to this by reflecting on Raymond Geuss's account of Augustine's The City of God in his book Changing the Subject, with the idea that there are available, or at least one can construct, two viewpoints on every phenomena: as it is/appears in the City of Man, and as it is/appears in the City of God. (I take it that Geuss will be developing this line in his forthcoming book Seeing Double). The greatest living contemporary artist, William Kentridge, tells the story how as a child he would draw a cosmic map starting from the desk where he was sitting, then place that in the school, then in Johannesburg, then successively in South Africa, Africa, on the earth, in the solar system, and in our galaxy. So the exercise of the imagination is inter alia a kind of imaginatively flexible, scalar spatial framing. And one can do the same thing with time: I've been struck in watching the kindred soul Joey Santore in his Crime Pays but Botany Doesn't videos how he places the tiniest elements of a plant--a sepal, a stamen, the fuzz on a leaf--first in the context of the individual plant, then relates it to its pollinators, its soil, and its light, and then to its and these broader geological and evolutionary temporal dimensions. This fusion of perception, knowledge, and imagination is seeing the world in a grain of sand, reaching the antipodes by going into depth. If I had any advice, it would be to treat this as a model for living. And don't go to graduate school.

s. wallerstein said...

I'll second John Rapko's suggestion, from Nietzsche, to multiply perspectives.

I'll add Argentinian philosopher Dario Sztajnszrajber's observation that one emerges from a cave (Plato's metaphor) only to find oneself in another cave, but that's no reason to give up striving to leave the cave.

LFC said...

Somewhat off topic (assuming this thread has one), but this is a poignant blog post by Doug Muir on the journey of the spacecraft Voyager 1, underlining among other things the immensity of the cosmos.

John Pillette said...

Hats off to Max Richards for raising philosophy’s ONLY REAL QUESTION. As so memorably phrased by Adorno in the dedication to Minima Moralia, “[T]he teaching of the good life … [is the] realm which has counted, since time immemorial, as the authentic one of philosophy, but which has, since its transformation into method, fallen prey to intellectual disrespect, sententious caprice and in the end forgetfulness”.

So then, the “good life” … what is it and how do you get your hands on it? This basic question is nevertheless a difficult one. Especially as we seem to be, as professor Wolff has pointed out so often, living in the middle of a complete shit-show (Gaza; Trump; Ukraine; Twitter; and so on and on and on) …

What to do? I submit that one approach to the answer to this dilemma was formulated by A. Gramsci: optimism of the WILL, even in the face of an overwhelming (intellectual) pessimism. We’re all intellectuals up in here, we can do the pessimism part standing on our heads … we can knock that off while riding the roller coaster at Coney Island; we can (and do) do that IN OUR SLEEP. But what about the “optimism” bit?

Anonymous said...

Dear John

You take world history too personally as if the zeitgeist was sticking up your...
When people, usually not very smart people, say MAGA, my reply is get a life.
History happens and we have to deal with it and get on with life.
Whatever will be will be as Yahweh or the Beatles might put the matter

aaall said...

It seems ChatGPT met GigaChat.

LFC said...

Anonymous @10:57 a.m.

wrote: "When people, usually not very smart people, say MAGA, my reply is get a life."

If you think this is an effective way to respond to a Trump supporter, you're out of your ******* mind. There may not be an effective way, but in any case this certainly isn't it.

s. wallerstein said...


I agree that "get a life" is not the effective way to reply to a Trump supporter or to anyone, unless you're in junior high school.

However, what are the best ways to reply to a Trump supporter?

That's a serious question and it would be worth discussing, I believe.

My guess is that the first step is to put yourself in their shoes, in their place, which obviously is not accomplished by "get a life" or any other phrase that mocks them.

LFC said...

I think some of them are probably too far gone in their white Christian nationalist fantasies to have a dialogue with.

There are others, however, that it likely would be possible to have a conversation with. My only real-life experience with this was from mid-2018 to 2020, when I had a (low-wage) part-time job where one of my coworkers was a Trump supporter. I didn't persuade him of anything and vice versa. We had some difficult moments but managed not to come to actual blows.

s. wallerstein said...


I've actually never talked to a Trump supporter, but I have with their Chilean equivalents: neighbors, taxi drivers especially, the podologist, the hair-cut woman, etc.

In a 10 or 15 minute taxi ride you can't convince anyone and you're unlikely to run into the same taxi driver again in a huge city, but with people who you see repeatly, you can try to get them to "see the light".

I believe that I've convinced several that current progressive president Gabriel Boric isn't a stuck-up prep school kid with pseudo-revolutionary ideas leading the country into a high-crime version of Venezuela, as the rightwing claims, but a pragmatic young man who has learned from his experience as president and is willing to face problems which the left previously refused to face, such as an increase in violent crime or illegal immigration and more and more depends on experienced political figures of an older generation who should inspire confidence because of their long political experience and acquired worldly wisdom.

That entails of course addressing what such people consider to be the most pressing problems such as violent crime and illegal immigration and not dismissing them as false consciousness, but rather trying to put them in a broader context.

LFC said...

Well it's good that you've convinced some people. That's commendable.

Trump seems if anything more deranged now than ever, and I'm not looking forward to the campaign as it gets into high gear this summer and fall.

s. wallerstein said...


My guess would be that you shouldn't put down Trump. Rather you should point out Biden's positive qualities, if Biden is the candidate.

People identify with candidates so if you put down their candidate, they feel that you're putting them down, which fortifies their defense mechanisms.

LFC said...

s.w. -- Well, I would not say that to a Trump supporter; I'm addressing that remark to the readers of this blog comment thread. I entirely agree that telling someone their candidate is deranged is not a good persuasion strategy.

LFC said...

And btw to Max Richards, who asked for advice upthread from those older than himself. It's hard to give meaningful advice to someone one doesn't know IRL, but I think my advice would boil down to a cliché, namely, you're only going to be 23 once and you should be keenly aware of that fact. Meaning (inter alia) that you should not be afraid to experiment with things, whether in your personal life or, to the extent possible given your circumstances, in your work life. You have to be concerned with practical matters, as everyone does, but you should also take some time to think about what you want to do with your life, since most of it is ahead of you.

You should also be aware that you almost certainly won't be able to avoid some unhappiness and disappointment; that's just part of what it means to be human. Don't be too concerned with how others judge you, but try to listen to what Thoreau called "the inner law" or the inner voice; easier said than done, but worth trying. And one last thing -- and this is difficult -- try not to obsess about mistakes you might have made (if there are any). The arrow of time is unidirectional. No time machines are known to exist at present, and whatever the abstruse parts of theoretical physics may suggest, you can't go back in time. Every second that passes is over; don't waste time on the ones that have gone. And, without going into unbridled hedonism, do things that give you pleasure, whatever those things might be. Good luck.

LFC said...

you mentioned saying positive things about Biden to a (hypothetical) Trump supporter.

And here is something on cue, so to speak:
"The Biden administration has launched the most ambitious federal program for rural areas since rural electrification."

free link to the column:

Sentient said...

Anonymous @10:57 a.m.

Here's the MAGA conundrum: You can't argue reason with someone whose opinion was not derived from reason. You have to find common ground and work up from there. Maybe 50-60% of MAGA are not persuadable, but all you need in an election is maybe 10-15% in any constituency.

aaall said...

I'm not sure the Anon in question is flesh and blood.  A significant percentage of folks telling pollsters they will vote for Trump also indicate that they wouldn't vote for him if he is convicted of a crime. Given that Trump seems a slam dunk for the Reps, the margins in the primaries held so far are problematic for him in the general.

Maggits and folks who are siloed into Fox, Epoch, NewsMax, etc. are hopeless but are a solid minority (after all, the folks in those lynching postcards did have children and grandchildren). At this point most voters are low information and won't be paying attention for months to come. Meanwhile (and after Michigan and Super Tuesday) the Republican (bare) majority in the House will have to fund the government and deal with funding for Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan.

Further, the Republican Chief Justice of the Alabama SC just wrote a concurrence (and a follow up to Dobbs) that Cotton Mather and Jonathan Edwards would likely view with approval and Trump continues to decompensate.

Alsa, I see the GRU has finalized the itinerary:

aaall said...

This seems reasonable:

james wilson said...

As someone whose skin is “white”, who grew up in a predominantly Presbyterian Christian society and who numbers Christians (as well as atheists and much else) among his kin and friends, and who surely has some Anglo-Saxon as well as Celt and other things in his genetic makeup, I’ve always been a bit irritated to be among friends who casually and derogatorily refer to WASPs—no, we don’t mean you, they tell me when I query their dismissive racism (as it might be categorised, though I imagine they would claim, if pushed, that it was counter-racism).

I feel the same sort of irritation when I’m around people who make sweeping negative comments about “the Brits.” But you’re not British, we don’t mean you, they tell me. You’re Scottish, aren’t you. Given the ignorance that prevails, they just look puzzled when I respond, yes, I’m Scottish and I’m also British; the United Kingdom is a multi-national entity. More so now than when I was growing up there. I now number among my kin people who are Indian-Scottish-British. Were I to investigate further, I imagine I’d discover Black-Scottish-British relatives too. (If you look him up in Wikipedia, you’ll discover that the great athlete Daley Thompson whose mother was Scottish and whose father was Nigerian is there categorised as English in one place and British in another.) One need only look to the leadership of the major political parties at Edinburgh, and at Westminster, to see something of what I’m talking about. I’m not sure whether Brexit makes claims of such as I’ve described to be European on top of all these other identity markers now a bit dubious. But I still think of myself as European too.
And some of those I’ve referred to are Scottish nationalists, British nationalists, and some are even internationalists of several competing sorts.

After that long introduction, I’m finally getting to my point. I’m equally irritated when I see that lazy, no doubt sociologically and politically muddled phrase “white Christian nationalist” thrown out there in a casually derogatory way. I’ve confessed to being “white.” But I’ve never been myself religious of any sort. And I’m no nationalist of any sort either. Though I do believe many of those who throw out that just quoted phrase are themselves nationalists of a sort, just not “that sort of nationalist.” Anyway, I imagine I’m not the only one out there who finds such labelling just an easy way of kicking into the sidelines any attempts to really understand what’s going on in American politics today. I should have said just ANOTHER easy way of kicking into the sidelines, for I’m quite certain there’s a lot of other verbiage out there that’s supposed to refer in a meaningful way to social/political/economic entities, but which, when you really think about it, is more obfuscating than revealing, more ideological (in the shallow sense of that word) than explanatory, more self-indulgent than referential.

But what has any of this got to do with RPW’s question???? The audience has again rushed the stage and taken over the theatre and then claims that there is a dialogical thread to be followed.

PS> aaall, it’s surely not the case that descendants of lynchers all align in their virulence with their ancestors (or am I misreading you?). As it happens—I’m now skipping to your next pargraph to try to make my point—I had a very dear friend who was th drect descendant of Cotton Mather (a 9 x great grandson, in fact). He like his parents was a lifelong communist.

LFC said...

james wilson,

I find your comment quite clueless w.r.t. the phrase "white Christian nationalist." If, despite being Scottish, you live in the U.S., as you seem to, then I'm surprised you're unaware of the fact that that phrase has a fairly specific meaning in U.S. politics and refers to a quite specific ideology or, if you prefer, worldview. I wouldn't pass judgment necessarily on all the individuals who hold it but have no hesitation in condemning the ideology itself.

Your error partly stems from taking each of the terms -- white, Christian, and nationalist -- in isolation. That is a mistake. It is a single phrase. Hence of course not all Christians, by any means, adhere to WCN, nor do all whites of course, nor do nec. all "nationalists." Again, it is an integrated, single phrase, and refers to a specific ideological constellation. I suggest that before you condescendingly call others sociologically lazy, you might want to do some sociological/political research yourself.

LFC said...


Of course Anonymous @10:57 a.m. is flesh and blood. There's only one commenter here, afaik, who routinely ends his comments by leaving off the period in the last sentence. He used to post under a name and now posts anonymously. I'm fairly certain who Anonymous @10:57 a.m. is.

james wilson said...

Thankyou for your corrections, LFC. I always appreciate your eagerness to educate others. I'm afraid, having studied sociological and political matters for only 60 years I don't suppose I'll have much time to benefit from the instruction you offer. Still, I'll try not to take blanket labelling too seriously in future or else try to spend time trying to figure out its nuances.

Incidentally there's a piece in the NYT on the subject:

The opening paragraph mirrors my ignorant concerns with how a certain phrase is thrown into the world regardless of what damage it may do.

Cluelessly yours

John Pillette said...

First, @ James Wilson, “WASP” is shorthand for a member of the Northeast/New England protestant ascendency. Within New England, these people are otherwise known as “Yankees”. As you can readily see, “white” is superfluous; “anglo-saxon” is there to distinguish these people from the lesser races—the Irish, the French, the Italians, the Poles, the Portuguese—who showed up later to the shining city on the hill, and who were idolatrous Catholics and not Anglicans (“Protestant”).

It’s more of a class term than an ethno-religious one, and if you hang around rich Jews and Catholics in the northeast you will see that with enough money and polish you inevitably become a kind of honorary Episcopalian—even if may still belong to a separate country club. Eileen Myles (a Boston Irish Catholic girl) comments on the distinction as follows (line 6):

On The Death of Robert Lowell

O, I don't give a shit.
He was an old white haired man
Insensate beyond belief and
Filled with much anxiety about his imagined
Pain. Not that I'd know
I hate fucking wasps.
The guy was a loon.
Signed up for Spring Semester at Macleans
A really lush retreat among pines and
Hippy attendants. Ray Charles also
once rested there. So did James Taylor...
The famous, as we know, are nuts. Take Robert Lowell.
The old white haired coot.
Fucking dead.

Second, to return to the “will/intellect” distinction,

j.w. said...

Thanks to you too, J.P. for telling me things I'm actually quite well aware of. But the poem was new to me. In any case, depending on the social context one cannot help but take things a bit personally even should the shoe not quite fit. Hence my previous.

Besides contemplating the broader issues it engages with wrt some discussions here, one might also contemplate the following opening sentence of a ‘paper in progress’ referenced at another site (note the plural):

“U.S. political discourse seems to have fissioned into discrete bubbles, each reflecting its own distorted image of the world.”

accessed at

LFC said...

@ james wilson

The opening paragraphs in that David French column would seem to support my point, namely that WCN is a specific thing. (He identifies himself as an evangelical Christian in his bio, which I had occasion to look at the other day.)

Now perhaps I used the phrase WCN too broadly in a comment above, and if so, then I will try not do so in future. Though I simply meant to identify a portion -- a segment -- of Trump's followers with the phrase, which I suspect is accurate.

One more thing: I would never dream of correcting you or offering instruction. That's all in your head. You seem to have difficulty distinguishing disagreement from "instruction." Or is this simply your usual mode of conversing with someone who disagrees with you on a particular point or points? Would you prefer it if everyone agreed with you about everything? Wouldn't that make blog conversations rather dull?

s. wallerstein said...


Since you're a big fan of Mark Zuckerberg, here's an update on his cool 270 million dollar survival shelter.

LFC said...

@ james wilson

Just to make my point clearer: when I write "that is a mistake" in a comment, that is a way of signaling my disagreement; though on the surface it may appear to be "correction," that is a word that implies an assumed relation of inequality between us, which is something that I don't assume. Rather, I assume a relation of equality, for lack of a better word, and assume that I'm having a conversation with someone. If on occasion my tone may suggest otherwise to you, it is not an intentional suggestion on my part.

John Pillette said...

JW, when your friends say to you that you’re not a WASP, they are correct. Presbyterians don’t count. True, they are mainline protestants (like Lutherans) but they are just a little … off. (Nothing personal!)

Unless of course you’re a rich Presbyterian, in which case welcome to the club (just don’t talk about God). But if you were rich then you wouldn’t care what anybody says about you. But middle-class Presbyterians belong in New Jersey.

As for “White Christian Nationalism” this is the native creed of an entirely different species, native to the Appalachians, where they have bred and devolved into a dangerous (but uniquely fascinating!) feral population of hominid. These wild men of the hills may have started out as (nominally) Presbyterian Scots-Irish, but after bathing in the blood of the lamb so deeply and for so long, they have become something they call “One Hunnert Percent Ammurikin”.

LFC said...

One aspect of the worldview that I was shorthanding as WCN is a rejection of the separation of church and state (the establishment clause of the First Amendment notwithstanding). Add in dollops of xenophobia, opposition to women's rights (re abortion specifically, though not exclusively), and some other things. But I'll read the D. French column that was linked.

John Pillette said...

As a further reply to Max Richards, I’d like to continue the Will/Intellect Distinction, and think about how this plays out in the Administered World of today. As my one word of advice, I wish I had paid much closer attention to this much earlier (but: better late than never!).

The creep of Administration has continued apace. Even college (i.e., “Uni” as it’s called in the UK) today just doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun. It sounds a lot like life inside a corporation where you’re forever being finked on by some ambitious brown-noser and then dragged in front of a HR shrew and given a demerit for overlooking an obscure a sub-clause in the employee handbook. Thus, even the four (or three) years of intellectual freedom, that used to be considered the reward for suffering through high school, has now become a job-training scheme.

The effect of living in the world of Administration is to become estranged from one’s own embodied will. The body—that is to say, that thing which is uniquely you—falls away and one becomes dissolved in the intellect—that thing which is necessarily collective, administrative, and (this is the most important point) NOT made for your own benefit, but for the benefit of someone else.

Administration takes the worldly form of moralizing and moralizers, whose duty in life as they see it is to act as a corps of passive-aggressive philistine schoolmarms, policing the boundaries of correct speech and behavior, and “calling out” wrongthink wherever they can detect it. And insofar as they are employed as the modern equivalent of the witchfinder general, they have an interest in constantly discovering ever more novel forms of “destructive” or “harmful” (but actually creative) forms of thought, speech, and action.

Adorno loves to use the phrase “the administered world” and this is what he was talking about. I didn’t think of going off to school as a way of preparing myself to take up a position in the administrated world (admittedly, this was to my later misfortune), but at least I was able to enjoy the illusion of freedom for a few years.

Therefore, as a matter of practical advice, I would say (at the risk of sounding ridiculous), pay attention to your body—diet and exercise and direct unmediated aesthetic experience: the sublimity of the natural world and art. Jesus, I sound like a prep school headmaster (*mens sana in corpore sano* don’t you know) gone Californian native …

aaall said...

Perhaps it's time for the Prof to nod in our direction? Hope the seminar went (is going?) well.

s. wallerstein said...


I'll second that suggestion.

John Pillette said...

Sorry, here’s a PS for Max Richards:

Drop me an email/snail mail (you can get my address through the Cal. Bar) and let me know when you’ll be in the Bay Area. Otherwise, I’m in London at least once a year.

As for career advice, I too decided to get myself a professional qualification, so I could … do good? Let’s go with that, even though I thought of it more as *sticking it to the man*, as a rapacious plaintiff’s class action attorney. (This is a position that cannot exist in the UK, thanks to the archaic “English Rule” on fees … but that’s OK, because the old Harrovians and Etonians who run things over there would NEVER EVER not play by the rules.)

But this profession—like do-gooder-ism generally—can incline you toward Pessimism of the Intellect, because suing large corporations is like taking on a U.S. Navy frigate with a Korean War-surplus .30-06 rifle. Even when you manage to “win”, they nevertheless don’t lose … why, you can even manage to squeeze $49 million out of them, and they’ll still make that much and more in profits using the illegal practice you’re suing over. It is truly gall and wormwood to the spirit!

I mean, those numbers are purely hypothetical! ... I’M NOT BITTER!

Point is, trying to alter the structure of society is a ball-breaker, which makes the maintenance of Optimism of the Will all the more important.

s. wallerstein said...


Rather than trying to alter the structure of society, corrupt the youth of Athens.

Teach that Marx seminar if you're in a position to do so; if not, lend a book (even if it's not going to be returned) to the high school kid in your apartment building who questions things, talk to and question people you run into who don't seem like totally brainwashed machines; as my friend David told me years ago, talk to the kid who emerged from the factory with his paint job chipping.

As of the guy who started this whole thing a few thousand years ago, concentrate on the youth, corrupt them, try to leave the world a slightly less stupid place than it was.

That's enough.

Anonymous said...

The seminar is going very well. This Friday is the most important lecture of the entire semester – it deals with chapters 45 and six of capital, and especially with the last page of chapter 6 with which I have them read Plato‘s allegory of the cave. I am really looking forward to it

Anonymous said...

that’s weird – when I post a comment from my iPhone, it does not identify me. The previous comment was by Robert Paul Wolff.

s. wallerstein said...

I'm glad to hear that the seminar is going well.

I can see that connection between Marx and Plato's allegory of the cave.

Have a great class on Friday!!

LFC said...

The single thing that has stuck with me the most from RPW's online Marx lectures is that contrast/comparison of Plato's allegory of the cave, in which an ascent from darkness into sunlight takes one steadily closer to reality, with the last pp. of ch. 6 of Capital v. 1, where a descent into "the dark satanic mills" reveals the secret (according to Marx) of profit. So Marx's journey, from the misleading "sunlight" of the marketplace (where labor-power is sold and bought) down to the secret-revealing factory floor, is the inverse of Plato's journey from the cave into the sunlight. A neat contrast.

(Btw, a fairly recent book by a political theorist, _Marx's Inferno_, compares Capital to Dante. I haven't read it, but have mentioned it here a couple of times before.)

LFC said...

Another literary analogue just occurred to me -- it might be a bit of a stretch, but what the heck. In Shaw's play _Heartbreak House_, Captain Shotover says: "Give me greater darkness. Money is not made in the light." (Shaw of course had read Capital v. 1 and some other Marx as well.)

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