Newslettering is praxis. I know this because I do a newsletter, and I am a
, thus my production (i.e.: news and letters)
ergo ipso facto
must be praxis. Note: I have never actually understood what praxis actually is. Up top is Tyler introducing us to a new, unknown economist.
During quarantine when most, if not all, social contact has been extinguished, many of us have turned to our bookshelves. Although I started prior to the outbreak, I took it upon myself to finish Capital: Volume 1 during this time of uncertainty and isolation.
Marx has always been a slippery figure to me. I knew of him, I read short bios, articles on his work, and listened to podcasts, but I never really had the full picture. He was a thread woven into all (consciously or otherwise) leftist writing or commentary I’ve ever interacted with. There were common quotes, sure, but for a man who wrote so much, who loomed so large, it felt wrong that I had never read him in his own words.
Capital is a big book. The size of it alone is off-putting. In an early section that includes responses to criticism and reviews of Capital, Marx responds to someone requesting that it be released in periodicals so it would be more easily digestible to the workers who should be reading it. Marx explains that the first chapters are so difficult he worries that people wouldn't continue with further issues so it must be published as a whole. This makes sense to me now. I wonder how many people have read the first two chapters, got sick of hearing about linen and coats, and put it down for good.
So having said all that, here are Tyler’s tips and tricks for reading Capital (Volume 1 at least):
Do it with friends! (real or imagined) - It really is a better experience if you have someone to bounce ideas or questions off of. Or if there is a horrible pandemic shutting down the world then I highly recommend watching the David Harvey “Reading Capital” series of lectures on YouTube after every chapter.
It isn’t as hard as it seems (after the first chapter or two) - Look, the first couple of chapters are a grind and it’s hard to know what to focus on. Just hang in there and don’t get caught up on the little details. You don’t need to know how much linen turns into how many coats, you just need to know that he is showing you the math on how he arrives at his conclusions. Again - Harvey’s lectures are great for cutting through all the complicated proofs and confirming the big takeaways.
It’s well written! - Although some sections are quite dry, I was surprised at how compelling a writer Marx is. It shouldn’t be surprising given how influential his work and ideas are. it’s very easy to imagine a lesser writer coming to the same conclusions but not having the same impact (due inability to communicate the ideas, or lack of readership).
It’s funny! - I laughed out loud many times. Marx is great at slamming bourgeois political economists of his time and historical giants in the field. He really doesn’t hold back and it’s very satisfying.
Digest it a chapter at a time - There is so much packed into each chapter that it really helps to pause and ensure you are picking up what is being laid out. This may require re-reading some sections, chatting to your reading group, or (again) listen to David Harvey summarize it perfectly. This will mean that it may take you much longer to read the book, but what is the point of reading it if it isn’t understood right?
Try not to buy your copy on Amazon - We don’t need to do more to get Bezos to a trillion dollar net worth do we? There are ample free sources and if you are ok with paying for a copy, lots of local stores have them in stock or would be happy to order a copy in for you.
There has been a lot of debate recently about whether Marx is still important. Just this month a podcast clip from Nathan J. Robinson of Current Affairs caused quite a stir when he argued against his contribution. If we could win people over to socialism through moral or spiritual means alone things would be much easier for us, but political economy isn’t that easy to learn or communicate. Unfortunately, we need to find other ways to convince people that a better world is possible and a great way to do that is to appeal to people’s self interest. Socialist political economy is the best way we have to make this argument - you are not being compensated fully for the value that you create, and there is a vast system of repression dedicated to keeping it this way.
You can learn these concepts from other thinkers and writers, but it will always come back to Marx. Until the next once in a century (or two) thinker comes along and gives us a better way to understand these concepts I think Marx will be essential to the success of the socialist project. It seems scary, but I promise that once you start you will see what all the fuss is about and you might even learn a thing or two. Do you have to read Marx to work here? No...but it helps.
-Tyler, Team Advantage
🦷Private long-term health care providers are getting all sorts of government handouts, everything from straight cash infusions to military assistance so they can cut paid shifts and get that cheddar. Perhaps their profits could pay to take better care of the elderly? Crazy thought, I know.
👨🏽🌾After all the trouble we had this spring with humans processing cows, pigs are finally getting a better facility to process humans.
🥽At this point the AER is just an expensive daycare.
🍄For some reason utility bills were never on the table as an avenue of aid for COVID related cash crunches for citizens. I’m not really sure why. Anyway their c-suite fucks are still getting that cream, baby.
🕵🏼The UCP apparatus is opting out of the will of the market and instead is taking big government handouts.
👨🦰In Canada, domestic violence is a national pastime with a long history.
🐰Small, powerful union to send hundreds of workers into work environment where saliva is frequently sprayed into their face during a pandemic.
👩🏽🚀CBC finds local executives to closely inspect their gift horses in the mouth.
🐘A good deal of your parents’ retirement, the revenue of your governments, and the jobs of a huge chunk of the planet depend on commercial real estate thriving and, baby, that ship is sinking.
🍥Sex workers will always be a marginalized group of workers, even after an accelerated few decades of professionalization.
🐒Local sightings of a harmful and dangerous cryptid likely false alarms.
🌤Every possible excuse will be used to shut down tent cities. COVID is the new “scary looking propane tank”.
🥑Apartheid vibes are back in South Africa.
🍽Amazon is doing some murder.
🐲Sort of liberal newspaper chain purchased as shiny new debt vehicle for wealthy conservative donors.
🥜Unions as a safety device when reporting COVID danger might mean getting shitcanned.
🎂Juche was confirmed to not confer the power of teleportation, or “blinking” across vast distances. True communism is still the only way to teleport.
🎮This ONE WEIRD TRICK gets rid of CAPITALISM for good! (Bourgeois pigs hate him!!)
📉Joel talked to Geoff over at N99 and mapped out how we tricked you all into loving us.
🎧A train podcast has our boyfriend on as a guest? Sign us up.
🔇Small, unknown podcast interviews Vincent Bevins about his book on U.S. foreign policy, Indonesian genocide, and exporting a method for South American coups.
🏉Mostly stay home. Watch other people do things. Note their lack of social distance. Get angry. Have your parents call and ask if you should see each other. Say you’re not sure. Get more angry. See the positive coronavirus numbers stay more or less flat. Wonder if the numbers are real. Miss your friends. Try to Zoom again and get frustrated at the delay. Argue with your partner. Go for a walk. Realize walking is boring. Get more angry. Read the news. Pay your bills. See how much money corporations are getting. Eat ramen again. Get more angry. See full patios. Wear a mask. Get potting soil. Make some bread. Tip your delivery guy. Read a book. Put it down after two pages. Get more angry. Tell your mom you might get her sick. Explain it might get worse in the winter. Read about Trinity-Bellwoods. Get real angry.
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Our editor is Clinton Hallahan.