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  • Still from Koyannisqatsi—power lines in the desert.
    in Essays

    Dialectical Ecology

    Nature has a specific history. This is a history in which organic life, inclusive of humanity, acts on and changes the world, at the same time as the world acts on and changes organic life.

  • “Everywhere there is the Sun there is Communism,” Chinese Communist woodcut.
    in Notes

    On Sorting Books

    Shelving books is, in fact, a dialectical art. Against the rigid, metaphysical hierarchies of the Dewey Decimal System, the dialectical approach begins not with stale Platonic categories (“Philosophy,” “Art,” “Religion”) but with the understanding of the varied internal relations among books.

  • “New Planet,” symbolist painting by Konstantin Yuon (1921).

    Walter Rodney’s rejection of rigid models of historical interpretation and “necessary” trajectories of socialist development transcends Cold War limitations. Instead, his authentic use of Marxist historical materialism impels him to begin, per Lenin, with the “concrete analysis of concrete conditions.”

  • “The worship of Mammon,” painting circa 1909.
    in Essays

    Unmasking Mammon

    My review of Haymarket’s A People’s Guide to Capitalism: An Introduction to Marxist Economics, for The Bias magazine.

  • “Literacy is the path to communism,” Soviet poster (1920).

    Nothing could be the same in the world after 1917, for “what should never have been became real”—a society where the oppressed masses had overthrown the oppressing classes and where “a total change in the life of the people” was being made.

  • Roadside dino—cover of the 1998 mass market edition of City of Quartz.

    As a guide to understanding the cultural mythology and socio-geographical history of the singular American city that represents both “the utopia and dystopia for advanced capitalism,” there is none more incisive than Mike Davis’ City of Quartz.

  • Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels Monument Berlin 3D.
    in Notes

    The Marx Delusion

    If Marx focused so much on the material, it was because he found it integral to collective human flourishing in a sense similar to the Aristotelian eudamonia—physical, mental, and spiritual well-being achieved through practical activity.

  • Medieval illustration of men harvesting wheat with reaping-hooks.
    in Notes

    The Origin of Capitalism

    There is a story told about capitalism—mostly by its proponents: classical liberals, American conservatives, libertarians, and the like; but also sometimes inadvertently by its Marxist critics—that sees this system as synonymous with human nature in all times and all places.

  • Wood engraving from Camille Flammarion's <em>L'atmosphère: météorologie populaire</em> (1888).

    Thomas’ “metaphysics,” if indeed it can be called that, is neither an overarching rationalist system nor a purely sense-oriented empiricism. Perhaps it is ultimately closer to the dialectical materialism of Karl Marx—a philosophy engaged with the flux of material, historical change and humanity’s common interaction with itself and nature—than it is to any Enlightenment idealism.