You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Economics’ category.

Then you know you must leave the capitol
I laughed at the great God Pan
I didnae, I didnae
I laughed at the great god Pan
I didnae, I didnae, I didnae, I didnae
LEAVE THE CAPTIOL
EXIT THE ROMAN SHELL
Then you know you must leave the capitol
Pan resides in welsh green masquerades
On welsh cat caravans
But the monty
Hides in curtains
Grey blackish cream
All the paintings you recall
All the side stepped cars
All the brutish laughs
From the flat and the wild dog downstairs

The Fall/Mark E. Smith, “Leave the Capitol” [!! – Ed.]

To descry a world —
And see what it might needs contain —
That is a task
Befitting all one’s days.


Ernie Kovacs/Edie Adams, “Food”

Essais du Michel de Montaigne [Chicago-Neuf]
Chapitre 18

[p. 663]
Du Démentir

Voire mais on me dira que ce dessein de se servir de soy pour subject à escrire, seroit excusable à des hommes rares et fameux qui, par leur reputation, auroyent donné quelque desir de leur cognoissance. Il est certain: je l’advoue; et sçay bien que, pour voir un homme de la commune façon, à peine qu’un artisan leve les yeux de sa besongne, là où, pour voir un personnage grand et signalé arriver en une ville, les ouvroirs et les boutiques s’abandonnent. Il méssiet à tout autre de se faire cognoistre, qu’à celuy qui a dequoy se faire imiter, et duquel la vie et les opinions peuvent servir de patron. Caesar et Xenophon ont eu dequoy fonder et fermir leur narration en la grandeur de leurs faicts comme en une baze juste et solide. Ainsi sont à souhaiter les papiers journaux du grand Alexandre, les commentaires qu’Auguste, Caton, Sylla, Brutus et autres avoyent laissé de leurs gestes. De telles gens on ayme et estudie les figures, en cuyvre mesmes et en pierre. Cette remontrance est tres-vraie, mais elle ne me touche que bien peu: [Image 0293]

Non recito cuiquam, nisi amicis, idque rogatus,
Non ubivis, coramve quibuslibet. In medio qui
Scripta foro recitent, sunt multi, quique lavantes.

[p. 664]
Je ne dresse pas icy une statue à planter au carrefour d’une ville, ou dans une Eglise, ou place publique:

I do not pass by the statue to ‘plant a kiss’ on a city, without so much as a church, or public place:

Non equidem hoc studeo, bullatis ut mihi nugis
Pagina turgescat.
Secreti loquimur.

No equality in “scholarship” [*scholarship* – Eds.]
Only “bulls” lacking mine own “nullification”
Of “page-turners” for the Smart Set
And “loquacious secrets” – –
surpassing understanding.

Chicago now: Chicago Now: The Entirety of the “critical edition” attractively online


NB: COSATU!

Now for an exigence: explaining the function of the writing of economics; generally, an unfortunate occurrence rather than modest proposal. The fundamental view of the Marxist economist, shared by Marx himself, is that the worthwhile economic activity is labour, not the explanation of such to no dirigente function: the Marxist attitude is that Marx’s economic works represent a minimal economic theory, explaining exactly what must be in order for industrial production to continue at its best — profits always falling to minimally sustainable levels, factories failing to be shuttered, blown up, commandeered, or repurposed into plowshares for beating: and work a hardship and a hindrance, always. (No eternal returns or lamb’s blood needed.)

What might motivate the writing of a work of pure economics, closing the circuit of political signification such that circuits of regular signification close without remainder and we are left only with the physical world and the residues of conversations once had, paintings once seen, animalia and a cap of some kind: the thought that “waiting for the end of the world” is a bootless activity, preserving an ahistorical horror at variance with the preservation of certain features of the present moment and its successors which would be of value without coin. There is no future other than this, and no past other than the one remembered in solidarity with the present: a long time ago someone fervently wished for your death, and you can live within it without others, but even put-ups from Southern California die and everybody else has a better chance: so, on to an a-grammaticism of the ’70s conspiracy book at any price.

Presto: those who use the expression “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” to mean, straight off, that you can’t get something for nothing are missing something. The expression is American 19c, and it refers to the standing institution of the “free lunch counter”: a place where workingmen of a particular stripe could receive a rather sumptuous repast — or more often a sandwich — for the “price” of a drink.

The sense in which the free-lunch counter was not free is not that of the inexpensive alcohol served to accompany the meal: it refers, rather, to the political patronage system one had to enter to engage in such a pastime: that of the Democratic “machine”. The existence of such a peculiar institution was offensive to many for divers reasons, but although the standing principle incarnated in the adage’s modern variant is sounder not learning the lessons of the American past is a treat reserved for the happy few.

What is not a treat reserved for the happy few is inexpensive and well-designed software, and if the people think (as I once did) that Microsoft products are overpriced this is partially because they do not remember other “sectors” of commercial computing such as CAD programs that cost $10,000 a copy, and the competing products which would teach us the true virtues of, e.g., Microsoft Word — as opposed to its reliability and “ease of use” — are not around, perhaps on account of the Department of Justice.

“Open-source” software teaches valuable lessons about computing, such as its historical structure (earlier software cleaner and simpler and more likely to be available today) and the reliance of the “cooperative commonwealth” on the good will of programmers and other IT professionals, including those for rather powerful and “cutting-edge” companies. Sun is no “greenhorn”, and there are features in OpenOffice which they may not ultimately “know what they do”, at least yet.

If it is really worth doing quickly, precisely, and worldwide — such that the digital computer is an essential tool for accomplishing your task — open-source products incorporated in the free POSIX systems available for fifteen years are a good deal: however, if what is being done is more or less a “reflection” of the ends of a particular “man”, Microsoft products are as I said six years ago very good indeed: if one must “smash the mold” at any price, I guess the very best technology and the very least access “under the hood” would be all right.

Nec me animi fallit Graiorum obscura reperta
difficile inlustrare Latinis versibus esse,
multa novis verbis praesertim cum sit agendum
propter egestatem linguae et rerum novitatem;
sed tua me virtus tamen et sperata voluptas
suavis amicitiae quemvis efferre laborem
suadet et inducit noctes vigilare serenas
quaerentem dictis quibus et quo carmine demum
clara tuae possim praepandere lumina menti,
res quibus occultas penitus convisere possis.

I know how hard it is in Latian verse
To tell the dark discoveries of the Greeks,
Chiefly because our pauper-speech must find
Strange terms to fit the strangeness of the thing;
Yet worth of thine and the expected joy
Of thy sweet friendship do persuade me on
To bear all toil and wake the clear nights through,
Seeking with what of words and what of song
I may at last most gloriously uncloud
For thee the light beyond, wherewith to view
The core of being at the centre hid.

Lucretius, De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things)

Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month’s newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Take from the dresser of deal,
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Wallace Stevens, “The Emperor of Ice-Cream”

A word about the Roman Empire, and the correct interpretation of Latin sayings. The Roman Empire was completely given over to latinium, that is the third-person genitive plural of latito, “to be concealed”. Latin reveals the truth of signification: like the Etruscan alphabet, written words are primarily for decorative purposes and spoken ones “perlocutionary” all (at least in intention). The true life is amidst the physical structure of the world, and Latin literature exists solely for use when you have somehow forgotten this [Latin philosophy], or failed to learn it adequately [Latin literature]. It is the least pleasing of all languages, and never really spoken: as Gramsci knew, Popular Latin is a very different thing (not actually that vulgar), and reasonable people know enough to say something else.

People sometimes say, even apropos of nothing, that the United States is a “capitalist” country. There is a sense in which this is a harmless and accurate characterization: it has, and always has had, a guarantee of the individual right to own private property, protection and regulation of free enterprise, and a money system carefully controlled by the federal government. There is also a sense in which you can go to jail for not realizing these can be the only legal constituents of “capitalism” in the United States, and too much realism leads to mental rather than physical strife.

flint9

Flint GM sit-down strike, 1936-7

On this, the seventh day of the week, let me share an observation about labor law with you. It is a piece of “common knowledge” that the sit-down strike, where laborers occupy the factory until their demands are met, was a popular tactic in the ’30s but became illegal with the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1948. However, my considered opinion is this: actually, sit-down strikes were illegal under the Wagner Act as well — one of the basic principles of property law is akin to the Third Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, in that you just can’t be forced to house people on your property if you don’t want them there. There is one way, however, to get around this, and that is if the crimes that have been committed against the workers are so great that they legally own the factory, as it would be required to be deeded to them in damages were the matters ever to come to trial: and really, this is the story behind the famous unionization of General Motors thanks to the sit-down strike at the Fisher Auto Body plants in Flint, Michigan from December 1936 to February 1937. They just couldn’t be removed, and don’t think Midwestern “authorities” are not highly motivated with respect to such issues: however, it would have been impolitic to actually entirely seize control of the means of production.