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Posted by: Doug Henwood | October 12, 2018

Fresh audio product

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

October 11, 2018 Julia Posca on the new right-wing CAQ government in Quebec • Alfredo Saad-Filho on the probable next president of Brazil, the frighteningly right-wing Jair Bolsonaro, and the global strong man phenomenon

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Posted by: Doug Henwood | October 8, 2018

Expropriate Yale

Here’s what I said before and after my interview with Shamus Khan about elite schools on my October 4 radio show. Someone on Twitter asked me to post the comments, and here they are.

First, elite schools. I have some personal experience with them. I grew up in a mediocre suburb in northern New Jersey and went to mediocre public schools. But since I did all the things you’re supposed to do, I got admitted to Yale in 1971 and spent four years there. It was quite a shock to me to confront all those generations of institutional power—Yale was then 270 years old—and a stratum of people I barely knew existed, preppies. People like me had only begun going to Yale in the early 1970s; starting in the late 1960s, under the admissions director R. Inslee Clark, known in classic WASP style as “Inky,” the university began admitting middle class kids from public schools, and women as well. (A few years ago, Clark was revealed to be part of a ring of sexual predators at the Horace Mann School in the Bronx during the 1970s and 1980s.) The legacies, those whose fathers and grandfathers went to Yale and whose names sometimes appeared on buildings, were still there in quantity, but the days when Yale and the other Ivies were mere finishing schools for rich young men were over. They became much more meritocratic (a problematic word worth a show in itself) institutions for ruling class recruitment.

As part of that molding of future leaders, a word such institutions like, places like Yale inculcate the sense, if you weren’t already born into it, that the world is yours for the taking. That attitude came into gross public view with Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings. My first guest, Shamus Khan, had an op-ed in the Washington Post about that culture. Khan is the author of a book about a prep school he was both student and teacher at called Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite at St. Paul’s School, published by Princeton University Press in 2013. He’s also chair of the sociology department at Columbia. Shamus Khan.

 


 

The tales of Kavanaugh’s time as a member of DKE, the gross fraternity, reminded me of the only guy I knew who was a member. Frats had almost died at Yale in the early 1970s; the culture of the 1960s undermined them—though sadly not fatally since they underwent something of a revival during the Reagan years. The major undergraduate achievement of the DKE guy I knew was throwing a burning couch out of his dorm window while quite drunk. That’s Brett Kavanaugh’s set.

I had a great time at Yale, I must say, but it should not exist. It’s too rich, and it is mainly an instrument of ruling class reproduction. Expropriate it, I say, and give the money to broke public universities.

 

Posted by: Doug Henwood | October 5, 2018

Fresh audio product

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

October 4, 2018 Shamus Khan on the culture of entitlement at elite schools (op-ed here) • Thea Riofrancos on the fraying legitimacy of the ruling class and its possibilities for the left

Posted by: Doug Henwood | September 27, 2018

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Just posted to my radio archive (click on date for link):

September 27, 2018 Anand Giridharadas, author of Winners Take All, on the win–win business- and plutocrat-friendly philanthropy of today’s nouveau riche

Posted by: Doug Henwood | September 20, 2018

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September 20, 2018 Two socialist women run for office and win: Margaret Corvid, city council, Plymouth, England, and Julia Salazar, New York state senate, Brooklyn

Posted by: Doug Henwood | September 10, 2018

Sadly, there is no strike wave

In a September 8 post to the Jacobin website, Eric Dirnbach announced that “US workers are striking again.” In the piece, he discloses:

That’s why it’s fascinating that in 2018, we’re seeing a dramatic increase in the number of large work stoppages. I count sixteen for the first half of the year, including one lockout, which if this trend continues, puts us on track for thirty-two for the full year. The number of large work stoppages has not been thirty or more since the year 2000.

It would be lovely if this were true, but it’s not.

Dirnbach makes it clear in this piece that he doesn’t understand the strike stats at all. (And precision demands noting that the Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS] calls the series “work stoppages,” because it includes lockouts.) He seems to think the stats are released only annually, but in fact they’re regularly updated and available on the Bureau‘s website.

That data tells us that from January through July (the most recent month available), there were twelve large work stoppages (meaning involving 1,000 workers or more). If that rate is annualized, that would work out to 21 stoppages this year [12/(7/12) = 20.57]. As the top graph below shows, that’s not all that much of a departure from recent experience. That’s just a bit above 2011 and 2012’s 19. It ties 2007’s rate and falls short of 2005’s 22.

Strikes

And by another measure, the share of workdays of “idleness” (gotta love the Calvinism of labor statisticians)—the number of workdays lost to stoppages (number of strikers times the length of the strike) as a percent of workdays throughout the U.S. economy—is barely off the 0 line, as the second graph shows.

Of course the year isn’t over yet, and anything could happen. But there’s no strike wave underway.

PS: Point of personal privilege—the article uses the lbo-news graph of union density from this article without credit. That’s not nice.

PPS: The Jacobin version was a reprint of a July Medium post. At least that version offered proper credit for the graph.

Posted by: Doug Henwood | August 31, 2018

Fresh audio product

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

August 30, 2018 Raven Rakia, a journalist with The Appeal, on the nationwide prison strike (more here and here) • Asad Haider, author of Mistaken Identity, on race and class

[the source of the info on the Shostakovich quartet is here]

Posted by: Doug Henwood | August 26, 2018

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August 23, 2018 Rob Larson, author of Capitalism vs. Freedom, explores how the “free market” is a realm of unfreedom, and Keith Gessen discusses his new novel about contemporary Russia, A Terrible Country

Posted by: Doug Henwood | August 17, 2018

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August 16, 2018 Christina Gerhardt, author of Screening the Red Army Faction, on the RAF’s history and artistic reception in the context of the German 1960s and 1970s

Posted by: Doug Henwood | August 3, 2018

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August 2, 2018 Adam Tooze and Leo Panitch, separately, on globalization, Trump, the American empire, declinism, etc.

 

Posted by: Doug Henwood | July 20, 2018

The Russia obsession

Some ambitious and generous person at The Raucous Rooster transcribed my radio commentary from yesterday. Thank you!

Good God, the Russia obsession!

It seems that Democrats are now incapable of talking about anything but Russian interference in our sacred elections.

The Trump administration is eviscerating environmental regulations, appointing horrific judges, prosecuting a grotesque war on refugees and immigrants, and we’re hearing about little other than Putin’s alleged hold over Trump, often expressed in grossly homophobic terms.

In doing so, they’re accepting uncritically the version of events proffered by cops, prosecutors and the CIA, organizations made up of professional liars who’ve been enemies of democracy and free expression at home and abroad for decades.

We’re seeing Dem pundits even accusing Bernie Sanders and other insurgents within their party of being Russian agents, witting or unwitting. Their indictments of Trump for treason make them sound like demented right-wingers at the height of the Cold War.

This obsession does relieve mainstream Democrats of concocting an attractive agenda that might win an election or two, but to do that they’d have to tack left, and Goldman Sachs wouldn’t like that.

This Russia obsession’s a win win for the establishment though – subdue Trump and the domestic left insurgency all at once.

I understand why those within a half a standard deviation of the center would embrace it, but why anyone further left would play along with it is beyond me.

Please stop.

Posted by: Doug Henwood | July 20, 2018

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July 19, 2018 Rebecca Gordon explains why Nicaraguans are protesting the Ortega government (article here) • Alex Gourevitch on how the workplace is authoritarian, and why strikes are essential (article here)

Posted by: Doug Henwood | July 13, 2018

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July 12, 2018 Jason Wilson on the Hammond pardons and the right-wing riot in Portland • Christy Thornton analyzes AMLO’s victory in Mexico’s election

Posted by: Doug Henwood | July 5, 2018

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July 5, 2018 Chris Maisano, author of this article, on the effect of the Supreme Court’s Janus decision on public employee unions • Forrest Hylton, co-author of this article, on Colombian politics after the June presidential election

Posted by: Doug Henwood | June 28, 2018

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June 28, 2018 Leo Panitch on Doug Ford, Ontario’s Trump • Cordelia Fine, author of Testosterone Rex, dispenses with all the nonsense about biological differences between the sexes (back after two-week hiatus because of a major writing deadline)

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