Category: Political Economy

Digested Read: Albert O. Hirschman’s The Passions and the Interests—Political Arguments for Capitalism before Its Triumph

Francisco Leal: Albert Hirschmann

Note: This is a “Midrash”, gloss, or “digested read” of Albert O. Hirschman’s book, The Passions and the Interests. It is decidedly not a critical analysis or a review of his work. As such it presents the author’s arguments as he makes them, and does not attempt an evaluation. It is presented here in the spirit of an apprentice student attempting to come to terms with the work of the master, and if it helps you with your own researches (or gives you any intellectual pleasure!), please consider reading it in its entirety—it’s not……

Digested Read: Talking To My Daughter About The Economy, by Yanis Varoufakis

This is a “Midrash“, gloss, or “digested read” of Varoufakis’s book, not a critical analysis or a review. As such it presents the author’s arguments as he makes them, and does not attempt an evaluation. I do provide a review of the book over on my blog, however.

1 Why So Much Inequality?

The book begins with a simple, childish question, one that any daughter could ask of her father: why is there so much inequality in the world? Some babies are given special status-projecting clothes purchased from a boutique baby store, while a vast many others are wrapped in rags—how is this so? To answer this question, Varoufakis has to describe to his daughter how capitalism works, how it differs from all……

Digested Read: The Reactionary Mind by Corey Robin

Cory Robin Reactionary Mind

This post functions more as a midrash or a gloss upon the second edition of Corey Robin’s book The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Donald Trump. As such, this probably won’t work for you if you are looking for a critical analysis or a review ( my much shorter review of the book can be read here. This article, by contrast, will attempt to restate in some detail Robin’s understanding of how we got to Trump from Burke, of what has changed over time in conservative thought, and what has stayed the same.

Part of what has changed is that the conservatives have largely won: throughout the industrialized west/north there is no longer any viable left to oppose them. This, as……

This Is Capitalism: The Vision of Ellen Meiksins Wood

The late Ellen Meiksins Wood had a long and illustrious career teaching the history of political thought at Toronto’s York University. In light of her death earlier this year, it is fitting to recount just how much she taught us about the specificity of capitalism. Her sizable body of work not only spans the entire history of western political thought, it also thereby clairifies for us just what makes capitalism so different from the economic systems of other eras, and in doing so provides an understanding of the contemporary politico-economic reality that is a useful alternative to the perhaps more influential ‘post-Fordist’ or ‘commercialization model’ theorists such as David Harvey, Immanuel Wallerstein and others.

Wood teaches us how, in order to more fully appreciate the present moment of capitalist history, it will be necessary to distinguish ‘essence’ from ‘accident’ in capitalism…

Capitalism and its Discontents: On Utopia or Bust, by Benjamin Kunkel

I have written on the intersection of capitalism and literature in the past, and I’m intrigued about Benjamin Kunkel’s project in Utopia or Bust of giving a number of leftist thinkers (some of whom are more relatively unknown than others, especially to North Americans) a public hearing. I find his style to be engaging, personable, and forthright. Note:I will be adding reflections on each chapter of the book as I get to them — as of right now Chapters 1 and 2 are complete and can be found below.