Cambridge Mass Gentrification slogan

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I am re-posting three links I’ve already published, giving them a little more space. Go read the whole posts.

Racism: not his­tor­ical

Towards the end of this interview with Doug Henwood, Adolph Reed criticizes the tendency to describe the effect of race on contemporary politics using analogies drawn from the racism of the past—as a “new slavery” or “new Jim Crow.” I was reminded of Benjamin’s “On the Concept of History”:

One reason why Fascism has a chance is that in the name of progress its opponents treat it as a historical norm. The current amazement that the things we are experiencing are ‘still’ possible in the twentieth century is not philosophical. This amazement is not the beginning of knowledge—unless it is the knowledge that the view of history which gives rise to it is untenable. [KEEP READING]

For a so­cialist gen­tri­fi­ca­tion

I realized the area I’d moved into was further along in gentrification than my old neighborhood when I went out to get some food and quickly came across a smart-looking cafe with only two items on its menu: soup and grilled cheese. This is probably a good thing; personally (the soup/grilled cheese combo was quite tasty) but also ethically. As a white guy who doesn’t have a huge income but has quite a lot of, for want of a better term, social capital, gentrification is my essence, quite independent of my will in the matter; so, better to live somewhere that’s already pretty much gentrified, rather than assist in kicking off the process in some new area.

I say “ethically” rather than “politically,” because centering your analysis around anti-gentrification leads to moralism and bad politics. I was reminded indirectly of this today reading an article in the SFBG about Tesco opening stores in poor areas of San Francisco that don’t accept payment from the WIC program. This is a legitimate thing to complain about, but the article not only makes a bizarre attempt to defend WIC as different from “welfare,” it doesn’t mention the larger scandal that the US, disgustingly, provides food aid to the poor in the form of dehumanizing vouchers, rather than money. See also the title of this post,  “Are Bike Lanes Expressways to Gentrification” which is a good entry in the annals of “headlines to which the answer is obviously ‘no.’” The post itself is good, though, seeing bike lanes as a symptom, rather than a cause, of the fact that race and class effect municipal spending priorities and planning decisions. Indeed, the post gets rather closer to the heart of the issue, which is that gentrification is itself a symptom, pointing out that “there must be serious consideration of alternative housing models that reduce the displacement of low-income communities” and suggesting “commons-based housing models such as limited equity cooperative housing and community land trusts.” [KEEP READING]

In English writers of the 17th century we frequently find “worth” in the sense of value in use, and “value” in the sense of exchange value. This is quite in accordance with the spirit of a language that likes to use a Teutonic word for the actual thing, and a Romance word for its reflexion.

Marx misses a trick here by failing to point out why English has this strange dichotomy. When the Normans invaded England in 1066, they implanted a French-speaking aristocracy, ruling over a people who spoke Anglo-Saxon. So the language used in much daily practice was (Germanic) Anglo-Saxon, while the language used in law and administration was French. English retains in its vocabulary traces of something Marx pointed out in The German Ideology, the basis of abstract thought (and hence also ideology) in the division of mental and manual labor: [KEEP READING]

The link to the LBO interview reminded me I ought to link more to their radio shows. Here are some examples:

September 10, 2011 Mike Lofgren, former Congressional staffer and author of this spirited farewell to his long-time party, describes the furious insanity of the GOP • Jonathan Kay, author of Among the Truthers, andKathy Olmsted, UC–Davis prof and author of Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracyon conspiriacism, esp the 9/11 kind

September 3, 2011 David Cay Johnston on how corps and the megarich get away with paying almost no taxes (his Reuters column on GE is here) • Adolph Reed on the Dems, the inflated threat of the Tea Party, and the diminishing usefulness of race as a political cateogry

August 20, 2011 Max Ajl, the Jewbonics blogger, on why Israelis are in the streets and how talk of the Occupation is not welcome • Yanis Varoufakisupdates the eurocrisis as it spreads westwards

July 30, 2011 Joel Schalit on Brevik, the European right, its attitude towards Israel, and Israel’s own right • Brad DeLongon the political economy of austerity

And here is Doug Henwood’s blog.

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