Saturday, April 29, 2017

France's "The Revolt of the Angels".

A bookish angel whose studies turned into a blasphemer and a rebel against the Creator, an idle and womanising aristocratic youth who rediscovered his own version of Catholic faith after being dumped by his guardian angel, and a librarian with an unhealthy attachment to books are the main characters of Anatole France's "The Revolt of the Angels".

Around these three characters, whose paths criss-cross, France, the 1921 Nobel Prize in Literature winner, weaves a story set in early 20th century Paris, in 35 short vignettes, telling their frequently small, occasionally large, personal adventures and dramas. Surprisingly and in contrast to the supernatural character of its protagonist and his epic quest, those episodes, often told with charm and a subtle, benign humour, are eminently down to earth, providing a glimpse into the final years of the French Belle Époque.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Bhaskar against Marx's Alleged Determinism.

Guess what?

Roy Bhaskar, founder of critical realism, wrote the entry "Determinism", for A Dictionary of Marxist Thought, Tom Bottomore (ed.).

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Scientific Socialism: a Primer.

David Ruccio writes about yesterday's March for Science staged in many countries, including Australia. In our times of alternative facts and fake news, its significance is evident.

Ruccio's post, however, also reminded me of Albert Einstein's essay "Why Socialism?", where Einstein laid out his views on socialism.

Although his prominence may have afforded Einstein some protection, it took courage to pen that piece: the late 1940s-early 1950s wasn't a good time to write favourably about socialism anywhere, least of all in an openly Marxist journal. Yet, "Why Socialism?" was published originally in 1949 in the first issue of the Monthly Review, whose editors -- whom we might suppose know something about basic Marxism -- decided to file it under "Marxism".