Socialist Content Roundup 3/12/2023
The week in content.
Thanks for all of the submissions! As always, if you have some for next week, click here.
Special - Israeli Violence in Huwara, Palestine - Daniel Bessner and Derek Davison, American Prestige. A good discussion with Jalal Abukhater and Udi Greenberg about the recent escalation of violence in Huwara
Ron DeSantis's Military Secrets: Torture & War Crimes - Mike Prysner, Eyes Left. Crucial reporting on the time governor and presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis served as a Navy lawyer in Guantanamo Bay, featuring an interview with former Gitmo prisoner Mansoor Adayfi.
What Happened to Social Mobility in America? - Branko Milanovic, Foreign Affairs. Contemporary political analysis is often dissatisfied with the old Marxist formulation of a tiny faction of capitalists exploiting a larger body of workers; either the “ruling class” now includes something like the upper-middle-class, or there is some kind of intermediary “third class” between the capitalists and the workers who seem to have power, though not all of it.
Branko, here, is advancing the latter argument as simply and cleanly as one can by insisting that the antagonism of capital and labor are no longer “embodied” in distinct people; you can have people who are at once both workers and capitalists. The question a Marxist must ask, I think, is this: can such people stop working at will, or not?
Higher education is shockingly right-wing - Steve Randy Waldman, Drafts. One of those obvious-truths-that-need-to-be-said posts: universities are insanely hierarchical, and hierarchy is the domain of the right. Which explains why the “leftism” coming out of higher education is often ostentatiously radical, if not substantively: “academics have to work unusually hard to convince themselves that they are not bad people. This encourages an unusually expressive and radical politics.”
The False Promise of ChatGPT - Noam Chomsky, The New York Times. One of the most astonishing features of human intelligence is our ability to produce extremely complex and sophisticated ideas given extremely little sensory input. That’s how babies learn to talk. And yet a lot of what we call “artificial intelligence” these days, Chomsky argues, is doing the exact opposite: replicating human speech by parsing terabytes and terabytes of language.
High Injury Rates Push Minnesota’s Amazon Workers to Organize for Safety - Isabela Escalona, Workday Magazine. “Once, a product was leaking, she says, and workers wore gloves to handle it, but the chemical just went right through them.” Have you ever heard a story about working at Amazon that doesn’t like it comes from some kind of horror movie?
It’s Still Incredibly Common for Americans to Be Uninsured - Matt Bruenig, Jacobin. One of the more important recurring themes in Matt’s writing is how fluid poverty is; while we tend to imagine the poor as a distinct group of particular people, it’s actually a category that people are entering and leaving all the time. And this means, among other things, people losing and gaining health insurance. Remarkably, more than 20% of Americans went uninsured at some point between 2017 and 2020.
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