Bottom Feeders

by Kieran Healy on August 23, 2012

Honestly, this sort of thing is best ignored:

Christ, what a bottom-feeder.

But I like $100 as much as the next guy, so here is my video.



Chris 08.23.12 at 9:29 pm

The means of production… of Portals?


Rakesh 08.23.12 at 9:53 pm

So cool I’ve read all of them except for the one under the McClellan abridgment without the footnotes and based iirc the 1904 translation. Do like the new material that wood added to the second addition


MPAVictoria 08.23.12 at 10:01 pm



Substance McGravitas 08.23.12 at 10:04 pm

I must say this news story is very informative.


Rakesh 08.23.12 at 10:06 pm

Oh i see that’s an edition of the tribune journalism I have not seen I still love the stuff from the interwar years lukacs pasukanis gross man Otto Bauer Paul sweezy and the forgotten and idiosyncratic William j Blake husband to the novelist Christina stead


Izzy 08.23.12 at 10:25 pm

I assume the real news here is the implication that Marx and Aperture are teaming up to destroy the world’s cake supply.


otto 08.23.12 at 11:24 pm

Surely you are not anything so right-wing as a “liberal”?


christian_h 08.24.12 at 12:39 am

My chance to make it big in Hollywood (after all we’re all waiting to be discovered here) and make my students a hundred bucks. Perfect.


LFC 08.24.12 at 1:02 am

How did The Prince sneak in there? Needed a thin volume to make the two stacks the same height?


Kieran 08.24.12 at 1:04 am

Whoops! Machiavelli bumps into the Ma— section.


LFC 08.24.12 at 1:06 am

Anyway the 2 stacks aren’t the same height, are they — scratch that hypothesis. :)


Colin Danby 08.24.12 at 1:26 am

I was expecting John Stuart Mill.


Roger McCarthy 08.24.12 at 1:38 am

Hmmm…. they don’t exactly look very well read – not a single crackline on a spine, no scuffed edges – my Penguin Capitals in particular look much worse despite my my having to admit never actually finishing any.


Salient 08.24.12 at 2:00 am

Spectacular. You appear to understand how capital affects forward momentum, or to be more precise, how it does not.


Barry Freed 08.24.12 at 2:04 am

Someone owes you $100.


Rakesh 08.24.12 at 2:06 am

They look like desk copies, suggesting that the piles are an ordinary course reading load at a top flight sociology program. Frightening. The students must feel beaten down and humiliated and fairly angry at the taskmaster.
I actually like the second RP Wolff book on Marx better, Mr. Moneybags Must Be So Lucky. The first one explains why an argument can be made on the basis of input-output economics for the exploitation not only of labor but also of corn, peanuts, iron (the Yale political scientist Ian Shapiro seems to have made this a central criticism in his popular lectures); and Wolff further argues the the labor theory of value only holds iirc under the accumulation conditions specified in a famous von Neumann model. Ernest Gellner wrote a funny review of this book in terms of its pretension to be in the spirit of what Marx really meant. But you must be asking–where is Theories of Surplus Value? I was thinking the same thing.


Salient 08.24.12 at 2:15 am

How did The Prince sneak in there? Needed a thin volume to make the two stacks the same height?

Oh, sorry, sorry, sorry. Hope that didn’t disturb you too much there. It was the sound of books. Pages being turned. So that’s just what I was doing. Just reading, uh…books. So, not a moron! Anyway, just finished the last one. The hardest one. Machiavelli. Do not know what all the fuss was about. Understood it perfectly. Have you read that one?


Kieran Healy 08.24.12 at 2:18 am

Roger—well I’ve got my Well-Used Working copies, and I’ve got my Pristine Sacrificing Goats in Front Of copies. You know how it is.


chrismealy 08.24.12 at 2:29 am

Is the David Harvey book any good?


deebs 08.24.12 at 2:35 am

Wowzers: all of $100!!!


Cosma Shalizi 08.24.12 at 2:36 am

“…In the steady state it’s easy for workers to end up employing capital – socialism, near as makes no difference.”

She shot me a supcious look.

“This is Marx, right?”

“Wrong”, I said. “It’s John Stuart Mill.

“Same difference”, she said. “Bloody liberals.

Ken MacLeod, Cosmonaut Keep


Bob 08.24.12 at 3:02 am

I always knew Marx could turn a profit – and this time it didn’t even involve much surplus value!


christian_h 08.24.12 at 3:06 am

Is the David Harvey book any good?



Rakesh 08.24.12 at 3:22 am

Harvey raises some very interesting philosophical questions about the nature of the technology that serves as a mediation between worker and nature under capitalism. I thought that he was at his profound here. Of course Harvey is interesting on the question of primitive accumulation. Limits to Capital was excellent on the credit system. The best introduction that I know of to Harvey’s work is an essay that he wrote titled The Geopolitics of Capitalism (?); and here he succinctly describes his idea of how crises can be temporally deferred or displaced–geotemporal displacements.
Other great intros to Marx’s “economics” are by Foley (both the book in the video and the long chapter in Adam’s Fallacy), Saad-Filho and Fine, Rangayakamma, Paul Sweezy, II Rubin and William J. Blake.


Rakesh 08.24.12 at 3:24 am

sorry rangana-ya-kamma


Rakesh 08.24.12 at 3:34 am

Marxists won’t like it because he has effectively gone over to the Austrian dark side (despite some attempts to step back with a mild defense of Keynesianism written with R Skidelsky a couple of years ago), but Meghnad Desai’s introduction to Marxian economics in his Marx’s Revenge is simply brilliant.


David 08.24.12 at 4:08 am

Circuits of Capital is an excellent contribution on Harvey’s part to thinking about the twentieth century in general.


Jack Feerick 08.24.12 at 4:11 am

Just needs a “Boo!” to really sell it.


engels 08.24.12 at 4:21 am

Roger—well I’ve got my Well-Used Working copies, and I’ve got my Pristine Sacrificing Goats in Front Of copies. You know how it is.

And two Pristine Sacrificing Goats in Front Of copies of KMTH — that’s dedication!


Zamfir 08.24.12 at 5:43 am

@ engels, that’s why we’ll never get to the singularity. Used to be that single-book sacrificing performance doubled every few years, but now you have perform parallel sacrifices.


J. Otto Pohl 08.24.12 at 9:53 am

Where are your books by Lenin? The ideology is Marxism-Leninism. Why do you only have half of it represented?


Metatone 08.24.12 at 10:18 am

@J Otto Pohl
There’s surely only one answer to that – he’s a splitter!


Russell Arben Fox 08.24.12 at 10:49 am

And….Metatone’s #32 wins the thread.


LFC 08.24.12 at 2:07 pm

Rakesh @16:
I actually like the second RP Wolff book on Marx better, Mr. Moneybags Must Be So Lucky.

R.P. Wolff would be pleased to hear you say that, since on his blog Wolff recently described this book, with somewhat breathtaking if refreshing immodesty, as “possibly the most brilliant thing anyone has written about Marx.” Link to the post.


JP Stormcrow 08.24.12 at 2:23 pm

The musically-inclined LIBERAL PROFESSOR might consider doing a cover of that “Bush Was Right” song as “Marx Was Right”.

Economy The 1% is on the rise kicking into overdrive
Angry liberals neo-libs can’t believe it‘s cause of W’s policies was all well foreseen
Unemployment’s staying down up, Democrats are wondering how
Revenue Inequality is going up, can you say “Tax Cut”


Rakesh 08.24.12 at 2:29 pm

Yes refreshing immodesty indeed! And he should be proud of the accomplishment. When discussing Marx’s irony, Francis Wheen should have made mention of the book. Yet in the last chapter of Marxism and Hegel Lucio Colletti had already noticed that Marx’s critique of the hypostatization of abstraction in the Holy Family (he speaks here of how the Hegelians would treat a general heading as Fruit as the real thing and the concrete particulars as but shadowy modes of appearance) actually described in peculiar ways the actual working of capitalism–say that commodities but become modes of appearance of Value, and gold, though a concrete thing, becomes what would appear to be the general heading of social abstract labor time itself. A kind of category mistake. It’s a difficult argument. But the Della Volpean school may have made the first steps in RP Wolff’s interpretation.


Ragweed 08.24.12 at 4:21 pm

“I always knew Marx could turn a profit – and this time it didn’t even involve much surplus value!”

I dunno – $100 revenue, less cost of those books. . .


rcriii 08.24.12 at 4:44 pm

“I dunno – $100 revenue, less cost of those books. . .”

But the books are capital investments, so it should be $100 revenue less the cost of the goats…


bdbd 08.24.12 at 6:57 pm

“I always knew Marx could turn a profit – and this time it didn’t even involve much surplus value!”

I dunno – $100 revenue, less cost of those books. . .



donquijoterocket 08.24.12 at 7:08 pm

I liked the out they left themselves.”If it leads to a news story”. Who’s the judge of what is newsworthy and therefore the $100?


Dr. Hilarius 08.24.12 at 7:33 pm

Too academic and restrained for a news story. Professor should at least be wearing a Che t-shirt and smoking a joint.


Kieran 08.24.12 at 8:02 pm

Sadly it was done on short notice before getting the bus home—Che shirt was in the laundry and all out of drugs at the office (start of the semester, etc).


Peter Hovde 08.24.12 at 8:42 pm

I’m confident you can do a better show than that.


Beth 08.24.12 at 10:28 pm

HA! Nice!


Chris Brooke 08.24.12 at 10:32 pm

On Jerry Cohen’s old reading list, Parkin’s Marxism and Class Theory: A Bourgeois Critique would be listed, with the comment “not as bourgeois as it sounds” (vel sim).


Rakesh 08.24.12 at 11:26 pm

connection between Parkin and Charles Tilly’s Durable Inequalities in regards to the former’s theory of closure? Don’t have my copy. Is GA Cohen’s history book productively read as a reply to Popper’s critique of what he called historicism, though Cohen may not have mentioned him explicitly? Is he a ghostly presence in the book? Cohen shows: there are patterns in history; Marx’s theory is scientific even in a Popperian sense and even its use of functional explanations. Don’t have my books with me. I am wondering whether anyone has ever read Cohen and (the great) Popper against each other.


Warren Terra 08.25.12 at 2:24 am

It’s a video; until YouTube has smell-o-vision, the viewer doesn’t know whether a doobie is a dud. Tear an unimportant page out of the intoxicating book of your choice (god knows, Atlas Shrugged seems to have led to about as many bad decisions as has marijuana), roll the page up, hang it out of your gob, and light up.


joya 08.25.12 at 2:24 am

Chris Brooke: Would you happen to remember anything else from that reading list? I’d love to see that.


Charles Pigden 08.25.12 at 3:24 am

If there are analytic philosophers to whose critique Cohen’s Defense is reply, they are John Plamenatz (one of his predecessors in the Chichele chair) H B Acton, author of the Illusion of the Epoch Acton draws heavily on Popper, as he freely admits, though he does so without referring to him much:

‘Nor, again, have I discussed the views of other expositors and critics of Marxism at the length that they deserve, so that the number of my references to the writings of Hans
Barth, Karl Popper, Hook, and Bober, to mention only a few—all of
them writers on Marx himself rather than on Marxism in the sense in
which I am using the word—is small in proportion to their importance
and to the benefit to be derived from them’.

Plamenatz does not cite Popper in either of his books on Marx that I happen to own.

There’s another big-name analytic philosopher whose critique of Marxism Cohen unaccountably neglects, namely Bertrand Russell. I attribute this to the fact that Russell was rather out of favor at Oxford when Cohen was getting his philosophical education, having had a rather public stoush with Gilbert Ryle (Cohen’s mentor). Russell was probably not somebody Cohen would have been encouraged to read. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that Popper too took a dim view of Oxford philosophy and *after a while* that feeling may have been reciprocated. The youngish Cohen strikes me as very much an Oxford man. Hence perhaps the neglect of those philosophers neglected at Oxford.

On the main topic of the thread: Do you think Mr Darcy could manufacture a news story from a video featuring a New Zealand philosopher? I could encourage my students to get out their smart phones every time I make a Lefty remark. (Of corse they tend to pop out at random.)


David 08.25.12 at 4:28 am

Oh, a Che shirt like this:


robotslave 08.25.12 at 5:04 am


If it’s been sitting unread on your nightstand so long that you recognize it with only the first letter of the author’s first name visible, then I suspect you already have the answer to your question.


Chris Brooke 08.25.12 at 10:37 am

joya: I probably have a copy somewhere buried in a big pile of stuff. If it ever surfaces, I can scan it for you, if you can give me an email address.


g 08.25.12 at 5:27 pm

Back in the days when David Horowitz was publishing his lists of liberal professors, I emailed him to alert him about a decadent politically-correct liberal professor of literature at West Central Pennsylvania University who espoused radical feminist ideas. I was, in fact, denouncing to him a fictional character from Richard Russo’s novel “Straight Man,” whose satirical academics are so over-the-top they sound like Horowitz’s liberal villains.

I did get Horowitz to bite, at least he wrote me back, asking for more details.


marxnerds 08.26.12 at 1:27 am

should do a mega-post compiling photographs of readers’ marx collections.


Belle Waring 08.26.12 at 2:45 am

32: I think he’s a splittist, maybe.


JW Mason 08.27.12 at 4:54 pm

I can’t stop looking at this weird Marxist professor.


dilbert dogbert 08.28.12 at 1:31 am

After viewing the video I knew that you were just a poser. Real production values require an in class, shaky hand held cell phone video with audio. The video has to have the prof doing a beat down on some poor freshman from the bible belt. All identifiable books have to be in German or Russian. Gotta push all the hot buttons; Guns, Gays, Free Love and state ownership of the commanding heights.
Yes the prof has to be a certifiable Dirty Fucking Hippy.
You gotta do a bit of work if you really want that $100.


Shelley 08.28.12 at 2:45 pm

Humor aside, this is a chilling threat to teachers: letting a “slow” student tape you might lead to being pilloried.


Q.E.D 08.29.12 at 4:40 pm

Dear Campus Reform. You know who else promoted informing on teachers for failing to follow the new orthodoxy? No of course you don’t. Answer: The Red Guard during the Cultural revolution in Mao’s communist China.


JillFromTheVille 08.29.12 at 5:46 pm

If they don’t give you your $100, you should sue!


Frank in midtown 08.30.12 at 4:03 pm

I think the Prince was a mistake. Most conservatives don’t know it was written to convince the readers to not trust Princes, and instead think it an operations manual.


Niall McAuley 08.30.12 at 4:30 pm

Belle @ 55: Or a lumpee?


Niall McAuley 08.30.12 at 4:33 pm

…but never a splitite!

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