Category Archives: Books

Trying to figure out Marxism, page by page…


DiaMyHegel

Video by video, podcast by podcast, and even pretension, by irritating pretension. Before we get too far, do I really understand the works of Marx? Nope I’m still neck deep in working it out, but recently my head crested the surface after something like 2 months of on and off reading, watching and general research.

So if you read some of my other posts on philosophy you may have noticed me mention I do not like it when anyone uses over complicated and difficult to understand terms to describe their work. Especially when it is an introductory piece. There no need for it, and regardless of how fashionable being hard to understand is if you goal is to create something to be use to improve the world, it will need to be able to apeal to people not steeped in your field already.

Now Marx was writing in a different time, and in many ways a climate where deep intellectual materials where simply the norm, so he writing would have been easier to digest. Yet there has been over a century of time dividing his work from us, and while plenty of people exist to carry on his work. Marxist still can’t explain what the fuck Material Dialectics are. There’s this expectation you need to read Hegel, and Marx, and sometime Lenin to really understand what Marxism is. Though I’m here to tell you, in my experience whenever someone has said that, “only x y or z can explain that,” to me it’s been bullshit. I think the real problem is many Marxism either worship the shrine of Marx, hoping to get the long dead man’s approval, or simply don’t really get the methods and just parrot what they know, because it’s confusing and that’s the only thing they know how to do.

That itself is of course an over simplification of what Marxists are doing, an abstraction if you will *wink wink*, but my frustration is real. So what have I been trying to accomplish since late September? To understand the basic of what Marxism are, so I can begin to both discuss and explain wtf it is to my own satisfaction. Because I firmly beilive that if you can’t explain the basics of a concept to a high school student in under 30 minutes, you don’t understand it yourself.

Now I wouldn’t have made is post if I was completely confused still, indeed I would have written much sooner if I had better luck in my search, but I got lucky, and decided to backtrack from Marx and figure out that “Dialectics” are in the Hegelian sense, which was much of the basis of Marx. The Luck Really kicked in when I found this lovely video series outlining the basics of Hegel’s Dialectics.

Not to be confused with the Dialectical Method of Socratic fame.

The Long and the short of it is as follows, Dialectics are not a formula for thinking, they are a method very much akin to the scientific methods. Not a single paths, but a basic system of thought that allows you to critically analyze concepts and physical processes. From what I’ve deduced and inferred from my readings. Material Dialectics, and Hegel’s Dialectics  are in turn a scientific method itself, and almost a scientific method, but still holding on to  the idealism (Think platonic if you aren’t familiar with what idealism entails) present in much of early a pre-enlightenment thinking.

So what is Marx Method? Well he died before he ever laid one out explicitly… THANKS MARX. However, Hegel was more kind, and laid the following three steps which should apply well to Marx with some tweaking. Thanks Hegel!

1 Abstraction, 2 Negation, 3 Concrete.

1. The Abstraction: This is the first step in what is a cyclical cycle. Fairly analogous to Hypothesis and experimental design in the common description of the scientific method. The Material Dialectic, when you begin to attempt to understand anything, first you must begin to make an abstract of it you must deconstruct how you think it work. Determine what it’s parts are, the inputs, the outputs, followed later by how that parts relate to one another.

2. Now like a good materialist as good scientist you must destroy what you’ve made. Now it is time for Negation! You now get to see if your abstraction can survive when it come into contract with the real world, or at least can withstand logical bombardment, in Socratic Method sense, as you and ideally some critics attempt to find its weak points.

3. Concrete is a bad name, but basically once you’ve done your best to negate the abstraction, you should be left either with nothing as your idea was wrong and completely unsalvageable (return to step one) or you should have helped move your abstraction closer to the real (material) world, and can use it to better describe the world. In essence you start with the simple abstraction, and through negation to bring it’s abstracted parts at least partially back together in a way that effectively describes, and ideally helps predicts the world.

4. Same as step one, but you take your idea from step 3 and feed it back though, in an endless cycle as you attempt to approach a perfectly accurate description of reality.

Is that all correct and accurate? Probably not, but if not I can certainly run in it back through the system, because the funny thing was, if I’m even close to being right, I have been doing material dialectics all along.

Questions and comments are more than welcome. If you know a fair bit about Marxism even better, but regardless I’ll keep up my investigations, and share again when I have something of interest.

Withteeth

Advertisements

Podcasts on the LEFT, Including some potential clarity on Charlottesville.


Bwahahahaha! Ready to be radicalized? Bored with your listening options? Want more Radical Politics in your cereal, your commute, and your alienating job? Well I know I did a few months ago, and luckily I’ve been finding them! Time to share.

Aside: Sorry I can’t keep up with posts I’m monstrously busy. Parenting, moving, demolition, selling of annoying asset, work. I need a lot of time over a few days to write a decent article, and so far I’ve got a bunch of half finished posts, but nothing worth publishing.  This, however, I can do tonight.

This list is by no means comprehensive, but here are some excellent Radical Podcasts. I lean heavily to the Anarchist line of thinking, but not all of these podcast are anarchist, many are Marxist and some avoid political labels at together. All I can say is that each of these podcasts a worth listening too even if you don’t find yourself agreeing with them.

First some specific episodes on what went down in Charlottesville. There’s a lot of bullshit on the riots, and It’s good to hear from actual people on the ground there.


The Ex-Worker: Charlottesville – Triumph & Tragedy in the Struggle Against Fascism 

An excellent overview on hat went down and my memory fails me at least one good interview about what Antfia was doing on Friday and Saturday.

It’s Going Down IGD Podcast: Unicorn Riot on Neo-Nazis Celebrating & Planning Violence at Unite the Right and “Soft Targets”
If you want to hear about the riots from a journalist perspective, but one who was actually there, this is for you.  There are additional links in this podcast to follow as well

Feminist Killjoys, PHD: Ep 66: Stand Up & Fight Back – An Interview with Redneck Revolt

Want to learn more about those Armed Leftists at Charlottesville? An Excellent Podcast.


Now Onto the Podcast proper. I’ll be splitting them loosely into categories to make picking some out easier.  In no particular order…

The Fun Stuff: Comedy, typically lighter subject material, or at least stranger!

Srsly Wrong: These guys are Canadian, so that’s cool for me. They do a lot of skits and faux ad in there podcasts. Very entertaining, but some very good substance as well. You want to get some family and friends Radicalized? These are some cool dudes who might just be able to do it. Episode 100 is great.

Left Coast: New and make me laugh every time. West coast the best coast? Well these fine folks make a strong case. If your ready to go on a radical journey with some funny people this is also an amazing Podcast to get started with.

Last Podcast on the Left: Warning contains Liberalism! If you need to stay tapped into what more liberal minded folk are thinking, plus the weird conspiracy nonsense coming out of the right. These guys will do you well. They also make me snort randomly on the job which is difficult to do. More entertainment then info, and a centrist bias but just worthy of being on this list. Abe Lincolns Top Hat (politics) and Sex and other Human Activities (Sex and Mental health) are good too, but not good enough to get their own entries here.


Though Stuff: If you’re looking for the weighty stuff this is for you.

Revolutionary Left Radio: Probably my Favorite of them all. Consistently even handed (not neutral), smart and thoughtful. Very active with a new podcast every week. Rev Left Radio goes into the various different leftist ideologies, and into detailed left history. Has a gold star recommendation from me.

CrimethInc. The Ex-Worker: This Podcast was what got me started down this rabbit hole. They have a decent archive, and they recently started a weekly show “The Hotwire” which covers the news in anarchist circles. Hardcore, and some time difficult. I definitely recommend stopping in from time to time.

From Alpha to Omega: Infrequence updates, but a quality archive. Tom O’Brien is a Marxist, and get quality quests on his show every episode. Worth a try with a strong recommendation from me.

IGD It’s Going Down Podcast: Very similar news outlet to CrimethInc.  With a much more frequent history of updating. I have less experience with IGD, but they have been good over all and like CrimethInc. Are worth dropping by ever so often and downloading a few files for later.

Zero Squared Podcasts: Zero Squared is a book publisher, but they have a Podcast which goes into all kinds of stuff I’ve never heard of and pump out content for their podcast and Youtube videos. I recommend the Posadist Episode if your into some quality Satire. This also gets a quality assured recommendation from me.


Here lies Feminism! Sex, Veganism, and Good times.

Sexplanations Podcast: The Least political of the podcast posted here. This podcast by Lindsey Doe is all about sex positivity, and sex education. Nothing like dismantling puritanism when your smashing the patriarchy am I right? Fun and Positive Episodes. If you need something Uplifting and Sex Positive Sexplinations may be what your looking for.

Feminist Killjoys, PHD: These two Academics are all about media theory. A Bit woo-ie, but self aware about it. They get into Marxist stuff every so often, and a a good place to get your feminist fix, as all good Anarchists are want to do.

Whorecast: Sex workers and Anarchist work well together, and you’ll see the connection crop up in this podcast fairly regularly, if not always directly. Very important stuff in here, and if you want to deconstruct the stigma you have towards sex work I can’t really recommend anything else! A personal failing I’m sure.

Vegan Warrior Princesses Attack!: First they are not preachy about Veganism, two they talk Marxism and Anarchy, and a very anti-capitalist, and are good feminists far as I’ve listened to them. If any of that is of interest to you (understand I recommend them as an active omnivore) then give them a try. They might be a good listen for you as well.


Yes I listen to all of these I wouldn’t recommend them otherwise. Yes my job would be crazy boring (and alienating) with out them.

Have fun listening!

Withteeth


Our First Homeschool Conference


Ugh, today has not been our day. Withteeth and I went to a homeschool conference today and I have to say I was not impressed. I should start by saying it was the first secular conference in our area, the rest are all fairly fundamentalist Christian. As such, I do think they need to be given some slack. It really just wasn’t what I was expecting.

The conference wasn’t really very well organized. It was supposed to start at 9am, but they weren’t set up and ready to go until 9:30. They didn’t really have anyone to round up all the people either, so every lecture/discussion began late. It was smaller than I thought it would be, but that was a positive thing. I would have preferred two sets of lectures, one for those just learning about homeschooling and one for those who already had an understanding of what they were doing, because, despite not actually homeschooling yet, I found the information to be too basic. There also wasn’t really any time set aside to network. I find it difficult to network at the best of times, but Withteeth find networking the best part of conferences. While he isn’t as into the whole homeschooling thing as I am yet (he wants to wait until it’s actually time to start homeschooling before he thinks about it), I know that he would have felt better about the conference had  we talked to people. I might have been more inclined to talk to people had I felt that networking had been intended, and had things been set up in such a way to make networking more comfortable. I was, however, impressed with the resources available. They had some workbooks and curricula available to purchase, but they also had a ton of catalogues available that offered various types of homeschooling-esk products available. Everything from classroom furniture to play stuff and games to art supplies and workbooks. I probably could have been happy spending the entire conference looking through the catalogues. I also enjoyed the documentary, Class Dismissed, that they showed after the lunch break.It definitely made me feel more confident about our wish to homeschool.

Have any of you been to a homeschool conference before? What did it look like? Was it worth attending? Why or why not?


How to Deal With Anxiety


This weekend Withteeth and I went to a writing conference. I haven’t talked about my writing in a while, but it is still something I’m pursuing. However, conferences are incredibly difficult for me. As such, I wanted to write a bit about the struggles with anxiety and how to deal with it both for people who have anxiety and for people who may have to deal with someone elses anxiety.

Before I get too deeply into this, everybody struggles with and deals with anxiety differently. There are different types of anxiety disorders, though I have the most common type. But my anxiety is caused by autism and ADHD, so I will not necessarily express my anxiety in the “typical” way.

People are a pretty common trigger for anxiety. Some people suffer from social anxiety, which means that any social situation becomes that much more difficult to handle. I do not have social anxiety, but people are still a pretty big trigger for me. A lot of this is simply due to my sensory issues and issues with reading people. Noise is awful for me. Most people can cancel out a lot of the noise that happens around them, but my ADHD makes it impossible for me to do that. That means that I hear everybody talking, that pen hitting the floor, the setting of seats and movement of paper, someone pouring themselves water, and the laughter in the other room at the same time. My ADHD makes it so I hear all that, but my autism makes that noise seem much worse. I explained it to my psychologist as being like a wave hitting you when you’re not expecting it. You know the water is moving, but you aren’t expecting the powerful force that suddenly slams into your back, knocking the air out of you while simultaneously threatening to send you under water. It’s difficult not to panic in situations like that, but there are ways to deal with it.

Generally, conferences are made up of various tracks of speaking events, sales tables, and social events. The noise issue works differently in each of those situations. In the speaking events, I like to find seating near the edges. It can be tricky to find a good spot as far as front or back goes, because my ADHD makes it better if I sit up front, but my autism makes it better if I sit at the back. When I’m at the front of the room, it is easier to pay attention to what the speaker is saying and I’m less likely to turn to look at distractions. But the front of the room also means that all of the noise is behind me. If I sit at the back, then I don’t feel quite so attacked by the noise. But sitting to the side gives me some breathing room. It means that I can get out of the room quickly if I need to, and it means one side of me is not exposed to the noise. From there, I can decide where I feel the most comfortable sitting.

Sales tables and social events are much trickier. At this last conference, my anxiety was bad enough that I didn’t even bother with the social events. Sometimes I can handle them, but other times it’s not even worth it to try. It’s really upsetting to me when I can’t make the social events, because those are the best opportunities to network, but anxiety is a balancing act. Sales tables and social events are difficult to gauge, the people aren’t sitting in one spot and the noise level changes. This is where other people-related anxiety issues come in. People aren’t great at paying attention to their surroundings, especially when they are in groups. When space is limited, people bump into me. Obviously they bump into others too, but I’m short and have a strong dislike of being touched. It gets my anxiety going. When I’m in a room full of people making noise, it’s a lot to handle, but when I’m in a room full of people who are moving around and making noise it can be enough to send me out of the room screaming, or, worse, cause me to freeze all together and be able to function.

While this weekend was particularly hard, I do have a number of coping mechanisms. The most basic of which is simply doing breathing exercises. When I first feel the anxiety coming, that is my go-to. But, as the anxiety grows, which is inevitable when I can’t gt away from the anxiety-inducing situation, I need another out. That’s where safe spaces come in. I need some place quiet to go where I can be alone or, at the very least, where I can be with few people. I think my anxiety got as bad as it did because I didn’t really have that option. If I needed to get away from people, I had to leave the conference all together. I had to make use of that a few times this weekend, which meant missing multiple speakers. But I know that sticking around would have been worse.

Which leads me to some advise for anyone planning a conference: keep mental health and developmental issues in mind. The conference that I went to had panels on diversity and various issues, including mental health and developmental issues, which was nice. But the panel on mental health and other related issues was on the last day at the last hour. That’s not really when you want to bring together a bunch of people who are struggling just to be at that conference. It was a nice panel to have, but it wasn’t organized with it’s target audience in mind. Were I to organize such an event, I would have put that panel at the beginning of the conference when people are feeling energized and relatively calm. The rooms were also quite cramped. The organizers obviously can’t really control the size of the rooms, but they could have utilized the space more effectively. I believe the organizers were too ambitious. The conference went on for three days and they had five tracks of events going on every hour. The lengths of the events were great, but it’s impossible to see everything you want to see when there is so much going on. I think they would have been better off to double up on certain events so that people could get to everything thy wanted to see, or maybe increased the room sizes (most of the rooms had removable walls) to accommodate more people. As it was, there were more people in a number of the events we attended than there were seats. They made the same mistake in the sales room by having way too many booths. It was difficult to walk through the sales area, especially as people would stop and talk. I thing they would have been better off to have half as many booths, even though that would cut down on sales. There also wasn’t actually any place quiet to go. I’ve never actually been to a conference that has a safe space, and I know that many people buy into the “there are no safe spaces in the real world” argument, but I think that a safe space would be great for conferences to implement. For one thing, a conference isn’t the “real world” in the same way a college isn’t (though, to be honest, the entire idea of what is and isn’t part of the real world makes little sense to me. My not living life the way my parents did is more a result of changing times than anything else). For another, all conferences will attract people with mental illnesses. They aren’t as uncommon as many people think. Keeping your audiences needs in mind is good both for the conference and for the attendees.

Overall, the conference was good, and I’m glad that I attended, but anxiety makes doing what I need to do to lead the life I want far more difficult than it needs to be.


How to Homeschool While Secular


One thing I’ve noticed since becoming interested in Homeschooling is that there really aren’t a lot of options available for non-Christian Homeschoolers. The pre-set curricula is all very Christian focused. Most science curricula are written by Creationists, the logic and philosophy that’s offered has an obvious Christian bias. History is from a Christian perspective. Even math is Christian! But what about the rest of us? English is easy: read books that fit your own lifestyle best. It’s also possible to buy workbooks that fit state/provincial standards. But that means fitting your child’s curriculum with the government curriculum. This doesn’t work for everyone.

This issue has given me two questions for everyone out their:

  1. For those secular homeschoolers out there, how have you dealt with this issue?
  2. We lack a child to homeschool now, but is there any interest in Withteeth and I doing a How-to series in secular homeschooling as we homeschool?

How Young is Too Young to Start School?


Since Withteeth and I are interested in Homeschooling, on thing we have to think about is when to start what. Generally, school starts between age 4 and 6, and there are a number of different theories about when kids are ready to learn certain tasks. For example, kids in Canada and the US tend to learn to read before anything else, and most kids start to grasp reading around age 6. However, many kids are ready to learn math before they are ready to learn to read. So why teach reading first?

Personally, I’m not sure I actually want our kids to start school. I want them to learn, but I don’t want them to associate learning with school. I want them to think of learning as a lifelong endeavour. You see, in my family it is commonly believed that the biggest issue with the world is that people overthink. Many of my family members are more proud of their ignorance than they are of their intelligence. I think part of this is due to the fact that they associate thinking and learning with school, and not with progress. But I want our children to think of learning in association with progress rather than school. So I don’t know if we’ll actually use the word “school” in association with our Homeschooling.

It’s guaranteed that we will Homeschool at least for a time. I’m not sure when we’ll stop Homeschooling, be it for Kindergarten, Grade 9, when they start University, or sometime in between, but we’ll likely start as soon as baby is born. We won’t be pushing the child to learn anything they aren’t ready for, but babies learn so much so fast that it doesn’t make sense not to consider the first few years as part of their education. I expect the first year will consist of us reading to baby, talking to baby, playing with baby, and playing music for baby. So nothing we wouldn’t do anyway. As baby gets older, colouring will become part of the curriculum. Hand-eye coordination is necessary for later writing skills, so it makes sense to get them colouring as soon as they can hold a marker. Plus, who doesn’t love colouring? We have decided on a no TV policy until our child is 2 and no video games until they are 6. This is simply because we feel such things are unnecessary, and enforcing such rules will get Withteeth and I away from our computers. As such, any early curriculum we do will be based around books, workbooks, games, what’s available in the community, and videos once they are 2 and older.

Me being who I am, I have looked quite a bit into various types of Homeschooling. We like the idea of playing lots of games and doing lots of hands-on activities for learning. We also like the idea of reading and listening to books. Since I have ADHD and tend to fail miserably at sitting still (seriously, I’ve gotten up like 6 times since I started writing this just to move around), I know that action based learning was best for me. But we don’t want to use just one style. Not only will our children learn differently from on another, but they will learn different topics differently. As such, we also want to use workbooks and documentaries/films as well. This means that we will be doing an eclectic style of homeschooling. My preferred styles are Montessori, Charlotte Mason, Thomas Jefferson (or Leadership), Classical, and Unschooling. I’m not quite sure how I’ll work all that together, but I have plenty of time for trial and error.

We also like the idea of Homeschooling all year round, and we like the idea of taking few breaks. Rather than doing four hours of Homeschooling a day four days of the week, we’d rather do little bits of school at a time. This may change as the children grow, but at least at first I think doing an hour of school work a day is best. After all, small children aren’t really that great at sitting still for long. And I still struggle to sit through hour long classes.  Withteeth also feels we should focus on on subject at a time. I’m not sure what my opinion is in that regard, but it can’t hurt to try. He also wants to focus on math first, which I agree with. We’ll figure out whether or not we’ll put the kids in public school as they approach school age. If they are ahead of their peers by then, I doubt we’ll bother. If they are behind or where their peers are, we’ll probably try public school and see how that goes. But, again, it depends on the child.

Now I just have to figure out how to make Homeschooling work while I teach. I should have my teaching certificate by the time baby is a year and a half. That should be a fun experiment.

For those of you with experience Homeschooling, what styles of learning do you prefer? When did you start Homeschooling and how often do you Homeschool? In general, what has worked for you?

Everybody else, thoughts? Opinions?


The Tomboy and Books


As a tomboy I have noticed that it is incredibly difficult to find good books to read. Most books that are written for women are romance novels. While I have no issue with people reading and enjoying romance novels, I am disappointed that there are so few options aimed at women. As an avid reader who loves fantasy I have found a couple wonderful authors who do write books aimed at women. And they have wonderful female characters. But most of the books that I like are written by men for men, and feature male main characters. They are awesome books with great story lines, and I love them, but they were not written with me in mind. This is problematic because I am part of a largely ignored group. I am sure that any author who wrote for my demographic would find themselves with a strong fan base who appreciates the attention. As a hopeful future writer I fully intend to write books for my demographic and I hope that others will do the same.


%d bloggers like this: