November 30, 2021

Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur, November 2021

Attention conservation notice: I have no taste, and no qualifications to opine about how to conduct either social science, or the German Social Democratic Party at the end of the 19th century.

Eduard Bernstein, The Preconditions of Socialism (1899; trans. and ed. Henry Tudor)
The original revisionist. Here are some of Bernstein's more important and representative heresies, from the viewpoint of orthodox, Second International Marxism: the dialectic is unhelpful and not actually essential to Marx and Engels's best work; the number of people who own capital is growing, not shrinking; class structure is not simplifying to a stark opposition of capitalists and proletarians; workers are not being increasingly immiserated; formal democracy is essential; it turns out that in even partially-democratic states, organized political action can do a lot to improve worker's lives, without waiting for the revolution; the state couldn't just take over running the economy successfully; etc., etc. As should be obvious from my tone, I find a lot of these ideas extremely congenial, though Bernstein was, it must be said, rather more sanguine about colonialism, and especially about European nationalism, than looks wise in retrospect. (Since, 15 years after this book, he was opposing World War I in the Reichstag, I wonder if he ever explicitly admitted errors on those points.) A dedicated proponent of orthodoxy could, naturally, argue that while the prophecies haven't been fulfilled yet, their hour will come round at last...
This edition is the first un-abridged English translation, with helpful footnotes explaining now-dated references, and giving full citations for his quotations &c. (The first, seriously abridged, English translation is online.) It says something about me that I found this an exciting read.
Scott Ashworth, Christopher R. Berry and Ethan Bueno de Mesquita, Theory and Credibility: Integrating Theoretical and Empirical Social Science
My remarks having passed the 900 word mark, they became a separate review.
C. J. Cherryh, The Paladin
Mind-candy fantasy, in a world of little magic, but a lot of superstition and a lot of desire for vengeance. Not Cherryh's identity-bending best, but I wanted a comfort re-read and this delivered.
Candice Fox, Hades
Mind candy thriller. What if (I refuse to regard this as a spoiler) Dexter, but the serial killer who hunts killers was a Sydney homicide detective? (I haven't bothered to go check the publication dates to see if that actually explains it, or it's just convergent evolution in the space of psycho-killer mysteries.) OK but left me without any desire to continue the series.
Lee Goldberg, Gated Prey
Extremely fluffy mind-candy mystery. (Previously.)

Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur; Pleasures of Detection, Portraits of Crime; Commit a Social Science; Constant Conjunction Necessary Connexion; The Progressive Forces

Posted at November 30, 2021 23:59 | permanent link

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