Monday, November 23, 2020

“The Magus” - John Fowles: a Jungian odyssey

 

Amazon link

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I think I always had the wrong idea about John Fowles, that he was some kind of middle-brow airport writer. Wasn’t “The French Lieutenant’s Woman” just a version of “The English Patient”?

It pains me to expose my ignorance thus. “The Magus” is wonderful. Its protagonist is me when I was Nicholas’s age: in my mid-twenties, smart, insensitive, needy for girls, utterly self-centred, operationally, if not psychologically, selfish.

And Alison was the girl I was unknowingly looking for, while being all-too-ready to diss her and drive her away. Hyper-logical Nicholas, as one reviewer describes him, understands neither himself nor others. He's a slave to his own dominant drives for knowledge and power, the latter being an overriding desire for autonomy of the self. In short he's a quintessential INTP.

Here is Michelle’s synopsis:

“Nicholas Urfe is a not-very-good schoolteacher with romantic ideas of himself as a solitary heart and poet. (Really, he’s kind of a womanizing bastard.) He accepts a teaching job on a breathtaking but isolated Greek Island and meets Maurice Conchis, an eccentric, wealthy man who interacts with few outsiders. Conchis tells Nicholas stories of the past, weaving reality and fiction while claiming powers verging on the supernatural. When Conchis reveals a beautiful young woman staying with him – claiming she is a ghost – Nicholas’s infatuation draws him into Conchis’s mysteries and deceits.”

Fowles was deeply drawn to Jung (there’s a Freudian analysis of Nicholas at the end, woundingly accurate) and I read the ‘GodGame’ as an extended type-developmental schedule in which Nicholas is forced deeper inside himself, past his dominant Introverted Thinking function to seek his shadow: Extraverted Feeling. Only then can he actually engage with his own feelings and lay a foundation for genuine, reciprocal, kindly relationships. Think Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea.

And Fowles tells us - obliquely - that in the end this is what happens.

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The book is not kind to the sensibilities of the Woke. Nicholas is an unpleasant, fairly insufferable human being (as was I, and many of us in our twenties). It’s an old fallacy to beat up on the author for portraying human rather than ideal characters.

This is a large, complex novel which speaks to NTs, and NFs - who will be offended, and will bore to shreds those of a Sensing disposition.

I have been thinking about it for days now, and have added more from Fowles to my stack as well as his inspiration, “The Lost Estate (Le Grand Meaulnes)” by Henri Alain-Fournier (Author), Adam Gopnik (translator).

Fowles died in 2005.

Adam Carlton's Blog

It's a nondescript, blowy day here in Popincourt, the 11th arrondissement of Paris. Looking west from my cheap, cramped apartment I can just make out the workmen on Notre Dame, toiling to Macron's hyper-schedule.

Nigel may be en retraite from here on out but I am busier than ever. As well as my day-job (we won't be going there) my party activities are massively impacted by those wretched attestations. No wonder I haven't found much time for writing: either on Booksie or here.

So I plan to post the occasional piece. The focus will shift more to literature - and in this spirit I have added Michelle Podsiedlik to the blog sidebar (on the web-view). I was led to Michelle by her masterly notes on John Fowles' "The Magus", a novel I recently completed while shaking my head in awe.

Michelle is a little moralistic to my taste but always interesting.

My next post will indeed be on "The Magus".

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Drawing a Line

I read today that Bill Bryson has retired from writing. He will spend his time reading and 'rolling on the floor with his grandchildren'. He is a year younger than I am.

Bryson has given plenty of pleasure to millions over the decades with his (middlebrow, faintly comic) writing. I doubt he will be much read in fifty years time.

Similar limitations of audience and time confront the writers of blogs. I have been writing this one, on and off, since 2005. Yet it languishes in obscurity and I am comforted by that. By contrast, those people with visibility (the kind of people I feature on the web-version sidebar) have tens of thousands of readers and hundreds of comments on each post.

Yet Scott Alexander stopped writing SlateStarCodex and the world continued on its axis. We kind of forgot about SSC. Blogging is both ephemeral and a hamster wheel for those who gain prominence. I have tended to think of it as a place to park my thoughts so I can move on - with a frisson of danger because I do so publicly. However these days my thoughts are more nihilistic - it's even a contradiction in terms to write as I do here.

Amazon link

I've spent a lot of time trying to come to terms with Marxism. Here are my conclusions in brief: Marx mostly wrote about economics, his political views were hopes more than plans or analyses, his philosophical views (alienation, species-being) were primitive and over-abstract in modern terms as well as plain wrong.

I just read Ian Steedman's book (1981 - I'm late to the party) where he laments just how much Marxist thought is sterile dogmatism focused on defence of the 'Great Man's Thought'. I have no idea whether Steedman's Sraffa-based analysis is correct - I lack the patience to engage with his detailed matrix-models - though I note that no-one seems to have refuted it. But economics thinking seems to me to be in the doldrums as capitalism continues to evolve: I am getting more attracted to Steve Keen's critique.

I stand by my view that capitalism's endless trajectory towards total automation, replacing the totality of workers' physical and cognitive abilities, in the end undermines the search for profitability on which capitalism depends. There are no profits without wage-labour with positive surplus value. I remind myself, and you, that this could conceivably be achieved with androids.

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Another theme of this blog has been science-fiction. SF always reflects the preoccupations of the age: in the ascendant-fifties engineering exuberance; at present the 'Great Awokening' of the embittered-credentialled in a time of secular stagnation and drift. I find myself out of sympathy with tendentious fiction: more directly, I find it unreadable. 

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Before I leave to spend more time reading or rolling on the floor with young kin, I will indulge my presumptuousness one final time by saying that I see great things ahead for genomic engineering and AI. We are on the cusp of understanding so much more about genotype-phenotype connections, knowledge which can then be put to engineering use, while the modularisation we see in biological brains must surely lead to the development of distributed, persistent neural-net architectures for situated cognition. No more blank slates!

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Thanks for reading!

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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

"The New Class War" - Michael Lind

 

Amazon link

I read this with great interest, despite Michael Lind's stodgy writing style. I broadly agree with Gerard Baker's review in The Times:

"The construct favoured by Lind to place populism in context is familiar: class. He argues that our present political strife is a successor to the industrial-based class war that began more than a century and a half ago with the emergence of modern capitalism. The new class war, he says, is between a disempowered and disdained working class that still reveres traditional values, and a technocratic managerial elite, steeped in progressive liberal values. “The current regime of technocratic neoliberalism” is, he writes, “a synthesis of the free market economic liberalism of the libertarian right and the cultural liberalism of the bohemian/academic left.”

After the Second World War, Lind argues, western governments, determined to avoid a return to the Great Depression, brokered a social compact between the new managerial capitalist elites and trade unions. The result was a kind of harmonious suspension of the class war predicted by Marxists, and the rapid growth in living standards was widely shared.

At the end of the Cold War, however, multinational corporations, building efficient global supply chains, shattered that compact, disempowering unions and workers and transferring political power from national legislatures to executive agencies, transnational bureaucracies and national and international judiciaries.

To those who doubt that the new globalist managerial elite really is a class, Lind cites the stark decline of social mobility in the US and to a lesser extent in Europe in the past 30 years. The new managerial and professional “overclass”, as he calls them, stop at nothing to get their children into elite universities to perpetuate their supremacy — and they succeed.

He notes that the chief trait predicting support for Brexit or for Trump in 2016 was lower educational qualifications, but rather than asserting, as some have, that this is proof that populism is the product of ignorance or stupidity, he argues that “the possession of a diploma tends to indicate birth into the economic elite”, suggestive of a “conflict among largely hereditary social classes”.

The geography of this new class war is another defining feature. Rather than the conventional urban versus rural taxonomy, Lind prefers “hubs and heartlands”. Elites live in hubs that tend to be the more luxurious quarters of big metropolises, while the working class live in small towns and exurbs (areas outside dense suburbs).

Lind points out that “to members of the overclass accustomed to thinking of geographic mobility in the interest of a professional career as the norm, it may come as a shock to learn that . . . 57 per cent of Americans have never lived outside their home states and 37 per cent have spent their entire lives in their home towns, with the exception of periods of military service or college education”.

Geography is key, he says, to understanding modern political tensions over the great cleavages of populist politics: trade, immigration and environmental protection. If you live in comfortable metropolitan enclaves, your view of cheap products easily acquired through free trade will be different from those who live in manufacturing-heavy areas where jobs have been displaced by trade.

If your experience of immigration is an army of nannies, plumbers and baristas servicing your needs, you will see it differently from those in the heartland whose wages are constrained by those same immigrants. Saving the planet similarly takes on a different practical meaning from the vantage point of a stylish loft in some cool urban district than if you live on top of valuable mineral resources.

Lind notes that these differing economic and social attitudes have brought about a radical transformation of our political institutions, especially parties. Labour and the Democrats in America have become the parties of affluent white metropolitan elites allied with ethnic minorities. Conservatives and Republicans are increasingly the parties of white working-class voters in the heartlands.

Lind is not a fan of populism (“Populism is a symptom of a sick body politic, not a cure,” he says), which he believes is already having dangerous effects on political culture and national cohesion. The threat, he says, is not of fascism, but of chaotic, divisive and increasingly corrupt systems. Less Weimar Republic, more banana republic.

To confront and defuse populism he calls for a renewal of “democratic pluralism”, power-sharing arrangements among the elite and the governed, through, for example, some restoration of union power. More controversially, he argues for the promotion of the “developmental state” that sponsors technological innovation and promotes industries. “The experience of contemporary East Asian democracies — Japan, South Korea and Taiwan — proves that neoliberalism is not the only model for a high-tech modern democracy,” Lind argues.

Lind’s diagnosis is sharp and insightful, his prescriptions less so. What does “democratic pluralism” mean in practice? Should we really return to an era when great trade unions held managements to ransom? In an age of automation is that even possible? Is the “developmental state” merely autarky, a closed economy?"

To get a feel for where Lind is coming from you could read his insightful piece in 'The Bellows' entitled "The Double Horseshoe Theory of Class Politics".

Saturday, August 01, 2020

The Bellows (political analysis from the neo-Marxist left)



From Michael Lind

I discovered "The Bellows" via Michael Lind's piece, quoted at Arnold Kling's site. Lind's post is not really a thoroughgoing Marxist analysis but I was bowled over by someone taking the materialist view that the expressed opinions and professed goals of mass movements are ultimately conditioned by the social concerns of their (disadvantaged) class/fraction.

I haven't been so excited since I discovered Public Choice Theory.

I have ordered his book.


Amazon link

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Another article on the site which interested me was the Swedish experience of Malcolm Kyeyune: On ‘Strasserism’ and the Decay of the Left.

The Bellows is a home for those who have not abandoned Marxist class-based analysis (historical materialism in fact) in favour of a shallow atheoretic identity politics. I have a lot of sympathy for this approach but note that some still hanker after proletarian revolution - a goal and strategy which their analysis gives them no purchase upon whatsoever.

The Bellows is now on the blogs sidebar on the web version of this site.

Friday, July 31, 2020

The "Woke" are nothing new


Amazon link

From Milan Kundera's "The Unbearable Lightness of Being", p. 170.
"Anyone who thinks that the Communist regimes of Central Europe are exclusively the work of criminals is overlooking a basic truth: the criminal regimes were made not by criminals but by enthusiasts convinced they had discovered the only road to paradise. They defended that road so valiantly that they were forced to execute many people. Later it became clear that there was no paradise, that the enthusiasts were therefore murderers.

Then everyone took to shouting at the Communists: You're the ones responsible for our country's misfortunes (it had grown poor and desolate), for its loss of independence (it had fallen into the hands of the Russians), for its judicial murders!

And the accused responded: We didn't know! We were deceived! We were true believers! Deep in our hearts we are innocent!

In the end, the dispute narrowed down to a single question: Did they really not know or were they merely making believe?

Tomas followed the dispute closely (as did his ten million fellow Czechs) and was of the opinion that while there had definitely been Communists who were not completely unaware of the atrocities (they could not have been ignorant of the horrors that had been perpetrated and were still beating perpetrated in post-revolutionary Russia), it was probable that the majority of the Communists had not in fact known of them.

But, he said to himself, whether they knew or didn't know not the main issue; the main issue is whether a man is innocent because he didn't know. Is a fool on the throne relieved of all responsibility merely because he is a fool?"
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The most common fate for heretics following the Russian invasion of 1968 was loss of position (many of the protesters were professionals) followed by imposition of menial jobs.

Friday, July 24, 2020

"A Woman of Mystery" by GPT-3 and Adam Carlton

GPT-3 is the text-generation system recently developed by OpenAI using "175 billion parameters, two orders of magnitude larger than the 1.5 billion parameters in the full version of GPT-2".

The easiest way to try it out is to use the “custom” option (6) of AI Dungeon with the Dragon engine enabled. Dragon is GPT-3, the default Griffin is the less-powerful GPT-2.

You can seed the AI engine with a starting sequence and then it will generate continuations. Here is a story Adam Carlton developed with GPT-3 using the AI Dungeon app and the seven-day free subscription for Dragon, published on Booksie.

One author is in bold, the other is in plain text. Which is GPT-3?

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A Woman of Mystery



My wife died recently. I am sad and lonely. I sit in a bar drinking and reading the paper. I see an attractive girl about my age in a short cotton dress. She holds my gaze. I invite her over and we begin to talk. I have a feeling this meeting was intended though. What does she want?

"I'm sorry, but I don't know anything about you."

"What do you mean?"

She says that she is from a small town in Texas and has never been out of it. She also doesn't seem to be very well off. "Well, I've got money for gas and food so I can get back home tomorrow night." She then goes on to say that she's going to go to the movies with some friends.

But she then contradicts herself and asks whether I might have a better proposal. I think furiously, keen to spend more time with her.

"You're not really interested are you?" I ask.

"No, no I guess not." She replies. "But if you were, would you still come here?"

After spending some time talking with her, we both decide to leave together. We walk along side each other and then suddenly she turns around and looks at me again. "Would you like to go back to your place now?" she asks as if she just made up something completely unexpected.

We go back to my place and I sit her down on the couch. "Do you want something to drink?" I ask her.

"Some juice or soda?"

She smiles. "I'd love a diet coke, thanks" she replies.

I go into the kitchen and come back with two diet cokes. She takes one and we both sit down on the couch. It feels strange to me that she is here.

She starts to ask me about myself. The conversation rapidly moves to my financial situation. Just as I start thinking she's a gold-digger she tells me she's feeling warm, "Do you mind if I take my dress off?"

"Oh, no. Please do."

She stands up and slips the dress over her head revealing a lacy black bra and panties. She sits down and takes a drink of diet coke before saying, "If you really want to help me out, I could use some money for food and gas."

She looks at me with her big green eyes and hopeful face. I'm really starting to like this girl.

"I don't think I can afford it," I say.

She comes across to me with her big eyes and slowly kisses me. "Are you sure?" she says.


She kisses me again and rubs her body against me. "Oh, you're just so sweet," she says.

We have wild passionate love making. Afterwards we're laying in bed when she says, "I guess I should go home now."

I tell her she can stay the night and we fall asleep like that. In the morning I wake up before her and have to go to work.

When I return the house has been ransacked, but she has left a note.

"I'm so sorry for stealing your money and jewelry. I have to get back home as soon as possible.

Thank you for the most wonderful night of my life!"

--- END ---

Adam observes: 'I don’t think serious authors will be quaking in their boots quite yet. But if this was submitted as an assignment in a middling college by a mediocre student it would get some kind of mark, almost certainly better than the unaided efforts of some students.'

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In my view this is a kind of IQ 90 story. It makes sense in its muddling-along way, but lacks dynamism, narrative drive and any psychological validity whatsoever. However, experience has shown that that's not necessarily an obstacle for commercial or academic success.

The deep problem is just obvious. As I observed in this January 2020 post, "It's just a better parasite...", these sophisticated contextual text-shufflers are leveraging contextualised human literary productions without any internal model of the natural or social world, or human agency. Don't look for personalities here!

I know that quantity has a quality all of its own, but in terms of story development (plot, setting, character) Adam tells me that working with GPT-3 is an exercise in futility: you can never get going - you are continually derailed.

But for many applications where text has to be produced: who cares?

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Monday, June 29, 2020

A Dialogue on Gove's Speech

Michael Gove


“Very important PDF here: “The privilege of public service” given as the Ditchley Annual Lecture.

“Gove's (FDR/Gramsci) manifesto for the revolutionary strategy of the Cummings-Boris-Gove axis. Would also serve for post-Trump Republicans too. There is an alternative to Woke!!”

“69 pages! A summary would be better... did you read it all (I only know the page count)?”

“Yes I did. It's widely spaced, interesting and important. A manifesto. Takes about ten minutes to read. You should be aware of the FDR "New Deal"; Gramsci is optional, although recommended.”

“Civil servants have to move to get promoted so no expertise is retained. Gov recruits humanities grads from the middle class. Everyone in gov is hostile to brexit. The Government doesn't evaluate programs for effectiveness; innovation= risk, don't do it. No one ever got fired using IBM. Haves and have nots driving identity politics. Loss of confidence in the system is sure to widen the gap between rich and poor. Cognitively-able taking a bigger share of the pie which isn't growing larger. Gov very London-centric, applause from 'the village' driving decisions: lobbyists, media, business interests, all London.

“Ultimately, there's nothing new here.”


“Except that they said it. And identified all those things as problems. And said they intended to address them. It's a manifesto. What we used to call "Blue Labour"! I think it puts Starmer and the LP in a difficult position, sandwiched between histrionic Woke and this neotraditional Labour policy. Tough...”

“The big building program announced has a Keynesian flavor to stimulate demand - Tony Blair plan B?"

“If they don't soak up mass unemployment, that plus the fury of the Woke will amount to Big Trouble! as Trump might say. Besides, it's CAPEX, isn't it?”

“They need to watch the debt level: if they can't raise funds, game over.”

“Trust me they will print it - like a few weeks ago. QE.”

“Taxation Henry VIII style.”

“Don't say the I-word! Never has inflation solved so many problems! (Government debt, wages lowering to improve profitability...).”

“3rd world countries live by it.”

“Given persistent low interest rates, pretty mandatory during a recession, only asset values (claims on future profits) tend to resist inflation and that only in the longer term. So equity.”

“Land and property too.”

“Yes. Rents are always nice!”

“Inflation based financing is fairly regressive.”

“Re-establishing profitability tends to have a regressive effect on those not fortunate enough to be sitting on a pile of equity. Still, a new round of energetic, animal spirits growth in 2022/3 will feel good - and set things up for the next election…”

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Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Antinomies of Antonio Gramsci - Perry Anderson


Amazon link

Some relevant thoughts from Perry Anderson (I’m currently reading “The Antinomies of Antonio Gramsci”).

On page 64 he writes that left social-democracy believes:

“the working class has access to the state (elections to parliament), but does not exercise it to achieve socialism because of its indoctrination by the means of communication.

In fact, it might be said that the truth is if anything the inverse: the general form of the representative state-bourgeois democracy is itself the principal ideological linchpin of Western capitalism, whose very existence deprives the working class of the idea of socialism as a different type of state, and the means of communication and other mechanisms of cultural control thereafter clinch this central ideological ‘effect’.

Capitalist relations of production allocate all men and women into different social classes, defined by their differential access to the means of production. These class divisions are the underlying reality of the wage-contract between juridically free and equal persons that is the hallmark of this mode of production.

The political and economic orders are thereby formally separated under capitalism. The bourgeois state thus by definition represents the totality of the population, abstracted from its distribution into social classes, as individual and equal citizens. In other words, it presents to men and women their unequal positions in civil society as if they were equal in the state.

Parliament, elected every four or five years as the sovereign expression of popular will, reflects the fictive unity of the nation back to the masses as if it were their own self-government. The economic divisions within the ‘citizenry' are masked by the juridical parity between exploiters and exploited, and with them the complete separation and non-participation of the masses in the work of parliament.

This separation is then constantly presented and represented to the masses as the ultimate incarnation of liberty: democracy as the terminal point of history.”

A few pages on, page 68, he gets to the heart of the matter, the somewhat surprising consent of the working class to the continuing existence of capitalism:

“The novelty of this consent is that it takes the fundamental form of a belief by the masses that they exercise an ultimate self-determination within the existing social order. It is thus not acceptance of the superiority of an acknowledged ruling class (feudal ideology) but credence in the democratic equality of all citizens on the government of the nation -- in other words, disbelief in the existence of any ruling class.”

A point well taken. It seems to me that people understand that there are elites, and that there are even rather obscured fossils of a previous ruling class - the old, drawling, landowner class which is now a figure of fun. But people believe, counterfactually, that the advanced capitalists countries are basically a (flawed) meritocracy. The critical distinction between forces and relations of production, and how that plays out in defining the class-specificity of capitalism and its dynamics, has now been lost in its totality from mass popular culture.

Typological conflicts in the American Imperium



Bolton's book, 'The Room Where It Happened' (was ever a book so unmemorably named?), is exactly what you would expect a lawyer to produce: a dense, detailed, fly-on-the-wall, chronological diary of his 17 months in office as National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump.

The past it describes is still recent enough (2018-19) that I can remember the events he describes - most of them. It's quite fascinating to read detailed accounts from within the heart of the American Imperium.

If, like me, you appreciate that sort of thing.

Bolton, an ENTJ, comes across as an intellectually-rigorous American nationalist. A strategist who wants to play the games of power, move-by-move, to secure American interests as he sees them. In this he is obstructed time after time by Trump, an ESTP who is utterly astrategic, thinking only in terms of the values of his 'base' as he understands them (US flyover people first and last) and the consequences for his popularity and re-election prospects.

Bolton wants to corral and lead Trump in the ways of strategy; Trump takes every issue as if it were some personalised mano a mano real-estate deal. A complete dialogue of the deaf. It's a wonder Bolton lasted so long before resigning (in advance, one feels, of his being fired).

Bolton wants us to believe that he was right all along, and that Trump is a dangerous bull in a fragile china shop (add perhaps the Koreas, Russia, Iran and Venezuela). I'm not so sure: there are few things more dangerous than an intellectual with an all-encompassing theory and Bolton's concept of the use of American power is dangerously confrontational. Bolton thinks Trump is weak when it matters, but Trump is highly sensitive to the actuality. He's too erratic to be taken as weak by opponents.

There are problems with a president who has no conceptual strategy at all, who makes policy decisions based on a whim. This unfortunately works to the American state bureaucracy's strengths: it sits as an inert, low-pass filter, unresponsive to short-term jerking around. Trump's supporters may have believed it takes a rough man to take on 'the swamp' but just randomly kicking it is not reform.

I wonder if the more cerebral Boris and Dominic can do a better job with the British deep state?

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Steps on the road to fascism

German unemployment rate 1928-1935 (Wikipedia) - Hitler in power from 33


Clara Zetkin said it right in 1923:
"Fascism ... viewed objectively, is not the revenge of the bourgeoisie in retaliation for proletarian aggression against the bourgeoisie, but it is a punishment of the proletariat for failing to carry on the revolution begun in Russia. The Fascist leaders are not a small and exclusive caste; they extend deeply into wide elements of the population."
To read the history of the Weimar Republic is to watch the collapse of a democratic state after four years of economic chaos and political instability (1929-33). Chancellor Brüning's disastrous economic policy was marked by a collapse in GDP and a stark increase in unemployment (7% to 30%).

The workers' movement was strong, both in the trades unions and politically with the workers' parties, the SPD and the KPD (the socialists and communists). But as Clare Zetkin presciently observed, the workers movement (never united) was incapable of bringing about a socialist revolution (which from today's standpoint would probably have collapsed into chaos anyway). Workers' power was certainly capable of impeding a capitalist recovery, however.

Thus ensued chaos without end. The deepening crisis propelled masses of people (artisans, shopkeepers, civil servants and more than a few workers) into street mobilisation against the left. They were united under the banners of an inchoate and exclusionary ideology - that of fascism. Meanwhile, the participation of unemployed ex-soldiers and lumpen elements provided hard-edged, street-fighting muscle in the SA.

Hitler came to power legitimately (people often forget that). But the 'national destiny' ideology of 'national socialism' was very distanced from a practical management strategy for a modern capitalist state. The Nazi government, immeasurably empowered by the militarised forces it directly controlled and steered by dangerous fantasies, duly took Germany in the direction we all know.

It's also important to understand that the arrival of Hitler's regime immediately unleashed a civil war within Germany in which the left was annihilated in blood (including the left-wing of the NSDAP - of the Nazi Party itself).

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What can we learn from Weimar? That if a capitalist state enters a period of economic collapse and political paralysis where people's very livelihoods are at risk, then after a due period politics will hit the streets and will then get organised via fantasies which have traction with the crowds: a narrative to unite and inspire supporters and demonise and dehumanise opponents. There are close to zero signs of any such ideology today in any Western country.

Does the woke movement constitute a proto-fascist movement in preparation? Not in its present form: it's not vicious enough, the action programme is too defocused and the angst is not yet existential.

If the economy slumps big-time, if the woke movement obstructs measures to resolve the crisis by advocating policies which in practice would make it worse then there will be a reaction eventually. Not the clowns currently running around showing their football colours and tattoos, but something altogether more serious.

It's one possible future and years rather than months away - but we should be on our guard. And remember that when fascism was bright and new it was national socialism and lots of people thought it was rather cool. A new fascist mass movement won't call itself that - it will be very much in favour of restoring order and decency, and suppressing endless chaos - and many ordinary people will not recoil, far from it.

Take a look at the graph at the top of this piece: fascist policies worked over the next few years - capitalism was restabilised and began to grow again, unemployment came down and Germany modernised (there are more economic graphs in the Wikipedia article).

The capitalist elite is not happy with people who delight in having blood on their hands. They're considered coarse, dangerous yahoos (although there were a few cultured, charming NSDAP leaders such as Göring).

But hey, needs must, right?

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Monday, June 15, 2020

Deblurring Clare with Duke's AI

Back in December 19 I wrote about the challenge of deblurring photos as in this picture of Clare when she was around 15.


Clare around 15 years old

Today I discovered that Duke University has an AI system which sort of hallucinates an unblurred image. I ran it and here is the result (I asked for 4 attempts). Click on the image to make it larger.

I think number three is the most accurate (below)

So here's the link if you want to try it: works best on a computer, not a phone or tablet.

Perhaps the best of the four deblur attempts

I still think they have some way to go on this, but it's an impressive start.

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