historical-materialism

I feel like the Dragon Age universe is on that weird cusp between feudalism and capitalism. Kings are “elected” in Ferelden, the Qunari have gunpowder, the bougie fat-cat in DA2 owns a mine and hires desperate workers for pittance wages, Kirkwall looks like Renaissance Europe, etc. Seems a bit like mercantilism. Keeping in mind that I have yet to finish DAO and DAI, I feel like “[the people] standing at the precipice of change”, as Flemeth said, is signaling a push into a more capitalist order? Am I forcing dialectical materialism into a fictional universe where it doesn’t belong?

Okay, faithful Tumblrarians it’s time to nerd out. Chicago style. Tours! Film Screenings! Exhibit talks! Over thirty local archives, research centers, and cultural institutions in the Chicago area will offer FREE special events open to members of the public on October 6-8, 2016.  Chicago Open Archives: Yours to Explore is an opportunity to discover unique historical materials and engage with archivists, librarians, and museum curators. Join us!

  • 1600s aristocrat:Can you point to one successful example of a capitalist republic in the history of time? You can't, and that's because democratic election of leaders goes against human nature. It might work on a small scale, but all notions of individual liberty are just idealistic pipe dreams. Any time it's been attempted on a large scale, capitalism has killed more people than feudalism ever could. We've already reached the end of history.
  • Radical peasant:*looks at the audience of the stage play like James from The Manor*
io9.com
Author Ken Liu Explains "Silkpunk" to Us
Ken Liu’s new novel The Grace of Kings is a sprawling fantasy set amidst war, rebellion, and border-crossing intrigue. But it also features a truly fresh technological world to explore. Here, Liu explains to us where that technology came from—and just what exactly “silkpunk” means.
By Ria Misra

Ken Liu talks about silkpunk in his latest novel:

“Like steampunk, silkpunk is a blend of science fiction and fantasy. But while steampunk takes as its inspiration the chrome-brass-glass technology aesthetic of the Victorian era, silkpunk draws inspiration from classical East Asian antiquity. My novel is filled with technologies like soaring battle kites that lift duelists into the air, bamboo-and-silk airships propelled by giant feathered oars, underwater boats that swim like whales driven by primitive steam engines, and tunnel-digging machines enhanced with herbal lore, as well as fantasy elements like gods who bicker and manipulate, magical books that tell us what is in our hearts, giant water beasts that bring storms and guide sailors safely to shores, and illusionists who manipulate smoke to peer into opponents’ minds.

The silkpunk technology vocabulary is based on organic materials historically important to East Asia (bamboo, paper, silk) and seafaring cultures of the Pacific (coconut, feathers, coral), and the technology grammar follows biomechanical principles like the inventions in Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The overall aesthetic is one of suppleness and flexibility, expressive of the cultures that inhabit the islands.”

  • socialist:it is a commonly-accepted idea among many leftists that a society needs to go through an analogous period of liberal capitalism so that its infrastructure can be built up and automation can diminish work load. this is why the soviet union and others devolved into state capitalism -- because they hadn't built up an infrastructure well beyond feudalism. though this "late-capitalism-before-socialism" argument is relatively common overall, others also argue that a mutualist or market socialist system would have the same effect of a liberal prerequisite.
  • capitalist:so you admit that capitalism is necessary! you can't just use capitalism like some tool and then discard it like some spoiled child!
  • capitalist:because, as we all know by looking at history, capitalism arose naturally from nothing -- not after centuries of slave empires and definitely not after further centuries of feudal monarchies that laid the groundwork for political and technological progression resulting in changing organizational modes based on material conditions.
  • capitalist:no siree bob. from nothing.
  • socialist:*jim-halpert-looks at the camera*
As queer of color analysis claims an interest in social formations, it locates itself within the mode of critique known as historical materialism. Since historical materialism has traditionally privileged class over other social relations, queer of color critique cannot take it up without revision, must not employ it without disidentification. If to disidentify means to “[recycle] and [rethink] encoded meaning, and “to use the code [of the majority] as raw material for representing a disempowered politics of positionality that has been rendered unthinkable by the dominant culture,” then disidentification resembles Louis Althusser’s rereading of historical materialism. Queer of color analysis disidentifies with historical materialism to rethink its categories and how they might conceal the materiality of race, gender, and sexuality. In this instance, to disidentify in no way means to discard.
— 

Roderick Ferguson, “Introduction: Queer of Color Critique, Historical Materialism, and Canonical Sociology,” Aberrations in Black: Towards a Queer of Color Critique, pg.5 (x)

It is impossible at the present time to write history without using a whole range of concepts directly or indirectly linked to Marx’s thought and situating oneself within a horizon of thought which has been defined and described by Marx. One might even wonder what difference there could ultimately be between being a historian and being a Marxist.
—  Michel Foucault, Power/Knowledge

This is the first installment in a series of book recommendations, all of which will introduce you to kickass women from mythologies around the world, all of them written by women. All books listed had to pass the following criteria:

  • Be written by a woman
  • Have a woman from Greek mythology as (one of) the protagonist(s)
  • Be fictional
  • Be set during ancient times (i.e. not be a modern AU)

Thanks are due to @marcusantonius, @astynomi (x), and @hephaistionisawesome​ (x) for their insightful and enthusiastic replies.

Finally, I would like to direct your attention towards this meta on Medusa, seeing as she is one of the women who played a big role in my decision that I want to create these recommendations (here’s the cool essay mentioned in the meta). Both her and Persephone have had their power taken away from them as years passed and patriarchal values were introduced into their stories. Don’t forget the original stories. 

UPDATE #1: I added Memoirs Of A Bitch and had Daughter Of Troy struck off - I didn’t realise Sara B. Franklin is the pseudonym of Dave Duncan. Oops!

UPDATE #2: a kind anon suggested some poems by women about women in Greek mythology, so those are now added as well.

UPDATE #3: I changed the link for the chapbook by Rishika on her request.

UPDATE #4: I added Destroyer Of Light under Demeter - it is the sequel to Receiver Of Many, which is listed under Persephone.

UPDATE #5: relinked some of the poetry collections, since @mhythology-deactivated20160909 is no longer active.

And now, without further ado, the list(s):

Kickass human women

Kickass non-human women

Poetry

Honourable mentions

More lists you can consult

If you have any suggestions for other Greek women who deserve more attention (and a corresponding book), or which mythology should definitely be in this series, drop me a line

Other kickass women in mythology: women in Egyptian mythology & history | women in Mesoamerican mythology | women in Celtic mythology | women in Native American mythology | women in Asian mythologies | women in Russian & Slavic mythologies

One thing, however, is clear: nature does not produce on the one hand owners of money or commodities, and on the other hand men possessing nothing but their own labour-power. This relation has no basis in natural history, nor does it have a social basis common to all periods of human history. It is clearly the result of a past historical development, the product of many economic revolutions, of the extinction of a whole series of older formations of social production.
—  Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. I
m.reddit.com
Feudalism is the best economic system. Capitalism is stupid.

“You capitalists are profoundly deluded. Your economic system is bad for these reasons:

A land baron deserves all of his great wealth because of the great risk involved in his job. He has to manage an entire region full of serfs and direct the entire economic process. If he fails, there would be total disarray, but since he has not then this system is clearly justified. In exchange the serfs keep some of the food they produce and a hovel. Everybody gains!

Feudalism is a part of human nature. Like a child needs a parent, humans need a baron to control the land while the serfs work the land. It represents an orderly and stable system based upon our real human nature. If we gave this land away to capitalists then serfs would have to wander and find employment and their own new parent. There would be no incentive to work from all this chaos in economic society.

Capitalism and liberal democracy sound nice in theory but can only fail in practice. Have you not heard of the Reign of Terror? Every time capitalism is put into practice it ends up either failing or surviving but producing misery and death.

Feudalism has produced wonders for society and should be celebrated rather than attacked. All your pitchforks, swords, daggers, armor, and horses you own - that was created by the wonder of feudalism. A serf is better off now than they ever were in history through the growing standard of living feudalism provides.

Instead of ending feudalism, it would be smarter to reform and better it. We should concentrate on increasing the amount of grain a serf is allowed to keep while still respecting the hard work, wisdom, and intelligence a baron possesses that entitles them to their riches.

I urge you to reconsider your position. It is just a phase in your youth and you’ll see how quickly you’ll abandon it.

Long live the King!”

Marxist thought has been built up based on quite another vision, that of the permanent transformation of the fundamental structures of societies, which is always historical.

In this framework - that of historical materialism - capitalism is historical, has had a beginning and will have an end. Accepting this principle, the nature of this historical capitalism should be the object of continual reflection, which is not always the case in the ranks of the ‘historical Marxisms’ (that is, Marxism as interpreted by those who claim it). Certainly one can accept the very general idea that capitalism constitutes a necessary stage, preparing conditions for socialism - a more advanced stage of human civilisation. But this idea is too general and insufficient precisely because it reduces 'capitalism - necessary stage’ to actually existing historical capitalism. 

I shall sum up my reflections on this question in the following points to be developed over subsequent pages:

• Accumulation through dispossession is a permanent feature in the history of capitalism. 

• Historical capitalism is, therefore, imperialist by nature at all stages of its development, in the sense that it polarises owing to the inherent effect of the laws that govern it.

• From this it follows that this capitalism cannot become the unavoidable stage for the peoples of the peripheries of the historical capitalist system. Therefore, this stage is not necessary to create, here as elsewhere (in the centres of the system), the conditions for overtaking it by socialism. Development and underdevelopment are the two inseparable sides of the historical capitalist coin. 

• This historical capitalism is itself inseparable from the European conquest of the world. It is inseparable from the Eurocentric ideology which is, by definition, a non-universal form of civilisation. 

• Other forms of response to the need for accelerated accumulation (compared with the rhythms of the accumulation of the ancient epochs of civilisation) - a necessary premise for the socialism of the future - would have been possible. This can be discussed. But these forms, perhaps more visible in an embryonic way elsewhere than in the Europe of the transition to capitalism (in China, among others), have not been implemented because they have been crushed by the European conquest. 

• Thus there is no alternative for human civilisation other than to engage in a construction of socialism, this in turn being based on the strategic concepts that must command the objective results produced by the globalised and polarising expansion of western capitalism/imperialism.

—  Samir Amin, Ending the Crisis of Capitalism or Ending Capitalism?
With whom does the historicism actually sympathize? The answer is inevitable: with the victor. And all rulers are the heirs of prior conquerors. Hence, empathizing with the victor invariably benefits the current rulers. The historical materialist knows what this means. Whoever has emerged victorious participates to this day in the triumphal procession in which current rulers step over those who are lying prostrate. According to traditional practice, the spoils are carried in the procession. They are called ‘cultural treasures,’ and a historical materialist views them with cautious detachment. For in every case these treasures have a lineage which he cannot contemplate without horror. They owe their existence not only to the efforts of the great geniuses who created them, but also to the anonymous toil of others who lived in the same period. There is no document of culture which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.
—  Walter Benjamin, The Concept of History
  • "Liberal" feudal baron in the 1600s:The only possible social systems are feudalism and capitalism. Capitalism is when the king allows some market transactions to take place in his domain, and the ideal political system is a mixture of feudalism and capitalism. =) No, these aren't two conflicting systems driven by tensions between the monarchy and the bourgeoise; they can be peacefully reconciled. =)
  • "Liberal" feudal baron in the 1600s:And when I say "peacefully reconciled", I mean that any pushes towards capitalism should always work fully within the limits set by the feudal powers that be. =)