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Pierre Le Morvan

I articulate and defend a conception of skepticism inspired by Aristotle’s doctrine of the mean. On it, skepticism is vicious when deficient (as in gullibility) and when excessive (as in closedmindedness). Virtuous skepticism lies as a mean between these two extremes.

Jenjit Khudamrongsawat, Dhanyaporn Meetan and Nantarika Chansue

Abstract

The traditional practice of releasing turtles into temple ponds in Thailand, believed to benefit releasers, likely affects turtles’ welfare and impacts wild populations. We examined the species, abundance, and health of turtles in six temple ponds. Seven native turtle species and two exotic species were recorded. Most common were the yellow-headed temple turtle (Heosemys annandalii), a legally protected species, and the exotic red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans). Almost all examined turtles showed signs of illness, the most common being shell lesions and excessive algal growth on shells. Poor sanitation and food quality, and limited space to bask, observed in all ponds, contributed to turtles’ poor health. We recommend using better-managed temple ponds as temporary rehabilitation centers and returning healthy native turtles to natural areas, while encouraging people to provide funds to support the turtles and discouraging the release of new turtles.

Saul Smilansky

The past is full of terrible tragedies, including slavery, World War I, and the Holocaust. Morality would clearly appear to support the preference that the victims of those calamities would have lived free and peaceful lives. And yet, a puzzle or even a paradox appears to be lurking here. Moral evaluation can be either personal or impersonal, yet neither one of these two perspectives, nor any other prevalent moral evaluation of events, appears to yield the morally expected conclusion. To the best of my knowledge this puzzle has not been discussed before. If there is no way to escape this surprising conclusion, then morality appears to be much more grim and unsympathetic than we normally think.

Andreas Malm

Abstract

It is fashionable to argue that nature and society are obsolete categories. The two, we are told, can no longer be distinguished from one another; continuing loyalty to the ‘binary’ of the natural and the social blinds us to the logic of current ecological crises. This article outlines an argument for the opposite position: now more than ever – particularly in our rapidly warming world – we need to sift out the social components from the natural, if we wish to understand the crises and retain the possibility of intervening in them. Tracing the current of hybridism to the writings of Bruno Latour, this article ends with a critique of the foremost proponent of a hybridism in Marxist garb: Jason W. Moore. Against his theories, it suggests that historical materialism is a form of property dualism that distinguishes between social and natural relations while considering them equally material in substance. That is also the analytical premise of ecological class hatred, the flames of which ecological Marxism seeks to fan.

From the Demise of Social Democracy to the ‘End of Capitalism’

The Intellectual Trajectory of Wolfgang Streeck

Jerome Roos

Abstract

Over the past decade, Wolfgang Streeck has emerged as one of the most prominent voices in the debate on the crisis of democratic capitalism. This article provides a critical appraisal of Streeck’s recent writings in light of his wider intellectual trajectory, tracing the evolutions and continuities in his work over time; highlighting its important contributions to our understanding of the present crisis; and presenting a fourfold critique of his latest book on the end of capitalism. The main argument is that Streeck’s work, while very valuable for its elucidation of the dynamics behind the demise of social democracy, ultimately remains plagued by a corporatist residue that keeps him from drawing his increasingly radical critique of capitalism to its logical conclusions. As a result, Streeck’s embrace of an exceedingly catastrophist worldview, devoid of any emancipatory potential, has tempted him to veer dangerously close to the welfare chauvinism of the nationalist right.

Cat Moir

Abstract

Ernst Bloch’s recourse to speculative philosophy has guaranteed him the position of a perpetual outsider in the history of Western Marxism. When Jürgen Habermas described Bloch’s philosophy in 1960 as a ‘speculative materialism’, it was to denounce him for crossing the boundaries of critical thought set down as much by Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason as by Marx’s critique of political economy. This article argues that Bloch’s speculative materialism deserves to be re-assessed. Contrary to Habermas’s assertion that speculation is divorced from critique, I argue with Bloch that (1) the speculative hypotheses we unavoidably use to interpret the world around us inform our political beliefs and actions, and (2) to stifle speculative thinking as that creative and inquisitive enterprise which questions and transgresses the given is not only a ‘crime against reason’, as Hilary Putnam once claimed, but also a crime against freedom.

Rick Kuhn

Abstract

Characterisations of Henryk Grossman as a theorist of capitalism’s automatic collapse and political passivity are false. Even before the publication of his principal work, Grossman had linked his recovery of Marx’s account of capitalism’s tendency to break down to his own, interventionist, Leninist politics. This is apparent in his substantial critique of Fritz Sternberg’s influential 1926 book, Imperialism. Grossman’s article (DOI 10.1163/1569206X-12341756) also restates fundamental aspects of Marx’s value theory, class analysis and account of wages.

Panagiotis Sotiris

Abstract

This article deals with theories and political projects that can be defined as ‘left populism’. It begins with a reading and critique of the work of Ernesto Laclau on the theory of populism and then moves to recent debates about the possibility of left-populist movements. In contrast to these positions it attempts to present an alternative theoretical framework based on Gramscian notions, in order to rethink the notion of the people in ways that do not de-link it from class analysis and social relations of production.

Alberto Toscano

Abstract

Beginning with his engagement with Alfred Sohn-Rethel’s seminal treatment of ‘real abstraction’, Intellectual and Manual Labour, Slavoj Žižek has repeatedly thematised and excavated the proposition that capitalism is innervated by a kind of actually-existing metaphysics, the scandal of an abstract form external to human cognition. This essay investigates Žižek’s use and criticism of Sohn-Rethel and outlines some of the developments and contradictions in his effort to confront capital’s challenge to philosophy’s self-sufficiency. It problematizes Žižek’s tendency to elide a model of abstraction as a hollowing-out or evacuation of social content (rooted in The Communist Manifesto) with a much more promising conception of real abstraction as its re-articulation or re-functioning, while querying Žižek’s recent efforts to transcend the purported limitations of Marx’s conceptualisation of capital in the direction of a (‘Lacanised’) Hegel.