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Archive for September, 2007

A Dance in the Bunker, from William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

This is from William Shirer’s 1960 The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, a History of Nazi Germany, as quoted by Randall McElroy at The Distributed Republic (2007-09-30)

Evening had now come, the last of Adolf Hitler’s life. He instructed Frau Junge, one of his secretaries, to destroy the remaining papers in his files and he sent out word that no one in the bunker was to go to bed until further orders. This was interpreted by all as meaning that he judged the time had come to make his farewells. But it was not until long after midnight, at about 2:30 A.M. of April 30, as several witnesses recall, that the Fuehrer emerged from his private quarters and appeared in the general dining passage, where some twenty persons, mostly the women members of his entourage, were assembled. He walked down the line shaking hands with each and mumbling a few words that were inaudible. There was a heavy film of moisture on his eyes and, as Frau Junge remembered, they seemed to be looking far away, beyond the walls of the bunker.

After he retired, a curious thing happened. The tension broke which had been building up to an almost unendurable point in the bunker broke, and several persons went to the canteen—to dance. The weird party soon became so noisy that word was sent from the Fuehrer’s quarters requesting more quiet. The Russians might come in a few hours and kill them all—though most of them were already thinking of how they could escape—but in the meantime for a brief spell, now that the Fuehrer’s strict control of their lives was over, they would seek pleasure where and how they could find it. The sense of relief among these people seems to have been enormous and they danced on through the night.

–William Shirer (1960). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, a History of Nazi Germany, p. 1132.

Part II of Bertrand Russell’s The Principles of Mathematics is now available

Part II of Bertrand Russell’s The Principles of Mathematics, on the theory of cardinal numbers, is now available in full in the Fair Use Repository’s online edition. This Part includes Russell’s definitions of the cardinal numbers and basic arithmetical operators, and discussions of the mathematical treatment of infinite cardinals, the relation of part to whole, and the theory of ratios and fractions. Its completion adds eight new chapters to the online edition:

  1. Chapter XI. Definition of Cardinal Numbers.
  2. Chapter XII. Addition and Multiplication.
  3. Chapter XIII. Finite and Infinite.
  4. Chapter XIV. Theory of Finite Numbers.
  5. Chapter XV. Addition of Terms and Addition of Classes.
  6. Chapter XVI. Whole and Part.
  7. Chapter XVII. Infinite Wholes.
  8. Chapter XVIII. Ratios and Fractions.


“Goodbye to All That,” by Robin Morgan (1970)

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Rat, was one of the leading counterculture / New Left newspapers in New York City. In January 1970, a group of women who worked at Rat, fed up with the increasingly aggressive sexism of the paper’s content and internal hierarchies, took over the newspaper and, with the help of women from Women’s Liberation groups in New York, converted it into a feminist newspaper. In the first issue, Robin Morgan (then a member of W.I.T.C.H.) contributed Goodbye to All That. The article has since been reprinted widely in anthologies of radical feminist writing; this copy is based on the reprint that appears in Dear Sisters: Dispatches from the Women’s Liberation Movement. A slightly different version appears, together with a long introduction and explanatory footnotes, in Morgan’s The Word of a Woman: Feminist Dispatches 1968–1992.

Goodbye to All That

So, Rat has been liberated, for this week, at least. Next week? If the men return to reinstate the porny photos, the sexist comic strips, the nude-chickie covers (along with their patronizing rhetoric about being in favor of women’s liberation)–if this happens, our alternatives are clear. Rat must be taken over permanently by women–or Rat must be destroyed. (¶ 1)

Why Rat? Why not EVO or even the obvious new pornzines (Mafia-distributed alongside the human pornography of prostitution)? First, they’ll get theirs–but it won’t be by a takeover, which is reserved for something at least worth taking over. Nor should they be censored. They should just be helped not to exist–by any means necessary. But Rat, which has always tried to be a really radical cum lifestyle paper, that’s another matter. It’s the liberal cooptative masks on the face of sexist hate and fear, worn by real nice guys we all know and like, right? We have met the enemy and he’s our friend. And dangerous. What the hell, let the chicks do an issue; maybe it’ll satisfy ’em for a while, it’s a good controversy, and it’ll maybe sell papers runs an unoverheard conversation that I’m sure took place at some point last week. (¶ 2)

And that’s what I wanted to write about–the friends, brothers, lovers in the counterfeit male-dominated Left. The good guys who think they know what Women’s Lib, as they so chummily call it, is all about–who then proceed to degrade and destroy women by almost everything they say and do: The cover on the last issue of Rat (front and back). The token pussy power or clit militancy articles. The snide descriptions of women staffers on the masthead. The little jokes, the personal ads, the smile, the snarl. No more, brothers. No more well-meaning ignorance, no more cooptation, no more assuming that this thing we’re all fighting for is the same; one revolution under man, with liberty and justice for all. No more. (¶ 3)

Let’s run it down. White males are most responsible for the destruction of human life and environment on the planet today. Yet who is controlling the supposed revolution to change all that? White males (yes, yes, even with their pasty fingers back in black and brown pies again). It could just make one a bit uneasy. It seems obvious that a legitimate revolution must be led by, made by those who have been most oppressed: black, brown, yellow, red, and white women–with men relating to that the best they can. A genuine Left doesn’t consider anyone’s suffering irrelevant or titillating; nor does it function as a microcosm of capitalist economy, with men competing for power and status at the top, and women doing all the work at the bottom (and functioning as objectified prizes or coin as well). Goodbye to all that. (¶ 4)

Run it all the way down. (¶ 5)

Goodbye to the male-dominated peace movement, where sweet old Uncle Dave can say with impunity to a woman on the staff of Liberation magazine, The trouble with you is you’re an aggressive woman. (¶ 6)

Goodbye to the straight male-dominated Left: to PL, who will allow that some workers are women, but won’t see all women (say, housewives) as workers (blind as the System itself); to all the old Left-over parties who offer their Women’s Liberation caucuses to us as if that were not a contradiction in terms; to the individual anti-leadership leaders who hand-pick certain women to be leaders and then relate only to them, either in the male Left or in Women’s Liberation—bringing their hang-ups about power dominance and manipulation to everything they touch. (¶ 7)

Goodbye to the Weather Vain, with the Stanley Kowalski image and theory of free sexuality but practice of sex on demand for males. Left Out!—not Right On!—to the Weather Sisters who (and they know better—they know) reject their own radical feminism for that last desperate grab at male approval that we all know so well, for claiming that the machismo style and the gratuitous violence is their own style by free choice, and for believing that this is the way for a woman to make her revolution…all the while, oh my sister, not meeting my eyes because Weathermen chose Charles Manson as their—and your—hero. (Honest, at least, since Manson is only the logical extreme of the normal American male’s fantasy, whether he is Dick Nixon or Mark Rudd: master of a harem, women to do all the shitwork, from raising babies and cooking and hustling to killing people on command.) Goodbye to all that shit that sets women apart from women; shit that covers the face of any Weatherwoman which is the face of any Manson Slave which is the face of Sharon Tate which is the face of Mary Jo Kopechne which is the face of Beulah Saunders, which is the face of me which is the face of Pat Nixon which is the face of Pat Swinton. In the dark we are all the same–and you better believe it: we’re in the dark, baby. (Remember the old joke: Know what they call a black man with a Ph.D.? A nigger. Variations: Know what they call a Weatherwoman? A heavy cunt. Know what they call a hip revolutionary woman? A groovy cunt. Know what they call a radical militant feminist? A crazy cunt. Amerika is a land of free choice–take your pick of titles.) Left Out, my sister—don’t you see? Goodbye to the illusion of strength when you run hand in hand with your oppressors; goodbye to the dream that being in the leadership collective will get you anything but gonorrhea. (¶ 8)

Goodbye to RYM II, as well, and all the other RYMs—not that the sisters there didn’t pull a cool number by seizing control, but because they let the men back in after only a day or so of self-criticism on male chauvinism. (And goodbye to the inaccurate blanket use of that phrase, for that matter: male chauvinism is an attitude—male supremacy is the objective reality, the fact.) Goodbye to the Conspiracy, who, when lunching with fellow sexist bastards Norman Mailer and Terry Southern in a Bunny-type club in Chicago found Judge Hoffman at the neighboring table—no surprise: in the light they are all the same. (¶ 9)

Goodbye to Hip culture and the so-called Sexual Revolution, which has functioned toward women’s freedom as did the Reconstruction toward former slaves—reinstituting oppression by another name. Goodbye to the assumption that Hugh Romney is safe in his cultural revolution, safe enough to refer to our women, who make all our clothes without somebody not forgiving that. Goodbye to the arrogance of power indeed that lets Czar Stan Freeman of the Electric Circus sleep without fear at night, or permits Tomi Ungerer to walk unafraid in the street after executing the drawings for the Circus advertising campaign against women. Goodbye to the idea that Hugh Hefner is groovy ’cause he lets Conspirators come to parties at the Playboy Mansion—goodbye to Hefner’s dream of a ripe old age. Goodbye to Tuli and the Fugs and all the boys in the front room—who always knew they hated the women they loved. Goodbye to the notion that good ol’ Abbie is any different from any other up-and-coming movie star who ditches the first wife and kids, good enough for the old days but awkward once you’re Making It. Goodbye to his hypocritical double standard that reeks through the tattered charm. Goodbye to lovely pro-Women’s Liberationist Paul Krassner, with all his astonished anger that women have lost their sense of humor on this issue and don’t laugh any more at little funnies that degrade and hurt them: farewell to the memory of his Instant Pussy aerosol-can poster, to his column for the woman-hating men’s magazine Cavalier, to his dream of a Rape-In against legislators’ wives, to his Scapegoats and Realist Nuns and cute anecdotes about the little daughter he sees as often as any properly divorced Scarsdale middle-aged father; goodbye forever to the notion that a man is my brother who, like Paul, buys a prostitute for the night as a birthday gift for a male friend, or who, like Paul, reels off the names in alphabetical order of people in the women’s movement he has fucked, reels off names in the best locker-room tradition–as proof that he’s no sexist oppressor. (¶ 10)

Let it all hang out. Let it seem bitchy, catty, dykey, Solanisesque, frustrated, crazy, nutty, frigid, ridiculous, bitter, embarrassing, man-hating, libelous, pure, unfair, envious, intuitive, low-down, stupid, petty, liberating. We are the women that men have warned us about. (¶ 11)

And let’s put one lie to rest for all time: the lie that men are oppressed, too, by sexism—the lie that there can be such a thing as men’s liberation groups. Oppression is something that one group of people commits against another group specifically because of a threatening characteristic shared by the latter group—skin color or sex or age, etc. The oppressors are indeed fucked up by being masters (racism hurts whites, sexual stereotypes are harmful to men) but those masters are not oppressed. Any master has the alternative of divesting himself of sexism or racism; the oppressed have no alternative—for they have no power—but to fight. In the long run, Women’s Liberation will of course free men—but in the short term it’s going to cost men a lot of privilege, which no one gives up willingly or easily. Sexism is not the fault of women—kill your fathers, not your mothers. (¶ 12)

Run it down. Goodbye to a beautiful new ecology movement that could fight to save us all if it would stop tripping off women as earthmother types or frontier chicks, if it would right now cede leadership to those who have not polluted the planet because that action implies power and women haven’t had any power in about 5,000 years, cede leadership to those whose brains are as tough and clear as any man’s but whose bodies are also unavoidably aware of the locked-in relationship between humans and their biosphere—the earth, the tides, the atmosphere, the moon. Ecology is no big shtick if you’re a woman—it’s always been there. (¶ 13)

Goodbye to the complicity inherent in the Berkeley Tribesmen being part publishers of Trashman Comics; goodbye, for that matter, to the reasoning that finds whoremaster Trashman a fitting model, however comic-strip far-out, for a revolutionary man—somehow related to the same Super-male reasoning that permits the first statement on Women’s Liberation and male chauvinism that came out of the Black Panther Party to be made by a man, talking a whole lot about how the sisters should speak up for themselves. Such ignorance and arrogance ill-befits a revolutionary. (¶ 14)

We know how racism is worked deep into the unconscious by the System–the same way sexism is, as it appears in the very name of The Young Lords. What are you if you’re a macho woman—a female Lord? Or, god forbid, a Young Lady? Change it, change it to the Young Gentry if you must, or never assume that the name itself is innocent of pain, of oppression. (¶ 15)

Theory and practice—and the light-years between them. Do it! says Jerry Rubin in Rat‘s last issue—but he doesn’t or every Rat reader would have known the pictured face next to his article as well as they know his own much-photographed face: it was Nancy Kurshan, his woman, the power behind the clown. (¶ 16)

Goodbye to the New Nation and Earth People’s Park for that matter, conceived by men, announced by men, led by men—doomed before birth by the rotting seeds of male supremacy transplanted into fresh soil. Was it my brother who listed human beings among the objects that would be easily available after the Revolution: Free grass, free food, free women, free acid, free clothes, etc.? Was it my brother who wrote Fuck your women till they can’t stand up and said that groupies were liberated chicks ’cause they dug a tit-shake instead of a handshake? The epitome of male exclusionism—men will make the Revolution—and make their chicks. Not my brother. No. Not my revolution. Not one breath of my support for the new counterfeit Christ—John Sinclair. Just one less to worry about for ten years. I do not choose my enemy for my brother. (¶ 17)

Goodbye, goodbye. To hell with the simplistic notion that automatic freedom for women–or nonwhite peoples–will come about zap! with the advent of a socialist revolution. Bullshit. Two evils pre-date capitalism and clearly have been able to survive and post-date socialism: sexism and racism. Women were the first property when the Primary Contradiction occurred: when one-half of the human species decided to subjugate the other half, because it was different, alien, the Other. From there it was an easy enough step to extend the concept of Other to someone of different skin shade, different height or weight or language—or strength to resist. Goodbye to those simple-minded optimistic dreams of socialist equality all our good socialist brothers want us to believe. How merely liberal a politics that is! How much further we will have to go to create those profound changes that would give birth to a genderless society. Profound, Sister. Beyond what is male or female. Beyond standards we all adhere to now without daring to examine them as male-created, male-dominated, male-fucked-up, and in male self-interest. Beyond all known standards, especially those easily articulated revolutionary ones we all rhetorically invoke. Beyond—to a species with a new name, that would not dare define itself as Man. (¶ 18)

I once said, I’m a revolutionary, not just a woman, and knew my own lie even as I said the words. The pity of that statement’s eagerness to be acceptable to those whose revolutionary zeal no one would question, i.e., any male supremacist in the counterleft. But to become a true revolutionary one must first become one of the oppressed (not organize or educate or manipulate them, but become one of them)–or realize that you are one already. No woman wants that. Because that realization is humiliating, it hurts. It hurts to understand that at Woodstock or Altamont a woman could be declared uptight or a poor sport if she didn’t want to be raped. It hurts to learn that the sisters still in male-Left captivity are putting down the crazy feminists to make themselves look unthreatening to our mutual oppressors. It hurts to be pawns in those games. It hurts to try and change each day of your life right now—not in talk, not in your head, and not only conveniently out there in the Third World (half of which are women) or the black or brown communities (half of which are women) but in your own home, kitchen, bed. No getting away, no matter how else you are oppressed, from the primary oppression of being female in a patriarchal world. It hurts to hear that the sisters in the Gay Liberation Front, too, have to struggle continuously against the male chauvinism of their gay brothers. It hurts that Jane Alpert was cheered when rapping about imperialism, racism, the Third World, and All Those Safe Topics but hissed and booed by a movement crowd of men who wanted none of it when she began to talk about Women’s Liberation. The backlash is upon us. (¶ 19)

They tell us the alternative is to hang in there and struggle, to confront male domination in the counterleft, to fight beside or behind or beneath our brothers–to show ’em we’re just as tough, just as revolushunerry, just as whatever‐image‐they‐now‐want‐of‐us‐as‐once‐they‐wanted‐us‐to‐be‐feminine‐and‐keep‐up‐the‐home‐fire‐burning. They will bestow titular leadership on our grateful shoulders, whether it’s being a token woman on the Movement Speakers Bureau Advisory Board, or being a Conspiracy groupie or one of the respectable chain-swinging Motor City Nine. Sisters all, with only one real alternative: to seize our own power into our own hands, all women, separate and together, and make the Revolution the way it must be made—no priorities this time, no suffering group told to wait until after. (¶ 20)

It is the job of revolutionary feminists to build an ever stronger independent Women’s Liberation Movement, so that the sisters in counterleft captivity will have somewhere to turn, to use their power and rage and beauty and coolness in their own behalf for once, on their own terms, on their own issues, in their own style—whatever that may be. Not for us in Women’s Liberation to hassle them and confront them the way their men do, nor to blame them—or ourselves—for what any of us are: an oppressed people, but a people raising our consciousness toward something that is the other side of anger, something bright and smooth and cool, like action unlike anything yet contemplated or carried out. It is for us to survive (something the white male radical has the luxury of never really worrying about, what with all his options), to talk, to plan, to be patient, to welcome new fugitives from the counterfeit Left with no arrogance but only humility and delight, to push—to strike. (¶ 21)

There is something every woman wears around her neck on a thin chain of fear—an amulet of madness. For each of us, there exists somewhere a moment of insult so intense that she will reach up and rip the amulet off, even if the chain tears the flesh of her neck. And the last protection from seeing the truth will be gone. Do you think, tugging furtively every day at the chain and going nicely insane as I am, that I can be concerned with the peurile squabbles of a counterfeit Left that laughs at my pain? Do you think such a concern is noticeable when set alongside the suffering of more than half the human species for the past 5,000 years—due to a whim of the other half? No, no, no, goodbye to all that. (¶ 22)

Women are Something Else. This time, we’re going to kick out all the jams, and the boys will just have to hustle to keep up, or else drop out and openly join the power structure of which they are already the illegitimate sons. Any man who claims he is serious about wanting to divest himself of cock privilege should trip on this: all male leadership out of the Left is the only way; and it’s going to happen, whether through men stepping down or through women seizing the helm. It’s up to the brothers—after all, sexism is their concern, not ours; we’re too busy getting ourselves together to have to deal with their bigotry. So they’ll have to make up their own minds as to whether they will be divested of just cock privilege or—what the hell, why not say it, say it!—divested of cocks. How deep the fear of that loss must be, that it can be suppressed only by the building of empires and the waging of genocidal wars! (¶ 23)

Goodbye, goodbye forever, counterfeit Left, counterleft, male-dominated cracked-glass mirror reflection of the Amerikan Nightmare. Women are the real Left. We are rising, powerful in our unclean bodies; bright glowing mad in our inferior brains; wild hair flying, wild eyes staring, wild voices keening; undaunted by blood we who hemorrhage every twenty-eight days; laughing at our own beauty we who have lost our sense of humor; mourning for all each precious one of us might have been in this one living time-place had she not been born a woman; stuffing fingers into our mouths to stop the screams of fear and hate and pity for men we have loved and love still; tears in our eyes and bitterness in our mouths for children we couldn’t have, or couldn’t not have, or didn’t want, or didn’t want yet, or wanted and had in this place and this time of horror. We are rising with a fury older and potentially greater than any force in history, and this time we will be free or no one will survive. Power to all the people or to none. All the way down, this time. (¶ 24)

Free Kathleen Cleaver!Free Kim Agnew!
Free Anita Hoffman!Free Holly Krassner!
Free Bernardine Dohrn!Free Lois Hart!
Free Donna Malone!Free Alice Embree!
Free Ruth Ann Miller!Free Nancy Kurshan!
Free Leni Sinclar!Free Dinky Forman!
Free Jane Alpert!Free Dinky Forman!
Free Gumbo!Free Sharon Krebs!
Free Bonnie Cohen!Free Iris Luciano!
Free Judy Lampe!Free Robin Morgan!
Free Valerie Solanis!
Free our sisters!Free ourselves!

–Robin Morgan (January 1970)

The Southside clergy go counter-economic: Over My Shoulder #37, from Off the Books by Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh

Here’s the rules:

  1. Pick a quote of one or more paragraphs from something you’ve read, in print, over the course of the past week. (It should be something you’ve actually read, and not something that you’ve read a page of just in order to be able to post your favorite quote.)

  2. Avoid commentary above and beyond a couple sentences, more as context-setting or a sort of caption for the text than as a discussion.

  3. Quoting a passage doesn’t entail endorsement of what’s said in it. You may agree or you may not. Whether you do isn’t really the point of the exercise anyway.

Here’s the quote. This is from Chapter 5 of Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh’s recently published book on the underground economy in the Southside of Chicago, Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor.

When Mayor Richard J. Daley died in 1976, Chicago’s black leadership saw clearly an opportunity to mobilize for greater electoral power. Their hope was fulfilled in 1983, when African American congressman Harold Washington was elected mayor of Chicago. A victory for African Americans, Latinos, and progressive whites, Washington’s election was also a clear indication that the political machine now dominated by whites could be effectively challenged. In the first flush of victory, churches buttressed a powerful citywide organizing initiative, built around voter education and registration and led by progressive Chicagoans, that helped defeat the machine candidates. Black clergy labored to enfranchise the black community; this movement—as its leaders liked to call it—spanned all levels, from the grassroots to the middle and upper class. Temporarily, at least, it appeared that Chicago’s South and West Side black communities were politically unified and in line with liberal whites to successfully deflect the white vote.

A different and largely ignored outcome was the effect of Washington’s political mobilization within poorer communities like Maquis Park. Johnnie Xavier’s Milky Way description seems like an exaggeration. His view that black leadership continually capitulates to predominately white machine bosses does not make total sense, particularly given that the city had just elected an African American to the city’s highest office. However, black clergy had not been key spokespersons for African American interests. Political unity among black leaders did not necessarily mean political parity. There remained an enormous gap between the cathedrals and the storefronts in terms of their capacity to procure resources and effect social change. As with all political movements, in the efforts to elect Washington, there was a double-edged quality to the organizing initiative: namely, either join or be cast aside. One scholar writes, In Harold Washington black people had drafted a standard-bearer with the credentials and progressive orientation to be their candidate for mayor. Community leaders from all sections of Black Chicago were forced to keep step with this new electoral upsurge or be cast aside. At the least, one must conclude that Johnnie Xavier’s candy bar analogy proves accurate in its allusion to the persistence of some long-standing cleavages within the black clergy.

In the campaign itself, some of the disparities among clergy could be discerned. At one point, Xavier and Wilkins met with Minister Brantley Martin, perhaps the most powerful member of the Maquis Park clergy. Martin had the capacity to mobilize thousands of voters, and it was rumored that if Washington won, Martin’s success in getting out the vote would be reflected in an appointment as a high-paid city commissioner and numerous contracts for firms owned by his congregants. Xavier and Wilkins said they threatened Martin, telling him that they would take the votes of their congregants to another candidate if they were not told exactly what they would receive in return for supporting Washington. Martin recalls what happened when the two walked into his office:

I told them if they took their votes away, I’d see to it that they couldn’t stay in the community no more, said Martin. Simple as that. I would perceive their behavior as a destructive force, no more, no less. They were injuring the livelihood of the people who walked into their place every day for help. That’s how important the Washington campaign was for black folk.

That’s a pretty amazing statement, particularly from a member of the clergy, I said.

You wanted the truth. These guys just didn’t trust anybody. I mean, I gave them hundreds of dollars. I sent my people over to fix their church, I bought them a new roof. I mean, to come in here and say I was not helping them. I had had enough.

The storefront clergy’s awareness of their limits relative to the preachers with larger congregations may not always have been displayed so dramatically, in such direct confrontation. It could simply have manifested itself in differences in perceptions, with powerful people understanding fairly clearly what Washington’s election could bring about and the grassroots clergy being only cautiously optimistic. A director of a storefront church in the eighties, Pastor Barnes, said, It was just that you knew everyday that you were hoping that you would get something for what you were doing. Those guys never worried, they always knew what they were getting.

Ultimately, it would be Harold Washington’s death, in 1987, that showed just how fragile political relations were among Chicago’s black stakeholders. His passing shed light on who might be cast aside if viewpoints became too difficult to reconcile. But even as Washington came into power four years earlier, it was possible to discern signs of discord, or at least differing and perhaps irreconcilable perspectives, within the black leadership. Part of the fragility arose from the movement’s having been built around Washington’s charismatic power as mayor—he was famously able to quickly mend cleavages as they arose—rather than through a more deliberate attempt to inculcate leadership and participatory democracy at all levels, so that the death of a leader might be survived by the appointment of a successor. As William Grimshaw has observed,

concern with elite self-interest points to the basis for the inability of the Washington coalition to survive his death. Washington’s inclination was to win over opponents rather than to exclude and punish them in the machine tradition… Washington’s reforms were not institutionalized as much as personalized. When he died, therefore, the reforms were put in jeopardy and promptly undermined by the very elements he had tolerated and left in place.

The tenuous nature of such alliances was reflected in the black clergy. Churches that brought out the black vote for Washington were a varied lot, with differences in denomination, political orientation, size, and relationship to local residents. They may have been unified in their response to racially based discrimination, but their interests could diverge considerably. Those in poor communities struggled with unemployment, poverty, and drug addiction in a way that black middle-class churches did not; conversely, the black middle class now demanded a fair share of city patronage and contracts, two issues that were very low on the list of priorities of an unskilled, jobless population living in substandard housing.

An important subgroup within the Southside black clergy were those who felt unable to advance their concerns in the Washington administration. Pastor Wilkins’s feelings represent frustrated clergy in Maquis Park who, after Washington came into power, grew at odds with him.

We said [to him], We need jobs, we got people with drug problems, we got people who need help, who need housing. What we got back, and I mean this is coming from black folk! We were told, We have to be careful because we can’t be seen as the poor people’s mayor. On one side of their mouth, they were for the people, but they were afraid to give the people what they wanted, because they would look soft. Giving of your heart. If that’s soft, then the Lord is soft. It was very frustrating not to get money for places to help people with their problems.

Father Michael Wilson, a white Southside progressive priest who supported Wilkins, remembers that eventually a segment of mostly black grassroots and storefront clergy began splitting off from the Washington agenda. Wilson deemed their return to servicing communities with noncity resources the embrace of a self-help agenda.

I really felt for Pastor Wilkins, Brother Patterson, Minister Hortons, and those folks. See, when Washington was mobilizing, you had a real neat group of what I will call grassroots and storefront ministers, priests—basically preachers who were really at the roots of the African American community. Daley never gave them attention, and, for that matter, neither did their own leadership. They did things for themselves, they responded to people with very minimal resources. Washington’s election was going to change that, at least that was the public promise made to them: he was going to build housing in those poor areas, he was going to give schools better classrooms, more medical clinics. But really, none of that happened, or at least not enough. So Minister Hortons, well all those people really, they all went back to helping themselves. Self-help I call it, because they must be given the credit for working by themselves with very tough problems around poverty and addiction. And then, then the gangs came, and well, you know the rest. I mean after that, that’s when you really had a separate, disenfranchised group. And I don’t mean just the people, but also the clergy. That’s when hope dissolves, when the clergy are not brought into the center.

When asked about his own view of ruling black leaders and the turn to self-help, Pastor Wilkins recalls a pivotal meeting in 1986 that he convened with clergy who were much closer to Mayor Washington—the so-called big preachers who were generally thought to be the most powerful figures in the Southside black community. Along with Brother Patterson, Johnnie Xavier, Minister Hortons, Father Michael Wilson, and others, he approached the big preachers—Minister Kevin Ashland, Minister Brantley Martin, Pastor Harold Brusser, and Reverend Calvin Lamar—to forewarn them of increased social problems in the black community. We asked them for specific kinds of help, Wilkins recalls. Brother Patterson, who joined in the conversation, listed the demands.

I can remember it like it was yesterday, said Brother Patterson. Down in Woodlawn, at First Baptist, sitting across a long table, like we was coming to the altar! The five [big preachers] sitting there, stone-faced, look like they lost even their hearts. We said, help us build housing, help us get medical care, help us stop police from beating on us like we were dogs, help the soup kitchens because we have homeless, meet with the gang leaders and hear what the youth are saying. What else, I can’t remember?

Then, Pastor Wilkins continued, They told us they were not sure what they could do. That’s when I realized we had a whole new boss system in Chicago. Black preachers! It was like being down South. They got what they wanted, wasn’t interested in helping everyone. Just taking care of themselves. That’s when I threw up my hands. I knew then, I knew then…

What he’s trying to say, Brother Patterson interrupted, is that that’s when we knew we were doing the right thing, but that we were going to be alone. Like we were before Washington came. There was nobody who was going to hear these cries. No one was really going to take that hard look, in themselves and in the community, seeing what was going on. That’s when we all got back together and said, Okay, let’s just do this, do it with our hearts and what we have. ‘Cause we ain’t getting no more, at least not from these so-called preachers.

The outcome of the meeting, according to those present, was that Wilkins and his colleagues realized that they would not be able to call on the mayor to address their constituents’ needs. What Brother Patterson calls the big-ticket items in Maquis Park, like high unemployment, gang crime, and housing shortages, were not going to improve appreciably in the immediate future as a result of rising black power in City Hall. But it was not entirely clear that the preachers’ alternative self-help program would be a viable means of addressing community concerns. In fact, there was no such self-help strategy in place, says Pastor Wilkins, only a feeling that whatever was going to happen was going to be coming from us—but no one knew what to do. By the mid-1980s, the only clarity the preachers had achieved was the recognition that City Hall would provide them only limited help.

The view from City Hall did not necessarily coincide exactly with the perceptions of Wilkins, Barnes, and the other modest Maquis Park clergy. Bill Owens was a senior advisor for Mayor Washington, in charge of liaising with Southside Chicago communities. He says that many of the storefront clergy could not adequately articulate their demands; they were angry, and even when they discussed specific issues like unemployment, their demands were abstract (Deal with the youth who are unhappy and turning to gangs) rather than rooted in specific programs, and therefore were not helpful to the city administration.

They would come into my office and start spouting on about how the community was going down the drain. Crime, gangs, drugs, people dying. And then they’d say that Harold Washington was responsible! They would just moan and never say exactly what they wanted. I’d say, okay, we’ll get you each ten jobs for the summer for kids. They’d say, Ten is nothing, we have thousands of people who are hopeless. I’d say, true, but let’s reduce that by ten and then we can move on.

Owens went on to say that the smaller clergy often lacked the organization to receive assistance from the city. They did not have a staff and did not have the capacity to build affordable housing (which the city might fund). Some did not have a charter or were unincorporated, so they were unable to receive money from many external parties, like foundations, charities, and city departments that contracted with local organizations to provide social services to families.

Minister Kevin Ashland, one of the big preachers and a critic of Pastor Wilkins at the time, openly described the hostility of the powerful religious bosses toward Wilkins and other storefront clergy members. In particular, he points to one of the specific self-help initiatives the storefront clergy developed to reduce crime: instead of working with police, around 1985, he says, the grassroots ministers worked directly with gangs and other criminals to solve crimes and restore order.

Black people in Chicago, then and now, have only been as powerful as the preachers around them. You know what political bosses are, right? Well, we were religious bosses. There were probably ten of us on the Southside, maybe two or three in Maquis Park. I fought long and hard to get at the table, I could do things for my parishioners: I could call the mayor and say, We need more money for this school, we need a new traffic light. These are not small things. Did the other ministers need to get our permission before they went and got in the mix with the gangs? Well, some would say no. I would have hoped that we would have been consulted, at the very least, because, well, there are consequences.

If you’re working with a beat cop, then I can’t work with him—or his commander. If you’re helping gangs smooth out their business, I can’t get the police to get them to stop. There are consequences. The white folk downtown, all they see is that there’s some crazy preacher trying to help gangs deal drugs or pimps get money from their prostitutes. Now we were trying to control what information got out [of Maquis Park]. We didn’t want to hurt our own ability to get things done. And I don’t know if there weren’t long-term problems. You help the gang leader, he becomes more powerful. Then what? He’ll kill you.

But what about the argument that you [religious bosses] were not doing anything to help people day to day? I mean, didn’t someone have to help keep order?

I’d call what they did messing about. And you see what happened. We grew apart for many years. A lot of the friendships? Well, they can’t be repaired now. And who was hurt? The people. For many years, all these preachers, if they wanted something, it’s the gangs they call, not us. Now the gangs are in jail and they’re calling us. Of course, we’ll help, but not all the time, and not without some recognition of what they did. So that’s what I mean when I say there were consequences. There’s a real divide now in the community. I’m a man of faith, but I’m not so sure it can be healed.

Ashland’s link between the clergy and street gangs points to some of the long-term consequences of the kind of self-help being developed by Wilkins and other storefront clergy. Namely, in terms of the kinds of issues they were taking up, there was a chasm growing between those at the elite churches and those working at the grassroots. As a result of citywide political transformations, a social cleavage in the black clergy had risen beyond the level of backroom griping. Pastor Wilkins and his colleagues were losing hope that participation in the Washington movement would bring about desired improvements in quality of life for local residents.

As a consequence of the meeting, the grassroots and storefront ministries perceived that their work must be supported without resources from the now black-controlled city administration. Effectively, this meant they would have only limited access to city and state funds. They also could not build on patronage jobs as vehicles to increase donor contributions. And they stood little chance of reaching black middle- and upper-class supporters of religious causes; these patrons had risen in number and stature as a result of Washington’s mobilization, but they typically aligned with the larger Maquis Park churches that were embedded in the Washington coalition. Consequently, in 1987, at the height of the Washington administration, the preachers’ focus had grown inward. This meant that they were increasingly attentive not only to local issues, but also to local sources of manpower and funds as opposed to external resources from the municipal, civic, and philanthropic community. In an economically depressed Southside region, this meant a closer relationship with the underground economy.

—Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh (2006), Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor. 231–241.

Part II of Benjamin Tucker’s Instead of a Book (on Money and Interest) now available in full

Part II of Benjamin Tucker’s Instead of a Book, by a Man Too Busy to Write One, on Money and Interest, is now available in full in the Fair Use Repository’s online edition. This adds a number of newly transcribed essays:

Here is Benjamin Tucker’s second exchange with Lucien Penny of the Winsted Press, on the money monopoly and government fiat currency:

An exchange concerning mutual banking advocate Alfred B. Westrup’s claims that mutual money need not serve as a standard of value.

A discussion on the likely effects of a dramatic increase in the gold supply due to new technology:

A positive but critical review of Hugo Bilgram’s book Involuntary Idleness, and an ensuing exchange over Bilgram’s proposals for government-run mutual banking:

A discussion of free banking with Joshua K. Ingalls:

A discussion with J. M. M’Gregor of the Detroit Labor Leaf on the priority of free banking over other reforms:

And other essays:

Investing in U.S. equities, from Richard A. Ferri’s All About Asset Allocation

This is from Chapter 6 of All About Asset Allocation: The Easy Way to Get Started, by Richard A. Ferri, CFA.

A History of U.S. Equity Returns

Over the long term, an investment in U.S. equities has delivered exceptionally good returns. As America prospered during the twentieth century, established companies grew and new companies in new industries were established. U.S. industry enjoyed steady earnings growth, even through two major world wars. As a result, U.S. companies paid reliable dividends, stocks increased in value, and shareholders profited.

From 1950 to 2004, the broad market for U.S. stocks returned 12.1 percent annually. That handily beat the 6.2 percent return on five-year Treasury notes and the 3.9 percent level of inflation. Table 6-1 is an after-inflation rate of return over different periods of time. The inflation-adjusted return is also known as the real return because it is the amount of purchasing power the investment created.

Table 6-1: Real U.S. Stock and Bond Returns
1950–20041968–19822000–2004Historic Average Over Inflation
U.S. stocks8.2%0.2%-4.9%5% to 7%
U.S. five-year T-note2.3%0.3%5.1%1% to 2%

Source: Standard & Poor’s; St. Louis Federal Reserve.

Real returns reinforce the fact that inflation is an invisible tax on all investments. The portion of return that is related to inflation cannot be counted as investment gain. When creating an asset allocation for your portfolio, you should always consider the expected real return of the investments you are considering.

It is not always easy to make a real return in the U.S. stock market. There have been several periods of time between 1950 and 2004 when U.S. equities did not perform well. For 15 years, from 1968 to 1982, the inflation-adjusted return of U.S. equities was barely above the rate of inflation. From 2000 to 2004, U.S. stocks lost 4.9 percent annually after accounting for inflation. If U.S. stocks average a real return of 5 percent from 2005 to 2010, over the entire 10-year period from 2000 to 2010, stock returns will return slightly greater than zero percent after inflation, and negative after income taxes.

Investors must expect periods of time when equities do not make money after inflation. That is the nature of investment risk. However, patience is a virtue. In the long run, equities have outpaced inflation by a wide margin, and they are expected to be one of the investments with the best real return in the future.

U.S. Equity Market Structure

When a company sells stock to the public for the very first time, it is distributed through a tightly controlled initial public offering (IPO). Investment bankers are hired to bring the company public and promote the shares. Investors who get the new shares tend to be large institutions that do significant business with the investment banker and friends of the officers of the company that is coming public. Individual investors who do relatively little business with large Wall Street firms and have no influence with management generally do not get access to the hottest IPOs. This is not the fairest system of distribution, but that is the way it works.

Once a stock is issued under the IPO process, it begins trading on the secondary market. Which stock exchange carries a new company depends on the company’s financial history and the value of the company. There are about 8,000 U.S. stock that trade actively in the U.S. equity market; however, only about half meet the criteria to trade on a major exchange. Companies must meet certain listing requirements to be eligible to trade on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the American Stock Exchange (AMEX), or the National Association of Securities Dealers Automatic Quote System (Nasdaq). Companies that do not qualify for listing on the NYSE, AMEX, or Nasdaq are called bulletin board stocks or pink sheet companies.

Table 6-2: Approximate Number of Stocks on Each Exchange
Stocks Sorted By ExchangeNumber of CompaniesPercent of Total Market Value
New York Stock Exchange1,66580%
American Stock Exchange375<1%
Bulletin board stocks3,500+<1%

Source: Wilshire Associates.

Table 6-2 is a breakdown of where stocks trade in the United States. The table includes only individual U.S. common equities. It does not include listed bonds, preferred stocks, exchange-traded mutual funds, or foreign stocks listed on U.S. exchanges.

You can buy bulletin board stocks through a broker that has access to that dealer market. Years ago, dealers who were members of the National Quotation Bureau (NQB) would publish weekly bid and ask prices on bulletin board stocks on long sheets of pink paper, thus the name pink sheets. The list would be distributed to all brokerage firms. Brokers now refer to electronic pink sheets if one of their clients wants to buy or sell a nonlisted security.

The Broad Stock Market

Wilshire Associates is a privately owned investment firm with headquarters in Santa Monica, California. Since its founding in 1972, the company has developed a wide variety of U.S. indexes, one of which is the Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 Composite Index. The Wilshire 5000, as it is commonly known, was the first U.S. equity index to capture the return of the entire market of listed U.S. stocks. Those are the companies that are listed on the NYSE, AMEX, and Nasdaq. Bulletin board stocks are not included in Wilshire indexes.

When originally introduced in 1974, the Wilshire 5000 Index held 5,000 stocks, thus the name. Today, the number of stocks in the index depends on the number of stocks trading on the major U.S. stock markets, which equals about 5050.

The major criteria for inclusion in the Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 Composite Index are as follows:

  • The company must be headquartered in the United States. Nondomiciled U.S. stocks and foreign issues (ADRs) are excluded.

  • The stock must trade in the United States on the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange, or Nasdaq.

  • The stock must be the primary equity issue for the company.

  • Common stocks, REITs, and limited partnerships are included.

  • Bulletin board issues are excluded.

The Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 Composite is the most complete broad market index; however, there are several other broad market indexes. They include the MSCI US Broad Market Index (~3,800 stocks), Russell 3000 (~3,000 stocks), Dow Jones Total Market Index (~1,625 stocks), Morningstar Total Market (~2,000+ stocks), and Standard & Poor’s 1500 (~1,500 stocks). There are several low-cost index funds available that attempt to match the return of these broad market indexes. A partial list of those funds is available at the end of this chapter.

Size and Style Opportunities

An investment in a total U.S. stock market fund is a solid foundation on which to base a stock allocation. From there, you can analyze various sectors of the U.S. stock market to possibly find an opportunity to add greater diversification through selectively overweighting one or more sectors. To do sector analysis, investors need a system for segmenting the market so that the sectors do not overlap.

Morningstar, Inc., in Chicago is a widely respected mutual fund and stock research company. The company has developed a comprehensive strategy for categorizing stocks that includes 97 percent of the U.S. equity market. The system is called the Morningstar Style Box. The nine-box grid divides stocks into three distinct size factors and three valuation factors. See Figure 6-1 for an illustration of the style box methodology. For a complete description of Morningstar’s methodology, refer to the Rulebook at http://indexes.Morningstar.com/.

Figure 6-1: Morningstar Style Box Methodology with Micro-Cap Added
Ultra SmallMicro Cap

One limitation of the Morningstar Style Box methodology is that it covers only about 2,000 of the largest stocks, thus overlooking more than 3,000 very small micro-cap issues that trade on U.S. exchanges. Accordingly, Figure 6-1 adds an extra micro-cap stock portion to the bottom of the Morningstar box to increase the coverage to 99% of the U.S. equity market.

The Morningstar Style Classification System

The Morningstar size classification system categorizes companies according to their free float market value. The free float market value is defined as a company’s outstanding market value less private block ownership. In other words, the free float market value of Microsoft stock does not include the value of the shares owned by Bill Gates. Free float is a common method of index construction that is widely becoming the standard for index providers.

The three Morningstar size classifications plus an extra micro-cap size cover 99 percent of the stock on the U.S. market. The four categories are:

  • Large cap = largest 70 percent of investable market cap
  • Mid cap = next 20 percent of investable market cap (70th to 90th percentile)
  • Small cap = next 7 percent of investable market cap (90th to 97th percentile)
  • Micro cap = remaining 2 percent of investable market cap (97th to 99th percentile)

As a reminder, the micro-cap portion is not a Morningstar style. I took the liberty of adding the box to show where that size category would fit if it were included in the Morningstar classification system. The micro-cap box completes the classification system so that it includes all stocks listed on the NYSE, AMEX, and Nasdaq. The only stocks not included are bulletin board stocks.

The Morningstar Style Classification System

All index providers classify companies by style as well as size. Different index providers determine value and growth using different methodologies. Some providers divide their indexes between growth and value. Morningstar divide theirs into three categories depending on fundamental characteristics. These categories are value, core, and growth. Morningstar categorizes companies using a multifactor model that consists of five variables. Table 6-3 highlights those five factors. The most influential factors in the equation are the stock’s price compared to its past earnings and price compared to projected earnings.

Table 6-3: Variables and Weights Used by Morningstar in Style Analysis
Value FactorsGrowth Factors
  • Price/projected earnings (50%)
  • Price/book (12.5%)
  • Price/sales (12.5%)
  • Price/cash flow (12.5%)
  • Dividend yield (12.5%)
  • Long-term projected earnings growth (50%)
  • Historical earnings growth (12.5%)
  • Sales growth (12.5%)
  • Cash flow growth (12.5%)
  • Book value growth (12.5%)

Morningstar first calculates a company’s value score, then its growth score, and finally its overall style score by subtracting the value score from the growth score. If the result is strongly positive, the company is classified as growth If the result is strongly negative, the company is classified as value. If the value score minus the growth score is not sufficiently different from 0, the stock is classified as core.

Breakpoints for value, growth, and core are set so that over a three-year rolling period, each style represents one-third of the investable universe within each capitalization class. That keeps a nearly equal number of stocks in each style box. Morningstar reconstitutes each index twice annually (adding or removing stocks). It also rebalances the indexes quarterly (adjusting constituent weights).

Based on this methodology, the Wilshire 5000 Composite Index falls roughly into the boxes illustrated in Figure 6-2. Each box contains the number of stocks in that particular box and the percentage of the index represented by the box.

Figure 6-2: Average Number of Stocks in the Morningstar Style Boxes
Large Cap
Mid Cap
Small Cap

The large-cap row holds 225 stocks, which is only 5 percent of the stocks in the Wilshire 5000 Composite Index. Yet those 225 stocks represent 70 percent of the free float market value of the entire listed U.S. stock market. It is interesting to note that it takes more than 3,000 micro-cap stocks to make up 3 percent of the listed market.

Performance by Size

The weighted-average market value of the stocks in an index has a profound effect on that index’s long-term performance. In the late 1970s, two academic researchers, Rolf Banz and Marc Reinganum, independently found that micro-cap stocks had a long-term return close to 5 percent per year higher than large-cap stocks. That fact was not a great revelation, since smaller stocks had much higher volatility than large stocks and were expected to return more. However, using new financial models of risk and return developed by William Sharpe, researchers Banz and Reinganum found that micro-cap stocks had higher-than-expected returns even after accounting for the extra volatility. Something else was going on in the micro-cap marketplace that was not being picked up by the return volatility numbers.

It was also interesting to Banz and Reinganum that sometimes the prices of micro-cap stocks moved in the opposite direction from large-cap stocks. That meant that the return on micro-cap stocks did not always correlate with the returns on the rest of the market. As a result, there may be a diversification benefit to owning micro-cap stocks in greater weight than the 3 percent position inherent in a total stock market index fund.

Table 6-3 offers excellent insight into the difference in return between the broad market and micro-cap stocks. The Russell 3000 Index is composed of the largest 3,000 stocks traded in the United States. The micro-cap index in Table 6-4 is derived by the Center for Research in Security Prices (CRSP). The CRSP Stock File Indices contain historical market summary data on all stocks traded no the NYSE, AMEX, and Nasdaq back to 1926.

Table 6-4: Comparing Micro-Cap Stocks to the Broad Market
Russell 3000 IndexCRSP Micro Cap IndexCRSP Micro Cap Return minus the Russell 3000

Notice the large differences in return between the CRSP Micro Cap Index and the Russell 3000 during 1998, 2001, and 2003. These differences are surprising considering that both indexes hold thousands of publicly traded U.S. companies. Generally, academics believe that in a broadly diversified portfolio, individual company risk is diversified away, leaving only market risk. Therefore, a random portfolio of 3,000 stocks diversified across several industries is expected to return very close to the same performance as another portfolio of 3,000 stocks diversified in the same manner. Clearly, that is not the case when one portfolio is made up of only micro-cap stocks. Micro-cap indexes have a unique risk factor above and beyond indexes of larger stocks that cannot be diversified away by adding more micro-cap stocks.

Figure 6-3 reflects the 36-month rolling correlation between the CRSP Total U.S. Market return, CRSP mid-cap stocks, and CRSP micro-cap stocks. The CRSP Total U.S. Market returns are almost exactly the same as those for the Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 Index, only the data go back further. The CRSP Mid-Cap Index is highly correlated with the broad market. Consequently, a separate portfolio of mid-cap stocks has not been a good diversifier for investors who own a total stock market index fund. Micro caps are a different story. At times there is a high positive correlation between micro caps and the total stock market, and at other times the correlation is lower. The varying correlation signals diversification potential.

A portfolio that has an overweighting in micro-cap stocks acts differently from a total stock market portfolio. Figure 6-4 illustrates the theoretical diversification benefit that was achieved by adding 10 percent increments of CRSP micro-cap stocks to a total stock market index fund.

Had it been possible, over the 30-year period from 1975 to 2004, a portfolio of 80 percent in a total stock market index fund and 20 percent in a micro-cap index fund would have increased U.S. returns by 1.1 percent with a small increase in risk. However, the returns in Figure 6-4 are theoretical because there were no total market index funds or micro-cap index funds in 1975. That is not the case today. You can now purchase a low-cost no-load total stock market index fund and a micro-cap index fund.

The more than 3,000 micro-cap stocks that trade actively on U.S. exchanges count for only 3 percent of the value of the entire listed market. Accordingly, the performance of micro-cap stocks does not have a large impact on the performance of the broad market. Overweighting micro-cap stocks in a portfolio as a separate U.S. stock category has had diversification benefits in the past and may add diversification benefits in the future.

Finding a Micro Cap Fund is Difficult

Now the bad news: It is very difficult to find a low-cost broadly diversified micro-cap fund that is still open to the public. Most micro-cap index funds are closed to new investors or are available only through a paid investment advisor. Sometimes a closed fund will reopen to the public for a short period of time. When that occurs, you have to be ready to invest. That means monitoring certain funds for potential opening dates.

There are micro-cap funds that are open to all investors all the time, but be careful in your selection. Some of these funds have a high sales commission, others have exorbitant management fees, and still others invest only a portion in micro-cap stocks and the rest in small- and mid-cap stocks.

If a brand new fund is open, make sure the average market weight of the companies in the fund is less than $300 million and that it will be widely diversified, with at least 500 companies. Also ensure that the total expense is below 1 percent and that there is no commission to buy or sell shares.

–Richard A. Ferri, CFA, All About Asset Allocation: the Easy Way to Get Started (2006), pp. 84-95

Money and Banking under Anarchy, in Instead of a Book

The following essays have been newly transcribed for our online edition of Benjamin Tucker’s Instead of a Book, by a Man Too Busy to Write One, offering an exchange between Benjamin Tucker and J. Greevz Fisher over money, banking, the gold standard, and the labor theory of value:

Truth in Fiction, by David Lewis

This is from David Lewis’s Philosophical Papers, Volume I (1983):

C. Fiction in the Service of Truth

There are some who value fiction mostly as a means for the discovery of truth, or for the communication of truth. Truth in Fiction had nothing to say about fiction as a means to truth. But the topics can indeed be connected.

Most simply, there may be an understanding between the author and his readers to the effect that what is true in his fiction, on general questions if not on particulars, is not to depart from what he takes to be the truth. (Indeed, such an understanding might extend to particular matters as well. Imagine a scandalous political exposé, by an insider, with characters called Nicksen, Hague, Wagoner, Bondsman, ….) Then the audience, if they know that the author is well informed, could learn the truth by figuring out what is true in his fictions. Further, the author might discover some truth in the course of trying to keep his side of the bargain.–Doubtless this is not quite what people have in mind when they speak of the cognitive value of literature! Let us find something a bit loftier for them to mean.

Fiction might serve as a means for discovery of modal truth. I find it very hard to tell whether there could possibly be such a thing as a dignified beggar. If there could be, a story could prove it. The author of a story in which it is true that there is a dignified beggar would both discover and demonstrate that there does exist such a possibility. An actor or a painter might accomplish the same. Here the fiction serves the same purpose as an example in philosophy, though it will not work unless the story of the dignified beggar is more fully worked out than our usual examples. Conversely, note that the philosophical example is just a concise bit of fiction.

More importantly, fiction can offer us contingent truths about this world. It cannot take the place of nonfictional evidence, to be sure. But sometimes evidence is not lacking. We who have lived in the world for a while have plenty of evidence, but we may not have learned as much from it as we could have done. This evidence bears on a certain proposition. If only that proposition is formulated, straightaway it will be apparent that we have very good evidence for it. If not, we will continue not to know it. Here, fiction can help us. If we are given a fiction such that the proposition is obviously true in it, we are led to ask: and is it also true simpliciter? And sometimes, when we have plenty of unappreciated evidence, to ask the question is to know the answer. Then the author of the fiction has made a discovery, and he gives his readers the means to make that same discovery for themselves.

Sometimes the proposition learned may be one that we could formulate, once we have it in mind, without reference to the fiction that drew our attention to it. Not so in general. Sometimes reference to a fiction is the only way we have, in practice if not in principle, to formulate the truths that the fiction has called to our attention. A schlemiel is someone such that what is true of him strikingly resembles what is true in a certain fiction of a certain character therein, Schlemiel by name. Temporarily or permanently, first for those who know the story and then for others (like myself) who don’t, the word schlemiel is indispensible in stating various truths.

So fiction can indeed serve truth. But we must beware, for also it can spread error. (1) Whatever understandings to the contrary might prevail, what is true in an author’s fiction might not be true, either because the author is mistaken or because he wishes to deceive those who rely on the supposed understanding. (2) Under the method of union, several things might be true together in a fiction, but not really compossible. Then the fiction might persuade us of a modal falsehood, leading us to believe in a possibility that doesn’t really exist. (3) If we have plenty of misleading evidence stored up, there may well be falsehoods that need only be stated to be believed.

–David Lewis, Truth in Fiction (1978), in Philosophical Papers, Volume I (1983), pp. 278–279.

Mind Vol. 1, No. 1 (January 1876) is now available

The first issue of the journal Mind: A Quarterly Review of Psychology and Philosophy (Vol. 1, No. 1, January 1876), is now available in full at the Fair Use Repository. Featured articles include:

Overworking the Slaves, from Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men by J. R. Hummel

This is from Chapter 2, The Political Economy of Slavery and Secession, of J. R. Hummel’s overview history of the American Civil War, Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men, in a section entitled Overworking the Slaves.

Nearly three-quarters of America’s slaves toiled on plantations or farms in 1860, and the proportion was climbing. Most of these bondsmen were in the South’s cotton belt; others grew sugar in lower Louisiana, rice along the coast of South Carolina and Georgia, or tobacco in Virginia. For the greater number of them, self-purchase was almost certainly unfeasible even had it been legal. Large plantations were the one place where free white labor could not compete effectively against black slave labor. The reason? The threat of the lash compelled field hands to work longer, or perhaps harder, than anyone would for market wages.

During peak seasons, black drivers herded gangs of men and women into agricultural assembly-lines that labored from sunup to sundown. Edmund Ruffin, a militant apologist for the peculiar institution, saw this as the source of its superior productivity: Slave labor, in each individual case, and for each small measure of time, is more slow and inefficient than the labor of a free man…. But the slave labor is continuous…. Free laborers, if to be hired for the like duties, would require at least double the amount of wages to perform one-third more labor in each day. Planters moreover put women into the fields, even when pregnant or soon after childbirth, and children beginning around ages eight to twelve. Slaves too old for field work took over the care of infants along with other light household duties. As a result of the plantation’s full employment regime, two-thirds of slaves participated in the labor force, compared with only one-third for free populations, North and South.

These slaves were being worked well beyond the point where the value of their output could cover a wage that would attract free laborers. One implication of Robert William Fogel and Stanley L. Engerman’s well-known and much-criticized study of American slavery is that a single field hand’s labor on large plantations was worth $52 per year more than the cotton he produced. If free and receiving the full value of their output, these blacks would have done less work and consumed more leisure, or perhaps done work that produced less but was more fun or interesting or had other non-pecuniary rewards.

In these instances, where planters compelled laborers to give up leisure or on-the-job rewards, slavery did raise the economy’s physical output. This, too, however, represented a misallocation of labor, a misallocation that made aggregate production too high rather than too low, because the extra output came at the expense of total well-being. Each additional hour of labor was producing less than its value to the laborer as leisure. In other words, for every dollar that slavery drove up southern output it drove up deadweight loss as well. Fogel and Engerman put this loss for the South overall at $7 million in 1850 alone.

The ultimate gainers from this increased cotton production were primarily consumers. Higher output drove down cotton prices and caused a redistribution from black slaves to American, English, and continental wearers of clothing. But since there were many more of them, these benefits were thoroughly dispersed. One estimate is that every dollar gained by the typical user of cotton cloth imposed a welfare loss of $400 on some individual slave. Although the planter usually earned a competitive return on his chattels, American blacks were being deprived of leisure so that millions of workers elsewhere could live slightly better.

To summarize, so long as we concentrate on the behavior of blacks, the peculiar institution pushed the South’s aggregate production of goods and services in two conflicting directions. Insofar as slavery forced laborers to work at less valued jobs, it lowered output. Insofar as slavery forced laborers to work more hours or more intensely, it raised output. Since increased output predominated in southern agriculture, it undoubtedly swamped the reduction in output, which must have been most common in the South’s urban areas. The adverse impact on aggregate well-being was unambiguous, however. For calculating slavery’s deadweight loss, the two tendencies, rather than counteracting each other, add together. And while bondsmen bore most of this burden, their effective exclusion from mor highly valued jobs hurt some white Southerners as well.

–Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men: A History of the American Civil War (1996). 45–47.