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Hobsbawm’s “What do Historians Owe to Karl Marx?”

Having read through historian Eric Hobsbawm’s chapter entitled, “What Do Historians Owe to Karl Marx?” I came to the conclusion that the answer is very little. A more pertinent question is what does humanity owe to Karl Marx? To which I’d answer that thanks to the ideas of Marx, millions of people died and there is a great deal more wanton suffering in the world. Historians could owe their entire discipline to Marx and it would pale in comparison to its real human impact. And thanks to historians like Hobsbawm, Marx’s ideas will continue to be such a delightful influence on man.

The Social Contract- Rousseau; Review

Emerging nationalism was one of the primary forces in shaping change in Europe throughout the late 18th and into the 19th centuries, in no small part due to the enormous influence of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Of the Social Contract, Or Principles of Political Right, written in 1762 in France. Rousseau’s Social Contract attempted to answer the question, “is it possible to establish some just and reliable rule of administration in civil affairs?”[1] Rousseau explicitly laid out that his essay was an attempt to find a justification for the institution of government over man—his bondage—since government is a fact of life, but that most governments seemed to be in possession of arbitrary authority.[2] Given that governments and nations existed throughout the world, if man was going to be limited by them, there should naturally arises a tendency to question how this can be legitimate.

Rousseau believed that people would give up their freedom they enjoy in nature only in order that they secure their own advantage thereby. Rousseau denies that rights can be establish by facts, just as David Hume did; as such, he notes that the existence of slavery is not evidence enough to induce that slavery is a part of the natural order. Rousseau dispatches with the moral principle that might makes right, understanding that if this were true, right would add nothing to might, given that a change in one necessarily means a change in the other, which is a flimsy basis for a right.[3]

Rousseau notes it is odd to extend the principle that an individual can alienate his freedom in exchange for subsistence—that is, to sell himself into slavery—to a king, since subjects do not depend on their king for their daily bread, rather the reverse is true. Men would not give up their freedom in order “that their property also shall be taken.” Rousseau ultimately denies even the ability to alienate one’s liberty and voluntarily become a slave, since this would be to renounce the very essence of humanity and be a self-contradictory proposition. Rousseau denies Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius’s claim that victors in war have the right to demand slavery from the subjects of their conquered for, since wars are between state and state, rather than between individuals, so the only spoils that rightfully belong to the victorious state are the possessions of the vanquished state; to assert otherwise is simply an extension of the earlier-refuted maxim that might makes right. [4]

In Chapter V, Rousseau attempts to establish what constitutes a people, or a nation, since Grotius asserts that a people can alienate itself to a king, meaning it had to have been a body politic already in order to have deliberated and made such a decision.[5] If these individuals had not been a body politic, to establish authority over every one, every individual would have had to unanimously vote to give up their liberties, for the ability of a majority to bind a minority is only operative anterior to the creation of a body politic. Here, Rousseau elucidates his social contract theory, whereby men determine that the state of nature being harsh and unforgiving with each individual acting only with regard to his own self-interest, they would find it in their best interest to form an association capable of protecting their persons and property by using the “whole force of the community” to protect each individual member.[6] Rousseau moves on in Chapter VII to note that a social compact having been agreed to, and a collective body having been formed, it is the sovereign which takes on the role of the individual, in that it under no obligation to be bound to itself, namely that it cannot “impose on itself a law it cannot transgress”; in essence, it is a body of unlimited authority. Rousseau also stipulates that individuals give up all rights to property they were in possession of to the State, which is of little significant to him because possession of property by the state is actually “more secure.”[7]

Rousseau comes to the conclusion that it is nationhood, under the collective agreement that creates a republic, that defines a people; and all of the corresponding duties attendant to it are one’s highest political duties. In a footnote on page 171, Rousseau notes that although once a social contract has been agreed to, unanimity is no longer necessary to give force to the general will, it is necessary that everyone be able to vote on what actions the general will should take, because to do otherwise makes it an expression of a particular will rather than the true general will. Democracy, then, becomes an important aspect of the legitimacy of acts of the State in reflecting the general will of the people rather than the fancies of its leaders.

The significance of Rousseau’s Social Contract is that it gives parameters by which one can judge the legitimacy of governments in both their structure and substance. Governments must usually be democratic, because if they were not it means they are not attempting to ascertain the general will of the people. Similarly, leaders must act in accordance with the general will and those who contravene it are illegitimate; leaders who continue to act against popular sentiment have no right to rule under the social contract. Additionally, it seems to follow from Rousseau’s footnote on page 169 that government should redistribute wealth in order that they function efficiently, because too much inequality renders the social state only advantageous to the rich.[8] Furthermore, Rousseau’s ideas significantly impacted the French Revolutionaries of the late 18th century, whose motto was Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité. These revolutionaries rejected the authority of the king since he was contravening the above-mentioned principles and subordinating the general will and common good to his own particular good. Equality and reciprocity, moving forward, become important foundations of Rousseau’s political philosophy and the modern nation-state. Rousseau’s ideas reflected and reinforced the movements in the late 18th century, such as in France, and those throughout the 19th century to create unitary states, in which the sovereign possessed full authority and plenary power, rather than enduring in the fragmented, decentralized situation many European nations like Germany had been in. This drive attempted to shed the arbitrary authorities of kings, princes, and other leaders by establishing anew a modern nation representative of the general will of the people rather than the special interest of the king.

[1] Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract and The First and Second Discourses, ed. Susan Dunn (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2002), 155.

[2]Ibid., 156. In Rousseau’s words: “Man was born free, and everywhere he is in chains….How has this change come about? I do not know. What can make it legitimate? I believe I can settle this question.”

[3] Ibid., 156-158. Likewise, Rousseau says, “If one is compelled to obey by force, there is no need to obey from duty’ and if one is no longer forced to obey, obligation is at an end.”

[4] Ibid., 159-161. The convention of taking slaves rather than killing enemy combatants presupposes a state of war and terminates at the establishment of peace, so this cannot justify an absolute authority of a ruler over his subjects either.

[5] Ibid., 162.

[6] Ibid., 163.

[7] Ibid., 167.

[8] Here, Rousseau says “Under bad governments, this equality is only apparent and illusory; it serves only to keep the poor in their misery and the rich in their usurpations. In fact, laws are always useful to those who possess and injurious to those that have nothing; whence it follows that the social state is advantageous to men only so far as they have something, and none of them has too much.”

The Bitcoin Revolution: The Digital Money Paradigm and the Financial Crisis

Below, I have attached a link to a PDF file of my paper entitled, “The Bitcoin Revolution: The Digital Money Paradigm and the Financial Crisis.” I would greatly appreciate any suggestions, edits, errors, comments, or omissions you may have noticed.

My paper looks at the history of cryptocurrency/cryptography, how this relates to Bitcoin, and how cryptoanarchist concerns regarding government interference with digital communications and digital money appear to have been fleshed out by the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

The Bitcoin Revolution


Addressing Objections to Libertarianism

Spoken in class today by a leftist student of unknown ideology who probably loves Salon articles: “Some libertarians think individuals with vast economic power have the right to turn people into paupers.” They seem to misunderstand one of the most basic characteristics present in any human society.
No matter what the structure of society, there will always be some individuals who have more power than others. Further, in any society, there will always be some individuals who actively use their power to the detriment of others; this certainly is not limited to any particular ideology, class of individuals, or structure of society. To think otherwise is hopelessly naive and would deny the existence of sociopaths. If someone was actually concerned about instances of the misuse of power, they should take a look at government. Government has vastly greater power than any business or private individual could ever hope of having and the instances of abuse of this power are painfully obvious: 260 million individuals killed by governments in the 20th century and countless other abuses and violations of individual rights. Some people are so tunnel-visioned about the potential for power abuse in their pejorative hypothetical libertarian state they forget the catastrophic reality they are living in. And let’s be realistic here, unless they are supporters of some genre of anarchism, they ultimately accept the idea that the state may wield power and turn people into paupers through taxation. Awfully hypocritcal, wouldn’t you say?

Setting up AntMiner u1 to mine Bitcoin with BFGminer

I’ve seen plenty of pages on the forums and personal websites troubleshooting and giving instructions on how to mine bitcoins with the AntMiner u1 on CGMiner and BFGminer, but had little success getting it to work until after plenty of hours of troubleshooting, searching, and head-scratching. Here I’m going to compile a bunch of information on getting your AntMiner to work with BFGminer. I’m not a coder or anything like that so I left this simple so it’s accessible to those who also aren’t familiar (also since I couldn’t have made it more complicated even if I would have wanted to!).

***First, here’s a link to BFGminer 3.10, the version I am currently using my AntMiner  with(32 bit) (or go to http://bfgminer.org to find the latest version):


-All you need to do is extract the bfgminer-3.10.0-win32.zip folder and the BFGminer is basically ready, aside from the steps below.

Also, here is a link to a PDF of the Antminer’s user guide which can be helpful:

***You will need special drivers to get your AntMiner to be recognized by BFGMiner. Here is the VCG driver that worked for me with BFGMiner 3.10:


-For 32 bit Windows, all you have to do is extract the folder then click on the CP210xVCPInstaller_x86.exe and install it and it’s good to go.

***The BFGMiner folder does not contain a .bat (Batch) file (what you need to launch BFGminer and input your mining pool info, as well as information so AntMiner will be recognized by BFGminer), so we will need to create one; it’s very simple.

How to create a .bat (Batch) File for Bitcoin mining:

-First, have open the folder in which you have the .exe file located in (this works for either CGminer or BFGminer).
-Then, in the folder options, make sure ‘Hide extensions for known file types’ is unchecked.
Hide Extension
-Next, create a new text (notepad) file and name it AntMiner or whatever you might want to name your batch file. You should then see AntMiner.txt (or whatever-you-named-the-file.txt).
New Text Document
-Rename the file AntMiner.bat (or whatever.bat). It will tell you changing the file extension may make a file not work, etc. Just click OK.
Are you sure
-Next, right click the file and select ‘edit’ to edit it in NotePad. Here you will type out or cut and paste the command to mine using BFGMiner. Generally, you will need to know your pool’s username, password, mining http, and desired Mh/s or Gh/s you want you AntMiner to run at.

Here is the specific .bat command I used to finally get my AntMiner to be recognized and work in BFGminer:

bfgminer.exe –set-device antminer:clock=x0781 -o http://mint.bitminter.com:8332 -u USERNAME_WORKER -p PASSWORD -S antminer:all

(http://minter.bitminter.com:8332 is the particular mining pool I use which mines for both Namecoins and Bitcoins)

This is the general format you want to have for a .bat file. You want to have the .exe file at the beginning, then the device speed you want, the mining pool (the http) and port you’re using (:8332, or others) which the pool’s website should tell you, the username and worker number (if using multiple workers), the password, and the end command which I’m not sure exactly what it accomplishes but seems to help.

*I’ve seen others have used a bsmc-freq argument to regulate the speed of and overclock their device (in their .bat file), but that didn’t work for me with BFGminer, you may have better success than me (ex.: –bmsc-freq 0981). Not sure what the difference is but, again, this did not work for me.

Here is a guide to setting the speed you want your AntMiner to mine at (1.6 gh/s is the standard; higher is overclocking which may cause overheating. All you have to do is edit the .bat file and change the numbers):

0581 =1.2
0681 =1.4
0781 =1.6
0881 =1.8
0981 =2.0
0A81 =2.2

You now just have to click on the batch file whenever you want to start mining and it works pretty much autonomously. Just pay attention to how hot your AntMiner gets because you don’t want to have to buy a new one.
Here’s what BFGminer looks like when it’s working:

Command Screen

A couple notes on some of the problems I ran into during my quest to get AntMiner to work with BFGminer:

-After a long time of tinkering with the commands in the .bat file, I figured out the drivers I was using weren’t correct (obtained using zadig) and once I downloaded the correct driver it began to work for BFGminer.

Thus, it is VERY IMPORTANT if you want your AntMiner and batch file to work to have the correct drivers. If the miners don’t recognize or pick up ‘no device’ (in BFGminer), chances are it’s a problem with the driver, and you may have to try different ones and see which one works with the miner you are using.

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Segregation and School Vouchers

It’s always amazed me the people who argue against school vouchers because they say it leads to more segregation. Although it’s not the case, even if we grant for argument’s sake that a school voucher system will lead to less integration, if, at the same time, it raises everyone’s standard of education across the board, how can you argue against it? The primary goal of education should be…(spoiler alert)…EDUCATION! People who argue against school vouchers are are effectively holding integration as a greater goal of education than education itself, on its face an absurd proposition. Very rarely does anyone argue that competition in schooling created through school vouchers will not encourage the prospering of the best schools while the worst fall by the wayside. Instead, arguments involving integration, poverty, and parental irrationality are substituted for legitimate debate because they know competition will ultimately increase the quality of education, which is supposed to be their professed goal.

P.s. Not that I think school vouchers are the best policy, mind you, but they are better than the status quo.

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