The Weekly Wrap-Up

Boy, we sure did learn a lot this week, didn’t we? We found out that…uh…oh! And we figured out…um. Nevermind. Ask us on Monday. For now, here’s a Friday kick-back.

5. Dumb Facebook Post



There is nothing more soul-crushing than encountering a facebook dummy whilst scrolling your News Feed. But if we can laugh at them, maybe it’s not so bad.

4. Troll High-Fiving People at Leaning Tower of Pisa


The best part about this video is not this ingenious troll prank (though it is quite good), but the smiles and goodhearted attitudes of the folks he’s trolling.

3. Making History Technicolor  


These images captured our hearts when they were in black and white, so it’s no surprise that color has added a whole new level of appreciation to them.

2. The Best of the Scumbag Brain Meme


Will we ever have full mastery over our thoughts and actions? Not if this douche can help it.

1. The Farce of American Pride


George Carlin still manages to ruffle people’s feathers, and we like that.


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Be sure to check out all the PBH Network has to offer: ProseBeforeHosRunt Of The WebAlligator Sunglasses,PBH2, and All That Is Interesting. Thanks again to all of our fans and supporters!



The Politics Of Getting A Life

The Article: The Politics Of Getting A Life by Peter Frase in Jacobin.

The Text: ork in a capitalist society is a conflicted and contradictory phenomenon, never more so than in hard times. We simultaneously work not enough and too much; a labor famine for some means feast for others. The United States has allegedly been in economic “recovery” for over two years, and yet 15 million people cannot find work, or cannot find as much work as they say they would like. At the same time, up to two thirds of workers report in surveys that they would like to work fewer hours than they do now, even if doing so would require a loss of income. The pain of unemployment is well-documented, but the pain of the employed only occasionally sees the light, whether it’s Amazon warehouse employees working at a breakneck pace in sweltering heat, or Foxconn workers risking injury and death to build hip electronics for Apple.

When work is scarce, political horizons tend to narrow, as critiques of the quality of work give way to the desperate search for work of any kind. And work, of any kind, seems to be all that politicians can offer; right and left differ only on who is to blame for the scarcity of it. Go to the web site of the Barack Obama campaign, and you will be told at the top of the “Issues” page that “The President is taking aggressive steps to put Americans back to work and create an economy where hard work pays and responsibility is rewarded.” Likewise the site of the AFL-CIO labor federation, where a man in overalls grins behind the words “work connects us all”. This is how the virtuous working class appears in the liberal imagination: hard-working, responsible, defined, and redeemed by work, but failed by an economy that cannot create the necessary wage labor into which this responsibility can be invested.

When the Right rejects this romanticism of workers as ascetic toilers, it is only to better shift the blame for a weak economy from capital to labor. University of Chicago economist and sometime New York Times contributor Casey Mulligan tried to define the recession out of existence by insisting that collapsing employment reflected only a diminished desire to work, rather than a shortfall in demand. Meanwhile, the more culturally-minded reactionaries fret about the waning of the work ethic as a herald of civilizational decline. Charles Murray, who made his name promoting pseudoscientific accounts of the shiftlessness and mental inferiority of African-Americans, has recently returned with dire warnings about the decay of the white working class. White men, he says, have lost their “industriousness,” as demonstrated by declining labor force participation rates and shorter average work weeks among the employed.

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Mainstream Marxism

The Article: Marxism Goes Mainstream by Stuart Jeffries in Raw Story.

The Text: Class conflict once seemed so straightforward. Marx and Engels wrote in the second best-selling book of all time, The Communist Manifesto: “What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.” (The best-selling book of all time, incidentally, is the Bible – it only feels like it’s 50 Shades of Grey.)

Today, 164 years after Marx and Engels wrote about grave-diggers, the truth is almost the exact opposite. The proletariat, far from burying capitalism, are keeping it on life support. Overworked, underpaid workers ostensibly liberated by the largest socialist revolution in history (China’s) are driven to the brink of suicide to keep those in the west playing with their iPads. Chinese money bankrolls an otherwise bankrupt America.

The irony is scarcely wasted on leading Marxist thinkers. “The domination of capitalism globally depends today on the existence of a Chinese Communist party that gives de-localised capitalist enterprises cheap labour to lower prices and deprive workers of the rights of self-organisation,” says Jacques Rancière, the French marxist thinker and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris VIII. “Happily, it is possible to hope for a world less absurd and more just than today’s.”

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Ending A Rotten Culture

The Article: Let’s end this rotten culture that only rewards rogues by Will Hutton in The Guardian.

The Text: Investment banking is an organised scam masquerading as a business. It is defined by endemic conflicts of interest, systemic amoral behaviour and extreme avarice. Many of its senior figures should be serving prison sentences or disgraced – and would have been if British regulators had been weaned off the doctrine of ” light touch” regulation earlier and if the Serious Fraud Office’s budget had not been emasculated by Mr Osborne. It is a tax on wealth generation and an enemy of honest endeavour – the beast that is devouring British capitalism.

The £290m fine on Barclays for rigging the interest rates in the inter-bank market is a defining moment. Not just for Barclays but for every bank with which it colluded. Barclays had the wit to come clean first – the first of many banks to suffer political and moral opprobrium for illicitly inflating its profits. It was also trying to protect itself from “reputational damage” – not wanting other banks’ assessment of its creditworthiness to become public .

In the light of what we now know, that seems laughable. But between autumn 2007 and spring 2009, Barclays was fighting for its life as an independent bank. Had the news surfaced that other banks harboured such doubts about its credit standing, Barclays might have ended up being owned by the British taxpayer like RBS and Lloyds.

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Weimar America

The Article: Weimar America: Four Major Ways We’re Following Germany’s Fascist Footsteps by Robert Cruickshank in AlterNet.

The Text: What happens when a nation that was once an economic powerhouse turns its back on democracy and on its middle class, as wealthy right-wingers wage austerity campaigns and enable extremist politics?

It may sound like America in 2012. But it was also Germany in 1932.

Most Americans have never heard of the Weimar Republic, Germany’s democratic interlude between World War I and World War II. Those who have usually see it as a prologue to the horrors of Nazi Germany, an unstable transition between imperialism and fascism. In this view, Hitler’s rise to power is treated as an inevitable outcome of the Great Depression, rather than the result of a decision by right-wing politicians to make him chancellor in early 1933.

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