Berfrois

Information Over Muskets

Information Over Muskets

Kim Jong-un, Vasily Galaktionov, 2013 by Sergei Guriev and Daniel Treisman The changing dictatorships Dictatorships are not what they used to be. The totalitarian tyrants of the past – such as Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or Pol Pot – employed terror, indoctrination, and isolation to monopolise power. Although less ideological, many 20th-century military regimes also relied on mass…

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Freeze!

Freeze!

Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze, Batman & Robin, Warner Bros., 1997 From 3:AM: Conservatives favor the free market as the best solution to economic problems. Conservatives also insist that people have the right to what they have earned. Together the market and the right to keep what one has...

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‘The euro has survived’

‘The euro has survived’

Photograph by Julian Herzog From London Review of Books: All quiet on the euro front? Seen from Berlin, it looks as though the continent is now under control at last, after the macro-financial warfare of the last three years. A new authority, the Troika, is policing the countries that...

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Germany is not poor, but many Germans are…

Germany is not poor, but many Germans are…

Europa regina, Sebastian Munster, 1570 by Paul De Grauwe and Yuemei Ji A recent ECB household-wealth survey was interpreted by the media as evidence that poor Germans shouldn’t have to pay for southern Europe. This column takes a look at the numbers. Whilst it’s true that median German households...

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Why did the capitalist counter-revolution of the late 20th century prove to be so successful?

Why did the capitalist counter-revolution of the late 20th century prove to be so successful?

While there are a number of plausible labels that might be attached to the 20th century, in terms of social history it was clearly the age of the working class. For the first time, working people who lacked property became a major and sustained political force.

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A Recipe for Oppression

A Recipe for Oppression

The Simpsons, Fox Broadcasting Company by Richard Murphy I said I would make no predictions for 2013. A few hours in and the weight of evidence makes me change my mind. In 2013 we will see political prevarication in defence of the status quo come to the fore, and government become gridlocked...

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Austerity policies pursued by EU countries over the recent past have had perverse and damaging effects…

Austerity policies pursued by EU countries over the recent past have had perverse and damaging effects…

On the Pauper’s Bench, Francois Bonvin, 1864 by Dawn Holland and Jonathan Portes EU governments have individually embraced severe austerity programmes in an effort to avoid becoming the next Portugal. This column presents results from the National Institute Global Econometric Model suggesting that these individually rational polices are leading...

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‘Adam Smith occasionally attacks the capitalists’

‘Adam Smith occasionally attacks the capitalists’

Portrait of Pierre Joseph Proudhon, Gustave Courbet, 1865 by Karl Marx Just as the first critical moves in every science are necessarily entangled in the assumptions of the science which they are intending to combat, so Proudhon’s work Qu’est ce que la propriété? is a criticism of political economy...

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Email Trail of a Crisis

Email Trail of a Crisis

New York Stock Exchange. Photograph by Mario Tama/Getty Images by Jesse Eisinger and Jake Bernstein As ProPublica has been detailing for two years, Wall Street banks and the hedge fund Magnetar worked together to build mortgage-backed deals that the hedge fund also bet against. The more than $40 billion of...

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Exactly Backwards

Exactly Backwards

Small White Pebble Circles, Richard Long, 1987 by Jeffrey Frankel The world is seized by a debate between fiscal austerity and fiscal stimulus. Opponents of austerity worry about contractionary effects on the economy. Opponents of stimulus worry about indebtedness and moral hazard (see Corsetti 2012). Is austerity good or...

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‘The Eurozone has arrived at a historic crossroads’

‘The Eurozone has arrived at a historic crossroads’

From New Left Review: Why has the Eurozone emerged as the new epicentre of the global financial crisis, when its origins—the famous subprime mortgages—were American? And why, within Europe, has Greece proved to be the weak link? The starting point for any adequate answer is the recognition that what...

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Free Market Power Put on Ice

Free Market Power Put on Ice

by Gregory Jusdanis I got a new lesson on the force of narrative during the blackout that affected much of the mid-west and east coast in early July. It was the third time our own neighborhood had experienced an extended power outage in four years. This time, however, the...

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Capitalism may yet weather climate change…

Capitalism may yet weather climate change…

Can capitalism effectively respond to climate change? This is the timely and critically important question posed by Peter Newell and Matthew Paterson at the beginning of their book, Climate Capitalism. It is the same question that motivated me to focus my own research on the topic of business and...

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‘Hirelings wandering round Europe’

‘Hirelings wandering round Europe’

Wladimir Klitschko and Jean-Marc Mormeck in the WBA-IBF Heavyweight titles, Düsseldorf, March 2012 by Àngel Ferrero In the amorality of capitalism, the alternatives for an emigrant are virtually reduced to cynicism or melancholy. Cigarette smoke snuck into clothes and wreathed tables, chairs, and walls of the bar in Neukölln,...

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‘Money never gets tired’

‘Money never gets tired’

Barney Dodd and Chris Frank From Rolling Stone: The giant reform bill turned out to be like the fish reeled in by Hemingway’s Old Man – no sooner caught than set upon by sharks that strip it to nothing long before it ever reaches the shore. In a furious...

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‘What is needed is a theory of distribution’

‘What is needed is a theory of distribution’

Liberty Plaza, November 2011. Photograph by Sasha Kimel From Monthly Review: In the early 1980s, I began telling my students that growing inequality of income and wealth would become the dominant political issue of the future. I did not think that the future meant thirty years, but better late...

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Mario Carpo: Voice, Words, Memory

It all started with cellphones, a long time ago. No student, and few teachers, would make voice calls from class, but in the early...

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Remembrance of Translations Past

Although Charles Kenneth Scott Moncrieff’s translation of À la recherche du temps perdu is considered by many journalists and writers to be the best...

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Colin Dickey: Time’s Resistless Stream

By now, we are all of us more or less apocalyptic. Our calendar is itself based on the apocalyptic return of Jesus Christ, counting...

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Mark Mordue: Curate. Content. Click.

Not that ‘the critic’ has ever been a greatly appreciated or understood figure. Some fat toad with a feather in his hat who thinks...

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Russell Bennetts
Street Fighter: Berfrois Interviews Tariq Ali

The extreme centre is a form of government that arose out of neoliberal economics and exists today in virtually the whole of Europe, North...

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John Crutchfield: Go West

Perhaps this is what finally draws me back to the Western. It is a fundamentally serious genre. It deals with serious questions, and it...

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Joel Gn on Henri Lefebvre

How may we speak of that which goes off the record in an age of digital colonisation?

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Volker M. Welter on Michael Graves

The designer Michael Graves, who passed away at the age of 80 on March 12th, was widely considered to be one of the founding...

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Sebastian Normandin on Steven Pinker

“The great thinkers of the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment were scientists.” So begins Steven Pinker’s recent controversial essay on scientism and its...

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Oliver Farry on Michel Houellebecq

The peculiar circumstances surrounding the publication of Michel Houellebecq’s latest novel constitute a case study in how even the biggest literary news stories are,...

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McKenzie Wark
Information in Chains

“Information wants to be free, but is everywhere in chains.” The development of the forces of production took a qualitatively different turn when information...

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Bobbi Lurie
Bobbi Lurie: Organic Fortune

isis - ebola - obama hit by halal truck (where is duchamp?)

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Bharat Azad
Bharat Azad Meets Adair Turner

In a quiet office tucked away in Mayfair – over a long table so white I am hesitant to even place my fingers on...

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Andre Gerard: Light Here, Shadow There

The deeper one looks in To the Lighthouse the more one sees. The more one listens the more one hears. Homer, Shakespeare, Conrad and...

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