Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Theme: Capitalism

  • Asked for his response to those critics who saw in The Wolf of Wall Street an undiluted celebration of the bad life – drugs, sex, money, jewels, a very large yacht and expensive suits – Leonardo DiCaprio said: ‘If they don’t get the irony of it, sorry.’ He was right to refute the idea the film is a simple celebration, but there isn’t any irony either.Read more
  • I dreamt last night that I was sharing a taxi with Putin from Moscow to Sheremetyevo airport. He was being very friendly and I could tell he liked me. I felt like a coward and a moral cretin for not saying anything critical that would cause him to not like me, and at the same time I kept trying to convince myself that there were strong pragmatic reasons for maintaining good relations, at least for now, as this would enable me to eventually write more revealingly about him.Read more
  • 17 April. Shots of the cabinet and the ex-cabinet at Lady Thatcher’s funeral in St Paul’s just emphasise how consistently cowardly most of them were, the only time they dared to stand up to her when eventually they kicked her out. What also galls is the notion that Tory MPs throw in almost as an afterthought, namely that her lack of a sense of humour was just a minor failing, of no more significance than being colourblind, say, or mildly short-sighted.Read more
  • The commodification of land—that most basic of resources, the source of terrestrial life, and the foundation of human civilization—was essential for the development of capitalism. And from the early modern capitalist era until the present, it is the commodification of nature—with land bought (or obtained by other means) and sold, speculated upon, and used to produce human food, animal feed, fiber, or fuel and with crops selected based on climate and soil type but also on what would bring the greatest returns—that is the underlying basis of the dispossession of people from their lands.Read more
  • Writing in response to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the first systematic attempt by the US government to police the internet, John Perry Barlow - former lyricist for the Grateful Dead - made a celebrated Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace. In resonant tones that echoed those of the Founding Fathers, Barlow addressed the “Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel”, declaring “the global space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us”.Read more
  • “Let’s grab all this new technology in our teeth once again and turn it into a bonanza for advertising.” These are the words of former Procter & Gamble CEO Edwin Artzt. Renowned for his business acumen, Artzt, always one to turn a profit, told his fellow captains of industry to aim their attention to something new, something unseen before, something that needed to be conquered.Read more
  • Implicit in the Google view is the idea that our consciousness itself is no longer capable of attending to thought, communication, and reflection without technical assistance. In the same year, the Ars Industrialis group declared in their Manifesto that we must “struggle against carelessness [incurie], against the destruction of attention” (Ars Industrialis).Read more
  • 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. Read more
  • The players at Table 25 fought first over the choice of pawns. Doug Herold, a forty-four-year-old real estate appraiser, settled on the car. The player across from him, a shark-eyed IT recruiter named Billy, opted for the ship and took a pull from a can of Coors. The shoe was taken by a goateed toxic-tort litigator named Eric, who periodically distracted himself from the game on a BlackBerry so that he “could get billable hours out of this.” Read more
  • It was a half century ago, in 1963, that I first entered the world of commercial advertising. Only then did I personally grasp the nature and power of moving-image media. I realized it’s possible to create and project purposeful images into millions of brains at the same time, and to get people to view and believe things in the way you wanted them to. I loved that —at least, at first. Read more
  • “In order to transform publishing into a less crisis-bound, short-term-oriented system, we must end capitalism,” according to Andrew Goldstone’s – and my – friend, Colin Gillis, a member of the staff collective at the radical co-op, Rainbow Bookstore, located in Madison, WI. Read more
  • The current crisis was not imposed by technocratic elites, but by democratically elected centre-right and centre-left governments. It is to a great extent due to the weak response from society that neoliberal capitalism is consolidating further, as governments are imposing exactly the ruinous policies that were at the root of the financial crisis.Read more
  • 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 climate change nearly fifteen years ago.Read more
  • ‘I don’t see myself as a prole. And I don’t see myself as a super- intellectual, not like a student. I’m not . . . Well, I’m here’, Christine says on the steps of the Beaubourg Centre. And Eric explains, ‘We walk about one way and another, sit on the benches and watch people pass by.’Read more
  • The modern poem does not have form but consistency (that is sensed), no content but a problem (that is developed). Consistency + problem = composition. The problem of modern poetry is capitalism. Capitalism—which has no image: the unrepresentable Idea of “everything.” The problem is that a poem cannot be justified. There is no excuse for it.Read more
  • It would be impossible to cover here the range of ideas in David Harvey’s recent book, Rebel Cities, but it is worth considering one of its key themes: how might the city, rather than the workplace, be the key site of anti-capitalist struggle?Read more
  • Neo-liberalism seems to persist through a double life. For sure, it believes in itself like all forms of fundamentalist thought, but it also unconsciously divines its own impossibility. It thus grows outrageous characters to compensate, to fill the void, like a petulant child who invents far-fetching tales after raiding the cookie jar.Read more
  • By placing the word “capitalism” on the wall surrounding the museum, the capitalist system and the constant social divisions that it implies are interpreted as sophistic continuations of apartheid politics. Through the capitalist system, apartheid is still operational within South African society.Read more
  • Loretta Napoleoni on Chinese economic growth, the collapse of capitalism and growth of communism with a profit motive.Read more
  • The very nature of the crisis today is not, in my opinion, the crisis of capitalism, but the failure of socialism. And maybe I am the philosopher of the time where something like the “Great Hypothesis” coming from the nineteenth-century—and maybe much more, for the French Revolution—is in crisis.Read more
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