Tag: capitalism

Nick Henck’s “Subcommander Marcos”

This is a review of Nick Henck’s book on Sup Marcos, the military leader of the EZLN, the subversive movement in Mexico.

(Photo from the account of Whodisan215)

(Crossposted at Big Orange)

WashPost: Wall Street Steals Billions from Shareholders

OK, so the Washington Post article today doesn’t stay “steal.” The headline reads Dire Year on Wall Street Yields Gigantic Bonuses. And how big were these bonuses? Reportedly larger than the GNP of of Sri Lanka, Lebanon or Bulgaria, oar more precisely, $39 billion dollars in year-end bonuses for the top five Wall Street firms. Meanwhile, shareholders in three of these five firms lost $80 billion dollars.

Now I know that economics is supposed to be the “dismal science,” but who knew how dismal? The shareholders of these companies may want to pause and consider the math. The money out of shareholder pockets, much of which comes from institutional investments by union funds, IRA mutual funds, state retirement agencies, etc., goes directly into the pockets of a handful of the super-rich. Meanwhile these same firms plan to ax “at least 4,900 jobs as losses mount from the collapse of the subprime mortgage market.”

Ah, this is capitalism.

Mike says: ” “It’s the War,” Says Iowa to Hillary “

And adds — And a “Happy Blue Year” To All!

Michael Moore has it partly right, a Big Part, for the Failed Foreign Policies, The War in Iraq and on Terrorism, of this Incompetant, Corrupt Administration will be defining what this Country faces for Decades!

We have Set In Stone, what many in the World, had already thought about Us. And in doing so have Created even More Hatreds, towards the Country, but even more Damaging, towards Us the Citizens Of!

Sweeney Todd and cannibalistic Capitalism

There’s a hole in the world like a great black pit

And it’s filled with people who are filled with shit

And the vermin of the world inhabit it.

But not for long.

This past week I had the great luck to attend an advance screening of Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd, now the third (and a half) major incarnation of Sondheim’s 1979 musical, based on a 19th century pulp slasher.  Sweeney is the greatest of all musicals, combining sophisticated music and well-written characters in an almost impenetrably dark moral fog.  

What’s most interesting from our perspective is the way Sweeney Todd grapples with the problem of capitalism, an issue foregrounded in the classic Broadway staging and to some extent in the new film version.  Let’s take a closer look at a few moments that emphasize this critique.

Note: This essay contains spoilers, and plenty of them.  If you don’t want to know what happens in the musical/film, stop reading now.  

Economic Anthropology, Capitalism’s End, and an Ecological Solution

This is a literary essay examining the question: “Why do people do what they do?” in an economic context.  Its starting point is the three-fold explanation given in Wilk and Cliggett’s new text of economic anthropology, Economies and Cultures: people do what they do because 1) of economic self-interest, 2) for the sake of other people, or 3) with moral/ ethical motives in mind.  I use that framework as a starting point to examine what sort of economic motives would be best in light of the ecological crises of the present, and of the advanced state of capitalism and of “capitalist discipline” as it has shaped our society.

(crossposted at Big Orange)

Sweet Intentions and a Faustian Bargain: Capitalism 3.0

This is a review of Peter Barnes’ book Capitalism 3.0; Barnes, an eco-entrepreneur from the flowing meadows of northern California (where I got my Master’s degree), still “believes in” capitalism, but offers a number of ideas worthy of consideration to non-capitalists as well, as well as a fairly sketchy version of capitalist history and a theory of the commons that, though sloppy on the details, is worthy of consideration.  Barnes’ book can be regarded as an especially ethical example of a current vogue in thinking: eco-capitalism, and it will here be both praised and critiqued as such.

(Crossposted at Big Orange)

Sustainability and Prefiguration in a Couple of Acres: The Pomona College Natural Farm

This is a revision of an earlier essay I published on DailyKos.com, in preparation for its republication in the Environmental Analysis journal (and perhaps elsewhere).  Its major premise is as follows:

Sustainability is nowhere to be found, and so we appear to be groping in the dark when looking for it.  One of the ways in which we can proceed to build knowledge about sustainability, however, is in the community garden.  A conceptual guide to the idea of sustainability is located in the concept of prefiguration (as described by Joel Kovel in his book The Enemy of Nature), which describes the sense in which social institutions point to the possibility of a global, ecologically sustainable, society.  Community gardens have important prefigurative qualities, too.  The bulk of this diary, then, will be about one such community garden, one located on the campus of a college: the Pomona College Natural Farm.  The Pomona College Natural Farm will be presented as a place where sustainability, both in social and ecological terms, can be studied.  Its conclusion will attempt to speculate about the significance of the Farm and of community gardens as “prefigurations.”

The neoliberalism-shock therapy connection: Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine

This is a review of Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine, a detailed, journalistic history of neoliberalism which emphasizes its connection to “shock therapy,” torture, and other means of tearing down people and society so that they can be rebuilt along the lines of “perfect,” ideological models.  My review differs from others in that it focuses upon a sequential review of important themes and close analysis of key quotes within the book.

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