Chen Mingyuan has lived here all his life, but he still gets lost every time he drives into Wenzhou. “All the roads in this town were built by businessmen, so none of them make any sense,” Chen says as we back out of what we just discovered is a one-way street. For the last 30 years, private citizens in this southeastern China metropolis have largely taken over one of the least questioned prerogatives of governments the world over: infrastructure. Is Wenzhou, the richest city in China's richest province, a libertarian paradise?
posted by shivohum
on Jul 20, 2013 -
Plagued by the realities threatening many retail stores, Sears also faces a unique problem (alternate link): [CEO Eddie] Lampert. Lampert runs Sears like a hedge fund portfolio, with dozens of autonomous businesses competing for his attention and money. An outspoken advocate of free-market economics and fan of the novelist Ayn Rand, he created the model because he expected the invisible hand of the market to drive better results. If the company’s leaders were told to act selfishly, he argued, they would run their divisions in a rational manner, boosting overall performance.
posted by Horace Rumpole
on Jul 12, 2013 -
The Locust Economy
I was picking the brain of a restauranteur for insight into things like Groupon. He confirmed what we all understand in the abstract: that these deals are terrible for the businesses that offer them; that they draw in nomadic deal hunters from a vast surrounding region who are unlikely to ever return; that most deal-hunters carefully ensure that they spend just the deal amount or slightly more; that a badly designed offer can bankrupt a small business.
He added one little factoid I did not know: offering a Groupon deal is by now so strongly associated with a desperate, dying restaurant that professional food critics tend to write off any restaurant that offers one without even trying it. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns
on Apr 11, 2013 -
Recent posts here
discuss a growing sense that climate change is going to be worse than we thought. A link to Charles Stross's musing on a future that included climate change was discussed on MeFi here
But Kim Stanley Robinson asks a slightly different question: If capitalism is the driver of climate change, what happens next
? What does post-capitalism
posted by BillW
on Apr 9, 2013 -
The Homosexual Atom Bomb
Such absurd equations show how homosexuality became a floating signifier, associated with whatever political tendency one most disliked. Rather than representing a certain group of people, it represented everything that was wrong—whatever that meant. America’s Red Scare bled into its Lavender Scare; the Soviets associated homosexuality with capitalism and fascism. But empty as it was, the political use of the trope of homosexuality had a devastating effect on real people from both countries.
"Homosexuality Is Stalin's Atom Bomb to Destroy America"
is on display at the Winkleman Gallery in NYC. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns
on Feb 28, 2013 -
Or, why is there still socialism in the United States?
Why, then, would we look for evidence of socialism only where a state seized by radicals of the Left inaugurates a dictatorship of the proletariat? Or, to lower the rhetorical volume and evidentiary stakes, why would we expect to find socialism only where avowed socialists or labor parties contend for state power? We should instead assume that socialism, like capitalism, is a cross-class cultural construction, to which even the bourgeoisie has already made significant contributions – just as the proletariat has long made significant contributions to the cross-class construction we know as capitalism. What follows?
posted by the man of twists and turns
on Feb 13, 2013 -
The inefficiency of it all ...
Here's a great infographic: slavery and cotton in the South in 1860. But if the map is interesting, the article is astonishing. It says only 2 percent of Deep South land produced cotton in 1860 -- and only 13 percent grew any crop at all. You better read that last sentence again.
posted by LonnieK
on Feb 6, 2013 -
"The lofty vision of a stateless, marketless world faces obstacles that are not moral but technical, and it’s important to grasp exactly what they are." Seth Ackerman for Jacobin Magazine
on "thinking concretely and practically about how we can free ourselves from social institutions that place such confining limits on the kind of society we are able to have. Because of one thing we can be certain: the present system will either be replaced or it will go on forever."
posted by davidjmcgee
on Jan 7, 2013 -
From the mid 40s to the mid 50s Coronet Instructional Films
were always ready to provide social guidance for teenagers on subjects as diverse as dating
, preparing for being drafted
, and shyness
, as well as to children on following the law
, the value of quietness in school
, and appreciating our parents
. They also provided education on topics such as the connection between attitudes and health
, what kind of people live in America
, how to keep a job
, supervising women workers
, the nature of capitalism
, and the plantation System in Southern life
. Inside is an annotated collection of all 86 of the complete Coronet films in the Prelinger Archives
as well as a few more. Its not like you had work to do or anything right? [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb
on Nov 1, 2012 -
In Praise of Leisure
- "Imagine a world in which most people worked only 15 hours a week. They would be paid as much as, or even more than, they now are, because the fruits of their labor would be distributed more evenly across society. Leisure would occupy far more of their waking hours than work. It was exactly this prospect that John Maynard Keynes conjured up in a little essay published in 1930 called 'Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren
.' Its thesis was simple. As technological progress made possible an increase in the output of goods per hour worked, people would have to work less and less to satisfy their needs, until in the end they would have to work hardly at all... He thought this condition might be reached in about 100 years — that is, by 2030." (via
) [more inside]
posted by kliuless
on Jun 22, 2012 -
Sure, the follies of art-speak are easy to laugh at, but often criticism of it begins and ends with a dismissive chuckle – which ignores profounder problems. Why should academic terminology be the default vehicle for discussing art? Why is there such an emphasis on newness, schism and radicality? Even when the art itself may be enjoyably throwaway, language pins it to deathlessly auratic registers of exchange. This suggests a subliminal fear that, if the subject in question is not talked up as Big and Culturally Significant, then the point of fussing over it in the first place might be called into question, bringing the whole house of cards tumbling down
- Dan Fox, the associate editor of frieze magazine, discusses the contemporary art scene in detail.
posted by The Whelk
on Apr 12, 2012 -
One thing the historical record makes abundantly clear is that Adam Smith and his laissez-faire buddies were a bunch of closet-case statists who needed brutal government policies to whip the English peasantry into a good capitalistic workforce willing to accept wage slavery.
Yasha Levine's detailed review
of historian Michael Perelman's The Invention of Capitalism
posted by clarknova
on Apr 7, 2012 -
The Incentive Bubble
) - "The fraying of the compact of American capitalism by rising income inequality and repeated governance crises is disturbing. But misallocations of financial, real, and human capital arising from the financial-incentive bubble are much more worrisome to those concerned with the competitiveness of the American economy." [more inside]
posted by kliuless
on Apr 3, 2012 -
Most of us reading on the blue lived through at least a portion of it. Forty-plus years of tension between the world's two superpowers and their allies. That's right: The Cold War.
Then, they made a documentary
. Aired on CNN in 1998, and never released on DVD,
the 24 episode, 20 hour series features tons of archival footage, along with many interviews with individuals directly involved at some of the highest levels.
You might not be able to see it on DVD, but you can watch the full series on Youtube, starting with Part 1: Comrades (1917-1945).
posted by symbioid
on Mar 27, 2012 -
" Thus in today’s China one confronts the paradox of a communist regime that is at ideological loggerheads with left-leaning intellectuals, but which finds pro-Western, liberal intellectuals on the whole quite congenial." Richard Wolin is Dreaming In Chinese...
posted by artof.mulata
on Mar 26, 2012 -
Adam Curtis on The legacy of the Colonels Coup
- "What is forgotten is that from 1967 to 1974 the Greek people lived under a harsh and violent dictatorship that tortured and murdered thousands of ordinary people. The Colonels also corrupted the society by handing out vast loans to individuals in towns and villages across the country - to buy their loyalty. At the same time the repression and torture bred a powerful resistance that finally burst out in incredible bravery in 1973." [more inside]
posted by marienbad
on Feb 29, 2012 -