Cameron, Corbyn, The City and Steampunk
March 20, 2016 3:07 AM   Subscribe

Despair Fatigue - How hopelessness grew boring. The big lie of austerity, how the crushing of the working classes was commodified, the rise of Corbofuturism and how it might shape a radical 21st century.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (45 comments total) 58 users marked this as a favorite
 
Great article - wish outlets like the New Statesman were publishing thoughtful analysis like this rather than kneejerk anti-Corbyn hysteria
posted by brilliantmistake at 4:30 AM on March 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Fully Automated Luxury Communism is an awesome acronym. I almost don't want to google further because the daft generous possibilities of the phrase are so good.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 5:36 AM on March 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


Very interesting to hear Graeber's thoughts on this. I wonder what he makes of the resignation of IDS. I can't quite believe it's happening, but I can see a chain of events unfolding this year which leaves Labour looking like the united front with a viable economic plan and the Tories looking like a bunch of infighting ideologues who belong in the past. I wouldn't have believed it this time last year, or even six months back, but that's just how fast things are changing right now. There's definitely a major shift underway, but it's anyone's guess where it will all end up. I mean, I can just as easily imagine a situation where we vote to leave the EU and Scotland votes to leave the UK and England becomes Tory forever.

One thing that is becoming apparent is that the right-wing media (and the fearful deference of the BBC) doesn't have the power to influence opinion like it used to, particularly among the young. Whereas, if their Facebook feeds are anything like mine, they are full of image macros slamming austerity and powerful speeches by young people like Mhairi Black.

Interesting times.
posted by Acey at 5:42 AM on March 20, 2016 [17 favorites]


Having moved to Scotland, it's rather disconcerting to be in a political environment where people are engaged, positive and creative - and there's a sane party enjoying massive popularity and displaying considerable competence. Still fucking up some things and don't even talk about local politics, but by and large it's nae bad.

We'll need all of the above if the fecking Tories screw the pooch over Europe, but if you ever did want to be in a place where you could discuss FALC (and I'm in love with that phrase too, oh yes), this is it. I mean, there are still functioning Marxists at large up here.
posted by Devonian at 6:03 AM on March 20, 2016 [11 favorites]


Well, the Scots did invent political economy, after all.

Around the same time that they invented whisky if I recall correctly.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:11 AM on March 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


It is interesting that the writer fetishizes the working class but then goes on to talk about the future political possibilities of Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour. There's no good evidence to suggest that the working class strongly support Jeremy Corbyn. Indeed, the most recent polls I've seen suggest that they're stronger supporters of Labour than of Corbyn. It strikes me as yet another political commenter making the basic assumption that working class folk are more left wing than they actually are.
posted by Emma May Smith at 6:23 AM on March 20, 2016 [8 favorites]


BULLSHIT JOBS - David Graeber

He can't afford a house (in London).
posted by bukvich at 6:27 AM on March 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


There's no good evidence to suggest that the working class strongly support Jeremy Corbyn.

Jeremy Corbyn's supporters are more working class than other candidates’, research finds:
Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters tend to be more working class and have lower incomes than the supporters of other candidates for the Labour leadership, according to new research.

Polling conducted by YouGov found that across a series of indicators the frontrunner’s support came from lower income groups, while his opponents and critics tended to be richer and more upper middle class.

Only 26 per cent of Mr Corbyn’s supporters have a household income over £40k a year, compared to 44 per cent for the Blairite candidate Liz Kendall.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 6:38 AM on March 20, 2016 [14 favorites]


Jeremy Corbyn's supporters are more working class than other candidates’, research finds:

A recent poll of Labour members (PDF) found that approval of Corbyn was 71% in ABC1 groups and 76% in C2DE groups. Not a substantial difference. Nor, indeed, is the 42% of ABC1 who would vote for Corbyn in a new leadership election that much different from the 46% C2DE who would vote for him.

I don't set much value by what members of a political party think, as opposed to voters themselves, but even within the Labour party Corbyn's support is not noticeably working class.
posted by Emma May Smith at 7:09 AM on March 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


"One reason this could happen is that there’s been virtually no public debate on austerity itself. At no point, for example, did a major TV news outlet host a panel of economists discussing whether public debt was really the cause of the economic crisis, or debating whether European-style austerity or Obama-style fiscal stimulus would be a more appropriate response."

I'm not sure why David Graeber thinks that a "panel of economists" debating on a "major TV news outlet" would have made an iota of difference in public opinion toward Cameron, Osborne, or austerity politics.
posted by blucevalo at 7:22 AM on March 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


There's no good evidence to suggest that the working class strongly support Jeremy Corbyn.

Anecdotal evidence but here in Birmingham, a long way from Corbynista HQ in Islington, there's plenty of Jezza support. When Liz Kendall came up here for her one visit during the leadership campaign she answered questions in a pub from suits, Corbyn was in a packed conference hall talking to frontline NHS workers on zero hours contracts.

I'm not sure who the mythical Blairite candidate that would fire up the lowly working classes would be, the Labour party has done a very efficient job hollowing out all its traditional support across the country over the last decade.
posted by brilliantmistake at 7:25 AM on March 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


dorothyisunderwood: I wasn't able to resist googling FALC, so here's what I found:

Guardian article from 2015 by Brian Merchant:
“There is a tendency in capitalism to automate labor, to turn things previously done by humans into automated functions,” says Aaron Bastani, co-founder of Novara Media. “In recognition of that, then the only utopian demand can be for the full automation of everything and common ownership of that which is automated.”

Bastani and fellow luxury communists believe that this era of rapid change is an opportunity to realise a post-work society, where machines do the heavy lifting not for profit but for the people.

“The demand would be a 10- or 12-hour working week, a guaranteed social wage, universally guaranteed housing, education, healthcare and so on,” he says. “There may be some work that will still need to be done by humans, like quality control, but it would be minimal.” Humanity would get its cybernetic meadow, tended to by machines of loving grace.
Fully automated luxury communism: a utopian critique:
It is here that I think that fully automated luxury communism, by putting too much faith in capitalist technology overcoming scarcity and the need for labour, fails to imagine a more general transformation of social relations. To avoid this tendency, and to encourage thinking about the overcoming of the paradoxes and miseries of capitalism, we need to seriously engage in utopian experimentation in future possibilities.
One hour podcast about the concept by Aaron Bastani, Ash Sarkar and James Butler. I haven't listened to it because I really feel this sort of stuff needs to be written down to be properly digested, and I'm a little miffed that Bastani hasn't done that.

I'm also fascinated by how Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy and Iain Banks' Culture novels, and presumably Ken Macleod's work, have directly inspired these thinkers. Great to see sci-fi still having the power to manipulate the world.
posted by adrianhon at 7:37 AM on March 20, 2016 [16 favorites]


Graeber's article is hardly an unqualified endorsement of Corbyn. He admits that Corbyn lacks 'any specific ideology or agenda', although he tries hard to put a positive spin on this:
The very fact that Corbyn is something of a tabula rasa has inspired an onrush of contesting visions, an eager concatenation of new economic and political models vying for attention, which has begun to reveal just how rich and diverse possible left-wing visions of the future might actually be.
Another way of putting this is that the Labour Party under Corbyn is intellectually rudderless, lacks any sense of direction, and is at risk of takeover by any faction, whether centre-left or far-left, that can gather enough support to seize control.

Graeber does at least admit, if only in a single sentence, that this could be a recipe for disaster:
It’s still all very much up for grabs, and the whole project might well shipwreck terribly, leaving the left utterly defeated for many years to come.
Quite so. And what's the alternative? The best that Graeber can hope for is that Corbyn clings on to the Labour leadership for a few more years 'until the inevitable crash takes place' and power drops into his lap. That this is Graeber's best-case scenario tells you all you need to know about the dismal state of the Labour Party.
posted by verstegan at 8:03 AM on March 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Graeber's article seems to hope for a further financial crisis precipitated by the bursting of the property bubble, but even that seems to hinge on Corbyn Labour pinning the blame for that on the Tories. That it a big double-if to propel Corbyn to power.

I would love to see something like FALC (or even just a UBI) put into practice, but I just don't see how Labour is making the case for that, or how it builds that case in a serious way. Am I just thinking about it the wrong way to expect that to come via the mainstream media route? If not though, how do you change the narrative amongst the majority of people who don't pick these ideas up from social media?

Maybe BaggyMP can comment?
posted by crocomancer at 8:08 AM on March 20, 2016


Another way of putting this is that the Labour Party under Corbyn is intellectually rudderless, lacks any sense of direction, and is at risk of takeover by any faction, whether centre-left or far-left, that can gather enough support to seize control.

Corbyn isn't the problem on this point, but rather the utter intellectual vacuum of Blairism and its successors. Corbyn didn't make the party intellectually rudderless, he's just trying to steer it with an oar while fending off constant attempts at mutiny with the other hand.
posted by howfar at 8:11 AM on March 20, 2016 [9 favorites]


The Tories hatred of the working class and anyone who is poor or on the sick is so blatant it is amazing there aren't riots, but then, we, the poor, have been pacified by being made to work til we drop for fuck all pay.

The BBC is just the governments propaganda arm these days. It is full of "we must stay in the EU" and support for government policies, it hardly ever questions anything they do, no matter how nasty it is.

IDS resigning is interesting. This is a man who has made life on the "rock and roll" tough as fuck, and he resigns over disability cuts? Wow, I didn't even think he had a heart.

Osbourne - Christ I hate this guy. He cuts and cuts and doesn't care who he hurts. Did you know his company hasn't paid any tax since 2008, and got a rebate in recent years despite making a profit? And that his brother is a shrink who has been struck off after having an affair with a patient? Seems nastyness runs in the family where they are concerned.

The working class has been under attack for a long time now, even Blair hated us, and did whatever he could to fuck us over. Everything that has been done seems to have been done to ensure the wealth stays at the top and we stay at the bottom. There is no way out now, for working class people, we have gone back to Victorian ways, with an elite and masses of poor people with no future. Homelessness is on the increase, personal debt has gone up, people struggle to eat and pay for over-priced gas and electric. Council tax continues to rise despite massive cuts to services. We are well and truly fucked.

The NHS is being privatised bit by bit, and now all schools are to be made into academies, and hence come outside LEA control, and then taken over by private companies, and hence, privatised. Seriously, what can Labour do about any of this?

Everything is being sold, fucking everything. The Royal Mail (at a loss to taxpayers), the oil pipeline, even things like the Ordinance Survey are gonna be sold off. There will be so little state soon, it will all be ran by corporations, which can then be taken over by US corporations under TTIP, and we will be truly fucked for ever then.
posted by marienbad at 8:35 AM on March 20, 2016 [19 favorites]


I'm also fascinated by how Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy and Iain Banks' Culture novels, and presumably Ken Macleod's work, have directly inspired these thinkers. Great to see sci-fi still having the power to manipulate the world.

Sam Delaney's 'Stars in My Pocket...' also had a really interesting approach to division of labor in an affluent utopian society. Adult citizens were expected to move between various part-time jobs, presumably including elements of civic duty, physical activity, creative arts, research/education, plain old making moneys, etc. Something utopian like this maybe could work together with a basic income plan.
posted by ovvl at 8:46 AM on March 20, 2016 [2 favorites]




From the article: Basically no one in Scotland votes Tory.

Well, even in 2015 the Conservatives polled 15%: quite a decline from the 1950s, when they were occasionally the largest party and a further steep decline from more recent elections, but 15% is still a lot more than no-one. First past the post means that it might as well be no-one, but one of the big, unanswered questions of Scottish politics is where do Scottish conservatives go from here, particularly if the electoral system changes.
posted by GeorgeBickham at 8:54 AM on March 20, 2016


In the Corbofuture, NHS-provided homeopathy achieves 150 year life expectancies.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 8:58 AM on March 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Amends listing for Scottish Tory party to "mostly harmless".
posted by Artw at 8:59 AM on March 20, 2016 [10 favorites]


it's entirely typical of Graeber to extol utopian thinking in the moment when the left desperately needs to be able to say what the first concrete step needs to be, not some grad student idea of the end point.

it's telling that KSR, Ken Macleod, and Banks are all basically libertarian in outlook (MacLeod latest books are about big guvmint oppressing smokers) and, it's not quite clear that Graeber understands how utterly reactionary "steampunk" is.
posted by ennui.bz at 9:42 AM on March 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


"There may be some work that will still need to be done by humans, like quality control, but it would be minimal."

. . .

https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=3QkT

blue is the per-capita trade deficit in goods for UK, vs red for US.
£1600/yr per capita is about the same as our $2200/yr per capita inflow of free stuff.

it's easy hand-waving mfg jobs away when you're running a colossal trade deficit

At any rate the service sector is 84% of the US economy (by # of jobs) and while trucking and anything transportation related is going to go away via automation RSN that's just going to make more people unemployable here (the service sector ex transportation doesn't seem to have a lot of growth in it either).

We could still have a high standard of living if we could just figure out how to cut the cost of living in housing by 50-80% what it is now. Hint: the lot my parents' house is on now costs much more than the purchase price of the new house + lot when they bought it.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 10:06 AM on March 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


it's telling that KSR, Ken Macleod, and Banks are all basically libertarian in outlook

Not, it should be noted, in any sense that makes sense mapped onto what is usually called Libertarianism here.
posted by Artw at 10:42 AM on March 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


Well, maybe MacKleod. I've always found it hard to judge how much he's taking the piss with some of his stuff.
posted by Artw at 10:44 AM on March 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Simon Wren-Lewis: Understanding the Austerity Obsession
The diagnosis in the case of the Republican party in the US is reasonably clear... The main economic goal is to cut taxes, particularly for the very rich. That requires, sooner or later, less public spending. What about evidence that more public investment would help everyone? ... This group suffers from the delusion that the only way to help the economy is to tax the rich less and starve the beast that is the state... infect[ion] by the neoliberal ideology virus...

Germany... is much more difficult to diagnose... Swabian syndrome:* a belief that the economy is just like a household, and the imperative is to balance the books. This seems like a case of labelling rather than explaining a disease. There may be an allergy involved: an aversion to Keynesian economics, and anything that sounds vaguely Keynesian. But the microeconomic case for additional public investment in Germany is also strong... the German public capital stock has been shrinking for over a decade... The nature of the illness in Germany is therefore more of a mystery...

The Conservative Party in the UK also seem to have the symptoms associated with Swabian syndrome... Some... argue that in reality the party are feigning the symptoms as a means of winning elections, while still others claim that tests have revealed clear traces of the ideology virus. What has become clear is that the traditional way of treating the austerity obsession, which involves occasional counselling with well trained economists, is having little effect. We also now know that the financial crisis shock treatment only makes the neoliberal virus more virulent. Extended therapy is the only known cure for this virus. As for Swabian syndrome, our best hope may be that the public gradually develop an immunity to the disease as its consequences become clear.
Joseph Stiglitz: The New Generation Gap - "The sense of social injustice – that the economic game is rigged – is enhanced as they see the bankers who brought on the financial crisis, the cause of the economy's continuing malaise, walk away with mega-bonuses, with almost no one being held accountable for their wrongdoing. Massive fraud was committed, but somehow, no one actually perpetrated it. Political elites promised that 'reforms' would bring unprecedented prosperity. And they did, but only for the top 1%. Everyone else, including the young, got unprecedented insecurity."

Kenneth Arrow: There Is Regulatory Capture, But It Is By No Means Complete - "A Nobel laureate on why we should have Canadian style single payer health care."*
I don’t consider myself an expert on the financial industry, but the fact that the financial industry is responsible for something like 30 percent of all profits seems rather remarkable. I am startled by the size of the financial industry and what it means. I can’t believe this is really needed for the allocation of resources. A lot of it is going to be rent-seeking. It creates a diversion of resources, especially human capital, and not only does it create problems for the legitimacy of income distribution, but that also means resources diverted for this purpose [rent-seeking] can’t be used elsewhere.
The role of the Bank of England is crucial here.

Adair Turner: Are Central Banks Really Out of Ammunition? - "[I]f our problem is inadequate nominal demand, there is one policy that will always work. If governments run larger fiscal deficits and finance this not with interest-bearing debt but with central-bank money... The option of so-called 'helicopter money' is therefore increasingly discussed. But the debate about it is riddled with confusions."

Stanley Fischer: Reflections on Macroeconomics Then and Now - "Does [Keynes' General Theory] remain relevant? Certainly. Just a week ago I took it off the bookshelf to read parts of chapter 23, 'Notes on Mercantilism, the Usury Laws, Stamped Money and Theories of Under-Consumption'. Today that chapter would be headed 'Protectionism, the Zero Lower Bound, and Secular Stagnation', with the importance of usury laws having diminished since 1936."

Simon Wren-Lewis: The 'Strong Case' Against Central Bank Independence Critically Examined - "The deficit obsession that governments have shown since 2010 has helped produce a recovery that has been far too slow, even in the US. It would be nice if we could treat that obsession as some kind of aberration, never to be repeated, but unfortunately that looks way too optimistic. The Zero Lower Bound (ZLB) raises an acute problem for what I call the consensus assignment (leaving macroeconomic stabilisation to an independent, inflation targeting central bank), but add in austerity and you get major macroeconomic costs. ICBs appear to rule out the one policy (money financed fiscal expansion) that could combat both the ZLB and deficit obsession... does that mean we have to be satisfied with the workarounds? One possibility that a few economists like Miles Kimball have argued for is to effectively abolish paper money as we know it, so central banks can set negative interest rates. Another possibility is that the government (in its saner moments) gives ICBs the power to undertake helicopter money. Both are complete solutions to the ZLB problem rather than workarounds."

notably, negative interest rates and/or helicopter drops would be much easier to implement with electronic money: like taler! (helped brought to you by [mefi's own:] jeffburdges! ;) with the beneficial side effect of lancing the boil of what has become a bloated financial 'industry', which would of course come with much wailing and gnashing of teeth :P

Central banks beat Bitcoin at own game with rival supercurrency
Computer scientists have devised a digital crypto-currency in league with the Bank of England that could pose a devastating threat to large tranches of the financial industry, and profoundly change the management of monetary policy.

The proto-currency known as RSCoin has vastly greater scope than Bitcoin, used for peer-to-peer transactions by libertarians across the world, and beyond the control of any political authority.

The purpose would be turned upside down. RSCoin would be a tool of state control, allowing the central bank to keep a tight grip on the money supply and respond to crises. It would erode the exorbitant privilege of commercial banks of creating money out of thin air under a fractional reserve financial system.
but it looks like weak sauce...
A Bitcoin-Style Currency for Central Banks
RSCoin’s ledger is solely in the hands of the central bank, which would also retain a special encryption key that could be used to control the money supply—for example, to take actions like the quantitative easing programs the Federal Reserve and other central banks put in place after the 2008 financial crisis.

A small collection of third-party organizations would be chosen by the central bank to process new transactions and submit them for inclusion in the central ledger. Meiklejohn says it would make sense for large commercial banks to play that role. RSCoin’s centralized design, she says, means it can handle very large numbers of transactions, unlike Bitcoin.
to rectify that, check out...
Simon Johnson: The Financial System of the Future - "In this context, two relatively new interrelated ideas hold considerable appeal: that central banks should issue their own digital currency; and that financial transactions more broadly could be recorded on a decentralized ledger."

who strongly echoes...
Martin Sandbu: Time for a digital government mint - "The general idea is for the Bank of England (or other central banks; the ideas are general) to offer deposit accounts directly to the public, or alternatively, for private banks to offer accounts fully backed by central bank reserves. The authors go through the mechanics of how this would work, and address the main objections. We only discuss the most important of these here (but do read the whole report), which is that the system may work too well."

it should also be noted, and has been by the likes of Narayana Kocherlakota, that all this emphasis on monetary policy is the result of a "terrible policy failure by fiscal policymakers..."

Bradford DeLong: Social credit is the answer - "The solution is obvious: Social Credit. Adopt the policies of the Social Credit Party of Alberta in the 1930s. Adopt the policies of Upton Sinclair's campaign for Governor of California in the 1930s. Adopt the policies that are taken as a matter of course and are in the background of Robert A. Heinlein's 1947 novel Beyond This Horizon."
  1. Incorporate–for free–everybody with a Social Security number as a bank holding company.
  2. Let everybody then have their personal bank holding company join–again for free–the Federal Reserve system as a member bank.
  3. Offer every such personal bank holding company a permanent long-term open-ended infinite-duration zero-interest line-of-credit to draw on, up to some set maximum nominal amount.
  4. Raise the amount of the line-of-credit maximum every quarter by that quarter's desired helicopter drop.
Barry Eichengreen: Confronting the Fiscal Bogeyman - "The solution is straightforward. It is to fix the problem of deficient demand not by attempting to further loosen monetary conditions, but by boosting public spending... in research, education, and infrastructure... Such investments cost little, given low interest rates. Productive public investment would also enhance the returns on private investment... Ideological and political prejudices deeply rooted in history will have to be overcome to end the current stagnation. If an extended period of depressed growth following a crisis isn't the right moment to challenge them, then when is?"

Dani Rodrik: The Politics of Anger - "Mainstream politicians will not regain lost ground until they, too, offer serious solutions that provide room for hope. They should no longer hide behind technology or unstoppable globalization, and they must be willing to be bold and entertain large-scale reforms in the way the domestic and global economy are run... It was the New Deal, the welfare state, and controlled globalization (under the Bretton Woods regime) that eventually gave market-oriented societies a new lease on life and produced the post-war boom. It was not tinkering and minor modification of existing policies that produced these achievements, but radical institutional engineering."

more delong...
Ordoliberalismus and Ordovolkismus - "While Austerian fear and suspicion of countercyclical monetary policy is rooted in the same Ordoliberal and Ordovolkist ideological fever swamps as objections to countercyclical fiscal policy, it is much weaker. It is much weaker because fundamentalist cries for an automatic monetary system—whether based on a gold standard, a k%/year percent growth rule, or John Taylor's interest-rate rule—have crashed and burned so spectacularly so many times that they lack even the barest surface plausibility... Thus one way around the Ordoliberal and Ordovolkist ideological blockages is to redefine a sufficient quantum of countercyclical fiscal policy as monetary policy. I call this 'social credit'. Others call it 'helicopter money'. Move the central bank's seigniorage revenue stream outside of the government's consolidated budget. Assign the disposition of this revenue stream to the central bank. It is not first-best. It may be good enough to do the job."

FDR's New Deal was the antithesis of ideology - "FDR tried everything: Corporatism, Keynesianism, Agricultural subsidies, Antitrust, Social insurance, Unionism, and he reinforced what seemed to work. The New Deal policies that survived became an ideology, but they started out as the most ruthless pragmatism."

It’s not just the predictable arrival of the economic luminaries to hold court with the new shadow chancellor—everyone from Joseph Stiglitz and Ann Pettifor, to Yanis Varoufakis and Thomas Piketty. Genuinely radical ideas are being debated and proposed. Should the left be pursuing accelerationism, pushing the contradictions of capitalism forward with rapid growth and development, or should it aim toward a total shift of values and radical de-growth? Or should we be moving toward what Novara, the media initiative that emerged from the 2010 student movement, began cheerfully referring to as FALC—or Fully Automated Luxury Communism—encouraging technologies like 3-D printing to aim for a world of Star Trek–style replicators where everything is free? Should the central bank enact “quantitative easing for the people,” or a universal citizen’s income policy, or should we go the way of Modern Money Theory and universal jobs guarantees?

fwiw, i've found the UK green party and paul mason to be helpful guides :P (and i'm eagerly anticipating new books by cathy o'neil and albert wenger!)
posted by kliuless at 10:49 AM on March 20, 2016 [40 favorites]


I was sore disappointed to not surface any lovely FALC tee shirts on a casual Google.

My oldest and closest actual Communist friend, now dead about 30 years, would have been soooooo into this concept.
posted by mwhybark at 11:00 AM on March 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


A bit of work, which really ought to have been done for me by the robot apparatus of the people, surfaced this, but I have to say it doesn't really count.

At the very least I was hoping for a riff on the old Coca-Cola-logo inspired Euro-Communism tee. I suppose I'll just have to make it myself, weekly labor allocation budget be damned!

(Also, this post and thread are awesome! Thank you!)
posted by mwhybark at 11:06 AM on March 20, 2016


Fully Automated Luxury Communism is a phrase I never even imagined, but now just keep repeating to myself in secret glee.

Also holy shit kliuless, that comment was a post in itself.
posted by emjaybee at 11:54 AM on March 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


logo and shirt.
posted by mwhybark at 11:58 AM on March 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Came for the Despair Fatigue, staying for the Fully Automated Luxury Capitalism! What a world!
posted by maggiemaggie at 12:06 PM on March 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


“There may be some work that will still need to be done by humans, like quality control, but it would be minimal.”

That's basically going to require Star-Trek style replicators, and very high level AI. As in, this is a Science Fiction plot, not anything that's going to be remotely feasible in our lifetimes.

If this is a serious proposal, then the Left in England is in serious trouble.
posted by happyroach at 12:13 PM on March 20, 2016


Not for nothing man, but the Left in Everywhere is in trouble.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 12:21 PM on March 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


We don't have to be the Culture to build FALC. It's something could be built to, one step at a time.

People are so wrapped up in whether or not a particular principle or school of thought is presently attainable that they lose sight of its value as something to work toward.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:42 PM on March 20, 2016 [9 favorites]


I think part of the problem with establishing FALC at this stage in capitalism is that primary resource extraction/agriculture at slavery or near-slavery labor conditions is still far cheaper in the short term than the initial costs of establishing automated processes for the production the same materials; and there is, at present, no incentive for the owners of capital to do otherwise.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:03 PM on March 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


Fully Automated Luxury Capitalism

That would be when we think things are being done by machines but in fact they're done by slaves. Basically what we've got now.
posted by Grangousier at 3:43 PM on March 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


Banks' Culture books have always struck me as an inadvertent satire of communism, since they need to postulate an inexhaustible supply of resources and a class of infinitely wise and benevolent god machines to make our decisions for us.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:43 PM on March 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


One thing in this is that, despite kluiless' fantastic post, non of that is going to happen, as the rich and powerful don't want it to happen. Further, they own the media, so decide what the discourse is, and it is never going to go towards those ideas.

In the UK we are building stuff but it's all done with the insidious PF2, sucessor and the same as PFI. One of the problems we currently have is that the companies that built schools and hospitals under PFI were allowed to sell the PFI on the secondary PFI market. So now the schools and hospitals are owned by finance companies. So when you hear about hospitals being in the red, it is partly because they are paying huge amounts of money to financial companies who are giving it to the rich. Its like a sort of inverse wealth-redistribution. Such a clever and vicious scam, and the poor are paying for this, and will do for years, decades even.

You don't read about this in the papers, or on the BBC.
posted by marienbad at 3:59 PM on March 20, 2016 [9 favorites]


In a political field so corrupt that it often seems the moral spectrum for public figures runs roughly from calculating cynic to actual child molester, the idea that a genuinely honest man could successfully run for public office was a kind of revelation.

This part I like.
posted by bukvich at 4:30 PM on March 20, 2016


snipped from a conversation I just had with someone in the field about healthcare costs - we have simultaneously, worries about increasingly limited employment opportunities for less educated workers here and a desperate need for basic eldercare workers or any kind of care workers.

The current clever strategy is to recruit volunteers from housewives and retirees to provide 'free' respite care for the ill elderly and hiring foreign domestic labourers for the rest, rather than use some of the (hugely wealthy) government tax money to fund better wages for healthcare workers so that less educated workers might opt for those emotionally and physically gruelling jobs at a wage that can decently support their families above.

We don't have enough for everyone to live lavishly, but we have more than enough for everyone to live better.

It's a zero sum game to the rich though.

I love the lines about the dole making rock n' roll instead of stacking tins at a Tesco - time to dream is not time spent foolishly at all. It's the whole point.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 9:14 PM on March 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


Paul Mason's keynote speech to the Adam Smith Institute yesterday. Mason thinks collaborative non-profit production will become increasingly important, and countries that support this through universal basic income will prosper. There are some typos but it is clear and accessible.
posted by communicator at 11:19 PM on March 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


“A World Without Work — World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2016”Global Agenda, NHK, 11 March 2016
In the not-so-distant future, robots, artificial intelligence programs and other technologies are expected to do more and more of the work currently performed by humans. Will this create harmful rises in unemployment and inequality? Or will it grant people greater freedom than ever? In January, a panel at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos focused on this issue. Economists, finance ministers, and CEOs discussed the future of work, and how it will affect everything from the way we educate our children to the very structure of our societies.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:55 AM on March 21, 2016


Paul Mason's keynote speech to the Adam Smith Institute yesterday

Worth noting that's actually the Adam Smith Business School at Glasgow University, not the hard right thinktank the Adam Smith Institute.
posted by howfar at 8:26 AM on March 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


This "sometimes interesting discussion" is linked by the man himself here:
posted by debord at 9:08 AM on March 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


the rich and powerful don't want it to happen

what if everyone went on strike?

point being that it's up to us! i know, right? we're the 'losers', but 'we' outnumber 'them' and it's not about 'winning' anyway, but changing the (rigged) game :P

here's robert reich on cynicism: "They want to sow even greater cynicism about the capacity of government to do much of anything."

pierre bourdieu on the perception of elite inevitability: "Since this elite has an interest in preserving the status quo, it also has every incentive to reinforce cultural maps, rules, and taxonomies. Or, to put it another way, an elite stays in power over time not just by controlling resources, or what Bourdieu described as 'economic capital' (money), but also by amassing 'cultural capital' (symbols associated with power). When they amass this cultural capital, this helps to make the status of the elite seem natural and inevitable."

and here's john baez on denial and despair: "denying there's a problem and despairing that there's a solution have similar consequences: namely, inaction... I think it's crucial, when we tell someone about a big problem, that we also tell them something they can do about it. Maybe not something that will solve it, but something that will ameliorate it. Otherwise they may lapse into denial or despair. Purely individual goals are not enough to be satisfying. National goals are a bit too big for most of us. Maybe a city is the right size."

speaking of which, Heywood Mogroot III has been hammering on the lack of affordable housing as a major source of inequality...

The elephant in the economics room is housing, and real estate in general... We need to create much more housing stock in this country. We should be throwing hundreds of billions a year of public funds at that, not just the crappy Section 8 rent-subsidy programs we have.

check out this map, where: 'Half of all Americans live in the red counties, half live in the orange counties'. now let's see the US Map Re-sized Based on Local GDP Contributions and then a property value animation showing 'Bay Area Counties [et al.] Swallowing U.S. Map'. this is to a large approximation the political economy of america (notably with net gov't transfers going to politically more 'conservative' areas...)

now, VC's are pitching Dorms for Grown Ups (Michele in California should get a cut! or permanent residence ;) but what would it look like if the federal gov't was afraid of revolution and/or cared about a 'harmonious society'? see china; it looks like they're spending around $40bn/year in 'social housing' from what looks to me like a 'singapore model', which you wouldn't think would scale (and perhaps doesn't...) but applied per municipality has a chance, at least.

it's easy hand-waving mfg jobs away when you're running a colossal trade deficit

sandbu addressed this the other day...
Manufacturing didn't leave; it left workers behind - "The enclosure of the rich world's industrial commons"
The data both on the restructuring of industry and on inequality suggest the following uncomfortable reading: the overarching reason for the changes since the 1970s is the diminished willingness of highly productive workers to cross-subsidise the less productive ones. That also means those changes are not the ineluctable product of blind economic forces, but to some degree are amenable to policy — though other policies are only possible if cross-subsidisation again becomes more tolerated by those same high-earning workers. With little sign of that, we should perhaps not be too shocked at the anger that fuels Trumpism.
and there's been a lot of other back and forth over trade the last few days...
-The conflict between globalisation and democracy is exaggerated
-More on the political trilemma of the global economy
-Autor on EconTalk [1,2,3,4,5]
-The Benefits of Free Trade: Time to Fly My Neoliberal Freak Flag High!* with the bottom line still being...
"as Mark Kleiman sagely observes, the conventional case for trade liberalization relies on the assertion that the government could redistribute income to ensure that everyone wins—but we now have an ideology utterly opposed to such redistribution in full control of one party... So the elite case for ever-freer trade is largely a scam, which voters probably sense even if they don’t know exactly what form it’s taking..."
-Monday DeLong Smackdown Watch: Paul Krugman--Are the Principal Benefits from Globalization to Be Found in "Technology" Diffusion
-A Fundamental Shift in the Nature of Trade Agreements
-Understanding balance of payments crises in a fiat currency system
FX reserve outflows in a fixed exchange rate system can result in a balance of payments crisis. Because central banks can't print foreign currencies or gold, a country running a persistent trade deficit can literally run out of money. The IMF's original role was to provide emergency funding to countries facing such a disaster and help them implement policies to restore the trade balance...

In a fiat currency system with floating exchange rates... All the central bank needs to do is create (or destroy) the amount of money needed to maintain a target inflation level and allow the external value of the currency to adjust. The external balance is not directly linked to growth or inflation, and trade deficits do not cause crises... Central banks can create unlimited quantities of their own currency: if the currency is flowing out of the country via a trade deficit or capital flight, the central bank can simply create more of it.
that of course comes with some caveats addressed by coppola in her post, but if we're debating trade, jobs, global migration and financial flows, if that's all on the table, so should capital mobility: "Unreported financial assets may amount to $6tn-$7tn worldwide and reflect trillions in taxes evaded."

no wonder: Most Americans Say Government Doesn't Do Enough to Help Middle Class - "GOP seen as favoring the rich over middle class, poor; mixed views on which class the Democratic Party favors"

so where does that leave us? Also holy shit kliuless, that comment was a post in itself.

it (mostly) was :P
posted by kliuless at 11:55 AM on March 21, 2016 [9 favorites]


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