The end of capitalism by Paul Mason, July 16, 2015, The Guardian
Without us noticing, we are entering the postcapitalist era. At the heart of further change to come is information technology, new ways of working and the sharing economy. The old ways will take a long while to disappear, but it’s time to be utopian
The information economy is an economy of abundance that puts in question the assumptions, myths, priorities and paradigms of the past quantitative economy of scarcity. www.openculture.com gives us 700 free movies, 700 free E-books and 450 audio books and indirectly challenges the hard-nosed culture of exploitation, enrichment and conspicious consumption. The 26 community centers in Vancouver B.C. are an antidote to hyper-individualistic, solipsistic culture that makes “free” and “shared” into tabood realities and shared and solidarity into intrusions.
Why should we not form a picture of the ideal life, built out of abundant information, non-hierarchical work and the dissociation of work from wages?
Millions of people are beginning to realize they have been sold a dream at odds with what reality can deliver. Their response is anger – and retreat towards national forms of capitalism that can only tear the world apart. Watching these emerge, from the pro-Grexit left factions in Syriza to the Front National and the isolationism of the American right has been like watching the nightmares we had during the Lehman Brothers crisis come true.
We need more than just a bunch of utopian dreams and small-scale horizontal projects. We need a project based on reason, evidence and testable designs, that cuts with the grain of history and is sustainable by the planet. And we need to get on with it.
Postcapitalism is published by Allen Lane on 30 July. Paul Mason will be asking whether capitalism has had its day at a sold-out Guardian Live event on 22 July. Let us know your thoughts beforehand at theguardian.com/membership.
How Brewster Kahle and the Internet Archive Will Preserve the Infinite Information on the Web
in Archives, Technology, TED Talks, Web/Tech| May 11th, 2013
Brewster Kahle is an unassuming man. But as an internet pioneer and digital librarian, he may rightly be called a founding father of the Open Culture ethos. In 1996, Kahle began work on the Internet Archive, a tremendously important project that acts as a safety net for the memory hole problem of Internet publishing. Kahle developed technology that finds and aggregates as much of the internet as it is able in his massive digital library.
Along with the archive, which Open Culture has drawn from many a time, comes Kahle’s “Wayback Machine,” named for the time-traveling device in a Rocky and Bullwinkle segment featuring the genius dog Mr. Peabody and his pet boy Sherman (the cartoon spelled it as an acronym: WABAC). The “Wayback Machine,” as you probably know, logs previous versions of websites, holding on to the web’s past like classic paper libraries hold on to an author’s papers. (Here’s what we looked like in 2006.)
In the animated adventures of Peabody and Sherman, the Wayback Machine was a monstrous contraption that occupied half of Peabody’s den. And while we often think of Internet space as limitless and disembodied, Kahle’s Internet Archive is also physically housed, in a former Christian Science church now lined with towering servers that store digitized books, music, film and other media for free access. It’s an impressive space for an impressive project that will likely expand past its physical boundaries. As Kahle says above, “it turns out there is no end; the web is, in fact, infinite.”
Kahle is deeply invested in data. The challenges of maintaining the Internet Archive are immense, including translating old, unplayable formats to new ones. But what Kahle calls the greatest challenge is the perennial threat to all libraries: “they burn.” And he’s committed to designing for that eventuality by making copies of the archive and distributing them around the world. If you’re interested in what motivates Kahle, you should watch his 2007 TED talk above. He frames the business of archiving the internet as one of making available “the best we have to offer” to successive generations. “If we don’t do that,” Kahle warns, “we’re going to get the generation we deserve.” It’s a warning worth heeding, I think.
to read the full transcript published in The Guardian UK, July 16, 2015, click on
Guardian: What is your verdict on the deal reached on Monday?
Habermas: The Greek debt deal announced on Monday morning is damaging both in its result and the way in which it was reached. First, the outcome of the talks is ill-advised. Even if one were to consider the strangulating terms of the deal the right course of action, one cannot expect these reforms to be enacted by a government which by its own admission does not believe in the terms of the agreement.
Secondly, the outcome does not make sense in economic terms because of the toxic mixture of necessary structural reforms of state and economy with further neoliberal impositions that will completely discourage an exhausted Greek population and kill any impetus to growth.
Thirdly, the outcome means that a helpless European Council is effectively declaring itself politically bankrupt: the de facto relegation of a member state to the status of a protectorate openly contradicts the democratic principles of the European Union. Finally, the outcome is disgraceful because forcing the Greek government to agree to an economically questionable, predominantly symbolic privatisation fund cannot be understood as anything other than an act of punishment against a left-wing government. It’s hard to see how more damage could be done.
The European Council is effectively declaring itself politically bankrupt
And yet the German government did just this when finance minister Schaeuble threatened Greek exit from the euro, thus unashamedly revealing itself as Europe’s chief disciplinarian. The German government thereby made for the first time a manifest claim for German hegemony in Europe – this, at any rate, is how things are perceived in the rest of Europe, and this perception defines the reality that counts. I fear that the German government, including its social democratic faction, have gambled away in one night all the political capital that a better Germany had accumulated in half a century – and by “better” I mean a Germany characterised by greater political sensitivity and a post-national mentality.
Reduced Working Hours as a Socio-Economic Investment by Michael Schwendinger and Martin Risak, 2014
This economy condemns and enslaves. Reduced working hours and community centers (as in Vancouver B.C.) could be a third way beyond state and market enabling us to be grateful subjects instead of abject objects. The financial crisis of 2007-8 should lead to shrinking the financial sector, expanding the public sector and freeing ourselves from vulgar materialism, narcissism and environmental destruction.
In these Austrian articles, reduced working hours is seen as a socio-economic investment, not as a cost-trap. A 1909 study by Sidney Chapman shows that shorter hours can lead to higher productivity and greater output. More time sovereignty and better health of workers could be long-term gains.
Why can’t we experiment with redefining work, health, strength and happiness? Sustainability means not taking resources and possibilities from the rising generation. The economy should be a part of life, not a steamroller crushing creativity and self-determination!
The referendum in Greece refuting the European Union’s unbending insistence on radical austerity as the medicine Greeks must continue to swallow is simply not to be missed for its multiple layers of significance. To put the core take-home first, we are all Greeks as they stand against the neoliberal orthodoxy. Their battle is perfectly of a piece with one that needs to be called by its name and waged in our great country.
The Greek crisis has given us an altogether exposing moment, to put the point another way. It is universal in all that it lays bare about the world’s political economy as it has come to be over the last, say, four decades.
Greek Revolt Against Bad Economics by Lynn Parramore, July 10, 2015
Radical Austerity’s Brutal Lies by Patrick Smith, July 11, 2015
In his BookTV presentation for “The Rise of the Robots. On the Disappearance of Jobs in the Future,” the Silicon Valley software developer Martin Ford predicted that 30% of American jobs could be gone within 20 years. He favors a basic income since work and income are already being uncoupled. He warned that plutocrats or the elite often make the whole subject of unemployment through digitalization disappear. He said he was a capitalist and supported a system where 1000 persons lose their purchasing power so Bill Gates and the 1% can become richer!
The time is right for alternative economics, reducing working hours, shrinking the financial sector and expanding the public sector, redefining work, health, strength, success and happiness, moving from quantitative growth to qualitative growth, becoming storytellers and not gazing at the stories of office buildings (whose profits like the $76 billion from WalMart are in Luxemburg or the Cayman Islands).
Websites like www.openculture.com, www.booktv.org,
www.alternativetrademandate.org, www.kickitover.org, www.steadystate.org and www.storyofstuff.com call us to a digital world of abundance and exchanging roles with access replacing excess and enough replacing more.
Book Discussion on Rise of the Robots
Martin Ford talked about his book Rise of Robots: Technology and the Threat of the Jobless Future, in which he discusses the impact of technology on jobs and the economy. Mr. Ford talked about how the increasing use of artificial intelligence could make “good jobs” obsolete. Mr. Ford suggested that many jobs, such as paralegals, physicians, and even computer programmers, were poised to be replaced by robots. May 21, 2015 from BookTV on CSpan
Happy Canada Day! A little inspiration, hope and encouragement from our sister and friend to the North!
The TPP and Canada by Scott Sinclair and Stuart Trew, May 22, 2015, 4 pp
This 4-page fact sheet provides readers with background on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-country trade and investment treaty negotiation that began in 2008. The fact sheet outlines some of the issues and consequences of Canada’s involvement in the TPP, as well the kind of restrictions the TTP puts on government policy and regulation. – See more at: https://policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/tpp-and-canada#sthash.jEbtoYrF.dpuf
Radical free trade policies did not begin with the birth of NAFTA, nor with the founding of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995 – both had been in place in over 90 developing and transitional economies for over a decade through structural adjustment programes imposed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). (Walden Bello)
TTIP – Why the World Should Beware by Manuel Perez-Rocha, Rosa Luxemburg foundation, May 2015, 61 pp
Foreword by Susan George 5
Introduction by Walden Bello: TTIP in historical perspective 9
Executive summary 13
Main concerns about TTIP 19
1. Establishing a new “economic NATO” 20
2. Imposing global standards on trade, investment,
services and intellectual property rights 21
3. Regulatory cooperation: creating a
world parliament for big business\? 24
4. Us versus them: so-called EU and US “common values”
imply that others may not share them 26
5. Reacting to the emergence of the BRICS and undermining
multilateral trade negotiations worldwide 29
6. Leveraging US and EU in their bilateral and
inter-regional negotiations 30
7. Contradicting EU pro-development rhetoric and
global efforts to overcome poverty 32
8. Weakening “local barriers to trade” measures,
local development and “subsidiarity” 34
9. State owned enterprises and other government-controlled
entities under attack 36
10. Limiting EU and US market access for non-TTIP countries 37
11. Threatening global food safety standards and
struggles for food sovereignty 41
12. Efforts to tackle climate change at risk 43
13. Undermining international treaties on human rights 45
Preliminary conclusions 49
TTIP is a direct blow against democracy, but not just for the countries where it will
apply. The ‘overseeing and accelerating’ and the ‘integrating’ of the two economies are
ominous for the rest of the world as well. Clearly, the largest corporations in the world
expect to make the rules for the most powerful economic bloc ever conceived and – once
this bloc is well under control – to impose those same rules on everyone.
Let us also remember that, if this treaty passes, and if the United States also manages to
complete the negotiations on the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) with 11 Latin American
and Asia-Pacific nations, including Japan and Australia, it will occupy the central global
pole position representing a bloc of almost two-thirds of world GDP and nearly three-quarters
of world trade. The two agreements – assuming both are signed – will contain
identical or very similar provisions. Such a coup would allow the US to advance its ‘contain
China’ strategy considerably, but also to confront all the BRICS and other developing
countries. The message would be clear: sign on for the same clauses, provisions and
rules, or you will be marginalized in world trade. TTIP is not just about investment and
deregulation, although it is deeply engaged in both: it’s a blunt instrument to dictate
standards established by and for the business brass of the developed countries, on the
whole world, whether the world likes it or not.
One can expect that smaller and weaker states will be the first forced to give in, but
ultimately corporate rules will apply not just to trade of all products made or processed
anywhere but to the so-called ‘non-trade barriers’ that govern all aspects of ordinary
peoples’ lives, from food to pharmaceuticals, labor laws to environmental degradation
and much, much more.
One particularly frightening example is the planned replacement of the judiciary by
private arbitration tribunals: this aspect of TTIP has angered opposition forces perhaps
more than any other, and for good reasons. The tribunals are not just private, employing
private lawyers and arbitrator-judges from top – mostly British or US – law firms. They
are also both anti-democratic and costly. After the proceedings, which are kept secret,
if the state loses the case to the investor, citizens of that country will be obliged to pay
the compensation awarded through their taxes. The provision is unilateral – states can’t
complain against investors – and there is no recourse or process of appeal. In the cases
decided so far by such tribunals operating under bilateral investment treaty law, states
have been obliged to pay something to the corporations in 63\% of cases, either because
of the arbitrators’ decision or because they preferred to make a settlement directly with
the investor suing them outside of court. (Susan George)
to read the article by Claire Provost and Matt Kennard published in The Guardian, June 10, 2015, click on
Fifty years ago, an international legal system was created to protect the rights of foreign investors. Today, as companies win billions in damages, insiders say it has got dangerously out of control.
Most international investment treaties and free-trade deals grant foreign investors the right to activate this system, known as investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), if they want to challenge government decisions affecting their investments. In Europe, this system has become a sticking point in negotiations over the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal proposed between the European Union and the US, which would massively extend its scope and power and make it harder to challenge in the future. Both France and Germany have said that they want access to investor-state dispute settlement removed from the TTIP treaty currently under discussion.
Investors have used this system not only to sue for compensation for alleged expropriation of land and factories, but also over a huge range of government measures, including environmental and social regulations, which they say infringe on their rights. Multinationals have sued to recover money they have already invested, but also for alleged lost profits and “expected future profits”. The number of suits filed against countries at the ICSID is now around 500 – and that figure is growing at an average rate of one case a week.