Tag Archives: dissent

The New York Times and the criminalization of dissent!

14 Oct

 

The unsubstantiated charges of Russian interference in the US elections have developed into an increasingly frenzied campaign to ascribe all opposition within the United States to the actions of a “foreign enemy.”

The campaign within the American media and political establishment over allegations of Russian “hacking” and manipulation of the US elections is being transformed into an increasingly frenzied demand for the criminalization of dissent.

During the first months of the Trump administration, the charges of Russian interference in US politics were primarily used to prosecute a struggle within the American ruling class centered on issues of foreign policy. The anti-Russian campaign has now developed into an effort to ascribe all opposition within the United States to the actions of a “foreign enemy.”

A series of increasingly ludicrous articles have appeared in the US press, channeling information supposedly gathered by the Senate Intelligence Committee from social media companies. The latest appeared on Tuesday in the New York Times, which has played the central role in the media campaign. The front-page article (“Russians Spun American Rage Into a Weapon: Facebook Posts in US Fueled Propaganda”) is a piece of pure political propaganda, filled with unsubstantiated statements, wild speculation and unsupported conclusions.

Social media posts from Americans, the Times asserts, have become “grist for a network of Facebook pages linked to a shadowy Russian company that carried out propaganda campaigns for the Kremlin.” The newspaper claims to have reviewed hundreds of these posts, concluding, “One of the most powerful weapons that Russian agents used to reshape American politics was the anger, passion and misinformation that real Americans were broadcasting across social media platforms.”

The article names several Facebook pages that it baldly asserts, without proof, were owned and controlled by the unnamed Russian company, including United Muslims of America, Being Patriotic, Secured Borders, and Blacktivist.

The entire premise of the Times article is absurd. Pages associated with Russia, it is claimed, are reporting and sharing expressions of anger, sowing discontent and divisions. United Muslims of America, for example, “frequently posted content highlighting discrimination against Muslims.” This, somehow, is criminal activity. Those who originally produced the content or shared the posts are acting, at best, as Russian patsies, and, at worst, as co-conspirators. The Times cites one Trump supporter who shared a post from the Being Patriotic group, characterizing him as “not bothered…by becoming an unwitting cog in the Russian propaganda machine.”

The claims of Russian manipulation read like the ravings of individuals suffering from paranoid delusions. According to an earlier statement from Republican Senator James Lankford, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Russian “trolls” are responsible for pushing the controversy over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police violence. Russian “troll farms,” he claimed, were working to “raise the noise level in America.”

Clint Watts, a former top FBI agent who has testified at Senate Intelligence Committee hearings on Russian intervention in the elections and has been frequently quoted in the media, replied to Lankford’s comments by declaring, “The Russians can just sit back and say: ‘Amplify on both sides. Make people angry.’ And it works, man, God, it works.”

Such claims reproduce the worst tactics used during the period of McCarthyite redbaiting. What used to be called “Commie dupes” are now “Russian dupes.” (Unconcerned by the fact that the Soviet Union was dissolved over a quarter century ago, GQ magazine recently posted an article that featured a graphic replacing the “G” in “Google” with a hammer and sickle). Dissent and opposition, according to this line, are to be interpreted not as the product of internal divisions and social tensions, but the nefarious workings of a foreign power.

The Times article includes lines that read like they came straight from the proclamations of Senator Joe McCarthy or the files of J. Edgar Hoover. “The Russians,” it states, “appear to have insinuated themselves across American social media platforms and used the same promotional tools that people employ to share cat videos, airline complaints, and personal rants.” The article speaks of the need to “purge social media networks of foreign influence.”

And what was supposedly involved in this major “covert propaganda campaign?” According to US Senate investigators, Russian companies spent a total of $100,000 on Facebook advertisements to promote messages like those cited by the Times.

Another article appearing in the Times on Tuesday (“Google Inquiry Connects Election Ads to Russians”) asserts that “accounts believed to be connected to the Russian government” purchased a grand total of $4,700 worth of ads, while “a separate $53,000 worth of ads with political material…were purchased from Russian internet addresses, building addresses or with Russian currency…”

This is an infinitesimal fraction of what is spent by political campaigns awash in money from corporate executives and American plutocrats. Some $2.65 billion was spent by the Clinton and Trump campaigns and organizations supporting them during the presidential race. Nearly $7 billion was spent on all US federal elections last year. Yet the Russian government’s supposedly massive campaign of subversion and propaganda amounts to a few tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on Facebook, Twitter and Google!

 

 

The conclusions would be laughable if the consequence were not so serious.

The New York Times, in close coordination with the Democratic Party and the US intelligence agencies, is engaged in a campaign that is nothing less than criminal. It is engaged in a political conspiracy to outlaw dissent in the United States and justify state efforts to prohibit, blacklist and suppress speech, particularly on the Internet. If the Russian government is merely amplifying content produced by others—including videos depicting police violence and other crimes—then the logical conclusion is that this original content must be proscribed.

Any content or article, including from the Times itself, that examines social discontent in the United States is susceptible to being picked up by the Russians and promoted. Halting such “foreign intervention” requires a regime of censorship and self-censorship of and by all media outlets—precisely what exists in a dictatorship.

The basic target of the lying campaign over Russian manipulation of US public opinion is not Russia, but the American population. The state institutions and the two parties, Democratic and Republican, are deeply discredited and broadly hated. The working class does not need the Russian or Chinese governments to know that American society is massively unequal, that the political system is controlled by the rich, and that the police engage in brutal acts of violence on a daily basis.

Control of the Internet and the suppression of free speech online is a basic strategic issue for the American ruling class. The emergence of online communication and Internet platforms broke the control of the major media conglomerates over the distribution of information. Under conditions of growing popular opposition to social inequality and war, and deepening political crisis, establishing state control over the Internet is seen as a matter of the greatest urgency.

This is what Google has already begun to do. As the World Socialist Web Sitehas documented, changes to Google’s search algorithm in April, introduced under the pretext of combating “fake news” and promoting “authoritative content,” have resulted in a fall in referrals from Google to the WSWS by nearly 70 percent, and to 13 other left-wing sites by between 19 and 63 percent.

The actions of Google are only the beginning. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other platforms are preparing or have already begun to implement similar measures. The US Justice Department has demanded that staff at the American branch of Russian news agency RT register as foreign agents by October 17 or face possible arrest. This action will be used as a precedent for targeting left-wing and antiwar websites and organizations as agencies of a “foreign enemy” that must be shut down or censored.

It is necessary to organize the working class and youth against this neo-McCarthyite assault on free speech and the Internet, connecting the defense of democratic rights to opposition to social inequality, war, dictatorship and the capitalist system. Meetings must be organized throughout the country and internationally to expose what is taking place and mobilize opposition. The WSWS urges all its readers to sign the petition against Internet censorship and contact the Socialist Equality Party today.

Joseph Kishore

 

Order, Compliance, Obedience these are not Liberties – but unobstructed Civil Disobedience Is! All Oppression is connected! All Oppression is Violence!

Source: The New York Times and the criminalization of dissent – World Socialist Web Site

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No War but Class War; This is what happens when you outlaw peaceful protest. The banning of peaceful protest from Egypt to Spain leaves citizens with no other way to express their opposition but through violence.

16 Dec

 

HEALTH CARE IS A RIGHT

 TO DEMONSTRATE, TO PROTEST ARE OUR RIGHT

 

When the conservative government of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy proposed a new law that would effectively ban protests near state buildings and impose hefty fines of up to 600,000 euros and even jail time on those trying to organize “unlawful” demonstrations via social media, they probably thought they were being clever. Now that the massive street protests that rocked Spain through 2011-’12 appear to have subsided, those in power probably expected the people to just take their Orwellian Citizens’ Security Law and suck it up.

But the people will have none of it. Instead of being cowered into submission, the decentralized coordinating platform of Spain’s powerful social movements immediately coalesced back into action, organizing a major demonstration in front of Congress last night. What happened next may well be a sign of what lies ahead for governments the world over as they seek to slam shut all doors — both institutional and non-institutional — to legitimate opposition and democratic participation. Thousands of protesters descended upon Congress and, as the cops tried to break up the demonstration, attacked them with bricks and bottles and smashed up their police cars.

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Last night’s clashes in Madrid are only the latest in a long line of actions and reactions, uprisings and crackdowns, rebellions and repressions. All around the world, a nefarious process is afoot. In many of the countries that experienced dramatic social mobilizations from 2011 onward, terrified elites are now drawing up laws banning the type of street demonstrations that kick-started the Age of the Protester, desperately trying to institutionalize their Thermidorian counter-revolution now that the movements appear to be on the retreat. But everywhere these type of anti-protest legislations are being passed, the attempted closure is only drawing people back into the streets.

In Egypt, when the revolutionary movement suddenly resurfaced last month, the military-controlled government moved swiftly to implement a new law that would effectively ban all unauthorized gatherings of over 10 people. The day after the law was passed activists took to the streets of Cairo to denounce it and the regime responded by attacking and arresting the protesters, subjecting them to torture and sexual assault before dumping a number of them in the desert. Still, activists in Cairo warned that “we will not protest at the whim and convenience of a counter-revolutionary regime,” declaring that “the January 25 Revolution has returned to the streets.”

 

 

Apart from Egypt and Spain, similar anti-protest laws have been drafted up elsewhere as well. During the student uprising in Québec last year, politicians tried to deal with the outburst of popular indignation by pushing through emergency legislation banning the demonstrations. In Japan, the government is trying to do the same following the massive anti-nuclear demos after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. And wherever protest has not yet been made illegal by law, police forces are trying to do everything within their power to treat it as such — just take a look at the way cops treat students in the UK, or the coordinated fashion in which the federal government cracked down on the Occupy movement in the US.

The worldwide repression of popular protest should be seen as part of a general evolution in the nature of the capitalist state: away from a modicum of democratic accountability under the Keynesian social welfare state towards an ever more authoritarian neoliberal form. In this respect, the protest bans are indicative of a contradictory rearrangement of power relations. On the one hand, the movements have clearly left an impression: apparently the massive street demonstrations of recent years have terrified governments so much that they now consider such draconian measures necessary to maintain their grip on power. This reveals something about the ideological fragility of the dominant order, whose legitimacy was shaken to its very core by the uprisings of 2011-’13.

But when ideological power can no longer serve to restrain the masses within their straitjacket of “democratic” consent and complacency, pure physical force must make up for that lack of legitimacy. Machiavelli once conceptualized political power as a centaur — half man, half beast — both sides of which must be mobilized by the astute statesman in order to subdue his enemies; not least the rebellious multitude that in a state of discontent marches upon the palace gates. In his words, “there are two methods of fighting, the one by law, the other by force: the first method is that of men, the second of beasts; but as the first method is often insufficient, one must have recourse to the second.” And so we find ourselves at a historical crossroads: now that the ruling elite can no longer command the voluntary consent of the ruled, they will increasingly resort to the use of force in order to retain their position of privilege. This leaves the movements in a frightening predicament. If the state’s inner bestiality is taking over from its limited human capacity to dialogue and reason, can we really keep fighting it through the same means? Does it really make sense to reproach a rabid and murderous beast with the cunning reason of man? What is the point in peaceful protest if the state simply outlaws it and arrests us for disagreeing in public? What future is there for us if we are to be mercilessly jailed or bankrupted, our lives destroyed, simply for calling on our fellow human beings to peacefully speak out against injustice? What direction is the state driving us into? And can the movements be held responsible for what comes next?

These are questions we may not yet be able to answer, but as Machiavelli also crucially observed, we need to remind ourselves that no political authority can ever rule through force alone. Violence breeds violence, and perpetual cycles of retribution will even cost the victor dearly. It is not in the interest of the capitalist state to run its affairs purely on the basis of violence and terror. Sooner or later, the Leviathan will either have to make some serious compromises — or face the consequences. For those of us who desire peace, the future may not look pretty. A hungry beast is staring us in the eye. What do we do now? by Jerome Roos on December 15, 2013 http://roarmag.org

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No War but Clas War; the Fight against the Banksters; Are we witnessing an open source finance revolution? Financial democracy requires by – passing large unaccountable institutions!

13 Dec

Financial democracy requires bypassing large unaccountable institutions and reconnecting people to the reality of their money — by producing it ourselves.

In 2012, in celebration of Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, I suggested that we securitize the Queen, using her as collateral for UK government borrowing. I thought she would support this modest proposal because royalty have long been financial innovators. Indeed, what were the old medieval armies but a blunt financial instrument? Monarchs invested resources into them in order to extract dividends from conquered peoples who did not want to be bludgeoned to death. Perhaps I was being unfair. Dear old Queenie is much milder than her predecessors, and nowadays the power has relocated to much more subtle warlords. Instead of armies of young men wearing armor, we have seen the drafting of armies of young men and women wearing suits and ties, carrying Oxbridge and Ivy League degrees, sent off to battle it out in the capital markets and trading floors of global investment banks, commercial banks and hedge funds. Actually, they are more like a scattered mercenary force, pledging loose allegiance to titanic institutions that are in a perpetual state of territorial rivalry over who gets to control the remains of the global commons. Barclays Capital slashes out a space for itself in the global interest rate swap market, while Goldman Sachs snarls at those pushing in on the commodity trading space they dominate. Citigroup and Deutsche Bank hoard the global flows of foreign exchange. Some still maintain the fiction that these are national entities. These institutions can draw on the resources of nation states, but their habitat is global. They form an interconnected network emanating out from major financial centers via undersea fiber-optic cables to tax havens and shadow banking structures, and from there into copper mines in the DRC, and property developments in Brazil, and then back again.

The transnational financial regime that has been established appears natural to us, and yet simultaneously alienating and vaguely menacing. Unlike a monarch, it does not extract money from society in the form of blunt tribute, but rather in the form of privatized gains and socialized losses. And while political democracy has gradually extended, the financial world still largely remains a system of restricted access. The average person has been expected to accept this and to be grateful. This passivity is actively encouraged by financial intermediaries. Look, for example, at banking advertisements. They constantly portray the humble and responsible citizen just trying to get on with their lives, respectfully accepting the patronizing brochures about mortgage deals and savings accounts from the smiling bank manager. Beyond this rhetoric of inclusion, the sector displays implicit contempt for ‘little people’. There is no real bank manager. There are only generic forms that feed into an IT system programmed by technocrats with little knowledge of whether someone has a viable small business idea or not. Within the sector, ‘real’ finance is not seen to be about enabling or empowering real activities of real people. Rather, it’s all about big men doing big deals with other big men to get to a point where everyone thinks they’re a ‘big swinging dick’. Even government attempts to shift the sector away from macho-man deal-mongering towards a model of ‘socially useful’ banking can be shallow. There are proposals for getting banks to lend more to small businesses, for example, but the government proposals, at best, seem aimed at turning the financial sector into a more benign dictatorship. Let’s get something straight: banks are not ‘private’ businesses. They are subject to extensive public privileges, such as the exclusive ability to create most of the electronic money supply, and the subsequent role of upholding the electronic payments system. Then there’s the small issue of them being able to demand bailouts when things go wrong. In this context, how well the regulation is written is but one issue. The much deeper question is whether the everyday person has any real democratic say in access to, or understanding of, these systemically important institutions. True financial democracy means reconnecting people to the reality of what their money is and what it funds, and in building a culture in which people accept responsibility for defining a vision for where it goes, rather than deferring that responsibility to large, unaccountable institutions.

Open Source Finance: a slow-motion revolution

Recently, though, small insurrections have started to occur. There was Occupy, which was an in-your-face expression of discontent, but I’m thinking of the less overt insurrections, hacking away like small axes on the big tree. I notice it when I look at my email inbox. There’s an announcement from MoveYourMoney UK, saying 2.4 million people in the UK have shifted their money away from major banks. There are emails from friends, on the verge of successfully completing crowdfunding projects, something largely unheard of several years ago. And why is the public at large suddenly fascinated by understanding Bitcoin? A few years we might have said “A collective of people taking it upon themselves to build their own global currency? Ha, it will never work!” These individual examples, perhaps of limited significance in themselves, point to a potential change in societal attitude. People (and perhaps especially young people) are more prepared to consider things like peer-to-peer co-operation and exchange, collaborative production and consumption technologies. The occasional Facebook post about some non-monetary sharing economy platform perhaps doesn’t register as a flashy news item to the person viewing it, but collectively these ideas are working their way into the public imagination, shifting the notion of what’s possible. The industrial revolution was only perceptible in hindsight, and that was a technological process that broke existing social structures. Perhaps now we are seeing a slow-motion revolution in financial life. So what might we call it? I personally call it ‘Open Source Finance.’  The open source movement started with the campaign for free access to software source code, and has since expanded to include many other open production and distribution processes. Consider Wikipedia. As an individual, I can do five things with Wikipedia:

  1. Firstly, I can contribute to it, essentially helping to produce Wikipedia.
  2. Secondly, I can also use it as a commons, provided I have access to the internet.
  3. Thirdly, I can also monitor what happens there, track and challenge changes.
  4. Fourthly, I can identify myself with the Wikipedia community, and take pride at my contribution within that community.
  5. Finally, I can have access to the most basic source code, and can break away and form my own versions of it.

These five elements — access to means of production, access to common resource usage, ability to monitor, ability to join the community, and ability to fork off to build an alternative — are all lacking in the current global financial system. The insurrections, though, are challenging different aspects of this.

Campaign #1: Expanding access to means of financial production

Very few of us perceive ourselves as offering financial services when we deposit our money in banks. Mostly we perceive ourselves as passive recipients of services. Put another way, we frequently don’t imagine we have the capability to produce financial services, even though the entire financial system is foundationally constructed from the actions of small-scale players depositing money into banks and funds, buying the products of companies that receive loans, and culturally validating the money system that the banks uphold. Let’s look though, at a few examples of prototypes that are breaking this down:

  • Peer-to-peer finance models: if you decide to lend money to your friend, you directly perceive yourself as offering them a service. P2P finance platforms extend that concept far beyond your circle of close contacts, so that you can directly offer a financial service to someone who needs it. In essence, such platforms offer you access to an active, direct role in producing financial services, rather than an indirect, passive one.
  • There are many interesting examples of actual open source financial software aimed at helping to fulfill the overall mission of an open financial system. Check out Mifos and Cyclos, and Hamlets (developed by Community Forge), all of which are designed to help people set up their own financial institutions.
  • Alternative currencies: there’s a reason why there is so much hype around Bitcoin. As a member of the Bitcoin community, I am much more aware of my role in upholding — or producing — the system, than I am when using normal money, which I had no conscious role in producing. The scope to invent your own currency goes far beyond crypto-currencies, though: local currencies, time-banks, and mutual credit systems are emerging all over.
  • Campaign #2: expanding access to financial services

    Financial intermediaries like banks and funds serve as powerful gatekeepers to access to financing. To some extent this is a valid role — much like a publisher or music label will attempt to only publish books or music that they believe are high quality enough — but on the other hand this leads to excessive power vested in the intermediaries, and systematic bias in what gets to survive. When combined with a lack of democratic accountability, you can have whole societies held hostage to the (arbitrary) whims, prejudices and interests of such intermediaries. Expanding access to financial services is thus a big front in the battle for financial democratization. In addition to more traditional means of building financial inclusion – such as credit unions and micro-finance — here are two areas to look at:

  • Crowdfunding: in the dominant financial system, you have to suck up to a single set of gatekeepers to get financing, hoping they won’t exclude you. Crowdfunding, though, has expanded access to receiving financial services to a whole host of people who previously wouldn’t have had access, such as artists, small-scale filmmakers, activists, and entrepreneurs with no track record.
  • Mobile banking: This is a big area, with important implications for international development and ICT4D. Check out innovations like M-Pesa in Kenya, a technology to use mobile phones as proto-bank accounts. This in itself doesn’t necessarily guarantee inclusion, but it expands potential access to the system to people who have so far been ignored by most banks

Campaign #3: expanding the ability to monitor and exert democratic accountability

Do you know where the money in the big banks goes? No, of course not. They don’t publish it, under the guise of commercial confidentiality. It’s like they want to have their cake and eat it: “we’ll call ourselves intermediaries, but don’t ever ask for any accountability.” And what about the money in your pension fund? Also very little accountability. The intermediary system is incredibly opaque, but attempts to make it more transparent are emerging. Here are some examples:

  • Triodos Bank and Charity Bank are examples of banks that publish exactly what projects they lend to. This gives you the ability to hold them to account in a way that no other bank will allow you to do.
  • Corporations extract value out of assets and then distribute that via financial instruments to shareholders and creditors. Corporate structures, though, including those used by banks themselves, have reached a level of complexity approaching pure obfuscation. There can be no democratic accountability when you can’t even see who owns what. Groups like OpenCorporates and Open Oil are offering new open data tools to shine light on the shadowy world of tax havens, ownership structures and contracts.
  • Embedded in peer-to-peer platforms is a new model of accountability, as well. When people are treated as mere account numbers by banks, people in return feel little accountability towards the banks. On the other hand, if an individual has directly placed trust in me, I feel much more compelled to respect that.

Drug money and terrorism fuel HSBC? – Senate probe - BlackListedNews.com

  • Campaign #4: building an ethos of non-prescriptive DIY collaboration

    At the heart of open source movements is a deep do-it-yourself ethos. This is in part about the sheer joy of producing things, but also about asserting individual power over institutionalized arrangements and pre-established officialdom. Alongside this, and deeply tied to the DIY ethos, is the search to remove individual alienation: you are not a cog in a wheel, producing stuff you don’t have a stake in, in order to consume stuff that you don’t know the origins of. Unalienated labor includes the right to produce where you feel most capable or excited. This ethos of individual responsibility and creativity stands in contrast to the traditional passive frame of finance that is frequently found on both the right and left of the political spectrum. Part of the essence of DIY is to band together, not via the enforced hierarchy of the corporation or bureaucracy, but as part of a like-minded community of individuals creatively offering services to each other. Here’s a few examples of this:

  • BrewDog’s ‘Equity for Punks’ share offering is probably only going to attract beer-lovers, but that’s the point — you get together as a group that has a mutual appreciation for a project, and you finance it, and then when you’re drinking the beer you’ll know you helped make it happen in a small way.
  • Community shares offer local groups the ability to finance projects that are meaningful to them in a local area. Here’s one for a solar co-operative, a pub, and a ferry boat service in Bristol.
  • Campaign #5: access to source-code and the ‘right to fork’

    The right to dissent is a crucial component of a democratic society. But for dissent to be effective, it has to be informed and constructive, rather than reactive and regressive. There is much dissent towards the current financial system, but while people are (theoretically) free to voice their displeasure, they find it very difficult to actually act on their displeasure. We may loathe the smug banking oligopoly, but we’re frequently compelled to submit ourselves to their dictates. Furthermore, much dissent doesn’t have a clear vision of what alternative is sought. This is partially due to the fact that access to financial ‘source code’ (more on that here) — or education about how the system operates — is so limited. It’s hard to articulate ideas about what’s wrong when one cannot articulate how the current system works. Most financial knowledge is currently held in proprietary formulas wrapped in obscure jargon-laden language within the financial sector. Poor financial literacy on the part of most people is one of the foundational sources of strength for existing financial institutions. It’s in recognition of this that I wrote a guide to global finance. Access to financial education, though, needs to be combined with the ability to act on it. A core principle of open source movements is the Right to Fork. This is the ability to take preexisting code, and to modify it or use it as the basis for your own. This is the ability to break away, which is both a check on power, and a force for diversity and creativity. The mainstream financial system contains extensive blocks on the right to fork, many of them actively enforced by financial regulators. That’s an ongoing fight, but the right to break away needs to be instilled into the design of any alternatives too. I don’t want to replace a world where I am forced to use national fiat currencies or privately created credit money with one in which I’m forced to use Bitcoin. The point is to create meaningful options for people. And as these options emerge, the infrastructure, norms and cultural acceptance for a more connected, creative, open financial system may begin to emerge and coalesce into reality. by Brett Scott on December 11, 2013  http://roarmag.org

Selected images from a “History of Economics” in comic format.—Comics written by Michael Goodwin and illustrated by Dan E. Burr/Text by Tim J Luddy

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When Michael Goodwin decided to write a book explaining the progression of Western economic theory in the context of political history, he apparently wanted people to actually read it. So in Economix: How Our Economy Works (and Doesn’t Work) in Words and Pictures, (Abrams ComicArts), Goodwin teams up with visual artist Dan E. Burr, who brings a lively visual sensibility to this intensely abstruse subject matter without condescending to the reader or dumming the ideas down. Goodwin and Burr proceed from Jean-Baptiste Colbert’s Mercantilism to Milton Friedman’s Neo-liberalism, laying out a richly-textured, irreverent and compelling argument for good regulation, which, as Goodwin says in reference to the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, “aligns private incentives with the public interest.” The books’ arguments are supported by incursions on topics such as the contentious rise of Socialism, the person-hood of corporations, sustainable economics, and the incredible exploding Ford Pinto. Hey, it’s either this, or Adam Smith!

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Adam Smith’s take on laissez-faire economics. Contrary to popular belief, Smith wasn’t a believer in a completely untrammeled market; for example, he believed that government needed to provide public services
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The French Revolution blamed, in part, on the steep costs of pitching in with the American Revolution.

Eighteenth-century birth control is discussed in relation to Thomas Malthus’s “An Essay on the Principles of Population.”

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Eighteenth-century birth control is discussed in relation to Thomas Malthus’s “An Essay on the Principles of Population.”
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Classical political economy and the principle of comparative advantage, illustrated via England’s garment exports and Portugal’s wine exports.
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Controversy in the early Socialist movement.
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The personhood of American corporations is established in 1886. Adam Smith scowls from the lower right corner; he warned against “the monopolizing spirit of merchants and manufacturers” as bad for the market.
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Muckrakers pointed out social injustice at the turn of the century; here’s Teddy Roosevelt’s response.
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The Soviet State, about to take a turn for the worse.
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Keynesian economics, simplified.
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Goodwin argues that the Second World War was waged, at least partly, over oil.
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Herbert Hoover remembers the Depression, with some nostalgia.
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Malthus’s ideas on overpopulation are re-examined by comparing the relative ecological footprints of various groups.
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The book’s section on Management by Numbers brings up the example of the fire-prone Ford Pinto, reported on by Mother Jones in 1977.
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The practice of bundling and selling high-risk mortgages is visualized as ‘putting lipstick on a pig.’
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The interlocking tentacles of the auto industry, presented as an example of a global oligopoly.
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The difficulty, and the promise, of change.

 

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