What is degrowth communism?

    This interview with Kohei Saito in EL PAÍS talks about the importance of having a positive view of the future, with “a society that adapts to the limits of nature and offers universal access to education, health, transportation, internet”.

    Sounds good to me.

    The image created depicts a peaceful, sustainable community thriving in harmony with nature, focusing on the concept of degrowth. The scene includes community gardens, renewable energy sources like wind turbines and solar panels, and people of diverse backgrounds engaging in educational and artistic activities. The color palette of light gray, dark gray, bright red, yellow, and blue symbolizes a vibrant, sustainable way of living that emphasizes environmental harmony and a shift away from industrial excess.
    We are in a chronic state of emergency. The pandemic was not the last crisis, but rather the beginning of more problems. We should not forget that moment [during lockdown] when, consciously, we halted capitalism. It seemed impossible. But it happened. For a short time. A good moment to establish some distance: people came back more anti-capitalist and inclined towards degrowth. Let’s remember that.

    […]

    I talk about a degrowth communism: a society that adapts to the limits of nature and offers universal access to education, health, transportation, internet… Due to a variety of crises, access to these services — the common good — has been undermined for many. But without positive visions of the future, there will be more and more discontent. What we need is to build a broad movement: environmentalist, working-class, feminist, Indigenist… To propose an inclusive and emancipatory future.

    […]

    The Anthropocene signifies that humans have become a geological force, with the ability to modify the planet. But not everyone is equally responsible for this situation. It’s primarily the people of the Global North; particularly, the super-rich who think they can do it all with their money, even flee the Earth. That idea of conquest originates with European colonialism, linking imperialism, capitalism and progress. We should also restrict space shuttles, like SpaceX. Spending so much money, effort and time on going to Mars seems stupid to me; we should invest that energy in saving our planet. As a philosopher, I’m an optimist. Our perception, our values, can change in two or five years. Opportunities for change are everywhere. I want to explore what they are.

    Source: Kohei Saito, philosopher: ‘Spending so much money, effort and time on going to Mars is stupid’ | Climate | EL PAÍS English

    There are better approaches than just having no friends at work

    We get articles like this because we live in a world inescapably tied to neoliberalism and hierarchical ways of organising work. I’m sure the advice to “not make friends at work” is stellar survival advice in a large company, but it’s not the best way to ensure human flourishing.

    I’ve definitely been burned by relationships at work, especially earlier in my career when managers use the ‘family’ metaphor. Thankfully, there’s a better way: own your own business with your friends! Then you can bring your full self to work, which is much like having your cake and eating it, too.

    Image created by DALL-E 3 with the prompt: "An image illustrating the concept of maintaining clear boundaries at work. The scene shows a professional office environment where individuals of diverse backgrounds interact with respect and professionalism. A distinct physical separation, like a glass wall or a clear line on the floor, symbolizes the clear boundaries between personal and professional lives. The environment conveys a sense of order, efficiency, and a healthy work-life balance, emphasizing the importance of keeping these aspects distinct."
    Real friends are people you can be yourself around and with whom you can show up being who you truly are—no editing needed. They are folks with whom you have developed a deep relationship over time that is mutual and flows in two ways. You are there for them and they are there for you. There is trust built.

    At work, this relationship becomes very, very complex. Instead of being a true friendship, what ends up happening is that the socio-economic realities of your workplace come into play—and most often that poisons the well. When money is involved, it clouds any potential friendship. It makes the lines so blurry between real and contrived friendships that the waters become too murky to make clear and meaningful relationships. Is that a real friend, or do they want something from me that benefits them? Who can you really trust at work and what happens if they violate your trust? Is my boss really my friend or are they just trying to get me to work harder/longer/faster?

    If, instead, we keep clear boundaries at work, we never fall into the trap of worrying about whom to trust and who has our best interest in mind. It prevents us from transferring our best interests to anyone else simply because we assume they are our friends. Why give that amazing power to someone else at work only to be disappointed?

    Worse yet, people will often confuse co-workers with family, falling into the trap of having a “work mom,” “work dad,” or even a “work husband” or “work wife.” This can lead to a number of disastrous results that are well-documented, as family is not the same as work, and confusing the two has long-lasting ramifications that can stifle career success and lead to unethical behaviour. Keeping boundaries clear and your work life separate from your private life will help to alleviate this potential downfall and keep you focused on what really matters: the work.

    Source: Why You Shouldn’t Make Friends at Work | Psychology Today Canada

    Image: DALL-E 3

     

    The techno-feudal economy

    Yanis Varoufakis is best known for his short stint as Greek finance minister in 2015 during a stand-off with the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission. He’s used that platform to speak out about capitalism and publish several books.

    This interview with EL PAÍS is interesting in terms of his analysis of our having moved beyond capitalism to what he calls ‘technofeudalism’. Varoufakis believes that this new economic order has emerged due to the privatisation of the internet and the response to the 2008 financial crisis. Politicians have lost power over large corporations and the system that has emerged is, he believes, incompatible with social democracy and feminism.

    Capitalism is now dead. It has been replaced by the techno-feudal economy and a new order. At the heart of my thesis, there’s an irony that may sound confusing at first, but it’s made clear in the book (Technofeudalism: What Killed Capitalism). What’s killing capitalism is capitalism itself. Not the capital we’ve known since the dawn of the industrial age. But a new form, a mutation, that’s been growing over the last two decades. It’s much more powerful than its predecessor, which — like a stupid and overzealous virus — has killed its host. And why has this occurred? Due to two main causes: the privatization of the internet by the United States, but also the large Chinese technology companies. Along with the way in which Western governments and central banks responded to the great financial crisis of 2008.

    Varoufakis’ latest book warns of the impossibility of social democracy today, as well as the false promises made by the crypto world. “Behind the crypto aristocracy, the only true beneficiaries of these technologies have been the very institutions these crypto evangelists were supposed to want to overthrow: Wall Street and the Big Tech conglomerates.” For example, in Technofeudalism, the economist writes: “JPMorgan and Microsoft have recently joined forces to run a ‘blockchain consortium,’ based on Microsoft data centers, with the goal of increasing their power in financial services.”

    […]

    Capitalism only brings enormous, terrible burdens. One is the exploitation of women. The only way women can prosper is at the expense of other women. No, in the end — and in practice — feminism and democratic capitalism are incompatible.

    Source: Yanis Varoufakis: ‘Capitalism is dead. The new order is a techno-feudal economy’ | EL PAÍS

    Research shows people in most countries are anti-capitalist

    I came across this via fellow Sunderland AFC supporter Andrew Curry’s Just Two Things newsletter. We also share similar political views, so I share his delight that this journal article from a right-wing thinktank does the opposite of what they were evidently setting out to achieve.

    The article presents findings from a global survey on attitudes towards capitalism, revealing that pro-capitalist views are rare and mostly found in six countries. Bizarrely, and seemingly clutching at straws, the research found anti-capitalist views often correlate with conspiracy thinking and negative attitudes towards the rich.

    You’re not paranoid if they’re out to get you, and it’s not a conspiracy if capitalism really does favour the 0.1%.

     

    Chart showing capitalist sentiment
    In only seven of 34 countries – Poland, the United States, the Czech Republic, Japan, Argentina, South Korea, and Sweden – does a positive attitude towards economic freedom clearly prevail. Including the word ‘capitalism’ reduces this to just six of 34 countries, namely Poland, the United States, the Czech Republic, Japan, Nigeria and South Korea. In most countries, anti-capitalist sentiment dominates.

    What is it exactly that bothers people about capitalism? If you look at the survey’s overall conclusions, it is – in this order – primarily the opinion that:

    • capitalism is dominated by the rich, who set the political agenda;
    • capitalism leads to growing inequality;
    • capitalism promotes selfishness and greed; and
    • capitalism leads to monopolies.

    Not surprisingly, anti-capitalism is most pronounced among those on the left of the political spectrum and the strongest pro-capitalists are to be found to the right of centre. But while in some countries the formula is ‘the more right-wing, the more supportive of capitalism’, there are more countries in which moderate right-wingers are somewhat more supportive of capitalism than those on the far right of the political spectrum.

    Source: Attitudes towards capitalism in 34 countries on five continents | Economic Affairs

    Money does not solve disasters like this

    The Burning Man Festival started in 1986 as a small event on a beach. It was originally an event for hippies, bohemians, and those who lived outside of mainstream culture. It’s an art event.

    As with most things like this, it became cool, and so people with money started going. Now, less than 40 years later, it’s dominated by the Silicon Valley elite, celebrities, and grifters.

    While one person has died this year due to extreme weather events, which is a tragedy, I can’t help but feel some schadenfreude at rich people being stuck in a situation they can’t buy their way out of.

    Tens of thousands of “burners” at the Burning Man festival have been told to stay in the camps, conserve food and water and are being blocked from leaving Nevada’s Black Rock desert after a slow-moving rainstorm turned the event into a mud bath.

    […]

    As of noon Saturday, Nevada’s Bureau of Land Management declared the entrance to Burning Man shut down for good. “Rain over the last 24 hours has created a situation that required a full stop of vehicle movement on the playa. More rain is expected over the next few days and conditions are not expected to improve enough to allow vehicles to enter the playa,” read a BLM statement.

    […]

    The festival this year was already taking place under unusual circumstances with the desert floor flooded by the remnants of Hurricane Hilary as the event was being set up.

    Tara Saylor, an attendee from Ojai, California, faced the threat of the hurricane as well as a 5.1-magnitude earthquake that shook her city before she left, reported the Los Angeles Times. Saylor told the newspaper she’s seen the founders of two different companies at Burning Man this year, but added, “it doesn’t matter how much money you have, nobody can do anything about it. There’s no planes, there’s no buses.”

    “Money does not solve disasters like this.”

    Source: Burning Man festival-goers trapped in desert as rain turns site to mud | The Guardian

    Disaster capitalism, climate change, and agriculture

    Many readers will be aware of the extreme weather conditions in Vermont USA. This has led to a disastrous year for agriculture and financial struggles for local farmers.

    The article delves into the broader implications of these challenges, framing them within the context of ‘disaster capitalism,’ where the degradation of farming and natural resources is exploited for profit, exacerbating systemic issues and inequalities. We’re at the thin of the wedge with this stuff.

    Vermont has suffered a miserable growing season and many Vermonters lost a great deal to the flood. Some lost their home and everything in it. But only two people lost their lives, and very few lost their jobs. This is astonishing, given the number of businesses that were shuttered for most of the last eight weeks. Some are still not open. Yes, we may have lost quite a lot, but our losses are marginal compared to the many dozens of people killed in the Maui fire and the billions of dollars of devastation in flooding elsewhere in this country. Similarly, farm losses across the country are measured not in tens of millions, but in billions. Net income from US farming is expected to drop by $30.5 billion, an 18.2% loss over 2022, which was itself not a good year. I’m sure Vermont is in that estimate, but we only add a bit to the decimal places of that number. And these few horrific numbers barely scrape the surface of loss in the US, with even greater horrors mounting everywhere else in the world. (Can Canada even measure the damages sustained in this year’s fires…)

    These numbers show that we are in the age of the disaster capitalism described by Naomi Klein after she witnessed the response to Katrina. There has always been more income in the breaking of human lives than in maintaining them. In truth, the 20th century surge in disposable products and planned obsolescence was nothing but extracting profits from breakdown. Similarly, our economy was strongest as it pulled itself out of the devastation of World War II. As long as there are resources and cheap labor somewhere, somebody will profit over our loss. What is different now is that nearly resources and cheap labor are being funneled into this economics of disaster with little left to sustain actual lives.

    […]

    We are in disaster capitalism and have been for a long while. I believe that capitalism has always been intrinsically tied to disaster and destruction, whether natural or engineered, but not many people share my views — because my views are from the edge spaces, the bottom and sides of this system. I sit outside and can see things that those dependent on this capitalist system for privilege and wealth do not, or can not. Upton Sinclair’s quip about the inverse relationship between a man’s paycheck and his ability to comprehend any given issue is the duct tape that holds capitalism together in these increasingly disastrous times — increasingly disastrous because of capitalism, whether the result of inadvertent externality or planned waste and breakdown. This system can only survive if enough people refuse to see that its basic function is destruction. Though of course it can also only survive if there are cheap resources and labor to mine for disaster remediation, and we are now entering the stage of late capitalism that has no more cheap things to turn into waste. Capital is feeding on itself, struggling to bring in revenues that can cover its increased costs — costs like fires and floods, scarce resources and a debilitated workforce wracked by disaster. The system needs all the propaganda it can muster to keep telling itself that it is alive and well, keeping those men with dependent paychecks blind to its demise.

    Source: The future earth is already here | resilience

    What is ransom capitalism?

    Gareth Fearn argues, and I absolutely agree, that governments are so captured by neoliberal thinking that some types of companies or sectors are seen as “too big to fail”. This leads to them being bailed out, which is a capitulation to a kind of ‘ransom capitalism’.

    Bailouts are an ideal intervention for a decaying neoliberal politics: they maintain capital flows, rising asset prices and the upwards redistribution of wealth, while supporting the minimum needs of enough of the population to prevent total social breakdown.

    British politicians’ responses to soaring energy prices conform to the bailout consensus. Boris Johnson is promising ‘extra cash’, though leaving it up to his successor to work out the details (Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have so far mostly offered tax cuts). Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, recently proposed an ‘energy furlough scheme’: the government would absorb the cost of rising energy prices and get some of the money back with a windfall tax. Labour soon followed suit, offering a similar cap to energy prices funded through some slightly more creative accounting.

    In both cases, energy companies would receive large amounts of public money (at least £29 billion) to enable them to continue charging their customers sums that many cannot afford. With these proposals following so closely behind the pandemic bailouts, which had the backing of all UK parties, we can see there is broad support for such extraordinary interventions with very little thought being given to the causes of the crisis – beyond criticism of the outgoing prime minister’s personality.

    […]

    There is an underlying assumption that at some point there will be a return to the ‘normality’ of self-regulating markets of private actors. But bailouts without structural change keep us on the path of ever-increasing losses for the public just to sustain the basics of life, while maintaining a failed market system which is not only generating crises but limiting responses to them – as many nations in the Global South have experienced for decades.

    High inflation is not unique to the UK, but the capitulation to the energy companies’ ransom demands seems especially acute here, as is the actual rate of rising costs. France is able to lower prices through its state energy company, Spain and Germany have intervened to reduce the cost of public transport, and many of the proposed measures across Europe involve taking equity in energy companies or stricter regulation. But the UK is too far down the neoliberal rabbit-hole even to countenance such mild social democratic policies.

    Source: Ransom Capitalism | London Review of Books

    What is ransom capitalism?

    Gareth Fearn argues, and I absolutely agree, that governments are so captured by neoliberal thinking that some types of companies or sectors are seen as “too big to fail”. This leads to them being bailed out, which is a capitulation to a kind of ‘ransom capitalism’.

    Bailouts are an ideal intervention for a decaying neoliberal politics: they maintain capital flows, rising asset prices and the upwards redistribution of wealth, while supporting the minimum needs of enough of the population to prevent total social breakdown.

    British politicians’ responses to soaring energy prices conform to the bailout consensus. Boris Johnson is promising ‘extra cash’, though leaving it up to his successor to work out the details (Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have so far mostly offered tax cuts). Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, recently proposed an ‘energy furlough scheme’: the government would absorb the cost of rising energy prices and get some of the money back with a windfall tax. Labour soon followed suit, offering a similar cap to energy prices funded through some slightly more creative accounting.

    In both cases, energy companies would receive large amounts of public money (at least £29 billion) to enable them to continue charging their customers sums that many cannot afford. With these proposals following so closely behind the pandemic bailouts, which had the backing of all UK parties, we can see there is broad support for such extraordinary interventions with very little thought being given to the causes of the crisis – beyond criticism of the outgoing prime minister’s personality.

    […]

    There is an underlying assumption that at some point there will be a return to the ‘normality’ of self-regulating markets of private actors. But bailouts without structural change keep us on the path of ever-increasing losses for the public just to sustain the basics of life, while maintaining a failed market system which is not only generating crises but limiting responses to them – as many nations in the Global South have experienced for decades.

    High inflation is not unique to the UK, but the capitulation to the energy companies’ ransom demands seems especially acute here, as is the actual rate of rising costs. France is able to lower prices through its state energy company, Spain and Germany have intervened to reduce the cost of public transport, and many of the proposed measures across Europe involve taking equity in energy companies or stricter regulation. But the UK is too far down the neoliberal rabbit-hole even to countenance such mild social democratic policies.

    Source: Ransom Capitalism | London Review of Books

    The corrosive nature of captalism

    I used to think there was no chance of the current system of capital-based society ending within my lifetime.

    But now? I’m not so sure. I see influential writers I respect like Seth Godin and (in this case) Warren Ellis talk openly about the harms of capitalism.

    And given the crypto collapse following the pandemic perhaps people are slowly coming to realise there’s more to life than money…

    money

    From a certain perspective, capitalism is the environment into which we are born, and conditions within it are corrosive: we either adapt to those conditions in order to survive — people will always have to be taught how to tend the machines, and it has been said, after all, that humans are the reproductive organs of machines — or build a sturdy environment suit, or we are seriously harmed. Which casts many of us as good little prisoners or effective wasteland scavengers.
    Source: A Suit Of Capitalism | WARREN ELLIS LTD

    Image: Jorge Salvador

    What technology means in late capitalism

    Anyone familiar with Guy Debord's Society of the Spectacle will appreciate this article by Jonathan Crary, author of the short but impressive 24/7 Capitalism.

    Crary's argument is that our current status quo depends on a capital-fuelled extractive mikitary-industriiall complex that cannot be sustained. What comes next can't (isn't likely to look like) just a 'Green New Deal' version of it.

    Any possible path to a survivable planet will be far more wrenching than most recognize or will openly admit. A crucial layer of the struggle for an equitable society in the years ahead is the creation of social and personal arrangements that abandon the dominance of the market and money over our lives together. This means rejecting our digital isolation, reclaiming time as lived time, rediscovering collective needs, and resisting mounting levels of barbarism, including the cruelty and hatred that emanate from online. Equally important is the task of humbly reconnecting with what remains of a world filled with other species and forms of life. There are innumerable ways in which this may occur and, although unheralded, groups and communities in all parts of the planet are moving ahead with some of these restorative endeavors.


    However, many of those who understand the urgency of transitioning to some form of eco-socialism or no-growth post-capitalism carelessly presume that the internet and its current applications and services will somehow persist and function as usual in the future, alongside efforts for a habitable planet and for more egalitarian social arrangements. There is an anachronistic misconception that the internet could simply “change hands,” as if it were a mid-20th-century telecommunications utility, like Western Union or radio and TV stations, which would be put to different uses in a transformed political and economic situation.

    But the notion that the internet could function independently of the catastrophic operations of global capitalism is one of the stupefying delusions of this moment. They are structurally interwoven, and the dissolution of capitalism, when it happens, will be the end of a market-driven world shaped by the networked technologies of the present.

    Of course, there will be means of communication in a post-capitalist world, as there always have been in every society, but they will bear little resemblance to the financialized and militarized networks in which we are entangled today. The many digital devices and services we use now are made possible through unending exacerbation of economic inequality and the accelerated disfiguring of the earth’s biosphere by resource extraction and needless energy consumption.

    Source: The Digital Age is Destroying Us | Literary Hub

    Do NFTs tend towards dystopia?

    At the weekend I visited the Moco Museum with my wife in Amsterdam. It’s the first time I’ve seen an NFT art exhibition. It wasn’t… bad? But, as someone commented when I said as much on social media, the ownership model is kind of irrelevant. It’s the digital art that matters.

    (the animation below is from a video I took of an appropriate Beeple artwork)

    What I think we’re all starting to realise is that for everything to be on the blockchain, we would need to fundamentally change the nature of human interaction. And that change would be toward dystopia.

    In this article, James Grimmelmann, who is a professor at Cornell Law School and Cornell Tech (where he directs the Cornell Tech Research Lab in Applied Law and Technology) explains just this.

    Loosely speaking, there are three kinds of property you could use an NFT to try to control ownership of: physical things like houses, cars, or tungsten cubes; information like digital artworks; and intangible rights like corporate shares.

    By default, buying an NFT “of” one of these three things doesn’t give you possession of them. Getting an NFT representing a tungsten cube doesn’t magically move the cube to your house. It’s still somewhere else in the world. If you want NFTs to actually control ownership of anything besides themselves, you need the legal system to back them up and say that whoever holds the NFT actually owns the thing.

    Right now, the legal system doesn’t work that way. Transfer of an NFT doesn’t give you any legal rights in the thing. That’s not how IP and property work. Lawyers who know IP and property law are in pretty strong agreement on this.

    It’s possible to imagine systems that would tie legal ownership to possession of an NFT. But they’re (1) not what most current NFTs do, (2) technically ambitious to the point of absurdity, and (3) profoundly dystopian. To see why, suppose we had a system that made the NFT on a blockchain legally authoritative for ownership of a copyright, or of an original object, etc. There would still be the enforcement problem of getting everyone to respect the owner’s rights.

    Grimmelmann clarifies in a footnote that just because NFTs might work for art, doesn’t mean they’re appropriate for… well, anything else:

    A lot of the current hype around NFTs consists of the belief that the rest of the world will follow the same rules as NFT art. But of course part of the point of art is that it doesn’t follow the same rules as the rest of the world.
    Source: I Do Not Think That NFT Means What You Think It Does | The Laboratorium

    Challenging capitalism through co-ops and community

    The glossy Instagram lifestyle is actually led by a fraction of a fraction of 1% of the world’s population. Instead of us all elbowing each other out of the way in pursuit of that, this article points to a better solution: co-operation.

    There are two types of economics active in the world right now — which basically means two radically divergent varieties of economic life. The first is economics as most economists and writers see it and talk about it. The second is economics as most people live it.

    Call the first “the top-up.” It’s the economics of competition and asymmetrical knowledge and shareholder value and creative destruction. It’s the dominant system. We know all about the top-up. Tales of the doings of the top-up economy are mainlined into our brains from business articles, financial analysis, stories about our planet’s richest people or corporations or nations. Bezos. Buffett. Gates. Musk. Zuckerberg. The Forbes 400. The Fortune 500. The Nasdaq. The Nikkei. On and on.

    Call the second “the bottom-down.” We don’t hear as much about it because it’s a lot less sexy and a lot more sticky. It involves survival mechanisms and community solidarity and cash-in-hand calculations.

    But it’s the economic system of the global majority, and this makes it the more important of the two.

    […]

    The top-up economic sphere functions like a gated community in which people who have money can pretend that everything they do and have in life is based on merit, and that the communal and cooperative boosts from which they profit are nothing but natural outgrowths of that merit.

    […]

    Change always comes from below — and it is in the bottom-down relationships where growth and egalitarianism can flourish. Every volunteer fire department is a community platform. Every mutually managed water system demonstrates that neighbors can build things when they need each other. Every community-based childcare network or parent-teacher association is a nascent collective. Every civic association, neighborhood or church council, social action network or food pantry gives people a broader perspective. Every collectively run savings and credit association demonstrates that communal trust can give people a leg up.

    Source: Co-ops And Community Challenge Capitalism | Noema

    A hardwired obedience to the capitalist system that we exist within

    I’m not sure where I came across this, but Ian Nesbitt is undertaking a modern pilgrimage on a recently-uncovered medieval route from Southampton to Canterbury.

    He talks about the ‘inner journey’ as well as the actual one-foot-in-front-of-another journey. Sounds interesting, so I’ve added his blog to my feed reader.

    Then there was a pandemic. During that period, Iike many others, I found myself looking inwards and, in the relative stasis of those months, began to question parts of myself that I never questioned before, in particular the drive to progress and keep moving on to the next thing, to keep producing. I began to wonder if that wasn’t just part of my character, so to speak, but actually a hardwired obedience to the capitalist system that we exist within.
    Source: Pilgrimage #1: the adequate step | The Book of Visions

    What if I never change?

    Oliver Burkeman on Jocelyn K. Glei’s Hurrry Slowly is an absolute treat. In particular, he quotes Jim Benson on how we can easily become “a limitless reservoir for other people’s expectations”. I also liked the discussion around the “internalised capitalism” of “clock time”.

    The title comes from an important point that Burkeman makes about so many of our hopes and dreams being based on somehow in the future being a radically different person to who we are now.

    It reminded me of a section in Alain de Botton’s The Art of Travel in which he summarises Seneca by saying that the problem about going somewhere to escape things is that you always take yourself (and your mental/emotional baggage) with you…

    Oliver Burkeman on why we try to control time, how perfectionism holds us back, and the problems with a “when-i-finally” mindset.
    Source: Oliver Burkeman: What if I never change? | Hurry Slowly

    Co-ops and DAOs

    Handy article, especially for those deep in the ‘capitalist realism’ (or neoliberalism) that the author describes.

    Although co-ops and DAOS are both collectively owned and co-determined organizational forms, there are some key differences. Primarily, cooperatives have one-member, one-vote governance. This means that people vote, not dollars. No single member of a cooperative can purchase more power than anyone else.

    While it is possible for DAOs to emulate cooperative governance, it’s more common to observe the easier-to-implement governance pattern of one-token, one-vote, since verifying one’s personhood is still a nascent field in the world of blockchain.

    […]

    From my experiences in the two spaces, I have noticed that DAOs tend to be better at enabling collective ownership at scale, even if their cultural understanding of the rights, responsibilities, and accountability associated with ownership is comparatively underdeveloped. And while cooperatives tend to be less successful in securing funding, they are also more likely, through their sober rejection of capitalist realism, to correctly address the root causes of inequity. Below, I’ll share some of the key takeaways I have gleaned about what DAOs and co-ops can learn from each other.

    Source: What Co-ops and DAOs Can Learn From Each Other

    Opting out of capitalism

    One of the huge benefits of the pandemic has been that it’s allowed people to reflect on their lives. And many people, it seems, realised that their jobs (or work in general) makes them unhappy.

    The lying flat movement, or tangping as it’s known in Mandarin, is just one expression of this global unraveling. Another is the current worker shortage in the United States. As of June, there were more than 10 million job openings in the United States, according to the most recent figures from the Labor Department — the highest number since the government began tracking the data two decades ago. While conservatives blame juiced-up pandemic unemployment benefits, liberals counter that people do want to work, just not for the paltry wages they were making before the pandemic.

    Both might be true. But if low wages were all that’s at play, we would expect to see reluctant workers at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder, and content workers at the top. Instead, there are murmurs of dissent at every rung, including from the inner sanctums of Goldman Sachs, where salaries for investment bankers start at $150,000. According to a leaked internal survey, entry-level analysts at the investment bank report they’re facing “inhumane” conditions, working an average of 98 hours a week, forgoing showers and sleep. “I’ve been through foster care,” said one respondent. “This is arguably worse.”

    Source: Lying Flat': Tired Workers Are Opting Out of Careers and Capitalism | The New York Times

    Virtual brands and ghost kitchens

    This is the next step after ‘ghost kitchens’ — a multitude of virtual brands that basically offer the same thing but packaged differently. As the article explains, the step after this is inevitable: companies like Uber Eats cut out the middleman and open their own ghost kitchens and virtual brands.

    Proponents of digital brands and ghost kitchens often pitch them as a way for chefs to experiment. When you don’t have to lease new space or hire new staff, it becomes less costly to try something new. At the same time, the availability of data about what works, platforms that algorithmically reward success with more success, and the way people search for generic products all create evolutionary pressure in the same direction. It’s a push-pull we’ve seen play out on other platforms. In theory, people are free to try weird things; in practice, most everyone makes wings.
    Source: The Great Wings Rush | The Verge

    You don't hate Mondays, you hate capitalism

    🧠 I Feel Better Now — "Brain chemistry and childhood trauma go a long way toward explaining a person’s particular struggles with mental health, but you could be forgiven for wondering whether there is also something larger at work here—whether the material arrangement of society itself, in other words, is contributing to a malaise that various authorities nevertheless encourage us to believe is exclusively individual."

    😟 Where loneliness can lead — "Totalitarianism uses isolation to deprive people of human companionship, making action in the world impossible, while destroying the space of solitude. The iron-band of totalitarianism, as Arendt calls it, destroys man’s ability to move, to act, and to think, while turning each individual in his lonely isolation against all others, and himself. The world becomes a wilderness, where neither experience nor thinking are possible."

    🙍 The problem is poverty, however we label it — "If your only choice of an evening is between skipping dinner or going to sleep in the cold before waking up in the cold, then you are not carefully selecting between food poverty and fuel poverty, like some expense-account diner havering over the French reds on a wine list. You are simply impoverished."

    👩‍💻 Malware found on laptops given out by government — "According to the forum, the Windows laptops contained Gamarue.I, a worm identified by Microsoft in 2012... The malware in question installs spyware which can gather information about browsing habits, as well as harvest personal information such as banking details."

    🏭 Turn off that camera during virtual meetings, environmental study says — "Just one hour of videoconferencing or streaming, for example, emits 150-1,000 grams of carbon dioxide... But leaving your camera off during a web call can reduce these footprints by 96%."


    Quotation-as-title by unknown. Image via top-linked article.

    If you have been put in your place long enough, you begin to act like the place

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