robertogreco + excess   34

Left is the New Right, or Why Marx Matters - CounterPunch.org
“The American obsession with electoral politics is odd in that ‘the people’ have so little say in electoral outcomes and that the outcomes only dance around the edges of most people’s lives. It isn’t so much that the actions of elected leaders are inconsequential as that other factors— economic, historical, structural and institutional, do more to determine ‘politics.’ To use an agrarian metaphor, it’s as if the miller was put forward as determining the harvest.

The American left has had an outsider role in this politics from the inception of the nation as a capitalist oligarchy to the improbable cobbling together of the idea that popular democracy can exist alongside concentrated wealth. If the powers that be wanted popular democracy, they could stop impeding its creation. The ‘first mover’ advantage, that once gained, power is used to close the door behind it, has be understood for centuries in the realms of commerce and politics.

As was probably the intent, the 2016 presidential outcome was used by the more persistent powers to divide the American left. The neoliberal left moved to a reflexive nationalism tied through class interests to state-corporatism in defense of the realm. Carnival barker Trump, an American political archetype for at least two centuries, was portrayed as a traitor to capitalist democracy— from the left. Emptied of analytical content, left affiliation was made a ‘brand.’

In more constructive terms, Bernie Sanders reached into red state territory to facilitate a class-based left political response to the failures of capitalism by promoting social welfare programs with historical precedent in the New Deal. Tied to an analytically sophisticated effort to shift power down and across political and economic hierarchies, something akin to popular democracy is in the process of confronting its long-mythologized ghost.

[image]

Graph: It is hardly incidental that as wealth has been concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, its power to affect political outcomes has been codified through official determinations like Citizens United. While the domination of politics by concentrated wealth may seem new, it ties to the conception of the U.S. as a capitalist oligarchy where rich, white, slavers determined political outcomes. The Senate, the U.S. ‘House of Lords,’ wasn’t popularly elected until the twentieth century. Source: inequality.org.

Part of the challenge of addressing this politics comes through dubious parsing of ‘the political’ from its objects. If an agent of the government tells people when to wake, what to wear, what they can and can’t say and what to spend their time doing, that is authoritarian. When an employer determines these, it is considered ‘free choice.’ In the neoliberal frame, economics is only political to the extent that elected leaders promote specific economic policies.

Even with the realization of late that money determines political outcomes, the distribution of income and wealth is considered economics while the use that these are put to in the political arena is considered politics. The unvirtuous circle of capitalism, where concentrated income and wealth are used to affect political outcomes so as to increase concentrated income and wealth, ties economics to politics through the incompatibility of capitalism with democracy.

Modern electoral politics replaces this relationship of economics to politics with color-coded branding— red or blue, where ‘our guy’ is what is good and true about America. The other party exists to pin ‘our guy’ into a corner that prevents him / her from acting on this goodness. Barack Obama was prevented from enacting his ‘true’ progressive agenda by Republican obstructionists. Donald Trump is being persecuted by deep-state, snowflake, socialists.

Left unaddressed and largely unconsidered has been the persistence of class relations. The rich continue to get richer, the rest of us, not so much. For all of the claims of political dysfunction, when it comes to bailouts and tax cuts, wars and weaponry and policing and surveillance, these opposition parties can be counted on to come together to overcome their differences. Likewise, when it comes to the public interest, partisan differences are put forward to explain why nothing is possible.

[image]

Graph: as illustrated above, in recent decades the greatest gains in the relative wealth of the rich came during the terms of liberal Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Lest this seem— or be framed as, incidental, the liberal Democrat’s support for the mechanism of this enrichment, Wall Street, explains the relationship. In economic terms, Democrats have been the party of the radical right— financialized, neoliberal capitalism, since the inception of neoliberalism in the 1970s. Source: inequality.org.

The unitary direction of this government response in favor of the rich may seem accidental, a byproduct of ‘our system’ of governance. In fact, the defining political ideology of the last half-century has been neoliberalism, defined here as imperialist, state-corporatism, controlled by oligarchs. And contrary to assertions that neoliberalism is a figment of the imagination of the left, its basic tenets were codified in the late 1980s under the term ‘Washington Consensus.’

What the Washington Consensus lays out is the support role that government plays for capitalism. Its tenets are short and highly readable. They provide a blueprint that ties Democratic to Republican political programs since the 1980s. They also tie neoliberalism to the Marxist / Leninist conception of the capitalist state as existing to promote the interests of connected capitalists. Left out, no doubt by accident (not), was / is a theory of class struggle.

When Donald Trump passed tax cuts that disproportionately benefited the rich and corporations, this was the Washington Consensus. When Barack Obama put ‘market mechanisms’ into Obamacare and promoted the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), this was the Washington Consensus. When Bill Clinton tried to privatize Social Security, this was the Washington Consensus. The alleged ‘opposition parties’ have been working together from a single blueprint for governance for four decades.

The intended beneficiary of this unified effort is ‘capitalism,’ conceived as multinational corporations operating with state support to promote a narrowly conceived national interest. An ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) clause was included in NAFTA when Bill Clinton promoted and signed it. An even more intrusive ISDS clause was included in the TPP when Barack Obama promoted it. The intent of these ISDS clauses is to give the prerogative of governance (sovereign power) to corporations.

It is no secret in Washington and outside of it that multinational corporations pay few, if any, taxes. The logic of this is two sided. On the one side, the neoliberal / Washington Consensus premise is that corporations can put the money to better use than government. The other is that the role of government is to support capitalism, not to constrain it. Barack Obama’s consequence-free bailouts of Wall Street, often at the expense of ordinary citizens, possessed an internal logic when considered through this frame.

An historical analog can be found in the relationship of the East India Company to the British empire. The East India Company drew financial, tactical and military support from the British monarchy as its global reach made it a key institution of imperial expansion. Its economic ties gave it a depth and breadth of reach that military occupation alone couldn’t achieve. Centuries later, Mr. Obama made this point when he argued that the TPP was crucial to ‘countering China.’

The rise of neoliberalism in the 1970s was intended to address the alleged failures of the New Deal. By the late 1980s, this new-old ideology had been codified as the Washington Consensus. Its proponents amongst national Democrats morphed into the New Democrats / DLC just as the Soviet Union was coming unwound. The twin ‘failures’ of the New Deal and communism led to the revival of dogmatic capitalism that saw the state as an appendage of capitalist institutions. Bill Clinton was more likely than not sincere when he declared that ‘the era of big government is over.’

The conflation of Democrats with ‘the left’ that first emerged to counter the New Deal in the 1930s, persisted through the 1990s and the 2000s because it was useful to both political parties. Republicans were the party of business while Democrats claimed to be the party of the people. While the New Deal was in place and from a liberal perspective, the Democrats did support a limited conception of the public interest domestically. However, by the time that Bill Clinton entered office, the public interest had been redefined to mean corporate interests.

This tension can be seen more clearly in the fight over NAFTA, which Republicans had been unable to pass before Mr. Clinton entered office. Mr. Clinton was able to use his liberal bona fides— and the fact that he wasn’t a Republican, to bring over just enough Democrats in congress to get NAFTA passed. He went on to divide bourgeois Democrats from the broader Democratic constituency through the use of race and class dog whistles. In this sense, he presaged Donald Trump. The net effect was to successfully divide the Democrat’s constituency by class.

Before Bill Clinton, the anti-NAFTA fight had a clear class component. Organized labor had lined up against the free-trade agenda that was being promoted by Reaganite Republicans. Through his rhetoric of ‘fair’ capitalism and a ‘level playing field,’ Mr. Clinton gave a liberal patina to an utterly retrograde, pre-Great Depression, form of capitalism. With no apparent irony, the Washington Consensus applied a Marxist / Leninist conception of the capitalist state without any pretense of it mitigating capitalist excess.

The clutter of party politics creates … [more]
us  politics  democrats  republicans  marxism  karlmarx  class  capitalism  neoliberalism  2019  roburie  billclinton  barackobama  donaldtrump  oligarchy  ideology  ronaldreagan  canon  labor  organizing  left  nafta  freetrade  inequality  freedom  liberty  washingtonconsensus  1980  1970s  1908s  leninism  excess  recessions  markets  government  tpp 
26 days ago by robertogreco
Liberation Under Siege | Liberación Bajo Asedio on Vimeo
"Following the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, which successfully fended off imperial aggression by the United States, the United States imposed an economic trade blockade as punishment, which has continued to be in place for the past 60 years. The US has undertaken repeated attempts to plunder the Cuban people through genocidal measures, which has been met with the staunch resilience of the Cuban people, who continue to have faith and confidence in the socialist principles of the Revolution, despite the blockade materially impacting their everyday lives.

“Liberation Under Siege” examines the material conditions cultivated by the destructive blockade through the experiences and stories of everyday Cubans, and reclaim the imperialist narrative pushed by the United States through billions of dollars.

Filmed, Directed, and Edited by:

Priya Prabhakar
Reva Kreeger
Sabrina Meléndez"
cuba  2019  excess  us  foreignpolicy  interviews  education  healthcare  medicine  socialism  food  highereducation  highered  politics  blockade  embargo  poverty  equality  economics  race  gender  sexuality  priyaprabhakar  revakreeger  sabrinameléndez  video  small  slow  consumerism  materialism  capitalism  less  environment  values  success  health  imperialism  media  propaganda  resourcefulness  trade 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Opinion | The New ‘Dream Home’ Should Be a Condo - The New York Times
"This is the New American Home for 2018. It’s a sprawling monstrosity of more than 10,690 feet (the lot encompasses 65,340 square feet).

The New American Home should really be this condo. There are six units. One unit here can have just 1,800 square feet."



"The first New American Home that N.A.H.B. built, in Houston in 1984, was 1,500 square feet and cost $80,000. By 2006, at the peak of the housing bubble, the N.A.H.B. home – a lakeside McMansion in Florida with a tri-level kitchen island and a waterfall off the master suite – was over 10,000 square feet and listed for $5.3 million in what is today one of the nation’s foreclosure capitals, Orlando.

That 1984 project was the smallest; square footage hasn’t dipped below 2,200 since 1985. The 2018 version, also in Florida, is “Tuscan”-inspired and is close to 11,000 square feet, with eight bathrooms and both an elevator and a car elevator in the garage. The 2019 version, to be unveiled soon, is 8,000 square feet and has an “inner sanctum lounge” and a view of the Vegas strip.

The N.A.H.B. house may be meant to highlight trends, but they’re not necessarily the trends homeowners want (and certainly not what most people need). Instead, they’re what builders, kitchen and bath manufacturers and real estate agents would like to sell them: Think cathedral ceilings, granite countertops, gift-wrapping rooms and, more recently, “smart” appliances like a refrigerator that can text you when you’re low on milk and eggs.

Many builders will tell you that though these houses are large, they are more efficient – even that they have a small carbon footprint. But this is like bragging about the good gas mileage of an S.U.V. While a 10,000-square-foot house built today uses less energy than a 10,000-square-foot house built a decade ago, a home of this size requires a phenomenal amount of energy to run. (And most likely has an S.U.V. or two in the garage.)

Does anyone need 10,000 square feet to live in?

Families are getting smaller, not larger. The average American household shrank by 30 percent from 1948 and 2012, to 2.55 people from 3.67. Yet houses have ballooned as family sizes have contracted.

The average new home today is 1,000 square feet larger than in 1973. The square footage of living space per person has increased to 971, from 507 – a 92 percent increase.

What if the next New American Home was a condo? And what if there was a new American dream, not of auto-dependent suburbia, but walkable urbanism?

In the Cloverdale749 building designed by Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects in Los Angeles, six families are housed – luxuriously – in a 10,500-square-foot building that has little else in common with the N.A.H.B. home.

No space is wasted here – it may not have multiple walk-in closets or “air-conditioned storerooms,” but it has high ceilings and roof decks.

Larger homes use more resources, typically require longer commutes, come with more expensive utility bills, and often contribute to more sedentary lifestyles (which in turn results in increased rates of conditions like obesity and heart disease).

The way the Cloverdale building is designed effectively reduces the need for (and costs of) heating and cooling, and increases natural light and circulation.

Thanks to its central location (and Los Angeles’s serious commitment to expanding public transit), it reduces the need for driving, too. Building this way has the highest potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in cities. The N.A.H.B. home, in contrast, is entirely self-contained, with no regard for neighbors or neighborhood. It might as well have a moat.

This approach to housing is not only socially isolating, it’s no longer sustainable.

Our way of building homes and neighborhoods lost the plot a long time ago.

Homes like those the N.A.H.B. is promoting ignore the changing nature of families and the imminent crisis in housing for the elderly – not to mention climate change, which we have no hope of combatting without a true reimagining of the American dream. Enter the Green New Deal: If it recognized the link between building more infill housing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it would be even greener. Taking a strong stand against the primacy of the single family home (and the zoning that encourages it), especially the 10,000-square-foot ones, would represent a bold move toward combating climate change."
allisonarieff  housing  us  sustainability  2019  transportation  density  urban  urbanplanning  urbanism  excess  efficiency  energy  society 
march 2019 by robertogreco
The Equality Trust | Working to improve the quality of life in the UK by reducing economic inequality
[See also:
(book) "The Spirit Level"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spirit_Level_(book)
The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better[1] is a book by Richard G. Wilkinson and Kate Pickett,[2] published in 2009 by Allen Lane. The book is published in the US by Bloomsbury Press (December, 2009) with the new sub-title: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger.[3] It was then published in a paperback second edition (United Kingdom) in November 2010 by Penguin Books with the subtitle, Why Equality is Better for Everyone.[4]

The book argues that there are "pernicious effects that inequality has on societies: eroding trust, increasing anxiety and illness, (and) encouraging excessive consumption".[5] It claims that for each of eleven different health and social problems: physical health, mental health, drug abuse, education, imprisonment, obesity, social mobility, trust and community life, violence, teenage pregnancies, and child well-being, outcomes are significantly worse in more unequal countries, whether rich or poor.[1] The book contains graphs that are available online.[6]

In 2010, the authors published responses to questions about their analysis on the Equality Trust website.[7] As of September 2012, the book had sold more than 150,000 copies in English.[8] It is available in 23 foreign editions.

"The Spirit Level authors: why society is more unequal than ever"
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/09/society-unequal-the-spirit-level

[follow-up book] "The Inner Level: How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone’s Wellbeing"
https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/188607/the-inner-level/
Why is the incidence of mental illness in the UK twice that in Germany? Why are Americans three times more likely than the Dutch to develop gambling problems? Why is child well-being so much worse in New Zealand than Japan? As this groundbreaking study demonstrates, the answer to all these hinges on inequality.

In The Spirit Level Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett put inequality at the centre of public debate by showing conclusively that less-equal societies fare worse than more equal ones across everything from education to life expectancy. The Inner Level now explains how inequality affects us individually, how it alters how we think, feel and behave. It sets out the overwhelming evidence that material inequalities have powerful psychological effects: when the gap between rich and poor increases, so does the tendency to define and value ourselves and others in terms of superiority and inferiority. A deep well of data and analysis is drawn upon to empirically show, for example, that low social status is associated with elevated levels of stress, and how rates of anxiety and depression are intimately related to the inequality which makes that status paramount.

Wilkinson and Pickett describe how these responses to hierarchies evolved, and why the impacts of inequality on us are so severe. In doing so, they challenge the conception that humans are innately competitive and self-interested. They undermine, too, the idea that inequality is the product of 'natural' differences in individual ability. This book sheds new light on many of the most urgent problems facing societies today, but it is not just an index of our ills. It demonstrates that societies based on fundamental equalities, sharing and reciprocity generate much higher levels of well-being, and lays out the path towards them.

"Does inequality cause suicide, drug abuse and mental illness?"
https://www.economist.com/books-and-arts/2018/06/14/does-inequality-cause-suicide-drug-abuse-and-mental-illness

"“The Inner Level” seeks to push that debate forward, by linking inequality to a crisis of mental health. This time the authors’ argument focuses on status anxiety: stress related to fears about individuals’ places in social hierarchies. Anxiety declines as incomes rise, they show, but is higher at all levels in more unequal countries—to the extent that the richest 10% of people in high-inequality countries are more socially anxious than all but the bottom 10% in low-inequality countries. Anxiety contributes to a variety of mental-health problems, including depression, narcissism and schizophrenia—rates of which are alarming in the West, the authors say, and rise with inequality.

Manifestations of mental illness, such as self-harm, drug and alcohol abuse and problem gambling, all seem to get worse with income dispersion, too. Such relationships seem to apply within countries as well as between them. Damaging drug use is higher in more unequal neighbourhoods of New York City, in more unequal American states and in more unequal countries. The authors emphasise that it is a person’s relative position rather than absolute income that matters most. A study of 30,000 Britons found that an individual’s place in the income hierarchy predicted the incidence of mental stress more accurately than absolute income did. And in America, relative income is more closely linked to depression than absolute income. It is not enough to lift all boats, their work suggests, if the poshest vessels are always buoyed up more than the humblest.

The fact that relative status matters so much is a result of human beings’ intrinsically social nature, Ms Pickett and Mr Wilkinson argue. Group interaction and co-operation have been an essential component of humanity’s evolutionary success; indeed, the authors say, its social nature helped drive the growth of human brains. Across primates, they write, the size of the neocortex—a part of the brain responsible for higher-level cognitive functions—varies with the typical group size of a species. Living in complex social groups is hard cognitive work. Survival requires an understanding of roles within the social hierarchy, and intuition of what others are thinking. Thus people are necessarily sensitive to their status within groups, and to social developments that threaten it.

Such hierarchies are found in all human societies. But as inequality rises, differences in status become harder to ignore. There is more to be gained or lost by moving from one rung on the ladder to another. And however much some maintain that disparities in pay-cheques do not correspond to differences in human worth, such well-meaning pieties feel hollow when high-rollers earn hundreds or thousands of times what ordinary folk take home. Money cannot buy everything, but it can buy most things. The steeper the income gradient, the less secure everyone becomes, in both their self-respect and their sense of the community’s esteem.

And so people compensate. They take pills, to steel their nerves or dull the pain. Some cut themselves. Some adopt a more submissive posture, avoiding contact with others. Yet such withdrawal can feed on itself, depriving recluses of the social interaction that is important to mental health, undermining relationships and careers and contributing to economic hardship.

Others respond in the opposite way, by behaving more aggressively and egotistically. Studies of narcissistic tendencies showed a steep increase between 1982 and 2006, the authors report; 30% more Americans displayed narcissistic characteristics at the end of the period than at the beginning. Scrutiny of successive American cohorts found a progressive rise in those listing wealth and fame as important goals (above fulfilment and community). Over time, more people cited money as the main motivation for attending college (rather than intellectual enrichment).

Domineering responses to anxiety are associated with loss of empathy and delusions of grandeur. Thus highly successful people often display narcissistic or even psychopathic behaviour. In surveys, the rich are generally less empathetic and more likely to think they deserve special treatment than others. Modern capitalism, the authors suggest, selects for assertiveness, for a lack of sentimentality in business and comfort in sacking underlings, and for showy displays of economic strength. From the top to the bottom of the income spectrum, people use conspicuous consumption and other means of enhancing their image to project status.

The least secure are often the most likely to exaggerate their qualities. For example, countries with lower average life-expectancy tend to do better on measures of self-reported health; 54% of Japanese say they are in good health compared with 80% of Americans, though the Japanese live five years longer on average. Whereas 70% of Swedes consider themselves to be above-average drivers, 90% of Americans do. Such figures cast declamations of America’s greatness, and the politicians who make them, in a new light."

"The Inner Level review – how more equal societies reduce stress and improve wellbeing"
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jun/20/the-inner-level-review ]

[via: https://www.instagram.com/p/BmquJ7Ngvme/ ]
equality  inequality  society  trust  anxiety  well-being  stress  mentalhealth  uk  economics  community  socialmobility  class  education  drugs  drugabuse  health  violence  illness  consumption  hierarchy  horizontality  mentalillness  status  self-harm  gambling  depression  narcissism  schizophrenia  relativity  excess  cooperation  egotism  selfishness  empathy  dunning–krugereffect  greatness  politics  lifeexpectancy  japan  sweden  us  driving  capitalism  latecapitalism  fame  fulfillment  money  motivation  colleges  universities  exceptionalism  assertiveness  aggressiveness  richardwilkinson  katepickett  growth  erichfromm 
august 2018 by robertogreco
A Cluttered Life: Middle-Class Abundance - YouTube
"(Visit: http://www.uctv.tv) Follow a team of UCLA anthropologists as they venture into the stuffed-to-capacity homes of dual income, middle-class American families in order to truly understand the food, toys, and clutter that fill them. Series: "A Cluttered Life: Middle-Class Abundance" [11/2013] [Humanities] [Show ID: 25712]"

[via: https://twitter.com/xraytext/status/999109157612646406 ]

[See also: Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors
http://www.ioa.ucla.edu/press/life-at-home

and "Americans can spend a majority of their time in a few spaces in their home and still want large homes"
https://legallysociable.com/2018/06/03/americans-can-spend-a-majority-of-their-time-in-a-few-spaces-in-their-home-and-still-want-large-homes/

via: https://twitter.com/amandakhurley/status/1003283050782810113 ]
us  consumerism  consumption  hoarding  possessions  excess  2013  children  toys  accumulation  shopping  families  homes  housing  abundance  ethnography 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Silicon Valley Is Turning Into Its Own Worst Fear
"Consider: Who pursues their goals with monomaniacal focus, oblivious to the possibility of negative consequences? Who adopts a scorched-earth approach to increasing market share? This hypothetical strawberry-picking AI does what every tech startup wishes it could do — grows at an exponential rate and destroys its competitors until it’s achieved an absolute monopoly. The idea of superintelligence is such a poorly defined notion that one could envision it taking almost any form with equal justification: a benevolent genie that solves all the world’s problems, or a mathematician that spends all its time proving theorems so abstract that humans can’t even understand them. But when Silicon Valley tries to imagine superintelligence, what it comes up with is no-holds-barred capitalism."



"Insight is precisely what Musk’s strawberry-picking AI lacks, as do all the other AIs that destroy humanity in similar doomsday scenarios. I used to find it odd that these hypothetical AIs were supposed to be smart enough to solve problems that no human could, yet they were incapable of doing something most every adult has done: taking a step back and asking whether their current course of action is really a good idea. Then I realized that we are already surrounded by machines that demonstrate a complete lack of insight, we just call them corporations. Corporations don’t operate autonomously, of course, and the humans in charge of them are presumably capable of insight, but capitalism doesn’t reward them for using it. On the contrary, capitalism actively erodes this capacity in people by demanding that they replace their own judgment of what “good” means with “whatever the market decides.”"



"
It’d be tempting to say that fearmongering about superintelligent AI is a deliberate ploy by tech behemoths like Google and Facebook to distract us from what they themselves are doing, which is selling their users’ data to advertisers. If you doubt that’s their goal, ask yourself, why doesn’t Facebook offer a paid version that’s ad free and collects no private information? Most of the apps on your smartphone are available in premium versions that remove the ads; if those developers can manage it, why can’t Facebook? Because Facebook doesn’t want to. Its goal as a company is not to connect you to your friends, it’s to show you ads while making you believe that it’s doing you a favor because the ads are targeted.

So it would make sense if Mark Zuckerberg were issuing the loudest warnings about AI, because pointing to a monster on the horizon would be an effective red herring. But he’s not; he’s actually pretty complacent about AI. The fears of superintelligent AI are probably genuine on the part of the doomsayers. That doesn’t mean they reflect a real threat; what they reflect is the inability of technologists to conceive of moderation as a virtue. Billionaires like Bill Gates and Elon Musk assume that a superintelligent AI will stop at nothing to achieve its goals because that’s the attitude they adopted. (Of course, they saw nothing wrong with this strategy when they were the ones engaging in it; it’s only the possibility that someone else might be better at it than they were that gives them cause for concern.)

There’s a saying, popularized by Fredric Jameson, that it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism. It’s no surprise that Silicon Valley capitalists don’t want to think about capitalism ending. What’s unexpected is that the way they envision the world ending is through a form of unchecked capitalism, disguised as a superintelligent AI. They have unconsciously created a devil in their own image, a boogeyman whose excesses are precisely their own.

Which brings us back to the importance of insight. Sometimes insight arises spontaneously, but many times it doesn’t. People often get carried away in pursuit of some goal, and they may not realize it until it’s pointed out to them, either by their friends and family or by their therapists. Listening to wake-up calls of this sort is considered a sign of mental health.

We need for the machines to wake up, not in the sense of computers becoming self-aware, but in the sense of corporations recognizing the consequences of their behavior. Just as a superintelligent AI ought to realize that covering the planet in strawberry fields isn’t actually in its or anyone else’s best interests, companies in Silicon Valley need to realize that increasing market share isn’t a good reason to ignore all other considerations. Individuals often reevaluate their priorities after experiencing a personal wake-up call. What we need is for companies to do the same — not to abandon capitalism completely, just to rethink the way they practice it. We need them to behave better than the AIs they fear and demonstrate a capacity for insight."
ai  elonmusk  capitalism  siliconvalley  technology  artificialintelligence  tedchiang  2017  insight  intelligence  regulation  governance  government  johnperrybarlow  1996  autonomy  externalcontrols  corporations  corporatism  fredericjameson  excess  growth  monopolies  technosolutionism  ethics  economics  policy  civilization  libertarianism  aynrand  billgates  markzuckerberg 
december 2017 by robertogreco
A Manifesto – Evergreen Review
"We devise and concoct ways to make each other beg for the most meager of resources. Death, which should simply be something that comes to us, is instead an instrument of dominion and torture. We have perfected instruments of death-making. We extend such deathery even to our social systems, creating ways to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable among us will die because the rest of us don’t believe they deserve the methods and technologies by which we keep ourselves alive."



"And yet, even in our imagination, we cannot conceive of a world where abundance is enough. We can literally create anything we want and live without want, but we still want more.

In this imagined new world, we are still at war with others, crisscrossing space to divide it up into sectors and grids, cutting up even empty air into parcels the way we do patches of land. We make the vast and incomprehensible universe malleable by exerting our history of dispossession onto it. Our thirst for possession is as boundless as the universe we inhabit. Even our imagination is limited by avarice. This is why, dear aliens, I feel no real pain or sadness at the thought of what you might do to us. The sorrows and suffering we have inflicted upon each other, the degradations, the humiliations, the pain, the contrasts in resources and the creation of need—nothing in the universe can match what we have already done."



"Like the utopias they bring forth, manifestos are birthed in the possibility of failure. They succeed not in the audacity of hope but in the audacity of despair. What is the present and the future we need to keep imagining? What is a utopia? What is the nature of our utopias? Do we still dare to have any?"



"No one is outside ideology. Yet, too many Americans believe they are, and prefer to focus on how they feel: a particularly American problem is the preponderance of affect in politics. But when it comes to politics—to anything that calls itself justice—we should only pay attention to two questions: what do people need, and how do we get them what they need without having to beg? Yet our political programs are neither initiated nor sustained by the will to redistribute our ridiculously ample resources. Rather, we obsess over whether the people who receive them are worthy of our care. We ask questions we never ask the well-off: Are you deserving? Do you have the proper moral character? If we give you this money, how do we know you won’t spend it on cigarettes? If you buy food, will it be junk food or apples? But wait, how can we be sure you won’t blow it all on lobster?"



"If you want our help, then make us weep for you.

In that, the left has failed miserably. The left can barely articulate what it stands for without weeping for forgiveness for its own existence. This manifesto is an attempt to instantiate the left. How do we learn to be the left fearlessly, without either shame or arrogance?"



"No doubt, dear aliens, you will have found in your exploration of our debris or our archives (who knows in what state you encounter us) rants from leftists about “identity” or “identitarianism.” It has been difficult to convince this kind of activist that a true left finds a way to think about getting people what they need without erasing the material realities of their lives, but without capitulating to the essentializing of gender, race, ethnicity, and sexuality. Yet, even now, in most left organizations, it is women who do the emailing and the cleaning up, while the menfolk spout on about the revolution."



"A true left abjures philanthropy, which only enables the concentration of wealth by providing the super wealthy with fantastic tax breaks. A true left fights for a society where housing is not a matter of investment linked to the survival of an economy but simply a right. It fights for a world where prisons don’t exist to extract life from those whose failings, real or imagined, we cannot confront and whom we would rather shut away forever."



"
Such focus on Trump’s xenophobia ignores the fact that the millions of undocumented in this country became such under Bill Clinton. Two pieces of immigration legislation, in 1994 and 1996, made many simple misdemeanours into felonies only for non-citizens, and created the three- and ten-year bars on re-entry, which pushed undocumented people, now afraid of not being allowed to return if they should leave the country, into the shadows. Arguably, Trump has fine-tuned such mechanisms, but the tools for expulsion and removal were left there by Democratic administrations and are simply being sharpened and honed by this one."



"Resistance, like the heart, is a muscle, and needs to be constantly exercised. Instead, it’s become a buzzword. It’s made people think that somehow they’re soldiers now, fighting on every front. Ongoing work gets rebranded as “resistance” as if magically, due to the presence of Voldemort, everything changed overnight. The press plays up a collective sense of impending doom, making it seem like our lives are now unfolding like a scene from The Deathly Hallows."



"To liberals and lefties, this August 2016 exchange was evidence of Trump’s madness and his dangerously childish naivete. But in fact Trump’s response revealed the idiocy of nuclear weaponry and exposed the irrationality at the heart of American foreign policy: that somehow there is nothing wrong about possessing nuclear weapons."



"Neoliberalism is in fact capitalism made familiar, which is why I describe it as the endless privatisation of everyday life. It survives on vectors of intimacy, transforming capitalism into an emotional matter rather than an economic one, even though its incursions and devastations are deadly and long-lasting precisely because of the way it serves to insinuate itself into the machinations of the daily world."



"This is not to wax nostalgic about “neighborhoods” or to imply that everyone needs to be an “ethical gentrifier,” but to point out that the economic structure in relation to something as basic as housing is entirely set up to benefit the banking and finance industry. Meanwhile, Chicago resolutely and proudly refers to itself as a city of neighborhoods. The question is: who gets to belong, who gets phased out?"



"how neoliberalism operates upon various vectors of intimacy, and how that intimacy cuts across lines of class, race, and gender with varying effects."



"Over and over, Chicago and other cities fetishise their “neighborhood feel,” creating “community” out of displacement, demanding that the displaced then return only to satisfy the cravings the new residents refuse to acknowledge or to perform the jobs beneath the newcomers’ pay grade. Home ownership is what Americans, gay and straight, are expected to do as married people and the intimacy of married life brutally occludes the covert and hidden intimacies of transactions that keep underground economies flourishing.

Neoliberalism seduces us with its intimacy. Intimacy with our workplace, our occupation, the idea of having to “love” what you do: our work becomes our lover. Neoliberalism feeds off our sense of constant economic precariousness by convincing us that we must never demand more from the state or corporations, that what we label “sharing” economies are somehow community-based endeavors. And so people everywhere distribute their labor almost for free, in workplaces that are described as “mobile” and to which they “commute” as free agents. But these are in fact far more onerous than regular workplaces, and are mostly unregulated enterprises, and offer neither benefits nor protections (the field of “left publishing", including this publication, consists almost entirely of such labor).

But what they do is put us in touch with our own labor as something we control, birth, operate. We work with the illusion of control, but we are compelled, all the while, to cede it. We believe that having no control over the circumstances of our lives yields an intimacy that we cannot get elsewhere.

Neoliberalism survives as well as it does because its machinations allow people to express dissent even as they in fact only echo support for its worst effects. During Occupy, it was incredible to watch so many take to the streets, finally critical of how capitalism had wreaked its havoc. But as I wound my way through the massive crowds and their signs, it also became evident that the palpable anger was not so much at the system but that the system had failed them. Signs everywhere said, in effect, “I did the right thing for years, and I was still screwed over.” Everywhere, there was an anger at the ruling classes, certainly, but I couldn’t help but recall yet again those words about America’s “temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” The subsequent bailouts only confirmed a widespread sense that if we just fix the system, we can make it all better, when the system itself is the problem, and “fixing” it only serves to concentrate resources and power in the hands of fewer and fewer people."



"Capitalism flows unimpeded."



" Western analysts take their own social freedoms for granted—average Americans have, for many decades, left their parental homes in their late teens—but when it comes to other and what they fondly imagine as “more traditional” cultures, would prefer it if everyone just stayed transfixed in quaint old ways, please.

Neoliberalism fills the immediate needs of people in ways that other systems cannot—because, yes, that’s how capitalism functions, by dismantling our existing structures, and creating a need for new ones that provide the illusion of stability but in fact cause more harm. Consider schooling, at least in the US. We first eviscerated public education by defunding it, except in the wealthiest districts, and then created a demand for (exploitative, ruinous, substandard) … [more]
yasminnair  2017  society  manifestos  left  love  compassion  justice  socialjustice  utopia  ideology  charity  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  government  excess  abundance  hunger  healthcare  gender  race  racism  sexism  homophobia  neoliberalism  capitalism  feminism  systems  sytemsthinking  socialism  communism  migration  immigration  donaldtrump  barackobama  hillaryclinton  resistance  future  climatechange  neighborhoods  gentrification  chicago  privatization  class  classism  poverty  sexuality  intersectionality  compromise  change  organization  economics  power  control 
october 2017 by robertogreco
the past is another country (again) | sara hendren
From Bill McKibben’s introduction to the 2010 reissue of E. F. Schumacher’s Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered:
“[One of Jimmy Carter’s] first acts in office was to get rid of twenty limousines, and then don a cardigan for a fireside chat where he discussed the ‘permanent energy shortage’ the nation faced. Toward the end of his presidency, he gave one of his most famous speeches, diagnosing a ‘crisis of confidence’ in the country and attacking materialism as the cause: ‘In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption,’ he warned. ‘Human identity is no longer defined by what one does but by what one owns.’ And, at least at first, people agreed—his sagging poll numbers jumped. Indeed, there was a mainstream audience for this kind of thinking: That year the sociologist Amitai Etzioni reported to Carter that 30 percent of Americans were ‘pro-growth,’ 31 percent were ‘anti-growth,’ and 39 percent were ‘highly uncertain.’ Read those numbers again—a plurality of Americans were ‘anti-growth.’”

McKibben is marveling at “anti,” but I’m frankly just as nonplussed and a little wistful about such a high register of admittance to “highly uncertain.”
billmckibben  sarahendren  2017  2010  jimmycarter  materialism  capitalism  energy  uncertainty  consumption  us  amitaietzioni  sustainability  growth  environment  anti-growth  energycrisis  politics  history  excess 
august 2017 by robertogreco
crap futures — Back to nature
"We live on a remote island - mountainous, mid-Atlantic, still heavily forested and pretty wild - and for that reason nature sometimes sneaks into our otherwise technology-centred work. It is hard not to think local when you live in a place like this. We’re neither farmers nor pioneers - except in the sense that resident aliens on this island are few - but lately our reading has got us thinking about ancient paths and rural places. We’ll discuss the paths today and save most of the farm talk for a future post.

Paths v roads

In his 1969 essay ‘A Native Hill’, Wendell Berry - the American writer, farmer, activist, and ‘modern Thoreau’ - makes a useful distinction between paths and roads:
The difference between a path and a road is not only the obvious one. A path is little more than a habit that comes with knowledge of a place. It is a sort of ritual of familiarity. As a form, it is a form of contact with a known landscape. It is not destructive. It is the perfect adaptation, through experience and familiarity, of movement to place; it obeys the natural contours; such obstacles as it meets it goes around. A road, on the other hand … embodies a resistance against the landscape. Its reason is not simply the necessity for movement, but haste. Its wish is to avoid contact with the landscape. … It is destructive, seeking to remove or destroy all obstacles in its way.


Aside from conversation as usual, the reason we are talking about Berry is the arrival of a new film, Look & See, and a new collection of his writing, The World-Ending Fire, edited by Paul Kingsnorth of Dark Mountain Project fame. Berry and Kingsnorth, along with the economist Kate Raworth, were on BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week recently chatting about the coming apocalypse and how it might best be avoided. It is a fascinating interview: you can actually hear Berry’s rocking chair creaking and the crows cawing outside the window of his house in Port Royal, Kentucky.

The normally optimistic Berry agrees somewhat crankily to read ‘the poem that you asked me to read’ on the programme. ‘Sabbaths 1989’ describes roads to the future as going nowhere: ‘roads strung everywhere with humming wire. / Nowhere is there an end except in smoke. / This is the world that we have set on fire.’ Berry admits that this poem is about as gloomy as he gets (‘blessed are / The dead who died before this time began’). For the most part his writing is constructive: forming a sensual response to cold, atomised modernity; advocating for conviviality, community, the commonweal.

Paul Kingsnorth talks compellingly in the same programme about transforming protest into action, although in truth no one walks the walk like Berry. Kingsnorth says: ‘We’re all complicit in the things we oppose’ - and never were truer words spoken, from our iPhones to our energy use. In terms of design practice, there are worse goals than reducing our level of complicity in environmental harm and empty consumerism. Like Berry, Kingsnorth talks about paths and roads. He asks: ‘Why should we destroy an ancient forest to cut twelve minutes off a car journey from London to Southampton? Is that a good deal?’

It’s a fair question. It also illustrates perfectly what Berry was describing in the passage that started this post: the difference between paths that blend and coexist with the local landscape, preserving the knowledge and history of the land, and roads that cut straight through it. These roads are like a destructive and ill-fitting grid imposed from the centre onto the periphery, without attention to the local terrain or ecology or ways of doing things - both literally (in the case of energy) and figuratively.

Another book we read recently, Holloway, describes ancient paths - specifically the ‘holloways’ of South Dorset - in similar terms:
They are landmarks that speak of habit rather than of suddenness. Like creases in the hand, or the wear on the stone sill of a doorstep or stair, they are the result of repeated human actions. Their age chastens without crushing. They relate to other old paths & tracks in the landscape - ways that still connect place to place & person to person.


Holloways are paths sunk deep into the landscape and into the local history. Roads, in contrast, skip over the local - collapsing time as they move us from one place to the next without, as it were, touching the ground. They alienate us in our comfort.

Here in Madeira there are endless footpaths broken through the woods. Still more unique are the levadas, the irrigation channels that run for more than two thousand kilometres back and forth across the island, having been brought to Portugal from antecedents in Moorish aqueduct systems and adapted to the specific terrain and agricultural needs of Madeira starting in the sixteenth century.

Both the pathways through the ancient laurel forests and the centuries-old levadas (which, though engineered, were cut by hand and still follow the contours and logic of the landscape) contrast with the highways and tunnels that represent a newer feat of human engineering since the 1970s. During his controversial though undeniably successful reign from 1978 to 2015 - he was elected President of Madeira a remarkable ten times - Alberto João Jardim oversaw a massive infrastructure program that completely transformed the island. Places that used to be virtually unreachable became accessible by a short drive. His legacy, in part, is a culture of automobile dependency that is second to none. The American highway system inspired by Norman Bel Geddes’ (and General Motors’) Futurama exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair almost pales in comparison to Jardim’s vision for the rapid modernisation of Madeira.

But when you walk the diesel-scented streets of the capital, or you drive through the holes bored deep into and out of towering volcanic mountains to reach the airport - and even when you think back in history and imagine those first settlers sitting in their ships as half the island’s forest burned, watching the dense smoke of the fires they lit to make Madeira favourable to human habitation - it’s hard not to think what a catastrophically invasive species are human beings.

Bespoke is a word we use a lot. In our vocabulary bespoke is not about luxury or excess - as it has been co-opted by consumer capitalism to suggest. Instead it is about tailored solutions, fitted to the contours of a particular body or landscape. Wendell Berry insists on the role of aesthetics and proportionality in his approach to environmentalism: the goal is not hillsides covered in rows of ugly solar panels, but an integrated and deep and loving relationship with the land. This insistence on aesthetics relates to the ‘reconfiguring’ principles that inform our newest work. The gravity batteries we’ve been building are an alternative not only to the imposed, top-down infrastructure of the grid, but also to the massive scale of such solutions and our desire to work with the terrain rather than against it.

Naomi Klein talked about renewable energy in these terms in an interview a couple of years ago:
If you go back and look at the way fossil fuels were marketed in the 1700s, when coal was first commercialized with the Watt steam engine, the great promise of coal was that it liberated humans from nature … And that was, it turns out, a lie. We never transcended nature, and that I think is what is so challenging about climate change, not just to capitalism but to our core civilizational myth. Because this is nature going, ‘You thought you were in charge? Actually all that coal you’ve been burning all these years has been building up in the atmosphere and trapping heat, and now comes the response.’ … Renewable energy puts us back in dialog with nature. We have to think about when the wind blows, we have to think about where the sun shines, we cannot pretend that place and space don’t matter. We are back in the world.


In a future post we will talk about the related subject of sustainable agriculture. But speaking of food - the time has come for our toast and coffee.
2017  crapfutures  wendellberry  paths  roads  madeira  bespoke  tailoring  audiencesofone  naomiklein  sustainability  earth  normanbelgeddes  albertojoãojardim  levadas  infrastructure  permanence  capitalism  energy  technology  technosolutionsism  1969  obstacles  destruction  habits  knowledge  place  placemaking  experience  familiarity  experientialeducation  kateraworth  paulkingsnorth  darkmountainproject  modernity  modernism  holloways  nature  landscape  cars  transportation  consumerism  consumercapitalism  reconfiguration  domination  atmosphere  environment  dialog  conviviality  community  commonweal  invasivespecies  excess  humans  futurama  ecology  canon  experientiallearning 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Bad Taste - YouTube
"You often hear it said that taste is all in the eye of the beholder - and that there is no such thing as 'bad taste'. We think there is - and that bad taste is often down to excess; caused by trauma."
style  taste  badtaste  excess  overcompensation  schooloflife  deprivation  trauma  sentimentality  gaudiness  design  aesthetics  economics  appreciation  desperation  humans  understanding 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Interview: Toy Story That Time Forgot star Wallace Shawn on the series anti-decadence message
"HitFix: With your writing as sort of a constant presence in your life, have the things that compel you to act – have they changed over the years?

Wallace Shawn: Well it’s hard to say. I certainly would be excited by the thought of a good part or a good project and I suppose that’s always been true. I mean obviously I have a craving for a bourgeois lifestyle or middle class lifestyle and so it’s exciting to be asked to do some work and be paid for it because that enables me to lead the bourgeois lifestyle that I can’t seem to wean myself away from. So yes, people... Yes, I mean what can I say? Working is something that I appreciate.

HitFix: Do you feel like you’re more drawn to that, as you say, bourgeois lifestyle now than you were 20 years ago? Was the balance at one point being drawn more to the art or to something else I guess?

Wallace Shawn: No. I’ve always really wanted to – when I say "wanted" I’ve always had an addiction to a bourgeois lifestyle and I don’t live very differently from the way I’ve always lived. It’s just a question of can you pay the bills or not. The bills themselves, give or take inflation what have you, are not tremendously different from one year to the next in my life. And my life is not terribly different.

HitFix: Do you ever stand back and look at sort of the themes of the "Toy Story" movies and the franchise and how that relates to consumerism and your own feelings on that culture?

Wallace Shawn: Well the film shows a middle class household. Well, Andy’s household, and Bonnie’s household is also a middle class household, so there’s definitely in this short film there is a – the young boy that Bonnie goes to visit seems to be a bit decadent and to have an outrageous number of toys, more than he’s using and there’s a certain statement there that this is excessive. And he doesn’t even play with those toys because in the film he’s watching video games or playing video games.

HitFix: And do you think that this is a message that kids get out of it as well or is it just something that you can take away yourself?

Wallace Shawn: No I think that a kid would take away the same thing I do. There’s something disturbing about the scene in that boy’s house and of course the whole idea of playing which is so emphasized in all of the films is kind of about finding satisfaction in your own imagination, which is helped along by these material objects, toys. But the basic idea is that you can have quite a lot of fun based on your own fantasies and, in fact, in this particular short film that is contrasted with the world of the violent toys, who get fun only out of crushing each other and conquering each other. The little Pixar gang is much more gentle and innocent and they get pleasure from fantasy."
2014  wallaceshawn  via:maxfenton  interviews  toystory  children  consumerism  imagination  toys  oneandonly  glvo  possessions  excess  consumption  play  fantasy  materialism  waste 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Boston Review — David Bollier and Jonathan Rowe: The 'Illth' of Nations
"Current beliefs about economic freedom emerged in West during 17&18th centuries…entrepreneurs were challenging the remnants of feudalism, & private property stood as a symbol of freedom against arrogant royal rule. …yesterday’s answer became today’s problem. Today it is private property, as embodied in corporation, that has become arrogant…solution is not all-encompassing state—authoritarian “we” that has been the reactive refuge of Left. Regulation there must be; but there must also be a different kind of property—common property—that exists alongside the market, providing a buffer against its excesses & producing what the corporate market can’t.

As market culture intrudes ever-deeper into daily life—from public spaces to the inner lives of kids— there is a yearning for space that is beyond the reach of buying & selling. People might not use the word “commons;” but they seek increasingly what it represents—community, freedom, & the integrity of natural & social processes."
economics  anarchism  marxism  via:javierarbona  davidbollier  freedom  jonathanrowe  illth  growth  property  perspective  commons  privateproperty  we  autoritarianism  left  politics  policy  commonproperty  excess  scarcity  abundance  future  wealth  culture  society  progress  community  intefrity  social  distribution  markets  marketfundamentalism  local  gdp  work  prosperity  well-being  affluence  income  incomegap  redistribution  taxes  taxation  wealthdistribution  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
On why, or the magic of coffee - Bobulate
"A question of why

Why is a six-year old so curious? Partly practical. Because she is not tall enough to know all the answers, she must ask good questions. To see over the edge of the cup would be to see the answer. As this isn’t possible, observation and questioning are her only tool.

Access less

Access can take away why. More practical is less practical sometimes, and being tall and connected and well-read and traveled can dull the edges of a good question. If questions aren’t coming easily, make yourself less so. Take something away. Give something away. Be less tall. Remove the excess, and you might find what remains is a good question.

And that is magic."
lizdanzico  curiosity  children  magic  imagination  questions  access  knowledge  practical  excess  information  wonder  wonderdeficit  from delicious
january 2011 by robertogreco
When Less Was More - Opinionator Blog - NYTimes.com
"The popularity of simpler living made it possible for one American developer, William Levitt, to realize the prewar dream of the European modern architects to use industrialization for housing. During the war, Levitt had become an expert in mass-producing homes for shipyard workers in Virginia. When it ended, Levitt and his sons created a prototype 750-square-foot, one-floor house—with a living room, kitchen/dining area, two small bedrooms, a bathroom and an unfinished “expansion attic”—to fit on a 60 x 100 foot lot. Set on concrete slabs like those at the shipyards, the new houses were built quickly and cheaply on a sort of assembly line, with pre-cut lumber and nails shipped from the Levitts’ factories in California...
houses  housing  modernism  architecture  design  levittown  consumption  consumerism  americandream  excess  homes  history 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Email ‘n Walk - Compose Emails While On The Move | Apple iPhone Apps
"Email ‘n Walk allows you to compose important email messages while on the go. Just open the application and start typing. The subject and message fields appear over the top of a instant video feed via your iPhone’s camera. This way you can type AND walk without worrying about what may be in front of you."
iphone  applications  excess  continuouspartialattention  distraction  email  watchwhereyou'rewalking  csiap  ios 
may 2009 by robertogreco
The Way We Live Now - Kindergarten Cram - NYTimes.com
"Jean Piaget famously referred to “the American question,” which arose when he lectured in this country: how, his audiences wanted to know, could a child’s development be sped up? The better question may be: Why are we so hellbent on doing so? Maybe the current economic retrenchment will trigger a new perspective on early education, something similar to the movement toward local, sustainable, organic food. Call it Slow Schools." There it is. I'm not the only one using the 'slow schools' phrase.
sloweducation  slow  slowschools  learning  kindergarten  children  schooling  us  society  excess  speed  academics  tcsnmy  homeschool  unschooling  deschooling  competition  wisdom  lcproject  homework 
may 2009 by robertogreco
Movie Review - Nursery University - First Preschool, Then the Ivy League - NYTimes.com
" If you thrill to the sight of a preschool teacher bringing an investment banker to his knees, then “Nursery University” is for you. Following five Manhattan families as they navigate the cutthroat competition for elite nursery school spots for their pampered progeny, this knowing documentary from Marc H. Simon and Matthew Makar shows that, in New York City at least, exclusivity breeds contentment.

The movie’s educators and “application consultants” ($4,000 for seven meetings, thank you very much) may debunk the belief that these schools are essential for the Ivy League bound, but try telling that to the frazzled parents. Anxiously speed-dialing for applications and preparing for the all-important family interviews (“Tell them you like the New York Times crossword puzzle,” one father jokingly advises his winsome toddler), otherwise sane adults succumb to anger and frustration."
film  education  excess  competition  children  parenting  schools  schooling  nyc  preschool  documentary 
may 2009 by robertogreco
Architecture of Bling | varnelis.net
"Take a look at this table of 15 skyscrapers that are on hold due to the economic "crisis." Many of these are quite curvy, giving the impression that they are dancing or swaying in the wind. Now first of all, this conceit seems rather pathetic: skyscrapers don't dance and they don't sway in the wind, so why should they look like they do?
kazysvarnelis  architecture  design  bling  excess  green  crisis  boom  flash  skyscrapers 
march 2009 by robertogreco
In the lap of luxury, Paris squirms - International Herald Tribune
"Some French intellectuals want to go much further, calling for the death of the entire luxury industry as a sort of national ritual of purification. "Since the ancient Greeks, luxury goods have always been stamped with the seal of immorality," said Gilles Lipovetsky, a sociologist who has written several books about consumerism. "They represent waste, the superficial, the inequality of wealth. They have no need to exist." ... President Nicolas Sarkozy, formerly known as "President Bling-Bling" ... and the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair hosted a conference of political leaders and Nobel Prize-winning economists to find ways to instill moral values into the global economy. The old financial order had been "perverted" by "amoral" and uncontrolled capitalism, Sarkozy said, deploring the fact that, "the signs of wealth count more than wealth itself." He praised the "return of the state" as a regulator of capitalist excess."
wealth  society  france  austerity  simplicity  slow  excess  capitalism  materialism  values  morality  politics  nicolassarkozy  crisis  consumption  luxury  credit  markets  modesty 
january 2009 by robertogreco
Op-Ed Columnist - A Date With Scarcity - NYTimes.com [via: http://liftlab.com/think/laurent/2008/11/07/politics-is-cool-again/]
"In the next few years, the nation’s wealth will either stagnate or shrink. The fiscal squeeze will grow severe. There will be fiercer struggles over scarce resources, starker divisions along factional lines. The challenge for the next president will be to cushion the pain of the current recession while at the same time trying to build a solid fiscal foundation so the country can thrive at some point in the future. We’re probably entering a period, in other words, in which smart young liberals meet a stone-cold scarcity that they do not seem to recognize or have a plan for. In an age of transition, the children are left to grapple with the burdens of their elders."
babyboomers  boomers  change  generations  excess  scarcity  us  nytimes  society  culture  politics  2008  elections  barackobama  davidbrooks 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Is 190 Bowery the Greatest Real-Estate Coup of All Time? -- New York Magazine
"The building at 190 Bowery is a mystery: a graffiti-covered Gilded Age relic, with a beat-up wooden door that looks like it hasn’t been opened since La Guardia was mayor. A few years ago, that described a lot of the neighborhood, but with the Bowery Hotel and the New Museum, the Rogan and John Varvatos boutiques, 190 is now an anomaly, not the norm. Why isn’t some developer turning it into luxury condos? Because Jay Maisel, the photographer who bought it 42 years ago for $102,000, still lives there, with his wife, Linda Adam Maisel, and daughter, Amanda. It isn’t a decrepit ruin; 190 Bowery is a six-story, 72-room, 35,000-square-foot (depending on how you measure) single-family home."
nyc  housing  homes  excess  art  architecture  design  photography  realestate  interiors 
september 2008 by robertogreco
How to Live With Just 100 Things - TIME
"100 Thing Challenge, a grass-roots movement in which otherwise seemingly normal folks are pledging to whittle down their possessions to a mere 100 items."

[via: http://www.kottke.org/remainder/08/06/15881.html ]
via:kottke  materialism  consumption  simplicity  minimalism  neo-nomads  nomads  possessions  excess  culture  trends  clutter  organization  ownership 
june 2008 by robertogreco
The business of parenting (kottke.org)
"parenting is like employee management; give people the resources they need and then let them do their jobs...Wall of Death designed to entice parents to coat their entire house in cheap white plastic"
parenting  kottke  babies  culture  society  business  consumerism  consumption  children  learning  fear  marketing  money  excess  books  toys  psychology  safety 
march 2008 by robertogreco
Pankaj Mishra: As Sarkozy gropes for grand concepts the might of Asia looms over the west | Comment is free | The Guardian
"Morin: materialism & individualism have shattered older forms of community, replacing them with soulless anonymity...to reform itself, modern civilisation should seek quality of life rather than mere quantity, mindless accumulation of things."
civilization  materialism  france  politics  geopolitics  world  international  east  china  global  globalization  competition  consumerism  consumption  excess  qualityoflife  life 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Eating Off the Table :: Inside Higher Ed :: Jobs, News and Views for All of Higher Education
"test last semester showing that on 2 days when trays weren’t offered, food and beverage waste dropped 30-50%...amounts to about 1,000 pounds of solid waste & 112 gallons of liquid waste saved on a weekly basis, according to the college."
colleges  universities  food  waste  education  economics  markets  behavior  society  excess  scarcity  sustainability  green  environment 
january 2008 by robertogreco
The Dangerous Wealth of the Ivy League
"Higher education is increasingly a tale of two worlds, with elite schools getting richer and buying up all the talent"
academia  universities  colleges  competition  education  us  money  finance  wealth  excess  equality  access  ivyleague 
december 2007 by robertogreco
hitherto.net » Blog Archive » Facebook - the “Hotel California” of Social Networks
"for the people I really care about, I have (or should have) far more direct contact with them - phone calls, personal emails, real-life meetings; all of which render the fairly cursory, sterile experience of a Facebook exchange irrelevant"
facebook  socialnetworks  web2.0  overload  socialsoftware  socialnetworking  relationships  email  relevance  excess  networks  networking  ux  design 
october 2007 by robertogreco
Birthdays Without Pressure
"If you think children’s birthday parties are getting out of control, you’ve come to the right place. We want to raise awareness of this problem and offer alternatives for parents and kids who want birthdays without pressure. We are a small group of
education  kids  philanthropy  parenting  family  children  sustainability  excess  simplicity  consumer  consumerism  consumption  materialism  society  activism  change  birthdays 
september 2007 by robertogreco
Public Agenda Research Reports: Squeeze Play
"The report finds Americans are generally positive toward higher education, but there is evidence that this satisfaction is beginning to erode." see also: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bal-op.highered06jul06,0,7461065.story
education  college  universities  tuition  change  reform  perception  economics  price  parenting  consumption  consumer  schools  colleges  alternative  lcproject  excess  accountability 
july 2007 by robertogreco
Is America's love affair with college on the rocks? - baltimoresun.com
"Public Agenda found that 76 percent of parents are more than a little worried about tuition bills, and only 44 percent believe students get their money's worth." - private K-12 schools are likely to this happen as well
education  college  universities  tuition  change  reform  perception  economics  price  parenting  consumption  consumer  schools  colleges  alternative  lcproject  excess  accountability 
july 2007 by robertogreco
Fast track toward pro sports starts younger | csmonitor.com
"As sports becomesa measure of success in America, young athletes are training ever harder."
youth  culture  teens  children  parenting  sports  society  economics  excess 
october 2006 by robertogreco

related tags

1908s  1970s  abundance  academia  academics  access  accountability  accumulation  activism  aesthetics  affluence  aggressiveness  ai  albertojoãojardim  allisonarieff  alternative  americandream  amitaietzioni  anarchism  anger  anti-growth  anxiety  applications  appreciation  architecture  art  artificialintelligence  assertiveness  atmosphere  audiencesofone  austerity  autonomy  autoritarianism  aynrand  babies  babyboomers  badtaste  barackobama  behavior  bespoke  beverlypark  billclinton  billgates  billmckibben  birthdays  bling  blockade  books  boom  boomers  business  canon  capitalism  cars  change  charitableindustrialcomplex  charity  chauvinism  chicago  children  china  civilization  class  classism  climatechange  clutter  college  colleges  commonproperty  commons  commonweal  communism  community  compassion  competition  compromise  consumer  consumercapitalism  consumerism  consumption  continuouspartialattention  control  conviviality  cooperation  corporations  corporatism  crapfutures  credit  crisis  csiap  cuba  culture  curiosity  darkmountainproject  davidbollier  davidbrooks  democracy  democrats  density  depression  deprivation  deschooling  design  desperation  destruction  dialog  distraction  distribution  documentary  domination  donaldtrump  dreams  driving  drugabuse  drugs  dunning–krugereffect  earth  east  ecology  economics  education  efficiency  egotism  elections  elonmusk  email  embargo  empathy  energy  energycrisis  environment  equality  erichfromm  ethics  ethnography  exceptionalism  excess  existence  experience  experientialeducation  experientiallearning  externalcontrols  facebook  fame  familiarity  families  family  fantasy  fear  feminism  filetype:mov  film  finance  flash  food  foreignpolicy  france  fredericjameson  freedom  freetrade  fulfillment  futurama  future  gambling  gaudiness  gdp  gender  generations  gentrification  geopolitics  global  globalization  globalthinking  glvo  governance  government  greatness  green  grief  growth  grudges  habits  happiness  health  healthcare  hierarchy  highered  highereducation  hillaryclinton  history  hoarding  holloways  homes  homeschool  homework  homophobia  hope  horizontality  houses  housing  humanity  humankind  humans  humility  hunger  ideology  illness  illth  imagination  immigration  imperialism  income  incomegap  inequality  information  infrastructure  insight  intefrity  intelligence  interiors  international  intersectionality  interviews  invasivespecies  ios  iphone  ivyleague  japan  jimmycarter  johnperrybarlow  jonathanrowe  josémujica  justice  karlmarx  katepickett  kateraworth  kazysvarnelis  kids  kindergarten  knowledge  kottke  kyotoaccord  labor  landscape  latecapitalism  lcproject  learning  left  leninism  less  levadas  levittown  libertarianism  liberty  life  lifeexpectancy  living  lizdanzico  local  losangeles  love  luxury  madeira  magic  manifestos  marketfundamentalism  marketing  markets  markzuckerberg  marxism  materialism  meaning  media  media:video  medicine  memory  mentalhealth  mentalillness  migration  minimalism  modernism  modernity  modesty  money  monopolies  morality  motivation  nafta  naomiklein  narcissism  nature  neighborhoods  neo-nomads  neoliberalism  networking  networks  nicolassarkozy  nomads  normanbelgeddes  nyc  nytimes  obstacles  oligarchy  oneandonly  optimism  organization  organizing  overcompensation  overload  ownership  parenting  paths  paulkingsnorth  perception  permanence  perspective  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  philosophy  photography  place  placemaking  play  policy  politics  possessions  poverty  power  practical  preschool  price  privateproperty  privatization  priyaprabhakar  progress  propaganda  property  prosperity  psychology  qualityoflife  questions  race  racism  realestate  recessions  reconfiguration  redistribution  reform  regulation  relationships  relativity  relevance  republicans  resistance  resourcefulness  revakreeger  richardwilkinson  roads  roburie  ronaldreagan  sabrinameléndez  safety  sarahendren  scarcity  schizophrenia  schooling  schooloflife  schools  self-destruction  self-harm  selfishness  sentimentality  sexism  sexuality  shopping  siliconvalley  simplicity  skyscrapers  slow  sloweducation  slowschools  small  sobriety  social  socialism  socialjustice  socialmobility  socialnetworking  socialnetworks  socialsoftware  society  speed  sports  status  stress  struggle  style  success  suffering  sustainability  sweden  systems  sytemsthinking  tailoring  taste  taxation  taxes  tcsnmy  technology  technosolutionism  technosolutionsism  tedchiang  teens  time  toys  toystory  tpp  trade  transportation  trauma  trends  trust  tuition  uk  uncertainty  understanding  universities  unschooling  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  uruguay  us  utopia  ux  values  via:javierarbona  via:kottke  via:maxfenton  video  violence  wallaceshawn  washingtonconsensus  waste  watchwhereyou'rewalking  we  wealth  wealthdistribution  web2.0  well-being  wendellberry  wisdom  wonder  wonderdeficit  work  world  yasminnair  youth 

Copy this bookmark:



description:


tags: