Posts tagged capitalism

Capitalism & Slavery

This book does an excellent job of showing exactly how the development of British capitalism was dependent on slavery.┬áThe author is Eric Williams, an obscure PhD student at the time of writing, but later in life to become Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago. Williams goes through his evidence in systematic detail, examining British economic and political development in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and showing the role of slavery at every turn. Great banking families like the Barclays and the Barings got their start as slave traders. Insurance… Read More

The only possible system

Capitalism, we are told, is the only possible system. Anything else is impractical dreaming. Capitalism delivers prosperity, stability, growth… except when it doesn’t. The credit crunch is nothing new – remember the Asia currency crisis, the Russian debt crisis, Black Monday, Black Friday, Black Wednesday and all the rest? The March edition of New Internationalist had a nice article summarising the various crises that have hit – they count 45 since the early 1970s, or more than one a year. If we were all living in anarchist communes and I… Read More

“Anarchy” by Errico Malatesta

With the G20 protests engulfing London this week, and anarchy briefly replacing terror as the bogeyman du jour, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at what anarchism is really all about, according to Errico Malatesta, a leading anarchist thinker of the late 19th and early 20th century. Anarchy is a slim book, just 54 pages altogether, of which the first 15 are the translator’s introduction. Malatesta’s style, though, is dense – arguments come thick and fast, but with extreme clarity. Of course, in such… Read More

Consume less, live more!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4OPFl2Kxhs&hl=en&fs=1] From Friends of the Earth, http://www.foei.org/en/get-involved/livemore. Seen originally as a cartoon in New Internationalist, August 2008

The Shock Doctrine

New Left Review 48 carries an interesting review by Michael Hardt (co-author of “Empire”) of Naomi Klein’s new book The Shock Doctrine. Makes me want to read the book. Klein, according to Hardt, draws a parallel between the electric shock therapy of the 1950s and the neoliberal doctrine of economic shock therapy. Electric shocks to the brain were thought to disorient patients and destroy their existing psychic structures, creating a clean slate from which to build up a new, more amenable personality. The same is now being done on an… Read More

Marxism 2007: Day Four (Sunday)

“Cuba after Castro” was a great talk, with one small problem: it wasn’t about Cuba after Castro. The speaker, Mike Gonzalez, focused most of his talk on Cuba under Castro, and spent only the last few minutes talking about Cuba after Castro. It wasn’t the only speech at this conference to disregard its advertised topic, however, and the effect was not fatal. I learned a lot about the way power is wielded in Cuba, and the achievements and failures of Castro. It was probably the most balanced analysis I have… Read More

The crime of compassion

Sometimes I think I have become so cynical that I am no longer capable of feeling true outrage. I have come to expect fascism, brutality and heartlessness from my elected leaders as a matter of course. But every now and then, something comes along that makes my jaw hit the floor once again. Today was one such time, and the jaw-dropper for me was learning, courtesy of the excellent SchNews bulletin, that distributing food to the homeless is now illegal in some US cities. SchNews focuses on the case of… Read More

How we used to be

You may remember the vague speculation in my earlier Cutty Sark post about community being traditionally much more important to human beings than competition, and therefore being something we always reach back to even though contemporary society has more or less destroyed it. Well, as luck would have it I was beginning the somewhat daunting task of reading Chris Harman’s free e-book “A People’s History of the World” (all 728 pages of it) and discovered that he covered some of the same ground. In the prologue (yes, OK, I’m a… Read More

“Capitalism Works”

When I talk about workers, particularly in poor countries, being exploited by large companies, a frequent retort is, “Well, the people want to work there. Who are you to tell them they can’t? Would they be better off if the factory closed down and they were out of work?” A good example of this argument can be found in a highly irritating article in the University of Chicago’s student newspaper, which complains about a proposed student boycott of Coke on the grounds that it’s subjecting workers in Colombia to inhumane… Read More