what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Sketches of a new world? - part IV of the series

My recent posts won’t have made a great deal of sense to those who have come to the blog for the first time (you can actually read each year’s posts as an E-book – by going to appropriate line of the list in "new material" the right-hand corner of the blog).
Even my regular readers, however, would probably find a recap useful….

I’m writing a text entitled “Dispatches to the Next Generation” which, in confessional mode, tries to make sense of the mess which my generation has made of things……
I am, of course, well aware that thousands of books have been written about the global crisis - but almost all have one simple defect – they attribute blame to other people.
I start, instead, from the spirit which infused a 1978 book called “The Seventh Enemy” (by R Higgins) which listed 6 global enemies- then seen as “the food crisis”; the “population explosion”; scarcity; environmental degradation; nuclear threat; and scientific technology. The seventh enemy was….ourselves….our moral blindness and political inertia…Another such rare book is Danny Dorling’s hugely underrated Injustice (2011) which identified 5 “social evils” – elitism, exclusion, prejudice, greed and despair – and explores the myths which sustain them. Unusually, the argument is that we are all guilty of these evils and of sustaining these myths......

There is a further problem about the literature about the global crisis – which is that a lot of it identifies the problem as the financial bubble which exploded ten years ago and fails to do justice to other issues and to the other voices which were issuing strong warnings from the 1970s……It’s only in the past year that people have been realizing that this crisis is deeper and goes back longer…..

The book at the moment has an odd structure – since it’s made up of posts triggered by my reading of the past decade…..and, as I’ve got deeper into the editing process, I’ve realized that I need to be more disciplined in the selection of key texts which have shaped “our thinking” over the past 60 years… ..And, in this, I’ve been helped by these two diagrams from the Commons in Transition people – one called the “Current Capitalism Paradigm”, the second “Beyond Capitalism”. Last week I presented an improved version of the first diagram which contained hyperlinks to authors who gave good analyses of the various problems identified about the current capitalism paradigm….and a later post gave additional detail on these important writers

Now it is time to look at some of the key texts which appeared after the crisis but once it had sunk in that this crisis was not going away.
Of course, any such list is highly arbitrary – I have tried to offer an all-too-brief justification for most of the choices. The texts are in chronological order....

New Capitalism? – the transformation of work; K Doogan (2009) A good academic take…..

The Spirit Level – why more equal societies almost always do better; Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett (2009). The first really powerful blast against the ruling consensus on greed

Them and Us; Will Hutton (2010) – the third of Hutton’s books about Britain should be adopting a European rather than US model of capitalism was weaker on alternatives and failed to mention a lot of relevant work.

23 Things they don’t tell you about Capitalism; Ha Choon-Wang (2010). The first closely argued book against the conventional economic wisdom

The Enigma of Capital; David Harvey (2010) Puts the crisis in proper historical and economic context although a bit too technical for my taste..

Humanising the Economy; John Restakis (2010) An excellent treatment of a more cooperative vision

The Global Minotaur – America, the true origins of the financial crisis and the future of the world economy; Yanis Varoufakis (2011) One of the few economists on the list and, quite simply, the best on the subject….click the title and you get the entire book!!

The Strange Non-Death of NeoLiberalism; Colin Crouch (2011) The first of a wave of books to explore why, far from dying, neoliberalism was even stronger…Crouch is a political scientist but not the easiest of reads.

Injustice – why social inequality persists – David Dorling (2011) Quite excellent (see opening para above) treatment from a prolific geographer

The Future of Work – what it means for individuals, markets, businesses and governments; David Bollier (2011) A good sound treatment by someone prominent in the P2P movement

Beyond the Corporation; David Erdal (2011) Inspiring story of an entrepreneur who passed his business to the workers..

Misrule of Experts? The Financial Crisis as Elite Debacle M Moran et al (2011) a rare essay which
Goes beyond the common explanation of the crisis as accident, conspiracy or calculative failure and frames the crisis differently as an elite political debacle

The Capitalism Papers – Fatal Flaws of an Obsolete System; Jerry Mander (2012). Highly readable analysis from a great American journalist

Debt and Neo-Feudalism; Michael Hudson (2012) – one of a series of papers where this prominent and radical economist spells out his view of financial capitalism – which can also be found in his blog. A joint article on the rentier aspect of the crisis is here…Also have a look at this 2012 discussion - how finance capitalism leads to debt servitude

Owning our Future – the emerging ownership revolution; Marjorie Kelly (2012) Another excellent text on the cooperative approach

The New Few; or a very British Oligarchy; Frederick Mount (2012). A surprising attack on the system from one of Margaret Thatcher’s advisers

New Spirits of capitalism? Crises, justifications and dynamics; ed Paul du Gay, Glenn Morgan (2013) 
This book is a collection of papers from organizational and management theorists who analyse the 1999 book by French theorists..

Austerity – the history of a dangerous idea; Mark Blyth (2013) A political economy treatment – and surpasses and updates Varoufakis.  

Buying Time – the delayed crisis of democratic capitalism; Wolfgang Streeck (2013) Highly readable critique from a German sociologist

Cooperative enterprise building in a better world; Terry McDonald (2013). Sorry if I’m overdoing this subject – but it is so important and so neglected in discussion….

The Entrepreneurial State; M Mazzucato (2013). A rare and powerful justification of the role of the state

The Locust and the Bee: Predators and Creators in Capitalism’s Future; Geoff Mulgan (2013) surprisingly bloodless and lacking a bibliography

Perfect Storm; Tim Morgan (2013). A good treatment by an international consultant

Does Capitalism have a Future? Immanuel Wallerstein, Michael Mann, Craig Calhoun (2013)
I came across this very recently….I’m not sure if I missed much – but with such a title and set of authors, it has to be listed

End of capitalism? Michael Mann (2013) Substantial academic essay from a historical sociologist which summarises the author's contribution to the previous book

Democratic Wealth (2014) – being a little E-book of Cambridge and Oxford University bloggers’ takes on the crisis

Rebalancing Society – radical renewal beyond left, right and center; Henry Mintzberg (2014) who is my favourite management guru – for the bluntness of his writing…In a famous 2000 HBR article he warned that 1989 and other socio-economic changes were creating a dangerous imbalance.

Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism; David Harvey (2014). Book can be downloaded by googling the title. Harvey is a famous Marxist geographer

Civic Capitalism (2014) a short paper from the interesting SPERI unit at Sheffield University

Renewing Public Ownership – making space for a democratic economy (2014) reviewed here

Crisis without End - the unravelling of western prosperity: Andrew Gamble (2014). A political scientist who has analysed neo-liberalism since the 1970s (google the phrase and you will be able to download a very helpful analysis he did as long ago as 1979!) This is probably the best book on the crisis

The future of work; Jacob Morgan (2014). A useful overview – if a bit too American in its spirit!

Economics of the 1% - how mainstream economics serves the rich, obscures reality and distorts policy; John F Weeks (2014). Clearly written – and overdue – critique which should be on everyone’s list of alternative textbooks 

Reinventing Organisations; Frederic Laloux (2014) – a strange sort of book (which can be downloaded in full from the link) redolent of the American 1990s’ style of Peter Senge et al who promised a more liberating type of organization.

Shifts and Shocks – what we’ve learned, and still have to, from the financial crisis; Martin Wolf (2014) – with accompanying power point presentation. Although Wolf was an apologist for globalization, he is as clear and objective economist as that breed is capable of producing..

Laudato-Si – the Papal Encyclical (2015). A summary is available here. Its entire 184 pages can be read here

Rise of the Robots; Martin Ford (2015). I’m told this is one of the key writers on this fashionable topic

17 Contradictions and the end of capitalism; David Harvey (2015) the entire book can be downloaded by simply googling the title.

An update of Sheldon Wolin’s 2008 book about how modern capitalism is undermining democracy

Sociology, Capitalism, Critique; Dora, Lessenich and Rosa (2015 – translated from 2009 German original). My posts are, of necessity, too anglo-saxon so I am delighted to include this reference.

A New Alignment of Movements? D Bollier (2015) How the thinking of the  “platform commons” people has moved on since 2011

The Butterfly Defect – how globalization creates systemic risks and what to do about it; Ian Goldin and Mike Mariathasan (2015)  I actually don’t know anything about this book but the theme is an important one

Change Everything – creating an Economy for the Common Good; Christian Felber (2015 English – 2010 German). I’m not impressed with this book at all – too simplistic and doesn’t reference the relevant literature but it seems to have encouraged some European groups…..

Commons Transition (2015) a curious book from the Commons in Transition people which is frankly a bit of a scissors and paste job from various projects including one in Ecuador….

Post Capitalism – a guide to our Future; Paul Mason (2015) a best-seller but a bit of a curate’s egg from a journalist whose basic thesis is spelled out here….

Inventing the Future – Postcapitalism and a world without work; N Srnicek and Williams (2015) can be read it for yourself in full here - with a good review of both above books here. The authors seem to be sociologists.

Cyberproletariat – global labour in the digital vortex; Nick Dyer-Witheford (2015) Thought provoking book from a Canadian media/political economy academic

The Next System Report – political possibilities for the 21st Century (2015) The opening essay from a fascinating American project whose latest output is this great series of papers

Rethinking Capitalism – economics and policy for sustainable and inclusive growth; Michael Jacobs and Mariana Mazzucato (2016). Looks well-written and up-to-date – from the social democrat stable

A sociologist’s treatment which earns high points by stating in the very first sentence that it aims to stand on the shoulders of giants and then proves the point by having an extensive bibliography with lots of hyperlinks…It is very well written and can be downloaded here

The next post will give a new diagram - with some of the key writers linked with relevant aspects of the post-capitalist world which beckons.....and will try to explore what I exactly I mean when I say that "my generation" bears a heavy responsibility for the mess we are all in 

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