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Elections cannot be allowed to change economic policy

What does it mean for policy to be insulated from politics? That’s the question we ultimately confront when investigating the putative depoliticisation of the economy. Matters which should be publicly resolved, through organised processes of contestation, instead get decided privately. We can cite examples of such transitions, consider whether they […]

The technocratic oath

In his political memoir, Adults In The Room, Yanis Varoufakis recounts a meeting with Larry Summer which took place in April 2015. Only months into his tenure as Finance Minister, he looked to this architect of the neoliberal world order for support as hostilities with European leaders over Greece’s fiscal […]

Communism for the few

From Four Futures: Life After Capitalism, by Peter Frase, loc 1370-1383: Ironically, the life enjoyed within Elysium’s bubble appears not too different from the Communist scenario sketched out several chapters earlier. The difference, of course, is that it is communism for the few. And indeed, we can already see tendencies […]

Digital Capitalism and Guard Labour

An interesting thread I’m following up from Four Futures: Life After Capitalism. This is Samuel Bowles and Arjun Jayadev on ‘guard labour‘: Another dubious first for America: We now employ as many private security guards as high school teachers — over one million of them, or nearly double their number […]

The Climate Agenda of Elites

From Four Futures: Life After Capitalism, loc 234-246: the key question surrounding climate change is not whether climate change is occurring, but rather who will survive the change. Even in the worst-case scenarios, scientists are not arguing that the Earth will become totally uninhabitable. What will happen—and is happening—is that […]

Towards a sociology of Pikettyville

From this fascinating paper by Roger Burrows, Richard Webber and Rowland Atkinson: To talk of ‘Pikettyville’ is then to conjure up an image of an urban system that has become hardwired to adopting, channelling and inviting excesses of social and economic capital in search of a space in which the rich […]

The evacuation of the social by elites 

From Rethinking Social Exclusion, by Simon Winlow and Steve Hall, pg 116: One of these is the apparent desire of the rich to retreat into private enclaves free from the malignancies of the real world. They want to encounter only those judged safe, subservient or ‘like them’ –and even then […]

The growth of elite philanthropy 

I had no idea how rapidly this was growing. From No Such Thing as a Free Gift, by Linsey McGoey, loc 282: Nearly half of the 85,000 private foundations in the United States alone were created in the past fifteen years. About 5,000 more philanthropic foundations are set up each […]

Who are the world’s 950 billionaires?

From Common Wealth, by Jeffrey Sachs, pg 327-328. Quoted in Jefffey Sachs, by Japhey Wilson, loc 1457: There are now around 950 billionaires in the world, with an estimated combined wealth of $3.5 trillion. That’s an amazing $900 billion in just one year. Even after all the yachts, mansions, and […]

Interned Professionals and Defensive Elites

An interesting point in Intern Nation, by Ross Perlin, reflecting on the long term consequences of the institutionalised internship system for the constitution of the professions. From loc 3035-3051: Besides, it’s probably too early to gauge the deepest effects—the internship explosion has only gone fully mainstream, integrated into every white-collar […]

The Defensiveness of Elites

From The Deep State, by Mike Lofgren, pg 255-256: The quality of blind self-absorption is not confined to our national security elites. Many Wall Street and Valley billionaires, living a hermetically sealed existence surrounded by sycophants and coat holders, appear genuinely surprised that their public reputation is not that of […]

The defensiveness of contemporary elites 

From The Deep State, by Mike Lofgren, pg 86-87. I’m beginning to try and catalogue public examples of this defensiveness because some of the over-reactions seem fascinatingly unbalanced: It is surprising how much fear his timid policies have generated among the big-money boys. There are no rational grounds for the […]