Print Story Don't speed the plough
By TheophileEscargot (Sun Jan 10, 2016 at 02:42:33 AM EST) Reading, MLP, Watching (all tags)
Reading: "Inventing the Future". Watching: "Cowboys and Aliens", "Hot Girls Wanted". Links.

What I'm Reading
Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work by Nick Srnicek, Alex Williams. Ambitious book aiming to describe how the political left can reverse the rightward drift of the last few decades with a long term plan to reestablish political hegemony, by using a positive vision of the future to unite disparate groups and organize.

They start with a criticism of the limits of what they call the "folk politics" of the left, which they regards as too negative, localist and horizontalist. Movements aim at "resisting" the advance of neoliberalism, which might be successful, but creates a view of the future as intrinsically right wing, and doesn't help reverse things. The authors think that snall-scale local activism isn't sufficient to roll back a global capitalist system with universalist aspirations.

They then look at how the right wing has established political dominance. They look at the Mont Pelerin Society which sought to roll back Keynesianism and establish monetarist, neoliberal dominance, and the network of think-tanks, journalists and politicians that sprung from it. They point out that this was a very long-term project which begun in the late 1940s and wasn't that successful until they took advantage of the Stagflation crisis of the 1970s to promote their ideas as superseding Keynesianism.

They think that a leftist fightback has to work the same way: patiently spending decades building up an infrastructure, then using a crisis to put ideas into practice. It's already too late to take advantage of the banking crisis, which has already been seiezed by the right to further extend its dominance.

Their four demands for a positive vision of the future are:

1) Full automation
2) The reduction of the working week
3) The provision of a basic income
4. The diminishment of the work ethic

Their view is that we should be aiming towards a modern future where work is optional and the focus is on leisure.

Overall, I like the idea of a future-oriented left. As usual though, the analysis of the left's weaknesses and the right's strength is more convincing than the actual future programme. I do like the idea of a basic income, but I think it would encourage more work rather than less by reducing benefit traps, and the authors acknowledge that if set at a low level it wouldn't do what they say. There also isn't anything on reducing the skyrocketing inequality documented by Piketty, perhaps because they think that's covered by existing "negative" left thought.

In the short term, the goal of a work-free future would be a problem given that the right are convinced that their is an army of scroungers/skiver/welfare queens out to live at their expense. The book raised the term "negative solidarity" for one aspect of how the right works: people think "I have to work long hours in precarious conditions, therefore everyone else should".

The most useful parts of the book are the detailed exposition of how the Mont Pelerin Society and the networks it generated operated. Even there I think there is a little bit of wishful thinking: the stagflation of the Seventies did illustrate a genuine limit to the power of Keynesian stimulus: the move away from it wasn't purely driven by ideology.

Overall, a fairly interesting book. Worth reading for serious political junkies.

What I'm Watching
Saw Cowboys and Aliens on the Netflix free trial. Started out pretty well with some fun stuff from a surprisingly starry cast including Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford. The problem is an uneven tone which abruptly shifts into tragic death scenes and emoting over relationships: really needed a lighter touch to keep it fun. Not really very good on the whole.

What I'm Watching 2
Saw the documentary about "pro-amateur" porn Hot Girls Wanted which has apparently caused controversy. Some of the exploitation stuff does seem pretty horrific for the women involved. Otherwise pretty much what you'd expect.

Socioeconomics. Medieval farm workers didn't work that long.

Politics. r/Anarchism goes liberal. BBC coordinated resignation timing. Peter Hitchens on the Revenge Reshuffle:

For the first time in my life, this country is actually coming to resemble the Marxist caricature of crude money and power, concentrated in a power elite...

The only opposition they are ready to tolerate is one that doesn’t raise any awkward questions. They expect to beat Labour whoever leads it. But they don’t want the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition - still an implicitly influential position - to haunt them with memories of when this country had a genuinely two-party system and all that went with that.

Sci/Tech. How MSG Got A Bad Rap. Women don't get credit for scientific collaboration. Respected research math is dominated by men of a certain attitude. Why too much evidence can be a bad thing via: "Under ancient Jewish law, if a suspect on trial was unanimously found guilty by all judges, then the suspect was acquitted". Simulating candle flicker. How to be a programmer.

Video. "This is a man's car". Lesbians touch a penis, gay men touch breasts for the first time. Hit by a bus supercut.

Pics. Gothic health advice. Sixteen Sweethearts: 1932. Model poses.

Articles. "Free Produce": Quakers pioneered social enterprise.

Random. Games to Play With Your Child in Which You Barely Have to Move or Talk, via. Republican fields. Mosswatching. The lost decade of the 19A0s, via.

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Don't speed the plough | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden)
Corbyn by jump the ladder (4.00 / 1) #1 Sun Jan 10, 2016 at 03:36:16 AM EST
He's asking the right questions, British foreign policy has been crap and is there a need for "independent" deterrent, not sure. But his background as a doctrinaire hard left socialist who hasn't changed his views in 40 years give little faith in his proscribed remedies.

Yep the Blairites are shower of shit but his bunch of supporters aren't any better and having Seumas Milne as one of your key ppl having read his crap in the Guardian for the past 15 years is indicative of that.

Comments: by wumpus (4.00 / 1) #2 Sun Jan 10, 2016 at 11:59:05 AM EST
Hot girls wanted: If your agency is called "Hussie Models" you made a mistake. You want "Husi models". Change before it is too late (see inappropriate actions in wiki).

Medieval farm workers: hours are important, but I suggest the authors should try working as an Amish farm hand before publishing. It might change their views (although I suspect the Amish don't have all the holidays medieval farmers used).

MSG: some Chinese restaurants make me sleepy, some don't. If it isn't the MSG, then what is it?

"Scientific Collaboration": They used economics as an example? Stopped reading there.

"this is a man's car". Not interested in the video, but from 'net chatter it must be automatic. "Chick cars" (miata, smaller VWs) are the ones sold with sticks, not the big V8 models claimed to be "a mans' car". Also learned from same sites that car enthusiast are a weird bunch, and actively enjoy being market segmented.


Car video by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #3 Sun Jan 10, 2016 at 12:54:34 PM EST
Is a rally driver posing as a salesgirl who scares the customers by doing doughnuts on the test drive.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Negative solidarity by Herring (4.00 / 4) #4 Sun Jan 10, 2016 at 02:24:01 PM EST
I've been searching for a term for this for years. And that one will do nicely.

I read the Hitchens thing a couple of days ago. He's one of those people - like Oborne - who are on the other ends of the political spectrum from me, but still come across as decent and thoughtful.

The Labour party at the moment seems to resemble the various rebel groups from the Life of Brian. This is pretty fucking stupid as the Tories are ballsing up so much at the moment that a united opposition could be tearing strips off them on a regular basis.

My pet peeve is the alleged "clear referendum on EU membership". Well, it's not clear to me what either option involves. Does exit mean total exit of does it mean "doing a Norway" where you still have to pay subs, are still subject to free movement of capital, people, services etc. but don't get a vote? The concessions that Cameron is asking for appear pointless and just to appease the Daily Mail crowd.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

I think that's why Cameron's pretty confident by jump the ladder (4.00 / 1) #5 Mon Jan 11, 2016 at 04:54:28 AM EST
Of winning as the No camp don't have a clue what to do after leaving the EU.

1.  Leave the EU

  1. ???
  2. Britain overnight becomes a utopia
Labour party disunity really is about policies not personalities unlike in the bad old days of Brown versus Blair so I don't know how they unify themselves without either a coup against Corbyn or mass deselections of Corbyn opponents.

[ Parent ]
".... what either option involves" by Oberon (4.00 / 1) #6 Mon Jan 11, 2016 at 07:16:23 AM EST
Quite, and a lot of the stuff the EU "imposes" are actually things I quite like, such as protections for workers. In the end I suspect the outcome will be some very minor changes which will be to the detriment of EU citizens who come to work here. Thankfully ECHR is a separate treaty so can't be part of this renegotiation.

There is scope for sensible deregulation, the example I know about is that the current rules for flying is a superset of most of the pre-existing rules in EU countries; this is clearly overkill and could be cut down. It's also a shame nobody is talking about transparency and accountability as those are areas where the EU can clearly improve -- but that would be hard, compared with bashing a few migrants by restricting access to benefits. Since UK citizens must be treated the same as other EU citizens, these changes will also necessarily affect folk returning to the UK after time abroad.

Most folk have the impression (rightly or otherwise) that leaving the EU would be an utter disaster, so for all the polling at the moment suggesting it's close, I would imagine it'll be around 60% voting STAY on the day. (Though as a fan of political polls, I would regard it as a neat coincidence if it mirrored the 55/45 split of the Scottish referendum, and that's certainly possible).

How now, mad spirit?
[ Parent ]
Authors of Inventing the Future by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #7 Tue Jan 12, 2016 at 09:12:50 AM EST
... are also the authors of the excellent Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics from a few years ago, which is on the same lines.

I haven't read the book yet. Accelerationism made a bit of a stir but I heard they dropped the term for book.

(All of which you might know already - maybe I am leftsplaining here.)

Wish I had asked which Verso books you had bought in the sale at the time, both of these ones sounded great. I had a look but didn't get round to actually buying anything.

Iambic Web Certified

Accelerationism by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #8 Tue Jan 12, 2016 at 04:41:26 PM EST
The word "Accelerationism" seems to be unfortunately overloaded. I see it a lot on the anarchist forums for the belief that we should work to accelerate the collapse of capitalism and ensuing revolution by making things worse. Seems to mostly used pejoratively though, as in "stop talking like an accelerationist", haven't seen many self-declared accelerationists.

Got quite a lot on the Verso sale, but not sure how many I'm actually going to get round to reading. "Ruling the Void" and "Inventing the Future" I've already reviewed. I've got "Bloody Nasty People", "Drone Warfare", "Rebel Cities" and "Narcoland" to go but not sure if or when I'll have the energy for all that depressing politics.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Accelerationism by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #9 Wed Jan 13, 2016 at 07:23:10 AM EST
Even for those who use the term in the sense of the manifesto, of accelerating tech, there are left and right variations.

So I guess they just wrote the whole term off. Did they find a new one?

Iambic Web Certified

[ Parent ]
I think by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #10 Thu Jan 14, 2016 at 01:07:21 AM EST
They're just halfheartedly going with the vague "postcapitalism".
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
"Fully Automated Luxury Communism" by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #11 Thu Jan 14, 2016 at 10:29:06 AM EST
... was punchier.

Iambic Web Certified

[ Parent ]
Don't speed the plough | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden)