Disposed To Admire

Profile of Adam Smith

Tony Judt, in The New York Review of Books: This “disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition … is … the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.” Those are not my words. They were written by Adam Smith, who regarded the likelihood that we would come to admire wealth and despise poverty, admire success and scorn failure, as the greatest risk facing us in the commercial society whose advent he predicted. It is now upon us.

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Dear Mammon

hut

{ reblog, via kvasir } “If human vices such as greed or envy are systematically cultivated, the inevitable result is nothing less than a collapse of intelligence. A man driven by greed or envy loses the power of seeing things as they really are, of seeing things in their roundness and wholeness, and his very successes become failures. If whole societies become infected by these vices, they may indeed achieve astonishing things but they become increasingly incapable of solving the most elementary problems of everyday existence.”
Small is Beautiful — E.F. Schumacher, 1973: p.18

Worse than that, I would think the evidence is here before us: A society driven by greed and envy. (Marx, I keep tellin’ you, Marx, people. There must certainly be a better way than this. To distribute in such staggeringly wide array the end of discomfort and suffering—yet to do so upon the backs of other people? Hello?) Continue reading “Dear Mammon”

Not Quite Masters of War

… if the scrofulous old men who cause wars and declare wars allowed the citizenry to fully comprehend what actually happens–psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually–to the legions of young men they send off to fight their unjust wars, there might be a true anti-war movement, based not on politics but on horror and revulsion against war.

Also from Tom’s interesting, eminently readable comment.    carrot

What occurs to me is, this is exactly what television did for the Viet Nam War, brought it into our living rooms, and usually over dinner—the news was at 6:00, and there was not this over-saturation, this 24-7 dribble … or is it drivel …

Continue reading “Not Quite Masters of War”

Das Kapital

All of which brings us squarely back to our big theme for this year: Capitalism 2.0 … The ad industry is built on an industrial era principle: waging war (on people).

… Google revolutionized the ad industry by waging peace. Imperfectly, marxcertainly. Yet, when consumer preferences were factored into the value of ads, the result was disruptively more relevant ads. Advertisers, publishers   —and, finally, people—were all better off. Now, Ad Blocker Plus is on the verge of waging an economically more valuable kind of peace: a more open, broader peace, which can boost relevance more significantly.

That’s a good thing for everyone—because it creates better incentives for everyone in the media value chain. And those incentives, ultimately, will lead to greater opportunities to create authentically valuable ads, that can make media itself more sustainable

How to tell when someone needs to brush up on their Marx.

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Them That Has …

entirely complicit to its own violation of human rights, and above all, silent.

Lawrence Lessig: … just over a year ago I reported that I was shifting my academic (and activist) work from free culture related issues to (what I called) “corruption.” At Stanford, a year ago, I outlined what this work would be: To focus on the many institutions in public life that depend upon trust to succeed, but which are jeopardizing that trust through an improper dependence on money.

While this is certainly an admirable project—and I have some idea that Larry Lessig is a saint to the web—this statement is baffling to anyone who lives in the real world. Who has kept their eyes open for a decade or two, or three or four. It is possible to be totally hopeful and also know the structure of this society for what it is: totally corrupted, totally corruptible. Continue reading “Them That Has …”