Around the web

Beware, fellow Plutocrats, the Pitchforks are coming…

   

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AI: This… is terrifying.

  

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Stop Trump’s Immigration Agenda…

  

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How to Break Away from Capitalism…

 

From Resilience

Capitalism has been the world’s dominant economic system for more than 700 years. And as it brings the planet to new crises, author Raj Patel believes it’s important to imagine what might replace it.

Capitalism has been the world’s dominant economic system for more than 700 years. And as it brings the planet to new crises, author Raj Patel believes it’s important to imagine what might replace it.

But reform won’t happen unless we understand capitalism’s appeal and historical rise, says Patel, a food justice activist and professor at the University of Texas at Austin. It’s remarkably resilient and can be traced to a process he calls “cheapness.”

Together with Binghamton University professor Jason W. Moore, he has written The History of the World in Seven Cheap Things (University of California Press, 2017), which aims to put it all together for us. The seven “things” of the title aren’t physical objects as much as they are a hidden social, ecological and economic infrastructure: nature, money, work, care, food, energy, and lives. The point being that cheapness is a process of responding to economic crises by devaluing each of those forces so that capitalism can continue to concentrate wealth in the hands of the already-wealthy. In that sense, “cheap nature” refers to the way in which land and its resources are systematically given away to businesses for exploitation, “cheap work” refers to slavery and other anti-worker tactics that keep wages low, and so on.

Capitalism values cheapness above all else. And through this lens, Patel and Moore explore the evolution of capitalism from its roots in the late medieval period with the collapse of feudalism in Western Europe caused by climate change and the Black Death to—now.

Raj Patel spoke with YES! Magazine senior editor Chris Winters in Seattle. This interview has been edited and condensed.

Winters: If I were to take a single important concept away from this book, what should it be?

Patel: The idea would be that we are made by capitalism, and that capitalism can’t last forever. The reason we wrote the book is so we could help broker conversations between the different areas of social movement activism and social transformation. We’re hoping that these ideas of seven cheap things can help social movements identify their shared points of solidarity with other movements. When movements begin, they always start with living politics and real struggles.

Post-Capitalist Entrepreneurship: B Corps and Beyond…

 

From Resilience

It doesn´t take a rocket scientist to realize that the economy is not working for many. Despite record-breaking stock market performance and record profits from many banks and technology companies, income inequality in many advanced countries, especially in the U.S., has actually been worsening. In 2010, Oxfam found that the richest 388 billionaires around the globe had the same aggregate wealth that the poorest 50 percent of the people on the planet had (i.e., 388 people had the same wealth as about 3.5 billion people combined). In 2015, the number of wealthy people required to match the total income of the bottom 50 percent had dropped to just 62 while the top one percent of the world’s wealthiest now had more combined wealth than the rest of the 99 percent of the world’s population. In 2017, the number had dwindled to just the wealthiest eight!

Labor productivity has never been greater but the rewards from this are not being evenly distributed. In fact, artificial intelligence, robotics, and smart devices are wreaking havoc on labor markets and generating growing calls for basic income to help avert even worse income inequality in the coming years. Aside from rampant inequalities, we seem to be stuck in making real progress on climate change and losses of biodiversity. In short, many of us have begun to question whether market-based capitalism as we know it is capable of improving conditions for planet and people.

Throughout the past several years I have been conducting research on a range of sustainable entrepreneurial initiatives around the globe, interviewing hundreds of inspiring entrepreneurs along the way. What I have come to realize is that there is a new wave of entrepreneurial organizing around the world, oriented toward making things better for the 99 percent. Yet much of this organizing does not fit the mold of traditional, capitalist approaches to startups, venture finance, growth and exit.

Richard Dawkins: An Exchange On Abortion…

 

From Richard Dawkins

I had tweeted an invitation to attend lectures in various parts of Britain by Saba Douglas-Hamilton, who grew up among wild African elephants while her father, Iain Douglas-Hamilton was conducting his pioneering studies of their ecology and behaviour, and he and his wife Oria were fighting the poachers. Saba’s series of lectures is in aid of Save the Elephants, the charity founded by Iain, devoted to saving these magnificent animals from extinction (https://sabadouglashamilton.com). Among the responses to my tweet, the following two caught my attention, partly because of their irrelevance:

 

 

 

 

Replying to @RightWingRebel

 

 

 

This little exchange reminded me of how extremely strongly people can feel about abortion, on both sides of the argument. It is a subject whose importance has been inflated out of all sensible proportion. For many it is the dominant issue that sways their vote, eclipsing things that really matter such as defence policy, economics, social welfare, health care, poverty, global warming and, indeed, conservation.

Taking Halloween Back For Christ…

 

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It’s Mueller Time…

 


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Uganda’s Freethinker Library gets off to a promising start…

 

 

From The Freethinker UK

I am pleased to report that, following our appeal for funding for the Freethinker Library for the Kanungu Humanist School in Uganda, $260 (almost £200) has so far been raised. Henri (Hank) Pellissier, of the Brighter Brains Institute with whom we a working to stock the library, told me this week that “that is enough to buy a LOT of books – the director is very appreciative.”

Hank also sent me the photo below of the sign created for the library.

Meanwhile the school’s director Robert Magara reported that a journey was made to the Angelina Bookshop in Kampala on to make the first book purchases.

He wrote: “I wish you were here to witness the happiness the the school kids showed me after receiving the books. Really, Thank you very much our dear funders.”

The appeal remains open for another three weeks, so if you would like to support this important humanist literacy initiative, please click on this link to donate
From The Freethinker UK

I am pleased to report that, following our appeal for funding for the Freethinker Library for the Kanungu Humanist School in Uganda, $260 (almost £200) has so far been raised. Henri (Hank) Pellissier, of the Brighter Brains Institute with whom we a working to stock the library, told me this week that “that is enough to buy a LOT of books – the director is very appreciative.”

Hank also sent me the photo above of the sign created for the library.

Meanwhile the school’s director Robert Magara reported that a journey was made to the Angelina Bookshop in Kampala on to make the first book purchases.

He wrote: “I wish you were here to witness the happiness the the school kids showed me after receiving the books. Really, Thank you very much our dear funders.”

The appeal remains open for another three weeks, so if you would like to support this important humanist literacy initiative, please click on this link to donate.
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