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Archive for April 18th, 2009

From Michael Wolff:

A little history:

Here’s a brief recap of how publishers originally came to give away their store: The early and fierce Internet mantra on the part of the digital elite was about information wanting to be free. Sharing was the Internet’s singular function. So from the get go, traditional publishers found themselves not only competing with free information, but also wanting to be cool digital guys themselves, and, as well, to get as many “hits” as possible—free, therefore, became everybody’s approach. This was okay until publishers figured out they couldn’t make in online advertising what they used to make in old-fashioned advertising and that the Internet was destroying their profitable businesses.

What’s next?:

The proposition now is that there will be “official” content produced by “official” journalists that will be paid for, existing like an island amid the sea of Internet content, which will be free. The idea is that the former is so evidently more valuable than the latter consumers will line up with their credit cards.

Hmmm…

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From The Nation:

Every moment of major social change requires a collective leap of imagination. Political transformation must be accompanied not just by spontaneous and organized expressions of unrest and risk but by an explosion of mass creativity. Little wonder that two of the most maligned jobs during the forty years after Richard Nixon’s 1968 election sealed the backlash of the “silent majority” were community organizer and artist.  Obama was both. So why haven’t community organizers and artists been offered a greater role in the national recovery?

[…]

What we might call “the creativity stimulus” goes far beyond job creation and even economic development. Culture is not just something conservatives wage war on. The arts are not just something liberals dress up for on weekends. Creativity can be a powerful form of organizing communities from the bottom up. The economic crisis gives us a chance to rethink the role of creativity in making a vibrant economy and civil society. Artists as well as community organizers cultivate new forms of knowledge and consciousness. One of the unsung stories of the past twenty-five years is how both have used creativity to inspire community development and renewal. Creativity has become the glue of social cohesion in times of turmoil.

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They Rule

Especially in the midst of this economic crisis, many people have been asking “Who rules?” Who is running the show, and making decisions that affect so many? I have found some answers at theyrule.net, which includes an interactive map connecting influential leaders in the world: the superrich, business leaders, politicians, even some universities (it would be quite interesting to see where ND connects, especially with the president receiving an honorary degree and an endowment invested in all sorts of places).  

I was reminded of theyrule after a recent discussion about the absence of class analysis from neoclassical theory. There are no capitalists in neoclassical theory, no working class, no politicians. Just firms and households. I am having trouble understanding how this can be a realistic way of viewing the world. Different classes function in various roles in our society, and have particular interests and motivations and powers. There exist a number of accounts of this. In his 2004 book Confessions of an Economic Hitman, John Perkins explore the role of the corporations, banks, and governments, collectively the “corporatocracy,” and the revolving door among them in the global decision making process. In Superclass, released in March 2008, David Rothkopf claims that the world population of 6 billion is ruled by 6,000 elite individuals. 

While no account of who rules is completely accurate, certainly the economic theory that dominates the formation of public policy should include some form of class analysis. There are a great many tensions among various different classes that play an important role in how our society operates.

Even Warren Buffet, believe it or not, recognizes class tensions. In an interview with the NYTimes, Buffet explained how he paid a far, far less fraction of his income to taxes than did any secretary or clerk in the office. Responding to whether this was an issue of class warfare, he added, “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

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