2018/01/21

Robert Shiller: Economics and the human instinct for storytelling

Robert Shiller writes about Economics and the human instinct for storytelling.

Why do economists miss the stories behind many of our economic fluctuations? One reason is that economists have a tool kit, and narrative hasn’t traditionally been in it. We view narrative as somebody else’s territory. We do simultaneous equations. We teach general equilibrium theory. That’s fine, but by the time we finish teaching those, we’re tired.

But there is room for economists to do research on narrative economics. We have databases. We can do quantitative analysis. It’s not easy to study the very human phenomena of narratives, but we can collaborate with people in the humanities—people such as literary theorists, who try to understand why some story structures work and others don’t. If we do, and if we make room in our tool kit for narrative, I’m optimistic that in the next 10 or 20 years, we will have a better understanding of economic fluctuations.

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Shiller would agree with Scott Adam's assessment that the economy is booming become President Trump inspires small business confidence.

Do narratives drive the economic fundamentals, such as interest rates, rate of return, inflation rate, money supply? Narratives do definitely drive hyperinflation, because narratives are expressions of expectations.

It is also important to know which narratives are dominant. The workers' narratives are drowned out by the Capitalists'.


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Juan Cole: No Normalization: All the Fascist Highlights Trump still Hits

Juan Cole argues for No Normalization: All the Fascist Highlights Trump still Hits.

White grievance is the natural outcome of fascism. If the natural order is racial supremacy, any sign that that supremacy is not being actively performed in all areas of life must be protested. Are we polite to Jews by saying happy holidays instead of Merry Christmas? That is an outrage. Do African-Americans dare protest the governmental scams being run on them by city establishments like Ferguson? That is an outrage.

Not only has Trump not moderated his fascism, but the national media, addicted to ‘on the one hand, on the other hand’ journalism, inevitably normalizes it by bringing on Trumpists to model his fascist discourse for the masses.

The US is being pulled to the far right. Many are resisting, but Trump’s capture of the Republican Party means that he has millions of agents for his planned transformation. Only millions of people actively resisting can offset them.

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Back in January 2007, I wrote:

The key trigger to the growth of Fascism is an economic crisis that threatens the Petit-Bourgeois. A combination of economic contraction with foreclosures by banks ignites the movement. That a worker's revolution precedes a Fascist one just means that workers are affected much earlier by an economic collapse than the Bourgeois are.

All the other attributes Dr. Fernandes ascribes to Fascism arise from its intrinsic naure. Racism (p.24) and Nationalism (p.25) are emphasised because they are key results of the Capitalist system. (More of the same to overcome the problem).

The opposition to Enlightenment values (p.25) arises because the Petit-Bourgeois see themselves as doers not thinkers. The abstract notions of free speech, freedom of religious practice, etc. do have any practical effect on their daily lives. They are more seen as restrictions on their activities and an effort to keep them oppressed.

Fascism is then the rebellion of the oppressed small business person against their tormentors. They try to create a new society but end up in the same prison of Capitalism. And, as always, it is the banks and big business who have the last laugh.

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In March 2016, I took the view that:

The most plausible scenario for the rise of Fascism in the USA is for Bernie Sanders to win the Presidency. The mild progressive nature of a Sanders administration would be sufficient to collapse the equilibrium of the American system. And in the backlash, another demagogue would arise to unite the forces that Trump awakened.

A new Clinton administration would not do this. Nor would a Trump or Cruz one. For all of these are working within the system. There is no need for Fascists to take back the system.

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The danger could well lie ahead.


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2018/01/20

Pip Hinman: Heat, climate and policy failure

Pip Hinman writes about the relationship between Heat, climate and policy failure.

While most countries have committed to limiting warming to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels — a critical step towards decarbonising the world — this is the bare minimum of what needs to happen. Scientists say we need to stabilise temperature increase to below 1.5°C and this means pushing for an urgent and fundamentally new approach.

The technology exists and the plans have been proffered but without serious political pressure on the government, it will continue to get away with doing nothing — while all living creatures suffer the consequences.

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Fortunately, the Capitalists are divided on the issue of climate disruption — this allows ordinary people to influence the debate with the elite.


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Scott Adams: President Trump Earns the Highest Presidential Approval Level of All Time

Scott Adams writes that President Trump Earns the Highest Presidential Approval Level of All Time.

I contend that business optimism — and small business optimism in particular — are the new standard for presidential approval because “economics” captures most of what a president influences.

I could go on. The point is that all of the “big” issues directly influence the economy via their impact on our psychology and our resources. In a free, capitalist country, “the economy” captures all the goodness and badness of a presidency without really trying. And the measure that best reflects the future of the economy, in my opinion, is small business optimism.

Big businesses can do fine with a president who promotes policies that favor big corporations, even if the rest of the country is suffering. But when small business owners are feeling good about the economy, that means the president is doing a more bottoms-up job of getting things right. President Trump has focused on bottoms-up economics from the start, meaning jobs and lessened regulations. Apparently that is working.

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Adams doesn't understand the fundamental contradiction of Capitalism: over-production. The economy will always produce more than consumers are able to buy.

The only source of income for most people is from wages and salary. This caps the amount of consumption in the economy.

Increasing wages increases consumptions, but also costs. Unless profits are to be squeezed, inflation results.

Confidence can only carry the economy so far until the realities of return on investment versus the rate of interest start to restrict investment.

It is interesting to see Adams describe the petite-bourgeoisie as being happy with Trump. This reliance on the support of the petite-bourgeoisie means that Trump has to be tolerant of that class's fascist undercurrents.


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Briahna Joy Gray: Oprah Winfrey for president? The idea reveals an uncomfortable truth

Briahna Joy Gray decries Oprah Winfrey for president? The idea reveals an uncomfortable truth.

But the enthusiasm around the mere specter of Oprah’s presidency reveals an uncomfortable truth about the hypocrisy of Democrats: all the talk of competency during the 2016 presidential election, qualifications, be they ideological or political, are mere pretexts for their choice of candidate.

In the buildup to and aftershock from the 2016 election, perhaps the loudest and most consistent protest heard from Hillary Clinton supporters was “but she’s the most qualified!” Despite having a longer record of public service, Senator Bernie Sanders was deemed less, and by some, insufficiently qualified to run for president. His relative inexperience with foreign policy was a point of regular critique, and those who supported his candidacy on ideological grounds were dismissed as “purists” who didn’t understand the real “work” of being president.

In fact, Sanders’s candidacy arguably took its biggest hit when he suggested that Clinton’s history of poor political judgments, like her vote for the Iraq war, disqualified her for the presidency. Hillary’s qualifications were considered so unassailable, that to challenge them was considered de facto sexism by many.

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Chris Dillow's point on On anti-meritocracy is most relevant here.

Clinton and Trump both represent the decay within the Capitalist political class. Oprah is another indication of teh same.


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2018/01/19

Daniel Little: Trust and organizational effectiveness

Daniel Little writes about Trust and organizational effectiveness.

Trust is enhanced by individuals having the opportunity to get acquainted with their collaborators in a more personal way — to see from non-organizational contexts that they are generally well intentioned; that they make serious efforts to live up to their stated intentions and commitments; and that they are generally honest. So perhaps there is a rationale for the bonding exercises that many companies undertake for their workers.

Likewise, trust is enhanced by the presence of a shared and practiced commitment to the value of trustworthiness. An organization itself can enhance trust in its participants by performing the actions that its participants expect the organization to perform. For example, an organization that abruptly and without consultation ends an important employee benefit undermines trust in the employees that the organization has their best interests at heart. This abrogation of prior obligations may in turn lead individuals to behave in a less trustworthy way, and lead others to have lower levels of trust in each other.

In other words, trust is crucial for collaboration and teamwork. And an organization that manages to help to cultivate a high level of trust among its participants is likely to perform better than one that depends primarily on supervision and enforcement.

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A revolutionary party must continual live up to its ideals through its practices and organisations.

Although we are in the real, continual danger of betrayal through the active interventions of the plethora of secret services, we must persist in trusting each other.

Trust, but verify.


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Ryan Mallett-Outtrim, Lucas Koerner: Venezuela - After Chavista local elections' landslide, internal struggles comes to the fore

Ryan Mallett-Outtrim and Lucas Koerner write about Venezuela: After Chavista local elections' landslide, internal struggles comes to the fore.

During his late-night speech, Maduro vowed to reinvigorate the political movement started under his predecessor, Hugo Chavez. He told supporters he plans to prioritise revitalising the country’s ailing economy.

“2018 belongs to Chavistas,” he said.

However, according to a poll by Venebarometro released in December, Maduro could very well lose if presidential elections were held that week. When asked which candidate they would support, just 28.6% of respondents said they'd vote for Maduro.

The opposition is yet to coalesce around a single candidacy, but the pollsters suggested a generic opposition candidate could command at least 46.3% of the vote. A full quarter of respondents said they were undecided.

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Maduro needs to get his act together fast. The division in the opposition helps him somewhat. But he needs to get the economy working. This means more socialism.


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Neil Thompson: Dragon Ascendant: Green China, not Red China, increasingly Bestrides the World

Neil Thompson writes about the Dragon Ascendant: Green China, not Red China, increasingly Bestrides the World.

Regardless, many offenders are now facing being hit with fines and criminal offenses as a result of their emissions. It is all part of an increasing effort by China’s top leadership to “Go Green” after decades of focus on economic growth above all. Prompted at first by fears of social unrest and the environmental consequences of careless pollution China’s leadership is increasingly interested in using green technology as the next step in its industrial development. For example, with electric cars rapidly becoming cheaper than traditional gasoline powered vehicles in many markets, China is stealing a march on its rivals by becoming the largest market for manufacturers. Beijing already leads the world in its manufacture and use of solar power and other renewable energy sources. It could soon be the largest manufacturers of modern vehicles as well.

Interestingly, under Xi China is also building the world’s most advanced carbon trading system and solar highways to generate electricity, which clearly shows were Beijing believes the future lies. China currently produces 78 gigawatts of solar power and is aiming for 105 by 2020. Embarrassingly for America, China also remained in the Paris Agreement when President Trump withdrew from the Obama-era international agreement, deflecting attention from China’s own actions on climate change at a stroke. Despite the air pollution that still hurts its efforts, the nation remains the world’s leading solar energy producer by quite some margin and China also gets 4 percent of its energy from wind power, of which it is one of the top three global markets.

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Solar roadways are a waste of money.

It is interesting how the Chinese regime are responding to the concerns of its citizens. And how the regime is turning these concerns into a business opportunity.

Don't forget that geopolitical concerns are driving China to green energy. These concerns centre around the US's control of the majority of the oil reserves through its proxies in Europe and Saudi Arabia, while the US attacks errant oil-producing nations like Iran and Venezuela. Green energy for China means energy independence.

Strange how political and economic concerns is leading towards a better environment.


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2018/01/18

Chris Dillow: How inequality persists

Chris Dillow discusses How inequality persists.

Klaus Abbink, David Masclet and Daniel Mirza demonstrate a different mechanism — resignation. As inequality becomes extreme, they show, people simply give up fighting it*.

US politics is, I fear, consistent with all this; high inequality has given us a kleptocratic billionaire.

It’s also consistent with world history as described by Walter Scheidel. He shows that significant falls in inequality have generally been brought about not by gentle redistributive policies but by wars, revolution, disease and state collapse.

Perhaps there is no stabilizing negative feedback loop from increased inequality towards demands for redistribution. If so, a sustained** increase in equality is far harder to achieve than social democrats would like to believe.

* Plus, of course, there's the fact that the richer the rich are, the more they can spend on entrenching their position by buying the media and lobbying.

** How much could a one-term Corbyn government do to permanently increase equality?

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Yet the reformers persist in their delusion that the rich can be persuaded to give up their wealth. You would get more sense out of Daffy Duck!


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Ted Rall: No Way Would Today's Newspapers Publish the Pentagon Papers

Ted Rall writes that No Way Would Today's Newspapers Publish the Pentagon Papers.

The key point of this story, which isn’t made in the movie and few younger moviegoers are likely to be aware, is that it was her decision to make. The Graham family held controlling interest in the Washington Post Company. Great newspaper families like the Grahams, the Chandlers and the Sulzbergers were quirky and often had bad politics. But they also had something today’s corporate, publicly-traded media outlets do not: editorial freedom.

They didn’t always do the right thing. But they could. So sometimes they did.

Sadly, those days are gone.

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Competition within the Capitalist class could sometimes serve the public interest. With the concentration of media ownership, the odiousness of monopoly power emerges. And the public interest is quashed in favour of the private Capitalist interest.


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2018/01/17

Dina Khapaeva: Putin's Medieval Romanticism and Russia's Lurch Right

Dina Khapaeva writes about Putin's Medieval Romanticism and Russia's Lurch Right.

Joseph Stalin initiated the modern cult of Ivan the Terrible. But, since the mid-2000s, Russia’s Eurasia Party — a political movement led by the pro-fascist mystic Alexander Dugin — has moved to position Ivan as the best incarnation of an “authentic” Russian tradition: authoritarian monarchy.

Dugin’s brand of “Eurasianism” advocates the embrace of a “new Middle Ages,” where what little remains of Russian democracy is replaced by an absolute autocrat. In Dugin’s ideal future, a medieval social order would return, the empire would be restored, and the Orthodox church would assume control over culture and education.

Eurasianism, which was marginal in the 1990s, has gained considerable popularity in recent years by contributing to the formation of the so-called Izborsky Club, which unites the Russian far right. On several occasions, Putin has referred to Eurasianism as an important part of Russian ideology; he has even invoked it as a founding principle of the “Eurasian Economic Union,” a burgeoning trade area of former Soviet states.

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And so begins the drift to Fascism in Russia: an authoritarian state run for the Plutocrats with nationalism to keep the people in line. How Donald trump must be envious of Vladamir Putin.


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Seth Godin: Hiding from the mission

Seth Godin writes that Hiding from the mission.

The first is refusing to be clear and precise about what the mission is. Avoiding specifics about what we hope to accomplish and for whom. Being vague about success and (thus about failure).

After all, if no one knows exactly what the mission is, it’s hard feel like a failure if it doesn’t succeed.

The second is even more insidious. We degrade the urgency of the mission. We become diffuse. We get distracted. Anything to avoid planting a stake and saying, "I made this."

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It is very hard being in a revolutionary party. Our failure is all around us. We have a high turn-over of members. We have members that do not expect to see a successful in their lifetime.

Yet, we must persist. Every day that we survive is a victory. Against the brutal reality of Capitalism, resistance to despair is paramount.

And, as we resist, we strengthen ourselves.


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Tom Engelhardt: Seeing Our Wars for the First Time

Tom Engelhardt writes that Seeing Our Wars for the First Time.

America’s war on terror across the globe (from the Costs of War Project). Click on the map to see a larger version.

Looking into the future, let’s pray for one thing: that the folks at that project have plenty of stamina, since it's a given that, in the Trump years (and possibly well beyond), the costs of war will only rise. The first Pentagon budget of the Trump era, passed with bipartisan unanimity by Congress and signed by the president, is a staggering $700 billion. Meanwhile, America’s leading military men and the president, while escalating the country’s conflicts from Niger to Yemen, Somalia to Afghanistan, seem eternally in search of yet more wars to launch.

Pointing to Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, for instance, Marine Corps Commandant General Robert Neller recently told U.S. troops in Norway to expect a “bigass fight” in the future, adding, “I hope I’m wrong, but there’s a war coming.” In December, National Security Adviser Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster similarly suggested that the possibility of a war (conceivably nuclear in nature) with Kim Jong-un’s North Korea was “increasing every day.” Meanwhile, in an administration packed with Iranophobes, President Trump seems to be preparing to tear up the Iran nuclear deal, possibly as early as this month.

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As George Orwell wrote in 1984 (Chapter 9):

The war, therefore, if we judge it by the standards of previous wars, is merely an imposture. It is like the battles between certain ruminant animals whose horns are set at such an angle that they are incapable of hurting one another. But though it is unreal it is not meaningless. It eats up the surplus of consumable goods, and it helps to preserve the special mental atmosphere that a hierarchical society needs. War, it will be seen, is now a purely internal affair. In the past, the ruling groups of all countries, although they might recognize their common interest and therefore limit the destructiveness of war, did fight against one another, and the victor always plundered the vanquished. In our own day they are not fighting against one another at all. The war is waged by each ruling group against its own subjects, and the object of the war is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact. The very word ‘war’, therefore, has become misleading. It would probably be accurate to say that by becoming continuous war has ceased to exist. The peculiar pressure that it exerted on human beings between the Neolithic Age and the early twentieth century has disappeared and been replaced by something quite different. The effect would be much the same if the three super-states, instead of fighting one another, should agree to live in perpetual peace, each inviolate within its own boundaries. For in that case each would still be a self-contained universe, freed for ever from the sobering influence of external danger. A peace that was truly permanent would be the same as a permanent war. This — although the vast majority of Party members understand it only in a shallower sense — is the inner meaning of the Party slogan: WAR IS PEACE.

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And we all thought that '1984' was about the USSR. We were wrong — it is all about the USA.


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2018/01/16

Barry Ritholtz: Here Comes the Minimum-Wage Increases

Barry Ritholtz writes that Here Comes the Minimum-Wage Increases.

2018 begins with instant raises for the lowest paid rung of the labor pool — those working for minimum wage — in 18 states and almost 22 municipalities, the lowest-paid workers are seeing an pay increase.

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The Capitalists see wages as a cost to be reduced — not as a source of funds for purchasing goods. Capitalism requires Capitalists to be myopic — profit is all that matters.

The humanity of the workers is an impediment under Capitalism. To see workers as human beings stops Capitalists making profits. The inhumanity of the system is fundamental to Capitalism.


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Ted Rall: We All Love (Our) Free Speech

Ted Rall writes that We All Love (Our) Free Speech.

Controversies over free speech on college campuses and othe place serve to remind us that free speech is in the eye of the beholder, and that people tend to disrespect expression they disagree with. The thing is, however, free speech really is a suicide pact. We're either all in it together or not at all.

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Free speech is essential for a Democracy and, more so, for a Communist society.

The question then becomes do Capitalists have free speech in a Communist society? The simple answer would be "Yes".

Ideally, Capitalists would no longer exist in a Communist society, but the practicalities would suggest that the Capitalists would maintain a marginal existence. They would serve as a reminder of why we should not return to a Capitalist society.


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Juan Cole: Top 5 Signs Trump doesn't Actually Care about Iranian Protesters

Juan Cole writes about Top 5 Signs Trump doesn't Actually Care about Iranian Protesters.

Here are the reasons for which these statements are hypocritical.

  1. If Trump cared about Iranian dissidents, he would welcome those who want to flee to the United States.…
  2. The protesters are protesting economic hardship.…
  3. Sympathizing with working people facing increased prices is not Trump’s brand, and it is rich for him to pretend to care about them.…
  4. The protesters are complaining about the arbitrary, high-handed and authoritarian way that the clerical regime has run Iran.…
  5. Trump has allied himself, and aligned himself, with the Saudi royal family, which in turn is attempting to undermine Iran.…

Protests undermine the Iranian regime. By doing so, these protests weakened Iranian influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. This weakened influence benefits Israel, and therefore, the USA.


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Chris Dillow: On anti-meritocracy

Chris Dillow writes On anti-meritocracy.

In fact, there might even be something to be said for anti-meritocracy. It’s possible that Trump’s character flaws will prevent him using his presidency to do great irreversible damage, and they might even eventually discredit his policies: imagine if somebody of ability had his agenda.

And it’s possible that the knowledge that success in politics and the media requires obnoxiousness, self-promotion and a wealthy background and the right backers will deter good people from entering them. Whilst this would degrade public life, it would improve the talent pool available to other occupations and save good people from being disappointed; the embittered old hack is a fate to be avoided. Those of us who are comfortably off can safely tend our gardens and ignore the imbecilities of elite politics.

Whether we want an anti-meritocracy or not, it’s what we’ve got. The question is how to make the best of it.

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Trotsky once wrote that the times produced people preculiar to it. He gave an example that occurred during the Russian Revolution: a businessman gathered together his savings and went in search of military officers to give the money to. He had hoped that the old order could be restored with the aid of funds. He found group, after group, of loyalist officer engaged in gambling, drinking, and womanising. There appeared to be no capable and sober loyalist officers left.

The development of social systems decay when people of talent and ability are excluded from the power structures. This may be what is happening now. If so, the decay is starting to erode the Capitalist class, just as decay eroded the fedual lords.


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2018/01/15

Steven Roth: "In the Beginning...Was the Unit of Account" - Twelve Myths About Money

Steven Roth writes that “In the Beginning…Was the Unit of Account” — Twelve Myths About Money.

So my question: what’s a good metaphorical or figurative comparison to help us understand and explain this strange conceptual thingamabob? Is money an invention like algebra? Are there other conceptual constructs that are similar to units of account, comparable mental entities that can help us think about what these things are? I can’t think of any good analogies. It’s vexing.

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In simple Marxist terms, money is a commodity. Based on this characterisation, Roth is right in saying that money is an asset. But he oversimplifies. He denies that interest is the price of money.

A commodity has both an exchange-value and a use-value. Assets are thought of in terms of exchange-value. An asset can fluctuate in its exchange-value, thereby giving an asset a capability to store exchange-value. Commodities can be further traded, or consumed. With consumption, the commodity is extinguished, and its exchange-value and use-value expire.

But not all commodities are exchangeable for all other ones. Commodities that are universably tradeable are called money.

Interest should be better described as the rental price for money. A loan is the right to use a quantity of money. The ownership of the commodity is not transferred as would be the case of an exchange.


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Telesur: Social Media Imperialism? Facebook Bans Palestinian Content at Behest of Israel, US

TeleSur writes about Social Media Imperialism? Facebook Bans Palestinian Content at Behest of Israel, US.

Facebook has been working with Israeli Government officials to suppress Palestinian voices in the social media sphere according to a report published on Saturday in The Intercept. The partnership between the social media giant and officials in Tel Aviv has resulted in the censorship, removal or blocking of content deemed critical of the Israelis with these posting being branded as “incitement.”

Facebook’s virtually unlimited acquiescence with Israeli requests to remove content, has been described as a “censorship rampage“ by Greenwald and have been carried out since Tel Aviv began blaming alleged, “online incitement” for unrest and resistance that overwhelmingly resulted in violence against Palestinian civilians. The hue and cry raised by Tel Aviv resulted in an arrangement between Facebook and the Israeli state, struck in Sept. 2016, that resulted in the creation of teams devoted toward the monitoring and removal of alleged “inflammatory content” criticizing the occupation.

Despite Facebook’s vigilance over content, the Israelis deemed “inflammatory,” posts by extremist Jewish settlers and far-right Zionist officials calling for brutal repression and violence toward Palestinians went unchecked, leaving the dispossessed people with little leverage to combat the occupation’s control of the popular social network. Palestinian complaints highlighting an increasing Israeli social media discourse of hatred remained ignored by the California-based company.

“One can create a fantasy world in one’s head if one wishes, in which Silicon Valley executives use their power to protect marginalized peoples around the world by censoring those who wish to harm them,” Greenwald noted.

“But in the real world, that is nothing but a sad pipe dream. Just as governments will, these companies will use their censorship power to serve, not to undermine, the world’s most powerful factions.”

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Capitalist companies exist to make a profit. They will do whatever it takes to keep making those profits.

It is delusional of the Israelis to imagine that these protests arise because of incitement. They cannot imagine that their own brutality, discrimination, harassment, dispossession, bombings, shootings, etc. towards the Palestinians has anything to do with the anger of the latter.


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John Pilger on Ken Burn's 'Vietnam War': The killing of history

John Pilger on Ken Burn's 'Vietnam War': The killing of history.

What is known in the US as "the left" has effectively allied with the darkest recesses of institutional power, notably the Pentagon and the CIA, to see off a peace deal between Trump and Vladimir Putin and to reinstate Russia as an enemy, on the basis of no evidence of its alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The true scandal is the insidious assumption of power by sinister war-making vested interests for which no American voted. The rapid ascendancy of the Pentagon and the surveillance agencies under Obama represented an historic shift of power in Washington. Daniel Ellsberg rightly called it a coup. The three generals running Trump are its witness.

All of this fails to penetrate those "liberal brains pickled in the formaldehyde of identity politics", as Luciana Bohne noted memorably. Commodified and market-tested, "diversity" is the new liberal brand, not the class people serve regardless of their gender and skin colour: not the responsibility of all to stop a barbaric war to end all wars.

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In the matter of the Deep State, we would find ourselves allied with Donald Trump.

I would have to agree with the Right that the Left is now an impediment to social discourse. The Left has been co-opted by the elites.

When the Left forgot its class roots in the Proletariat, the Left became much easier to co-opt. There is seductiveness in achieving change through reform rather than revolution. The Liberal is the enemy of the Proletariat.


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Mike Kimel: Protests in Iran

Mike Kimel writes about Protests in Iran.

My limited understanding of Iran is that the religious authorities have kept a grip on power — despite being disliked by the urban intelligentsia — by maintaining support among the poor. That makes choosing guns over butter particularly stupid.

My comments on Chris Dillow's ponderings on the strange relationship between Conservatives & austerity can be found here.


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Farooq Tariq: Nepali Communists win landslide, but face big obstacles to win change

Farooq Tariq writes that Nepali Communists win landslide, but face big obstacles to win change.

The Communists landslide victory is a positive development in the South Asian region. It is like a wave fresh, cool air in a heated region on Indian subcontinent.

But the real challenge begins now. The huge victory has raised huge expectations. Reforms are on the agenda.

However, reforms under capitalism can never be of a permanent nature. The capitalist path on longer run is a road to distraction and losing mass support of the Communists ideology. They have to move ahead on the road of parliament to abolishing of capitalism and remaining elements of feudal society. They know the best how to do it if they want to do it.

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The Nepali Communists used a similar strategy to SYRIZA — building political support through community organisations.

The Nepali Communists may have an easier time because of the weakness of Capitalist development in Nepal. However, this weakness also undermines the development of a Socialist society. A Socialist society has to be industrialised.

As is being shown in Venezuela, the development of socialism during a period of dual power is difficult.


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