Categories
Culture Economics Psychology

The genius and curse of specialisation

Man can do what he wills but he cannot will what he wills.

Arthur Schopenhauer

We are not going to be able to operate our Spaceship Earth successfully, nor for much longer, unless we see it as a whole spaceship and our fate as common. It has to be everybody or nobody.

Buckminster Fuller

We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.

John M. Culkin (provenance unclear – see here)

The genius of capitalism is also its fatal flaw – and that thing is specialisation. In simplest terms it means that the baker can just focus on baking, the cobbler can just focus on making shoes, the builder can just focus on building and at the end of the day each person gets everything they need – food, clothing and shelter … and much more.

Categories
Culture Economics Politics

Are Revolutions Ever A Good Idea?

One of the things I love about the film-maker Adam Curtis’s work is that he doesn’t just accept the way things are. He keeps inviting us to look deeper and question the assumed truths of our culture.

One of those assumptions is that revolutions don’t work because the people who come into power always turn out to be just as bad as old lot.

Categories
Culture Economics

The Money System is Rigged

If you want to educate your kids (or yourself) about how money works at this point in time, I suggest a simple experiment. Get a bunch of friends around (where Covid-safe) and start a game of Monopoly, but you and your kids aren’t allowed to join at the start. If you are born before 1980 you get to join when about half the properties on the board have been bought by the other players. if you were born between 1980 and 2000 you join when 75% of the properties have been bought, and if you were born after 2000 you get to join when there is only 1 property left for sale.

Categories
Economics

Capitalism is killing the world

I saw this article yesterday after a conversation with a friend about this dilemma:

If humans are part of nature, then why are we destroying so much of the natural world – including our own life-support systems?

My answer is that we humans have evolved a specific mechanism – culture – which allows us to adapt to many different environments and changing situations. Unlike a Wallaby or a Deer, we are not born with a mostly complete innate sense of what kind of animal we are and what kind of environment we will exist in. Humans have to be shaped by culture over a number of years (it’s a year before we can even walk and another year before we start to talk).

Categories
Economics

The Case for Radical Economics

(Another long and important read – I’ve tried to make this accessible for people who normally switch off when the word Economics is mentioned.)

One of the most painful aspects of a recession is the many people out of work, sometimes for a long time.

Mainstream economic thinking says that jobs are created by entrepreneurs and by more investment, so this should be encouraged with tax breaks for the wealthy.

There’s a partial truth to this, but it ignores an even more important fact that jobs are created by customers with money in their pockets.

Categories
Culture Economics

Marx’s Critique of Capitalism