A core component of the unfettered neoliberalism that has caused such havoc across the West over the last decade is the capacity for large firms to become ever larger, increasing prices for consumers and other businesses, forcing down wages and stifling investment and innovation (that’s not just supposition, that’s all well documented, as I noted in The Mess We’re In).
Combine that with tech and we’ve created a marketplace that stretches from absurdity to capitalist nightmare. Tech companies are increasingly forcing us to use their products and blocking lawful ways to get around their monopolies — and regulators don’t seem to care. Hardware simply stops working at the whim of the provider, because it’s been designed not to work with other systems. And the brutal logic of tech monopolies: they buy up potential competitors, and things stop working.
LIFE AMONG THE DICTATORS
Why Iran’s Revolutionary Guards might decide regime change is a good idea — financially speaking. Plus, coping with disasters, dictatorship style — how the Chinese public service struggles with reality. And is mass ineptitude China’s new approach to military espionage?
Facial recognition and other biometrics are dud tech — but security agencies, dictatorships and nanny statists are embracing it anyway. A blow-by-blow account of how the American media helped mislead the country into the Iraq War. And even if Trump removes the US from its Endless Wars, it will likely mean their privatisation, not cessation.
CONTINUITY AND COLLAPSE
While some capitalist optimists think the solution to climate change is just a bit more economic growth and greater wealth — cos that’s worked well so far, right? — “collapsology” (which is not a word) is attracting more and more intellectual firepower as the rapidity of climate change appears to outpace modelling. But thinking that nothing less than a fundamental change in economic, population and social structures will save humanity comes with interesting political and philosophical consequences.
Elsewhere, John Quiggin on how climate change caught libertarians out — and they fled into denialism as a result. The issue of how to define a climate refugee isn’t going to be hypothetical for very long — if it is any more.
‘THEY SAY IT’S SAFER THAN CROSSING THE ROAD.’ ‘BUT WE HAVE TO DO THAT TOO.’
There’s been a dramatic improvement in airline safety since the 1980s and a substantial improvement since the 1990s — even in less developed countries.
Forget the fantasies of colonies on Mars. There’s a slight problem of getting barbecued with radiation on the way there, while you’re there, and — if it’s what you want to do — coming back.
Failure to stop coronavirus in China could mean it joins the legion of regularly circulating diseases around the world. Moreover, a new academic paper confirms that YouTube — which could be the most malignant social media platform of all — provides a direct pathway to right-wing radicalisation.
And enjoy these new, super high-res pictures of the sun — although please use suitable eye protection, such as the bottom of a beer bottle. Thankfully the sun tends to not be out at night time, when Elon Musk’ ego trip really is ruining astronomy.
Changing the date of Invasion Day is a good idea — but only a treaty will start to address Indigenous dispossession. There’s a great piece from IndigenousX’s Luke Pearson on an ABC failure to properly address racist comments on its content, and the bigger issue of how media should handle racist trolls.
Scott Morrison wants us to forget about emissions abatement and focus on climate adaptation — when the two are inseparable. Try a little kindness? Like “wellness”, kindness sounds good but isn’t any kind of solution to the systemic problems it purports to address.
And all hail Nevil Shute — prolific coiner of phrases.
GREAT HATCHET JOBS OF OUR TIME
- Patrick Porter unloads on Samantha Power’s trite, over-praised and self-serving memoir, and the Obama policies it lauds.
- At a time of spreading genocide denial, a scholar takes apart a new book that peddles the hateful rhetoric of genocidal mass murderer Radovan Karadzic.
- A combination of kitsch, thoughtlessness and Polish denialism turns a visit to Auschwitz into an ordeal.
- The Trump-Netanyahu plan for Palestinians is a war crime (that fact it’s being launched by a president currently being impeached, and a prime minister who’d been charged with taking bribes, gives it a heap of moral authority, too…).