Welcome to Bookmarker!

This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading. Currently can only be used by a single user (myself), but I plan to extend it to support multiple users eventually.

Source code on GitHub (MIT license).

1

[...] it is different from titles like An Introduction to Capitalism" or "Economics for Beginners" [...] they can lay out the "how it works" of capitalism as clearly as any Lego instruction manual. But they almost always substitute an account of how capital says the economy works, or ought to work, for an account of how it actually works. They introduce a whole set of mainstream, "business pages" concepts as if they are unquestionable, the only way to understand capitalism. Those of us driven by a sense that what capitalism offers is nowhere near good enough, and that we can and must create something better, will find little if anything to work with.

—p.1 An Introduction to Actually Existing Capitalism (1) by Geoff Mann 1 year, 4 months ago

[...] it is different from titles like An Introduction to Capitalism" or "Economics for Beginners" [...] they can lay out the "how it works" of capitalism as clearly as any Lego instruction manual. But they almost always substitute an account of how capital says the economy works, or ought to work, for an account of how it actually works. They introduce a whole set of mainstream, "business pages" concepts as if they are unquestionable, the only way to understand capitalism. Those of us driven by a sense that what capitalism offers is nowhere near good enough, and that we can and must create something better, will find little if anything to work with.

—p.1 An Introduction to Actually Existing Capitalism (1) by Geoff Mann 1 year, 4 months ago
2

[...] It is not another shrill denunciation of capitalism. Those books often leave one feeling that capitalism is simply a massive class conspiracy, a monolithic force of evil for which only really nasty, cruel people could be responsible. It is as if capitalism happens to us, imposed by external trickery. But that is not true. Most of us actively participate in keeping capitalism going every day, and not always unwillingly. [...]

—p.2 An Introduction to Actually Existing Capitalism (1) by Geoff Mann 1 year, 4 months ago

[...] It is not another shrill denunciation of capitalism. Those books often leave one feeling that capitalism is simply a massive class conspiracy, a monolithic force of evil for which only really nasty, cruel people could be responsible. It is as if capitalism happens to us, imposed by external trickery. But that is not true. Most of us actively participate in keeping capitalism going every day, and not always unwillingly. [...]

—p.2 An Introduction to Actually Existing Capitalism (1) by Geoff Mann 1 year, 4 months ago
3

Perhaps the CEOs of Shell Oil or Citibank are indeed cruel profiteers and super-rich megalomaniacs. Perhaps they really are bad guys. That is not, and cannot be, the basis of a critique of capitalism. Capitalism is neither made nor defended by profiteers and super-rich megalomaniacs alone, nor did they produce the system that requires the structural position they fill. In reality, capitalism is produced and reproduced by elaborate, historically embedded, and powerful social and material relationships in which most us participate. In fact, many of us struggle to maintain those relationships, sometimes with all our might, because we feel like we have little choice. [...]

inspo for diss: cant just blame individual execs and investors etc but rather look at system

—p.3 An Introduction to Actually Existing Capitalism (1) by Geoff Mann 1 year, 4 months ago

Perhaps the CEOs of Shell Oil or Citibank are indeed cruel profiteers and super-rich megalomaniacs. Perhaps they really are bad guys. That is not, and cannot be, the basis of a critique of capitalism. Capitalism is neither made nor defended by profiteers and super-rich megalomaniacs alone, nor did they produce the system that requires the structural position they fill. In reality, capitalism is produced and reproduced by elaborate, historically embedded, and powerful social and material relationships in which most us participate. In fact, many of us struggle to maintain those relationships, sometimes with all our might, because we feel like we have little choice. [...]

inspo for diss: cant just blame individual execs and investors etc but rather look at system

—p.3 An Introduction to Actually Existing Capitalism (1) by Geoff Mann 1 year, 4 months ago
4

"We're good, you're evil" strategies can easily undermine mass solidarity, precisely because of those tricky everyday decisions people have to make. Barring a "clean slate" political solution, such as the revolutionary elimination of the "bad guys" (which history suggests is a risky route), I am convinced that the only basis for solidaristic anticapitalist politics is an analysis that makes sense of "complicity." We need an approach that comprehends the various positions and political dilemmas in which people find themselves, and helps them see that these dilemmas are neither inevitable nor necessary--that they can find what they need in different, better ways, through other ways of living and thinking.

—p.4 An Introduction to Actually Existing Capitalism (1) by Geoff Mann 1 year, 4 months ago

"We're good, you're evil" strategies can easily undermine mass solidarity, precisely because of those tricky everyday decisions people have to make. Barring a "clean slate" political solution, such as the revolutionary elimination of the "bad guys" (which history suggests is a risky route), I am convinced that the only basis for solidaristic anticapitalist politics is an analysis that makes sense of "complicity." We need an approach that comprehends the various positions and political dilemmas in which people find themselves, and helps them see that these dilemmas are neither inevitable nor necessary--that they can find what they need in different, better ways, through other ways of living and thinking.

—p.4 An Introduction to Actually Existing Capitalism (1) by Geoff Mann 1 year, 4 months ago
4

The problem is not that capitalism is a conspiracy of greedy people. The problem is that capitalism, as a way of organizing our collective life, does its best to force us to be greedy—and if that is true, then finger-pointing at nasty CEOs and investment bankers may be morally satisfying, but fails to address the problem. We are aiming for more than a world with nicer hedge-fund managers.

Two premises follow from this. First, we need to understand capitalism in more than just a wishy-washy, general way. If we want to change it, whether by tweaking or reworking the whole economic fabric of society, we need fairly detailed knowledge of the how, why, what, who, and where. Second, while critical theories (like Marxism) have a lot to offer, it is just as important to seriously engage capitalist theories of the capitalist economy, the ideas that make up modern orthodox ("neoclassical") economics and political economy. In other words, we have to recognize that as capitalism has developed, it has done so in tandem with ideas of human society with which it makes sense of itself.

Without some understanding of modern economic thinking, we cannot understand capitalism, because we cannot understand the logic and analysis that justifies it, that orders its institutions and gives it the legitimacy that has helped it survive and thrive for so long. Capitalism is organized the way it is because of how capital understands the world—an understanding, we must admit, shared by millions of people all over the world. Capitalism is not maintained by mere violence and deception. If it were, it would be far less robust. It is also sustained by a set of institutions, techniques, and ideas about human affairs and social goals that, for many people in the wealthy world, are unquestionable, as natural as gravity. Critics of capitalism ignore or dismiss these ideas at their peril.

inspo:

  • "We are aiming for more than a world with nicer hedge-fund managers." but for SV billionaries
  • " it is just as important to seriously engage capitalist theories of the capitalist economy / we have to recognize that as capitalism has developed, it has done so in tandem with ideas of human society with which it makes sense of itself" but for how tech views itself and what that teaches us about how things work
—p.4 An Introduction to Actually Existing Capitalism (1) by Geoff Mann 1 year, 4 months ago

The problem is not that capitalism is a conspiracy of greedy people. The problem is that capitalism, as a way of organizing our collective life, does its best to force us to be greedy—and if that is true, then finger-pointing at nasty CEOs and investment bankers may be morally satisfying, but fails to address the problem. We are aiming for more than a world with nicer hedge-fund managers.

Two premises follow from this. First, we need to understand capitalism in more than just a wishy-washy, general way. If we want to change it, whether by tweaking or reworking the whole economic fabric of society, we need fairly detailed knowledge of the how, why, what, who, and where. Second, while critical theories (like Marxism) have a lot to offer, it is just as important to seriously engage capitalist theories of the capitalist economy, the ideas that make up modern orthodox ("neoclassical") economics and political economy. In other words, we have to recognize that as capitalism has developed, it has done so in tandem with ideas of human society with which it makes sense of itself.

Without some understanding of modern economic thinking, we cannot understand capitalism, because we cannot understand the logic and analysis that justifies it, that orders its institutions and gives it the legitimacy that has helped it survive and thrive for so long. Capitalism is organized the way it is because of how capital understands the world—an understanding, we must admit, shared by millions of people all over the world. Capitalism is not maintained by mere violence and deception. If it were, it would be far less robust. It is also sustained by a set of institutions, techniques, and ideas about human affairs and social goals that, for many people in the wealthy world, are unquestionable, as natural as gravity. Critics of capitalism ignore or dismiss these ideas at their peril.

inspo:

  • "We are aiming for more than a world with nicer hedge-fund managers." but for SV billionaries
  • " it is just as important to seriously engage capitalist theories of the capitalist economy / we have to recognize that as capitalism has developed, it has done so in tandem with ideas of human society with which it makes sense of itself" but for how tech views itself and what that teaches us about how things work
—p.4 An Introduction to Actually Existing Capitalism (1) by Geoff Mann 1 year, 4 months ago
11

[...] calling capitalism a "mode of production" highlights the fact that there are other, different ways of organizing the social relations of economic life. Feudalism, which preceded capitalism in much of Europe, was one in which economic activity was organized by coercive lord-vassal relations of tribute and protection (and varied widely in the places and times historians call "feudal"). Another mode of production existed as the authoritarian "state socialism" of the former Soviet Union, a mode that most people erroneously call "communism" (largely because those systems misidentified themselves, of course; few would willingly call themselves "authoritarian state socialists").

footnote 2 explains why the USSR was not state capitalism, as some like to argue

—p.11 An Introduction to Actually Existing Capitalism (1) by Geoff Mann 1 year, 4 months ago

[...] calling capitalism a "mode of production" highlights the fact that there are other, different ways of organizing the social relations of economic life. Feudalism, which preceded capitalism in much of Europe, was one in which economic activity was organized by coercive lord-vassal relations of tribute and protection (and varied widely in the places and times historians call "feudal"). Another mode of production existed as the authoritarian "state socialism" of the former Soviet Union, a mode that most people erroneously call "communism" (largely because those systems misidentified themselves, of course; few would willingly call themselves "authoritarian state socialists").

footnote 2 explains why the USSR was not state capitalism, as some like to argue

—p.11 An Introduction to Actually Existing Capitalism (1) by Geoff Mann 1 year, 4 months ago
13

[...] Geoffrey Ingham has most effectively conceptualized the essentials as: (1) private enterprise for producing commodities, (2) market exchange, (3) a monetary system based on the production of bank-credit money, and (4) a distinction role for the state in relation to these features.

—p.13 An Introduction to Actually Existing Capitalism (1) by Geoff Mann 1 year, 4 months ago

[...] Geoffrey Ingham has most effectively conceptualized the essentials as: (1) private enterprise for producing commodities, (2) market exchange, (3) a monetary system based on the production of bank-credit money, and (4) a distinction role for the state in relation to these features.

—p.13 An Introduction to Actually Existing Capitalism (1) by Geoff Mann 1 year, 4 months ago
21

Smith assumes that in this system, money serves almost entirely as a means of payment or unit of account. He doesn't imagine market participants seeing money as a form of wealth they could or should accumulate (as we would today). This leads him to assume that people will not hold money as a store of wealth, but will spend it, keeping the circular flow going.

characterising Smith as the first classical economist (differs from predecessors in that it concerns itself wih the whole nation, not just the monarch's coffers)

also: he implies that price serves as a signal to producers, and that the state doesn't need a big role (other than to protect the nation, enforce the law, and provide some public goods)

—p.21 Capitalist Political Economy: Smith to Marx to Keynes and Beyond (17) by Geoff Mann 1 year, 4 months ago

Smith assumes that in this system, money serves almost entirely as a means of payment or unit of account. He doesn't imagine market participants seeing money as a form of wealth they could or should accumulate (as we would today). This leads him to assume that people will not hold money as a store of wealth, but will spend it, keeping the circular flow going.

characterising Smith as the first classical economist (differs from predecessors in that it concerns itself wih the whole nation, not just the monarch's coffers)

also: he implies that price serves as a signal to producers, and that the state doesn't need a big role (other than to protect the nation, enforce the law, and provide some public goods)

—p.21 Capitalist Political Economy: Smith to Marx to Keynes and Beyond (17) by Geoff Mann 1 year, 4 months ago
23

[...] The most important difference between them lies not in their explanation of what drives capitalist production, but in the fact that Smith saw increasing harmony and mutual interdependence where Marx saw conflict, exploitation, and inequality. In his analysis of capitalism--and remember, unlike Smith, he wrote after the rise of the terrible factory system--Marx emphasized the tensions and conflicts endemic to capitalism, both in the relations between capitalists, and between capitalists and workers.

—p.23 Capitalist Political Economy: Smith to Marx to Keynes and Beyond (17) by Geoff Mann 1 year, 4 months ago

[...] The most important difference between them lies not in their explanation of what drives capitalist production, but in the fact that Smith saw increasing harmony and mutual interdependence where Marx saw conflict, exploitation, and inequality. In his analysis of capitalism--and remember, unlike Smith, he wrote after the rise of the terrible factory system--Marx emphasized the tensions and conflicts endemic to capitalism, both in the relations between capitalists, and between capitalists and workers.

—p.23 Capitalist Political Economy: Smith to Marx to Keynes and Beyond (17) by Geoff Mann 1 year, 4 months ago
26

What needed explaining, according to Marx, was why there were capitalists at all. Why didn't everyone have, or at least have access to those things that enabled you to produce things for use or exchange? How did the capitalists get to be the ones with the tools and resources? In search of an answer, he looked at European and especially English history. In light of those histories, he argued that capitalists and capitalism arose through a series of processes he called "original accumulation" (a phrase often translated less helpfully as "primitive accumulation"). By forcefully asserting a property right over what had been collective resources--enclosing common land, appropriating raw materials from colonized peoples, etc.--the means of production became concentrated in the hands of a few. This left the expropriated many with no means of getting by on their own. To survive, they had no choice but to find a way to get access to the means of production, which are also the means of putting food on the table.

—p.26 Capitalist Political Economy: Smith to Marx to Keynes and Beyond (17) by Geoff Mann 1 year, 4 months ago

What needed explaining, according to Marx, was why there were capitalists at all. Why didn't everyone have, or at least have access to those things that enabled you to produce things for use or exchange? How did the capitalists get to be the ones with the tools and resources? In search of an answer, he looked at European and especially English history. In light of those histories, he argued that capitalists and capitalism arose through a series of processes he called "original accumulation" (a phrase often translated less helpfully as "primitive accumulation"). By forcefully asserting a property right over what had been collective resources--enclosing common land, appropriating raw materials from colonized peoples, etc.--the means of production became concentrated in the hands of a few. This left the expropriated many with no means of getting by on their own. To survive, they had no choice but to find a way to get access to the means of production, which are also the means of putting food on the table.

—p.26 Capitalist Political Economy: Smith to Marx to Keynes and Beyond (17) by Geoff Mann 1 year, 4 months ago