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

In The New Spirit of Capitalism, social theorists Luc Boltanski and Ève Chiapello have argued that in the world after the protests in Paris in 1968 (and the countercultural revolution of the sixties more broadly), capitalism’s growth has become predatory. It preys on the people, ideas, things, and movements that are in direct opposition to it.

By mobilizing the creative industries of advertising, branding, and public relations, contemporary capitalism actively seeks out those who are opposed to it and offers them fame and fortune. In essence, capitalism stabilizes those movements, people, and ideas that are “outside” it by naming them. It brings them into the “mainstream” and the broader public consciousness.

Mark Fisher develops this train of thought too right?

—p.1 Against Creativity missing author 1 month, 2 weeks ago

In The New Spirit of Capitalism, social theorists Luc Boltanski and Ève Chiapello have argued that in the world after the protests in Paris in 1968 (and the countercultural revolution of the sixties more broadly), capitalism’s growth has become predatory. It preys on the people, ideas, things, and movements that are in direct opposition to it.

By mobilizing the creative industries of advertising, branding, and public relations, contemporary capitalism actively seeks out those who are opposed to it and offers them fame and fortune. In essence, capitalism stabilizes those movements, people, and ideas that are “outside” it by naming them. It brings them into the “mainstream” and the broader public consciousness.

Mark Fisher develops this train of thought too right?

—p.1 Against Creativity missing author 1 month, 2 weeks ago
1

[...] when the logic of capitalist competition is applied to media, public alternatives will struggle in an aggressive market for popular attention. Alternatives to Facebook already exist, but none have achieved the critical mass to make them viable. Even if Zuckerberg’s monopoly is broken up, the capitalist incentives driving the media environment could sustain Facebook, or platforms like it, indefinitely by constantly revolutionizing the means of addiction. It seems that without tackling these incentives head-on, the effect could be to create a tiered internet, with a healthier public sphere for some while leaving the most vulnerable to suffer the most pernicious effects of an online obsession.

Going further than Corbyn’s own proposals, for some the answer is to nationalize Facebook. Yet the resources of a tech giant — mainly data and active users — are not like a coal mine fixed in some specific territory; they are transferable. That’s why liberating the ideal of online connectivity and the power of big data demands that we kill off Facebook’s business model and ensure it is replaced by something better. To that end, we can suggest another policy that would instantly undermine the commodification wrought by the giant platforms, and level the playing field for alternatives: to ban online advertising, whether commercial or political.

Such a policy of seems a long way off, for now. Yet as with any reform that reclaims human activity from the control of markets, it raises a timeless political question — in this case, who controls access to information. By banning advertising, Facebook’s business model would cease to exist. Out of the picture, the media giant could be replaced by a publicly funded platform. [...] how could this happen on a national scale without an enormous, and likely both unpopular and unenforceable, national firewall?

Jeremy Corbyn’s Edinburgh speech provides some of the answers. A Facebook after capitalism could combine an open-sourced approach with democratic oversight. Like Wikipedia, networked technology can allow an alternative platform to be a collective endeavor, whether in terms of the coding itself, producing and regulating its content, and participating in its governance. However, it would be naive to swallow the Silicon Valley dream wholesale; algorithms shaped in an entirely open way are vulnerable to manipulation, as when Microsoft invented a Twitter bot that became a white supremacist in less than a day.

—p.1 Facebook After Capitalism missing author 2 months ago

[...] when the logic of capitalist competition is applied to media, public alternatives will struggle in an aggressive market for popular attention. Alternatives to Facebook already exist, but none have achieved the critical mass to make them viable. Even if Zuckerberg’s monopoly is broken up, the capitalist incentives driving the media environment could sustain Facebook, or platforms like it, indefinitely by constantly revolutionizing the means of addiction. It seems that without tackling these incentives head-on, the effect could be to create a tiered internet, with a healthier public sphere for some while leaving the most vulnerable to suffer the most pernicious effects of an online obsession.

Going further than Corbyn’s own proposals, for some the answer is to nationalize Facebook. Yet the resources of a tech giant — mainly data and active users — are not like a coal mine fixed in some specific territory; they are transferable. That’s why liberating the ideal of online connectivity and the power of big data demands that we kill off Facebook’s business model and ensure it is replaced by something better. To that end, we can suggest another policy that would instantly undermine the commodification wrought by the giant platforms, and level the playing field for alternatives: to ban online advertising, whether commercial or political.

Such a policy of seems a long way off, for now. Yet as with any reform that reclaims human activity from the control of markets, it raises a timeless political question — in this case, who controls access to information. By banning advertising, Facebook’s business model would cease to exist. Out of the picture, the media giant could be replaced by a publicly funded platform. [...] how could this happen on a national scale without an enormous, and likely both unpopular and unenforceable, national firewall?

Jeremy Corbyn’s Edinburgh speech provides some of the answers. A Facebook after capitalism could combine an open-sourced approach with democratic oversight. Like Wikipedia, networked technology can allow an alternative platform to be a collective endeavor, whether in terms of the coding itself, producing and regulating its content, and participating in its governance. However, it would be naive to swallow the Silicon Valley dream wholesale; algorithms shaped in an entirely open way are vulnerable to manipulation, as when Microsoft invented a Twitter bot that became a white supremacist in less than a day.

—p.1 Facebook After Capitalism missing author 2 months ago
1

It is, then, increasingly clear that Facebook is far from a neutral space in which users’ timelines are organically shaped by their networked interactions. Facebook is a publisher; it’s just a giant monopolistic one, driven at base by market incentives. As Zeynep Tufekci puts it, at its core, the tech giant’s “business is mundane: They’re ad brokers.” Indeed, as liberals focus the debate on user privacy and data harvesting they obscure the capitalist logics driving these practices, and what the alternatives might look like when data and global connectivity are free from private control.

It is spurious to respond to legitimate criticisms of Facebook by saying we can simply opt out if we don’t like it, or, like the Adam Smith Institute claims, that what Corbyn is saying amounts to a call to waste public money on building a “knockoff” alternative. Precisely Facebook’s biggest strength (also for users) is its critical mass; we use it because “everyone” is there and because we don’t want to — and in some cases, can’t afford to – “miss out.” Facebook functions as a public utility by sharing a mass of information and connecting as many users as possible. Its critical mass makes it a natural monopoly and that alone is bound to undermine users’ freedom of choice. But far from it thereby simply serving a public interest, it is governed by a business model centered on advertising, decisive to everything we see and do on the platform. [...]

—p.1 Facebook After Capitalism missing author 2 months ago

It is, then, increasingly clear that Facebook is far from a neutral space in which users’ timelines are organically shaped by their networked interactions. Facebook is a publisher; it’s just a giant monopolistic one, driven at base by market incentives. As Zeynep Tufekci puts it, at its core, the tech giant’s “business is mundane: They’re ad brokers.” Indeed, as liberals focus the debate on user privacy and data harvesting they obscure the capitalist logics driving these practices, and what the alternatives might look like when data and global connectivity are free from private control.

It is spurious to respond to legitimate criticisms of Facebook by saying we can simply opt out if we don’t like it, or, like the Adam Smith Institute claims, that what Corbyn is saying amounts to a call to waste public money on building a “knockoff” alternative. Precisely Facebook’s biggest strength (also for users) is its critical mass; we use it because “everyone” is there and because we don’t want to — and in some cases, can’t afford to – “miss out.” Facebook functions as a public utility by sharing a mass of information and connecting as many users as possible. Its critical mass makes it a natural monopoly and that alone is bound to undermine users’ freedom of choice. But far from it thereby simply serving a public interest, it is governed by a business model centered on advertising, decisive to everything we see and do on the platform. [...]

—p.1 Facebook After Capitalism missing author 2 months ago
1

Designating the market as natural and the state as unnatural is a convenient fiction for those wedded to the status quo. It makes the current distribution of power, wealth, and resources seem natural and thus inevitable and uncontestable.

But of course this isn’t true. States shape, sustain, and often create, markets, including neoliberal markets. The complexion of those markets depends on the balance of class forces at any given point in time. Capitalist markets, and the inequality and degradation they engender, are a political creation not a product of nature. Nature and society (and states and markets) are inseparable — simultaneously produced by humans through ideological, political, and economic processes.

Understanding this enables us to challenge the dominant idea of natural, free markets and the emancipatory potential of the firm promised by Mackey.

very simple point but worth remembering

—p.1 The Free-Market Fantasy by Nicole Aschoff 2 months ago

Designating the market as natural and the state as unnatural is a convenient fiction for those wedded to the status quo. It makes the current distribution of power, wealth, and resources seem natural and thus inevitable and uncontestable.

But of course this isn’t true. States shape, sustain, and often create, markets, including neoliberal markets. The complexion of those markets depends on the balance of class forces at any given point in time. Capitalist markets, and the inequality and degradation they engender, are a political creation not a product of nature. Nature and society (and states and markets) are inseparable — simultaneously produced by humans through ideological, political, and economic processes.

Understanding this enables us to challenge the dominant idea of natural, free markets and the emancipatory potential of the firm promised by Mackey.

very simple point but worth remembering

—p.1 The Free-Market Fantasy by Nicole Aschoff 2 months ago
1

Today, the dominant discourse governing discussion of markets, states, and companies is neoliberalism, and Mackey’s free-market business model and historical narrative fit neatly within this framework. In this vision, the economic sphere is “an autonomous, self-adjusting, and self-regulated system that [can] achieve a natural equilibrium spontaneously and produce increased wealth.”

But the free-market historical narrative lacks empirical weight. As economic historian Karl Polanyi argued decades ago, capitalist markets are a product of state engineering, not nature.

The history of industrial development in the United States, often considered the epicenter of free markets, demonstrates the political nature of markets. The history of market formation in the United States reveals an industrial structure supplied by goods and capital extracted from slave labor and facilitated through a state-sponsored, genocidal land grab.

Far-reaching government legislation protected domestic markets and infant industries from external competition, and federal and state governments played a central role in the development of physical infrastructure (canals, railways, telegraphy) and the creation of huge bodies of agricultural and industrial knowledge — all essential elements in the genesis of American industrial capitalism.

At the same time, society’s greatest inventions and innovations of the past two hundred years — rockets to the moon, penicillin, computers, the Internet — were not bestowed upon us by lone entrepreneurs and firms operating in free markets under conditions of healthy competition. They were the work of institutions: CERN and the Department of Defense created the Internet, while Bell Labs — a subdivision of AT&T, freed from market competition by federally granted monopoly rights — generated transistors, radar, information theory, “quality control,” and dozens of other innovations central to our epoch.

—p.1 The Free-Market Fantasy by Nicole Aschoff 2 months ago

Today, the dominant discourse governing discussion of markets, states, and companies is neoliberalism, and Mackey’s free-market business model and historical narrative fit neatly within this framework. In this vision, the economic sphere is “an autonomous, self-adjusting, and self-regulated system that [can] achieve a natural equilibrium spontaneously and produce increased wealth.”

But the free-market historical narrative lacks empirical weight. As economic historian Karl Polanyi argued decades ago, capitalist markets are a product of state engineering, not nature.

The history of industrial development in the United States, often considered the epicenter of free markets, demonstrates the political nature of markets. The history of market formation in the United States reveals an industrial structure supplied by goods and capital extracted from slave labor and facilitated through a state-sponsored, genocidal land grab.

Far-reaching government legislation protected domestic markets and infant industries from external competition, and federal and state governments played a central role in the development of physical infrastructure (canals, railways, telegraphy) and the creation of huge bodies of agricultural and industrial knowledge — all essential elements in the genesis of American industrial capitalism.

At the same time, society’s greatest inventions and innovations of the past two hundred years — rockets to the moon, penicillin, computers, the Internet — were not bestowed upon us by lone entrepreneurs and firms operating in free markets under conditions of healthy competition. They were the work of institutions: CERN and the Department of Defense created the Internet, while Bell Labs — a subdivision of AT&T, freed from market competition by federally granted monopoly rights — generated transistors, radar, information theory, “quality control,” and dozens of other innovations central to our epoch.

—p.1 The Free-Market Fantasy by Nicole Aschoff 2 months ago
1

[...] if you can’t conceive of social life organized in any terms except commodities, if you can’t conceive of any right that isn’t a property right, if you can’t conceive of any sort of goal or organizing principle of collective productive activity except maximizing profit or some kind of stand-in for profit, then the term neoliberalism isn’t going to make much sense to you. Because the extension of market logic can’t be parsed by someone with a worldview where everything is already organized as markets or might as well be.

I suppose you could say that neoliberalism is broader than financialization in the sense that the growth of finance is about enforcement of market logic on other domains of human activity. But it’s not the only instrument for that. You can imagine and you can point to other methods of enforcing that logic that don’t really consist of anything you would call financial institutions or the development of financial markets or anything like that.

this is excellent

(Seth later describes neoliberalism as the ensemble of the responses/adjustments as market logic is insidiously imposed on more domains of society)

—p.1 The Disruptors: An Interview with J. W. Mason by J. W. Mason 2 months ago

[...] if you can’t conceive of social life organized in any terms except commodities, if you can’t conceive of any right that isn’t a property right, if you can’t conceive of any sort of goal or organizing principle of collective productive activity except maximizing profit or some kind of stand-in for profit, then the term neoliberalism isn’t going to make much sense to you. Because the extension of market logic can’t be parsed by someone with a worldview where everything is already organized as markets or might as well be.

I suppose you could say that neoliberalism is broader than financialization in the sense that the growth of finance is about enforcement of market logic on other domains of human activity. But it’s not the only instrument for that. You can imagine and you can point to other methods of enforcing that logic that don’t really consist of anything you would call financial institutions or the development of financial markets or anything like that.

this is excellent

(Seth later describes neoliberalism as the ensemble of the responses/adjustments as market logic is insidiously imposed on more domains of society)

—p.1 The Disruptors: An Interview with J. W. Mason by J. W. Mason 2 months ago
1

But in the real world, the constraint the market imposes on you is that you can’t spend more today than the money available to you today. Which, in the most extreme form, means that the income you’ve collected in the past is the hard limit on how much you can spend today. That’s the ultimate form of market discipline and, in that sense, the whole function of finance is to remove that discipline — to allow spending today based on future income that hasn’t yet been received, and may not be received.

In a fundamental sense, the reason we have finance is to allow money-losing enterprises to operate. The money-losing enterprises are the ones whose current activities don’t fully pay for themselves, which is why they need to raise finances in the first place. That’s what it means, in a cash-flow sense, to be carrying out investment: you’re carrying out activities which, in the current period, don’t pay for themselves. You believe, you hope, that they will pay for themselves in the future, but at the moment they don’t.

The purpose of finance is to allow that to happen, to allow people’s beliefs and hopes about the future to take precedence over the actual results that have been achieved in the present. But then, on the other hand, the judgment of finance is supposed to be enforcing market discipline, even on actors who otherwise might not be subject to it — like states, and, potentially, large corporations whose existing profits are already more than they need to maintain themselves and achieve their desired level of growth.

ahhh i really like this

—p.1 The Disruptors: An Interview with J. W. Mason by J. W. Mason 2 months ago

But in the real world, the constraint the market imposes on you is that you can’t spend more today than the money available to you today. Which, in the most extreme form, means that the income you’ve collected in the past is the hard limit on how much you can spend today. That’s the ultimate form of market discipline and, in that sense, the whole function of finance is to remove that discipline — to allow spending today based on future income that hasn’t yet been received, and may not be received.

In a fundamental sense, the reason we have finance is to allow money-losing enterprises to operate. The money-losing enterprises are the ones whose current activities don’t fully pay for themselves, which is why they need to raise finances in the first place. That’s what it means, in a cash-flow sense, to be carrying out investment: you’re carrying out activities which, in the current period, don’t pay for themselves. You believe, you hope, that they will pay for themselves in the future, but at the moment they don’t.

The purpose of finance is to allow that to happen, to allow people’s beliefs and hopes about the future to take precedence over the actual results that have been achieved in the present. But then, on the other hand, the judgment of finance is supposed to be enforcing market discipline, even on actors who otherwise might not be subject to it — like states, and, potentially, large corporations whose existing profits are already more than they need to maintain themselves and achieve their desired level of growth.

ahhh i really like this

—p.1 The Disruptors: An Interview with J. W. Mason by J. W. Mason 2 months ago
1

We cite a nice paper by José Azar where he reports that in 1999 less than 20 percent of firms in the S&P 1500 had a substantial shareholder in common, a shareholder that owned 5 percent of more of their stock. In other words, if you randomly picked any two publicly traded corporations, it was relatively unlikely — a one in five chance — that they had a large shareholder in common.

By 2014, the proportion had reached 90 percent. In other words, almost every corporation shares large shareholders with other large corporations.

[...]

[...] It’s not that there’s been a huge change in the distribution of the ultimate wealth owners, but the actual stocks are owned by a relatively small number of financial vehicles that then, in turn, are owned by a widely dispersed group of people.

But as Azar and others have pointed out, from a shareholder-value perspective, that really changes the logic of profit maximization. If each firm has a different set of shareholders, “maximizing profits for the shareholders” is basically the same as “maximizing profits for the firm.” But when you have the same shareholders across all these different firms, those two objectives are quite different.

[...]

If you’re a shareholder who owns all of the major airlines, you want them to just divvy up market share in a stable way. The last thing you want is to see them all competing and offering fare cuts that are just going to the customers and not to you.

[...]

If you take competition out of the mix, it’s unclear what function private ownership is supposed to accomplish. If the evolution of finance gets you to a situation where you have a single set of institutions — or in the long run, maybe a single institution — that owns all of these firms, then pressure from shareholders is going to be against competition. They don’t want to see these firms trying to gain market share or anything else at each other’s expense.

really fascinating stuff - he's basically saying that because ownership is more dispersed (mediated by huge index funds and the like), then shareholders end up owning lots of shares in firms that are competitors. in that case, "ruinous competition" ends up benefiting customers and NOT shareholders overall, so that changes the dynamics of profit maximisation

Seth Ackerman follows up with:

It’s hard to listen to what you just said without thinking of the debates that took place in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, where many people — arguably including Marx — predicted either that firms would be consolidated into the hand of a very small number of controllers or that the underlying wealth would be concentrated into the hands of fewer and fewer people. And in either case, it would undermine the basic logic that made capitalism an economically and politically successful system in the first place.

—p.1 The Disruptors: An Interview with J. W. Mason by J. W. Mason 2 months ago

We cite a nice paper by José Azar where he reports that in 1999 less than 20 percent of firms in the S&P 1500 had a substantial shareholder in common, a shareholder that owned 5 percent of more of their stock. In other words, if you randomly picked any two publicly traded corporations, it was relatively unlikely — a one in five chance — that they had a large shareholder in common.

By 2014, the proportion had reached 90 percent. In other words, almost every corporation shares large shareholders with other large corporations.

[...]

[...] It’s not that there’s been a huge change in the distribution of the ultimate wealth owners, but the actual stocks are owned by a relatively small number of financial vehicles that then, in turn, are owned by a widely dispersed group of people.

But as Azar and others have pointed out, from a shareholder-value perspective, that really changes the logic of profit maximization. If each firm has a different set of shareholders, “maximizing profits for the shareholders” is basically the same as “maximizing profits for the firm.” But when you have the same shareholders across all these different firms, those two objectives are quite different.

[...]

If you’re a shareholder who owns all of the major airlines, you want them to just divvy up market share in a stable way. The last thing you want is to see them all competing and offering fare cuts that are just going to the customers and not to you.

[...]

If you take competition out of the mix, it’s unclear what function private ownership is supposed to accomplish. If the evolution of finance gets you to a situation where you have a single set of institutions — or in the long run, maybe a single institution — that owns all of these firms, then pressure from shareholders is going to be against competition. They don’t want to see these firms trying to gain market share or anything else at each other’s expense.

really fascinating stuff - he's basically saying that because ownership is more dispersed (mediated by huge index funds and the like), then shareholders end up owning lots of shares in firms that are competitors. in that case, "ruinous competition" ends up benefiting customers and NOT shareholders overall, so that changes the dynamics of profit maximisation

Seth Ackerman follows up with:

It’s hard to listen to what you just said without thinking of the debates that took place in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, where many people — arguably including Marx — predicted either that firms would be consolidated into the hand of a very small number of controllers or that the underlying wealth would be concentrated into the hands of fewer and fewer people. And in either case, it would undermine the basic logic that made capitalism an economically and politically successful system in the first place.

—p.1 The Disruptors: An Interview with J. W. Mason by J. W. Mason 2 months ago
1

The other thing we wanted to push against is the flip side of that notion, which is the idea of finance as a distinct social actor with a distinct set of interests – that we can talk about finance capital as if it had its own material interests distinct , or opposed to, industrial capital or capital in general.

That just doesn’t seem to fit the sociology of the system we live under, where there’s obviously a lot of back and forth between these groups. In general, the wealth that takes the form of claims on productive enterprises also takes the form of financial assets. There’s not a distinct group of people or entities who you would call industrial capital as opposed to finance capital.

Again, this functional view of finance, as the enforcement arm of the capitalist class as a whole, seems more productive.

"the enforcement arm of the capitalist class as a whole" i like that

—p.1 The Disruptors: An Interview with J. W. Mason by J. W. Mason 2 months ago

The other thing we wanted to push against is the flip side of that notion, which is the idea of finance as a distinct social actor with a distinct set of interests – that we can talk about finance capital as if it had its own material interests distinct , or opposed to, industrial capital or capital in general.

That just doesn’t seem to fit the sociology of the system we live under, where there’s obviously a lot of back and forth between these groups. In general, the wealth that takes the form of claims on productive enterprises also takes the form of financial assets. There’s not a distinct group of people or entities who you would call industrial capital as opposed to finance capital.

Again, this functional view of finance, as the enforcement arm of the capitalist class as a whole, seems more productive.

"the enforcement arm of the capitalist class as a whole" i like that

—p.1 The Disruptors: An Interview with J. W. Mason by J. W. Mason 2 months ago
1

But this kind of branding exercise is a perfect example of how capitalism transforms its opponents into its promoters. Drawing on an advertising and technology industry that scours the social world for images, movements, and experiences yet to be commercialized, capitalism’s “creative” edge leaches any semblance that these could be utilized to create alternative social worlds. Any movement (be it a countercultural group, protest movement, meme, or activist ideology) that is looking to destabilize capitalism is viewed as a potential market to exploit.

Hence, capitalism’s “creative” power does not create — it appropriates.

It offers dissenting voices financial incentives, recognition, or even simply a rest from the emotional and physical exhaustion of constantly fighting. But in doing so, those anti-capitalists stop destabilizing capitalism: instead, they become fertile grounds to harvest more profit.

—p.1 Against Creativity missing author 1 month, 2 weeks ago

But this kind of branding exercise is a perfect example of how capitalism transforms its opponents into its promoters. Drawing on an advertising and technology industry that scours the social world for images, movements, and experiences yet to be commercialized, capitalism’s “creative” edge leaches any semblance that these could be utilized to create alternative social worlds. Any movement (be it a countercultural group, protest movement, meme, or activist ideology) that is looking to destabilize capitalism is viewed as a potential market to exploit.

Hence, capitalism’s “creative” power does not create — it appropriates.

It offers dissenting voices financial incentives, recognition, or even simply a rest from the emotional and physical exhaustion of constantly fighting. But in doing so, those anti-capitalists stop destabilizing capitalism: instead, they become fertile grounds to harvest more profit.

—p.1 Against Creativity missing author 1 month, 2 weeks ago