Archive for the ‘Book Summary’ Category

Martha Howell: Commerce before Capitalism (Definition of Capitalism)

Interesting definition of Capitalism here. Not market production, or trade in a market, that has been present historically since the first human societies. That is to say the market is not what is unique about capitalism, every culture has had market exchange, “take surplus from production and trade it” via a third unit of measure like money. So it is not money either. Capitalism is not market production. People who live by buying and selling or negotiate for people who want to buy and sell are not capitalists, that is not unique to any period of life. There were always active markets and traders. So maybe we should stop using capitalism. Rather in a Marxist sense Capitalism is an attitude, which is production for the purpose of procuring a surplus. C-m-C’ basically. Note the focus on production rather than trade, the industrialist rather than the merchant. “people produce for sale” is the central definition of capitalism. People make things in order to sell them. This is an interesting definition of capitalism that relies on the way people relate to their own labor and the products of that labor. They don’t care what they make, only what they can make to sell. The object is to sell, to make a profit. Howell further says that people are compelled to invest most of the profits in production and the sociopolitical infrastructure that allows them to keep and expand that money. The object of production becomes making more money. It is a world of a certain logic which governs production. Peasants and subsistence agriculturalists and artisans are not capitalists. Ofcourse they go to market, but the purpose is not to produce surplus and profit. Obviously this is an ideal type of Capitalism, even today no one really only produces to profit more and they often spend on personal expenses or for non-profit reasons. But still as an ideal type, this is the logic of capitalism.

Not that the logic of pre-capitalist was irrational, it was a different rationality, The ends were different. The values were different. The relation to property was different. Not everything was for sale. (Almost sounds like Heidegger’s instrumental logic). Relations to land even in Europe were communal, everything on the land was owned in common by a family, or many people who could claim revenue of that land. Because land produces profit perpetually. Land is pretty much priceless.

Capitalism emerges when people start acting by the profit motive.

Moveable objects volatile, can be destroyed or make you a lot of money (like a ship).



Thomas Kuhn. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

January 31, 2012 Leave a comment

Bla Bla bla

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Marky Blyth Great Transformations

January 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Marky Blyth’s book mainly states that ideas should be accounted for when explaining economic behaviour. His these are that ideas provide stability and not institutions in situations of Knightian uncertainty (you don’t know the future or your own interests). This makes sense, it is not institutions that make us feel safe but our knowledge of the way the world works. To this end a large number of ideas are covered in the book comparing Sweden and the US. The other theses are that ideas are required to attack, dismantle, set up, and operate stabely new institutions of economic governance. In the US an Denmark both countries developed embedded liberalism where employment was valued over inflation and both business and labour were embedded in the state structure that mediated the two. There is then a shift in the 1970s towards the self regulating market liberalism using monetarism and other financial creeds that is continuing today. This is important because Blyth shows that economic change BEGINS with ideas. Agents actively try to win the debate of ideas and after the 1960s business was gaining ground because it redefined its own interests and how to achieve stability in the economy and organized itself in a way that it could use the concentrated influence of its wealth to change popular opinion in the US and elite opinion in Sweden. The ideas behind what is good for the economy (mainly low inflation and investment versus high employment and consumption) are therefore not natural economic processes that result from exogenous shocks but a result of internal dynamics. This book is somewhat  frustrating because it clearly shows how money talks and how it came to talk over the years, but it also shows how agents have power and can induce change (usually if they are well organized and have money and deal well with public relations). The current theory of chnage argues that domestic economic shifts towards conservatism occur because of technological developments, increased competition, or external shocks, Blyth shows that before any of these can have an effect the ideas for them to play out must be set. For Blyth there is a limit to what action governments can take set by the ideological environment. Therefore Swedish bourgeoise leaders acted as socialists in power because they had no alternative ideas before resuscitating monetarism and the current Neoliberals govern as conservatives because the limits of the possible choices of action are already set. This is worse in Europe because the highly conservative EU regulates economies from the center.

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Book Summary: Simone Abd Al Maliq, For the City Yet to come

December 5, 2011 Leave a comment

This book covers a case study of four African cities and the mechanisms of social existence in these cities with some attention to the role that the state plays. Abd Al Maliq shows an alternative way of constructing the city of the future by looking at the actual practices in some of the most dynamic cities in the world. Instead of moving from the ideal state to reality he shows how we can move in reverse.

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Book Summary, Manu Goswami, Producing India from Colonial Economy to National Space

October 7, 2011 1 comment

As the title indicates Manu Goswami traces the production of India. The term production is well fit here especially since the author focuses on the dynamics between colonial policy, their consumption by locals and the emergence of a reaction to colonial policies. This is a really nice book, well written and covers the time period in an easily readable and thorough manner. It attempts to specifically mix the global trends of the times with local conditions and is critical of the post-colonial nationalism that emerged out of colonialism in a way which does not undermine their achievements. His methodology is especially oriented against the trend of national methodologies where the borders of the study stop at national boundaries, instead Goswami traces global threads and trends into local and regional events and shows how they came together to produce India by 1950.

In several fields, pedagogy, transport, economics, knowledge, production, ideology, the British implemented policies, they had a locval effect, people reacted in their new epistemologies and these were directed against british all under changing global trends on economic nationalism, and capitalism. Ultimatley resulted in protests and convergance of local theology of hinduism foundaional myths and liberal economics and modern ideas of progress fusing into anti-colonial movement. Muslim had different experiene of founding  India.

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Carlo Galli Political Spaces and Global War

September 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Carlo Galli argues that the spatial representations that define politics are no longer adequate to describe our “globalization” epoch and that therefore efforts by political theorists should be expended to creatively come up with new ways of thinking about space.

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Jack Snyder Myths of Empire

September 23, 2011 Leave a comment

This will be short


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