As I noted in my last post, I recently read Miranda Joseph’s Against the Romance of Community as a means of thinking a bit more deeply about the ways that Generous Thinking deploys the notion of community.
Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia
Calls to work on behalf of the community or to the community’s values wind up not only, as I noted in my last post, ignoring community’s supplementary role with respect to capital but also essentializing a highly complex and intersectional set of social relations. ❧
This reminds me of some studies in psychology about why people vote and for whom they vote. It’s not always who they would vote for individually, but who would a group of people like them vote? This makes the “community” portion far more complex than it would appear.
I should track down the original references, but I think I remember reading about them via either George Lakoff or possibly Malcolm Gladwell.
Under late capital, the non-profit has been asked to take over the space of providing for community needs or supporting community interests that had formerly been occupied by the state as the entity responsible for the public welfare. ❧
I know the book American Amnesia talks about the value built up by a strong government working in conjunction with a capitalist machine over the past century or so. I wonder if the later half of the book gets into how to shift things back in this manner?
📖 Read loc 1440-2080 of 12932 (16.08%) of American Amnesia by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson
Examples and discussion of how markets can manage to fail and why we need good government to fill in the (gaping) holes.
There’s also some good discussion of rent seeking behavior here too. The more I read, the more I think this should be required reading for everyone. I could see a need for taking just the first three chapters and expanding them out into their own book.
📖 Read loc 962-1440 of 12932 (11.13%) of American Amnesia by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson
This continues to be intriguing with lots of examples (and footnotes, which I’ve been skipping over presently, but will circle back upon later). It continues to make a strong argument for a mixed economy and even bolsters with evidence that the richest countries are usually the ones with the most government–something which flies in the face of traditional Republican values. There’s also some good discussion of what markets are and aren’t capable of, a point which is often missed in the bigger public, potentially because of the decades of chanting that capitalism is best while we fought a cold war with Russia.
More people should really be concerned with externalities in the markets.
In general this seems to be a sweeping meta-analysis of lots of other sources and material, most of which is footnoted. I do sometimes wish they went into greater detail on many of their points, but I suspect that no one else would be reading the book because of its length. Their arguments are fairly quick and to the point however.
📖 Read loc 685-963 of 12932 (7.44%) of American Amnesia by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson
Slow progress, but there’s some great material here. At times I wish there was actually more underlying material that I know they could have included to increase the strength of their arguments. I’m already seeing some anecdotal evidence that could be bolstered. It’s still very interesting.
📖 Read loc 1-682 of 12932 (5.27%) of American Amnesia by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson
This portends to be very interesting in that they plan to show what has changed over much of the 1900’s to indicate the drastic evolution in American politics, life, and philosophy over the recent decades. In light of the political battles between the left and the right over the past several years, this could provide some much needed help and guidance.
Their basic thesis seems to be that a shift away from a mixed economy has slowed American growth and general prosperity. While they do seem to have a pointed (political) view, so far it’s incredibly well documented and footnoted for those who would like to make the counter-argument. They’ve definitely got some serious evidence to indicate how drastic the situation is, but I’m curious if they can directly tie their proposed cause to the effect. If nothing else, they’ve created a laundry list of problems in America which need to be addressed by some serious leadership soon.
In some sense I’m torn about what to think of a broader issue this touches upon and which I mentioned briefly while reading At Home in the Universe. Should we continue on the general path we’ve struck out upon (the mixed economy with government regulation/oversight), or should we continue evolving away? While we can’t see the complexity effects seven levels further in, they may be more valuable than what we’ve got now. For example Cesar Hidalgo looks at the evolution along a continuum of personbyte to larger groups: firms (firmbyte), governments, and mega-corporations in Why Information Grows, so I can easily see larger governments and corporations like Google drastically changing the world in which we live (operating at a level above what most humans can imagine presently), but the complexity of why and how they operate above (and potentially against) the good of the individual should certainly be called into question and considered as we move forward.