Useful Resource: Hans Ehrbar’s Annotations to Marx’s Capital

[Das Kapital, special edition with gold-edge… I simply had to have it!]

This 3178 page document (yes, that is correct) is a treasure for anyone reading Capital. I was looking for a good English equivalent to Schatzbildung (translated as “hoarding” in Capital, chap.3:3) and came across it. The best part is that it’s easy to use because of all the hyperlinks and searchability. I hope more scholars put up their work online and challenge the system of subscription-only access to knowledge and research, especially in humanities.

Ehrbar also has a full German/English (side-by-side) text of Capital here and other resources here.

Dubai: An Enormous Ponzi Scheme?

Last week it was all over the news that Dubai World Corp was trying to renegotiate some of its debt repayments.  Unsurprisingly, stock markets around the world dipped.  Yet, at first many of the commentators insisted that people hold back the knee jerk reaction to panic because the economics of Dubai were at bottom, solid.  Hmmm…  From all accounts there are empty shopping plazas, restaurants, buildings etc. one wonders if a country with very little, if any natural resources, may want to “sober up.”  Anyway, here’s an article about Dubai I found on CNN:

London, England (CNN) — For the past decade, Dubai has been home to the greatest concentration of cranes anywhere in the world as billions of tonnes of concrete, steel and glass have refashioned the city skyline. But the rapid growth of the past six years has slowed recently due to the global slump in property prices. Hopes of a recovery have now been further imperiled by the news that the state-owned Dubai World has requested to delay paying its massive debts by six months. Dubai has become a playground for architects as well as millionaires commissioning a string of audacious building projects aimed at helping reposition the city as the financial and cultural hub of the Middle East. Billions of dollars have been spent transforming the landscape, erecting buildings which continue to break records of all dimensions. The Burj Dubai — at 818 meter the world’s tallest skyscraper, the vast Palm Jumeirah — built on land reclaimed from the sea, the Dubai Mall — the largest shopping center in the world and the Mall of the Emirates; home to the world’s biggest indoor ski slope form part of a very long list of completed construction projects. “The whole place is kind of like a time-lapse film. You wake up in the morning and it’s just a little bit different,” Jim Krane, author of “City of Gold: Dubai and the Dream of Capitalism” told CNN. But, according to Krane, some of these projects, like the Burj Dubai, suffer from a severe lack of practicality. “Dubai doesn’t really need to have to build tall asides from prestige purposes. If you look at it, it’s a really bad idea. It uses as much electricity as an entire city. And every time the toilet is flushed they’ve got to pump water half a mile into the sky,” he said. The telescopic shape is also presents problems of a more practical nature Krane thinks. “The upper 30 or 40 floors are so tiny that they’re useless, so they can’t use them for anything else apart from storage. They’ve built a small, not so useful storage warehouse half a mile in the sky,” he said.  Read the rest

Life Inc: The Book

Douglas Rushkoff has written a new book–Life Inc— about the rise of corporatism begun in the Renaissance.  Here’s a blurb:

Taking on some of the biggest assumptions of our age, this is a book filled with dangerous ideas and rather unspeakable heresies(?!):

  • Money is not a part of nature, to be studied by a science like economics, but an invention with a specific purpose.
  • Centralized currency is just one kind of money – one not intended to promote transactions but to promote the accumulation of capital by the wealthy.
  • Banking is our society’s biggest industry, and debt is our biggest product.
  • Corporations were never intended to promote commerce, but to prevent it.
  • The development of chartered corporations and centralized currency caused the plague; the economic devastation ended Europe’s most prosperous centuries, and led to the deaths of half of its population.
  • The more money we make, the more debt we have actually created.
  • Most importantly, Rushkoff shows how this moment of financial crisis is actually an opportunity to reinstate commerce and communities based in creating value for one another, rather than continuing to extract it for the benefit of institutions that no longer exist.

Well, ok. Not all that original (I think Marx clearly saw this , for one example), but Rushkoff has a nice way of popularizing and distilling ideas for the general reader and it just may be decent summer reading.  Here’s Rushkoff talking about his new book:

Life Inc. The Movie from Douglas Rushkoff on Vimeo.