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Fri, Jan. 9th, 2009 01:36 am
Capitalism: doesn't it make you (mentally) sick?

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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Jan. 9th, 2009 01:29 am (UTC)

In short, I don't think it's "capitalism" that does it.

Yes, and I think James is at pains to see a sliding scale. The worst thing for mental health has been a specific sort of neo-liberal, Anglospheric short-termist credit-oriented capitalism which we can now confine quite specifically between the dates 1979 and 2008.

The meltdown of that sort of capitalism has hit the Anglosphere much harder than other places -- like Berlin, where Poor-but-sexy Berliners shrug as crisis hits rivals, according to one recent article (which I don't disagree with -- I think Berlin has been a laboratory for post-capitalism for some time now, and I think the rest of the world might now start listening to some of the discoveries we've made here over the last decade or so).


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krskrft
krskrft
Fri, Jan. 9th, 2009 01:33 am (UTC)

I've always found it to be the case that you're essentially recession/depression-proof if you, individually, don't overextend yourself, and you maintain a job that won't instantly lay you off when the recession/depression hits.

A lot of people here in Korea are apparently "feeling the crunch," but I'm in the recession-proof industry of government-funded education and I've never owned a stock or a home in my life, so I don't feel it at all, unless I send money back to the U.S.


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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Jan. 9th, 2009 09:06 am (UTC)

I don't think all the creative outlets are going to wither away. My income comes from projects in New York, Vienna, California, Oslo, Frankfurt, London, Tokyo, even Berlin itself. Some of these projects have been hit by the recession -- I'm quitting my New York Times column, for instance, because they've halved my fee. But even if my overall income is reduced, Berlin is still the best place for me to be, because basic commodities (and particularly rent) are cheapest here. And this current recession means that the city isn't going to get more expensive any time soon.


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ataxi
ataxi
Tom
Fri, Jan. 9th, 2009 03:48 am (UTC)

The possibility of living and functioning in those particularly satisfying places (e.g. the "sexy Berlin" you often go on about) isn't available to every consumer. Even if I lived there I doubt I'd find it easy to join the community in a meaningful sense. And living and functioning in that community presumably confers a feeling of relative status without necessarily costing a lot.

Anyway, there was also an Australian book called Affluenza published. It was authored by two economists with a history of involvement in somewhat left-wing think tanks, and is more or less a polemic attacking spiralling consumer debt and supporting a social movement it alleges to exist and refers to as "downshifting". In the same vein as James perhaps with less of an emphasis on individual psychology and more on Freakonomics-esques statistics and survey results.

Interestingly, one of the authors, Clive Hamilton, is now coming under fire from the generic left-progressive-green cohort in Australia for being a somewhat wowserish "communitarian", a chap who tends to attribute any social ill to the breakdown of traditional social networks, the nuclear family, extended family, labour movement, social clubs etc. He's also one of the prime movers behind the socially conservative Rudd Labor government's plan to censor the Internet at the ISP level, which you would probably find as disturbing as most net users do.

As a personal anecdote, after nine months of "colonial tourism" backpacking around the world, I am back in my old cultural context but still haven't reconnected the TV after nearly a month. It's feeling good.


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