Posts tagged ‘history’

Bookmarked “The Myth of the Barter Economy”

Original post found at: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/02/barter-society-myth/471051/

Introductory economics textbooks and widespread assumptions say that before the existence of money, people barterered with one another, but actually there’s no evidence that this ever occurred. The only barter economies that we know of existing, existed between people who had previously used money but had this come into short supply (as when the Roman Empire collapsed).

Instead, societies which have never used money tend to do a couple of different things: either stockpile supplies at a community level and distribute them fairly, or operate a “gift economy”, where everyone shares things with others as they need them, with the expectation that when you are the needy one, people will do the same. In gift economies there’s no score-keeping; it’s not like “owing a debt” or “calling in a favour”, it’s really about sharing freely.

So why has the “barter myth” become so prominent? The article argues that it’s really about justifying the underpinnings of capitalism, i.e. that everything is a commodity with an underlying value and that if you can’t trade at market prices, you don’t deserve the resources you need to live – and that this is a natural, universal truth that every society in human history has adhered to. You might note that this is not an assumption made by any of the societies that had never used money that we actually know existed – so the prioritisation of “trade value” ahead of human life and dignity is in fact a deliberate choice, not the natural law capitalists would prefer us to believe it is.

Liked “If Australia’s Unions Don’t Organize Unemployed Workers, They’re Digging Their Own Graves”

Original post found at: https://jacobinmag.com/2021/03/australia-labor-movement-unemployed-workers-unions/

This is suuuuch a good article about workers' struggles during the depression of the 1890s. Then, as now, there was an inclination to blame unemployed people for their own predicament, and a reluctance to acknowledge that the interests of those with jobs and those without are bettered by both groups uniting in a common struggle. Plus, the history is very interesting.

Bookmarked “The Utopian Promise of Self-Checkout Machines”

Original post found at: https://jacobinmag.com/2021/03/the-utopian-promise-of-self-checkout-machines

As these futurists saw it, technology would eliminate all kinds of boring and arduous work — making life easier for human beings and freeing up labor time in the process. Today, the self-checkout machine represents the paradox of technology and automation under capitalism: the very tools that could make life simpler and more rewarding threatening workers’ livelihoods and, in many cases, actually expanding the power of bosses to surveil and mete out discipline in the interests of profit.

Liked “How Korea Became a Forgotten War”

Original post found at: https://jacobinmag.com/2021/02/korea-forgotten-war-owen-miller-north-south/

During the Korean War, the United States inflicted unimaginable horrors on the Korean people. Yet today Americans know almost nothing about their government's role in war crimes and atrocities.

An interesting interview about how the Korean War has been largely forgotten in the West, despite being intensely destructive and never fully resolved.

photo of Jessica Smith is a left-wing feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also very interested in linguistics, history, technology and society.