Thursday, September 28, 2017

Excerpts from a book review

I remembered the phrase "business civilization" and looked it up.

First hit, The New York Times:
Business Civilization In Decline

Is capitalism dying? Robert L. Heilbroner is sure it is. He expects it to be gone within a century. Yet, although Heilbroner is himself a socialist, the impending demise of capitalism leaves him joyless; for he is full of apprehension about the conditions that are causing capitalism to rot and bringing statist regimes into being. And he fears that personal freedoms and parliamentary political institutions, which he reveres, may die with capitalism.

By Robert L. Heilbroner. 127 pp. New York: W. W. Norton & Co. Cloth, $6.95. Paper. $2.95.
Those prices seem right to you?

The article is from 1976. Yeah, the prices are about right.

Heilbroner writes: “Much as we now Inspect Chichdn Itzi, the Great Wall, the pyramids, Machu Picchu, so we may some day visit and marvel at the ruins of the great steel works at Sparrows Point, the atomic complex at Hanford, the computer centers at Houston.”
Turns out we didn't have to wait a century to "marvel at the ruins of the great steel works at Sparrows Point":
Source: This drone video shows the disheveled remains of Sparrows Point steel mill (2015)
"But the worst of all," the article continues,
But the worst of all, in the future we may long for the time when liberties were accorded to “artistic statements, social or sexual habits, political utterances.”
We didn't have to wait a century for that, either.

The article, by Leonard Silk, also includes this statement which I include here because it will be useful later:
Why should a society—which Daniel Bell calls a post‐industrial society—that is shifting from the production of goods to services become a more centralized system, rather than the reverse? Admittedly, the provision of some services, such as telephone communications, may have large economies of scale, but others, including education, medicine, the arts and sciences, do not. Even in massive existing corporations, the degree of vertical and horizontal monopoly in the United States today is less obviously a result of economies of scale than of market power, often reinforced by government, which carries its own political dangers.
Monopoly power in the United States today is less a result of economies of scale than of market power reinforced by government

See also: The power to change the world

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