BEIJING - As I sat in my apartment, my lungs had this horrible feeling, and for maybe the first time living in Beijing I had a feeling of not wanting to go outside, not wanting to expose myself to any more of the air pollution. As I sat on the couch contemplating going to refill my water jugs, a 100 yard walk away I saw that the air pollution was reading over 700 for the US Embassy and was even off the charts for the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection. A reading of 300 or more would be a state of emergency in the United States.
The short-run production of The Builder Association's "House / Divided," directed by Marianne Weems, opens with a narrator reading the captivating introduction to John Steinbeck's masterpiece, the Grapes of Wrath:
I'm enthralled by the music video for Damian Marley and Skrillex's song "Make it Bun Dem" and the many artistic and political elements at play. Hat tip to Carol Ann for bringing the video to my attention, and then dissecting the piece with me over a Moroccan-French brunch one Saturday.
On the Series
Economics from the Left is a series dedicated to bringing to the fore the voices of economists from the left, voices much needed in these times of mainstream mediocrity and irrelevance. The worldviews within the series are increasingly more in tune with what the majority of the disenfrachised across the world are coming to understand as their own systemic state of affairs. Underground, rhizomatic, networked and most importantly, viable, these timely responses to the continuous systemic failures of the Capitalist system erupt with the possibilities of better things to come and solidarity against the inanity of mainstream discourse.
In the past sixteen years, over 250,000 farmers have committed suicide in India. That's one suicide every thirty minutes. By the time I finished watching a documentary about the sad epidemic, three more farmers had taken their lives.
The first draft of this letter (for the Romanian magazine Decât o Revistă) was written on November 14, 2011, one day before New York City's Occupy Wall Street encampment was raided. The second draft was finalized on November 22 while I was traveling in Nicaragua. The letter was translated into Romanian and publishd in January. To see how it appeared in the magazine (with accompanying photos by Ahmet Sibdial Sau), click here.
I watched the new movie Margin Call over the weekend. Margin Call is set at a major financial institution on the day that the firm realizes that their vast holdings in subprime mortgages are essentially worthless (for a good primer on the subprime debacle and its role in creating the Great Recession, read Michael Lewis' book, The Big Short).
On September 20, I attended a lecture by former UK Prime Minster Gordon Brown at The New School University. As he paced the stage, Brown outlined the themes of his new book, Beyond the Crash: Overcoming the First Crisis of Globalization.
Quite a title! I am sure we could come up with a globalization crisis that precedes the contemporary one he speaks of, but that's not the point of this post.