Rushkoff’s Life Inc.
Now this is a fairly explosive one, and it should be stated up front that it is just one side of a much much more complicated story which the author is leaving out (including lots of good parts). But it’s one side that is radically missing from American political, social, and economic discourse. Take it for that much and not the final end all truth. (Website for the book here.)
While Rushkoff’s criticism has echoes of The Frankfurt School (Marcusse especially) as well as a more updated Neo-Frankfurt/New Left critique (e.g. Naomi Klein), it thankfully doesn’t recommend Neo-Keynesianism as a solution–like Klein’s Shock Doctrine book did. In that sense it might qualify for what friend of the blog Nathan Origer promotes as left-conservatism.
A libertarianism that is still held too deeply to a Friedman-ite Monetarism and the Bank Monopoly system on which it is predicated strikes me as pretty weak brew. I think Rushkoff’s focus on complementary currencies is the only real way to create a libertarianism/localism with any teeth. Otherwise in very broad strokes, alternative currency-less and alternative communitarian-less libertarianism generally favors I think a court-heavy focus on Nanny State-ism (trans fats bans & the like) and lifestyle choices (e.g. drug decriminalization). Might just be me but those have never been the rallying cries for me. In other words, in our never-ending [and never ceasing to drive Mark crazy :)] debate here at the League about pure libertarianism and whether it’s ever existed or not, my argument is that any such thing can’t really come to be absent a creation of wealth outside of the banking system.
In other other words, in trying to understand where I come from on all this, one way I think about this is that liberalism (rule of law, separation of value sphere from governance) is the worst form of governance there is–until as Churchill said you study all the rest. Liberalism had to create the necessary fiction of separate individuals for political purposes since humans up to that point had not yet evolved to live with one another in community without making a complete violent mess of it. However that fiction became to be believed as a or even the real thing itself. A real saving thing–utilitarian ethics, individualist ethos, making it ideology–all flow from taking the idea of fictive separate self as a real thing. And to the degree it merged with a corporatist economy….well, then the problems never cease.
Since Rushkoff is aiming his fire at the core corporatist element and its inherent and intrinsic collusion with and dependence on the state, this critique cuts across the left/right spectrum of US discourse. The American left being still too largely optimistic about the power of the state–whether via monetary redistribution, bailouts, (temporary?) takeovers, public investment, and/or regulatory frameworks. The right being dominated by corporate power (not the least of which being military corporate power) and the lack of a real response to the economic crises of middle/lower classes in the global age (possible exception here).
I’ve gone down this road before arguing the need is not for a third party but rather for a third leg to the stool (The Commons). As applied to this discussion, The Commons creates wealth not banks. Which is why I agree 100% with his point on the banking industry (let it die) and have since the beginning. Banks basically need to become public utility and consultant businesses and lose their government enforced monopoly on the creation of wealth debt.]
For those reasons and many more, I think, it’s worth a listen and more importantly some seriously deep reflection.