The Contradictory Bind

Quoted from: Cloudmoney: Cash, Cards, Crypto and the War for our Wallets, Brett Scott, Vintage Publishing, 2022, ISBN: 9781847925879.

When describing the rise of automated surveillance capitalism, it is easy to point out its various dangers, but something more subtle drives my own discomfort. It is the pervasive feeling of inauthenticity that accompanies it. It is that tremor of emotional conflict a person feels when — in full knowledge of how Amazon is taking over the world — they nevertheless sense the futility of resistance, and find themselves with their finger on the ‘Buy’ button…

We have blindly stumbled into systems that exploit our short-term desires to the detriment of our longer ones, and they break and disrupt our lives if we attempt to pull back from them. Rather than crawling to Utopia, then, large-scale markets crawl towards concentrating production and consumption into pure conglomerations of profit-seeking, represented most acutely by transnational corporations. While the individuals who work within this conglomeration can feel many things, the financial and corporate sector as an institutional complex is unable to ‘feel’ anything except profit, so our systems are running away with us, like a centrifuge spinning ever faster. [Read more…]

Low-tech Zine

Brazilian “mini-publisher” Casatrês made a beautiful zine which includes three articles from Low-tech Magazine, translated into Portuguese. It is for sale on their website.

Damaged Earth Catalog

“We are humans and might as well get used to it. So far, remotely done power and glory—as via government, big business, formal education, church—has succeeded to the point where gross profits obscure actual loss. In response to this dilemma and to these losses a realm of intimate, community power is developing—power of communities to conduct their own education, find their own inspiration, shape their own environment, and share their knowledge with others. Practices that aid this process are sought and promoted by the DAMAGED EARTH CATALOG.”

–> Damaged Earth Catalog. [Read more…]

The Future is Degrowth

Quoted from: Schmelzer, Matthias, Andrea Vetter, and Aaron Vansintjan. The Future is Degrowth: A Guide to a World Beyond Capitalism. Verso Books, 2022.

These days, with growing interest in degrowth, it seems that almost every other week another humourless columnist for a major newspaper writes a criticism of degrowth. This is to be expected and even, to a certain extent, welcomed: the more those in positions of power rail against degrowth, the more people who might be sympathetic to it, who would otherwise not have heard about it, are exposed to it.

And, indeed, it also fulfils degrowth’s initial goal as a provocation, a conversation starter, a shit-disturber. Yet, usually, these columnists show little understanding of what degrowth means – and so their objections tend to badly miss the mark. [Read more…]

Does the circular economy fuel the throwaway society?

Quoted from: Figge, Frank, et al. “Does the circular economy fuel the throwaway society? The role of opportunity costs for products that lose value over time.” Journal of Cleaner Production (2022): 133207. Image: Horse Power by Stuart Taylor. Credit: JulieMay54 – CC BY-SA 4.0.

Extending the lifetime of products and using resources circularly are two popular strategies to increase the efficiency of resource use. Both strategies are usually assumed to contribute to the eco-efficiency of resource use independently… We find that in a perfectly circular economy, consumers are incentivized to discard their products more quickly than in a perfectly linear economy. A direct consequence of our finding is that extending product use is in direct conflict with closing resource loops in the circular economy… The article highlights the risk that closing resource loops and moving to a more circular economy incentivizes more unsustainable behavior. [Read more…]

No Tech Reader #33