Diamond News

April 30, 2019

Working hard and doing what you're told is no longer yielding the promised American Dream of security, agency and liberty.

Volume One of Fernand Braudel's oft-recommended (by me) trilogy Civilization & Capitalism, 15th to 18th Century is titled The Structures of Everyday Life[1]. The book describes how life slowly became better and freer as the roots of modern capitalism and liberty spread in western Europe, slowly destabilizing and obsoleting the sclerotic tyrannies of feudalism.

Today I want to discuss the erosion of everyday life as a manifestation of the endgame of the current version of state capitalism, more precisely neofeudal state-cartel financialization, which combines financial predation of the home (core) economy and global exploitation of the Periphery (a.k.a. neocolonialism.)

Unlike the era Braudel describes, our era is characterized by the decline of liberty and the distortion of capitalism to serve the few at the expense of the many.

The over-used analogy of the boiled frog remains apt in understanding the erosion of everyday life: everyday life has become increasingly more difficult, more stressful, less rewarding financially, more deranging and less free for the past two generations. This erosion has gathered momentum in the 21st century as the status quo has ramped up its dysfunctional dynamics to keep the increasingly unequal distribution of wealth, power and liberty in place.

Consider the costs and capital flows of planned obsolescence. The consumer, who once was implicitly assured decades of reliable service from an American-made appliance, now gets an appliance that rarely lasts more than a decade, regardless of the brand or origin.

In the relentless...

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