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What I’m Reading: Lefts’ Party Like It’s 2014

Here's an old post from the blog archives of Geekery Today; it was written about 5 years ago, in 2019, on the World Wide Web.

  1. [1][18-Jun-2020: Formerly moral painc; typographical error corrected. –RG]

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  1. Rad Geek

    In Turnips for Lattes, though, Flood’s bit on globalized economic complexity seems more than a little too quick to conclude that the issue must be limits on what many workers can imagine in the current landscape. Maybe service-sector workers’ imaginations are less limited than that, and in any case there’s a lot of tools we have now to better get a cognitive and imaginative grip on complex global supply-chains than we could in nineteen-aught-seven.

    In any case I have no idea why one would conclude that fast food outlets, baristas, etc. are supposed to produce nothing of obvious direct material value to themselves or their neighbors. (Of course burgers and coffee and sugar-milk-drinks are valuable.) Nor why it would be difficult for them to imagine localized exchange at least with each other, if nothing else. Nor why it would be unusual for them to think that IT workers and computer programmers — I mention all these here because they are the examples directly mentioned in the article — might be able to do something useful for them in exchange for food.

    It’s true that a proper fast-food outlet relies on a national or supra-national network — and making a computer relies on a massively intricate global network — of global commodity trades, both for raw materials and for partly-processed inputs. But some of these commodities are durable or easily substitutable in the short term, in any case very few IT workers or programmers are going to think of their job or their skillset in terms of producing computer hardware from scratch, the real constraints imposed by long-term global complexities don’t seem like the obvious big limits on short-to-medium term imagination — if anything, they’re more likely to be a hangover that only shows up later through hard experience and on reflection if things start running aground, etc. etc.

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