No impending New Year deserves to be unaccompanied with predictions that it, the New Year, will then proceed to ridicule. So, to tempt fate, here is my prediction for the 2022. Plus, two eye-opening books I recommend to people kept up at night by concerns similar to mine. Happy New Year to all, friends and foes.
The coming year will prove that all the talk of renewed 1970s-style stagflation was wildly exaggerated. The Chinese central bank’s experimentation with a digital renminbi will continue to send shivers down spines at the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank, but their leadership will prove too timid to issue their own crypto dollar or euro. Why? Because Wall Street and the Frankfurt banks would scream bloody murder, fearing (correctly) the loss of their monopoly over payments once the central banks grant every citizen a digital wallet.
Meanwhile, political paralysis will continue to deepen on both sides of the Atlantic in 2022, with US President Joe Biden’s administration stymied by the prospect of losing Congress in November’s midterm elections, and the EU facing greater fragmentation once the new German government begins to demand new austerity in the countries that can afford it the least.
TOP BOOK OF 2021 – David Graeber and David Wengrow (2021). The Dawn of Everything: A new history of humanity, Allen Lane
To reveal one monstrous misconception about a central aspect of humanity’s development is the mark of a genius. But to reveal two is mindboggling. Having first debunked the conventional story of how money emerged to replace barter (in his Debt: The first 500 years), the late David Graeber, ably assisted by co-author David Wengrow, is determined to liberate us from our misconception regarding the social organisation of prehistoric societies. With this book, pre-History suddenly became fascinating, not to mention a source of insights about our era.
ANOTHER TOP BOOK (published in 2019) – McKenzie Wark (2019). Capital is Dead: Is this something worse?, Verso
Information has been a favourite subject of free marketeer social theorists, like Fredrich von Hayek, who have argued that only markets – and thus capitalism – have the capacity to process information effectively. This is the first book I know written by a left-wing theorist who takes information as seriously, who thinks of its management and ownership as crucial in determining the distribution of surplus value, and who dares convincingly to claim that information technology is becoming for capitalism that which the steam engine was to feudalism: a death knell.