Friday, April 17, 2020

Rethinking the concept of capitalism: a historian’s perspective

Rethinking the concept of capitalism: a historian’s perspective. Youngsoo Bae. Social History, Volume 45, 2020 - Issue 1, Pages 1-25, Feb 7 2020.

ABSTRACT: This essay seeks to rethink the concept of capitalism by focusing on power relationships. Conventionally, capitalism has been treated as being essentially an economic or socio-economic system, whereas recent scholars have highlighted the political process and other underappreciated aspects. I propose that capitalism be redefined as a type of civilization: in essence, as a power structure, in a very wide sense, which is established by a group of people who organize themselves and allocate available resources. It presupposes polity, citizenship, and political process, which, along with property rights, contractual safeguards, and other institutions supporting the market economy, may be called the political foundation of capitalism. As such, capitalism has a highly distinctive feature in that economic power is almost independent of political authority, religious command, or physical violence. This redefined concept has significant implications for understanding the history of capitalism. Above all, it assists in rethinking the framework of interpretation and observing the changing dynamics of international relationships in the modern world. Furthermore, it advances fresh perspectives on American history, specifically on such issues as the transition to capitalism, the fate of the ruling class, the nature of slavery in the antebellum South, and gender in the history of capitalism.

KEYWORDS: Concept of capitalism, capitalist civilization, power structure, political authority, economic power, history of capitalism, varieties of capitalism

From 2017... Class struggles we may not like are those provoked by cholera, with riots of 10,000, murdering state officials & doctors, destroying hospitals, town halls, & in the case of Donetsk, an entire city

From 2017... Cholera revolts: a class struggle we may not like. Samuel Kline Cohn Jr. Social History, Volume 42, 2017 - Issue 2, Pages 162-180, Apr 19 2017.

Abstract: Few have studied cholera revolts comparatively, and certainly not over the vast terrain from Asiatic Russia to Quebec or across time from the first European cholera wave of the 1830s to the twentieth century. Scholars have instead concentrated on the first European cholera wave in the 1830s and have tended to explain cholera’s social violence within the political contexts of individual nations, despite these riots raging across vast differences in political landscapes from Czarist Russia to New York City but with similar fears and conspiracy theories of elites inventing cholera to cull populations of the poor. Moreover, the history of cholera’s social toxins runs against present generalizations on why epidemics spawn blame and violence against others. Cholera riots continued, and in Italy and Russia became geographically more widespread, vicious, and destructive long after the disease had lost its mystery. The article then poses the question of why historians on the left have not studied the class struggles provoked by cholera, with riots of 10,000, murdering state officials and doctors, destroying hospitals, town halls, and in the case of Donetsk, an entire city. Finally, the article draws parallels between Europe’s cholera experiences and those in West Africa with Ebola in 2014.

KEYWORDS: Cholera, epidemics, conspiracies, riots, class struggle, Karl Marx, comparative history

Humans & primates’ reactions to death-related threats highlight a general tendency to “cling to the group” & to display increased social motivation in the face of death and deadly events

Adam-Troian, J., Bonetto, E., Varet, F., Arciszewski, T., & Dezecache, G. (2020). Explaining social behavior in response to death-related threats: The conspecific loss compensation mechanism. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, Apr 2020.

Abstract: Exposure to death-related threats, thoughts and cues (actual or anticipated death of conspecifics, including oneself) remain powerful stressors across primate species, including humans. Accordingly, a pervasive issue in psychology pertains to the kind of social–cognitive responses exposure to deadly threats generates. To this day, psychological models of reactions to death-related threats remain underspecified, especially with regards to modern evolutionary theory. Research on both humans and nonhuman primates’ reactions to death-related threats highlights a general tendency of human and nonhuman primates to “cling to the group” and to display increased social motivation in the face of death and deadly events (predator attacks, disasters, terror attacks. . .). Given the adaptive value of social networks, which provide individuals with resources, mating pool and support, we propose the existence of an evolved mechanism to explain these affiliative responses. In particular, we propose a “conspecific loss compensation mechanism” (CLCM) that actively keeps track of and compensates for threats to the integrity of one’s social network. In the face of death-related cues signaling a danger for one’s social network, or actual conspecific loss, CLCM triggers proportional affiliative responses by a process labeled compensatory socialization. After reviewing existing evidence for the CLCM, we discuss its plausibility, parsimonious character, and explanatory power of the diversity of responses observed among threatened and grieving individuals. We also formulate clear and novel predictions to be tested in future research.

Participants considered harm to a pedestrian more permissible with an autonomous car as compared to self as the decision agent in a regular car, driven by the attribution of responsibility to the autonomous one

Blame It on the Self-Driving Car: How Autonomous Vehicles Can Alter Consumer Morality. Tripat Gill. Journal of Consumer Research, ucaa018, April 11 2020.

Abstract: Autonomous vehicles (AVs) are expected to soon replace human drivers and promise substantial benefits to society. Yet, consumers remain skeptical about handing over control to an AV. Partly due to the uncertainty about the appropriate moral norms for such vehicles (e.g., should AVs protect the passenger or the pedestrian if harm is unavoidable?). Building on recent work on AV morality, the current research examined how people resolve the dilemma between protecting self versus a pedestrian, and what they expect an AV to do in a similar situation. Five studies revealed that participants considered harm to a pedestrian more permissible with an AV as compared to self as the decision agent in a regular car. This shift in moral judgments was driven by the attribution of responsibility to the AV and was observed for both severe and moderate harm, and when harm was real or imagined. However, the effect was attenuated when five pedestrians or a child could be harmed. These findings suggest that AVs can change prevailing moral norms and promote an increased self-interest among consumers. This has relevance for the design and policy issues related to AVs. It also highlights the moral implications of autonomous agents replacing human decision-makers.

Keywords: morality, autonomous vehicles, control, responsibility, harm