Why Amartya Sen remains the century’s great critic of capitalism


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Every major work on material inequality in the 21st century owes a debt to Sen. But his own writings treat material inequality as though the moral frameworks and social relationships that mediate economic exchanges matter. Famine is the nadir of material deprivation. But it seldom occurs – Sen argues – for lack of food. To understand why a people goes hungry, look not for catastrophic crop failure; look rather for malfunctions of the moral economy that moderates competing demands upon a scarce commodity. Material inequality of the most egregious kind is the problem here. But piecemeal modifications to the machinery of production and distribution will not solve it. The relationships between different members of the economy must be put right. Only then will there be enough to go around.

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Tim Rogan — Aeon

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My mom


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Good read with a lot of sentimental value.

It’s a blessing that life is riddled with diversions. I work a lot. I’ve never had the weeks between Christmas and New Year’s off, but these days I don’t love money how I used to. My mom though, I’m crazy about. I think about her all the time and can’t stand it. When she rings during a meal I get indigestion if I don’t call her back immediately. There’s a roiling shame spiral wherein I become resentful that she called at all and punish us both by prolonging the wait. I have no idea when my perception of my mother became the calculated crush of my life but it has. I don’t go home for birthdays or holidays, and on the occasions I do visit, I express my affection in strange ways. I wait for her to fall asleep and peer over her body and imagine what it’d be like if she died. I just stand there, hot silent tears coursing down my face. We’re not a demonstrative family, and such maudlin, psycho behavior is fair grounds for riotous derision. I love my mom and it’s a secret. I love her so much it kills me, and you bet I’d sooner die than tell her. I kinda want her to know though. Maybe someone could tell her for me. Someone who isn’t my dad. Because that would be weird.

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Mary H K Choi — Aeon

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False nostalgia


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Realism about the past does not entail whitewashing the present. None of this is to deny the unique threat posed by nuclear bombs, the monstrosity of ongoing genocides, the dying species on our increasingly fragile planet, the calamitous backwards steps we are taking and will surely take in our collective lurch towards truth and justice. Rather, realism recognises that the hard work of progress demands we confront reality in all its complexity, instead of seeking solace in nostalgic fantasy. The good old days are a powerful comfort, especially when the changes wrought by technology and globalisation threaten your core identity. Like one’s childhood home, golden age myths can be difficult to leave behind. Perhaps it will be easier to let go knowing that the sooner we do, the sooner a real golden age may come to pass.

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Aeon — Alan Jay Levinovitz

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Don’t think too positive


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A good weekend read. With all the self-help books and articles floating around, this needull offers a different perspective. The writer says that when we achieve our goals in our mind, we put less effort in actually achieving that goal. The writers also offer their own framework which they believe works better than all out positive thinking.

Now comes the more challenging part. What obstacle in you prevents you from fulfilling this objective? Look inward and be honest with yourself – leave behind your excuses. Are you willing to put in the grueling hours necessary for such a promotion at work? Do you have the courage to ask an attractive and accomplished person to be your partner? This search for the critical obstacle can be an emotionally fraught part of the process, because we infrequently choose to confront unpleasant experiences so directly and honestly. Still, find your inner obstacle and then let the images about its occurrence flow freely through your mind.

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Gabriele Oettingen — Aeon

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