Interesting. Issue 004. Sept 2019. Revolution and Rotting Money

Pavel Golovkin/AP

Pavel Golovkin/AP

This issue is a hats off to two freedom fighters and one odd bird.

Gesell believed money should lose value the longer it sits in the bank. His idea makes my brain explode a bit trying to consider the implications. Try it for a second.

Denise Ho is redefining pop stardom. Not only because she’s gay, but because she’s a voice for a revolution. Immensely popular, and now disappeared from Chinese airwaves.

Lyubov Sobol is around my age, and also a mother, and her bravery gives me goosebumps. I’ve linked to two articles about her that take slightly different angles. Sobol is worth seeing from more than one.



Three that made me pause this week.

Silvio Gesell

Silvio Gesell hated money. A German entrepreneur who moved to Argentina for business in the late 19th century, he witnessed a massive financial crash in 1890 that convinced him that money was behind the world's economic problems: poverty, inequality, unemployment, stagnation.

The problem, Gesell believed, was that money served two roles that often came into conflict: It was a way for people to store wealth, and it was the thing everybody needed to conduct business. The fact that money could store wealth meant its holders had a reason to cling to it, especially in crises like the one he saw in Argentina, when opportunities to safely put that money elsewhere looked grim. It was a typical story. When people got scared, they hoarded cash and brought business to a standstill. It led, Gesell said, to a situation of "poverty amid plenty."

Gesell wanted to create a new kind of money — a money that would "rot like potatoes" and "rust like iron" so no one would want to hoard it, a money that was "an instrument of exchange and nothing else." And the crazy part is that he did create it. Through a series of pamphlets, articles and books, Gesell inspired a worldwide movement that introduced a completely new form of money. It's one of the most fascinating, and largely forgotten, stories in economic history.

- Excerpted from The 'Strange, Unduly Neglected Prophet', Planet Money, NPR

Read the rest

Denise Ho

In person, Ho can be pensive, introverted, even awkward, but something inside her is released once she walks onstage. At the Toronto concert, when the stage lights came up, the outline of her silhouette materialized, to feral applause and hoots. Her slender frame, clad in a khaki trenchcoat and shiny black ankle boots, seemed to fill the stage, as she pranced around her microphone stand, the drums, and the backup vocalists, like a mischievous child hamming it up and pretending not to know that she’s being watched.

Cantopop is often dismissed as mass-produced pabulum. Many of the genre’s songs, slickly manufactured for a swooning teen audience, lean heavily on idealized, treacly romance—a litany of bad breakups and hopeless crushes. The performers are often Bambi-eyed maidens and clean-cut swains who have not necessarily been recruited for their vocal gifts. But the music can be almost lethally catchy, and perfecting the genre’s blend of Western-style melodic lines, Eastern-style pentatonic ones, and electronic disco beats requires skill. …

When Ho and I talked about her career, I asked how Beijing’s displeasure had affected her professional life. “People thought that I couldn’t make it after what happened,” she said. “They came up to my parents and asked if I could survive.” It hadn’t been easy, she admitted, but she’d learned to approach managing her own career as a creative challenge. …

- Excerpted from Denise Ho Confronts Hong Kong’s New Political Reality, The New Yorker

Read the rest

Lyubov Sobol

Lyubov Sobol looks frail after ending a monthlong hunger strike. The unexpected protagonist of equally unexpected anti-government demonstrations in the Russian capital this summer, she speaks softly and chooses her words deliberately.

"My daughter is 5 years old," she says in an interview with NPR. "I want her to live in a country where human rights and freedoms are respected, where the courts are independent, and where there is a free press. I want her to live in this country. I don't want to move away."

This spring, the 31-year-old lawyer, a longtime ally of opposition politician Alexei Navalny, decided to run for Moscow's city council. When the city's election commission barred her and other opposition candidates from the Sept. 8 ballot, Sobol declared a hunger strike and called on supporters to take to the street. …

"People admire her for her strength of character and the fact that she's a woman in a very male-centered culture," says Sergey Radchenko, a professor at Cardiff University in Wales who is writing a book on Russia's opposition. "She's seen as someone suffering and being persecuted for the cause."

Moscow's rallies for free and fair elections are the largest anti-government demonstrations in years, bringing out more than 50,000 participants at the last rally on Aug. 10. After Vladimir Putin returned to the presidency for an unprecedented third term in 2012, he cracked down on dissent and saw a surge in popularity after he seized Crimea from Ukraine two years later. Putin has now been in power for 20 years. …

- Excerpted from 'The Government Is Very Afraid': Meet Moscow's New Opposition Leader, Lyubov Sobol, NPR

Another great article on Sobol: ‘I am always asked if I am afraid’: Activist Lawyer Takes on Putin’s Russia, NYT



If you aren’t following Andrey Shcherbak on Instagram, you might consider it. Never hurts to have giant kittens in your feed. @odnoboko

Lindsey Witmer CollinsComment