The Monday Morning Teaser

This week’s Sift has three articles, so there won’t be as many short notes as usual. I had planned two:

  • a discussion of Carne Ross’ new book The Leaderless Revolution, which pairs nicely with what I talked about last week, Chris Hayes’ Twilight of the Elites. Both books are looking at the broad failure of our institutions and finding its roots in the dark side of something we believe in deeply. Hayes targets meritocracy, and Ross attacks the whole notion of representative government. Ross uses his experiences as a British diplomat to argue that the world has become too complicated to turn our responsibilities as citizens over to leaders. He argues instead for a more anarchic, more directly participatory way of addressing our problems. (Yes, Ross is an Occupy Wall Street guy.)
  • a lighter piece that I think makes an important point: What Shaving Taught Me About Capitalism. Discussions about the free market always end up focused on computers, where the market has stimulated better performance for less money. For some reason they never focus on shaving, where a series of phony “revolutions” in technology have justified higher prices for no improvement in performance. In the course of my research, I end up reclaiming the inexpensive tool of my ancestors, the double-edged safety razor. (And since I know someone is going to notice: The bearded picture above is how I look in the winter. In the summer I’m clean-shaven.)

But this week’s news-network buzz about Mitt Romney’s finances and business career was such a perfect illustration of what I was talking about last April (in The Narratives of November) that I just had to comment. So there’s a third article: Believe in America, Mitt.

The shaving article should go up in an hour or so, and I expect the complete Sift to be up roughly noonish on the East Coast.

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