It’s an accepted truism that late summer/back-to-school time makes for a slow news cycle. Opportunists, like someone I’ll refer to as “Blenn Veck”, take advantage of this to get their name into the headlines as much as possible. Others look to the slowdown in national events as a period offering more in-depth analysis, or a chance to talk about issues that would otherwise be ignored.
This is my way of saying that, although there’s not a lot of major headlines out there, I’ve got a lot to share over this long weekend (which anyone who has read some of my previous posts might guess will culminate in a Labor Day-discussion of, well, labor). But first, here’s a roundup of some diverse and interesting tidbits:
– The Arab states are not exactly known for good working conditions, and this piece offers a comprehensive overview of why Dubai, for all the distinction accorded it by the capitalist world, is no different. I’ve often heard it as a kind of mantra that economic progress must precede social gains, that democracy can’t function unless basic capitalist tenets are observed. But while China’s economy is similar to India’s, in governance and human rights it is still closer to Cuba; and while Dubai was, for a decade, an Arab outlier, a place of growth and immigration blessed by the West as a model for its neighbors, its social stratification was always ugly, and its government — less a mechanism of representation than an organ for business and investment — looks as foolish now as the banks which so admired it. Replace the title “Sheikh” with “CEO” and Dubai seems the apogee of so much right-wing economic thought: everything in service of business, no regulation or labor protection or income tax, no resources diverted to social programs, the primacy of executive power, a strong nationalist sensibility but a diplomacy where commerce is king. Almost nobody on the far right is willing to express open approval of a Gulf state these days — cuts into their Islamophobia — but Dubai is the end point of many policies proffered by the contemporary American right, whether they’re willing to acknowledge the similarity or not.
– A teaser for Monday’s post: why does labor even still matter anymore? Because.