NYT Magazine has published an interesting essay questioning the pronounced decline of the creative class – writers, musicians, authors, etc over the past two decades with the rise of the internet and other platforms that have flattened the way people consume art and media. Differing from what we hear that this labour group is fighting for its livelihood, Johnson finds evidence to suggest otherwise. Instead these occupations are actually experiencing a growth spurt, some more than others. This comes down to a few reasons – more avenues to produce your content to which creates more opportunities as people continue to consume the same level of content as they did in 1999. But returns, he points out, are rising disproportionately to those that produce excellent work and less so for the others but they do get a piece of the pie.
An interesting essay throughout, here is one nugget worth highlighting:
Of the big four creative industries (music, television, movies and books), music turns out to be the business that has seen the most conspicuous turmoil: None of the other three has seen anywhere near the cratering of recorded-music revenues. The O.E.S. numbers show that writers and actors each saw their income increase by about 50 percent, well above the national average.
Frank Gavin has a useful article in War on the Rocks that cuts through the fog around the Iran-US Nuclear Agreement. Leaving aside any concerns that Israel or other regional states might have, the deal is remarkable in that Iran voluntarily or with some voluntary involvement has agreed to limit its nuclear ambitions despite being in a deplorable security environment surrounded by foes alike. Gavin identifies this clearly:
‘Getting any sovereign state to limit its ability to develop a weapon that would provide it with the ultimate security is beyond difficult. We should not forget how impressive any deal limiting Iran’s nuclear capabilities is. Iran’s neighborhood is one of the toughest in the world, marked by chaos and discord and populated by bitter enemies, ideological and geopolitical rivals, and nuclear-armed states. It faces adversaries with superior conventional capabilities and has limited abilities to project power, making it the ideal candidate to acquire nuclear weapons. It is no friend to the United States, nor will it be anytime soon. Iran possesses both ample capabilities and powerful incentives to go nuclear. This makes the nuclear agreement, despite its imperfections, all the more remarkable.’
Martha Nussbaum has written a superb review of the re-release of Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste with an added introduction by Arundhati Roy in the New Rambler. A note-worthy passage that reveals Ambedkar’s prescience:
In his later legal/political writings, Ambedkar adds a fifth, political objection to caste: it is anti-national, leading to an identity politics that breaks up people along traditional lines and asks them to have their primary affective ties to their caste group. It thus impedes the creation of a united nation and a politics based upon ideas rather than irrational traditions. He was so right about this, and the politics of India today shows how well-founded his objection was: dozens of caste-based parties, most of them regional, since castes are regional, have balkanized the party politics of the nation, preventing to a considerable extent any rational sorting of parties along lines of policy.
The entire review is well worth reading.