Vampires & Capitalism.

Upon hearing the term, ‘The Gothic’, our minds turn to tales of the dark, the twisted and the macabre – from Poe’s stories of death, somnambulism and premature burial to Stoker’s Dracula and Shelley’s Frankenstein, the Gothic provides an exhilarating experience of suspense, horror and disgust. Students of architecture associate the term with grandiose castellated towers, extravagant flying buttresses and vast, imposing stone structures that dwarf the onlooker. So, what is it that makes something characteristically Gothic? Literary critic David Punter defines it as “an important representation of deep-rooted social and psychological fears”, prompting our investigation into the reasons for Gothic literature’s consistent terror-invoking success since the Victorian era.

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Quantitative Easing, Inequality and Brexit.

The Bank of England’s governor, Mark Carney, recently appeared in Liverpool to deliver a speech about the growing inequality in the United Kingdom – a problem brought into prominence by recent political events. In this speech, he blamed the Brexit vote in June on people’s isolation and frustration with international trade and global technological advance, saying that they felt “left behind” and alienated by economic progress and the recovery from the 2008 financial crisis.

“Despite such immense progress many citizens in advanced economies are facing heightened uncertainty, lamenting a loss of control and losing trust in the system. To them, measures of aggregate progress bear little relation to their own experience. Rather than a new golden era, globalisation is associated with low wages, insecure employment, stateless corporations and striking inequalities”

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Populism. “A Growing Sense of Hostility”.

The economist Joseph Schumpeter writes in his critique of capitalism that the profit motive prompts self-interest and egotistical behaviour. The economics student assumes this to be what constitutes rationality – the assumption upon which nearly the entire discipline is based. It therefore follows that each individual in the population strives towards the greatest monetary payoff they can find, and from this derives utility, or satisfaction. In this way, individuals, organisations and firms are all destined to act in their own interests – perhaps explaining the intrinsic capitalist desire for acquisition.

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A (probably wrong) Critique on Marxism.

As the antithesis to free-market economic and political theorists, there has always existed the socialist. Sometimes depicted crudely as the ‘coffee shop conspirator’, the socialist often comes under fire for expressing views that contradict the prevailing capitalist market structure. Supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, a well-known advocate of traditional left-wing politics, are lambasted for believing in what many perceive to be a dying cause. This article will ask the question: is socialism (a classless society in which means of production are state-owned) attainable in our current climate?

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REVOLUTION.

Art and literature, in the Marxist’s eye, are reflections of the social institutions from which they originate. They offer a mediated understanding of the world in which they were written, and using them we can learn about how social forces interact to construct artistic and literary movements. At the same time, these forces shape the structure of the market and state – that is, the economic and political world surrounding each piece of literature.

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Artificial Intelligence vs. Economics.

The so-called “machinery question” continues to dominate the headlines, founded on fears that artificial intelligence – a technological development which enables human tasks to be automated – is advancing too rapidly. Newspaper articles, online blogs and academic studies foretell a future where “droids are sitting at our desks” while human labour falls into obsolescence. In this article I seek to respond to these concerns, but also to some of the questions that are yet to be answered – if artificial intelligence advances to a level of near-human rationality, what are the implications for the global political economy? And if it does, what happens when we cannot reliably distinguish between man and machine?

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Einstein on Creative Immagination.

There can be no doubt that Einstein’s breakthrough Theory of Relativity, one of the most significant scientific advances of our time, was conceived through his own creative processes. Indeed, Einstein himself held creativity and imagination in the highest regard, seeing them as essential attributes in the advancement of ideas. As one of the world’s most eminent physicists, his views on the vital importance of creativity have been quoted liberally by scientists, philosophers and academics alike, stressing the “importance of seeing facts in a new light” and that “imagination is more important than knowledge”.

Other scientists across the centuries have been similarly inspired by creative imaginations of their own. Professor Stephen Hawking, famed for his work on gravity and black holes, is known for urging us to “remember to look up at the stars, and not down at our feet”. But these quotations, while they pertain to the natural sciences, can just as easily be applied to the social science of economics – which is the science that I have chosen to discuss in this article. Without constantly “raising new questions, new possibilities, and regarding old problems from a new angle”, the study of economics, and indeed the world’s economies, would not be where they are today.

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Schumpeter’s Economic Troubles.

We learn about supply, demand and the price mechanism. We learn about the “invisible hand”, and how a market should work within the parameters of “perfect competition” – an unattainable ideal upon which most mainstream economic theories are based. But, unbeknownst to many in the classroom, there are other ways of thinking aside from the somewhat conventional “Neoclassical” school of thought. This article aims to be a very brief insight into the writings of Joseph Schumpeter, who approached economics from an entirely new perspective. Although his propositions have their flaws, it is his originality that makes him one of the greatest but most underappreciated economists of the 20th century.

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Oil, tax and theft: the dubious economics behind ISIS

Islamic State as an economy

Already labelled “the best funded terrorist organisation of all time”, ISIS has prospered so much financially that it can almost be thought of as an economy in its own right. Since its creation in 1999, the enrolment of 20,000 jihadists from Asia, Africa and Europe has been paramount in keeping the organisation alive, along with stockpiles of oil in Iraq, and various other dubious activities which have bolstered its financial success. Yet will ISIS be able to maintain this level of income in years to come?

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