The first industrial revolution began in the late 1700s when British inventor James Watt fed blocks of coal into a steam-engine boiler, catapulting Great Britain into a global power. On May 1 of this year, lawmakers in the country where it all began declared a “climate emergency,” essentially saying the experiment has run its course.
Anthropologist and author Jason Hickel swiftly disabused readers of a narrative offered by Microsoft founder Bill Gates this week, rejecting the billionaire’s statement on Twitter that “people underestimate just how much life has improved over the last two centuries.”
The idea that the free-market capitalism has grown while solving the crisis of extreme poverty around the world may be tempting for some to embrace, Hickel wrote in the Guardian—but it is “completely wrong.”
There can be few bleaker testaments to the beleaguered condition of US retail than the Sears department store in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Once a flagship of the world’s largest retailer, the landmarked art deco building was opened in 1932 by Eleanor Roosevelt, who made the first purchase ever in this location, “a pair of baby booties”, according to the Brooklyn Eagle. There’s little of that historic legacy on display today.
There is just one entrance open at the store now. The walls are a dirty beige and much of the merchandise sub-discount. Yet many of the shoppers said they were pleased to come and browse. Unlike hundreds of shuttered stores across the country, it is at least still in business.