Skip to content

Weekly Roundup: November 3, 2023


At the Blog

On Monday, Ryan Martínez Mitchell argued that while China’s developing sanctions regime may offer a new window to resist forms of economic coercion that legitimate and enforce the neocolonial global order, there are also new dangers inherent in the transformation of sanctions and related coercive practices into tools of open hegemonic contestation. As he writes, “China’s accretion of economic coercive power is probably best viewed not through the lens of a ‘relative rise of the periphery’ – e.g., the G77 asserting autonomy vis-à-vis the G7 – but rather as the (re)fragmentation of global political economy into multiple centers, with their own shifting peripheries. The relative decline of dollar power over time may blunt the edge of some of today’s sanctions, but it is also possible that cruder forms of pressure, such as secondary sanctions or even Gaza-style blockades, could see a resurgence, especially within the ‘great spaces’ claimed by regional hegemons seeking to exclude rival influences.”

On Tuesday, we continued the fall of legal theory, as Yochai Benkler offered a thumbnail sketch of the basic dynamics of capitalism, focusing on the role law plays in structuring and legitimating social relations in capitalism. As he writes, “Power seeking—pursuing the capacity to impose transactions and prices one wants on counterparties to produce a steady flow of rents—is the animating spirit of capitalism. It manifests as organized struggle over institutions, ideology, and technology. Among institutions, law has played a large role as a terrain of struggle over the institutionalization of market dependence for subsistence, production, and protection, and over the structure of patterns and terms of coordinated collective action. By structuring access to natural resources for purposes of subsistence and market-oriented production, access to knowledge of how to convert nature into the satisfaction of human needs and wants, and access to means of payment and credit, as well as the forms of coordination and cooperation in labor and investment processes, law structured social relations of production, creating a distinct combination of freedom and coercion, opportunity and imperative, that has been the driving dynamic of capitalism.” The post serves to introduce a longer article and recent book chapter, which are themselves part of a longer book project on the subject.

And on Thursday, Elettra Bietti responded to Paul Gowder’s recent blog post, in which he argued that we should democratize, rather than dismantle or restructure, Big Tech platforms. This familiar framing, Bietti argues, obscures more than it reveals, and is symptomatic of three widespread blind spots in digital platform governance policy and scholarship: (a) an overemphasis on solutionism and a corresponding failure to adequately describe the problems at hand, (b) an obsession with categorical tradeoffs and disciplinary siloes, and (c) an impoverished account of the political economy of technology, of the co-evolution of politics and production, and of the core role of material infrastructure in digital settings. After setting out these blind spots, she introduces an alternative approach to the governance of technology platform markets: regulatory experimentalism.

In LPE Land

Next Friday, November 10, at 12:10 ET, join us (either virtually or in-person) for a can’t-miss lunch talk with Professor Saule Omarova (Cornell Law School). She will be discussing why public interest students should study banking and financial regulation, and exploring key areas in banking and financial regulation where the role of the public and the concept of public interest are ripe for redefinition, reinvigoration, and reinsertion into the decision-making process.

Also next Friday, November 10, at 4p ET, join us (virtually) for a panel discussion on “Tech and Taxis: Deregulation via Disruption,” featuring Veena Dubal (UC Irvine), Marshall Steinbaum, (University of Utah), and Luke Herrine (University of Alabama). They will be discussing how Uber, Lyft, and other “rideshare” companies took over the taxi industry, as well as what this meant for workers, customers, and urban infrastructure.

A reminder for all US students interested in LPE but without a campus group: we’ve created an ‘At-Large’ group just for you! Connect with fellow students across the country & explore LPE together! The first meeting of the year will be on Friday, Nov 10th at 11am. (When the zoom meeting finishes, we will all virtually walk over to Professor Omarova’s talk…)

On Monday, November 6, at 12:30 ET, join the Harvard Empirical Legal Studies series (either virtually or in person) for a talk by Hendrik Theine on the topic modeling approaches to critical discourse studies.

On Monday, November 6, at 12:10 ET, join Tamara Nopper and Eve Zelickson at Columbia Law School (only in person), who will be discussing their primer on “wellness capitalism” with Raúl Carrillo.

In a recent episode of Behind the News, Christopher Morten and Amy Kapczynski joined Doug Henwood to discuss intellectual property and industrial policy.

In n+1, Amna Akbar has a new piece about the modes of organizing against and through courts that today’s social movement organizations are undertaking, which draws on a growing body of work by law scholars critical of the extraction and violence within the lower courts.

In Jacobin, Zoë Yunker, James Rowe, and Jessica Dempsey argue that relying on financial capital to fund the energy transition — especially without better guardrails from government — means that social value and working conditions will get eroded in the renewables sector, making it harder to sell the transition to workers and communities.

CFP: The University of Michigan Law School is pleased to invite junior scholars to attend the 10th Annual Junior Scholars Conference, which will take place in-person on April 12-13, 2024, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The theme for this year is “Reimagining the Public-Private Divide,” and abstracts are due by January 5th.