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Reversing Electricity Privatization Crucial For Green Transition

the 1990s, many countries privatized their public electric utilities as part of the push for deregulation. But in recent years, hundreds of cities and towns in Germany have voted to "re-municipalize" their electricity grids - taking them back into public ownership.

The example of the city of Hamburg is instructive. In 2013, citizens there voted to reverse the privatization of their utility in order to speed the transition to clean energy. Private utilities were moving too slowly and prioritizing profits over climate concerns. Re-municipalization has allowed for more democratic control over the energy transition.

Section: 1, Chapter: 3

Book: This Changes Everything

Author: Naomi Klein

"My Enemy's Enemy": South Korea & The Rise of Samsung

South Korea's rise as a semiconductor powerhouse, exemplified by Samsung, demonstrates the complex interplay between global competition and strategic partnerships. Samsung's founder, Lee Byung-Chul, recognized the opportunity presented by the U.S.-Japan DRAM wars of the 1980s and made a bold bet on semiconductors. With government support and access to cheap capital, Samsung entered the market and licensed technology from struggling American firms like Micron.

Ironically, Silicon Valley supported the rise of Korean DRAM producers as a way to counter Japan's dominance. This strategy, based on the principle of "my enemy's enemy is my friend," aimed to create a more balanced market and reduce Japan's threat to the U.S. chip industry. South Korea's success was also aided by the U.S.-Japan trade agreement, which limited Japanese DRAM exports and allowed Korean firms to sell more chips at higher prices.

Section: 4, Chapter: 23

Book: Chip War

Author: Chris Miller

The Global Nature of EUV

“The scientific networks that produced EUV spanned the world, bringing together scientists from countries as diverse as America, Japan, Slovenia, and Greece. However, the manufacturing of EUV wasn’t globalized, it was monopolized. A single supply chain managed by a single company would control the future of lithography.”

Section: 6, Chapter: 39

Book: Chip War

Author: Chris Miller

Wealth And Values Gaps Drive Internal Conflicts Within Countries

All societies have internal struggles between different socioeconomic classes over wealth and power. These conflicts intensify when there are large gaps in wealth and fundamental values between the classes. Wealth gaps naturally emerge in capitalist systems, as some benefit more from productivity gains than others.

Values gaps emerge as people coalesce into "tribes" based on factors like religion, ethnicity, urban/rural status, and politics. When a country experiences economic hardships on top of these gaps, it often leads to a breaking point of revolution and/or civil war to restructure the internal order. Managing these internal gaps is essential for countries to maintain stability and avoid self-destructive conflicts.

Section: 1, Chapter: 5

Book: Principles For Dealing With the Changing World Order

Author: Ray Dalio

Eastern European Scholars Recognized the Danger of Trump

In the lead-up to the 2016 election, most American commentators assured the public that Trump would be stopped by one institution or another. But scholars of Eastern Europe sounded the alarm early based on patterns they recognized from their own countries' experiences with tyrants.

As Snyder notes, "Those who were born into postwar Europe or the Soviet bloc had an advantage. They could not entertain the idea that history was over. They had seen the boundary between civilization and barbarism crossed more than once...When voting booths were brought out for an exercise in pseudo-democracy, they had to know how to read the body language of power and the real meaning of slogans." Those who lived through democratic collapse in Eastern Europe have hard-won wisdom that Americans ignore at our peril.

Section: 1, Chapter: 16

Book: On Tyranny

Author: Timothy Snyder

The Success of Poland's Solidarity Movement Shows the Power of "Corporeal Politics"

Lesson 13: Practice corporeal politics: Engage in real-world political action, not just online discourse.

The Solidarity movement in Poland in the 1980s demonstrates how engaging in real-world politics and forming unexpected coalitions can effectively resist tyranny. Solidarity brought together workers, professionals, the Catholic Church, and secular groups, bridging ideological divides to stand up for freedom.

This kind of "corporeal politics" - where people physically show up and engage with others face-to-face - is essential. As Snyder writes, "Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Get outside. Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. Make new friends and march with them."

Section: 1, Chapter: 13

Book: On Tyranny

Author: Timothy Snyder

Be Alert to Dangerous Expansions of Executive Power

Lesson 17: Listen for dangerous words: Be alert to rhetoric that demonizes certain groups or justifies violence and oppression.

Would-be tyrants often use the rhetoric of terrorism and extremism to justify dangerous power grabs. As Snyder writes, "The trick is to define terrorism and extremism as what those in power say they are, while leaving the details ambiguous and mutable." He points to Hitler's use of the Reichstag Fire to claim emergency powers and suspend civil liberties.

Similarly, Putin has exploited terrorism (sometimes likely abetted by his own regime) to consolidate his authoritarian rule in Russia. If a leader tries to seize broad new powers to fight vaguely defined threats, it's a serious red flag. Carefully evaluate any attempts to trade freedom for security.

Section: 1, Chapter: 17

Book: On Tyranny

Author: Timothy Snyder

Militant Resistance By Fossil Fuel Corporations Requires Hardball Government Response

The chapter argues that climate action cannot be achieved through a naive partnership with fossil fuel corporations - it requires directly confronting these corporations' entrenched interests. As long as fossil fuel extraction remains profitable, these companies will fight tooth and nail to keep expanding production.

Policymakers must be willing to take bold and assertive steps to curtail fossil fuel extraction and shift investment to clean energy, in the face of fierce corporate opposition. This could include revoking drilling permits, banning new fossil fuel infrastructure, and criminal prosecution of corporations for climate damages. Playing nice will not work - hardball tactics are needed to break the fossil fuel industry's stranglehold over politics and the economy.

Section: 1, Chapter: 4

Book: This Changes Everything

Author: Naomi Klein

Public Sector Key To Rapid Transition To Renewable Energy

This chapter argues that the public sector must play the leading role in the transition to renewable energy. While the private sector can play an important role, only public institutions have the incentive and capacity to drive a rapid, coordinated shift on the scale required.

Examples from Germany and the U.S. show that the most rapid transitions to renewables happen when the public owns key electrical utilities. Private companies will only pursue clean energy if it is immediately profitable. But the public sector can make the long-term investments needed to completely replace fossil fuels. Decentralized public and community ownership of power generation has been key to Germany's renewable energy revolution.

Section: 1, Chapter: 3

Book: This Changes Everything

Author: Naomi Klein

"The Japan that Can Say No"

As Japan's economic and technological prowess grew, there was a noticeable shift in power dynamics between the U.S. and Japan. Akio Morita, the CEO of Sony, who had once admired American ingenuity, now criticized the U.S. for its declining manufacturing capabilities and short-term business practices.

In 1989, Morita co-authored a book titled The Japan That Can Say No with Shintaro Ishihara, a controversial nationalist politician. The book, which highlighted Japan's economic superiority and advocated for a more assertive role on the world stage, sparked anger and concern in the United States.

Ishihara's essays in the book were particularly provocative, calling for Japan to challenge American dominance and leverage its control over semiconductor technology to gain geopolitical leverage. He argued that Japan's dominance in memory chips was crucial to American military strength and that Japan should be willing to say no to U.S. demands.

The book's publication and the sentiments expressed by Morita and Ishihara highlighted a growing sense of nationalism in Japan and a willingness to challenge America's leadership position. This raised concerns in Washington about the future of the U.S.-Japan relationship and the potential for Japan to pursue a more independent foreign policy.

Section: 3, Chapter: 20

Book: Chip War

Author: Chris Miller

Taiwan's Semiconductor Influence

“Chips from Taiwan provide 37 percent of the world’s new computing power each year. Two Korean companies produce 44 percent of the world’s memory chips. The Dutch company ASML builds 100 percent of the world’s extreme ultraviolet lithography machines, without which cutting-edge chips are simply impossible to make. OPEC’s 40 percent share of world oil production looks unimpressive by comparison.”

Section: 5, Chapter: 29

Book: Chip War

Author: Chris Miller

Devaluation Often Happens Quickly During Debt Crises And Political Upheavals

While currency devaluation can seem like a gradual process, history shows it often happens abruptly during times of crisis. When government debts become unsustainable, devaluation is the only politically feasible solution. This happened in Weimar Germany in the 1920s, the U.S. and Europe in the 1930s, and many emerging economies in the late 20th century. Such rapid devaluations can destroy wealth stored in the currency, creating social and political unrest. Investors must be alert to signs of unsustainable debt and political disorder that could trigger a currency crisis.

Section: 1, Chapter: 4

Book: Principles For Dealing With the Changing World Order

Author: Ray Dalio

Defend Institutions - They Require Constant Support

Lesson 2: Defend institutions: Actively work to protect and support the institutions that sustain a free and open society.

One must actively work to protect the institutions that are integral to a free and open society. This ranges from courts to media outlets to unions. The mistake is assuming institutions will defend themselves - in fact they require ongoing effort and vigilance from citizens to function properly. Tyrants seek to weaken institutions so they can consolidate power. The defense of institutions requires participation - whether that means subscribing to a newspaper to support the free press, joining a union, or getting involved with government at the local level. Don't take democratic institutions for granted.

Section: 1, Chapter: 2

Book:

Author:

Key Elements Of The Chinese Political And Economic System

Some of the distinctive features of China's governance model and economic strategy:

  • China's political system utilizes a merit-based civil service. Provincial and local officials are held accountable for meeting economic and social targets.
  • Confucian values like social harmony, deference to authority, and the primacy of the collective over the individual continue to shape Chinese politics and society. This contrasts with the individualism prized in the West.
  • In the economic realm, China has adopted a hybrid model blending market-based incentives and competition with strong state direction over key industries and the financial system. Capitalism subordinated to Communist Party control.
  • China's leadership takes a long-term view of its development, with grand plans like the Belt and Road Initiative aiming to extend its economic reach across Eurasia. It has also focused heavily on boosting its technological capabilities to avoid dependence on the West.

Section: 2, Chapter: 12

Book: Principles For Dealing With the Changing World Order

Author: Ray Dalio

China's Chip Ambitions Threaten US Technological Leadership

China's aggressive push for self-sufficiency in semiconductors has sparked concern among US chip industry leaders. The country's massive subsidies and state-backed efforts to acquire technology threaten to erode America's competitive edge. This concern is heightened by the fact that many US chip companies heavily rely on the Chinese market, creating a complex dynamic where their biggest customer is also their biggest competitor.

Section: 7, Chapter: 49

Book: Chip War

Author: Chris Miller

Learn from the Hard-Won Wisdom of Other Countries

Lesson 16: Learn from peers in other countries: Connect with and learn from people facing similar challenges around the world.

Americans can be dangerously parochial, assuming that tyranny can't happen here. But we have much to learn from the experiences of other nations that have faced democratic crises. Snyder notes that during the 2016 election, "Ukrainian journalists who came to the American Midwest were surprised by the lack of knowledge about or interest in Ukraine" and observed many of the same propaganda tactics Russia had used against them being deployed here.

Building international connections provides vital perspective. Snyder advises maintaining friendships abroad, traveling (make sure to have a passport), and supporting global organizations. The fight to preserve freedom is a global struggle, and we can't prevail alone.

Section: 1, Chapter: 16

Book: On Tyranny

Author: Timothy Snyder

Beware the One-Party State and Defend Democratic Elections

Lesson 3: Beware the One-Party State and Defend Democratic Elections

Many 20th century tyrannical regimes began with a single party consolidating power, making democracy impossible for opponents. They exploit a specific moment to make political life untenable for their opposition. The lesson is to defend the integrity of the democratic system:

  • Support a multi-party system
  • Fight for fair election rules and voting rights
  • Consider running for office yourself
  • Participate in local and state elections while you can Defending democracy is an ongoing responsibility that requires action.

Section: 1, Chapter: 3

Book: On Tyranny

Author: Timothy Snyder

Populist And Autocratic Leaders Emerge During Times of Internal Conflict

In the late stages of the internal cycle of conflict, countries often turn to populist and autocratic leaders who promise to restore order and take power away from entrenched elites.

This happened in the 1930s with the rise of fascist leaders like Hitler and Mussolini during the Great Depression. It also happened after the French Revolution with the rise of Napoleon, and in countless coups and revolutions in Latin America and Asia. Such leaders often come from outside traditional power structures and tap into resentment against the "establishment." While they can temporarily stabilize a country, they often end up leading it into damaging conflicts abroad. Being alert to the rise of populist autocrats is crucial to navigating the internal cycle.

Section: 1, Chapter: 5

Book: Principles For Dealing With the Changing World Order

Author: Ray Dalio

"Do Not Obey in Advance"

"Anticipatory obedience is a political tragedy. Perhaps rulers did not initially know that citizens were willing to compromise this value or that principle. Perhaps a new regime did not at first have the direct means of influencing citizens one way or another. After the German elections of 1932, which permitted Adolf Hitler to form a government, or the Czechoslovak elections of 1946, where communists were victorious, the next crucial step was anticipatory obedience. Because enough people in both cases voluntarily extended their services to the new leaders, Nazis and communists alike realized that they could move quickly toward a full regime change. The first heedless acts of conformity could not then be reversed."

Section: 1, Chapter: 1

Book: On Tyranny

Author: Timothy Snyder

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