coromandal


a Politburo for correct thinking
May 6, 2020, 5:34 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , ,

POLITBURO USSR UNDER STALIN | SUPREME SOVIET UNDER STALIN ...

After the collapse of world markets in 2009, the banks, regulators, MBA and economics schools all came together and made policy changes and passed legislation to protect against such a cataclysm from happening again. Ha ha, no, actually no they didn’t. All systems are more or less the same and we are hurtling toward similar disasters timed every decade or so until the end of our lives.

The economics profession is like a Politburo – or a religion – only with less empirical evidence. Its sacramental formulas are proven wrong again and again, yet no changes are made, no recriminations rendered, no firings, no jail time. J. K. Galbraith puts it like this:

Leading active members of today’s economics profession … have formed themselves into a kind of Politburo for correct economic thinking. As a general rule – as one might generally expect from a gentleman’s club – this has placed them on the wrong side of every important policy issue, and not just recently but for decades. They predict disaster where none occurs. They deny the possibility of events that then happen … No one loses face, in this club, for having been wrong. No one is dis-invited from presenting papers at later annual meetings. And still less is anyone from the outside invited in.

James K. Galbraith, as quoted in The Future: Recycled, No Future For You, The Baffler

 



social order window dressing
August 15, 2015, 4:12 pm
Filed under: brave new world, chronotopes | Tags: , , , ,

Capitalist modernity: instrumentalism, power, profit, material survival, management, manipulation, self interested calculation, private morality. Culture is for material production, decoration for the new material consumer social order, distraction during non work hours.

The pre capitalist modern world: fostering human sharing and solidarity, communal shaping of a common life. Culture is an extension of the aims of human solidarity and shared life.

Terry Eagleton’s description:

Capitalist modernity, so it appeared, had landed us with an economic system which was almost purely instrumental.  It was a way of life dedicated to power, profit, and the business of material survival, rather than to fostering the values of human sharing and solidarity.  The political realm was more a question of management and manipulation than of the communal shaping of a common life.  Reason itself had been debased to mere self-interested calculation.  As for morality, this too, had become an increasingly private affair, more relevant to the bedroom than the boardroom.  Cultural life had grown more important in one sense, burgeoning into a whole industry or branch of material production.  In another sense, however, it had dwindled to the window-dressing of a social order which had exceedingly little time for anything it could not price or measure.  Culture was now largely a matter of how to keep people harmlessly distracted when they were not working.

Terry Eagleton, The Meaning of Life



economics explained
October 3, 2013, 11:13 am
Filed under: brave new world | Tags:



yams and pigs

Even on the farm, even in so-called primitive contexts, people need to escape the bonds of family and blood and initiate relations with other people.  And this is just as true when it comes to trade and commerce as with other forms of social human interaction, says Mark Anspach in an interview excerpted below.

Some Americans – New Yorkers for instance – resist the idea of the big box retailer, and Walmart and other stores find not enough love to convince the five boroughs to let them in.  Residents don’t want the fine balance of trade, which includes mom and pops and boutiques and large retailers, being wildly disrupted by a mega retailer.  And they have the money and power to keep them out.

Other Americans are proud of big box retailers like Walmart; they like the car convenient ritual, the low prices and the enormous choice.  They identify big boxes with being American.  Often these Americans don’t have the power and money to influence how their markets function anyway.

Big is anonymous and the bulk of the money and policy that swirls around big boxes in America sets the primal impulse to trade on it’s end.  The base human economic transaction between a buyer and a seller is changed completely because the seller isn’t really in the room, nor really in the town or city, and maybe not even in the state.  Same with the goods, they are mostly in transit in the hold of an airplane or ship somewhere in the middle of a large ocean.  Same with the crafts person who makes the goods, who sits in a fluorescent lit room, one in a long row, somewhere thousands of miles across oceans and sand.

Anspach explains how economists see human trade quite differently than anthropologists.  The economic view is narrow and instrumentalist.  Buyer, seller, pig, yam.  I have pig, you have yam, we print money, we buy each others pigs and yams.

The anthropologist has a much richer view and sees trade as a critical tool for tying together members of a community and avoiding privatism and forming essential bonds with neighbors.  In this view, trade is less about getting the best deal on a farm animal, than establishing a lifelong bond by offering, in trust, your product to your neighbor as a form of gift.

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