Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What Is Capitalism, Exactly?

Russia Today seems to be a news organization growing in presence and penetration. It is, of course, not without an agenda, but for now at least it covers stories of interest to the 99%—to use the modern vernacular—far better than the mainstream. I drop by from time to time and watch any articles that catch my eye. Last weekend a debate on #ows did just that. An early theme that emerged in the opening minutes was that America had yet to experience true capitalism, that Wall Street was not a capitalist phenomenon, that until we got true capitalism we’d just be digging a deeper debt-hole for ourselves, and the socialist rich would continue to fleece the 99% and charge them for the pleasure. Oh yeah, and growth would not return. It’s an argument I’m sure you’ve all heard before. And it begs one blindingly obvious question: What the hell is capitalism?

At risk of annoying those who want to know, I suspect there are as many answers as people chancing an answer. Which is I suppose good in some ways, but bad in others. However, if capitalism can be any number of things depending on whom you ask, the assertion that some pure or true capitalism would put America or Europe or the world Back in Business is vague and unprovable. Furthermore, if the world has never experienced True Capitalism, how can we know it would work? And, is it even tenable to assert that something as vague as capitalism has a ‘true’ form, and what does it mean for such to work? These are not easy questions to answer. In fact, there are no answers.

My position is vague too, I admit it, but—I dare to suggest—less vague. Whatever we call The New Way (I’m with those who refer to it as resource-based economics, but that’s totally cosmetic, little more than a temporary holder), we cannot know from this distance the details of its operating, which would be emergent and changing anyway. But a New Way it will most definitely be. What I do not seek is a ‘return’ to, or arrival at, some pure, ‘free’ market oiled by an optimally minimal amount of ‘government interference’, because such a wish makes absolutely no sense to me. Not only is there no separation between the fictions of Market and State, there is no such thing as freedom. Acceptance of this will set us ‘free’ (ha!) to build The New Way from the ground up. And so, from a fresher perspective, a free market is exactly what I wish for.

Deep in the Myth of the Market I spy the seed of something radical, and that is direct democracy and its potential flourishing via the Internet (or similar infrastructure and software). The very idea that everyone’s dollar is equivalent, has purchasing power and therefore ‘political’ power too; that none can steer the market to their own egomaniacal ends, is a healthy one. The problem with it, is that money is necessarily powerful, operates as a commodity with value even as it is a mere measure, and that being rich is ‘better’ than being poor.

Because outcomes cannot be equal, because people are not uniformly ‘rational,’ motivated and well informed, the messy and unpredictable competition of markets can only lead, in this system, to grossly unequal accumulations and distribution of money and property. Under the current rules of the market game ‘success’ is about victory over, or at the expense of, other market participants. Competition is nothing unless it produces winners and losers.

In this system, healthy unequal distribution (uniformity of outcome is flat out impossible) generates unhealthy and stubborn rich and poor divides. When, by definition, rich is Good, and poor is Bad, why should we expect a different result? There is a constant incentive to game this system for ego-based ends; the rich seek to maintain the current distribution or tilt it even more in their favour, the poor to Get Rich by any means possible. The power lies with the rich, however, since they can afford lawyers, lobbyists, the best education, etc., to help them and their kin stay ‘on top.’ And none of this has anything to do with blame, except at the systemic level. As humans with empathy and imagination, we can imagine what it’s like to be rich or poor, so seek the former and avoid the latter (as a rule) and set up systems that survive across generations. Hence stubborn rich-poor divides, class divisions, and so on.

So the ‘free’ market dynamic so many yearn for can only generate the very monopoly problem it is thought to avoid, while our foundational assumptions about reality include scarcity, Separation (as Charles Eisenstein means it), greed and competition, and denigrate, or think illusory, abundance, cooperation and trust.

"What," as Mr. Fussy was wont to say, "to do?"

Well, to be vague, in conjunction with a change of consciousness, we change the rules and goals of the game, by changing the money system to fit what the new consciousness desires, perceives, understands. Until we address the stickiness of money, its ability to glue divisions in place and keep them there at all costs, the Market-State hierarchical extraction dynamic will operate as we have seen historically thus far, turning ‘idle’ resources into goods and services for sale at an ever accelerating pace, to the enrichment of the 1% (10% really), recently as aided and abetted by fossil fuels and our burgeoning technological prowess. Furthermore, exacerbating the problem of what I’m calling money’s stickiness is the usury attached to its creation per fractional reserve banking, such that the money system must constantly increase the money supply if it is to pay off the interest owed, which requires a forever growing economy. Consequently, growth is what ‘backs’ money in this system, hence our blind allegiance to the god Perpetual Growth, and our systemic subservience to it. We are witnessing today the system’s breakdown, for the simple reason that growth cannot be reignited as the system demands.

The money system is a problem generated by a consciousness (or paradigm) of scarcity, fear and greed. They reenforce one another, co-create each other in a positive feedback loop, and we are still in their (its) grip. But we are breaking out of it at last. There are multiple suggestions ‘out there’ to help us grow a new system from the soil of the new, emerging consciousness.

The Venus Project and The Zeitgeist Movement call for a new socioeconomics which would render redundant the need for any medium of exchange, but are sketchy to silent on how to transition to such a different system. Their idea to give away goods and services at a price of zero, to all people, by producing more than enough across the planet, is beautiful, but too outlandish and far-off to find sufficiently deep purchase in the current culture’s soil, as evidenced by The Venus Project’s relative obscurity after decades of dedicated promotion and campaigning. The Zeitgeist Movement is concerned primarily (and rightly so in my opinion) with dissemination of information and analyses which help others more critically appraise the status quo so as to be readier for change when it comes, and more able to introduce it wisely.

Charles Eisenstein calls for the buying of existing debt with a fiat, negative interest currency, not debt-based; the end of income taxes, and the introduction of biting taxes on environmentally damaging mining, manufacture etc.; a social dividend ‘funded’ by that money drained from the economy via the demurrage rate and environmental taxes; for minimal (or no) private property, maximum commons, revolution in the education system; and multiple money types to meet flexibly various economic needs. It’s all laid out in his book, “Sacred Economics”.

Franz Hoermann and his ‘team’ call for a minimum of two “billing circuits”, such that matter (as mined, farmed, grown, etc.) is to be ‘tracked’ by one type of money, and human creativity (labour and other societal contributions) by another. ‘Money’ is to be totally electronic and transparent, created (as in Ithaca Hours) at the point of the transaction, which means locally at the level of the individual, managed by an Internet-like infrastructure, and to be seen as a means of keeping tabs rather than as wealth. In this ‘plan’ (better; set of ideas and suggestions) there is to be a social dividend in the form of an ‘overdraft facility’ at the level of the personal ‘bank account,’ which incurs no interest. There is no interest anywhere in the money system. Bankers become advisers to people seeking help on the best way to contribute to society. Private property would likewise (as in Eisenstein’s model) be phased out. Education would be a far more open affair. (Further details on this are available on YouTube in German, or at this blog as translated by me.)

There are many other ‘plans’ out there, from Freegold, to 100% reserve banking, to MMT. My ‘money’ is on some mix of the above.

But change is underway now, globally, in the form of Occupy Everywhere, which is the early beginnings of the creation of a new decision-making sociopolitical apparatus, which will mature and develop as it does, beyond the control of any individual or monopoly. As such it is a genuinely ‘free’ market (to the extent such a thing is at all possible) because it is motivated by transparency and cooperation, which has The New Way both as its goal and means (means are ends). The establishment of these means is to include the contribution of anyone who wishes to be involved. In this ‘market,’ this bazaar, the ideas and suggestions humanity has to offer can be discussed and critiqued, including how to get direct democracy up and running, scaling that up beyond the local, and slowly building the mechanisms which will transcend the current status quo, and render it redundant. If some people want to call this process True Capitalism, they can. Who am I to say no to that. My contribution (or desire) is adherence to a transparent and cooperative process which allows the stronger ideas to rise to the surface of human consciousness, globally. Science, feedback from nature, open-mindedness and concern for the environment will take care of the rest.

The earth belongs to no one. No one. Life (or Universe) is a web of ever-changing interrelationships which cannot be frozen into some ‘preferred’ arrangement, and includes humanity as deeply as it includes asteroids and weather. Humans are not separate from Universe. Existing ‘rulers’ only rule over others for as long as those others agree to that rule. Law, convention, tradition; all are negotiable, and being human inventions steeped in inescapable ignorance, need to be treated with a wise but cool attitude which allows us creative flexibility going forward. I agree with those who see an enormous sea change sweeping across the human sphere, that our consciousness is reaching out to a deepening appreciation of cooperation, interdependence, emergence, embeddedness and community. These ‘new’ desires can find no fruitful voice in this system of Perpetual Growth, consumerism, cynicism, propaganda and hierarchical ‘control.’ In the manner of autopoiesis (self-creating) we, the 100%, are giving birth to the soil that will nourish their flourishing, regardless of the label we choose to attach to what one day emerges as Our New System. What it will not be is the flowering of the neoliberal dream of homo economicus, locked into guarded competition with the rest of Universe in a battle over scarce goods and services, whose cost is the endless rape of nature in pursuit of the barren dream of Shiny Cars, Huge McMansions and other Bling Mirages.

So, my answer to the question I set myself in the title: I don’t care. It’s not history or some pragmatic, academic purity which should be guiding us, but our humanity and its embeddedness in the rest of nature. Chris Hedges:

Macdonald argued that those who wanted change had to base all actions on the nonhistorical and more esoteric values of truth, justice and love. They had to retain Danton’s call for audacity. Once any class bows to the practical dictates required by effective statecraft and legislation, as well as the call to protect the nation, it loses its moral authority and its voice. The naive belief in human progress through science, technology and mass production, which this movement understands is a lie, erodes these nonhistorical values by placing faith in state power and fantasy. The choice is between serving human beings or serving history, between thinking ethically or thinking strategically. Macdonald excoriated Marxists for the same reason he excoriated the liberal class: They subordinated ethics to another goal. They believed the ends justified the means. The liberal class, like the Marxists, by serving history and power capitulated to the state in the end. This capitulation by the liberal class, as Irving Howe noted, “bleached out all political tendencies.” Liberalism, he wrote, “becomes a loose shelter, a poncho rather than a program; to call oneself a liberal one doesn’t really have to believe in anything.”

Believe in us, and call yourself a human.


Debra said...

I don't really understand the Chris Hedges quote. What is he talking about ??
My dividing lines are different...
I have said here and elsewhere, "please forgive me if I allow my abstract ideas to take precedence over your flesh and blood body, your smiling, or not smiling face".
The rabbis said that you could tell it was day when you could recognize your neighbor's face...
It is hard to recognize your neighbor's flesh and blood face over the Internet. Impossible, I would say. Your neighbor is pretty much an abstraction over the Internet, although not totally. (Admittedly, I enjoy talking with my daughter over Skype, although I also write letters to her.)
On Sunday, I listened to my husband calmly espouse the idea that we needed global governance to go beyond our current mess.
It gets frustrating telling people that global governance IS THE PROBLEM. That we have been slowly moving towards global governance BECAUSE OF TECHNOLOGY AND INDUSTRY since the beginning of the industrial revolution ??
I do NOT believe that we are going to significantly change human nature at the pace at which our technology is "progressing"... That means that the only way to "limiter les dégats", as we say, to limit the breakage, is to scale down from globalization in its current form. And that means... the Internet too.
Does this sound disheartening ?
Only to those who remain firmly convinced that humanity must be saved, and THAT ideology traverses our civilization, in religious and secular forms.
Idolatry of money is our number one problem, re capitalism, which is another name for it : constantly harping on money as the measure of ALL THINGS... (money or.. THE LACK OF IT...)
At the market today, I watched business as usual : money changing hands, but smiles, DEBT FORGIVING (a few pennies on each side, for example), conversations, "thank yous".
Business the way is has been done for centuries now, and will continue to be done, probably.
Why get ourselves all worked up with the news, Toby ??
Our lives are small.
Why want to make EVENTS out of them ??
We can't all be Napoleons. Dixit a Leo.
Masses of crusader Napoleons make me very afraid.
Our civilization is addicted to its crusades, I fear...
Sigh. Once more with feeling.

Toby said...

I link to Hedges' article, which you can read in full if you'd like. My interpretation is that he's talking about staying true to the means rather than some rigid ends, that the means are rooted in an ethical revolution that puts human and environmental concern first, is leaderless (i.e. with no Napoleons), and that caving to state-like pragmatism destroys the chance of accomplishing any change.

I disagree with you about the Internet, but only if what #ows is a vessel for stays vital and gains cohesive momentum. The key is transparent sharing of all public information. Otherwise all technology is steered by the centralising dynamic of the state, as you point out, though it has been so for far longer than since the Industrial Revolution. I'd say since the birth of the state form. Unless we transcend its rapacious dynamic I believe we'll wipe ourselves out.

Why is that sad? Because I like human beings, just as I like all beings. I know there are those who don't, but there's nothing I can do about that.

Otherwise you seem to be echoing the sentiment of my article, not disagreeing with it, so I'm a little confused by the sighs.

Debra said...

Last night I read an extremely depressing article about where worldwide surveillance is taking us.
It is slowly but surely taking us towards... the anthill.
I don't want to WORK AT THE ANTHILL, Toby.
Transparence is a temptress.
Check out the Thomas Merton quote at Pax Lupo, at the end that has been put up.
No leaders means.. THE ANTHILL, Toby.
Leaders may have risks, but NO LEADERS has even more risks.
Once again, it's the ONE SIZE FITS ALL mentality that dominates us.
We need... SOME LEADERS.
The alternative scares the shit out me.
I can already hear its sirens wailing in the tonality of your last words (and mine ??)
But Thomas Merton ?
When we can express ourselves like Thomas Merton, there will be hope again.
Until then.. the logos continues its relentless drive towards making us language.. machines, slaving away at the anthill.
In my opinion.
That is why the glorification of work is another one of those sirens. Perhaps more so than the glorification of money ? I don't know..
Those INDIFFERENTIATED ants are not slaving away for money, but they are still slaving away, in my book.
Slaving away at the anthill is a SOCIAList society.
That is why I am much less social, these days..
Back to my piano now.

Toby said...

The hive mind. No, I'm not for that. Not for the undifferentiated blob or automaton.

When I say "leaderless", I mean The Charismatic Leader the Rest follow, sheep-like and manipulatable. Yes, there have to be leaders, just as there has to be hierarchy, as I've stated in previous posts and comments. Hence "humble arrogance" and other such expressions escaping my typing of late. Hence my saying the hierarchy/anarchy dichotomy is false, misleading.

Ah me, with you as my ongoing thought-editor, my almost obsessive tendency to qualify everything I say is going to get out of hand. You're already camped in my head, like an occupying teacher correcting, critiquing, qualifying. Maybe go a little gentle on me from here on in, please? I'm very much with you on most of what you say, but can't squeeze absolutely everything there is into every article I write, with every conceivable qualification diluting any expression that might possibly be interpreted as totalitarian. You make a man want to stop expressing himself.

Debra said...

Sorry, Toby.
Although I LOVE reading you when you express yourself in your poetry, you know.
If you notice, I NEVER CRITICIZE your poetry...
On charismatic leaders... yesterday I spent all afternoon pasting photos into my children's "books", the almanachs that I am making for them, with a smattering of family history, tied into the big picture, HISTORY IN CAPITAL LETTERS...lol.
And I came across a picture of my Daddy, in rousing action, among a crowd of 10 year olds, at the junior high/high school I attended. He must have been around 47 at the time, a scant ten years before he disappeared, after burning himself out, like a meteor, at 57. (It takes all kinds to make a DIVERSE world, and not an anthill...)
His... PASSION was palpable. His enthusiasm.
If ever anybody was charismatic, my Daddy certainly was. He inspired... GENERATIONS of young men (and a few women, although he was less comfortable with that) to be leaders, to be curious, etc.
Did he MANIPULATE them ? All education involves taking people WHERE YOU WANT THEM TO GO. But there are important differences. You can take them where you want them to go, while listening to them, and respecting them, and also learning from them, AND MAKING THE TRIP WITH THEM, or you can condescend to them, with the idea that you are not taking them to the point where they will ULTIMATELY REPLACE YOU, when you bow out of the scene. Which YOU/WE WILL. ALL OF US. Those are big differences in attitude.
I see this playing out in my theater class. My theater teacher wants to be the King. Forever. (Hell, Toby, under the Ancien Regime, EVEN THE KING was supposed to know that he wouldn't be the King forever... you know, like "THE KING IS DEAD, LONG LIVE THE KING" ??) She wants to be THE ONE WHO KNOWS, while her students are THE ONES WHO DO NOT KNOW. (And lots of women want to be kings these days..) France is a country which maintains the monarchical foundation while paying obsequious lip service to the Republic. It gets... VERY IRRITATING.
Maybe when you SPEAK, Toby, you can get people excited ? (I can...)
Only speech, in the flesh and blood, can REALLY INSPIRE us. Like, I seem to remember that the word "inspire" has something to do with breathing. NOT WITH... typing on the world wide web, or even watching videos on it.
You are right. I am a rather Voltarian person at this time. I can not get excited about ideas any more. So I am not a good person to listen to you get excited about your ideas.

Toby said...

The Way is Hard.

At the moment I'm abuzz because, as of Tuesday I'm no longer an employee. The fizzing of my emotions, their spilling out of my fingers here, from my mouth at home, puts me in a very different 'space' to the one you appear to be occupying right now. But that's cool.

What's weird (in a redundant way) is how these head-buttings we engage in are, in some manner, narcissistic, immature. (Interesting that you bring up your Daddy as I tread on the emotional pedal.) But we're just hammering things out, like millions of others. We're not Gods whose every pronouncement creates a Universe of horror or beauty. Just humans chewing the cud. And that's cool.

Images can inspire, so can the written word, so can anything (a blue tit landing on my windowsill at work yesterday changed my mood for the better). I heard this morning of the young, demobbed soldier hit in the head by a police projectile, lying in a coma in hospital somewhere in the US, and wept. That's very human of me. I was inspired by an online film (Zeitgeist Addendum) to learn, write, discuss, and change The System. And here we are, you and I (and others), chewing the cud. All sorts of things made our meeting possible, and the Internet is obviously one of them. It is an extremely important human creation, and inspires me to no foreseeable end (so far).

I don't know what's going to happen, I only know I want to contribute, be involved, be useful. And that's very human of me.

Debra said...

I say... "Hail, blue tits". ;-)

Malagodi said...

Capitalism is the word we now use to describe the process of accumulation of wealth in a central storehouse. It is a process that is the direct result of the invention of the granary. From this, all the modern evils of the world proceed.

All biological systems attempt to move toward and maximize their efficient use of their energy source, in our case, money. Fish do it, sunflowers do it, capitalists do it, and I do it.

I suggest that there is little hope in defying this process through some hope in a more 'morally conscious' approach.

What we need to do, like every other organism, is try to maximize the efficiency of the energy transfer, eliminating as much as possible the 'storage and transaction fees' that fund the legacy banking system. To do this I would recommend an electronic transfer system that dealt in pure energy units, like the watt, while at the same time encouraging a method of local exchange not dependent on the electronic infrastructure. I find nothing objectionable about the idea of trading chickens for dental work. I am also an early adopter of Bitcoins. This in no way attempts to rectify the disparities that must occur naturally, but it minimizes the artificial penalties against the poor. (John Cage said "What we need to do is to make the world safe for poverty.")

Technology: we are in no way distinct from our technology any more than we are distinct from the rest of our environment. In fact, there seems to be a rather natural symbiosis occurring. (See Gideon's "Mechanization Takes Command".) The idea that technology is 'steered' by anyone is simply not historically accurate. (We can say that NASA or the Military ~whoever that is~ develops specific tools for specific tasks and is a 'driver' of technological production, but it is in no way capable of 'steering' the longer term course of events) It's development is as natural and 'organic' as any other development influenced by biological beings. The fundamental characteristic of biological life is that it 'moves from the formed to the forming' (Kitaro). Inorganic material manipulated into 'technological' systems by biological beings, be they humans or monkeys or hummingbirds or ants will develop according to this fundamental evolutionary process, not 'steered' by anyone.

I say, again, that the future of humanity and much of the rest of biological life on this Earth is indeterminate, in the Cageian sense. It is out of our control, as it has always been. Remember when human beings thought that the Earth was the center of the universe and that all revolved around us? It doesn't, and of course it never has.

"Atlas knows nothing of the fat man (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fat_Man.)"

Toby said...

Exactly. It's not accumulation that's the problem, it's our attitude to what's accumulated generating too much unnecessary suffering and destruction. Money's too sticky. To repeat a theme richly implicit in your latest comments here, we're too fearful, and not faithful enough.

Oh yeah, and being systemically addicted to growth is a Bad Idea.

Good comment Stephen, thank you for it.

Debra said...

Last night, thinking about it, it came to me in a flash of light... what is capitalism ?
Capitalism is NOT the trading going on in my local farmer's market.
It is something else... capitalism is... THE IDOLATRY OF (abstract) MONEY. Pretty cool, huh ?
Somewhere way back there, when the Catholics and Protestants were haggling about interest, things went topsy turvy, and right along with the REFORM, we got a 180° reversal from William, who said, as I repeat from time to time "poor soul the center of my sinful earth, thrall to these rebel powers that thee array, why dost thou pine within and suffer dearth, painting thy outward walls so costly gay, why SO LARGE COST, having so short a lease, dost thou upon thy fading mansion spend.... then soul, live thou upon thy servant's loss, and let that pine to aggravate thy store, buy terms divine in selling hours of dross, within be fed, without be rich no more..."
And all of a sudden, it was COOL to be rich, and accumulating was OK, authorized by the (especially Protestant) churches. (The Bible has lots of nasty things to say about worshipping money and material wealth, by the way.)
The old cosmogony was oriented around Mother earth, and had matriarchal origins. Perhaps it was only a question of time before the Judeo-christian, monotheistic LOGOS dethroned a matriarchal cosmogony, based on MOTHER earth being the center of the universe, to stick a PATRIARCHAL LOGOS GOD in place, at first, and then gradually, that logos went its own inevitable ABSTRACT way, anyway.
I don't consider the heliocentric cosmogony to be "the truth". It is only "the truth" from within a certain POINT OF VIEW.
And that point of view definitely has its blind spots...
The Copernican/Galilean revolution destroys, NOT THE CHURCH, but the old, Ancien Regime telluric cosmogony. And it opens up the possibility for getting rid of God in a big way, ultimately substituting abstract forces (Descartes) for a personal relationship with transcendance, AND a feeling of connection to nature... HERSELF.... (Here, I fear that we can thank Spinoza, who I have NOT read, for paving the way to secularizing Judaism, divorcing the RELIGIOUS BELIEF from the ideology that founds our modernity, to a very great extent.)
In a cosmogony like that, we will become bits and pieces of energy.
I recuse it.
It takes all kinds to make a world, right ?

Toby said...

Dualism. Mind and body, spirit and matter. We've been caught in its trap since, like, forever. And the beautiful poetry you quote seems trapped in it too, though it precedes Descartes of course.

I just watched Peter Shiff engaging in a 'diologue' with the folks down at #ows about capitalism. His zinger: "Capitalism isn't the problem, it's the solution!" And he 'debated' this will all and sundry, trotting out the tired old (though valid) private risk met with private reward or loss as Good, and government should keep its nose out. All well and good, but the Market/State dichotomy he invokes to build his case is an illusion. The man is so yesterday. Sadly he's not alone.

So, for me, I don't care about the word capitalism. What I care about is understanding how things 'work,' even though that undertaking never ends, and for many reasons including 'change is the only constant.' Hell, I even agree with the core of what Shiff says, but disagree about the mechanism which might deliver it. He believes in The Market. I believe in Wisdom. And what my wisdom is telling me is that the current money system is utterly in the way of what humanity is slowly fumbling towards (what Eisenstein calls the "connected self"), and is forcing us to overconsume as if consumption of Bling and Glamour is what makes us 'happy.' (Whatever that is!)

I think the reformation is a key turning point in this story, but our time was ripe at that point in history for that particular change of course, i.e., it emerged from the soil of that time, and that soil had been prepared by prior history. And so on. And we'd had greed and usury crushing economies prior to Luther and Calvin paving the way for conspicuous consumption.

But it's all so wonderfully complex, and leads off in every direction. It's great we'll never get to the bottom of it. There is no bottom, nor is there a beginning. And that's hard for the human mind to deal with.

You once asked me if I thought reality is digital or analog. I said digital/binary. I've changed my position on that. You are not bits. You are infinite. And so is everything else. All gloriously analog to boot. Enjoy it while it lasts!

Debra said...

YAY, let's hear it for analogy.
Analogy is not.. IDENTICAL REPLICATION. There is room for a little uncertainty there.
And metaphor.
Metaphor is a good deal. We need more of it.
I think...

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Peter Schiff is part of the status-quo goon squad. A much more enlightened talk was given by Arthur Brock of the Metacurrency Project.


Debra, it seems to me that metaphor is a huge part of the problem. Money is a metaphor for wealth, and markets are a metaphor for the economy. We need more of the opposite - to get our information systems to accurately model reality.

Toby said...

Hi Karl, I finally got around to watching the talk you linked to. Excellent stuff.

As for your point about metaphor, I would expand on it by saying that money are markets suck at representing value. That is, it is not metaphor and symbol that are the problems (humans inescapably deal in both to generate meaning) but the depth and breadth of the metaphors we create and accept.