NuLook: ECONOMICS AND POWER/FORCE

INTRO

This is only one small, but significant, piece in a large puzzle. The full comprehension of this piece occurs only in the context of this nu, large puzzle; not by attempting to squeeze it to fit more traditional puzzles it strives to challenge.

Distinguish knowing and comprehending.

This essay is one of many attempts to portray that dual monster of Economics and Power/Force as a facade. From some perspectives they are truly dangerous and almost impossible to challenge. But, from other perspectives, when their deeper natures are revealed and how we give them the very power we fear, we discover them to be “paper tigers” capable of literally evaporating away (As did the USSR.). Humans and things will remain and we could very easily permit new Economies and Powers to control our minds – but there are other and better alternatives. But, to explore these exciting alternatives we must first come to comprehend what our world is and what it is not.

ECONO-CENTRISM

SUB-SYSTEM-CENTRISM

  •         “Whole Systems” are viable when there is a dynamic balance between all functional subsystems.
  •         The distinction between system components and system sub-systems in important to maintain.  A component is a system in its own right, a holon in a nested hierarchy or holarchy of systems/holons.  Different sub-systems can share a common component: lungs are components of both respiratory and circulatory subsystems.  Components are often confused for their subsystems: brains are components of governance sub-systems and are not “governments” of bodies.
  •         Crises to a whole systems may shift relative balance between sub-systems for whole system survival.  Permanent dominance of one sub-system over the whole will likely threaten the continued survival of the system.  This may be the current crisis of humankind on Earth as a “whole system” where the so-called “economic sub-system” is confused as being almost identical with the whole.  The defining phrase from a few decades ago: “What is good for GM is good for the Country.”
  •         Metaphor. Human body as Human Society.  Centrism of Digestion. The tube in the human torus – mouth to anus. EAT, EAT, EAT.  Obesity is Beautiful. Forget about mobility and don’t worry about where you SHIT. Centrism of Economics.

  ECONOMICS

        Economics is not a complete science; it is more a technology.

  •             Sciences study whole systems; they cannot (without reason) disregard part of the system to be studied. However, this is what most economic theories (and subsequent practices) insist on doing. For example, ignoring major costs and labor sources in their “budgets” of economic exchange.  I have called economics a truncated science – and as such it can make no legitimate claims about how systems function (on their own, e.g., markets). As a technology (whose objective it to make things happen, not explain how things happen), economics has become the major power/force in human civilizations – moving to a strong position of econo-centrism.
  •             It is a misconception that Science is the foundation/source of Technology.  Science and Technology are cousin super-disciplines. They share empiricism and the use of mathematical symbolism which contributes to the confusion of their relationship. Historically, science and technology co-evolve.

        Fundamental Economic Sub-system

  • As a novice I am here stripping “economics” of all we have traditionally linked to it and seeking a few basic fundamentals to begin conceptualizing what we might need for such a sub-system for our emergent Humanity.  None of the following will be relevant:  finance, money, ownership, employment, profit, investment, wealth, supply, demand, etc.
    •             NEEDS, RESOURCES, COMPETENCIES, FLOWS  are my tentative four pillars of “economic processes”. The other realities related to these four pillars determine how they can and cannot interact.  Competencies enable humans in patterns of interaction to experimentally create flows between resources and needs. This will always be a dynamic, evolving and emerging system/process.
    •             As but a sub-system of the whole of Humanity, decisions as to what needs have priority; how resources are to be harvested, renewed, protected; how competencies are to be developed and new flows established IS BEYOND THE PERVIEW OF ECONOMICS.
    •             When those humans who manage economic processes are also deciders of the context of the economic subsystems, we slip into the abyss of econo-centrism.  Below we shall examine a few conceptual tools used to achieve this: money and jobs.
    •             As I will attempt to demonstrate, the taken-for-granted aspects of conventional economics are there NOT FOR THE MOST REESEE ECONOMIC SUBSYSTEM, but to enable a small elite through power/force to control the whole of humankind.  They are successful when all discourse on critical issues must be done in the context of their artificially created economic frame.
    •                 ASIDE: The educational subsystem is similarly constrained. In 1976 K. Patricia Cross clearly pointed out that all the primary characteristics of formal education (classes, semesters, courses, tests, administration, faculty and students) were for the efficiency of finance and management and were strongly counter-productive to seafing quality learning. Little has changed. because the econo-centric system requires that education be formatted as edu-centric.  The liberation of education and economics, and other sub-systems will be part of a symphonic emergence of a nu Humanity
    •             This is not the place to speculate on details of a nu economic sub-system — as it can only emerge in the context of the whole.  Which is not to discourage all speculation in this open context.

 POLITICAL ECONOMICS 

  •      In the Wikipedia history cited above, the current term “economy” was shortened from the term “political economy” in the 19th century. Power and governance have long been associated with the distortion into econo-centrism. The massive and overt dominance of finance economics over all other human endevors is evidence of how critical our circumstances are.
  •         Elsewhere I will propose a perspective/context where this whole “global, corporatist, high finance, intelligence, media, militarist, etc.” COMPLEX  is but a gigantic paper tiger – a fictitious mythos (A Matrix of our Collective Mind) that can be “EVAPORATED”.  The evaporation of the USSR is an exemplar. The “rule book” folded.  Persons and infrastructures persisted and new fictions quickly emerged. But, that the King had no Clothes was evident, and then rapidly covered up.  Managing the Mythos continues the means of power.
  •         Today there are many intertwined levels of myths. ALL DISCOURSE accessible to the public (via mass media and online) IS OUT OF CONTEXT.  NOTHING IS WHAT IT APPEARS TO BE.  Great bubblings emerge under the radar but appears to lack overall coherence and direction. Many seem to be playing in their own creative mythos.   These statements are but teasers.

EMPLOYMENT vs LIVING BASICS

The loudest noise is about JOBS and THE economy.

First, there is no THE economy. There are many related economies. Although we hear about how the top are doing better and the bottom are doing worse, the concept of there being ONE, THE economy persists.  This myth blocks thinking that maybe some of the economies are not so good; for if there is only one true economy, to fix it requires that we fix all of it. And that part which is doing well “should know better what to do”, so it can demand austerity on the other economies, because they are the experts about THE ECONOMY, and who is to challenge them.

Second, jobs and employment are artifacts of the industrial revolution, and are rapidly disappearing from the new economic systems emerging.  The diversity of ways humans historically acquired living basics (food & water, shelter, security) were many and complex. But, depending on an employment contract for a wage or salary was not the rule, nor will ever again become the dominant practice.

  •         Union action and other actions for workers must be continued so long as employment remains the primary source of living basics, but for “the left” to make “jobs” their foundation is a dead end. The decades long fear of automation is here in full force, and will continue (bar major collapse).  Full pay for women is another dead end project (not that they don’t deserve it).
  •         More research needs to be done on how those not employed throughout the world do get their living basics.  Some don’t, but many do.  We might discover that contemporary societal systems significantly block many peoples from quickly developing new means for providing living basics.
  •             One might speculate that if these constraining societal systems would collapse, net suffering of humankind might actually decrease. Although the better off would have less (but not nothing), and many in the middle would have to adjust, those at the bottom might find their lives improving rapidly.  We don’t KNOW this, but the big FEAR of collapse may be but another myth.  This is not to say that the problems of Climate Change and other ecological disasters are not facing us.

Third, employment was but a version of class or cast. Quick “education” into a fixed role has been a fundamental tenet of civilization. “Life-long-learning” remains a mantra, occasionally hummed but never practiced.  Better living, even for the powerful and wealthy, comes from the uplifting of knowledge and competencies among a portion of the population.  The practices of civilization blocks this uplift for the main populations – possibly the most destructive practice of civilization.

  •         The employment ladder actually saw very limited mobility. Often persons advance to levels of incompetence, spreading dysfunction into systems. Those few climbing the ladders were popularized, those failing to climb were ignored or cited as evidence of lack of motivation and competition.  These systems attracted and facilitated sociopaths to rise to the top of employment hierarchies where their lack of human empathy is put to good use.

A viable human society requires a separation of what people do (or are expected to do) from  how they gain their living basics.  Research has demonstrated that some measures must be taken to discourage “free riders”, but to make everyone fear survival to manage a few is quite stupid – but argued as essential.  Actually, it is essential for a rich elite to exploit  laboring masses. Many types of rewards exist, other than provision of living basics, to motivate people to relevant action.

  •         How special rewards (that cannot ever be had by all) are distributed is a separate issue, and how persons with special talents (beneficial for all) are to be adequately supported (seafed) also requires attention.
  •         Designs of basic economies are many and can be experimental. What is essential is that they be secure from attempted takeovers by factions desiring to dominate them and the whole of a society.

MONEY MAKING MONEY

  •     This issue is often debated, but because the debate occurs in a distorted and limited context, there is never resolution.
    •     Whenever possession of money  can be manipulated to increase money without adding value to the society, we are asking for trouble.  The temptation snowballs, and soon the owners of much money can buy everything else.  The primary business today may be LOC, Legal Organized Crime.  Crime here is taking what is not yours, the process is organized (a business), and it is legal because your business controls the laws and courts.  Once LOC becomes dominant, all business must at least dabble in LOC to survive.  Crime, Corruption, and Conspiracy form the tripod of modern civilization.
    •     That money can continue to make more and more money – while not only not creating real value, but actually by destroying value – is the primo achievement of LOC, as it provides the tool for everything else.  In its addiction to money/power civilization is sacrificing its infrastructure and the well being of the population.
    •     It may be naive to believe the LOC and contemporary global societal holarchies (whatever we chose to label them) will collapse before they have utterly destroyed everything else.  Without morals there is no limit to which LOC will go to survive – including sacrificing parts of itself.  LOC can adapt the game to keep the game going. Remember, all are severe addicts living in inner worlds where their actions are justified by their distorted perceptions.
    •     Please don’t be too depressed. This is actually not the full story, although it may appear so.  Much that appears very real is actually fiction.

TWEAKS IN THE CONTEXT FIELD

Major memes sometimes become cornerstones for conceptual edifices and anchors to all attempting thinking in those domains.  Often one is unable to imagine those domains without those archetypical  concepts.  Many such memes have existed in the history of science, eventually to be shown useless and abandoned. Here I will by analog associate three of these physics memes with three memes of contemporary economics.  Money and the Aether; Material Wealth with Phrenology, and Power/Force with Phlogiston.  {True, phrenology is not a meme from physics, but implies significance for physical structure.}

MONEY AND THE AETHER

The Luminiferous Aether 

  •             “In the 19th century, luminiferous aether was a theorized medium for the propagation of light (electromagnetic radiation). However, a series of increasingly complex experiments had been carried out in the late 1800s in an attempt to detect the motion of earth through the aether, and had failed to do so. A range of proposed aether-dragging theories could explain the null result but these were more complex, and tended to use arbitrary-looking coefficients and physical assumptions. Joseph Larmor discussed the aether in terms of a moving magnetic field caused by the acceleration of electrons.  Lorentz and FitzGerald offered within the framework of Lorentz ether theory a more elegant solution to how the motion of an absolute aether could be undetectable (length contraction), but if their equations were correct, Albert Einstein’s 1905 special theory of relativity could generate the same mathematics without referring to an aether at all. This led most physicists to conclude that this early modern notion of a luminiferous aether was not a useful concept.”
  •             That things could propagate without a medium was actually easy to give up when, for physicists, it was quickly recognized as no longer necessary.  However, giving up a medium for economic and financial transactions has not been so easy as no one can easily imagine how to do it without money.

I gained my history of money from discussions with Thomas Greco  and reading his books.   But the details are not relevant here.  Although money has moved from explicit material (gold) to digital bits in computer memories and transfers, both are material.  There is no question that money, in its many forms, was both very useful and quite destructive to human systems. I won’t attempt to speculate on alternative human histories with alternative scenarios about money, or how our current Crisis-of-Crises might be quite different had we different monetary systems.

My reservations about monetary systems relates to an aspect that is very seldom mentioned, and which I had myself forgotten until starting to write this essay. It carries me back to the summer of 1967 when I attended a 6-week seminar/course at Stanford on hot topics in the Philosophy of Science. Students were PhDs and the “faculty” were a mix of Nobel Prize winners or equivalents. Little did I know what I was getting into.  Here I relate to a Nobel winning “economist” Kenneth Arrow   . I just Googled Arrow and discover he still lives at age 92. I was probably his Impossibilty Theorem  that impacted me (although I had forgotten it completely).  I see that Arrow’s Theorem relates to the paradoxical complexity of decision making in political/economic situations.  Without going into an exploration of his Theorem, I speculate that his paradox has never been resolved and that political/economic decision-making continues today based on quicksand.

TYRANNY OF ONE DIMENSIONAL VALUE

What bothers me, then and now, it that economics assumes that VALUE can be projected on a single, common, quantitative number-line, MONEY. From here on you must view VALUE as independent of any assignment of monetary value.  A crude comparison of value would be: simply given the choice  A or B; your choice indicates which you value most at the time.  How much you value is NOT of concern, at this time.
What is difficult for many to comprehend is that: although there may be a clear process to map value onto a moneyline, this doesn’t imply any essential significance to the analogy between of the value relationships and the quantitative money relationships.

  • Let me cite another mathematical/statistical mistake made everywhere, to illustrate how practice doesn’t imply meaning.  There are different number series. The integers is one series. Then there is the number line with all fractions between the integers – which appears continuous.  But, there are an infinite “invisible” gaps, the irrational numbers – which together with the integers and fractions (rationals) comprise the real numbers.  There are operations you can do with one number series you can’t do with others.
    • Taking statistical averages is a common practice, yet most of the time the results are mathematically invalid.  This implies that the ranking of students on tests where their total score is the average of other scores it invalid. The VALUE of learning from one question or one test to another MUST be proven equivalent before an average is valid.  The numbers must be form a RATIO SCALE before averages mean anything.
    •                         That is, it must be “proven” that “what was learned” in making a grade difference between 75 and 80 was the same amount of “what was learned” between grades 90 and 95, or between  31 and 36.  A student’s ability to answer one question of ten may demonstrate very high quality learning beyond what might have been demonstrated had s/he answered the other nine questions correctly.
    •                     Fortunately, this invalid practice doesn’t bring down the whole educational establishment, but it sure distorts its results.  And this fallacy is practices for almost all the data we are given in our socio/economic/political infospace.  Consider polls.
    • The fallacy of using money to measure value is even more troublesome.

How does one rank the 1) value of an old work truck to a poor farmer that cost him $X ten years ago and 2) the value of a new sports car used as a show luxury item to the cost of $Y ?  Does the “position” their “exchange” in some “market” have any REAL relationship to their respective VALUES to their owners?  Yet, it is dogmatically automatic for most humans to attribute meaning beyond the arbitrary to monetary value.
I would really like to know what those “economists” or others concerned with economic systems think about these issues – if they are even aware of them. IHMO the whole edifice of monetary economics is a master con game, with the winning players believing as well as the dupes. Very good people devote their lives trying to make things better for people by trying to change or reform this system – but never consider that the system is fundamentally is flawed.

TRANSITIVE MONEY AND NON-TRANSITIVE VALUE

  • The only concept I explicitly carried from Arrow at Standford was: VALUE IS NOT TRANSITIVE.
    •  Transitivity is a logical relation.  If I value A over B, and B over C, I would automatically value A over C — IF  the relationships are transitive.  Many relationships are not transitive.   Many things valued in economic discourse are not transitive; but monetary value is always transitive.
    • VALUE is also relative to situation.  Today I value A over B, tomorrow I may value B over A.  C+D may be valued more than C+E, but E may be valued more than D.
    • To blithely use a system filled with non transitive relations as if all was transitive is highly suspicious. No wonder nothing every feels right about economic transactions; yet we don’t question the logic.  Maybe we should.

THE ONE DIMENSIONAL FALLACY

  •             I don’t know when I discovered this “truth”, or what triggered it, or who I got it from.  Things can be RANKED only one dimension at at time.  All supposed ranking of multi-dimensional things is a con, a trick.  Yet it is done HOURLY!   Who won the debates? is my exemplar.  Watch the pundits make fools of themselves, but no one notices.
  •             This exemplar I gave to my students:  Everyone line up according to height.  Easy to determine.  Everyone line up according to weight.  At bit more difficult, needs measurements.  Plot height vs weight.   WHO IS BIGGER, the tall, thin kid or the short, fat kid?  Draw a curve through the points, defining ‘bigger” and project all data points onto the curve (by what rule?).
  •             IQ scores are invalid. Why is each sub-test treated mathematically scaled equal? The decision is totally arbitrary.
  •             Ranking of multi-dimensional things requires “weighing” the RELATIVE VALUE of each dimension – for which there can never be an absolute rule.
  •             RANKING  (other than one dimension at a time) should be a forbidden practice in a healthy human system.

The Aether was a crutch to material biased  human science, and they devoted lifetimes exploring how a “non-material substance” could serve as a medium for all that they observed.  It was quite a shock to discover that the phenomena didn’t require a medium.  Relationships between data was sufficient, the mental crutch was no longer needed – and quickly abandoned once they learned to function without the meme of the material medium.  Money and monetary systems is an analogous crutch.  It was useful in our emergent infancy. Is it time to abandon that dependency.

  • There was a phase in my own life, high school probably, where I devoted weeks trying to create a model for the aether – a matrix of electrically charged entities. I had been reading Eddington about this phase and had not yet learned of Relativity.  This has been my practice at times, playing out the historical scenario and feeling what it meant to those assuming the dominant memes.

There are probably domains of value where monetary systems are applicable. What is dangerous to humankind is the assumption that a one dimensional monetary system is necessary – indeed, it may be one of our most dangerous assumptions.

THE PHRENOLOGY OF MATERIAL WEALTH

Phrenology

  •             “Phrenology (from Greek: , phre-n, “mind”; and  logos, “knowledge”) is a pseudoscience primarily focused on measurements of the human skull, based on the concept that the brain is the organ of the mind, and that certain brain areas have localized, specific functions or modules. The distinguishing feature of phrenology is the idea that the sizes of brain areas were meaningful and could be inferred by examining the skull of an individual. Following the materialist notions of mental functions originating in the brain, phrenologists believed that human conduct could best be understood in neurological rather than philosophical or religious terms. Developed by German physician Franz Joseph Gall in 1796, the discipline was very popular in the 19th century, especially from about 1810 until 1840. The principal British centre for phrenology was Edinburgh, where the Edinburgh Phrenological Society was established in 1820. In 1843, Magendie referred to phrenology as “a pseudo-science of the present day.”
  •             Phrenological thinking was, however, influential in 19th-century psychiatry and modern neuroscience. Gall’s assumption that character, thoughts, and emotions are located in localized parts of the brain is considered an important historical advance toward neuropsychology.
  •         Square footage of your home, number of baths, bedrooms, pools, cars in garage. Measure of value.  Satellite Google maps of mansions and hovels. Bumps on the planet. What underlying these bumps tell of hidden powers and processes (economic, political, educational, class, religion, language, race, etc.)?  Cause or effect?
  •         How to we learn to relate the superficial and the essential?
  •         The aesthetic beauty of the artistic creativity of the peoples of civilizations cannot be denied. What does it mean? What is the price of the explosion of human created beauty in the shops of Earth, virtual museums? What to think about the mass reproduction of quality design?
  •         What criteria might designate persons for selection to survive after total collapse?  (This is an exercise for contemplation, not for doing.)
  •         What is VALUE and how is it evidenced?  How does one rate “purity in spiritual life” with lack of concern about Climate Change?
  •         The lesson to science from phrenology must be carefully studied.  Localization of bumps simply shifted  to localizations within the brain and the necessity of reading from surface realities to inner realities.  We need to learn to better infer from surface to inner, and back.
  •         Our lesson:  material wealth may be no evidence of superior knowledge, insight, humanity, creativity, etc.

    POWER/FORCE AND PHLOGISTON

        Phlogiston 

  •             The phlogiston theory (from the Ancient Greek – phlogistón “burning up”, from – phlóx “flame”), first stated in 1667 by Johann Joachim Becher, is an obsolete scientific theory that postulated the existence of a fire-like element called “phlogiston”, which was contained within combustible bodies and released during combustion. The theory was an attempt to explain processes of burning such as combustion and the rusting of metals, which are now collectively known as oxidation.
  •             The phlogiston meme still exists in our concept of “energy” as a non-material substance that flows and changes form yet conserves quantity. The CONSERVATION OF ENERGY is not an empirical law of physics; it is a fundamental principle. If seemingly violated, it is never questioned; but a search for new types of energy is launched and the balance soon returned.  Practicing physicists work with LAWS OF INVARIANCE instead of LAWS OF CONSERVATION.  Energy is a mathematical function relating measurable properties of a system – that under certain conditions – will have the value of that function remain unchanged (invariant) while the individual values of the separate properties change.
  •             When two physical systems interact the measurable values of their properties change – in ways such that mathematical functions (energy, momentum, mass) change in rule-governed (“lawful”) ways.  SUBSTANCE has been squeezed out of the practices of physics, although it remains very strong in scientific metaphor as well as everyday metaphor. What this means for our understanding of reality and human systems remains a challenge.

 What gives some individuals their their “right” to attempt ruling others, even exterminating others and destroying environments – even risking the extinction of humankind and aborting the birth of Humanity?  They believe they POSSESS SOMETHING that makes them superior and more significant.  Where did they get it? Did they do anything to get it – and what must they do to keep this SOMETHING?

  •         This is a SUBSTANCE that privileges persons to seek power and use force.  It is not an attribute of network relationship, although it may come from inheritance. Vital fluids (Doctor Strangelove). Motivation, drive, energy, ambition, passion, obsession — traits imagined as “substances possessed”.  This substance metaphor is strong in religions, as well as in more transcendent spiritual and metaphysical beliefs.
  •         Is ego a substance or a condition? Can we conceptualize ourselves without the substance meme?  Do we need to?  Has SCIENCE somehow lost itself by abandoning the substance meme, or is it a step forward to a kind of maturity?
  •         What would person’s attitude towards power and force be if they lacked the substance meme? Would they lose what they attribute to those substances, and what might that be?  How can we use the analogy between CONSERVATION  and INVARIANCE  to better understand this challenge?

WHAT NEXT?

  •     Whenever you hear pundits claiming that   IT IS THE ECONOMY, STUPID  – or that it is JOBS JOBS JOBS, peek under the rug.
  •     How can one (we) move beyond better conceptualizing this message to integrating it into our being, becoming, and actions?
  •     A first step would be to cease playing reform games with systems that are so deeply flawed; and experimenting with integrating the liberated concepts into our everyday practices and in our future designs and plans.
  •     What might happen if significant human populations were to awaken to this new reality?
  •     View this essay as resulting from a conceptual scheme in the mind/brain of Larry and a theme in his inner world, “nuet”.  What is the nature of a process comprehending a conceptual scheme resulting from studying this essay? How might we know the degree of congruence between Larry’s and your comprehension? What might be done to improve that congruence?

 

Author: nuet

01/24/1935. BS-physics RPI 1956; MS-physics UofChicago 1958; PhD-physics Yale 1965; PhD-Edu Psy Uof MInnesota 1970. Auroral Research Byrd Station, Antarctica 11/1960-02/1962. MINNEMAST curriculum dev 1964-68. Woodstock. faculty Pima Community College, Tucson 1974-1997. Transdisciplinary scientist, philosopher, educator, futurist, activist. PC user since 1982. "Wife". daughter, 2 grandsons. 5 dogs & 7 cats. Lacks mental imagery in all sensory domains.

1 comments
nuet
nuet

How do I, a novice in Economics, have the audacity to make such bold statements about that well traveled discipline?  Because my critique is not about the inner workings of the discipline, but how it might fit with other disciplines. Who has the authority to make such holistic critiques? Who has the authority to question the fundamental assumptions of disciplines?  According to the disciplines, only those within thse disciplines.

 

Some of our difficulty arises from the concept DISCIPLE.  Foucault's DISCIPLINE AND PUNISH changed my use of the term permanently.   Persons can play the game in "disciplines" only if they have been indoctrinated through their education in the field to be "disciplined". Disciplines are mini Towers of Babel.

 

Is it possible for persons to work effectively within the context of a discipline and also be open to critique and modify the discipline?  It happens, but is it at its best?