DANGERS OF ECONO-CENTRISM

The primary danger of an econo-centric society is that it projects the actions of every entity (person to corporation) onto the flat plane of money & finance. All the wonderful complexity and beauty is wiped out, to enable efficiency for accountants. It also enables elites to control. Persons no longer think or act in terms of contributions to themselves, others, or to their social groups; they think and act only to increase their monetary value.

  •     Kenneth Arrow, in a unique 6-week seminar I attended at Stanford in 1967, pointed our that real value is not transitive. You may prefer A over B, and B over C, but not necessarily prefer A over C. Monetized value is transitive. This seriously warps the landscape of real value.
  •     Monetization of multidimensional entities, projected on a one dimensional scale, is frequently commented on as an “over simplification of economics”, as if it still had some utility (by applying theory to make it practical). Actually modern monetization is a deliberate distortion of the scientific reality of exchanges enabling an elite to rule of the masses. This is “utility”, for the elite.
  •     The financial sector of societies is an well organized, criminal enterprise. It even exploits business persons and many corporations. Since finance is an abstract, symbolic system, it doesn’t require much energy to replace it. However, as it has its roots everywhere, its service functions need to be replaced before it is shut down. The political power of finance makes its replacement complex, but not impossible. We must distinguish between the many persons whose lives are dependent on being “workers” in the finance sector (including many managers and some CEOs) and the societal system within which they are only components.

This makes  them  subject  to easy cons to spend their hard earned income on purchases designed to maximize the financial gain of others while filling their propagandized imaginary desires.  Today “investment” is simplistically locked into the financial world and few propose ventures that will increase real value. This is a criticism beyond Capitalism, but to all econo-centric models of society; socialism and communism as well as capitalism.

For decades I have attempted to challenge this critical and high level assumption almost all humans assume (including revolutionaries): that “economics in practice” is THE dominant societal subsystem, an OBJECTIVE FACT. Econo-centrism is the context supporting the market meme.

  •     I never comprehended how economics was considered a “science”; as “economics in practice” simply DEFINED its system-for-study as a system of exchanges artificially selected, intentionally excluding major components and subsystems. I called this a truncated natural system. For example, the labor of wives and mothers are excluded from the formal economy. This act immediately invalidates any authority of “economics in practice” as an “applied science”.  However, there is a “science of exchanges”; but I would be hard pressed to call it “economics”.
  •     To me, it is a feat of masking cognitive dissonance and reality denial for those “scientists of exchange phenomena” to tolerate being on the same planet as practitioners of real-world, so-called, “economics in practice” (actually a technology selectively picking from the “science of exchanges”).

A sustainable society needs a viable economic subsystem. However, it is not obvious that attempts to transform the economic systems in our contemporary societal dysfunction or to attempt to create a new society based on a new economic system are our only options. Yet, the ideology of econo-centrism demands it.

An alternative focus for change is OLLO (Organizing-for-Learning=&=Learning-for-Organizing) where we gain the requisite competencies to seaf needed change. The requisite economic system will follow. OLLO is necessary for a critical organized/learned population to reesee attend to the real magnitude/scope/complexity of our challenges.

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.

2 comments
happyseaurchin
happyseaurchin

Agreed with description of current bias. Last decade I worked on an emergent solution, locally with kids in my classes and family and friends. Though amazing results emerged with kids, the adults fared worse. I have subsequently applied myself to the underlying parameters of the adult game, namely economics. I believe I have come across a useful algorithm to encourage emergence, buy the math is too abstract for most palates and have met with little enthusiasm. So, I am developing a tool which can be used, a suite of apps.

nuet
nuet

@happyseaurchin David, I think econocentrism may be more than a "bias".  It is a frozen context/perspective reinforced by many paradigms (in Kuhn's original sense of practice dogma). Many are highly critical of our current economic systems and propose alternatives, some which attempt to bring in domains previously ignored. But, when their proposed actions are examined, they are back with economic reforms.  OTOH, one tactic is to start with the games familiar to others and nudge them to eventually reject those games (as realities, they can still be used as tools).


To uplift, we must work with all ages. We can't fully uplift children unless adults are concurrently uplifting themselves. However, persons in an OLLO system must all be learner/educator.  If you haven't yet seen my 1996 paper on Learners for Quality Education:  https://docs.google.com/document/d/1sob5O9d1aCA_8UrYfM_rnCG_JWoZuQq19GCRQg_BNvM/edit


Exchange (purchases, and even messages and energy flows) is not the only process - yet many claim it so. Behind the coder and decoder are systems with nonlinear complexity. They "interpret" what is decoded and "create" what is to be coded. We cannot assume that the symbols circulate in our mind/brains. Utterances may be emitted from a deeper process. In analogy, electrons can be emitted from atomic nucli, but they aren't components of the nucli. I have adopted Maturana's term "languaging" to label the processes preceding coding and following decoding.  Quality exchange subsystems are essential, but as only one of many subsystems.  Even the frame "systems" has its limitations.


OLLO, or "education" is a domain interdependent with exchange, but not a consequence. I see that you are an educator. I am also.  I have engaged students at all levels from pre-school to graduate school. In the late 1960s I worked at the University of Minnesota at the MINNEMAST program - a multi-million$ NSF funded program to create an integrated math and science curriculum/teacher-prep system K-6.  It was defunded when the USA got to the moon!  Although I am no longer up on developments, nothing I have seen comes near what we were doing. We were strong with "systems" from day one.  We treated arithmetic as applied algebra (starting in K) and delayed large number computations. We field tested in 17 whole school districts across the USA.  I taught physics with calculus to 10th graders, where they learned to read math expressions but not yet able to transform math expressions - it worked.

At Pima College (where I taught for 23 years - too long) I created and ran a "math" course "History & Philosophy of Math" [cover for the real course: Learning-to-Learn & Love Math]. I had a mix of math phobes and math teachers. MATH = a family of very concrete languages useful for abstract discourse. The symbols are concrete things to be manipulated. Expressions of symbols are transformed by explicit rules. Perceive the pattern - explore and study its form. The math phobes got it, the math teachers not so well. After three semesters the college's math department blocked my offering the course. Computation is not the primary utility of math. Algebra is the language of systems and calculus the language of change.


I see from your Google+ that you are familiar with John Taylor Gatto. I wish I had time to explore your interests with you. I take his critique further.  I have come to conclude that a defining characteristic of the civilization mode for organizing large populations is the intentional suppression of actualization of the potential distributed phenotypes from our evolved distributed genotypes. No other species does this.  Both our near-term survival and future emergent thrival demands we go beyond "civilization"; my UPLIFT strategy is a proposed route to both goals.


Typically, I went well beyond a response to your comment.