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October 28, 2022 at 9:08 pm in reply to: The English Vocabulary and the Future of Capitalism #248488
I am a little late to this discussion. I’ll attempt to make points on two fronts.
1. Are there kinds of language other than those of the Biblical jargon – Economic Jargon dyad which could be compared and contrasted in this manner: still as dyads with Economic Jargon as the common element? I would suggest, for example, scientific jargon, scientific-humanist jargon, agnostic-atheist jargon, consequentialist ethics jargon, materialist jargon, philosophical idealist jargon, philosophical dualist jargon, historical or priority monist jargon. That’s a long list of off-the-top-of-the-head suggestions considering the work that would be involved. Could any of these categories be validly defined and then graphed against Economic Jargon?
2. Also, a point of Ulf Martin’s is very important I think.
QUOTE – “Now, those who have followed the discussions around the fake “pandemic” will know that there is the conférencier of Davos, Klaus Schwab, who in numerous books postulates such a transition under the term “Great Reset”. The language of this comes with a lot of millenniaristic “the end of the world is nigh if we do not…” language (climate, overpopulation, epidemics, etc.).” Ulf Martin
Millenniaristic language is very important too and related to political economy and growth it comes in five different flavours I would say and one negative or “anti” flavour. Placing the negative or anti-flavour first;
(1) The end of the world, as end of the relatively benign and conducive Holocene biosphere and climate, will never come. Human activity cannot damage the systems involved enough to change anything. Corollary: endless growth is possible.
(2) The end of the world (as defined above) will be averted by intensifying capitalism.
(3) The end of the world (as defined above) will be averted by use of technology (irrespective of ideology).
(4) The end of the world (as defined above) will be averted by abolishing capitalism and implementing (choose one) socialism, anarchism, ecosocialism, dark-green de-growth / de-population etc. etc.
I leave out the completely fatalistic “the end of the world will not / cannot be avoided”. If that’s the case, talk about it is pointless. There is no alternative and we might just as well “got to the beach” as John Ralston Saul sarcastically suggests in relation to all TINA philosophising. The listed possibilities above perhaps give more suggestions for graphing on the ideological index, again with the caveats that valid definitions / categories are needed and that any such further work would not be too tedious and unfruitful.
Personally, what I think should not be doubted is that the end of the world as we know it (a late stage capitalist system which has nearly completely co-opted all important parts of the world system into it except perhaps China) is quite imminent in historical terms. The current system cannot continue for more than three decades from 2020 (less than two generations) and may collapse sooner, much sooner. The science, especially climate science, earth system science and ecological science demonstrate this ineluctably. The current human system, carried forward in the current fashion, is completely unsustainable.
- This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by Rowan Pryor.
“… treading along unfamiliar paths, (one) is extremely dependent on criticism and conversation if he is to avoid an undue proportion of mistakes. It is astonishing what foolish things one can temporarily believe if one thinks too long alone, particularly in economics (along with the other moral sciences), where it is often impossible to bring one’s ideas to a conclusive test either formal or experimental.” – John Maynard Keynes.
* * *
As a more general comment on this thread, a mistake I have made, and many others have made it over the years, is to expect a grand unified theory or a theory of everything for economics or political economy: “a hypothetical, singular, all-encompassing, coherent theoretical framework … that fully explains and links together all aspects of…” the political economy. Of course, we haven’t even got a GUT or TOE for physics, let alone for anything else. Many classical and neoclassical economists seemed to be operating in a framework where they expected and sought a GUT or TOE. They were seeking “Laws” (fundamental laws), as in the “laws of motion” and “general laws” of capitalism (Marx) or a “general theory”, albeit nominally limited to employment, interest and money (Keynes).
A comment of Jonathan’s keyed me into the above thought.
“CasP argues that the trajectory of capitalist societies reflects the capitalist creordering of power against opposition. The capitalist attempt to creorder society, being subjugated to the ritual of differential capitalization, is relatively simple to articulate and often possible to predict. Resistance to this creordering, however, can be open-ended, which makes it difficult to map and anticipate. One way or the other, the resulting clash between these two moments is complex and non-linear, which means that we can only say so much about its immediate results and even less about its future outcomes.” – Jonathan Nitzan.
CasP, as I see it now, limits its model. It is not trying to explain everything or predict everything, as per J.N.’s statement above. Thus, it is fully consistent that it limits its definition of capital; especially given the empirical truth warrant that fixed capital and financial capital are ontologically separate in at least one important sense. Fixed capital is material, with its quantities and processes anchored to the fundamental laws of nature which hard sciences investigation has uncovered to date. Financial capital is notional, with its quantities unanchored to the fundamental laws of nature as defined above, except that the calculations and operations of finance are anchored to physical reality in terms of the time, material and energy commitments required to generate, process, code, decode, transmit and receive information. Information is materially real but in the sense that it exists as patterns in media and specifically, for our purposes here, as patterns which influence the generation of other patterns (via agent actions).
Information is powerful when it encodes the formation of other real patterns (by processes of decoding and then fabrication according to the information). We only have to look at human DNA and then consider what it encodes, what can be built from its codes. The DNA is an instruction set. Likewise (and it’s a rough analogy at this point, at least on my part), the axioms of capitalism are a meta-instruction set (instructions on how to make instructions and what instructions to make). The fundamental axiom set, in modern neoliberal terms, is propertarianism and all that that entails. Specific instruction sets and rules (rules are instructions) are developed out of that theory. The current “rituals of capitalization” as identified by CasP and the current construction of finance (in all its forms) can be seen as the DNA of capitalism in this rough analogy. Putting together what I have read from Bichler, Nitzan, Martin, Fix and Cherizola, I am tempted to say money is the enzyme or catalyst in this system.
Now, if any of these “insights” above have any validity or applicability at all then they are wholly derivative from the CasP project and its authors. There are not any fundamental insights I can lay claim to. They are the way I try to understand CasP. It seems to me that the CasP approach is valid and expressly limited as per Jonathan’s quoted statement above. It’s not an attempt at a grand unified theory or a theory of everything which would be entirely wrong-headed. That would be an exercise in “essentialism”; believing that the model could contain and explain both the essence and expression of the full set of real and formal systems involved. That would be an exercise in ignoring the fact that all models are necessarily incomplete. (I’d been hoping my post on “Essentialism and Models” which harks back to and takes a little inspiration from “Essentialism and Traditionalism in Academic Research” (Ryan Kyger and Blair Fix) would generate a little more comment.)
The value of a limited model (the only kind we humans can make) is that, if it’s scientific, its predictions can be tested. I could write more, maybe about the idea of the collision of human rule sets with material reality, but I always write too much so will I stop here.
- This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by Rowan Pryor.
Thanks, I’ll take that on board.
I agree that neoclassical descriptive theory is ‘deterministic’ only on paper. I assume by ‘deterministic’ we mean that at least some causes can be known and that that knowledge can be used to predict some outcomes and even manipulated to cause some effects. The thing about neoclassical (and neoliberal) political economy is that it is a prescriptive system not a descriptive system (except secondarily as describing the outcomes of the prescriptions). A prescription cannot be operationalized without power, persuasion or allure.
I see a prescriptive system as an instruction set. I see humans (at one level) as coming with hardware and firmware (or wetware is a term also used). I also see them as both programmable and autonomous. The former term is easy to define, the latter term is very difficult to define, at least if one tries to define the source or origin of autonomy or posited autonomy, for example as “free will”.
Your statements resonate with me, particularly;
“The capitalist attempt to creorder society, being subjugated to the ritual of differential capitalization, is relatively simple to articulate and often possible to predict. Resistance to this creordering, however, can be open-ended, which makes it difficult to map and anticipate.” – J.N.
The ritual of differential capitalization is an instruction set. In the final analysis, it instructs people how to act. Indeed, it programs them how to act. This is just as learning about and from language, math, rituals, mores, money and markets, instructs us how to act. The instructions are operationalized as I identify it by power, persuasion or allure or perhaps simply by punishment and reward. We are enculturated and inculcated into this system, or some other system, from birth. This is as true for hunter gatherers, enculturated and inculcated into their system (the Dreamtime for example) as it is for modern humans under a capitalist political economy.
The resistance to the capitalist creordering is the interesting thing, to me and no doubt to many others. It is clearly now a matter of life, morbidity and death for most humans. I refer of course to at least climate change, mass extinctions and the “pandemicene”. The “pandemicene” is a currently emerging crisis of capitalism and still much underestimated, in my opinion. I won’t say much here except to assert we are already engaged in a “red queen evolution” struggle with SARS2 and all the other potential pandemic diseases, existent and emerging, which will opportunistically exploit the infection pathways (physiological and socioeconomic)  opened up by SARS2 due to its unique combination of characteristics.
“The reason why neoclassicism reigns and CasP ignored has to do with the monopoly economists hold over all things economic, not the simplicity of their arguments.” That’s a very valid point, though simplisms are pushed at the public discourse level. “Supply and demand” is repeated often by people who are aware of none of the complexities of the advanced theory. “Balance the budget” is another one. The slogans function to stop thinking. They mean “this is the way it is, was and always shall be”. The advanced theory exists to give economists careers, to build up the theology and priesthood of academic and business economics and to provide ever more advanced and complex sophistries which brainwash people and require years of unpicking to debunk and refute. Complex fallacious theories trap the intelligent, not the dull. But all of us can believe six mutually impossible things before breakfast, to slightly misquote Lewis Carroll.
I’m still trapped by aspects of Marxism, I am sure, and that’s from simply reading Marx for myself. For idiosyncratic reasons, I’ve gone back to what I call “empirical ontology” and have been looking at a (no doubt entirely Quixotic) theory of unifying real system and formal system ontology. I find it interesting that I can only understand some of your (and CasP’s) statements through the framework I am creating. This tells me that;
(a) I lack the science and philosophy of science underpinning which you have; and
(b) I am trying to reverse-engineer this underpinning (from the collision with political economy of all forms including CasP and collisions with other thought systems and enterprises as well).
This is the reason I wonder if there are some key texts you could name as central in building your understanding to the point that CasP became conceivable, derivable to yourself and Shimshon Bichler? In philosophy, I’m stuck (very much autodidactically) at the level of British Empiricism and American Pragmatism. Science I have followed overall, as a layperson again, but not modern philosophy of science.
Note 1. The evolving characteristics of SARS2 have made it necessary for neoliberal capitalism to downplay (deny, minimise, obfuscate) empirical truths about the pathogen, the disease it causes and its characteristics: and thence to further normalise social Darwinism, ableism, “social murder” (in Engel’s sense) and Veblenian sabotage of the population’s health to permit the circuits of capital, the rituals of capital, to proceed in the prescribed manner. This takes the broad form of downplaying the importance of airborne contagion and pathogen-induced decompensation and degeneration of the human immune system, not just from SARS2, but from all or most other airborne, or potentially air-borne, high-consequence pathogens.
I find this an interesting exchange.
“… a notion of capital as capitalization & capitalization the product of a power relations makes it by definition nondeterministic & contingent, I think, in ways old capital theories wouldn’t have been. Which is to B&N’s credit, but to the detriment of “capital theory” as a project.” – JMC.
It’s interesting to consider what JMC means by “nondeterministic and contingent” in this context. The “idea I get”, to use JMC’s later and very apposite phrase for difficult theorising, is that;
(a) fixed capital operations (as classically theorised) are considered to be somewhat deterministically moving prices, profits, interest rates, etc., around, whether by direct ratios (like cogs with different numbers of teeth) or by fluctuation of pressures and flows (as in a complex hydro-dynamic model where the apertures of valves, frictions of pipes, elasticity of pipe walls etc are at least partly unknown and continuously fluctuating); but
(b) financial capital operations (in the CasP view) are undetermined by fixed capital operations but, rather, causation runs the other way.
That is the picture I get from JMC’s statements.
The picture I get from CasP and Jonathan’s statements here is (to cut it right down) that production from fixed capital determines supplies of goods and services but not prices. Markets and prices can be looked on wholly as a distribution mechanism. Prices, of ownership, labour and goods, determine distribution. Ownership extracts a price too in capitalism.
Something I bang on about is the idea of how do we analyse what happens in a full complex system, the political economy system, which is a hybrid of a set of real systems and a set of formal systems? We need an ontology and a method for unifying real systems and formal systems in a single model. This could be simplistically characterised as “What happens when a human rule meets a fundamental law?” or “What happens when axioms meet fundamental laws?” We need to see causation as flowing both ways in this hybrid system. Causation flows between real and formal systems by information (defined as patterns encoded in media and then in turn decoded, by human agents and now computer agents).
To my mind, neoclassical economics has not grappled properly with the plain fact that prices do not measure value but instantiate power. My feeling about CasP is that it remains on-track but an incomplete project. Either that or I don’t understand the completions it has arrived at. The theory is difficult. When empirically supported theory is complex and difficult the public prefer a simple lie. This is one reaosn why capitalism works so well. “Supply and demand” is repeated like a catechism: a self-evident truth to everyone. These are the conclusions political economy in practice forces on me. To take the contemporary example, it’s the case that evolution, virology, immunology and epidemiology are wickedly complex as we are finding out in this global pandemic. Then they become, in theory and praxis, distorted by the forcefield of capitalism. The capitalists prefer the exercise of capital as power to the pursuit of any empirical truths or consequentialist ethics, in these matters or in any others. The public prefer the simple lies they are being fed. This is because beginning to realise the complexity of real systems (let alone the complexity of our superstructures of formal systems) and to realise our lack of understanding of and control over these systems and even over our own actions is simply too frightening for most people. They prefer to remain cocooned in the lies of the system.
- This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by Rowan Pryor.
Thanks, I think your comments are related for sure. The clear agreement is that all models are necessarily incomplete. Paul Cilliers (whom I have not read, I admit) develops his position empirically. He observes that “the very act of modelling or framing, necessarily excludes some information from consideration, and thus renders the models inaccurate (or incomplete)”. Knowing this from a set of observations enables him to set up his premise, by simple philosophical induction, that all of our models of complex systems must be incomplete.
I’ve had the same experience(s) in virtual modelling in computer games. I fan-modified existing games rather than creating new games. In trying to model real systems virtually (within a game engine cruder than a proper Newtonian physics engine) I rapidly became aware of modelling problems per se, especially the issues of scaling, where one finds physical re-scaling, in x,y and z axes, for realism simulation is trivial (in game design terms, not necessarily in coding or graphics terms) but that the time re-scaling of disparate processes for a combination of realism simulation and “playability” is very much a non-trivial exercise in game design terms. One rapidly becomes aware of how much one is abstracting and simplifying from reality to make the game code-able, processable and “playable” by humans for enjoyment. One also becomes aware that time is “different”. It can’t be proportionally scaled down from physical reality in the same way as can the space dimensions or the results look impossible or ludicrous: like a scaled down human figure scurrying like an ant and insta-stopping with minimal mass and momentum. A proper Newtonian physics engine requires you to plug in the mass. One also becomes aware that human minds actually require models (in games and in narratives) which contain “objects” recognizable as agents or actors and process-causing forces for these models to be recognizable, navigable, operable, understandable and emotionally compelling. That’s pretty much the most general theory of aesthetics for arts, entertainments and games, excluding the niche of abstract art. At least, I think so.
After such experiences, and having read Berkeley and Hume, I shifted my interest to ontology and to a theory of sensory models and ideational models as comprising the whole of the human epistemological “project” by comprising the whole of human qualia and ideation in relation to apprehended or posited objective reality. Making an assumption of monist materialism (as so-called priority or historical monism) it can be deduced that a cosmos exhibiting evolution and emergence has itself emerged human sensory and ideational systems, including human-made models, in the process of its own cosmos-entire emergent development. Simple enough. Hence, by definition humanly created models and formal systems are sub-systems of the larger cosmos system and so are necessarily incomplete. In this case, these deductions from a plausible premise, one with scientific truth warrants, accord with the inductions from empirical instances. It seems neat and elegant to me. “Too neat” may be the judgement of others.
One of the conclusions I reached in this chain of deductions is that formal systems are necessarily a special sub-set of real systems. This may sound nonsensical or paradoxical to some but I think it holds and I think I can demonstrate at a general level how it might hold. I am trying to pique interest here, obviously. I am well enough aware of the dangers of being a crank so I advance these rather odd ideas with some trepidation. Blair Fix has written a light-hearted essay on the topic of being a crank and it contains some excellent advice. I do reflect on it.October 15, 2022 at 4:46 pm in reply to: Jujutsu: can we lever the power of capital against itself? #248450
The power of capital is already being levered against itself, by itself. Who can doubt now that climate change, mass species extinctions and the “pandemicence” are real dangers to civilization and human existence? Capitalism is in the process of completely destroying itself and us with it. The question is if a movement or change can arise which can halt this before it becomes a runaway process. Will people realise what is destroying them or will they double-down on false narratives about what is happening? The false narratives are a product of capitalism too. Misinformation and disinformation sell. They are monetised and capitalised big time in the current system. Currently, the “false narratives mill” is winning easily. What I truly fear is this deep lack of understanding, among the general population, of the causes of our crises. As Francis Bacon wrote, “… where the cause is not known, the effect cannot be produced.” The corollary of that is, “where the causes of ills are not known, the effects cannot be avoided”.
We might normally expect the population to plumb a level of pain, loss and destruction where they would recognize the imperative to stop permitting and doing what is killing them and to start doing what may save them. But if they have no idea of fundamental causes at the political economy level and at the physical laws levels, then they will have no idea what changes are necessary. So as our crises worsen, I am of the opinion we can expect more and more foolish actions which will only exacerbate and accelerate the crises. Only when capitalism completely self-destructs will anything else become possible. That runs up against a key question. What will be left to rebuild anything on?
October 13, 2022 at 4:32 pm in reply to: Is Exchange Value Really Just Capitalized Use Value? #248445
- This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by Rowan Pryor.
I got off topic and I didn’t manage to circle back to your topic. Mea culpa. I am questioning empirical ontology (as it affects the hard and social sciences) at a more fundamental level, or so I think. I may be a “crank” in Blair Fix’s definition of the term as per his excellent and amusing article “How Do You Spot a Crank?”. What I need to do, if I want to pursue it, is post my simplest explication of my system of enquiry, in this forum. Whether it makes sense, to anyone, will be the issue. If people like Jonathan and Blair responded “you are completely off course”, I would certainly pay attention to that.October 12, 2022 at 6:13 pm in reply to: Is Exchange Value Really Just Capitalized Use Value? #248442
I am not sure if I am adding anything to this discussion. However, I think we should be clear on definitions. The first steps in any academic argument must be to agree on (a) a priori assumptions and (b) definitions of terms. Leaving aside a priori assumptions for the moment (for we can’t even expose and examine a priori assumptions without agreed terms) , what are our definitions of capitalism, capital and capitalization?
Is the Wikipedia definition for Capitalism serviceable here? “Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit. Central characteristics of capitalism include capital accumulation, competitive markets, price system, private property, property rights recognition, voluntary exchange, and wage labor. In a market economy, decision-making and investments are determined by owners of wealth, property, or ability to manoeuvre capital or production ability in capital and financial markets—whereas prices and the distribution of goods and services are mainly determined by competition in goods and services markets.”
When we look at the Wikipedia definition in Wikipedia, we note that a whole list of terms in this definition have color-highlighted. underlined links. These further definitions are essential ingredients to understanding the “capitalism” definition. I’ve sometimes been faced by arguments that capitalism is non-existent, as a system, because it is not pure and not ubiquitous. The biggest plum pulled out of this magic pudding is the mixed economy argument. This argument is much like saying policing does not exist because it is not pure and not ubiquitous.
It is now commonly asserted that capitalism is a global system. I concur. This is despite the fact that it is not pure and not ubiquitous. Purity and ubiquity are not possible for any finite system in the cosmos or in the world. Any system is always embedded in something that is “all systems together” (the monistic totality) and we can always note combinations, conglomerates, agglomerates. The best analogy (and it is not just an analogy but a monistic homomorphic congruence) is a net. Capitalism extends its net, of connections, and (dynamically) nets the world. It hasn’t netted the whole world. Small stuff gets through. Big stuff breaks through, tears the net. But ever the net is expanded, repaired, meshed out autocatalytically, to use Ulf Martin’s applied term. Ultimately, large fundamental forces can (and will) “explode” the net or rapidly unravel the net but that is another topic. Looking back in time (which is more the issue here), we can nominate capitalism’s starting point, with an agreed comprehensive definition of capitalism.
Next we get to the definition of “capital”. Here, “CasP (Capital as Power) already has a problem with classical economics encompassing capitalist economics and Marxist economics.
Note 1 – And our agreed terms can already contain unexamined a priori assumptions. How do we deal with that? I would argue that we can only do that iteratively, after provisionally agreeing on terms, by then examining the set of currently agreed terms, currently agreed principles and currently agreed methods. Thence we find anomalies (internal inconsistencies) and lacunae and then resolve them if possible. We keep trying to iron out and mend our investigative system out until we agree we can find no more wrinkles and no more holes, for the present at least. Then we apply it to the real world for the necessary empirical testing.October 12, 2022 at 6:10 am in reply to: Is Exchange Value Really Just Capitalized Use Value? #248438
I’ve raised ideas which may or may not be useful in this discussion or even in CasP as a whole. But we have to be clear on definitions. In molecular biology, a clear distinction is made, as I understand it, between self-assembly and coded assembly. In self-assembly “no additional information” and thus no code is necessary to assemble a molecule, a conglomerate or an agglomerate of molecules : “the physical components will assemble spontaneously, primarily (drawn and) held together by electrostatic and hydrophobic forces”. Assembly, from the operations of and on RNA and DNA, is termed coded assembly. Extra information, extra code as templates, is required and used for this more complex coded assembly. So what your refer to is coded assembly not self-assembly as defined here. I think it’s helpful to keep definitions consistent across the hard sciences and social sciences.
It follows from this that self-assembly is quite distinct from self-replication as coded assembly. Where “autocatalysis” fits into this schema I am not entirely sure but I may be able to attempt an educated guess. I mention “autocatalysis” precisely because some CasP theory does. See “The Autocatalytic Sprawl of Pseudorational Mastery” by Ulf Martin. This paper also has sections on the development of money and banking IIRC but I am sure you have already read it. I refer to “autocatalysis” (and I refer to “power” too) because Ulf Martin follows a method of not just using physical science analogues for social science but of offering definitions which make the concept fully valid and operational in both contexts.
His definition of “power” illustrates this:
“Indeed, what is power? In the following, we try to develop a concept of power as the ability of persons to create particular formations against resistance.” This is a definition of power, referencing persons in this case, which one can see will be conformable to definitions of a person’s physical power or of his/her social power, capital power or even intellectual power, as examples.
Next, what is Martin’s definition of “autocatalytic”? He expressly offers:
“A single chemical reaction is said to be autocatalytic if one of the reaction products is also a catalyst for the same or a coupled reaction.’ (Wikipedia 2018). If we carry this definition over to the social symbolic machinery, we can say that credit creation is an autocatalytic process, a process that feeds itself.”
An even better definition may be (and I am no expert in chemistry):
“A single chemical reaction is said to be autocatalytic if one of the reaction products is also a catalyst or a reactant for the same or a coupled reaction.”
Martin goes on to write:
If we carry this definition over to the social symbolic machinery (of finance and capital) , we can say that credit creation is an autocatalytic process, a process that feeds itself.”
I am very keen on demonstrating that real system / formal system ontology can be unified and that the links so delineated are more than just analogies. Rather, I am trying to posit and demonstrate (if I ever can) that in a priority monist system as a fully interrelated complex system of systems (which I hold the universe or cosmos to be) that such links (between real and formal systems) are tightly homomorphic, not just analogous, and governed by the same basic principles in relation to matter, energy and especially information. A tall order I know. I will try to distil something and post on it, maybe for debate, to see if I can generate interest here.
But on topic, we must eventually talk about, I assert, self-replicating coded assembly incorporating autocatalysis (following Ulf Martin’s lead) at the formal systems level. Real systems and formal systems share matter, energy and information. Information is instantiated in media as patterns. Formal systems, at least successful and efficient formal systems, will demonstrate, I propose, a relatively high information content to matter / energy ratio. This will be a necessary but not sufficient condition for a successful, self-promulgating or self-replicating formal coded assembly system incorporating autocatalysis. In relation to “dupable” humans, information may also be misinformation and disinformation. It is only in relation to operations on real systems at fundamental physical law levels that misinformation and disinformation result in rapid, proximal failures, accidents and catastrophes. In relation to operations on and in formal systems, misinformation and disinformation, especially if expanding exponentially, appear at first indefinitely sustainable but lead in the end to delayed but exacerbated failures, accidents and catastrophes of vast scope.
Note 1: A conglomerate is a collection of related items. An agglomerate is a collection of unrelated items. The naming of a collection or grouping as a conglomerate or an agglomerate could actually depend on the observer’s category decisions as categories define or describe relations.
October 11, 2022 at 5:10 pm in reply to: Is Exchange Value Really Just Capitalized Use Value? #248425
- This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by Rowan Pryor.
I must learn to restrict future imputations of confusion solely to myself. I manage to be confused by six of my previous day’s declarative statements before breakfast. That’s my mea culpa. I still struggle with the multiple extant ways of looking at economics. Also, my knowledge of history is only barely passable from about 1700 on. It’s weak to non-existent from times before that, especially my economic history. I’d better let the CasP theorists speak for themselves in this arena.
In attempting to unravel what I think of economics and political economy, I am still stuck at a much more fundamental level: at the level of what I call “empirical ontology” or the “ontology of real systems and formal systems”. It seems to me we have to clearly delineate between real systems where Fundamental Laws of nature operate and human ideational systems where Rules operate, specifically where axiomatic rules and algorithms operate in what we can term coded and programmed fashions which then recruit humans to obedient and coordinated actions. The litanies, rules, observances and performative operations which CasP theorists talk about, come under this heading of coded and programmed operations (encoded and executed by humans).
I came across a very interesting passage recently in a paper on virology. (I am not a virologist but I read papers in it from time to time.) It referred to self-assembly and coded assembly. The natural world exhibits features of both self-assembly and coded assembly at the level of life. Let us assume here that life begins at viruses. At the non-life and/or inorganic level, the natural world exhibits only self-assembly (where it is not exhibiting the plain old general cosmic process to ever greater entropy). A good example of self-assembly is the formation of a crystal under natural conditions. The paper I refer to states:
“In the same way that a roll of magnets will spontaneously assemble together, capsid proteins also exhibit self-assembly. The first to show this were H. Fraenkel-Conrat and Robley Williams in 1955. They separated the RNA genome from the protein subunits of tobacco mosaic virus, and when they put them back together in a test tube, infectious virions formed automatically. This indicated that no additional information is necessary to assemble a virus: the physical components will assemble spontaneously, primarily held together by electrostatic and hydrophobic forces.”
People on this forum may well assume at this point I am down an esoteric rabbit hole unrelated to political economy. I don’t entirely think so but it’s a long discussion and I’ve never succeeded in making my case. Suffice it to say, the task in political economy is in my view to stop looking for natural laws in political economy (aside from the natural laws involving the exothermic, endothermic and self-assembly reactions which we utilise in the real economy for inorganic production and the biological laws of (RNA and DNA) coded assembly we utilise in organic production like food and fibre production). At all levels above this, political economy is about complex human behaviours and encoded laws (i.e. legal laws, regulations, conventions, rituals etc.). This is my view which is obviously partially derived from CasP insights.
Blair Fix, as illustrated in his article “Essentialism and Traditionalism in Academic Research”, is close to the mode of what I am endeavouring to look at or perhaps it’s better to say I am moving toward and influenced by the mode of scientific and philosophical analysis he demonstrates in such articles.
Getting back to talk about “value”, I think we have to be careful not to make the “mistake of metonymy”. The word “value” is vague and we use it at multiple levels with multiple meanings. Nietzsche came up with a very pithy aphorism implying the error of philosophising and reasoning with metonymies. I am still trying to find the quote again. In talking about “value” with various adjectives appended to it like “use value”, “exchange value”, “surplus value” etc. I think many can immediately make the mistake of considering these various values to be theoretically equatable and aggregateable in a common measure of value, the numeraire. I take this critique from CasP. We do performatively and algorithmically equate these values in quantities of the numeraire but this is a sort of transubstantiation trick. And again, Blair Fix has referred to the transubstantiation trick of finance ritual and market ritual where we all agree, or are forced to agree at the sword of penury and of social and career excommunication, that the transubstantiation is real.
As a footnote, people can refer to the book “On Kings” by David Graeber and Marshall Sahlins for the most florid example I think I have ever seen of doing philosophy by metonyomy. It’s ostensibly an anthropological text but I happen to think its elaborations and conclusions are pure philosophy by metonyomy. As an aside, I would be interested if anyone in the CasP group has read this monograph or any sections of it. I’d be interested in their opinions on it.October 9, 2022 at 10:34 pm in reply to: Is Exchange Value Really Just Capitalized Use Value? #248408
I would counsel throwing classical economics’ value theory and Marx’s value theory out the window. Just throw it all out the window and start thinking from scratch again. This equates to throwing Utils and SNALTs out the window. I simply refer people to Bichler and Nitzan’s theory on this, plus relevant papers by Blair Fix, Ulf Martin and Jesus Suaste Cherizola. One really has to go back and read them again if one still feels baffled. (And I do still feel baffled at times so I do refer back.) The numeraire is not an objective measure of any real value. Market prices are not real measures of value. It’s better to say prices are instantiated by capital as power and thus demonstrate the power to price and not anything beyond that. Honestly, mentally jettisoning classical economics baggage is akin to throwing out the theory of the four humors so that one can understand physiology and disease in the modern scientific way via the study of biochemistry, cellular biology, physiology, pathogens and genetics. In other words, one has to throw out a false ontology (false theory of basic existents relevant to the discipline) for a correct (in the homomorphic modelling sense) ontology of the basic relevant existents.
There is some (maybe a lot, I don’t know) of modern orthodox economics which does theory which does not measure things in the numeraire or in Utils or SNALTS. I refer here to the Rank-Dependent Model of Generalized Expected Utility Value. I have nothing but a thumb-nail sketch understanding of this theory so I can say very little about it. Suffice it to say here, this theory is about measuring “expected value” on an ordinal scale not on a cardinal scale. A cardinal measurement scale is a measurement scale whose levels of measurement are numeric, like all the prices in a market. An ordinal scale merely ranks preferences, via “expected utility value”. When expected utility value is actually expressed by a purchase, trade or acquisition it is called “a revealed preference”.
All I will say here is that there are parts of orthodox economics where such economists could sensibly correspond and conceivably share or debate ideas with CasP theorists. This is just as modern Marxists (notably the Monthly Review style Marxists who are the most sensible of the modern Marxists in my view) could “do comparative economics” with and share ideas with the CasP theoreticians. But in each case they (orthodox and Marxist) won’t do this. Why not? Honestly, I would nominate certain dogmas (each of those schools has dogmas they simply will not give up), a know-it-all attitude (their school knows everything fundamental already and cannot possibly learn anything new from anyone outside their own academy) and careerism. Careerism, getting published in respected journals etcetera, dominates their thinking. A lot of minds out there are closed or semi-closed, living in their own hermetically sealed intellectual kingdoms. It’s all about power; capital as power, money as power, prestige as power, comeliness as power etc. etc. It’s all about power. Those who care about truth and seek it for its own sake and for the common good are passing rare. And not pure either: nobody’s perfect. 🙂
- This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by Rowan Pryor.
After reading an overview of process philosophy, I’ve found it easier to simply refer to structures and processes in this kind of context.
“Creorder means a process of creating a new or amended structure or process.” But nobody likes a gratuitous editor and my own prose is very poor.
Even the most static-seeming objects and structures are still in process. If we accept that time “flows” , then time stops nowhere and in our (macro) physical world entropy, decay, decrease-in-order also cease nowhere, except locally as “growth” at the expense of greater entropy elsewhere.
Nicholas Rescher’s introductions to Process Philosophy are interesting. One definition of objects is that they are “constellations of processes”. Even a rock is not as static as it seems. One could say that what appears as an object or a process to an observer is relative to the “rate of observations” made by the observer. Time lapse photography shows this. However, I found Rescher’s complete lack of attention to systems philosophy left process philosophy floating. It seemed to fail to touch the physical world properly.
“… confusing time with the flow of time.
Time is just a coordinate like the spatial coordinates, that is we label spacetime points with four coordinates (t,x,y,z).
Indeed, in relativity (both flavours) the time and spatial coordinates get mixed up so different observers will disagree about what is time and what is space.
But the obvious thing about time is that to us humans it appears to flow. We can stand still in space, but we have to keep moving through time at one second per second. I would guess this is what we’re thinking of (if) we say that time is “the measurement of change”. The curious thing is that the flow of time doesn’t really exist in physics, and some (exactly how many I don’t know) physicists believe that the flow of time is a trick of human perception and that time doesn’t flow at all…
… even if we take the conventional view of the flow of time, motion does not stop at absolute zero. This is because quantum systems exhibit zero point energy, so their energy remains non-zero even when the temperature is absolute zero. For example helium remains fluid at absolute zero because its zero point energy is too great to allow it to crystallise. So there is no sense in which time stops as we lower the temperature to absolute zero.” – John Rennie, Physics Stack Exchange.September 11, 2022 at 8:26 pm in reply to: Confidence in Obedience, or Confidence in Liquidity? #248327
“Capitalists are not “rulers” in the traditional sense. They do not issue or enforce laws, they set prices and rely on the Market to intermediate everything, including their own power. ” – Scott Griffin.
This statement is qualified by the term “traditional” which isn’t defined but I assume it means state power (by monarch or parliament for example), though it could also mean outright violence which has been rather traditional too, for all of chieftains, monarchs and states. Modern dominant capitalists fund candidates, “capture” laws and regulations (regulatory capture) and lobby, all in manners not open to those who do not possess very large amounts of capital. Then when the laws are written as they require, they employ cadres of lawyers to fight their cases in courts where the judges are schmoozed, if not bought, and where the law they payed to game is brought to bear.
They also have a great deal of confidence that the laws used against poor and marginalised people will not be used against them, the rich people, and if by some extraordinary clumsiness on their own part, they do end up in court, they can lawyer-up and escape a negative judgement or pay their way out of trouble (most usually) whilst still retaining large parts of their fortunes.
“Confidence in Obedience”, “Confidence in Liquidity”, “Confidence in Impunity”? These are all the inscriptions of the faces of the many-sided die which they cast and which are numbered or labelled on almost all faces with good outcomes for them. One can play confidently with ostensibly unloaded die if the rules of the game grant you wins or at least impunity and significant residual wealth with every throw.September 6, 2022 at 5:30 pm in reply to: Jujutsu: can we lever the power of capital against itself? #248314
Quote: “use workers savings to build affordable housing and use those housing projects to provide for workers pensions.” – B&N.
I agree. It would be a Cooperative. These have been known by other titles over the years and still are today.
“A friendly society (sometimes called a benefit society, mutual aid society, benevolent society, fraternal organization or ROSCA) is a mutual association for the purposes of insurance, pensions, savings or cooperative banking. It is a mutual organization or benefit society composed of a body of people who join together for a common financial or social purpose. Before modern insurance and the welfare state, friendly societies provided financial and social services to individuals, often according to their religious, political, or trade affiliations. These societies are still widespread in many parts of the developing world, where they are referred to as ROSCAs (rotating savings and credit associations), ASCAs (accumulating savings and credit associations), burial societies, chit funds, etc.” – Wikipedia.
But let us remember, after a long intellectual detour we have circled back to basic practicalities. The workers must combine. In unions and cooperatives. If they don’t they are lost and the planet is lost. It’s as simple as that.