Thursday, May 7, 2015

Mind's Eye Re: Cops and robbers

We have almost become each other Francis - I used that poem in my doctorate and now find myself agreeing everything you say like the worst of disciples!  The rough beast is obvious - I was more impressed by the bit about the best lacking all conviction and who now had conviction.  The German public were voting for parties that would end democracy - Nazis and Communists - how often do we see that with Muslim Brotherhoods and the West's now de facto behind-the-scenes one-unelected-party state.  I went through a phase of trying to make leadership a key factor, but in the end I hate the concept for its lack of 'biology', real history and anthropology.  I always think of the septic tank theory of society with the really big chunks rising to the top..

Veblen was writing in the same times.  His hope was in technological progress matched to human needs and his rough beast the business-financial control system - I lump the latter as the 'allocation class'.  Soddy was doing economics too, saying we would be better off with a few good adding machines than the banksters.  There was much discussion of lytric systems - the word doesn't google now.  Today's talk is in Modern Monetary Theory and Positive Money and would have relevant application in such as Detroit, the Middle East and Bolton.  Jumping somewhat, Molly's local ideas have much merit until one thinks of the rough beast bogeyman of economics and their failure almost everywhere for 50 years.  Talk of economies coming back is rarely true - though I have made such claims in regional economic forums to get hands on what relief effort (EU grants mostly) was up for grabs.  Molly as Mary is a spokesperson for such an outfit.  I worked with people from Chicago more than 15 years ago doing much the same.

Positive Money could bring the rough beast of economic externality to heel in the local.  Such would be an attack on the allocation class through government by the people.  I pronounce this world revolution feeling too knackerd to put up a couple of replacement fence panels!  Old Boxer feels on his way to the glue factory.  The scheme sounds rather too like the Nazi effort for comfort, rather than Soviet Paradise, in economic-social terms.  The first thing one must accept is the current economic system cannot work for peaceful, stable, reasonably egalitarian outcomes.  The idea that it can is a myth, held by many, especially Americans, that we can fine tune the current system.

There are many voices on positive money, whether they refer to it or not directly.  Zerohedge has the libertarians, naked capitalism the MMT and the notion is implied in all social epistemology (Critical Theory etc) economic geography and the heterdox economists like Steve Keen.  Economists generally are a dire block to the discussion and I agree with fellow scientists that their departments should be closed.  I favour bringing a much wider form of project based money and learning into operation.  There are some small examples.

The big question is how to do anything under the gaze of the Establishment gun.  We are, of course, up to our arses in alligators and only now thinking of draining the swamp (and hopefully concerned to relocate the alligators).  If we were able to find a model that worked in practice, there is still a history in which we don't transfer it in order to maintain beggar they neighbour.  Afghanistan is a good example, though there are many.  Modernisation there has repeatedly been kiboshed by the West since the 1920's, even to power systems on the Hellmand river raising salt into the agricultural land leaving it fit for poppy growing.

My guess is the technical doing isn't that hard. 

On Thursday, May 7, 2015 at 2:13:57 PM UTC+1, frantheman wrote:
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;, 
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

Yeats' "Second Coming" is nearly 100 years old now, written in the immediate aftermath of WWI and in the middle of a six year convulsive period (1916-1922) which led to Irish independence. I've read somewhere that it's one of the most quoted poems in the English language - the "rough beast [...] slouching towards Bethlehem to be born" seems to ring all kinds of bells. Reading your latest post, Neil, brought the first verse immediately to my mind.

Even data has problems; what data do you collect (though this problem is solved if you collect everything about everything, which is now the normal digital standard, from Google to the NSA), more importantly, what criterea do you use to sort it - or, put more contemporarily, what algorithms do you use to mine it?

To quote another fellow Irishman, Oscar Wilde has a character in "Earnest" observe; "The truth is rarely pure and never simple." In our fractured post-modernist realities, truth has become irrelevant. You have your truth, I have mine, the Salafist living across the road from me has another, the neo-Nazi down the street yet another. In the social media the extremists from both sides shout without listening and any nuanced and more complex analysis is, at best, ignored, more frequently instrumentalised by the one or other extreme.

The recent British election campaign has shown that neither of the putative Prime Ministers wants to say anything real about any serious issue, for fear of alienating potential supporters. They've both been trying to learn from the doyenne of no-speak, Angela Merkel here in Germany, whose only principle is to say as little as possible while, at the same time, mastering the art of producing anodyne balm for the insecure, self-righteous petit bourgeois soul of the German majority.

The first season of The Wire (in my view one of the best series TV has ever produced) will be 13 years old next month. One of the frightening things about Baltimore is that the city and US society seem to have learned exactly nothing from David Simon's work. 

"Il faut cultiver notre jardin," Voltaire's Candide increasingly seems to me to have got it right. As you say, the temptation to retreat to an ivory tower, having secured - as far as possible - the necessities of basic living, is almost overwhelming. 

And yet ... and yet ...

Maybe all we can do is just not give up, try to cultivate decency and humanity and openness and listening to each other in our own lives and in the small islands of dignity we can discover in our ordinary lives. And protest in our own little ways against the lies, and oversimplifications, and hypocrisy, and bigotry. Shout out. And howl ...

   I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
   dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
   angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night ...

Am Montag, 4. Mai 2015 12:59:15 UTC+2 schrieb Molly:
The big ongoing news here in the states is the rash of clash between demonstrators and police. The demonstrations are (supposedly) brought on by the ever growing voice against the use of excessive force by police. It is such a complex issue, and the demonstrations themselves are not a simple problem.

Since living in Detroit I've heard many storied about how the riots of 1967 altered the course of history for the city, and changed individual lives forever. Most recently, I cried like a baby listening to the eulogy of a fine man given my his loving wife, my friend. He was a catholic priest at the time, and she a Detroit resident. He left the priesthood afterward and they married a couple of years later. There were over 40 priests at the services, three from Rome officiated the funeral mass. This guy was on the fast track to Cardinal when the riots shook his very core and changed his value system forever.

It gets me thinking about the very nature of the waves of demonstrations. In the sixties, of course, they were spurred by civil rights issues, Then the war in Vietnam (four dead in Ohio). Now it seems, in the age of transparency, the relationship between law enforcement and the criminals they deter (treatment during the time of arrest.) Complicated and exacerbated by the new "protest for hire" gang, the same well funded group that travels the US heightening racial tension (Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson.) Baltimore's riots had a big gang problem that hasn't been seen yet, the street gangs hoping on board in an organized way to conduct criminal activity in the chaos. Something's gotta give.

Certainly, the police methods employed in some metropolitan cities should be eliminated and cleaned up. But the police have to be able to defend themselves and do their job (which should be protecting and serving the public.) Where any of that goes off the rail is where it gets murky.

When we can't have civil unrest without it being corrupted by monied interests looking to make things worse, there is little hope for societal change. This may be the reason for the current chaos. Follow the money.


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