5 thoughts on “Sandpit

  1. Fiscal policy is meant to concentrate on the short term. The use of federal budgets to publish long term plans seems to be an inappropriate use of this policy arm. As John Maynard Keynes pointed out in 1936 that sometimes it is best to bail the water out of the boat before trying to sail it around the world.

  2. Two papers well worth reading. I cannot give two links in one post so I will add a few spaces to the second link.

    1. What’s blocking sustainability? Human nature, cognition, and denial – William Rees.

    Click to access 12a7de4bc4999b78e160f3628b0d22312558.pdf

    2. Capitalism as a Mode of Power – Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan.

    h t t p : / / bnarchives.yorku.ca/364/2/20130700_bichler_nitzan_dutkiewicz_cmp_interview.pdf

    To give an idea of what is each article, here are excerpts from the abstracts or precis:

    1. “… Ours is allegedly a science-based culture. For decades, our best science has suggested that staying on our present growth-based path to global development implies catastrophe for billions of people and undermines the possibility of maintaining a complex global civilization. Yet
    there is scant evidence that national governments, the United Nations, or other official international organizations have begun seriously to contemplate the implications for humanity of the scientists’ warnings, let alone articulate the kind of policy responses the science evokes. The modern world remains mired in a swamp of cognitive dissonance and collective denial seemingly dedicated to maintaining the status quo. We appear, in philosopher Martin Heidegger’s words, to be “in flight from thinking.” Just what is going on here? I attempt to answer this question by exploring the distal, biosocial causes of human economic behavior. My
    working hypothesis is that modern H. sapiens is unsustainable by nature — unsustainability is an inevitable emergent property of the systemic interaction between contemporary technoindustrial society and the ecosphere. I trace this conundrum to humanity’s once-adaptive, sub-conscious, genetic predisposition to expand (shared with all other species), a tendency reinforced by the socially constructed economic narrative of continuous material growth. Unfortunately, these qualities have become maladaptive.” – William Rees.

    Actually, I feel a key phrase in his precis does not quite convey correctly the ideas in the body of the essay. This phrase I would amend to: ” — unsustainability is an inevitable emergent property of the systemic interaction between humanity’s once-adaptive, genetic predisposition to expand, contemporary technoindustrial society and the ecosphere.”

    2. “…. coauthors Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler discuss the nature of contemporary capitalism. Their central argument is that the dominant approaches to studying the market – liberalism and Marxism – are as flawed as the market itself. Offering a historically rich and analytically incisive critique of the recent history of capitalism and crisis, they suggest that instead of studying the relations of capital to power we must conceptualize capital as power if we are to understand the dynamics of the market system. This approach allows us to examine the seemingly paradoxical workings of the capitalist mechanism, whereby profit and capitalization are divorced from productivity and machines in the so-called real economy.”

    I link to these two papers in an effort to get a discussion going here on the topics covered. I am interested in what people think of the contents of these papers and whether there could be ideas which potentially cross-refer between these two papers, either in a reinforcing manner or as contradictions. I do think the papers taken together go the heart of our modern dilemmas: the biological nature of humans, the sustainability crisis and the clear problems and inadequacies of both orthodox and heterdodox economics and even political economy.

    I note that if I write long screeds of my tentative ideas, which are still evolving as I try to explore these topics, I can’t get a discussion going. Can we get a discussion going about these papers? The issues are crucially important after all.

  3. Economics started its existence in this world as a survival manual. Early humans had to avoid starvation and protect its own species. This often meant wiping out predators and competing species. Over time human used science to dominate the planet. The absence of large scale predators allowed economics to leave survival as a historical reality then to move on to moral philosophy as its imperative if not future. This was “star gazing” at its worst. Thousands of humans still die of starvation. This is often due to humans now hunting down fellow humans. Our race has become overcrowded in many areas. Economics, orthodox and heterodox, does not highlight the social costs of warfare and terrorism. Politicians have become intellectually lazy. Political economists are becoming intellectual cowards. The world’s social classes ‘burn up’ but no one wants to volunteer to be the fire fighters. Not pretty but reality is never pretty. It is time for the intellectually gifted to take up this challenge. Not to do so could condemn our species to footnote status in the complete history of our planet.

  4. Greg Pius, I hope you, and others of course, have read the two papers I referred to. They certainly contain some interesting and thought-provoking material. You state, “It is time for the intellectually gifted to take up this challenge.” It certainly is. Two such people are Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan.

    The following linked presentation by Jonathan Nitzan is superb. It is well worth the one hour plus some needed to watch it. Nitzan’s segment begins at about the 3:30 mark and continues until the start of the Q&A segment at about 1:52. You can even run such lectures at a speed of 1.25 times normal as a clever acquaintance of mine does. He likes to acquire worthwhile recorded ideas as quickly as possible.

    I beg, I implore all who read this blog to watch this video. It is well worth the time.

  5. What we need in this country is a coterie of hard-core leftists who are devotees of an “Austrian/British Classical school synthesis” economics. Because we need to hurt the oligarchy. And the northern hemisphere dynastic oligarchy has carefully orchestrated the situation such that all major schools of thought serve their interests and don’t threaten them.

    To transmute something Mussolini once said “All within the system of usury, nothing outside the dominion of the bankers, nothing against the banks.” And to paraphrase a G W Bush welfare program “No Banker Left Behind.”

    There are plenty of right-wing Austrian-School types. I’d want to see hard-leftists who are enthusiastic for Austrian-School analysis. I saw an excellent presentation by Jorg Guido Hullsman on the consequences of our ghastly money and banking system. He showed pretty clearly how it leads to unjust enrichment. But he wasn’t sufficiently blue-in-the-face angry at this funnelling of value up to the already affluent. We need hard leftists with his understanding.

    The oligarchy takes a long-term softly softly approach to corral people into tribes that won’t hurt their interests. From the point of view of sentiment its the Keynesians who are the most naturally against oligarchy. But they never see government debt they don’t like, and its government debt that is the bread and butter of dynastic banker exploitation.

    The most despicable school of thought personality-wise is the neoclassicals. I had thought they were my crowd but in the end I couldn’t stand the company. Never seeing private debt they don’t like, they also appear to be in thrall to rent-seeking behaviour, so long as any government spending involved isn’t too up front and proud. It is as though they their hero is Carlos Slim and they would want to handle our affairs with such incompetence that more Carlos Slims would rise up amongst us to be worshipped by them. One of these monsters actually was talking about the need to LOWER the tax free threshold??? Is she even a human being?

    Mostly the oligarchy works in a softly softly manner but recently Professor Keen became so dangerous to them evidently that they closed down the economics department at his University. So I heard it said from Max Kaiser anyway. Luckily he secured another appointment in England. Maybe a bit too rugged to be stopped. Cuts a fine trim figure and wears leather jackets.

    But generally speaking their punishments are pretty low key. They just manage to pigeonhole people into tribes that don’t hurt their interests.

    As far as people who are Austrian/British Classical school synthesis, the people I know about would be our own Gerard Jackson and the American George Reisman. These old guys are excellent from a technical economics point of view … But one thousand of these guys would not give any trouble to the oligarchy in a century of Sundays. Because they are right-wingers and the idea of a billionaire making another lazy billion dollars doesn’t offend them. I think their take on labour market economics is a bit unrealistic since the business ecology is so out of whack … Too many Mastodon and Mammoths, not enough Kangaroos and Earthworms. But aside from that I am broadly in their tiny camp. But they cannot help us in our current plight until we get many many people with their technical take on economics but a different sort of ethical thinking and a more visceral anger at the injustice of the current situation.

    I sound more and more like a hard leftist everyday I suppose. I want a workers paradise. But I want a workers paradise growing out of a small business paradise. A little different than the path advocated the last time around.

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