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Mainstream Economics vs. the rest of the world

by ARGeezer Fri Jun 20th, 2008 at 11:43:52 AM EST

From the April, 2008 issue of Scientific American


The Economist Has No Clothes
Unscientific assumptions in economic theory are undermining efforts to solve environmental problems
By Robert Nadeau

Photograph courtesy of Robert Nadeau; Illustration by Matt Collins

The 19th-century creators of neoclassical economics--the theory that now serves as the basis for coordinating activities in the global market system--are credited with transforming their field into a scientific discipline. But what is not widely known is that these now legendary economists--William Stanley Jevons, Léon Walras, Maria Edgeworth and Vilfredo Pareto--developed their theories by adapting equations from 19th-century physics that eventually became obsolete. Unfortunately, it is clear that neoclassical economics has also become outdated. The theory is based on unscientific assumptions that are hindering the implementation of viable economic solutions for global warming and other menacing environmental problems.

The physical theory that the creators of neoclassical economics used as a template was conceived in response to the inability of Newtonian physics to account for the phenomena of heat, light and electricity. In 1847 German physicist Hermann von Helmholtz formulated the conservation of energy principle and postulated the existence of a field of conserved energy that fills all space and unifies these phenomena. Later in the century James Maxwell, Ludwig Boltzmann and other physicists devised better explanations for electromagnetism and thermodynamics, but in the meantime, the economists had borrowed and altered Helmholtz's equations.


Economics is not physics - Diary rescue by Migeru


The strategy the economists used was as simple as it was absurd--they substituted economic variables for physical ones. Utility (a measure of economic well-being) took the place of energy; the sum of utility and expenditure replaced potential and kinetic energy. A number of well-known mathematicians and physicists told the economists that there was absolutely no basis for making these substitutions. But the economists ignored such criticisms and proceeded to claim that they had transformed their field of study into a rigorously mathematical scientific discipline.

Strangely enough, the origins of neoclassical economics in mid-19th century physics were forgotten. Subsequent generations of mainstream economists accepted the claim that this theory is scientific. These curious developments explain why the mathematical theories used by mainstream economists are predicated on the following unscientific assumptions:

The market system is a closed circular flow between production and consumption, with no inlets or outlets.
Natural resources exist in a domain that is separate and distinct from a closed market system, and the economic value of these resources can be determined only by the dynamics that operate within this system.
The costs of damage to the external natural environment by economic activities must be treated as costs that lie outside the closed market system or as costs that cannot be included in the pricing mechanisms that operate within the system.
The external resources of nature are largely inexhaustible, and those that are not can be replaced by other resources or by technologies that minimize the use of the exhaustible resources or that rely on other resources.
There are no biophysical limits to the growth of market systems.
If the environmental crisis did not exist, the fact that neoclassical economic theory provides a coherent basis for managing economic activities in market systems could be viewed as sufficient justification for its widespread applications. But because the crisis does exist, this theory can no longer be regarded as useful even in pragmatic or utilitarian terms because it fails to meet what must now be viewed as a fundamental requirement of any economic theory--the extent to which this theory allows economic activities to be coordinated in environmentally responsible ways on a worldwide scale. Because neoclassical economics does not even acknowledge the costs of environmental problems and the limits to economic growth, it constitutes one of the greatest barriers to combating climate change and other threats to the planet. It is imperative that economists devise new theories that will take all the realities of our global system into account.

Professor Kees van der Pijl has a very cogent critique of the history of this academic discipline.  See especially chapter 2 Rational Choice

There is also an extended version of Robert Nadeau's thesis on the same Scientific American website. I might quibble with his treatment of Adam Smith, the "Invisible Hand" and deism, but this in no way affects the cogency of his critique.  (My view is that the Invisible Hand was just a metaphor for Smith, and that Smith was attempting, largely successfully, to create an entire science of human society and behavior that was naturalistic and that assumed no intervention in human affairs by a Deity. "The Wealth of Nations" should be read in conjunction with "The Theory of the Moral Sentiments".) This constituted a major part of "the Enlightenment Project" in English speaking lands.

Display:
IMHO,in its Liberal and Neo-Liberal incarnations, economics is not even a science as it is axiomatic (see p.26 of linked work) and its underlying propositions are assumed. It is more like a system of theology than anything else.  It seems as though its practitioners, rather than  formulating a testable hypothesis, making predictions that could be found to either be true or false based thereupon, and then testing those predictions, rather behave more like fundamentalist creationists, who start with their belief and grasp at any conceivable substantiation.

In an opinion piece in the April, 2008 issue of "Scientific  American" Robert Nadeau, who teaches environmental science and public policy at George Mason University notes that the founders of Neo-classical economics, W.S.Jevons, Leon Walrus, Maria Edgeworth and Vilfredo Paraeto did not derive from observation the rigorous mathematical formulations which were credited with transforming economics into a science.  Instead they borrowed them from von Helmholtz who proposed them as a solution to lacunae in Newtonian physics to account for phenomena of heat, light and electricity.    Other theories prevailed in physics, James Clerk Maxwell's Electrical Field Theory and Boltzmann's formulations in thermodynamics, for instance. Physicists and mathematicians told the economists that there was no theoretical basis for substituting economic variables for physical variables in Helmholtz's equations, but they were undeterred. This "borrowing" was forgotten and subsequent generations of "mainstream" economists accepted the claim that the theory was scientific.

Neo-classical Economics is essentially a rhetorical system, rather like a collection of "Just So" stories, that is axiomatic and well adapted to confounding critics.  If a student disagrees with the axions, they will not do well in the class.  Adam Smith's METAPHOR  of "the invisible hand of the market" has been inflated beyond all recognition to become more like the LEFT HAND OF GOD.  Tobin at Yale has commented to the effect that, after 200 years, if it was more than a metaphor one would think that the economists would have at least articulated some of the fingers.

The fact that Neo-classical Economics has been so successfully used to buttress institutions such as the modern corporation does not, of itself, detract from the value of the corporation.  What the undermining of the foundation of Neo-classical Economics could do is render features such as limited liability, executive compensation, shareholder rights and corporate ethics and responsibility vulnerable to rational criticism and to an effective analysis of the costs and benefits of these features to the society that charters said corporation.  Come the day!

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri May 23rd, 2008 at 11:03:45 PM EST
The above comment was originally attached to Coleman's  "Milton Friedman and Trofim Lysenko" blog.  Migeru suggested the Scientific American article would better serve as a diary.  The above comment was better stated than anything I am at this moment capable of composing.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri May 23rd, 2008 at 11:10:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Re: Marketism is just like communism.

They are both axiomatic systems that assume their premises.  This allows both to make facile deductions that are favorable to their respective views of the world.  This is similar to Christian theology. This gives both a "feel" that makes them more plausible to their target audiences. Marxism has the advantage in internal coherence.  Liberal and Neo-Liberal Economics have the advantage in direct appeal to the vanity and self interest of the wealthy.  When adopted by governments, political entities or social organizations each spends considerable effort delegitimizing any criticism of the assumptions, which is where all axiomatic systems are most vulnerable. IMHO, in the US the similarities in axiomatic structure between fundamentalist Christian theology and Neo-Liberal Economics rallies fundamentalists to the support of Neo-Liberal Economics when it's axioms are attacked.  I suspect they have come to view the "Invisible Hand" as the Left Hand of God.

(ANOTHER RECYCLED COMMENT--BOY DO I LIKE TO SEE MYSELF IN PRINT!)

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri May 23rd, 2008 at 11:18:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
seems to me, in vague memory of long-ago reading, that there's actually quite a long history to the weird alliance of religion-of-the-church and religion-of-the-market... the Calvinist strain with its predestination mantra and the belief that worldly success, far from being a temptation to corruption and idleness, was a sign that the striver had been approved by God and was a member of the Elect.  did a dangerous shift happen here in a theology that -- at one time -- had been critical of money and of power, then became a state religion but maintained lip-service to the critique of money and power, then (with the Calvinist mutation) began to see money and power as evidence of grace?  God was suddenly on the same side as the bankers and merchants.  someone out there in ET-land must be better read in this phase of Euro history than I am and better able to draw the connections...

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sat May 24th, 2008 at 01:41:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
seems to me, in vague memory of long-ago reading, that there's actually quite a long history to the weird alliance of religion-of-the-church and religion-of-the-market... the Calvinist strain with its predestination mantra and the belief that worldly success, far from being a temptation to corruption and idleness, was a sign that the striver had been approved by God and was a member of the Elect.

You are, of course, absolutely correct. The seminal works here are Max Weber's "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism" from 1904 & 1905 and R.H. Tawney's "Religion and the Rise of Capatilism" which was first delivered as a lecture series in 1922. You have clearly stated the essence of the thesis.

I believe that the difference between our time and the time of the Reformation is that during the Reformation economic elites seized upon Protestant theology as it legitimated their worldly efforts and then used it to promulgate a rigorous work ethic on the lower classes, while in the current instance elites are conflating criticism of Neo-Classical Economics with criticism of Fundamentalist Christian Beliefs, which are culturally normative among my Scots-Irish bretheren of the American Scots-Irish diaspora. This rallies them to the defense of the bastions of privilege to the detriment of their own economic self interest, even if they are not particularly religious.  For instance, my own mother, a widow struggling to finish raising her three sons, was a Goldwater supporter in 1964 despite his advocacy of repealing Social Security, one of whose programs, SSI, was providing her much needed monthly income.  

Since both criticisms often come from the same person, e.g. myself, this counter attack can be effective. This is why I am more circumspect in my discussions of religion, preferring to emphasize the social and moral teachings of Jesus, which I value, and critiquing the baleful effects of the Council of Nicea, from whence the creed. This can be effective because the Scots-Irish are traditionally suspicious of the Catholic Church.

I first encountered Weber and Tawney in lecture and in cursory written form in grad school at the University of Arizona in the early 60s. I have copies of both works in my library and should defer further comment pending a re-reading.  Tawney is graced with a soaring, magisterial prose which probably immediately renders him  suspect to modern readers but which I find attractive.  For more on Weber's place in history see Kees van der Pijl I believe I have Drew J Jones to thank for the link. The work should be read from the beginning.  I have only just gotten to the referenced chapter and have found it most worthwhile.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat May 24th, 2008 at 01:27:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I used to give a lecture one the relationship between the Protestant Reformation and Capitalism.

A short version of it can be found here:
http://elegant-technology.com/pod_06_Veblens_importance.mp4

Essentially, the Reformation had three streams.  On the social and political Left can be found the Anabaptists such as the Mennonites and the Quakers.  The Center was defined by the followers of Martin Luther.  And on the Right were the Calvinists.

Predestination and the concept of the Elect are Calvinist.  They also believed that usury was a good idea.  The great Calvinist countries are Switzerland, Holland, and of course, USA.  We have so many they are stratified.  Upper class Calvinists run places like Harvard and Yale and dream up crimes like the Vietnam War.  The lower class Calvinists are the folks who still debate the validity of Darwin. All religions are represented in USA but the Calvinists still have the majority of political power.

The Brits have there own interesting religious history.  The Church of England is liturgically Catholic, but is theologically Puritan / Calvinist.  The British Quakers gave us the Industrial Revolution but they have safely stuffed that genie back into the bottle.  Britain is now as de-industrialized as any developing nation.

As for Max Weber, his book is essentially absurd.  He uses Benjamin Franklin as the perfect example of Puritan Calvinism.  In truth, Franklin grew up around the Puritans in Boston but ran away to Quaker Philadelphia at the first opportunity.  The Protestants who developed the most successful societies--the Lutherans--are treated by Weber as the losers who didn't get it.  Needless to say, Weber is assigned reading at virtually every college Sociology department in USA.

"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"

by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Sun May 25th, 2008 at 02:45:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the exegesis and the reference, techno.

When I was in school energy often followed interest and I found the references dealing with Jean Calvin and his followers decidedly turgid.  But, "know thine enemy!"  So a lucid analysis of views I find repugnant is treasured.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun May 25th, 2008 at 03:22:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent, and truly insightful.

In Norway it was Hans Nielsen Hauge who seeded new enterprises all over Norway wherever he went, and almost single-handedly thereby led the Industrial Revolution in Norway, which had hitherto been an almost entirely Agrarian society.

He was imprisoned for years by the mainstream Lutherans, of course, but his tradition lives on in St Olaf's college, Minneapolis, as you will know better than any.

I'm not sure where it is that the risk taking entrepreneurial spirit comes from, but I don't thing it sits as well with the Lutheran tradition as it does with Hauge and the Quakers...

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun May 25th, 2008 at 04:10:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure where it is that the risk taking entrepreneurial spirit comes from, but I don't thing it sits as well with the Lutheran tradition as it does with Hauge and the Quakers...

My understanding, far from authoritative, is that, after  the Restoration dissent was allowed, but that the only paying benefices, vicarages, university positions, etc. were, of course, reserved for Anglicans. Most of the Gentry were Tory and Anglican.  The dissenters were predominate in trade and industry, especially in the north and in Scotland and were predominately Whig, though those terms were just coming into use at that time.  In time wealthy dissenters purchased the estates of impecunious Tories.  A crude "social Darwinian" analogy would be our presumed Australopithecus ancestors moving out onto the savannas, a relatively unpopulated niche, leaving most of their relatives behind in the forest. :-)

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun May 25th, 2008 at 06:21:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... entrepreneurial spirit ...

... the one is the risk-taking, the betting on a strategy that can only be proven sound or unsound in the trying of it.

... the other is the risk-minimizing, the effort to guard the strategy from as many unforseen hurdles and glitches as possible.

The idea that any one culture has a monopoly on the entrepreneurial spirit is, of course, silly. However, those who most benefit from the status quo are those with the least motivation to pursue an entrepreneurial venture, both in terms of the least to gain in relative terms, and the most to lose in absolute terms. And at the same time, those who are at the absolute fringes of society tend to have the least social resources available to make a success of an entrepreneurial venture.

So its normal for entrepreneurship to be associated with some semi-peripheral group, either in terms of social status, or regional location, or both.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun May 25th, 2008 at 07:03:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
However, those who most benefit from the status quo are those with the least motivation to pursue an entrepreneurial venture, both in terms of the least to gain in relative terms, and the most to lose in absolute terms.

that rings true, but what about when the monarchies of europe financed exploration by seafarers? is that an exception?

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue May 27th, 2008 at 04:09:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which of that activity was entrepreneurial ... and who was doing it?

Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal? Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, uniting the two largest Iberian kingdoms with the final phase of the Reconquista taking place that year? Elizabeth I of England?

Heck, the support of Elizabeth I of England came after the strategy had proven out.

How much overseas exploration did the Hapsburgs undertake? They rather undertook to take over Spain, which by that time was sitting on top of two mountains of silver in the New World.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue May 27th, 2008 at 07:38:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the most insightful courses I took at the U of A was offered by the history dept. but taught by a sociologist, Bernie Silberman, whose area included Japanese Bureaucratic Behavior.  He called the course "The Expansion of Europe" and started with Perrine and the development of the medieval city, the development of National monarchies and their subsequent interest in overseas expansion.

(The biggest hole I felt in the traditional national history narrative approach was the lack of theoretical basis and explanatory power. He also introduced me to the analysis of Marx.)  

At home 15th and 16th century monarchs were hemmed in by vested interests, traditional rights, and national rivals.  Seize an island off the coast of Africa and they could expand the scope of their trade and the reach of their exploration. Neither were they as bothered by annoying traditional rights. They found this irresistible. I don't know  if or why there was a disjunction between monarchical ambition and entrepreneurial activity.  I would suspect that concepts of the behavior appropriate to each class might have a role, however necessity was a powerful motivator and coin a vital necessity for monarchs.  As Charles V said of the prospects for victory during one of his interminable wars, "si no falta el dinero!"

I expect that the differences are more interesting than the similarities between different monarchies.  

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue May 27th, 2008 at 04:47:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not so certain the entrepreneurial spirit or the willingness to take risk has much to do with industrial capitalism.

Of FAR greater importance are a love of precision, the embrace of rationality, (and if religion is involved, the belief that human reason is God-given) enormous imaginations, persistence, cooperation on a massive scale--even with total strangers, etc.  What ties all these together is what kicked off the Protestant Reformation in the first place--Luther's first line was, "Out of a love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light..."  When someone really loves the truth, precision to 8 digits is almost orgasmic.

Just remember, the Hauges were a purification movement in a country with a state Lutheran Church.  (And a corrupt foreign occupation church at that.)  And since Luther's movement was first an anti-corruption movement, the Hauges were an attempt to out-Lutheran the "official" Lutherans. There was almost no serious theological disputes between the groups.  (My father was an ordained Lutheran preacher yet my parents chose to be buried in a Hauge cemetery.  He rather enjoyed theological hairsplitting so if there was some real difference, I am CERTAIN he would have known about it.)

And BTW, even tough there are a LOT of Hauges who settled in the area of St. Olaf College, the school itself is VERY high-church.  They still have daily chapel and offer several degrees in the performance of high liturgical music.

"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"

by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Sun May 25th, 2008 at 08:33:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I see the problem.  I was discussing the historiography and intellectual history of the subject, not endorsing the view.  I certainly don't think it is so simple as "adopt a better religion, or the right religion  and then get rich!"  My own view is that businessmen and innovators developed their capabilities first, acquired wealth and corresponding influence in the exercise of those abilities and then chafed under the reigning religious attitudes.  This provided the context in which men like Calvin developed their attitudes.  However, considerable research would be required to substantiate that thesis and I don't have the requisite linguistic skills, etc. etc. etc.  

Additionally, there were well known problems with the Church that would have motivated Luther in any case.  I don't think he is a particularly good example for the "Religion and the Rise of Capitalism" thesis and suspect that Weber dumped on him out of frustration that Luther did not conform to his thesis. Henry VIII was certainly not motivated by a desire for a religion more nurturing to business.  He just didn't want the Pope interfering with his begetting a legitimate male heir. Had Spanish influence over the Pope not inhibited the Pope from granting an annulment, the course of the reformation in England would likely have been very different.  With Henry it became an issue of statecraft.  It was essential to get the nobility solidly behind him.  How better than to have them all appropriate Church land.  Critics of the Church in England, Cramer and Cromwell as I recall, were given scope to develop an intellectual and moral cover story, although that is not how they saw it or presented it.  The Puritans were a thorn in the side of the Monarchy until after the Civil War. At least that is how I see it.  I am hardly the expert here.  I do like Christopher Hill for the 17th century and Eric Hobswamb for the 19th.    

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun May 25th, 2008 at 10:11:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is that you view religion as religion and I view religion as one cultural manifestation out of many.

This isn't about "salvation through grace alone" or some other theological debate.  I stopped being interested in those at about 10 because I had already heard WAY too many of them.

But I am interested in what the Lutes had going for them as a matter of development economics because of how their practices of the faith helped them organize their societies.  The list is not long, but it includes:

  1. Because the faith prohibited statuary and insisted rather on music as the approved art form, the Lutes encouraged a whole infrastructure of precision manufacture.  Folk forget that the tracker-action organ was the moon shot of its day.  There are also arguments suggesting that learning to sing Bach in proper harmony assists in the growth of mental capabilities.  It probably doesn't hurt.

  2. Luther was a product of the printers.  No printers and Luther is an obscure, dead, malcontent, priest in Saxony.  Luther returned the favor.  Every good Lutheran home was supposed to have a Bible, a hymnal, and a catechism.  AND the knowledge how to read them.  It is estimated that it took over 250 years for the printers to fill that pipeline.  And while universal literacy didn't arrive in the Nordic countries until the mid 19th century, the clergy hurried it along by making literacy a prerequisite for marriage.

  3. There is nothing in theory or practice that would make growing prosperous by the manufacture of something difficult any sort of "sin" in the Lutheran world.  The real Lutheran rabble-rousers may have preached against the over exploitation of labor or excessive displays of wealth but no clergyman would ever get in the way of successfully producing world-class ball bearings.

I am sorry I cannot debate Max Weber on his book.  His Protestant Ethic postulates that the real Protestantism was taught by Calvin--because HE organized Finance Capitalism.  The form I am discussing above is Industrial Capitalism.  In case you missed it, my essay of the differences between the two can be found right here at Eurotrib:
http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2007/1/18/191310/123


"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"
by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Mon May 26th, 2008 at 03:15:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is that you view religion as religion and I view religion as one cultural manifestation out of many.

I have visited your site and read your bio thereupon.  I therefore have some idea of your attitudes about religion.  Mine are also complex and have evolved. I certainly agree that religion is one cultural manifestation out of many, and that causal relations are difficult to establish in many cases.  I don't believe that I particularly characterized Weber.  I know his work is controversial, but, for better or worse, it was viewed as the starting point for the "religion and the rise of capitalism" narrative in historiography.

I was aware of the importance of the Lutheran religion to the development of music in Germany, but not of your thesis regarding its fostering of precision manufacturing.  That is a subject dear to my heart too.

In a prior incarnation, during the second half of the 1970s, I designed a "from scratch" audio recording console--a meglomanaical ambition for a single designer working out of a spare bedroom--but irresistible once the money was available.  

I got to do the functional design, the circuit design, to lay out the panels, prepare the silk screens, design aluminium and double sided circuit board assemblies to the thousandth of an inch, work in three dimensional articulated steel for the shell as assembly, design my own connectors for terminating 27 pair shielded pair cables, etc.  Bella Losmandi of OpAmp Labs had been my mentor for circuit design using opamps--a great man, formerly senior engineering staff with Hughes.  He designed the control system for Lunar Pioneer, among  his other accomplishments.

I also have very personal reasons to treasure the link between music and technology, having been privileged to  use my own consoles to record talent for pay--an intoxicating experience even without chemical assistance.  Shortly thereafter I parted ways with the studio owner--before we found out who would succeed in killing the other first.  :-)  (We remain friends.) That led me into contracting, as it is hard to support a family in an industry where the work is so enjoyable that the competition will work for free.

I will read your links tonight.  In what remains of the day I must beat back the encroaching forest from my little spot of paradise.

I believe we agree on most things.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon May 26th, 2008 at 04:05:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
what a great comment!

the amount of people on this blog involved seriously in music, its lore, its laws, and its lure.

fully confirming my (and others') theory that music sharpens, integrates, and deepens cognitive faculties!

anyone who was alive during the sixties remembers a time when music was more than what it's become since.

it was a provocative goad for change, personal and societal, a soundtrack so powerful that it occasionally became the narrative, as kc might say.

cheers!

2 geezers on the same blog, we're blessed indeed.

 

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue May 27th, 2008 at 03:14:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]

2 geezers on the same blog, we're blessed indeed.

Perhaps five, perhaps more.  If you remember the 60s you are, or are approaching being, a geezer, by my definition. However, not all who are 65 or over will want to so self identify. BTW, I don't buy the canard, "If you remember the 60s you weren't really part of it." Amnesia is repression on steroids.  

Perhaps it depends on what drugs one took.  My preferences were Vitamins H and M for daily use in moderation.  I designed my consoles on two hits a night.  I was working 40+ hrs/wk for pay and designing at night. I took psychedelics fewer than ten times.  They left me with some of my most vivid memories, and, with in a few weeks, some of my most self revealing and archetypal dreams. This spurred an interest in Carl Jung. However the effects on my system  would last for days--a 48hr waking period on the day I dropped, followed by 6-8 hours of sleep and another 36 hours awake, and so on.  I always ended up with a cold.  I learned to have great respect for these drugs.  I never knowingly took downers, though I was once given a joint laced with PCP.    

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue May 27th, 2008 at 01:26:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, that was then.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue May 27th, 2008 at 01:27:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just some further thoughts: I have lately been reading Anthony Pagden's Lords of all the World: Ideologies of Empire in Spain, Britain and France c.1500-c.1800 ) about justifications of colonialism.

Protestantism could rightly point out that rather than conquest and enslavement practiced by Spain in Latin America with the Pope's blessing, the English and Dutch brought trade, which was peaceful and increased knowledge and friendly intercourse among nations. The Protestant nations did not engage in forcible conversion but tolerated different religions among their subject colonial peoples.

Of course we know that this is a gross simplification and that gunboats followed trade, and trade included opium and so on. Also that Isabella tried to forbid slavery of her subject indigenous peoples -- though no one objected to trade in Africans who were not her subjects and who were already slaves.

Still, at the time Adam Smith was writing, the gun boats, Sepoy Rebellion and its violent suppression, and scientific racism were in the future, and  a  progressive aura still clung to commerce.

It seems to me that Robinson Crusoe (not Benjamin Franklin so much) is the type of the Protestant entrepreneur -- resourceful, self-reliant, deeply religious yet a proponent of religious tolerance, and supremely confident of the God-given superiority of the rationality of his way of doing things on his island.  

Rousseau, a Calvinist, found in him a kindred spirit and recommended Robinson Crusoe above all other books for its pedagogic value.

by John Culpepper on Sat Jun 21st, 2008 at 11:27:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Protestantism could rightly point out that rather than conquest and enslavement practiced by Spain in Latin America with the Pope's blessing, the English and Dutch brought trade, which was peaceful and increased knowledge and friendly intercourse among nations. The Protestant nations did not engage in forcible conversion but tolerated different religions among their subject colonial peoples.
Right, tell that to the indigenous peoples of North America and Australia... The English were as capable of genocide as the Spanish, and in fact in most of Latin America you have substantial indigenous or mestizo populations while in North America they are a very small minority. While the societies remain very racist against cholos and the white criollo elite still holds the economic and political power (pace recent developments like Chavez, Toledo or Morales) the fact is that the Spanish and Portuguese intermarried more than the English and Dutch who tended to just wipe out the indigenous populations. This is not to deny the reality of the Genocide perpetrated by the Spanish in Central America.

That's in America, in Asia it was a different dynamic, more to do with the inability to call the colonised people uncivilised, just inscrutable.

Also that Isabella tried to forbid slavery of her subject indigenous people
Is this Isabella of Castille? Doesn't sound like the Isabella I know. Columbus, in fact, wrote to her in no ambiguous terms about the potential for enslavement of the tainos and it wasn't until Bartolome de las Casas wrote about it, many years after the death of Isabella, that there was any voice denouncing what was going on with the Amerinds.
Still, at the time Adam Smith was writing, the gun boats, Sepoy Rebellion and its violent suppression, and scientific racism were in the future, and  a  progressive aura still clung to commerce.
You clearly haven't read Adam Smith. The Wealth of Nations was written after the Bengal Famine, and trying to explain why England was prosperous while China was stagnant and India could suffer a famine was something important in Smith's mind. And he had this to say about the difference between the North American colonies and the East India Company's rule of India:
This, perhaps, is nearly the present state of Bengal, and of some other of the English settlements in the East Indies. In a fertile country, which had before been much depopulated, where subsistence, consequently, should not be very difficult, and where, notwithstanding, three or four hundred thousand people die of hunger in one year, we maybe assured that the funds destined for the maintenance of the labouring poor are fast decaying. The difference between the genius of the British constitution, which protects and governs North America, and that of the mercantile company which oppresses and domineers in the East Indies, cannot, perhaps, be better illustrated than by the different state of those countries.
So, a white colony gets a better political environment than an indigenous population under colonial rule, to the point of blaming the Bengal famine on the East India Company.
It seems to me that Robinson Crusoe (not Benjamin Franklin so much) is the type of the Protestant entrepreneur -- resourceful, self-reliant, deeply religious yet a proponent of religious tolerance, and supremely confident of the God-given superiority of the rationality of his way of doing things on his island.  

Rousseau, a Calvinist, found in him a kindred spirit and recommended Robinson Crusoe above all other books for its pedagogic value.

Robinson Crusoe is a fantasy and it has nothing but contempt (you could say compassion but it's more like pity) for the indigenous friday he finds. And Rousseau put his own children into an orphanage, which calls into question his moral compass.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jun 21st, 2008 at 12:58:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Another work by Defoe, Moll Flanders, shows better his take on the whole colonial situation in America and how it fit into English life at the time.  However it obviously is not so good to recommend for younger children.

Pagden's Lords of all the World looks to be a fascinating study of the evolution of the ideologies associated with exploration and colonization.  I don't have the book as yet and have only read a few pages on- line.

Your references to the colonial practices of Protestant vs. Catholic countries reflects The Black Legend, Catholics bad, Protestants good.  (It was Catholics who came up with the term.)  Actuality was much more complex and it may be pointless to argue which religions were more damaging to Amerindians.  

So much of the devastation arose from the basic fact of contact, along with the introduction of domestic animals.  Europeans, Africans and their domestic animals brought with them diseases to which they had immunity but to which Amerindians had none, and they were unaware of this fact.

When this worked to the advantage of the Conquistadors in Mexico and Peru it could be seen as God's Hand smiting the heathen.  But we also have records of pious Catholic missionaries in both North and South America imploring God to spare their converts which were dying in droves from disease.  They sometimes saw epidemics as God's judgment on them for their failings. And then there were amokers like Aguirre who led his men on a murderous rampage while sending back occasional reports to the horrified and impotent Charles V.

I have Cherokee ancestors who were rounded up and herded off like cattle over the "Trail of Tears." Distant cousins likely did the herding.  This was for the profit of Protestant real estate developers and their political representatives, the best known of which being Andrew Jackson.  If there is any meaning to the concept of "original sin" it should, at least in part, apply to our common sorry history.

Non ridere, non lugere, neque detestari, sed intelligere.--B. Spinoza

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jun 21st, 2008 at 03:27:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's the black legend. I am not saying that it was fact by any means. What I am saying is that commerce was presented positively by Protestants irrespective of what Calvin said, as an ideological weapon against Catholicism (Catholics, too, praised commerce, but their justification of colonialism was presented with a different emphasis). Pagden emphasized the gap between rhetoric and practice in both Catholic and Protestant empires.

Arguably, it was slightly better to trade with  the indigenous people than to slaughter and enslave them. In practice however, the settlers did slaughter the Indians and expel them from their land, as happened to Geezer's ancestors. The Spanish settlers behaved similarly, regardless of what the theologians and jurists had to say about Indian rights back in Spain.

Migeru has completely misunderstood me. Perhaps I was not clear enough.

by John Culpepper on Mon Jun 23rd, 2008 at 07:09:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Techno,

I watched your lecture and found that I agree with you and Veblen.  I see that there are more Veblen works I need to acquire and read.  I have and am familiar with "The Theory of the Leisure Class" and with his famous comparison of religious denominations and their member churches, each with their own practices and theological variations, to franchise retailers, each with their own products. I found it both telling and hilarious.  I agree with both you and Veblen about the desire to do things right and the resulting frustrations arising from societal constraints, having experienced this in spades, if not no-trumps.

On the subject of Weber's thesis I will cite Phillip Benedict's "Christ's Church Purely Reformed-A Social History of Calvinism."  


The most sophisticated diagnosis of a possible link between Calvinism and capitalism remains Weber's, which argued not that a distinctive Calvinist economic ethic existed, but rather that the doctrine of predestination gave a distinctive psychological intensity to Calvinist's pursuit of a common Christian economic ethic.
--skip--
The English godly unquestionably set themselves apart from their neighbors through aspects of their lifestyle and religious behavior, but the most attentive studies of their economic behavior have ended by rejecting the notion that scrupulous piety fostered economic success.
--skip--
the godly as a group do not appear to have been more economically successful than their less pious neighbors."  from CONCLUSION TO PART IV. p.540 C 2002 Yale University, printed by Edwards Brothers, Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Hardcover.

Thanks for forcing me to remember this reference. I read part of this book, mostly the part about Weber, 3-4 yrs ago.  My memory is as good as ever, however the recall time has gotten longer.  At the time of my earlier comment I vaguely remembered the conclusion.  That was why I was circumspect in my characterization of Weber.

It would seem that this should be grist for your mill.  

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue May 27th, 2008 at 04:16:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i think priests back then fulfilled the function that tradmed journalism does today. shills...

many a rich man consulted with his priest at the waning of his days, as the pricks of his conscience over-rode the bourgeois pleasures of having 'made the grade'.

just like the tradmed smoothes over ruffled consciences about the iraq carnage, with hypocrisy, lies, and false reassurance.

'certainly Squire, the bequeathing of funds for the new bishop's palace will cancel out any reservations of the Gatekeeper, as to your deserving of the highest place at the table of heaven.'

so easy, like giving candy to a baby...

as below, so above!

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue May 27th, 2008 at 04:08:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
so easy, like giving candy to a baby...

as below, so above!

Reason is too often the whore of desire. Thus the concern about controlling desire in Vedanta and among the Buddists.


As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue May 27th, 2008 at 01:41:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reason is too often the whore of desire.

truer words were never spoken...

she's the best dressed whore at the brothel, too.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed May 28th, 2008 at 06:23:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know anything about the author, but George Mason University itself is tainted by the influence of libertarian money provided by industrialist Charles Koch. He essentially bought the economics department with a gift of $23 million and directed which libertarian economists should be hired using the money. The details are (mostly) on the GMU web site where they brag about the gift.

It is possible that those who want to deal with other formulations of economics have to hide out in other departments as a consequence.

As for the author's thesis, that economics is based upon various axioms and doesn't account properly for externalities this is a well-known criticism discussed originally by those who founded ecological economics, but now spreading elsewhere.

Here's a short reading list of some of the works of the movement's founder Herman Daly (from short to long).

http://dieoff.org/page88.htm
http://www.earthrights.net/docs/daly.html
http://www.feasta.org/documents/feastareview/daly.htm

The other prominent worker in the field is Robert Costanza who runs an institute at the U of Vermont.
http://www.uvm.edu/giee/?Page=about/Robert_Costanza.html&SM=about/about_menu.html

If you want to treat this as a physics problem then standard economics ignores what happens outside the box, while ecological economics treats the whole system.

I wrote an essay here a few months ago framing this idea as a problem in physics:
Non-Adiabatic Economics

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sat May 24th, 2008 at 03:58:46 PM EST
rdf--I couldn't agree more. Thanks for the reference.

I consider classical economics as equivalent to the simplifying assumptions of the adiabatic gas law..... An... example has to do with competition. The basic understanding is that in a competitive marketplace the price of the item will fall until the marginal cost of producing the next copy of the item will equal the price. In other words none of the firms will be making a profit. It's true that there are sometimes limited price wars of this nature, but in many cases the behavior is not as predicted by theory. Sometimes firms sell at below cost to drive weaker firms out of the market, sometimes they under produce to prevent the cost from dropping too low, sometimes they attempt to create product differentiation perception through advertising so that demand is not uniform. Most common these days is for firms to tacitly agree to divide a market between them using various signaling mechanisms

This was why Marx correctly analyzed COMPETETIVE markets as inherently unstable.  There was also that embarrassing "Labor Theory of Value"---the worst thing since usury laws.  The reformulation of the classical economics of Smith, Ricardo, Bentham Malthus and the Mills was undertaken to remove the stain of having to acknowledge any legitimacy of claims to value from labor.  Actually working with one's hands was so low class--except of course for artists. Elite endeavors should be mental in nature.

The last thing any good businessman wants is to compete on price.  Smith understood this well. He wrote of how, when two tradesmen meet socially, the conversation inevitably turned to limiting competition.  I don't know where the Neo-Classicists incorporated that part of Smith's legacy into their formulas borrowed from Helmholtz.

All of the really interesting phenomena of economics involve "leakage" from the system, often into the pockets of participants in non-legally sanctioned ways. This is discussed, by The Economist, for instance, typically to characterize it as an isolated abberation which has been detected and dealt with severely.  Much of the advertising budget of the major coroporations goes to "celebrating" the wonders of the market. Uh, less so at the moment, but they are concerned that we not overreact and do something rash, especially if it is effective.  Same for Bernanke, et al.

The economics departments mostly teach "mainstream economics" a.k.a. Neo-Classical Economics.  This serves to prepare a new generation of employees for the financial services industry.  Uncritical graduates can look forward to careers in that industry. Employers need not fear too many awkward questions.  More critical graduates may aquire PhDs and, if they are particularly prolific publishers of not too critical academic papers, become the left wing member of some faculty, so that the department can show balance.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun May 25th, 2008 at 02:53:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... mainstream economists found out from the inside out that the core theory upon which post-WWII formal neoclassical economics was built, the theory of General Equilibrium, was a dead end.

The problem, of course, was that in giving each distinct good at each distinct location and each distinct time period its own dimension, the GE system has such an extraordinarily large number of dimensions that there are in general, except under highly artificial restrictions, an extremely large number of general equilibria for a given state, and as far as stability, among the equilibria you can find dynamics just about as unstable as possible.

So the wonderful existence of general equilibrium proof of the 1950's was, in the 1970's, shown to be a dead end, in its own terms.

And then ... well, the mainstream project lost its center, but not its allegiance to its own partial unit of analysis and analytical toolkit, having learned how to step carefully around the dead and rotting corpse of GE theory.
 

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Jun 21st, 2008 at 03:43:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Didn't Arrow himself say something to the effect that the Arrow-Debrau theorem was a mathematical tour de force with little relevance to the real world?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jun 21st, 2008 at 05:53:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Debreu was one of the three main contributors to the understanding that General Equilibrium theory is a dead end ... Sonnenshein (1972) was generalized by Mantel (1974) and Debreu (1974).

Ackerman, 1999, Still Dead After All These Years (pdf)

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Jun 21st, 2008 at 03:41:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
have a relatively logical  argument to those that bring up the notion of nature and resources as external to economies - assign some form of ownership to them, so that someone cares about their value.

Which makes sense - but usually introduces governments, the only entities able to deal with non-sharable items like fishing stocks, air quality and the like. And they "protect" their property by regulation; the trouble being, of course, that they don't benefit monetarily from such regulation and thus do not appear to be a rational economic player for libertarians.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun May 25th, 2008 at 12:46:10 PM EST
Many of the libertarians I have known have often been very bright engineers or scientists who sincerely want to maximize liberty. They are not always sophisticated in their understanding of how societies function, but are acutely aware of how organizations chafe on "creative genius"--a la Ayn Rand.  They don't seem to want to acknowledge the extent of the complexity of society and the need and difficulty of effective regulation.  It was my "inner libertarian" that found Barry Goldwater's "Conscience of a Conservative" so compelling at age 16.  However my humanities professor and my college house mates introduced me to, IMHO, more sophisticated points of view.  

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun May 25th, 2008 at 03:12:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, no, no, you don't get it at all :-P

Everyone owns one six-billionth of the world's fish stock. And he is free to sell it or demand compensation from someone who destroys it. And when he needs to enforce his claims, he hires a militia private security contractor.

I assure you that this is not an unkind caricature. Some people actually believe that. I know one of them personally. And they object - severely - if you make the mistake of calling the militias private security contractors in the example by some pejorative term like "gangsters" or "terrorists."

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon May 26th, 2008 at 07:47:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... pre-entropy physics of energy by the neo-classicals, Phillip Mirowski in More Heat than Light provides substantial additional information for the interested.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun May 25th, 2008 at 04:47:54 PM EST
Thanks for the reference, Bruce.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun May 25th, 2008 at 09:43:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
neat thread, I am glad my relatively ignorant comment elicited such interesting responses.

my big-picture thought for the day (hardly a new one) in response to all this is that we maybe have a cart and horse problem when we blame bad action or attitudes on ideology or religion.  it seems to me that in most cases, religion (or ideology or any other such codified, institutionalised belief system) evolves to explain or to justify a structure of power and privilege (and the bad actions and attitudes that go with 'em), or to bolster the spirits of those living in resistance to (or grim endurance of) a system of power and privilege.  there's a religion for the Haves and a religion for the Haven'ts, and they tell different stories.  the Have religion tells us that God intended the Haves to own the world, and this is the natural order of things.  the Haven't religion challenges this and says that the Haves are sinful in their greed and selfishness and God wants them to share.  and variations on these two themes seem to be pretty much the building blocks of codified religion.

hence it seems offtarget to me to say simply, "neoliberals think as they do (with all the victim-blaming and greed-worship and all the rest) because they are heirs to a Calvinist tradition that dominated UK/US culture since the 1600s, and this belief system conditions their actions," when that tradition (which I'm simplifying by calling it Calvinist, but this is broad brush stuff) itself was "invented" or forged to suit the self-exculpatory and/or subversive (of an established prior power structure) needs of a powerful/privileged class -- the same class of rentiers and factory owners who still control our world.  their religion will always justify their position and their entitlements;  that's what codified, institutionalised belief systems are for... it's a Have religion.

christianity, in this frame, starts as a marginal cult of hope and encouragement for an occupied people under brutal martial law;  morphs into a state religion for a feudal elite under Constantine and thereafter morphs again and again as each new class of arrivistes gets their mitts on the doctrine.  meanwhile it goes on, along a divergent path, being a marginal theology of resistance to power and privilege (liberation theology in Latin America for example, condemned and disowned by the established Catholic Church).  I think one could rightly claim that the resistant or subversive version is more authentic, i.e. true to its origins;  but then all relgions have to start somewhere, and anywhere they start they are going to be a minority (by definition), so they all have to start in resistance and subversion, no?

anyway, this probably makes me an unrepentant structuralist, but I think people not only act as they act because they believe as they believe -- I think they believe as they need to believe to justify or explain their actions to themselves and the world.  which makes belief systems even harder to wrestle with, because there is more attached to them than "just" belief.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Mon May 26th, 2008 at 01:39:13 PM EST
I think people not only act as they act because they believe as they believe -- I think they believe as they need to believe to justify or explain their actions to themselves and the world.  which makes belief systems even harder to wrestle with, because there is more attached to them than "just" belief.

I couldn't agree more.  Everyone wants to think well of themselves and will go to amazing lengths to do so.  I call this The First Law of Narcissism.  I endeavor, sometimes successfully, to keep it from becoming a zero sum game. I am thinking of creating a diary around this subject. (Don't all wince at once!)

Your comment/question and my inadequate response(s) have certainly generated a lot of comments.  I have learned more than I have offered here and am in your debt for much of that.  Thanks

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon May 26th, 2008 at 03:00:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
de piles on the pith...

wasn't it borges who said 'man is not a rational being, he's a rationalising one'?

sure fits with what you say, and with what i believe about early religion.

i wonder what line is crossed when a culture becomes religion...

when a slew of battle chants, mourning laments, epic hero bardism, harvest celebration, and raindancing snaps through into a theology, cosmology and dogma.

what starts off unaffectedly numinous, becomes fodder for machinatory , doctrinal, factional, heirarchic power-freakery.

what started off subversive, is castrated and 'new-speaked' into a status quo-supporting, unabrasive series of (supposedly) moral axioms, that do little for spiritual growth, and much to conserve and consolidate capital in the soft hands of the few.

what form will the next 'subversive' religion take?

are we looking at it now?

if so, what is the grail, if not the collective power to effect revolution gently, by dint of sheer numbers?

not make the mistake so many religions made, of cultifying personality, and thus offering easy targets.

euro news has no anchors, i think the religion of fairness and human rights needs no 'leaders', but a bunch of people who know where they/we want to go without 'big daddies' to tell us.

let's let the ideas do the leading, and keep pruning back the desire to put anyone on pedestals, because we all know how that tale ends...

multinoded, packets flying....napsterised!

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue May 27th, 2008 at 03:40:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]

i wonder what line is crossed when a culture becomes religion...

According to Voltaire, "religion began when the first priest gulled the first peasant."  (quote from memory)

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jun 20th, 2008 at 12:55:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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