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An Alternative?

by afew Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 05:56:10 AM EST

At the end of the other week's discussion of what to do with capitalism (W(h)ither Capitalism?), Migeru said this:

Migeru:

...the left will not make gains in this crisis and the post-crisis will be worse. A coherent and credible left alternative needs to be put in place for the next crisis, which may follow in relatively short order given that the right will come reinforced out of the current crisis.

Is there already a coherent and credible left alternative? If not, what should be its basic tenets? What narrative should it develop?


Display:
Whether we want to do away with capitalism or just regulate it, we're unlikely to have the power to do either without attention to these questions.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 05:59:09 AM EST
this article made me ask myself some hard questions:

Electric Politics | Down and Out on the European Animal Farm

There is discontent within the German working class at their country's policies aimed at shrinking wages and social benefits for the sake of selling abroad. In an ideal "social Europe", workers in Germany would come to the aid of workers in Greece by demanding a radical revision of economic policy, away from catering to the international financial markets toward building a solid social democracy. The reality is quite different.

The Greek financial crisis exposes the absence of any real community spirit in the EU. The "solidarity" declared by the country's EU partners is a solidarity with their own investments. There is no popular solidarity between peoples. The EU has established a surrogate ideology of internationalism: rejection of the nation-state as source of all evil, a pompous pride in "Europe" as the center of human rights, giver of moral lessons to the world, which happens to fit in perfectly with its subservience to United States imperial foreign policy in the Middle East and beyond. The paradox is that European unification has coincided with decreasing curiosity in the larger EU states about what happens to their neighbors. Despite a certain amount of specialized training needed to create a Eurocrat class, the general population of each EU member is only superficially acquainted with the others. They see them as teams in soccer matches. They go on holiday around the Mediterranean, but this mostly involves meeting fellow tourists, and study of foreign languages has declined, except for English (omnipresent, if mangled). Mass media news reports are turned inward, featuring missing children and pedophiles ahead of even major political events in other EU member states.

Northern European media portray Greece practically as a Third World country, peripheral and picturesque, where people speak an impossible language, dance in circles on islands, and live beyond their means in their carefree way. The crickets in the Aesop fable, scorned by the assiduous ants. Media in Germany and the Netherlands imply that IMF-style shock treatment is almost too good for them. The widening polarization between rich and poor, between and within EU member states, is taken for granted.

The smaller indebted countries within the EU are amiably designated by the English-speaking financial priesthood as the PIGS -- Portugal, Italy (perhaps Ireland), Greece, Spain -- an appropriate designation for an animal farm where some are so much more equal than others.

if workers realised their concerns were globalised into default international trade exigencies, perhaps a new solidarity could occur.

i hope if there is more widespread unrest, that workers will reach out to each other internationally more, because although the gist of this article goes against my grain, i think it's worth taking on board.

the EU was convened by elites for their greater business convenience, can it inspire europeans to unite and provide a counterforce to the 'new colonists' who squeeze whole countries like a sponge, or have the levers of power been sequestered from the common citizen to the point that we approach a kind of economic totalitarianism, with the have-nots perceived as 'others'?

on some levels it's just another snide shot at the EU from stateside, but it does expose how badly some form of (i hate to use the word) class consciousness that transcends national boundaries better in the EU.

as capitalism as we know it is breaking on shoals of resource limits, there is a need for intellectual innovation and creativity to prepare to answer the large numbers who will awaken to politics in the next years, who will need to understand the history of how we ended up here.

good new ideas, well communicated, on this will hinge much of our destiny, as we approach ultimate convergence.

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 10:30:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Where to begin?

Some starting points:

  • Full world and resource constraints
  • Markets are tools to be properly regulated for benefit to society
  • Strengthen the publics influence over public affairs
  • A civilized society does not let its people go hungry, freeze, lack basic medical attention or access to education
  • Information technology is a tool for communication, not consumerism and surveillance

Hm, I think I will have to get back to this later.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 07:33:27 AM EST
I think you should. The Nordics have something to contribute in the way of a social plan - even though it might not be working as well as it did.

What has been allowed to happen in the Nordic cultures, over several decades, is acceptance of increasing wage disparity. Top 10% v bottom 10% has been about 48:1. (versus something like 400:1 in the UK). I would suggest that the disparity has increased, though I haven't found any figures to prove it.

I repeat what I've said recently, that there are historical reasons for the evolution of the Scandinavia and Finland social/cultural model. I doubt if the model can be easily overlaid on some other existing culture. But I see no impediment for the adoption of some of the social experiments that the Nordics have found successful.

One which comes to mind is a prison system focused on rehabilitation, not punishment. Another is the mass transport systems in the metropolitan areas. Bringing growing nature into cities is another.

I look forward to your diary...

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 10:50:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Most of the evils under which we suffer today are exponentiated by the powers given corporations:

  • In the US they have civil rights equal to those of the citizen

  • They are or can be transnational in character.

  • They are legally immortal.

  • They have limited liability.

  • As practiced in the USA, given profitability, they are and can be run mostly for the benefit of the top executives. Responsibility to shareholders is very difficult to enforce.

  • They serve as the chief vehicles for the domination of national governments by tiny elites of wealth and power.

Want a simple program that will strike at the heart of the existing system:

ABOLISH CORPORATIONS AS WE KNOW THEM!

In their place grant individual specific powers now held by corporations subject to substantial taxation, regulation and limitations:

  • Only individual adult citizens can participate in and contribute to political activities in any state.

  • Compensation is limited by law to a single digit multiple of the wages paid the lowest paid employee.

  • Violation of either of the above provisions results in jail time and a lifetime ban on further corporate involvement of any sort.

  • Corporations are chartered for a fixed length of time and are subject to popular veto by referendum of the renewal of this charter.

  • Corporations are chartered for operation only within the borders of the country wherein they are domiciled absent specific agreements between countries that harmonize the regulations. These agreements can be annulled individually at any time by popular referendum in any individual country.

  • Charter requirements for corporations must require that they operate in the public interest first and only then can they seek profit. Individual citizens and state chartered regulatory bodies have legal standing to sue corporations for damaging the interests of individuals or the general public. Re-internalize what are now "externalities".

That is at least a start. Alternatively, we could require people to do business under their own names and at their own risk.

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 Mar 2nd, 2010 at 06:18:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent comments, ARGeezer.

I would add another possible recommendation:  Get rid of corporate stock altogether.  Or, if you must have stock, the only people who are allowed to own it must be employees of the company/organization.  And if any one member/employee of the company/organization owns stock, then all member/employees must own stock, either in equal amounts, or in proportion to how long they have been working there.  Once they leave, then their stock would be returned to the organization/company.

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 07:13:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ARGeezer:
ABOLISH CORPORATIONS AS WE KNOW THEM!

We have.

The US made them obsolete when they introduced the LLC, and the UK went one better with the LLP.

Corporations are the walking dead.

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

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 07:32:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unfortunately, corporations are the walking dead in the World of the Zombies and the living are hard to find. Point me towards a living replacement in which I can safely invest here in the USA.

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 Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 10:10:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
* In a civilized society the best do not merrily strive for their own benefit only, but for that of society as a whole.
by Joost van der Lugt on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 12:53:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Welcome to ET, Joost.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 02:02:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you Afew.
by Joost van der Lugt on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 12:57:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The first paragraph of the comment you quote was:
In a crisis the dominant meme may be replaced by a sub-dominant one, but it has to be there in the collective consciousness in the first place, and it wasn't
How are we going to ensure that "the alternative" propagates?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 10:57:13 AM EST
How are we going to ensure that "the alternative" propagates?

Alternative or alternatives?  I think that we all may be off in drawing the analogy between our own times and the 1930s.

What if instead the more apt comparison is to the 1920s?

There is a tendency to draw the line between the 20th and 21st centuries in 1989, because of the collapse of Communism.  

But...... what if that's wrong, because the line couldn't be drawn until capitalism, as well as communism, had fallen into crisis?

The implication being that we are now entering a period in which the old order is dying or dead, and the possibility of alternative world orders is rising.  

At the moment, there's nothing in Europe or the US like the social experimentation that took place in Argentina in 2001.

But, remember.  Argentina's crisis began in 1997, it took 4 long years to develop into its full potential for social transformation.

On that time line, we've still got some time before the real trouble starts to brew.  And believe you me, it will.  Whether it's sovereign debt defaults, or the coming commercial real estate (CRE) crisis in the US, the crisis isn't over.

What we see around us is the collapse of financialized capitalism.  The real ticking time bomb is this CRE crisis in the US.  Why?

Because CRE is concentrated in smaller, regional, banks that are less able to absorb the body blow brought on when a large part of your loans are in default.  Second, because this will exacerbate the credit crunch.  The Spanish have the right idea.  Until the private sector can get on to its feet, have the government step in to provide short term financing to small business.

We ain't seen nothing yet, Mig.  A second recession starting this year, coming so close on the heels of the last, could push up unemployment in the US and Europe even higher.  

Crisis implies a breach with normality, and so long as ordinary working people see the possibility of an exit from their suffering through the unregulated operation of the market, they aren't going to demand change.  It's when they see no such exit, that the crisis is real.  And when the crisis is real, the doors to systemic change can be broke open.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 12:01:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Robert Owen started writing around 1820 and it took a century or so to form the first minority Socialist government in the UK, and another 25 years and a world war to win an outright majority.

Large and really quite interesting graph here.

What's interesting is that radical socialism has come and largely gone, but the UK Establishment hasn't really changed. It's still colonial, still propagated through public schools, still propped up with a sense of inherent entitlement that hasn't faded.

Meanwhile the US seems to have a more virulent version of the same infection.

Alternative narratives won't stick unless they change everything. Creating a political counterforce isn't enough - social values and goals and political mechanisms have to be completely transformed into something new that isn't just another spin around the same old revolutionary wheel.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 01:29:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
Creating a political counterforce isn't enough

that's the trap, and the only way forward without tumbling into it (again) i see is to insist that energy trumps politics, every flaming time.

unfortunately the hologram still looks solid enough to enough people, so the mass impetus for serious change is still untapped.

look at the usa, where obama swore blind that it would be all change, and how few people are even riding him about it when the status quo continues to be about token/little change.

people are only just starting to get it, and half of those are pulling the proverbial sheets over their heads, and most of the remaining half falling into the trap you infer.

politics-as-is propounds -and compounds- the problems, and yet is well-defended against change, no matter how much lip service...

some of their best defence in fact comes from their co-opting activist energy and dragging it into the political arena, where it is harmlessly and impotently diffused (and defused) on puppet popularity pageantry.

that's why the old nostalgic left has no heft any more, not because we are against evil geniuses so much, as the middle class has absorbed so much comfort and convenience it can't relate to a workers' party with dignity, just as unions have lost their allure through similar influences. i remember back in the early seventies, when unions leaders started to drive the same fancy sedans as the bosses, and wear slick suits. the cloth cap era was over, keir hardie rolling in his grave...

there used to be more solidarity with working class, who had their shopfloor pride in achievement, but now that is gone through precarious nature of most employment, the poor have become more helpless, because they have bought the bullshit that it is their own fault and failure to be cunning enough to navigate the job market, not the structure itself that is loaded against fairness.

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 05:03:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy: What's interesting is that radical socialism has come and largely gone, but the UK Establishment hasn't really changed.

But quality of life has improved for the vast majority of the UK population, hasn't it?

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 07:42:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're optimistic if you think ordinary working people will be allowed to see the non-possibility of an exit from their suffering through the more-or-less status quo, what you mis-describe as the "unregulated operation of the market."

Pessimistically assuming the mainstream media will not allow us to see alternatives outside those proposed by the major and corporate-money-dominated political parties, ordinary people will feel something is terribly wrong but will not be allowed to see exactly what that is.

I'm not sure how 'we' are gonna be handled by 'them': through a series of short-term measures, throwing scape goats to the blind masses' inarticulate anger? But 'we' need a strong, pithy, hit 'em where it counts message that can break through in the very small space we'll be allowed in most ordinary people's mainstream media world. The left, from what I see in the English-language alternative press, is a complete fail on the message front right now.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 03:36:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're optimistic if you think ordinary working people will be allowed to see the non-possibility of an exit from their suffering through the more-or-less status quo, what you mis-describe as the "unregulated operation of the market."

Two words: Shit happens.  

What I'm saying is that we are entering a period in which the scale of economic problems is going to shatter expectations.  

I'm not sure how 'we' are gonna be handled by 'them': through a series of short-term measures, throwing scape goats to the blind masses' inarticulate anger? But 'we' need a strong, pithy, hit 'em where it counts message that can break through in the very small space we'll be allowed in most ordinary people's mainstream media world. The left, from what I see in the English-language alternative press, is a complete fail on the message front right now.

Yes.  I don't think that a doctrinaire Marxist message is the answer though.  As far as I'm concerned, Marxism and capitalism share a common flaw in their support for utilitarianism.

What use is an equal distribution of wealth if the process by which nature and man are converted into commodities is not stopped?

For me, exploitation isn't the principal issue.  It's a big one, but before we talk about how to divide up the pie, we need to have a discussion about what economies exist for.

I subscribe to the view that the reason that economies exist is to provide the material means of a society's existence. As such, the presumption of that growth is always good goes out the window.

Commodification is the issue that matters, and it is something that occurred both in capitalist and communist economies in the 20th century.  Labor as a product can't be separated from the people who sell it.  To imply that it should be treated no different than anything else ignores that men were not created to supply the needs of markets, but rather markets were created to supply the needs of men.  Same thing with nature.

I have been heavily influenced by Karl Polanyi, and I think that the strain of socialism he proposed is the future.  There is a commonality in this rejection of commodification with traditionalist critiques of capitalism, which means that people of faith can be made allies of the Left, because there is agreement that treating people and nature as products is wrong.  Who gives a damn why we all can agree on that, so long as we can?

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 03:56:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the problem with communism (the Soviet Union sort) is that it doesn't deal with the power concentration problem. Which inevitably leads to bureaucratic dictatorship and an end to popular control, wealth and status concentrated in a small elite, and so on.

While in the popular mind communism = the Soviet Union, of course in fact there are many communisms. Nonetheless, political marketing wise, 'communism' is a no go.

Anyway, as I've said, I think "back to the postwar golden age" is a good, solid basic message that most people can get a quick grip on. We should add a fix for what ultimately destroyed that era, the should-be-illegal electoral influence of big business (and its desire for more for them and their investors and less for the rest of us). Who isn't nostalgic for, say, mid-60s Scandinavia?

But, I can see we're coming from radically different places.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 04:18:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
fairleft: I think the problem with communism (the Soviet Union sort) is that it doesn't deal with the power concentration problem.

That is a problem for all political systems, isn't it?  And while some might be better than others at delaying its onset, it nevertheless inexorably appears.

Which is why I am intrigued by the buzz phrase "peer-to-peer" as a potential paradigm for social organization on a massive scale.  Is it coherent?  Is it feasible?  Only time will tell.  But so far, I don't see any previous or existing systems that successfully address the power concentration problem.

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 08:23:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
great question

marco:

Which is why I am intrigued by the buzz phrase "peer-to-peer" as a potential paradigm for social organization on a massive scale.  Is it coherent?  Is it feasible?  Only time will tell.  But so far, I don't see any previous or existing systems that successfully address the power concentration problem.

i get it (i think) by looking at it through the energy lens.

we all need energy, first of all our own life force, and the wherewithal to maximise its successful longevity.

that wherewithal consists primarily of clean air, water and food, then shelter, heat, enough (but not too much) comfort. all else is vanity, frankly.

sooo...we want to ensure the most reliable systems are put into place to sustain our existences, with the accent on reliable, so we can live serenely, and just have to deal with extrinsic threats, the intrinsic ones well-covered.

so where is my energy going to come from? the air i choose to live with and in, the water i choose to drink, the food from my trees and garden, all fine...

but the gas for my chainsaw so i can stay warm in winter, some transport so i can stay in touch physically with the world around, yet beyond easy walking distance, some electricity to power a few toys/tools, and of these electricity and transport are the hardest to imagine efficiently working once the fossil fool party winds down, so where is that juice going to come from?

i can try and lower my needs as much as possible, which definitely helps, put solar panels on my roof for some electricity, ride my horse instead of going for a drive etc etc, but i still will not be able to create everything i want out of whole cloth, (or bubblegum, string and woodashes!), so i need a network that will supply me.

researching this, it became quickly clear that centralised energy systems are less robust than decentralised ones, and from then on i started reading about how this works across the board, decentralised intelligence is more robust than locking it all in libraries which can burn down etc.

then the napster thingy happened, and i grocked another level of the principle, namely if we all help out in a positive direction, we can make the individual loads very light, yet have a lot of lifting power.

i learn a lot from sven and chris about this stuff, and am ever more convinced that this is the real reason for the internet, empowering individuals to bypass inefficient middlemen tollbooth topdown power, and tailor systems to dovetail more exactly with our needs.

this will work much better once we consign the idea of consumerism to the pyre of history, a revelation that is coming perilously late to humanity, but it would grow anyway even in the present reality, if it is as sound as it seems.

so why not extend the principle across the political gameboard too?

maybe/surely a one world government as brain, like brussels to europe, but with as much devolution of centralised power as possible, as much 'think global, act local, small is beautiful' as possible.

nature works like this...

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 09:28:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Post-revolution constitutions have to address and fix the power concentration directly, in the media, industry, and political parties. All three have been a catastrophe here in the States.

I don't think concentration of power is an inevitability. For example, politically it's not difficult to assure a 4 strong parties political system, simply by assuring the three parties in a 'congressional district' with the most votes get seats in parliament/congress. Boom, you've got a 4 or 5 party political system, and 2-party concentration of power of the sort we have in the U.S. is impossible.

Media ownership could be diversified by simply requiring, for example, one owner per media entity. You could diversify local media by, for example, sharing ownership of one tv station or newspaper among several owners, each of which would get, say 25% of 'airtime'. Industry concentration could be assured by writing very aggressive anti-trust laws into your constitution and even providing for 'private enforcement' through lawsuits.

None of this is hard to think up (or re-think up), the hard part is getting 'there'.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 02:23:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
do you know of any places that have implemented some form (even if imperfect) of these proposals, whether in government, industry or media?

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.
by marco on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 02:30:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Antitrust laws at one time in the states were strong and getting stronger. They're still fairly strong in the EU. The FCC at one time had very restrictive media ownership laws. The FCC and US courts, basically, over the years have been subjected to 'regulatory capture', more or less, and also (or altnernatively), victims of the 'market fundamentalism' ideology. And so U.S. antitrust law and media ownership 'restrictions' are now a joke. But, neither phenomenon was inevitable, and would not have happened, imho, except for campaign financing laws that in fact legalize bribery.

I don't know so much about electoral laws, but I don't think my ideas or anything reasonably close have been put into practice. When a party comes into power, or when two parties dominate the political system, they always will refuse to change that arrangement. So, as I began my comment on this, these are 'post-revolutionary' ideas, especially the ones concerning electoral representation.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 03:47:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with the view that the economy is for 'provisioning'. I explain this view slightly differently, by analogy with a home: business and trade is the plumbing, wiring, sanitation and services of the home. This 'provisioning' is essential to the dignified running of the home, but not the reason the house was built.

The only advertising in this ideal home, simply says hot and cold, or on and off.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 04:20:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Markets should exist so that people can do other, more interesting things.

But that doesn't deal with the psychological and social reality of exploitation, and dominance-based relationships.

The problem for the left and the right has been to see capitalism and communism as opposites. In reality they're almost identical - both assume that industry is good, collective work is good, increased living standards are the best possible good, and that if this means that an aristocracy develops - the aristocracy will always tell you that's good too.

I don't think it's possible to imagine post-capitalism from this starting point. If there's a new vision it has to be completely original, and not based on any of the old dialectics or utopias.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 04:59:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem for the left and the right has been to see capitalism and communism as opposites. In reality they're almost identical - both assume that industry is good, collective work is good, increased living standards are the best possible good, and that if this means that an aristocracy develops - the aristocracy will always tell you that's good too.

Precisely.

Consider the implications of that.

If the problem is a shared belief in growth, then an effective new synthesis is going to have to tackle that.  It's going to have to challenge the idea that growth is always a good thing.  Think about energy debates.

So much of policy is directed towards increasing supply, instead of reducing demand.

As I remember Colman commenting in a threat about the import of roses for Valentine's Day to the UK producing less carbon than greenhouse production:

What if we just decide that we don't need roses for Valentine's day?

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 05:10:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Growth is good because it obviates the need to share. Where there is no growth greed becomes very problematic.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 05:15:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
one kernel of corn turns to 100 in a season, all our problems have come from trying for more, greedy desires, and spending our wealth gambling on probability games instead of investing that time and capital into sensible, sophisticated-yet-simple infrastructure.

that's what happens when you give matches to kids...

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 09:34:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ManfromMiddletown:
What if we just decide that we don't need roses for Valentine's day?

why don't we grow our own, and make every day st valentine's?

;)

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 09:31:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Utopias are utopias because they make unrealistic assumptions about people. So a viable alternative must be based on a good understanding of human nature and its complexity. Too many social theories are built on cartoon descriptions of what "people" are or behave like.

One example of making realistic assumptions about people is by James Madison in Federalist 51 as a justification for the US' system of "checks and balances":

But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.


En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 05:14:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed. And if there's a likely expansion of that theme, it's the reality and necessity of symbiosis and interdependence, both between people and other people, and between people and the rest of the ecosphere.

The EU is a very weak prototype for that model, but it still features a very understated hint of something that could become more explicit and influential.

Previous systems have been based on winner takes all - but it's never been stated explicitly that where winners take all, eventually everyone loses, including the 'winners'.

The problem is religious - people act out devotion to unconscious ego ideals. Just because the ideals aren't named as gods doesn't mean they don't serve the function.

The capitalist ego is desperate to prove that it control and triumph over its surroundings at almost any cost. The communist ego is desperate to prove that it's every bit as legitimate as the capitalist ego.

Both are none too sane.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 05:40:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy: The problem for the left and the right has been to see capitalism and communism as opposites. In reality they're almost identical - both assume that <...> collective work is good ...

ThatBritGuy: the reality and necessity of symbiosis and interdependence <...> between people and other people ...

Can you explain what you mean by 'collective work' and 'symbiosis and interdependence between people and other people', and why the former is suspect but the latter are "necessary"?

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 08:16:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One is regimented and organised and has traditionally been industrial, centralised, and motivated by hierarchy. The other is organic, freeform, and emergent.

One of the lies of the previous millennium is that hierarchy is the only way to organise effort. In reality hierarchy is inherently chaotic and wasteful. Wars and economic crises are the only possible outcome of hierarchical organisation, because once a hierarchy exists, it becomes necessary to defend it, and (for some people) to climb to the top of it.

Spontaneous self-organisation is a different model. It might or might not work, but symbiosis is much more fundamental to biological reality than individualised competition.

You can remove all of the competition from an ecology, and it will still function as an ecology - and not necessarily a static one.

You can't remove cooperation and symbiosis from an ecology. Without interdependence, everything dies.

Since we're really living in an ecology and economics is just a slightly surreal story we're telling ourselves, it makes more sense to deal with the reality than the fantasy.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 09:28:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You can remove all of the competition from an ecology, and it will still function as an ecology - and not necessarily a static one.

Example, please?

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 Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 10:43:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spontaneous self-organisation in humans seem to tend to lead to hierarchies of one sort or another. As I keep saying, spontaneous self-organisation is how we got where we are.

One of the lies of the present millennium is that spontaneous self-organisation is new magic.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 10:50:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spontaneous self-organization is what your brain does all the time, as it has done for all your ancestors. It's your problem if it has lead to a hierarchy in your own case. My 'lie' of the millennium is the revelation of that fact, not its concealment.

Take your circle of friends, for example. Do you have a hierarchy? Or do you see each other as equals - sharing and cooperating? Do you have fun together? Do you flock? Yes - friends are continuously and spontaneously self-organizing. It's magic and it has always been magic. And for friends, it has never been concealed.

In what way could the power of this type of organization - in friendship - become a model for other types of organizations?

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 04:38:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are always people who want to assert their status in an implicit hierarchy, for various reasons.

True self-organisation includes the option not to participate, or to participate in alternative contexts, and is likely to interpret them as damage and route around them.

This already happens online - which is a good seed laboratory for some of these ideas - when some people troll for status, and other people ignore them or humour them.

You can't have useful self organisation without informed awareness of context. There's rather more to it than banding together for survival and knocking heads in when someone gets in your way.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 05:34:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
[Woo-Woo Alert]

This comment immediately recalled to me one you made three years ago (and sort of jolted me at the time).  Below I am juxtaposing parts of your two comments to highlight what appears might be an evolution in your thoughts on this matter, which have always interested me a lot (and which I have on occasion nagged you to diary up):

You can remove all of the competition from an ecology, and it will still function as an ecology - and not necessarily a static one.

You can't remove cooperation and symbiosis from an ecology. Without interdependence, everything dies.

Since we're really living in an ecology and economics is just a slightly surreal story we're telling ourselves, it makes more sense to deal with the reality than the fantasy.

<...>

I don't think the ecological model is really all that new. Wired has been implicitly banging on about Darwinian economics almost since it started, and 'competition' is often understood in Darwinian terms. You don't have to look hard to find business people talking about ecologies and niches.

Like a lot of business thought this is really just pseudo-science - a poorly understood pastiche of a complicated body work used to legitimise class violence with a bit of convenient narrative hand-waving and stretchy metaphor. It's occasionally entertaining, especially if you're the one who's selling it. What it isn't, in any way, is rigorous or scientific.

Spontaneous self-organisation is a different model [from the hierarchical model]. It might or might not work, but symbiosis is much more fundamental to biological reality than individualised competition.That aside - you've explained perfectly why I'm not instantly wowed by self-organisation, or any other algorithm or buzz-concept du jour.
Re: collective work, symbiosis - ThatBritGuy (Wed Mar 3rd, 2010)Re: "Edge of Chaos" Economy - ThatBritGuy (Fri Dec 29th, 2006)

I think the overall angles at which you were writing these two comments were quite different.  In the first one, I think you were criticizing sloppy and opportunistic appeals to "models from nature" to justify a Darwinian, competition-based framing of economics, while in this current comment, you are opposing one particular "model from nature" (the symbiotic, cooperative model, rather than the "nature, red in tooth and claw" model) to the utterly non-naturalistic hierarchical/centralized view of economics, and in fact were implicitly arguing for the replacement of the latter with the former.  In other words, in the first comment, the object of your criticism was the "darwinistic" model of economics, and in your second comment you were criticizing the "hierarchical/centralized" model of economics.

However, though you put more import on symbiosis and cooperation than on "self-organization", is it fair to read your last paragraph as indicating that you are more open to self-organization as playing a significant role in the economic environment (ecology!) that any human society must exist in (especially as you contrast self "spontaneous self-organization" with the hierarchically motivated model)?

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 10:58:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think - it was a while ago now - that the first comment was about self-organisation being sold as a panacea in a corporate context.

Corporations are inherently hierarchical so it makes no sense to pretend that they will self-organise. Many of the dynamics in corporations are implicitly about maintaining hierarchy, even at the expense of real world productivity.

At the same corporations like to pretend that they're competitive and edgy places, so they're perpetually co-opting outside new-ish and interesting-sounding concepts in a very superficial way - in the same way that many corporations give to charity, but would never dream of changing business practices that would make certain kinds of charity unnecessary.

So change of the kind that would be demanded by real self-organisation is never - well, hardly ever - a realistic possibility. At best it may be applied to one or two levels of the hierarchy.

Complete cultural self-organisation would mean something else entirely, building spontaneous, possibly short-lived, communities of interest for the purposes of innovation, creativity, fun, entertainment, research, and other things that are often surprisingly regulated now.

This happens in a limited way on some of the social networks. Events trend, they attract flocks of interest, a few individuals may become prominent commentators, occasionally some real social pressure is applied to individuals and organisations.

But the organisation - such as it - is impermanent and informal. People can leave or join at any time. There's no charter, no constitution, no mission statement - but lives change and things get done.

Symbiosis takes that a stage further by acknowledging the reality and value of the physical and other connections between all participants and their environment.

At which point two things can happen. One is that hierarchical participation stops being the only way to win status games, which makes existing hierarchies less potent. The other is the possibility of a symbiosis dividend.

If you free up inventive talent and remove the hierarchies that enforce destructive and stupid decisions, a lot of futures become possible that aren't possible now.

It's probably not even possible from here to imagine what the benefits of that might be.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 05:28:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
;-)

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.
by marco on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 08:04:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And over 225 years out of date, too.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 09:25:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
I don't think it's possible to imagine post-capitalism from this starting point.

well, it is a moving starting collection of points, but i agree fundamentally.

there are times when closing apps, (or opening new ones) will not suffice, a reboot is what's needed.

ever use disc warrior?

there's an app worth opening, perhaps there is a socio-techno-political equivalent event/person/group that will shoehorn us to the next level without the blue screen, but but but....

something like what chris espouses and expounds might work, but things will have to get a lot worse before serious people in serious numbers begin to want to upgrade capitalism, which is basically what 'his' system would do, without a lot of muss, at least in theory. everything has some shadow. or am i trapped in zero-sum thinking, bullshit bingo?

could there be a 'system' where everybody wins, or if we got that far as to be able to (re?)create that, would we transcend needing a strong cohesive system?

maybe a multiplicity of co-existing new-but-reminiscent 'systems' would be more robust anyway, since concentrated power leads to concentrated corruption...

it may be the type of phenomenon that only functions if not too many people use it, permitted to 99 monkeys but not the hundreth.

like a picturesque side road, that if discovered by too many, would become just another boring, toll-heavy turnpike.

or it may serve as a speed bump, lasting as long as it takes for the graders from coldman-sacks-and-plunders to arrive and shave it down. hard to say...

the intellectual challenge is to find a new system that partakes of the old, (less intrinsic shock, to balance the increasing extrinsic ones), yet sets off in a radical enough new direction to guarantee that if we make more mistakes, at least they will be different ones from the same rotten old chestnuts we have had the ill chance to be hitherto attracted to.

ThatBritGuy:

But that doesn't deal with the psychological and social reality of exploitation, and dominance-based relationships.

power-over instead of power-with. the love of power, or the power of love.

have to raise (yes we)-cannier future generations!

completely original, or a great remix that feels and acts like one, does it matter? how many would know it's instant?

live, or memorex?

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 08:44:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All life is growth. Growth stops when an organism dies and becomes the building blocks of some other growth. An organism (or group of organisms) can die for a number of reasons: reaching the limits of resources needed for growth, disease (another type of growth), deterioration of cells (breakdown of DNA), direct killing (i.e harvesting) or indirect killing (accident or catastrophe) etc.

Even the concept of sustainable growth is suspect at the Tellurian scale. "In the long run, the planet is dead", but not on the cosmic scale.

For humans, what is 'sustainable growth'? It's clear to me that this is what we have to address. And the best start to that is understanding the 'life' cycles of everything. Where does something come from, how is it used, what are the other consequences of its use, what happens to it when it is no longer used, where does it go when it is no longer used.

There is no cornucopia, though most people are so disconnected from the reality of lifecycles that they think there is.

The Finnish cornucopia was called the Sampo - a magical artefact. The last few lines of this extract are an economical system ;-)

"Ilmarinen, worthy brother,
Thou the only skilful blacksmith,
Go and see her wondrous beauty,
See her gold and silver garments,
See her robed in finest raiment,
See her sitting on the rainbow,
Walking on the clouds of purple.
Forge for her the magic Sampo,
Forge the lid in many colors,
Thy reward shall be the virgin,
Thou shalt win this bride of beauty;
Go and bring the lovely maiden
To thy home in Kalevala."

On one side the flour is grinding,
On another salt is making,
On a third is money forging,
And the lid is many-colored.
Well the Sampo grinds when finished,
To and fro the lid in rocking,
Grinds one measure at the day-break,
Grinds a measure fit for eating,
Grinds a second for the market,
Grinds a third one for the store-house.

The Sampo is not a magical artefact. The Sampo is community.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 03:20:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I forgot to add that those lines come from the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala.

Because the mythology in the epic poem goes back at least to the Iron Age, and was instrumental in coagulating the Finns' national awakening to independence, the Kalevala is also important to understanding how the present Finnish culture emerged.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 05:43:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
melo:

something like what chris espouses and expounds might work, but things will have to get a lot worse before serious people in serious numbers begin to want to upgrade capitalism, which is basically what 'his' system would do, without a lot of muss, at least in theory. everything has some shadow. or am i trapped in zero-sum thinking, bullshit bingo?

could there be a 'system' where everybody wins, or if we got that far as to be able to (re?)create that, would we transcend needing a strong cohesive system?

What made hotmail, skype, facebook and all the rest spread virally is what will drive next generation finance. ie ease of use, and a compelling and totally self evident 'value proposition'.

For banks, the value proposition of the Peer to Peer Finance model is that they don't need to risk their (ever shrinking) capital by basing credit creation upon it.

Banks as credit managers/service providers need only enough to cover operating costs eg staff and management.....

....who would soon realise that they don't actually need a shareholder monkey on their shoulder, either....

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

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 07:30:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
wonderful comment.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 05:13:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ManfromMiddletown:
people of faith can be made allies of the Left

two horns, one skull...

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 09:08:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ManfromMiddletown: What use is an equal distribution of wealth if the process by which nature and man are converted into commodities is not stopped?

Agree that the level of commodification of nature growing exponentially since the 18th century is unprecedented.

As for the commodification of humans, I think you have to demonstrate that humans are today more "commodified" than they have been in previous eras of civilization.  Does slavery count as human commodification?  How about feudalism?  How about pre-20th century industrial workers?

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 07:57:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Corporatism, slavery and feudalism are largely interchangeable. It doesn't matter whether freedom is limited by physical force or by the threat of physical force, mediated by justice.

Most people work for a small minority of high caste owners. Given the choice I'd guess most people would rather do something different - but that freedom is not available.

What's different now is the global and unified nature of corporatism. It's almost literally impossible to live outside it. Even if you aim for nominal self-sufficiency, you'll still be buying tools and supplies created by corporatised work practices.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 09:34:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As for the commodification of humans, I think you have to demonstrate that humans are today more "commodified" than they have been in previous eras of civilization.  Does slavery count as human commodification?  How about feudalism?  How about pre-20th century industrial workers?

In the case of slavery, if we are talking about the type of plantation slavery that existed in the New World in the 18th and 19th centuries, yes.  Because it implied ownership.

But, for feudalism, the idea wasn't so much that the person was owned as property so much as that there was a direct relationship in which one was subordinate.  That idea is at odds with the liberal principle that people are autonomous, so how does capitalism create workforces in which large groups are directed small numbers of employers?  They stick money in the middle.  Wages replace the idea that you are duty bound to provide service as the way in which a small group of people take the value created by the much larger group.

What makes capitalism distinct is that it places that principle that workers should have no say in the workplace on liberal footing by saying that while all are equal, people who have the money to purchase the labor of others are more equal.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 11:43:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What makes capitalism distinct is that it places that principle that workers should have no say in the workplace on liberal footing by saying that while all are equal, people who have the money to purchase the labor of others are more equal.

The US Constitution did not deal AT ALL with employment or how businesses operate. The discourse at that time did not have a proper vocabulary for that discussion. It was focused on generalizing political equality amongst a gentry and on pushing along the devolution of power from traditional feudal organizations based on birth to the emerging system of opportunity based on individual initiative and merit within the gentry. The one employment issue that was on everyone's mind was slavery, and they could not come to terms with that issue effectively and I am not aware of any other considerations of employment issues.

At the time of the writing of the US Constitution plantation agriculture was a slave based capitalist enterprise where planters made money off of self replicating workers by selling slaves born and raised on their plantation as a crop. That is what "I'm goin' down the river in the mornin'", as heard and included in his Florida Suite by Fredrick Delius was all about. In addition, of course, planters made money by selling the cash crops raised by slave labor. In the period before the Civil War Virginia planters made more money off of selling slaves than they did off of selling crops.

The other most notable large scale economic activity at the time of the Constitution was ship building, which was concentrated in the north and was partly organized along the lines of artisan guilds or groups with specialized skills some of whom had arrived soon after the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, although employment situations may have varied in other colonies, especially New York, which had the largest population of slaves in the north, many of whom were engaged in artisan activities, but also had the tradition of "half free" slaves.

The result of this is that when cloth manufacturing based on water powered spinning and looms emerged in 1814 in New England employers were at liberty to devise employment practices that best suited themselves and so they did--to their profit and convenience. In addition to the mill they would build a store, some tenements and a dormitory or boarding house, as the mill would be located acording to the availability of water power and might be distant from existing villages. They would also contribute one way or another to the support of the local school and a church of their choosing.

For a family the wages from the mill might be barely sufficient to subsistence, but to many farmers' daughters the mills offered a welcome alternative to the previous choices of marriage or domestic service, even if only to temporize the necessity of choosing. If they could still live at home they had the possibility of saving their earnings so as to open other opportunities. Throughout the 19th century the frontier remained available as a pressure valve.


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 Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 10:52:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ManfromMiddletown: there's nothing in Europe or the US like the social experimentation that took place in Argentina in 2001.

what has come out of that social experimentation?  anything that can be used on a broader scale?

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 07:39:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The lack of leadership, and beyond that the cynicism and malfeasance, seem to be the products of total pessimism among the elites in business and politics: pessimism in positive social outlook of global capitalism, in global warming, in energy resources.
by Upstate NY on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 12:24:14 PM EST
The obvious thing to do is focus on returning social policy to (best of) the years 1946-1973 (or so). Internationalism rather than globalization, national sovereignty. End globalization at least until we have real worldwide unions, or otherwise the race to the bottom will continue, to the bottom.

The problem with the preceding is that it is 'nationalist' in a sense, the one called common sense. And it involves real solidarity the working class rabble, and 'left' intellectuals have evolved away from that. The real question is whether the left is still left on the most fundamental issues (think Robin Hood). I'd say no.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 12:51:17 PM EST
What is with the obsession with nation states?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 12:53:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Although very flawed and awash in corporate bribery pretending to be campaign contributions, democratic nation states are still the most dangerous enemies of world government by corporations and their investors.

The EU in fact is not working, it's ineffective, as a popular democracy. Yes, it may be repaired, someday, but why exactly the obsession with reinventing democracy on a Euro-wide basis when you already have that in the European nation states?

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 01:54:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by whose fact is the EU not working?  some other people might posit the EU is working just fine, for a pimply adolescent?

obsession with reinventing democracy?  surely you jest.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 02:42:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, the EU is officially an attempt to create a European-wide democracy. That looks like reinventing what already exists, a couple dozen nation states that already are democracies.

What is the real reason the European corporate elite has pushed for an EU that overrides nation-state democratic power? The reasons are obvious.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 03:07:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
First, here's an example of the EU working today (which you didn't address);  Arcelor Mittel Loses Carbon Challenge.  Funny how that's an example of the EU being controlled by a corporate elite.  which is not to say that there isn't a corporate elite attempting to take control.

The EU may be an attempt to create a Europe-wide democracy, but that's a far cry from "obsessing with reinventing democracy."  Especially if a particular nation's corporate elite already had undue influence within the nation-state.

I'm also certain that the entrepreneurial class in Portugal wishes to go back to the nation-state power in the glory days before the EU. Not.


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 03:05:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The most important examples of how the EU is working today can be found in the intentional imposition of austerity on Greece, Ireland and other formerly sovereign states, which have no alternative economic course within the Eurozone. I don't deny the EU has done some good things, the obvious important question is what is its overall impact on the average working person? Crappy.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 04:11:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't disagree, but the EU is not an external force. The same policies that make the EU so crappy were pushed by all most other governments as well. They just couldn't use the excuse that Brussels made them do it.

Von überall könnte das Volk, Urbrut alles Undemokratischen, Zelle des Terrors, über die gewählten Hüter von Wachstum und Wohlstand® kommen. - flatter
by generic on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 04:52:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That "all" shouldn't be there.

Von überall könnte das Volk, Urbrut alles Undemokratischen, Zelle des Terrors, über die gewählten Hüter von Wachstum und Wohlstand® kommen. - flatter
by generic on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 04:54:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not optimistic about further concentration and distancing of power. I see the point for the European elite, but not for the average working person. Democracy is barely successful at the nation state level and most 'real' at the local levels. The people and entities that got the EU going as a real government likely were very well aware of the preceding, and probly just think it is the best vehicle for imposing corporate globalization on Europe.

Not that the common citizenry couldn't take back govt from the elite on a Euro-wide level, it's possible, but it would just be harder (maybe a lot harder) than doing that locally, in a particular nation state (such as Greece or Ireland) going through an economic crisis.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 05:22:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
fairleft:
but why exactly the obsession with reinventing democracy on a Euro-wide basis when you already have that in the European nation states?

um, because in italy it is a parody?

fairleft:

democratic nation states are still the most dangerous enemies of world government by corporations and their investors.

what if world government were the only sane option, and the EU is merely another test run in the wake of many before?

flawed, but offering some examples of good better governance, much better than in italy.

i am not making a value judgment here, i think governability may be related to geo/topography, and italy's makes it really hard.

even musso realised that!

some might argue that being ruled by anonymous grey suits in brussels would be dull, but here there is a need for a good bit more of that!

fairleft:

The EU in fact is not working, it's ineffective, as a popular democracy

w-a-a-a-y too sweeping, imo. compared to what, anyway?

china and its provinces? the usa?

its ineffectiveness is not a responsibility entirely out of our hands, and i see much more human concern coming from brussels than i do from rome.

without the EU italy would be a rudderless ship.

strange but true, we need more regulation here, especially about where and how the EU goodies are spent.

hint, it's open season...

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 08:16:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
melo:
what if world government were the only sane option, and the EU is merely another test run in the wake of many before?

yeah, but what about...

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 09:15:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
but why exactly the obsession with reinventing democracy on a Euro-wide basis when you already have that in the European nation states?

You respond by fronting Italy's quasi-failure as a democracy. However, look at 'the golden age': from 1948 to 1963 Italy had nearly full employment (with all that implies for workers' wages) and averaged 6% GDP growth, and it was state-directed economic policies that were very important if not critical to that growth rate. So, I don't see that as failure, and a democratic state's policies' effect on the average working person is its most important aspect.

See this PDF file for an overview of the Italian economic miracle and the state role therein:

http://es.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/1/2/249.pdf

democratic nation states are still the most dangerous enemies of world government by corporations and their investors.

You don't actually respond to this contention. But no, obviously I don't think world government is the only option. As I've said in various comments, there is recent history on the side of saying: Hey, the developed world had worked out things pretty well 1945 to 1970 or so, so why the sad "world govt is the only option and it ain't all that likely either" faces? Most average working people are aware that their economic world has undergone a long decline from something that was pretty good and functioned pretty well not so long ago. No reason for desperate stabbing at 'world govt or the apocalypse', let's just go back to what we were doing a few decades ago.

The EU in fact is not working, it's ineffective, as a popular democracy

What's the point in comparing, diminished expectations? It's not working, and it's another powerful layer of 'not working' added on to the nation states not working. But at least EU nation states not working have an excuse now, "We can't do a damn thing, it's out of our control now." Anyway, if the EU is just another hurdle in a complicated obstacle course against getting things working effectively again, I don't see its point. Better to fix the nation states and use them in the people's interests, rather than fix the nation states and then face an EU and perhaps more (the IMF, World Bank?) still opposed to the average people's interests.

European nation states (and the rest of the developed world) have an actual history of doing things right economically, the post-war period of strong economic growth, which the EU does not.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 05:06:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
fairleft:
look at 'the golden age': from 1948 to 1963 Italy had nearly full employment (with all that implies for workers' wages) and averaged 6% GDP growth, and it was state-directed economic policies that were very important if not critical to that growth rate.

yes the boom was an 'economic miracle' for italy, and yes after it's tragic affair with fascism it was happy with centrist governments who never lasted long, and capitalism's triumph over communism's incipient energies was guided from abroad, with some dark tactics.

proressive they weren't by any stretch, it was pretty much 'kinder, kucher', italian style. investment was there, everyone wanted a vespa or a topolino-500, and after the miseria of the war, it sure looked like italy was in heaven... for a while.

sustainable? not so much. crappy housing, wanton eco damage, happy motoring, pollution a gogo, and all predicated on cheap gasoline, a rush of 'peace high', a war-attritioned work force, and a bunch of young people (italians were still reproducing then) coming online to man the new factories, build the new autostradas, and learn to love white goods and to look down on their peasant ancestors from their new perches on the middle class tree.

berlusconi is a symbol of those days, voting for him is a pathetic effort to return to when italians didn't just not need immigrants to come do the sh*twork, they were so industrious and willing they emigrated to be immigrants themselves, most to the 'america' they iconised and gushed about. most had a relative riding the economic postwar upwind over there in the Promised Land, and southerners flocked to man the new auto industry up north around Torino.

italy climbed out of second world status, and its climate and inimitable cultural and artistic patrimony guaranteed it a steady flow of tourist income, as international travel became available to any tom dick or harry.

the dark side of this was how much of italy's growth was organised crime, and how it shaped the italian self image from the humble but happy years one glimpses in its best cinema of the era, to the swanky, inauthentic, entitled, and silkily self-justifying showboat one can so easily find all around now.

it wasn't sustainable, and now we get a lesson in why.

under that lacquer still beats the heart of a wonderful people, amazing in fact.

but it is being eroded daily by many forces from without, helped very much from within.

harking back to those boom years would be as unproductive as harking back to the roman empire, (something they already take a bath in) and as irrelevant to today's challenges.

the pity of the EU is that italy is taking such advantage of its largesse, but that's no reason to demean the EU, it's the opposite!

italy's riches are eternal, that is her guarantee.

the harder the germans work, the more they'll need to jump in their electric bmw's occasionally and come down and soak some sun and sample the food and wine to regenerate their energies with.

the chinese are discovering italy to be a good place to colonise too. they're not just touristas anymore...

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 07:15:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was simply pointing out that the democratic Italian state operated very effectively on the economic front for a couple of decades or more after WWII. That's important. Up against that you put the decades' of short-lived governments and how excellent growth and widespread prosperity really wasn't so great since it also involved crappy housing, an abused environment, and had something to do with creating young Italian racists. I see anti-populism but not much credibility or rationality in your new complaints.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 12:22:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i have been following yopu here for a while, and i admit to being surprised by this discussion.

fairleft:

creating young Italian racists.

i didn't say that, yet it's true.

i blame italy's rush limbaugh, ernesto (struck by lightning) bossi, who has caused a big boost in racism, principally against his own southern countrymen!

the lega's slime is one of the worst veins of politics here. unfortunately there are many here who support his uber-divisive attitudes and rhetoric, and southerners being darker skinned, are lumped in with senegalese, roma, albanians and other betes du jour...

i'm not denying some positive aspects to italy's growth years, but my point is that it was not a heyday, there was just more opportunity to better one's economic state, and people hadn't become accustomed yet to it all.

(just as it is a paradise now for a few immigrants who are willing to integrate and earn better than they ever could have back home).

it's not black and white, and after the war years it looked like nirvana, but i have seen areas of italy where industrial areas built during that boom are now rusting hulks.

i don't actually think we disagree fundamentally, we're looking at the same phenomenon from different angles.

as for the democratic state working very efficiently, i can't really agree, with foreign agents working behind the scenes to influence elections, and some very poor macro decisions.

there is a chance to go back to more prosperity, and that would involve many things, against which there are arraigned the usual suspect special, so special interests. there is so much untapped creativity here, and such a sclerotic elite battening down positive change.

there's some comfort in knowing nothing lasts for ever, and this era of shame for italy will morph into something better. i see the EU's generosity influencing italians for the better, but i wish the EU had more power to admonish italy, because it is its own worst enemy, and seems incapable of sorting itself out from the inside.

better the EU than some other foreign agency...


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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 08:51:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i'm not denying some positive aspects to italy's growth years, but my point is that it was not a heyday, there was just more opportunity to better one's economic state

I never suggested it was a heyday. It was very imperfect and so on, but the economic growth was undeniably a very positive thing in general, which is all I was and am arguing. The conditions that created that economic growth are not all that different from present conditions. Making the argument that present economic policies should be quite similar to those that underlay the boom years has tremendous common sense appeal to 'the everyday working class'. So, both in making economic sense and making common sense to average folks, this 'back to the future' concept at least seems an excellent idea.

It's self-destructively odd how 'progressives' here are so strongly opposed to my suggested approach, preferring instead to bend over backwards accomodating their progressivism (somehow, I don't know how) to the There Is No Alternative devil of race-to-the-bottom corporate globalization (but with a human face).

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 04:00:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
fairleft:
There Is No Alternative devil of race-to-the-bottom corporate globalization (but with a human face).

progressives come in many stripes.

as for globalisation, do you see it as 100% negative?

how could we slow it down, other than by not speeding it up?

do you believe it could be managed so to be a good thing?

countries are bound to be more interdependent, with modern travel and communications, surely some of this was/is beneficial, have you not enjoyed any?

what's the alternative, boycotting walmart, and buying local?

i am for that too, because those actions affirm what came before globalisation, (and may well come after the 'oil rush' is over.)

i think if globalisation were managed for the benefit of the commons (the opposite of what it mostly is now), it could be a wonderful thing.

you could sub 'democracy' or 'capitalism' for globalisation if you like.

it's not the phenomenon itself that's inherently wrong, or evitable even, but it's the people and the decisions they make that define the outcome, presently often very regrettable.

but if you ask the average joe in the street in europe if the EU has been a good thing overall, i'm sure most will agree, even if the soul of it is still buried under economic rationalisations, whose validity is rapidly unwinding. can it survive a long period of no-growth? only if it continues to stand for something more than mere economic growth.

it was born as an idealistic enterprise as well, on the updraft of postwar resolutions, and now its raison d'etre is coming under global review, and we'll see whether it was a mere expedience for people, or something that will endure the stripping away of the old model of predatory capitalism that has underpinned its business activities.

or is it an overlay of bureaucracy whose existence is a luxury only a continent with waxing GDP growth can afford to adorn itself with?

i think it's getting to be an identity crisis, a make-or-break moment for the EU, and it's the financial wedge that is trying to crack it open which will galvanise people to find a better reason for participating in such an entity whose 'brain' is in faraway Brussels. the brain hopefully will grow and adapt to all the peripheral information, and those far away from major nodes can stay in real time contact, thus feeling included, and bridging the ancient culture gap between city and boonies.

if the internet grows enough to connect everyone, especially in the deep rural areas, one could probably get enough agreement on social policies of real benefit, as communities trade ideas on how to better manage their energy economies, which will take over as the concept of money-as-we-know-it turns inside out.

thanks for the discussion, it is always stimulating.

(sorry for long rabbit!)
 

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Mar 5th, 2010 at 06:08:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
fairleft: European nation states (and the rest of the developed world) have an actual history of doing things right economically, the post-war period of strong economic growth, which the EU does not.

nation-states have also caused mind-boggling amounts of human suffering, not to mention economic destruction and waste.  i believe one of the primary motivations for forming the EU was to minimize if not eliminate altogether the possibility for future wars among the nation-states of Europe.  so far that has been working out pretty well -- and for much longer than the nation states' golden quarter century you have evoked a few times.

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 08:10:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The EU has existed since 1993. I do think the EC -- which existed before the EU and respected national sovereignty -- was a fine institution. I suppose you'll have to give credit to the EC for bringing peace to Western Europe in the years 1945-1993, while the EU should get credit for the years 1993 to 2010.

Looking at the history, all was well on the peace front and I don't see what was gained by pushing from an EC to an EU.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 12:27:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
fairleft: I suppose you'll have to give credit to the EC for bringing peace to Western Europe in the years 1945-1993, while the EU should get credit for the years 1993 to 2010.

It's gladdening to read that.  Could you elaborate on the new features of the EU that did not exist in the EC and that negatively infringed on national sovereignty, as you see it?

fairleft: Looking at the history, all was well on the peace front and I don't see what was gained by pushing from an EC to an EU.

Here is one answer from Wikipedia:

History of the European Union - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

During the 90s, the development EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) was given a strong impetus by the conflicts in the Balkans. The EU failed to react during the beginning of the conflict, and UN peacekeepers from the Netherlands failed to prevent the Srebrenica massacre (July 1995) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the largest mass murder in Europe since the second world war. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) finally had to intervene in the war, forcing the combatants to the negotiation table. On 24 March 1999, the situation on Kosovo led to an EU CFSP declaration on Kosovo and prompted a NATO intervention in Kosovo and Serbia. While there was greater EU involvement in the Kosovo conflict than in the Bosnian conflict, the failure of the EU to prevent the conflicts in former Yugoslavia, or to bring them to a quick close, heightened the desire for greater EU effectiveness in foreign affairs.[19] The early foreign policy experience of the EU led to it being emphasised in the Treaty of Amsterdam (which created the High Representative), which entered into force on 1 May 1999, and the 1997 declaration by Western European Union leaders on that organisation's role with the EU and NATO.[20] In response, the Nice Treaty strengthened the High Representative and foreign policy cooperation.


The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.
by marco on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 03:07:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why don't you do the first task yourself?

As for the destruction of Yugoslavia, you need to be completely re-educated, so consider reading the following three articles:

Diana Johnstone on the Balkan Wars
by Edward S. Herman
http://www.monthlyreview.org/0203herman.htm

Diana Johnstone's Fools' Crusade
A Book Review by Louis Proyect
http://www.swans.com/library/art9/lproy04.html

The Rational Destruction of Yugoslavia
by Michael Parenti
http://www.michaelparenti.org/yugoslavia.html

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 10:51:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, I stopped reading swans.com when they crossed the line from deconstructing the motives of the US and Germany to outright Milosevic apologia...

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 11:04:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Self-censorship is generally not a smart move. The piece you refer to, like the others, is not an apologia but an attack on U.S. (and German, and EU) imperialism.

Getting those kind of things mixed up is such an old right-wing trick. Were you attacking antiwar people in the days leading up to the Iraq war, for Saddam Hussein apologias?

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 12:25:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Were you using ad hominems this liberally before you came to ET?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 12:30:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ad ho·mi·nem

1.appealing to one's prejudices, emotions, or special interests rather than to one's intellect or reason.

2.attacking an opponent's character rather than answering his argument.




fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 03:27:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Milosevic apologia" is as an ad hominem attack, at least toward Swans. I challenge anyone to find anything that qualifies as such in the three articles I linked to.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 04:02:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not talking about the articles you link to, but about the obvious ad hominems against another poster in your comment.

It's of no interest to anyone that this thread spiral into flame war, so please tone it down.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Mar 5th, 2010 at 02:19:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I was actually marching against the war in downtown LA. What were you up to in February 2003?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 12:46:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Doing the same, but not in L.A.

Back to the relevant matter, I hope you'll soon decide to investigate the destruction of Yugoslavia story outside of the mainstream media narrative. Liberals accepting the mainstream 'truth' there certainly reassured the neocons planning the next major imperial move, against Iraq.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 03:31:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I hope you'll soon decide to investigate the destruction of Yugoslavia story outside of the mainstream media narrative.

You mean like we've done to death on this forum for the past 5 years?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 04:37:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
fairleft:Why don't you do the first task yourself?

Well, because (1) I don't see the EU infringing on national sovereignty negatively, as you do, and (2) as I specified, I would like to know how you see it.

Thank you for the recommended readings about the destruction of Yugoslavia.  I had to chuckle when I read your assessment about my need to be "re-educated", as I was under the impression that you were particularly sensitive about the importance of mutual respectfulness in online debates/discussions.

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 01:25:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're offended by the word 're-educated'? Now that's over-sensitive. It's the most accurate word for what I was hoping for, and if understood in the spirit of imho I don't see the problem.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 03:34:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What, you don't associate reeducation with Pol Pot?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 04:41:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I associate it with "re" and "educate".

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 05:20:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A cursory look at the following (incomplete( list of diaries and their respective comment threads will reveal that, as you believe, people on this blog lap up the conventional wisdom from Western™ mainstream media and are sorely in need of education on Yugoslavia that only people as enlightened as you can provide. Not.

Here you will find detailed accounts of the diplomacy around the Vance-Owen plan, the Rambouillet agreement, the Dayton Plan, Kosovo, the ICTY, and more.

Okay, dude(tte). Before you again dare to tell people on ET to re-educate themselves about the Balkan Wars or any other topic, I suggest you spend some time acquainting yourself with the state of the debate on the site (and whatever degree of consensus we may have reached which is not much given the diverse and evidence-based nature of this community).

Re-educate yourself. And remember this blog is not like what you're used to. Thanks.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 05:22:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll provide any individual with good advice on a case by case basis. You'll find advice to individuals to be insults to the entire eurotrib membership. Which will indicate to independent observers that you're incoherent.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 05:18:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
fairleft: but why exactly the obsession with reinventing democracy on a Euro-wide basis when you already have that in the European nation states?

i think melo's answer is quite a good one:

   um, because in italy it is a parody?

in other words, democracy seems to work better in some nation-states than others, and the EU is one way to inspire (impose?) healthier forms of democracy in less democratically robust nation-states.  i believe that is one motivation for aggressively including former Eastern Bloc countries into the EU (though obviously other more cynical motivations -- such as larger markets for goods, new supplies of cheap labor, and incorporating former parts of the Soviet empire while Russia is still weak -- may be just as if not more important).

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 08:33:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
marco:
 i believe that is one motivation

me too!

and more ponies!

:)

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 09:08:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The left must move beyond ineffectual, narrow-minded, but faithfully 'progressive' sentiments as expressed by Paul Krugman, and think dangerous thoughts:

Krugman dismisses out of hand the notion that Greece can (or should) exit the Eurozone. "A breakup of the Euro is very nearly unthinkable," he writes. But note that there's a huge difference between breaking up the Euro and having Greece and/or other small countries exit the Eurozone. From the Greek perspective, if Greeks don't want to be penurious debt-slaves to international banks for the next several decades it makes perfect sense to exit the Eurozone, tell the banks to fuck off, print money, kick-start their economy, and invite the tourists back at cheap rates. If Greek priorities are to put Greeks back to work in Greece, they should drop the Euro. The Eurozone would survive.

But the idea of national borders, national identity, protectionism, and possibly profoundly anti-capitalist development models are such anathema to "liberals" like Paul Krugman that they won't be part of the policy conversation.

http://www.electricpolitics.com/2010/02/screwing_greece.html#more

commenting on Krugman

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/15/opinion/15krugman.html?ref=opinion


fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 01:49:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
or does he address elsewhere the issues with exiting the Euro zone enumerated by Barry Eichengreen?

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.
by marco on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 08:37:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's article's a joke and I wish it were April Fool's Day.

Yes Barry, vending machines will have to be reset to accept the new national currency. I'm sure that's an insurmountable obstacle to exiting the Euro. His argument is entirely that the procedural difficulty of re-nationalizing currency are insurmountable, despite the fact that this kind of thing has been done frequently, remember converting to the Euro, without incident.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 05:12:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i'm afraid you missed a few points, e.g.:

Households and firms anticipating that domestic deposits would be redenominated into the lira, which would then lose value against the euro, would shift their deposits to other euro-area banks. A system-wide bank run would follow. Investors anticipating that their claims on the Italian government would be redenominated into lira would shift into claims on other euro-area governments, leading to a bond-market crisis. If the precipitating factor was parliamentary debate over abandoning the lira, it would be unlikely that the ECB would provide extensive lender-of-last-resort support. And if the government was already in a weak fiscal position, it would not be able to borrow to bail out the banks and buy back its debt.

fairleft: this kind of thing has been done frequently

could you offer a couple of examples?

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 07:49:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm afraid you missed the key point:

Households and firms anticipating that domestic deposits would be redenominated into the lira, which would then lose value against the euro, would shift their deposits to other euro-area banks.

How could the lira lose value against the euro when the lira's value would not exist until the moment of transfer? And that is the crux of Barry's argument. The lira's value after transfer would or at least could involve -- in a properly regulated environment -- the actual supply and demand for that currency. Assuming that definitely would not be the case and that the lira would be certain to fall is the basis of Eichengreen's argument.

Sorry, we've already had the mother of all financial crises, the mortgage crisis and banker bailout. Eichengreen has been wrong for awhile about the cost/benefits of tying countries in a variety of economic conditions to a single strong currency.

Times it has been done: Whenever govts withdraw one currency and issue new currency in its place a similar impossibility occurs without great fuss. After WWII by the defeated Axis powers. The advent of the EU.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 12:05:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
fairleft: How could the lira lose value against the euro when the lira's value would not exist until the moment of transfer?

Imagine the value of the lira/drachma/peseta/escudo is set at 100 to the euro at the moment of its reintroduction.  Now imagine that it drops to 70 or 20 by the end of the month of its existence.  It is an imagined scenario, but it is a plausible one.  Obviously, whether something like this would happen is an empirical question.

If you read Eichengreen's more "academic" version of his argument (PDF) on this matter, it is striking, perplexing and somewhat annoying to realize how much more binary, dramatic and even polemical he is in the (presumably) more widely circulated popular version, than in this decidedly more nuanced and ambivalent academic version. e.g.

First an argument explaining the "Economic Barriers to Exit":

... would reintroducing the national currency and following with a sharp depreciation against the euro in fact help to solve these countries competitiveness and debt problems? The presumption in much of the literature is negative.12 A country like Italy where slow growth combined with high inherited debt/GDP ratios to raise the specter of debt unsustainability (that it would become necessary to restructure the debt or for taxpayers and transfer recipients to make inconceivable sacrifices) might be tempted to reintroduce the lira as a way of securing a more inflationary monetary policy and depreciating away the value of the debt; but doing so would result in credit-rating downgrades, higher sovereign spreads and an increase in interest costs, as investors anticipate and react to the government's actions. A country like Portugal where high real wages combine with the absence of exchange rate independence to produce chronic high unemployment might be tempted to reintroduce the escudo as a way of securing a more expansionary monetary policy and pushing down labor costs; but doing so will only result in higher wage inflation, as workers anticipate and react to the government's actions. Estimates in Blanchard (2006) suggest that Portugal would require a 25 per cent real depreciation in order to restore its competitiveness.13 It is not clear if the government sought to engineer this through a substantial nominal depreciation that workers would look the other way. Observers pointing to these effects conclude that exiting might not be especially beneficial for a country with high debts or high unemployment. To the contrary, the principal obstacle to exiting the euro area in this view is that doing so may have significant economic costs.

Yet one can also imagine circumstances in which reintroducing the national currency might constitute a useful treatment. Assume that Portuguese workers are prepared to accept a reduction in their real wages but confront a coordination problem:  they are willing to accept a reduction only if other workers or unions accept a reduction, perhaps because they care about relative wages.14 Under these circumstances there will be a reluctance to move first, and wage adjustment will be suboptimally slow. Then a monetary-cum-exchange-rate policy that jumps up the price level, reducing real wages across the board, may be welfare enhancing; this is the so-called "daylight savings time" argument for a flexible exchange rate. Importantly, in the circumstances described here there will be no incentive for individual workers or unions to push for higher wages to offset the increase in prices. The lower real wages obtained as a result of depreciating the newly-reintroduced currency deliver the economy to the same full employment equilibrium that would have resulted from years of grinding deflation, only faster.

Now the counterarguments, qualifications, and nuances:

Note the assumption here: that whatever caused real wages to get out of line in the first place is not intrinsic to the economy, so that the problem will not recur. Thus, the Portuguese example contemplated here is described under the assumption that real wages have fallen out of line for reasons extrinsic to the operation of the economy -- for example, irrational exuberance on the part of workers in the run-up to Stage III of the Maastricht process, something that will not recur. If, on the other hand, real wages are too high because of the existence of domestic distortions, for example the presence of powerful trade unions that exclusively value the welfare of their employed members, then it is implausible that a different monetary-cum-exchange-rate policy will have an enduring impact.

There are similar counterarguments to the view that a country like Italy that reintroduced the lira in order to pursue a monetary-cum-exchange-rate policy that stepped down the value of the debt would necessarily be penalized with lower credit ratings and higher debt-servicing costs. Sovereign debt is a contingent claim; when debt is rendered unsustainable by shocks not of the government's own making and the source of those shocks can be verified independently, there are theoretical arguments for why investors will see a write-down as excusable.15 Even when the country's debt problem is of its own making, credible institutional and policy reforms -- strict legal or constitutional limits on future budget deficits, stronger independence to insulate the central bank from pressure to help finance future debts -- may reassure the markets that past losses will not recur. The fact that the debt burden has been lightened similarly makes it look less likely that prior problems will be repeated. There is ample evidence from history that governments that default, either explicitly by restructuring or implicitly by inflating, are able to regain market access following appropriate institutional and policy reforms. The mixed findings of studies seeking to identify a reputational penalty in the form of higher interest rates are consistent with the view that this penalty can be avoided by countries that follow up with institutional and policy reforms reassuring investors that the experience will not be repeated. The implication is that the cost in terms of reputation may not be a prohibitive barrier to exit.

How applicable is this scenario to countries like Italy? It is hard to argue that Italy's heavy debt burden is due to factors not of its own making. Italy does not have a reassuring history of guarding the central bank's independence or of adopting budgetary procedures and institutions that limit free-rider and common-pool problems. Whether exiting the euro area and reintroducing the lira would therefore result in credit-rating downgrades and increases in spreads sufficient to deter any such decision is an empirical question.16

In fact, his "Conclusion" starts as follows:

The possibility that an incumbent member of the euro area might reintroduce its national currency cannot be excluded.

and is frustratingly cagey:

How formidable are the obstacles to withdrawing? Economically, it is not clear which way the arguments cut.

<...>

Would defection by one country cause the general disintegration of the euro area?  The answer, as with many things economic, is "it depends."

<...>

The possibilities are endless. Forecasting the prospects for the euro area may be easier than forecasting the prospects for global warming, but only marginally.

(My bolds)

That's how it ends.

So at the end of this discussion, I am left very non-plussed.  Normally, I appreciate "hedging", "qualifications", "ambivalence", "nuance", etc. in the presentation of arguments, because it indicates a healthy awareness of the possibility that one's position, as certain as one may feel about it subjectively, may nevertheless overlook a point or piece of information that could reveal unseen contradictions or weaknesses.  So all things being equal, I would like how Eichengreen wrote this paper.  Unfortunately, what grates in this case is the one-sided presentation and deliberate exclusion of "complexities" in the companion essay he wrote for wider "popular" consumption.  There is almost something patronizing or condescending about it.

Lesson learned.

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 02:56:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Imagine the Slovakian currency set to trade at par with the Czech currency at the moment the two countries broke into two in '93. Imagine then that . . . well, nothing really happened, right?

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 12:26:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not like the Czech crown was a global reserve currency when that happened.

What you should be asking is whether Czechs or Slovaks preferred to put their savings in DM around the time of the separation.

Also, you are aware what parity between the DM and the DDR Mark did to the DDR when Germany unified? Now try to run the reunification in reverse and wonder what would happen to East Germany's money if they suddenly split from the DM.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 12:49:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If Slovakia had been worried about a relatively deflated Slovakian krona they could have set the initial exchange value of its new currency at two for 1 Czech krona. Similarly, you could and should value the lira at a 'deflated rate' vis a vis the Euro from the start. If Italy's central bank has adequate control over how much new lira will enter the marketplace, it should not be a problem to have the exchange rate 'properly' deflated from the start.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 03:44:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The point is that there's no structural reason why the Slovak crown should have devalued on partition. Whereas in the case of Italy leaving the Euro because of fiscal trouble (rather than because of politics as was the case in Czechoslovakia) there would be a likelihood of devaluation in the short term.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 04:40:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Trade imbalances affect currency valuation, not fiscal trouble.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 06:02:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not in the case of Greece currently, or Italy.

And you're talking about the long term. In the short term, especially with speculators felling jittery, capital flows have precious little to do with trade balances.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 06:04:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't understand what exactly you're getting at, but speculators are part of the problem, and inaction against them is too. Short-term speculative attacks on currencies and on economies need to be a thing of the past.

This may be slightly off topic, but devaluation provides one non-austerity route to dealing with a sharp economic downturn, but that's unavailable to those in the Eurozone. There need to be very strong economic arguments in favor of sticking with the Euro when it makes 'the Hungary devaluation' unavailable.

February 19, 2010
Hungary, Which Was Saved by Not Being in the Euro, Lectures Greece on the Virtues of the Euro, and the NYT Doesn't Notice

. . . While the euro may give Greeks or Hungarians the sense of security claimed by Gordon Bajnai, Hungary's prime minister, this sense of security is currently coming at a very great cost to Greece.

Because Hungary was not on the euro, it was able to devalue its currency when the financial crisis hit in 2008. As a result, its current [trade] deficit fell from 8.4 percent of GDP in 2008 to 3.0 percent of GDP in 2009. This shift of 5 percentage points of GDP gave an enormous boost to Hungary's economy. It would be the equivalent of a $900 billion annual stimulus package in the United States, roughly three times the size of the stimulus package approved by Congress last year.

The boost provided by the improvement in the current account deficit meant that Hungary could cut government spending without simply deepening the downturn. However, since Greece is tied to the euro, it cannot count on an improvement in its trade balance to offset the contractionary impact of its budget cuts. . . .



fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 06:43:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course you don't.

To recap, to the argument that people's savings would be devalued if they were redenominated in local currencies after the respective countries left the euro you responded with a ridiculous analogy to the particion of Czecholovakia, ridiculous because there was no structural reason for Slovaks to want to hold Czech crowns in strong preference over Slovak crowns, because the Czech crown is not a (candidate for) a reserve currency the way the Euro or the DM before it was.

Marco was referring to scenarios more similar to Argentina's corralito where savers' deposits denominated in dollars were fist frozen, then redenominated in Pesos, and then the peso was devalued. That is exactly the analogous scenario to wnat marco was referring to: Euro deposits in (say) Italy being redenominated to new Lire followed by a devaluation. The case of Argentina abandoning its dollar peg was  as if Argentina had been in a monetary union with the US and then left.

Corralito-type scenarios are a possibility in European countries peripheral to the Euro such as Croatia.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 06:52:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Marco's analogy is a ridiculous fantasy (why on earth would Italy or Greece 'freeze' accounts held in EU currency??) and my analogy with the Czech/Slovak krona is right on. The EU as reserve currency is a red herring.

As you can see, it is hard to understand incohernce. What horrible and irrational confiscatory acts toward people's Euros do you perceive Greece would do? And why would it do that?

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Fri Mar 5th, 2010 at 02:58:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Marco's analogy is a ridiculous fantasy (why on earth would Italy or Greece 'freeze' accounts held in EU currency??) and my analogy with the Czech/Slovak krona is right on. The EU as reserve currency is a red herring.

Argument by assertion. These things are so because you say they are so.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 5th, 2010 at 03:07:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
that it's conceivable and possible that nations may withdraw from the euro (which means they believe it is not impossible for them to do so):

Anatole Kaletsky, Boris Kagarlitsky, Ruth Lea, Gilles Thieffry, David McWilliams, the economists at Oxford Analytica, Daniel M. Ryan, Martin Wolf, and Nouriel Roubini.

Argument by authority.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 05:04:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Please quote comments in this thread where people express a belief that it is inconceivable or impossible for nations to withdraw from the Euro.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 05:11:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll do that, and how about answering my question:

What horrible and irrational confiscatory acts toward people's Euros do you perceive Greece would do? And why would it do that?

Anyway, if you aren't agreeing with Eichengreen that it is nearly impossible to escape from the eurozone, that's great, because that seemed nonsensical to me and I'm glad it now does to you. As I said, I had difficulty following what points you were trying to make (sure, believe that it's my fault), but in the following you seemed to be defending Eichengreen's theory, which was what led off the thread and was what I was arguing against:

http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2010/3/2/55610/32631#187

http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2010/3/2/55610/32631#185

http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2010/3/2/55610/32631#180

http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2010/3/2/55610/32631#171

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Fri Mar 12th, 2010 at 12:55:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
how about answering my question:
What horrible and irrational confiscatory acts toward people's Euros do you perceive Greece would do?
This is the kind of stuff a government does when it abandons a peg to a hard currency.

Wikipedia: Corralito

In 2001, Argentina was in the midst of a crisis: heavily indebted, with an economy in complete stagnation (an almost three-year-long recession), and the exchange rate was fixed at one U. S. dollar per Argentine peso by law, which made exports uncompetitive and effectively deprived the state of having an independent monetary policy. Many Argentines, but most especially companies, fearing an economic crash and possibly a devaluation, were transforming pesos to dollars and withdrawing them from the banks in large amounts, usually transferring them to foreign accounts (capital flight).

On 1 December 2001, in order to stop this draining from destroying the banking system, the government froze all bank accounts, initially for 90 days. Only a small amount of cash was allowed for withdrawal on a weekly basis (initially 250 Argentine pesos, then 300), and only from accounts denominated in pesos. No withdrawals were allowed from accounts denominated in U.S. dollars, unless the owner agreed to convert the funds into pesos. Operations using credit cards, debit cards, cheques and other means of payment could be conducted normally, but the lack of cash availability caused numerous problems for the general public and for businesses.

Now, here's my scenario
In 20012010, ArgentinaGreece was in the midst of a crisis: heavily indebted, with an economy in complete stagnation (an almost three-year-long recession), and the exchange rate was fixed at one U. S. dollar per Argentine peso by lawthe national currency was the Euro, which made exports uncompetitive and effectively deprived the state of having an independent monetary policy. A law was passed in Greece providing for a Neodrachma currency to be introduced into circulation on January 1, 2011, when all Euro deposits held in Greece would be converted to Neodrachmas at parity. Many ArgentinesGreeks, but most especially companies, fearing an economic crash and possibly a devaluation, were transforming pesos to dollars andstarted withdrawing themtheir Euros from the banks in large amounts into cash, usuallyor transferring them to foreign accounts (capital flight).

On 1 December 20012010, in order to stop this draining from destroying the banking system, the government froze all bank accounts, initially for 9030 days. Only a small amount of cash was allowed for withdrawal on a weekly basis (initially 250 Argentine pesosEuros, then 300), and only from accounts denominated in pesos. No withdrawals were allowed from accounts denominated in U.S. dollars, unless the owner agreed to convert the funds into pesos. Operations using credit cards, debit cards, cheques and other means of payment could be conducted normally, but the lack of cash availability caused numerous problems for the general public and for businesses.



En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 12th, 2010 at 02:09:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
than the Czech/Slovak krona analogy, at least to my economically and financially defective brain.

Are there any other real world scenarios from the past that can be brought to bear to shed light on what would happen if Greece (or some other country) abandoned the euro for its own national currency?

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Fri Mar 12th, 2010 at 03:09:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  • Peru 1967. See here where it is argued that the choice not to have a peg is an explicit choice to inflate the currency with respect to the dollar, setting off the private-sector behaviour we have been talking about (capital flight and runs on domestic-denominated bank deposits). I am not sure whether Ecuador has actually dropped its dollar peg or not in the last year.
  • many OPEC countries maintain dollar pegs. There has been substantial rumour-mongering about the Persian Gulf countries abandining their dollar pegs


En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 12th, 2010 at 04:25:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Even though nobody said these things were impossible, I just want to point out that you managed to find a whopping one reputable economist (Roubini).  These other people are journalists -- not economists and probably 98% wrong on everything they write -- and bank whores.

Just saying.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Mar 10th, 2010 at 11:36:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're wrong.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Fri Mar 12th, 2010 at 12:33:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, argument by analogy, as in "my analogy with the Czech/Slovak krona is right on."

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Fri Mar 12th, 2010 at 12:46:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Looking for information for how exactly this went down, I found this Independent article from 1993:

Czechs and Slovaks split their currency - Business, News - The Independent

... Since early January, queues have been forming outside Slovak banks as people rushed to exchange Czechoslovak koruna for hard currency.

In the Czech Republic, although the run on hard currency has not been so pronounced, foreign currency reserves of the Czech central bank fell from dollars 847m to dollars 482m in the first three weeks of the year. ...

So would this be the right way to break down your analogy?

Czech/Slovak krona splitGreece leaves euro
Czechoslovak koruna euro
Czech kronaeuro
Slovak kronadrachma
"hard currency" euros, dollars, yen, etc.


The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.
by marco on Fri Mar 12th, 2010 at 01:41:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suppose that's how he sees his analogy, but the proper one is

Czechoslovak koruna ~ Euro
Czech Koruna ~ drachma1
Slovak Koruna ~ drachma2
"hard currency" ~ euros, dollars, yen, etc

The text you quote indicates that

  1. there was a strong run on hard currency in Slovakia, contrary to fairleft's
    Imagine the Slovakian currency set to trade at par with the Czech currency at the moment the two countries broke into two in '93. Imagine then that . . . well, nothing really happened, right?
    Wrong. Both currencies indeed started at par with each other and with Czechoslovak Koruna, and both devalued relative to the Deutsche Mark, the Slovak one a little more strongly.
  2. there was also a run, but not so strong, in Czechia, agreeing with my reply to fairleft
    It's not like the Czech crown was a global reserve currency when that happened.

    What you should be asking is whether Czechs or Slovaks preferred to put their savings in DM around the time of the separation.


En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 12th, 2010 at 02:20:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
because that would mean that Greece should leave the euro and split into two regions.  But that is not what fairleft is suggesting... is it?

Migeru: there was also a run, but not so strong, in Czechia, agreeing with my reply to fairleft

Yup, that was the comment that sent me off on a search to find out what happened in fact with the CzechOrSlovak krona.

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Fri Mar 12th, 2010 at 03:04:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The point is that both Czechs and Slovaks would have perceived the Deutsche Mark as stronger than the old Czechoslovak crown or either of the successor Czech/Slovak crowns and so it makes no sense that Slovaks would want to hold new Czech crowns instead of Deutsche Mark.

But no matter, he said nothing happened, right? about the Czechoslovak split, when what happened was a case of capital flight and run on both successor currencies, with the Slovak crown depreciating with respect to the Czech crown and both depreciating with respect to the Deutsche Mark.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 12th, 2010 at 04:02:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The point of exiting the euro would be to devalue the new currency. Would you hold your savings in the new currency if you could hold them in €? It follows that you probably would have to institute capital controls to prevent a currency crisis.

All that said, if the Greek elite did not believe in the same neoclassic fairy tails so prevalent in the rest of Europe, this path would probably be worth pursuing. But frankly I suspect if they left the € they'd just call in the IMF.

Von überall könnte das Volk, Urbrut alles Undemokratischen, Zelle des Terrors, über die gewählten Hüter von Wachstum und Wohlstand® kommen. - flatter

by generic on Sat Mar 6th, 2010 at 10:58:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You would hold some of your assets in drachmas because that would be the only legal tender in Greece, and some in euros or whatever you decided to bet on. Your investment decision would also depend on the interest rate offered for holdings in various currencies. I don't think the Greek govt would care, particularly, whether private citizens held their bank assets in drachmas or euros.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Fri Mar 12th, 2010 at 01:02:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, the Hungarian devaluation of 2008 almost caused a massive default on Hungarian debt denominated in foreign currencies such as Euros and Swiss Francs. Hungarian borrowers, households and businesses alike, had been engaging in a sort of carry trade, borrowing in Euros and CHF to take advantage of the high interest rates on Hungarian Forints while the exchange rate stayed more or less stable or even got stronger against the other currencies despite the interest rate pressure. It could have ended very badly, especially for Eurozone banks (German and Austrian mostly) heavily invested in Central/Eastern Europe.

See Hungary in danger of bankruptcy? by DoDo on October 10th, 2008.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 06:57:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, that 'almost' balanced against a huge boost to employment and the economy. I hope you're not arguing against the devaluation but just adding a 'by the way' that is irrelevant to the main point, that the devaluation was by and large a good thing.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Fri Mar 5th, 2010 at 03:00:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because Hungary was not on the euro, it was able to devalue its currency when the financial crisis hit in 2008.

Hm? This would indicate a conscious policy to devalue the currency. There was nothing of the sort. There was a currency shock ignited by a big attack by speculators against one Hungarian bank (it failed in the end BTW; also BTW it was done by a Soros company which Soros wasn't ahappy about) followed by government attempts to hold back a further slide. After the ECB and IMF intervention, that was achieved, and the currency improved again, though still about 10% below the previous long-time stable level.

As a result, its current [trade] deficit fell from 8.4 percent of GDP in 2008 to 3.0 percent of GDP in 2009.

Nope, that was the effect of brutal austerity measures. Which keep the economy in recession, and society in disintegration. Meanwhuile, the right-wing that shall win landslide elections in a month wants to play it like Bush, with tax cuts increasing the budget deficit again above 5%.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Mar 5th, 2010 at 05:47:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The scale of the crisis, and the depth of our collapse, will determine the range of possibilities in the response.

The system has not yet collapsed in a serious manner, so the range of thinkable, talkable options and alternatives does not seem very wide, or very necessary to many.  We may have stepped to the brink, but we didn't jump, and thus not many people want to talk about how to land.

When it does, things will change.  Society cannot go on as it is, and it cannot go on as it used to.  Something different is demanded, but what that different it will remain unclear until what we already have is dead.  How much of modernity's corpse survives will frame the range of possible outcomes.

by Zwackus on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 04:54:12 PM EST
As long as we do not get rid of the "full time job" as a fait social total we are not going to get far.

Basic income is a possibility for that transformation.

The Job as a necessity for social integration, combined with threatening high unemployment, is very useful to keep everyone in line - and prevents most people from actually trying to get their voices heard or their opinions formed. It is also a very useful tool of social disintegration ; solidarity mostly cannot form in the current work environment where most of one's awake time is spent with people one may have no particular desire to associate with, away from those with whom one has usually chosen to interact with - family, friends...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 10:30:54 PM EST
linca: Basic income is a possibility for that transformation.

if basic income were guaranteed, i wouldn't have to feel guilty about sitting at home reading books, watching The Good Wife and American Idol, and surfing the internet all day.

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 07:19:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
indeed. you could take pride in being part of the knowledge/culcha revolution from the comfort of your state-sponsored armchair.

it's probably cheaper to keep you alive in that state than spend mucho more quelling your possible rebellion on the streets, or locking you up.

good set of defenses against existential dread, lol!

kidding aside, i think that will be the future.

we just have to take a colossal cr*p first...

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 08:27:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
melo: it's probably cheaper to keep you alive in that state than spend mucho more quelling your possible rebellion on the streets, or locking you up.

i actually have enough faith in human nature that basic income would unleash the transformative creative potential energy that i believe linca is alluding to.  but your point would be a much more effective argument to persuade our governments to provide it.

now we just have to take that colossal crap first and wait for the development of artificially intelligent yet permanently submissive and environmentally friendly robots that will make it all possible.

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 08:57:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
free thc capsules and dvd libraries on every corner, that's how they'll keep the pitchfork tines filed down.

was it crowley who invented the term 'exempt adept'?

always rang a bell, that phrase...

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 09:04:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's one of the key questions - what would happen if no one had to work?

I doubt 'progress' would stop. Some people are naturally inventive and would be thrilled to be able to have the time to do that.

Art and culture wouldn't stop. Creative people would still create, and they'd still have an audience.

Service industries wouldn't stop.

Professional services might become less popular. A lot of people become (e.g.) doctors and dentists for the money. People with solely humanitarian motivations are much rarer.  

Would a lot of people spend their time drunk, stoned, sexed up and partying? Possibly. It's interesting that many rich kids who don't need to work often seem to burn out once they've done it all.

Focus is good. Perhaps nominal not-so voluntary work for everyone for a limited period, with special non-political rewards for challenging occupations?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 09:41:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Who'd grow the food and clean the toilets, and why would they do it?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 10:14:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
marco's robots, duh!

:)

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 10:19:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Food growing isn't a problem - some people enjoy farming. And some DIY might be useful.

Toilet cleaning (etc) would come under the heading of the one day a week or one week a month social benefit requirement.

I don't think either of those would be an issue. I'd be more concerned about industrialised factory work.

And possible accusations of utopianism aren't relevant when the alternative is the regular cycle of wars and depressions created by the current model.

Are a few days a month of relatively crap work too high a price for relatively stability which would create a huge peace dividend that could be used for scientific and cultural sponsorship?  

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 10:24:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Where's the status? How do people compete for status in your system?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 10:27:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By being inventive and creative.

There are rewards for contributions and competition, but it's not cut throat winner-takes-all.

I can imagine the ability to increase common wealth being seen as a win to be celebrated with associated high status - while increases in individual wealth at the expense of the commons would be considered pathological or criminal.

This is only a step or two further than how things work today, where criminality is primarily defined as selfish rule breaking.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 11:21:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
more people would enjoy farming if they tried it, i bet.

i always saw a future where i worked in a factory one day a week, but the factory of the future would have excellent working conditions, plants everywhere, aesthetic ambiance, stimulating discussions with co-workers while husking corn, wiring stompboxes, whatever.

if we ate better, cleaning toilets would be a lot less noisome...

there's a goldmine in future inventions to make old age more comfortable and independent.

i think a daybed for convalescents which had a built in toilet, and a way to use tech to tilt the bed to gently slide you into a hot mineral bath next to it would both be winners!

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 10:52:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
melo: there's a goldmine in future inventions to make old age more comfortable and independent.

and the japanese have been working on it big-time for years now.

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 11:05:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
yes, a culture evolved and savvy enough to invent miso, pickled ume and tofu has some serious claim to genius.

it makes sense to take care of the collective tribal memory bank by making senescence as late and comfortable as possible.

banzai!

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 12:21:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
Are a few days a month of relatively crap work too high a price for relatively stability which would create a huge peace dividend that could be used for scientific and cultural sponsorship?

sign me up!

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 12:31:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who'd grow the food and clean the toilets, and why would they do it?

In addition to the pleasure some would find from the work itself, if one exerts substantially more effort than would be required for the minimum support one should receive commensurate compensation.

In the 60s I thought that a national minimum was inevitable due to increasing automation. How else could a consumer market be maintained? I think that question is again coming to the fore. Were the USA to stop attempting to dominate the world militarily, focus on building a sustainable infrastructure and institute tax policies that reverse existing wealth and income disparities I believe that we could build a society that is humane, satisfying and dynamic.

We could afford to spend more on agriculture, with the benefit of greater sector employment and vastly less contamination of our food supply and poisoning of our population. Likewise, we could pay more for clothing but get better value through longer lived higher quality clothes. With more stringent limitations on the competitive damage that corporations could inflict on competition, including reformed patent laws, we could have more start-ups and innovation.

The pay-offs from a national minimum income would be in reduced costs for maintenance of social order and increased creativity, at a minimum. Being able to earn ten times the national minimum would still be a strong incentive to the ambitious. They might have to give up dreams of world domination, but in return they would get a healthier, more secure and more supportive society.

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 Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 11:27:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you mean no one can work - in the sense of work for money? - or no one has to?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 10:31:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the ideal would be that work would be to a large degree optional, we can't be clogging up the labour market with a bunch of folks who'd really like to be far away and doing something very different.

pay them to stay away and putter, not enough for luxury or status positioning games, but enough to keep their bodies and souls together, enough so they could concentrate on their hobbies, of curing cancer, or writing the next symphony...

you'd certainly know that when you wanted a worker, you'd stand a better chance of finding a good one, instead of a surly drone.

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 10:57:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That works for me, but I'm not sure if that's what TBG is talking about.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 10:59:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Pretty much.

There might be one or two minor details to work on before we roll this out, but it's not far off.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 11:23:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How do we get there from here?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 01:44:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
melo: you'd certainly know that when you wanted a worker, you'd stand a better chance of finding a good one, instead of a surly drone.

i like the overall concept as an ideal, as you say.  but i wouldn't go so far as to hope that we would have enough "good" workers (in the sense of willing and capable) who would volunteer to do all the unpopular jobs needed to let the vast majority of us watch movies and have our wine and cheese parties.  weekly or monthly compulsory dredge work duty for everyone would definitely be necessary -- and it will take a stroke of genius to figure out a way to keep those assignments stimulating enough so that we don't turn into surly drones while doing them.

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 02:27:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
it's a small price to pay for real security, not the kind in uniforms... you'd get through it by thinking of all the fun you'd have later, and it wasn't your whole frickin' life going down a black hole.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 07:48:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not sure about that.

Work - even if it is hard or boring - gives a sense of accomplishment and social setting that I think many would miss if given the chance to just goof of. Actually I know quite a few who after a while has missed the workplace more then the income (given Swedens pretty good welfare systems).

Or maybe that is just our Lutheran work ethic.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 05:59:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually I know quite a few who after a while has missed the workplace more then the income (given Swedens pretty good welfare systems)

But maybe that's because everyone they know is at work, though not even in the same place as they themselves would be working at. People get bored when they are alone and they prefer to be working.

So, the question is, what if most people you know were not at work?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 07:01:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds plausible that if most does not have a job, then having a job is less important.

However, if basic salary is introduced in a society were most has jobs, then most will want a job anyway. Path dependent behavior.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 08:12:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So that would indicate that a job guarantee program progressively relaxing the expectation that work is "full-time" would be more likely to work given our starting point.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 08:49:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
However, don't synchronized hormonal cycles mean simultaneous bouts of PMS? That can't be good for cooperation.

at its worst, i bet it's still 100% better than a houseful of testy men all going for alpha.

all month long!

i asked my SO and she said women know what not to do or say around other women during PMS, whereas men don't, usually.

she also said that more co-operation between women is a myth, if they are at each others' throats, it's worse than men.

perhaps men spread it out thinner...

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 09:18:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
So, the question is, what if most people you know were not at work?

not all culture fetishise work anglo style.

not all cultures make one's work role the hingepin of identity.

some cultures aren't content to tilt the table aginst the poor, they kick them when they're down too, by inferring, insult to injury, that they are worthless people.

if kids are taught early that work is part of life, and brings satisfaction and accomplishment, they can see it in perspective, especially if they are passionate about their choice of career.

guilt-tripping people to go get mcjobs is never going to work.

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 09:25:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We had a discussion in my Socratic Economics VII: Guaranteed Living Income (January 8th, 2008)
There are so many people being paid crap to do unnecessary, even harmful, jobs that paying them crap to stay at home cannot possibly be worse. In fact, maybe they'll do something useful with their free time!
So, I propose a guaranteed living income funded by taxing wealth.
...
What would be the consequences?
There are more discussions of objections in that thread, some to do with work ethic some to do with inflation, and an alternative proposal of a job guarantee programme.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 02:34:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
First an important caveat: I am not a psychologist.  My research and work in this area stems from and is devoted to furthering my work in Artificial Intelligence.  

3 to 5 percent of the male population of a country and one percent of the women are sociopaths or psychopaths.  Approximately 1 percent are dysfunctional schizophrenics. Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder affects nearly 8 percent. Paranoid personality disorder affects 4.4 percent; schizoid personality disorder, 3.1 percent; schizotypal personality disorder, 3 percent; avoidant personality disorder, 2.4 percent; borderline personality disorder, 2 percent; and histrionic personality disorder, 1.8 percent. Both narcissistic and dependent personality disorders affect less than 1 percent of adults.  Adding 'em all up, roughly 20 to 28 percent of a nation's population has psychological problems - range is due to the fact some people have more than one disorder - stretching from completely dysfunctional and requiring hospitalization to socially functional without any treatment.  

The numbers stagger.  In the US that 60 to 84 million people have some form of mental illness.  The numbers for the EU are equal stark.  If this populations lies on a Bell Curve - and I have no idea if it breaks down that way - 30 to 42 million are psychologically dysfunctional, i.e., do not expect "normal" behavior from them; they can't do it, they won't do it, and without treatment they'll never do it; some number of these can become useful members of society ... but don't count on it.  20 million, or so, with help and treatment can become functional members of society.  Maybe.  Don't bet the farm on these people either.  The rest are or can be productive members of society.  Mid to low-level Schizotypals can be very productive members of society should they get into scientific or technological careers or any job where solitude and a certain obsessive drive is a net plus.

There are miscellaneous clinical and sub-clinical mental illnesses and problems of which depression is the most common: around 9.5% of a population or around 18 million in the US are chronic.  An amazing 30% of women are depressed at any one time when one includes the chronic and temporary cases.  

In the US, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is an ever increasing problem resulting from the ever increasing number of veterans returning from ever increasing number of wars the US is prone to fight.

At this point one either decides one half of the population needs to be in a looney bin with the other half as guards and, at the end of a shift, the loonies inside the cells should become the guards with the guards becoming the loonies or we should wipe the slate clean and start all over again from slime.

While it's not that bad it does put paid to simple minded notions the Left has been prone to carry around about Human Nature.  As the Harvard Law of Animal Behavior puts it:

Under carefully controlled experimental circumstances, an animal will behave as it damned well pleases.

One thing the Left got right, historically, was our insistence on the value of society and social relationships.  Anecdotal evidence time!  About 15 years ago I was chatting with some Biologists about an interesting study.  There was a distributed research grant from the NIH that, to cut to the chase, was giving a horrible cancer to rabbits, waiting for them to die, and then dissecting them to see what the cancer did.  Everything was going swimmingly ... except for the lab rabbits ... except for this one outlier: their rabbits were living way longer than everybody else's rabbits.  And they didn't know why.  The outlier was following the experimental protocol to the letter, the cancer was the same, everything seemed to be under control ... they couldn't figure it out and it was driving them crazy.  Finally they discovered the late-night slave grad student in charge of the animals had a habit of talking to the rabbits when cleaning their cage, filling their water bottles, and so on, AND had a regular practice of taking them out of their cages and petting them.  Wasn't perfect, of course, they did eventually die.  It just took way longer.

This, to me, is interesting in all kinds of ways.  What is germane to this discussion are some questions:

How much of the mental health problems describe above is due to the vicious anti-human and anti-Humane political, social, and economic system of predatory capitalism?  

How much has the social and psychological validation received by men from "bringing home a paycheck" harmed the Left?  [I note the historic attitude by men in the Left, notably the male leaders of the Left, to not so covertly and out and out overtly express to our women comrades the "Find Me a Chick to Do Some Typing"¹ disease.]

Do women have a psychological "bias" for the "Left?"  If so how can the "bias" be turned to "active support?"  [I note a large percentage of women voters and a moderate percentage of male voters equals electoral success.]

What are we on the Left missing when the conversation focuses on "hierarchical/cognitive" aspects of economics, politics, analysis, & etc. while ignoring the "relational/psychological" aspects of such?  

I don't have answers to these questions.  In fact, I don't know they are the right questions to ask given the above information.  

I do know we need to start facing some hard-to-face facts and start including them in our conversations.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

¹ cringe

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 04:37:18 AM EST
Do women have a psychological "bias" for the "Left?"  If so how can the "bias" be turned to "active support?"  [I note a large percentage of women voters and a moderate percentage of male voters equals electoral success.]
Why should left/right-wing bias correlate with gender?

LA Times: Study finds left-wing brain, right-wing brain (September 10, 2007)

In a simple experiment reported todayin the journal Nature Neuroscience, scientists at New York University and UCLA show that political orientation is related to differences in how the brain processes information.

...

Lead author David Amodio, an assistant professor of psychology at New York University, cautioned that the study looked at a narrow range of human behavior and that it would be a mistake to conclude that one political orientation was better. The tendency of conservatives to block distracting information could be a good thing depending on the situation, he said.

...

"Does this mean liberals and conservatives are never going to agree?" Amodio asked. "Maybe it suggests one reason why they tend not to get along."



En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 05:11:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would posit that in the majority of traditional societies, including matriarchal ones, women are cooperative and men are competitive, and that behaviour is reinforced (created?) by natural hormonal cycles.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 05:52:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Women can be every bit as prejudiced, judgemental and group-conforming as men, as well as playing a role in the enforcement of group conformity and the propagation of social mores. Is there a correlation between Right-Wing Authoritarian personality as defined by Altemeyer and gender? Is this correlation culturally influenced?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 06:14:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Based on what, exactly? I'd posit that women drove their men to be competitive on their behalf, because I feel like it.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 06:14:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Based on the known effects of the hormonal cycles.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 06:42:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which known effects? Be more specific.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 06:53:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Known effects on who? How consistent are the effects? To what extent is this knowledge conditioned by cultural considerations?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 07:00:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ask your local Hypothalamus

The hypothalamus is sensitive to light cycles, the nucleus of the solitary tract, the locus coeruleus, and the ventrolateral medulla. And they are all "connected to the hipbone and the hipbone is connected to..." So, yes, one would assume that culture will produce some specific external input into these feedback systems. No stimulus - no response - no reward - no reinforcement. No behavioural change. And you'll just have to take my word for the fact that the secretion of oxytocin in response to suckling or vaginal stimulii is VERY 'rewarding' and thus 'reinforcing' i.e. new neuronal hardwiring takes place.

BTW Knowing the approx 30 day cycles of men - detectable by hormones in the urine - can be used for calculating best route and schedule for individual drivers (bus or train) during the low point of their hormonal cycles. Accidents have dropped a third using this method.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 08:32:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What? Women are cooperative because they have orgasms and boobies? I think you may be missing a link or two in your reasoning here.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 10:09:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He's just being vague
Which is fine, so long as you don't start making precise assertions about the vague thing you're sort of talking about or use vagueness as an excuse for arguments of the form:
  1. Collect underpants.
  2. ???
  3. Profit!
In this case,
  1. There are powerful neuroendocrine cycles
  2. ???
  3. Women are cooperative and men are competitive


En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 10:18:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you synchronize your hormonal cycle with another man? I thought not.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 10:52:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No idea. Anyone ever study that?

So your claim now is that synchronised cycles mean increased cooperation?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 10:55:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because it sounds to me like pseudo-scientific clothing for the Myth of Woman as Nurturer and Homemaker, Man as Warrior and Hunter.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 10:57:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is that different to the pseudo-scientific myth of We Are Only Culture and Biology Doesn't Matter?
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 11:29:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Biology matters, sure. It's just not clear how it matters. Telling just-so stories about it to justify pre-existing myths is useless. Possibly worse than useless.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 06:08:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How do you know they're only myths if it's 'just not clear'?
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 08:04:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would never say "only myths". Or if I did, I shouldn't.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 11:20:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Myths aren't necessarily lies.  Myths carry information incapable of being transmitted cognitively.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 03:43:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not quite. Myths pretend to carry information, usually - like all narratives - to make a moral point about appropriate beliefs or behaviour.

That doesn't mean they're useful, nuanced or accurate. Some myths are just plain bonkers factually, and their true active content is an ability to promote certain behaviours, not to communicate objectively valid information.

If you want to sell someone something, tell them a story about it. You'll be much more convincing - especially if you can persuade them to include themselves in the story - than if you give them dry facts.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 04:01:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My PN cup runneth over.  :-)

While not disagreeing, as such, I would put it: Mythos has to be psychologically satisfying.  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 06:02:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which is precisely why I used the word. Gender myths are very psychologically satisfying to many people.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 05:50:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I disagree that myths have to be psychologically satisfying. World creation myths are often quite silly and small-minded, and they're only satisfying to the extent that they take a big question and make it feel manageable. This isn't a useless feature, but of all the stories that could be told, the ones that are remembered are rarely the most creatively fulfilling.

I don't think economic theory is very psychologically satisfying, unless you're someone who benefits from it directly. But it's certainly more mythos than logos.

The giveaway is the intense emphasis on economic 'morality' as the ultimate arbiter of proper behaviour, and the way that it justifies the abuse of people who 'don't perform'.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 08:09:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Possibly many "bonkers" myths derive from societies and realities that have long ceased to exist.

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 Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 11:36:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now we're getting somewhere.

However, don't synchronized hormonal cycles mean simultaneous bouts of PMS? That can't be good for cooperation.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 01:25:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Wellesley Effect isn't under conscious control.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 03:47:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't think of any biochemical process that is under conscious control. Consciousness is always after the fact and therefore often useless ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 04:18:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sven Triloqvist meet Timothy Leary.

;-)

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 05:54:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sven Triloqvist: Consciousness is always after the fact and therefore often useless

I am a strange loop epiphenomenon.

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 07:56:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sven Triloqvist:
Consciousness is always after the fact and therefore often useless ;-)

ba dum

if time is spiralic, can you look through the middle and see what's coming down the stars?

never had a deja vu?

a prophetic dream or vivid intuition?

i don't agree that all consciousness comes after the 'event', if that's what you mean. i would call that 'memory'.

consciousness is witnessing, it's parallel, but can seem ahead or behind, because of floating data ponts of self, and because spacetime is curved, and probably many other reasons too, we haven't understood yet.

or summat...

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 09:33:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Female primates are more co-operative because they have babies and they want them to live.  Babies and small children have a greater life expectancy when females co-operate.  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 03:53:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, so male primates are less co-operative because they have babies and don't want them to live? Babies and small children have a greater life expectancy when males compete?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 05:49:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The babies of the competing males certainly do. The others - not so much.

One of the reliable features of non-democratic monarchies and empires is the slaughter of entire competing families, even when family members are related. This may be Extreme Darwin, it's not difficult to understand that between groups can be in conflict, or that different levels in a herd hierarchy have different reproductive strategies.

The fact that there may be individuals who are outliers on the behaviour spectrum doesn't invalidate the existence of the spectrum.

It also doesn't mean that individuals should be forced to conform to a stereotype. But that's a different issue.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 08:16:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do they? How do you know?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 11:22:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In primate Tournament species, like baboons, males co-operation only occurs in a hunt or defend the band from predators.  Within the band they fight for the right to mate as the alpha male is the usual mate chosen by females to ensure the alpha will protect her offspring from other males.  When the alpha is eventually killed or loses rank the winner will kill all the babies to bring the females into estrus.  

For the males it's an all-or-nothing proposition.  Most males, in fact, never do mate.  For the females the question isn't mating so much as mating with the alpha and then seeking protection for their offspring from the alpha.

Chimpanzees can do things differently with bonobos more different yet.  Smaller but more intelligent chimpanzee males are able to rise to alpha status through political and sexual alliances with other males.  Bonobos manage male aggressiveness by the females screwing their brains out.  "Frans de Waal ... states that the Bonobo is capable of altruism, compassion, empathy, kindness, patience, and sensitivity."  Although that should be taken with large doses of salt.  Interestingly, Bonobo society is dominated by females.

Humans are a semi-monogamous species where social order is kept by loose pair-bonding.  It's not uncommon for high ranking male humans to have more than one mate at one time but it's not considered "normal" and, in general, isn't "the thing."  The females involved usually have little to no social power - slaves, concubines, & etc.  Only in very rare circumstances will females have more than one mate at one time.  Group marriages - polyandry - are exceedingly rare in history.  It's this that allows, provides the basis compared to other primates, humans to co-operate much more than is usual in our Subfamily.

All three species: chimps, bonobos, humans will co-operate in hunting (males only, usually) and other food-gathering activities.  Chimps, bonobos, and - historically - humans will 'call-out' to other members of the band when a food source is greater than the single member can consume is found.  

 

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 06:00:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In primate Tournament species, like baboons, males co-operation only occurs in a hunt or defend the band from predators.  Within the band they fight for the right to mate as the alpha male is the usual mate chosen by females to ensure the alpha will protect her offspring from other males.  When the alpha is eventually killed or loses rank the winner will kill all the babies to bring the females into estrus.
So, this is a species-wide arrangement?

NY Times: No Time for Bullies: Baboons Retool Their Culture (By NATALIE ANGIER on April 13, 2004)

Among a troop of savanna baboons in Kenya, a terrible outbreak of tuberculosis 20 years ago selectively killed off the biggest, nastiest and most despotic males, setting the stage for a social and behavioral transformation unlike any seen in this notoriously truculent primate.

In a study appearing today in the journal PloS Biology (online at www.plosbiology.org), researchers describe the drastic temperamental and tonal shift that occurred in a troop of 62 baboons when its most belligerent members vanished from the scene. The victims were all dominant adult males that had been strong and snarly enough to fight with a neighboring baboon troop over the spoils at a tourist lodge garbage dump, and were exposed there to meat tainted with bovine tuberculosis, which soon killed them. Left behind in the troop, designated the Forest Troop, were the 50 percent of males that had been too subordinate to try dump brawling, as well as all the females and their young. With that change in demographics came a cultural swing toward pacifism, a relaxing of the usually parlous baboon hierarchy, and a willingness to use affection and mutual grooming rather than threats, swipes and bites to foster a patriotic spirit.

Remarkably, the Forest Troop has maintained its genial style over two decades, even though the male survivors of the epidemic have since died or disappeared and been replaced by males from the outside. (As is the case for most primates, baboon females spend their lives in their natal home, while the males leave at puberty to seek their fortunes elsewhere.) The persistence of communal comity suggests that the resident baboons must somehow be instructing the immigrants in the unusual customs of the tribe.



En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 06:14:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was wondering if someone was going to bring them up.  That troop a really good case of Duh?  I have no idea what is going on there.  I haven't studied 'em sufficiently to understand what is happening.

I do want to let you know that the NYT is as accurate in their reporting of Primatology research as they are in Physics.  

If ya get my drift.  ;-)


Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 06:45:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I do want to let you know that I hadn't only heard that story from the NYT, if you get my drift, though the first time I did it came from the NYT indirectly.

Here I linked to an article by Robert Sapolsky, the author of the study. The article is called Peace Among Primates, (see also Part 2). Our friend marco inked to an article by Sapolsky in Foreign Affairs magazine more or less contemporaneous with the NYT story: A Natural History of Peace. And there is discussion of the work in two separate comment threads to melo's diary Neuropsychiatry and religion from 2 years ago, which is about another article by Sapolsky, this time about Schizophrenia.

But I guess we're free to ignore empirical evidence that doesn't fit our theories about baboons, just like we do about humans.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 07:08:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What part of:

I have no idea what is going on there.  I haven't studied 'em sufficiently to understand what is happening.

is unclear?

The Forest Troop is of interest precisely because they are an cultural outlier with male pro-social In Group enculturation and control lying completely outside what is to be expected, predicted,Sapolsky has written

The demographic disaster--what evolutionary biologists term a "selective bottleneck"--had produced a savanna baboon troop quite different from what most experts would have anticipated.

from studies of savanna and jungle dwelling troops.  Through environmental changes the troop has managed to trigger the aggression-dampening mechanisms of the limbic system, the amygdala in particular, and the frontal cortex affecting the decision making process of the high ranking males such that they "act" as if they were subordinate males.  

Again, from Prof. Salpolsky

To date, the most interesting hint about the mechanism of transmission is the way recently transferred males are treated by Forest Troop's resident females. In a typical savanna baboon troop, newly transferred adolescent males spend years slowly working their way into the social fabric; they are extremely low ranking--ignored by females and noted by adult males only as convenient targets for aggression. In Forest Troop, by contrast, new male transfers are inundated with female attention soon after their arrival. Resident females first present themselves sexually to new males an average of 18 days after the males arrive, and they first groom the new males an average of 20 days after they arrive, whereas normal savanna baboons introduce such behaviors after 63 and 78 days, respectively. Furthermore, these welcoming gestures occur more frequently in Forest Troop during the early post-transfer period, and there is four times as much grooming of males by females in Forest Troop as elsewhere. From almost the moment they arrive, in other words, new males find out that in Forest Troop, things are done differently.

(Emphasis added.)

If one is talking about the In Group social behavior of baboons as a species my "theories" stand.  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 03:37:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would posit that in the majority of traditional societies, including matriarchal ones...

Uh, for starters, you know there are no, and never have been any, matriarchal societies, right?  

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 04:37:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not unambiguously matriarchal, but many examples of matrifocal.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 05:30:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i mean the left-wing brain, right-wing brain studies?

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.
by marco on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 07:23:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By Poemless: Odds & Ends: Depression Edition (September 21st, 2007)
I would like to repeat that bit: "Liberals had more brain activity and made fewer mistakes than conservatives when they saw a W..."

Dear God!  Think of how radically different the world would be right now if he had never used his middle initial on those effing ballots!!!!!



En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 07:27:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's one study.  Here's another:

Liberals and atheists smarter? Intelligent people have values novel in human evolutionary history, study finds

More intelligent people are statistically significantly more likely to exhibit social values and religious and political preferences that are novel to the human species in evolutionary history.  Specifically, liberalism and atheism, and for men (but not women), preference for sexual exclusivity correlate with higher intelligence, a new study finds.

<...>

In the current study, Kanazawa argues that humans are evolutionarily designed to be conservative, caring mostly about their family and friends, and being liberal, caring about an indefinite number of genetically unrelated strangers they never meet or interact with, is evolutionarily novel.  So more intelligent children may be more likely to grow up to be liberals.

Data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) support Kanazawa's hypothesis.  Young adults who subjectively identify themselves as "very liberal" have an average IQ of 106 during adolescence while those who identify themselves as "very conservative" have an average IQ of 95 during adolescence. ...



The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.
by marco on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 07:51:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Discussed at length in this recent thread.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 09:23:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that thread focused more on the sexual exclusivity angle rather than on the notion of political tendencies being based in the brain.

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.
by marco on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 11:11:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There was a bit about "how significant is that amount of IQ difference? Not much."

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 01:23:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not sure if he is just making an assertion, or if the statistical mumbo-jumbo he cites is substantive:

The mean adolescent intelligence of young adults who identify themselves as "very liberal" is 106.42, while that of those who identify themselves as "very conservative" is 94.82. The differences in mean adolescent intelligence by adult political ideology is highly statistically significant (F(4, 13053) = 83.6327, p \ .00001).

Figure 1b shows a similarly clear monotonic bivariate relationship between adolescent intelligence and adult religiosity. The higher the intelligence of Add Health respondents in junior high and high school, the less religious they grow up to be in their early adulthood. The absolute difference in mean adolescent intelligence between the extreme categories of religiosity is not as great as that between the extreme categories of political ideology. The mean adolescent intelligence of young adults who identify themselves as "not at all religious" is 103.09, while that of those who identify themselves as "very religious" is 97.14. The difference is still statistically very significant (F(3, 14273) = 78.0381, p \ .00001).

"Why Liberals and Atheists Are More Intelligent"
SATOSHI KANAZAWA



The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.
by marco on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 02:13:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am more interested in the factors that lead to better cooperation than examining the myths of gender. The question is, are there biological differences, genetically based, within and among species, that emerge as cooperative behaviour?

At core, (and I sense you share this view) 'cooperation' seems to me to be a more robust strategy for the survival of the human race than 'competition', and also allows for greater happiness and dignity in daily life. But, I admit, it is a rather amorphous subject that is hard to get a handle on.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 05:45:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why should left/right-wing bias correlate with gender?

A complex question requiring more than a simple response.  A simple response is all I have the energy for as I'm come down with the local variety of plague death.  

There is gender bias towards certain groups or clumps of behavior stemming from the affect of hormones on brain activity.  For example during pregnancy certain nuclei in a woman's brain will de-myelinate, grow more neurons, and restructure the neural net within and between nuclei to provide and support the neuro-physiological basis of mothering.  Another example is the greater inter-communication, compared to male brain, between the left and right hemispheres.

A second aspect of gender bias are the culturally derived - some would claim imposed - gender roles.  This is expected behavior taught during a child's socialization.  

Needs to be acknowledge, at this point, there are physical sexual characteristics and gender characteristics (and self-identification!) which are two different things.  Brain, Mind, and Brain/Mind plasticity plus the individualization of experience embedded in a diverse range of stimulatory environments implies behavioral bias and roles, and under certain conditions, may even impel them, may even be strong enough to allow statistically based generalizations, but does not, and cannot, force individual conformation.  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 at 03:39:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the aeffect of hormones on brain activity.  For example during pregnancy certain nuclei in a woman's brain will de-myelinate, grow more neurons, and restructure the neural net within and between nuclei to provide and support the neuro-physiological basis of mothering.
Let's see...

The more politically active/influential women have their first pregnancy at a later age, typically in their 30's.

Societies in which women are encouraged to have lots of children, have them early, and concentrate on caring for them are not exactly hallmarks of "progressive" social organization.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 06:10:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
Societies in which women are encouraged to have lots of children, have them early, and concentrate on caring for them are not exactly hallmarks of "progressive" social organization.

but maybe their sons have a better chance of being sane, than if they were all raised in creches by strangers.

as for some men being encouraged by their own mothers to be more macho, i think there's some truth to that.

some cultures keep women barefoot and pregnant as a way of keeping them subjugated to patriarchy, but it doesn't have to be that way.

a very complex and tricky subject...

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 09:48:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
a very complex and tricky subject...

I'd say.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 10:07:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
but maybe their sons have a better chance of being sane, than if they were all raised in creches by strangers.

Because the people in the creche a child may attend for quite some time are strangers ... um.

Oh gods, why have ye forsaken me? Is this my punishment for not believing you exist?

That's right, boys and girls, the sanity of the son - the son - is the product of women living as noble savages living in a land of plenty, uh, I mean the product of of the middle class utopia of the 19th century that ... we're one step here from discussing selfish women damaging their son by having interests other than his upbringing. Like 99% of women have always had.

Anyway, did I do this anecdote (which I forget the source of) before? American woman - an anthropologist maybe? - moves to some land of noble savages in which the young infants are never left alone, almost never left down - worn in slings, all that good stuff. Decides to adopt the method for her newborn. After a short while she starts to go lose all reason. She works out why: only a complete fool would try and do that by themselves. The natives are constantly passing the child around - the mother is only carrying him for a smallish proportion of the day and is easily able  to do all the work she needs to do.

The idea of mommy staying at home to look after the kids is far from universal. Almost all women have always had better things to do. Like growing and preparing the food for the damn kids.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 11:19:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Colman:
The idea of mommy staying at home to look after the kids is far from universal.

so is the strange concept of the 'nuclear family', with rows of houses and little community.

i think you may be misunderstanding my point.

creches are better than being left home alone, or bulgarian orphanages, doesn't mean they're all good...

some parenting is so bad the kid would be better off being raised by prussian nuns...

i'm not trying to make any absolute points here!

i do think that using 'professionals' to substitute for real parenting has its risks, and often does as much damage than good.

kids are an assault on reason in any culture, i think.

that's how they clear the way to impose their own 'reason' later on...

:)

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 11:38:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"so is the strange concept of the 'nuclear family', with rows of houses and little community"

Made up in the 19th C, as far as I can work out. If I had time I'd settle into researching a proper diary on the topic.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 11:40:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
it would be a great diary subject, hope you get around to it.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Mar 5th, 2010 at 04:02:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
Why should left/right-wing bias correlate with gender?

Because women as a group has lower incomes and less wealth then men as a group?

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 06:03:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ATinNM:

How much of the mental health problems describe above is due to the vicious anti-human and anti-Humane political, social, and economic system of predatory capitalism?  

a lot. a whole lot.. see R.Laing.

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 04:02:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Laing had some good points.  His notion psychiatry was a tool for social repression was valid in the Lobotomy, clinical Behaviorism, and Freudian eras but not so much today.

Some mental illnesses do, in fact, have a physiological basis or component and be treated and even cured (gadzooks!) on that level.  Some people with some mental illnesses, e.g., violent sociopaths, do need to be locked-up.  And so on & so forth.

We're really at the bare-bones start stage of understanding the brain, much less the mind, even less the Brain/Mind unity.  For far too long people have gotten away with talking pish-posh, empirical free blather.  (Freud, Skinner, and the Philosophy of Mind folks leap to mind, here.)  Yes the psycho-pharmaceutical people are going, "Gosh.  Wonder what happens when we give people this?"  However, today people are trying to figure out what the heck is really going on rather than hiding everything under a haze of nonsense or explaining it away.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 06:27:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I disagree with you, to the extent that all mental illness is physiological imo, as is all mental health. Mental illnesses can be divided into those that emerge from genetic traits which metaprogram experiential responses from the womb onwards and therefore the way networks are formed, those that result from injury or disease where existing networks are modified, and those behaviours that are perceived by others to be illogical (though often not by their sufferers) - which I refer to as Learned Behaviour Disorders.

All other mental states can also be considered Learned Behaviour Disorders, in the same way that the likelihood of a bridge deal of 4 perfect flush hands is the same as in any other combination of a randomized stack of cards divided into four piles by simple rules.

Society is one big LBD; according to me, that is.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 07:13:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wrote (emphasis added)
Some mental illnesses do, in fact, have a physiological basis or component

One of the possible earlier aspects of schizophrenia is a heightening of sensory awareness and an inability to select and focus on a particular stimulus, ignoring the rest.  This sounds like neural over-drive, to me, with inhibitor or 'turn-off' function not working right.  Keep on having your neurons super-excited and they'll die.  And 'sho nuff, a further symptom as the disease progresses is high levels of apathy to sensory stimulation.

I DO NOT KNOW THAT TO BE TRUE!

I merely suspect it.  

But it does fit the facts, which is a major step over - well, most - previous explanations.  

Along with brain causes are mind causes, factors, and reinforcement.  When John Nash, Nobel Prize winner for his work in Game Theory, was asked how he could believe and accept the things he believed during his schizophrenic episodes he responded, "Because the ideas I had about supernatural beings came to me the same way that my mathematical ideas did.  So I took them seriously."  This completes the normal subjective epistemological feedback cycle, the one we use every day for decision making.  Thus the normal human epistemological patterning and pattern seeking - Brain/Mind Unity? - is skewed and reinforced.  

This suggests, to me, looking for triggering affects, sensitivity to initial conditions, & so forth of a auto-catalytic process -- the whole Complexity thing -- would be a useful paradigm for avenues of research.  


Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 02:08:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One little wrinkle I've mentioned before is GABA replenishment. Inhibitory neurons are fueled by GABA. (and GABA is also involved in maintaining muscle tone). GABA is replenished when you sleep. If you don't sleep enough the inhibitory neurons don't inhibit. Cue DJ's trying to perform uninterrupted for 36 hours and ending up in another reality.

The other theory is that if the inhibitory neurons are off work as you sleep, then that could be an explanation for dreaming: networks are still stimulated.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 02:56:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was referencing recurrent collateral projections of come neurons that self-inhibit release of neurotransmitters into the synaptic cleft.  There's also lateral inhibition where a neuron 'turns-off' neurons to 'either side' to sharpen their signal in the Hubel and Wiesel processing layers.  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 03:44:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The other odd thing is that the cerebellum is wired up left side to left side, whereas the cerebrum is wired left to right. I've never seen any suggestions for the ramifications of this. But since the cerebrum and the cerebellum each have their own independent communication systems, there is the possibility of glitches in the spatial construct that we have in our minds.

Perhaps not as simple as our fascination with mirrors, but surely not something totally inconsequential?

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 03:02:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No idea.

I have enough on my plate trying to understand the neuro-anatomy, gross functioning, and interactions of the thalamus, limbic system, and frontal cortex without dragging the cerebellum into the picture.  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 03:51:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But the cerebellum be where it at, man! You are forgiven...

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 01:07:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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