Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
This reminds me some other comments and diaries which suggest that the biggest problem with getting a new narrative into play today is that people lack direct experience of the results of their actions.

You can only work in the environment you're in. Veblen's ideas fit well into frontier culture. In post-industrial neo-capitalist Web 2.0 culture, they look like nostalgia.

This doesn't mean they're wrong. It's just that any new narrative has to intersect with the day to day reality of most people's lives.

While stock brokers may be less intelligent than someone who can repair a tractor, they're better suited to the world they operate in. That's why they're richer, and it's also why they promote rules and narratives which make them richer still.

The only way to change that is to change the rules and the narratives. And that's only going to happen if there are different feedback loops in place which promote different outcomes for given actions.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 11:23:34 AM EST

I think not!

The BIG advantage the Veblen has over the other political economists is that he was technologically literate.  The ability to invent and manufacture is a fixed set of skills and these do not change whether someone is inventing the automobile or an iPod.

I myself am a patented inventor so know quite a bit about the process.  I had already completed my first patent application before I discovered Veblen.  What attracted me to him is that it was clear that he "got it."

What makes this so important is that the ONLY way to avoid a collapse of civilization is to invent our way out of the traps created by peak oil, etc.

Far from being nostalgia, Veblen's ideas are the most relevant out there.  Read him and see!!

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

by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 11:51:55 AM EST
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I'm not disagreeing with you in practice.

The problem is that we (collectively) don't have a narrative framework that someone like Veblen can fit into.

If you have half a brain, solutions to the world's problems boil down to:

  1. Resource husbandry
  2. Human inventiveness

Which is all fine. But you're missing my point, which is that given the narrative systems that everyone works in today, neither of these is given a very high value.

What is given a high value is a stupid game called 'free market capitalism' which can be easily swayed to make some people very rich, and which is currently trying to turn everything it touches into a market.

No matter how clever Veblen was, I doubt anything in his philosophy explains how to tackle the political issue of persuading people to stop acting like idiots and start dealing with physical instead of the symbolic reality of capitalism.

And one reasons for that is that - as I said - many people are completely isolated from the effects of their lifestyle.

Veblen wasn't. But his reality isn't the reality that most people live in today.

So how are you going to persuade people to start paying attention to those kinds of issues when there's absolutely nothing in their immediate environment telling them they have to?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 03:05:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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