Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Intellectual property can go away, if the intellectual body won't get enough food. Even information on PC hard disks, books or even stone won't necessarily last forever.

Michael Hudson wrote or talked interestingly on the history of debt. He kind of agrees with Soddy that compound interest is an evil; it was probably an important factor in destabilizing civilizations since long.

But the analogy with thermodynamics does not look very instructive to me. We have merely a miss-match between exponential math and the physical world.

Generally, to have interesting developments, you need cyclic chains of events, or possibility to return to previous states. Classical thermodynamics kind of forbids cycles in equilibrium regimes; to have dynamics back to higher entropy states you need energy input. Once cycles of events are possible, they may organize and evolve themselves in some vaguely Darwinian fashion.

It is probably more instructive to look at the modern economy not from the bottom thermodynamics, but from a deep Darwinian point of view. Surely, Darwinian methaphors are prevalent enough in economic and social settings. Once you start talking about Darwinism, a whole train of images and recognizable comprehension kicks in - most of it rather irrelevant to a particular discussion.

What I mean by deep Darwinism here is manners in which repetitive events can organize themselves. It is an alternative to stochastic and deterministic chaos understanding of complex phenomena. Instead of wondering at fractals and "butterfly effects", the logic of self-enforcement and impulsive reaction should be appreciated. The physical models (be it stochastic or deterministic) are fine, and they do provide basic cause-effect pieces. But when it comes to pondering about unstable sensitivity to initial state parameters, or stochastic thresholds, limitations of those models should be recognized. That unstable sensitivity can actually be resolved by something outside the limited model! Particular events or causal effects can appear more numerously not by physical inevitabilities but by pieces of the natural selection logic: some events allow themselves to repeat successively, some events are 'suicidal'. Could repates - "repetitive event patterns" be considered as a new kind of replicators, along with genes and memes? (Cybernetic models are quite appropriate to this understanding. )

In the modern economics, the are surely pressures and forcings from macro-economic parameters of inflation and other various growths. But no less important are how macro-economic relations developed historically, and surely, how people and institutions adapt to the 'inevitable' pressures. Events repeat themselves because predominantly only historical pulls and pushes are tried (even if dressed in new ideology clothes), and then institutions and people compete and cooperate in whatever ways... A macroeconomic pressure is not just a given condition; it can become a tool (overt or concealed) of rather intelligent, confident, though not necessarily very bright, agents here and there.

by das monde on Tue Mar 11th, 2008 at 09:37:36 PM EST
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