The European Tribune is a forum for thoughtful dialogue of European and international issues. You are invited to post comments and your own articles.
Please REGISTER to post.
Then again, when "efficiency" is mentioned -- even in a discourse narrowly and artificially limited to dollars -- we have to ask "efficient at what or toward what end?" Capitalism, for example, is very efficient at concentrating wealth and ownership in the hands of a small elite, and at pillaging biotic and mineral resources in record time. Whether these are desirable goals is not really discussed; all we ever discuss is how much more efficient we can be in achieving them.
The fetishisation of Efficiency goes back to the early industrial revolution and the invention of machine-based mass production (though it was already established as early as corvee labour, thousands of years earlier, it took the engineering/mechanistic mindset of C19 to blossom into its full cultic prominence). The guy to google is Taylor (Frederick), who at first seemed to be helping the worker (who in those days was often paid by the piece or unit) to earn higher pay by getting more done in a day. But the principles of "Taylorism" rendered factory work more and more mindless, compartmentalised, and insanely boring; a win for the bosses, as this meant that the labour force could be nearly skill-less and completely replaceable/interchangeable (i.e. more machine-like and controllable, more "efficient" to manage and exploit). And so on.
If we started with the goal of making people's lives happy, satisfying, and interesting, we might have a whole different notion of efficiency -- call it "Efficacy" perhaps -- something more oriented to Quality than Quantity, and more oriented to the whole/organism rather than the rigorous analysis of decontextualised, atomised parts. But if one starts down this path one is generally accused of "sentiment," "luddism," anti-scientism etc -- despite the tantalising and maddening fact that almost all the recent advances in bio and neuro science come to the same conclusions: a) "it's more complicated than we thought," b) "it's far more interconnected than we thought," c) "actually, it seems to be nonlinear."
recommended reading: S Dehaene's "Reading in the Brain" -- for a glimpse of the massively parallel processing (not a linear assembly line as previously modelled by C19 thinkers) done by stacks of neurons as you and I read these little squiggly marks and render them into more-or-less shared meanings. not an assembly line, but a semi-anarchistic crowd of peers, far more similar to the traditional Japanese village economy than the Toyota plant. fascinating stuff.
The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
But there is this anecdotal 16th C feeling that there are definitely other lands to explore. For the moment, we are still putting 'there be dragons' on our maps. But that's just rorschach projection. To which we are prone.
You can't be me, I'm taken
The "efficiency" of gross centralisation is entirely based on ultra-cheap energy
What makes you think that centralisation is, in general, less energy-efficient than decentralisation?
Centralisation allows you to take advantage of economies of scale (such as running a furnace 24/7, thus saving the energy required to re-heat it after cooling down overnight), and it makes the distance you need to ship intermediate goods much shorter.
Further, centralisation allows you to organise your production around energy sources and modes of transportation that require expensive infrastructure to work - which is the case for almost all sustainable energy sources and almost all modes of transportation powered by sustainable energy sources.
Centralisation also enables a much more fine-grained division of labour, which enables organised knowledge and technology to be brought to bear on the production process in much greater detail. So it is less than perfectly clear that centralisation is always less energy efficient than decentralisation.
The fact that these advantages have in the past been used to optimise production for man-hour efficiency at the expense of energy efficiency does not necessarily mean that this is how they will be used in an energy-constrained economy.
Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.
Energy consumption is one way to compensate for man-hours, and thus create "efficiency," but there's another sort of efficiency to be had by squeezing people out of the trade. Middlemen who formerly had a cut of a particular enterprise are squeezed out, and their profits accrue to one side or the other. That's all fine and good for the end producer and the end consumer, but in the end whole societies are wiped out as inefficiencies, un-necessary to the transaction.
by Frank Schnittger - Aug 1 5 comments
by Oui - Jul 31
by ATinNM - Jul 13 29 comments
by ATinNM - Jul 15 8 comments
by Oui - Jul 24 30 comments
by Oui - Jul 18 37 comments
by Frank Schnittger - Jul 16 5 comments
by IdiotSavant - Jul 15 5 comments
by gmoke - Aug 3
by Frank Schnittger - Aug 15 comments
by Oui - Jul 31
by Oui - Jul 2430 comments
by Oui - Jul 202 comments
by Oui - Jul 1837 comments
by Oui - Jul 184 comments
by Frank Schnittger - Jul 165 comments
by ATinNM - Jul 158 comments
by IdiotSavant - Jul 155 comments
by IdiotSavant - Jul 141 comment
by ATinNM - Jul 1329 comments
by Oui - Jul 1315 comments
by Oui - Jul 1228 comments
by Oui - Jul 11
by Oui - Jul 103 comments
by IdiotSavant - Jul 927 comments
by gmoke - Jul 9
by Oui - Jul 82 comments
by Oui - Jul 84 comments