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Creating A New Left Economic Manifesto - need your help!

by whataboutbob Sat Jul 23rd, 2005 at 09:03:45 AM EST

This is a call to action to the greater European Tribune community: we think we have a great idea for a collective activism project, having to do with creating a new economic approach to  employment and slow growth here in Europe. This is a brainstorming session, to begin with, and we need your input and involvement in getting this going. Here's the basic idea, that came out of a conversation in one of the ET threads:

Tgeraghty: I think what we ought to do, since the French, German, and Italian left seem so bereft of ideas now, is to create a manifesto for them, a set of policy proposals that would seriously address the problems of slow growth and high unemployment, but in a way that preserves the traditional European commitment to social justice.
There's potentially plenty of material available - Sweden, the Netherlands, Ireland, for example, are all countries that have recently faced economic crises and recaptured economic dynamism without totally succumbing to neo-liberal nostrums. We might examine what lessons they hold for the bigger economies. We might also investigate what left policy intellectuals have come up with.

Whataboutbob: TG, I'm sure others will climb on board a project like this. The question is, where to start, but this is an excellent opportunity to also develop our "open source community" around a project. I have been amazed to watch people utilize Daily Kos as a forum to organize investigative journalistic reports (eg, the White House fake reporter scandal, the Downing Street Minutes, etc), and really come up with some material that "grew legs" and made (is making) serious journalistic and political impact. So...where to start...perhaps we should start with a diary, in which we discuss your idea, getting other peoples input, discussing how to break down research into discrete areas, so certain people, or groups of people, could research it together. Maybe we can talk a little more about how to best organize it, who will be the project director(s), etc. We could engage other Euro blogs too. (etc., etc.) Heck, we have our first success with Irishhead's project on the front page, so we know that a little energy put in the right direction can make a big impact!

What do you think? Anyone else out there game?? See more below, for an elaboration of how this developed:

Here's more depth on the subject: Over the last few weeks there have been a number of diaries and front page articles discussing in different ways, the ,,European Economy and Lifestyle", including but not limited to these (and this small list does not including Jerome's many significant posts and comments on the same subject of the European Economy and European confidence):

Germany's Industrial Relations System at Risk?

Germany's Industrial Relations System at Risk, Part II: The Coming Employer Offensive

,,Is the Euro Area Really Worse On Jobs Than the US?"

,,Euroland's Secret Success Story"

(There are other articles too, so please forgive me if I've left any out...but we will want to use them!)

In these articles (which are also loaded with great links to supporting articles and documents) we express our opinions about how the ,,European Economy and Lifestyle" is unique, and are frankly much better than the American economy and lifestyle. Yes, there are problems, ie, slow economic growth and higher unemployment, than we would like...so we can definitely do better, but we have a good thing here, particularly in how we value our people to provide social safety nets and supports.

But there are growing attacks by the American neo-conservatives on our European system, who like to ,crow` about the greatness of their ,,free markets"...but most of that is hype and propaganda...not to mention, a power grab. As I've stated elsewhere, I have fears that ,,we are seeing the beginning of the American neoconservative ideology being pushed on Europe...and I don't know if Europe is ready for it...". In fact, what perhaps is more worrisome, is that out of desperation about high unemployment and slow growth in economies here in Europe, some of the ,,Elite Politicians" are more actively looking towards ,,free market reforms" as some kind of savior. Beyond this, however, I suspect there's something worse: a growing greed in the stock holders and executives of the corporations, who see a chance to make more more wealth, by cutting back the social safety net of the people.

What is also worrisome, is that we hear little in the way of an organized response to these growing threats by the Left. Why does the Left seem so paralyzed? Is it bereft of ideas? Are they too busy fighting for their little turfs? Or what? Not sure, but we think we could do some research and develop a practical policy proposals that we could give to the Left, (and push out into the media), as a way of opposing the attempts of ,,free marketers" to attack the ,,European Lifestyle". So I think I have covered this, in a general way...though welcome further input on this.

Let's begin the brainstorm...

Here's a few things we need to consider in organizing (and please chime in with your ideas, out there, because I'm just trying to get this going and know I'm leaving a lot out):

  1. Which countries to research that have successfully reformed their economies while maintaining their policies of social justice and responsibility? (And who would like to research which countries)
  2. What specific methods should be considered to increase economic growth
  3. What specific methods to improve employment
  4. What about the social safety net? What exists and is working? (unemployment, pensions, healthcare, training, education, family support...)

There's a high likelihood we will may have some politically/philosophical differences of opinion on what and how to approach these issues. But I'd say: let's go into this with an open mind and see what we find first, then perhaps we can find some basic common denominators.

Your thoughts, ideas and involvement requested!

Just to say a little more: this project is going to take a little time to get going, so there is no pressure. Really brainstorming this idea together more is the best place to start, then when we get a clearer idea of what might be the best direction to go with this (and it doesn't have to be my ideas stated above, it could evolve into something else), then we can start on a more practical oriented focus.

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Sat Jul 23rd, 2005 at 03:58:03 PM EST
by TGeraghty on Sat Jul 23rd, 2005 at 09:50:12 PM EST
Some random reading that might underpin such an effort

Waring, Counting for Nothing

Daly and Cobb, For the Common Good

Parecon (unfortunately a real yawner of a book but attempts to lay out the nuts and bolts of a more equitable economic system)

Alperovitz, America Beyond Capitalism

Hawken, Natural Capital

Greider, The Soul of Capitalism

Bell, Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism

The Predatory Economy (can't remember author offhand)

See also:  True Cost Economics Manifesto

if anyone's read any of these and has trenchant critique or additional insights or whatever -- or knows of similar books written from a Euro or Asian perspective -- I'd be very interested to trade reading lists and opinions.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sat Jul 23rd, 2005 at 10:30:03 PM EST
Thanks TG and DeAnander for these books and articles...we will need a good resource list to draw from (and people to read them, or preferably, people who have, and can report back).

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Sun Jul 24th, 2005 at 05:21:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are some more materials on line for those interested in the Greider and Alperovitz books, which I recommend as well:



by TGeraghty on Sun Jul 24th, 2005 at 08:02:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What specific methods should be considered to increase economic growth

Well here's the sticking point isn't it.  Will someone please tell me how to "increase economic growth" without further drawdown of limited resources...? I think an element of any New Left manifesto should be how to manage a sustainable steady-state economy, as opposed to buying into the Infinite Growth mythology.

The only way an economy can grow in a world of limited physical resources is to boom and then bust, to undergo a series of traumatic "game over, reset" moments when much is destroyed (value, physical property, life etc) in order to clear the ground for another growth phase.  The real trick is how to model a human economy on a living ecosystem, so that it runs more or less in balance without either dwindling and dying out, or burgeoning excessively and exhausting its nutrients and waste sinks.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sat Jul 23rd, 2005 at 10:35:50 PM EST
I think an element of any New Left manifesto should be how to manage a sustainable steady-state economy, as opposed to buying into the Infinite Growth mythology. The real trick is how to model a human economy on a living ecosystem, so that it runs more or less in balance without either dwindling and dying out, or burgeoning excessively and exhausting its nutrients and waste sinks.

And...we have to figure out how to talk about this effectively, so people won't reject it out of hand as being anti-business or "kooky". That said, today, with peak oil (and many other problems) now being discussed, it makes complete sense to be talking about a sustainable economy.

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Sun Jul 24th, 2005 at 05:26:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
so people won't reject it out of hand as being anti-business or "kooky"

Right, and we might add "as being anti-jobs". The notion that if we don't have growth we don't have jobs, is now deeply ingrained into most people's minds. (Yes, the US is currently showing that you can have "growth" and not have jobs, but that's not the MSM's conventional wisdom).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jul 24th, 2005 at 08:46:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
yes, this is a fundamental issue. We must redefine "growth" as doing the same with fewer resources, i.e. focus on efficiency and not on total output. We should focus on value added and not just on (monetary) value, which means that we must price inputs correctly.

We should fight hidden or implicit subsidies, and regulate eternalities.

REGULATION is what we nesd to work on.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Jul 24th, 2005 at 05:38:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Below comes an incoherent heap of ideas and arguments, but if this is a brainstorming, it might be alright :-)

Regarding 1), I think this would be a wrong approach. On one hand, we are progressives, thus we don't need past examples - our proposals could (and in my personal opinion, should) be of something new. At best, we could praise single measures, rather than a whole country.

I will treat 2) and 3) together. This will be rather long. (Special note to DeAnander: my treatment will start like a conventional approach, but at the end - I hope in your eyes too - move much closer to what you emphasized.)

First, when I denied the importance of demographic structure in the present voes, I didn't say where I think the cause lies, now I do. I think the issue is technology. If a big new technology goes economical, it will create a lot of jobs and growth, until 'the market is saturated'. In capitalism (but to some degree in an idealised socialism too), from this point on, companies can try marketing, product improvements - and rationalisation of production, which inexorably leads to loss of jobs.

Now, a 'big new technology', in my eyes, was f.e. the steam engine, the railway, electricity, cars. Each of these transformed the economy and society in a fundamental way: not simply replacing some older technology in a more efficient (and resource-wasting) way. Compared to these, mobile phones are nothing, and even personal computers aren't much. That is, in short: I think we're struck in technological progress.

But, I think there would be rather good directions to head for. You guessed it: I am mainly thinking of alternative energies. I note there are already more jobs in wind and solar in Germany than in the entire supply chain of coal and coal-fired power plants! Alternative energies like wind and solar wouldn't only replace fossil fuel wasting electricity production as we have it today: the end result would be a highly decentralised, but strongly interdependent system.

Something qualitatively different from both the libertarians' and neoliberals' mad individualism and the centralised statism of classic social democracy and socialism - with corresponding social effects. Among them, specifically, the rural population would regain importance, and much of the third world would gain something that benefits the domestic population and can be sold to the North without a situation of exploitation and depletion.

Now, consider that each of the 'big new technologies' I listed were successful not on their own on a free market, but benefitted from heavy pushing by the state, or other communal instances. This precedent should serve us as both a model and an argument against the market fundies.

I'll go further: I recommend a specific measure. It is one actually applied, with success, even copied elsewhere (tough most often by hollowing out the basic principle). But, also one whose lasting success would need people's good understanding of its basic principle and their defense of it against propaganda from opponents. It is the German law on feeding electricity from renewables into the grid.

Instead of giving state subsidies, this law makes the purchase of such electricity obligatory to distributors, that at a fixed price, thus distributing the extra costs among users. The fixed price is above market price, but decreases over the years, thus limiting the extra costs. The result is a separate market for alternative energy, where producers don't have to compete with say gas turbine producers, but do have to compete with each other - resulting in development which makes these technologies cheaper. (If someone objects to the capitalist element in this, I refer back to the passage on decentralised-interdependent production.*)

On a more general note, to close this part off, I think a sustained effort to transform the economy can in itself generate more jobs (and GDP growth), including a sustained effort to get a self-sustaining economy, one not living off fast depleting fossil resources.

But, I have to address two more issues. One is productivity. I think a new leftist economic manifesto should argue hotly against the current productivity fetishism. First, the obvious point should be made that two half as productive men doing the same job for half the pay is not worse in any way for a company, even if average productivity is less. What matters for a capitalist company (and a socialist company interested in upgrading its machines) is workers' product per pay - that is, in effect, profit; so all of the talk about productivity would be a distraction, save for tax and tributes issues (these costs can depend on the number of workers in a nonlinear way).

Now applying the above principle may lessen the number of jobless, but not change, just shift social problems. But, in my observation, the current productivity fetishism results in a lot of totally silly decisions even from an economic point of view: companies fire old 'unproductive' guys with experience, and then lose much money when systems break down and no one knows why; companies hire young hotshots but pay exorbitant sums to them, much more than the productivity gain; big companies rationalise away specific kinds of jobs, entrusting the necessary tasks to others or machines, but the others would often have to do their original and new tasks at the same time, while customers are put off by inflexible automats; and so on.

The second issue is: what number do we consider the measure of progress? In today's neoliberal consensus, GDP. Some people criticise various different ways to measure GDP. There are many who argue for GNP. Others reject such measures entirely. I'll do neither, but suggest something rather vague (at least in my mind, don't know if others tried to attempt to quantify this).

In the nineties, it became normal to measure the prowres of a company not merely by the real profit it made, but add the change in its value (i.e. stock market value, assets' auditioned value). Yes, this led to the bubbles of the nineties, but this got me thinking. What if we somehow add the change in value of life in general to GDP? The increase and decrease of estate prices, house prices? The decrease of public health? The increase of stress and discomfort of due to noise? The decrease of natural resources? The decrease of pleasure from seeing nature? The decrease of good arable land?

I will not address 4) - I have some thoughts on this, but rather weakly formed.

* If anything good can be said of any part of capitalism, it is that competition can bring technological improvements. Even in the nominally socialist, in practice state capitalist (= production was non-profit and the means of production were nominally owned by The People, in practice by the Party cadre) Soviet Union, the competition of design bureaus - say, MiG vs. Suhoi - was employed to push development (tough of only stuff we don't welcome).

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

by DoDo on Sun Jul 24th, 2005 at 08:01:46 AM EST
Dodo, many interesting points, and a valid approach, but I find myself disagreeing with a number of your conclusions. Let me point out a few things which will hopefully get the discussion going:

  • on the German feed-in law. I agree that it has been a great way to kick start the industry, but we are getting now to the point where it is becoming slightly counter-productive as it creates rents for some green producers and encourages the exploitation of sub-optimal wind sites. I would recommend the Spanish regulatory framework, which has proven to be just as effective (including to help build a domestic manufacturign capacity) and which has fewer negative side effects. It is based on a twin mechanism - one for small windfarms, which get also a fixed tariff (linked to a percentage (80-90%) of the regulated retail electricity price, thus ensuring that it creates no unfair burden for power distributors), and one for larger manufacturers, which get the market price for electricity plus a green premium, which can be either (and the producers get to choose each year) a fraction of the regulated price (but adjustable every 4 years by the government) or a full market price supported by the obligation for traditional power producers to buy such green certificates pro rata to what they pollute. With a government fully committed to renewable energy, as in Spain, this means that the regulated tariff never remains too high too long, i.e. the government can set it at the level which allows for the best projects to be economic but not the borderline ones, AND it encourages polluting producers to switch to better forms of power production.  Such market-based mechanisms work and should be more palatable to the business world, and the business media, which matters;

  • on productivity, I am not sure that it is right ot fight that concept. As I wrote briefly above, we should focus productivity towards increasing efficiency instead of towards increasing output. Maybe we agree in the sense that we should not focus only on increasing the productivity of labor, but rather on increasing the productivity of capital, and even more the productivity of "rent", i.e. of natural resources or other such "free" value provided by our environment (one of Stirling Newberry's better economic diaries over on dKos a couple of months' back was about the economics of rent - it would definitely be worth linking to here but I cannot do that for now).

I fully agree on the need for a redefinition of some of the most basic numbers we use to measure "progress". GDP is one of those. Consider simply that when you switch off a light, you reduce GDP (because the power company sells you less and loses turnover), whereas you are saving resources. When you have a car accident, it generates activity GDP (the tow truck, the repairs, the road patrol, possibly the hospital and associated expenses) but everybody can feel properly that such activity could have been used more productively, precisely...
So we do need to focus on value added, and we should probably adopt some of the more sensible rules of corporate accounting for public accounts and "wealth"-like statistics like GDP, such as:

  • depreciation of public assets: that would reflect the fact that a lot of GDP is used up in that same year and creates no lasting wealth - and that should apply to assets as well. That would of course require that some "public" balance sheet is built up, and that's where a number of externalities could be valued. It would be reasonably easy to give a value to buildings, infrastructure and other physical assets (which could already provide some nasty surprises if you depreciate them in a realistic way); the next thing to put on the balance sheet would be all natural resources. That way, they would already be part of our wealth, and their exploitation would only create value if they are smartly used, not just from extracting them. The next step would to value collective goods (museums, hospitals, parks, clean air, clean water) - and that would be an interesting fight. But if we have already managed to bring the fight to "how much to value them" instead of "this will hamper economic growth).

  • accounting of off-balance sheet liabilities, i.e. things done today that will, or may, incur costs later. That would make more visible all the shenanigans that we do now and that pass costs on to future generations (open ended commitments, polluting air and water and ecosystems, draining finite resources);

  • counting some activities as costs and not as value creation. Using resources is an obvious one (and easy to make it appear as a cost if the resources already "belongs" to the public in our collective accounts), and this should extend as much as possible to all externalities. If an increase in CO2 in the atmosphere translates into negative GDP-equivalent, then we will care about it.

This certainly fits in also with Deanander's links about "true cost economics", which I have not been able to access.

The other thing that we need to focus on is REGULATION, i.e. enforcement by the government of rules that apply to public goods and externalities. The above accounting can only happen if it is done by a "neutral" public entity representing the collective interest (i.e. the State or equivalent), and it can work only if all private interactions with such public goods are accounted for, i.e. are known, made public, and properly valued. Thus the State must police the use of public goods, must measure their use or abuse, and must enforce the rules that apply (i.e. make people or corporates follow the rules and pay the requisite fee/fine for use/abuse of public good) RUTHLESSLY. This means that regulatory agencies (and/or relevant government departments) must be funded well enough to do their job (defining the rules smartly and enforcing the law).

Linked to that is the regulation of the labor market, which should benefit from the same kind of treatment - i.e. ruthless enforcement of existing rules.
While we're at it, I am personally favorable to an elimination of corporate taxes, and a simplification of personal taxes via a flat tax with a high deductible. while this may not sound lefty as a proposal, I'd like to argue that it is. When you don't work in that world, you cannot imagine the effort, imagination and ingenuity that is put to lower tax burdens on companies. With the current complexity of tax systems, there are always loopholes, advantages, breaks, tax give employment to armies of accountants, lawyers and bankers, to no obvious value added (there is value to the company, as it pays less taxes, but no obvious value to society to spend so much talent avoiding tax). All corporate taxes are passed on to consumers eventually. Taxes on consumption and revenue (to include capital revenues) make a lot more sense, and the VAT, with its self-enforcement mechanism, is very easy to police and costs little (relatively speaking) to collect. I also have the nagging suspicion that a very simple flat tax, with no breaks whatsoever, would make the rich actually pay more. If you put a decent exemption for the first mayer of revenues, you'd have a nicely progressive tax as well.

Of course, a number of these ideas run against the fact that they are useless if only applied in one country (you just handicap yourself while your competitors keep their old behavior without paying for their use of externalities), so there needs to be at least a continent-wide application of them, combined with some form or external tariff linked to these externalities (to be discussed in a later episode...)

I am thinking out loud here, so all comments, and critique, welcome...

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Jul 24th, 2005 at 10:50:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with the productivity point. We certainly do want to increase labor productivity, but people (especially in rich countries) don't necessarily need to enjoy the increase in the form of more material goods and services. We could, alternatively, choose more free time by reducing the work week or lowering the retirement age (see the Greider  "Riding into the Sunset" piece for Robert Fogel's views on material vs. "spiritual" well-being).
by TGeraghty on Sun Jul 24th, 2005 at 10:52:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You might also check this out, thanks to Paul Rosenberg for posting it:

[T]he whole World Values Survey, which grew out of the European Values Survey in 1981, is concerned with tracking value evolution across the globe, which is commonly seen as a two-step process.  Though it is often simply referred to as "modernization," a more precise description differentiates between two stages.

The first is modernization, which involves the transition from agriculture to industrial societies, dominated by increases in income that translate into increased well-being. The second is post-modernization, which involves a shift in emphasis toward quality of life,  self-expression and self-determination. . . .

The two-phase structure is very evident in the following graph of GNP and perceived well-being:

which is schematized thus:

by TGeraghty on Mon Jul 25th, 2005 at 06:33:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This comment, in itself, could...and probably should, become a diary all on its own. Very interesting example of a new way to gauge sucess (thanks!)

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Tue Jul 26th, 2005 at 02:36:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by TGeraghty on Sun Jul 24th, 2005 at 10:57:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I strongly agree with your point of dectralizing the energy production, although it has to be applied differently wrt to rural and urban areas.  In general though, energy production should be as local and dectralized as possible.  (Cut out the middlemen.)

Secondly, I think that localization should be applied to production more strongly.  While it makes sense in capitalism to focus on a particular domain and then gain a big market share world-wide, it produces lots of waste and huge transportation issues.  This applies to food in particular.  Does it really make sense to raise the piggies in one country, ship them to another country to be turned into meat and then have the "product" (food) distributed all over Europe?

by hesk on Sun Jul 24th, 2005 at 02:09:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You must also decide whether you are embarking on a nationalistic project to improve the economies of Europe (presumably excluding capitalist Britain) at the expense of the third world, or are trying to solve the problems of both Europe and, say, China.

For example, Europe could simply put up unbreachable import/export walls and isolate herself from competition with the rest of the world. (Note: No more access to oil or uranium.) Is this an acceptable proposal?

It seems to me that without such barriers to the rest of the world, Europe is forced to compete with cheap labor and unexploited resources in the third world, and with the more-or-less unconstrained capitalism of the US--and to a lesser extent the UK.

So, without strong trade barriers, one requirement of the project is that the resulting system must be able to compete with China, India, and the Americas.

by asdf on Sun Jul 24th, 2005 at 09:17:17 AM EST
And not only compete with the world, but wrestle with the question of building European wealth by the exploitation of the third world poor.
by asdf on Sun Jul 24th, 2005 at 09:18:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
bonddad just posted a diary over at dkos refuting supply-side economics: A Refutation of Republican Economic Talking Points.

He mentions the effects of tax cuts/tax increases to growth and GDP.  It might be interesting to have a similar comparison wrt the tax policy in European countries (if applicable).

by hesk on Sun Jul 24th, 2005 at 03:50:27 PM EST
Taking a turn in a new direction for the moment...there are a few things to consider:

  1.  Let's identify which countries are we going to look at? Which countries are having "success" in Europe, and which are having a "success" after experiencing a downturn, and still supporting social justice? Ireland has been noted. Others? In the greater "Europe", we are talking about 25 countries. Which counties are closer to sustainable economies? (Maybe we even look at the whole world here).

  2. I think we can have the freedom here of looking at parts of systems that are effective, not necessarily having to take whole political and social systems of a given country. In fact, I think we need to have a simple "manifesto" that could be applied independently by different coutnries, according to their needs. But let's identify what is working.

  3. We have started to do this in discussions above, but clearly identifying what we really want to focus on first. Sustainable economy. What? Energy. Okay, that's one. What else.

  4. There's a long list of areas to look at...but do we go simple first...try to identify what are the basics first? Agriculture (food). Education. Health/Healthcare. Jobs. Energy. Environmemt. Yes..security and police. Immigration (that's a hot one...). Taxation. Transportation. Communication. Therê's probably more...but that's a big list. Where do we focus?

  5. And how do we create something that "Joe Europe" can understand and get behind?

...that's some big picture wonderings...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Mon Jul 25th, 2005 at 01:48:49 PM EST
If non-Europeans are not invited then please ignore the rest of this post.

If you are uninterested in actual NEW (zounds!) economic ideas, analysis, and policies then please ignore the rest of this post.  I make this point only because I've been bitten too many times over too many years by people claiming they want new ideas when what they really want are their old concepts in a fancy new wrapper.



Santa Fe Institute: Studies of Complexity Addison-Wesley.

Vol. V The Economy as an Evolving Complex System. P. W. Anderson, K. Arrow, D. Pines.  1988.

Vol.XIX Complexity: Metaphors, Models, and Reality. G. Cowan, D. Pines, and D. Meltzer. 1994.


Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos. M. Mitchell Waldrop. Simon and Schuster, New York, London, & etc. 1992.  

Complexification: Explaining a Paradoxical World Through the Science of Surprise.  John L. Casti. HarperPerennial, New York. 1995.

Chaos: Making a New Science. James Gleick. Penquin Group, London, & etc.  1987.


Steve Keen author of Debunking Economics.  I wish to particulary draw your attention to this article.  I suggest someone who can speak or read French (not me, alas) get in touch with the PAE.

There is a link to Paul Omerond's (Death of Economics, Butterfly Economics)website in the above but I'm going to break it out a specific link for emphasis.  

It is time and past time for us, the Left, to move into the 21st Century and junk the intellectual stagnation from the bloody-be-damned fixation with the 19th Century.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Jul 25th, 2005 at 10:37:26 PM EST
Thank you ATinNM!

more tasty reading.  I'm going to plug Cosma Shalizi again -- who works at a Center for the Study of Complex Systems.  google for Three Toed Sloth.

from economies to the human body to ecosystems, the discoveries of our generation seem to be consistently that "things are far more complex and nonlinear than we thought" and that Cartesian reductionism is a clumsy hammer w/which to tinker with delicate clockwork.

whether we'll survive our infatuation with the 19th century is another matter -- its tropes and memes seem to have such a hold on our imagination that we are, literally, willing to die rather than let go of them...

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Tue Jul 26th, 2005 at 12:38:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This one is an easy read but breath-taking in insight and scope:

Dark Age Ahead.  Jane Jacobs. Random House, New York.  2004.

Jane Jacobs is one smart and wise lady and when she speaks I listen very carefully.  Most of the material in the above references are covered, albeit in an informal manner.

If you read nothing else: Read This Book.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Jul 26th, 2005 at 01:52:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It would make a nice diary, maybe even with some other stuff from the material you cited.
by hesk on Tue Jul 26th, 2005 at 09:01:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I found this on the UN Development Program website


the definition of "development":

"The basic purpose of development is to enlarge people's choices. In principle, these choices can be infinite and can change over time. People often value achievements that do not show up at all, or not immediately, in income or growth figures: greater access to knowledge, better nutrition and health services, more secure livelihoods, security against crime and physical violence, satisfying leisure hours, political and cultural freedoms and sense of participation in community activities. The objective of development is to create an enabling environment for people to enjoy long, healthy and creative lives."
Mahbub ul Haq

Development work typically refers to work done with third world "dveloping" countries...but this definition seems applicable to me.

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Tue Jul 26th, 2005 at 03:12:08 AM EST
Worth a study might be the Mondragon Cooperative Networks of the Basque country.
The gradual expansion of the co-operatives is reflected in the growth of socios. Two years after its initiation, Mondragon boasted 143 worker-owners--nearly a 600 percent increase in membership. This is remarkable, considering that these socios initially had to invest one years' worth of salary to join, years before the CLP offered low-interest loans for the purpose. After the formation of the CLP, individuals were given investment accounts, which grew and shrank based upon the performance of their respective co-ops. Taken by itself, such an investment is a high-risk activity; should the enterprise fail, the worker-owner is left with nothing. Happily, this is a rare occurrence: out of the hundred co-operatives begun under the Mondragon umbrella between 1956 and 1982, only one suffered failure. Such a system of worker investment appears to carry more benefits than risks; rewarded by group profit more than the average, non-co-op employee, it is in the interest of each worker-owner to labor harder. This is reflected in economic studies of Mondragon, which state that the co-operatives are 7.5% more efficient than equivalent large businesses, and forty percent more effective than small and medium-sized businesses. Spanish business remains extremely sensitive to fluctuations in the economy, and Mondragon is no exception; nevertheless, in times of economic recession the Basque co-operatives tend to have lower unemployment figures than capitalist enterprises. Those unemployed in times of slow work still retain their status as owners, and all the dividends on their investment.

The Basque co-op concept has spread to the US in the form of Arizmendi Bakeries.

It's easy to see why Perez is a tireless proselytizer who has worked to establish three spin-off coops, the Arizmendi bakeries in Oakland, San Francisco and Emeryville. To anyone who has slogged through a wage-slave job or had a domineering boss, a collectively run cooperative sounds like a workers' paradise. It has no hierarchy and no supervisors because everyone is an owner. Everyone makes the same amount of money and everyone is responsible for making the business work. Everyone does all the jobs. No one gets summarily fired. Decisions are made by consensus. At the end of the year, some money goes to charity and some is invested back into the business. The rest of the profits, instead of enriching one or two individuals, are returned to all the worker-owners -- a rising tide lifting many boats.

This level of emotional and financial investment creates a radically different attitude toward work, Perez says, one emphasizing personal responsibility and flexibility. "If we don't have a boss and I tell you to turn out the lights when you leave, you're going to do it because it means more money for all of us," Perez says. "But if someone is breathing down your neck, you might not."

He says he used to work at a big-box retailer. "Corporate America, okay? They don't treat you like human beings. They treat you like robots. Your opinion is not appreciated."

Terry Baird, 59, a member of the Arizmendi Cooperative on Oakland's Lakeshore Drive since it opened in 1997, jokes (or not) about the effect of this. "If you work here and go somewhere else, you're kind of wrecked for the traditional work environment," he says. "The first time you say to your boss, `Let's vote on this,' they're gonna look at you funny."

There's something else about cooperatives. In an economy with a lot of coops, the number of well-paid, self-directed workers would mean a larger, wealthier middle class, and therefore a healthier community. The goal is a society in which all people, not only the fittest, enjoy economic security.

That last part sounds like a good talking point for a New Left economic proposal.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Tue Jul 26th, 2005 at 11:51:37 PM EST
Here are a couple of links to information about defining and managing the commons:
by TGeraghty on Wed Jul 27th, 2005 at 02:31:11 AM EST
I think this diary deserves better than to fall into oblivion. As I proposed in Colman's front page diary What power do we have?, I think we should make this diary a live issue on Eurotrib.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Aug 3rd, 2005 at 06:43:58 PM EST

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