297. speeding train falling apart

January 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

doug : Dare I take a minute to tell you what is on my mind?

friend: Sure

doug : OK. we are on a train careening across a landscape that we can hardly see, but for those with eyes and hearts, there are people out there not doing well, and the train is falling apart, but we can’t stop because most of the people on the train are fed and nourished by its speed. If the train were to stop or slow, they would die, yet the train continues to disintegrate. What to do? Write poems?

friend: go down with the ship.

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235. Reading "conservative"

August 31, 2009 § Leave a comment

Worthwhile to read “over there” to know some of what is happening to opinion in the US. The anger is combined with ideology and belief rather than any economic realism about the current world. But interesting, intersting, to see how it works, and to force better analysis from any progressive side. After all, it is not working. Now what?

Backyard Fence.

229. Ping Chen, Ph.D. Homepage

August 18, 2009 § Leave a comment

Ping Chen, Ph.D. Homepage.

This fellow is amazing

The Adam Smith dilemma discovered by George Stigler in 1951, i.e., the Smith theory of invisible hand and perfect competition is incompatible with the Smith theorem on the division of labor limited by the market extent which implies market monopoly. Proposed a trade-off between stability and complexity based on the new science of complexity. Proposed a generalized Smith theorem that the division of labor is limited by the market extend, resource diversity, and environment fluctuations (1999-2002);

see also

Ping Chen at PKU | The Economist

Ping Chen_Chen, Ping_EN_北京大学中国经济研究中心

Unveiling the Secrets of the American Economic Boom in the 1990s/Recommended Reading – Beijing International MBA at Peking University

216. Kierkegaard

August 9, 2009 § Leave a comment

I’ve been reading his Concept of Dread. He builds an entire book on what we might thin of as a small deal, but as he makes clear, dread is a pervasive aspect of human lives, maybe all lives, and yet we do not recognize it, not make much of today. In the past, say in christian meditation, getting clear about such feelings was important. Our sense today of what a human being is is weak because we ignore suc explorations.

214. progressives and meaning

August 9, 2009 § Leave a comment

This is important. the description of progesive conversations is often too correct.

But organizers for social change face a critical problem. Trying to mobilize people strictly on a rational basis, and in particular with uncritical acceptance of the assumptions of a consumer driven economy, is proving increasingly difficult.  On paper it should be working. Intensive values surveys of Canadians consistently reveal that they are progressive in their views about the role of government and the value of community. On the basis of such surveys, over 60 per cent of Canadians could be described politically as social democratic. And yet we see two neo-liberal federal leaders and their parties garnering two thirds of Canadians’ voting intentions. Something is very wrong here.

What makes people identify?

It raises the question of why people get engaged. Why is that tens of millions get into an emotional frenzy over the death of a pop star or identify their lives with a professional sports team but can’t be convinced to fight for social programs that would increase the quality of life of their communities? Why do further millions identify with right-wing evangelical religion rather than the call for secular social justice?

According to Lerner, they are in a search for meaning and in the context of the destruction of community of the past 30 years, they find in sports and Michael Jackson’s fandom pseudo-communities they can identify with. In their quest for community they pass by the door that says left-wing politics. Why?  You need not search much further than the typical political meeting — overly earnest, boring, economistic, gloom and doom and, except on rare occasions, distinctly unwelcoming to the newcomers who have braved their first tentative outing.

And after the meeting? Nothing. No nurturing. No ongoing connection. No community.

While the U.S. example does not apply as clearly here, Lerner’s analysis of why the Christian right in the U.S. has been so successful has lessons for Canadian activists.

via The Tyee — Left Needs Soul Searching.

188. Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation

August 1, 2009 § Leave a comment

This is a great description of the social side of economics. Seems to pertain to today. This from Wikipedia.

The Great Transformation is a book by Karl Polanyi, a Hungarian political economist. First published in 1944, it deals with the social and political upheavals that took place in England during the rise of the market economy. Polanyi contends that the modern market economy and the modern nation-state should be understood not as discrete elements, but as the single human invention he calls the Market Society.

Polanyi argued that the development of the modern state went hand in hand with the development of modern market economies and that these two changes were inexorably linked in history. His reasoning for this was that the powerful modern state was needed to push changes in social structure that allowed for a competitive capitalist economy, and that a capitalist economy required a strong state to mitigate its harsher effects. For Polanyi, these changes implied the destruction of the basic social order that had existed throughout all earlier history, which is why he emphasized the greatness of the transformation. His empirical case in large part relied upon analysis of the Speenhamland laws, which he saw not only as the last attempt of the squirearchy to preserve the traditional system of production and social order, but also a self-defensive measure on the part of society that mitigated the disruption of the most violent period of economic change. The book also presented his belief that market society is unsustainable because it is fatally destructive to the human and natural contexts it inhabits.

Polanyi turns the tables on the orthodox liberal account of the rise of capitalism by arguing that “laissez-faire was planned”, whereas social protectionism was a spontaneous reaction to the social dislocation imposed by an unrestrained free market. He argues that the construction of a ‘self-regulating’ market necessitates the separation of society into economic and political realms. Polanyi does not deny that the self-regulating market has brought “unheard of material wealth” , however he suggests that this is too narrow a focus. The market, once it considers land, labor and money as “fictitious commodities” (fictitious because each possesses qualities that are not expressed in the formal rationality of the market) “subordinate[s] the substance of society itself to the laws of the market.”[1] This, he argues, results in massive social dislocation, and spontaneous moves by society to protect itself. In effect, Polanyi argues that once the free market attempts to separate itself from the fabric of society, social protectionism is society’s natural response; this he calls the ‘counter movement’. Polanyi did not see economics as a subject closed off from other fields of enquiry, indeed he saw economic and social problems as inherently linked. He ended his work with a prediction of a socialist society (not altogether unlike the modern European welfare state), noting, “after a century of blind ‘improvement’, man is restoring his ‘habitation.'”[2]

via The Great Transformation – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

184. the power of the need to believe.

August 1, 2009 § Leave a comment

Pascal: “The mind naturally believes and the will naturally loves; so that if lacking true objects, they must attach themselves to false ones.” (Pensées II);

via JULIA KRISTEVA A Freudian Approach The Pre-religious Need To Believe.

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