The models in WHEE dissent from a general economic perspective in the sense that there is no stage of history that is capitalist. Capitalism gestated in the paleolithic, emerged in forms mixed with state economies in the ancient world, and then in a confusing take off in the context of the industrial revolution a partial ideology of ‘capitalism’ and its merits accompanied the free market explosion of globalization. For capitalism to be stage of history it would have to show a scientific definition of itself, and this it can’t provide. There is no ‘law’ of economics, only the decisions to create economic rules in a game of human invention. We can decide to self-alienate in a system of some degree of mechanical inevitability, but at no point are we enjoined to stay within capitalism because it has any historical determination. It has only human determination. And we can change our minds, or fight against those who have chosen the rules. And this is suddenly obvious now that the effects of market laissez-faire slide into catastrophe: elements of fantasy wrecked the conception from the start. And the outcome is dangerous and delusive. Even Xtainity is being trashed in a witch’s brew of Ayn Rand. One can only come to one’s senses and declare ‘capitalist fantasy’ is over.
Attacking marginalism head on is not likely to succeed, and it hardly matters. To the degree that it is science it is still bound by the larger context of ‘macro’ effects of whole economies, and if it is pseudo-science it will nonetheless prevail over rational argument. The issue, and here marxism confounded facts and values in its brand of scientism, is the creation of a society according to the values seen in a challenge to its evils of ideology and class.
The methods of calculus are at best a side issue. Like fly casting the question is, what will hook a trout? Here what will hook an economist is an argument dressed up with calculus. If these methods have really produced a macroeconomic science, fine, but it is very doubtful if this is the case, but the arcana revolve around some very had to penetrate mysteries, such as the Arrow Debreu and advanced analysis. The experts are confused and the non-experts can’t enter the game at all: it is a class based esotericism. I think postcapitalism is being delayed by mathematical fixation, we should change the rules to robust models of a simpler and better founded variety. I find it doubtful that a form of communist economics is forever banished because of the theories now current.
The question of how to treat whole economic systems with models, mathematical or not, remains unsolved, so we are always back to square one as we note that mathematical algae bloom in theory now accompanies the final triumph of neoliberal domination. Is the mathematics simply a smokescreen?
The new atheist movement is something of a puzzle: not just americans, but many world wide, have been turning away from religion….But what does that mean? The assertion is based on a confused use of the term religion which means sometimes all possible religions, just Xtianity, Islam but not Xtianity, Xtianity and Islam, but not buddhism, etc…
The refusal to correctly define religion will ultimately create a kind of chaos because of the vague usage of the term. Sometimes the term is based on science, bad science, and there the theory of evolution according to Darwin is creating even more chaos. Many in the Bible Belt can see the problem, but advanced string theorists cannot.
The confusion goes on and on: let me suggest a few points here: Axial Age religions are indeed likely to wane in the wake of the modern transition, saying this in reference to the historical model of WHEE. But there is also the factor of the Reformation: Xtian churches have undergone a transformation into modernity and were a part of the major trends toward freedom, democracy, and abolition. We should be wary of amputating these institutions in the name of–what? atheism scientism? darwinism? It is not clear what the future holds, but it is true that Axial Age religions, such as Xtianity, Islam, Buddhism, have shown a considerable erosion. On the other hand the entry of Buddhism into the West has shown a near rebirth of that religion, next to its adjunct Hinduism, no less.
The ironies of metaphysics suggest an equal confusion will arise from atheism after the confusions of theism. And there is a good Kantian take on that, now vintage modernism.
Whatever the case, the passing of ‘religion’ raises the question of what replaces it? And here we get the completely nutty brands like the new atheism, which are so confused they cannot be a rational substitute for religion.
The end of ‘religion’ can take many forms. People can start to study the history of religion unconstrained by tenets of required belief. They can activate for the first time a de-churched religious study without dogmatic constraints. They can free themselves to study world religion, its history, and significance. They can study other religions, like buddhism. They can study the methods to develop consciousness often sidelined in group religious communities. Atheist buddhists can study the issues of theism, and theists can study the issues of atheism in religion. This is a strange blind spot in the new atheists: religions of god are no good for atheists, but atheist buddhism has to be part of the destruction.
The point here is that the new atheist movement is a kind of powergrap and its content is so impoverished it is posing a considerable threat to a sane path beyond religion. The new atheists are all obsessive nutjobs, and have distorted evolutionary theory to pose crackpot reductionism all around. One of the more grotesque is to banish buddhist enlightenment because of its purported supernaturnalism. Nonsense. Really colossal nonsense. There is no reason a person leaving religion should become a member of the new atheist cult. He can instead commence the study of philosophy, religious history, Kantian debriefing of religion and his reconstruction of ethical theory.
Something funny happened in the early nineteenth century: The Enlightenment passed, Classical German philosophy peaked and went into an anti-Hegelian twilight, as positivism and unchecked scientism came to the fore. No problem, it was part of a dialectical spread. But now the descendants of that phase are creating a new ‘secular’ ideology of the Iron Cage. This is a puzzle in itself. The sad irony is not that religion is being given up, it is that modernity has been turned into a parody of itself. The same process is occurring around neuroscience that emerged with the revolution in physics and then the theories of evolution.
This is because the core of modernity is being rewritten around a consecration of reductionist physics, the darwinian theory of evolution, and the various forms of behaviorism. The real peaks of the modern transition are rapidly being lost.
If society is to pass out of religion it has to raise the stakes and create an educational failsafe that can prevent the rapid degeneration in phony secular muddle. In many ways the new atheism shows what’s happening: everything is being dumbed down and turned into a series of tenets based bad science. The result can’t even discuss free will without a nervous breakdown.
In any case the passing of older religions is not a commandment to atheism, or the worship of bad science. Modernity is clearing the stage for a new set of categories, and this will no doubt move in the ‘passing of religion’ into the creation of post-religion in the core content of the old. Those preaching the end of religion should be wary of what you ask for. Are a billion people to be subject to the idiocy of the cult of the new atheists?
Turning the European Debt Myth Upside-Down
The European debt crisis has little to do with poor budgeting and everything to do with crony capitalism.
Foreign Policy in Focus
February 27, 2015
– See more at: http://portside.org/2015-03-02/turning-european-debt-myth-upside-down#sthash.ycdNgtIi.dpuf
Genetics reveals where emperor penguins survived the last ice age
March 1, 2015
University of Southampton
A study of how climate change has affected emperor penguins over the last 30,000 years found that only three populations may have survived during the last ice age, and that the Ross Sea in Antarctica was likely the refuge for one of these populations. The Ross Sea is likely to have been a shelter for emperor penguins for thousands of years during the last ice age, when much of the rest of Antarctica was uninhabitable due to the amount of ice. The findings suggest that while current climate conditions may be optimal for emperor penguins, conditions in the past were too extreme for large populations to survive.
Life ‘not as we know it’ possible on Saturn’s moon Titan
February 27, 2015
A new type of methane-based, oxygen-free life form that can metabolize and reproduce similar to life on Earth has been modeled. It is theorized to have a cell membrane, composed of small organic nitrogen compounds and capable of functioning in liquid methane temperatures of 292 degrees below zero.
This is My Testimony
“Right to Work” Will Kill Workers
by WILL KRAMER
On Wednesday, February 25, the Wisconsin Senate passed a so-called “right-to-work” bill, which will almost certainly be approved by the Republican-dominated state Assembly next week and signed by Governor Scott Walker.
The first decision to concentrate on one or two crops automatically means that a more ecologically sound and complex rotation of crops is not possible. A lack of farm diversification (and no farm animals) makes sense because farmers can then spend their time specializing as is done in other lines of business. A typical conventional farmer in the Cornbelt primarily grows corn and soybeans.2 The lack of rotation with a perennial sod-type crop (such as grass and legume hay that covers the entire soil surface all year long and helps build up organic matter) means that the soil is eroded more easily and groundwater is more polluted. Lack of a more complex rotation also makes weeds, insects, and diseases more problematic, requiring interventions, normally with pesticides. The reliance on two crops also means that if the prices for both crops decline to near or below the costs of production—as happened for corn and soybeans in the early fall of 2014—there is potential economic hardship for the farm. Government subsidies, including the federally subsidized income insurance program (with benefits overwhelmingly to the largest farms and the insurance industry), cushion the situation when revenue falls, such as when prices turn or a crop failure occurs.3 Thus one of the economic aspects of the irrationality of the system resulting from specializing on two crops and not spreading risk over a larger number of crops is partly remedied as a result of the political power of an agricultural lobby that includes farmers, input industries, processors, lenders, and, in this case, the insurance industry.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marginalism: is marginalism overall a form of ideological sophistry? You tell me. Read the Wikipedian boilerplate here and ask yourself if it makes any real sense. It may, but the sudden appearance of a partial derivative to express marginal utility is the point at which the dog starts to bark. Who goes there?
In general the application of calculus suggests a coherent dynamical analysis of an ‘economy’, but I can never seem to find one when I examine textbooks here. I simply don’t see how calculus methods can be applied to the abstractions such as utility. Calculus was a subject devised to explain physical situations. Their application to economic abstraction has no foundational defense that I know of. It is always possible to find applications of derivatives, e.g. population growth, etc, and the one or two cases where this happens in economics are misleading.
I think that the use of calculus is misleading. Calculus was devised for physical bodies, and even such a simple parallel case of electromagnetism shows the whole of calculus reinvented via vector analysis, and then again for quantum mechanics, and then again for general relativity. But with economics we have the original calculus passed over into an exotic and very different subject matter. And the results are rarely subject to calculations, they are merely window dressing expressing a sort of ‘in principle’ case.
I think the whole question of what is an economic theory needs to be recast. That is already present in the various computerized models that actual data. And any number of other mathematical finesses in the field’s subject matter. This situation is so confused that we think we are dealing with a science, but the reality is different.
Sunday is our day for a ‘quick read’ of WHEE, with one section per chapter.
WHEE: using the text The attempt to interpret what the ‘eonic’ or ‘macro’ effect describes is a bit touch and go. I discover my own ‘mistakes’ in the process of trying to simplify the discussion. A good example has been loose talk about ‘reformations’ in religions with no position in the early modern. I have thus talked about ‘reformations’ in buddhism, and Islam. But this can be misleading. In the full jargon of the macro effect, the reformation of Xtianity in the early modern was a macro transformation inside a transition. To speak of reformations of religions in the larger context of the aftermath of the early modern can be misleading. It won’t happen that way again. I mentioned the president of Egypt’s assertion about a reformation for Egypt. But there is no macro transformation effect there, and the whole thing will be piecemeal and ad hoc. In buddhism, the issue of a reformation is perhaps irrelevant, and in fact buddhism was a reformation of hinduism, millennia ago. But the ‘revolution’ of Turkey came close to a kind of home-made reformation. The reformation of the early modern is far more elusive than we think.
The point is that the macro model is a very peculiar model, because it analyzes in two modes: events inside the transitions, and then outside the transitions. That takes some getting used to. But the point is crucial, and as we examine the sudden decline in American political government in the sense of its devolutions into the liabilities of capitalist globalization (imperialism) we can see that the entities initializing in the early modern can lose their coherence.
The whole subject is based on a finesse that is actually a ‘deduction’ after the fact: what is the relation of history and evolution? We see that the logic here suggests a series of transitions, and, lo and behold, we have a clear suggestion of the rationale of ‘transitions’. That’s even before defining what we mean by ‘evolution’. In this case it is the transformation of the ‘culture matrix’ of hunter gatherers into the complex cities-to-civilizations stages of the development of societies, religions, and political forms. The questions of religion are confusing to us now in the modern world, but perhaps it was always thus. If modern critics of theism protest a kind of idolatry, we suddenly notice that the dawn of monotheism was quite like that: ancient critics of polytheism protested a kind of idolatry.
In the study of the Axial Age (starting in chapter 1) we see that greater nature doesn’t seem to honor the distinction of religion and non-religion: the case of Greece shows that it was already filled with cultural premonitions of modern ‘secularism': the birth of science, a first Ionian ‘enlightenment’, and so on. The question of religion is not settled in the modern world, despite a strong initiative to move beyond ‘religion’. I think that thinkers like Kant discovered that rationale critiques of religion were essential, but the results were unexpected. For example, stripped of ethical attitudes, modern physics thus forced the philosophical rediscovery of that which science seemed to ignore, e.g. the ‘freedom’ idea, and specifically the ethical agency of man in the context of Newtonian determinism.
On-Demand Taskers: Expanding the Ranks of the “Precariat”
Revolutionary changes are taking place in the global labor process. Observers predict that within the next decade, one in every three labor transactions will be done online, carried out by “taskers” with no job security, low and fluctuating incomes, perpetual uncertainty, and no control over time. British social scientist Guy Standing describes the role of these taskers, who are expanding the ranks of the “precariat” in the so-called “sharing” economy.
February 16, 2015
– See more at: http://portside.org/2015-02-28/demand-taskers-expanding-ranks-precariat#sthash.V2uJRK7u.dpuf
Varoufakis is Proposing Austerity on the Banking Class
Euro Banks vs. Greek Labor
by MICHAEL HUDSON and SHARMINI PERIES
SHARMINI PERIES: The four-month extension secured by the Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, on Friday came with the condition that Greece provide a list of measures to quell the concerns of its international lenders, especially the German banks represented by the finance ministers in Brussels, who feared that Athens might bail on the promises to cut spending and implement austerity measures. So, on Sunday, Athens provided that list. Now joining us to discuss the tabled plan is Michael Hudson. He is a distinguished research professor of economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. His upcoming book is titled Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroyed the Global Economy.