Economic/Social Theory and Comment
- Shoveling Fuel for a Runaway Train - Americans have been conditioned to appreciate, cheer, and serve economic growth. Brian Czech argues that, while economic growth was a good thing for much of American history, somewhere along the way it turned bad, depleting resources, polluting the environment, and threatening posterity. Yet growth remains a top priority of the public and polity. In this revolutionary manifesto, Czech knocks economic growth off the pedestal of American ideology. Seeking nothing less than a fundamental change in public opinion, Czech makes a bold plea for castigating society's biggest spenders and sets the stage for the "steady state revolution."
Czech offers a sophisticated yet accessible critique of the principles of economic growth theory and the fallacious extension of these principles into the "pop economics" of Julian Simon and others. He points with hope to the new discipline of ecological economics, which prescribes the steady state economy as a sustainable alternative to economic growth.
- Steady State Revolution - What has become, slowly but surely, a primary threat to our national security, the environment, and future generations? Economic growth,
our highest domestic priority! Yet the economics taught in our schools - and corrupted by corporate interests - says the economy may grow perpetually...in defiance of ecological principles!
Site includes slide shows.
- A Conservation Economy - When the health of ecosystems and communities is not integrated into economic activities, all three suffer. In turn, economic dependence on destructive activities creates apparent conflicts between work, nature, and community. How can we create an economy that effectively meets human needs while regenerating natural systems? An economy which grows organically - and fills new niches - by working with nature and enriching human capacities?
- The End of Work or the Renaissance of Slavery? - In the mid-1990s books like The End of Work (Rifkin 1995), The Labor of Dionysius (Negri and Hardt 1994) and The Jobless Future (Aronowitz and De Fazio 1994), and phrases like "downsizing" and "worker displacement" have revived themes associated with the crisis of work at a time when the power relation between workers and capital is the inverse of the 1970s. Whereas in the 1970s workers were refusing work, in the 1990s capitalists presumably are refusing workers! In this paper I will show that these books and phrases are misleading in claiming that "scientifically based technological change in the midst of sharpened internationalization of production means that there are too many workers for too few jobs, and even fewer of them are well paid" (Aronowitz and De Fazio 1994: xii), or that "technological innovations and market-directed forces...are moving us to the edge of a near workerless world" (Rifkin 1995: xvi), or, even more abstractly, that the "law of labor-value, which tried to make sense of our history in the name of the centrality of proletarian labor and its quantitative reduction in step with capitalist development, is completely bankrupt..." (Hardt and Negri 1994: 10).
- The New New Economy - Small groups of ordinary people are finally discovering they can make their own money... that is, make their own currencies. When being part of a small private currency becomes as normal as having a modem or an ISP, it will be hard to look back and remember when it seemed unfamiliar or odd. But it is coming, and few things will do as much to realize the libertarian dreams of cyber-anarchists as the freedom to set up your own backyard currency.
What needs to happen for this to pick up speed is for two camps of people to get to know each other better. In one camp are programmers, hackers, cyberfolk still excited by the internet. In the other, much less-famous camp, is the local-currency movement -- little-known voluntary groups who have been quietly running small but successful experiments in priced barter for over twenty years.
When these two groups do start exchanging ideas, e-commerce is going to gain a whole new meaning. Currencies will stop belonging to governments. Macro-economics will go micro. There have been growing numbers of local currency groups in Canada, the U.S., Australia, Holland and elsewhere since the 1970s. They trade in made-up units, called things like 'bobbins' (Manchester, U.K.) or, more prosaically, 'hours' (Ithaca). Almost all of Britain's 100-plus local-currency groups date from one early-eighties scheme in western Canada (called LETS, the Local Exchange Trading System). But many central banks frown on this kind of self-help, and more statist places in Europe just close the experiments down the moment they hear about them. The Bank of England, by contrast, has turned an indulgent blind eye to groups who are often nothing more than two hundred unemployed people with one PC in a provincial town. As one senior Bank official anonymously told me in the late 1980s: "We think these schemes are quite interesting and not at all dangerous on this scale. No one's getting rich doing this, and they're really not doing anybody any harm."
- Post-Autistic Economics Network - The movement began in France in June 2000, when a group of economics students, under the banner "autisme-économie", published on the web a petition protesting against:
The autisme-économie petition argued in favor of:
- economics' "uncontrolled use" and treatment of mathematics as "an end in itself", and the resulting "autistic science",
- the repressive domination of neoclassical theory and derivative approaches in the curriculum, and
- the dogmatic teaching style, which leaves no place for critical and reflective thought.
- engagement with empirical and concrete economic realities,
- prioritizing science over scientism,
- a pluralism of approaches adapted to the complexity of economic objects and to the uncertainty surrounding most of the big economic questions, and
- their professors initiating reforms to rescue economics from its autistic and socially irresponsible state.
- The New Bioeconomy - These papers discuss the advent of a Bioeconomy as a logical next evolutionary step in our society. Born from the 1953 identification of the double helix structure of DNA, the Bioeconomy will continually grow and come to maturity within the next quarter century. Both economies will overlap and we will see a digitizing of many biological processes. Industries such as pharmaceuticals, healthcare, agriculture and food are even now being infused with the tenants of a burgeoning Bioeconomy.
- Some Thoughts on Regional Science Models and Their Potential Uses in New Europe - It has now been about four decades since the birth of the interdisciplinary social science discipline of Regional Science. It was a productive time when new ideas were emerging in different social science disciplines like Management Science, Behavioral Science etc. From the beginning, the focal point was abstract spatial model building, without much explicit reference to application. Lately, there has been a movement towards application in developed, as well as developing countries.
Regional Science methods have great potential for attacking the urban problems in the developed world. The urban centers in these countries are facing serious problems of transportation, housing, environment, social and municipal services. The problems will remain. In the developing world, there is great regional disparity between rural and urban areas. This has mainly arose due to years of colonial rules, poor natural environment, severe climatic conditions, niggardly endowment of resources, past social and cultural developments and restrictive religious practices. All of these factors confine the production within the maximum possible frontier leading to low output. Frequently, the vicious circle of low output, high propensity to consume, low savings and capital investment result for a country. Industrialization usually started in a few port cities and it became highly polarized. Due to lack of development, migration from the villages to the cities created huge slums. This problem of development is complicated by ethnic, language and religious strife. Regional Science, properly reformulated, can be of immense value for policy decisions.
- The Global Merger Wave - One of the most important reasons why some kind of competition policy for developing countries has become imperative is the gigantic merger wave which has gripped the world economy in the 1990s. As the chart below shows, between 1990 and 1998 the value of worldwide mergers and acquisitions rose nearly fivefold. Most of this merger activity took place within the US. Data reported in the Financial Times and not reproduced here suggests that of the total worldwide merger activity of nearly $2.5 trillion, almost $1.6 trillion represented takeovers and mergers within the United States; much of the remaining activity occurred in other industrial countries.
- The Islamic Commercial Crisis: Institutional Roots of the Delay in the Middle East's Economic Modernization - A striking aspect of the Middle East's commercial relations with Western Europe is that in the Middle Ages these came to be dominated by Europeans. Seeking to identify the underlying institutional causes, this paper offers two key observations. First, the Islamic succession system, by raising the costs of dissolution in the event of a partner's death, kept contractual partnerships formed under Islamic law both small and ephemeral. Second, some of the numerous succession systems in Europe facilitated the growth of partnerships by reducing the likelihood of premature dissolution. Through the joint effect of these processes, European enterprises grew larger than those of the Islamic world, allowing them to accumulate more capital and achieve economies of scale. Moreover, while persistently small enterprises inhibited economic modernization in the Middle East, the growth of European enterprises propelled further organizational and institutional transformations. The Middle East's adoption of Western commercial forms in the nineteenth century reflected a recognition that Western commercial institutions offered capabilities that Islam's traditional institutions did not.
- Natural Capital: Views from Many Perspectives - What emerged from the workshop were ideas and views that the authors have categorized into four main themes: Measuring the Wealth of Nations; Valuing Biodiversity and Ecosystems; Models for Bringing Economics and Ecology Together; and Issues of Sustainability and Risk. What follows are these ideas and views organized around these four themes.
- Technology, Information and the Evolution of Social Policy: The Chips for Neurons Revolution and Socio-Economic Change - The present technological revolution may have as powerful an effect on the economic, political and social character of societies as earlier major technological revolutions. The full effects of major technological change are hard to predict. Some of the characteristics of this chips for neurons revolution appear to be:
The replacement of low-level intellectual functions by electronic devices -- the bank machine, autonomous robotic devices, the "electronic pilots" commercial aircraft, security devices, automation of services, automated and flexible manufacturing, global information systems, etc. - This is changing productivity and the nature of work.
The capacity to make enormous bodies of knowledge instantly available to individuals linked through the electronic networks and the creation of learning networks, that cross existing geo-political boundaries. This is changing our approach to learning and our education institutions.
The opportunity to interact through virtually instantaneous global networks for a variety of functions ranging from education and training to entertainment, financial markets and business and military activities.
Virtually instantaneous global transmission to individuals in all regions through news media and other institutions of "information", whether objective or biased. This could change values, beliefs and cultures.
The prosperity of regions, the nature and concepts of work, income equity, values, cultures and social and political systems will change as a result of this technological revolution. If we look at how Home Sapiens has coped with other deep and broad technological revolutions, there may be some insights that might be relevant to how we cope with the "chips for neurons" revolution. What is clear is that social policies and institutions in Western countries that helped sustain political freedom and civic societies for the developed economies of this century are not sustainable in the face of the forces unleashed by today's techno-economic revolution.
- The Ingenuity Gap - As human population and material consumption increase in coming decades, scarcities of natural resources will increase in some regions. Will societies be able to adapt? The present article builds on three key insights derived, in part, from "new growth theory" in economics. First, ideas are a factor of economic production; second, not only can ideas for new technologies contribute to production, so can ideas for new and reformed institutions; and, third, the generation and dissemination of productive ideas is endogenous, not just to the economic system, but also to the broader social system that includes a society's politics and culture. The article argues, therefore, that to understand the determinants of social adaptation to scarcity, analysts should focus on the society's ability to supply enough ideas, or "ingenuity." As scarcity worsens, some poor societies will face a widening "ingenuity gap" between their need for and their supply of ingenuity. Most importantly, their supply of social ingenuity (in the form of new and reformed institutions) will be vulnerable to stresses generated by the very scarcities the ingenuity is needed to solve. Scarcity often causes intense rivalries among interest groups and elite factions that impede the development and delivery of institutional solutions to resource problems. A society with a serious and chronic ingenuity gap will face declining social well-being and perhaps civil turmoil.
- Understanding our Times - A new model for the information based society is becoming clearer every day We seem to be moving from an economic model based on production, objects and things to one based on innovation, knowledge and its application.
For most of our history, technology has driven a process of concentration urbanization and increasing scale based on the production of things or objects, the Industrial model. Societally this has meant a migration to a few large cities, the increasing use of industrial models for many of our public institutions, such as schools and the delivery of healthcare, and the weakening of the powers and responsibilities of local communities and the smaller provinces.
In response, Government policy has increasingly focused on urban areas, on large projects, big business and industrial jobs as the engines of the economy. Government itself began to operate on an industrial model as did our institutions of learning and healthcare.
Power and responsibility was progressively given up by the community and by individuals to the centre both in government and in business. A culture of dependency began to erode the founding model of self sufficiency. A sense of "chaotic individualism" (Rohlen) began to replace the sense of being part of an interdependent community.
For many of the years following the second world war this seemed to have been a very successful strategy. However the laws of diminishing returns seem to have caught up with us. The unfortunate and unintended byproducts of this process have been the development of social dependency and a great fiscal crisis.
Now it seems that technology is driving an opposite process of dispersion and is creating a new type of economy based on the development of ideas and their application.
It is important to understand that the underlying rules concerning ideas are opposite to most of those that govern objects. (Romer) The new rules are not simply a linear evolution from the old rules. They are in opposition to the old rules and therefore drive completely new assumptions.
In summary, they involve a shift in cost and emphasis from production to design, the value of sharing rather than in protecting information, the value of linkages & networks, the shift from mass production to mass customization, the need for organizational agility, the need for horizontal infrastructure rather than vertical integration and silos, the requirement for a large pool of ingenuity rather than simply a pool of labour, the need for continuous learning, the need for intellectual capital rather than simply financial capital, the need to be able to finance uncertainty rather than assets.
- The Natural Step - The Natural Step in the United States conducts multidisciplinary research, provides tailored consulting and training services, and offers networking and educational opportunities for leaders, organizations, and communities interested in creating sustainability agendas and initiatives.
- What is Endogenous Growth Theory? - The word "endogenous" was originally a botanical term. An endogen is a plant that increases by the growth of new vascular and cellular tissue irregularly among that tissue already formed. Endogenous means originating on or growing within the side of something, as cells within the wall of the parent cell. Webster's current dictionary just says "originating or produced
from within." That's a good metaphor for economic or technological growth -- exogenous growth is growing like rings on a tree -- definitely not how an economy grows, or innovations develop. It's a view of society as a giant organism within which innovations develop randomly and irregularly, not in any planned manner.
Endogenous growth theory simply means economic growth from within a system, usually a nation-state. There are a couple
of reasons for the rise of endogenous growth models. The first one is the fact that the economies and output of industrialized countries is so much higher now than it was a century ago. Economics needed some kind of theory or model to account for that, and technological growth was a good explanation. As Romer states, "Output per hour worked in the US today is 10 times as valuable as output per hour worked 100 years ago." Most of that is due to technological change; other reasons include the growth in human capital (ie. the development of an effective labour force -- itself arguably the product of new education technologies).
- Green Economics Website
- Butterfly Economics - (Excerpt) .. In the mid-1980s, entomologists carried out a series of experiments with ants which, at first sight, appear...esoteric. Two identical food sources were placed at an equal distance from a nest of ants, and were constantly replenished so that they always remained identical. In other words, every time an ant removed a grain from one of the sources, another was added to the pile. And the two piles were exactly the same distance from the nest. How would the ant colony divide itself between the two sources of food? The experiments appear at first sight to be of little or no interest to anyone outside the world of biology. Even among biologists, ant behaviour is a pretty specialized topic. Yet the results of the experiments turned out to be fiendishly difficult to explain, and a proper understanding of them has widespread implications for behaviour far beyond that of the humble colony of ants, illuminating complex problems in human societies and economies, worlds living at the edge of chaos.
- Framing the Postmodern: Language, Culture, Commerce and Consciousness - Much of the new wave in philosophy and theoretical discourse is concerned with just that: an integrationist view of the world of Self and Other in relation to difference. Thus, there is being birthed this new wave of eco-philosophies, waves of both breadth and depth; where the peaks and valleys, streaming flows and bedrocks of globalizing tendencies are seen to play out across domains once thought to be distinctually alien to each other; where global finance hinges on geopolitical stability and technological innovation; where we cannot thoroughly understand any single feature of the postmodern worldspace apart from the whole field of interactions, i.e., the interactions of the different, together. Meaning, there is an inviolate thread of dependence running throughout this "fundamentally new state of affairs"---and we are quickly becoming aware of this thread of the "all-together different"....
As we turn our attention for a moment, and look at the globalization of industry and commerce that is now an ongoing affair --- one in full swing --- we can see how the Myth of E-Progress is also about the increasing collectivization of the economies and technologies of distinctly different sectors. This all means that the new socialization process is not a political affair; it is economic! It is not the least bit ironic that the capitalists that railed against Socialism are themselves the ones who are initiating a new Capitalist-style Socialism. Again, a political engine does not power the new socialization; it is economically powered and driven. We are newly socialized around economies, capital, and commerce. What politics and ideology could not accomplish, economics and markets are. The major emblem for this new socialization of power and capital is, no doubt, the multinational corporate structure. These newly decentered/globalized institutions are subsuming all other interests under their own; which is economic growth and progress. The rogressive dictates of the new socialization process require the localization of capital in order to power the engines of progressivism. The decentered, multi-national corporate power structure is the localization of capital heretofore unseen on such a scale.
- The Fatal Conceit: The Errors Of Socialism - Like Marx, Hayek sees an inherent contradiction in Western capitalistic societies. Unlike Marx, however, Hayek sees this contradiction in terms of an ethical dualism, not a materialistic dialectic, and he also feels that this contradiction is both necessary and beneficial -- though nonetheless problematic. Hayek approaches ethics from an entirely different angle from most philosophers. While philosophical ethics usually entail rationalistic system-building from certain assumptions about human nature or from bits of empirical data, Hayek's ethics are non-rationalistic and based upon the historical process. Hayek rejects the explicit, rationalistic construction of most ethical systems because such constructions rest upon the "fatal conceit" of human reason. Reason, Hayek argues, is incapable of commanding the information necessary to design an ethical system.
- The Economics of Ideas - Call Romer an economist for the technological age. The world, in Romer's view, isn't defined by scarcity and limits on growth. Instead, it's a playground of nearly unbounded opportunity, where new ideas beget new products, new markets, and new possibilities to create wealth. "Old growth theory says we have to decide how to allocate scarce resources among alternative uses," says Romer. "New growth theory says, 'Bullshit!' We're in this world, it's got some objects, sure, but it's got these ideas, too, and all that stuff about scarcity and price systems is just wrong.'"
- Cybernetic Revolution and the Crisis of Capitalism - In the early 1970s U.S. capitalism began to suffer a deepening crisis of accumulation. This crisis sprang from the very heart of the modern industrial system, arising out of fundamental contradictions in its exploitation of labor and its conditions of production. But this crisis also occurred along side a postmodern revolution in microelectronics and computer technologies, creating significant changes in the forms of accumulation and wealth creation. The two dynamics have created a new historic juncture for rethinking established theories of political and social change.
The crisis of accumulation has long been tracked by Marxist economists such as Paul Sweezy. Recently key extensions have been added by eco-Marxist James O'Connor. But radicals also need to take note of the important contributions of Alvin and Heidi Toffler and their three waves theory. The Tofflers describe agricultural society as the first wave and industrial society as the second wave. They have added new insights into the nature of changes in the economic base where knowledge has become the most important tool of production. This became possible because of the revolution in the means of production, or information technologies. Toffler calls this information society the third wave, or what we'll call information capitalism.
- The Civilizational Project and its Discontents: Toward a Viable Global Market Society? - I agree with the point of an anonymous reviewer arguing that a profound discussion on the prerequisites of a viable global market society has too many facets to be contained within the bounds of a single journal article. Yet, in order to enter the debate now we should not wait until book length treatments become available--often only after years. This is, therefore, an essay attempting to overview various conflicts and contradictions within the global social system. It sythesizes arguments developed in more detail elsewhere.
- The Tragedy of the Commons, by Garrett Hardin (1968) - the classical essay on the dangers of isolated decision-making.
- Comprehensive Theory Of Social Development - Despite 50 years of development experience, fundamental questions about development remain unanswered. The world still lacks a comprehensive theoretical framework that adequately explains such phenomenon as the very high rates of development exhibited by East Asian countries for many years, the failure of Malthusian projections, the growing contribution of non-material resources not subject to depletion, the apparent failure of market policies in the transition of Eastern Europe, and conflicting predictions about the future of work based on the contrary recent experiences of North America and Western Europe. A profusion of economic theories provide explanations for specific expressions of development, but none links all the pieces into a unified theory that adequately defines the central principles, process and stages of development. The formulation of a comprehensive theory of development would make conscious the worldıs experience over the past 500 years, reveal enormous untapped potentials and vastly accelerate future progress. This paper identifies the central principle of development and traces its expression in different fields and levels of social advancement. Development is a function of societyıs capacity to organize human energies and productive resources to respond to opportunities and challenges. The paper traces the emergence of higher, more complex, more productive levels of social organization through the stages of nomadic hunting, rural agrarian, urban, commercial, industrial and post-industrial societies. It examines the process by which new activities are introduced by pioneers, imitated, resisted, accepted, organized, institutionalized and assimilated into the culture. Organizational development takes place on a foundation of four levels of infrastructure - physical, social, mental and psychological. Four types of resources contribute to development, of which only the most material are inherently limited in nature. The productivity of resources increases enormously as the level of organization and input of knowledge rises. The theory identifies the human resource as the driving force and primary determinant of development.
- Marxist Theory, the Globalisation of Port Development, and the Role of Labour - This paper seeks to 'rethink' the role of Marxist theory in providing a useful reference point from which to contemplate a number of issues pertaining to port development and the role of labour within it. It does so through briefly looking at the concept of globalisation and the role of transport within this process. Not surprisingly, the work of Marxist geographer David Harvey is useful in providing a basis from which to examine a number of issues relating to the dynamics of capital. In examining what Harvey refers to as capital's "flexible accumulation", the role of labour control, especially within the port sector, becomes significant. However, this examination is based on Marx's theory of capital's circulation through the "annihilation of space by time", the impetus for increasing capitalıs turnover time. The logical progression of Marx's theory of capital circulation reveals, however, the necessity for capitalists to engage in a process of creative destruction driven from temporal crises through the over-accumulation of fixed investments.
This paper uses the three examples to illustrate the creative destruction of the built environment of ports that reflect the temporal crises in capital accumulation. Firstly, new technology in the form of containerisation from the mid-1970s. Secondly, the realignment of ports globally due to takeovers from both multi-national shipping lines and terminal operators. And, thirdly, the spectacle of waterfront redevelopments. These examples illustrate that "the wider processes of capital accumulation and maritime technological transformation are ...the primary driving forces for change". However, given this situation, there remains an important role for labour within this process in influencing the direction of port development internationally.
- A Short History Of Neo-Liberalism - In 1945 or 1950, if you had seriously proposed any of the ideas and policies in today's standard neo-liberal toolkit, you would have been laughed off the stage at or sent off to the insane asylum. At least in the Western countries, at that time, everyone was a Keynesian, a social democrat or a social-Christian democrat or some shade of Marxist. The idea that the market should be allowed to make major social and political decisions; the idea that the State should voluntarily reduce its role in the economy, or that corporations should be given total freedom, that trade unions should be curbed and citizens given much less rather than more social protection--such ideas were utterly foreign to the spirit of the time. Even if someone actually agreed with these ideas, he or she would have hesitated to take such a position in public and would have had a hard time finding an audience.
- Postmodern Economics, etc. - The term "Postmodern Economics" is the creation of Barbara Brandt as described and used in her book: "Whole Life Economics", 1995. This work presents new material and perspectives (women, addiction) combined with an informative survey of a huge and growing topic.
The "modern" world view, dating back at least to Descartes' publication in 1637, is one in which rectangular, quantitative, "masculine", rational, scientific, individualist (e.g., evolutionary) thinking takes precedence. Over four centuries this modern view has edged out more "feminine", nurturing, human, spiritual, holistic, and social ways of "knowing" and being especially in Western Europe and the USA.
It appears that the "modern" era started to crumble on many fronts quite clearly during the 1960s and early 1970s when it also hit its peak, one might argue, with the landing of a man on the moon. The sixties and early seventies encompass a host of events and movements: civil rights movement, anti-war protests, environmental concerns (Silent Spring in 1962), E.F. Schumacher's "Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered" (1973), women's movement, etc.
The period to follow the modern era is the "postmodern" - note that the timescale here is centuries and so the postmodern period is only beginning and the coming century is likely the first fully postmodern!
By "postmodern economics" Brandt thus implies all that is to be expected from an economics which is in service to a postmodern society; progress toward such an ecomonics must go hand-in-hand with the progress of postmodernism in general.
- An analysis of governance as a topic of study - All living systems maintain a semi-permeable barrier between themselves and their environment. Indeed, it is the boundary that demarcates the passage from the dynamics of one environment to another. What is critical to the sustainability of any living system is its ability to control what passes and what does not pass through its semi-permeable barrier. We can think of the cell wall as being the quintessential example of organizational closure. Moving to the scale of human society, there is a battle going on between those who favour the dropping of all barriers in order to create "the level playing field" in which profit can be pursued without the constraints that respect for humans and their habitat entail and those who feel that the sovereignty of a placed people offers the only protection, at this time, from the exploitation inherent in the practive of free market capitalism.
The MAI, for example, specifically targets the ability of place-bound governments to require transnational corporations to modify their corporate behavior so they do not adversely affect the quality of the environment or the social sphere. Instead, the TNCs want to move politics offshore, so that the important decisions, like the quality of the food you eat, will be decided by unelected technocrats working for the World Trade Council.
The second point concerns the idea that TNCs are extremely centralized. Although s were, the rise of the digital economy has enabled them to change their structure to something more akin to an internetworked enterprise. For example, a car company which has its shares traded world wide on the net of global stock exchanges decides to build cars in Mexico to be sold in Asia from which a portion of the profits go to pensioners living in the Midwest whose pension fund had invested in the company. Considering the trend to move towards the virtual corporation structure, I would venture to say that where the TNCs have gained their competitive advantage is that they have, for the moment, outflanked place-bound governments by moving from centralized control structures to ones that embrace the concept of distributed control.
- Cooking pot markets: an economic model for the trade in free goods and services on the Internet - It has long been assumed that there is something beyond economics involved in the proliferation of free goods and services on the Internet. Although Netscape's recent move to give away the source code for its browser shows that the corporate world now believes that it is possible to make money with free software - previously eyed with cautious pessimism - money is not the prime motivator of most producers of the Internet's free goods, and neither is altruism. Efforts and rewards may be valued in intangibles, but, as this paper argues, there is a very tangible market dynamics to the free economy of the Internet, and rational economic decisions are at work. This is the "cooking-pot" market: an implicit barter economy with asymmetric transactions.
- Global Sustainable Development Resolution - The Resolution aims to synthesize into one package a wide range of proposals that have emerged in the international dialogue among NGOs, social movements, and scholars for reforming various aspects of the global economy.
- The Hi-Tech Gift Economy - During the Sixties, the New Left created a new form of radical politics: anarcho-communism. Above all, the Situationists and similar groups believed that the tribal gift economy proved that individuals could successfully live together without needing either the state or the market. From May 1968 to the late Nineties, this utopian vision of anarcho-communism has inspired community media and DIY culture activists. Within the universities, the gift economy already was the primary method of socialising labour. From its earliest days, the technical structure and social mores of the Net has ignored intellectual property. Although the system has expanded far beyond the university, the self-interest of Net users perpetuates this hi-tech gift economy. As an everyday activity, users circulate free information as e-mail, on listservs, in newsgroups, within on-line conferences and through Web sites. As shown by the Apache and Linux programs, the hi-tech gift economy is even at the forefront of software development. Contrary to the purist vision of the New Left, anarcho-communism on the Net can only exist in a compromised form. Money-commodity and gift relations are not just in conflict with each other, but also co-exist in symbiosis. The 'New Economy' of cyberspace is an advanced form of social democracy.
- Gift Economy - The only economic system that supports the minimal flexibility necessary to implement a gift economy is anarcho-capitalism. As the basis of interchange, extended with the ethics of rational anarchism, such a system would enable the operation of a gift economy. The gift economy derived from this system would then provide the means of ethically supporting the variations of economic interchange needed for all individuals. This gift economy can be thought of as a kind of private-socialist-anarchism. It is private in that individuals maintain their private property and are not used against their will as means to end outside of themselves. They are free to accumulate wealth and dispose of it as they see fit. It is a form of socialism in that the ethics underlying the system encourage productive individuals to give some of their surplus, as a personal expression of ethical principle, to those who need it. Any other form of socialism would constitute exploitation of the productive. Any other kind of capitalism would constitute neglect of one's fellow human beings. Thus, we conclude that a gift economy, or a private-socialist-anarchism, is the only just economic model for human society.
- Explorations of aspects of an open source economy
- GBN Book Club: The Tipping Point - The Power of Context says you don't have to solve the big problems to solve crime. You can prevent crime just by scrubbing off graffiti and arresting fare-beaters; crime epidemics have Tipping Points every bit as simple and straightforward as syphilis in Baltimore or a fashion trend like Hush Puppies.
Editor's aside: Identification of "context" requires skill in pattern recognition - "seeing" implications of the cross-currents of social and technological trends. Some of these are: collapse of hierarchy in many different areas: political, military, business, etc.; proliferation of networks in diverse contexts; appearance and spread of wireless devices of all kinds and their interconnection; apparent increasing violence in electronic games, TV programming, educational institutions, domestic situations, ethnic frictions, neo-national movements; empowerment of the individual and the linking of individuals into work teams. The cross-linking of genetics and memetics, of physiology and economy.
- SECTION I: What's New About The New Economy? - The term New Economy refers to a set of qualitative and quantitative changes that, in the last 15 years, have transformed the structure, functioning, and rules of the economy. The New Economy is a knowledge and idea-based economy where the keys to job creation and higher standards of living are innovative ideas and technology embedded in services and manufactured products. It is an economy where risk, uncertainty, and constant change are the rule, rather than the exception. Part I of this report highlights 13 indicators that collectively illustrate the emergence of the structural roots of this New Economy.
- The Knowledge Economy: Knowledge Producers and Knowledge Users - There is widespread agreement that a defining aspect of the New Economy is the increased importance of knowledge. But what exactly does this mean? There are two important types of knowledge industries to consider: First, there are those industries whose major product is knowledge itself; then there are industries that manage or convey information.
- Nine Myths About The New Economy - For many on the right, the dawn of a digital era automatically means the twilight of government. These New Economy optimists emphasize-and exaggerate-the upsides of the New Economy, while overlooking its problems. While viewing it correctly as an era with great possibilities for growth and creativity, some on the right seek the elimination of virtually all regulation of technology, oppose government funding of research and development (excluding defense), and argue that government should simply "get out of the way," a stance that leaves Americans to fend for themselves during a difficult, often wrenching transition. Their "land of milk and honey" is made up of small firms and individual entrepreneurs in dynamic markets; higher income inequality that encourages hard work; a vastly reduced role for government, including reduced roles in technology, education, and skill development; and little effort to expand the winner's circle so that all Americans share in the benefits.
- A Market Economy without Capitalism - The collapse of state socialism in Central and Eastern Europe has led to the temporary triumph of Western capitalism in the ideological struggle between competing economic models. However, as long as the disparity between rich and poor continues to increase, as long as exponential economic growth continues to cause accelerating environmental destruction and as long as the "developed" nations of the Northern hemisphere continue to ruthlessly exploit their "undeveloped" Southern neighbours, it remains necessary to search for alternatives to the prevailing economic order. Under these circumstances Silvio Gesell's Free Economy model retains its relevance and may yet begin to receive the wider recognition which it deserves.
Organism and Mechanism - The Natural Economy, by John Young - A sound economy is impossible while the economic order is seen as a mechanism rather than an organism. For an organism is from Take a physical organism, say the human body. It is composed of diverse parts, each having its own operation, and all contributing to the good of the whole body. Now, at first glance it might seem that it is essentially the same as a mechanism, say a motor car. This is not so, most basically because the physical organism is one substance, whereas the car is many substances combined by art. The car is an artificial whole, not a natural whole.
In the strict sense, an organism is a physical entity, such as the human body; and the word is being used analogously when we apply it to an association, such as a social club or a political society or the economy. But the comparison is worthwhile, for it throws light on the nature of these groups. Let us apply it to the economic order.
Consider some characteristics of a physical organism which also apply, analogously, to the economy. 1. It is heterogeneous: it has many parts, each different from the others. 2. Each part has a special operation. 3. Each is so related to the other parts that its operation tends to the good of the whole body.
The economy has many parts in the sense of the millions of individuals who constitute it, and also in the sense that it is made up of many groups such as workers, investors, consumers. Each of these has a special part to play in the whole. This part tends, from its nature, to the good of the whole.
The social organism which is the economy is more than a mechanism, a machine. What is a machine? It is a human invention, a product of art, constructed from physical substances like metal and wood. Hans Andre, comparing a biological organism with a machine, says: "Whereas a machine functions by man and for man, the organism constructs itself by the forces which lie hidden within it".
The economy is from nature in the sense that it is required by human nature and its essential features are from human nature. And like a living body, it too "constructs itself by the forces which lie hidden within it".
- Understanding the Global Economy by Howard Richards - an online book - I started writing this book because I believed that my friends had not done their homework. They did not have time. They had no training in philosophy, and I was convinced that economics could not be understood, much less transformed, without philosophy.
I think I always knew in the back of my mind that I had a thesis to prove. But at first my plan was to review all of the scientific efforts that have been made to understand the global economy, without declaring any conclusions in advance. I wanted the outlines of a new and more adequate understanding of the global economy - one that would include and go beyond the knowledge and insight provided by all hitherto existing theories - to emerge gradually. I wanted my conclusions to state themselves, and to be proven by the sheer weight of the evidence. I wanted the reader to see for herself or for himself - guided of course by my lucid and impartial survey - that there is a better way to understand the economic predicament in which humanity now finds itself, and, consequently, a better way to get out of it.
- The Third Way - third way
Let's examine more closely the Washington Post's statement that no third way exists. On the one hand there is capitalism, an economic system governed by market forces but where economic power is concentrated in the hands of a few who own and control productive capital. An illustration of this system is Bill Gates, who without any extra effort, went from $16 billion to over $50 billion - a greater accumulation of assets than those of 50% of the American people combined. Most workers-for-hire have great difficulty meeting their consumer debt, let alone accumulating any income-producing assets. Indeed, "capital breeds capital" but only for those who own most of it.
On the other hand, socialism, in all its forms, is an economic system governed centrally by a political elite, who enjoy even more highly concentrated ownership and economic power. And in practice, socialism doesn't work. The world is full of examples of traditionally state-dominated economies which cannot meet their massive foreign debt obligations or compete effectively in the emerging global marketplace.
Logically, a "third way" would be a free market system which economically empowers all individuals and families through direct and effective ownership of the means of production - the best check against the potential for corruption and abuse.
A mistake made by many academics and economists today is to equate democracy and the market system with the top-down, Wall Street capitalist model, with its growing gap of wealth and power between the rich and the poor. That there is excessive corruption under capitalism and socialism, even where governments are democratically elected, should come as no surprise. Lord Acton warned us years ago about the inherent corruptibility of systems that concentrate power.
Capitalist theorists like Milton Friedman pay no attention to concentrated ownership of labor-displacing technology. Marxist theorists do, but conclude that the state should own and regulate all means of production. Keynesians offer a feeble synthesis between these two models of development based on the premise that maldistribution of ownership is acceptable. The so-called "Third Way" of Clinton and Blair follows the Keynesian model.
As recognized by Bill Greider in Chapter 18 of his new book previously cited, lawyer-economist Louis O. Kelso in 1958 fathered a real "Third Way." Kelso conceived a comprehensive systems approach to solving the structural problems faced by Russia, Indonesia and many other economies that have become dependent on those who today control money and credit. Kelso's 1958 book with renowned Aristotelian scholar Mortimer J. Adler centered on a profound theory of economic justice and clear vision of the impact of technology on human work, and how modern corporate finance has influenced the quality of work and thus the political and moral life of society.
Most scholars never got past the cover of the first Kelso-Adler book, which was unfortunately entitled The Capitalist Manifesto. Kelso, however, has gained international fame as the inventor of the Employee Stock Ownership Plan or "ESOP," one of the tools he developed to democratize access to money and credit. Remarkably, however, his larger vision and general theory have been trivialized and virtually ignored by academia and the mainstream media. This largely explains why economists cannot understand or solve the problems arising from economic globalization.
Kelso's revolutionary insights helped him to solve an economic enigma: How Say's Law of Markets - rejected both by Marx and Keynes - can achieve sustainable and balanced growth in a modern global economy. His legal background enabled him to see how the structuring of basic laws and institutions creates a system that either concentrates or decentralizes ownership and economic power, that encourages participation by all or which creates barriers to participation. Focusing on the means by which ordinary people could become owners of productive assets and participate more fully in the economic process, Kelso provided the systems theory and practical mechanisms, like the ESOP, for implementing expanded ownership around the world.
- Rise of the Individual - Thoughts on the emergent role of the individual or free-agent in society and the economy.
- Human Society and the Global Economy - Human Society and the Global Economy is a textbook-in-progress for a survey course in economics. It takes an institutionalist/Post-Keynesian approach. The organization of the book is primarily historical -- following the intertwined development of the global capitalist economy and of economics from the beginning of capitalism to the present. Themes that are examined include: micro-order and macro-order; market and state; development, growth and evolution of the capitalist economy; technology and society; distribution of income and wealth; and the visions of the major economists.
- Green Economics Website
- Innovation, Increasing Complexity And The Need For A New Paradigm In Economics - This paper is not intended to explore new domains in economics. Rather, it re-interprets some recent developments in economic theory from the point of view of self-generating systems theories and shows how this requires a re-formulation of the mainstream economics competitive general equilibrium paradigm. This paradigm has been challenged recently by endogenous economic growth theories and their emphasis on ideas or innovation as the driving force behind economic activity. Innovation prevents an economy from collapsing into general equilibrium and entropy death and should thus be seen as an essential ingredient to ensure sustainability of economic systems. On the other hand, innovation is incompatible with competitive equilibrium because it introduces non-convexities. The trajectory of embodiment of ideas and their role as separators (constraints) is explored through hierarchical levels in an economy, thereby enabling transactions to take place and laying the basis for the self-generating capacity (autopoiesis) of economic systems.
- What Follows Hyper-Capitalism? - We live in an era of hyper-capitalism so absurd, judged by how negative consequences turn into crisis, that there is only one safe prediction: this is not going to last. What comes in its place, the successor era, is another matter; interestingly, the intellectual managers of hyper-capitalism have little to say.
- Process and Emergence in the Economy - The Economy as an Evolving Complex System II, represents the proceedings of an August, 1996 workshop sponsored by the SFI Economics Program. The intention of this workshop was to take stock, to ask: What has a complexity perspective contributed to economics in the past decade? In contrast to the 1987 workshop, almost all of the presentations addressed economic problems, and most presenters were economists by training. In addition, while some of the work presented was conceived or carried out at the Institute, some of the participants had no previous relation with SFI--research related to the complexity perspective is under active development now in a number of different institutes and university departments.
But just what is the complexity perspective in economics? That is not an easy question to answer. Its meaning is still very much under construction, and in fact the present volume is intended process & emergence to contribute to that construction process. Indeed, the authors of the essays in this volume by no means share a single, coherent vision of the meaning and significance of complexity in economics. What we will find instead is a family resemblance, based upon an interrelated set of themes that together constitute the current meaning of the complexity perspective in economics.
- Natural Capitalism - Read the book - For decades, environmentalists have been warning that human economic activity is exceeding the planet's limits. Of course we keep pushing those limits back with clever new technologies; yet living systems are undeniably in decline. These trends need not be in conflictin fact, there are fortunes to be made in reconciling them. Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins, is the first book to explore the lucrative opportunities for businesses in an era of approaching environmental limits.
- An overview of "Bold New World" - Laying the groundwork for his visionary predictions, Knoke introduces fresh language describing the new realities he foresees in the 21st century. In BOLD NEW WORLD, Knoke asserts that we are entering the Age of Everything-Everywhere, where the effortless flow of people, products, and knowledge from one location to another is creating a world where near equals far. Brought on by revolutions in communications and transportation technologies, it is creating a Fourth Dimension that transcends time and space. It is this erosion of the primacy of place, the principal foundation on which all traditional economic, political, and social structures have been built, Knoke contends, that is leading to "one of the largest societal upheavals the world has ever known."
- Integrating Environmental Considerations into the Economic Decision-Making Process - This is an electronic version of four ESCAP publications on "Integrating environmental considerations into economic policy making processes".
- From Planning To Regulation: Toward A New Dirigisme? - I will discuss the "new dirigisme" that is emerging even as there is a worldwide move from the plan to the market. The dirigiste impulse has not been stifled but merely transformed from planning that sought to supplant the price mechanism to regulation that seeks to supplement it.
- The New Economics Foundation - The New Economics Foundation is the radical think tank. It is unique in bringing together the ideas, the people, the resources and the influence to challenge business-as-usual. We create practical and enterprising solutions to the social, environmental and economic challenges facing the local, regional, national and global economies.
- International Society for Ecological Economics Russian Chapter - ISEE is a nonprofit organization that encourages the integration of economics and ecology into a transdiscipline aimed at developing a sustainable world. Specific research areas include ecological modeling, ecological limits to growth, climate change, biodiversity, valuation of natural capital, and ecotax reform, etc.
- Speculative Microeconomics for Tomorrow's Economy - Experience suggests that the regulations for tomorrow's economy are likely to be written today. That means policy choices will be made in advance of both theory and practice, and with disproportionate input from those who have the most to lose from change, or who have garnered short-term first-mover advantages from the first stage of the transition now under way. If we are correct in believing that some of the basic assumptions that drive most thinking about the market (and most introductory economics classes) will not hold up well in the online economy, it is particularly important for those choices to be made with care.
- The Doric Column - Starbuck's, economic geography, Paul Krugman, morphogenesis, Alan Turing, the Game of Life - The "Santa Fe approach": In this approach, adaptive nonlinear networks found in ecology and in immune and nervous system biology--networks characterized by distributed processes, self-organization, and emerging structures--are applied to economics. Through the Santa Fe approach the study of economics is moved from traditional "mechanistic" models to "living" models.
- Reworking Success, Introduction - The required success criteria for the twenty-first century are social cohesion, a respect for all of nature and the maintenance of the integrity of fundamental ecological systems. Online book.
- Center for Complex Studies - To represent the interest of a group of people concerned with the promotion and the development of research in the field of fractal physics, nonlinear dynamics, as well as complex systems evolving far from thermodynamic equilibrium.
- Welcome to The Institute for Economic Democracy
- From Ego to Eco - Social action can be more than political, right or left; it can be green, in accord with nature, replacing power over, with working together. Group action need not be left brain, domineering, linear, and static. It can be right brain, autonomous, synergistic, and dynamic.
- Geoism Georgism Geonomics Web Sites
- Common Sense and the New World Order - Faced with widespread declines in the quality of life, the global breakdown of traditional social and economic systems, chronic poverty and warfare, and widespread government corruption, few would disagree that we live in times that call for significant reforms and for a unifying vision that can lead us to a better future. In desperation, more and more people are turning to simplistic solutions - fundamentalist faiths, bizarre cults, racist xenophobia, and myopic pseudo-philosophies.
- Markets and Antimarkets in the World Economy - One of the most significant epistemological events in recent years is the growing importance of historical questions in the ongoing reconceptualization of the hard sciences. I believe it is not an exaggeration to say that in the last two or three decades, history has almost completely infiltrated physics, chemistry and biology. ... These new ideas are all the more important when we move on to the social sciences, particularly economics. In this discipline, we tend to uncritically assume systematicity, as when one talks of the "capitalist system", instead of showing exactly how such systematic properties of the whole emerge from concrete historical processes.
- The Moral Economy - Scottish philosophers in the eighteenth century interpreted the market economy as a "civil society," a path toward freedom and a new morality, separate from monarchal government. They expected markets to be self regulating and expected them to function with ties to a moral life. The market was a civil order, but that vision was destroyed when corporations rose to power in succeeding centuries, and governments were enlarged to regulate markets. Today we see a concern about big corporations and government bureaucracy, and a return to the idea of a "civil society."
- Natural Capitalism: Creating The Next Industrial Revolution - In this blueprint for a new economy, three leading business visionaries explain how the world is on the verge of a new industrial revolution one that promises to transform our fundamental notions about commerce and its role in shaping our future. Natural Capitalism describes a future in which business and environmental interests increasingly overlap, and in which businesses can better satisfy their customers' needs, increase profits, and help solve environmental problems all at the same time. The page provides links to excerpts of each chapter of Natural Capitalism. You can also download the entire chapters as PDF (Portable Document Format) files.
- The World in Economic Crisis - We live in an era of hyper-capitalism so absurd, judged by how negative consequences turn into crisis, that there is only one safe prediction: this is not going to last. What comes in its place, the successor era, is another matter; interestingly, the intellectual managers of hyper-capitalism have little to say.
- Toward a Partnership Society - We are living now in another period of disequilibrium, due to rapid technological change. In fact, we have been for more than 300 years. During this period, one organized social movement after another has challenged entrenched traditions of domination. We began to shift from monarchies to republics; from a totally male-dominated family to somewhat more partnership in the family. The 19th century brought the abolitionist, peace, feminist, anticolonialist, and economic justice movements, followed in the 20th century by the civil rights, women's right, indigenous rights, and environmental movements. Even capitalism, with all of its present problems, represented a rebellion. Under feudalism, a more pure dominator model, the only honorable way to get land was to go next door and kill your neighbor. This was called heroic conquest; it was considered dishonorable for "noblemen" to buy land.
- World Economics Resources
- The New Wealth of Nations - The central problem facing society is still to answer Adam Smith's question about how to empower widely dispersed, and mutually interdependent, bits of information of varying quality in such a way that they lead to a desirable future.
- Agrarian Justice By Thomas Paine
- Economagic: Economic Time Series Page
- Beyond Left and Right
- The Dialectic of Knowledge-in-Production: Value Creation in Late Capitalism and the Rise of Knowledge-Centered Production
- Rethinking Economics...
- The Attention Economy: The Natural Economy of the Net
- Agent-Based Computational Economics
- Toward a General Theory of Population, Economic Growth, Environmental Deterioration, Wealth, and Poverty
- The Theory of Economic Interdependence: An Introduction
- Readings on the New Economy
- Paul Krugman, The Spatial Economy: Introduction
- On The Cancer Stage Of Capitalism And Its Cure
- The Cancer Stage of Capitalism - In this bold new look at the recent uncontrolled spread of global capitalism, John McMurtry, professor of philosophy at the University of Guelph, develops the metaphor of modern capitalism as a cancer. Its invasive growth, he argues, threatens to break down our society's immune system and--if not soon restrained--could reverse all the progress that has been made toward social equity and stability. This essay is a condensed version of an article Prof. McMurtry wrote for the American journal "Social Justice."
- Development And Political Economy Links
- A New World Order?
- The Sociological Perspective on the Economy
- The High-Tech Gift Economy
- Hayek Page -- The Friedrich Hayek Scholars' Page
- Herman Daly: Steady-State Economics
- Sustainable Growth: An Impossibility Theorem, by Herman E. Daly
- Handbook of International Economic Statistics, 1996
- Communication, Citizenship and Social Policy: Re-Thinking the Limits of the Welfare State
- The New Age Of Economics
- Essential Principles of Economics
- Economics Resources on the Internet
- The Official Paul Krugman Web Page
- Friction or fact? A Friction-Free Economy
- Mainstreaming Articles Pertaining to the Friction-Free Economy
- The Political Economy Of Virtual Reality: Pan-Capitalism
- The New Wealth of Nations
- Paul Hawken -- The Least-Cost Society
- ECOL-ECON: Aug98 : No Invisible Hand for Ecol + Econ?
- Hubbert's Prescription for Survival, A Steady State Economy
- The Next Reformation
- McKeever Institute of Economic Policy Analysis
- The Attention Economy: The Natural Economy of the Net - After capital in the Industrial Age, attention becomes the key scarce commodity in the Information Age
- Economics is dead. Long live economics! - A critique of the above paper
- Steady-State Economics, by Herman Daly
- Channel Zero: Beyond Economics
- Applying Complex Adaptive Systems Theory
- Natural Capitalism
- Robert Theobald Home Page - the cancelled 1996 Massey Lecture Series
- A Bibliography of Fiscal, Economic, Environmental, and Social Impact Methodologies and Models
- CPB Research Unit on Infrastructure and Spatial Economics
- Elementary Entropy For Economists And Other Politicians - for geographers, too?
- Ed Brown's Political Economy Archive
Go to Space-Economy Page
Go to Web Links Page
Go to UWO Geography Home Page