Praxeology is the attempt to define the underlying logic of human action both individual and collective. It was a fundamental hallmark of Austrian ‘free market’ economics. It’s advantage is that, if conducted properly, it should make our axioms, suppositions, hypotheses, observations, and deductions obvious and open to criticism, so we can progress our understanding as we encounter new events and new perspectives. However, Austrian economics and its followers seem to have continually ignored empirical observations which suggest that capitalism would not work as they wanted it to behave. Rather than deal with the problems of their assumptions, or of capitalism, they have appeared to have wanted to blame others for capitalism’s failures (such as people with ‘good intentions’, socialists, state interference etc). Hence, their free market economics appears as if it is an attempt to protect capitalism from democratic influence or responsibility.
This is an attempt to describe human action without that particular bias.
This post will likely grow as I rethink it and rewrite it.
Capitalism is a set of social organisations of ‘forms’ or ‘systems’ of life:
Economic Life system: The organisation of exchange, trade, production, distribution of goods and wealth, property rights, ownership, credit, poverty, waste, pollution, extraction;
Political Life system: Relations of power and dominance, state organisation, taxes, active concerns, priorities, neglects, law, courts, regulation, policing, interaction with other groups, placing people in social categories to treat them ‘correctly’ (however ‘correctly’ is defined), warfare etc.
Informational Life system: Modes of gathering, producing, organisation, owning, distributing, suppressing or ignoring, information. Structures of communication. Modes of informational etiquette (such as abusing those who disagree) Modes of truth.
Energetic Life system: Labour, slavery, water, wind, solar, food, coal, wind, oil, nuclear etc.
Ecological Life system: Availability of resources, weather patterns, fertility, creatures, planetary boundaries etc…
- [Capitalism also involves organisations of family, personal, educational and religious life (and so on), so that people can earn money, survive and find meaning within the overall system, but for the while we will ignore these factors, simply to make it relatively simple.]
- [I have sometimes separated out the system of waste, pollution, dispersion, extraction and ecological destruction to emphasise its importance to current problems, and may do so again later. We can hypothesise that all economies depend on their systems of waste, pollution, dispersion and destruction.]
Despite coming last in this set of conditions, ecological systems are the fundamental basis of all life. Ecology is primary to all of economy, politics and energy use, although it is shaped by economy, politics and energy use. I’m not alone in asserting that politics and economics should be more focused on tending to the ecology, and keeping it healthy and functional, so as to help our survival. Functional, non-poisoned ecologies, in human terms, are vital.
All these forms or systems of life are bound together. You cannot separate them, and be realistic. Capitalism, politics, information, energy, ecology are all interacting complex systems. The imposition of one kind of order in one sphere, may generate unintended consequences or events, elsewhere, which are considered to be disorders.
Economic and political life are especially bound together. No capitalism has been observed without political life or without a State. Capitalism without States, may be possible, but so far it is a fantasy, and praxeology must deal with the real and observable, or be useless. Likewise no form of capitalism currently exists without an information system or without being within an ecology.
Proposition: All of these systems/forms of life have been impacted on over history, and this may affect their present condition and limit their probable futures.
The specific modes of organisation which define capitalism will become clearer as we progress, but the initial Primary guiding hypothesis is that the increase of monetary profit is the main drive and organising focus of capitalism – especially of neoliberal (current day) capitalism. Other forms and systems of social organisation, may not assume that monetary profit is the prime directive of all life. People may, for example, seek status (admiration from others) and power through displays of generosity or care.
A Secondary guiding hypothesis, which does not seem uniquely relevant to capitalism, is that the ruling elites (wealth or otherwise) will seek to maintain the conditions of their existence, and to increase their power (and profit). However, while they may have these intentions, there is no guarantee that they will succeed, or that they will not undermine themselves. The world is complex and escapes anyone’s total control.
Propositions on Profit
Definition: Profit is the extraction of money from the general economic process and its allocation to particular people in positions of business ownership, through legal means (ie political action), who then are said to make, and own, the profit. Profit arises within an underlying complex set of social processes or interdependencies (labour, provision of goods, provision of energy, regulation, interactions with other businesses, customers and so on). The law allows its separation out from this complex set of interdependencies. Recognised money makes profit ‘real’ and ‘storable’. As Ruskin suggests profit is not to be confused with wealth. Profit can also be a source of ‘illth.’
Question: Is there any form of what we call capitalism which does not require money?
Assertion based on the primary guiding hypothesis: Taking, and increasing, Profit is the fundamental underlying (and moral) principle of capitalism. The more intense the power of capitalists the more likely this is the case. Profit is needed for survival as a business.
Proposition 1: In capitalism, high profit (within the law) is considered good and less profit bad.
Proposition 2: The more costs of production can be lowered to increase profit the better.
Therefore: Workers are a drain on profit, and should be either eliminated or underpaid. The same may be true of suppliers. Likewise, pollution, poisoning, and unremediated ecological destruction are useful as they cut costs, and so are dismissed in capitalism as externalities. They are said to be external to the economic system, having no effect. Essentially externalities are the ways in which the capitalist class can freeload costs and suffering onto others to increase profit. One significant problem is that the planet and its ecologies are not external to survival and are finite. They have limits, and freeloading will eventually catch up with everyone. We have known this in theory since at least 1966, although the realisation seems to have been put to one side.
Question: Is capitalism more or less driven to destroy the ecology which supports it, through the drive to ‘externalise’ and ignore ecological damage, in order to increase profit?
The desire to continually increase profit, leads to growth (enlargement rather than development) being the mark of a successful business. Enlargement is not necessarily sustainable in all conditions for everyone – hence most businesses collapse, and only the most profitable (or ruthless) survive and eat everything else. To repeat, this increases the necessary power of profit, it keeps you in business, and that is more important than valuing ecology in this system.
Definition: Freeloading involves letting other people, or other companies, do the socially useful survival work (like not emitting pollution, feeding the workers), and avoiding the costs of that work and therefore increasing profits at the expense of those who don’t freeload.
Empirical generalisation: Corporate freeloading is often hidden by the information system, while worker freeloading is exposed.
Hypothesis: Freeloading is moral in capitalism, if it makes a profit and its done by the corporate class against the non-corporate class.
Question: Is there anything in capitalism, which prevents individualists from refusing to participate in the general costs of survival, by hiding their freeloading on those who do absorb those costs, then continuing with making the damage, making more profit and surviving when the other ‘responsible companies’ collapse?
If nothing opposes this, then all companies will be inclined towards freeloading for the sake of their survival.
It may be important to distinguish price from value, although they are often confused. Fresh air may be valuable but it may not yet be priced. Love may be valuable, but it may not always be priced. Price is the amount of money something can be charged for on the market.
It may be important not to assume that the value of anything is solely (and objectively) its price.
Proposition 1: In capitalism, high profit (within the law) is considered good and less profit bad.
Proposition 3: The higher the prices that can be charged to the customer, the greater the profit.
Therefore: Prices should continually increase until the products cannot be sold at a profit or potential customers move to products produced by other people with roughly the same function. This process is generally called competition.
Competition involves information. People have to know they can get the cheaper useful product for competition to work. Complete information is impossible, but fraud is possible. that is the cheaper product may not work.
Transactions with new businesses are risky. Companies are not providing exactly the same products. Cheaper may be cheaper, but they may not be good, the new company might break down, and leave you without a supplier, and so on.
Question: Do businesses generally regard competition as bad, and head towards monopoly, cooperation and/or suppression of information?
Empirical observation: Companies can, and do, create the illusion of competition by manufacturing different brands of ‘stuff’ at different prices.
Question: Is attempting to confuse the market (or the customer) a standard or vital tactic for business to help increase the price they can charge?
Historical Digression: Trajectories of Capital accumulation
Question: If there is no legal force which demands peace recognised, what crimes will be perpetuated in the name of profit?
Empirical observations: the East India Company. The Opium Wars. Tobacco companies.
Accumulation of capital, or the profit, to begin capitalism, has been historically brought about through violence.
Feudalism, conquest, colonialism, theft of treasure and resources (gold and silver from the Americas and India), ‘enclosures’ or dispossession of people from land, stripping people of their right to self sufficiency, slavery, cheap (but crippling or deadly) working conditions, downplaying the value of labour, reducing obligation and care to ‘money,’ together with repression of rebellion until this set up became taken as natural because people had never experienced anything else.
Capitalist colonialism has always attempted to eliminate non-capitalist ways of organising economic behaviour. Sometimes this destruction was deliberate (imposing wage labour, dispossessing people from land, or otherwise promoting the need for currency through taxes etc.) and sometimes it may have been accidental through the inability to understand that non-capitalist economic systems existed or had any virtues (ie through the capitalist shaping of the information system, and through the fact that not all these economies valued a constant increase in monetary profit at all costs). We might call this “The Natives are lazy” syndrome, found in Australia under Terra Nullius, which claimed that aboriginal people ignored the land and did not exist, which ‘therefore’ justifies taking the land, the destruction of non-capitalist people, ecologies and economies. Sometimes the destruction was by spread of disease, deliberate or otherwise.
Observation: The history of capitalist accumulation seems to be brought about by elites co-operating with each other and their ‘workers’, and doing far more damage than they could have done alone. There is no reason to assume that they should have become ‘individual’ operators after that success. (See ‘competition and co-operation’ below.)
Differences in capital accumulation are not just the result of virtue, or productive talent as claimed by most pro-capitalist economic theory, but of violence and theft.
Question: Does this situation continue today?
Empirical observation: We are still told the poor (‘Natives’) are lazy, untalented or cursed by God to be blamed for their own poverty, and that the ‘undeveloped world’ needs more capitalists, more enclosure of property, to buy more of our products (to make money for us), the help of international corporations and minerals being taken for very little in the way of payment. In America and Australia ‘our’ economic and state institutions still keep most of the land which was violently stolen.
The use of day to day violence was partially mitigated by the rise of worker organisation, the workers standing up to the violence, the rise of independence movements, the fear of revolution, and the general failure of fascism to stabilise capitalist power. Since the late 1980s this fear has diminished and workers’ organisation has declined. We may be heading into another round of ‘stabilising’ fascism.
Another factor in the lessening of repression was the realisation that workers with higher wages can form a viable market for products and hence higher wages can benefit all through increasing the scope of the market. However such a realisation was likely to fall, because of the temptation for individual capitalists to freeload on others, and to go back to undermining, deskilling and underpaying labour to increase their own profit and power in the market, at the cost of those who treated workers better to generate a good market.
Proposition: Human Competition and Co-operation
Empirical observation: People are both cooperative and competitive
a) They tend to cooperate within ingroups, or with people the person identifies with
b) They tend to compete with outgroups, or with people the person does not identify with
Empirical observation: People can do things through co-operation they could not do alone. They can often get more done through co-operation than by working alone.
Empirical observation: Competition often occurs through co-operation, as when group co-operates to ‘defeat’ another group or to increase their power and capacity.
Corporations are examples of human cooperation and competition (cooperation and competition both within and without).
Remark: Human beings don’t have to compete for money. Humans can compete for respect, acknowledgment, fame, power, obligation and so on – all of which can be beneficial to community life.
Many economic systems rely on ‘generosity’ of gifting, to build relationships and obligations. This can mix both competition and co-operation.
To ignore one of these factors in favour of the other, is to suppress awareness of human complexity.
Observation: Nothing that can be called an economy does not involve both competition and co-operation.
The limits of co-operation and competition are usually set by social convention and who is defined as ingroup and who is defined as outgroup.
Rejecting ideas of co-operation and non-monetary returns, means that people ignore vital parts of society, such as the building and design of the internet (free exchange in return for status and acknowledgement), long lasting commons and shared land, and even obvious fact, that most parents don’t kill, or seriously harm, their babies.
Propositions on power and economic action
Definition: Power is the capacity for both a) free action and b) control, or influence, over others’ actions.
Empirical observation (and axiom) 1: Unequal wealth = unequal power.
In a capitalist state, and perhaps in all States, wealth buys access to political processes, free action and control over others through organised violence or law. Wealth is a basis for power for free action and control over others.
Unequal wealth and power generates unequal liberty and unequal capacity for action.
Empirical observation (and axiom) 2: Capitalism generates massively unequal wealth (Usually justified by Praxeologists on the grounds of unequal talents.)
Therefore: capitalism generates massively unequal power, liberty and capacity to act.
Suggestion: Capitalist politics enforces this unequal liberty in order to preserve its system stability, to preserve the hierarchy of power and wealth of those who have it, and to engage in ‘capitalist pillage for capital accumulation’. See above and next section.
Hypothesis: The fundamental relationship in capitalism, is between Boss and worker. The worker must, in general, do as they are told so as to maximise profit. There is no necessary relationship between boss and worker apart from obedience and money. Capitalism is about obedience, and dependence on the employer, not about liberty.
Suggestion: Maximization of profit requires that groups who might want to share in the profit they helped produce, or who might increase costs through rendering pollution a non-external cost, have to be suppressed as best as possible, without leading to their revolt. This suppression may require the State, or co-operation between businesses.
Proposition: ‘Crony Capitalism’ and ‘State Capture’ are inevitable
The hyper wealthy will tend to identify with each other against ordinary people (see the proposition ‘Human Competition and Co-operation’, above). Hence they will co-operate against ordinary people and the ‘threat’ posed by ordinary people.
This is reinforced by the ‘need’ to diminish wages and working conditions and externalise costs onto others, so as to increase profit.
Statement: Employers, large corporations and wealth elites have more power than ordinary workers
Definition: Crony capitalism is co-operation between corporations or wealth elites so as to increase wealth, profit and power. This may make use of a political class, primarily a political class which identifies with the wealth elites, or is easily bought (because profit is the main social virtue).
Crony Capitalism is normal capitalism based in ‘human nature’ and ingroup outgroup behaviour. It’s easy and it is effective in increasing profit, and hence reinforced by the normal processes of profit seeking.
That corporate elites co-operate against outgroups, does not mean they will be unified with no internal competition, but that competition maybe suppressed in their cooperation against the “common enemy”.
Proposition 1: The corporate wealth elite has more power and capacity than the ‘lower classes’
Proposition 2: The elite will co-operate against the lower classes.
Proposition 3: The corporate wealth elite will pass this wealth and the advantage it brings to their children.
Therefore: workers are more limited in their response to opportunities. Competition between workers will always drive down wages unless there are workers with skills which are in short supply, and there is no equality or freedom of opportunity in capitalism for most people.
Comment: This competition between workers to earn enough to survive seems to be encouraged by pro-capitalist politicians to force down wages, and this perhaps unintentionally lowers the capacity of the mass market to purchase products and services.
What counts as belonging to who, is an act of negotiation and power. The more powerful the workers the more ‘belongs’ to them, the more powerful bosses and business, the more belongs to them.
Proposition: Collaboration between wealth elites will also occur in the wider political sphere.
Therefore: The hyper wealthy and the corporate sector will attempt to take over or capture the State, or set up a plutocratic state, to prevent the lower classes from acting against them. This State will regulate and structure the market in their favour in order to benefit their profit; it will allow more freeloading on others; it will attempt to prevent people demanding action which is socially beneficial but which could reduce profit, and it will police challenges to this order. This is personally beneficial for the politicians in capitalist ideology.
As a result, there is no possible capitalism in which the State does not interfere with the market, especially in an attempt to support the capitalist market. Hence the State is part of the market and cannot be blamed for the failure of the market alone – the behaviour of the State is part of the market in action.
Assertion: the form of State present in a capitalist society, will tend to support the wealth elites, support the location of profit with the wealth elites, while cutting back any support for workers, cutting back attempts to end freeloading by the wealth elites and demonising those who might agitate against the wealth elites in ways which could be effective.
Siding with the elites
Proposition 1: Living the worker life is insecure and low status.
Proposition 2: People tend to avoid positions of insecurity and low status if they can.
Therefore: People can hope to increase their wealth and apparent power, by siding with employers or corporations forming the managerial class which acts as a distractor and buffer between workers and wealth elites. However, low level managers (in particular) are still workers and discardable, whatever they might hope to the contrary.
Observation: Capitalism has to attract support to survive outside of perpetual warfare.
Power in the ‘Marketplace’
Following on from the earlier propositions.
Proposition 1: Wealthier players may have less of an immediate need for a transaction – they have the ‘capital’ to prolong survival, at a loss.
Proposition 2: Poorer players may have an immediate need for the transaction to survive and may have to agree to ensure that survival. They cannot survive the loss.
Therefore: All actors in the market do NOT have equal power in the market, and that transactions are not equitable, and are not equally satisfying.
Empirical observation: People who are not self supporting, and who need wages to survive may have to accept jobs at low wages, as low wages are better than non. Low wages may provide food, delay being thrown out of accommodation and so on. The employer does not have to care that much, as there will probably be someone else out of their luck and willing to accept the wages.
Employers can also co-operate to lower wages. cf Crony capitalism. They can also oppose livable minimum wages becoming law, because they are a recognised power block.
Likewise, in certain circumstances, a supplier can be desperate for a contract, and have to take a low offer because there is nothing else around, and the purchaser can hang in. In other circumstances the purchaser may be in the vulnerable position.
Mutual satisfaction in capitalist exchange is not guaranteed.
It is almost sanctified to rip off, or cheat, the other, unless it affects profit and repeat sales. Caveat emptor (buyer beware) is the principle.
Proposition 3: Small businesses can rarely undercut big businesses.
Proposition 4: Big business can often undercut the prices of small business for long enough to break the small business. They can then put up the prices.
Therefore: Big business can usually drive out small business, or non-established businesses, if the transactions are based solely on prices.
Therefore: An established oligopoly can generate conditions in which it is almost impossible for competitors to break into a market, even if the prices they charge are vastly inflated – especially given that the competitors usually have to consume capital to enter into the market in the first place, and are therefore likely to have higher costs to recover.
The risks of interacting with new players for old customers, is also a factor which supports the oligopoly.
All social systems have information systems.
The information a person has access too will influence the way that they perceive the world and its workings. Hence, control of the information system, or parts of the system is important politically, as it brings things to notice.
Proposition 1: In a capitalist society, the main media organisations and sources of information will be owned and controlled by the wealth elites.
Proposition 2: Nearly all contemporary people will gain information about the wider world, politics, ecology and economy, from media rather than from personal experience. The world is too big to know it all personally.
Therefore: the media will, in general, defend the wealth elites, their views, and their system of wealth to help preserve the system.
Note: this does not mean every player will automatically see the rightness of a particular defense, but defense and justification will be aimed at.
Proposition 3: As the media are corporate, the main purpose of the media is to make profit.
Proposition 4: the main source of media profit is corporate advertising.
Therefore: They will attempt to not alienate their advertisers or their audience. The primary aim of media is to attract audiences for advertisers’ advertisements, not to promote accurate statements.
Proposition 5: A secondary aim will be to discredit other media to stop the audience going elsewhere, and to keep advertising revenue high. This also does not contribute to accuracy.
Proposition 6: The function of advertising is to sell products, associate engaging fantasies with particular products, get people excited about new products or imagined products, attack existing competing products, hide cheaper competing products, increase profits, justify or naturalise capitalism, or protect a company from challenge, not to promote accuracy or accurate understanding. The Corporate Media is necessarily saturated in hype, falsehood and exaggeration from the beginning. And then there is the need to hide freeloading, or create ‘greenwash’, etc, to keep markets open against protest.
Reminder: It has already been suggested that false information about markets and confusion about prices of products can be useful to competitors on the market. If people do not know what they are buying, or how much they are paying, that can also be useful to competition. (Scot Adams: ‘Confusopoly’).
Proposition 6: People depend on the knowledge system, to learn about the world, to respond to the world and to situate themselves in the world.
Proposition 7: Confused people are more easily led to avoid problems and into further destruction by those who think they benefit from ignoring the problems.
Therefore: An information system which is completely messy will allow problems to accumulate or even encourage problems and destruction to continue, so as to preserve the power and wealth structures.
Empirical observation: the information system may distract people away from important information, in order to help the system pretend it is coping, and to prevent added challenges to the system. For example, controversy about the science of climate change is promoted beyond it statistical significance, while general agreement is not. Celebrity life is more important than climate change. This helps the system keep going (for a while). Likewise, non-capitalist economics is ignored, while the virtue of ‘free markets’ is promoted. Information necessary for survival may be hidden or attacked by the information system if it is seen as presenting an unacceptable challenge to capitalism.
Question: Are these kinds of information disruption systems present within the corporation itself?
Hypothesis: In general (but not always) people at the local level have a better knowledge of what is going on locally than people distant from them.
Therefore: Locals may tend to lie to the centre, or distant power, to allow them to act appropriately.
Remark: Pro-corporate analysts recognise that distant government officials can be out of touch, but generally do not recognise that corporate officials can also be out of touch for the same reasons.
Hypothesis: A punitive hierarchy will establish a system in which people below tell people above, what those below think those above want to hear, so as to protect themselves. The people above will only tell people below, what they think those below need to hear or know, and will lie to protect themselves, or to prevent resistance. Status depends on knowledge, so few people give knowledge away.
When you buy information from a supplier to try and obtain accuracy, the buyer still faces the problem that the supplier is likely to try and keep the purchasing relationship going by providing you with what you might want to hear, rather than what is accurate, and their sources might do likewise. Think tanks are often quite overt about providing their customers with what they want.
Suggestion: to this market based information disruption, we can add the effect of the political propaganda also spread through the information system, in which various forces attempt to make the corporate sector or political parties and politicians look good or bad and provide them with the information that will change their behaviour in desired ways.
The capitalist information system is riddled with rhetoric, hype, lies, distraction, fantasy and confusion, not as an add-on or an easily correctable mistake, but as part of its normal operation.
The normal processes of the market and of customer purchase appear to disrupt the intelligence and information needed to make decisions in the market.
Eventually the whole system will collapse when reality does not match with what the people come to believe should be the case, and with how they should act. This is suicidal. The information system becomes a non-functional ecology, in human terms.
Hypothesis: this cultivation of confusion and falsity to gain and keep market advantage is one reason why economic collapses, market breakdowns and the like, always take almost all players in the market by surprise.
It has been said that the market is the ultimate and only information processor about the world. If a business gets something wrong and does not learn, it goes bust. However, markets are a subset of ecological interactions. It is the ecology which has the final say. And if the ecology collapses, it does not matter how successfully the market has operated in its own terms, it will likely go down with the ecology.
Question: Despite all this information disruption, can wealth can buy better information and therefore buy advantage on the marketplace?
Markets, Relationships and Trust (Morals?)
Anthropological observation: Most systems of exchange are about building relationships (systems of obligation, trust, gifting, connection and status) between people to further co-operation. Humans are relational animals before economic animals, and long before becoming ‘monetary transaction machines’.
Observation: Relationality still exists when price is not the only determinate of behaviour.
People can build relationships with small companies, with corner stores, with favourite stores, with their children etc. that are more than monetary exchanges.
Relationship building seems to be one reason why ingroup and outgroup bonds are so easy to form.
Companies have often tried to take advantage of relationality, and build up a relationship between customers and products, as if it were two way, when its primarily entrapping the customer..
By trying to make price and advantage the prime mode of exchange, in which the payment of money terminates the transaction, capitalist ideology breaks down human relationships to other humans and to ecology (natural world).
This is deeply anti-human, destructive of awareness and preventative of spontaneous beneficial non-capitalist co-operation from emerging.
Building connections and co-operation within and outside capitalism, and outside its self-generated problems, is likely a step towards building a survivable and less catastrophic world.
Emphasising co-operation without pretending people are never competitive or self-interested. Common land, common tools, common property exists throughout the world. I’ve argued that common energy may be the best way out of the energy crisis, as it puts responsibility for energy and pollution squarely on those that use it. It responds to local conditions, builds functional local democracy and participation, and has to guard against freeloaders or the project will fail.
It looks as though successful commons require locally agreed upon rules of use, and sanctions for violation of those rules.
Uncertainty and experimental politics
Assertion 1: Uncertainty is fundamental in complex systems. No matter how good the information system we will probably never have certainty. Few precise predictions can be guaranteed. The system is too complicated to map completely. No information system carries completely accurate statements.
Assertion 2: Uncertainty is not fixed by imposing the certainty that free markets deal with uncertainty and always produce the best possible result. Free markets are entangled in relations of power and deceit from the beginning. The ecology is the only real marker of correctness, and its response may be violent.
Assertion 3: Due to uncertainty, most policies, ethical positions and proposed solutions are experimental, and have to be treated as experimental. We don’t, and will not, know the full result of a set of actions until after we have acted, and we need to refine actions based on the result and the feedback it gives – and recognise this may change.
Assertion 4: We do now know, that current day neoliberal capitalism does not appear able to solve the problems it generates, and largely sweeps them under the table. It’s day needs to be over, but we may not know what to replace it with. This adds to uncertainty and the need for experiment.
Returning to systems
Observation: People live within systems. They do not live as isolated individuals. They live as interdependent people. This is fundamental. Without being able to be dependent on other humans all infants would die.
Observation: People live in the interaction of numerous systems of human and non human systems.
Observation: humans live in and create complex systems…. this has consequences. (I’ve dealt with this elsewhere, but uncertainty is primary).
Hypothesis: Attempting to impose any single system on all the others can easily lead to disaster.
Imposing ‘individualistic’ capitalism, or the ideology of individualistic capitalism on everything, is causing disaster.
It does not even produce an adequate model of what happens in real capitalism or real economies.
Methodological individualism is a distortion of reality, which serves an ideological purpose alone, to help maintain the power of capitalism and to prevent co-operative innovation and moves outside of the destructive economic system.
This set of reconceptualisations, which is not claiming to be original, is important because
- humans act in situations/contexts
- with particular understandings.
- Understandings are part of the information system
Humans are hampered and encouraged by the contexts they live within.
If they have fundamentally incorrect understandings of the situation then the hampering to action from that situation will win out.
For example, it is easily possible to allege that most politics allowed to participate in capitalism are politics which help the reproduction of capitalism. There may be disagreements about how this is done, ranging from pure fascist theocratic authority, to pure libertarianism, to having working social services, but the main idea is to keep capitalism and its ‘class system’ going, even if we add another class to it to help that happen.
However we could imagine a politics in which the main concern was regenerating relatively harmonious human ecological relations, so that we did came to not deplete the earth, destroy other species, or poison the world. A politics which realised that without a working set of ecologies which include us, we cannot survive let alone survive well. This would be a politics and economics which would either displace or transform capitalist destruction, and make a new more human economics. It would at the least challenge the type of assumptions that we make about the world within capitalism.
The understandings proposed here can be trivial or wrong, but I assert they are better for dealing with our situations than the ones which have informational dominance and which seem to be helping towards continuing and worsening the multiple crises we face.