Mismanaging a golden age; the long view (1,2,3)
I repost here three posts from (almost) a year ago -with a view of continuing the argument. It is summer again, the only period of the year i can make the time to blog.
Capitalism rocks!!!; the long view(1)
August 16, 2009 –
Humanity learns. (Do not imagine that learning as that of a child. Children learn what humanity already knows. It is the kind of learning that is driven by discoveries and inventions. The kind that again and again begins from scratch, where every interesting question is to big to answer, where no method is given, where even the language has to be constructed.)
Human culture is unfinished. Not just in the trivial sense that there is always more to discover, to invent, to know. The forces that govern culture are still emerging. (Think of the universe before gravity, life before sexual reproduction.)
Ever since humanity's learning accelerated and switched its main subject to the effectivity of actions (we call that period "modernity") a cautionary tale has been circulating, warning about danger. It is the tale of the sorcerer's pupil. (Remember disney's version? with mickey as the pupil? chased by brooms? you get the picture..!!) That romantic tale is both true and false. The truth is that humanity indeed calls forth forces it does not control. The untruth of the story is that in reality there is of course no master-sorcerer. Nobody can teach humanity in advance how to handle its discoveries. It is humanity's fate to create again and again cultural innovations without knowing (in advance) how to limit inherent dangers, how to maximize advantages. Humanity has to learn to manage its inventions "after the fact" "on the go" by trial and error".
Capitalism is the pursuit of wealth by free individuals. It is one of humanity's greatest discoveries/inventions. Fukoyama is right: in that part of culture we call "the economy" History is finished. With the rise of capitalism the principle force of the economy has been unleashed. The pursuit of wealth by free individuals keeps (forever) deconstructing existing economic relations and replacing them by new ones that deliver more wealth. The productivity of resources, labour, power and wealth itself rises steadily.
The succes of capitalism in creating wealth in the last four centuries has been amazing. Capitalism raises the real hope of an accumulation of wealth to such an extent that every human being on the planet can live comfortably.
The best of times; the long view(2)
August 22, 2009 –
Capitalism begins while the aims of history firmly point in other directions. It begins in the cities of the southern -and then in the cities of the northern renaissance. It begins while the thinking of eternity, history and events, the middle age of the thinking about thought, is superseded by the thinking of subjectivity, consciousness and experiences. It begins while out of that ordening of thought science is born. It begins while the thinking about action begins as the pursuit of freedom.
Capitalism begins as a mercantilism of the enclosed seas, the gulf, the mediteranean, the northsea and the baltic.With those seatrades as hubs the old landroutes are reinvigorated; to russia, the middle east, the far east. And then of course the seatrade brakes out of the enclosures and goes in search of the direct route: cutting out the middle-man. Two continents are discovered as obstacles on the way to fabled China; Africa and the America's.
Capitalism begins as a mercantilism of a still agricultural economy. But the formation of capital breaks its molds. Now in formation with the forces of freedom and science capital gives birth to the industrial economy. That takes a century, the nineteenth. From that moment on two economies exist : the agricultural and the industrial. Today the (mechanized) agricultural economy (even though it is of course many times bigger then it was two centuries ago) fits into the coatpocket of the industrial economy. Is it 5% of GDP?
Capitalism and industrialisation up until now completely transformed only a part of the world. The Western nations had a headstart und used/misused that. Other civilizations have since tried to catch up. (To "emerge")
Many people have interpreted the developement of IT as one more industrial revolution. (The third or the fourth?) They underestimate what is happening. IT is a transformation that can only be compared to the one that added the industrial to the agricultural. IT creates a third economy. IT creates the information economy.
In time the industrail economy will fit into the coatpocket of the information economy.
The fall of communism finally opened the two thirds of the world where it was absent to capitalism's force.
If we can learn to manage we could usher in a global golden age. The capitalisation of the east and the south multiplied by the birth of the information economy.
The birth of the information economy; the long view (3)
August 30, 2009 –
The emergence of Information Technology ushers in a new economic era.
IT will of course at first transform the existing economies, the agricultural and the industrial. Just as the industrial revolution started as the mechanization (machinization) of the agricultural, the informational revolution has started as the informatization of the agricultural and industrial economy. The driving force has been the productivity gains that informatization makes possible. (The list of IT-transformations of agricultural and industrial businesspractices (in productdesign, production, logistics, sales, marketing, hrm, management, finances etc) is almost endless.) Nevertheless that process of “informing” agriculture and industry is only the smaller part of the revolution. The bigger part will be the production, distribution and consumption of information as such. With that a third economy, the information economy, will come into being.
Compare the amount of money you spend on food and clothes and compare it to the amount you spend on “machines”. (Your house and its upkeep, the airco and the central heating, the car and its use, airplanetravel, the kitchen”ware”, the television, the radio etc). Shall we conservatively say you spend 5 times as much on industrial goods then you do on the agricultural? Now imagine spending 5 times as much again on information. As future history will show there is nothing the human animal values and desires more than information. (Content will be king!)
The emergence of this third economy is of fundamental importance for the fate of capitalism, the fate of the human species and the fate of the earth ecology.
Because of this third economy the world can keep growing its wealth. The global economies can now continue on a growth path for at least another two hundred years. That opens up the possibility that the total amount of wealth reaches levels that makes it possible for everyone to leave a decent life. because of that war's of scarcity could be banished.
Because of this third economy humanity can make its economies green. The information economy will use only a fraction of the resources the other two use. The wealth the information economy generates will finance the ecological transformation of agriculture and industry. The knowledge and innovations the information economy generates will make that ecological transformation technically feasible.