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Re: <nettime> a call to the army of love etc. etc.
Keith Hart on Tue, 18 Oct 2011 15:37:20 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> a call to the army of love etc. etc.

I can't speak for Mark Stahlman, but I don't imagine that anyone
who can write so interestingly would dream of a world without
machines. "Machines" should rather be taken as a metaphor for the
organized attempt to reduce human beings to working on machines.
Will machines serve people or people serve machines? At some risk of
oversimplification, Marx's project was based on the observation that
what matter in our world are people, machines and money. As things
stood then and still do, money buys machines and people work on them.
The political task is to reverse the order, to put people in charge of
machines and money. Marx hoped that machine production might generate
the social conditions for this revolution and so do we. Maybe we can
dispense with the apparatus of party, classes et, but that is history.

Philip Mirowski's cumbersome but essential book, *Machine Dreams:
How economics became a cyborg science*, explains how operations
research (OR) in World War 2 spawned a family of social models built
on an analogy with machines: cybernetics, games theory, systems
theory etc. These were incorproated into the management of production
and of society more generally, nowhere more than in the United
States. The economists, building on a mathematical revolution of the
1940s, launched by Tinbergen and Koopmans during the war, happily
adopted this family of approaches. Their version of it was "rational
expectations" theory or the "efficient market hypothesis" and we all
know what happened next. In this sense the twentieth century, and
especially its last half, saw the machines win.

But not irreversibly. Thomas Sargent was just interviewed about his
Nobel prize this year. Even the economists are no longer triumphalist
in the face of the damage done to the world economy by governments
and corporations blindly following the dictates of the rational
expectations model. Sargent admitted: ?We experiment with our models,
before we wreck the world.? If I share the aspiration to build a human
economy fit for all of us, it would not be one without machines or
money. It would just put human interests first.


On Mon, Oct 17, 2011 at 6:30 PM, allan siegel <allan {AT} allansiegel.info>wrote:

> dear Mark Stahlman and others
> sorry about jumping in like this, I follow the various conversation on this
> list and at times feel a great irritation at the flippant manner in which
> words are bantered about.


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