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Re: <nettime> Nobel laureate in economics aged 102 endorses the human ec
Brian Holmes on Tue, 22 Jan 2013 01:26:47 +0100 (CET)


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Re: <nettime> Nobel laureate in economics aged 102 endorses the human economy...


On 01/21/2013 08:52 AM, Newmedia {AT} aol.com wrote:

Does either Sugihara or Arrighi ever mention Tavistock or "social
psychology"?  Were they part of the "humans relations" movement (i.e. the
title of the SOCPSY journal, starting in 1947)?  ....

Mark, I am always fascinated by your ideas and the things you refer to. For instance, I am aware of Lewin's work on Group Dynamics and of some of its Cold War implications, but all too hazy concerning the context at MIT in which it took place, so please tell us some more about it!

As for Gregory Bateson, I'm very interested in his later work and I think some of its radicality must be driven by regret for, among other things, a letter he wrote during WWII to another famous personage:

"Bateson had remarkable strategic foresight concerning the effect of new technology on warfare. While in the Pacific Theater, he wrote to the legendary director of the OSS, "Wild Bill" Donovan, that the existence of the nuclear bomb would change the nature of conflict, forcing nations to engage in indirect methods of warfare. Bateson recommended to Donovan that the United States not rely on conventional forces for defense but to establish a third agency to employ clandestine operations, economic controls, and psychological pressures in the new warfare. This organization is, of course, now known as the Central Intelligence Agency."

Could anyone ever forget writing such a letter? Perhaps one of our correspondents could go look it up in the Bateson archive at UC Santa Cruz, where there is apparently a photocopy. Anyway, the 2005 article which I quote above, by some military dude apparently called "McFate," is entitled "Anthropology and Counterinsurgency: The Strange Story of their Curious Relationship." You would find it very curious too. The guy laments how anthropology became next to useless to the US military after the Vietnam War, and describes how the Army made an effort to bring the discipline back into the fold for the needs of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. I am sure many on this list would be able to give us an update on how successful, or not, that effort was, again I'm a little hazy on that.

As for Arrighi and Sugihara, they're historians of the long run and the Industrious Revolution they are talking about goes back to the Tokugawa period in Japan. I don't think it has much to do with the Tavistock Institute...

Although there is never a good reason to forget 20th-century history, there are good reasons to try to go beyond it. For some that means looking into a deeper past, in order to imagine a different future.

all the best, Brian


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