Nettime mailing list archives

Re: <nettime> Nobel laureate in economics aged 102 endorses the human ec
Newmedia on Tue, 22 Jan 2013 17:02:34 +0100 (CET)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

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

> Mark, I am always fascinated by your ideas and the things you refer  to. 

So, Brian loves Mark (in public) . . . ?? <g>
I find that if you want to "go" someplace, it is very helpful to know where 
 you are already.  And, if you wish to know where you stand today, it is  
indispensable to understand how you got there.
People who don't care about any of this are generally not "serious" about  
going anyplace.
But, far more interesting are those who seem to be engaged with history  
and, in constructing their "narratives," make some things up and leave  other 
things out.  History is tricky that way.  So are people.
For instance, Richard Barbrook has "made up" a story about Marshall McLuhan 
 (which forms an important part of his lecture series) -- derived, I 
suspect,  from his general distaste for the French and their once-upon-a-time 
fascination  with "Le McLuhanisme."  From what I can tell, the French never 
really read  McLuhan.  (Or, for that matter, since he incorrectly calls him a  
"determinist," has Barbrook.)
You mentioned Joseph Schumpter as a favorite of the neo-liberals.   
Perhaps.  But, if by that you mean the promotion of the "creative  destruction" 
meme in the 1990s, that is the work of George Gilder in Forbes and,  as best I 
can tell, he never read Schumpeter -- who was already expunged  from the 
curriculum when Gilder studied economics at Harvard.
Schumpeter's 1938 "Business Cycles," which is at the center of his  work on 
econometrics, is long OOP, other than a very expensive re-print --
If you don't understand these cycles (and, importantly, the subsequent work 
 on the topic), can you really say that you have read Schumpter?  George  
Gilder, today's popularizer of Schumpeter, insisted that the Dot Com bust was 
 the result of excessive "regulation."  Wrong!  If he had read and  
understood "Business Cycles," he could not (honestly) make that claim.
You also mentioned Kondratiev and his supposed "waves."  That is also  a 
fabrication.  The whole movement in finance to try to chart out these  waves 
appears to have been constructed without the benefit of reading Kondratiev  
-- who wrote in Russian and the translation of whose work into English didn't 
 happen until the 1990s. 
Yes, Schumpeter read him in German, so maybe some others did as well but  
what is attached to his name today has little to do with what he actually  
said -- which is true for Schumpeter as well as Kondratiev and  McLuhan.
Sloppy scholarship?  Sure.  Laziness?  Of course.  But  there is also a the 
drive to "invent" yourself and one of the easiest ways to  accomplish that 
is to take a "popular" figure and put them on as a *cloak* to  make yourself 
look erudite and, by association, worthy.  Apart from  ones own career, 
none of this is helpful -- if understanding the origins of the  present-day 
context is the goal.
Gregory Bateson is a fine case-in-point.  To the extent that anyone  knows 
the name, he is typically treated as a HERO and even a SAINT.  But  was he?  
I once had the head of the Communications Dept. a the New School  storm out 
of a lunch, knocking the table over in her hurry, because she was  so 
offended that I would question Bateson's legacy, on which she had written her  
PhD.  There is plenty to question.
Yes, Bateson and Mead and Lewin were all involved in aspects of what  
became the CIA, after being deeply involved in its predecessors during WW  II.  
But, once again, the urge to fictionalize takes over the  "story," since few 
seem to have bothered to sort out what the CIA was really up  to in the 
1950s.  Here, the whole MKULTRA narrative and LSD-as-a-weapon  story walks onto 
the stage.  But, when you look more closely, this  turns out to actually be 
a "cover-story" designed to fit in  with the Church Committee purge of the 
agency in the 1970s.  Spy vs.  Spy??
For example, Timothy Leary was a CIA "asset" from his days as a graduate  
student studying personality -- where "personality testing" had been a 
specialty  of the OSS.  Then there was Allen Ginsburg.  The counter-culture  had 
significant CIA roots.  As did the 60s anti-war movement (much of which  was 
organized by Trotskyists, who were a CIA "specialty").  But none of  that 
shows up in the popular narrative -- such as Marty Lee's "Acid Dreams," for  
which he consciously left out any details that didn't fit his Soros-inspired  
"legalization" storyline.
Social science -- all of it, economics, sociology, anthropology, psychology 
 and the various cross-breeds like linguistics and social psychology -- 
after WW  II was deeply implicated in a broad attempt to "engineer" society.  
Where  do you think Noam Chomsky came from?  Yes, the CIA was involved but 
the  "core" of the effort was co-ordinated by the BIG THREE foundations -- 
Ford,  Rockefeller and Carnegie.  Much interesting research on how the  
foundations worked is being done today.
For instance, take a look at Manchaster Prof. Inderjeet Parmar's 2012  
"Foundations of the American Century" -- 
The "original" volume on how much of this worked in the social sciences is  
probably Chris Simpson's 1996 "Science of Coercion" -- 
What Simpson wrote could be (and maybe has been) done for anthropology and  
"Area Studies" as well as all the other social sciences.  Following the  
Vietnam war, the Pentagon's ARPA was reined in and many of these projects were 
 defunded -- leading to the addition of a "D" in the agency's name and a 
major  upheaval in US academia.  Then, under Clinton, the "dual-use" 
orientation  (i.e. funding social science for "non-combatant" purposes) resumed.
When an anthropologist shows up in the Arctic (like Ted Carpenter did in  
Cold War Dew Line territory) or in South Africa (like Keith Hart has today), 
it  is quite reasonable to ask where these people stand in relation to this 
history  and, of course, who's paying the bills.  "Radical" pronouncements  
don't "absolve" anyone, since that was exactly what the "CIA" was doing.   
Building a "better world" has long been the preferred *hideout* for  
power-hungry scoundrels.  Ask them questions.  See how they  respond.
No need to listen to me -- although my past posts offer many  guideposts.  
Just do the homework -- *without* a pre-determined "storyline"  and 
*without* the urge to identify the "good guys" and the "bad guys."
Start flipping over rocks and see what you find -- while trying to  
understand (and even sympathize with) what these people were doing and why they  
were so deeply motivated to "change the world."  Then, take a good look in  
the mirror . . . !!
Mark Stahlman
Brooklyn NY

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime>  is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: http://mx.kein.org/mailman/listinfo/nettime-l
#  archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime {AT} kein.org