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Re: <nettime> Nobel laureate in economics aged 102 endorses the human ec
Brian Holmes on Mon, 28 Jan 2013 02:28:57 +0100 (CET)

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

[This was written several days ago, but seems to have gotten lost in a Martian time-slip.]

On 01/23/2013 09:05 AM, Newmedia {AT} aol.com wrote:

> There you go again! <g>  You really can't put an "ideology" on these
> developments, since they are not being driven by the *ideas* so much as
> by the technology.  Don't let your "morals" get in the way of your
> analysis.  Follow the technology!

But when you follow the technology, Mark, it leads to the questions of social reproduction and of government. These questions arise most powerfully at the moment of major structural crises, like the one that's happening today. That's what Carlota Perez thought:

“We propose that the capitalist system be seen as a single very complex structure, the sub-systems of which have different rates of change. For the sake of simplicity we can assume two main subsystems: on the one hand a techno-economic, and on the other a social and institutional, the first having a much faster rate of response... A structural crisis (ie the depression in a long wave), as distinct from an economic recession, would be the visible syndrome of a breakdown in the complementarity between the dynamics of the economic subsystem and the related dynamics of the socio-institutional framework."


According to Perez, it's only after the successful resolution of the institutional questions - concerning wages and livelihood, money and credit, government regulation and intervention, international trade regimes, etc - that a "techno-economic paradigm" can reach its mature phase and deploy all its potentials. Going further, one can say: the form of the institutional solution to a major structural crisis will determine how the potentials of a certain set of technologies will be expressed in actuality.

The reference-point for that kind of thinking is the 1930s crisis of the mass-production regime that had been emerging in the US and alos in Europe since the early 1900s. There were different attempts to find a "complementarity" between this production regime and the rest of social life. Their names were Communism, Fascism and New-Deal Democracy. Clearly the latter, which I think can properly be called an "ideology," was the most successful one. And so for better and worse, the mass-production system that gradually spread across the planet in the post-WWII period was articulated by variations on that ideology.

Today we have a new production regime, based on networked technologies. Actually it's not just technologies but also organizational forms, those business processes that Schumpeter was so interested in. In the wake of Manuel Castells, people tend to call this new production regime "informationalism." So far it has been "neoliberal informationalism" because it has been articulated according to an ideology that exalts competition, risk and individual excellence - an ideology that owes a lot to Schumpeter, by the way. But that neoliberal ideology does not work very well at all, it does not ensure health and prosperity, and so the techno-economic paradigm of informationalism has never found any sustainable "fit" with people's survival needs - neither in the US, Europe, China or anywhere else. The supply of easy credit masked the problem for a long time, but now that's over. So today there is a huge crisis, and what's at stake in this crisis is precisely the missing complementarity between technology and society that Perez has been talking about since the early 1980s, when the quote above was written.

The future may not belong to the moralists, but it definitely belongs to the ideologists!

best, Brian

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