“A Government of Death”

Globalisation. “A rising tide lifts all boats.” It was always a lie — a propagandistic slogan only — from the outset, for even its proponents described it in terms of “creative destruction”. There would be “winners” and “losers”. But in public, they overplayed the “creative” and downplayed the “destruction” bit, and they did so in the context of an “age of diminishing expectations” as Christopher Lasch called the period.


“Neo-liberal globalisation” isn’t, actually, the most accurate term for this process. “Globalised neo-liberalism” is the more accurate term. “Globalisation” is actually the creative aspect of this process. Neo-liberalism is the destructive aspect.  But these two processes — one creative and integrative, one destructive and nihilistic — have become conflated as the meaning of “globalism” itself.


I was reminded of this after reading, in today’s Guardian, an appeal to the world issued by the Munduruku people of the Brazilian Amazon — “A government of death is plundering our ancient Mundruku lands. Help us stop it.” But “the government of death” isn’t actually even the main culprit here, for even government has, everywhere, become merely the auxilliary and handmaiden of Lewis Mumford’s Megamachine, for which “globalised neo-liberalism” is simply the standard-bearer. What Mumford (or Roszak equally) referred to as the “Anti-Life” characteristics of the Megamachine is what is precisely involved in this struggle for the Amazon.


If the Megamachine destroys peoples, vital habitats, and older ways of life…. well, that’s tragic and a pity, but, after all, “you can’t stop progress” and, besides, “a rising tide lifts all boats” and these last outposts of “savagery” have to join the modern age, even though nobody really knows what “modern age” really means any longer. (“We have never been modern” writes the Frenchman Bruno Latour — plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. Wrong says Zigmunt Bauman, we’re simply now in “Liquid Modernity“. Wrong on both counts, say the post-modernists. It’s “the End of the Grand Narrative” and the onset of “post-everything”. Is the Modern Age a solid, a liquid, or a gas? That seems to be the contested issue here).


The Megamachine, though, is treated as though it were a force of nature itself — like the shark that must keep swimming and eating, or die. Certainly for the Munduruku the Megamachine has the face of death and not of life. And as much as the minions of the Megamachine might regret the destruction of older peoples and habitats… well, all this talk about spirits and gods of the land, rivers, and forests was all just superstitious and irrational anyway. A mightier god is our Megamachine, who wields the sword of Inevitability. None can stand against him. No one has stood against him. After all, we’re “doing God’s work”, as the CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, famously insisted (and he’s not the only one who really believes that). That “God”, however, is clearly the Megamachine and is just as clearly Blake’s “Urizen”.


The struggle of the Amazon and the Amazonians with the Megmachine is an object lesson in the merits of Mumford’s analysis of the “miscarriages of megatechnics”. as well as an object lesson in the merits of Gebser’s history of the conflict of consciousness structures.


But, as Rumi puts it, “the cure for the disease is in the disease”. Globalism is the cure for globalisation, which might seem a bit paradoxical, but the Munduruku are evidently quite adept at using the instruments of globalisation — the network — to appeal to the rest of humanity for aid and allies against the Megamachine. Their tragedy — perhaps also ours — is not seeing that “the government of death” is the face of the global megamachine, and not that of Brazil’s alone. All governments have become subservient to “the Global Minotaur“, as former Greek finance minster Yanis Varoufakis called Mumford’s Megamachine. Varoufakis should know. The Greek Syriza government he represented, elected to defy and resist the Megamachine and the Global Minotaur, finally surrendered to it and now does the beasts bidding in Greece.


The fact is, no one knows really how to stop the Minotaur, the Megamachine, from devouring all life on Earth and turning the Earth and everything in it into an image of itself — an automaton. That’s behind Heidegger’s exasperation, too, in his confessing, not long after struggling with the question of the relation of the human to technics in The Question Concerning Technology, that “only a god can save us now”.


Amazon Watch is a group that documents the struggles of the Amazonians, works with the Amazonians, and campaigns globally on their behalf. It’s risky business since assassination of those who resist the Megamachine is pretty common in the Amazon, and even outside the Amazon, since there are plenty of minions of the Megamachine who work to have conservationists, ecologists, environmentalists, or even indigenous peoples branded as “terrorists” and “threats to civilisation”.


Gebser, of course, placed his hopes in the “integral consciousness” to defeat, subdue, or master the Megamachine. Heidegger’s “god” is Gebser’s “diaphainon“, so in an ironic sense Heidegger was right that “only a god can save us now”. And I really do think also that William Blake, in his mythology of the four Zoas, provided us with a map for how to subdue Urizen — the god of the Megamachine.


Jeffry Gilbert Added May 16, 2017 - 7:07am
Government Is Like Fire, a Dangerous Servant and a Fearful Master - George Washington
Jeffry Gilbert Added May 16, 2017 - 7:08am
Henry Bowman's solution seems to be the best going forward. That's just me, I could be wrong 
Scott Preston Added May 16, 2017 - 7:35am
Who is Henry Bowman?
"A Government of Death" is a cross post from my blog The Chrysalis. A lot of the references here to Urizen, the Megamachine, the Global Minotaur (who is simply the old god Moloch) might seem a bit obscure without the context of The Chrysalis. But, I will respond to questions about the fuzzy bits if anyone finds these too opaque or mysterious.
Dino Manalis Added May 16, 2017 - 8:15am
Globalization expands growth; jobs; and keeps inflation under control.  Trade is pro-growth and creates jobs, but we have to be ready for competition, with low corporate taxes; more worker retraining; and constant research and development of better products and services without stopping development in developing countries.  Trump says he's both a nationalist and a globalist, America first in conjunction with our friends and allies around the world.  We can't isolate ourselves from the rest of the world!
Jeff Jackson Added May 16, 2017 - 1:15pm
The East India Company started in 1600 with merchants from London trading tea from East India. The Dutch East India Company started in 1602, with traders from Holland. We’ve been a global economy for over 400 years, nothing close to a recent phenomenon. Before, we just shipped tea and herbs from the colonies, but now the information on how to produce things  moves from continent to continent with the speed of an electronic signal. They figured out how to make things. Markets react with amazing speed, mostly because of the electrical signals that go from one side of the world to another in the blink of an eye.  
The paper economy, where things of value were represented by paper moved things along, and now electronic signals have replaced paper. The global market has been here. It is the technology that has accelerated the speed of change.
Scott Preston Added May 16, 2017 - 2:02pm
@dinoManalis: the kind of growth you are describing is called "cancer". Infinite growth on a finite planet is not realistic. In fact, since the great Market Meltdown of 2008, world economic growth has contracted so that, in effect, we are in an age of "diminishing expectations" that is leading to political and social unrest everywhere.
Today, much of the world is turning to China to "kickstart" globalisation again, and with China's announcement of its massive 900 bn "Belt and Road" (or new "Silk Road") infrastructure project, should that even proceed, in future all roads will lead to Beijing, and not Rome, or London, or Washington. The 2008 contraction (courtesy of "deregulation") has, ironically, led to a massive shift in the momentum of globalisation eastwards. But whether even that is finally sustainable or not is doubtful.
Scott Preston Added May 16, 2017 - 2:20pm
@JeffJackson. The classical liberal idea of utopia (expressly formulated by Tom Paine) was "the universal civilisation of commerce" -- a true world economy, and it is a very old idea. "Neo-liberalism" is just its recent utopian revival and resurrection. However, there is a difference between then and now, one that was highlighted by Karl Polyani's great book "The Great Transformation". Then the so-called "free market" was embedded within society. Now, the relationship has been reversed, and society has become embedded in the "universal market" (otherwise known as "the commodification of everything"). That great reversal between society and market is what led Thatcher to declared "There is no such thing as society". Society, which is a human construct, has been replaced by System, which is a technocratic construct. Hence politics gives way to "politainment", but is effectively impotent to do anything about steering the Megamachine. This displacement of Society by System reflects Crane Brinton's succinct definition of modernity: "the invention of a system for creating systems". But then, it was Nietzsche who countered that "the will to a system is a lack of integrity". In other words, there is a world of difference between a mere Totality and a Whole, and although these terms "totality" and "whole" are treated as virtual synonyms, the former pertains to words meaning "death" (German "tot") while "whole" pertains to words signifying life. The fact that these exact opposites are now treated as synonyms for one another is very revealing.
John G Added May 16, 2017 - 2:41pm
Neoliberalism is predatory finance capitalism on steroids. It has certainly killed off what little democracy our grandparents demanded post WW2.
It has infected the body politic of the western world with its myths and deceptions.
If we had no power to kill it after the crash of 2007/08 I don't think we ever will.
George N Romey Added May 17, 2017 - 6:54am
When globalism turns into a race to the bottom, which is what has happened, the world at large doesn't win.  Large MNCs, the financial system of Wall Street and London, and greedy plutocrats prosper indeed.
Billy Roper Added May 17, 2017 - 12:02pm
Globalism is failing. Instead, the future is balkanization of multiracial countries into more homogeneous ethnostates.
Scott Preston Added May 17, 2017 - 12:33pm
The net effect of Margaret Thatcher's TINA principle ("There is No Alternative") and her declaration of post-social civilisation ("There is no such thing as society"), under the misguided impress of neo-liberal economists like Hayek and Milton Friedman ("Chicago School") and seconded by Francis Fukuyama's "end of history" screed later, was this: government effectively ceased to be accountable to the people or the servant of the people and became, instead, the servant of the Megamachine -- the "universal market mechanism" as it is also called. In consequence of this surrender of responsibility, politics gave way to mere "politainment", and show business conquered reality. This is the "New Normal" in a nutshell.
However, the self-contradictions of the neo-liberal project ensure that it would eventually become self-devouring and self-defeating (as anticipated by Nietzsche as part of his "two centuries of nihilism"). Hayek and Friedman, despite their glorification of "free trade" and the "free market", concluded that monopolies of power should be allowed as the reward for economic and market efficiency!! Hence, you get, as a result "illiberal liberalism". Neo-liberalism ultimately negates itself and self-destructs on this very conclusion. This is the meaning of the "New Normal" (or "hypernormalisation" also) -- normalisation of the self-contradiction as double-standard, double-think, double-talk, and ultimately double-bind.
Patrick Writes Added May 17, 2017 - 8:31pm
George nailed it. Globalism has become a race to the bottom in all things (currency, pay, regulations, etc...). Whichever country has the lowest gets the investment and the new jobs.  
Fernando Alcoforado Added May 17, 2017 - 10:08pm
Scott Preston, congratulations on your wonderful article where you say that the Globalization was always a lie - a propaganda slogan only - from the very beginning, for even its proponents described it in terms of "creative destruction." There would be "winners" and "losers". But in public, they overestimated the "creative" and downplayed "destruction."
You affirm and I agree that "neoliberal globalization" is not, in fact, the most accurate term for this process. "Globalized neoliberalism" is the most accurate term. "Globalization" is actually the creative aspect of this process. Neoliberalism is the destructive aspect. But these two processes - a creative and integrative, a destructive and nihilistic - have become confused as the meaning of "globalism" itself.
You refer to Zigmunt Bauman who said we are just now in Liquid Modernity. It is the "end of the grand narrative" and the beginning of "post-everything". You ask whether the modern era is a solid, a liquid or a gas? This seems to be the contested issue for you here.
You find that no one really knows how to prevent the Minotaur, the Megamachine, from devouring all life on Earth and transforming the Earth and everything in it into an image of itself - an automaton. You state that this is behind Heidegger's exasperation, too, in his confession, not long after dealing with the question of the human being's relationship with technique in The Question Concerning Technology, that "only a god can save us now" .
Scott Preston Added May 17, 2017 - 10:16pm
@Fernando. Thanks, Fernando. That's a very astute and well-articulated summary of the chief points of the article.
Autumn Cote Added May 18, 2017 - 11:11am
Please note, the second best way to draw more attention to your work is to comment on the work of others. I know this to be true because if you do, I'll do everything in my power to draw more attention to your articles.
PS - There is a lot I can do and would like to do on your behalf. For example, this article was written by an author deserved of some feedback.
Scott Preston Added May 18, 2017 - 12:38pm
We're at the turning of the tide, it seems, and how bloody ironic it is. Today, the UK Conservative party issued its policy programme that is a fundamental repudiation of Thatcherism and neo-liberalism -- a stunning about face it is. It would be like Republicans repudiating Reagan and Reaganism in the US (or perhaps Trump concluding that Bernie Sanders was right all along).
Utpal Patel Added May 18, 2017 - 2:27pm
Defined…globalization is the process by which businesses or other organizations develop international influence or start operating on an international scale.  As you can see, there is nothing about a rising tide in that definition.  What’s so terrible about a business selling it’ products and services outside of the country in which it was founded?  Would the world somehow be a better place if only Americans could have Iphones and only the French could drink champagne? 
As it relates to the economics of a rising tide, generally speaking what would be a better for the poor, a strong economy or a weak economy?  If you answered strong, than you agree that a rising tide lifts all boats…metaphorically. 
Thomas Sutrina Added May 18, 2017 - 5:34pm
So what is the population of the planet 10000 yrs BC, at the time of Christ, 10000, and today?  Yes it has increased between each.  Does not sound like death to me.   The Book "Guns, Germs, and Steel" by Diamond tells us that that man has been one of the biggest enemy of man by the use of these three things.   Slavery is as old as human civilization as is war.  Germs on this list is the only thing that man has had little control over until recently.  Man has raised the tide for all other men is easily seen in the population growth, but that is an average effect but not a personal effect.  Isis shows that man is also deep charge man.  
Actually civilization when taken as the nature of man raises the tide for all.  Adam Smith and John Locke observations show that man left to his own acts will always choose to better his own condition.  And that conflict is risky and may actually harm one self.  So they follow law to reduce risk.   Only when man acting together where the risk of harm is spread out and thus appears to be less.  (like purchasing a lottery ticket because the individual loss is minimal and the gain is so huge that even knowing that the minimal loss is the normal outcome one will take this insignificant risk.)   War effect a few percent of the population of a country but the whole country gains greatly from winning so government chooses to start the war.  
Scott Preston Added May 18, 2017 - 7:48pm
@UtpalPatel @ThomasSutrina: Classical liberal economic theory, which lies at the basis of your expressed beliefs here,  held as its utopian ideal "the universal civilisation of commerce" to be realised through universalisation of the "market mechanism". The fuel for the Universal Market Mechanism (we'll call that the UMM for short) was "the pursuit of rational self-interest" or infinitisation of desire  (basis for the "pursuit of happiness" as conceived by Adam Smith in his Parable of the Poor Man's Son). And actually, Smith recognised this "pursuit of happiness" as a "necessary illusion", since a constant state of malcontentment or dissatisfied life was necessary to drive economic growth.

This optimism of the liberal Enlightenment, represented by men like Smith, Paine, Locke, Bacon -- was best expressed by Condorcet, when he welcomed the new age of "the infinite perfectibility of man", apparently, in his own irrational exuberance, failing to see that "infinite and perfection" were contradictory, but it was in keeping with the need for "necessary illusions" (which we today call "fake news") to keep the economic system growing (and devouring).

Now, for one thing "rational" meant something different then than it does now, when by "ratio" was meant largely "measured", "moderate", "proportionate", and which informed the Enlightenment's sense of the meaning of "justice" and equitability. But for some time now, economic growth has not been "rational" at all, but is driven by "irrational exuberance" (bubbles) and "animal spirits" (greed, cupidity, and avarice, that is), and the purpose of commercial propaganda and advertising and political policy has been to arouse this "irrational exuberance" and "animal spirits". Hence we have "post-truth" and "post-rational" society.

 A fundamental irrationality of the whole system lies in Condorcet's celebrated belief in "the infinite perfectibility of man" thorugh pursuit of his "rational self-interest" overseen by the benevolent "mechanism" of the "Invisible Hand". The fact is, expecting infinite growth on a finite planet is completely irrational, and does not, in any respect, correspond to the meaning of "rational" as "measured", "moderate", or "proportionate".

 Secondly, the utopian ideals of classical liberal economics (resurrected as "neo-liberalism" and with all the old self-contradictions in tow, leading to double-think, double-standard, double-talk, and finally double-bind or predicament, or as Pope Francis put it "duplicity is the currency of the day") were bound to come to nought because the "market mechanism" ignored completely the universal laws of thermodynamics as regards energy. Growth requires energy, and the waste product of energy consumption (the process of entropy) is heat. The final "heat death of the universe" is something we seem to be rehearsing for now right here on our little planet Earth -- sixth extinction event, Climate Chaos, the so-called "Anthropocene", and so on. All because economic models ignore fundamental laws of thermodynamics.
Thomas Sutrina Added May 18, 2017 - 9:34pm
Scott P., "Guns, Germs, and Steel" by Diamond is not a description of Utopia.   I do not see pursuit of "rational self-interest" and that society is better off, "Invisible Hand," at all implying the expectation of infinite growth on a finite planet.   It does imply that in human terms the best use of the resources will happen, however; Smith did not address that some resources like air and water in much of the world have not intrinsic value and thus will be abused since it has no value in a trade.  
A very simple example is a game of card that has I finite count.  The players will act in their own rational self-interest.  The deck will be shuffled and the game will start over after the previous game is finished.  this is the effect of resources on earth being used over and over again but they are different each game.  The players do not act differently.
John G Added May 19, 2017 - 1:22am
Sutrina, you have never, ever read the Wealth of Nations. Quoting Adam Smith out of context exposes you as a buffoon. 
Adam Smith did not believe what you have been conditioned to believe.
Nor are his works particularly helpful in understanding modern economies.
Gerard Oosterman Added May 19, 2017 - 1:37am
It is going to be tricky. The doomsday clock is ticking away and stands at 11.57 before mid-night. It can still be averted but our obsession with economic growth cannot and should not continue in its present form.
The consequences of wealth increasingly ending up in fewer people doesn't bide well for our form of democracy. It is gone awry and out of joint. 
We will be lucky to get out alive.
John G Added May 19, 2017 - 2:00am
. The fact is, expecting infinite growth on a finite planet is completely irrational,
No it isn't.
John G Added May 19, 2017 - 2:09am
Growth requires energy
I can make a spreadsheet grow without much energy.
Scott Preston Added May 19, 2017 - 6:53am
@JohnG. Yes it is completely irrational. So irrational, in fact, that Nature had to invent something called death to make sure it doesn't happen, otherwise called "Nemesis". Expecting infinite growth on a finite planet is another form of "hubris".
Jeffry Gilbert Added May 19, 2017 - 7:58am
I like this writer. Welcome to WB Scott.
Thomas Sutrina Added May 19, 2017 - 8:27am
I agree with Scott John G..
Scott Preston Added May 19, 2017 - 8:30am
Truth to tell, I would prefer the term "planetisation" to "globalisation", since the latter term is now loaded down with too much ideological baggage, but basically has come to mean the universalisation of the "market mechanism". And that is something different from "planetisation" and the movement towards an authentic planetary culture/civilisation, which would require of human beings -- an integral consciousness and a universal history.
Planetisation is what, earlier, Nietzsche meant by his maxim: "Be true to the Earth!" But the Megamachine -- the Universal Market Mechanism of Infinite and Eternal Interest Rate Calculation which has commodified time as money  -- this is not "true to the Earth".
Thomas Sutrina Added May 19, 2017 - 8:56am
As an engineer I think in terms closer to Smith.  I can be an instrument where the invisible hand is improving society.  Switch the discussion the the ecology of a planet our planet and expand the examination period to what is infinite in human understanding, at least the vast majority of us.  And I have to sit back and ponder for a while.
Bill Kamps Added May 19, 2017 - 9:47am
Growth compounding at 3% is not possible indefinitely.  This growth assumption by governments is one reason pension funds are failing, and debt is growing too quickly.  Yes there are political issues as well, but look at most forecasts, we are always getting to the 3% growth  rate after a period of a few years.  This what the budgets are based on, and they will be wrong.
As one example.  The US makes about 14M cars a year, and most people in the country who want one, have one.  So cars are really at a replacement rate, we cant grow production at 3% per year, especially when cars last longer than they did 50 years ago. 
During 1900-1970, growth averaged 3% because lots of new things were invented that became necessities.  We had electric home appliances, cars, planes, etc.  People buying this stuff caused growth to be 3% for decades.  However, as more of the world has this stuff, growth is naturally less, especially on a compounded basis. A 3% growth rate means the economy doubles in under 25 years.  This is a doubling after inflation.  This is really not possible indefinitely.
Globalization is the enemy of high cost countries, and high cost producers.  However, it raises up the bottom.  People of the world are generally better off than 50 years ago, but not everyone.  Not the people who had relatively low value added jobs at high pay.  Not people with corrupt and ineffective governments.  Globalization is not fair, and never was intended to be fair.  Capitalism is not about being fair to the individual, it is about producing more at lower cost. 
Capitalism is not failing, it is just that our goals may no longer be aligned with what capitalism delivers.  However, we need to be careful what we wish  for, because every other system we have tried so far is worse, like state planned economies of various kinds.  It doesnt mean a better one doesnt exist, just that we havent seen it work yet.  Making things worse is easy, making things better is tricky.
Scott Preston Added May 19, 2017 - 10:36am
The decline of the political hegemony of Big Oil over the destiny of society and the globe parallels not just rates of depletion of easily accessible fossil fuels (ie "Peak Oil") but the end of the Industrial Era. The ascendancy of "Big Data", with the shift to the so-called "Technotronic Era" (or "Tech Revolution") is now becoming the chief concern. Big Data reflects the centrality of the computer and the theme of "network" (rather than "clockwork"), and the shift from the "Clockwork Universe" cosmology to the notion of "Holographic Universe" (or the Cosmos as being itself a "Simulation"). 
It's a moot point, really, whether ceasing to be the proverbial "cog in the machine" and becoming, rather, a "node in the network" is much of an improvement in the human condition, and whether the shift from Clockwork metaphor to Computer metaphor (or the "Global Brain") or paradigm for the reorganisation of cosmology, thinking, and consciousness is really a "progression".
The waning of the Industrial Era also reflects the growing obsolescence of the Newtonian-Cartesian worldview and paradigm, which is the context in which classical economic theory and praxis was developed, articulated, applied, and has evolved. Quantum cosmology and reality is a quite different creature, and what kind of consciousness, thinking, and (inevitably) economic theory and praxis will emerge from Quantum cosmology remains an open question, still. But it will change, and so will the notion of what is "truth", "logic", "human nature", and, in consequence,"economy" (and ecology).
The present attempt to hybridise the internal combustion engine with the computer (a kind of hybrid cyborgianism in itself) itself reflects the absurd situation of trying to reconcile the logic of an already obsolete Clockwork Universe with the fluid reality of Quantum Reality -- as such, what is called "chaotic transition".
But whether "Big Data" represents any kind of "progress" over "Big Oil", considered in human terms (and not just technocratic ones and interests) -- this remains to be seen.
Bill Kamps Added May 19, 2017 - 10:52am
Scott, the "node in the network" is somewhat an improvement over the "cog in the machine" though where it will ultimately lead we dont know.  Certainly working conditions are better than 100 years ago, especially given the flexibility that the network provides.  I can do my job from anywhere in the world, and still be connected to my peers, I dont have to go to an uncomfortable factory to do my job. This was not possible 30-40 years ago.  Many of us are no longer controlled by the clock as you say.  That is an improvement for those of us able to take advantage of it, which is not everyone of course. It is also an improvement for those of us with the discipline to disconnect from the network, which increasingly seems difficult for people to do.
We will still need transportation, but it is interesting that you say that combining the old and the new into self driving cars is absurd.  It probably is from a philosophical point of view, but from a pragmatic point of view it is a natural progression.  Self driving trucks, and cars will likely be safer and more convenient than human driving ones.  Of course this will make global growth that much slower, since we wont each need a car, we will just hire one in a combination of an Uber like service with the self driving car.
Predicting how the economy will be even 50 years from now is difficult, because who in 1905 could have predicted that 55 years later jet plane travel would be becoming common place, when the plane hadnt even been invented yet.
Scott Preston Added May 19, 2017 - 11:00am
If I might put all of this into the proverbial "nutshell"...
The chief concern of the Modern Era was with System. The best definition of modernity was Crane Brinton's: "the invention of a system for creating systems" -- that is, an ensemble or totality of technics or techniques, based upon an interpretation of reality as being a "ratio" (or pyramid like structure) of the three dimensions of space. "System" was the coordination of those three spaces in dialectics: the systematic logic of thesis-antithesis-synthesis corresponds to the systematic structuration of three dimensional reality as length, width, and depth, also called "perspectivist consciousness". This is the structure of the pyramid on the Great Seal of the United States -- symbol of the European Enlightenment that emphasises "the point of view" consciousness (and thus, the centrality of "self-interest"). The pyramid surmounted by the "all-seeing eye" is the form of modernity's structure of consciousness as "perspectival" and as dialectical rationality.
Since Einstein's unification of space and time -- and the introduction of time as the "fourth dimension" -- the metaphor of "System" has started to give way to the notion of "Field" -- especially the Quantum Field. Field and System are quite distinct matters, the former is holistic in a way the latter is not. This was Nietzsche's basic objection to "modern ideas" when he wrote that "the will to a System is a lack of integrity". A System is a mere aggregation or Totality, while a Whole is an Integrality. For this reason, assimilation and integration, although falsely treated as synonyms for each other, are actually contradictions. Assimilation means "to make the same", but integration means "to heal" or "make whole". The System aims for "assimilation" (or a Totality), but the Field aims for "integration" or the whole (an Integrity).
John G Added May 19, 2017 - 4:19pm
Scott Preston Added May 19, 2017 - 6:53am
You are assuming that economic growth can only occur concurrently with natural resource depletion.
That is not a rational assumption given that money is virtual and infinite.
Sometimes 'common sense' can lead you astray.
Scott Preston Added May 19, 2017 - 6:56pm
Money is a bubble, completely abstract since it was removed from the gold standard, and therefore called "fiat currency" as opposed to "representative currency". Since it is no longer backed by something real -- ie, gold -- it has become not only completely abstract, but itself commodified, giving rise to currency speculators and the "casino economy".
So, where does money get its standard of value if it is not linked to some real world substance like gold (although some have spoken of a "petro-dollar"), or a simple promissary note, as debt money, issued against some future prospect of wealth not yet realised as wealth (called "mortgaging the future"). 
Since money has no intrinsic value whatsoever, but derives its value purely from credulity ("credit" meaning, "he believes") it is abstract. In those terms, money has a limit called "incredulity" -- economic collapse may make money worthless, and there are plenty of currencies (like the Confederate States) whose money became worthless because it lost credibility.
The word "infinite" means, essentially, formless, since it is the contrary of both the "finite" and the "de-finite". Money is called "specie" (which means, in Latin, "form"). And I think in suggesting the money is "infinite" (or potentially infinite) you are confusing money with number, or mathematics, precisely because money has become abstract. But that is the meaning of a "bubble".
John G Added May 19, 2017 - 8:52pm
Since money has no intrinsic value whatsoever, but derives its value purely from credulity ("credit" meaning, "he believes") it is abstract.
The demand for the state currency is driven by taxation. You can create your own money if you like but getting people to accept it is a different proposition. If everybody has to pay their taxes in state currency then it will be accepted.
Money has always been mathematics. It is a big spreadsheet of debits and credits. Limiting its creation to the availability of a shiny metal doesn't change that. It's just an arbitrary, unnecessary limit that puts the owners of gold in charge.
btw "Credulity" is not interchangeable with "credibility". The meanings are quite different.
Scott Preston Added May 19, 2017 - 9:12pm
Whenever people these days make the distinction between the "real economy" and the "virtual economy" (as if never the twain shall meet), I'm reminded of HG Wells' dystopian novel The Time Machine, where, in future, the human race has mutated into two distinct species -- the Morlocks and the Eloi, where the Eloi serve as the principal source of protein for the Morlocks.
But, in those respects, it's not difficult to see where this bifurcation of "real" and "virtual" comes from -- Cartesian mind-body metaphysical dualism, while the "virtual economy" evolves into the Brave New World of Rolf Jensen's "The Dream Society". It's not difficult to see that the real economy and the virtual economy are outgrowths of the mutual estrangement of body and mind that afflicts Cartesian dualism, while the virtual economy now even wants to get rid of physicality, the body, "meat" completely in "post-humanism" or "transhumanism". Rene Descartes' schizophrenia lies behind it. 
John G Added May 19, 2017 - 9:36pm
I never mentioned any 'virtual economy'.
Scott Preston Added May 19, 2017 - 10:12pm
<blockquote>I never mentioned any 'virtual economy'.  </blockquote>
<blockquote>That is not a rational assumption given that money is virtual and infinite.<blockquote>
I'm not sure how you reconcile these two statements,then, since before the virtual economy no one thought of money as "virtual and infinite". Symbolic, yes, but "virtual", no. But, of course, there was always those, too, who thought money had some kind of inherent virtue, charism or mana, which is called "the money fetish".
I see that global world debt now stands at 325% of global GDP, or 275 Trillion dollars. Any growth that has occurred in the global economy since the Great Market Meltdown has been largely debt driven, which is not a good sign. But that debt seems to call into doubt your notion that money is infinite, since most loans of money, even on such a scale, demand something quire real in return as a form of collateral as insurance against default -- you know, real physical stuff... even in the form of taxation, since the bulk of taxes as general revenue comes from people making real stuff that relies on resource inputs which, themselves, aren't infinite.
Ergo, infinite growth (of consumption, of population, of expectations) atop a finite resource base is irrational, which is why Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk want to start shooting people into space. All in all, a problem of "too clever by half", as the old saying goes, which means, of course, the old problem of hubris followed by Nemesis.
Scott Preston Added May 19, 2017 - 10:13pm
Hmmm. I see standard HTML tags don't work on this site.
John G Added May 19, 2017 - 11:01pm
I'm not sure how you reconcile these two statements
The two statements mean different things. I don't need to reconcile them. You need to comprehend that money is not a resource. It is created by accounting.
If and when you do comprehend the reality, you'll understand why the rest of your stream of consciousness above is meaningless.
Money is debt. Money is credit. Get over it.
But understand that government debt for currency issuers is not the same as private debt.
Utpal Patel Added May 20, 2017 - 6:09am
Just an FYI, your respond to Thomas and me didn't address my comment to you in the slightest.  
Scott Preston Added May 20, 2017 - 9:38am
"Time is money". "Time is of the essence". So says the conventional wisdom, and the common (all-too common) sense. It is, of course, total nonsense, part of the Great Bubble of Perception (otherwise called "Maya"). Any facticity that exists in such statements is there only because we made it that way, especially since the reconstruction of the cosmos as the Clockwork Universe and the assignment of economic and numeric value to quite unnatural units of time as seconds, minutes, hours and the measurement of time in terms currency circulation ("velocity of money") and economic activity. "Debt clocks" are there to remind us that "time is money".
We like to think we have "all the time in the world" even though in real world terms time is defined as "the measure of entropy" -- what we call aging, decay, death. "Time" is the very meaning of the word "secular" -- novo ordo saeclorum: "a new order of the times" (or "generations", although "generation" amounts to the same thing). That presents a certain problem for the belief that "time is money" and that "time is of the essence" since, in real world terms, everything is in the process of passing away (Buddhist law of "impermanence"). But since time is a measure of entropy (or the process of aging and death), and entropy has to do with energetics and the transformations of energy, time must have something to do with the flux of energy and its various transformations -- formation, reformation, deformation, transformation as temporal processes, or processes we refer to as "rise and fall". The idea of "time as money" is certainly absurd to peoples who don't have a money economy. The monetisation of time they call "the White Man's Dreaming" although it's certainly not restricted to the human being of the European type. Quite so. Philosophers and mathematicians still today argue whether "number" actually exists in Nature (and "real" in those terms) or only in the mind (and therefore abstract and abstraction), even though Nature has an "uncanny" way of communicating via mathematics.
It's only "post-historic man" -- the "organisation man" -- the man without historical consciousness -- who believes he's taken flight from the limits and constraints -- the finitudes -- of time and physical reality. Money is not simply numbers in a spreadsheet. That's silly reductionism. Money acquires value only as "exchange value" (and it is also subject to devaluation when the money supply becomes too great, subject also to the laws of supply and demand since its commodification). A "market", as a place of exchange, only comes into being when people meet as buyer and seller, or producer and consumer, and this market ceases to exist whenever people cease to relate to one another only as buyer and seller or producer and consumer.
"Economism" is the attempt to monetise and marketise all human relations as relations of commercial exchange, or what is being referred to as "the commodification of everything", the idea being that the "Universal Market Mechanism" is the permanent matrix of our being -- that in which we now live, move, and have our being (as used to be said of the omnipresent God). That is "the Megamachine" as Mumford describes it. Such reductionism (which is the twin of fundamentalism) pretty much. That which began the process called "Modern Era" or "Age of Reason" in Reformation and Renaissance some 500 years ago has ended, finally, in the exhaustion of their original inspirations, in the decadence of fundamentalism and reductionism.
Scott Preston Added May 20, 2017 - 11:53am
I might point out that a younger generation of economists is already pretty much in open revolt against the orthodox and abstract "standard model" of economics, largely because it failed completely to predict real world processes that led to the Great Market Meltdown of 2008. The orthodox economists of the standard model were caught completely flat-footed by the financial maelstrom, and has since could think of nothing better than "too big to fail", restoring the status quo. And so it plods on without a rethink of the premises, precisely what is called "zombie logic" and the "zombie economy".
The failure of the standard models, and the fact that the orthodoxy was blinkered by its own abstract models, was entirely owing to the fact that the laws of dynamics are not included in the more or less static abstractions. This failure of the intellect has its roots in a long history of ideas, but goes back as far as the philosophical conflict between the Greek philosophers Parmenides (the philosopher of Being or statics) and Heraclitus (the philosopher of becoming or dynamics). Parmenides has basically ruled the roost for some 2500 years (It was Parmenides who first said "thinking and being are the same" before Descartes came up with his "I think, therefore I am"). For Heraclitus, the philosopher of becoming, the energetic flux, and "the Logos", this equation of thinking and being was just nonsense.
Heraclitus has been described as "the Greek Buddha", and that's pretty accurate.
Some new economists (such as the late Peter Pogany) are attempting to include laws of dynamics in their rethink of the standard models. The emergent fields of Chaos Theory and Complexity Theory (much of which influences Climate Science) offer new paradigms for a complete rethink of economics in terms of dynamics -- how order emerges from chaos, or, vice versa, chaos emerges from order -- the process called "enantiodromia" or what we describe as "reversal of fortune" or "ironic reversal", and idea credited to Heraclitus, in fact. Enantiodromia describes a sudden alteration or reversal of the polarity of a dynamic -- processes turn into their opposite or become inverted -- also known as "unintended consequence", "perverse outcome", "blowback", "revenge effect" and so on. Enantiodromia describes a real world process, known in other contexts as the karmic law of action and reaction, and Heraclitus's understanding of that dynamic of sudden reversal (the paradoxical) is what led to comparisons of him with the Buddha. Enantiodromia was also revived by the psychologist Carl Jung to describe "coincidence of opposites" in psychology.
Enantiodromia also represents the breakdown of dialectical rationality, since thesis and anti-thesis become one and the same at the extremity of a dynamic -- the point of reversal or inversion of the polarity that was called "Nemesis". Like Nemesis, enantiodromia regulates processes that threaten to run away inducing a state called "far from equilibrium" (chaos) and the reversal attempts to restore a relative state of equilibrium. Enantiodromia or "reversal of fortune" corresponds to the state, then, called "chaotic transition".
Which we are in "Peak Everything" as Richard Heinberg has called it or "post-Enlightenment", "post-truth", "post-rational", "post-modern" and so on. With enantiodromia, processes turn into their opposite, their own contradiction, and this induces great perplexity and confusion to the dialectical mode of reason and consciousness.
There are so many historical and present-day examples of this, that it is amazing it has been ignored for so long. "Things that can't go on forever, don't", as someone remarked during the 2008 crash. That's what is called "enantiodromia" -- reversal at the limit or extremity which drives a energetic system back into a state of relative equilibrium or homeostasis.
John G Added May 20, 2017 - 5:32pm
Why don't you stick to the conversation instead? You're just filling the screen with drivel
What is 'the money supply'?
It is curious to me that you are talking about heterodox economists (presumably you believe as opposed to me, which is wrong) shortly after quoting bog standard Walrasian classical theory that was debunked in the 1930s by Keynes and others.
You appear to be confused in your own arrogance. 
Thomas Sutrina Added May 20, 2017 - 7:04pm
We do know that people did predict the 2008 melt down.  And this is not the first time a bubble made by speculation burst.  We can go back to about the 1400 and the tulip bulb bubble and burst.  These economist that predicted the 2008 bubble burst I thought were part of the community that believed in the "standard model" of economics.  Bernie Madoff, Michael R. Milken, Michael Andreas, Terrance Wilson and Mark Whitacre, Kenneth Lay, and Jeffrey Skilling are members of the "standard model" believers or rather charlatans.  But the actions of economist and members of the leadership society just protected their own  "too big to fail", restoring the status quo.  This has nothing to do to economics but has everything to do with politics.   Corruptions is well understood by the Greeks of old.
Scott Preston Added May 20, 2017 - 9:43pm
Well, as Max Planck said: science progresses funeral by funeral. Something substantially confirmed by Thomas Kuhn in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Once the brain gets hard-wired to perceive the world in a certain way, it's stuck with it till death do us part, unless some sudden influx of new energy ("the shock of the real", as it's called) short-circuits the wiring and allows a new Gestalt.
Do try to keep up boys! You're already living in the past tense. You know the word "metanoia" as in "metanoia from dead things"? It means "new mind", and that metanoia (a restructuration or mutation of consciousness such as happens occasionally in human history) is already happening. You just haven't glommed on to it yet.
If you want to know where science (including economic thinking) is headed, you should read Ilya Prigogine's great book Order Out of Chaos: Man's New Dialogue With Nature. Recommended reading for people still living in the past tense. Prigogine's not the only one, either, to notice the "metanoia" in process of emergence. David Bohm in physics, Rosenstock-Huessy in social philosophy, Jean Gebser in cultural studies, Peter Pogany or Karl Polyani in economics. "Paradigm shift" is simply too weak a term for this mutation. But are you prepared for this "metanoia" or not?
John G Added May 20, 2017 - 10:10pm
You've quoted Quantity Theory of Money, which was debunked over 80 years ago but accuse others of living in the past.
I'd also note that you may not be quite as erudite in language as you may think. To wit, you misused the word 'credulous' above where you were clearly meaning 'credible'.
Quoting a whole bunch of authors may impress the gullible but I'm still waiting for you to clarify what you mean by 'the money supply'.
All I've seen from you is a Gish Gallop with no substance.
Scott Preston Added May 20, 2017 - 10:22pm
Oh for God's sakes! Why don't you just show some initiative and google up the terms "money supply" to find out why your "infinite" money is total hooey.
Gerard Oosterman Added May 20, 2017 - 10:30pm
Beware of 'paradigms'.
Some time ago the Australian Governments urged voters to find 'new paradigms'. Boy oh boys, thousands went around shopping centres, parks and football stadiums to find those allusive 'new paradigms.'
I remember an old man sobbing on a park bench. I sat next to him and asked what was troubling him. He confessed to having lost his 'new paradigm.'
I gave him mine and this cheered him up. A day after, I found him in the same park, all happy. He was feeding the ducks.
John G Added May 20, 2017 - 10:42pm
What do YOU mean when you use the term 'money supply'?
It's a straight forward question directed at a specific comment you made.
Why the difficulty/evasion?
John G Added May 20, 2017 - 10:44pm
"infinite" money is total hooey.
Dollars, pounds etc are accounting identities i.e. mathematical units.
Do you know of a numerical system that is finite?
Do tell.
Scott Preston Added May 20, 2017 - 10:45pm
@Gerard: I didn't actually promote the term "paradigm". I used the term "metanoia".
"Paradigm" was a term used by Thomas Kuhn in the Structure of Scientific Revolutions. But the term has an interesting history, originally Greek -- para + digma -- to "sketch beside". The original "paradigm" was the classical layout of the persons and tenses of grammar: first, second, third persons singular in one column, and their supposed plural forms in the second column. This was the original "paradigm".
Interestingly, the "speech philosopher" Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy has insisted that the Alexandrian Greeks got it all wrong, and that there are not three, but four persons of grammar, and that "we" is not plural egos or "Is" but the collective or historical person of grammar. There are in those terms, four persons of grammar, and researches into "universal grammar" have pretty much born him out. There is no language that doesn't have at least a four-person system, Korean being the simplest with "You, I, We, He".
So, Rosenstock-Huessy (although he also uses the term "metanoia" or "the think anew") also proposes a new "paradigm" in the original and literal sense -- a four-person system of grammar rather than a three-person system. Most of his social philosophy and his "quadrilateral logic" follows from this shift from three to four.
Interestingly, Arthur I. Miller, the science historian, also wrote a book entitled "Deciphering the Cosmic Number: The Strange Friendship of Carl Jung and Wolfgang Pauli" (which was pretty strange), but most of the book is their quest for the new cosmic, basically "four", which is interesting because it brings to mind William Blake's "fourfold vision".
Scott Preston Added May 20, 2017 - 10:54pm
@JohnG: Dollars, pounds etc are accounting identities i.e. mathematical units. Do you know of a numerical system that is finite?
Do tell.  
You are dreadfully confused. Number is not money, although money may be number. They are not interchangeable or synonymous in those terms. Numbers flying about in cyberspace may or may not represent money. But they are hardly the same thing. Dollars and pounds are not just "mathematical units", they are called "specie", a word that means "forms". Their quantitative value as specie is not what they are inherently, but a function of what they are.
John G Added May 20, 2017 - 11:00pm
Nonsense. Specie represent currency. Currency is created by mathematics. Credits and debits.
Answer the question. What do YOU mean by 'the money supply'?
Scott Preston Added May 20, 2017 - 11:58pm
Answer the question. What do YOU mean by 'the money supply'?
Are you completely dissociated? What makes you think I have "my own private Idaho" definition of "money supply" when there already exists a perfectly serviceable consensus definition in economics, and very easily accessible by you on the internet, too. Why should my meaning deviate from that?
So, when it comes to "evasion" and deflection, it's all on your part, isn't it? The onus is actually on you to explain how your novel idea of  "virtual and infinite money" can be reconciled with the consensus definition of "the money supply", and why your novel idea is in such stark contradiction with the facts as understood by economists. Seems to me you put yourself in an embarrassing situation with your "infinite money" meme and are now trying to duck it.
Scott Preston Added May 21, 2017 - 12:38am
@JohnG: Hmmm. It just occurs to me... are you sure you don't mean "indefinite" rather than "infinite"? The indefinite is the undetermined. But "infinite", by definition, is the immeasurable, and applied to money that would be nonsensical. The money supply, at any particular time, though, can be indefinite, since its always only an approximation, since currencies are always changing value through deflation or inflation, or devaluation and so on -- growing or contracting (so called "tight money"). The global money supply in those terms, can be understated or overstated, and so "indefinite", but never infinite, otherwise its value could never be determined at all.
John G Added May 21, 2017 - 12:56am
You made an assertion above regarding 'dilution of the money supply'. There are many possible meanings of 'the money supply'. I want you to clarify your definition so that I can demolish your assertion in context.
There is no consensus regarding the term and any economist would clarify their meaning when using such a loose and variable term.
Maybe you just don't know what you are talking about, have made a bunch of assertions beyond your understanding and are now too invested to be able to admit your ignorance and back down.
Money is virtual. It is created out of thin air by the simultaneous creation of a credit and a debit. Thus there is no physical real world limit to its creation.
I have no time for 'consensus economics'. Aren't these the people you were decrying above? 
Mainstream economics is a deplorable hoax and its proponents are frauds, charlatans and sociopaths shilling for their ultra-rich paymasters.
I reject neoclassical and Austrian economics in their entirety. They are simply untrue. What I was taught at university about money and macroeconomics was a load of drivel with no application in the real world.
I can find text books used in Ivy League Universities' economics courses (written by Professors who are paid 6 figure salaries) that are demonstrably false.
Watch the movie Inside Job for a very mild critique of a few of these arseholes.
John G Added May 21, 2017 - 1:10am
No I do not mean indefinite. What is so hard to understand about fiat money?
There is no 'global money supply'. There are currency zones. Inflation and exchange rates are separate and rarely linked.
You're obsessed with this 'value' thing when you're talking about money which has no intrinsic value.
You need to free your mind of this stock, resource, material thing concept.
John G Added May 21, 2017 - 1:23am
One dollar is worth one dollar. The only certainty is that you can reduce your tax liability by one dollar by surrendering your dollar (your asset and the government's liability) to the government.
Get over it.
John G Added May 21, 2017 - 1:54am
Today, much of the world is turning to China to "kickstart" globalisation again, and with China's announcement of its massive 900 bn "Belt and Road" (or new "Silk Road") infrastructure project, should that even proceed, in future all roads will lead to Beijing, and not Rome, or London, or Washington. The 2008 contraction (courtesy of "deregulation") has, ironically, led to a massive shift in the momentum of globalisation eastwards. But whether even that is finally sustainable or not is doubtful.
I missed this comment the first time round.
The Silk Road project is not only proceeding, it is a reality. 
The western powers and their compliant media are ignoring it.
You are far behind the times Preston.
John G Added May 21, 2017 - 2:10am
Pick your perfectly serviceable consensus definition then, Chump.
Scott Preston Added May 21, 2017 - 10:30am
It has been claimed by some students of the "post-modern" or "post-Enlightenment" condition, that people become increasingly unable to discern between subjective reality and objective reality, and between their own "point-of-view" and the "world-at-large", and wander around in the Minotaur's labyrinth of their own mental confusion and disorientation. Hence "post-truth" and "post-rational" society. The Enlightenment ideal of hitting upon a true "universal way of looking at things" disintegrates, fragments and atomises into mere self-absorbed "points-of-view".
Some advertisers and brandmeisters are ecstatic about that, actually. It makes instilling "branded behaviours" for fun and profit that much easier (as, for example, Rolf Jensen's proposal for a "post-rational" The Dream Society: How the Coming Shift from Information to Imagination Will Transform Your Business). Jensen's self-absorbed and self-indulgent "Dream Society" is probably the logical conclusion and endgame of Christoper Lasch's earlier analysis of The Culture of Narcissism.
"Virtual and infinite money" is part of that confusion. "Infinite" can't even be represented by a number because it is, by definition, the immeasurable, the incomprehensible, the unvisualisable. Mathematicians, for that reason, represent it by the lemniscate which, like "zero", originally began life as a symbol from mysticism -- in this case, Hindu mysticism where "zero" symbolised the Infinite Void or No-Thing-ness -- the Great Nothingness or The Big Empty, which was the original meaning of the word kaos -- the Great Void or Abyss (chasm, as such, is related to chaos). The lemniscate also originated in mysticism as symbolising The Eternal Recurrence of Same, historically represented by the World Dragon or Serpent, the ancient ouroboros.
There is still a lot of magic and myth that comes disguised as being "rational" or "common sense" (including in economics), but it was these things that were repressed by the Age of Reason, or the mental structure of consciousness. They didn't go away just because of that (the words "consciousness" and "occult" were invented at the same time in the 16th century, and grew up together). The major theme of the 20th century (since Nietzsche, since Freud and Jung and others) was, in fact, "the return of the repressed", ie, the ancient  inheritance of magic and myth that is a legacy of our evolutionary autobiography. The problem of "post-historic man" and unconsciousness is connected with this repression in his psychic constitution of that legacy, but which continues to operate within him without his conscious knowledge as such. Nietzsche's anticipation of "two centuries of nihilism" (pretty much now the dynamic) is connected with the return of the repressed, and which is certainly one reason (if not the main reason) that dialectical rationality (which is perspectivist consciousness) is breaking down with this return of the repressed (cultural philosopher Jean Gebser calls this "irruption").
The return of the repressed is a fact (whether this was in terms of Stevenson's "Mr. Hyde", or Nietzsche's "Dionysian" eruption, or Yeats' ominous poem "The Second Coming", or Hardy's "Return of the Native") but which was afterwards represented in Freud as "the Id" or by Jung as "the Shadow", and it basically underlay Freud's "Psychopathology of Everyday Life". It is affecting everything, actually, including economics as "irrational exuberance" and "animal spirits". The repressed is simply that which remains unintegrated with the consciousness. The represented energies are not themselves pathological or sociopathological, only when they remain unintegrated with the consciousness structure do they assume destructive potency or assume "deficient mode". The word "enthusiasm" comes from "en-theos" -- to be possessed by a god (or a demon, for that matter). So does the word "desire", which means "down from the stars" -- the influence or "inflowing" of a god. So, the "return of the repressed" also brings with it problems of "identity", also manifesting as paranoia, superstition, conspiracy theory, and "the crisis of identity" (or "identity politics").
Economic and technical activity have not remained unaffected by the return of the repressed either. A lot of authors have pointed out today how much economic and technical activity is driven, not by rational goals, but by unconscious forces of myth and magic. Peter Sirk's Technology As Magic: The Triumph of the Irrational, Algis Mikunas's "Magic and Technological Culture", Robert Romanyshyn's Technology as Symptom & Dream, Lee Worth Bailey's The Enchantments of Technology, Joseph Campbell's various writings on the resurgence of the mythical. Freud's repressed libido, or psychic energy, is organised as a polarity, though -- as
John G Added May 21, 2017 - 8:55pm
What a clueless pompous wanker.