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A new kind of economy is born: social decision-makers beat the “homo economicus”

from Dirk Helbing 

The Internet and Social Media change our way of decision-making. We are no longer the independent decision makers we used to be. Instead, we have become networked minds, social decision-makers, more than ever before. This has several fundamental implications. First of all, our economic theories must change, and second, our economic institutions must be adapted to support the social decision-maker, the “homo socialis”, rather than be tailored to the perfect egoist, known as “homo economicus”.

The financial, economic and public debt crisis has seriously damaged our trust in mainstream economic theory. Can it really offer an adequate description of economic reality? Laboratory experiments keep questioning one of the main pillars of economic theory, the “homo economicus”. They show that the perfectly self-regarding decision-maker is not the rule, but rather the exception [1,2]. And they show that markets, as they are organized today, are undermining ethical behavior [3].

Latest scientific results have shown that a “homo socialis” with other-regarding preferences will eventually result from the merciless forces of evolution, even if people optimize their utility, if offspring tend to stay close to their parents [4].[1] Another, independent study was recently summarized by the statement “evolution will punish you, if you’re selfish and mean” [5]. Is this really true? And what implications would this have for our economic theory and institutions?

In fact, the success of the human species as compared to others results mainly from its social nature. There is much evidence that evolution has created different incentive systems, not just one: besides the desire to possess (in order to survive in times of crises), this includes sexual satisfaction (to ensure reproduction), curiosity and creativity (to explore opportunities and risks), emotional satisfaction (based on empathy), and social recognition (reputation, power). Already Adam Smith noted: “How ever selfish man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it.”[2]

Dirk Helbing, professor of sociology at ETH Zurich and complexity scientist concludes: “The social nature of man has dramatic implications, both for economic theory and for the way we need to organize our economy.” As we are more and more connected with others, the “homo economicus”, i.e. the independent decision-maker and perfect egoist, is no longer an adequate representation or good approximation of human decision-makers. “Reality has changed. We are applying an outdated theory, and that’s what makes economic crises more severe,” says Helbing.

Outdated theory, outdated institutions

In fact, recent experimental results suggest that the majority of decision-makers are of the type of a “homo socials” with equity- or equality-oriented fairness preferences [1,6]. The “homo socialis” is characterized by two features: interdependent decision-making that takes into account the impact on others and conditional cooperativeness. However, the “homo socialis” takes self-determined, free decisions. He is not ripping off others, afterwards giving back some of the benefits to others through taxes or philanthropy. The “homo socialis” decides rather differently, more considerately, recognizing that friendly and fair behavior can generate better outcomes for everybody.

“But social behavior is vulnerable to exploitation by the ‘homo economicus’,” continues Helbing. In a selfish environment, the ‘homo socialis’ cannot thrive. In other words, if the settings are not right, the ‘homo socialis’ behaves the same as the ‘homo economicus’. “That’s probably why we haven’t noticed its existence for a long time,” believes Helbing. “Our theories and institutions were tailored to the ‘homo economicus’, not to the ‘homo socialis’.”

In fact, many of today’s institutions, such as homogeneous markets with anonymous exchange, undermine cooperation in social dilemma situations, i.e. situations in which cooperation would be favorable for everyone, but non-cooperative behavior promises additional benefits [7, Fig. 2].

New institutions for a global information society

In the past we have built public roads, parks and museums, schools, libraries, universities, and homogeneous markets on a global scale. What would be suitable institutions for the 21st century? “Reputation systems can transfer the success principles of social communities to our globalized society, the global village”, suggests Helbing. Most people and companies care about reputation. Therefore, reputation systems could support socially oriented decision-making and cooperation, with better outcomes for everyone [8]. In fact, reputation systems spread on the Web 2.0 like wildfire. People rate products, sellers, news, everything, be it at amazon, ebay, or trip adviser. We have become a “like it” generation, because we listen to what our friends like.

Importantly, recommender systems should not narrow down socio-diversity, as this is the basis of happiness, innovation and societal resilience. “We don’t want to live in a filter bubble, where we don’t get an objective picture of the world anymore,” says Helbing with reference to Eli Pariser [9]. Therefore, reputation systems should be pluralistic, open, and user-centric. “Pluralistic reputation systems are oriented at the values and quality criteria of individuals,” explains Helbing, “rather than recommending what a company’s reputation filter thinks is best. Self-determination of the user is central. We must be able to use different filters, choose the filters ourselves, and modify them.” The diverse filters would mine the ratings and comments that people leave on the Web, but also consider how much one trusts in certain information sources.

“Reputation creates benefits for buyers and sellers,” says Helbing. A recent study shows that good reputation allows sellers to take a higher price, while customers can expect a better service [10]. Reputation systems may also promote better quality as well as socially and environmentally friendly production, suggests Helbing. “This could be a new approach to reach more sustainable production, based on self-regulation rather than enforcement by laws.” One day, reputation systems may also be used to create a new kind of money, speculates Helbing. The value of “qualified money” would depend on it’s reputation and thereby create incentives to invest in ways that increase a money unit’s reputation. It might create a more adaptive financial system and help to mitigate the recurrent crises we are facing since hundreds of years. But the details still have to be worked out. 

Benefits of a self-regulating economy

Reputation systems could overcome some of the unwanted side effects of anonymous exchange thanks to pseudonymous or personal interactions. Thereby, they could potentially counter “tragedies of the commons” such as global warming, environmental exploitation and degradation, overfishing, … – constituting some of our major unsolved global problems. We can witness such kinds of “social dilemma problems” everywhere. So far, governments try to fix them with top-down regulations and punitive institutions. However, these are very expensive, and often quite ineffective. “Basically all industrialized countries suffer from exploding debts,” says Helbing. “I believe we cannot pay for this much longer, we are at the limit. We need a new approach.” As Albert Einstein pointed out: “We cannot solve our problems with the same kind of thinking that created them.”

Institutions supporting the “homo socialis” such as suitably designed reputation systems would enable a self-regulation of socio-economic systems. “But self-regulation does not mean that everyone can choose the rules he likes,” explains Helbing. “It only works with an other-regarding element. The self-regulation rules must be able to achieve a balance between the interests of everyone, who is affected by the externalities of a decision.”

Helbing explains the benefits: “Other-regarding decisions can overcome the classical conflict between economic and social motives. Self-regulation could also overcome the struggle between the bottom-up organization of markets and the top-down regulation by politics. This would remove a lot of friction from our current system, making it much more efficient – in the same way as the transition from centrally planned economies to self-organized markets has often created huge efficiency gains.”

This can be illustrated with an example from urban traffic management. “Traffic control is a problem where not everybody’s desires can be satisfied immediately and at the same time, like in economic systems. It is a so-called NP-hard optimization problem – the computational effort explodes with system size, as for many economic optimization problems, e.g. in production and logistics.” The study compares three kinds of control: A centralized top-down regulation by a traffic center, the classical control approach, and two decentralized control approaches. The first one assumes that each intersection independently minimizes the waiting times of approaching vehicles, as a “homo economicus” would do. The second one decides in an other-regarding way: it interrupts the minimization of waiting times, when this is needed to avoid spill-over effects at neighboring intersections. Helbing summarizes: “The ‘homo economicus’ approach works well up to a moderate utilization of intersections, but queue lengths get out of control long before the intersection capacity is reached. The bottom-up self-regulation based on the principle of the ‘homo socialis’ approach beats both, the centralized top-down regulation and the bottom-up self-organization based on principles of the ‘homo economicus’. Other-regarding behavior improves the coordination among neighboring intersections. It makes Adam Smith principle of the ‘invisible hand’ work even at high utilizations.”

Economics 2.0: Emergence of a participatory market society

But will such a self-regulating system ever be implemented? Helbing is convinced: “It’s already on its way. The Web 2.0, in particular reputation systems and social media are driving the transition towards a new economy, the economy 2.0. We see already a new trend towards decentralized, local production and personalized products, enabled by 3D printers, app stores, and other technologies.”

Such developments will eventually create a participatory market society. “Prosumers”, i.e. co-producing consumers, the new “makers” movement, and the sharing economy are some examples illustrating this. “Just think of the success of Wikipedia, Open Streetmap or Github. Open Streetmap now provides the most up-to-date maps of the world, thanks to more than 1 million volunteers.” Helbing stresses: “This is just the beginning of a new era. A new intellectual framework is emerging, and a creative and participatory era is ahead. The paradigm shift towards participatory bottom-up self-regulation may be bigger than the paradigm shift from a geocentric to a heliocentric worldview. If we build the right institutions for the information society of the 21st century, we will finally be able to mitigate some very old problems of humanity. ‘Tragedies of the commons’ are just one of them. After so many centuries, they are still plaguing us, but this needn’t be.” 

Further Reading:

[0] D. Helbing, Economics 2.0: The Natural step towards a self-regulating, participatory market society, Evolutionary and Institutional Economics Review (2013), see

https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/eier/10/1/10_3/_article and watch the video at

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHYxMHm4t6U or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ef2Ag_rwouo

[1] Henrich, J., R.Boyd, S. Bowles, C. Camerer, E. Fehr, H. Gintis, and R. McElreath, “In search of homo economicus: behavioral experiments in 15 small-scale societies,” Am. Econom. Rev. 91, 73-78 (2001).

[2] Murphy, R. O., K. A. Ackermann, and M. J. J. Handgraaf, “Measuring social value orientation,” Judgment and Decision Making 6(8), 771-781 (2011).

[3] Falk, A. and N. Szech, “Morals and Markets,” Science 340, 707-711 (2013).

[4] Grund, T., C. Waloszek, and D. Helbing, “How Natural Selection Can Create Both Self-and Other-Regarding Preferences, and Networked Minds,” Scientific Reports 3:1480 (2013), see

http://www.nature.com/srep/2013/130319/srep01480/full/srep01480.html

[5] Adami, C. and A. Hintze, “Evolutionary instability of zero-determinant strategies demonstrates that winning is not everything,” Nature Communications 4:2193 (2013); Evolution will punish you, if you’re selfish and mean, see

http://esciencenews.com/articles/2013/08/01/evolution.will.punish.you.if.youre.selfish.and.mean

[6] Berger, R., H. Rauhut, S. Prade, and D. Helbing, “Bargaining over waiting time in ultimatum game experiments,” Social Science Research 41, 372-379 (2012).

[7] Helbing, D. “Globally networked risks and how to respond,” Nature 497, 51-59 (2013).

[8] Milinski, M., D. Semmann, and H. J. Krambeck, “Reputation helps solve the tragedy of the commons,” Nature 415, 424-426 (2002).

[9] Pariser, E., Filter Bubble (Carl Hanser, 2012).

[10] Przepiorka, W., “Buyers pay for and sellers invest in a good reputation: More evidence from eBay,” The Journal of Socio-Economics 42, 31-42 (2013).


[1] Experts should note that there has been research on so-called “altruistic behavior” in social dilemma situations such as the prisoner’s dilemma since more than 3 decades. However, if scientists would have understood the “homo socialis” with other-regarding preferences already before, the key concept of the “homo economicus” should have disappeared from the economic literature since a long time, but it didn’t for a reason. In fact, the increasing empirical and experimental evidence for fairness preferences and unexpectedly high levels of cooperation in one-shot prisoner’s dilemma, dictator and ultimatum games have been waiting for a convincing theoretical explanation until very recently. It is important here to distinguish between other-regarding preferences and cooperative (“altruistic”) behavior. Other-regarding preferences means that people intentionally do not maximize their payoffs, but try to consider and improve the benefits of others. Most game theoretical work is strictly compatible with the concept of “homo economicus”, identifying mechanisms that make it advantageous in one way or another to cooperate. For example, if the “shadow of the future” in repeated prisoner’s dilemma interactions is long enough, it creates a higher payoff when people cooperate, and that’s why they do it. In other words, some mechanisms such as repeated interactions, punishment, transfer payments, and others change the payoff structure of a prisoner’s dilemma game such that there is no dilemma anymore. Martin Nowak has mathematically shown that many such mechanisms can be understood with Hamilton’s rule, according to which people cooperate when the benefits of cooperation exceed the costs. Other work shows that cooperation in prisoner’s dilemma games may survive if people imitate more successful behavior of neighbors, but if one believes in rational choice, why should people imitate, if they can reach a higher payoff by another behavior? In fact, all such cooperation in spatial prisoner’s dilemma games disappears, if imitation is replaced by a “best response” rule, which assumes a strict maximization of utility, based on the previous decision of the interaction partners. In Ref. [4], Grund et al. have combined such a “best response” rule with standard evolutionary rules of mutation and selection, when people reproduce. The unexpected outcome was a “homo socialis”, if offspring stay close to their parents, which they often do. But the transition is not smooth. It requires the population to go through a phase where unconditionally “friendly” behavior is dysfunctional, which happens only by “mistake” (due to mutations). Random spatio-temporal coincidence of people with friendly traits is equally important for other-regarding preferences to emerge. However, conditionally cooperative behavior resulting from other-regarding preferences may also occur between strangers, i.e. they do not require genetic relatedness, as the following movie shows: http://vimeo.com/65376719. In any case, spatio-temporal correlations (here: the co-evolution of individual preferences and behavior) can promote cooperation more than expected for a payoff-maximizing “homo economicus”. These new discoveries mean that key concepts of both, the theory of evolution and of economics, must be reconsidered.

[2] Smith, A., The Theory of Moral Sentiments (A. Millar, London, 1759).

  1. September 13, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    i actually once corresponded with Helbing probably 10 years ago about graduate work, because he was part of the ‘synergetics’ (complexity school). His most famous stuff is on the wisdom of crowds i think— eg how masses of people self organize after rock concerts or pilgrimages to russia or on highways to create masses of dead bodies and graves so other people have something to dance on.

    One thing the ‘participatory economy’ doesn’t adress sufficiently to me is ‘who gets to participate—its wonderful if people can design software or things using 3-D printers, but does this, for example, include the Chinese making computers in factories, or people in Congo digging up coltan so they function, or even the store clerk who rings up your sale?

    An old problem n society is ‘social justice’ and many or these ideal arguments (eg ERichard Florida and the new class, or (uncle) Tom Freedman (or Fried Man) ‘the wor(l)d is F(l)at or J Simon )seem more to be a conrnucopean society for Just Us.

  2. September 13, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    ps. the footnote at the end on ‘altruism’ is sort of interesting. they cite a 2013 paper which ‘explains’ this, and also say ‘homoeconomicus’ would have dissapeared long ago if these results were available (along with those like Bowles on anthropological/cross cultural comparisons from the Santa Fe institute—note a ‘marxist’ economist has been doing this for years if not decades . )

    these sorts of explanations have been around for decades, just as some people knew North America was here before Columbus discovered it. Also, when you get down to it, the various conflicting explanations of the same phenomena (eg Dawkins versus EOWilson and DS Wilson) are actually not distinguishable (just as ‘profit as good’ versus ‘profit as bad exploitation) are as conventional as determing whether north is south or the reverse.

    Also as noted one has a ‘phase transition’—-so, in fact the phenomena may just be ‘order through noise’ rather than some motivational change (competition versus cooperation) or in fact it may be ‘measurement error’ if one takes a more ‘bayesian’ approach to the second law and time and see it as a subjective illusion or due to biased measurement (because one is seeing self fuifilling profits).

  3. sergio
    September 13, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    What Helbing is suggesting is actually not new. Put it simply – it is Socialism or Communism. He avoids using these words, substituting them with “global village” being afraid to be called socialist. And who is socialist and what is socialism? Such discussion will eventually involve words as “Stalin, Cuba, North Korea, Soviet disaster”, etc. Socialism is associated with central planning and tyranny. Nobody wants to be labeled as socialist.
    But anyway, it is very good, that false paradigm of neoclassical selfish individual is being questioned. Yes, humans were, are and will be cooperating social beings. There is nothing new in it. At the time the idea of socialism emerged, it was also believed to be a self regulated system. But at that time there was no technology which would allow this to happen. Central planning was meant to be a transitional system, however which eventually slowed down technological progress and prevented transition. Socialism stuck in central planning forever.

    Now socialism came from the side it was expected to come – from technological progress. Existing modern and future technology allow us to have self-regulated economy populated with “homo socialis”.
    There are only two things which prevent this to happen.
    1. Existence of money. Money made us selfish “homo economicus”. But money is technology, which can now be replaced by completely different “medium of exchange”.
    2. Existence of class society, where there is a class of humans who NEVER want to be equal with others.
    those two tings are dependent on each other. 2 is the reason why 1 exist. 1 is the instrument to have 2.
    Capitalism stuck in capitalism.
    As author suggests “If we build the right institutions for the information society of the 21st century…”. What may be those “right institutions”? Two institutions: 1. Removing traditional money and replacing them with new technology of exchange 2. Removing human EGO.
    As for the 2. even author thinks that “… self-regulation does not mean that everyone can choose the rules he likes…”. That is the whole idea! Not “Economics 2.0” but “Socialism reloaded”

  4. Ken Zimmerman
    September 16, 2013 at 6:00 am

    Dirk,
    Just a few comments.
    1. If by “we” you mean humans, we were never “independent decision makers.” A mythology bequeathed to us by the Enlightenment. We’ve always made decisions together, via interactions. Any theory, economic or otherwise that misses this is useless, and often misleading. But this does not mean there is a “social” as you use the term. There are ongoing interactions among actors that sometimes build durable collective ways of life. But social as a thing, as a factor in itself is mythology invented by social scientists.
    2. A part of collective ways of life has to do with what comes to be labeled as economic actions and decisions. What is built up here is “economic reality.” As to the economic decision maker and making, what you call the “self-regarding decision-maker” that certainly is one of the forms of economic actions and decision making, one among many others. At any particular point in time one or another of these can be elevated to be the preferred or accepted “best” way of life. One of the reasons we study economic ways of life is to figure out why and how this happens.
    3. “Natural selection” is just one variant of the process of building living described above. And yes it can lead to the creation of creation of various physical forms. But which is which is not self-evident. That requires more work in building when and how certain actions and actors are “self-regarding” and when not.
    4. It is NOT the case that “…the success of the human species as compared to others results mainly from its social nature.” Chimpanzees are actually more socially adept. Humans survive by inventing all sorts of devices that allow them to construct collective living arrangements. Because humans don’t have social formulas to protect them, building the devices for collective life is difficult, only partially effective and often fails. The varieties of living arrangements possible via this process are literally limitless. As is the manner in which they are arranged. It is this economists need to recognize and use as a compass, not the so called “social nature” of humans.
    5. The research you cite certainly supports these descriptions. The research also seems to support one or more versions of a non-competitive form of economic interaction has been created, using devices such as human equality, democracy, and salvation in the afterlife. We use these to explain why treating other humans fairly and will deference is important and necessary. As William James noted a 100 years ago, the “will to believe” is central. But there are devices that go in other directions as well. Racial superiority, religious enlightenment, and fascism help us to exploit other humans, to dominate and destroy them if they fail our tests for fail to comply with out rules. None of these remains predominate for long, but the consequences of even short-term dominance by some of them can be quite substantial. I do not mention social science or economic theory here, since it is what is actually done in inventing devices and using them to build collective living arrangements that are of first importance. Theory should if is successful merely a reflection of this work, hopefully making it basic forms more accessible by wider audiences.
    6. All the dysfunctions about building our collective lives you mention can of course occur, and the warnings you give about some possible consequences are of course wise. But the work of building these arrangements is beyond the control of economists and social scientists. They can of course influence what happens, sometimes as they anticipate, sometimes not. But laying them out, like building a highway or damn is not possible. But that should not stop economists and social scientists from participating in the building.
    7. The description of using the device of reputation to make changes I find fascinating. But as with other devices controlling the device and its effects is not a simple as your description makes it seem. After all the benign capitalist Warren Buffett has just as much “reputation” to protect as the malignant capitalist Lloyd Blankfein.
    8. Dirk, I’ll be honest the contention that we’re in “…a new trend towards decentralized, local production and personalized products, enabled by 3D printers, app stores, and other technologies” seems wishful thinking at best. Active delusion at worst. These devices will make a difference. Whether they are the beginning of a near era that will change the world remains uncertain. After all predicting how devices will actually work is a risky business. I’m much more conservative about what can be and ought to be done than you and your colleagues. Remember some of the worst nightmares in world history began with bright and well-meaning dreams of nirvana.

  5. Bruce E. Woych
    September 16, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    “A “NEW” kind of economy:
    125 years ago: and what did history reap;
    http://socserv2.mcmaster.ca/~econ/ugcm/3ll3/ingram/contents.html
    A History of Political Economy
    John Kells Ingram
    1888

    Chapter Six: The Historical School
    http://socserv2.mcmaster.ca/~econ/ugcm/3ll3/ingram/ingram06.html

    [Escerpt]

    I. The necessity of accentuating the moral element in economic study. This consideration has been urged with special emphasis by Schmoller in his Grundiragen der Rechtes und der Moral (1875) and by Schäffle in his Das gesellschaftliche System der menschlichen Wirthschaft (1861, 3d ed., 1873). G. Kries (d. 1858) appears also to have handled the subject well in a review of J. S. Mill. According to the most advanced organs of the school, three principles of organization are at work in practical economy; and, corresponding with these, there are three different systems or spheres of activity.

    The latter are (1) private economy; (2) the compulsory public economy; (3) the “caritative” sphere. In the first alone personal interest predominates; in the second the general interest of the society; in the third the benevolent impulses.

    Even in the first, however, the action of private interests cannot be unlimited; not to speak here of the intervention of the public power, the excesses and abuses of the fundamental principle in this department must be checked and controlled by an economic morality, which can never be left out of account in theory any more than in practical applications. In the third region above named, moral influences are of course supreme. II. The close relation which necessarily exists between economics and jurisprudence. This has been brought out by L. von Stein and H. Rösler, but is most systematically established by Wagnerwho is, without doubt, one of the most eminent of living German economistsespecially in his Grundlegung, now forming part of the comprehensive Lehrbuch der politischen Oekonomie published by him and Professor Nasse jointly. The doctrine of the jus nature, on which the physiocrats, as we have seen, reared their economic structure, has lost its hold on belief, and the old a priori and absolute conceptions of personal freedom and property have given way along with it. It is seen that the economic position of the individual, instead of depending merely on so-called natural rights or even on his natural powers, is conditioned by the contemporary juristic system, which is itself an historical product. The above-named conceptions, therefore, half economic half juristic, of freedom and property require a fresh examination. It is principally from this point of view that Wagner approaches economic studies. The point, as he says, on which all turns is the old question of the relation of the individual to the community. Whoever with the older juristic and political philosophy and national economy places the individual in the centre comes necessarily to the untenable results which, in the economic field, the physiocratic and Smithian school of free competition has set up. Wagner on the contrary investigates, before anything else, the conditions of the economic life of the community, and, in subordination to this, determines the sphere of the economic freedom of the individual. III

    • Bruce E. Woych
      September 17, 2013 at 12:21 am

      conclusion of 1888: http://socserv2.mcmaster.ca/~econ/ugcm/3ll3/ingram/ingram07.html

      “The radical vice of this unscientific character of political economy seems to lie in the too individual and subjective aspect under which it has been treated. Wealth having been conceived as what satisfies desires, the definitely determinable qualities possessed by some objects of supplying physical energy, and improving the physiological constitution, are left out of account. Everything is gauged by the standard of subjective notions and desires. All desires are viewed as equally legitimate, and all that satisfies our desires as equally wealth. Value being regarded as the result of a purely mental appreciation, the social value of things in the sense of their objective utility, which is often scientifically measurable, is passed over, and ratio of exchange is exclusively considered. The truth is, that at the bottom of all economic investigation must lie the idea of the destination of wealth for the maintenance and evolution of a society. And, if we overlook this, our economics will become a play of logic or a manual for the market, rather than a contribution to social science; whilst wearing an air of completeness, they will be in truth one-sided and superficial.”
      [and]
      “Social exigencies will force the hands of statesmen, whatever their attachment to abstract formulas; and politicians have practically turned their backs on laisser faire. The State has with excellent effect proceeded a considerable way in the direction of controlling, for ends of social equity or public utility, the operations of individual interest. The economists themselves have for the most part been converted on the question; amongst theorists Herbert Spencer found himself almost a vox clamantis in deserto in protesting against what he called the new slavery” of Governmental interference.”
      ———————————————————————————————————
      Apparently sustaining the questions has proven easier than sustaining the resolutions
      over the past century.

  6. Norman L. Roth
    September 17, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    September 17, 2013,
    Please refer to #21, “Austerity: Democracy vs. Capitalism” Sept. 15, 2013

    It appears that the author of #6, above, has read the 25 point “program” referred to in #21 above. Especially the stuff that always begins with, WE DEMAND”. Doe he agree with the “Demanders” ? Does he know the “program’s” source & date ? The world has tread that bloody-minded path many times in the recent past .And is still doing so in certain benighted places; With the usual tragic & retardant consequences for the common folk who are penned up there: By rulers who share similar views to the author of # 6. Perhaps he too has a bad case of the “Sink into the mud and embrace the butcher” syndrome. [Berthold Brecht, circa 1931]. Who also had a soft spot in his head for the marxoid-socialist version of the “25 point program”. Brecht’s poetic/dramatic/rhetorical genius, & mastery of the German language, was no antidote for his gross failures of judgement’,in areas that lay outside his artistic gifts. I could quote a few other lines from Brecht that warns us against the continuing threat of such aspirations. But I’ll stick to being “hoflich und richtig”, in the spirit of the Editors’ guidelines.
    Markets may well be the second or third oldest, and most evolved, human institution. Those who hate markets so much, usually bear similar grudges against our shared human natures: Whose Promethean imperatives, normal desires, and capacity for tacit knowledge & ‘spontaneous ordering”, caused markets to exist & evolve in the first place. I recommend that you read Chapter 2, of Telos & Technos. It could be the beginning of a “cure”.

    Norman L. Roth, Toronto, Canada. Please GOOGLE: [1] TECHNOS, Norman Roth
    [2] Origins of Markets, Norman Roth [3] TELOS & TECHNOS, Roth [4] Economics of Technology, Norman Roth

    • Robert Locke
      September 17, 2013 at 5:20 pm

      Norman, stop the hyperbole, from which you, like many Americans suffer. People can’t just be wrong, they have to be the worst sort of evil in the universe. Hard to have a sensible conversation under these conditions. Too bad, because you seem to be a reasonably intelligent man.

  7. sergio
    September 18, 2013 at 1:27 am
  8. August 22, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    Robert L, Yes, yet how about us being just too collectively stupid + naive to prevent ecocide and other self-inflicted disasters? Anyway, if y’all are sincerely into humanitarian and/or sane compassion, you may want to read Ivan Illich’s brilliant lecture on The Wisdom of Leopold Kohr Kohr saw economics as something to be replaced or simply abandoned. Every day no I seem to agree ever more.

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