Home > Uncategorized > Thought experiment: Radical abundance

Thought experiment: Radical abundance

from Jason Hickel

Imagine if we were to even just partially decommoditize London’s housing stock; for example, imagine the government was to cap the price of housing at half its present level. Prices would still be outrageously high, but Londoners would suddenly be able to work and earn significantly less than they presently do without any loss to their quality of life. Indeed, they would gain in terms of time they could spend with their friends and family, doing things they love, improvements to their health and mental well-being, and so on. And by needing to work less they would contribute to less overproduction, and therefore ease concomitant pressures for unnecessary consumption.

The same thought experiment can be applied to all social goods that have either been made to be artificially scarce or that would otherwise be simple to manage as commons. And here I have in mind not only healthcare and education, which are already generally well-recognized as public goods by most social democracies, but also other key goods that are essential to people’s well-being, like internet, housing and public transportation, as in the vision of Universal Basic Services outlined by academics at University College London (IGP, 2017). On top of this, new “utilities” like Uber and AirBnb could be taken into public ownership, or public alternatives could be created, thus enabling the emergence of “platform commons” which would allow people to exchange their material resources (cars, homes) without having to pay exorbitant and unnecessary fees to private monopolies. Employment too could be considered a common good – and indeed this would be crucial: a shorter working week with a job guarantee and a living wage, plus legislation to ensure that all productivity gains are delivered back to workers in the form of higher wages and shorter hours. And by banning advertising in public spaces we could reclaim our streets (and attention) as commons and liberate people from the sense of scarcity that advertising induces.

By de-enclosing and expanding the commons, and by redistributing existing income more fairly, we can enable people to access the goods that they need to live well without needing high levels of income (and therefore additional growth) in order to do so. People would be able to work less without any loss to their quality of life, thus producing less unnecessary stuff and therefore generating less pressure for unnecessary consumption. Meanwhile, with more free time people would be able to have fun, enjoy conviviality with loved ones, cooperate with neighbors, care for friends and relatives, cook healthy food, exercise and enjoy nature, thus rendering unnecessary the patterns of consumption that are driven by time scarcity. And opportunities to learn and develop new skills such as music, maintenance, growing food and crafting furniture would contribute to local self-sufficiency (Alexander and Gleeson, 2019).

Liberated from the pressures of artificial scarcity, the compulsion for people to compete for ever-increasing productivity would wither away. We would not have to feed our time and energy into the juggernaut of ever-increasing production, consumption and ecological destruction. The economy would produce less as a result, yes – but it would also need much less. It would be smaller and yet nonetheless much more abundant. In such an economy private riches (or GDP) may shrink, as Maitland pointed out, reducing the incomes of corporations and the very rich, but public wealth would increase, significantly improving the lives of everyone else. Suddenly a new paradox emerges: abundance is revealed to be the antidote to growth.

If austerity represents the apogee of the Lauderdale Paradox, where public wealth is sacrificed for the sake of generating private riches, what becomes clear from the above is that degrowth is the very opposite. This is an important point. Some have attempted to smear degrowth as a new version of austerity, this time promoted by the left rather than the right – an extreme manifestation of old-school environmentalists who want to force everyone to live miserable lives. But exactly the opposite is true. While austerity calls for scarcity in order to generate more growth, degrowth calls for abundance in order to render growth unnecessary. Abundance, then, is the solution to our ecological crisis. If we are to avert climate breakdown, the environmentalism of the 21st century must articulate a new demand: a demand for radical abundance.


  1. Craig
    July 9, 2019 at 9:46 pm

    Great post. However, everything you conjecture could be accomplished much more quickly with a directly distributive monetary system. Both private finance capitalism and re-distributive socialism are monetarily old paradigm. Integrate their particles of truth, highest workabilities and highest ethical consideration of the world’s major wisdom traditions and the thirdness greater oneness we all seek will emerge.

  2. July 9, 2019 at 11:55 pm

    Thank you for suggesting an interesting solution. Your perspective should be evolving rapidly. Perhaps a seven facet government will evolve into being as a social big bang. A descriptive graphic at http://www.constituentassembly.org

  3. Ken Zimmerman
    July 18, 2019 at 12:11 pm

    You realize, of course the push back for even making such proposals will be loud and angry. First, rich people and companies will be significantly poorer just overnight. But still certainly not impoverished. Second, after 50 years of intense and effective propaganda most Americans and even some in Europe are more afraid of their own government than they are of big corporations from whom they must purchase nearly every necessity for life. So, why would they agree to give government the greater powers you suggest? One final point. What’s your plan for those members of society who simply don’t want the life you describe? They want to live fast, play hard, work even harder, and die young. I meet a lot like this when I visit Germany, Norway, and Sweden. If they’re in these countries, then they’re likely to be found in France, Spain, and Russia.

  4. Robert Locke
    July 19, 2019 at 11:55 am

    ” a shorter working week with a job guarantee and a living wage, plus legislation to ensure that all productivity gains are delivered back to workers in the form of higher wages and shorter hours.”

    I just had a discussion with my son about the dysfunctionality of this idea. He claimed that workers won’t work unless they fear losing their jobs. He took the view that workers are slackers and must be compelled to work. He gave lots of good examples from his experiences in Poland. I said, drawing on my life as the son of a mechanic working in california, that workers were not slackers; that there is an instinct of workmanship, as veblen phased it, in this, which I observed in the working community while growing up.

    So it is the specificities of culture that determine the feasibility of the proposition. Monotheistic solutions will not work because of it. Study anthropology (or history)

    • Calgacus
      July 20, 2019 at 8:13 am

      Your son’s argument makes no sense as a response to that quote. A guaranteed job doesn’t mean a job you can’t lose if you do not show up and work. There would still be the fear of losing your job if you do not do the work. So there is “compulsion” – and what is wrong with this sort of compulsion?

      That gifts of work – or pay create an obligation to reciprocate is in all human cultures. So there really is no specificity of culture at play. What is specific to modern capitalist societies is the uniquely profound lack of understanding of the economics of one’s own culture, of money. This sort of proposal just embodies and raises the level of modern economic self-understanding back up to the higher premodern level. It’s been done before, the 30s to the 70s, say in the USA and Europe saw higher modern levels than before or since. Close, but no cigar.

      Furthermore, the “productivity gains are delivered back to workers” ensures that people will slack off less, not more. If extra work gets the worker nothing – the experience of the neoliberal era, they will tend to slack off – I would and do – compared to when extra work gets you something. Tit for tat.

    • Rob
      July 20, 2019 at 9:11 am

      Interesting conversation. I think you may be unaware Calgacus of Japanese culture where many traditional corporations hire employees and it has traditionalt meant lifetime employment. I won’t name the company but as I write this my wife, who is in a executive position in one of the biggest global Japanese manufacturing companies bon the world, confirms this culture of still, and indeed there are “slackers” (her word) that come to work sit around and do nothing. Everyone knows it, they must pick up the slackers work, and it breeds resentment and causes others to feel like “Why should I work so hard if he/she can do nothing and be paid the same.” So, this must be cultural, it seems to me. The slackers are not fired. They may not get a nice bonus but they have a job for life.

      There are other nuanced situations due to the policy of lifetime employment but I cannot address them here.

      • Calgacus
        July 20, 2019 at 12:22 pm

        They come to work. That’s the deal. Lifetime employment has been ebbing in Japan anyways, and only ever applied to the biggest companies. Their suppliers hired and fired just like here. And I take that anecdote with a grain of salt. Of course there’d be slacking and variation anywhere, but the underlying frame of thought – tit for tat, reciprocity, is universal. Otherwise, why the resentment in this anecdote? That is my point. And Japan has had for a long time a reputation, a stereotype of being the opposite of slackers. This changed a bit in their torpid economy of the last couple decades. In any case, it is pretty clear that Hickel is not talking about do-nothing sinecures here, nor do the MMTers.

        Ha Joon Chang mocks this kind of “cultural difference” thing with many examples of nations which had one stereotyped reputation, but suddenly get the opposite stereotype. The difference is opportunity. The historical causation is in the opposite direction of that suggested. People and nations get reputations for being hardworking because they are given opportunities to attain their goals. Not vice versa.At best, such “cultural differences” are an unimportant quibble.

      • Rob
        July 20, 2019 at 12:26 pm

        I can attest the company I am speaking about is NOT treating suppliers as you claim. Period. That is real time experience. Sorry, but you are mistaken.

      • Rob
        July 20, 2019 at 1:06 pm

        There are no absolutes. Everything is changing. Including employment patterns on Japan. You were arguing, if I understood correctly, no firm doesn’t fire slackers. That isn’t true. Of course neither is an absolute. Yet, lifetime employment to the extent it exists is culture … Of course reciprocity exists, how it plays out, is certainly not the same across all cultures. Frankly, I am not sure what your real point is now.

      • Rob
        July 20, 2019 at 1:10 pm

        BTW, I like Ha Joon, have a source? You do know he is Korean, not Japanese, right?

      • Rob
        July 23, 2019 at 1:11 am

        Ha Joon Chang mocks this kind of “cultural difference” thing … ~ Calgacus

        I re-read Ha-Joon Chang’s “Bad Samaritans,” chapter 9 being particularly relevant. I find you misrepsent what he is saying by confusing his argument, which is aimed at cultural determinism (i.e., the belief that culture alone determines everyting, which I don’t believe myself and never have, for culture is maleable and subject to evolution form many diverse sources), with the legitimate assertion that culture, while not the sole determinant, nevetheless is the lens through which people adapt ideas, policies, and practices having origin in both internally and externally. He argues that economics influences culture; which is a fair and true insight I think. But he does not deny that culture also influences economics, just that it is not a one way street and that culture is not an absolute determinant.

      • Ken Zimmerman
        July 23, 2019 at 2:24 am

        Rob, culture is often misunderstood. Even though each of us is part of one, and sometimes more than one culture. Cultural determinism is not possible, considering the multiple uncertainties and subtleties involved with culture. And culture’s near endless potentialities.

        According to anthropologist Ruth Benedict, every culture organizes life around a few core principles, activities, and beliefs; from which all institutions and activities hang like apples on a tree. That core for western culture is money. Money is the cultural configuration of western culture. But money was not the configuration for all cultures. The Dogon of Mali organized their lives around art and ritual, the Nuer around cows, the ancient Egyptians around death, the Aztecs around human sacrifice, and the Papuans around marriages, yams, and pigs. Each of these offered a focus for conducting the essential activities of life. The odd abstraction we call money would make no sense to these people, just as we would find their cultures strange and unappealing.

        But culture is not a strait jacket or iron cage, as some sociologists portray it. As one reviewer of Benedict’s book, “Patterns of Culture,” writes, “On this basis she developed her own special contribution, her view of human cultures as ‘personality writ large,’ her view that it was possible to see each culture, no matter how small and primitive or how large and complex, as having selected from the great arc of human potentialities certain characteristics and then having elaborated them with greater strength and intensity than any single individual could ever do in one lifetime. She named the emphases in the cultures she described Apollonian, Dionysian and Paranoid, drawing on descriptions of individual personality to give point to her argument. But she was building no typology; she held no belief that Nietzschean or psychiatric labels were suitable for all societies. Nor did she believe that any closed system could be constructed into which all human societies, past, present and future, would fit. Rather, she was committed to a picture of developing human cultures for which no limit could be set because the possible combinations were so many and so varied as to be inexhaustible. But, as her knowledge of different cultures grew, so her initial sense that the individual was the creature of culture and so was in no way responsible for the discomfort of his position if he was born or accidentally bred to deviance, changed to a detailed consideration of where and in what ways men could shape their culture closer to their highest vision. The belief that this was possible was to grow.”

      • Rob
        July 23, 2019 at 3:07 am

        Thanks Ken, I find much resonate in the above, and Ha-Joon (and I too) agree that we can shape our cultures to new and higher (or lower) visions. Culture can progress as well as retrogress, it seems (to wit, Trumpism). And eternal dialectic it seems fed by many streams, at times chaotic and at others more settled.

        The most insignificant man can be complete if he works within the limits of his capacities, innate or acquired; but even fine talents can be obscured, neutralised, and destroyed by lack of this indispensable requirement of symmetry. This is a mischief which will often occur in modern times; for who will be able to come up to the claims of an age so full and intense as this, and one too that moves so rapidly? —JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE, Maxims and Reflections 
        THE DRASTIC SOCIAL TRANSFORMATIONS THAT/b> accompanied the industrial revolution forced themselves on the attention of any half-awake observer of nineteenth-century society, but it took the rise of the sociological imagination with thinkers like Karl Marx and Alexis de Tocqueville to discern the hidden connections between various surface phenomena of the new dispensation. Events like the sudden economic collapse of the centuries-old craft of the Silesian weavers, for no reason apparent to local German observers, prodded acute and probing intellects like Marx’s to uncover the far-flung, transnational causal nexus of the newly expanding modern capitalist economy and its revolutionary power to reorganize human social and political relationships. That things in general—history, the social and political order, fashion, etc.—seemed to be changing faster and faster was also a common observation of the times. However, the idea that the diverse perceptions of increasing speed in disparate social domains might themselves be systematically linked by some subterranean bond was not formulated until Henry Adams’s speculative and unmethodical postulation of a universal-historical “law of acceleration” that leads inexorably to the “whirl” of the modern world. (Social Acceleration: A New Theory of Modernity by Hartmut Rosa, Jonathan Trejo-Mathys)

        It seems we are on the cusp of major cultural and civilizational transformation(s). The current elevation of material things and superficial pursuit of wealth for reasons of vanity and/or power alone is simply not sustainable economically, environmentally, socially, or otherwise.
        The social ship of culture has sailed out of the sheltered bays of established tradition and begun a cruise into the unknown high seas of evolutionary destiny. Never before in human history have we needed to carefully scrutinize our charts of science, philosophy, and religion; scientific truth, moral meanings, and spiritual values with the goal in mind of stabilizing those meanings and values that can pilot us through these dangerous times of transition from one phase of civilization to another, from one level of culture to another.

      • Ken Zimmerman
        July 23, 2019 at 4:04 am

        Rob, major cultural shifts are dangerous and disruptive. Look at the number of wars and deaths related to relatively minor religious differences. Or, what seems minor looking from outside the wars. The industrial revolution has killed millions, displaced millions more, and changed cultures around the world. I know Trump feeds on disruption, but I’d prefer less, not more disruption right now. Maybe 20 little cultural changes, rather than a single big one.

      • Rob
        July 23, 2019 at 4:16 am

        Evolution, not revolution, is preferred. I agree. How fast shifts happen, well, I am not certain that is within our control. Roots of war are not only religious Ken. Political ideology too can be the source of destructive war. That point aside I agree completely. Move deliberately, carefully, thoughtfully.

        It seems change is hardest and comes tardily for religion. Take marriage equality and evangelical Christians. Most of the liberal Christian traditions have come to terms with the fact that homosexuality is as natural as heterosexuality. What we see today is in my view a short-lived fundamentalist backlash against progress. It seems, there can be no progress without conflict.

        It also seems from my observation, that culture changes imperceptibly, sometimes slowly and sometimes quickly when all the relevant factors align. The challenge is to have enough wise leadership to prevent such change becoming suicidal.

      • Ken Zimmerman
        July 23, 2019 at 9:15 am

        Rob, keep Ruth Benedict’s words in mind, “every culture organizes life around a few core principles, activities, and beliefs; from which all institutions and activities hang like apples on a tree.” The apples may and often do change frequently, but the tree from which they grow and hang changes slowly and infrequently. In negotiations these words have helped me more than once.

      • Rob
        July 23, 2019 at 9:37 am

        Those are wise words Ken. Appreciated.

      • Craig
        July 23, 2019 at 4:32 pm

        Correct, but when a new paradigm is recognized the change can be virtually instantaneous. Couple that with the viral capabilities of our communication technology today. Also, economics and the money system is not an abstract science like astronomy, cosmology or quantum physics. It effects virtually everyone everyday throughout the day.

        Every historical paradigm change has occurred when a new tool and/or insight is discovered which confirms the concept of the new paradigm/pattern. That new discovery/insight is the monetary and economic paradigm changing power of the terminal ending point of retail sale and the temporal universe effects of the abundance creating power of a 50% Discount/Rebate monetary policy at that point.

      • Ken Zimmerman
        July 24, 2019 at 1:19 am

        Craig, the core of any culture never changes quickly unless the culture is collapsing or has already collapsed. Unless people are desperate, that is. The institutions, concepts, language, etc. arising from the core may change quickly, but even that may take years. For example, the video game maker Atari began in 1972, grew to dominate video gaming in arcades in the 1980s, collapsed in the 1990s, and has been reborn after 2010. Besides nostalgia, Atari remains due to name recognition and association with important changes in western history. Humans are often reluctant to let go of the familiar, even when it’s dying. And that includes economic ways of life.

      • Craig
        July 25, 2019 at 12:36 am

        Paradigm changes don’t happen very often, but when they do they occur extremely quickly because they are a new concept and both a mental and an empirical/temporal change.

        When that empirical/temporal change is itself empirically huge and obvious, is a complete inversion of temporal reality and immediately effects virtually everyone as do the various policies enumerated in my book, then the change is even quicker. Paradigm changes are also agreed upon very progressive events so virtually everything related and even tangentially related ALWAYS adapts to the new paradigm.

        The culture as a whole may take some more time to fully adapt as the tangential benefits of a paradigm change in economics, finance and the money system may not become immediately apparent.

      • Ken Zimmerman
        July 25, 2019 at 2:41 am

        Craig, in all honesty this kind of radical and accelerated change in the core structure of a sub-culture as important as the economy, would and should scare the hell out of anyone involved in any way in that sub-culture. It runs the risk of ripping that sub-culture (economy) apart. This could destroy the society. Even if the results of the change are what you suggest they will be, the economy and perhaps all of society will be in bedlam even before that is shown to be the case. This problem is particularly acute with economic life. Observe what a stray wrong word by a political figure, major banker, or Wall Street trader has created multiple times over just the last 10 years. Sometimes the pandemonium is debilitating in and of itself.

      • Craig
        July 25, 2019 at 4:15 am

        Oh c’mon Ken, stop being such a cassandra and so whiggish. Doubling and in some cases quadrupling every wage and salary earner’s purchasing power, democratizing economics like it has never been democratized before, saving profit making economic systems from itself, bringing a refined sense of ethics to the economy and money system for the first time in history, enabling the fast forwarding of sane ecological policies and yes, driving a stake through the heart of private for profit money creating and their problematic paradigm of Debt Only with the new paradigm of monetary gifting….these things are going to be a disaster?????

        Indeed, for the latter above it will be a disaster, but the major structural bad actor and impediment to paradigm changes ALWAYS at the very least loses it monopoly dominance, primacy and power. Good riddance.

        Nomadic tribal leaders and witch doctors? Virtually no more

        The Catholic Church? The aspect of the natural philosophical concept of grace as in Directness ended its monopoly sacrament powers

        Ptolemaic cosmology? No more.

        Gutenberg Press? All those poor scribes and monks had to become gardeners and counselors instead

        There’s no end to history and anecdotal human stupidities will always be with us, but paradigm changes are basically “All good” …and we aren’t in any way in a position to worry about some of the inevitable off gassing of confusion or disruption in economics and the money system when we may only have 15-20 years to address human climate change and ending private finance’s monopoly paradigm is the only way we’ll “get off the dime” in that direct.

      • Rob
        July 25, 2019 at 7:54 am

        Social acceleration is not always within our control and neither is the direction of change. Case in point, Taiwan right now. The most effective way, in my view to bring about social change is through education. I don’t agree all paradigm change is “All good,” which is naive in my view.

      • Rob
        July 25, 2019 at 8:21 am

        Democracy, while an ideal, is a product of civilization, not of evolution. Go slowly! select carefully! for the dangers of democracy are:
        1. Glorification of mediocrity.
        2. Choice of base and ignorant rulers.
        3. Failure to recognize the basic facts of social evolution.
        4. Danger of universal suffrage in the hands of uneducated and indolent majorities.
        5. Slavery to public opinion; the majority is not always right.
        Public opinion, common opinion, has always delayed society; nevertheless, it is valuable, for, while retarding social evolution, it does preserve civilization. Education of public opinion is the only safe and true method of accelerating civilization; force is only a temporary expedient, and cultural growth will increasingly accelerate as bullets give way to ballots. Public opinion, the mores, is the basic and elemental energy in social evolution and state development, but to be of state value it must be nonviolent in expression.
        The measure of the advance of society is directly determined by the degree to which public opinion can control personal behavior and state regulation through nonviolent expression. The really civilized government had arrived when public opinion was clothed with the powers of personal franchise. Popular elections may not always decide things rightly, but they represent the right way even to do a wrong thing. Evolution does not at once produce superlative perfection but rather comparative and advancing practical adjustment….
        There are ten steps, or stages, to the evolution of a practical and efficient form of representative government, and these are:
        1. <emFreedom of the person. Slavery, serfdom, and all forms of human bondage must disappear.
        2. Freedom of the mind. Unless a free people are educated—taught to think intelligently and plan wisely—freedom usually does more harm than good.
        3. The reign of law. Liberty can be enjoyed only when the will and whims of human rulers are replaced by legislative enactments in accordance with accepted fundamental law.
        4. Freedom of speech. Representative government is unthinkable without freedom of all forms of expression for human aspirations and opinions.
        5. Security of property. No government can long endure if it fails to provide for the right to enjoy personal property in some form. Man craves the right to use, control, bestow, sell, lease, and bequeath his personal property.
        6. The right of petition. Representative government assumes the right of citizens to be heard. The privilege of petition is inherent in free citizenship.
        7. The right to rule. It is not enough to be heard; the power of petition must progress to the actual management of the government.
        8. Universal suffrage. Representative government presupposes an intelligent, efficient, and universal electorate. The character of such a government will ever be determined by the character and caliber of those who compose it. As civilization progresses, suffrage, while remaining universal for both sexes, will be effectively modified, regrouped, and otherwise differentiated.
        9. Control of public servants. No civil government will be serviceable and effective unless the citizenry possess and use wise techniques of guiding and controlling officeholders and public servants.
        10. Intelligent and trained representation. The survival of democracy is dependent on successful representative government; and that is conditioned upon the practice of electing to public offices only those individuals who are technically trained, intellectually competent, socially loyal, and morally fit. Only by such provisions can government of the people, by the people, and for the people be preserved.
        (….) It is not what a state is but what it does that determines the course of social evolution. And after all, no state can transcend the moral values of its citizenry as exemplified in their chosen leaders. Ignorance and selfishness will insure the downfall of even the highest type of government.

      • Ken Zimmerman
        July 25, 2019 at 10:04 am

        Craig, I’m neither a Casandra nor a Whig, in the conservative, middle-class sense. But I am careful when it comes to setting things in motion that cannot be controlled. Lots of socio-economic experiments have been set up with human communities. Most were small. Some were even useful. But the large ones nearly always failed, with adverse consequences. Take these examples of changes underway now. Same-sex marriage is widely accepted now. Yet, just 20 years ago it was widely rejected. The change has two sources. Millennials accept such marriage and have spread that acceptance widely. Also, with only a few exceptions most religions in the US accept same-sex marriage. How would this have turned out if 20 years ago, upon your advice laws were enacted making same-sex marriage equal to any other form of marriage? Considering a directly economic question, how much preparation would you suggest before ending or reducing by at least half copyright and patent protection? A year, two years, five years? At least two, I think.

      • Craig
        July 25, 2019 at 5:34 pm

        You ARE apparently conservative and whiggish on the issue of the monetary, financial and economic paradigm. Your caution at a time of looming multiple crises that can only resolved by STARTING with that paradigm change betrays such. You are very erudite. It surprises me that you do not recognize the necessity of the urgency the issue requires.

        When and where a paradigm change is called for urgency is the keynote. The monetary paradigm hasn’t changed in the entire history of human civilization. Reform is inadequate. Piecemeal measures cannot resolve longstanding problems held in place most strongly by the mindset of the old/current paradigm. I am neither naive nor lacking in knowledge, especially in the integrative mindset which enables me to think and perceive on the paradigmatic level. With one emphasis I repeat the final paragraph of my last post:

        There’s no end to history and anecdotal human stupidities will always be with us, but paradigm changes are BASICALLY “All good” …and we aren’t in any way in a position to worry about some of the inevitable off gassing of confusion or disruption in economics and the money system when we may only have 15-20 years to address human climate change and ending private finance’s monopoly paradigm is the only way we’ll “get off the dime” in that direction.

      • Ken Zimmerman
        July 26, 2019 at 9:59 am

        Craig, I don’t disagree that the west faces many problems. Pundits, prophets, and mystics offering histories and solutions for all these problems are not only a dime a dozen, but number in the thousands. Which of these “all insights” hope-filled paths are we to follow? I prefer being careful over being right, eventually after years of pain and grief from the ten, or more wrong choices before the right one.

      • Robert Locke
        July 26, 2019 at 10:10 am

        ” Events like the sudden economic collapse of the centuries-old craft of the Silesian weavers, for no reason apparent to local German observers, prodded acute and probing intellects ”

        Rob, we call this period of economic development proto-industrializartion; it lasted for hundreds of years, and just like there was nothing quick about its creation as the putting-out system in a capitalistic economy; there was nothing quick about its disapppearance and with it the social conditions upon which it relied. They blended into modern industrial society,in Germany, for example, the incorporation of the guild procedures into modern factory processes. e/g/ the status of journeymen and master craftmen in modern factories.

      • Rob
        July 26, 2019 at 10:14 am

        Thank you Robert, so the source is not accurate then … Very interesting.

      • Craig
        July 26, 2019 at 6:35 pm


        I suggest choosing the one which is the most inclusive of only the relevant and true data and observations. Virtually all of us here agree that the heterodox theorists like Steve Keen, Michael Hudson and Lars Syll here with the approach of MMT are parts of the puzzle. The only thing lacking in their approach is the all inclusive study of the paradigm. That is the supra-cultural approach in the area of human endeavor to which the paradigm applies. In order to understand a paradigm it is essential to define it first. It is a single concept that fits seamlessly within and creates an entirely new pattern. In order to perceive that definition one must practice integrative thinking of the opposites of singularity and plurality/pattern. As I have continually posted here paradigm perception and the wisdom process both being the integrative process itself are completely analogous.

        I see Abundantly Direct and Reciprocal Monetary Gifting at the point of retail sale to be the new paradigm concept and policy because it resolves both monetary scarcity and price and asset inflation. It is nothing if not productive of systemic and individual economic democracy. Its effects are empirically and mathematically verifiable. It is simple but transformational EXACTLY like the definition of a new paradigm above and like every other historical paradigm change has been. When someone comes up with a more beneficial and resolving concept I’ll get on their bandwagon.

        Take the all inclusive truth perceiving and integrating approach of the paradigm. That’s actually all I’ve ever advocated for….because it takes only the truths, highest workabilities, most relevant applicabilities and highest ethical considerations of apparently opposing perspectives.

      • Ken Zimmerman
        July 27, 2019 at 1:42 am

        Craig, there is no “most inclusive of only the relevant and true data and observations.” That is beyond our understanding or capabilities. Perhaps your proposal will give good results, perhaps not. I know you believe it will. Only practical application will give us the answer to this question.

      • Craig
        July 27, 2019 at 3:20 am

        In the first place I disagree. The wisdom process is precisely of that nature, and that’s why it is defined and valued as the deeper knowledge that it is. That doesn’t mean that I said that the new paradigm was the end of history for economics or anything like that. In fact I mentioned in this very thread that there is no end to history. So I was not using that phrase in any universal sense like you misinterpreted it to be.

        My proposal WILL give good results because of its nature (gifting), because it DOES IMMEDIATELY double every employed person’s purchasing power. That can be confirmed by yourself if you actually look at the temporal universe effects of the 50% Discount/Rebate policy. If a person goes and purchases $100 of groceries (or any other purchase of whatever price) and only pays $50 for the groceries that yesterday cost them $100 their available income HAS BEEN DOUBLED has it not???

        It WILL integrate beneficial price deflation into profit making economic systems because garden variety “monetary” inflation is NEVER/HAS NEVER BEEN more than a smallish single digit percentage and hyper-inflations never occur except after several prior disastrous circumstances have occurred including and finally a privately controlled central bank leverages up speculators in order for them to short the currency and that is what kicks hyperinflations in. Consult Steven Zarlenga’s excellent research on this process in his book The Lost Science of Money. ppgs 575-588.

        Wisdom is always the best integration of philosophy and policy.
        It is thus by definition the ultimate in both thought and practicality.

      • Ken Zimmerman
        July 27, 2019 at 11:59 am

        Craig, I accept that you honestly believe what you write. But that does not make it so.

        Gift economies are not new in the world. Neither are cultures that emphasize guidance via wisdom. For example, many American Indian tribes combine the two. But these don’t always go along as expected or desired. For example, in working with a number of the tribes since the 1970s, I’ve witnessed (ethnographically speaking) dozens of feuds between tribal members over the size and reciprocity of gifts and what they saw as the failure of tribal councils to settle the problems. Though troubled by these events tribal members do not favor ending either their gift economies or tribal councils. There’s an old joke on reservations. Rifle shots on Saturday night are two families settling such a dispute. No one dies (at least never heard of anyone dying) but there are lots of missing ears, fingers, and hair partings. Humans have never invented a culture that is successful most of the time; let alone all the time. We’re always “working out the kinks.” This is the best we’ve ever been able to accomplish. Perhaps Sapiens will get better at fixing itself with time. At few thousand years should be a good start in that direction.

      • Craig
        July 27, 2019 at 5:04 pm

        “I accept that you honestly believe what you write. But that does not make it so.”

        Sorry, but this is the (oft unconscious and I’m sure well meaning) trick of those laboring under the current paradigm for inquiry, namely science only. It is science that has the epistemological problem NOT wisdom which can and does rigorously include science in its calculus.

        I’m virtually the only one here integratively proposing BOTH a new philosophy and new policies implemented at a newly considered point and time that will obviously have direct, mathematical and empirically verifiable benefits for all agents individual and commercial.

        You’re not telling me anything I don’t already know when you say, We’re always “working out the kinks.” There is no end to history, but paradigm changes are stepping stones that only go progressively forward….especially if and when the individuals in the culture are informed and infused with the increasing consciousness that can result from understanding/experiencing the insights to be found in any of the world’s major wisdom traditions.

        Economics is dead, long live Wisdomics-Gracenomics, which includes and completes all of the valid heterodox insights so often espoused here.

    • Craig
      July 20, 2019 at 5:27 pm

      You’re correct Robert. Human character is malleable and if policy makers had even a modicum of sense they would create economic and social systems that acculturated positive mental attitudes about work, encouraging both giving and receiving, helping others to discover the positive and constructive purposes that they self deterninedly decide upon in their lives. The definition of leisure is not idleness, but rather self determined, self chosen purposeful activity.

      Part of the program in my book Wisdomics-Gracenomics addresses this problem. As a man thinketh, so is he. Positive and constructive self actualization is virtually everything in life. We need to stop neglecting and failing in this regard.

  5. Rob
    July 20, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    Funny how you slide the argument from employees to suppliers. Bit slippery I think.

  6. Robert Locke
    July 20, 2019 at 4:24 pm

    People who deny the importance of culture in human behavior probably have no international experience. I know, from working with Polish workers, what a bunch of slackers they are; I know from working with Germans that they are not; and I put this down to culture. I have employer experience in Poland and in Germany, because I run establishments in both countries, in the Polish-Goerlitz-Zgorzelec region.

    • Robert Locke
      July 26, 2019 at 9:54 am

      Brother can you paradyme?

      • Craig
        July 26, 2019 at 4:47 pm

        Derisive invalidation is the cheapest of intellectual tricks, is almost always an indication that a personal and/or orthodox nerve has been stimulated and is also generally a sign that one is intellectually in retreat.

        I always try hard to be only integrative in my approach as is indicated by my post of 07/20 5:27 PM. Seeking only the particles of truth in opposing or related perspectives is the wise and collegial path.

  7. Calgacus
    July 20, 2019 at 8:58 pm

    Rob:You were arguing, if I understood correctly, no firm doesn’t fire slackers.
    No, I’m not arguing that. My argument is not about that or positive mental attitudes about work, or instincts for workmanship but what is seen in every human culture.
    I was making a specific argument to Robert Locke, that what his son said as a response to Hickel’s proposal (similar to MMT’s JG) – made no sense. You brought up Japan and lifetime employment – which I replied to, but just confuses the issue, since Hickel & MMT are not proposing lifetime employment of the type you claim.

    Funny how you slide the argument from employees to suppliers. Bit slippery I think.
    That’s a well known observation about Japan and lifetime employment. A “labor aristocracy” lifetime employed by the main company, which is helped to do this by dedicated suppliers to which it is often a monopsonist, which doesn’t have lifetime employment, and hires and fires according to business conditions.

    Again, I take your anecdote with a grain of salt. Perhaps what is being seen as “a slacker” means “not a married-to-his-job workaholic.”

    Of course reciprocity exists, how it plays out, is certainly not the same across all cultures.

    Yes, but that it exists and is universal is the interesting and important and relevant point, not the variation.

    Robert Locke:People who deny the importance of culture in human behavior probably have no international experience.
    That’s not what I’m doing. But if you look at history as Ha-Joon Chang does, you might see something else. He notes how very recent this “Germans are not slackers” stereotype is. Perceived intercultural differences usually come down to one side not seeing how the same universals are playing out, are represented in another culture.

    Again, the crux of my argument was that the argument, originally your son’s, made no sense in this specific context. It is a frequently seen objection to MMT, because objectors don’t seem able to even see what is being proposed. Again, what is specific, unusual to modern capitalism is that these questions and viewpoints, anthropological and sociological understanding of one’s own system “capitalism”, are so taboo that such proposals cannot be understood.

    The criticism of this cultural difference stuff is a major theme in Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism or maybe 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism too.

    • Rob
      July 20, 2019 at 10:35 pm

      Thank you Calgacus for clarifying. I have lived in Korea for five years. My wife is Korean by ethnicity but born and raised in Japan, emigrated to America where we lived for over twenty-five years, with periods abroad in Japan, and now we are here again. All I can say is there are some things that transcend culture (e.g., reciprocity as you not), but there are differences of time, place, and culture.

      Thanks for the cite, I have his book in my library and will re-read.

      Must run for now.

      • Rob
        July 20, 2019 at 10:36 pm

        As you note …

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