We imagine this century to mark the start of a whole new economic system with a new economic logic. In fact, we can’t imagine how we will survive without one. This is not a political discussion in any way that we have had one in the past two centuries.

One way to start is to celebrate and support new forms of economic pleasure–new forms of reflux as I call them. We can begin by celebrating the economies of community that spring up around us.

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Culture

January 12, 2012

What we call the “culture” should be the main restrain on the capital reflux found in areas of regular consumption. Culture should shape the desires and expectations of local use like food, clothing, and housing. The confusion of culture and capitalism is one of the central dysfunctions of the current system. Culture is also a form of reflux that potentially can elevates daily functions to a sense of meaning, joy, and celebration.

It is important to note that there is nothing, or at least very little, in the economy that is pure repetition. Breathing is perhaps pure repetition, but the closer to repetition it becomes the more it drops out of the “economic.” Something like eating or dress is highly repetitious and can be seen as potentially very local. Still it is essential to see what is “refluxive,” or perhaps what is “surplus,” even in the most repetitive human experiences. Our economy must balance both.

In a similar way, we see forms of capital as refluxive–tending toward increase with little or no repetition. We must also guard against these forms of increase which ultimately are destructive to the whole economy.

Fundamentals

December 29, 2011

While I have argued that distributive economies must be heterogeneous, I would also argue that there are at least to economic premises that should cut through all variations of the economy. They are 1) the concept of sustainability and  2) the acknowledgement of commonwealth. Much more needs to be written about sustainability, but I would only say here that it is not “sameness.” It is not a mechanical or scientific principle of invariability. Sustainability does not oppose forms of growth and development and, in fact, in human systems, the two are always intertwined. The second–acknowledgement of commonwealth–is not a precise measure, but a governing function of our thinking.

First reflections on power

November 9, 2011

The problem is not money as signifier of exchange, but the transformation of capital into power.   This has to be our key concern.  The centralization of capital is also the centralization of the capacity to manipulate goods and services.  This is not a moral critique of power, but a deeper realization the reflux of capital is also a reflux of power  This turns the system into a energy field of sorts were the logic of accumulation becomes the ability to accumulate.

It is important when we look at the possibility of radical economic transformation that we are realistic and true to ourselves about what we hope for out of this transformation. We cannot over idealize the future and we cannot forget what goods and services we do not want to loose in the new economy. Certainly we must hold a place in our economy for local economies and eventually we will need to examine the importance, in detail, of localization in a distributive economy. But we must also agree that there are needs that cannot be localized, and that are in fact highly centralized goods and service, including highly technical goods and services like health and information technologies that we not only do not want to lose, but that we want to see de-localized.

This leads us to assume that a distributive economy will necessarily be a heterogeneous economy. An economy that unlike capitalism operate in different register according to different rules.

Reflux and Centralization

September 28, 2011

Whatever else Marx may have gotten right or wrong about the development of capitalism, his thinking about the refluxive power of capital profound and irrefutable. Remember that Marx argued that a move toward greater abstraction occurs as the economy moves from object as use to commodity to money to capital. Through this process of abstraction, capital, like ideas of God or language, pushes to the verge of the infinite. It approaches the infinite as its border. Calling it abstract does not make it empty or ineffective.

This verging toward the infinite is in a direct and subtle way the construction of power–it is the power to marshal natural resources and human labor.

Economy Beyond Ethics

September 28, 2011

It is important that we find ways to turn our moral concern about economic disparity into an economic system that works toward repairing those disparities without depending on moral good will. A system where ” a nation of devils,”as Kant would say, would solve the problem of disparity. As long a we stay in the ethical models, in models that stress the choice of the individual to do good, the advantage of giving and withhold will always rest in the hands of those who control the surplus of wealth. I think too that we will end up playing a no-win game between altruism and greed.