Are we blind to the fact that we have a religious concept guiding our economical theory?
Free market and invisible hands
What is this “invisible hand” madness? Why are we so convinced that the “market” can handle itself, while we’re depending on it with everything, from our present health to our entire species’ future?
In my opinion, the idea of the invisible hand is basically gibberish. Jesus, there are no invisible hands people. What there is, is human nature and predictable behavior of economic agents. Everything else are ideas that are somehow adopted by academic communities for various reasons, out of which lobby, free money and prestige are some very important ones.
But just think about it. We let our future be guided by some invisible thing?
First, the only chance of a totally free market to keep existing is constant growth. Growth, on the other hand, has severe systemic impact, just like in a body or in an ecosystem. The faster the growth, the wilder the free market will be. The higher growth charts top, the farther behind does society cling with managing the side effects.
Second, the whole idea that markets fix themselves is based on ideal socioeconomic models filled with ideal people. From this point of view, both the radical capitalist and the radical socialist share the same flaw, they base their ideas on some imaginary species of perfect humans.
In a perfectly capitalist society, your entire time is dedicated to being a successful individual. In a perfectly socialist society, your entire time is dedicated to being a blended in individual. In raging capitalism success will get you a futurist vehicle with doors that open vertically, in raging socialism success will get you the same mediocre car everyone else has.
What kind of humans are these we base our assumptions on, because I personally have never met them. In my 20s I wanted a car with doors that open vertically, in my 30s I wanted a car that worked reliably and the closer I get to my 40s, I am sick of driving anything, I want to be taken places somehow. I have friends who discover driving in their 40s. We’re a diverse species with flaws that make us interesting and dynamic as a system. This is great, why do we try so hard to smudge out our weirdness?
Ideal humans who are neither greedy, nor vain. Ideal people who act rationally, but always consider the greater good. Ideal humans that plan for the future but spend in the present. These people do not exist.
I wouldn’t ride an untamed horse, nor do I trust a gooey group of anonymous people to handle my future. I have no idea how you can live with it.
I find it funny how libertarians and raw capitalists use metaphors containing lions, tigers or sharks to describe aim and focus and success. But at the same time a rat is just as good a metaphor. Rats are tenacious in finding ways and so focused on growth, that as a symbol of the free market I’d choose a rat colony.
A rat colony takes care of itself. It is very hard to crush and it is rooted in only one constant truth: permanent growth. We need various traps and poisons and snakes and cats to keep it down. A concerted effort is required to handle this pest. Indeed, this is a weird viewpoint:
a free market is a necessary evil, a pest we need to handle
Here is an idea: so far free markets have proven to be the best innovation producing systems ever devised by mankind. But this only means one thing: as soon as we try to stimulate innovation, we get a free market. It is something we have to handle, to face, not to deify.
A free market is an experiment that has to be contained. The problem is that Frankenstein has left the building and is stomping everything everywhere.
So, if you wouldn’t ride an untamed horse or have a wild tiger as a pet why would you trust the free market to work in your favor? Whose is that invisible hand fiddling with your life?
Isn’t this invisible hand an idea that is too nice to be true? Like the white beard man in the sky, who shall save you but also gives you cancer to teach you a lesson, this invisible hand thing both pats your back and pushes you into the deepest poverty, all by its own weird logic. Are we blind to the fact that we have a religious concept guiding our economical theory?
Moderate extremism is holding us all back
Just like religious extremism, just like we all recommend our life as the antidote for other people’s problems, just like we like to side with the losers for the thrill, all this weird behavior we have by being leftist or conservative or libertarian is holding us back in the long run.
My idea is that the solution is a combination, just like we do all kinds of things in science where we mix maths and experiments to explain the universe, like we put one molecule next to another to fix our illnesses, so should we combine political and economical lines of thought to improve our world and fix the never ending list of problems we’re facing.
Instead of doing this, once every four or eight years we switch from one radical extreme to the other. Sure, our “leaders” invented communist nostalgia and nationalism as scarecrows, the extreme extremism, to make us blind to the fact that by choosing a side, they are actually picking the streams of value they’ll suck from. Some will suck straight from your pocket as consumers, some will suck trough taxes, some will suck by selling your life force to the highest bidder, some will suck by selling your children to higher and higher uncertainty.
But no one in the echelon of political power is to blame directly. They all are side products of our fear of getting involved. We act like a herd of sheep and therefore wolves will appear.
Building society is leisure
The biggest problem we have is that we consider economy and politics to be work, and we choose to stay away from them, because we must work for money, and in our free time we want to feel free to pursue passions, hobbies or simply to spend our free time with no aim or goal other than enjoyment.
But, playing planet is the coolest game we can play, people!
We can make this rock we call home into the heaven we dream of ever since we gazed to mountaintops hazed by clouds thousands of years ago. We should really start and get a grip on our future by having fun. Forget the elitism in social sciences (including philosophy) that bars people from approaching them, and get involved.
Democracy is our opportunity and we fail to exploit it. In all democratic countries we can freely associate, and parties are not the only form of exercising political will. I will not list here all the other options because they all depend on political location of you all, but do it out of a fun seeking impulse and find out information.
For example, let’s use this Medium thing. Maybe? Unlike the noise of forums or the crappy entangled QA sites or the content voting and sharing tools, Medium is clean and asks for far less urgency. It has this way of enticing well thought replies. We can annotate individual ideas and enrich them, and unlike other platforms, which may be more feature complete, Medium did attract a large enough crowd to reach critical mass.
Do we have a way to tame capitalism?
Sure we do. But if all we do is to keep posting articles about the problems and entice people to “revolution” and start off think pieces with quotes from Marx as a hipster way of being underground, we’re not going anywhere.
To tame capitalism is to have simple testable ideas, and input energy in them getting real. For example in my mind, first and foremost is, as I wrote before, regulation. Second, government spending on commonly accepted utility. Third, revamp the taxing system and make taxes a waterfall of value back into society to counter strike the suction pump of well invested capital.
Taming is hard. We need to be patient with capitalism until it learns a new value for certain common truths. For example, jobs! There is no value in “creating jobs”. Creating jobs is no kind of noble endeavor, because a job is not a desired outcome. A job is something that generations have to do, so that future generations have a chance to not do. Then, the problem is not lack of jobs, but lack of opportunity. Opportunity is dried out by the extraction of value out of humanity itself for the use of a few. Even more, the problem is not unemployment, the problem is lack of income, which can be fixed differently than by pushing harder for more business or making miners into confectioners. Creating jobs is an activity that works as long as there is profit to extract from labor plus innovation.
And this is just a rant on all the things we can talk about in common language, without diplomas on our walls, without experts wrangling forums in expensive cities of the world. From our couches, instead of some Netflix.