Gaius Publius has posted at America Blog asking readers to share their most imaginative speculations as to what might be inside the black box that Gaius refers to as “data trafficking” (and Julian Assange refers to as “data laundering”). Being a speculator is of course not the same thing as being a conspiracy theorist. I hope the comment thread there will be long (both in number of comments and time-span), and intelligent, and demonstrable-in-principle. An expository statement on what inferences are possible given what data inputs. On what business models can be built around what information asymmetries. On what the implications are of the particular combinations of data collections known to be available to the US government, and to other entities.
“Students of economics learn that the formal usage of the concepts ‘inefficiency’, ‘deadweight loss’, and ‘distortion’ in normative public finance refer to a theoretical setting where a private economy is in competitive equilibrium and a government can use lump-sum taxes to modify the endowments of individuals.”—Yves Smith
“I know, for instance, that sales suck dick something fierce. Which is why I’m not looking for employment in sales.”—Clarissa
“Ultimately, today’s World Wide Web happened by accident, and the pessimist in me wonders if a democratising platform for human communication can only be created that way.”—Kevin Yank
“until we can shift the ‘if it’s not making money it’s not worth doing’ on/off button, we’re fucked,, all of us and I’m not talking about you, in the here and now (which is but the symptom) but all the way up and into the very value systems that ‘runs’ us”—Irma Wilson (fb)
“When the dispute over the Means Test was in progress there was a disgusting public wrangle about the minimum weekly sum on which a human being could keep alive. So far as I remember, one school of dietitians worked it out at five and ninepence, while another school, more generous, put it at five and ninepence halfpenny. After this there were letters to the papers from a number of people who claimed to be feeding themselves on four shillings a week.”—George Orwell
“It’s the mind- and body-numbing tasks, the tasks that make no use of my particular mental or physical capacities, that require incentive. (That incentive might be as simple as the understanding that somebody’s got to do it and as long as the crappy work is fairly distributed I’m willing to do my part.)”—Yalt
“I have concluded that most ideas equated with ‘positivity’ by the mainstream are cheap abstractions, bankrupt of honesty and meaning.”—Prodigeek
“Basically, crack babies are a myth and poverty is real.”—N. K. Jemisin
“The business world pays a lot of lip service to Hayek’s 1940s ideas about free markets. But when it comes to freedom within the companies they run, they’re stuck a good 50 years earlier, mired in the ideology of Frederick Winslow Taylor and his ‘scientific management’.”—Cory Doctorow
“Until you can build a working general purpose reprogrammable computer out of basic components from radio shack, you are not fit to call yourself a programmer in my presence. This is cwhizard, signing off.”—abachler
Hit on the head again by blogspot.com’s 4KB comment limit. In reply to J. R. Pitt’s Random Ramblings #5
Is it weird that I’m honestly disturbed by the way anarchists of all sorts tend to disregard the academics and intellectuals? Usually they do so on the basis that intellectuals are “elitist” or that they don’t “fit” within the framework of their version of anarchist theory.
I only got as far as the BS degree. I’m not very academic, but I’m not very anti-academic, either. I know a lot of anarchists have glommed onto the idea of “unschooling,” or being an autodidact. I think that’s great if it works for them, but in my case there’s a big difference in level of performance between skills in which I’m self taught, and ones in which I’ve taken a course or two. Maybe that means I have an external locus of control. I prefer to think of it as a case of “the bootmaker is an authority concerning boots.”
When it comes to anarchist theory, I’m just not very theory oriented. Most theory just sails over my head. My writing on the subject of anarchy is not very theoretical (although I try to make it logically sound); mainly it is just a personal statement that being pushed around by market and state is painful.
Never mind that these are the same people who attack me and my feminist buddies for wanting to strongly reduce prostitution and porn as much as possible, because “sex workers are workers too” – so, aren’t college and university professors workers as well?
They’re the best kind of workers. Too many of them are not class conscious, but that can be said for workers in every industry.
Do academics not have a role in your revolution? It’s this disdain for intellectualism that I fear may kill anarchism (not that you shouldn’t be skeptical of academia – of course you should – but throwing academics under the bus just because they have no “use” to your revolution is fucking stupid). If anything, you should be using academics to help further your revolutionary goals. It’s certainly true that academia reproduces the ruling ideology – “education is imposed ignorance,” says the chomskybot – but then again, it could be argued that “sex work” reproduces misogyny and a commodified perversion of sexuality, yet you, dear radical, have no problem with considering the latter workers as allies (even going so far as to convince the IWW to unionize them!).
In the actually-existing world, academia has the closest thing there is to a gift economy, at least among the shrinking number of academics fortunate enough to be able to do “non-classified, non-proprietary” research. Academia’s faculty governance is probably also the closest thing to worker self-management in the actually-existing world. Tenure is the closest thing to job security. Market anarchists (including left-styled libertarians) seem to be opposed in principle to job security, but I’m not. I wish the business workplace operated more like academia. A lot more.
It seems like the anti-intellectualism might be another aspect of the pacification of radicals, the fact that they’re so quick to disregard theory that would be of use to them on the basis of appearing “organic”. I can’t really speak for the marxists, but I see this quasi-populist mentality with anarchists all the time. They reject Critical Theory and dialectical methods simply because they think it makes them look elitist (despite the fact that the Black Panthers taught dialectical materialism to people who could barely read!) and thus puts them on a higher level than the people they desire to help liberate. The idea shouldn’t be to force theory down the throats of the oppressed (and by doing so, completely negating the experiences of those who have dealt with oppression firsthand) but rather create a scenario where both sides learn from each other. Anyway, I plan to write more about this in a future post.
I don’t reject critical theory (but I don’t capitalize it, either). I simply don’t understand it.
For example, I have over 100 followers on this blog, but I don’t really care who reads it (unless you’re NSA or FBI and plan on using my blog to find personal information to go after my comrades). I don’t do sub-for-sub (or follow-for-follow) and I only urge people to subscribe if they enjoy my content. I don’t need 40 fucking comments on each one of my posts telling me: “Oh Julia, you’re so insightful!”, “Oh Julia, you’re such a good writer!”, “You’re so creative and I agree with everything you say!”, but the thing is, a lot of other people do. You don’t see this so much on Blogger or WordPress but I see it all the time on Tumblr (which functions more like Twitter than an actual blogging website); people will fish for followers and comments only because it makes them feel important. I see it as a showing of how deprived we are of the feeling of importance in our real lives. Whatever it is, it sucks.
That’s why the big commercial websites (which are largely self-contained populations of netizens) are out to destroy the blogosphere, and why there is so much marketing buzz around “the PC is dead” (translation: the QWERTY keyboard, and literate communication in general, is dead) or “blogging is so 2006″ (translation: support for RSS feeds will be discontinued). It’s part of a larger effort called by some “the war against general purpose computing.”
What is your definition of the market?
There’s more than one definition, because the word can be used as different parts of speech.
- Used as a verb (most important usage IMHO): Shameless self-promotion. “In the market economy you have to market yourself.”
- Used as a noun: A setting in which marketing takes place, i.e. supermarket, meat market, flea market, stock market, etc.
- Used as a modifier: A market basket, a market economy, etc. Market economy advocates tend to offer two antonyms for the adjective “market”, namely “command” and “planned.” Naturally, they use these terms interchangeably, so as to give the idea of a planned economy a bad name. Anagorism rejects the idea that “market” is the opposite of “command,” (and by extension, the idea that “planned” is synonymous with “command”) as “demand” (including market demand) is a concept that belongs somewhere between “request” and “command,” and probably a little closer to the latter. Another rhetorical trick of the right is to use the terms “planned economy” and “centrally planned economy” interchangeably; as a way of summarily dismissing the possibility of a decentrally planned economy.
Now to answer the question in more of what I think is the spirit in which it was asked. I apologize if it seems more like a description than a definition: The market is a complex system based loosely on equilibrium, somewhat like the weather. Like the weather, it is a source of precarity and danger in the lives of people, although the forces it controls can sometimes be used in the satisfaction of wants. It is an amoral agent, most likely an unconscious agent. Since humanity still lacks a systematic understanding of its processes, it is assumed by some to be omnipotent (its outcomes are treated as non-negotiable, like physics), omniscient (“prices incorporate all information”) and/or omnibenevolent (the best of all possible worlds), and a quasi-mystical claim (certainly a claim of transcendence) that allocation can be perfectly calculated by the market, while the market is ineffable and cannot be computed or modeled. Anagorism questions these claims.
“Heritage has an ‘economic freedom index.’ ‘Freedom’ has a specialized meaning to Heritage — financial regulation and regulation to protect workers’ health and safety tends to be treated as a decline in freedom.”—Bill Black (h/t Yves Smith)
“The Firm’s succinct relationship motto: Capitalism is a sufficient (though not necessary) condition to destroy liberal political freedom.”—dL
“Quite a few Libertarians work for the government or for government contractors. Money and security trump Libertarian principle.”—Carl Milsted
“If everyone was ‘working’ either producing or selling something, the resulting consumption that would be required to maintain that level of employment would leave us scratching at a scotched earth, wondering where out next morsel of food was going to come from.”—Challenged Species
“[T]he welfare reformers and unemployment haters will not have an answer for you OP, they wont even bother with a response other that to reiterate their belated message to ‘just get a job’…they have no paradigm outside their own little ‘I got mine’ eggshell of a world…”—Anonymous Coward
“If you tell someone (or say about someone) that they should just get a job, as though it’s that simple, you’re required to hire them.”—impudent strumpet