Items tagged with: pluralism

Yanis Varoufakis: (video/lecture)

An Introduction to Pluralism in Economics Lecture Series in the Winter Term of 2019/20

Debates about economic theory are omnipresent. There is increasing doubt if complex economic relationships can be modelled precisely enough through rationality-based mathematical models. Dynamic equilibrium theory and prognoses have often been deficient to anticipate crises and upheavals in reality. This criticism is mostly brought forward by so called heterodox or pluralist economists, who have gained popularity and momentum in recent years. Even in public discourse, questions about a new economic order have become more present. Nonetheless, the progress made in research and the debates amongst scholars are not taught to undergraduate students of economics.

It is often said that new students firstly need to learn the basics before they can participate in controversial discussions. Lectures presenting different schools of thought, the history and emergence of economic thought and heterodox perspectives are mostly postponed to graduate studies - or not taught at all. The lectures series by Rethinking Economics Tübingen wants to change this fact and start teaching a broad understanding of economics. What are the beginnings of the discipline and how did it depart from other social sciences? What can a philosophy of economics contribute to contemporary debates in the field? How many schools of thoughts do exist and what are their theoretical underpinnings? Are economic models the only way to do research for economists? We want to show that studying economics can be much more than integral functions, time series and indifference curves and furthermore give a prospect to what economics courses can be: controversial, interdisciplinary, multi-perspective, diversified and in tune with the latest economic developments.

Borrowing from Martha-Helen at Reddit:
Yanis starts by talking about why economics is not a natural science but a form of philosophy, giving reasons for why economics as an academic discipline needs pluralism. From there, he recalls the history of capitalism, why markets and capitalism do not go together very well (certainly in the long run) and ends his speech on what a market socialist economy could roughly look like, putting special emphasis on co-operative enterprises and a Universal Basic Dividend distributed from a social wealth fund.
A Before Times (February 3, 2020) event, just released on Youtube.

(1h30m) Intro runs 6:45 and may be skipped. Q&A @ 1:13:00.

As befits a discussion of pluralism in economics, wide ranging covering numerouus themes.

Varoufakis begins noting a key difference between physical and social sciences: "in physics, the phenomenon does not give a damn about our models ... whereas within social sciences, whether it's sociology, economics, whatever, the phenomenon really cares about our theories of the phenomenon". As I've been saying, social science's models are endogenous to the subject, in physical sciences models are exogenous.

Another item that crystalised for me was Varoufakis’s discussion of “networked companies” — rail, telegraph, telephone, broadcast, retail, middlemen, and the like. I’ve been realising for some years that all examples of monopoly (monopsony, oligopoly/oligopsony, etc.) I can think of are characterisable as networks. Seems I’m in good company.

Here’s a September 2020 article by Varoufakis that addresses the networked companies bit very close to what’s in the lecture:
Electromagnetism gave rise to the first networked companies, producing everything from power generation stations and the electricity grid to light bulbs for every room. These companies’ gargantuan funding needs begat the megabank, along with a remarkable capacity to create money out of thin air.

The agglomeration of megafirms and megabanks created a technostructure that usurped markets, democratic institutions, and the mass media, leading first to the Roaring Twenties, and then to the crash of 1929.

To re-float the financial system, central banks channelled waves of cheap liquidity to the financial sector, in exchange for universal fiscal austerity that limited spending by lower- and middle-income households.

Unable to profit from austerity-hit consumers, investors became dependent on central banks’ constant liquidity injections — an addiction with serious side effects for capitalism itself.

Consider the following chain reaction: The European Central Bank extends new liquidity to Deutsche Bank at almost zero interest. To profit from it, Deutsche Bank must lend it on, though not to the “little people” whose diminished circumstances have weakened their repayment ability.
Yanis Varoufakis, "This is how coronavirus exposed Capitalism"

Somewhat similar, see my own "Propaganda, censorship, and surveillance are all attributes of monopoly" (discusing communications monopolies), and earlier in Tim Bray: "You [the tech sector] might be evil":
Bray, presently at Amazon, previously with Google, Sun, and DEC, mentions the M-word: monopoly. He does not make the leap I've traversed in the past year or so of recognising that monopoly, rentierism, networks, and power, all appear inextricably linked. That is: networks (physical or logical) are monopolies, and provide economic rents, through the mechanism of power and manipulation.
DEiM25 is the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025, founded by Varoufakis.

#YanisVaroufakis #Varoufakis #DiEM25 #lecture #SocialScience #economics #RethinkingEconomics #Pluralism #monopoly #networks #NetworkedCompanies #power #money #banking #pluralism #UniversityofTubingen #Tubingen

h/t @Sylvia J here

Yanis Varoufakis ~ From an economy without capitalism to markets without capitalism

Rethinking #economics ~ Intro to #pluralism

'A fork in the road is approaching: It will take us either into #deeper #stagnation and #environmental #degradation or to a #society with #markets but no #capitalism.'
#yanisvaroufakis #varoufakis #lecture #q-a #social #science #philosophy #digitization #climatechange #inequality #money #time #space #future #diem25

Bruce Schneier, "IT for Oppression"

IEEE Security & Privacy. March/April 2013
* What is called censorship when practiced by a government is content filtering when practiced by an organization. Many companies want to keep their employees from viewing porn or updating their Facebook pages while at work. In the other direction, data loss prevention software keeps employees from sending proprietary corporate information outside the network and also serves as a censorship tool. Governments can use these products for their own ends.
* Propaganda is really just another name for marketing. All sorts of companies offer social media-based marketing services designed to fool consumers into believing there is “buzz” around a product or brand. The only thing different in a government propaganda campaign is the content of the messages.
* Surveillance is necessary for personalized marketing, the primary profit stream of the Internet. Companies have built massive Internet surveillance systems designed to track users’ behavior all over the Internet and closely monitor their habits. These systems track not only individuals but also relationships between individuals, to deduce their interests so as to advertise to them more effectively. It’s a totalitarian’s dream.
* Control is how companies protect their business models by limiting what people can do with their computers. These same technologies can easily be co-opted by governments that want to ensure that only certain computer programs are run inside their countries or that their citizens never see particular news programs.

Technology magnifies power, and there’s no technical difference between a government and a corporation wielding it. This is how commercial security equipment from companies like BlueCoat and Sophos end up being used by the Syrian and other oppressive governments to surveil — in order to arrest — and censor their citizens. This is how the same face-recognition technology that Disney uses in its theme parks ends up identifying protesters in China and Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York.

See previously: Propaganda, Censorship, and Surveillance are attributes of the same underlying aspect: Monopoly and Centralised Control.

#propaganda #censorship #surveillance #monopoly #SurveillanceState #SurveillanceCapitalism #control #power #decentralisation #decentralization #pluralism
IT for Oppression

Propaganda, Censorship, and Surveillance are attributes of the same underlying aspect: Monopoly and Centralised Control.

All three problems have the same effective solution: Break up the monopolies.

Propaganda is a function of amplification, attention, audience capture, selective promotion, discovery, distraction, stealing the air supply or acquiring of any competion, and coöption of the platform. Propaganda is an inherent property of monopoly control.

Censorship and Gatekeeping are functions of excludability, audience gating, selective exclusion, obfuscation, distraction, stealing the air supply or acquiring of any competion, and, again, coöption of the platform. Censorship is an inherent property of monopoly control.

Surveillance whether of the state, capitalist, or non-state actor varieties, is a function of population and provider capture, coercion or gatekeeping of vendors and pipelines, and, again, coöption of the platform. Surveillance is an inherent property of monopoly control.

Speakers and Audiences --- a public --- divided across independent networks, with access to different editorial selection, from different distribution networks, with access to different input message streams, are far less subject to propaganda, censorship, or surveillance. Epistemic diversity resists control

It's importance to realise that the key is not nominal control but actual control, which may be nonobvious or unapparent to many participants. A system with appearances of decentralisation may well be centralised under the surface. Retail brand labels vs. brand ownership, or Luxottica's stranglehold over the eyeglasses market, for example, give a false sense of "consumer choice" in a case of actual tight corporate control.

Why is this?

What's the fundamental connection between monopoly and control? Control is about maximising desired outcome to applied effort. In monopoly, there is a central focus of influence: the monopolist. Even a very partial controlling share can still be effective. In a first-past-the-post majority scenario such as elections or corporate share ownership, the bloc which swings the majority has control, even if it itself is numerically a minority. In markets, networks, organisations, etc., a single place to permit or deny input or output increases control by decreasing effort and increasing effect. Price and costs often afford control, a faact monopoly apologists attempt to turn into a strength. By offering lower-price goods or services, or facing lower internal provisiioning and operating costs, monopolists can undercut competitors, even without taking active anticompetitive measures such as price-dumping, rebating, blackballing, blacklisting, exclusive dealing, tying, bundling, non-competes, and the like.

All monopolies are network structures with dominant nodes. These may be entry, exit, or transit nodes.

Increasing the number of entry, exit, and distribution points decreases the efficacy of propaganda (input control), censorship (output control), or surveillance (network control), as well as of targeted manipulation such as adtech and computational propaganda (data retention and algorithm control).

Careful readers may note the close correspondence with the ancient trivium of the classic liberal education: grammar (input), rhetoric (output), and logic (processing based on inputs and stored memory). The ancients had limited network control, widespread surveillance to them was exceedingly expensive, though small-town gossips and palace spies offer analogues.

Shout-outs to

* Cory Doctorow (Blogging at https://pluralistic.net -- On Mastodon at https://mamot.fr/@pluralistic --- a great profile to follow)
* Matt Stoller (https://mattstoller.substack.com/?no_cover=true)
* Lina Khan (https://www.yalelawjournal.org/note/amazons-antitrust-paradox)
* Zephyr Teachout (https://bookshop.org/books/break-em-up-recovering-our-freedom-from-big-ag-big-tech-and-big-money/9781250200891)

... and others breaking through some seriously Borked chickenshit thinking on this topic.
Expanded from an earlier HN comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24735860

#propagand #censorship #surveillance #monopoly #SurveillanceState #SurveillanceCapitalism #control #power #decentralisation #decentralization #pluralism
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