Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Problem Of The Problematic Nature of Competition...

...In Capitalism In The Modern Age.

The main "competition" problem Capitalism has is neither question of whether it doesn't, or does have competition. Or that it is either simply too much, or too little. The main problem is that any of these conditions can, and do, occur in various markets, at various points in time, and it arises from a chaotic mixture of, first, an old Capitalist logic (competition, with both the risk created, and the push for doing better, makes the whole stronger, and justifies flexible reward for taking said risk); secondly, human nature--especially as it relates coming from a legacy of deprivation from the tribal eras of scarcity; thirdly, the rise of the idea to create collective consensus, and then to allow that consensus to drive all aspects of human activity (wherein comes the rule of law, and democracy); and fourthly, the nature of technology to change not only the physical tools, and the techniques by which we use them, but to also change the tools of the mind; whereupon, of course, you then change how we view, and conceptualize our being, and everything we exist inside of.

Quite a mouthful there, but it's just things you already know stated a bit differently.

What we're talking about here is that the dogma of Capitalism has always sung the praises of competition, but the choir boys, being human, shy away from it because; A. It's hard to do. B. Now that everything moves so fast, and is so interconnected, a risk mistake can put you, either individually, or as a part of a bigger group, into a localized cascade event of value fluctuations; the result of which could easily wipe virtually anyone anymore. C. Controlling a market, whether by purchase, or collusion, creates stability, and that, ultimately, is good for everybody. D. Once you collect a pile of counters, and you have come to matter in that regard, going back to being a regular wage slave is impossible to contemplate.

Then we come to what has been called the "Great Experiment." A nation formed by that desire to have things run by collective consensus, and the rule of law. A nation that enshrined some pretty knoble aspirations in a constitution that started with a bill of rights, and went on from there to formalize "of the people, by the people, for the people" into the workings of an entire social group; setting up a governing structure that would seek to provide checks, and balances, to the formation of rules, the presiding over those rules, and the adjudication of disputes arising from those rules.

At the time we started our experiment, I would like to think that these two operating paradigms were seen, mutually, as at least near equals; two aspects of human necessity that simply had to work together, for either, or the society as a whole, to flourish. As time progressed, however, they became more and more adversarial, and not only because one could tax the hard earned profits of the other.

As we've already ascribed to human nature, it didn't take very long for some of the choir boys to see how certain new markets could be seized by the bold and made their own play thing. And it really doesn't matter whether it was in the new steam shipping, or the railroads, or that black, sticky stuff (or the black hard stuff), that comes out of the ground, or bananas, or sugar, or cotton, or whatever else, control could be obtained and junkie sized profits pumped into the veins of your enterprise; which is, of course, power made manifest. Something had to be a counterweight to that and the only thing available was government; inefficient, and over bureaucratic though it might be. Which automatically made things worse for government because now it had to become even more bureaucratic in order to oversee, and enforce limitations on the folks in that other operating system (and let us also not forget that one of the main reasons government is bureaucratic in the first place is that everybody wants assurance that it is doing its job, and not squandering our tax dollars; so of course it's going to be overzealous with procedures with which to track accountability, and who did what why)

With the telegraph, the electric light, and later radio, however, things really began to change; change itself, in fact, became the topic, and all of the bad outcomes that were quickly associated with being on the wrong end of it; as in being quite unpleasantly surprised by someone else's new thing you not only couldn't do, but may not have even been aware of yet. And so the great boogey man of Technological Surprise is born, and now not only can nations not afford to be thus rudely awakened, so neither can citizens either, because something there might represent control implemented before anybody could do anything about it; government or otherwise. And in that, most horribly of all, you might not now ever be given the chance to be "awakened" from.

Government now, certainly, as an operating system, has been encapsulated by its onetime equal.  It still goes through the motions of trying to provide counter balance to the larger system, but it becomes ever more impossible. Not only do all sides try to co-opt it for their own ends, so many of the rules former administrations have added, from the beginning on, remain, and new ones are thought up all the time.

Then you have the reality that the thing they are trying to be a counterbalance to has also grown infinitely more complex; so much so now that even most of it participants no longer understand how all of it works, at least to much of a practical degree. More regulation, or more layers of reform, only serve as new inputs for unintended consequences; all those ripples of effect that go out across all sort of unexpected boundaries, and cause further problems. So, not only do you not necessarily solve what you set out to solve, you create even more difficulty.

In the meantime, since the idea used to be to work off a collective consensus, and since it is information that is crucial to that formation, which also happens to be pure gold, in and of itself, everybody quickly realizes that manipulating it is now in their interest. And because there are a lot crazy people out there interested in a lot of crazy things, we get what we now have as a culture, and a government, and an economy. Oh happy days.

So now we often have too much competition, too little competition, no competition, and some competition, all going on at the same time; causing their own unique blends of turbulence at every interface point one might imagine. And people running around reacting to one, or the other, in their unique blends of approach, limits, and effectiveness; all of it adding further turbulent interaction to an already chaotic, total environment. And the really sad thing is that some of the people at some of the levers of power think that they are actually exercising control, when in fact it is only an effect temporarily in happy coincidence with their desires.

Competition can certainly be a good thing. Assuming it remain friendly. You ought to ask yourself, though, just how friendly can it remain if livelihoods depend on it. How can doing the right thing, exactly when doing the right thing involves lives, or our deepest desires to aspire to be better than just a very clever animal. How can we do that if it risks falling in a competition already framed in the notion of a zero sum game.

Scarcity put us into that game at the beginning precisely because we were so primitive at the beginning. But now we know things we didn't know before. And now we have tools of the mind to allow us to see how truly interconnected everything is; whether you start from quantum entanglement, turn at hidden feedback mechanisms in weather, or biological systems, and stop at the cosmic interactions of infinite branching realities (where copies of each and every one of us might be resonating across boundaries whose permeability we are only beginning to imagine), you begin to see why doing both "seeing past boundaries", and "keeping them in mind", is necessary. Everything truly does affect everything else, one way or another, in one time frame, or another, and will only get even more so now that meaning space (from the minds of all of us meaning processors) interacts more and more with physical space, and vise versa in follow on.

What we have now is destructive on so many levels it is sometimes mind bogglingly hard to know where to begin to in describing it. It is competition run amok, as well as no competition at all. It is responsibility demanded of all when nobody can agree on where any one responsibility either begins, or ends. It is lists of priorities that are themselves in competition, or no competition, when then they should, or shouldn't be. Who can say, as another song of mine indicated, "when you have to pay for voices." (Econo Blues)

This is simply untenable. Let me repeat that. This is simply untenable. It cannot hold. It has become inherently chaotic of its own internal workings, let alone of the chaos it has created around it, and so must also now deal with. We at risk of losing our ability to create collective consensus. Just as we confront general environmental collapse, the disappearance of critical resources, and a rising population. Never mind the big asteroid. Forget about the disease apocalypse. We are our own natural disaster, and you can see the storms of it playing out all across the infosphere now.

We have to start over with how we are to organize ourselves. We have to figure out a way now to get as many involved as possible in figuring out a better alternative. And we really need to hurry.

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See also:

Big Money, or Big Poultry If You Like, Wants Competition...

A note on our lawsuit against Otto and Uber