How to Construct a New Invisible Hand: A Conversation with Peter Barnes

Lambert here: Funny, I’ve just been thinking about how Bernard Mandeville, who wrote The Fable of the Bees — the moral of which is that “the pursuit of self-interest robustly benefits the common good,” just as Wilson puts it — actually knows nothing about bees, and so would do very well in today’s neoliberal economics departments.

By David Sloan Wilson, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Biology and Anthropology at Binghamton University, and Peter Barnes, an entrepreneur whose work has focused on fixing the deep flaws of capitalism. Originally published at Evonomics.

In a previous essay, I announced a new concept of the invisible hand to replace the old and erroneous idea that the pursuit of self-interest robustly benefits the common good. The new version is based on examples of the invisible hand that exist in nature, such as cells that benefit multi-cellular organisms and social insects that benefit their colonies. These lower-level units don’t have the welfare of the higher-level units in mind. They don’t even have minds in the human sense of the word. Instead, they exhibit behaviors that have been winnowed by higher-level selection to benefit the common good. Higher-level selection is the invisible hand.

Absorbing this fact leads to a robust conclusion about the design of our own societies. We must learn to function in two capacities: 1) As designers of social and economic systems; and 2) as participants in the systems that we design. As participants, we need not have the welfare of the whole system in mind, in classic invisible hand fashion. But as design­ers, we must. The invisible hand must be constructed, which would be a contra­diction of terms according to the old concept.

Yet, this does not mean that the invisible hand must be constructed by centralized plan­ning, the main alternative to laissez faire economic policies that is typically imagined. Instead, the design process needs to be evolutionary, iterative, and collaborative, resulting in mechanisms that work like the invisible hand, even though they never could have arisen on their own. This constitutes a middle path between laissez faire and centralized planning that could be a breakthrough in solving the problems of our age.

I have stated the new concept of the invisible hand in terms of evolution, which provides the strongest and most general theoretical foundation that one could ask for. However, the concept has also been formulated by others from different perspectives. Peter Barnes is one such person. A co-founder of Working Assets (now CREDO Mobile), his most recent book is With Liberty and Dividends for All: How To Save Our Middle Class When Jobs Don’t Pay Enough and he has written two articles for Evonomics (1,2). In this conversation, we discuss his own vision for constructing a market economy that respects the needs of nature and society as a whole, using a middle path between laissez faire and centralized planning.

DSW: Greetings, Peter! I am looking forward to this conversation.

PB: Likewise.

DSW: Please introduce yourself to our audience, bearing in mind that while you are already well known to some, you will be new to others. In fact, this kind of “patchiness” is something that I want to explore from a cultural evolutionary perspective.

PB: As an entrepreneur and writer, I’ve been exploring the inner workings of capitalism for — gosh — almost fifty years. Like you, I’ve come to realize that the Invisible Hand, if it ever worked, is now broken, and we need a new one that is suited to our current realities. That is, we need a set of market-based mechanisms that transform the self-serving behavior of autonomous agents into system-wide outcomes that benefit the majority of individuals, society and the planet.

DSW: Thank you! Now let’s get right down to business. I have made a three-fold distinc­tion between laissez faire, centralized planning, and a middle path that needs to be explored. Is this also how you see it?

PB: Yes. I don’t think markets, at least as currently constituted, can self-regulate for the common good, nor do I think governments can plan, much less administer, a vast dyna­mic economy. So we need something in the middle. The first question is what? And the second is how do we get there?

Regarding the first question, what we need are markets in which the interests of nature, future generations and the great majority of living humans are effectively repre­sented. That is not the situation today. Hence we have massive market failure.

Regarding the second question, I agree with you that there’s no time for unplanned cultural evolution, which in any case wouldn’t take place at the necessary scale. We need to re-rig our economy as intelligent designers, using a complex systems perspective.

DSW: Exactly. In my vocabulary, what you call “the interests of nature, future generations and the great majority of living humans” must become the target of a conscious evolutionary process, which employs variation, selection, and replication procedures to hit the target.

PB: The Invisible Hand as envisioned by laissez faire enthusiasts requires competition and prices to function properly. Competition is necessary for efficiency, innovation and preventing a small minority from garnering too much wealth and power. Prices are needed to transform a vast sea of dispersed information into single data points that economic decision-makers can use. But market failure arises when competition is insuffi­ci­ent or prices are missing critical information. And both are happening today, bigly.

Let’s talk about prices. Prices are driven by transactions between buyers and sellers. In order to participate in the pricing process you must either have money to buy or some­­thing to sell. On the selling side, you can offer either your labor or your rights to products or assets, which is to say, your property rights.

The root of the Invisible Hand’s current failure is that nature and future generations have neither money, votes or property rights. As a result, their needs are completely ig­nored by the pricing pro­cess and (absent government regulation) by all economic decision-makers. It is no won­der that nature is trashed and future generations forsaken for the sake of short-term gain.

At the same time, concentrated market power — when three or four companies domi­nate entire industries — leads to higher prices and more money flowing to owners of property rights (including corporate stock and intellectual property) than to labor. Hence, escalating inequality, insecurity and anger, with no end in sight.

The remedy to both crises — destruction of nature and concentration of wealth — is to create new forms of property that represent and benefit nature, future generations and all of us together as co-inheritors of common wealth. This is where system design comes in. If markets as they now exist aren’t sufficiently self-regulating, and we don’t want centralized control by government, then changing the mix of property rights is the only other imaginable solution.

Property rights are critical to our economy and our society. They deter­mine who pays whom and who works for whom. What’s more, they have staying power: once amassed, they are repositories of wealth and power that shape markets and societies for gen­erations. At a deeper level, they deter­mine the direc­tion in which the whole economy moves, as if by a gravitational pull. At this moment, a near-total domination of our economy by the interests of pri­vate pro­perty owners pulls our entire economy toward the goal of maximum short-term profit, which leads inexorably to concentrated wealth and destruction of nature. That is how the Invisible Hand works today. That is how our econ­omy is rigged.

If we want to change that, we need new forms of property rights to complement and counter-balance the old. The new property rights, if we design them properly, will tug our economy toward the preserva­tion and equitable sharing of nature’s and society’s gifts. There will still be profit-maxi­mizing, but its pull on the entire system will be offset by pulls in these other direc­tions. In effect, we will have re-rigged our economy to balance the needs of nature, society and private property owners.

DSW: OK, but cultural evolution, like genetic evolution, is path-dependent process. How do we get there from here?

PB: More than 200 years ago, Thomas Paine distinguished between private property and common property. It’s time to revive that distinction. Private property is rightly allo­cated to individuals in proportion to their roles in creating it; hence it is necessarily distri­buted unequally. By contrast, common property, representing wealth created by nature and society, is rightly shared equally. The trouble is, there is very little common property out there.

About twenty years ago, Nobel prize-winning economist Herbert Simon estimated that about 80 percent of the income we enjoy today comes not from the efforts of living individuals or corporations but from our shared inheritance — gifts of nature plus the know­ledge, infrastructure and social institutions created collectively by our ances­tors. Yet the financial value that comes from our shared inheritance isn’t broadly shared. It flows mostly to private property owners who are able to monetize and capture it in a variety of ways.

But imagine an economy in which common property is much more prevalent. This com­mon property can take many forms, just as private property can. One form, for example, would be not-for-profit trusts that hold rights to use vital ecosystems. These trusts would have a legally binding duty to preserve their ecosystems for generations to come. They would fulfill this duty by limiting and charg­ing for use of their eco­systems based on peer-reviewed science. In effect, they’d be guardians of their ecosystems with control over toll bridges into them.

Why would the public and politicians conceivably support such trusts? A key reason is that they would use a substantial portion of their income to pay equal dividends to all residents within their borders. The better the trusts protect ecosystems, the higher the divi­dends. There will then be a virtuous alignment between living and future genera­tions, and between humans and nature. Humans won’t be any less selfish or short-sighted, but the economic framework in which we operate will push us and our businesses to act with nature’s and society’s interests in mind. That is the new Invisible Hand. At a large enough scale, it would create a kind of homeostasis between our economy, our society and our planet.

DSW: Exciting! This actually appears to be happening, with ecosystems being granted the rights of individuals around the world. What examples have come to your attention?

PB: The Alaska Permanent Fund uses royalties from North Slope oil to pay equal divi­dends to all Alaska residents. In Britain, the National Trust (a non-profit established in 1895) owns and preserves over 600,000 acres of landscape and historical buildings. Just north of San Francisco, where I live, the Marin Agricultural Land Trust owns permanent conservation ease­ments on about half the farmland in the county. In the U.S. Con­gress, legislation recently intro­duced by Sen. Chris van Hollen (D-MD) would cap and auction rights to emit carbon di­oxide into our atmosphere, steadily lowering the cap year by year, and returning 100 per­cent of the income in equal dividends to every American. There are also thousands of land trusts with many shapes and forms. There is no shortage of common property seedlings. What we need now are social en­tre­preneurs to help them multiply and evolve. It is hard work, but it can be done.

It’s worth remem­bering that, early in the 19th century, private corporations barely existed in America, yet by the end of the century they had become the dominant business form. It is possible that, in the 21st century,common property institutions could prolifer­ate in a similar way.

DSW: There is one final topic area that I want to explore. I began by saying that we must learn to function in two capacities: as designers of social systems and as participants in the systems that we design. Operating in designer mode requires having the welfare of the whole system in mind. This is required not only for the designers—people like you and me—but for a majority of the population for any policy that must be passed by a vote. Yet, when describing the market system that you have in mind, you seem to switch to a Homo economicus view of human nature as entirely selfish and short-sighted. For example, you said “we need a set of market-based mechanisms that transform the self-serving behavior of autonomous agents into system-wide outcomes that benefit the majority of individuals, society and the planet”.

This strikes me as not quite right. What we know, from multiple lines of inquiry, is that the majority of people expect to cooperate in their social endeavors and to punish those who don’t. The cooperators expect to benefit from their joint efforts, but that’s a far cry from being entirely self-regarding. A market system must be protected against the minority that is inclined to cheat and free-ride, but that’s not the same as assuming that everyone wants to cheat and free-ride. In short, we shouldn’t need to change our basic conception of human nature when we shift from designer mode to participant mode. What are your thoughts on this?

PB: Like you, I believe that humans are capable of both cooperation and competition, and that that’s why market economies work. The market economy I envision also relies on both sides of human nature. In the production of goods and services, self-centered behavior would still reign. But in the institutions of common property, loyalty to nature, future generations and the majority of fellow humans would prevail.

What’s new here is that the innate human impulse to serve the greater good would be buttressed­­ by appropriately designed property rights and institutions. Hopefully, when both sides of human nature are adequately represented in markets, the aggregate behavior of our economy will have the right balance as well.

That said, I don’t want to leave our self-centered impulses entirely on the side of profit and growth maximization. If we do that, nature will continue to lose. We need to reward ourselves for doing the right things as well as the wrong things, ecologically speaking. That’s the reason for making diminishing use of ecosystems pay immediate monetary dividends to ourselves. Also, it’s good politics as well as good economics to reward good behavior, and if we want to win enduringly on the econo­mic playing field, we have to win enduringly on the political field as well.

DSW: This has been a terrific conversation and I look forward to following it with others who are traveling the “middle path” between laissez faire and centralized planning. Thanks very much!

PB: Thank you!

2018 March 3

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Disturbed Voter

    Expropriation of Church property started with the Reformation. Enclosing the commons, started in Britain, and later in Scotland and Ireland centuries ago. The point of the American Homestead Act was to privatize common property. And currently malefactors of wealth are successfully getting exclusive rights to what is left of common property. How can any political system, dominated by the malefactors of wealth since the start of the Reformation, reverse this trend?

    1. Norb

      They can’t and won’t. That was the hidden power of the occupy movement. Physically occupy space as a means of pressuring the status quo. Sure, the powerful elite can violently move you off, but in the process their worldview is exposed for the sham it is.

      Land reform has always been a major concern of all revolutions. As resources are drawn down, it is probably inevitable that collective forms of cooperative use in all things will ultimately prevail. Look at what Cuba has done regardless of the impediments places in their way.

      When the poor and downtrodden stop seeing themselves as hapless victims, things will begin to change. Of course, for this to succeed, talented individuals with resources and means must believe and act to support and promote this collective vision. Someone must provide support and encouragement instead of just exploitation.

      Another big economic crash will also provide an opening.

      1. Disturbed Voter

        Yeah, there is always some well meaning cadre waiting in the wings ;-( The status quo always reasserts itself, even if in new forms.

  2. Arthur J

    Interesting, but flawed. His assertion that concentrated market power leads to higher prices is simply not true. It might be true I suppose, if applied only to government regulated monopolies, but not to a free market. Intel is a prime example, having a near monopoly on x86 chips for what, nearly 40 years. Not only do they not cost more now than in 1985, the performance of today’s processors is off the charts superior to a real 8086.

    I also don’t think the Alaska fund is a good example either. It doesn’t generate income because gasoline is pumped out of the ground. The wealth comes from the efforts of intelligent self-interested individuals who turn the oil into something saleable.

    A better example would be say the national park service. It derives its income from the park itself, independent of the skills of the visitors.

    1. hemeantwell

      Intel is a prime example, having a near monopoly on x86 chips for what, nearly 40 years.

      Marginal to the topic, but what about AMD? I don’t want to overstate it, but they’ve been doggedly nipping at Intel’s heels for quite a few years of those four decades. I don’t understand how they keep going, but AMD/Intel rivalry on the gaming sites is far from dead. Here’s some of the rah-rah.
      “Now that AMD is getting ready to unleash their Ryzen 2nd Generation CPUs, and Intel is pairing up with AMD to launch CPUs featuring discrete Radeon RX Vega graphics, it’s a great time to go out and buy one of the best processors. “

      1. Arthur J

        Exactly. Intel cannot just jack up prices, because if they do AMD will be there to sell chips at a lower price. Despite the difference in company size, Intel is constrained by the knowledge that AMD is there, waiting.

        1. Jamie

          You make a good point that concentrated market power does not by itself cause high prices. I think it is mistaken to frame the question as government regulation versus free market. Although similar, ‘concentrated market power’ and ‘monopoly power’ are not actually the same. Business that are not technically monopolies sometimes gain the power to manipulate and distort market prices, just as businesses like Intel may dominate a market but not really have such power. It is precisely because of this that intelligent government regulation is required rather than draconian rules simply limiting the “size” of a business.

          1. Alejandro

            Context always matters, and similar to |absolute| {value}, “free” market seems an abstract phantasm. The power to influence {price} is not limited to “monopolies”, but may take the form of monopsonies, oligopsonies, oligopolies… Also ignored by the pseudo-science of exchanges is that the power to tax in any given currency is also the power to regulate demand for that currency. There does not seem to be any stand-alone markets, but links in ofttimes very elaborate supply chains, which makes the “free” in “free markets”a misnomer, and mostly a distraction from how power is exerted. IOW, context always matters.

            1. animalogic

              “makes the “free” in “free markets”a misnomer, and mostly a distraction from how power is exerted. IOW, context always matters.”
              Very good points, Alejandro.
              The “context” of markets is that they exist within a prior context — that of politics & culture. Both determine the nature & functions of markets. Markets may be , from a given perspective, more OR less “free”. However, to merely speak of markets as free (or not) is at best distracting, or at worst (and far more commonly) to reveal ideologic purposes.

          2. Oregoncharles

            ” intelligent government regulation is required rather than draconian rules simply limiting the “size” of a business.”
            Consider the highly-relevant fate of antitrust enforcement. That’s what happens to “intelligent government regulation.” Because it relies on bureaucratic judgment, it WILL be captured. Only a more or less automatic system, like directly limiting the size, will work for very long – assuming it has popular support. I think anti-trust law was a way to deflect the populist movement against monopolies.

            And a consideration: Intel and AMD are in a very new, rapidly changing industry. And there are other chip makers, who could move in on them if they saw an opportunity. I don’t think it’s a good example.

            There’s a price to limiting size, however you do it; it also limits functions like R&D. That’s a reason to move those back into government, which at least pretends to have the common interest in mind. Or there can be separate businesses, like the former Bell Labs. The same applies to functions like finance. There’s a reason for handling them separately.

            It’s really basic economics: you can’t have a functioning market unless the players are relatively small. In fact, that may be a problem with the sort of resource institutes Barnes has in mind; they would have to be governed like utilities, which are “natural” monopolies. Competition only works in limited situations.

            1. Jamie

              That’s what happens to “intelligent government regulation.” Because it relies on bureaucratic judgment, it WILL be captured.

              I understand the difficulties with implementing intelligent regulation. I am just saying, to keep that as a goal is no more pie-in-the-sky than “free markets” or the eco-trusts these people are proposing. For sure, you can’t have intelligent regulation unless you also have complete transparency. Everyone must understand the purpose, both intent and effect, of each regulation. You need popular participation and you need a government responsive to the will of the majority. In the meantime, I would not vote against simply breaking up the big concerns. But if we were able to do that, I would not wash my hands and say, “now we are done”.
              : )

    2. Anonimo2

      “It might be true I suppose, if applied only to government regulated monopolies, but not to a free market”

      That does not pass the laugh test. What about privatized utilities? Tollbooth roads? Seeds? Pharma-patents?

      There is no such a thing as a free market.

      1. Arthur J

        Absolutely. I said “doesn’t happen in a free market”. I make no claim that we have a free market today; nothing could be further from the truth. All of your examples are of government intervention and control.

        1. Norb

          But government does matter. It is what form of government you have, not the vague notion of some amorphous bogeyman. Think of the War on Terror as an extension of this public sham.

          The government is the rule setter, and no market exists without without a “Government”, except a black market. A black market is an illegal market functioning outside government control. So once again, the goal of neoliberalism is to drive a wedge between the people and the government and insure the rule setting is controlled by unaccountable individuals seeking personal gain, not collective interest.

          The “free market” as used today is a euphemism for oligarchy.

          1. Arthur J

            Absolutely agreed. Today’s “free market” is a complete oxymoron. Government is the only mechanism for ensuring the “level playing field” concept, because we have delegated the legal use of force to it. If only we could restrict its control to that, I have no doubt things could be better than they are today.
            Of course the difficulty is in that the government is no better than the people who run it, which is to say humans. I suppose it’s even worse now than say 1860, because it seems unlikely to me that some nobody* lawyer from say Illinois with no money is even going to make it to a party primary, never mind the election.
            I have no idea what the solution will turn out to be, but following in the footsteps of Mao or Stalin, I’m quite sure, is not the answer.

            *I say nobody because as a Canadian, the background history of Lincoln is not something with which I am intimately familiar. Maybe he was famous, but such is not what I was taught in school. Sorry.

            1. Norb

              What cannot be forgotten is what markets are for. Markets should be used to facilitate the transmission of needed goods for human survival. A feudal society has no need for markets. The community structure provides for all the needs, and everyone has his/her place in the social hierarchy forever more. But human society is not static, and must always be changing.

              Merchants and Markets did open up new concepts of human freedom,but now, that evolution is being resisted by the “Market” leadership in the same way the the feudal lord resisted mercantilism. The feudal lords lost and society changed by necessity.

              Our current predicament is that Market fundamentalists are using all their power to maintain social control for themselves. They obfuscate this fact by trying to make the current social order an act of nature or God in the same manner as a feudal lord. Unquestionable.

              Social Democratic forms, leading to a just allocation of goods is the new form that is trying to be born. A rebirth of feudalism is what is preventing this form happening. Just another way of justifying inequality and convincing people to accept their poverty.

              Capitalism is not compatible with a finite world. Accepting that doesn’t mean personal freedom needs to be given up. It only means the responsibilities need to change- for survival sake.

              1. JTMcPhee

                Did the feudal lords “lose,” or did the more “successful” among them figure out how to monetize, rent and manipulate the organs of “legitimacy” (government) in their favor? Or something else?

              2. Steve Ruis

                Re “Our current predicament is that Market fundamentalists are using all their power to maintain social control for themselves. They obfuscate this fact by trying to make the current social order an act of nature or God in the same manner as a feudal lord. Unquestionable.”

                Don’t underestimate the religious elites. They are no less greedy for power than the secular elites. The secular elites are not “using” religion to confirm their social standing and right to rule, they are both using each other. (Consider the evangelical support of Donald Trump, who is not either religious or evangelical.)

                This religious-secular elite alliance has been observable for the past 5500 years or so and is still going strong. Each supports the other so that the elites remain in power and the masses work goes to feed their interests.

        2. visitor

          The “free market” is of a similar nature as the “immaculate conception”: there is not, and never was a proven, reliably documented case of such a thing.

          Markets are socially constructed, highly regulated, tightly controlled institutions — and that was always the case. Where and when they take place, who has the right to participate, what kind of good is allowed to be sold or bought, how transactions are effected, whether and how transactions are recorded, what units of exchange are used, how disputes are handled…

          There is no such thing as a “free” market. There never was. Ever. Nowhere.

          1. Arthur J

            I don’t know about “never”. I think there’s a good argument to make that the United States in the late 1800’s is perhaps the closest anyone has reached in terms of a free market.
            I would also say the we can mark the end of the free market, such as it was, with the introduction of the Sherman Act, which makes every seller of goods in the USA today a de jure criminal, and for which there no defense is possible. That’s getting pretty far off-topic though.

            1. JTMcPhee

              Maybe a “free-for-all market.” Is one to applaud the antics of Gould and Rockefeller and the other Robber Barons, who somehow managed to keep it all nice and legal, see? No collusion and price fixing and “interlocking directorates” and such like to you know, “goose” the freedom out of the market and extract both natural and financial and labor wealth with no freakin’ care about consequences down the road to people not yet born… And the Monroe Doctrine, and lots of little “wars” and “interventions” in “little countries down there” at the instance of United Fruit and other “American” corporations?

            2. visitor

              I think there’s a good argument to make that the United States in the late 1800’s is perhaps the closest anyone has reached in terms of a free market.

              Excuse me?

              At that time, the USA were staunchly protectionist (the victory of the Northern states had even reinforced the historical instituted protectionism); banks had been repeatedly re-regulated since 1863 (putting an end to the rather unstable and crisis-prone “free banking” of the earlier period); patent law had been in place since the 18th century (a patent is, as you know, a legally enforced monopoly); you mention yourself the Sherman antitrust Act, which was passed in 1890; and there were of course local ordinances regarding commerce, markets, licensing of trades, etc.

              Perhaps the USA were “the closest” to free markets then, but (a) this is just acknowledging that the free market did not exist after all (just what I contend) and (b) does not even mean that the USA were close to free markets — how could they, being heavily protectionist, much more than European countries then…

              The concept of “free markets” is, as I stated, a mirage. Economic activity has been very regulated, everywhere, always. Like every major social activity.

          2. Skip Intro

            Recall that for Adam Smith, a free market was a market free from costs not associated with production, like rents, patent licensing fees, monopoly pricing, etc. It has nothing to do with the new neoliberal/libertarian propaganda meme of a market without regulation.

          3. Steve Ruis

            Please point out that the “regulation” is not necessarily governmental (“for the people”) regulation. Often the regulations are put in place by the elites involved. I would go so far as to claim that much of the tax law governing corporations was put in place to benefit those corporations, and much is the same for the laws “governing” the stock and other markets. The elites set things up to their liking and that almost always results in less competition and more guaranteed earnings for them. (Consider the behaviors of the big banks for the recent past. Consider that Dodd-Frank, a weak piece of regulation in the first place, is unlikely to survive … due to the influence of the banks so regulated. Consider the regulations of the coal and oil industries.)

    3. Carolinian

      Yes it’s a bit Utopian and in fact not particularly new. FDR’s New Deal promoted a society of cooperators, enlarged the commons through the National Parks (with the explicit purpose of promoting patriotic social feelings), regulated capitalism so as to rein in its excesses. The problem is getting these ideas to stick since the selfish side of our evolutionary heritage says that individuals will always be competing for dominance. The Randians are not wrong in saying this is the way things are. The reason they are crackpots is that they say this is the way things should be.

      It will probably take a crisis as it always does to bring on our next period of social cooperation. Only when today’s elites see their own well being threatened will they come to their senses.

      1. Arthur J

        I would say it’s not limited to us, and there’s nothing selfish about it in the sense, again, that it’s a human trait. Life on Earth is based on dominance: Eat or be eaten. That’s the way it is, whether you’re a cold virus, a pine sapling, or a human. Sure, it’s not fair, especially to the eaten, but it -is-. You can struggle against it all you want, but you can’t beat down an entire planet, although we’re certainly giving it the old college try. A better solution would be to somehow try and channel that urge into something productive. Capitalism has been a decent start, but it’s no panacea.

        These latest superbugs are, I believe, Mother Nature’s way of saying “Nice try primates, but you’re not actually beyond my grasp just yet.”

        1. Norb

          The problem with this line of argument is that humans are at the top level of the food chain and don’t have to fear about being eaten-much. Our ingenuity even protects us concerning health. Only greed and selfishness hold the species back.

          An argument can be made that the myriad of individuals living their lives in cooperation with others is what is keeping human civilization going, not the aggressive, violent individuals always stirring conflict and war. As a proportion of the population, they are a minority. The majority must be driven to war.

          Neoliberalism short circuits the human drive for creating a better life. The desire to be part of a larger whole. It exploits this innate human trait and imposes a selfish explanation.

          No wonder innovation is dying along with greater numbers of depressed people.

          1. Arthur J

            I don’t agree that it’s a minority. The problem is that the majority, who are cooperators, are silent, and that they are willing to cooperate with the minority of warmongers. Possibly because, as peaceable as they are, they are unable to comprehend the monstrosity of those few others. “Nobody is all bad” is a common, and terribly wrong belief to hold.

            Some people -really are- all bad.

            1. Carolinian

              Bad as in “the Devil made them do it” as Flip Wilson used to say?

              It’s possible that we all have the same impulses and our rationality is what allows us to control them. The fact that we evolved from the beasts doesn’t mean that we are beasts–merely that we all have that aspect lurking in the shadows.

              I’d say the true leftists support social justice because it is the rational choice. Good and evil meant literally are religious terms and often quite arbitrary.

          2. animalogic

            More excellent points:
            “An argument can be made that the myriad of individuals living their lives in cooperation with others is what is keeping human civilization going”
            Whether cooperation/
            competition are equal in humans I don’t know: what I do maintain is that both are strong (inate ?) human drives. Its a nonsense to suggest that both were not important factors in human evolution.
            “Neoliberalism short circuits the human drive for creating a better life. The desire to be part of a larger whole. It exploits this innate human trait and imposes a selfish explanation.”
            Neoliberalism seeks commodify everything it can, to reduce all human relations to the cash nexus.
            To possess “humanity” is a privilege of the wealthy… and as they have little use for it, the “human” in us has gone past its use-by date.

    4. Normal

      The Intel example shows a basic misunderstanding of the IC business. Despite the fact the Moore founded Intel, Intel are not the cause of Moore’s law, they are the recipient of its benefits.

      Moore’s law is driven by thousands of inventions in the IC fabrication industry, consisting of photolithography, masks, process, measurement systems, wafers and other industries. The fabrication companies are fiercely competitive, and are constantly leapfrogging each other to sell their products to Intel, Micron, ADI, TSMC, and dozens of other IC producers.

      Thus even if Intel did have a monopoly, their price/performance history would not be evidence for or against their monopoly power.

  3. JohnA

    In Britain, the National Trust (a non-profit established in 1895) owns and preserves over 600,000 acres of landscape and historical buildings.

    Many National Trust properties have been gifted to the trust in lieu of death duties and inheritance tax etc. If the Tories do success in abolishing such taxes, the National Trust will be a big loser.

  4. Norb

    The crux of the matter is the relationship between private property ownership and collective ownership. The relentless drive of some individuals to amass vast fortunes and power must be offset by some other power. This power process too has a historical inheritance, which provides a momentum difficult to alter. Also, a fundamental property of nature is that it is easier to destroy than to create, giving the use of violence an upper hand in the struggle for determining which process will prevail locally. A small quantity of energy applied disruptively easily brings down much larger structures. Violent people mistakenly believe themselves more powerful than loving individuals, but their weakness is that they are not creators or visionaries. They only take or destroy. Their creations are centered around the principles of projecting more violence.

    Collectivism, in any form, is an act of love. Selfishness, or extreme focus on self-interest, is an act of violence. While some amount of violence is unavoidable for individual survival, violence must not be the foundation upon which your society is formed. The problem today is that violence forms the foundation upon which current societal structures rest. Violence is the foundation of American Empire, not democracy. The path of militarism taken by our leadership will ultimately bring down our nation.

    Modern propaganda relentlessly conditions the population to ignore or misunderstand this profane use of violence. It is why powerful people sheltered from the consequences of violence they perpetrate have no true understanding of what they do. Their designs and policies contribute to the slow degradation of the world, and it is becoming more evident that they are responsible for the multiple systems breakdowns happening today. This worldview leads to a dead end in evolutionary terms.

    The social shift that must occur is that those exercising power must see themselves as stewards of the entire biosphere, not as its conquerors. To reject the concept of “planned obsolescence” which is the foundation stone of capitalism organization and systems. To reject violence as a means of social organization and systems.

    The promotion of collective common spaces is not what capitalist systems do, quite the opposite. There is no freedom in a commodified world. Systems must be designed to make more things “free”. Design effort-mental labor, physical construction labor, and common resources must be allocated to make access to the fruits of that collective labor free or affordable at a price that is just and sustainable. It is a society build on the foundation of trust and concern for the wider common good. Without that, what you have is just different forms of authoritarian states. Is that all we humans are?

    Technological development has lead to the possibility of an entirely new form of market, the market of access. But that efficient and sustainable access is held back by the God given right of aggressive individuals to hoard that bounty. Until that mental block is removed or minimized, only acts of non participation will make any difference.

      1. Mel

        Are we on the brink of a massive spelling flame here? Collectivism can be an act of love amongst the members of the collective, yes?

    1. animalogic

      “The problem today is that violence forms the foundation upon which current societal structures rest.”
      This is largely true & has been more or less, for human history.
      What is different today is that, given changes in attitude, structures etc, there are adequate resources for ALL humans. They should not need to be “fought” over) There are no logistical-resourse related reasons why ALL humans can’t have access to adequate food, clean water & accommodation.
      Unfortunately, to some degree all westerners (& those who aspire to be material westerners) are monumentally selfish, greedy & short sighted.
      The fight to reduce glaring inequality is not merely “moral”: it makes practical sense.

  5. Arthur J

    “Collectivism, in any form, is an act of love. ”

    Really? How about you ask the Kulaks about that. Or anyone who lived in the Ukraine from say 1931-1934.

    Collectivism is a murderous philosophy. Anyone who says otherwise is ignorant of history. As if Stalin didn’t provide enough evidence, Mao certainly demonstrated his love during The Great Leap Forward.

    I think that’s more than enough corpses to say we don’t need to run the collectivist experiment again.

    1. Norb

      This is the definition of collectivism I have in mind while writing. “Collectivism is a cultural value that is characterized by emphasis on cohesiveness among individuals and PRIORITIZATION of the group over self.”

      Nothing works in human society without collective action. Families and local communities depend on that cohesiveness for survival. Nations need a binding culture to form a collective body.

      Whenever Stalins Russia or Maos China are brought up as an example to debase collectivist thinking, the abusive systems that they replaced are always glossed over. I’m sure I would have many supporters among the Tsar’s or starving, landless Chinese peasants. Also, what is always glossed over is that these systems did not exist or evolve in a vacuum. The capitalist ideology recognized the threat and has never let up trying to disrupt and prevent any form of Socialism, let alone any Communist utopia.

      The deaths in Ukraine had a lot to do with being Nazi sympathizers during the war. And they lost. Once again, things don’t happen in a vacuum. Actions lead to consequences, which is a different question as to values and morals.

      So a Neoliberal utopia is the best human civilization can achieve? That is just murderous individualism bent on eradicating socialists, communists, and any other hybrid forms that offer political challenge. All the while, using every available tool to justify inequality and poverty. Feudalism anyone?

      And yes, collectivism, in all form requires love. To love requires trust and respect above all else. Excessive Individualism requires cunning and deception in order to survive. It believes in a chosen people, of which they are the chosen and allows them to easily ignore the view or the plight of others.

      Individuals caught is such a mindset cannot envision a world without nuclear weapons, or the criminality of drone warfare. They live in a world of constant threat and leverage their individuality at every turn. They live at the expense of others and attempt to justify that existence by proclaiming their uniqueness and speciality.

      American Empire gets around these tricky issues by just not counting the dead they produce, or just keep changing the rules as you go along.

      Collectivism is a value that generates a political organization or form. Without proper protection and care, that value is hijacked by sociopaths. That doesn’t make the value unworthy, only the individuals misusing its power and human potential.

      1. Arthur J

        I beg to differ. The Ukrainian’s starved to death because because the “group” in Moscow took all the food and left the Ukrainian individuals to fend for themselves. Anyone who did fend, was shot for hoarding. Nazis were not required.

        “Nothing works in human society without collective action.”. I don’t believe that to be true at all. I would say “Nothing works in human society without cooperation” which is not the same thing at all. Everyone looks out for themselves, while cooperating in endeavors which will improve the conditions of the group as a whole. Prioritizing the “group” over the individual is exactly what Stalin and Mao did. It’s irrelevant what society was like before when deciding on the moral value of collectivism. Maybe it was better than the serfdom which preceded it, but the former serfs who were rounded up and sent to Siberia with no food or shelter to starve to death might have preferred their previous serfdom to certain death which collectivism guaranteed them.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Interesting, how libertarian thought strains, often rendered subtle to pass the stink tests, pop up in any such discussion of the relative importance and virtues of individual selfishness versus “collective and-or-cooperative” behaviors. The “people” of Monsanto and Amazon and LockheedMartin and the other supranational corporations no doubt are working off various “collective and cooperative” sets of behaviors, though only the top few are getting filthy rich while their products deal death and immiseration in large measures on down the food chain…

          1. ebbflows

            Don’t tell him that the use of lamarckism to organize the event transcended any sociopolitical collective nomenclature…..

          2. Rosario

            Yeah, I forget who, but a while back I read someone say that 80% of what we do is already communist it is just a matter of working on converting that other 20%.

            I’m also hard pressed to think of a single corporation that does not operate collectively toward some common goal. The move of brilliance on the part of capitalists is to utilize this collectivism for primarily their benefit.

        2. Rosario

          Brutally imposed economic modernization is hell isn’t it? The impact it has on society is similar whether you do it largely domestically under a communist government (USSR/China) or internationally and domestically under a capitalist one (Britain/USA/etc.).

          I mean, you are aware that we did this in the USA under capitalist conditions and the results were a bit more protracted but similar. How many indigenous people did we kill and displace to expand and industrialize? How many laborers either died by their jobs or through despair from a system that simply sought to squeeze their bodies for labor? How many colonies the world over have been brutally exploited for their resources and labor to modernize western liberal capitalist economies? How many dependent, periphery economies (Africa, SE Asia) continue to be exploited to this day?

          I don’t think it is very useful to attribute the devastation caused by the material reordering (i.e. modernization) of society to a form of government when the results are ultimately the same no matter what the government model. There is plenty to critique about the communist experiments, but let’s not talk like liberalism/capitalism didn’t ultimately result in the same levels of devastation at home and abroad.

        3. animalogic

          “Prioritizing the “group” over the individual is exactly what Stalin and Mao did.”
          Really ? Sure it wasn’t the prioritizing the power of the Party & the State (in that order) ? Any social benefit was down the list.
          Using “collective” in a Stalinist etc sense is to buy into their own propaganda, rhetoric & ideology. In many ways the Stalinist, Moaist regimes are models of an anti-collectivist thought & action.

  6. Pelham

    “These trusts would have a legally binding duty to preserve their ecosystems for generations to come. They would fulfill this duty by limiting and charg­ing for use of their eco­systems based on peer-reviewed science.”

    But wouldn’t these trusts have a powerful incentive to skirt their legal mandates as much as possible to allow for ever greater exploitation of their ecosystems, thus generating higher fees in the short run at the expense of the environment and future generations? I’m not seeing how the interests of generations to come would necessarily weigh in. Any legal requirements could be adjusted, finagled, ignored or simply repealed over time.

    Alternatively, I kind of like Ross Douthat’s recently expressed idea of letting parents have extra votes at election time according to the number of children they have, until the children reach voting age. Presumably, parents would have at least some interest in ensuring a viable future for their kids. I would only modify his idea by amplifying the number of votes — to, say, 10 per kid and maybe another 10 per grandchild. Of course, this could go disastrously wrong.

  7. Jamie

    These lower-level units don’t have the welfare of the higher-level units in mind. They don’t even have minds in the human sense of the word. Instead, they exhibit behaviors that have been winnowed by higher-level selection to benefit the common good. Higher-level selection is the invisible hand.

    Natural selection has no proper conception of the common good. What is selected for is sufficient persistence to enable reproduction. Period. When the initial premises are wrong, whatever follows is bound to be wrong as well. One might as well argue that the “higher-level” selection of euthanasia and race purity measures deliver “the common good”. The only thing that is delivered is persistence of the selected units and elimination of the non-selected units.

    1. HotFlash

      1.) “These lower-level units don’t have the welfare of the higher-level units in mind. They don’t even have minds in the human sense of the word. Instead, they exhibit behaviors that have been winnowed by higher-level selection to benefit the common good. Higher-level selection is the invisible hand.”

      2.) “This is required not only for the designers—people like you and me—”

      Why do I feel uneasy?

    2. Norb

      The power of evolution as a explanatory concept is the notion that the world and all its inhabitants are not designed, but evolved by the environmental forces they reside in. Diversity of species and lifeforms seem to increase with time without catastrophic change introduced into the system. This is what I take the meaning of the common good or cooperation in nature. Complexity increases through a balance of needs and requirements. The world naturally evolves to more species. Life will evolve to fill ever more complex niches. Checks and balances are essential or you will have collapse.

      I think the author is just trying to point out that there are numerous examples in nature that point to cooperation as a successful life model. Neoliberals exclusively point to the predators as the only healthy model for humans. I prefer the Hudson example of parasite, but that is another matter.

      I don’t think humans are capable of eliminating every form of life on the planet, so some comfort can be drawn that life, in some form will persist after our demise.

      Maybe a large human die-off will open the discussion. But that is a large if. Any discussion about evolution in relation to social structures is welcome. It makes people more comfortable and informed. More informed people will enable a refutation of the social darwinism arguments used to justify inequality.

      Science and Religion, Evolution and Religion. When the fear and misunderstanding can be overcome, stronger social structures are possible. They are not exclusive concepts.

      1. JTMcPhee

        John Silber, former president and chancellor of Boston University, one time “Democrat” who ran for governor of MA, and twisted “conservative,” authored a piece in the BU alumni magazine maybe 30 years ago. He attacked all the hippie environmentalists and “anti-capitalist nay-sayers” and those blind idiots that for some reason resisted the goodness of the Cold War and the inevitable destruction of the Evil Empires by the use of nuclear weapons. He called all us mopes “apocalypticists,” and reassured us that “life will prevail.” Even if all humans got killed by nuclear war and nuclear winter. He took as his index of the truth of that claim the recent discovery of varied life forms in the (to us surface creatures) deathly hallows around the mid-oceanic vents, where the water temps were in the 300 degree F range and the water was more heavy metals and salts than H2O. But there were TUBEWORMS! Up to 10 feet long! And all kinds of echinoderms! and never previously detected by Man types of fish and arthropods and little floating luminescent bits! So shut up, you wimpy Apocalypticists! Even if the violent globalist and neocon politics Silber plumped for resulted in a Great Cooperative Terminal Nuclear Exchange, the tubeworms and starfish would repopulate the planet, all in God’s Good Time…

    3. Jim


      You have offered a powerful critique of this article with your insight that “Natural selection has no proper conception of the common good.”

      To the contrary, Darwin seemed to create an almost mechanistic solution due to the differential reproduction of blindly generated variant forms of organisms in competition for limited environmental resources. Functional design could be subsumed a under a lawlike spontaneous process without need of spirits, miracles or extrinsic guidance.

  8. Jack

    “[E]volution… provides the strongest and most general theoretical foundation that one could ask for.”

    Ignoring the hyperbole, this assertion is simply false — and the hyperbole is still breathtakingly presumptuous.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Shouldn’t you explain just WHY it’s false? I don’t think we’ll just take your word for it.

  9. Synoia

    The problem with Capitalism was identified and solved at the turn of the 20th century.

    Large amounts of inherited money. aka: The Idle Rich.

    The solution was also tested:

    Death Duties, or Estate Taxes.

  10. DJG

    Whenever I read about another “Middle Way,” I am reminded that the Buddha came up with one 2,500 years ago. I am also reminded that Clinton and Blair triangulated themselves and are still triangulating themselves into a highly self-serving “middle way.”

    The article makes a distinction between common property and private property but doesn’t address what wealth is. That is a flaw in their thinking. Hannah Arendt distinguished wealth and property a while back, and she didn’t declare herself an original thinker on the matter. She was influenced by Marx, among others.

    It is a lack of wealth that this the problem in the U S of A. The individual household now teeters on genuine poverty, because the upper-middle class, which is the dominant class in the U S of A (the haute bourgeoisie), is looting the rest of the country, by means of pillaging the military, the school system, the endowment-obsessed universities that education their scions, agriculture (as recently shown in several illuminating articles that Lambert posted), and the health-insurance scam that we all live in. Imagine having to pay health-insurance premiums after the age of 65 on a fixed income: What could go wrong with your wealth?

    Also, much of what the two of them are talking about so earnestly sounds an awful lot like France (social state that serves the citizenry, capitalist enterprise not considered central to the identity of France, regulation of markets considered a duty of the state, subsidies to the citizens). Or Norway. Or even Germany. So instead of going on and on about trying find a Middle Way, how about putting together a legislative program based on the Finnish model, let’s say, and get it passed in the USA?

    What is vexing about articles like these is that the next step for participants is to found a Middle Way Institute (and collect contributions), have a Middle Way Conference in some groovy place like Austin or Cortina d’Ampezzo or Aspen, and sell t-shirts. And that is considered revolutionary.

    1. Jamie

      Yes, and wasn’t European fascism called “the middle way” in its day? These two start by framing a false dichotomy. On one side free markets, on the other side, soviet style central planning. They make some good points about what markets need to function well: competition and information. But then they turn their backs on tried and tested “middle way” methods such as market regulation. Market regulation is not central planning. Obviously regulation can be well or poorly done, and the goal of the regulators is always open to political manipulation. But when the focus is on regulating the market to keep it competitive and to prevent (as far as possible) information balkanization, then markets deliver resource allocation quite well, which is all we can ever expect from them.

      Meanwhile, they are proposing what amounts to establishing a multitude of fiefdoms… not a reduction of government, but a multiplication of it (!), based on a fear of central planning that need never be an issue.

    2. Rosario

      Yeah, on thinking about it, your take is a better version of what I wrote below. What the hell is so radical about their perspective? It is already being (or has been) implemented, in some form or another, in multiple countries.

  11. Jeremy Grimm

    Barnes and Wilson should team up and give a TED talk somewhere and go on the road. What’s not to love about a kumbaya economy of cooperation and competition walking along a middle way with new rights defined for the ecosystem and attorneys for Gaia in a beautiful economics adjusted using design through evolutionary, iterative, and collaborative processes? Gosh! Thinking this deep comforts me as would an opium sleep.

  12. Rosario

    In line with the schizophrenic thinking required to function in our culture, I’ll ruthlessly critique this then give some support for it.

    As far as the critique, one problem sentence off the bat:

    “…current failure is that nature and future generations have neither money, votes or property rights…”

    One, yes, that is what capitalism forces us to do to be valued, have money and property (I would argue votes are looked at as a form of capital in our system as well). One look at a homeless (penniless/property-less) person pretty well confirms this. Hence, why communists/socialists/anarchist say capitalism is not good enough (or s*** depending on who you talk to). Two, what about current generations? People in poverty are often poorly motivated by long-term outcomes. They need resources now. This is an ongoing frustration I have when dealing with aesthetic environmentalists. People need to understand how they are directly affected by and integrated into natural systems and, unfortunately, talking about the 6th mass extinction is not a good motivator toward that end if it only revolves around species other than our own. Also, speaking about nature as if it, in some anthropomorphized sense, is being hurt, imbalanced, “altered” is not very helpful. Nature, as process and system, will be functioning long after we kill ourselves off regardless of how many species we manage to bring down with us. I think Werner Herzog’s description of the jungle (nature) from “Burden of Dreams” ( was on the right track. IMO, only by having such a brutally honest appraisal of nature can we properly work with, utilize, and celebrate it. As he said, “against my (our) better judgement”. Zizek (apologies for the haters) I think has an interesting take as well ( Recognize that nature, as we conceive it, does not exist in order to best accommodate it. Maybe also read Timothy Morton’s “Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology After the End of the World” to see how we cannot truly understand some problems/objects in any complete way and that an acknowledgment of this lends itself toward better being able to deal with those problems/objects (i.e. removal of essentialist understandings, ideological motivators, cultural limitations when confronting global scale issues).

    My other nitpick is, they seem to be brushing right up against what every communist/socialist/anarchist has said for generations, “property is theft”, without actually saying so or acknowledging the possibility that the system itself (and the thinking it lends itself to) may be the problem rather than “the types of property” within that system. Capitalism and its market/property truisms are only about 250 years old, maybe younger depending on who you ask. So, I’m not a big fan of deep time extrapolation based on a system that is extremely short WRT human evolution. Maybe we need to go back to Locke rather than Paine. Maybe we need to see the limitations of liberalism, particularly property itself, rather than the forms of property categorized within the framework of liberalism/capitalism.

    Also, have either of these people worked for a non-profit? Some of them end up relying on the excesses and violence of the system to rationalize their existence in the first place (I’m also thinking of the modern phenomenon of professional activism). Often the constraints placed upon by them by the day-to-day requirements of capitalism-getting money to fund operations, chasing grants from government and donations from capitalists, appealing to market whims, etc-make them ineffective at doing what they aim to do in the first place. I would argue, that behavior is, in large part, because they operate within a cultural framework that is capitalist to begin with. So are we to hope these “common property” funds, mediated by non-profits, with, I’d hope, non/soft-capitalist board members are going to be acting in the best interest of their “members”, whoever they may be. It seems like we may just end up with bourgeois board managers of “common property”. So is it really “common property”?

    Now on to my support.

    Within our market system I do think there are potential tools that can undermine capitalism’s brutal efficiency in which it consumes resources and accumulates wealth among a minority, and I think that, at least initially, those tools may need to be defined by the mechanics of capitalism.

    I think common ownership property, and workers co-ops, completely operating within the legal and economic restrictions of capitalism are able to introduce more “property-less” worldviews while still relying on the boundaries of property as required within liberalism/capitalism. Though, my critiques above are the warnings. These systems will need to be absolutely democratic to be effective. Non-profits, as currently modeled, will not work. At least by my experience, and from reading other critiques, current non-profits actually seem to enable some of capitalism’s worst excesses while providing a semblance of social responsibility. All one needs to do is look at a typical non-profit board. Lots of CEOs and business people. When most people on the board are high priests of the capitalist faith it becomes difficult to structure non-profit values in a way that don’t simply replicate or enable capitalist dynamics.

    Ultimately, any solution needs to be willing to acknowledge that capitalism is a construct, not an inevitability, and speaking as if property is an inevitability is too limiting. If we do “common property”, highly democratic non-profits, great, but there also needs to be a willingness to acknowledge that a) liberalism/capitalism for all its plausible benefits to humanity is not “the end of history” and b) we WILL have a different system someday (this is how culture works), though it may not be of our choosing because we have allowed the excesses of the current system to go on for too long.

  13. Patrick Donnelly

    The “Invisible Hand” was Smith’s way of avoiding imprisonment! He could not name the rulers who dominated economic activity, as they would retaliate.

    The “money power” is very old.

    Microsoft is an example of this at work. An inferior operating system that nonetheless becomes a monopoly through buying better competitors. Access to bank lending or the Stock “market” is capable of distorting efficiency in the name of competition.

    To retain this ability, the MP has decided to pump money into the system, enabling their continued ability to manipulate world economies at a time when they should be much weaker.

    Tax transparency, and rigorous money tracing are anathema to MP.

    To find agents of the MP, look to the pointless areas of “fashion”, which create demand, when money is available. Art etc also a way of falsely making money multiply money. Finally, land ownership: they ain’t making more!!!

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