Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Umair pushes back on a comment I wrote to him the other day.

I think this is one of the grand, defining debates of our times ... with the discovery of "the edge" or "peer" or the "bazaar" model of production, those of us who believe in it, still need to orient our political attitudes with respect to it.

Do we remain sceptics, believing that, whatever its virtues, peer is just a tool, hostage to the foibles of human choice? Or do we believe it is, if not a law, then at least a pattern of the system dynamics of economies, as near to a historical inevitability as we may hope for in our times?

1 comment:

John Powers said...

I think that binary opposites are very useful for storytelling. And stories are how people most often think about things. But I'm mulling over the pairing you've made:

"a tool, hostage to the foibles of human choice"/a pattern of the system dynamics of economies, as near to a historical inevitability as we may hope for in our times."

When I think of tools, I'm afraid what comes to mind are rather simple ones, for example hammers and trowels. Whereas when I think of patterns or "paradigms" the images that comes to mind aren't so simple. I admit that my casual thinking doesn't "have" to be that way, but the point is that your binary pairing really doesn't seem opposite to me.

Now evil/good is a hoary old pairing. So I'm not surprised that deep as Umair Haque is into it that he's "gotten a little angry about the ways in which business is failing us."

I do imagine that the operating system people operate under is undergoing a paradigm shift. But I'm skeptical that economics really provides "facts" in the way that Umair imagines them.

One of the interesting questions of "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" is "Why are social/behavioral sciences so immature?" (And then what to do about it?)

I'm sure I'm missing all sorts of insight, but it seemed to me when I read the book long ago, that Kuhn was skeptical that all we needed to do was to invent a "new paradigm" for the social and behavioral sciences. One reason for the skepticism was the social matrix of knowledge in general. New paradigms are revolutionary, but not outside of history.

For Haque "good" beats "evil" ergo successful businesses will be good. But the problem of evil is harder than that. Not everything people do is the result of a rational choice IMHO.

I don't have the link, but somewhere you said (from my my memory): "metaphors hide as much as they reveal."

My problem with the "good and evil" metaphor is it tends to confuse the very important ethical conundrums at the "edge" of economics. For example the points raised by John Broome about the ethics of climate change. Some issues require ethical decisions not economic decisions.

As for your binary opposites, I can't seem to think of a good one, but my sense is that Netocracy somehow stands at odds with Haque's "edge strategies."