Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Ideology and the state vs. markets paradigm

Charlotte Gore, libertarian liberal democrat, has been responding at length to a comment I made on this post on her blog.

Chris Dillow has commented on the G20 protests, and of course manages to be far more coherent than I've been, what with my constantly changing opinion on the matter:

Most of the Left is more interested in smug self-righteousness than in economics.

The debate about what to do now is conventionally framed in terms of the state versus (actually existing) markets - that is, as one set of bosses versus another. The possibility that people can organize themselves - through either genuinely free markets and/or through democratic co-operation - doesn’t arise. But it’s this spontaneous free organization that is the Marxist ideal.

This is what I find most interesting about Dillow: he highlights the absurdity of exhorting people to support one set of rulers (state bosses) against another set of rulers (corporate bosses). All left/right distinctions kind of fall away when you frame the political debate in these terms.

T'be honest when it comes to political ideology I don't give a flying fig: they're interesting things to study in their own right, just as science, technology, business, political economy, and the history of all of these things are interesting.

But do I care to ascribe to any particular ideology? No. Not really. I am somewhat peeved that despite the fact that humanity possesses the technological and economic capacity to make the world a decent place to live for everyone we still haven't done so.

I am mildly annoyed that not every one of my fellow human beings is living the Good Life they deserve to.

But as to means to achieve these ends? I don't know. I strongly suspect we haven't even started to properly explore the phase space of all possible ways of running our civilization, and there may well be ways that are qualitatively better than the current statist/capitalist model of global political economy, but I am strongly sceptical that any particular Vanguard know What Needs to Be Done and have the ability to do it.

As long as our Leaders avoid doing anything really stupid then things will probably turn out OK.

Progress will happen, as progress always does, with many incremental steps and the occasional jarring revolution.

Civilization will continue to evolve.

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