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11 July 2010

The Tribal Anagorist

I once saw a bumper sticker that read: "I don't have anything against God&emdash;it's His fan club I can't stand." Substitute The Invisible Hand for God, and you have the way I've been feeling lately, to a point. To be glaringly honest, I must say I have never really been intellectually capable of not believing in the inevitability of the market mechanism. On the other hand, I have never been emotionally capable of being at peace with its implications. I want to believe that the market is a human invention rather than a force of nature, but I can't summon up enough suspension of disbelief to maintain that belief.

For the sake of argument, let's tentatively classify me as someone who accepts the market as a reality that isn't going away any time soon. As the gnostics have their "Hypostasis (i.e., reality) of the Archons," I'm burdened with the realization (gnosis) of the Hypostasis of the Agora.

In this blog post I would like to outline my current thinking on how best to pursue radical change with both freedom and equality in mind.

While I'm prepared at this point to give up on giving the Invisible Hand a bone-crushing 'bionic handshake,' I'm still determined at least to arm wrestle it to a draw. Human outcomes should be a negotiated compromise between the reality of the market and the hopes and dreams of humanity (or at least the present specimen thereof); prominent among those being freedom from precarity and the supplanting of competition by cooperation.

While solving the Calculation Problem may be theoretically impossible, I believe we may have sufficient information technology to uncloak the Invisible Hand; making it a visible hand. Even under main$tream economic theory, transparency is a prerequisite for a fully competitive market. I'm trying to build a collection of ideas on how to impose transparency on the world and to monkeywrench business models based on asymmetric information. Readers (if any) are encouraged to participate in this effort at the pubwan wiki. Even if the market ultimately turns out to be something we can't control, I'm nowhere near ready to accept is as something we can't understand, and I intend to understand it at a microscopic level of detail.

I reject as false the dichotomy between 'market economy' and 'centrally planned economy' (or more pejoratively, 'command economy'). I see no reason decentralization should be incompatible with economic planning. Wild Pegasus once ridiculed Participatory Economics as 'making Pol Pot look like a piker.' I see this as a gross overstatement. Although I'm not a peace with economic consumption requiring permission (apparently the case under Parecon), I'm equally not at peace with participation in production being a privilege. As far as I know, all pro-market views equate the 'a job is a right' thinking to what they call 'forced sales.'

So, while I can't with any intellectual honesty fully identify with the NMNS or non-market-non-state tendencies, neither can I have solidarity without reservations with the market socialist and related tendencies. I also refuse to jump on the 'post-left' bandwagon as I find rightist ideas such as the free market to be as inimical to social solidarity as statist institutions are to freedom.

Not so much as a middle ground, but as a reversal of stated priories, I will tenatively start labeling myself as MNNS (market-negative-non-statist). Basically I'm addressing the market mechanism as something inimical to my hopes and dreams, but that is theoretically impossible to dispense with. It occupies a position of contempt similar to that of entropy in my estimation. Maybe instead of 'anagorist,' you should call me 'agoraphobic.'

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