Sunday, July 10, 2011

Distribution of power in society.

The private sector is the dominant sector in our society. As a general rule, I prefer to spread power away from any concentrations. I do not think that there are technocratic issues of talent so much as massive concentrations of power within institutions that create a demand for very specialized, key individuals which occupy those institutional slots. The state, while very large in areas of imperial assaults and maintenance of proxy state power (i.e. Colombia, Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc), is still quite smaller than the much larger private sector. Control over most of the social space resides in the hands of the few, and it doesn't matter if it's Hellenistic Greece or Roman oligarchy or the Roman empire or our current variation on themes as old as written records.

As for markets, closed or open, I am not a fan. I am generally opposed to concentrations of power, and markets are simply mechanistic institutions, as old as settled societies, that are crude tools that at their best, determine prices of things and people (most importantly people) on the simple and archaic mechanics of buyer inputs and seller inputs. The information that gets written off as externalities--which are enormous and far reaching, demonstrates clearly the need for a different set of economic institutions that can more accurately determine values on stuff (services, commodities, et al) and on people. Both market systems and state systems have proven their abilities through politics to subordinate the many to the power of the few. There have been massive successful challenges to that rule, civil rights, women voting, or women allowed to occupy higher slots in the economy, labor rights for the bottom 60%, etc. This has created reformist mindsets that mitigate the effects of each type of system (competitive market systems or more coordinated state capitalist hybrids) but by and large, there has been no attempt at creating a system that enhances local power, prevents concentrations and blockages, and maximizes economic outputs for the maximum number of people.

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