Pursuing our discussion of various kinds of truth, and tying it into the recent economic upheavals, in which we discuss how, perhaps, attempting to feed and house billions of people with numbers on a screen may be a slightly unrealistic notion.  I’m a big believer in the power of extended metaphors, but even I need to eat, occasionally.

podcast page here

Direct download: TME32-SMTM.mp3

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10 thoughts on “The Mosaic Effect 32: Show Me The Money!

  1. Thank you! Very interesting and lucid, to one such as I, with minimal knowledge of economics.

    I remember Ken Wilber talking about how cultures evolve economic systems to support the level of spiritual development they’re at. The rational 18th and 19th Century kick-started the Industrial Revolution, which provided lots of cheap, material goods, medicines, etc.; now we’re supposedly in the post-modern information age, where people believe abstract entities such as websites are actually worth cash.

    Do you think it’s likely that the ideas and activities beloved of many of the visitors to your site will ever become the mainstay of the economy? I’m talking about things like meditation, trying to get enlightened, psychic experiences, religious experiences, etc. Let’s face it: these are fringe pursuits at the moment. My experience of teaching meditation led to astonishment at how poorly motivated people are on the whole. Folks only seem to want to give me money for making their computer work, rather than pointing them towards samadhi. This is very sad, and the enduring bane of my existence.

    In a better culture than ours, Zac, you’d be a renowned lecturer. I once tried the academic route. I don’t know how it is in your part of the world, but the bullshit that’s peddled as ‘academia’ soon put paid to that.

  2. that “abstract ideas” “post-industrial” notion proves to be a bunch of crap every time as far as i can tell. The iPod design might be worth $2billion, with each one costing $3 and selling for $300, and the iPhone might be worth a comprable ratio, but all it takes is a one dude to reverse engineer it and suddenly that “billion-dollar idea” and “added-value branding” has a clone going for 30% its price. Whoops. I mean, look at the kid who hacked the iPhone–he got a new car out of it, proving that the iPhone’s market value, once the veil of secrecy drops, is far, far less than imagined.

    That, and the “post-industrial” conception ignores that levels of “consciousness” and material development don’t supercede each other, they stand on top of one another. We still need someone to manufacture those iPods and we still need them to do it at or near cost. We just assume because it’s Someone Else Somewhere Else that suddenly we’re “post-industrial” and the laws of supply and demand have gone on a holiday while earth becomes paradise for designers and brand coordinators. wrong. If anything it’s hedge fund managers and fast-food workers in this new Gilded Age. It’s the same as ignoring development, technology, and “education” (in the economist’s sense) in Africa. Someone Else, Somewhere Else. Arguably that is what all liberal societies do–marginalize. Outsource the crap. Got a huge prison population? Indenture them and ship them off to the New World and Australia along with a bunch of slaves. Got a serious global spritual crisis that’s got your powers that be turned into pedophagic madmen? Ignore it and call anyone who talks about it a “dirty hippie” at best and a lunatic at worst. Got a mineral rich continent using extremely inefficient forms of labor? Don’t sell them tools or encourage indigienous entrepenuership, exploit the cheap labor, after all it’s cheap because it’s inefficient. Someone Else, Somewhere Else.

  3. I agree – after all, ain’t Wilber’s development model holonic?

    On another note (sorry for using your site as a messaging service zac) what’s happened to your site Lab? I do miss it.

  4. Well said, Lab!

    Reminds me of another ‘Wilber moment’, though – where he argues that it’s okay for the Dalai Lama to eat meat, because it’s cold in Tibet and you’ve got to keep your strength up, and the presence of one Dalai Lama in the world is worth a whole wack of yak carcasses…

  5. I don’t know. In many ways it seems to me that the economy is its own being. It’s a system that is alive, and one which we have developed a symbiotic relationship with. Okay – so that sounds obvious.

    But look at it this way; most systems of thought end up altering a groups or individuals consciousness at a very deep level – mind-programming so to speak. I would suggest that this is what has happened with our current civilization; the entire economy has long gone beyond what is needed to efficiency support humanity – and moved into the realms where we need to support that system rather than it support us.

    I have long believed that any system that we as an individual or culture pour enough energy into will take on its own existence.

    Some people view the entire economy fast as a power created for the elites to be used by the elites. I would suggest that at some point in recent history it all got turned about. That our ‘belief’ in the system is so deep-set that it has altered our very awareness and perception. For the most part we can no longer see any other way…

    From the outside looking in – I image it would all appear very odd indeed.

  6. well, lets see

    – the occult economy: not only do i think it will be the mainstay of the economy, but I am quite certain that the creative psychic potentials of the human being are the basis of all true economic progress there has ever been. once people swing back around to the idea that a physical economy, which requires conceptual innovation, is what we need, then it’s a logical next step to move the experts on that into a central place. right back round to the shamanic economy, yo.

    -Someone Else, Somewhere Else. yes. what he said. I can’t do the wall street occultist rant better than a wall street occultist. I’m on the opposite coast, after all. we just smoke weed over here. the only externality is a population of stoned people who want to go to burning man.

    -the dalai lama. people tend to forget that the office of the dalai lama was invented by gheghis khan, to reign in disorderly tibetan buddhists. leave the fucking yaks alone. they spit. kundun can pull his own goddamn weight.

    binni: might take me a while to break that down. hindu vendanta probably does the best treatment of those differences, in general. try the upanishads.

    BTW: I’m more than willing to be merely a modestly-paid lecturer. feel free to book me…

  7. I know you didn’t ask this question of me Binni, but I’d like to put this out there. Hope neither you nor zac mind too much:

    Consciousness: The experience of existing.

    Awareness: To know, learn, understand etc. the experience of existence / consciousness.

    Spirit: Spirit links your non-physical form (soul) to your physical form (body). It is an ethereal energy. So it takes an imprint from both the soul and the body. Whilst it remains within the body it carries aspects of your personality with it. Unlike the soul it doesn’t move to another life after death.

    Soul: Is the energy ‘life-force’ that resides within your being at every level. I believe that this is the energy that moves from lifetime to lifetime – it’s ‘reincarnated’ so to speak. The soul takes ‘imprints’ from the personality – but on a far more subtle level than the spirit does.

    On an aside wrote more on distinctions between awareness and intellect here:

    http://www.thethoughts.co.uk/thoughts/intellect-intelligence-and-awareness/

  8. Something you and your readers might be interested in reading is ‘The Shock Doctrine,’ by Naomi Klein. There’s a promotional video for it made by some of the folks who made ‘Children Of Men,’ which is a pretty good distillation of the ideas of the book.

    It’s basic black-magick-y stuff: Wait until the populace is freaked out over something, and then introduce radical economic policies which pass into legislation in the time of shock. Klein’s metaphor is that of electroshock therapy, and some of her concrete examples are 9/11 and the recent Indonesian floods.

    Look it up. 🙂

  9. Just reacting to your podcast: Valuation of things (food, crops, services, material goods) is generally sane in practice. Fads come and go (and are manipulated, of course), but mostly capitalism works in that regard.

    The speculative problem (ARMs, so forth) is a real problem and should never have happened to begin with, but did because it’s possible. Possibility is what created the problem, subsequent to deregulation. Basically, it’s a new problem. You might be young enough to not see it that way, but it’s true. Once upon a time we had much more sane regulatory limits.

    But there’s an important element to consider, that’s laid out in books like Hawen’s ‘Natural Capitalism:’ Internalized costs. Products have associated costs of production. A true cost of production reflects the true value of the material used IN production. A false cost doesn’t reflect this, and is usually lower than it should be, due to externalized costs.

    An example of an externalized cost goes like this: You build a paper mill that spews pollution into the river. Some local people band together and demand that you clean up the pollution. You declare bankruptcy and the mill goes out of business. You have effectively externalized the cost of cleaning up the pollution. If the cost of cleanup were internalized into the production process, the cost of the product would go up and reflect the product’s true effect on the world.

    In the podcast, you talk about currency reflecting the value of something tangible, like grain. The fact of the matter is that products themselves reflect the value of the material and labor from which they’re created. A t-shirt made in a sweatshop in China reflects the value it’s seller (and buyer) have for those Chinese workers. All the costs internalized into the t-shirt include low wages, forced living conditions, physical threats against unionization… That’s all woven into the fabric.

    And there’s one other important thing… 🙂

    You give Africa as an example of a lost opportunity for advancement. In fact, China is helping them in exactly the way you describe. They’re aiding Africa, while the West is stuck in the imperialist model.

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