On Mumford and money

[ 15/October/22 ]

Mumford had part of the picture, but missed the connection to the central bit (or rather failed to give it the logical focus).

We are all necessarily strongly biased by evolution to look out for our own best interests and those of our communities. The vast majority of us have both of those motivations, necessarily, though the evolutionary reasons for that are deeply complex.

Where things have become dangerous is where most people see the myth of money as exactly equivalent to the goods and services it can normally procure, and the pursuit of money is seen as an end in itself. This poses existential level risk for a large class of reasons, but perhaps the major one is the need for scarcity for markets to deliver a non-zero value. This single fact introduces multiple classes of drivers to maintain poverty for some, such that the ability of the systems as a whole to extract profit is optimised.

The vast profits available to the military machines of the planet are a part of the picture, but they are effects rather than causes.

There are multiple levels of drivers to humans brains to simplify under stress, but doing so has dangers as well as benefits, particularly when multiple classes of agents are using these tendencies for their own purposes in games that are themselves overly simplistic and existentially dangerous, because they have not thought through the levels and classes of logics or the depths of strategic territory present.

More people need to see the fundamental evolutionary role of cooperation in the emergence and survival of all levels of complexity. And the complexity present in humans is vast beyond the abilities of any human or machine to understand in detail.

Sure, there are competitive elements to evolution, but any level of competition that is not firmly built on a cooperative base is necessarily destructive of that level of complexity, and any level of liberty or security associated with it.

So we need money, and it has to be used wisely as a tool for the good of all, and not seen as any sort of end in itself. If used this way, it can be a very useful myth. If taken as an end in itself, it self terminates any such system – necessarily.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) with reasonable security, tools, resources and degrees of freedom, and reasonable examples of the natural environment; and that is going to demand responsibility from all of us - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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