Saturday, 13 August 2011

A Small Bit Of Riot Stuff: A lot of Economic History

So yeah London and some other cities got into a bit of a scuffle with themselves lately, funny stuff that, anyway here is my bit on it, or rather my bit on what other little bits have said with a caveat of my own views on the matter.

So everyone has been rather dickish about these riots, calling for moderation in considering the implications and causes of the riots, and some right wingers have done the usual press buttons of how evil and scummy it all was.

So, firstly with the right: Grow the fuck up, almost everything in society comes down to basic matters of culture and the economy, if it did not then why the fuck would we devote any time fretting about it, this was obviously in part due to socio economic conditions and a vacuousness of any defining code other than consumerism, consumerism allots no room for self decency or the rule of law, its about getting what satisfies you, simple as. As for economics, well, a massive crash caused by unrestrained financial capitalism that has ruined the lives of many followed by austerity cuts that will make the ability to gain those Material goods all the harder? I am not saying riots are the necessary outcome but did you honestly not see some degree of social unrest? Honestly its like you think you can fuck over people endlessly with no negative connotations and that all arguments against your beliefs are all wedged in your failure to properly present rather than the possibility of some deeper flaw to your economic beliefs. You made this problem, stop propogating such wild forms of capitalism if you want any kind of responsibility in society because capitalism, the rule of self aquisition of rescources has a odd manner of universalising itself.

As for the Left: I don't have too many problems, obviously, i am one of you, but yes we don't have to condone the rioters but to stop this happening we must address certain conditions. But there is one thing that is pissing me off, a lot of self styled "radical centrists" (often liberals who want to sound all like they are above the partisan divide) go on along the lines of: "Yes both the left and right have elements of truth in them, I mean socio economic conditions but its not the whole truth...." and this is beginning to get wearing. Because ultimately there isn't anything else, there links to all of this the underlying route of capitalism and how it has remade society in its image over the last couple of centuries in particular, excluding blips.

So firstly economics: This is the be all and end all because scarcity and the concentration of resources define all societies and political systems and this has been the case since the inception of the human race. All our societies gravitate around the needs of the economics of the time. Firstly the tribal system was basically communist because there was no real capital, there was no reason for one member to establish any kind of private property simply because there was nothing to have a stake in that would outweigh the advantages of mutual-ism. I could hoard my berries i collected, or the hut i built for the summer, but where was the use in that? That hut was only there for the summer until we moved, and i would have to devote my time not to just berry foraging but hunting and weaving and all the other tasks which would probably result in me getting less overall as a result, nothing required vast amounts of time to make and there was next to no complexity so as long as everyone had a role there was no point in making artificial barriers that would only delay the rate of resource distribution.

Agriculture changed a lot of this, and from it we can see how powerfully societies diverge here due to simple economics of geography. Firstly this is were we first need a sense of private ownership: Crops take months to grow, and they require start-up investment: House, Granaries etc. They also required a greater division of labour as farms required all manner of tools and items to improve productivity, like shovels and rakes and pots for an increasing variety of products. And this created a greater division of labour as metal was needed on an increasingly large scale and concentrations of artisans were needed for the construction of goods needed for farming, all of this were tantalising targets for the groups that were still tribes and so eventually the farming communities required protection and so we see an increasing size of the population not directly working for the means of their own survival. Private property then was not created as a matter of nature but as a need to ensure that the scarce resources of our system were managed efficiently: Or at least more efficiently than doing nothing.

As early as this we see common scenarios in distant but geographically similar societies. Major agricultural societies based along large fertile rivers like the Nile and the Yellow River became increasingly controlled by a group of bureaucrats who managed massive operations of irrigation, which in turn required massive projects to create supporting transport operations for both goods and labour and many other specialists like doctors. In these societies the bureaucracies elevate themselves to the position of godlike figures as a means of cementing their rule with alarmingly similar religions though these cultures have no direct knowledge of one another. Meanwhile areas like Greece where fertile, open land was more spread out religion was more of a guiding philosophy and the elites became competitive, because these areas were harder to control than concentration fertile regions. We see this as time goes forward, China developed a Celestial Empire vision, their leader is God, and he politically controls the country with a totalitarian fist, which is in turn used to fund massive projects such as the building of the Yangtze canals and Great Wall, both important in different ways. Meanwhile in Europe what developed is a large amount of regional strong men in almost constant competition with one another, they too have a Leader as an almost living god, the Pope, but his power is far more discreet and is often put into repute should certain leaders become too strong. Yes there were churches in every town, but there were many heretics, like the Duellists in South France where I am currently based and later on Reformists and Protestants. All competing philosophies that put challenge to the central authority. Out of this China became a very strict hierarchy system with bureaucrats and the emperor at the top strictly managing the regime. Europe on the other hand developed into a flowing mess of Duchy's, Kingdoms, Dietetics, Principalities, Procterates and Merchant Republics. All with different competing elites that created many small towns and forts, very little standardisation but a lot of laws and pledges and guarantees to one another as a means of creating trust, as trust is essential for any kind of transaction to take place. There is nothing more telling than marriage in this system, as often it was used as a monetary transaction with dowry's,.

What I am trying to get at here is that most of society is largely based upon how our we get our daily bread, and everything else. In the beginning of our history we were at the mercy of our surroundings and so our systems developed accordingly. Its not perfect, but there are historical trends. China never expanded that far south, North or West because all those positions were hard to navigate and consequently became impractical to a centralised authority to govern. We live in an age of course where we have many tools and a lot more hindsight and knowledge to construct our society in a way that is better than the bare minimum of what we are given, and we should certainly aim to do so. But what we have to understand is that anything that occurs within society is a product of the economics of our society firstly, and all other consequences follow accordingly.

We modelled our resource management on a system of supply and demand that we believed could be managed by market forces, which would always balance themselves out. This belief has lead politicians and many people to believe then that what is moral is to simply give the people what they ask for, and what they ask for is always where their money, or their time is. This has lead over time to a rush to the lowest common denominator. You want to know why some riots happened? Its because systems don't balance themselves out in the end, people get richer because some people were smart enough to exploit a free system and then passed that money down to their children who weren't nearly as smart but got a brilliant education and a lot of high level contacts to ease them through life and keep their wealth tap strong. It happened because we catered to the worst excesses of human kind, greed, and populism and vitriol that is spouted out from tabloids  and advertisements and shitty comedy films every day. Are we so surprised to find out that people then act in a base and greedy way?

You get what you give I suppose.