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Capitalism Does Not Exist

MatthewPirkowskiMay 2, 2019, 4:57:51 PM

The frame of "capitalism" is–historically and conceptually–a narrative construction of socialist ideology. Capitalism, per se, is a fictional foil–and it is therefore wise to avoid using the term whenever possible.

Those naive enough to believe in the reality of this narrative construction fail to acknowledge that the word "capitalism" serves as a mere placeholder for observations concerning universal information-theoretic processes that humanity has codified and rationally amplified. Ideologues use this word–naively–as shorthand to encapsulate humanity's unique capacity to consciously harness the power of universal patterns and tendencies, while remaining insufficiently capable of demonstrating stability and balanced wisdom when confronted by the inevitable externalities that flow from crudely wielding such power.

Yet, as with all complex systems, unrestrained growth without consideration for the fundamentally self-terminating nature of exponential treadmills will increasingly generate both frustrations (technically speaking) and inequalities within any and all systems.

It is unfortunate that we've so deeply sown the seeds of socialist ideology along our particular historical path, though it likely exemplifies an inevitable reactionary impulse to the exponentially rising complexity within humanity's ecological niche. As such, the fundamental precepts of socialism reflect and encode our desire to shrink pathetically away from the challenges that come part-and-parcel with navigating the ever-increasing complexity before us. It is this cowardice that the ideologically-minded socialist cloaks–from both themselves and from those to whom they proselytize–in naive rhetoric about the greater good. And that is all it will ever be: rhetoric with no chance of meaningful improvement, because it is at heart a turning away from the challenges beset us by the structure of the universe itself.

That said, it remains blindingly obvious that humanity must manage the tension between individual autonomy and collective agency. This is the axiomatic riddle of evolutionary coherence with which our universe confronts all temporarily stable unities of emergent complexity. In this vein, consider the evolutionary structure of the nervous system itself, conserved widely across nearly all complex life forms: a balance between central and peripheral processing, pushing as much computation as possible to the edges of the network, yet still relying upon centralized coordination and information processing such that the higher-order organism can discover and put to use novel adaptive value–via agentic behavior at its own spatiotemporal scale–beyond that which any individual cell may achieve within its local sphere of influence.

Notice: the emergence of such patterns need not require top hat wearing, bespectacled neurons hoarding resources.

If the word capitalism holds value at all, it does so in its communication of our symmetry with the dynamical patterns shared by all evolutionarily coherent adaptive systems. It is from the perspective of information processing, rather than that of physical possession, that we should therefore interpret capitalism's etymological roots in language associated with the head. One may more effectively understand the patterns so oft decried as a function of capitalism–supposing one can sufficiently scale out their temporal vantage point–as a period of evolutionary history in which humanity networked itself into highly-centralized, dense systems of locally distributed information processing, akin to the emergence of collective brains. Now, we face a problem: the innovations produced by these emergent minds have unleashed an order of magnitude greater complexity than is possible to process given their present degree of centralization and the limitations imposed by their memetic inertia. This fundamental mismatch represents the fountainhead from which all other challenges–including those of coherent collective action–flow.

We must therefore seed novel patterns of processing, communicating, and acting upon information that empower humanity to break the memetic and game-theoretic barriers precluding the emergence of systems capable of processing–at both individual and collective scales–high dimensional symbols of value across extended time horizons, rather than the unidimensional abstract symbols and high time preferences to which we've adapted culturally, and have amplified technologically.

Yet to grow in a healthy manner, such seeds must leave the concepts of capitalism and socialism behind.

That is the story of humanity's next 25-50 years

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