20210425 – Capitalism A short History
The main idea here is to review classic analysis of capitalism as presented in works of Marx, Weber, and Schumpeter, history of this economic system as it was developing in the few key representative societies, its current variety of forms, and trends such as globalization, financialization, and symbiosis with government that to significant extent defines contemporary life.
I. What Does Capitalism Mean?
The Emergence of a Controversial Concept
Author begins by discussing origins and history of term capitalism and concludes by stating:” Individualized property rights; commodification on markets for goods, labor, land and capital; the price mechanism and competition; investment, capital, and profit; the distinction between power-holding proprietors and dependent propertyless wage workers; tensions between capital and labor; rising inequality; the factory system and industrialized production—these were, in varying combinations, major characteristics of the concept of capitalism as it emerged in the period leading up to World War I.”
Three Classics: Marx, Weber, and Schumpeter
Here author reviews ideas of three economists of XIX – early XX century that had big impact on understanding of capitalism.
He summarizes Marxian concept of capitalism in four points:
- Market with division of labor and money economy
- Accumulation of capital
- The core of mode of production – tension between owners of means of production and labor
- Dynamism of the capitalist system that constantly destroys old and creates new
Then author reviews ideas of Max Weber who treated capitalism as part of modernization with:” economic action was characterized by competition and exchange, orientation to market prices, the deployment of capital, and the search for profit.” Weber also went beyond pure economics linking capitalism to Protestant ethics.
Finally. author discusses ideas of Joseph A. Schumpeter, who defined capitalism this way:” “Capitalism is that form of private property economy in which innovations are carried out by means of borrowed money, which in general, though not by logical necessity, implies credit creation.” He also stressed capitalism’s dynamic development that leads to creative destruction.
Other Voices and a Working Definition
In this last part of the chapter author briefly reviews ideas of Keynes, Polanyi, Braudel, and a few others, and concludes with his own definition:” I propose a working definition of capitalism that emphasizes decentralization, commodification, and accumulation as basic characteristics. First, it is essential that individual and collective actors have rights, usually property rights, that enable them to make economic decisions in a relatively autonomous and decentralized way. Second, markets serve as the main mechanisms of allocation and coordination; commodification permeates capitalism in many ways, including labor. Third, capital is central, which means utilizing resources for present investment in expectation of future higher gains, accepting credit in addition to savings and earnings as sources of investment funds, dealing with uncertainty and risk, and maintaining profit and accumulation as goals. Change, growth, and expansion are inscribed.”
2. Merchant Capitalism
In this chapter author discusses early forms of economy with at least some capitalist characteristics:” economy and commercialization of everyday life in the big cities reached a high level, long-distance trade in foodstuffs and luxury goods flourished, the large latifundia produced for the market at a profit, and economic transactions like the sale or lease of land took place on a contractual basis aided by precise calculations. There was also no lack of more or less free wage workers. Yet on the whole the subsistence economy was predominant, slave labor was widespread, and “the strong drive to acquire wealth was not translated into a drive to create capital” (Moses Finley). The orientation toward secure rents was more widespread than the drive for profit. Productivity growth and macroeconomic growth were kept within limits, and the orientation toward war and booty was still stronger than the orientation toward long-term market success.
China and Arabia
Here author reviews early Chinese form of capitalism under dominance of Confucian ideology: “The Confucianism practiced by the civil servants who exercised political power included such elements as a rejection of pronounced inequality and hence of too much independent wealth, the promotion of agriculture, and state controls over money, the credit system, and trade. These controls extended as far as a willingness to operate estates, supply depots, and workshops under state management. Buddhism, which started in India and spread out from there to places in Asia where it was practiced above all by traders and merchants, had a more positive attitude toward commercial activity.”
Somewhat different development occurred in Arabia, when early form of capitalism was based mainly on the long-distance trade. The trade was encouraged by Islam but hampered by limitation on credit.
Europe: Dynamic Latecomer
Development in Europe was similar to Arabia with main form being long-distance trade, but often in more complex and capital demanding form of maritime trade, which caused development of port cities and variety of financial tools such as insurance. It also prompted creation of trade alliances such as Hanse League. Author discusses European development in more detail, stressing that unlike other places traders were somewhat more interconnected with states:” State formation and the origins of financial capitalism were closely connected, and the nexus provided a way for prosperous urban citizens in high finance, a small elite, to establish their influence on politics while simultaneously making their entrepreneurial success dependent on powerful rulers and their shifting political fortunes.”
Interim Findings around 1500
Here author summarizes his views on developments before 1500 AD and states that:” The merchants who supported capitalism in Europe, or at least their leading representatives, exercised direct influence on politics—in part via a symbiosis with rulers in the city-states and free cities that had civic rule, in part through close ties to those exercising political power and in need of financial support, in part through formal self-organization (guilds). By contrast, merchants in China, as well as in Arabia and India, were confined to the antechamber of power and were much less engaged in financing state formation than was the case in Europe. This explains how, in the final analysis and in spite of many countervailing trends, politics in Europe was decisive for promoting mercantile dynamism and a capitalistic kind of accumulation. By contrast, Chinese politics, although it initially allowed and supported commercial dynamism and major developments in accumulating large amounts of capital to inch forward a bit, then became strong enough and mistrustful enough to restrain both of these trends so that finally, when both domestic and foreign policy changed, these economic forces were ultimately thwarted.”
The point author makes here is:” The rise of capitalism, the development of powerful territorial states, and the expansion of Europe that led to colonialism were all contingent on each other.”
Business and Violence: Colonialism and World Trade
This is about a very interesting and unusual form of European expansion and colonialism when use of military superiority led to expansion of trade by corporations and individuals, rather than to just plain robbery by the state as was historically the case. Author briefly reviews types of goods traded and geography of goods flow.
Joint-Stock Company and Finance Capitalism
This is about corporate forms and financing of this trade expansion and author uses Dutch United East India Company as representative example. Author also discusses here development of banking as tool necessary to support increasing long-distance trade.
Plantation Economy and Slavery
In his discussion of slavery and plantation author mercifully avoids idiotic claim that western wealth and economies are created by slave labor and provides more or less reasonable point:” Slavery has a long tradition in many regions of the world. In the eighteenth century there were as many slaves in Africa itself as in America. But under the influence of capitalism, slavery not only increased enormously in scope; it also, in connection with the harsh work discipline typically appertaining to this economic system, took on a special brutality. One cannot say that capitalism would not have developed further without its centuries-long connection to slavery. Nor is it a tenable thesis to claim that industrialization since the late eighteenth century was fed by the gigantic profits of the slave trade, as incontestable as the multiplier effects are that emanated from it into other branches of trade, the textile business, shipbuilding, and other sectors of the economy in western European countries. But if one wants to understand what it means to say that capitalism came into the world bloody and dirty, it is necessary to keep an eye on its relationship to slavery and other forms of unfree labor.”
Agrarian Capitalism, Mining, and Proto-Industrialization
Here author discusses initial development of capitalism into agriculture when production shifted away from subsistence level to market oriented monetarized forms, which author traces based of history of Europe when industrialization of England and later Germany was supported by agricultural specialization of East European countries like Poland and Russia. Author limits this by time frame of initial development that he calls proto-capitalism and proto-industrial period.
Capitalism, Culture, and Enlightenment: Adam Smith in Context
This chapter is quite interesting because it connects culture and its change with typical capitalistic development such as freedom of individual movements, speech, property rights, contracts, and foundation of all this – enlightenment ideas and literacy and numeracy necessary for effective functioning of society based on trade and industrial production. From this cultural development author expresses his attitude to ideas of “Great Diversion” between Western Europe and others:
4. The Capitalist Era
This part is about contemporary capitalism and attitudes to it, which fluctuates between acceptance and criticism all the way to rejection.
The Contours of Industrialization and Globalization since 1800
Here is how author characterizes changes inflicted on capitalism by industrialization:
1. Wage labor on a contractual basis turned into a mass phenomenon.
2. With factories, mines, and new transportation systems, with mechanization and the expansion of manufacturing plant, the accumulation of fixed capital reached a scale like nothing before. Alongside the numerically dominant small and medium-size businesses, large concerns and mergers came into being.
3. Technological and organizational innovations became incomparably more important than they had been in preindustrial varieties of capitalism. There was now a faster pace of innovation. In Schumpeter’s analysis, “creative destruction” has been the core component of the capitalist production method… “constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones.” This contributed to the unpopularity of capitalism, and certainly to its continually renewed delegitimization, most apparent during capitalism’s big, recurring crises, such as the ones that broke out in 1873, 1929, and 2008.
4. These crises usually arose out of excessive speculation and erroneous trends in the financial sector, yet they also affected the “real economy.” They imperiled not only a few speculators but also the life chances of broad sections of the population, and they could lead to profound social and political disruptions. Crises thus brought home another thing that distinguished capitalism in the age of industrialization from previous variants: namely, that it had become the economy’s dominant regulatory mechanism, intensively influencing society, culture, and politics all at the same time.
From Ownership to Managerial Capitalism
Here author reviews consequences of enterprise growth to such extent that they are owned by the multitude of stockholders and run by professional management, rather than owners, consequently completely changing structure of business and motivation of people in control.
Here author discusses financial side changes specifically in three respects:
- Globalization of finance and cross border capital flows and currencies exchanges
- Huge growth in outstanding credit, including government debts all over the world
- Shift of power away from business managers to financial managers
Work in Capitalism
Author expresses his view on wage labor as the central form of work in capitalism and these reasons for this:
1. For one thing, the trend toward comprehensive commodification represents a key component of the capitalist system, and wage labor is the most consistent application of this principle to human labor (although not the only one).
2. For another, in spite of numerous exceptions and countervailing tendencies, in the long run wage labor has become and is becoming more extensive and widespread, and not just in the course of capitalist industrialization in the West but (in the meantime) worldwide. As capitalism, industrial capitalism in particular, has widened and deepened, wage labor became, and is still becoming, step by step, the prevailing form of work, although it appears in many forms and combinations. This had, and still has, something to do with the fact that free wage labor on a contractual basis corresponds best, in principle, to the particular kind of instrumental rationality inherent in capitalist enterprises. For, unlike workers who perform bonded labor with their entire person over long periods of time (such as slaves), wage workers who are contractually obligated to perform certain services temporarily but are otherwise free as well as terminable—wage workers like this allow businesses and employers to recruit, shift, and if need be also quickly dismiss employees with a view toward entrepreneurial objectives. This is advantageous to the company’s interest. Under conditions of developed, differentiated labor markets, and in the face of rapid economic change as capitalist normality, it was and is in the interest of capitalist actors to prefer wage labor to unfree labor.
3. Finally, it should be taken into consideration that an employment relationship under wage labor can be terminated by the worker as well as by the employer. The employment relationship may subjugate the worker’s labor power, but not his or her entire person, to the employer’s order-giving authority and the constraints of the enterprise. This is an important and coveted element of freedom. The transition to wage work could and can have a liberating effect, even though entry into such an exchange relationship of work for wages is frequently a matter of urgency for the worker on sheer grounds of survival, and although the employment relationship, once accepted, is usually characterized by much control and discipline. This social and legal quality distinguished and still distinguishes wage labor, in principle, from the different forms of unfree labor, and this distinction needs to be taken seriously from the standpoint of life histories and historiography.
He then discusses changes in the nature of labor that occur now due to increases in productivity, massive government intervention combined with labor movement fighting business that led to constant vacillation between periods of increasing cost of labor at the expense of business leading to decrease in business activity, and periods of government retreat and weakening of labor movement resulting in increase of business activity. All this also includes new form of employment on “as needed” basis and globalization that allowed foreign cheap labor shifting supply chains away from developed Western countries.
Market and State
Here author looks at love-hate relationship between market and state and gives three reasons why state intervention will continue to grow:
- Markets, which make capitalistic conduct possible in the first place, presuppose framework conditions that can only be established by political means. Markets cannot do the job of removing barriers to commerce (e.g., feudal obstacles such as guild regulations, trade monopolies and privileges, fines and tolls on travel) that fragment and constrain, of guaranteeing a minimum of peaceful order, and of providing rules to conclude and implement contracts or contract-like agreements. Without the use of political power, capitalism would never have taken off, nor can it take off in the future. Often the preconditions for the existence of supraregional markets resulted from the use of force—in war, for example, or in the course of colonization.
2. A growing instability of capitalist processes can be discerned, to the extent that these processes have become detached over the last several decades from the restrictive but also stabilizing grounds in which they were once embedded and have, moreover, become internally differentiated. This was illustrated above in the case of two different transitions, first from ownership to managerial capitalism, and then with the shift to capitalism’s current phase of financialization. In the second transition, the investment function has been so powerfully detached from its ties to other functions (such as management of the enterprise or personnel policy) that it has become an independent force, carried away to the point of self-destruction unless the investment function can be recaptured and reembedded. In the search for new ways of embedding finance, state guidelines and controls need not play the only role. Civil society-based arrangements become increasingly relevant, but strong and effective government intervention remains indispensable. (The problem is posed in a somewhat different way, however, outside the North Atlantic area, where widespread clientelism, patronage, and corruption—in other words, special ways of “embedding” economic institutions in community, society, and politics—lead to features of the system that have been characterized and criticized with such catchwords as “patrimonial capitalism” and “crony capitalism.”)
3. Capitalism, even in its advanced stages, develops in a way that has disruptive and destructive effects on its social, cultural, and political environment and can call into question its social acceptance. Here one need only recall the profound crises, repeated with a certain inevitability, that have a habit of starting out as financial crises, as in 1873, 1929–1930 und 2007–2008, yet leave in their wake serious repercussions for the “real economy,” impair the welfare of broad sectors of the population, and possibly lead to social and political disruptions. In equal measure, though, attention must be drawn to the long-term polarizing effects of capitalism when it has been successful. By this I do not mean only the well-known connection between industrialization, wage labor, and worker protest, which leads to social polarization when not counteracted by welfare state measures. Rather, it is also important to mention what is demonstrated by certain findings from the early modern Netherlands, from the process of industrialization in the nineteenth century, and from experiences over the last several decades. These different findings all show that capitalist growth, if not counteracted with compensatory measures, does not necessarily lead to massive impoverishment—quite the contrary! —but does go hand in hand with increasing income and wealth inequality. Exorbitantly high managerial earnings, whose lead over average incomes in the last several decades has reached dizzying heights, are just a tiny, though quite visible and especially irritating, aspect of an increase in inequality that is quite complex. Especially in democratic political cultures, this surge in inequality is perceived as unjust, and over the long run it can call into question the legitimacy of the system.
5. Analysis and Critique
Here author discusses the very concept of capitalism, which acquired mainly negative meaning in English and German languages but is perceived as positive by many economists and ideologues. Author also reviews how it changed overtime becoming mainly linked to inequality. He completes the book by noting that:” Capitalism lives off its social, cultural, and political embedding, as much as it simultaneously threatens and corrodes these moorings. It can be influenced by political means and those of civil society when and if these are strong and decisive enough. Seen from this perspective, one could say that, every era, every region, and every civilization gets the capitalism it deserves. Currently, considered alternatives to capitalism are hard to identify. But within capitalism, very different variants and alternatives can be observed, and even more of them can be imagined. It is their development that matters. The reform of capitalism is a permanent task. In this, the critique of capitalism plays a central role.”
MY TAKE ON IT:
It’s a nice and concise review of history and meaning of capitalism as economic system. I find this approach interesting, but I think that the very use of term capitalism is so muddled that it is becoming impossible to communicate between people because everybody has very complex and diverse understanding of the term. I think that this term outlived its usefulness and one should talk about economic relation between individuals in different positions in relation to resources allocation, production and distribution processes rather than between classes in order to understand economic relationships, develop meaningful course of actions, and predict economic outcomes a bit better then demonstrated by previous track record of economists. There is movement in this direction in form of behavioral economics, evolutionary economics, and others but it is still far away from ability of predicting economic outcomes based on analysis of current conditions and expected actions. One big problem that I have is that capitalism often treated with no regard to realities of life, in which it practically never occurs in its theoretical neatness. There is always interference of state and other violent organizations that distort normal processes of market economy, only later to blame this abstraction – capitalism on their failure. Another big problem is treating humans as if they were independent from need for necessities of life and moral pressure by others and therefore could, for example, participate in free labor exchange. Or ideas of using aggregate demand and aggregate supply to control economy via monetary and fiscal policy. These also have colorful and painful history of failure, but still serve as foundation of infinite number of “economic research” papers. Instead of these I’d like to see specific country/time research when economic and extra-economic factors treated as part of one integrated process of resource production and allocation to individual and/or small group levels. I understand that it would be much more complicated process, than current primitive and mainly meaningless analysis of abstract aggregates, but it is the only way to obtain something close to scientific level of understanding for these processes. I believe that with advance of AI processing and increase in computer power it could become reality, but I do not expect it happen very soon.
20210418 – The Strange Order of Things
The main idea of this book is that humans evolutionary developed as one integrated biological entity, with all its qualities: feelings, reason, and consciousness being undividable and necessary for survival. Only understanding of this integrity could lead to understanding of human cultures built on this biological foundation. The difficulties and even crises of contemporary humanity come from emergence of contemporary technologies that are not necessarily compatible with human nature, so the way should be found to reconcile all of this or problems could become unsurmountable.
Part l: About Life and Its Regulation (Homeostasis)
1: On the Human Condition
Author begins with discussing situations when feelings process inputs and prompt actions better than mind. Here is author’s reasoning:” feelings would succeed where plain ideas fail has to do with the unique nature of feelings. Feelings are not an independent fabrication of the brain. They are the result of a cooperative partnership of body and brain, interacting by way of free-ranging chemical molecules and nerve pathways. This particular and overlooked arrangement guarantees that feelings disturb what might otherwise be an indifferent mental flow. The source of feeling is life on the wire, balancing its act between flourishing and death. As a result, feelings are mental stirrings, troubling or glorious, gentle or intense.”
After that he moves to human origins and its key component – culture. Here is how author looks at connection between feelings and culture:
Author then provides comparison with other animals, especially bacteria and social incects and find a common ground for all in the notion of Homeostasis: “The part of homeostasis that concerns “prevailing” is more subtle and rarely acknowledged. It ensures that life is regulated within a range that is not just compatible with survival but also conducive to flourishing, to a projection of life into the future of an organism or a species.” Author then links it all together: “Feelings, as deputies of homeostasis, are the catalysts for the responses that began human cultures. Is this reasonable? Is it conceivable that feelings could have motivated the intellectual inventions that gave humans (1) the arts, (2) philosophical inquiry, (3) religious beliefs, (4) moral rules, (5) justice, (6) political governance systems and economic institutions, (7) technology, and (8) science”
At the end of chapter author links into one continuum early organisms, genes, nervous system, feelings and mind – all supporting human homeostasis:” Eventually, each feeling-driven, conscious mind could mentally represent, with an explicit reference to the experiencer subject, two critical sets of facts and events: (1) the conditions in the inner world of its own organism; and (2) the conditions of its organism’s environment.” Author then moves to problems of derailing of homeostasis and resulting pain and suffering. He suggests that reason for these problems to occur: “is that cultural instruments first developed in relation to the homeostatic needs of individuals and of groups as small as nuclear families and tribes. The extension to wider human circles was not and could not have been contemplated. Within wider human circles, cultural groups, countries, even geopolitical blocs, often operate as individual organisms, not as parts of one larger organism, subject to a single homeostatic control.”
2. In a Region of Unlikeness
Here author moves back to origin of life some 3.8 billion years ago, traces its development and presents summary table:
3: Varieties of Homeostasis
In this chapter author provides an interesting review of the very notion of Homeostasis, its work, history, and varieties. He also expresses preference for another term that would better communicate dynamic character of this notion in living organisms: Homeodynamics.
4. From Single Cells to Nervous Systems and Minds
In this chapter author reviews biological history of development of increasingly complex objects, combining it for nervous system in such way:
At the end of chapter author links it to human brain and calls attention to the fact that:” That the nervous system is the enabler of our mental life is not in doubt. What is missing from the traditional neuro-centric, brain-centric, and even cerebral-cortex-centric accounts is the fact that nervous systems began their existence as assistants to the body, as coordinators of the life process in bodies complex and diversified enough that the functional articulation of tissues, organs, and systems as well as their relation to the environment required a dedicated system to accomplish the coordination. Nervous systems were the means to achieve that coordination and thus became an indispensable feature of complex multicellular life.”
Part II: Assembling the Cultural Mind
5: The Origin of Minds
The point of this chapter is to sketch biological nature of mind and its role as instrument of human cultural mind. Author characterizes here minded life from the point of view of images processing not only in the brain, but also by totality of nervous system. Here is author characteristics of evolutionary steps that led to this:” the steps that must have followed in evolution are fairly clear. First, using images made from the oldest components of the organism’s interior—the processes of metabolic chemistry largely carried out in viscera and in the blood circulation and the movements they generated—nature gradually fashioned feelings. Second, using images from a less ancient component of the interior—the skeletal frame and the muscles attached to it—nature generated a representation of the encasement of each life, a literal representation of the house inhabited by each life. The eventual combination of these two sets of representations opened the way for consciousness. Third, using the same image-making devices and an inherent power of images—the power to stand for and symbolize something else—nature developed verbal languages.
Author then explains why images require nervous systems and how they are processed depending on the source: world outside of organism and world inside of organism.
6: Expanding Minds
Here author uses analogy of hidden orchestra within the mind that makes images:” The signals with which images are constructed originate from three sources: the world around the organism, from where data are collected by specific organs located in the skin and some mucosae; and two distinct components of the world inside the organism, the old chemical/visceral compartment and the not so old musculoskeletal frame and its sensory portals.” He then analyzes process of making memories and enriching minds, summarizing results this way:
Here author moves to handling of feelings for which he introduces the notion of affect:” Affect is thus a wide tent under which I place not only all possible feelings but also the situations and mechanisms responsible for producing them, responsible, that is, for producing the actions whose experiences become feelings.”
He then discusses what feelings are, valence of experience, kinds of feeling that he divides into Emotive Response Process, Stereotypes, Drives, Motivations, and Conventional emotions. He also defines notion of Layered Feelings.
8: The Construction of Feelings
In this chapter author connects feelings with Homeostasis:” To understand the origin and construction of feelings, and to appreciate the contribution they make to the human mind, we need to set them in the panorama of homeostasis. The alignment of pleasant and unpleasant feelings with, respectively, positive and negative ranges of homeostasis is a verified fact. Homeostasis in good or even optimal ranges expresses itself as well-being and even joy, while the happiness caused by love and friendship contributes to more efficient homeostasis and promotes health. The negative examples are just as clear. The stress associated with sadness is caused by calling into action the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland and by releasing molecules whose consequence is reducing homeostasis and actually damaging countless body parts such as blood vessels and muscular structures. Interestingly, the homeostatic burden of physical disease can activate the same hypothalamic-pituitary axis and cause release of dynorphin, a molecule that induces dysphoria.”
Author then proceeds to discuss relevant processes in some details:
- Where do Feelings come from
- How they assembled
- The Continuity of Bodies and Nervous Systems
- The Role of the Peripheral Nervous System
- Peculiarities of the Body-Brain Relationship
- Role of the Gut
- Where are Feeling Experiences Located
- Remembrances of Feelings Past.
In the last chapter of this Part author defines Consciousness:” The term “consciousness” applies to the very natural but distinctive kind of mental state described by the above traits. That mental state allows its owner to be the private experiencer of the world around and, just as important, to experience aspects of his or her own being. For practical purposes, the universe of knowledge, current and past, that can be conjured up in a private mind only materializes to its owner when the owner’s mind is in a conscious state, able to survey the contents of that mind, in his or her own subjective perspective.”
Author then discusses observation of consciousness, subjectivity, as its first and indispensable component and Integrated experiences as the second component. Finally, he links Sensing and Feeling to Consciousness and defines:” The hard problem is about the fact that if minds emerge from organic tissue, it may be hard or impossible to explain how mental experiences, in effect, felt mental states, are produced.”
Part III: The Cultural Mind at Work
10: On Cultures
This chapter is about biological roots of human cultures. It starts with discussion of link between cultures and Homeostasis, then proceeds to distinctive human cultures, which achieve the same objective – homeostasis in great many different ways. Then author going through discussion of various manifestations of the “cultural mind”, and completes with very detailed summary:
First, the mind had to be capable of representing, in the form of images, two distinct sets of data: the world exterior to the individual organism, where the others that are part of the social fabric loom prominently and interactively; and the state of the individual organism’s interior, which is experienced as feelings. This capability draws on an innovation of central nervous systems: the possibility of making, within their neural circuitries, maps of objects and events that are located outside the neural circuitries. Such maps capture “resemblances” of those objects and events.
Second, the individual mind had to create a mental perspective for the whole organism relative to those two sets of representations—the representations of the organism’s interior and of the world around it. This perspective is made up of images of the organism during the acts of perceiving itself and its surround, in reference to the organism’s overall frame. This is a critical ingredient of subjectivity that I regard as the decisive component of consciousness. The fabrication of cultures, which requires social, collective intentions, is inconceivable without the presence of multiple individual subjectivities working, to begin with, for their own advantage—their own interests—and eventually, as the circle of interests enlarges, promoting the good of a group.
Third, once mind had begun but before it could become the cultural mind we can recognize today, it was necessary to enrich it by adding impressive new features. Among them were a powerful, image-based memory function capable of learning, recalling, and interrelating unique facts and events; an expansion of the imagination, reasoning, and symbolic thought capabilities such that nonverbal narratives could be generated; and the ability to translate nonverbal images and symbols into coded languages. The latter opened the way for a decisive tool in the construction of cultures: a parallel line of verbal narratives. Alphabets and grammars were the “genetic” tools of this latter and enabling development. The eventual invention of writing was the crowning entry into the toolbox of creative intelligence, an intelligence capable of being moved by feeling to respond to homeostatic challenges and possibilities.
Fourth, a critical instrument of the cultural mind resides with a largely unsung function: play, the desire to engage in seemingly useless operations that includes the moving about of actual pieces of the world, real or in toy form; the moving of our own bodies in that world, as in dancing or playing an instrument; the moving of images in the mind, real or invented. Imagination is a close partner of this endeavor, of course, but imagination does not fully capture the spontaneity, the range and reach of PLAY, to use the capitalized form that Jaak Panksepp prefers when he talks about this function. Think of play when you think about what can be done with the infinity of sounds, colors, shapes, or with pieces in Erector or Legos sets or computer games; think of play when you think of the infinitely possible combinations of word meanings and sounds; think of play as you plan an experiment or ponder different designs for whatever it is that you are planning to do.
Fifth, the ability, especially developed in humans, to work cooperatively with others to achieve a discernible, shared goal. Cooperativity relies on another well-developed human ability: joint attention, a phenomenon to which Michael Tomasello has devoted pioneering studies. Play and cooperation are, in and of themselves, independently of the results of the respective activities, homeostatically favorable activities. They reward the “players/cooperators” with a slew of pleasurable feelings.
Sixth, cultural responses begin in mental representations but come into being by the grace of movement. Movement is deeply embedded in the cultural process. It is from emotion-related movements happening in the interior of our organisms that we construct the feelings that motivate cultural interventions. Cultural interventions often arise from emotion-related movements—of the hands, quite prominently, of the vocal apparatus, of the facial musculature (a critical enabler of communication), or of the whole body. Last, the march from life’s beginnings to the doors of human cultural development and cultural transmission was only possible due to another homeostasis-driven development: the genetic machinery that standardized the regulation of life inside cells and permitted the transmission of life to new generations.”
11: Medicine, Immortality, and Algorithms
Here author discusses achievements of contemporary technology, especially medicine and computers that allow to speculate about practically unlimited improvements of everything, even immortality.
12: On the Human Condition Now
This chapter discusses current condition that author finds ambiguous due to combination of achievements of technology with decline of culture and multitude of unresolved governmental and economic issues. Author looks for biological causes of the current crises that seems to be coming from conflict between affect and reason. He foresees two possible scenarios of the future in one civilizational effort will fail and with-it humanity would fail pushed away either by AI and robots or other organisms. “In another scenario, cooperation eventually comes to dominate thanks to a sustained civilizational endeavor over multiple generations.” Author predicate outcome on feelings and concludes chapter with:” A life not felt would have needed no cure. A life felt but not examined would not have been curable. Feelings launched and have helped navigate a thousand intellectual ships.”
13: The Strange Order of Things
Author here refer to the name of this book and explains that strange order of things is the very existence and development of life overall and humanity specifically with its high faculties of consciousness and feelings. He also stresses that:” neither parts of nervous systems nor whole brains are the sole manufacturers and providers of mental phenomena. It is unlikely that neural phenomena alone could produce the functional background required for so many aspects of minds, but it is certainly the case that they could not do so in regard to feelings. A close two-way interaction between nervous systems and the non-nervous structures of organisms is a requirement. Neural and non-neural structures and processes are not just contiguous but continuous partners, interactively. They are not aloof entities signaling each other like chips in a cell phone. In plain talk, brains and bodies are in the same mind-enabling soup.”
Author completes this book by noting that everything discussed about biological and evolutionary phenomena of humanity is at least somewhat tentative because:” We do not have, however, any satisfactory scientific account of the origins and meaning of the universe, in brief, no theory of everything that concerns us. This is a sobering reminder of how modest and tentative our efforts are and of how open we need to be as we confront what we do not know.”
MY TAKE ON IT:
This is a great book that presents clear thinking and good understanding of humanity that I am pretty much agree with. I am somewhat more optimistic on human ability to overcome crisis, which, I believe, is a lot less than meets the eye. Just because human tendency to overestimate problems is currently hugely amplified by communication technology, social networks, that does not mean these problems are unsurmountable. I do not think that the solution could be found in
increased abilities of governments redistribute resources from productive part of population to elite and unproductive part without causing revolts and/or revolution. I think it would rather come from opposite direction – pushing problem resolution away from handling problems via government hierarchy down to evolutionary defined proper level of individuals, families, and small groups. Consequently, I agree that humanity is on the brink of a huge change in just about any area that one can think of, but I also believe that the change will be for the better and no AI or robots or other organisms would substitute humanity whether we’ll find meaning of the universe or not. Actually, I think that the most reasonable way is to accept that the universe has no meaning whatsoever and live happily ever after.
20210411 – The China Nightmare
The main idea of this book is to use author’s extensive experience in China to provide information about current situation, direction of Chinese development, and threat that it increasingly presents to America and the World overall due to its ideology of Chinese supremacy. Until now this thread was ignored in hope that China would grow out of this primitive attitude, but due to its rapid economic, technological, and military growth it should be taken seriously. The idea is also providing recommendation on how to deal with this threat.
Author begins with obvious statement that USA vs. PRC is the main geopolitical rivalry of XXI century so far. He then states that China’s objective is at least:” carve out an authoritarian sphere of influence that it can control, making Asia repressive and closed.” He also points out that Chinese leadership feels insecure being surrounded by USA allies and bases:
Author then discusses changes in Chinese startegy and objectives that became obvious with coming to power Xi Jin Ping. Author dicusses not only various communications by Xi and oficialdom about these objectives, but also such actions as military buidup. He also looks at Chinese insecurity and fear of potential crisis that impacts their leadership and define their actions. Finally author stresses his main point:” The theme of the book is that, while China is acting to further ever-grander ambitions, it is also facing profound internal problems and increasing rot in the party. This makes China even more dangerous than many assume. Indeed, one reason China has acted more aggressively in recent years is because the CCP is searching for legitimacy through grand schemes such as “the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.”
1. Big Ambitions
The first chapter outlines China’s ambitions under Xi, drawing from leadership speeches and party documents.
Here is how author defines Chinese objectives based on variety of leadership statements and official documents:” in Beijing’s view, the struggle for geopolitical mastery will not be limited to Asia. Rather, China wants to lead a new world order centered around Chinese power and governed by Chinese-made rules. Beijing has now detailed a set of requirements for achieving global leadership. These include (1) building a worldwide network of strategic partnerships to expand its international influence, which it will use to shape and change the way the world is governed; (2) increasing other nations’ dependence on China through Chinese-led “integration”; (3) becoming the most technologically advanced nation in the world by leading in innovation and creating a stronger defense-industrial base; and (4) obtaining military superiority. These accomplishments will help China achieve preeminence in what the CCP calls the global “community of common destiny.” The concept of a community of common destiny has been part of Chinese strategic thought for years, but, at least regarding foreign affairs, this report was centrally focused on China’s global aspirations to build a China-friendly world order.”
Then author looks in detail on specific initiatives such as “Belt and Road”:
Another initiative is more open and aggressive technological competition. Finally a big part of everything is ideological offencive designed to present Chinese dictatorship as much better solution to all real and invented world problems than old and tired Western democracy.
2. Why Global Centrality?
Chapter 2 takes us from the Qing empire to Mao’s establishment of Communist China.
Author reviews this history and its impact on contemporary thinking of Chinese leadership about what is China territorially, what is its place in the world, and what kind of relationship with other countries it should have. This thinking is pretty much based on pseudo-history of China as super nation and state, which was temporary in decline and now is coming back to take its proper place in the word. Therefore, the answers are:
- territorially China should encompass everything previously conquered by Qing Empire
- globally it should occupy the central place in the world
- relations with other should be built as with tributaries to superior Chinese nation and culture.
3. Deng’s National Rejuvenation
Chapter 3 discusses Deng’s reforms. Here author discusses how Deng managed to get out of rigid communist ideology that put country in economic neverland and on the brink with war against top dog of communism at the time -USSR. Both objectives: revival of economy and prevention of war were achieved by moving along the same line: establishing nearly allied relations with United States, implementing market economy reforms, that removed key, but non-workable parts of communist ideology, and enforcing more than workable totalitarian part of communist ideology by all means necessary. Finally, carefully develop and maintain Western illusions about China’s future democratization, while massively implementing transfer of supply chains and production facilities from developed West to China by luring business investment with cheap labor under dictatorship that excluded possibility of unions and need to deal with labor movement. Also, the big part of the process was massive increase in Western environmental and other regulations combined with absence of this expensive staff in China.
4. Closing the Curtain
Chapter 4 explores what happened when Hu came to power and began reversing Deng’s policies.
The main point of this chapter is that China’s turn back to dictatorship, away from free market, and initiation of external aggression actually occurred during Hu’s tenure in power. Author recounts multiple incidents from undiplomatic treatment of Obama to maritime aggression against neighboring states, to internal political crises and corruption.
5. Recentralization of Dictatorship
Chapter 5 describes Xi’s bid for power and China’s techno-military buildup. Here author starts by describing Xi’s consolidation of power via campaign against corruption that helped Xi to remove whatever competition he had at the top levels of CCP. Then author describes formation of high-tech police state with implementation of the system of Social Credits in order to control population. Finally, author reviews military implications of newly expanded efforts to build powerful military based on leapfrog in technology, especially AI.
Chapter 6 details China’s current geopolitical behavior, using the strategic framework implied by the 19th CCP Congress report and similar documents. In this chapter author reviews geopolitical situation of China starting with Russia, which find itself in unusual role of junior partner to another dictatorship. So far, these two dictatorships were able maintain quasi-alliance against common enemy – USA, but it is relatively shaky stability because China is expanding military, therefore removing Russia’s last remaining source of claim to be the great power. It is also fragile because China’s geopolitical expansion directed at Central Asia that used to be under firm Russian control, and it could potentially raise claims against scarcely populated Russian Far East and Siberia. Another potential rival of China is India, which just started its economy growing, has population that is increasing and soon will overtake Chinese, and finally could become very attractive place to shift supply chains to democratic state, which even if exceedingly corrupt, nevertheless has something more open legal and government system than China with its theft of intellectual property, unfair trade practices, and constant thread of confiscation. Author also goes through all other areas in Asia, Europe, and elsewhere.
7. Weak Points
Chapter 7 examines obstacles facing Xi and looks at China’s weaknesses.
In this chapter author finally gets to discuss China’s weaknesses. These include economic downside of National Security state when any economic considerations are subordinated to the need of keeping CCP in power. This means advance of state enterprises and author provides some relevant data:” These measures have produced the largest state sector in the world. In 2013, an estimated 150,000 SOEs in China held combined assets of almost $16.8 trillion, which amounted to a staggering 177 percent of GDP.4 By 2018, this figure had risen to more than 230 percent of GDP.5 Along with the resurgence of the state’s involvement in the economy, resource allocation has become severely skewed in unambiguous favor of SOEs. The most trenchant indication of this is the shift of bank loans from the private to the state sector. In 2012, the private sector accounted for 52 percent of bank credit, while the state sector received 32 percent. By 2016, this dramatically reversed, with the state sector receiving 83 percent of bank loans, while the private sector received only 11 percent.”
Another important issue is poor compatibility of technological innovation and suppression of individual freedoms. Author also provides a whole list of sources of the future problems: Shrinking Coffers, Social Problems, Capital and Human Flight, Internal Threats, Decay of population and ideology, Obsessions with Stability, and even potential emergence of currently unpredictable threats.
8. Implications for America
Chapter 8 addresses implications for long-term strategic competition and offers recommendations for future American policy. Here author contemplates on current and future American response to Chinese challenge that comes not only from raise of China, but from its potential failure, or at least stagnation. Author advocates stronger stance for USA and provides some recommendations:” A truly competitive strategy would target the Chinese weaknesses detailed in this book. Some of China’s greatest potential vulnerabilities include (1) the expanse of its empire, which includes borders with unfriendly neighbors; (2) its desire to become a maritime power even as its land borders are not pacified; (3) a stagnating economy that could become worse thanks to a demographic nightmare; (4) a potential elite split; and (5) popular blowback against repression. The CCP is struggling with legitimacy and geography, trying to deepen control over Hong Kong and spread its control to Taiwan, and seeking an order in Asia to which few would want to be subjected. It faces tremendous fiscal stresses, an aging society, and a highly indebted country.”
Author also recommends that Americans should go around CCP whenever and wherever possible: “Working with Chinese people outside the CCP has practical benefits. Something could go wrong inside the CCP, especially around 2022, as Chairman Xi has canceled succession plans. This makes it all the more important that the US has a relationship with all sectors of Chinese society and non-CCP leaders who could potentially fill a void created by an acute crisis in Beijing.”
In short – China is the threat, which is current and serious, but not overwhelming yet.
MY TAKE ON IT:
In my hamble opinion as long as China is under control of Communis party, which for all intention and purposes is pretty much National-Socialist entity ideologically pretty close to German Nazis, albeit with much less openly pronounced ethnic superiority complex. The stress should be on “less openly pronounced” with understanding that this superiority complex is as intense as Nazi’s. The reason for this difference comes down to a few issues: Chinese CCP does not have clear technological and military advantage at this point and still depends on Western investment, transfer of technology, and trade. In addition, CCP must have serious doubts in regard to loyalty of population, which does not strongly adhere to communist ideology, or any defined ideology for that matter. None of this was the case for German NSDAP in late 1930s, which had best technology and military in the world and could easily compensate for economic decline by readiness of population to suffer hardship and even war in support of revenge for Versailles and humiliation of defeat. However, these differences should not conceal ideological similarity of these two political entities, which both hellbent on domination by all means necessary, and could be stopped only by overwhelming power. The German NSDAP did not expect use of such power against them and had to be eliminated by actual hot war with tens of millions resulting deaths. Hopefully the West and especially USA find backbone to demonstrate such overwhelming power that would make continuation of aggression impossible, which in turn ideologically undermine CCP and could lead to internal change beneficial to China and the World. However, considering extremely low intellectual level of American leadership and its general corruption, it would not be surprising that aggression will not be challenged. Consequently, situation will continue deteriorating until it gets out of hand. What will happen next is everybody’s guess.
20210404 – The Problem of Political Authority
The main idea of this book is first of all to provide philosophical rejection of the very notion of legitimacy of Authority and the second point is to provide logical foundation for statement of feasibility of society without Authority. Finally, the third point is to present the path of movement from currently the most advanced form of society – Democracy to even more advanced form – Anarcho-Capitalism.
Author provided detailed Analytical Content:
Here is how author summarizes these arguments:
13.5.1 The argument of Part I:
The modern state claims a kind of authority that obliges all other agents to obey the state’s commands and entitles the state to deploy violence and threats of violence to enforce those commands, independent of whether the commands are in themselves just, reasonable, or beneficial. The argument of the first half of this book is that that sort of authority, ‘political authority’, is an illusion. No state is legitimate, and no individual has political obligations. This leads to the conclusion that at minimum, the vast majority of government activities are unjust. Government agents should refuse to enforce unjust laws, and individuals should feel free to break such laws whenever they can safely do so.
The argument against political authority proceeded by examining the most important arguments for authority and finding each inadequate. The traditional social contract theory fails due to one salient fact: there is no actual contract. The most common theory of contemporary social contract enthusiasts – that an arrangement is rendered voluntary and contractual by the fact that one could have escaped its imposition through relocation to Antarctica – would draw scarcely more than a laugh in any other context.
The alternative of a purely hypothetical social contract fails for two reasons: first, there is no reason to think that all reasonable persons could agree, even in idealized circumstances, on even the most basic political theory. Second, a merely hypothetical contract is ethically irrelevant. However fair, reasonable, and impartial a contract might be, one is not typically thereby entitled to force others to accept it.
The democratic process fails to ground authority, as one typically does not acquire a right to coerce someone merely because those who want one to coerce the victim are more numerous than those who want one to refrain. The appeal to the ideal of deliberative democracy fails, because no actual state remotely resembles an ideal deliberative democracy, and in any case, no mere method of deliberation negates the rights of an individual. The appeal to the obligations to promote equality and to respect others’ judgment fails for several reasons, including that these obligations are not strong enough to override individuals’ rights, that they are not the sort of obligation that may typically be enforced through coercion, and that the idea of political legitimacy itself is a much clearer violation of the value of equality than the failure of individuals to obey democratically made laws.
The appeal to the good consequences of government fails to ground authority because an individual’s obedience to the law has no impact on the state’s ability to provide those benefits, and an agent’s provision of large overall benefits does not confer on the agent an entitlement to coerce others to obey the agent’s commands independent of the content of those commands. The appeal to fairness likewise cannot ground an obligation to obey harmful, unjust, or useless commands nor an ethical entitlement to deploy coercion in support of such commands.
A review of psychological and historical evidence concerning human attitudes to authority suggests two important lessons: first, most individuals have strong pro-authority biases that render their intuitions about authority untrustworthy. Second, institutions of authority are extremely dangerous, and the undermining of trust in authority is therefore highly socially beneficial.
13.5.2 The argument of Part II:
Pace Hobbes, when diverse agents have roughly equal power, it is prudentially irrational for any agent to initiate conflict. In contrast, centralization of power invites exploitation and abuse by the powerful. The democratic process inhibits the worst government abuses, but it remains imperfect due to widespread ignorance and irrationality on the part of voters. Constitutional restrictions are often impotent, since there is none but the government to enforce the constitution. The separation of powers fails because the branches of government can best promote their interests through making common cause in expanding state power rather than protecting the rights of the people.
The contention of Part II of this book is that a superior alternative exists, in which governmental functions are privatized. Police duties may be taken over by private security guards, perhaps hired by small local property owners’ associations. This system differs from governmental provision of security in that it relies on genuine contractual arrangements, and it incorporates meaningful competition among security providers. These differences would lead to higher quality, lower cost, and less potential for abuse than found in coercive monopolistic systems.
Resolution of disputes, including disputes about whether a given individual committed a crime and whether a given type of conduct ought to be tolerated, would be provided by private arbitrators. Individuals and firms in an anarchic society would choose this method of resolving disputes because it is far less costly than resolution through violence. Law would be generated chiefly by the arbitrators themselves, in the manner in which the common law has developed in the actual world. The voluntariness and competitiveness of the system, again, would lead to higher quality, lower costs, and less abuse.
The elimination of government military forces need not leave a society insecure. Under certain favorable conditions, a society can be safe from invasion despite the lack of military deterrence. In the event of invasion, guerrilla warfare or nonviolent resistance can prove surprisingly effective at expelling foreign occupiers. In some ways, having a government makes a society more rather than less likely to be involved in war – for example, because one’s government may provoke a conflict. A number of small countries have already successfully abolished their militaries without being conquered as a result. The maintenance of standing armies entails a nontrivial risk of those armies being used unjustly, as well as a risk of one’s government inventing new weapons of mass destruction that threaten the human species.
13.5.3 The argument of the last chapter:
It is reasonable to believe that anarchy may come to the world in due time. The most plausible transitional model is one in which democratic societies move gradually toward anarcho-capitalism through progressive outsourcing of governmental functions to competing businesses. No obstacle but public opinion and inertia prevents government from turning over policing, dispute resolution, or even the conduct of criminal trials to private agents. Governmental armed forces could be drawn down and ultimately eliminated through an extended ratcheting-down process in which each country repeatedly cuts back its military forces to only those needed for defense. The process of eliminating government is likely to be spearheaded by small democratic countries or cities. Larger countries could be expected to follow suit only after the success of small-scale experiments was evident to most observers.
The most important determinant of whether this process will occur is intellectual: if anarcho-capitalism is a good idea, then it will probably ultimately be recognized as such. Once it is generally recognized as desirable, it will probably eventually be implemented. Abolishing the state is more realistic than reforming it, because abolition requires people to accept only a single philosophical idea – skepticism about authority – whereas reform requires people to familiarize themselves on an ongoing basis with the myriad flaws of specific policies.
This book is an effort to help push society along towards the needed skepticism of authority. It may seem that my position is extreme – as of course it is, relative to the current spectrum of opinion. But current mainstream attitudes are also extreme, relative to the spectrum of opinion of earlier centuries. The average citizen of a modern democracy, if transported back in time 500 years, would be the most wild-eyed, radical liberal on the planet – endorsing an undreamt-of equality for both sexes and all races; free expression for the most heinous of heretics, infidels, and atheists; a complete abolition of numerous standard forms of punishment; and a radical restructuring of all existing governments. By current standards, every government of 500 years ago was illegitimate.
We have not come to the end of history (pace Fukuyama). The evolution of values can proceed further in the direction it has moved over the past two millennia. It could proceed to an even greater distaste for the resort to physical force in human interactions, a fuller respect for human dignity, and a more consistent recognition of the moral equality of persons. Once we take these values sufficiently seriously, we cannot but be skeptical of authority.
My method of pushing readers along this path has been to appeal to implicit values that I think you share. I do not rely on an abstract, theoretical account of these values; I rely on the intuitive reactions we have to relatively specific scenarios. Nor do I rely on tentative or controversial intuitions; I rely on clear, mainstream intuitions. For example, the judgment that an employer who draws up a fair and reasonable employment contract would not thereupon be entitled to force potential employees to accept it (Section 3.3.3), is not particularly dubious or controversial. It is not something that only libertarian ideologues would agree to.
Consider now the antiwar argument offered by the Chinese philosopher Mozi in the 5th century B.C.:
To kill one man is to be guilty of a capital crime, to kill ten men is to increase the guilt tenfold, to kill a hundred men is to increase it a hundredfold. This the rulers of the earth all recognize, and yet when it comes to the greatest crime – waging war on another state – they praise it! [ … ] If a man on seeing a little black were to say it is black, but on seeing a lot of black were to say it is white, it would be clear that such a man could not distinguish black and white. [ … ] So those who recognize a small crime as such, but do not recognize the wickedness of the greatest crime of all [ … ] cannot distinguish right and wrong.
Mozi’s argumentative strategy is simple and compelling: he begins from an uncontroversial ethical prohibition, applies the same principle to a particular kind of government policy, and finds that the policy is morally unacceptable. It is in the spirit of Mozi that I question the institution of government as a whole. If one individual travels to another country to kill people, coercively extracts money from members of his own society, forces others to work for him, or imposes harmful, unjust, or useless demands on others through threats of kidnapping and imprisonment, the governments of the world all condemn that individual. Yet these same governments do not shy away from undertaking the same activities on a national scale. If we find Mozi’s argument compelling, then it seems that we ought to find similarly compelling the argument that the great majority of government actions are ethically unacceptable.
MY TAKE ON IT:
For me it is something that could be called self-evident that government is nothing more and nothing less than a gang of bandits who keep population in some location under control, extract resources from productive people and then use these resources to satisfy their own physiological and psychological needs. So, it is kind of interesting intellectual exercise to read complex and very detailed philosophical argument rejecting authority of government in all and any forms of this authority. It feels like after looking at two pieces of paper and seeing that one is black and another white then listen to sophisticated explanation about why it is so.
The second argument that private businesses could effectively substitute the gang of government bandits with orderly market-based security services, including military defense, seems to be based on false assumptions. Author’s believe that military more powerful “business” would somehow accept any arbitration or any rules of game that would equalize it with less powerful “business” without some external power that could force compliance contradicts not only history, but even contemporary experience of events around the world. Being it Somali or some republics of former Soviet Union, in every place where authority of government, based on it being the biggest bandit around, failed we do not see appearance of some orderly process of private security companies peacefully competing between themselves, but rather fight between smaller gangs striving to become the biggest and more powerful one and then claim authority as government.
Another problem with author’s argument is that he assumes that contemporary western norms are kind of universal so such methods as non-violent resistance or guerilla warfare could be viable tools. It is just not correct neither technically nor historically. All kinds of resistance by military weaker group could be suppressed by physically eliminating people who resist, or in cases when it is difficult to find or recognize them, by eliminating everybody around. Unfortunately, there are plenty of mass graves in the world dating from many thousand years ago to just a few months ago that confirm that it is the case. Despite all this, I think that the final argument that author provides about future probability of actual implementation of anarcho-capitalism is reasonable and that it could eventually become reality, but only when the future technology allows sufficient power of self-defense that even at the level of individual it would become suicidal to attack anybody. In this case, joining a group to attack individual or smaller group would become unviable approach, so violent gangs would not be forming anymore. The development of morals and values will probably follow such development, but they hardly could precede it.