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Capitalism: By-Product of Sexual Selection?
Posted: 16 February 2007 02:07 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Posted: 16 February 2007 02:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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George said:

Is Capitalism a mere by-product of sexual selection? Is money to humans what a tale is to a peacock? I believe it is. Instead of engaging in a physical fight with another male, the Irish Elk displays his antlers. Instead of having to fight for land we “display” (in form of money) our superiority.

I might be wrong. But if I am not, than Capitalism is going to stay with us for some time. So, Barry, perhaps you were right when you said that we are “more like the bonobos than the like the chimps.” We are indeed peaceful and sex-loving animals. Capitalism allows us to get a date without having to kill the other guy.


I doubt it. First, just about anything humans create can be considered byproducts of our multiple natures, but that does not mean everything we create will do us some good in the end.  Humans have many such rituals as well as antlers… Many of them regarding conflict management (again, read Doug Fry’s books) ... and it’s not really about the bigger antlers (or size/mussels) humans have.

Also, being like Bonobos more than Chimps is biological and behavioral but mainly about peace and sex/intimacy (as you say), and not related to how we share (or distribute) resources. 

Capitalism is a fairly new creature, and I find it hard to believe it has kept humans from killing one another.  Indeed evidence to the opposite seems to be abundant. 

Money itself is interesting, and I suppose tools by which to trade by (from the early days of trading real needs and goods to using rare rocks and minerals to the abstract paper money - which corresponds to nothing real anymore) may have been easy things for us to fathom; but again, there are better methods (such as found in the “voucher” plan of LETS programs or Inclusive Democracy, for instance.)

Indeed, humanist communities ought to get on the LETS train and think about things like Open Money. 

See here:  www.gmlets.u-net.com
and here:  www.openmoney.org

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Posted: 17 February 2007 04:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Re: Capitalism: By-Product of Sexual Selection?

[quote author=“George Benedik”]Have we invented money (which inevitably produced Capitalism) for the same reason that pushed the Irish Elk to evolve its antlers? Is Capitalism a mere by-product of sexual selection? Is money to humans what a tale is to a peacock? I believe it is. Instead of engaging in a physical fight with another male, the Irish Elk displays his antlers. Instead of having to fight for land we “display” (in form of money) our superiority.

I don’t think this is at all correct. Before the invention of money, exchange had to be done by barter: if I want a knife, I have to find something that I have or can make that the guy with the knife will want in exchange. That is an extremely inefficient way to exchange goods, and will end up with fewer people being satisified. Why? Because most of the time I won’t have anything that the knife-maker wants.

Money was invented several times independently because it was useful. It is an independent commodity of exchange. Then I can exchange whatever it is I have for this independent commodity (money), and the knife maker will be happy to accept my money because he can exchange it for whatever it is that he wants. (As it might be, a new bellows for his furnace).

Where the by-product of sexual selection comes in is in where we often choose to spend our money, i.e. on goods that enhance our social status. Why are people willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars more for a Ferrari, when a Toyota will do just fine? Why do people want to buy fancy clothes, fancy artworks, go to fancy hotels, etc. rather than spend on something more modest or go without? Partly, because these are indicators of social status.

Partly, of course, they are also aesthetically pleasing to us. But our aesthetic sense itself may be tightly intertwined with our status-detectors ... it may itself be a byproduct of sexual selection.

[quote author=“George Benedik”]I might be wrong. But if I am not, than Capitalism is going to stay with us for some time.  So, Barry, perhaps you were right when you said that we are “more like the bonobos than the like the chimps.” We are indeed peaceful and sex-loving animals. Capitalism allows us to get a date without having to kill the other guy. :wink:

Apparently Bonobos work out disagreements by play and sex. That’s all well and good for them, but doesn’t sound the slightest bit like humans. Or perhaps Barry wants to have sex with me?

LOL  LOL

At any rate, yes, capitalism is here to stay. And so long as it is properly regulated (which it is not, entirely, now), that is a good thing.

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Posted: 17 February 2007 04:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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[quote author=“Barry”] but again, there are better methods (such as found in the “voucher” plan of LETS programs or Inclusive Democracy, for instance.)

How is a voucher not money? Who produces these “vouchers”? Who gives them out? To whom? When and why?

[quote author=“Barry”] Indeed, humanist communities ought to get on the LETS train and think about things like Open Money.  But don’t expect CFI to do this, they can’t make money off of it :twisted:

Give it up Barry.

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Posted: 17 February 2007 09:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Doug said:

Apparently Bonobos work out disagreements by play and sex. That’s all well and good for them, but doesn’t sound the slightest bit like humans. Or perhaps Barry wants to have sex with me?

Perhaps if I were gay   :wink:

Seriously, humans are more like Bonobos than Chimps… and I am not talking about the ‘sex at the drop of the hat’ stuff either (at least not in puritian America).
Doug said:

At any rate, yes, capitalism is here to stay.

Says you?  Pretty fatalistic, if you ask me.


Doug said:

How is a voucher not money? Who produces these “vouchers”? Who gives them out? To whom? When and why?

“The idea explored here involves the combination of a democratic planning process with a system of vouchers that could be used for the satisfaction of basic and non-basic needs. Thus, we could imagine the creation of a system in which there are two main types of vouchers: Basic Vouchers and Non-Basic Vouchers, all of them issued on a personal basis, so that they cannot be used, like money, as a general medium of exchange and a store of wealth.” -Takis Fotopoulos

- For more, see his essay, “Welfare State or Economic Democracy?,” here: www.democracynature.org/dn/vol5/fotopoulos_welfare.htm

Barry said: Indeed, humanist communities ought to get on the LETS train and think about things like Open Money. But don’t expect CFI to do this, they can’t make money off of it  

Doug said:

Give it up Barry.


Re my joke/stab at CFI and money, I agree…. I gave it up :oops:

Re LETS or Open Money, I’ve only just begun!  raspberry

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Posted: 17 February 2007 09:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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[quote author=“Barry”]Seriously, humans are more like Bonobos than Chimps… and I am not talking about the ‘sex at the drop of the hat’ stuff either (at least not in puritian America).

I don’t see that at all. And at any rate it is an entirely sterile discussion. Humans are neither of them.

[quote author=“Barry”]“The idea explored here involves the combination of a democratic planning process with a system of vouchers that could be used for the satisfaction of basic and non-basic needs. Thus, we could imagine the creation of a system in which there are two main types of vouchers: Basic Vouchers and Non-Basic Vouchers, all of them issued on a personal basis, so that they cannot be used, like money, as a general medium of exchange and a store of wealth.” -Takis Fotopoulos

So, who gets to decide what are “basic” and “non-basic” needs? Who gets to distribute these vouchers? Who gets to assure that no black market gets constructed? More’s the point, what happens when people decide they still would rather use money than these artificial “vouchers” that he proposes? This is a recipe for disaster, or more likely the creation of a totalitarian state to control and distribute these “vouchers”. It sounds like the sort of thing one might dream up in a high school class.

BTW, I don’t see at all why you laud this guy Fotopoulos. He seems like your guru or something, but he reads like a crank.

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Posted: 17 February 2007 10:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Doug:

I don’t see that at all.

Still haven’t read De Waal, Fry or Hand yet, huh?

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Posted: 17 February 2007 10:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Doug:

BTW, I don’t see at all why you laud this guy Fotopoulos. He seems like your guru or something, but he reads like a crank.

You’ve said similar things about ALL the references I have noted for you.  Quite a pattern you have going there.

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Posted: 17 February 2007 03:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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[quote author=“Barry”]Quite a pattern you have going there.

I was implicitly saying the same thing, I believe ...

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Posted: 17 February 2007 05:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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The idea of personal vouchers in a complex society where many of us have highly specialized skills is simplistic and silly.  Money is a perfectly rational way of expressing service supplied to society, and it’s far more generally usable.  You may not like the fact that parasites and predators gather money unethically, but that’s no reason to reject the concept.

Occam

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Posted: 17 February 2007 06:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Occam:

The idea of personal vouchers in a complex society where many of us have highly specialized skills is simplistic and silly. Money is a perfectly rational way of expressing service supplied to society, and it’s far more generally usable. You may not like the fact that parasites and predators gather money unethically, but that’s no reason to reject the concept.

From OpenMoney.org.. Food for thought…

 

open money manifesto
The problems with money stem entirely from how conventional money is normally issued - it is created by central banks in limited supply. There are three things we know about this money. We know what it does - it comes and it goes. We know what it is - it’s scarce and hard to get. And we know where it’s from - it’s from “them”, not us.

These three characteristics, common to all national currencies, determine that we constantly have to compete for a share of the limited amount of the “stuff” that makes the world go round. This money can go anywhere, and so it inevitably does, leaving the community deprived of its means of exchange.

It is simply the nature of conventional money that by its coming and going it creates conditions of competition and scarcity, within and between communities.

So we have to scramble for money to survive, we are forced to compete for it, often ruthlessly. Intent on getting the most for the least, we strive for the best bargains, as individuals, businesses, non-profits, governments, and nations.

As a society, as a generation, it seems we are determined to have everything ourselves no matter what consequences our excesses and negligence bring for others, now and in the future.

We rely on this money. It seems there isn’t much choice, despite its evident failings. Some people have little or none and cannot do what they need to live in this world - some people have vast amounts of it and yet it seems to do them, and the world, no good.

And what’s it all about? A money that is scarce, runs away in all directions, and comes from “them”. This money of theirs comes with many problems.

the problem of supply - how much money in circulation is “right” for the economy? Nobody seems to know how to keep he balance between too much and too little.

the problem of distribution - where is it? who has it and who hasn’t? is it where it’s needed? clearly not.

the problems of cost - costs of creation and security, operations and accounting, the costs of interest, the costs of the courts.

But above all, at a cost beyond counting, our monetarily driven behaviour has utterly disastrous effects on our society and the global environment.

That’s the bad news, but you probably knew it already. Now here’s the good news - all these problems can be fixed with money that’s better designed.

Money is just information, a way we measure what we trade, nothing of value in itself. And we can make it ourselves, to work as a complement to conventional money. Just a matter of design.

There is no good reason for a community to be without money. To be short of money when there’s work to get done is like not having enough inches to build a house. We have the materials, the tools, the space, the time, the skills and the intent to build ... but we have no inches today? Why be short of inches? Why be short of money?

Open moneys are virtual, personal and free. Any community, network, business can create their own free money - “free” as in free speech, free radical, freely available - but NOT free as in free lunch, or free ride. It’s not something you get for nothing.

Open money is money that must be earned to be respected. When you issue it, you are obliged to redeem it - your money is your word. It’s just a matter of your reputation in your community.

Open money is flat money. It confers no power of one over another, only one with another. Exploitation is no problem; when you have your own money, you can’t be bought and sold so easily. You can choose what you do to earn your money. And there’s no monopoly, all systems coexist in the same space. Flatter than flat - open money is superflat.

Open money is virtual and not limited. Physical things exist in space and time - which makes them limited - in number, mass, place. Virtual things don’t exist and need not respect any such limits.

So any and all things are possible in open money space - any form at all. It’s just a matter of devising a scoring system for those who consent to using it - money is simply a social arrangement.

Of course, a system won’t work as a money unless it’s well designed. A scoring system that nobody wants to use isn’t a working money. So while there’s no limit to the moneys that can be conceived, not all moneys will work.

The new money that will work will be created by us, in sufficient supply to meet our needs, and in an open context so that all can contribute and be acknowledged. Open money will circulate within the networks and communities it serves, quite legally and virtually free, by design.

We believe that the problems that come from conventional money can be resolved with open money systems.

- where conventional money is scarce and expensive, the new money is sufficient and free.

- where conventional money is created by central banks, new money is issued by us, as promises to redeem - our money is our word.

- and where conventional money flows erratically in and out of our communities, creating dependencies that are harmful to the economy, society and nature, the new complementary money re-circulates, enabling business and trade.

So let’s fix the money problem and for the rest of the problems that we face in our world, let’s see what follows.


============

and again, read the essay I posted in past note…  

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Posted: 17 February 2007 07:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Geez, you conned me into reading something that was a) way too long, b) irrational, c) amazingly unsophisticated economic philosophy.  Whoever wrote that needs to take a beginning course in economics.  I’m not sure, but there’s probably a book called Economics For Dummies that the person can pick up. 

Occam

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Posted: 18 February 2007 04:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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[quote author=“Occam”]Geez, you conned me into reading something that was a) way too long, b) irrational, c) amazingly unsophisticated economic philosophy.  Whoever wrote that needs to take a beginning course in economics.  I’m not sure, but there’s probably a book called Economics For Dummies that the person can pick up. 

Couldn’t have said it better myself. This is snake-oil.

Free money for everyone! Wheeeeee!

I suppose they also have immortality on offer?

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Posted: 18 February 2007 05:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Just joining the chorus of agreement. There is a sweet but naive notion frequently behind such ideas that if we all just got together as a chummy neighborhood of good-natured human beings and agreed to do away with money, private property, and government, we all end up in a Norman Rockwell painting world. I know Barry will label me a cynic, but I just don’t see any evidence in history or psychology or current events that such an idea works in a community above a few hundred people, with any cultural or ideological diversity, or with any serious resource limitations. And yes, I’ve read all the bonobo research and the kinder, gentler Frans de Waal (who seems to be spending the rest of his career pretending Chimpanzee Politics was a mistake), but sorry, I don’t buy it.

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Posted: 18 February 2007 08:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Misanthropes all!  :?  raspberry

Really guys, your combined analysis does not fit the average IQ of these forums!  Where’s the inquiry?  Snake Oil, Franz du Waal bashing, Hobbesianism…... OY VEY!

When someone offers me a real critique of the Open Money project or the LETS (Local Exchange Trading Systems) program - www.gmlets.u-net.com ... Or better yet, a real critique of the work of Robin Hahnel (Participatory Economics) or Takis Fotopolulos (Inclusive Democracy), I will read it.  Otherwise I see no reason to accept your hand waving.

And PS: Du Waal is correct, and so are Doug Fry and others.  I have already had this argument elsewhere on these forums, but it seems misanthropes like Pinker, Wilson and Dawkins have won your hearts too completely.

Sorry if THIS post is a bit abrasive, but it was not any less so than Doug’s :wink:

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Posted: 18 February 2007 10:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Barry, I’d say your continued abrasiveness on this forum is, if anything, confirmation of a misanthropic analysis of human nature ...

rolleyes

You are hardly acting like the kind, pleasant Bonobo who you claim is our spiritual cousin.

But that said, none of the people you cite is misanthropic: neither Pinker nor Wilson nor Dawkins. We’ve been through all this before, and you end up agreeing you’ve read them wrong, but a week later it’s all forgotten and you’re back to your usual tactics of slandering them with views they never held. That isn’t surprising to me, nor is the fact that you disagree with Brennen about de Waal ... you’ve consistently misread everyone you’ve cited here, not least of whom is Sober and Wilson. I’m sorry, Barry, but I just don’t trust any of your stated readings of anyone now.

As for the “real critique”, I’ve already given a bunch of them, which you’ve failed to respond to. Namely:

Who gets to decide what are “basic” and “non-basic” needs? Who gets to distribute these vouchers? Who gets to assure that no black market gets constructed? More’s the point, what happens when people decide they still would rather use money than these artificial “vouchers”? This is a recipe for the creation of a totalitarian state to control and distribute these “vouchers”.

Here are some more, along the same lines:

Who gets to take peoples’ money away? Who holds the weaponry and jails the people who refuse to hand over their cash? Who punishes the people who go on using cash substitutes?

Re. “open money”, who ensures that people redeem money they create? Who punishes those who don’t? How do you ensure “reputation” in cities of millions of people and huge percentages of transients? How do you deal with potentially several hundred million different kinds of scrip floating around? How do you exchange them? How is a person in New Jersey supposed to get the money back to the guy who printed it in Idaho? If he can’t, how does the guy from Idaho travel to New Jersey and afford dinner or a hotel room?

How do you protect against counterfeiting? What’s going to stop Joe from copying Jane’s scrip and handing it over for a purchase? If everyone is going to be able to produce their own money, the money must be pretty simple to produce, and so, will be surpassingly easy for any talented group to counterfeit. Who stops this? How? The whole system collapses if counterfeiting becomes the norm.

The passage you quoted on “Open Money” is simply too sophomoric to respond to further. There’s nothing even close to a workable theory there, just a lot of idealistic hot air.

I would say the basic element of any sort of humanism is a rigorous desire to be true to evidence and reason over political rhetoric and empty idealism. As such, these theories are the very opposite of humanism.

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