RE: capitalist religion (was: NANO: _Forbes_ cover story)

From: Miriam English (
Date: Fri Jul 20 2001 - 04:46:35 MDT

Wow! A really interesting thought train Barbara.
I am especially interested in your final paragraph.

At 11:58 PM 19/07/2001 -0500, Barbara Lamar wrote:
>Centralized control of a large, geographically diverse population always
>seems to result in disproportional control of resources by small, elite
>groups at the expense of the other members of the population. This seems to
>happen regardless of the type of economic system. Centralized control has
>seemed to be necessary in order to finance and control large-scale projects.
>I've been wondering lately if it would be possible to form joint business
>ventures without hierarchical management systems to engage in large-scale
>projects. If so, there seems to be no need for centralized government, and
>people could actually live in small, self-governing groups.

This sounds like some of the more successful open-source projects where
people participate as much or as little as they wish and choose how they
wish to involve themselves, without traditional hierarchy.

I can't remember who on this list pointed out that the common open-source
model for development is not suitable for all endeavours, and I think I
agree with them. But I also think you are onto something important here. If
this could somehow blend some of the best aspects of capitalism with the
best aspects of the open-source movement then it could be the key to having
a kind of free market that naturally tends toward small groups. This might
eliminate most of the reservations I have voiced earlier.

The main problem remaining is social justice: how to ensure that a child
born to parents who didn't want and couldn't afford children would not be
condemned to second-class citizenry for their parents' mistake, or that a
genius with a genetic disease would not be cast out of the medical system
as uninsurable. This wastes very important resources.

>Someone will
>probably say that this wouldn't work because the strong would inevitably
>conquer the weak--thus weak villages would be taken over by their stronger
>neighbors. But I'm not sure this is true. As N. Machiavelli wrote in *The
>Prince*, it's difficult to take over and rule a group of autonomous
>individuals--you constantly have to reconquer them.

Guerillas on the net... hmmm... :-)

It brings to mind the problem in conquering the Viet-Cong: they were
everywhere and nowhere, without center.
The French resistance too, with their use limited knowledge of associates
to deliberately break up the large scale organisation into many smaller cells.

Best wishes,

         - Miriam

Q. What is the similarity between an elephant and a grape?
A. They are both purple... except for the elephant.
Virtual Reality Association

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Oct 12 2001 - 14:39:50 MDT