30 October 2018

Systems have common properties

They can all be modelled as stocks, flows, feedbacks, and constraints.  Current anglosphere politics never mentions constraints.

So; extractive capitalism as practiced is the idea that you get rich by some combination of not permitting costs on the books, or at least by not permitting costs on your books.  Anything you can charge a rent for is an opportunity for extractive capitalism.  Flint, Michigan's created water crisis (it's a real crisis, but it happened because someone created it by means of improving their extractive position without regard to anything not on their books) is a simple example.  So is the classic "landlord won't do maintenance" tenancy problem.

This has three large problems.  One is that the outcomes are undesirable to the majority of the population, and in nominal democracies this ought to allow adjustments as to what must be accounted for when determining profit.  Two is that the available loot has diminished sharply from the 19th and 20th centuries; about the only really major opportunities involve extracting from your internal population, which is most of what creates problem one.  Problem three is that it's increasingly obvious that this whole "not including in the determination of profit" accounting is going to stop; it might stop due to a collective rush of sense to the head, or it might stop due to an extinction event, but it's going to stop.

Systems get more extreme in preference to changing to some other system.  What we're seeing with the rise of fascist politics is the absolutely standard oligarch response to "you'll have to stop looting"; genocide is much preferable to any diminished profit, and looting produces profit, so.... (Yes, really.  The purpose of a system is what it does.  If what it's doing is genocide, that's what's it's for.  The current atmospheric carbon load trend direction is unquestionably genocide.  There are lots of others.)

It's important to keep in mind that the "let's murder a minority" response isn't inevitable; it's even quite trivial to not have that.  (Raise wages until people are economically secure.  Oligarchs never pick this one.)

The prefered material outcome is for wages to rise, and the spread in incomes to drop.  This is why I like income and asset caps; no only does it remove the "if I can keep these people dying of being poisoned off the books, I can make enormous quantities of money" motivation, it makes it hard to buy political influence.  Between not being all that much more prosperous than anybody else and everybody being relatively decently provided for, buying influence gets difficult.

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