Marxism, Complexity, and the Convergence of Economic Ideology



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Marxism, Complexity, and the Convergence
of Economic Ideology

A Project


Presented to the Faculty of the Liberal Arts Master’s Program

California State University, Sacramento


Submitted in partial satisfaction of

the requirements for the degree of


Masters of Arts
in
Liberal Arts

by
Craig James Townsend


FALL

2012


© 2012
Craig James Townsend
All Rights Reserved
Marxism, Complexity, and the Convergence
of Economic Ideology

A Project

by
Craig James Townsend

Approved by:


_______________________________________, Committee Chair

Dr. Jeffrey Brodd


_______________

Date

Student: Craig James Townsend


I certify that this student has met the requirements for format contained in the University format manual, and that this project is suitable for shelving in the Library and credit is to be awarded for the Project.

_________________________________, Graduate Coordinator _________

Dr. Victoria Shinbrot Date

Liberal Arts Master’s Program


Abstract
of


Marxism, Complexity, and the Convergence
of Economic Ideology
by
Craig James Townsend


Statement of Problem
Since the discovery of nonlinear dynamics and systems theory with the creation of the disciplines of complexity theory and complexity economics, a reappraisal of Karl Marx’s evolutionary theories in light of these new advancements has not been readily undertaken. I have done an analysis of the extant works from various authors in the fields of economics, science and the humanities and compared them with Marx’s philosophy within the complexity theory paradigm to show that there are significant similarities between them and that a convergence of economic ideology is emerging out of these fields.
Sources of Data
I reviewed written works from various fields of: complexity theory, classical liberal economics, the Austrian School of Economics, the works of Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, Vladimir Lenin, and other authors’ works comprising the related fields of study over the last two hundred years along with technical journals and web resources.

Conclusion Reached
Complexity economics and the techno-optimist data readily corrects the problems with early twentieth century versions of Marxist eschatology while upholding Karl Marx’s later conclusion of the need for capitalism to fully evolve in order for it to reach the point of its own negation. Thus Simon, Lomborg, Goklany, Kelley, Ridley, Diamandis et al. can be comprehended as actually proving Marx’s later philosophical ideal and providing the economic statistical data to firmly validate his theory. Coupled with the economic data of the techno-optimists named above, the classical liberal economists theories have been proven by the field of complexity economics and support and uphold the techno-optimists discoveries and data with the evolutionary insights of Karl Marx. Thus in the first part of the twenty-first century a convergence of economic ideology is emerging supported by the data compiled by the various fields of research.
_____________________________, Committee Chair

Dr. Jeffrey Brodd


________________

Date
Preface


The aim of parousiastic gnosticism is to destroy the order of being, which

is experienced as defective and unjust, and through [M]an’s creative power to replace it with a perfect and just order.

-Eric Voegelin


Here at the beginning of the twenty-first century we stand upon the higher ground of scientific and technological discovery that heralds the coming of a new order of being. The world is griped by two divergent visions of a utopian future for humankind. The environmental movement wishes to take humanity back to a Rousseauian paradise before the “original sin” of industrialization, the other vision shared by cornucopians, techno-optimists and complexity theorists portend a futuristic utopia created by exponentially accelerating technologies that will not only transform society and economics, but as the Transhumanists theorize humanity itself.

Complexity theory is breaking old ground using a new scientific plough; its discoveries are older than the nineteenth century and as fresh as today, with hints of a futuristic tomorrow. It is a new discipline of non-linear systems proving an a priori praxeological science (economics) that had no mathematical mechanism to prove its theoretical assertions before complexity theory. Classical Liberalism and the Austrian School of Economics was much like the laser. It awaited the invention of fiber optic cable many decades later in order for the laser to have a practical application and to begin changing the world. Complexity theory and complexity economics is that “fiber optic cable” as it now gives the means by which both Classical Liberalism and the Austrian School can prove their theories. Complexity Economics presently is already well on the way of doing so, while the Austrian School remains on the sidelines awaiting further developments. The cornucopians and techno-optimists have greatly supported the complexity theorists with their own discoveries. That this area of investigation also confirmed Karl Marx’s insight regarding the necessity for “the full evolution of capitalism in order for the revolution to come” is one of the amazing coincidences of this emerging process.

The idea of spontaneous, interrelated, evolutionary systems is centuries old. It took a new field of science to transfer it out of the realm of mysticism into that of empiricism. As it evolves it is uniting together once desperate schools of thought, left, right and center into a new convergent whole. As Butler Shafer so relevantly states “in a period of significant change, we must be prepared to engage in significant learning, rather than just reaffirming what we already know … For an individual or a civilization to maintain its sense of vibrancy, a more fundamental kind of learning must be employed: paradigm breaking.”1



The arising economic data and discoveries from the techno-optimists and Singularitarians indicate that emerging technological advancements will dramatically and exponentially change our world. Technological evolution also indicates that an underlying pattern and framework, upon which previously divergent ideologies can eventually converge so that once fierce ideological opponents can be reconciled, is also emerging. The study that follows is paradigm breaking in that it presents a way of seeing old paradigms and oppositional economic ideologies in a new synergistic fashion in light of recent discoveries. One of the techno-optimists, Kevin Kelly, summarizes this convergent process in the last chapter of his book What Technology Wants:

What I have shown in this book is that a single thread of self-generation ties the cosmos, the bios, and the technos together into one creation. … Technology is stitching together all the minds of the living, wrapping the planet in a vibrating cloak of electronic nerves, entire continents of machines conversing with one another. …Technology amplifies the mind’s urge toward the unity of all thought, it accelerates the connections among all people, and it will populate the world with all conceivable ways of comprehending the infinite.2


Technology is not only tying together the minds of the living, but also of the dead. The great minds of the previous centuries are uniting with those now living, slowly merging into a holism as they converge to a point of transcendence.

It was believed by the Scholastics that “Truth” was a syncretic jewel in which each facet reflected and conditioned every other part; each element of truth coalesces without any errors and contradictions, as any errors and contradictions are prima fascia evidence that we don’t possess “The Truth.” It should then be no surprise that here at the beginning of the twenty-first century we should begin to see the coalescing of various elements within divergent ideologies into a complex whole as the world begins to slowly unite. It is then only natural that our philosophies and ideologies are ripe for unification as well as they burst their old defective skins. Teilhard de Chardin intuited this time of convergence now upon us and the new discoveries in science, technology and economics indicate strongly the potential way forward in an arising paradigm of an interrelated network system. In the words of Teilhard himself:

Evolution has been weaving its web around us. We believed that we did not change; but now, like infants whose eyes are opening to the light, we are becoming aware of a world in which neo-Time, organizing and conferring a dynamic upon Space, is endowing the totality of our knowledge and beliefs with

a new structure and a new direction.3


A new structure and a new direction is self-assembling before us as we travel the path into the future. Buckminster Fuller’s accelerating acceleration is pushing human civilization there faster and faster as Kevin Kelly’s Technium evolves and pushes society up the slope of Ray Kurzweil’s exponential curve toward his concept of the coming Singularity, Teilhard de Chardin’s omega point. That so many great minds and visionaries, both religious and secular, throughout the centuries intuited this neo-Time is more than an amazing coincidence. This study is at heart an analysis of this synergistic phenomenon; its intention is best captured by the immortal words of Fichte:

What man of noble mind is there who does not want to scatter, by action or thought, a grain of seed for the unending progress in the perfection of his race, to fling something new and unprecedented into time, that it may remain there and become the inexhaustible source of new creations?4


Dedication

I dedicate this work to Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, who inspired so many of us growing up in the 1960’s to dream great dreams of humanity’s possible technological future and to yearn “To boldly to go where no Man has gone before!” We are on the cusp technologically of the twenty-third century, two centuries early, and we can begin to glimpse beyond the event horizon. How you intuited and foresaw so much of it Gene, we will never know.



Acknowledgements

I wish to thank the following individuals for the great help they have offered me on the completion of this Master’s project, especially Dr. Jeffrey Brodd, Chair of the Department of Humanities and Religious Studies, for his tireless support, guidance, and infinite patience throughout my Master’s of Liberal Arts program. I also wish to thank my other professors, Dr. Victoria Shinbrot, Dr. Richard Shek, Dr. Maria Jaoudi, Dr. Alyson Buckman, Dr. Andreas Agocs, and the retired professors, Dr. Mary Giles and Dr. Robert Platzner. Please forgive me if I have forgotten anyone. You have all made my intellectual journey a rewarding and exciting one at California State University Sacramento throughout the years.

I also wish to thank Matt Ridley, whose email responses, books and videos encouraged me greatly. To Kevin Kelly, your ideas in your blog, books and videos are magnificent. To Peter Diamandis, your new book, Abundance, was truly revolutionary, reframing the evidence for the law of increasing returns for a new generation. I also wish to thank the great minds and intellects who have greatly influenced me throughout my life by my reading their great thoughts: Sir Isaac Newton, F. Bastiat, Thomas Payne, J. B. Say, K. Marx, F. Engels, J.J. Nock, Ludwig von Mises, F.A. Hayek, J. Schumpeter, H. Hazlitt, A. Einstein, J.F. Revel, Oriana Fallaci, Ayn Rand, A.J. Galambos, J. Simon, I. Goklany, B. Shaffer, Kevin Kelly, Matt Ridley, Peter Diamandis, Brian Arthur, Francis Heylighen, Ray Kurzweil and the many others whom space will not allow me to fully mention. I myself realized a long time ago that, “In order to have great thoughts you must read the great minds,” and I have had the greatest pleasure throughout my life to read so many of them.

I especially wish to thank my two greatest boyhood heroes, Gene Roddenberry, whose incredible vision through Star Trek did so much to change the world and my own vision of the future, and to astronaut Neil Armstrong, whose “One giant leap for Mankind” will never be forgotten. May you rest in peace having gained the laurel wreath of the true world hero.


TABLE OF CONTENTS


Page

Preface………………………………………………………………………………...... vii


Dedication………………………………………………………………………….……..xi
Acknowledgements……………………………………………………………………....xii
List of Tables …………..……………….……………………………………..….…... xvii
List of Figures.………………………………..………………………………….…… xviii
Chapter


  1. INTRODUCTION……………………………………………………………….. 1

  2. A Brief History of Evolutionary Dynamic Concepts………... 3

  3. Adam Smith, the Founder of all Economic Schools…..…..…. 5

  4. Adam Smith and the Invisible Hand: Early Systems thinking............................................................................................................. 8

  5. Teilhard De Chardin: The Noosphere rising….……..………..... 17




  1. Complexity: Theory and Economics………….…………………....24

  2. Ridley, Kelly, Diamandis and Kurzweil, the Techno-Progressive Revolution………………………………………………. 33

  3. The Two Teachings in Karl Marx: Revolution or


Evolution?…………………………………………………………………...37

  1. Julian Simon, Bjorn Lomborg, Indur Goklany and Complexity Theory: Marx’s Evolutionary Insight Upheld and Proven..…………………………………………………………………51

  2. The Real Contradiction in Capitalist Production………….. 70

  3. The True Mechanisms of Capitalist Re-evolution…...….…....87

  1. The Increasing Economy and Scope of Scale…………………....87

  2. Buckminster Fuller and the Process of Ephemeralization……….88

  3. The Know-More Factor………………………………………….92

  4. The Learning/Experience Curve…………………………………93

  5. The Law of Comparative Advantage…………………….………95

  6. Specialization and Division of Knowledge and Labor…….…….98

  7. The Adjacent Possible…………………………………….….…103

  8. The Continuously Falling Rate of Profit and Prices……………105

  9. Dematerialization……………………………………………….112

  10. The Law of Increasing Returns…………………………………116

  11. Kurzweil’s Law: The Law of Exponential Returns…………….118

  12. There Are No Limits to Human Knowledge……….……….…..120

  1. Conclusion………………………………………………………………....123

  2. Epilogue……………………………………………………………………..128

Appendix A: The Socialist Calculation Debate Revisited……………………..……….133

Appendix b: Who Won the Socialism Calculation Debate?…………………………...150


Appendix c: Index of Economic Figures, 210 Years of Declining Prices…….…....….158

Bibliography………………………………….………………………………………...170



List of Tables

Tables Page





  1. Old Economics vs. New Economics………………………………………………27

List of Figures
Figures Page

  1. The Six Epochs of Evolution………………………………………….…….22

  2. Linear vs. Exponential Growth …………………………………….……….50

  3. Inflation Adjusted Raw Industrial Prices……………………………….…...59

  4. Cycle of Progress…………………………………………………….………62

  5. Cycle of Progress page 2……….……………………………………………63

  6. Rate of Acquisition of the Basic Inventory of Cosmic Absolutes-The 92 Elements……………………………………………………………….…….91

  7. A Century of Decline………………………………………………………158

  8. Metal Detector……………………………………………………………..159

  9. Food Expenditures Share of Disposable Income 1929-2008………………160

  10. U.S. Wholesale Milk Prices (Real) 1890-2010…………………………….161

  11. A Mechanics Wage Rate vs. Price of Bread 1570-1825……………………161

  12. Real Price of Eggs ($/doz.) 1890-2008……………………………………..162

  13. Aluminum Prices 1895-2010……………………………………………….163

  14. Aluminum Production Curve 1901- 2007…………………………………..163

  15. Rare-Earth Element Production and Rare-Earth Patent Activity…………...164

  16. Inflation Adjusted Rare Earth Oxide Prices 1940-2010……………………165

  17. TV Deflation Rate 2005-2010……………………………………………...165




  1. Deflation Rate of Computer Prices 1998-2009……………………………..166

  2. Cost Per Unit of Computing Power Continues to Decline…………….…...166

  3. Historical Cost of Computer Memory and Storage 1950-2010…………….167

  4. Cost per Raw Megabase of DNA Sequence………………………………..168

  5. Cost per Genome……………………………………………………………169



1 Butler Shaffer, Boundaries of Order: Private Property as a Social System (Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute Press, 2009), 302, 304.


2 Kevin Kelly, What Technology Wants (New York: Viking, 2010), 356-359.

3 Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Future of Man [1959] (New York: Image Books/Doubleday, 2004), 77.


4 Johann G. Fichte, “What is a People in the Higher Meaning of the Word, and What is Love of Fatherland,” in European Romanticism: A Brief History with Documents, ed. Warren Breckman (New York: Bedford/St Martin’s, 2008), 115.


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