Sunday, January 3, 2010

Mutualist Economics

Just what you thought I'd be writing about come the new year. A big title for a simple thought with interesting implications. Symbiosis means living together, and I believe that we must first be able to live with ourselves as a basis for our interconnections with others.

Consider all your desires, they need to live together. No amount of your not wanting a desire will make it not exist. Sure you can hide it. That's called repression. It leads to neurosis. If that's what you want. You can cannibalise your heart to push through your brain's agenda. That's called uptight WASP values. You can do that too if you want.

The great thing about symbiotic systems is they can at their best be mutualist, meaning you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. It is the classic win/win scenario. So instead of our differences being something to be tolerated, or succeeded despite, they are the keys to mutual strength. The best couples are made of people with complementary strengths; their weaknesses give them appreciation for the mate's ability. It is also true of our interior selves.

Now on to the economic part: these systems, whether intrapsychic or social or ecological or possession oriented are feedback loops. It is to the advantage of one in a mutualist relation to add value to the process from which one receives, for higher value's sake. Put another way: if you bring champagne yeast to the loop, you eventually get to drink champagne. It needs to be understood that you don't have what it takes to make it all for yourself. Your supply line doesn't contain enough of what it takes to make a superior product. So like on Sesame Street, you learn to 'cooperate.'

"Ahhh... this is one of those, 'be nice to everyone and we'll all get along,' speeches," you say. Not exactly. A mutualist system is still based in the demand/supply=effort equation. If you have a great need for something and small supply, you will have to exert great effort (cost). Lots of need, but with an even greater supply leads to low effort. What is important about mutualist economics is that they are self enhancing feedback systems - they grow, they increase their supply through their use. Which means that the effort necessary for a mutualist system decreases over time. The supply becomes larger and larger.

This, you might think leads to decrease in effort, and it can, if one is content. Funny thing about humans is their not being very content. So as supply increases so does demand. Like the way the blindingly fast computer bought a few months ago is now an accursed and sluggish behemoth. It is unwise to stop up the supply, this can cause a backward feedback loop called 'sour grapes.' People want to feel relief, adn happiness. Make it so the supply doesn't advance quickly enough and they will frustrate, which leads to the playing of board games, and learning to knit. So called 'slackers' are customers who could not be satisfied, and so leave the economic loop to seek their desires. They are not 'low desire' individuals; they are frustrated. For everyone else who likes the products of this civilisation, let the supply roll full tilt and acclimatization will pull the demand forward.

Ahhh... this is one of those, 'just let the free market do whatever it feels like, damned the environment,' speeches, you say. Not exactly. In the practicing of mutualist psychology, relationships, and economics, it begins to dawn on people that the ecological welfare of the planet is also part of this. Increasing the soil's fertility is to our advantage. Preta terra, a self regenerating soil, has added to it charcoal, made from the leftover bio mass we don't eat. Plant the corn, pick the corn, char the stalks, stir it in, better soil for better corn. It wins, we win. And as we pursue more mutualist systems things get easier and easier, it is like the improvements earn compound interest. As to those who say we need to conserve, I disagree: we need to expand. Years ago I wrote a piece called ecocracy, I now see it is a word. Nature is not conservative, nature is expansive and proliferates in every imaginable way. The question is about how.

So it is with our lives. The Pareto 80-20 rule, that 80% of the value comes from 20% of the work, is not a formula to slack, or for second rate products. It is instead the result of mutualist systems that already exist and are being utilised, often without realising they are, and most often without adding anything to the system (parasitic businesses). Rather the 80-20 rule expressed the best feedback state: one in which our efforts of 20% will yield an 80% return. Mutualism is good for the soul, good for each other, good for the planet, and good business.

It is my new years resolution to engage, to the best of my ability, in only mutualist systems.

Mr. Kingfisher

1 comment:

  1. Just a note: Mutualism is a term already taken by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. See Wikipedia.

    As an alternative perhaps: "Symbiotism."