Forward to the Past - Feudalism and Communism

Written by Sam Vaknin


The core countries of Central Europe (the Czech Republic, Hungary and, to a lesser extent, Poland) experienced industrial capitalism inrepparttar inter-war period. Butrepparttar 132663 countries comprisingrepparttar 132664 vast expanses ofrepparttar 132665 New Independent States, Russia andrepparttar 132666 Balkan had no real acquaintance with it. To them its zealous introduction is nothing but another ideological experiment and not a very rewarding one at that.

It is often said that there is no precedent torepparttar 132667 extant fortean transition from totalitarian communism to liberal capitalism. This might well be true. Yet, nascent capitalism is not without historical example. The study ofrepparttar 132668 birth of capitalism in feudal Europe may yet lead to some surprising and potentially useful insights.

The Barbarian conquest ofrepparttar 132669 teetering Roman Empire (410-476 AD) heralded five centuries of existential insecurity and mayhem. Feudalism wasrepparttar 132670 countryside's reaction to this damnation. It was a Hobson's choice and an explicit trade-off. Local lords defended their vassals against nomad intrusions in return for perpetual service bordering on slavery. A small percentage ofrepparttar 132671 population lived on trade behindrepparttar 132672 massive walls of Medieval cities.

In most parts of central, eastern and southeastern Europe, feudalism endured well intorepparttar 132673 twentieth century. It was entrenched inrepparttar 132674 legal systems ofrepparttar 132675 Ottoman Empire and of Czarist Russia. Elements of feudalism survived inrepparttar 132676 mellifluous and prolix prose ofrepparttar 132677 Habsburg codices and patents. Most ofrepparttar 132678 denizens of these moribund swathes of Europe were farmers - onlyrepparttar 132679 profligate and parasitic members of a distinct minority inhabitedrepparttar 132680 cities. The present brobdignagian agricultural sectors in countries as diverse as Poland and Macedonia attest to this continuity of feudal practices.

Both manual labour and trade were derided inrepparttar 132681 Ancient World. This derision was partially eroded duringrepparttar 132682 Dark Ages. It survived only in relation to trade and other "non-productive" financial activities and even that not pastrepparttar 132683 thirteenth century. Max Weber, in his opus, "The City" (New York, MacMillan, 1958) described this mental shift of paradigm thus: "The medieval citizen was onrepparttar 132684 way towards becoming an economic man ...repparttar 132685 ancient citizen was a political man".

What communism did torepparttar 132686 lands it permeated was to freeze this early feudal frame of mind of disdain towards "non-productive", "city-based" vocations. Agricultural and industrial occupations were romantically extolled. The cities were berated as hubs of moral turpitude, decadence and greed. Political awareness was made a precondition for personal survival and advancement. The clock was turned back. Weber's "Homo Economicus" yielded to communism's supercilious version ofrepparttar 132687 ancient Greeks' "Zoon Politikon". John of Salisbury might as well have been writing for a communist agitprop department when he penned this in "Policraticus" (1159 AD): "...if (rich people, people with private property) have been stuffed through excessive greed and if they hold in their contents too obstinately, (they) give rise to countless and incurable illnesses and, through their vices, can bring aboutrepparttar 132688 ruin ofrepparttar 132689 body as a whole". The body inrepparttar 132690 text beingrepparttar 132691 body politic.

This inimical attitude should have come as no surprise to students of either urban realities or of communism, their parricidal off-spring. The city liberated its citizens fromrepparttar 132692 bondage ofrepparttar 132693 feudal labour contract. And it acted asrepparttar 132694 supreme guarantor ofrepparttar 132695 rights of private property. It relied on its trading and economic prowess to obtain and secure political autonomy. John of Paris, arguably one ofrepparttar 132696 first capitalist cities (at least according to Braudel), wrote: "(The individual) had a right to property which was not with impunity to be interfered with by superior authority - because it was acquired by (his) own efforts" (in Georges Duby, "The age ofrepparttar 132697 Cathedrals: Art and Society, 980-1420, Chicago, Chicago University Press, 1981). Despiterepparttar 132698 fact that communism was an urban phenomenon (albeit with rustic roots) - it abnegated these "bourgeoisie" values. Communal ownership replaced individual property and servitude torepparttar 132699 state replaced individualism. In communism, feudalism was restored. Even geographical mobility was severely curtailed, as wasrepparttar 132700 case in feudalism. The doctrine ofrepparttar 132701 Communist party monopolized all modes of thought and perception - very much asrepparttar 132702 church-condoned religious strain did 700 years before. Communism was characterized by tensions between party, state andrepparttar 132703 economy - exactly asrepparttar 132704 medieval polity was plagued by conflicts between church, king and merchants-bankers. Paradoxically, communism was a faithful re-enactment of pre-capitalist history.

The Dismal Mind - Economics as a Pretension to Science - Part II

Written by Sam Vaknin


III. The Scientific Method

To qualify as science, an economic theory must satisfyrepparttar following conditions:

All-inclusive (anamnetic) It must encompass, integrate and incorporate allrepparttar 132661 facts known. Coherent It must be chronological, structured and causal. Consistent Self-consistent (its sub-"narratives" cannot contradict one another or go againstrepparttar 132662 grain ofrepparttar 132663 main "narrative") and consistent withrepparttar 132664 observed phenomena (both those related torepparttar 132665 subject and those pertaining torepparttar 132666 rest ofrepparttar 132667 universe). Logically compatible It must not violaterepparttar 132668 laws of logic both internally (the narrative must abide by some internally imposed logic) and externally (the Aristotelian logic which is applicable torepparttar 132669 observable macro world). Insightful It must inspire a sense of awe and astonishment, which isrepparttar 132670 result of seeing something familiar in a new light orrepparttar 132671 result of seeing a pattern emerging out of a big body of data ("data mining"). The insights must berepparttar 132672 inevitable conclusion ofrepparttar 132673 logic,repparttar 132674 language and ofrepparttar 132675 development ofrepparttar 132676 narrative. Aesthetic The narrative must be both plausible and "right", beautiful (aesthetic), not cumbersome, not awkward, not discontinuous, smooth and so on. Parsimonious The narrative must employrepparttar 132677 minimum number of assumptions and entities in order to satisfy allrepparttar 132678 above conditions. Explanatory The narrative must explainrepparttar 132679 behaviour of economic actors, their decisions, why events developrepparttar 132680 way they do. Predictive (prognostic) The narrative must possessrepparttar 132681 ability to predict future events,repparttar 132682 future behaviour of economic actors and of other meaningful figures andrepparttar 132683 inner emotional and cognitive dynamics of said actors. Prescriptive Withrepparttar 132684 power to induce change (whether it is forrepparttar 132685 better, is a matter of contemporary value judgements and fashions). Imposing The narrative must be regarded by society asrepparttar 132686 preferable and guiding organizing principle. Elastic The narrative must possessrepparttar 132687 intrinsic abilities to self organize, reorganize, give room to emerging order, accommodate new data comfortably, avoid rigidity in its modes of reaction to attacks from within and from without. In some of these respects, current economic narratives are usually theories in disguise. But scientific theories must satisfy not only most ofrepparttar 132688 above conditions. They must also passrepparttar 132689 crucial hurdles of testability, verifiability, refutability, falsifiability, and repeatability all failed by economic theories. Many economists argue that no experiments can be designed to testrepparttar 132690 statements of economic narratives, to establish their truth-value and, thus, to convert them to theorems.

There are five reasons to account for this shortcoming -repparttar 132691 inability to test hypotheses in economics:

Ethical Experiments would have to involve humans. To achieverepparttar 132692 necessary result,repparttar 132693 subjects will have to be ignorant ofrepparttar 132694 reasons forrepparttar 132695 experiments and their aims. Sometimes evenrepparttar 132696 very performance of an experiment will have to remain a secret (double blind experiments). Some experiments may involve unpleasant experiences. This is ethically unacceptable. Design Problems - The design of experiments in economics is awkward and difficult. Mistakes are often inevitable, however careful and meticulousrepparttar 132697 designer ofrepparttar 132698 experiment is. The Psychological Uncertainty Principle The current position of a human subject can be (theoretically) fully known. Butrepparttar 132699 passage of time andrepparttar 132700 experiment itself influencerepparttar 132701 subject and void this knowledge ("time inconsistencies"). The very processes of measurement and observation influencerepparttar 132702 subject and change him. Uniqueness Experiments in economics, therefore, tend to be unique and cannot be replicated elsewhere and at other times even if they deal withrepparttar 132703 SAME subjects. The subjects (the tested humans) are neverrepparttar 132704 same due torepparttar 132705 aforementioned psychological uncertainty principle. Repeatingrepparttar 132706 experiments with other subjects adversely affectsrepparttar 132707 scientific value ofrepparttar 132708 results. The undergeneration of testable hypotheses Economics does not generate a sufficient number of hypotheses, which can be subjected to scientific testing. This has to do withrepparttar 132709 fabulous (=storytelling) nature ofrepparttar 132710 discipline. In a way, Economics has affinity with some private languages. It is a form of art and, as such, is self-sufficient. If structural, internal constraints and requirements are met a statement is deemed true even if it does not satisfy external (scientific) requirements. Thus,repparttar 132711 standard theory of utility is considered valid in economics despite empirical evidence torepparttar 132712 contrary - simply because it is aesthetic and mathematically convenient. So, what are economic narratives good for?

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