June 04, 2008

WHO'S IN THE SADDLE?


You know who, courtesy of wikipedia.

The theme this week at Goat Rope is the economy and how we think about it. If this is your first visit, please click on earlier posts. There are also links and comments about current events.

One irony about the economy is that while people make it, we often act like it made us and rules over us. As Ralph Waldo Emerson observed in the 1800s when America's market revolution was in full swing, "things are in the saddle and ride mankind." Henry David Thoreau made similar observations in Walden.

Marx called this "the fetishism of commodities" in Das Kapital. He believed it was pervasive when goods are produced primarily for exchange rather than use. You don't have to buy his whole package to see his point:

A commodity is therefore a mysterious thing, simply because in it the social character of men's labor appears to them as an objective character stamped upon the product of that labor; because the relation of the producers to the sum total of their own labor is presented to them as a social relation, existing not between themselves, but between the products of their labor...To them their own social action takes the form of the action of things, which rule the producers instead of being ruled by them.



Picture an auto worker getting her car repossessed because nobody is buying cars because there are too many cars...

The idea of human creations getting away from their creators and doing damage is an image that has haunted the western world since the early days of the industrial revolution. A classic example of this is Mary Shelley's classic novel Frankenstein (search this blog for an earlier series on that), but the theme (meme?) is alive and kicking in the post-modern imagination, as films like Blade-Runner and television series like Battlestar Gallactica show.

Again, it doesn't have to be that way. While command economies have proven to be failures, people do have the ability to make conscious economic decisions at the individual and group level and to set up the groundrules and policies under which markets operate.

OIL EATING FOOD. This is a good summary of the problem with biofuels and how these impact poor people around the world.

CREATIVITY. Here are some suggestions for boosting yours.

ARE YOU A MIND READER? The answer is probably yes, with no psychic abilities needed. The trouble is, we're not very good at it.

THE SCIENCE OF SARCASM explained here.

GREAT NEWS! Red wine may slow aging. That being the case, El Cabrero needs to come up with a plan for the next 100 or so years.

NEED MORE COWBELL? You got it.

GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED

2 comments:

Wabi-Sabi said...

That picture sure is "a powerful & attractive man".

I saw that sarcasm article too and thought it was very cool.

Now I know which part of the brain is faulty in some of the folks I *get* to work with sometimes (I'll let you guess who), as well as my mother-in-law (bless her heart).

El Cabrero said...

That indeed is a powerful and attractive man, not unlike yourself, aside from the flat head and neckbolts.

I have a pretty good guess about who and will try to confirm at our next meeting.