Sunday, November 09, 2008

Identity and bargaining

[Post-Identity Politics?
from Larval Subjects. Political theory and politics are always two different things. Change comes from the ground itself and those that organize and force power to capitulate. Theory creates weapons that can both help us to understand these strange new movements– these rumbling and unheard voices so unlike the platitudes that populate the ruling ideology that clogs the airwaves and newspapers –and can help to formalize these movements, intensify them, and create weapons for them. Today one of the most vital tasks is to once again put economics on the table as a site of politics, shifting away from the endless politics of identity.
larvalsubjects Says: November 9, 2008 at 4:50 am Ryan, I think you’re misconstruing my argument here. I did not make the claim that Obama won because of the economy, though certainly the current housing and Wall Street woes contributed to his victory. Rather, I made the claim that the election of Obama presents the opportunity to shift the focus of political struggle to economic issues. I think Nick makes the point nicely when he underlines that there’s a brief window of opportunity here to shift the grounds of debate. American politics has been dominated by the cultural and semiotic register for decades. It has revolved around questions of identity and group affiliations. This was true for much of this election as well. As a result of this focus, economic issues have been largely invisible. Sure, we talk about taxes, incomes, investments, etc., but we do not talk about the system of capital as such and what underpins it. It is taken as an unstated given and treated as a natural force that need not even be spoken and which is outside of the political altogether. Instead we content ourselves with analyzing culture, identities, promoting various rights, etc. What is interesting about economy is that it draws a transversal line across these competing identities, opening a space where the cultural and semiotic recedes into the background, and a shared site of struggle becomes possible. In many respects I see the focus on identity– whether it be religious, ethnic, gender, national, etc –as a sort of symptom in the psychoanalytic sense responding to global flows of capital that turn “all that is solid into air”. The distraught agent reterritorializes on identity as a last refuge in a world that is perpetually changing, precarious, and being undermined, and sets about locating an enemy as the sources of this precariousness.]

[Why economists should study the origins of bargaining?
from Adam Smith's Lost Legacy by Gavin Kennedy
Having presented part 1 of my paper, The Prehistory of Bargaining: a multi-disciplinary approach’, to the EAEPE in Rome, I had a conversation later with one of the participants about why I worked on such a subject, it being distant from the normal concerns of economics... I began the work almost accidentally while pondering why economists had so little to say about the ubiquitous behaviours of negotiation, which dominate human relationships, and not just in commerce. While teaching and writing about negotiation for many audiences, I had consumed fairly early on the sum total of books and papers appearing within the modern discipline, beginning with Zeuthen (1931) and Hicks (1931), Nash (1950) and onwards... Smith himself had much to say about how bargaining may have emerged with, for exampe, his parable of the deer and beaver hunters transacting by ‘higgling and bargaining’ to find a satisfactory ratio for their exchange. I was not satisfied that this was more than an attempted ‘explanation’ for an imaginary exchange for another purpose. That is why I widened my search beyond economics to history, eventually to prehistory, to evolutionary psychology, to anthropology, to sociology and beyond. Some part of this work is contained in my paper, ‘The Prehistory of Bargaining: a multi-disciplinary approach’, Part 1 of which you may download from the Lost Legacy Home page.] 11:52 AM

[You're right, Tim. I didn't see this coming. And I wasn't alone. People a lot smarter than I am didn't see it coming either. So what happened?
I should mention first that the few people who did see it coming were not necessarily any wiser than anyone else. Some of them had predicted nine of the last five recessions. A stopped clock is right twice a day. Even those who claim to have foreseen this mess couldn't make the case well enough to alarm very many other people. Where was I in 2005? (by Russell Roberts)
from Cafe Hayek] 12:39 PM

Chandrayaan-1 has entered the lunar orbit, and very advanced computing power is behind its success. But strangely, with the same level of computing and mathematical models, economists as well as analysts, not only failed to predict the current financial meltdown, but also are incapable of forecasting its future trajectory. [TNM]

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