A Study of Culture, Belief, and Social Structure by Tahir Iqbal - HTML preview
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From Gramsci, we take the idea that there are interests in society. The interests, or desires, of an individual will affect the messages that they accept. Ideas will often be rejected if they are against a person’s interests and will often become warped to fit their desires and prejudices. What interests are there in AA? It is not correct that a non-racist person will find AA in their interests, except as they may perceive that it is sending a message to the US to stop or carry out a policy or value. Identity will define a persons interests as will economic status and historical factors.
The progress of an idea, its metamorphosis as it travels across society inter and intra-generationally, is determined by the methodology of the group that discuss the idea. From Popper, an Open System ,or one that allows criticism will create better ideas by cutting away at bad parts of ideas until we reach the ideal truth. From Hegel, we suggest that ideas are created through criticism which eventually reaches the ideal. We argue below that democracy is a valid system for quickly reaching the ideal.
We can look at ideas in the relations they have with each other, for example anthropology and sociology are linked as social science, though they contain different methodologies and have contradictory concepts, heterogeneity in the former and homogeneity in the latter at different levels to each other. Ideas form massive idea maps and are part of social forces’ ideologies.There is information compression as ideas spread across the network, which leads ,from Shannon, to signal degradation, that is the information content of the message deteriorates as it goes through the network.
Some ideas are archetypes, that is there is a fuzzy logic relation between ideas throughout history and across different parts of the world and society. Marxism comes from the Christianity archetype since they are based on similar privilege of the poor, though this is a fuzzy identity. We can identify similarities which can lead us to arguing that different ideas are linked through time by comparing similarities in their idea maps.
Social norms are rules and values that are part of a social force. They generate can generate energy when they are violated by another group, and also they generate action and evolution of strategies. A social norm to dress differently to others will lead to a continually changing set of styles of fashion, though the desire for conformity will lead to archetypes being held to, as will the technical competence of producers of clothes. The limitation of bureaucracy may lead to social forces using a distributed organisation and decision making structure. This is the division of the command structure into many sources, with the piecemeal approach to solving problems across many participants.The Universal Social Model Applied to Democracy Free speech, free values (that is the toleration of alternative value systems), free universities and also a free press leads to a greater amount of creation, adaptation and synthesis of ideas through debate.
Open debate that is progressive requires criticism, which leads to new ideas being created to overcome opposition, and also listening, that is people must be prepared to learn from others, so all ideas are transmitted across the network and allowed to synthesise. This leads to maximum creation of new ideas and thus greater choice. Whether or not people should have a filter is difficult to analyse since the filter changes ideas to fit interests in society. An ideal debating team or parliament as we call it, will require many individuals, some who are against each other and some who are more objective and do not have much of a filter outside of the rational. Indeed a few wise madmen with no filter whatsoever may even be useful.
Democracy is argued to be progressive as we have outlined it. Clearly there can be many forms of democracy which all produce the same effect. The main thing needed is a group of heterogeneous people who are creative, representative of all interests and understand or can learn a large range of issues.
Democracy has the ability to distribute decision making and problem solving to create novel and representative solutions which are in line with the interests of society. The ability to overcome paradigm limitations due to free values, makes the need for democracy in society ever more pressing, and the need for people to understand how democracy really works to create solutions that authoritarian, despotic regimes are less well able to create.
While the UK parliament has both an objective unfiltered aspect, the House of Lords, and a more filtered interest representing group, the House of Commons, the problem with this system is that they do not continually debate critically between each other in one house. The problem is the limitations of either house would possibly be transmitted mimetically across the group making the house either very objective or very interest particularly short term political interest orientated.
The problem with knowledge is that it is often influenced politically. This may lead to a hegemony occurring with an elite’s interest controlling knowledge. This applies to parliament as well. The way to avoid this problem is to have knowledge representing a wide variety of interests and for those interests to be allowed free rein in debate. The limitation of participants in debate as well as the restriction of different subjects methodology prevent knowledge from being applied well to existing problems. The slow change in knowledge to keep up with present issues is also a problem. The limitation of subject matter allows elites to take control as well. These criticisms also apply to parliament as well.Traditional democracy is representative. The voters choose someone who is essentially an accountable limited term dictator. We suggest a new route to solving the problems of the world and society.
In short we suggest having everyone enter into debates which they choose to enter giving ideas on how to solve problems in the interests of society. This would create a better democracy. The theoretical basis of this is distributed computing. Essentially this is where many people each contribute to the solution of a problem. The fact of the matter is that people each have a limited amount of mental capacity, so if a problem is broken down and given to many people who each solve part of the problem, much more complex problems can be solved. This is also similar to the production technique known as Open Source used in the creation of Linux. Clearly this requires an educated society and more resources should be ploughed into initial and ongoing education, rational thought and critical thinking.
The essence of this new democracy is to be found in debate. The many participants would contribute their ideas to a forum, perhaps on the internet, and would debate the relative merits of their ideas. Criticism is essential for this process to work, maintaining quality of debate and ideas. People would be stimulated by seeing the forum and create even more ideas and solutions. The lack of need for voting on ideas would be counterbalanced by the fact that anyone could enter the debate and criticise any idea. The debate would need people to realise that they must be constructive and respectful to others. The debate would also have its guiding principal of finding consensus among participants. We should stress that these debates are not a substitute for existing democratic institutions like parliament, but essentially they would create another house in parliament, one in cyberspace. The House of Everyone. While this house would have no legal powers it would impact on the debate in the other houses of parliament, simply because it would generate better ideas that would be in line with people's feelings on various matters. A team of moderators would go through the forum and find common themes in the debates and write articles summarising the common points people make. These articles would be available on the forum and would stimulate the generation of yet more ideas. Articles would also be available on the constraints facing governments written by civil servants and academics which would give people a better idea of how to tackle problems which society faces. Instead of the debate in society being divided into various interest groups lobbying parliament, people would interact in one forum to create a united Britain.
Legitimacy is created in this kind of democracy through everyone feeling like they have contributed to policy. This would solve the government’s main problem which is to legitimise itself. This is in opposition to the NeoConservative idea of the “noble lie” where governments don’t tell the masses everything to enable them to believe in the government.More ideas would be created and also ideas would be generated that were in line with existing thinking of the people of society. Why should one only have a say when the election comes? What is anti-Americanism?
Anti-Americanism is a term used to describe the many different processes and reactions to America as a nationstate in existence and in action. It relates to world views, ideas, discourses and narratives associated with many different groups in many different countries.
As a phenomena that is fundamentally a mental act of information compression to describe reactions to Cultural Hegemony such as the predominance of Hollywood, to American values (different parts of the spectrum of values in the US are seen by varying groups as bad), to the progress of US policy in various parts of the world.
As a master narrative, an era defining global story, it takes on the character of universal truth across cultures. It defines an external other, a threat to all. In this sense the very idea of AA is actually a danger to America, especially if people are not afraid to be AA. However, the category implies racism on the part of the antiamerican, and so is likely to coerce people to react against it.
We will not take on the division of legitimate criticism of the US and illegitimate criticism. Such subjective categories cannot be universally identified. To take on such categories would be to interact in the debate on the US.
The take we have on Anti-Americanism is to look at the mechanisms and processes that underlie it. The use of a blanket term is useful only insofar as we look at the processes that it is caused by and causes. The subdivision of the term into the Anti-American left, AA Muslims, etc, is also useful because it is likely that these social groups will have an internal dynamic, though we must also look at the interaction between the groups. For example, demonstrations by the Stop the War Coalition involved British Muslim groups as well, an alliance of the left, peace activists and Islam in the UK.
Thus we look at all kinds of processes, attitudes, policies and ideologies as well as narratives and discourses that are against the interest or the being of the United States of America. We define this as AA.
The fundamental problem with this definition is that AA does not take into account the fact that a policy of the US is formulated in conjunction with other pressures including the opinion of others outside of the US. If a policy is bad for the world then the US may well consider the value of AA. Thus AA is not necessarily a bad thing, indeed as we mention in our theory of democracy, exchange of ideas from different viewpoints creates progress.
AA is not just a set of ideas, it is a kind of mindset that alters the perception of the viewer of international events to colour them in a different anti-american light. Conspiracy theories about the CIA being involved in operations without evidence are examples of the AA mindset. In this sense is best seen as an idea map whereby historical narratives with America as an idea and political entity being linked to promotion of immoral or illegal activity, such as war, assassination, coup d’etats, torture, discrimination and double standards, inaction in respect of genocide, promotion of instability in countries, trade sanctions and disputes, anti-environmental activity, lying and trickery. It is interesting to look at the similarity of Anti-Americanism as an idea map and the development of the Western idea map of Islam.
There is also the question of which America are we talking about. If we look at the split in recent elections in the US between Democrat and Republican lines, there is a liberal element and a reactionary conservative element. Some anti-Americans are not in opposition of the more liberal more dovish sentiments of the political establishment which begs the question whether anti-Americanism is really a reaction to the right by the left.
The problem is really that America does not take into account the political viewpoints of others outside of its system, which leads to problems. If the AA social groups are to become effective they must try to engage in dialogue with Americans to convince them of better ways of solving common problems rather than creating hatred of America. This is the deep rooted and myopic nature of AA. It is a social phenomena, an emergent effect of many different social groups and processes, that acts as a beast on its own rather than an amalgamation of many different conscious beings with free will and reason. Related to the emergent (unwilled and macrosystemic) nature of AA is the current Western idea of Islam as an evil to be confronted, tortured, converted and if that does not occur, destroyed. When one looks at ones enemy what one often sees is oneself. Later we will discuss the Western viewpoint of Islam as ‘Islamofascism’. What we argue there relates to the point that idea maps once set in history and consensually accepted can take on a dynamic of their own in informing and structuring relations later on, perhaps expressed in violence and religious/ethnic deportation.
The interesting development is the substitution of anti-Americanism in the world’s idea map with Islam as a problem, whether through so called terrorism or supposed oppressive practices by sovereign Islamic nation-states. Clearly Anti-Americanism, which came to a height in the late 20th Century brought a reaction from US policy elites to substitute the critical faculty of its society towards Muslims. Clearly this also has the effect of legitimising domination of one of the world’s richest supplies of oil while also providing an external threat to create a feeling of a united social group in the US and among its allies and thus reduce contestation. It has to be seen as a grand and powerful plan by US elites. The fact that Muslims have made a robust response to this plan shows the lack of forward thinking which is endemic in the US.The Left
We shall discuss the Left wing peace movement of the UK during the 21st Century in its contestation of the Official government narrative and policy. The official government narrative was that history begins on September 11th 2001 (often termed 9/11), when the world trade centre in America was destroyed by terrorists who were Muslims. To understand why the left contested the official story of the government we discuss several related ideas that were causing a shift in understanding of the world as it was then. The left was visible in peace demonstrations in London, with socialist worker party banners peppered through the march and members of the Labour party present, such as Tony Benn.
The Left’s social norms are generated by the historical development of this social group as well as the archetypes of what is seen as good for the ordinary working class person. This means that institutions like the trade unions, implements or strategies for obtaining good for the working class are a social norm, privileged even though many in the left have the common British dislike of power concentrated.
Vietnam was a period when the Left were against the conduct of American foreign policy. This created an archetype, that is a common thread in ideas and stories across time and space, that has come again in the interpretation of events after the 9/11 attacks. The impact of defeat in Vietnam on the cultural psyche of the West lead many to draw parallels between Vietnam and the invasions of Muslim countries that followed 9/11. Essential to this idea is that expectations of defeat of the US were high, but also the real cost of war was thoroughly and graphically understood by peace movement members. The tension between the Left and the US government’s foreign policy is found historically, since Lenin spoke of the US’s “Imperialist capitalist” policies. This too has formed an archetype that has come together with the Vietnam interpretation and created a strong backlash against the war by the Left. After the difficulties of the Iraq invasion there was a considerable diffusion of the Left’s arguments as theory became dreadful reality.
The left has had an old narrative that the source of progress by capitalism is violence and theft. This forms an archetypal idea that moves through the generations and finds its new version in the form of reducing America’s motivation for invasion of the Middle East to the desire for oil. Clearly if oil were the major objective then the administration wouldn’t have embarked on the invasions of Muslim countries since we have seen the oil price rise to very high levels in recent years. This assumes basic economic knowledge guiding the US government. There are plausibly several considerations for the true motivation of US foreign policy. Firstly there is the winds and currents of prevailing thought (such as neo-conservatism), the history of the US facing sustained criticism from all quarters whether from others or its own people lead to a reaction to ignore and deflect dissent and contestation, replacing this with a forceful, myopic drive for American interests, as seen by the US administration. The issue of an external threat giving rise to less contestation within the nation-state, through distraction along with reproduction and reinforcement of the institutions of the nation-state is clearly a good though complex explanation for US behaviour. The America of the late 20th century was a place where groups were engaged in challenging the idea of that age ‘Globalisation’. The collapse of the internet bubble that lead to a recession in the US came just before 9/11. These conditions explain some of the overbearing reaction of the US government to 9/11. However we must make clear that explanation and moral justification are two different subjects, social theory/historical analysis and moral philosophy.
The left has been pacified by the argument, from Hayek, that socialism is good but requires terrible violence to achieve itself, the example of Stalin being the key point. This narrative, which has shades of Christianity, is part of the process that leads many in the left to call for peace.
The left’s social norm of disarmament and lack of militarism in the UK labour party is possibly something that has been nurtured by the establishment to pacify it. This too has been a key source of the acceptance of the ‘peace’ message.
The effect of the 9/11 “Thou shalt not kill” message created by this event is to have generated a great deal of impetus for a peace movement. The left do not have a category of them and us, i.e. they see people from other countries as equals. This means that they strive to have rules that are universal, in the sense that they are founded on the Liberal equality archetype. They take it as self-evident that all are born equal. The left therefore has a key driver of anti-racism and promote the involvement and peaceful, respectful engagement with different ethnic groups.
Some of the rational criticism of US foreign policy in respect of Muslims is based around a model of terrorism, implicitly held by adherents to the Left’s peace movement. The rallying call of the Left Peace movement is that the US administration is the biggest recruiter of terrorists who attack the West. What the model is composed of is that the history of double standards in US foreign policy is directly linked to the motivation for Muslims to become terrorists. In this way it is implied that the US administrations of the late 20th and early 21st century are implicated in creating terrorism through providing provocation of Muslims. We will discuss Bin Laden’s input into the Islamic praxitioner jihad’s idea map later, where we will see that this model is founded on a thorough analysis of his argument for jihad. What is argued by the left is that there is a deviation of the goal of the West, as understood by the Left to be peaceful relations with Muslims, from policy, which in the early 21st Century involves heavy handed attacks and military invasion by American forces. The model that the left has of terrorism is that it is motivated by a desire to stop American attacks, occupation and murder of Muslims. Therefore the US policy of invasion to stop terror is thrown into a contradiction. If the cause of terror is the reaction to Muslims being killed and their lands being occupied then a policy of invasion of Muslim countries becomes self-defeating. Thus the left argues that there is a deviation of goals from policy.
Below is summarized the key points we have discussed above to produce what is an idea map for the left’s peace movement from the UK after 9/11/2001. This idea map must be seen in a relation of tension to the existing narrative of the US government as to the best response to the issue of a worldwide Islamic jihad being fought.Islam Much of the hatred of America by Muslims is likely to be a recent thing, for example Islam predates America so it is not possible for Islam to be inherently anti-American.
Islam has social norms or rules in respect of Jihad, which state that “Fight those who fight you”. They also have rules saying that if an enemy wants peace, you should also accept peace. The former rule generates an idea map which links American foreign policy with these rules of the Quran. The extent of the penetration of this idea map is hard to determine, it would change from day to day with events. But we can tell that much of Islamic anger is generated by this idea map and it is the source of Islamic AA. As we can see idea maps create effects in the minds of the holders of them, especially when one sees the idea map of US foreign policy history with intervention in Iraq and lack of any action on genocide in Bosnia. The reasoning basis is one of the US constitution that all people are born free and equal though this has its origins in reasoning from religious books where all people are the same before God.
The history of Islamic anti-Americanism is primarily, unlike early European AA, due to US foreign policy. Since the 1953 American sponsored coup in Iran that imposed the West leaning monarchy, there has been substantial dislike of America.
We hypothesise that it was a simple AA of objection to policy, which created potential energy in the Islamic social forces, and thus lead to the creation of hatred for America and the new realised energy of terrorism. Terrorism did not start with many of the US’s recent wars, but it was possibly motivated by US involvement in the Middle East region. The fact that the nascent Al Quaeda was prepared and even welcomed US help in overcoming the Russians in Afghanistan suggests that at this time anti-Americanism was not prevalent.
Islam does not value criticism as much as other groups particularly of scholars of Islam. Thus the part that ideas play in the Islamic social force are simply archetypes, ideas from earlier ideas, which is essentially the main reasoning process that occurs in Islamic jurisprudence as formalized by Shafi’i. Therefore ideas in Islam will tend not to evolve as much as ideas in other groups like the Left. On the other hand, there will be greater tendencies of consensus in this social force because there are fewer ideas accepted.
A current in thinking concerning the Jihad movement of the modern world is that the seed of it was spread from Sayyid Qutb’s argument of the process of Islam; politically and socially. It has sometimes been cited that Qutb formed the archetype that lead to Bin Laden. It is possible that the message of Qutb has propagated across the network of Muslims or it is possible that actions of America created the credibility of Qutb’s message. Racism is a possible reason for Qutb’s message propagating though it is possible that Qutb is not the main reason for AA racism propagating. Many people affected by US foreign policy may have the same thoughts concurrently without any propagation. These thoughts then give Qutb, Bin Laden and others messages more credibility.
We discuss the idea map of the modern Jihad movement from a textual analysis of Bin Laden’s messages. The western media typically reports excerpts from them, which is very telling, considering the fact that if one has nothing to hide then one listens to the opponents arguments and engages with them. The fact that the whole narrative of the war on terror and international Jihad has become a series of overlapping stories in the sense of being near impossible to complete discuss without being contradictory means that we must focus on core mechanisms that drive the whole system of relations between Muslims and the West. Above all we are interested in sociological explanation rather than moral questions of who is right or wrong. Taking this as an approach we hope to elucidate more of the picture rather than paint over reality with our prejudices.
Bin Laden has given many messages to the world. It is difficult to separate the political Bin Laden, that is the one who wishes to move people in certain directions, and the real one, that is the one who represents his personal feelings on matters. Clearly though his messages are above this dichotomy since they affect people as they are interpreted by them. They are fairly unambiguous messages so we do not have to consider the possible variation in interpretation. Unequivocally he calls for global jihad against what he sees as a Judeao-Crusader Alliance, which one assumes is America and Israel with possibly Britain involved too and this may refer to Europe as well. He sees it as a defensive jihad to deter the killing of Muslims, particularly civilians.
He creates a narrative that suggests that the modern history of the Muslim people is one of being a victim of aggression by non-Muslims. He singles out America for most of the blame. He connects this historical narrative to previous ones, suggesting that the fall of Andalucía (southern Spain which was controlled by the moors) could happen to Muslim lands particularly Saudia Arabia. His reservations and anger over US foreign policy, both its actions and inactions, are shared by a great many Muslims. This is a reaction to information from the media about Muslim deaths and torture which stimulates natural human reactions as part of group behaviour as well as reactions from rules given in the Quran regarding the viewing of all Muslims as one group and also viewing the justification of killing in response to killing as a valid course of action. What Bin Laden does though is to override rules that civilians are not allowed to be killed in battle. He also mirrors Bush’s initial reaction to 9/11 of ‘you’re either with us or against us’, with a declaration that any Muslim who helps America in its invasion is defined as a target of the Jihad movement and is considered an apostate.
Since Bin Laden was not carrying out terrorism since his early youth, it would seem plausible that the actions of the US came to bring about his ideas linking Islamic theology to military strategy under the motivation of historical relations. Curiously enough he does not go back to the British imperial mistakes with regard to the Muslim world perhaps due to the decline of the empire. Were Bin Laden to be concertedly against non-Muslims then he could certainly draw on the colonial legacy of Britain. But Britain no longer influences the world. Therefore his Jihad is limited to the material well being of Muslims rather than something that one can say is caused by a hatred of non-Muslims.
An interesting digression is the reaction of Bin Laden to the peace movement in the West. He describes peace activists as “polite and good people”. What becomes clear from this comment is that he does not intrinsically hate the West’s people. Discussion with many Muslims show a similar attitude. We see here a great concordance between the Left wing model of terrorism and Bin Laden’s idea map, that it is motivated on achieving peaceful relations between Muslims and the West, in other words terror is a strategic response to Western foreign policy that murders Muslims rather than an existential discordance. The response of the Left to 9/11, by creating a peace movement, leaves Muslims with a Foucaudian problem in determining the correct theological rule to follow in terms of the exercise of Jihad. This is stated as whether the agency in question is the state (which wants war) or the people (who want peace, as given by the existence of a peace movement).Islamo-fascism; an example of idea map analysis in the policy of justifying mass murder of Muslims
Another area of interest is the term “Islamofascism”. This is the linking of two ideas, Islam and fascism. Islam was created in the 7th century and was not linked to Fascism which was essentially created by Hitler in the 20th Century. Islam did not develop into Fascism. Hitler was not a Muslim. A key idea in Fascism is the asserted superiority of the Aryan race. Muslims are of all ethnic groups and there is no ordering according to ethnicity. The only similarity is that Muslims and Nazis are both people who America has been at war with. Muslims are fighting against the mass murder of their people by Americans, that is simply the text of their argument to encourage Muslims to fight America. Nazi’s wanted to colonise the colonisers of Europe. In no area of Bin Laden’s texts does he state that he wishes to overthrow the American government or establish the superiority of the Aryan ethnic group. The lack of reason in idea maps is perhaps no where more evident that here. The fact that ideas are linked together often in short phrases that have a resonance and popularity without rationale could begin our search to understand culture more and lead us to insight into this deeply symbiotic part of the human and society.
The popularity of the term Islamofascism and ascription on people as being Islamo-fascists is the most banal and obvious pomp to justify American mass murder of Muslims, whether past, present or future. It is interesting to note that such an idea can exist even though reason would suggest that it was incompatible with the historic meaning of the very terms it compresses together. Its potency is largely because it encapsulates a spirit of the age of the de facto racially segregated-fascist America. Its effect is to halt the democratic contestation process of US policy against Muslims, past and present. Its implication is that Fascist are evil, therefore they must die, Muslims are Fascists, therefore they must die. The idea map for Islamofascism must be seen as interlinked with this syllogism. What is interesting is determining which body created this term, since it colludes well with the assumptions and goals of 21st Century American foreign policy.
The result of linking Islam with Fascism without much in the way of reasoned argument allows an instant discrediting of Islam and impetus without justification for murder of Muslims. There is the paradox that hatred of Muslims caused by the terms ‘Islamofascism’ could follow a path along the same lines as the growth of AntiSemitism in early 20th Century Europe, which culminated in the mass murder of Jewish people.21. On Shafi’i- an early formaliser of Islamic theological methodology/Jurisprudence
While Islam is understood by its adherents to be a complete system, there is distinct difference among various thinkers in a number of aspects of its specific rules. For example Sayyid Qutb produces an Islamic argument for jihad as a process and strategy for the creation of a nation-state of Islam by connecting various verses in the Quran out of order. On the other hand we would privilege the rule deriving from the verses “if you kill someone then it is as if you have killed all of humanity”. As you can see very different actions can be suggested to be good depending on where we start in our premises, even if we are in a debate where all parties accept the same central texts for derivation of rules. This argument ties in with a core theme of this book which is that debate will lead along many different avenues and with different results even when a common rational process is used for production of argument. This digression tells us the limitation of belief that ones rational arguments can be held without criticism, whether in economics or Islamic theology.
At the core of Shariah is the determination of the objective of it, in other words a metanarrative on the meaning of life and existence in the next one. Shafi’I, we argue makes Shariah a tool for reproduction of the Islamic Ummah (social group). He is weaker on the alternative objectives for Shariah, one of which is to maximise the number of people who go to heaven. The second point we make is that while there are a vast swathe of rules emanating from the religious texts, there is less developed argument and justification as to the methodology of the interpretation and application of the rules from religious texts. Shafi’I was a noted scholar in Islamic theology who brought together the main currents in thinking up to that time and developed a systematic method for the production of rules from the Quran and Sunnah. We seek to see if his method stands up to enquiry. It would be of great consequence to Muslims if there were more to be said as to how one makes a rule and who makes the rules. At the heart of our argument is the intention to maximise the amount of goodness in the world and we see that an important channel for this to occur is through the coherence of Islamic rules and goodness. We follow Shafi’I in producing our argument in concordance with Islam by isolating the key, perhaps overlooked issue in understanding what it means to be good.
Shafi’i restricts the production of rules of Islam to a small elite of Arabic speaking scholars. He rails against juristic preference (istihsan) through providing a systematic methodology for production of rules (direct rules and qiyas generated rules). This can be seen as a interesting sociological device for maintaining the consistency and integrity of the Ummah. Alternatively one can see that Shafi’I is responding to the Quran and Sunnah, or at least parts of them, to create these rules, notably when he says in the Risala that Muslims must not divide into sects.
It is possible that the reason that Shafi’I chose to restrict and systematise the production of religious rules is to reduce cultural drift (i.e. small changes in different geographical areas) leading to splits in Islam. At the end of the day, Shariah has one obvious objective, to maximise the number of people who go to heaven. A judgement of Shafi’I rests on assessment of whether his influential organisation of Islamic religious authority, which has an impact on political and social institutions, actually can be argued to lead to the most people going to heaven. Since mankind is imperfect and scholars are a subset of mankind then they may make mistakes, especially when their rules are followed under different conditions and periods of history. It is too great a burden to place on scholars to find perfect timeless rules from Islamic texts, given that different situations, different times in history, call for different assessment of the good, thus a scholar would need to be all knowing in order to produce a perfect interpretation. In addition everyone is responsible for their own actions, thus one cannot call to a scholar to intercede for us and save us from Hell should we find ourselves to be judged as engaging in wrong doing by following an erroneous rule written by a scholar.
We also could contest whether the most acceptable goal of Shariah is the maximisation of people going to heaven. In the Salat (prayer) of Islam, at the end a Muslim recites “Our Lord! Give us the Good in this world and the Good in the next one.” Thus one could reasonably argue that a Muslim should be considerate of obtaining good in the material world (being moderate), whilst also trying to obtain good in terms of getting into heaven (in other words being an extremist or fundamentalist). Thus we argue that Muslims should be neither extremists nor moderates but rather moderate-extremists.
The weakness in Shafi’I’s argument is that the implied premise on which his restriction of juristic preference and ijhtihad is based upon is that there are no good deeds possible that are not specified in the Quran and Sunnah as understood directly or by analogy. Otherwise he would have promoted other means to finding out ideas that are doing good in addition to qiyas and direct interpretation of the source texts.
We can give an example of how there are other ideas that are good which are not specified in the Quran and Sunnah. For example, it is good to be kind to one’s parents. But whether this involves buying flowers for them or buying a watch for them depends on the character and needs of one’s parents. It is clear that one needs a synthetic moral argument, that of bringing together principals and values to knowledge of the circumstance. The question we pose is how far can one apply this to a general case of judging morally good action?
In summary Shafi’I is strong on producing a technique for managing the development of Muslims as a unified force yet is weaker on the actual meaning of good action, thought and being. We suggest an alternative metanarrative, which is that goodness is striving for a balance between the effects of action on this world and the effects on the next (heaven or hell).22. Causes of poverty, a short literature review Abstract
We summarise the main developments in the approach to understand and tackle poverty. We expose the main weakness in this literature which is the absence of a macro model of income and assets. We outline the idea of a macro framework based on concepts from the dynamic systems literature. We discuss other failings in the research as well as the solution to poverty through trade.Poverty causes in the literature
Mainstream economists see the problem of poverty as one of asset endowment and stochastic shocks (ill health, famine) as well as conditions in economies (local, national and international) (Baulch and Hoddinott, 2000).
Political economy sees the external environment as often shaped by systematic factors, particularly unequal power relations. (Wood and Salway, 2000).
Sociologists and anthropologists look at household structures and relations (Francis, 2000). In addition, people’s ability to gain access to assets, and their ability to translate them into income, are shaped by the workings of labour and product markets, by their access to skills, information and social networks, by norms governing resource use within and beyond the household and by gendered power relations, again within and beyond households.
Livelihood approaches broadened the object of enquiry from income and assets to capabilities, assets and activities required for living. Prospective livelihood approaches, typically adopted by development practitioners, attempt to identify potential means for improving livelihoods through interventions and better coordination of sectorally-based agencies.
Francis (2006) argues that in Madigobo, a large South African village, has many people who are on the edge of poverty principally because they do not have regular incomes and they actively migrate looking for increasingly casualised work. Seeking security of income is the tendency of their behaviour. Clearly regular incomes need to be created to fit in with the desires of the poor.
Left wing institutional analysis suggests that poverty is systemic, in other words there are sinks in the economic system which draw money towards them from the poor, for example the landlord in rural India that uses political, economic, social and legal power to maintain their superiority over the poor farmer tenants of their land. Using this as an archetype we can see that even in developed countries with welfare states there is the presence of a systemic poverty with paths leading towards crime, drugs, alcohol dependency and exclusion from society. Conversation tree analysis in poor areas and classes can be a potential area of cultural analysis whereby one can see from experience that there is a tendency to lower expectations of what one is capable of doing and thus social mobility is blunted, whilst social problems are enhanced. Just as the change in language against sexist comments, jokes, in other words changing the idea maps related to gender, helped to reduce the alienation of women in contemporary Western society, so too an understanding of what generates the self-identity idea map of people who are poor generation after generation, alongside the institutional and social systemic context, may all together lead to new solutions to poverty in rich countries and drastic reductions in crime.
Sinks in a dynamic system of income The flow of money is seen to be the main focus of enquiry. This can be seen at a national level as a dynamic system that has sinks or attractors. These centres of gravity attract money into them, though they often recycle this money outward. An example of an attractor is the state. Many people give tax revenue to the state. Politically powerful individuals and organisations receive money from the state particularly in a clientist state. Chain stores are other examples of sinks which receive money from large numbers of consumers and then send it on to banks. The banking sector is a crucial sink since it recycles the cash held by it in the form of often productive loans for investment, boosting asset prices and also productivity. The problem in many developing countries that leads to poverty is that there are sinks which draw money away from the poor and do not recycle this. So traders will take money from the poor in exchange for goods but not invest this money in new jobs. Fundamentally there is the problem of the amount of value in the economy. This is the amount of income generated by organisations and individuals which is constrained by the finite demand for goods and is also a result of the bargaining process and capabilities of these people as well as the initial endowment of assets. Low levels of investment have classically been seen as the source of the low income of LDCs. This would be the capabilities limitation. But the absence of a high value bargaining process, as for example the relationship of marketing in developed countries, means that markets are underdeveloped. Many things that could potentially be produced are not in developing countries because of the low incomes of individuals and therefore the small market size that is present there.The problem with the existing analysis of poverty in the literature
The point that is missed by all poverty literature is that money is limited in developing countries. The initial endowment is low, the amount of value able to be produced by the capabilities of the country is low and the amount of value that can be generated by selling goods within the economy, that is the level of demand, is low. There is a frugal approach to poverty in order to privilege the most desperate of cases of poverty, thus missing the fact that the country needs to become rich to solve these problems.
Gore (2003) suggests that trade is the source of the elimination of poverty. But there is an absence of the nexus of organisations and capacity building as well as the development of the value increasing process for products produced in the LDC.
A left wing criticism of the trade solution to poverty is that it focuses on the development of high value adding business which creates a middle class and excludes the poor. While there may be some social mobility, there are always a limited number of high value adding jobs. Globalisation that focuses primarily on developing small numbers of elite jobs thus chips away at poverty, since more income is being generated in the economy, but does not tackle the big question of how to raise the incomes and wealth of the poor majority.Bibliography Baulch, B. and J. Hoddinott (2000) ‘Economic Mobility and Poverty Dynamics in Developing Countries’, Introduction to a Special Issue of the Journal of Development Studies, 36(6): 1-24. Francis, E. (2000) Making a Living: Changing Livelihoods in Rural Africa, London: Routledge. Francis, E (2006) Poverty: Causes, Responses and Consequences in Rural South Africa , CPRC working paper, http://www.chronicpoverty.org/resources/working_papers.html Gore, C. (2003). Globalization, the International Poverty Trap and Chronic Poverty in the Least Developed Countries. Working Paper 30. Manchester: IDPM/Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC). Wood, G. and S. Salway (2000) ‘Introduction: Securing Livelihoods in Dhaka Slums’, Journal of International Development 12(5): 669-688.
23. The nature of terrorism Terrorism carried out by Muslims in the modern world does not have a clear organised structure. It is very far from a bureaucracy in form yet it is in a sense a rule based organisation, it is a rule based social force. There is no commander in chief, yet there are prominent members such as Osama Bin Laden, whose statements trigger action. Whether Osama Bin Laden is a product of the social force of Islam or the instigator is a difficult philosophical question that depends on one’s view of agency in social structure.
The Muslim terrorist possibly takes much of his motivation from interpretations of the Quran and Sunnah, through the words of Scholars or directly from their own reading. Muslims are rule based individuals. Clearly this is not a satisfactory explanation since the arguments of jihadists often take verses of the Quran out of context or without the balancing injunctions in other parts of the Quran. As the mufti of Saudia Arabia has said Sheikh Abdul Aziz, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were an act of oppression which is forbidden in Islam. So there is debate within the Muslim social force, with Osama Bin Laden talking of “fighting those who fight you” while others perhaps accept this but choose different peaceful tactics, the jihad of the heart (opposing the oppression of Muslims in one’s mind). Who will win this debate? And what factors determine which way the debate goes?
But we digress, the motivations of the human mind to action can be modelled as a neural network in AI. This suggests that a multitude of factors will add up and push a decision to act once the total value is over a tipping point, an activation function is pushed into firing a signal to other neurons. Clearly the level of the activation function and the connections between different neurons (factors) varies with each individuals experiences. This analysis suggests that we should be looking for many variables which motivate terrorism.
We can augment the rule based model of Muslims to include a variety of interpretations of Islam that depend on events and messages that they see and receive respectively. The interpretations are caused by events and messages. This would account possible for the hardening in stance of Bin Laden as seen by his messages both before and after the Afghan invasion by the US and also for his interesting reaction to seeing a peace movement develop in places like the UK, an event / message that made him partition the West into “good, honest people” and others.
The structure of terrorist groups in the Muslim world is sometimes confused with Al-Quaeda, the Mujahadeen from the Afghan war with the Soviets. While current terrorists are likely to be influenced by Al-Quaeda it is likely given the global scale of terrorism and the lack of ability of leaders such as Osama Bin Laden to communicate because of the risk of being captured, that they only share an ideology, a set of ideas that determine their actions and goals. There is also the dynamic recruitment process, whereby actions that lead to the death and suffering of Muslims serve to create more recruits for terrorists. The climate of fear among Muslims leads to some to find a stable world that protects them by their subjective transactions with God, protection from harm in exchange for adherence to rules they believe were laid down by God. Thus these two factors both created by counter terrorism policy are problematic features of the current strategy to defeat terrorism. Since there is no strict command structure for all of the Muslim terrorist organisations and since they are very geographically dispersed this is unlikely to develop, the nature of terrorism is thus a social force. Similar to the nature of the free market economy, which is a cultural meme that spreads throughout the world, where some become entrepreneurs and others employees. They function on rules that determine their behaviour, in this case the profit making motive, through means within the law that supply the wants of people who are willing to pay for those wants. When blocked by regulation, say when there were usury laws, the social force finds a way through. The idea and motive is so strong that blocking its vital interests is sometimes difficult if not impossible. The powerful and widely dispersed nature of this phenomena means that society can outwit the social structure. Thus the free market economy wins over the state. The Islamic social force is possibly similar. The intensity of belief among Muslims is strongly developed and reproduced through institutions such as prayer, fasting and repetition of belief. The rules of Islam encourage Muslims to find pious people to be friends with. This leads to pockets of the faithful, possibly the fundamentalist, growing ever larger. The danger of a virulent and deadly meme legitimising murder to achieve the end of martyrdom, note not the solution to Muslims problems, is evident. Note that fear and repression as part of a counter terrorism policy are difficult to work advantageously since the outcome of the terrorists strategy is either fight and be martyred or fight and win.
24. The philosophical problem at the heart of dynamics of society
For example, the Islamic revival, alternatively specified as the rise of Islamic fundamentalism or the development of Islamic praxis can be seen as a series of books and ideas produced by thinkers. However this does not explain why ideas are spread and accepted by many people. They may for example have an interest in seeing ideas spread because the idea gives something of value to them. This is the Gramscian approach. Alternatively one can see the development of Islamic praxis as the search for coherency with Islamic values that is generated from the first Kalimah, there is no God but the One God and Muhammad is his messenger. This is taken from Velleman’s insight that the mind seeks to create coherency to avoid, perhaps one could speculate in response to, an identity crisis. As a digression one wonders if the stimulation of Islamic praxis (the revival of Islam in the world) has been triggered or at least enhanced by Liberal postcolonial ideology of equality of all humans alongside oppressive double standards by America against Muslims. What we suggest is that the identity crisis for Muslims came when they saw themselves as equals yet were not treated as such and thus began to be receptive to ideas that compensated for this contradiction, which involved the coherence of their being, family, community, state and laws with Islamic teachings. Therefore rise of Islamic praxis (fundamentalism).How do we determine which of the above 3 approaches is having the most effect on the outcome? Can we a priori determine this or is a historical inductive approach possible?
A historical approach would suggest that the search for consistency between Islamic life and Islamic teachings has resurfaced many times in Muslim history. Shafi’i’s risala is an early 2nd century AH example of the limitation of Islamic teachings to a small elite who followed a consistent methodology in bringing together Islam with society in terms of law. Later movements like the followers of Ibn Taymiyaah which became the Wahabi ideology reproduced this approach with the emphasis on ‘purifying Islam’ from ideas that did not come from messengers of God. In the 20th Century Maudoudi built on the Marxist criticism of capitalism, Marx was his archetype. He influenced Qutb whose archetypal descendants include the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt and AlQuaeda.
What this shows is that there are certainly some individuals more involved in creating ideas. But where do these ideas come from? Why is the overall thrust the same across many different cultures and times in history? One argument that would explain this is that the issue is psycho-social, that is the social process involved of establishing consistency between ideas and institutions originates from Velleman’s search for consistency as a psychological process in the brain. The alternative hypothesis is the memetic model of information transmission across different social groups. The problem with this approach is that it does not shed any light on why ideas are consistently connected in their creation and acceptance. One could argue that this is simply a result of memetic transmission of ideas with signal degradation across nodes leading to similar ideas. However liberalism is another idea that has had strong dispersion but has not taken root with quite the same fervour as Islamic praxis. Indeed interaction with Islamic praxitioners leads one to believe that praxis leads to a sense of well-being for them. This is consistent with the Vellemanian consistency search.
Clearly there could be other processes, whether psycho-social or not, involved in the revival of Islam. However what we have is a simple model of the Ummah (the entire body of Muslims in the world) which gives an analytical insight into the direction of their evolution. It also explains why the current policy of combating so called extremism has been in all lights a failure.
25. Non-reductionist Memetic Theory in relation to Habermas and Dawkins Dawkins’s theory of ideas as an analogy with genes which he calls ‘memes’ are the building block of our analysis. He develops deductions of the characteristics of the most successful memes (ideas) in a similar way as biology predicts the characteristics of the most successful genes. The lack of empirical comparison and errorcorrection as well as the extreme reductionist flavour of Dawkin’s memetic theory are his main flaws. Science that allows its analytical tools to engulf the clear, reasoned observation of the actual system in question, leads to errors as the process of change of the analytical tools deviates from the reality.
Our correction to Dawkin’s memetic theory is to observe the system closer, that is the fact that while characteristics of ideas (memes) are important, the relations or links that these memes travel along are also vital to any successful model. These can be drawn out as a network composed of nodes, which broadly speaking link people to each other where they transfer ideas by way of conversation trees. Conversation trees are a compression of the sum total of heterogeneous debates that occur in society that either reinforce, establish newly or change peoples minds on a certain subject or belief, thereby leading to idea transference across the network. We suggest that conversations can reasonably be summarised into various categories, with key power words/arguments, drawing legitimacy from consensus idea maps present in society, used to produce consistent outcomes in debates. Just as many different employees can be categorised as the working class for analysis, we believe that the common threads and interactions involved in many debates can be summarised in each different area of thought and ideas. The reason why is because we assume that there is a finite set of rational ideas and of these a much smaller set of persuasive ideas.
Dawkins pursues the traditional scientific positivist goal of obtaining laws or generalities from axioms and principles through deduction. Memes that are shortest and easiest to understand by the largest section of the population will be the most likely to survive and also dominate. Our discussion is that the result is very sensitive to network configuration. For example the largest section of the population may be poorly linked together. Whereas certain richer sections of the population may be linked to the entire network via the media or interest groups. Also a smaller group may be more densely linked (analogous and indeed a major causal point in the Olsonian big/small argument). Another point is that people may summarise ideas leading to information compression in order to facilitate their wider and faster flow through the network. This leads to signal degradation or information loss that means that the best ideas must be those that can easily be summarised even if they are long to begin with. This underlies our belief that the predictions of memetics can never be very clear since evaluating how and how well a person will summarise an idea is impossible to analyse since people are of different intellectual ability and indeed may find it easy to summarise one idea but not another.
Another pertinent difficulty with Dawkin’s thesis is that the flow of ideas extends not just across agents but along generations, thus the concept of tradition is built.
Habermas’ theory of lifeworlds, formed from the traditional culture, network and process of socialisation, as apart from system (state and capital) is distinguished from our theory by the focus we have on ideas moving around networks of people and institutions. Habermas did not consider communicative action to be something individuals created but rather something they received from their lifeworld. Our model suggests that people may hold many ideas essentially have many life-worlds but whether they choose one or another depends on their interests and also the state of the system, i.e. if there is a consensus then they will hold that idea.
That said there is some validity to the approach to synthesise our ideas with Habermas since they deal with a similar subject matter. Specifically his ideas of credibility of a speech act, in our model ‘a message’, as being governed by 1) how near a message is to the state of affairs in the world 2) how near it follows a set of norms 3) how credible is the speaker, would tell us a little about evaluating the progress of ideas through a network, for example ideas which are any or all of these 3 factors will tend to progress further and with more strength than ideas that did not have these features.
The lifeworld can be seen as a way of talking about individuals having multiple overlapping identities which can be seen each in a different social and thus institutional context. A farmer may have a family lifeworld, where he is powerful through patriarchy, yet be under a landlord in another lifeworld, the economy. A worker may be a Christian, and thus be influenced by a priest, yet he is also a money lender and therefore forms an economic institution, and also is part of a union of workers at his company.
Integrating the lifeworld idea into memetic analysis as developed into the identification of different overlapping networks of people leads us to the methodology of observing reality and drawing diagrams similar to idea maps. Where each person can, through having multiple lifeworlds, many occurrences in different networks of idea movement. Clearly this is a potential source of new research.
Understanding change in society requires the integration of the above lifeworld-memetic-network complex with conversation trees, that is recurrent debates which sustain a belief or change people’s minds put into the rubric of extensive form game theory.Social Forces
From Marx we can simplify or compress the information of society into the idea of social forces which are made up of nodes, their belief system and the linkages between them, as well as numerous associated idea maps. Social forces are invisible yet powerful like water. The wave is not a characteristic of an individual H2O molecule just as a social force is not a characteristic of a node.
Social forces affect society in many ways and often have a hydra like quality, that is where they are blocked they will push harder elsewhere.
They suggest activity which is not necessarily coordinated but acts in the general interest of the social force. There may be influential members of the force, both historical and present day, but the essence of this is that it is not like an organisation with a command structure nor does it follow rules given from its leadership but rather evolves behaviour based on the rules that make up the members and the dynamics of the groups that it is composed of.
The process of idea transference from one node to another is not necessarily a voluntary experience. A person may not like an idea but may still be persuaded by it. Whether this sort of experience leads to greater dissemination of an idea is in doubt.
We can look at idea transference analogously to the synaptic model of the brain. Each node is subject to an activation function such that high input from a single node (a very interesting and credible idea) or multiple small inputs from several nodes (the pressures of conformity) each have the same effect of sending a message from the target node to others in the network.
Nodes can be of various types, centre nodes that are connected to most other nodes, like the media, the World Bank, government. There are slave nodes, which only receive input from a master node but do not send messages to others and there are also multiples, which have many different connections into themselves from various sources. Under certain conditions particularly where there are mutually exclusive (see below) messages being sent to a multiple node, there is the possibility of confusion in the node.
As ideas are transmitted across the network they are compressed, especially successful ones. This information compression leads to signal degradation which causes ideas to change as they pass through the network. Information compression leads to a culture of experts developing who can fully understand the compressed signals. Information compression also leads to distorted communication. However, consensus is only possible with information compression so we counter Habermas.Idea evolution
In science, ideas evolve as Popper has said, via a process of criticism that leads to better ideas superseding old ideas. The rules of a set of nodes that generate, criticise and synthesise ideas create an evolution of ideas. These rules are both written and unwritten, coming from tradition as well as created by actions of nodes while creating ideas. We can predict the trajectory of idea evolution from these rules.
Filters Filters to ideas exist across the system and also within nodes themselves. These stop certain kinds of ideas from propagating or lead to ideas that have a lot of memetic potential but do not fit the filter criteria being adapted to fit the filter.Effect of ideas on nodes
Ideas move around and activate nodes due to the apparent coherence of the idea with the interests of the node or node complex. Different often mutually exclusive ideas often try to hold to the same interests so there is need for research in which ideas are taken up, propagated and held to.Memesis
When ideas reach a certain saturation point in the node network they start to generate a consensus. This means that nodes that previously did not believe start to believe. This results in truths being formed which are held for long lasting periods of time and can be a barrier to further change and progress in society.The effect of democracy and freedom norms on progress
Free speech, free values (that is the ability of nodes to overturn old traditions in favour of new ones), free universities and also a free press leads to a greater amount of creation, adaptation and synthesis of ideas. They also lead to greater amounts of dissemination of ideas thus raising the prospect of people with the ability of creating, synthesising and adapting ideas being able to hear about new ideas and cross-fertilizing their efforts. Democracy, by which we mean free and open debate, allows criticism thus leading to participants improving the quality of ideas. Old traditions and world views which hold back progress in ideas due to the existence of a paradigm of knowledge can be overcome with a rebellious instinct among the people who create, disseminate, adapt and synthesise ideas. Essentially more ideas are created by a true democracy and thus the solution to a problem is more likely to be found under those circumstances. Essentially the mechanism is one of distributed problem solving arising from the innate limitation of the human mind to deal with large and complex problems. By many people attacking a problem and its parts then solutions can be found that would not occur under a situation of just a few people dealing with problems.
Democracy as it has evolved in many countries has adopted a problematic strategy. Promises are made which raise the amount of nodes that align themselves with a particular social force which causes a bubble in the centre of gravity. This bubble bursts in parts of the system leading to disenchantment with democracy. The challenge for future leaders is to develop new ideas that will lead to a resolution of the desires of nodes.Idea maps
Ideas are linked to one another forming structures called idea maps. Anthropology is linked to Sociology, though ideas in the former, like heterogeneity differ from the homogeneity of the latter. Thus tensions exist within idea maps, which can be understood and even exploited. The fact that idea maps can be so big means that though they travel in packets across nodes and are reassembled by nodes there is often the chance that these tensions will not be spotted until the idea map has become internalised (that is accepted) by many nodes. This process of sending packets of ideas which are later linked together, similar to the internet, leads to idea evolution (creation, adaptation and synthesis).
Social forces form and influence idea maps, creating new linkages between ideas over time. Objectives of clever people often lead to idea maps being strategically used.
From Baudrillard we see that ideas and relationships from ideas can be the product of the interaction of more than one person. Thus the therapist takes their legitimacy from the patient as Baudrillard puts it. The state shores up its legitimacy from the people. Opinion polls pose the question of policy to the voter but notably no new idea is created, only an existing framework. The idea of the simulacrum is interpreted by us as the existence of ideas that are not linked to the real. These ideas are short circuits of the real, that is where feedback occurs to create the idea. These ideas come from simulation. This is taken to be the production of ideas that has no link to anything real. Of course our definition of the real departs from Baudrillard who sees the whole of America to be a dream. Our real is that which can be observed, the rest is hypothesis, to see the eclipsed sun one must posit from the arc that it is roughly circular. Is a hypothesis real. If it is true it is. The problem with Baudrillard’s analysis is simply that he does not define his real but gives a political gasp of the left. Ideas do lose their basis in the real since we see that they undergo dynamics given by the sociology of knowledge. An unwritten art nevertheless. Can a production of ideas ever be brought back to the real? Without the consensus creating experiments of science there is difficulty in doing this in culture and democracy. The process of rationality in culture and democracy is an object of inquiry for this. We have specified a system of society but we have not said much about the process of rationality. Even forgiving the political language games in culture and democracy, what hope is there for finding the truth. The problem is fundamentally that of the subjectivity of the agent. The truth is hidden so it is not possible to construct a proof of what would create the truth. Our ideas on democracy create more ideas but how do you determine which idea to follow. This depends on the many visions and outcomes of different policies. The construction of the outcomes of policy is to be determined in debate and with recourse to methodology, information and model building. This has the prospect of building an intellectual class who determine the outcome of policy and therefore determine the choice of policy. This would be undemocratic. However, if it is possible, one could alleviate this by information compression and clarification of policy analysis so that these could be widely disseminated and thus discussed by an increasingly educated society. Thus education is the key to democracy.
Baudrillard’s simulation and simulacra states the hypothesis that reality has become superseded by a hypereality. A simulation. Reality is corroding through disuse. He states that culture and the media have in essence created an incredibly detailed empire we live in which is not real. Does reality ever get to the truth though? And how is it that this hypereality has been formed? Has reality ever been real? This solipsist world view is interesting but difficult to integrate in our thought.
The production of ideas will be influenced by interests and social forces, thus leading one away from truth, possibly. This could be the mechanism that creates the hypereal. The evolution of ideas, the fact that ideas are mimetically transmitted from one person to the next and undergo changes or mutations over time is quite in line with our thinking and is a point Baudrillard makes. He suggests that this gives us the idea without the model due to excessive copying, but this is a result of the increasing movement of ideas in post-modern societies. The fact that ideas change in transmission due to higher levels of education in society is not something to be worried about. It is the source of social change. The fact that it happens quickly without much thought is problematic. This is simply part of society. The feeling Baudrillard has is one of horror at the lack of any systematic basis for ideas. This comes back to our question of the difficulty of judging between ideas to get the best idea.
Idea maps have plausible courses of evolution. The tensions in a subject may be resolved, by discrediting of ideas in the map or by resolution through changes of definition and category. From Popper or Hegel, we can say that ideas may be criticised and become better or discarded for new ideas. It is a question as to whether you can really prove that this will lead to the real, the truth.
Ideas may also become the focus of political language games. They typically involve the expression of an interest of the participants or of the expected audience of the idea as given by the writer of it. This does not necessarily lead to false ideas, since the interest and the correspondence to the real model of the world are not mutually exclusive ends. Ideas that represent an interest or use a tradition seen as antagonistic to a group may be rejected irrationally by that group.
The work of Kuhn tells us that ideas evolve through paradigm shifts though Schumpeter is an earlier proponent. Idea evolution becomes clogged in existing traditions and viewpoints that need great works to be overcome and lead to new ideas.
Ideas form archetypes over time, with ideas being changed incrementally from earlier ideas. This is easier to do and also gives credit to a pre-existing set of classic works in a subject. They give people a sense of history and also define an identity.
We need a way of looking at ideas that is going to tell us how they are likely to evolve. How do you start this? How do you understand creativity? Clearly the idea comes from the object of enquiry, the themes of the subject. Just as Wittgenstein broke down philosophical enquiry with his proof that all of it was simply language games which were nonsense, so the object of enquiry changes with ideas. This kind of idea, an idea that drives the direction of the subject, typically made by the great and respected scholars, is a meta-idea. You have to generate a model of meta-ideas to determine the evolution of ideas. There is a sort of patron-client relationship between meta-ideas and ideas.
Conversation trees It is hypothesised that we can compress the information of typical conversations relating to objects of enquiry into conversation trees, that is the main paths that the conversations can go. The effect on node belief and propagation as well as the likelihood of idea evolution can be understood with this kind of analysis.
Engaging in writing out conversation trees we can apply the framework of extensive form game theory. A debate may go ahead in society where person A makes a racist comment and person B blocks further comments by apply a rebuke of “that’s wrong. That’s racist”. Similar simple trees have been exploited by many elites and political groups as well as nation-states to deflect criticism of their activity. For example, conversation trees can be influenced by law. It is against the law to justify terrorism in the UK. This was possibly enacted because a key argument of the anti-War Left was to say that Western foreign policy was creating terrorism, which can loosely be felt to be a justification of terror, even though it is certainly not intended to be. Thus a sleight of hand allows the government to continue to pursue its policy with conversations in Britain being restricted by law from arguing compellingly for peace, paradoxically through a law that is meant to stop the justification of violent acts.Archetypes
We suggest a hypothesis whereby ideas spread through a society through a succession of archetypes, that is frameworks for ideas that give rise to ideas that are similar. This is due to the fact that the mind creates ideas from a base of another idea. Thus ideas evolve in small steps, but there can be discontinuous jumps. An example is the ‘good’ archetype which gives rise to the moral high ground. From Jesus’ Christianity springs Marxism by way of Liberalism. Different people have different conceptions of good, so a Muslim’s good springs from adherence of an idea to Islamic teachings whereas a Liberal’s good comes from adherence to commonly held conceptions in Liberal societies and writings by liberal philosophers.
Archetypes are important idealisations of ideas, in the sense that we are taking the idea map concept through time, looking for links between ideas along the axis of time. We hope that research into this area will lead to identification of possible drivers, processes and mechanisms involved in the change of ideas in history.Adorno
Adorno argued that cultural production is the product of capitalism. We would come to argue that culture is determined by the interaction of many agents in a system where messages are sent to one another. The fact that a consensus occurs that is in line with the interests of capitalists is not necessarily the product of bourgeois interaction in the system but rather a stable state that occurs. It is not to say natural, just a recurrent feature of societies, that consensus occurs and intersubjective domains become truths. Adorno also argues that culture becomes more exchange value than use value, i.e. the value of the idea in terms of what someone else will pay for it is greater than the intrinsic value of an idea, thus ideas have a tendency to become fruitless and meaningless hype. The hypereality of Baudrillard is an example, as is much advertising. However the reaction from society to advertising and hype especially from an ever more sophisticated youth has lead the corporate world down perhaps a slightly different path. Here we see that the desire for corporations to legitimise themselves as well as their products has lead to an emphasis on corporate social responsibility, though whether this is entirely effective or any more than pleasant gestures is another question. In the corporate world and anticapitalist social movements of the late 20th Century we see a strategic interaction and alteration of strategy in response to that.
This leads us to the question of how does value of a message affect the distribution of the messages in the system. Messages which are valuable to people will tend to be propagated by them. An example is the marketing messages of a business. These messages are valuable to the business since they raise sales, so they are propagated by them. Social movements develop due to the fact that the messages that make people want to join a social movement are valuable to the supporters of this. They may be valuable for religious or ethical reasons, or perhaps due to identity. They may be about a belief in a different vision for the world. They may place one in a different relationship with things. This expands on the idea that interests determine messages and their acceptance. If an idea is universally valuable then it is highly likely that it will spread across the entire system. However, ideas have associations with other ideas so it is inevitable that many universal ideas will be associated with a discrediting idea that limits acceptance by some members of the population.
It should be noted that the existence of social movements where ideas are spread for free and with little of no exchange value, contradicts the theory Adorno put forward about exchange value superseding use value in culture.
Our idea of archetypes should be seen as similar to the criticism Adorno made about mass culture, in that it is standardised with small changes. A person who reads a book will not buy a second copy of it but may buy another one of the same genre. This is an interesting process. A person who hears the message of a social movement may come to join other social movements of the same genre over time as they age, perhaps dropping involvement in earlier movements. The general principal is that the desires of a person are defined by their positive experiences. A positive experience with a book compels one to find another positive experience. A person who goes on a protest and finds something positive about knowing that they have an identity or perhaps feels like they are conforming to ethical rules of theirs will be more inclined to activity of the same sort. The mind seeks to reproduce positive experiences and forms habits from this. This is part of the process of identity formation. Identity is however something that is ascribed socially so this process is both from around oneself and from within in interaction with the environment.Saussure
The sign is the linguistic unit which is composed of the signifier (the word) and the signified (the object the word refers to). The signs however do not adequately focus us on the object in question, the understanding of culture. Therefore the use of the sign as an analytical unit is obfuscating, rather like cutting an engine into small equal sized cubes rather than its component parts (the valves, the carburettor, battery, etc). We suggest idea maps and ideas themselves as alternative analytical units. Ideas are composed of signs but they are units that actually occur in society. Ideas vary between people, even the same idea will have a different conception in different minds. We suggest a hypothesis that ideas among a group of people come to be homogenised by interaction between those people. Human beings have the desire to herd. However, humans have an appreciation of newness. Thus new ideas, even if only slightly different, will spread quickly. Thus there is a dynamic between ideas coming together, synthesising, and then finding themselves dropped for new ones. The society breathes ideas.26. The early 21st Century global circuits of trade and capital
Is the long term growth of China and the US a zero sum game? Do countries always gain from trade? A key characteristic of China-US circuits of capital is that China sells goods to the US and receives flows of foreign exchange which may then be recycled into the US through capital investment. Is this process sustainable and can an economy overtake the leader?
China’s growth since the economic reforms of the 1980s has involved money creation through supporting the employment of people in State owned enterprises (SOE). The loans given to SOE are seen as non-performing, though one must ask whether this is due to over borrowing and interest compounding or because there is a fundamental problem of value generation within these institutions. China is in a bind as if it should withdraw funding support from SOEs then there will be large amounts of unemployment and knock on effects throughout the economy. Clearly as an aside the nature of ownership of a firm does not affect necessarily the value generation it is able to produce. Modern corporate capitalism involves often many short term investors in shares of companies with day to day management by a class of executives who have been selected on merit and ability by a fairly objective and rational process of interviews. Since corporate capitalism is often very good at generating value, there seems to be no issue of whether state owned enterprises in China cannot become better value generators.
A spreadsheet analysis of a process of two trading economies with asymmetric levels of trade running in opposite to the imbalance in GDP (America has $13 trillion GDP, China has $2 trillion) involving money being transmitted in a constant proportion to GDP from America to China would lead to a steady convergence (see graph below). What we see from China is that there is a diminishing rate of increase in GDP from trade, principally assuming that GDP falls in America. Clearly this is an abstract simulation of a process of movement of money between two nations and denies complexity. However the insight brought from this is that China cannot move ahead of America through trade alone, it needs domestic growth in the circuits of capital to raise its GDP above the US. Therefore the predictions of the Goldman Sachs model of China’s growth are called into question. We must stress that this is just one process among many that are always occurring in economies. But simply on trade alone, China cannot grow past America.GDP changes from trade imbalance between US and China14000
8000 US GDP China GDP6000
0 1 4 7 10 13 16 19 22 25 28 31 34 37 Time27. The Private Equity Model
Early 21st century high finance saw the evolution of a new, experimental and initially successful business model; private equity. This involves buying companies using packages of financial instruments like loans and bonds that split up the earning streams of companies. The efficiency aspect of the innovative model was to split up existing businesses and put them together with other ones to create synergies and cross market/production possibilities for income growth.
While there was an initial boom in the early development of this sector with funds and human capital moving into it at the prevailing low interest rates of the post 9/11 world economy, the underlying model came to be reconsidered. At the root was the determination of where exactly the exorbitant returns were coming from. Moving beyond the obfuscation of the complex financial instruments used to fund buyouts of public firms and putting them into less scrutinised private hands we hypothesise that the salient difference between private equity and other capitalist models is in fact that there is far higher levels of debt to shareholder capital. Since the rate of return on capital is higher at higher levels of leverage given low interest rates on debt, the illusion of a highly profitable industry is created. Small changes in profit to the business that is bought produced by private equity reassembly of firms in their portfolio lead to large changes on return on capital. The risks of this approach became apparent when interest rates rose in the 2007 credit crisis leading to a flight to low leverage, consistent profitability rather than rate of return on capital. The process of private equity raising the amount of leverage on firms leads to risks to the liquidity of business within the economy which leads to instability given variation in macroeconomic variables.
We suggest that business strategy must be expanded to consider the macro effects of the implementation of such strategy on the system, through simulation of outcomes and scenario analysis of the potential risks. Clearly should government be the only party in such analysis then there is the potential for asymmetries of information between industry and government to produce ineffective analysis. However, as new trends and changes in the structure of the economy are observed, economists could be a satisfactory alternative to government, by engaging with the private sector to gather information on the actual structure of the economy and then using their analytical skills to debate the sustainability of different structures and processes. This would lead to greater intertemporal transparency of business, in other words business would be better understood by the society at large, not just in terms of its existing realities but in terms of the future potential reality. Investors would thus be able to allocate capital more effectively across different business models and more stable business models would demand a higher premium, thus drawing firms towards a more effective long term growth strategy, which, given that the economy is partly the sum of all firms within it, would have a strengthening of long term growth.
Extensive form game theory is a mathematical form which deals with strategic interactions along an axis of time. I choose to move my knight to attack your pawn, you sacrifice your pawn but this allows your queen to move closer to the king. This results in me engaging in a different path and thus you can take my bishop. Any interaction can be considered. However who are the players? Are they truly restricted to humans with free will? We consider the conceptualisation of society or one’s environment as a strategic player in human interaction. Just as the economist would say that the firm makes its decisions in a response to the market, so we suggest thinking of the poor individual as engaging in a strategic reaction with their environment as a player in the game, expressible through extensive form game theory.
Discussion with the disillusioned poor person may bring to light a feeling they have that the world is against them, that it seems hopeless, they have nothing to look forward to, perhaps a general disrespect for tools of society like the police and that it seems they just can’t seem to get any further. The human propensity for anthropomorphism is idea that objects in the world have a human quality. Humans are based on relations with other humans, it is integral to our brains we assert, and so our relationship to our environment can lead to a consistency in the ascription of ‘a soul’ to society. Humans show great loyalty, at times, to royalty and their nation-state, their culture. No where is the anthropomorphic nature of the mind more clear in the embodiment of a nation-state as an actual person, whether royalty or president.
As a poor person interacts with society they are hypothesised to generate a relationship with it as an idea map in their own mind. These idea maps are transmitted between different members of poor communities. This idea map is more along the lines of a conversation tree in that it is a strategic extensive form interaction. One can choose to get welfare payments, sell drugs or get a job. The lack of success at getting a job that fulfils the poor person can lead to other options being revised in their expected payoff. Clearly society is a conscious phenomena in that it is organised and lead, so the government structures incentives to discourage deviant behaviour.
We hypothesise that the environment of the poor has a tendency to lead to many no-win options in the extensive form game theoretical payoff tree of the poor person. This causes frustration leading to a tendency to underachieve, apathy, violence, crime, breakdown of family and other social institutions. For example, if one has a low income then one may be in possession of a second hand TV. This outlet and release from ones life may be prone to breaking down. Thus one may work all day and find that the only escape one has leads to frustration when it breaks down or gives a poor picture quality. We must see that it is not the particular effect of a dodgy TV that causes crime but a multitude of processes that lead to the frustration of the poor and thus deviant and destructive outcomes. The nature of contemporary US capitalism is perhaps related to this and work to lift the Americans out of their poor state must be undertaken in order to overcome the concomitant problems of its system. The implication for globalisation is that the US model is not completely perfect and to avoid the difficult social problems of the US there must be adequate solutions to the neglect of the poor’s environment interactions from an analytical systemic rubric.
29. What makes an idea successful?
An idea is successful if it is held by large numbers of people. Assuming that an idea comes from a single source, it must overcome mutual exclusive ideas and disseminate widely throughout society. We suggest that there are strongly held idea maps in society and in its various groups which a successful idea must be coherent with at least, and for high chances of success it must be something that springs from, that is a development from the underlying idea map.
Consider corporate branding. Practitioners know that you can sell a lot of product if there is a good brand identity. Look at Coca-Cola or various goods sold to the youth. Adverts for these products have often related the good and brand with the idea of being ‘cool’, in other words consumption of this product will raise or maintain your social status among a youthful peer group. Skin care products often have the idea of beauty associated with them, along with a ‘science bit’, in other words there is a scientific causal mechanism that the product involves that gives legitimacy to the products effectiveness. This brings together two different contrasting ideas, beauty of the self and science as a cure for all problems. The point is that these are underlying ideas in society and thus advertising practitioners tend to use them to successfully raise sales. Corporate Social Responsibility is another example of linking ones brand to ones community by making the brand associated with the underlying idea map category of ‘doing good’.
Determining how to make one’s idea successful involves collecting data, whether informally or formally, analysing the underlying consensus idea map of the group one wishes to affect. Linking your idea as a natural result of the underlying idea map, indeed using it as a sign of what people want, is a distinguishing point in our argument.
Clearly the effect of linking needs to be considered strategically in terms of what others in the market do. So if everyone is doing exactly the same thing then there is no effect on the demand for the branded goods. Porter would suggest examining capabilities of ones firm and seeing where there is difference with competitors such that the ideas one attaches to ones brand are most powerfully fulfilled. Café Direct distinguish themselves by providing better supplier relations (through paying them higher prices) in poor coffee growing countries and achieve increased value added results. One also has to look to develop capabilities to maintain such a difference in brand idea map. One area of capabilities is to develop the understanding of underlying idea map processes.
Understanding the dynamics of the underlying society idea map is a crucial area of research since it essentially allows you to forecast trends. Consider the fact that the concept of the “holiday” does not exist in India. However looking at the pace of life in India, whether it is the 5 day cricket match, the slow cooking of tea or the 3 hour long bollywood films, one sees a definite lack of time-compression in lifeworlds there. Thus the lack of stress in life leads to less of a need for a concept of a holiday when one gets a change in one’s lifeworld to one where there is a very unrestrictive lifeworld in terms of time and itenary. However with sustained economic growth and the increase in time compression of lifeworlds, there is the likelihood of the memetic propagation of the lifeworld of the holiday to India’s populace, especially its middle class, and thus one could forecast a travel industry developing there in the future. Here we see that lifeworld structural development can be influenced by economic transformation and goals and thus the underlying idea map of society can have new ideas implanted into it. The holiday in the UK is linked to the image of the beach and the scantily clad sunbathers under the sun and by the sea, among other ideas. It would be interesting to see what India’s holiday idea would link to, clearly something that is prized as somewhere different to a hot country.30. Progressive social movements in the UK
We look at idea maps for an archetype in the UK’s social movements which we term ‘the progressives’. The archetype involves many different social groups which have a common ethos, that of the social being above the individual. In this respect all of these social movements have been often related to being ‘good’ morally and have often surfaced and expressed themselves in opposition to a different social force, that of the established order. All of these movements differ in their solutions, critical ideas in their maps.
The antiglobalisation movement of the late 90s and early 21st Century involved environmental protection, a contestation of wealth and living standards between the ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ nations, direct action groups, anarchist anti-state control of the population of western countries, anti-multinational firms, anti-neo-liberal post modernist socialist academics and theorists as well as many who were simply following the crowd with little commitment to any particular ideology or outcome. What should be noted is that were one to draw out an idea map for each of these elements of the movement then there are glaring contradictions; the pro-state socialist alongside the antistate anarchist, the pro-development of the developing countries agenda alongside the anti-industrialisation of the environmentalist. The absence of a coherent ideology suggests an important point, that social movements can ally themselves to each other and engage in varying degrees of political contestation without having a coherent plan of action for policy. Unlike socialism which had from Marx onwards a strong emphasis on debates and dissemination of theoretical and empirical developments, the tendency to coherency of ideas in a movement that becomes settled and reproduced was lacking. Charles Tilly defines social movements as phenomena of the modern Western world given the production of education which effectively means that the ability for ideas to propagate throughout society to find consensus among different individuals was more likely to occur. The common underlying idea map (truth) created by national education lead to ideas that related to this consensus of truth becoming drivers for social movements.
In an attempt to explain why incoherent idea maps of different social groups could form the anti-globalisation movement, we believe that the core motivation for engagement in these different strands of progressive thought was the desire to be ‘morally good’. Since the individual may have linked incoherent ideas such as environmentalism, development of the developing countries, socialism and anarchism to being a good cause there was motivation to become a member of them. Charities are among the only organisations that can obtain a workforce to some degree without paying wages, which is due to the fact that people will engage in activity that they say is good for no monetary compensation. Similarly the progressive social movements were classes as good causes and thus people became involved, attracted to them and avoided critical analysis of them. The lack of critical analysis lead perhaps to the decline of this movement since it did not bequeath a coherent basis of either action or strategy which is the key for reproduction of an institution. But the key point to realise is that the underlying consensual idea map of society involves being ‘morally good’, and indeed many justifications for different ideological approaches are linked to the underlying idea map by attaching to the ‘morally good’ idea. Democracy is linked to the government being good since it works for the people of the nation and is the common consensus of ideas according to Rawls. Laissez faire economics is argued to be in the interests of society according to mathematical models. Socialism is said to be in the interests of the working class, which form in many cases the majority of a populace. Anarchism is in the interests of the people in terms of obtaining their freedom from the state. Monarchy is argued by Hobbes to be crucial to society since it establishes order among people. The common theme from at least the 14th Century is that ideas must be linked to the ‘moral good’. However they differ on whose good, an anarchist takes the individual’s good to be above the nation’s, while socialism sees the working class’ good to be above the capitalist class.
The antiglobalisation movement formed the latest in a long run theme in the UK of Progressive politics which arguably originates out of religion, perhaps the most early of social movements, which established or at least formalised the idea of morally good as distinct from morally bad. The development of the peace movement which arose out of the ashes of the antiglobalisation group in the early 21st Century was another example of this idea of good, but in this case the arguments tended towards a ‘moral high ground’. The attack on America by Muslims was seen as bad, but the attack on Muslims by America was also seen as bad. Thus the logical position one obtains that involves being neither in favour of war on either side, thus a peace movement became the cause of attraction of progressive politics. The observation of this dynamic had an effect on the US administration by their seeking to at least portray their actions as the moral high ground, though the implementation of this was curbed by possibly a lack of experience of the nature of good becoming a strategic variable in public informational-support interactions.
As a member of the antiglobalisation movement during its time, I find myself reporting that the membership entailed an identity and furthermore a completely different life world in Habermas’ terminology where one experienced exciting and involving interactions. The change in the very rules, values and goals one had during a demonstration, with its dynamic of strategic interaction with law enforcement authorities, made for an escape from the mundane realities of consumer capitalism. This free holiday into a world were one’s reason for being somewhere was in line with the underlying idea map of ‘moral goodness’ lead to a coherency not found when one engages in the other pleasures of life in the post-industrial world. This is above all the key to the development of the movement in that it produced in different groups an alternative life world, with different language, meaning of objects changing and action differing alongside a coherency of being. It redefined space as well as the mental existence, for example the march on Oxford street that lead to Oxford circus becoming a temporary prison for the demonstrators when they were cornered there by police and arrested as a group under public order legislation.31. Nightlife
We turn our discussion to the lifeworld in Western culture of nightlife. In the UK this perhaps can be seen to begin with social institutions of the tavern, the pub. There were many kinds of developments in this into places where dance was integrated into the ‘nightlife’ lifeworld. Dance, as a social institution existing within a zone, a building or room, this widely found cultural phenomena was perhaps an elite institution that became widely held. ‘The ball’ was an attachment of the idea of dance with an elegantly designed building that brought together people of that class. The modern night club, in some cases, can be seen as an extension of this idea map, but with a liberal equality slant to it. While the life world of the nightclub in the 21st Century is a barrier of security staff who define entry, alongside a monetary transaction, which follows a mixing up of social relations within the process of the darkness mixed with light effective of consciousness as much as the intoxication of drugs and alcohol. Many people who have been to a nightclub would report a feeling of elation and satisfaction which comes perhaps from the simplifying effects of the lifeworld, allowing one to forget ones work lifeworld, and the engagement in social relationship building, the expansion of social networks, whether transient or more long lived. This may explain the popularity of the nightlife concept in Western culture, broadly a category in the underlying lifeworld idea map of ‘entertainment’. The limitation of the individual to affect this idea map, even though they are the source of it, shows that memetic phenomena can be very stable.
Were one to be against ‘nightlife’, then the concept still remains and is reproduced, since someone who opposes ‘nightlife’ simply stays at hope at night and therefore ceases to be a part of this lifeworld. Clearly there is the possibility of the entire society opposing nightlife and then the concept would no longer occur, so there must be a central mechanism leading to the tendency for nightlife to be in existence. The gain for members of the nightlife world is a soothing and expelling of frustration, boredom and anger. The work lifeworld, the engagement in employment, leads to these needs being created, thus the stress of modern life leads to a symbiotic relationship with nightlife as a lifeworld, where nightlife supports and maintains the lifeworld of work by allowing a controlled dispersion of stress and frustration. As a result of the capitalist system of exploitation and alienation, nightlife becomes a set part of the social structure and time-geography.
We can see a similar analysis with the maintenance and stability of the social structure of the work lifeworld. This is due to the fact that any who oppose ‘work’ can only respond by not being part of the world of work, thus they are unemployed and therefore exist outside this lifeworld and do not affect it. Thus the work lifeworld remains and is reproduced as a system of domination. This basic fact has not been understood by Giddens in his Structuration theory. He maintains a seemingly contradictory stance that social agents are able to change their social systems of domination, yet are simultaneously part of them. What is clearly our distinction with Structuration theory is that as soon as one opposes a stable social structure, whether dominating or benign, one is often excluded from it, whether by design or accident. The absence of an ‘author’ to many social institutions and collectivities leads to a difficulty in altering them by individual parties.
What we can understand from this analysis is that the lifeworld is an experience in many cases, thus it reproduces itself via a spectacle where audience is actor, with varying people involved in it. There are rules and patterns of behaviour but the stability of the concept is established without formal discussion within society or theoretical work as to it. Thus we can see that social institutions can arise out of history rather than having the individual author. This is a key point in our understanding of the macro-micro homogeneity-heterogeneity social-individual division. The individual cannot change nightlife, even though they are the constituents of it. While they may not desire to change it because it gives a well trodden path to go down with well understood expectations, this leads us into a development of the analytical work of the nature of the structure that leads poverty into crime and tension. The argument that social theory has presented that domination in a social structure cannot coexist with free will can be understood by application of the principal of nightlife, which is a common experience of many of our readers, that the individual often chooses the well trodden path and can in many ways be seen as engaged in a non-deliberative engagement and reproduction of social institutions such as nightlife. We put the question of whether the many other alternative lifeworlds of the modern society are not also similarly one of being part of something which one cannot change in its core idea map and life world existence.32. On the salient characteristics of the underlying idea map of society
Different societies have varying idea maps, we take that as an assumption that is evident from the literature. But is there a structure that determines or at least drives a process that leads to a tendency to skew the idea map in one or other direction of change?
Clearly since the society is formed of humans then the underlying idea map, the common truths, will be related to the human as an individual. We should reduce this to common ideas in idea maps will be formed in relation to the individual. As a human one has the desire for survival, so we can deduce that a common category of ideas will be linked to the concept of a threat. So x is a threat or y is a threat. It may be couched in more dense terms, such as x is linked to a process which will (between the lines) be considered a threat at some point in the future. The media in the West links crime with black people, or immigration with modern slavery (i.e. people trafficking), precisely to create this commonly interpreted linkage to the concept of threat.
There is also the commonly held concept of ‘good’, which must be seen in an abstract form that is ascribed by the individual. Charity is closely linked to the concept of ‘good’, and people alter their reaction to charities compared to organisations that have been attached to the idea of ‘threat’, such as the multinational corporation idea in the anti-capitalist movement. Clearly the concept of good and threat are subject to their own historic dynamic in terms of their definition.Just taking these two conceptual categories; good and threat, we can see that many basic strategies in information politics can be created simply by adjusting idea maps to link different political objectives to either good or threat. Idea map coherence between environmentalism and Christianity
Consumerism Covetousness / /
Carbon Emissions God’s Judgement / /
Global Warming Hell
Consider the environmental movement. The idea map which has ‘popped’ into a system wide belief is one of the linking of the threat to the planet with carbon emissions. It is not necessarily true that the world will end if there are carbon emissions, however a promotion as good of ideas of non-covetousness has reappeared in Western society (this was last seen in the Christian inspired linking of covetousness with going to Hell, a similar idea to global warming, especially in its irreversibility) because of the linking of carbon emissions and a threat to the survival of the human race. What we see here is a dynamic between linking an idea to ‘threat’ and the formation of what is ‘good’. Good things are what reduce the risk of the threat from manifestation.
Was good created out of threat? Consider religion. If one takes the Old Testament God to be valid, then one sees the narrative of numerous nations being punished for not being ‘good’, thus taking the narrative as real, then one can suggest that numerous social groups that are at the roots of Western society were possibly inspired into doing good as defined by the religious texts to avoid the threat of God (i.e. through fear of God).
Good is often held to be also about the abnegation of the self, to consider others more than oneself where this helps them and to consider oneself more than others where this involves judgement. Thus we avoid taking too reductionist and generalising a view on our above analysis and hypothesis.
Good in Western society after the Renaissance came to hold an attachment with Liberalism. The linking of the idea of contained set of rights which each individual within a nation-state is thought to have necessarily with their existence; equality of opportunity (Rawls), property rights, rights to engage in the political process, rights to do whatever one wants where this does not reduce the rights of others (Mill). Liberalism, as most idea maps that are considered part of the underlying idea map, came to encompass many different ideas, for example Montesquieu separation of powers, modern ideas of duties coming with rights, the propagation of the democratic structure across the world under the Bush administration of the 21st Century, The Washington Consensus on Development for the poor countries and the state policy of privatisation of industry.
We may ask today, why does Liberalism seem so entrenched with the idea of good? Historically it is Liberalism that has been at the heart of material changes for much of humanity, for example, the end of slavery, the French and American revolutions. Clearly for an idea to become considered good, the idea must be linked to popular changes. We take the view that an idea is not inherently of a certain quality, but rather it is the linking of it to different things that gives it a quality. Were we to simply say, Liberalism is good obviously, then we would be part of one of the processes (the mimetic process) which we seek to cast light on. In terms of a society that sees progress as good, that is change of benefit, Liberalism seems a beneficial change as compared to previous belief systems. The idea of progress is perhaps something that in Western society, comes from the gradual change of capitalism over the last five centuries. So looking at the difference between old religious-feudal systems of the human condition and liberalism, one finds that more people gain from the change to equality of political power as an ideal (democracy) than from believing that they are part of a stable natural hierarchy ordained by God (religious feudalism). Clearly there are prominent thinkers providing better arguments for the need for a sovereign, such as Hobbes, who links the welfare of the individual to the power of the sovereign, by suggesting that a decline from order would result without a powerful King ruling which would lead to civil war thus hurting the individual. Here, perhaps, the idea of the concentration of power of the nation-state leads to the King being overthrown to be replaced by the King of the revolution. Thus it may be argued that Liberalism brings forward some of the ideas of the old feudal-monarchic state thus an archetype forms, one of the centralisation of power and the singularity of the leader, the key decision maker. A criticism we have of Liberalism is that how can it be considered good when it involves keeping the key structure of the old monarchy, that of a cabal of elites who are most involved in decision making. The fact that these elites have to justify their ideas to society does not make much difference as they will often be applying their own vision for society rather than one that society itself has generated. The idea of a mandate handed down by the people is not too different from a mandate handed down by God, the two are similarly immaterial and silent in this world. Thus we see that Liberalism has a fault we have sought to address in our argument for direct democracy.
The analogue of the political leader in the economy is the capitalist. Yet this has in some parts dispersed so that the idea of the leader is there in the structure of the firm, yet the owner of the firm is in a sense non-existence or at least transient in public limited companies due to the fact that the shares of these companies are traded constantly by investors with diversified portfolios. Clearly these investors all want the same thing, an increase in their asset’s value, so an external silent stimulus stops any change from the goal of profit as an ethos and meaning of the firm, yet the fact is that the investors rarely have to do anything to discipline the firm’s managers, the structure of the firm and economy is such that the snake moves on even when its head is cut off. This is closely related to our discussion on ‘nightlife’ as a structure or lifeworld that one cannot actually change much, it exists as a part of society, a strategic path of experiences that is habitually engaged with, and also our discussion on poverty structures (composed of a number of lifeworlds that are accessible to the poor) that have a tendency to lead to crime, which also cannot be changed by the individual inhabitant.
What we see then is that an inherent perfect good of Liberalism, in the sense that it is the end of history, the natural stage that all societies will become drawn to, is naïve and misleading. Liberalism contains ideas that are not huge changes from earlier illiberal ideas. It caught the winds of a social trend and was in the interests of the growing property owning and value adding classes (capitalists and other rich people). The coincidence of interests between the common man seeking some meaning and empowerment and the rich who were not part of the political elite, lead to stimulus to the acceptance of the idea of liberalism, which is what gave rise to its revolutionary power. Yet when an old order is replaced, there is often the fundamental problem of freedom (getting your freedom is easy, the hard part is knowing what to do with it) which leads to indecision and the creation of an archetype, that is in some sense a regress to the old forms with new ideas. What we talk of here is the notion of the sovereign, which is where democracy stopped being good by taking a representative relation to the public. It is as little in the interests of the public to be ruled by hereditary Kings as it is for the public to be ruled by the winner of an election, which is little more than a social memetic system which often degenerates to strategic buzz word slogan conflicts and personal image. The amount of political analysis devoted to this area of presentation and the paucity of development of coherent useful strategies to improve the nation makes this fact all the more pertinent.
The reply a liberal fundamentalist may give is that the election leads to the government becoming in line with society’s interests. We need to discuss the nature of interests, that is the stimulus of a social group to go down various strategic paths. In most cases this is where the payoff for going down a specific path is considered more beneficial than others. Interests manifest from the underlying idea map in terms of causality. If x brings good things for z then z’s interest will be for x. If y brings bad things for z then z’s interest will be against y. Such an idea map does not need to be true, for example it may not be a measurable outcome perhaps because this will happen in the far future. People may not judge it to be as important as their vital interest in another area. The idea map may not be coherent, in which case the interest aligned government may not be able to ever deliver completely, as in the case of low taxes alongside high levels of free health care. The idea map may be simple, perhaps generated by a set of simplistic journalists, focusing on heterogeneity to determine the generality, or some similarly incoherent methodology for social comment. The journalists are determined by government and government is determined by the journalists. Thus one could perhaps see the grave problems of untenable democracy. We have given one answer to this particularly problematic feedback issue in our theory of the Islamic state, or moral nation.
A key reason why Liberalism is immune from criticism is that it has replaced what was considered Holy in the Western world. In other words it occupies position of a religion and criticism of it is seen as blasphemy (perhaps because archetypes inherit old associations). The naivety of this is clear since liberalism can only progress (progress being its original justification) through critical thought on it, in ideal and in implementation. That said, in the Western world Liberalism is strongly placed in the underlying idea map and any new ideas to be imposed on this culture would need some linking to Liberalism to be successful.33. Defining integration of Muslims into the UK.
A process involving idea map propagation is through feedback of it between various groups or perhaps various network configurations. As two groups form through a grand narrative, there is an idea of the image of each group propagated among members of these groups. In the absence of links between these groups, in other words a linking of lifeworlds, there is the tendency for these idea maps to follow the dynamic within the group and not be based on empirical verification. Thus the idea map of imperialism which was reproduced as racism in the 20th Century West made an idea map of out groups linking various negative ideas to the identification of out-groups. A modern theme employed in anti-Islamic Western policy is to suggest that there is a problem with the integration of Muslims in Western society. There has been a paucity of real debate on what this really means, making it seem like the usual business of proto-genocidal Western rhetoric to make Western imperialism less contested. However it is interesting to discuss the whole idea of integration and the reaction to this policy (if one can call it a real policy since it has not been backed up by any measures or concrete proposals) from Muslims as a starting point for some interesting social analysis.
For example, a common Muslim rebuke to the command by the state is that assimilation, an idea with many imperialist notions, is not accepted. This is an interesting blocking strategy in the debate, since it shows that the social group under attack (Muslims) replies to the command by redefining integration as being assimilation, a negative or evil idea with links to colonial interference in ones culture. Thus Muslims do not change, therefore the whole policy of integration, based as it is entirely in news headline narrative, becomes dulled and ineffective, at least in terms of achieving the undefined idea of integration.
Why do Muslims feel threatened by the idea of integration, even though the idea is as the air; empty, vapid as liberty and in denial of basic policy methodology (which is to do something that achieves a purpose)? The implications of integration are to lose one’s religion, lose ones identity and potentially lose one’s place in heaven. As a social group, an integrated Islam would seem to engage in a trend of slowly withering away until there is nothing vital or distinguishing about it. This is a further problem of the vapidity of integration as a concept, since it leads Muslims to feel threatened by their own imagination about what integration entails.
The political endorsement of the idea map of “Muslims – not integrated into British society”, further feels as if the subtext is really that Muslims are not part of British society. This political excommunication is deeply rooted in a theme of Western Europe, that of excluding a section of society; Jews, the working class, the poor, criminals, the insane, women, people fleeing torture and war (asylum seekers), single mothers. The result therefore of suggesting that Muslims are not integrated into society is something that actually has the effect of excluding Muslims from British society. The paradoxes and madness of civilisation is evident.
We can hazard a guess at what integration means in terms of our analytical toolkit. This is that society is composed of many lifeworlds when one considers the structures that make up the consciousness of the people. These lifeworlds overlap and interact, a child may have a peer group lifeworld when they play with their friends and have another one when they are at school, where there is an authority above them of teachers. The teacher who is less able to control the classroom results in the peer group play lifeworld being born as disruption to the lesson. Integration could mean linking lifeworlds together, not necessarily to produce disruptive chaos as our example, but rather to create a harmonious society. But lifeworlds entail different rules, viewpoints, psychological frames. So a simple bringing together of British people with UK Muslims will not necessarily work on its own. Making it law that British people had to visit a Mosque periodically and get to know Muslims would be an example of linking together lifeworlds. The expansion of Mosques into community centres where British people would link in to the Muslims lifeworld by obtaining something they required or needed, help in some way, education, talks and discussions, etc would be an alternative way to achieve the same outcome of linking lifeworlds. Sadly thanks to the media and government linking the idea of Muslim charities and mosques as centres of fundamentalism and terror this possibility is cut off and help for British people in need is robbed from them. Thus we see how a general incompetence bordering on self-destruction by the Western governments has cut off solutions to the problem once again.34. The institutional determinants of trade
Consider the institutional differences (in the sense of classical political economy) between China and India. China has a large working class, this being considered a social group distinct from others in terms of their relations to production as well as self ascribed identity (agricultural workers in pre capitalist China would have considered themselves working class). India has a large middle class, since it produces many thousands of educated graduates every year.
Under free trade as was the policy post 1990s in India and China, we see that the institutional endowment of labour produced systematic effects on industrial structure. The companies that grew most under free trade were those that had an ample supply of labour that matched the work lifeworld that those companies offered. India’s middle class service sector, for example IT, IT related industries, banking and other services, grew substantially during the liberalisation period, while conventional manufacturing was not as successful as China. China on the other hand developed strong capabilities in manufacturing with its large supply of working class labour and working class identity labour (as in agricultural workers who migrated to the industrial zones).
Thus we see that the Heckscher-Ohlin model, which suggests that endowments of resources determine costs, thus comparative advantage and therefore the pattern of production for trade, can be used as an analytical justification for this outcome. We do not agree with the methodology of the Heckscher-Ohlin model but we are able to conceive real processes leading to similar results to this.
Essentially the decision for investment in a specific sector depends on the ‘beliefworld’ of the entrepreneur or board of directors. This is essentially an idea map that is circulated among a class that relates to a certain decision and also involves action external to the class and also internally to reproduce, legitimise and reinforce itself. It can be seen as a lifeworld and idea map synthesised together.
The beliefworld of the entrepreneurs who invested in China and India were ideas about what could reasonably work as a business in these countries. The institutional structure, in other words the pool of skills available, lead to the beliefworld of entrepreneurs investing in China and India to be different and thus there was differing sectoral investment in them. This would be considered the ‘decision maker model’ hypothesis of determinants of free trade.
On the other hand one can suggest that the ‘production process model’ hypothesis of trade, which is where comparative advantage and thus the sectoral composition of trade depends on either / both relative cost of inputs and absolute supply, which we suggest is related to institutional structure.Testing which of these hypothesis’ is most convincing as an explanation for the outcome of free trade is an interesting lead for future research. 35. An Accumulation model
We consider a sink and a source in a dynamic fluid system. The fluid here is money and we assume that the sink is able to retain some of the fluid that passes through it. The source is the state’s injection of money into the system. If the sink is the sole recipient of the money then there is an endless amount of accumulation. The retention of the fluid increases, thus we see the process of accumulation.
Consider now a simple vector which holds the values of money accumulated by each different node. The nodes can be ordered as in contemporary capitalism in a hierarchy of capitalist and working classes. As money is injected into the system, perhaps through open market operations by a central bank, whereby the banking system has an increase in money which it then lends on the basis of collateral and business plan feasibility, then capitalists will be able to increase their capital investment and marketing investment (in other words together, the value adding process) and so money will flow from the working class to the capitalist in exchange for products. Money also flows to the working class in the form of wages. This occurs at different times in each node’s case so that the system does not seize up with one individual or class holding all the money. Personal debt also allows this to occur. The marketing investment alters the idea map of society to motivate people to buy products of those firms engaging in the investment.
If a party engages in consistent consumption of a product, for example defence expenditure by a government or middle class luxury good consumption, then the economy will adapt to provide for these classes of consumption, subject to there being the capabilities or the potential capabilities in this economy. Thus the economic structure of the society is dependent on the idea map of the society, in that a society may see that defence as a role of the state or that being middle class involves luxury consumption.
In a society like the US where major sections of society are not linked into capitalism in a way that allows them to extract much of a surplus above their reproduction requirements for themselves and their families, then such a system has an inherent susceptibility to crisis. The long run increase in asset prices taken as a given leads to firms requiring a higher rate of profit increase to account for ever larger amounts of debt taken on to fund operations. As a result there is a skewed bias towards middle class consumption products and therefore the poor do not find much choice or opportunity to enhance their lifeworld. As a result there is a move towards a service sector whereby middle class people consume time from the poor who are brought into a system of domination which is the service sector. The result is that society cannot grow further for long periods of time in this hierarchy of value adding. The problematic of middle class consumption leading to balance of trade deficits in America is evident. To finance this the US tries to attract foreign investment into its financial assets which inflates their value and produces an engorged financial sector and therefore greater inequality. This brought about the internet bubble and the following house price bubble. Thus we see that the US model of capitalism leads to crisis and inequality.
On the other hand were the profits of big firms recycled into income for the poor then there would be increases in market size, a flattened hierarchy of value leads to enhanced rates of growth. Thus we suggest a change in the institutional structure of society whereby all members are equal shareholders of all big firms of that society. Thus the sinks in the system become connected to the nation and therefore there is a longer growth period for the economy. Without the hierarchy of different social groups there is also less inflationary pressure from wage increases cascading across the system to maintain the relative status of different classes. Thus with the ‘flat’ economy there are also fewer inflationary dangers to growth. The problem is that accumulation is heterogeneous in all circumstances and to homogenize the income and wealth structure leads to a potential problem of reduction in the incentive structure to work. Thus unless this problem is solved, capitalism can never be consider to be a sustainable and good system. Clearly a socialist economy based on common shareholder ownership of the means of production of the majority of large firms in the economy would be a solution, given that it could retain a certain level of equality in terms of income and wealth.We can present this argument as the comparison of the two cycles of money; the socialist shareholder hybrid model of common ownership and the US capitalist model.
In a society where everyone owns equal shares of the firms the cycle of money is wages being spent on consumption which gives the income of firms which is recycled as wages and profit (since everyone has equal shares of dividends), thus society is in a state of stability with injections into money flow by government to keep growth.
In the US model there is a much more chaotic cycle which tends towards crises because of its inequality. Wages here lead to consumption which determines the income of firms, which is recycled as wages, but instead profits go to shareholders, who are the class that has accumulated holdings over time historically. Thus the system leads to an ever increasing income inequality. Profits saved in the banks are invested, and loaned out subject to bank’s confidence about the economic outlook and the total value of assets held by borrowers. Thus there is a tendency for assets to increase in price as more money flows into them during a boom. Clearly this leads to development of value adding capabilities in firms who borrow. But the demand side of the system is not able to increase automatically, since a major section of the society simply does not have enough money to buy all the products. Clearly the US in the late 20th and early 21st Century thought it had developed an answer to this, in the form of personal debt to finance consumption, rising asset prices fuelled by debt that was in part funded across the world’s financial system. The sale of assets contributed significantly to the economic growth of the US. But clearly as sales of assets occur at higher prices, and a given mark-up return is sought by seller of assets, then there is the tendency for asset prices to lose their relationship with incomes and thus the problem of affordability occurred. Asset valuation is necessarily related to the income of the users of it, since this determines the rate of return on an asset as an income stream. The problem with debt is that it leads to money flowing to those who already have money, in effect acting as a sink which reduces the market size. Thus market size shrinks under personal debt and rising asset prices, thereby cutting off the very thing that supports asset price inflation disposable income. The realisation that equality or the greater level of equality leads to a longer period of growth is evident from the fact that with larger market size, in other words the potential demand for products, there is greater support for firms sales strategies, and market size is determined by a level of equality of income.36. The limitations to growth in an unequal society
Consider a money flow tree-network, where there is a single capitalist with $10, two middle class employees of the capitalist who each $5 each and 4 service sector workers who sell services to the middle class for $2 each. This simple tree has a result of leading to stagnation, since the service sector workers cannot buy goods from the middle class. The feedback does not occur, in other words the celebrated circular flow of income does not work in all cases. Thus there is a limitation to growth in an unequal society. This model can be seen to be similar to the structure of production in terms of international trade. US products are expensive so it has the income to buy from other countries but unless wages rise in the poor industrial countries such as China, there cannot be a circular flow. The problem can be seen to be caused by the indivisible unit constraint on demand. A unit of the middle class good is $5 whereas the income of the poor is $2, thus in this simple structure we see that the cost of a single unit of the good limits market size. We call this the Unit Minimum Problem. To put it in more visible terms, say a rich person produces a $50 camera each period while a poor person produces a $2 box of matches each period, then the poor person can never afford to buy the camera from the rich person because they only have $2 from selling their box of matches, though the rich person can afford to buy matches, admittedly we assume that there will be a satisficing point where the rich will not want to buy endless boxes of matches.
Society has produced a solution to this, namely debt and savings. However this is not an ahistorical phenomena, that is the very idea of a loan with interest payments above principal repayments does not necessarily have to be the only form of movement of money from rich to poor. The existence of Islamic contracts, where there are novel methods of moving money from those who have to those who have not, shows this to be the case.
Clearly we can see from the above tree formation of money flow that debt can relieve the problem of stagnation for a time, since money from the richer sections of society who save can be transferred to the poor to allow them to repay over time the cost of products which are too high a value for them to afford in one period. Thus we can get a handle on the basic problem in modern capitalism, that debt is necessary for the functioning of it in its unequal state yet debt is also the cause of the crash later on.
Consider an unequal society in terms of income as an initial condition but with equal levels of spending throughout the society, in other words everyone spent an equal amount of their income on everyone else. This does not necessarily have to be in terms of capitalist-consumer production-demand relations but could be achieved through state redistributions or contracts that were created from norms in society. This eventually leads to a state of equality in spreadsheet simulation. The simulation we carried out involved an initial conditions vector which contains each level of initial income of each person in society. This is multiplied by a transformation matrix each element of which contains the percentage of income which is transferred to each other node. Where each element is equal except for the diagonal of the matrix (which is zero if there is no saving) then the system tends towards equality over time.
A further and very simple spreadsheet simulation involves looking at a comparison of an unequal society, where national income is distributed between a few people equally, and an unequal society where national income is distributed between everyone equally. Consider an income divided by 20 people in the former case and one divided by 80 people in the latter case. An increase in income is assumed to be distributed equally between only these people (the 20 or the 80 in each case respectively). Thus the rate of increase in income is higher in the case of 20 people being ‘plugged into’ the capitalist system, so there is widening income inequality in such cases of ‘pure’ American capitalism.
Plotting the variation of income distributed equally between various numbers of people gives us the curve shown in the graph “Market size as a function of income distribution”. Assuming that the Unit Minimum Problem does not occur, i.e. that the cost of a unit of a good is $1, then we can see that market size (in other words potential demand) increases as a power series Y/(n-1) with the increase in the number of people sharing in the pie of national income.Market size as a function of income distribution
Y/n Power (Y/n)
y = 500x-1
0 20 40 60 80 = 1 100 120 market size
We argued in an earlier essay that raising the size of the worldwide market through measures to end poverty can lead to a higher level of world GDP due to market size being increased by a significant factor. This graph shows the mechanics of the argument for this, in other words we need to enhance the number of people getting plugged into the system or at least have a steady rate of increase in the number of people receiving a share of the world income pie, in order to sustain long term growth and indeed raise world levels of GDP growth by a significant amount.In conclusion
We hope you have enjoyed these essays. Our goal is to develop knowledge and thus develop humanity. Focusing knowledge on real concerns of humanity, getting past the conventional wisdom and prison structures of the Liberal Reality of the developed world, we see that we can work towards progress in analytical structures that not only tell us about others but also about who we are. Life is a search for meaning and structure. Society is the answer to Life.
The issue remains to be proved whether the outcome of progression and application of the methods employed in this set of essays leads to the Truth. The reductionist social scientist may criticise that the necessary subjectivity of the approach leads to confusion and multiple arguments that overlap and cannot be brought into coherence. While logic dictates that this must occur for validity, we may reply that the entire idea that subjects should be concerned with developing a common voice is due to a social desire for academics to be more powerful. Yet as academics deviate from pluralist approaches they often deviate from the Truth. The history of humanity is littered with one common fact, if there’s one thing you can depend on, it’s that people will always be wrong. We realise that the enhancement of the subjectivity of analysis and thus the freedom to write as one feels and thinks leads to a proliferation of ideas, yet as Durkheim writes simple narrative of the cause of suicide, so Shakespeare writes a more complex and developed version in Romeo and Juliet. Social science is part aesthetic, whether it is in reproducing liberal ideology at its best, or producing answers to questions that we have. In ignoring the aesthetics of an argument we miss out on experiencing a key driver of the dynamic of society and therefore hold ourselves away from part of the very thing we seek to understand. Academics need to be coherent with society, the most important way to judge an analysis is to see its coherence with the object it is studying and discussing. Furthermore we can see that the human propensity to achieve consensus, coherence of viewpoints and common messages and beliefs shown by the very existence of social objects of analysis such as institutions, ideologies, religions, political economic systems, leads one to have a hope that we can unbind the fires of academia to give light upon light to the whole world by contesting long held ideas with an explosion of new ideas. While one may say that this will lead to it being harder to identify the truth from lies, we may counter that given that we do not originally know the target, firing more shots will lead us to have a higher chance of hitting it. We may never know whether we have hit the target of truth, yet in debate, some ideas come to the fore due to the very fact that they reveal with clarity in terms of how we can look at the world, consider Einstein’s thought experiments, necessarily subjective in their identification and creation, though importantly logical and reasoned in derivation of the implications of them. The result of such a debate will be that the most persuasive of ideas will percolate to the top. However, we must admit from our preceding points on memetic systems that persuasion does not necessarily have a link to the truth. It is really the biggest contemporary problem in social organisation and social science. The fact that we cannot look at empirical evidence to support claims when the society is subject to multiple processes interacting and new processes occur at various points in time means that a full determination of society is impossible. However, we can generate arguments that have their method in analysis of actual processes and social constituents which we can all see in society. We can model real processes using tools that involve looking at their dynamics though these tools must accurately represent the main features of the reality of society. Thus a dynamic optimization of household expenditure will not be privileged due to the fact that the process of dynamic optimization does not occur in reality nor can it be seen as a short cut to something that does occur. Instead we can look at a spreadsheet simulation of accumulation of a household’s expenditure subject to various scenarios and then put these various simulations together to observe dynamics in vitro. Comparison with the empirical reality both casual (common sense) and analytical can then optimise our models and prescriptions. We can do thought experiments whereby we see if a system may tend towards stability or it may waste away or be subject to crises for example. As long as we keep the focal point of the analysis on making tools of benefit to society in terms of its self generated aims, then we are hopeful as to the efficacy of the rigour of debate.
Another confusion that may face the reader is identification of our thesis, or core argument. This must be clarified as the creation of clarifying analytical tools which can be applied in many areas of understanding social dynamics and structure in areas of society where ideas are at the core. Analysis of culture has been involving narrative and abstract models in the literature yet we see that clear observation of the reality of culture through systematic, clarifying analysis of experience can lead to considered exposition and elucidation of the social reality. We believe that some of social sciences most intractable problems can have more said about them from our tools.
Consider the contradiction between free will and an oppressive social structure. While Marxists have said that ideological chains stop classes from successful contestation of an oppressive social structure, we believe that we can look more deeply at conversation trees that produce the outcome and are essential to maintenance and reproduction of an ideological superstructure.
We believe that an extensive game theoretical analysis of the poor’s life histories and their counterfactuals would lead to a broader and possibly more successful approach in dealing with poverty and crime. As an aside, we consider that the structure of poverty leads to a constant stream of events that induce frustration and fear that lead to violence, potential mental illness and crime. Marx sought to channel that stream of emotion into contestation of the allocation and control of wealth, technology and resources. Modern day de jure meritocracy seeks to bring people out of poverty as long as it is something they choose to work hard at, yet the nature of the structure of poverty in developed countries, even those with welfare states, leads to this escape route from poverty being blocked. The reason America looks for external enemies is possibly due to the presence of poverty in the US and the potential of contestation that such social disparity can create. Thus in order to solve Muslim-West relations, an understanding of poverty and crime must be considered and solved in developed countries.