oftwominds.com blog

A Note on my One-Star Reviews

Every author accepts that not every review will be glowing, and that critics improve one's work by pointing out weaknesses. In some ways, the more direct the criticism, the more helpful the critique.

In some cases, the author accepts the criticism as valid but feels the reader missed the point.

I confess that my writing is repetitive. I hammer on the same themes to excess. I try to limit repetition but much leaks through.

In this book, some of the repetition results from my attempt to show that the systems dynamics being discussed manifest in many places: it's not just one isolated dynamic, it's systemic. This is critical enough to justify some repetition in my view because this explains why the usual piecemeal policy tweaks beloved by reformers will fail: thay don't address the entire system, and so their effect in terms of saving the system from its fatal synergies is zero.

Take anti-trust regulations to limit monopolies. Limiting monopolies is essential, but if the system is corrupted by financialization and the purchase of politcla influence, then promoting anti-trust regulation as the solution is not really a solution. The entire system has be changed, or the existing corruption will simply co-opt all reforms.

Systems-wide changes can only arise of there is a social change in what the citizenry find acceptable. These changes only arise in crises. There is no way to generate a social revolution without crisis, and so long lists of policy-tweak reforms are useless. The only changes that will be consequential are those that change the system dynamics throughout all the intertwined subsystems: financial, economic, social and political.

I belabor some points because I anticipate many of the counter-arguments. One major point of the book is to explain why global markets have failed to discover the real price of resources, goods, services, risk, etc., and so they have failed at the most profound level. This upsets doctrinaire free-marketers who are then tempted to label me a Communist.

Never mind I see an essential role for decentralized, localized marketplaces. True-blue Communists must then dismiss me as a capitalist running dog, or worse. (See my essay The Community Economy Needs Its Own Money.)

I am never going to please those demanding doctrinaire compliance with orthodoxy. I don't think that compliance with orthodoxy is actually helpful in solving problems. As a general rule, applying unthinking orthodoxies makes the problems worse.

Repetitive: I plead guilty, with extenuating circumstances.

Non-doctrinaire, unorthodox: guilty as charged.

In my defense, your Honor, I call it as I see it. There's no way to sugarcoat systemic failures with lengthy lists of the usual suspects of policy-tweak reforms. System failure leads to collapse. I see no point in offering false hope that the same old tired orthodoxies (markets and authoritarian states) can stave off collapse. Rather, clinging to orthodoxies and policy tweaks will accelerate collapse. Your Honor, I ask that we reconvene in five years (2027) and ten years (2032) to reconsider the verdict. Thank you.

I invite you to read the first chapter (PDF) and the Introduction--they're free.


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