2004 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 117, Harvard Sq PO, Cambridge, MA 02238, USA 617-623-8080 - HOMEPAGE
The big picture & the time trilogy
Volume I,   Volume II,   Volume III

CEOs, investors, financial analysts and the standard economists who rationalize them assume that no matter what they do in a laissez-faire world, things will turn out OK. In other words, they can merge and acquire without end, restructure and downsize monthly if they wish, and the economy, like an infinite ocean, will just keep on taking it and providing a habitat for them to keep skimming and cherrypicking no matter how much their portfolios already bulge. Today a number of individual CEOs and investors, like Bill Gates, have far more money than most individual countries in the UN. And though mere "anecdotal" evidence and corelations (not causations, of course, oh no!) mount that the ocean isn't infinite and the habitat isn't as fresh, they believe that it still is or that it doesn't matter. "Didn't Adam Smith say that the Invisible Hand would automatically take care of everything?" (See Duncan Foley's 2006 book, "Adam's Fallacy: A Guide to Economic Theology.")

Well, rather than fight them, we decided to try to figure out, by reverse engineering, what kind of system they're assuming. In other words, what Minimum Departure from Status Quo would yield the kind of results for everyone that they seem to assume, and deliver the kind of bear-for-punishment system they require and indeed take for granted is already here.

So what would it take to let CEOs merge and downsize and outsource with no cumulative effects? One thing. It would take an employment system that automatically and quickly restored full employment regardless of job losses. But that one thing would require two other things. It would require skill liquidity and skill transfer of an unprecedented sort, and it would require a new way to control inflation besides fostering unemployment to scare the labor force out of making wage demands. We designed such a paragon of obviousness in the Timesizing Full-Employment Program. It's main "one thing" is in Phase Four, and the two other things are spread across Phases Two and Three.

We had a lot of help, but not from standard economists. They hate people like us. We're mavericks. Most of us are indeed dreaded "autodidacts" - self-taught people with no particular stake in any particular economic conclusion - except that maybe our whole economic juggernaut could be a lot more "win-win" than it is. Charlie Kindleberger, despite being personally a nice Ray Bolger-type of guy and a bit of an outsider himself (an American historical economist is a rare bird), said, with reference to Jane Jacobs, "All of us hate these autodidacts." (Warsh, Economic Principles, 396.) One of us autodidacts didn't get translated into English for 162 years (Sismondi).

OK, part of our problem is that we're not win-win with standard economists. We badmouth them. Jane Jacobs says economics is a "fool's paradise" and what's needed now is a wholesale rethinking of the field, a "trip back to reality." (Warsh, 396.) Joan Robinson called economics a branch of theology! And Sismondi opposed economic systems and all forms of dogmatism. But let's face it, standard economists deserve it.

We discovered that over the years, indeed the centuries, there were other autodidacts and mavericks who went over much of the same ground as us ("us" is maverick-correct here, an English disjunctive attested in Chaucer) and they laid down a pretty good foundation. In the last 20 years, Ben Hunnicutt. In the 1950s, Nobel-reject John Kenneth Galbraith. Art Dahlberg and Ed Filene in the 1930s. Lord Leverhulme (a "Lever Brother") and Stephen Leacock (a Canadian Mark Twain) in the nineteen-teens. Thorstein Veblen in the 1890s. Jean-Charles Sismondi in the early 1800s and Sir William Petty in the 1600s - see our bibliography. There are probably a lot more but they're tough to find because the mainstream does little or nothing to publicize them. None of these people get Nobels. Guess they make in-the-box thinkers uneasy. Kindleberger went on to say, "We are in the business of teaching people, and we want them to learn our stuff, not make it up." Sounds like primitive territoriality.

So what's really going on in this crazy, CEO-twisted world? Let's look past the "astrophysical economics" - the great battle between the centrifugal and centripetal forces on money to the really big trends, that not even they can block forever.

The basic trend in social evolution is away from greater violence, drama and heroics, and towards greater variety, gentleness and humor. This trend is borne on the repeated advances in the human technologies of sharing, that is, technologies that allow us to become more accessible to one another in line with our structures rather than doing violence to them. Sharing enables humans (and presumably any other intelligent species in the universe) to increase their variability, and variability itself is the critical all-time variable of complex systems, since it is the raw material of adaptibility. So sharing is the chief servant of variability (it facilitates it) and variability is embodied chiefly in technologies of sharing (or value-centrifugation) on the economywide level and in versatility on an individual level.

But now a long-overdue word about evolution itself from Albert E. Price, research fellow, Yale University School of Medicine:

The bolded parts of this letter are well-said, but Mr. Price's confinement of the application of evolution to the biological sciences and the random areas of biology he offers as examples tell better than any creationist why the general public is "misappreciating" or plain misunderstanding the importance of evolution. Evolution's relevance is a lot broader.

In fact, evolution applies also to the physical universe and therefore the physical sciences as well as the biological, and it also applies to the social sciences, though you'd be hard put to find a scientist connecting these dots. The problem arises in the stifling over-specialization of contemporary science, where scientists seldom see the trees for the chlorophyl molecules, let alone the woods for the trees.

But here's a religionist's appreciation of evolution that really hits the spot:

Few scientists have exposited upon exactly how evolution unifies biology, let alone how it unifies the natural sciences as a whole and the social sciences. Are they holding back to clothe themselves with some of the mystical, unquestionable authority of religionists? (because if so, the strategy has backfired as people by the millions, at least in America, have defaulted to religion and to the most naive form of religion, fundamentalism, at that) - or has the full simple and elegant truth of their own central doctrine really not occurred to them? Their frequent claims of some sort of absolute objectivity and failure to recognize, despite Thomas Kuhn's warnings in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, that there's no such thing as objectivity - there's only specifiably extended subjectivity (alias viewpoint, alias agreed-upon bias). In short, their attempt, like the religionists, to assume authority without responsibility, and like CEOs, to privatize and concentrate (in themselves) prestige and benefits generally while socializing and diffusing costs and risks.

The unifying power of evolution lies in its ability to linearize the major areas of biology, and relate all other to that central thread, so that any area within biology has an evolutionary "address." The thread would run something like:
moneralogy aka cellular biology, protistology, invertebrate zoology (here's where the other two major branches have split off: botany and fungology), vertebrate zoology aka ichthyology, herpetology, mammalogy, primatology, prosimiology, simiology, pongidology, anthropology.
It would run backward through the physical sciences something like: in the large-ward direction, moneralogy, biochemistry, hydrology, geology, astronomy or astrophysics, cosmology
or in the small-ward direction, moneralogy, biochemistry, biophysics, molecular physics, atomic physics, particle physics.
And the evolutionary thread would run forward through the social sciences something like: anthropology, sociology, geography/history, political science, economics, and we would append here the comprehensive non-social science, ecology.

Each social science would parallel a great collective invention that represented a leap in the technology of human sharing:

1anthropologysignaling, language, supporting mobile hunting tribes
2   sociologymyths, esp. calendar myths, supporting agriculture, supporting fixed societies
3geography/history   frozen mythology aka writing, recording; law, blame, guilt, punishment, justice
4political sciencedual literary traditions, bipartisanship, loyal opposition; forgiveness, rehabilitation
5economicsquantification, math as a second language for short-term agreement building
6ecologyprogramming for homeostasis or balance for long-term consensus building

These could represent six useful eras in human evolution = human prehistory and history. And six is a more useful number of divisions than Alvin Toffler's three "waves" or Hegel's(?) three "theses" (thesis, antithesis, synthesis). Six has unfortunate associations in the 666 "number of the beast" in Revelation (though that was actually only a code for Nero) but it has good familial-Jewish associations in the number of points on the Star of David if we're careful to distinguish between Judaism and the provocatively oppressive policies of the Israeli government toward their neighbors.

Let's look at the considerable resonance between these six social-science eras in human evolution and Abraham Maslow's *hierarchy of human needs or motivations. Maslow's pyramid was originally (1943?) a 5-layer affair (physiological, security, belonging, self-esteem, self-actualization) but he later (1962?) extended it into an 8-layer one, expanding self-actualization 2 layers downward (cognitive, esthetic) and 1 layer upward (self-transcendence). If we count out his bottom layer as soemthing we have in common with other life forms and nothing we have exclusively as humans, and if we group together the 2 layers he expanded downward from self-actualization, we get a 6-set that corresponds suggestively with our six social-science eras. Maslow's hierarchy represents stages that an individual human matures through ("ontogeny"). Our social-science eras represent stages that the whole human species has and is maturing through ("phylogeny"). So if we line them up, we have another interesting case of "ontogeny repeats phylogeny":

social sciencesHydeMaslow
2   sociologyfixed societiesbelongingness
3geography/history   writingself-esteem
4political sciencebipartisanship   cognitive & esthetic

Teilhard de Chardin's scheme may line up with this too but stay tuned till we re-locate our Teilhard books. Bingo. The Phenomenon of Man (1965<1959<1955). Looks like it's even tougher to extract a simple scheme from Teilhard than Toynbee. Getting something that allows us to wave Teilhard's wonderfully intimidating word "noosphere" (from Greek "noos" = mind) is more an excercise in extracting his language for each of our categories, which would go something like: 1 noosphere (page 191), 2 neolithic metamorphosis (p.203), 3 neolithic prolongation (206), 4 Judaeo-Christian ferment (211), 5 economic changes (213), 6 discovery of evolution (216). Teilhard seems so impressed with recent discoveries in human ancestors that he spends a lot of time discussing them, therefore approaching equal coverage to equal timespans, unlike the division of human evolution into social-science eras which groups and skimps the earlier timespans and treats the later ones with a magnifying glass of exponentially increasing power.

We still need to actually indicate the telescoping timespans involved in our six-step social-science progression, plus its corelation with the hierarchy of measurements or "dimensions." We also need to discuss Toynbee. Much of this material is in our book, The Football of Time (2002).

Toynbee at a glance. Toynbee's big flaw is that he picks as his unit of history the civilization or society (p.1 of "A Study of History") which is subject to a cyclical rise and fall, but then after spending 200 pages on "civilizations" he disavows the cyclical theory of history (p.254) in favor of a "progressive" idea, but without detailing, as far as we know, any stages in human "progress." Since his approach is relied upon by most liberals, this has left liberalism with a very sketchy and inadequate theory of history and concept of progress, prone to all sorts of hand-wringing special pleading, bleeding-heart appeals, and political correctness, whatever that may be at the moment.

The original locus of sharing in social evolution was in sharing our immediate images or thoughts via the elaboration of our pongid signaling system. This process culminated in the invention of language, and is the subject of the social science of anthropology and the subscience of linguistics. The long period before the next invention may be called the Anthropological Age (c.2m BC-12,000 BC). But we begin to tell a long story, which is better told in our book, The Football of Time. We had originally regarded it as Vol.II in our Millennium Orienteering Trilogy, but now we would assign it first place.

Suffice it to say, that the first four social-science eras (anthropological, sociological, geographic, political) were mainly linguistic. By the political era, social evolution had recognized a crisis - there were two versions of the truth, for example, that of the monastics and that of the clerics, or that of the Republicans and that of the Democrats, the conservatives and liberals, the stand-patters and the go-fasters. Political science had only linguistic solutions to this confrontation, such as diplomacy, courtesy, rhetoric and compromise. More powerful solutions were needed. These were found and developed in mathematics. If words were to hot to handle, numb-ers would be used. We know exactly when and where this invention, in its continued-to-today form, was made. It was made by Sir William Petty in his Political Arithmetick of c.1676, 100 years before The Wealth of Nations. In taking what we would call the conservative position in a debate about whether England was in a deplorable condition, Petty wrote:

"The Method I take to.\.try if I could also comfort others...that the Interest and Affairs of England are in no deplorable Condition...is not yet very usual; for instead of using only comparative and superlative Words, and intellectual Arguments, I have taken the course (as a Specimen of the Political Arithmetick I have long aimed at) to express my self in Terms of Number, Weight, or Measure; to use only Arguments of Sense [i.e., of experience or experiment], and to consider only such Causes, as have visible Foundations in Nature; leaving those that depend upon the mutable Minds, Opinions, Appetites, and Passions of particular Men, to the Consideration of others; Really professing my self as unable to speak satisfactorily upon those Grounds (if they may be call'd Grounds), as to foretel the cast of a Dye...." From The Economic Writings of Sir William Petty, Charles Hull, ed., 2 volumes in 1 (Augustus Kelley: Fairfield NJ, 1986), p.244.

This was the foundation of the quantitative method, which is the basis of all science, and the foundation also of economics and the economic viewpoint, though at first practitioners, including Adam Smith, of political economy as it was called largely downplayed it and afterward right up to the present, they misused it to prop the status quo and focus on ever more abstruse questions. Thus mathematics is a subset of linguistics. After a long gestation and a difficult birth (Copernicus-Galileo), mathematics' "umbilicus" to linguistics was finally cut at the dawn of the Economic Age in 1676 by the simultaneous invention of statistics, because Petty also invented statistics in its continued-to-this-day tradition, and applied his mathematics to the statistical data that he gathered.

We propose to follow the social science of economics with a all-inclusive, wholistic science that is usually considered an area of biology, as the above letter to the editor testifies; namely, ecology. Thus it is seen that the first four social-science eras are linguistic, and the last two are mathematical. When we get to the Ecological Age, the irony, as well as our reconnection with nature, is complete, because in the Ecological Age we find humanity pursuing a forced transition from quantity to quality of life, but with quantitative tools.

The most general tool of quantification and measurement that allows us to compare any activity or inactivity in the biosphere of this planet or beyond is time measurement. Time is the quantifier of all behavior. It has always been present in economics, but treated rather like Cinderella and never given its central place. Discussions of time in economics have often focused on minutiae like time-motion studies and so-called time management. Its critical role in the advancing technologies of sharing has seldom been recognized. This may be due to the fact that much of what might be called superstition still accrues to the concept of time, and it suffers from being so close to anyone's viewpoint as to require the skill of "operating on one's own retinas" to discuss or manipulate freely. We offer a book Defining Time to correct this. It will be seen that we have reversed the order of the first two volumes of the Millennium Orienteering Trilogy.

Once we settle the definition and paradigmatic context of time, we build on it an outline of the structure of work time that is presupposed though unrealized in free-market capitalism. This takes up the third and last book our trilogy, Timesizing, Not Downsizing.

Questions, comments, feedback? Phone 617-623-8080 (Boston) or email us.

The Millennium Orienteering Trilogy (3 volumes) is available for US$44 plus $3 shipping, from:
Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, PO Box 622, Cambridge-B, Mass. 02140, USA.

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