A Blurb on the Book I’m Currently Reading

The title is The Origin of Wealth by Eric Beinhocker.  As the blogger I’m about to quote correctly points out it doesn’t change my worldview so much as structure and give clarity to what I already somehow intuited.  On to the quote:

He effectively dismantles the present discipline of economics (I hurt my shoulder punching the air with every shot) which has bizarrely held “gold standard” status in the social sciences for far too long, outlines the work in complexity previously done, shows how the complexity models explain social and economic development far better than others, and outlines the strategies that businesses and organizations need to follow to adapt effectively to the environments that confront them.

Most of all, he crumbles the “liberal-conservative” dichotomy that has crippled our confrontation of the problems that clearly face us, including (by implication) the problems we have in corr sent policy. One of the more direct applications is his treatment of the impact of trust or lack of it in building constructive communities and the loss of legitimacy of institutions when a culture doesn’t maintain strong communities. This comes after the discussion of the role of social technologies, including law and justice institutions, in providing the structure for ordered progress.

The book finally applies complexity theory and evolutionary paradigms to economics, thereby relativizing classical economics (of both the left and right varieties).  It places classical economics in the same place as say General Relativity Theory and Quantum Physics did to Newtonian physics. It’s not wrong simply a rough first approximation and only applicable in a flat-space time environment (i.e. in economics an equilibrium environment, prior to mass technological, social, and capital evolution).

It opens as the blogger’s comment suggests the possibility of a public policy built around human flourishing/adaptation/resilience which does not fit into neatly into any of the categories in common political currency.

Beinhocker devotes a chapter to its application to business strategy but a more expansive treatment of much the same ground in the brilliantly conceived and written and equally poorly named It’s Alive.

Published in: on June 23, 2008 at 11:37 am  Leave a Comment  
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