The Debt-Dollar Discipline - Part II

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ashvinp
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The Debt-Dollar Discipline - Part II

Part I in this series introduced Michel Foucault's theory of disciplinary society, laid out in his book Discipline and Punish, and the application of this analysis to the "debt-dollar discipline" formally imposed on global society by the Bretton Woods Agreement of 1945 (establishing the dollar as the global reserve currency).

Here is the introduction of Part II:

Quote:

Part I in this series introduced Michel Foucault's theory of disciplinary society, laid out in his book Discipline and Punish, and the application of this analysis to the "debt-dollar discipline" formally imposed on global society by the Bretton Woods Agreement of 1945 (establishing the dollar as the global reserve currency). It should come as no surprise that this global financial discipline is currently in the process of being revoked.

This revocation is not carried out by the political or financial leaders of the world, but by the system itself. Part II will explore both the technical and practical aspects of disciplinary collapse, primarily in the context of complexity theory. Part III, to be released shortly, will conclude with some general thoughts on the potential forms of organization that could emerge from the ashes of debt-dollar discipline.

The Adaptive Cycle

Foucault did not say much about the future he envisioned for disciplinary society in his book, as it was geared towards promoting understanding rather than inspiring rebellion. He did, however, retain some hope that a better form of society could develop. [1]. Although he correctly identified the evolution of societal discipline with the evolution of economic structures, he was not in the business of predicting future economic developments.

Foucault's disciplinary system was a complex set of interacting networks, in which each central hub (households, schools, factories, prisons, etc.) served a necessary function. Although he described individuals moving from institution to institution in a somewhat linear path, he recognized that each institution was highly analogous to and reinforced the others. A system of such organization follows a natural evolutionary path. The debt-dollar discipline represents the tail end of this path, and the implications for disciplinary society at every level are extreme.

Most complex evolutionary systems, such as the global financial system, can be viewed in the framework of Buzz Holling's adaptive cycle, consisting of growth (exploitation), conservation, release and reorganization. An excellent primer on this topic and its relation to Robert Prechter's socionomics and Joseph Tainter's ideas on complex societies undergoing collapse can be found at The Automatic Earth [Fractal Adaptive Cycles in Natural and Human Systems].

The debt-dollar disciplinary system has been in a phase of extraordinary growth for the last few decades, exploiting markets and resources to increase inter-dependencies, systemic diversity and overall wealth. However, the high levels of growth and specialization also led the system into a phase of conservation, in which opportunities for novel exploitation diminished and systemic structures became rigid.

Increasing amounts of energy and resources were directed towards maintaining the existing system, rather than growth, and this maintenance was primarily achieved by core structures extracting large amounts of wealth from the periphery. The complex inter-dependencies, which previously functioned to generate wealth, became a major liability for the system, as it was less resilient to external or internal shocks. At this stage, Holling described the complex system as "an accident waiting to happen".

Full piece - http://peakcomplexity.blogspot.com/2010/12/debt-dollar-discipline-part-ii.html

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