In a comment at Warren Mosler's blog, reader "Save America" finds another useful book, from 1922.
The Story of American Public Life
from 1870 to 1920
SA: "The plutocrats of 1870 (moyers would really like this book)"
That's a good find, by SA. The clarity of thought in Pettigrew's 1922 comments suggest again that most things that need to be said have already been well said. Our problem is getting that key info to key people in key institutions, within critical time periods (say, most students, by 5th grade?).
"Houston, we have a distribution problem!"
The last sentence in the following excerpt from Pettigrew's book is a killer, in his section on "Bryanism":
'It is not easy to characterize a complex political situation in a brief and comprehensive manner. If such a thing can be done at all, I believe that it can be done most successfully through the personality of two men who typify the two extremes of American political life. One of these men that I shall select for the purpose is William Jennings Bryan. The other is Joe Cannon of Illinois. The first is a Democrat—the second a Republican.
I have known both of these men for many years. Neither is a statesman in any sense of the word. Both are lawyers and suffer from the disqualifications that go with the study and practice of the law. Bryan has integrity, of a sort ; Cannon has a keen mind. Both understand the political game, and both play it according to their lights. Bryan plays prohibition politics ; Cannon plays plutocratic politics. Neither has any real grasp of the meaning of the phrase “ the public welfare.” '
This brings us back to that perennial topic of "nothing new, but how do we scale-up what we're doing, this time using 10x more people?" There's no core concept in politics today that wasn't exquisitely solved by brilliant, tribal customs worked out thousand of years ago - if not longer. See this anecdotal post on tribal cooperation. "How can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?" That's a Xhosa tribal saying. It's a good reminder that even small children can be instilled with the habit of cooperation over competition.
The basic concept is called "return-on-coordination," and is obvious to anyone raised in a tribal or large-family setting. It gets lost when population growth outstrips ability to scale tribal customs.
However, note that return-on-coordination is also not obvious in harsher environments where population density grew more slowly; e.g., Russia.
The Xhosa language & culture is apparently adapted from the San tribes, and it adheres to a very old, small-tribe cultural paradigm. Nelson Mandela was raised Xhosa.
US citizens have a choice to make. Do we really want to be more like Russians, especially Ayn Rand, or do we want to find faster/better/leaner ways to scale up something closer to what the Xhosa originally espoused? We want our own way, but we want it to be even better, not just a copy of anyone else.
Our central need is methods for scaling coordination, across group size and different situations.
How do we scale up coordination? As an example, it's hard enough to train a basketball team. How would you train a mega-basketball team of 5000 players on the floor, not 5? That's the choreography question that military forces have pondered for thousands of years, and the same problem that was arduously solved by every species raising bodies comprised of trillions of well-coordinated, individual cells. All known tribal cultures have worked out exquisite developmental methods. Every known successful example required legendary amounts of practice to perfect. Recent large cultures and nation-states are obviously still in the early stages of practice, working out the kinks. The Pentagon today, considered far ahead of any other military on earth, still struggles with core questions about troop & officer training, unit cohesion, and force agility.
In regional and national policy, we're doing even worse, because we're investing less and practicing less. The only way for a nation to practice coordination is to keep itself busy doing insanely ambitious things. What are WE reaching for?
Witness how our republic has degraded into opposing political parties. We're the easily duped victims of divide & conquer strategies played again and again by those enemies of the people called frauds. More - by far - than any other war, whether the War on Terror, War on Poverty, Cold War, War on Drugs, etc, etc, we need a War on Fraud. By not pursuing that war, against the diverse factors limiting our own coordination, we're committing the greatest unwitting act of terror of all - national self-fraud. Self fraud is so subtle that most aren't even aware of the distributed parasite. After all, it's on everyone's back, throughout our culture.
Are we victims of our own, Self-Stockholm Syndrome? Each of us feels trapped, surrounded by neighbors where everyone is out for themselves, forgoing public initiative in order to hoard fiat currency "for later use." Since fiat currency is backed by public initiative, hoarding fiat currency equates to putting off public initiative. Yet there's no return on forgoing initiative! That's a zero sum game! Nevertheless, when everyone is doing it, it's tempting to go along with the "small" approach to organization. We've been duped, and it's shameful.
Yet we have a group mind of 312million (~150 million "adults"?) that can only think big, or not at all. A group-mind is a terrible thing to waste. What methods would allow us to link more people, so we can achieve the insanely great return on coordination from our entire population?
Investing in those new methods is far more important than the comedy of trying to hoard fiat.
"Houston, we have a problem, but we can handle it."