Male C. Pig a.k.a. Svinopolist (piggymouse) wrote,
Male C. Pig a.k.a. Svinopolist

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Выписки: McCloskey, Bourgeois Dignity

Наконец-то (год лежало в очереди после прочтения гениальной "The Rhetoric of Economics") взялся читать "Bourgeois Dignity" нашей любимой товарища McCloskey. Товарищ Дейрдра как обычно прекрасная, повыписываю, чтобы не портить пересказом своими словами.

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I argue here... that innovation (not investment or exploitation) caused the Industrial Revolution. Many historians and economists would agree, so there's not much that is surprising in that part of the argument. But I also argue — as fewer historians and very few economists would — that talk and ethics and ideas caused the innovation. Ethical (and unethical) talk runs the world. One-quarter of national income is earned from sweet talk in markets and management. Perhaps economics and its many good friends should acknowledge the fact. When they don't they get into trouble, as when they inspire banks to ignore professional talk and fiduciary ethics, and to rely exclusively on silent and monetary incentives such as executive compensation. The economists and their eager students choose Prudence Only, to the exclusion of the other virtues that characterize humans — justice and temperance and love and courage and hope and faith — and the corresponding sins of omission or commission. The theorists of prudence forbid ethical language, even in the word-drenched scene of banking. Such a reduction to Prudence Only works reasonably well in some parts of the economy. You'll do well to choose Prudence Only, and silent incentives, when trying to understand covered interest arbitrage in the foreign exchange markets. But it doesn't explain the most surprising development[s] of all.

И важное из первой главы:

I claim here that the modern world was made by a new, faithful dignity accorded to the bourgeois — in assuming his proper place — and by a new, hopeful liberty — in venturing forth. To assume one's place and to venture, the dignity and the liberty, were new in their rhetorics.

And both were necessary. My libertarian friends want liberty alone to suffice, but it seems to me that it has not. Changing laws is not enough (though it is a good start — and rotten laws can surely stop growth cold). True, from 1600 on the new dignity and the new liberty normally reinforced each other, and such a reinforcement is one possible source of the economist's “nonlinearities.” Dignity and liberty are admittedly hard to disentangle. But dignity is a sociological factor, liberty an economic one. Dignity concerns the opinion that others have of the shopkeeper. Liberty concerns the laws that constrain him. The society and the economy interact. Yet contrary to a materialist reduction, they are not the same. Laws can change without a change in opinion. Consider prohibition of alcohol and then of drugs over the past ninety years. And opinion can change without a change in laws. Consider the decades-long drift toward independence among the English North American colonists.

It matters that dignity and liberty work together. Liberty without dignity, such as the lack of dignity that the wandering merchant faced outside his home city in medieval Europe or China or South Asia or Africa, makes for activity without faithful self-esteem, the eager but lowly and self-despising niggling of the marketplace. Willa Cather wrote in 1931 of “nervous little hopper men, trying to get on,” by contrast with her admired bourgeois successes of the early Midwest, R. E. Dillon and J. H. Trueman, true indeed. If thus lacking in dignity, the little hopper bourgeoisie is under assault from politics and society and literature, which makes for bad economic politics, as in Habsburg and then Bourbon and then Fascist Spain, and [the average level of personal consumption at] $3 a day. A leading example in European history is that of the Jews, liberated legally during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries but not accorded dignity — with the dismal result of Russian pogroms and Viennese anti-Semitic politics and the Final Solution.

Likewise, dignity without liberty makes for status without hope, merely another version of the hierarchy of olden times, as in the overregulated guild towns of Venice or Lübeck in their maturity. It happened repeatedly early and late that a vigorous, innovating bourgeoisie settled at last for local political power, and ceased innovating, as did (until they awoke during the nineteenth century) the Swiss “patriciate,” or the Dutch “regents.” The merchant aristocracy of Venice was closed in 1297, and yet the Venetians by unusual patriotism and focus were able to hold the golden East in fee for centuries after. The more usual case is that an oligarchy arises, then closes, and then promptly goes to sleep. Sleeping while collecting rents is so much more pleasant than striving. If the bourgeoisie were thus admitted into the elite, but at the price of disabling itself from alert and outward-looking innovation, the modern world would look a good deal like the ancien regime of Northern Italy or the Hansa, [with personal consumption levels] at $1 to $5 a day.

Ну и как же по дороге не постебаться над авторитетами и не подпустить гендерного вопроса:

The conventional history of “commercialization” and especially “monetization,” and their opposites “self-sufficiency” and “communal property rights,” with an allegedly sharp distinction between rural Gemeinschaft (inherited, emotional community) and urban Gesellschaft (created, cold society), and a recent “rise of rationality” and a lamentable dominance of Gesellschaft, are for the most part myths, created by German scholars in the nineteenth century under the influence of a Eurocentric Romanticism of race, and in reaction to the universalist claims of the French and Scottish Enlightenments. But on the contrary (and in agreement with the French and the Scots), from the earliest times peasants and townsfolk, farm and factory, were motivated by the same set of human virtues and vices. Ferdinand Tönnies, who developed the vocabulary of Gemein- and Gesellschaft, declared in 1887 that "one could... hardly speak of commercial Gemeinschaft." Yes one can, and for business to function well it must be an emotional community. "The Gemeinschaft of property between husband and wife cannot be called Gesellschaft of property." Oh yes, it can, and had better be if wives are to have independent identity.

Tags: economics, mccloskey, reading
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