Did these men crash the world?

Did these men crash the world?

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I wholeheartedly recommend this excellent 4 parts documentary called “Meltdown” from Al Jazeera. Part one is below. It explains with many details how the top finance lords have deployed their most subtle and vicious art as predators that eventually lead to the 1988 crash. No need to be a Nobel Prize economist to understand the systemic outcomes of this giant casino, and how decisions of a few men who where never elected sent millions of others into the streets. Common sense is enough to get the picture. 

In this first episode, we follow four men who brought down the global economy: a billionaire mortgage-seller who fooled millions; a high-rolling banker with a fatal weakness; a ferocious Wall Street predator; and the power behind the throne during Bush presidency. This documentary reminds us some harsh truths:

  • Any financial speculation is an exercise that disconnects the currency from the real economy. It ALWAYS leads, someday or another, to a disaster.
  • It is one among many examples of what I call legal crime, an idea that I will develop further in my future work on collective intelligence. It illustrates the divergence we often see between the moral line and the legal line, which leads to “what is legal is immoral, and what is immoral is legal“.
  • In the end it is always the people who pays the bill. People is this naive, ignorant, trusting, working collective body in which power vampires sink their teeth into until it turns dry. Neither people thrown out of their house nor the millions of Chinese workers thrown out of their factories will contradict this.

But we must not stop here. Sharks exist only because they have a hunting territory that feeds them. It’s a whole social, cultural and political system that provides them with a space to hunt. Pointing at the sharks and incriminating them as the only cause for blood shed is an epistemological and moral mistake.

Epistemological mistake? A classic one, indeed. When we accuse a part of the system to be the unique cause of imbalance of the whole system, we trap ourselves in a reductionist vision that leads to a world view that is as dangerous as the one being condemned. More: we perpetuate the system by polarizing it even more. This is what I call “symbiotic polarization” in collective intelligence, where every side self-legitimates itself in its rights and its actions by accusing the other side. It creates a very stable system that has very little capacity to evolve. It is always the fault of a Bush, Gaddafi, Hitler, Staline, Richard Fuld Jr. (former CEO of Lehman Brothers), some boss here or tyran there… It just shows how the founding mechanisms of pyramidal collective intelligence are not understood. It is that, thanks to chains of command and transfers of responsibility, most people are giving up their sovereignty and moral responsibility, be they at the top of the bottom of the pyramid.

Moral mistake too, when we lambaste the big predators and other power animals of the human zoo. Credulous money savers, ignorant consumers, everyone of us in various degree is responsible for a cog in this huge social machine, no matter how small is this cog. Building a deep understanding of how different forms of collective intelligence work and inter-operate is essential. It allows us to take responsibility and anticipate most of today’s planetary catastrophes that we are witnesses or victims of. The 2008 tragedy was easy to anticipate, as this was not a incidental cause but a structural one, when failure is designed into the system. Then you just need to extrapolate.

Of course it’s not easy to acquire some hindsight on why these big human earthquakes happen. First because their forecasting comes through what we call weak signals. It is when the situation shifts in an imperceptible manner, step by step. The signal is too weak for the mind to become aware of it and to get a sense that something is cooking, that the situation has shifted to another place.  Humanity is completely disarmed in regards to weak signals. We need to develop individual capacities to observe these weak signals, and listen to those who have built some expertise on them. The other challenge for acquiring some hindsight capacities is that schools, in the society of pyramidal collective intelligence, are designed to domesticate the young Human. These schools produce either docile or ferocious people, ignorant and naive in both cases. Both sheep and predators obey to the same logics of pyramidal collective intelligence, each of them perpetuate it in their own way. Not many people step out of such an enveloping and pervasive matrix of culture and beliefs. Conquering individual sovereignty requires lot’s of efforts and some long deserts to cross.

Nevertheless I remain very optimistic for different reasons. First, I see so many people awakening everywhere, young ones and old ones. Sociology does reflect this evolution by measuring how value systems evolve. Second because civil society is today granted with communityware that allow decentralized and distributed circulation of ideas and know-how. Indeed this is not enough yet. We still miss more powerful tools that allow synchronization of actions. By this I mean local and global actions, richer and more complex than a call for a street contest. Actions in the collective mean economy. Economy means currencies. Not money, as this is such a poor archaic language based on scarcity ideologies. I mean free currencies.

Sooo, well… I must continue my work ceaselessly, so that free currencies move from a seed to a global movement that nothing can stop.

5 Comments

  1. Antoine Dousse says:

    Just great to discover. Thank you for sharing such analysis

  2. Chris says:

    Thanks for sharing the perspective. Brings to mind, for me, a feel of Pedagogy of the Oppressed meets systems theory. “Ceaseless work”…thank you for continuing on!

  3. Maurage says:

    Thank you Jean-françois for this great piece of analysis, for focusing your energy on changing the world. Thank you for being an inspiring person.

  4. Thank you Jean-François for this great piece of analysis, for focusing your energy on changing the world. Thank you for being an inspiring person.

  5. jf says:

    You are so welcome Carole. Thank you for your feedback, this is always precious to me.

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