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January 19, 2007

Howard Rheingold


Ninnys who conflate "Marxism" with "collective action."

I participated in an interview for Cnet in Second Life. One of the commenters parroted once again the numb-headed conflation of "collectivism" and "collective action." What's with these people who make grand pronouncements about political economy, using the same loaded pejoratives about "Marxism" or "Maoism?" -- but fail to do elementary homework? I will explain it once again.

I hope this is simple enough:

Collectivism is COERCED, but collective action is VOLUNTARY.

Collectivism is CENTRALLY CONTROLLED, but control of collective action is DISTRIBUTED.

A market -- all markets have regulations and honor contracts, and are entered into voluntarily by buyers and sellers -- is a form of collective action. Can one of these geniuses please explain to me how a market is "Marxist?"

These critiques insist that it's all-important to note that the individual is sovereign and mobs are dumb, but again they are looking through the wrong end of the telescope. Again, simplistic logic: Tell Google what commies they are. The Pagerank algorithm is a mob measure -- an aggregate of the linking decisions of many people. It works because the decisions are made by individuals who are acting in their self interest, trying to come up with relevant links for their web pages, but it works only because it aggregates those decisions. It isn't individual versus group -- it's a group made of individuals.

Duh. [blogged by Howard Rehingold on Smart Mobs]

Posted by jo at January 19, 2007 06:45 PM