Friday, June 10, 2011

Austrian Slutwalkers: A tale of two Autists.

Most of the manospehere has rightly condemned the slutwalk phenomenon for the idiocy that it is.  In the end what the sluts are protesting against is human nature. Men will always be attracted to provocatively dressed women because they signal sexual availability. And a woman who signals sexual availability through her dress, is more likely to be a target for unwanted sexual attention than a woman that is demurely dressed. This is not my opinion this is fact. Protesting about this fact of human nature shows a degree of either entrenched idiocy or social autism or both.

What the slutwalkers are complaining about is having to take account of the problem of evil in their day to day affairs. Evil,  in this instance, being the propensity to be raped. The core contention of their theory is that with enough "education", punishment and shaming men can be stopped from raping. This, of course, is a rejection of the doctrine of original sin. No amount of legal stricture will ever stop evil.

Normal people recognise the existence of evil in their day to day affairs and accommodate for it. Girls don't dress provocatively around drunken men, they don't take rides with strangers, they don't walk through dark parks at night and so on. Yes, in an ideal world there should be no threat to their safety, but the world is not ideal and trying to ignore the existence of evil in the human condition is simply reality avoidance.

A lot of the Austrian Economic school are a bit like the slutwalkers.  I personally believe that they provide the best explanation with regard to economic phenomena with one exception, they are socially autistic. Sluts complain about getting raped when dressed provocatively, and Austrians complain about people getting upset at loosing their jobs as a consequence of economic efficiency. Both completely ignore the reality of human nature.

Take for example envy. The Austrian school says that it is bad, and I agree, that just like rape it is bad. But envy, like rape, is a real world phenomenon and any decent economic theory has to take it into account. Unfettered capitalism may make the world a richer place but the forces of envy that it unleashes may destroy the world and any sane economic theory must take into account envy, not simply protest about it. What may limit successful long term capitalism may not necessarily be resource access but envy which restricts capital allocation.

A smarter economic theory would acknowledge envy and try to mitigate (not eliminate since it is impossible) it's effect by economic means. No one ever asks the question, is it possible to maintain social stability with maximum economic efficiency? It's always assumed it is possible, yet is it?

The greatest threat to capitalism is socialism. An ideology which was born during the greatest period of laissez faire capitalism in history. The parents of Socialism were Darwinian capitalism intersecting with human nature.

Personally I don't think it is possible; optimising for one parameter, say economic efficiency, comes at the expense of social stability, which is ultimately the foundation of the economy. I think that there is a sweet spot  along the economic efficiency "curve" which mitigates envy enough to stop it being a threat.

The Austrians have a good explanation for economic events. The problem with their theory, though, is that there is a huge blind spot in acknowledging the evil in human nature and making allowances for it. Just like the slutwalkers.


The_King said...

The problem with accounting for human behavior in economics, is the unpredictable nature and variability from biological and cultural factors.

Economic theory should focus more on context and incorporate localized business customs and cultural norms to target specific audiences rather than generalizing for the whole world.

Anonymous said...

I agree completely. Most of these libertarians are atypical of human beings in their stubborn rationalism; they don't see how other people primarily argue from emotions/ feelings. I noticed when I started to meet a few guys who spend a lot of time in libertarian circles.

If someone loses their lover suddenly, a libertarian will say: "you know, it's rough now, but there's a 95% chance you'll be over the worst shock in 6 months or so." They don't see how such a person would feel a need for reassurance, understanding and friendship at that time. To libertarians -- being 100% rationally oriented like most ideologues -- feelings are just externalities to events, not the central stuff that makes life matter, worthwile and valuable. Tiring people, I'd prefer bleeding-heart SWPLS.

The Social Pathologist said...

@The King

The problem with accounting for human behavior in economics

I don't think that's the problem. Some people can account for human behaviour quite easily, a lot of people can't.

What's becoming apparent in my reading and experience is that the ability to think "systematically" is limited to a small number of people. Not everyone can do it. This ability to think systematically seems biologically limited to a degree. (Although I'm prepared to be proved wrong on this one).

Intellectual specialisation seems to foster this pathology, ecouragning people to take ever "smaller picture views" of things, whilst credentialism gives them the appearance of global competency.

Economic theory should focus more on context and incorporate localized business customs and cultural norms to target specific audiences rather than generalizing for the whole world.

I agree, since localism doesn't place too many taxing demands on the average intellect. The bigger the system, the more variables that have to be taken into account. Keeping things small scale keeps people within their circle of competency.


To libertarians -- being 100% rationally oriented like most ideologues -- feelings are just externalities to events

I don't think it's just feelings. Any "variable" that doesn't fit into their cognitive schema is dismissed. Their one "idea" is more important than reality.

Gyan said...

It is not obvious that the Austrian system would produce the fastest economic growth.

A major driver to the late 20C growth, computer and electronics, came from the research carried out for War purposes in WW II and this research would presumably not exist in an Austrian model.

There is a good case that left to themselves, as Austrians recommend, the people might just revert to small farming and shopkeeping model.