Thursday, December 9, 2010

Creativity: Individual vs Group

I have tried to show in the last post how the behaviour of a group of individuals can be very different from the behaviour of an individual.

The simple search for food becomes a problem when the group has grown so big that there is starvation at the margin, which then gives the core individuals greater fear of an impending resource scarcity that they begin to accumulate for future consumption which, in a monetised economy, becomes a folly as, instead of accumulation food sources, they accumulate tokens (otherwise called money). Of course, that folly is the result of the evolution of society - the matrix that smart people create for themselves by making use of the trusting ordinary public and in the end get caught in it themselves - where happiness has become from the consumption of food to the consumption of other unnecessaries. The growth of society then becomes dependent on the production of the unnecessaries whose depend is based not on real needs (if I don't it I will die, literally) but on bank credit and what the neighbours have. The layers of the delusion multiply. The limit to that expansion of unnecessaries is the limit of credit expansion, defined when loans default at a rate that the interest margin can cover which is very little especially in a period of near-zero interest rate. The matrix gets into a ponzi-type scheme when more new money is printed to fund old money at a rate which is in excess of the rate of expansion in activities related even to the production of the unnecessaries which may be at a rate of expansion which is unable to absorb new entrants into the labour force.

In a more equitable world, the objective is to create a society where every individual is remunerated at roughly the same rate of pay, and this is found to be a society made up of professionals - where everybody comes up with their own schedules of fees. That schedule is the rate of exchange of different services. For a more egalitarian society, there probably should be an abolition of the discrimination certain types of professions such as toilet cleaning or housekeeping or blog posting. In which case, if everybody is equally good and equally demanded, then with everybody getting the same income, it is unlikely that anybody will be able to afford to pay any other person to do a part of his or her chores without being severely handicapped financially - but then, in that world, there will be no need for that service provider to offer his or her services to his or her neigbour because he or she is not in financial want. In a truly egalitarian world where everybody gets the same income, earned or otherwise, there is no incentive to do anything for others, each will do his or her own chore, and each will eat his or her food in silence alone.

The great interaction in society, and why society evolves in the first place, is inequality - which in economics is called disequilibrium - which in physics is called the potential difference or polarity - where the attempt to achieve an impossible equilibrium (of silence and non-activity) results in incessant activity. In economics, that restless activity is called the Gross Domestic Product or GDP. In modern society, the objective of politicians is to try to increase the rate of incessant activity among the people in order to keep them occupied (for if they are idle, they will march down the streets for change which is always possible), and this is done by creating a greater disequilibrium. The tradition method of creating economic disturbances is to get the minds of individuals to come out of the tranquility of the meditation and god-aligned frame into one of great dissatisfaction so that the intensive activity of the mind leads one to come up with all sorts of weird ideas and this din is the mind is celebrated in modern society as the way to prosperity.

As in nature where the group exists to protect the individuals in the group, in human society the social fabrication through its customs and culture seek to protect the individuals by seeking their conformity. In successful societies, conformity to the social convention is paramount but that success may not be growth of happiness but the continued existence of the old group. In newer societies formed from the dishevel of modern times, usually because of war but sometimes because of famine, the coming together of peoples from different cultures sets a renaissance in the creativity of human existence where the multiple disequilibrium points allow for a great multitude of cross traffic of ideas of how to live and what to do in life, if that traffic is not stopped by bigots who police the thought process of the people. Inevitably, the first and second generations may be still want to cling to their old comfort but we can expect, if left to their own, the young will think anew their taught way of life, and forge new identities with their school friends and neighbours. With it, new levels of existence - which may be away from mechanisation and the modern sciences of despoiling the environment, but the sharing of new understanding of their heritages.


semuanya OK kot said...

Many things besides food are necessities. E.g. shelter, mental stimulation, rest. All this predates the invention of money. People group together for the advantages of specialisation. As the group expands, the spread of the workload varies more and more, and parasites take root.

Interest rate is somewhat unimportant in loan defaults. People borrow while knowing they cannot repay, for short-term glory, to con or impress, because they are full of "positive thinking", or because of fraudulent representation of the prospects. They enter the lake not knowing that they are at the bottom of the food chain.

walla said...

Yoshiaki Tsutsumi once posed a question. He asked whether he should develop his unfinished reel of film. If yes, he wastes film not used. If no, he has to finish using the film which however will incur the cost of developing the remaining photos which he would be forced to take.

It's about the balance between economics and aesthetics.

From the economics perspective, life brings dilemmas. Choices have to be made because man wants to optimize everything and that because resources get scarcer with a growing population.

Therefore it is not good enough to be able to achieve an objective by any means. Man wants to achieve it in the most economical manner in order to husband his tokens for other pursuits. But unless he controls the market like how Carlos Slim is doing with the mexican telecom sector, he cannot control the circumstances under which the optimization is to be executed because everyone else is having the same objective and will compete with one another for the same turf.

And that is why, knowing that, man continues to pursue creative activities in order to beat the herd to the next pile of gold. When that drive to compete becomes a mass action, new products and services will be made which presumably deliver what is deemed progress even if the delivery is over a floormat of squashed disequilibria.

Secondly, man needs to specialize. If everyone is his own manufacturer of his own needed goods or farmer of his own needed subsistence, the factories and farms will all have to be very small which means economies of scale will be sacrificed. Furthermore, small factories or farms can't be used to make all the produce people will need in their respective lifetimes.

By the same argument, it is not possible to pay all equally because not everyone can be, say, a dentist. It is extremely painful not to say dangerous to try and pull out one's own molar. Of course in this day and age, some will rush to be dentists because then they can be politicians given special status for privileged tributes within two generations.

Next, the aesthetics perspective. Matters are somewhat paradoxical. For instance, it has been said that the greatest tragedy of not having what you want is to finally have it.

As example, an unremitting diet of rich food for a famished man will finally take away even the most discriminating palate for rich food.

The same law of diminishing returns which he had faced with a growing family comes back to deny him continued satisfaction when his food needs are finally solved.

Familiarity may not breed contempt but it invariably narcotizes the senses. For a perplexing but biologically explanable reason, some men will readily gravitate to such arguments, customs notwithstanding.

Could it all be because man is driven by the need to overcome boredom, the same boredom that drives his craving to make progress, the same progress that mimics nature's propensity towards diversification?

So that to counteract his innate need to overcome his boredom in life, he compensates by exercising compassion and earnest responsibility for others, starting with his family. However this will run counter to the original model of men as islands in a perfectly egalitarian world where all are equal but each cares only for himself.

Perhaps, thus, that’s the rub of the dilemma of the modern-day man. How to keep his boredom at bay without creating too many market disequilibria while making progress to enable his family and others to make progress.

Logically speaking, such a fusion of both economics and aesthetics may be better achieved in a reactor where there are more rather than fewer options, for more options will create more combinations to compete one with the other, evolutionarily leading to a more sustainable and harmonious society.

After all, creativity does not just mean products, services or human beings. It also embraces compassion, excitement and ideas for economic cooperation and aesthetic exchanges.