Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Elaine: What We Need Is Communism That Scales

Elaine Ou had been away for a while but now has three blog posts in the month of February. Here's one of them.
From Elaine's Idle Mind - and Devil's Workshop:

Scalable Communism 
Monday, February 4th 8:55pm
Why do people knock communism? It’s not a bad idea! From each his ability, to each his needs. It works great among my family and friends. We don’t keep tabs on who bought the last round of drinks, nor do we charge each other for rides to the airport. It. Just. Works.

Funny how it always seems to end in disaster when employed at a national level. I think it’s fair to say that communism is a perfectly reasonable economic system; it just hasn’t gotten over some scaling challenges.

Communism, but on the blockchain.

Kidding. Intra-family/friends transactions aren’t really communist — they’re governed by an informal accounting system with reputation as currency.

This was common in elite circles throughout antiquity. The economy of the Roman Republic revolved around amicitia, or mutual serviceability. It’s how the wealthy maintained business interests all over the Mediterranean despite living in a state of quasi-perpetual war. Existimatio, or reputation, dictated whether a person was worthy of receiving beneficia. Reputation was earned by engaging in liberalitas, or generosity, gratia, or gratitude, fides, or trust, and benevolentia, or benevolence.
Anthropologists sometimes refer to this as a moral economy; a system governed by customs and social pressure in the absence of formal regulation.

The number of participants in a reputation-based moral economy tops out at our ability to maintain persistent social relationships, also known as Dunbar’s number.

Or does it?...