Re: [OPE] chaos and organization with reference to capitalism

From: Dave Zachariah <>
Date: Sun Oct 04 2009 - 13:49:26 EDT

> That's the big problem for the application of chaos theory to political
> economy, imo. Capitalism isn't chaotic. The 'anarchy of capitalist
> production' doesn't translate into chaos: one needs to grasp
> tendencies which produce stability and instability. Otherwise
> all you see are the potential vulnerabilities of capitalism but
> fail to grasp how it has been able to reproduce itself as a
> mode of production. Capitalism hasn't blown apart - we need to
> understand why.

I think this is a misunderstanding of the theoretical frameworks from
which Ian is borrowing his concepts. It is not chaos theory but rather
statistical mechanics and control theory. (Perhaps the title of F&M's
book 'Laws of Chaos' adds to this conflation.) Chaotic systems are
deterministic systems that are extremely sensitive to boundary
conditions, so that their evolution could differ dramatically due to
infinitesimally changes in the way they start out. This is quite unlike
the historical examples of capitalist economies.

In statistical mechanics, the system under consideration has a very
large number of 'degrees of freedom' but subject to some fundamental
macroconstraints from which certain patterns and regularities emerge.
This could be the large number of particles in a cylinder subject to an
energy constraint or the large number firms subject the constraint on
the amount labour available.

//Dave Z
ope mailing list
Received on Sun Oct 4 14:02:19 2009

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