James Gleick Chaos
To explain the macroeconomic processes of "21st century global village" they make use of better and better scientific models. One of such models are the model suggested by the mathematicians and physicists who are know as chaos theoreticians. The central category of their description is "the attractor" - a term defining a focal length of all forces operating within a system. Let us scrutinize then how global economic processes proceed from the standpoint of chaos theoreticians viewed through the attractors prism.
Let us begin with defining the meaning of attractor in the economy. In the economist's eye it is every big cluster or intensification of economic processes currently registered most often only within memory of huge computer networks working for banks and financial stock ex-changes. The attractor is a mechanism of positive feedback connected with capital circulation; it is experimentally confirmed rule of intensification of economic processes in such places where they are already intensive. Economic attractors emerge from graphic presentation of data in a form of diagrams and tables illustrating statistical results of billions financial opera-tions carried each day.
Contemporary forms of attractors begin to take shape after 15th of August 1971 when Presi-dent Nixon lifted the duty to cover production of dollars with gold reserves. The consequence of extensive budget capabilities available due to this fact was a great increase in research and intellectual potential of the Americans.
The investors assumed that intellectual potential will bring in time bigger and bigger divi-dend. The condition for profits was to spread a belief of the legitimacy arising from privileges connected with thoughts trade throughout the world. Such an idea has taken a form of pres-ently effective copyright legal system according to which specialized intellectual creation, possible thanks to access of reasearchers to very expensive research centers, became protected in a very special way and remunerated. We shall return to this issue again.
Investments into research and intellect proved to be so profitable since great portion of world investment potential was directed to construct mental-legal infrastructure of the global mar-ket, supporting preferred schemes of circulation of world money. It is in describing and re-searching complicated structures, or rather visible effects of their existence the scientists make use of the attractor concept, which for the mathematician means curious feature of space and for the economist - a place where great money supply takes place.
According to chaos theory economists opting for "balanced development" the world eco-nomic system has entered the phase of "dinosauring", the phase of uncontrolled growth. This process is connected with moving from the economics of local markets (villages, districts, countries, blocks) to the global economics where the whole world is the market. Economic research on chaos models prove that on global market unfavorable trends of capital accumu-lation not only are maintained but increased as well. This process cannot be slowed despite many attempts undertaken in this regard at the level of world economic organizations. The problem is serious and it concerns all people worldwide.
In human psyche such rapid transformations of world economy come out in a form of fears. It is understandable reaction for the previously unknown situations. It should be pursued to de-crease these fears since they are a nourishment for the phenomena of social pathology and they block healthy activity. It is to this end - to decrease such fears - there are agendas, or-ganizations and particularly publications established worldwide propagating alternative eco-nomic visions and explaining to people macroeconomic mechanisms using models of tradi-tional versus "balanced" economies. The second ones include also ideas of ethics and ecology into the traditional concept of profit.
In Poland there is no alternative economic strategy to base the hope of slow down - unfavor-able in the opinion of many economists since too high - pace of economic growth in a per-spective of nearest ten, twenty or fifty years on propagated. There are also only few in Poland who use widely applied worldwide term "balanced growth". In the world such "balanced growth" means in many industries reduction and drop or even complete change in forms and ways of operating. People have to be prepared to it previously with well-thought-out educa-tion. So fare there are no big education campaigns in Poland, necessary in the process of global transformations.
On the other hand in economic visions widespread in media and schools a miraculous cure for all inconveniences is propagated. It is the fastest possible economic growth. The background for these visions is a mute assumption that rich countries, that achieve and propagate such growth possess a patent for worldwide happiness. It is not like that. Intellectualists, sociolo-gists and spiritual leaders point attention to the results of the priority of money in the scale of human values and the results of scientific research prove that wealth of a country is poorly correlated with the feeling of happiness of its citizens. The feeling of happiness does not grow either along with improvement of individual wealth.
The Polish, having so many problems to overcome during their system transformation have not succeeded yet to construct target - not only conforming - model explaining to the situa-tion they are in. Since our problems with adaptation to new conditions are connected not only with system transformation but also with a rapid change in external conditions we try to get adopted to. These are the conditions of global market, something which is completely new in economic history of the world. Revolutionary and requiring great adaptation efforts are also changes in the way of communication among people as a result of advancements in technolo-gies.
All of these transformation are too fast for Poles to look around longer in the world. We are overwhelmed in our consciousness by newly connected to us - through Polish currency ex-changability - billions of businesses, trillions of trade operations, hundreds of languages, cur-rencies and habits, tons of regulations - since this is how it translates into the language of practice. Single cent multiplied by a billion gives quite a nice sum. It is a new quality. For the Poles, who lost the habit of open priority of values based on money the mechanism of this transformation is lost in the darkness of guesswork and unverifiable hypotheses.
Our door to the global market started to open in the moment when the first acts introducing convertibility of Złoty became effective. It was only ten years ago, what is worth to remem-ber, since in the scale of social education it is too short a time for us as a country to be able to absorb all subtle mechanisms of world market game and learn to move smoothly in the stream of world economy running with bigger and bigger impetus.
We have not possessed such ability since popular political visions end with our prompt march to EU and world adjustment programs. Our cleverness is determined with existence of a wider perspective program, i.e. a program growing out from our locality and our uniqueness.
The result of the Poles lacking cleverness in molding the flow of the stream of world money is already 70 percent share of foreign capital in Polish banks, almost 100 percent share in hyper-market chains and many similar "facts" from the macro-scale level. All of it proves that we have not recognized the threats connected with participation in world market and we have not yet elaborated proper methods to protect our own interests. Since economic position of Poland towards new partners, who with increasing (as it is global) effectiveness implement the prin-ciple of maximizing profit and their own security is drawn very vaguely and unclearly in gen-eral consciousness of the Poles.
Particularly in the issue of the place of Poland within world economic structures we sense serious confusion. As the nation we have been brave enough to get open for the global mar-ket. It was a great effort that was a success in a tactical sense. Pride from a game won should be, however, rationally calculated to allow us noticing the perspective of the whole match, the perspective of BEING within the global system - that is so important on making - while NOT BEING YET THEREIN - any political decisions of long term international liabilities charac-ter.
It the theory of chaos that comes with assistance in elaborating such a perspective for com-pletely new phenomena of global economy. This science deals solely in macro-scale systems thus a global system of economic relations emerging before its very eyes became - in a natu-ral way - another experimental field for it. The objective of research of chaos theoreticians is to discover order hidden within structures. Their tools are fast computers that process vast amount of real data, collected with application of strict methods of scientific measurement. In case of economic research these data are on actual money flow in global market. They come from verifiable sources. They are bank publications confirmed by auditors, stock exchange yearbooks and statistic yearbooks - only the facts that are difficult to be doubted in.
Even the very first results of introduction of these data into the computers and presenting them in a synthetic graphic form proved to be very promising. Apparently random chains of results showed in the diagrams started to establish regular forms. More advance presentations revealed existence previously mentioned attractors, being the special places of analyzed sys-tem - poles of energy circulating within it.
It results from the analyzes of the chaos theory economists that the global economic system is molded legally and mentally (consciousness, habits) in such a way that all surpluses of money worked by people flow INEVITABLY to the attractors. In the calculations, as the basis for costs, the amount of money satisfying life standards in a given societies are accepted, includ-ing savings. The economists warn that these surpluses are greater and greater each year, since the attractor takes his share from every work provided by people as long as it is paid for with convertible currency. (There are more and more people in the world and they use more and more advanced machines - hence surplus rising.)
The conditions for the attractors to develop is continuous inflow of greater and greater money. So more and more big streams of money flow to such places and these streams should not weaken since every decrease in the flow means the vision of unemployment and growing fear of big groups in society worldwide. World economic law we, as Poland, are scrupulously and with difficulties try to adopt to has been molded during history of capitalism in such a way that the stream of money flowing to the attractor cannot be stopped while applying instru-ments of this law. The world class economists have been talking about it for several years. It is well know that close to the attractors the economy is "overheated" what means that money flow is too fast there as for the adaptive capabilities of a man what brings physical and emo-tional damages while far away from the attractors the poverty reigns, wars and conflicts ex-plode.
It results from many measurements that present, very high pace of civilization changes is damaging to all inhabitants of Earth, both these rich and poor ones and to the planet itself and its biological life. But despite many effort undertaken this process cannot be slowed. The ex-pression of no control over it are destruction of numerous fragments of the environment of our planet impossible to reconstruct, increase of number of crimes and civilization diseases, cur-rent wars or rising nationalisms and xenophobia.
The money current running with higher and higher speed is a threat to the whole globe since to meet requirements of the global market feeding the attractors people have to produce more and more of useless things. And more and more often they have to throw these things away.
Such is the strategy of actually impersonal attractor and although its force is represented by real people, owners of enterprises, making particular decisions, the real subject here is a col-lective consciousness of the citizens of the whole world, expressing in legal systems of all countries connected into the global village. In today construction of world economics the most important objective of all efforts is to FEED THE ATTRACTOR.
A conclusion is even a fact that it is not individual people but world legal and economic sys-tem that becomes a subject of the economic game before our very eyes. It is dangerous both for the rich, who cannot control the growth of money stream that floods them and for the poor, including Poland, from where more and more money will be flowing away to the at-tractors each year.
In rich countries having for their disposal most modern technologies people not only do not work less than before but they also have to spend much of their time for learning after work to meet the requirements imposed by currently effective work ethos and particularly by continu-ously increasing level of work organization. Work, qualification improvement and necessary rest fill almost whole life of average Japanese or American. So, where is the place in such model to consume with advantage material and cultural products produced in excess? A harsh irony of this question is reflected by development of entertainment branch, particularly televi-sion, which offers hundreds of interesting programs to the global village. The effect of clash between busy man and such a abundant offer is zapping, nervous switching from one program to another. In such a way the viewer consumes everything and nothing - none of authors’ transmissions is received completely.
In such conditions natural doubts arise in the citizens of rich countries regarding sense of in-tensive work. Since the machines are so effective and we are so fantastically organized and rich why do we work so much? - people leaving there wonder more and more often. It results from comparisons that five hundred years ago, when technology was scarce, simple villeins used to work much less than contemporary Japanese or German. Who is this today’s rush and overproduction for? Does it mean that hopes of many generations put in technologies , hopes for freedom, equality and brotherhood were ruined and we are left with mad, civilization rush to unstoppable progress?
What is interesting and apparently paradox like - it results from scientific models analysis that most of elaborated energy is given to the attractors by those who live close to them, in the richest countries of the world. Their work in well organized enterprises is effective. These people earn much but their produce much more. The difference flows to the attractors. It is difficult to see it with a critic eye if one is inside the system since "feeding" attractors is per-formed by most accepted social behaviors in rich countries: scrupulous work and high con-sumption.
Someone, who earns well seldom considers the issue of equivalency in payment for work de-livered. Only a few consider, either, how much the goods he purchases are worth. However, people notice somehow that their prices do not ever drop despite mad progress in technolo-gies. It is explained with quality improvement and inflation. Whereas also here hard figures give much to think about. World economists estimate that transportation of goods for long distances and connected with it necessities to conserve, pack them and multiply levels of dis-tributions (as they are to be transported for such great distances) takes very often over half of their values.
From the point of view of healthy, human logic, transportation of, let us say, apples from Holland to Poland is a nonsense. However, this issue looks completely different from the point of view of the attractors. It is a perspective of maximizing work effort, so if only people can be encouraged to buy Dutch apples, a company transporting the apples will have their job, together with gas filling stations, duty clearance officers and many other business entities. And finally for the money earned someone will buy something this or another way.
Let us notice, that the attractor gets richer from it but people and environment get poorer. People loose their money on work that has no social sense while the environment degrades due to robbing world economy with energy resources.
A special commodity, occupying more and more space in world commercial exchange, a commodity that does not spoil, weights nothing and is easy and cheap to transport with today technology is information. It is a perfect commodity from the point of view of the attractor. The instrument to sell it - is a copyright and patent right, which is treated by all creators as a most important devotional article. Who among from a few Polish creators making his or her living from copyright used abroad concerns how the balance of copyright in the scale of the country or world looks like? Meanwhile, copyright at the time of globalization is one of the most powerful tools of the attractor since a thought becomes a commodity in continuously increasing extent. Let us take the software market. It is almost pure information.
No one speaks openly about the issue that the trade of copyright is of a great disadvantage for Polish commercial balance. On the other hand it is widely discussed on the issue of extending the periods of copyright protection and on expanding the scope of their applications. The paradox is in this that every legal act getting us closer to the world standards in this field is of great disadvantage in economic sense. Additionally, future views are even worse since most of laboratories and research centers are located close to the attractors. To get access to knowl-edge that is born therein, since it is there where most of money on research circulate we will have to spend more and more of our gross product on trademarks, copyrights, patents, regis-tered marks and on licenses. In this area the deficit of commercial balance will be bigger and bigger each year.
Beside the above mentioned ones there are also - hidden before balancing view of the macro-economist - money transfers to cover copyrights, hidden within patented parts of imported machines, in patented chemical substances that are constituents of washing powders, medi-cines, food or cosmetics, in modern production formulas, enabling tender winning - virtually in everything that we may even think of. Even in Polish cow milk since the bucket and hands are also washed with some specific containing patented chemical formulas. Some portion from sale of soap goes then to the pocket of a chemist, who has invented it.
Most of this money leaves our country.
Polish copyright law is better and better in guarding our increasing negative commercial bal-ance. Under pressure of world leaders in software and audio recording production there have been lobbying organizations established that are equipped in inspection powers and that are protect money inflow from copyrights much more effectively than before. After great cam-paigns of public relations type that took place in Poland against computer software piracy, after amendments to copyright law and announcements to expand it to new areas we can safely assume that we are closing to world standard in this regard. But do our Members of Parliament possess full, depicted with figures consciousness that balanced stream of money leaving our country for this reason will be even greater in future?
Disorientated with rapid changes people feel that something goes wrong with overall ener-getic balance of a working man. This "something" emerges from a question asked more and more often - what sense, except for earning money, has our own work for us. Is civilization development based solely on a profit criterion? And if so there is another important issue emerging: who controls these sky-high profits flowing into the attractors, profits that are elaborated by the whole world, and what is the priority of these operations? Space flights? It is too little for everyday troubles with jobs and unemployment of billions of people. Starving people would surely prefer to leave space flights for future.
Similar questions bother heads of not only employees but also of owners of great properties that were established due to activity of attractors. They, however, despite their billion worth incomes, do not feel to be the subjects of the world wide economic game that brought them at the top of wealth. They depend on existing legal structure that is profit and safe conditions to multiply it oriented and it is difficult to image them leaving this structure even for a while. In this structure there is no mechanism allowing people to leave it since it is impossible to keep billions of dollars in a sock. They, dollars, despite the will of their owners, will continue to circulate in bank and stock exchange circulations and the only thing that may happen to them is - completely unimportant for the system functioning - change of their owner. The rich are only the puppets in this process that may be called "global consciousness of money". Their individual philosophies of life are completely unimportant to the course of world economic processes.
For the inhabitants of the global village existence of attractors means continuously growing outflow of elaborated resources. The outflow takes place through attractive (notice how it fits the idea of "attractor") commodities and services. To make this outflow steady and increasing, it is necessary to stimulate it with advertisements and more and more sophisticated marketing techniques that result in creating demand for only buying itself. In many environments visit-ing elegant shops or hyper-markets became similar to visiting places of some ultimate culture. Through media the "ritual" of buying became a principal element of our life.
Money outflow into the direction of attractors cannot be counteracted with any local actions, e.g. our action "Now Poland". The strength of attractiveness of foreign commodities is so big that it will soak in any additional profits of citizens who will get richer on this action - Polish manufacturers and salesmen selling Polish commodities will finally spend these profits on luxury goods of foreign origin - someone will buy a house from materials coming from abroad, someone else will buy better and finally not Polish car and yet someone else will spend the last Złoty of change on the box of imported chewing gum.
The attractors are continuously fed with every purchase-sale act in which convertible currency participates. I emphasize here "convertible" since it is the condition for global attractors to operate. And at the same time it is their Achilles heel. I shall return to it further in the second part of the article. It will be dedicated to "virtual money" that without violating economic treaties and returning back from the way to Europe may completely change economic situa-tion that we, Poland, found ourselves as a country.
[ Part II ]
[ Wersja polska ]