Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Jane Jacobs / Systems of Survival
A Dialogue on the Moral Foundations of
Commerce and Politics
chapters four, five

“…science needs the same values and precepts as commerce. Honesty is the bedrock of science. Moral rules for research are: don’t lie, don’t deceive or cheat under any circumstances; if you’re making reasoned guesses, say so and lay out your reasons.
“Voluntary agreement is the agreement that counts among scientists. Forced agreement to findings or conclusions is worse than useless. Science thrives on dissent for the sake of the task. Any theory is thus only provisionally true in science. It’s understood that theories can’t be proved; they can only be disproved. An accepted theory is merely one not yet proved false—and the possibility always exists that it may be."
The group is unable to disprove Kate's hypothesis of two moral syndromes, the commercial and the guardian, examining the kibbutz in Israel, the Scandinavian welfare states, communist Eastern Europe.  And they prepare in Chapter 5 to take a closer look next at the Guardian System.
Of particular interest to me is Chapter 5's examination of historical cultural expressions of an aversion to commerce. 
In the days of chivalry, a man was unfit for knighthood if he had a parent, grandparent or great-grandparent on either side who had been a merchant or a craftsman, 'in trade', as they said. Shameful, base. contaminating. But why? The doings of craftsmen and merchants are so innocent compared with making wars, pillaging, extorting, persecuting, executing, censoring, holding prisoners for ransom and monopolizing land at the expense of serfs, peons or slavesall honorable activities for people who would sooner have died than sink into trade
Consistent throughout the research that lead to the identification of the two Systems of Survival, as the syndromes are also called in Chapter Four, is the recurrence of the value in the guardian syndrome 'shun trading.' Contemporary examples include class attitudes that, for instance, ascribe a moral superiority to a non-profit enterprise, and class attitudes of distinguishing "inferior new money from superior old money cleansed of commercial taint by the passage of generations and time."

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