The dizziness of prediction

on Oct 1, 2019 in Hand Baggage | No Comments

From astrology to the liberal economy.

Predicting or guessing future events has always been the gift of those occupying positions of power or authority, who believe themselves the subject of divine influence. Soon-to-become classic tricks were used to make it impossible to verify if the prophesised facts had occurred – from cloudy and multiple meanings of oracles’ responses to the timeframe of predictions, normally far beyond the lifespan of those present.

However, human beings’ skill is enormous, particularly if applied to the arts and techniques inherent to the sphere of communication. Some have a gift for calming and comforting the anguish and uncertainty of others with the right word. The ability lies in knowing how to detect a “ripe” case of disquiet and desperation, where the critical spirit is timid, and in knowing how to play the “intermediary” of the beyond.

Astrology had a massive influence on the late-Medieval era, enjoying considerable importance to and influence upon the powerful and privileged in the situations that caused the greatest anxiety and uncertainty, which mainly consisted of wealth control through family structures and dynastic succession. That said, astrologists were technically well-equipped: at the time, astrology was extremely mathematical and based on many centuries of empirical observations regarding the state of the skies. Only, the world didn’t work that way… the Earth moves!

The theory and practice of neoliberal economists involves well- -established knowledge and skills, as highlighted by the authors of the book, Does Capitalism Have a Future? (Immanuel Wallerstein and others, Oxford University Press, 2013). It is extremely mathematical and based on the detailed history of western countries’ economic and political life over the last 200 years. However, just like the past, this type of capitalist life causes great anguish in relation to very risky investment decisions, the volatility of money markets, and the separation between the real economy and finance. There needs to be someone to soothe major investors’ souls and discover great new (and old) business opportunities

This is the preserve of governments’ economic and financial consultants, large groups and international organisations. Neoliberal economic theory surrounds its conjectures with more equations, uses more powerful algorithms and databases, making its language incomprehensible, even to its advocates, as if it were an impenetrable mystery. However, they come at a price, these new intermediaries of the beyond, this El Dorado, where high finance reigns and yokes world’s communities. Only, the world does not work that way… culture is the only driver of hope for the future. By separating culture from economics, relegating it to something considered useless, they began digging their own grave. Life is not an equation, nor a programme, much less a simulation.


by João Caraça


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