Entropy Economics

I once attended a lecture on entropy-based economics given by a troubled Slavic gentleman. I don’t remember any details of his theory, just how he cynically chastised the audience. But the idea has intrigued me ever since. Here are some rudimentary points for such an economics.

The first principle is that value corresponds with low-entropy. This might be taken as a mystical notion of the origin, such as the Garden of Eden or the big bang, but it can be explained rationally. Economic structures arise in response to environmental forces, and are most effective at the time of their emergence. A structure originates instinctively from certain conditions, and becomes less effective as the conditions change. Entropy is the passage of time from a structure’s emergence to its termination, and economic values correspond with proximity to the original emergence. This reinterprets the hype about “emerging economies” in a way that would satisfy Nietzsche, who revered the ecstasy of the origin.

Whatever has higher entropy (objects, people, properties…) is deader and therefore worth less. But such value judgments are not necessarily death sentences, because the evaluation of entropy levels is contested. The financial system has its internal values which compete with other value systems such as law, art, science etc.  Low entropy, as proximity to evental origins, is a value that can circulate between these various institutions.

Capital coerces populations into a cult of luxury. Luxury is concept of instinct satisfaction as the good-life of minimal anxiety or pleasure, and this is a flawed concept of minimal entropy. The financial system circulates images of satisfactions which inform populations about how their instincts can be satisfied. These are images of a superior life where instincts have supposedly been satisfied according to the norms of “the business and leisure community”. The financial system portrays instinct satisfaction as an ideal of low entropy, while implicitly treating it instead as the inverse of anxiety. The resistance to financialism can proceed by distinguishing low entropy from low anxiety.

The financial system controls populations through entropy embodied as anxiety. Images define normal levels of entropy. If entropy reaches some intolerable levels, then there are chemical solutions. Departure from norms is considered perilous, because it could imply the return of entropy. In classical Hobbesian form, financial power is based on fear of the outside.  The financial system magically relieves populations of their anxieties through industrial behavior, just as they were previously relieved through religious ceremonies. But, when Nietzsche spoke of “great health”, that implied a lowering of entropy below mere instinct satisfaction. Individuation corresponds with the Dionysian rupture of an emergent origin.

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