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Date: 2024-05-19 Page is: DBtxt001.php txt00000175

The Failure of Metrics and Maths
Sorting out failed MBA modelling

Some dialog from Chris McRae, Alan Rayner and Peter Chellen

For me, this is is a very thought provoking conversation because it raises many key issues in a broader context than are normal in the development of socio-economic metrics. One conclusion with socio-economic metrics is that profit, stock market prices and GDP growth are insufficient and have made the economic system dysfunctional. This conversation suggests that problematic maths is even more widespread!

Message from
Subject: Eleven Key Structural Problems from Chapter 8.doc (
Date: Sunday, 31 July, 2011, 15:36

Attached: Eleven Key Structural Problems from Chapter 8.doc

Dear Chris,

I think this extract spells out strongly the fundamental structural faults we have to tackle -soooon !

Perhaps this should be converted intoa short and pithy article.


Eleven Key Structural Problems from Chapter 8, A Users Guide to the Crisis of Civilisation,
Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, Pluto Press, 2010.

1. Key Structural Problem: The dispossession of labour - the separation of the majority of the population from access to the means of subsistence; the ownership of the means of production - productive resources and the technologies to extract and exploit them - by an elite minority.

2. Key Structural Problem: The globalization of capitalist social relations ­the total domination of the world's productive resources by a minority, and the corresponding worldwide dispossession of labour.

3. Key Structural Problem: Cyclical generation of socio-economic crises of over-accumulation and underproduction (‘boom and bust'); which exacerbates inequalities between historically advantaged core capitalist states and labour peripheral states relegated to being suppliers of cheap raw materials and labour, and markets for core agricultural (and other) exports.

4. Key Structural Problem: The capitalist social relation's pressure to exploit ever larger quantities of the world's natural resources for production for profit, on an ever expanding geographical scale that will soon be beyond the natural world's ability to self-replenish.

5. Key Structural Problem: The systemic over-dependence on hydrocarbon resources for industrial production, sustained by an international division of labour designed not to meet the needs of local populations, but purely to maximize profits for primarily Northern banks, corporations and governments.

6. Key Structural Problem: The world monetary system is based on fractional reserve banking - that is, the creation of fiat money as credit at interest which serves to subjugate the population to an enlarging and un-repayable debt that is the basis of self-reproducing profits for banks; and which compounds the imperative for unlimited growth through unconstrained exploitation of natural resources.

7. Key Structural Problem: Computational finance effectively transformed the banking system's ability to create fiat debt-money through the development of fraudulent quantitative models concealing ballooning levels of risk, making possible the creation of exorbitant profits virtually ex nihilo - but the costs were socialized and backlogged until the banking system collapsed under the weight of its own un-sustainability.

8. Key Structural Problem: Nation-states and national identity, as the primary loci of 'legitimate' political representation, are increasingly detrimental both in terms of their negative impact on democracy, and the categories by which human social groups ascribe identities to themselves. While current forms of representative democracy are increasingly susceptible to erosion and manipulation by nondemocratic military-financial forces, ethnic and national markers of difference can increasingly be exploited to polarize communities and legitimize political violence against the 'Other'.

9. Key Structural Problem: Global governance institutions are mobilized primarily as mechanisms for the US to regulate the international system in its own interests, rather than the interests of the majority of the system's members. Calls to reform these institutions (such as to make the UN more democratic, or to make the World Bank more transparent) have therefore consistently failed.

10. Key Structural Problem: The implicit philosophical and ontological assumptions underlying neoliberal capitalism posit an extreme form of materialism, reducing the world to a collection of physical, disconnected, atomistic, self-interested and thus inherently conflictual units. These assumptions are clearly mistaken, as they implicitly shape a global political economy that is simultaneously destroying itself and the natural world.

11. Key Structural Problem: Neoliberal capitalism is premised on a materialist value system which penetrates the entirety of human life, commodifying everything from human life to the natural world in the service of maximizing a 'good' defined largely in terms of material consumption. Yet this ethical system is responsible not only for the escalation of multiple global crises, but simultaneously for high levels of psychological illness and distress among neoliberal capitalist nations. It is therefore a value system divorced from reality, incommensurate with human nature and the natural world.

one simple leadership system failure: pro-youth versus anti-youth Re: Eleven Key Structural Problems from Chapter 8.doc christopher macrae
Mon, Aug 1, 2011 at 9:45 AM
Cc:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, '' , '' ,, Mark Chaplin ,,


these 11 may be right but I search for a simpler overall slogan and I believe what is common between all these problems is their short-termism robs youth to line the pockets of ever fewer elders (orwells big brother end game of superpower beating super-empowerment - given only one of the 2 will spin tech's interconnected global villages)

in other words all these people who rule and boundarise the world with top-down economics and media and polarised politics are in one meta-network computing a way ahead that disinvests in every community's capacity to support youth's productive future

if you look at my dads 40 years of daries at The Economist you will see how he tracked with ever incraesing horror but optimistic tone this takeover of a discipline (celebrated for first 145 years of The Economist) which was orignated by french and scots to invest in our childrens children more productive lives

is pro-youth versus anti-youth an agreable headline to the people you network with or not?

-in terms of communicating the 2 approached that my famjily's friends have found netwirk over 30 years is one slogan or catalogue solutions that match elders life legacies with youths heroic gaols- that's why the second leg of what macrae foundation partners want to focus on is forming a league table of 50 exciting projects- ones that if you find solutions to help nyouth in one nation can network across to other youth's nations

we circulated over 400 books around rebeccas world entrepreneur net at start of 2008 which showed how yunus plays the game whenever he assembles exciting projects; nick and sabine took 1000 people meetingts; my dad invited 40 of you to lunch and yet london still doesnt seem to have come up with one exciting project the world youth could use

or if you think it has please tell me or EU where its bookmark is

incidentally I believe brazil is coming up with several top 50 solutions uniting youth; if still has activist networks into tehre who could I chat to first

chris macrae 1 301 881 1655

----- Original Message -----
From: Alan Rayner (Plus)
To: christopher macrae ;
Cc: ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; Mark Chaplin ; ;
Sent: Monday, August 01, 2011 3:03 PM
Subject: Re: one simple leadership system failure: pro-youth versus anti-youth Re: Eleven Key Structural Problems from Chapter 8.doc (

Dear Chris,

As it happens, I recently circulated the following message concerning 'Mathematical Nonsense' to my discussion group:

I have just 'double-tweeted' '@InclusionAL', partly in response to Marcus du Sautoy's outrageous statement in his trailer for 'The Code' (along the lines of 'mathematical abstraction is how we make sense of the universe').

'For all its apparent utility, mathematical abstraction makes nonsense of Nature and a mess of life....

...We need to understand, work with and mentally represent REAL space and boundaries, not deceptive constructs founded on unrealistic premises'

I feel these points are especially relevant for all kinds of practitioners, because practitioners have to work with reality, and so unrealistic models of reality may seriously impede and impair their creative potential.

My enquiries into what I have come to call (only for the sake of having a 'label' for it) 'natural inclusionality' began with a feeling of discomfort about how biological reality was being represented mathematically and conceptually.

There was something about the ABSTRACT QUALITY of these quantitative representations that didn't relate well with my actual practical experience and that, moreover, had very nasty implications if followed through to their objective conclusion (as per the holocaust and recent happenings in Norway ).

To work out what was wrong about/missing from these abstract representations, I had to go all the way back in my own mind to first principles, without, for the time being, being concerned about what other people might or might not have said. This led me to think about the way abstract logic represents space and boundaries, and to recognise that this is not consistent with my actual experience of life and love.

So, I asked myself (and others with whom I engaged in conversation) - what representations of space and boundaries ARE consistent with and do make sense of my actual experience. First, I thought about boundaries - and recognised (in my book, 'Degrees of Freedom - living in dynamic boundaries) that boundaries are always to variable degrees dynamic, permeable and connective and that they SIMULTANEOUSLY face both inwardly and outwardly. This led me to think about space as the limitless, frictionless 'medium' in which boundaries are 'suspended' like 'solute in solvent'.

Then the penny dropped. Oh My God! Abstract rationality has really screwed up our understanding of reality and is making a horrible mess of our lives and habitat. To make amends, we have to bring the infinite depth of space as an intangible presence back into our understanding of dynamical form as an energetic configuration OF space, not an abstraction FROM space.

All this came from first principles and real personal experience. It didn't come from academic scholarship. As far as Academia is concerned, I still feel like a babe in the woods. Slowly I have been trying to unravel the many layers of academic complication that have obscured what at heart seems like such a basic and simple truth. Real space is a receptive (non-resistive) presence everywhere, and real boundaries are zones both of dynamic distinction and mutual inclusion. Form is energetic. Space cannot be cut.

Real-world practitioners need in their praxis (theory and practice) to understand, work with and mentally represent (re-imagine) real space and boundaries, not deceptive constructs. At heart, it's very simple. The difficulty comes in dealing with the mess made by impositional abstraction in every kind of human endeavour. Dealing with that mess is where the need arises for many talents to come together.

In the words of Michael Polyani:
For once men have been made to realize the crippling mutilations imposed by an objectivist framework – once the veil of ambiguities covering up these mutilations has been definitely dissolved – many fresh minds will turn to the task of reinterpreting the world as it is, and as it then once more will be seen to be.'



christopher macrae
Mon, Aug 1, 2011 at 1:40 PM
To: 'Alan Rayner (Plus)' ,
Cc:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, Mark Chaplin ,,, zasheem zasheem

this is a grand sentence

'For once men have been made to realize the crippling mutilations imposed by an objectivist framework – once the veil of ambiguities covering up these mutilations has been definitely dissolved – many fresh minds will turn to the task of reinterpreting the world as it is, and as it then once more will be seen to be.'

but then to show how non-mathematical academia has become, I thought einstein's main finding was objectivism is always a top-down approximation, and the only way to progress (when you find you are running out of spac ) is to map more micro

so if 60 years of the top-down monopolies of professionalism and academia havent even bothered to change itself from the simplest maths advance in the 20th c (and in the last 20 years with the internet as the simplest tool that ever could have emdiated chane) I dont expect the vast majority of academia will help build a sustainable world in time

which is why one of the top 50 most exciting projects in the world I want to see (say) 10 unversities come together to develop the un-mba and devalue all the others that still preach MBA

I suspect that 2 of these 10 universties will be MIT and national uni of singapore - anyone got other nominations and if so at what level should I be trying to issue invitation to the 10 unis who sustain theworld


--- On Mon, 1/8/11, Alan Rayner (Plus) wrote:

From: Alan Rayner (Plus) Subject: Re: one simple leadership system failure: pro-youth versus anti-youth Re: Eleven Key Structural Problems from Chapter 8.doc ( To: 'Alan Rayner (Plus)' , 'christopher macrae' , Cc:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, 'Mark Chaplin' ,, Date: Monday, 1 August, 2011, 15:07 

PS You might also like the attached piece, published at

The text being discussed is available at
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