Wednesday, February 11, 2009

On Entitlement

I am looking for a publisher for my new book,

On Governance

In the first two chapters I re-theorize governance and the history of capitalism, particularly as it effects indigenous peoples.

Here is a brief excerpt from the introduction:

“The purpose of government is to stop us killing one another.”[1]

“In traditional New Guinea society, if a New Guinean happened to encounter another New Guinean while both were away from their respective villages, the two engaged in a long discussion of their relatives, in an attempt to establish some relationship and hence some reason why the two should not attempt to kill each other.”[2]

An obligation to kill each other was triggered by failure to find a common relative, and if one was found, the obligation became one of constraint. Governance has no monopoly on entitlement, even a handshake gives rise to some entitlements which are socially enforced, but this project deals with those entitlements which are imputed and enforced by formal institutions. Governance is entitlement, and entitlement is governance...

We, like others from earliest times, prefer to sleep safe in our beds. We are grateful if institutions work to protect our entitlements. Those institutions did not invent themselves. They emerged historically as a result of demand, especially the demand for social order. They emerged historically from the social production of entitlements, as I propose to explain shortly. One of my central arguments is that (a) all market value consists in entitlements, (b) entitlements are institutional products, therefore (c) all market value is produced by institutions, for example, states.

[1] David Mamet, Audience Q&A with David Mamet, following The Alistair Cooke Memorial Lecture
18 November, 2008, BBC Radio 4, Accessed: 11 February 2009.
[2] Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (New York, W. W. Norton &Company, 1997), pp. 271-2.

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