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Introduction 2: Personal/DeLanda

I would like to repeat my call for more realistic models of economic history, models involving the full complexity of the institutional ecologies involved, including markets, anti­markets, military and bureaucratic institutions, and if we are to believe Michel Foucault, schools, hospitals, prisons and many others. It is only through an honest philosophical confrontation with our complex past that we can expect to understand it and derive the lessons we may use when intervening in the present and speculating about the future.

-Manuel DeLanda, Economics, Computers and the War Machine, 1998

I believe that the main task for today's left is to create a new political economy (the resources are all there: Max Weber, T.B. Veblen and the old institutionalists, John Kenneth Galbraith, Fernand Braudel, some of the new institutionalists, like Douglass North; redefinitions of the market, like those of Herbert Simon etc) based as you acknowledged before, on a non-equilibrium view of the matter?

-Manuel DeLanda, CTheory Interview, 2003

I came to this project through DeLanda, while there are a multitude of ways to approach a nomad economics, my own personal one pretty much starts with his work, and in particular these quotes tucked away on the margins of his body of work. The second one in particular provided the energy to crystallize the project in my mind, to push my thoughts in this direction.

Several events proceed that though, in high school I had an economics class that in large part consisted of reading Heilbronner's classic The Worldly Philosophers. Being high school I can't say I learned that much, but what little I did take out was a strange memory of Thorstein Veblen, perhaps a small bit of precognition. If anything I learned even less in my one college economics class. It must of been the first or second week when we hit those core assumptions, the "economic man" the one who makes only rational decisions to maximize returns. I was pretty much stunned. Throw the brakes, and hold on, shouldn't we be discussing this assumption in a bit of detail? As far as I was concerned we could have done a semester on the subject. The professor clearly thought a minute and a half was more appropriate. Needless to say I ended up majoring in anthropology not economics.

Of course I learned far more after college, almost immediately after college I quite by accident fell into a temporary position on the bond trading floor of Morgan Stanley, up on the 60th floor of the World Trade Center. I felt like I was working in the nerve center of the world. The internet was still relatively unformed and the Bloomberg machine at my desk felt like a magic box. Sort of like the internet except the information actually meant something! Great times for a young anthropologist. Everything was great except the waking up in the morning and put on a monkey suit bit. After six months I was offered a full time job, I turned it down and decided to become a graphic designer. After a bit of a temporary dance through the floors of Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse First Boston and Bear Sterns I actually became one, and soon was founding a company with a couple college friends.

We were a bit too young, too late to the game and too poorly networked to really be part of the dot com boom, but we pretty much rolled along on the fumes. We made a bit of profit, produces some award winning websites and cartoons and as things crashed moved over to the lower levels of the Hollywood game. The specifics are unimportant to this project, but what isn't is the four year taste of real world business. The kind with lawyers and negotiations, contracts granting rights throughout the universe. Bills to pay, employees to take care of, health insurance, cash flow, taxes... The stuff the economy is made of, stuff that bears almost no resemblance in the real world to the stuff you find in an economics textbook.

And from there perhaps we can begin.

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