Sunday, June 03, 2007

Kalashnikovs, trousers, squid, pies..

Remember this post on Maglev, managerialists, and creationist technology? Heavily-blogged Myers links to equally heavily-blogged article on the market for Kalashnikov rifles. Apparently, everything he reads only makes sense in the light of evolution. Funny that - think process.

This is also why the Chinese textile industry wants to reopen an old mill in Wigan, 20 years after crushing the original into the dust. It seems that the benefit of a shorter OODA loop - a shorter generation time in evolutionary terms - now outweighs the advantage of paying your workforce dramatically less. After all, if the stuff is coming from China, the turnaround time is going to be at least six weeks or so for shipping on top of however long it takes you to come up with a new model.

In evolutionary terms, again, it was always what could be described as r-selected industries that were going to follow the cheap labour - low overhead, low investment, low margin, fast turnaround. K-selected ones - intensive in physical and human capital, high margins, complex development processes - could only by definition be slower to move. In some ways they have proven stickier than most people thought. It's interesting that the first of the R's are now reaching the end of the race to the bottom.

Is this one of the real challenges? To come up with a politics of evolution? Who knows. But it certainly strikes me that it's an argument for market socialism - after all, elite consensus puts a lot of effort into reducing the risks of firms leaving their employees. What about the other way around? The reallocation of resources involves more than one party.

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