Social Networks and Network Effect

Today these are keywords, snatch mechanisms and catch tools – firmly anchored in many lives, seemingly providing a second skin, solidified to an extent that the idea they could disappear one day, even attempts to a controlled use as outlined in the Cor Orans occurs as weird, absurd.
But what harm one may say – looking at the wikipedia-List of social networking websites is somewhat instructive: Many of the early ones had been about people ‘just meeting’ or joining for a specific purpose as ADVOGATO, defining itself as ‘the free software developer’s advocate’. – May then be that we should not worry about these networks, instead look at their use? But then again, isn’t another great hit ‘social capital’, community building, self-orgainsation and solidarity? Sure, terms could and should be twisted and turned, social networking – its structures and use – needs to be controlled. Finally all this is not least about social responsibility – the term nowadays so often discussed with the little extension ‘corporate’- Actually not at all a new topic. Milton Friedman – writing under the title

The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits

in The New York Times Magazine, September 13, 1970 contends:

When I hear businessmen speak eloquently about the “social responsibilities of business in a free-enterprise system,” I am reminded of the wonderful line about the Frenchman who discovered at the age of 70 that he had been speaking prose all his life. The businessmen believe that they are defending free en­terprise when they declaim that business is not concerned “merely” with profit but also with promoting desirable “social” ends; that business has a “social conscience” and takes seriously its responsibilities for providing em­ployment, eliminating discrimination, avoid­ing pollution and whatever else may be the catchwords of the contemporary crop of re­formers. In fact they are–or would be if they or anyone else took them seriously–preach­ing pure and unadulterated socialism. Busi­nessmen who talk this way are unwitting pup­pets of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society these past decades.

A bit later this is followed by the statement

In a free-enterprise, private-property sys­tem, a corporate executive is an employee of the owners of the business. He has direct re­sponsibility to his employers. That responsi­bility is to conduct the business in accordance with their desires, which generally will be to make as much money as possible while con­forming to the basic rules of the society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? Isn’t it correct that

in his capacity as a corporate executive, the manager is the agent of the individuals who own the corporation or establish the eleemosynary institution, and his primary responsibility is to them.

Indeed, this had been already issued much earlier – namely by Thortstein Veblen who wrote in 1904

The motive of business is pecuniary gain, the method is essentially purchase and sale. The aim and usual outcome is an accumulation of wealth.[.] Men whose aim is not increase of possessions do not go into business, particularly not on an independent footing (Veblen, Thorstein, 1904: Theory of business Enterprise: New York: Charles Scribers: 20)

There is another general point to it: Economics is since David Ricardo obsessed by the idea of comparative advantage – though originally not focusing on individuals, it is of course still based in methodological individualism: individuals act as individuals, do what they are good at, and the aggregate is a ‘supposed social’.

A recent article in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung brought back to my mind that we also have to make sure that we do not forget any of these issues, and any of these Social Networks. The article, published on May, the 20th 2018, 09:51hrs, is titled
Aufsichtsräte. Deutschlands Netz der Macht/Board of Directors. Germany’s Net of Power.
And there are so many scandalous things mentioned … – these directorates: the chairs of the 30 DAX-enterprises get in average 408,000 Euro which seems to be a nice little top-up, commonly adding to incomes that are extremely high anyway. Just Bilderberg – like … ops: Bilderbuch [picture-book]-like incomes – yes ops, yes, there is this Bilderberg-conference, there is a World Economic Forum, there is the Club of Madrid, there is the  Mont Pèlerin Society … – well, in the case of these gatherings we may not have to talk about additional income …, perhaps … – the payment for giving a presentation …, peanuts … when it comes to money we are here talking about dimensions that are negligible – at some some stage, beyond a specific threshold, it is simply getting ridiculous and we should talk about the need of psychological control – of people and societies. Here it is surely about additional power.

Il denaro regola il mondo

Money governs the world

Pecuniam regit mundi

Geld reguleert de wereld

L’argent gouverne le monde

돈이 세상을 지배하다

At stake is, however, … a kind of oxymoron or paradox. There is the simple network effect: they know each other, communicate with each other … – it is a ‘manageable circle’, the borders so tight that even leaks aren’t able to emerge. The problem is of course not that they meet for probably extensively expensive dinners – instead it is about … – ‘corporate social responsibility’, the fact that these are interlaced social networks with a clear goal and strategy:
In fact it is this network effect that secures success, make it even possible. The point here is, however, there contradictory effect. Social networks are getting more powerful as more people are part of it – the simple example is the little joy to have the only telephone in the universe – you have the item but you cannot use it. If at least one other person has a phone, you can talk – getting a bit of joy out of it. If everybody has one, communication may become universal – and in some way communication is power: you are empowered to reach out, to speak, to develop things together with others … – or, of course, also to influence others. However, the networks that are looked at here, depend on their exclusivity: the smaller the group that executes the control over a huge pool of resources, as larger the power, the influence. We may speak of an inverse network effect. — Anything new?
Well, surely one thing: The ’new’ aspect is that we are now not least dealing with ‘controllers’ and ‘directors’ who are not immediately owning the means of production. At the same time, many of the owners – or better to say: the primitive accumulators, are actually in some way disappearing, for instance Gates as well as Soros showing up on the stage of humanitarian help and supposed world liberation respectively.
May we say in this light that, taking the perspective of national origin – possibly the most ’successful’, and equally most dangerous, are Ireland and Italy  – in the first case it is explicitly a U2-showman, claiming the role of a global politician, in the second case an even further step is made: a M5S-comedian, switching on five startling stars to enlighten a country that feels in many respects happy by maintaining the status of a sleeping beauty of a special kind.
— Again though: anything new?
As we know from Matthew 13: 11ff.

He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables:

“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’

Well, political and enforced self-control obviously included.



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