Perhaps it's not just about economic transactions, but more about revolution across the board. When the political, economic and social status quo is so entrenched in thinking X, but a new way of thinking Y has far reaching consequences on this status quo, then perhaps the only way is through force.
It's important to consider different forms of force here: Through written or pronouned words, produced sounds, or through physical action. I meant physical action for the majority of this and yesterday's post, but force may come in different ways. And along this line, force may come through natural as opposed to human interventions.
Thanks to a reading club that happens once a week in Khane (thanks SL!), I've been getting into Marshall Hodgon's The Venture of Islam(Book 1). The section titled "Muhammad's Challenge 570-624" has made me think about history unlike I did back at the IIS.
Particularly, one question: In any instance when a new way of transacting goods and services was introduced, was force necessary?
We could discuss market entry, but that would imply an assumption that there is a market in which people transact based on known and accepted methods. Today that means that cash and credit can buy you a good or a service. Barter could also do, but you may have to try extra hard.
But that assumption did not exist in 570 AD. Barter was a viable option, and so were other forms of currency which came from different lands. So in order for Muhammad to introduce a way of being - including a way of doing business that was based on a philosophy of why business should be done - there had to be some kind of significant shift in reasoning.
It's this significant shift I am contemplating now, particularly the methods by which the shift occurs. The section includes descriptions of the Nakhla Raids and the Battle of Badr, which were necessitated for various political, social and (my current interest) economic reasons. I'm not implying that the forms in which people transacted changed after these events, but the way in which they thought about transactions changed.
So, is force necessary when introducing a new way of transacting?
[Note for later: Highly undeveloped thoughts here. Need to fix.]
Today I observed a discussed on Facebook prompted by one of my friends on whether or not books should be delivered to Tanzanians' doorsteps.
On one hand, my friend and his supporters (myself included) contended that not all books can be delivered to one's doorstep given scarcity, and following this logic, the people who will come to view a book at a store in person are most deserving of the purchase.
On the other hand, people argued that we live in an age where home delivery is a premium service, and only those service providers who will deliver will survive. The rest, those who demand a customer to come to them, will lose out in the long run.
OK, so let's assume that every product and service was brought home to you. In this state of affairs, you need to be prepared to make wise choices, otherwise one of two things will happen, assuming that our need for stuff is never satiated: Either you will run out of money and into debt, or you will have too much shit lying around at home to make sense of.
Also, let's think about books compared to other products for a second. Books are a learning resource. Their returns can be quite larger (or smaller in that respect) than the money they are exchanged for. They are also many, many book titles out there, on many, many topics. So the opportunity cost of having the exact book you want delivered to your doorstep is the cost of going to the bookstore and having to browse through other titles similar to the book you want.
This is an opportunity cost worth taking up, rather than foregoing. Sure, this is my point of view, but I get where my friend comes from. Book stores ought to do anything they can to promote more people coming through them, otherwise I think we might end up with too many book lovers in debt because they ordered too much of stuff they didn't need.
I have a feeling I have written about this before. There is a popular saying (even in The Godfather)that goes something like this: "It's not personal, it's business". But some time ago, this seemed like an oxymoron to me. That is, if a business is very close to one's philosophy and way of acting, then the business is not just personal, it is the person.
But in recent days, I have come to realize one important distinction between what is personal and what is business, and it has to do with the kind of people one interacts with. One's personal space may not - and in most cases does not - involve the same people as one's business space. Yet, one's business space is what keeps one's personal space happy and prosperous.
In this light, "it's not personal, it's business" has taken on new meaning for me. Sometimes, the personal needs to stay out of business, otherwise there would not be enough time or resources to satiate everyone's personal appetites. At the same time, the business needs to stay out of the personal, otherwise our private, intricate relationships would wither into calculated, emotionless transactions.
Some comparisons I played with: