Jaime Stapleton

Black Shoals:
A Meditation on Cosmology, Artificial Life and the  Aesthetics of Political Economy

Above us, creatures are born, hunger, feed, procreate and die under the night sky. The Black Shoals invite us to reflect on many things. What it is that constitutes life, what it is to live and to die, what it is to hunger, what it is to learn and evolve? Equally, Black Shoals invites to ask what an ecosystem is, what an economy is, what a society is, what the law is, what a government is, and, of course, how such things may be related. Finally, like all art works, Black Shoals invites us to think very carefully about the relationship between a representation and the thing that is represented. Where, exactly, is the line that separates the attempt to represent life and the attempt to create it anew?

What follows here is a companion piece, a line of thought inspired by Black Shoals. It is not an explanation but rather a supplement to a work that provokes profound questions.

The 'Art' of Artificial Life and Political Economy

The English philosopher Thomas Hobbes introduced his major work of political philosophy – Leviathan (1651) – in the following way.1 “Nature”, the Art by which God has created and governed the world, can be imitated by “the Art of man”. Since all life is but the “motion of limbs”, suggests Hobbes, may we not say that “automata (engines that move by the action of springs and wheels) have an artificial life?” After all, he argued, what is the heart but a spring, what are the nerves but strings, what are the joints but wheels? Crucially, he then ups the stakes, by moving from a consideration of the human body to a consideration of the body politic. If, by the use of “Art”, one may create an artificial body, then, by extension, a similar “Art” may enable man to create an artificial body politic, a “Leviathan”, or civil state, an “artificial Man” greater than the “natural man” “for whose protection and defence it was intended.”

For Hobbes, the creative capacity that enabled us to envisage an automaton could be expanded to provide a model for social life itself. Art could provide a beautiful and logical model that would lay out coherent laws by which humans might rationally orientate themselves.

Cosmology and Political Economy

Hobbes' thinking on political science marks an interesting point in the long historical relationship between cosmology and politics. Generally speaking, the relations between astrology and the political realm are as old as the soothsayer and the prince.2  However, Leviathan marks the point where astrology begins to give ground to the rationalism of early modern astronomy. In 1636, Hobbes travelled to Florence to meet Galileo. Galileo's reversal of orthodox assumptions about the natural state of the physical world was to become hugely influential on Hobbes' political theory. The Galilean law of inertia reversed the notion that all physical bodies were naturally at rest. Rather, it suggested, motion was the natural state of all such bodies. The application of the principle of 'differential motion', to the realm of politics, enabled Hobbes to theorise how individuals operated relative to one another and, by extension, what sort of government would enable them to maintain and maximise their motion.3

The belief that a universal set of laws underpinned the trajectory of a cannonball, the movement of stars in the heavens and the actions of humans on the earth, was not unusual. The notion that the beautiful and true proportions of all material life lay beyond the physical manifestation of the ‘real’ world had long been a common place of neo-Platonism and Christian theology. Hobbes however, brought an explicitly mathematical and aesthetic sensibility to questions of social organisation.4 Long before meeting Galileo, Hobbes had been fascinated by the ability of Euclidian geometry to prove the truth of a complex proposition from a set of essentially simple, and obvious, principles. Geometry offered Hobbes a certainty that was generally unavailable to uncertain art of ethical and political theory.

However, the use of deductive reasoning that enabled geometry to come to absolute and demonstrably true statements about complex propositions would only work if one begun one’s investigation from principles that were generally agreed to be self-evident. Geometry was of no use to political science if even the most simple principles could not be agreed upon. For Hobbes, writing in the midst of constitutional crisis and civil war in England, such first principles were in short supply. Galilean methodology offered a way around this problem by combining mathematical reasoning with imaginative inference. Where there were no agreed and observable principles to begin with, the existence of such principles could be surmised. Galileo’s study of cosmology had been successful in imagining the existence of a simple principle and then proving it to exist by the use of mathematics. Hobbes adapted Galileo’s composite methodology to political theory. But, in a society torn apart by civil war, what unifying principle could be imagined to exist that all could agree on, and whose existence could be shown to lie at the root of the complex conflict that lay around them?

The singular principle, Hobbes surmised, was fear. Self-preservation, he argued, was what every citizen desired. Thus in order to guarantee their security, all men should defer to those more powerful than themselves. Through ceding what power they had to those more powerful, peace would eventually be bought about, and with it, the guarantee of personal security.5 Through the inference of a simple underlying principle, the complexity of a society at war with itself could be explained. By the use of ‘art’, that principle could be built upon in order to create a model society – a society at peace with itself, to which all citizens could dedicate themselves.

The Seduction of Models

Hobbes’ Leviathan marks not only a development in political science but also a vital example of the role that imagination and, crucially, aesthetics, play within political and economic theory. The notion that a world of logical beauty lays beneath the complex world of experience is common in many fields of human investigation. In his autobiography, James Watson recalled that when he and Francis Crick built their first physical model of DNA, it was apparent that it could not be accurate since the model was too complex and “inelegant”. The final ‘discovery’ of the structure of DNA revealed the now famous double-helix form. As Watson wrote, “anything that simple, that elegant, just had to right.”6

The idea that by building a model of life, one might discover its essence has long been seductive and not merely because it may help us to understand the phenomena we are attempting to represent. It also holds out the possibility that one might move from merely representing life, to creating it. From the philosophy of Hobbes and Descartes to the contemporary discipline of ‘artificial life’, this promise has remained unchanged. If one can build a model of sufficient complexity, it may no longer function as a model, but rather, it may become a life form in itself.

What holds true for models of the body is also true for models of the body politic. As Hobbes’ Leviathan suggests, building an ideal model of civil society is both an attempt to explain the deficiencies of current behaviour and, implicitly, an attempt to bring a new order to the social body. The desire inherent in all ideological models, whether originating on the political ‘left’ or ‘right’, is the same: to cross the line, to move from merely representing the social realm, to actively recreating it. When any social scientist or politician speaks of ‘modelling’ human behaviour, it means two things at once. On one hand, it means making a model to represent existing social behaviour. On the other hand, it means attempting to form existing behaviour around a pre-existing, ‘ideal’, model. Frequently, the making of models confuses these two desires.

Biology and Economy

The attempt to understand the economy through biological models has a long history and has survived into very recent times. In pre-revolutionary France, a group of thinkers, formed around the figure of François Quensay, postulated a ‘physiology’ of economic society.7 Quensay proposed that wealth flowed through the economy much as blood did through the human body. Just as the blood delivered some vital chemicals to tissues and organs while removing others, so the ‘Physiocrats’ believed, the circulation of wealth in society was replenished through the system of production, exchange and distribution.

In the 20th century, the Keynesian economist Bill Phillips used blood as a metaphor for income in his famous hydraulic model of the UK economy. The first ‘Phillips Machine’ was built in 1949. It was approximately six foot high by four foot across and made from plywood and plastic.8 Water, dyed blood red, begun its journey by being poured into a channel at the top of the machine, from where it flowed downwards under gravity, moving through a complex system of channels laid out to model various aspects of the UK economy. Pink channels, representing savings and investments, lay to the left of the machine. The central channels, coloured blue, represented income (after tax), consumption and domestic expenditure. To the right, the third set of channels, coloured green, represented taxes, imports, exports and exchange rates. As the red water begun to flow through the system, screws over various compartments representing, say, taxation could be adjusted, permitting the viewer to see the overall effect of adjustments in tax on the National Income. The latter, represented by the red water, collected by the pint in a transparent chamber at the bottom of the machine.9

The attempt to explain the complexities of the economy through models drawn from biology has always been driven by the desire that drives every model maker. The model holds out the possibility that it will provide a key that will reduce the messy, discontinuous, contingent and subjective experience of life into a regular, and mappable, set of operations. Economic models, in particular, promise to provide a vantage point from where such complexity can be grasped in a single, and knowable, image. However, such a model requires that one believes that, beyond the broken and compromised experience of ‘real’ life, there exists an ultimate structure, a few simple rules, that equate with some degree of accuracy to the proposed model.  The promise offered by such a faith is that either through scientific rationality, or the intuition of beauty, an individual may attain a perspective unobtainable to the rest of society, and with it, a measure of power over that society.

Ethics, Aesthetics and Economic Models

As suggested above, the central question raised by any social, political or economic model is whether we believe it to cohere with an actual structure that is, in effect, outside of our concrete experience. Crucially, to give credence to a model is, in effect, to cede our power to it. To do that is to place that model beyond effective ethical constraints, to place it in an arena that is outside of history, culture and society. The notion that a model might exist apart from the social realm, that it could be considered as in some way above, beyond or outside of humanly constructed laws, has been a common theme both aesthetic and economic theory in the 20th century.

The notion that the aesthetic realm may be separable from that of ethics and politics was central to the ideology of ‘High’ Modernism. Propounded most forcefully in the writings of the American cultural critic Clement Greenberg, it was a view that became hegemonic in the US and Europe in the immediate post world war two period.10  Though very loosely derived from the writings of Kant, the notion that ‘art’ and ‘life’ occupied two profoundly different realms had its immediate origin in the writings of the English critic Roger Fry.11

Fry suggested that “actual life” presented an individual with real dilemmas that required them to make ethical choices. In contrast, the life of the imagination was free from such responsibilities. In consequence, art, as the central organ of the “imaginative life”, was a place apart from “the binding necessities of actual existence”.  The first conclusion to draw form such a position was that true art could not be judged by its fidelity to “actual life”. Fry’s second conclusion however, was more radical. Since it was only in the imaginative realm that one’s mind was cleared of the clutter of everyday experience and ethical necessity, it was better that “actual life” was judged for its conformity to the model presented in the “imaginative life”.

This once dominant aesthetic ideology makes a striking parallel with the use of imaginative models in the realm of political economy. The parallel is most clear when considering the relationship between the concept of society and that of a ‘free market’.

The roots of the modern concept of the ‘free market’ can be traced, like those of Modernist aesthetic theory, to the debates of the late 18th century. However, while the widespread belief in ‘aesthetic autonomy’ is now a distant memory, belief in the ‘free market’ has remained a central nostrum of ‘neo-liberal’ economic theory and is the driving force behind contemporary economic globalisation. However, the ‘ethical’ principle that supports it is as dubious as that which supported the nostrums of ‘high’ Modernist ideology.

Modernist ideology reversed the prevailing assumptions of reality and representation. Life did not set the critical standard by which aesthetic production was to be judged; rather aesthetics set the ‘ethical’ standard by which life was to be judged. In an identical reversal of assumption, ‘free market’ ideology rejects the notion that society should set ethical standards by which the market might be judged; rather it suggests that the model behaviour of markets sets an ‘ethical’ standard upon which society should be ordered.

On such a quasi-aesthetic view, the market is a simple and beautiful, abstract principle that can be pitted against the infinite complexity of the social realm. For a world of confusing ethical decisions, a world torn between political pragmatism and compromised idealism, the concept of a ‘free market’ offers a simple, and binding, logic; a principle that purports to underlie, and therefore to explain, all social behaviour. Crucially, this ideology has its origin in a myth that reduces the complexity of the social realm to a single principle. Intriguingly, it is a myth that was also central to Charles Darwin’s development of the theory of evolution.12

The Island of Juan Fernandez: Capitalism, Evolution and Aesthetics

The myth of The Island Juan Fernandez made its first acquaintance with political theory in Joseph Townsend’s Dissertation on the Poor Laws of 1786.13  As the historian of political economy Karl Polanyi observed, it is Townsend’s Dissertation, rather than Adam Smith’s better-known Wealth of Nations, that deserves to be credited as the starting point of the contemporary notion of a ‘market society’.  As Polanyi pointed out, there is nothing in Smith’s work to suggest that the interests of capitalists should lay down the law to broader society, or that the economic sphere was “subject to laws of its own that provide us (society) with a standard of good and evil.”14  Before Townsend, markets were invariably regarded as a part of society. The notion that they may exist apart from society and its laws, and that the government itself was an impediment to the development of the market, was entirely new. Townsend’s mythical tale of Juan Fernandez was the first social theory to postulate the notion that a ‘natural’ economic order pre-existed all forms of government and that, as such, all humanly constructed social structures were impediments to the ‘natural order’ of things. It marked, Polanyi suggested, “a new starting point for political science.”15

Townsend’s Dissertation was conceived as a response to the question of how to deal with problem of the poor in English society. His answer was simple. Remove all social provision for the poor, and hunger would drive them to seek work. This brutal view of social responsibility was justified by reference to the narrative of events that supposedly occurred on the island of Juan Fernandez.16 

‘Juan Fernandez’ was an island off the coast of Chile named after the Spanish admiral Juan Fernandez.17  According to Townsend’s legend, the admiral let a number of goats loose on the island in order to provide a convenient source of fresh meat for future visits to the area. According to the myth, the lack of natural predators led the goats to multiply at a phenomenal rate. Subsequently, the goats became an important source of food for English pirates operating in the area.  Since the pirates were raiding Spanish ships, the Spanish government released a greyhound dog and bitch on the island in order to kill the goats.

According to the legend, the dogs fed on the goats and multiplied rapidly. Eventually, according to Townsend, a ‘natural equilibrium’ established itself. In his words, “the weakest of both species were among the first to pay the debt to nature; the most active and vigorous preserved their lives”.18 He drew a simple inference from the story that could be applied to human society. The quantity of food “regulates the number of the human species”.19 This lesson could then be applied to the problem of the poor in England. “Hunger”, he suggested, “will tame the fiercest animals, it will teach civility, obedience and subjection.” For Townsend, “only hunger…can spur and goad them (the poor) on to labour; yet our laws have said they shall never hunger.” “Hunger in not only peaceable, silent unremitting pressure, but, as the most natural motive to industry and labour…(it) lays lasting and sure foundations for good will and gratitude.”

Townsend’s conclusion was highly political. Any attempt to help the poor or starving was deeply misguided. A fundamental natural law lay beneath all forms of government and all forms of social life. ‘Man’ was, at root, an animal. In the absence of socially constructed laws, a natural law would establish itself. On the island of Juan Fernandez, there was no government, no law, no social compact, and yet somehow a natural law had established itself amongst the goats and dogs. More to the point, the law of hunger was beautifully simple; it presented a more “efficient” method of organising human life than any that could be conceived by a lawyer or magistrate. There was no need to keep the poor in order through force, no need to incarcerate them, or compel them to work, since, if left to their own devices, hunger would keep them in their ‘natural’ place.

As with all ‘utopian’ models, the facts concerning the Juan Fernandez were unverifiable.20 The island legend plays exactly the role in economic theory that the plausible, but unobservable, principle has played in political science since Hobbes adapted Galileo’s methodology. While the principle cannot be observed as fact, its hypothetical existence, once postulated, can be argued to exist by the observable phenomena that, purportedly, develop from it. Put most simply, while the story of Juan Fernandez has long been recognised as myth, it provides a convenient model, a plausibly logical image, by which to order the discontinuous and contingent facts of the social realm. For a believer in the ideology of the ‘free market’, the complexities and discontinuities of social life can be unified and understood through the agency of this single, mythical image.

Over half a century ago, Karl Polanyi demonstrated precisely how Townsend’s narrative came to be central to the development of the ‘market society’ and the ideological engine ‘first phase’ of economic globalisation of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A decade later, Ashley Montagu demonstrated precisely how Townsend’s myth was transmitted to Darwin.21 Montagu concluded that the theory of evolution owed its inspiration to the socio-political thinkers of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.22 The “survival of the fittest” was first, an ideal model designed to explain, and justify, a socio-political ideology, and only later, an ideal model with which to analyse the processes of the animal and vegetable kingdoms. The ultimate effect of the revolving door between biological and economic theory was the notion that a unifying ‘natural law’ could be supposed to exist, and that it could provide a natural justification of what had hitherto been viewed as a socially imposed political ideology. Put succinctly, after Darwin, it appeared entirely ‘natural’ that the world was divided into ‘goats’ – the poor – and ‘dogs’ – the rich; and that the latter would live off the former

It is not so surprising to find that in our own time ‘evolutionary biology’ has become a lively, if highly controversial, academic discipline. In purporting to identify ‘evolutionary explanations’ for contemporary social and economic behaviour, evolutionary biology merely recovers its own originary theoretical model, and represents it as a ‘fact’ of ‘nature’. What applies to ‘evolutionary biology’ also holds good when economists speak of ‘evolutionary economic theory’.23 The current centrality of such theory to the concept of the ‘knowledge economy’ is but further example of the revolving door between biological and economic modelling. In a scene akin to an artist recognising themselves in a self-portrait that they had forgotten they had even painted, economic theory recovers its own economic model from the biological theory it, itself, has spawned. Where the uncanny echo between one discipline and another should alert the scientist to the possibility that data has become twisted by a common methodological model, the echoing model is instead interpreted as evidence of an underlying, universal truth.

Black Shoals: Hunger, Ethics and Aesthetics

The extent to which models are permitted to organise our lives is determined by the extent to which we are generally susceptible to the aestheticisation of everyday life. In the age of economic globalisation, we are mesmerized by the beauty of models. It has long been recognised that consumption, particularly in developed economies, is thoroughly enmeshed with the aesthetic, or “symbolic”, realm.24 The ‘use-value’ of most consumer goods lays as much in their ability to communicate our ‘identity’ as in their notionally practical functions. We no longer imagine that the use-value of a coat is simply to keep us warm. From the widespread belief that a politician must possess a full head of hair in order to be ‘electable’, to the smooth, logical beauty of the economic statistics and the opinion polls, we live in a cultural captivated by aesthetics.25

From Townsend onwards, theorists of political economy have frequently confused the ‘representing’ and ‘creating’ function of models. Where once the natural world was simply a source of metaphors with which to explain the organisation of society, ideology demands that we go beyond mere analogy. Though Townsend’s ‘law of hunger’ was extracted from a model, it was not presented as a metaphor of social organisation, but as the actual source of social organisation. ‘Nature’, thus revealed, presented an ideal model to which human society should conform. For Townsend, and for contemporary ‘neo-liberals’, any form of social intervention to save members of the community from starvation was, and is, an unwarranted interruption of the ‘natural’ order.

In our own time, the political ideology derived from Townsend’s model has sought not only to reduce governmental ‘interference’ in the ‘free market’, but has called into question the very need for government, the nation state, and any form of social or cultural organisation that does not conform to the ‘principle’ of the market. It is an ideology that implicitly rejects any ethical system but the market, since such ‘alternative’ social systems are regarded as impediments to the full realisation and rationalisation of the ideal of the ‘market society’.

For economic ‘neo-liberalism’, morality is a simple business. There is only one ‘ethic’: any attempt made by government, law, culture or society to interfere with the ‘natural’ relations that exist between human beings is ‘unethical’. That separation of the market ‘ethic’ from the ethical world is entirely consonant with the outmoded aesthetic ideology of ‘high’ Modernism. An abstract model is presented as a law that transcends the confusing world of human ethical relations; it is imagined as a principle that both pre-exists, and supersedes, all others. It is persuasive because it makes complexity and discontinuity appear to be readable and knowable. It reduces social relations to a single image that can be taken in at a glance. It casts the complexity of life in its own reductive image. It brings an imagined order to chaos, apparent coherence to that which is incoherent, a satisfying logical beauty to that which cannot otherwise be grasped. Such a project is demonstrably an aestheticising practice.

“Artificial Life” meant something different for Hobbes than it does today. To the seventeenth century mind, the state was an artificial entity constructed by the collective will and, as such, it could be likened by analogy to an automaton. Hobbes imagined the political economy as a model constructed by human agency. We now stand in a different relation to models. Today ‘transcendent’ models of economic ideology seek to provide us with an ‘ethical system’ that is beyond human ethical judgement. From the all-seeing eye of that ‘ethic’, we are imagined as a form of artificial life, a subspecies of human, one that lives entirely in relation to the ebb and flow of the prevailing economic model - a life form adrift in the Black Shoals, without society or culture, motivated solely by hunger.

Dr Jaime Stapleton completed his doctoral thesis ‘Art, Intellectual Property and the Knowledge Economy’ in 2001. A version of this research will be published by IB Tauris later this year under the title ‘Art and Copyright Culture’.

[1] Thomas Hobbes Leviathan, (With an Introduction by C.B. Macpherson), Penguin Classics, London, 1985, p. 81. The quotations here are taken from Hobbes’ own Introduction of 1651. Direct quotes are as indicated, however, 17th century spelling, grammar and punctuation have here been updated for ease of comprehension. 

[2] However, it must be noted that, in more recent times, corporate astrologers have been important to the planning of stock market strategy and, arguably to the political realm. As the American financier J. P. Morgan once suggested, “millionaires do not use astrology, billionaires do.” In the early 1980s, the signing of the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT 2) by the Regan administration was reputedly timed to coincide with favourable astrological activity outlined by Nancy Regan’s personal astrologer. The signing greeted with general surprise by journalists and with consternation by most in the Republican Party.

[3] The influence of Galileo on Hobbes was first made by C. B. Macpherson. It is covered in more detail in his introduction to the Leviathan op. cit.

[4] For analysis of Hobbes and aesthetics see Howard Caygill, The Art of Judgement, Blackwells, London,

[5] Arguably, Hobbesian political economy has always proved more attractive to those who already possess power than to those who seek it.

[6]James D Watson The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA, London, 1968.

[7] Francois Quensay (1697-1774) was also physician to Louis XV.

[8] Phillips initially trained as an engineer, but eventually became a Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics. The surviving machine can be found in the Department of Mathematics at the Science Museum in London.

[9] Though used as a teaching aid, the Phillips Machine was never sophisticated enough to make to accurate predictions of economy. Within a few years, it was made obsolete by the advent of the computer age.

[10] See in particular Greenberg’s best known essays ‘Avant Garde and Kitsch’ (1939), ‘Towards a Newer Laocoon’ (1940) in Clement Greenberg, The Collected Essays and Criticism, ed. J O’Brien, 2 Vols, Chicago, 1986.

[11] Roger Fry An Essay in Aesthetics, first published in New Quarterly, 1909 and then in Vision and Design, 1920

[12] This observation was first made by the celebrated Austrian economic historian Karl Polanyi in The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time, Beacon Press, Boston, 1971. First published in 1944.  Polanyi’s work observation was enlarged on by Ashley Montagu in another celebrated work on the history of ideas Darwin, Competition, and Cooperation, Henry Schuman, New York, 1952.

[13] Joseph Townsend, A Dissertation on the Poor Law:  by a Well-Wisher to Mankind, (With a Forward by Ashley Montagu and an Afterword by Mark Neuman), University of California Press, London, 1971. First published London, 1786. Townsend was the son mercantile family, studied medicine and was a fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge. During his time as rector of the Parish of Pewsey in Wiltshire, he wrote a celebrated book about the political economy of Spain and was also an amateur geologist. His writing also had a profound effect on the writing of Burke, Pitt, Bentham and Ricardo.

[14]Ibid. p. 112. As Polanyi notes, “in his view nothing indicates the presence of an economic sphere in society that might become the source of moral law and political obligation.” For Smith, “material wealth” was the wealth of “the great body of the people… the Society of Mankind”.  Ibid p 112.

[15] Ibid. p. 112.

[16] Scholars have long speculated on why it was in England that such an ideology emerged. Townsend’s views have to be considered in relation to Protestantism. The division of the population of the ‘elect’ and the ‘non-elect’ was central to Calvinism. More importantly perhaps, English Puritanism regarded material wealth as evidence of divine grace, and poverty as evidence of divine displeasure. Crucially, in England after the Reformation, the poor had become the responsibility of the state rather than the church, and therefore a question of economics rather than theology.

[17] It was also the island on which ‘Robinson Crusoe’ was legendarily abandoned.

[18] As cited in Polanyi op. cit. p. 113.

[19] Ibid. p 113. 

[20] Polanyi and Montagu traced the literary origins of the story. While the release of the goats was based on fact, the story of the dogs and a natural equilibrium was pure artistic licence.

[21] Townsend’s statement of the principle of ‘natural selection’ precedes Darwin’s birth by twenty-three years and the publishing of the Origin of Species by seventy-three years.  Following leads set by Polanyi, Montagu showed how Townsend’s work was transmitted to Malthus and became central to his Essay on the Principle of Population, 1789. Though Malthus did not read Townsend, the latter’s ideas were known to him indirectly. Malthus’ father was well aware of Townsend’s ideas. Malthus is quoted directly by Darwin at the end of the passage in which the principle of ‘natural selection’ is laid out. In conclusion, Darwin says, “It is the doctrine of Malthus applied with manifold force to the whole of the animal and vegetable kingdom.”  Charles Darwin On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, John Murray, London, 1859, p. 63.

[22] Even in the 19th century, it was the political grounding of Darwinism was recognised. In 1882, Geddes pointed out that theories of industrial competition simply replaced religious and metaphysical explanations of organic processes. Pierce put the view even more succinctly in 1893, “Darwin merely extends the politico-economical view of progress to the entire realm of animal and vegetable life.” Both quoted in Montagu’s introduction to Townsend’s Dissertation op. cit.

[23] The father of the approach is Joseph Schumpeter; see in particular Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, Routledge, London, 2000. First published in UK 1943. See also the contemporary use in Charles Leadbeater, Living on Thin Air: The New Economy, Viking, London, 1999.

[24] In the introduction to The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man, (Routledge, London, 1951) Marshall McLuhan suggested “The western world, dedicated since the sixteenth century to the increase and solidification of the power of the state, has developed an artistic unity of effect, which makes artistic criticism of that effect quite feasible.” From his earliest works of the late 1960s onwards, Jean Baudrillard has pursued this position, see in particular For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign, trans. Charles Levin, Telos, St Louis, 1981 

[25] For an interesting analysis of the role of aesthetic in economic modelling, see Rick Szostak Econ-Art: Divorcing Art from Science in Modern Economics, Pluto Press, London, 1999.