Basically we’ve got an emergent, market-driven global financial system that was all about a faith-based market fundamentalism. It was deprived of oversight for three good reasons (a) it rapidly brought
prosperity to billions (b) under globalization, money is inherently global while governance is inherently local (c) complete regulatory capture of the system — nobody but bankers understands how to bank. There’s no caste of regulators left anywhere who have the clout or even the knowledge to do anything usefully stabilizing. No, not even if you give them guns, lawyers, money and back issues of DAS KAPITAL.

Too big to fail. So, what can you do? Cross your fingers, basically. Make some reassuring noises. Cheerlead instead of reforming the infrastructure. And pawn what’s left of the credibility of government. […]

Some day this too will pass. “What comes after network culture?” We’re so enmeshed in network culture that it’s hard for us to envision anything outside it now. That’s dangerous. It’s like believing in contemporary finance to the point that alternatives become unthinkable.

Stewart Brand, years ago: “And the larger fear looms: we are in the process of building one vast global computer, which could easily become The Legacy System from Hell that holds civilization hostage — the
system doesn’t really work; it can’t be fixed; no one understands it; no one is in charge of it; it can’t be lived without; and it gets worse every year.” Does that sound familiar? It’s sounds plenty familiar if you’re talking about the global economy now, but that’s not what Stewart was talking about.

“Today’s bleeding-edge technology is tomorrow’s broken legacy system. Commercial software is almost always written in enormous haste, at ever- accelerating market velocity; it can foresee an ‘upgrade path’ to
next year’s version, but decades are outside its scope. And societies live by decades, civilizations by centuries…”

The Well: Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010