Earlier I had explored the roots of Classical Liberalism (more like Libertarian to those of us in the USA, as our Progressive Socialists, having gotten a bad name during W.W.II, stole the word “Liberal” for themselves and corrupted our meaning). In that same posting we looked at several other “isms” that contributed to how our world evolved and touched on the roots of many of them back in The French Revolution, where The Ancient Regime (Kings, Queens, Princes and Emperors. Plus the Church.) was overthrown for the rights of The People. At that point, The People included what would later be named BOTH the Proletariat and the Bourgeoisie. Two words that drove me nuts when I was required to study Communism as part of my Economics education (it IS an economic system…).
So, just because I had to work at it to figure it out, what do those two mean? The Bourgeoisie is, roughly, the merchant class. Today it would include both the “Small Businessman” and the “Corporate Capitalist” (along with the wealthy “Robber Baron”). Then it was mostly just the petty merchant class (they not being nobles.) The Proletariat is basically the wage worker. Then it was the petty serf and freeman. Now it would include the Union Airline Pilot pulling down $300,000 a year. Go figure. (They are paid based on the size of the airplane, so as we moved to jumbo jets some of the wages went through the roof. The guy flying the ‘puddle jumper’ is paid about the same as a bus driver…)
So, as we wander through the land of Socialism and its various odd words, I’ll do my best to ‘translate’ to non-codewords.
At any rate, during The French Revolution, the “Left” included both the Bourgeoisie (merchants) and the Proletariat (peasants) while the “Right” had the Kings, Queens, Princes and Bishops.
And, just as another caution on the use of words, remember that “Left Wing” and “Right Wing” are functionally useless terms in any kind of historical perspective. They have mutated massively over time.
This quote starts off referring to the term “Right Wing”:
Now, to the meat of it. At the bitter end we get “nationalists and fascists” tossed in along with ‘free market capitalists’. This is starting to look more and more like a list of “Anything the Present Day Socialists / Leftists don’t like” and less and less like a rational classification… So who decided Nationalism was ‘right wing’? And why?
So, our first Ah Ha! moment is to realize that “right wing” means exactly nothing. It’s a catch all for “collectivists don’t like it” and they don’t like the history of Fascism being scored on their side, so they’ve pushed it over here on the “right wing” too and drug Nationalism along for the ride to assure you get both Italy and Germany assigned to “not us over here on the left!!”. So what IS now counted as ‘left wing’?
What about “left wing”?
In politics, Left, left-wing and leftist are generally used to describe support for social change to create a more egalitarian society. The terms Left and Right were coined during the French Revolution, referring to the seating arrangement in parliament; those who sat on the left generally supported the radical changes of the revolution, including the creation of a republic and secularization.
Use of the term Left became more prominent after the restoration of the French monarchy in 1815 when it was applied to the “Independents”. The term was then applied to a number of revolutionary movements, especially socialism, anarchism and communism as well as more reformist movements like social democracy and social liberalism.
So, in the beginning it was those Nasty Republicans… Who knew? Then as hangers on we got the “independents” mixed in that brought the early French socialists and communists along for the ride. Note, too, sneaking in “social liberalism” that we’ve discussed earlier is actually NOT Liberalism at all, Classical Liberalism was the stuff of Republics, Libertarians, and Individual Freedom.
Social liberalism is just a back door way to try to hide socialism under the (then) more popular Liberal label (in the USA at least, the “Progressives” such as Woodrow Wilson and FDR had tarnished “Progressive” pretty badly what with mass arrests, propaganda machines, railing against the constitution as it constrained what he could do with the country, attempts (often successful) at control of the media, and a couple of world wars along with some economic depressions; so they rebranded as ‘social liberals’)
Our major clue here is to discover that whenever you see the word Social as a modifier, suspect fraud is being done to the modified word. Also, watch for the ‘redefinition rebranding’ game being played. It may not be 100%, but it is a very fruitful clue.
So where are we now? We’ve got those in favor of the Republic being moved from “Left Wing” over to “Right Wing” and stuck with the folks who want to keep the King on the throne (don’t think they’d like that…) and we’ve got “Classical Liberals” who were dead set against having their liberties stolen being stripped of their good name so collectivists socialists can hide behind it. Oh, and they shove their National Socialist and Fascist attempts at collectivism over with the Republicans and Monarchists and reactionaries and capitalists and all the others that Marxism doesn’t like. Can’t ‘rebrand’ Fascism as good so may as well stick that Tar Baby on the guys who fought to kill it.
OK. conclusion time: “right wing” and “left wing” are entirely useless terms with the possible exception that “Left Wing” is consistently used by the Socialists, Communists and other Marxist Collectivists at least since the time that they shoved the Republicans over into the same (propaganda driven definition) side as the reactionaries and Monarchs.
Basically, I “smell a big fat commie rat” at work manipulating the language.
So we will need to be particularly careful in the words we use, the ‘time scope’ to which any given use might apply, and the political forces that (IMHO deliberately) corrupt the language.
As we will be looking at a couple of hundred years duration, this is highly important. “Right” and “Left” are meaningless on those scales. Only fundamental principles of what each group wants to do can be a reliable measure.
Back At The French Revolution
There was a movement, prior to The French Revolution, that also lead to The American Revolution. That movement was The Enlightenment. It lead to a world that held Individual Liberty to be of high value. That the individual could not be at liberty as long as their lives or their property were at risk. That Kings, Queens, Princes, and Bishops typically did NOT respect any individual liberties (you were property of The Crown or supplicant to The Church) nor any individual property rights (The Crown could take anything it wanted to take. If you defied The Church, you could be excommunicated and often all your ‘stuff’ taken as you might be driven out of the country.)
In a future posting I’m going to refine the term Evil Bastard, but I’m going to use it here unadorned. We need some degree of Evil Bastard as they devote more of their income to investments and enterprise building. Unfortunately, left unconstrained, they end up dominating the world.
In capitalism they dominate as leaders of giant multinational corporations. In this ancient era, they dominated at Kings, Queens, Emperors, and the occasional odd Religious Leaders. So there is a fundamental strain between our need for The Evil Bastard to save, invest, promote change and growth of industries and empires; and their desire to dominate us and take all our stuff. It is that fundamental strain between needing a little bit of a controlled Evil Bastard running things, and a bit too much leading to various sorts of Tyranny, that make up much of the flow of human history.
In this Ancient Regime, the Evil Bastards were the Kings, Queens, Emperors, Princes, and other odd petty tyrants (sometimes even including The Pope – who’s position was, at times, for sale to the highest bidder…) In many ways we see the end point of unfettered Evil Bastards in the worst that Monarchy has to offer when left unchecked. It isn’t a fundamental of monarchy, but of all Evil Bastard systems regardless of heredity and method; so we see the same ‘end point’ in Empire as well as in various Socialisms and Communism when they ‘run amok’ and an Evil Bastard takes unfettered control. Stalin in the USSR was in effect no different from Old King George or from Napoleon. (Or, I might add, from Hitler). In all cases, they are a leader who has astounding power over the lives and property of others, with a largely unfettered hand.
The Magna Carta (there were several starting in about 1225) was one of the first efforts at reducing the power of The Evil Bastard to act without limit against the liberties and property rights of others. (Unfortunately for the Proletariat and Bourgeoisie it was mostly aimed at securing the rights of Petty Evil Bastards – the Lords and Barons – against the King. It would take much longer for those same rights and privileges to be extended to the rest of us. But it was a start.)
It is very important to understanding the sweep of history to understand the Magna Carta. It is where we see most clearly displayed that property rights are essential to maintain personal liberties. Most of our liberties are embodied, directly or indirectly, in property rights. How can you farm if you do not have rights to your land? How can you invest in a new idea or factory if it can be taken at any time? How can you even be “secure in your papers” if at any time the government can come and take your home, read your papers, and put you in prison for thinking the wrong thoughts and writing to the wrong people?
We see this historic lack of liberty returning today in various “Hate Speech” and “Hate Crime” and “Conspiracy” laws and in the “warrantless searches” authorized by laws like The Patriot Act. I still find the concept of a “Hate Crime” to be hideous. It implies that the opposite can also exist; a “Love Crime”. Isn’t ALL crime a hateful act? Similarly “hate speech” is a broken concept. Either we have freedom of speech or we do not. If SOME speech is criminal, then we simply have said that some Evil Bastard or their delegates will be deciding which of us is criminal and which is not by choosing what thoughts to criminalize. We’re seeing that end game approach as various folks have started calling for Climate Denialism to be called criminal or hate speech… Have a politically incorrect idea, go to prison. That is all “hate speech” really means to me.
So the first basic concept we need to internalize is that there is no “Left” and “Right”. Then the second concept is that it doesn’t really matter what you call The Evil Bastard. Either YOU have liberty to think your own thoughts, share them with friends, own your own ‘stuff’, and choose your own economic destiny; or you are serf to The Evil Bastard. Be they King, Queen, Prince, Emperor, Party Commissar, Dear Leader, Premier, or even President. Either YOU have some self sovereignty, or you don’t. All the rest is just smoke and mirrors.
Back to the Middle Past
Which brings us back to the end of The Ancient Regime. That was the point where The Enlightenment brought us the best golden years of The Enlightenment and the growth of several grand Republics. Free market capitalism flourished, and the world moved to more wealth production and more intellectual advancement in shorter time than had ever been seen before. That Libertarian / Classical Liberalism world was, in many ways, the best that had ever existed.
Yet it had serious faults. What happens when The Old Evil Bastards get fettered? New Evil Bastards arise. So the Kings, Queens, Emperors and Bishops were pushed aside and The Robber Barons rose to dominance. Sweat shops. Slave traders. Incredible abuse of the Proletariat and the accumulation of wealth and power into the hands of the unelected, once again. Even the elected ‘representatives of the people’ were often bought and paid for by the wealthy Evil Bastards. See the history of Boss Tweed for just one small example. Look at the tendency for the leadership of Goldman Sachs and GE to hang out with Obama for another. “The best government money can buy” is all too often the case even in Washington D.C.
Carl Marx saw this, along with Friedrich Engals and together decided they knew how to cure it. From that root grew all of Marxism and The Communist Manifesto. (Which, BTW, I’ve read a couple of times. First time in college as assigned reading. Latest just a few months back as a ‘refresher’. It’s readable, if a bit ‘thick’ some times; but more clear once you know Bourgeoisie means businessmen and Proletariat means workers.)
What they ‘missed’, IMHO, is simply the universal nature of The Evil Bastard. Folks who grasp after power over others, position, prestige, et. al. don’t really care if you call them King, Emperor, Kaiser, Fuhrer, or Party Premier, President or General Secretary. (Or even UN Secretary General…) What they care about is that THEY have Central Control over you, your voice, your property, and your liberties.
Thus the USSR ended up being Just Another Empire, IMHO. Lead by a series of Evil Bastards functionally indistinguishable from the various Kings, Queens, and Emperors of the past.
At its core, that is what I see as the main failing of Communism and the various other Socialisms. They focus on The Bourgeois as “oppressor” (as, during the time when Marx did his writing, the Royalty had pretty much been brought under control) and missed the point that both Democratic and Republic structures were also subject to domination by The Evil Bastard, grasping after power over others. Further, their emphasis on Central Planning and Central Control virtually assures the concentration of power in the Central Core, the attraction of the worse Evil Bastards to those levers of power, and the removal of all rights and liberties from the dominated peons or proletariat as a necessary consequence. They trusted too much in the power of The Committee and Commissars to constrain the ambitions and avarice of The Evil Bastard. It doesn’t work out that way…
Sidebar on Capitalism and The Regulated Economy:
We’ve tried our own approach at limiting the ability of a Bourgeois Fat Wallet to become an Evil Bastard via a variety of Anti-trust and Anti-Monopoly laws. They have had only limited success. The rise of the Multinational Corporation pretty much gives an end run around those laws. See the OPEC Cartel (as Cartels are legal in some parts of the world, like parts of Europe and the Middle East).
Lately those Fat Wallets have gotten some more of the restraints on them removed. Under Bill Clinton, the Glass-Steagall law was repealed, letting financial institutions combine and grow to excessively large sizes. This directly lead to the “Too Big To Fail” problem. Glass-Steagall had been enacted after the same ‘combinations’ of Retail Banking with Investment Banking with Insurance Companies had resulted in similar instabilities in The Great Depression. That the Democrats “lit the fuse” with the Community Reinvestment Act can not be denied (though the Dimocrats keep trying). It forced banks to make loans that could never be safe, sane, nor likely to be repaid; and directly lead to the Real Estate Bubble. The banks demanded the right to grow larger and freedom from Glass-Steagal as their side of the trade.
Combining those two was the lethal mix. The bankers then figured out how to “Third Party” the junk as an alphabet soup of ‘investment vehicles’ (from SIVs to CDS’s and more). Democrats are pissed that their attempt at social engineering (an oxymoron if ever there were one…) and forcing the banks to swallow the junk failed. The banks are pissed that they got caught in a global financial instability of their own making (as they demanded the repeal of Glass-Steagall that put a fire break between Investment Banking and Retail Banking and Insurance companies…) and the Republicans are pissed that they are getting blamed for everything when all they did was vote for what the banks said they wanted and cooperated with the Democrats to give them what they wanted.
The point of mentioning this, here? To point out that The Evil Bastards are often not very bright. We had Democratic Power Brokers cooperating with Republican Capitalist Lackeys doing what The Evil Bankers wanted. And while it worked well for a couple of decades, it all blew up in their collective faces in the end. Evil Bastards lust after power so much that they have little discipline and even less humility to realize that they are often spectacularly wrong. No mater what side they are on, or if from the Left or the Right, if called Emperor Napoleon, King George, Chairman of The Finance Committee, or President of Lehman Brothers. Or even UN Secretary General or Commissioner, or EU Member of Parliament for that mater.
We, the masses, need The Evil Bastards to drive forward some amount of investment and new ideas (otherwise we eat all our own seed corn and would still be communicating with dial phones on national telephone systems). Democracy is not stable precisely because We The People vote for ourselves the largess of the public purse, under invest, and consume way too much while investing way too little. We choose to keep stability, so the National Telephone company just keeps doing the same old thing, and does not embrace new technology very fast.
It takes a Steve Jobs to turn their world on its head and give us iPhones with built in internet and music downloads and a video studio built in. It may surprise some young folks, but when I was kid, there was one kind of telephone. It was owned by the phone company. If you wanted something else, tough. Eventually they came out with the “Princess” phone, and even a few colors other than black. “Change” was not very important to them. Profit margin and reliability where their major concerns. Shortly after ‘deregulation’ let competition come to telephones, there were a thousand different sizes, colors, styles, etc. Not too long after that, cell phones arrived. The rest, as they say, is history…
So the basic problem we face is how to let The Evil Bastards have enough leash to build a better, richer, world for all of us; yet not so much that their (excessive?) greed, power lust, drive, ambition, avarice, etc. leads us to the otherwise inevitable ruin. See the deaths of W.W.I as one small example of what happens when The Evil Bastards have too long a leash. No peon nor member of the Proletariat (and darned few petty Bourgeois) would be in favor of that kind of conflict, destruction, and waste of life. It take “Big Thinkers” with high ambitions to lead to that kind of death, destruction, and evil. In short, it takes an Evil Bastard who stands to gain.
Much of the rest of history and Political Economy is devoted to various attempts to get the balance right between us, and what we want (mostly to be left alone to live our lives as we see fit and free of oppression by the very powerful) v.s. The Evil Bastards and what they want (to “change the world” and gather to themselves huge power, wealth, and ‘historical importance’). My point is just that various schemes have been tried to solve this one basic problem. They are couched in a variety of terms (often changing over time) and often the code words used deliberately hide the common root. When those schemes fail, the true believers in them simply can not accept that their pet theory failed, so find all sorts of rationalizations for why it was not their theory that was wrong. This, then, leads to the next cycle of the wheel.
In many cases, The Evil Bastards will move into a movement, take over the terms and language of that movement, and eventually lead to the downfall of that movement. This is why it doesn’t really matter if you call it a Monarchy, an Empire, a Socialist Workers Paradise, or even a Constitutional Republic. Once the Big Rats are on the inside, they start making it into a nest of their liking. (See the changes being done to the Australian States’ constitutions and the way the U.S. Supreme Court had made us more amenable to the Progressive Agenda under FDR for simple examples. See what the UN and Agenda 21 are doing now as a much more complex and onerous one. Unaccountable Evil Bastards writ large.)
We must keep that, too, in mind as we explore Socialism and its roots.
One example that causes some folks to bust a gusset, but ought not
“Reality just is. -E.M.Smith”.
There were two variant forms of Socialism that arose from The Progressive Movement in the 1920s and 1930s. Those were Nazism and Fascism. “Everyone knows they are right wing”. And evil. So how could they even remotely be Socialism which “everyone knows is good”? This cognitive dissonance is simply a result of trying to assign things to “good” and “bad” buckets.
It isn’t a question of Socialism being good or bad, or Capitalism being good or bad, or even Empire or Monarchy being good or bad. It is just a question of when and how The Evil Bastard can rise to power and parasitize that particular system. Some are more resistant than others, but none is perfectly resistant. Monarchy can turn with one new king or queen. (So we get Constitutional Monarchy to try to keep it stable and restrict the degree of evil one Evil Bastard can bring). Socialism can be relatively benign (as in the German Social Democrats) of today or the USA (we are now, as of the quasi-nationalization of the banks and buying parts of GM a Lange Type Socialism) or they can be horridly abusive (as in the Stalinist Union of Soviet Socialist Republics).
The simple fact is that both Fascism and Nazism were from the Progressive mold. Part of the spectrum of The Socialisms. The adherents of each identified themselves as Socialists. They followed socialist ideals. They had strong emphasis on Workers Rights and Unions (hallmarks of Socialism) and they used the doctrine and literature of Socialism as their foundational guidance. They added a Nationalist element in both cases (where Communism is distinguished by their insistence on an international workers revolution- read your Marx…) and the Nazis added a racist element.
The Progressives in the USA had similar beliefs, BTW. Look up the history of the US Eugenics movement and Planned Parenthood. Hitler had praise for the American Progressives and they had praise for Mussolini. That this became an embarrassment does not remove that bit of history, try as they might to hide it and demonize anyone who remembers that “inconvenient history”. It was this “problem” that led the American Progressives to steal the word “Liberal” and corrupt what it means in the USA when compared to the rest of the old British Empire. To hide from their historic connection to the Socialist roots of Nazism and Fascism (that they then set about demonizing as well, with particular emphasis on calling racism and nationalism evil… “Me thinks he doth protest too much”.)
Why push this point here? Because it will inevitably come up and I’d rather get it out of the way early. It is a commonly held fallacy that Nazi and Fascist are “right wing” and evil, therefor not socialism that is clearly “left wing” and good. That is simply put, a lie. Carefully constructed propaganda from The Progressives to hide their common roots. My pointing that out is not done to disparage them. In fact, they are no more prone to The Evil Bastard problem than any others (and less so than unrestrained Monarchy and Empire). I’ve often said I can make the best intellectual case for The Mixed Economy (or “Lange Type Socialism Lite”) and I mean it. Laissez Faire Capitalism does an absolutely horrible job of controlling the Evil Bastards and lets them run amok as Robber Barons. In that case “Fattest Wallet Wins” and you end up with everything owned by whoever has the fattest wallet coupled with the least moral scruples.
My pointing out their common roots, shared philosophical base, and similar beliefs is not to be construed as any kind of value judgment. In Mussolini’s Italy (prior to the tie up with Hitler) the trains ran on time, the economy made a spectacular recovery, and life, in general, was quite good. Jews were accepted (and held rank in the Military). It was, in short, an effective economic system. Hitler was a bit nutty with a fixation on racial purity. That aside, the Socialist parts of his government worked fairly well. There was a spectacular recovery of the German economy (that was ruined by W.W.I). As is often the case, The Evil Bastard brings good things to life in the early stages. So we give them more power and a freer hand. Later, when Germany started influencing Fascism, Mussolini had to embrace some of the Nazi beliefs. That was when a racist element arrived and Jews were subject to oppressions. That is not an artifact of Fascism, nor of Socialism. It is an artifact of the odd broken beliefs in a rabid racism that Hitler brought to the mix.
Why push that point? Because if we do not remember our history we are doomed to repeat it. That simple.
So as we explore the roots of Socialism, and ‘play it forward’, do not be surprised to see that some of it ends up in the American Progressive Movement (that leads to American Social Liberalism; that leads to the present Democrats). Do not be surprised that one line wanders off via Marx to become Marxist Communism; then sprouts Maoism in China, that eventually backs off from the Communism line and becomes a “3rd Way” fascism in the old Italian mode – which is what they have today. Working rather well, too, I might add. They would never admit it is a fascism, but it was fascism that first married Corporatism to a Socialist model, and that is what China is doing today. Central Planning and Control, Corporate implementation. There is much to be said for the effectiveness of “3rd Way Progressives” and their fascist ‘union – corporatist – socialism’ blend. My major complaint is just that I’ve never seen it last very long in a stable form before an Evil Bastard takes over the Central Control and it turns into Tyranny that ends in war. Maybe “This time for sure!” ;-)
I’m prone to the same emotional things as everyone else. I like the idea of a “Sugar Daddy” who will give me stuff. Free health care. Free food. Free housing. It is hard work to be responsible for yourself. It is very attractive to get stuff for nothing. So I’m just as emotionally drawn to the “story” of socialism as the next guy. However, I know enough of Economic History to know that it typically doesn’t turn out well. The Evil Bastard rises rapidly under Central Planning and as all the power and control are already centralized, it is a very short trip to Tyranny.
Under a capitalist system, power is distributed and we have competition between the Evil Bastards that tends to keep them busy and off our necks. We have separation between industry, markets, individuals, and government, so no one person can control all of them. The path to tyranny is long and hard. Usually by the time one guy is about to make the big score, they are old enough to die off. We have inheritance taxes to reduce the risk of Evil Bastard Dynasties. We have anti-monopoly practices laws to say you must play well with others. We have anti-cartel / anti-trust laws to say you can not conspire against those of us with smaller wallets and less political clout. We have election of representatives of the people to help keep some balance in things. So I intellectually prefer the “regulated market republic”. But even it is not perfect. (But those imperfections will have to wait for some future time…)
Just realize that there is nothing inherently evil about Socialism, nor is there anything inherently good about Capitalism. Nothing evil about Monarchy and nothing inherently good about a Republic. There are only relative goods and evils; relative ability to control The Evil Bastards and to slow the slide into Tyranny when those controls fail (as they always have, eventually).
My complaint with Socialism is simply that the path to Tyranny has been very short, historically, often under 50 years – which is about the time it takes a Direct Democracy to fail to Tyranny was well. Republics often get 200 years and sometimes more. (Empires can be stable for up to 1000 years – but they are already a Tyranny run by an Evil Bastard, so no comfort there…)
Our (USA) Founders did a wonderful job of balancing the competing pressures and making a governmental form that was not prone to the failure mode of Democracy (via States Rights and State election of Senators). They did a modestly poor job of controlling Evil Bastard Corporations, but those were a new idea then. Later the Progressive Movement broke our balance with the direct election of Senators, and we’ve been on a slow slide into Socialism ever since. The constant advocacy for more “Democracy” is just to accelerate that slide, as democracy has been known since Plato to be a bad form of government due to the instability of the people voting ‘goodies’ for themselves and ending in Tyranny.
In the grand scheme of things, I’d rank Lange Type Socialism just behind The Mixed Economy of the USA of about 1960 and well ahead of Communism, Laissez Faire Capitalism, and unfettered Monarchy or Empire. But I rail against it simply because it has shown a very strong tendency to instability, and to a slide into Tyranny. What I like simply does not matter to what works well.
That the practitioners of it like to constantly corrupt the language, erase inconvenient bits of history, practice vilification and demonizing of anyone who does not ‘toe the line’, and generally support central control of individual behaviour does not endear it to me either… So while there is nothing inherently evil in it; it does have an annoying habit of acting in evil ways and ending badly in an evil outcome. Other than that, it’s a great economic system…
Roots of The Socialisms
Folks often think Socialism is a German invention. Marx and Engles both have German names and German roots. In reality, Engles was a boundary spanning English / German Industrialist. Marx spent a great deal of time in England as well. Other folks think that the Socialist Root reaches back to The French Revolution (and in a small way it does, as that was a key point in the fall of The Ancient Regime). But in fact the taproot of Socialism leads back to a Utopian dream that starts in England and The British Empire.
In many way, the basic divide is between the pragmatic nature of capitalism and the idealistic nature of socialism. The folks who embrace capitalism are often doing so for the very pragmatic reason that it works. Socialists basically say “Yes, it works, but it has problems and is not ideal. We can do better.” They embrace an idealism and faith that human thought can create an ideal system. Capitalism depends on “emergent behaviour” that works, but where the idealists can’t see perfection, so they reject it.
At some other time I will explore the concept Emergent Behaviour and how it can lead to snowflakes, biological systems, and even an effective ecology of Capitalist Enterprises despite being recalcitrant to analysis or inspection by idealistic thought. Just realize that it is at the core of why markets and capitalism work, and why ‘manged markets’ often fail. (We add more and more ‘regulations’ in an attempt to direct the emergent behaviours, but end up with unexpected emergent behaviours, that lead to more regulations, that … until it collapses. So “price controls” are often tried – they rationally ought to work – but always fail as folks do ‘unexpected’ things. We have a ‘war on drugs’ – that raises the profit margin and causes more Evil Bastards to supply ever more drugs instead.) Mastery of Emergent Behaviour, or even just accepting that it will win over our idealized beliefs, is the key to understanding how real economies and political systems function. But that is for another day.
For anyone wondering at my use of a plural “The Socialisms”, realize that Socialism has mutated rather rapidly in a lot of variations. I’m naturally a bit suspicious of anything with that rapid a rate of change and that much need to mutate to survive. I think it indicates it still hasn’t quite got it right… see: the Types of Socialism wiki for a long list that will have conspicuously absent any embarrassing variations like fascism…
Lange Type Socialism is also often called Market Socialism as they try to get the market forces to work inside an idealized directed managed framework. “This time for sure”…
We will start with Pragmatism and Idealism. Then wander back in time looking into the roots. I’m going to assume folks are already familiar with the modern version of Socialism and Communism or can easily look them up from links here.
Pragmatism and Idealism
From the wiki:
Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition centered on the linking of practice and theory. It describes a process where theory is extracted from practice, and applied back to practice to form what is called intelligent practice. Important positions characteristic of pragmatism include instrumentalism, radical empiricism, verificationism, conceptual relativity, and fallibilism.
Charles Sanders Peirce (and his pragmatic maxim) deserves most of the credit for pragmatism, along with later twentieth century contributors William James and John Dewey.
Pragmatism enjoyed renewed attention after W. V. O. Quine and Wilfrid Sellars used a revised pragmatism to criticize logical positivism in the 1960s. Another brand of pragmatism, known sometimes as neopragmatism, gained influence through Richard Rorty, the most influential of the late 20th-century pragmatists. Contemporary pragmatism may be broadly divided into a strict analytic tradition and “neo-classical” pragmatism (such as Susan Haack) that adheres to the work of Peirce, James, and Dewey. The word pragmatism derives from Greek πρᾶγμα (pragma), “deed, act”, which comes from πράσσω (prassō), “to pass over, to practise, to achieve”.
Pragmatism as a philosophical movement began in the United States in the 1870s. Its direction was determined by The Metaphysical Club members Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, and Chauncey Wright, as well as John Dewey and George Herbert Mead.
The first use in print of the name pragmatism was in 1898 by James, who credited Peirce with coining the term during the early 1870s. James regarded Peirce’s 1877–8 “Illustrations of the Logic of Science” series (including “The Fixation of Belief”, 1877 and especially “How to Make Our Ideas Clear”, 1878) as the foundation of pragmatism . Peirce in turn wrote in 1906 that Nicholas St. John Green had been instrumental by emphasizing the importance of applying Alexander Bain’s definition of belief, which was “that upon which a man is prepared to act.” Peirce wrote that “from this definition, pragmatism is scarce more than a corollary; so that I am disposed to think of him as the grandfather of pragmatism.” John Shook has said, “Chauncey Wright also deserves considerable credit, for as both Peirce and James recall, it was Wright who demanded a phenomenalist and fallibilist empiricism as an alternative to rationalistic speculation.”
Inspiration for the various pragmatists included:
Francis Bacon who coined the saying ipsa scientia potestas est (“knowledge itself is power”)
David Hume for his naturalistic account of knowledge and action
Thomas Reid, for his direct realism
Immanuel Kant, for his idealism and from whom Peirce derives the name “pragmatism”
G. W. F. Hegel who introduced temporality into philosophy (Pinkard in Misak 2007)
J. S. Mill for his nominalism and empiricism
George Berkeley for his project to eliminate all unclear concepts from philosophy (Peirce 8:33)
In particular, notice the presence of Hegel and J.S. Mill in that list. This is the Hinge Point of History where divergence starts. Prior to this point, we had the fall of The Ancient Regime, and the rise of Industrial Capitalism. Folks were trying to sort out which way to take philosophy and society. Pragmatics looked at the world and asked “What will work?” in essence.
If we take a small peek at Idealism, for comparison, we find Hegel again:
From the wiki-
In philosophy, idealism is the group of philosophies which assert that reality, or reality as we can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. Epistemologically, idealism manifests as a skepticism about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing. In a sociological sense, idealism emphasizes how human ideas — especially beliefs and values — shape society. As an ontological doctrine, idealism goes further, asserting that all entities are composed of mind or spirit. Idealism thus rejects physicalist and dualist theories that fail to ascribe priority to the mind. An extreme version of this idealism can exist in the philosophical notion of solipsism.
Religious and philosophical thought privileging the immaterial or supernatural over the material and natural is ubiquitous and ancient. However, the earliest extant arguments that the world of experience is grounded in the mental derive from India and Greece. The Hindu idealists in India and the Greek Neoplatonists gave pantheistic arguments for an all-pervading consciousness as the ground or true nature of reality. In contrast, the Yogācāra school, which arose within Mahayana Buddhism in India in the 4th century CE, based its “mind-only” idealism to a greater extent on phenomenological analyses of personal experience. This turn toward the subjective anticipated empiricists such as George Berkeley, who revived idealism in 18th-century Europe by employing skeptical arguments against materialism.
Beginning with Immanuel Kant, German idealists such as G. W. F. Hegel, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, and Arthur Schopenhauer dominated 19th-century philosophy. This tradition, which emphasized the mental or “ideal” character of all phenomena, birthed idealistic and subjectivist schools ranging from British idealism to phenomenalism to existentialism. The historical influence of this branch of idealism remains central even to the schools that rejected its metaphysical assumptions, such as Marxism, pragmatism, and positivism.
It is at this point where the divide forms. Positivism runs off and eventually forms the foundation of some types of Socialism. (The wiki for Positivism is part of their Sociology Portal set. There is also a Socialism Portal.) While the pragmatic capitalists just went on their way trying to make money in the context of the Emergent Behviour world of a Libertarian Naturalist world. The Socialists and Marxist Socialists believed that they could conceive an ideal world and cause it to be. That the Emergent Behaviour world (though they did not use those words or that concept directly) was somehow messy and would inevitably lead to the oppression of the masses and the revolt of the proletariat. They embraced an idealist / positivist world. (And forgot that emergent behaviour might give them their own Evil Bastard problem…) Some of the pragmatists, like J.S. Mills, had socialist leanings and some of their work ended up in the pot as well, but always tempered by that need to create a Utopian model.
Quoting a bit from the wiki on Positiveism:
Positivism is philosophy of science based on the view that in the social as well as natural sciences, data derived from sensory experience, and logical and mathematical treatments of such data, are together the exclusive source of all authentic knowledge. Obtaining and “verifying” data that can be received from the senses is known as empirical evidence. This view holds that society operates according to laws like the physical world. Introspective and intuitional attempts to gain knowledge are rejected. Though the positivist approach has been a recurrent theme in the history of Western thought, the concept was developed in the early 19th century by the philosopher and founding sociologist, Auguste Comte. Comte argued that society operates according to its own laws, much as the physical world operates according to gravity and other laws of nature.
We find Comte popping up from time to time as well.
The key takeaway at this point is just that Socialists believe, in their core beliefs, that they can work out the “laws of nature” that govern human interaction and build an idealized rule set to control human behaviour and build a Utopian world. The stereotypical Workers Paradise.
That Emergent Behaviour (i.e. “The Law of Unintended Consequences”) causes them to fail is something with which they have not yet come to grasp… They do seem to have started to realize they still have an Evil Bastard problem; but have not figured out how to fix it. Instead they seem to simply assert that the newest particular trial was in some ill defined way flawed; and if we just try some other variation it will all work out fine “This Time For sure!” … (For anyone unaware of it, that’s a reference to a Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon where Bullwinkle tries to pull a rabbit out of a hat and repeatedly fails… always saying “This time for sure!”…)
In essence, the divide happens at the moment where the Sociologists decided they could define the “natural laws” governing human behaviour and the Socialists decided they could use that to build an ideal Workers Paradise. This is also part of why Sociology has been intimately tied to Socialism from the get go. One can be seen as the intellectual underpinning of the other; or the reverse, one is the real world demonstration of the other. IMHO “needs work” comes to mind. For both of them. With particular emphasis on the intractable problem of Emergent Behaviour. There is a fundamental conceit that they hold; that they can take the chaotic and non-deterministic world of human behaviour and both model and control it.
Socialism runs forward from that point, evolving into several different forms, spitting out a Communist variation, a Nationalist variation, and even various Democratic Socialism variations. It generally works, after a fashion. Mostly it is a bit shy on new ideas and innovation (being too focused on preserving the jobs and power structures of the entrenched) and too prone to a slide into Tyranny. But especially for a downtrodden economy faced with a world full of Rapacious Oligopoly Capitalists, having a bit more Central Control and a bit less ’emergent behaviour’ (when it will be dominated by foreign management interests) can work out very well for an individual country.
From here on out I’m just going to wander through the list of folks involved in the evolution of The Socialisms (not spending much time at all on the Communist, Fascists, and Nazi variations, and spending more on the older roots). If you want to explore all the various forms that have been tried, in different places and in different times, that would take a modest sized book. I’d suggest hitting the wiki on types of socialism (link above) first so you know what you’re getting yourself into.
For now it’s enough just to realize that socialism is a “work in progress” and has some more work needed. It has a large number of variations and not one of them has been as effective as the American regulated Free Enterprise model.
So where did this come from?
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (German pronunciation: [ˈɡeɔɐ̯k ˈvɪlhɛlm ˈfʁiːdʁɪç ˈheːɡəl]) (August 27, 1770 – November 14, 1831) was a German philosopher, one of the creators of German Idealism. His historicist and idealist account of reality as a whole revolutionized European philosophy and was an important precursor to Continental philosophy and Marxism.
Hegel developed a comprehensive philosophical framework, or “system”, of Absolute idealism to account in an integrated and developmental way for the relation of mind and nature, the subject and object of knowledge, psychology, the state, history, art, religion and philosophy. In particular, he developed the concept that mind or spirit manifested itself in a set of contradictions and oppositions that it ultimately integrated and united, without eliminating either pole or reducing one to the other. Examples of such contradictions include those between nature and freedom, and between immanence and transcendence.
Hegel influenced writers of widely varying positions, including both his admirers (Strauss, Bauer, Feuerbach, T. H. Green, Marx, Vygotsky, F. H. Bradley, Dewey, Sartre, Croce, Küng, Kojève, Fukuyama, Žižek, Brandom, Iqbal) and his detractors (Schopenhauer, Schelling, Kierkegaard, Stirner, Nietzsche, Peirce, Popper, Russell, Heidegger). His influential conceptions are of speculative logic or “dialectic”, “absolute idealism”, “Spirit”, negativity, sublation (Aufhebung in German), the “Master/Slave” dialectic, “ethical life” and the importance of history.
One can simply run down that list of ‘admirers’ and see how things develop and diverge. In particular, Marx runs with this to communisim, while on the other side ‘detractor’ Popper gives us some decent rules for how to do science (even if a bit too much of a straight jacket in some contexts). We also see here early use of “dialectic” or “speculative logic” (which, IMHO, is an important detail often forgotten “speculative” needs more emphasis when taking about the ‘socialist dialectic’…)
Down in the page is this quote:
The French Revolution for Hegel constitutes the introduction of real individual political freedom into European societies for the first time in recorded history. But precisely because of its absolute novelty, it is also unlimited with regard to everything that preceded it: on the one hand the upsurge of violence required to carry out the revolution cannot cease to be itself, while on the other, it has already consumed its opponent. The revolution therefore has nowhere to turn but onto its own result: the hard-won freedom is consumed by a brutal Reign of Terror. History, however, progresses by learning from its mistakes: only after and precisely because of this experience can one posit the existence of a constitutional state of free citizens, embodying both the benevolent organizing power of rational government and the revolutionary ideals of freedom and equality. Hegel’s remarks on the French revolution led German poet Heinrich Heine to label him “The Orléans of German Philosophy”.
Worth note, here, is that the European Experience is dominated more by oppression from The Evil Bastard, in one form or another, than much of anything else. The French Revolution was (and is) “unprecedented”. The notions of individual freedom and liberty were essentially alien to much of Europe then (and, I would assert, many in power in the EU today…)
The Orléans being referenced was a House of Bourbon segment that was essentially oriented toward markets and capitalism, but under the direction of a modestly powerful Monarch. NOT a ‘free market’… In many ways, IMHO, Europe has never really accepted the concept of limited government and a truly free society of individuals with individual actualization and liberty. France briefly played with The Republic, then empire again, then back to Republic etc. etc. Much of Europe has been under one thumb or another for most of their history, and even into the present. Sometimes I wonder if it is possible for someone from that context to understand what it is like to grow up in an essentially free land. (The USA was that way in my youth. Now “not so much”…) A place where all things are possible and you depend on yourself.
I mention this simply because I think it shapes the way the Europeans (who make most of the foundation of The Socialisms) see the world of the possible. One where there must be a large role for government, and where the choice is between Kings, Queens, Emperors, or The Commissar. Certainly not one where such folks with huge extant Fat Wallets are allowed to dominate a ‘free’ market that only they are large enough to exploit.
The devotees of Hegel divided into “Right” and “Left”. On the “Left” were several names of note. It was here that Marx and Engles start their journey, eventually ending in the deaths of millions under The Evil Bastard Stalin.
Another Young Hegelian, Karl Marx, was at first sympathetic with this strategy of attacking Christianity to undermine the Prussian establishment, but later formed divergent ideas and broke with the Young Hegelians, attacking their views in works such as The German Ideology. Marx concluded that religion is not the basis of the establishment’s power, but rather ownership of capital — processes that employ technologies, land, money and especially human labor-power to create surplus-value — lie at the heart of the establishment’s power. Marx (and Engels) considered religion as a component of the ideological superstructure of societies, and a pre-rational mode of thought, which nonetheless was wielded by ruling elites to obscure social relationships including the true basis of political power. In this latter sense, he described religion as “the opium of the people.”
Friedrich Engels co-developed with Karl Marx a materialist analysis of history, since known as historical materialism, beginning with their joint critique of the Young Hegelians and Feuerbach in the two books The Holy Family (1845) and The German Ideology (1852). A central premise of this materialist conception of history is that, generally speaking, social being precedes social consciousness. Together with Marx, Engels wrote The Communist Manifesto.
The Young Hegelians were not popular at the university due to their radical views on religion and society. Bauer was dismissed from his teaching post in 1842, and Marx and other students were warned that they should not bother submitting their dissertations at the University of Berlin, as they would certainly be poorly received due to their reputations.
Gee, that’s a heck of a legacy… Note, too, that it is here where the attack on Christianity is started, as a way to attack the foundations of the German Establishment.
OK, on to German Idealism.
German idealism was a theological, philosophical movement that emerged in Germany in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It reacted against Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and was closely linked with both romanticism and the revolutionary politics of the Enlightenment. The best-known thinkers in the movement were Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Friedrich Schelling, and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, while Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi, Gottlob Ernst Schulze, Karl Leonhard Reinhold, and Friedrich Schleiermacher were also major contributors.
So the 1700s to 1800s. The rest of that wiki isn’t all that interesting, though it has its moments. This is a hinge point, so things wander in conflicting directions. We have a strong influence in America, and a warping of it that leads to the line of “reason” that ends in Socialism.
Mostly I find this quote of interest:
George Santayana had strongly held opinions regarding this attempt to overcome the effects of Kant’s transcendental idealism.
German Idealism, when we study it as a product of its own age and country, is a most engaging phenomenon; it is full of afflatus, sweep, and deep searchings of the heart; but it is essentially romantic and egoistical, and all in it that is not soliloquy is mere system-making and sophistry. Therefore when it is taught by unromantic people ex cathedra, in stentorian tones, and represented as the rational foundation of science and religion, with neither of which it has any honest sympathy, it becomes positively odious – one of the worst impostures and blights to which a youthful imagination could be subjected.
—George Santayana, Winds of Doctrine, IV, i.
The basic point here is that Idealism in general, and German Idealism in particular, leads to the “Scientific” and non-Theological line of thought. On the one hand, it leads to much of our rational science. On the other hand, it leads to the fallacy that one can create a scientifically Idealized Society. To Socialism. (And, I would assert, the repugnance that Socialism and Communism often show toward God and Religion…)
From this emphasis on the physical, provable, and “real” and this tossing out of God and Religion comes Materialism.
In philosophy, the theory of materialism holds that the only thing that exists is matter or energy; that all things are composed of material and all phenomena (including consciousness) are the result of material interactions. In other words, matter is the only substance, and reality is identical with the actually occurring states of energy and matter.
To many philosophers, ‘materialism’ is synonymous with ‘physicalism’. However, materialists have historically held that everything is made of matter, but physics has shown that gravity, for example, is not made of matter in the traditional sense of “‘an inert, senseless substance, in which extension, figure, and motion do actually subsist’… So it is tempting to use ‘physicalism’ to distance oneself from what seems a historically important but no longer scientifically relevant thesis of materialism, and related to this, to emphasize a connection to physics and the physical sciences.” Therefore much of the generally philosophical discussion below on materialism may be relevant to physicalism.
Also related with materialism are the ideas of methodological naturalism (i.e. “let’s at least do science as though physicalism is true”) and metaphysical naturalism (i.e. “philosophy and science should operate according to the physical world, and that’s all that exists”).
A variety of schools of thought call themselves “materialist”, particularly those associated with Marxism, dialectical materialism and historical materialism. The term can be used pejoratively, for example in the popular usage of the term “vulgar materialism” by Marxists and post-Marxists. Contrasting philosophies include idealism, other forms of monism, dualism and pluralism.
OK, why mention this? Because it gets tied up in The Socialisms and how they evolve. No room for God, for theology, or for any belief that isn’t “material” and can not be shown to have a root in reality. It is the root from which moral relativism comes.
How can it be simply “wrong” to torture someone if it is for “the good of the nation”? How can it be simply “wrong” to order individuals to have at most one child if it is for “the good of the nation”? How can there be ANY thing that is “wrong” if the scientifically designed Central Committee finds it to be “for the good of all”? This is the slippery slope that lets the Evil Bastards do whatever they want, in the end. We see the corruption of science today in the world of “Global Warming” and the “climate science” that supports it where numbers are fudged, results are created ‘for effect’ and nobody feels bad about things like lying and pretending to be a board member to get private communications. After all, it is ‘for the greater good’, so must be the right thing to do. There is no larger moral compass. There is no “Golden Rule” of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” for those things are not “material”.
Like all things related to this path, there is an explosion of variations as they keep trying various mutations “This time for sure!”…
Dialectical materialism is a strand of Marxism, synthesizing Hegel’s dialectics, which proposes that every economic order grows to a state of maximum efficiency, while simultaneously developing internal contradictions and weaknesses that contribute to its systemic decay. Philosophically, dialectical materialism — that Man originates History through active consciousness — was originated by Moses Hess, and developed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Moreover, Joseph Dietzgen developed the hypotheses of dialectical materialism independent of Marx, Engels, and Hess. In Marxist philosophy, the proposition that dialectical materialism is the philosophical basis of Marxism is disputed, regarding the ideological status of science and naturalism in the philosophy of Karl Marx.
It makes up that base upon which is built the notion that Capitalism leads to its own internal conflict as stresses develop. As more of the “chips” end up in fewer hands of larger Evil Bastards and eventually the Proletariat, being left with nothing, revolt against the Capitalists and institute the Socialist Order. That the pie might keep on growing, that the children of The Evil Bastard might not be so bright, or so greedy, and might spend the inheritance, or that folks like Carnegie might give his wealth to create good works; those things were not held important to that “dialectic”…
Frankly, I find a lot of these “philosophical” writings to be just a whole lot of wandering in the dark trying to put very complex explanations on pretty simple stuff. Like the idea that history has this whole cycle of thesis and antithesis. How about just a tendency to evolve in good times until a group of Evil Bastards are in charge, then collapse into anarchy when things turn bad? Does it really take much more than that? But I’m not a Ph.D. so my philosophies tend to be less abstruse… I don’t need to “publish or perish” and don’t need to sound more complicated and more impressive than the other guy. I just have to see how things work and how they fit together. So I wander through a lot of this Intellectual Dreck to learn about it more than to absorb it. So we will press on. At the bottom of the wiki is a long list of folks who contributed to that ‘philosophy’ including links to the philosophy of the Soviet Union, among others. I’ll leave that level of detail for individual exploration.
As a minor sidebar, there is Metaphysical Naturalism. While mostly this is a philosophy of nature as reality, and has various followers of various sorts (including some ties into the natural sciences), there is also a minor “hook” into Marxism and through it to The Socialisms.
Marxism, Objectivism, and secular humanism
A number of politicized versions of naturalism have arisen in the Western world, most notably Marxism in the 19th century and Objectivism in the 20th century. Marxism is an expression of communist or socialist idealism within a naturalistic framework. Objectivism is an expression of capitalist idealism within a naturalistic framework. Most proponents of metaphysical naturalism in First World countries, however, are not Marxists nor Objectivists, and instead embrace the more moderate political ideals of secular humanism or cultural moral relativism.
Mostly I mention it as it forms the basis for why Communism and most of The Socialisms have a hatred of religion. It is the thread that leads to the ills of Moral Relativism and is the place where the Moral Compass is lost. It is also the foundation stone that requires secular humanism to be promoted and the removal of God from the Public Square. As soon as you see folks arguing for Secular Humanist and Moral Relativist goals, look deeper and you will often find a closet Socialist. They swim in the same ditch.
For those who are do not like my putting Marxism and Communism in the same bucket with the rest of The Socialisms; it is not at all unusual and is the normal way of classification:
Main articles: Marxism and Socialism (Marxism)
In the most influential of all socialist theories, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels believed the consciousness of those who earn a wage or salary (the “working class” in the broadest Marxist sense) would be moulded by their “conditions” of “wage-slavery”, leading to a tendency to seek their freedom or “emancipation” by overthrowing ownership of the means of production by capitalists. For Marx and Engels, conditions determine consciousness and ending the role of the capitalist class leads eventually to a classless society in which the state would wither away.
Marx wrote: “It is not the consciousness of [people] that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness.”
The Marxist conception of socialism is that of a specific historical phase that will displace capitalism and precede communism. The major characteristics of socialism (particularly as conceived by Marx and Engels after the Paris Commune of 1871) are that the proletariat will control the means of production through a workers’ state erected by the workers in their interests. Economic activity would still be organised through the use of incentive systems and social classes would still exist, but to a lesser and diminishing extent than under capitalism.
So all you advocates of Socialism Lite who think Communism and Marxism are some distant alien thing, they are not. They are your first cousin and bedfellows. Like Catholics and Episcopalians, far more alike than different, despite all their occasional bickering and fighting over who is in charge.
Prior to Marx, there were other socialists. The Marxist ideal was “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” (with the Party Bosses having Great Needs…) The earlier ideal had a bit more of the capitalist ethos in it. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his contribution.” so if you worked hard or did unpleasant work, you got a larger part of the communal pie.
In an interesting way, this leads to the peculiar point that the early Socialists use the works of David Ricardo to justify their type of Socialism. If you are unfamiliar with him, Recardo is one of the founding lights of Economics. The field pretty much begins with Adam Smith, Ricardo, and Malthus.
David Ricardo (18 April 1772 – 11 September 1823) was an English political economist, often credited with systematising economics, and was one of the most influential of the classical economists, along with Thomas Malthus, Adam Smith, and John Stuart Mill.[ He was also a member of Parliament, businessman, financier and speculator, who amassed a considerable personal fortune. Perhaps his most important contribution was the law of comparative advantage, a fundamental argument in favour of free trade among countries and of specialisation among individuals. Ricardo argued that there is mutual benefit from trade (or exchange) even if one party (e.g. resource-rich country, highly skilled artisan) is more productive in every possible area than its trading counterpart (e.g. resource-poor country, unskilled labourer), as long as each concentrates on the activities where it has a relative productivity advantage.
One might wonder how the ideas of a Rich Jewish Parliament Member could be turned into socialism. It rests on his theory of the value of labor.
His legacy and influence
David Ricardo’s ideas had a tremendous influence on later developments in economics. US economists rank Ricardo as the second most influential economic thinker, behind Adam Smith, prior to the twentieth century.
With his highly logical arguments, he has become the theoretical father of the classical political economy. Schumpeter coined an expression Ricardian vice, which indicates that rigorous logic does not provide a good economic theory. This criticism applies also to most neoclassical theories, which make heavy use of mathematics, but are, according to him, theoretically unsound, because the conclusion being drawn does not logically follow from the theories used to defend it.
Ricardo’s writings gave rise to a number of early socialists in the 1820s, who argued that his value theory had radical implications. They argued that, in view of labor theory of value, labor produces the entire product and the profits capitalists get are a result of exploitations of workers. These include Thomas Hodgskin, William Thompson, John Francis Bray, and Percy Ravenstone.
I’ll leave the biographies of those Ricardian Socialists for your individual exploration. Just realize that the dogma about labor being all that has value, and the efforts of the Capital Owner being a form of social theft, come from a radical reinterpretation of the ‘value theory’.
Ricardo’s most famous work is his Principles of Political Economy and Taxation (1817). Ricardo opens the first chapter with a statement of the labour theory of value. Later in this chapter, he demonstrates that prices do not correspond to this value. He retained the theory, however, as an approximation. The labour theory of value states that the relative price of two goods is determined by the ratio of the quantities of labour required in their production. His labour theory of value, however, required several assumptions:
both sectors have the same wage rate and the same profit rate;
the capital employed in production is made up of wages only;
the period of production has the same length for both goods.
Ricardo himself realized that the second and third assumptions were quite unrealistic and hence admitted two exceptions to his labour theory of value:
production periods may differ;
the two production processes may employ instruments and equipment as capital and not just wages, and in very different proportions.
Ricardo continued to work on his value theory to the end of his life.
So we find that Socialism has, at its core, a belief in a 1/2 finished theory, that even the author admitted ‘had issues’ and where the caveats were left out. We find a lot of that in the history of Socialism. Things that are not complete, lionized and turned into iconic idealized morally relative “truths”. Then folks extrapolate them to things like ‘all capital ought to belong to the people because it was all the product of their stolen labor’. You will find that kind of talk all over the place on this May Day.
Ricardian socialism refers to a branch of socialist economic thought based upon the work of economist David Ricardo. The Ricardian socialists reasoned that the free-market was the route to socialism, and that rent, profit and interest were not natural outgrowths of the free-market. The central beliefs of Ricardian socialism are that all exchange value is created from labor, and that labor is entitled to all it produces.
Ricardian socialism is a putative form of socialism based on the arguments made by Ricardo that the equilibrium value of commodities approximated producer prices when those commodities were in elastic supply, and that these producer prices corresponded to the embodied labor; and that profit, interest and rent were deductions from this exchange-value. This is deduced from the axiom of Ricardo and Adam Smith that labor is the source of all value.
The first imputation that early British and Irish socialists were influenced by Ricardo is made by Marx in his 1846 Poverty of Philosophy:
It never ceases to amaze me how some folks can take an idea, an run off a cliff with it, bending and breaking it out of all recognition.
The taproot that blended with Ricardo to end up at Socialism was the Utopian movement. This led to a variety of communes and various attempts at building a more equitable, perfected, and fair shared effort. We find a variety of communes, co-ops, and Utopian movements continuously tried, typically failing, and then being tried again. Some last for a fair amount of time, but few are what would be thought a rousing success. (They typically spend too much time being ‘fair’ and not enough time having an Evil Bastard assuring they will win in a competitive world.)
The Utopians begin early on. I find this one particular amusing:
Saint-Simonianism was a French political and social movement of the first half of the 19th century, inspired by the ideas of Claude Henri de Rouvroy, comte de Saint-Simon (1760–1825).
Saint-Simon has been “variously portrayed as a utopian socialist, the founder of sociology and a prescient madman”. His ideas, expressed largely through a succession of journals such as l’Industrie (1816), La politique (1818) and L’Organisateur (1819–20) centered on a perception that growth in industrialization and scientific discovery would have profound changes on society. He believed, nonetheless, that society would restructure itself by abandoning traditional ideas of temporal and spiritual power, an evolution that would lead, inevitably, to a productive society based on, and benefiting from, a ” … union of men engaged in useful work”, the basis of “true equality”. These ideas influenced Auguste Comte (who was, for a time, Saint-Simon’s secretary), Karl Marx, John Stuart Mill, and many other thinkers and social theorists.
One can’t help but think that an apt description… It also shows how Socialism and Sociology have been ‘joined at the hip’ from the beginning. It then comes as no surprise that Sociology departments around the world are largely Socialist Enterprises.
At the bottom of that page there is a list of folks associated with his “movement”, for further exploration. One minor note is that they bought Le Globe, so one can trace its editorial origins to an interesting source.
Following Saint-Simon’s death, his followers began to differ as to how to promulgate his ideas. A ‘charismatic’ faction, led by Barthélemy Prosper Enfantin purchased the newspaper Le Globe as their official organ, and formed an increasingly religiously-minded ritualistic group based on a community founded at Ménilmontant, before being banned by the authorities in 1832. Following this some of Enfantin’s followers visited North Africa or the Middle East in search of Messianic revelations, and the formal Saint-Simonian movement expired.
However, others who had been associated with the group and were not so interested in the increasingly bizarre antics of Enfantin, (such as Olinde Rodrigues and Gustave d’Eichthal) developed Saint-Simonian notions practically and involved themselves in the development of the French economy, founding a number of leading concerns including the Suez Canal Company and the bank Crédit Mobilier.
We also see the early introduction of Socialist ideologues into the French Economy.
But the ideas did not stop there, with John Stuart Mill they ran off to England and mutated a bit again. This is where we see The Progressive Movement picking up. It shares roots with what became Socialism, and periodically they cross pollinate.
Mill supported the Malthusian theory of population. By population he meant the number of the working class only. He was therefore concerned about the growth in number of labourers who worked for hire. He believed that population control was essential for improving the condition of the working class so that they might enjoy the fruits of the technological progress and capital accumulation. He propagated birth control as against moral restraint.
Here we see two important elements, still seen today. “Population Control” is for the masses, not the elite… so when you hear “we need population control” remember that it does not apply to the speaker…
And the notion that we need to kill off the excess labor to give it a better life.
These same ideas circle around in all The Socialisms to one degree or another. Progressives of the 1920’s and 1930s even into the 1940s embraced it whole heartedly. Their brethren in Italian Fascism and especially the Nazis emulated them. Yes, we here in the USA were the model for the Nazis in their ‘population control of undesirables’. The USA had an active Eugenics program busy sterilizing anyone deemed ‘undesirable’… all nice and ‘scientific’ and all… With particular emphasis on dark races, deaf folks, anyone in institutional care, etc. “That’s Progress”ives for you.
It leads back to this source. The Utopian Socialists and their Idealism to “do good” to you if you want it or not…
We also find here the root of the current Watermelon Green Movement:
Mill’s views on the environment
Mill demonstrated an early insight into the value of the natural world – in particular in Book IV, chapter VI of “Principles of Political Economy”: “Of the Stationary State” in which Mill recognised wealth beyond the material, and argued that the logical conclusion of unlimited growth was destruction of the environment and a reduced quality of life. He concluded that a stationary state could be preferable to neverending economic growth:
I cannot, therefore, regard the stationary state of capital and wealth with the unaffected aversion so generally manifested towards it by political economists of the old school.
If the earth must lose that great portion of its pleasantness which it owes to things that the unlimited increase of wealth and population would extirpate from it, for the mere purpose of enabling it to support a larger, but not a better or a happier population, I sincerely hope, for the sake of posterity, that they will be content to be stationary, long before necessity compel them to it.
This is the root for the ongoing paranoia about “unlimited growth” and the need to control folks to prevent their consumption. Never mind that our continued ingenuity keep pushing boundaries out faster than consumption and never mind that anything can be a resource. This is the point where the Fear Of Running Out is anchored.
No egalitarian is Mill; we see here the root of the notion that we ought to be equal in having the vote, but some animals ought to be more equal than others:
Mill supported legislation that would have granted extra voting power to university graduates on the grounds that they were in a better position to judge what would be best for society. It should be noted that, in this example, Mill did not intend to devalue uneducated people and would certainly have advocated sending the poor but talented to universities: he believed that education, and not the intrinsic nature of the educated, qualified them to have more influence in government.
He started off in favor of markets, and slowly drifts into ever more interventionist forms. We see the early push against alcohol (reaching a zenith in Prohibition and in the modern War On Drugs – another waste of $Billions and millions of lives via incarceration.) Socialists of all stripes have never seen a natural system that did not need “intervention”.
Mill’s early economic philosophy was one of free markets. However, he accepted interventions in the economy, such as a tax on alcohol, if there were sufficient utilitarian grounds. He also accepted the principle of legislative intervention for the purpose of animal welfare. Mill originally believed that “equality of taxation” meant “equality of sacrifice” and that progressive taxation penalised those who worked harder and saved more and was therefore “a mild form of robbery”.
Given an equal tax rate regardless of income, Mill agreed that inheritance should be taxed. A utilitarian society would agree that everyone should be equal one way or another. Therefore receiving inheritance would put one ahead of society unless taxed on the inheritance. Those who donate should consider and choose carefully where their money goes—some charities are more deserving than others. Considering public charities boards such as a government will disperse the money equally. However, a private charity board like a church would disperse the monies fairly to those who are in more need than others.
Later he altered his views toward a more socialist bent, adding chapters to his Principles of Political Economy in defence of a socialist outlook, and defending some socialist causes. Within this revised work he also made the radical proposal that the whole wage system be abolished in favour of a co-operative wage system. Nonetheless, some of his views on the idea of flat taxation remained, albeit in a slightly toned down form.
Mill’s Principles of Political Economy, first published in 1848, was one of the most widely read of all books on economics in the period. As Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations had during an earlier period, Mill’s Principles dominated economics teaching. In the case of Oxford University it was the standard text until 1919. The text that replaced it was written by Cambridge’s Alfred Marshall.
And with that kind of impact is it any wonder we got Progressive Taxation, taxes on inheritance, and a general drift toward socialism?
There is a timeline of the history of Socialism here:
That includes a lot of the various revolutions and a load of when various committees held meetings. Starkly absent are the history of the abject falures (such as fascism and Nazism). One wonders how long before the history of the USSR will be faded away…
Utopian Socialism has its own category listing:
The Utopian movement had several types. Some religious, some not. One branch wandered off to Socialism and even Marx talks about Utopian Socialism.
Utopian Socialism is a term used to define the first currents of modern socialist thought as exemplified by the work of Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier, and Robert Owen, which inspired Karl Marx and other early socialists. However, visions of imaginary ideal societies, which competed with revolutionary social-democratic movements, were viewed as not being grounded in the material conditions of society and as reactionary. Although it is technically possible for any set of ideas or any person living at any time in history to be a utopian socialist, the term is most often applied to those socialists who lived in the first quarter of the 19th century who were ascribed the label “utopian” by later socialists as a negative term, in order to imply naivete and dismiss their ideas as fanciful or unrealistic.
Religious sects whose members live communally, such as the Hutterites, for example, are not usually called “utopian socialists”, although their way of living is a prime example. They have been categorized as religious socialists by some. Likewise, modern intentional communities based on socialist ideas could also be categorized as “utopian socialist”.
It is at this point we see the root of Socialism reaching back to an earlier, well intentioned, Utopian movement. That a later and more jaded group of Socialists used the term in a derogatory way does not diminish the connection. I’m just going to stick the section about Utopian literature here. If you read it with a mind to the sweep of history, you can see how the original idealism of a grand perfection slowly mutates, trying for success but running into failures.
Utopian socialism in literature and in practice
Perhaps the first utopian socialist was Thomas More (1478-1535), who wrote about an imaginary socialist society in his satire Utopia, which was published in 1516. The contemporary definition of the English word “utopia” derives from this work.
Saint-Simonianism was a French political and social movement of the first half of the 19th century, inspired by the ideas of Claude Henri de Rouvroy, comte de Saint-Simon (1760–1825). His ideas influenced Auguste Comte (who was, for a time, Saint-Simon’s secretary), Karl Marx, John Stuart Mill, and many other thinkers and social theorists.
Robert Owen (1771–1858) was a successful Welsh businessman who devoted much of his profits to improving the lives of his employees. His reputation grew when he set up a textile factory in New Lanark, Scotland, co-funded by his teacher, the utilitarian Jeremy Bentham, and introduced shorter working hours, schools for children and renovated housing. He wrote about his ideas in his book A New View of Society, which was published in 1813, and An Explanation of the Cause of Distress which pervades the civilized parts of the world in 1823. He also set up an Owenite commune called New Harmony in Indiana, USA. This collapsed when one of his business partners ran off with all the profits. Owen’s main contribution to socialist thought was the view that human social behavior is not fixed or absolute, and that human beings have the free will to organize themselves into any kind of society they wished.
Charles Fourier (1772–1837) was by far the most utopian of the socialists. Rejecting the industrial revolution altogether and thus the problems that arose with it, he made various fanciful claims about the ideal world he envisioned. Despite some clearly non-socialist inclinations, he contributed significantly – if indirectly – to the socialist movement. His writings about turning work into play influenced the young Karl Marx and helped him devise his theory of alienation. Also a contributor to feminism, Fourier invented the concept of phalanstère, units of people based on a theory of passions and of their combination. Several colonies based on Fourier’s ideas were founded in the United States by Albert Brisbane and Horace Greeley.
Étienne Cabet (1788–1856) who was influenced by Robert Owen, published a book in 1840 entitled Travel and adventures of Lord William Carisdall in Icaria in which he described an ideal communalist society. His attempts to form real socialist communities based on his ideas, through the Icarian movement however, did not survive, but one such community was the precursor of Corning, Iowa. Possibly inspired by Christianity, he coined the word “communism” and influenced other thinkers, including Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
Edward Bellamy (1850–1898), published Looking Backward in 1888, a utopian romance novel about a future socialist society. In Bellamy’s utopia, property was held in common and money replaced with a system of equal credit for all. Valid for a year and non-transferable between individual persons, expenditure of this credit was to be tracked via ‘credit-cards’ (which bear no resemblance to modern credit cards which are tools of debt-finance). Labour between the ages of 21-40 was to be compulsory, and organised via various departments of an ‘Industrial Army’ to which most citizens belonged. However working hours were to be cut drastically due to technological advances (including organisational). People were expected to be motivated by a Religion of Solidarity, and e.g. criminal behavior was treated as a form of mental illness or ‘atavism’. It was the second or third ranking best seller of its time (after Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Ben Hur). Bellamy published a sequel Equality in 1897 as a reply to his critics, and from which the Industrial Army and other authoritarian aspects were absent.
William Morris (1834–1896) published News from Nowhere in 1890, partly as a response to Bellamy’s Looking Backwards which he equated with the socialism of Fabians such as Sydney Webb. Morris’ vision of the future socialist society was centred around his concept of useful work as opposed to useless toil, and the redemption of human labour. Morris believed that all work should be artistic, in the sense that the worker should find it both pleasurable and an outlet for creativity. Morris’ conception of labour thus bears strong resemblance to Fourier’s, whilst Bellamy’s (i.e. the reduction of labour to a minimum) is more akin to that of Saint-Simon or indeed Marx.
The Brotherhood Church in Britain and the Life and Labor Commune in Russia were based on the Christian anarchist ideas of Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910).
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809–1865) and Peter Kropotkin (1842–1921) wrote about anarchist forms of socialism in their books. Proudhon wrote What is Property? (1840) and The System of Economic Contradictions, or The Philosophy of Poverty (1847). Kropotkin wrote The Conquest of Bread (1892) and Fields, Factories and Workshops (1912). Many of the anarchist collectives formed in Spain, especially in Aragon and Catalonia, during the Spanish Civil War were based on their ideas.
Many participants in the historical kibbutz movement in Israel were motivated by utopian socialist ideas, but few examples of this type of kibbutz remain.
Augustin Souchy (1892–1984) spent most of his life investigating and participating in many kinds of socialist communities. He wrote about his experiences in his autobiography Beware! Anarchist!.
The philosopher and pornographer Marquis de Sade (1740-1814) anticipated Charles Fourier in his project of a harmonious utopia based on the free play of sexual passion in the pamphlet Yet Another Effort, Frenchmen, If You Would Become Republicans, found in Philosophy in the Bedroom.
Behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner (1904–1990) published Walden Two in 1948. The Twin Oaks Community was originally based on his ideas.
Ursula K. Le Guin (born 1929) wrote about an impoverished anarchist planet in her book The Dispossessed, which was published in 1974. The anarchists agree to leave their home planet and colonize the barren planet in order to avoid a bloody revolution.
I think you get the picture. A whole lot of fuzzy idealism, often going down in flames as it confronts reality. Tried again and again, never learning from the past.
Thomas More is from back around 1500, so the Utopians predate the Socialist variation by quite a while.
Sir Thomas More ( /ˈmɔr/; 7 February 1478 – 6 July 1535), known by Catholics as Saint Thomas More since 1935, was an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman, and noted Renaissance humanist. He was an important councillor to Henry VIII of England and was Lord Chancellor from October 1529 to 16 May 1532. He is commemorated by the Church of England as a “Reformation martyr”. He was an opponent of the Protestant Reformation and in particular of Martin Luther and William Tyndale.
More coined the word “utopia” – a name he gave to the ideal and imaginary island nation, the political system of which he described in Utopia published in 1516. He opposed the King’s separation from the Catholic Church and refused to accept the King as Supreme Head of the Church of England, a title which had been given by parliament through the Act of Supremacy of 1534. He was imprisoned in 1534 for his refusal to take the oath required by the First Succession Act, because the act disparaged papal power and Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. In 1535, he was tried for treason, convicted on perjured testimony and beheaded.
Utopia contrasts the contentious social life of European states with the perfectly orderly, reasonable social arrangements of Utopia and its environs (Tallstoria, Nolandia, and Aircastle). In Utopia, with communal ownership of land, private property does not exist, men and women are educated alike, and there is almost complete religious toleration. Some take the novel’s principal message to be the social need for order and discipline rather than liberty. The country of Utopia tolerates different religious practices but does not tolerate atheists. Hythlodeaus theorises that if a man did not believe in a god or in an afterlife he could never be trusted, because he would not acknowledge any authority or principle outside himself.
And with that, we reach the final end of the beginnings of Socialism. In a work of fiction, aimed at an indirect criticism of the King, resulting in an “Off with his head” moment.
So now you know.
Now, just for fun, “play it forward” in your mind. From a work of fiction, to attempts at real world Utopian Communes that regularly fail, to Mr. Mills ideas about control, to a 1/2 finished economic theory about value and labor turned into a base belief, to a Marxist twist into a struggle of the classes (class warfare) and on to the USSR – Stalin and the various purges, Fascism, Nazism and The Progressive push for euthanasia and forced sterilizations, eventually to Mao and The Cultural Revolution (one could toss in Pol Pot and the Khmer rouge for another 3 million dead… but that would be piling on…)
And folks wonder why I’m not all sweetness and kiss-kiss with The Socialisms…
Personally, I’m more inclined toward the Naturalist and Capitalist line. Fewer folks end up dead that way. Maybe not as much “justice”, but I’d rather a bit less justice and more prosperity and long life.
Now, too, you can see why it took me so long to do this one. It could easily be twice this long and still not complete. But this is ‘enough’, I think, to capture the historical roots of The Socialisms and give a sense of what led to them, and why they so regularly fail. What they do well, and where they go horridly wrong.
And on Al Jazeera news…
Bolivia has just nationalized the electrical system that was owned by a Spanish company. 75% of the Bolivian grid. The excuse given was that the Spanish were not investing enough…
Gee, we want more investment so we assure that NOBODY wants to invest here…
(Bolivia has a pretty good history of nationalizing industries with a new one announced each May Day.)
Needless to say, Bolivia is on my “Do Not Even THINK of investing there” list. I’m reluctant with any Socialist Government, but once they start nationalizing things, the Evil Bastard in them just can’t stop the greedy impulse to take more.
Chile announced a large claim on the assets of Pinochet, I think it was. Reparations are another one of those favored tools of expropriation.
Thanks for the find effort to help us with history as well as pointing us toward the “opportunity” for a good and prosperous life for all — of our own choosing. Stay away from those socialisms that cannot see the Evil Bastard within! I still cannot come to terms with current reality that Baby Bush, whose “big government” expanionism, which should have cured us from that political illness, nevertheless led to Obama — and Democrats massively transformed into marxist-AGWers who bow to the banksters.
It helps to realize that “Progressives” are on both sides of the isle…
At one point the wiki on Nixon had the note that he was “the last Progressive president”, but then we got the Clintons claiming the name Progressive and Hillary saying “I’m not a Liberal, I’m a Progressive!” as she tried to change the color of her stripes… but I think she found out that a lot of us remembered the first name change the other way and it was too soon to resurrect the old term. Nixon gave us the EPA, as just one example.
It’s really pretty simple: IF they do not drastically cut the size of the US Government, by 20% or more, in real terms and NOT just “growth of the projections”, they are all in favor of large Central Control. As not one dime has actually been cut from real expenditures, year over year, while growth of government runs unchecked: It is self evident that NONE of the folks running the government from both sides is in favor of liberty and self determination at the lowest level possible (preferably in the hands of the individual citizen).
Perhaps it is because the voters are willing to vote for themselves the goodies; but that just means that the change of the Constitution to direct election of senators has had the desired effect of forcing all politicians to be Progressive Socialists.
I see free market capitalism as the ultimate socialism, at least in the way it was for probably the first 100 years of our country. At around the turn of the 20th century is when things started turning for the bad and it is basically due to attempts at government to manage markets. Coolidge attempted to roll much of that back, but it didn’t last long.
If you think of the US as having a very unique government where the bulk of the power lies with the state governments and the people themselves, and the notion that private property and private enterprise is sacred, we have the ultimate socialism. The “state” in this case being “the people” owns all the capital. Now the distribution of that capital is uneven, to be sure, but that is done according to the uneven valuation people attach to certain things. Microsoft Windows was highly valued by many people, BeOS, not so much. In free market enterprise, people are free to follow their heart’s desire if they wish or they are free to work for someone else who is following theirs. You can be part of a team, or you can strike out on your own.
In this way it is like an ecosystem. Millions of economic experiments are conducted every day in the form if risks taken. Some succeed, some fail. That is as it should be. We don’t have artificial means keeping certain enterprises alive just because they are a friend of the local political leader, or we aren’t supposed to, but in socialism, that is exactly what you get. The more socialist an economy is, the more you have certain people being established as the ruling clique and being placed in charge of the various enterprises of the state.
I see your point that in Capitalism, most capital is under the direct control of “the people”, but the thing that sets Socialism as an economic system apart is the “scientific” and “rational” decisions about the means of production made by a central authority acting on behalf of the Collective of the people. That is the antithesis of capitalism.
Most of what you describe as good is the Emergent Behaviour that arises out of the few rules of self interest that drive markets. That is exactly the thing that a Central Planning board can never do.
Pingback: The Chiefio…on ‘revolting’ socialism, an essay | pindanpost
… and let’s not forget Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his contribution:
There by doing away with individual accountability..
Translated page here:
@ E.M. Very nice post! Goes to a much greater depth and detail, but very much fits with my own reading and analysis. The one thing that becomes clearer for me whenever I get into this stuff is that, when initially set up our social systems seem to have checks and balances built into them, but as the system develops either the ‘Evil Bastards’ or the ‘Idealistic Progressives’ figure out how to remove these checks and balances allowing them to ‘game’ the system.
Perhaps what we need is a long-lived benevolent tyrant to control us child-like humans. I’m thinking along the lines of The Tyrant (the human/sandworm mutation) at the end of the ‘Dune’ series of books by Frank Herbert or the Minds in The Culture novels by Iain M Banks, or possibly even the Lensmen from the novels by E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith. Just idle thoughts :-) Maybe even some fodder for your own burgeoning novel
Very interesting! Though I haven’t read and digested everything yet, I immediately thought you might be interested in reading the book “The Rebel” by Albert Camus. It’s mere existence is quite interesting: when it was released in 1951, it made Camus almost a “persona non grata” among intellectuals in Paris (which were very communism-friendly at that time), because of his search for the common roots of evil in Communism and Nazism. His criticism of Hegel’s philosophy (as one important of those roots) is rather interesting and devastating, if I remember right (it’s been a couple of years since I read it).
Nice discussion between Ron Paul and Paul Krugman
A very good detailed post! Perhaps defining the “Evil Bastard” and what is evil about him in more detail is important. The word you used, “tyranny” is accurate in my view, but needs more clarity. I think the thoughts of Max Weber bring some understanding to the conflict between free choice and individual liberty, andthe doing of work for the greater benedfit of society as a whole.
Weber taught that the protestant work ethic (a term he coined) when exposed to capitalism, (in this case the striving for personal gain) morphed into evil selfishness, as the religious ideals of an all inclusive brotherhood, and Protestant ideals of simplicity and working hard, but not for self gain, were lost due to the evil influence of capitalism. Reiterated in a different way, it was Weber’s view was that it was the loss of this selfless religious restraint, due to the spirit of capitalism, (the idea of a rational pursuit for personal prosperity) that was an inevitable result of the combining of the protestant work ethic with capitalism It is thought by some that his main ideals mostly closely reflect what Europe has become today,
So Webber saw religion as the restraint on greed, whereas Communist see the “Collective” as the restraint, and desire no competition from religion. Indeed, seeing the abuse and horrors of past religious history, they attempt another way, with the disastourous results you mention. What both forget is that a man’s true religion is not in his outward belief, but in his inward motivations. A “greedy man” ( IE, a man who cares nothing for others in that he is willing to destroy them to have his own way) can wear the cloak of any belief system, religious or not, but it is only his outward garb, whereas his true religion, is his inward motivation.
This selfishness within an individual always manifests as a desire for power, the ability to obtain whatever is desired. Thus the paradox of the collective perspective is clear. In the desire to help the common person, they remove all power from him, and place it within the hands of a few people with the stated goal of doing what is best for the collective, but the true nature of people as selfish is not restrained, and now has a clear path to where the only power is, the Government. It is in my view a fundamental mistake that Weber considered the idea of personal gain and power evil. It is only when the desire for power and personal gain is used to run over the rights and free choice of others that the “evil bastard” appears. And statist Goverments, of definition, run over the rights and free choice of others and take power from the individual.
In the US capitalist republic the acceptance of selfish desire is not denied, or labeled bad, only the seeking of control over others to achieve power is thought of as bad, thus Govt is a “necessary evil” to be severely limited, and religion is to be separated from the limited state, and the larger Federal Power, is mitigated by local state govt power, which is further limited by individual rights and assumed responsbilities. I agree with your postulation on the failure of the US system to intially prevent the power of corporations to manifest greed in the “evil bastard” way of running over others to achieve their own desires. I also agree with the excuse you gave them at that time in history.
All of the above is why I suggest that a logical understanding on what actions and thought patterns universally engenders happiness within individuals is necessary for any system to operate effectively, The US system is the best “live and let live” (a phrase progressives love) system, specifically due to its republic / capitalist system, and within any society but particularly a large non-homogenous society this has many advantages. The “let live” part is easily forgotten in socialism, and both the “let live” and the “live” part are discarded in murderous communism.
The fact that Marxism advocated a revolutionary overthrow of capitalism that would lead to socialism before eventually transforming into communism, after class antagonisms and the state ceased to exist; is I fear lost on many who see themselves as democrats.
@E.M. Really you are a Devil, as the Devil only is in the details, as you are: So you are a very patience guy (a short colon indeed to avoid internal paroxysms or “currents”), who digs, if possible, to the core of any issue, as you just did, but you missed the fact that when we changed from monarchies to supposedly democratic states, we really “changed drool by snot”, as the real ones behind such an “enlightenment” and revolutions were the former monarchies´lenders, which saw big business turning the properties of monarchies and the church to their “blessed” hands, so we went from the tyranny of a known few to the a few and, as unknown for the majority, hidden tyrants.
In the meantime they just care we should be properly “amused” and “busy”, or “bullied”, so as not to realize their control of the world´s assets.
They succeeded in gaining this control by using those who, at that time, were not in power and who had in their peculiar psyche such unbecoming properties of human beings called “self-conceit”, “ambition”, etc., summarizing: a lack of any principles whatsoever, or in other words, those who were not Noble. Thus, in order to use these peoples for their chrematistic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrematistics) purposes, they invented the then almost forgotten old egyptian method of “initiating” them, as to convince them they were the chosen ones to be the enlightened rulers of the rest of “silly”, uneducated, and incapable to comprehend the hidden principles of the laws issued by the Great Architect of the World himself, people. (this they did it so just in case some of their newly initiated individuals had some remnants of conscience or virtue, so they were totally convinced that, whatever the case, they would do the “best for humanity”).
So we can classify socialists, liberals, or liberal conservatives, new age scientists, philosophers, academicians or whatever they may call themselves, in several classes:
– They who really know what they do and know their masters and deal directly with them.
– Those who just know they can profit if they follow “consensus”.
– Those who really believe they are doing the “best for humanity” and for the prevalence of the ideals of “Libertè,Egalitè et Fraternitè”.
Of course, in this last class, are automatically included, all those “good hearted” people, who innocently believe they are doing good for their fellow human beings or “the planet”.
Of course, there is a big general class which include all citizens of those countries which, having inherited from their ancestors that very acute quality called “suspicion”, who usually and always apparently “agree”, “thanks” or even bow before any “master” or “pseudo master”, having a position of command or dominion, but who do not believe anything, and think they will some day, will take the appropriate “care” of such “masters” and “pseudo masters”, by separating their self admired “heads” from its bodies, in due time, like the chinese, indian, american indians (north and south), etc. so they just “wait at their front doors, knowing for sure, that they will see the corpses of their enemies passing by”.
I have often thought about why the “Evil Bastards” always seem to rise to positions of power regardless of the political system in place. It turns out there’s a very good explanation from psychology on a medical disorder called psychopathy or sociopathy. Essentially, psychopaths are physically incapable of empathy or compassion, they lack a conscious. They can lie, cheat, steal, hurt others without any feelings of remorse, or that they did anything wrong. Psychopaths will do anything to get what they want, and usually that’s more and more power to control and get what they want. It’s a condition that afflicts about 4% of the total world population. That’s not very many, but enough to manipulate and control the masses. The smart ones will generally be heads of state and heads of corporations. The very smart ones control and manipulate from behind their puppets, so no one knows who they are. The not so smart ones are the ones that usually end up in prison.
The links below are much better at describing the conditions of a psychopath and why they are attracted to positions of power and influence. It’s also good to learn the traits of a psychopath to avoid them within our own dealings.
Found this Youtube video series, which explains how I see the political spectrum.
The political Spectrum Explain Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_uY9y8LOio
The political Spectrum Explain Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Uv9S_jJrTQ
The political Spectrum Explain Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2cRWkM5ea4
Any system that’s up against human nature will fail. The sin of pride (selfishness) ultimately dooms every good intention. Systems that diffuse the effect of pride have better odds. So laissez-faire capitalism has a chance of working when it can keep T.E.Bs from monopolyzing. Nonetheless, some things should or must be done communally — think interstate roads and national defense — because of the size and timeframe of the problems to be addressed. Postal services are not of this dimension.
@E.M. Smith and George. I remain pretty much convinced that you all (like most conservatives/TeaPartierss today as well as like Glenn Beck) are ahistorically discussing “progressivism”. Yes, I understand it occurs today across the aisle, but there were many reasons at the time (end-19th, beginning 20th C) for the “need for more/some government” authority in society. E.M., both you and George believe that the direct election of senators by the states is one root of progressivism/socialism take-over. That may well be true today. However, at the turn of the century, the Robber Barons, the winning corporations, the then Evil Bastards(and I admire their inventions and creativity), found competition anathema and fought tooth and nail against it — wherever it reared its ugly (to them) head. They had bought most state houses as well as the federal government. The Progressive movement (Populist before it) had its origins in the desire/demand for more access to opportunity and prosperity. Yes, it also had its idealists (purify selves and governments by intelligent control– just like social conservatives today, IMHO). And it had its Evil Twin marxist-socialists who were consicously after total control in order to become the new controlling-elite Evil Bastards (social science), with the power of life and death over everyone.
I believe it is very important to sort out all the intellectual and philosophical varieties and how they have fared (about which you have done a masterful job, E.M.) Simultaneously, the historical realities of the time must be addressed. Farming and middle class (owners and upper-level workers) opportunities were declining. They felt squeezed between plutocrats and unwashed laborers — immigrants who were pouring in and using their hopefulness for a better life to manage horrendous working conditions. The then Progressive movement was as much a response to this reality of lost opportunity (being taken away from them) as to any socialist ideas.
Woodrow Wilson is probably the worst of the Evil-Bastard-Progressive leaders, the most rabid idealist, but he never would have been elected except for the split in the Republican Party (TR running as Progressive). This tragic accident/circumstance of our history prevented the kind of reform that might have brought a compromise between the then Evil Bastards and the limit-setters (for the purpose of reinstating competition so that they could join the game. Many reasonable limits were put in place in the first part of the 20th century — and some unreasonable, of course.
This might be a stretch, but I will use Wikipedia numbers to make a case. Prior to 1896 Dems and Repubs were slugging it out. Repulicans under McKinley won the “hearts” of the American people with 51% of the 1896 election popular vote. In 1900 McKinley solidified his (Republican) position — 51.6%. Those “unusual circumstances” of history led to his assassination and Theodore Roosevelt became President. In 1904 he won with 56.4% of the vote. Think conservation, national parks and forests, trust busting (but not too much; capitalism essential; limit corrupt, illegal practices), pure food and drug act (people, consumers, can be protected from greed), workers have rights (1902 anthracite coal strike), etc. Taft in 1908 kept 51% of the vote. In 1912 TR left the Repubs and ran on the Progressive ticket. Together Roosevelt and Taft won 50.6 % of the vote. In that election Wilson won only 41.8%. In 1916 he raised his percentage only to 49.2. Never a “majority”. When the people spoke in the 1920s it was Harding 60.3%, Coolidge 54%, and Hoover 58%. Unfortunately, there was no thoughtful continuation of limit-setting at the same time entrepreneurialism and the free market was encouraged. Then global history took over — as well as Evil Bastard greed.
An important opportunity was lost in those early years of the 20th C that I have been hoping Americans would/will re-visit and re-work. I will believe that a beginning has been made when all government spending has been limited to 18% of GDP as a baseline. Where is “my” TeaParty on this one? I still cannot believe the rag-tag assortment of candidates that “conservatives/TeaPartiers” swooned over, one after another. And to settle on Santorum? I’m outta there!
You must type very fast. I couldn’t even pack all that stuff into my brain, let alone type it all back out. Good grief! The ChiefIO doesn’t muse, he creates tomes.
Thank you, E.M., for this excellent historical information on the struggle between citizens and various forms of government, economics and religion, and thanks to others for sharing their opinions on this subject.
My analysis is more chronologically shallow, only going back to 6 Aug 1945.
Listening to a concert last night, I started drafting a message on two current problems that were triggered by the “nuclear fires” that consumed Hiroshima on 6 Aug 1945:
1. Abrupt loss of integrity in government science.
2. Abrupt loss of civilian control over government.
Prior to 6 Aug 1945, artists, musicians, poets, saints and scientists celebrated and openly communicated information on the great benevolent reality that surrounds and sustains life.
After 1945 the idea of a benevolent reality vanished from the scientific community. World leaders funded and used scientific research as a tool of Godless, fear-mongering to control the masses.
The rest of this chronologically shallow draft message is here:
Thank-you! Very good lucid piece covering aspects that are so easily confused (left, right, fascist, communist). Readable and very informative. A lot of it I already knew, or had read about and forgotten – the rest was an enjoyable education.
I may well be borrowing from this to educate a few of less well informed.
“Stalin in the USSR was in effect no different from Old King George … a leader who has astounding power over the lives and property of others, with a largely unfettered hand. ” What a testament to the indoctrination you must have suffered in elementary scholl.
You’ve got a long article and already declared it incomplete. Any additions would be, necessarily, comparably long — but might as easily distract from your purpose as aid.
On the off chance you haven’t thought about it, however, let’s mention Edmund Burke and the Whigs.
The balance of forces among Catholics, Calvinists, Anglicans and others leading up to the Whiggish notion of “factions”, and Burke’s own multi-cultural faith backgrounds, might raise interesting wrinkles on the canvas you’re painting.
The US First Amendment setting forth as first right among those enumerated arises from efforts to keep church forces in play, but only at the state level, not federal. The phrases “separation of church and state” and “wall of separation” arise from Jefferson’s letters to Baptists, further taking the federal power OUT of that particular scrum. (That is, if the Connecticut established church wanted to persecute American citizens within Connecticut, based on faith alone, Jefferson wasn’t going to send in troops to stop it. )
Among un-enumerated rights reserved to states and people by the 10th amendment is the right for each soul and congregation to go straight to hell, if they want to. A commander in chief might be sorry to see it happen but is sure — as hell! — NOT allowed to call up the militia to protect anybody (any spirit? ) from their own heresy. This ties the hands of the Saints as much as the Evil Bastards, thanks be to Heaven. Similarly, while the 1st amendment protects the rights of congregations (or factions, committees, parties, or biker gangs) to assemble, the 10th seems to ensure that schismatics and others dis-enchanted by the association are fully entitled to LEAVE. Whether or not the heretics and schismatics are owners of real estate claimed by denominational authorities is a touchy issue; but one still best left to state courts rather than federal. Denominational organizations are, like corporations and banks, somewhat inclined to fall under control of the so-called Evil Bastards — but that illustrates the need for a somewhat different term as much as a need for social control over such faith-based assemblies.
Intending to be terse, I fail. But in appreciation of your company, I remain,
2 May 2012 at 4:48 pm
Humm? sociopaths, and four percent of the population even!! I have contemplated a little bit about the desire for power, and what is evil and what is good about said desire, and where that line is crossed. In “Science of Religion” Partamahansa Yogananda stated that there is an inescapable form of selfish desire in the actions of all men. The removal of pain and suffering and the attainment of lasting happiness. “Someone may say I do not care anything about pleasure or happiness. I live life to accomplish something, to achieve success.” Another says : I want to do good in the world, I do not care weather I am in pain or not.” But if you look into the minds of these people, you will find the same working toward the goal of happiness. Does the first man want a success that has in it’s achievement no pleasure or happiness? Does the second want to do good to others, yet himself get no happiness in doing it? Obviously not. They may not mind a thousand and one physical pains or mental sufferings inflicted by others, or arising out of situations incidental to the pursuit of success or the doing of good to others; but because the one finds great satisfaction in success, and the other intensely enjoys the happiness of doing good to others’ the former seeks success, and the ladder seeks others good, in spite of incidental troubles.
Even the most altruistic motive and the sincerest intention of advancing the good of humanity, for its own sake, have sprung from the basic urge for a chastened personal happiness approaching bliss.”
Capitalism is in many respects fundamentally honest, and a reflection of the above. It is an admittance that personal gain is never absent, even in the most altruistic, and so capitalism makes no pretense of removing personal gain. It also makes no moral judgment of personal gain being bad. It is a neutral admittance that desire for personal gain exists, and cannot be legislated away. Social systems that vainly seek to legislate selflessness only condense the personal gain aspect into the most powerful people within the government, and in removing liberty and personal power from the common man, engender helplessness in the masses.
So the desire for personal gain, indemic to human nature, is never absent in any system, but what of the desire for power? This also, is inherent in every individual. It, like working for one’s self, is universal. It is stated by many “Power corrupts”. This also is fundamentally flawed. No reasonable persons seek to be powerless, to be a victim subject to the discretion of others; to have no control over there own lives and decisions. So others refine this saying, “The love of power corrupts” Yet this has the same problem. All love to feel empowered. Even the one who willfully submits to one in authority wishes to feel that it is both their choice, and that in that submission, they will gain the power to attain some end, either personal or to some benefit of society. The one who submits within a system does not mean he wishes to have no power or influence. All seek power, and in some ways all love power. A far better statement is that “Power reveals corruption” or alternatively, “love of power over the free will of others is corruption.” The corruption that power reveals is the use of power to COMPELL OTHERS against their will, the desire to exercise tyrannical control of other people to accomplish some objective.
So neither the desire for power and self gain is , in and of itself, evil at all, and even if one thinks of them as evil, they are nevertheless universal and unavoidable to human kind. However, when these twin universal desires move from working to fulfill the individuals desire for HAPPINESS, and the desire for POWER to attain that end, be it a house, a car, a dress, a family, the establishment of a charity to feed the hungry, etc; to instead seek power over the free will of others in order to attain whatever end, then the “evil bastard” appears. Now I think the sociopath would certainly gravatate to where he can use others to attain his desires, and power over others may itself be one of those desires. Also the elitist, even if said person feels for others, would, thinking himself wiser and more educated then the “common citizen, strive for the power to be the one to tell others what is fair, what is equitable. On the other hand the capitalist, desiring to work for himself, or for others, but in whatever way he chooses, beliveing in liberty and self responsability, would not be inclined to desire political power. Perhaps this is why many conservatives are “rhino”; and so inclined to ever compromise with the never ceasing demands for more goverment, and ever creep the needle towards more socialism. After all, desiring no control over the free will of others, runs for election saying “I want to promise less, to give less, I want to demand more self responsability, and I want many who are suffering to accept that their own actions and decisions caused their misery, and that they are responsible for getting into a new situation. I want the needs of the helpless to be met more through charity, then Govt taxes.” True or not, this mentalitiy does not win elections.
As power is a universal “need” of people, often it, like any opiate which fulfills any universal need, in and of itself becomes an addition. Power, in its “evil bastard” form, become a drug to the one pursuing and desiring it. Rare is the George Washington type who can walk away from this lure. Happiness is a universal need which all seek, it is the FORM in which one seeks it that determines its good or bad quality. When the desire for happiness results in addiction to an opiate, then the desire is said to be evil and destructive. Power is also a universal need, however when that desire for power takes the FORM of addiction to control over others, then that person, intoxicated with such power, becomes the Tyrant, even if he considers himself a protector.
Going from the general to the particular, i am convinced Obama would be a tyrant if he were allowed, but is he a sociopath?
Sorry but one further thought. I am ever more clear on the lure of using enviromentalism to establish tyrany. No classic liberal or tea party republican thinks anyone should be allowed to profit at the expense of poisoning my neighbors air, or water, or other vital necessity, because in doing so I am clearly exercising power over anothers life and liberty.
Statist, due to historic and immense failures, have also often failed to gain popular support for national or even international tyrany, (what “evil bastard” does not want to “rule the world”) All the elite statist cling dogmatically to the CAGW theory because, if it were true, then even a classic liberal or a libertarian would have to conceed the necessity of accepting their solutions. After all no nation has the right to poison the air of another nation, or to flood their neighbor with rising seas, or to innundate another Country with murderous droughts and epic storms, or to use all of the world’s limited resources on themselves.
We in “the colonies” did not enjoy as much protection of rights as those back in England. Folks could be “impressed” into service. Soldiers were assigned to live in private homes. Taxes were imposed by fiat.
I also suspect you may be slightly misreading the sentence. I am NOT saying King George “did as much evil” (there were not 20 million killed in one go…); but rather that he had the same level of “unfettered” power. There was little to prevent the King from doing what he wished. (The Magna Carta largely being to protect the upper classes, not the rest of us. Much like The Central Committee has nominal restraint on Stalin but little practical effect on the peons fate). One need only look at how Ireland was treated by various English Kings to see that. Or ask Scots how they felt about English Kings and their adventures.
BTW, my opinion has nothing to do with my elementary school education (and darned little to do with high school). In elementary school we’re mostly learning USA and California history. (4th grade is California Missions history, for example). King George gets barely a mention at all in any of it (mostly just that he was the cause of the revolution, due to the tea tax). In high school we get a bit more ( impressment, soldiers billeted in private homes) but no more than about 10 minutes. England and that era get about 10 minutes… Heck, all of W.W.I gets abut 10 minutes.
No, my opinions come from other sources, and often much later times. In those years I was much more focused on math, chemistry, farming, biology.
So your snide remark is quite simply wrong. Very wrong.
I do type fast. But in fact the ‘volume’ depends on the topic. I’d moaned some months back that I was not looking forward to doing the Socialism posting. That was exactly because I knew it would take a lot to cover it. (It mutates awfully fast…)
Some postings are just a couple of videos, or a link and a paragraph. Others take more to ‘be complete’.
You’ll also notice I’ve not posted much since then (other than a comment from another article) as I’m “recovering” from the immersion into the topic… ;-)
What you say about the way the States election of Senators had been corrupted is true. But the bad that has come from the “fix” is also true. I’d have loved to spend a few dozen pages on The Progressive Era and fleshed it out, but this was already too long to put in a retrospective on them as well.
I don’t know what the ultimate solution might be. The presumption of States electing Senators is that the State will itself be moral and honorable. That is not alway (often?) the case. But that does not in any way detract from the fact that Direct Election of Senators just makes them all proxies for The Masses and brings with it the ills of Direct Democracy. (Modern campaign costs also means it brings back buying Senators as well).
I suspect that the system of lots might be the best way. Perhaps with some basic limitations like “All citizens of 21 years or older who have graduated high school, selected form the voting records.” then you randomly select a representative.
At any rate, to say chopping off your leg cures gangrene is not an endorsement of chopping off legs as ideal…
I must admit that the whole dive into AGW has shaken my prior faith in ALL recent “science”. ( I now feel compelled to put it in quotes…) Medicine has also be politicized. The recent redefinition games that give us “Pre-Diabetes” and “Pre-Hypertension” as “diseases” for example. I’m sorry, but you either HAVE a disease, or you don’t. Then there is the redefinition of what BMI is “obese” so we now have a fabricated “Obesity Epidemic”. (And never mind that BMI is itself horridly broken as a concept. See the “Bogus BMI” posting).
It all seems to stem from just post W.W.II, when government driven “science” really took off.
BTW, I was surprised that you didn’t comment on the note at the bottom of the
posting where I quoted an article that showed the creation of the sun happening at about the same time ( or slightly before!) the supernova that made the heavy elements. A ‘zero travel time’ is implied, but promptly ignored… I think that bit strongly supports your position on the sun being a remnant of a nova event. There were some Ca / other metals nodules dated in bits of space rock. Details in that other article.
I often expect that comments will fill in bits I’ve had to leave on the editing floor… Makes for a ‘reasonable’ length article, but more completion in total. A better mix, IMHO. So such contributions are welcome!
I’ve read all the comments, but can only respond to a few right now. Hopefully I’ll have more time in a bit. It’s just that some of them will take a bit of thinking…
The only crazy thing is the extraordinary desire, more than reasonable, for power and profit. It is silly and childish to get peoples´ “faces”, like “Facebook” does, for identifying people and having more power. It would be only explainable if there were eternal individuals, so what explains it is only psychopathy. However human societies should agree in some measures , like those which exist to control criminal activities to avoid something like them in other fields. Governments must be organized in such a way as to make impossible for an individual or a group of them to take control of them.
@E.M., adolfogiurfa, et al., et al.
Many are perceptive about the follies of mankind. Few have the quality most needed in our collapsing social order: Ability to unite talents of critics into action for social good.
Why? We all have sense organs that point outward, keen analytical instruments for detecting flaws in others but deceptively designed to overlook the flaws in ourself.
E.g., Derek’s comment: “It seems that Oliver Manuel, Joe Olsen, Piers Corbyn, Henrik Svensmark, Nigel Calder, and one or two others are all along a similar line or direction of thought, yet, they are so different in some respects. My hunch is that somewhere within lies a better understanding of the truth.”
Who is capable of uniting these talents into action for social good?
@E.M The only reason I didn’t comment earlier on your note showing that the creation of the Sun happened at about the same time a supernova made the heavy elements is that I didn’t see it.
That remarkable coincidence (!?!) is exactly what convinced me in 1960 to join Professor Kuroda’s efforts to decipher the origin of the solar system.
I spent the next 50 years finding experimental evidence that repeatedly supported pre-1946 scientific opinions, and violated post-1946 opinions, on the composition and birth of the solar system. E.g.
In his autobiography: “Home Is Where the Wind Blows” (University Science Books, Mill Valley, CA, 1994, 441 pp.) Sir Fred Hoyle describing his meeting with Sir Arthur Eddington “one spring day in 1940”:
“We both believed that the Sun was made mostly of iron, . . .” (page 153)
“The high-iron solution continued to reign supreme in the interim (at any rate, in the astronomical circles to which I was privy) until after the Second World War, . . .” (page 153)
“when I was able to show, to my surprise, that the high hydrogen, low-iron solution was to be preferred for the interiors as well as for atmospheres” (of stars). (page 154)
In the autobiographical section of “The Origin of the Chemical Elements and the Oklo Phenomenon” (Springer-Verlag, Berlin/Heidelberg/New York, 1982, 165 pp.), Dr. Kazuo. Kuroda describes the scene a young nuclear geochemist from the Imperial University of Tokyo observed while standing in the ashes of Hiroshima, shortly after it was consumed by man-made “nuclear fire” ignited by neutron-rich cores of uranium atoms on 6 August 1945:
“One day in August 1945, while standing in the ruins of Hiroshima, I became overwhelmed by the power of nuclear energy.” (page 2)
“The sight before my eyes was just like the end of the world, but I also felt that the beginning of the world may have been just like this.” (page 2)
Essentially my entire career was spent confirming that Eddington and Hoyle were right in 1940 and Kuroda was right in Aug 1945 – but both scientifically valid opinions were suppressed by post-1946 consensus models of the Sun and its origin.
So here we have the true political line that rules the world: “Suppressionism”
The EU is the perfect example how suppressionism has developed into an administrative suppressive system that rewards our political elite’s to take our nations down.
Eureferendum has a great series of postings up right now about the fabricated droughts in the South of the UK that support the CAGW fallacy but in reality is caused by deliberate planning failures to increase the number of water supply buffers in order to serve a growing population.
The beauty of Dr. North’s series of articles about the subject of water supply problems is the fact that he not only arrives at the core of the problem but also identifies the political culprits behind this game and their “enablers” from the scientific front. He calls them “the enemy from within”
Also read the other articles to get the total picture and know really EVIL BASTARDS are at work here.
Now realize that similar practices happen in the US, Australia, and other parts of the EU.
This is the same policy rolled out by the same crooks and it is not only limited to water supplies.
We have similar problems with the grid, infrastructure (yes, they are know closing down roads)
industrial development, you name it.
You have mentioned the German National Socialists parked in the right hand corner of the political arena and concluded they had a socialist (left wing) origin.
You are right of course. Hitler introduced the first collective health insurance scheme in the world, the so called “Volksversicherung”. He also introduced the “Volkswagen”, better known as the VW Beatle and identified himself with “Das Deutsche Volk”, the German People.
How left from the left can you get, I wonder.
One thing I can tell you with 100% certainty. The EU refime (and the UN) will be much worse than the NAZI’s.
They are planning the total collapse of Western civilization and the killing of billions of people.
They will go into the history books as the “Most Evil Bastards” the world gas ever seen and they probably will manage to get away with it.
All EU Committee members and all members of the UN enjoy political and legal immunity.
Just think about that.
None of them has been elected. They have been appointed and they have legal immunity protection. This is a wet dream for every wannabee thieving mass murdering apparatchik.
The suppressive scheme has been set up with such a refinement that Hitler would have cut off his right hand for a blue print of the EU/UN model.
@Oliver Manuel: Ok!, but let us forget first our personal views, no matter how intelligent or interesting, in favor of a common view: There is a problem.
Whence does this problem originates?, is it possible to identify its source/sources?
1. Yes, there is a problem ! Society is crumbling worldwide. Those that caused the problem are most like their most vocal critics, and visa versa.
World leaders are trapped with the rest of us – like rats on a sinking ship: Kings, paupers, Democrats, Republicans, Conservatives, Liberals, Capitalists, Communists, Fascist, Socialists, Great Scientists, Critics of Great Scientists, etc. ad infinitum.
2. Whence does this problem originates?
Selfishness, self-centeredness, a natural stage of development at ~ 2 years of age is the root of the problem in many leaders of nations, movements and organizations, with a few rare exceptions.
In hindsight, I strongly suspect Kuroda selected me to be his student in 1960 because he knew I had the same personality as those using positions of power since 6 Aug 1945 to:
Hide information on the trigger of the “nuclear fires” that give birth to planets like ours and sustain life by surrounding it with a continuous flow of energy and particles moving naturally from compacted nuclear material in a deep gravitational well to become dispersed interstellar atomic material.
3. Is it possible to identify the main sources of the problem?
3-a: Fears and the survival instinct cause individuals to construct an “ego cage” for protection and to be driven for success and acceptance by selfishness, self-centeredness.
3-b: Our sense organs point outward so we naturally:
_ i.) See the flaws in others: Al Gore, The Club of Rome, Henry Kissinger, The Bilderburg Group, Richard Nixon, Democrats, Barack Obama, Republicians, etc.
_ ii.) Overlook the flaws in ourselves.
Oliver K. Manuel
Example: My pugnacious, survivalist personality seems to have been locked in place by the time I was about 3.5 years old, when this picture was taken “one spring day in 1940.″
That may have been the same spring day when the late Sir Fred Hoyle and Sir Arthur Eddington “both believed that the Sun was made mostly of iron, . . .” [Fred Hoyle “Home Is Where the Wind Blows,” University Science Books, Mill Valley, CA, 1994, 441 pp.] (page 153)
On that “one spring day in 1940,″ my mother (Fay Irene Graham Manuel) returned home from a three-year stay in a TB sanitarium and told my brother (Leo Wesley Manuel) and me that she had decided not to return to the TB sanitarium and would probably die.
As you can see from the photograph, my brother was distraught. I was darn mad. Life was unfair.
I remained mad most of my life, until belatedly discovering ways to escape the ego cage in 1996.
Oliver K. Manuel
Interesting picture. Somewhere in some box (likely at my sister’s house) there’s a similar picture of me on Mom’s knee, though with mouth open in a very wide grin. I was a pretty happy kid up to about 5. There’s a picture of me at that age in a set of stripped overalls rather like your brother, looking more ‘grim’ as I discovered the reality of things around me (such as other mean kids).
But life moves on, and so did I.
I wonder how many of the “rich and powerful” have a picture of a Mom, in a simple dress, with a kid on knee, sitting on a wood porch (often with rough clapboard in the background); wondering what the future will bring…
I think that shapes our differences… Some of us are much more aware of the need to work very hard to make life a reasonably pleasant compromise. Others feel entitled to rule the world and have no idea how much damage they can do with something as simple as raising gasoline prices from $1.80 / gallon to $5. A significant number of people are now forced to chose between gasoline to get to work, or food on the table. More “beans and rice” and less “chicken” in the pot.
Part of “the problem” as I see it is that only the rich and privileged, or those beholden to them for ‘contributions’, can possibly be elected today. IMHO, we ought to have a system where there are debates with ALL registered candidates, required to be carried on ALL TV stations as part of the “public good” from their being licensed to use the public air for private profit. Then each candidate being given something like 10 minutes / day of “advertising space” on those same channels as well on all radio channels. NO other TV or radio to be purchased. ( I know, violation of freedom of speech will kill it). Any personal ad dollars go to print media, lawn signs, bumper stickers, and web pages. (All of which are amenable to volunteers as well, so the “money bags” don’t dominate). I’d also set an official “start date” before which such campaigning can not begin (limits dollars impact via massive pre-work).
That gives a level playing field for ideas and removes a chunk of the ability of money to dominate via media ‘buys’.
All in all the present method is broken. Too much ability to buy elections, so “fattest wallet wins”.
It appears that Obama’s Overlords, The Saudi princes have decided to help buy him the election by crashing the cost of fuel. They have just announced they will pump greater amounts of oil to break the backs of speculators. Price of oil dropped $2.60 per barrel. pg
Thanks for your kindness. Your analysis and conclusions seem to confirm: Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
One problem may be that we are locked in debate by equally strong-willed leaders and critics.
“Hatred does not cease
By hatred in this world.
By love alone it ceases.
This is an unalterable law.”
Thanks for pointing out the link between the Obama’s Overlords and the Saudi Princes.
Now how do we change this corrupt system without becoming like those we want to unseat?
Well if we could weed out the psychopaths and pathological liers, that would get rid of most of them! We make cops and solders go through psych testing, how about mandating politicians publish their psych tests. As well as date and place of birth. pg
You might rid the world of its greatest leaders – both saints and sinners – according to at least one of my spiritual advisors: http://www.omatumr.com/Photographs/Advisors.htm
Sounds good to me! As a catholic I was skeptical of most of the saints anyway. Honest sinners are my kind of people. You can only commit a sin against another being. If you honestly feel bad about that, then there is hope for your soul. My kind of people. pg
About the Saudi’s pumping additional oil is a much repeated mantra over the past 4 months.
Maybe it is the market:
Besides that, oil and gasoline prices have more or less decoupled.
Lot’s of refinery capacity has been closed down in the US and Europe.
This keeps the price of gasoline up despite lower oil prices.
The latest Saudi declaration was that they ” would break the backs of the hedge fund speculators with heavier oil production”. The Obama administration has been saying that speculators are the cause of present high prices for the last 10 days. Sounds to me that the big kids have decided to flip the longs as there is about 1,000 times the contracts of supply, to the real oil needed in the system. Oil is worth about $32 to $36 a barrel at present. Someone is going to lose a lot of money. A crash of the cost of fuel would give a $200 billion shot in the arm to the American economy, at the bottom, just at the election. Right now there is no free cash at the bottom of the economy as those of us that live there are spending everything for food and fuel.
In the US the refineries are producing so much extra product, that it is being shipped around the world and the US is once more a net exporter. pg
There is little if any doubt that:
a.) Western society is collapsing
b.) Current world leaders are scared
c.) They did not initiate the flawed policies
d.) They do not know how to solve the problem
e.) Their advisors have been trained to give pleasing advice
f.) There is no pleasant way to undo decades of failed policies
g.) Today Obama finally prays: ‘Let us be humble in our convictions’
omanuel says: 3 May 2012 at 10:01 pm
Thanks for your kindness. Your analysis and conclusions seem to confirm: Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Dear Oliver, for a slightly different perspective on that quote you may wish to read my comment above here. David says: 3 May 2012 at 6:45 am
The “top problem” is that the “leaders” suck their own exhaust and actually believe things that are quite wrong, and are not bright enough to realize it (and if they did, would discover themselves ostracized by all their ‘peers’ for being politically incorrect and not part of the consensus.. )
The “base problem” is the demographic bomb. Having convinced everyone that it’s a bad idea to have kids, there are now way too few workers to support the system of graft and patronage they have built. Simply put, not enough young ones to change all the bed pans and serve all the meals to all the old ones who expect to retire with high privilege.
The rest is, in many ways, just window dressing and exposition.
So the “Medicare” problems are too many old folks (you suck down 90% of all the medical care you will use in the last few years of life) and not enough young ones to pay for it.
That leads to trying to hide that issue inside “third party the cost” schemes into the private medical plan costs (via hospitals having one rate for them, and another for Medicare, Medical, Medicaid, etc.) This “cost shifting” then breaks private medical insurance, that leads to bastard attempts to fix it like Obamacare.
End game stays the same, as the base problem stays the same. Not enough young doctors, nurses, and cooks willing to work for low wages to take care of a way larger elderly class.
The same kind of thing applies to the various pension programs for all the layers of government folks. Promises made that depend on 10 tax payers per pensioner; when we end up at closer to 2 taxpayers per pensioner “right quick”.
The basic problem stays the same. Not enough producers, too many consumers.
They then exacerbate it with “hide the problem and lie about it” and attempts to tax more; rather than things that fix it. This then drives even more companies out of the country and even fewer workers, more unemployment and higher unemployment benefits costs.
Auguring in. See Greece and Spain for a preview.
@P.G.Sharrow and R. de Haan:
On oil, the problem the Saudi have is that the added reserves are heavy sour, not light sweet.
There isn’t the refining capacity to handle the added heavy sour.
So they can pump added heavy sour, and it will not change the price of WTI or Brent.
FWIW, since the USA is mostly gasoline and EU has gone Diesel some time ago; for many years there has been a ‘swap’ of gasoline going one way and Diesel the other. In a sane world, we’d have a lot less regulatory crap in the way and each continent would have more similar fuel prices, so the added economic advantage to using Diesel would not have had a disproportionate impact on Europe and we’d both have about the same mix of Diesel and Gas cars (and no need to cross ship products).
Yet another side effect of attempting to “manage markets” is billions of gallons of Diesel and Gasoline shipped between continents.
OK, with that said:
Saudi pumping more oil would be nice. Better still would be for them to build some more refineries for heavy crude, making it into gasoline and Diesel there, and shipping each directly to the place of use. Also, FWIW, as Mexico and Venezuela have issues, their Heavy Sour will drop and we can push more Saudi through the system.
Per oil being “worth” $35 or so /bbl:
It is “worth” what folks will pay for it, which is about $80 – $100 / bbl.
If you are talking about equilibrium prices when the market is in “glut”, yeah, last time that was “thirty something”. Not very relevant, though.
There are several different price points that matter. One is the “cost to produce”. That varies from about $3 / bbl in Saudi old fields, to $25 /bbl in new ones there, to $35-50 / bbl for Canadian Oil Sands, to $100 ish from more exotic methods.
Demand runs from about 20% higher at $40 /bbl or so to a rapid ‘hit the wall’ moment called “demand destruction” at about $120 / bbl. It ought to hit a wall closer to $80 / bbl (or even $50 /bbl) as there are very effective alternate ways to manufacture “oil” or products at those price points. Government regulations and barriers to entry prevent those market forces from working, though.
Equilibrium Price is that price actually seen in the market. At present, OPEC generally tries to manage that price below $120 (as folks get pissed enough to think about fixing the bogus government barriers to making the alternatives at that point and the Saudi bill for buying politicians rises dramatically ;-) and tries to keep it above $80 because they can. Wobble inside that range are largely driven by slow OPEC production changes and faster shifts in economic business cycle.
So what is it “worth”? Far more than $35… Clearly somewhere above $80 as folks globally pay that much all the time…
BUT… IFF we started doing CTL and GTL and turning our nat gas into gasoline and Diesel, it would rapidly crash the price of crude down to about $35-$40 / bbl (and end many of our problems in the Middle East while having a few kingdoms screwing the pooch…) as a load of higher cost sources would shut in at about that point.
Isn’t economics fun? /sarcoff>;
BTW, Delta Airlines has bought an oil refinery to get past the widening crack spread issue:
BTW, this chart is rather interesting. You can see oil ( USO – US Oil futures. One could use DBO or OIL and get about the same) wobbly flat, while UGA – US Gasoline spikes with a tiny roll down at the end. KOL – Coal rises on China sales, right up until the EPA kills it (with a little help from UNG Natural Gas that’s dribbling down to dead at the bottom… on excess supply from, yes, drilling and fracking…)
In a less ‘regulated to death’ market, we’d be drilling and fracking oil wells, too, and building pipelines from Canada and the UGA would be dropping along with USO and UNG. Only thing preventing it is all the government rules saying “NO! YOU CAN’T!!”…
The “crack spread” is roughly the gap between USO and UGA. (This is a 4 year weekly tick mark chart). So the refiners are making out like bandits right now. (Not much at all to do with crude prices or crude ‘speculators’…)
Long time lurker, first time commenter. I appreciate the breadth of your curiosity and willingness to follow threads of information long distances. (As a scientifically literate layman, I especially appreciate your recognition that, and clear explanation why, “global average temperature” is an invalid metric.)
Returning to the topic of the post: On this topic I think many people don’t give enough weight to issues of philosophy. What people think / believe about the nature of reality and other basic philosophical questions–whether they think about such things consciously or not–affect how they act, including their political beliefs.
In this post you quoted material regarding philosophical movements identified variously as “idealistic” or “materialistic”. At least one school of philosophy–Objectivism–holds that the two represent a false dichotomy. (I won’t clutter up this thread with an adequately lengthy analysis of this issue unless invited to do so.) If one accepts that philosophical idealism and materialism are a false dichotomy, one is not surprised that the adherents of both establish political systems that evolve to the same end state: statist tyranny. Only the details differ.
True free market capitalism has never really been established anywhere that I am aware of. Parts of the United States came fairly close in the late 19th Century. But as your discussion of Rockefeller with another commenter touched on, even then, “cronyism” occurred at national, state, and local levels. As soon as governments start intervening in economic activity–i.e., when governments start initiating the use of force for the benefit of some economic actors and to the detriment of others–an economy is no longer “free.” The questions is simply how “unfree” it is. Obviously, most of us are now much less free than our grandparents were, but that doesn’t mean that any of our ancestors ever lived in a truly free market system.
The real advantage of a truly free market system–which necessarily implies a very limited government–is that Evil Bastards have a very proscribed scope of action. Without the ability to use the government’s coercive power to extract unearned economic benefits from others, each person and business must earn their way by exchanging value for value. True Capitalism is a system that appeals to best in us–by rewarding achievement rather than failure or political connections.
The obvious problem, of course, is how to keep the government out of the economy. That requires a government based on a philosophy and explicitly designed to limit the harm any Evil Bastards can do. Our founding fathers made a pretty good attempt at it, but they were not completely consistent about it, and the rise of Progressivism a bit more than a century later was one result of a change in the dominant philosophy of the country as the influence of the Enlightenment waned. You have traced some of the changes in word meanings the collectivists have foisted on us over the last century. Starting in late 19th Century, Progressive judges similarly inverted the meaning of many of the clauses of the Constitution to expand the power of he government. (Commerce clause, anyone?)
Mike in California
Sorry about the lack of paragraph breaks in that last comment. Consider that my first step on the comment format learning curve (next time hit return twice between paragraphs…).
E.M., and some of the rest of you regulars, may find a lot to interest you at Cafehayek.com, an economics blog run by a couple of professors at George Mason University. They are members of the Austrian School of Economics, which takes a much more “real world” / practical / free trade view of economics than either Keynesians or the other major schools of economic thought. (E.M., I realize you know who the Austrian School is, but others may not.) In particular, they have put up a couple of recent posts on the disingenousness of President Obama’s latest attempt to blame speculators for high oil prices and the futility of his announced steps to curb their activities.
The world view of the Austrian School of Economics is summarized in the following quote from F. A. Hayek:
“The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”
― Friedrich von Hayek
Cafe Hayek’s quotation of the day for May 3 is also topical:
“Quotation of the Day…
by Don Boudreaux on May 3, 2012
in Civil Society, Myths and Fallacies
… is from page 160 of the 1996 Liberty Fund collection of Frank Meyer’s essays, In Defense of Freedom (William C. Dennis, ed.); specifically, it’s from Meyer’s September 25, 1962 National Review article “Why Freedom”:
“Political freedom emphatically has nothing to do with who governs or who chooses the governors, but only with the strict limitation on the powers of the governors, whoever they may be.”
Mike in California
Pertaing to E.M. says, 4 May 2012 at 3:33 am
All true, especially the energy comments, and well sumarized. And why are free market soulutions not allowed to operate? My summary on that was earlier in this thread in this comment,
“Statist, due to historic and immense failures, have also often failed to gain popular support for national or even international tyrany, (what “evil bastard” does not want to “rule the world”) All the elite statist cling dogmatically to the CAGW theory because, if it were true, then even a classic liberal or a libertarian would have to conceed the necessity of accepting their solutions. After all no nation has the right to poison the air of another nation, or to flood their neighbor with rising seas, or to innundate another Country with murderous droughts and epic storms, or to use all of the world’s limited resources on themselves.”
So it appears to me that those who dogmatically cling to their ideaology of central rule and planning are willing to let the economies of the world crash (after all, humans are a parasite on this planet, in the view of some) rather then let go of their best tool for forcing world goverment, all in pursuit of their utopia, with, of course, themselves in charge.
P.S. Statist, once again ignorant of human nature, forget that all the other statist see themselves as the ultimate would be “bigger fish”. This is why I am amused when some think “they” are in control, as “they” are at odds with each other in winning the game. Who is they? Is it the Soviets, weakened, but still in the game? Is it China? Is it the evil Imperialist USA? Is it the Islamic extremist striving for their Caliphite? Is it the oh so educated Ivy League progressives from the US and Europe? On who’s team is Obama, the Ivy league educated, or the Islamist? Does he even know, or is he some confused mix of both?
In the “matrix” game it seams everyone wants to be the programmer, but there is no unifed “they”, unless it is in the humble folk living in every country, in every race, who just wish to live their life unfettered by others, feed and shelter their families, maybe go to their choice of church and learn to become ever better individuals. For such as these was the United States of America created; “My Country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, God shed his grace on thee.” (Samuel Francis Smith.)
“There was little to prevent the King from doing what he wished. (The Magna Carta largely being to protect the upper classes, not the rest of us…”: you’re only ignoring five centuries of history! The idea that George III was an absolute monarch is just wrong: plain daft .
Mike Churchill says:
4 May 2012 at 5:48 am
Who doesn’t know Hayek the big opponent of Keynes.
The biggest fan of the Austrian School by the way is Ron Paul.
Short view: a totally opposite Government policy from what we have now.
Small Government, no taxes on labor, totally free markets, no debt.
No Government intervention in the economy or the financial markets, so no bail outs of course.
Paul i.m.o. is exactly the right guy for President but the American voter will make a different choice. Unfortunately.
But…..the one million questions: Who are “they”?. Perhaps everybody knows the answer but few would dare to speak it out. It is obvious for many that behind your particular leaders/butlers of many countries, at least in our times, has appeared somebody behind, a not so hidden “master” having a particular view, like the “Open Society”.
Then, do our leaders really lead, or they just have found that a very rewarding way of living by following the advice, the principles or even the invented institutions of their chosen bosses?
This is the quoted case, where a particular institution created under the “principles” concocted by such a particular philosophy, begins to appear in several and different countries around the world.
That would mean, at first sight, that a person being a trillionare may influence to several “leaders/butlers” in many countries, apparently to apply his/her particular view of the world, but if analyzed closely and independently, anyone can discover its real goal: PROFIT.
As such we could consider that common agreements among such individuals may have led to association of the kind of, say, the “Club of Rome” and others (see: http://www.green-agenda.com). But, again, we find that those “they”, such members of those “clubs” have something in common.
Not something too obvious like a long tail, protruding from their back end, but which tells us they belong to a particular tribe.
What we need now are leaders like former Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy, who organized the great creative talents of humans to confront the Sputnik threat in 1957 with the historic Apollo landing on the Moon in 1969 !
Fear-based energy policies promoted by the UN’s IPCC, the UK Royal Society and the US National Academy of Science threaten our very survival, as noted in this draft letter to world leaders, editors and publishers:
With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo
It’s not just energy, though that is a key component. There are also strong efforts underway to run people off of private farms and collectivize farming and all water rights. It’s control of ALL things essential to life and prosperity that are being rabidly pushed from private hands into collectivist hands (be those collectives government agencies, NGOs, or multinational corporations). The Agenda 21 stuff at the UN site pretty much lays it out for all to see. Force people off the land into beehive cities, force folks to not travel (other than the elites), force folks to have fewer kids, force folks to get medical care from the collective, force force force all directed at stuffing freedom in a box and preventing the bulk of humanity from impacting the world (and preferably die childless).
Philosophy, and it’s makers, should be treated as rare wine of dubious quality, bottled immediately and placed in a cellar to gather dust for a few thousand years.
The use of the title “Doctor of Philosophy” , PhD, needs to be abandoned except for a rare few who actually pursue a Doctorate in Philosophy, for whatever strange reason. Doctor of Economics, or Doctor of Physics, Doctor of Medicine, or Doctor of Basket Weaving, should be sufficient today. No one studies, nor actually majors in, Philosophy today; certainly no one who will ever amount to anything. The real problem is that anyone with a PhD today thinks they know everything about anything, and they don’t.
The idea that ‘democracy’ can be implemented in any society or culture is a lie; but if your Evil Bastard is big enough and hard enough, the chance that any other form of government will take hold is nearly certain. Democracy and Evil Bastards are not compatible and the former will almost always die before the latter. Europe and Asia and Africa and South America and Oceania and most of North America have a long history of Evil Bastards, they know how every other system works all too well. A little piece of North America experimented with Democracy for four score and five years, then all hell broke out; today they have a dying Federal Republic ruled over by party hacks, lots of little rich evil bastards, and countless bureaucratic fools. Time and tide! Time and Tide!
Religion is like government. There ARE good and bad types and healthy and sick kinds. Religion is also very much a part of the fabric of the societies people have lived in since civilization began, just as is true of the other ‘social mores, traditions, and customs’ of the people. Though some find this fact ‘objectionable’ it is one of the ‘facts of life’ and ‘laws of nature’ that idiots and philosophers ignore at their own foolish peril. It is not possible to write down every law, most are unwritten, many are simply understood without even thinking about them. Religion reinforces society, society reinforces government. Fools that undermine the foundations and fabric of society undermine the foundations of government and public order; PhD or NOT. For the would-be revolutionary, “Make peace with all the unwritten popular customs and codes!”, then –if you don’t bite off more than you can chew and you‘re very lucky– you may have a fighting chance; maybe. (To the “Occupy Movement” – you’re toast, you piss everyone off for no flipping reason just because you hate them, don‘t you want to win something? Anarchists are rebels without brains or causes; they live for the moment, and wish it were their last. Dumb de dumb dumb, Dumb;-)
Don’t trust a Utopian any farther than you can throw them! They want you to do all the work building their dream. Utopia and Heaven are the same. You’re only going to see it or get there after you die. Remember, only an idiot follows a Utopian!
I again return to the point that you have mis read the statement. Stalin was not an absolute monarch, nor was King George. I never said they were. Stalin had a bunch of “controls” on him (at least in form and name) as did King George. Both were, however, “Evil Bastards” to some of their people. Realize that many in the USSR LOVE Stalin. He was not “Evil” to all, just as George was not “Evil” to all. Both, however, were very much “Evil Bastards” to others.
From the wiki on George III
Maybe you think armed garrisons, imposed taxes, sinking ships, burning cities, and murdering civilians in the public square are not “Evil”, but some of us do… Enough did to have a revolution.
Now I’m sure Old King George was much beloved of his family and friends, and likely even petted his dog. NONE of that changes what he was quite willing to do in places a bit more removed.
I suspect some folks in Britain were not too keen on raised taxes, and being sent off to die on the continent either. Nor, I suspect, were the folks in France all that keen on death at the hands of his armies.
Oh, and while you are at it, you might want to check with the Indian population about what they were feeling toward George and his agents: Picking one small example from a very long and unpleasant Indian experience during the reign of George III:
Yes, in many ways the British adventures in India were of benefit to some, including folks in India, even if against their will.. But it simply is not possible to escape the nature of the beast. Force. At point of arms. Extraction of property and wealth. Subjugation.
All in a good cause, of course. All done by agents, not George himself. Himself never does any dirty work anyway… and it was likely seen as being ‘not dirty’ anyway. Bringing civilization and Christianity to uncivilized heathens and all…
But that is exactly the point intended by the comparison of Stalin and George. BOTH did things they thought would benefit their empires, at times despite their “committees”and at times with their blessings. In both cases there were some who loved them (the ones getting the goodies) and many who suffered abuse at the hands of their agents.
So perhaps you can take off your British Tinted Glasses for just a minute or two and look at Old King George from the perspective of someone living in a Colony… or France…
Or even ask the Aborigines of Australia what they thought of him:
Please realize that I am NOT demonizing King George. The whole POINT here is that we need Evil Bastards to make something happen, but at the same time they often cause great harm to others in the process. We need to find ways to force this into a balance.
Stalin did great things for the USSR. An astoundingly fast industrial revolution. Winning a war with Hitler and the Axis. Huge improvements in the material life of many in Russia. Rather similar to the history in England in some ways. THE major difference being that those “abused” in Russia were Russians in large part ( and Jews and a German Army or two and…) while the British mostly kept their abuse out of the country in the colonies where it was easier to ignore. (And please don’t try to color this as some kind of anti-British bias on my part. Mum was from England. Half or more of my family still lives in England or Ireland.)
I don’t know why it has gotten under your saddle so much, but it simply IS the case that King George had a lot of power (though he did spend a fair amount of time playing with science toys and farming issues) as did Stalin (who like playing with other peoples lives…). BOTH of them did a lot of good for their countries, and BOTH of them left a trail of distruction for some others. And BOTH of them worked indirectly through agents and agencies.
That’s the whole point of The Evil Bastard. They get things done. Our job is to find ways to mitigate the bad half and keep the good half.
Looks like we had a change of margin required for Oil as well. Oil crashed somewhat today. Looks like it’s time for a new WSW sweep…
For now, dollars and things like TIPS and WIP. It’s a ‘Risk Off’ world.
Euro likely to be an issue as this weekend France is likely to elect the Socialist. That would whack our markets some more too.
Pretty good summary of things ;-)
BTW, the use of Ph.D. is supposed to bring humility by reminding folks that, at the base, everything they “know” rests on some fuzzy “philosophical” points that are debatable. While I admire that “reminder”, it has clearly failed in its purpose…
Yes, Religion is the base of most of social order. Like it or not, that “philosophy” has done more to bring stability than all the philosophies behind the Ph.Ds…
It is worth noting the other places near Utopia:
Utopia – no place
Tallstoria – Tall story
Nolandia – No Land
Aircastle – Castles in the sky…
Folks on the Socialism side seems to have missed that this was a satirical work…
not a guide book…
Shortly after we started holding leaders accountable for their actions (vis The French Revolution and “off with his head” moments) and accelerating with the Nuremberg Trials, picking up even more steam with the new World Court and Crimes Against Humanity; the actual manipulative leaders of the world shifted to “King Making” as the preferred method. They just want sock puppets who are disposable to both protect their security and give us the appearance of a choice.
@R. de Haan:
Yes, the Austrians have it right. Unfortunately the Keynsian school is pretty much all everyone in government saw in their one Econ class…
For years I took some comfort in the fact that the Statist Evil Bastards would at least be fighting each other. Now I’m not so sure. They’ve seemingly reached a “Gentleman’s Agreement” to cooperate at the UN and mostly let each other have free reign in their respective turfs.
It doesn’t matter what color the politician wears, they all want more power. The argument is NOT about them getting more power to the office / government, only about which of them ought to get to play with it this season.
That behind the scenes a puppet master sociopath has a personal agenda doesn’t even enter the debate. Literally.
For all of them, we are an unwashed mindless “masses” to be “led” and manipulated. They know they are ‘special’, after all…
By all means, elaborate on Objectivism (It will save me a lot of time digging into it ;-)
Looks like it does answer some questions about the semi-divergence to the same results…
looks like an interesting place… (more of the weekend booking up ;-)
Yes, clearly the “sociopaths” of the world have discovered the utility of fear of catastrophe coupled with guilt of being ‘abuser of nature’ along with embarrassment of ostracism for being “dirty” as a way to herd the masses off the cliff (or into the pen…)
Taking Chiefio’s invitation to expand on the subject of Objectivism, I thought I would start with part of Ayn Rand’s statement of the role philosophy in man’s life in her 1974 commencement address at West Point (and see if I get the html tags right):
Your only choice is whether your principles are true or false, rational or irrational, consistent or contradictory. The only way to know which they are is to integrate your principles.
(“Philosophy: Who Needs It” , p. 5; quoted in “Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand” by Leonard Peikoff”  at pp. 1-2.)
Piekoff’s book on Objectivism states Rand’s ideas more precisely than I can, so I will quote from it liberally to convey the gist of the philosophy as briefly as possible. Objectivists take context very seriously, so I’ll start with a bit of that.
(Objectivism, p. 3)
Objectivism starts with three basic axioms that are inherent in the first act of observing any object in the world: the axioms of Existence, Consciousness, and Identity. From that first act of observation / perception: as we look at an object, we can say: there is something. This table (point at it), that chair (point), every other object, person, entity that one observes. These things are. Something exists. So we start with the irreducible fact and concept of existence–that which is.
So the first basic axiom is, existence exists, where “existence” is a collective noun denoting the sum of all existents, i.e. everything in the universe. In other words, the first concept of all knowledge is that there is something as against nothing. Grasping the axiom of existence implies the second axiom, that of consciousness. Inherent in the act of awareness is that you exist possessing consciousness, consciousness being the faculty of perceiving that which exists.
These three concepts are axioms because each is
(“Objectivism,” pp. 6-9, with the internal paragraph quotation therein from Rand’s “Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology”, p. 55.
This comment is already rather long, so I will break it off in a moment. Before doing so, it is necessary to note that the law of identity has a corollary: the law of causality. The law of causality is the law of identity applied to actions.
I quote this basic material here because philosophic idealism and materialism are each based on assumptions that repudiate one or more of the basic axioms–some schools more explicitly than others.
Continuing on the subject of Objectivism:
One of the fundamental insights of Objectivism is the primacy of existence over consciousness. Chiefio’s own grasp of this concept is revealed by his slogan: “Reality just is.” To quote Leonard Piekoff’s book on Objectivist philosophy again:
(Objectivism, pp. 20-23.)
Piekoff contends that Ayn Rand was the first Western philosopher to explicitly state and methodically apply the principle of the primacy of existence. Whether or not that is true, she categorized philosophical idealists, including the religious, as the “mystics of spirit,” and the philosophical materialists as the “mystics of muscle.” Since this comment is now also very long, I’ll address that, and her specific view on Capitalism, in a third comment.
Before delving in detail into Objectivism’s critiques of Idealism and Materialism, I’ll inject a little bit of Ayn Rand’s statement regarding the theory and history of Capitalism. Notably, Rand regarded laissez-faire Capitalism as the only moral structure for human society. Without the coercive power of the government interfering in the economy, individual men and women are able–to quote the Blues Brothers–to “live, thrive, and survive,” by acting in accordance with reality as determined by each individual’s best judgment rather than being forced to act according to the (sometimes/frequently/often) irrational whims of others, including Evil Bastards.
One of Rand’s collections of essays is titled “Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal,” because she believed that few people actually understood what laissez-faire Capitalism really means and that even fewer were prepared to argue for it on a moral basis. (Another, released in the late 60’s or early 70’s, was titled, “The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution”, and she had the environmentalist / neo-malthusian drive to stop economic growth pegged.) In 1965, she wrote:
(“What is Capitalism?”, in “Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal,” pp. 11-12.)
That essay continues to trace the development of European economic thought (from Rand’s perspective) and then sets out Rand’s view on Capitalism, but the latter is more succinctly stated in Piekoff’s book on Objectivism.
(“Objectivism,” pp. 378-381.)
That is only the beginning of a 34 page chapter on the subject of Capitalism, so there is a lot more to the argument. (And my apologies for all the quotes, but Rand and Piekoff have covered the ground more eloquently and succinctly than I can.)
Before I forget, I think someone earlier in the thread mentioned the old saw that “Power corrupts” and “Absolute power corrupts absolutely. That’s an incomplete formulation. It should continue with: “Power attracts the corrupt and the corruptible” and “There are different kinds of power; some of them are inherently corrupt.” The Objectivist view is the economic power is fundamentally different than political power. Political power is fundamentally coercive power. When Mao said “All power comes from the barrel of a gun,” he was ultimately right as far as political power is concerned. I.e., the government’s power is the power to use force against you: to arrest you, jail you, take your property, and/or execute you. The difference between a government and a gang of thugs robbing the populace is a political theory / the consent of the governed. (Locke and Rousseau and a few others spent considerable time discussing that a few centuries back. Rand did so a few decades ago.) Generally speaking, the Objectivist view on government is that it has three legitimate functions: the police (to protect the populace from criminals, criminals being defined as those who would initiate the use of force against others), the military (to defend the populace against criminal states / foreign powers), and the courts (to settle disputes according to objectively defined laws). But I digress….
In contrast, purely economic power is the power to create, not destroy. In a laissez-faire system, one can only gain by trading value for value. And because each man is free to act according to his own judgment, the most creative and productive are free to experiment, to innovate, to achieve, and to reap the rewards of their achievement. That doesn’t mean that someone like Bill Gates who controls a something very valuable (the intellectual property that is the Windows operating system) is necessarily going to act in way that is of greatest benefit to everyone else. But it means that if he doesn’t maximize the value he creates for his customers, he will be creating opportunities and incentives for potential competitors and his customers that will likely result in long term changes in their behavior (open source software, anyone?).
Well, I haven’t gotten to the second topic I said I would cover in this post, but its the middle of the night, and a man’s gotta sleep some time. Maybe tomorrow.
And I hope you don’t regret inviting the thread hijack, E.M.
I should have mentioned that, if anyone is interested, more info on Objectivism is available at Aynrand.org (the Ayn Rand Institute), and her 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged is rather eerily prescient regarding the current state of the U.S. and world economies and governments, not to mention “big science” and the mainstream media.
E. M. Smith, P. G. Sharrrow
“@P.G.Sharrow and R. de Haan:
On oil, the problem the Saudi have is that the added reserves are heavy sour, not light sweet.
There isn’t the refining capacity to handle the added heavy sour.
So they can pump added heavy sour, and it will not change the price of WTI or Brent.”
The Saudi’s can pump whatever they want and it won’t change anything.
In the first place because of the heavy sauer argument, no refinery capacity for that.
The most convincing arguments however that IMO tell us that breaking the back of cartels is a pipe dream:
1. Germany and Japan closed down their nuclear plants
2. The EU stopped oil imports from Iran
3. Other arguments from P.G. Sharrow that the US has become a net exporter are not valid.
The US exports:
– shale gas
– technical oils an greaases like engine oils, hydraulic oils
4. US refinery capacity has been reduced and there is an unbalanced demand for diesel compared to gasoline.
5. In Europe the end user price of oil products like diesel and gasoline isn’t dominated by the oil price but by taxes. (over 75% of the price of gasoline is taxes)
Saudi Arabia is often mentioned as the all determining power influencing oil prices.
Unfortunately this is far besides the truth.
Our political and financial establishment, cartels and energy hungry markets determine the oil price and the price of the end products. The last independent refineries in Europe have been closed down and it will take the producers several years to answer to the increasing demand for oil in Japan, Germany and buffer the Iranian boycott.
This said I expect higher prices, not lower prices.
Way back when, I found my first philosophy course in collage very interesting; I guess I’d actually been ‘waiting’ to find out what the subject was all about and wanted to see who of the great thinkers of the World had it right. I had assumed that it was a lot like science; that over time we’d built something that was time tested and true, that I could continue to grow by ‘using’ it. I’d been growing away from the Pope and Father Flannigan and Sister Mary Battle-Ax over the years and thought, ‘Someone’s been hiding something from me, what they said didn’t make sense’. Alas, my dreams were not realized; at the end of the course I was angry, I felt betrayed, there was no tree to hang my hat on nor rest under in the cool of its shade. I also felt that, ‘The great thinkers of philosophy were, are, and no doubt will ever be, dumber than I am and I’m going to have to do this alone.’ Not much has changed in ~45 years. I’m still on my own. I’ve got my very own jumbled rules and customs and principles, just like everyone else.
The admonition to beware of Greeks bearing gifts applies to all kinds of Trojan Horses. Life is a lonely trek of self discovery.
Sometimes matters are made more complex than they need to be.
Remember that any political doctrine starts with a philosophy, the pillars that “justify” the framework.
The moment the “party lines” are in place, opposition can be identified and suppression takes off.
I sometimes made the analogy with ships or school classes and asked myself why one captain was able to run a “tight ship” and lead his crew through the worst storms and worst sea battles without any complains while another captain under the same circumstances had to threaten their crews with severe punishment, even death to stay in control.
From school you will remember those teachers who had a natural authority that enabled them to really teach a class and others who were unable to control “the wild herd of spoiled youth” who were obviously not interested to learn anything.
My conclusions is that much depends on the right person at the right place.
This goes for the classroom, a ship and a state.
Unfortunately we are not well served with political leadership lately.
The same goes for the leadership of our universities and scientific institutions, our media and our schools.
We are dealing with the enemy from within.
We have captains in control of our ships who don’t care about the ship or it’s crew.
They simply want to wreck the ship and sink it.
We should act accordingly and take responsibility to save our ships.
Totally ignored cause of high oil prices:
Power generation in Japan (and Germany)
@ R. de Haan –
“We have captains in control of our ships who don’t care about the ship or it’s crew.
They simply want to wreck the ship and sink it.”
You prompted me to add:
We also have ships without captains; the crews assume there is someone in command at the helm because historically there always has been. The crew and passengers are convinced that the captain is drunk or crazy or both, but they think to themselves “he is the captain, he knows what to do and where he’s going” and they go on with their work and sea sickness, day in and day out. Meanwhile, the idiots walking around on the bridge are having one endless wild party and are thinking to themselves “the crew has sailed this ship around the World thousands of times, they know what to do, steering a ship doesn’t take any skill at all, a child could do it…, honey, pass the bourbon and peanuts. Hay! who wants to play golf?”.
I know, I’m dreaming, but I’m always nervous when I think thoughts like this; my mother always told me that ‘the truth was STRANGER than fiction.’ What if she was right? What is no one really is sailing the ship?
@Pascvaks: ANYONE, who reads news and who has a little of intelligence, KNOWS who is the real BOSS of each country´s BUTLER in CHARGE.
Ask yourself, as an example, who were those who raised Greece rating and then lent it a lot of money, to accommodative politicians who sign anything if bribed ?
Paul versus Paul 2
5 May 2012 at 2:22 pm
Your fear that no one is sailing the ship is not founded by the reality of the day.
Take Europe for example, strongly in control of the banksters and their zealous enablers.
Austerity is killing the continent.
It’s a perfectly planned ambush to our societies.
The fires that started in Athens are spreading.
Also read: Is Economic Deluge Nigh?
In short: Europe now has come into a phase where a bad president (France) is replaced by an even more bad president and countries like Greece have put their elected government aside to be run by bankster troyca’s. With austerity measures spreading like wild fire, Europe will be a horrible place for the next decade. A no go zone for the sane.
It’s time to pack and go.
There is a fundamental conceit that they hold; that they can take the chaotic and non-deterministic world of human behaviour and both model and control it.
This reminds me of what’s been going on with CAGW. Alarmists assume that they can take a chaotic and non-deterministic system of energy exchange, and elements of forcing, and control it. Trenberth’s comments about being unable to measure the effects of geo-engineering were honest and prescient. He said, “It’s a tragedy that we can’t,” measure such effects. Just thinking logically, one would have to ask, based on his comments, “Then how do you know we’re influencing the climate now?”
It fits into what I’ve seen for a while with progressives: They are control freaks.
labor produces the entire product and the profits capitalists get are a result of exploitations of workers.
The central beliefs of Ricardian socialism are that all exchange value is created from labor, and that labor is entitled to all it produces.
When I read this it reminded me of what Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic Senate candidate in MA has said. I’ve seen her espouse this vague argument that the rich corporate elites have benefited from the labors of the middle class in producing the infrastructure that they used, and the products and services their companies created, and it should not be their right to just abandon the middle class by laying them off and sending their jobs overseas, thereby diminishing their communities’ tax revenues. “They deserve something in return for their past labors,” she says. She speaks as if there was some arrangement long ago, some agreement, that the middle class made with the industrialists, and that the industrialists have broken it. I guess she’s referring to the Social Contract? I sympathize with Andrew Carnegie’s notion that he did not obtain his wealth alone, and indeed did not deserve all the wealth he received, and so wanted to keep a lot of it as a public trust, which he would use to benefit the society that had so benefited him. It was his right to do that, because he believed in that principle. It was kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy, though. He purposely held back on raising the wages of his workers, to reward their productivity, and the benefit they gave him, because he thought they wouldn’t spend their wealth as wisely as he would have. If he had instead paid them commensurate to his thankfulness for their labor, he wouldn’t have needed to have his guilt. He would have shared the wealth that he believed they had created. To say that his principle must be imposed on others I think is wrong. We can have a social ethic that that’s the right thing to do, but people should come to it of their own free will. If we have excessive greed in our society with barons running off with obscene profits that they did not earn, but rather obtained through guile and deceit, then that should serve as a sign to our society that we need to raise the children of today with virtues that will promote the idea that people should only keep what they have earned, and perish the thought that ill-gotten gains are legitimate.
The above quote also reminded me of some off the cuff comments I’ve heard from fellow software engineers, when we talk about the stupid decisions that corporate management makes about software projects. I’ve heard more than once, “If we just got rid of the executives, we’d be better off. We produce all of the value in our company. They don’t do anything.” I understand the frustration–really I do–but I don’t buy that. Most of the engineers I know at software companies (and I include myself) couldn’t recruit, and negotiate with, a viable customer for our business to save our lives.
“As not one dime has actually been cut from real expenditures, year over year, while growth of government runs unchecked: It is self evident that NONE of the folks running the government from both sides is in favor of liberty and self determination at the lowest level possible (preferably in the hands of the individual citizen).
Perhaps it is because the voters are willing to vote for themselves the goodies;”
Yes, I think that’s what it is. I’ve had this notion for a while that if any of the Founders ran for office today they’d lose big. They’d barely get a hearing. I finally got confirmation of that listening to a black professor recently, though I forget his name. He was on C-SPAN, and was explaining that we do not live in a constitutional republic anymore, and he said this could be explained purely in political terms. He said something to the effect of, “If I were to run for the Senate in North Carolina, and I were to tell voters that I would adhere strictly to the limited powers enumerated in the Constitution in what legislative acts I would support, I would not be elected. It’s as simple as that. Voters want politicians to promise benefits. They want public money, and they know they can use their votes to get it.” I am also reminded of what Judge Learned Hand said, that liberty lies in the hearts of men. If it dies there, no constitution, no government can save it.
Re. direct election of senators
The passage of Obamacare really put this in high relief for me. With the state of state opposition to that bill, I knew that if we had senators selected by the states, the bill would never have passed, because the states would’ve said, “Hell no! You’re going to break our backs with this!” But since the Senate is not beholden to the states at all, but to the popular voters back home, they felt perfectly fine voting for it (at least a raw majority), not to mention stretching the rules of “reconciliation” in the Senate beyond recognition. Good thing for them Sen. Robert Byrd was dead. He probably would’ve harangued them for doing such a thing.
Really what the 17th Amendment, along with the 16th Amendment–the federal income tax, did was remove political power from the states. No longer did the federal government have to depend on states to raise tax revenues for its operations. They held no political power over the federal government after this. FDR was effectively able to use these tools to turn the tables on the states, making *them* beholden to the federal government. Increasingly the states have been turned into federal functionaries. More and more of their budgets have been taken up fulfilling federal mandates. If Obamacare is allowed to “pass constitutional muster” in the Supreme Court, many of them will become effectively bankrupt, and wholly beholden to the federal government just to fund their basic operations. They will become wholly-owned subsidiaries, so to speak, since they will be unable to raise sufficient revenues to cover their budgets.
Re. pre-diabetes and the politicization of everything
I recently watched a series of videos of a conversation between Dr. Alan Kay and a science educator in LAUSD. One of the things Kay said that horrified me is, “Science will be politicized.” The sense I had is he meant this broadly, through all of the sciences. He didn’t say this as something he hopes will happen, or is trying to make happen. He was making a prediction, based on current conditions in society, and perhaps based on the state of science education in the public schools. I assume this is because most people in society don’t understand what science really is, and political forces have found it a useful tool for advancing whatever agenda they have.
Very interesting you should mention “pre-diabetes.” I first heard this term 4 years ago. It struck me as off the wall. A late relative of mine was “diagnosed” with this at an assisted living facility by the facility’s doctor back then. The doctor changed some of his meds, and his diet, supposedly based on this diagnosis.
He ended up going into the hospital, and we asked his nurse about this. She scoffed at the notion. At first she acted like she was hearing the term for the first time. As we described what this doctor said further, she rolled her eyes, saying, “Pre-diabetes doesn’t exist.” She saw nothing wrong with his blood work. Then last year I saw a book being sold in my local health food store with “Pre-diabetes” in the title.
At first I thought this was the diagnosis of a crank at the assisted living facility–an isolated case. No, it’s definitely out there. Since you said this was the politicization of medicine, do you have any more information on where this is coming from?
Quoting from your quotes:
“Epistemologically, this variant leads to collective surveys–a kind of group introspection–as the means to truth; knowledge is said to rest on a consensus among thinkers, a consensus that results not from each individual’s perception of external reality, but from subjective mental structures or contents that happen to be shared by the group’s members.
‘If people believe in the policy,’ we hear, ‘if they want the system to work, then it will.’ The implicit premise is: ‘A group can override facts; men’s mental contents can coerce reality.'”
CAGW alarmism by definition, except that the researchers pursue the study of Nature with the purpose of confirming the consensus, not seeing if it can be contradicted, which is most definitely pseudoscience. The whole idea of science is that a theory has to be falsifiable.
We also see this in surveys and “visioning sessions” carried out by progressive communities, as an exercise in determining what a municipality’s policies should be. I was rather amused recently when Boulder, CO. carried out a public survey, and one of the results that came up is, “People want more jobs.” Yeah, ya think? The way this was treated, though, was that the government could do something to create more jobs. If anyone would ask me, I’d say, “Try holding back on regulations and taxes, keep up the rule of law, and hope for the best.” Kind of goes without saying.
This also ties into a tactic I’ve seen with the Democrats for as long as I can remember. If a popular public program doesn’t work as expected, rather than look inward and ask, “Perhaps we’re doing something that doesn’t work,” the partisan defenders say, “It’s *their* fault, the people who didn’t believe in it!” Since in a free society there will always be people who disagree, there is always *somebody* who will be the scapegoat in this scheme. No need to analyze the systemic effects of what’s being done. It’s a spiritual matter. “It didn’t work because not everyone believed in it.” It goes against the principles of our social structures, the idea that individuals in our society can have contradictory beliefs between each other, and yet our society can continue to stand despite that. Not everyone here even needs to believe in the principles of this country for it to continue on…just so long as they’re not the majority… The robustness of a society does have its limits.
One of the depressing things about being an Objectivist is recognizing that a lasting free society cannot exist without a significant majority of the population having and acting upon a philosophy that truly values individual freedom. I don’t see that in the U.S. and I sure as hell don’t see any country in Europe where the people are clamoring for liberty. (Although I can’t say that I know what’s going on in the former Czechoslovakia, and not that the MSM even covers Ron Paul’s speeches to crowds of a few thousand here.) At the moment, we all appear to be at various points on the slide to chaos and totalitarianism as the collectivists follow each of their failures with demands for more centralized power and cries of “This time for sure!” (as E.M. puts it).
Have you read Atlas Shrugged? It is actually rather scary how a novel published in 1957 seems so ripped from today’s headlines. (For those who haven’t: In it, Rand included government funded researchers twisting facts to support public policy, other scientists of real achievement failing to condemn dodgy science because they had become beholden to the government for funding of their own work, and the world’s economy lurching from crisis to crisis as governments exerted ever more control over financial markets and individual industries. The plot of the novel is “what happens when the Prime Movers–i.e., the creative men, the innovators, the entrepreneurs–go on strike, for the first time in history.” The philosophical theme of the book is: what is the role of man’s mind in his existence?)
That “how can government best create jobs?” theme is one of the reasons that Keynesian economists dominate the government and many of the university jobs. They are the ones who tell the politicians that they have the ability to do something. Austrian economists tell the government: there’s not a damn thing you can do except get in the way of private sector job creation or get out of the way. What politician–particularly, what statist politician, wants to hear that from his economic adviser?
As to the CAGW “science,” its been apparent for quite a while that the Team don’t acknowledge data that does not fit their preferred story and the a new Lysenkoism is their preferred mode of operation. At one level, this may be fraud. At another level, it involves metaphysical and epistemological errors of the first order: I reject this reality and substitute one of my own imagining! Ayn Rand said you could translate Objectivist metaphysics and epistemology into simple language as follows: Metaphysics: Objective Reality, i.e. “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed,” or “Wishing won’t make it so.” Epistemology: Reason. “You can’t eat your cake and have it too.”
Bankers/lenders/speculators are the ones behind liberals-conservatives-communists-anti-communists, in one word they are the bosses of those who are prone to easily sell their souls (if they have any). Summarizing: “They” are repeating the same mistakes as in the past….so do not complain if people reacts in bad ways against you.
After posting what I said, I thought I should clarify the part where I cited Alan Kay. He said, “Science is going to get politicized,” and he had just gotten done explaining why it was so tough to reform mathematics education towards resembling real mathematics, at least at a level where young children could understand it (symbols are not so hot at young ages). He said it was because of the NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics). They “own” the math curriculum, and they have a very ingrained way of approaching the subject. He conceded that it’s not likely to be reformed, at least in the public school system, because of this organization’s influence. He followed this with a discussion of science education, and how it would actually be easier to try to bring “real math” into the science curriculum than to try to reform math education. He then made his comment about the politicization of science. So I think he was talking more about science education, but it still has implications for the discussion here.
Meant to say, E.M., thanks for writing all this. I know what it’s like to write a long, informative blog post. I’ve done a few myself. It’s hard work. I appreciated getting a historical perspective on socialism. Before reading this, I didn’t know that pragmatism and idealism were philosophies in the academic sense. I’ve just thought of them as descriptive nouns.
I was surprised that you didn’t say anything about Rousseau. Wasn’t he influential on socialism in a big way? Conservative scholars have pointed to him as a prime source of inspiration to Marx, Engels, etc.
The various interest groups that make their livings off the American public school industry have made it pretty clear that actually delivering effective education to the kids is pretty far down each of their respective lists of priorities. The most blatant example is that the teacher’s unions obstinately oppose any effort to change a system that clearly doesn’t work in the name of preserving the job security of its most senior (and ineffective) members. My wife and I got fed up when our eldest daughter was in sixth grade and in a class that included multiple kids that couldn’t read even though she was reading at a 12th grade level, plus 20 more kids everywhere in between. The poor teacher had no effective way of providing an effective education to all of those kids even if she had a good curriculum and method, which she didn’t. So we pulled her and our younger to out and started home schooling them. (Everybody has been much happier most of the time this way. The oldest is now in Community College and pulling a 3.5 g.p.a. in what would have been her senior year in High School.)
AFAIK, the public school system started going to hell when John Dewey’s Progressive education theory gained ascendance in the Teacher’s Colleges / Schools of Education around the 1930’s or so and they won’t let 80 years of declining performance stand in the way of doing more of what fails. Like the CAGW folks, the education establishment is a perfect example of the recent adage: “The love of theory is the root of all evil.” (Can’t remember what blog I saw that on recently, but it sure rings true with the folks who want to ignore the evidence that their treasured idea doesn’t work in the real world.)
I think I had a similar experience in the one philosophy course I took in college. I’d read some Ayn Rand and Aristotle and been lightly exposed to the Muslim Aristotelian commentator Averroes in a history class, so I was looking forward to learning learning some great truths and gaining some wisdom. Instead, the professor (and, it appeared, most of the philosophers we read,) treated it as a passive aggressive game designed to create terminal frustration or despair. The more of Rand’s writing’s I read, however, the more impressed I was that she was a logical thinker who had systematized the kind of common sense thinking I was slowly working my way through on my own. I don’t agree with absolutely everything she’s written, but I think the woman made a hell of a lot of sense and she, unfortunately, accurately forecast the trajectory of the U.S. economy and politics before her death in 1982.
@ Mike Churchill’s comment “Before I forget, I think someone earlier in the thread mentioned the old saw that “Power corrupts” and “Absolute power corrupts absolutely. That’s an incomplete formulation. It should continue with: “Power attracts the corrupt and the corruptible” and “There are different kinds of power; some of them are inherently corrupt.”
Mike, you may wish to scroll up to my comment here, David says: 3 May 2012 at 6:45 am.
My perspective is similar, but perhaps more direct, as I do not consider “power”, in and of itself corrupting, and I maintain that power attracts all, and is one of several “universal” human objectives, just as persuit of self- gain is never absent from human actions. My conclusion, resting on my informal logic presented in more detail in my comment, is… “A far better statement is that “Power reveals corruption” or alternatively, “Love of power over the free will of others is corruption.” The corruption that power reveals is the use of power to COMPELL OTHERS against their will, the desire to exercise tyrannical control of other people to accomplish some objective.”
Nice article about the WWF zealots
Mexico today offers a microcosm of the World. (It is not the only country that offers this.) Want to know which way the World is going and what will happen next? Watch Mexico. There are many, many good people in Mexico, they far outnumber the bad people. Who will win? Will law and order break down completely and chaos rule the immediate future? Will the people take matters into their own hands and abandon the currupt system that they currently have and establish a new and better system? Who and what will win Mexico? Who and what will win the World?
The major issue in Mexico is just that the Drug Cartels have much more money than the government. THE best thing we could do to help Mexico, bar none, is to legalize drugs. The US production of M.J. would kill that import market and the cocaine price would plummet. THEN the government of Mexico could easily re-establish the rule of law.
Until then “Fattest Wallet Wins”, and that’s in the hands of the folks making buckets of money off of the illegal nature of recreational drugs.
Yhep! And here in the USSA we have two, old, worthless, Mutt ‘n Jeff political parties that are so out of touch with the people and the constitution that it’s crazy too –though the ‘problem’ isn’t just party $ politics or, as in Mexico, drug $ politics;-) Just saying that as the wind blows in Mexico, it will –kinda’ sorta’– elsewhere as well. Weather Vane? or- Red Sky in Mexico, Yankee Take Warning! Blue Sky in Mexico, Yankee Delight;-)
I saw your comment. I think we’re largely stating different nuances of the same big picture. I could have finished my last comment by saying that “Some kinds of power are inherently corrupt and cannot be used for good.” As far as I am concerned, that includes all government power exercised for any purpose beyond the very limited scope of government that I consider to be “proper.” As I noted above, that “proper” scope is limited to the police, the military, and the courts, and does not include regulating economic voluntary economic transactions between private parties. The fundamental demarcation of the proper sphere of government activity is whether it involves the initiation of the use of force against someone. The Objectivist theory of government is based on the premise that governments derive their powers from a partial delegation of each citizen’s right to self defense and that governments justly and morally have no power not derived from such delegation. Therefore, a proper government does not have the right to initiate the use of force; it only has the right to respond with force to those who initiate its use.
At that point, you have to get into the complex field of law to define all the myriad ways in which one person can initiate the use of force against another–physically, through deception (i.e., theft, fraud, etc.), constructively (i.e. threats tantamount to the initiation of actual force, etc)–that justify police action by the state. In E.M.’s original article, his link to a definition of laissez-faire capitalism was to the site http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com., which was set up by a couple of Objectivists. and has short articles regarding the proper role of government and related topics. It includes the following:
In our current system, where governments at the federal, state, and local levels are exercising power over all kinds of things they shouldn’t, I think that even the most well meaning of legislators and executive officials are constantly exercising power that the founding fathers would have considered tyrannical. Why the hell should city bureaucrats, planning commissions, and city councils tell private property owners what types of businesses they can and cannot operate on their properties? Or whether they can build housing instead of commercial or industrial development? Worse, why should “design review committees” have anything to say about what anyone can build on their property. (Here in California, such bodies have the power to require modifications of building plans based on the aesthetic concerns of the committee members or public input.) Proper application of nuisance laws should deal with those issues, not the legislatively mandated busybodies that currently wield the coercive power of the state.
@E.M.: The solution for cocaine traffic: To put an additive (better a carcinogenic) to kerosene. Kerosene it is not longer used as fuel for cooking in Peru, where cocaine is extracted using kerosene , in this way we could get rid of the most notable and prestigious “noses” up there in the northern hemisphere. But it would be very difficult to do it secretly.
Per Rousseau, he’s more a Naturalist / Republican. While a small bit of his stuff has been used by Socialists, he falls more in the Classical Liberal side, in my view of things ( i.e. Republican in the French sense.)
He’s also a rather complex fellow with lots of subtleties and, frankly, it would take another posting about this long to show his ‘stuff’ in a fair light… So I soft of skipped over him to the far away start, and the more recent crystallization, leaving out the Revolutionaries / Republicans and things like The Social Contract (that in reality underlays both the Republic and Socialism – just different contracts…)
It was tried, to some extent, with M.J. where Paraquat was sprayed. Shortly after that a load of “golden” MJ arrived in California. While the news was reporting carcinogenic MJ Paraquat residues, one of my College Friends was smoking “Acapulco Gold” which he humorously referred to as “Parakeet Gold…” He later died of Leukemia at about 40 something. After a good 20+ years of continued consumption.
He had a thriving business, wife, 2 kids, and more money that I’ll ever have.
Somehow I find your proposed “solution” offensive… Perhaps because he was one of the best people I have ever known…
I’ve read the discussion and would love to comment on the particulars, but world events right now compel me to put time into markets and a WSW posting / review right now… We are living in interesting times… I just hope they don’t get too much more interesting too fast 8-}
@Adolfo & EM-
Theoretically, of course, the capability to be very selective is already available to the Powers-That-Be. ID a component trace chemical in a particular area or country’s export, then ID a binary in the target area (i.e. NYC) that produces the desired ‘effect’ (from say the local water supply), then the mini-fix is in place, it now only needs human nature to take its course, some user to make a buy, and bingo you have: a) a bunch of sick people with a specific ’problem’ that need a specific chemical to undo that problem, b) a bunch of people with a certain unique genetic marker odor that a bunch of K-9 Cops and Man’s Best Friend round up for the DA as the case load allows, and/or c) a bunch of folks who have lost all bladder (or back door) control, or something, and the next time they take a sniff or joint or shoot up they have a very embarrassing problem, etc., etc. The possibilities are endless, as we are nothing but bags of inter acting chemicals.
Of course, it may be better to have a trinary system: a) origin unique b) NYC unique c) Political Party unique;-). Imagine what the Mob could do to horse races with something like this.
As I’ve said so many times before, “There MUST be something in the Water!” Why else would so many people be acting like idiots?
Because people have ALWAYS acted like idiots. See that Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness Of Crowds.
It really is that simple. Doesn’t take any added chemicals. Just someone who recognizes it and takes advantage of it. Think Hula Hoops…
You can’t treat the Declaration of Independence as an account of history – it’s a sleazy advertising flyer drawn up by a bunch of politicians. You might as well take the Constitution of the USSR literally.
You just keep digging… eventually you’ll get that hole deep enough.
OK, we’ll skip over the things that caused a revolution, since you find them insufficiently offensive.
We’ll move along to 1814 (George still had 6 years to go then)
Yeah, great guy. Wonderful. Only burns down other nations capitals when he feels like it.
Might ask the folks in India and the Australian Aborigines about their treatment as well.
You want to keep at this? I’ve got a WHOLE lot of history of evil deeds of Britain between mid 1700s and 1820 to work with…
Yes, I know, not George III. But since I had only used him as an example of a class of monarchs, and didn’t even specify which George at that, I’m at liberty to show examples from other times that illustrate the issue of Monarchy and power abuse. Besides this event lead into more French and Indian Wars including George III where he kept up the same ‘style’.
But I guess what happened to Native Americans doesn’t count either… or Frenchmen…
Oh, and I probably ought to say something about the Black Fellas too:
Nothing like nicking a colony or two from your neighbors and having a nice bit of “Rumble In The Jungle” …
In fairness, British Slave Trading DID end under George III… after it had moved millions into slavery…
But I suppose folks in the Caribbean and blacks don’t matter ‘enough’ either…
and a touch on India:
Mustn’t forget the Seven Years’ War…
But I suppose being one of the main belligerent parties in a nearly global war is just too insignificant to matter. Besides, Britain won most of it (putting untold millions under subjugation… oh, pardon, “Crown Protection”…)
Yes sirreee… nothing to worry about from Monarchy in the 17th through 19th centuries… /sarcoff>;
It was just that kind of Military Adventure by the Ruling Class that our American Republic was intended to prevent on our turf. Unfortunately, we’ve no handed war making powers over to The One who is acting rather like a Monarch himself and just running off to have military adventures in places like Libya without a vote of Congress or the people.
You see, it isn’t George in particular that is the problem. It isn’t even British Monarchy in particular. It is the kind of leadership you get with ANY strong primary administrative authority. Again: That was the whole point of the comparison of Stalin, George, and Napoleon. THREE different forms of government, sharing only the concentration of power in the hands of the leader (even with nominal controls in place – much like Obama in Libya…).
I doubt that it matters who is put in that position, nor how much they love their dog and wife. Not even how “moral” their country and culture might be. Power Corrupts and leads to more use and abuse of power.
The only thing that really makes George III “different” is that he kept things nice and polite inside Britain (and in some of the “white colonies”) and most of the bad and abuse was focused on the, um, darker colonies. The USA kind of mucked it up by being what ought to have been a quiet “white colony” and going off to have a rebellion… then we got “the treatment” too. (See the burning of the capital and the history of the American Revolution…)
We see the world pretty much the same way- “Much of the rest of history and Political Economy is devoted to various attempts to get the balance right between us, and what we want (mostly to be left alone to live our lives as we see fit and free of oppression by the very powerful) v.s. The Evil Bastards and what they want (to “change the world” and gather to themselves huge power, wealth, and ‘historical importance’).”
It’s been a couple- make that 40;)- years since I have thought of Nietzsche- his Beyond Good and Evil book is out in my barn. I recall his thoughts on the will to power might be similar to EB’s when the manifestation of the power tends towards nihilism.
“In Beyond Good and Evil, he claims that philosophers’ “will to truth” (i.e., their apparent desire to dispassionately seek objective, absolute truth) is actually nothing more than a manifestation of their will to power; this will can be life-affirming or a manifestation of nihilism, but it is the will to power all the same.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beyond_Good_and_Evil
“Might ask the folks in India and the Australian Aborigines about their treatment as well.”
Wasn’t too nice to the Irish either.
Whether Great Evil Bastards or little evil bastards. They all believe the can direct your life better then you can, For your own good of course. These are the ones that need to be Trained in ethics as they have none built into their heads and hearts. pg
Oh, yeah, the other side of my ancestry…
What’s a little expropriation of land, famine, war, oppression and the eventual destruction of self governance under threat?
The Act Of Union was resented for a very long time…
like may other acts of forced union…
I doubt if training would help. I fear those parts of the brain simply do not exist. They’ve recently identified a gene that causes certain parts of the brain to not function. I heard it called The Warrior Gene, and it results in psychopaths in the right circumstances.
So maybe we could give all our politicians a DNA test and weed out the evil ones…. oh, wait, that might be all of them ;-)
Good Grubment is like a well built, well oiled, well maintained Little Steam Engine, Bad Grubment is like a poorly oiled and maintained Little Steam Engine and it just gets more dangerous the longer it’s not oiled and maintained –sometimes they explode and folks just have to build another Steam Engine and that’s not an easy thing to do. The more folks demand of their Grubment , and the less they maintain it in good working order, the worse it gets, and the more dangerous it becomes. The folks who built it were the best maintainers, their kids and grand kids were not as good but still OK, as time went by more and more crap was hooked up to the Poor Little Steam Engine and each generation to follow took less care of it than the previous. One day the people were so ignorant of what the Poor Little Steam Engine was built to do and how to maintain it that they didn’t even see all the guages in the red. Bad people, Poor Little Steam Engine. BOOM!
Human Nature is Very Harmful to All Machinery and Every Environment.
Ben Franklin once said, “You have a Good Little Steam Engine, if you can keep it.”
@Pascvaks Human nature…. Come on!, that´s too many….you mean: liberals´nature.
Men are either noble or ignoble,the first kind are those who stick to their principles, as a matter of fact (they can´t help doing any other way), the second kind, those guys who can even kill their own mother, if so told by their masters, and say it was in “self defense”. Problem is the world it is upside down.
Scratch a Modern, find a Caveman; scratch a Caveman, find a Beast. It has more to do with who’s scratching, and how hard, and where, and how often, and how deep, and if our hands are free, and if our mouth is taped, and a few other things I think, that determines how we react and what we become. You’ve mentioned your own country’s problems in your own lifetime. Is it really all about how liberal we are or how noble that determines how we act in various times? Or is it more the times, the provocations, the insanity of the moment?
I was always told I had a bad temper, that I could easily go off the deep end given sufficient proding, and that I could and would kill someone if I wasn’t careful. I haven’t killed anyone yet that I wasn’t being paid to kill by good and noble people who all (well almost all;-) said it was just fine and dandy and legal and they’d protect me if other people didn’t like it because I was doing it for them, their government, their way of life. You’re right that there are sheep and sheepdogs and wolves. But, given enough justification and proding and torture, even sheep can be driven to kill mad dogs and rabid wolves.
We is what we is, and there’s no changing it; it’s just that normally we behave better than not.
Yet there are still strong differenced between people based both on their genetics and on their developmental environment. Some people blow up almost immediately and have zero care about the discomfort they cause others. Many (most?) of them have “the warrior gene” and a shortage of those parts of the brain that “do empathy”. Others, like me, don’t blow up even under extraordinary duress. ( I’ve had it, in spades, details generally NOT provided other than in person with at least 1/2 gallon of wine to suppress the adrenalin response.) We have different genes and we were raised with a strong moral compass.
So first off, there IS “changing it” in that some folks with The Warrior Gene do not have issues. Generally they had a very loving environment when growing up. Some folks without it DO blow up. Generally they had an abusive environment. (That “very nice kid” who ‘goes postal’ and kills a half dozen abusers and bullies at school). So it can be changed, if with difficulty.
So I basically NEVER “go off the deep end”, but if things got bad enough, I could rationally plan to “do in” my abusers (were that the only alternative). That does not make me evil, it makes me desperate to not be destroyed. BIG difference.
It took me a long time to learn that the Abusive Bastards were not like me, didn’t care at all about the things that were important to me (and to other rational folks). It took only slightly longer to realize how to “talk to them in a language they could understand” and limit their impact. (Basically, the only rational response is an irrational physical response…. odd that…) That does not mean I “flipped”, it means the only thing THEY understand was the only means of effective communications.
So “scratch me” and you find a scratched rational modern person wondering what happened. I had to create a synthetic “caveman behaviour set” to effectively interact with the cavemen… but that didn’t make me one. Simply put: I don’t “do” anger well at all. I slide off into dismay, introspection, and sadness at the world instead. If someone wants to poke you until you get angry, that will continue forever… unless you do an artificial display they will ‘understand’.
So while I think you are correct for the 80% of people each side of the mean, that 10% at each edge are hard core violent and ignoble for one group and quietly noble for the other. For those ends, I agree with Adolfo. That I’m at the far edge of one of those 10% bits helps me see it, I think.
Sidebar on Courts:
Part of what pisses me off (code words for ’causes lots of dismay and introspective sadness’…) about our legal system is that it has EMOTIONAL expectations. A person is expected to display “contrition” (whatever THAT is…) and have a variety of other “appropriate” emotional displays. Don’t have them, you get a harsher sentence. I don’t wear my emotional state on my sleeve. That does not mean I have no emotions. Mostly it just means I learned that display of them gets me attacked by cavemen who see them as weakness. (They aren’t). So if I’m ever in court I’m likely to be that pasty faced passive looking guy who gets a double sentence for not “emoting appropriately”. So if, for example, I ran over a kid in a car accident and was up for involuntary manslaughter, I’d be horridly distressed by it. The self flagellation morally would be intense. BUT, that “weakness” would never be displayed due to having learned it gets you beaten. Sitting in court with a neutral and unemotional expression then (no “remorse” display) will likely get a ‘double’ on the sentencing. What has happened, is done. It can not be undone. That is was involuntary says there is nothing I could have done to change my volition. There is no “guilt” to attach to my beliefs or attitudes. But none of that matters. Only the “display” for the emotionally driven cavemen who control your fate is what matters…. Stupidity of high degree. The presumption is that lack of “display” means you have a ‘bad attitude’. Most of the time that’s folks with psychopathic problems. For them, no amount of added punishment will fix their broken brains (that have a demonstrable genetic component). Some of the time, it’s folks like me who have simply thought things through and come to grips with their failings and the failings of the world around them. Punishing them for being more balanced and centered than the average guy, even in a terrible circumstance, is itself a psychopathology… but one that’s legal. Go figure…
So, in short, you can’t treat all folks as the same. It is essential to think in terms of the central few sigmas, AND in terms of the 5 to 6 sigma folks at BOTH ends… but we don’t.
@E.M. It took only slightly longer to realize how to “talk to them in a language they could understand” and limit their impact.
That´s the economic language you master!, they cannot thing or perceive anything different but GOLD.
Agree. There’s the exception to everything, and generally the bell curve rules. I know you’re right, some won’t start and some won’t stop, no matter what. On the edge of the flock are those who will protect and kill, beyond the edge are those who will kill and devour.
Pingback: Bob Beckel’s Bogus Bias | Musings from the Chiefio