Home / Culture and Society / Community Organizer’s Toolkit, An Adjunct To Mao’s Little Redbook (Part II)

Community Organizer’s Toolkit, An Adjunct To Mao’s Little Redbook (Part II)

Please Share...Print this pageTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook0Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0Share on Tumblr0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

Social Darwinism, the mainstay of political philosophy known as libertarianism, would have us believe that competition provides us with the gist of the evolutionary principle at work, a naturally acquired trait which explains the survival of the individual, the species, even the society at large. This philosophy is buttressed at times by appeals to biblical if not moral themes, to “industriousness” and the “just desserts” kind of thing, and capitalism emerges as the predominant mode of production, the heart of the economic system at work: those who control the capital and, by extension, the labor of others, are either morally or intellectually superior and, in representing thus the higher rung of moral or evolutionary development, are justified on those very grounds; and the cosmic order (again, either moral or evolutionary) is being preserved. In The Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism, Max Weber offers a penetrating analysis of the religious impulse and how it forges both the objective fact and the subjective belief. Frédéric Bastiat’s life and works are devoted to providing the justification.

As an aside, the political philosophy which goes by the name of liberalism represents an improvement. It can’t do away with competition as the key principle which governs human affairs, economic or otherwise. It can’t do so because it takes capitalism for granted and, in so doing, it is, in effect, an ideological justification of capitalism. The improvement comes in the form of offering protection, mostly by way of countermeasures, juridical-legalistic in character and political in origin – a mitigating factor, as it were, designed for the express purpose of keeping the capitalist predatory practices in check. It’s the first time in the history of humankind, I daresay, that the State is posited as an ever-present counterbalance to an economic system in place, to its potentially deleterious effects, more precisely.

That’s the dubious legacy of liberalism, this constant butting of heads between institutions political and economic while all along, mind you, the symbiotic relationship between the two flourishes. In the best case scenario, the result is a stalemate. In the worst, when the state overplays its hand and goes extreme, the result is “statism.”

As another aside, I should state that liberalsm, as I have defined it, is a step down from the vision elucidated by Adam Smith, the original polemicist on behalf of the capitalist system. To his credit, Smith spoke of “moral sentiment” as the necessary ingredient, of regulation only secondarily. And whilst it’s true that liberalism pays lip service to the former, denouncing pure and outright greed, it doesn’t take a moral stance. Just like with competition, greed, too, is taken for granted as the natural order of things, as part and parcel of the human condition, the only thing to do is to control it. Regulation is the main thrust.

I shan’t argue here with the likes of Bastiat who see in the advent of capitalism the realization of a just world order. I’m well aware it’s a popular sentiment among some, but I’m also convinced it makes a farce of what I understand as morality or moral outlook. To regard the poor and the downtrodden as in some way deserving of their miserly condition is not only cruel but downright immoral. Just because you managed to pull yourself by your own bootstraps, it doesn’t mean everyone can; and to hold it against those who haven’t flies in the face of charity. So let those who think so stew in their own juice, is my response.

It’s a different matter, however, when it comes to the evolutionary principle, when reduced, that is, to competition as the decisive element in determining the outcome of human affairs. Not only is it couched in relatively speaking morally-neutral terms, circumventing thus the usually ugly and inconclusive debate concerning justification; it’s also uniquely productive in admitting the positing of viable alternatives.

Altruism is one such alternative to competition as the all-definitive, if not vulgar, expression of the evolutionary principle, and it’s not without credence among evolutionists (Richard Dawkins, for instance) and sociobiologists (E. O. Wilson) alike. Apparently, David Sloan Wilson, the author of The Neighborhood Project: Using Evolution to Improve My City, One Block at a Time, belongs to the same line of thinkers.

I’ll conclude in Part III.

Powered by

About Roger Nowosielski

  • jamminsue

    I eagerly await part III

  • Thanks, jamminsue, for opening up the comments space.

    In case you missed it, here’s the link to Part I.

  • I really hope there is going to be a big payoff in part three, as this episode really failed to build on the promising start you made in part one…

  • troll

    …personally I’d take the train out of Memphis

    2 1/2 bills and 2 1/2 days puts you on the Wharf w/ 100 lbs of your stuff

  • Right, but what do I do when I get there? I wouldn’t mind crashing on the streets in the summertime if I were twenty years younger. And I can’t impose on “friends.” They never come through when you’re in dire need.

    I’m not going to stay in a shelter, however temporarily. That’s why a vehicle is a must.

    But perhaps I’m being chickenshit.

  • Sorry to have disappointed you, Christopher. I believe I made a number of neat, tactical moves in order to isolate the subject matter from the usual clatter than tends to accompany such discussions. At least it was short if not sweet.

    I’ll do my best to live up to expectations in Part III, and I’m not being sarcastic.

  • troll

    …I’d use your connections to line a room up in advance w/ the $ you save not having to buy register insure and repair (in bumfuck kansas) a car

    you already know the city and its transportation system – and generally where you’d want to start out yes?

  • Yes, was thinking of that. Probably the best course of action.

  • troll

    ok ok all you residents of bumfuck — save your quarters…no more angry calls

    let me apologize by saying that in all honesty breaking down in eden would be little better

  • What’s ridiculous is the cost of everything. Back in the seventies, I could get me a reliable VW bug for up to five bills, and the gas was for a song. I made two or three trips cross-country on barely no money at all.

    If I still had my Camaro, the cost of gasoline to CA would run me close to five bills. You can’t win.

  • Alright, I’ll bite. What’s your story, Roger?

    Email me if you don’t want to post it publicly.

  • Here’s what I (think I) have so far:

    You’re in Memphis. You’re broke and unemployed. You want to get to San Francisco. You don’t have a car. Is this right?

    First question: Why do you want to get to San Francisco? Do you know people there? Is there a job waiting for you there? What do you plan to do after you get there?

  • Appreciate your concern, RJ. I will email you tomorrow.

  • Excellent, Roger. Looking forward to part III.

    In regards to altruism, you may wish to add to your considerations this feminist pov. It seems very much on the mark to me.

  • To get a really brief overview watch this short video, from the ‘A (M)Otherworld Is Possible’ conference, which states what I think are the main problems and solutions.

  • Happy to hear from you, Cindy. Apologize for my impatience in the past.

    Keep in touch.

  • @15 will do.

  • What a good idea to go by train. I love trains. What a nice way to arrive. I read that San Francisco has like 300 residential hotels. Is that true? Let me know when you get there and I can send you a nice care package.

    (Just been a bit busy–imagines the stack of dishes still in the sink and the overflowing laundry basket.)

  • It’s not like it used to be, Cindy. Most of them are now run by Housing Authority and you can’t just check in. Got to deal with the red tape. And those who are “independent” charge upwards of $200 a week and then you got to move out before the month is over so that you won’t have “residential status” if your record isn’t good — like a prior eviction.

    Anyway, we’ll talk late.

  • later (typing in the dark)

  • Anarcissie

    In my view, the Welfarism or Social Democracy espoused by modern liberalism is basically a strategy to head off some of social forces arising as a result of the destructive effects of capitalism in order to divert, co-opt or destroy movements towards alternative modes of social organization. Since those who are at the top of capitalist institutions also control the state, the state tends to be the instrument through which palliative measures are applied. But I’ve said all that before.

    I thought the question of authoritarianism in community organizing, or any form of activism, was still interesting, rather than having floated under the bridge. It seems to me that struggling against authoritarian institutions with authoritarianism is not likely to have a good result. What did Alinsky think about it? I’ve long lost my copy of Rules for Radicals.

    As I’ve already given my strategy for getting out of Memphis I won’t repeat it.

  • Paragraph one – naturally. It would be interesting to see, though, what kind of situation will obtain once the welfare state will no longer be in the position to employ “palliative measures” because of its own faltering economy. You might want to give a quick look at this BC article and the short thread.

    I do intend to examine the issue you raise in paragraph two in the conclusion. Funny you mention Alinsky, though. Never read him, but it did occur to me to look him up in connection with the topic.

    Here’s a pdf version of the rules …, rather difficult to read at times but better than nothing. I believe Hillary did her dissertation on Alinsky, and that, too, might be available online.

    Lastly, as I have already stated to Cindy, I apologize for any show of impatience (guess was overly-excited by my own ideas). I well realized the background of your comments, as representing your own past experiences with activism, but I didn’t respond as I ought to have.

  • A stand-alone pdf file.

  • Anarcissie

    I mention Alinsky because our buddy ‘Ozark Michael’ engaged in a backchannel discussion some months ago with me in which he opined, among other things, that Alinsky was some kind of American Lenin. I disagreed, pointing out that A. was somewhat short on abstract political theory (to my knowledge) and certainly not a Marxist. However, the Left is a sensibility or an intuition rather than a theory, so perhaps O.M., like many conservatives, was able to cut to the chase while I was still stumbling about in the thickets of analysis. I haven’t gotten around to re-reading Alinsky yet to see what I re-think. Of course regardless of what Alinsky says, I will mostly likely remain instransigeant in my belief that non-authoritarian ends require non-authoritarian means.

    Hillary Rodham wrote some interesting things, albeit out of a strictly liberal framework. In a way, they were sort of radical. I don’t know what became of her.

  • Well, American Lenin is quite a qualification, so I suppose the proposition can stand; Americans are shy on theorizing.

    I think Alinsky’s stance with focus on the practical is purposeful: he speak of taking the high road and the low road, and considers the latter much tougher. In this respect I agree.

    Yes, he’s definitely not a Marxist and still operates within the liberal power nexus. The kind of support he got at the time from Church leaders and local businesses — of course, that’s always easier when you operate in the inner city, because of the kind of pressure you can exert — made it still possible to believe that significant gains could be made (in fact, were made) by butting the existing power structures, including the University of Chicago. It’s doubtful, however, whether he’d continue believing so today. The capitalist-liberalism system hadn’t reared yet its ugly head and shown itself to be intransigent. Even so, Alinsky was a believer in true democracy — a position which is difficult to fault even under the present conditions (utopian as it may be).

    I’m halfway through finishing Hillary’s thesis and I find her exposition quite satisfactory. I don’t think she operates (at the time) within the conventional framework defined by liberalism (although again, the same qualifications as regards the time frame apply). What happened to her? The idealism of youth must have faded away, although there’s no question she’s quite aware of the kinds of social problems that faced the American society back then as well as today.

    Interestingly, her BA thesis dates back to 1969, the same year I completed my undergraduate studies.

  • Clavos

    Interestingly, her BA thesis dates back to 1969, the same year I completed my undergraduate studies.

    I too, Roger.

  • Clavos and Roger Nowosielski have Fort Gordon in common, too. (I read this in a comment a few minutes ago; still catching up with BC things…)

  • Interestingly, Clavos and Irene, Alinsky, the most radical or radicals, was against the War on Poverty program — against the “give me” approach to solving the poverty problem; he believed, instead, in community-based initiatives independent of the City Hall or the federal government.

    Today’s liberals should be put to shame. They don’t believe in the common man.

  • If everyone treated everyone else decently (i.e., if nobody were “on the take,” either in the manner you describe, Roger, or in the manner of brainy innovators who take unfair advantage of the more brawny but essential workers, or in the manner of those who deny the humanity of the helpless ones who cannot make a contribution to the economy–and that’s a HUGE “if”) then capitalism within the context of a constitutional republic would seem to be the most efficient way to manage production and community decision-making. Anarchy, socialism, Communism, monarchy are other modes that would work, if efficiency is not the be-all and end-all. Efficiency is what drives physical evolution, but there are virtues other than efficiency which foster other kinds of evolution.

    The most radical of radical beliefs (I believe) is the belief that a community of people (on the local level all the way up to global) who “do unto others as they would have others do unto them” will thrive under any form of government, and any form of government will fail when this requirement is not met.

    Meeting this requirement through community cooperation at the local level (the recommendation I think you have been making with this series?) is a very good place to start: charity begins at home.

  • Anarcissie,

    There’s a glitch in the stand-along pdf file I linked to earlier. The document I linked to in the comment immediately prior to that is not corrupted.

    Just so you know.

  • Clavos

    The most radical of radical beliefs (I believe) is the belief that a community of people (on the local level all the way up to global) who “do unto others as they would have others do unto them” will thrive under any form of government, and any form of government will fail when this requirement is not met. (emphasis added)

    Quoted for Truth.

  • I think you mean “when this requirement met.

  • Sorry, I misspoke. I thought you meant “centralized” government, from without as it were.

  • The meaning of “government” which emerges out of #32 is “self-government.”

  • Clavos and Irene

    #34 and #35 result from a misunderstanding. Irene’s #30 has completely eluded me.

  • It’s a packed comment, Irene. I don’t think there’s anything there I’d disagree with.

    1 Efficiency is not the only virtue (and neither is “incessant growth,” I’d add).

    1a Scarcity is a myth.

    I can do no better here than cite Anarcissie from another thread (comment #7):

    “The fiction of scarcity is necessary as a justification for the elites to retain and expand their power. From this position they defraud and exploit working people, squeeze the life out of the poor, spread death and destruction abroad, propertize our common cultural heritage and even
    our genes, pollute public discourse with propaganda, poison the earth, and in general turn everything into money and
    power for themselves. They do this not because they are necessarily evil or sadistic, but because it is the nature
    of the culture that they, as well as we, are caught in. They are doing what they think they have to do.”

    1b Production out of abundance is no virtue either. (We don’t need ten brands of toothpaste.) It’s a misdirection of resources which could be put to better use (to promote the public good and other, more worthwhile projects).

    2 Efficiency (as regards production) would be more of a virtue if it translated to freeing great masses of people from the drudgery of oftentimes uninspired work so as to allow them engage in more creative pursuits — without unduly compromising their material well-being.

    3 The eventuality contemplated in #2 would require the sharing of wealth (rather than hoarding or appropriating it).

    4 The efficiency as regards production is driven by the profit motive. In the absence of that motive, it’s atypical for groups or organizations to muster sufficient motivation in the interest of efficiency. Quite the contrary, bureaucratic structure of all forms and guises are notorious for their inefficiency, which is the norm.

    4a Aside from the profit motive, situations of dire crisis, such as national emergency, have proven to provide the requisite kind of motivation. But again, it’s an exception that proves the rule.

    4b The application of #4 is restricted to organizations and groups. It excludes select individuals — writers, artists, scientists — all who engaged in a labor of love.

    5 Attitudes expressed in 3 & 4 are incompatible. The sharing of wealth countermands the profit motive. To endorse the former is to allow some inefficiencies to creep in (although there may be a happy medium).

    6 If capitalism were to adopt along the lines you suggest, then it would no longer be capitalism (as we know it). Which isn’t to say that some future economic system yet to emerge will fail to make use of some of the vestiges of capitalism — e.g., the mobilization of human and natural resource.

    7 There still remains the problem of the State (as per my series on anarchism). The constitutional republic you speak of is unable to make good on its promise because it’s driven by its own interests in a world which still is, by and large, dog-eat-dog. There’s only one solution to the “state problem”: one state.

    8 The conditions you’re stipulating approximate the Kingdom of God. I’m in total agreement.

    Perhaps Anarcissie can punch holes in your argument. I can’t.

  • Igor

    I´m surprised that anyone believes that competition is the essence of human evolution, since it seems obvious to me that without cooperation the human race would never have made it this far. The human animal is weak of tooth and claw, fur covering is inadequate and the human infant requires years of nurture to become independent.

    Also, it seems clear that survival into the future depends utterly on cooperation and teamwork. Competition will just result in nuclear destruction or environment destruction.

  • Anarcissie

    In regard to efficiency: efficiency is a ratio of reward or profit to cost. Reward and cost are values. Therefore, a thing or system cannot be said to be ‘efficient’ unless a framework of value(s) has been assumed, specified, or understood.

    We can say an engine is 30% efficient if it converts 30% of the potential energy in its fuel to torque, but only we desire torque.

    Maintaining capitalism as a permanent political-economic system is efficient only if we desire what it produces during the eternity we are supposed to maintain it.

  • @38

    Who are the culprits, Igor? Perhaps you can identify the rascals so we can give them thorough trashing.

  • Anarcissie,

    I realize of course that the context of your remark in #39 is a limited one, and I can’t argue vs. the general tenor.

    But try this for size. The value of torque — not the best example but it will do — may be regarded as “instrumental” value. More to the point, perhaps, the value of efficiency as regards production can also be regarded as instrumental value, in so far that it frees us to engage in other pursuits.

    Granted, no values are “absolute,” but we can speak of a hierarchy.

  • On a more positive note, there’s a movement afoot — “Occupy Wall Street”. Start at the fifteen minute mark if you want to skip the headlines (Democracy Now! show).

  • A related story – a new book’s out by Ron Suskind, Confidence Men:

    How Rahm Emanuel, Larry Summers and Tim Geithner Hijacked the Obama Presidency.”

    Here’s a juicy quote:

    Those three …”hijacked” the presidency in order to pursue their own agendae; Geithner, for example, “was insubordinate,” ignoring Obama’s directive that the Treasury consider the dissolution of Citigroup back in 2009. (Geithner also stifled Elizabeth Warren’s attempts at reform at every turn, like some horribly evil, pro-banker Bugs Bunny.) But Moss says that Summers might have been worse:

    Peter Orszag relays this eviscerating quote that Summers said to him about Obama during the worst of the economic distress. According to Orszag, Summers says, “You know, Peter we’re really home alone. There’s no adult in charge. Clinton would never have made these mistakes.”

  • BTW, Anarcissie, did you have a chance to look at Hillary’s thesis?

    It is a worthwhile read, and there are some issues I’d like to air out prior to resuming the Toolkit series.

  • Roger, you unpacked OUT of that comment some things that I never packed IN, which is probably why you found nothing in it with which you could disagree, once you had determined, post-comment #36, that its meaning no longer completely eluded you! (No offense taken; rather, a hearty laugh was enjoyed.)

    I believe good people make good government, not the other way around.

    The Kingdom of God (in your point 8)? I still believe that has something to do with an actual God. If I have anything at all worthwhile to say on the net, it’s probably not in hole-punching exchanges with “good government (anarchy) makes good people” folk like yourself. My time might be better spent motivating those who believe they are following God’s marching orders to listen to the Source rather than to some pol using God’s name in vain.

    And on that note, I say goodbye to BC again for awhile.

  • Baronius

    Libertarianism isn’t allied with social Darwinism, not necessarily, and probably not even commonly. You’re ignoring the many people who’ve come to believe that government isn’t the best tool for the improvement of individual welfare. Heck, from the first article, it looks like you’re one of them. You just hang on to that old bit of liberal stereotyping despite yourself.

    I’ve said it before, most political conservatives are philosophical liberals who have come to believe that political liberalism just isn’t the way to support liberal principles. They’ve moved “beyond” liberalism to stand true to liberal principles, just as you have.

  • Igor

    First sentence of the article states:

    ¨Social Darwinism, the mainstay of political philosophy known as libertarianism, would have us believe that competition provides us with the gist of the evolutionary principle at work, a naturally acquired trait which explains the survival of the individual, the species, even the society at large.¨

    I don´t think, based on that, that libertarianism can work.

  • Baronius

    Igor – As I just noted, the statement is incorrect. Don’t let one sentence on a blog determine your political principles.

  • In that case, we’re on the same page, Baronius — if “liberal principles” can be rendered “neutral” with respect to providing an ideological support for the capitalist system. I’m not certain they can, since liberal turn of thought is a child of Enlightenment (which, in turn, was instrumental in generating a brand new outlook, e.g., conquering of Nature). I don’t think it’s coincidental that, apart from the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution was also one of the immediate aftereffects. Thinking preceded and led to action in spheres political and economic.

    Perhaps a distinction can be made between “liberal principles” in the strictly philosophical sense and how they eventually actualize themselves in the realm of politics and political philosophy, but if so, then what’s the cash value of such a distinction when, in the first instance, these “principles” are divorced from real-life, concrete applications. “Liberal principles,” so understood, come down to nothing more than one’s personal philosophy (and that’s not what we’re discussing here).

    I’m not certain, therefore, whether one’s view as to the proper role of government provides a sufficient litmus test to the effect that one has moved “beyond” liberalism (unless by “liberalism” we mean a political philosophy whose main tenet is to protect people from themselves and others by means of government).

    I realize that’s how I defined “liberalism” in this article in the interest of brevity, and there’s merit to defining it so, but still … And if I’m right in my definition, then liberalism indeed comes across as a truncated and going-nowhere political philosophy.

    Which leads me to another question: What does “moving beyond” entail? Moving to where? Can “liberal principles,” when divorced from liberalism mean “mere permissiveness”? Again, that’s too shallow to build one’s political philosophy upon, not enough meat.

    Likewise with libertarianism. Many people may have moved beyond, as you say, the crude principles of Social Darwinism (though in this case, their view as to the role of government wouldn’t undergo the kind of change you’re talking about). So where exactly have they moved to?

    I think the very idea of “offering protection” lies at the heart of the matter and is the source of the problem. Perhaps we should be speaking instead of “empowerment.”

    I hope I’m not contradicting myself.

  • @47

    Igor, you’re forgetting the qualifier: “would have us believe that …”

    Obviously, I’m questioning the evolutionary principle(s) so postulated.

    And I disagree with the gist of Baronius’s comment (in #48) to the effect that libertarianism can work.

    Granted, my brief definition of it was somewhat of a caricature, again, in the interest of brevity, and therefore crude. Even so, the connections between Darwin, Herbert Spencer the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution,” John Locke and John Stuart Mill are simply too mind-boggling to be merely coincidental or tenuous.

  • The idea of Social Darwinism revolves not around evolution but around Darwin’s proposal of a mechanism to drive evolution.

    That mechanism was natural selection: the idea that some individuals have characteristics and attributes that allow them to survive and propagate in greater numbers.

    In biology, these “fitter” individuals don’t need the less fit ones in order to prosper. (They may feed on them in passing, but since they’re going to die out anyway they can’t rely on them.)

    The problem with applying Darwin’s idea to capitalism is that in the Social Darwinists’ scenario the “fittest” – the capitalists, the business owners – require a workforce of the “less fit” in order for their system to work.

    They have also already cast themselves, without much justification that I can determine, as the “fittest”.

    I agree with Baronius that libertarianism can’t really be equated with Social Darwinism. Libertarian theory, as I understand it, doesn’t demand the presence of capitalism, of a “fitter” class or of a “less fit” workforce. Indeed, I don’t think libertarians often take the trouble to think through exactly what their preferred system would need in order to work.

  • I don’t belief I equated the two, Dreadful. It may well be that Social Darwinism had come to be used as a form of justification, after the fact, that is.

    Here’s a quote, however, from the Wiki source cited in #50:

    “Spencerian views in 21st century circulation derive from his political theories and memorable attacks on the reform movements of the late 19th century. He has been claimed as a precursor by libertarians and anarcho-capitalism.”

  • Roger, as Igor already pointed out, it’s the first sentence of your article.

  • Dreadful — I said “would have us believe that …”

    If the construction is faulty or fails to convey the intended meaning, then I’m in the wrong.

    Furthermore, I’m using the term “mainstay.” Not exactly the most felicitous term for something I had in mind. Still, I don’t see how this amounts to the relation of equality. More like “an underpinning” was the meaning I was trying to convey.

    Again, if I was clumsy in my expression, I plead guilty.

  • If everyone treated everyone else decently (i.e., if nobody were “on the take,” either in the manner you describe, Roger, or in the manner of brainy innovators who take unfair advantage of the more brawny but essential workers, or in the manner of those who deny the humanity of the helpless ones who cannot make a contribution to the economy–and that’s a HUGE “if”) then capitalism within the context of a constitutional republic would seem to be the most efficient way to manage production and community decision-making.

    If pigs had wings, etc.

    A system based on greed and self-interest would be a good model if it didn’t function like what it is. I agree.

    (In capitalism, someone will always sell your daughter on the idea that she is unacceptable as she is and she needs to buy something to make herself worthwhile. They will do far worse to your sons.)

  • Is there a way around that problem in capitalism?

  • Is capitalism based on treating people decently?

  • Welcome back, Cindy. Voice of sanity.

  • Here is something I can argue: capitalism is not only based on greed (a corrupt basis to begin with) but it creates actual evil out of greed.

    That is, in other words, it is not limited to replicating greediness, it is corrupting of the human ‘soul’ the human ‘being’. Aside from being damaging to the human psyche, it creates monsters by creating new sicknesses to aspire to.

    I will show you what I mean, but not publicly as I couldn’t bring myself to replicate links to the marketplaces I have seen for fear some innocent person would click them. And they are all available free and easy and waiting to corrupt children.

  • Don’t estrange Irene. She’s a friend.

  • You could get rid of capitalism. You could even get rid of the first amendment, so that people could only tell your kids what some as yet unspecified entity wanted them to hear.

    You’d still need to tell your kid this: Kid, you’ll meet a lot of people who think they have a wonderful plan for your life. Know what you want, and what you can offer. Do your best to stay out of transactions that don’t have anything to do with those two things.

    Capitalism is morally neutral. I don’t want to argue that it is anything other than morally neutral, any more than I’d want to argue that the Internet is anything other than morally neutral. So what I’m saying to your invitation to engage in such an argument is: no thankyou ma’am, not today.

    (Please call again tomorrow when I am in a better mood.)

  • (Part of the bad mood, Cindy, has been caused by listening to a friend from church whose daughter is finally experiencing second-hand trauma after years of counselling victims of Ugandan Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army. Fourth hand trauma, I guess. Capitalism isn’t the problem. Religion isn’t the problem. There are cases where greed and selfishness isn’t even the problem. Unadulterated, irrational evil, a sick delight in watching others suffer, is the problem.)

  • Slavery wasn’t morally neutral, I suppose, because it treated people as object.

    Capitalism, therefore, is “morally-neutral” because it doesn’t, since we have a choice not to work? Is that the argument?

    But is it capitalism or the legal system in place which (to an extent) prevents the abuses? We used to have child-labor in the early stages, until appropriate legislation was passed. We’d probably still have it if it weren’t for that. And we still have sweat shops in the Third World countries, because the laws aren’t there to prevent it.

    So how is capitalism, when left to its own devices, “morally-neutral”?

    It must be “morally-neutral” in the same sense as guns are morally-neutral. There are only good people and bad people.

    Were there slave-owners who were “good people,” treating their slaves more humanely then the bad people? Did that make slavery any less an evil institution?

    Once Count Tolstoy came to a realization that slavery is evil, he freed his slaves. Tolstoy was a good man.

    (Just food for thought.)

  • Baronius

    Think about that, Roger. You connect Spencer with libertarianism on the basis of that sentence. But that sentence also connects him to anarcho-capitalism. Would you then say that Cindy’s thought is based on social Darwinism? Of course not, because that only represents one strain of anarchism.

    You’re forgetting about those who believe that libertarianism allows for the greatest compassion. And even though Cindy says it mockingly, I do believe that capitalism is based on treating people decently – that it’s non-coercive and functions only if people keep their agreements. Just as important, it allows the individual to do what he wants to with his money, including providing charitable donations. And no historical system has ever provided so many with prosperity.

  • “Unadulterated, irrational evil, a sick delight in watching others suffer, is the problem.”

    But if that’s the case, Irene, then surely we’ve got nothing to worry about because, fortunately, there aren’t too many people like that — only the psychopaths and otherwise mentally deranged.

    On the other hand, Hannah Arendt spoke of the banality of evil in conjunction with Eichmann — quite a different conception, I daresay.

    It’s amazing, though, what otherwise “normal” people might resort to once their powers are threatened? I need not provide any examples. Were they evil prior to the threat, when everything was going their way, or did they “become” evil all of a sudden once the situation became dire?

  • I did not make the connection on the basis of any one sentence, Baronius. I only looked up the Wiki source after Dreadful’s comment and then I stumbled upon that sentence. Then it cited it.

    In any case, our discussion was about libertarianism, not capitalism, so I won’t deal here with that aspect of your comment.

    Why do I make that connection, then? Social Darwinism does seem to provide the justification for the kind of view that, say, Dave Nalle subscribes to. And that’s regardless of whether Dave himself would own up to it or not, and regardless of the quality of Dave’s heart. It just seems to fit, that’s all.

    In fact, I can’t think of any other metaphysics (and both of us know that all political views are grounded on some kind of metaphysics, whether we’re are aware of it or not) that would fit better!

  • Glenn Contrarian

    I think one should beware of all-or-nothing attitudes towards any one political system. Pure capitalism – just like pure libertarianism and pure socialism – has inherent dangers. The danger of pure capitalism is corporate power run amok with little concern for very real environmental concerns that can seriously affect the nation as a whole. I need not cover the dangers of unbounded libertarian and purely socialist systems.

    A better solution, IMO, is to take the best of each – capitalism’s economic dynamism, the libertarian aims of freedom e.g drugs, prostitution, and keeping out of war, and socialism’s protections of the common citizen, the social safety net – and keep them for the benefit of the nation.

    Similarly, there has to be limitations on each concept. Capitalism cannot be allowed to run roughshod over the common citizen, there will be no libertarian ideal of “limited government”, and socialism cannot be embraced to the point that we become another Greece.

    If you’ll think about it, just such a ‘Goldilocks’ mixture is what America’s been trying to do for some time now…and that’s how it should be: no one system should go beyond its bounds to the point that it harms the American nation or the American people.

    Currently, with the resurgence of the Ron Paul movement, the libertarian sector is trying to make itself felt. Capitalism had its most recent victories in Citizens United and the weakness of the national responses to the bankers of the Great Recession and to the BP oil spill.

    And socialism, thank goodness, had a signal victory in the passage of the Affordable Care Act – if it survives through 2014.

    Moderation in all things, right? Just some food for thought.

  • I don’t reject, Glenn, the libertarian ideas as regards individual freedoms. How can I? But I do reject the notion that those freedoms are in any sense absolute, or the idea that the individual’s freedom can be given serious consideration in a vacuum as it were, apart and independently from the context of the larger community.

    It’s on that score that the libertarians have got it wrong.

  • Anarcissie

    If you have capitalism, then you will have a class system. If you have a class system then you will have class war, because class is war. The price of capitalist dynamism is a certain number of lives, taken whole or in part. This is the ‘big airplane problem’ I wrote about somewhere around here previously.

    You cannot have class and peace because human beings are willful animals and at least some of them will not abide subjugation.

  • Sorry to hear that, Irene.

    I was watching a show today about a care worker who was distributing food in some African country…under armed convoy…it was so disturbing I turned it off. I can’t even remember the name of the country though I watched for 20 minutes. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to understand in person what you must be learning.

  • Roger,

    Interesting that you bring up “the banality of evil”. Though I speak a lot about pathology, it’s always normative pathology and therefore invisible as pathology at all to people who do not question those norms.

    As I see it, evil is learned–directly or indirectly. Our culture produces sadists– normal ones. That is, producing sadists is normal for this culture. Over time that is growing worse and less visible. Partly because it is also becoming tolerated as okay and fed into the psyches of young people.

    I saw a program on people who commit evil deeds. It contained Zibardo’s prison experiment which demonstrated that regular college kids are easily capable of real sadism in a culture that promotes it. That is–within less than 48 hours of submerging these typical students in such a culture sadism blossomed.

    Anyway, I would like Baronius and Glenn to explain how to remove what is actually expanding through capitalism. How do I unsee rape porn, as a 12 year old boy once it appears on a screen. (Or for that matter, how do I unsee it as a 50 year old woman?) These markets are created through capitalism.

    I am not seeing any evidence for the ‘pie in the sky’ capitalism that Glenn and Baronius etc are hawking. It doesn’t exist. We got where we are because of what we do.

    Second, to Glenn: Prostitution is not freedom. The thing that is wrong with your conceptualization is the thing that is wrong with our culture. I.E. you got that concept because you live in a culture where it is permissible to imagine such a thing. That is my point. People can believe the most harmful things and think nothing about how utterly destructive they are. It’s just ‘normal’ to see prostitution as ‘normal’, as a matter of personal freedom or personal choice. Legalizing prostitution has nothing to do with ‘freedom’ in the sense you mean it. It has to do with not further punishing and oppressing women, who, on the whole, have fewer choices for success.

  • Better solution: create a world that eliminates every reason for prostitution to exist.

  • Capitalism requires scarcity.

    Scarcity creates a lot of terrible things.

    How do we get around that?

  • Well, Cindy, Irene knows about the banality of evil, that sometimes just keeping silent is a “crime.” She was just overwhelmed by the news of her friend.

  • #73

    Right, see #37, point 1a.

  • However, Cindy, you’re running into another kind of problem when you’re trying to protect people from what you deem is harmful for them. (Which I’m not offering as any kind of defense of capitalism!) Don’t forget, that’s what liberals do, and that’s the role they assign to government — to offer protection.

    So when you do have a chance, re-read my last article in the “Defense of Anarchism” series. I’d be interested to know what you think of “protection” given the context I presented it in.

  • Mistake – meant “Of Mice and Men …”

  • Roger,

    I don’t get your meaning. Do you mean I would like to protect innocent people from slavery, poverty, etc? Then I suggest you do too or there’s nothing to talk about. And if you were to not, then there is also nothing to talk about.

  • I read your “Of Mice and Men” just now and I am still bewildered at what possible meaning you have infused into my words to be able to say the things you are saying in 76.

    Have I suggested I would take steps to protect people from themselves?

    Though I disagree with you in that piece where you suggest that we are willing not unwitting consumers, the most I would do to offer protection would indeed be through education. Is my clear description of what I think it is bad for people to consume making you believe that I intend protecting them or preventing them from it?

    What I care about is how what people do affects others who have less power in a given scenario. That is my concern. And, of course I care about children, and think that they require protection from use and abuse and that includes being turned into future anti-social consumers of their fellow humans.

    As a social member, I would be remiss if I did not concern myself with my fellow human. We are not islands.

  • Off to bed for me. Nightie night. Happy dreams.

  • It’s not a matter of what we want to do — it’s more of a matter how do propose to do it that would be different from a typical liberal response. Education, fine, working on changing the system that would be exploitation-free, also fine. But what else do you do in the meantime: censorship of pornography, banning unhealthy foods, protecting kids from exposure to unsavory influences by homeschooling? Just asking.

    Don’t get mad at me for raising these questions, and no, I’m not being contrary. You should know I mean no harm.

    Turning in now since my laptop is overheated. It’s been on all day. Talk to you tomorrow.

  • Just one more point on ‘the trouble with people’.

    The trouble with people (whatever you see it as) exists BECAUSE of what we are doing not independently of it. There are not just some bad apples independent of some great system. The system created those apples. If there are bad apples then one must ask what is wrong with the system that created them.

    Doing what we do produces what you see before you.

  • But what else do you do in the meantime: censorship of pornography, banning unhealthy foods…

    I would never suggest anything of the sort.

    protecting kids from exposure to unsavory influences by homeschooling?

    IMO, protecting children from uncritical exposure to indoctrinating institutions and mind-warping media is the best (and in my opinion the only) way to change the world.

  • Roger,

    I am not mad at you for raising your questions. I am a wee bit sad that you didn’t already have the answers to them.

    If a person’s values and ideas are not understood by anyone–does that person exist in the world at large?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cindy –

    There are two big reasons to legalize prostitution – health coverage and regular checkups for the prostitutes and legal protection for the prostitutes. Otherwise, prostitutes have none of that, get prosecuted for trying to make a living, and work the streets instead of inside a relatively safe establishment.

    Anyone who has traveled the world will tell you that prostitution is all over the world, Cindy, even in the most hardcore of the Muslim countries. You might hate it, but it’s there. Always has been, always will be. That’s why it’s called the oldest profession. I don’t like it one bit either, not now that I’m no longer quite so young and stupid. But I also know that for those poor and uneducated girls who all too often wind up being prostitutes would MUCH rather have the veneer of protection – health coverage and legal protection – that legality would bring.

    This is not so much a matter of right-and-wrong, but a matter of how to make the wrong not quite so terrible as it would be otherwise. There’s a time and place for idealism, but this isn’t it – prostitution isn’t a problem that idealism will ever solve.


    So you do the best you can with what you’ve got – and in this case, it’s to make the wrong not quite so terrible as it would be otherwise.

  • Anarcissie

    I think you can count on liberalism to get rid of classical slavery. (In its modern form, that is; Locke justified it, and Jefferson practiced it.) Slaves don’t seem to be good consumers, and consumerism is a major sink of surplus production, needed to preserve scarcity. What liberalism-capitalism can’t get rid of is itself.

    Before calling the cops to suppress prostitution, I’d ask the prostitutes about it.

  • Glenn,

    My objection was with your equation of legalizing prostitution with ‘freedom’, none of your counter addresses that. I don’t recall supporting the legal suppression of prostitution anymore than I supported legally trying to suppress pornography or crisco.

    Yes I am afraid prostitution is everywhere. It is a patriarchal invention after all. It will be there at least as long as capitalism or other hierarchical, patriarchal, or oppressive modes of economy exist. Or until women get the idea that we should do away with most men. (wink–just kidding–barely) A situation I would prefer to what is actually happening–women adopting the male domination model and practicing it and calling it equal rights.

  • @84

    Yes, there is an answer of sorts.

  • Further, I want to discuss #83 with you.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cindy –

    I’ve often thought that it’s the great good fortune of men that women haven’t yet figured out that they don’t need us. I’m not kidding.

    But the prostitution thing will not go away regardless of what political system is in place. There will always be some who are poor, and some young women who are willing to “marry up” just to have a better life. Sadly, there are not a few parents who push this as well. And what is such a marriage but a form of legalized prostitution?

  • What if the economic system were say communism or anarchism or matriarchal gift economy? There are other economic arrangements that do not require having any poor people.

    True, women don’t need men, at least since the invention of this.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    *chuckle* We just moved – those would come in handy.

    Anyway, I know you proved me wrong on anarchy…but even if everyone had the exact same amount of money (or a system where money was unnecessary), there will always be inequalities in social standing since political systems cannot compensate for the psychological range in people…and as long as there are social inequalities – or inequalities of any kind – there will be some form of prostitution (and not just by women (see Ashton Kutcher)).

  • Clavos

    There are other economic arrangements that do not require having any poor people.

    But they all inevitably wind up with some, in the end.

    No philosophical/political system can overcome the inherent evil of human beings.

  • Clavos

    But the prostitution thing will not go away…

    Not as long as coupling exists as a lifestyle, anyway. Dating and courtship are a form of prostitution.

  • Clavos

    If there are bad apples then one must ask what is wrong with the system that created them.

    “Bad apples” exist in every system ever tried by humanity since the apes. Methinks it’s not the systems, but human beings themselves — too many of ’em are bad to one degree or another — even as children.

  • Baronius

    Roger – Which statements do you think Dave would agree with:

    – The rich have the right to use their money however they wish.
    – The rich have an obligation to take care of the poor, but government has no right to enforce it.
    – The rich have an obligation to take care of the poor, and government has the right to enforce that obligation, but is less efficient at it than non-governmental charities.
    – The rich have an obligation to take care of the poor, but a government that’s strong enough to enforce that obligation is too strong.
    – The rich have an obligation to take care of the poor, and the best way they can do that is through investing and spending.

    I don’t know which he’d agree with. It’d be nice if he’d stop by and answer. But a person could call himself libertarian and agree with any of those statements, and only the first could be connected to social Darwinism.

  • Baronius

    “Better solution: create a world that eliminates every reason for prostitution to exist.”

    You mean, no more penises?

  • So Cindy, do you want to discuss #83?

    Would you want to protect your kid from gay teachers? Or how about the kids from the inner city (by sending her to a private school)? Or how about from “religious education”? Or, if you were a Catholic, for instance, from secular, public schools (because they teach evolution rather than creation)?

    Let’s tackle with these for starters!

  • You mean, no more penises?

    I mean no more poverty. I would think that would be apparent to anyone.

  • Roger,

    You know me, don’t you? A little? Haven’t I always expressed the claim that schools function to indoctrinate children into the dominant culture?

    Now, let’s start by you telling me–would you send children to the church of scientology for an education?

    To answer your questions:

    Would you want to protect your kid from gay teachers?

    Yes, I would. I don’t give special exception to people based on their sexuality where their actions (albeit unintentionally, through their own blindness) serve to indoctrinate children into the dominant culture and its values and biases, which I happen to think are pathological and anti-life.

    Or how about the kids from the inner city (by sending her to a private school)?

    This question shows a lack of understanding of the gist of what I am saying. I object to all schools which transmit the values and ‘norms’ of the dominant culture.

    Or how about from “religious education”?

    Religious schools are the same, imo, as any of the other schools you have mentioned.

    Or, if you were a Catholic, for instance, from secular, public schools (because they teach evolution rather than creation)?

    The dominating culture is functioning in the role that you ascribe to the ‘me as Catholic’ in this example. Do you understand what I am saying now?

  • 101 –


    I did say ‘every reason’ implying there is at least one more than poverty. The other would be patriarchy. Though I am aware that you likely see how men behave under patriarchal indoctrination as just natural to males, I don’t. I think males could be socialized in myriad ways. Treating others as objects to conquest or body parts is not one of the ways I find beneficial to the human race.

  • Roger,

    Let me say it a different way. Schools function in society to replicate the dominant social construction–that means send your kids to school and they learn to replicate patriarchy and capitalism.

  • @ 100

    If so, Cindy, then how do you suppose it is possible to bring up kids how you want them brought up? How can your ideas possibly be implemented on any scale in the present environment?

  • @96

    Pretty neat, Baronius. I suppose he might endorse all of the above. So your cursory definition of “libertrianism,” at the extreme, comes down to rejecting any authority outside of oneself to tell one how to dispense with their income (which, again taking it to the extreme, would mean being opposed to any form of taxation other than for the purpose of providing essential protective services).

    My stand with respect to governmental authority is even more extreme. Does that make me a libertarian?

    You’re also correct in that in many cases, the notion of right (except for “natural” rights, I suppose) inheres the notion of a corresponding moral obligation. A right is not a stand-alone concept.

    So much for architecture. Let me throw you a curveball, then. Does Dave support the capitalist system which produces the kinds of inequalities it does with respect to income and accumulated wealth?

  • Haven’t I always expressed the claim that schools function to indoctrinate children into the dominant culture?

    Why wouldn’t they? Even if your aim as an educator is altruistic rather than doctrinaire, a partial goal of education is always going to be to equip your students to function in the society they find themselves a part of.

  • 103 Roger,

    I’m pretty sure they cannot, Roger–not on any scale. Not with people being what they are.

    Or do you mean that in a practical sense–what would the education process look like?

    Here are some ideas people have come up with.

    105 Dr.D,

    Because to do so is to equip them to replicate the pathology of the culture. If one wants to be altruistic wouldn’t it be better to expose and counter the indoctrination? To teach children to question and think for themselves?

    Let me be clear that I am making an analogy with that link. I am not saying, ‘look what could happen’. I am saying what we are doing is much the same preparation that led to what they did. I find the same seeds sown in this and every other hierarchically arranged domination oriented culture. Again, see the Stanford Prison Experiment. Should similar cultural pressures emerge, the result is the same. This can be seen now in the celebration of the military and the denial of what it really is as well as the game-playing surrounding the training of future serial killers.

  • zingzing

    cindy: “If one wants to be altruistic wouldn’t it be better to expose and counter the indoctrination? To teach children to question and think for themselves?”

    there’s plenty to suggest that that’s exactly what’s going on. “critical thinking,” or however you want to put it, is one of the major goals of early education, and as one goes forward in education, the production of something “new” is the major quantifier of success.

  • Baronius

    Cindy, if you can show me a pre-capitalist or non-capitalist culture in which women weren’t prized and sexuality isn’t related to power, well, you’re not talking about humans. That’s not an endorsment of the conduct. It’s just, come on, an economic system isn’t going to make a guy less likely to pick a fight to impress a girl, or any of the other stupid things that happen when genitals are involved.

  • What I do mean, Cindy, that the project you have in mind must be doable in spite of the conditions. You never have the kind of conditions you desire — the object is getting there. In short, we must make do with what we’ve got. There’s no other way and it will always be like that.

  • Because to do so is to equip them to replicate the pathology of the culture.

    Argumentum ad hitleram, Cindy. Just as disease is an inescapable part of the natural order, so every society is pathological in some way. But at the same time, just as athlete’s foot is not as serious a disease as the Ebola virus, not every education system can be equated to the Hitler Youth.

    If one wants to be altruistic wouldn’t it be better to expose and counter the indoctrination? To teach children to question and think for themselves?

    That’s why I said a partial goal of a good educator was to train students to become members of society. Of course they should also learn critical thinking skills, and an education that doesn’t do this is practically useless. But acquiring these skills doesn’t necessarily mean the newly-trained thinker will conclude that the culture she finds herself in is intrinsically wicked or evil.

  • We’ve been over this before, Cindy. In order to be able to overcome dominant values and culture, you’ve got to know what they are. One can’t become a purist out of the blue, by having been raised in a pristine environment. An certain exposure even to bad things is a must.

    The kind of ideas you’re espousing are similar to those held by many fundamental Christians who, if they life depended on it, wouldn’t send their kids to public schools for fear of contamination.

    By all means, let’s work on developing an alternative education system, but that won’t happen overnight. So the question again is — what do we do in the meantime?

    What is the necessary state of mind, ask yourself this, on the part of a caring parent to send their kids even to a “bad” public school without fear and trembling?

    A hint — it involves making a quantum leap!

  • Roger,

    I don’t have a project. I am analyzing and assessing. I have, likewise, no idea, for example, of how to achieve world peace. Though I think it is a sound idea to aim for and sorely lacking. I posted a link to unschooling. Did you look at that? That is one idea. There are others.

    For myself, Roger, I have decided (at the moment) to retire myself from world-changing in the up close and personal sense. I am not at all confident that I can be of much service at the moment. I plan to work on some children’s books with the goal of aiding them in questioning the mantras of the dominant culture and maybe some for parents as well. Perhaps I will develop some workshops for interested adults and/or children.


    Can a true believer teach others to ‘think critically’ about what they believe?

  • Roger,

    I think you don’t quite comprehend what I mean and I repeat: would you send your children to the church of scientology to educate them?

    If not, why not? If so, why on earth would you think it is necessary?

    Why do you think the institution of school is a necessity? That is a socially conditioned belief you have adopted and you treat it as if it were reality. It is preventing you from seeing things in new ways. I am reminded of your trying to teach me for over a year why I am wrong about anarchism and why liberalism was the only right way.

    I am growing weary of discussion, Roger. Though I am not growing weary of you. I have partly not been around because with every conversation I have I grow more certain that the world will never change. I am planning to focus on my own world and my own happiness and that of my small community I have direct contact with.

  • And, as I have said before, I only really care much for underdogs, Roger. I think I would rather work directly with them than talk and talk and talk in circles to the privileged who have no stake in changing anything.

  • zing,

    See 112 to Dr.D.

  • @114 – so do I.

    But when you get a chance, think about the question I posed at the end of #111.

  • Roger, I sent you an email.

  • That’ll be just fine.

  • Cindy (thanks for #70) I looked at your link about the “war toys are fun!” recruiting strategies on high school campuses. On display are attitudes that are a hop, skip and a jump from those demonstrated in the Wikileaks video where the US combatants shooting at unarmed civilians were hardly distinguisable from teens at an arcade shooting gallery. The link I posted includes statements from a former soldier from the company in the “Collateral Murder” video who is now working to promote alternatives to war; he says that the video depicts a typical day on the job.

    Here’s a baby-step suggestion. If schools are truly interested in developing critical thinking skills, then, to expose students to an alternative viewpoint, there could be an assembly featuring a local representative from Veterans for Peace. (There’d likely be children of servicemen in the audience; he’d know how to be sensitive.)

    Ah, but that might mess with the pep rally schedule, so you might have as much trouble with the athletic department as you would with the recruiters. “The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton.” It’s pervasive. I understand and appreciate the biological imperative for a male to be the protector of the children he’s sired and their vulnerable mother. The continual focus on aggression, though, is an aberration of this natural drive.

    Cindy if I don’t see you for awhile, let me just say that I’ve appreciated the things you’ve brought to everyone’s attention, if they were listening (and missed the same message, from different camps from yours, in Chalmers Johnson’s “The Sorrows of Empire,” or or from publications (too socialist for my taste, but still one of the other lights in the darkness)like the Catholic Worker, the mischief the IMF is doing in third world countries. I never knew about the plight of the children who work as slaves to bring us candy bars, until you brought it up. Even if your METHODS aren’t always the same ones they’ll use to address those evils, you’ve inspired some to make a difference.

    I know this might be offensive to some, but I really intend it as a blessing: to EVERYONE on this thread (even the ones who don’t like Ron Paul) may God help you all as you go about, each in your own ways, fighting evil.

  • Can a true believer teach others to ‘think critically’ about what they believe?

    Now you’re poisoning the well, Cindy. By dismissing educators as “true believers”, you give yourself an unmerited free pass on even considering that what they teach might not be without merit.

    Or is even the entire canon of what we call “critical thinking” to be dismissed because it was a bunch of establishment white guys who came up with it?

  • I don’t have a problem with Ron Paul. He’s a decent enough old duffer.

    An unhealthily large segment of his supporters, however, seem to be (present company excepted) flying-mammal-excrement crazy.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    One person’s true believer is another person’s heretic. A great example is the ‘debate’ – as idiotic as it is – between evolution and creationism in our schools.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    I have a real big problem with Ron Paul. He’s a whole load of excelsior disguised as good intentions that would lead where they often do…and I’d even rather see Perry as president before him!

    But in the interest of peaceful discourse in this thread, I’ll refrain from going down that road.

  • Okay, Dr.D if you say so. But all you have said functions like some rational auto defense. It has prevented you from grasping the meaning of what I am saying.

  • @122

    A heretic is a true believer no less than an orthodox — not because his or her beliefs are true but because he believes truly.

    It’s Eric Hoffer’s usage.

  • If I am indoctrinated into a system so that the system is my reality (which is what I have been arguing) to the degree that I have very little ability to to be critical, how on earth can I teach other people to be critical?

    *Are you grasping the meaning of INDOCTRINATED? Can a true indoctrinated soldier raised in a military environment to act in certain ways and accept certain things as reality be critical of his own reality?

  • Or let’s say he can be, but is this the ordinary position?

    I am saying people are acting based on indoctrinated positions they do not have clarity about. How can they be critical of things they don’t even know they don’t know?

  • Cindy,

    You do draw a bleak picture. If it were exactly as you’re saying, then it would be well nigh impossible to ever get out from Plats’s cave. No one’s saying it’s easy, but you’ve got to admit, there have been some escapees.

    In every generation, there are those who strive for freedom and struggle against domination.

    The human spirit is not to be denied.

  • It is all to rare, Roger. To me, it is very bleak. That is why I intend to withdraw.

  • Why do you think that the world is so very hard to make a dent in. Look at all the conversations here. How much real understanding has even been exchanged?

  • You live in California, Dr. Dreadful. The person who delivered door hangers to YOUR house had five inch guages in each ear. AND dreadlocks, and is confident enough to be impervious to insults, who’ll deliver Ron Paul literature come rain, hail, sleet, snow or dark of night. I love those guys.

    Some of the most brilliant and productive geniuses have been bat-shit-crazy.

    BOY HOWDY THOUGH! How ’bout that straw poll!

  • Another surprising group of political activists: the Hip Hop Republicans. I wouldn’t call them bat-shit crazy by any stretch though; the first video had me tearing up a couple of minutes into it.

    Glenn, don’t make a pest of yourself on their Twitter page. And when on another forum where you MIGHT find support for your “anyone who criticizes Obama is a racist” views, please do NOT, EVER again, use “real” as an adverb. I’m getting REALLY, REALLY tired of it.

  • Will he win? Maybe you don’t want him to, Cindy. But he’s the ONLY candidate getting any attention who’s speaking out against the War(s) on Terror (aka the neocon military contractor’s vision for the next eon) and the forty-year old failed War on Drugs. And HOPEFULLY that will change. Ron Paul never claimed to be the only one who could carry this message.

    His voice is attracting listeners, YOUNG, enthusiastic, dedicated activists, who are getting involved and running for offices at the local level. That’s where a turn around the corner to a more peaceful future might be coming from. And that isn’t hay.

    They won’t be abolishing capitalism, not any time soon, anyway. Some of them might think anarcho-capitalism is the ideal, but if they get there, they’re going to get there in a way that wins an educated following. No bloodshed, please God. No dehumanizing “the enemy.”

    Cindy, their ideal economic system might be different from yours, but their ideal of peace and justice isn’t. They look at the current failed capitalist system, and see the same rotten apple on the ground that you do. Maybe they’ll plant a new apple tree. Maybe they’ll plant something different, new and improved.

    Don’t give up hope.

  • (Not all Hip-Hop Republicans are Ron Paul Republicans. The ones on that page were, though.)

  • Well, Anarcissie, now that the storm has subsided, perhaps we can discuss aspects of Hillary’s thesis whenever you’re ready.

    I’m concerned with the applicability of Alinsky’s model in the present. Initially, the main thrust was local. In time, Alinsky himself came to a realization that there is a need to expand the model to cover broader scope of action — beyond the local community. But that was in the seventies.

    One wonders whether the present-day conditions call for a reconsideration and a shift back to the local community as the most effective theater for activism.

  • Baronius

    “Okay, Dr.D if you say so. But all you have said functions like some rational auto defense. It has prevented you from grasping the meaning of what I am saying.”

    Not bothering with the well anymore, I guess. Poisoning him directly.

  • tro ll

    Why do you think that the world is so very hard to make a dent in.

    how about: blame the dialectic

    we cling to an explanation and understanding of movement and change as based on the conflict and balance of opposites and reproduce the concepts in our behavior

  • Interesting. That means we’re in the business of re-enacting.

    So what’s the remedy? Consensus rather than conflict? Flies in the fact of Alinksy’s power/conflict model. Garnering of power is the necessary first step, he’d say, to get you to the negotiating table so you might reach new consensus.

  • Clavos

    The thing that jumps out at me in all discussions of “better” politico-philosophical “systems,” including this discussion, is that all those who, like Cindy, support their ideas with the belief that, given enough education, indoctrination or otherwise convincing, all humans will see the light and some form of good and just system of governance will prevail.

    My point is that there is never a consideration of just how many truly evil people are afoot in the world; never, that is, until a Hitler or a Pol Pot comes out from under his rock, and everyone gasps and agrees as to how horrible National Socialism or the Killing Fields were, but once the evil one is vanquished everyone seems to disregard the fact that there are millions of truly abhorrent, completely amoral animals roaming around in human bodies.

    These scum will never disappear, and will always be around to throw a monkey wrench (and much worse) in “the best laid plans.”

    It is unrealistic and dangerous to ignore their existence.

  • A view from the bridge, Clavos.

    Isn’t it the case, though, that the arrival of strongmen, along with the kind of devastation they can sow, are made possible by conditions which pretty much spell out an advanced breakdown of society so as to provide a fertile ground?

    So it’s not exactly from under some rock that these “monsters” crawl out.

    Likewise in the other direction. The rise of Hugo Chavez may be seen as a response to years of the ruling class domination, just as it’s the case with the Arab Spring. No different with the rise of cartels in Mexico and parts of Latin America.

    It’a been a seesaw between action and reaction.

  • Baronius,

    Here’s a better formulation. From a purist, perhaps classical standpoint, political philosophy oughtn’t concern itself with the economic system in place — only with how to attain a just society. In any case, the impetus behind political philosophy oughtn’t be economic considerations as its source, nor should political philosophy become reduced to the role of a servant.

    In actuality, however, for too many people, political philosophy serves as a/n (ideological — to say this is redundant, in a way) justification of the economic system in place.

    So when I spoke of libertarianism, I did have in mind this loaded sense. For which reason, I posed the question I had posed earlier: Does Mr. Nalle approve of the capitalist system or does he not? And in that sense, a discussion of political philosophy can no longer be divorced from economic thought which in more cases than not, underpins it. The rather recent turn of phrase, “political economy” — abandoned by now for understandable reasons — underscores this point.

    Thanks for making me think, Baronius. It was a good exchange.

  • Clav,

    I don’t think humans will see the light. I think that the nature of societies insures indoctrination will be invisible and therefore the constructed social reality will be seen as just natural. And I don’t like where it is going. Forget Pol Pot, I don’t much like what I see in ‘Joe next door’. 😉

    I do think that we are what we are because of what went into us. Thus, my suggestion that the world will not change until we change the diets of the children we raise.

    That said, evil abounds. I am more interested in turning the ship for the long voyage. Someone must start working now if we are to achieve change a thousand years hence.

  • 137 troll

    Thanks for clarifying that. That sounds right.


    Thanks for all your posts. I have been reading and appreciating them.

  • You’ve got to distinguish, Cindy, between your kind of brandwash and this one.

  • Anarcissie

    Alinsky and Rodham were working within liberalism. They were smart people and thus their writing is entertaining, but their ideas didn’t change anything fundamental. I am more interested in fundamental stuff because I have learned through long experience that I will have little effect on superficial, even if practical, matters. This is not to say that the superficial matters are unimportant; it’s just that I have to pick my battles and I might as well pick interesting, whole-hog ones.

    In regard to Ron Paul, he makes more sense than any other prominent politician I’m aware of, but this is saying very little. Given my view of the relation between the ruling class and the government, I think there is zero chance that he can be elected, unless he’s a better faker than I think he is. His function is to delude people with limited libertarian impulses into thinking they’re involved in system of democratic governance. He might stir something up, but if so that will be by appealing to something off the liberal board.

    In regard to Clavos’s view of human nature: I think we know very little about human nature. I too am fairly pessimistic about its chances, but as continued mass sociopathy will lead to the early demise of the human race I am working toward more interesting alternatives. (Götterdämmerungen are exciting but brief; the silence which follows will drag on for a long old time.)

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Irene –

    And when on another forum where you MIGHT find support for your “anyone who criticizes Obama is a racist” views, please do NOT, EVER again, use “real” as an adverb. I’m getting REALLY, REALLY tired of it.

    That’s a great example of exaggeration, Irene. I have never said, never even hinted that “anyone who criticizes Obama is a racist”. But I DO call anyone a racist who makes racist comments and hasn’t the courage to own up to them. One of them is Ron Paul – he allowed them in his magazine over a period of years, and I showed that his own campaign staff thought the comments were his! Of course, those who support Paul will gladly take his own word (a politician’s word, mind you) about something he did wrong, even over the word of his own staff and his own magazine.

    So next time, please be REAL careful about blowing things out of proportion…and about being so eager to believe a politician when the evidence is so strong to the contrary.

    P.S. Thanks for the correction on ‘real’ as an adverb. You’re right and I’m wrong, and I appreciate the correction.

  • Continued live coverage of Death Row Vigil for Troy Davis out of Georgia.

  • The stay of execution has been denied by SCOTUS.

  • Wonder if anything will change in how GA handles these cases?

  • Nah, Georgia is a member of the Blooddeathrevenge Confederation. I don’t think it particularly matters to them if the right person gets executed for murder, as long as somebody does.

  • zingzing

    i really can’t believe they went through with that shit. i know the legal process is full of bullshit, but there should be some way to stop it when there’s so much doubt. the prosecutors say it was all bullshit, but goddammit, you can’t just execute a man when there’s so much public doubt. that’s just nonsense.

    if the public is calling for a stay, fucking stay. a state can’t be acting like this. in the face of the doubt about any doubt about his guilt, they should have ordered a new trial. no government should act like that.

    both the gov’t of georgia and the scotus should fucking recognize that shit like this isn’t what we want them for.

    they’re good for something, but not for fucking executing people on possibly bogus charges.

    too late for him, too late for them, and too late for us.

  • I think Obama should go lecture some other country for their human and civil ‘rights’ abuses:

    President Obama, who routinely lectures sovereign governments abroad about civil rights and human rights issues within their countries, has until now said nothing to the state government of Georgia that allowed racist police forces to intimidate and coerce witnesses in the effort to execute an innocent Black man.

  • Baronius

    Didn’t the Davis case have multiple appeals and reviews? If capital punishment is ever permissible, this case seems like the correct application of it.

  • Highlights of yesterday’s six-hour live broadcast of yesterday’s vigil.

    Democracy Now! was the only news outlet to cover the event.

  • Anarcissie

    The point of executions is to create offical state terror, so that when an ordinary citizen is confronted by a police officer, he will understand that he must submit to the officer as a superior being — a servant of the sacrosanct state. In the present case, a police officer was actually killed, so someone certainly had to be killed in reprisal. It was not only a crime against a person, but lèse majesté. If the someone killed was the ‘wrong person’, so much the better, perhaps — more terror.

  • The following decision by Indiana Supreme Court is a related development which speak to the growing reign of terror by the modern State:

    Indiana High Court Rules People Cannot Resist Illegal Entry by Police Into Homes.

  • The aforementioned decision dated May 21, 2011 was just upheld on September 20 — ironically on the eve of Troy Davis’s execution.

  • zingzing

    anarcissie: “The point of executions is to create offical state terror…”

    oh, balderdash. if that was the point of it, why would any state ever get rid of it?

  • I am 100% opposed to the death penalty for the following reasons:-

    1. The legal system makes mistakes but there is no way to put things right when someone has been executed for a crime they didn’t commit.

    2. If murder is wrong, how can state murder be right?

    3. Execution seems more like vengeance not justice.

    4. Barbaric practices demean us all.

    I will never be persuaded to support this measure and could never bring myself to live in a country that practised it, so unfortunately yet another reason not to live in the former land of the free, a country by and large I love.

  • Didn’t the Davis case have multiple appeals and reviews?

    As do the vast majority of all death penalty cases, which is as it should be. However…

    If capital punishment is ever permissible, this case seems like the correct application of it.

    …the fact that multiple appeals and petitions were allowed (and denied in at least a couple of instances on a “technicality” and on a judge’s prejudice), based on the demonstrable argument that Davis’s guilt was no longer proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and yet he was still put to death, suggests to me that something is seriously screwed up with the application of justice in capital cases.

  • Baronius, since 1996, seven out of the nine prosecution witnesses have signed affadavits retracting their testimony. One of the two who HASN’T is the primary alternative suspect, Redd Coles, and there are three witnesses who have in affadavits stated that he bragged to them about MacPhail’s murder. Four of the witnesses say they were coerced by police into saying they saw things they did not see. Another witness who recanted was a woman who had been on parole for shoplifting, who felt things would go better for her if she said what the police wanted her to say.

    It took a long time to collect these statements. Federal cuts to the program which helped with Davis’ defense created an environment which (as stated in an affidavit by the Executive Director) the “work conducted on Mr. Davis’ case was akin to triage… There were numerous witnesses that we knew should have been interviewed, but lacked the resources to do so.”

    The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 says death row inmates can’t present evidence that could’ve been presented at an earlier trial. So, the affadavits were discounted on procedural grounds: they weren’t presented on time, through no fault of his own.

  • Baronius

    Time corrodes every case. Witnesses change stories because it doesn’t cost them anything. The new stories shouldn’t be accepted without cross-examination. In fact, that’s the underlying problem with all after-the-case claims of innocence. It’s easy to say that the defense should have won the case if you haven’t sat through the prosecution’s presentation.

  • zingzing

    there’s good reason to doubt davis’ guilt. but you can’t inject a corpse with doubt and reanimate it. the death penalty probably just executed an innocent man, and for that crime, should be executed by the state legislature. or the federal legislature. or by human progress.

    if you do believe in the death penalty, you should be doubly adamant that it is correctly applied in all cases. if there is a shred of reasonable doubt, you should be the one calling for a stay in order to examine the evidence one more time.

    when shit like this happens, it’s just another nail in the death penalty’s coffin.

  • Baronius

    I can sympathize with people who oppose the death penalty. That’s a tough call.

  • Anarcissie

    zingzing Sep 22, 2011 at 10:29 am:
    anarcissie: “The point of executions is to create offical state terror…”

    oh, balderdash. if that was the point of it, why would any state ever get rid of it?

    States do not operate in a political vacuum, of course. Fundamentally, there is considerable inherent tension between any ruling class and those whom it rules. This tension must be played properly or a deterioration of ruling-class power may ensue. In some particular configurations of culture, history, economy, etc., it becomes more advantageous to present the government as blandly helpful. In others, it is savagery that makes a government popular and secure. The State of Georgia is probably an example of the latter case. What is curious about those areas of the United States that most favor state power through official terror is that so many of their inhabitants profess themselves to be ‘against government’.

  • Fundamentally, there is considerable inherent tension between any ruling class and those whom it rules. This tension must be played properly or a deterioration of ruling-class power may ensue.

    Doesn’t account for situations such as that in the UK, where the majority of public opinion has been in favour of reintroducing the death penalty for many years, but where it is consistently defeated every time it comes up for a vote in the Commons.

  • What is curious about those areas of the United States that most favor state power through official terror is that so many of their inhabitants profess themselves to be ‘against government’.

    ‘Against government’ is actually an empty claim. What the Tea Partiers and allied groups really are, by and large, is against taxes.

  • zingzing

    anarcisse, at least in this case, you seem to simplify things down to a point that they become meaningless. if a state wanted to “create official state terror,” they wouldn’t hide it or suggest that it was anything but that. the average citizen of georgia is not afraid of the state of georgia. so they’re doing a piss-poor job.

  • @166

    That’s rather odd. Why aren’t the MPs voted out in that case since they persist on ignoring the popular sentiment?

  • It is odd, isn’t it?

    Almost as if it makes no sense…

  • zingzing

    roger, maybe there are other issues people vote on. they may disagree with their mp’s stance on that one issue, but…

    i think most people want free chocolate. but i doubt they’d vote their senator out if he was against that idea.

  • It’s not a matter of life ‘n death, in that case — pun intended.

  • Anarcissie

    As to the UK, what people say to pollsters and the way they vote are two different things. More than that I cannot say because I don’t have a lot of detail about the UK.

    I have lived in Georgia and I can assure you that many people, especially the poor, are afraid of the police. At the same time many of them rather admire the police and support severity on the part of the government. People have written long books about why this is so, but it will be laborious to transcribe even their titles into this blog, and correct and pertinent as I may be, I am also lazy. I am surprised, though, that you all think the death penalty has some substantial purpose other than state terror. It has been shown often enough that it does not deter the crimes for which it is administered, does not raise the dead, and is very dubious as to justness. I suppose it may serve as an effective vehicle of personal vengeance for some, although here the question of accurately finding the proper target comes into question. The propriety of exacting and enjoying vengeance varies from culture to culture and is often related to ethnic configurations. I assume it is stronger in Georgia than in Vermont.

  • It’s no different in Kentucky (unless you’re the meanest man in waycross georgia).

    Shoot, it’s not all that different even in small California towns, like Alameda, if you’re a minority. Milpitas, on the fringe of the Silicon Valley, is another good one — the capital of traffic citations in the US.

    We are becoming an increasingly militaristic state.

  • Clavos

    I lived in Georgia in the 70s and 80s. The number of prisoners shot “while trying to escape” which were reported in the press was truly impressive; one can only guess at how many were never reported.

  • Well, Florida must be right up there, the fictional site of Cool Hand Luke.

  • Anarcissie

    If I may switch back to a previous subject, here’s an account of some activism:
    Liberty Street

  • Neat, connects with the article just published.

    I’ll post your links as cross-reference.

  • #155 Anarcissie’s comment is something to consider. Thanks for the link, Roger.

  • If that’s you, Anarcissie, in NYC right now, Wall Street, my old hunting grounds, I envy you.

  • “Reflections on the Future of Capitalism – Or the Scavenger Hunt”.

    A little diversion while I’m bracing myself for part three of the “Toolkit.”

  • Anarcissie

    I’m certainly in NYC, but I spend most of my time in Queens, the Athens of America according to Jimmy Breslin. (I am not being entirely ironical.) I may visit the Revolution tomorrow, depending on whether they need anything and how peppy I feel, etc. Things seem to be sort of stable now; 60 to 80 people were arrested today while on a march to Union Square; I’m not sure why. Most or all of them are back out on the street — Liberty Street. This evening there seemed to be about 1000 people in the area.

  • I worked on Wall Street for over ten years – Wall Street & Broadway, to be exact, the Bank of Montreal. Trinity Park was right across the street. Lived in Brooklyn, Middle Village, on the edge of Queens. Would even walk to Forest Hills for the Open. Still miss the damn town.

  • Anarcissie

    Well, of course you miss New York. It’s the best place on earth. Unfortunately the rich know this and bid up the real estate. The Chinese alone are supposedly spending one billion dollars a year on it here. No doubt they plan to make it the capital of the North America East Barbarian Province.

    Chinese for ‘America’ is ‘m?iguó’ — the beautiful country. Heh.

    I did visit the Revolution today. At their request, I brought apples, water, plastic cups and garbage bags. However, I don’t think they needed it any more — they have quite a big pile of supplies, including food. I guess there were about 800-1000 people in and around the park at about 5 p.m. I will write it up when and if I have time and energy. The media have been sitting on this hard — clearly they’ve got their orders. So spread the word.

    This is a good article about the Occupation, containing a lot I didn’t know.

  • You can count on Amy Goodman to do her thing, but it’s not exactly the most frequented news outlet.

  • Anarcissie,

    The Last Party, to lighten the mood.

    Time, 1992, Democratic and Republican conventions, the last time there was a basis for hope.

    Starring Robert Downey Jr. and other notables – Bill Clinton, Oliver Stone, Sean Penn, etc., a cast of thousands.

    Cindy, you might like it too. Beats Michael Moore’s movies.

  • Anarcissie

    There’s some hope on Liberty Street.

    I decided not to write up my second and subsequent visits because other people are now doing a pretty good job. (Not the Times or Fox News, I’m sure I need not say.) And the celebrities are beginning to show up. I’m going to keep an eye on their supplies, but it’s probably time for me to fade out of even the background. I was thinking of trying to write something to try to explain some of the group processes to liberals, but then I saw someone else had embarked on even this austere and lonely task.

  • Who’s that mysterious someone, do tell?

  • Jordan Richardson

    You should write about it, Anarcissie. I’d love to hear some more from your standpoint.

  • troll

    and the processes are instructive

    …the occupiers are practicing direct democracysome background

    besides — kids just wanna have fun…heard of a plan to march expressing solidarity with the police tomorrow


  • This is what I liked the most from Anarcissie’s first piece:

    “In pursuit of ideology, I looked around for flyers or posters.”

    It tickles.

  • Anarcissie

    Folks, I don’t have a standpoint. I drift around. Last time I was there I was watching the sort of procedures described in the links given by troll. I’ve seen these before; indeed, I’ve participated in meetings where the gestures and procedures were in use. I thought they were kind of silly, but I reminded myself that the people I was observing were the people on the front lines, not me. The procedures still being worked out, but the important thing is that they are not the liberal procedures, e.g. representative democracy, where great leaders try to wipe each other out with money, influence, and clever rhetoric.

    I am somewhat concerned about reports that celebrities have now showed up at the Occupation. One of its vital qualities for me has been its avoidance of Great Leaders, programs, and other forms of vanguardism. On the other hand, visits from major bloviators and other performers may help keep the cops off.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Not only can celebrity presence help keep the cops off, it can help draw additional attention to the occupation. And it can help bring some mainstream media attention to it as well, which in turn starts a wider dialogue.

    I say bring it on.

  • Jordan Richardson

    To add something, I’m actually okay with cats like The Yes Men, Immortal Technique and Lupe Fiasco showing their support.

    They know the terrain and can contribute on many levels, I think.

  • Jordan,

    I’ll re-post some of the links on this site to the comment space which goes with your article, were they belong as well.

    OK by you?

  • Speaking of celebrities, Robert Downey Jr’s presence at the 92 political conventions, later made into a movie — see link in #186 — certainly added spice and were positive in effect.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Sounds good.

  • Just done reading the article linked to in #184. My first impression, the general atmosphere and feel of the movement reminds me of the sixties – the anti-war movement to an extent, but more closely, perhaps, and generally speaking, the counter-culture revolution. To be sure, “demand is a process” — one of the lessons to be drawn from we’re observing right now — nonetheless, the underlying “ideology” is implicit (just as it was in the case of the counter-culture movement), and it’s more effective, perhaps, for this very reason, i.e., for not being articulated.

    I’m also making a cross-reference to Jordan’s link to an excellent article by Glenn Greenwald” on the mainstream press and the movement, lest it goes by unnoticed.

    True to form, our resident liberals have been conspicuously silent on subject, which only confirms Mr. Greenwald’s thesis that the American Left, represented by the liberals and so-called “progressives,” look down upon any movement which doesn’t embrace the Democratic party platform and/or is in any other respect outside the mainstream of what our LSM regards as legitimate kind of dissent.

    One last comment: it’s not a participatory democracy that we’re witnessing on Wall Street — participation is no longer of any merit when faced with the present system (Alinsky’s point as well, and he was speaking of the “hopeful” sixties) — but as “troll” aptly pointed out in #190, direct democracy outside the mainstream.

  • Thanks for the Greenwald link. I wrote something here, but it popped off to God knows where.

  • That was Jordan’s, I just cross-referenced. And BTW, check out the link in Greenwald’s piece to an analysis by Kevin Gosztola (paragraph two), which is a great read in its own right.

  • Chris Hedges, Truthdig.

  • Democracy Incorporated … , excerpts from Google books.

    Chapter One in full.

  • Anarcissie,

    A link to “Toolkit” series, Part III.

    How have you been doing, BTW? Attending the rallies? I’m going to shelve the Toolkit project for the time being. It’s time to do a write up on #occupywallstreet. I think I’m up to it at last.