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Do Not Go Gentle into the Post-American Era

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When the U.S. was a developing nation, we expended our efforts and capital in developing the infrastructure for industry. Our government provided incentives for the development and extraction of natural resources to be used as raw materials to build, not just products, but a thriving national economy.  And that’s exactly what China and other developing nations are doing today.

But, today, the U.S. is doing the opposite. Increasingly, over the past several decades, our government has been restricting the extraction of natural resources and dismantling the infrastructure for industry. Overregulation, combined with exorbitant and ever-increasing union demands, has succeeded in driving much of our industry offshore. If we want to recover our economy, we need to reverse that trend.

The recently published White House Plan to Revitalize Manufacturing, which focuses on federal funding for “green” technology experiments, is not likely to have a significant impact on our national productivity. This administration is thoroughly beholden to the unions and environmental lobbies. In true Chicago style, this administration has used the stimulus package to pay off political debts and, from every indication, will continue the trend of dismantling the economy in favor of political correctness and payback.

Every nation has a historical trajectory. This nation has apparently passed its apogee, and is now in decline. We no longer have the drive to overcome. We’ve become complacent and, instead of striving for ever greater industrial innovation and economic strength, we are focused myopically on the niceties that developing nations cannot afford to consider.

The problem is, there’s no such thing as stasis. A nation, a corporation, a species, an individual, must either advance or decline. That’s nature. And, as we sink into complacency, whining effetely about our declining economy, there will be others advancing to take our place as the dominant world power, industrially, economically, and (eventually) militarily. That’s a historical inevitability. The same pattern can be observed throughout nature and the history of civilizations. The only question is when.

At this point, we could still reverse that trend by, once again, becoming a developing nation ourselves — one can always develop further, if one is motivated to keep striving — but we, as a nation, lack that motivation. We’re apparently content to rest on our laurels as we sink into national senescence while other countries, like China, rise up on the international horizon. The world is always changing. It’s the nature of all things. The only question is, will we, as a nation, go gentle into that good night? Or will we rage, rage against the dying of the light? (Apologies to Dylan Thomas.)

Unfortunately, I believe I know the answer to that rhetorical question. History is being written even as we go about our daily lives. You can see it in our relations with other nations, as we make concessions that cede our sovereignty in so many minor ways. Stepping back and observing from a historical perspective, we see a once-great nation, that no longer has the will to sustain its rank as the leader of the free world, stepping aside and leaving the field open to whoever will step up and take its place. Sadly, there’s no way to choose our successor. Once we step aside, we can only watch and hope for the best. And if we don’t like the way the world is shaping up in the post-American era, we will just have to suffer the consequences.

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  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    Pretty negative way to start the new year, wouldn’t you say?

  • Arch Conservative

    Hey Andy maybe he just wanted to start the new year with honesty instead of the bullshit and feigned optimism that most people themselves would offer and expect.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    The pendulum still swings Arch…it has to get better eventually…

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    So was Greece, and so was Rome. As a student of history you ought to know that “greatness” in nations is temporary and fleeting, until they are destroyed by their own hubris.

  • Arch Conservative

    The pendulum still swings Arch…it has to get better eventually…

    Says who…………

    Maybe it will only continue to get worse during our lifetimes Andy.

    Have you ever thought of that?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Rome’s a bad example, though, Rog. Remember that the Eastern Roman Empire persisted (as the Byzantine Empire) until 1453, when Constantinople was sacked by the Turks.

    As for the West: well, there’s a case to be made that the Western Empire never really ended, just adapted to changing circumstances. One of the main reasons the Roman Catholic Church became so powerful was that it was able to take advantage of existing infrastructure and political and economic alliances which the Romans had left behind.

    I’d hazard a guess that whichever political entity or entities occupy the territories we now call the United States 200 years from now will be unrecognisable from the Republic we know today; but there’s an excellent chance that it will still be a global force to be reckoned with.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Perhaps you’re right about Rome, Dreadful, because of its longevity in more than one form. But we did have the Dark Ages in the interim, until Charlemagne at least. But yes, Rome was a model for the Holy Roman Empire. Remember though, Gibbons’s repartee.

    As to the next two hundred years, it’s anybody’s guess. But I reckon that even by the end of this century, we shall undergo globalization projects along economic and eventually political dimensions, regionally and at stages at first, but all leading to a final unity.

    At any rate, I can’t think of better prospects.

  • http://notyourdaddy.wordpress.com/ NotYourDaddy

    Interesting that you should mention a pendulum, Andy, and that Roger and Dr. Dreadful should bring up Rome. I have a post on my blog discussing exactly this question, called Freedom is Not a Pendulum.

    Arch Conservative may have point. Things don’t always get better. Sometimes, a reversal can be brought about but, in the absense of active resistence, entropy increases.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Interesting post, NYD. Perhaps close to my view of history as proceeding of its own accord, regardless of the human agency. While true that humans may shape history to a point, it’s also the case that we are shaped by it. What I see happening at present is more on the order of human response to the unfolding events, more so than our determining our future.

  • http://notyourdaddy.wordpress.com/ NotYourDaddy

    I disagree that history proceeds of its own accord, regardless of human agency. Natural history, yes. (Climate change would be a good example. :)

    But human history is made by humans. In the girp of apathy, most of us are simply swept along by the tides of history initiated and driven by others.

    However, we can make a difference if we’re motivated to. If we don’t happen to history, history will happen to us. It’s our choice.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Overregulation, combined with exorbitant and ever-increasing union demands, has succeeded in driving much of our industry offshore. If we want to recover our economy, we need to reverse that trend.

    I agree. The first step is to evaluate the situation correctly. Capitalists have a gun to your head. If you want to recover, please just do what they want.

    1) Forget about the environment. You’ll probably be dead before it ever becomes that big of a problem. So, just forget about it and live for today.

    2) If you are a worker, just take whatever you are given. Capitalists need to make profits. Whereas, you need nothing. And whatever you want, you probably don’t deserve it. Just work harder. What is wrong with you anyway? Aren’t you ever satisfied?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “In the girp [sic] of apathy, most of us are simply swept along by the tides of history initiated and driven by others.”

    Not true of the Roman Empire. It fell victim to its own hubris, and the world had changed. There was a vacuum left in its ashes. The world wasn’t driven by any other force because for all intents and purposes, there was none.

    Of course I’m speaking metaphorically. But the truth is that the American/imperialist mindset is being usurped, slowly but surely, by the globalization trend, first in economics, eventually geopolitically. It’s as good as a done deal.

  • http://notyourdaddy.wordpress.com/ NotYourDaddy

    Roger, I agree with you that that is what is happening. I disagree that it’s a good thing. I also disagree that it is necessarily inevitable. It might be, but that’s exactly what I meant when I quoted Dylan Thomas: “Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

    We may not be able to reverse the trend. It may be too late. But, those of us who still believe in the vision, values, principles, and wisdom of our founding fathers should not go down without a fight.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’m less optimistic than you are, NYD. Nor do I see the humanity’s future as essentially grim. Remember Toynbee;s monumental book and rise and fall of all civilization.

    We had had our time in the sun and our trajectory is declining. It’s time to move over and, hopefully, make a better world.

  • Apemantus

    “2) If you are a worker, just take whatever you are given. Capitalists need to make profits. Whereas, you need nothing. And whatever you want, you probably don’t deserve it. Just work harder. What is wrong with you anyway? Aren’t you ever satisfied?”

    If workers aren’t capitalists, what are they? Victims? You sell your time. You sell your skill. If you need a union to help you hold your pants up, you’re just a sad puddle of uselessness who deserves to fail. Most of the modern workforce is not unionized. Are we all victims?

  • Arch Conservative

    You have a valid point apementus. There should be a symbiotic relationship between employee and employer. We’re not entitled to jobs, we must earn them through our own skill/effort.

    But even some who is pro business that acknowledges this must find it disturbing that executives are allowed to ruin companies and then walk away with multi million dollar paydays while so many suffer because of their action.

    Capitalism and the free market have not failed us. We haven’t had free markets for a very long time. What we’ve had is greedy, power hungry politicians in bed with greedy, power hungry CEO’s who scratch each others back at the expense of the American people.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Arch, you’re beginning to see both sides of the story. But let’s face it, whether we ever had “free markets” or not, the situation has devolved and resulted in the present. It’s that what we’ve got to deal with, not some myth of capitalism at its best.

    Yes, we have our amenities and our luxury goods and the internet, these are some of the fruits. But now we’re paying the wages.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Arch,

    That is how free markets are supposed to work. Greedy companies do everything they can to get the most and give the least. Greedy workers do the same. Greedy politicians fit right in with that economic strategy. In the end all the greed is theoretically supposed to even everything out and make sure everyone wins.

    What does anyone expect from such a ludicrous plan? Those with power seize control. The system encourages and rewards them for greed and apathy toward their victims. What else would they be expected to do?

    Sorry if it isn’t working out for you, Arch. But it is Capitalism and this is its result. And, by the way, it is still working perfectly fine for a whole bunch of people–and it always has. It has also never worked for a whole bunch of others and it never will. The guest list changes. Those who are no longer invited to the party should just get used to it.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    15 –

    If workers aren’t capitalists, what are they? Victims? You sell your time. You sell your skill. If you need a union to help you hold your pants up, you’re just a sad puddle of uselessness who deserves to fail. Most of the modern workforce is not unionized. Are we all victims?

    Capitalists generally use their capital to make money rather than their labor. (That is where they got that name.) They hire workers so that they can use what is produced by their labor and sell it for a profit. So you are a slave.

    Are you a victim? You aren’t a victim if you don’t mind being harnessed, like an ass, and having someone use you to plow their field, for whatever it is they feel they have to give you. Does a cow feel like a victim when her master milks her? Or does she just feel too grateful for the barn and the straw? To me, people who don’t mind being slaves are victims of a different sort.

    Apart from that, everyone in the society as a whole is a victim. capitalism is destructive to the human psyche.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy
  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    If this won’t convince him, nothing will.

  • Apemantus

    Communists are sub-human. If you haven’t learned that by now, you never will.

  • Franco

    On the last day of 2009, that awful year, I was listening to a report on National Public Radio (yes, I’m a listener). Reporter Tamara Keith presented a by-now-familiar recap of the worst financial and corporate scandals of the decade, from Enron and Martha Stewart to Tyco and Bernie Madoff. It was a depressing slog of greed, venality, and theft. When the report was over, Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep summarized the report with a tart: “The decade in capitalism.”

    I don’t want to single out Inskeep, since he was doing what pretty much the entire media establishment has done, particularly of late: reducing “capitalism” to its alleged sins.

    And that’s the point. There are few areas of life where a thing responsible for so much good gets so little credit for it.

    Imagine if I were to collect the most infamous deeds of African Americans over the last decade — say, Michael Vick’s dog-fighting scandal and O. J. Simpson’s most recent criminal exploit — and then put a bow on it with the phrase “the decade in black America.” What if I did the same thing with Jews? Bernie Madoff, the face of Jewish America! Do the scandals of Rod Blagojevich, Charlie Rangel, and John Edwards define the Democratic party from 2000 to 2010? Do Abu Ghraib and the balloon boy sum up America?

    Consider NPR. As a brand, it claims to be standing athwart capitalism because it’s “public.” What that means exactly is a bit unclear, since it still allows corporations to fund its programming in exchange for audio endorsements none dare call commercials and relies on the kindness of listeners to keep it afloat — listeners who, one way or another, make their money from you-know-what.

    Indeed, speaking of the decade in capitalism, National Public Radio failed to mention that Joan Kroc, widow of Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s, left more than $200 million to NPR in 2003. Mrs. Kroc’s generosity of spirit was her own, but the wampum is all capitalism’s, baby.

    In a similar vein, the decade of capitalism saw one of the world’s richest men, Warren Buffett, pledge more than $30 billion to a foundation created by another offspring of capitalism, Bill Gates, for the purpose of aiding the world’s poor. Surely capitalism should get some of the credit, since the book on philanthropy in non-capitalist systems is shorter than the guide to cities without Starbucks.

    Capitalism doesn’t just create generous wealthy people, but generous poor people, too. Americans give twice as much to charity as the most generous European nations, and the most generous Americans are, in fact, poor Americans.

    But forget philanthropy. Since 2000, hundreds of millions of people in China and India — home to a plurality of the world’s poor — have lifted themselves out of poverty and illiteracy thanks to capitalism.

    China started to embrace markets as a last resort in the late 1970s. And by last resort, I mean last resort. First they tried murdering tens of millions of their own people through collectivism and oppression. When that didn’t work, they embraced markets, and the poverty rate dropped from 64 percent to around 8 percent today.

    As it always does, capitalism drove innovation over the last decade. The BlackBerry was introduced in 1999, but the iPhone didn’t exist in 2000, nor did the iPod. YouTube was a fantasy, and no one could even imagine why you’d ever need something like Facebook or Twitter (in fairness, some people still ask that question). iTunes was launched in 2003, and five years later it was outselling Wal-Mart as the No. 1 music retailer. Government-funded basic research in medical science deserves some credit for breakthroughs, but it’s worth remembering that lots of countries invest in basic research. America, with its markets, stands alone as the leading, arguably sole, source of medical innovation. Breakthrough drugs are as American as apple pie.

    Every good thing capitalism helps produce — from singing careers to cures for diseases to staggering charity — is credited to some other sphere of our lives. Every problem with capitalism, meanwhile, is laid at her feet. Except the problems with capitalism — greed, theft, etc. — aren’t capitalism’s fault, they’re humanity’s. Socialist countries have greedy thieves, too.

    Free markets are in disrepute these days, particularly by the people running Washington. For them, government is the solution and capitalism is the problem. If they have their way over the next decade, they won’t cure what allegedly ails capitalism — people will still steal and lie — but they will impede everything that makes capitalism great. And that will be bad for everyone, even NPR.

    By — Jonah Goldberg, editor-at-large of National Review Online January 01, 2010

    I don’t cut and past artical here on the threads of BC, but given the gross mischarictrualtion of capitalims insted of focusing on humanity, I put it in.

    Cindy, you try and reduce Capitalism down to nothing more then it’s alleged sins. And it is so much more then that to so many masses of people, most who risk their lives just to have a chance to participate in it, that it is unfathimable.

    I am shocked at your inablity to see the differace. I expected more out of you then that baby!

  • Arch Conservative

    That is not how capitalism is supposed to work Cindy.

    Capitalism is about free markets where the laws of supply and demand rule the day. It’s not about government intervention and regulation which is what we’ve had in spades. It’s not about a corrupt international banking cartel respresented by the Fed Reserve arbitraily manipulating interests rates and making money out of thin air. It’s not about the government favoring some some businesses over other creating nearly impossible entry into a market.

    I really hate it when people who do not understand capitalism try to blame it for all of our ills. With each new year we have more and more government taxation and intervention in our lives and with each year things continue to get worse. But yet the same people, without fail, call for more government intervention to solve our problems.

    Sorry Cindy but you couldn’t be more wrong. It’s not capitalism that’s ruining us, it’s the marriage of corporate cronyism with a power hungry big government.

    All the federal government welfare and special interest programs do absolutely no good. They only serve to create a population that is more reliant upon the state rather than more self sufficient while also creating suspicion and animoisty between different groups of people.

    Cindy says what we have now isn’t working but doesn’t offer her own plan. Based on the fact that she views having a job as being a slave I shudder to think what she believes the world ought to be like. Slaves got no monetary compensation for their effort, workers do. Also, workers in this nation are free to leave and seek more monetary compensation for their services somewhere else. Slaves did not have that option.

    Forgive me Cindy but just because we have a bunch of corrupt politicians and CEO’s we as American citizens are not excused of the personal responsibility in our own lives. We’re not entitled to anything but the freedom to live our lives in the manner we choose for ourselves as long as we’re not impeding on that very freedom for someone else. We’re certainly not entitled to have the federal government reach into someone else’s pocket to provide for us and I am certain that if the federal government would stop robbing us blind then we would see that private charitable donations for those in need would dramatically increase.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Arch,

    You can’t think of a time when it wasn’t so. You’re too young. So when you’re talking about how capitalism ought to work, it’s just a conception in your head, and just as utopian as anything you’re liable to hear. Perhaps in some distant past, at its primitive stages, there may have been what you call a “free market system,” but even that is doubtful. The entire system is based on cutthroat, virulent competition, and securing a comparative advantage. Not that those things are bad in themselves, but they do lend themselves to creating a climate of corruption and collusion. If you want to create a “perfect capitalist system,” you’ve got to change man. But then again, to change man you’ve got to create a different environment. So you do have an inherent contradiction. And what we’re experiencing at last is the final breakdown.

  • STM

    Doc: “Rome’s a bad example, though, Rog. Remember that the Eastern Roman Empire persisted (as the Byzantine Empire) until 1453, when Constantinople was sacked by the Turks.”

    And the British Empire persists as … the American Empire.

    There couldn’t be two nations in modern history more like Rome and Byzantium than Britain and the US.

    The paralells are fascinating.

    Which means the US probably has a ways to go yet.

    And as for the piece above … interesting.

    But I don’t think we’ll see a post-American era in our lifetimes.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I hope not, Stan, because it ain’t going to be pretty at first. We’re not going to out without a bang.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I see it more as a crisis of credibility. Even if economic structures will eventually recover, they’ll no longer be trusted. I certainly wouldn’t let my guard off. Consequently, you’re going to see a much greater control of business by the governments, which will definitely set a new tone for the future. Add to this all the existing pressures towards economic globalization, and I can’t no longer envision our future in any terms comparable to the past. I truly believe that era is over.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    24 – Arch,

    Capitalism is about free markets where the laws of supply and demand rule the day. It’s not about government intervention and regulation which is what we’ve had in spades.

    I don’t misunderstand you Arch. I disagree and I think you missed my point. You need government to maintain Capitalism. Without government you can’t sustain it. Government was initiated to protect the capitalists. It’s needed to enforce private property laws.

    Your system of supply and demand is doomed with no law enforcement. Since, you can not take government out of the system where power is money, you cannot remove government corruption from your system. You will always have a corrupt government, corrupt bankers, corrupt corporate interests. And, I’m told, in this country, it’s a good as it gets.

    If you don’t see your system as corrupt in its finest form, you might at least recognize Roger’s point. It is ultimately corruptible. What good is even a perfect plan if it is unsustainable?

    You don’t know my ‘plan’ already, Arch? We must have been traveling in different threads for the 1000 or so posts where I discussed that. I didn’t want to bore anyone.

    I would go with freedom and equality for all people, Arch. All people.

  • Cannonshop

    #29 And how do you keep everyone “Equal”, Cindy?

    You can’t-and still have them free. SOme will work harder than others, some will work smarter than others. Some will create and some will destroy.

    Equality of opportunity is NOT equality of outcome-they’re different concepts, the first presupposes freedom, the second is by definition a slave state condition-everyone becomes an interchangeable cog in the big, dead machine, with no way out of being that interchangeable little cog when everyone is forced to be equal in outcome.

    Corporate Cronyism relies on Government to prevent competition, just as Carnegie and Rockafeller relied on Trusts to maintain monopoly power. IN neither case was that a ‘Free Market’-point of fact, it’s the definition of an “UNFREE” market, or central-planning market, the only difference is the title of the guy in control of it.

    There hasn’t been a Free market in the U.S. in my lifetime-free markets and monopolism are mutually exclusive as understood when Congress passed the Sherman Anti-Trust act.

    It is a legitimate role of government to break monopolies-ours has been busily helping to create them for the last thirty or forty years, with only occasional, cosmetic, efforts to appear to break them (Ma Bell, and more recently Microsoft cases).

    Innovation and general prosperity derive from competitive systems-these are directly threatened by the concept “Too big to Fail”.

  • Arch Conservative

    While the notion of efficient, moral capitalism may be an illusion so is the idea that with enough government social engineering we can have a fair and just society.

    There are always going to be inequities in society in large part stemming from the capacity for either effort and determination or apathy and inaction of the individual. While having compassion for the misfortunes that may befall your fellow citizens, it should be considered acceptable and moral to expect to keep most if not all of the fruit’s of your own individual effort.

    I truly believe that if the federal government were not taking so much from us right now, the vast majority of us, being allowed to keep much more of our own money, would have no problem being more charitable. That is the best kind of charity, when the individual gives of themself money and/or time freely of their own heart to a group/cause that they deem worthy. The worst kind of charity is that kind that which is mandated at the business end of the federal government’s gun, (metaphorically speaking) in which they tell you that you have to give more so that they can pay back the special interests that elected them.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    OK about the last paragraph, Archie. But what are you going to do with immoral and unscrupulous companies and CEOs? Do you think they’ll just go away? And if not, how are you going to control them and prevent the kind of melt down we experienced only a year ago in the financial sector, and all the repercussion which spilled over into business in general.

    And I don’t believe that Cindy entertains the opposite illusion, namely, that big government is a panacea either.

  • Cannonshop

    #32 Roger, check out Icahn’s site sometime, there has to be serious reform of corporate governance laws, and like government, a more active shareholder interest, before you STOP having massive problems like the ones that generated the financial meltdown last year.

    The problem isn’t capitalism, it’s corporate cronyism-and Cronyism is supported heavily by the people we’ve got in charge of government.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I shall. But I still maintain that ours is a situation that has come about naturally. And it’s too late to restore what you might call “capitalism proper,” unless we consign it to what used to be once “cottage industries.”

    Corporate capitalism is the order of the day, especially in this era of thoroughgoing globalization, there being no way of getting around that. And given these conditions, there’s also no getting around government interference, whether for good or ill reasons, and eventual control.

    What we’re seeing right now is but a preamble, a mere foretaste of things to come. It’s only firms like Microsoft, IBM (if it’s still around), GE, Monsanto, and the like that will be the real players in this brave new world. The time for small-business is over, just another cottage type of industry and a mere pittance.

  • Cannonshop

    I disagree, Roger. Entropy, decay and death are all natural states too-resisting them is what makes the difference between life and non-life.

    I’m sorry, but I’m not ready to take my happy pills, watch the Reality Teevee and praise the Computer and life in Alpha Complex, at least, not yet.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Cannon, all natural processes, biological or social, come to their eventual end. I’d say that resistance in those instances is futile, nothing more than a gesture.

    So yes, I’d say we’ve got to swallow the bitter pill and move along. Every crisis is an opportunity at the same time. Eventually, we’ll forge a better, more equitable world. And let’s make the best of it while we can.

  • Cannonshop

    Roger, what the fuck does “Equitable” mean to you? YOu’re talking about accepting life as a Serf, a faceless, infinitely replaceable cog in the machine, and you’re ENDORSING IT.

    In my opinion, Roger, there’s no reason NOT to resist, no reason to bow down before anything or anyone. Submission Leads to Enslavement. It doesn’t lead to better things.

  • http://notyourdaddy.wordpress.com/ NotYourDaddy

    Cindy, capitalism does not rely on government. Capitalism is the economic corollary of natural selection. If you were to take away government (which is not what I advocate; I am not an anarchist), people would still have to live somehow. They would still have to produce something to sustain themselves. If one could not produce everything one needed, one would have to barter with others to exchange the excess of what one produced beyond one’s own needs for what others produced.

    That is the essence of captialism. You have to provide something of value to other people to exchange for what has value to you. As Cannonshop points out, there will always be some who are more skilled or more industrious than others. Those who produce more value for others receive more compensation. They’ll use that compensation either to accumulate more things they want, or to reinvest in production.

    Government is not strictly necessary to protect private property. In the absence of government, one will protect one’s own property, just as one will protect one’s own life and one’s loved ones. That’s human nature.

    Greed is also part of human nature. The desire to acquire can be either good or bad, depending on how it’s channeled. If it motivates one to produce greater value to others in order to be compensated more highly, it’s a good thing for both the individual and the society. If, on the other hand, it motivates one to cheat or steal, it’s a bad thing. The first is capitalism. The second is crime. They are not the same thing in any respect.

    The proper role of government is to protect the rights of its citizens to life, liberty, and property. Insofar as government does that, it’s a good thing. When it goes beyond that, it starts infringing on those rights. And that is bad.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    My goodness. You are a Spencerian.

    I didn’t believe that species still exists.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Is “equitable” really such a strange word to you, Archie?

    As to your second point, Archie, there’s no point resisting what’s inevitable. We have made our bed, and now we have to sleep in it.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Interesting. NYD (#38) outlines an economic system which has been used since humans first started to organise themselves in larger-than-family-size groups, and states that this system is ‘the essence of capitalism’.

    I disagree. In my view, capitalism is what NYD then goes on to explain. It is the point at which you look for ways to capitalise on your production, rather than just produce to live.

    So capitalism is not the purest and/or most fundamental economic system which exists. That would be the gift economy.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Somewhere along the line, Dreadful, there must have been a transition point between an economy based on, and directed toward the end of, mutual sustenance – and a certain sense of cooperation, I suppose – and one which it based on profit, especially profit based on accumulation of capital. The missing link, shall we say?

    And what do you mean by “gift economy” exactly? Rather unfamiliar with the term.

  • Jackson

    It should be noted that the Pilgrims first undertook a policy of sharing and were forced to abandon it as a matter of survival. Personal reward is the ultimate motivator of human action. Quite simply, if there is no reward in the action, be it psychological, emotional, or physical, we don’t do it. If you wish to label that reality as “greed,” so be it. But once you do, you are constrained to a terribly myopic view of the situation.

    Voluntarily sharing what you have earned with the less successful is fine. One can even create institutions to do that. But when one attempts to design an economic system around sharing, there is a fundamental design flaw.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Personal reward is a major motivator of human action, Jackson, no argument there. But there are levels and ways of thinking about what counts as personal reward.

    So perhaps it’s in this particular area that we’re being especially myopic.

  • Irene Wagner

    What’s on the Menu: Self-actualization in a Respect for Others reduction. Stale air and vegetables past their prime on the side. Meanwhile, Emperor Palpatine stages wars and eats all the steak.

  • Irene Wagner

    I don’t think they’re gonna buy it, Rog.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    All I can do, Irene, is preach my gospel, and I’ve got to do it strong. It’s not up to me, ultimately.

  • Irene Wagner

    The Emperor Palpatine gospel? The gospel that someone like that needs to be in charge before the hungry get fed?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    That isn’t my idea, regardless of who or if anyone’s in charge. Of course, being in charge entails certain responsibilities.

    But then again, we’re assured that no one will lack, not even a sparrow.

  • Irene Wagner

    You don’t know the assurance “we,” and the poor, and especially the sparrows have. Sparrows fall dead to the ground, and someone at least takes notice.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, I’m only expressing my faith, not the human way.

    I thought you understood that.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Roger, a gift economy is an economy which does not run on the basis of quid pro quo. An example is the hunter-gatherer society in which all resources are pooled, so that even the hunter who fails to catch anything still gets to eat that day.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Got you. A co-operative society, a step below barter. (Or above, depending on one’s value system or economic sophistication.)

  • Irene Wagner

    And those who neither hunt, gather or weave baskets get….people to join them. The food supply dwindles. Bartering (or perhaps cannibalism) is born.

  • http://notyourdaddy.wordpress.com/ NotYourDaddy

    Roger, there has never been and will never be, a system in which it is assured that no one will lack. (Even Jesus conceded the poor will be with us always.)

    All people are fundamentally unique, with their own qualities, values, principles, priorities, desires, strengths, and weaknesses. You cannot make everybody equal. When you attempt to ensure that everybody has equal rewards, regardless of merit, initiative, talents, skills, or personal industry, you effectively reward those who produce little or nothing and punish those who produce the most.

    It’s axiomatic that you get more of what you reward, and less of what you punish. Therefore, such a system is a recipe for killing off initiative, industriousness, and even the motivation to develop useful skills. What it encourages is laziness and a sense of entitlement. Is that really what we, as a culture, should strive for?

    Where does such a system ultimately lead? You sneer at Spencer, but what would happen to a species if some external force ensured that the least fit, rather than the fittest, specimens in each generation survived? I think it would be a recipe for rapid extinction.

    Is that what we want for our culture? It is unnatural and unworkable, and that is why communism always fails.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Jackson’s example of the Pilgrims doesn’t cut the mustard. First of all, the Pilgrims had no intention of forming a cooperative society, as evidenced by the Mayflower Compact which declared that the new colony would be run like any English town. Second, from the outset the Mayflower settlers were working to repay the Puritan venture capitalists who’d financed their expedition in the first place. Third, there was the group of passengers known as the Strangers, who couldn’t care less about the Pilgrims’ religious ideals and had bought passage on the Mayflower solely with a view to making large amounts of moolah.

    Fourth (and even though I’m aware he may be confusing the Mayflower pilgrims with the Jamestown settlers here – they’d have served his argument much better), Jackson fails to demonstrate causation. Just because his society failed to make a cooperative work does not mean that it’s impossible.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    So what’s next? Eugenics? It that your idea of human culture? Where do you draw the line? And why should the animal kingdom serve as an example, providing the survival principle applies to the beasts?

    NYD, it’s nineteenth century thinking. You should at least be familiar with a host of objections.

    And no, I don’t sneer at Spencerism. I’m only surprised we still have specimen such as yourself in the 21st century. I don’t speak well for human evolution.

  • Jackson

    The following is a quote from the journal of the first governor William Bradford.

    “The experience that was had in this comone course and condition, tried sundrie years, and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanitie of that conceite of Platos & other ancients, applauded by some of later times; — that ye taking away of propertie, and bringing in comunitie into a comone wealth, would make them happy and florishing; as if they were wiser then God. For this comunitie (so farr as it was) was found to breed much confusion & discontent, and retard much imployment that would have been to their benefite and comforte. For ye yong-men that were most able and fitte for labor & services did repine that they should spend their time & streingth to worke for other mens wives and children with out any recompence. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in devission of victails & cloaths, then he that was weake and not able to doe a quarter ye other could; this was thought injuestice ….”

  • http://notyourdaddy.wordpress.com/ NotYourDaddy

    Eugenics is not the same as natural selection. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The salient factor in natural selection is that it ocmes about all by itself, much like the free market.

    The law of survival of the fittest is akin to the law of supply and demand, in that neither is legislated, nor can they be repealed. That’s because they are not manmade laws, but natural ones.

    The idea of eugenics is much like the idea of government manipulation (or regulation) of the free market. Once you have an external meddler, selection is no longer natural, and the market is no longer free.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, it’s the nature’s helper. After all, we do want the best of the species. And the ends do justify the means. So I’m only speaking of degrees. We’re simply improving on nature, just as we do in agriculture and food processing business.

    Are you suggesting now that man has no business meddling? Aren’t we supposed to be conquering our natural resources and making the natural world yield to our will?

    I thought these were some of the major premises of the philosophy you’re espousing. So why object to them now, simply because it doesn’t advance your particular argument? For that it the natural and logical extension, ain’t it? carrying it to its ultimate conclusion. Be bold!

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    @ #58:

    Which shows us what, Jackson, apart from the governor’s personal opinion?

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    NYD,

    I am going to have to disagree with you on what Capitalism is. Your understanding of Capitalism suggests that private property is a given. Private property is not a given, as I see it. Its basis is in antisocial behavior.

    In your imagination, individuals who are alone protect their property. What individuals who are alone? Where did they come from? How did they become alone? Where is their community and what were they taught to believe? The truth is, the only individuals who were ever alone, first came from a community. I would expect their behavior to be related to things they learned there. This whole idea of individuals alone is not related to the reality of how anyone really lived but something you learned or thought up. Naturally these individuals alone acy much the way you imagine you would act. (That is a sort of give away there.)

    I have also never seen Capitalism defined as existing without private ownership of the means of production and wage slavery.

    Capitalism burgeoned into what what we know it as, during the industrial and agricultural revolutions. This is not coincidental. Amassing fortunes required lots of manpower. It would hardly do to have all this potential with no one who wanted to work in your factory. Wage slavery was accomplished by force. In England, building up to this time, the commons began to be fenced. In the mid 1800s this increased in earnest.Forciong people off the land that sustained them and into the factories as wage slaves. It was done through governments and laws that protected private property owners. Domination, subjugation and robbery of land seem requisite where Capitalism reigns. This pattern happened all over the world via the domination and theft that is colonialism and later via the influence and power exerted between and by governments. This is the same pattern that drove Mexicans and others into Maquiladora factories. First take the land they need and then they are forced into your system of wage slavery.

    The free markets you describe are non-existent as you imagine them. Free markets have existed at rudimentary levels and do not amount to the wealth accumulation you see in western countries where governments enforce laws designed to promote Capitalism and benefit private property owners. Capitalism is not what you see without governements to enforce laws. I doubt you’d be very interested in sustaining such a condition.

    I see capitalist profit markets as being counter-productive to meeting real human needs, exploitative, destructive to human well-being, and ultimately to humanity’s happiness, and eventually, its survival. I challenge your suggestion that Capitalism some sort of ‘natural selection’. It is a product of domination and antisocial behavior. Next, human nature…

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Human nature is full of potentials. Greed is one of them, hate is another, but so is love. When you hold greed as the most relevant or prominent or enduring aspect of human nature–the most ‘human’ aspect–you are revering greed. You are supporting greed, promoting it, expecting it, and teaching it. It is in service of Capitalism that people believe this about human nature–that greed is what we are. If we are naturally greedy, then it makes sense to compete and hoard.

    So, we can adapt to whatever culture we grow up in–hostile and violent, peaceful and loving, greedy and antisocial. We can become Hitlers, serial killers, cannibals, bigots, racists, greedy, warring, and violent, or we can become other things. We are adaptive creatures–designed to live in a wide range of circumstances. Our beliefs tend to be shaped by where we find ourselves and in relation to the beliefs of our culture. Our nature is to become what we learn, and with insight, decide to become. Greed or meanness does not have to feature in our human nature any more than slaughtering out neighbors and eating their hearts does. It’s up to us what we want to become, once we realize this.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    So capitalism is not the purest and/or most fundamental economic system which exists. That would be the gift economy.

    As Clav would say, Bingo!

    (It’s no wonder that a gift economy is my preferred replacement choice. For all our advancements, it seems there are some thing we used to do better.)

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    But I don’t think we’ll see a post-American era in our lifetimes.

    Stan, you’ve been living in the post-American era since 2004, when it first became clear that the American empire was spending itself into a toilet – and couldn’t stop. You can delude yourself in to thinking otherwise, but an American president who bows deep and low to a piece of shit “king” in Arabia should tell you a lot. If it doesn’t, it tells me a lot – about you.

    As for the “gift economy” that Cindy likes so much, once the “economy” of the USA really crashes (it’s coming, Stan), the “gift economy” will be what is left.

    Hope you’re good at being either a hunter – or a gatherer. I’m working at being a gatherer.

    See ya!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’d say he’s a hunter, although a sheep rancher wouldn’t be bad either – a good fine stock to hold you over once the food shortages start. And to clothe you too. All we need now is enclosures and cottage industry and we’ve effectively traveled back in time.

    A heckuva scenario, I’d say, to start the new year.

  • http://notyourdaddy.wordpress.com/ NotYourDaddy

    Roger, you cannot be a sheep farmer without the notion of private property. It takes a lot of resources to raise and husband any kind of livestock. Why bother investing if somebody else who has never bothered to do a lick of work can come along and take your sheep because they don’t believe in private property?

    Cindy, you misrepresent my position, either on purpose or through misunderstanding. I never said anything about a person “alone” or apart from society. That’s a straw man that you invented and then argued against. It has nothing to do with my post.

    Also, capitalism is not the same as revering greed. Many capitalists are philanthoropists. Without them, the poor would starve. See The Most Generous Nation in the World for statistics.

    You like the idea of a gift economy. Maybe that’s because you’re lazy or have never developed any valuable skills, and want other people to support you. But, as someone who has earned my way in life, why should I give what I worked hard for to you, just because you’re too lazy to earn your own? You want the government to take from me by force to give to those who see no reason to pull their own weight as long as they can get somebody else to tow them.

    But why would anybody (other than your husband) want to work to support you? At least he gets some value in return (presumably). I do not.

    I believe in charity for those who are truly in need, who have the potential and the will to contribute some value to society, in return for fair compensation, but have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own. But I abhor laziness and entitlement, and do not want to give one dime to support it, because that encourages something I consider fundamentally ethically wrong.

    You don’t believe in private property, so you feel a sense of entitlement to what others have earned. I see that mindset as the same mindset of a theif who wants what others have earned and doesn’t see why they shouldn’t take it.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    NYD,

    Cindy accurately represents a “gift economy” – that is to say one built on bartering, one that is essentially one of hunters and gatherers. In such a society, “fair market price” is determined by the individuals bartering over goods or services that they themselves offer without the medium of money. The status symbol of such a society – both individually and collectively – is its ability to give gifts to strangers. Hence the name. In such a society, those who cannot hunt or gather still get meat and food, as they can be (and will be) expected to make other kinds of contributions.

    You are right about animal husbandry – for the most part. For an example of how a “gift society” works with animal husbandry, read the Bible – specifically the story of Jacob living with his father-in-law Lavan, or of Abraham and Lot, both found in the Book of Genesis.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    This was another conversation, NYD and another context. You’re being too serious. Not everything is ideology.

  • Arch Conservative

    “If you wish to label that reality as “greed,” so be it. But once you do, you are constrained to a terribly myopic view of the situation.”

    I wouldn’t define the pursuit to maintain one’s own personal reward as greed but I would say that it morphs into greed when one has accumaluated so much of that personal reward that they could never consume it themselves in ten lifetimes and then proceeds to not even entertain the possibility of giving some of that personal reward, even a minute fraction, to others that may truly need it to obtain the basic necessities of life.

    I’m not the type the kneed jerkedly claims that all those who have soemmoney are corrupt, incompassionate vile beings however it does sicken me when I see someone in corporate America’s who’s already legitimately pulling down seven figures engage int he illegal, ammoral and unseemly so they can get more. That is greed. No doubt about it.

    But it does all come back to how materialistic and status obsessed we have all become. Even those that recognize it and write about it on here fall prey to it. I’m not a sociologist or cultural anthropologist but I do recall reading or hearing about all kinds of studies showing that poor people are mofre often than not happier than those who are wealthy.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Government is not strictly necessary to protect private property. In the absence of government, one will protect one’s own property, just as one will protect one’s own life and one’s loved ones. That’s human nature.

    So, by ‘one’ you didn’t mean an individual? Okay. But, that still presumes in your imagined scenario that private property exists in the culture. So, it’s the same point, whether it’s one person alone or people together in a community. The salient point is–you imagine people all ‘naturally’ act just like you would and that private property is some’natural’ condition. My point is that it’s not.

    Roger, you cannot be a sheep farmer without the notion of private property.

    Of course you can. And people did just that on the commons in England pre-capitalism.

    You don’t believe in private property, so you feel a sense of entitlement to what others have earned.

    Private property is accomplished by stealing land from the people who had it before you. Advocating this is antisocial.

    You haven’t come up with anything new, haven’t answered anything I have asked. You’re like a parrot, repeating the same biases you were taught–nothing original added. I can hear this from dozens of people. It’s boring. I’m still waiting for one of you to consider and reply to anything I’ve asked. For example, no one has ever given me an example of land being owned without theft. How does one ‘earn’ the earth and keep it over other people who come after them?

    What about all of the people, now and throughout history, who did not have or want private property and used the land without stealing it from the use of others? They don’t get what they want, for themselves and their progeny, because you have some cockamamie notion that you can ‘earn’ ownership of the world they inhabit?

    Who do you think you are? You should get some manners. I don’t require your support. I require your absence.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    31 – Arch,

    While the notion of efficient, moral capitalism may be an illusion so is the idea that with enough government social engineering we can have a fair and just society.

    I agree. We should get rid of government.

    There are always going to be inequities in society in large part stemming from the capacity for either effort and determination or apathy and inaction of the individual.

    I think most of the problem comes from unfairness. It doesn’t seem to be those who are making $100k/year who are ever ‘lazy’. It’s always poor people who are lazy. Why is it that being born in poverty makes people ‘lazy’? Now imagine if instead of making $7/hr, workers in a company were all part owners of that company. I think this arrangement would inspire a reduction in ‘laziness’.

    While having compassion for the misfortunes that may befall your fellow citizens, it should be considered acceptable and moral to expect to keep most if not all of the fruit’s of your own individual effort.

    Now that is not saying something too much different from what I think. Except that you are tolerating the system of wage-slavery and then saying as a better slave you want to keep what you earn. I am saying, I agree, we should own the fruit of our labor–without Capitalists trying to harness it. It is slave masters who cause the problem. They only want you to believe its your fellow slaves who are lazy and won’t work hard like you do. Get rid of owners of means of production who think that their money is worth more than your and everyone else’s lives.

    Each person should own her own hand. That is a good start for creating a society of real freedom and equality.

  • Arch Conservative

    Cindy you obviously believe in equality of outcome whereas I believe in equality of opportunity.

    You toss around the term slave in a pretty cavalier manner. Perhaps you should do some historical research so you can see what slavery actually was all about. Maybe then you’ll stop making those awful inappropriate analogies.

  • http://notyourdaddy.wordpress.com/ NotYourDaddy

    Cindy, of course, by “one,” I meant an individual. Is your contention that individuals do not exist in the context of society, and an individual can only exist if they are alone? I don’t follow.

    Private property is an innate concept. Even animals are territorial. People initially have a sense of self. A person will instinctively defend themself without having to be taught that they have a “right” to do so. After the sense of self, comes a sense of family. A person will defend those closest to them without having to be taught they have a “right” to do so. Next, people have an innate sense of ownership of the fruits of their labor. A person will defend their property without having to be taught they have a “right” to do so. If you doubt this, try taking a toy or candy away from a 2-year old, and see if they don’t feel a sense of ownership.

    The concept of private property is innate. All your arguments against it seem to be based on the ownership of land, but people own much more than land. Do you feel that all ownership is theft, or just the ownership of land?

    You say you agree with Arch that we should be able to keep the fruits of our labor, but that is ownership. Do you think you have an inherent right to keep the fruits of your labor, or do you think the fruits of your labor rightfully belong to all mankind, and that they are granted to you by the largesse of someone else?

  • STM

    NYD: “Roger, you cannot be a sheep farmer without the notion of private property.”

    Not totally true. Mostly they would be contained to pasture but you can still find sheep grazing on heathland and moorland in the UK where there is right to roam … “mountain, moor, heath, down and registered common land”, some of which might also be Crown land.

    And yes, there would have been sheep grazing on the village green a few centuries ago. Probably in America too.

  • Jackson

    Could we perhaps conclude that the supposed evil “greed” is the normal pursuit of personal reward extended to a self defeating and actually counter-productive extreme? Such a compromise would allow for both recognition that a successful economic system would require provision of the opportunity for the individual to satisfy the normal urge and provide restraint of excesses that harm everyone.

    The problem I have with associating capitalism with the evil “greed” and therefore deeming capitalism to be evil is that the evil “greed” is a human flaw that will appear in any economic system. On that, I’d suggest that the idealistic gift society would flounder inevitably upon the greed of the gift recipient who demanded more and more gifting.

    Which was what the comment on the Pilgrims’ experience was all about.

    Of course, if someone has an example of a gift society that worked as a system for more than a band of primitives living off the land, I’d be open to persuasion.

  • Jackson

    It might also help to get it into our heads what property is all about.

    Property, I suggest, is a bundle of rights guaranteed and protected by government. Those rights extend to every form of valuable right or interest, both tangible and intangible. They include ownership and dominion – the rights to possession and exclusion of others – the right to lawful disposal – the right to use without consent of others.

    The essential difference between free market economic systems and the various forms of collectivism – socialism, communism, etc. is how the system deals with the concept of property.

    Thus, what you think of property will ultimately define your political persuasion.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    You make some valid points in #77 and 78. But as I said in #44, “. . .there are levels and ways of thinking about what counts as personal reward.”

    So yes, although the greed may not be altogether eliminated from all, there’s no question that the system, should I say, encourage this “quality” in many. Besides, it’s not even a satisfactory explanation of the system’s workings when taken on that simple, individualist level. It has more to do with the extent it tends to permeate the entire society at all levels – from business to government, resulting in collusion and the climate of corruption. You yourself address some of these issues, however tacitly, in #76. Indeed, we are facing the system’s ultimate breakdown, not from without as a result of some kind of revolution, but from within – orchestrated by the abuses in the financial sector.

    Consequently, the issue isn’t simply one of greed but of creating an alternative political-economic system which will be less rewarding of greed and promoting instead the spirit of greater cooperation. But as I say, I don’t think it’s any longer a matter of our druthers but of actual events and happenings: the system about to emerge is not going to be quite the same.

    And second, why equate the system with preservation of private property? That’s drawing the line in way too absolute terms – as though private property wasn’t protected prior to the advent of the capitalist system of production. You know it’s not the case.

    If you want to defend the merits of the system, you should try to do it along more realistic and believable lines.

  • http://notyourdaddy.wordpress.com/ NotYourDaddy

    STM, it’s true you don’t have to own the property on which your sheep graze. (Even here in the U.S., ranchers can have grazing rights on BLM land.) But how do you be a sheep rancher without owning sheep?

    Are you suggesting that all the sheep should be collectively owned, and whoever feels like tending them should tend them?

    Why would anybody feel like tending them if they don’t have any more right to the fruit of the labor they invest in tending the sheep than someone who doesn’t tend them? Supppose you spend all your time tending a flock and then somebody else comes along and takes them away?

    Or is the idea that the government, or society, or the community, collectively owns the sheep, — as well as collectively owning your labor? In that case the elected officials, or elders, or bureaucrats determine who gets to eat sheep and when, and who must tend the sheep, or slaughter them, or perform whatever other tasks are necessary in the husbandry of sheep.

    My problem with a collectivist system is that, as an individualist, I don’t want someone else dictating my life. Even though I have to work for wages (which Cindy considers being a wage slave) I have a choice in what I do. And I can save up my money and quit my job and do whatever I want, if I so please. But that requires the notion of private property. Without private property, I can’t save for my freedom. Without private property, I truly am a slave, doing someone else’s bidding.

    It is the right to own property that allows us to be free. I’ll take freedom.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    I think Jackson has it dead-on in #78. Property is the defining right which draws a line between those who believe in individual liberty and those who believe that liberty is a privelege granted by the state.

    Dave

  • http://notyourdaddy.wordpress.com/ NotYourDaddy

    Ruvy: In such a society, those who cannot hunt or gather still get meat and food, as they can be (and will be) expected to make other kinds of contributions.

    And suppose they don’t make any other kind of contribution? That is what we have today with our entitlement system. We have a large (and growing) number of people who live off the taxpayers who do not produce or contribute to society.

    In the example of your gifting society, as long as you have any kind of barter system, you have private property. You cannot barter what is not yours. Wherever you have private property, you have the seeds of capitalism, because some will always be more productive than others, and will accumulate more than others. As soon as they reinvest what they accumulate in further enhancing their productive capacity, rather than consuming it all, they are capitalists. And that further enhancement of their productive capacity benefits the society.

    As for those who are not hunter-gatherers, but contribute in other ways, there is no reason those people should not be compensated for what they contribute, so they do not have to rely on the largesse of others for their survival.

    What makes people slaves is a lack of freedom. When one is dependent on others for one’s sustenance, and has no means of one’s own, one is either a slave or a charity case. In neither position does one have real freedom. One can only have true freedom when one can be independent of others’ will. Independence can only be achieved through having your own means, so you can determine your own fate rather than having others determine it for you.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Dave, #80:

    He wasn’t making that kind of connection, Dave, not within the political philosophy proper – not that I can tell. If you read his last comment, the connection was between the capitalist system as being somehow unique in protecting private property. And that’s not so. It’s defending capitalism on rather weak grounds.

    Is it because he couldn’t mount a more vigorous kind of defense?

  • STM

    NYD: “The proper role of government is to protect the rights of its citizens to life, liberty, and property.”

    And in most developed western nations but not the US, governments and citizens have taken it one step further and decided that part of the contract involving the right to life means providing decent and affordable health care.

    Although we DO pay for it indirectly. There’s no such thing as a free lunch … but it is fairer.

    And a happy society is a good society, one of the main reasons being that it whinges less.

  • STM

    NYD: “My problem with a collectivist system is that, as an individualist, I don’t want someone else dictating my life.”

    Whatever you might think of America’s current circumstances, there isn’t much risk of that happening any time soon.

    It’s instructive to look at other western societies. America has some catching up to do in some areas when it comes to rights, although many Americans will buy into the myth of their own exceptionalism when it comes to this.

    For instance, I believe as a person not interested in owning a gun, I have the right not to have lunatics taking potshots at me because they’ve been able to walk into a shop and buy one without any checks and controls.

    I don’t believe in gun bans, but controls are another thing.

    I also believe that as a taxpayer, I have the right to have my government spend my tax dollar on something useful: like health care, because all citizens should have the right to become ill and to be treated the same as anyone else without going bankrupt.

    However, I also believe I have the tright to buy my own private health coverage and get a tax break from the government for doing so.

    I also believe in free speech as a God-given right, but just like in the US, that should not be absolute.

    My view: people also have the right not to be vilified (and therefore treated differently, or be victimised) or have their reputations and livelihoods and futures destroyed on a whim (that also comes under life, liberty and pursuit of happiness).

    Truth should always be a defence but where those things are founded on ignorance, hate, fear, anger and downright malicious intent, there has to be a legal comeback to that stuff. As a person’s natural right.

    My other view: Rights written down by men on a piece of paper 200 years ago may not be the only rights you have (which is what the 9th amendment says quite clearly, too … although the group I call “constitutionalists”, those who think that great document is not just an anchor for rule of law, and meant to be flexible, living and breathing, but rather absolute and immoveable law, will swear blind that it has some other meaning).

    Much of how we all interpret this stuff is down to how we see it.

    And it doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

    I live quite happily down here on the edge of the south pacific, with a lifestyle and wages better than those of the average punter in the US, and in a society that I don’t consider socialist but which many Americans might.

    It’s all relative. I don’t call it socialism; I call it community. Socialism is what happened in Russa and China.

    And no one can stay stuck in the dark ages forever.

  • FitzBoodle

    Capitalism and Free Markets are antithetical. Capitalists exert every effort to destroy any Free market and to dominate it.

    That’s why ignorant rightists constantly whine that Free markets have never been tried. It’s not the fault of their opponents, but, rather, the inherent contradiction in their beliefs.

  • Jackson

    Roger #78: “Indeed, we are facing the system’s ultimate breakdown, not from without as a result of some kind of revolution, but from within – orchestrated by the abuses in the financial sector.”

    I disagree entirely. The practical collapse of our economic system is simply an illustration of the failure of democratic socialism.

    Initially, we were confronted with government assuming control of the resources and procedures of production with the resultant decline of production as an element of GNP. About the same time we converted to a monetary system based on credit. (You take out a loan, and the Fed creates an equivalent dollar.) This allowed the creation of new money not by production but by promising to pay in the future.

    Then the government chose to dole out unlimited credit to those who had not earned it and could not pay for it by way of the Community Reinvestment Act and financial regulations against redlining. Effectively, by giving credit the government was giving money. (Talk about your gift economy.)

    What do you know? We very shortly got to the point of not being able to service the debts we already had and the “bubble” burst. Did some scalawags see how to really cash in on this government largesse? You bet. But the crux of the matter is that we – the people – have more debt than we can handle and the beneficiaries of the government’s free credit are hopelessly in over their heads.

    The lesson in our experience is that socialism – government control of the means of production and distribution of the rewards of production – cannot be made to work and not even capitalists can save such a system.

  • Jackson

    PS: Roger

    I wasn’t trying to defend capitalism. I didn’t mention it. I am in favor of free markets and free enterprise with the rewards of success and the cost of failure going to free participants.

    I do not see “capitalism” as a system but rather as an economic tool that may or may not be utilized in the free market.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “The practical collapse of our economic system is simply an illustration of the failure of democratic socialism.”

    If you mean that the collapse of the real estate market, which led to irresponsible behavior in the financial sector, was the result of “democratic socialism” because of some of the HUD (read: government policies), then I’d be willing to agree with you.

    But not if you factor in the collusion between business and government, at all levels, which made those abuses possible – which you conveniently fail to address.

    The case you are presenting is way too skewed – with only government in the picture and not the capitalist system itself – which is the only reason why you can draw such an unfathomable conclusion.

    If anything, the Reagan deregulation era was just the opposite of the kind of thesis you’re are presenting – not controlling means of production but in fact facilitating globalization of corporations, mergers. It was clearly a hands-off approach, everyone being given a green light.

    And if you’re referring to the recent treatment of AIG and other financial institutions, even GM, as any kind of example, then you’re off, too, for these were clearly remedial measures.

    So yes, the multinationals and our financiers on Wall Street – unhampered and unregulated – have brought all this about. The system collapsed of its own accord.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It’s cool you’re making that distinction. Not many would. The question is – are free markets a viable reality? And under what conditions?

  • STM

    Jackson: “The practical collapse of our economic system is simply an illustration of the failure of democratic socialism.”

    Jackson, you dingbat … Australia might be what Americans term a social-democrat nation.

    At the time the American economy went pear-shaped, I wouldn’t describe it as that.

    Our economy grew during the global financial crisis – with all our social democracy – unemployment is very low compared to the US, housing prices are UP pretty much across the board, interest rates are going up again.

    And contrary to what you might think in the US, the standard of living here is the same – or better – than it is in the US.

    So in one of the places (HERE) in the world that r5eally does have social-democratic government, the economy is doing nicely, thanks very much.

    Which leads me to conclude that the statement above comes from ignorance and is pure horsesh.t.

    The world economy was (nearly) destroyed by unregulated greed in Wall Street and the City of London, not by social democracy.

    Nice try, but.

  • STM

    “Unregulated” being the key word here, BTW.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    In the example of your gifting society, as long as you have any kind of barter system, you have private property.

    Not exactly. In most hunter-gatherer societies, such as the Plains Indians, bartering only took place between tribes, not within the tribe itself. So in that sense, property was not private, but communal.

  • http://notyourdaddy.wordpress.com/ NotYourDaddy

    Dr. Dreadful, that is fine as far as it goes. But how many hunter-gatherer societies exist today? How many of the revolutionizing innovations in industry, technology, science, medicine, or any other of the great advances of civilization came out of hunter-gatherer societies?

    From an evolutionary perspective, such societies have become extinct. I would submit that those societies were superceded by more advanced societies, and that the concept of private property, and an individual‘s right to the fruits of their own labor has been a significant driver of progress and innovation throughout the history of civilization.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    NYD,

    From an evolutionary perspective, such societies (hunter-gatherer) have become extinct.

    Bullshit!

    For years I held onto a 1970 New York Magazine article that explained the structure of the economy and how it was exactly like a hunter-gatherer society.

    I don’t have a URL, but it drove home number of cogent points.

    1. Salesmen and account execs are the modern day equivalent of hunters.
    2. Secretaries and bookkeepers are the modern day equivalent of the “squaw men” or gatherers, such as one saw in American Indian societies.

    3. All enterprises had hunters (auditors in the IRS, “rain men” in law offices, salesmen in other businesses, etc., etc.) and gatherers (bookkeepers, accountants, lawyers, secretaries, inventory clerks and the like)

    4. Businesses get their income from the “hunters”, and the “gatherers” expend a lot of that income in keeping the business going.

    4. The optimum size for a sales team was no larger than ten men (similarly for a squad in the army), the optimum number of employees was 6,000 – the size of the standard Roman legion. This was the largest number of people that one could expect one person (the CEO, or the commander of the legion) to be able to remember or recognize.

    If you take the medium of money away from all this (i.e. through a financial collapse), what you have is bartering left. Thus, you see the original bare-bones of the society re-emerge as a hunter-gatherer society. This is a point not even approached in the original New York Magazine article – nobody ever contemplated the USA going belly-up 40 years ago. But, that is what appears to be happening….

    Heh! The last quarter of the Twentieth Century and the first decade of the Twenty-First (still on-going) was the era of parody coming true as real-life….

  • Jackson

    It sounds like it is fair to say that Roger and Dr. Dreadful are advocates of the proposition that the society of the American Plains Indians are an example of a successful socialistic society in the sense of a “gift society” with founded upon collective rather than private ownership of property, while Ruvy suggests Australia as an example of democratic socialism that has not collapsed.

    Do I understand the positions correctly?

  • Jackson

    Ruvy: 94

    The article in question is reasoning in metaphor. That makes for great poetry and like all poetry provides one with a valuable insight to one aspect of the subject, which enhances one’s appreciation of the subject. It does not make for a sound system of analysis or system of science.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    The article in New York Magazine was meant to be metaphor – except that it explained away a lot of things like the size of military units – which in the end are groups of hunters with a narrowly defined target and purpose – other humans.

    The irony is that the thing that hides the skeleton of caveman society from us today – the medium of money – is collapsing in value (a collapse of your dollar will eventually lead to the collapse of other currencies as well, including the shekel here). This was not contemplated at all in 1970. That means that the skeleton will re-emerge.

    As to NYD’s observations that the entitlement system feeds people who do not contribute to society, that is only partially true – the word “entitlement” confuses things by mixing those who receive welfare – whose contribution to society can be questioned – with pensioners, who earned support in their old age.

    In any society, the basis of the social safety net is, in reality, the Biblical (or some other sort of) dictum to care for the widow and orphan – one can extend that to mean the crippled who can do no real work, the retarded, and the blind and deaf, whose abilities to contribute to society at that time were viewed as limited.

    And here you must make a choice. Do the widow, orphan, crippled, deaf and blind people starve because they do not contribute to society – are they to be made slaves – or are they to be supported in dignity? I make no recommendations. I merely lay out the options.

    As for pensioners, and the elderly, they already contributed, and their support is the thanks they get for having done so for however many years they supported the society.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    You’re underestimating the power of the metaphor, Jackson. Most original thinking proceeds from and takes that form. Your problem seems to be that you take the scientific model as the only viable model for producing cogent statement – regardless of the subject matter. To do so would be great misunderstanding.

    And judging by your syntax, I’m convinced you’re a very intelligent and articulate fellow. I think it’s a great idea that you’re posting here. But try to be more careful, please.

    I made no comments whatever about “gift economy,” so your lumping me with other people’s thinking – not that I disagree with Dreadful, simply haven’t given it much thought and therefore kept silent on the matter – sounds like an evasive maneuver.

    You can do better than that.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    74 – NYD,

    By innate, you mean private property is encoded in our DNA? Your examples don’t wash. People fight over who got to a parking space first. I have never, however, seen any of them stake an ownership claim to one. I generally do not aim to kill when someone ‘trespasses’ on my lawn either–does this DNA encoding have some built in rules about have far we should go to defend our ‘private property’? I don’t think the fact that the eyelid blinks to protect the eye from injury, makes your case that ‘private property’ is an ‘innate’ category. Also, I am not likely to be won over by the suggestion that men (and I specifically mean ‘men’ and not ‘women’, sexist that I am) should strive to never mature beyond the level of two-year-olds.

    This bears spelling out in line with your example, in a more serious way: I am saying here that, we learn how to go from being concerned with self to developing a sense of self as part of the community during the socialization process. That is what makes for mature adults. Therefore, those who are still fighting over toys like infants may be understood to be immature, not a credit to your theory of innate ‘private property’ at all, but actually quite deficient and retarded as human beings go.

    Next question. Yes, mostly I am concerned with land and the ability for everyone to have access to it and to use it. Also, I think buildings and other structures on land should be available for use if they are not already being used. I am not interested in making your underwear public property (or your diamond ring, for that matter.) I am not interested in in sleeping on your sofa or entering and using a space that you are using. I don’t really care if you have a TV that’s bigger than anyone else in the world. Well, unless you claim exclusive use of the IMAX theater. Then, we have a problem, pal. ;-)

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Oh, and I am also concerned with workers’ ownership of the entire fruits of their labor. Thus, the elimination of wage slavery.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “Private property is an innate concept. Even animals are territorial.”

    It does indeed look like suspect thinking to try to derive “private property” concept from “being territorial.” It involves what one could call a quantum leap.

    In addition, the whole idea of there being “innate concepts” is also one which requires closer examination. Sure, it’s part of our language – in some societies – in which case we learn the concept just like we learn other terms of the language. But what of societies or communities in which the notion of private property is either absent or less-clearly defined?

    In addition, the very notion of language is not such that it comes to us ready-made and fully developed. So even in “advanced” societies, one could argue that it’s highly problematic whether the concept of “private property” figured as a permanent feature. In all likelihood, the concept developed – over time. Why? Probably because of “the territorial instinct.” But to say that is far from saying that the concept of private property, or any other concept is itself innate. That would be to identify “concepts” with “instincts.” A “category mistake,” to use Gilbert Ryle’s apt phrase.
    In any case, the relationship between the two is far more complex to answer to the simple positing of identity.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Ruvy reminds us of the important point that money only has value because we agree among ourselves that it does. But it has now been removed entirely into the realm of the abstract: it no longer represents a predetermined quantity of goods or even a predetermined weight of a given metal. Which does make it rather flimsy.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    You might be interested in John Searle’s conception of money as an example of what he calls “institutional facts” – as opposed to “brute facts” – like mountains, valley, paper. They’re “institutional” by virtue of social convention whereby we confer certain status on them.

    But more generally speaking, Ruvy’s last post was a good example of clear thinking.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “Searle extended his inquiries into observer-relative phenomena by trying to understand social reality. Searle begins by arguing collective intentionality (e.g. “we’re going for a walk”) is a distinct form of intentionality, not simply reducible to individual intentionality (e.g. “I’m going for a walk with him and I think he thinks he’s going for a walk with me and thinks I think I’m going for a walk with him and …”).
    Searle’s The Construction of Social Reality (1995) addresses the mystery of how social constructs like “baseball” or “money” can exist in a world consisting only of physical particles in fields of force. Adopting an idea by Elizabeth Anscombe in “On Brute Facts”, Searle distinguishes between brute facts, like the height of a mountain, and institutional facts, like the score of a baseball game. Aiming at an explanation of social phenomena in terms of Anscombe’s notion, he argues that society can be explained in terms of institutional facts, and institutional facts arise out of collective intentionality through logical rules of the form “X counts as Y in C”. Thus, for instance, filling out a ballot counts as a vote in a polling place, getting so many votes counts as a victory in an election, getting a victory counts as being elected president in the presidential race, etc.” (Wiki)

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Daddy @ #93:

    No, some hunter-gatherer societies still exist, although they are few and far between.

    By arguing that they were superseded by ‘more advanced’ societies, you make a value judgment which is a common misrepresentation of evolution. The organisms which prevail through natural selection are not necessarily the most advanced or complex ones, but simply the ones best adapted to survive in the environment they find themselves in. That environment changes over time, which means that a species (or economic system) which has come to dominate a particular environment may not necessarily be the best equipped to cope with change.

    Gift, or hunter-gatherer, societies worked perfectly well; they are not extinct; and their time may come again.

    But all that is rather beside the point, which is that the concept of private (individual) property is not the default concept of human societies.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Jackson @ #95:

    No, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the Plains Indians and other gift societies were socialistic in nature. Socialism, much as its advocates may deny it, relies on the notion of social class: its central idea is that the worker class controls the means of production. There is an element of compulsion to share.

    Hunter-gatherer societies have no concept of class, and it would not occur to them to make laws demanding that resources be shared. It’s just the way things are done.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Is the form of address, “Daddy,” a missionary activity designed to convert him from NYD to D, and eventually perhaps to “your daddy” or “sugar daddy”?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Perish the thought, Rog!

    No, I’m just following the convention of shortening people’s names here on BC, whether they use their real ones or not.

    Rog, Clav, B-tone, Archie, Doc etc. And now Daddy! :-)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    #106,

    Interesting point, Dreadful. We all know of course of the primacy of the “class” concept in Marxist theory, but it a rather novel take, IMO, when it comes to “socialism” itself.

    I suppose the object is the abolition of class structure, which presupposes the prior existence of classes. In any case, something to think about.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I just wasn’t sure. It looked like a Freudian slip at first.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    it [money] has now been removed entirely into the realm of the abstract: it no longer represents a predetermined quantity of goods or even a predetermined weight of a given metal. Which does make it rather flimsy.

    When I wrote a paper in 1977 on the IMF and the de-linking of gold from the dollar in 1971, I didn’t realize that this meant that a currency could go belly-up. I didn’t understand how flimsy the system was until the United States ceased being a creditor nation in 1981. That was when I started taking a much closer look at that 100,000 Reichsmark banknote from 1923 I have folded away in a drawer. The Weimar Republic suffered in its very legitimacy from being a debtor nation. And now Americans are having a very hard time adjusting mentally to the fact that being in debt circumscribes your freedom of action.

    Glen Boyd, in a different article, asked Obama to “fix it” – meaning the economy mostly – as if he could. Even if he wanted to, Obama can’t. The problem is just too big for him, and he is just not smart enough to pull it off. Right now the market in the States is swollen with “stimulus” money he loaded into the economy. So Obama’s defenders think he has pulled the USA out of a recession with jobs being a lagging indicator. He hasn’t, in spite of appearances.

    When that money dries up, the market will fall, and all the problems attendant a falling market will return. That is why here in Israel, people are confidently predicting a dollar worth 3.4 or 3.3 shekels by December 2010 instead of the present dollar that hovers around 3.75 shekels. They are making their investments accordingly, hoping (against hope) that the present downturn will reverse itself in the near future.

    In all likelihood, IMHO, the dollar will fall closer to 2.75 or 3 shekels with investors nervous about its decline, and the market in the States will fall and keep falling. I expect the decline in the dollar against the shekel to accelerate in 2011. The only question in my own mind is how much the local shares market here in Israel will detach itself from the sick one on Wall Street.

    Which brings me back to the fundamental point. What we live in, whether we like it or not, is a hunter-gatherer society. When the medium of money is removed from the scene of the major economies, they will either have to find some other medium of exchange that works, like gold, or return to the barter system. And then we will have to have a major renegotiation of what Americans call “entitlements”.

  • http://notyourdaddy.wordpress.com/ NotYourDaddy

    #94: Ruvy, your point seems to be that we are still a hunter-gatherer society. OK. Then you should be good with the current system. Capitalists are simply hunters.

    One problem with metaphors is that you can map almost anything to almost anything else if you stretch it far enough.

    But what about our welfare class today? What about the fact that we have a whole class of people who are living off the system, and feel entitled to do so? And who pass that sense of entitlement on to the next generation, and the next… We wonder why poverty rates are increasing. The answer is, we get what we pay for. We reward non-productivity, and we consequently get more of it.

    #99: Cindy, humans are animals and we do have instincts that drive certain aspects of our behavior. Perhaps that’s not ideal. Perhaps, if we were all “mature,” we would overcome the parts of human nature of which you disapprove. It is true that, to have any kind of Utopian society where everybody is equal and shares everything and loves one another would require us to overcome much of our instinctive nature. The only problem is, in the real world, human nature is what it is and cannot be denied or wished away. That is why no communist or socialist system has ever succeeded on a large scale.

    Nor is human nature necessarily bad. Philanthropy is also part of human nature, but one must first acquire something before one can give it away. The acquisitiveness that you label greed is what has driven most of the advances of civilization.

    #105, Dr. Dreadful reminds us that evolution does not necessarily mean the evolved species, or culture, is superior to that from which it evolved, it is just better adapted to the enviornment. That’s true.

    Superiority is entirely a value judgement. One person may feel that mankind was better off when life was simply a matter of killing or harvesting tonight’s dinner, when man basically lived like animals, but with the advantage of simple tools. Anoter person may feel that mankind is better off with things like plumbing, electricity, transportation and communication systems, medicince, etc. For those that do not value innovation and progress, and the frutis of invention, exploration, and entreprenership, I can see how socialism looks like a superior system. For myself, I prefer the fruits of captialism.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    NYD,

    I think you are a wonderful thinker for someone whose ideas have been handed to them. You are like a good house negro. I’m not in the mood to deal with that today, as some days I actually get angry at people who hold this shithole in place, no matter how innocent you are.

  • Jackson

    Roger: 98

    “You’re underestimating the power of the metaphor, Jackson. Most original thinking proceeds from and takes that form. Your problem seems to be that you take the scientific model as the only viable model for producing cogent statement – regardless of the subject matter. To do so would be great misunderstanding.”

    Roger: 101
    “It does indeed look like suspect thinking to try to derive “private property” concept from ‘being territorial.’ It involves what one could call a quantum leap.”

    I tried to give appropriate credit to methaphorical analysis. It provides a method of deeper understanding of an aspect of a subject. It’s limitation, which is being overlooked, is that it will not lead to an algorithm with reliable switches for processing data or planning an outcome. That requires a logical, i.e. scientific model. We are discussing the difference between an artist and an engineer.

    Case in point: your reference to territoriality not being indicative of the concept of private property.

    If one begins with a fixed definition of property – as I suggested – then one can measure whether the observable behavior of animals regarding territory conforms with the conceptual idea of property involving the right to exclusive use.

  • Irene Wagner

    Roger, I’m sorry about the snarky reference to Maslow’s Hierarchy earlier. Today, on a day when I don’t have a pounding flu-related headache, I shall explain, without snark, what motivated it. A world of sharing where every person counts–the one that you and Cindy discuss–is the ideal, which, if the Messianic miracle required to make it happen all at once tarries, must be achieved by degrees.

    That may not be true, but it’s something that I believe, given the way I look at early-to-mid 20th century history. Making promises that ending capitalism will usher in an era of peace and fairness sounds like propaganda that’s been tried before. How can we be sure that radically changing the environment, to incubate a new human nature, will result in Man v.2. who is any more generous than Man v.1?

    I hope we DO “go gentle into,” whatever change is coming, people reasoning peaceably to stop changes that aren’t helpful and being open to reasoning so that they don’t stand in the way of changes suggested by The Others that might actually be the way to go, whoever The Others are.

    If the current sorry state of governance and economy in the US is to be changed into something reasonable AND humane, I hope it can be changed, by degrees, into something that still retains what was positive about the capitalism we used to have. Maybe a gentle transition to a lot of things we can’t envision now can be hammered out by elites who listen to and pull out the best ideas of the populists, wisely leaving the worst ideas off the agenda–in other words, that they start behaving like Statesmen again.

    Is it too much to ask that the elites, elected and unelected, and populists, we the people, can give a hearing to one another at their Starbuck Parties and Tea Parties respectively?

    I would like to make this my last comment for awhile. I think I need to practice what I preach, like I used to try to. I think Arch Conservative should change his name to Part Conservative.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    You have to give me time, Irene, to respond to this posting. OK?

  • http://notyourdaddy.wordpress.com/ NotYourDaddy

    Cindy, you’re making some inaccurate assumptions. Who do you think is handing my ideas to me? I haven’t had a television in over twenty years, I don’t listen to radio, and I get my “news” and raw data from an eclectic variety of sources because I like to analyze all sides of an issue before coming to my own conclusions.

    I do have a strong conservative libertairian bias, because of my core value system. But even that was not “handed to me” by anyone. I was raised a liberal, but underwent a dramatic change of perspective after studying the actual history of communism and socialism in the real world. That was, in fact, when I began thinking for myself in earnest, and relying on logic and empirical evidence to form my ideas of the world, rather than simple idealism.

    It’s easy to write off people who disagree with you by telling yourself (and them) that they don’t think for themselves, but perhaps you’re just making it more comfortable for yourself not to have to deal with their ideas.

  • Irene Wagner

    No time left to give right now, Roger. I’ve said enough, anyway. Stay well.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Why should I accept your fixed definition? If you suggest it as a “scientific hypothesis,” that’s another matter. But besides, this is hardly a controlled experiment to be trying to prove this hypothesis on the basis of empirical observations. There are way too many factors involved to even attempt to do such a thing – factors you don’t even allude to let alone mention.

    It really is a convoluted way to be arguing on behalf of the concept being “innate,” which was your original claim. I’m afraid you’re mixing different language games here. Your original statement had the status of ontological reality/truth. Now you’re shifting ground and are trying to “prove” it by experimental methods, which would make it a theory. I’m afraid you’re really confused as to what you are really trying to communicate. It’s either one or the other. The original statement, “the concept of private property is innate,” cannot be both. It’s either some conceptual truth on behalf of which you’re arguing or a home-grown “scientific hypothesis.” You really ought to make up your mind as to what you really mean.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I didn’t mean this very minute, Irene, by golly. And I certainly didn’t mean for you to stay glued to the screen.

  • http://notyourdaddy.wordpress.com/ NotYourDaddy

    Roger, I’m not always precise in my language, especially when engaged in casual dialogue. Of course I understand that a “concept” cannot be “innate.” A concept is an idea, and nobody is born with pre-formed ideas. Please pardon my sloppiness of expression.

    Let me rephrase it. It is my belief that one has a sense of self before one learns words that distinguish “I” from “you.” It is also my belief that, along with a sense of “me” and “you,” one also has a sense of “mine” and “yours.” I provided an example of how that can be observed in human behavior, before it has been taught (assuming it is taught), and that there are parallels in animal behavior, giving evidence of its origins as instinctive, rather than learned.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    How can you have a sense of self BEFORE learning the words “I” or “you”? How would that sense be expressed without those words? Besides, “territorial” doesn’t necessarily mean having to do with “property.” It has more likely to do with the survival instinct. To speak of property is surely to make an extension.

    Further point. Humans acquire culture and culture takes over (though not necessarily eliminates) the instinct. What may have originally been a matter of instinct, in the course of human growth and development, because of human culture, can and often is unlearned and other cultural values take over. So even on that score, to trace the property concept to instincts is a dubious proposition. To complicate matters further, it commits one to a strictly biological explanation of human language and human behavior. A recourse to human practices and generally speaking, individual cultures, is a sounder way to make the kind of connections you’re after.

    It’s not for me to say, but I really think you should do some independent reading in anthropology, social sciences and philosophy of language. A strictly biological account/explanation is way too reductive for my taste. You can of course keep on believing what you want, but don’t expect me to be dealing with every single issue you raise. It’s just too time consuming.

    Perhaps you should give this matter some more thought and write an article on the subject. It would be one effective way of opening the discussion. Then all of us could respond.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Excuse me, Jackson. Part of my #119 is incorrect. You and NYD do come from a similar perspective, sort of, and I erroneously attributed elements of his argument to you.

  • Jackson

    I guess the question of the hour is whether behavior traits can be inherited.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Two ways to attack this question: biological/genetic research and philosophical analysis. There’s of course also the school of behavioral psychology (Skinner). Even so, I’d argue that they’re not written in stone.

    Perhaps you and NYD should collaborate on a this project and submit a joint paper.

  • http://notyourdaddy.wordpress.com/ NotYourDaddy

    The parallel with animals is not exact, just as there is not an exact parallel when we say certain animals use tools. A chimpanzee may opportunistically find a stick and use it to knock a fruit off a tree if the fruit is beyond their reach. However, a chimpanzee will not plan and manufacture a machine that they can drive through an orchard that will lift them up in the air to pick all the fruits from the tops of the trees. The differences are arguably more striking than the similarities, but what’s interesting is that the incipient behavior pattern is evident in the lower species, though not nearly as sophisticated as it is in humans.

    In the same rudimentary fashion, an animal’s territorial behavior is similar to human behavior in relation to property ownership, in that an animal will defend their territory from others. However, just as animals don’t plan and manufacture tools to be used and reused, they don’t accumulate wealth to reinvest or put away for the future.

    Some animals do gather and store food for the winter, and will protect their hoard from others. But, when the winter is over and fresh food is available, they don’t perceive any further need of stored food. One acorn is as good as another, and animals don’t have the facility to invent anything that adds value, nor the capacity to barter goods and services, so their territorial behavior is as rudimentary as their use of tools.

    Animals have neither the need nor the capacity to manufacture tools or accumulare wealth. People, on the other hand, do plan for the future. That’s why we manufacture tools and accumulate wealth. We have much greater and more diverse desires and capabilities than lower animals do. But we are still animals ourselves, and much of our needs and desires are still rooted in those atavistic instincts, though the manifestations in humans are far more sophisticated due to our greater intellect and ability to perceive and plan for the future.

  • Jackson

    Roger:

    The reason I asked was based on your comment:

    “It’s not for me to say, but I really think you should do some independent reading in anthropology, social sciences and philosophy of language. A strictly biological account/explanation is way too reductive for my taste.”

    The issue of inherited behavior is germane to the extent that you challenged that animals are born with a sense of property.

    As you point out, the different schools of psychology will stress different influences, one favoring conditioned learning – the behavioral school and one favoring inherited traits: psychological imperatives, if you will.

    I would suggest that the songbird’s inherited talent to sing its breed’s peculiar song is not a product of training, which means the behavioral school is not the end all of explanation. At the same time the imperative to sing the peculiar song is excellent evidence of an inherited imperative.

    If such exists relative to one form of behavior, why would you proclaim that an imperative to control territory is not “innate”?

  • STM

    oc: “Rog, Clav, B-tone, Archie, Doc etc. And now Daddy! :-)”

    I fear some of this is my fault, but it’s a cultural thing :)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    First, the comment was addressed to NYD, which makes a difference. But so what if certain instincts are innate? That’s why we refer to them as instinct. Which is far from the end of the story, because humans also acquire culture, which offers more than one possibility for behaving in any given situation.

    But as I said, if you have something germane to say, try to submit an article. It’s too complex a question to be dealing with it on the threads. Make a cogent and fully-developed argument, and I’m certain you’ll get a variety of responses.

    And yes, to attribute to animals a sense of property is to attribute to them the kind of conceptual apparatus that we have – on a symbolic level. Which, again, is making a kind of leap that one would really have to argue for.

    So good luck with your project. I will definitely respond to a fully-developed argument, not before.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Hey, don’t knock culture, Stan. But I was worrying for a while whether Dreadful was in a missionary mode. He’d assured me, though, it was the furthest thing from his mind.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    And yes, it is partly your fault because nobody wants to slug it out with you. Perhaps I, too, should adopt your stance of occasional impatience.

  • STM

    Lol. This just gets better and better.

    Interesting that a piece originally prompting some partisan discussion about the post-American era, which is a nice, catchy and interesting headline, now appears to have segued (or perhaps devolved) into an abstract, all-in, navel-gazing session touching on evolution, hunter-gatherer societies, grazing sheep on moorland, psychology, inherited behaviours, capitalism, socialism, cultural mores of individual societies and quite possibily over the next few days, the origins of the universe.

    Only on BC.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Fun, innit? :-)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Hey, I didn’t start it. And don’t expect me to continue. You guys provide the happy ending.

  • http://notyourdaddy.wordpress.com/ NotYourDaddy

    Roger: “And yes, to attribute to animals a sense of property is to attribute to them the kind of conceptual apparatus that we have – on a symbolic level.”

    Not at all. I addressed this in #126.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    You, NYD, and Jackson are unbelievable. You can’t even tell which comment is addressed to whom. Are you the exact doubles?

    As I said, this is not a three-way conversation. If either of you want to present your argument, write an article. And again, good luck.

  • STM

    Perhaps this is the REAL reason why we might be looking at a post-American era soon.

    Sometimes it seems to me that everyone on that side of the Pacific spends way too much time peering up their own backsides instead of just, you know, gettin’ on and doing stuff.

    Of course, the other real reason we might have a post-American era in the short term is that Americans have lost sight of what they do best: making (or growing) stuff and selling it.

    You don’t stay collectively wealthy by shuffling bits of paper around on Wall St, as we’ve all seen recently.

    Perhaps the lower US dollar will encourage Americans to begin seriously exporting again.

    For the first time in years we have American cars on the road (virtually none since the ’60s until about five years ago) and there is already more stuff in the shops here from the US, which is good.

    Because if I’m not buying Australian, I’d rather buy from places like America and Europe (or some of our other Asian neighbours, and New Zealand) than from China.

    High US dollar values are good for Americans when they go on holiday, but it’s an artificial construct that makes little difference when Americans are buying locally at the supermarket – and it DOES cut them out of the export picture because potential buyers find American cost prohibitive.

    To be honest, I’m happy to buy US goods even if it’s just to keep more ordinary, hard-working Yanks in jobs.

    It’s not just Americans that need a strong America. We all do.

  • STM

    Rog, to be honset, I must say of all the virtual discussions I’ve had on BC, those I’ve had with you have been among the most interesting – especially the stuff about Napoleon, democracy and the English influence on the French enlightment and its connection to the political thinking of those setting up newly independent America.

    I respect someone who stands up for a point of view, even if I don’t always agree with it (and vice-versa, I’m sure :)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Excellent thinking, Stan.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Roger, Blogcritics is by its nature a multi-way conversation and for the record, NYD and Jackson are not the same person. (Or if they are, he’s dashing frantically between different computers, different buildings and quite probably different towns!)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I understand that, Dreadful, but my responses are geared to specific individual rather than to be interpreted en masse. If I want to present something for public consumption, I’ll make sure and do so in writing. I don’t use the thread sections for that purpose. I do hope you understand my reasoning.

    I was only joshing about them being doubles.

    And I do thank you, Stan. You also present a most formidable opponent judging by the debates we had had so far.

  • http://notyourdaddy.wordpress.com NotYourDaddy

    Roger, you’re conveniently ignoring the fact that I had already addressed the issue before you raised it, which is all I was pointing out. And, in fact, as you noted previously, it was you who mistook Jackson for me when you first addressed him on this. I was the one with whom you were originally discussing this topic.

    123: “Excuse me, Jackson. Part of my #119 is incorrect. You and NYD do come from a similar perspective, sort of, and I erroneously attributed elements of his argument to you.”

    #129 (to Jackson): “First, the comment was addressed to NYD, which makes a difference.”

    #136: “You, NYD, and Jackson are unbelievable. You can’t even tell which comment is addressed to whom.”

    You make it difficult to tell whom you’re addressing when you can’t seem to tell us apart. But the old “I wasn’t talking to you” dodge works pretty well for third graders, so why shouldn’t it work for you?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    No, you’re wrong! I speak to you on your level and to somebody else on theirs. If you can’t understand that, I can’t help you. And to tell the truth, this discussion is going nowhere. So I pass.

  • http://notyourdaddy.wordpress.com NotYourDaddy

    Roger, I didn’t ask for your help, and certainly don’t need it. I just was under the impression that you could hold up your end of a rational conversation about a topic on which you seem to have an opinion.

    Oh well.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It’s not my job here to educate you, nor be giving you a lecture. I’m not getting paid for it. I was only extending you courtesy by participating in this conversation for as long as it was feasible.

    Once I realized that you’re more interested about spouting your cherished views rather than consider, and deal with, a number of points I raised against any oversimplistic and reductive account – be it biological or genetic determinism or what else have you – that was the end of the line.

    No hard feelings.

  • Franco

    142 – NotYourDaddy

    You make it difficult to tell whom you’re addressing when you can’t seem to tell us apart. But the old “I wasn’t talking to you” dodge works pretty well for third graders, so why shouldn’t it work for you?

    I see you‘re still getting called to the mat for this trick roger. Leopards never do change there spots.

  • Franco

    144 – NotYourDaddy
    Roger, I didn’t ask for your help, and certainly don’t need it. I just was under the impression that you could hold up your end of a rational conversation about a topic on which you seem to have an opinion. Oh well.

    145 – roger nowosielski
    It’s not my job here to educate you, nor be giving you a lecture. I’m not getting paid for it.

    Capitalism, Free Markets, and Property Rights all rolled into one. You the man Rodger!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    No, you’re the man, Franco. I was hoping you were going to chip in.

    Now you can have a delightful conversation with your sugar daddy.

    Carry on!

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    I think there is something to be said for these off-the-cuff theories on human genetic predispositions as well as these high quality discussions on the extinction of hunter-gatherers and the psychology of human children. It has really advanced my thinking. I just figured out that checking information out is just a waste of time when developing ideas. Confabulation, being what we are best at, is all we need to understand the world.

    Further, I would like to say thanks for the exposure to this sophisticated discussion of human biology. It has helped me reach the conclusion that I am allergic to right-wing libertarians. I am now convinced it is genetic. I’m thinking it is nature’s way of advancement of the species. At some point some of us become nauseated by others of us and finally unable to interact with those others. As more an more of those members of the evolutionary ‘test’ group develop this allergic reaction, the numbers of the others begin to fade. I think this is how we must have moved along through the ages.

    Thanks for all the insights guys. I am much obliged.

  • Jackson

    Roger:

    Do you also have different truths for the different people you address?

    It would seem to me that if your response were true, it would remain true regardless who picked it up.

    Or is truth relative?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Cindy, I’ve seldom seen sarcasm used so deftly and to such great effect. Kudos.

    (And… ouch!)

    :-)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Of course, Jackson. Truth is a relational concept, a matter of coming to an agreement. Otherwise, when taken as an absolute kind of thing – accessible to all minds, large or small – it’s a useless concept from the pragmatic, practical standpoint.

    Haven’t you heard the expression “You can’t handle the truth”?

  • Jackson

    STM observed:

    “Of course, the other real reason we might have a post-American era in the short term is that Americans have lost sight of what they do best: making (or growing) stuff and selling it.”

    The real worth of money is created by successful production. As America slid into democratic socialism it eschewed production in favor of services which really do nothing other than redistribute money that has already been created by earlier producers. As its balance of trade turned into a negative cash flow, it made up the difference by way of inflation and the consequential devaluation of the dollar. Thanks to its control of the IMF it managed cover its balance of trade deficits with cheap dollars. China and the rest of the world seem to have awakened to the scam and are calling for a new international reserve currency.

    That is the bell signalling the beginning of the Post-American era.

    Unless, of course, America decides to throw off the shackles of socialism and get back to what she does best.

    I think that was NYD’s point.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Yes, Cindy had outdone herself.

  • Jackson

    Roger:

    What can be more pragmatic and practical than the Aristotelian tenet “The true cannot contradict the true”?

    The observation “You can’t handle the truth” is a judgment aimed at the individual confronted with the true, not the truth implicated. As it should always be, if applicable.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It would seem that STM had made quite a valid point about the efficacy of “social democracy” in Australia. I would suppose, however, that your rather impersonal form of address – again, re-read my #152! – is directed at him.

    I suggest it’s better strategy to address the person directly. That’s what dialog is all about, one-on-one, rather than pontificating ex cathedra.

    Of course, you don’t have to take it.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    You fail to consider the realities. Aristotle wrote for posterity and his work will remain so. I don’t use these thread for this purpose. I want to win you over, not to pound things into you before your time.

    Consider the pragmatics of human communication. In fact, consider your own life experiences.

    Need I say more?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    What can be more pragmatic and practical than the Aristotelian tenet “The true cannot contradict the true”?

    Ah, Aristotle. That interesting old fruitbat.

    He’d evidently never heard of that fascinating creature called the paradox.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’m not certain of that, Dreadful, unless you’re being ironic. Surely Zeno belonged to the pre-Socratics.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’m surprised, though, at your breath of exposure – philosophy, literature, common sense – especially since you’re only thirty-some.

    Granted, you never speak of your formal education – and why should anyone? – but you’re surely not just self-learned.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    To enhance on #159, of course Aristotle wasn’t as attuned to the the complexities of the paradox and the possibilities inherent therein as Plato was. He was, by and large a “naturalistic philosopher” whereby Plato, by this rather crude comparison, was more of a “mystic.”

    Hence the two main schools of philosophical thought. And it hasn’t changed much since.

    As Karl Popper once observed, all philosophy is but a footnote to Plato. (And one might include here Aristitle as well.)

    There’s a good reason for this simple ommision. Plato was Popper’s mortal “enemy combatant” – The Open Society and its Enemies. Aristotle was not.)

  • Jackson

    Without the loquation, Aristotle was a realist while Plato was an idealist. As you note, the difference continues today. That said, what sort of a pragmatic system can one develop relying upon a world of paradox?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Try Foucault.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Died and Went to Heaven

    151 (& 154),

    What sarcasm?

    :-)

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    oooops…

  • http://notyourdaddy.wordpress.com/ NotYourDaddy

    #163: Try Foucault.
    Léon or Michel? ;)

    Foucault was a mixed bag, to be sure. How can one be both a Marxist and a Nietzchean? — There’s a paradox right there! — But not really. If you take the progression of his thought into account. At the end of his life he declared himself a Nietzchean, but no longer referred to himself as a Marxist. To his credit, his conintual reexamination of his ideas eventually led him beyond that phase.

  • Jackson

    A distinct advantage of living in a philosophy of paradox is that one neatly avoids that pesky requirement of logic for consistency.

  • James G

    Arch Conservitive has pointed out that under capitalism people do not have a right to hold a job.He has correctly pointed out that that the individual must earn the right to work through skill and or effort.We must also keep in mind that even if a person is skilled and willing to sacrifice for a job,he or she is still not entitled to a job,if the potential employer is not willing to hier help for what ever reason.When we consider the fact that individuals do not have a right to employment,and then take into account the fact that capitalism has created a situation in which a large percentage of the population can not live without a job,it is then impossible to not see the one of the great fallacies of capitalism.The average individual living under capitalism does not even have a right to life ! Yet capitalists swear that capitalism is essentialy one and the same as freedom.The fact of the matter is this;without the right to live,”regardless of whether or not you are needed or wanted by the ownership class”you are not free !

  • http://notyourdaddy.wordpress.com/ NotYourDaddy

    This is a fallacious argument. What you are ignoring is that employers need employees as much as employees need jobs. That makes hiring an at will transaction between an employer who needs someone capable of doing a particular job, and an employee who can do that job, who needs employment.

    Of course a person doesn’t have a right to any particular job. If there’s someone else who can do it better, or is willing to do the same work, of the same quality, for less money, the employer will naturally hire them, instead. When business is bad, the employer may have to lay off employees or risk going out of business, which would cost many other employees their jobs as well.

    Nobody has a right to have a job (especialliy if he isn’t willing to, or capable of, doing it well). But the flip side is, no employer has a right to have employees. (That would be slavery.) And an employer needs good employees every bit as much as the employee needs a job. Unless the business is so small that he can do the entire job himself, good employees are critical to success.

    An employee who is highly skilled and motivated is in great demand, and employers will compete for his services. If an employee doesn’t like the terms of employment with a particular emplolyer, he is free to not take the job. There are plenty of other employersout there. If the employer feels that employee would benefit his business more than another employee, he will offer him better compensation. It’s a mutually beneficial, at-will arrangement. If either party doesn’t like the terms, they are not compelled to participate.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    NYD,

    Why should I have to play that game to begin with–the employer, employee game? By your rules I need a job. By my rules I don’t need a job, I need land to grow food and have a home so I can live the way I want to live, free of you and your rules.

    So, this employer/employee thing, what is the reason for forcing me to go along with that? If I can be forced into be in a position where someone can claim that I ‘need’ a job, who does that situation benefit? Is that in the interest of my freedom and liberty? How am I free and liberated if I don’t want to be a part of your game?

    In other words, whose interest is benefited by stealing the land that would make me free and then telling me that I ‘need’ a job?

    (That is how slavery is accomplished while everyone is crowing about how free they are. Someone has very effectively pulled the wool over your eyes. You don’t see you have been convinced that slavery is liberty.)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    And that’s a paradox, Jackson.

  • http://notyourdaddy.wordpress.com/ NotYourDaddy

    Cindy, I don’t say you need a job. Do what you want. It’s nothing to me. Just don’t ask me to support you.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    173 –

    I’m not sure you are getting the larger point NYD. I’m talking in a collective sense. The ‘me’ that is everywoman. Not me personally. Get it?

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Of course you get it. You are sidestepping the point.

  • http://notyourdaddy.wordpress.com/ NotYourDaddy

    Cindy, I don’t believe in the “collective sense.” I believe in individuals. I am an individual. You are an individual. Yes, there are characteristics by which people can be collectively classified. But so what? IMO, every individual should be dealt with as an individual, on their own merits, and should take full responsibility for themselves.

    I don’t owe you anything. I don’t owe “everywoman” anything. Nobody owes me anything. Your on your own, baby. Deal with it.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    holy fucking shit!!! my head will explode if i read anything more of this stupidity!!!! how can you be so dense????

    it is grammar, as in the ‘collective you’ (which means all of you as opposed to you in particular).

    by the collective me, I am using a device where I am speaking for ‘the worker’ in general.

    how fucking stupid can a person be??????

  • Jackson

    Roger:

    There’s no paradox involved. Cindy simply assumed her own conclusion.

    Her complaint was that IF the land were free, she would not have to engage in employment to acquire the means to acquire the land that had somehow been stolen from her. I can only comprehend that in terms of an assumed underlying collective right to the land which is apparently a birthright.

    We have simply gone full circle in our dispute as to whether there is a right to private property.

  • http://notyourdaddy.wordpress.com/ NotYourDaddy

    #176: “it is grammar, as in the ‘collective you’ (which means all of you as opposed to you in particular).”

    Yes, I’m aware of the usage of the plural form in grammar. What does that have to do with anybody’s “collective rights”?

    You assume “everywoman” wants to live off the land without owning it. That’s a fiction. There are individuals, such as yourself, who have that fantasy. Most individuals have other aspirations. You’re simply ascribing your own desires to an imaginary group of hypothetical people just like you, who have the same desires and the same imaginary rights to which you feel entitled.

    Go ahead and imagine yourself as part of some collective group of victims, and blame the rest of the world for your collective victimhood. That’s fine with me. — As long as you don’t demand that the government extort from me what I have earned to support you in your fantasy that the world owes you something.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    NYD,

    You don’t seem familiar with how the poor live throughout the world and including in this country. Nor with the USA’s attempts to privatize the common lands throughout all of Latin America for Capitalist domination. Nor with other cultures with more egalitarian practices. Nor with the fact that homelessness is a result of not having land use. You analyze the world as if everyone were a white American male. You don’t seem to be capable of even imagining that another pov can exist. You even killed off all the hunter-gatherers earlier. So, it seems, you are limited in your ability to comprehend because the world starts and ends with you.

    Maybe that is why you fail to recognize the point. The point is, how can you be for liberty and freedom, if you only support my liberty and freedom to live the way you chose, not the way I choose. Jackson is likely a person I disagree with. However, it seems s/he understands the point.

    Each person should have the freedom to define her/his own way of life as a birthright. If this is not so, then people are not free. You are not free and I am not free. Being forced to live according to what some rich dead guys wrote years ago is what you have agreed to call liberty and freedom. It is not the only scenario imaginable. It is not what I call liberty and freedom. You do not stand for liberty and freedom. You support a govt that uses laws to force me to live the way you choose. Just like all right-wing so-called ‘liberty’ people do.

    That should be clear enough.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I wish it were so simple, Cindy. Unfortunately, most Americans still believe in “the American way,” be they black, red, or yellow. The dollar is King and that hasn’t changed for most of us.

    Fortunately, there are different cultural enclaves. And it’s these differentiated cultures that offer to a great many of us a kind of refuge. Of course, these cultures also render its members “dysfunctional” (with respect to being able to attain American ideals.) A mixed blessing, really.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    They can be for ‘the American way’ if they want. They really should shut up though re the BS liberty and freedom propaganda.

    They have had the notion USA way of life = liberty and freedom drummed into their heads since they could talk. They often can’t think outside that box.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    But I’m talking about poor, innocent people, Cindy. They’ve been indoctrinated and they’re uneducated. There really know no better.

    That’s the crime of it all.

  • http://notyourdaddy.wordpress.com/ NotYourDaddy

    Cindy, I would wager that I have traveled the world a bit more than you have. I’ve traveled on four continents. I’ve seen many cultures up close, and studied many forms of governemnt. I also lived in a ghetto in NYC thirty years ago, and I’ve seen poverty up close. I went so far as to allow homeless people to sleep in my living room back then.

    You are making a lot of assumptions about how other people live in other places, as well as about the reasons for poverty and homelessness in this country. You seem to be locked in your own imagination, projecting your perspectives on the rest of the world.

    I’ve gone out in the world and experienced these things for myself, not in my imagination, but in reality. I suggest you try that sometime. It might broaden your perspectives.

    Cindy: Each person should have the freedom to define her/his own way of life as a birthright.

    How about people who choose to live by stealing from others, or who think it’s OK to rape, assault, or kill people? Do they have a “birthright” to live the way they want?

    I support your right to live however you want, as long as you don’t infringe on the rights of other people. If that’s not enough liberty for you, tough. Other people have the right to choose their way of life, also. Even if they choose to earn a living.

  • Jackson

    The demise of the hunter-gatherer system of social existence came about long before the appearance of capitalism. As soon as agriculture was discovered, the inefficiencies of hunter gathering doomed it as nothing but a last ditch survival technique.

    Under the hunter-gatherer system, the high plains supported bands of unsophisticated primitives not much removed from the cavemen and in many instances not much removed from coyotes. Those same high plains devoted to agriculture support a 1/4 of the world.

    The vast forests from the Atlantic to the Great Lakes supported nothing. Cleared and rendered arable, they support a nation.

    All a matter of what works.

    It would really be great for the poor of the world if we sent out notice that the U.S. would not export food but they were free to support themselves by hunting and gathering.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Good grief, Jackson, you sound exactly like the worst kind of 19th century industrialist. Exactly like one.

    The high plains and the North American forests before the arrival of European settlers did not, indeed, support a quarter of the world’s population – because they were not needed to support them.

    It was massive agriculturalisation and industrialisation of the kind that took place in North America which allowed the global human population to expand to its present numbers.

    All a matter of what works.

    As I’ve explained before, the hunter-gatherer system works perfectly well – if a population does not become too large to support it.

    And we’re seeing with our own eyes today that a large population does not necessarily benefit the species.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I shouldn’t have resurrected the two. I had hopes for Jackson, but I realize now I was wrong. So in accord with proverbial wisdom, ;et sleeping dogs lie.

    No mas.

  • Jackson

    The economic message that has become remarkably clear and which was the topic of NYD’s article is that industrialization works for the greatest number and delivers the greatest efficiency. So I am an industrialist.

    The dreamers on the other hand propose a return to hunting and gathering with a wildlife population that will not support the meager caveman societies that our pre-agricultural lands would. It would of course be nice if we still lived in the Garden of Eden but alas that is not the case.

    Yes, you could employ death camps, ration health care, impose abortion, whatever, but I have to ask what is going to be the standard for deciding who survives?

  • http://notyourdaddy.wordpress.com/ NotYourDaddy

    Dr. Dreadful: “It was massive agriculturalisation and industrialisation of the kind that took place in North America which allowed the global human population to expand to its present numbers.”

    Not to mention modern medicine, which cures and/or prevents the virulent diseases that used to thin the herd, reduces the infant mortality rate, and prolongs life through organ transplants, chemotherapy, defibrilators, etc. I suppose you’d prefer such things had never been invented.

    I alwasy wonder why liberals like to refer to themselves as “progressives,” when so many of them are so opposed to progress.

    Roger, the ability to concede with grace is a mark of a true gentleman.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Jackson, NYD:

    I never expressed any preference to return to hunter-gatherer systems or to uninvent modern medicine (which is a byproduct of industrialization).

    My main objection was to Jackson’s neo-Victorian “Thank God we cut down all the forests and ploughed all the prairies, because the native Americans were wasting them”.

    Why do you assume the lands were theirs to waste?

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    NYD,

    How about people who choose to live by stealing from others, or who think it’s OK to rape, assault, or kill people? Do they have a “birthright” to live the way they want?

    See, you DO get it! That is what I said.

    1) Owning the earth is stealing from others.

    2) One in three female soldiers is raped in the US military by male US soldiers. That is the US govt figure.

    3) The US is busily recruiting children to become murderers and consider it some sort of honor. They teach children murder is fun, like a game. The US is currently murdering people all over the world. It has also always achieved domination through murder of innocent civilians. See, John Stockwell, ex-cia, who was in a top level position in several wars against civilians perpetrated by the cia.

    See? We agree after all NYD! The US govt is a criminal organization. It creates rapists, murderers and thieves. It trains people to be stupid, so they’ll accept the status quo.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    But I’m talking about poor, innocent people, Cindy. They’ve been indoctrinated and they’re uneducated. There really know no better. That’s the crime of it all.

    Everyone is indoctrinated in a culture, Roger. Being educated may be as big or a bigger problem than not. You seem to be still stuck on that (indoctrinated) view that the education offered in this culture is the means by which people are freed.

    The last class I took in 2007, the professor did not know how to reach his indoctrinated students. He experimented with class structure to try to create a transformational experience. He still had only minimal success.

    Again, let me bring up the Argentina worker-run factory movement. The males of that culture, especially at lowest income levels, might be expected to value machismo. Yet there they are forming egalitarian communities side by side with women (who help educate them in such).

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    I don’t think anyone suggested we return to hunter-gatherer society. Egads! How would we run the IMAX?

    I have no problem with an industrial society, Jackson. I like technology.

  • blaziermissy

    The lamest excuse for blogging I’ve ever seen. All of it only examines our problems inside of the box of media appointed ideology.