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Health Care Bill Spawns the War Cry: “I Am Not a Child!”

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In his article, “Barack isn’t my Daddy," Erik Telford’s lack of understanding of the health care bill is significant. As if to simultaneously refute and insist upon his physiological status as an adult (the prefrontal and temporal cortices are still maturing well into one’s 20s), the 25-year-old Telford takes issue with the bill’s use of the word “child”; limits his ageist issues with the bill to those in his age group; misinterprets a passage such that he thinks the government will “force my parents” to do something they will not be forced to do; and uses a 113-year-old legislative failure as the cornerstone of this misinterpretation.

The bill uses the word “child” to reference the offspring of a parent(s). It says, to paraphrase, that insurance companies will, if the parent(s) sees fit, insure his/her child up to age 26. The “force” is on the insurance companies, not on the parents who have policies with insurance companies. Nonetheless, in Telford’s mind this is tantamount to Indiana’s unsuccessful 1897 legislative attempt to define the exact value of Pi as 3.2, even though the health care bill’s use of the word “child” is not used to define people under the age of 26 – now or in the future – as stripped of all rights and responsibilities previously enjoyed by those over the ages of 18 and 21.

The bill addresses the reality of a substantial lack. In the past it was reasonable to assume one would leave high school or college and find gainful employment that, after a period of time, would include health insurance. Such has not been the case for a significant portion of the population for several years now as more and more insurance companies have sought and found ways out of insuring those they considered to be high risk individuals; among them: those fresh from high school or college.

While no reasonable person would suggest the use of the word “child” in the bill’s context is a sneaky way of legislating that those under the age of 26 are now children in the most elementary sense of the word, Telford does. The bill also addresses the elderly by age, but Telford does not address this nor does he call Obama out for possibly redefining the elderly as, oh I don’t know, middle-aged?

The bill’s force on insurance companies (to insure those whose health and well being they previously balked at) recognizes and addresses the needs of those groups most often on the receiving end of the insurance industry’s relentless ass-poundings. That Telford mentions only those parts of the bill that he thinks screw him over is cause to believe his opinions were reached with a very limited understanding of the bill based solely on his own interests. The logic he uses to the exclusion of others and to define his supposed dilemma reminds me of so many articles out of the Middle East that talk about "the people," as if most or all of the population were being referenced, when in reality the articles are only talking adults of one gender.

If anyone is to concur that referencing the offspring of a parent as a “child” is an affront, surely then we ought to address the inequity of the Constitution wherein one is not considered adult enough to run for President until one is 35 years of age. Good on you, Telford, for knowing more about Indiana’s history than a lot of people, but there might be a dunce cap with your name on it for not using a constitutional tidbit that keeps you in the cradle for 10 more years as part of your argument that Obama is saying you’re a child for another 365 days.

To a much lesser degree there is the ageist assault on our youth by the rental car industry, as they will not rent to anyone under the age of 25. Could it be that Telford had never tried to rent a car before he turned 25 and doesn’t know they saw him as a child – or was he turned away but accepting of their discrimination?

It’s safe to say Telford’s call to arms is nothing more than an objection to anything Obama, evidenced by his limited experience with and understanding of the world. I’d like to hear what Telford has to say about 25-year-olds in 2050 when he’s 65 years old – assuming he isn’t already dead from a condition no one would treat because no one would insure him.

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About Diana Hartman

Diana is a USMC (ret.) spouse, mother of three and a Wichita, Kansas native. She is back in the United States after 10 years in Germany. She is a contributing author to Holiday Writes. She hates liver & motivational speakers. She loves science & naps.
  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I’m amused by the little poll which appears in the sidebar of the article, asking if readers think Obama’s decision to open up offshore drilling goes too far or not far enough. ‘Too far’ is not one of the available answers.

    But there’s the Washington Times for you.

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

    Great article, Diana.

    I guess our your man must have some backing to be featured on the op-ed pages of the Washington Times.

  • Mark Schannon

    Diana, well done, indeed. It’s incredible the gyrations people are going through to turn a fairly innocuous piece of legislation into the end of democracy & beginning of fascist socialism.

    In Jameson Veritas

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

    I guess our your man must have some backing to be featured on the op-ed pages of the Washington Times.

    The potted bio at the bottom of Telford’s article says he’s a strategist for Americans for Prosperity, an organization with the stated aim of ejecting from office every member of Congress who voted for the healthcare bill. Which makes him a darling of the right and, by extension, the Washington Times.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Americans for Prosperity is funded by the petrochemical billionaire Koch family. It started as a “grass roots” organization opposing “global warming alarmists.” In other words, astroturfers.

  • Baronius

    Telford is wrong on some things, but he’s right that the measure “goads…youth to dependency”. We’ve become content with the failure of our educational system and the necessity of a college degree. It’s easier to treat people as children for a few more years than to educate them in high school, or even to expect them to work their way through college. We’re limiting people’s wealth-building years.

  • Arch Conservative

    26? why stop there? Why not 36? This part of the bill reminds me of the old TOYS R US commericals ………….

    “I don’t wanna grow up………..””

    Liberals have an uncanny knack for demonstrating how little they expect of people and nothing demonstrates it more than this part of the law.

  • Les Slater

    Arch -7

    ’26? Why stop there? Why not 36?’

    Good question, and why should healthcare have anything to do with parents?

    We do not need any healthcare insurance, we need healthcare, period. The insurance companies are nothing but a bunch of leaches, totally parasitic.

    Healthcare should be a right, from cradle to grave.

  • Arch Conservative

    Hey Les why don’t you go to medical school, rack up hundreds of thousands in debt, then provide my children, who aren’t born yet, free health care for their entire lives.

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

    education should also be free…

  • Les Slater

    All those who seriously qualify for medical school should be able to go without any costs to them as individuals or of their family. Only those who show progress to becoming a competent doctor should have med school funding continued.

    Those that rack up those hundreds of thousand of dollars in obligations from studen loans belong in the same category as the insurance companies, totally parasitic leaches.

  • Baronius

    If Les is here, does that mean that the left can finally stop claiming that “Obamacare isn’t socialism”?

  • Les Slater

    Only fools think ‘Obamacare’ has anything to do with socialism.

  • Clavos

    Only fools think obamacare has anything to do with health care.

  • Les Slater

    Clav -14

    It does, at least tangentially. It’s certainly not what’s needed by the majority of the population. It’s part of an attack on our standard of living.

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

    Hi, stranger.

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

    Baronius (#12),

    If part of socialism means eliminating the parasites – like the insurance companies and the like, to include most Wall Street firms which can do no better than making money out of money rather than contribute to the productive capacity of the nation – then I’m all for it.

    And so should you!

  • Les Slater

    Hi Roger. Your 17 generally makes sense but it can’t be restricted to any one nation. It needs to be the whole world. We don’t need national socialism.

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

    Exactly. We are entering a new era. Down the line, I see nation-states disappearing.

    I’ll post in an hour or so. Sure glad you’re back.

  • Anonymonkey

    “Hey Les why don’t you go to medical school, rack up hundreds of thousands in debt, then provide my children, who aren’t born yet, free health care for their entire lives.”

    Where on earth did you come up with the notion that doctors are now going to have to work for free? Oh right, you made it up, because there is no lie you won’t say to win your argument.

    Well why stop there? You know Obamacare actually forces doctors to donate there own kidneys to their patients. Its not true, but I can imagine it, so we should all treat it like a legitimate argument, and FREAK OUT!

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Hi Les. Long time no see.

    We don’t need national socialism.

    I don’t know if it will be national socialism, but it sure is statist corporatism that you are getting. And there will be teeth in the fascist state slowly evolving in America. This is pulled from Infowars.com, but there is very little commentary to it. It mostly recites a section of the new law enacted – the one dealing with how Obama gets to impose military solutions while going around the military.

    If you read Italian history, you’ll see that fascism there was not imposed overnight. Apparently, Mussolini intinctively understood the concepts later crystallized by Saul Alinsky, concepts now followed by the sitting “president” of the United States.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    It’s incredible the gyrations people are going through to turn a fairly innocuous piece of legislation into the end of democracy & beginning of fascist socialism.

    No gyrations in the information I provide, Mark. I have the same ability to “gyrate” as you. Just a straight reading of the law – and a little understanding about how a crooked mind works….

    in nagánes ligt dem émess!
    (in grenades lie the truth)

  • Mark

    (Ruvy, the public health ‘Ready Reserve’ has been in existence in law at least since Johnson.)

  • Jordan Richardson

    Ruvy, is there any crackpot theory you won’t give oxygen to in order to support your bizarre visions for the future of America?

    You’re right, there are problems in the United States. But there are problems everywhere and new solutions must be explored in order to solve these new problems. America is just one in a long line of nations evolving through interesting times, but it is not knocking on deaths’ door nor is it on its way to becoming a “fascist state” with a slow process.

    Nearly everyone here dismisses your repetitive rambling as just that, which is unfortunate because I think you actually believe these theories and these ideas of yours. But I also think you pull them together based on negligible evidence, outdated theories and nonexistent political ideologies.

    Roger understands the need for new solutions in a changing world. It’s too bad you’re still stuck conjuring visions of Mussolini and devils with pitchforks.

  • MilkandCoffee

    Telford’s article makes me nostalgic for death panels.

    This is how the Republicans plan to win back the youth vote in November?

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Mark,

    I know how to read law, and realize that the “ready reserve” has been around for a long time – it was implicit in the wording or the legislation. It’s the beefing up of this ready reserve and the way it is accomplished that is worth noting.

  • Bluestocking

    I think the trouble with the references on both sides to “our standard of living” is the fact that that the definition which many Americans seem to have these days of a “good life” is actually rather grandiose to the point that a majority of people are overspending their income to acquire it — while consuming a disproportionate share of the world’s resources and producing a disproportionate amount of waste. A lot of the squabble over some of the changes being proposed comes from the fact that many people have become accustomed to this kind of lifestyle and don’t want to make any changes (even though many are being forced to by the current economic crisis), and others who don’t have it fear possibly being denied their chance to experience it. It seems to me that an overwhelming majority of Americans on both sides and at all levels have a somewhat overblown sense of entitlement and yet there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that they’re still not happy. Perhaps we might be better off as a country if we took a step back, took a good look at our expectations, and made an effort to be content and grateful for what we have instead of always asking for more.

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

    With the present system, Anonymonkey, some of them claim they’re working for free.

    I say, nationalize healthcare, get rid of the middle man, put them on salaries.

    Military hospitals can serve as a model. Anyways, you’re not supposed to go into medicine just because you want to get rich; there are better suited professions for that – like a stockbroker for Morgan and Stanley.

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

    “Perhaps we might be better off as a country if we took a step back, took a good look at our expectations, and made an effort to be content and grateful for what we have instead of always asking for more.”

    That’s going to take some doing. We haven’t fallen yet on the hard times. But don’t you worry, the reality is knocking on the door. Perhaps then and only then we’ll come to realize we’re no better than the rest.

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

    Anyways, Les, I’m inviting you to our little seminar – Cindy, Mark (Eden) and myself.

    Here’s the site.

  • Captain_Apathy

    “…is cause to believe his opinions were reached with a very limited understanding[…]based solely on his own interests…”

    In other words, the entire conservative movement of the past 40+ years?

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

    Touche!

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

    #20 – That is hilarious!

  • Les Slater

    I tend to favor Ruvy’s rather than Jordan’s interpretation of reality. I don’t agree with much of the particulars that Ruvy presents but you got to give him credit for understanding we are in a deep and dangerous crisis. Part of the problem is even though most of us are not resposible for this crisis it is those who are responsible that are providing varying false explanations for the crisis and even a denial of its existance.

  • Les Slater

    Bluestocking,

    “A lot of the squabble over some of the changes being proposed comes from the fact that many people have become accustomed to this kind of lifestyle and don’t want to make any changes (even though many are being forced to by the current economic crisis)…”

    Why should those that produced the wealth that the wealthy have squandered, essentiall destroyed, be the ones that have to lower their expectations? We really aren’t asking for much. Housing, food, healthcare, education and retirement should be a right.

  • Quill2006

    Telford’s argument is ridiculous. He will always be the child of his parents, even after he ceases to be a child in terms of age. He’s using the fact that the word means two similar but different things to complain about being given health care through his parents’plan. Poor him.

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

    Exactly. I also get the impression that Telford knows this perfectly well. It’s the basest kind of political dishonesty.

  • Katharine

    Dude, Teabaggers are totally children.

    They act like them.

    One of them smeared goose shit on the side of my car; tell me that’s not similar to acting like a 13-year-old.

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

    Did Jordan deny we’re in the midst of crisis – decision time? But Ruvy’s portrayal is always in apocalyptic terms, signaling the end of times.

    I’m not ready as yet for the Messianic times. The human race will survive and rebuilt itself from the ashes, and history will set us aright.

    In any case, opportunity is the other side of the coin; ergo, crisis is better than stagnation.

  • Katharine

    By the way, I’m 21, and clearly I act more mature than this Telford freak.

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

    Katharine, that’s just basic mob psychology.

    There is a very perceptive saying that the collective IQ of a mob is in inverse proportion to the number of its members.

    Put enough people together in a crowd, give them something to be angry about, and some of them will start acting like idiots.

  • Katharine

    Actually, when I got goose shit smeared on the side of my car, it was in a parking garage. I don’t think there were any hordes of Teabaggers in there.

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

    Then how do you know it was them?

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

    Welcome Quill2006 and Katharine, fresh voices of reason.

  • Baronius

    Never mind that; how did you know it was goose?

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

    “Why should those that produced the wealth that the wealthy have squandered, essentiall destroyed, be the ones that have to lower their expectations?”

    What Les is referring to, Bluestocking, are the minimum wage workers – the true philantrophists in corporate America.

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

    Goose shit?

    That’s a rarity in most parts, even more so than goose pâté.

  • Katharine

    Goose shit has a certain consistency.

    Also, I have a handful of bumper stickers on my car that are quite explicitly liberal.

    Also, the goose shit was smeared in such a way that a goose could not have possibly flown into the parking garage and just deposited it on the door like that.

    So I conclude it was a Teabagger that smeared it on my door.

  • Les Slater

    “Did Jordan deny we’re in the midst of crisis – decision time?”

    Jordan:

    “You’re right, there are problems in the United States. But there are problems everywhere and new solutions must be explored in order to solve these new problems. America is just one in a long line of nations evolving through interesting times, but it is not knocking on deaths’ door nor is it on its way to becoming a ‘fascist state’ with a slow process.”

    Evolving? That impies things are getting better. More fundamentally they are getting worse. And worse form a deep crisis.

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

    Gottcha! But my idea of “evolving” involves tough ride and bumps – not any linear kind of progress. Perhaps his does too.

    I’m inclined to believe he would agree with you here. But Ruvy’s “analysis,” which involves application of old categories of thought, is obsolete IMO. Historical forms – such as fascism or socialism – are not sufficiently well-defined to serve as any kind of universals. Themselves they keep on getting defined and re-defined as history marches on. At the end, all you may have is family resemblance.

  • Baronius

    If you’re trying to avoid obsolete thinking, Roger, why are you talking to a Marxist?

  • Microbru

    I am 42 years old and yes, I am still my parent’s child. That doesn’t disappear upon reaching adulthood

  • Les Slater

    Obsolete thinking? Historically speaking I would define obsolete thinking as pre-Napolianic.

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

    Les is a progressive Marxist, Baronius. I’ve got to give him that.

  • Mark

    How goes party organizing, Les?

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

    It’s still historically-bound, Les.

    A similar political or economic form under different geopolitical configuration – and I believe we’re all experiencing such a shift – is a different animal. And for that reason, the old descriptions no longer apply to new and novel situations

    Anyhow, that’s how I understand the workings of history.

    Anyway,

  • Baronius

    Actually, thinking never becomes obsolete. It’s either right or wrong. We can learn from history, though, and improve our thinking, and there’s never been a set of theories more thoroughly proven wrong than those of Marxism.

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

    Thinking never does, but “old thinking” most often is.

    I’ll repeat my motto: “Go with the flow.”

  • Les Slater

    Baronius,

    “Actually, thinking never becomes obsolete.”

    I would hope not. Keep thinking.

    “It’s either right or wrong.” That’s pretty obsolete on more than one count. First, it’s simplistic, doesn’t even indicate who’s perspective it belongs to. It’s also static AND formalistic. What may have a certain truth today, may have less so tomorrow, or vis-a-versa. Objective reality never totally stands still. It’s always changing.

  • Les Slater

    And Roger,following the flow is the most dangerous prescription for anyone who thinks. We do not have control of the flow. No one does but those that use whatever force at their disposal to influence that flow, are the same ones that feed us the viewpoints on whatever they think we should believe that flow is… and they are not our friends.

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

    @ #45, 47, 48:

    Yes, goose shit is quite distinctive as avian excrement goes. It actually looks like shit, rather than guano.

    But I do think anyone who plasters their car with political bumper stickers, of whatever hue, is bound to upset a few idiots enough for them to do some stupid shit.

  • Boeke

    “…there’s never been a set of theories more thoroughly proven wrong than those of Marxism.”

    Capitalism, anyone?

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

    Or Lamarckianism. Or the ether theory of light propagation. Or the flat Earth theory. Or geocentrism. Or the four classical elements. Or the steady state theory. Or…

    …or are we just talking about political theories?

  • Les Slater

    Politics is a subset of material reality.

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

    I didn’t mean, Les, abstaining from action, only that history reveals itself and we must respond to it.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Evolving? That impies things are getting better.

    No, it doesn’t. It merely means to gradually change or develop. “Better” is subjective anyway.

    Did Jordan deny we’re in the midst of crisis – decision time?

    Absolutely not. We’re always in the midst of crisis. I just happen to think that the notion of America rolling off a cliff into the sea is a little overblown given the condition of much of the world. Call it perspective.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Objective reality never totally stands still. It’s always changing.

    Or, I don’t know, evolving?

  • Baronius

    Dread, those theories weren’t disproven at the human cost that Marxism was. You could look around and think that Lamarkianism is true, but you can’t look at the killing fields worldwide and mistake communism for something workable.

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

    Human cost is a comprehensive term.

    According to Gandhi, poverty is the worst form of violence.

  • Les Slater

    I remember a cartoon I saw many years ago. The setting was a desert island, maybe three by four meters in size. It had one palm tree roughly in the middle. There were three occupants. One had a knife in his back, presumably dying. A second was cradling him and asking: ‘Bill, who did this to you?” The third was looking away with as much of an innocent expression as he could muster.

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

    Civilization is indeed a very thin veneer. (Think of Lord of the Flies.)

    So yes, we must create conditions in which humans can thrive. I’m certain you don’t disagree.

  • zingzing

    baronius: “you can’t look at the killing fields worldwide and mistake communism for something workable.”

    try religion, baronius.

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

    I must grant it’s a tossup.

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

    I wonder, though, what Baronius thinks of the millions of lives lost during World War I and II? Would he say “nationalism” was at fault? I doubt it, because that’s the natural order of things.

    As to the religious dispute, here’s a suggestion. Let’s have the representatives of each faith (the champions) – Muslim, Christian and Jewish – fight one another till death, El Cid style, winner takes all.

    We’ve got one ready contender – the Ruvster. Angelo Dundee, where are you?

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

    Civilization is indeed a very thin veneer. (Think of Lord of the Flies.)

    What is ‘civilization’? I have heard this over and over, that civilization is a thin veneer. But so often, civilization is what I find to be brutal. So-called ‘civilized’ people being corrupted in their humanity. Much more often than the ‘uncivilized’ or so it seems.

    It also strikes me that dominators (nations/states) like to spread this impression around. The idea that people cannot survive without a govt, because all we are capable of is a ‘Lord of the Flies’ existence. We need ‘law and order’. That was William Golding’s point, I believe. Typically false rumors spread like those that concerned raping and pillaging in the stadium in New Orleans.

    Look at any crisis and then look very, very closely at the news stories that come out regarding this idea that people will automatically begin to attack each other as soon as there is no dominator around to control them. They will instantly go mad and turn into predators.

    I have followed this myth along at times during various crises. (Like the Haiti earthquake). I found speculative stories of women who were in danger of being raped. In fact, I found a lot of presumptive material in OpEds and in news stories.

    This myth is automatically presumed. It is fascinating to look for it and examine it during a crisis.

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

    Comes from “civil,” Cindy. A Greek root denoting “civic,” of the city, and therefore, in that sense, not primitive or barbarian (as Greeks thought of barbarians). Connoting politeness, form and manner. Literature and music and visual arts are part of “civilization,” human achievement.

    I don’t see why you quarrel with me. I said it’s a thin veneer.

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

    Pardon me. The root is Latin.

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

    I’m not trying to quarrel. I didn’t said civilized meant barbaric. That wouldn’t make sense.

    I said I think that we are taught to presume that people need ‘civilization’ or ‘the city’ to control them in order not to return to being animals. It is a very important thing to grasp, imo, the idea that we are indoctrinated to believe we need govt to protect us.

    Do you see what I am saying? I mean beyond thinking it’s just some quarrelsomeness?

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

    Well, Cindy, as it has started first it was a form of self-government. The city wasn’t any form of control in its original inception. Apart from it being a natural development, it also was, in the Greek rendition at least, a pinnacle of human organization (not the same as government!) And besides, my remark to Les was in kind – couched in terms of human responses in adverse situation, not in terms of politics. In short, it wasn’t any political kind of point.

    Apart from the virtues or vices of “civilization,” there’s another point at stake. I don’t particularly care for the fruits of “civilization” – arts, literature, things of that sort – to be tainted by the vagaries of politics.

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

    And besides, my remark to Les was in kind – couched in terms of human responses in adverse situation, not in terms of politics.

    Roger my comment was on the point you were making as you have said above. Let me reiterate once more. We are taught that in adversity people turn against one another. This is in the interest of power.

    I was echoing the term ‘city’ euphemistically. I was associating civilization with power. That is the actual fact of civilization historically. We have a history of domination. For me, it can’t be separated out as if the power aspect was a vagary.

    That’s fine–the way you look at it. This is the way I see it. I think you can see, if you consider it, that this fits in directly with my understanding of Foucault. I am continuing on a train of thought we have been discussing for probably 3/4 of a year. Nothing more.

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

    Civilization = culture = domination.

    I don’t necessarily subscribe to this paradigm of “power” – especially if it’s restricted to the political sense. Don’t forget, for Foucault power wasn’t a negative term strictly speaking; there are also positive aspects of power we must make use of – since “power,” as he defines it, is a fact of life.

    A more important point perhaps. You’re changing contexts on me. I can’t bring to bear the full understanding of postmodernist thought in any public forum. I have to cater my responses to individual respondents – the essence of communication.

    My response to Les was rather simple. He alluded to a cartoon which impressed him, and I concurred. So my saying “civilization is a thin veneer” was merely saying that “in adversity people turn against one another.” Mind you, I omitted “we are taught that . . . ” preamble because in fact we do, or at least most of us do. It takes exceptional people not to succumb to the self-preservation impulse.

    So unless you want to make big deal out of the fact that “we’re taught” to be adversarial in adversarial situations, we agree.

  • Baronius

    Religion has had its good and bad moments. Anything made up of humans is going to have lows. We’ve got Dante and St. Francis in one column, witch-burners in the other. What were communism’s good moments? They killed their enemies on purpuse, killed their subjects by accident. They spread poverty and environmental ruin. They were as violent and racist as the worst nationalistic society, and as unequal as the worst capitalist economy.

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

    81 – You may have missed my entire point throughout all those posts of reiteration. I’ll try a last time. If you don’t see the point this time, I will try another time. Pay closer attention to what I am saying. I am not making the point that we are taught to turn against one another.Though, I agree that effect is there. When you tell people that is what people do, you are bound to get some people actually doing that. I was making an entirely different point.

    I was disagreeing that we do turn against each other as a rule. I don’t think we do. Not in general. I think it is a myth. I think that the power (the nation) uses this myth to convince the population that we need them (the power structure) to protect us from each other, convincing us we are essentially animals who will turn against each other in adversity.

    I was suggesting that I have explored this effect in real life during crisis. I have found that, at least in part, the idea that we turn on each other in crisis, is invented on the spot from expectation. News stories and OpEds are created speculatively and presumptuously and often with utter disregard for reality.

    In New Orleans the reports supposedly from the stadium that people were raping and pillaging were essentially false. There was similar reporting from Haiti. Speculations turned into ‘facts’.

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

    Oh and as regards Haiti, I challenged one of the people who were reporting these events as facts. The wording had been changed (like in a game of telephone). The article was about the potential for women to be exposed to rape. It was assuming this to be a problem. The propagator of the story changed it to imply that women were being raped.

    Oh and one more thing:

    Civilization = culture = domination.

    I don’t necessarily subscribe to this paradigm of “power”…

    Neither do I. I wasn’t meaning it as a paradigm. I was saying it is one aspect of our civilization. I can’t simply say art and music and literature exist in some other ‘civilization’ that does not have a dominator paradigm…because there isn’t one. It’s not what we call ‘civilization’. So, I was simply focusing on one aspect of what we call civilization, while you were focusing on another. I suggested we cannot just ignore aspects we don’t like. They don’t exist without each other in history. I did not mean to imply that civilization could ONLY exist under a a power domination model. I also don’t believe that. But, I am saying that it happens to be fact that it always has (so far)–at least what we call civilization.

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

    But domination and power, in Foucault’s understanding, are fact of life, Cindy, and therefore part of parcel not just of civilizations but all forms of human organization. Remember, they’re part and parcel of human relations. So by speaking of power and domination in the ordinary sense, you’re conflating the two senses.

    As to the point you are making, I believe I alluded to the probable source of our disagreement at the end of my comment, and I quote:

    “So unless you want to make big deal out of the fact that “we’re taught” to be adversarial in adversarial situations, we agree.”

    Well, it it here then that we disagree. I’m not all that certain that “being adversarial in adversarial situations” is always and necessarily a by-product of acculturation. Not everything, I am inclined to believe, is adequately accountable in terms of socialization or acculturation – although a great many things no doubt can. There are other elements/factors at play – the biological one, for instance.

    In fact, I’m inclined to argue to the opposite effect – namely, that it’s precisely because of certain growth or maturity, or whatever, that certain individuals may become capable of overcoming their “biological instinct,” unlearn it as it were, and act in those very situations contrary to what we may regard as norm.

    Are both kinds of behavior possible in one and the same situation? Of course! Are both forms “learned” in some sense? Also true. Is one more “natural” than the other? I may not care to go there. According to Rorty, e.g., there is no such thing as “human nature” (in the teleological sense) and I’m still debating this issue.

    So where is the beef?

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

    Roger,

    I am not suggesting that anything is ALWAYS caused by one thing or another. Who cares? We’ll never know. What we can do is understand what serves a dominator’s in order to question or own behavior and ideas. That is the very practical point of what I am saying. The ‘powers that be’ are served by believing that people in crisis are out of control (need the control provided by the dominator).

    I will drop it for now. I don’t see that you are understanding my point which isn’t different, in any important way, from any other points I have made regarding my understanding of Foucault. Because you have not in the past disagreed with those other points, it is not likely you can disagree as you are doing here, yet also be comprehending.

  • Mark

    See the work of Robert Kaplan for a tangential example of Cindy’s point. He travels to the world’s trouble spots, ‘sees’ destructive anarchy everywhere and reports it as justification (or rather the necessity) of Western ‘paternalistic’ military intervention.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Isn’t this the same graduate seminar kaffeeklatsch previously residing at Bye Bye Miss American Pie?

    And Baronius, the horrors you list were the result of totalitarianism, not socialism. Scandinavia has had a rather more peaceful experience with socialism. Watered down of course.

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

    Why should I disagree with this, Mark? Naomi Klein makes the same point.

    Handy, are you uncomfortable with this discussion? Because we’re not dealing with statistics?

    Cindy, I’m preparing a response in support of your viewpoint.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Nah, I’m just messin’ with ya.

    I find your and Cindy’s exegeses amusing in theory, but I nod off in the middle of trying to read them. Sorry.

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

    It’s OK, Handy. That was one reason, BTW, why I didn’t want to engage in this discussion on this thread.

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

    Perhaps we can hold handy’s attention if you put on your fishnet stockings, Roger.

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

    (snicker)

    (gotta go to the library, I’ll look for your post later, wherever you put it)

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Men in fishnets? Bleah. You misunderestimate me, my dear.

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

    Perhaps she thought you might be enticed, if not won over, by the image – like Silas or good ole Jet.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Les (if you are even reading this thread anymore),

    This is what I get for getting off the computer for the Sabbath. Roger, like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, has led his two assistant pipers, Cindy and Mark Eden, into the black and murky inked up waters of overblown philosophers. That is where this thread is gone.

    Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble, and off we go in a purple cloud of whale manure!

    Follow them, and you’ll never be seen again – like the passengers on the Lusitania.

    Where is that lady who claims she is the virgin Mary reborn when you need her anyway! Her boy is supposed to have rise from his grave in East Talpiot in about an hour and a quarter, Jerusalem Standard Time, and she should be here singing his praises. That’s better than hearing about Foucault, et alia, any day of the week.

    Jordan Richardson likes his rose colored glasses and get pissed at anyone who suggests a different tint to reality – even piss colored….

    With such geniuses I should argue? They’re way too smart for me!

    Marxism is like stale matza, but these overblown philosophes and rose colored viewpoints of reality are like two week old rotting salami sandwiches on moldy bread.

    Feh!!

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

    Ruvy,

    You are pathetic. All you seem capable of is sneer.

    When was the last time you had original idea in your head?

    Just curious.

  • zingzing

    that mary reborn chick was pretty fascinating. she claimed to have miraculous photographs in her purse which was stolen. i wuv her.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Roger, do you really think I would share any original ideas with you?

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    zing, your forgot the miracle of the grilled cheese!

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

    OK, Cindy. In the interest of not boring people such as Handy, I posted my response on our thread.

    For all those who may or may not be interested in this rather esoteric discussion – and I wouldn’t blame you one bit – here is the site: remark #2439.

    Join at your own risk, no instant happiness guaranteed.

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

    Shoot, Ruvy. I wouldn’t hope for any such. It would mean ascribing nobility to you.

    It’s just to say that you’re plainly boring. Never mind me, because I don’t count. You’re boring plain and simple, to all and everybody alike.

  • zingzing

    ruvy, what was the name of that post? ahhha! i found it. “the miracle of fatima,” by al barger and its 1,700 comments. mmmm. time to delve into some brain damaged craziness.

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

    Not brain-damaged, zing. I don’t know enough about mind-brain identity thesis to offer such a postulate. And I doubt we ever will.

    But it’s indisputable that Ruvy is an incorrigible fanatic. By the very fact that he wants to unleash nuclear warfare earns him permanent residency in an asylum.

    End of story.

  • zingzing

    actually, roger, she claimed to have brain damage. (do a search for miracle of fatima on bc and take a look at mary reborn and her various pseudonyms.)

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Roger, you are an incorrigible fool and an ego-maniac. And to suggest that I wish to “unleash” nuclear destruction on the world is a damned lie. And you know it.

    No sane person wishes to unleash a nuclear conflict. But plenty of sane people can see the likelihood or need to use nuclear weapons in situations of extremis.

    The only situation of “extremis” you possibly could imagine is running out of booze or books filled with philosophical bullshit. Unfortunately, I can imagine others all too easily.

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

    Well, I thought you were speaking of Ruvy, which is one reason I objected.

    I wasn’t going to give the sucker a break.

    He’s going to have to earn it if he wants to be declared a cuckoo. Otherwise, no allowances of any kind apply. He’s got to be treated as a rational being, even though (we all know) he is not.

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

    Ruvy,

    You’ve been advocating this course of action against Iran, you can’t deny it now. There are your articles to prove it.

    So who is an egomaniac here (maniac is a better word), you or me?

    As to the “arrogance” factor, I plea guilty. In that department, I’ll match you anytime.

    By way of excuse, I am part Jewish, so I guess it’s in the blood; thank God, though, I have other parts, which prevent me from being totally blind.)

  • Mark

    Ruvy, insult is where you want to go; it is your clear purpose here, so why restrain yourself? Les, of all people, doesn’t need your warning —

    …the black and murky inked up waters of overblown philosophers.

    A problem for sure, but I consider myself fortunate to have been spared the drudgery of lugging around a clarity such as yours, Ruvy.

  • zingzing

    “black and murky inked up waters of overblown philosophers.”

    ruvy, in a lot of ways, your religious readings just as easily qualify.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Too bad there is a basketball game on. I feel like getting some popcorn and counting how many times the irony alarm goes off.

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

    I don’t plead it, Ruvy, only offer an excuse for my tendency towards arrogance. It seems like a national trait.

    Mediated, I’m happy to say, by non-Jewish elements.

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

    Self-hating? no way. But I detest the mainstay of Jewishness, which revolves about the idea of victimhood and the idea of chosen people destined for martyrdom. It’s sheer insanity, and I’m free of it.

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

    Perhaps it’s about time to get real drunk, Ruvy, not with cheap Manischewitz wine but good Russian vodka. Stolichnaya is what I recommend, no water added, straight up. And a schmaltz herring for an appetizer. You know the trick.

    I guarantee you a kind of catharsis; at the very least, a return to the world of the living.

  • Les Slater

    Mark,

    “Les, of all people, doesn’t need your warning –”
    “…the black and murky inked up waters of overblown philosophers.”

    I didn’t need the warning. I was thinking the same thing before Ruvy wrote it.

  • Les Slater

    Not only overblown philosophers but there is a very serious lack of historical understanding of reality here. It’s as if both right and left actually believe the propaganda that they are being fed and are propagating.

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

    But they do, of course they do.

  • Mark

    Les,

    “I didn’t need the warning. I was thinking the same thing before Ruvy wrote it.”

    I was sure you were, thus my comment.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Les,

    Nice to see your reply here. We differ on details in our points of view, but obviously not on the general shape of the problem. Or on the nature of those who obscure it.

    Unfortunately, I’ll not be on the computer much today. This is the time between holidays where I need to go to the doctor in the two hours he’s open for prescriptions I badly need – and the only bus that will get me there leaves in 20 minutes or so.

    So it’s au revoir….

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

    Happy Easter everyone, pagan or Christian alike.

    We’ll tall tomorrow, God willing.

  • Mark

    Les,

    “…there is a very serious lack of historical understanding of reality here.”

    A few examples from the thread would be instructive.

    How are your efforts at party organization going? If you remember, before you stopped commenting a few months back, you wrote that such organization was your intention. Have your efforts struck a chord with workers?

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Actually, Les, a few examples from the thread of a lack of serious historical (or hysterical) understanding would not be a bad idea.

    How are your efforts at party organization going?

    I missed reading that you were going to try to found a Menshevist Borscht Party (would Hálupches [stuffed cabbage] be a better example? At least they have meat in them)?

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Perhaps it’s about time to get real drunk, Ruvy, – not Manischewitz, blah blah blah….

    First of all, don’t insult me by suggesting I would drink garbage like Manischewitz. That is what American Jews drink. aliyá, going up to live in the Land of Israel, suggests going up in tastes in wine as well. At the very least, it suggests drinking some of the fine wines fermented here in Israel.

    Second of all, wino that I am, I need a bridge to settle down under in order to have a serious drunk – and I need a laptop to post drunken comments on BC like certain unnamed commenters do from time to time. I have neither. Wine, I have plenty of. Are you gonna buy me a bridge and a laptop?

    If not, I can do without the drunk. I prefer being sober, anyway.

  • Les Slater

    Mark, “A few examples from the thread would be instructive.”

    I’ll point to Baronius’s 82. I think this view or some variant of it is generally accepted by most on this thread. Roger’s 73, presumably in response to zingzing’s 72, “I must grant it’s a tossup” is an indication of this. And, of course, Obama being a socialist or communist can hardly be taken seriously either.

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

    Les’s example:

    #72 – zingzing

    baronius: “you can’t look at the killing fields worldwide and mistake communism for something workable.”

    try religion, baronius.

    #73 – roger nowosielski

    I must grant it’s a tossup.

    —————————-

    You’ve been too long away from the threads, Les. My response was, how shall I say? ironic, tongue in cheek … something like that, I suppose.

    You’d better build your case on more solid evidence.

    Besides, your #116 – “Not only overblown philosophers but there is a very serious lack of historical understanding of reality here” – which is in response to Ruvy’s typical anti-intellectual stance – appears to single yours truly (and Cindy, perhaps, by association).

    If it bugs you that I don’t happen to subscribe to every tenet of Marxism, chapter and verse, just say so; it would be the honest thing to do and alleviate unnecessary misunderstandings.

    And BTW, how exactly do you perceive the current crisis? You didn’t say. We may have somewhat different views here, along with great many points of agreement. I would be interested to know.

    Sorry for appearing disagreeable within a day or two of your reappearance here; I hope you won’t take offense because the truth is – I value your input.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Les,

    When I read Americans with an in-depth understanding of history, I find it to be a pleasant surprise. Heck, when I find anyone with an in-depth understanding of history, I’m pleasantly surprised.

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

    Mark (#87),

    Do you have any particular article in mind?

    The following is one link to what appears to be Kaplan’s overarching thesis.

  • Les Slater

    Roger,

    “…ironic, tongue in cheek … something like that, I suppose.”

    I don’t see the irony. You don’t seem to be too convinced either… I suppose.

    None of this is meant to be a personal attack, on you or anyone else.

    My reference to Baronius’s 82 was to elicit the question, ‘Well, what do you see wrong with 82?’. My assumption was that many would just chalk it off to me being some sort of dupe or fool.

    What do you see wrong with 82? If anything.

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

    I was only encouraging zing, Les, so as to make Baronius come into the open.

    He’s a difficult person to pin down and believe me – I’ve been trying.

    I’ll reread #82 and will respond.

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

    “What were communism’s good moments? They killed their enemies on purpose, killed their subjects by accident. They spread poverty and environmental ruin. They were as violent and racist as the worst nationalistic society, and as unequal as the worst capitalist economy.” (#82)

    Were the communists racist? Another unsubstantiated charge, especially in light of America’s history with slavery.

    Nationalistic society? As though American imperialism served as a kind of exemption.

    Well, for one thing – there’s no mention here of overthrowing the Tsarist regime. Baronius ought to have lived in the Tsarist Russia, preferably as a muzhik, to appreciate the full extent to which the vast majority of the Russian people were being oppressed.

    Have no idea what he means by “environmental ruin,” as though here in the good ole US of A we had a clean slate.

    ” . . .as unequal as the worst capitalist economy.” I really have no idea what he means by that. I suppose that the Soviet economy, or a Cuban one, was worse (for the people) than say the one in Philippines. Just fishing here.

    Will this do?

    As to my not responding to #82, I didn’t believe the comment deserved any response.

  • Les Slater

    “I suppose that the Soviet economy, or a Cuban one, was worse (for the people) than say the one in Philippines.”

    And what’s your take on that?

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

    Well, we both know the exploitative techniques of capitalist societies, whereby the workers are the ones making the greatest contribution to the economy without proper remuneration.

    And in the best possible capitalist scenario, the term is “commodification” – an extension of the commodity fetishism idea – whereby the entire citizenry is turn into a nation of mindless consumers.

  • Les Slater

    In my opinion the Russian Revolution was magnificant and a brilliant beacon for all workers and farmers of the world.

  • Les Slater

    Again, what’s your opinion of the economic benefits, or lack thereof, of a capitalist Philippines to a Cuban or Soviet system?

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

    Well, you know the extent of poverty in Philippines as well as in Mexico. It’s atrocious.

    Cuba has of course been much disadvantaged as a result of America’s economic boycott, so we can’t really tell how the material conditions would improve in the absence of such, but improve they would.

    Are the Cuban people starving? I shouldn’t think so. Do they have national healthcare and access to education? Yes they do.

    But I can’t say much about it beyond these generalities. I don’t know the details.

    Anyways, I’ll talk to you later (because of prior engagement), but please feel free to post.

    RN

  • Les Slater

    Cuba is a third world country and as you allude to, economic, as well as ideolical warefare aginst it.

    It would not have what it does have if the bearers of the Invisible Hand were allowed to run amok. It took the removal of the capitalist class to achieve this.

  • Zedd

    When people ask my mom how many children she has, she says 3. We are all in our forties. She doesn’t declare that she has not children, just adults. An offspring of a human is a child not an adult.

    PLEASE can the stupidity END NOW!!!!!!!

    Give us back America PLEASE!

  • Baronius

    Handy – Last I knew, Les was a communist, not a socialist. That’s why I wasn’t discussing the relative benefits of life in Scandanavia, but the experience of Marxist countries.

    As for my shot at the President’s health care policy, my reaction to Les saying things that Obama could have said was the same freakout that you have when the rare racist shows up at a tea party. I don’t think Obama is a socialist; he’s a statist. But it’s disturbing that he and Les demonize the same people for the same reasons.

  • Baronius

    Roger – I was thinking of the racism of Castro’s regime against the blacks, and the Soviet Union against the Ukrainians and Jews. In terms of environmental damage, the capitalist countries never did anything as bad as the damage to the Aral Sea, and that’s only one example. The inequality under communism existed everywhere that the system was tried.

    If memory serves, you didn’t know that there was poverty in the Philippines until recently. You should read up on other countries before assuming that our system has more faults than any other.

  • Baronius

    Les – Most people around here know that I’m a Catholic. If every single parish in the history of Catholicism ruined all its members’ lives, I’d have to rethink the founding principles of my faith. The fact that every experiment which started from the principles of Marx has ended in what you call totalitarianism has got to be a problem for you. You can’t even be selective in choosing evidence; you need to ignore all of it. Given that, it’s tough to see how to take your position seriously.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    I’m sure Les doesn’t look back fondly on the crimes of Stalin and Mao. [I welcome him to correct me on that if I’m wrong.]

    Militarist totalitarianism/state terror have been associated with Communist regimes [and also with other regimes], but that is surely not what Westerners espousing share-the-wealth idealism have in mind.

  • Baronius

    Handy, let me tell you about John Taylor. He was an eye surgeon in the 1700’s. He’d arrive in a town with great fanfare and line up a few surgeries (mostly for cataracts). He’d perform them, tell his patients to keep the bandages on for a week, then he’d leave town as fast as he could. He blinded most of his patients.

    It wasn’t just small-town folks who fell for Taylor’s sales pitch. George Frederick Handel’s vision was getting worse, and he’d heard about Taylor, so he arranged an operation. Taylor left Handel, the second greatest composer of his time, blind. The first greatest composer of the time, J.S. Bach, heard about Taylor, and hired him to fix his vision. Taylor not only blinded him, but killed him – Bach died of a post-operative infection.

    Did John Taylor believe he could help people? Probably not. But it doesn’t matter. At some point, whatever idealism may be behind a person’s thinking, you have to consider the results.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    I wish I could say that…opened my eyes. Alas, no.

  • Les Slater

    Baronius,

    “I don’t think Obama is a socialist; he’s a statist.”

    Regardless of what presidents have been saying about small government for some time, government power has been growing and its power becoming more concentrated.

    We deserve the smallest government that is workable. That is not what capitalism has in store for us. It’s inherent and increasing instability needs larger and larger government. None of this is good.

  • Les Slater

    “The fact that every experiment which started from the principles of Marx has ended in what you call totalitarianism has got to be a problem for you. You can’t even be selective in choosing evidence; you need to ignore all of it. Given that, it’s tough to see how to take your position seriously.”

    That’s exactly what I was hoping to flush out. I’ve addressed the rise of Stalinism more than once in the years I’ve been around BC but it’s either dismissed, ignored or forgotten. I don’t recall any serious attempts at refutation.

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

    “there was poverty in the Philippines . . .”

    the kind of poverty existing in Philippines is inexcusable.

  • Les Slater

    “I was thinking of the racism of Castro’s regime against the blacks, and the Soviet Union against the Ukrainians and Jews.”

    I have condemned many crimes of the Soviet Union including those you mention above.

    However, it is not at all true that Cuba or Castro is racist. There are problems with race in Cuba that at least some in the leadership either are not aware of or cover up. Fidel Castro is well aware of these problems and has fought to lead in the confrontation of these.

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

    “We deserve the smallest government that is workable. That is not what capitalism has in store for us. It’s inherent and increasing instability needs larger and larger government. None of this is good.”

    By virtue of this statement alone, Baronius and Les ought to be of the same mind.

    Of course this cannot be, because Baronius is going to dismiss Les’s claim that capitalism has anything to do with the growth of the government.

  • Les Slater

    One of the problems for Blacks in Cuba is that their progress from before the revolution has been so great that their support for the government is greater than the whiter of the population. One result of this is that those who have chosen to emigrate to the U.S. or other relatively wealthy countries are predominately white. The remittances that many in Cuba receive end up disproportionately distributed by skin color.

  • Les Slater

    “By virtue of this statement alone, Baronius and Les ought to be of the same mind.”

    We may be to a certain extent. I don’t see myself as fundamentally different than the majority in this country.

  • Les Slater

    Cuba has many problems. One should examin Fidel’s writings in the 80’s about what was referred to as ‘rectification of errors’.

    The aid from the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries was crucial to the initial survival of Cuba. It also came with some very unhealthy baggage which was difficult to resist.

    It was this rectification and subsequent efforts that enabled the survival of Cuba long after the fall of the Soviet Union.

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

    “I don’t see myself as fundamentally different than the majority in this country.”

    Yes, you do to the extent you don’t believe that capitalism is working. Most of the country don’t share this opinion.

  • Les Slater

    By the way, Cuba has been one of the most scathing critics of Soviet policy in the world. Starting with Che early and continuing to this day. At one point President Regan, in a letter to Gorbachev, pointed out that Fidel was a greater critic of him [Gorbachev] than he [Regan].

  • Les Slater

    “Yes, you do to the extent you don’t believe that capitalism is working. Most of the country don’t share this opinion.”

    I wouldn’t be too sure of that, not even in Baronius’s case. One doesn’t have to look too far to give rise to doubts.

  • Les Slater

    It’s more like hope, wish and prayer.

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

    Well, whatever they may or may not believe in the dark recesses of their heart, they’re not gonna come out and say it – bet on that – not until they’re gonna get hit by a ton of bricks.

  • Les Slater

    As the bricks fall, most will come out against capitalism. The question is where will they go next. Even Hitler came out against finance capitalism.

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

    A million dollar question, Les.

    Which is why I pressed you to specify your vision of the crisis. It goes beyond the economic system and affects the political one as well.

    Indeed, I do see the idea of nation-states disappearing in the near or distant future – in short, centralization of administrative powers along with decentralization of individual communities.

    And that’s the best case scenario.

  • Baronius

    Sorry if I got carried away with my example, Handy.

    The point I was trying to make was in the last line. If something goes wrong every time, you need to consider the possibility that it’s fundamentally flawed.

    Les, if Stalin were the only awful communist leader, you’d still have a lot to explain away. You’ve got to explain Mao, Castro, Beria, Pol Pot, and Kim senior and Junior all as aberrations. Then all the Eastern European thugs. Then all the ones I can’t think of off the top of my head.

  • John Wilson

    Lord Acton said “All great men are evil men”.

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

    Tito was the most “benevolent,” of them all, relatively speaking unstained. But Yougoslavia was the furthest away from the Soviet influence and could afford for that very reason a measure of experimentation (e.g., participatory democracy in the work environment) and independence.

  • Baronius

    John, I don’t necessarily agree with that quote, but it does raise an interesting point. The American system is designed to prevent the concentration of power, the creation of “great” men. Communism has always allowed the accumulation of power by the few in the name of the many. That’s part of the reason that Les’s distinction between communism and totalitarianism is unwarranted.

  • Les Slater

    How many portraits of Obama will you find in government buildings in the U.S.? How many portraits of Castro in government buildings in Cuba?

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    The American system is designed to prevent the concentration of power, the creation of “great” men.

    The American system hasn’t worked Baronius – or haven’t you deigned to notice? Your economic system is broken, kaput, and has been for quite some time. The clue to you should have been articles like “The Malling of America”. When you can travel to a shopping center in San Francisco and hardly notice the difference from a shopping center in St. Paul. power and economic control has concentrated in an obscene way. Control of politicians – who are nothing more than two bit whores on sale to the highest bidder – either follows the economic concentration – or has preceded it, allowing it to happen.

    Open your eyes and start smelling the coffee, duded.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Baronius, et al,

    When your national debt is headed towards 90% of GDP, you are in trouble. And according to the article,“The real problem is not just current deficits but where we’re heading,” Auerbach said. “We’re on a trajectory where the deficit’s going to go down a little and then go up again. And we have no solution for that.”

    No one is advocating big tax increases or spending cuts before a recovery takes hold. The problem is that deficits will not reverse even after a full recovery.

    Credit rating agency Moody’s warned last month of a possible downgrade in U.S. Treasury debt. This year, Social Security is crossing a long-feared milestone at which it is paying more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes. Study after study in the last year has raised alarms.

    That’s the sure sign of the broken economic system.

  • Baronius

    Les, that’s just silly. The fairer question is, how many Obama protesters are beaten to death by police?

    Ruvy, even if the American system tanks, it will have had 200 years more success than any People’s Republic did.

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

    Les,

    Let me change the tone of the argument somewhat. Rather than comparing the ideas of socialism and capitalism in the abstract, or the application of those ideas in our historical past versus our present, let us stick to our present. And here I will cite a passage from Richard Rorty’s Philosophy and Social Hope (bear with me now, it’s rather long):

    “At the moment there are two cultural wars being waged in the United States. The first is the one described in detail by my colleague James Davison Hunter in his comprehensive and informative Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America. This war – between the people Hunter calls ‘progressivists’ and those he calls ‘orthodox’ – is important. It will decide whether our country continues along the trajectory defined by the Bill of Rights, the Reconstruction Amendments, the building of the land-grant colleges, female suffrage, the New Deal, Brown v. Board of Education, the building of the community colleges, Lyndon Johnson’s civil rights legislation, the feminist movement, and the gay rights movement. Continuing along this trajectory, would mean that America might continue to set an example of increasing tolerance and increasing equality. But it may be that this trajectory could be continued only while Americans’ average real income continued to rise. So 1973 may have been the beginning of the end: the end both of rising economic expectations and of the political consensus that emerged from the New Deal. The future of American politics may be just a series of increasingly blatant and increasingly successful variations on the Willie Horton spots. Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here may become an increasingly plausible scenario. Unlike Hunter, I feel no need to be judicious and balanced in my attitude toward the two sides in this first sort of culture war. I see the ‘orthodox’ (the people who think that hounding gays out of the military promotes traditional family values) are the same honest, decent, blinkered, disastrous people who voted for Hitler in 1933. I see the ‘progressivists’ as defining the only America I care about.

    The second cultural war is being waged in magazines like Critical Inquiry and Salmagundi, magazines with high subscription rates and low circulation. It is between those who see modern liberal society as fatally flawed (the people handily lumped together as ‘postmodernists’) and typical left-wing Democrat professors like myself, people who see ours as a society in which technology and democratic institutions can, with luck, collaborate to increase equality and decrease suffering. This war is not very important. Despite the conservative columnists who pretend to view with alarm a vast conspiracy (encompassing both the postmodernists and the pragmatists) to politicize the humanities and corrupt the youth, this war is just a tiny little dispute within what Hunter calls the ‘progressivist’ ranks” (pp. 16-7).

    Though written in 1992, it’s just as accurate an assessment of the American society of today, only more so, and more accentuated for that matter, by the rising Tea Party movement which, in a manner of speaking, is bringing the culture wars, of the first kind, to a peak.

    Not that I agree with all of Rorty’s points – far from it – but I further submit that his appraisal of the present serves as a far better starting point for discussing different ideologies and points of view than what has been made available thus far, something to sink one’s teeth into.

    So give me your feedback please. The ball’s in your court.

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

    And BTW, in order to diffuse Ruvy’s predictable response – “You fools, you can’t discuss ideas while your financial ass is on the line, having no pot to piss in!” – let me do this very thing: diffuse it and discount it.

    So now that we have eliminated static interference, we can proceed.

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

    In the interest of the freedom of information act, comments numbered 167 through 168 have been linked to “Bye-Bye American Pie” thread for peer review.

  • Les Slater

    Roger,

    Not very impressed with Rorty, at least as presented here.

    It’s good that he sees 1973 as a turning point. I date it to 1971 but the post war economic boom was stagnating by the mid 60’s. But increasing economic wealth can also be conseratising.

    Of course the emancipation of the slaves was a very important event. It not only emancipated the slaves but registered the decisive emancipating of capitalism. Both these were quite progressive.

    It was labor in the 30’s that brought the most democracy to this country since the Civil War.

    Actually World War II was one of the most radicallizing factors. Significant resistance by Blacks in the military to segregation set the stage for momentous struggle after the war ended. The migration of Blacks from the South, proletarianizing most of them also had a major effect.

    The biggest thing what WW-II set in motion on an international scale. Many people in the colonies used the war between the two great blocs of colonial oppressors to gain national independence. The great post-war colonial revolt was on the way.

    It was actually the civil rights struggle and the colonial struggle that fueled radicallization despite the consvatising wealth increase.

    But the concept that democracy comes from increasing wealth is quite flawed.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    And BTW, in order to diffuse Ruvy’s predictable response – “You fools, you can’t discuss ideas while your financial ass is on the line, having no pot to piss in!”

    You can discount and diffuse all you wish – you can flap your gums on “ideas” all you wish. It doesn’t matter. It’s not that your financial ass is on the line and you haven’t a to to piss in – you and your financial ass are both being flushed down the toilet – and it is only a matter of time before you start shooting at each other – witness the guys who shot at helicopters trying to rescue them (or ignoring and not rescuing them) during Hurricane Katrina.

    The only “idea” worth discussing is how to survive having been flushed down the toilet – an idea all of you – particularly you, Roger – ignore.

  • Les Slater

    The very last sentence in my 170 is meant in a short term or conjuntural sense. In the very long run the level of democracy is bounded by material and cultual wealth.

  • Les Slater

    One major lesson of Katrina is the absolute failure of government on all levels, no matter what branch, political party or skin color of the individual culprits.

    The other lesson is how much worse it would have been if people did not organize themselves in the absence of and hostility of the government.

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

    I was hoping on doing away with your enlightened comment. No such luck.

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

    Les (#170),

    I’m not very impressed with Rorty either, but that’s not at stake here: he introduces the dialog as to the nature of the ideological crisis at hand, but you seem to ignore (or at least fail to address) the very issue. And that’s what I was shooting for.

    I do agree, however, with your #173m as to the need for material and cultural prosperity to maintain a level of democracy.

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

    And whatever the exigency of survival, Ruvy, your little country is in much greater straights and facing total wipe-out than this one will ever be – so you’re merely projecting, as always.

    Which isn’t to say that when WE fall it won’t be with a great bang. But by that time, Israel will be like a gnat on elephant’s ass.

  • Les Slater

    Rorty seems to be refering to a battle of ideas when he talks about cultural wars. He loosely links these to levels, and directional tendicies, of prosperity. This is an abstraction that mostly dangles in the ether. He detaches them from their living content. I don’t think his coments are valuable, or a place to start for understanding the ideological crisis at hand.

    The ideological crisis at hand mostly has to do with those in power feeling helpless to deal with a crisis in their mode of production. They have no rational answers as to why or what to do and are left with nothing but to resort to a frenzy of fear to keep us all distracted from the fact that their system is not delivering.

  • Les Slater

    I should not only refer to those in power but all that defend the supreme right of the Invisible Hand.

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

    “The ideological crisis at hand mostly has to do with those in power feeling helpless to deal with a crisis in their mode of production.”

    But the “orthodox” he speaks of – the tea partiers, let’s say – are not who are “in power,” are they now?

  • Les Slater

    Whether they know it or not, they are doing the bidding of those owning the means of production. That’s why I amended my 177 with my 178.

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

    Of course, they are. But they’re just as much victims of the same system as all those who are fully aware of its exploitative modus operandi.

    So we do have a double whammy indeed – both the victims and the “rulers” are at their wits’ end, and for different reasons, naturally.

  • Les Slater

    For different reasons but for the same ends.

  • Les Slater

    You could also say that the rulers are also victims as well as exploiters. They have no choice in the matter.

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

    “for the same ends . . .” perhaps.

    But you’re right as far as #183 goes. That’s the spirit. Now we’re getting somewhere.

  • Les Slater

    That’s the spirit? Are you talking Hegelian here? If so that’s precisely what I meant. The Invisible Hand restricting the exploiters to certain paths is part of that spirit.

  • Les Slater

    …is part of the power of that spirit.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    When your national debt is headed towards 90% of GDP, you are in trouble. And according to the article, “The real problem is not just current deficits but where we’re heading,” Auerbach said. “We’re on a trajectory where the deficit’s going to go down a little and then go up again. And we have no solution for that.”

    No one is advocating big tax increases or spending cuts before a recovery takes hold. The problem is that deficits will not reverse even after a full recovery.

    Credit rating agency Moody’s warned last month of a possible downgrade in U.S. Treasury debt. This year, Social Security is crossing a long-feared milestone at which it is paying more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes. Study after study in the last year has raised alarms.

    As if that weren’t enough, there’s more good news out of California

    You know, in the movie, 2012, Schwartzenegger is shown on a small kitchen TV reading a statement that the worst has past in California – then the house the TV is in suddenly begins to shake and sink into the San Andreas Fault along with the TV set. When you can’t even rely on a pension fund to cover you in your old age when you can know longer hustle for a dollar, that’s a sure sign of the broken economic system.

    So, the United States has two basic problems. One is sociological, with the “founding race and culture”, so to speak, heading for minority status – and becoming very insecure because of it. The second one is a broken economics system. And it makes no difference if this system has outlasted some pathetic Russian or eastern European “workers’ paradise”. An economics system has to provide for tomorrow. Otherwise, it is valueless. Yesterday is past and gone.

    At least here in the Middle East, we understand the nature of the military threat facing us. When the enemy attacks, you fight back with all you got. That, ultimately is our solution. War. We have a simple problem. It is compounded by a traitorous ruling élite, but they, like all other élites, can be killed – a minor complication that the people of Romania and northern Italy provided solutions for that we can copy.

    You Americans are facing enemies which will cause you to shoot each other – in a big way.

    And for all the jawing about this philosopher and that philosopher, you have no real solutions to get you out of your mess. More to the point, the few of you who do understand what to do are not in any position to effect that knowledge and make it palpable.

    Whether the cause for all this is religious and spiritual, which is my point of view, or not, is irrelevant. You in the States are in big trouble – and you have no savior, and no solution.

    Finís.

  • Jordan Richardson

    with the “founding race and culture”, so to speak, heading for minority status

    Sooner the better, IMO.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Ruvy: with the “founding race and culture”, so to speak, heading for minority status

    Jordan: Sooner the better, IMO.

    That is your problem, and you are welcome to it, Jordan, and all the rest of you in North-America land. Some of you will be smart and get out to Australia. Most of you won’t.

  • Les Slater

    Whites becoming a minority is not a problem. It will bring a deepening of a cultural enrichment.

  • Mark

    When productive workers occupy the board rooms of corporations and can begin making decisions about their production and the way their surpluses are distributed based on interests and values other than their ‘fiduciary responsibility’ to owners, ‘solutions’ will present themselves.

    Are you guys ready for this (necessary) ground shift in our economic dictatorship?

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    When productive workers occupy the board rooms of corporations and can begin making decisions about their production and the way their surpluses are distributed based on interests and values other than their ‘fiduciary responsibility’ to owners, ‘solutions’ will present themselves.

    That’s the basic description of socialist syndicalism, Mark.

    You know, a couple of days ago I had to go on patrol through the village (my monthly payment as a resident of Ma’ale Levona), and my partner, who was driving the patrol vehicle, was explaining to me that most countries can devote most of their economies to peaceful pursuits. In Israel, 80% of the economy is devoted to security. His comment? It is a miracle that we can maintain the high standard of living we do here.

  • Les Slater

    “It is a miracle that we can maintain the high standard of living we do here.”

    No miracle; it’s called imperialist subsidy.

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

    “Whites becoming a minority is not a problem. It will bring a deepening of a cultural enrichment.”

    It’s not a problem for you and me, Les; and it’s going to come to that sooner or later, and it’s all to the good. Meanwhile, however, it is a problem. And it cripples the political system.

    To use your terminology, it’s a problem of false consciousness, and it’s got to be dealt with.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    I’m not the only fellow talking like this, folks. At Market Watch, where I learned that the “Loonie”, the “Canuck buck” was now surpassing the dollar in value – again - I also saw an article on the five stages of decline a mighty and powerful company – or nation goes through. I’m not sure which stage you guys are in, but it is probably between 4 (grasping for salvation) and 5 (precipitous decline or death).

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

    “Are you guys ready for this (necessary) ground shift in our economic dictatorship?”

    It’s not a matter of who is ready; the economic/political system ain’t ready. It ain’t broken down enough to even consider such an option.

    I can’t understand how you or Les are even considering possible solution in the abstract without considering the situation on the ground.

    That was the point of citing from Rorty – to re-direct attention to the existing conditions and ways of dealing with them.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    No miracle; it’s called imperialist subsidy.

    Do you seriously think, Les, that your lously $2.4 billion credit chit and $600 million in aid allows this nation to run 80% of its economy on non-productive things like guards and paying soldiers? Don’t delude yourself. We have $60 billion in foreign reserves and could dump a fortune in dollars and buy Swiss francs and euros – if it suited us. It doesn’t – for now.

    I realize that $60 billion is not a lot of money. But the point is that your lousy $2.4 billion credit chit is nothing compared to it. In other words, we do not need it, and we do not need the United States.

  • Mark

    It ain’t broken down enough to even consider such an option.

    That’s debatable. At this point it seems to me to be a question of whether the ‘Public Bubble’ can carry capitalists through to another few years of profitable production that will allow their governments to subsidize an unemployed population through the next contraction keeping it under control.

    The ‘ideas’ on the ground will follow events.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Les, Rog, and Ruvy –

    Whites becoming a minority is not a problem. It will bring a deepening of a cultural enrichment.

    I mostly agree. It’s not a problem for those who are psychologically secure enough to handle being a minority. Where I differ is that it will indeed be a problem for those who are too insecure to accept and adapt to the change…

    …and as I’ve stated before, generally speaking, the more conservative one is, the less willing one is to accept and adapt to major changes, no matter how inevitable those changes may be. They will be significantly less likely to go gently into that good night of newfound minority status.

    Therein lay the real fear that drives racism and homophobia – the fear of the different, and of being forced to accept those differences.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Ruvy –

    …and we do not need the United States.

    Okay. Then give the money back. And while you’re at it, give the nukes back, too…and then, when the assembled rabble of your enemies mass at your border and you are cut off from logistical support by sea or air, you will sooner or later run too low on food, water, and military necessities.

    In other words, in any unsupported war of attrition, Israel will lose. Without logistical support from her current allies, Israel’s position is untenable, and she will perish.

    Ruvy, faith and pride are important, but to think that because of your faith you don’t need the support of allied nations in the face of Islamic extremism is every bit as ill-advised as refusing to see the doctor because you have faith that God will heal you.

    Think about that, friend. If your faith in God means you don’t need the help of other nations, then your faith in God means you don’t need a doctor, either.

  • Les Slater

    “Where I differ is that it will indeed be a problem for those who are too insecure to accept and adapt to the change…”

    The problem has nothing to do with ethnicity, language or skin color, at least as it is being presented here. It has to do with the capitalist system in economic crisis. All sorts of differences have been and will be exploited by the ruling class. It is harder, but not impossible, to use a majority as the scapegoat. It would make more sense to rile up a majority non-white against minority whites. But a more traditional scapegoat is the Jewish population. Jew-hatred runs deep and is not too far beneath the surface. This will be increasing used by the real minority, the parasitic leach class.

  • Baronius

    Ruvy, what makes you think that we BC people don’t agree? Everyone from Dave and Clavos to Glenn and Handy talk about the budget.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Les –

    I agree that the problem has nothing to do with ethnicity, language, or skin color. My point was that conservatives (regardless of color) tend to resist change…and the more radical the change, the more they will resist it.

    After all, when it comes to conservatives and liberals, which is more likely to look back to the ‘good old days’ and which is more likely to look forward to good days to come? Generally speaking, of course.

    But unfortunately, you’re right about the Jew-hatred.

  • Les Slater

    Ruvy,

    The cost to imperialism of maintaining the middle-east as a secure supply of oil is enormous. Israel is but one part of the equation, a little Ulster in a sea of Arabs. When imperialism finds Israel is more of a liability than asset you will very quickly understand the value of the imperial subsidy.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Ruvy –

    Ruvy, what makes you think that we BC people don’t agree? Everyone from Dave and Clavos to Glenn and Handy talk about the budget.

    Yeah! And we’d do just fine if everyone did exactly as I think they oughta do! So there!

  • Glenn Contrarian

    a little Ulster in a sea of Arabs

    “Whether ’tis nobler to negotiate, or to take up arms against a sea of Araby, and, by opposing, emulate them!”

  • Les Slater

    And how much do you think the value of U.S. running interference at the U.N. and the coy silence about Israel’s nuclear capabilities is worth?

  • STM

    Ruvy: “Some of you will be smart and get out to Australia.”

    Yah, come on down! The more the merrier. Just bring your own water.

  • STM

    (Beer will be accepted in lieu of that)

  • Baronius

    (I phrased #202 poorly. Glenn, thanks for the heads-up.)

    Ruvy, what makes you think that people on BC are unaware of America’s fiscal crisis? You portray yourself as a lone voice that the rest of us disagree with, but everyone from Dave and Clavos to Glenn and Handy shares your concern about the budget. I may disagree with some of their thoughts about controlling our debt, but we all recognize it as a pressing concern.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Baronius,

    Ruvy, what makes you think that people on BC are unaware of America’s fiscal crisis?

    The point is not that you agree or disagree with me – or mention the budget at all. Most of you have come around to my point of view, one expressed for nigh on four years now.

    The point is that your deficits, your national debt, your lack of ability to back your alleged “reserve” toilet paper of a currency, ought to be the NUMBER ONE issue in the Politics Section. Why? Because all the things cited above are the reason you are being flushed down history’s toilet. The cause behind the reason – the why this is all happening to such nice folks as you – may be spiritual and religious – this is my contention. But in the end, even that is not necessary to consider until you recognize, and consistently recognize the NUMBER ONE cause of economic dislocation and probable collapse of your nation.

    As you may have noticed, your budget gets nary an article in the Politics Section these days. You have all shouted yourselves hoarse on a red herring instead – “health care reform”.

    That is all bullshit. And it is about time you all recognized Obama-care for what it really is – a power grab by a fascist régime in the making.

    But, that is all piss under the bridge. My only consolation will be to read the angry articles denouncing the system by its present over-congratulatory supporters, as they finally realize they have been screwed over royally.

    For that, one must wait. It took over a year for the loudmouth former mayor of New York, Ed Koch, to finally realize what a piece of shit Obama is. I expect that it will take over a year or more for the supporters of Obama-care to realize they supported a disaster.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    STM –

    Met a couple Aussies on the plane this past Friday. They were stateside trying the transmission fluid and the motor oil – their words for American beer. I told them how good their beer was except for Foster’s, and they promptly pointed out that Foster’s was only what they let out of Oz for those who didn’t know any better…and I couldn’t help but remember how you’d said much the same a year or so ago.

  • zingzing

    alright… so god is smiting our dollar and healthcare is fascism when obama does it, but a-ok when israel does it… gotcha. doctor!

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    …and we do not need the United States.

    Okay. Then give the money back. And while you’re at it, give the nukes back, too…and then, when the assembled rabble of your enemies mass at your border and you are cut off from logistical support by sea or air, you will sooner or later run too low on food, water, and military necessities.

    Sorry, Glenn,

    Whores don’t give back money after a fuck, and you nation has used us the way a sailor uses a whore, and now you want to toss us in the garbage the way a sailor tosses a used scumbag. And you have humiliated us the way an officer humiliates whores. So, we keep the money you’ve given us, and we keep the nukes we stole from the French for screwing us over on an airplane deal in 1968.

    And, in the final analysis, it was faith in G-d that got us here, it was faith in G-d that won us our victories, and it will be faith in G-d that gives us Redemption. You may not like that, but that doesn’t interest me.

    Since you raised the issue, Glenn, let’s see what a real leader does in dealing with the bullying American imperialists, as opposed to a simpering little dog like Netanyahu, who takes insults from the shit in the White House and licks it up with joy.

    From Daniel Pipes’ blog

    As U.S.-Israel tensions climb to unfamiliar heights, they recall a prior round of tensions nearly thirty years ago, when Menachem Begin and Ronald Reagan were in charge. In contrast to Binyamin Netanyahu’s repeated apologies, Begin adopted a quite different approach.

    The sequence of events started with a statement from Syrian dictator Hafiz al-Asad that he would not make peace with Israel “even in a hundred years,” Begin responded by making the Golan Heights part of Israel, terminating the military administration that had been governing that territory from the time Israeli forces seized it from Syria in 1967. Legislation to this effect easily passed Israel’s parliament on Dec. 14, 1981.

    This move came, however, just two weeks after the signing of a U.S.-Israel Strategic Cooperation Agreement, prompting much irritation in Washington. At the initiative of Secretary of State Alexander Haig, the U.S. government suspended that just-signed agreement. One day later, on Dec. 20, Begin summoned Samuel Lewis, the U.S. ambassador in Tel Aviv, for a dressing-down.

    Yehuda Avner, a former aide to Begin, provides atmospherics and commentary on this episode at “When Washington bridled and Begin fumed.” As he retells it, “The prime minister invited Lewis to take a seat, stiffened, sat up, reached for the stack of papers on the table by his side, put them on his lap and [adopted] a face like stone and a voice like steel.” Begin began with “a thunderous recitation of the perfidies perpetrated by Syria over the decades.” He ended with what he called “a very personal and urgent message” to President Reagan (available at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs website).

    “Three times during the past six months, the U.S. Government has ‘punished’ Israel,” Begin began. He enumerated those three occasions: the destruction of the Iraqi nuclear reactor, the bombing of the PLO headquarters in Beirut, and now the Golan Heights law. Throughout this exposition, according to Avner, Lewis interjected but without success: “Not punishing you, Mr. Prime Minister, merely suspending …,” “Excuse me, Mr. Prime Minister, it was not …,” “Mr. Prime Minister, I must correct you …,” and “This is not a punishment, Mr. Prime Minister, it’s merely a suspension until …”

    Fully to vent his anger, Begin drew on a century of Zionism:

    What kind of expression is this – “punishing Israel”? Are we a vassal state of yours? Are we a banana republic? Are we youths of fourteen who, if they don’t behave properly, are slapped across the fingers? Let me tell you who this government is composed of. It is composed of people whose lives were spent in resistance, in fighting and in suffering. You will not frighten us with “punishments.” He who threatens us will find us deaf to his threats. We are only prepared to listen to rational arguments. You have no right to “punish” Israel – and I protest at the very use of this term.

    In his most stinging attack on the United States, Begin challenged American moralizing about civilian casualties during the Israeli attack on Beirut:

    You have no moral right to preach to us about civilian casualties. We have read the history of World War II and we know what happened to civilians when you took action against an enemy. We have also read the history of the Vietnam war and your phrase “body-count.”

    Referring to the U.S. decision to suspend the recently signed agreement, Begin announced that “The people of Israel has lived 3,700 years without a memorandum of understanding with America – and it will continue to live for another 3,700.” On a more mundane level, he cited Haig having stated on Reagan’s behalf that the U.S. government would purchase $200 million worth of Israeli arms and other equipment “Now you say it will not be so. This is therefore a violation of the President’s word. Is it customary? Is it proper?”

    Recalling the recent fight in the U.S. Senate over the decision to sell AWACS planes to Saudi Arabia, Begin noted that it “was accompanied by an ugly campaign of anti-Semitism.” By way of illustration, he mentioned three specifics: the slogans “Begin or Reagan?” and “We should not let the Jews determine the foreign policy of the United States,” plus aspersions that senators like Henry Jackson, Edward Kennedy, Robert Packwood, and Rudy Boschwitz “are not loyal citizens.”

    Responding to demands that the Golan Heights law be rescinded, Begin sourced the very concept of rescission to “the days of the Inquisition” and reminded Lewis that

    Our forefathers went to the stake rather than “rescind” their faith. We are not going to the stake. Thank God. We have enough strength to defend our independence and to defend our rights. … please be kind enough to inform the secretary of state that the Golan Heights Law will remain valid. There is no force on earth that can bring about its rescission.

    The session ended without Lewis responding. As Avner recounts, “Faced with this unyielding barrage, which to the ambassador seemed somewhat hyperbolic and, in part, even paranoid, he saw no point in carrying on, so he took his leave.”

    Glenn, the Children of Israel got along without you just fine for 3,700 years, and the Children of Israel will get along without you for another 3,700 years.

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

    The system is broken down, Mark, and it’s only a matter of time until all realize it. Consequently, whatever measures the governments can and will take are bound to be no better than temporary. Nor is the unemployment picture going away; it’s about to stay as a reminder and direct consequence of a system no longer functioning, a permanent structural strain.

    Sure, the solutions come and will become apparent as dictated by “events” on the ground. But I find Les’s ideological approach and mode of analysis singularly unhelpful, especially since it’s couched in the abstract, as though history was bound to proceed along some predetermined, Marx-inspired plan, culminating in a kind of telos.

    Whatever the case, there will be plenty of bumps and detours along the way. But Les’s unwillingness to discuss the existing conditions, or at least to acknowledge them as representing the starting point of analysis, is precisely what I find not only frustrating but totally unproductive.

    For better or worse, the culture war alluded to earlier has become part and parcel of our political landscape and it’s got to be dealt with and eventually resolved.

    It’s one thing to say that it’s a product of “false consciousness,” in that both the victims and the masters suffer from the same delusion, but that doesn’t write off the problem as any less real; and for the time being at least, it does incapacitate the present political system to the point that, for as long as the condition persists, political action is more or less rendered useless.

    So it’s high time to discuss the alternatives, what kind of action is possible so as to restore a sense of unity and common vision among all who are equally handicapped by the dissolution of an unworkable system, whether they’re being aware of the fact or not. But I don’t see any of this happening on this thread.

    I suppose I’ll have to wait for Cindy to get back from her business trip to be able to resume productive conversation, because you seem more intent on protecting Les from the corrupting influences of the best in postmodernist thought rather than shatter his belief that orthodox Marxist theory is represents the culmination of enlightened thought.

    I do understand you’re acting as a friend, but even friendship has its limits.

  • zingzing

    “Glenn, the Children of Israel got along without you just fine for 3,700 years, and the Children of Israel will get along without you for another 3,700 years.”

    that’s a can of worms. and if “getting along” includes nuking all your neighbors, that’s not “just fine” with most people. different world than it was 3700 years ago, ruvy. you have more playmates now.

    has anyone else noticed that whenever you copy and past these days, there’s a “for more read {url]” appended to whatever you copy? maybe it’s just a safari thing. either way, this site’s gone a little buggy recently.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    People have been saying the system is broken for as long as there have been people, and systems.

    There’s no more indication that the Cassandras here are any better forecasters than anyone else.

    But “we’ll muddle through somehow” [as likely an outcome as any other] doesn’t seem to be a popular theme for Internet bombast and hot air.

    Knock yourself out, guys. Pretty tedious stuff though.

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

    Handy,

    You do indeed have a very static view of history.

    People have indeed been saying such things, and they’ve been right. If you really think that 2010 America is the same as America of the 1950, you need your head examined. And if you think that the America of 2050 – and I seriously doubt there will be such a political entity come 2050 – is going to be the same as America today, I’d check in the mental ward if I were you.

  • Baronius

    Ruvy, this is strong evidence that you don’t actually read the articles you comment on. Every other discussion around here revolves around costs. For example, health care, the stimulus, the war on terror, and the Bush tax cuts always come back to the budget. Didn’t you notice?

  • Les Slater

    zing, it ain’t just Safari, its also ie and firefox.

  • http://takeitorleaveittypepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Correct, the firefox is doing it too, and I have to keep on erasing the same old and irrelevant messsage.

    I’m gonna have to try opera next.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Roger, I didn’t claim to know what’s going to happen. I was questioning your presumption that you do know.

  • Les Slater

    Roger,

    “But Les’s unwillingness to discuss the existing conditions, or at least to acknowledge them as representing the starting point of analysis, is precisely what I find not only frustrating but totally unproductive.”

    I do not understand your complaint at all.

    “For better or worse, the culture war alluded to earlier has become part and parcel of our political landscape and it’s got to be dealt with and eventually resolved.”

    The culture wars will not be resolved under capitalism. The issue really is how to end the capitalist system. The culture wars will not only be with us but we must join the fray on this front along with the struggle to overcome the capitalist system. It’s part of the struggle.

    “It’s one thing to say that it’s a product of ‘false consciousness,’ in that both the victims and the masters suffer from the same delusion, but that doesn’t write off the problem as any less real; and for the time being at least, it does incapacitate the present political system to the point that, for as long as the condition persists, political action is more or less rendered useless.”

    I was just having a little fun with Hegel but I am a materialist. I am very aware of the reality. The ideological debates are based on real conditions and interests, particularly class interests.

    “So it’s high time to discuss the alternatives, what kind of action is possible so as to restore a sense of unity and common vision among all who are equally handicapped by the dissolution of an unworkable system, whether they’re being aware of the fact or not. But I don’t see any of this happening on this thread.”

    I sense a very serious disagreement here. You seem to be seeking a unity of the exploiters and the exploited. This cannot be done. When I said the exploiters had no choice in the matter I was referring to the fact that if they wish to remain a capitalist they must abide by certain rules of the capitalist system. The SYSTEM and all its force must be destroyed.

    “…you [Mark] seem more intent on protecting Les from the corrupting influences of the best in postmodernist thought rather than shatter his belief that orthodox Marxist theory is represents the culmination of enlightened thought.”

    I don’t need protection. I agree with Ruvy when he says, ‘Marxism is like stale matza…’. Not all matza is stale but some certainly is. Marxism in itself is not an all encompassing system. Many Marxists, starting with Marx himself have delved into fields that have their own set of laws. The revolutionary working class movement gained both a materialist and dialectical footing with Marxism. I am primarily a materialist that has some insight into the dialectical process. I think I am competent enough to recognize when some post-modernist is neither materialist nor dialectical.

    Here in Chicago I am around some very intelligent people. I respect them and learn from them. I do not find any that that has supplanted Marxism with some more advanced system. Some think they have.

    Les

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    Safari’s doing it too.

  • http://blogcritics.org Lisa McKay

    Guys, don’t bother changing browsers. The appended URLs are intentional; when someone pastes content from BC into another site, a link back to us goes with it.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Ruvy –

    America ‘used Israel like a whore’?????

    If that’s the case, then surely Israel’s the best-paid whore in all of human history.

    But we didn’t, and you know it.

    Perhaps what you’re not getting is that it is NOT right – and NOT advantageous to America OR Israel – for us to be on Israel’s side all the time. Do you understand where I’m going with this? I hope so.

    If we gave unwavering support to Israel 24/7/365, and if we gave you all the military hardware you want and all the logistical and diplomatic support you want, it would end in disaster – not only for us, but for you, too.

    Why? Because if we did so, we’d drive 1B Muslims and all their oil and all their extremists’ hateful fervor would be driven into the Chinese (or the Russian) camp. And while America might be able to change things to survive without Arab oil, Europe would NOT…and they, too, would be driven into Russia’s arms as a matter of economic survival.

    How do we avoid this? By at least maintaining the appearance of an honest broker and – instead of being on the side of only one nation – trying to get all the nations to play nice with each other. That, sir, is what Obama’s doing…because war is an ill wind that blows no good towards anyone.

    Your way leads to war, destruction, and death – not only for the Arabs, but for you and yours. War…or peace. I hope you make the right choice.

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

    “I sense a very serious disagreement here. You seem to be seeking a unity of the exploiters and the exploited.”

    Not exploiters and the exploited, but among those who know they’re victims and those who aren’t yet aware of the fact. That’s what the culture war is about; the tea partiers are what Rorty referred to as the “orthodox.” So in that sense, the culture war had better be resolved under the crumbling capitalist system: there’s no better time.

    “The issue really is how to end the capitalist system.”

    That’s already happening of its own accord. Meanwhile there is a whole gamut of things people can do – a whole range of actions from political in nature to other kinds.

    And finally, what has intelligence got to do with anything. We’ve got plenty of it here to on BC, but I don’t see anything happening of great consequence, no kind of progress being made.

    Are you in an ongoing dialogue with any of them or are you just rubbing elbows and drinking tea?

  • Mark

    Why do folks think that Les needs warnings and protection?

    Les and I might not agree on much — we disagree on the desirability of taking political power, for example — but I’m betting that we agree that the wrong people are making decisions about production and that people actually engaged in production could do a better job.

    That’s one ‘starting point’ for a shared analysis of what can be done.

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

    “. . . then surely Israel’s the best-paid whore in all of human history.”

    That would make her the Babylonian whore, or better yet. Jezebel.

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

    I was only trying to smoke both of yous out; and thanks.

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

    That’s one ‘starting point’ for a shared analysis of what can be done.

    May be so, but not under present conditions or in any wholesale kind of way. A return to a form of “cottage industry”?

    Perhaps, but that’s not what Les has in mind. He speaks of total overhaul, and for that to happen, geopolitical and economic conditions – the situation on the ground – has got to change beyond recognition.

    We’re getting there, though. Nationalization of major industries is around the corner; but this is reminiscent of fascism. Abolition of nation-states – another program in the works – smacks of worldwide totalitarianism.

    These are some of the problems that come with turning over the control of production to a different cadre on any wholesale kind of level – the only level that in Les’s estimate, I’m surmising of course, would count.

  • zingzing

    lisa: “Guys, don’t bother changing browsers. The appended URLs are intentional; when someone pastes content from BC into another site, a link back to us goes with it.”

    hrm. that’d work ok (and be far less annoying) if it only worked on text that came from the actual post… and what if someone copies stuff from here, but the person who originally wrote it in quoted it from another site? (as in certain people’s wholesale appropriation of other blogs/articles, etc.)

    it’s a bit of a pain, and although i can see the idea behind it, it’s probably not the best way.

    Read more: http://blogcritics.org/politics/article/health-care-bill-spawns-the-war/comments-page-6/#comments#ixzz0kMo0dphT

  • Les Slater

    Mark,

    ‘Les and I might not agree on much — we disagree on the desirability of taking political power, for example — but I’m betting that we agree that the wrong people are making decisions about production and that people actually engaged in production could do a better job.

    “That’s one ‘starting point’ for a shared analysis of what can be done.”

    You bet. A very good starting point.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    America ‘used Israel like a whore’?????

    Yes Glenn,

    And those are the cold, hard facts. The record – from the resignation of George Marshall over the division of the Mandate – through the days of Jim “fuck the Jews” Baker until today with Hillary “the bitch” Clinton and Joe “big fucking deal” Biden, is that the United States government has done whatever it could to sandbag this country and have somebody else destroy it, so it could look clean and pure as it said sorrowfully, “poor Israeli bastards – they never had a chance”.

    This also was the Jew-hating policy of the Roosevelt administration – which refused even to bomb the railroads to the death camps in WWII. The same policy – let the Nazis murder off the Jews while the US government stood sorrowfully by, and then hung the Nazis for doing them a favor, calling them “war criminals”.

    Since the Americans would write the history books, hopefully nobody would notice. But we Jews DID notice, and we have not forgotten what uncivilized bastards Americans are.

    We do not need your support – we do not need your brokering. Get the fuck out of our lands, and let us deal with the Arabs!

  • Les Slater

    Ruvy,

    “Since the Americans would write the history books…”

    And you would do better? From what I see you leave out some very important information to make your case. You do know the complicity of Jewish and Zionist groups in relation to Roosevelt’s policy. You know the role David Ben-Gurion played in diverting attention from the plight of Jews in Europe so as not to spoil his ‘Palestine’ project.

    Les

  • zingzing

    yes, ruvy. it’s all true. americans always have and always will hate the jews. and we’ve spent the last 60 years plotting and scheming, trying to figure out a way to kill you off and blame the arabs. we’ve only backed you up so that we will look like we tried. that’s all. for fuck’s sake, this place was built on christian ideals and we’re more closely aligned with nazi europe, so who really gives a fuck about some stupid jews? right? no one, that’s who. not the arabs, not the christians, not the asians (do they even know you exist?). we’re all out for your jew blood.

    i’m glad you’ve uncovered the truth of our insidious plot to spend decades doing that which hitler nearly did in just a few years. i mean, if we can’t do it out in the open, we MUST be trying to do so behind the scenes. and you know what, that takes longer.

    and holding back the arabs til their anger overflows into genocide… GENIUS! look at them patsy arabs. didn’t they know they were pawns of the great satan the whole time? it’s crazy man, watching us play you two off each other. it’s like a fucking boxing match we get to watch for free and it’s on ALL THE TIME.

    if you get what you want, i’ve got my betting money on the arabs. i mean, without proper sponsorship, how can the jews expect to train properly? you’ve got to have a strong corner if you’re going to win a fight in which you’re physically overmatched. it’s all psychology.

    let’s get it on!

  • Les Slater

    zing’s comments are reactionary regardless of whether they’re supposed to be sacarsim or whatever. That kind of shit has no place here.

  • zingzing

    yes, they were reactionary. i was reacting to ruvy’s continued ridiculousness. and i’ll put em where i want em, so deal with it. free country.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    You do know the complicity of Jewish and Zionist groups in relation to Roosevelt’s policy. You know the role David Ben-Gurion played in diverting attention from the plight of Jews in Europe so as not to spoil his ‘Palestine’ project.

    Yeah, Les, I do. But, I did not raise them because they were not relevant to the immediate issue. Menahem Begin is my hero, not ben-Gurion, even though ben-Gurion did much more to get the state going – like building the Histadrut – the Organization of Hebrew Workers in the Land of Israel – and its allied institutions, Bank haPoalim, Sollel Boneh (building), Kupat Holim (health care), haMashbir (Israel’s first department store), the system of day-care for children, and innumerable kibbutzim and towns. All these positive things are outweighed by the negative things he did – cooperating sub-rosa with the Nazis, turning in Jewish freedom-fighters to the British, ordering Yitzhaq Rabin to fire on the Jewish sailors and soldiers of the Altalena. Ben-Gurion’s hands were covered with Jewish blood.

    you would do better?

    Yes, I would. Les, if I write the history books, they will be filled with painful and uncomfortable truths – like my hero, Rav Meir Kahane, z”l, hy”d. That is why my comments are not pleasant to read.

    I tell the truth.

  • zingzing

    and when it’s your turn to be the thought police, we’ll let you know, les. (and you can fuck right off with that bullshit, just so you know.)

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Comments 238 and 240 – an immature kid working out his authority issues….

    sigh

    It takes all kinds to make a world go round….

  • zingzing

    and 236 is a paranoid, bitter old man.

    sigh.

    besides, i was only agreeing with you, wasn’t i?

  • zingzing

    besides, if “confirming” that you’re right makes me immature, what does that make you? should make you look at how you come off. i was being sarcastic. you’re just being your usual self.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    zing’s comments are reactionary regardless of whether they’re supposed to be sarcasm or whatever.

    Les has you nailed. All of your comments are reactionary. Every comment I’ve seen on this thread, and most comments on most other threads as well. The difference, between him and me is that I feel no need to play policeman here.

  • zingzing

    ha. sure, ruvy. you can look at your mirror image and laugh at it. it’s you.

  • Les Slater

    “besides, if ‘confirming’ that you’re right makes me immature, what does that make you?”

    Sort of sounds like:

    ‘I know you are but what am I?’, which is the ultimate comeback for kids below the third grade.

  • zingzing

    yes it does. that’s the point.

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

    I actually find the extension of family insurance coverage to kids up to age 26 to be one of the least objectionable aspects of this bill. I’d have liked to have seen more solutions like that instead of the mandates and penalties and criminalization of choice.

    But the basic complaint is valid. This bill treats all Americans, regardless of age, as if they are children and assumes that they are incapable of making choices and being responsible adults. It usurps our adulthood and makes us all children of the paternalistic state.

    Dave

  • Les Slater

    But on whom does the point land?

  • zingzing

    les, the answer is ruvy… i certainly am not talking to you about ruvy’s ridiculous, paranoid conspiracy theories… i’m talking to ruvy.

    whatever you want to say about my tactics, i’ve been coming here since 2006 or 07 and i’ve seen ruvy sliding down a hill into reactionary (yes, that’s the word you used for my sarcasm,) militantism, calling for the nuking of iran and death to americans and the fact that the entire western world is one big jew-hating nazi conglomerate that wants to see the jews dead and the jews should respond with hatred as well.

    so i showed him what it would look like if we did think likes he think we think. and he laughed at it. just like i laugh at his bullshit. and that says something.

    he also took a shot at you, in case you fail to notice. once again, another member of the western world tries to defend the man and he has nothing but bile.

    no matter what you do, ruvy thinks you do the things you do because you hate the jews. it’s stupid. he thinks the only way forward for the jews is to kill kill kill. that’s stupid. he has (with my help, i’ll concede,) turned another thread into a thread about the jews. that’s ridiculous.

  • Les Slater

    zing,

    I know much, most of Ruvy’s positions are quite reactionary. I have tried to deal with them over the years. What you posted can’t be dealt with on the basis of content.

    Ruvy knows deep down that the Zionist justification for the establishment of Israel is a fraud. The extent that he blindly and one-sidedly lays the blame on U.S. policy is a part of a rationalization for his denial of this.

    Les

  • Les Slater

    By the way, at least a significant minority in the U.S. support Israel, and by extension the most reactionary of its actions and policies.

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

    Everything is reactionary to Les if it’s not ortodox Marxism. Little does he reaslize that ortodox Marxism is itelf reactionary, little does he suspect that thinking hasn’t stopped with Marx or that the world hadn’t stood still since the passing of his patron saint.

    And since altering the face of power over production processes is such an excellent starting point of analysis (#235), why don’t we see the brilliant analysis unfold on these here pages beyond the shouting of mere slogans?

    The unfortunate thing is – even a deep thinker such as Mark appears to be caught up in this brand of revolutionary fervor and sloganeering so characteristic of May Day demonstrations instead of exercising his God-given critical faculties.

    Thanks, Les, for bringing freshness and originality to the conversation. Thus far, tou have been a major disappointment; and you’ll continue to to be if you can’t rise above being doctrinaire.

  • Les Slater

    Roger,

    “…little does he suspect that thinking hasn’t stopped with Marx or that the world hadn’t stood still since the passing of his patron saint.

    Excerpted from second to last paragraph of my 223:

    “I don’t need protection. I agree with Ruvy when he says, ‘Marxism is like stale matza…’. Not all matza is stale but some certainly is. Marxism in itself is not an all encompassing system. Many Marxists, starting with Marx himself have delved into fields that have their own set of laws. The revolutionary working class movement gained both a materialist and dialectical footing with Marxism.”

    It doesn’t seem to sink in with you. Lenin was about 13 when Marx died. Please don’t claim that Lenin did not contribute to the enrichment of Marxism long after Marx’s death. Lenin died and Stalin came to power. The analysis of that also enriched Marxism. This enrichment continues to this day and those wrestling with current problems will continue to enrich it.

    Just because you have a certain perception of the current state of knowledge doesn’t carry with it the credibility to dismiss as you please. You pointing to Rorty as a good starting point betrays that lack of a credibility.

    Les

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

    You’re missing the point entirely – it’s not Rorty that is the starting point – I never said that. I only referrred to certain tensions and themes in Rorty’s cited text.

    And rather than listening to your applauding the virtues of Marxist thought, on whatever general grounds, it would be refreshing for a change if you were to address specific issues and problematics, something one could sink one’s teeth into. Thus far, I’ve seen nothing of the kind, nothing in fact except sloganeering.

    So yes, if you say that I am being dismissive of sloganeering, any kind of sloganeering, and of singing praises, then you’re a hundred percent right.

    So perhaps you ought to put on a different hat when posting here on BC, if you care to be regarded in a different light. Stop being a community organizer or a party recruiter and become a thinker (like we all know you can be).

  • Les Slater

    Let’s get concrete here. You are the one that says I am stuck defending a system that has remained static since the death of Marx. I demonstrated concretely that that assertion has no validity. You do not provide any concrete alternative.

    As far as being a party organizer, I don’t have any illusions of having the slightest success here. I am here to practice being as honest and open as I can. I judge both myself and others by what reactions, or lack thereof, of others.

  • Mark

    Specifics?

    How do we stop owners from blowing up and drowning miners?

    Got a suggestion, Rog?

  • Les Slater

    And those certain tensions and themes are your starting point? I have tried to address those. I am not surprised that you see that I have failed. If we can get more concrete maybe I can try again.

  • Les Slater

    The mines ought to be nationalized under WORKERS CONTROL. It is very clear that the current owners can’t even meet basic safety requirements.

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

    “I demonstrated concretely that that assertion has no validity.”

    No, you haven’t. All you’ve done is dropped some names – Lenin, etcetera. You haven’t shown the manner in which Marx’s thought has progressed.

    Don’t forget, though – I billed you are a progressive Marxist (see up the thread), so by that very definition, I’m not guilty as charged. But what I haven’t seen from you thus far is how your thinking has progressed beyond the original formulation(s). It would be interesting to find out.

    As to mines being nationalized, I suppose it may have to come to that if more and more incidents occur. Under WORKERS’ CONTROL – we’re long ways from realizing such a happy arrangements.

    But nationalization would be the first step, eventually leading to a “board of directors” which would include the representatives of workers’ interests – if only in matters related to safety.

    And it could all be done under the auspices of the Department of Energy.

  • zingzing

    les: “What you posted can’t be dealt with on the basis of content.”

    wasn’t meant to be. it’s meant to be dealt with by ruvy as a reflection of what his world would look like if it did exist. a stupid, stupid place. but it doesn’t exist.

  • Les Slater

    “But nationalization would be the first step, eventually leading to a ‘board of directors’ which would include the representatives of workers’ interests – if only in matters related to safety.”

    My call was for nationalization under WORKER CONTROL. There would no board that would just ‘include’ workers. Any non worker would be HIRED by the workers on a consultative basis. This workers control would include all operating and financial matters, not just safety.

  • Mark

    Keep the politicians with their ‘nationalizations’ (and their corruption) out of it. This problem is between miners and capitalist owners — whether corporations or states. Worker control of mines around the world is the critical missing factor.

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

    Alright, let me try again.

    (1) The importance of “culture wars” alluded to by Rorty is that it provides a justification for the continuance of economic and political relations as is. It is only when we’ll be able to attain a measure of unity and solidarity among all those who are subject to the present economic/politial ruling class – among all those who are in fact members of the growing underclass. whether they realize it or not – that there can be any hope (along with a stimulus) for real change. Consequently, repairing those divisions is a matter of critical importance.

    (2) the importance of the split between the progressives that Rorty alludes to amounts to the following: Can we still subscribe to a vision of America as “the great experiment,” far from having been realized yet but hopefully realizable in the future, or, as the postmodernists tend to think, the project is a dismal failure? Different answer to this question will dictate different courses of action.

    (3) The face of capitalism is changing – it is clearly becoming global; and along with that change, there is a definite push towards globalization of political arrangements and configuration. Not to mention the fact that we are in effect in the midst of a post-capitalist, technological era: and this has tremendous consequences for the employment picture worldwide and in the West for long time to come (refer my last BC piece). Consequently, since we’re no longer a manufacturing nation, the focus on production processes and management of production processes is no longer as commanding as it once used to be. (Most of the production is moving offshore, and this trend isn’t likely subside, only increase). Consequently, the kind of production that can still be the object of legitimate concern in the West is bound to be more and more marginal – on the order of the cottage industries of old. Not that this is a bad thing in itself, because it will make for the growth and proliferation of autonomous, more or less self-sufficient communities, but it certainly doesn’t address the all-important concerns of production processes on any global and therefore all-meaningful scale.

    The fields of energy/alternative energy and food production appear to be the ones which will have the most significant effect worldwise, and therefore deserve our greatest attention.

    (5) In short, we’ve got to think in terms of global and not national economics, and global rather than national interests – because that’s the direction in which the world is moving. We need to adopt a global perspective and think of global solutions.

  • Les Slater

    Whatever you might call it, workers control is a usurpation of private ownership. In the case of workers control the term ‘nationalization’ would be a codification of a momentary stability in the relationship of forces between the workers and the capitalists in favor of the workers. Such stability does not last long and rather quickly workers themselves must seize political power.

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

    “My call was for nationalization under WORKER CONTROL. There would no board that would just ‘include’ workers. Any non worker would be HIRED by the workers on a consultative basis. This workers control would include all operating and financial matters, not just safety.”

    I know that was your call. Good luck now trying to implement your call under the existing conditions.

    It’s precisely this kind of doctrinaire thinking that I cannot relate to. Sorry, Les, I know you mean well.

    Mark’s idea, however, appears on the right track. for this is a matter between the owners and the workers (like between the owners of sport franchises, let’s say, and the players.)

    One problem, however. You speak of “Worker control of mines around the world” as being “the critical missing factor.” That may be so, but how do you suppose this could be realized. Are the owners just going to cave in to the workers’ demands and allow them to run things? That’s not a very plausible scenario.

    It is perhaps in order to avert this impasse that the entire industry may have to undergo nationalization as the necessary intermediary step, one that would eventually lead to worker’s control.

    And how do you exactly envisage “politicians” in a globally-defined political setting, there being no nations, no nation-states, and no national interests? For your very talk of “worker control of mines around the world” does imply some such arrangement, doesn’t it?

    I’ll take your response off the air.

  • Les Slater

    Roger,

    I agree with much of what you present in 3 through 5. That’s why I always insist you can’t come at these questions from a nationalist perspective. You are not always so consistent. From your 17 in this thread:

    “If part of socialism means eliminating the parasites – like the insurance companies and the like, to include most Wall Street firms which can do no better than making money out of money rather than contribute to the productive capacity of the nation – then I’m all for it.”

    ‘… productive capacity of the nation…’ When challenged you do come out squarely for an international perspective. However in normal discourse you have a tendency to fall back to the nationalist level.

    I will come back to your 3 to 5.

    Les

  • Les Slater

    Roger,

    I had a long and rather lively discussion with a young Marxist that I have much respect for within the past three or four days. I think it was Sunday evening through Monday morning.

    I insisted that because of the development of capitalism since 1917 we could not expect a modern revolution to be as simple or easy, from the perspective of organizing the economy.

    I pointed out that food production and delivery would take on a prime importance. That there would be major disruptions in supplies for all things we take for granted.

    I pointed to the centrality of the U.S. working class’s necessity to pay attention to and heed the needs of workers outside the U.S. We will need their support including material assistance. Even that material assistance requires careful planning and protection. There will initially be hostile forces on the loose.

    The question of the military has to be taken seriously and dealt with.

    Les

  • Les Slater

    Still, by far the biggest problem is to build a vanguard of the working class to help lead the class as a whole, in their interests, to the conclusion that they can, and want to, take government into their own hands.

  • John Wilson

    The suggested upheavals would not be necessary if existing laws were actively enforced.

    For example, the mine owners had 400 violations this year, 50 of which were life-threatening. Corruption smoothed over that.

    For example, it is already illegal to bribe politicians and using “campaign contributions” to give the appearance of legitimacy is transparently fraudulent.

    For example, we have anti-trust laws to enforce competition in markets, but in 1945 we gave insurance companies a blank check to create monopolies. Perhaps the private health insurance system would have worked out OK if we had enforced the anti-trust laws.

    If we don’t have the courage and good sense to enforce existing laws what hope is there with a new set of laws?

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

    I have long abandoned the nationalistic level, Les. This should have been pretty evident from most of my comments. Nationalistic perspective is definitely the most wrongheaded one to adopt in these changing times: it’s only liable to stagnate thinking or lead it astray. There is no other way to think but in global terms.

    If I brought up Rorty’s text for examination, it was only for the purpose of posing the leading questions.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    zing,

    All of your comments are reactionary. Every comment I’ve seen on this thread, and most comments on most other threads as well. That is not a political assessment. That is a statement that you are incapable of a single original thought. Full stop. You only react to what others say.

    Like I’ve told you before, you are not stupid. We all can see that. We are all waiting for your intellect – rather than merely your sarcasm – to shine.

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

    “Still, by far the biggest problem is to build a vanguard of the working class . . .”

    Except that the “working class” – in America and most of the post-industrial West – is a rapidly shrinking “class,” if we are to understand it in the traditional sense (as defined by the manufacturing industries). Why? Precisely because manufacturing industries are no longer viable industries in the West – most of the operations having moved to Third World countries. It’s for this reason, that I’d rather speak of the quickly growing underclass, all those who are perennially unemployed, only partially employed or employed at the most menial, service-industry jobs. Proletariat or plebs is a much more accurate term to describe these masses.

    So indeed, we do not to develop a sense of solidarity and with all brothers and sisters across the globe – all the poverty stricken people and all those employed at the sweat shops. But before this can happen, we must bring our own house in order. And I don’t mean this in any nationalistic kind of sense but only in the sense of the American people, most of them in fact, coming to a realization that all are being screwed.

    The idea is to break the back of rampant and unabashed capitalism once and for all. And nothing short of worldwide solidarity among all those who makes up the underclass is going to do it. All are brothers and sisters, whether in Philippines, China or Mexico. They’re all persons of equal moral worth and deserve to be treated as such. So I just thought I’ll throw in this little dose of worldwide humanism to supplement the Marxist perspective.
    BTW, you may still be inclined to filter some of my comments through the lenses of the past, in terms of your recollections and impressions from six months ago. Don’t!

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    When productive workers occupy the board rooms of corporations and can begin making decisions about their production and the way their surpluses are distributed based on interests and values other than their ‘fiduciary responsibility’ to owners, ‘solutions’ will present themselves.

    I like Mark’s solution because there is no “nationalization”, no stale doctrines like “vanguard of the working class”, nobody singing “The Internationale” to tunes played on barely working Victorolas. He goes after the issues, seeking a solution.

    Of course, the question is, “is there any production left in the States that is not systematically being out-sourced to some slave labor economy?” I don’t know the answer. I suppose they still make firecrackers in the States and still brew beer and bake bread….

    What about horse-shoes?

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Finally, Les, Zionism is not a fraud.

    Zionism is a frame of ideas refined by Christian theologians 300 years ago from the Books of Prophecy in the Hebrew Bible, and taken over by secular Jews for pupose of promoting the return of the Children of Israel to the Land of Israel. Once the Six-Day War had been won, Zionism had accomplished its most important goal – providing a serious land base for resettlement of the Children of Israel. In plain English, that meant that Zionism had fulfilled its purpose, and it was time for the Zionists to move on, so the next stage of resettlement could proceed.

    That didn’t happen. Had it happened, there would be a Temple on the Temple Mount and we would not be discussing either the decay of western “civilization” or the wars in the Middle East.

  • zingzing

    ruvy, you’re repeating yourself (again). you already said as much earlier. in fact, you pretty much quoted yourself… and what is it that you’re doing that’s not “reactionary?”

    “That is a statement that you are incapable of a single original thought. Full stop. You only react to what others say.”

    even if your point was true, what you’re looking at is the nature of conversation. but you only look at what i write to you. that much is obvious, as otherwise you’d see many comments i’ve written that are “original thoughts.” as usual, however, you stoop to insults when you’ve been bested. face it, when someone actually “agrees” with your point of view, it looks paranoid and silly. why do you just insult when you could prove to me i’m wrong? is #236 not an accurate reflection of what you think americans think? why not? or would answering someone’s criticism make you a “reactionary?”

    “Like I’ve told you before, you are not stupid. We all can see that.”

    didn’t need you to tell me that. but i’ll put that thought under my pillow and wait for the “damning with faint praise” fairy.

    “We are all waiting for your intellect – rather than merely your sarcasm – to shine.”

    all that i have left for you is sarcasm. until you change your tune. if you want to see my intellect, look elsewhere.

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

    Firecrackers are made mostly in China.

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

    I shall construe lack of response to my #271 and #273 as a sign of agreement.

    Have a good day, gentlemen!

  • Les Slater

    “I shall construe lack of response to my #271 and #273 as a sign of agreement.”

    Definitely not. I’ve been busy for the last couple of days. You grossly underestimate the working class (#273) and it seems that is the root of much of your disagreement with my perspectives.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Les,

    I don’t know about Roger, but I do not underestimate the dumbing down of Americans over the last half-century or so. This is something I witnessed myself.

    At this site alone, we have a number of members of he working class. Cannonshop, for one, The Realist, for another. Whatever their views actually are, neither of them seem to be salivating for “world revolution” of any kind.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    My comment above is not meant to imply that either of these fine gentlemen are dummies – quite the contrary.

    But the population as a whole has been dumbed down, and the idea of “working class solidarity” necessary for any “workers’ revolution” is frankly beyond most of them, in my humble opinion. For them, it’s not Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin, its Groucho Marx and John Lennon.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Firecrackers are made mostly in China.

    Oh well….

  • Les Slater

    Ruvy,

    Actually the working class is at a much higher cultural level than it was during the great labor uspsurge in the 30’s. The problem is that of leadership.

    Les

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

    I gave you my reasons why the notion of “the working” class has got to be expanded to what I termed “underclass.” So yes, I am not committed to any religious application of Marx’s pet category. Besides, the notions of human dignity and human rights have become much more prevalent and central in today’s thinking and the popular mind since Marx’s time, with the result that economic justice (though always an important aspect of quality of like) has become subsumed under the more general notion of justice which is all-encompassing as it were. You see, exploitation and domination takes many forms, economic being only one of them.

    Consequently, the issues and problems related to economic injustice are only some of the issues facing the underclass of today and represent in that sense only a limited and not sufficiently far-reaching perspective. To wit, the notion of “the exploited worker” has become replaced with a far more comprehensive notion of subjugated or dominated person, a notion which includes economic parity but is not pre-emptied thereby. Yes, the notion of personhood and of moral equivalence of persons, to include proper treatment of such, have become the dominant concepts of modernity and define its ideals.

    I’m glad, however, we both agree that we’ve got to think beyond nation-states, national politics and national interests, and understand today’s problems in the context of rapidly evolving global community.

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

    To add – especially in America and the West, the notion of “working class” and of working-class identification have lost their currency.

    Why? Because the principles of egalitarianism, however tacitly or implicitly stated in the US Constitution or the articles leading to the French Revolution, have become ingrained in the popular mind, with the result that we each, everyone of us, regard one another as equals – and that’s in spite of economic differences. Consequently, we demand equal application of justice in all aspects of life.

    And given this mindset, for a person to identify themselves as a worker would signify a step down from how they view themselves vis-a-vis others and the kind of respect they demand.

  • Mark

    …the notion of “the working” class has got to be expanded

    Thought has not stood still since Marx. I refer you to the categorization of Class presented by the Amherst Marxists. See the book, “New Departures in Marxian Theory”, Resnick and Wolff

    Read more: http://blogcritics.org/politics/article/health-care-bill-spawns-the-war/comments-page-7/#comments#ixzz0kbws3KT2

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

    I’m sure it has, Mark, as it rightfully ought to. I was merely addressing Les’s undifferentiated concept.

    But I do appreciate the references you provided. Will definitely look them up.

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

    As to your other link in #286, which comment(s) are you referring to?

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

    An excerpt from a review of Resnick and Wolff’s book:

    In the second section of the book, titled “Class Analysis,” Resnick and Wolff apply their overdeterminist epistemology in examining what is the meaning of class in Marx. They approach class as a process involving the production, appropriation, and distribution of surplus labor, where surplus labor refers to the labor performed by the worker above and beyond the labor necessary to sustain and reproduce him/herself. More specifically, the authors refer to the production and appropriation process as the fundamental class process, while the distribution and receipt is identified as the subsumed class process. This latter process is interpreted as the one that provides the conditions of existence for the fundamental class process to keep occurring. Class analysis therefore focuses on the contradictions brought about by these two processes.

    Resnick and Wolff’s definition of class is clearly different from the definitions that have informed Marxism for most of its existence. In those other alternative definitions, which Marx himself used throughout his works, class refers to a group of people. More specifically, class has traditionally referred to two antagonistic groups whose relationships are defined in terms of property and/or power. Under capitalism, these groups are the capitalists and the workers. During feudalism it was the lord and the serf and under slavery it was the master and the slave. As Resnick and Wolff point out, the definition of class in terms of property and/or power has been present in social analysis from at least Plato and Aristotle. Marx’s insight is his focus on the production, appropriation, and distribution of surplus labor, where property, for example, can be one possible condition of existence of such a process. In this view, then, there are not only multiple class structures present at any particular historical moment, but individuals and groups can occupy multiple class positions within various class structures at the same time.

    With their definition of class, Resnick and Wolff have approached important debates within Marxian theory. One example is the productive/unproductive labor distinction that Marx (and before him Smith) developed, where productive labor is “labor which produces surplus value for its employer” (Marx 1967: 2). Much of the debate and its relation to the identification of a “working class” has revolved around the “definition of unproductive labor and the specification of its place in the social class structure” (R&W: 100). The authors utilize their fundamental/subsumed distinction for class structures to conclude that “unproductive workers are all Type 2 subsumed classes,” meaning the employees of merchants, money lenders, and other “directors of the economic, political, and cultural processes comprising the conditions of existence of the capitalist fundamental class process” (ibid:99). The wages of these employees stem from the appropriated surplus value in the capitalist fundamental class process. What becomes an issue here is if these unproductive workers are actually exploited, another big debate within Marxism. The answer for Resnick and Wolff is a definite no; unproductive workers not only enable the exploitation of productive workers, but also benefit from it given that their wages come from the surplus value produced by the productive workers.

    Although Resnick and Wolff are not the only ones to view the concept of exploitation as being applicable under capitalism only to productive workers (see for example Carchedi 1977) it seems some conceptual clarification is needed. Does the distinction of necessary to surplus labor only apply to productive workers even though unproductive workers can engage in socially necessary labor time that is beyond the amount of labor equivalent to maintain his/her labor power? In other words, are they engaging in surplus labor? Is this unpaid labor just a different form of appropriation of surplus labor (Burris 2005: 143)? Is not Marx’s specification of the rate of exploitation in terms of the rate of surplus value (Marx 1977: 326) for productive workers a specification of exploitation of labor power by capital (Shaikh and Tonak 1994: 30-31), thereby implying other types of exploitation by non-capitalist structures? Do they think that the term “oppression” might be a better one to describe the situation of unproductive workers, even thought they use this term to apply to a political rather than an economic process (R&W 2006: 162)? These are all preoccupations that in my opinion should have been treated in a more explicit manner by the authors given the contending views within this specific literature.

    ——————————

    As per link.

  • Les Slater

    Another complication is that very few workers in the U.S. actually produce more than they consume, that is from a labor expended point of view. Their consumption is subsidized by greater labobor expended by workers in other countries or some sectors with the greatest exploitation of labor here in the U.S.

    This is part of the crisis of capitalism. It is actually getting quite difficult to make a profit directly from the exploitation of workers in the U.S.. Much profit comes from various financial speculations, mergers etc.

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

    “Much profit comes from various financial speculations, mergers etc.” in the US, you should have added.

    In fact, not such much but most, perhaps – the “financial products,” so to speak (excepting the high-tech sector).

    So yes, the supposedly unlimited productive capacity of capitalism has been restricted to what it can squeeze out from the labor pool in Third World countries. And the question – can it possibly generate sufficient wealth worldwide with its productive capacity so restricted? I seriously doubt it.

    So yes, for the time being, our consumption patterns only contribute to Third World exploitation.

    Another question: For how long shall we be able to persist in our consumption patters while the labor productivity in the US is on a downtrend? Something’s got to give.

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

    But I’ve been harping on this very point, Les, for quire some time now – the diminishing productive capacity in the West – from the manufacturing standpoint – except for technology (again, see my latest article).

    Which is precisely why I argue that the notion of “the working class” – as originally envisaged by Marx and applicable to industrial nations – needs substantial re-definition if it is to serve as a viable term of analysis in the post-industrial world going through the second stage of the Industrial Revolution – the technological one.

  • Les Slater

    Marx never envisioned reality in simple terms. His abstractions were indeed often simplified to get to an essence of the workings of a system in pure form. He never argued that that pure form did, had ever, or would ever, exist. The question of the relation between certain relatively privileged sectors of the British working class and the colonies was analyzed by Lenin. This is not new question.

  • Doug Hunter

    #291-3

    You’ve indeed been harping on a point, but it’s something that only makes sense in the mind of another Marxist. While you wile away the hours debating how to legislate equality, patting yourselves on the back for your own moral superiority, and trapping people in cycles of dependency on handouts capitalism seeks out imbalances and ‘exploits’ them by bringing capital, jobs, infrastructure, and opportunity from rich nations to poor ones ultimately empowering the host ‘exploited’ country and reducing the imbalance. It’s the ultimate in wealth redistribution and something you would celebrate (if mandated by the government). Capitalism transforms third world countries to first world ones, yesterday’s ‘exploited’ nations are today’s economic powerhouses and today’s will soon join them… in short, capitalism works.

    You both have a point in regards to difficulty creating profit where large imbalances do not exist and innovation is not possible. This is another situation where it appears capitalism should be giving you exactly what you desire. In a mature state profits are difficult to come by (Marxists aren’t supposed to like them anyway) as their are limited imbalances to fix/’exploit’ and innovation in this area has run it’s course. Never fear, innovation and profits will be had somewhere else, no one should be making a large profit in industries where there is a lack of innovation, that money should be going to workers and lower prices for customers.

    Now you have some relevant critiques in addition to these but those have mostly to do with efforts of corporations to avoid a truly free market (as truly free markets mature and eliminate the opportunity for profit). A common route for this is to use the government to eliminate competition through red tape and regulation, grant partial or geographic monopolies, or directly order and mandate consumption. There is also the issue of false innovation and outright fraud used to fleece the consumer. Those are not core principals of capitalism and I think we can work to curb those abuses while not throwing out the baby here.

  • Les Slater

    “…capitalism seeks out imbalances and ‘exploits’ them by bringing capital, jobs, infrastructure, and opportunity from rich nations to poor ones ultimately empowering the host ‘exploited’ country and reducing the imbalance.”

    How very, very true. I celebrate it. Marx called this the creation of its own gravediggers.

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

    “Now you have some relevant critiques in addition to these but those have mostly to do with efforts of corporations to avoid a truly free market . . .”

    But isn’t that the ultimate aim of corporations, to avoid a “truly free market”?
    Indeed, the very idea of a “truly free market” is nothing but pure fiction, applicable perhaps to the original stages of capitalism’s development. But once the concept of mass production became the mainstay of the system, the idea of free markets was left far behind – with or without government’s help.

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

    “The question of the relation between certain relatively privileged sectors of the British working class and the colonies was analyzed by Lenin. This is not new question.”

    Perhaps so, Les, but it’s a question which certainly has far wider ramifications, ramifications which go way beyond the original context of the analysis but are global in fact.

    Not to mention the inconvenient little fact that shortly we shan’t be able to speak of “privileged sectors of the working class,” whether in Britain or anywhere else in the West, in any meaningful kind of way.

    All will be dragged down to the level of bare subsistence, for now reserved for the Third World countries, and that’s in spite of capitalism’s “promise” to eventually spread prosperity and wealth to all.

  • Doug Hunter

    #296

    Bollocks. Marx’s view was limited. I don’t think he envisioned capitalism’s growth past the industrial age. It matures past that without need for communist revolution. It’s not creating it’s own gravediggers it’s creating the next generation of capitalists. Communism, like Marx, is dead. Socialism is the priviledge and conceit of the spoiled.

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

    “It’s not creating it’s own gravediggers it’s creating the next generation of capitalists.”

    For how long? Don’t you feel the earth shifting under your very feet.

    Think of the mine disaster in Virginia. The company has been cited for countless violations and still allowed to operate as is.

    Don’t you think it’s only a matter of time before all mining operations will be nationalized, under the general auspices of the Department of Energy? And what of other industries deemed “too critical to fail” or too important from the vantage point of national interests?

    Not that I necessarily approve of the “government takeover,” but change is in the air. What we’re witnessing right now are barely the beginnings. Ten years from now you won’t recognize your own country, if it’ll still be a country.

  • Doug Hunter

    “But isn’t that the ultimate aim of corporations, to avoid a ‘truly free market’?”

    Yes, for the reasons I listed above. Free markets correct imbalances and ultimately lower profits as they mature. Corporations want to maintain competitive advantage and maximize profits so their goals end up at odds.

  • Les Slater

    “…but it’s a question which certainly has far wider ramifications, ramifications which go way beyond the original context of the analysis but are global in fact.”

    The penetration of capital is certainly more widespread and is very deep, but nothing fundamental has changed. Lenin had already analyzed capitalist imperialism. We are still in that stage. There is nothing fundamentally new.

    “Not to mention the inconvenient little fact that shortly we shan’t be able to speak of ‘privileged sectors of the working class…’”

    The privileged layers are certainly getting smaller and fewer. Many are being threatened. This is mostly what drives the rightist element of the culture wars. The right has no solution, they look for scapegoats.

    Not all the working class sees itself as privileged in any way. It is this section of the class that is leading. There were over 100K of them in the streets of DC on the 21rst of last month. This section of the class can lead broader layers including middle class layers.

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

    Fair enough.

  • Les Slater

    Doug,

    Capitalism is in crisis. Do you not see it?

    Les

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

    But how are you going to reinstate the condition of free markets, Doug? I may agree with you in theory, but that’s as far as it goes.

    Are the multinationals just going to give up their comparative advantage and implement the rules of fair play?

  • Les Slater

    The market has never been free. There never has been any pure capitalism and we’re a lot further from it now than ever in the past. Imperialist capital depends more than ever on its military might to dictate market relations. The trend is for this state of affairs to grow.

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

    A pertinent excerpt from a pdf document cited earlier, Les:

    Thus, by whatever means the current crisis episode will dwindle into a new kind of austerity, one lesson remains clear: it is no longer possible for the global capital to return to the patterns of trade and finance constructed in the post-1980 era. The world economy has exhausted the fantasy tales of “free” trade, “liberalized” finance, and “flexible” labor markets where the motive for private profit seeking was taken as the unabated single rule for efficient allocation of resources leading to high incomes, human rights, civilization, prosperity, and so on. The post-1980 phase of capitalism, which is often characterized as neoliberal globalization, was identified by a wide-encompassing restructuring of both the economic realm consolidating the realm of the markets, and the political aspects of this realm —the states.
    What lied at the heart of this restructuring was the ascendancy of finance over industry, a global process of financialization subjecting its logic of short-termism, liquidity, flexibility, and immense mobility over objectives of long term industrialization, sustainable development and poverty alleviation with social welfare driven states. Financialization, as it stands, is a loose term and no consensus yet exists among economists on its definition. However, starting from David Harvey’s seminal observation that “something significant has changed in the way capitalism has been working since about 1970” (Harvey, 1989: 192), a set of distinguishing characteristics of the concept can be unveiled. Krippner (2005:174), in line with Arrighi’s The Long Twentieth Century defines it as a pattern of accumulation in which profits accrue primarily through financial channels rather than through trade and commodity production. According to Epstein (2005:3) “financialization means the increasing role of financial motives, financial markets, financial actors and financial institutions in the operation of domestic and international economies”. In what follows, in a broader way, we can consider financialization as a phenomenon which can be described by increasing financial motives, volume and impact of financial activities within and among countries. As
    3
    Duménil and Lévy (2004a) underline, “what is at issue here, are not markets and states per se, but the stricter subjection of these institutions to capital: on the one hand, the freedom of capital to act along its own interests with little consideration for salaried workers and the large masses of the world population, and, on the other hand, a state dedicated to the enforcement of this new social order and the confrontation to other states.”

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

    “Imperialist capital depends more than ever on its military might to dictate market relations. The trend is for this state of affairs to grow.”

    Except when corporate interests start being perceived as being in conflict with national interests. Political and military might have always at odds with purely economic interests – especially when the latter did not directly or indirectly promoted the interests of the State – and they’ve usually been victorious. No reason to assume this supremacy of the political (and the military) would change – unless of course you’re willing to assume a vast conspiracy conjoining national and economic interests (for however long nation-states and the mentality associated with nation-states, are going to last). I don’t.

    Indeed, the history of the world is replete with examples of national confiscation, takeover, of critical industries; and I don’t see why this practice is about to stop. It’s the natural response by the State to curb the appetite of all those who deem themselves as being above it.

    Politics, in spite of it being a superstructure, rules.

  • Les Slater

    “The post-1980 phase of capitalism, which is often characterized as neoliberal globalization, was identified by a wide-encompassing restructuring of both the economic realm consolidating the realm of the markets, and the political aspects of this realm ‘the states’.

    “What lied at the heart of this restructuring was the ascendancy of finance over industry…”

    Post-1980? How about an earlier work:

    “As banking develops and becomes concentrated in a small number of establishments, the banks grow from modest middlemen into powerful monopolies having at their command almost the whole of the money capital of all the capitalists and small businessmen and also the larger part of the means of production and sources of raw materials in any one country and in a number of countries. This transformation of numerous modest middlemen into a handful of monopolists is one of the fundamental processes in the growth of capitalism into capitalist imperialism; for this reason we must first of all examine the concentration of banking.”

    V.I. Lenin – Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism
    January-June 1916

  • Doug Hunter

    From reading the continued comments I see that you both and I have different ideas of what a free market entails. I don’t disagree with most of your complaints except for the characterization of those ideas as free market concepts.

    How in the heck do you lump using ‘military might to dictate market relations’ as a free market concept?

    Most every definition of the free market precludes the use of force or fraud, while most of your criticisms include one or the other. You’re not arguing against free market capitalism you’re arguing against utter anarchy with which I can easily agree.

  • Les Slater

    “How in the heck do you lump using ‘military might to dictate market relations’ as a free market concept?”

    I don’t. The first senence in that paragraph is:

    “The market has never been free.”

  • Doug Hunter

    #309

    You had your chance to see finance take it’s place in the backseat, reduce it’s profit margin, and shrink to a more reasonable size, unfortunately, governments ran to it’s aid with your children’s money.

    At every turn I see reasons you should appreciate the market, it’s redistrubutive power, it’s attempt to kill parasitic financial firms, and it’s leveling the playing field on the macro and micro levels.

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

    I used the notion of “military might,” Doug, in a very restricted concept – only to mean that when the political (and the military, by association) is at odds with the economic, the political will always prevail. It has always been so.

    But then again, you’ve got to argue for the conditions in which anything like “free market capitalism” could possibly germinate, let alone thrive.

    The onus is on you.

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

    But the parasitic financial terms were the mainstay of our economy for years, Doug.

    Never mind the stupid reasons why they were resurrected to fuck us all over again.

    The larger point is – they should never have been allowed to stand, let alone prosper.

    Capitalism running out of steam perhaps, trying to generate paper profits, any kind of profits, so long as it’s profits?

    You tell me!

  • Les Slater

    “Except when corporate interests start being perceived as being in conflict with national interests.”

    The modern capitalist state is an instrument of rule of the capitalist class as a whole, not just conjectural interests of any subset. The mechanisms of the government include the various branches where the needs of particular capitalists, groups thereof and other classes fight out policies and enforcement.

    “Politics, in spite of it being a superstructure, rules.”

    But not independently of the economic base. When social revolution overturns the economic relations of the market a new superstructure will arise.

  • Les Slater

    Doug -312

    I see wishful thinking here. You see something that never really was. Are you talking about Reganism? That’s just pure nonsense. See the second paragraph of my 315. It didn’t happen the way you would wish because the capitalist class as a whole does not share your perspective or interests.

    Les

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

    If you mean to say that politicians happen to represent the ruling, economic class, being the lackeys, I have no quarrel with you.

    My argument simply is that when push comes to shove, the political has always had an upper hand over the economic. Which is to say, the interests of the State – for as long as we can still hold on to the idea of statehood – were always deemed supreme and therefore overriding the economic interests of any party comprising the State, no matter how influential or powerful. The King always ruled.

    Of course the economic base is not to be discarded or thought irrelevant. Still, it is subject to the whims and desires of the State.

  • Doug Hunter

    #314

    I don’t think so. It’s simply functioning as designed. Surely you haven’t missed the groundwork that free trade, the opening of new markets, and privately owned international businesses and corporations have laid. The strain we feel is the field being leveled between those of us who feel should work a unionized papershuffling job for $50K/year with those who slave away in a factory half the day for $12. The wealth is leaving this country and headed for places that need it and want it more… just as it should. We’re voting ourselves more bread and circuses from the treasury when we should be finding ways to innovate in energy and technology. Innovations, real ones (not 7 blades on your razor) are the only way out of this mess. Create clean energy, create better technology and you make the entire world a better place while maintaining your wealth. We can’t compete with our labor 25 to 1 so we must compete with our minds. If we cannot innovate we must prepare ourselves to meet in the middle the rest of the world in regards to our standard of living. In the end, we are not worth any more as a human being than that large swath who currently makes $1/day.

    As Les said, American workers consume more than they produce. That is wrong and cannot stand, we must prepare ourselves to not only accept less but pay off the tab we’re running up as we speak.

  • Doug Hunter

    #316 “I see wishful thinking here. You see something that never really was.”

    That can be said of the proponents of any of the major ideologies. We’ve never seen ‘true’ communism, or christianity, or free markets, etc., etc.

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

    Correct. The West’s only hope lies in the field of technology.

    The structural problem still remains: technology doesn’t call for massive employment, only the select few.

    The nature of capitalist expansion, Les’s reference to being their own “gravediggers” is not exactly off mark.

    All systems are bound to fail, and capitalism is no exception.

  • Les Slater

    “That can be said of the proponents of any of the major ideologies.”

    I can sympathize with you here. I may call myself a communist and quote Lenin but only to the point of making an argument, in this case that what we see here is not new. My real intention is to demonstrate that the current economic system is not working, there is no reason to think it will work and to look for ways to get beyond this. I will only look to Marx, Lenin and others to the extent that they help. Many Marxists along the way have been wrong. I have nothing to gain from refusing to face reality.

  • Doug Hunter

    #320

    I’ve got to run, it was good chatting with you and Les. We’re farming out our employment now because we are comparitively wealthy, once the world is more balanced it won’t be efficient, we won’t be able to afford it, and those jobs will come back here. Once the Chinese earn as much as us it won’t make sense to pay the same to build it over there then ship it thousands of miles, we’ll just reopen or build a factory here. Hopefully, in addition to that type of job coming back jobs in the creative, performance, and entertainment variety will be well supported. We shall see, or our children will.

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

    Let me cite from a pdf file referenced earlier:

    THE RISE AND FALL OF NEOLIBERAL GLOBALIZATION

    The term “globalization” stands out as the hegemonic concept of the neoliberal ideology, reflecting one of the main items in the current political economy agenda. This buzz-word seems to have a spiritual power in its own right as it provides a center-force directing our daily discourse on economic, social, political, and cultural relations.
    The concept is mostly revealed as part of a modern project on “citizenship” along with references to such slogans as: “being a citizen of the globalized village” and “adjusting to the needs of the global markets”. In this sense, the term itself carries a dual conceptual meaning: a definition, and a policy recipe. As a definition, the term refers to the increased integration of the world’s commodity and finance markets and its cultural and social values. Within the context of this definition, liberalization of the commodity trade and financial flows yield the narrowest economic implications of the globalization process. At a more general level, this process entails“… a programme for destroying collective structures which may impede the pure market logic” (Bourdieu, 1998). In order to sanctify the power of the markets in the name of economic efficiency, this “infernal machine” requires the elimination of administrative or political barriers which limit the owners of capital in their quest for maximization of individual profit, which, in turn has been upheld as the supreme indicator of rationality” (ibid).

    —————–

    I consider the above propaganda, an exercise in fuzzy thinking. To my mind, globalization is not anyone’s expressed agenda, not anyone’s expressed doing. Simply a fact of life, something that’s happening regardless.

    Consequently, the author’s account of the phenomenon, rooting it in some kind of transparent reason aiming to highlight the obvious is far-fetched.

    Not all that happens is the direct result of human agency; a great many things we face is simply a matter of unintended consequences.

  • John Wilson

    Capitalists love Free markets the way cannibals love missionaries. With their great financial resources they move into a Free Market, subjugate it, and establish a monopoly, which is the pure form of capitalism.

  • Mark

    At every turn I see reasons you should appreciate the market, it’s redistrubutive power, it’s attempt to kill parasitic financial firms, and it’s leveling the playing field on the macro and micro levels.

    Sorry that I’m reading this thread as you are leaving, Doug. The collateral damage resulting from the (necessarily) boom and bust games played out by your marketeers is one of the issue which for me outweighs the system’s positives. I would’ve thought that we could’ve designed a better self-regulating mechanism after all these years of ‘systems analysis’. What’s your explanation for this failure?

    Once the Chinese earn as much as us it won’t make sense to pay the same to build it over there then ship it thousands of miles, we’ll just reopen or build a factory here.

    And in the meantime, while it’s hard to get reliable information out of China concerning the condition of workers over there, last I was able to determine, they were getting shafted by rifs (and flooded mines) without a ‘safety net’.

  • Mark

    …enjoy your IRAs, 401s and other investment incomes.

  • Doug Hunter

    #325

    To your first point, I certainly don’t have all the answers. There’s plenty of blame to go around. Speculation, greed, inflated prices, resource imbalances. I’m a bear on this stuff, I wonder if almost everything is a bubble. I live in an area with horse farms for crying out loud. They see a million dollar horse, I see a money eating liability that that doesn’t even have intrinsic food value because it’s illegal to use for that purpose. I don’t know what’s worse though. A capitalist bust means too much of something too cheap, other systems tend to fight more with too little stuff that’s too expensive. I’d rather be up and down than down and out (how’s that for sloganeering?).

    To your second point. I suspect that as nations, including China, become more wealthy, further removed from abject poverty, and less desperate that they would follow the trajectory that most everyone else has towards adopting more modern safety standards and easier working conditions. Desperate starving people don’t give a shit about 40 hour workweeks or safety standards. It’s after the basic needs are met that a populaton starts to consider that. That’s part of my belief that you provide people resources and opportunity first, then those political goals will naturally follow. The reverse simply doesn’t work in my opinion.

  • Doug Hunter

    #326

    Not sure who that was directed at. If it was me, I don’t have an IRA or 401K or pension and own no public stock. I don’t put a lot of faith in the greedy folks on Wall St.

  • Mark

    #326 was a general pissing into the ethical wind. Nothing personal.

    A capitalist bust means too much of something too cheap…

    I understand the temptation to think of crisis in the abstract, but remember that these are people that we’re talking about.

    I suspect that a general crisis isn’t far off — not pie in the sky.

  • Doug Hunter

    #329 I suspect that a general crisis isn’t far off — not pie in the sky.

    Could be. Barring major technological breakthroughs, I’m expecting (hoping for?) more along the lines of long term stagnation than a general collapse.

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

    It’s not exactly as though the world lacked in natural resources or in productive capacity to spread relative prosperity throughout the globe.

    The fact that this isn’t what’s happening, or happening fast enough, is perhaps the greatest failure of the system.

    Any thoughts?

  • Les Slater

    I wouldn’t depend too much on high tech to keep the U.S. competitive. Check this out.

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

    Can you provide a gist of the article linked above?

  • Les Slater
  • Les Slater

    Sorry, I read list when you said gist.

    It is a glimpse at the tendency for fall in rate of profit in one industry. Especially read the last paragraph to see how they plan to squeeze you for their profits. In other words binding contracts with heavy penalty for early termination. Since value of product in fast changing technology is often perceived as obsolete, people object and this is issue for FCC at moment.

  • Les Slater

    From a capitalist industry perspective, of course.

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

    Is this a representative picture of the prevailing practice(s) throughout the industry?

    And secondly, when I think of technological breakthroughs/innovation, I mean it a a broad sense: e.g., new/improved techniques in food production, nanotechnology, things of that sort.

    PC and the internet are the kind of examples I have in mind. They have changed the world.

  • Les Slater

    The PC and internet face similar problems. Intel has been quite successful but AMD had garnered market share in recent past is threatening on some fronts at the present. These are very high stakes games and there is very little room for any slips.

    The internet itself is a little more complex. There are costs, hardware, software, delivery infrastructure etc. Much of the cost recovery, profit model is very dependent on advertising. Advertising has greatly shifted from print to electronic but revenue will be further pressured by the tendency of employment to be on shakier and shakier grounds.

    I’ve been following nanotechnology for quite a few years. I met K. Eric Drexler back in 1986. Things have come a long way since then but progress has been slow. At this point nano is NEEDED in some areas just to keep technology progressing. This and other very radical technologies are needed to keep Moore’s law intact.

    New and improved food production? The complexity and scale here have led to many problems, many recquiring massive recalls.

    And the enforcement and attempt to enforce intelectual property of some this technology is causing other problems.

  • Doug Hunter

    I still hold out hope that a major breakthrough in energy will occur, either in storage methods or in production. That could usher in a serious global boom, I think oil is in it’s way to becoming a limiting factor.

  • Les Slater

    Doug, I think energy should be free.

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

    Great comment, Les – but I was trying to focus on changing the face of the world economy.

    PC, for example, opened a great many kinds of jobs not available before – mostly for freelancers – in graphic design, self-publishing, etc.

    So what I am getting at, just like the invention of a steam engine put a different face on the industrial revolution and what a PC has done by way of technological revolution, something of that nature is still possible in the future. And we can’t tell offhand what momentous effects it can have.

    But more to a general point, however, technological innovation is supposed to reduce the need for manpower (not a sexist use) and increase overall productivity. And so the question remains: this should translate into growing prosperity worldwide, yet somehow it doesn’t.

    Remember the talk of “office automation” in the sixties? People have thought it would lead to reduction of the workweek from forty to thirty-five, eventually to thirty hours; and this, too, didn’t materialize.

    So here’s a question to you: Is the wealth that is being produced doesn’t “trickle down,” so as to become “the wealth of nations,” for one reason mainly, namely that it’s being appropriated by the capitalists?

    In other words, could the problem with the system be that simple?

  • Les Slater

    “In other words, could the problem with the system be that simple?”

    Just the fact that the capitalists appropriate the wealth? The answer is more complex than that.

    Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand has no concern for a just distribution of wealth. Some will argue the opposite. Some will argue that it’s government interference with the freedom of the Invisible Hand that’s the problem.

    I have a lot of personal experience as well as a broader observation of the workings of capital. It is the nature of competition itself that is the heart of the matter. When there is a choice of which of two or more products that serve a particular need is to be made some very serious complexities come into place. In the simplest of scenarios where each is equivalent one might choose the least expensive, even if that price difference is slight. Again, from a simplistic approach you could say that the development and production costs of the more expensive one might have been totally wasted.

    Complexities come in when investments consider some of these factors. The first is to invest in machinery and talent to get a product that will cost less to produce. Sounds good so far. Second talent will be sought to convince the market that these products have value beyond the obvious. The second has had a tendency to create markets for products that have had little, no or even harmful attributes. The huge investments in marketing tobacco products comes to mind.

    As we discussed earlier finance capital has come to dominate the decisions made here. Finance capital both increases the pressure to make profits in the manufacturing realm plus also to distort the decisions on what is to be produced and when profits become difficult in the actual production of commodities, useful or not, then the tendency to speculate on all sorts of derivative instruments.

    This is all very complicated and those that have skills in finance will attract ever increasing wealth away from what useful products have been produced.

    It is a combination of the costs to maintain this system and the use of productive capacity of labor to produce the useless that keeps the majority of us moving backwards.

  • Les Slater

    I’m surprised that no one has objected to my #340.

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

    In the ideal and abstract sense, the notion of market (i.e., in there being a market for anything) is coincidental with the notion of (human) need, an innocuous notion in and of itself, do you not agree?

    So the next question arises. Granted, the system lends itself to a proliferation of “artificial markets” – a practice otherwise characterized as “social waste,” which, among other things, was one of the objects that a planned, Soviet-type of economy tried to do away with – is there another way of ridding the system of wasting its productive capacity on useless endeavors and proliferation of duplicate products (such as toothpaste) other than by means of government control?

    Can we create a class of responsible capitalists – in the idealistic, Ayn Rand kind of sense – or is the entire notion an oxymoron?

  • John Wilson

    I can’t believe anyone still believes (or ever believed, for that matter) the Ayn Rand ideas. One experience reading her turgid prose and shallow ideas should be enough to cure anyone.

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

    She continues to be popular among the young, John and she is being read.

    And if you consider the context of “collectivism” which provided the backdrop for her characters – a strawman, no doubt, but not entirely unjustified (she and Hannah Arendt were both responding to totalitarianism, just as George Orwell had) – the protagonists, however idealized, cut an attractive figure.

  • Les Slater

    “Can we create a class of responsible capitalists – in the idealistic, Ayn Rand kind of sense – or is the entire notion an oxymoron?”

    I’ve known and do know a few capitalists personally. A couple I consider my personal friends. I have met some of the largest captains of industry. I do not see any of them as bad people. What I’ve said earlier is that they have no or very little choice in what they do.

    My first political instincts were to the right and very pro capitalist. My first ideological introduction was through reading Atlas Shrugged. I read the rest of Ayn Rand after that. I subscribed to the Objectivists Newsletter.

    In general, from a very young age, my temperament has been scientific. This ultimately lead to conflicts with, and my rejection of Rand’s reactionary idealism.

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

    So you’re saying, then, that they’re caught up in the game, or to push the envelope further, that personal qualities/characteristics don’t really matter?

  • Les Slater

    Precisely.

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

    It must be the system, then, which turns humans against their best instincts.

    And if so, you may be right in that we must look at the idea of competition as the presumed best in human motivation and the operating principle upon which to construct a just and equitable society.

  • Les Slater

    Yes.

  • Les Slater

    And, BTW, it is the Invisible Hand that dictates the level of the pervasive ideological bombardment that IT is best for all.

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

    There is still the matter of harnessing human productive activity under another banner.

    Two possibilities suggest themselves: (1) imposing another system by force or fiat; (2) changing “human nature.”

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

    The “invisible hand” theory is sophisticated one, to be sure. It falls in the range of “invisible hand” explanations – in contrast with the rather naive and simplistic theories which account for events in terms of human actions and human agents alone, “conspiracy theories” in the most vulgar sense.

    Edmund Burke may have been the first to advance such an account of human behavior when speaking of the conservative norms and how they tend to contribute to the stability of human life and institutions.

  • Les Slater

    Not by fiat. It is in the interests of the majority of us that we get beyond this. Since the defenders of the system have no solutions except for us to fight each other to distract from its failure and this has its limitations, then we will begin to think and act in our own interests. Any reactionary opposition to this will be seen for just what it is. A defense of a defensless system by a naked minority. The system will not stand.

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

    No argument there. But there’s still a matter of adequate replacement, i.e., of harnessing productive activity under some other principle.

  • Les Slater

    It is not that complicated. The majority, through democratic means, will decide a new set of priorities that must be met. The implementing of these priorities will be a conscious act.

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

    But this action implies a consciousness change for the most part of the electorate and, what carries an even greater stick, a radical change in spending habits so as to become responsible consumers.

    Meanwhile, we don’t object to the proliferation of different brands of toothpaste and social waste in general.

  • Les Slater

    This will take time to perfect but initially it’s not that difficult a problem.

  • Les Slater

    If Walmart can decide that an excess proliferation of brands is not good, I’m sure the general population can also.

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

    Perhaps, but your directionality is off, I think. Why should Walmart make such a decision as long as profitability doesn’t suffer.

    So either we have to assume enlightened directorship of Walmart or, what looks like a more plausible hypothesis, that such a decision will be forced not from top-down but vice versa. And this implies a change of consciousness

  • Les Slater

    Walmart’s decision was based solely on profit motivation. The economic downturn has driven its competitors to reduce prices. Walmart was forced likewise. The cost of shelf space, stocking and handling is real so triming choice reduces cost.

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

    Do you have any links?

    Another disturbing thought, that capitalism appears to operate at the peak of efficiency only during downturns.

  • Les Slater

    Depends on you define efficiency. A capitalist would rejoin that they are not utilizing capacity which they have invested in. This often results in the destruction of some of that capicity and/or that of the products produced.

  • Les Slater

    Do I have any links? Yes but have been having trouble to get them to work.

    Since Wal-Mart took measures to reduce brands they found negative consequences and brought back many, if not all brands they dispensed with.

    An article I was trying to link was ‘When Brands Disappear, Shoppers Do Too.’ on mainstreet.com. Article is dated March 17. There are many subsequent articles dealing with Wal-Mart’s cost cutting.

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

    Here’s the link, Les.

  • Les Slater

    Roger #356

    “But there’s still a matter of adequate replacement, i.e., of harnessing productive activity under some other principle.”

    I found a Science magazine podcast that might shed some light on your concern. It is the part of the podcast that covers the Evolution of Human Behavior.

    Listen.

  • Les Slater

    I don’t know how to use link html to index into the appropriate point of an mp3. The two reports in question start about a third of the way through.

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

    I listened to the first part. Will resume it therefore.

  • Les Slater

    re 367 – ‘Evolution of Human Behavior’ starts at 11:16 into the podcast. The second report which is about a computer contest looking for best strategies to advance a society by making choices between innovation and copying. This starts at 20:48.

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

    Will respond, Les. Meanwhile, keeping the thread alive.

  • John Wilson

    Capitalists will happily point out that capitalism HAS worked and need not be replaced.

    But capitalism MUST be controlled and confined. It is only the delusions of extremists that capitalism can be unregulated: eventually it must destroy society in a final battle of capitalistic titans.

    We know how to do it. For example, anti-trust. If we had used anti-trust on financial companies they would not have become too-big-to-fail.

    Had we actually enforced coal mining regulations we would not have had the latest catastrophe that resulted in so many deaths.

    As these excesses of unleashed capitalism unfold there will be more agitation, perhaps resulting in the kind of bloody revolution so fondly predicted by the marxists.

    It needn’t be that way, but the capitalist excesses that have been enabled by the current political notion of “hands off of business” are very dangerous.

  • Mark

    #
    356 – roger nowosielski
    Apr 10, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    No argument there. But there’s still a matter of adequate replacement, i.e., of harnessing productive activity under some other principle.

    #
    357 – Les Slater
    Apr 10, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    It is not that complicated. The majority, through democratic means, will decide a new set of priorities that must be met. The implementing of these priorities will be a conscious act.

    Les, this seems a bit optimistic. So, for your enjoyment.

  • Les Slater

    Mark, necessity will impose itself on our conscious actions.

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

    OK, Mark, Les and Cindy.

    Here’s a full transcript of the Science Magazine interviews referred to be Les – a pdf file.

  • Les Slater

    Some humor, Goldman: ‘We would never intentionally mislead anyone’

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

    Well, Les. I’m not certain where you want to go with your #367 (as per #375 transcript). Do we need a general hypothesis to account for the mechanics of human learning – be it by way of “working memory” or “social learning” (via copying, for example)? Is there more to it than an expression of a blind hope?

    Why not simply take present thinking (and language) about our social/political/economic problems and simply extrapolate by projecting or imagining the future?

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

    So Les, do you want to continue with this detour into Darwinism? What is the payoff?