Today on Blogcritics
Home » Culture and Society » If You Control the Past, You Can Control the Future

If You Control the Past, You Can Control the Future

Please Share...Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Pin on Pinterest0Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

This week the Texas State Board of Education will be meeting to consider recommendations from a review panel tasked with looking at revisions for the history curriculum and textbooks in the state's public schools. Since the days of Mel and Norma Gabler, this periodic process has been the focus of national attention because the Texas school system is so large that its decisions dictate what publishers will put in their books and what school districts around the country will do with their curricula.

While the Gablers censorship efforts focused mostly on trying to muddy the biology curriculum with creationism and remove suggestive material from the English texts, the focus of their successors has shifted to something closer to my personal area of concern, the issue of whether the United States was formed as a "Christian Nation."

Among the many attempts to revise history to fit a political agenda, the efforts of Christian extremists to distort the intentions of our nation's founders are particularly pernicious. Contrary to the writings of the founders, from their personal journals and letters to the key founding documents of the nation, these fanatical propagandists would have us believe that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who were outspoken in their disdain for organized religion, intended for the United States to be a Christian theocracy.

This is the "Big Lie" for the ages, issued by people who believe that if they can redefine the past they can control the nation's future. They know that liberty is based on truth and believe that if they can change the truth they can then destroy liberty and essentially rewrite the Constitution. They've seen how the political left has used the schools and the teachers unions to try to sway rising generations and they see this as their opportunity to do the same.

Most troubling is that the Texas State Board of Education, which has an enormously important responsibility to safeguard the educations of the nation's children, has put people on the panel which is reviewing history textbooks who are either grossly unqualified for the job or driven by agendas which are hostile to the truth. Three of the six members are legitimate academics, but the other three represent interests whose priority is not historical accuracy.

Professor Daniel Dreisbach of American University is at least an academic, though he is not a trained as a historian. He has written several books attempting to distort Thomas Jefferson's beliefs regarding the separation of church and state and dispute the accepted interpretation of the First Amendment to the Constitution. David Barton is the head of a group called WallBuilders which basically has the agenda of turning America into a Christian theocracy. Barton uses very selective sources and quotes taken out of context to try to make his argument that the U.S. was founded as a vehicle for religion-based government. Reverend Peter Marshall is an evangelical preacher who has said "We're in an all-out moral and spiritual civil war for the soul of America, and the record of American history is right at the heart of it." These three revisionists see their role on this panel as being to rewrite history with the express goal of putting an end to the principle of the separation of church and state, contrary to the intent of the founders and the best interests of our modern, religiously impartial nation.

I have no argument with those who want to change the emphasis of the text books to focus more on the religious groups who came to America to avoid persecution. That's a legitimate area of study which has been neglected in recent textbook editions. I think that their ideas and especially those of some of their greatest forgotten leaders like Roger Williams, who wrote "forced religion stinks in God's nostrils," ought to get more exposure. Yet even those puritans believed vehemently in the idea of the separation of church and state. They moved to America expressly for the purpose of removing themselves from a state which sought to dictate how they should worship. The wisest among them, like Roger Williams and William Penn were absolute in their belief in religious toleration and freedom of faith.

Just as we ought to give fair and honest coverage to the role which faith played in bringing people to America in their struggle for religious and political freedom, we have to give fair recognition to the influence of the enlightenment and the move away from organized religion and towards a more rational view of the universe. It was that trend which led to the new political ideas which inspired the revolution and were the basis of the government of new nation, and while they may have included a respect for the moral values of Christianity, they also included a strong suspicion of and even hostility towards organized religion and especially state-sponsored religion.

As a historian I find any effort to propagandize history by any group to be troubling. We have already seen the political left trying to subvert the curriculum and filling the heads of our children with arrant nonsense and Marxist ideology. But it is no better to undermine education with lies from the right than it is with lies from the left. Religious indoctrination has no place in the schools. Textbooks and course plans should be based on historical fact, not revisionist fantasy. Those who would rewrite history are enemies of liberty and are using the tactics of tyrants to attack the foundation of our constitutional republic.

The Texas State Board of Education doesn't get a lot of attention until an issue like this comes around, but this week they will face protesters on both sides of this issue and pressure from groups with agendas to promote. I hope that they will try to listen to the voices of history and to the wisdom of the founders of this nation rather than the advocates of extremism and theocracy.

Powered by

About Dave Nalle

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

    Good reporting, Dave. I did some work for Wallbuilders back in the beginning of the decade providing closed captions for some of their educational videos in this vein. I am certain as a historian it would have given you a mild headache.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/tom-carter/ Tom Carter

    Great article, Dave. I couldn’t agree more with the statement, “…it is no better to undermine education with lies from the right than it is with lies from the left.”

    There is objective truth in history, and the job of a real historian is to find it and report it accurately. Unfortunately, professional historians aren’t usually called upon by ideologues of left or right because historical truth will always offend someone.

    Public schools are a political lightning rod, and as long as political school boards are in charge we’re going to see the kinds of abuses you refer to. But I don’t know how else to organize the management of public-funded schools. The ideal would be an arrangement in which public schools presented objective information, while religious groups funded their own schools to continue the religious training that takes place at home. Problem is, I have no idea how to get there.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Good article Dave!

    I agree with many points you have made..and very clearly too.

    However:

    #1 They’ve seen how the political left has used the schools and the teachers unions to try to sway rising generations and they see this as their opportunity to do the same.
    How has the teachers union swayed generation? Please give at least one example…

    #2 the Texas State Board of Education has put people on the panel which is reviewing history textbooks who are either grossly unqualified for the job or driven by agendas which are hostile to the truth. Three of the six members are legitimate academics, but the other three represent interests whose priority is not historical accuracy.
    What do you think make up all the school boards in this country? Educators, academic professionals? No, farmers, ranchers and business people mostly and their agenda? education? No, they are there to keep the taxes down!
    Maybe the lay people should start making up the hospital boards so we can lower the cost of health care..Yes, wouldn’t that make you feel confident in the hospital.:)
    to know the people in charge of the bottom line don’t have medical degrees at all!

    #3 We have already seen the political left trying to subvert the curriculum and filling the heads of our children with arrant nonsense and Marxist ideology.
    Again Dave, Name one example of this…

    I don’t think you can.

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

    What the ‘Objective Truth’ is:

    As a historian I find any effort to propagandize history by any group to be troubling.

    Yes, you and apparently, Tom Carter. Which is why, Tom renames his (and I’d bet likely your) preferred propaganda the ‘objective’ truth.

    Safeguarding children’s education in public schools? Objective history from school text books? You have to be joking.

    History, often, and always in public school texts, is limited by the historian’s own POV. I would not want anyone’s children subjected to history as taught by people who don’t understand this, as you cannot help children develop the skills they need to critically question historians. Your own personal acceptance of things is no measure of objectivity. It’s more of a measure of your inability to question your own brainwashing.

    In the USA–a place where land was stolen through murder, human beings were owned, women were chattel, those without the status of wealth could go hang–some white, wealthy men are revered, as if they stood for anything but for their own benefit.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    #4 amen to that comment Cindy!

    I think Dave believes that by teaching children to solve problems using critical thinking and questioning the validity of the information being taught will somehow make them become “Marxists!”

    You really gave an accurate description of just how this country was formed!

    It is time to teach the truth!

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dave –

    As with Jeannie above, I wan to see examples of how the left has been ‘subverting the curriculum and filling the heads of children with…Marxist ideology’. You’re an historian, so I would expect that you wouldn’t be so quick to make such statements that you couldn’t back up.

    Now when it comes to ‘arrant nonsense’ being in the history books, I AGREE with you – anyone with a decent knowledge of history has seen it from both the Left and the Right; that from the Left being PC changes in the history of the civil right struggle and the factors that led to the Civil War. But ‘Marxist ideology’? That’s an off-the-cuff accusation that I really don’t think you can back up. I suspect you got on a roll and were thinking more about your personal war against the ‘treasonous saboteurs of the Left’ and less about being accurate and factual.

    But I’m calling you on the ‘Marxist ideology’. Proof, please.

    Oh – and I can point out that the Left doesn’t try to deny evolution, and I don’t think there are any blue states where the ‘Christians’ have been able to insert creationism or ‘intelligent design’ into the curriculum. I think it’s safe to say that’s purely a red state phenomenon.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    We were taught in my catholic school that America was formed by people breaking away from England…no offense to Christopher or the Doc….

    but the truth and very ugly truth is that we have been controlled by white men of English decent all along..

    Italians were stigmatized by painting them as organized crime..something they still try to tie to the labor unions!

    What motivates Dave to attack unions at every opportunity?

    I’ll say it again…If it weren’t for the American Labour Movement we would all have serving trays right now!

    and Dave would be carrying one also!

    shame on you Dave..people died so you could earn enough to buy that swimming pool…

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Thanks Glen! Dave will probably answer your question.
    I’ll look for it later :)

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

    I am wondering how one excludes a brilliant thinker like Marx from an ‘objective’ accounting of history.

    See Bob Lloyd’s excellent review: Book Review: Zombie Capitalism: Global Crisis and the Relevance of Marx by Chris Harman

  • The Obnoxious American

    Jeannie Danna,

    In answer to your question #1, the results can be seen in the most recent generation and their brainwashed vote for socialist change – all without questioning the actual platform of the candidate. The people and media basically turned a blind eye when Obama said he wanted to spread the wealth around. Remember the incredulous response from the dems that it was absurd to call it socialism? Not so absurd now that we’ve really been able to see the sausage making.

    Dave,

    Overall I agree with the article, but what are your thoughts on the whole point of “the creator” endowing rights, hence man cannot redefine them? While I am no fan of creationism, I also think that the godless dems would lead us in the other extreme, which is a road ending in tyranny.

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

    Where did I suggest that the misdeeds of our ancestors should be left out of the textbooks? Certainly each historian has a point of view. That’s one reason why most credible textbooks are written by a group of authors rather than just one person.

    To answer another point which was brought up, it’s clear in my article, but let me repeat. This is not the SBOE we’re talking about, which does have politicians and businessmen and maybe even farmers on it. It’s a panel of “experts” which includes a travelling evangelist, a lawyer who wants to rewrite the history of the constitution and a guy whose main claim to fame is making videos about his fantasy version of the past.

    Maybe I should mention my qualifications. I’ve worked on a history textbook as a researcher for one of he authors, taught history for almost 2 decades, served on a textbook approval board at the college level and was a PTA vice president and on the advisory committee for my daughter’s public school. So I’ve been involved in this process from every angle.

    That said, my hostility to unions comes from experience. Unions did perform a valuable function in the early days of industrialization, but Samuel Gompers and his successors saw that the way to great wealth and power was to create a labor monopoly and use the same tactics as the monopolistic businesses of the early 20th century and the result is that today like some of those businesses, unions are out of control. They are coercive, abusive of power and do not represent the best interests of their members who usually get little or no say in their policies which are designed to enrich and empower their leaders. The education unions are particularly dangerous because their self-serving policies harm our kids in school. They adamantly oppose any form of school choice, including things as simple as allowing choice between public schools and they do everything they can to discourage parent involvement and influence on the way schools are run. They also support the increasing centralization of school districts and the growth of educational bureaucracy.

    As for what effect all of this has in what’s taught to the kids, I’d suggest a comparison of recent versions of a major textbook like The American Pageant (one of the most widely used) with older versions. There has been an increasing evolution of the text towards devoting more and more space to praise of the policies of the left and politically hostile portrayal of the political right. More emphasis and praise for FDR, ironically far less space devoted to JFK. You see praise of Jimmy Carter and increasing dismissal of Reagan. Certain aspects of history have completely disappeared or been downplayed while emphasis on indian massacres (which were both few in number and brief in duration) and exploitation of workers (hardly unique to America) have expanded. Columbus is now painted as an utter villain rather than receiving any credit as a visionary. The Viking explorations are completely written out. The early settlers are now genocidal maniacs. Indians are once again noble savages. And unions get a full chapter when they prviously got a few paragraphs.

    Dave

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

    I am wondering how one excludes a brilliant thinker like Marx from an ‘objective’ accounting of history.

    Where did I say to exclude Marx? He should be included in an appropriate way, just like any other major historical figure. Space should also be devoted to the millions his ideology has killed and the billions it has enslaved and degraded.

    Dave

  • The Obnoxious American

    Yes, let’s definitely include Marx as he was a brilliant thinker. Maybe we can have a brilliant thinker section with Marx, Hitler, Mao, Bernie Madoff and the rest of the brilliant scum of the earth who have ruined the lives of so many with their hope and change rhetoric.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    #11 Dave,

    I can spit out long sentences with many words also! this doesn’t make them true.

    I have friends from the Seneca Nation that could probably help you revise that statement about the American Indians slaughter in this country..a few?
    Indians are what?????

    OMG, I feel bad for your kids; to be mislead like this…

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Cindy, I did not mean to insult Marx..:(

    How this man can wrap the word socialism around anything he doesn’t like is beyond me..

    more on Dave’s article:

    We should be hearing less and less about those precious and fictitious Reaganomics..another word for personal self-serving and greed!

    It’s true people are sheep because only a sheep would allow someone to say “Let me make and keep all the money little fella. I promise I’ll piss some down over your head..trickle trickle oh..that’s all I can spare!”

    Where was Dave’s voice when Regan allowed the nutrition standards to be lowered in the school lunch program which is still the only true source of food for so many children..especially in his state?

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Ronald Reagan ushered in the beginning of the downward spiral of the middle class..open you eyes.

    He was plugged in there because he was an Actor..like they tried to plug in Palin..anyone watch 60 minutes last night?

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

    Politics is showbiz, Jeannie – America’s great pastime.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Jeannie,

    I see you’re still getting that rust off. Let me help you on this. I was there when Reagan was president and he did a phenominal job. It was a literal sea change from the malaise of the carter administration. Literally and figuratively.

    Further, people who earn should be allowed to keep what they have. And when they spend what they earn this goes into the cycle of money, paying for goods and services, which result in jobs for people who in turn buy goods and services and so on. Taking money from those who earned it, at gun point, as liberal democrats are won’t to do, may sound good for those who didn’t earn it. But leads to a society where people see no reason to bother earning, because either it gets taken from them by government, or it gets given to them by government. If you need to learn a bit more about this, I suggest reading up on the lines for toilet paper in the soviet union.

    Regards,

    OA

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

    I have friends from the Seneca Nation that could probably help you revise that statement about the American Indians slaughter in this country..a few?
    Indians are what?????

    I was talking specifically about the massacres of indians during the indian wars, which have been much overplayed. But I would like to see balanced coverage, including particularly attention to the fact that most indian deaths were the result of disease spread by accident rather than any intention. And some attention, perhaps, to the genocidal wars carried out by indian tribes against each other and against early settlers as well.

    Dave

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

    Perhaps, Dave, you’re being overly impressed with a view of history as some kind of objective and indisputable account. As with everything, there are at least two sides to any story, and history is no different. How it’s written does depend on one’s point of view, and points of view abound. The very notion of “truth” is multifaceted.

    There is no such as one account of the events; there are many, often conflicting, accounts, and each represents some kernel of truth. Not to mention the fact that the art of historical writing is the art of interpretation. Every historical account involves interpretation.

    So my position is – the more (credible) accounts, the better. What we should be teaching our children is the art of critical thinking. Let each and every individual decide the version of history they find most appealing and convincing.

    Anything wrong with that?

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    #19 Dave,

    This is the American history that you defend.

    Let’s look at all the people that were displaced and slaughtered by the creators of this new country…

    The Indian and Mexican people were outright murdered if they protested the invasion of their home lands. The Chinese where brought over as cheap labour, the Irish were accepted primarily as cops. The Italians made a nice pair of shoes-they still do! The Swedes oh, they are wonderful wood workers. The Latinos are good housekeepers and gardeners and the Polish people are finally respected for their intellect!

    The Africans, they got the short end of the stick..you all used them as chattel..how far back can you go with Ancestry . com

  • The Obnoxious American

    Roger,

    I guess that is why they call it His-Story.

    I totally agree with your point. Unfortunately, our here in the northeast, we’re too busy teaching the kids to sing things like “Mmmmm mmmm mmmm, Barack Hussien Obama” to be spending any time on extraneous crap like critical thinking…

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Roger, I like your #20..this last comment is a generalization.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    #22 Obnoxious,

    You should try some critical thinking there fella..it would do you a world of good.

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

    Actually, it’s a misnomer, OA, pushed by some ignorant Christians.

    Here’s the actual derivation (I believe Herodotus was the first to have coined the word):

    From Ancient Greek ??????? (historia) “learning through research, narration of what is learned” ??????? (histore?) “to learn through research, to inquire” ????? (hist?r) “the one who knows, the expert, the judge” Proto-Indo-European *widt?r “the one that knows” [Wiki]

  • The Obnoxious American

    Jeannie,

    Welcome to the world. Life isn’t fair. Throughout humanity and even within nature exploitation is the name of the game. Some cavemen unfairly killed other cavemen, who lost merely because of a lack of advantage. Humans evolved as a result. With each passing generation this pattern was repeated, all the way up to this very day, resulting in the wonders of civilization as we know it.

    These days, at least we have cash to pay for our exploitation which is a major step in the right direction. Interestingly, though, the same left who derides the exploitation in history is also against people earning money for their inventions (i.e. sharing the wealth), which thus far is the only real mechanism for addressing the inequities inherent in all of this exploitation that’s been going on since the very birth of life.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Roger,

    Thanks for that we learn something new each day!

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

    RE: #25, apparently, BC doesn’t allow Greek script.

    So here is the link.

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

    And the millions your ideology has killed? And the billions it has enslaved and degraded? American Indians, African Slaves, Neo-liberal Capitalist expansion across the globe driving people into various slave positions, the degradation of human values and solidarity into a caricature defined by normalized antisocial behavior and mental illness, ETC.

    And what about what this ideology has done to the brains of people like yourself, Dave? That is pretty degrading in itself–twisting people into supporting a system where, as Harvard professor Cornel West once said, allows the three wealthiest people in the world to own more than the bottom 48 countries. Capitalism was born on slavery, genocide, and colonialism. It never comes into existence otherwise. It is a system that exploits those at the bottom. It causes people to dehumanize each other.

    How much space shall we give to these topics, Dave?

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

    Cindy, the following is a link to a great movie on the subject, Thunderheart.

    Make it a point to watch it.

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

    Thanks, Roger. That sounds like something worth seeing.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Cindy,

    Enjoy that computer you’re typing on? Or that internet connection, or the coffee you’re sipping while typing your inanity. See these are all the fruits of the exploitation you are so against. I’m not sure I see the millions killed or the billions enslaved by Dave’s ideology (or mine to the extent that they are similar). But what I do see is someone spouting views in support of a way of life that I suspect you probably wouldn’t want for yourself.

    Neo-liberal capitalism (which is an Alinsky style trick to make our current global system of free trade and capitalism sound rather deviant) has liberated more humans than any other system in the past via both direct compensation for labor, as well as in the benefits of technological improvement (such as your computer). And the current system would be fully liberating were it not for specific regimes (China is a good example) who are basically responsible for the living conditions of their people.

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

    15 –

    Don’t worry Jeannie, I am not a Marxist. :-)

    Though I do value his economic analysis, as far as I understand it. I think he was wrong about such ideas as withering away of states.

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

    Noxious,

    When my niece was about 3 years old, she was a passenger in my car. We were approaching her house from the opposite direction she was accustomed to. Having recently learned about right and left, she announced that her house was ahead on the right. I suggested her house was ahead on the left and that it was only on the right from the other direction. She pointed to a road sign, and validating her argument with the authority she vested in road signs, she said, “See that sign? That sign says* my house is on the right!”

    I find arguing with you and your reasoning about as valuable as I would have found arguing with her, had I chosen to argue with her. You also lack the cuteness factor. So, have a good life.

    *Generalization error, I think. I can’t read, apparently my aunt can’t either.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Cindy, #29 That was a good link!

    scary to think who might try to stifle the freedom we enjoy..and it’s not the communists! it’s us…

  • The Obnoxious American

    Cindy,

    Nice way to avoid responding to the points I’ve raised. I expected this level of response because, really, there isn’t much else for you to go to.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    OA –

    You’re such a great defender of capitalism – but do you really know what you’re talking about? Apparently not, because capitalism is an ECONOMIC system, and NOT a political system.

    Would you like to live in an extremely capitalist country where there’s NO universal health care, NO Social Security, NO welfare, NO food stamps, NO unemployment insurance, FEW unions (and the ones that do exist are strictly government-regulated), NO Medicare, very little regulation of business and finance, and NO argument against the death penalty? Does this sound like a really conservative place to live? Except for their abortion policy, it’s very conservative. It’s communist China.

    China is a heck of a lot more capitalist than America is. You can do almost any kind of business you want there with little or no regulation…as long a you don’t embarrass the government – that will get you a bullet in the brain.

    You want real capitalism? Go to any third-world country. Ask yourself why it is that most third-world countries are shining examples of unregulated capitalism, yet ALL first-world countries have many more regulations (and taxes) on their businesses?

    Why is that, OA? And while you’re at it, show me a single first-world modern democracy that operates with completely deregulated capitalism. (Conservatives really hate answering questions like that, I’ve found….)

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Glen, Your #37 hits the spot!

    I have been watching a documentary called Blood, Sweat & Takeaways on PLGN.

    It brings tears to my eyes while watching how others live so that we can pay 87 cents for a can of Tuna…it will be a long time before we eat any now!

    I have to defend President Obama..because what is the alternative? More unregulated greed? all these fools that defend corporate greed should go work in a Tuna factory for 67 cents a day!

    to show just how little value we place on small change, my keyboard doesn’t even have a cent sign on it!

  • The Obnoxious American

    Glenn

    That’s some pretty disingenuous commenting there. You actually said China is a capitalism! HA!

    Yes, capitalism is an economic system, and it’s also political. One need only look at the political differences between the right and the left in the US to understand that. I’m not going to get into a splitting of hairs with you on this point as it’s really a non-point.

    Sure, China uses capitalism, and pretty effectively I may add, when dealing with other countries. To suggest that China is a capitalist society on the other hand is a bit of a stretch.

    Lastly, did I ever say all regulations were bad? Did I say that ALL social services are bad?

    The choice here isn’t between all or none as you’d like to cast it. The choice (for Americans) is between the direction the liberals want to take this country, to a model where resources are shared, wealth is shared, the benefits of production are shared – socialism – and the direction the GOP wants, less government intervention, less government involvement, less taxes more private sector.

  • zingzing

    oa: “You actually said China is a capitalism! HA!”

    if you don’t think so, you haven’t put any thought into it. that place is the most commercialized, pure capitalistic place i’ve ever been. i went to a mall over there that was 7 stories tall and featured about 300 stores that were ALL selling the same type of stuff. that’s unfettered competition. (and total hell.)

    regulation over there is a joke. say you own a restaurant and you don’t want to deal with inspection, you just close up shop when the inspectors come by (sometimes with customers still inside), wait for them to leave, and go on. it’s expected. the inspectors know it, the owners know it. it’s just the game.

    china may have a communist government, but that doesn’t mean its society is communist anymore. it’s more the case that it’s a capitalist society with a nasty, totalitarian government trying to hold on to the power it has.

  • Baronius

    Four of the six committee members are academics. Professor Daniel Dreisbach teaches at American University and holds a Ph.D. in politics and a law degree.

    There isn’t much online about the other academics. Some sites note that the hispanic member specializes in Texas and Mexican history, and that he and the female member have been discussing the importance of minority representation, so maybe those two are the counterweight to Barton and Marshall. Committees are usually designed that way. Still, it is strange that there would be two people representing an evangelical leaning.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dave –

    [There is] More emphasis and praise for FDR, ironically far less space devoted to JFK.

    There’s something wrong with this? When FDR was president for fifteen years and led us through the Depression and WWII, while JFK was president for three years and could only lay claim to the Cuban missile crisis and was largely responsible for the Bay of Pigs and Vietnam? ANY historian worth his salt would pay FAR more attention to FDR than JFK…and if you don’t, you’re not worth your salt.

    You see praise of Jimmy Carter and increasing dismissal of Reagan.

    Jimmy Carter didn’t do a whole lot of good things – but not a whole lot of bad things, either (and giving up the Panama Canal didn’t turn out to be a bad thing). Other than winning the Cold War and rebuilding America’s patriotism (both of which were truly Great Things (and you know these are my true opinions)), Reagan did almost NOTHING good. Reaganomics? Disaster. Iran-Contra? Star Wars? Beirut? The 82-83 recession? Need I go on?

    Certain aspects of history have completely disappeared or been downplayed while emphasis on indian massacres (which were both few in number and brief in duration)

    Was the Trail of Tears brief in duration? And were the Native Americans’ forced exile to reservations few in number or brief in duration? Our kids need to know the wrong things we did. Our crimes do not compare to the grand scale of the Axis terror, but our kids need to know what we did wrong, just as German kids learn what the German kids did wrong.

    ‘Certain aspects of history’ have indeed completely disappeared – that’s the nature of humanity’s knowledge of history, and you know it. For instance, do history books describe the public support that many Americans – like the previous president’s grand-dad Vannevar Bush – had for the Nazi regime? Of course not. So your complaint can apply against both the Left and the Right.

    and [attention to our history of the] exploitation of workers (hardly unique to America) have expanded.

    And this is a bad thing? IIRC, you didn’t grow up in the South. Many of us who did have family who can remember sharecropping, who can remember the dark truth behind the lyrics:

    “Sixteen tons and whaddaya get?
    Another day older and deeper in debt.
    St. Peter dontcha call me ’cause I can’t come…
    I owe my soul to the company store!”

    Columbus is now painted as an utter villain rather than receiving any credit as a visionary.

    Funny – I’ve never heard of him described as an utter villain, but last I checked, every child knows we’ve still got a holiday with his name on it. That said, should we ignore what he did wrong in favor of what he did right? Do you really want me to make a list of the visionary accomplishments of despots? I’d start with Napoleon….

    The Viking explorations are completely written out.

    They weren’t in my high-school textbooks in the 70’s…but they’re in my son’s textbook last year.

    The early settlers are now genocidal maniacs. Indians are once again noble savages.

    The first sentence is absolutely, and the second sentence is somewhat true. Dave, once again you’re letting your emotion cloud reality. You give your qualifications as an historian, but wild claims like your first sentence really put your credibility into question.

    And unions get a full chapter when they prviously got a few paragraphs.

    And that is ABSOLUTELY appropriate, regardless of whether you love or hate unions, because of the overall effect they’ve had on American HISTORY.

    There has been an increasing evolution of the text towards devoting more and more space to praise of the policies of the left and politically hostile portrayal of the political right.

    Dave, one thing an historian is supposed to do is to give FACTS. Not what that historian thinks of as ‘truth’, but FACTS. Anyone who would claim the honored title of ‘historian’, yet allows himself to deliberately employ utter hyperbole as you have in your claims above…is not an historian.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Errata for #42 –

    The early settlers are now genocidal maniacs. Indians are once again noble savages.

    I replied to this particular claim by saying, “The first sentence is absolutely….” My reply should read, “The first sentence is absolutely FALSE.”

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    OA, I see you like to pick what program suites your needs..what’s the matter? Don’t you need help with food, shelter and Health Care?
    #39
    Did I say that ALL social services are bad?

    maybe someday your hand will be stretched out for help….:)

    of course in your little world there is no such thing as social programs good luck

  • The Obnoxious American

    Zing,

    I agree with what your characterization of China, but that is obviously NOT what I was talking about.

    First, there has never been a pure capitalist OR communist society in the history of man. And I’m not sure why anyone would try and turn the conversation to one of purity, not going to happen in either direction and is a silly point to argue in any case.

    Second, free markets require free consumers, and you simply cannot consider what China is, highly regulated, corrupt, tyrannical, as anything remotely resembling a free capitalist society. Again, they may use capitalist ideas but as you noted they are hardly an example of capitalism.

    Third, nefarious actions by the citizenry to get around limits in freedom doesn’t count. There was a capitalist black market in the U.S.S.R. but that didn’t make the Soviets capitalist either. What it does show is even in communist societies, people naturally tend to capitalist ideas, sometimes at the risk to their own lives. This is a lesson most of us learned when we witnessed what happened prior to the fall of the Soviet Union. Clearly however, some on this board are too young or infatuated with their ideas to learn these lessons of history.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Jeannie #44,

    Pretty lame response. I guess when my comments don’t jive with the strawman you are making of me in your mind, you drop my actual comments in favor of the strawman. To wit:

    I say: “Did I say that ALL social services are bad?”

    You say: “of course in your little world there is no such thing as social programs good luck”

    Cognitive dissonance anyone?

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    OA

    Your desperate for someone to agree with you here…Dave?

  • zingzing

    i think it’s pretty obvious that china, as a society, has embraced capitalism. its government is even giving the economy a wide berth to grow in whatever way it chooses. china is now a capitalist country, with the vestiges of its communist past slowly falling away.

    i saw no evidence of communist regulation of the consumers. i was not only amazed at the level of consumerism, but at the enthusiasm of the consumers. it was ridiculous. like it’s one big candy store. every place was packed. i’m sure there is an attempt to regulate, but regulation and corruption have just become another capitalist arm (but one that only the government profits from, while the business owners accept it as part of the game).

    it seems very obvious to me that china’s government is willing to let capitalism run very close to free as long as its this good for the economy. it’s the closest thing to a true free market that i’ve ever seen. miles beyond our version. in other ways, such as in their treatment of political dissenters, china hold on to the old ways. but to claim that the society of china is anything but capitalism and consumerism at its most ridiculous is just living in the past.

    i’m separating the people from their government, while you are not. but even china’s government appears to recognize what increasing capitalism has done for the country’s economy.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Jeannie,

    The moderators should really remove your last two posts which are not on topic, do not further the conversation, and seem to be personally directed at insulting Dave and myself.

    Sad showing. I’m here to discuss the topic with you whenever you are ready.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Zing,

    Once again, I don’t disagree with the points you’ve made, for the most part.

    That said, I don’t think either of us is holding up China as the ideal vision of a true capitalist society, whereas, Glenn quite clearly made the point that if capitalism is allowed to do it’s thing, you basically end up with China or some other anarchist third world society – an absurd point given what you said about China moving to capitalism from recent communism.

    From the consumer points you’ve raised, to the fact that the Chinese *could* pull the plug anytime they decide it’s not good for the state is the point here. Freedom is part and parcel with capitalism, and the Chinese with government controlled media and informtion, and the ability to put an end to all of this if they wish, means it’s far from a true, freely trading capitalism. None of this disagrees with the point I made earler (and you agreed with), that the Chinese certainly use capitalism to the benefit of their country.

    At the end of the day, as I said earlier, this discussion of pure capitalism, or what’s capitalism and what isn’t, is totally moot. The CHOICES Americans face is one of more or less. More socialism or less socialism. More free markets or less free markets. The fact that China (along with many euro states) is moving in the opposite direction than we are, towards more capitalism, towards less socialism, shows that perhaps us free market capitalist types were right all along. Problem is so many liberals in the US can’t seem to bring themselves to admit it, and we end up in absurd enchanges such as this one.

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

    And the millions your ideology has killed? And the billions it has enslaved and degraded?

    Cindy, my ideology doesn’t kill or enslave people. It sets them free and gives them opportunity.

    American Indians, African Slaves, Neo-liberal Capitalist expansion across the globe driving people into various slave positions, the degradation of human values and solidarity into a caricature defined by normalized antisocial behavior and mental illness, ETC.

    Utter bullshit. These things have nothing to do with capitalism. They are products of colonialism and imperialism and mercantilism and other ideologies where the state largely controls business.

    And what about what this ideology has done to the brains of people like yourself, Dave? That is pretty degrading in itself–twisting people into supporting a system where, as Harvard professor Cornel West once said, allows the three wealthiest people in the world to own more than the bottom 48 countries.

    Fun with numbers. Those top 3 people has given away more money to charity than the wealth of those 48 countries put together. And there’s no relationship between the poverty in those countries and the wealth of the three individuals. Bill Gates didn’t make his millions by exploiting the people of Fiji or Chad. To suggest that his wealth somehow made them poor is utterly irrational.

    Capitalism was born on slavery, genocide, and colonialism. It never comes into existence otherwise. It is a system that exploits those at the bottom. It causes people to dehumanize each other.

    This shows a total disconnect from reality. The instinct to engage in trade is fundamental to human nature. It doesn’t dehumanize anyone, it gives them a sense of self worth and the opportunity to be more than just a slave or a serf.

    How much space shall we give to these topics, Dave?

    I’m talking about history books here, not marxist fantasy and propaganda.

    Dave

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

    Noxious,

    You haven’t yet accused anyone of making an ad hominem attack. Here let me help you.

    The fact that China (along with many euro states) is moving in the opposite direction than we are, towards more capitalism, towards less socialism, shows that perhaps us free market capitalist types were right all along.

    a) that doesn’t make sense
    b) if there is anything such as a ‘free market type’ I hope it is in danger of extinction.

  • zingzing

    oa, while it’s true that china’s government could pull the plug at any moment, do you see any reason why they would?

  • The Obnoxious American

    Cindy,

    You’ll need to explain how it doesn’t make sense, merely stating things without even trying to explain why or give examples to support your argument is lazy.

    There have been a whole host of articles in the mainstream liberal press talking about how the current Democratic adgenda in the U.S. is to the left of many European countries who have tried these policies before and are now moving to the right, to freer markets, to less socialism. Their experience is what is making them move right. Not ideology. Add to this the fact that China, formerly communist, which puts them even further to the left than Europe, is embracing capitalism goes even more to the point. Yet here we have Obama and his cohorts ignoring history and trying to create utopia. God help us.

    Zing,

    I don’t claim to know what’s in the mind of the Chinese leadership but I’d guess that if the people, who are now starting to stretch their legs with these new found freedoms, seeing what others in the world have, start clamoring for actual direct representation, revolution, freedom, etc, I could see there being a clamping down. That’s just one of many scenarios.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    OA,

    I have not personally attacked Dave…not intentionally and I don’t believe he thinks so..does he? if so I apologize Dave.

    I had a few months off to reflect on how I used you react to this site and I’ve come to the conclusion that I can hold my own with most of you…the ones that are genuine anyway
    as far as being off topic.. I can’t remember you commenting on the article at all! You just jumped in egging Cindy and I on..:)
    What i wrote today doesn’t sit well with you,but it is not a personal attack, it is a personal observation…who is OA?

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Cindy and me..:)

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    China, formerly communist, which puts them even further to the left than Europe, is embracing capitalism

    does this new found capitalism include all the sweat shops and environmental pollution? does it include the exploited children making fireworks at age 5?

  • The Obnoxious American

    Jeannie,

    I didn’t say it was a personal attack on Dave.

    “What i wrote today doesn’t sit well with you,but it is not a personal attack, it is a personal observation…who is OA?”

    I didn’t say that it “didn’t sit well” with me either. What I did say was posts #44 and #47 was off topic, adds nothing to the conversation, and was pretty lame of a response in any case, and explained why. And I suggested that the moderators should remove these comments.

    “does this new found capitalism include all the sweat shops and environmental pollution? does it include the exploited children making fireworks at age 5?”

    Ummmmm not sure what your point is here. I’m not the one holding up China as the paragon of capitalism. Did you read the part where I talked about the choice for real Americans not being pure capitalism or communism, which have never existed in history, but rather more or less of either? Sheese I hate repeating myself.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    #58

    That last line looked an awful lot like Clavos…where is he?

  • The Obnoxious American

    Not my day to watch him. Both I do agree that he’s got some pretty good ideas.

  • FitzBoodle

    “Capitalism” has never, and never will, exist in a pure form because it’s supporters keep talking about “Free markets”, I suppose in an attempt to make capitalism seem less vicious and predatory, a ‘kinder, gentler’ form of capitalism.

    Every capitalist seeks to dominate his markets and his vendors, thus is opposed to free markets entirely, though he may mouth such sentiments insincerely. The Top Capitalist Predator is happy to enter a Free Market as he intends to dominate it with his superior cash firepower and his influence over the politicians who are in awe of him. But he will surely devour it.

    Capitalism and free markets are antithetical. The student of logic would know that such a logical contradiction will allow one to prove anything. Of course, the downside is that you can prove nothing. But there seem to be no students of logic here.

  • The Obnoxious American

    You’re absolutely right Fitz, which is why I think some regulation is needed. Some government intervention is needed.

    This all goes back to my point. I’m not talking extremes or purity, I’m talking reality. In reality it’s a question of more or less, not one or the other. I happen to think there’s a bit too much government going on, and even more in the planning. I’d like to see considerably less, not none.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Taking this back to Dave’s article I think the election of 2008 showed how far the educational system moved the next generation to the left. The attitudes of young people when I was growing up (which really wasn’t that many years ago) of distrusting large government and celebrating individual achievement and American ingenuity has been replaced in the attitudes of today’s youth with a belief in social justice, distrust of corporations and capitalism in favor of greater government involvement and regulation, and a celebration for left wing politics.

    If you claim that the change in educational programming in our classroom these last few decades has nothing to do with the re-learning of lessons that America is now going through with President Obama, you’re lying.

    And if you think that the change in programming isn’t at least partly due to the fact that the teachers are part of one of the largest and most corrupt unions, you’re also lying.

    This is why Dave’s article is so on point. That adgendas have been involved in the recording of history is as true today as it’s ever been.

  • Baronius

    Fitz, that’s more of a 1930’s definition. Most economists today would consider competition to be one of the characteristics of capitalism. If you’d rather use the terms “entrepreneurship” or “free markets”, feel free. But most everyone here understands the modern usage of the term “capitalism”.

    This kind of argument happens with certain words, most commonly “liberalism” and “conservatism”. It’s not an affront to logic to recognize the evolution of language, and it’s a wee bit pretentious to describe it that way.

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

    Well, it’s the longing on part of some writers here for “pure capitalism,” as expressed by the idea of “free markets,” which is at stake here. And they continue to make that kind of appeal as if it justified the present system.

    I happen to think that it’s precisely this kind of notion which gives rise to FitzBoodle’s type of comments.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    OA –

    Glenn quite clearly made the point that if capitalism is allowed to do it’s thing, you basically end up with China or some other anarchist third world society – an absurd point given what you said about China moving to capitalism from recent communism.

    Prove me wrong. Show me ONE example of a modern first-world democracy that works with capitalism that is ‘allowed to do its thing’. Just one, that’s all I ask.

    But you won’t. You CAN’T. But you’ve decided that the facts must fit your belief, rather than demanding that your beliefs fit the facts.

    Whereas I can show you scores of third-world countries where capitalism is ‘allowed to do its thing’…and every one of those countries (with the possible exception of Costa Rica – I’m not sure about that one) is FAR more corrupt than ANY of the modern first-world democracies.

    Prove me wrong, OA – just one example, that’s all I ask.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    OA –

    First you said:

    The moderators should really remove your last two posts which are not on topic, do not further the conversation, and seem to be personally directed at insulting Dave and myself.

    And then you said:

    I didn’t say it was a personal attack on Dave.

    Oh, I get it! You didn’t say it WAS a personal attack…you said it SEEMED to be a personal attack which the moderators should remove. Do I understand the difference properly?

  • Baronius

    Roger, was #65 a reply to #64? If so, I don’t understand it.

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

    A similar argument was advanced by NYD on another thread, namely that social democracies are at fault.

    But in fact, one could argue to precisely the opposite conclusion – that the drive by the capitalists to secure their advantage corrupts the entire body politic, and results in a business-government collusion. So in effect, the capitalists has won by hijacking our political system to suit their actual desires and needs.

    Why should Microsoft, for example, seek a level-playing field and “free markets.” The whole idea is to stifle competition and to become the dominant player. And the government has become, always becomes, an accomplice.

    So it does look, OA, that you’re looking for a kind of utopia. The kind of conditions you envisage are very unlikely to ever become realized.

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

    I don’t see why not, Baronius. I believe FitzBoodle was offering the necessary corrective.

    It’s those who espouse idea of “free markets” as the quintessence of what capitalism ought to be about who are operating with a 1930 notion. As a matter of fact, even that is not quite accurate: they’re living a dream. And it’s that kind of dream that FitzBoodle tried to shutter.

    I express pretty much the same point in the remark above.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    #63 OA,

    some education”

    Tell us OA, What is so corrupt about the teachers union?

    Give one fact,link or reason.

    This is a weak insult at best.

  • Jordan Richardson

    You actually said China is a capitalism! HA!

    China is capitalistic and is capitalistic beyond belief. They’re succeeding at capitalism to a greater extent than America right now and that’s in large part due to the fact that they’ve got a big sector of the population believing that it’s actually in their best interest to sacrifice their rights for business stability.

    Just ask the flood of American investors heading over there if China’s capitalistic. Ask America’s biggest car companies, energy companies and manufacturing companies about how capitalistic China is and how much opportunity there is for investment, cheap labour and cheap supplies over there. Ask America’s medical companies how much research they’re doing in China and how many opportunities there are for development and the making of cold hard cash.

    China is the manufacturing hub of the globe and they are building more roads than anyone in the U.S. would ever dream of. They are exploding in production of highways, roads and airports at an alarming rate. In three decades, your ignorant vision of “communist” China will be the largest economy in the world.

    Wake up. China’s a capitalist country. Nobody with any common sense of the modern world thinks otherwise.

  • FitzBoodle

    When “Free Market Capitalists” are pushed to the wall, they always come out in favor of NOT enforcing anti-trust and anti-monopoly laws. They can’t help it: it’s bad for business.

    Thus they reveal their original deception in pretending that Capitalism can include Free Markets.

    The most effective capitalist I’ve known once proclaimed: “my fair share of the market is 100%!”.

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

    Fitz, you appear to be spouting things you were programmed to say and haven’t given a moments thought to.

    Free market capitalists understand that competition and a diverse marketplace benefit them rather than harming them. It is only corporatist monopolies which behave the way you describe, and like any monopolistic institution, be it trade unions or global conglomerates or government subsidized industries, they are hostile to an actual free market.

    Perhaps your problem is that you are confused by the terminology. Most people understand capitalism in general to represent a system based on private enterprise in a very broad sense. So when you attack the entire broad concept of capitalism and say that capitalism is “always X” or “always Y” then you’re talking nonsense, because capitalism is a broad category which is not always anything.

    If you are going to address the narrow sub-category of capitalism which tends towards monopolies and abusive trade practices then you would do us all a favor by calling it something else. If you look up the definition, I think that what you are actually talking about is “corporatism” which has become the dominant system in post-communist Russia, describes what goes on in China fairly well, and is something which we are currently struggling against here in the US where we still have a mixed system.

    Dave

  • Arch Conservative

    “In the USA–a place where land was stolen through murder, human beings were owned, women were chattel, those without the status of wealth could go hang–some white, wealthy men are revered, as if they stood for anything but for their own benefit.”

    Ah yes…….the typical leftist view of American history. Not one good thing ever happened during the history of this nation so we must not lie to the children by making claims to the contrary. We must only impress upon their young minds nothing but shame for this nation’s consistent, relentless assault on humanity.

    One need only visit a sampling of our colleges and universities to witness how intolerant left wing ideology has been a pox upon or education system.

    People like Jeannie and Cindy claim to value objectivity and critical thinking but fail to acknowledge the obvious….that it is those who share their political and social worldview that are among the most intolerant, narrow minded, polls running, or should that be ruining the campus across this nation.

    Back to the original point though. It’s not as if people like Nalle or myself would ever seek to deny that America has her black marks to be remorseful about. We’re fully aware of this and do not seek to banish the discussion of these events from discourse but rather compare and contrast them with some of the more positive uplifting events that have taken place in our history.

    In listening to Jeannie and Cindy, witnessing the joy and glee they experience in reveling in America’s faults, one would think that they believe this is a uniquely American phenomena. One must wonder if they’re aware that many many other nations have committed many many aggregious acts. We are not alone in our sinful ways by any means but you’d never be able to conclude that by listening to Jeannie or Cindy speak about this nation. It’s called perspective and they’re seriously lacking.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    #75,
    My goodness this man mentions my name many times here!

    Apparently, he hangs on every word I type but is unable to converse directly with me.

    He just makes these little insignificant insults and then runs away..bye bye Arch

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

    Free market capitalists understand that competition and a diverse marketplace benefit them rather than harming them.

    Dave, I am a business person. This is bullshit. What helps me is when all my competition becomes nonexistent. This makes absolutely zero sense to anyone with half a brain! If there are more font people competing with you, how is that of benefit to you AND to your competition.

    It is only corporatist monopolies which behave the way you describe, and like any monopolistic institution, be it trade unions or global conglomerates or government subsidized industries, they are hostile to an actual free market.

    Now, how on earth do you plan to have a free market and a govt (which you also claim is needed) that doesn’t end up in your confessed collusion, which you here call “corporatism”.

    Your whole framework makes money = power. Power will be bought in such a system. Corporatists, as you call them, will thrive. In fact the goal of every tiny Capitalist is to become a giant corporatist, is that not true? Is that not a common tale within the American Dream? Start out as Walton’s general store end up as WalMart?

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

    “Capitalism is a wonderful system. Okay, a few billion people get nothing. But still, think of all the people that get lots.”

    Everything is OK

  • Baronius

    Cindy, competition in the font market benefits everyone by requiring each firm to do better work at lower costs. You’re right that the individual outfit might resent it, but the overall effect of widespread competition is beneficial.

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

    There is of course another tried alternative, Cindy to total monopoly. It’s oligopoly, when the major players agree to maintain their market share rather than compete. The tobacco companies have done in the the twenties, the oil companies are still doing it.

    That’s what we call “cartels.”

    I’m glad though that Dave and Baronius are committed to the notion of the system’s virtues.

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

    Baronius,

    I think you are missing the point. Dave is suggesting that the Capitalist herself welcomes competition. This is not true. It is a pretense Dave is making because if he were to admit that it’s not true his free market doesn’t work real well. (see below*)

    It does not help me if I own a font business to have competition. Why would I care about lower prices and costs and each firm doing better work if I own a font business?

    I care about one thing. Everyone in the entire world should buy from me, at the highest price I can get, for the lowest, cheapest quality work I can get them to accept.

    *It has nothing to do with resentment. Do you understand the issue here? Businesses do not want and will try to eliminate competition–they do not welcome it and see it as beneficial to them. Therefore all businesses in a given market are striving to become monopolies. Dave is attempting to make out that this is not so. He is suggesting that it is business which has co-opted govt, ‘corporatists’ who are interested in monopolies.

    I will call this Dave’s Paradox: Why would the ‘corporatists’, in Dave’s fantasy world, seek out govt collusion to aid them in creating monopolies if competition is good for them?

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

    Let me bring in a quote of Dave to make this perfectly clear:

    Free market capitalists understand that competition and a diverse marketplace benefit them rather than harming them. It is only corporatist monopolies which behave the way you describe…

    Why would the ‘coporatists’ want monopolies if free market competition was so good for them? It doesn’t make sense.

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

    Therefore, it follows that there is no special ‘free market’ Capitalist case to be made. As long as you have govt + Capitalism, you always get businesses trying to become monopolies…what we have now. Ipso facto, there can never be a free market Capitalism.

    I will be interested in finding out how Dave discusses how businesses strive to capture market share while welcoming competition. Or why a business moves into an area where there is no competition (no saturation). Or why 10 pizza shops do not open next to each other.

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

    To say that a businessperson wants competition is simply idiotic, akin to saying that they’re more concerned with “social/public good” than the good of the firm.

    The firm can grow only by expanding its market share, which means eliminating as many lesser players as possible. True competition and level playing field are inimical to the very idea of growing a business. If a businessperson were truly desirous of such a thing, they would be on the road to committing a suicide.

    What’s so difficult to understand that?

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

    And yet, Cindy, on other threads dealing with healthcare reforms, Dave is the harshest opponent of the private health-insurance monopolies. Which goes to say he’ll argue from both sides of his mouth, depending on his personal agenda.

    I have no respect for that, none whatever.

    Whatever intellectual aspirations Dave may still entertain, and I seriously doubt how that is any longer possible, they’ve just vanished into thin air.

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

    I understand that Dave is a bourgeoisie kinda guy. My guess is someone gave him his business. He doesn’t seem to be very grounded in reality about the business world.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Dave is the harshest opponent of the private health-insurance monopolies. Which goes to say he’ll argue from both sides of his mouth, depending on his personal agenda.

    Bingo. Dave claims to rally against “corporatism” and stand up for true capitalism, but is one of the biggest cheerleaders of it I’ve ever come across, especially when it comes to health care. He’s an idealistic opportunist.

  • Jordan Richardson

    We’re fully aware of this and do not seek to banish the discussion of these events from discourse but rather compare and contrast them with some of the more positive uplifting events that have taken place in our history.

    If this is truly your intention, Arch, why do you refrain so actively from actually, you know, contrasting these poor spots of American history with the good portions and the “positive uplifting events” in your history?

    I haven’t seen you do this sort of contrasting once around here. In fact, thinking about you highlighting something “positive” or “uplifting” about your country makes me laugh my fucking ass off.

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

    He’d never run it. I did. And the only way I could expand is by cutting into the competition. Of course, there are selfish reasons involved, feeling good about yourself, etcetera, etcetera. But there are also undeniable realities. If you don’t have enough contracts, you can’t command your labor pool and you lose it to the opposition. The same goes for the workers’ loyalty, good will, and so on.

    One way or another, you’re kind of forced to do all you can to increase your market share. Even if you’re not exactly keen on eliminating the competition or find it abhorrent, you still got to do it as a matter of economic necessity.

    Of course, what does help you with this mindset is your belief that you’re offering a better product. But regardless, that’s the mechanism at work.

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

    His argument opposing private health care monopolies is consistent with his pov. His view is that there is some special category, which he calls ‘free-market Capitalists’ he contrasts them with this other category of monopolists, whom he labels ‘corporatists’, and who he sees as colluding with the govt (like insurance companies).

    He opposes the monopolists (defined as govt colluders) and supports the non-colluding ‘free-market Capitalists’.

    He is trying to get Capitalism to work by creation of a special category. As if creating a special category in one’s ideology actually created one in the real world. Since there is no special case ‘free-market Capitalist’ and any and all businesses benefit from eliminating competition within their market, Dave is actually making an admission (sans his fantasy construction) that Capitalism does not work. Because Capitalism always results in some players colluding with the govt to gain monopoly power.

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

    Yes, but the category he’s trying to forge is no less utopian than his other schemes.

    Espousing the notion of individual liberty and personal freedoms apart from the societal context in which we all live is equally elusive and wrongheaded.

    He’s more of a dreamer than I am.

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

    Utopias can be described in a logical way. Dave has gone into the twilight zone. His category defies logic as much as a design for a building that does not account for gravity.

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

    But, I knew you meant that. (Just my fondness for the idea of Utopias showing itself as I am a romantic.)

  • Baronius

    Hey, here’s an idea: instead of mocking Dave and accusing him of bad faith and chortling that our interpretation of his theories make him look foolish, we let him clarify himself?

  • zingzing

    hey y’all, dave actually wrote an article that (other than a ridiculous swipe at marx) actually makes a good point. that being, of course, that texas is a strange place.

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

    I would welcome the idea, Baronius. Yes, lets Dave clarify himself. Believe me, I’d love nothing better.

    And yes, Cindy. I know you’re a romantic in that way. There’s a difference, however. You’re thinking of society at large; Dave’s concept of society and all the ramifications is infantile. He’s only thinking “the individual.”

  • Baronius

    Roger, if you’d welcome Dave fleshing out the meaning of his statement, don’t you think you should stop mocking your interpretation of his meaning? If I’m taking this personally, it’s because you recently derided my comments about populism and elitism as contradictory and foolish, solely on the basis of unwarranted assumptions on your part.

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

    I believe I indicated selfsame sentiment in #96, so I don’t see why you’re harping.

    And if I’m mocking Dave, it’s for good reason.

    Provocation.

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

    And yes, your remarks on populism and elitism pertained only to the pragmatic sense and our use of them. Sorry, rather banal point.

  • Baronius

    Statements based on misunderstanding aren’t provocative, they’re just kind of embarrassing.

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

    Well, that’s we disagree, especially if so-called “misunderstanding” is by design. Have you ever hear of creative “misreading.”

    Besides, what I said is not exactly off the mark, and if Dave would like to amend his meaning, he can certainly do so.

    Why I find amusing, however, that you’re defending his alleged rights while throwing no kind of light on the matter. I’m presuming you’re doing so solely out of your (false) sense of fairness.

    Unless of course you’re also motivated by some obscure notion that Dave may be right. And in that case, I think you ought to speak your own mind rather than hide behind some ill-conceived sense of internet decorum.

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

    These things have nothing to do with capitalism. They are products of colonialism and imperialism and mercantilism and other ideologies where the state largely controls business.

    I’m sure I left a set of goalposts around here somewhere.

  • Baronius

    Roger, I’ve always assumed that you were just not that insightful. That’s why I go easy on you and take extra time to explain things. It never occurred to me that you were screwing up on purpose.

  • zingzing

    hard to misread that one. how catty, baronius.

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

    Baronius, you can leave your subtleties to those who fall for them. And if you think for a minute that I don’t play you, as often as I play Dave as well, you’ve got another think coming.

    So let’s get it straight, friend. No, I haven’t come to a point yet to think your’e ready for an honest discussion. Consequently, I have no other recourse than nibble at the edges so as to bring you along – one bit at a time and no further than your understanding can take it. Believe me, it’s artful and it takes infinite patience.

    Perhaps in time friend, in time, and the twain shall meet.

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

    What’s the matter, the cat’s got your tongue, Baronius. Or are you being “catty”?

  • Baronius

    No cat, Roger. I was just being candid.

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

    And so was I, Baronius. At least we both know where we stand.

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

    Roger,

    I may be a romantic, but you are surely more of an optimist. These people will never change. They are imprinted with antisocial tendencies. They are like ruined goods.

    The only thing that will change them is if they have to suffer the same way those they cannot empathize with have to suffer.

    At least that’s what I think. All of them seem to have a certain blindness, don’t they? They, to varying degrees, all find it hard to imagine things from another person’s POV.

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

    That’s why I wish for real bad times, Cindy, and I mean it. I swear to you, I say to myself day in and day out not to engage myself in these conversations anymore. For Chrissake, I don’t know why I still do.

    So perhaps you’ve pegged me right after all.

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

    “Damaged goods” is my favorite term.

  • Baronius

    Oh, the irony. Cindy is dehumanizing the people who don’t reach the same conclusions as she does, by accusing them of failing to see others’ humanity. And then the totalitarian sprinkles on the irony sundae: concluding that the enemy will only become humanized by being made to suffer. Keep thinking that way, Cindy. People who think that way always make a big red splash in history.

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

    Baronius,

    Having a similar experience is how we learn to empathize. Thus, the school bully who moves to another school and becomes a victim may have a change of heart.
    This theme is in practically every film where the protagonist comes to be redeemed through a life lesson.

    What in god’s (or whoever’s) name are YOU thinking?

    Oh, I see, you wanted to get your McCartyite ‘red splash’ in there, so you pretended that I was someone else. Someone who hasn’t spoken out about force, punishment, prisons, etc.

  • Baronius

    Cindy, I know the stuff you’ve written before. But there’s also a thread in your writings about the inhumanity of those who disagree with you. If you want a film reference, picture that every time you write off someone as ruined, Emperor Palpatine is standing behind you whispering, “give into the hate and you will join the Dark Side”.

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

    there’s also a thread in your writings about the inhumanity of those who disagree with you

    You are making some sort of logical error there, Bar. If I think people are inhumane, then I naturally disagree with what they are doing. I’m not sure I ever met someone who didn’t disagree with people they held to be acting inhumanely.

    It’s not that I see people as inhumane because they disagree with me. I attribute inhumanity to people who support systems that produce inhumane results. Naturally, I disagree with inhumane systems and it follows I both disagree with and see inhumanity in the actions and beliefs of those who support and prop up those systems. And again, please take time to analogize and I think you will find you do the same thing.

    Also, Baronius, I agree with you. Hate is a very bad thing, not even considering hating an enemy one considers evil. I think, it is what hate does to oneself that is the most crippling. But, whether I am angry and hateful or not–does not change my perspective on what and who is inhumane. It merely changes my attitude toward them.

  • Baronius

    Not inhumane, inhuman. I’m saying that you deny the human-ness of us damaged goods.

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

    Put another way, all opinions are not equal. All conclusions are not valid. I don’t find the parent who beats the child inhumane because he disagrees with me or does not reach my conclusion about the treatment of children. I find him inhumane because it is inhumane to beat people.

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

    It is all the same to me. Being inhumane makes one act as if one is not human. Humaneness is what makes us human. It is evidence that we are not run on mere instincts like beasts; but that we have a higher capacity for control over our behavior.

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

    Further, is it a coincidence that the people who limit their view of human nature to being selfish (and limited to instinct), are the ones who embrace inhumane systems, thereby making themselves inhuman (and quite beast-like)?

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Cindy,

    #117, #118, and #112..WOW

    I think I understand.

  • Baronius

    Jeannie, do you realize the anti-human implications of Cindy’s statements? By saying that only the humane are human, she sets aside a group of people as non-people (reserving for herself the right to determine who qualifies as a person). Dehumanizing your enemy is a slippery slope.

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

    So is humanizing them.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Baronius #121,

    I don’t know what side of the fence you are on here…it is in-human to not treat all of humanity like human beings!

    Of course, Dick Cheney would disagree!

    Wouldn’t you agree?

    :)

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Whatever happened to that Geneva Convention?

    I know I saw it lying around here somewhere!

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

    When they act inhumanly, of course. I don’t see everyone who opposes my ideas as inhuman. Only those whose actions and beliefs are harmful to humanity.

    So, Baronius, there is no action a human being can take that would make her/him appear to be inhuman to you?

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Torture in the name of political gain…now that’s in-human…and don’t try to say a soldier must follow any orders given.

    The torturer, should refuse to torture.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    We almost broke away from the worst Government administration in history..I say almost because they just won’t go away!

  • Baronius

    No human can take an action that would make me deny his humanity.

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

    @ #128:

    Good quote. Is that a Baronius original?

  • Baronius

    Yes, that’s an original.

    (It sounds even better in the original French. However, since I don’t speak French, the original is “je me frommage usted frommage”, so I guess it makes more sense in English. Sounds better in French, though.)

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    #130

    sounds like cheese..

  • FitzBoodle

    Looks like I illuminated some dark corners by exposing the inherent contradiction in the notion of “free Market Capitalism”. That was easy, it’s just simple Aristotelian logic.

    Here’s a conclusion that’s just a little more modern and more difficult:

    We Americans have to think in terms of shifting more tax burden to corporations and reducing their handouts and welfare. Why? Because globalization has separated the interests of companies from the interests of the country.

    We used to make special benefits for corporations (lower taxes, pollution privileges, welfare handouts, bailouts, etc.) because we felt that what is good for business is good for the USA cf. GM’s Charlie Wilson).

    But that is no longer true. Globalization means that the jobs are outsourced to foreign countries and modern financial markets means that foreigners can not only own stocks in US companies, but that they can also dictate company policy through the Board Of Directors.

    The corporations, in collusion with the well-bribed US Congress and numerous Administrations, have massively shifted the tax burden to citizens. When I was a lad 75% of federal taxes were paid by corps and 25% by individuals. Now, those percentages are reversed, and we suffer for it.

    The net result is that taxes paid by US citizens to prop up companies will benefit foreigners rather than Americans. American air and water polluted by Corporations will benefit people in other lands. Smokestacks in the US will mean jobs in India.

    “Capitalism” is just a tool. To the extent it is useful to our society we should encourage it, but if it just becomes a tool for exploiting US citizens we have to control and regulate it. Otherwise it is just a modern form of Colonialism.

    The days are long past when we can allow capitalists to operate unfettered and expect a good result.

    Capitalism is not a religion, it is not god-given. It’s just a tool.

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

    Cindy,

    It is a tricky subject, the main reason being that the term “human” has so many layered meanings. For one thing, it’s an incredibly elastic term – which is to say, it encompasses a whole gamut of human behavior from the perfidious to the sublime. Which is why I would like to argue that which should be very careful here. If we’re going to deny a person’s humanity, we had better reserve it for the most extreme cases – Hitler comes to mind. Otherwise, we’re diluting the force of the invective.

    And that force has to do of course with moral disaprobation, and one of the strongest kinds of disaprobation possible, suggesting perhaps that, however elastic the meaning of “being human,” they may be transgressing those very limits.

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

    . . . we should be very careful . . . (line 3)

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

    Well, I can see Baronius’ point i one sense, at least, and that is the slippery slope that would cause some to treat others like less than human. The same slippery slope that I would argue allows the US military to torture without thought or that allows racist ideas. Considering people as less than human has a bad outcome in those senses.

    When one sees others as not human one might think it is okay to take measures that would not be acceptable to take with humans.

    However, on the other hand, if we are going to use the description ‘inhuman’ at all, does one need to be a Hitler to be inhuman? Does that not deny the humanity of the two homeless people who die of the cold because some people support private property?

    So, here are my questions, Should ‘inhuman’ be reserved for ‘shocking’ cases? Cases where there are numerous deaths? Numerous rapes? How many people must be involved to make an action inhuman?

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

    You’ve said it, Cindy. It is a slippery slope.

    But I’ll argue again that the force of denying a person’s humanity must be preserved so as to not to render it trivial.

    We can ,and do speak of course, of “inhumanity” as regards certain people’s actions; and that, too, is a form of condemnation. And in the same vein, we can refer to certain people, I suppose, as being “inhuman.

    But to deny a person their humanity is quite a different thing, I should like to argue. It’s like saying they’ve transgressed the limits to the point they no longer ought to be regarded as being part of the same species. And again, considering the wide spectrum of what counts as “human behavior,” the very elasticity of the term, and all the things that “being human” appears to include under its rubric, unfortunately, that’s quite an indictment.

    Again, the key point I think is that employing such a language is part of moral discourse, the point being to bring a person around. It’s rather useless when used as a descriptive term.

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

    so as to not to render it trivial.

    This is what I was getting at, what is trivial? It’s relative. Is trivial based on a habituation to violence?

    One who takes violence for granted has a much different idea of what is trivial than someone who is a pacifist. For one, it takes the wiping out of a whole race…10,000 is nothing but collateral damage. For me, every single person counts. If there is one life involved it is not trivial.

    Because–and now tell search yourself–if that life were yours, if you personally were left to die homeless, would you not think your society was inhuman to walk past you and allow such a thing?

  • Mark

    ‘Inhuman’ has a fair number of established uses that fall short of Baronius’ absolutism. Try the dictionary. #128 is jive.

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

    Cindy. I’m talking about what’s beyond the pale.

    Being insensitive, rude, arrogant, exploitative, uncaring, thoughtless, utterly selfish (and you can expand this list at will) – these are some of the “human” traits.

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

    Yes, Roger. I understand that. You can see that I am trying to suggest that ‘the pale’ is relative.

    Roger, if you were sitting outside on a park bench right now, without food or shelter and there was nowhere you could go, so you laid down and you began to fall asleep and to freeze to death. Would it be beyond the pale for that to happen in a state with plenty of food and homes and wealth?

    Would you think of your society as inhuman for allowing that?

  • Zedd

    Guys on the Marx comments, are you serious???

    Every popular political theory or social ideology has caused lots of deaths, including democracy. We wont start with Christianity. You Baby Boomers just cant break away from the brainwashing of your childhood . It must be difficult.

    OA, Marx and Hitler??? I’ve lost respect for you.

  • Zedd

    roger,

    There is the Ubuntu Operating System which suggests that “a person is a person through (other) persons”. In that concept being a homo sapien does not make you human. You are human if you are cognisant of your interconnectedness to the human family. It gets more interesting but I’d better get to work.

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

    Of course I’m aware of the honorific meaning, Zedd, and it’s the meaning to be guided by.

    All I’m saying is that the range of human behavior has shown itself to form such a wide spectrum that the term “human” has become so elastic as to encompass that range. I’m not agreeing with the usage, only commenting on it. That’s why what’s being the pale is a useful reminder, considering the accepted elasticity of the term. Sure, plenty of us are insensitive, thoughtless, uncaring, etcetera – surely “human” traits, and common ones as it’s evidently apparent. But given the context, we’ve go to make a distinction between true ignorance and selfishness and another range of human actions which, for lack of better word, spring from “evil intent.” That’s what I call beyond the pale. (Indeed, it was necessary for Hitler and Goebbels to dehumanize the Jews, regards them as no better than cockroaches, in order to be able to carry out the Nazi program; which goes to show even the worst of us need an excuse.)

    But again, as to the enlightened meaning of what it means to be human, I don’t disagree with you. So yes, mere belonging to the species of homo sapiens it a rather shallow basis for the application of the term.

    It’s still a tricky business all considering, precisely because the thoughtless and senseless behavior of humans has acquired the status of “normalcy.” Sad but true. If it weren’t for that frequency, if it were a much less frequent phenomenon, if it came to be regarded more as an exception than the rule, our standards as to what ought to count as human would be considerably higher. And I submit that under such circumstances, our ordinary use would come to reflect that.

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

    what’s being “beyond the pale” . . . (paragraph 2, line 3)

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

    And Cindy. I would make a distinction between attributing inhumanness to a society as opposed to an individual.

    That is what Gilbert Ryle called a “category mistake.”

    See link.

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

    Roger,

    I think when you are losing enough at the hands of society and people, you might decide that society is made up of individuals and that what they each do is the problem as much as what all of them together do generally. I have had that experience and that, at least, is how I felt about it. We really don’t necessarily find ourselves at a great loss at the hands of ‘society’. But, rather, we generally have experiences with the individuals that make it up. Society does not walk past the homeless person every day, individuals do.

    So, I see what you mean by saying it is a category mistake. But I am not sure I think so. It would be like saying the military is to blame but not the individual torturers. Or Hitler can be blamed but not the individuals who made what he did possible. I think each individual’s inhumaness adds up to society.

    I think that allows an abdication of responsibility. After all, a society cannot actually be responsible for its actions only individuals can. It seems a convenient way to excuse ourselves if we can simply lay all the blame on ‘society’.

  • Zedd

    roger,

    I am in agreement with you in that (off course) defining humanness is tricky. I would add that humaneness is more concrete but still complicated.

    I agree that knowledge (which affects psychology) does play a major part. I think to distinguish Hitler however, is dangerous. The same ignorance that feeds any bigotry, under specific conditions can lead to a Hitler. Those millions who supported him were Hitlers. As you state, not in so many words, on a different thread, it is the ignorance or detachment from the human chain that contributes to such a phenomenon.

    I have read a bit on attachment theories (child development stuff) – fascinating information, even disturbing. When babies do not attach (in most cases to a maternal figure or one figure) at infancy, they miss crucial guiding suggestions about (to skip a lot of stuff) how to be human. So because they are intelligent beings (homo sapien), they do well at playing “human” and in most cases are quite charming because they are more attune to role play than participation, than most but they don’t understand honesty or don’t understand the benefit of it. In many ways they are like sophisticated pack members – operating on instinct (or the flesh) utilizing social cues only to their end.

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

    Zedd,

    the misunderstanding stems mainly from the fact that ascription is mainly a term of disapprobation rather than a term of description. It doesn’t really make sense as a term of description in a biological, taxonomical sense – and if so, what purpose would it serve.

    Consequently, I’m only talking about whatever moral force is still left to this term of disapprobation. The prevalence of inhumane behavior or attitudes have already rendered it extremely ineffective if we were to keep on applying it time and again. The very frequency would work against it.

    That why I say that it still works (best) if at all in extraordinary cases. And although the underlying psychology of, say, the Nazi state of mind isn’t all that different from “the usual,” as you so aptly point out, at least the consequences of the Nazi program were horrendous and cataclysmic.

    Cindy, I don’t think I’m letting people off the hook or absolving them of the responsibility. And I’m far from condoning the society, as you can readily see.

    Perhaps I should say that the system is “inhumane” in that it tends to produce such society and individuals. But still, it’s not the same as saying that Baronius, for instance, is “inhumane,” or not a human.

  • Zedd

    roger,

    I think you are missing that we are in full agreement. I’m not offering a rebuttal but a confirmation of what you’ve been saying and perhaps tying in an observation of yours from another conversation.

    My focus is on the “why” of the matter. Why it is elastic.

    I don’t however agree that humanness has deteriorated over time. I believe that as we become more stratified, it becomes more of a challenge to see the human in those that appear different from us. If you live in a clan of mostly relatives, you are more apt to see them as being like you because they are like you. The YOU is how you define humanness. As you say, one persons human can be a monster to someone else (ref. the horrors of the colonial era – or Ruvy). I’m sure Cindy is an expert in this area with her studies/passion about social anthropology. She’s made many posts about ethnocentrism.

    I hope I am not destroying your conversation Cindy and Roger. Just wanted to peek in.

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

    Zedd, you’re not destroying anything and as always, you have great contributions to make.

    You have made some interesting points. While it does become more of a challenge for us to see the human in those who appear different from us, it is true at the same time that the coming together of different kinds of peoples, which the modern world made possible, did contribute overall to the discovery of our common humanness. Unfortunately, too many of us still persist on living withing their own, narrowly-defined cultural enclaves, and for them anything that’s foreign to them and their way of thinking is anathema.

    And perhaps it is precisely because of the greater exposure to the world at large, we’ve also realized that the worst traits of human are common to all nations and cultures. So no, I wouldn’t argue that humanity has deteriorated over time, rather that our perception of it has – in that even the worst traits are common and “normal.”

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

    Roger,

    Cindy, I don’t think I’m letting people off the hook or absolving them of the responsibility. And I’m far from condoning the society, as you can readily see.

    Yes, Roger. I understand that. You and I do not condone suffering. Yet you and I and a couple million other people stand by and allow it to happen.

    I was thinking about what makes us do this. Because when I see myself as the homeless person dying in the cold…I can see that you and I and individuals, despite that we oppose it, we still somehow let war, homelessness, etc. take place and continue. I was sort of playing with the idea of what allows that to happen.

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

    I don’t know, Cindy. I suppose it’s a matter of reaching the critical mass.

    I’d like to believe we’re all moving in the right direction. It’s just so painstakingly slow.

    And then again, you’ve got such cataclysms as the Haiti earthquake. And that’s got nothing to do with anyone’s action.

  • Pierce Randall

    So, I’m not going to read all of the intervening comments about Marxism, but there seems to be a lot of nonsense going on here.

    Marxism the historical theory is different than Marxism the economic ideology, and was the dominant “left wing” academic model of history before academic feminism, deconstruction, and stuff like that came along. One need not support communism at all to support certain Marxist views on history.

    That said, this editorial makes this claim that history is about objective facts. I might disagree, but, for high school students, that’s as good shorthand as any. I’m not any more in favor of teaching Marxist historical analysis throughout a high school curriculum than I am reactionary views like great man theory.

    A very basic way to teach kids the difference between these kinds of questions, and how to interpret history, would be to cover the difference between structural causes for historical events, and the actions of individual agents.

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

    Very apt points, Pierce Randal: (1) the necessary distinction between Marx’s economic theory of theory of history; (2) the distinction you make in the last paragraph.

    I would like to invite you to a discussion we have on one of the BC threads, concerning postmodern thought.

    Here’s the link.

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

    . . . and his theory of history (line 1)

  • http://www.leavingthelandofwoo.com Bob Lloyd

    It’s interesting how Marx always gets blamed for Stalin and Mao.

    Very few of the critics of Marx ever get near reading any of his writings, or looking at his historical analyses. Or for that matter, opening the first volume of Capital where the labour theory of value is detailed.

    Marxist economics has been enormously successful in explaining why markets don’t clear, why historically the rate of profit declines, why competitive accumulation pressure leads to crises, and lots of other useful results as well whilst conventional economists sob into their hands in bewilderment as the latest crisis wipes out stock values.

    It’s all to easy to dismiss fundamental thinkers by crudely distorting their writings, ignoring the historical processes in countries like Russia and China, and associating their radical ideas with tyrants like Stalin and Mao.

    Historians instead look at the details, the power struggles, the distortion of the ideas of Marx and Lenin, the class interests of the bureaucracies in those countries, and they can tell the difference between crude bias and historical events.

    Stalin and Mao were massively divergent from both the politics and the economic analysis of Marx and there are countless books and articles that show this in detail. Indeed, even Bukharin explained how Russia would become state capitalist. Mao didn’t even pretend to draw on Marx’s thought in matters of economics.

    For some though, any question of the divine certitude associated with free markets is anathema. No matter how many disastrous crises, no matter how many collapses, no matter how much corruption, no matter how bankrupt the conventional economic analyses are, some people can’t ever contemplate anything else. It is the holy market or nothing.

    Marx stands out as a target for all their fear and prejudice. We should expect more of our historians than to settle for such prejudice.

  • http://www.leavingthelandofwoo.com Bob Lloyd

    One of the key aspects of capitalism is its coercive nature. Workers have no choice but to sell their labour power and trade their work for cash. Employers have no choice but to increase the exploitation as much as is sustainable, to undermine and destroy the competition, to accumulate to grow, and to invest to produce. Choice is superceded by the coercive pressure of the market.

    Of course capitalists want to destroy the competition, but the ideological acceptance of market capitalism depends on its presentation as socially beneficial. Corporate heads try to identify their interests with the interests of society, politicians claim they are helping society whilst helping capitalist corporations, human resource departments try to persuade employees to adopt mind sets and targets consistent with company interests.

    The ideological representation of the market in conventional economics is one where wages and prices tend to equilibrium, where investment finds its way to productive use, where growth is assured, where capital somehow produces value. The benefits of this sort of analysis were witnessed by all during the last two years as the financial pack of cards came tumbling down. And it wasn’t bankers who picked up the tab.

    The moment you question the market, you question all these coercive forces. Capitalists are coerced but they obtain substantial benefits so it’s easier for them to tolerate it, and also to walk away when things go bad. For workers, there is no alternative – they have no choice but to put up with whatever they can get. In the absence of economic clout, they don’t have choices. That’s the basis of the class relation.

  • http://cairolifereviews.blogspot.com/ FEM4Ever

    Who knows, Dave, maybe the panel will use Dan Brown’s LOST SYMBOL as a historical reference to support that bible study in schools is important!

  • http://www.aipingwang.com Aiping Fulepp

    you can continue to behave in a negative fashion. Growth and ideas are stifled by negativity. As you won’t be able to recognize the chances you receive you won’t be successful. You will slowly wither and you will eventually die as you have killed off your life energy.