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The Modern-Day Liberal, A Portrait

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I used to detest labels. Still do. They’re shortcut to thinking, given to stereotyping, and generally speaking, demeaning when referencing this individual or that. Some of them, however, I recently found out, are useful, alas, indispensable. One of them is the term “liberal.” Imagine everyday political discourse without recourse to this all-convenient label. You can’t!

Now, what do I mean by a liberal, or more generally, by a liberal mindset? Obviously, the term of old, as defined by John Stuart Mill and followers, no longer applies. One would have to be steeped in those writings in order to preserve a sense of continuity and the integrity of the original conception – a tall order indeed for today’s Everyman. Even a fairly recent usage is not only inaccurate but downright misleading. Our political landscape, if not evolving, is everchanging, which renders the term deliciously vague and ambiguous. What used to be a liberal policy, stance or administration only fifty years ago (Eisenhower, Kennedy, LBJ, even Nixon), nowadays is deemed a conservative, if not ultraconservative, position. Which would seem like a desirable trend, the entire nation becoming as it were, increasingly progressive. Instead of rushing to judgment, however, let me state the obvious: for all these detours and obstacles along the way, liberalism has an uncanny ability of reinventing itself.

What else don’t I mean by it? For reasons which shall soon become apparent, I don’t associate it with the New Left, let alone with the Radical Left such as we’ve witnesssed in the sixties during the height of the antiwar protests, the civil rights struggles, the sit-ins, the flower generation, the counterculture revolution and Joan Baez. Nor do I associate it with the civil rights workers shot down in Mississipi for their valiant efforts to institute the voter-registration program on behalf of the NAACP in the segregated South, or the farmworkers’ movement led by César Chávez. Perhaps I’m wrong, but somehow none of these strike me as anything even remotely connected to, or reflective of, today’s liberal mindset. Indeed, I’d go as far as to say that the recent gains in the area of gay rights or sexual harrasment legislation have nothing to do with today’s liberals (or any other polical affiliation you may think of), though I’m certain they’d like to take credit. These gains were won as a result of a bitter struggle by the oppressed people against a presumably equitable system which denied them basic human rights.

The point really is, the term “liberal” means nothing to an African-American who is forced to sit in the back of the bus or drink from a separate water fountain. It means nothing to a farm worker who works by the sweat of his brow from dawn to dusk under subhuman conditions and for substandard pay. It means nothing to women who fight for equal pay and a workplace that’s free of sexual harassment. It means nothing to gays and lesbians who insist on their consitutional rights to be treated as full-fledged citizens. These are individual struggles by the the oppressed people the world over, in our own society or any other, and we recognize them as such. To assume otherwise is lunacy.

Lastly, I’d hesitate to equate the modern-day version of liberalism with (the platform of, or the affiliation with) the Democratic Party. For one thing, that would be a category mistake. More importantly, however, I should hope there’re still some bright lights out there – Bernie Sanders, Dennis Kucinich, Tom Harkin, the departed Russ Feingold – who are the true champions of the people after the manner of the Roman Tribune of old, the advocate of the plebs. But these are exceptions, I say, the few courageous souls who dare speak out against injustice regardless of political consequences or whither the wind blows. And I certainly wouldn’t want to taint their good name by association.

What do I mean, then, by the modern-day liberal mindset or, to stop beating around the bush, the modern-day liberal? Rather than venturing on a hard-and-fast definition, let the portrait emerge from detailed examination of what I regard as a typical liberal response. Look forward to “Animal Farm revisited” soon to appear, part two of this three-part series.

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About Roger Nowosielski

  • http://www.gwbush.blogspot.com RJ

    FYI – It’s Dennis Kucinich and Tom Harkin, not “Dennis Kusinich” and “Tom Harkins.”

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

    Mea culpa. My spellchecker was disabled, but it’s no excuse. I hope the editor will correct.

  • http://www.gwbush.blogspot.com RJ

    No problem. I’m always here to help.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/realist Realist

    Until a society rises above caste, some untouchable or unmentionable group will always exist.

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

    Well, RJ, I’m certain you’ll enjoy part two. I wish I could say the same for some of my friends.

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

    That’s the general idea, Realist. I’m afraid, however, even the most progressive elements of the Left don’t make it their overriding agenda. They’re more concerned with sounding right than in being right. But I don’t want to get ahead of my thesis.

  • Baronius

    This article shouldn’t be titled “The Modern-Day Liberal, A Portrait”. How about “An Article About What Roger Thinks About A Word He Promises To Define In The Next Article”? Or how about “Turkey Sloppy Joes with Cheddar Biscuits”? I mean, this article doesn’t have anything to do with sloppy joes, but it doesn’t produce a portrait of the modern-day liberal either. It doesn’t even try to.

  • troll

    ‘liberal’…I think that the word has been so completely buggered that it’s pretty much useless

    …..all part of The Plan I guess

    I look forward to your def in part 2

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

    Why don’t you venture your own definition or understanding of the term, Baronius? And BTW, I don’t believe I as much even alluded to what I think the signification is. I’ve only hinted at, thus far, as to what I think it is not.

    Kind of hostile reading coming from you, Baronius, don’t you think?

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

    @8

    I don’t think so. There is a cluster of sorts, and it leads to interesting generalizations.

  • troll

    I do appreciate your point that liberalism of all colors originates as the ideology of a privileged class

  • Baronius

    “Why don’t you venture your own definition or understanding of the term, Baronius?”

    I didn’t write an article proposing to.

    I have my own understanding of the term, and reasons behind it. I read your article, and you made a couple of points that you thought didn’t apply to the definition of liberalism, and didn’t even explain the thinking behind them. I cannot imagine why you thought this was a complete article.

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

    It wouldn’t be so bad if it were only for that. All intellectuals suffer from a basic disconnect. Ultimately, it’s always the masses that do the heavy lifting. It’s always been so and it always will. My diagnosis of the modern tines, however, is even less complimentary. It’s almost as if today’s progressive stances served as a kind of refuge, if not an excuse, for remaining detached. Whatever the relationship between the intellectual and the masses may have been in the past, or whatever the former’s contribution to the struggle, it’s no longer the same. The vital connection is missing.

    Don’t spell out my meaning, though, ahead of time and deprive me of my punchlines. But you can always speak in code.

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

    Wasn’t a complete article, Baronius. Whatever gave you the idea that I thought that. I believe I made it clear that a definition/description will emerge after examining the cases.

    Why do I break it into parts, then? Simply don’t want to tax the reader’s patience and short attention span. I think these are good enough reasons, unless you’d rather read a thirteen page article such as Cohen used to crank out.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    The term liberal is in fact misleading, so I think that undermines Roger’s argument.

    Indeed, in a contemporary US political party context, it is hard to discern or understand any meaning or relevance for the term at all.

    What it used to mean in a political sense was as a code word for the prolonged drive by the authoritarian right to roll back any of the social and personal liberation that has been happening not only in the USA but all around the world for the last 50 or 60 years.

    The reason the right chose that word is because what they really opposed was tolerance but to oppose tolerance was always going to be a hard sell, so they went with the weasel word of liberal.

    Since then the word has become more diffuse, which probably suits the Right even more as they can use it to attack an ever wider group of people they want to control.

    Control is now at the heart of political debate and unfortunately it has spread across the political spectrum; with precious few exceptions nobody is clamouring for less control and more freedom these days but that is exactly what is needed.

    Personal freedom and a reduction of respect for traditional authority is one of the great themes of our times and a trend I both support and can’t see diminishing for many years to come.

    To my mind the other major flaw in Roger’s argument is that he sees liberalism as disconnected from “the masses”, which I totally disagree with.

    The disconnect is between those who seek to impose control on people’s freedom and choices, which is a feature of both sides of the political debate and those who want greater diversity, freedom and tolerance.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Chris’s analysis is pretty much spot on. There’s precious little genuine liberalism about these days.

    Britain doesn’t really have a “god of liberty” like Ron Paul but I suppose the closest equivalent would be David Davis, one of the few politicians to speak out against the erosion of civil liberties in the UK and a man of great integrity.

    If he rather than Cameron had won the party leadership, I would quite possibly have voted Tory at the last election for the first time in many years.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    In fact, in terms of the problems with contemporary politics, I would go further and say that the crisis facing politics is one of integrity.

    Almost all politicians are seen as dishonest and practically incapable of giving a straight answer to any question.

    Contrast that with the increasingly common attitude that people are tolerant of who or what other people are or do, but that they don’t pretend to be something they are not. You might call that integrity, the very quality most pols, of whatever colour, lack.

  • Cannonshop

    It’s like asking what a “Conservative” is-neither modern Liberals, nor Modern Conservatives resemble the stereotypes they hold of themselves, much less the stereotypes they view one another through.

    “Liberal” used to mean someone in favour of Liberty-for everyone, not just a select group.

    it doesn’t mean that anymore, any more than “Tolerance” means what the dictionary says it means, or Diversity, or Fiscal Responsibility, or any of the other constant-battering-buzz-words that have lost all meaning due to overuse and misuse.

    After all, wherein does granting MORE power, more centralized, top-down power, over the affairs of others, (and yourself) to government become being in favour of Greater Freedom and Liberty? It’s not. It’s anti Liberal in the classical sense.

    Statist, Royalist, Stalinist, but not Liberal in the classical sense…and the right is no better with its pandering to Evangelism and the Theocratic urges of Television Preachers and their born-again-followers.

  • troll

    just like the brain develops new neural pathways we need to think a way around the necrotic goo that is our political system

    how about a focus on production and sharing?

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

    @17 “…the crisis facing politics is one of integrity.”

    It’s like saying that ordinary folks are honorable but they become dishonorable once they enter politics.

    I’d rather argue that the ideologies, both on the Right and on the Left, but more so on the Left, have become truncated, which makes it almost impossible, even for those who are well-meaning, to clearly articulate a comprehensive program/plan of action which, if implemented, could possibly preserve if not restore the highest values to which all liberal democracies presumably aspire.

  • Cannonshop

    #20 The big problem, is the obsession with accumulating more power, and retaining it once it has been accumulated.

  • troll

    accumulation – confiscation – redistribution does seem a long way around to get to from each according to his ability to each according to his need

  • Glenn Contrarian

    To me, “liberal” means one who adheres to the maxim that “your freedom ends where my freedom begins”.

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

    I don’t know, Cannon. I know it’s a popular explanation, but it’s all too easy, and too simplistic, IMO, to simply lay it down at the people’s door by saying it’s a defect in human nature. Even if there is some truth to that (about the nature of power, that is), yours is a conversation stopper. There’s nowhere to go from thence.

    Remember, in the Greek polis, the officials were elected by drawing of lots, usually for a period not exceeding a year. There was a tacit understanding that in matters pertaining to the affairs of body politic, one man’s qualifications were as good as that of any other. I kind of like that idea, but I’m departing from the topic, I’m afraid.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    No, Roger, it’s not LIKE saying ordinary people become dishonourable when entering politics, it IS saying that!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    It’s like saying that ordinary folks are honorable but they become dishonorable once they enter politics.

    Party politics has a lot to answer for. I’ll stick my neck out and say that the vast majority of politicians are principled, or at least start out that way. They go into politics out of a desire to make a difference, to make things better according to their own conception of what is right and good.

    The sticking point is that they then have to suppress many of their personal opinions in deference to the official positions of the party they belong to, even if they vehemently disagree with them.

    A party without a unified front is weakened and will be mercilessly attacked by its political opponents, yet it can’t hope to espouse all of the often contradictory hopes and dreams of all its members. The larger the party, the stronger it is politically, but the less able it is to truly reflect and respond to the interests and wishes of the electorate.

    It’s bad enough in a three, four or five-party system like the ones in the UK and its constituent countries. In a place like the US, which despite its staggering size has managed to blunder into having just a two-party setup, it approaches the status of a joke.

    The loss of personal integrity starts when a politician has to stand up and claim to be fully supportive of his party’s platform, when he and everyone else knows damn well that’s not even remotely possible.

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

    @25

    Mine was a polite form of what you re-iterated in #24, Chris, that’s all.

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

    @26

    Yes, the party system is at least partly to blame. But to say this much still doesn’t disprove the point I was trying to impress on Cannon about truncated ideologies which make it difficult if not impossible to articulate a comprehensive plan of action to embark upon — which theme I’ll develop in part III. And the argument to the effect that the existing political parties wouldn’t pursue this course because it would dilute their power base doesn’t wash. A new party could easily arise with some such agenda (remember Ross Perot?) My argument is — there isn’t any comprehensive political agenda in terms of which to mobilize a whole bunch of disenchanted citizens under one banner. All we have is highly-truncated, fragmented ideologies.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    “Liberal” was successfully turned into an epithet by GOP politicians beginning in the 1970s and especially the 1980s.

    It was defined by them as a set of “feminized” and “soft” beliefs about minority rights, poverty and the environment, with advocacy of big government spending to create and sustain federal programs intended to address those problems. In addition, they defined liberals as soft sissies on defense and crime.

    And so many Democrats spent the 1980s and 90s trying to avoid the label. They spoke in a sort of code about ‘helping the middle class.’ They might throw in the word ‘progressive’ once in a while as a euphemism for the discredited L word.

    A lot of this has stuck, as when Rick Perry said in a recent speech: “We do have a few unhappy people in Texas. We generally refer to them as liberals.”

    Liberals’ self-images are usually about protecting the less privileged from the predations of the more privileged. It tends to get expressed politically as a fight against corporate interests on behalf of an economically stagnating middle class. The poor tend to get mentioned secondarily, because they tend not to vote and because thinking about them upsets many voters.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    The attempts by the author of this article and others to turn Liberal into a new kind of epithet meaning ‘defender of the established order’ is quite wrongheaded and nonsensical.

    Like the negative-image definition of Liberal offered by conservative politicians, it is more about making sure the reader/audience knows the speaker is not liberal. This is important, since on a number of issues, like taxing the rich and trimming the defense budget, these ‘non-liberals’ can sound an awful lot like uber-liberal Barney Frank.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    #30, to be clear, refers to the comments sections of other articles. Who knows what surprises Roger may offer in part II? But I suspect his opinions haven’t changed that much since this morning.

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    Baronius is right. This article doesn’t offer a portrait like it claims to in the title. It’s the prologue or introduction to a portrait.

    Also, I would like to know when Roger last spoke to an African-American, a farm worker, women, and gays and lesbians since he is speaking on their behalf.

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

    #29

    “The poor tend to get mentioned secondarily, because they tend not to vote and because thinking about them upsets many voters.”

    Didn’t expect that coming from you. How do you mean it now, as a statement of fact or as tongue in cheek? If the former, than I must conclude you’re either registering a criticism or expressing one of the undesirable consequences of what passes as political reality.

    Which is it?

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

    What hole did you crawl from under, LB. Lived in SF for over 30 years. Surely more gays and lesbians there and in the Bay Area than perhaps in the rest of the country. The same goes for Mexicans most likely.

    As to African-Americans, is your environment so pristine that you have to scratch your head in wonder that some people might be in direct contact with other people day in and day out?

    Your wondering makes me wonder.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    I meant that political rhetoric is often based on code and euphemism. I understand why politicians [on both sides] would emphasize the self-interest of the middle class that decides most elections. I don’t 100% approve, but I was being mildly sardonic, not condemning the practice. Actions count more than election rhetoric.

    Many conservatives are openly disparaging of the poor, implying that it’s their own fault, and that they get a free ride anyhow. This appeals to some very unappetizing, if unspoken, feelings that many voters may have.

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

    “crawl out from under” is the right construction, I think.

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

    Well, if that’s what the conservatives do, don’t you think it opens a viable area, and a window of opportunity, at the same time, for the Democratic Party, if it were to live up to its true name — and “political realities” notwithstanding — to radically redefine its platform and run with it? If it’s not going to do so, it’s going to remain increasingly irrelevant, as just another player in the good old game we call politics, not to mention miss its golden opportunity. For rest assured, some other party or movement will pick up the slack. Nature abhors vacuum.

    In any case, you’re beginning to get my drift and the direction I’m going.

  • Arch Conservative

    “No, Roger, it’s not LIKE saying ordinary people become dishonourable when entering politics, it IS saying that!”

    Christopher don’t you feel that politics attracts those who already possess some level of inclination toward, narcissism, greed, and an unhealthy desire to obtain power for oneself at the expense of others?

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    I’m wondering because you went into such a tizzy on another thread when Jordan was speaking for Stan, so I was curious why you were giving yourself a pass to speak on behalf on so many.

    So when did you talk to everyone about what “liberal” means to them?

  • Jordan Richardson

    is your environment so pristine that you have to scratch your head in wonder that some people might be in direct contact with other people day in and day out?

    The way you so frequently misinterpret and misunderstand even the simplest of statements does give cause to wonder, so I think EB’s question is a fair one.

    Why should we trust your interpretation when you’re so frequently wrong?

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

    You’re reaching, LB, really reaching. But do you disagree with my assessment, however, about what “liberal” means to other folk?

    Live dangerously, LB. Yes or no?

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

    @40

    Your contribution is welcome. Come again when you can.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I asked you a question, Roger, and I think it was a fair one.

    Why should anyone trust your yet-to-be-made but much advertised assessment? Where does it come from? What value does it have when you’re so frequently wrong about categorizing others?

    All we have is highly-truncated, fragmented ideologies.

    Agree 100 percent. The problem is that I see your position as just as fragmented and limiting, if not moreso than the “norm.”

    I’ve tried to address this in the past, but of course the conversation inevitably flows to my “emotions” or just dissipates altogether. This is what causes me to wonder how much actual PRACTICAL interest you have in the subject.

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    I am reaching? Then what do you call speaking on behalf of millions as you have done here.

    I honestly have no idea what “liberal” means to other folk and wouldn’t presume to. You may well be right, but do have any proof as to your assessment from any of the groups you cite? Or is that too being saved for the next article?

    Also, it would be news to quite a few of my fellow Southern Californians if there were more Mexicans in the Bay Area then down here.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Arch –

    Christopher don’t you feel that politics attracts those who already possess some level of inclination toward, narcissism, greed, and an unhealthy desire to obtain power for oneself at the expense of others?

    Just as the same kind of people are drawn to power and fame in every walk of life – military, business, entertainment – and not just politics.

    Assuming that such people are the norm is every bit as mistaken as assuming that they aren’t. You cannot make assumptions of someone based simply upon their chosen path.

    For instance, generals are famously narcissistic – look at Patton, at Montgomery and MacArthur. But then look at Omar Bradley, who was anything but narcissistic.

    Wouldn’t you agree, Arch?

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

    I won’t argue the last point, doesn’t really matter. But am I really speaking on behalf of the groups and people you mentioned? I don’t think I projected that kind of tone, and if I have, then I failed as a writer. What would count, though, in your own mind of course, to be speaking on behalf of anyone? Would I have to be an African-American in order to be able to speak on behalf of other African-Americans? Of course not. Even that fails the litmus test, because surely not every African-American thinks the same on any number of important or not important issues. What would qualify, then, speaking on behalf of any one group in your opinion?

    Perhaps it’s a red herring, LB, I don’t know, haven’t really thought about it. But you’re not saying, I hope, that I can’t express what I think about what other people think (as based on my experience, etcetera, etcetera) in a positive and forceful kind of way without the benefit of statistical studies at my command, do you now? Would you be more convinced if there were some such studies?

    In any case, it’s still an opinion piece, so the story goes, and you’re within perfect rights to dispute my opinion, just as I am within my rights to offer one. At this point, I don’t know what else to say.

  • Cannonshop

    #23 And yet, you are still a Democrat, Glenn?

  • Cannonshop

    #29 yet the self-image has nothing to do with their actual ACTIONS, Handy, it is merely a means to justify buying the votes of people locked into permanent underclass status by paternalistic and patronizing Leftist policies. The Same “Liberal” that supports Unions, also supports causes that put Union workers out of a job and dismantles or destroys domestic industries for the benefit of foreign nations who do not have those policies, but do have MFN status often conferred by the same “Liberal” gentlemen.

    “Liberals” claim to believe that my freedom ends where your nose begins, but then turn around and push for intrusions by OUR government into MY life-whether it’s “For the Children” or “the War on Terror” doesn’t matter-it’s about accumulating power and enervating the populace.

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

    In fairness, Cannon, didn’t he own up to this a comment or two down? Give the man credit.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    #48: the usual conspiracy-theory blather. Lazy non-thinking. If villains control everything, it’s easy to explain and impossible to change. Sitting on the sidelines repeatedly throwing the same stale tomatoes is not a very meaningful use of time.

    There are hundreds, if not thousands, of potential specific examples; some support your point and many refute it. Stop over-generalizing. Someone might come to the conclusion that you are uninformed and just like to spout off.

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

    30 – handyguy

    The attempts by the author of this article and others to turn Liberal into a new kind of epithet meaning ‘defender of the established order’ is quite wrongheaded and nonsensical.

    You are a good example of how liberals often attempt to help others by wrestling control of the established order and inflicting more rules for how to prevent bad things happening. They then defend that order.

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

    I can’t count the number of excuses that you have made for Obama, for example. When the facts are are clear that it is not just some resistance that has made him do a turn-around on his promises, it is his own new presidential ‘religion’.

    How many in congress come close to expressing the values of a Kucinich or a Sanders? They are all too busy being conformists to the ‘normative’ values of the dominant culture. So are liberal teachers. Be good, obey the law. So do you handy.

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

    48 –

    The minute I make ANY suggestion that I should have a right to participate in the decisions of gov’t–handy or Jet comprehend me as a tea party type.

    That tells me that they have something in common. They immediately comprehend direct democracy as being selfish. It is clear they expect that gov’t should intervene and control. They are authoritarians.

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

    Participate directly, that is, in the political process.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/haveno handyguy

    Cindy, I just think you over-generalize. You ignore most or all nuance, everything is black-and-white, “you’re for us or against us,” and everything is expressed in ridiculously melodramatic rhetoric — the kind that short-circuits a discussion fairly completely and quickly.

    I don’t think the president is perfect, but as Glenn has pointed out, criticism of him [especially the ferocious kind that appears on web sites] is so over the top and unfair that it’s impossible not to respond.

    If he were able to impose his campaign promises by royal fiat, I certainly believe he would. The fact that he has a brick-wall conservative opposition determined to deny him as much as possible is not irrelevant. But to you and Roger, this is me “making excuses” for “a traitor to the people.”

    There is not a lot to say to that except that I think you’re full of beans. You show little interest in actual discussions, just silly one-sided shouting matches.

    Glenn, in another recent article [about Ron Paul], linked to a June 2008 article by Dave Nalle. It drew 242 comments, a number of them by Dave, Clavos…and Cindy. All three of them seemed a lot more reasonable then. All three have become one form or another of extremist since then, with overheated [and sometimes warmed-over] rhetoric replacing logic.

    We get it: you are so damn mad. But the anger does not help you have anything that could be called a discussion. Instead you employ the language of propaganda, which is all Dave Nalle speaks now as well.

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

    Handy, you’re backsliding somewhat. Your #35 was a very forthright comment coming from you, I really mean it. Why don’t you try to stay in that groove. Obama needs no defenders just because he’s attacked by the conservative media. And why should you or Glenn take it upon yourself to defend him because of that? Don’t you think your time would be better spend discussing issues and ideas, something you’re accusing Cindy and me for not doing? Let’s start seeing some independent thinking going on here for a change rather than political hackery from both sides. It would really be a most welcome development. You’re capable of that, as evidenced by the comment I referenced. Chris is capable of it, as exhibited by a number of his remarks on the “London” thread, remarks which didn’t altogether jibe with the views of Richardson, Dreadful, STM, and “the official line.” We need to see more and more of this kind of independent thinking, instead of the usual party line. It’s precisely because some of you keep on espousing the party line time and time again that you’re evoking negative reactions from such as Cindy or myself. Not only is it annoying and frustrating, putting a stop to all conversations. More importantly, it does discredit to some of you as independent thinkers, thinkers in your own right.

    Cindy had posted a lengthy remark to Glenn on another thread, suggesting an alternative action. It was more of a plea, if you ask me, not an attack of any kind. Well, Glenn hasn’t as much as lifted a finger to honor it even with one-line reply, for courtesy’s sake even. Shame. Sometimes it makes me wonder that the only reason why some of you are in this attack-defense mode, Reps vs. Dems, that is, because that’s all you know and it makes you feel good. Now, I know youcan do better.

    And where is your response to my #37, by the way?

  • Baronius

    “But am I really speaking on behalf of the groups and people you mentioned? I don’t think I projected that kind of tone, and if I have, then I failed as a writer.”

    It really did come off that way.

  • Baronius

    Also, Roger, your comment #56 came off as condescending and snotty. And not particularly accurate, either. Your list of the “party line” people appears to be very different from mine.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/haveno handyguy

    Honestly, Roger, your #37 is not something I can “answer,” because I don’t agree with the premise. Many Democrats, including dozens of senators and representatives, as well as Glenn, zing and myself in this forum, have pointed out that the GOP and its supporters have employed anti-poor-people rhetoric.

    If a party doesn’t win an election, it can’t do much of anything. So the rhetoric employed in national election campaigns may not mention poor people much. I don’t see this as making a party “irrelevant.”

    I don’t see my two sets of observations as inconsistent in the least. You may agree with one and not the other. Fine.

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

    In the ear of the hearer, Baronius. Sorry ’bout that.

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

    Handy, it makes the party irrelevant because it ignores the ever-growing number of the “underclass” and fails to address their needs and concerns. So even for pragmatic reasons, this should be given consideration.

    But even apart from that, what are your own feelings on the subject? Do you think the poor and thus-far the invisible should be represented? If not not by the Democrats, then by whom? Saying that the GOP employed anti-poor rhetoric which still — one wonders for how long? — reverberates with many Americans who aren’t in that exact same position just yet is not the same as saying about how Handy the person relates to this subject.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cannonshop –

    I’m still a Democrat because I do lean more towards realpolitik, more towards doing what works best for the people and the nation (and the world) as a whole rather than adhering strictly to some ideology that sounds really good and patriotic in theory but is disastrous in practice.

    To be sure, there are things I won’t compromise – equal rights for all first and foremost.

    The GOP, on the other hand, has gone so far over to strictly dogmatic positions. Reagan and Bush Sr. were never, ever this dogmatic! When it comes to Reagan, in some respects he was to the LEFT of Obama, particularly on trade!

    I’d love to see the Democrats go further to the left – I’m Progressive, remember – but just as Dave Nalle stays in the Republican party in the hopes that he can get them to go in the direction that he thinks is sensible, so it goes for my decision to stick with the Democratic party.

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

    @57

    Actually, you’re right, Baronius. I was speaking on behalf of those groups, and I see nothing wrong with that. As far as I’m concerned, somebody’s got to.

    Have I been elected to do so? Of course, not, but why should that matter? Do I correctly represent their views (which is the kind of question LB posed)? Of that I can’t be certain either, but I certainly hope so.

    So we may argue, I suppose, over whether the manner of my speaking on behalf of all such is more or less accurate or representative of the actual reality, and I grant you that. On the other hand, Baronius, let me ask you this:

    Why should I consider your opinion on the subject matter if you’re of the mind that these people don’t need any kind of representation or advocacy?

  • Baronius

    At what point did I say that “these people” don’t need representation? I typically don’t believe that groups need representation, because I think of people as people, not groups. In fact, it seems that people who lump people into groups care very little about the actual people, and even moreso those who claim to speak for groups. On top of that is the presumption required to speak for groups. On top of *that* is the fact that you haven’t said anything on their behalf except given a couple of definitions of the word “liberal” that you don’t think are any good. So I’ll reserve judgement.

  • Cannonshop

    #62 Words have meaning. IS that “equal Rights” for Groups, or Individiuals? Is it “equal Opportunities” or “Equal OUTCOMES?” If everyone has the equal outcome of being a slave to the state, that’s not freedom…but it IS equal.

    Except, of course, for the people RUNNING the state. They’re more equal than the rest.

    And that’s your “Realpolitik” taken out of the Theoretical.

    Taken out of the Theoretical, much of the “Help” offered by government is more akin to the “help” a drug-dealer gives to hook new junkies.

    Helping people to be more dependent, less capable, and easier to control. This is not “Liberal” in the sense of favouring freedom, it is the equality of Authoritarianism.

    “In Soviet Russia, Everyone is equal, which is why Party Members have Dachas and other citizens stand in line for bread.”

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

    I put it as a conditional, Baronius, not assuming anything. Handy refuses to commit on this question. Some elements of the GOP employ anti-poor-people rhetoric, Handy says, and no doubt there’s some truth to that. Even the Democratic Party, by his own admission, skirt the issue.

    You tell me what am I to think?

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

    And BTW, Baronius, Romans thought otherwise and in one their better moments instituted the office of the Tribune to represent and speak for the plebs.

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

    What’s your view of the Labor Party, then, which supposedly had arisen to represent the interests of labor? Good, bad, indifferent?

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

    I don’t think at all you’re being doctrinaire, Cannon, and in spite of our disagreement on some of the fundamental principles of political philosophy, I know one thing, I can reason with you (which is more so than I can say for some on presumably my side of the political divide).

    Not to get too far ahead of my “thesis,” I view the liberal position (as based on this, however small and perhaps not altogether representative sample) as essentially a default position centered and united mostly if not exclusively in terms of issues (call it “position papers” on a number of select issues). The talk of “equal rights” is perhaps the central feature uniting the liberals (for so doing, they’re espousing one of the chief values of liberal democracies). The other uniting feature is their view of government as representing the ultimate solution. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a bankrupt political philosophy, if you can call it such – strictly issues-centered and issues-oriented. It’s for that reason that I spoke of it as truncated, highly fragmented, and far from being comprehensive.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/haveno handyguy

    Government as the “ultimate solution”? No. Not myself, not Nancy Pelosi, certainly not Barack Obama [to name three]. We believe in the usefulness of government, and don’t see it as a necessary evil or something to be minimized because it is harmful, which is the default ideological position of conservatives.

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

    In that case, I think it behooves you to spell out which areas in which you’d discourage government intervention.

    And BTW, I have no idea what Barack Obama thinks. I know what he says.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cannonshop –

    You’re referring to equal OUTCOMES. I’m not.

    That’s why I made the determination long ago that if I ever became filthy rich, I’d never just ‘give’ money to my family. I might loan them money so that they could earn their own prosperity, but giving someone a lot of money is every bit as bad as ensuring they have no money at all.

    If we were to become rich, my wife and I long ago decided that we’d probably open up an orphanage, or a shelter for abused women. These are efforts towards equal opportunity, not equal outcomes.

    Equal OPPORTUNITY, on the other hand, ensures – or should ensure – that kids who grow up in poor areas should have the RIGHT to have just as good an education (and thus the opportunity) as those who live in prosperous areas. Teach a man to fish, and so forth.

    And this whole discussion is where conservatives completely misunderstand what liberals want. Most liberals don’t want to just GIVE people money for the heck of it. We DO believe in giving people a helping hand when they’ve hit a bad spot, and we do this to help them avoid having to go into outright bankruptcy, foreclosure, homelessness, and crime.

    But for some reason, among the Right such concepts are almost considered blasphemy.

    Give a man a fish, you only feed him for a day. Teach him to fish, you feed him for life. But if you tell him ‘tough titty, go and find your own fish you lazy bum’ you go a long way towards condemning him to a life on the streets…and the business-destroying crime that goes with it.

  • Cannonshop

    #72 Here’s the problem: we don’t disagree on goals, but our approaches to solving the problems (or, even evaluating their causes) are so different that we might as well not be speaking the same language.

  • Cannonshop

    Going back to a discussion you opened with a recent article; Why do Liberal Politicians send their kids to exclusive private schools?

    Answer: because they love their children, want those children to get a good education that will help them succeed-an education that those children would not recieve in Liberal-run, government-run, Public Schools.

  • zingzing

    “Why do Liberal Politicians send their kids to exclusive private schools?”

    because they can afford to. yes, those schools are very good. but they cost thousands of dollars that the average american does not have.

    you seem to have forgotten that part.

  • Cannonshop

    No, Zing, I haven’t forgotten that. I would like you to possibly consider, just for a moment, mind…what it would be like, if EVERYONE had the same opportunity to send their kid to a school of THEIR CHOICE rather than being stuck with the choice of some bureaucrat.

    What if, just what if, a parent living in, say, some shitty inner-city hell-pit could send their kid to a better school, one that isn’t infested with gangs, where there maybe aren’t metal-detectors and strip searches at the doors.

    What if?

    Now, get this: you can’t. They can’t, and it’s pretty much entirely the fault of the “authorities that know better” that they don’t have that choice.

  • Cannonshop

    It’s the authoritarian urges of central planners, of GOVERNMENT and its hangers-on, that prevents people from being able to vote with their feet-from choosing where to go, from choosing the schools that work over the schools that are fixtures of the rotting, decaying, crime ridden cesspit inner cities.

  • zingzing

    “What if?”

    yes, what if a fantasy world existed where everyone could afford to send their kids to the schools they wanted to? what you’re describing is not reality, never has been and probably never will be. every parent would want to send their kids to the best schools. every single one. do you think that would work? no, but you apparently haven’t thought that far ahead.

    “Now, get this: you can’t. They can’t, and it’s pretty much entirely the fault of the “authorities that know better” that they don’t have that choice.”

    yes, you can and no, it isn’t. if people want to send their kids to private school, they can. they are perfectly free to do so. they are also perfectly free to move to a place with better schools. whether they can afford to do so or not is another matter.

    school funding is attached to property taxes. therefore, the poor will stay poor and the rich will stay rich. that’s fucking reality. should it be? of course not. is it going to change? i doubt it.

    but living in a fantasy world isn’t going to change anything, so wake up.

  • Cannonshop

    Oh, and something else, Your ideology, it doesn’t teach a man to fish, it teaches him to be a victim, your philosophy elevates victimhood to some kind of admirable, noble status, that people are ‘entitled’ to material things, that they can’t depend on themselves, that there are no consequences to their own actions, that it’s all some giant conspiracy to hold them down, you teach envy, avarice, and laziness, and above all, your philosophy teaches helplessness.

    It CREATES a thousand hungry mouths, but does not teach those mouths to feed themselves.

    THAT is the true legacy of the Left Wing. Hungry, lazy, helpess victims identified by neat demograhic charting into constituencies that only serve their masters.

  • zingzing

    “It’s the authoritarian urges of central planners, of GOVERNMENT and its hangers-on, that prevents people from being able to vote with their feet-from choosing where to go, from choosing the schools that work over the schools that are fixtures of the rotting, decaying, crime ridden cesspit inner cities.”

    that’s a vast simplification. but that’s rhetoric!

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/haveno handyguy

    Cannonshop = all rhetoric, all the time.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cannonshop –

    In your argument with zing, did you miss the part about school funding being tied to property taxes, and so the poor schools stay poor and the rich schools stay rich?

    And did you miss the part that NO, poor people do NOT have the money to just up-and-move to a place where the schools are better?

    Have you ever thought that maybe, just maybe poor people aren’t poor because they’re lazy, that there’s a LOT more to the issue? Here – EDUCATE YOURSELF. See what has happened since Reaganomics took effect!

    Or do you really think the fact that since the advent of Reaganomics, the income of the rich has skyrocketed and the incomes of the middle- and lower-classes has stagnated or fallen is STILL somehow the fault of the liberals and the poor?

    Cannonshop, how could such a vast redistribution of wealth – from the poor to the rich – over the past thirty years under Reaganomics somehow be the fault of the liberals and the poor???? Last I recall, we liberals NEVER supported Reaganomics!

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

    Cindy, Anarcissie, troll

    Some interesting ideas appear to emerge as a result of having opened this topic, ideas no one seems to want to touch with a ten-foot pole. (It’s a good sign thus far, and no pun intended, pleaaaaaase.)

    Key idea: no representation of the “underclass” — let’s call them “the invisibles” from now on, to cut to the chase — given our present political system. I’m thinking out loud here, so stay with me.

    The conservatives/GOP/etc. often use “anti-poor” rhetoric, and it still resonates with a good proportion of the American public. The Democrats aren’t much better, the only difference being, what the Republicans have the guts to say, the Democrats pass over in silence. And this neglect of the “underclass” by either party translates in my mind to a vacuum. Further, since nature abhors vacuum, as the saying goes, it’s a blind spot in American politics, a window of opportunity, etc., take your pick, depending on one’s POV and what one wants to accomplish.

    Now, what I mean by the “invisibles”? It’s all those who are chronically unemployed or on unemployment rolls, the students, the seniors, those who have lost their homes because of foreclosure, the homeless, the under-the-table workers and farm workers whether black or Mexican, legal or illegal, men or women, people on general assistance and food stamps, and feel free to add to this list of categories — all people, in short, who are no longer a vital part of the economic system either as consumers or producers and only marginally a part of the political system (now and then, that is, every four years or so). Which is precisely why they are “invisibles.” They’re of little or no usefulness insofar as the American business is concerned and only of limited usefulness in so far as the political system it concerned (e.g., during general elections). (See remarks by a commenter named “Handyguy” up the thread.)

    Now, here is the interesting part. Whatever the history of the “welfare state” idea and the original conception behind it — we might have to go to Sweden in the early 1900, if memory serves — the welfare state has evolved beyond the original purposes for which it may have been designed. To wit, the welfare state has become a machine for cranking out “the invisibles” (a fact not lost of course on the politicians) at an ever-increasing rate (the rate depending of course on how the capitalist system is doing as any point in time, the business cycle(s), etc). Of course given our present economic crisis of global dimensions .– very few would dispute this characterization any longer), it’s a pretty sure bet that the army of the invisibles is bound to grow in close to exponential rates (perhaps I’m exaggerating somewhat, but not by much). These remarks are restricted thus far to the US and all post-industrial economies; except for China and India and other emerging economic powers, most of the Third World has always been and still remains “invisible.”

    All of the above provides us with a fresh perspective on any number of contemporary events, the Arab spring, for one, and the London riots in particular. With respect to the latter, I have this observation to make. The unprecedented level of outrage against the rioters — and from all quarters now, mind you: not only the government, conservative at the moment, but ordinary people of all political persuasions, be they Republicans or Democrats, Whigs or Tories, conservative or liberal — is fueled by the fact that the invisibles have become highly visible, that they dared to rear their ugly head. How dare they, given that the welfare state provides for all their needs? Of course one way of accounting for this volume of outrage is in terms of subconscious, repressed fear — yes, even from all the “decent folk” who have all along been playing it by the rules, trying “to make it.”

    There is of course a historical precedent and a parallel at the same time. Think of today’s “invisibles” on analogy with Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables of late 18th century France. And here is the delicious part and a genius of an idea: the storming of the Bastille by the masses. Why Bastille? Well, whenever an invisible becomes “highly visible,” he’s become a criminal in the eyes of the authorities and even everyday, decent folk — for crossing the line! Well, there is no act of greater symbolic significance than that which demolishes the very concept of “criminal,” which concept aims at negating the very reality of a revolution. And the storming of Bastille accomplished precisely that. I say there is an object lesson for us here, yes, even today.

    Now, I understand that exploiting the spoken-of blind spot/weakness of the American political system by instituting a bona fide representation system on behalf of the invisibles is only a temporary and intermediate type of solution — for in a sense, it plays into the system which is already in effect and thereby perpetuates it. One might want to look here at the history of the labor movement in England, the formation of the Labor party, and the circumstances which eventually caused the Labor party become co-opted. There may be some important lessons for us here. Even so, I suggest the idea of (political?) representation of the ever-growing army of the Invisibles is worth considering, if only because of an outside chance it may help somehow transform or transcend the existing system. And then, who knows? novel modes of production relations may emerge or be forged anew as a result of a radical shift in power relations.

    That’s it for now, folks. The comment space is now open (chuckle, chuckle).

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

    … not a lost cause for the politicians …

    paragraph 6

  • Cannonshop

    #82 Glenn, my family moved a lot…and I mean a LOT. when I was going to school, I experienced schools with money-to-burn and schools where the textbooks were fifty years old and the buildings were built in the forties.

    Guess which ones actually provided education, rather than indoctrination?

    It’s telling when you move from one state, and a school district supported by a tax-base where there isn’t any money, to a district in another state which has computers, the newest books, can afford snappy athletic teams and big, expensive athletic fields…and you end up testing into a higher grade because you’re that far in advance of what the locals have been learning.

    I went from an area in the 1980s that was predominantly first and second generation Americans and most of my peers spoke spanish at home, to a predominantly white area that classed as ‘middle class’ and are, accordingly, good liberal types…and tested HIGHER than my peers, with the education I got in a district that had trouble keeping the heat on, had asbestos in the ceilings, and only had two school BUILDINGS to its name.

    So I don’t buy your money argument.

    The difference is Commitment.

    It’s not the goodies, it’s the teaching, or lack thereof.

    And I’ll stand by my earlier comment on another scale: Your way teaches people to be helpless and dependent, to believe they can’t do anything for themselves and that they need Big Brother to do it for them.

    AS for the spread of Wealth between Reagan and the present:

    Do those numbers account for birth rates, job loss, the destruction of manufacturing, mining, and other ‘dirty’ job industries in this country? ’cause there were a hell of a lot more oil fields, factories, Mills, and manufacturers in the U.S. in 1980, than there are today, and the number is trending downward-those lost industries represent the best economic opportunities for blue-collar people, people who do not have rich daddies to pay for their college degrees, and most of that job-loss traces right back to the rich, fat asses of the Democratic Party.

    Add in that the single highest birth-rates in this country are among people with High School or less educations, and the highest percentage growth is in the lowest tier of economic activity, while the good working-class jobs have been exported or destroyed, and you’re GOING to get an increasing wealth-gap.

    Period.

    It’s GOING to happen. When you’re running a system that pays single women to have kids instead of abortions, keeps junkies on a subsistence wage from SSI instead of letting them hit bottom, criminalizes huge numbers of people every year for what amounts to victimless crimes, you’re going to have an expanding, and incapable of anything but pulling a vote lever underclass.

  • Cannonshop

    Tammit, used the wrong term-today’s “Liberals” or “Progressives” aren’t in any stretch of the imagination “Liberal”, they’re Statist/Leftist, or Authoritarian in character, Paternalist in their best form, Stalinist in their worst, but illiberal indeed in their urges, efforts, programmes and policies.

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

    Sounds like a schizoid personality, wouldn’t you say?

  • Anarcissie

    I think liberalism, from Locke right down to the present, has been if not consistent at least genealogically connected, much as the Christian Church started as primitive Christianity (analogous to classical liberalism) and developed into Catholicism (Democratic Party, social democrats, Welfare statists), Protestantism (‘conservatives’, ‘libertarians’) and other sects.

    Liberalism is the political philosophy of capitalism. Capitalism is the economic system of liberalism. The central sacrament of both is property. The problem is that capitalism doesn’t work, or at least doesn’t work smoothly. The rich tend to get richer and the poor poorer, until there is some kind of breakdown and a reshuffling of powers and resources. Everyone wants the good part without the bad part, that is, they want to keep their stuff (and live happily forever after) but as Marx ponted out, ‘the bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the means of production,’ which ironically destabilizes their political and social dominance. Moreover, liberal-capitalist ruling classes seem irresistibly attracted to imperialism, war, plutocracy and kleptocracy, to the point of financial and moral bankruptcy, as we are now observing of the United States. So like everything else, a capitalist polity contains the seeds of its own destruction.

    Until then, the poor ye have always with you. The point of the Welfare state is to keep them quiet; otherwise they will be tempted to get up to crimes and other disorderly behaviors, spread disease and unsightly conditions, and so on. I don’t know why Welfare is such an issue, unless it runs athwart some deep sado-masochistic need to punish the poor for offending the not-so-poor by being poor. Conceded, the self-righteousness of the Welfarists is almost as repellent as the sadism of the anti-Welfarists.

    All of this is of course unnecessary. Human technology and industry have long since provided the means of subsistence without much labor for everyone.

  • Anarcissie

    Oh, in regard to schools, I was just talking with a fellow who has been doing quite well at IBM, six figures and all that, who was schooled almost entirely by New York public schools. It was partly his own choice; he grew up with an antipathy for upper-middle-class pretensions which rendered the elite schools very unpleasant for him. The tendency of elites to send their children to private schools probably has mostly to do not with the efficacy of the schools but with class and race consciousness.

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

    Last paragraph — precisely, we’re all overexerting ourselves over nothing because we’re still laboring under the old model whereby profit, wealth and riches have to be squeezed out of labor. But saying so and knowing so won’t make it go away, Anarcissie. There has got to be constructive solutions, a plan of action, a way of pushing thing over the top.

    You do understand that’s what defines my concern – understanding must lead to a plan of action.

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

    … things …

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

    Well, a city (Brooklyn) college was more than fine as far as my undergraduate education was concerned. NYU and the University of Oregon, more than fine for graduate work. In the process, I’ve been exposed to the greatest minds in philosophy and social sciences. And none of those were elite schools.

  • Anarcissie

    Thus far, most people don’t seem interested in a solution. Hence my perhaps wishful concept of ‘the shadow of slavery’, which you found too vague as I recall.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/haveno handyguy

    If capitalism and liberalism are so inextricably intertwined, where do conservatives fit in? Social conservatives especially. Libertarians are classical liberals, with a purity test added on, no compromises allowed; and yet many of them append social conservatism, based on religious beliefs [and sometimes bigotry], and are not really so pure.

    Many liberals, including me, question and oppose capitalism’s excesses all the time. The main talking points of the Democratic party, for years now, have been about opposing corporate interests to help the middle class [with continued welfare for the poor a given, and with emphasis on education to try to lift people out of the underclass]. Not that actions always live up to the rhetoric, but that’s still the stated stance.

  • Baronius

    Handy – You’re falling into a trap. The purpose of this article, I think, was to un-define the word “liberal” so that the commenters can say anything they want to about liberals. You’re trying to pin a meaning on something the participants don’t want to define.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/haveno handyguy

    Actually, I think they are over-defining it. And inaccurately to boot.

  • Baronius

    Roger, comment #83 is wrong. First of all, it’s insulting to compare the “invisibles” of western democracies to those of the Third World. Your very definition of western invisibles is a list of the programs which provide them with spending power. I don’t know what you think Rwandan invisibles are like, but their story doesn’t include food stamps.

    And seniors – they’re invisible? Tell it to the AARP. Seniors in the US have the highest level of wealth and more likely than average to vote. They’re the dominant political class in America.

    And I know that you want to romanticize the rioters of England as the vanguard of your revolution, but they’re just people who are stealing and destroying things. They’re no more politically motivated than the people who destroy their hometowns after their basketball or hockey team wins the championship. The outrage against the rioters – hardly as universal as you depict it, by the way – is primarily because they’re jerks.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/haveno handyguy

    Roger’s 83 is an example of theory triumphing over common sense.

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

    I don’t think, Baronius, you could ask for a more concise definition than that offered in #88. I’d say incisive and insightful as well, but I don’t want to aggravate you. If anything, Handy is more correct than you.

    What’s inaccurate about it, BTW, just asking?

    And Baronius, in case you have forgotten, thinking is a process. What is wrong with a methodology that’s being on display here, methodology you so strongly disapprove, if I may ask?

    Oh, I see. Now I’m being accused of ulterior motives, the purpose being to encourage the visitors to dump on liberals. That must be it.

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

    Handy, your last comment is a cop-out pure and simply. It purports to be saying something whereas in actuality is says nothing at all — except for the obvious fact that you disagree.

    But you didn’t have to resort to such a roundabout way to tell me that. I knew that already.

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

    Anarcissie, what was one of Uncle Karl’s favorite sayings – the purpose is . . . — fill in the blanks since I’ve forgotten — to change the world.

    I’m not knocking down your concept, but how does it help us here?

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

    #97

    Wait till seniors start rioting if and when their benefits get cut off. Come again then.

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

    Though I grant you, they still have some pull and I suppose are better represented than the other groups. The “invisible” metaphor was for dramatization purposes. Soon enough, though, it won’t be so much of a metaphor. Slowly and surely, we’re edging there.

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

    Just seen your #94, Handy. Will respond shortly.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/haveno handyguy

    #88 is an almost purely economic definition of liberalism. But liberalism is also about individual and civil rights. Some very vocal upholders of individual rights — meaning libertarians — decry liberalism as loudly as anyone. And supposedly they are laissez-faire capitalists as well. [Although there is a streak of distrust of corporations in there somewhere too. Libertarians are rarely pure and often paradoxical.]

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

    @94

    But conservatives and liberals (and libertarians of course) believe in, and subscribe to the values (and benefits) of, the capitalist system. Liberals, in addition, believe in all the things you mentioned/enumerated, i.e., that progress, in the very terms you delineated, is possible given that system. So far so good?

    As to libertarians (especially those who are leaning toward social conservatism), I don’t see any puzzle there. Since no compromises are allowed, your own words, they needn’t concern themselves with other folk.

    Are we on the same page so far?

  • Baronius

    #88 is a Marxist definition of liberalism. Handy’s right that it’s purely economic, because that’s what Marx believed. There’s nothing about the #88 definition that impresses me. You can’t even call it a definition, because without the Marxist baggage it says almost nothing. I mean, liberalism is founded in property? What? Not classical liberalism; definitely not modern liberalism. And the poor get poorer? Nonsense. Look at the history of western democracy. And the stuff about revolutionizing the means of production, and resultant destabilization? You’d need to stretch the meaning of those words past the breaking point to use them to describe anything post-1848.

    If you’ve got a definition of liberalism that excludes post-Enlightenment experience, what’s the point of using the word “liberalism”?

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/haveno handyguy

    My point was that many [most] self-described libertarians are very compromised, either about social conservatism or about big companies [some are anti-establishment enough to distrust corporations].

    A strict libertarian like Dave Nalle is seen by someone like Baronius as a liberal on social issues. Tea Partiers have some strong libertarian leanings, but they may not all feel the same way about Medicare or gay marriage or the power of big corporations.

    And some liberals “believe in” the capitalist system more than others. They are not all the same.

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

    Of course they are very compromised, Handy — on your view. But they’re not “compromised” in their own eyes if they’re “pure” libertarians. I don’t believe my remark contradicted what you’re saying.

    Furthermore, when I speak of liberals, I certainly don’t mean libertarians. They’re a breed all their own. Nor did I mean to suggest there aren’t significant or differences, or differences of degree, among liberals themselves, along the lines you enumerated. Of course there are. Nonetheless, my argument is that there are sufficient similarities to be able to come up with a telling sketch of liberalism (or liberal stance) as it is practiced today.

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

    @107

    I don’t believe #88 excludes “post-Enlightenment experience.” In any case, there are definitely diverging views about post-Enlightenment experience. In fact, the very school of post-modernism — Foucault, Lyotard, Nancy, Agamben, Lacan — is founded upon suspicion that Enlightenment didn’t prove to be a kind of turning point many of us have been made to believe. You may disagree, but to dismiss this entire school of thought without giving it even a cursory consideration is foolhardy at best.

    The definition isn’t just economic; just as importantly, it gets at liberal political philosophy when it comes to its proper function and true nature as well — as ideology. Ideologies, to the best of my understanding, are not conspiratorial. They arise naturally as bodies of beliefs (even though they’re all couched in rational and logical terms). And no question that the founders of liberalism and liberal political philosophy sincerely believed in its promises. Most of their followers still do. But none of this detracts from the fact that all ideologies are, in a manner of speaking, myths. So even if liberal political philosophy originated with the best possible intentions, it eventually became a myth which functions to justify and propagate the very economic system which gave rise to it.

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

    I should add to the above that most of the postmodernists weren’t Marxists.

  • Baronius

    Roger – The concrete truth is that more people are living longer, attaining food shelter and clothing, attaining more education, and making more choices in their lives than ever before. You can talk about myths all you want, but you can’t claim that during the arc of liberalism, the poor have gotten poorer. It’s just false.

    Is Anarcissie’s definition of liberalism economic? It expresses economic determinism. It also implies a Hegelian reading of history. When I went to school, economic determinism + historical materialism = Marxism. We’re not talking about mostmodern thinkers here – maybe Anarcissie is, maybe he’s not – but I’m just looking at a definition that incorporates Marxist thinking and terminology and pointing out the obvious.

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

    I’m certain Anarcissie (she’s a she) will speak for herself, so let’s shelve this one for now.

    Of course I’m not denying that industrialization, spurted by capitalism, produced real and tangible results. How could I? What I am arguing, however, we’ve reached the peak, and that in the West at least, the post-industrial societies, that is, we are beginning to experience steady decline. Further, I don’t believe the West will recover (at least in terms of recapturing the living standard that were so commonplace only fifty years ago). The myth, however — and there’s always some truth to any myth, Baronius, you do know that — would have us believe that progress will go on forever.

    Well, I don’t and one reason is — it’s a myth.

  • Anarcissie

    Marx said, ‘The point is not just to understand the world, but to change the world,’ or so I’m told. Understanding is supposed to have some sort of operational valence. But does it? Maybe, maybe not. Nietzsche thought otherwise: ‘It is not enough that you understand in what ignorance man and beast live; you must also have and acquire the will to ignorance. You need to grasp that without this kind of ignorance life itself would be impossible, that it is a condition under which alone the living thing can preserve itself and prosper: a great, firm dome of ignorance must encompass you.’ The world often seems to confirm Nietzsche’s, rather than Marx’s view. In any case the dream of reason produces monsters.

    However, I find myself inexorably drawn to concocting theories, if only for my own amusement. To me, liberalism-capitalism is coherent only when it is understood genealogically. And it seems worth understanding, in that it is the most revolutionary system of ideas and social relations ever unleashed on the earth.

    Libertarians are the fundamentalists of liberalism-capitalism. In this, the end of days, they want to return to the primitive church as it was in the beginning of days. It is a form of decadence, like 1950’s folk music, which can be quite elegant and enjoyable, like many other forms of decadence. Up to a point, I enjoy hearing the young Joan Baez sing ‘Silver Dagger’ just as I enjoy reading Nozick. Just as 1950’s folk music related completely to the Western canon and its pop variants, although often through rather variegated pretenses, so libertarianism relates to great church of liberalism.

    Liberals of all stripes, including libertarians, have many values and ideas in common: individualism has been mentioned, for instance. Self-actualization. Equality before the law. Due process. Privacy. Freedom of expression, assembly, association, and contract, as long as class privileges and property rights are not violated or threatened. But the overwhelming concern of liberalism is to keep capitalism going.

    Hence no one should have been surprised when the liberal Obama continued imperial war, the surveillance state, or the funding of the plutocracy. Mainstream liberalism holds these policies, along with regulation and Welfare, to be necessary to keep the world safe for capitalism in the face of its material, social and moral problems.

    I must admit I don’t know how any of this would help anyone change the world. To quote yet another German, Rilke: ‘You must change your life.’ If the world chooses to accompany you, very well; but it may choose otherwise.

  • Anarcissie

    In capitalism, the poor get poorer during ‘good times’ relative to the rich. That is what is happening now and has been happening since around 1980, when it became obvious to the American ruling class that their Soviet competitors were failing.

    However, the progress of the rich toward greater riches and the poor towards greater poverty can be disrupted by things like war, revolution, plague, environmental collapse, and some technological change.

    For example the hitherto triumphant system of existing capitalist power fell apart in 1914, leading to a compound war of 30 or 75 years, depending on how you count. During war, the value of labor rises sharply — almost anyone can be usefully employed, if only to stop bullets — and it becomes crucial to keep the home front orderly and productive lest the working class turn rebellious. So, in Britain and the United States, we observe a corresponding radical growth in the wages and entitlements of working-class people. Once the wars were won, naturally, those wages and entitlements began to be rescinded.

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

    It seems to be you’ve resigned yourself to the unfolding, blind forces of history to write the next chapter of human events. Don’t you believe in the efficacy of human agency, if only as a catalyst towards making a difference? Or perhaps you view human agency as a resultant, rather than as driver, of historical events.

    Granted, your contrast between Nietzsche’s and Marx’s view is well-taken. Still, what are we to make of liberation movements, whether from colonialism or any other kind of domination? Were all these efforts and bitter struggles mere resultants of history or perhaps, just perhaps, they’ve altered the world, if only however so slightly.

    You seem to adopt a wait-and-see attitude. I’d like to believe that we can and should be proactive when it comes to determining our own future.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/haveno handyguy

    the overwhelming concern of liberalism is to keep capitalism going

    That is such a ridiculous sentence that I don’t think I will read any more of what this “deep thinker”/regurgitator of nonsense has to say.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/haveno handyguy

    113: You write with such certainty. Everything you say could be complete science fiction [and much of it is, as far as I am concerned]. Do you allow any room for error?

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

    But so do you, Handy, and that’s exactly how it should be if you believe in what you’re saying. Don’t you agree?

    However, certainty is only the tone of my utterances, not the basis of any of them. Understanding, partial understanding is.

    And you misjudge me, by the way, when you assume I don’t allow any room for error. It’s precisely because my understanding is only partial, how well I know it? that I always welcome challenging views and opinions. How else could I possibly improve on my understanding and grow?

    As an aside, do you really find the remark you cite at the start of your #117 so offensive that you’re prepared to dismiss the whole person as an idiot?

  • Anarcissie

    roger nowosielski: ‘… You seem to adopt a wait-and-see attitude. I’d like to believe that we can and should be proactive when it comes to determining our own future.’

    I was merely considering Marx’s idea that understanding the world should enable one to change it. Nietzsche-wise, I would say that it does not; an ounce of charisma or energy or determination is worth a ton of understanding. Understanding must be valued for its own sake. As for human agency, some people do seem to be able to affect history quite a bit, in many cases rather unfortunately.

    As for this human agent, I am a part-time activist. Tomorrow, I will be out with Food Not Bombs, showing people the goodness of anarchy and communism, or whatever you want to call it, but I think the Revolution is quite a way off in spite of that. Still, one must do something. Écrasez l’infâme! Or at least tie its shoelaces together! Or say your’re going to, someday!

    Did my analysis of liberalism get me out of the house? I don’t know.

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

    I wasn’t being critical, just a clumsy way, I suppose, of posing a question I myself am having trouble with. Trust your formal mode of address is no indication of anything in particular.

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

    I don’t know, Anarcissie. Perhaps I’m suffering from a Messianic complex. Perhaps I’m not patient enough. Perhaps I’m running out of time. Perhaps I’m a revolutionary at heart. Perhaps I haven’t the time left to see my action(s) take fruition. So yes, I do want to mobilize the masses. Ultimately, the intellectuals don’t count (unless they’re agents provocateur). Not certain if a chuckle is appropriate at this point.

    To cite another botched-up clip from the end of The Seven Samurai I’m too lazy at the moment to look up — “It’s the peasants that won.”

  • Baronius

    Roger, since you’re the one who mentioned your Messianic complex, let me take it as an opportunity to warn Anarcissie – who of course is female, because you only take on female apprentices. She should know that Roger Is Right, even when he’s wrong, or misstated something. He’ll say he’s tryig to correct you, or reach a deeper understanding, but he’ll do it via emotional abuse. You’ll be everything to him; you’ll be nothing to him; he’ll get petulant and nasty if you don’t let him string you along. He may be polite in private correspondence, but he needs to be dominant occasionally in public. It’s like a Maoist self-criticism session.

    FWIW, this comment is intended as a piece of advice, not a personal attack. So let’s say I could be completely wrong. This is just what it looks like to a BC regular.

  • troll

    Anarcissie – has your food not bombs group been getting any push-back from de atorities that looks to be developing here and there (Orlando, San Fran)?

  • troll

    for all of your nay saying perhaps Karl Marx was right

  • t

    (that last for Baronius of course)

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

    Baronius,

    Anarcissie is hardly an apprentice, let alone my apprentice. I would have thought you’d have sense enough to figure that out.

    The truth of the matter is, I’m honored that some of my writings and ideas are interesting enough for Anarcissie to comment upon, In spite of my own attempts at erudition and decent education, I consider her considerably better well-read that I am, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. The only thing I’m guilty of, I sort of “abducted” Anarcissie from another discussion site when it became apparent that the discussions were getting stale. And haven’t done so for my benefit only, but in order to introduce her to Cindy and troll, with an idea of forming a discussion circle.

    So yes, dear Baronius, appearances can be deceiving.

  • Anarcissie

    I advise one and all not to make any assumptions about my attributes. I could be female, male, a group of people, a demon, an extraterrestrial, or a machine. I would like people to focus on what I say, not what I am — or rather, ‘am’. For the purposes of discourse, all second- and third-person pronouns of whatever gender and number will be accepted. (I do take exception to people who come down with a case of the we’s; they want to say something bad about you, but try to pass it off under the cover of the first-person plural. You know the game.)

    I wasn’t aware of changing the register of my language. My form of quotation is meant only to indicate unambiguously who said what, and what said who.

    I wonder if I should say something about good old Marx. Whenever I write publicly someone is sure to pin his picture on me. I guess I will confess that my readings of Marx have been rather limited, although I enjoy the romance of the Communist Manifesto. I find his supposed mentor Hegel totally unreadable. Since this is supposed to be a discussion of liberalism, though, and since Uncle Karl seems to have been a fairly smart guy who spent a lot of time trying to figure liberalism out, it would seem sort of reasonable to consider his critiques of it, maybe.

    Food Not Bombers have a fine history of conflict with governments and private parties. These events tend to be rather sporadic, however, and the groups I’ve been connected with haven’t seen much trouble. But it can always happen — everything is illegal.

  • troll

    …odd – I had assumed that you resembled a bowl of potato soup and a slice of warm bread

    at least that’s what your writing brought to mind

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

    Mark, can you think of a good text on the subject of ideologies, analytical in conception? Žižek’s text (cited and linked to on the other thread), a whole chapter in fact, is a chuck full of examples, and I’m going to re-read it, but I don’t think it provides an analysis of the concept. It’s been long time since I’ve read Mannheim’s magnum opus, so perhaps it merits rereading as well. Lucas also comes to mind. Do you have any concrete suggestions from the standpoint of my particular interest?

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

    Cindy, I need you on this thread tout de suite! There are some issues I want to raise for your present and future consideration. OK?

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

    Sorry, wrong Cindy.

  • troll

    check out the work of Benabou

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

    Mannheim’s (ultimate) definition of ideology:

    “…knowledge is distorted and ideological when it fails to take account of the new realities applying to a situation, and when it attempts to conceal them by thinking of them in categories which are inappropriate…” (p.340) Ideology and Utopia

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

    Thanks. Anyway, I was somewhat on track, I suppose, when I argued earlier that what may have started as an innocuous and rather harmless belief system — such as the political philosophy of liberalism — considering, that is, the time of inception, may degenerate over time to the status of the ideological.

  • Anarcissie

    Chorniy khleb, pazhaluista.

    If we’re going to value-load ‘ideology’ negatively, what are we going to use for the unloaded concept — ‘big ideas’, ‘belief systems’, ‘conceptual frameworks’, ‘faiths’?

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

    Precisely my point. Mannheim’s “definition” is still a good starting point.

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

    Interesting paper, troll. The math is a bit over my head at this time, but the concepts of equilibrium and of an in-built mechanism in any ideology to tolerate a “reasonable” level(?) of failure are definitely worth considering. It’s almost as though ideology develops an immune system, as it were, as part of its intricate mechanism to insure its wholeness and perpetuity.

    There’s also a reference to “groupthink,” Anarcissie’s pet subject of late.

  • Anarcissie

    I notice use of the term reality which is quite often a play, if not a demand, for power.

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

    Haven’t gotten that far, if you’re referring to the article referred to by “troll.”

    Of course, appeal to “reality,” at least from the ordinary language standpoint, always has the effect of validating one’s own point of view and, by implication, invalidating those of others. And if we accept the premise that he/she who controls the language wields power, the conclusion follows.

  • troll

    well, you asked for analytical — formally modeling feelings that underlie ideological beliefs

    by limiting agent choice to the market/state pair it does come across as removed from ‘reality’…but interesting project I thought

  • troll

    (kinda like a pinnacle of bourgeois economics)

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

    Aren’t you trading here on different senses of “reality”?

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

    I am trying to catch up as I have been away. I wanted to say things in two threads. But every time I read something new I get off on a tangent.

    Many liberals, including me, question and oppose capitalism’s excesses all the time.

    At least in theory.

    The main talking points of the Democratic party, for years now, have been about opposing corporate interests to help the middle class [with continued welfare for the poor a given, and with emphasis on education to try to lift people out of the underclass]. Not that actions always live up to the rhetoric, but that’s still the stated stance.

    And you don’t see how that, in and of itself, is problematic?

    It plays like the social/political version of the passive-aggressive individual. Ever know someone who is nice and sweet and good and kind on the surface, but really underneath is resistant and hostile and obstructive?

    Every time I talk to a liberal, I am reminded by what I was told by Lisa Solod Warren. Before the economic crisis was acknowledged by the larger culture, things began to take place that would become clearer late (to some of those of us who were still in the dark about such things). One of those things that became clear to me was the nature of banks and their modus operandi. Banks operate to get people to borrow money when it is against the best interests of the borrower. In the long run, defaults don’t matter unless they all happen at once. Because banks can raise interest rates and gouge debtors with charges, they actually encourage those who cannot afford to use credit to do so.

    This system works in part because of the ‘good little boy and girl’ mentality that is bought into and promoted within the culture. That is you are supposed to work hard, pay your debts, and like Lisa told me, read all the fine print. She clearly blamed the victim who was being charged in excess of 35% interest (and repaying the principal every three years at that point, without reducing it). The bank loves this sort of debtor and this cultural value works to keep predatory nature in place.

    Liberals support the system that preys on people by encouraging self-blame and holding the victims of capitalists responsible and the capitalists blameless in the ordinary daily business of wealth transfer.

    This works the same way with the worker, who, to be a good person, should work hard shut up and put up (with). Liberals, who support the credo that hard work and sacrifice build character and make a person valiant, are setting people up to be abused and used by the system of capitalism.

    Baronius,

    Please head off to your local nursing home and then tell me about how the elderly have the dominant voice in this society.

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

    I really liked your #83, Roger and I thought your #88 was brilliant, Anarcissie.

  • Anarcissie

    Part of the ideology of liberalism is that everyone can be above average, like the children in Lake Wobegon. Hence, people support predatory banks and so forth — they see themselves as the banker, not the bankee.

    I don’t know why people buy it, but they do.

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

    Cindy, I really miss you on these threads. We should have jam sessions like we used to, if only once in a while. I always like to think on my feet, and our back and forth was just the kind of stimulus I needed.

    How are things on the personal front?

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

    I posted the following comment on another thread, but it belongs here as well. It’s a fairly accurate indication how our well-meaning friends (since L is a dirty word) view the nature of social problems and their idea of a solution:

    Glenn worries that “if integration were not enforced the races would drift apart once more rather than coming together to face the common threats of crime, poverty, and prejudice.”

    I suppose it’s a legitimate concern on face value at least. I’d argue, however, it’s a misguided one. Why?

    The races haven’t come together to fight the very ills Glenn is concerned about, with federal legislation or without. So Glenn’s methodology appears to consist of trying to attain a positive goal by prohibiting outward behavior by people who are against it. It is, in effect, akin to masking the real problem and real opposition to unified human action by pretending it’s not there. From the standpoint of blacks, minorities, other peoples of color, gays, lesbians, etc — all segments of society which are discriminated against and oppressed, I’d rather know who my enemies are, I’d rather know that I have enemies, instead of live in a make-believe la-la land where I and everybody else can keep on pretending we are a united people in purpose and objective.

    No liberation struggle of any people has been won by somebody else taking a stand and making a fight on their behalf, and if Glenn thinks that the white America is about to set a precedent, he’s suffering from an extreme case of illusion. The people themselves have to their their fight to the oppressors, there just is no other way.

    For context, refer to the following link, comment #206.

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

    … take the fight to the oppressors …

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

    That is a good point, Anarcissie. Perhaps i has something to do with the ‘American Dream’–and the idea that we can all be bankers.

    Hiya, Roger. I agree, I would like to do that. Next weekend should be good as I will be on my own and caught up (I think–mostly anyway).

    (On the personal front–and this also answers troll’s kind inquiry from another thread–the system does not provide an advocate unless one is an inpatient–and the place that is supposed to be of help, S.H.I.P., has always simply upheld the system in place when I have sought their help. Never-the-less, I was able to make the therapy team see the error of their ways. I had a meeting with the director and two therapists and demonstrated how they end up advocating for the insurance company by relying on some ‘typical past experience’ when making decisions regarding my husband, and letting what they conceive of as the insurance company’s pov guide them, instead of joining as a team with my husband and working with him to go to the farthest extent he can. He has been demonstrating to me that he is at the very, tippy tip of getting ready to walk sans walker. It turns out that he can climb an entire hospital staircase and turn and come down on his own–yay! I also found him, gulp, standing up a few feet from the sofa when I came into the room once–no walker. GULP! So, it is sort of imperative that he remains in therapy. Even though they have agreed not to make any more decisions without my inclusion in the process, I have made an appointment with a place called The Balance Center, that combines physical therapy with vestibular training. I would rather move him to a place where the culture is in place for helping him soar rather than having people–like the director who kept calling him John, when his name is Bill, trying to impress on me that he may not be able to regain his baseline. I know him, he will regain his baseline.)

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

    117 –

    Hey handy,

    You instantly judge and continually dismiss every idea different than yours and also continually accuse everyone else of doing this.

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

    Yep, but I didn’t want to press the issue. I thought Baronius had better form than to come up with this gem of a comment. How shall I put it — character assassination?

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

    But you know what I think it is, Cindy. Four different people who are more or less thinking along similar lines, and independently, I should say, is just too make to take. Hence the idea that I was the one who had indoctrinated everybody.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    “The Liberal” is Gumby rushing into new and exciting territory, and “the Conservative” is the voice of caution, Pokey {1’56”], saying, “I wouldn’t if I were you.” They both have important roles to play in a body of wise individuals charged with making decisions for the good of the community, as long as they’re both focused on getting to the same place TOGETHER, wherever that may be.

    These days where there is in government, an EXCESS OF EVERYTHING, those with “the liberal” spirit are the ones saying STOP! Let’s stop doing things the way we’ve been doing them. This needs to go!

    Add Barney Frank to your list of bright lights in the liberal galaxy: he’s initiating reforms in the Federal Reserve board (a first step in evaluating whether it does any good at all), introduced a bill that would legalize pot (a first step in getting rid of the War on Drugs entirely), and was a co-signer with 55 others in a bill that would eliminate inefficiencies in defense spending (a first step to making cuts in the DoD with a dang chain saw.)

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

    Well, Irene, now you’ve made my day. It is a constructive comment, considering that you’re talking to someone who now and then flirts with being subversive.

    I’ll do my best to bear this in mind when concluding this series (part III) and temper my criticism accordingly.

  • Anarcissie

    The people who are most ordinarily called ‘liberals’ in mainstream discourse seem like conservatives to me, in the older sense of the word. They are Welfarists or social democrats, a political philosophy that is now about 80 – 100 years old in the United States, with no desire to make any large changes in the political or social order and a considerable interest in authority, stability, and regulation. This view actually approximates that of classical conservatives, who viewed societies not as machines to be tinkered with, but organisms whose parts have mysterious interdependencies, to be altered or adjusted only with great caution.

    This conservatism contrasts rather sharply with the adventurous imperialism supported by almost all soi-disants liberals after World War 2, at least most of the time. My guess would be that the ruling class was satisfied that the New Deal had done enough to keep the lower orders quiet at home, but that something had to be done quickly to get the rest of the world under control.

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

    I happen to think the major flaw is the legalistic conception of what counts as progress.

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

    In this connection, you might want to look up the Hart-Dworkin debate concerning the moral underpinnings of law.

  • Costello

    Intriguing beginning, Roger, so I am curious to where it’s going to lead. However, I wonder how accurate the portrait will be as the term could either be vast or narrow depending on your point of view. You and I can look at a painting and see different things.

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

    Thank you for your interest. My object, I think, is to discount ambiguous and ephemeral senses in which the “liberal” is being used and focus instead on how liberalism — as a political philosophy, and a program for action — is being practiced and justified in the present time.

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

    A transcript linking to #125:

    “Is Capitalism Doomed?” by Nouriel Roubini.

  • Anarcissie

    So, what about progress, or ‘progress’? Roubini’s thing is in the framework of mainstream economics, where there has to be continuous unlimited growth or everyone important feels bad and has a depression; common sense tells us continuous growth will not end any better in the body of the state than it will in the human body. Is Roubini a liberal?

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

    Very astute, Anarcissie. You’re making me think.

    A qualified yes, in response to your question. Roubini is a mainstream macroeconomist specializing in IMF bail-ins and bailouts, though somewhat on the cutting edge. It’s significant, however, that the doomsday scenario is not longer the exclusive province of Marxist discourse but finds increasing currency in everyday, mainstream dialogue. (See, for example, this article just written by one of our own.) I’m citing now from Roubini’s conclusion:

    “Over time, advanced economies will need to invest in human capital, skills and social safety nets to increase productivity and enable workers to compete, be flexible and thrive in a globalized economy. The alternative is — like in the 1930s — unending stagnation, depression, currency and trade wars, capital controls, financial crisis, sovereign insolvencies, and massive social and political instability.”

    Notice first that capitalism is no longer viewed as capable of delivering as a standalone but as a system which will require an ongoing and uninterrupted state intervention (stimulus, investment in human capital, skills, safety nets, etc.) if we are to avoid global-scale crises — and this is the “progressive” aspect. On the downside, however, Roubini is still operating with the old model in mind, a model which posits Business vs. State as the only significant players, and competition, rather than cooperation, as the dominant mode of economic relations regardless of scale (i.e., as regards personal, social and international relations).

    So it’s an improvement but not by much. Which yes, it makes the author a “liberal” in that the economic system in place is not being challenged but only tinkered with. And “progress,” translated here to mean “continuous [and] unlimited growth,” serves a dual function: (i) as the main driving force (aside from greed) behind the economic system in place (and I’m being charitable here); and (ii), as a tacit premise which underpins the belief in both the efficacy of the economic system (the structure) and in it’s ideological expression/formation (the superstructure), otherwise known as “liberalism.”

    Apropos of “growth,” I’d like to refer you to Charles Taylor’s “Growth, Legitimacy, and the Modern Identity.” It’s a shorter (and earlier) version of “Legitimation Crisis?” in Taylor’s Philosophy and the Human Sciences, Philosophical Papers 2, Chapter X. Google-books offers snippets of Taylor’s work, mostly introduction, but the article iteself is no longer available. (Come to think of it, you just whetted my appetite and I’m going to re-read it since I have the cited work in my hot little hand.)

  • Anarcissie

    Of course liberalism, being the political ideology of capitalism, would be centered on the ideal of unending, unlimited, uninterrupted growth — of what, to be assumed privately or decided on later. ‘I have 40 million, therefore I must acquire 50 million.’

    I think I’ll capitalize growth: Growth. There.

    One of the functions of Growth which became popular in the 1960s and ’70s was that politicians could use it to buy off the poor and the working class with dreams. ‘Your life may suck now, but in the not-too-distant future you’re going to have pie in the sky before you die.’ Paradise on earth was not promised only by Soviet socialism. Even the art became similar (see this review of a book on that subject). The utility of a public, materialist, proximate Holy Grail to a ruling class is obvious.

    This largely unexamined, pathological fixation with Growth exemplified by Roubini’s article (and about 99% of all soi-disant progressive discourse about economics) does seem emblematic of liberalism, but then were can we go with it after we say it’s irrational and doomed?

  • zingzing

    “Of course liberalism, being the political ideology of capitalism,” that being an assumption on your end not everyone is willing to follow…

  • Anarcissie

    No one seems prepared to argue against it, however, so I must go my doubtless erroneous way uncorrected.

    I’ll just note that I don’t see any liberals arguing for the ownership and control of the means of production by the workers (socialism) or the fully integrated corporate-totalitarian state (fascism), although there is certainly a strong aroma of authoritarianism in much contemporary progressive discourse. Historically, of course, the association of liberalism and capitalism is unquestionable. So what does that leave us with? In what way is contemporary liberalism non- or anti-capitalist?

  • zingzing

    the association, yes. but they are not the same thing. and i’m sure you’ve seen plenty of liberals arguing for socialistic ideas (unions, universal health care), but you seem to take it as an all or nothing proposition, which it is not. liberals often have problems with elements of capitalism, but you choose to ignore that. why? those to the right of me would consider me anti-capitalist in many ways. the enemy of big business, even small business. does this not bother you in the least? where’s your critique of conservatism? you have a big old elephant in the room, and you’re ignoring it. it makes you argument seem a bit blind to reality.

    and where’s this strong aroma of authoritarianism?

  • Anarcissie

    Let me start with your last question. As one example, consider public discussion of the climate change / global warming issue as carried on in venues such as Truthdig or Alternet. The argument that global warming exists is carried forward, not with data, but with allusions to the number of unnamed scientists who are said to believe in it. This is, of course, a patently authoritarian mode of argument, which I probably don’t need to explain. Moreover, skepticism and rejection are lumped together and subjected to abuse, typical of true-believer procedure: all who do not believe and believe properly are heretics or infidels. It’s all quite authoritarian and reminds me of medieval Catholicism and Wahhabi Islam.

    Onward. Unions, at least post-Gompers, have not been in any way socialistic; they have gone out of their way to avoid becoming involved with managing the companies where their members are employed; in fact, the AFL was instrumental in destroying the IWW and in driving Communists and socialists out of the labor movement. The idea of the union is based on the basic liberal rights of property (including possession of one’s own labor power), expression, association, assembly, and contract, just like any other business deal within a liberal-capitalist framework. By contrast, socialist unions would attempt to buy or seize or at least insert themselves into the management of their workplaces.

    A socialist version of medical care and insurance would be embodied by worker- and client-owned HMOs, not by a remote governmental bureaucracy, which in any case liberals, in spite of any political victories, have studiously failed to implement over a period of several decades.

    Of course liberals have problems with capitalism: it is a species of dynamic, sometimes self-destructive systems, and they want to preserve and take care of their own, and keep it from destroying itself. That’s the point of Welfare and government regulation. As I said above, liberals seem like the actual conservatives to me, in the original sense of the word.

    I don’t see any other conservatives on the political map at present, so there’s not much for me to work on. In any case I thought we were discussing liberalism.

  • zingzing

    “The argument that global warming exists is carried forward, not with data, but with allusions to the number of unnamed scientists who are said to believe in it.”

    well, that’s nonsense. it’s backed up with data. go look it up. you’ll have to find something far better than that.

    “By contrast, socialist unions would attempt to buy or seize or at least insert themselves into the management of their workplaces.”

    i think if you actually looked into it, you’d see that unions have tried to insert themselves into OWNERSHIP positions, not just management. i suppose it hasn’t always worked, but that kind of puts a stink on your point. and isn’t that the basic problem conservatives have with the teacher’s unions? that they’re in bed with the management? how does that affect your argument?

    “In any case I thought we were discussing liberalism.”

    while ignoring conservatives? that’s hardly productive. accusing liberals of what are, in large part, conservative crimes (because you don’t even bother to admit conservatives exist) seems rather foolish.

    “As I said above, liberals seem like the actual conservatives to me, in the original sense of the word.”

    i didn’t see it “above,” so maybe you’d better explain that. it’s all rather vague at this point.

    “Of course liberals have problems with capitalism: it is a species of dynamic, sometimes self-destructive systems, and they want to preserve and take care of their own, and keep it from destroying itself.”

    if you wouldn’t mind restating that in a different way, that might help. i’m not quite sure i know what that means. maybe a specific example would help.

  • zingzing

    ah, #156. i see. i’m none too thrilled with that. it only seems to concern itself with the small amount of politically empowered liberals in the united states who position themselves toward center. i think you’ll find that your definition is woefully inadequate, in that it is (or pretends to be) ignorant of the diversity within liberals both in the united states and around the world. if you’re only trying to define how liberalism works within the united states gov’t, you’ll have to actually look at the conservatives, which is a force that changes the outcome of liberal goals.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    zing, I think Anarcissie meant the way the case for AGW is made in those particular forums – rhetorically as opposed to evidentially – rather than the validity of the theory itself.

  • zingzing

    ah, yeah, i guess i see that. i think i skipped an entire line. i would say that’s an appeal to authority, but it’s not authoritarian as they have no way of actually imposing that authority on anyone. and in other places, those that argue such actually name names and quote data. you are such a person. it’s just possible that those who argue without naming names and through pure appeals to authority actually can back that stuff up. i’m sure some can’t (hi), but some certainly can.

    i still don’t think it’s a good example. one could easily say that christian-based arguments against abortion would be the same thing. one could even say that anarchist whole-clothe dismissals of liberalism would be the same thing.

  • zingzing

    ahem. cloth.

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

    Not to butt in, this is just a marginal note to previous conversation.

    Just finished reading the Praxis version of Taylor’s article. It’s a more concise and more abstract version of the expanded article in “The Papers.” What I find interesting is that Taylor manages to construct a quite cogent and compelling argument from, shall we say? “humanistic” and moral perspectives, without resorting that much to Marxism (except for the “fetishism” concept) and the postmodenists (again, only marginally so, in making a fleeing reference to Foucault’s studies of “mass disciplines,” which disciplines serve as impingement of our need for privacy which constitues one essential component of modern identity). It’s an argument, therefore, which relies for the most part on the conception of modern (personal) identitie (or, to put simply, what does it mean to be a human?) — Taylor’s central concept which informs the greater body of his works — and the notion of the public or social good. Since both notion are inextricably interwoven with ethical concerns — what constitutes a good life and how to achieve it in the context of modern, post-industrial societies? –one might class Taylor’s argument as essentially classical in making.

    Interestingly though, still Taylor manages to correctly identify all the relevant stresses, if not contradictions, which arise in the context of modern living, stresses which, in threatening the modern conception of the individual’s personal identity, put into doubt the institutional practices which promote this conception and which, at the same time, serve to accentuate the critical and dialectic mode (which corresponds here, to use Taylor’s terminology, to “Phase II”).

    Since the older article dates back to 1981 and the full version to 1985, one would expect that if Taylor were to re-write it in 2011, the revision would been more far more radical

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

    BTW, this is a more readable version of Taylor’s article in Praxis (see #163.)

  • Anarcissie

    There is a great variety of ideology and policy whose proponents describe themselves as ‘liberals’. I’ve been focusing on political leadership and media stars; I assume that, although other people have other ideas, if they are willing to vote for, contribute to, follow, obey, believe in, cite, quote, etc., this elite they at least go along with them passively, generally speaking. Without some kind of focus it is pretty hard to say anything coherent about such a broad subject.

  • zingzing

    “I assume that, although other people have other ideas, if they are willing to vote for, contribute to, follow, obey, believe in, cite, quote, etc., this elite they at least go along with them passively, generally speaking.”

    that’s another bad assumption. unless someone is me, i’m not going to agree with them 100% of the time. and “obey?” we don’t “obey” people in this country, we (sometimes) obey the law.

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

    Which is an expression of . . . ?

  • troll

    seems a bit of a stretch going from “go along with them passively, generally speaking” to “agree with them 100% of the time” even if for the purposes of argument

  • zingzing

    roger: “which is an expression of . . . ?”

    the cumululative effects of our sometime vigorously contested politics as a hopefully somewhat valid expression of our culture and needs. it’s certainly not just an expression of one politician or party.

    “seems a bit of a stretch going from “go along with them passively, generally speaking” to “agree with them 100% of the time” even if for the purposes of argument”

    i suppose so. but a passive sheep doesn’t even think if it agrees or not, it just does what it’s told. anarcissie was (at least in my mind) trying to paint us all as sheep. politics, and the support of a particular politician or party, is not as simple as the relationship between a shepard and a sheep. we have conflicting feelings and must, in the end, vote for the person we agree with most.

    it’s like the complexities of all these things just slip by in the quest for rhetorical claptrap…

  • Anarcissie

    Then it seems liberalism is too incoherent to describe or criticize. I am sure there very few positions taken by liberal leaders and media stars which some people who call themselves liberals do not disagree with.

    Under these circumstances I must leave it to others in the discussion to say what liberalism is, or liberals do.

  • troll

    “a passive sheep doesn’t even think if it agrees or not”

    aux contrarywise — the sheep often go to great lengths convincing themselves that they do agree but you know this

    band then that’s not how I read Anarcissie’s comment anyhow

    ” we have conflicting feelings and must, in the end, vote for the person we agree with most.”

    …we liberals you mean

    I fantasize now and then that if we passionately ignore Them and their rules then maybe They’ll go away like the Brits from India — (as if) — and long for the election that no one comes to

    need: potent symbolic actions to form around — decentralized not for profit food production and distribution is a developing locus…the ‘my vote is too precious to waste on these clowns’ could be another

    finally: zingzing – you use the word ‘liberal’ as if it refers to some coherent group even if it’s one with fuzzy boundaries…so I think it’s fair to ask what you think the defining characteristics of the group are

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

    our norms or our morals? that was the question I was asking.

  • zingzing

    anarcisse: “Then it seems liberalism is too incoherent to describe or criticize.”

    no, but you’ll run into problems if you try to use the broad brush, just like anything else.

    “I am sure there very few positions taken by liberal leaders and media stars which some people who call themselves liberals do not disagree with.”

    there are several, actually. do you often disagree with those you are lumped in with? if yes, why do you feel yourself special in that regard? if no, maybe that’s why you can’t see it in others.

  • zingzing

    troll: “the sheep often go to great lengths convincing themselves that they do agree”

    well, i don’t know about sheep… their minds are beyond me. but if you’re talking about people, that’s true to some degree. but that’s a pretty dim view of people.

    “…we liberals you mean”

    no, i mean voters. you are forgetting about the conservatives again. and the independents, and all of the rest of the voting public that you all seem to be ignoring for no particular reason.

    “you use the word ‘liberal’ as if it refers to some coherent group even if it’s one with fuzzy boundaries…so I think it’s fair to ask what you think the defining characteristics of the group are”

    i’m the one that’s been saying that the group isn’t as coherent as it’s being made out to be… and that the effects of liberalism upon society are tempered by the fact that a great big other school of political thought (which is just as diverse in many ways) exists. it’s easy to slip into simplifying things down to their essence, but by doing so, you miss all the details.

    and i’ve actually only used the word a few times, most with qualifiers like “often” or “some,” or referencing a small minority of liberals or in its relationship to conservatism.

    whatever definition i could make up of liberalism would be my own brand of liberalism. that brand may find consistencies with another person’s brand, but there’d always be someone out there who’d say, “i’m a liberal, and that’s a bunch of nonsense.”

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

    Perhaps a more pointed question is in order. Since it’s apparent that zingzing goes to some lengths to dissociate himself from the run-of-the-mill liberal, perhaps he can allude to some of the respects in which he is different.

    But of course the tacit, if not tricky, assumption here is that zingzing is at the very least recognizing the existence of the typology. And even if he’s merely objecting to having been pegged a liberal because it’s a false typology, then at least two descriptions are in order: (a) what is false and (b) what is true.

    In any case, to deny that one is not x, one must have some idea, right or wrong, of what x is; otherwise the denial is but a gesture.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    well, i don’t know about sheep

    Sheep aren’t that hard to figure out. They uniformly agree that the best solution to any political problem – or indeed any problem whatsoever – is to run away.

  • zingzing

    i’m not objecting to being labeled a liberal.

    i’d also point out that all white people aren’t the same. i’m white. i do have much in common with other white people. how do i differ from other white people when it comes to my whiteness? i dunno. define white perfectly, if you can, and then i’ll tell you.

  • zingzing

    “Sheep aren’t that hard to figure out. They uniformly agree that the best solution to any political problem – or indeed any problem whatsoever – is to run away.”

    bah. that’s ignoring plenty of “fight” in the flight or fight response. that’s also ignoring that they’ll push each other around for that succulent bit of nom-ible grass. the complexities of sheep elude you, “doc.” surely, a doctor would be more attuned to the varieties of sheep responses.

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

    I think #187 was a gem.

    But seriously, zing, the analogy is strained. We’re talking about a system of beliefs about what constitutes good life in human society, a platform and plan for action. It can’t be a default position, you’ve got to be able to have something positive to say, especially since you don’t object to the identification. And if you don’t, you should be a proud, card-carrying member. So what’s the big fuss?

  • zingzing

    i am fine with being labeled a liberal. but what that means to me is what that means to me. all liberals should agree with every single political point i agree with, if they want to be liberal as i define it. but that’s not the case. and i don’t need no stinking card. there isn’t a liberal card. there was a communist card, as such, but they had internal arguments as well.

    it’s not quite a system of beliefs, as you put it. there is no accepted guidebook to being a liberal. and if you think liberals have a plan… well, shit, you aren’t paying much attention.

    and you’re right. it’s not a default position, not anymore than being white is. i’ve got asian in me.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/haveno handyguy

    I think I answered this back in #29:
    Liberalism is about
    …protecting the less privileged from the predations of the more privileged.

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

    I’m not into labeling you or anybody else –notice, I’m trying to avoid this language. Still, liberalism must mean something even today, and that’s what I’m after. You seem to be jumping through the hoops trying to assert that people are different, that you are different. You needn’t do that, that’s never been in question. All the same, you still haven’t said what liberalism means to you.

    And if it’s not, in some way at least, a system of political beliefs, then what is it? An agenda? And if it’s an agenda, what good is it if it’s not something you believe in? And if you don’t, why should anyone else?

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

    That’s cool, Handy. It’s a good beginning.

  • troll

    I don’t see that the modern liberal/conservative dog and pony show holds the same importance that you attribute to it zingzing…seems to me that most all of our citizens have bought into liberalism of one sort or another — it’s a small group that’s campaigning against property rights economic growth individual freedom and progress (if only toward an idealized past) after all…aren’t y’all arguing more about how to define and achieve these goals?

    …not that I don’t appreciate the occasional libertine use of language — just trying to pretend that the word has meaning beyond that which the so-called left absconded with

  • zingzing

    “And if it’s not, in some way at least, a system of political beliefs, then what is it? An agenda? And if it’s an agenda, what good is it if it’s not something you believe in?”

    ahem. i have been labeled a liberal. i do believe that that word most closely defines what i believe in its present usage. your (and cindy’s, troll’s and anarcisse’s) usage of the word, in both the article and the comments, does not reflect what i think that to be. you ascribe beliefs that i find ridiculous and at times insulting. you’ve gone so far outside of the spectrum that you can’t see the differences between people and you lump them all together, i think.

    i don’t think it to be a system or some thing (notice that that’s two words,) to believe in. i think i believe what i believe, and that those beliefs slot in more closely with what others might call “liberalism” than with anything else.

    you haven’t defined what i think to be “liberal” in any real way. i really don’t think i’m in any better position to define it, because i know that would only reflect my personal beliefs.

    if say, handy, disagreed with me on a political point (and i’m sure we could find some point of dispute on the direction of gay rights or some such thing), i wouldn’t doubt his liberal “credentials,” but i would disagree with him. and if a conservative or an anarchist or a christian agreed with me on the fact that steamed broccoli is good, i wouldn’t consider them a liberal.

    and yes, handy’s #29 may be a good start. it’s certainly at the basis of what i believe. but in a world of complexities, simple ideas get perverted and turned into things you don’t necessarily want.

  • zingzing

    “aren’t y’all arguing more about how to define and achieve these goals?”

    yep, same as you. you may define those things differently than the rest of us, since we’re all the same, but what else are you trying to achieve? personally, i’m all about individual freedom, but i do believe that paying back to the society that grants you that is a part of the deal. you may moan about “the system,” but realize that you’re lucky to live in a relative democracy. there are much worse political systems out there. you’re free to work at it, which is better than you can say about 99% of human history up to and including this point.

  • zingzing

    dammit. “human society” would have been better than “human history.” i need an enema.

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

    @195

    Even though the meaning may have become too truncated to resist all attempts at a comprehensive definition, or because of it perhaps, it’s all the more imperative to come to terms with it. Why?

    However ill-defined, liberal political philosophy underpins most of today’s political practice in the present and the immediate future, sets the tone, in fact defines our political reality and what’s possible as well as what’s not. One should understand what one’s dealing with.

  • Anarcissie

    handyguy Aug 25, 2011 at 8:36 pm:
    I think I answered this back in #29:
    Liberalism is about …protecting the less privileged from the predations of the more privileged.

    Then why aren’t they about abolishing capitalism, which is precisely and necessarily the exploitation of the less privileged by the more privileged? It seems like the most efficient way of eliminating the injuries of class would be to eliminate class altogether.

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

    Anarcissie is cutting to the chase, holly molly.

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

    Let me play devil’s advocate in the event Handy isn’t ready to make this quantum leap.

    “That’s what the government’s for — to offer protection.”

    With this quip, I’m gonna call it a night.

  • zingzing

    “Then why aren’t they about abolishing capitalism, which is precisely and necessarily the exploitation of the less privileged by the more privileged?”

    what do you think “obama wants to destroy america” means? why do you think the right constantly accuses the left of hating america?

    capitalism has its pluses and its minuses. it allows a certain bit of class fluidity that other systems do not. steve jobs was an orphaned college dropout. it’s not every society that offers these advantages.

    should there be classes? i don’t really think so. are there? yes. are we going to get rid of them? i don’t really think so. can we make it better for more people? yes.

    will anarchism or communism save us all? no.

    that’s what i believe. if i believed it could save us all, i’d be all for it. but i don’t. history hasn’t swung that way. from communism comes despotism. anarchism really hasn’t been tried, and i don’t think you’ll get all that many people to agree it should be. even if you could, it would end up in political manipulation, because we’re fucking humans and we’re smarter and greedier than the common good would have us be.

  • troll

    zingzing: “yep, same as you.”

    nope – not a platform that I can get behind…too many contradictions…not every man shares your goals

    …do you wonder why our discussions seem to end up with you admonishing me to ‘acknowledge the progress’ or ‘realize that you are lucky’ or the like?

    you make me smile preacher man

  • Jordan Richardson

    He didn’t say that “every man” shares his goals. He said “same as you” because we’re all, to some extent, “arguing about how to define and achieve those goals.”

    I think the discussions with you end up a certain way because you see a lot of things that aren’t there, like “preaching…”

    You should, however, realize how lucky you are. We all should.

    Oy, nevermind.

  • troll

    I read what zingzing said and specifically disagreed Jordan…but your probably right that I shouldn’t characterize zingzing’s (and now your) ‘moralizing’ so

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

    Liberal attitudes and beliefs are what hold the destructive world in place. Like these:

    1) we have conflicting feelings and must, in the end, vote for the person we agree with most.

    Liberals uphold and promote representative gov’t and admonish others to wake up and recognize that this is never going to change and that’s the way it is. Why is it that way it is? There can only be one reason. Because liberals uphold and promote representative gov’t and admonish others to wake up and recognize that this is never going to change and that’s the way it is.

    capitalism has its pluses and its minuses. it allows a certain bit of class fluidity that other systems do not. steve jobs was an orphaned college dropout. it’s not every society that offers these advantages.

    While in another part of the impoverished city, multitudes of children, who parents have not managed to ‘become Steven Jobs’, wake up to another day of trying to keep themselves alive amidst gang warfare.

    You know you have the privilege of thinking like a liberal when you don’t buy lottery tickets anymore. ;-)

    More later…

    I will put my finger on the pulse of liberalism by demonstrating how liberals uphold the system in place. zing upholds the system in place. but, because he is not, himself, impoverished he can afford to look on the bright side of capitalism.

    (Meantime creative offshoots of capitalism’s profit game grow meaner: The numbers in prison explode. Immigrants (of color), for example, are held without contact or representation so local communities can make money from the fed by incarcerating them.)

    In looking for things all liberals seem to do, one thing they all seem to do is support the gov’t (the authority structure) and the system in place as the only means to a good end. They all seem to ‘look on the bright side’ of a sick system.

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

    Oh wait, wait…before zing reminds me I left out conservatives:

    I meant: What liberals do, COMBINED with their counterparts–conservatives, keeps the world in place. But, make no mistake, liberals do work to keep it in place. Look how they are all about convincing people nothing else will work better. They are either a little for or a lot for the system in place. It is being within that continuum itself, rather than stepping outside it, that is the problem (zing).

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

    Jordan,

    If that is what you got out of troll’s comment then, I think you missed his point by a mile.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I shouldn’t have butted in, troll. I’m sorry.

    They all seem to ‘look on the bright side’ of a sick system.

    I think that’s a generally human condition, part of survival. If we didn’t do that to some degree, we’d never wake up in the morning and try to make things better or try to cling to that small shard of positivity.

    In my experience with liberals and human beings in general, and Canadian liberals may be different or not, there’s a general dissatisfaction with “how things are” that blends with a sort of “essential” positivity. There has to be a way for life to go on, in other words, and the realization that the “system” is what we have and what we have to work with is a part of survival in this sick world.

    So, Cindy, we all keep it in place because it’s part of the human condition, part of our frailty. By using a computer or by spending a lot of time on a website with ad revenue that doesn’t pay writers, you’re contributing to a system of sorts. And you accept it, too, with a sigh every time you wake up. But I wouldn’t accuse you of “keeping it in place” any more than I’d accuse zingzing of it (or my liberal friends from Canada or France or wherever) because it is, to some extent, inescapable.

    You can’t participate in a sick system and not catch something, by the way. And pretending you don’t have it when you’re sniffling and coughing into a napkin doesn’t cut it. You’re using a computer, you have heat and electricity in your home that comes from some really bad people, you probably put gas in your car that we stole from some other country somewhere down the line, etc. You MAY purchase clothes made by people who were paid a good wage and you MAY ensure that ALL of the food you eat is the same, unless of course you’ve ever eaten shitty hospital food or out in a restaurant. If you did eat in a restaurant, you’re being a good ol’ capitalist and, in a way, funnelling money into the system – thus propping it up yet again.

    We ALL play a role in this sickness – not just the “label” people or the dense people or the “indoctrinated people.”

    The sooner we recognize that COMBINED with our fellow humans, the sooner we recognize that these “labels” and divisions are not special but instead toxic mechanisms that help prop up the “system,” the better we can be as a species. There is no “they” or “those people” when we’re sitting in traffic or waiting in line at the store.

    But we won’t be doing that anytime soon. How’s that for the bright side?

  • Jordan Richardson

    I wonder, Cindy, if you’re criticize the people too poor to shop anywhere but Wal-Mart or other giant cheapass box stores for propping up and enabling the system. When a family of five has no choice but to have a “special dinner out” at McDonald’s, they’re contributing to “the world as we know it.” And when they fill up their shitty car with gas, they’re perpetuating a “sick system.”

    They are “keeping the world in place” because they can’t afford otherwise.

  • Jordan Richardson

    One more question:

    How do you “be about abolishing capitalism?” What does that look like in a practical sense?

  • troll

    …redefine your relationship with the products of your labor…challenge the current market paradigm where you can

    there’s a start

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

    Jordan,

    I think you miss my larger point. Only the privileged can afford to ‘look on the bright side’ (another way of saying ‘apologize for’) a sick system.

    The children I spoke of don’t have that luxury. The immigrants in the prisons of this ‘bright-sided (at least for folks with money and some independence) system’ don’t have that option. People who will die in nursing homes, lonely and desperate, because they are offered physical care but deprived of real human intimacy, because it isn’t profitable to give them that, don’t have that option.

    We all do, indeed contribute directly or indirectly. But liberals actually apologize for and defend the system. Saying, as you do…’it is all we have’. No, it’s not all we have. The world has always changed, historically. It is only all we have because all liberals decided that it is all we have. It is a ‘safe’ (everybody’s doing it) stance and a cop out.

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

    I wonder, Cindy, if you’re criticize the people too poor to shop anywhere but Wal-Mart or other giant cheapass box stores for propping up and enabling the system. When a family of five has no choice but to have a “special dinner out” at McDonald’s, they’re contributing to “the world as we know it.” And when they fill up their shitty car with gas, they’re perpetuating a “sick system.”

    Only when they are its apologists. How does criticizing the system’s apologists equal criticizing its victims (and that includes its apologists when they are victims).

    In the end even the most privileged of liberals are as much victims of the system they are trying to control as the poor. It’s just they get to eat and live in relative peace–so I take issue with their typical claims about how this system ‘isn’t SO bad or AS bad as…’ when they often have not even swallowed a personal taste of the worst of it.

    Even Stalinist Russia was better than Nazi concentration camps.

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

    How do you “be about abolishing capitalism?” What does that look like in a practical sense?

    To begin with, stop accepting it in your heart, stop sleeping with it, stop making excuses for it. Look at it clearly and see that it is quite ugly when you are not in the privileged classes.

    Then you might do things like troll suggests. You might do other things as well. Imagine if all liberals did that.

  • Anarcissie

    As far as the means of production go, I would say, join or start a workers’ cooperative, if you can. If you can’t, assist others who are doing it. At least talk it up — there may be potential allies around. Do what you can to withdraw your labor and wealth from the capitalist system, and to help others do so.

    There are already millions of people making their livings from cooperatives of one kind or another, so socialism already exists and works all over the world. It’s not like I’m making some kind of outré suggestion here.

  • Clavos

    Imagine if all liberals did that.

    We’d have to stop you.

    But it won’t happen. As Jordan and zing have pointed out, liberalism (or, for that matter, any other ism) is neither that monolithic, nor that organized (read coordinated).

    And likely never will be.

  • Anarcissie

    I think it’s No True Scotsman time.

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

    @ 218

    They won’t but for a different reason, Clavos. It’s because they’re “liberals.” They have as much a stake in the establishment as the conservatives do, more so, I daresay, because they consider themselves as the rightful bearers of progress.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Personally, this argument about liberals and conservatives seems totally pointless.

    Whilst it may be true, as troll suggests, that to “redefine your relationship with the products of your labor… challenge the current market paradigm where you can” might be a start, it also seems a position that only a liberal or a theorist could adopt, which kind of contradicts Cindy’s latest pet horse of grievance.

    This kind of liberal/conservative argument has been rolling along for decades and has produced precious little by way of real substantive change, so surely it is nothing more than some abstract chattering point?

    I don’t think it is correct to lay the blame for the kinds of social ills that so “outrage” Cindy on capitalism at all; that is nothing more than a borrowed old liberal argument anyway, which must surely annoy her somewhat!

    Capitalism is just a process for managing the use of a certain kind of energy and, unlike most types of energy, which can only be conserved, it is actually possible to create more of this kind of energy.

    The reality is that more and more people all over the world are starting to enjoy greater amounts of this energy, which is directly attributable to capitalism.

    We don’t need an alternative to capitalism, we need more of it! The enemy of the people is not the system, it is those who make the system work inefficiently; the corrupt, the opposers of economic and technological progress, those who want to limit what people can do.

    The issue of the day isn’t capitalism versus some other as yet undefined or unframed alternative, it is more of a better capitalism, the very thing that has dragged literally billions of people out of poverty over the last 150 years.

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

    Who are the opposers? Certainly not Big Business when there’s money to be made out of whatever innovation. The conservatives, perhaps, for standing in the way of green technology in preference to more drilling? Or perhaps it’s the liberals too for objecting to more nuclear plants for environmental reasons? I’d surely like to know who those culprits are, for I’d like to hang them from the nearest tree.

    Capitalism is not just a process for … It also overdetermines most of individual, social and international relations, just as feudalism did. We are a product of the system, not independent agents who can function apart from the social-political and economic system which serves as the all-defining context.

    You vision of a new breed of man arising out of the ashes, if not out the vacuum, that will tame the beast is surely romantic.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    I don’t think capitalism does do those things, Roger…

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Nor have I said or even implied anything at all about a new breed of man arising out of anything. You are barking up the wrong tree.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    I suppose this part of what you said has some truth to it “We are a product of the system, not independent agents who can function apart from the social-political and economic system which serves as the all-defining context”.

    Sure, we do what the framework allows or can contain, hence my point that we need to keep enlarging the frame, making more things possible.

    We are free agents, within the constraints of the framework, so to enlarge that framework by empowering people is something that can help to free people.

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

    Perhaps I am, but connect the dots for me, if you will. Just a while ago there was a general discussion about corruption, how even well-meaning people become corrupt once part of the political machine. So in this instance at least, it weren’t the people who were at fault but the corrupt system. So my question simply is — What has changed?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    capitalism, the very thing that has dragged literally billions of people out of poverty over the last 150 years.

    While this is true, there is also a finite limit, defined by the amount of raw materials available, to the extent to which capitalism can do this sort of thing.

    There are two obvious symptoms of this. The first is that the world’s human population is growing faster than the global economy, with the result that in spite of capitalism’s capacity to pull people out of poverty, there are more poor and hungry people in the world than there were 40 years ago.

    The second is the current climate change phenomenon, which is directly attributable to the practices that have made modern capitalism such a success.

    Capitalism and industrialism have been inextricably linked for the past 200 years, but the relationship isn’t sustainable.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Not sure that I follow you, Roger.

    The reason that people become corrupted, not necessarily in a financial sense, when they enter the arena of party politics is that to serve a dogma, whether it be a religious one or a political one, is to abandon honesty and the truth in favour of an idea.

    Most ideas are great, up to a point, but take them out of their original context or purpose and they can easily become corrupting.

    But to go back to your point, the corrupting nature of dogmatic politics has nothing to do with capitalism or the points I was making.

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

    Well, they’re not going to disengage of their own accord. Why would a multinational willingly disburse and relinquish it’s market share and competitive edge?

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

    What then is your prescription, Chris, for a politician that wouldn’t disappoint? And how far do you extend the meaning of the term “dogmatic”? You’re not suggesting that a politician should run for office with no beliefs whatever and no platform?

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    I think it isn’t right to say that there is a limit on raw materials, Doc, modern technologies are going to square that circle for us.

    I think there are people alive today that will see the rise of technologies that will transform matter at a molecular or atomic level, so what might appear as a limiting factor now will in fact prove to be just another false barrier.

    Your other point is also somewhat inaccurate. Although there are more poor people now, there are also more people who aren’t.

    Climate change might be an issue – if we don’t find ways of dealing with it – but we don’t know that we won’t and a lot of people are working towards ways of doing that.

    I think the relationship between capitalism and industrialism has plenty of life left in it yet; in fact, the best may yet to come.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Roger, multinationals don’t work that way; 400 years ago the Dutch East India Company was one of the most powerful companies in the world. Now it is just a memory. The lesson is adapt or die.

    As to politicians, sure, why shouldn’t they have no beliefs? We don’t need conviction politics, we need solution politics.

  • Baronius

    You’re all trying to derive a definition of liberalism from first principles, but you’re not even trying to agree on first principles. No wonder this conversation is going nowhere. It’s people around the globe debating whether or not it’s daytime. Of course Cindy sees liberalism as part of the oppressive system, because she believes that the system is oppressive. Of course Roger believe that liberals are afraid of taking the next step, because Roger was a liberal who took another step. Of course Handy sees liberalism as defending the oppressed, because he espouses liberalism. Of course I emphasize the difference between its old and new usage, because that changes whether or not I agree with it.

    I’m surprised that Roger doesn’t get this, with his emphasis on post-modernism. Roger, of all people, trying to get people of different frameworks to agree on the meaning of a word!

    That’s not to say that we can’t understand the other person’s schema, or find some consistent criteria. But you’re starting midstream or mid-waterfall.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    I hope you’re right, Chris. Still, it seems rather… uncapitalistic to bet the house on it.

    There’s a lot of resistance to the idea that capitalism has to change. Especially when it turns out that an economic system many have come to view as the ultimate and perfect manifestation of human achievement may very well end up destroying us all. There are those who would rather deny this than admit that capitalism has a fatal flaw.

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

    These mercantile ventures were supported by Empires, they were the arms of the Empire. When the Empires dwindled, so did the ventures. Anti-colonialism movement did the rest. There has got to be a push and an shove, that’s my point. The question is, where is it going to come from?

    As to “problem solving,” technocrats come to mind. But in essence, the main political divide in the US (and I’m certain the UK too) revolves around less or more government, no? And to many people, these are important issues, which fact, in turn, causes a political stalemate.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Everything has flaws, Doc; we live in an imperfect universe after all.

    Capitalism will change, just as it always has. Being a process, a medium of energy exchange if you like, it will adapt to our needs, just as it always has. Repetition intended!

  • zingzing

    cindy: “I think you miss my larger point. Only the privileged can afford to ‘look on the bright side’ (another way of saying ‘apologize for’) a sick system.”

    and i think you miss my point. realize that i only half-ass “defended” capitalism. troll, or someone, maybe anarcisse, said that capitalism was the great oppressor, or something to that effect. i pointed out that, like any other human system, capitalism has its good and bad sides. it’s implicit that for every steve jobs there are hundreds of those stuck in a near-permanent underclass of poverty, destined to work low wage jobs that offer very little chance of upward movement. but there always is that chance, which is better than you can say about most economic systems.

    i don’t want to destroy capitalism. its pluses are too great. i would like to somehow get rid of the terrible effects it can have upon portions of the population, but i really don’t pretend to know how…

    that said, $7 an hour isn’t a living wage, but some on the right would have you believe that raising the minimum wage would be bad for business. i say that may be true in the short term, but in the long term, i really doubt it. maybe i’m being too simplistic, but a real living wage for every worker seems to be a place to start if one wants to work within the framework of capitalism to better the lives of our least fortunate.

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

    zing,

    I was just finishing a biting response to your comment to Anarcissie, and was going to post it, but having seen your #237 I changed my mind. You’ve got to admit though that your honorable mention of Steve Jobs — “a homeboy made good” was hilarious. It may have resonated in the past, not in today’s climate.

    A question: you said the world might be better without class-structure, that you were inclined to believe in that, but that you can’t act on it because it won’t work. Are you completely denying your efficacy as a human agent, that no matter what you do, it won’t make a difference. The people in the Middle East and Africa, who are in the process of overthrowing forty-year old regimes, certain wouldn’t agree with you. In fact, they’re a proof to the contrary. In any case, Anarcissie made a tactical error in using the “they” pronoun rather then the first-personal singular. I would have put the question to Handy directly. But even so, why do you feel compelled to speak on behalf of the class referenced by the pronoun “they” instead of simply saying how you, the individual, feel and relate to the question? Why wouldn’t zing lift a finger to live up to Handy’s credo of protecting the prey from the predators, even if others won’t do jack shit? What do others have to do with it? Does Handy feel exactly the same way? Does Dreadful? In my estimation, and to their credit, they didn’t say. It was you who have all along been insisting on on being lumped with others into a category, that each and every person is an individual. Point taken. So why don’t you then act and respond as an individual? That’s what I found most lacking about your response, as though you were not being forthright your own beliefs and convictions, what zing thinks and what zing thinks he ought to do, by invoking the very category you yourself were at times objecting to.

    Sure, capitalism has had it’s pluses, and it might still do some good in the Third World, though I doubt it. But it’s done with America after it squeezed it dry. Business won’t even invest in this country, in spite of the mountains of cash at its disposal, because it’s poor risk. There is no recovery from this global crisis, and certainly not insofar as the post-industrial powers are concerned. It’s going to be more of the same, only worse.

    Do re-read the last paragraph of Roubini’s piece I linked to way up the thread. It says it better than I can.

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

    … not insisting but resisting …

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

    @233

    Even if it can’t be satisfactorily defined, Baronous, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth a try. The very fact that, say, when zing is challenged, all the usual suspects come to his defense, and vice versa, is reason enough to believe there is a certain commonality of political belief they all share. They’re not doing so merely out of friendship of affiliation.

    Apart from that, liberalism or progressivism is a movement which manifest itself in the mountain of regulations and legislation, in the increasing role of the government in private lives as well as the economic sphere, in short it defines and constitutes the present-day political reality, and that’s regardless of whether there is any formal organization or a coalition. It’s a mindset, and it certainly is the harbinger of the future, in spite of the conservative opposition.

    So from my standpoint, I’d like to know what I’m dealing with because I, too, oppose it for a variety of reasons.

  • zingzing

    “You’ve got to admit though that your honorable mention of Steve Jobs — “a homeboy made good” was hilarious.”

    maybe. but i’d never read up on any biographical info on him before his resignation and it was fresh in my mind. still, stories like that happen, not all the time, but frequently. the guy who thought up paypal (which is capitalism at its most meta) is worth billions now… and he’s fucking bonkers. my old boss got in on the ground floor of the first dot com bubble, and was one of the worst offenders in artificially inflating the value of the stock, and still made off with billions. in his native india, his caste was pretty low on the pole. saying these things no longer happen is just blindness.

    “A question: you said the world might be better without class-structure, that you were inclined to believe in that, but that you can’t act on it because it won’t work. Are you completely denying your efficacy as a human agent, that no matter what you do, it won’t make a difference.”

    that’s not what i meant. i meant that the class system (even if it is just an arbitrary thing that we create mostly in our minds) is ingrained in our society. i don’t think it’s going anywhere. so i think that elevating our lower classes (even if they remain the lower classes) to a better economic position is a more feasible goal that the complete destruction of the class structure. and i think it’s one that most people can get behind, regardless of their class.

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

    Here’s one for you, Baronius. Show me a liberal who doesn’t believe in capitalism — never mind that he or she may have reservations! — as one of the indispensable ingredients of progress, and I’ll show you someone who has just been cured of liberalism. (That’s the necessary condition.) Which puts the conservatives in the same camp, insofar as capitalism is concerned. You’re both establishment types.

    As to significant differences, if any? First, a conservative may have fewer reservations. Second, a conservative may not regard “progress” as the highest value. There’s still of course this little matter of protecting people from others and themselves — the thing Handy alluded to — a noble impulse, to be sure, but we needn’t bother with trivia.

    In any case, the latter explains why a liberal would legislate for a bigger government, federal or state, whereas a conservative would be against it.

  • zingzing

    roger, what economic form do you believe would be of greater benefit to all?

  • zingzing

    and my feelings about capitalism are akin to my feelings about chemotherapy.

  • Anarcissie

    233 – Baronius, Aug 26, 2011 at 11:22 am:
    You’re all trying to derive a definition of liberalism from first principles, but you’re not even trying to agree on first principles. No wonder this conversation is going nowhere. It’s people around the globe debating whether or not it’s daytime. …

    I think one can give a fairly coherent account of liberalism-capitalism as a sort of narrative or genealogy, starting with Locke or maybe his sources. It would be a pretty long account, though. Liberalism-capitalism is so far the most revolutionary ideology and practice seen on the Earth since the invention of slavery several thousand years ago, and due to its broad success — its power has just been shown again in the Arab world — the ideas and practices have split into several competing currents or branches. (In the United States, the only large group of people who don’t sign on to most liberal dogma are the rightist religious radicals.) An account of liberalism would almost be an encyclopedia of the modern world.

  • Jordan Richardson

    redefine your relationship with the products of your labor

    What does this mean, troll? How to you LITERALLY do this? No rhetoric and loaded words. What is a practical, specific way someone can do this?

    One real world example will suffice.

    challenge the current market paradigm where you can

    Ditto to this.

    Would you consider labelling capitalism and the current construct of society as a “challenge” to it? Because many people, including “liberals,” have done this around here.

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

    Look, I’m not against innovation, industrialization and technology. It’s that kind of massive, concerted effort that brought us the railways, the automobile and everyday appliances. Likewise with mass-produced agricultural products, although here, in spite of conventional wisdom, one could argue that we call all benefit from greater proliferation of small to mid-size farms. We only need one Monsanto, and we certainly don’t need Monsanto absorbing the smaller, otherwise viable concerns. Likewise with all sources of energy and relatively few major providers. We’ve reached a level of concentration that to believe all this could be done a local level is unrealistic (although there are some exceptions which run counter to AT&T monopoly, in internet service, for example). But that’s what capitalism means to me, and I doubt it also means same to troll or Anarcissie. I’m not referring to productive capacity which capitalism affords. The point has more to do with the separation of the labor from the productive processes in terms of management, decision-making and profit sharing. It’s precisely this kind separation that creates the classes and class-structure. Which is why a co-op venture is such an attractive alternative because it does away with this separation. Everybody’s a part-owner, and therefore there are no workers and no owners. And it’s not even socialism, because it’s not the state that runs the enterprises. People do.

    A good model would be one offered by participatory democracies in the workplace in former Yugoslavia. To the best of my knowledge, these were people-run business concerns, neither private nor national(ized).

    But this is not my area of expertise. I’m certain that Cindy, troll and Anarcissie would be better qualified to cite pertinent examples.

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

    #247 is a response to zing’s #243.

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

    … that’s not what capitalism means to me …

  • Anarcissie

    236 – Christopher Rose Aug 26, 2011 at 11:30 am:

    Everything has flaws, Doc; we live in an imperfect universe after all.

    Capitalism will change, just as it always has. Being a process, a medium of energy exchange if you like, it will adapt to our needs, just as it always has. Repetition intended!

    The great problem for capitalism is capitalism itself. In order to maintain themselves as the ruling class of a community, the capitalists must find or create conditions in which their wealth and skills are crucial to human well-being, even survival. But because capitalism is enormously creative and productive in material terms, these necessary conditions are constantly being mitigated. The capitalists must then either produce more scarcity somehow, or reinvent capitalism, so that the game, and their social power, can continue. In the modern era, scarcity has been produced through war, imperialism, waste, and consumerism. And yet it is constantly being threatened. The fact that people no longer need to submit to capitalist authority is constantly in danger of leaking into public consciousness. Eventually it seems certain that the present working classes are going to stop being satisfied by new toys and besting their neighbors at acquisition and display; they will not find them worth the injuries and humiliations of class or the 40-hour-week. Then what?

  • Jordan Richardson

    Cindy, I actually think you missed my point.

    Your eagerness to place blame appears to be your primary concern, sadly, and that, I believe, is a true obstacle to moving beyond the paradigm we’re trapped under. This infighting and these quests for ideological purity that you uphold and support with such vigour only serve to derail any sense of progress by fostering disdain, hatred and judgement.

    Again, YOU prop up the capitalist structure by existing in it. You think it matters that you “speak out” on occasion after you fill up your mug at Starbucks? Nope, sorry.

    The only way is to push the existing frame and the only practical application that ACTUALLY WORKS has been offered by one Christopher Rose on a similar thread a little while ago. This was something I was already participating in, by the way, and something I addressed several months ago in another thread on Noam Chomsky, the fragmented “movements” we need to leave behind, ideological purity, and the art of being a partisan asshole.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Anarcissie, your #218 contains some valid, practical applications. Thank you.

    We actually have quite a few co-ops in Canada and they’re quite popular, amazingly enough.

    With respect to “withdrawing labour and wealth,” however, I’m wondering how that works. It’s in the bloodstream, I’d argue, and withdrawal is almost entirely not an option.

    For instance, where did you buy your computer?

    The capitalist structure doesn’t care; it doesn’t wound easily. It doesn’t care if you buy a dozen Pepsis and pour them down the drain; it just cares that you BOUGHT. Period. It doesn’t care if you speak out so long as you plug in.

    So how do you unplug in a way that is SIGNIFICANT?

    If “speaking out” against the evils of the system is sufficient, how is it that “liberals” like zingzing and handyguy don’t pass muster?

  • Jordan Richardson

    Roger, perhaps the biggest example of a working co-op is Indian Coffee House. 400 stores across India, run by just over a dozen cooperative societies. It’s a good model.

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

    The only kind of movement which can possibly leave behind ideological purity is a movement against all kinds of human domination by other humans — against the people of color, gays, lesbian, women, and most importantly all of our poor. For manner’s sake and lest I offend anyone, I’ll remain at the level of the metaphor and refer to all such our “invisibles.”

    Apropos of “ideological purity,” it’s quite a thing with revolutionaries and there’s plenty of precedent. The most telling, perhaps, the massive beheadings of the presumptive leaders of the French Revolution during the Reign of Terror — all in the name of “intellectual purity” and not betraying the people.

    Courtesy of Jean-François Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition …

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

    Thank, Jordan. But I’m not the practical sort, you know. I just crank out theories and leave implementation to others.

    A typical good-for-nothing intellectual, that’s all. But I try …

  • Anarcissie

    Jordan — the fact that present cooperativism (?) is below the radar of the liberal-capitalist state is an advantage; efforts would be made to destroy it if it were perceived as significant. Check out the fate of the Dukhobors in British Columbia, for example.

    You are quite correct in saying that withdrawal is not a simple matter. I wished to withdraw from the system around the time of the war in Vietnam because I felt that participation amounted to being the accomplice of murderers. However, I discovered that the larger economy of North America (that is, the U.S. and Canada) was completely integrated; the only way to drop completely out of it would have been to live in the woods like those survivalists in Idaho, which I wasn’t up to. One evidently must withdraw oneself piecemeal. One may well not have the luxury of significance.

    Speaking out against the system isn’t sufficient, but it’s something. But everyone complains. Suggesting practical alternatives and goals is even more useful; people might do something about them.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Suggesting practical alternatives and goals is even more useful; people might do something about them.

    Precisely.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Roger, have you ever been part of a co-operative? I have, and it was a nightmare, with far more demarcation and separation and far more politicised in a bad way than any other business I’ve ever been involved with.

    I hope there are other examples of co-ops that have been different but my experience is that they are far less effective than other business formats.

    Anarcissie, I don’t recognise your portrayal of capitalism; I don’t see capitalists as the ruling class of communities nor do I consider that “the capitalists must find or create conditions in which their wealth and skills are crucial to human well-being, even survival”.

    That really sounds like some kind of dated, almost Marxist analysis that has little relevance to the world as it is actually formatted.

    As you go on to say “The fact that people no longer need to submit to capitalist authority is constantly in danger of leaking into public consciousness”, although I would go further and say that it HAS leaked into public consciousness and there is a rapidly diminishing amount of respect for any authority that capitalists may still have, which is a good thing.

    It is also a good thing that we are all capable of being capitalists these days, something that was unimaginable only a decade or so ago.

    This is further evidence to support my conjecture that capitalism is a good thing and its further dissemination through a broader part of all communities is empowering.

    That is why I also support the concept of micro-finance, which is directly empowering the world’s poorest people to shape and control their own lives, rather than the old school aid model with all its proven deficiencies and dependencies.

    Despite the problems caused by its poor implementation in some instances, capitalism is not inherently evil; that would be like saying a steam engine or chemistry is evil, which is clearly absurd.

    It is just a process and the challenge is to have the ambition and imagination to create better instances and iterations of it.

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

    #257

    Anarcissie is of course right, and so are you, Jordan, because theory evolves out of practice and by then, who needs theory?

    I’ll have to resign myself, however, to the role of agent provocateur, because that’s what I’m best fit for, hoping all the while that that the converse is also true, namely that there are times when theory gives rise to practice. Let me be, therefore, among the ones who not just complain but who contribute, in however small way, to this “leaking into the public consciousness” which Anarcissie had so aptly put and Christopher Rose seconded.

    I’ve always (well, not always, because when I was younger, I was overly impressed with the sense of my own importance) maintained that it’s the masses that have to do the heavy lifting. Having said that, however, I’d be quite content to be another Lenin of the movement afoot, and I have no apologies to make whatever.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Let’s not set the bar too high, Roger. ;)

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

    And yes, the fact that we are capable of “being [little] capitalists these days” is definitely a plus, although the unintended consequence of the economic system per se, I hasten to add. Credit the political ideology for that, which asserts that all men are created equal, which is also a good thing and another unintended consequence in that this premise was taken to heart and at face value to apply to everyone and everyone (as opposed to how it was originally intended).

    So you see, Christopher, we’re not all bad guys as the story goes, another bunch of Luddites intent on destroying the machinery and put an end to the dream of human progress. Quite the contrary, We applaud the values espoused, just hope they’ll be transferred and realizable by all.

    Let’s take this to the bank therefore, no pun intended, and hope Everyman will realize he or she can be more or less self-sufficient.

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

    Why not, Jordan? Somebody’s got to. Thus far, there aren’t any takers.

    In any case, it’s always better to be overachiever than underachiever, so what have I got to lose?

  • Anarcissie

    258 – Christopher Rose Aug 26, 2011 at 4:26 pm:

    … Anarcissie, I don’t recognise your portrayal of capitalism; I don’t see capitalists as the ruling class of communities nor do I consider that “the capitalists must find or create conditions in which their wealth and skills are crucial to human well-being, even survival”.

    You need a theory of how power is acquired and deployed in (according to you, not really) capitalist states, then. This theory should explain instances like the Bushes, Clinton and Obama and their allies, henchmen, gang members, appointees. As I observe it, the process of their elevation seems to have involved a great deal of money and connections. Clearly, a state must have some kind of ruling class, because it is centered on a government, which manifests two classes at least: those in the government, and those not. The ruling class has to legitimate itself to the ruled in some way: direct force, the threat of force, terror, propaganda, secrecy, benevolence-malevolence, superstition, whatever. Your theory also needs to explain how these people can carry on policies which the people dislike (endless war), and fail to implement others the people desire (Single Payer) for indefinitely long periods of time.

    I’ve evolved my theory through observation and reasoning about my observations. If it comes out sounding like Uncle Karl, good for him. He might have been on to something.

    A couple of other points: people going into business for themselves is not capitalism, it’s socialism. Socialism is the ownership and control of the means of production by the workers. Capitalism in its most simple form is the exploitation of labor and capital by an owning-managing class, which gains this power by class possession of the means of production.

    At present, I don’t think the prospects are very good for working-class acquisition of capital in the form of stock: on the one hand, there is considerable unemployment and wage depression, and on the other, vast sums of government funny money have been used directly and indirectly to inflate the price of equities. This condition may well pass away soon in some kind of general collapse, in which case the prospects of workers buying out their bosses will improve. However, they had better watch out for chicanery, of which there is a great deal in the financial world, especially around stocks and what they actually represent.

    Capitalism may not be evil, but it is contrary to reason for a willful, intelligent being to submit to a ruler other than under forcible compulsion. Therefore, any state, including a capitalist state, contains tensions around political power which evidence themselves in wars, revolutions, crimes and oppression. Some of this tension can be reduced by moving to a situation in which the workers possess the means of production and have control of their work.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Anarcissie, I don’t agree that I need a theory of how power is acquired and I never used the phrase capitalist states, so you appear to be talking to your own preconceptions rather than what I am saying.

    If a state must have a ruling class, why then are our “leaders” so limited in power and ineffectual?

    People going into business for themselves is capitalism; small scale capitalism evolves into larger units quite naturally.

    “Capitalism may not be evil, but it is contrary to reason for a willful, intelligent being to submit to a ruler other than under forcible compulsion.” This is again pure theorising and as far as I am concerned it is a false premise. Having a job isn’t submitting to a ruler and your notion of a willful intelligent being is contrary to what many workers actually are. You appear to be romanticising.

    Sure, there are tensions around power, why wouldn’t or shouldn’t there be? If there wasn’t, what kind of a species would we be? There are no states other than capitalist states so the rest of your point is, well, kind of pointless…

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

    Form of acquiescence, however. We’re trading eight hours a day, five days a week, for the sake of exercising our freedoms as consumers and preserving our private space.

    Many people are beginning to question whether it’s not the devil’s bargain.

  • troll

    re Jordan #246 – I’m beginning to skip on this part having replayed it so much:

    grow a garden – give the surplus produce to individuals food banks food-not-bombs etc

    harvest heirloom seed – give them (with their encrypted subversive knowledges) away

    this is one scalable symbolic and practical project – not quite spinning or producing salt but not that far off either

    we in the industrialized West have achieved the basics – an 8 hr day (when you can find it) is the norm leaving working stiffs with plenty of time for revolutionary creativity – labor for 3 or 4 more hours ‘outside of work’…produce something that you think valuable…give it away (to your unemployed bros for example)

    bc is an interesting model of this idea btw

    retorts that this approach is insignificant miss much of its point – which is self-transformation…alienating oneself from alienation — the beginning of revolutionary action

    ps – my underlying problem with capitalism isn’t that it is evil although in many ways it is…my problem is that its market is a crappy feedback mechanism – crises and ‘employment dislocations’ are not optional under capitalism (I’m not a speed typist and shudder at the number of folks who starved to death while I wrote this – international capitalism can be said to be in constant crisis)

    they can’t be shrugged off with a ‘you have to crack a few egg’ attitude as the liquidators would require nor adequately anticipated by central banks and governments

    imo we would need a new set of productive relationships for Chris’ tech vision to materialize in any but an aggressive weaponized form as a response to social crisis

    ymmv but I doubt by much

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

    So “troll” thinks donating eight hours a day, if we’re ever so lucky, still gives us time enough, if not the fortitude, to concern ourselves with the state of the world, let alone with the idea of changing it.

    I beg to disagree. It’s too optimistic an appraisal. Perhaps I’m not to speak here because I speak only from personal experience. But truth be told, the only reason I consent to put in my hours is to get a second-hand vehicle, eight hundred dollars, no more, to get me back to California where I belong. Without it, I have no mobility to speak of, no freedom, no sense of efficacy or knowing I can make a difference. And even so, I feel guilty for the fact I have to give my time to the man for the sake of obtaining the necessary good.

    It’s pathetic.

  • Jordan Richardson

    troll, growing a garden is a terrific idea. We have a fairly large garden in the backyard here, but there isn’t much surplus food because it’s shared between my landlord’s family and the other tenant renting the other basement suite. Still, it’s a nice thing to do and everyone pitches in.

    What do you make of seed banks?

    retorts that this approach is insignificant miss much of its point – which is self-transformation…alienating oneself from alienation — the beginning of revolutionary action

    Right on the money. My curiosity, however, lies with how the rhetoric plays into this. How does dividing people into their categories aid in their transformation? Do you expect someone to just say “oh yeah, that guy on the Internet told me I was an obstacle to democracy so I better wake up and do something about that?”

    When you (using a collective “you” here) suggest that “liberals,” for instance, are encouraging and propping up the system as it is when perhaps many liberals have gardens and foster communities, you do require more substance. The notion of us all “pitching in for a better world” is something to strive for, but chastising the various posters, including myself, for enhancing the cruel status quo or buying into the “sick system” without acknowledging your own contributions impedes it. These little tongue-in-cheek rejoinders do the same.

    The seeds of revolution don’t lie in further dividing the people, it would seem, but in encouraging them to find better ways and helping push the frame to its broadest potential.

  • Anarcissie

    It’s true, you don’t need a theory of power if you’re happy enough with what’s going on.

    My politics started along time ago, when I started asking why I couldn’t do the things I wanted to do, and had to do things I didn’t want to do. Sometimes the answer was ‘physics’ or ‘the goddamned duality of it all’, but sometimes it was something else, like the government, the state, the social order. So I started to think about the nature of those forces so that I could evade them, circumvent them, possibly defeat them. This seems only sensible to me.

    Somewhat further down the road I became concerned with the fact that the state organizes murder, terror, torture, imprisonment, impoverishment, a general atmosphere of lies and fraud and propaganda both at home and abroad, much more serious things than the worst of the inconveniences I had up till then endured. Since the end of World War 2, the United States, liberalism-capitalism’s poster child, has knocked off two or three million non-combatants in a couple of dozen military operations upon countries which had not attacked it and keeps nearly a million harmless drug users in jail — the ones it hasn’t killed in police operations. I don’t like this sort of thing; I don’t even like to kill insects. So this added urgency to my quest to understand what was going on, and a certain disinclination to accept fables.

    It also implied certain methods, like ‘Follow the money’, ‘Observe the chain of command’, ‘Just the facts, Ma’am’, ‘As above, so below’, ‘Where there is smoke, suspect fire’ and so on. No happy, satisfied, well-adjusted person would employ such methods, I’m sure. But I’m a crank.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Roger, that’s the pickle we’re all in. The only difference is that our “necessary good” is almost always more expansive and pathetic than $800 and a car.

    For most of us, the necessary good is an ongoing siege of working two or more jobs to make ends meet, pay down credit cards, mortgages, student loans, etc. while also trying to put food on tables and clothes on backs. Getting a little social time somehow squeaks in there, if it’s prioritized.

    At the end of all that, which is really an average existence, what’s next? That we should all require so little by way of necessity would be a dream, so it’s no small wonder there aren’t more gardens or cultivators of heirloom seeds and the like.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Anarcissie, when you use the term “liberalism,” are you using it in the classical sense or some other sense?

  • Jordan Richardson

    Here is a good article on the subject, actually.

    It illustrates how most people, regardless of political stripe or label, oppose the “corporatocracy” in the United States.

    “There are a great many Americans who have been so worn down by decades of personal and political defeats, financial struggles, social isolation and daily interaction with impersonal and inhuman institutions that they no longer have the energy for political actions.”

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

    Capitalism is evil. Capitalism turns people into objects. Objects to get things from, use in various ways, or otherwise manipulate. Once people become objects there is no limit to it. It is a cancer in the human soul. It is a system based on the worst human beings are capable of and now we eat and sleep and breath and think it. It is in our brain cells. It has created a warped social reality.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Stupidity is evil. Stupidity turns people into objects.

    There, fixed it for you…

    As an alternate response, capitalism isn’t capable of being evil, Cindy; it doesn’t have the ability to embody such a quality.

    You might as well say carpentry is evil.

    Bad people turn other people into objects, which IS evil.

    As a process, capitalism can have a wide range of implementations and it is how it is implemented that matters. To say it is always evil is simply childish and rather silly.

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

    Anyone who thinks otherwise today, is a person I challenge to challenge themselves and spend a month looking up and purposely exploring the negatives and their effect on human beings and the environment worldwide.

    Capitalism doesn’t exist without a state to enforce private property laws and it does not exists as spectacularly as it does in the west without a state to rape the planet to have achieved it.

    (Hint: You will not find the necessary info under your own bed or on your TV set. You will have to step into the shoes of others. Make sure you recognize that many of these others are children.)

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Are you having a conversation or delivering a lecture?

    Either way, you’re failing to make your case…

  • troll

    Jordan – I once was a fly on the wall at what was billed as a planning session with 14 others most of whom would describe themselves as liberal (with a dash of radical) centered on a food production project and how to share expertise and means of production including labor

    when it came time to discuss what should become of the surplus once the needs of the group had been satisfied the loudest response was to take it to the local farmers’ market where it could be sold at a premium due to its organic…etc etc or sell futures etc etc…reinvest in more greenhouses and equipment…etc etc…pay people for their labor…etc etc etc

    and that’s what they did — although the group quickly splintered (after the more anarchic elements self-purged) and they became competing producers more or less

    alternatives suggested included daily community meals and gifting

    the whole process was quite civil really

    …an obstacle to democracy? dunno

    while I appreciate your point about ‘purging’ others who are on transformative paths I don’t worry that liberals will be too traumatized by anarchist critique

    …as it is always meant in the best possible way of course

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

    Christopher,

    Capitalism is exploitation.

    It gets worse along those lines from that point.

    Let’s set aside the exploitation of human labor for a moment and look at the effect on the social reality and the environment.

    As a capitalist my job is to convince you that you need to buy things from me. My job is also to sell things and make a profit. I need to endlessly sell more and more. These qualities promote the following conditions:

    1) The waste of resources and the destruction of the natural environment.

    2) The manipulation of the ‘consumer’ in order to get her to buy more.

    3) The adoption of a non-empathetic attitude. How can I manipulate people if I empathize with them?

    (How can I sexualize little girls so they will hate their bodies so I can sell them wonder bras and clothing and make-up, if I empathize with them and love them?)

    I have seen otherwise good people, right here on BC, argue in favor of sweat shops. Capitalism is responsible for the existence of such an argument. And for the possibility of even seeing it and valid. And most people reading the argument weren’t really all that aghast. This is part and parcel of everyday thinking. The person putting it forth in a sane culture would be (symbolically) burned at the stake.

    Now bringing exploited labor back into the picture, is there an example of capitalism that does not ‘get stupid’ as you call it?

    I am not aware that carpentry is exploitation. At the very very least, in your scenario, human beings are far to stupid to ever be trusted with a system based on greed and exploitation.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    I think democracy is far more problematic than capitalism.

    Perhaps that is why the United States, despite championing democracy all around the world for others, isn’t one…

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Your definition of capitalism is inaccurate, Cindy, so naturally your analysis and understanding is too.

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

    276 – Who me? I was making a general point. If I am failing to make my case, that is to be expected. I would be shocked if I did make my case. It took me months, if not a couple years, of struggle to make my case to myself.

    Come back and tell me about my case when you have devoted the month I recommended to seeing things differently than you do.

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

    280 I am incredulous, Christopher. It is not my definition. Pray tell what is your definition?

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    I don’t need to attempt to repeat whatever process you have undergone over the last month, Cindy.

    Your understanding of capitalism seems to come straight out of the early 20th Century and ignore so much information that contradicts it as to render your position nothing more than absurd.

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

    …whatever process you have undergone over the last month, Cindy.

    Are you going to convince me by not even reading what I wrote correctly?

    Your understanding of capitalism seems to come straight out of the early 20th Century and ignore so much information that contradicts it as to render your position nothing more than absurd.

    Claiming things and defending them are two different things. You have yet to argue your case. I seem to have missed your definition, Christopher.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    If it is not your definition, Cindy, whose is it?

    Capitalism is simply a process for transforming energy from one format to another. It can obviously be used for bad purposes and to bad ends but so can carpentry or any other transformative processes.

    That doesn’t make the processes evil, they simply mirror the people utilising them. As with all human problems, the solution lies within each one of us.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Oh, yes, I did misunderstand your remark about a month but that doesn’t change anything, your understanding of the process is still wildly inaccurate and subjective and presumably says more about you than about capitalism.

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

    Capitalism is simply a process for transforming energy from one format to another. It can obviously be used for bad purposes and to bad ends but so can carpentry or any other transformative processes.

    That is your definition of capitalism? Okay. Then, I guess we won’t get any further for now.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    It is you that needs to get somewhere on this topic, Cindy. I feel like we are communicating through a time machine; no prizes for working out which of us is living in the past…

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

    I am always only capable of being subjective. But the definition of capitalism that is unique seems to be coming from you.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    I don’t follow your point; who isn’t subjective?

    However, as to capitalism it is obvious by simply looking at it that it is just a process.

    I’ve no idea if that is a unique perception and don’t really care whether it is or not.

    If your depiction was actually accurate, then ALL instances of capitalism would be obviously and unequivocally evil, which I don’t think is the case.

    There are some bad iterations and plenty that demonstrate the law of unintended consequences but that doesn’t remotely support your position.

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

    I don’t follow your point; who isn’t subjective?

    your understanding of the process is still wildly inaccurate and subjective and presumably says more about you than about capitalism.

    I think my point on subjectivity doesn’t require further explanation beyond saying you implied that you aren’t.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    I didn’t imply any such thing, Cindy. As I said above, who isn’t?

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    That said, there are people who are entirely subjective and those who aren’t; if you are one of the former, then you will always have difficulty seeing the real nature of things.

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

    290

    Well then the view looks good from inside your head, Christopher. I will really stop now. I think your definition doesn’t have enough in common with the typical usage to make the discussion profitable. You can call your cat a dog for all I care or say a tree is a bus. But, it’s not going to help communication much.

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

    there are people who are entirely subjective and those who aren’t

    I’ve never met anyone who isn’t entirely subjective.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    The typical usage of the term capitalism doesn’t carry the connotation of evil, Cindy, so it is you that is making it be something it isn’t.

    As I said, it is the implementation that makes something good or bad. Take ovens – in a kitchen, almost always good; in a concentration camp, almost always bad.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    If you’ve never met anybody who isn’t entirely subjective, then you desperately need to broaden your social circle.

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

    Take ‘exploiting labor’ – always bad, always capitalism.

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

    Take ‘profit motive’ – always bad, always capitalism.

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

    Take ‘private property’ – always bad, always capitalism.

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

    Take ‘private decision in exploiting resources’ – always bad, always capitalism.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Maybe so for the first one, but take “employing labour” or “empowering labour” not always bad but always capitalism.

    Totally disagree on the second one, why on earth would a profit motive be bad?

    If that was the case then by extension every act in which one hoped to gain a positive outcome would also be bad, which is obviously ludicrous.

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

    Take ‘private profit motive for determining community needs’ – always bad, always capitalism.

    Take ‘private profit motive for determining community resource exploitation’ – always bad, always capitalism.

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

    “empowering labour”

    I am empowered when I own my own hand. Not otherwise.

    Otherwise, we end up at Dave Nalle’s ‘empowering the third world through more sweat shops’.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    I don’t understand what you mean by “private profit motive for determining community needs”; how does a profit motive determine a community need?

    You might have more of a case with “private profit motive for determining community resource exploitation”, although it would depend on the specifics of course, but hitting on particular instances like this doesn’t characterise the process, it characterises the person implementing that iteration, so you are still not making the case that capitalism itself is evil.

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

    why on earth would a profit motive be bad?

    It encourages people to see each other as objects for exploitation. If I want to sell something, all I need do is create a need. The best way to create a market is to tap into the human psyche and exploit its fears.

    Watch any commercial closely, or any popular TV show, and see what children are seeing. See what is forming their beliefs and ideas about themselves and others.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    No, you are MORE empowered when you own your own hand, but you are definitely also empowered when you can use your own hands to do some work to enable you to acquire something you want or need.

    You seem to be having a weird case of liberal guilt rather than actually understanding the nature of capitalism…

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    You keep making the same error, Cindy. A profit motive CAN encourage “people to see each other as objects for exploitation” but it doesn’t necessarily HAVE to.

    As I’ve already pointed out more than once, you are trying to make bad instances representative of the basic concept, which is inaccurate.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    It is also more true – and more commonly the case – that you can make a profit by selling something that people actually do need, like food or clothes for example, rather than by creating a need.

    You really need to get out of this negative mindset which is seriously warping your perception. This is why being totally subjective is so dangerous and deceiving.

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

    “private profit motive for determining community needs”

    By this, I mean that if we are in a community, we can decide what sorts of things we want and need to be made. We can then make them or have them made, or research ways of making them. We can make them well and sturdy so they last and our resources are protected. We can make them based on *non-manipulated choice.

    This saves a lot of waste over the profit determination which goes more like this–

    multiple companies make variations of the same thing (all with holdbacks–i.e. features that are not included even though they are known, which are saved for future ‘rollouts’ to insure the need to buy the same item multiple times), all using up resources. We don’t need 100 versions of the Ipod. (Imagine if we could make a few versions that had all the best features and were built to last.)

    So, community decision making about what to make would eliminate a huge amount of wasted resources and pollution and would avoid all the manipulation by sellers that comes with the profit motive.

    (*That is we haven’t been convinced because we saw a half-naked women next to them. A scenario which manipulates both the woman and the ‘consumer’ as well as the social gender roles. We will be more emotionally sound if we are not manipulated by profiteers. Our daughters and sons will be able to accept their bodies and roles determined by status will disappear. For example, no child bullying based on inability to afford the latest consumer fashion.)

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

    And, we’d have better quality stuff that could do more.

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

    No, you are MORE empowered when you own your own hand, but you are definitely also empowered when you can use your own hands to do some work to enable you to acquire something you want or need.

    Then sweat shop labor is ‘empowered’ under your definition. There is no getting around that.

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

    Oh, and I should add a note on all the time and life wasted using up resources and raping the earth for products that have built-in obsolescence could be better spent just enjoying life itself, or visiting old people, or helping others, or being creative.

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

    Profit motive requires the creation of and maintenance of a ‘work ethic’, such as it infects people in modern culture.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    In addition to your seeming obsession with trying to make a universal case out of some examples of bad implementation, you also seem to be falling for the classic liberal self deception that comes up with this kind of argument – “if we are in a community, we can decide what sorts of things we want and need to be made. We can then make them or have them made, or research ways of making them. We can make them well and sturdy so they last and our resources are protected. We can make them based on *non-manipulated choice.”

    Setting aside the potentially difficult question of what exactly a community is or its size and scope, in theory that might be possible but, if you actually looked at how that would be implemented, what it would take to do so, you would have very little option but to conclude that it would in fact not work.

    your Ipod example is a case in point; do you actually understand what is involved in the production of such a device? How that could be done on a community basis completely baffles me.

    Plus which, why not have lots of different versions? I don’t want to have the same device as you in case you leap to the conclusion that we have something in common! ;-)

    It is also incredibly arrogant and condescending to assume that people are manipulated so easily, so as you appear to understand neither capitalism or people, I am left with only the perception that you are STILL making the particular into the universal, which is simply lazy thinking.

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

    Common, guys. Let’s take five. There is some merit to Christopher’s definition, as well as to Cindy’s. She’s talking about deleterious effects, Christopher more so about productive capacity. We can’t altogether ignore the railroads, the steam engine, the computer or the automobile, can we now?

    Can’t we find a common ground and then resume this discussion?

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    With respect, Roger, Cindy ISN’T talking about deleterious effects; she hasn’t been saying that poor implementation can cause that, she has been saying that capitalism is evil, which is clearly not the case.

    Similarly, I am NOT talking about productive capacity; I’m simply pointing out that Cindy is extremely inaccurate and partial in her depiction of this process.

  • troll

    Rog #267 – the 19th century anarchist ideal was that individuals be able to reproduce their community in 4 or 5 hours/day leaving the rest of the time for its enrichment…I suspect that the actual necessary production time is less than that today (although 7 billion mouths is a bunch)

    one of the main purposes of the revolution is to take back the extra hours that are presently objects of capitalist lust of course

    but as things are lots of people will need to stay up late to develop an alternative economy

  • Anarcissie

    271 – Jordan Richardson Aug 26, 2011 at 8:03 pm:
    Anarcissie, when you use the term “liberalism,” are you using it in the classical sense or some other sense?

    Usually I mean ‘the common ostensible ideology* of those who call themselves liberals, or are called liberals by others.’ I see this ideology as one of a family of ideologies which descend more or less coherently from classical liberalism (e.g. Locke and company).

    As with any broad movement, there are many contradictory elements even within individuals, which leads to some confusion, which is why I previously (somewhere upthread) focused on the leadership. The primary example of this confusion the attitude towards capitalism. Great hostility to it and its practitioners is expressed in private and on the Net, and yet the leadership is uniformly pro-capitalist and pretty much paid for by major capitalists. The contradiction is partly resolved by observing that among the ranks the hostility does not carry over into the formation of any significant politics of socialism; it is easily diverted into Welfare and regulation, which are anti-socialist. In short, it is a successfully managed hostility.

    There are other similar confusions, as about imperial war. The liberal leadership is almost uniformly applauding the NATO takeover of Libya, whereas many of the rank and file are highly ambivalent about it. The anti-war movement, mildly troublesome to Clinton, was taken over and used by the Democrats against Bush, and then, with the nomination of Obama, neutralized, even though a majority of the population have opposed and continue to oppose Bush’s wars and Obama’s continuation of them. The leadership has a lot of continuity, a lot of coherence, going back for decades, perhaps centuries, so their version of liberalism is easier to describe.

    * We never finished discussion the meaning of ‘ideology’. I am using the word without value loading, to mean a system of values, beliefs, policies, etc.

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

    …your Ipod example is a case in point; do you actually understand what is involved in the production of such a device? How that could be done on a community basis completely baffles me.

    I didn’t say the thing had to be built within the confines of some community or other. I said the community (and that could be large or small, depending on what works and might even be variable (with fuzzy borders, depending on who is effected by what) would choose what it needs. In other words instead of commercials depicting Barbie’s new dream house, dream car, dream diamonds, and dream lipstick, we could have children within the community decide what sorts of toys and games and activities they might like and then have them made. We could decide what sorts of ipod type devices work for everyone and then order those to be made. They can even be made at a big huge factory in Desmoine. It doesn’t matter for the purposes of my example, which describes a sort of planned economy.

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

    It doesn’t matter where the things are made, I meant, for the purposes of my example. I am not discussing the creation of ‘self-sufficient’ outposts in my example.

  • Anarcissie

    315 – Christopher Rose Aug 27, 2011 at 8:18 am:
    ‘… your Ipod example is a case in point; do you actually understand what is involved in the production of such a device? How that could be done on a community basis completely baffles me.’

    If one collection of people can make an iPod, I don’t see any theoretical reason why another couldn’t even if somewhat differently organized.

    Whether a non-capitalist community would want to use its resources to create a new toy is another question. In capitalism, labor, production and consumption must be maximized to serve capital’s monomaniacal desire to expand; in the case of the iPod, a massive, expensive, very hip advertising campaign created a desire for something that had not previously existed and, therefore, no one had wanted. In some other social order, people might prefer to labor less, perhaps to take up the study of musical performance. But since people are trained to regard employment and consumption of manufactured goods as inevitable, the idea doesn’t occur to them, or is dismissed as disreputable. I don’t know what they would choose if they were free of this prejudice.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Cindy, you really need to try and lace your romantic, liberal theories with some practicality and realism.

    If children weren’t exposed to advertising, they would come up with basic ideas that would probably involve sticks and stones.

    Children also aren’t some kind of pleasant junior adult but far more aggressive and disposed to violence than adults as numerous studies have revealed.

    The fact that what you describe isn’t happening anywhere confirms that you are indulging in the classic liberal game of ideas rather than practical models for living.

    Meanwhile, real life is fortunately doing a fairly reasonable job of delivering that for most of us.

    If you are typical of those who might be developing such a planned economy, I reject your right to decide ANYTHING on my behalf because I don’t like your decision making process, which is clearly poorly thought through and entirely inadequate.

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

    Christopher,

    It’s easy sometimes to get all heated-up about some subjects. You know that Cindy’s personalizing of capitalism as “evil” was merely expressive of how she feels and relates to the system. This isn’t the issue.

    Just a suggestion, and you don’t have to take it. The following is a concise and balanced critique, and far from any radical Marxist perspective but rather a humanistic perspective. It’s well-written and it’s short (twenty some pages, more or less). I don’t think it’d hurt you to skim through it. It might give you some idea what Cindy is trying to get at, the points she’s trying to make. I posted the link way earlier, but I thought it would be most appropriate to do it now. Who knows, you might find some common ground I alluded to earlier.

    Troll, why don’t you give it a quick look too? There are some potent ideas we might want to rehash, and it’s a rather novel, “humanistic” approach.

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

    A profit motive CAN encourage “people to see each other as objects for exploitation” but it doesn’t necessarily HAVE to.

    *points to the world*

    Okay, when it doesn’t do that, I will reconsider.

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

    We can’t altogether ignore the railroads, the steam engine, the computer or the automobile, can we now?

    We don’t need to ignore them. They are quite possible without capitalism.

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

    I think you have a drop of liberalism left in your blood, Roger. ;-)

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

    Furthermore, along that line, we might as well say their are god and bad qualities to slavery. More than capitalism, the modern world depended on it.

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

    No Roger, I am afraid I don’t have a ‘common ground’ to resume with. If, as I said, I believe capitalism to be evil. Then to suggest I develop a common ground is to recommend seeing ‘the bright side’ of rape.

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

    If children weren’t exposed to advertising, they would come up with basic ideas that would probably involve sticks and stones.

    Children also aren’t some kind of pleasant junior adult but far more aggressive and disposed to violence than adults as numerous studies have revealed.

    I have to go throw up now. Your views make me sick. They are very wrong. But then that goes to show that the discourses of science do nothing if not promote and indoctrinate the values of the dominant culture.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Roger, if Cindy “feels and relates” to capitalism as evil, she could surely say so; as she didn’t but said that capitalism is evil, I gave her the respect of believing what she chose to say.

    As she has had ample opportunity to clarify her perspective and has only continued to assert the same thing, I don’t see why I should then be expected to assume that she actually meant something else.

    I had a brief look at the article you linked to but after three pages of it hadn’t really read anything new, helpful or even germane, so I gave up.

    I’m not saying capitalism is perfect; it is a human creation after all, so why would we even expect it to be? It isn’t inherently evil though and to try to characterise it as such is simply absurd.

    There is the germ of an idea in one of Cindy’s arguments but she doesn’t even get close to touching upon it, let alone exploring it on either a personal or more macro level.

    It is that capitalism has now developed technology to the level where it is possible to simply print technological devices as complex as mobile phones and even human organs.

    Once that technology becomes commonplace, and we are almost certainly talking less than ten years, we will be able to buy patterns and simply have our in home printers make a whole bunch of stuff for us.

    There is clearly massive transformative potential in such a technology that will affect how we live and work and, indeed, the nature of capitalism itself.

    As I’ve been trying to convey, capitalism isn’t evil at all, although we obviously need a better version of it than currently exists in many cases.

    That has always been the case, of course, although it is not without irony that it is capitalism itself that is delivering ever greater power to we the people.

    Just one example, both the laptop I am writing this comment with and the mobile phones owned by even comparatively poor people the world over, are more powerful than the computers that took humans to the moon 42 years ago.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Cindy, you are just getting silly.

    Whilst it is theoretically correct that “the railroads, the steam engine, the computer or the automobile” are possible without capitalism, the actual fact is that they were produced because of capitalism, so once again you are trying to place a liberal mind game in front of an actual cart, which is plainly ludicrous.

    There WERE good and bad qualities to slavery which, as I am sure you know, existed long before Europe encountered Africa. The “good” qualities were reserved for those with slaves and the bad for those who were slaves.

    Notably, although it had persisted in Africa for centuries, and to a limited extent still does exist there, it only survived in Europe and your former colony for a relatively short period of time.

    Having already made one silly comparison, between capitalism and slavery, you then go on to make an even more ludicrous analogy between capitalism and rape. I really can’t be bothered to demolish this absurd argument.

    I’m sorry that my views make you feel nauseous, Cindy, but hope that you will soon recover and at least TRY to come back with an argument that has at least some connection with reality.

    So far all you have offered is unsubstantiated opinions and a few assertions about what might be possible in some world without capitalism.

    That is in stark contrast to my argument that what we need is more and better capitalism, which luckily the history of the last 120 years shows is exactly what we are getting.

  • troll

    while the European experience developing railroads differed significantly from that in the US the booms and busts here were devastating to the industry’s workers

    let’s not romanticize capitalist development too much

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    I don’t think we are doing that, troll.

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

    Cindy, I’m only trying to diffuse this situation. So no, you don’t have to worry about shedding the vestiges of liberalism in so far as I’m concerned. It’s done.

    But consider a larger point — one of historical development.

    I have to preface by saying that I haven’t written the history of humankind. I wasn’t the author. I have no idea now how you view that history, as evolving, devolving, as cyclical, perhaps all of the above. I happen to think that yes, for the most part it has been evolving with major or minor reversals now and then. Direct slavery, for the most part, has been abolished; and if it wasn’t completely, it’s no longer acceptable to the popular mind. there have been some gains in terms of human rights — people of color, women, gays, the handicapped, even children. Now, I’m not saying this unreservedly because you should know I don’t believe in the legalistic conception of justice. That’s the hallmark of a liberal and it’s only in those terms that he or she can measure progress. I don’t, because the whole concept of rights is but an intermediary measure, too close to “permissiveness” and therefore suggestive of authority which grants you those rights. A permissive society is still a long way from a free society. Still, it’s something.

    But to the point. I don’t know whether capitalism was an improvement over feudalism. I suppose this point can be debatable and that there are many points of view. The fact remains, capitalism replaced feudalism for the most part (though the vestiges of the latter are still recognizable in many contexts). Such has been our history.

    So my point really is, we have learned a thing or two from capitalism, such as it has been. We have learned about mobilization of resources, human or otherwise, about mass production, etcetera. For reasons such as these, I very much doubt whether railroads or the automobile would have been possible if we, the human race, have never experienced capitalism.

    Now of course they are possible, without capitalism, because we’ve learned a whole bunch of things from it, but this is after the fact. Now we can pull community’s resources and do most of those very same things via co-op ventures, where the worker is also a co-owner in terms of management, decision-making, and sharing the fruits of his or her labor. As Anarcissie had pointed out, there is no reason why the i-Pod couldn’t be produced locally rather than by Apple.

    In any case, if you think we could do all those things without the “benefit” of having lived through the capitalist system of production, fine, but I think you’d have to produce a scenario whereby such things would be possible.

  • troll

    oh…ok

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

    What’s your thinking on it?

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

    more and better capitalism, which luckily the history of the last 120 years shows is exactly what we are getting

    The view of the dominant culture. Wonder how ya got that?

  • troll

    hmmm it seems that my 336 intended for 334 could apply to 335 as well

    I generally agree with your 335

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

    In any case, if you think we could do all those things without the “benefit” of having lived through the capitalist system of production, fine, but I think you’d have to produce a scenario whereby such things would be possible.

    Roger,

    Maybe with more conquest and more pain and suffering we could do even more. Go even further. Then the dominating culture could experience even more goodies at the cost of those not in power.

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

    Come to think of it, without kings and queens and princesses, there wouldn’t be all those beautiful castles, what would little girls imagine themselves as then? Probably would take up arms and murder everyone, owing to the brutish nature of children.

  • troll

    …though far be it from me to instruct Cindy – whose feminine indignation is righteous imo – how to direct her anger

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

    Railways are only a great invention to those who can use them. “Oh the trains, how lovely they are.”

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

    #340

    I wasn’t arguing for that, Cindy, you know that. But I get your sarcasm and I know it’s not directed at me.

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

    You are right, it is not directed at you.

    But I cannot be dispassionate. Maybe one day, if I ever find I like people enough to care to make an effort. But for now, people are not really my cup of tea. (Unless they are underdogs.)

    (On another note, Just arrived today, Donna Haraway’s Primate Visions: Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science. Looks good.)

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

    That is, in order to like people, I must generally either not talk to them about important things or forgive their indoctrination. I can only do so up close and personal.

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

    Anyway, Cindy, take a look at Charles Taylor’s little article (linked to in #324, I believe), when you have a chance, of course. Christopher doesn’t think it’s germane, and of course I disagree. We don’t need any more goodies, is the main point.

    It’s an interesting perspective, in any case, from the standpoint of modern conception of personal identity, and how unlimited growth, which is of course the capitalist’s aim thus far — and Christopher is yet to make an argument to the effect this would ever change, never mind why or how — undercuts our already compromised sense of who we are and introduced the question of legitimacy as regards the economic and political systems in place.

    It ties nicely with Anarcissie’s earlier point of how a growing sense of dissatisfaction seeps into popular consciousness, however slowly but surely.

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

    Of course it’s so much more difficult to do online. People hide behind pixels. And yet, I managed to have a decent dialog with zing, and we’re almost agree on some points, I believe. And that’s a great accomplishment, I dare say.

    The thing to do is to press on with our conversations regardless. If people are unwilling to open up to alternative narratives, so be it. Rather than engage them directly, and sometimes it’s impossible not to, especially when they challenge you, let’s just press on with our discussions. And who knows, some of it may trickle down through osmosis.

  • troll

    Rog – I’ll definitely give Taylor a read…been up to me ears in depression era reading when not working

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

    You’ll like the structure of the argument — very levelheaded and down to earth.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Cindy, if you think I am a part of the dominant culture, you really are out of your mind. Why don’t you try thinking for a change instead of trotting out your robotic little comments?

    And while you’re at it, please knock it off with the arrogance; trust me, you really don’t have anything to be arrogant about…

    Roger, it isn’t the capitalist’s aim to have unlimited growth, but how exactly would such a thing undercut our sense of who we are? I can’t see any correlation between economic performance and sense of self.

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

    It’s an extensive argument. I need to re-read the subject article in any case. I’d be in a better position then to provide a synopsis.

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

    Roger,

    You are a good influence on me. Sometime I hope to be able to take your advice.

    Christopher,

    You are far from knowing what is even meant by the term ‘dominant culture’. I have rarely met someone who would carry on from a position of such ignorance as you typically do. It is all well and good to define words any way you like. But some of us are using them in an already agreed upon manner. I wish you would familiarize yourself with their use or go to college or something.

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

    You’re not winning any friends, Cindy, I hope you know that.

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

    We both know Christopher is quite facile in his ability to express himself and near perfect use of English language. “Dominant culture” is a theoretical construct and therefore a part of ordinary language and usage. For Christopher to use it the way you or I do would require that he buys into the theory.

    Well, perhaps he doesn’t want to.

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

    … not a part of …

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

    I don’t like wrestling matches, Roger. Doesn’t mean I can’t understand what one is or comprehend the scoring scheme in the way that people who watch them would. Doesn’t mean I have to buy into their value to do so.

    Christopher acts superior and considers me looney because he doesn’t have experience with the ideas I am discussing. Does that sound friendly to you?

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

    Do I strike you as a masochist? As the saying goes, with friends like that who needs an annoying pile of ants climbing around in your underwear.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Christopher acts superior and considers me looney because he doesn’t have experience with the ideas I am discussing.

    Um, Chris worked in the music industry in the late 70s and early 80s, when that was pretty much all musicians talked about.

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

    Again, to buy into the ideas you’re discussing would mean letting go of his own POV. You’re asking too much. Everyone proceeds at their own pace.

    I know the subject matter under discussion is hard pressing for you and me, but when it comes to people, easy does it.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Nobody has “experience” with the ideas Cindy is discussing, Doc. That’s just the way it is.

  • Jordan Richardson

    but when it comes to people

    As opposed to…?

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

    359 –

    Where did he work when they were discussing capitalism?

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

    Roger,

    I am going to forgive you for lecturing me despite the fact that Chris has been rude to me this entire conversation and made it personal almost from the outset.

    This once, Roger, I will overlook it.

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

    Wasn’t meant that way, Cindy, but I thank you.

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

    You don’t need to dump, Jordan. What is it, have you got an itch?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Cindy, I don’t see why that question’s relevant.

    Your general approach seems to be to dismiss Chris’s point of view on the grounds that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, simply because he hasn’t thought about it as intimately as you have.

    But I don’t need to jump up and down on the edge of a cliff until the soil gives way to know that it would be a bad idea for me to build a house there.

    Why can Chris not have considered capitalism and alternative economic systems as carefully as you have, but just gone in a different direction and come to a different conclusion?

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

    Of course you’re right, Dreadful, generally speaking. Moreover, you’re also right insofar as any particular individual is concerned. But we also know that many people don’t go to great lengths to examine their ideas and belief-systems.

    It is precisely a forum such as this one which provides us all with the opportunity to do so.

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

    367

    I think your question could be likewise posed to Chris regarding my perspective Dr.D.

    Is there some reason in particular, Christopher gets a pass for the same stance toward my views as you are criticizing me for holding toward his? Dr.D? Jordan? Roger? Anyone else?

  • Igor

    ¨Capitalism is a system in which the means of production is owned by a few private parties¨ is the textbook definition.

    ¨Capitalism is organized theft¨ say some critics. And it´s easy to see why. Most of the great European capitalist fortunes were made by thieving raw materials from conquered colonials, and then turning the natives themselves into slaves, sold to the world markets at a profit.

    Most US fortunes were made by stealing land from the indians and marking up the price. Oh, and buying slaves kidnapped from distant colonies to plow the soil and reap the harvests, and, incidentally, to be enwhored to the planters.

    Oh what a glorious history Capitalism has!

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

    Why can Chris not have considered capitalism and alternative economic systems as carefully as you have, but just gone in a different direction and come to a different conclusion?

    I am not sure. I don’t think he has made more than two comments two me this whole discussion that did not contain a personal insult.

    Is this the boys glee club or am I just being ostracized because you disagree with me?

    Your definition of capitalism is inaccurate, Cindy, so naturally your analysis and understanding is too.

    Your understanding of capitalism seems to come straight out of the early 20th Century and ignore so much information that contradicts it as to render your position nothing more than absurd.

    your understanding of the process is still wildly inaccurate and subjective and presumably says more about you than about capitalism.

    It is you that needs to get somewhere on this topic, Cindy. I feel like we are communicating through a time machine; no prizes for working out which of us is living in the past…

    That said, there are people who are entirely subjective and those who aren’t; if you are one of the former, then you will always have difficulty seeing the real nature of things.
    If you’ve never met anybody who isn’t entirely subjective, then you desperately need to broaden your social circle.

    You seem to be having a weird case of liberal guilt rather than actually understanding the nature of capitalism…

    You really need to get out of this negative mindset which is seriously warping your perception.

    …etc, etc on and on…one might wonder if it permissible for ME to have an opinion that is different. So, why can’t I not have considered capitalism and alternative economic systems as carefully as Chris have, but just gone in a different direction and come to a different conclusion?

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

    I need these fuckers for friends Roger? Fuck them and their bandwagon.

  • Jordan Richardson

    troll, just got around to your #277 (which may or may not be renumbered).

    I have made no point about “purging” anyone, so I’m not really sure where you’re getting that from.

    Roger, I’ll dump where I please. I find it curious that you used the term “people” as you did, as though you’re somehow above and beyond “people.” That’s why I asked for your clarification, so it wasn’t a “dump.”

    Cindy, who here has ever said that you can’t have an “opinion that is different?” The objection is to the arrogant notion that ONLY YOU have “experienced” or “studied” the realm of ideas you’re discussing.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Anarcissie, thanks for #319. That helps clarify some things on my end. Appreciate it.

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

    Well, you’re doing your best, then, to try to act like … I ain’t gonna say it. The dump I referred to regarded Cindy. All along, I was trying to diffuse the situation, and then you step in for the purpose of aggravating it? Why? What’s there to be gained?

    As to your question, yes, it was my way of being emphatic. We’re not living in a perfect environment, such as one exemplified by Plato’s Symposium, where discussion of ideas can proceed uninterrupted and unhampered. Unfortunately, and especially online, personalities get in the way.

    Hence the gist of my comment: tread with care.

  • Anarcissie

    I don’t see the point of cataloging the accomplishments of capitalism. The question is not whether it did something in the past but whether it will do what you want in the future.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    one might wonder if it permissible for ME to have an opinion that is different.

    Cindy, no-one but you is saying anyone can’t have an opinion. It’s just that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Your claim, that capitalism is the wrong economic system, is extraordinary because with a few isolated exceptions the entire 21st century world operates under capitalism.

    “You don’t know what you’re talking about” does not constitute extraordinary evidence. It’s a poor rhetorical technique because it attempts to automatically disqualify your opponent from ever having a valid opinion simply because of who he is. In actual fact you have no idea whether he knows what he’s talking about or not – unless you grew up with him or something.

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

    @372

    My use was purely idiomatic.

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

    @376

    About time to get the discussion on track.

  • Jordan Richardson

    My comment to Cindy expressed my frustration with her presentation, as though nobody else could conceivably have studied the issues she speaks of. It’s arrogant and completely incorrect.

    I didn’t know there was any “situation” you were trying to diffuse.

    What there is to be gained is an a reply and further discussion, hopefully. I presume that’s why we all return to the well.

    And thanks for the clarification as to what you meant.

  • Jordan Richardson

    The question is not whether it did something in the past but whether it will do what you want in the future.

    Well, maybe. I think the real question is what we want in the future.

    It’s pretty evident that capitalism as it is now isn’t serving the majority of people on this earth, but it’s also pretty evident that this isn’t really capitalism as per its theoretical specifications at least.

    A system of any kind is only as good as the people running it and right now the people running this system are pretty shitty.

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

    Dr.D,

    Cindy, no-one but you is saying anyone can’t have an opinion.

    When did I say someone can’t have an opinion?

    I merely made a retort to Chris after being fed up by his continued personal insults My comment could be construed to mean he does not know what he is talking about. Something he told me in nearly every comment he made.

  • Anarcissie

    381 – Jordan Richardson Aug 27, 2011 at 4:47 pm:

    “The question is not whether it did something in the past but whether it will do what you want in the future.”

    ‘Well, maybe. I think the real question is what we want in the future.’

    Yes, that’s certainly one of the implied subquestions. Assuming there is a ‘we’ in play. Maybe everyone wants different things. Luckily the common second person pronoun in English is ambiguous.

    I once had an online conversation with a sort of Marxist who doubted that my anarchist ideas would bring about a desirable outcome. ‘If your ideas were followed,’ he said, ‘the world would look like a big shabby hippie commune.’

    I agreed this might well be so.

    ‘Well,’ he said, ‘I like flying to Europe. Big shabby hippie communes can’t build big airplanes or run airlines. For that you need states. Marxist states, of course.’

    ‘But the state is based on violence,’ I retorted anarchistically, ‘so you must determine how many lives a big airplane is worth.’

    We could not come to agreement on this number. I thereafter called it ‘the big airplane problem.’

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

    @381

    The spat with Christopher. It was going nowhere.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Well there’s the rub: everyone does want different things. Some people even want capitalism.

    Although I don’t mind big shabby hippie communes, personally.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Gotcha, Roger.

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

    Anarcissie, the story teller.

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

    (Here is something that may be of interest to you, Roger. I want to post it before I close the window it’s in. I just happened across it. Foucault on Freedom and Truth by Charles Taylor.)

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

    They don’t have to be shabby. Although speaking personally, I’d miss the argument.

    Can you imagine all people of the same mind? Kind of boring. That’s why I could never subscribe to the biblical image of Heaven.

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

    I’ve got that. It’s part of Taylor’s book, Philosophical Papers 2 and I have the volume.

    It’s a fairly incise critique.

  • troll

    guffaw

    Jordan #373 – if you can’t follow the logic of my use of “‘purging'” in #277 based on your use of “chastising” and “categorizing” in your #268…well then I guess you had to be there

    trust me – my use was sympathetic

  • Jordan Richardson

    I’ll take your word for it. :)

  • Anarcissie

    385 – Jordan Richardson Aug 27, 2011 at 5:22 pm:

    Well there’s the rub: everyone does want different things. Some people even want capitalism.

    Although I don’t mind big shabby hippie communes, personally.

    One of the ironies the poor anarchist must endure is that many people don’t want freedom (except in a very limited sense), do want masters. Often, they want to get in on the mastery.

    What to do? Clearly, you can’t compel people to be free. You must let them have their masters. About the best you can do is tell them about something different, or better yet, show it in material action. This is assuming their particular masters permit it. Otherwise, there may have to be a bit of struggle. The masters, often being practitioners of statecraft, may employ violence and lies; we will employ subversion, sabotage, seduction. We will be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Mostly. But maybe the masters will be genteel liberals. You never know until the police knock at your door — or don’t. Or you’re mysteriously fired from your job. Et cetera.

    Thus, if my ideas actually materialized, at least for awhile we would not see one big shabby hippie commune worldwide but a variety of communities, some of which were shabby hippie communes and some which were not. My Marxist interlocutor could probably still find some capitalism fans to fly him to Paris to attend conferences on the Revolution.

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

    Being able to fly to Paris, for any reason whatever, almost makes you want to be a capitalist.

    Just kidding, I hope.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    As I have been sleeping whilst Cindy has been commenting, here is my catch up comment.

    It started with you making the unsupported assertion that capitalism is evil. I’ve no idea how you came to such a view but it isn’t one I share.

    When I pointed that out and said that in my view it is just a process that can be put to good or bad use, you came up with a couple of fairly clichéd examples of poor usage.

    When I pointed out that poor implementation doesn’t mean that capitalism is inherently evil, you then tried to argue that it was exploitation as in your comment #278. Here is an extract:

    As a capitalist my job is to convince you that you need to buy things from me. My job is also to sell things and make a profit. I need to endlessly sell more and more. These qualities promote the following conditions:

    1) The waste of resources and the destruction of the natural environment.

    2) The manipulation of the ‘consumer’ in order to get her to buy more.

    3) The adoption of a non-empathetic attitude. How can I manipulate people if I empathize with them?

    Naturally and I think, not unreasonably, I pointed out that it can be but it is not inevitably so.

    In particular, as a capitalist your primary role is to provide goods or services that other people want or need.

    Of course someone doing that wants to make a profit. As capitalism allows people to transmute their work into money, which is stored energy, why would they want to end up with less? That doesn’t mean that a capitalistic process is necessarily exploitative though. It can be, but doesn’t have to be. If it always was, then your original argument that capitalism is evil MIGHT have a point.

    Back to your argument, capitalism doesn’t require the “waste of resources” or the “destruction of the environment”. Again, that would be an example of poor implementation. Nor, as the salutary story of Easter Island shows us, is the destruction of the environment exclusively capitalistic. It is universally stupid and short-sighted though.

    Nor does capitalism require the “manipulation of the ‘consumer'”; I’m not saying that doesn’t happen, but it is not an inherent feature of the process.

    Similarly, there is also no need for a non-empathetic attitude. Indeed, I would argue that a clever capitalist would actually want to empathise with their notional consumer so as to be better able to fulfil their needs.

    You then tried to pass off my remarks that capitalism does not require exploitation by glibly saying that “when it doesn’t do that, I will reconsider”. As it clearly doesn’t require it, why are you not actually reconsidering? It doesn’t seem unreasonable to conclude that you don’t actually want to re-examine your own preconceptions, that you are committed to an analysis which is at best partial and therefore necessarily inaccurate.

    You then resorted to what I can only see as some kind of intellectual hysteria, wildly dragging in things like slavery and rape in an attempt to justify your position.

    When that didn’t work, YOU started with personal attacks, saying my views make you sick and that I am part of the dominant culture, when you in fact no next to nothing about me, nor have you actually taken time out from your mock indignation to find anything out; all you did was attack somebody who pointed out the fallacies of your rigid and flawed dogma.

    Finally, in your #345, you admit that you don’t really like people very much, which is probably the source of your misdirected rage, which you appear to be attempting to justify by blaming it all on that evil capitalism! Hilarious stuff, it it wasn’t actually the product of some fairly awful conceit and hatred.

    But it’s okay, you can always patronise the very people you consider exploited “I must generally either not talk to them about important things or forgive their indoctrination”.

    The reality is that the very underdogs you so condescendingly claim to champion would almost all disagree with your position…

    You also turn your condescension back to me, claiming, without any actual knowledge, that I don’t understand certain terms or that I should go to college.

    Apparently the concept of going to a college that is the product of the very capitalism that you depict as evil does not seem at the very least ironic to you.

    It makes me laugh that you accuse ME of acting superior when I am clearly paying attention to what you are saying and engaging with you by pointing out that what you describe and the actual reality are not the same thing; if only I would accept your flimsy arguments everything would be alright!

    Discussing capitalism can be a useful exercise but, if the discussion is going to start from the premise that it is evil, the conversation can never be useful, because it is trying to shoehorn a concept into a position it doesn’t fit.

    Even your chum Roger tried to reason with you, to which you haughtily replied “I am going to forgive you for lecturing me despite the fact that Chris has been rude to me this entire conversation and made it personal almost from the outset.

    This once, Roger, I will overlook it.”

    How very decent of you!

    Finally you try to make the case that my rebuttals of your position are personal attacks, when they are clearly not. To say that your assertions and understandings are inaccurate is not a personal attack by any definition.

    Finally you retort to Roger “I need these fuckers for friends Roger? Fuck them and their bandwagon”, before storming off in a huff for an hour!

    Eloquent and mature indeed.

    I stand by my view that capitalism is not inherently evil, although it can be put to both positive and negative uses, a fact that is true of almost any process.

    Nothing you have said has supported your position at all, so presumably you don’t actually have anything to say that could possibly support it…

  • troll

    Chris – your argument is based on the claim that the using statement, “Steam engines are evil.” is (to use your word) absurd. Wouldn’t that be true of all anthropomorphic word use then?

    Granted much of natural language is technically absurd but…

    btw – you realize that your denial in #258 was the first coupling of ‘evil’ and ‘capitalism’ on this thread right?

    stupidity is evil
    this argument is stupid
    this argument is evil

  • t

    (…using the statement)

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

    troll,

    Not to change the subject, but the following interview was just on air (NPR, Weekend Edition): “Can Evolution Breed Better Communities?”

    The teaser:

    Evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson believes that evolutionary principles work not just at the genetic level, but also on the community level. He contends that evolution is among the factors that drive community involvement. Guest host John Ydstie speaks to Sloan Wilson about his new book, The Neighborhood Project: Using Evolution to Improve My City, One Block at a Time.

    It was short and succinct, enumerating five cardinal points or so of the study. The audio will be available approx. 12:00 p.m. ET. Thus far, I can’t seem to get hold of the transcript.

    There should be more studies of this kind.

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

    And here’s the book’s review.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    troll, I wouldn’t like to make a universal statement that all anthropomorphic word use would fall into that definition; I’m not big on universal statements cos the universe is a big place and sooner or later it will throw up an exception!

    I haven’t been through every single comment on this thread so I’ve no idea if I was the first to couple the two words, but what I said back then was this:

    “Despite the problems caused by its poor implementation in some instances, capitalism is not inherently evil; that would be like saying a steam engine or chemistry is evil, which is clearly absurd.”

    I fail to see anything wrong with that statement and remain happy to stand by it.

    Roger, all living things evolve, so why wouldn’t a community? Evolution is an inherent characteristic of life…

  • troll

    “capitalism is not inherently evil” is a universal statement

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

    troll,

    Perhaps logical analysis (in the Aristotelian sense) is not appropriate here.

    Could a case could be made, from Wittgensteinian perspective, that “capitalism is evil” (or its negation) is nonsense (in the descriptive sense)?

    It mightn’t be nonsense in the emotive sense, but here perhaps different rules apply.

  • troll

    well I do propose that Chris’ argument is a nonsense in the descriptive sense

  • Anarcissie

    Capitalism has certain characteristics which some people might find undesirable, like a class system, privilege, commodity fetishism, and so on. They might express their sense of this undesirability by saying ‘evil’.

    I don’t think comparing capitalism to the steam engine or chemistry is apt, because capitalism is a total system. There are things which are not part of a steam engine, and forms of thought which are not chemistry, but we are all entirely embedded in the political and economic framework of capitalism (and its political system, liberalism). It’s like God, stuck with itself because it has no outside.

    Evil? ‘Wake up in Moloch!’ howled Allen Ginsberg. In my wayward youth that told me someone else felt the way about it I did, although all responsible parties said it was good and that I should get with the program.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    “”capitalism is not inherently evil” is a universal statement” No, I don’t think it is, troll.

    You appear to be being argumentative for the sake of it, which is at least consistent with your name!

    Can you actually put any substance to your assertion though?

    Anarcissie, I don’t understand your point that capitalism is a total system. There are things which are not part of capitalism. Surely only life is a total system?

  • troll

    so you’ll allow the possibility of a capitalism that is inherently evil — that’s the one Cindy is raging at

    I already gave you substance Chris – my objection to capitalism doesn’t rely on the concept of evil but rather on the devastating results of economic crises that are inherent to capitalism

  • Clavos

    Surely only life is a total system?

    Even that statement is too limited; there are inorganic, nonliving elements which are part of “the system” (which includes life), as well.

    Perhaps the universe is the only “total system.”

    And who knows? Perhaps some day we’ll discover that even the universe (as currently defined) is merely a part of something even larger which encompasses it.

  • troll

    what I want to know Chris is what leads you to the belief that a system of capitalism free of the ‘evils’ of today’s instantiation is possible?

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

    “As currently defined” is just the kind of qualification that’s expected of a cultivated speaker of English language.

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

    @408

    I’m addressing this very question right now, troll, so stay tuned.

  • Igor

    It´s only a paucity of imagination and lack of effort that leads us to think the only alternatives are capitalism and socialism. The two aren´t even a dichotomy, not being exhaustive and exclusive. They´re hardly even antithetical, resembling fraternal twins more than anything else.

    Seems to me we have to abandon more precepts and try harder.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    troll, as I believe I have said about 41 billion times, it is entirely possible to have evil implementations of capitalism, but Cindy didn’t say that, she said “capitalism is evil”.

    I don’t think it is possible to avoid economic crises or even desirable. Life isn’t a smooth linear process and it is only to be expected that it has its ups and downs, so I don’t share your objection. To me it would be like objecting to the weather or breathing.

    Clavos, that is entirely possible of course!

    troll revisited, you ask “what leads you to the belief that a system of capitalism free of the ‘evils’ of today’s instantiation is possible?”

    I don’t think there is a single system of capitalism as such; surely a better description is that there are many instantiations of it, all interwoven and intermingled, just as people’s lives aren’t single instantiations unless lived in total isolation, which is rare.

  • troll

    I will not argue with you over the ‘desirability’ of economic crises or how ‘natural’ they are any more than I will with Kenn

    needless to say so I’m saying it – I disagree with you both

    and introducing complexity – which I agree is characteristic of modern economies – doesn’t answer my question

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    troll, I didn’t say that economic crises were desirable, I just said they were inevitable, just like there is good weather and bad weather. Would you seek to eliminate hurricanes?

    Life isn’t linear, so why would the economy be?

    About the best answer I can offer you is that just as there are people who do good things and bad things, so is it possible to have instances of good capitalistic systems and bad ones.

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

    Troll,

    Just to whet your appetite of a soon-forthcoming analysis, capitalist-like forms of production — not in terms of the organization of production but such elements as pulling together of resources and more or less mass-production capabilities — will definitely continue in the envisaged future, but they won’t be detrimental or contradictory to the ideal of a non-exploitative world. I have no idea how Chris envisages the future of capitalism, but in the limited sense employed here, he may have a larger point.

    Just saying …

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

    That’s what we’re laboring on, Igor. Stay tuned.

  • troll

    quite right Chris I should have said “desirability of avoiding” in my #413 though I had did have the nature angle covered

    and geeze – we were having enough trouble with ‘evil’ and you’re bringing in ‘good’ and ‘bad’?

  • troll

    Rog – there is a big difference between you capitalist-like processes and capitalist processes if the former don’t entail exploitation

    in fact you’ve envisaged a future without capitalism

    I suppose we could use ‘capitalism’ in whatever way Chris would like though

  • Anarcissie

    By ‘total system’ I refer to political and economic life, in other words, social processes. If you want to get picky, you can point out hunter-gatherers living in remote forests, I suppose. It seems unlikely that anyone here has lived that way for any length of time, or is likely to.

    The capitalist-socialist dichotomy is the question of who owns and controls (and benefits from) the means of production. There are certainly other possibilities, like absolute monarchy or fascism, but I don’t think most of the people likely to be in this discussion are going to be very interested in them. It is true that capitalism and socialism sometimes appear to be, maybe not twins, but siblings, but I think this has to do with the requirements of industrial life, where most production is social and involves expensive, complicated machinery. The class issue remains to distinguish one from the other.

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

    Of course there is, and I believe I make that crystal clear in the subject comment, do I not? I’m referring merely to vestiges of capitalism’s certain features, the things we’ve learned from it and can therefore put to good use in the New World.

    If Chris has anything like that in mind, then he is on the right track; if not, then we part company.

  • troll

    I don’t think that anyone here is arguing that whatever system follows capitalism will not contain features from its past…dialectics dogma 101

    Chris has suggested the approach of gaining control of $ and supporting change through micro-loans – Jordan has seconded this

    I’ve asked before what products he is basing his initial $ accumulation on with no response – perhaps he missed the question or maybe it’s a mystery

    is a no interest loan given by Kiva good capitalism? because it exists in the age of capitalism or why?

  • troll

    …tax advantages?

  • troll

    …blue sky?

  • Jordan Richardson

    I can tell you that I haven’t accumulated anything with my loans to Kiva. The initial donation is repaid and re-loaned to the next entrepreneur.

    I’m not sure how Chris’s model looks or particularly how/if Kiva accumulates anything, so I can’t answer to that.

    As to if it’s “good” capitalism, I’m not sure and I’m not even sure I care. The micro-loans have helped people get off their feet in otherwise impossible circumstances and that, to me, is a pretty nice thing.

    The model of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, for instance, is interesting.

    There are also cooperative banks, by the way, that can flow into this area. Canada has one, the Desjardins Group, and there are many throughout Europe.

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

    The following supplements an earlier account of historical development (#335):

    (1) Prior to the advent of feudalism, (direct) slavery was the main engine of economic growth/development. Which isn’t to say, as per Wolff’s lectures on Class Structure as per Marx (see the link at the end) that other modes of production (in terms of organization of production process, product distribution, etc.) weren’t in abundance as well and made use of. We see the family, for instance, or rather, as in the ancient Rome, pater familias, along with the elaborate system of clientship/patronage — an extended concept, one might like to argue, but in my thinking, the primary one (because of economic considerations) from which what’s now referred to as a “nuclear family” has evolved. So “pater familias (along with the system of clientship)” is in a manner of speaking a precursor of feudalism (but not feudalism yet because it’s not the dominant economic mode).

    Likewise with poets, artists and artisans. I would assume the first two “professions” came first, the third afterwards. I’m speaking in the economic sense as understood today [as contrasted with the ancient use: “From Latin oeconomia from Ancient Greek ????????? (oikonomia, “management of a household, administration”) from ????? (oikos, “house”) + ????? (nomos, “law”). The first recorded sense of the word “economy”, found in a work possibly composed in 1440, is “the management of economic affairs”, in this case, of a monastery” Wiktionary],not necessarily in terms of absolute chronology. One would think that pots, not vases, were made for (home?) use prior to poems or works of art — but even this claim is doubtful. In any case, poets (Pindar, e.g.) and sculptors ((Phidias) were part of an extensive patronage system first by the state (The Golden Age of Pericles) and further down by wealthy rulers (e.g., the Medicis of Florence). Patronage is still in effect to a limited extent (National Endownment for the Arts), but for all intents and purposes, it ceased to be a dominant mode of relations (involving artist and society) with the advent of the marketplace. (See, for example, Shelley’s protest in A Defense of Poetry: if poets were supposed to be “the unacknowledged legislators of the world,” how can they be censored, subject to profit-making, and the vulgaries of vulgar and uncultivated taste? Source: Raymond Williams, Culture and Society.)

    Without impinging now on Shelley’s romantic vision of poetry and the arts as products of culture, they’re also economic products, I should say, which is the sense under consideration. So here, too, in the patronage of the arts system, going back as far as the antiquity, we see on full display all the elements of feudal relations long before feudalism was even conceived or thought of as an economic system, let alone a dominant economic system.

    The same with artisans who, after the manner of the artists, started making vases (pots with ornamentation), i.e., decorative objects, not for personal or home use this time but for more or less general consumption. Initially, perhaps the artisants may have been subject to the same patronage system as the artists were. In time, however, the artisans were free to sell or barter their wares in the marketplace (agora). They were the prototypes of what we call today “self-employed” persons, or earlier yet, those who engaged in the cottage industries in the pre-Industial England; (The status of the artisan during the Middle Ages had changed, but more on that later); and to the extent that there was no class structure to speak of, and therefore no exploitation with respect to the production process itself (key concept in Marxian analysis of class)– see table — the organization of production was not the little capitalist, as Mr. Christopher Rose would have it, but what Wolff calls “ancient.” It would have been communal if, say, husband and wife, or two artisans, for that matter, embarked on a joint enterprise/venture of making vases and sharing the proceeds (a much more appropriate term in such contexts than “profit”) Also note that the terms “enterprise” or “venture,” though perhaps imported from a typically capitalist setting, need not necessarily entail the existence of capitalist relations (or the usual capitalist connotation) when it comes to the organization of production, as in the above cited example they obviously don’t.

    In any case, feudal, modern, even communal relations, insofar as production processes are concerned, were clearly manifest even in the ancient economies, which economies featured slavery as the main economic engine.

    (2) Feudalism can be regarded as an improvement over (“modification[of]” is a more neutral term) the system of direct slavery. The serf-lord of the manor/tenant-landlord/vassal-overlord relations were considerably less harsh (more humane?). The sef was no longer just an object. He was given a plot of land to produce for the lord, a hut or cottage to sleep it, the tools, in exchange for plowing the land on his own behalf one or two days a week at most. In addition to the purely economic relations, personal relations were introduced to underpin and reinforce the former — feudalism’s central feature (except for isolated instances, house slaves, etc., the relationship between the slave and the master was purely economic; the slave was of value only for what he produced; he or she was but a tool), and loyalty the glue. It was a two-way loyalty, in a way: the lord offered protection, the land (and a place of abode) and the tools to till it, as well as, indirectly, the means of subsistence since the serf could work the land on his own behalf, in exchange for the serf’s (oath?) of loyalty to remain bonded to the lord and the existing arrangements.

    I’d like to think that the main impetus which led to the inauguration of feudalism as a system of social relations consisted of economic considerations primarily; but those relations, we know, weren’t restricted to the economic sphere and (eventually?) permeated and circumscribed the entire fabric of the feudal society. A vassal-overlord network of relations may be regarded as falling outside the strictly economic sphere but even so, only in a sense. Vassals, too, were offered lands (a fief) in exchange for an oath of allegiance to come to the aid of the overlord if and when need be. The question of the origins — what came first, the economic or the sociopolitical — needn’t concern us, however. For all intents and purposes, and regardless of origins, the feudal system of relations pertained mostly to economic relations as their proper object. Even the vassal-overlord relations may be said to be economic in essense, if only by extension. The vassals were part of the overall network designed to keep the feudal economic arrangements in place: they were the guardians.

    As to other forms of economic activity during the feudal era, activities not directly related to agriculture but more so to industry (such a mining, for example) or workmanship, we see that too. So it would be mistake, for example, to argue that feudalism has done away with (direct) slavery. It didn’t. Nor did it completely do away with the artisan acting independently, as it were, whether as “self-employed” or in concert (in the senses spoken of earlier). We also see patronage of the arts, as the Medicis of Florence clearly demonstrate, not to mention commercial activity in the Italian city-states in such areas as ship- building, and trade ventures. One is tempted to argue that those ventures, too, were for the most part, financed and sponsored through a system of patronage. It’s possible, however, to see them as important precursors, if not of capitalism then of mercantilism. So the point again is that although the feudal system of relations forms the dominant set of economic and social relations, other forms of organizing economic activity are in abundance as well (as was the case for what was essentially ancient, slavery-based economies.)

    [The role of the artisan, and this is a side note, undergoes interesting changes. Though I alluded to the possibility of artisans working independently, most of them ended up forming guilds (again, the precursors of modern-day unions.) But the guild is a feudal institution through and through, again based on an oath of loyalty, a quid pro quo, of trading one thing (independence, mainly) for another. We see the same development in the formation of collegia (e.g., a students’ guild vis-à-vis the instructors, the masters). Only with the development of the cottage industries in the pre-industrial England do we begin to see the artisan freeing herself from the shackles of the guild. That was short-lived, and the advent of industrialization had changed that. Once again, and perhaps even more so, the guilds, the modern-day trade unions, were quickly reinstated. They represented the lesser of the two evils to help combat worker’s exploitation. It’s important to recognize, however, that such modern-day , common terms as “workers’ solidarity,” “collective bargaining,” etc. — terms, in short, which appear to bear their full meaning only in the context of capitalism fully-developed and proper — are in origin, if not in essence, thoroughly feudal in make up.]

    To conclude this analysis, both the ancient (slavery-based) and feudal economies, insofar as the dominant mode of organizing production is concerned, were economies based on exploitation. The “personal” touch, if we can call it that, which feudalism introduced to economic relations may have served to sugarcoat the bitter pill, but it did not eliminate exploitation. Needless to say, the advent and subsequent development of capitalism proper took the idea of exploitation to another level, but more on that later.

    In case it’s not readily apparent, the term “exploitation” is being used here in the Marxian sense, which Marx derived from his Labor Surplus Theory (of value). See “Marxian Class-Analysis, Theory and Practice” for a shorter albeit static analysis. This analysis is meant to alleviate those shortcomings.

  • troll

    …perhaps their impact on the velocity of currency circulation then

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

    is a no interest loan given by Kiva good capitalism? because it exists in the age of capitalism or why?

    It is great capitalism. The loan is not actually no interest to the borrower. The no interest only applies to the provider of the funds (that is the provider gets no interest). So, a bank or other institution can gouge the borrower with exorbitant rates based on money provided for free by helpful people.

    I do Kiva, and I only do Kiva because a loan even a a high rate is probably better than starving.

    It is not a just, imo. It is great for capitalists though. Capital-free capitalism.

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

    It is not just, imo. (no “a”)

  • troll

    ah – I see how it works…thanks

  • Anarcissie

    So, why not set up an organization that does give small zero-interest loans?

  • troll

    I was thinking the same…

  • Anarcissie

    One might say capital-free capitalism is represented by finance capitalism, where a class of capitalists emerges who are in effect parasitic on other capitalists such as manufacturers — people whose mundane enterprises actually make things or perform generally useful services.

  • Costello

    So the program is not just yet you participate anyway. Might want to take that into consideration when chastising others as you frequently do

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

    It’s a perversion, Anarcissie, or to put it more mildly, tongue-in-cheek.

    I really don’t see the point of glorifying finance. I fail to see the humor or the punchline, whichever was intended.

    Apologize for being serious. Can’t help it, I guess.

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

    @433

    And the complaint is against whom, Costello?
    Understand, I want to keep you as a friend!

  • Jordan Richardson

    why not set up an organization that does give small zero-interest loans?

    Let’s do it.

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

    Indeed Costello, I should. And I believe I do.

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

    I will give time to such a project. I second (or third or forth the motion).

  • troll

    …just opened a $100 cookie-jar account for this project

    I suggest that we set up an online open venue for the purpose of discussing organization…perhaps as simple as a bc thread

  • Jordan Richardson

    Here is the “How Kiva works” page (longer version). This could be a good start as to what to do and what not to do.

    And here is a page that lists Kiva’s field partners (those who disburse the loans on the ground). Theoretically, as Cindy pointed out, there can be gouging in this regard, but a lot of these microfinance field partners have good reputations and may be worth investigating further in order to discover some of them.

    Finally, here is Kiva’s page on interest rates, microfinance and so forth. This is probably as good a place as any to start determining factors associated to sustainability (that will be a BIG issue with zero-interest loans) and so forth.

    I am prepared to assist in the financial area if the organization appears to be something tangible and practical, so consider my proverbial hat in the ring.

  • troll

    probably should spend some time looking at existing gifting networks for ideas as well

    are we all on the same page that the loans would be used to fund production projects?

  • Jordan Richardson

    What are some examples of gifting networks that I could look into?

  • troll

    I’m only experienced with one small local group that ended to be somewhat fraudulent — I’ll spend some time looking around

  • troll

    a quick google shows problems in the ‘gifting’ world…there must be one or two legit ones — I’ll keep lookin’

    maybe one of the others has more info

  • troll

    let me amend my 441 –

    probably should spend some time looking at existing gifting networks for ideas on what not to do if we want to avoid being discredited by controversy

  • troll

    perhaps beginning very simply –

    everyone who has funds for loans set up his/her lending account keeping funds decentralized

    figure out how to chose a project to lend to

    set up an account with the borrower that participants can send funds to and a repayment account

    end of repayment period – disburse original loan amounts back to lenders

    shouldn’t be too hard to set something like this up with minimal overhead

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

    Troll, Cindy, Anarcissie

    Here’s the transcript of the NPR show as per #398 & 399:

    “Can Evolution Breed Better Communities?”

    And here’s a link to a 7 minute audio.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Some hypotheticals:

    How do we cover things if the loan defaults? Because there’s no interest, all payments will be on the principal so how do we absorb that risk?

    If I want to donate money to someone, I can do that a number of different ways. A loan is something different and the idea is that the same money, small amounts chipped in by a large number of people, could continue to be cycled through the organization to help a considerable number of people.

    With several online banking options, it’s not too hard to set up the various accounts – IF we’re lending to a borrower with access. Access is critical, which is where Kiva’s field partners come in. So we need to define our field. What geographical area would we lend to? If we’re loaning to someone in Africa, what oversight would we be capable of as a completely independent and informal organization?

    What kinds of contracts would we draw up with borrowers?

    How would we absorb the overhead, minimal as it may be?

  • Anarcissie

    Note that you can find poor people fairly close to home, wherever your home is. However, whatever your target, it is crucial to do some ‘market research’, that is, find out what exactly is needed and wanted. This is easier when you can get to know the neighborhood directly.

    One of the more hippie/leftie sorts of credit union might be able to help out with the bureaucratic requirements, which are likely to be considerable. Their payoff would be getting to hold the money, getting new people in the store, and doing good.

    Even among the very poor, you may find some existing self-help organizations.

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

    Here’s one version of macro-finance, a segment from an old NPR show I listened to a while back — “Helping the Poor for Profit”.

    It’s not a very complimentary picture, interest rates ranging from 25 to 35 percent.

  • cindy

    The organization in India that Jordan . mentioned has some good info. It is the fellow who started the whole thing. The borrowers actually own and run the bank(?), they do not accept collateral nor sign contracts as no legal recourse is wanted. That is they are not planning to take defaulters to court. Rather the “community of members” offer support to eachother. There is relatively little default.

  • cindy

    I will post a link later when I get home.

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

    @451

    That’s the way to do it.

  • Jordan Richardson

    It’s interesting to note that the Grameen Bank began as “a research project to examine the possibility of designing a credit delivery system to provide banking services targeted to the rural poor.”

    Six percent of the bank is owned by the Bangladesh government and the bank, in 2006, had over $86 million in operating income. It also had support from from the Bangladesh Bank.

    The no contracts thing is a nice ideal, but the Grameen Bank does supplement this by requiring buyers to save small amounts of money on a regular basis in various funds (like group funds, etc.). This acts as an insurance policy.

    There’s also subsidization to take into account, as this PDF explores:

    “The evidence helps to explain why institutions like Grameen have not just sprung up on their own as private commercial ventures, and it underscores the value of openly addressing the costs and benefits of subsidization. The paper also describes recent difficulties in maintaining high repayment rates.”

    In recent years, the bank has moved away from subsidies and to resources from the market.

    So while the Grameen model may be ideal and it may be nice to function without contracts and the like, I’d question whether an organization of our size and clout could command such a thing without subsidies and operational capital.

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

    Any takers on “The Neighborhood Project”?

    Going once, going twice …

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

    (Just a note: I am in, and I can give a few bucks and a little time. What I can’t be is one of the engines. I have a long train of my own to pull and it never, ever runs on schedule. So, I am always behind and some days (like today) I am facing mountains of work using only exhaustion for fuel. I will have to participate from the rear seat. :-)

    Here is the link.

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

    @455

    I guess no one is biting.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I don’t really know what you’re talking about in #455…

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

    The reference is made to links in #447.

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

    Oh, I thought it might be Roger. Thanks for providing an audio link. I will listen to it later and reply. Now I am taking my caboose to a dental appointment. (lol!)

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

    Oh, three thoughts before I go.

    One, The Neighborhood Project sounds like a good name. Is that already the name of something, Roger? It could grow to include revamping of living spaces through local community volunteers, etc. It generates a lot of ideas for me.

    Two, while not in any way shape or form discouraging our thinking things through or using other peoples’ ideas. I hope we can view this as a small experiment. That will alleviate discomfort and also allow us ‘to go where no man has gone before’. Because we are doing something not done before, we may need to learn new things and modify what we do based on our actual practice. We may wish to start with one or two loans and learn from there. In any case, that way we don’t have to worry about the pressure of failure. Small experiment sounds like something we can handle. Thoughts?

    Three, I think Kiva’s way of sustainability might be worth considering, Jordan. They exist on donations and volunteers alone.

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

    Before you act, Cindy, remember this: Think globally but act locally!

    Get back to me re: #460 after you’ve given it some thought. It’s more relevant than you presently imagine, and it has a direct bearing on “your little experiment.”

  • Anarcissie

    I read the ‘Neighborhood Project’ PDF and I don’t see any evolution in it. To me, evolution usually means something like Evolution with a big ‘E’, that is, the evolution of living beings through random mutation and natural selection, although the particular instance may be metaphorical. In the story given, nothing and nobody evolves in that sense.

    It’s been known for some time that strong social bonds enhance group functionality, of course. Except for the autonomy part, military organizations, at least the effective ones, practice most of the described program.

    As it happens I am attempting to deal with a situation of conflict between groups of activists from as self-effacing a position on the periphery as I can manage, and some of the principles described simply can’t be used — in this case, ‘fast, fair conflict resolution’ and ‘graduated sanctions’. I don’t know where the author has been but anyone with experience with families, businesses, religious groups, political organizations, or stamp clubs knows that the only way to guarantee ‘fast conflict resolution’ is to either happen to have all parties to the conflict feel a very urgent need to resolve it, or to exert some kind of overpowering force or authority upon the parties. Otherwise the conflict will go on until the conflicting parties get tired of it or one is wiped out, and that can be a long, long time. As for ‘fair’, ‘fair’ is in the eye of the beholder; the parties to a forcibly resolved conflict will seldom believe the resolution is fair even if they find it tolerable. In short, strong top-down governance is specified in the article. But top-down governance is not the way Evolution works, and in any case it is not always available or desirable.

    My interest in selfhood with regard to its appearance through Evolutionary processes was excited precisely by the lack of this top-downness, indeed, of any visible ‘top’. The larger self was not already there to call the microorganisms to order, and yet it arose or fell out of things. Selfhood, it seems, is somehow implicit in the microorganisms — indeed, in the atoms making them up.

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

    You’re right, Anarcissie, in that Sloan’s use is for the most part metaphorical, perhaps even rhetorical as well, for he does speak of science and engineering, and of practical applications of science as something people are likely to accept. So I’m less concerned than you seem to be with verifiability of Sloan’s “thesis” per se — vis., whether “community building,” as undertaken by his study, is an instance of some evolutionary principle(s) at work on a communal level. I find the study interesting, however, and we should have more of them.

    If there’s one important thing to derive from this, community activism must start on the local level, I have no doubts about it. So at least in one respect, Sloan’s project serves as an important counter-example, in my mind, to the “micro-finance” ideas that were kicked about earlier in the thread. My reason: just as we can’t fully and emotionally relate to the horrors of war, let’s say, in distant lands when viewed from the comfort of our living rooms on plasma TVs, or the hunger in Somalia, or abject poverty in Philippines, by the same token, our efforts to help alleviate human misery at a distance — for humanitarian reasons, no doubt — are also bound to fall short (if only for the fact we have no control) and fail to do the most good. The proper theater of action must be one’s local community, I must reiterate.

    Two more points. You’re speaking of conflict between groups of activists. Do you mean on the local level? If so, if problems of the sort cannot be resolved on the local level, what hope can there be for being able to do anything at all on a somewhat larger scale?

    Second, I don’t see Wilson’s project as (necessarily) reflecting a “from-top-down” type of structure. What I am beginning to see, however, is that some of the elements Wilson enumerates as necessary to ensure the group’s cohesiveness may well have to be implemented, if only temporarily, during the formative stages. So there is a certain dichotomy here between a community in its beginning stages and a full-fledged anarchistic community which serves as an ideal type, or a learning curve, if you like, a progress. An ideal anarchistic community cannot possibly materialize out of the blue but must evolve from humbler and imperfect beginnings.

    I’m going to post additional links to Sloan’s work for your and other people’s benefit in order to stimulate a more general discussion.

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

    Community Activism and Darwin — another podcast on the Brian Lehrer show.

    book review in Science News

    Evolution for Everyone — David Sloan Wilson comments on his own work.

    A preview from Google books.

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

    Roger,

    I think we are social animals. That we would be geared to act so seems a given. Yes, that is evolutionary. I agree. But that is not what this fellow seems to be about. He seems to consider it some revolutionary idea–some people are highly ‘pro-social’ and some are not? Come again?

    The better explanation, for me, is that domination has taken us so far into antisocial mindset and behavior that it seems ‘special’ to see people who actually act in the interest of our species.

    I am very cautious when claims of evolution applied. See the mess that is that is ‘evolutionary psychology’ and also, Michael Shermer, founder of Skeptic magazine,’s claim that capitalism is ‘evolutionary’.

    Actually, I think he is average on much of what he says except where he suggests that direct participation in decisions is a good thing. His conditionals don’t ring true for me. It just seems like his own narrative. Nothing more.

    What do you like about him that I am missing?

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

    Oh, I see you’ve replied to Anarcissie and maybe shed some light. BBL to read that.

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

    I’m glad you’re on board, Cindy. Anytime. I’m really excited about this project, great many ideas are forming — subject of my next article.

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

    But capitalism was an evolution of sorts, it evolved from feudalism. Read my #425 and tell me where your disagree.

    I haven’t gotten to that part yet, but I’m certain you can follow the train of thought.

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

    @469

    I’m speaking metaphorically of course, without carrying the baggage — whether for good or for bad — of Darwin’s theory.

    I”To evolve” was a fairly commonplace term of English language long before Darwin had come along, clear and unambiguous too.

  • Anarcissie

    Roger — Going by what is said in the transcript, there is no evolution and a lot of authoritarianism. I don’t think we can achieve greater freedom through authoritarianism. There are people who theorize about cultural evolution — memes can be said to be part of that discourse. In fact, I’d say my own primary mode of propaganda is mimetic: don’t just talk about what you think is good, show it, and suggest imitation (or improvement).

    In regard to the conflict(s) I spoke of, your idea has occurred to a number of people: ‘If we can’t solve our problems, how can we tell the mainstreamers how to solve their problems?’ However, others are quite happy with their righteousness. And yet others may be trolls or provocateurs.

    I see the situation as something that goes back to my concept of ‘the shadow of slavery’. That is, we have lost the culture or the genes that enabled our distant ancestors to get along — hopefully only the former. We have to learn how to get it back. Conflicts must not be suppressed by ‘fast and fair’ procedures, they must be worked through consciously and consensually and everyone must be taken into consideration. Thus our problems are actually an opportunity, more than that, a necessary step along the road, although they are also an obstruction.

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

    In perfect agreement with you, but you’re speaking of the kind of spats people have online. It’s neither local and in some sense it’s unreal — pixels and all that, any anyone can say anything while they’re mere pixels. Yet, think about it — there isn’t really all that much that, say, Cindy, troll, you and I disagree about, not when it comes to major premises or the desirable state of affairs. The points we do disagree about is relatively speaking small and inconsequential “shit,” like the underlying metaphysics, perhaps or how to get there (strategy).

    By all means conflicts are to be milked and they are windows of opportunity, especially when it comes to consciousness-raising. But that’s not the kind of situation I envisage or am talking about. What I am talking about is starting a community within a community, by addressing the kinds of needs that are not being met, in fact, patently ignored by the array of already existing structures and organizations — whether state (governmental), municipal, charitable (Salvation Army), churches, what else have you.

    I’m talking about empowering people who have always been ignored, but in order to do so, the first baby step, has got to be: find out what needs there exist that aren’t being met (you don’t have to be very imaginative to figure that out) start meeting them. Empowerment comes later, from a realization that people don’t have to remain helpless, that they can pull resources in common and have a direct hand in shaping their own future, from a realization that they can.

    Now, you tell me who wouldn’t be interested in something like that? They’d have to be out of their mind.

    It’s in this exact sense that I find Sloan’s study a chock-full of ideas.

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

    PS: I read him as having precisely that kind of situations in mind, none other.

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

    Anyway, I’m done for tonight. If you guys have any ideas pro or con, I’ll be certain to respond tomorrow. This would-be community organizer is calling time out.

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

    As I see it capitalism was a transfer of power from one group to another–the dominant group du jour. The ‘evolution’ of it was merely that it came after feudalism. If it was an adaptation, it was an adaptation of the power class to holding the reigns of control. This doesn’t seem like a meaningful use of the word to me and it doesn’t seem to be the way Sloan is using it.

    I don’t get any sense that is the sort of evolution in the sense of becoming better adapted that the Darwinian sense would have.

    David Sloan Wilson means evolution in the Darwinian sense, I take it. He is not placing the same qualification you seem to be, where anything that comes after another thing is evolution.

    Buy anyway. Enough being disagreeable. I have to read you next links.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    I don’t get any sense that is the sort of evolution in the sense of becoming better adapted that the Darwinian sense would have.

    A common misconception of evolution is that it is the transition from a lower to a higher state, which isn’t the case.

    In biology, evolution by natural selection involves the survival of those organisms with attributes best suited to a particular environment. Such an environment may not last, in which case those organisms will no longer be the “fittest” and will be supplanted by other organisms better suited to the new conditions.

    For example, an animal with stereoscopic colour vision (but a poor sense of smell) has an advantage on a planet with clear skies and bright sunlight, but those nifty eyes won’t do it much good if the climate changes and there is a thick cloud layer most of the time.

    So transferring that analogy to economics, capitalism wasn’t necessarily a transition from a worse to a better system; it was simply a transition to a system that seemed to work best for most people at the time.

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

    Yes, but this was made possible by rapid discoveries in the sciences (e.g. the steam engine) and what followed, with industrialization. And in light of that, -agricultural-based economies found themselves to be stagnant and static by comparison. The transfer of power was the inevitable result of the most drastic shift as to the dominant mode of production, that’s all.

    As to Sloan, he does speak of “evolutionary paradigm” (see the link to Google books, the preview). But it doesn’t really matter to me to what extent does he use the theory of evolution — just another narrative in this context — to justify his findings. That’s extraneous and irrelevant to the point I’m making. It’s the findings (of the study) that I find interesting. And they don’t follow from evolutionary theory one way or another but from honest-to-goodness piece of social research.

    Later alligator.

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

    @ refers to #475

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

    Roger,

    I am not getting what you are getting from this guy. I don’t really even like his ideas. I think he is just legitimating his ideas by claiming they are science.

    Who is this guy to tell anybody what behaviors and actions are evolutionary. He claims to put to use evolutionary science within the community. Hogwash. He annoys me. He is apparently an evolutionary psychology believer of some sort.

    I’d almost rather be a scientologist. (Not really, but just so you know how very not persuaded I am by this sort of evolutionary psychology approach.)

    His organization is a typical top-down hierarchically organized structure. I am not sure what are we supposed to be getting from him.

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

    Okay then I guess I haven’t come across the findings yet. Which link?

  • Anarcissie

    I’m not speaking of online spats. I’m speaking of conflicts where most of the interaction is face to face or in some cases fist to face. There has also been impressive material destruction. And other things, like ostracism and browbeating. The list is sad and long, and extremely local.

    When I say ‘provocateurs’ I’m talking about people paid by the authorities. There has been an unusual amount of conflict given the issues and stakes. By ‘trolls’ I mean self-inspired, unpaid volunteer provocateurs.

    There are no doubt informers as well, although since everything I involve myself in is open and legal I don’t worry about it much. Maybe I should. However, in my experience of activism, wherever more than two or three are gathered together, there the informer is also. The government spends a huge amount of money on it given the low price at which one can be bought. So I just ignore it all. If you’re afraid of having a file, a dossier, don’t do anything. Well, maybe you can go to the mall.

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

    476

    I agree, Dr.D. and I meant no implication in the words “better adapted” as moving from a lower to a higher direction.

    As for capitalism, do you really see it that way? What if capitalism was a herding of the people like sheep by using the laws of the day to prevent their having other options? That is what I have seen evidence for.

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

    So, to clarify. If capitalism was thrust upon people who had no choice by those in power who sought to harness their manpower at the expense of depriving them of bodily freedom and forcing them to toil for the profit of others, then how would it bear any relationship to “a system that seemed to work best for most people at the time”, as if most people had a choice.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Cindy, if you’re going to consider the development of capitalism from an evolutionary standpoint you have to set aside value judgements. In this scenario we need to view your “herded people” as an environmental resource that capitalism took advantage of.

    My hypothetical organism didn’t choose to have exceptional eyesight: it just happens to have it. And the smaller critters it eats don’t choose to be eaten.

    I suppose you could argue that there was a choice on the part of those who became capitalists to capitalize, but since one can’t really point the finger at any one or more individuals, it’s more accurate to view it as an involuntary socioeconomic development.

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

    Interesting comment, Anarcissie. Just goes to show that community organizing of the right kind, that flies in the face of, or simply bypasses, the existing structures, is the right thing to do (since the government would go to such lengths to nip it in the bud).

    Isn’t there a way of weeding these people out in terms of their residence address, their socioeconomic status, even the history of their relationships with other members of the community?

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

    484 Dr.D,

    In that case, I guess I won’t be thinking of the rise of capitalism as evolutionary any time soon. lol

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

    Roger,

    I think I may have missed getting my message across in my earlier point re the steam engine. And I need to spell it out so it’s unmistakably clear.

    The photo of the women in the Maquiladora factory was not to suggest that you think of such situations as necessary to progress or any other thing you may have thought I was saying. It was to say the steam engine is not progress at all. The words ‘major advancement’ themselves belie the domination cultural values. The steam engine is a development. Nothing more. To some people it is actually a destructive development.

    I used the ladies in the slave factory as one such group. The ability for white folks to transport goods around the world is not really any sort of progress in their pov. The American Indian tribes and a whole slew of others could have done without the steam engine.

    If the steam engine could never be developed outside capitalism. Then I don’t think the world would have found that much of a problem.

  • Anarcissie

    Cindy — I believe capitalism started in the towns of the late Middle Ages, using for its working class people who were running away from the situation of being serfs or slaves in the countryside. This would be some centuries before people were actually driven off the land (as by the Enclosures) to swell the proletariat, so it represents some people moving from a worse situation to a better, somewhat freer and richer one. Capitalism could thus be seen as evolving out of a feudal matrix and eventually supplanting or absorbing it.

    Roger — Are you referring to informers or provocateurs? No, they’re just like everybody else in the context where they do their work. Informers can often be created in situ, that is, you get hold of an existing, long-time, trusted member of the target group and convince him or her to make occasional reports. As I recall some fairly important Civil Rights leader’s role as an informer was revealed a few years ago. The informer may well be a hard-working mainstay of the activist group.

    I don’t see any point in trying to expose and extrude informers, since it won’t be much trouble for the authorities to insert or create others. In fact I rather like the idea that subversive propaganda is not only flowing into the organs of state authority but is being paid for by them.

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

    @487

    Last paragraph — but it has, and so has electricity, and for better or worse, we’re stuck with it. And it’s not going to go away unless to decide to live in the woods.

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

    Don’t care about the informers, Anarcissie, because the kind of community organizing I have in mind has got to be open and aboveboard. It’s the latter class of people that I’v view as a disruptive element. But then again, given clearly stated objectives, e.g., in terms of providing services to those in the community who have the greatest needs (say, transportation to seniors, alternative education and tutoring to kids, etc.), forming cooperative ventures and pulling together of community resources so as to be able to fill those needs — all elements of a platform aiming at empowerment of all those who have been the furthest removed from power — I should think one could easily tell those few who would be disruptive.

    See, my idea is that just as a local newspaper has once served as a kind of glue which held a community together, nowadays community bulletin boards and local websites, perhaps even a local radio station, are the means at our disposal to do likewise. Of course, the object is to form a community within a larger community and to expand therefrom.

    So it’s all going to be aboveboard from the get-go. It’s got to be if the object is to reach out and form a group. All you need is a nucleus, and take off from there.

  • Anarcissie

    The people with the greatest needs are typically the activists.

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

    488 – Perhaps it could be seen that way. That’s true. I suppose it depends again on what ‘evolve’ means. Then again, the ‘evolutionary process’ had quite a hand from the enclosures.

    According to Polanyi, “not until 1834 was a competitive labor market established in England, hence industrial capitalism as a social system cannot be said to have existed before that date.”[18]

    That roughly coincides with what I recollect to be my previous findings when I looked at the subject in greater depth. So, I guess one could say pre-capitalism lead to capitalism and call that an evolution?

    Well, I can still claim it only became capitalism based on the enclosures in England and other tendencies of authorities elsewhere.

    And now I am not sure what anyone is talking about, including me! Or why this distinction even became important.

    I’m not sure if it even matters. I had started with a larger point. The larger point I was making was that I met the idea that human beings could only invent something like a steam engine through capitalism with incredulity. And I still don’t understand why that would be.

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

    ick, I wrecked the thing.

    That quote was wikipedia. It is easily enough googled so I will leave out the link.

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

    Let’s forget it.

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

    but [the steam engine] has [been invented], and so has electricity, and for better or worse, we’re stuck with it. And it’s not going to go away unless to decide to live in the woods.

    That’s fine with me, Roger. I happen to think technology is not a problem. I suppose I had a point at sometime. I guess it has simply vanished into thin air.

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

    495 Good idea.

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

    Dr.D, I have to point out that this is a value judgment. ;-)

    it was simply a transition to a system that seemed to work best for most people at the time.

    That is different than saying, it is a system that allowed the more powerful to use the less powerful to their own advantage.

    (And Roger, I am pretty naive on economics. So, I hope you don’t mind putting up with that. I have no basis for believing or understanding why your point would be so about the steam engine.)

  • troll

    …fucking steam engine

    we all would be teletransporting by now but for that evil creation

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

    lol

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

    @495 addressed to Anarcissie. I’m due, however, for an extended break.

  • troll

    I do appreciate Wilson’s overall attack on methodological individualism and his work to legitimize thinking in terms of ‘altruistic groups’

    Anarcissie – know of any activists in need of loans to fund particularly creative projects?

    due diligence has led me to confront an underlying problem with a lot of the micro scene: it encourages a buy-in to the existing structure of productive relationships not their transformation…this of course is a personal problem that I probably should take up with the chaplain

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

    502 –

    Do you think it necessarily does that, troll?

    I saw a woman who makes a living cooking spiders in Cambodia on Andrew Zimmern’s show yesterday. She pays 12 1/2 cents to purchase them from a couple who collects them in the forest. Then, she cooks them herself and sells them in the marketplace, enabling her to make $25 day to support her children.

    I have loaned money to a pig-farmer to buy food and tools. And a woman who works operating her grocery store, whose daughter helps her on her school vacation. And a group who raises cattle for sale.

    Isn’t it possible to create a new paradigm in which microloans could be used to create some alternative that would not replicate the buy-in you object to (And I would object to as well.) Can we not change the ‘current scene’?

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

    I have found a whole lot of great stuff on people involved in promoting a gift economy. I’m going to write a short and sweet article on it for BC.

    Also, Roger. I really liked this:

    What I am talking about is starting a community within a community, by addressing the kinds of needs that are not being met, in fact, patently ignored by the array of already existing structures and organizations — whether state (governmental), municipal, charitable (Salvation Army), churches, what else have you.

    I’m talking about empowering people who have always been ignored, but in order to do so, the first baby step, has got to be: find out what needs there exist that aren’t being met (you don’t have to be very imaginative to figure that out) start meeting them. Empowerment comes later, from a realization that people don’t have to remain helpless, that they can pull resources in common and have a direct hand in shaping their own future, from a realization that they can.

  • troll

    re 503…dunno Cindy – while I think the idea of coordinating $ to help folks make jobs for themselves and be productive is sound I need to ponder a little on the debt relationship and what baggage it might carry

  • troll

    ‘gift economy’ — sounds more up my alley

  • Anarcissie

    Gifts are good as long as the receiver of them has the means and opportunity to give back. That is a true gift economy, in which the gift is not only useful but is an emblem of solidarity. When it’s just the rich giving to the poor, it’s charity or Welfare, and confirms, rather than overthrows, the class system.

    In a capitalist context, loans may enable the recipients to preserve their dignity and self-respect.

    While many of the activists I know could use money or other contributions, the ‘needs’ I referred to in #491 were psychological, social, political. The poor were getting along before we came along, and if we don’t screw them up too much, they’ll get along after we’re gone. We’re using them to transform ourselves and our social order because they are the still-living part of it. Hopefully they, too, will benefit. Whereas if we had to deal just with the better-off, it would be hard to get anywhere. They already know everything.

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

    When I was poor, I wondered how the world would be so callous as not to care. That’s just me–when I was poor.

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

    I wish both my grandmothers had some bit of luxury or relief. I wish my father didn’t die in his 50s for lack of medical insurance after his bankruptcy. I am not at all convinced that “the poor are getting along”.

    I find that the way to make sure not to trespass on people’s dignity is to ask them and not to decide for them what they need.

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

    @506 3rd paragraph

    Of course I knew you were referring to that; don’t take me fool. What I don’t care about is your persistent perverting of my meaning because of your negative experiences with activism.

    And thanks for the lecture, BTW, from both of you about the poor and how we shouldn’t infringe on their condition lest we deprive them of their dignity. It was a real pearl of wisdom, and I’ll do my utmost to keep it in mind.

  • troll

    point taken Anarcissie that gifts traditionally carry their own baggage

    (btw – I don’t want to give the impression that I’m out of our project just because of my reservations)

  • troll

    here are a couple of short history/theory pdfs by Wilson:

    MULTILEVEL SELECTION THEORY

    Rethinking the Theoretical Foundation of Sociobiology

  • Anarcissie

    There is, of course, communism.

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

    There is, of course, communism.

    ‘Capital’ idea! ;-) Seriously, the gift economy exploration has been pushing me toward the conclusion that creating and promoting venues that promote non-capital based exchange is in the zeitgeist and should be continued and elaborated until it is in the everyday consciousness.

    What does anyone think about this idea, for example?

    (Roger, this is a natural fit with your ‘think locally, act globally’ motif.)

    I think this idea would be really great if they only took it a little farther and just worked on the basis of ‘free’. It is called Neighborrow and is in a beta state. They encourage neighbors to charge money for borrowing (yuck, of course). But what about creating something just like it that is based on outright borrowing. A web-based site that would work for the purpose of listing borrowing offers and requests as well as services to offer or request and free things, and sign-ups for local mutual aid, and advertisement of free happenings, and things that go along with what we would like to see.

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

    We could encourage the printing out and posting version of it in local venues throughout the world, Roger, for those who have no computers.

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

    There need not be any limited scope.

    Request examples: I need my apartment painted. I need a home-cooked meal. I need my dog washed. I need my laundry done. I need someone to play cards with granddad. I need to borrow a hand truck. I want to read Marx’s ‘Capital’.

    Offer examples: I will wash your dog. I have a free coffee pot. I can let you use my washer and dryer. I will supply overnight elder care in a pinch. I will lend my copy of Karl Marx’s ‘Capital’.

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

    This encapsulates everything that we want to see in one forum of exchange.

    Event example: Gathering a group of people to paint a lower east side apartment.

    Event example: Free concert in the park in Sparta, NJ at 7 pm. by Some Great Band.

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

    Borrowing is fine, but it encourages only individual independence. The time isn’t ripe yet. People are devastated, discouraged, made to feel impotent. The first, intermediary step, is to build solidarity, a sense that many of us are in the same boat and that through common effort, by pulling our energies, resources and skills, we can write our own future. It’s from a sense of solidarity and support network that one can develop a sense of self-confidence and hope. What else can better promote the spirit of cooperation and mutual aid, towards stepping stone towards the communal mode of organization. Besides, we don’t want a society populated with individual practitioners — accountants, doctors, dentists, contractors, etc. Nothing wrong with being self-employed per se (at least from the Marxian perspective because you’re not engaged in exploitation). Still, it’s too much of a vestige of capitalism and “me only” attitude. Most importantly, it’s not in the spirit of the new and better world. (Not to mention the obvious point that great many vital “enterprises” (neutral use of the world) require a joint effort.

    And btw, the motto is “Think globally but act locally.” If I’ve misstated it, mea culpa.

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

    Roger,

    You’ve misconstrued the whole point. I took pains to draw out actual needs and wants so you wouldn’t, but there you have it. You did, anyway.

    I am talking about a forum for human connection, not a site for self-employment.

    And I often switch words and make other slips. No need for you to have stated it wrongly.

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

    Anyway, when you find something that IS in the spirit of a new and better world let me know. Perhaps it will be worthwhile to contribute some effort to. I will bow out for today. I am fresh out of excitement and enthusiasm.

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

    “I will wash your dog. I have a free coffee pot. I can let you use my washer and dryer. I will supply overnight elder care in a pinch. I will lend my copy of Karl Marx’s ‘Capital’.”

    A romantic, not a revolutionary vision of mutual aid. A nice gesture as far as it goes. It’s nice to know somebody cares. Still, none of those things will turn the world around.

    I’ve just lent a friend facing eviction $800.00 of my hard-earned money. I could have been in California by now rather then being glued to BC for lack of adequate social contact. Still, I’ve done the right thing. I don’t want to hear about gestures.

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

    And I was going to leave this go, but to hell with it.

    And thanks for the lecture, BTW, from both of you…

    Not only wasn’t I lecturing you, I wasn’t even talking to you.

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

    Anything to keep you energize, kiddo, as though you really needed it.

  • Anarcissie

    There is a ‘free stuff’ section on Craigslist, and there are also a number of sites which specialize in postings by people who want to give things away. In New York City we also have the Real Free Market, a once-a-month physical venue where people bring things to be given away, a sort of communal potlatch. From time to time there has been a Free Store in Brooklyn. The most recent one was destroyed, possibly as a side effect of some of the conflicts I’ve written about, but at some point another one will appear. Some ‘branches’ or ‘locals’ of Food Not Bombs collect and give away useful items: clothes, books, toys, kitchen implements, school supplies. There was until recently a bicycle collective which took in junked bicycles, cannibalized the parts, put together new bicycles, and gave them away. (I know someone who does this individually as a hobby, in a suburb; he is considered extremely weird by his neighbors, he says.)

    Through examining such things the crucial role of real estate in keeping people under control can be brought into view.

    It is not that hard to get to a computer these days, but a printed free-stuff paper might prove useful. Questions of the cost of printing, and the labor of writing, typesetting, and distribution suggest themselves.

  • Anarcissie

    509 – roger nowosielski Sep 02, 2011 at 1:49 am:

    @506 3rd paragraph

    ‘Of course I knew you were referring to that; don’t take me fool. What I don’t care about is your persistent perverting of my meaning because of your negative experiences with activism. …’

    troll asked me if I knew of any activists who needed money. I assumed the question was on the level and answered it that way. I find it best to be rather literal in most online environments, although I am capable of the occasional rhetorical arabesque even in the prisons of Unicode.

    I cannot pervert your meanings. I may pervert others’ understanding of them, but you are equally free to pervert their understanding of mine. Nihil obstat. Indeed, it may make things more interesting. We are all here only because of error.

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

    Anarcissie,

    I have no idea how and why troll’s question is of any relevance here. My supposition was based on our exchanges, my trying to elucidate my meaning, not only once or twice but three times in fact. And every time, I dare say, you didn’t take me at face value but put instead your own kind of twist.

    But don’t you worry. I’m a big boy and can take things in stride. Besides, I totally agree with you in that all of us communicating here on the internet is all in error. So much for the better, for only good things can come therefrom.

    In any case, you’ve forced me to write another article on the subject, on activism, that is. I should hope that my ideas will become somewhat clearer by then and that you’ll find them more agreeable than you have thus far. Needless to say, your criticism is always welcome.

    Cheers.

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

    I have no idea how and why troll’s question is of any relevance here.

    In the paragraph you objected to, Anarcissie was speaking to troll, not you.

  • troll

    There is, of course, communism.

    ah communism…shared a brief crush with the daughter of the US Communist Party once — lovely young woman…lots of expensive dental work

    I have to agree that (if people would look around a bit they might realize that) there always is communism

    Cindy – fulfillment houses (and particularly) labor exchanges of the sort you suggest and Anarcissie gives operating examples of are a great idea

    and I wear my Social Scavenger pin with (somewhat tarnished after so many years) pride

    but responding to Rog’s objection – I pity the poor commodity on which scavenging is based and would like to see him retire: we need to revolutionize (or at least anarchically encourage emergent relationships in) productive processes — which is the level that microloans can impact despite their imo wrongheaded direction

    and back to the idea of labor exchanges — Rog…how so romantic?

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

    My suggestion comes from a deeper place than a simple ‘labor exchange’ or ‘mere borrowing’.

    My suggestion comes on after consideration of a feminist paradigm change toward a gift-economy and that is its intention. It is intended to replicate a paradigm of plenty that counters the paradigm of scarcity in the larger capitalist culture.

    There is no other forum that is comprehensively (on an international basis) replicating that.

    Just sayin’ I think you are all missing my vision.

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

    I wonder if productive relationships might not have a hand in changing amidst a paradigm where scarcity is not an issue.

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

    I was responding to a series of exchanges with Anarcissie, Cindy, not just any one comment, let alone one paragraph. Read up the thread and see.

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

    @527

    “Social Scavenger” pin — makes me think of the scavenger hunt in My Man Godfried with William Powell and Carole Lombard.

    But I don’t quite get the rest of your comment.

  • troll

    Cindy 528 – you’re probably right…I’ll stfu and pay attention to your elaboration 529 – good question

    Rog 531 – no es importante

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

    Attica is all of us.

    Powerful voice on behalf of “the invisibles” and the liberation movement in American and worldwide. A fitting counterpoint to 9/11 ten-year anniversary.