Thursday, April 8, 2010

Capitalism and Socialism Cannot Co-Exist

Welcome Tea Party Nation! The following is the article in full.

Capitalism and Socialism Cannot Co-Exist
Capitalism and socialism cannot co-exist. Each system's underlying values are at odds to with one another, and they cannot be synthesized in a pragmatic manner. The result of blending capitalism and socialism is not a "mixed" or "balanced" economy, it is a fascist economy leading to totalitarianism. Why is this?

Because capitalism is not a system in the sense that socialists conceive of it. Capitalism can be summed as follows, "Assuming private property and sound money, capitalism is the freedom of the individual to expend one's life, liberty, and property in the pursuit of self-interest; assuming also that one's actions do not infringe on the individual rights of others."

Capitalism as such is a spontaneous order, a system without guiding controls and a limited set of rules. It assumes that people's lives are their own, and their fortunes are what they can make of them.

Socialism, in the form it has always manifested itself in the world, is the antithesis of the spontaneous order of capitalism. Socialists seek to establish controls, regulations, and rules that manipulate individuals and employ them in the service of numerous “causes” and eventually the state.

The socialist accomplishes his agenda in a capitalist country by employing the bait-and-switch. He claims that in order to free you, he must control your labor; in order to establish justice, he must violate private property; and in order for there to be peace, he must make the nation vulnerable. For the socialist, it is “compassionate” to enslave the people to the state, or to the majority, for the “public good.” Who determines the “public good” is the new aristocracy; the socialists who intend to run the system of redistribution of wealth.

Capitalism and socialism cannot be mixed in terms of labor because there are only three kinds of moral bases for economies that can sustain themselves in the real world: People pursue their own self-interest and trade for what they need and desire, which implies that the state exists to provide protection; people can force others to provide their wants and desires, which implies that the state is an enforcement apparatus; and people can have their wants and desires provided for voluntarily by others, a utopian view that underlies the many lies of socialism.

The need for human beings to work in order to provide for themselves is self-evident. The moral basis of individual freedom, the only kind of freedom, is self-determination; this reality is not altered by the industrial revolution. While socialists believe that the means of production can and should be seized for the “public good” and that this will result in economic plenty, which would be shared voluntarily by people, this point of view dismisses human nature and the reason we have a Constitutional republic to begin with. Human beings’ “greedy nature” has not been altered by the industrial revolution, and this applies to sweet-talking politicians as well.

The Constitution is thus not obsolete; it protects individuals from coercion by individuals who would seize the means of production and coerce others to labor on the terms of the state. “If men were angels, no government would be necessary,” Constitutional framer James Madison wrote. "A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have,” President Gerald Ford would state two hundred years after the nation’s founding. A nation who trusts in its leaders instead of itself is destined to be abused by its government. It would be “forever destined to depend for (its) political constitution… on accident and force,” as Alexander Hamilton eloquently put it.

Nor can capitalism and socialism be mixed in terms of property. Private property, or the fruit of man’s labor, must be inviolable if it is to protect men from abuse by unofficial thieves, by the state, or by the majority. Once property is violated, there is no moral basis to claim “enough!” when the state collector comes to seize your property. As John Adams wrote, “The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.”

Capitalism and socialism also cannot be mixed because we, as a freedom-loving people, must not submit to other nations if we are to remain free. Socialism seeks the obliteration of the nation-state and a supposed “workers union” that encompasses the world. Socialists believe that capitalism is the cause of all wars, and frustrates their ambitions for world peace. Yet wars have raged long before capitalism was a driving force in the world, and for numerous reasons other than the love of money. Despite this obvious historical fact, a belief persists among many socialists that greed, their designated slur of self-interest, is the cause of all wars. On the contrary, the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that when nations trade, the chance of war decreases.

The belief that the world would become peaceful if every person were to become a socialist ignores the very human nature that has made our world the way it is. Ronald Reagan correctly pointed out that, “Experience has taught us that preparedness deters aggression and that weakness invites it.” Socialism is no more compatible with world peace than capitalism, and the aggressive nature of many socialist regimes, including the former U.S.S.R. and China, confirms this reality.

So what are the implications for Americans if the United States were to become a nominally socialist country? To begin with, this is unlikely to happen without serious opposition. Since socialism and communism tend to be unpopular when the population has experience of freedom and a stable market economy, most socialists and communists come to power after severe, prolonged periods of corruption; the absence of the rule of law; economic depression; and/or war. While socialists will usually frame their power-grabs as "popular revolts," "revolutions," or "democratic" in nature, these technically entail a far greater base of mass support than is typically the case.

Barring a majority of supportive sentiment, the statists otherwise need operational control of the military, intelligence, and police forces and a largely unarmed populace to be successful in maintaining power. It is simplistic to think that superior military force can overwhelm a nation of 100 million armed Americans, for example. Overwhelming and suppressing a populace is not merely a matter of force, but the will to use that force.

That is why in states that socialists cannot take over by force outright, as characterized above, the preparatory path to socialism is a long process that does not entail Marxist indoctrination of the masses, per se, but a demoralization process, which can take on many forms, including: political correctness, multiculturalism, diversity, and moral and cultural relativism. These tend to undermine the individual's sources of ideological resistance. Once the individual's mind is wiped clean of the ability to resist indoctrination or suggestion, then the statists' manipulation of his interpretation of reality can be truly effective.

The "change" in a nation's make-up usually appears to those not adequately versed in the socialists' strategy and tactics as a haphazard form of massive corruption, usually justified in pragmatic terms. The transformational state usually engages in "hit-and-run" assaults on the economy, society, and national security before its opposition can catch on and then organize to put up concerted resistance to a given cause. This is why it is very important for those interested in liberty to understand their enemy; only then will he be able to see the big picture and to understand the strategy of his opposition.

Socialists, when operating in states where their philosophy is largely unpopular with the masses, as they are able to recognize it, and where the socialists are unable to take over a nation using direct force, pervert the nation in several spheres: legal, governmental, educational, and cultural; until the free-market capitalist system is incrementally obliterated. This tactic can be broadly termed Fabian socialism, and includes the preferred form of statist economy, Keynesian economics.

Simply put, the series of events that government-introduced controls set off distorts the economy, which ostensibly justifies further economic intervention. After years of government meddling, the capitalist economy collapses from distortion. Most people, when put in a vulnerable position economically, trade their freedom for the fleeting economic security that the government promises to provide. The result is dependence on the government for the means of sustaining one's life; this can be assessed by an increase in government-funded, that is, taxpayer- or printing press-funded jobs; massive social welfare programs; and government grants and loans. A people dependent on the government cannot be free; this is the general principle underwriting much of socialist policy.

America indeed has enemies worldwide, and no sane and honest person can dismiss that fact. But the American government has used the threat of terrorism specifically to persuade Americans to accept infringements of their liberty that would otherwise be considered unacceptable. The Department of Homeland Security, domestic spying by such agencies as the NSA, and experimental technology like full-body scanners being employed by the Transportation Security Administration are piecemeal steps in the direction of a police state that patriotic Americans must not accept. Since these agencies and measures are introduced using the premise of "common sense" and pragmatism, most people see their installment as a necessary and proper defense of their lives and the lives of others. Yet it should be pointed out that the measures the government has introduced in the name of security in the United States is entirely disproportionate to the threat. The odds of being killed by a terrorist are negligible; and in general, terrorists should be fought using an offensive strategy that preserves liberty.

The socialist in a freedom-loving country proceeds by fits and starts; he pushes forth his agenda and retreats. Corruption of the capitalist system becomes embedded and systematized until accepted. Infringements on individual rights are justified as temporary pragmatic measures, and then permanently embodied in the system of laws. The military, intelligence, and police is expanded disproportionately to that needed to fend off the nation's adversaries, and then is turned against the people. The nation is pushed and pulled in the direction of totalitarianism, and the compromise of the current "conservative" opposition is but an inconsiderable anchor on the state's otherwise predetermined course. Not even stopping the state is sufficient to prevent the economic and social chaos impending in our nation, barring serious concerted action. Without a reverse of course, America will continue to be "transformed" into a socialist basketcase that will be the midwife of a totalitarian dictatorship. Capitalists must begin to take the political and ideological war to the socialists.

The proper course for the conservative who does not want to inspire economic and social chaos is to first liberate as much of the market as possible; to seek out and end corruption, including subsidies and regulations; to simplify the tax code and to lower it to a minimum as an interim course on the way to near eradication; to introduce alternative currencies until the Federal Reserve is stripped of its regulatory and fiscal power and then abolished (i.e., free banking); to reduce the size and scope of the security agencies, including the disbanding of the Department of Homeland Security and the elimination of several of its agencies; to end military Keynesianism; to free Interstate commerce; to liberate alternatives to public education, to end the Department of Education, and then to abolish "free" government-run education; to repeal national power and to promote state's rights in every conceivable manner; to begin privatizing social security, until it is the responsibility of each American to prepare for one's own retirement; to deregulate the insurance market, which would bring prices down through increasing competition; essentially, what is needed is a "Fabian capitalist," in other words, a systematic incremental approach. While simply revolting and overthrowing the state is appealing in theory to a small minority of Americans, in practice it would lead to the kind of chaos that ushers in tyrannies.

As a pro-freedom movement, the "tea party" activists need to seriously think about and debate a program that can be pitched to the citizenry as a long-term solution to restoring American greatness. It is my contention that such a program should be ideologically consistent and based on the philosophy of freedom. In this way, we will be able to conceive in our minds a systematic approach to defeating socialist objectives that can only end in totalitarianism.

18 comments:

Eric said...

Re: Nor can capitalism and socialism be mixed in terms of property. Private property, or the fruit of man’s labor, must be inviolable if it is to protect men from abuse by unofficial thieves, by the state, or by the majority. Once property is violated, there is no moral basis to claim “enough!”

Both the federal and state governments have enjoyed the ability to seize private property throughout the entire history of the United States. See the 5th Amendment, which only limits condemnation by saying the government has to pay for it. Thus, the right of private property has never been inviolable in this country.

Reasonsjester said...

Then John Adams must have been kidding around, Eric? So what is to prevent the state from seizing all our property and making us slaves? Because we know that it what the Founders intended, with 90% top marginal tax rates under FDR, now the second highest corporate taxes in the world, the death tax, the real estate tax, tax exemptions for clients of one political party, capital gains taxes, sales taxes, gasoline taxes, soon to be energy taxes - so tell me, was Adams not correct?

The idea behind limited government is that it its functions are LEGITIMATE. Its funding is rationalized by a need to PROTECT PROPERTY not CONFISCATE IT or REDISTRIBUTE IT.

The problem with socialism is that it is not an economic system of creation or production. It assumes that there is wealth already there to redistribute. It claims to be a philosophy of freedom, but if people aren't willing to be the slaves of the mob or the state, socialists are not timid about telling you that these people starve. Socialism is a parasitical philosophy on capitalism made specifically for parasites, like Marx himself.

So Eric, are you implying that the Constitution denotes that I, the fruit of my labor, and my property belongs to the state, to be seized as much as my fellow human beings desire?

No wonder the left is morally and intellectually bankrupt - they have no clue how stupid and disastrous the implications of their ideas are. Logical consistency is a foreign concept to some people, a fetish for simpletons who are not smart enough to formulate a tangled, destructive, self-stultifying, contradictory worldview such as Marxism.

Eric said...

No, I'm just saying that the Constitution doesn't consider property inviolate. There are plenty of limitations to property rights, and these are not socialist. I may own this section of the river but I can't dam it up so someone downstream can't use it. I can't buy up all the apple trees and then use my monopoly power to charge $1,000 an apple. I can't build my house on a hillside in such a way that it disrupts the foundation of my neighbor's house on top of the hill.

The question is not whether the government can infringe on my property rights, the question is where should the line be drawn, how much regulation are we willing to stand. If you think the line has been drawn too far to the left, you make a point. But absolute either way is ridiculous.

But you also have to consider the question of who gets to draw the line, how is it to be drawn. And there's two ways to do that: one person chooses or many people choose. One person choosing where to draw the line is monarchy. Many people choosing is democracy. So, pick one.

BTW, it doesn't matter if Adams is right or not -- his views account for only a portion of what was adopted into the Constitution. You are taking a very selective view of history if you argue otherwise.

libertyforusa said...

Here is a very good line Eric.
Government is allowed to levy only enough of my property or yours to provide for the self defense of our respective rights.
However they are not entitled to seize by force anything else.
All contracts should be voluntary including the contract between the people and the necessity for a very limit governance.
Our tyrannical leaders exceeded their authority decades ago and have incrementally increased it ever since.
They have not improved society much at all relative to what capitalism has provided- we would be mired in the stone age still had government "expertise" been relied on.

RJ-Check out this link
http://newsmax.com/InsideCover/jason-mattera-brainwashed-zombies/2010/04/08/id/355185

Anonymous said...

Congrats on getting on the TPN newsletter. You seem to have a basic understanding of the issue, but there were several places where your essay came off more like an ideological rant than an informed objective discussion.
I would like to have seen more evidence for some of your ideas. I like the quotes used in some sections, but others only had vague ideas with little to no evidence or quotes, a lot of half-truths, and some bad logic.
A couple of concerns:

a) RE:Capitalism and socialism also cannot be mixed because we, as a freedom-loving people, must not submit to other nations if we are to remain free.

There is no basis for this argument. National sovereignty is only loosely connected to capitalism. Free trade actually undercuts the idea of the nation-state in some ways. Capitalism seeks a world order just as much as socialism. Free trade tears down economic borders which allows for social and cultural exchange, and that often leads to political integration. Look at the EU. Started out as an international free trade organization called the European Economic Community in the 1950s. As you said, countries who trade rarely go to war with each other.

b) Just adding to the property argument Eric was making. I feel you missed an important side of capitalism than is monopolistic. We have laws about property because capitalism naturally moves towards monopolization as the best means to profit. Think about the game monopoly. It's your goal to buy everything of a single color so you can charge what you want. Obviously though this infringes on natural competition, and the rights of others. It doesn't mean that we should abandon capitalism, as Marx would say, but it is part of capitalism and can't be simply ignored because we don't like it.

c) RE: Socialists, when operating in states where their philosophy is largely unpopular with the masses, as they are able to recognize it, and where the socialists are unable to take over a nation using direct force, pervert the nation in several spheres: legal, governmental, educational, and cultural; until the free-market capitalist system is incrementally obliterated. This tactic can be broadly termed Fabian socialism, and includes the preferred form of statist economy, Keynesian economics.

This was a vague paragraph at best and is an example of something you needed to further explain. Things like "Statism" and "Keynesianism" need clearer definitions. Better to fully explain a few key things than vaguely explain too many things.

d) RE: the preparatory path to socialism is a long process that does not entail Marxist indoctrination of the masses, per se, but a demoralization process, which can take on many forms, including: political correctness, multiculturalism, diversity, and moral and cultural relativism. These tend to undermine the individual's sources of ideological resistance. Once the individual's mind is wiped clean of the ability to resist indoctrination or suggestion, then the statists' manipulation of his interpretation of reality can be truly effective.

Worst paragraph in the entire essay. Diversity and multiculturalism are antitheses to capitalism??? Come on. Don't let your other social and/or political view-points overtake an objective discussion about the nature of capitalism and socialism. This paragraph was about ideological indoctrination, but ironical its the most ideological and least objective in your entire essay. Good definition of ideological indoctrination, just pay attention to it yourself and don't get trapped in your own ideology.

Overall it was a good essay. I'd say a solid B. You did good for tackling such a complex issue and doing well to explain many things, but all the mistakes I mentioned above (plus a few others) would pull your grade down. Keep reading and working and I can see your understanding really grow. :)

Reasonsjester said...

To Eric:

I am not arguing that private property was not violated from the very beginning. See the Virginia Declaration of Rights for an explicit right to private property that is much more in line with the views of most founders, and not the Hamiltonian traitors who sabotaged the republic from the very beginning. See Thomas Di'Lorenzo's new book on Hamilton.

To Anonymous:

Do not grade me like your pupil, because I warrant I have some background on this subject that you do not. But I should say that I enjoy being challenged, just be respectful and don't underestimate the knowledge of your audience gleaned from one essay. If there are some "gaps" in the essay, I am assuming you have some understanding of the subject that I do not have to make explicit in the interest of space.

A. The world peace movement is largely a product of the hard left, fueled by KGB and world communist operations, such as those conducted by the verifiably communist, but now defunct World Peace Council.

Private property is a barrier to the infringement of the ultimate sovereignty of the individual. When a people control their own labor and property, they are not "compromised" by foreign power because they control their own destinies. The socialistic assumption that one is being "coerced" by having to work hard and produce in a competitive market, no matter how large, is lazy thinking.

B. Capitalism is not inherently monopolistic - this is another socialist myth. Large corporations that leverage economies of scale make a trade-off, one of local information and pliability to local markets. Competitors have an opportunity to cut in on large businesses by targeting local tastes or developing a local market, especially one for alternative goods.

In addition, those monopolies that seek to leverage their dominant market share by raising prices are inevitably inviting competition, either for direct rival companies, or alternative goods. An important consideration is the availability of credit, which should not be manipulated by a central bank, but by privately owned independent banks who can assess risk and credit-worthiness on a case by case basis, set their own interest rates, and raise their own capital, backed by actual goods such as specie, commodities, or real estate.

C. What is so "vague" about Keynesianism and Fabian socialism? People can do their own homework on this. Do I need to rehash the whole history of these movements, which are decidedly statist? The whole point in naming them was so people were aware of them and I was backing up my points without getting into fine detail.

D. What I wrote in that paragraph is actually a FACT and your rejection of it doesn't make it untrue. You can look in world history to pre-revolutionary France and the Weimar Republic for evidence of how demoralization leads directly to revolution. One might even go back to the Roman republic (proceeding from the tumult of the civil war and the atrocities of Marius and Sulla) and Athens and other city-states such as Corcyra prior to and during the Peloponnesian War (for evidence of "stasis").

Overall, I give your response a B. Thanks for chiming in. ;)

Reasonsjester said...

Eric:

It is not a right to use property in a way that violates the property of others, the safety of others, or the health of others. Private property is not a license to act however one wants. The sheer act of owning private property does not harm others. Taxing someone just for the fact of owning property is akin to taxing someone for being alive or for being a supposed member of an imagined community. This is not justice, this is an invitation to servitude and tyranny.

To describe the workings of the market economy, one must proceed from the premise that one needs to work and produce in order to live. This assumes that it is impossible to merely own property to live. One needs to enter into associations if one desires to live. One may trade labor or property in an exchange that benefits both sides; again, assuming that it is necessary to work to live.

Labor competition drives up wages, necessitating that one improve oneself by acquiring skills that others in society want and demand if one wants to live better.

Furthermore, those who acquire a lot of property, relatively speaking, must employ it wisely or risk losing it or having it deteriorate or decline in value. One cannot simply hoard capital to make money, it must be employed.

This necessitates a demand for work, to add value to property using labor, and often requiring other materials, to be traded and employed. The demand for labor redistributes wealth in a society based on efficiency and demand; private property is merely a dictate on who controls the allocation and distribution of resources and how they will be employed. Labor and property can either be traded on behalf of those individuals who demand them in an interrelated market or those politicians who seek to employ them for their own glory and political benefit.

When politicians effectively steal by taxing private property (this is actually a bit sticky - today's federal and state "income" taxes do not tax income in the older sense of profit, but instead tax the mere expenditure of labor to acquire income in order to sustain one's own life) and using it for their own political benefit and those of their clients, then it leads to the unintended consequence of "chilling" productivity and investment by disincentivizing the employment of one's labor for personal gain.

The economy as a whole then suffers; instead of the maximum number of people at any given point in time being employed in productive enterprise, they become wards of the state, effectively in the pocket of politicians and therefore sure votes. It is much easier to support politicians with a simple cast of the vote in a "democracy" than to find a job and work hard to support oneself. And if federal tax rates weren't so punitive, employment would be much closer to being full employment.

Local tax rates for demanded services, entered into by a sort of local contract of citizens, is one thing; confiscation of property by faceless, nameless others is quite another. One can tax commerce to protect commerce, that is quite different than violating property. I support a Fair Tax to carry out basic functions of government; a flat sales tax of ten percent is sufficient to carry out defense and the provision of law and order. This would at least prevent favoritism in the tax code, which can be exploited by politicians. Tax credits and penalties for industries would thus be ruled out.

Thank you for providing me the opportunity to expand. Sincerely, RJ

Eric said...

You make a salient point, and I find nothing in your latest response disagreeable. I hope you don't mind if I push the subject a little to the side -- because I think this country started with the premise behind most of what you're saying, but was challenged by events that necessitated an expansion of government.

In particular, there are many examples of individuals (or rather, specific groups of individuals) being systematically exploited by those with power. A list of examples:

- slaves
- child laborers
- black people in the Jim Crow era
- gays

Now, in each of this cases, the private exploitation of one group by another led to expansion of government, as government sought to rectify the problem.

My question to you is this: Do you think that when one group's use of private liberty harms another group's freedom, that that's a problem? And if you agree that it's a problem, how would you recommend it be solved if government were not to solve it?

[BTW, in pursuit of discussions like this, I tried to join Tea Party Nation, and they booted me within 20 minutes for no reason I could fathon. Before they booted me, one of the leaders there recommended your writing, which is why I'm here. So thank you for taking this seriously.]

Reasonsjester said...

No problem, Eric. I think your questions give occasion to an interesting discussion.

In my opinion, the only kind of rights are individual rights. You cannot bestow rights to concepts, such as "groups" or "classes."

The only measure for law is action. One's actions are the determinants of right and wrong, not thoughts or status.

Speech can be an act, by the way, if it precipitates "clear and present danger" (as Oliver Wendell Holmes put it).

One's actions should not cause demonstrable harm to another, or one is liable for criminal and civil damages. This includes property damage.

That's pretty much my basic view of law. Most of what I believe can be extrapolated out from those core tenets.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the grade on my comment. ;) I always like a little healthy competition....get it competition...capitalism,...lol. I have no doubt in your historical knowledge, but your critical thinking skills seem to be severely lacking, which damages the any practical attempt at limited government.

You seem to have taken a "capitalism can do no wrong" ideology, which in itself is way too unrealistic and idealistic.
World peace can and is in many cases the product of capitalism. there is little more I can do but point out the connection between economic integration and peace. And being that you love capitalism like a blow up doll, I can;t imagine why you blind yourself to the integration/uniformity of industrial culture created by modern capitalism. It's ok to admit this and doesn't mean you hate America.
I certainly wasn't saying that all large multi-national corporations are monopolies, but that monopolies often time produced the highest profit and thus were the point that corporations wanted to pursue, especially so in the golden age of industry in the late 1800s: Carnegie Steel, Rockefeller Oil ,etc..
The whole vague thing I can agree with you on. So be it if you want to mention Fabianism in passing. It just depends on your target audience. I think a more clear definition would have helped but a simple allusion for a more educated audience works too...why not.
I still think you are way too ideological in you "capitalism is perfect" mentality." Any time you have any idea of perfection in your mind, generally it means you stop questioning it altogether. Capitalism is not perfect, in many ways, but it seems to be the best economic system by a long shot. You need to open your mind to some criticism. Thinking that absolute capitalism is the somehow perfect solution to all of society's and politic's problems is too unrealistic. Yes it works very well, but capitalism has its problems. An absolute, un-questioning belief in capitalism seems to be ideological thinking at its finest.

Reasonsjester said...

Capitalism is not perfect, especially being that "capitalism" is a monolithic rubric employed by the left to subsume any economic system using currency. By this stretch, we might as well include the Soviet Union and China as capitalist countries, though they were horribly inefficient due to lack of pricing information.

But even if they were efficient, they would have been efficient due to compulsion and force, which is morally wrong. I am neither a nihilist nor a pragmatist in the ideological sense, and thus what may appear to you as over-confidence in a system, what I perceive is an excellent economic system that is necessarily engaged in by fallible human beings, is merely proceeding from moral first principles and applying them to reality. Thus:

1. A human being born into this world possesses his own body and has the right to exercise free will.

2. A human being possesses his own labor to the extent that he must employ it in order to support his own life.

3. A human being has unique talents and may develop skills as he sees fit.

4. A skill that is demanded by others should be compensated more than a skill that is not demanded.

5. A human being has the right to disregard the market and to choose not to develop those demanded skills, but at the opportunity cost of foregone higher wages.

6. This system necessarily leads to income disparity, but those who improve themselves have the opportunity for upward mobility.

7. Every system is susceptible to corruption without those participating in the system holding to values that reinforce it.

8. The values of capitalism and socialism are directly at odds; the former holds that the individual has ultimate sovereignty over his own life, though he is still a member of the economy and society and must be responsive to that reality by taking individual responsibility; the latter holds that the "community" (which is code for elites, see Michels' Iron Low of Oligarchy, e.g.) has authority over the individual, and may utilize and dispose of him or her as "it" wishes.

The values of capitalism and socialism are fundamentally at odds with one another.

The crux of the debate revolves around power and who has the right to wield it - the individual and the market in a dynamic, competitive, negotiable forum of interrelated bargaining, or the political class of the state usurping judgment for its economic wards, to be manipulated like numbers in a statistical formula.

For me, the latter, despite all appearances, is not reasonable. It is manipulative and usurps the individual's capacity for self-government; ultimately degrading the citizens into a society of sheep - demoralized, alienated, and anomic.

A. "And being that you love capitalism like a blow up doll, I can;t imagine why you blind yourself to the integration/uniformity of industrial culture created by modern capitalism."

What about the "industrial culture" and ideological conformity of communist countries?

By the way, don't accuse me of lacking critical thinking skills. Anyone can toe the leftist line. I get it. I reject it. I have good reasons to be hostile to modern liberalism aka progressivism aka socialism, and my own well-thought out worldview that I worked extremely hard to develop and I am still developing. I am not closed-minded because I exercise judgment. Critical thinking requires judgment, and that is what I perceive to be lacking on the left and in the culture in general. The left confuses judgment with rigidity; it is a fatal conceit.

You say that capitalism seems to be the best economic system, but for me it is not a matter of ranking preferences. You also imply that I am too ideological, and thus this damages an appeal to limited government. What limits government is capitalism, not democracy or any other socialist-friendly construct. That is the point. Those who think my life and property are the playthings of the government, or the majority, or the minority, in any proportion, are the extremists, not me.

Anonymous said...

I think I see where you're going with your definition of capitalism. As in capitalism isn't really capitalism unless it's completely free market capitalism. All other economic systems aren't really capitalism, but are just called that by others. That's the line of thought you're taking, right?
Call it what you will, but there is a certain economic uniformity to industrialization based on how economics work naturally. What I'm getting at is that the USSR was certainly not free market capitalist, but was most definitely industrialized. Socialism can indeed create industrialization, it just does so at the cost of freedom, where free market capitalism does not. Look at the forced industrialization policies of Stalin and Mao (5-year plans, great leap forward) and you'll see they really were creating an industrial economy, giving them the international military and political power that comes with being an industrialized nation. Because in the modern world industrialization means power. So then the question is: what is the difference between capitalism and industrialization?
Certainly free market capitalism created industry, but as I just showed it was not the only way to do so. "Industrialization" is a better the blanket term for modern economies rather than "capitalism," but you can have a blanket term. I think that is what you're getting at, and why you don't like "capitalism" being associated with Russia and others. Socialism is an industrial system yes, but not a capitalist one (if we are defining capitalism as solely free market). Nevertheless, their mutual ties to industrialization does mean they have something in common, and can be studied together, even if they cannot be implemented in reality together. I think we can find agreement on that...if we can, there may be hope for you yet, lol. :)

Don't get caught up too much in judgment. It is important, but if pushed too far it can create a very dualistic, black/white view of the world. This is right, this is wrong and there is nothing in the middle. When in fact the majority of existence is in the middle. There are very few absolute truths and most things have a certain measure of truth in them. I can accept certain aspects of an idea, without judging it as absolutely true or absolutely false. Once you begin to act on absolute judgment you begin to blind yourself to anything that may contradict that judgment. Judgment is an important tool, but it is also a cornerstone of ideological thinking. People are very slow and stubborn to change a judgment. A perception is much easier to change (which yes can lead to too much change too, I get that too). Again, middle ground. It's there. Politics, economics, society, human nature are all complex things. If you're sure you've got the answer all wrapped up in few key judgments, then you haven't questioned yourself enough.

Reasonsjester said...

Ahh, the infamous "law of the excluded middle"! You tipped your hand with this one, my friend. Again, I am not a pragmatist. I don't believe my life belongs to "society" or the government when I am born into this world, not even a little bit. I live to achieve my potential to the greatest extent that I can, and not dismissing that other people exist and that I should interact with them justly.

In my view, coercion of others to do what is against their will and to force them to refrain from behavior that does not directly harm the lives of others is illegitimate. Completely illegitimate. Not partially illegitimate. I don't believe in a "little bit of tyranny" for the supposed "common good."

I know the sophistry of academe much better than you think. In my view, it is the people who are too lazy minded to define in their minds an ontology, epistemology, and ethics who are unreasonable, not those extremists who have fought hard to survey the intellectual terrain and to choose sides. Without such clarity of vision, true "critical thinking" is impossible. If this helps, let me expand:

1. Reality is reality. A = A.

2. There is cause and effect.

3. There is a human nature; thus history is not irrelevant.

4. Our minds interact with material reality, our thoughts are not determined by it.

5. History is not shaped by metaphysical dialectics; A = A, and change is the result of cause and effect.

6. Formal logic is not obsolete.

7. There are universal truths; including physical laws, such as scarcity, and the associated laws of conservation of matter, and energy.

I don't believe that reality is an arbitrary process of random fluctuations of matter or consciousness. I don't believe our minds are prostrate before reality; we can and do know and interact with reality using sense-data and organize it using rationality.

Why don't you defend your views, for a change? What is the nature of reality? How do we know reality, or do we not know it? What is truth, or is there no such thing as truth? Let's see how well critical theory holds up when flipped on its head.

Anonymous said...

If you are not a pragmatist, then you are an ideologue. There is nothing else. Ideological thinking was at the core of the totalitarian movements both Russia and Germany. So you must love Hitler. Go, logic, go!!! :)

Rationality certainly has its place, as does formal logic. But they do not explain 100% of reality. Human beings have a subjective self-aware existence that is different from the objective rationality of the natural world. The human-only world, things that are solely the creation of human interaction (society and politics) cannot have that same kind of objectivity. A tree is a tree and it is made of wood. Its objective natural existence does not change. But if I shape that tree into a gavel for a judge, then its objective qualities are now secondary to its subjective qualities. Its still just a piece of wood, and to an outsider with no knowledge of law, it still is just that. But to those who understand its subjective use and its symbolism, it means power, law, and justice.

Yet there is randomness to existence. Hitler's art wasn't that good. Columbus landed in the Caribbean and not in Virginia. I was born in the United States and not China. Also, we can and do organize sense data irrationally. Many millions of years ago some matter came together as a comet and now circles the earth every 75 or so years. 2000 years ago that comet was a god, people based beliefs around it, now just its a chunk of ice (and a song, lol). Did it's objective existence ever change? No. Did its subjective existence change? Of course.

There is order to the man-made world that we can discover, but it can never have the absolute certainty of the objective world. The order we discover I would call existential truths. That history and experience have shown them to be generally true (oh no, that sounds like relativism, better say always true, because if they're not absolute true then its pointless) in the man-made world (don't kill each other, etc...). Existential truths form the backbone of the man-made world of society and politics, but they can and do change as mankind itself changes over time. They are also violated many times by that same man-made world. Do not kill, unless the idea of racial superiority (Aryan versus Jew) or socio-economic injustice (bourgeois versus proletariat) or any other man-made absolute truths (Jesus was the son of God...or Muhammad was Allah's prophet) get in the way. Then you can rationalize your decision based on your perception of reality, which appears to you as total objectivity.

Objectivity and subjectivity can and do exist (unlike capitalism and socialism, we just slightly off topic, lol). A=A, but in the world of humans our subjective definition of A can change dramatically, even if its objective existence does not. Thus A can actually equal not-A. Don't call it metaphysical dialectics, or even really existential dialectics. Dialectics implies determinism. It does not mean that we have to organize into a communist state under a totalitarian dictator, but it can if we so choose (which Russia and China did choose). To say it had to occur that way though, because of objective truths would be no different than the people organized it themselves. Horray...we've come full circle from you calling me a totalitarian to me calling you a totalitarian. (I love the faded Obama images mixed in with Stalin and Mao at the top of the page, clearly objective). How about neither of us are really Nazi-lovers and there actually is a middle ground where most people exist.

Reasonsjester said...

Let me just proceed along the line of some general objections.

1. Not all ideologies are totalitarian.

2. All totalitarian ideologies are collectivist.

3. An ideology of individual freedom cannot be totalitarian.

4. When individuals determine their own ideologies in a free society, then there is no overriding totalitarian ideology.

5. A free society is not totalitarian, it is the opposite of totalitarian.

6. Subjectivism is not knowledge of means and ends and is not equivalent to sentimentality.

7. As agents with our own consciousness of self and other, our self-awareness does not contradict or nullify logic.

8. Logic is based on a specific understanding of reality, that is, the law of non-contradiction.

9. This reality exists independently of agents; their consciousness can only probe and understand it, not determine it.

10. In order for human life to exist, people must learn to live within the bounds of objective reality.

11. Sentimentality can inform the urgency of action, but it cannot determine the content of thought that gives rise to rational action.

12. Sentimentality without rationality entails the collapse of civilization; emotions in and of themselves cannot provide food, build shelter, invent, innovate, or administer justice.

13. Rationality is not equivalent to destructive selfishness.

14. Self-interested rationality holds that is in the interest of the individual to respect the rights of others, as well as carry out one's own duty to provide for oneself.

15. Individual responsibility is the price of freedom.

16. It is perfectly appropriate to group Obama with other Marxists, despite his pretensions to "moderation" that only weak-minded Obama groupies and pasty minded elitists buy into.

Anonymous said...

Too long to fit in just one post.

1. Not all ideologies are totalitarian.
*True. They are not all politically totalitarian, but ideologies are all about totality and often times produce closed logical systems. They take first principles as absolute truths and then proceed from there rationally (or logically would be a better term...ideo LOGIC al) ordering the world around them. On the whole, this thinking is very useful and does indeed give us our understanding of the objective world. But because first principles are absolutes, they are not subject to change. Never is this more apparent than in the subjective world of human interaction...again things that simply would not exist without humanity...in other words society and politics. In order to maintain the validity of first principles in the subjective world they become beliefs. Then the logical system attempts to maintain those beliefs to protect the subjective self-identity of its believers. Subjective self-identity overtakes objective reality. Objective reality is distorted and the distortions are taken as fact so they can be logically placed in the system of thought. Open ideological systems are few and far between, and all open ideological system recognize some level of subjectivity and relativity.

2. All totalitarian ideologies are collectivist.
*Yeah I can see that. See my response to #4 though.

3. An ideology of individual freedom cannot be totalitarian.
*An ideology of individual freedom pushed to its logical extreme is anarchy. Thus, there has to be some practicality to government to allow it to co-exist with individual freedom. Just a side a note that Marx himself thought the need for the state would vanish as well. Just saying, lol.

4.When individuals determine their own ideologies in a free society, then there is no overriding totalitarian ideology.
*Individuals don't live isolated from each other. They live with and influence each other on a daily basis. The ideology of the isolated individual in unrealistic. When many individuals find agreement in an idea, it becomes a collective idea, or even collective belief. Collective beliefs may be individually held, but they also produce collective action based on shared principles. This is different from actual ideas that talk about the collective good ("collectivist" like you said). These are simply collective based on the fact that they are shared by a large group of people and shape that groups' collective action. Using to term collective here may be a bit confusing but I can;t think of another word to describe it. I think you'll see where I'm going. Ideologies are great examples of collective beliefs, and in a mass society, like the modern world, they can be extremely coercive to the individual. Modern mass ideological thinking is collectivist that sense, in that it seeks to justify to individually held beliefs of a mass society. This was a key factor in creating totalitarianism in the 1900s.

5. A free society is not totalitarian, it is the opposite of totalitarian.
*Yes, though free societies have to be free societies in the modern world, and totalitarianism was a modern mass society phenomenon. Free societies and totalitarianism will indeed share some things simply by both being products of modern mass society.

6.Subjectivism is not knowledge of means and ends and is not equivalent to sentimentality.
*Sentimentality is a something I don't hear that often...do you mean emotional thinking by it? Subjectivity is not completely emotional no, but it certainly entails are idea of emotion. Means to end thinking is not subjective, no, it is rational/logical thinking and can be abused by ideological thinking when subjectivity is ignored, as I just showed.

It's going to take a few posts to fit everything. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

7. As agents with our own consciousness of self and other, our self-awareness does not contradict or nullify logic.
*No it does not, but we are more than just logical creatures. We are irrational and illogical at times. Furthermore, we have unconscious needs and desires that effect our choices in ways we cannot anticipate or derive logically. Are we to throw out the unconscious altogether because it does not conform to logic?

8.Logic is based on a specific understanding of reality, that is, the law of non-contradiction.
*Yes, it is a specific understanding of reality, not a universal understanding of reality. So it alone cannot explain existence, and it cannot guide all action.

9.This reality exists independently of agents; their consciousness can only probe and understand it, not determine it.
*Objective reality yes. But not subjective reality or inter-subjective reality. Society and politics exist both outside AND inside the individual. It does not have to be one or the other. Agents actively change and determine subjective reality.

10. In order for human life to exist, people must learn to live within the bounds of objective reality.
*Yes, but they cannot deny their own subjectivity in making the man-made world of society and politics, or they will be dominated by that subjectivity in the guise of objectivity.

11. Sentimentality can inform the urgency of action, but it cannot determine the content of thought that gives rise to rational action.
*Again. Is all action inherently rational? Is our will-power wholly rational? I say no. The will can be both rational and irrational. It is not an extension of rational thought, but something independent in the mind. It has the ability for sentimental action and rational action.

12.Sentimentality without rationality entails the collapse of civilization; emotions in and of themselves cannot provide food, build shelter, invent, innovate, or administer justice.
*Sure. That's why you need both rationality and sentimentality in society and politics (yes in politics). Not just one.

13. Rationality is not equivalent to destructive selfishness.
*Rationality, as I see it, has no concept of subjective individuality, and ultimately no concept of humanity. In terms of pure logic, no individual is different from the next. Rationality has to have some concept of the whole, within which to place the individual. That whole becomes an anonymous universality, mankind as a whole. There is nothing distinct in its aggregate parts, only the ability of each logically place themselves within the whole (which they all do in the same rational manner).

14.Self-interested rationality holds that is in the interest of the individual to respect the rights of others, as well as carry out one's own duty to provide for oneself.
*Not always. It can very much be in my rational self-interest to cheat, lie, and use you for my own personal gain if I think it will cause me no harm. It may even be necessary to protect my own self-interest, as simple as basic survival. Giving up self-interest to protect the self-interest of others is not rational at all. If self-interest is to include a thought of others, then it is now venturing into the realm of subjectivity. Then it is more reasonable self-interest, that is one that acknowledges the subjectivity of myself and the Other, while still allowing for rational self-interest as well. Pure self-interested rationality has no concept of the humanity of the Other, only its use or disuse in achieving a desired end.

15. Individual responsibility is the price of freedom.
*Absolutely, lol....I mean relatively, :) That sounds a lot like existentialism though, be careful or you might end up talking like Nietzsche and Sartre, lol.

Anonymous said...

16. It is perfectly appropriate to group Obama with other Marxists, despite his pretensions to "moderation" that only weak-minded Obama groupies and pasty minded elitists buy into.
*Not really. He is more Marxist than you, but that's not too hard for anyone to pull off. By that standard, many more of world leaders would should be included in those pictures. Japan, Germany, England, Canada. But do you really think England is about to descend into a totalitarian state? Tony Blair was from the Labor!!! Party and England outlaws firearms. Where's Tony next to Mao? Is Angela Merkel the next Hitler? Why not? The German government funds the majority of its health care. I want to see her up there too. Its a scare tactic to play to the idiots. Oh no Mao and Stalin..we can't have that..I'm scared. Fear is the most irrational motivator of all for thought and action. Not quite the best way to convince people to behave rationally. However, it is the best way to convince people to endorse an ideology and watch them irrationally protect it. I would expect more from someone with as much intelligence as you. That is my biggest criticism of the Tea Party movement. It overshadows the practicality of promoting limited government by using fear-mongering. Obamacare equals Mao, it will kill you with death panels, be afraid. When really Obamacare isn't any worse than the health care plans of many other nations, who are all a far cry from totalitarian regimes. Can;t wait for Canadian totalitarianism. I never liked Canada anyway. Your argument is no longer taken seriously, certainly not the left, because it is dismissed as ideological nonsense. Even though a practical opposition to Obamacare and an appeal to limited government does have a whole lot of merit. Merit that needs to practically implemented, not created out of an ideological frenzy.

Overall we can agree on a lot, but you have taken a very narrow view of existence and reality. That is why most of my answers were "yes, but..." I can agree with your conclusions, but not as absolutes. Take a step back and escape your monolithic view.