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mathewjgano
06-09-2009, 10:06 AM
I would like to appologize up front for inviting political discourse. :D
...But, I was hoping folks more learned than I would be willing to offer their insights into the nature of Private and Government entities and their qualifications for running various programs. It seems to me there are two basic arguments going on in politics today: that the government should do more and that the government should do less. In cases where the government should do less it's often suggested that private enterprise is the better option. My own view is that the history of private enterprise is just as bad as that of the government so it's a wash either way: damned if you do; damned if you don't. In either case we're stuck with individuals who're more interested in self than in other (i.e. not-socially minded). I think of people like JP Morgan and don't see much difference between him and Boss Tweed. Both were self-centered and the issue of how in touch they were with the people in their care is rendered moot by the fact that they didn't seem to care unless it suited them. One was a business tycoon, the other a professional politician. Add to this the fact that businesses regularly worked their workers as hard as they possibly could get away with and I'm very surprised when I hear how "natural" the business world is at managing programs geared toward the wellfare of society. Businesses, it seems to me, are concerned with money first, trade second, and people last. The central issue behind this is the "capital" idea that profit must be continuous and that more is always better than less. This leads to value shaving by companies (e.g. smaller product for the same price; more price for the same product), corner-cutting of standards, etc.
Government isn't exactly any better. As a nexus of power, it attracts the worst kind of people...of course so does the business world. So first my question for those who favor private enterprise over government is, in light of what I've just described, "why?"
Secondly, my question is how we as a society can help fight selfish interferance in the lives of others? This last question might be better viewed in the context of events like Times Beach. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Times_Beach,_Missouri)

Now, I know my post here may sound biased against "business," but I assure you I am all for private enterprise...I just see it as falling under the same problems as anything else with people in it so I'm confused when I hear people suggest privatizing wellfare, etc.
Anyhoo, I hope someone will shed some light on the subject for me.
Thank you,
Matt

mathewjgano
06-09-2009, 11:43 AM
Edit: I'm not sure if my J P Morgan reference is as accurate as I thought (rereading some things:D), but hopefully the point is still intact.

mathewjgano
06-10-2009, 02:16 PM
maybe less is more...
A few questions:
How is the large-scale private sector better than the large-scale government sector? If the private sector is better at managing public works than the government, why not make all public works privatized and form a corporation (or a union of incorporated businesses) instead of continuing the republic?
Sincerely,
Matthew

lbb
06-11-2009, 10:38 AM
Matthew, your questions are like someone walking into a hardware store and saying, "What's the best tool in here?" Best at what?

mathewjgano
06-11-2009, 11:15 AM
Matthew, your questions are like someone walking into a hardware store and saying, "What's the best tool in here?" Best at what?

Thank you! I guess I did leave out the context. I probably didn't make that very clear in my first post either.
I guess what I mean to ask is more along the lines of "what's the best way to use your favorite tool?" or, "what do you like least about your least favorite tool?" In the case of private contractors vs. direct government involvement (a socialist dilema, by many people's reckoning), I regularly hear people make the claim that the government shouldn't take part in things like national health care because they'll just mess it up. They then often suggest businesses would be better managers of these same programs. I don't see why. So if the tools are "socialism" and "capitalism," I'd like to hear some opinions on how these tools/systems are good or bad for the job of potentially running some given program. I don't think one is naturally better than the other, so I was trying to leave the topic as open-ended as possible.
Does that make more sense?
Thanks again,
Matt

lbb
06-11-2009, 02:20 PM
Eh. My preferred tool is Odonian anarchism.

mathewjgano
06-11-2009, 03:45 PM
Eh. My preferred tool is Odonian anarchism.

And...why is that? (not that I'm against "...cooperation, solidarity, and mutual aid."):D
The point of the question isn't just to find the name of the tool.

lbb
06-11-2009, 09:39 PM
And...why is that? (not that I'm against "...cooperation, solidarity, and mutual aid."):D
The point of the question isn't just to find the name of the tool.

Because it has a stronger foundation than either capitalism or a classic socialist system. Because it addresses real problems rather than imaginary ones. Because, ultimately, it's the only way to survive.

Michael Varin
06-12-2009, 06:05 AM
Hello Matthew,

I appreciate your question and see nothing wrong with asking it as you did. It is very broad. I doubt I can fully address it in one post, but maybe it can spark a useful discussion.

First let's establish some common ground. When I use the term "capitalism" I am speaking about a free and open market. This is not what everyone has in mind when they use that term. It is important to distinguish between "private enterprise" and "free enterprise." As it stands, many "private" industries seek to use government force to create or maintain a cartel.

Also, we must distinguish between profits that come from open competition in the market and profits that come from political influence.

The main reason the free-market is superior to government boils down to one word -- coercion. No matter how greedy or self-interested a businessman is he cannot force you to buy his product without the assistance of the government.

Also crucial is the fact that government is not affected by profit and loss. Profit and loss assure that only businesses that meet the needs of consumers survive. It is a means of evaluating which products are desired and who can best provide them. The government has the power to tax and/or inflate the money supply so profit/loss means nothing to them. Because government does not depend on this there is no way to properly allocate resources.

On a more philosophical note, you must ask, who owns you?

There are only three answers:
1. You own yourself;
2. Someone else owns you;
3. Everyone owns everyone else in equal proportion.

Only answer #1 is acceptable. Life, liberty, and property are what defines man. Capitalism is the only economic system that is compatible with private property ownership.

Hopefully, this is a starting point. If you have specific questions, I'd be happy to discuss those as well.

dps
06-12-2009, 07:41 AM
Eh. My preferred tool is Odonian anarchism.

The definition of Odanian anarchism seems to be an oxymoron. How many Odanistic societies exist or have existed?

http://dictionary.babylon.com/Odonianism

Hainish Encyclopedia
An anarchistic movement named after its founder, Laia Aseio Odo. Odonianism is the intellectual anarchism - not the bomb-in-the-pocket stuff, which is really just terrorism given a nice name, and not the social-Darwinist economic ''libertarianism'' of the far right.

This type of anarchy is about cooperation, solidarity, and mutual aid. The principal target is the totalitarian state, whether it's socialist or capitalist.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anarchy

1 a: absence of government b: a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority c: a utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government 2 a: absence or denial of any authority or established order b: absence of order : disorder <not manicured plots but a wild anarchy of nature Israel Shenker>3: anarchism

David

Karo
06-12-2009, 08:03 AM
The definition of Odanian anarchism seems to be an oxymoron. How many Odanistic societies exist or have existed?

http://dictionary.babylon.com/Odonianism

Hainish Encyclopedia
An anarchistic movement named after its founder, Laia Aseio Odo. Odonianism is the intellectual anarchism - not the bomb-in-the-pocket stuff, which is really just terrorism given a nice name, and not the social-Darwinist economic ''libertarianism'' of the far right.

This type of anarchy is about cooperation, solidarity, and mutual aid. The principal target is the totalitarian state, whether it's socialist or capitalist.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anarchy

1 a: absence of government b: a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority c: a utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government 2 a: absence or denial of any authority or established order b: absence of order : disorder <not manicured plots but a wild anarchy of nature Israel Shenker>3: anarchism

David

David,

Odonian anarchism is a political system from Ursula LeGuin's book "The Dispossessed" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dispossessed). So no such societies actually exist. To me Odonian anarchism always looked like what communism was supposed to be in theory, a sort of ideal, but it would also be non-viable in practice for the same reasons communism failed - you can't eradicate human greedy and selfish nature ;)

In the book, it seems the Odonian society on Annares manages to function mostly because there's so few resources and so much hardship that it's impossible be greedy and accumulate wealth - there just isn't anything to accumulate.

Karo

Mike Sigman
06-13-2009, 05:58 PM
To me Odonian anarchism always looked like what communism was supposed to be in theory, a sort of ideal, but it would also be non-viable in practice for the same reasons communism failed - you can't eradicate human greedy and selfish nature ;)
When you look at Man in the same light as any other animal that has developed viable survival mechanisms via evolution, "greedy and selfish" is probably not a phrase a clinical anthropologist would use. The species has been successful when it competes; when it stops competing (as some people in some present societies would like to do), it is the beginning of the end.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

lbb
06-13-2009, 07:37 PM
Odonian anarchism is a political system from Ursula LeGuin's book "The Dispossessed" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dispossessed). So no such societies actually exist. To me Odonian anarchism always looked like what communism was supposed to be in theory, a sort of ideal, but it would also be non-viable in practice for the same reasons communism failed - you can't eradicate human greedy and selfish nature ;)

Ah yes, the classical glib attempt of the right to discredit any possibility of cooperation or collective action. Those who believe a thing is not possible should not get in the way of those who are doing it.

Mike Sigman
06-13-2009, 07:43 PM
Ah yes, the classical glib attempt of the right to discredit any possibility of cooperation or collective action. Those who believe a thing is not possible should not get in the way of those who are doing it.Can you point me to "those who are doing it" successfully, please?

Regards,

Mike

lbb
06-14-2009, 07:22 AM
Can you point me to "those who are doing it" successfully, please?

Why would I want to? I don't need to prove anything to you, Mike. On the contrary, social darwinistic right-wing ideologies have proven their lack of functionality; they "work" fine only if you ignore the underclass, or tell yourself lies about how everyone who isn't making it is a self-created failure. That reality alone is sufficient reason to try something else; it's not necessary to provide a thirty-year double-blind case study "proving" that it works in order to justify making the attempt.

dps
06-14-2009, 08:19 AM
I would like to appologize up front for inviting political discourse. :D
...But, I was hoping folks more learned than I would be willing to offer their insights into the nature of Private and Government entities and their qualifications for running various programs.

Now, I know my post here may sound biased against "business," but I assure you I am all for private enterprise...I just see it as falling under the same problems as anything else with people in it so I'm confused when I hear people suggest privatizing wellfare, etc.
Anyhoo, I hope someone will shed some light on the subject for me.
Thank you,
Matt

Before any discussion you need to define what the fundamental purpose of government and business are and their motivations.

Using wikipedia as a start:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government#Expanded_roles_for_government

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business

A government is a system set up by the community to provide security and public order and a business is an individual or individuals that provide goods and services for financial gain.

A government is mainly financed by taxes on the individuals and businesses in the community and a business is financed by the individuals who own the business by risking their individual worth

Using the government and businesses in the United States as models, which system would do a better job providing welfare?

David

Mike Sigman
06-14-2009, 09:01 AM
Why would I want to? I don't need to prove anything to you, Mike. I just asked a question, not for you to "prove" anything, Mary. On the contrary, social darwinistic right-wing ideologies have proven their lack of functionality; they "work" fine only if you ignore the underclass, or tell yourself lies about how everyone who isn't making it is a self-created failure. That reality alone is sufficient reason to try something else; it's not necessary to provide a thirty-year double-blind case study "proving" that it works in order to justify making the attempt.My point was that there is not a perfect system (anywhere) available and if you look for something perfect where people don't act and react like normal rats in a matrix, you're probably looking for a pipe dream that doesn't exist.

And "underclass"? Obama was part of the "underclass". There is no such thing as a fixed group of people who are either the "underclass" or the "rich".... there is great shifting in and out of both of those groups. Sure if someone makes no effort to do anything he probably doesn't go anywhere... but should that change? Probably not. Looking for the perfect government for an imperfect animal is probably a pipe-dream, regardless of the fact that so many liberal-arts colleges still teach about it. It's a religion, just like any other religion; an opiate to be fiercely defended whether it makes any practical sense of not. ;)))))

Mike

Karo
06-14-2009, 10:23 AM
When you look at Man in the same light as any other animal that has developed viable survival mechanisms via evolution, "greedy and selfish" is probably not a phrase a clinical anthropologist would use. The species has been successful when it competes; when it stops competing (as some people in some present societies would like to do), it is the beginning of the end.

Mike Sigman

(1) I'm not a clinical anthropologist;
(2) I never said there's anything wrong with being greedy and selfish, just that it's human nature.

It has evolved as a strategy, therefore it must be working. So hey, it means I agree with you. :D

Karo

Karo
06-14-2009, 10:30 AM
Ah yes, the classical glib attempt of the right to discredit any possibility of cooperation or collective action. Those who believe a thing is not possible should not get in the way of those who are doing it.

No, just an opinion of someone born and raised in a socialist country, and has seen it from the inside. With all the big ideals of cooperation and collective action on its proclamations and monuments, and the nitty gritty ugly reality in the streets.

The ideals are nice, the people make it less so.

Karo

mathewjgano
06-14-2009, 11:34 AM
The main reason the free-market is superior to government boils down to one word -- coercion. No matter how greedy or self-interested a businessman is he cannot force you to buy his product without the assistance of the government.
Certainly the government is more powerful than most businessmen...our government, at least. That, combined with their usual role of central authority, generally puts them in the greatest position to coerce...for good and bad...and I agree this is the reason governments deserve the greatest scrutiny. I do not think businessmen wouldn't be able to achieve this position de facto, however. I think of the old business models like the East India Trading Company and I don't see them as much different than relatively smaller governments. Indeed they were supported by the British government, but once their power was established in other parts of the globe, they were, de facto, the local governing body and did indeed coerce the locals into all kinds of stuff. All coersion needs is the help of some large source of power, and as long as there are enough people or resources, a businessman could hypothetically force me to buy something at gun-point (literally or figuratively).
I realize I'm changing the context a little. I don't mean to say this is what will happen in America, but I think it serves as a good example of why there might be good call for placing checks and balances on businesses as well as governments.

On a more philosophical note, you must ask, who owns you?

There are only three answers:
1. You own yourself;
2. Someone else owns you;
3. Everyone owns everyone else in equal proportion.

Only answer #1 is acceptable.
I completely agree.

Life, liberty, and property are what defines man.
I'm not sure I agree. I don't see how property defines us. I see "property" as resource and I do hold the value of the whole as being generally greater than its parts, so I sympathize with the socialist agenda of sharing wealth. To what extent, however, I have no clear idea.
I'm not satisfied with my post here, but I'll toss it out there to see what you have to say about it so far. I haven't been studying these things much lately so my head is full of half-formed ideas: sorry for that and thank you for sharing your thoughts!
Take care,
Matt

mathewjgano
06-14-2009, 12:15 PM
When you look at Man in the same light as any other animal that has developed viable survival mechanisms via evolution, "greedy and selfish" is probably not a phrase a clinical anthropologist would use. The species has been successful when it competes; when it stops competing (as some people in some present societies would like to do), it is the beginning of the end.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

I tend to view Man this way (as any other animal), and while I am not an anthropologist, I think "greedy and selfish" aren't necessarily bad descriptions. They're not behaviorally oriented though, which is what most science is concerned with...as I understand it, anyway.
I'm not sure competition has everything to do with success. Competition is a way of measuring relative success...and again I'm wondering if we're sharing the same exact idea of competition, but my understanding is that species are successful (i.e. live) when they have their needed resources and I don't see competition as required for that. The value of competition, as I see it, is the stimulus it provides. Animals tend to get fat and lazy when everything is easily attained and competition provides a counterbalance to that principle. The nice thing about being creatures with a highly developed metacognitive ability is that we can provide our own (as opposed to external forces like a new predator being introduced into the system) stimulus so that when we have everything we need, we don't just sit back and atrophe; we can be proactive.
Competition is, per my admittedly meager understanding, a convenient term because it reduces everything to winners and losers. Extinction comes about through competition just as much as success and just because something failed at competition doesn't mean it doesn't have redeeming value. If anything I would argue it's a great potential of wasted resource whenever something goes extinct. Sometimes it's simply unavoidable, but sometimes not, which reinforces to me the idea that competition isn't the be-all-end-all of measuring value or potential value.
As this relates to economics and political power, I don't think competition is always the healthiest choice. If it's not always the best choice, then it's not necessarily the beginning of the end when non-competitive methods are introduced.
Take care,
Matt

mathewjgano
06-14-2009, 12:33 PM
...there is great shifting in and out of both of the [rich and poor].
It seems to me it's harder to "fall" to a tough level when you are relatively rich than when relatively poor. I take from this the idea that simply being rich creates an unbalanced field...that is to say, when you have vast pools of resources under the control of relatively few, regardless of how they got it, it's more difficult for the new chap on the scene to attain the same level of success. Does that make logical sense? I mean, in a finite system, which I presume we basically live in, there's only so much pie that can go around.

Mike Sigman
06-14-2009, 02:04 PM
I take from this the idea that simply being rich creates an unbalanced field...that is to say, when you have vast pools of resources under the control of relatively few, regardless of how they got it, it's more difficult for the new chap on the scene to attain the same level of success. Does that make logical sense? I mean, in a finite system, which I presume we basically live in, there's only so much pie that can go around.There's a saying that is fairly apt in the broad sense: "Money only last 3 generations". If you look around, it's surprisingly true. Grandad busts his butt and makes a lot of money and he spoils Junior (in too many cases) and Junior doesn't become a hard worker, but Junior *really* spoils the grandson, who becomes worthless and dribbles the rest of the money away. U.S. society is made up of too many Juniors and Juniors' progeny... and look at what's happening. That's why you have cycles of civilizations. "Decadent West" is actually a pretty appropriate term that Russia, China, and others called us during the Cold War.

Basically it all boils down to the fact that the people who don't or can't compete don't do too well, ultimately. And that's exactly what Mother Nature wants in terms of who is going to survive. If you stifle competition you make an artificial environment that never works in reality. Nice to have all these dreams about us being superior beings, but we're still just animals driven by animal needs. Why pretend otherwise, except as some form of conceit? ;)

BTW, I know it's a trope, but a number of people over the generations have observed that if you took all the wealth in the world and divided it equally among the population, in 5-10 years we'd be back to only a few having most of the wealth. That's actually a good thing for the species, as long as everyone is given a chance to compete. ;)

Mike

David Orange
06-14-2009, 05:41 PM
Basically it all boils down to the fact that the people who don't or can't compete don't do too well, ultimately.

What you really mean is that those who "compete" best "do" best, isn't it?

But is it really a matter of competition when it comes to making money?

Isn't it also a matter of "moral limits"?

For instance, the entertainer who will cross any moral line to get an audience? Is that "competition" or some kind of sinking to any low?

Biting heads off living animals onstage? Is that competition or just lacking any boundaries of decency?

So cigarette companies advertise their products directly to children and call it "competing". But the bottom line is that they are willing to market addiction to children for the bottom line. That's very different from "competing".

David

David Orange
06-14-2009, 05:52 PM
...a number of people over the generations have observed that if you took all the wealth in the world and divided it equally among the population, in 5-10 years we'd be back to only a few having most of the wealth. That's actually a good thing for the species, as long as everyone is given a chance to compete. ;)

Back in my old college--New College, at the University of Alabama--I had a reputation for "creative behavior" in our seminars. With the professor's collusion (and a gun borrowed from a University police officer [1974]), I held one seminar hostage and set off a firecracker "bomb" to illustrate what it means to "make war" on people who don't agree with you.

In another seminar, I arrived early and piled all the chairs in one corner of the room, behind a table, on top of which I sat.

There were about 20 people in the class, so I represented about 5% of the total population, but I, in fact, "owned" 100% of the chairs.

One person decided he was just going to get himself a chair, but as he approached, I dissuaded him by personal bearing and he went back and stood with all the other students and we conducted the seminar that day with me sitting on the table, owning all the chairs, and everyone else standing.

So was that "competition," really? I got there first and took what had been provided for all, to use for the satisfaction of my self.

Likewise, those who "have" simply got to the goods (that were provided for all) and commandeered them. The super wealthy are simply the earliest robbers, setting up the social structure specifically to maintain their gain and advantage. Sure, their ranks change, but only marginally. There is a core that endures while people on the fringes move in and out. The core endures.

David

Mike Sigman
06-14-2009, 06:15 PM
What you really mean is that those who "compete" best "do" best, isn't it? Generally and historically, that's true not only among humans but among most animal species. But is it really a matter of competition when it comes to making money? What is "making money"? Do you mean that the person who earns more gets more chicks, better food, higher status because of his money, and so on? Er.... in the historical view this is unfortunately true. Would you like to suggest that the "weak will inherit the earth" or something feel-good like that? Go look at your successful, wealthy, well-fed, etc., business people and tell me that they are the weak or meek. Notice that in both western and asian history the power of the wealthy merchants always comes to fore. Well,... and corrupt governement officials, who, it could be argued, are good at making suckers of the people who believe in the ideology of "equality". ;)
Isn't it also a matter of "moral limits"?

For instance, the entertainer who will cross any moral line to get an audience? Is that "competition" or some kind of sinking to any low? You mean like in David Letterman's comments about Sarah Palin's daughter? I dunno... he gets good ratings, controversy, etc., and therefore lots of money. Show me the money from your ideas. In terms of breeding/status competition, yes, he makes a good argument. Biting heads off living animals onstage? Is that competition or just lacking any boundaries of decency? I think it's very fair of you to constantly use known liberals as exemplars of BS behavior, but I'd point out to you that Ozzy Osbourne is at the top of the food chain. He's not theorizing to open-mouthed sophomores at Swarthmore. So yes... he's showing the fruits of competition. So cigarette companies advertise their products directly to children and call it "competing". But the bottom line is that they are willing to market addiction to children for the bottom line. That's very different from "competing". Well, just to be fair, tobacco was not considered "evil" until recently. However, to directly answer your question.... who makes more, a cigarette company executive or you? Who gets more chicks? Who gives more to the church or other charities? And so on. What I'd suggest is that the idea that humans should get away from "competition" is completely ludicrous. What you'd like to do, I intuit, is make everyone equal and so on... I suggest that you do so only at the cost of the "competition" that has brought humans this far. Who are you to decide that theoretically you and your lineal descendants (assuming you have any) are better off because you don't want to compete? Even Ueshiba killed people. You think that's not competition? If he was solely about "love", why didn't he just offer his throat?

FWIW

Mike Sigman

Mike Sigman
06-14-2009, 06:18 PM
Back in my old college--New College, at the University of Alabama--I had a reputation for "creative behavior" in our seminars. With the professor's collusion (and a gun borrowed from a University police officer [1974]), I held one seminar hostage and set off a firecracker "bomb" to illustrate what it means to "make war" on people who don't agree with you.

In another seminar, I arrived early and piled all the chairs in one corner of the room, behind a table, on top of which I sat.

There were about 20 people in the class, so I represented about 5% of the total population, but I, in fact, "owned" 100% of the chairs.

One person decided he was just going to get himself a chair, but as he approached, I dissuaded him by personal bearing and he went back and stood with all the other students and we conducted the seminar that day with me sitting on the table, owning all the chairs, and everyone else standing.

So was that "competition," really? I got there first and took what had been provided for all, to use for the satisfaction of my self.

Likewise, those who "have" simply got to the goods (that were provided for all) and commandeered them. The super wealthy are simply the earliest robbers, setting up the social structure specifically to maintain their gain and advantage. Sure, their ranks change, but only marginally. There is a core that endures while people on the fringes move in and out. The core endures.

David
Er.... I'm not into isolated and exceptional anecdotes proving general points about humanity. Sorry.

Best.

Mike Sigman

dps
06-14-2009, 08:17 PM
Back in my old college--New College, at the University of Alabama--I had a reputation for "creative behavior" in our seminars. With the professor's collusion (and a gun borrowed from a University police officer [1974]), I held one seminar hostage and set off a firecracker "bomb" to illustrate what it means to "make war" on people who don't agree with you.

In another seminar, I arrived early and piled all the chairs in one corner of the room, behind a table, on top of which I sat.

There were about 20 people in the class, so I represented about 5% of the total population, but I, in fact, "owned" 100% of the chairs.

One person decided he was just going to get himself a chair, but as he approached, I dissuaded him by personal bearing and he went back and stood with all the other students and we conducted the seminar that day with me sitting on the table, owning all the chairs, and everyone else standing.

So was that "competition," really? I got there first and took what had been provided for all, to use for the satisfaction of my self.

Likewise, those who "have" simply got to the goods (that were provided for all) and commandeered them. The super wealthy are simply the earliest robbers, setting up the social structure specifically to maintain their gain and advantage. Sure, their ranks change, but only marginally. There is a core that endures while people on the fringes move in and out. The core endures.

David
You just described Obama.

David

dps
06-14-2009, 08:28 PM
David,

Odonian anarchism is a political system from Ursula LeGuin's book "The Dispossessed" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dispossessed). So no such societies actually exist. To me Odonian anarchism always looked like what communism was supposed to be in theory, a sort of ideal, but it would also be non-viable in practice for the same reasons communism failed - you can't eradicate human greedy and selfish nature ;)

In the book, it seems the Odonian society on Annares manages to function mostly because there's so few resources and so much hardship that it's impossible be greedy and accumulate wealth - there just isn't anything to accumulate.

Karo

I looked up 'The Dispossessed' by Ursula LeGuin on Wikipedia and my son recognized the author from another one of her books 'The Left Hand of Justice'. He is going to find 'The Dispossesed' for me.

Have you read George Orwell's ' Animal Farm'?

Karo
06-14-2009, 08:38 PM
I looked up 'The Dispossessed' by Ursula LeGuin on Wikipedia and my son recognized the author from another one of her books 'The Left Hand of Justice'. He is going to find 'The Dispossesed' for me.

Have you read George Orwell's ' Animal Farm'?

You mean "The Left Hand of Darkness" - I strongly recommend that one, too, for another fresh look on social issues.

I've read Orwell's "Animal Farm", but it's his "1984" that I keep coming back to, even though it's not a pleasant read at all. The world it presents is hauntingly familiar.

Karo

David Orange
06-14-2009, 08:38 PM
David Orange wrote:
What you really mean is that those who "compete" best "do" best, isn't it?

Generally and historically, that's true not only among humans but among most animal species.

Interestingly, though, as Mochizuki Sensei pointed out, the top predators--ALL of them--now exist mainly as protected species. Otherwise, they all would now be extinct. So...maybe you're overlooking something important there.

What is "making money"? Do you mean that the person who earns more gets more chicks, better food, higher status because of his money, and so on? Er.... in the historical view this is unfortunately true. Would you like to suggest that the "weak will inherit the earth" or something feel-good like that? Go look at your successful, wealthy, well-fed, etc., business people and tell me that they are the weak or meek.

Err...James Taylor?

He's doing okay. David Byrne.

Reminds me of that line by Jefferson Starship: "a tear in the hands of a western man will tell you about salt and carbon and water but a tear to an oriental man will tell you about sadness and sorrow, the love of a man and a woman."

But doesnt't that depend on who the "western" and "oriental" men are? Say James Taylor or Paul Simon vs. Li Peng, of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Anyway, inheriting the earth is for the final day and we haven't seen that yet. The tares grow up with the wheat, but in the end, the tares will burn.

Notice that in both western and asian history the power of the wealthy merchants always comes to fore. Well,... and corrupt governement officials, who, it could be argued, are good at making suckers of the people who believe in the ideology of "equality". ;)

Or who were paid off by the wealthy, which is what sort of blows a hole in this thread. Government would naturally have more of the good of the people in mind than would business except that government figures can be paid off by the wealthy and then it's all in the favor of the wealthy.

You mean like in David Letterman's comments about Sarah Palin's daughter? I dunno... he gets good ratings, controversy, etc., and therefore lots of money.

I would agree there except that it sort of cancels out when you look at how Palin has used her children for personal gain without any limits of decency. Of course, I'm a Conan fan and I watched Leno most times instead of Letterman. Letterman is more intellectual, but a bit too contrived for me. Leno was just what he was, but Conan is way different from either of them and I think he's a lot funnier. He wins without competing. As for Letterman/Palin, she (and Todd) deserved it, but the child didn't.

I think it's very fair of you to constantly use known liberals as exemplars of BS behavior, but I'd point out to you that Ozzy Osbourne is at the top of the food chain. He's not theorizing to open-mouthed sophomores at Swarthmore. So yes... he's showing the fruits of competition.

Right. So the crack dealer is smarter than the coca cola salesman, yeah? He simply ignores all limits of morality and decency. So Ozzy Osborne, Marilyn Manson, Megadeath (who was it that did the tune "Bloody Chunks"?) are just competing in good old "may the best man win" fashion, I suppose.

Well, just to be fair, tobacco was not considered "evil" until recently.

I think you'll find that it was considered evil by everyone who watched a relative smoke themselves to death with it. That was harder in the days before mass production and mass marketing. And of course, before the days of mass marketing to children.

However, to directly answer your question.... who makes more, a cigarette company executive or you?

Oh, the cigarette man, of course. And crack dealers generally make more than I. Of course, if you count the ups and downs of their work compared to mine, I probably get ahead of the average crack dealer, but at points, he gets way ahead of me. And there are lots of them who continue to direct their gangs from inside the prisons. So who makes more: you, I, or the corrupt prison guard who smuggles cell phones to the drug lords in prison?

Who gets more chicks?

Well, now that I'm married, I don't count that way. Now it's quality over quantity. I have the best.

Who gives more to the church or other charities?

Charities? Like the Lung Foundation or something? The tobacco executive might give more, but then you have to deduct the amount of damage he causes...so I think the tobacco guy ends up in the hole.

What I'd suggest is that the idea that humans should get away from "competition" is completely ludicrous.

Of course it is. But my point is that you let all those actions of pure greed and even malevolence pass as "competition." Sinking to any low is not "competition" but just pure bad character.

What you'd like to do, I intuit, is make everyone equal and so on...

Can't be done. No one is anyone else's equal, but we are all born free and equal. It's what's done after that that shows the truth. Real competition takes place within "the rules" and for human beings there is a basic set of rules written on the heart. It's easy to see who plays be the rules and who tramples them. So let's not be guilty of excusing cheats as ordinary competitors.

I suggest that you do so only at the cost of the "competition" that has brought humans this far.

If you mean like the "competition" of Ken Lay and Richard Scrushy Dick Cheney, I suggest that discarding that, we would immediately rise in quality for all.

Who are you to decide that theoretically you and your lineal descendants (assuming you have any) are better off because you don't want to compete?

It should be clear by now that it's only your overbroad definition of "competition" that I eschew. Natural competition creates better, faster runners, the best judoka, the best computer (Macintosh) and the better in everything. But greed, envy, cheating and all the other negative aspects of what you dismiss as mere "competition" degrade the human race.

Lao Tzu is a good example. He says "The sage stays behind, thus he is ahead."

And Jesus says, "Who would be great among you, let him be servant to the others."

There's much to be said for having no blood on one's hands.

Even Ueshiba killed people. You think that's not competition? If he was solely about "love", why didn't he just offer his throat?

He declared that budo was "love" after his time in the war. I don't think he killed anyone after that. And he always offered his throat and his attackers always believed they were going to spear it. But when they arrived, he was never there. So he could take them over and set them right, which is love.

David

David Orange
06-14-2009, 08:40 PM
Er.... I'm not into isolated and exceptional anecdotes proving general points about humanity. Sorry.

No problem. But it does show how one person willing to sink to any low can control the resources of many people who are too reasonable to put him in his proper place.

David

David Orange
06-14-2009, 08:44 PM
I've read Orwell's "Animal Farm", but it's his "1984" that I keep coming back to, even though it's not a pleasant read at all. The world it presents is hauntingly familiar.

Animal Farm shows how unfit cows are to run a slaughter house.

David

dps
06-14-2009, 11:13 PM
Animal Farm shows how unfit cows are to run a slaughter house.

David
Huh?:confused:

David (dps)

mathewjgano
06-14-2009, 11:18 PM
Basically it all boils down to the fact that the people who don't or can't compete don't do too well, ultimately. And that's exactly what Mother Nature wants in terms of who is going to survive.
Well I'm not sure a clinical anthropologist would say "wants" is a good description...sorry, couldn't resist!:p
Sometimes, the people who cooperate do better than the ones who compete. Being social animals seems to imply cooperative need as well. The very nature of cooperation is shared resources. Nature seems to want us to cooperate AND compete.

Nice to have all these dreams about us being superior beings, but we're still just animals driven by animal needs. Why pretend otherwise, except as some form of conceit? ;)
That's not quite what I meant. I think it's a safe assumption to say the major human advantage is its abilty to process information and manipulate stuff as tools. To me it seems our usual position in the food chain comes more from our ability to work together than from our ability to compete with one another. To my mind, the promotion of cooperation is about pooling resources. I'm not saying I'm a better Being than some lion killing a gazelle.
At it relates to society, competition has its place, but so does cooperation; when one is in excess, its supression seems reasonable to me.

BTW, I know it's a trope, but a number of people over the generations have observed that if you took all the wealth in the world and divided it equally among the population, in 5-10 years we'd be back to only a few having most of the wealth. That's actually a good thing for the species, as long as everyone is given a chance to compete. ;)

Mike
Well sure, but people have "observed" otherwise as well. It might; it mightn't. I just think effort should be made toward broad-scale improvement (i.e. the whole society in mind). It can't always be done, but I think where it can it generally makes society stronger. I also believe to attain lasting change in that regard, you cannot force people. The hand that is forced tends to resist out of instinct.
Where that leaves me I'm not quite sure, but I'm off to bed. Thanks for your thinking!
Take care,
Matt

lbb
06-15-2009, 07:49 AM
My point was that there is not a perfect system (anywhere) available and if you look for something perfect where people don't act and react like normal rats in a matrix, you're probably looking for a pipe dream that doesn't exist.

Eh, I'm done here, because see, this is an apples and Wankel rotary engines discussion. You, Karolina, others...you're all talking about systems of government. No matter what label you put on it, you're all looking from the top down. I'm talking about non-systems. The whole question of "public vs. private" only makes sense if you presuppose an archist, top-down government -- which pretty much everybody does. It doesn't matter if you're on the right, never saw a yellow ribbon sticker you didn't love, and believe that the government exists to foil attempts at regulation of public resources and hand the usual lion's share to the usual suspects; or if you're on the left and are conditioned to believe that the solution to every problem lies in a top-down policy initiative, and that everything will be hunky dory if you can only get the right policy initiatives passed. Both approaches accomplish much harm and little good. My belief is that we're running out of the time in which this is a supportive, sustainable way for human beings to live.

I'm not even gonna address your Obama trigger-point, except to say that you might want to get that twitchy knee looked at. :D

mathewjgano
06-15-2009, 09:54 AM
...you're all talking about systems of government. No matter what label you put on it, you're all looking from the top down. I'm talking about non-systems.
I would disagree only with the phrase "non-systems." I'm not sure any non-systems can be said to exist. Apart from that idea, I'm pretty sure we agree completely. I believe the Private vs. Government dilemma becomes moot where society already works together in mutual good-will; people always trying their best. On the whole, we're a long ways from that, but I don't think it's an impossible goal...so long as folks don't completely write it off as a pipe-dream and create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I do believe in a concurrent top-down and bottom-up approach, but the top-down (formal government structure) is dependant upon the bottom-up (organic social structure).
Thanks for playing, Mary!
Take care,
Matt

lbb
06-15-2009, 10:24 AM
I would disagree only with the phrase "non-systems."

Hey, you label your concepts and let me label mine. You don't like the word "systems"? Call it foobar. Call it whatever you want. Classically, it would be "-archy", but I don't think the word matters.

I'm not sure any non-systems can be said to exist.

But would you know if they did? Your eyes, like all of ours, are geared to see things through certain filters. You look for the -archy.

Apart from that idea, I'm pretty sure we agree completely. I believe the Private vs. Government dilemma becomes moot where society already works together in mutual good-will; people always trying their best. On the whole, we're a long ways from that

...because everybody insists on seeing the path to getting there as going through a system, a government, from the top down. Again: it doesn't matter if it's the Benevolent Rich White Men letting the crumbs drop from their table, or the Benevolent Multicultural Policy Wonks bestowing policy upon the masses -- you'll never get to a society of mutual support and solidarity on either of those roads.

but I don't think it's an impossible goal...so long as folks don't completely write it off as a pipe-dream and create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Well, that doesn't happen by accident, you see. It's a tool particularly favored by the right, who have the American public very well trained by now to shout down the very idea that humans can be anything but their worst nature personified. You see, if you convince people that the existence of human emotions such as greed and selfishness means that trust, solidarity and cooperation cannot exist, then you control those people, mind body and soul. You can easily manipulate them into depending on you to protect them from humanity. It doesn't matter whether you're selling them on the idea that they need endless regulation to protect them from others' predatory behavior, or if you're selling them on a lie of "independence" and "self-reliance" -- and selling them guns, while you're at it, so they can shoot down all the scum who will try to break into their house to steal their cans of baked beans once Armageddon comes -- if you can convince people that they cannot make a better world, starting with their own lives and moving out to their families, their neighborhoods their communities...then you control the future of humanity, and a bleak future it is.

But that suits some people just fine.

I do believe in a concurrent top-down and bottom-up approach, but the top-down (formal government structure) is dependant upon the bottom-up (organic social structure).

Top-down has failed and shows nothing new that would lead me to expect different results in the future.

mathewjgano
06-15-2009, 12:39 PM
Hey, you label your concepts and let me label mine. You don't like the word "systems"? Call it foobar. Call it whatever you want. Classically, it would be "-archy", but I don't think the word matters.
Oh, I wasn't trying to impose my linguistic bent upon you, sorry I implied otherwise. I was basically just explaining something about my use of terms (a little too briefly) to help with possible future conversations, but I'll allow you to use your own language...this time!evileyes :D

But would you know if they did? Your eyes, like all of ours, are geared to see things through certain filters. You look for the -archy.
Probably not! I did word it to show some uncertainty on my part, though. One of my most deeply-held personal beliefs is the limitation of human perception (i.e. there is always a blind spot)...which is why political discussion has been so frustrating for me in the past, coincidentally enough. Most people seem incredibly sure about things I generally feel are complex enough that most people shouldn't be so certain...and I mean "shouldn't" very loosely here. I really don't believe in telling other people what to do, even if my language patterns might imply otherwise.

...because everybody insists on seeing the path to getting there as going through a system, a government, from the top down.
Again, my intended meaning of system is "any set of inter-related componants," but I think you're basically hitting the nail on the head. In my opinion, human advancement generally takes place through understanding; that operates on the individual level so I believe that's where all growth essentially takes place. A similar example might be formalized teaching: I was a good student not because of the particular system I learned through, but because I wanted to learn. I could have gone through almost any formal system and still learned relatively well because of this. However, that isn't to say some procedures of learning aren't better than others. I view social issues (of which the intra-societal contract commonly known as government is but one) as being very much the same thing. When people realize that helping others in need helps them (socialism?) AND when people realize that their own hard work is always needed (capitalism?), only then will people begin to find dynamic and lasting change for the better...I believe.

Well, that doesn't happen by accident, you see. It's a tool particularly favored by the right, who have the American public very well trained by now to shout down the very idea that humans can be anything but their worst nature personified.
I would say both "sides" are a little too ready to denounce the other, but like you seem to, I tend to particularly dislike the tone of the right. For some reason Kevin's Patton quote always comes to mind when I listen to "conservative" pundits.
I believe in the saying, "plan for the worst and hope for the best," though I'd amend the latter portion to saying, "and prepare for the best:" After all, "[hope] in one hand, @#$% in the other and see which one fills up faster."

You see, if you convince people that the existence of human emotions such as greed and selfishness means that trust, solidarity and cooperation cannot exist, then you control those people, mind body and soul.
Pretty much. Fear is the emotion animals naturally use to keep them away from harm. As social animals we're particularly programmed to respond to the emotions of those around us...hence things like mass hysteria. I don't think it's a conscious thing though. Misery loves company and so do the fearful.
Aside from that, there is certainly logic behind the idea of protecting yourself from selfish and greedy people: they have a lack of regard for others; they're essentially anti-social, in my opinion.

You can easily manipulate them into depending on you to protect them from humanity.
And this is why I value independance so much...and why I also have a strong affinity for the libertarian slant on things: be as autonomous and self-sufficient as possible.
Anyway, thank you for adding to your thoughts! I appreciate it.
I'm off to get the baby room ready for the little bundle of joy coming along in...:eek: ...a couple weeks or so! :D
Take care,
Matt

Karo
06-15-2009, 10:16 PM
this is an apples and Wankel rotary engines discussion

Before I even saw your reply, Mary, I was meaning to come back and add some more thoughts on the subject, funnily enough also including a comparison based on apples.

(Note on vocabulary: I agree with Matthew that the word "system" still applies here, if we understand it just in its most general sense of "a group of interrelated elements", so I'll keep using it, if you don't mind.)

All the discussions about political systems, and asking "Which one works better?" is like asking "What color are apples?" It depends. On the variety of apple, the season, location, recent weather, etc.

I'm perfectly prepared to believe that even Odonian anarchism could work in certain circumstances. Not because it's in any way special, but because any system can work if it comprises only people who voluntarily and with full awareness chose to follow a particular path and try to make it work.

So if you get together a bunch of friends and set up an Odonian commune somewhere in distant mountains, I would not be surprised if you succeeded. And my institute will gladly offer a visiting position to your most brilliant physicist, too ;)

But problems will start as soon as you try to scale up your system, either in the spatial dimension (taking over neighboring villages) or in the temporal dimension (children born under the system, other people "marrying into" the system). Scaling up this way means you extend it over people who did not actively chose the system, after much deliberation and thought, and who have therefore little or no motivation to keep it working.

This is when propaganda starts: after all, you think, they just didn't see enough of the world to understand that we have the best system there can be, so I just have to explain it to them. I'll explain that helping each other is better than competing. Except the explanations don't always convince people, and the more you insist, the more resistant they become. Let them leave and join another system if they want? Why, this is where their home and their family is, they won't go anywhere. Instead they will undermine your system from the inside. What do you do then?

So creating a large-scale sociopolitical system (like those on the level of nations) is the problem not of creating something that everyone will like (because there are too many people who are not invested in the success of the system), but creating something that will work nevertheless with the least amount of strong resistance from people.

It's not only giving red apples to those that like red apples, and giving green apples to those who like green apples. You also have to take into consideration those who don't like apples at all, those who are allergic to fruit, those who had an apple with a worm in it once and don't believe in apples anymore, and those who like their apples only as applejack. And babies with no teeth. And dogs. And apple worms.

But seriously, if you get Shevek, you send him here. I need someone to explain quantum mechanics to me. :hypno:

Karo

lbb
06-16-2009, 08:27 AM
But problems will start as soon as you try to scale up your system, either in the spatial dimension (taking over neighboring villages) or in the temporal dimension (children born under the system, other people "marrying into" the system). Scaling up this way means you extend it over people who did not actively chose the system, after much deliberation and thought, and who have therefore little or no motivation to keep it working...

So creating a large-scale sociopolitical system (like those on the level of nations) is the problem not of creating something that everyone will like (because there are too many people who are not invested in the success of the system), but creating something that will work nevertheless with the least amount of strong resistance from people.


...all of which is pretty much antithetical to anarchism...so, you are now describing a different political system.

Is it a given that we must have nations? Is it a given that we must organize ourselves on a large scale? If you take the view that Jared Diamond did in Guns, Germs and Steel, you can clearly see that there are certain advantages in greater levels of social organization, but also that there are tradeoffs, and there are hefty prices to pay. In the modern world, we've seen the limitations of the nation-state...hell, Nestor Mahkno saw it a hundred years ago, and we've added a hundred years of size and complexity onto it since then. In the West, we tout democracy as the answer, but we've long since surpassed the limits of democracy as an effective system. Look at the state of California, for example: a clear case of a political entity that is much too large and much to diverse to govern using its system of initiative petitions. What will happen when (just to name one problem) California runs out of water? It is simply too large to do the right thing in the timeframe that is needed (which, to be blunt, is probably best expressed as "twenty years ago").

The problems that you're pointing out really prove my point: in the modern world, given the sheer size of the entities that they seek to govern, top-down systems (which our western "democracies" are) simply cannot be effective. They cannot be responsive of the needs of their people, they cannot rally their people to work together for a common goal, they cannot develop consensus on what a common goal is.

So, you say, what's the alternative? and as you say it, I hear you loading a very predictable battery of artillery to shoot the alternative down. Your example of "an Odonian commune somewhere in the distant mountains" has a certain unmistakable undertone of dismissiveness. We're trained to ridicule those who seek a better way on a small, local scale, even those who do so within a traditional framework, such as the monastic life: we may offer the token respect that our society gives to religion, but we still consider them to be impractical people. Yes, we say in a patronizing tone, it's all very nice, what they're doing...but it doesn't really work, it's not practical. You couldn't run a country that way!

But why should you need to?

No, you couldn't run a country like a Trappist monastery. Not everybody wants to get up at 3 am to pray. Not everybody wants to wear the same clothes. But the Trappists aren't interested in running a country -- they just want to create and maintain a functional community. And you know what? They're not doing a half-bad job. They don't live in a state of total, uninterrupted harmony, but they do live in a state of consensus that is created by coming together for a common purpose. They live "by the work of their hands", according to the Benedictine rule -- which means seeing to their own needs, and also producing tangible goods for sale. They have what they need, they have what they want, and they live in harmony.

Could such a community survive purely on its own? Maybe, but as far as I know, they've never tried to. They engage in commerce with their neighbors, and in the modern world, certainly they provide mutual support with other like communities around the world. They won't ever become a great nation-state, but they do not want to. Is that what you want from life -- to be a member of a great nation-state?

When I speak of being an Odonian anarchist, it is of course somewhat tongue in cheek: Odonian anarchism is, after all, a work of fiction. But human societies don't evolve just by simple dumb trial and effort: they also evolve through ideas and thought, and Odonian anarchism is a damn good idea (and by the way, for those who don't know...LeGuin isn't exactly a lightweight wannabee world-builder getting her ideas out of an AD&D manual; she's got a pretty keen idea of how human societies work, she's written about many variants, and they all have a ring of reality to them). Those who reflexively believe that any changes in human society can only happen through top-down large-scale political systems ridicule the idea of bottom-up (and only "up" to a certain point) systems like Odonian anarchism. And yet, what answers do the believers in such systems provide? None at all. Try to work through the world's problems and envision the solutions provided by such systems, and you can only conclude that no such solutions will ever be forthcoming. The systems are simply too big, too cumbersome, too unresponsive, too out of touch with what needs doing and too incapable (except by authoritarian means) of seeing it done. They cannot succeed. Therefore, the answer must lie elsewhere, if there is an answer at all. I believe that it does.

So, don't be so dismissive at the thought of the world being saved by those silly, impractical utopian communities in the distant mountains. The world is not saved with the stroke of a pen in the hand of the most powerful person in the most powerful political system; it is not saved by the actions of armies, or by the carrying out of some grand policy initiative. It is saved one small, sensible action at a time.

Amir Krause
06-16-2009, 10:58 AM
Disconnected thoughts:

1. If you wish to look at a succeful socialist organizaion, and its lack of survival over generations in a mostly capitalist society. Examine the Kibutz. Likely a better example then theoretical speculations.

2. Nation states were created in an evolutionary manner:
Once someone else establishes a larger social structure, and insists on absorbing all around it. Others would have to create a similar scale of order to face it.

3. Capitalizem is also an idealists theory, many researchers have shown the Capitilist theory assumptions never exist (no real free market with full information and no logical consumer).

4. Companies are supposed to be profit oriented, hence, a company would never have the interst to create wellfare to all. Be warned, the above does not mean companies could not provide wellfare services in an efficient manner to their clients.

5. Goverments should handle situations in which the profit is indirect and multi-level. Example - adding efficient public transport might be unprofitable directly, but the reduction of pollution and traffic jams may have a positive overall economical effect.
This is particularly true when the profit is by reduction of service needs (reduce polution -> less need for health care).
One problem of course it is difficult to examine all the effects of an action and decide which is best. Another is the difficulty in deciding on prefernces. Another is financing.

5. Efficient economy for the consumers requires competition - multiple providers for the same product / service, and anyone can become a provider easily.
That same situation is considered unprofitable for the providers, at this state, they can only cover the marginal costs, and are doomed to fail. Hence, their need to create diffrentiation ( in any means, fair or not, including favouring regulatins) and break the competitive situation.

Amir

mathewjgano
06-16-2009, 11:36 AM
Disconnected thoughts...

Thank you, Amir! That was a more lucid way of saying a lot of what I was trying to say.
Actually, while I'm thinking about it, I want to thank everyone who's been participating because I've really been enjoying what people have to say.
Take care!
Matt

Karo
06-16-2009, 07:47 PM
So, you say, what's the alternative? and as you say it, I hear you loading a very predictable battery of artillery to shoot the alternative down. Your example of "an Odonian commune somewhere in the distant mountains" has a certain unmistakable undertone of dismissiveness. (...) So, don't be so dismissive at the thought of the world being saved by those silly, impractical utopian communities in the distant mountains.

Mary, you keep reading into my posts things I didn't put there. Granted, communication is difficult to start with, and I might be particularly inept at explaining myself in an unambiguous manner, but out of a number of possible interpretations of my words you seem intent on selecting only those most opposed to your own views.

My remarks about an Odonian commune in the distant mountains were humorous, but not dismissive. Partly they alluded to the fact that it would need to be (for reasons I outlined) a small, closed community safe enough from external influences. Anarres itself was the ultimate in such secluded communities - it was set up on the planet's moon.

[On scaling-up = trouble]...all of which is pretty much antithetical to anarchism...so, you are now describing a different political system.

So what it means, once you bear children in your Odonian anarchist community, it automatically stops becoming an anarchist community? This is scaling up, after all; these children are people who did not select to be part of your community. Okay, so we can make exception for small children; what about once they grow up and decide, in the manner of teenagers everywhere, that the old geezers of the tribe have no idea how to live or organize things properly?

Is it a given that we must have nations?

No. I'm not particularly fond of nations or countries, myself. It is the level of organization we deal with in today's world, however, so no wonder the participants in this discussion will wonder how applicable one system or another is to this particular level.

So, you say, what's the alternative? and as you say it, I hear you loading a very predictable battery of artillery to shoot the alternative down. (...) You couldn't run a country that way!

You seem to assume that because I argue for unsustainability of one thing means I argue for its opposite. No. Just because I think Odonian anarchism wouldn't work, it doesn't mean I believe there exist another system which would work. I have no answers, only questions.

Karo

Amir Krause
06-17-2009, 07:18 AM
Some additional points:

* To the best of my memory, the theoreticans (philosophers) supporting both Capitalizem and Democracy, never called any of these systems as the best system. they only considered Capitalizem and Democracy as the lesser evil of all others.

* Since the role of govrements is to handle complex matters (where one can not point to a clear profit line). Govrements can easily err in their actions and decisions. Qualifying all effects is impossible, prioritizing which is more important is prespective based. And once no clear criteria exists, it is relativly easy for one to decide based on other reasons (corruption or ideology).

* Competition never exists if new contestants can not join the market. Regulations, huge set-up investments and other means often create blocks prventing competition.

Amir

mathewjgano
06-18-2009, 01:04 PM
* Competition never exists if new contestants can not join the market. Regulations, huge set-up investments and other means often create blocks prventing competition.

Amir

I think this is where I tend to start sympathizing with what I think of as the socialist idea.
If I may try to use an analogy:
when I first stepped on the mat, in order to learn the specifics of how to move, the people with more experience had to dial it back a bit to give me a "fair" chance at performing the specific task. You might say the others were given a handicap (or I was given an advantage I couldn't reciprocate) so that I could begin to operate in a similar way as them.
In other words, helping the little guy, the person who is less established, helps make "competition" stronger, which makes me stronger...according to some at least. So, perhaps government help is good in the world of business, as long as it's toward the little guy (who can't afford lobbyists, interestingly enough:mad: ).

Michael Varin
06-19-2009, 05:42 AM
when I first stepped on the mat, in order to learn the specifics of how to move, the people with more experience had to dial it back a bit to give me a "fair" chance at performing the specific task.

Surely you see that if this continued to happen indefinitely those at the top would necessarily be restricted from becoming as good as they could be.

This is one of my big problems with socialism. Equality of outcome is not the most beneficial situation. By allowing those at the cutting edge to advance ahead of the rest of us it actually creates a greater benefit to society.

Some of the poorest people in America today have luxuries that kings couldn't have imagined 400 years ago. Capitalism did that.

I would like to point out that I and most other proponents of capitalism believe that helping people is a good thing. But we believe being forced to "help" people is a very bad thing.

If this subject really interests you and you want to develop more than just "half formed ideas" I highly reccomend reading The Law by Fredrick Bastiat (http://bastiat.org/en/the_law.html). It is one of the best books I have ever read, and its short and free on the internet.

You may also want to watch the video that is linked to in my sig line. It's a fantastic little video. They crammed a lot of info into about 8 minutes.

If you find those enlightening, I would be happy to reccomend other books and videos.

lbb
06-19-2009, 08:46 AM
Some of the poorest people in America today have luxuries that kings couldn't have imagined 400 years ago. Capitalism did that.


No, technology did that -- technology, and living in a country and on a planet with an immense wealth of natural resources, which we have been pissing away in the most prodigal manner imaginable. That option will be gone within our lifetimes. At that point, the best model for survival won't be bleeding-edge lone-wolf excellence, but mutually accountable cooperation and support.

Mark Freeman
06-19-2009, 10:42 AM
This is one of my big problems with socialism. Equality of outcome is not the most beneficial situation. By allowing those at the cutting edge to advance ahead of the rest of us it actually creates a greater benefit to society.


Hi Michael,

isn't this exactly what the banks were 'allowed' to do through de-regulation? They were at the cutting edge, creating more and more complex trading vehicles, that allowed them to create vast wealth and pay themselves unbelievably massive bonuses even when producing mind-boggling losses. Where is the greater benefit to society in this case? Many of them are now owned almost wholely by the taxpayer in what was an orgy of nationalisation.

I'm not arguing for the socialist's side, but the verdict on how successfull rampant capitalism has proven to be is still to be fully realised.

It seems that many governments are moving forward with much tighter controls on financial institutions, as you can't trust the market to police itself.

If the state/taxpayer had not stepped in and rescued the banks when they did, we would all be alot further up the proverbial creek without any means of propulsion. In the UK apparently we were only an hour or so away from what would have been a complete financial meltdown that would have been global rather than national.

I do in part agree with your sentiments above in that those that can should strive to create what they can, and they should be rewarded more than those who can't or can't be bothered. However, there has to be some way of agreeing the degree of reward. Is the man at the top of a company really worth hundreds or even in some cases thousands of times more than one on the ground level?

Regards,

Mark

Mark Freeman
06-19-2009, 10:45 AM
At that point, the best model for survival won't be bleeding-edge lone-wolf excellence, but mutually accountable cooperation and support.

Nice quote Mary, permission to use it?:)

regards,

Mark

dps
06-19-2009, 02:43 PM
No, technology did that -- technology, and living in a country and on a planet with an immense wealth of natural resources, which we have been pissing away in the most prodigal manner imaginable. That option will be gone within our lifetimes. At that point, the best model for survival won't be bleeding-edge lone-wolf excellence, but mutually accountable cooperation and support.

And capitalism created the environment for the technology to use the resources for a better standard of living. What socialist country has a better standard of living.

David

Michael Varin
06-19-2009, 08:26 PM
And capitalism created the environment for the technology to use the resources for a better standard of living. What socialist country has a better standard of living.
Thank you, David. You saved me some typing.

Hi Mark,

Good to hear from you.

isn't this exactly what the banks were 'allowed' to do through de-regulation? They were at the cutting edge, creating more and more complex trading vehicles, that allowed them to create vast wealth and pay themselves unbelievably massive bonuses even when producing mind-boggling losses. Where is the greater benefit to society in this case? Many of them are now owned almost wholely by the taxpayer in what was an orgy of nationalisation.
This is a fundamental misunderstanding.

The financial industry has closer ties to the government than almost any other. Banks haven't operated in anything remotely close to a free-market since the central banking finally took hold.

Every developed nation has a central bank which artificially sets interest rates and controls the money supply, and has legal tender laws which forces the citizens to use that money. The currency -- the fundamental element of an economy -- itself is socialized.

A free-market actually imposes stricter regulations on banks. That's why the big ones have pushed so hard for governments to take that pressure off of them by regulating their industry. In the US we have institutions like the Federal Reserve and the FDIC (in the UK you have the Bank of England and I'm sure you have some form of deposit insurance also). The bottom line is that institutions such as these encourage greater risk taking.

Mike Sigman
06-20-2009, 10:03 AM
No, technology did that -- technology, and living in a country and on a planet with an immense wealth of natural resources, which we have been pissing away in the most prodigal manner imaginable. That option will be gone within our lifetimes. At that point, the best model for survival won't be bleeding-edge lone-wolf excellence, but mutually accountable cooperation and support.I think they already do this sort of cooperation in many countries, nowadays. It's called "tribalism". And the tribes battle each other for dominance, resources, breeding rights, territoriality, etc., quite obviously. People don't live in fantasies... they struggle to breed and survive.

FWIW

Mike

lbb
06-20-2009, 03:25 PM
And capitalism created the environment for the technology to use the resources for a better standard of living.

A study of history demonstrates the falsehood of that statement. Some good reading here is the report of the Sadler Commission and Weber's "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism". Anything on Gaviotas is a good view of the other side.

lbb
06-20-2009, 03:26 PM
I think they already do this sort of cooperation in many countries, nowadays. It's called "tribalism".
Even after Labor Day, white looks great on you, Mr. Humpty Dumpty :D

(In other words, simply saying, "Is not! Is not!" doesn't prove your point)

lbb
06-20-2009, 03:27 PM
Nice quote Mary, permission to use it?:)

Sure, if you want, although Mike Sigman will tell you that you're just living in a fantasy. Seems he's never seen anything that could be called true cooperation; therefore, it can't possibly exist.

Gernot Hassenpflug
06-21-2009, 08:37 AM
My view is that people acting through private entities only have the very limited power to screw their clients, whereas if they manage to act using government proxy they can screw the whole country.

Mike Sigman
06-21-2009, 10:40 AM
Sure, if you want, although Mike Sigman will tell you that you're just living in a fantasy. Seems he's never seen anything that could be called true cooperation; therefore, it can't possibly exist.People don't work by "true cooperation", Mary. There's always social structure, breeding drives, and so on. When people become pale angelic wraithes, maybe it will happen, but up until then they're going to basically respond like most animal groups do. Regardless of how much people would like to believe that normal human behavior isn't really normal. ;)

Mike

lbb
06-21-2009, 09:18 PM
Mike, I think you're a)humpty-dumptying the definition of words like "cooperation" and so on, and b)arguing by means of assertion rather than evidence or proof. That being the case, there isn't any point in continuing this.

Mark Freeman
06-22-2009, 05:08 AM
Sure, if you want, although Mike Sigman will tell you that you're just living in a fantasy. Seems he's never seen anything that could be called true cooperation; therefore, it can't possibly exist.

Mike has told me plenty in the past that I am living in a fantasy, however, I like my fantasy:D I also agree with some, if not all, of what he writes. Imagine a world without disagreement, where would the fun be in that?;)

David Orange
06-22-2009, 11:06 AM
My view is that people acting through private entities only have the very limited power to screw their clients, whereas if they manage to act using government proxy they can screw the whole country.

Or, without government "proxy," if they can get government "protection" of their schemes, they can really rule the world. Cigarette companies have broad government protection, as do the health insurance companies--protection and support. And even if you vote out the bums who set up the table for the fat cats, it's often very hard for the new bunch to clean up the protections that the old bunch set in stone.

David

lbb
06-22-2009, 11:17 AM
Mike has told me plenty in the past that I am living in a fantasy, however, I like my fantasy:D I also agree with some, if not all, of what he writes. Imagine a world without disagreement, where would the fun be in that?;)

Cooperation doesn't mean there's never any disagreement. It means, among other things, that people are capable of recognizing common interests and acting out of some motivation other than narrow and short-sighted self-interest.

Gernot Hassenpflug
06-22-2009, 07:39 PM
Cooperation is the essence of the free market economy: cooperation is what causes the competition----when a person chooses to cooperate with one person over someone else.