Surreal America

The argument that the US is heading for collapse is probably overstated, but sometimes when I look at the nature of political debate in the US it seems plausible.  Rather than taking a cool, pragmatic view of the problems and potential solutions, politicians are increasingly locked in an ideological fog, looking for sound bites and “easy” solutions.   Rather than recognizing the complex array of problems that brought us to this point they prefer to point to some villain who has foisted harmful policies on the US which, if eradicated, would eliminate our problems.

For instance, it’s become mantra for some on the right to see unions as some all powerful bad guy.  The proposition is so absurd as to be laughable.    As this story shows, US workers are lower paid than ever.   One reason is that unions have become impotent and are smaller than ever.   There is no possible way to deny the fact that relative income has shifted away from workers (who have gone from ‘middle class’ to ‘working poor’) towards the wealthy, and that unions have become rare and ineffective.   This is a problem.   With the working class increasingly receiving less income, not only is the divide growing in the US, but economic growth becomes more difficult.   Companies are earning record profits as worker income declines.

If people were rational and objective, they’d see this and come to the obvious conclusion:  corporations and businesses with resources are structuring the game in their favor (and the favor of their share holders) while workers, no longer protected by effective unions, pay the cost.   Instead, driven by irrational ideological faith, many argue that unions are evil and holding back growth and that the government is unfair to big business.    Morever, it’s clear that the wealthiest have had an explosion of income growth in recent years, while the poor and middle class have not.   An objective, rational analysis would say that given high debt and deficits, those who have benefited so much at the expense of others should pay more taxes.  Instead, efforts are underway to cut taxes on the wealthiest and cut services to those poor who have become worse off in the last 30 years.

As I noted yesterday, the argument that these policies trickle down wealth to the poor has been discredited.   Europe, which has stronger labor unions and more wealth equality has also created more jobs in the last 12 years than has the US.   We’ve seen a net shift of wealth towards the already wealthy.   Moreover, there is little class mobility in the US.   It’s not as if the successful are rewarded for hard work and innovation; rather, those with wealth are being rewarded for having wealth.

What’s surreal about this is the way that especially the right in the US ignores the data and continues to argue for tax cuts while demonizing labor unions.   There is no evidence supporting such claims, such views are driven solely by ideological propaganda.    But the left is not without blame either.   Their focus has been increasingly on politically powerful interest groups, meaning the working poor are often left out.   Moreover, they’ve ignored the problem of higher debt and ineffective social welfare programs, giving ammo to the right to show the problems of big government.

In short, the left has been AWOL in terms of truly identifying and offering solutions to the problem of this loss of wealth, status and opportunity of the working poor, defending instead existing government programs.    After all, what political clout do the working poor possess?   They won’t win elections for the Democrats, and defending them only gives fodder to the GOP to scare the wealthier into thinking Democrats want to “transfer wealth” to the poor.

Transferring wealth won’t work.    The problem is not unequal outcomes, but warped opportunities and power structures.   Corporate profits shouldn’t skyrocket while worker income plummets.  There needs to be more fairness in the structure of pay and power in the market place.   This doesn’t call for massive government transfers of wealth, but rather government support of labor unions, transparency in the market, and regulation of big business.   The goal is not to combat the free market, but to make it work effectively.

That’s the most surreal point of all.   The free market has not been working well in the US because it’s been manipulated by insiders with information and power to control how it functions.   The state is supposed to prevent that and protect the market, but increasingly both parties listen to lobbyists representing the current “winners.”   Left unchecked, this will lead to a bifurcated class structure in the US and a potential backlash.    Left unchecked, the US will lose out to others in the global market.   Republicans and Democrats should together recognize the problem; instead, ideology trumps pragmatism, and problems go unsolved.

It feels like I’m watching a great power decline, even though there are ample opportunities to change and regain vibrancy and growth.    Yelling at each other and lost in ideological fog, those opportunities are ignored.   Instead of problem solving, opponents are demonized in a weird effort to pin problems on a particular group.   The way some Republicans talk about “liberals” — as if all the problems the country faces are caused by ‘liberals’ — is dangerous.   Rather than seeing problems that need solutions, others are demonized and uncritically blamed for all that is wrong.

As someone who is critical of both the left and the right, and who believes that pragmatic solutions require compromises from each side, I hope the surreal political debate gives way to more rational, practical, problem solving.  If not, then perhaps the best days of America are behind us…or at the very least, will take awhile to return.

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  2. #2 by Black Flag® on June 16, 2011 - 03:56

    Scott,

    The argument that the US is heading for collapse is probably overstated

    I have found the question really is:
    “What do you mean by collapse?”

    Will the USA no longer exist?
    or
    Will the US government begin to default on its promises?

    Both are a collapse, but completely different scenarios.

    I do not think the USA will dissolve – it may change as Soviet Russia did to become Russia….

    I do think the government will default on all its promises – not all at once, though, more in a staggered way, such as:

    – delay payments to bonds
    – moving “goal posts” on Social Security and “means” testing.
    – health care triage..
    …etc…

    The FedGov checks will start to bounce – that will be the “collapse”. I do not see revolution, but more of a “engine seized” type of affair.

    The FED will stop buying Treasuries so to save the Dollar (and their pensions).
    Congress will have a moment of truth – default (collapse) or nationalize the FED (hyperinflation).

    I do not believe – even as evil as they are – that Congress will wish to commit suicide. They will avoid hyperinflation and default.

    unions

    Live by the sword and die by the sword.

    Unions are not good or bad – if they are an association of voluntary choice and represent the organized voice of workers, non-violently.

    But by government edict, they can hold private property hostage – and that was their power, and eventually, their demise.

    Companies simply used their ability to migrate to less violent union territories – and the local Unions, trained only on hostage taking – became weaponless and impotent.

    If people were rational and objective, they’d see this and come to the obvious conclusion: corporations and businesses with resources are structuring the game in their favor (and the favor of their share holders) while workers, no longer protected by effective unions, pay the cost.

    Nonsense.
    Workers are there by choice, they are not slaves.
    The unskilled workers, who by government edict, were able to violently seize the property of the owners as hostage now find themselves impotent.

    They were able to ransom the property for income way out of line for the skill and value of their work. They were NOT paid for the value of their work, but a “protection racket” fee for not taking hostages of the property.

    The ability to hold hostage diminished – thus the owners no longer are under threat to pay the “hostage-free” fee.

    The low-class social theorists will see this as as a “paying the cost” – but no different then a thief who is denied his stolen loot claiming “you are hurting my living”.

    • #3 by Scott Erb on June 16, 2011 - 14:17

      Workers choices are constrained. Back in early industrial England they were de facto wage slaves because there were no good alternatives. They were exploited and luckily political action changed that — that’s why politics is important, and the state is important to allow the market to operate. I think you have a very naive view of how markets function. When I teach political economy we go over how without state regulations industrial markets would fail and ultimately be controlled by a small group of oligarchs who would impoverish society. That’s why you need the state — even if you construct a kind of fantasy where everything would work magically without government.

      • #4 by Black Flag® on June 16, 2011 - 15:13

        Scott
        Workers choices are constrained.

        Human choices are constrained, which is why trade offs exist.
        To have this, you cannot have that.
        Do to this, you cannot do that.

        So what you really are saying:
        “I want everything, and I want you to provide it, and I hate when you say “No”

        Back in early industrial England they were de facto wage slaves because there were no good alternatives.

        The alternative was starving to death on a rural farm.

        They were exploited and luckily political action changed that

        It changed without political action.

        In a major 1985 study, economist Nicholas F.R. Crafts estimated that real income per capita doubled in England between 1760 and 1860.

        Oxford University’s R.M. Hartwell devoted much of his career to this debate, and by 1970 he could proclaim:
        “Is the controversy over? As regards the standard of living — the bundle of goods — it should be, and, indeed, appears to be”

        Even [Marxist] E.P. Thompson, the most convinced pessimist, now agrees that ‘no serious scholar is willing to argue that everything got worse.'”

        [N]one of the suggested immiseration models fit the facts of history. On the contrary, the historical facts were: average per capita real income increased…after 1815 prices fell more than money wages; per capita consumption of food and other consumer goods increased…. To these facts should be added evidence about population. Population was rising rapidly after 1780, the result almost certainly of a rising birth rate and, more important, of a falling death rate, the consequence not of improved medicine but of environmental and nutritional improvements. As living standards rose with industrialization parents had more children and more survived.

        What confuses you, Scott, and most people who review the Industrial Revolution is the ignorance about the pre-Industrial Revolution – which is the condition that needs to be used in comparison, and not today’s modern technological society.

        Much misunderstanding has arisen because of assumptions — mainly misconceptions — about England before the industrial revolution; assumptions, for example, that rural life was naturally better than town life, that working for oneself was better and more secure than working for an employer, that child and female labor was something new, that the domestic system (even though it often involved a house crammed with industrial equipment) was preferable to the factory system, that slums and food adulteration were peculiar products of industrialization, and so on; in other words, the perennial myth of the golden age, the belief that since conditions were bad, and since one did not approve of them, they could not have been worse, and, indeed, must once have been better! 3

        But, as Alfred Marshall pointed out, “Popular history under-rates the hardships of the people before the age of factories.”

        “The factory owners,” writes Ludwig von Mises, “did not have the power to compel anybody to take a factory job.

        They could only hire people who were ready to work for the wages offered to them. Low as these wage rates were, they were nonetheless much more than these paupers could earn in any other field open to them.

        It is a distortion of facts. to say that the factories carried off the housewives from the nurseries and the kitchens and the children from their play.

        These women had nothing to cook with and to feed their children. These children were destitute and starving.

        Their only refuge was the factory. It saved them, in the strict sense of the term, from death by starvation.”

  3. #5 by Black Flag® on June 16, 2011 - 04:05

    Scott,

    The free market has not been working well in the US because it’s been manipulated by insiders with information and power to control how it functions. The state is supposed to prevent that and protect the market, but increasingly both parties listen to lobbyists representing the current “winners.”

    Such confusion exists with so many people.

    The Free market need no help to work.

    If it is “manipulated”, it can only be by force and violence. If it is manipulated systemically, it can only be done by legitimized force and violence … government.

    Your prescription is more of the poison. The State does not prevent manipulation – it is the cause of it. The tool of legitimized violence is unnecessary in a Free market, but completely necessary to pervert it in one’s favor.

    Thus, who ever controls legitimized violence will pervert the market place in their favor.

    Your solution:
    …more legitimized violence…

    • #6 by Scott Erb on June 16, 2011 - 14:20

      Your assertions about the state being the cause of problems are contrary to everything I’ve learned studying political economy through a decade in graduate school and teaching it two decades sense. I’ve read theories and studied real world examples, both in history and the present. You come and make wild assertions with no evidence and I have no choice but to dismiss it. I really think you’re deluded by your choice of what to believe, which is causing you to ignore reality in order to hold on to your ideology.

      • #7 by Black Flag® on June 16, 2011 - 15:20

        Scott,
        The State exists on the requirement and necessity to use violence to solve non-violent problems. This is not an assertion.

        Using violence to solve non-violent problems must increase violence – where there was none, after there is some. This is not an assertion but a fact of action.

        You wish to use more violence to attempt to control the consequences of increased violence caused by using violence to solve non-violent problems.

        This, again self-evidently, can only increase the amount of violence even more, resulting in more of the problems caused by violence to occur.

        …to which you will prescribe more violence to solve….

        You deny there is less government then 100 years ago? Thus, it is not an assertion I make, but a fact that the legitimized violence is increasing, not decreasing

        It is obvious you have limited means to analysis your own field of study due to your necessity to apologize for your pay master – government and its loot.

  4. #8 by renaissanceguy on June 16, 2011 - 14:11

    I couldn’t say it any better than Black Flag. His comments here are exactly in line with what I would say.

    I might add that you seem to think that people are stupid. If people think that unions will benefit them, then they will be part of them. I think you insult workers by claiming that they are not making rational, objective decisions regarding their economic situations.

    • #9 by Scott Erb on June 16, 2011 - 14:26

      I have this argument with a colleague. She says people are stupid, as we go over examples of war, abuse, atrocities, and the way people often allow others to walk all over them, enabling evil. I say people are ignorant. Clearly people do a lot of stupid, ignorant things. History proves that. To deny that would be very naive.

      Also, note one can be rational yet ignorant. Rational choice simply means maximizing your expected utility. Bad and incomplete information can yield rational yet disastrous choices. However, if you follow psychology you’ll see that it appears most people make choices from the gut and commit numerous cognitive biases. That may seem insulting to you, but again — studies of psychology, decision making, and human history show it to be true. Reality can’t be denied just because it seems to insult the way people make decisions.

      But the conclusion need not be seen as insulting. I do think people can get informed and make good choices, but it takes work, and in a complex society there isn’t enough time to learn about all the consequences of the myriad of choices we make. Chemicals in our food and other products are poisoning us, for instance, but big lobby money from the chemical industry prevents regulations. My wife and I are reading the science and learning about it, and we’re making new choices. But most people don’t take the time to do that. And that’s understandable given how many demands are on our time. That’s why we need politics, the state and regulation for issues like that.
      Remember to test your ideology against reality.

  5. #10 by renaissanceguy on June 16, 2011 - 14:17

    I did think of one more thing. It’s a question. It sounds facetious, but I really am asking sincerely.

    What do you think all those wealthy people are doing with that extra wealth–hiding it under their mattresses?

    • #11 by Scott Erb on June 16, 2011 - 14:29

      Most are probably consuming goods produced overseas. I suspect it stimulates the Chinese economy immensely! They clearly aren’t doing things that improve the conditions for American workers — the stats prove that. Again, reality trumps theory. Your theory may tell you they should be investing and that should help everyone. But if your theory’s expectations are not met by reality, then you have to jettison either the theory or reality. The former is much more expendable!

      • #12 by BlackFlag on June 16, 2011 - 15:39

        Scott,

        So you believe a man who lives next door does not deserve to work, so that you can get your money and life at the expense of others.

        The Rich do not invest their money to help YOU!

        That is a level of conceit that you display that other people must work to make your life easier.

        The Rich invest where the returns of that invest is higher than the cost. This is the only sustainable economic action.

        If you are able to take their wealth and grow it by your action they will “help” you, but if you are one who consumes more than you produce, they will avoid you.

  6. #13 by BlackFlag on June 16, 2011 - 15:34

    Scott,

    I have this argument with a colleague. She says people are stupid, as we go over examples of war, abuse, atrocities, and the way people often allow others to walk all over them, enabling evil. I say people are ignorant. Clearly people do a lot of stupid, ignorant things. History proves that. To deny that would be very naive.

    And, with no surprise, disagree with both of you.

    People are generally self-centered with a high time preference – thus, will tend to take the short-term, easier path to achieve their immediate needs and wants, and ignore the long-term consequences of those actions that may make their lives worse.

    People generally live under the “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we may die” attitude. They ignore the long term because they hold that they have a chance of dying before the consequences of “pragmatism over principles” actually effects them.

    When those consequences are delivered, and they are not dead, they will often resort to appealing to legitimized violence providers to mitigate those negative consequences and apply the cost of those consequences upon people who have not followed the short-term preferences.

    If this is accepted, then society begins to dissolve.

    By rewarding short-term thinking, you get more of it. By punishing long-term thinking, you get less of it.

  7. #14 by Scott Erb on June 16, 2011 - 17:16

    Saying people are constrained is just a fact, I’m not claiming I or anyone should get whatever they want. Some people use power to manipulate and exploit others.

    I’ve studied a lot of British history. You’re attributing claims to me that I never made. I did not say pre-industrial Britain was good (it wasn’t) nor did I say that things didn’t get better in the industrial revolution. I only noted that one group of people were brutalized, lived lives of constant exploitation, working 70 to 80 hours a week, having children forced to work with no opportunity, while a small group lived in luxury off their labor. Political action and the threat of a socialist revolution helped change that! No serious scholar would think it would have happened naturally without the politics — just as the Egyptians didn’t give up their slaves naturally, neither would have early industrialists if the workers didn’t organize and fight back!

    I reject a fetish with physical violence while ignoring structural and economic force, which by my experience and study is far more harmful in its impact on people and their freedom than just physical violence. There is no logical reason to focus on one form of force and dismiss the others. That is purely arbitrary. To equate government with violence is just a bit silly. Well governed society have less crime and violence than societies were government has broken down. Democratic societies have historically low levels of violence, Europe is especially safe.

    History shows that only in simple and small societies do free markets work. They otherwise always break down as those with power and wealth learn to manipulate it. They do not possess magical mechanisms that prevent that from happening. The state functions in a complex market to try to limit that manipulation and hold the use of power accountable to the people. Anarchies would exist if they were possible; they don’t exist because they break down into chaos and ultimately people find a way to achieve some kind of social order.

    Also note that individualism is a relatively recent phenomenon. Most of history has had people living in collective community units, where their own goals and morals mesh with others. People were highly connected to others and had a strong support system, as well as a sense of meaning and value inherent in their role in the community. Individuation — which I think is a good development — has also created real challenges both politically and psychologically, as people now have the responsibility to live a life of value (or at least find value in their lives), something that used to be a natural part of their existence in a community. I think you over-estimate the human need for individual freedom and under estimate the human need for community.

    I think we probably agree that with individuation comes a rejection of past involuntary communities in exchange for wanting voluntary ones, and the problem with the state is that it is neither a natural close knit traditional community nor a truly voluntary one. My own view is that the centralized bureaucratic state will soon give way to more localized forms of governance, where people will have more capacity to act and hold those with power accountable, and probably in a few centuries we’ll get closer to the ideal of voluntary communities.

  8. #15 by Black Flag® on June 16, 2011 - 21:04

    Scott Erb

    Saying people are constrained is just a fact,

    Now you complain that I offer facts …. you truly are a nihilist!

    I only noted that one group of people were brutalized, lived lives of constant exploitation, working 70 to 80 hours a week, having children forced to work with no opportunity, while a small group lived in luxury off their labor.

    …or they starve.

    Mises dealt with your argument already.

    Political action and the threat of a socialist revolution helped change that!

    No it didn’t! It was already “changing” long before any socialist revolution!

    No serious scholar would think it would have happened naturally without the politics

    What conceit!

    Unless they agree with you, they can’t be serious.
    Yet, I have posted serious scholars who disagree with you. Perhaps, it is the other way around?

    — just as the Egyptians didn’t give up their slaves naturally, neither would have early industrialists if the workers didn’t organize and fight back!

    Yes, this is your issue.

    You do not discern any difference between the power by rhetoric and persuasion with power of violent force.

    You believe they are the same thing, and therefore justify violence on the non-violent as a means to “change people’s mind” for you believe persuasion and rhetoric is no different then gunfire.

    I reject a fetish with physical violence while ignoring structural and economic force, which by my experience and study is far more harmful in its impact on people and their freedom than just physical violence.

    You jest!

    You hold that having to pay your mortgage is WORSE than knife in your back!

    There is no logical reason to focus on one form of force and dismiss the others.

    You are bizarre!

    The force at a barrel of gun is not the same as power of choice!

    Saying “yes or no” to your demand is NOT the same as gunning you down in the street!!

    To equate government with violence is just a bit silly.

    …Silly you!

    Government IS the monopoly of the initiation of violence within a geographic area.

    As I pointed out before, you are an apologist to your paymaster.

    Well governed society have less crime and violence than societies were government has broken down

    You believe the centralization of violence lowers it – yet, +300 million dead due to government in the 20th century carries no weight on your mind.

    You believe the Mafia could do such!

    Yes, lack of centralization of violence tends to take away the low-level, decentralized, disorganized, very rare, but very personal violence (crime),

    Centralization of violence leads to a high-level, high-intensity, centralized, organized, and constant but very broadly applied over large populations….you argue the latter is better than the former, where as history shows the piles of millions upon millions of dead at your argument’s feet.

    History shows that only in simple and small societies do free markets work.

    Nonsense!

    History has shown that free markets are the single greatest provider of human prosperity!

    They otherwise always break down as those with power and wealth learn to manipulate it. They do not possess magical mechanisms that prevent that from happening.

    There is no case – none whatsoever – that you can point to where the wealthy “break down” the free market.

    You will always end up pointing to the application of violent force as the cause of such a break down.

    You need to ignore this fact for acknowledge it would undermine the entire base of your livelihood.

    The state functions in a complex market to try to limit that manipulation and hold the use of power accountable to the people.

    Bull.
    Muddling in something that one cannot comprehend will tend to destroy, not build.

    As Hayek worte in “Road to Serfdom” your conceit that you know better about the needs and wants of other men then those men know of themselves is fatal to men.

    The State always expands in its violent reach until eventually it dominates and society crumbles to poverty and depredation, where the thief loses to the murderer, and massive slaughter of men becomes the norm.

    Anarchies would exist if they were possible; they don’t exist because they break down into chaos and ultimately people find a way to achieve some kind of social order.

    Not true.

    They do exist – for 99.9% of your life exercises such “anarchy”.

    Government exists because the profit from violence is very high.

    It takes months to till, plant, grow and harvest a crop, and 10 minutes to steal it.

    It is a dangerous game, however, as theft is evil, immoral and is resisted with violence.

    Thus organized violence improves the ability of the thief and reduces his risk

    But, best of all, is legitimized theft – for now the thief claims a “right” to steal.

    Also note that individualism is a relatively recent phenomenon. Most of history has had people living in collective community units, where their own goals and morals mesh with others. People were highly connected to others and had a strong support system, as well as a sense of meaning and value inherent in their role in the community.

    Individualism has always existed in human history.

    Cooperation does not contradict individualism – in fact, individual and voluntary cooperation enhance each other dramatically.

    My own view is that the centralized bureaucratic state will soon give way to more localized forms of governance, where people will have more capacity to act and hold those with power accountable, and probably in a few centuries we’ll get closer to the ideal of voluntary communities.

    I see the same – but it is not a “giving way”, for the State never relinquishes its power voluntarily.

    It will happen when the State is no longer able to support itself, its evil will have degraded social order to a point it implodes.

    From that collapse, the People may choose to repudiate Centralist systems and cleave to a more local structure.

    This will disperse the legitimacy of violence to a certain degree, but not completely as there is a large enough community of misguided people who have the same deficiency in their ability to discern power and violence – which will mean, eventually, the same collapse that devastated the Federal system will devastate the local systems of government as well.

    Will it take centuries?
    No, I do not see this either. Human development of technology is exponential, and we are reaching the massive “explosion” tail of our achievements.

    Technology is one of the most powerful geopolitical forces that causes massive societal change.

    Technology is empowering the Individual as never before in human history to resist the violent power of others. This will accelerate to a point so fast that the stone-feet of centralized planning will be completely overwhelmed and dispersed into the dust bin of history.

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  9. #16 by Scott Erb on June 16, 2011 - 22:07

    I’ll deal with your whole argument more later, but I’ll give you two examples of fundamentally dishonest and illogical argumentation you use.

    First: I argue that structural and economic force is often more consequential than mere physical force. You respond that “so paying your mortgage is worse than a knife in your back.” You show that you have no real response with that kind of absurd reply. That’s like someone saying “sometimes a bug bite is worse than a fall” (which is true, sometimes bug bites can kill) and you responding “you think getting bit by a mosquito is worse than falling off a cliff.” Clearly that’s not what’s intended and such a snide reply only demonstrates lack of good faith on the person making the argument. The fact is that overall structural and economic violence is far more harmful to freedom and human life than mere physical force. But not in every instance.

    The other thing is to say “Mises already dealt with your argument.’ No, I’ve never had a discussion with Mises. I also know that he is not a God, and many people disagree with him. And you don’t say what it is that Mises actually said. So you’ve given nothing but another snide reply that makes it appear that you’re responding when you aren’t. That kind of tactic is both annoying and dishonest — but it also shows you probably recognize the flaws in your arguments. More later.

  10. #17 by Black Flag® on June 16, 2011 - 22:35

    Scott Erb

    First: I argue that structural and economic force is often more consequential than mere physical force.

    It is you who is dishonest.

    You said, specifically:

    structural and economic force, which by my experience and study is far more harmful in its impact on people and their freedom than just physical violence.

    Economics is human choice in action – and all action creates consequences.

    Physical violenceis an action, and has consequences, and far worse one, such as killing – hard to make a case that there is worse consequence then being killed by another man.

    I have never seen a man whipped and chained by the word “no, I do not want your deal”.

    You respond that “so paying your mortgage is worse than a knife in your back.”

    You are the one who specifically said you found no logical difference between the power of rhetoric and the power of violence – you words, again, sir:

    There is no logical reason to focus on one form of force and dismiss the others.

    OBVIOUSLY THERE ARE MANY LOGICAL REASONS TO FOCUS ON VIOLENCE – as it typically ends in DEATH.

    I know of no man who has found a way to correct the damage of killing another man.

    The fact is that overall structural and economic violence is far more harmful to freedom and human life than mere physical force.

    Bullcrap.

    You have no fact whatsoever to demonstrate this.

    Every single instance of massive loss of human life, the enslavement of men, the mass starvation of men has been due to the actions of other men has come from the application of physical violence.

    And you don’t say what it is that Mises actually said.

    Ah, the nihilist strikes again.

    I quote his own writing, but you don’t even believe he said it!!

    More later

    I can’t wait….

  11. #18 by Scott Erb on June 17, 2011 - 00:04

    I’d much rather be slapped in the face than have someone so control my economic destiny that the choice is either to starve on the farm or have my children be forced to work in factories with no educational opportunity. The fact of the matter is our very life courses and capacities are shaped by those who control wealth and the economic structure of society. This is often done without physical force. There is absolutely no objective logical reason to say physical force is the only thing to focus on as wrong. That is an inherently and fundamentally irrational proposition. Moreover, you’ve done nothing to support it.

    Economic and structural violence keep people living horrific lives in sweat shops, in ghettos, unable to work, unable to give their children a future. Luckily it’s power has been diminished in Europe and the US because of politics, and now even the poor have real opportunities and people are no longer as constrained by structure and economic force than they were in the past. That is a political accomplishment that has expanded liberty and opportunity in a way no other society has achieved in history. Economic and structural power can do worse than kill. Your dancing around this by coming up silly examples like mortgage payments and signing a contract shows that deep down you know that you have an inherently untenable position. Your whole “religion” here rests on this idea of putting physical force as the one thing that is bad, and putting your hands over your ears and going “lalalalala” when it is pointed out that such a position is irrational and has no objective basis. Lives are destroyed without any physical force being used, and this has been true throughout history. It’s also well studied in social science and part of what every student learns.

    For you to claim that things would have progressed and changed without political action is impossible since you can’t run history without that political action. In any event, lives were for over a generation ruined and manipulated like that, and those people had a right to fight against it, with force if necessary. If wealthy folk are controlling the game to the point my children are condemned to a bleak future having to start dangerous work in the factory at age 9, paid barely enough to survive with no education, than those people living with wealth off our work are doing such violence and harm to me that I am justified to work with others to try to overthrow the system. I believe democracy and non-violence the way it was done — unions organizing, political action, appeal to the equal rights of all — is the way to do it. But to sit back and do nothing would not be an option because lives are being destroyed by raw brute force — even if there is no direct initiation of physical violence.

    I’ve read Hayek, I agree with some of what he says, but you seem to: a) treat the people you agree with as pure authorities; and b) don’t recognize that things don’t apply completely to all situations. Economic theories deals in an “all other things being equal” world, but all other things are never equal. Trying to understand reality from philosophy is a dead end, reality is far too complex.

    Your knowledge of governments is a caricature. You tried to claim they could never cut spending, an absurd claim since so many have. Now you say they’ll never voluntarily give up power, but that’s also been very common, especially in countries that transition to democracy. Government is PEOPLE. Moreover, big corporations are also PEOPLE. Governments and big corporations are corporate identities who left to their own devices will abuse power without being held accountable. Democracy is the best way to hold them accountable if there is rule of law. WIthout rule of law the market is impotent to prevent powerful actors from thwarting it and ultimately destroying it. Markets are not some mystical magical thing that operate on their own!

    I do believe technology is empowering people and there will be demands for change — and these will be done via governmental reform over time. Governments are people, and in democracies the people can hold them far more accountable because of rule of law than any market could. Markets are not magic nor do they operate in the complex real world the way an economic theorist might posit “all other things being equal.”

    You have your ideological faith. You treat it like a religion. It is not objective. It is not based on reason. It is in denial of reality. But hey, when threatened you can yell “you nihilist” to those who don’t share your faith (sort of the equivalent of a religious person calling another a ‘heathen.’) But argument by labeling also is irrational and has no objective basis. Markets are not magic. There are many ways to enslave and deny freedom that do not require physical violence. I’ve given examples, history has proven it. You have nothing but theory — and theories are by definition extreme simplifications of reality resting on assumptions that are questionable.

    I do agree governments can be the most dangerous corporate identity. But they exist everywhere because there can be no complex society without governance. Stalin can do far worse than organized crime (though at some level the difference between the two becomes negligible), but I’m sure glad to live in a place where a democratic government limits the mafia.

    Thanks to the governments in the industrialized west, we suffer not only less structural and economic violence, but also live very safe lives, with fewer threats than in much of history. That trumps any theory one can posit — it’s reality.

  12. #19 by Black Flag® on June 17, 2011 - 07:56

    Scott Erb

    I’d much rather be slapped in the face than have someone so control my economic destiny that the choice is either to starve on the farm or have my children be forced to work in factories with no educational opportunity.

    But that is not your choice, Scott.

    It is either starve or work.

    Or you want choice #3, which means you steal and kill.

    I believe you choose barbarian, and are anti-civilization, for you would kill a man who says “no” to your demand that he feed you.

    The fact of the matter is our very life courses and capacities are shaped by those who control wealth and the economic structure of society.

    The fact is that there are such men regardless of wealth who are men who control the levers of violence.

    This is often done without physical force.

    Of course – using reason and argument – move men to decide differently – but to you this is the same as a man with a gun, who has no reason but violence

    There is absolutely no objective logical reason to say physical force is the only thing to focus on as wrong.

    Define “wrong”, Scott.

    I define “wrong” as contradiction -what’s your definition? Merely someone who disagrees with you?

    That is an inherently and fundamentally irrational proposition. Moreover, you’ve done nothing to support it.

    It is you who must demonstrate support that violence is the same as rhetoric, not me.

    Economic and structural violence keep people living horrific lives in sweat shops, in ghettos, unable to work, unable to give their children a future.

    The alternative you propose is murder and theft, or stopping the people from earning a living. You believe them dead to be a better life then earning a meager living.

    Luckily it’s power has been diminished in Europe and the US because of politics

    Bull Crap.

    As the size of the market grows with the production of more and more goods, the exchange of wealth accelerates –with no violence necessary to promote

    This is the real story of the Industrial Revolution.
    Before the Revolution, there was little market for goods of production – but as Say’s Law demonstrates “Products buy products” and as production goods increased, so did the market for goods.

    As the market expand, so did the prosperity of all the people in that market – no government required.

    . That is a political accomplishment that has expanded liberty and opportunity in a way no other society has achieved in history.

    Bull Crap.

    The politic accomplishment is to leave 300 million dead in the 20th century.

    The economic gains of free market systems is wholly the reason for expansion of wealth and opportunity in spite of politics

    Economic and structural power can do worse than kill.

    I stand amazed at a man who says being dead is better than living.

    Your dancing around this by coming up silly examples like mortgage payments and signing a contract shows that deep down you know that you have an inherently untenable position.

    NO, it is a statement at the perversity and bizarreness of your position that claims a man is better off working with a gun to his head than by economic choices.

    Your whole “religion” here rests on this idea of putting physical force as the one thing that is bad,

    It is not the only thing bad.

    But that does not mean it is not bad itself – indeed it is wholly terrible, abhorrent and destructive

    I have yet to find cities blasted away with bombs of voluntary trade, but governments do a damn fine job of it.

    and putting your hands over your ears and going “lalalalala” when it is pointed out that such a position is irrational and has no objective basis.

    You, sir, are irrational as you believe the force of reason and rhetoric to be the same as gun fire.

    Lives are destroyed without any physical force being used

    When I say “no” to your deal may indeed cause you not to get my goods. But that is not my fault – but yours – as you are unable to provide any value at all to me for trade.

    You response: “If you say no to me, I will kill you”.

    You a barbarian.

    , and this has been true throughout history. It’s also well studied in social science and part of what every student learns.

    I pity your students.

    For you to claim that things would have progressed and changed without political action is impossible since you can’t run history without that political action

    I did not say that, Scott – oh, Master of Strawmen.

    You bet politics makes changes for the worse

    . In any event, lives were for over a generation ruined and manipulated like that, and those people had a right to fight against it, with force if necessary.

    Yep, you are a barbarian.

    If a man does not agree to your deal, you will beat him until he does.

    If wealthy folk are controlling the game to the point my children are condemned to a bleak future having to start dangerous work in the factory at age 9, paid barely enough to survive with no education, than those people living with wealth off our work are doing such violence and harm to me that I am justified to work with others to try to overthrow the system.

    But you ignore that such the alternative to the “bleak” future you claim was death. But that is better for your children, right?

    I believe democracy and non-violence the way it was done — unions organizing, political action, appeal to the equal rights of all — is the way to do it.

    You do not believe in equal rights at all.

    You believe your wants override those of other people – they cannot say “no” to you, otherwise you will attack them.

    Your mantra:

    “Freedom for me, but not for you”

    But to sit back and do nothing would not be an option because lives are being destroyed by raw brute force — even if there is no direct initiation of physical violence.

    Bull crap.

    Any aspect of “brute” force requires physical violence – or you are merely changing the meaning of the concepts to suit your bizarre argument.

    I’ve read Hayek, I agree with some of what he says, but you seem to: a) treat the people you agree with as pure authorities; and b) don’t recognize that things don’t apply completely to all situations.

    No, I hold no one as an authority. That is your fault. You need “proof” and if such proof comes from a man with letters behind his name, you hold him up.

    I don’t care about what degree you have, where you were born, or how much money you have.

    If you can’t argue your position consistently with a principle, you don’t win.

    And, Scott, you aren’t winning.

    Economic theories deals in an “all other things being equal” world

    Bull Crap.

    Economic theories – like all theories – attempts to explain outcomes based on data and observation.

    , but all other things are never equal. Trying to understand reality from philosophy is a dead end, reality is far too complex.

    Your nihilist streak will never be suppressed, “we cannot understand reality because it is too complex, so why bother?”

    Your knowledge of governments is a caricature. </blockquote

    My knowledge of goverment is learned, specific, defined, and proven by all of history. To you this is a cartoon.

    You tried to claim they could never cut spending, an absurd claim since so many have.

    If you would read my post – “cut spending in significant areas”. Sure, they can cut garbage collection or library hours – big f’n deal.

    Now you say they’ll never voluntarily give up power, but that’s also been very common, especially in countries that transition to democracy.

    Where has government “given up” power voluntarily to form another type of government?

    Are you are confused about the change of shirt color to be significant in change of government

    Government is PEOPLE.

    No, it is not.

    It is an abstraction and an institution – whose existence demands real people die for it.

    Moreover, big corporations are also PEOPLE.

    No, it is not.

    It is an abstraction of government law designed to mitigate negative consequences of aberrant behavior of some people while providing opportunity for the same people to enjoy the benefits of such behavior.

    As all things government, it transfers negative consequences from those that do the act onto innocent people.

    Governments and big corporations are corporate identities who left to their own devices will abuse power without being held accountable

    How will you enforce your accountability? Yep, that’s right -you can’t.

    You hold a massive contradiction.

    You hold government to be the creator and enforcer of laws that will restrain government.

    You demand the enforcer to enforce on itself, and you believe this works.

    You are extremely naive.

    . Democracy is the best way to hold them accountable if there is rule of law.

    Democracy is the worse possible form of government.

    It marries “diffuse responsibility” with “unlimited justification” for any action – a combination that will may cause the greatest slaughter of humanity.

    WIthout rule of law the market is impotent to prevent powerful actors from thwarting it and ultimately destroying it.

    Violence overwhelms reason – but you believe they are the same thing, so you cannot discern one from the other.

    Law is not the question – the question is “what law”?

    Law that impose violence on the non-violent makes the market impotent, and empowers evil corrupt men.

    Markets are not some mystical magical thing that operate on their own!

    Bizarre!

    Markets are people in action.

    People do operate on their own for reasons that are theirs. It is not magic as you seem to believe – but the consequence of human self-organization.

    I do believe technology is empowering people and there will be demands for change — and these will be done via governmental reform over time. Governments are people, and in democracies the people can hold them far more accountable because of rule of law than any market could.

    Utter Bull!

    It is the market that is holding government accountable right now, not some “democracy”.

    The market is punishing governments all over the global for their waste, corruption and violence – regardless of who the people “vote” into office.

    The market is the ultimate reckoning.

    You have your ideological faith.

    No, I have coherent theory proven by cause/consequence.

    You are the one living on faith – that a man knows more about another man then the man himself – allowing you to inflict violence upon him to compel him to feed you.

    “you nihilist” to those who don’t share your faith

    No, I yell “nihilist” at you when you complain about reason and fact.

    But they exist everywhere because there can be no complex society without governance.

    They exist everywhere because the profit of theft and violence is very high compared to the effort.

    When the ability of men to defend themselves improves, government is pushed back and freedom grows.

    When the ability of men to defend themselves diminishes, government grows and freedom are diminished.

    Stalin can do far worse than organized crime (though at some level the difference between the two becomes negligible), but I’m sure glad to live in a place where a democratic government limits the mafia.

    Now, I do understand your decision for such a trade-off.

    Most people seem to rather have the constant roar of government theft, murder and violence – generally predictable in its application – then live free of such violence for most of their lives, but threatened by the rare, individual, and unpredictable – but relatively minor – violence of hoodlums and criminals.

    They would prefer to die among millions and millions others under the same circumstance then live in fear if a bad neighborhood of hoods.

    The irony, the mafia and criminals are not deterred at all by your trade off.

    They still are there.

    You are still subject to their rare, individual, unpredictable, but minor violence – except now, you have a massive murdering monster that has no problem blasting your children into small pieces.

    You take the Faustian deal – you ask evil to guard you from evil, and then sit stunned as evil wins.

  13. #20 by Scott Erb on June 17, 2011 - 12:02

    No, my choice is not starve or be exploited — I can also join with others and rebel against a system that enslaves me and my children. I would do that and be justified. You give me no reason why I should consider that kind of situation just. Politics is the use of rhetoric and reason to try to force change. Those with the power won’t give it up in response to reasoned argument — that’s been proven historically. So if a few people somehow have managed to grab enough property and wealth to constrain the freedom of others, then politics is the way to change that. The goal is to promote freedom. Wealth in the hands of a few denies freedom. There is no reason to consider any given distribution of property just.

    For you to equate 300 million dead with the progress of politics in the industrialized West is ridiculous. Politics OVERCAME that. It overcame communism, fascism and now has created the best standard of living and most safety ever. Some kind of silly anarchist fantasy may be amusing, but there is NOTHING in reality to cause anyone to take it seriously. In reality anarchy equals chaos and insecurity.

    You do not have a coherent theory. You have not made a rational argument. You have faith, it is arbitrary, subjective and does not even hang together as a coherent world view. That’s fine — it’s fantasy and you can hold it if you want. But those of us who deal with REALITY recognize that we act in the world politically and vague subjective theories like yours — which you can’t even defend without unsubstantiated assertions or claims that somehow people have no choice but to either starve or accept a wasted life and no opportunity for their children — are meaningless.

    Now, within all that you have some valid points. Because you are dogmatic, those valid points get lost in the fog of your arbitrary belief system. But the goal is to increase individual freedom, to hold the use of power accountable, and work against violence, both economic and physical. You’ve been deluded by a “philosophy” that has only emotional appeal but cannot stand up to reason (which is why you don’t lay it out, instead you label, dodge, weave and become verbose — you can’t lay out a logical philosophy in clear cogent terms because you have none). I don’t expect you to do it here, but you really need to look inside and ask yourself if maybe you’ve been fooled by a “philosophy” which appealed to you emotionally, which proported to be objective, but which really is nothing but whim and fantasy.

  14. #21 by Black Flag® on June 17, 2011 - 16:53

    Scott Erb

    No, my choice is not starve or be exploited — I can also join with others and rebel against a system that enslaves me and my children.

    That’s what I said above, option #3, “…which means you steal and kill…” – evil behavior upon non-violent men to take their property on your whim.

    I would do that and be justified.

    Justified to other thieves and murderers who have no problem attacking non-violent men to meet their ends.

    You give me no reason why I should consider that kind of situation just.

    I don’t give a damn about what you think is just.

    “Justice” is subjective to an individual – and has no merit in deciding objective law and societal organization.

    What is Right – that is what are your Rights – is paramount and immune to what you -emotionally- believe is “fair” or “just”

    Politics is the use of rhetoric and reason to try to force change.

    No, it does not.

    It uses rhetoric to justify its irrational actions.

    Violence overwhelms reason. You can try to reason with a barbarian, but he merely ignores you has he pounds your head in.

    A politician is a man who believes he knows more than others, but failing to convince others of this, resorts to legitimized violence to enforce himself on others

    Those with the power won’t give it up in response to reasoned argument — that’s been proven historically.

    What power?

    A man who is immune to reason is soon marginalized as his methods and actions will tend to fail – this is the way of the Universe. His “power” of rhetoric diminishes as the people avoid his irrational behavior.

    Unreasoned men of violence refuse the people’s marginalization – they pick up a club and beat the people into accepting their irrational ideas.

    So if a few people somehow have managed to grab enough property and wealth to constrain the freedom of others

    Please explain how a “few” people can constrain the freedom of others without using physical violence.

    The goal is to promote freedom.

    You do not promote freedom by destroying the freedom of other men.

    What you really mean, for yourself, gleaned from your comments:

    Freedom for me, but not for you

    Wealth in the hands of a few denies freedom.

    Wealth represents successful solutions to human problems.

    The accumulation of wealth is a sign of successfully solving human problems consistently.

    Wealth in the hands of a few is never a problem.

    Violence is always a problem.

    Some people of wealth will use their wealth to buy the providers of violence so to
    (1) take it away from their enemies use
    (2) use it against their adversaries
    (3) with the consequence they often use it to steal wealth from others.

    But some people of limited wealth also obtain the services of the providers of violence by giving these providers legitimacy to use violence, and these people encourage violence
    (1) to take wealth from others for their benefit
    (2) prevent others from taking what wealth they have.

    Thus the conflict becomes who controls access to the providers of violence – and few debate on whether violence on the non-violent is necessary at all.

    It is the existence of legitimized violence providers that makes the situation, not the amount of wealth a person may or may not have.

    There is no reason to consider any given distribution of property just.

    There are plenty of reasons to consider that particular distribution of property is Rightful

    For you to equate 300 million dead with the progress of politics in the industrialized West is ridiculous.

    No, it is a fact.

    Politics OVERCAME that.

    If slaughtering 300 million people is a good answer, it could only be an answer from barbarians.

    It overcame communism, fascism and now has created the best standard of living and most safety ever.

    Politics does not provide standard of living – markets do.

    Never in human history has the threat of our extinction by our own hands been higher and that is wholly opposite of “safe” and wholly the consequence of politics.

    Some kind of silly anarchist fantasy may be amusing, but there is NOTHING in reality to cause anyone to take it seriously. In reality anarchy equals chaos and insecurity.

    Such a bizarre thinking, given that 99.9% of your life is anarchy!

    Violence overwhelms reason – and thus, it is the use of violence and not reason that creates disorder and death.

    Government is violence – government is not reason, it is force – and it is the creator of disorder, death and destruction on massive scales.

    “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” –
    George Washington

    You do not have a coherent theory.

    I have many coherent theory – what theory are you muddling in your head here?

    You have not made a rational argument.

    The nihilist strikes again.

    But the goal is to increase individual freedom,

    You are incoherent.

    You say here “increase individual freedom”, but you proclaim the best way is to use the entity that is the greatest destroyer of freedom.

    to hold the use of power accountable

    You have no means to hold violent power accountable, as you believe you can use that very power as your means.

    You ask evil to enforce itself upon itself – a completely irrational demand.

    , and work against violence, both economic and physical.

    You pervert meanings of words to justify evil.

    Revolution within the form is a subversive tactic that seeks surreptitiously to replace the form of old things or words with new and/or progressive meanings in order to bring about a contrary state of things that normally would not be accepted by society

    You know violence is abhorrent, but you require it to achieve your ends.

    So you redefine violence to include free, non-violent human choice – such as saying “NO!” to your irrational demands – as being “violent” to you.

    Then you justify using massive physical violence on such people by claiming the “right” to respond to “your new defined violence” with “violence” under the doctrine of self-defense.

    You will justify any violence upon anyone at your whim, and be proud of it.

    It is an evil tactic you choose, Scott, and one -should it become dominate in society- will destroy civilization.

  15. #22 by Scott Erb on June 17, 2011 - 17:41

    You seem to think it’s OK for a small group of people to own most property and control the working conditions of others, denying them real life opportunities and education for their children. I think that’s unjust. Neither of us can prove what we believe is true, so the result is politics. I can’t convince you, you can’t convince me. You can label me and make assertions, I can reject those assertions. Thus political conflict and potentially violence is inevitable. Moreover, you see physical violence is the worst. I saw even the capacity to use physical violence often rests on structural and economic force, which is more fundamental in defining power relations and constraining freedom. You disagree. You cannot prove your point. I cannot prove mine. So inevitably, there is politics. 99.6% of life anarchy? But when governments break down, as they have in many places, things get chaotic and violence expands — the 99.6% is a result of how we’ve constructed good functioning governments. To get rid of government would risk having that 99.6% get much uglier!

    And when pushed you throw out impotent labels like “nihilist” or “evil.” You say there is no way to hold power accountable when in Poli-Sci we study and measure levels of accountability all the time. You point out “slaughtering 300 million” as if that proved all politics wrong, not just some ideologies and actions. That is irrational on its face.

    You have no argument, you have subjective belief, labeling and a lot of bluster. Until you can prove your point there is no reason for me and others to agree or act differently. As long as people like us — and others with other points of view — disagree, there will be politics. No one has ever found one objectively right way to look at the world — at least not one that’s convinced me or most others. A lot of people claim to have found such a view. When the light of hard questions and demands for evidence is put on such claims, it turns out they rest on assumptions and core beliefs that are arbitrary and questionable. So politics is inevitable — the nature of our debate proves it!

  16. #23 by Black Flag® on June 17, 2011 - 18:17

    Scott Erb

    You seem to think it’s OK for a small group of people to own most property and control the working conditions of others, denying them real life opportunities and education for their children.

    I hold that men are free to use their property and wealth as they wish as it is their wealth and property.

    They are not “denying” anyone opportunity, nor denying education.

    They are trading wealth for wealth with other people – both sides trading what they have for what they want.

    You hate this, because you have little value to trade, so you wish to justify stealing it right now, instead of earning it with effort over a period of time.

    Your philosophy is low-class socialism – with immediacy of time preference, short term goals with no consideration of long term consequences, compromises of rights and principles for short term gain; the mentality of criminals.

    I think that’s unjust.

    (shrug)

    Subjective emotional appeal

    I like the color black – you don’t. (Shrug) Regardless if you like it or not, I painted my car black.

    Neither of us can prove what we believe is true, so the result is politics.

    I need not prove my belief based on your belief. I merely act consistent with my own.

    And that is why you are wrong and irrational.

    You hold, for yourself, the right to hold property and wish to be free.

    You contradict yourself when dealing with others – you hold they have no right to their property nor their freedom.

    I can’t convince you, you can’t convince me.

    I am not trying to convince you – you have already built a paradigm that rests on irrational and contradicted beliefs.

    In my experience, when a man who holds a paradigm that provides his living, and confronted by reason that shows what he has held to be true to be a massive, evil, contradiction – he will more often ignore reason and cleave even harder to his irrational paradigm.

    Thus political conflict and potentially violence is inevitable.

    Violence is never inevitable, except for those that are barbarians.

    Moreover, you see physical violence is the worst. I saw even the capacity to use physical violence often rests on structural and economic force, which is more fundamental in defining power relations and constraining freedom.

    It is not based on “economic” force whatsoever.

    The capacity to use violence increases or decreases based on the legitimacy to use violence.

    You increase your capacity to use violence as a means of self-defense, for your use of violence is legitimate in protecting yourself and others, will support you.

    You will decrease your capacity to use violence as a means to obtain property by theft, for your use of violence is illegitimate, and other will resist you

    But you demand that using evil (violence on the non-violent) must be legitimized for you require theft to obtain your resources – and that requires, correctly as you stated, institutionalization of violence for it to be legitimized.

    But when governments break down, as they have in many places, things get chaotic and violence expands — the 99.6% is a result of how we’ve constructed good functioning governments.

    Here we agree (minus “good functioning government” – such a beast does not, nor cannot exist)

    People have built their own compensations to the evil distortions of government so to survive its destructive characteristics – like a human body that sits in bad posture, the body compensates. Over time, the compensation to the distortion becomes the “normal”.

    And similarly, a sudden removal of government removes the distortions, but the people’s compensation cannot resolve itself as fast – creating disorder and confusion, like a body is turned into good posture, the compensation becomes the irritation and body pain is the result, motivating the person actually back into the bad posture to avoid pain.

    And same with Government and the People. People overthrow government … creating disorder and confusion, so replace it with the same thing (but different people)… and nothing changes except the faces using evil.

    However, this does not mean we must accept bad posture! Indeed, we must move to good posture regardless of the pain – but place some effort in the path so to make the transition acceptable.

    This does not mean, equally, that we accept more bad posture!

    You say there is no way to hold power accountable when in Poli-Sci we study and measure levels of accountability all the time.

    No matter how much study, or claim to “science” you make, you cannot resolve a contradiction.

    You believe you can bury evil in enough paperwork so to continue its evil. But evil will dutifully fill out all your forms and then hang you.

    More later.

  17. #24 by Black Flag® on June 17, 2011 - 18:18

    You believe you can bury evil in enough paperwork so to CONTAIN its evil. But evil will dutifully fill out all your forms and then hang you.

  18. #25 by Scott Erb on June 17, 2011 - 19:31

    I disagree that any distribution of property is fair just because it exists. You seem to assume that whatever property distribution exists, that’s OK, and it’s immoral to question it. The example I gave was people using their control over property to shape the lives of others and deny freedom. You cannot deny that happened. It’s happened throughout history. If you control the economy and property — especially if control is in just a few hands — they can control the peasants, workers, or whatever group doesn’t have property. Those differences of status and wealth cannot simply be assumed to be fair. To pretend that many people won’t use their advantage to manipulate or control others would be to deny both history and human nature. It might be through physical force, but it might just be by using their economic power and control of property to constrain the choices of others.

    You also don’t understand contradictions. You can set up contradictory linguistic constructions, but all that is contradiction is that construction, not the underlying reality. The underlying reality is far more complex. A philosophy built on such use of the principle of contradiction is inherently untenable and illogical. It’s based on illusion, the idea that your linguistic constructions match underlying reality. They do not. I do not have a contradiction in my view of property rights. When you vastly over simplify them to create an artificial linguistic construction, you can create the illusion I do. Your self-righteousness is built on illusion.

    The reality is that peoples’ freedom can be denied through physical force, economic power, or structural power (structure = the distribution of power and resources in a society). Any given property distribution is likely the result of a mix of all three of these forces/powers being used. Being the easiest to see and respond to, physical force is the least effective way of manipulating and controlling others; economic and structural force are far more resilient and effective. Moreover, many people see them as natural — a case in point is your unproblematic acceptance of property distribution in early industrial revolution Great Britain. The peasantry, sweat shop workers, and poor living in ghettos without good educational options and opportunities — or third world inhabitants in much of the world — are often living lives where freedom is immensely constrained by those powers. When the wealthy American complains about paying taxes — yet is free to do so much more than these victims of structural and economic violence — they are speaking non-sense.

    How to resolve the problems and work out the best and most fair way to deal with all this is complex and no one has ever found a clear objective theory that can take into account the myriad of contexts and inherently contestable issues. The best way to work through this is through politics, and efforts — increasingly improving efforts — to hold the use of power accountable (the best hold accountable governmental, economic and structural power).

    The problem I see with your approach is not your intent, but you’ve ignored economic and structural violence, and you’ve tried to find a simple way to interpret how reality should be. You also rely on linguistic constructions and language games where you think you’ve found a contradiction, but it’s not a contradiction in reality but in your linguistic construction.

  19. #26 by Black Flag® on June 20, 2011 - 16:29

    Scott,

    I disagree that any distribution of property is fair just because it exists.

    I care nothing about your idea of “fair”. It is wholly irrelevant.

    Distribution of property has only two means:
    – by force
    – by trade

    You believe these two methodologies are equals.

    The example I gave was people using their control over property to shape the lives of others and deny freedom. You cannot deny that happened. It’s happened throughout history.

    I deny YOUR CLAIM that it is wealth that is the reason.

    You have NO EXAMPLE – none, zero, nada – of such.

    Every example you raise shows VIOLENCE is the reason.

    But as you are in need of massive violence to sustain your living, you must advocate for it – and thus, perpetuate the very complaint you raise.

    If you control the economy and property — especially if control is in just a few hands — they can control the peasants, workers, or whatever group doesn’t have property.

    Bull.

    If you control the legitimized violence providers, only then can you control peasants, workers or whoever does not have “property”.

    Property is merely a physical good, and to stop men from owning property, including themselves requires violence.

    To pretend that many people won’t use their advantage to manipulate or control others would be to deny both history and human nature.

    Straw man.

    I have stated plainly that there many ways to convince (your “manipulate”) others – using reason and rhetoric being one I have stated to you.

    You require that reason and rhetoric to be evil as physical violence as a means of “convincing” so that you can support the use of physical violence on reasoned non-violent men

    You can set up contradictory linguistic constructions, but all that is contradiction is that construction, not the underlying reality.

    You jest.

    You are the one who claims non-violent choice is “violence”, and thus the one that suffers contradiction.

    . The reality is that peoples’ freedom can be denied through physical force, economic power, or structural power (structure = the distribution of power and resources in a society).

    You hold a bizarre understanding of freedom, thus confuse yourself to believe that a man’s free choice denies the freedom of others.

    My “NO” to your demand does NOT deny you your freedom.

    You are the same before as after your demand.

    You did not have my goods before and you do not have my goods after.

    My “NO” did nothing to you.

    It is you who attacks freedom by using violence to force my agreement with you.

    The problem I see with your approach is not your intent, but you’ve ignored economic and structural violence, and you’ve tried to find a simple way to interpret how reality should be. You also rely on linguistic constructions and language games where you think you’ve found a contradiction, but it’s not a contradiction in reality but in your linguistic construction.

    I have no linguistic contradictions – that is your realm of claiming non-violent actions are violent.

    You are economically confused and seriously misunderstand economics’s basic tenets.

    You are the one who claims a subjective, emotional appeal (“fair”) somehow creates an objective argument.

    Your position is untenable. You argue FOR violence upon non-violent men as a means to STOP violence on non-violent men. You are contradicted.

    You advocate for political systems as a means for people to resolve conflict, when political systems divide people into exclusive groups, making their coercive powers available to those who control the state’s machinery.

    This can only produce conflict, anger, and, ultimately, the violent and destructive world in which we now live.

    Your solution is the problem, and you know it – but must advocate for it because you feed yourself and family on it.

  20. #27 by Scott Erb on June 20, 2011 - 17:25

    If you take a given distribution of property and accept it as valid, you are accepting property that was distributed almost certainly mostly by force. In any event, ownership of factories and leaving workers with no real options, while the owners get exceedingly wealthy, is to me morally wrong. It is not to you. Therefore it becomes a political issue, and I’m fine with that.

    Your inability to accept that force and power used through wealth and control of resources can limit freedom as much (if not more than) physical violence is in denial of reality. It is untenable and silly. You certainly have no objective way to defend that argument.

    You’re also wrong about contradictions since to get them you falsely attribute views to me that I don’t hold — I’d never believe anything so simplistic as the way you word it. Again, you can only find contradictions when you create simplified linguistic constructions designed to fit your ideological bias.

    Moreover, while you decry a political solution (asserting the rather strange claim that this divides people into exclusive groups) there is no other solution. If there are differences like this — fundamental differences about the nature of the world and how it operates — either one group imposes their beliefs on others through force, or you develop political means of reaching compromise and developing solutions acceptable to most, with rule of law and democratic accountability.

    Winston Churchill said democracy is a horrible form of government, but it’s better than all the alternatives. He was right. It also is a system capable of self-correction and improvement over time. It also allows the political system to reflect the views of a particular culture. Unless everyone were to agree on a particular way to understand reality, conflict over these issues is inevitable and does not get solved naturally. If everyone agreed on these issues then it would be different.

    But the oldest and most dangerous idea in life is when people are convinced that they are right, and that everyone else should think like they do. The world doesn’t work that way, and I suspect it never will. I do think we’re on a path with democracy to move towards more freedom, less violence, less exploitation through control of wealth and resources, and more voluntary community. But the world changes slowly, and while dreaming of the end point may be fun, the real issue is the process through which we deal with the dilemmas and disagreements of today.

  21. #28 by Black Flag® on June 20, 2011 - 18:30

    Scott Erb

    If you take a given distribution of property and accept it as valid, you are accepting property that was distributed almost certainly mostly by force.

    Either method of distribution is “valid” by the fact it changes ownership

    I hold that one method is eviland the other is a Right.

    I hold that should evil dominate, society will collapse.
    I hold that should Human Rights dominate, society will increase in order and prosperity.

    In any event, ownership of factories and leaving workers with no real options, while the owners get exceedingly wealthy, is to me morally wrong.

    What is morally wrong is to to use violence against a man to give up his property to another – that is the evil.

    Theft – no matter by who or for what cause – is morally corrupt.

    If you can justify such evil to solve what merely is repugnant to you, you create a fatal premise – that by your subjective, emotional whim you justify attacking non-violent men – and, as the Golden Rule is a Natural Law, other men will justify their subjective, emotional whim to attack and kill you by claiming what you do non-violently is repugnant to them.

    The consequence of your position; justifying violence on a whim ends with the collapse of civilization into wholesale slaughter of mankind.

    Workers obviously have other choices, such as working and earning more.

    Their ability to provide more value is completely dependent on them, and no one else, and their will to do so has been the reason why “workers” are richer today then ever in history, and not by the reason you posit – that is, , theft and killing and the ability to hold hostage other people’s property.

    Your inability to accept that force and power used through wealth and control of resources can limit freedom as much (if not more than) physical violence is in denial of reality. It is untenable and silly. You certainly have no objective way to defend that argument.

    You failed to provide any circumstance of “limiting freedom” that does not use physical force – because you cannot.

    The use of physical force is the core and your irrational denial of such does not make your position tenable.

    You’re also wrong about contradictions since to get them you falsely attribute views to me that I don’t hold — I’d never believe anything so simplistic as the way you word it. Again, you can only find contradictions when you create simplified linguistic constructions designed to fit your ideological bias.

    You defined non-violent action (“choice”) is an act of violence. And, yes, you require massive complexity to hide your attempt of contradictions.

    there is no other solution.

    Of course there is!

    You are arguing that the only solution is to kill one another – that “Might is Right” doctrine – that is violent methodology to resolve conflict is the only doctrine possible!

    Fortunately, most other people have found differently and applied Rights as a methodology of non-violent resolution to solve conflict.

    If there are differences like this — fundamental differences about the nature of the world and how it operates — either one group imposes their beliefs on others through force, or you develop political means of reaching compromise and developing solutions acceptable to most, with rule of law and democratic accountability.

    You have yet to provide any means of such “accountability” that does not require a contradiction.

    Winston Churchill said democracy is a horrible form of government, but it’s better than all the alternatives. He was right.

    He was an insane, repugnant, blood-thirsty, murdering SOB who had no problems slaughtering hundreds of thousands of women and children.

    He is also a distant cousin of mine (we share the same (great-grand, in my case) grandmother)

    ..and he is wrong.

    Democracy is the worse possible form of government – for it marries diffuse responsibility (and thus, no one is responsible) with unlimited justification (we voted for it) – resulting no responsibility to any action – resulting in the greatest slaughter of humanity by his own hand.

    We witnessed this in WW2 – the greatest slaughter in all history – the result of “democracies” in action. And out of that carnage, democracies created weapons that place humanity on the brink of self-annihilation as a species.

    And this is the best you think there is???

    It also is a system capable of self-correction and improvement over time.

    It has no such ability.

    The People cannot remove themselves from abhorrent law – whether they agree or not, the law will be enforced on them.

    The People’s recourse: appeal to the government, who makes the abhorrent law, and enforces the abhorrent law.

    You demand the People appeal to the very entity that enforces on the People to enforce itself on itself on behalf of the People.

    You are demand a contradiction, and thus, create evil.

    It also allows the political system to reflect the views of a particular culture. Unless everyone were to agree on a particular way to understand reality, conflict over these issues is inevitable and does not get solved naturally.

    Of course it gets solved naturally!!

    There are two natural ways all human conflicts are solved:

    -by force, unreasoned and irrational.

    -by rights, reasoned and rational.

    You argue that because you are unable to convince others of your reasoning, you can use violence instead, and this is acceptable.

    I argue that because you are unable to convince others of your reasoning, there is something wrong with either your presentation or your argument, and you had better go back and figure which one, or both, of these aspects failed and fix that. It is unacceptable to use violence to fix your own deficiency in rhetoric or reasoning.

    But the oldest and most dangerous idea in life is when people are convinced that they are right, and that everyone else should think like they do.

    I totally agree, which is why I say your position is a contradiction.

    You demand that you are morally right to steal from non-violent men to solve your problems. You believe others should do like you but you argue they have no right to do it to you.

    That is why your position is dangerous, for your philosophy of “Freedom for me, but not for you” always leads to the collapse of civilization.

    But the world changes slowly, and while dreaming of the end point may be fun, the real issue is the process through which we deal with the dilemmas and disagreements of today.

    We do not get “better” by continuing and expanding the “worst”.

    You do not solve evil by using evil.

  22. #29 by Scott Erb on June 20, 2011 - 23:11

    Dichotomous thinking is arbitrary and simplistic. To say there is just force and trade, and then to label one evil and the other a right (whatever “a right” exactly is) is outrageously simplistic. To keep a simplistic dichotomy and avoid difficult issues you dismiss all the ways in which power relationships permeate society and can limit freedom and allow exploitation, choosing to arbitrarily focus only on physical force. In this way, you are rationalizing and apologizing for evil by calling it choice. You want a clear “objective” answer so you simplify to a very weak dichotomy.

    The claim workers can work and earn more is naive. In much of history, especially in the industrial revolution, workers worked over 70 hours a week and earned just enough to survive — and if they had children, they had to work and wouldn’t get an education. These people were the victims of structural and economic power relations that denied them quality lives in order to produce wealth for those who managed to own the factories — something you think is just dandy because you don’t worry about how they got in the position to live off the work of others. This was theft of the very lives of the workers, who were justified to rebel against it and use politics to force those who were abusing them and their children to play by different rules, pay taxes, and help create a system of equal opportunity.

    In fact even in our democracy those with economic means have the capacity to rig the game in their favor, class mobility is relatively low, even though lower and working class folk are often very hard working. The structure of society constrains and empowers far more than brute physical violence.

    And while you attack democracy — the system of government that has created more freedom, respected human rights more than any other, and which has led to prosperity — you offer no alternative. You can’t.

    The thing about democracy is that we agree on rules of taxation through laws, by which I pay taxes as do others. I’m limited by the law, as are others. The law is to apply to everyone, and the process to make laws is open to people to participate. So I’m not saying “do it to them, not to me,” I pay taxes and follow laws too. That is the point of rule of law – it applies to everyone. And while rule of law is not perfect, in most advanced industrial democracies it functions better than any other system we’ve seen — that’s impressive. To get anyone to want to throw all of this progress away would require a feasible alternative and strong evidence.

    Given the fact people have been persuaded through reason that democracy and rule of law is a good path, your claim that reason and rhetoric can convince people that ones’ view is right works against you — people have been persuaded and very few take your path. First, reason is a tool, not in and of itself capable of rendering moral judgments — you need assumptions and beliefs before you can use reason for that. Reason alone is sophistry. Reason and evidence are stronger, but that evidence has to be clear, usually the interpretation of evidence can be contested. Finally, your own approach does not use reason; you assert and label, but do not put forth a clear cogent argument showing what assumptions you’re making and why you consider them justified. Honestly, it comes off as akin to religious faith. To me it reads as if you’re making a lot of assertions, but not doing the hard work of actually trying to support them and explain why reason leads you to that conclusion. You take the easy path of labeling others and self-righteous asserting your views as right. You provide no reason for me to be persuaded; I either have to take the leap of faith and say “OK, you’re right” — which reason cannot lead me to do because the appeal you give is overtly emotional. Also:

    1. You cannot deny that your claims of contradictions rest simply on linguistic constructions rather than real world conditions. You construct these by restating my beliefs into a different form — one not actually representing my beliefs — so you can dismiss them. Vastly simplifying reality to create false dichotomies that can be dismissed by setting up contradictory statements is a language game, nothing more.

    2. You cannot deny and don’t even try to deal with the complexity of power relations and how they limit freedom. Instead you constantly reassert that only physical force is evil, that everything else is choice — even if it destroys lives and allows people to exploit others. I guarantee you that I can, using reason and rhetoric, convince people that your position is wrong — that’s why so few people hold the beliefs you do, they are unpersuasive. Democracy has proven itself in reality and in most advanced democracies about 90% consider their government legitimate. So persuasion has led people to a conclusion different than yours.

    Finally, I find it odd you blame WWII on democracy. The reality is that democratic states don’t fight each other, and in Europe democracy has led to interdependencies so that countries that once were aiming guns at each other now share a common currency and monetary policy, with little chance of war. The idea that Germany — never a stable democracy before 1949 — would again attack France and Russia is now absurd. That’s strong real world evidence that for all its faults, the system has done pretty well.

    4. You don’t give an alternative method of settling disputes of value. You say reason and persuasion, but clearly that doesn’t lead to people all settling their differences. I suppose like a religious icon you can sit back and condemn all this “evil,” but there is no reason to believe you — unless you move towards making an overtly spiritual argument.

    Now, if you make a spiritual argument, you can defend your view more easily, though it requires people to adopt a spiritual world view that rests on emotional appeal rather than reason alone.

  23. #30 by Black Flag® on June 21, 2011 - 03:39

    Scott

    Dichotomous thinking is arbitrary and simplistic. To say there is just force and trade, and then to label one evil and the other a right (whatever “a right” exactly is) is outrageously simplistic.

    To you, anything you disagree with is either “simplistic” or “too complex” — but either opinion you hold is IRRELEVANT.

    Evil = violence on the non-violent.
    If evil cannot be defined as this, then the word has no meaning.

    There is reason OR violence – unless you have something else which you can enlighten your readership with.

    To keep a simplistic dichotomy and avoid difficult issues you dismiss all the ways in which power relationships permeate society and can limit freedom and allow exploitation, choosing to arbitrarily focus only on physical force.

    I do not “arbitrarily” focus on physical violence.

    I have found it fundamental in its ability to create evil, indeed, it is required for evil to exist.

    You, however, believe that men in voluntary choice somehow force other people to act in evil – an argument you have yet to offer any substance whatsoever.

    In this way, you are rationalizing and apologizing for evil by calling it choice.

    My definition of evil is clear and precise, whereas yours is arbitrary and subjective depending on the hour.

    You want a clear “objective” answer so you simplify to a very weak dichotomy.

    It is simple – which does not make wrong nor incorrect nor fallacious.

    You cannot argue against it, so your retort is to define simple as “weak” is your only – but fallacious – response in hopes others fall into agreement with you.

    The claim workers can work and earn more is naive.

    It is a fact of action, and in fact the fundamental reason “workers” have an increasing prosperity by improving their skills, quality and production they increase the value they provide and thus, increase their wealth (solve human problems better).

    In much of history, especially in the industrial revolution, workers worked over 70 hours a week and earned just enough to survive

    SO?

    You work less than 40, and in 25 years your children will wonder why you worked “slave hours” to earn your living… and 25 years beyond them, their children will wonder why their parents worked “slave hours” to earn their living… and so on.

    The division of labor increases the returns of effort for the individual – which allows that person a tradeoff – work the same hours and earn more wealth or reduce their hours, but maintain the same standard of living.

    You do not understand this fundamental aspect of economic prosperity, therefore posit evil as a solution to a problem that does not exist.

    — and if they had children, they had to work and wouldn’t get an education. These people were the victims of structural and economic power relations that denied them quality lives in order to produce wealth for those who managed to own the factories — something you think is just dandy because you don’t worry about how they got in the position to live off the work of others.

    Again, you fail to provide any example of “denial” that does not include physical force.

    The only examples you do provide that does not include physical force is an example of free men making trade offs to their own benefit and never an example of violence.

    But you are merely disappointed in the choices of some free men and in your conceit, believe you know better than they and are willing to advocate for violence on all men to “make them choose better – that is agree with you

    This was theft of the very lives of the workers, who were justified to rebel against it

    Bull crap.

    Again, you are claiming that a man saying “no” is stealing from others.

    There was no theft – you cannot demonstrate any such thing, therefore you redefine the word to suit your nefarious argument

    In fact even in our democracy those with economic means have the capacity to rig the game in their favor

    You complain that men of means can buy the levers of violence.

    Therefore you complain about their wealth, and remain ignorant of the levers of violence – indeed, you advocate for the expansion of such violence.

    The REAL answer: end the levers of violence.

    But that would mean YOU would not be able to get the means to your own living.

    Thus, you will not advocate for the cause of the distortion, but by deflection to an axillary situation, actually advocate more of the very thing you argue against.

    This is why I declare you wrong.

    You live in a contradiction – you support what you argue against.

    And while you attack democracy — the system of government that has created more freedom, respected human rights more than any other, and which has led to prosperity — you offer no alternative. You can’t.

    Yes I can. It’s called “anarchy” — no right to rule other men

    The thing about democracy is that we agree on rules of taxation through laws

    There is no agreement – since those that disagree are forced by violence to subject themselves to the whims of a “majority” — which is actually NEVER a majority, but an active minority that seeks evil power over other men.

    I’m limited by the law, as are others.

    But you are also limited by the laws that you do not agree to — hence the tyranny.

    The law is to apply to everyone

    …including those that do not agree to such law.

    and the process to make laws is open to people to participate.

    So what?

    I do not include myself in your game, nor agree with your outcome – but you will violently force yourself upon me regardless.

    You advocate for evil because you love it.

    So I’m not saying “do it to them, not to me,” I pay taxes and follow laws too.

    You are deceitful in your analysis.

    I like the color black and detest white.

    You agree that if I make a law that prohibits white and forces black that such a circumstance is Rightful because I am subject to my own “law”.

    But you are naive or ignorant because a man has no complaint about a law that favors himself no matter if it destroys the freedom of his neighbors who disagree with his subjective whims.

    That is the point of rule of law – it applies to everyone.

    Evil men enact laws that they agree with and use violence to impose such law upon those that disagree with such subjective law

    You must hold that all men agree to the same law! But they do not agree on such subjective muck!

    I hate white – thus the law that prohibits white is no imposition upon me!

    And thus, justifying such evil because that law happens to favorably apply to me is utterly irrational.

    And while rule of law is not perfect, in most advanced industrial democracies it functions better than any other system we’ve seen — that’s impressive.

    Evil impresses you!

    Perfection is no goal.

    Suffering will always exist as part of the human existence.

    But what man can do is end human caused suffering – and advocating for more evil is no solution.

    To get anyone to want to throw all of this progress away would require a feasible alternative and strong evidence.

    300 million dead is strong evidence – for the first time in human history, man’s slaughter of man exceed nature’s #1 method of killing humans – death by water.

    Given the fact people have been persuaded through reason that democracy and rule of law is a good path

    It is what “law” that matters!

    If the “rule of law” enforces evil and perverted versions of Law, then it is NOT GOOD AT ALL – and indeed, violently far worse than any other system.

    “Rule of Law” is meant to mean “Rule by Reason”.

    But you are married to the idea that “Law by any definition and means” carries the same legitimacy as law by reason.

    Thus, you argue for and support massive tyranny by law.

    , your claim that reason and rhetoric can convince people that ones’ view is right works against you — people have been persuaded and very few take your path.

    I cannot disagree with you here.

    The profit of theft is very high.

    It is so high that People will gamble with their freedom for a chance at obtaining a part of the proceeds of organized theft – a chance of a huge gain with little effort, merely the effort of agreement to theft.

    Many people are short-term, high time preferenced people – they will pervert their principles for “pragmatism” – short term gain, hoping they die before the negative consequences of their actions comes to fruition.

    And these people are very eager to seize your arguments that theft and violence upon non-violent people is justified.

    But no matter how many hands wave in the air in favor of evil does not make evil a good.

    Reason alone is sophistry.

    So holds the barbarian who is immune from reason.

    1. You cannot deny that your claims of contradictions rest simply on linguistic constructions rather than real world conditions.

    You are the one constructing the contradictions.

    You hold non-violent choice to be violence. It is you who is in contradiction, not I, sir.

    2. You cannot deny and don’t even try to deal with the complexity of power relations and how they limit freedom.

    I do deny your complaint as you are unable to demonstrate anything contrary.

    You hold that mere wealth limits freedom.

    You cannot provide a single circumstance – not one – without demonstrating violence.

    even if it destroys lives

    And here you continue to spew irrational statements.

    You argue that a man who has done nothing acts to destroy lives! Such irrational mush you offer!

    As I already posted, you have not changed at all by my denial of your irrational demand.

    You started with “A” and with my “no, thank you” you still have “A”.

    But because I said “No”, you claim I destroyed you!!

    But the measure: If I did not exist, you would still have “A” before and after – therefore, whether I exist or not changes nothing for you! Thus, by my “no”, it is the same; nothing changed for you

    So your argument would equally have to hold that my non-existence is the reason you suffer – that is, those that do not exist are to blame for your suffering.

    But that is insane!
    But that is your argument!

    Finally, I find it odd you blame WWII on democracy. The reality is that democratic states don’t fight each other

    You are historically ignorant.

    Hitler was elected to power.
    He was voted the “Enabling Act”.
    He renewed that act, like clockwork, every 4 years by vote.

    The idea that Germany — never a stable democracy before 1949 — would again attack France and Russia is now absurd.

    2.5 million dead in WW1 and 8.5 million dead in WW2 has a way of convincing a people that war is not a good thing.

    It has nothing to do with “politics”.

    4. You don’t give an alternative method of settling disputes of value.

    Duh!?

    The Free Market – one of voluntary choice and decision works the best!

    It is the very reason -even as you advocate for evil- that you are more wealthy than King Henry VII

  24. #31 by Scott Erb on June 21, 2011 - 18:59

    Black Flag, you are not clear and precise, you are arbitrary and providing only subjective assertions which I have no reason to accept.

    You also can’t deal with context. Theft means something different in a real sense if the context is different — theft of food from a Nazi to save a Jew left to starve is a fundamentally different act than theft of a car. That is why your approach fails. You take an abstract concept and act as if it has the same meaning across contexts, and try to build a philosophy out of it. That is impossible, your concepts shift their meaning as context changes. It’s an illusion to think you have a clear, precise approach.

    You complain about violence but remain ignorant about other power relations that entail the create the capacity to exploit and even use violence. Violence is secondary to those other power relations, violence is a result of economic and structural power, it is not a main cause. By looking at the result you falsely mistake that as being the one bad thing, not recognizing that its meaning (like anything) depends on context. Again, your linguistic constructions give you an illusion of clear and precise thinking, but it falls apart completely.

    Hitler was never elected in a democratic election. The enabling act was passed by threat of force. The free market is no alternative — it can’t settle disputes of value, especially when others believe the free market without regulation can cause injustice. The fact you’d ignore the evil done by the industrial revolution because it is inconvenient for your subjective and arbitrary view of reality shows that you simply have a faith, and for me the interesting question is not what you believe, but how you can hold on to such a belief when it’s clear that evidence is against it and there is no logic to it. You make all sorts of assertions that you’ve denied something, but its only after you make a linguistic construction that restates the case into something you can handle. That’s not even worth responding to, you’re just engaged language games, not real thinking.

    I recommend “The Myth of the Free Market” by Mark Martinez. He demonstrates conclusively how the market needs the state and regulation; without it, markets break down and cease to exist. Your “solution” will never exist for modern industrial polities because it can’t work. You believe in a myth.

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