Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Socratic Method

This is a discussion I had with someone on stumbleupon. I forgot to copy and paste the first few messages we traded before they cycled through, so I will have to fill in with gists. I also wanted to write this blog post to more thoroughly address the arguments. Parts that were not in our original discussion, for the sake of fairness, will be in italics.

Me:

Did you know that Vonnegut and Orwell were both socialists, and that their books often reflected this? For example in 1984 when Orwell writes "hope lies with the proles" he was certainly advocating socialism. Do you find it disconcerting? How you respond is dependent on how vigorous your research is.

Pin:

not really. I can like a book yet disagree with it's message. But seriously, wasn't Animal Farm a work dedicated to showing that socialism cannot work? And I am well aware of Vonnegut's love for Eugene Debbs, his socialist idol. But his books are still entertaining to read, and he doesn't advocate socialism in them.

Also, in 1984, there is really big, rights-devouring government, which is a dominant feature of socialistic and communistic governments. And as I see it, this "big brother" could not exist in a country that is not socialistic. I believe this because the state has no incentive to spy on the people if there is no state to take down. The only reason the state would have to spy on the people is to force people to follow stupid rules or prevent people from plotting to overthrow the state. If the state has no power, then it has no power to lose. If it has no power to lose, it has no incentive to spy on the people.

And how does the state get power? It begins providing services for the people, then taxing the people for the money to provide these services. When the government provides services, that is socialism. The only way the state gets power is by taxing, the only way the state gets to tax is by providing services. Therefore, the state only has something to gain by spying on the people if it is a socialist government.

With that in mind, how is 1984 a pro-socialist work?

*
Me:

"How you respond is dependent on how vigorous your research is."

Not very, apparently. :-)

"But seriously, wasn't Animal Farm a work dedicated to showing that socialism cannot work?"

No, actually. Orwell was writing an account of the history of these events, and what went wrong. He was not out to disprove or discredit socialism.

"and he [Vonnegut] doesn't advocate socialism in them."

Are you sure? Socialism meant a lot to him, and the kinds of stories he wrote were most definitely about social commentary, an excellent place to advocate socialism.

"When the government provides services, that is socialism."


The main problem here, of course, is that you are using a definition of socialism that Orwell and Vonnegut do not use. That's right, what the word means to you is very different than what the word means to Orwell, Vonnegut and myself. Once we work out a definition, you'll begin to see how Orwell is consistent and how Vonnegut's books contain ideas reminiscent of socialism.

Pin:

Wow, you are kind of an intellectual snob. You didn't address any of my points, you just implied that I had clearly not done enough research because I disagree with you. Well, friend, that isn't how debates are won.

I mean, it seems like you are asking me to drop some knowledge on you. How can you be an anarcho-socialist? Socialism depends on the coercive taxation of the worker, and taxation is immoral, not to mention impossible in anarchy, unless the anarchist wants to employ violence to carry out this taxation.

Granted, you could be a voluntary socialist, but any commune you lived in would be destined to poverty, as you could not acquire the funds to purchase medicine or much of the things that make life easy.

Seriously, anarchy cannot work without capitalism. Without capitalism, everyone would have to revert to the life of the farmer, or command economies would come up and force some people to farm and others to do other jobs. Either way, violence is initiated to achieve the goal, and that is immoral.

Hey, maybe you should do some more research, or at least some rigorous research.

and what's more, your quote "For example in 1984 when Orwell writes "hope lies with the proles" he was certainly advocating socialism." doesn't make sense. If anything, that quote implies that the proles would have to overthrow the government, not that they would have to overthrow the government and implement another socialistic government.

I mean, seriously Commerican, in 1984, the food was rationed out by the state, and the state was portrayed as horribly evil. How do you get the impression that Orwell thought socialism was a good thing at all? He crushes socialism in 2 novels. He uses the terminology of Marx to present the ideal circumstances for Marxism (Marx called himself a socialist) and then he goes on to say that the proletariat class would never band together or overthrow the government. He was saying Marxism would never come around because the working classes were too stupid to understand what was going on.

not a major point, I was just saying that your analysis made no sense, and logic should have been used to analyze the quote.

**

Me:

"You didn't address any of my points, you just implied that I had clearly not done enough research because I disagree with you."

I didn't address your points because you posited them incorrectly. I did not imply, I outright accused you of not doing enough research, and not because you disagree with me. I would argue that you don't know what my position is, and that you cannot disagree with me until you are actually aware of it and can recite it back to me.

"How can you be an anarcho-socialist?"

Fairly easily. I recognize that:

1) Power structures use their power to maintain and grab more power. This goes for governments as well as economic institutions. It is foolish and a bit naive to believe that the government and the economy are two separate and opposing entities. Big government is a result of big business, and vice versa. One cannot exist without the other.

2) The only way to limit power is to have everyone as equal as possible. Power comes from making decisions, so having people involved in making decisions, to the extent that these decisions affect them, is the way to go.

3) The interests of the individual are best realised when people are working together. A single person cannot build roads or airports or hospitals. I read an article recently about traffic patterns that is somewhat analogous to and debunks this idea that everyone climbing over each other actually makes it better for all. Drivers seeking to get ahead by constantly changing lanes were contributing to traffic jams, because drivers behind them would have to brake and adjust, and so it went all down the line.

4) The sum total of human endeavour ultimately goes to making rich people richer, not to the betterment of society as a whole.

So, when I say I am a libertarian (another word for anarchist), I mean that I understand that power is used to maintain and seek more power, and so therefore must be limited. When I say I am socialist, I mean that if we are to do things, we should do them together, cooperatively, for the betterment of society, not just for a small segment of it, with specific goals and restrictions in mind, which ultimately betters the life of each individual.

"Socialism depends on the coercive taxation of the worker"

You sure?

"Seriously, anarchy cannot work without capitalism."

This is entirely incorrect. The problem arises, again, because we are using different definitions of capitalism. Anarchy was a response to capitalism, it was a response to the loss of decision-making power workers felt as their world was turned upside down. Anarchy is diametrically opposed to capitalism. There is a buzz term going around now, "anarcho-capitalism", that is oxymoronical and may be what you are thinking (see the post below).

"How do you get the impression that Orwell thought socialism was a good thing at all? He crushes socialism in 2 novels."


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Orwell#Political_views

:-)

"He uses the terminology of Marx to present the ideal circumstances for Marxism (Marx called himself a socialist)..."

Marx did more than call himself a socialist, he described what socialism meant, at least the definition I'm using. He also came up with the definition of capitalism. He wrote a book about it called Das Kapital. I would like to point out here, once again, that the definitions you are taught in American public schools are not the proper definitions. (More on this later.) You'll have to read some of the appropriate literature to find out what these terms mean (that's what I mean by 'research'). Honestly, did you think that US schools would tell you the real definitions and help you understand them?

"...and then he goes on to say that the proletariat class would never band together or overthrow the government. He was saying Marxism would never come around because the working classes were too stupid to understand what was going on."


If the working classes are too stupid to understand what's going on, who is making the decisions? Is this decision-making class making the best decisions for the working class, or for themselves? Could they abuse their power? Would they? Sounds to me like you are making a really good argument for the state - centralized decision-maker that gathers all the people that 'understand what is going' together in a well-meaning governing body. Be careful what you say, "libertarian".

"and logic should have been used to analyze the quote."


Truly.

Pin:

wow, it's odd how he presents socialism as totally evil in both 1984 and Animal Farm.

But anyway, democracy is still evil. If people vote to ban gay marriage, does that make it right to ban gay marriage, or is marriage just part of the human right to make consensual agreements (assuming these agreements don't violate anyones property)? It has been said that "Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting over what to have for lunch", and I don't think that that is far off. The government accumulates all of our money through violent coercion, the act of robbery/taxation. That is absolutely immoral.

Oh, and before you start spouting off your anti-capitalist rhetoric, capitalism occurs only when both parties benefit. In the example of work, the employer values my labor more than the money he pays me, and I value the money more than the time I spend working. Both parties benefit from this transaction, and no violence is needed.

Me:
"
is marriage just part of the human right to make consensual agreements (assuming these agreements don't violate anyones property)?" Marriage is a social construct to determine property rights. The reason why gay marriage is not allowed is because in the 4th century the church would inherit the land and property of a widow, because, you know, women can't own property. A male widow (midow?) would get to keep the land, which the church didn't like. Funny how our culture has these silly rules in regards to property. Notice also that property relations need not be just, fair, or even make sense - they just need to facilitate consolidation of wealth and power.

"But anyway, democracy is still evil."

So what other way should we arrive at the choices we make as a group? If democracy is one side of the spectrum, and monarchy (mono-archon) the other, where does the ideal lie? Since the great days of feudalism, there has been a general trend towards more and more citizen participation and, not surprisingly, personal freedom, which is really, really awesome. Mainly because it's not feudalism. Be careful what you say, "libertarian".

"...capitalism occurs only when both parties benefit"

You sure? Marx had a different perspective:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalism#Marxian_political_economy

"Both parties benefit from this transaction, and no violence is needed."

Well, how much time must pass before wealth acquired through coercion becomes legitimate?

Pin:

it never becomes legitimate. it is always stolen money, taken without consent from the people. It never, ever becomes the legitimate property of the thief. what kind of silly question is that?

Me:

Give it back to the native americans. Give it back to the slaves.

But we can't, because we pretend that the violence and coercion of the past has no bearing on current conditions. Descendants of rich old white men that bought slaves and extorted them are often still receiving the benefits of this slave labour. My ancestors owned slaves, and I'm sure my middle-class status has something to do with that.

Capitalism continues on as if theft is legitimate.

Is a recipient of government money that was collected through taxes a moocher? Is the wealth they create legitimate?

Pin:

by the homesteading theory, property is unowned until a human infuses it with his labor. If land is undeveloped, and no one has developed the land around it, then it is free for development. The native americans did not develop all of america, and for the parts that they did develop, the colonists had no right to take that land.

Regarding slaves, I have never owned slaves, my ancestors have never owned slaves, and slavery was uneconomical. Granted, it is completely immoral, but the descendants of slaves have every right to sue the families of their ancestors masters for back wages, but that is just because slavery is a violation of rights. Slavery is an anti capitalistic action to begin with, as it claims that some people don't own their body, and capitalism is founded on the belief that one owns their body and their labor.

And current industry benefited in no way from slavery.

but hey, I'll humor you, in the event that I might learn something. What theft does capitalism benefit from, and how does it benefit?

and yeah, the recipient of "government" money is a thief. If I steal $1000 from your wallet and invest it in stocks, and those stocks go up, does that mean I have the right to the profits? Fuck no! I used your resources without permission, therefore I was a thief and have no claim to any benefit from the money. And if the stocks went down, I would still owe you $1000 + interest.

**
Me:

"by the homesteading theory, property is unowned until a human infuses it with his labor... ...The native americans did not develop all of america"

This is the classic tale of two groups of humans with two different methods of acquiring food coming into contact. From your perspective, what you say is true because our culture is agricultural. It makes sense to base property rights on these concepts. To the Native Americans, fencing off land that the herds roam is a silly way to do things. Their concept of property was therefore different. The resolution was violence. Be careful what you say, "libertarian".

"...the colonists had no right to take that land."


We still benefit from this past theft, and your 'homesteading' theory does not absolve the crime. It does not legitimize the wealth accumulated since. Be careful what you say, "libertarian".

"Regarding slaves, I have never owned slaves, my ancestors have never owned slaves, and slavery was uneconomical."

Your ancestors owned slaves, or, if they did not, they were slave guards, or, if they were not, they benefited from slavery. America as a nation benefited from slavery. It is still benefiting from it. This does not excuse or legitimize it. And I hope by "uneconomical" you mean "cannot last more than 300 years".

"And current industry benefited in no way from slavery."


There is a long chain of effects and causes that goes back to the days of slavery. If you were to follow them from now until then, you would see that current industry must, by the very linear nature of time in connecting these events, benefit from past slavery. In regards to current slavery, look up the prison-industrial complex. You'll notice a fine mixture of capitalism and slavery. Be careful what you say, "libertarian".


"capitalism is founded on the belief that one owns their body and their labor."

Remember that in 1984, language itself became a propaganda tool. The state would change the meanings of words to limit understanding, to change the past and make the proles stupid, disorganized and confused. Capitalism, as you are using the word, is a new definition, and was never that which was used in critiques of it. Also, this new definition is very new, and the old definition was around for at least a hundred years. Would it make sense for the USA, a capitalist country, to redefine the word "capitalism" so as to make it easier for adherents to accept and defend, and harder for opponents to disagree? Is this kind of vocabulary-editing reminiscent of Newspeak? Be careful what you say, "libertarian".

The military-industrial complex (MIC) consumes about half of all taxes. This is not just the departmental stuff, but the companies that design, build, and test weapons. They receive money that comes from taxpayers to make weapons for the government.

A law was passed recently that allowed greater consolidation of "defense" companies, because the US gummint wanted to deal with fewer entities:

http://www.brookings.edu/press/review/summer96/korb.htm

"How Did It Happen?

In July 1993, John M. Deutch, then the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, responded to pressure on his boss, William Perry, from the chief executive officers of Martin Marietta, Lockheed, Loral, and Hughes by deciding to allow defense companies to bill the Pentagon for the costs of mergers and acquisitions."

Is their wealth legitimate?

If you had a screen on your wall that depicted people who commanded you to perform certain actions, yelled at you to do things, compelled you with fear and emotional manipulation, all while disturbingly aware of what you were doing, is this coercion? More specifically, of the type present in telescreens in 1984?

Pin:

what is your point? All of these companies are benefiting from the socialistic policies of the US of A. I mean, war is not a capitalistic action, there is no money to be made by killing and destroying things. Only in a socialism does war become profitable, and even then, it's only profitable to the state and defense contractors, suckling on state largess.

In a capitalist society, the capitalist tries to maximize profit by providing the consumer with something they want. the free market discourages all of the manipulations you state, as people are much less productive when they feel manipulated. And what's more, if someone feels manipulated, they can quit and work at a competing firm, or they can start their own business, or they can talk to the person manipulating them.

In a socialism, I cannot talk to the people that manipulate me. I can't talk to the IRS and get them to stop manipulating me. I can't talk to the president and get him to stop trampling my rights. I can't get the government to stop taxing oil, or providing free roads. I can't get the government to stop indoctrinating people with public schooling that leaves people half retarded. In socialism, I have no recourse, as these decisions are forced upon me, backed by the might of a body that claims the right to initiate violence against those that disagree.

Me:

"what is your point? All of these companies are benefiting from the socialistic policies of the US of A"

Yeah, because the USA is a real socialist country. It is a tendency of capital to accumulate in the hands of fewer and fewer people. Those who wield this power do not confine it to the economic sphere. Top government officials can be very cozy with business interests, often to the detriment of citizens and consumers alike.

"I mean, war is not a capitalistic action, there is no money to be made by killing and destroying things."


Tell that to Dick Cheney. He'll give you a dollar he made by killing and destroying things.
But I doubt he even bothers with such small denominations.

"In a capitalist society, the capitalist tries to maximize profit by providing the consumer with something they want."

Pollution prevention measures (like smoke stack scrubbers, water treating and cooling, etc) reduce profits. Do consumers want to suffer the ill effects of industrial pollution? Do both parties benefit? Does the prison-industrial complex profit from obscene federal drug laws? Do all the products listed in ads really reflect the desires of consumers, or are they cleverly designed to make us think we want them? Was there a strong outcry for New Coke? For clear Pepsi? For Jimmy Dean's pancake-wrapped sausage? Are you sure you are not being manipulated to desire these things?

"...the free market discourages all of the manipulations you state, as people are much less productive when they feel manipulated."

You're absolutely right, people are less productive when they feel manipulated. Eric Fromm's idea of 'anonymous' authority comes into play now. Watch a car commercial (on your telescreen - oops! I mean 'television') and listen to what the announcer says: "Get a blah blah... Come on down and buy a blah blah... Drive home with a blah blah..." Did you notice the strong use of the imperative? Rather pompous of him, isn't it? Do you know how much brain power goes to figuring out how to get people to buy things? I mean, real, genuine, this-is-the-way-it-is-because-you-are-a-primate kind of way. You don't stand a chance! I hope I don't need to point out the merging of corporate advertising and government-sponsored propaganda. The point is, what seems like overt and obvious control as depicted in 1984 is actually much more subtle. The idea is to make you think you are in control of your actions and decisions, when really many of your choices are based on previous and continuing conditioning.

"And what's more, if someone feels manipulated, they can quit and work at a competing firm"

That's right, so if someone at Wal-Mart wants to quit and work at _______ (insert one of the many business still in the area after price gouging), they certainly can. The free market does not guarantee there is always another job. Do you not find it ironic that Wal-Mart, a wonderful example of capitalist success, employs the labour of people who do not have the opportunity to seek employment at another firm? Be careful what you say, "libertarian".

"or they can start their own business"


The point you are trying to make is that a state-run command economy would not permit someone to start their own business. You would be correct, but that is not socialism. To address this suggestion in real terms, can someone start a business that is profitable? Is the market always amenable to new, profitable businesses? Is everyone capable of managing a business? Be careful how you use these ideals.

"or they can talk to the person manipulating them."


Can Chinese labourers complain to the managers of state-run factories? Does Wal-Mart employ their labour? Is the wealth acquired through coercion legitimate?

Another question:

Isn't it a fair trade to give up self-autonomy for material gain? If some commanding entity, like the state, were to offer you some benefit, whether it be in rank, status, and/or wealth, wouldn't it make sense to surrender your decision-making power to receive it?

***

This is the end of the discussion; I have not heard back from the guy, but do hope he responds.

The discussion was not about arguing for socialism (since the term wasn't clearly defined), but about sticking to dogma and propaganda without critical examination. The paradoxical-seeming support of Orwell and Vonnegut for socialism ought to be a strong indication that the term as they use it is different from the term as we are taught it in public schools. There are misconceptions like this all the time, from people of all political persuasions (and yes, even those who call themselves socialists!), such that an entire discussion can take place in which both parties do nothing but talk past one another, with no true understanding or agreement occurring. It is also disheartening to be subjected to certain "feel good" terms that obfuscate and distort a healthy and useful appraisal of the situation. If we are to concern ourselves with material conditions, we must make observations of material forces, not ideals.

13 Comments:

Anonymous beaulingpin said...

First off, I read Das Kapital and the Communist Manifesto. Marx may have given his definition of both socialism and capitalism, but his definition for capitalism is wrong.
Capitalism isn't the extraction of value from the working class by underpaying them; that wouldn't make sense. Capitalism in the free market is a system by which people are free to invest their legitimately owned money or labour as they choose, without coercion from a central planner.

Second:
"Big government is a result of big business, and vice versa. One cannot exist without the other."

that is absolutely untrue. How do you explain the black or gray markets? It involves no government enforcement of contracts, it only involves private contracts and reputations. If you have a reputation for being a cheat, people don't deal with you. If you have a reputation for honoring your promises, people continue dealing with you, or even deal with you more. No government needed.

Hell, the burden of proof doesn't even lie on me here, it lies with you. You made the claim that government and big business need each other. I mean, yeah, it is true in the socialist sense that government hands out a monopoly to one company and uses force and violence to prevent others from entering the market (like in energy production, road making, and most other industries), but that is anti capitalistic. If the free market were allowed to work, there would be no monopolies.

Think about it. If one company started making, for instance, computer operating systems, and decided to charge far more than market value for this software, well other companies will see that there is huge profits to be made in the computer OS business and will reinvest their money in the computer OS business, thus driving price down and offering more choice. Competition prevents monopolies from existing. When government prohibits competition (socialism), then one company will get a blank check to stop improving and start overcharging, as consumers can't pick any other option.

So what other way should we arrive at the choices we make as a group? "If democracy is one side of the spectrum, and monarchy (mono-archon) the other, where does the ideal lie?"

well, that is a false spectrum. Democracy still uses the collective opinion to take rights away from the individual. I mean, if 51% of the population votes that the government should have the right to tax the people, is it legitimate that the government then claims the right to tax 100% of the population, even the people that voted against the taxation?

If X say "hey, don't rape me", then a bunch of people vote whether they have the right to rape X, isn't that completely illegitimate as no one has the right to violate anyone else's person or property without the owner's consent? Well, that's what taxation is. You don't have the right to rob me, even if you all agree you have the right to rob me.

i'll respond to the rest, but I'm going to go eat

16 July, 2007 18:08  
Blogger Mookie said...

"First off, I read Das Kapital and the Communist Manifesto."

Good, that means I can use his terms and you'll know exactly what is meant by them.

"Capitalism isn't the extraction of value from the working class by underpaying them; that wouldn't make sense."

How did the lords of feudal society maintain their financial edge on the peasants? How did the slave-owners of pre-capitalist America become enormously wealthy without doing the back-breaking labour that intensive crops demand?

"without coercion from a central planner"

Where does Marx refer to a central planner, especially in Das Kapital? How and why did Marx come to such a conclusion? (He didn't.) Must planning be centralized, more specifically by an over-arching state entity?

(You'll find here the reason for the "anarcho" in anarcho-socialism, which to me is a bit redundant.)

As far as central planning in capitalism, what is the Federal Reserve and how does it work? Why did bankers and industrialists create a centralized system of control? What does this mean for the free market and how it operates? Also, how decisions are made in an economy and by whom is not actually explained by invoking the free market (see below). This is important to understanding political economy. Did you miss that part in Das Kapital?

"Hell, the burden of proof doesn't even lie on me here, it lies with you."

Halliburton

"If the free market were allowed to work, there would be no monopolies."

Maybe the free market is more an ideal than reality, and as an abstraction has very little predictive power because it does not consider material conditions. Note that this does not mean I advocate what you call socialism, just that your use of the term "free market" does not invalidate what I mean when I use the term socialism. (The free market and my definition of socialism are not incompatible, and I even believe that the relevant, meaningful aspects of the concept of the free market could ONLY come about through the definition of socialism I am using.)

"yeah, it is true in the socialist sense that government hands out a monopoly to one company and uses force and violence to prevent others from entering the market"

And certainly, it's the great mass of socialists that is preventing the "free" market from working, certainly not the great power and wealth concentrated in the hands of a few politicians and business leaders. They wouldn't stand to gain by forming cartels and monopolies to drive out potential competitors so they can secure enormous profits.

"...computer operating systems, and decided to charge far more than market value for this software, well other companies will see that there is huge profits to be made in the computer OS business and will reinvest their money in the computer OS business, thus driving price down and offering more choice"

And then linux and free software came along and proved that competition can be vastly inferior to cooperation.

"Competition prevents monopolies from existing"

Monopolies prevent competition from existing. Just ask Bill Gates and Sam Walton.

"When government prohibits competition (socialism), then one company will get a blank check to stop improving and start overcharging, as consumers can't pick any other option."

Right, so when American pharmaceutical companies had the gummint ban cheap Canadian medication for "security" reasons, they were being socialists. When Cheney met with certain energy firms to discuss energy policy behind closed doors, he was being a socialist. When the responsibility of the reconstruction of Iraq was determined with no-bid contracts, it was the work of socialists and not the people that run their respective construction companies and benefit from such deals.

"well, that is a false spectrum"

I don't think you understood the nature of my question. Think about it a bit more and give me something other than the "tyranny of the majority". Here's a hypothetical that should help you out:

You and I are locked in a room with a radio that we cannot shut off. The radio has two stations. You like one, I like the other. We each dislike the other station. Since my choice affects you, and yours me, we have to decide what station we listen to, for how long, etc, so we'll have to develop some method of determining stations. The two sides of the spectrum are: democracy and mono-archy. In a democracy, you and I hammer out the radio schedule. In a mono-archy, one of us lords it over other and they have no choice but to take it. Which method is preferable to both of us? Which one gets the job done quickly, irrespective of the concern of the other? (Note that if you suggest some other option, like flipping a coin, we would still need to come together and AGREE that this was to decide the schedule.)

This question is at the heart of socialism as I have defined it. The authority you disdain in the state has a lovely analogue in the economy. I hope that my previous examples have illustrated how economic authority can and often does spill over into the political sphere. If you had read Das Kapital, you would have noticed this.

Please recognize that telling me what I mean by the words I use does not make your points valid, nor does it invalidate mine. We can change the meanings of the words we use to reflect this difference of definitions, but you would still have to address the words as what they mean (the definition), not by what they are (the particular spelling).

17 July, 2007 14:17  
Anonymous beaulingpin said...

"How did the lords of feudal society maintain their financial edge on the peasants? How did the slave-owners of pre-capitalist America become enormously wealthy without doing the back-breaking labour that intensive crops demand?"

in these pre-capitalistic situations, people made wealth by robbing, coercing, and using general socialism against the worker.

"(You'll find here the reason for the "anarcho" in anarcho-socialism, which to me is a bit redundant.)"

Umm, how so? Socialism tends to be involuntary. If you made it voluntary, no one with wealth would participate in it, as socialism is just a method for the unproductive to steal from the productive.
In an anarchy, people will still try to make the best life possible, so they have two options. Produce things people are willing to buy voluntarily (capitalism) or put a gun to the head of people that produce things and tell them to "subsidize" your living expenses (socialism).

One of these is ethical. The other is socialism.

""Hell, the burden of proof doesn't even lie on me here, it lies with you."

Halliburton"

Yeah, that supports my point. The American Socialism of government control of production results in corporations getting contracts even though the public does not want what they are selling.



Hey, I think we might have a fundamental disconnect that can be solved in a simple question:

Does your ideal situation involve taxation or violent coercion in any way, or do you advocate voluntary socialism, where people aren't forced to be socialists?

If your system involves taxation or coercion, then it is immoral and cannot be described as anarchic at all.

If your system is voluntary, then great. I can ignore it as I want nothing to do with your evil socialism (redundant, I know), and no one will put a gun to my head if I don't support your socialism.

this is the only important question. If you are pro violent coercion, then your system is totally unacceptable, and if your system is voluntary, then it is completely ethical and I don't have to worry about socialists stopping the progress that capitalism has shown to cause.

18 July, 2007 02:07  
Anonymous beaulingpin said...

oh, and yeah, I had noticed that in Das Kapital, but I have read things that use logic to destroy the arguments of Marx in Das Kapital, and I'm able to also do this.

I know you just assume that everything Karl Marx writes is gospel, but no, this is not the case. He is wrong about nearly everything. His historical dialectic is the only thing that has any logical value, and it had already been articulated by Hegel. Marx was a fucking waste and a fucking hypocrite.

While he was fucking his maid, he wrote that evil capitalists use the workers as sex objects, and this is another form of the exploitation.

I mean, back then, a maid couldn't get work if they didn't have good recommendations, since back then, maids lived in the homes they cleaned, typically for several years. If a maid was looking for work and didn't have a good recommendation for their most recent job, people assumed that the maid had stolen shit or been terrible at their job.

So Marx was exploiting the shit out of his maid at the same time he was saying capitalists are evil because they all sexually exploit the worker.

Also, socialism/marxism, when mixed with violent force, killed more than 100 million people. Hardly the wave of the future.

18 July, 2007 02:16  
Anonymous beaulingpin said...

and seriously

"I don't think you understood the nature of my question. Think about it a bit more and give me something other than the "tyranny of the majority". Here's a hypothetical that should help you out:

You and I are locked in a room with a radio that we cannot shut off. The radio has two stations. You like one, I like the other. We each dislike the other station. Since my choice affects you, and yours me, we have to decide what station we listen to, for how long, etc, so we'll have to develop some method of determining stations. The two sides of the spectrum are: democracy and mono-archy. In a democracy, you and I hammer out the radio schedule. In a mono-archy, one of us lords it over other and they have no choice but to take it. Which method is preferable to both of us? Which one gets the job done quickly, irrespective of the concern of the other? (Note that if you suggest some other option, like flipping a coin, we would still need to come together and AGREE that this was to decide the schedule.)"

in the situation of democracy, both people still lose 50% of the time. There are better situations. I don't think you understand this.

look at this situation. When you go shopping for yourself, do you pick only things you like, or do you pick 50% of the things you wanted and an equal amount of shit you didn't want?

That is democracy. You can't vote to have someone that wants everything you want, they are destined to impose a lot of shit you don't want on you.

Do you understand this, or will you just tell me that my definitions are wrong...

18 July, 2007 02:21  
Blogger Mookie said...

Your posts are getting real bad. Do you notice how you are painting yourself into a corner? Especially when you conclude that dick cheney is a socialist.

That's funny, really.

Read this part again:

Please recognize that telling me what I mean by the words I use does not make your points valid, nor does it invalidate mine. We can change the meanings of the words we use to reflect this difference of definitions, but you would still have to address the words as what they mean (the definition), not by what they are (the particular spelling).

"Does your ideal situation involve taxation or violent coercion in any way, or do you advocate voluntary socialism, where people aren't forced to be socialists?"

The very point I was trying to make to you is that Orwell and Vonnegut are not supporters of the type of "socialism" you describe, because it would make their books horribly hypocritical. If it doesn't mean what you think it means, what does it mean?

You still have not done enough research to find out. When you do, come here with the definition, reread everything we went over, and then you will answer the question you finally bothered to ask. What I'm hoping you'll notice is that:

1) The definition you have been using makes you sound really silly.

2) I have been consistent this entire time, and if you were to peruse this blog and my stumbleupon links, you would see more confirmation of this.

3) You were horribly misinformed by people who are very happy you were.

"There are better situations."

Sounds like you are advocating something other than democracy. It's either citizen participation or none. We have moved away from the abuse of the latter and have been seeking the relative safety of the former for hundreds of years. If you have a better way to do things, I'd like to hear it. Any mention of a mono-archon, or a move towards that, which is what it seems like you are advocating, certainly nullifies your whole "libertarian" stance. And no, there is no other spectrum.

18 July, 2007 10:19  
Anonymous beaulingpin said...

Did you not understand when I said Democracy is evil? I'll repost something I think you should read. Read it until you understand it.

"well, that is a false spectrum. Democracy still uses the collective opinion to take rights away from the individual. I mean, if 51% of the population votes that the government should have the right to tax the people, is it legitimate that the government then claims the right to tax 100% of the population, even the people that voted against the taxation?

If X say "hey, don't rape me", then a bunch of people vote whether they have the right to rape X, isn't that completely illegitimate as no one has the right to violate anyone else's person or property without the owner's consent? Well, that's what taxation is. You don't have the right to rob me, even if you all agree you have the right to rob me.
"

and if your socialism doesn't require taxation, then how does it work? You have not enlightened me as to how your magical socialism works.

You may have been consistent, but apparently I don't understand what you are saying so I can't judge. But I have been consistent too, in that I have never advocated violence to achieve an end, and capitalism is the best way to satisfy the desires of the people.

In your socialism, how are cars made? How about roads? How about anything that requires the sale of things, and the investment of capital?

You claim to be based on logic and rationality. You should start using said logic in your arguments.

And yeah, Dick Cheney is totally a socialist. He doesn't want competition, he just wants to rob the people and funnel the money directly to Halliburton. The money was stolen from the people through taxation. Bush and Cheney were elected through democracy.

But hey, how is Cheney not a socialist? Let's see that logic machine go to work.

18 July, 2007 14:38  
Blogger Mookie said...

"Did you not understand when I said Democracy is evil?"

Yes, I understand what you mean, that's why I used the term "tyranny of the majority" to describe your position. You *still* don't understand what I mean, though. What I really want is for you to say that a mono-archon system is superior to democracy. You can continue to claim that democracy is evil, and yes, by your standards it may very well be, but there are millions (if not billions) of people that would rather have some say in what goes on in their lives than none at all. However, this is just a democratic opinion, so it is evil.

"I don't understand what you are saying"

I wonder if you even understand what you yourself are saying.

"I have never advocated violence to achieve an end"

Ah, but you did. You said it was okay that slavery took place and that the native americans had their land stolen from them so someone could benefit. You blamed socialism, but socialism had not been invented yet.

"capitalism is the best way to satisfy the desires of the people"

Hahaha!

"And yeah, Dick Cheney is totally a socialist."

More than anything else, this ruined any claim you may have had to knowing what you are talking about. Dick Cheney is not a socialist, not by any definition, not yours, not mine. And no, I will not bother explaining this because it'll only make me laugh harder.

I can see this is drawing to a close, because we have exhausted ourselves without getting anywhere.
Despite it all, this has been an enlightening experience for me because it shows just how silly and inconsistent libertarian arguments can get. I'm gonna be quoting "And yeah, Dick Cheney is totally a socialist." for a long time. I hope you remain as ignorant now as you were before, not because I want you to be (I don't), but because you may yet entertain someone else who hasn't heard such absurdity.

If you want to know where I get my definitions so you can understand them, go here:

http://www.infoshop.org/faq/index.html

You may have noticed I have been haughty when dealing with you. Good, I laid it on pretty thick. Don't think it's because I don't like you as a person (I hardly know you), just the maladaptive memes that you unquestioningly propagate. You seem like a smart person, and I applaud your DIY attitude - one I maintain as well. So, DIY and read about libertarian socialism at the link above. Try not to let dogma get in the way.

18 July, 2007 15:51  
Anonymous beaulingpin said...

it's funny how inconsistent and small minded you are. "Ah, but you did. You said it was okay that slavery took place and that the native americans had their land stolen from them so someone could benefit. You blamed socialism, but socialism had not been invented yet."

"Please recognize that telling me what I mean by the words I use does not make your points valid, nor does it invalidate mine. We can change the meanings of the words we use to reflect this difference of definitions, but you would still have to address the words as what they mean (the definition), not by what they are (the particular spelling)."

Socialism may not have been "invented" yet, but there certainly was plenty of socialism before it was coined, it just wasn't called socialism.

How am I advocating violence when I say that slavery was an immoral, socialist construct of the state? I never said slavery was ok. Don't put words in my mouth, socialist.

Regarding democracy, you're kind of retarded. There are ways other than voting to get your ideas out there. Like, by buying a certain product, you tell the market that you like that product and value that product more than the money you spent on it. Democracy cannot validate evil. You keep implying that for society to work, some people must have power over others, via democracy. Well is democracy necessary in the absence of a government, the way anarchism requires?

You are not an anarchist in any way. You are just another socialist, in love with socialist dogma.

You have not shown how socialism could work absent a central power figure, or absent taxation. Yet you refuse to learn about capitalism, merely asserting that capitalism is an outdated system of consensual agreements that allow for the best allocation of resources.

Check out Mises.org. These people can argue much better than I can, but honestly, you don't seem very open to logic or rationality. Dick Cheney may advocate capitalism, but he's a fucking thief socialist. He does not provide things the free market wants, he steals from the public to fund his own shit. That is socialism.

18 July, 2007 16:30  
Blogger Mookie said...

"For anarchists, freedom means both "freedom from" and "freedom to." "Freedom from" signifies not being subject to domination, exploitation, coercive authority, repression, or other forms of degradation and humiliation. "Freedom to" means being able to develop and express one's abilities, talents, and potentials to the fullest possible extent compatible with the maximum freedom of others. Both kinds of freedom imply the need for self-management, responsibility, and independence, which basically means that people have a say in the decisions that affect their lives. And since individuals do not exist in a social vacuum, it also means that freedom must take on a collective aspect, with the associations that individuals form with each other (e.g. communities, work groups, social groups) being run in a manner ***which allows the individual to participate in the decisions that the group makes***. Thus freedom for anarchists requires participatory ***democracy***, which means face-to-face discussion and voting on issues by the people affected by them."

This is from An Anarchist FAQ. Please note the necessary condition: democracy. Be careful what you say, "libertarian".

19 July, 2007 22:48  
Anonymous beaulingpin said...

oh, well if it's from some random anarchist FAQ, presumably on the internet, then hey, I concede!

No. Voting is just an attempt to usurp the rights of others. The only place where a vote is legitimate is where all parties have entered into a contract that states disputes shall be resolved through a vote (like with shareholders in a company or something), but that is because the company cannot decide that they are going to violate the rights of other people.

that is the only place where democracy is valid. No matter how much you assert otherwise.

If everyone has the right to create things, then why don't they have the right to sell these things? Why don't they have the right to make a company that makes these things? When does production become capitalism? I would argue that voluntary, un-coerced production is a part of capitalism.

I mean, you have not shown in any way how your socialism works without coercion.

20 July, 2007 20:20  
Blogger Mookie said...

The underlying difference here is that you don't see the abuse of power inherent to hierarchical command structures.

Socialism, especially anarcho-socialism, is an idea that seeks to remedy this. Here is a good example:

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070730/klein_lewis

Please read the FAQ. It is not the best in terms of spelling or editing, but it gets the point across.

21 July, 2007 18:30  
Blogger Delta said...

I'll only make a couple comments, because I just got back from Portland and have only slept 3 hours in the past 2 days (drove through the night).

Firstly, about Orwell. He was clearly a socialist. Don't think so? Read Homage to Catalonia and see how he speaks of capitalism . Orwell fought in the Spanish Revolution and nearly died from a bullet wound to the neck fighting for the hope of a socialist society.

Also, you speak of capitalism as if it were without coercion. How do you justify this? If the majority of people decide that the small minority's owership of the property is illegitimate, what happens to them? Oh right, the power of the state comes down on them to defend the minority's position of hierarchy. If capitalism is threatened it resorts to violence in the extreme (see fascism). Maybe you mean that if everyone agrees that capitalism is "just" and "moral" (how you would prove this is beyond me) then it is without violence? Because that's obvious. Just as if in a socialist society if everyone does exactly what they are supposed to do and agrees with the way the game is played then there will be no problems at all, by definition. Surely you see that your belief that capitalism is without violence rests on the presupposition that everyone in your example world believes that capitalism is just and is the way that society should be structured?


And Cheney a socialist? I know this is just the internet, but please.

24 July, 2007 01:09  

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