We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Tuesday, February 13. 2007
Read this mention at Derbyshire about Nick Cohen's new book (discussed in the past here). Derbyshire noted that Dillow at Stumbling and Mumbling believes that the Left has plenty left to offer. Dillow accuses the Left of squandering opportunities and ideas, and of confusing statism with socialism.
Well, I enjoy reading Dillow regularly, but there is little he says with which I could agree. He is openly utopian which, for me (although I like Dillow from what I can tell) indicates a great misunderstanding of human nature, especially its "dark side," which afflicts poor, middle, and wealthy equally. Dillow's notions, like those of Labour, lead to situations such as this: 1/3 Britons now derive over 50% of their income from welfare and the dole (at Tangled Web). Extend that further? To 100%? So who is "greedy"? Indeed, who is truly greedy? Those who want to achieve, or those who want support from others?
For me, that would be the utopia of a serf on an estate, or of a cow in a barn. Dillow has no faith in people, it would seem to me, to find their own paths through life, and so I feel his utopianism is basically elitist and condescending. (My view tends towards the notion that Socialism, in practice, is Feudalism in new clothes and with new excuses.)
And I will answer one question posed by Mr. Dillow, who asked, "why, if a centrally planned economy is a stinking idea, should a centrally planned company be a good one?"
1. Government enforces its wishes with guns and jails, and corporations do not.
And, lastly and most importantly, 10: Freedom. Economic freedom, risk-taking, failure, choice, etc. is so fundamental to the freely-chosen life of a free man that no bowl of lentils, no matter how tasty, should have the power to buy off part of his soul and his dignity so he can stand in a warm barn. Voluntary serfdom: Not a credit to the human spirit. Today, government builds and maintains the roads on which capitalism can drive. Give the government the steering wheel too, and they can control everything in your life. That would be a morally very bad thing even if it could be done successfully - and they would want to lock me up for having a social-psychiatric ailment like "Independence Disorder" or "Ambition Disorder.".
Mr. Dillow, the need for socialist measures is done. We have enough of them: No-one freezes, no-one starves, people get the education they need, the medical treatment the government planners want them to have, and they can spend their life on the dole for a sore back if they want to. Many, many votes have thus been bought already. And this is all thanks to the transfer of money from capitalism's miracle of wealth-creation, the miracle of markets and market incentives, to the non-producing but ever-arrogant parasitic government.
Yes, socialism is alive in all Western nations in hundreds of government redistribution programs, but we have had enough of it. No more required. Material needs have been met. Leave the rest - the pursuit of happiness and dignity and self-respect - to the people. No-one can confer these things of the spirit on anyone else: find out what people are capable of if not treated like imbeciles and cripples by a condescending, vote-buying government.
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What makes socialism rational? We call it socialism today, but the comparison to feudalism seems apt. Obviously, feudalism had a set of incentives. What of modern day socialism? What are the castles defending? Is that why global warming is so important?
Is the power of socialism contingent upon who is receiving money from the "social" revenue streams? This would mean socialism may be weaker when its only The Party receiving the money, but when its some nationalized industry, well, what have you there?
Like you say, socialism is contingent upon a certain amount of power held by the agents seeking socialist revenue. What happens when that power decreases relative to the "subjects?" Is the hope for Europe and China a Magna Carta that establishes new terms of the relationship between state and individual?
Think of Fred Ikle's notions about technological power. If I wanted to, I could turn my entire neighborhood into a bot net and farm its cpu's out to any task I want. I would have more power at my hands that 99% of humans who've ever lived. And I would still be a small fry in the 21st Century.
Think also of mobile phones and mobility itself. Like Richard Fernandez's tours of the Philippine diaspora, if folks aren't happy they might as well move to some place where they've a change to pursue happiness. Socialism can obviously take advantage of this mobility; think of what exactly we refer to when we speak of the "problems" of European and American immigration policies. The problem is a confluence of a socialist goals and interested immigrants.
But mobility is of course not limited to North Africans and Mexicans. Think of "White Flight." So where are we going then, cell phones (powerful enough to guide a craft to the moon) in hand? Will we become a nation of technophilic Thoreaus, disconnected from the last vestiges of 20th Century mass culture, but highly connected to the Long Tail Renaissance in the 21st?
One more thing:
Is a certain type of civil society/polis or whatever dependent upon specific methods of communication? Upon certain "forums" or media? What happens when these forms of communication are fundamentally ruined by new forms? What survives? The desire to create a new civil society/polis? Obviously, it does not mean the death of community, per se, but might some communities be less able to adapt to this world? Will some fade away? If so, who? If not, is it business as usual in the given community or does something change when people begin belonging to many different communities, however insignificant? Is it simply their identity and phraseology of inner turmoil that adjusts, while their status remains the same as it ever was?
For instance, which presidential candidate will appeal to World of Warcraft players? Who will Second Life endorse? More importantly, who will care? These are not the same as NPR or NRA membership - or are they? Will there be as vicious a conflict between such smaller groups as the more celebrated and iconic ones? How can we imagine resolving conflict in world that's newly fragmented? Does this intrigue cease at the points of input and output, and when we step away from the screens, we're back to Joe-America? But as soon as you log in, you're a tireless crusader?
The Internet was designed to underpin survivable communication. One aspect of this may be the inability to stamp out harmful movements. If I can count on the ability to communicate so long as I've access to a signal, so can the anti-me, right? What on earth do you do then? Obviously, socialism can survive at least as well as anything else. You don't need to close down party HQs. You can't even close down servers; a nasccent ethos of the internet seems to venerate information itself, independent of its veracity or value. How sustainable is such an ethical stance? How survivable as well?
I want to state here publically that I am NOT the father of the late Anna Nicole Smith's baby.
No socialism is alive and well. Prospering as a matter of fact. Capitalism has been marginalinalized by a lack of undertsanding about it's application and even it's basic teachings in our universities plus socialism makes you "feel" better. And feelin better trumps all other human endeavor. One must feel good about everything. No bad juju or karma. Even if your dogma beats my karma I must go with my karma, or be marandized, karmen marandized.
It begins in the early years where most children are told to "share" and if they don't they are heavily castigated and made to feel bad. "Sharing" is good say the mommy,daddy, and the school teacher. The poor kid hasn't got a chance to become anything but a "sharing socialist" which they then end up codifying in our laws.
I say if Steinbeck's Tom Joad can't make it, let 'em starve.
What we need besides a good 5 cent Cohiba, is a human disposal trash pick up, some good eugenics ( and we're right there with that one) and more dead Muslims in Old Europe and Dearborn.
One of the cornerstones of the greatest president we ever had, Bill Clinton, was "I feel your pain"...so unfeeling will soon go the way of smoking in public places, or even if you work for certain companies.
So just remember socialism=feeling good. capital ism is leatting the Joad's of the world starve, which to some of us is feeling good, it's all very confusing.
I'll take "Therapists" for $500.
Its a good point. Given the incentives, when is the gig up?
I'm interested in France's election this year. I want to think Sarkozy could re-invigorate the nation. But if Ms. Royale wins, well, I'm glad I saw Paris twice before that...
Obviously, socialism/communism or whatever you call it, has destroyed zimbabwe and is now destroying Venezuela. It may be just easier for the smart people to just leave these hell holes and let them suffer the fates of the Mayans rather than fight. The only problem is what happens when America goes in the Mayan direction? Where do we go?
I just expect to show up to Desert Rat's AZ retreat and hope I can dig some ditches or something. Or maybe I can setup wireless printing for them.
RE; French Socialists
They are not just in Fwance. The Canadian election is also very important to the USA and PM Stephan Harper needs all the help he can get to defeat the Liberal leader and fwench citizen Stephane Dion AND gain a majority Conservative government. The electoral cards are stacked against the Conservatives, and the 'key' ridings in latte loving Toronto and Montreal are not usually up for grabs. The Canadian MSM is brutal and very leftist, unless the left there splits, which is entirely possible, as Mr. Dion is not a true leader. He was the 'anybody but' choice at the Libs Dec/05 convention. If the Libs/left do win back power in Canada, they have announced they will cap the expansion of the Alberta oilsands. OPEC, no doubt, would be ever so pleased.
Right now Canadas Conservatives are hording their best ammo and ceding some low ground in order to hopefully gain the higher elevation during the election. Also this spring is predicted to be a tough slog in Afghanistan for the Canadian Armed Forces and nobody will be happy about that. Even though it was the Libs who put Canadian troops in (Another Liberal PM Paul Martin even said he would have also gone to Iraq), it is PM Harper whose butt could be on the electoral line during a tough spring offensive in Afghanistan.
Also PM Harper knows he will never get a fair shake from the press so he has done an end run around them and now releases statements and speeches through an email list from the PMO and his speeches are on youtube.
Habu, I read your posts in the Scots paper. lololol The comment section of Toronto Mop & Pail, er... Grope & Flail, er....Moan & Wail...no no no, The Toronto Globe & Mail, has way too many anti-American socialists. They need a little shaking up. If anyone does post there , I recommend going easy on them. At first. If the Libs & Mr. Dion get too bloodied, too early, they might win some sympathy votes.
Canada is going Conservative. It may take a generation and it may get railroaded, but I think the trend is to the right, mostly because the Conservatives have chosen a good leader. I am hoping PM Harper will prevail and have a good long run as a majority leader.
Great post & comments--must go back and read closer, but wanted to point out this related (ht instap) essay on the government's "sovereign immunity". Tho in Reason Magazine, it's positively Reaganesque.
Mans best fiend.."Man eaten by his own dogs"
It's not quite "A dingo ate my baby but..."
A young man who died in his apartment was unrecognisable when found by friends, after he was partially eaten by his dogs.
The man, 29, lived in his Malmö apartment with his two Staffordshire Bull Terriers, (pit bulls, a nice breed, warm affectionate and love children) and their three puppies. He was found on Sunday by friends who became concerned after not seeing him for two weeks.....more
BTW these were socialist pit bulls...
Mr. Dillow, who asked, "why, if a centrally planned economy is a stinking idea, should a centrally planned company be a good one?"
The functions of each are enitrely different. It's like asking"if it's ok for marshmellows to be round then why don't we use them for car tires?
Look I think we all agree that sex is popular because it's centrally located....and I have no idea how to finish this off
"...socialist pit bulls"
Right--they ate the hand that fed them.
you are one of the funniest people it's ever been my pleasure to blog with.
and when you choose to write seriously that too is an education ..folks who know you must find you a (ok I'm not gett'n weird here,just say'n) a real pleasure.
Humans eat dogs: Why shouldn't dogs eat humans?
This is just another dog bites man story.
It should not go unnoticed that The Chairman provided a very interesting and well written piece here and I want to thank The Chairman, thank you.
It was not unnoticed BD, most especially #10. I just don't have the chops to contribute other than in a superficial manner. Except perhaps for one thing, "find out what people are capable of if not treated like imbeciles and cripples." I do not know why, but I have, since a very early age treated all as equal; genders, races, IQ's, backgrounds. I have, no matter occasional disappointment, found 99% capable, in some way, of contributing to group goals. Most just have too be given an avenue they can be addressed. But it was a yearning for independence and relevance I saw, not a demand for unearned equivalence. Given druthers, most will choose standing on their own, versus milking off Mom's teat. Yea, color me an eternal optimist.
Thank you 'Chairman', though, self intended I'm sure, the nic seems too belie the post.
Thanks, habu--that was a pretty good one, if i do say so myself. And it is for a fact a dog-bites-man story. And Luther, you got the best chops around, the hell you say you don't. And the Chairman's post is a helluva bravura statement, comprehensive, brief to it's intent, and as biting as the need to bite.
I especially liked the concluding "...but we have had enough of it. No more required. Material needs have been met. Leave the rest - the pursuit of happiness and dignity and self-respect - to the people. No-one can confer these things of the spirit on anyone else: find out what people are capable of if not treated like imbeciles and cripples.
"...utopianism is basically elitist and condescending. (My view tends towards the notion that Socialism, in practice, is Feudalism in new clothes and with new excuses.)"
Exactly--enter the Nomenklatura. Even France trains its feudal lords from an early age:
Oh bullshit BL, but I love you anyway. You, the straightest fu**ing shooter on the web.
Socialism is just a way for the 'somewhat' brightest too rule the lesser so. I don't think material reward has been/or ever was a particular goal of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot or even Chavez. Power... absolute, undeniable, non-opposable was/is their raison d'etre. They have all been deluded half wits, thinking that their particular circumstances and/or POV's give them sanction over all.
We, as a country, have never adequately addressed that insanity. We, as a country, have essentially always wanted just too get along. I'm that way myself. But when pressed, I can go berserk. Really, the only question is, can this country go berserk and act, before all is lost. All this political stuff is just a way of talking around FREEDOM. Forgive my naiveté and inarticulateness.
I'm a huge fan of Buddy Larsen, discovered him at the Belmont Club, followed him over to the EB and when he left there the place lost all of its charm. Just glad he left a bread crumb trail over to this cozy place. You too Habu...you're a bit crazy in a dangerously fun kind of way.
Yes, we hope Buddy will stick around. We do try to be extra-nice to him.
Oh great, now the performance anxiety. I'm shriveling up before my very eyes. The pressure, the pressure!!! Must...say...something funny...but the world...so grim. Oh the huge manatee.
Chill, turn on the TV, relax, and have another joint like a good boy. Want some more Fritos and another Miller Lite? Or some ice cream? Easy does it, son. You're all right, and you'll feel better soon.