To Jack: You suggest that without government overseeing various things I listed there would be no state. That is the point. There is no need for a beaurocrat with no experience in education to tell schools how to raise children. People wonder why the US is not doing better in education. This is the root of the problem.
While it may be easy to say then, how can you be sure in a laissez-faire govt. that private education will not necessarilly be worse, the answer begins and ends in having a rational philosophy. Our intelectual atmosphere needs to change before our economics can change and education can change. If a school under laissez faire is bad, no one is stopping you from changing schools or starting your own. If there is only one school in a community, why couldn't the community band together to start their own school, better than the other one?
Charity can and does exist in a Laissez-Faire Govt. Laissez Fiare does not mean get yours and screw everyone else. An ethical base wouldn't allow for that. You give the example of Katrina and GW Jr. as an example of Laissez-faire dropping the ball on human suffering and the poor. But we do not live in a purely Laissez-Faire govt. It is more akin to socialism.
I stress that Chairty can exist in any society. But that should be left to the individual to decide
Where does all this leave the poor? It leaves them to voluntary charity. If none is available then yes, they starve.
But the individual shouln't be expected the carry around parasitic moochers who have no interest in earning their livelyhood.
The individual owning the property owns the resources that are on that property and should be alowed to dispose of them as they see fit
The issue of overconsumption is ultimately a metaphyiscal one
As the trend continues capitalism is slowy being replaced by socialism. I read earlier that socialisim isn't bad but I can refer you to several instances in history where socialism destroys a country or in some cases nearly destroyed the world. To give a few, The Nationalized Socalists of Germany in the 30s and 40s (aka the Nazis). The totolitarian socialism of the mideast and asia. The communisim of Russia which was a catastrophic failure. (Communisim and Socialism share too much in common for me to considerthem fundamentally different. "A rose by anyother name")
The government is not there to bail him out nor are they there to tax his success, the products of his success and lack of there fore of his failures are his to bear. He can rely on charity if need be, but ultimately if he wants to be a billionaire, he damn well better get up and start working for it.
It is only natural that the allocation of resources slowly glob together like water droplets. Human nature is a driving force behind this as well. If a CEO in a company start lowering performance for a firm and it is not due to the mkt they lose there job instantly.
this is capitalism. With Mathusian pressures having a greater impact on scarcity the *system* of capitalism becomes inherently flawed. I agree with most things Paul Krugman has said and frankly I believe that our economic system needs to move away from competition orientation. The real question is how happy do we want everyone on the planet? vs. our country. this question is relative to what situation you were born in....
The agricultural economy was largely based under this principle. Except for beggars, everyone else continued use their labour or their intellect to earn for themselves or fend for their family.
I noted that you breifly touched on ecological distress and that capitalism was to blame. However, It is important to understand that it is nonobjective laws already in place that have determined where we can dump garbage and what we can dump. These laws also determine what we can recycle and what we cannot.
While I do agree that things like over fishing, pollution etc. are harmful not only to the environment but also to human well being, it is our current system that has allowed these things to go unchecked.
To touch breifly on Kant. Prior to his philosophy the world was caught up in the age of reason. Science was sweeping the globe. The wolrd was progressive and alive. It was due to the ideas fostered in the Rennisance and Enlightenment that lead to the birth of America and the industrial revolution.
While Kant was not an economic philosopher, he was a metaphysical, epistemological and ethical philosopher. His philosophy was very anti-reason. When this philosophy hit the U.S., hit men who were living off of a philosophy without a solid base, they were knocked from the base they did stand on. They could not defend reason, the father of capitalism and america.
What Kant did preach was collectivism, which bread philosophers like Marx and Hegil and bore Socialism, Statism, Nationalism and Communisim. It is the anti-reason Ideas and collectivist attitude that began to destroy this country and all it stood for.
When we began to create things like welfare and social security, things that scream collectivism, is when the country began its destructive course away from capitalism and into a Socialist, Statist mixed economy.
In life a mix of something bad with something good is always going to be bad. A little poison in your food is eventually going to kill you. The same goes in a mixed economy. Freedom cannot exist with controls, Capitalism cannot exist with controls. Throw in controls and eventually capitalism is going to die. We are watching it die now.
To touch on one more poit you made about consumerisim and capitalistic ideology I would like to say that consumerisim is a consequence of capitalisim. Responsible consumerism, educated consumerism would lead to a better system.
But again, this is the consequence of irrational judgement. When someone sees an exciting advertisement for a new product they immediately want it without evaluating the value of the product and its cost in relation to its overall quality. That is where the waste comes in and that is where the problems arise.
The issue isn't in capitalims itself. The issue is a philosophical one. Without a reason based philosophy, people are doomed to perpetuate the same mistakes. Without taking reality for what it is and using the mind to make rational judgements history will continue to repeat itself. As it has. Only each time will be worse.
It led to my outlook that all governments would be horrible to live under if they accomplished their goals.
Actually socialism is not "progressive", the greatest societal progress happens in liberal free market society - standards of living, freedom, technological and social progress (improvements in civil rights are not caused by activism, they are caused by capitalism). And even biological evolution is faster than ever, because there are so many of us. Humanity has moved closer to post-scarcity in the last two centuries than could have been imagined by the most radical optimists. But collectivists don't want that, the basis of their ideology is that free market liberalism is flawed.
Nazism and communism were setbacks on the road towards individual freedom. Modern socialism will be a temporary setback as well, maybe it will even make fascism and communism look pale in comparison, but socialism is not some end-point that we are moving towards, it is a bump in the road.
Because of the simplistic appeal of collectivist ideologies, such setbacks will continue to emerge and fail, but in the long they will be overcome and human progress will continue to converge upon better times.
I completely agree that this is the most desirable form of society to aspire to. I say this because some people don't necessarily see that freedom and responsibility as desirable, they want to be worse off as long as somebody makes their decisions for them and, by destroying the potential for happiness, takes away the painful feeling of having missed out on the happiness that they could enjoy.
There is one theoretical objection to this ultra-liberalism, however, that I somewhat agree with. And that is that pretty much everything we earn is not really earned by us, but inherited from from former generations. Take the members of this forum for example, we are pretty much only educated and wealthy enough to have a computer and leisure to post on the internet because we grew up in the society we did. I am not that much more qualified than an Ethiopian farmer to have deserved the difference in income. In some sense it would be fair to consider personal achievements to some part the achievements of society in general, which should be shared with the less fortunate members of society.
This could be a more moral justification for expropriation, as opposed to the "because we can" justification that socialism operates under.
Malthusian thinking is fallacious and has been proven wrong numerous times. Every decade Malthusian predictions of the last few decades are proven wrong, but they are simply exchanged for new ones.
Resource allocation is simply not a zero sum system. Their technical finiteness doesn't make it one.
Malthusian thinking is simple and intuitive, but wrong. Empiric evidence is quite clear, the greater world population is, the smaller the share that lives in poverty, and the greater abundance of resources.
No, in an agricultural economy you would likely work to a large degree for some landowner, not for yourself. People would be pretty unable to use their labour or intellect to earn for themselves. 'Earned living' is a pretty new invention. It came along only with Adam Smith and the enlightenment.
Don't forget that it has been capitalistic laissez faire society that has been the most successful in cleaning up the environment. Socialism may have good intentions, and it may seem plausible that it can "get things done", but it always fails miserably.
But since we are intelligent creatures, of whatever merit we think of ourselves, we should analyse. there are traditionally two reasonable ways to go about it, one being the way how Rationalists think, and the other is the Empiricists way of looking at things.
This is an honourable and reasonable point of view. But by implication are you suggesting and clubbing all the ism you mentioned as 'collectivists'. If so, Can you elaborate why collectivism appeals, although temporally according to you?. And why would it fail?
Again, a well thought of justification. Your appeal to 'share with less fortunate memebers of society', should have some basis to it. The isms that we formulate or we think we follow can't be Rational, if we are thinking about our neighbour.
I will explain. the proponents of laisez-Faire economic systems argues that it is most Rationalistic in its principle, and is natural , and therfore it follows Reason. The reasoned proposal being that 'each should fend for themselves no matter what, but if a natural calamity occurs, wait for charity to come, if it does not, then better starve'.
If this principle cannot be justified even by Natural Law, considering that we have ever been social animals, than what is it which is so appealing about being an Objectivist who claims he or she is highly ethical in their own conduct, but is unwilling to help a government which wants to help the poor. And what is it that the poor may want. We are assuming that all poor wants to rob the rich. What a funny assumption?
When ever, there is a natural disastor, calamity, manmde disastors like war, strife, or nuclear radiation, it would be by all reasonings the poor who face the worst of its consequences and the brunt of its effects.
So the question is why should not the government help the poor and redress those issues. Is there any rationalist or empirical, religious or atheistic, liberal or conservative, ultra and passivistic reasons not to.
Apart from the social darwinistic stand-point, which can be clubbed with nazisma nd fascism, no adherents of any faith or philosophies or persuasions would disregards the human want to help his neighbour or a fellow citizen. Thats the only thing.
It is quite appalling and disgusting to hear arguments against this basic instinct of humans to help humans. Suddenly, the whole bag of socialistic ills are pounded on the anvil to blast it into smitherings where the government is hammerred for putting tax-payers money into what is purportedly called as 'non-progressive' steps.
Whats so greatly divine about tax-money. What is it that the rich or the capitalist is going to do with all that filth. Filth in the sense, accumulated stuff confined to containers will smell and decay in time.
I gather you do not subscribe to such a ultra-conservative, objectivist view-point.
Is this your hypothesis or someone else. If that was so, America - which is proud of it being educated, liberal, scientific, rational, technological, self sufficient, militarily ready and equipped society - would not have invaded Iraq. Please consider
Sorry, i think you have not weighed the idea in its proper context. In agrarian society of the yore, the landowners, the feudal lords, nobles who were given the feduciary role by the sovereign from where the capital flowed. In todays time it is the first emigrants, and invaders, and inheritors who forced and owned land and has become capitalists. There is nothing new about 'earned living'. Every animal earns his living.
A society that hardly produces cannot pollute, while its imports as a consequence pollutes the environment of the country from where the contract comes. Small nations are hardly any good example of such societies. Yes, if they take care of the environment it is a good thing, but they do it for their own sake.
As for Socialism, it is also a practically flawed concept where collective responsibility is taken as a refuge for incompetence and unaccountability.
The individual does not take any responsibility, at the end of the day. Now, also consider what capitalsim does, here also the individual does not take the blame, he points out to the market. The market decides, what an individual does, and not the society or the governement.
Human beings wanted it both ways. We want to blame all others but ourselves. Thats the sad part of our being and history.
Collectivism is so appealing to the masses because it is simplistic; it is easy to understand. One does not have to be very deep to understand it. The subtleties of accurate explanations, which would support free market solutions, are somewhat harder to understand. And therefore the masses do not easily rally behind liberty. The masses easily rally behind a simplistic idea.
Also collectivism usually can be made to sound very noble, people want to be on the good side. Liberty has the disadvantage that it's both counterintuitive on a simplistic level and sounds selfish and mean.
Collectivism is appealing to the ruling class and financial elite because it grants them more power, it is in their direct self interest.
Academics tend to be collectivists because they are experts on one narrow topic. If you only care about one topic, authoritarian control usually seems more effective than a liberal approach. Also collectivists tend to become academics, that's too complicated to get into now.
Collectivism fails because it's simplistic theories are factually wrong. This obviously translates into a lack of success once you attempt to put the theory it into practice.
You are using the term "the poor" like a socialist - uncleanly defined. With the implication that "the poor" are an enduring, fixed group which would starve without help. In reality "the poor" is just a bottom percentage of income earners, many of whom enjoy a standard of living that was considered luxury only a generation ago. And many of whom will move to a higher income level within their lives. Even the truly poor are not some fixed group that would starve without help. Most would achieve something if there was no reward for failing available. And those who truly fall on hard times don't have to starve. Keeping people from starving would take a tiny amount of the current budget
Let me veer the topic away from the humdrum of debating points on the virtues of capitalism as against collectivism. Capitalsim has a better and efficient economic system.
I broadly agree with your point of views except a few........ i would ignore quite a few of your contentions which i feel is condescending and typically aplies the same logic and unsubstantiated points in defense of capitalism. For instance, charity is more efficient and people are better off without government intervention. Are we talking about a roof collapse or a fire in the kitchen, or are we talking about earthquakes, floods, bush fire etc. I wont ask for data or reports but lets use logic and reason. Than your example of socialist countries are more polluting is contrary to facts which shows N America where not a single socialist country exists, pollutes more than 40 percent of worlds atmospheric pollution.
Further more, your point of citizens of European socialistic nations are not responsive to charity may not hold much water, as if charity becomes the benchmark of a capitalist state. These are trivial arguments.
These are political argumenst at the most, typically seen over TV debates etc. Let us have a more economical and philosophical arguement to draw out the problem taht capitalist society is presnetly facing.
I shall only touch the broader issues which would need your consideration
At the outset, i had asked for clarifications on the temporality of its appeal. Even as the fact remains that more than half the world no longer is sympathetic towards communism, but still a large number remains socialistic in outlook. But since you had brushed all of them into the collectivists umbrella, i had to know why do you think it will fail? You say it is most simplistic, yet it is irrational.
This view that socialism is simplistic is quite a philosophical point. however, you seem to expound that being simplistic is bad. Just to counter argue your point, you may be aware of the Occults Razor doctrine (i think) which states that people will take the path which is most simple and direct. Why do you think that 'masses' as you label people should take a complicated and complex philosophy towards life?
I may have better reasons to argue why collectivist governments tend to fail.
Oh.... that was my mistake....... since i did not define those words. Poor could means 'those who are not rich' and t'hose who require assistance to survive'...... Secondly, you took my example of people who are left to starve in too literal a sense. It is nothing to do with food, but with the fact of giving some kind of assistence to the needy (which would obviously mean those who are poor - as defined above). Hope that clarifies the issue.
As far as the reality goes - "the poor" cannot be those whose standard of living has reached the level which was considered 'luxury' a generation ago. Such people cannot be considered poor.
1) Why more and more people in America is Obese.
2) Why are they enjoying more, having more holidays and living a bohemian life.
3) Why are people spending more time in the internet.
4) Why do they over-consume
5) Why America is the most polluting (by carbon emissions) nation in the world.
Hope to hear from you on these points.
The poverty percentage may have lowered but the real numbers are very huge, in fact by the very same presentation we come to know that the disparity levels have increased where the wealth in real terms are concentrated with a few, even as you neutralise population growth in actaul terms and also in relative terms.
Firstly excuse my way of quoting, I haven't figured out the multiquote yet.
But that aside, I like what you've said here and considering historical progress it holds truth. Socialisim as an obstruction puts it into a better perspective, but I would not hasten to simplify it. I can see a danger here of considering it something that will pass, like a fever. Socialism by default is as bad as socialism any other way and in my experience, if care is not taken, simplifying something can sometimes lead to apathy. However in the future I will deffinately be looking at it more in terms of an obstruction and not as much an inevitability.
While you may find the following adverse this is how I see it. Firstly that moderation is nearly as dirty a word to me as obligation or self-sacrifice. To be moderate in anything is a refusal to choose sides, to take a solid ethical stand. To be moderate on reason sounds to me like "unreasonable reason" which is a silly contradiction.
While I understand that what you're saying is that the perfect system would one that was balanced and to a point I agree, I think there are some big dfferences here when it comes to leading a country.
About collectivism being advocates of rationality, I disagree. Collectivism is extremely irrational. To further that, putting the most rational person in charge of the most irrational system and expecting rational results is ridiculous. I need cite no further than Soviet Russia and its attempts at rationality, which ultimately lead to an industrial decline, poverty and genocide before its colapse.
Because of geography, which determines types and availability of the food supply. Mexico, which has little in common with the US politically or socially, but is on the same continent, is the second obese nation.
The answer to those points, as far as I understand the question, is "because they can". America is rich, Americans enjoy more consumption and leisure.
I wil refrain from going into individual points and score some brownies from it. Points and counter points will go on endlessly, which fizzles out eventually by blaming poor definitions, and poor communications. On both sides, including self.
Your short answer was what I was looking for, and I hope you will stick with this answer. The impression i got from your astonishingly short and 'simplistic' answer is that you treat it as a triumph or, at the least, as a satisfactory accomplishment. If so, may I know, why do you think it is good thing?.
Depending on this i will seek to prove why capitalism has its own inherent contradictions, flaws and therefore is in requirement of a course correction.
Moreover, you could have avoided an embarrassment if you could have clubbed all the 5 question with the same short answer.
One more additional point on the issue of disparity. The increase in 10 percent in income in the case you show is nullified if there is a 12 percent inflationary trend. Now tell me who is poorrer? please ponder.
But just go ahead with your theory what you think are the flaws of liberal society.
Are you asking me why I consider material abundance and leisure time a good thing? I suggest that we all do. That's what any economic system wishes to achieve, right?
Thanks for giving this manikin an opportunity.
Please remember, the following will touch upon fields of knowledge including economy, sociology, psychology, anthropology, science, and philosophy. It may also touch some aspects of politics although i will try and avoid it as far as possible. I may take recourse to human history, though, but avoid current affairs as far as possible.
Please bear with me for my transgression and for making it look almost like a blog. But it will explain my position better, and hope that you may also take your time to appreciate it or critcise it as you deem fit. Thanks
We may start with this query and opinion of yours to begin with.
Let us define 'material abundance':
According to me 'all that things required by humans can be called 'material';
The dictionary says; what is essential and relevent; or broadly it says 'all physical things';
Now, 'abundance' may mean a measure which exceeds the limits of want.
The dictionary says: a very large number quantity or amounts of somethings.
Now 'leisure'; according to me it is a 'time for self for the purpose of pleasure, fun and enjoyment'
The dictionary says: 'time spent not working'; 'free time'
If one may ask why it is a necessity or a goal of economic systems to acheive for its citizen what is termed as material prosperity, than the general answer would be for attaining the so-called 'happiness' - a generic term. Have we critically considered this, or do we presume thats true by itself, and go ahead with an a-priori premise. Why should pursuit of the elusive happiness be the driving force or inspiration of any economic system? This is the trouble with capitalsim and communism. The bait in fact is a trap.
We will come back to this premise at the end. But for a thorough introspection, and for the sake of thought-experimentation, we need to stand and stare, as Wordsmith would have put it. We need to look at our past, to know where we stand today, and project our future based on the current activities of man.
It is entirely based on the peoples perspective. We need to have a relook at the basic concept of freedom. Its sprouts and roots, and follow its journey through out history fromits origin upto modern times.
The Old Ages.
Remmeber, in the ancient world the individual was never free. It was a constant struggle for survival. Tribal societies of the hunting and gatherrrer stage of human history formed taboos and rule sof conduct in and within the immediate society where a individual was born and habitates. All his rights were vested with the community, lead by his elders. What is freedom was never imagined nor known as a concept.
Much of the western philosophy originated from Greek. I will try in a brief manner to provide the environment in which the philosophies took roots.
As you know, basically it was a city state. It was quite efficient in its workings for the need of its citizens. It became self-sufficient, and the governmental system worked on the basis of an aristocracy leading the controls of economic activity, and labour was through the poor agriculturists settled outside towns, and slaves or purchased labourers. A livelihood which was full of material abundance came into play by virtue of its being a maritime state, ship building and fishing, having gold mines, agriculture for sustenance, and a free citizenry.
Since sustenance was taken care off by abundant sea food and agriculture, trade and commerce also increased in subsequent generations. The subsequent generations lived life in a prosperous environment. Alexander the Great had just acheived a feet, that hardly any one man in history could acheive except Genghis Khan much later. But we will leave aside military conquests. It is important to know what happened to individuals - the free citizens which excluded the slaves, and study the evolution of mind and the resulting thoughts. The journey and idea of freedom begins hereon in a clear manner.
Such prosperous environment produced for the first time in the history of man - the civil and civilised one, this concept of something called 'leisure'. Of course during those days it was not an English term, it was more to do with 'free time'. These free citizens - comprising the middle and upper class had more time to contemplate, like we do these days, and philosophise. It is then natural, if you think of it, that such philosophers would give more attention to the concept of freeness as opposed to slavery or confinement, or labour. The intellect which is the most important tool used by philosophers propsers in a free environement. It was a cherished goal, just as we cherish it today. The virtue or status of being free had an elevated mental position. The idea of freeness became a psychological necessity and today we take it for granted - th eresult of psychological evolution.
What value does it have in real terms. What does that mean? It means that if i am not working physically to look after my needs but am using instead my intellect, or power f reasoning, or ownership of vested lands or invested properties and use others to my profit and sufficiency than i am relegated to be nearer the societies top classes, the aristocrats and the rulers. In such a category, than naturally, the merchants, land-owners, priests were included. The value of status created an hierarchy. Of course, this is a natural process.
The Old System
Plato, for example came from such an upper class background. Much of what followed from him into a democractic, capitalist society was ingrained into the system by the seeds of thought propogated by Plato and his political philosophy. The individual was pitted against the state, the State was motivated by economic affairs and revenue generation, while the political power was devised by the citizenry according to the expediency generated due to whatever contemporary circumstances dictated during those days. The democractic set-up and economical systems generated a power play among the influentials including groups, associations, military generals and neighbouring interested powers that be.
This general conditions continued till and even after the takeover of the Romans and its empire stretching over southern Europe, N africa and West Asia. After christ, the Christian era tried to take away the real power - the consciousness of people away from the state centric institutions and orient the mind towards the higher spiritual power. The individuals was given respect and power to interact with God allowed and followed if the individual led a disciplined religious life. He was led by the attraction for the supernatural and unexplained issues and phenomenons of life. The state by its want is materialistic, religion tried to get away the people away from this notion and give preference to spirituality as a major force for decision makings. And not rely on the State's edicts and dictates.
The Medieval Ages
The reign of christiandome and its growing infuence survived till the Renaissance and Reformation happened in Europe. During the renaissance, the 'idea' of individual freedom, the idea of protestantism that wanted to do away with any intermediary between the individual soul and the higher power, was a powerful thought that sweeped across N Europe.
The man shackled to live a life either under the institution of the Church led by Pope's, or the State ruled by the Kings or Emperrors, along with his growing aspiration to have better conditions of living, own and till fertile lands, development of science and technology etc gave rise to the spread of the concepts of material prosperity and leisure for individuals. The individual also wanted what his lordships had. The intellectual atmosphere and churnings taking place in England, France and Germany, the averahe subject also dreamed like a philosopher even if he was a pauper. He too, just like the case was for nobles, knights, land owners, tax collectors etc, - the rich in general parlance, wanted hi spie and eat it too. This was an important tipping point. The mind sought freedom like never before until now confined to the above averages, now it was a commoners dream too.
The aspiration of man took a further fillip by inventions of better tools and mechanical machinery and the discoveries of newer land and pastures that ensured 'abundance' in its broadest meanings.
One important player who exposed the rules of the game within a democracy was Machiavelli. He proposed and wrote about a secular political philosophy in which he suggests that the ends of attaining political power is more important than the means employed. Morality was not in recognition in rules of gaining power. However he also gave fruit to the notion of freedom confined to the bastract of mind and concepts and advanced the thought of incorpoarting it into political theory. He proposed a very important theory wherein he sought and advised that each class, the kings or the rulers, the nobles and the merchants, and the rest of the classes of people should have 'rights' according to the position or proximity or priority the class may aggrogate with the Centre of Power.
It was important because for the first time a kind of legitimacy was brought in legal jurisprudence to give a great boast to the idea of liberty and freedom through the concept of rights.
Subsequnetly we saw a flurry of concepts that drew people and nobles to enjoy the same kind of freedom that a king may have experienced. With Rousseu, Voltaire, & Others reformists and philosophers, freedom was transformed not just as an idea, a hope or a thing of aspiration but was put into practical use. Freedom of trade and commerce, freedom to practise a profession, freedom to allow education, freedom to buy, freedom to manufacture, freedom to movement was now a matter of law benefitting the people at large or what may be called citizens of state.
(The French and German revolutions are examples)
Thus we saw, that people motivated by the concpet of rights came to the centre of power. Now people were a factor in power politics, not only in true democracies but also under monarchy and oligarchic regimes. As against the times when only the nobles and military generals were useful in gaining positions in the state. The transformation of power into the hands of people through the route of democracy is crucial and runs parrallel to the march of the idea of freedom.
The Modern Age
This age begins for this purpose, from the industrial revolution, when material transformation was engined into a trajectory from where mankind never looked back. It swept away many notions like traditions, adherence to monarchs and tyrants, to centres of power, to serfs and fiefdoms. It tore apart the notions of servitude to the upper classes, allegiance to religion, adherence to law. The principles of secularism also took roots. All this happenned because the means of production and travel changed from the traditional yokes and wheels to powerred means, where by easier and greater access to products and markets were available. Products useful for everyday living was being mass produced wherby both cost of production and access to products was within reach of an average citizen.
Guilds and corporation formed their own trusts,a nd association so that the aspiring consumers could be habituated into a new living standards. The state or the governement had to intervene when the people were burdened by inflation and monopolised pricing of products which were essential for urban living. The dynamics of urbane life style is such that while the urbanites cannot afford to produce their own food they had to rely on suppliers and merchandise.
The labour scene also changed from the worse to the better, as compared from the pre-industrail eras where labour was allowed to work 12 to 16 hours and without leave. While exploitation of labour was universal, it was seen by th epowers that be to continue status qua as more and more competition was being realsied between European nations, between corpoarates where the prime force was teh capital employed to run an industrial unit. It is this exploitation of labour that changed the equation and discousre of human freedom.
Freedom was given the due respect as long as it did not infringe on the rights of the capitalist. The American revolution and the subsequnet civil war epitomises the force of freedom. It sought to free th epeople from the power of external authority and remove people from the shackles of internal authorities. The American principle of individual freedom being sacred and sacrosanct without conditions was an eyeopener to the entire world. Democracy was to be truly practised when Lincoln laid the principle and said it is by, for and to the people. The freedom that the Land of Opportunities gave after killing and subjugating the Original inhabitants was projected as if it is the true promised land. A Land of abundance. A Land of Rights, A land of making it Big, A land of Living the dreams, A land of Individuals and Liberty and Equality.
The early anglo - americans were still a community of great ethics and religion. The framers of American Constitution were visionaries in their own right. They showed the world how each citizen irrespective of their status can be protected by law, and no restrictions were placed on where to travel and what to produce. Economy flourished, factories were being put up every day, labour was in shortfall, which increases labour demand, labour wages increased naturally, inviting and enticing more emigarnts from other parts of Europe, Mexico, and Latin countries. America was a Land of Dreams.
However, an economy driven by capital with an aim to primarily take care and needs of its own growth, demand and supply gained a momentum of its own. The European super powers were ravaged by war and terribly handicapped due to its imperialist agendas and the fate of facing a megalomaniac emperror of sorts, due to which they were severely affected. America far away bounded by oceans was the least affected. Its economy soared like never before. labour in Europe was fed up with the restrictions of the state, the hardships of wars, and of the moral values of the hypocritical church.
The Lure for the Land of Freedom was so attractive that the emigrants worked hard as ever, just for attraction, sake and promise of freedom and equality. The America government could not be expected to do anything as the economy was on self automative drive. Except to keep the promise, of unfrettered freedom which was made sacrosant and and was santified like a deity, teh governemnt had little role to play.
Thus is the nature of man. Unfrettered freedom and happiness was the promise made, and so it was necessary for the average Americanised citizen to enjoy his life in whatever way he wanted to. Away from the forces of culture, tradition, customs and beliefs, he was hungry for a full life.
On one hand Capitalism moved the economy, liberty and freedom ensured political stability. Large and gigantic corporations were formed setting its own rules and terms of employment. Technologies like radio, television and an hungry audience for news created a new industry of media, and entertainment. The economy was feeding the people. One would say, what is wrong with all this. Well there was nothing wrong with any of this preceding events, in fact it was a perfect system. Little of government intervention was an ideal situation.
But the problems starts hereforth. Bouyed by a self sufficient agricultural society, using modern technolgy, science and tools to full and effective use, the rational America turned into an even more rational industrial society. Industrial products needs to be consumed by a market. For which the freedom seeking citizens were a ready target. Marketing, and advertisments companies with specialised personnels graduated out of American colleges, were than picked up by America conglomerates to plan and implement policies which would make the saving American into an spending American.
The markets were flooded with cars, cigarretes, and colddrinks. Laws were framed to see that people use cars for commuting, (On a smaller note: babies are not supposed to be carrried in arms but in wheel chairs or strolleys, I heard there some laws on this count). As is human nature, American Economy ran on cars. Large cars, fast cars, small cars.
One needs to understand the dynamics of market forces. The capitalist invests in the belief that the consumers will buy, if they do not buy, he or she will fail. And suffer huge losses. But what happened in America is something bizarre. America meaning its citizens became a huge machine by itself. In the genration after th ebaby boomers and hippies, we saw a genration that gulped down huge amounts of coldrinks, ate fast foods like never before, bought cars every year, consumed and wasted electricity as much as twice what was needed, frozen food and canned food was relished by them, television viewing and cinema watching became the favourite pass time. Fretters, boiled chips, pizzas with luxurious toppings of cheeze or butter, fried potatoes and tomoto ketch-ups were consumed as if the American citizen was looking like the child in 'Honey I shrink the kid'. Big, fat and humungous.
At first glance, the root cause of all this unhealthy eating patterns appears to be the lifestyle. But as you can see from above the lifestyle changes seen one genration after another was the result of the promise of an irrational lure of Freedom. The cause lies in history, if only we look deep and do some introspection. The cost of freedom is what America is paying for now. The idea of freedom is great, but such is human nature, that material abundance is like a bait which looks so fleshy and alluring, that not even the most promising saint neither the novitiate can resist it. (The celebate life of a priest is seen as a punishment, for example).
Problems of climate change, green house gases, ozone layer depletion, suspended particulate matters, pollution of air, soil and water, have become universal problems. Factories spewing out emissions, for processing matter from raw materials to finished products, 24 hour assembly lines, 24 hour city life, 24 hour television and radio, the average American thought he had it all. Leisure could not have seen a better life anywhere in the world other than America. Theme parks, fantasy land, and Disney worlds could not have survived a decade if the sparkled eyed smart American had not thought of going and spending there hard earned money into self pleasuring pursuits.
The New System
To assure them, insurance companies risked to take up claims of thefts during travel, banks gave them credits for holidaying at cheap interest rates. Satisfying very need of the spendthrift American boy and girls were a sure shot way to earn profits. Consumption which was a good thing said by the economists turned into over-consumption. Could the poor, academic and theory based economist stop the humungous American kid from over consuming. Some environmentalist, sociologists and economists detected the trends and swings in American taste. they called it conspicous consumption, which means that an Average American, enticed and adviced by experts to spend to have great growths and pot ful of profits, believed that even if there is no money now, leisure remains a possibility because of the competitive spirit of the financial markets which will provide them loans on mortage or directly salary cuts or EMIs.
Only capitalism can create competition. Competition helps the consumers in the long run. No doubt about that, but such is human nature, that he will never be satisfied by what he has, unless his neighbour doesnot have it. If his neighbour has it, he should also have it. Freedom, Capitalism, Competition, Liberty, Consumption are all part of the same story.
They caused deforestation as is going on in Alaska, no worthy forest exist in Europe, extinction of species, both flora and fauna. Same was the result under communism. The only difference is there it was systemic and instituitional faults, here it is private and individuals fault.
It takes a lot of will and self discipline to curtail ourselves just like how the moth is attracted by light, so also would a man be attracted towards a woman, so would also that large mass of people would be attracted to freedom, liberty and equality.
No one individual is at fault. It is a frankenstien which is self propogating. It grows on its own accord. Once gained momentum it can hardly be stopped. It is how society behaves.
People forgot that with freedom comes responsibility, with liberty comes discipline, with affluence comes austerity.
No one says that a citizen of a free country, abundance of opportunity and doing hard work should be abstemious. One should enjoy ones leisure, entertain occassionally, spend but responsibly. No one stops them, but an indisciplined citizenry needs to be shown reason. In a highly evolved free seeking society it is a difficult task to curb habits.
Happiness has its place in an individuals life, but whenever it is used by an economy to boast its own growth, the economy and its proponents are just like th edoctor creating an frankenstian of mammoth proportions becuase the multiples of individual greed and slefishness has no limits. The numbers add up in an exponential manner in a free society. The acceleration will be uncontrollable and Nature will eventually act to balance things out.
The only way out of the mess, is regulation, as a short term measure.
It is high time for a rethink, before human consciousness condemns capitalism and democracy just as we today take a dig at communism and totalitarianism.
Allocating resources could mean choosing between buying a car or a bigger house. Allocating leisure time is just the same; it is the choice between enjoying free time or having more of any material resource. In a liberal society we could enjoy 100% leisure, but then we would neither have food, clothing, shelter or a car. In that sense, everything physical we buy, we buy with our time.
Therefore, I would define material abundance to mean the cost, in terms of our human time, that material resources have.
I would say that the goal of material prosperity is not to achieve happiness. The a-priori good that we wish to achieve is material prosperity itself.
Happiness is just endorphins in your brain. In a biological sense, happiness is pretty useless. Studies have found that more material prosperity can actually make us less happy. Should that mean that we should reduce material prosperity in order to achieve more happiness? I think not. The goal is material prosperity itself, not because it creates happiness.
Hunter-gatherers were not very leisured, as they had to spend all their time providing for survival. Therefore hunter-gatherers had very little material abundance, because the cost of physical resources in human time was very high.
But as for freedom, defined as the state of not being subordinated, they were quite free. There was nobody to boss them around except their extended family, which was quite egalitarian. The concept of subordination only came around with the advent of civilization a few thousand years ago.
Are you really from India? I would swear you did go through a western education system. Why do I think that? Because your main ideological theme is that of Marxism. You might not even be aware of it. I am not saying you are a Marxist, I am saying it is the narrative which guides your philosophy, the way you look at things. It is the narrative all western students are programmed with in schools. I am not sure if this is the same in India.
Your philosophy pretty closely follows the Marxist narrative. Namely viewing the evolution of the means of production as the causal factor for all historical trends.
That the ancient Greeks became logical was a result of the evolution of the means of production. Platonic philosophy was a result of the evolution of the means of production. Freedom in the modern age was a result of the evolution of the means of production. Everything is a result of the evolution of the means of production, that's the only thing that matters. This narrative is very central to Marxist theory.
You also seem to be into the Marxist premise that labor can be exploited in a free market system. Which is pure economic nonsense. When labor is being paid by free market principles; according to supply and demand without coercion, then it is not exploited.
There are many more common themes like that. I don't say this to insult you, but to make you aware of the narrative so you maybe can free yourself from it. Though tell me if you think I glossed over something.
The theories of Marxism didn't do so well when tried in practice. Therefore the movement had to re-phrase itself and pretty much re-surfaced as a environmental criticism of capitalism. "Oh no, we are over-consuming." It too looks at the industrial revolution as a major turning point. Now the problem is that we are burning up resources unsustainably, and therefore need control to save us from pending doom. Periodic environmental scams, such as global warming, are an outgrowth of that. That is pretty much the stage that Marxism is at the time, "we need to do something about the environment now, it is high time for a rethink, it is the 11th hour". Which is exactly your final conclusion.
Contrary to your observation, materials for survival was in abundance. 'The cost of physical resources in human time' which you playfully articulate is nothing but the cost of living in terms of human energy. At that time, time was not having a premium, or a value as it is in post industrial cash based economy and society.
Sir, it doesnot matter if the narrative sounds Marxist, it wont matter if it sounds Smithian or Keynesian, what matters is the truth of the matter. Since we are primarily discussing economic affairs, means and cost of production is central to it.
It now means to pay wages just to keep them healthy enough so that they come back to work tomorrow. You have to come down from the first world narrative too the third world narrative and see the picture for yourself.
My conclusion, by the way, since you did not find it, was that in short, There is no such thing as Absolute Freedom, Freedom is Relative.
Material prosperity has its own cost on the environment, your surroundings, your health, your general mental health. This generation is becoming fatter because of the foolishness of the previous generation. The following generation would become ill and suffer catastrophes like excessive rainfall, ...
Capitalism, as practised in America suffers economically because of the political philosophy of freedom which bestows too much of choice on the mercy and pleasure of the Individual. When Individuals starts living a Kings life, the costs are going to go up and high. The cost ultimately boils down on the natural resources and environment in general. The crucial point to summarise is that it is right to think that too much of governement is not good, but it is equally true to think that too little of government is also not good.
It is time to regulate an over-consuming society. It is time to think and rethink.
No, material prosperity is 'the cost of living in terms of human energy'. Material prosperity is not that there are lots of materials lying around ready to be taken. That does not take the cost of human energy into account that it requires to get those resources. That hunter-gatherers had plenty of resources available does not go contrary to my observation that they had very low material prosperity. Because the cost of human energy for acquiring those resources was very high.
I think you agree that the material prosperity of hunter-gatherers was very low - they had barely enough to survive. That plenty materials were lying around is of little use to someone who has to freeze because the cost of human energy for building a shelter was too high, or go hungry because the cost of human energy for hunting was too high. Material prosperity is the 'cost of living in terms of human energy'. And therefore time always had a value.
Okay, I agree. What I meant when I attacked your premise as being Marxist was that the ideas within it aren't factually accurate, but follow a intuitive narrative.
So associating your ideas with ideas that have been formulated and proven wrong, is an easy way to make you see where you go wrong. Since you are interested in knowing the truth, you want to know those errors in rationality, right?
Material prosperity does not come at a cost to the environment, actually the environment is getting cleaner along with material prosperity. It may sound counter-intuitive, but the data clearly confirms that. And logic does as well, just that it's more complicated than the simple calculation that consumption must lead to pollution.
Global warming is not real, the danger of made-up environmental problems can luckily be neglected.
Yes of course. If there is an abundance of labor then you only pay them enough to come back the next day. Anything else would be charity. A capitalist isn't in the business of doing charity.
Freedom is not relative, if defined correctly. Freedom is quite meaningful and precise, if defined as the state of not being subjected. The problems you describe only come from including "the freedom from physical necessity", i.e. wealth, to mean freedom.
Material prosperity does not have a "cost" as such. I addressed the environmental aspect earlier. Health is vastly increasing. It is true that obesity and mental health issues have been increasing in industrial society. That is just something that we have to deal with as individuals. The solution is not to reduce material prosperity, the solution is for individuals to know the challenges and react to them.
For example, all we have to know is that we shouldn't eat as much as we want to and exercise. But I certainly respect anyones choice to disregard his own health if he wants to. I don't really consider it a negative if people make rational choices to live their life that way. And I don't think we need some central planner to intervene and tell people what is best for them. Who are we to declare what the best way to live their life is? The mental health issue is very similar, it's just knowing how to deal with abundance.
This sounds a lot like the usual gospel of attacks on the free market system. You don't appear to be a typical collectivist, but you certainly buy into many of their (misleading) premises.
What I would like you to take from this is that these supposed flaws of free market society are not real. Great news, eh? You can sit back and enjoy life because global warming isn't real. You can hope for a brighter future because there are no physical limitations to raising the standard of living of the whole world to that of Americans. We don't need to be saved from impending doom, because there is no impending doom.
The challenge of our time is not to assemble the political will to regulate, the challenge is to find the courage to let the free market work.
I will attack your premise with logic, and see if you can defend it with logic.
If society is over-consuming, then consumption needs to be "over" something. It can only be "over" if there is a boundary to go over. Unless you can show me what that boundary is there is no being "over". So what is this boundary?
Please read a newsbit on this click
Is this a consequence of capitalism?
Is 'creation of wealth, and more wealth'..... any good to the world at large. Is greed a good attribute for becoming rich, and more rich?
We also hear about US govts move to educate children on the ills of obesity. Is america citizens and other capitalist society and their clones or their ilk falling prey to their own habits.
Where are we heading for?........ Kindly place your views.
There no capitalism in the world. It is all interventionist and socialist. People that say they for 'capitalism' do not even know what it means.
Capitalism is civilization.