End the welfare state

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Re: End the welfare state

Unread postby TooMuchBaijiu » Sat Jul 09, 2011 8:03 am

Objectivist wrote:I'm not sure I understand your point above. You call for mandatory government controls over individual decisions but then you finish your statement by saying you'd rather lean toward individualism rather than authoritarianism? I was hoping you could explain a little further.


Well, I don't like to see it as a pure black-and-white issue. I said that there's no reason for social individualism to be infringed, WeiWenDi made a decent point regarding mandatory education and other such programs, and I backtracked (without trying to make it look like I backtracked) a little, because I made the mistake of saying "social individualism" when maybe I should have said "civil liberty".

Anyway, I suppose I could put it this way. Let's do a 1-10 scale, with 1 being anarchy and 10 being totalitarianism. Liberty vs. Order. I figure you would want a society scoring somewhere around 2, while WWD would want one around 6. I suppose I'd want one scoring 3 or 4, or maybe 5 in times of crisis.

I think with too much order we become slaves to the state, and with too much liberty our society becomes dysfunctional. So I'd say we'd need enough order to allow our society to progress, but enough liberty to see that the people can do the whole life, liberty, and happiness thing. However, if I had a choice between living in a society with too much order and one with too much liberty, I'd choose the latter, if for no other reason than the fact that the behavior of individuals is easier to correct then the behavior of government, as you no doubt agree.

WeiWenDi wrote:I think we're already tottering on the side of too much individualism, if we haven't already fallen off - but maybe that's just my Lawful Good side talking. Once again, I ask you: what do you think is the role of discipline in the society? Even creative, artistic and ingenious people require it to some extent.


As I said in the third paragraph above, I think a certain level of discipline is necessary for society to advance. And to restate the same paragraph in D&D terms, I'd say it's easier to steer a Chaotic Good society toward becoming Lawful Good than for a Lawful Evil one to do the same.

The social contract is mythology, and serious contractarians should be treated with the same derision which we reserve for creationists and intelligent-design supporters. There was never a point in human history where individuals came together and decided 'well, you stop stealing my shit and I won't brain you with my spear' - evolution far better explains social development than contract theory.


Not that I want to start a debate down this road, but I can't agree that the social contract is "mythology" any more than state societies are. While no, "there was never a point in human history where individuals came together and decided 'well, you stop stealing my shit and I won't brain you with my spear", I'd something similar did happen, with no one really knowing what it was or observing it as such. The oldest governments, state societies, nations, cities, etc. sprouted up organically, and order was created out of necessity, where people had to sacrifice a portion of their income (or harvest, or whatever) to maintain that order. That sounds like a social contract to me.
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Re: End the welfare state

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Sat Jul 09, 2011 9:55 am

TooMuchBaijiu wrote:Well, I don't like to see it as a pure black-and-white issue. I said that there's no reason for social individualism to be infringed, WeiWenDi made a decent point regarding mandatory education and other such programs, and I backtracked (without trying to make it look like I backtracked) a little, because I made the mistake of saying "social individualism" when maybe I should have said "civil liberty".

Anyway, I suppose I could put it this way. Let's do a 1-10 scale, with 1 being anarchy and 10 being totalitarianism. Liberty vs. Order. I figure you would want a society scoring somewhere around 2, while WWD would want one around 6. I suppose I'd want one scoring 3 or 4, or maybe 5 in times of crisis.

I think with too much order we become slaves to the state, and with too much liberty our society becomes dysfunctional. So I'd say we'd need enough order to allow our society to progress, but enough liberty to see that the people can do the whole life, liberty, and happiness thing. However, if I had a choice between living in a society with too much order and one with too much liberty, I'd choose the latter, if for no other reason than the fact that the behavior of individuals is easier to correct then the behavior of government, as you no doubt agree.


Hehe - I think you just articulated my tightrope-walking simile better than I did, sir. Kudos!

And I think you've got me pretty much pegged, though I'd almost say I'm more of a 7 than a 6 - though now we're just splitting hairs. Democracy is a very decent form of government, and I far prefer it (particularly in its mass-line forms) to any style of totalitarianism (which is just individualism wherein rights are extended to only one individual), but at the same time there is a levelling effect which I find distasteful - though all humans may make a claim to the same basic dignity and equality, somehow this gets extended into an area where it appears that all opinions and all values must be made equal, and that I find objectionable. Intelligent Design does not deserve the same level of respect from our educational system that Darwinism does, for the simple fact of the matter is that Darwin was right in the basics of his model.

TooMuchBaijiu wrote:And to restate the same paragraph in D&D terms, I'd say it's easier to steer a Chaotic Good society toward becoming Lawful Good than for a Lawful Evil one to do the same.


Huh. There is a problem, though - people have this pesky tendency to rebel against Lawful Evil governments, whether it's Qin Shihuang's China or Ollie Cromwell's Lord Protectorate of England or the Somoza dictatorship of Nicaragua (to name just three examples close to hand). Now, that's not to say that the Han Dynasty, the Restoration government of Charles II or the Sandinistas were angels by any stretch of the imagination, but they were all of them marked improvements over their predecessors.

TooMuchBaijiu wrote:Not that I want to start a debate down this road, but I can't agree that the social contract is "mythology" any more than state societies are. While no, "there was never a point in human history where individuals came together and decided 'well, you stop stealing my shit and I won't brain you with my spear", I'd something similar did happen, with no one really knowing what it was or observing it as such. The oldest governments, state societies, nations, cities, etc. sprouted up organically, and order was created out of necessity, where people had to sacrifice a portion of their income (or harvest, or whatever) to maintain that order. That sounds like a social contract to me.


Not to go all PoMo on your arse, but the fact that people didn't know what it was and didn't observe it as such is significant. Civilisation would not have been possible without pre-existing social arrangements and societies, particularly the agrarian ones which gave rise to Civilisation-As-We-Know-It-And-As-Copyrighted-By-Sid-Meier, have always been organised around one form or another of religion; now, if you want to pick and choose which aspects of the socio-religio-cultural matrix were important and label them a 'social contract', that's your call and there's no ground for me to say it's 'wrong', in the scientific sense of the term. But in all honesty, it's every bit as arbitrary and empirically improvable as saying 'God did it'.

There may have been an order, but ascribing to it any consciousness outside the consciousness that that order had about itself is a mythological exercise.

Objectivist wrote:Do you say this because of social networking? I think we've drifted very far from an individualist society. Especially under George W. Bush and Barack Obama...I think the United States of America is more authoritarian now than they have ever been in my entire lifetime. I see more people lining up to be part of "groups" or "collectives" than ever before. What most of these people do not understand is that when you live in a society that respects all people as individuals everyone is protected the same under the law. It is collectivism that separates us and teaches people that they are not a unique individual...that they fit into special "categories" that either help or hurt them in some way.

I'd like to see what you mean by too much individualism?


Saying that the Bush-Obama national security state is collectivist misses out on a couple of highly important dimensions. For example, the way it justifies itself is purely individualistic: it is your life, your property, your security that is in danger, traditional civil society cannot help, and the national security state are stepping in to protect that. The difference between 'security' and 'order' is that security is about neutralising threats to the individual, whereas order is about maintaining the social fabric as a whole. (That's actually a point I'd like to see communitarians like Amitai Etzioni make more clearly, as he in particular sometimes confuses the two. Yes, security and property rights are important, but we can't let them be our overriding concern, as opposed to justice.)

Also it is not collectivistic in that it demands only a bare minimum of legal compliance rather than active participation. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are being fought by volunteer armed forces; there is no draft and there is likely never to be one. If there were a conscription policy of some kind, it would be a lot harder for the American government to retain the national security state, fight multiple wars simultaneously and station troops all over the world in the interests of being the world's policeman. Ironically, being more collectivist might actually cause fewer wars, because more people would feel more directly invested in their country's foreign policy. Hell, look at Switzerland, Sweden and Finland - all of them have mandatory conscription; of the three of them, the last war to have been fought by any of them was the Winter War.

As to the second point, such as it is, it could use some parsing.

Firstly, your complaining about groups and collectives in the context of social networking is more than just a little silly. Facebook 'groups' don't serve any function outside themselves, people who join them are in no danger of being subsumed by the group at all. The worst that can really happen is that they might 'donate' their Facebook status or Twitter update or whatnot to some cause and tell all their friends to do the same.

Secondly, if it is a person's choice to join a group or a collectivity, why should that be a problem for you? Isn't that part of the notion of freedom that you champion?

Thirdly, you talk about collectivism as though it is some kind of insidious and malign doctrine. It isn't. Everyone is a member of at least one collectivity by virtue of nature alone: the family. Every human being I've ever met (I haven't yet met a clone or a test-tube baby) was the offspring of two other human beings. According to the usual course of events, those two human beings have the responsibility for feeding, clothing, sheltering, educating and raising their child. The child in turn feels bonds of affection for her parents. Yes, the child is wholly unique - but at the same time she is the biological product of her parents, the linguistic product of her culture and, most importantly, the existential product of her God.

Now, I believe we are becoming too individualistic in that our current social order is attempting to unravel and usurp its own foundations. The welfare state - to bring this back to topic - is but one symptom of this individualism, in that individuals no longer felt it their religious duty to provide for the destitute, the infirm and those otherwise unable to help themselves (thus leaving the State to come clean up the mess). I think it does an enormous amount of good, but at the same time I regard it as a splint for a broken leg: useful while the bone sets, but not something you want to have around forever.

The growth of the individual-security-oriented state, combined with the distorted power of markets governed by oligopolies with the means to advertise, seek rent and exploit cheap resources, have the socio-psychological effect of leaving people hanging. In such an environment, people of weak will will seek existential affirmation either in vulgar nationalism and daemonisation of the Other (waving flags, wearing wigs, accusing the President - baselessly and in denial of all available evidence - of the crime of having been born outside the country), or in mindlessly keeping up with the Joneses, or both. As Wendell Berry once put it:

Wendell Berry wrote:Individualism is going around these days in uniform, handing out the party line on individualism.


...

As for myself, it would appear that my own reaction is to deliberately take shelter in a Romantic mediaevalism of distinctly postmodern flavour while listening to Blind Guardian. So who am I to talk? :P
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Re: End the welfare state

Unread postby Grayshot » Sat Jul 09, 2011 5:46 pm

What in the heck is going on in this thread?

Objectivist, although I already know it is, I sincerely hope that your name isn't a reference to the ridiculous 'philosophy' of Ayn Rand.

Perhaps I'm a little too late in this discussion... But you have to be kidding when you say that we've drifted far from individualism. Individualism in this country is running rampant, literally everything is dominated by super-massive transnational corporations. The individualism is so powerful here, that it's essentially come down to a small minority of the population having the right to systematically oppress the masses. And yes, I'm serious.

Individuals don't get the opportunity to self actualize or realize their potential when they are dominated by ultra corporatism, and although the state might act in (very) few circumstances to protect workers, you'd be ignoring history if you didn't think that the state was absolutely necessary in preserving capitalism. I'm pretty convinced that the state came to be not by means of a social contract, as many believe, but because the powerful needed a systematic way to protect themselves and their property.

I would just like to add that the Welfare State you so despise is actually probably the thing that saved capitalism, which I assume you support, so in reality you should be thanking it.

Also if we're going to discuss the political spectrum, a two axis grid is much more appropriate than a scale of 1-10. See my attachment for the specifics


spectrum.png
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Re: End the welfare state

Unread postby TooMuchBaijiu » Sun Jul 10, 2011 1:47 am

WeiWenDi wrote:Huh. There is a problem, though - people have this pesky tendency to rebel against Lawful Evil governments, whether it's Qin Shihuang's China or Ollie Cromwell's Lord Protectorate of England or the Somoza dictatorship of Nicaragua (to name just three examples close to hand). Now, that's not to say that the Han Dynasty, the Restoration government of Charles II or the Sandinistas were angels by any stretch of the imagination, but they were all of them marked improvements over their predecessors.


Yes, it took massive, widespread rebellion to take down Qin, Charles I and Somoza (I don't know much about Somoza, so if it wasn't quite "massive" I'll concede that). What would it take to make a Chaotic Good society Lawful? Some paperwork, a few new laws, government reforms, etc. Consider the Articles of Confederation government of the U.S. You may disagree whether its "Good", but it was certainly Chaotic. What did they have to do to make it more Lawful? Order a shitload of booze and write the Constitution. Things settled down considerably afterward, and I believe President Washington was far better equipped to put down the uprisings that plagued the nation's early history. You could say turning a Chaotic Evil society Lawful Good would be a lot of work, but I think that's a different story.

Grayshot wrote:What in the heck is going on in this thread?

Objectivist, although I already know it is, I sincerely hope that your name isn't a reference to the ridiculous 'philosophy' of Ayn Rand.


Oh, boy. Ladies, gents, grab your Bibles and your flame-retardant clothing, it's going to be a hot one.

But for future reference, I think it's pretty obvious that many of us aren't very receptive to Objectivist's views. But we ought to stick to attacking his argument instead of his beliefs. An argument you can disarm. But people ride or die with their beliefs.

Individuals don't get the opportunity to self actualize or realize their potential when they are dominated by ultra corporatism, and although the state might act in (very) few circumstances to protect workers, you'd be ignoring history if you didn't think that the state was absolutely necessary in preserving capitalism. I'm pretty convinced that the state came to be not by means of a social contract, as many believe, but because the powerful needed a systematic way to protect themselves and their property.


Playing Devil's Advocate, I would say that a good deal of Libertarians are indeed against Corporatism and Cronyism in principle, since after all, it's nothing but Capitalist Collectivism, which goes against the principles of the Free Market. (It kills competition, for one thing)

However, I would also say that Libertarians do not believe the State should have the authority to forcibly bring the Corporations to heel, as did would eventually damage the potential of decent, ethical entrepreneurs. It should be the People who bring down the Corporations, by refusing to do business with them.

Also if we're going to discuss the political spectrum, a two axis grid is much more appropriate than a scale of 1-10. See my attachment for the specifics


I admit, a basic Order vs. Liberty 1-10 scale is simplistic-it was my intent to keep it pretty basic, in fact. I'm also quite familiar with the two-axis grid regarding freedom vs. control. However, it seems difficult for me to say that economic freedom and personal freedom aren't somewhat intertwined.

Objectivist, in fact, created a thread featuring a video claiming just that. And I, being the Social Capitalist that I am, did agree to an extent that there was a correlation. However, I did say that I didn't believe that one always equaled the other, or that economic freedom was equivalent to lassiez-faire policy.
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Re: End the welfare state

Unread postby Sun Fin » Sun Jul 10, 2011 8:46 am

We've already explored a two-axis graph with a thread about the Political Compass...

Here: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=20622

I also find it amusing that you call his political beliefs 'ridiculas' whilst in the next paragraph say that (according to your own graph) you are just as extreme as he is but on the other side. Pot, kettle, black.
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Re: End the welfare state

Unread postby SunXia » Sun Jul 10, 2011 9:26 am

Obviously extremists are going to see other extremists as ridiculous, we only have to look at the Cold War and Hitler's Anti-Bolshevism to see that!!
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Re: End the welfare state

Unread postby Grayshot » Tue Jul 12, 2011 3:48 am

TooMuchBaijiu wrote:
But for future reference, I think it's pretty obvious that many of us aren't very receptive to Objectivist's views. But we ought to stick to attacking his argument instead of his beliefs. An argument you can disarm. But people ride or die with their beliefs.


Perhaps my language was a bit strong. I'm just always so surprised that people actually buy into Objectivism. No philosophy department I know of even takes it seriously...

TooMuchBaijiu wrote:However, it seems difficult for me to say that economic freedom and personal freedom aren't somewhat intertwined.


Nobody's saying that they aren't (well, except maybe some Stalinists or something). In fact, I'm not sure there is even much of a distinction. The thing is, my definition of 'economic freedom' is different than yours. The way I see it, being able to choose between Coke and Pepsi, or Target and Walmart, or McDonald's and Burger King, that's not freedom. Being able to choose who you work for isn't even freedom to me. To illustrate my way of thinking, let's pretend for a moment that slaves in the South before the civil war could choose their masters. Would this condition make them any more free? After all, they still have to have a master either way, and are thus not free. And does giving them a wage really make them all that different from the chattle slaves? I don't at all think so.

Sun Fin wrote:I also find it amusing that you call his political beliefs 'ridiculas' whilst in the next paragraph say that (according to your own graph) you are just as extreme as he is but on the other side. Pot, kettle, black.


Oh come off it. I never called anyone an extremist, and I never said his economic standpoint was ridiculous, I was referring to Objectivism, which is an ETHICAL philosophy from which political beliefs are derived from. At least that's how I understood it.

SunXia wrote:Obviously extremists are going to see other extremists as ridiculous, we only have to look at the Cold War and Hitler's Anti-Bolshevism to see that!!


Seriously, don't use the word 'extremists' like that, it makes you sound like a narrow minded jerk who hasn't ever even critically analyzed his own beliefs. There isn't even such thing as an 'extremist', besides maybe religious fundamentalists or race supremacists, who base their ideas on something other than rational thought.

'Extreme' ideas are the sort of ideas you should probably be taking seriously, and stop buying into the two party (or three or four or five or 100+) party stuff. The US system isn't anything much more than a medium to resolve business differences, with certain industries backing each party. Yeah, there are marginal differences in social programs, but the only legitimate differences are the cultural ones like gay marriage (which IMO is ridiculous to begin with, because the anti-gay side is just fueled by arbitrary views).
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Re: End the welfare state

Unread postby SunXia » Tue Jul 12, 2011 5:40 am

Narrow-minded jerk?? Sure!! I was merely comparing that the two of you are on very opposite ends of the political scale, nothing to do with my own beliefs so chill your knickers and stop labeling thing as narrow-minded when you labeled somebody else's beliefs as ridiculous; I don't agree with Objectivist but you don't need to enter a discussion that way!! I was merely making an observation from how you addressed the idea at hand!!

And I would say Fascism and Communism were both extreme in themselves just saying!!
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Re: End the welfare state

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Tue Jul 12, 2011 7:58 am

TooMuchBaijiu wrote:Playing Devil's Advocate, I would say that a good deal of Libertarians are indeed against Corporatism and Cronyism in principle, since after all, it's nothing but Capitalist Collectivism, which goes against the principles of the Free Market. (It kills competition, for one thing)

However, I would also say that Libertarians do not believe the State should have the authority to forcibly bring the Corporations to heel, as did would eventually damage the potential of decent, ethical entrepreneurs. It should be the People who bring down the Corporations, by refusing to do business with them.


Just to play Devil's Devil's Advocate, libertarians can protest that they dislike crony capitalism all they wish. However, look at what they actually do and how they actually behave as a political bloc, and you'll see a very different story playing out. Pretty much all libertarian political advocacy (GMU, Cato Institute, AfP, &c.) is heavily subsidised by money from Big Oil and Big Tobacco, both of which have been and continue to be crony-capitalist rentier industries of the worst imaginable kind.

Also, to ask the question bluntly, if libertarians truly wanted the People to bring down the Corporations in order to bring about their free-market utopia, how come they are (again, as a political bloc) so actively hostile to the legal rights of worker cooperatives and unions (which are voluntary associations)?

TooMuchBaijiu wrote:Yes, it took massive, widespread rebellion to take down Qin, Charles I and Somoza (I don't know much about Somoza, so if it wasn't quite "massive" I'll concede that). What would it take to make a Chaotic Good society Lawful? Some paperwork, a few new laws, government reforms, etc. Consider the Articles of Confederation government of the U.S. You may disagree whether its "Good", but it was certainly Chaotic. What did they have to do to make it more Lawful? Order a shitload of booze and write the Constitution. Things settled down considerably afterward, and I believe President Washington was far better equipped to put down the uprisings that plagued the nation's early history.


Leaving aside for a moment the fact that the Martyr King, St Charles Stuart does not belong in the same sentence as Qin and Somoza let alone the same category, and that my example of Lawful Evil government was rather his murderer and usurper, the original question was one of ease, not one of cost. Lawful Evil governments do not last long, as a rule - it's fairly 'easy' to steer them clear of at least the evil part because there's really only so much abuse the governed will take before they start getting pissed off.

Chaotic governments of any sort are always messy and always a coin-toss. Sure, you can look at the example of the United States in its infancy, but there you had a relatively strong-minded governing class who were making a huge gamble on the fact that the colonists (including many, perhaps a majority who were either indifferent or hostile to the new government) would retain a certain level of civic-mindedness they had inherited from the British in the wake of revolution. The French Revolution would be the natural counterexample, starting off as Chaotic Good but quickly devolving into Chaotic Evil with the rise of Robespierre; it was only with Napoleon that they started shifting back towards Law, and as far as Europe was concerned he was hardly an improvement.


Grayshot wrote:Nobody's saying that they aren't (well, except maybe some Stalinists or something). In fact, I'm not sure there is even much of a distinction. The thing is, my definition of 'economic freedom' is different than yours. The way I see it, being able to choose between Coke and Pepsi, or Target and Walmart, or McDonald's and Burger King, that's not freedom. Being able to choose who you work for isn't even freedom to me. To illustrate my way of thinking, let's pretend for a moment that slaves in the South before the civil war could choose their masters. Would this condition make them any more free? After all, they still have to have a master either way, and are thus not free. And does giving them a wage really make them all that different from the chattle slaves? I don't at all think so.


I should warn you that this topic, as TMBJ and Shikanosuke can well attest, is my personal berserk button. Chattel slavery is a heinous form of evil matched only by outright genocide; it's one of the few evils for which I find war and cultural subjugation to be perfectly acceptable remedies. I have zero empathy for the apologists of the times and cultures which practiced it.

Do I think the wage system, in its current form, is wrong and in need of overhaul? Yes. Do I think the wage system is in any way, shape or form equivalent to chattel slavery? Hell no. See, even if the proletariat are vastly undercompensated for the work that they do, at least they are receiving the recognition and dignity that their work is worth something; it is only on this basis that they can have an awareness that they are meant for a more dignified existence. The same was true (though the exploitation was more obvious) of the unfree classes of mediaeval times, namely the serfs, who were treated under the law as people with rights in land, which could be contested against their lords. Chattel slaves, on the other hand, were completely debased by the vicious and amoral monsters which were their owners. They were not even given the basic considerations of dignity, but merely treated as another resource to be exploited.

That said... I am in full agreement with you on the main thrust of this point. I don't consider the 'consumer choice' to be a viable indicator of real freedom at all. Even people in authoritarian nations have the choice of Coke or Pepsi.
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Re: End the welfare state

Unread postby agga » Tue Jul 12, 2011 9:48 pm

Grayshot wrote:The thing is, my definition of 'economic freedom' is different than yours. The way I see it, being able to choose between Coke and Pepsi, or Target and Walmart, or McDonald's and Burger King, that's not freedom.


why not? markets coalesce on dominant choices. explain why being able to choose where you buy something - e.g. on basis of price or geographic proximity - isn't a type of freedom.

Grayshot wrote:Being able to choose who you work for isn't even freedom to me.


you must be familiar with Bob Black. "freedom is play". this is abstraction to the point of making the idea of freedom completely meaningless.

Grayshot wrote:To illustrate my way of thinking, let's pretend for a moment that slaves in the South before the civil war could choose their masters. Would this condition make them any more free? After all, they still have to have a master either way, and are thus not free. And does giving them a wage really make them all that different from the chattle slaves? I don't at all think so.


this is insane. do you have any idea what slavery is? what wage workers can be bought and sold at auction? you need to consider that ideas - slavery, freedom, etc. - can have multiple valid levels.
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