sorry if I took so long to reply, I've been away a couple of days. I realize the
discussion has gone some way from this original message I'm replying to, and I
probably won't add much to what's been said, but since Rog's message included an
explicit request for a reply, I'll comply. Btw, and once again, Rog, as long as
the debate is purely politics-oriented, I am inclined to believe that all of us
have lots of previous thinking behind our current positions, so my main problem
in responding to your message is that I don't buy so many of your premises,
rather than your conclusions.
I don't think I can be referred to as "a socialist", in the full-fledged meaning
of the word. I only think that money rules too much in western societies, despite
all controls and "channeling" of money's power by governments; those controls are
nevertheless by all means an improvement from fully (jungle) "free market", and
have been brought, as far as I know, mainly by what you would call "socialist"
To the points:
1. How can you argue for various brands of socialism despite their obvious
inability to work? Or in the overwhelming evidence that free
enterprise/representational free democracy works so well in its modern form? (In
MOQ terms, it is proven to be the most moral or highest quality) What was the
game score in that 20th century battle? $450 trillion to none? (OK, you can add
whatever the GNP is of Cuba and N Korea)?
Premises mismatch. As others pointed out, there have been many working socialist
government in Europe and the world. The fact that free enterprise works "so well"
isn't in my book, unless you are referring to making money - yes, that's what
free enterprise is good at. But money (maybe originally meant as a way to ease
the circulation of goods) can also become a means to give the right to someone to
prevent others from accessing possibly vital resources, or to buy political and
juridical support while having immoral and destructive behavior, etc.
2. How can you argue for something that is against human nature (ie that people
should work for the benefit of "the state" "collective" rather than for
themself)? You don't think this is some type of requirement for social quality
I heard *this* argument (of people being evil) over and over and over again.
There are millions of counters to it, and I am choosing one at random just for
the sake of diversity: people actually care for (small) collectives such as their
family, besides and sometimes even more than they care for themselves.
Selfishness is not the primary force in human nature, or I hope so. On the other
hand, if it *is*, I just don't care about the fate of humanity at all. Perhaps
uncontrolled capitalism & absolutely free market is the correct choice, as it
will help us extinguish as fast as possible, and leave room for more altruistic
civilizations (whales?) (joking -)
3. How can you argue for centralizing power in the hands of the state rather than
decentralizing as is so resplendent in modern capitalism? Don't you see the
value of checks and balances of competing interests as opposed to the sheer
potential for exploitation of power centralization?
You must be referring to communism here. There's nothing inherent in socialism
that makes it go for "centralizing power", as far as I know. On the other hand,
in capitalistic systems you have political power and *economical* power, the
latter is too often controlling the former, and it is the farthest thing from
being free representational democracy, is it. Tell me about G.W.Bush and
energetic laws, and how petrol companies supported his campaign. Tell me about
philip morris, microsoft...
4. How can you be fans of the MOQ -- which dismissed socialism as less dynamic
and therefore less moral than free enterprise -- and socialists?
My previous posts contained some indications as to why, IMO, it's contradictory
to be fans of the MOQ and supporters of the "free" market system "as is".
Nevertheless, I think free enterprise per se could be dynamic, but for example,
monopolies aren't (and you have them today despite all anti-trust laws).
5. How can you denigrate selfishness when it obviously means "freedom to pursue
that which one values" in terms of the MOQ? Certainly you don't think capitalism
promotes viscious win/lose selfishness more than other economic models do? Or do
This really makes my hair stand, Rog. Selfishness is about what one values, not
the freedom to pursue it. You are selfish if the value you pursue is, for
example, being as wealthy as you can independent of what happens to your fellows.
Plus, as I have exposed ad nauseam now, IMO we are selfish as much as, and
because, the economical system wants us to be, to boost consumerism. We don't
share because it's better if everyone buys his/her own lawnmower even if you need
it 2 hours a week and your neighbors too - better for the lawnmower sellers. In
the western way, you have freedom to pursue that which you value (within certain
limits, especially budget) but *that which you value* is strongly influenced by
the society. That's mock (not MOQ) freedom, IMO.
6. How can you condemn free enterprise and representative democracy for pollution
and environmental destruction, when the track record, at least per unit of
production, is perhaps the best of any type of society? (certainly better than
the socialist economies)
I don't blame free enterprise and representative democracy for environmental
destruction. My problem is that: western societies tend to be money-driven; and,
there are billions of way to make money from the destruction of the environment;
and, as proved by petrol and tobacco companies, the more money you make the
harder is it that you can be stopped, since you will be funding political
campaigns, paying good lawyers, directly and indirectly "advertise people's
brains", and so on. (Wow that's my most-vetero-communist statement insofar).
7. How can you fault that which gives the most freedom in light of your beliefs
in the MOQ? This includes the hallowed freedom to "not get a job" to Andrea's
objections and even the freedom to "play soccer and think," to David's. (Though
it certainly doesn't usually reward folks to do either unless quite talented)
The "freedom not to get a job" is an absurdity. There may be cases when one can
do that, but I think you wouldn't want to be without a job, and you have pretty
good reasons for it. Especially when you have this quick national health system
you mention elsewhere, and have to *pay* for it. Especially when you have high
crime rates in the streets where you might want to sleep at night (if you have no
money). They tell me you can live pretty good in the USA without a job (hence
without money), but something tells me that it's not gonna be an easy life. Am I
wrong? If Thoureau was living today, someone would sooner or later come by his
door and tell him this is public ground his house is built on - pay for it or
move. The odds are he would be doing civil disobedience in jail even today, in
the free America.
8. Don't you see that the various free enterprise societies (including yours) are
also the places with the highest intellectual accomplishments? Science,
philosophy, technology, literature, mathematics, art?
As I said, we have socialist societies too in Europe and they didn't accomplish
any less due to being socialist. If you are referring to communist countries, I
will now my second truly-vetero-communist stance here. You probably know that
communism was never expect to work in a capitalist world. Communism only works in
a communistic world. That's one of the reason they tried to extend their evil
tentacles all over the world (besides, some of "them" probably believed they were
saving workers from being slaves, too). So one of the reason communistic regimes
didn't work was that rich people in non-communistic regimes got frightened and
economically and militarily sieged them. (It's amazing, there's always so many
viewpoints to look at things from). They had to fight hard to survive and to
spend huge amounts of money for defense (see USSR). And, they were poorer in the
beginning too. Plus, they tried to provide *each* of their citizens with food,
shelter, health support and so on prior to everything else except survival of the
nation. They just had less money to spend. Western countries developed a lot of
high-quality because they were richer and, in their priorities, intellectual
accomplishments came before some *biological-quality* level accomplishment for
the masses, too.
To mimic your ending:
I am not arguing that free enterprise system should be destroyed. I am a
moderated too and strongly believe in a graceful, step-by-step improvement in
*overall* human conditions. Overall meaning overall, not USA alone or Italy
alone. My problem with the free enterprise system nowadays is that while I see a
good trend in western societies, despite many problems, I can't think this is any
good as long as I see the third world going worse and the environment being
destroyed. I think that possibly the free enterprise system "as is" is making the
world go steadily *down* the quality curve, albeit some micro-systems are going
up (western nations). Selfishness about your personal private properties is
something I can smile at, but selfishness about what happens outside the
western-average-to-rich microcosmos is something I want to be out all the way.
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