Re: MD the ideology of capitalism

From: Mark Steven Heyman (
Date: Sun May 08 2005 - 00:51:10 BST

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    Hi Sam, Matt, Scott

    On 6 May 2005 at 19:29, Sam Norton wrote:

    I think you're misreading her. [meaning Rand]

    msh says:
    The link you provided is exactly what I was referring to in my last
    post, when I said:

     "By my definition, no fully-realized person would make an attempt to
    cleverly rationalize selfishness..."

    In this case, the clever rationalization is made by a second party,
    but it is nevertheless disingenuous (or ignorant) apologetics for a
    socio-economic system that by its very nature REQUIRES the sacrifice
    of others. Why disingenuous or ignorant? Because if she lived by
    her own professed ethics, she could not honestly support capitalism
    unless she was highly ignorant of the way it works. In fact, her
    unquestioned affection for capitalism is clearly an over-reaction to
    her aversion to Stalinism.

    Anyway, if I am correct about the sacrificial nature of capitalism,
    then Rand and all of Objectivism goes right out the window as
    precisely what it is: hopeless hypocrisy.

    In fact, based upon a very superficial survey of what Google led me
    to re: Gewirth, there doesn't seem much difference between his
    "Principle of Generic Consistency" and elements of what she claimed.
    But whether that is in fact true is presumably the substance of this

    There's Gewirth's element of undeniability. It's pretty clear, from
    what I said above, that the objectivists have no problem denying
    their own principles.

    But as a taster, consider this - the Adam Smith Institute pursues
    "the principles of choice, competition, free markets, lower taxes,
    minimal regulation, personal freedom, and smaller government."

    I have no doubt that the Adam Smith Institute believes this highly
    idealized interpretation of Smith's economic analyses. Smith himself
    was considerably more realistic. He said choice must be voluntary
    and competition must be real and broad, two elements that are
    critical for the working of the "invisible hand." When someone has a
     starving family, and there's only one mill in town, in what sense
    does he freely choose to work for a penny a day? Another element of
    Smith that somehow escapes the notice of the champions of free-
    markets, is the idea that labor, as much as capital, must be free to
    combine. Lemme know the next time you find a business-owner who
    willingly embraces this principle.

    My point here is that capitalist apologists revere Adam Smith, but
    show little sign of having actually read him.

    In terms of underlying principle, there doesn't seem to be much
    between that and your claims that a) freedom is universally desirable
    and accessible, and b) that the highest values are attained by a free
    choosing (the existentialist making of own values).

    msh says:
    But there's quite a difference if we remember that underlying both a
    and b is the most important of my principles: We must be fully-
    realized human beings, which means fully in tune with our common
    humanity and indiscriminately empathetic with all living things.
    It's important that we don't lose sight of this first principle.
    So... freedom for FRH is desirable and must be made accessible; the
    FRH's highest values will be attained by a free choosing. And though
    the highest values for any individual FRH may differ from the highest
    values of another FRH, they will never be in conflict.

    Your fundamental belief is that the fully realised human being,
    envisioned as one which is able to act without restraint (eg
    biological necessity, social constraint), would not be exploitative:
    as you put it "a fully-realized, fully-informed, unrestricted human
    being will not only refuse to be exploited, but will CHOOSE not to
    exploit others". Given this, the logical and necessary consequence is
    that restrictions to the exercise of that freedom must be removed.
    Again, in your words, "The restrictions I speak of derive from
    numerous and pervasive external forces like emotional and physical
    abuse, as well as intellectual abuse such as relentless mass
    advertising and religious dogma" - these are all the things which
    prevent the full flowering of full realisation etc.

    This is close, but I see two points of confusion. The restrictions I
    speak of prevent people from becoming FRH. This does not mean that
    certain non-FRH behavior should not be restricted by society. So,
    for me, society has two important tasks: protect people from
    destructive non-FRH behavior, and provide an environment that will
    ensure the emergence of as many FRH as possible. Despite their
    glowing words, the policies of GWB and other power-elites move
    society in exactly the opposite direction.

    This language, it seems to me, is exactly what GWB uses in, eg, his
    inaugural address this year:

    <snip GWB reading someone else's words, or having them pumped
    directly into his ear>

    Matt has already pointed out an interesting inconsistency in the
    speech. Inconsistency between political speeches seems more the norm
    than the exception to me. Though inconsistencies between paragraphs
    of the same speech are more rare, they are not surprising since
    political speeches are about tweaking emotions, not communication.

    ...but my main point is that a politician uses this language <snip>
    which is structured into our institutions and which is appealed to by
    all the politicians but especially by those on the right of the

    msh says:
    Maybe. But this language is not my language, and, in trying to
    equate the two, you are missing or playing down the idea of the fully-
    realized human being. See above, for MY language.

    As your second and third points are quite distinct, I'm gonna post
    this now, and address points 2 and 3 later tonight.

    Thanks for good work on this,

    Mark Steven Heyman (msh)

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