Re: MD Rorty

Date: Sat Aug 16 2003 - 22:00:46 BST

  • Next message: "Re: MD Rorty"

    Steve, Platt, Matt and all,

    Steve said:
    “Based on what I've read so far, there is much evidence that Rorty is not the
    Communist that Platt seems to think he is and is rather a liberal Democrat.”

    Platt replies with:
    “Is there a difference? :-)”

    Matt counters:
    “Also, I wouldn't say that Rorty is a Democrat. Better to say that he's a
    reformist leftist.”

    Then Platt asks:
    “What's the difference between a reformist leftist and a Utopian Socialist?”

    I thought I might weigh in on this thread. As a leftist and another Rorty
    admirer (thanks Matt) I have some thoughts. First, Platt wants to know if there
    is a difference between the communist and a liberal democrat. Also he asks for
    the difference between a reformist leftist and a utopian socialist. I think
    there are obvious important differences between all four descriptions. For
    convenience and simplicity of thought, Platt reduces all four to the communism
    we witnessed failing in the USSR during the cold war. This is a mistake and is
    also not very conducive to the creative solutions to real might problems we
    might associate with dynamic quality (both the problems and creative solutions).
     But that is another thread and for now I will stay focused on these
    definitions. There are many ways to define socialism and communism, but
    economically the simplest way might be to say the means of production are not
    owned by private individuals but rather public entities representing workers (in
    theory) or, in other words, government (in fact). This is not the solutions
    most modern leftists (which includes moderate democrats, liberal democrats, and
    reformists) are looking for when acknowledging real problems facing the world

    Platt says:
    “Free market (capitalist) societies are not just objectively good (compare the
    U.S. to Russia) but metaphysically good if you believe in the principles of the

    And quotes Pirsig:
    "A free market is a Dynamic institution. What people buy and what people sell,
    in other words what people value, can never be contained by any intellectual
    formula. What makes the marketplace work is Dynamic Quality. The market is
    always changing and the direction of that change can never be predetermined. The
    Metaphysics of Quality says the free market makes everybody richer by preventing
    static economic patterns from setting in and stagnating economic growth. That is
    the reason the major capitalist economies of the world have done so much better
    since World War II than the major socialist economies. It is not that Victorian
    social economic patterns are more moral than socialist
    intellectual economic patterns. Quite the opposite. They are less moral as
    static patterns go. What makes the free-enterprise system superior is that the
    socialists, reasoning intelligently and objectively, have inadvertently closed
    the door to Dynamic Quality in the buying and selling of things. They closed it
    because the metaphysical structure of their objectivity never told them Dynamic
    Quality exists." (Lila,

    You see, Platt has decided this argument ended with the fall of Russia. Now we
    know that socialism doesn’t work, so why doesn’t everybody get on board with
    free market capitalism. It is true the Russian model for socialism failed and
    we should learn from this that the ownership of property and the means of
    production should remain in private hands. This is an important lesson everyone
    should keep in mind regarding the fall of the Russian empire and their
    conversion to free market economies. However, the problems that socialism
    strived to solve never went away. Reformist leftists agree that the free market
    is a dynamic institution. Socialism does close the door to dynamic quality in
    the buying and selling of things. But, the reformist leftist still wishes to
    attempt to solve problems found in our world that the free market is not
    equipped to handle -in Rorty’s terms, to reduce cruelty and suffering in the world.

    A reformist leftist doesn’t want to limit the awesome creative potential of free
    markets to efficiently allocate goods and services through the “buying and
    selling of things.” But, lets not forget those 2-4 chapters tucked away in
    every introductory economics textbook at the high school and undergraduate level
    - the chapters on income distribution, externalities and market failures. The
    strongest supporters of free market capitalism acknowledge these deficiencies of
    free markets. Income is not guaranteed to be to be equitably distributed in a
    free market society. Social costs (for example, pollution) and benefits (ex.
    education) are not included in the price of goods sold in private free markets.
     And free markets do not efficiently allocate public goods (defense, police
    protection, clean air and water, etc.) and common resources (arable land,
    fisheries, oil fields, timber, etc.) Reformist leftist still hang on to the
    hope that with creative dynamic thinking we can work toward, if not solving, at
    least alleviate them in order to lessen cruelty and suffering in the world.



    Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized
    the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is
    wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have
    doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried
    to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant, in
    this field as in all others. His culture is based on 'I am not too sure.'
                                                                       -- H.L.Mencken

    MOQ.ORG -
    Mail Archives:
    Aug '98 - Oct '02 -
    Nov '02 Onward -
    MD Queries -

    To unsubscribe from moq_discuss follow the instructions at:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sat Aug 16 2003 - 22:01:20 BST