MF has America given up on Dynamic improvement?

From: Wim Nusselder (
Date: Sat Jul 03 2004 - 07:42:17 BST

  • Next message: Amilcar Kabral: "RE: MF has America given up on Dynamic improvement?"

    Dear few,

    Pirsig's quote probably reflects his experience in a period in which
    conservatives/Republicans were in power. I'm no American and I don't fully
    know in what other ways American society may have been slipping back to
    Victorianism apart from what was reported about American government policy
    in the Dutch media in that period. It doesn't really seem likely that he
    meant liberal influences/state strengthening as the static ratchet-latch
    America was slipping back to.

    It's interesting that he is leaving behind in this quote the strict
    level-interpretation of the terms 'intellectual' and 'social', by adding
    'economic' in the same breath and by mentioning the Victorian pattern of
    value as the one America was slipping back to (a pattern of value he earlier
    classified as 'social').
    A few sentences earlier he is also mixing things up:
    'Just as the intellectual revolution undermined social patterns, the Hippies
    undermined both static and intellectual patterns.'
    Weren't 'intellectual patterns' also supposed to be 'static patterns'??

    The quote is a summary of 6 preceding sentences:
    'Today, it seemed to Phaedrus, the overall picture is one of moral movements
    gone bankrupt. Just as the intellectual revolution undermined social
    patterns, the Hippies undermined both static and intellectual patterns.
    Nothing better has been introduced to replace them. The result has been a
    drop in both social and intellectual quality. In the United States the
    national intelligence level shown in SAT scores has gone down. Organized
    crime has grown more powerful and more dangerous.'
    So it doesn't refer to a struggle between social and intellectual patterns
    of value in which intellectual patterns of value are losing ground. Both
    social and intellectual quality have dropped! (In the 'intellectual
    revolution', between the world-wars, maybe, but not in this period.) A few
    sentences later he explains that what's gaining ground is:
    'the old biological might-makes-right morality of prehistoric brigandage
    that primitive societies were set up to overcome'.

    I don't think this analysis is countered by Rick's examples of 'important
    social events'. According to Pirsig America must still be this 'rust-belt'
    that hasn't found its way back to Dynamic improving on 'biological
    might-makes-right morality'. For me Afghanistan and Iraq and the whole 'war
    on terrorism' seem a case in point. You Americans can add lots of domestic
    examples, I guess.

    'what sort of intellectual, social and economic "advances" could have
    prevented the rusting?'
    As argued in my 'economics of want and greed' (see link on
    gradual substitution of 2nd type social patterns of value (based on
    enforcement) with 3rd type social patterns of value (based on economic
    dependence) and of 3rd type social patterns of value with 4th type social
    patterns of value (based on convincement).

    Later in the same chapter Pirsig writes:
    'The idea that biological crimes can be ended by intellect alone, that you
    can talk crime to death, doesn't work.'

    I don't agree that he calls these crimes 'biological', having defined the
    biological level as latched in DNA copying elsewhere.
    The idea he expresses in this sentence fully accords with my argument,
    however: Trying to talk crime to death means directly substituting 4th type
    social patterns of value for 1st type and (low quality) 2nd type social
    patterns of value (based on race, mafia-type omerta to protect fellow
    mafioso and criminals extorting from society a larger share of the pie
    without working for it). It skips essential intermediary steps: higher
    quality 2nd type social patterns of value (state enforced law) and 3rd type
    social patterns of value (market discipline, having to work for your

    So I don't agree either with Pirsig's quote later in the same chapter (which
    also draws Pirsig's conclusion from the quote we are discussing here):
    'Intellectual patterns cannot directly control biological patterns. Only
    social patterns can control biological patterns, and the instrument of
    conversation between society and biology is not words. The instrument of
    conversation between society and biology has always been a policeman or a
    soldier and his gun. All the laws of history, all the arguments, all the
    Constitutions and the Bills of Rights and Declarations of Independence are
    nothing more than instructions to the military and police. If the military
    and police can't or don't follow these instructions properly they might as
    well have never been written.'

    According to me it is primarily social patterns of value we are talking
    about, with laws, arguments, rights, declarations and such being
    intellectual patterns of value that support some social patterns of value
    against others. All social patterns of value try to control lower quality
    SOCIAL patterns of value. A policeman or a soldier and his gun is the
    instrument of conversation not between levels of static quality, but between
    the 2nd type social pattern of value of state-enforced law and other social
    patterns of value. It is moral when used to control lower quality social
    patterns of value and immoral when it is used to control higher quality
    social patterns of value (e.g. stifling freedom of enterprise and freedom of

    By the way, Rick, why did you leave out the word 'arid' before 'economic
    rust-belt' in your quote?

    With friendly greetings,


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