Author Topic: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...  (Read 5678 times)

Sorinth

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #50 on: October 14, 2018, 02:42:11 PM »
Capitalism is at it's core, the glorification of private ownership and private wealth, minimal government controls, and a free market.  It's based on the idea that people should be rewarded for their work.  Socialism is about public ownership, publicly shared wealth, and wealth redistribution.  It tends to include more government and more heavily regulated markets, and is based on the core idea of equality and sharing.  There are opposite economic ideas by design.  Socialism keeps the worst of the excesses in check, capitalism privides motive for advancement.  Both suck when taken to the extreme.

Fascism isn't an economic system, it's a political one.  Feudalism isn't really an economic system, it's a way of organizing a society into castes.  I don't know what mercantilism, but will look it up.

No, not all taxes are socialism.  Taxes collected by a monarch simply because he wants to build a new palace certainly wouldn't fit the description for example.  Taxes collected to redistribute wealth to people absolutely are though.  A negative tax bracket is a redistribution of wealth, and pretty clearly socialist in nature.  You're taxing some people who are rich to give that money to others who are poor.  (. . . to each according to his need.)

It sounds like you think there are two Capitalism and Socialism and presumably most societies end up with a mix of the two. In which case which economic system do you think was employed by the Greco-Romans? Because I can't see the argument that they were socialist in nature.

I don't buy it, economics systems are defined by who owns/controls the means of production. In capitalism it's private citizens, in socialist systems it's the public. In feudalism it's the King. He owns everything outright, because it's too much to manage by himself he gives parts of the land to his lesser nobles to govern in his authority, they in turn give parts of what they have to lesser nobles to govern in their authority and so on until you get to the peasant farmer whose given a piece of land to farm. It's distinct from Capitalism and Socialism.

Mercantilism you can argue by definition isn't an economic system, but in practice it was essentially the government granting a bunch of monopolies to companies, so the means of production was controlled by these monopolies, and the monopolies were enforced through the government, ie only the Hudson Bay company can trade in furs. Which I would say puts it into a different category.

WhiteTrashCash

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #51 on: October 14, 2018, 02:52:19 PM »
The point of Mustachianism isn't to escape Capitalism. It's to participate in Capitalism. 95% of the problems people have with Capitalism come from the fact that they are doing absolutely nothing to get their piece of the pie.

maizeman

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #52 on: October 14, 2018, 03:09:10 PM »
Is it possible for someone have a strict materialistic worldview and still be happy and fulfilled? Sure, whatever works. But this is not the general state of affairs in the US today. And I question the extent to which people are congruent with their stated worldview. For example, a shocking number of self identified Christians are, for all intents and purposes, atheists with a veneer of moralism. Similarly, I know self proclaimed strict materialists who, in effect, smuggle non-materialist values in the form of love, liberty, freedom, contract law, or even happiness into their philosophy as a means to purpose and meaning.

So two points here:

1) I know a fair number of people who, as far as I can tell while not living inside their head, evince deep spiritual beliefs yet still are personally quite unhappy. So I don't see the fact that there are many people who have a materialistic worldview who are also unhappy pointing to a causal link between materialism and a lack of happiness or fulfillment in life.* I see it as a reflection of the fact that many people in our day and age lead unhappy lives. (From what I've read, I would speculate that many people have been unhappy, regardless of their worldview, in many different centuries).

2) I disagree with your assertion that concepts such as "love, liberty, freedom, contract law, or even happiness" are inconsistent with a materialist view of the world. It is quite possible for things like a purpose in life, feelings of love or affection, and a belief in freedom and human rights to exist in a purely materialistic framework. If you personally require a spiritual world (whether in parallel with the material world "dualism" or in the absence of any true material world at all) in order to access those concepts, there is nothing wrong with that. It's the assumption that the same must be true of everyone else where you run into trouble.

In conclusion, I think you are using materialism (and hedonism) in a non-standard way and treating both as synonyms for nihilism + consumerism. Using these words in this non-standard way is going to lead to frustrating misunderstandings and fruitless conversations for you in the future. Case in point: If you had started out simply arguing that nihilistic worldview tends to be associated with people feeling unhappy and leading unfulfilled lives, we wouldn't have even had to start this conversation in the first place.

*Again the specifically values of consumerism and trying to win the game of social status ARE pretty clearly associated with less happiness and fulfillment in life. But conflating that particular pair of values with every possible world view that falls under the heading broad materialism makes about as much sense as conflating Bahaism with every single worldview that includes a spiritual realm. (And not to pick on Bahaism it's a quite nice religion from the little of it I've picked up over the years).

FINate

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #53 on: October 14, 2018, 05:02:33 PM »
1) I know a fair number of people who, as far as I can tell while not living inside their head, evince deep spiritual beliefs yet still are personally quite unhappy. So I don't see the fact that there are many people who have a materialistic worldview who are also unhappy pointing to a causal link between materialism and a lack of happiness or fulfillment in life.* I see it as a reflection of the fact that many people in our day and age lead unhappy lives. (From what I've read, I would speculate that many people have been unhappy, regardless of their worldview, in many different centuries).

I'm not making a causal claim about materialism and happiness in the most general and universal sense. I've already stated that I think there is probably a form of materialism that is effective at increasing happiness, and fully agree that there are plenty of unhappy spiritual people. [And this all presupposes that happiness is the end goal.] It is true, however, that our present state is a form of materialism that has run its course. People are not only disenchanted, we are also destroying the earth and trampling others the process. We need a change of mindset which can include a modification of materialism - but in any case, this would be a philosophical change. Going back to the topic of the OP, changing the economic system without addressing the underlying cultural issues is, IMO, treating the symptom not the cause.

2) I disagree with your assertion that concepts such as "love, liberty, freedom, contract law, or even happiness" are inconsistent with a materialist view of the world. It is quite possible for things like a purpose in life, feelings of love or affection, and a belief in freedom and human rights to exist in a purely materialistic framework. If you personally require a spiritual world (whether in parallel with the material world "dualism" or in the absence of any true material world at all) in order to access those concepts, there is nothing wrong with that. It's the assumption that the same must be true of everyone else where you run into trouble.

What basis does love, liberty, freedom, contract law, or happiness have in a strict materialistic worldview? Not only existence, but also that goodness or desirability of these can be derived from the material world? This is not a rhetorical question, genuinely curious to hear from someone who is (perhaps?) a materialist. My point here is just that the materialists I know do end up smuggling non-material values via these terms. Again, this isn't a moral failing. The point here is that things like purpose and love and freedom are not empirically provable.

In any case, I want to reiterate that this is not a rant against materialism in the most general sense. Quoting someone else on this:

Quote
Nietzsche seems to be suggesting that the acceptance that God is dead will also involve the ending of long-established standards of morality and of purpose.
Without the former and accepted widely standards society has to face up to the possible emergence of a nihilistic situation where peoples lives are not particularly constrained by faith-based considerations of morality or particularly guided by any faith-related sense of purpose.

This was quite prophetic on his part. He was not a nihilist, and he feared both nihilism and consumerism as a consequence of the death of god. His hope was that the Übermensch, or ideal human, would instead rise to the occasion. Alas, my observation of the world suggests that his fears were well founded.
 

GuitarStv

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #54 on: October 14, 2018, 05:46:31 PM »
Capitalism is at it's core, the glorification of private ownership and private wealth, minimal government controls, and a free market.  It's based on the idea that people should be rewarded for their work.  Socialism is about public ownership, publicly shared wealth, and wealth redistribution.  It tends to include more government and more heavily regulated markets, and is based on the core idea of equality and sharing.  There are opposite economic ideas by design.  Socialism keeps the worst of the excesses in check, capitalism privides motive for advancement.  Both suck when taken to the extreme.

Fascism isn't an economic system, it's a political one.  Feudalism isn't really an economic system, it's a way of organizing a society into castes.  I don't know what mercantilism, but will look it up.

No, not all taxes are socialism.  Taxes collected by a monarch simply because he wants to build a new palace certainly wouldn't fit the description for example.  Taxes collected to redistribute wealth to people absolutely are though.  A negative tax bracket is a redistribution of wealth, and pretty clearly socialist in nature.  You're taxing some people who are rich to give that money to others who are poor.  (. . . to each according to his need.)

It sounds like you think there are two Capitalism and Socialism and presumably most societies end up with a mix of the two. In which case which economic system do you think was employed by the Greco-Romans? Because I can't see the argument that they were socialist in nature.

I don't buy it, economics systems are defined by who owns/controls the means of production. In capitalism it's private citizens, in socialist systems it's the public. In feudalism it's the King. He owns everything outright, because it's too much to manage by himself he gives parts of the land to his lesser nobles to govern in his authority, they in turn give parts of what they have to lesser nobles to govern in their authority and so on until you get to the peasant farmer whose given a piece of land to farm. It's distinct from Capitalism and Socialism.

Mercantilism you can argue by definition isn't an economic system, but in practice it was essentially the government granting a bunch of monopolies to companies, so the means of production was controlled by these monopolies, and the monopolies were enforced through the government, ie only the Hudson Bay company can trade in furs. Which I would say puts it into a different category.

There are other economic systems.  The mix of capitalism and socialism is just what has been proven to work best in the modern era.  Ancient Rome economically followed a mixture of capitalism and some elements of socialism, but with many elements of the caste system inherent in feudalism.

The US government (for example) controls the means of production in a variety of (probably most) industries.  Try opening a bakery without getting regular health inspections.  Try buying material to operate the nuclear reactor you've built in your back yard.  Try opening a medical practice without a degree or training in medicine.  You can't do any of those things because of (sensible) limits and controls on the means of production instituted by the state.  (There are plenty of less sensible limits on the means of production enforced by the US government . . . prostitution, marijuana prohibition, etc.). Then there are the industries where it's all but impossible for a private business to compete with state owned monopoly, like fire departments.  So there are clearly many industries where the means of production are tightly controlled by the government.  The US is a socialist country by your definition.

At the same time, there's tremendous economic freedom to start a business (within limits, and under regulation).  Most people own their own property, and there are plenty of ways to start your own business and privately own the means of production.  The US is a capitalist country by your definition.

See where I'm coming from?  Most Americans hear socialism and think communism, but that's just McCarthy era red scare propaganda still percolating through the national psyche.  Socialism and capitalism are opposite but complimentary, each can be used to balance out the other.  The extremes of either just don't work.  No country has purely private ownership of all means of production.  No (successful) country has purely collective ownership of the means of production.

maizeman

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #55 on: October 14, 2018, 05:58:29 PM »
It is true, however, that our present state is a form of materialism that has run its course. People are not only disenchanted, we are also destroying the earth and trampling others the process. We need a change of mindset which can include a modification of materialism - but in any case, this would be a philosophical change. Going back to the topic of the OP, changing the economic system without addressing the underlying cultural issues is, IMO, treating the symptom not the cause.

Our present cultural system leaves a lot of people feeling unhappy and/or unfulfilled. Focusing on the fact that the present dominant culture is a form of materialism (although by simple counting of noses two very different highly spiritual/non-emperical worldviews are clearly the most abundant in the USA, they just are in such strong inherent conflict with each other while secular materialism, with a focus on consumerism and status seeking represents a mostly mutually acceptable common ground) is a form of materialism leads people into focusing on alternatives to materialism rather than alternatives to the specific problematic components.

To tie back to the central premise of this thread be like me looking at China and talking about how "capitalism has lead to corruption and has clearly run its course." Yes the system that much of China operates under is a form of capitalism (and let's please not have the argument about capitalism socialism again GuitarStv), but the way I'm stating it pre-supposes what I think the problematic bit of the Chinese system is, without presenting evidence that this is, indeed, the case.

Quote
What basis does love, liberty, freedom, contract law, or happiness have in a strict materialistic worldview? Not only existence, but also that goodness or desirability of these can be derived from the material world? This is not a rhetorical question, genuinely curious to hear from someone who is (perhaps?) a materialist. My point here is just that the materialists I know do end up smuggling non-material values via these terms. Again, this isn't a moral failing. The point here is that things like purpose and love and freedom are not empirically provable.

So a quick point about materialism vs empiricism. Are you familiar with the thought experiment of "Russell's Teapot"?  Russell's Teapot (an unobserved teapot orbiting somewhere in the solar system) is not empirically demonstrated to exist. Yet a person who believed it existed, while not basing their worldview on empirical proof, would still be an example of a materialistic worldview as such a belief doesn't say anything about a spiritual realm, it is just a conclusion about an unobserved portion of the material world which is neither proven nor disproven by existing observation of the material world. To switch to a real world example, there are certainly planets orbiting stars in other galaxies that have never been observed by any human instrument, and may never be observed by any human. Yet believing such planets exist is not inconsistent with materialism.

Now the next point is that is generally impossible to "prove" anything empirically. We have models of the world which give predictions. The more times a model makes a prediction that later proves to be accurate (an experiment) the more weight we place in those models. Some of them are very good at predicting to the point where we don't think of them as models anymore (i.e. gravity), but there is always the potential for some new contradictory piece of evidence to come along and show that our model is wrong, or at least incomplete.

So while I cannot empirically prove that free will exists, neither a belief in free will (or the absence of free will) are inconsistent with a materialistic worldview. In the absence of evidence either way, society works an awful lot better if we all proceed with the default assumption of free will until demonstrated otherwise than we assume no one can control or is responsible for their actions until they are demonstrated to have free will. So think of the assumption of free will as a heuristic hack that helps to understand the world. Given the assumption of free will, it would naturally follow that individual people could chose to a purpose they wish to pursue in life.

Love is a bit different, in that we actually understand a bit about the biological and neurological basis of love. Even if we didn't, love would be a very useful model for understanding and predicting our own feelings and actions over time and those of others. None of this rules out a spiritual component to love, but nor does any of this REQUIRE a spiritual component to love.

Quote

In any case, I want to reiterate that this is not a rant against materialism in the most general sense. Quoting someone else on this:

Quote
Nietzsche seems to be suggesting that the acceptance that God is dead will also involve the ending of long-established standards of morality and of purpose.
Without the former and accepted widely standards society has to face up to the possible emergence of a nihilistic situation where peoples lives are not particularly constrained by faith-based considerations of morality or particularly guided by any faith-related sense of purpose.

This was quite prophetic on his part. He was not a nihilist, and he feared both nihilism and consumerism as a consequence of the death of god. His hope was that the Übermensch, or ideal human, would instead rise to the occasion. Alas, my observation of the world suggests that his fears were well founded.

This portion of your post only makes sense if you assume that humanity in a pre-Nietzsche era was both more spiritual and happier or more fulfilled or more moral (or whatever goalpost you'd care to name) than the human civilization we live in today. I don't know how to assess more spiritual or less spiritual when looking at an era decades or centuries removed from our own, but the second part is easier to assess.

In a prior post you mentioned "modern America has a values problem (e.g. systemic racism/white privilege, economic injustice, environmental injustice)". I don't dispute any of those three examples, but I would argue that at least two of the three were far worse in earlier eras than they are today, although I in no way want to minimize the seriousness of the problems we face today.

1. Today black men are more likely to get pulled over by the police, and more likely to be shot unjustly the the police. Two hundred years ago, black men in much of the country had no freedom at all, and slaveholders thought nothing of tearing apart black children from their parents, or husbands from wives.

2. Today the poorest american's are food insecure and poor children face substantial headwinds if they try to climb into the middle class over their lifetimes. Two hundred years ago the poorest starved, and their children were almost always illiterate, making it nearly impossible to rise significantly in economic or social status.

3. Environmental injustice can mean very different things to different people. So I'll take a shot in the dark and pick one. Today, some extremely poor towns like Flint, MI have lead in their drinking water while the wealthy have safe drinking water and often drink bottled water anyway. Two centuries ago, many of the the poor lived in dense and polluted city centers, inhaling coal smoke with every breath while the rich lived in palatial estates in the countryside. For centuries and centuries the only reasons cities survived at all was that new people kept moving in from farmland as the people already living in the cities tended to die faster than they could have children.

So if the changes in worldview that you (or the person you're quoting, or Nietzsche himself) classify under the heading of "the death of god" lead to a collapse of morality and purpose in the late 1800s shouldn't things be getting worse, rather than better? (Even though the world we live in today is admittedly still far FAR from perfect.)

FINate

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #56 on: October 14, 2018, 09:44:42 PM »
Quote
What basis does love, liberty, freedom, contract law, or happiness have in a strict materialistic worldview? Not only existence, but also that goodness or desirability of these can be derived from the material world? This is not a rhetorical question, genuinely curious to hear from someone who is (perhaps?) a materialist. My point here is just that the materialists I know do end up smuggling non-material values via these terms. Again, this isn't a moral failing. The point here is that things like purpose and love and freedom are not empirically provable.

So a quick point about materialism vs empiricism. Are you familiar with the thought experiment of "Russell's Teapot"?  Russell's Teapot (an unobserved teapot orbiting somewhere in the solar system) is not empirically demonstrated to exist. Yet a person who believed it existed, while not basing their worldview on empirical proof, would still be an example of a materialistic worldview as such a belief doesn't say anything about a spiritual realm, it is just a conclusion about an unobserved portion of the material world which is neither proven nor disproven by existing observation of the material world. To switch to a real world example, there are certainly planets orbiting stars in other galaxies that have never been observed by any human instrument, and may never be observed by any human. Yet believing such planets exist is not inconsistent with materialism.

Now the next point is that is generally impossible to "prove" anything empirically. We have models of the world which give predictions. The more times a model makes a prediction that later proves to be accurate (an experiment) the more weight we place in those models. Some of them are very good at predicting to the point where we don't think of them as models anymore (i.e. gravity), but there is always the potential for some new contradictory piece of evidence to come along and show that our model is wrong, or at least incomplete.

Yes, I'm familiar with Russell's Teapot. Serious thinkers of faith do not go around thinking in concepts equivalent to teapots orbiting the sun or, as in other instances on this forum (personal experience here) that we go around believing in magic. This is trivializing and symptomatic of the larger issue of the exclusivity of modern materialism. The problem with this thought experiment is that it assumes all Theists have less of a logical leg to stand on than Atheists and therefore bear the higher burden of proof. I'm probably best categorized as a Theistic Evolutionist (with caveats I won't go into here). I'm very pro science, believe in the big bang and evolution as the mostly likely explanation given the evidence available. These are questions of how things, mechanically speaking, came about. However, the question of why and for what reason (if any) is at its core a religious one. Such questions are very much related to what the Greek Philosophers coined the Unmoved Mover or First Uncaused Cause , in other words, why did any of this come into being in the first place. The universe we occupy is finely tuned for the existence of life. Whether one chooses to believe this is explained by a Multiverse, Top-down cosmology, or a supreme being (deity, or even that we exist in a computer simulation) - these are all equally unprovable - no one teapot is more logical than the other. That we exist at all is a bit perplexing at the moment - I suspect we will solve this riddle at some point, but logically speaking, our understanding of the world is either an infinite regress or the regression bottoms out at some axiomatic base case that cannot be further explained. Either way, I reject the idea that science can provide an all encompassing philosophy for everything.

So while I cannot empirically prove that free will exists, neither a belief in free will (or the absence of free will) are inconsistent with a materialistic worldview. In the absence of evidence either way, society works an awful lot better if we all proceed with the default assumption of free will until demonstrated otherwise than we assume no one can control or is responsible for their actions until they are demonstrated to have free will. So think of the assumption of free will as a heuristic hack that helps to understand the world. Given the assumption of free will, it would naturally follow that individual people could chose to a purpose they wish to pursue in life.

Love is a bit different, in that we actually understand a bit about the biological and neurological basis of love. Even if we didn't, love would be a very useful model for understanding and predicting our own feelings and actions over time and those of others. None of this rules out a spiritual component to love, but nor does any of this REQUIRE a spiritual component to love.

My point was not about the existence of love, but rather a response to others (not you specifically) that "love" is useful as a basis for ethics within a materialistic worldview, when in fact this presupposes that a) love is good and b) the implications of such are derivable entirely from the material. Yes, one can argue that "loving others" is a benefit to society because it helps ensure the survival of the species, yet this too also assumes that survival of the species is good and desirable.

Quote

In any case, I want to reiterate that this is not a rant against materialism in the most general sense. Quoting someone else on this:

Quote
Nietzsche seems to be suggesting that the acceptance that God is dead will also involve the ending of long-established standards of morality and of purpose.
Without the former and accepted widely standards society has to face up to the possible emergence of a nihilistic situation where peoples lives are not particularly constrained by faith-based considerations of morality or particularly guided by any faith-related sense of purpose.

This was quite prophetic on his part. He was not a nihilist, and he feared both nihilism and consumerism as a consequence of the death of god. His hope was that the Übermensch, or ideal human, would instead rise to the occasion. Alas, my observation of the world suggests that his fears were well founded.

This portion of your post only makes sense if you assume that humanity in a pre-Nietzsche era was both more spiritual and happier or more fulfilled or more moral (or whatever goalpost you'd care to name) than the human civilization we live in today. I don't know how to assess more spiritual or less spiritual when looking at an era decades or centuries removed from our own, but the second part is easier to assess.

In a prior post you mentioned "modern America has a values problem (e.g. systemic racism/white privilege, economic injustice, environmental injustice)". I don't dispute any of those three examples, but I would argue that at least two of the three were far worse in earlier eras than they are today, although I in no way want to minimize the seriousness of the problems we face today.

1. Today black men are more likely to get pulled over by the police, and more likely to be shot unjustly the the police. Two hundred years ago, black men in much of the country had no freedom at all, and slaveholders thought nothing of tearing apart black children from their parents, or husbands from wives.

2. Today the poorest american's are food insecure and poor children face substantial headwinds if they try to climb into the middle class over their lifetimes. Two hundred years ago the poorest starved, and their children were almost always illiterate, making it nearly impossible to rise significantly in economic or social status.

3. Environmental injustice can mean very different things to different people. So I'll take a shot in the dark and pick one. Today, some extremely poor towns like Flint, MI have lead in their drinking water while the wealthy have safe drinking water and often drink bottled water anyway. Two centuries ago, many of the the poor lived in dense and polluted city centers, inhaling coal smoke with every breath while the rich lived in palatial estates in the countryside. For centuries and centuries the only reasons cities survived at all was that new people kept moving in from farmland as the people already living in the cities tended to die faster than they could have children.

So if the changes in worldview that you (or the person you're quoting, or Nietzsche himself) classify under the heading of "the death of god" lead to a collapse of morality and purpose in the late 1800s shouldn't things be getting worse, rather than better? (Even though the world we live in today is admittedly still far FAR from perfect.)

Is this not assuming that such progress would not have happened without the death of god, that there is a causal relationship between the two? I have a great deal of respect for Nietzsche, and for the fact that he rightfully called out a lot of shit in Christendom. But I don't think it was necessary to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I realize this is an unknowable hypothetical and willing to venture a guess that you have a different view on it. But in any case, we are where we are. I'm thankful that society is more equal than in the past. And am grateful for the advancements of science and technology (certainly would not alive today otherwise...long story...childhood disease) that have made us all much better off. I have no romantic view of the past, no desire to go back. Yet while we've developed many life giving ideas and technologies, the modern era has also shown we're equally capable of utilizing our progress to come up with ways to more efficiently kill and destroy. So while we are all much more comfortable and well feed than in the past, this has come at a terrible cost to the environment (even worse than 100-150 years ago) and even our health. So I think it's right to call out our own shit, which I think is in the spirit of MMM.

Thanks for your thoughtful replies, this is one of the reasons I love the MMM forums. Don't expect I'm going to convince you of anything or vice versa, but I appreciate the exchange.

[Edit: And we've thoroughly derailed this thread, so you can have the last word.]
« Last Edit: October 14, 2018, 09:55:03 PM by FINate »

Gary123

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #57 on: October 14, 2018, 10:19:27 PM »
GuitarSTV,  your comment below reveals your very short view into human history.

“That comment was made to attempt to dispel the lie that in a capitalist society there is no coerced work.  Work for the vast majority is always coerced, regardless of economic system in place.”

Starvation has always been and continues to be a real threat to people whose agrarian societies rely on favorable weather to grow crops every year.  It was during the industrial revolution people were willing to trade the risks of starvation so common with a rural life with a regular income no matter how difficult the work or low the pay.  You may think their jobs “coerced” and intolerable but the mass migrations from the farm to the factories was not coerced by our government or the industrialists of the day but voluntary movement by people seeking something better.

Maybe you are too immersed in abundance to understand why generations of Americans took praying over their meal so seriously.  Maybe you or someone you know hates to go to work everyday but that doesn’t equal coercion. 

Kyle Schuant

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #58 on: October 14, 2018, 10:43:22 PM »
Please don't assume you know what it's about and comment based on the title/my description if you don't read it. It's short, maybe 5 minutes to read.

Well...

Quote
We’ve never had the physical capability before. Until this point in human history, we needed armies of labourers, doing the work of providing sustenance to nations — farming, accounting, driving, and so on. But now, finally, technology is automating away repetitive, formulaic labour — not just in the way factories did before: churning out canned consumer goods. But in a real one — replacing their inputs, tilling the cornfields and balancing the books and directing the deliveries and so on.
We don't have the means now. The "input" of cornfields is not labour or machinery. It's sunlight, rainfall, and biomass. Absent sufficient of those we use fossil fuels - burning coal to make electricity to give light in greenhouses, burning oil to pump water, turning natural gas into fertiliser, and so on. Labour and machinery multiply the production arising from the inputs, but multiplying zero by anything gives you zero. So a cornfield must have some amount of sunlight, rainfall and biomass, whether natural or artificial.

The natural amount provides a certain surplus which we can use to have some people not involved in food production. Thus medieval priests, knights, artisans and so on. The artificial amount provides a huge surplus to have very many people not involved in food production. Thus hairdressers, personal trainers (I can mock because I am one), diversity managers and so on. Thus we've gone from 90% of people directly involved in food production in the West to 2% or so. That's due to fossil fuels.

Fossil fuels provide such a ridiculous energy surplus that we can pay people to do nothing, whether people doing FIRE or the Kardashians or whatever. However, fossil fuels are finite. The Earth does not have a creamy nougat centre of oil. At some point we will have to make do with less. This does not mean a medieval lifestyle, but it does mean a smaller surplus, not enough to have Robbie the Robot wash our undies for us.

The cornucopian technological dream is not too different to the heavenly dreams before it. "New technology will be invented that -" is not a scientific statement, it's a statement of faith. We've simply replaced Jesus or Mohammed or whoever with Science! and The Free Market!

We may or may not wish to escape capitalism, but the authour, like much of the West, wishes to escape reality. That's what booze is for.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2018, 10:45:15 PM by Kyle Schuant »

GuitarStv

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #59 on: October 15, 2018, 08:21:57 AM »
Starvation has always been and continues to be a real threat to people whose agrarian societies rely on favorable weather to grow crops every year.  It was during the industrial revolution people were willing to trade the risks of starvation so common with a rural life with a regular income no matter how difficult the work or low the pay.

To the best of my knowledge, most societies on Earth currently rely on favorable weather to grow crops every year.  Starvation is less of a problem because we've become very efficient at preserving stuff and shipping things from place to place (and of course because of the technological advances in pest control, aquaducts, industrial monocropping, mechanized equipment, etc. that have improved farm productivity).  There's a small amount of greenhouse and hydroponically grown food of course, but it tends to be more expensive than big ass fields under the sky.  The risks of starvation weren't lower in cities during the industrial revolution than in the countryside.  The initial technological advances of the industrial revolution (mechanized textiles, iron and coal) didn't improve food production at all.  During the second agricultural revolution, technological advances put huge numbers of farm workers out of a job, so they were forced to move to the cities as there was no work.

Can you provide some links or information that supports your theory that poor people working on farms were more likely to starve than poor people in cities during the industrial revolution?  I have never heard this theory before.


You may think their jobs “coerced” and intolerable but the mass migrations from the farm to the factories was not coerced by our government or the industrialists of the day but voluntary movement by people seeking something better.

You just previously said that people on farms were starving, and thus needed to find work elsewhere or die.  Now you're saying that they were part of 'voluntary movement by people seeking something better'.  Which one is it?

maizeman

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #60 on: October 15, 2018, 09:24:26 AM »
We don't have the means now. The "input" of cornfields is not labour or machinery. It's sunlight, rainfall, and biomass. Absent sufficient of those we use fossil fuels - burning coal to make electricity to give light in greenhouses, burning oil to pump water, turning natural gas into fertiliser, and so on. Labour and machinery multiply the production arising from the inputs, but multiplying zero by anything gives you zero. So a cornfield must have some amount of sunlight, rainfall and biomass, whether natural or artificial.

If you are arguing that labor and/or machinery are not important inputs to cornfields, I would urge you to examine locations with sunlight and rainfall but no farmers. You get plenty of biomass, but do indeed get zero corn.

Quote
The natural amount provides a certain surplus which we can use to have some people not involved in food production. Thus medieval priests, knights, artisans and so on. The artificial amount provides a huge surplus to have very many people not involved in food production. Thus hairdressers, personal trainers (I can mock because I am one), diversity managers and so on. Thus we've gone from 90% of people directly involved in food production in the West to 2% or so. That's due to fossil fuels.

This analysis neglects the effect of genetics. The varieties of corn grown in the USA today can produce much more grain in the same amount of land with the same amount of water, fertilizers, and sunlight available. Which is not to discount the effect of synthetic fertilizers on yields in the USA and around the world, just to point out that they explain only a portion of the change (from 35 bushels/acre about 80 years ago to ~180 bushels/acre today), not its entirety.

maizeman

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #61 on: October 15, 2018, 10:19:52 AM »

In any case, I want to reiterate that this is not a rant against materialism in the most general sense. Quoting someone else on this:

Quote
Nietzsche seems to be suggesting that the acceptance that God is dead will also involve the ending of long-established standards of morality and of purpose.
Without the former and accepted widely standards society has to face up to the possible emergence of a nihilistic situation where peoples lives are not particularly constrained by faith-based considerations of morality or particularly guided by any faith-related sense of purpose.

This was quite prophetic on his part. He was not a nihilist, and he feared both nihilism and consumerism as a consequence of the death of god. His hope was that the Übermensch, or ideal human, would instead rise to the occasion. Alas, my observation of the world suggests that his fears were well founded.

This portion of your post only makes sense if you assume that humanity in a pre-Nietzsche era was both more spiritual and happier or more fulfilled or more moral (or whatever goalpost you'd care to name) than the human civilization we live in today. I don't know how to assess more spiritual or less spiritual when looking at an era decades or centuries removed from our own, but the second part is easier to assess.

In a prior post you mentioned "modern America has a values problem (e.g. systemic racism/white privilege, economic injustice, environmental injustice)". I don't dispute any of those three examples, but I would argue that at least two of the three were far worse in earlier eras than they are today, although I in no way want to minimize the seriousness of the problems we face today.

1. Today black men are more likely to get pulled over by the police, and more likely to be shot unjustly the the police. Two hundred years ago, black men in much of the country had no freedom at all, and slaveholders thought nothing of tearing apart black children from their parents, or husbands from wives.

2. Today the poorest american's are food insecure and poor children face substantial headwinds if they try to climb into the middle class over their lifetimes. Two hundred years ago the poorest starved, and their children were almost always illiterate, making it nearly impossible to rise significantly in economic or social status.

3. Environmental injustice can mean very different things to different people. So I'll take a shot in the dark and pick one. Today, some extremely poor towns like Flint, MI have lead in their drinking water while the wealthy have safe drinking water and often drink bottled water anyway. Two centuries ago, many of the the poor lived in dense and polluted city centers, inhaling coal smoke with every breath while the rich lived in palatial estates in the countryside. For centuries and centuries the only reasons cities survived at all was that new people kept moving in from farmland as the people already living in the cities tended to die faster than they could have children.

So if the changes in worldview that you (or the person you're quoting, or Nietzsche himself) classify under the heading of "the death of god" lead to a collapse of morality and purpose in the late 1800s shouldn't things be getting worse, rather than better? (Even though the world we live in today is admittedly still far FAR from perfect.)

Is this not assuming that such progress would not have happened without the death of god, that there is a causal relationship between the two? I have a great deal of respect for Nietzsche, and for the fact that he rightfully called out a lot of shit in Christendom. But I don't think it was necessary to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I realize this is an unknowable hypothetical and willing to venture a guess that you have a different view on it. But in any case, we are where we are. I'm thankful that society is more equal than in the past. And am grateful for the advancements of science and technology (certainly would not alive today otherwise...long story...childhood disease) that have made us all much better off. I have no romantic view of the past, no desire to go back. Yet while we've developed many life giving ideas and technologies, the modern era has also shown we're equally capable of utilizing our progress to come up with ways to more efficiently kill and destroy. So while we are all much more comfortable and well feed than in the past, this has come at a terrible cost to the environment (even worse than 100-150 years ago) and even our health. So I think it's right to call out our own shit, which I think is in the spirit of MMM.

No, I would argue my null hypothesis is that these changes would have happened over the next two hundred years with or without

If the social changes in worldview Nietzsche saw during his lifetime caused a rejection of morality and many of the problems you listed, we would predict that our world and the way we treat each other would be a lot worse today than prior to those changes. I think we can safely reject that model.

However, that doesn't mean those same changes in would view caused the positive outcomes either. We're left with two options, those changes in worldview were completely unrelated to the improvements in how we treat each other and our environment, or they caused the changes in how we treat each other and our environment. In the absence of any data, my default assumption would be that the two are simply unrelated rather than to assume a positive causal relationship.

The things you mention which are worse in the world we live in today than 200 years ago (greater aggregate environmental impact of humanity, and technological progress that has, alongside many positive things produced more efficient ways for us to kill each other) are both the result of improvements in our understanding of the material world (whether it is the only world, one of two worlds alongside a spiritual world, or a fictional illusion created by a single spiritual world) and resulting advances in technology. The improvements in both medical and agricultural sciences (responsible for the boom in population) and the "hard" sciences (responsible for more powerful weapons of war) are both the result of a trend of increasing knowledge and technology that far predates Nietzsche and arguably can be traced back to the start of the Renaissance in the 1300s. So it would be hard to imagine that if the shift from a more spiritual to a less spiritual worldview in the 1800s would have significantly bent the arc of these two historical trends, just as it is hard to argue that the same shift was responsible for them.

So yes, we absolutely can, and should, do better than we are doing as a society and a civilization today. But I don't attribute the problems we face today to the changes in worldview Nietzsche wrote about (just as I don't give those same changes credit for the challenges present in the 1800s that we've confronted and tamed in the 1900s and 2000s).

dustinst22

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #62 on: October 15, 2018, 10:43:43 AM »
The world population during Nietzsche's time was only ~1.5 billion.  Today it's almost 5 times that.  I'd submit this factor has a far greater negative impact on the environment than any other single factor. In fact, I think I'd go so far to say it's the main cause of all the environmental problems we currently face.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2018, 10:45:43 AM by dustinst22 »

GuitarStv

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #63 on: October 15, 2018, 10:57:17 AM »
The world population during Nietzsche's time was only ~1.5 billion.  Today it's almost 5 times that.  I'd submit this factor has a far greater negative impact on the environment than any other single factor. In fact, I think I'd go so far to say it's the main cause of all the environmental problems we currently face.

There are few palatable remedies for this problem.

EvenSteven

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #64 on: October 15, 2018, 11:03:41 AM »
Quote
There are few palatable remedies for this problem.

But they do exist. The education and empowerment of women, giving them control of their own reproduction isn't just palatable, it's downright delicious.

FINate

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #65 on: October 15, 2018, 11:04:54 AM »
The world population during Nietzsche's time was only ~1.5 billion.  Today it's almost 5 times that.  I'd submit this factor has a far greater negative impact on the environment than any other single factor. In fact, I think I'd go so far to say it's the main cause of all the environmental problems we currently face.

No doubt this is a major contributor. However, consumption habits in our abundance of wealth multiply the effects of population. Highly recommend Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century. It's an unvarnished view of consumption in the US. The authors (UCLA researchers) point out that "It is no exaggeration to say that this is the most materially rich society in global history, with light-years more possessions per average family than any preceding society." The book is both fascinating and grotesque.

GuitarStv

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #66 on: October 15, 2018, 11:08:26 AM »
Quote
There are few palatable remedies for this problem.

But they do exist. The education and empowerment of women, giving them control of their own reproduction isn't just palatable, it's downright delicious.

Right.  And I'm all for that . . . but it's not going to be even remotely quick enough to solve the problem.  You're talking about a change that will take hundreds of years to really sink in, and even then will only slowly begin to lower population.  And that's assuming you can get people to agree to it in the first place . . . I mean, look at how many US states fail to teach proper birth control usage in school.  :P

Kris

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #67 on: October 15, 2018, 11:22:16 AM »
Quote
There are few palatable remedies for this problem.

But they do exist. The education and empowerment of women, giving them control of their own reproduction isn't just palatable, it's downright delicious.

Right.  And I'm all for that . . . but it's not going to be even remotely quick enough to solve the problem.  You're talking about a change that will take hundreds of years to really sink in, and even then will only slowly begin to lower population.  And that's assuming you can get people to agree to it in the first place . . . I mean, look at how many US states fail to teach proper birth control usage in school.  :P

Indeed. And how we just gave someone a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court who thinks that birth control pills are abortifacients. We're not going forward on this in the US, we're going backwards.

dustinst22

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #68 on: October 15, 2018, 11:25:10 AM »
Quote
There are few palatable remedies for this problem.

But they do exist. The education and empowerment of women, giving them control of their own reproduction isn't just palatable, it's downright delicious.

Exactly.  We're seeing the population actually decline in the US and Europe.  We should be taking the population problem a lot more seriously imo.  Interestingly abortion is at an all time low in the US (great to see), but our birth rate is also at an all time low.  Birth control access has clearly had a massive impact.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2018, 11:31:16 AM by dustinst22 »

maizeman

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #69 on: October 15, 2018, 11:40:10 AM »
Quote
There are few palatable remedies for this problem.

But they do exist. The education and empowerment of women, giving them control of their own reproduction isn't just palatable, it's downright delicious.

Right.  And I'm all for that . . . but it's not going to be even remotely quick enough to solve the problem.  You're talking about a change that will take hundreds of years to really sink in, and even then will only slowly begin to lower population.  And that's assuming you can get people to agree to it in the first place . . . I mean, look at how many US states fail to teach proper birth control usage in school.  :P

Yet the US fertility rate is 1.85 children per woman and falling even with the handicap of terrible sex ed in public schools.

If you look at countries like India, the fertility rate has fallen by more than 1/2 (from ~6 children per woman to 2.5) in about 50 years. So I don't think it is correct to say that it would take hundreds of years to sink in or that it would be difficult to get people to agree.

Now even if you cut total fertility globally to about 1.5 children per woman today, it would indeed take a fair while for our population to actually stop growing, and a much longer time to decline significantly, so I do agree with you that this lag time means changing the global population is not a viable short term solution to the challenges we face as a civilization.

scottish

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #70 on: October 16, 2018, 03:24:02 PM »
But population reduction is the only viable solution, isn't it?    And we sure don't want to take a four horseman approach to it.

It's hard to see how new energy technologies can come online quickly enough to impact climate change.

Elon isn't going to be able to move a significant fraction of the global population to Mars.

The Chinese aren't going to stop trying to improve their standard of living.




maizeman

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #71 on: October 16, 2018, 03:56:23 PM »
But population reduction is the only viable solution, isn't it?    And we sure don't want to take a four horseman approach to it.

It's hard to see how new energy technologies can come online quickly enough to impact climate change.

Elon isn't going to be able to move a significant fraction of the global population to Mars.

The Chinese aren't going to stop trying to improve their standard of living.

New energy technologies are already coming online fast enough to change the trajectory of climate change, just not enough to mitigate it entirely. For example, carbon emissions from electricity generation in the United States peaked in about 2007 and have been declining (frustratingly slowly) ever since.

With regard to population, even if every country cut their birth rate to 2.1 children per woman (replacement rate once you factor in premature deaths), we'd still be committed to the population growing to about 9 billion as the existing demographic bulge of young people work they way through the system, have children, and live to a healthy old age.* Even if we cut the birth rate well below replacement, we'd likely continue to see growth in the world's population for at least the next several decades because of that same demographic momentum.

So in the medium term the solution basically has to be technological. Either that or the wheels come off of our global civilization. Which, admittedly, feels the the significantly more likely outcome a lot of days.

*Source for the "population momentum" calculation: https://population.un.org/wpp/Publications/Files/PopFacts_2017-4_Population-Momentum.pdf

scottish

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #72 on: October 16, 2018, 04:51:48 PM »
Are you sure?   Your president is busy promoting coal as an energy source.   And there are large corporate interests in the US economy in particular that are resisting any transition away from fossil fuels.

I don't think India, Africa and much of Asia are going to be abandoning fossil fuels in the short term.    China is harder to predict.

You're right about the long lag time in the system to reduce population through reduced birthrates.    We're still on the upward part of the growth curve.   It's just that this solution is more likely than being saved by technology...



maizeman

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #73 on: October 16, 2018, 05:06:20 PM »
Hmm, you may be right about this year. Based on the first six months of 2018, we're on track for 5,210 million metric tons in 2018, up from 5,147 in 2017. So down about 14% from 2007 while our populations has grown 8% in the same time frame (so we're down 20% in per capita terms over the past decade).

That's a non-trivial decrease thanks to technology.

Source: https://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/sec12_3.pdf

You're right about the long lag time in the system to reduce population through reduced birthrates.    We're still on the upward part of the growth curve.   It's just that this solution is more likely than being saved by technology...

But what I'm saying is that there is no way to reduce the population fast enough to solve the problems we're facing (short of mass murder/starvation). So if you're saying saving ourself through improved technology is even less likely that's essentially the same as saying we're doomed, isn't it?

Edit: which may well be the case so I'm not trying to imply that's not a valid answer.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2018, 05:30:43 PM by maizeman »

dustinst22

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #74 on: October 16, 2018, 05:51:31 PM »
Presumably most of the future environmental problems being forecast by scientists are already taking into account population growth trends.  If we can drastically reduce the current population growth projection (which seems possible, given how much the US and Europe have reduced their birthrates by), perhaps this would also drastically reduce the forecast modeling (which might be including extreme population growth).  I think this is a place we should really be focusing on, as it can absolutely move the needle within several decades.  The problems we face in several decades are going to be far worse, hence we should be looking at what can give the biggest impact, population control should be #1.  We aren't going to solve our problems in a short period of time, we need to be thinking long term.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2018, 06:00:18 PM by dustinst22 »

Kyle Schuant

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #75 on: October 16, 2018, 06:14:03 PM »
you're saying saving ourself through improved technology is even less likely that's essentially the same as saying we're doomed, isn't it?
Improved technology makes the problem worse. Jeavon's Paradox: a 19th century guy noticed that as steam engines became more efficient, more coal was being burned, not less. That's because smaller and more efficient engines lead to more people using them for more different things. It's the same as when the roads are congested, so we build more roads - and there's more congestion. Because that person who used to take the train to avoid the traffic sees a big shiny new empty freeway and gets in their car and goes.

If anyone invented "clean coal" with say half the emissions, we'd just burn twice as much and it'd come out even. At best. We'd probably burn more. I mean, our cars have much lower emissions than in 1958 but...

I vividly recall going past a cafe in St Kilda once, and a couple rolled up in their SUV, parked, got out, sat down and started sniffing disdainfully and complaining about a nearby smoker. This as I have said in contrast to 20-30 years ago when real men smoked, etc. But we had all sorts of advertising and taxes and changes about when and where you could smoke, so now we get people sniffing disdainfully at smokers, and the rate's dropped right down. Carbon emissions will drop when people sniff just as disdainfully at SUVs.

It's about culture. Our culture celebrates waste. The instagram chick laying back on a yacht. One person who is not working and yet has drawn on the labour of hundreds of people, with resources and pollution in proportion. We don't scorn that as we do smokers. This will change.

maizeman

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #76 on: October 16, 2018, 06:41:50 PM »
you're saying saving ourself through improved technology is even less likely that's essentially the same as saying we're doomed, isn't it?
Improved technology makes the problem worse. Jeavon's Paradox: a 19th century guy noticed that as steam engines became more efficient, more coal was being burned, not less. That's because smaller and more efficient engines lead to more people using them for more different things. It's the same as when the roads are congested, so we build more roads - and there's more congestion. Because that person who used to take the train to avoid the traffic sees a big shiny new empty freeway and gets in their car and goes.

In that case how do you explain 14% less carbon dioxide emitted with 8% more people in the USA?

Quote
If anyone invented "clean coal" with say half the emissions, we'd just burn twice as much and it'd come out even. At best. We'd probably burn more. I mean, our cars have much lower emissions than in 1958 but...

About that. In 2007 we burned 473 gallons of gasoline per person, and the average fuel economy of model 2007 cars and trucks sold in the country was 20.6 miles per gallon.* By 2017, the average fuel economy of new model year cars and trucks had climbed to 25.2 miles per gallon. So what happened to per person fuel consumption? If you're right, we should just drive more to cancel out all the gains in efficiency.

Yet what actually happened was that per capital gasoline consumption declined to 438 gallons per person (a reduction of about 7%. This despite the fact that gasoline averaged $2.80 a gallon in 2007 ($3.50/gallon in today's dollars), and $2.42/gallon in 2017.

Seems like, in the particular case you selected of car fuel efficiency, the effects of more efficient technology don't get entirely cancelled out by increased demand.

*Source: https://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPDF.cgi?Dockey=P100TGDW.pdf

scottish

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #77 on: October 16, 2018, 06:50:05 PM »
I didn't mean to be all doom and gloom about it.  The climate predictions are just extrapolations at this point.    There may be non-modeled effects that either reduce or accelerate the rate of climate change.

It's just that there are lots of people who want to achieve the same standard of living as we have in North America.   It's hard to imagine that the amount of pollution they produce will decrease as they acquire motor vehicles, dryers and air conditioners.     And it's much easier to build a coal-fired electrical plant than a nuclear powered one.

It's just me, but it seems obvious that the only way to reduce the aggregate pollution is to reduce the population.   Declining birth rates are a big hope for this.

I like Kyle's point - when it becomes socially unacceptable to be a heavy energy consumer, then people will start using less energy.   

Full size pickups are still the most popular personal use vehicle in Canada, fer Pete's sake.    I don't hear any of our political or industrial leaders telling us to stop buying pickup trucks, and buy Honda Civic's and Toyota Yaris's.     Quite the contrary.   The geniuses running most of Canadian provinces are resisting the federal government's attempts to impose a carbon tax.    People don't want to drive little econoboxes, even though they cost 1/2 what a truck does to own and operate and produce 1/2 the pollution.


maizeman

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #78 on: October 16, 2018, 07:09:22 PM »
It's just that there are lots of people who want to achieve the same standard of living as we have in North America.   It's hard to imagine that the amount of pollution they produce will decrease as they acquire motor vehicles, dryers and air conditioners.     And it's much easier to build a coal-fired electrical plant than a nuclear powered one.

It's just me, but it seems obvious that the only way to reduce the aggregate pollution is to reduce the population.   Declining birth rates are a big hope for this.

[/quote]

I don't disagree that increases in standard of living for the big majority of the world that doesn't life in already developed nations isn't going to put a big strain on the system. It's just that the huge numbers of people in Cambodia and Bangladesh and Nigeria and all those other countries who are going to want motor vehicles, dryers and air conditioners are already born and alive today.

Bringing birth rates down is certainly important and I'm not trying to discount that, just that it mathematically cannot get us out of the coming crisis over the next several decades.

FWIW, yes, it's more expensive and more complicated to build a new nuclear plant than a new coal one. But in most parts of the world it is already cheaper to build new wind power than new coal fired power plants (even taking into account the lower capacity factor of wind). The main reason coal is still a significant contributor to total power generation in the USA is that it's cheaper to buy coal for an existing plant than to build a new generator of some other type from scratch. But most of our current coal-fired fleet was constructed in the 1970s and 1980s, the plants are wearing out, and its just not going to be economical to replace them as they're retired.


Kyle Schuant

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #79 on: October 16, 2018, 10:04:27 PM »

In that case how do you explain 14% less carbon dioxide emitted with 8% more people in the USA?
Two things:

1. Economic decline. You produce less stuff, less people are employed full-time so they don't drive around as much, etc. I'm sure there was an emissions decline during the Great Depression.
2. Outsourcing emissions. The stuff you need is made elsewhere.

You can deny your decline because of massive debt; chuck enough "money" around and things look good for a bit. But it's not sustainable long-term.

Quote
In 2007 we burned 473 gallons of gasoline per person, and the average fuel economy of model 2007 cars and trucks sold in the country was 20.6 miles per gallon.* By 2017, the average fuel economy of new model year cars and trucks had climbed to 25.2 miles per gallon. So what happened to per person fuel consumption? If you're right, we should just drive more to cancel out all the gains in efficiency.

Yet what actually happened was that per capital gasoline consumption declined to 438 gallons per person (a reduction of about 7%.
So - pretending, as Americans are currently fond of doing, that there's no economic decline - what you're saying is that fuel efficiency improved by 22% but consumption only declined 7%? Thus, improving fuel efficiency by 22% led to people driving 15% more.

By this measure, in order to get vehicle emissions down 50% you only need to improve fuel efficiency by 150%. Of course, in order to avoid the worst effects of global warming we need to reduce emissions by 90%. For cars this would mean - by your reasoning - improving fuel efficiency by 270%. That'd be 78mpg.

And before you say "electric", bear in mind that Musk's planned production of 500,000 cars annually would use the entire world's current production of lithium. And the US produces 12 million vehicles annually. For them all to be electric would require twenty-four times the world's current production of lithium.

Do you think 78mpg and/or 24 times the world's current production of lithium are serious prospects in the near future? If so, there are some vehicle engineers and mining companies who would like you to share your insights with them.

What it comes down to is that if you want to use 1,000kg of steel and plastic to move 70kg of person, there is only so efficient you can make it. Much better to use 1kg of leather and rubber (shoes) or 20kg of metal and rubber (bike) to move 70kg of person. It has always worked more efficiently, and always will.

But being able to use 300 million years' accumulated sunshine in the form of fossil fuels in just 200 years has allowed us to get away with being stupidly inefficient. We are like a trust fund baby: our enormous inheritance has made us stupid, wasteful and self-absorbed.

maizeman

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #80 on: October 17, 2018, 06:03:56 AM »
Kyle, you're moving your own bar.

First you said.

Improved technology makes the problem worse. Jeavon's Paradox: a 19th century guy noticed that as steam engines became more efficient, more coal was being burned, not less. That's because smaller and more efficient engines lead to more people using them for more different things.

Now you're backpedalling to agreeing that improved technology makes the problem better, just not fast enough.

Those are two extremely different positions.

In the first case, improved technology has no role in addressing the challenges we face and is, in fact, actively counter productive and we need to stop developing technology as soon as possible. In the second, the current rate of technological improvement is not enough to completely address the problem, meaning we need to accelerate technological change and/or it is part of the solution but not a complete solution.

For the record, would you agree that your statement that improved technology actually makes things worse is, in fact, false (in this particular case*)?

*I actually have a great example of Jeavon's paradox in a completely different domain that it'd be fun to discuss, but let's clear up your insistence that it is universally true of all technological improvements in efficiency first.

maizeman

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #81 on: October 17, 2018, 06:05:56 AM »

In that case how do you explain 14% less carbon dioxide emitted with 8% more people in the USA?
Two things:

1. Economic decline. You produce less stuff, less people are employed full-time so they don't drive around as much, etc. I'm sure there was an emissions decline during the Great Depression.
2. Outsourcing emissions. The stuff you need is made elsewhere.

Your first concern is that fewer people are employed full time and so they don't drive as much. In 2007, 121 million people had full time work in the United States (40% of the total population). In 2017, 125 126 million people had full time work (38.5 38.8% of the population). So you're right that this could explain a small proportion of the 20% per person decline in emissions over the last decade, but it cannot contribute at all to the 14% decrease in total emissions of the same timeframe.

Your second concern is about outsourcing emissions. Let's look at actual imports. In 2007, the united states imports totaled $1.956 trillion. In today's dollars that 2.439 trillion or almost exactly 8,000 per person. In 2017, the united states imported a total of $2.341 trillion. In today's dollars that's $2.535 trillion or $7,780 per person. So a 4% increase in total imports and a 2.75% decrease in imports per person. Now this doesn't completely rule out your idea that the United States has achieve emissions reduction through outsourcing manufacturing if we were dramatically increasing domestic production of less carbon intensive goods, while at the same time decreasing production of more carbon intensive goods and replacing them with imports. But I haven't seen any evidence that such a complex model is that case.

In addition, a big part of decline in CO2 production comes from electricity production, which is one of the things it is much harder to ship and therefore harder to shift which country the environmental consequences are in compared to, say, rare earth metal production.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2018, 06:08:42 AM by maizeman »

WhiteTrashCash

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #82 on: October 17, 2018, 03:10:15 PM »
The world population during Nietzsche's time was only ~1.5 billion.  Today it's almost 5 times that.  I'd submit this factor has a far greater negative impact on the environment than any other single factor. In fact, I think I'd go so far to say it's the main cause of all the environmental problems we currently face.

The world could easily accommodation a population of 100 billion humans if resources were more evenly distributed. There is so much food in this world that is rots everywhere. It's just not getting to the people who need it and lots of people don't have money to buy it. The "population problem" does not actually exist, no matter how many centuries people have been saying that.

scottish

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #83 on: October 17, 2018, 06:26:04 PM »
I question your numbers...   there are approximately 50 million square miles of land in the world.   With 100 billion people, this would be 2000 people per square mile.   Assuming it was all used for agriculture, what kind of food would we eat on 1/3 acre per person?

GuitarStv

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #84 on: October 18, 2018, 07:23:58 AM »
I question your numbers...   there are approximately 50 million square miles of land in the world.   With 100 billion people, this would be 2000 people per square mile.   Assuming it was all used for agriculture, what kind of food would we eat on 1/3 acre per person?

I don't want to living off what I can grow in a square mile on Antarctica.  Penguin and seawater gets old after a while.

cerat0n1a

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #85 on: October 18, 2018, 08:30:55 AM »
I don't want to living off what I can grow in a square mile on Antarctica.  Penguin and seawater gets old after a while.

With 4C of global warming, you'll be growing grapes and stuff there... No shortage of fresh water either.

dustinst22

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #86 on: October 18, 2018, 10:12:22 AM »

The world could easily accommodation a population of 100 billion humans if resources were more evenly distributed. There is so much food in this world that is rots everywhere. It's just not getting to the people who need it and lots of people don't have money to buy it. The "population problem" does not actually exist, no matter how many centuries people have been saying that.

Couple things:  Citation?  Second, does quality of life mean nothing?

GuitarStv

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #87 on: October 18, 2018, 10:20:34 AM »
I don't want to living off what I can grow in a square mile on Antarctica.  Penguin and seawater gets old after a while.

With 4C of global warming, you'll be growing grapes and stuff there... No shortage of fresh water either.

Average winter temperature at the south pole is -49C (-56.2F) . . . so if I'm doing my math right . . . -49 + 4 = probably a tad cold for even hardy grape varietals.

YYK

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #88 on: October 18, 2018, 11:58:42 AM »
Do you think 78mpg and/or 24 times the world's current production of lithium are serious prospects in the near future? If so, there are some vehicle engineers and mining companies who would like you to share your insights with them.

I think the problem of emissions in cars is technologically solvable. In the year 2000 the Honda Insight, a hybrid with NiMH batteries, got around 70mpg US based on EPA ratings at the time. A hypermiler can get even more. Swap all cars for something like the Insight and we're off to a good start. Of course, this ignores all the trucks being used for transportation of goods. Thus in the specific area of emissions of regular cars being used to only transport people, I think the problem is cultural and not technological.

cerat0n1a

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #89 on: October 18, 2018, 01:09:56 PM »
I don't want to living off what I can grow in a square mile on Antarctica.  Penguin and seawater gets old after a while.

With 4C of global warming, you'll be growing grapes and stuff there... No shortage of fresh water either.

Average winter temperature at the south pole is -49C (-56.2F) . . . so if I'm doing my math right . . . -49 + 4 = probably a tad cold for even hardy grape varietals.

Suspect the ~6 months of darkness might not be that conducive to growing crops either :-)

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #90 on: October 18, 2018, 01:23:39 PM »
But light all day during the growing season. There's a reason Alaska punches well above its weight when it comes to growing giant pumpkins and cabbage.

(But yes the temperature would likely still be a major barrier.)

GuitarStv

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #91 on: October 18, 2018, 01:28:18 PM »
But light all day during the growing season. There's a reason Alaska punches well above its weight when it comes to growing giant pumpkins and cabbage.

(But yes the temperature would likely still be a major barrier.)

Is that actually a thing?  I'd figure that 24 hour light would eventually be detrimental to the development of a plant . . . like feeding a toddler an infinite supply of cake.  They get happier and happier and happier . . . but only to a point.  Then it's nothing but tears and excessively energetic chocolate covered vomit.

YYK

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #92 on: October 18, 2018, 01:30:16 PM »
"4C" is a global average. Aren't temperature increases supposed to be considerably higher than that at the poles?

maizeman

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #93 on: October 18, 2018, 01:34:49 PM »
If you take varieties that aren't used to super high latitudes sure. The excess energy isn't particularly a problem at all, but most plants use the length of night to decide when it is the right season to flower.

If you have varieties which are adapted to high latitudes and are going to know when the right time to flower is, then the big limitation isn't the day length at all, it's the effective growing season between the last frost of the spring and the first frost of the fall.

That's why one of the side effects of a warming climate is that corn fields are advancing farther north from the traditional corn belt into more of the prairie provinces of canada and wheat fields are moving farther and farther north into canada (since winter wheat isn't nearly as constrained by the length of the growing season as corn, since it over winters and can start growing and photosynthesizing again long before it would be safe to plant corn).

Gary123

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #94 on: November 02, 2018, 12:32:12 AM »
“Religion is nothing more than what someone thinks this life is all about.”

Ok, I’ll bite because you illustrate by your comment the modern tendency to put religion into a little box instead of understanding it’s important role in developing western civilization and all the legal traditions, educational institutions and public administration we all enjoy today.

Imperical science demonstrates every human is unique but our laws attempt to level those differences by treating everyone equally.  This is based on the historically Christian belief that everyone is made in the image of God therefore deserving of human dignity.  Modern secular human rights are equally informed by a uniquely western and Christian view of humanities not scientific or “data driven” as self-proclaimed rationalists or humanisists will claim.

My original comment in this thread was to point out the author appears to be operating from a corrupted definition of capitalism.  Capitalism by definition is indeed the voluntary exchange of labor, services and goods between various people in a free market economy.  He apparently has never lived in a socialist or other collectivist society where so many hands are idle since dodging work becomes a valued art form.  In capitalist societies, people never stop working (exception is inherited wealth) because wealth management is in itself a job.

Socialism has routinely lead to corruption and failure since all the resources are concentrated in the hands of the few bruts or demagogues who didn’t create that wealth.  Any study of lottery winners demonstrates the old adage “a fool and his money will soon part” is absolutely true.  Socialist countries are often lead by similar individuals who eventually fail when they run out of other people’s wealth to squander.

I find it curious a forum about money management is so rich in people who appear unable to grasp the the most fundamental benefits of a free market economy. 

GuitarStv

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #95 on: November 02, 2018, 07:25:09 AM »
This is based on the historically Christian belief that everyone is made in the image of God therefore deserving of human dignity.

I take a little bit of issue with this statement.

If this is a historically Christian belief, then why don't Christians tend to treat gay or trans people with human dignity?  Why were so many Christians slave owners (indeed, many used the Christian bible as evidence that they should be allowed to keep slaves)?  What was the inquisition?

Historically, Christians have rarely showed the belief that everyone is deserving of human dignity, and often used their bible to back up their actions.



Modern secular human rights are equally informed by a uniquely western and Christian view of humanities not scientific or “data driven” as self-proclaimed rationalists or humanisists will claim.

Absolutely, I'll agree with this.  Most successful religions end up developing a high degree of control over the lives of their followers.  It's not surprising that many ideas from the religion would be involved in the development of law.  This is likely the reason that the right to die and polygamy is not legal in most western countries.  The idea of a data driven legal system is intriguing, but I've never heard anyone argue that a western nation has one.



My original comment in this thread was to point out the author appears to be operating from a corrupted definition of capitalism.  Capitalism by definition is indeed the voluntary exchange of labor, services and goods between various people in a free market economy.  He apparently has never lived in a socialist or other collectivist society where so many hands are idle since dodging work becomes a valued art form.  In capitalist societies, people never stop working (exception is inherited wealth) because wealth management is in itself a job.

By your own definition, capitalism requires a free market.  Can you give an example of an existing country that has a free market (with no government control of any kind), and is therefore capitalist?



Socialism has routinely lead to corruption and failure since all the resources are concentrated in the hands of the few bruts or demagogues who didn’t create that wealth.

Your first sentence indicates a total lack of understanding of socialism, as well as ignorance of the many countries that incorporate socialism into their economic and governmental structure.

socialism:  a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

Countries which include elements of socialism include every successful nation on Earth: The United States of America, Canada, The UK, The Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, France, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, etc.



Any study of lottery winners demonstrates the old adage “a fool and his money will soon part” is absolutely true.  Socialist countries are often lead by similar individuals who eventually fail when they run out of other people’s wealth to squander.[

I find it curious a forum about money management is so rich in people who appear unable to grasp the the most fundamental benefits of a free market economy.

Ah, you must be American.  McCarthyism really did a number on your country.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2018, 11:55:39 AM by GuitarStv »

Daley

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #96 on: November 02, 2018, 10:18:25 AM »
This is based on the historically Christian belief that everyone is made in the image of God therefore deserving of human dignity.

I take a little bit of issue with this statement.

If this is a historically Christian belief, then why don't Christians tend to treat gay or trans people with human dignity?  Why were so many Christians slave owners (indeed, many used the Christian bible as evidence that they should be allowed to keep slaves)?  What was the inquisition?

Historically, Christians have rarely showed the belief that everyone is deserving of human dignity, and often used their bible to back up their actions.

I'm not going to defend much of anything Gary123 has stated, but I am going to defend Torah.

Biblical slavery was never designed to operate or behave like worldly chattel slavery by any stretch of the imagination. Yes, there is the passage about alien slaves being held as property forever, and how female slaves aren't given release after six years, but divorcing it from the framework of the entirety of laws surrounding and protecting the sanctity of life with these people is a deep disservice.

Female slaves are to be treated with the same kindness, love and respect as a wife... and denying a female slave of any rights as a wife permits her freedom and restoration of her virtue (Exodus 21:11).

Yes, alien slaves have the capacity to be kept forever (Leviticus 25:46). However, there's also the issue of what happens to the legal status of an alien if he takes circumcision, worships HaShem and observes the Shabbat and Feasts as his master does (Genesis 17:12–13; Exodus 20:10, 22:43-46, 23:12; Deuteronomy 5:14–15, 16:11–14, 12:18), as these make the individual an adopted member of the nation of Israel, thus permitting them the same rights and freedom after six years. [EDIT: I realized something here after even posting, this is a matter of process of adoption, more later, they might not have been given traditional rights just yet. Sorry for screwing this point up.] Keeping a slave forever in the worldly sense also rubs raw against the admonition in Leviticus 19:34 to treat the alien amongst you the same as those born amongst you as you were once slaves in Egypt. The idea is to show the alien the love and compassion of HaShem and His people so much that they want to abandon their gods, worship HaShem, and enjoin with the people.

Any grievous physical harm done to any slave grants them immediate freedom (Exodus 21:26–27), and the punishment of murdering a slave (even by the hand of the master) is to be treated as the same as any other murder amongst the free (Exodus 21:20).

Although the slave is the master's "property" (Leviticus 22:11), they can also inherit the master's estate if there is no direct family to pass to (Genesis 15:3) and potentially even when there is (Proverbs 17:2). Further, slaves are to be treated no differently than a hired laborer (Leviticus 25:40, 53) and cannot be ruled over ruthlessly or treated poorly (Leviticus 25:43, 46, 53; Deuteronomy 23:17), and any fugitive slave must not be returned to his master but given refuge (Deuteronomy 23:16).

Any slave that classifies as a Hebrew (native or adopted) and given freedom in the seventh year (Exodus 21:2; Deuteronomy 15:12) must not be sent away empty handed but that freed man should be set up with some of the very estate the master holds (Deuteronomy 15:13–14).

Now, the price of a "dead" slave is only set at 30 shekels of silver (not a lot, honestly) if gored by an ox (Exodus 21:32), but this must be taken in context of the larger picture of the past two paragraphs as well as Deuteronomy 15:18 (ESV), which states, "It shall not seem hard to you when you let him go free from you, for at half the cost of a hired worker he has served you six years. So the LORD your God will bless you in all that you do." It doesn't matter how much the master paid for the slave, within the context of these passages, the life of the slave should not be defined by any amount of money, but by his value as a human created in the image of HaShem. Let us also not forget that no financial restitution is afforded a family if an ox gores a freed man (Exodus 21:28-31), however if a problematic ox that should have been put down places the owner's life in jeopardy, his life can be redeemed and spared through financial restitution as well... so take that however you will.

If that isn't enough, let's drive home the point on exactly how "slaves" should be treated and viewed biblically. If the slave refuses to go free after his six years of service and considers his master kind and generous and wants to remain with him, he is effectively bonded to the master permanently and adopted into the family (Exodus 21:5–6; Deuteronomy 15:16–17). And let us not forget that female slaves are to be treated and given all the rights and dignities afforded a wife in high esteem. This emphasizes a community building, familial and relationship framework. At worst, no slave should be treated worse than a hired laborer, and at best they are treated like family - and if any slave is treated poorly, they're permitted their freedom and refuge from their master. It is a framework that should be underscored by love and respect. Remember the "slaves can inherit" bit with Proverbs 17:2? There you go. [EDIT: Now also re-think the alien slave and the definition of "forever" used. What is it, but potential adoption and being given a family and inheritance within Israel?]

As for paupers and debtors sold into slavery within the ranks of the Hebrews? If they're sold to an alien, they are to be redeemed immediately (Leviticus 25:47–54), which puts them on equal footing as others under this category. No matter the amount of money they owe (which implies the ability to buy freedom once the debt is paid), as a part of the Hebrew nation, that debt must be forgiven in seven years (Deuteronomy 15:1-2) and their inheritance restored and redeemed to them at the Jubilee Year (Leviticus 25:10, 13, 40-41).

Yes, the word translated from the Hebrew ebed into the English word as slave may be an accurate one from a purely dictionary standpoint... but the treatment and relationship that is outlined and prescribed in the bigger picture looks nothing like the rest of the world's definition and application of slavery over the millennia. If anything, it looks like a system designed to permit everyone the opportunity to work and build up their own estate, to address the needs of the impoverished, and to share the love and generosity that we are to show as sons and daughters of Abraham as we worship HaShem to the world.

Of course, the ancient Hebrews never actually did any of that in practice, and they suffered dearly for it. The same with Christians who even went so far as to use it to justify wicked acts. They, like you Stv, couldn't see the forest for the trees. I believe you've made the argument in the past that the Old Testament God was cruel and vengeful and devoid of any love and compassion, which is what the New Testament and Jesus were supposed to fix with a sort of God 2.0 in Christianity. And I don't fault you, because most Christian Apologetics get it just as wrong. Everyone ignores the love of the OT God, and ignores the vengeance of the NT God... all to their detriment. This is where my understanding is different. I look at Torah, and I see love and compassion (Mark 12:30-31; Luke 10:27), and that love and compassion is the embodiment of the living Word of HaShem, the living Torah that is Yeshua of Nazareth (John 1:1-18). What Torah does is show us all that every one of us is not righteous in our love, and we create a blood debt that mortgages our very lives eternally that cannot be paid by anything other than spilt blood. Thankfully, there is His mercy and forgiveness, and that debt paid for by Yah's Salvation, Yeshua (John 3:11-21; Romans 6:23; 1 Corinthians 6:20, 7:23; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 1:18-19, 2:24; Ephesians 1:7; Revelation 5:9 just to cite a few).

That's all I've got to say on the subject. Believe me or don't, but failure to do so will come with a price that must be paid. Thankfully, that price has been paid if you ask for and believe in that redemption and come to love His ways and desire to dwell with Him.

Be well, Stv.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2018, 10:52:48 AM by Daley »

DS

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #97 on: November 02, 2018, 11:31:08 AM »
Separation of church & stache!!

GuitarStv

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #98 on: November 02, 2018, 11:53:55 AM »
Don't get me wrong Daley, I've got no beef with your bible (or any other religious manuscript).  These sorts of old texts are often open to a wide variety of interpretations, ranging from totally reasonable (which tends to be the default as most people are generally reasonable) to batshit crazy.  I'm a little troubled by your words regarding the bible though.

Despite your comfort with and acceptance of ancient practices of sexual slavery and slave owning, I'm still going to stay on the 'Nuh-uh, slavery is wrong.  FULL STOP.' side, regardless of how lovingly ancient Jews were supposed to treat their slaves but absolutely failed to do so in every way.  Communism is a nice moral idea that doesn't work in practice.  Slavery is a shitty moral idea that doesn't even work in theory.

My argument to Gary was against the easily disproven concept put forth that Christians have historically treated people with dignity.

(If you want to discuss the cruelty/lovingness of the OG God vs God2.0 in the New Testament we can totally do that, but it's getting pretty far off topic.)

Boofinator

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Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
« Reply #99 on: November 02, 2018, 01:21:10 PM »

There are other economic systems.  The mix of capitalism and socialism is just what has been proven to work best in the modern era.  Ancient Rome economically followed a mixture of capitalism and some elements of socialism, but with many elements of the caste system inherent in feudalism.

The US government (for example) controls the means of production in a variety of (probably most) industries.  Try opening a bakery without getting regular health inspections.  Try buying material to operate the nuclear reactor you've built in your back yard.  Try opening a medical practice without a degree or training in medicine.  You can't do any of those things because of (sensible) limits and controls on the means of production instituted by the state.  (There are plenty of less sensible limits on the means of production enforced by the US government . . . prostitution, marijuana prohibition, etc.). Then there are the industries where it's all but impossible for a private business to compete with state owned monopoly, like fire departments.  So there are clearly many industries where the means of production are tightly controlled by the government.  The US is a socialist country by your definition.

At the same time, there's tremendous economic freedom to start a business (within limits, and under regulation).  Most people own their own property, and there are plenty of ways to start your own business and privately own the means of production.  The US is a capitalist country by your definition.

See where I'm coming from?  Most Americans hear socialism and think communism, but that's just McCarthy era red scare propaganda still percolating through the national psyche.  Socialism and capitalism are opposite but complimentary, each can be used to balance out the other.  The extremes of either just don't work.  No country has purely private ownership of all means of production.  No (successful) country has purely collective ownership of the means of production.

Sorry to interject into this conversation, but I believe a society without the controls you cite (emphasis mine) is a form of anarchism, not capitalism. Capitalism allows for inherently governmental functions that benefit the welfare of the citizens (just as socialism does). Where (market) socialism takes it a step further is to give government the responsibility to improve the social standing of individuals through the reallocation of (some percentage of) capital. The U.S. has numerous social programs in place (social security, medicare, public education, etc.), but the ones you cite do not fall into the realm of socialism.