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Other => Off Topic => Topic started by: arebelspy on October 11, 2018, 09:22:50 PM

Title: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: arebelspy on October 11, 2018, 09:22:50 PM
If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism, Then What’s the Point of Capitalism? (https://eand.co/if-the-point-of-capitalism-is-to-escape-capitalism-then-whats-the-point-of-capitalism-bedd1b2447d)

An interesting article on potentially the end of Capitalism (via coming automation funding a UBI), and how basically everyone is trying to "escape" capitalism.

It's quite amusing, because the majority of Mustachians basically are exactly what he describes--capitalists trying to escape capitalism (working/a job). I found it an interesting read.

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.

Enjoy!

Tagging a few people I think might find this interesting and/or have interesting comments: @sol @brooklynguy @maizeman @GuitarStv @nereo @dragoncar @forummm  @grantmeaname  @Paul der Krake  @Daley
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: seattlecyclone on October 11, 2018, 11:28:25 PM
I don't know that I'd say we're trying to "escape capitalism." One side of capitalism is that if you don't have much money you have to work for money to buy the things you need. The other side of capitalism is that once you have a bunch of money invested in different things, you get to collect a few pennies here and there from a bunch of other people working for things that they need, and these pennies pay for the things that you need. Moving from one side of the equation to the other isn't "escaping capitalism," it's merely experiencing a different side of it.

I agree with the author that we're moving toward an era where human labor is less necessary to provide everyone with a certain basic standard of material comfort. We're going to have to re-examine some of our assumptions with regard to work, because the stereotype labelling people without jobs as automatically lazy is becoming less and less true with every passing year. But "escaping capitalism..." I'm still not even sure what that would look like. Maybe someday we'll be at a point where there are a practically infinite number of robots, sufficient to provide every human with practically every material thing they might want or need. We're not there yet. Until we are, I'd much rather harness capitalism to fund my retirement than be stuck on the other side. There's no "escaping" possible at this point.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: arebelspy on October 11, 2018, 11:32:30 PM
Sure. I figured someone would make that distinction, which is why I added the parenthetical "working/a job" comment. It's still capitalism funding it, for us, for now. The author's point remains.

As far as what it might look like, I enjoyed this fictional short story about the growing automation and AI coming and UBI:
http://marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm (http://marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm)
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: seattlecyclone on October 12, 2018, 01:05:39 AM
I'd still draw a pretty big distinction between escaping the need to work a job and escaping capitalism itself. The direct connection between labor and being able to meet your basic needs is hardly unique to capitalism. The phrase "He who does not work, neither shall he eat (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/He_who_does_not_work,_neither_shall_he_eat)" has been uttered throughout the ages by leaders working under various economic systems, from Paul the Apostle to Vladimir Lenin.

It's not capitalism or feudalism or communism imposing this direct connection upon us, it's scarcity itself. These economic systems are just different ways of allocating scarce resources. We're not trying to transcend capitalism, we're trying to transcend scarcity.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Bateaux on October 12, 2018, 02:38:22 AM
The scarcity of material things will come to an end.  Most everything manufactured will eventually become cheap.  Does that mean well own many things or very few.  Scarcity makes us horders of things.  There will still be need for human services well after the days that robots replace human/manual labor.  Capitalism indeed contributes to human suffering and scarcity.   People die because they cannot afford life saving drugs.   The human task should be the development, testing and administration of treatment.   The scarcity is completely artificial and driven by capitalism.   To deny a drug that can save a poor person is akin to denying water to a person dying of thirst when abundance of water is available.   This is the moral equilivent of the political resistance to single payer health care.   We choose not to save and improve quality of life due to a paper dollar.  This is backed by people who claim to be followers of Christ?   No, you are an idolatrous and selfish heretic.  Capitalism is your god.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: cerat0n1a on October 12, 2018, 04:27:47 AM
Have you seen the same author's predictions of an imminent collapse of the US - many recent articles on Medium?

Some people see a fairly utopian future, with UBI and much of our material needs taken care of by robots etc. while others are predicting ecological catastrophe, shortage of water and other resources etc. An interesting time to be alive.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: ender on October 12, 2018, 06:46:03 AM
I find this to be a well orchestrated strawman argument.

Namely, I think the author is generalizing their personal opinion into a general opinion. I disagree with the premise that the overwhelming majority of people are trying to "escape capitalism" or even that they find working so abject miserable as described in the article. Perhaps people who are stuck in minimum wage jobs but a fairly high percentage of people I work with (and have over the years) seem to enjoy their careers and jobs, or at a very least find significant meaning in them.

Frankly I think a lot of people actually find work fairly fulfilling as an end itself. This isn't 100% by any stretch but acting as if "we're all trying to escape it" seems a false presumption.

The examples of Bezos, Musk, and Gates don't really seem to serve the author's point well either. All three of them could very easily have "escaped" years ago if that was their goal. But it's not, which is why they are still working. They are, through their work, making the exact same impact that the author seems to suggest is impossible in a capitalistic society - namely "freedom to live lives which really sear us with meaning, purpose, and fulfillment" as the author says.

The author seems to be missing the point that working (and capitalism, to a lesser degree) is a means to an end. Musk is a great example the author shouldn't have used - capitalism is a wonderful means towards him fulfilling his personal goals. If you removed capitalism as an option, Musk would be far less effective in his efforts. Perhaps the author thinks Musk wouldn't care? Or maybe the assumption the author makes is that a post-capitalistic society can meet everyone's individualized needs simultaneously?

Basically, the author seems to be making way too strong a generalization of people's value systems and desires all fitting into a neat little box. There is zero effort given towards explaining how this works but it's a fundamental generalization that turns the whole article into a strawman.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv on October 12, 2018, 06:54:50 AM
Once it gets beyond meeting basic needs, pursuit of capitalism really means pursuit of destructive hedonism.  Hoarding, consuming, chasing ever more rarefied "experiences", and most importantly gloating about doing all of these things.

I think that the concept of a future world without scarcity is missing the reality that there are, will, and forever shall be limits.  Limits cause scarcity.  At best we can push scarcity back for a short period with technological developments and new methods of exploitation . . . but the real key to living without scarcity lies in mentally adapting to being happy with less.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: ender on October 12, 2018, 07:00:10 AM
Once it gets beyond meeting basic needs, pursuit of capitalism really means pursuit of destructive hedonism.  Hoarding, consuming, chasing ever more rarefied "experiences", and most importantly gloating about doing all of these things.

I think that the concept of a future world without scarcity is missing the reality that there are, will, and forever shall be limits.  Limits cause scarcity.  At best we can push scarcity back for a short period with technological developments and new methods of exploitation . . . but the real key to living without scarcity lies in mentally adapting to being happy with less.

Yeah, this is the other side of why I dislike the article (but several people wrote about already).

The only way scarcity doesn't affect the way people think about how they interact with others is... if there is a meaningful change in how we perceive and interact with others. I find this unlikely to happen anytime soon if ever, which means scarcity will always be at play in any conversation regarding this topic.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: maizeman on October 12, 2018, 07:53:53 AM
I also found it an interesting read, but agree with several previous posters that pursuing freedom from labor/stress isn't the same thing as trying to escape capitalism, simply because the need for the vast majority of people to both work and worry has existed long before capitalism came into existence.

In most systems, there is essentially no way to escape the need for work and worry. If you're a peasant in a feudalistic society, no matter how hard you work, every day you'll be out in the fields, and every winter you'll have to worry about having enough to eat after the local noble takes his share of the harvest. If you're a factory worker in a soviet factory, you're going to continue working your entire life and worry about how you're going to manage with three families crammed into a single apartment. In current capitalistic societies (and yes guitarstv, modern capitalist societies include a fair bit of socialism as well), it is at least, in principle, possible to buy your freedom from both work and worry (at least justified worry).

It may well be that other, future, ways of organizing societies will make it easier for more people to achieve the same freedom, so I'm not trying to hold capitalism up as the one true path to salvation. I am only making the point that work and worry have essentially been an inherent part of the human condition, not something imposed from the outside, and it is only through bot societal and technological innovation that it is now slowly becoming feasible for significant numbers of us to escape from them.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: brooklynguy on October 12, 2018, 08:00:23 AM
This article reminds me of Warren Buffett's many writings on the topic of what he calls the miracle of American capitalism, which look at the same set of facts and reach the opposite conclusion:  that the game of American capitalism is not close to being over but is actually in its early innings.  He argues that market economics, combined with the rule of law and equality of opportunity, is the secret sauce that has unleashed human potential over the last two centuries and will continue to do so indefinitely into the future--and that the same capitalist system that has reallocated capital, brains and labor during technological disruptions in the past will continue to do so during the technological disruptions currently underway and into the future.  I find Buffett's argument more persuasive (and his unbridled optimism about American capitalism more refreshing, but that's neither here nor there).
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Daley on October 12, 2018, 08:01:04 AM
Thanks for looping me in, Rebs.

I have a couple observations about the article right now that I think are worth pointing out. I will refrain for the moment from wasting the bandwidth necessary to do much further than that.

It is worth noting that a distinction is made between the concept of escaping the framework of Capitalism and the labor implied there-in with participation in the system and working. Labor and working as it is framed by Mr. Haque in his article are two discrete things.

Two, he still cannot bring himself to think beyond the system and framework that Capitalism exists within. Capitalism is a natural outgrowth and stage to mankind exerting their control over nature (just like the rise of the next system he speaks toward), and demanding the products of that system to be necessary to fundamental human life. As it has been pointed out already, it ignores the self-limiting nature of resources and scarcity, but it also ignores the issue that the ends to his means in his article are still looking to the same imperfect and wanting system to fill and satisfy the very needs driving the dividing line between his concepts of labor and work - control and domination over the material world to fill a need that the material simply cannot provide as it is just as imperfect and damaged as the people trying to hold and refine mastery over it for [insert whatever justification here].

Money should just be a tool in the natural - a physical object readily exchanged for goods and services, but it is not within the framework of the greater system this thinking is trapped within. With this system, the very finite resources the system produces that this money is supposed to represent is wielded as a weapon of trying to control and subject the material world itself for the sake of everyone trying to shape and mold it into something designed to fill a hole in our lives that simply cannot be filled with anything material that can be created, traded for or bought. In that labor, no matter what system name you give it and no matter what subset label of society is participating in it - it does not fill, but shackles and enslaves. Mr. Haque went so far as to wisely draw the parallel between peak Capitalism and chattel slavery, yet entirely missed the boat in seeing that no matter what form this system of man takes, so long as we derive our value and our sustenance in life from the very system we create to control our environment and try to meet those intangible needs that respects no amount of material goods or wealth, it is still nothing more than slavery with extra steps.

Ooh la la (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kKoqE-sAb8), etc.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: trollwithamustache on October 12, 2018, 08:06:31 AM
Most people want to make more money so they can consume more.   Which is pretty much the point of our post WWII economic system. 

Plus from an internet retirement police perspective, very very few people *actually* retire, no matter how great they may have made their life.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Gary123 on October 12, 2018, 08:31:23 AM
The author doesn’t have a basic understanding of the terms he is using beginning with Capitalism, as evidenced by this statement,

“Let me prove it, with a simple and extreme example, that of a plantation, and slave, owner — the truest capitalist of all, not so long ago.”

Denying someone the fruit of their own labor is hardly capitalism. Capitalism is the free exchange of labor and goods not coerced exchange.  He apparently doesn’t understand that in the last century it was centrally controlled socialist and communist economies or systems that compelled people to labor absent the benefits of their labor.  In a capitalist system, everyone has the right to walk away from a job that doesn’t pay enough and find better employment.  A slave plantation is hardly a capitalist system but instead the truest form of centrally controlled economy the Left so admires since the slaves were given free housing, food and whatever “healthcare” the master provided.

His life experiences appear limited by the overall tone of his commentary.  What amazes me in a capitalist system is how successful entrepreneurs don’t stop working no matter how much money they have.  As Bill Gates used to complain, the most difficult part of building Microsoft was getting his management team to come to work everyday long after their respective net worth’s exceeded $10 million.  Contrary to the author’s view, they did keep working.

Last point, consumerism is a choice and not an obligation in a capitalist system.  Clearly, those lacking a good family or culture are vulnerable to squander what they earn on poor choices.  That is why Libertarians are mistaken.  Capitalism doesn’t produce the citizens it requires to succeed.  As Jordan Peterson asserts, one needs to be industrious, disciplined and most of all conscientious to succeed in our society and economic system.

It’s the conscientious part the author doesn’t seem to understand.  Nobody can be successful in a capitalist system if you don’t understand the needs and wants of other people.

Friedrich Hayek’s Fatal Conceit should be required reading in all high schools so people can’t grow to maturity without even a basic understanding of capitalism.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv on October 12, 2018, 09:12:08 AM
The author doesn’t have a basic understanding of the terms he is using beginning with Capitalism, as evidenced by this statement,

“Let me prove it, with a simple and extreme example, that of a plantation, and slave, owner — the truest capitalist of all, not so long ago.”

Denying someone the fruit of their own labor is hardly capitalism. Capitalism is the free exchange of labor and services not coerced exchange.

Without food I'll die.  I work therefore, because the alternative is death.  That's not a free exchange of labor and services, it's coerced exchange.

We deny people the fruit of their labour all the time.  If I make a piece of software that saves my company a billion dollars a year, I won't make a dime more than if I did the bare minimum at work.  Large businesses couldn't post profits without denying people the fruit of their labour . . . that's what profits of a company are - the fruit of the labour of employees that has been denied to them.
 


He apparently doesn’t understand that in the last century it was centrally controlled socialist and communist economies or systems that compelled people to labor absent the benefits of their labor.  In a capitalist system, everyone has the right to walk away from a job that doesn’t pay enough and find better employment.  A slave plantation is hardly a capitalist system but instead the truest form of centrally controlled economy the Left so admires since the slaves were given free housing, food and whatever “healthcare” the master provided.

Not everyone is free to choose their work.  To provide an example . . . what if I have a mentally disabled son.  He may be able to perform some menial tasks, but doesn't have the mental capacity to understand money, let alone choose an employer.  What sort of freedom does he have in a capitalist society?  He needs to be given free housing, food, and whatever "healthcare" that someone will provide him.  What's the capitalist solution to his scenario?



Last point, consumerism is a choice and not an obligation in a capitalist system.  Clearly, those lacking a good family or culture are vulnerable to squander what they earn on poor choices.  That is why Libertarians are mistaken.  Capitalism doesn’t produce the citizens it requires to succeed.  As Jordan Peterson asserts, one needs to be industrious, disciplined and most of all conscientious to succeed in our society and economic system.

I partly agree with you here.  Consumerism is a choice.  However, the nature of capitalism creates incredible incentive to encourage consumption.  We have people with dedicated jobs to push consumption from unhealthy foods and drinks explicitly designed to trigger addictive behaviour, to the promotion and sale of outright physically addictive products (cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine), to the overt and subtle emotional manipulation of billboards, television spots, internet ads, etc.

Consumerism is a choice, but fighting against it is always going to be a constant effort in a capitalist society.



It’s the conscientious part the author doesn’t seem to understand.  Nobody can be successful in a capitalist system if you don’t understand the needs and wants of other people.

You can create wants and needs though (at least for short periods of time) through manipulation of messages that people recieve.  A beanie baby is objectively useless and foolish.  Yet a gigantic number of them were pushed, sold as a need, and now lie in landfills.  This pattern repeats itself on a disturbingly regular basis in our society.



Don't get me wrong, I understand the (many) benefits of capitalism.  It's just disturbing when I run across someone ignorant (or choosing to ignore) the negatives.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Sorinth on October 12, 2018, 12:48:30 PM
The article's premise is that work = capitalism, and that seems like a very weird thing to say/imply.

His underlying points that the goal of many people is to work less is probably true, though probably not as universal as he assumes. As an example his argument that Musk wants to escape to Mars is way off base. Musk doesn't want to escape anything, he wants to save the human race. The reason he wants humans on Mars is to safeguard humanity against an extinction level event on Earth. Once Mars, and other places in the solar system are colonized, he'd go straight to work on finding a way to colonize other star systems to safeguard against a system wide extinction event.

Musk could've retired and lived on his PayPal money, but instead he preferred to work (And chooses to work crazy hours), and you can argue the same for MMM himself. He retired from his job, but instead of living the work free life, he went to work on a bunch of different things. These people aren't trying to escape capitalism/work.

I'd argue we also aren't at a point where we could overnight switch to UBI and not have anyone need to work. We could redistribute wealth better so that people aren't forced to work to survive.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Sorinth on October 12, 2018, 01:12:46 PM
We deny people the fruit of their labour all the time.  If I make a piece of software that saves my company a billion dollars a year, I won't make a dime more than if I did the bare minimum at work.  Large businesses couldn't post profits without denying people the fruit of their labour . . . that's what profits of a company are - the fruit of the labour of employees that has been denied to them.

Nobody is being denied the fruits of their labour in that example, the employee agreed to trade the potential fruits of his/her labour for a guaranteed income. You get paid regardless of whether you make the company lots of money or not. You could have started your own company and made a billion dollars with that piece of software, but you traded that potential billion dollars for a steady paycheck. And you probably made that trade because you didn't think that piece of software was a billion dollars in the making, or you thought if you started your own company it would fail. It was still a free and fair exchange.

Now it becomes a coerced if as you said, without taking the job you'd starve. However depending on where you live, there's a safety net in place that would prevent you from starving. So in these cases it wasn't coerced (Admittedly it's a scale not a yes/no).

And that's the author's biggest misunderstanding, if UBI starts tomorrow it wouldn't end capitalism, it would unleash it. People would be less scared of starting their own company and failing if they knew they could still put food on their table and have a roof over their head. So you would have an explosion of the number of small business that would startup.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: BDWW on October 12, 2018, 01:27:02 PM
Without food I'll die.  I work therefore, because the alternative is death.  That's not a free exchange of labor and services, it's coerced exchange.

Remove capitalism, what changes?
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv on October 12, 2018, 02:44:51 PM
We deny people the fruit of their labour all the time.  If I make a piece of software that saves my company a billion dollars a year, I won't make a dime more than if I did the bare minimum at work.  Large businesses couldn't post profits without denying people the fruit of their labour . . . that's what profits of a company are - the fruit of the labour of employees that has been denied to them.

Nobody is being denied the fruits of their labour in that example, the employee agreed to trade the potential fruits of his/her labour for a guaranteed income. You get paid regardless of whether you make the company lots of money or not. You could have started your own company and made a billion dollars with that piece of software, but you traded that potential billion dollars for a steady paycheck. And you probably made that trade because you didn't think that piece of software was a billion dollars in the making, or you thought if you started your own company it would fail. It was still a free and fair exchange.

Now it becomes a coerced if as you said, without taking the job you'd starve. However depending on where you live, there's a safety net in place that would prevent you from starving. So in these cases it wasn't coerced (Admittedly it's a scale not a yes/no).

And that's the author's biggest misunderstanding, if UBI starts tomorrow it wouldn't end capitalism, it would unleash it. People would be less scared of starting their own company and failing if they knew they could still put food on their table and have a roof over their head. So you would have an explosion of the number of small business that would startup.

The safety net you mention is the antithesis of capitalism.  It's giving goods and services without an exchange of work.  It's purely socialist.
 I agree with you that socialism and capitalism tend to work better together than apart though.




Without food I'll die.  I work therefore, because the alternative is death.  That's not a free exchange of labor and services, it's coerced exchange.

Remove capitalism, what changes?

Well, in the example I gave in my previous post about the disabled kid . . . society takes care of him.  He's not left to die because of his inability to work.  So, sometimes removing capitalism means that those who would otherwise die, don't.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: BDWW on October 12, 2018, 03:02:42 PM
Without food I'll die.  I work therefore, because the alternative is death.  That's not a free exchange of labor and services, it's coerced exchange.

Remove capitalism, what changes?

Well, in the example I gave in my previous post about the disabled kid . . . society takes care of him.  He's not left to die because of his inability to work.  So, sometimes removing capitalism means that those who would otherwise die, don't.

Yet someone still has to work. And if you don't have capitalism you have to use another economic system. All of which to date have failed rather spectacularly.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv on October 12, 2018, 03:11:44 PM
Without food I'll die.  I work therefore, because the alternative is death.  That's not a free exchange of labor and services, it's coerced exchange.

Remove capitalism, what changes?

Well, in the example I gave in my previous post about the disabled kid . . . society takes care of him.  He's not left to die because of his inability to work.  So, sometimes removing capitalism means that those who would otherwise die, don't.

Yet someone still has to work. And if you don't have capitalism you have to use another economic system. All of which to date have failed rather spectacularly.

Sure, someone somewhere always has to work.  Most won't choose work without some sort of coercion.  Pretending that coercion doesn't exist doesn't make it go away.

Most economic systems in the world are a mixture of capitalism and socialism.  Actually, I can't think of a single functioning purely capitalist system that has ever worked in history.  Can you?

Given the number of times that this has come up, I am beginning to feel like the US educational system (which ironically is largely public owned/funded and therefore socialist) does a very poor job of explaining exactly what capitalism is.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Daley on October 12, 2018, 03:20:00 PM
And if you don't have capitalism you have to use another economic system. All of which to date have failed rather spectacularly.

Including capitalism.

Everything is a failed system, and the brightest minds will continue to fail so long as the system remains imperfect (and boy howdy, reality 'aint perfect) and preservation and elevation of the self reigns supreme. That cannot be escaped, from a philosophical perspective, until one comes to the realization that none of us sustains our own life.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: BDWW on October 12, 2018, 03:33:19 PM
Just curious if you went through the public education system? Because you're introducing a premise that was never contended. In these hybrid systems, how does the exchange of goods/services happen? I'm under the impression that our public teachers get paid, same for doctors under Medicare/NHS, etc et al.

In every modern economy I'm aware of, social safety nets exist as a layer on top of a capitalist market economy.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: BDWW on October 12, 2018, 03:36:12 PM
And if you don't have capitalism you have to use another economic system. All of which to date have failed rather spectacularly.

Including capitalism.

Everything is a failed system, and the brightest minds will continue to fail so long as the system remains imperfect (and boy howdy, reality 'aint perfect) and preservation and elevation of the self reigns supreme. That cannot be escaped, from a philosophical perspective, until one comes to the realization that none of us sustains our own life.

Depends on you're definition of failure I guess. Personally I appreciate the system that has been empirically the greatest success at alleviating poverty and human suffering.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Daley on October 12, 2018, 04:00:37 PM
And if you don't have capitalism you have to use another economic system. All of which to date have failed rather spectacularly.

Including capitalism.

Everything is a failed system, and the brightest minds will continue to fail so long as the system remains imperfect (and boy howdy, reality 'aint perfect) and preservation and elevation of the self reigns supreme. That cannot be escaped, from a philosophical perspective, until one comes to the realization that none of us sustains our own life.

Depends on you're definition of failure I guess. Personally I appreciate the system that has been empirically the greatest success at alleviating poverty and human suffering.

Listen, friend... no human made system has ever successfully (under any definition or quantifiable metric) alleviated poverty and human suffering. NONE. No human system ever has in this world, nor will it ever - including your precious American Capitalism, and the history books are stacked with just as much dead and suffering humans for the benefit of the few as any other system out there that preceded it, and any that may come after made by the minds of men. Saying otherwise is a convenient lie people tell themselves so they can sleep at night.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: HBFIRE on October 12, 2018, 09:02:54 PM


Listen, friend... no human made system has ever successfully (under any definition or quantifiable metric) alleviated poverty and human suffering. NONE.

Sure, not 100% alleviation.  But capitalism has caused a massive global decline in poverty.


1) Extreme poverty has declined by 80 percent from 1970 to present.

2) In 1820, 84% of the population was in poverty.... In 2011, it was only 17 percent. But that's not the crazy thing.  The global poverty rate was 53 percent very recently, in 1981.  It's declined from 53% to 17% in 25 yrs. Global capitalism is causing poverty to decrease rapidly.

(http://i67.tinypic.com/29xaccx.jpg)

3) According to Steven Horwitz, the world is 120 times better off today than in 1800 as a result of capitalism.  He calculates this by "the gains in consumption to the average human by the gain in life expectancy worldwide by 7".

4) Mortality rates are way down.  For children under the age of five, mortality declined by 49 percent from 1990 to 2013.  Wealth and global capitalism is the main contributor of this.


"It was globalization, free trade, the boom in international entrepreneurship," American Enterprise Institute (AEI) president Arthur Brooks saidin a 2012 speech . "In short, it was the free enterprise system, American style, which is our gift to the world."   https://www.aei.org/publication/chart-of-the-greatest-and-most-remarkable-achievement-in-human-history-thanks-to-free-market-capitalism/
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: PKFFW on October 12, 2018, 10:40:53 PM
The author doesn’t have a basic understanding of the terms he is using beginning with Capitalism, as evidenced by this statement,

“Let me prove it, with a simple and extreme example, that of a plantation, and slave, owner — the truest capitalist of all, not so long ago.”

Denying someone the fruit of their own labor is hardly capitalism. Capitalism is the free exchange of labor and goods not coerced exchange.  He apparently doesn’t understand that in the last century it was centrally controlled socialist and communist economies or systems that compelled people to labor absent the benefits of their labor.  In a capitalist system, everyone has the right to walk away from a job that doesn’t pay enough and find better employment.  A slave plantation is hardly a capitalist system but instead the truest form of centrally controlled economy the Left so admires since the slaves were given free housing, food and whatever “healthcare” the master provided.
Do you understand that the slave "owner" actually "owned" the slave?  The slave was his/her property.  Under that, very capitalist, system, no one was being denied the fruits of their labour.  The owner of a resource was utilising that resource to conduct their business.

Trying to suggest the practice of slavery is not compatible with capitalism is akin to suggesting Macbeth was not a true Scotsman.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: scottish on October 13, 2018, 11:18:58 AM
I think he's wrong when he says this:

Quote
You can see it in stark, comic terms. What are Bezos and Musk doing? Trying to flee to Mars. What’s Gates doing? Recommending you books to read, and trying to save the world with charity. LOL — how ironic.

Bezos, Musk and Gates aren't trying to flee capitalism.   They're using it to accomplish something they feel is worthwhile.

That's what most of us are doing.     We're not trying to escape capitalism per se - we're just trying to achieve some objective that we feel is worthwhile.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: HBFIRE on October 13, 2018, 12:10:37 PM
I look this a bit differently.  As animals, we're trying to gain enough resources to enable us to survive.  Ideally, we can get enough resources to not have to "hunt" anymore.  The latest tool we use for this hunting is a free market system.  Saying we're trying to escape the free market is like saying our ancestors were trying to escape having to use a spear to hunt.  While there might be some truth to this, I think it's more useful to think of these as tools to achieve an aim.  There's a saying: "it's the chase, not the quarry".  Part of me thinks I wouldn't appreciate my freedom without having first put in the effort to achieve it for myself.  That said, if a better tool comes along, we should use it.  I'm not convinced that financial independence without the chase would be a good thing.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Sorinth on October 13, 2018, 01:16:22 PM
The safety net you mention is the antithesis of capitalism.  It's giving goods and services without an exchange of work.  It's purely socialist.
 I agree with you that socialism and capitalism tend to work better together than apart though.

Socialism isn't the antithesis of capitalism anymore then fascism or feudalism or mercantilism is. They are different systems, nor is capitalism defined as the exchange work for goods and services. In every economic system people exchange work for goods and services.

And unless you believe all taxes are socialism, then it's possible to create a safety net that isn't socialism. Simply have a negative tax bracket. That said, I do think a mix of socialism and capitalism is the best system we've come up with so far.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: HBFIRE on October 13, 2018, 01:33:03 PM


And unless you believe all taxes are socialism, then it's possible to create a safety net that isn't socialism. Simply have a negative tax bracket.

A negative tax bracket would be a socialist function in the same way a progressive tax is -- it's a form of wealth redistribution.  I think it's important to differentiate socialist programs and functions versus an entire socialist economic system.  I don't think the latter has ever really been tested in the real world.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: FINate on October 13, 2018, 01:43:46 PM
The author writes:

Quote
The capitalist, ironically enough, is trying to earn his freedom from capitalism — just like everyone else. The only difference is that he’s a step closer. Let me prove it, with a simple and extreme example, that of a plantation, and slave, owner — the truest capitalist of all, not so long ago. What is he really after? He’s trying to earn is freedom from labour — not having to do work, hence the slaves. He’s also trying to win freedom from exploitation — he holds the whip, but is above the moral law. And from control, punishment, hierarchy — he has no boss to answer to. Perhaps he devotes his life to more “gentlemanly” pursuits — art, literature, discovery, exploration: but what’s the point of these? These, too, are a freedom from capitalism — from its bruising stress, pressure, anxiety, competition — now he is free to really be himself.

Capitalism didn't emerge as a distinct concept until around the 17th-18th century, whereas slavery has existed since the beginning of human history. The author's description here is an accurate depiction of Greco-Roman society 2000 years ago where slaves were a integral component to freeing the elites to focus on philosophy, learning and the arts - and labor of all sorts was looked down upon. So either the author has a very non-standard definition of capitalism or he's woefully ignorant of the history of slavery predating capitalism. With such a flawed premise it's difficult to take the rest of the article seriously.

I'm no cheerleader for capitalism and see it's many flaws, but also skeptical that whatever system comes next will cure our ills. I'm just not convinced that economic systems are either the cause of or solution to society's problems (though think they can help or hinder to a degree). I've been reading Nietzsche lately and he seems to understand that a society that kills its god(s) must replace this with something else to create purpose and meaning. However, our society has struggled to fill this vacuum. Could be wrong (still reading, not a philosophy expert) but seems Nietzsche himself struggled to define an internally consistent replacement that itself isn't dogmatic, e.g. that reason in and of itself is good and meaningful. Society's move into secularism and a strict materialistic philosophy has, instead of elevating reason, resulted in a growing sense of nihilism such that the only purpose is to experience as much happiness and as little suffering as possible. In short, most people are in practice hedonists regardless of stated beliefs. Due to phenomena such as the hedonic treadmill I don't think any amount of material surplus will free humankind from the inward bend of the soul.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: maizeman on October 13, 2018, 02:23:53 PM
Society's move into secularism and a strict materialistic philosophy has, instead of elevating reason, resulted in a growing sense of nihilism such that the only purpose is to experience as much happiness and as little suffering as possible. In short, most people are in practice hedonists regardless of stated beliefs. Due to phenomena such as the hedonic treadmill I don't think any amount of material surplus will free humankind from the inward bend of the soul.

To be pedantic, hedonism (thinking the purpose of life is to maximize joy) and nihilism (thinking life has no purpose) are not mutually compatible beliefs at a logical level. Which is not to say that plenty of folks aren't capable of intensely and unreservedly holding mutually contradictory beliefs simultaneously.

The concept of the hedonic treadmill is perhaps better referred to as the happiness setpoint theory. Using the term treadmill makes it sounds like if you stop walking on a treadmill you slide backwards, while the prediction of the setpoint theory/hedonic threadmill you stop trying to pursue the things which you're taught will make you happier, you won't slide backwards into unhappiness, you'll likely stay about as happy as you were regardless of how hard you try to pursue the things you're taught will make you happier or how many of them you reach.

The other key point is that regardless of what you call it the happiness set point/hedonic treadmill pretty clearly applies primarily to the things our current society teaches us will provide happiness. Removal of active sources of unhappiness (stress about money, negative interpersonal relationships in the home or workplace) can indeed raise individuals consistent levels of happiness, as can as a number of additions to ones habits and lifestyle (rather than simply removal of active sources of unhappiness). The best characterized of these is probably developing habits of altruistic acts or service, which seems to consistently improve long term happiness.

So a hypothetical person who adopted hedonism as a guiding life philosophy isn't doomed to failure by the happiness set point theory/hedonic treadmill, they just have to invest some time and consideration in the means by which they go about pursuing happiness/joy.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: G-dog on October 13, 2018, 03:21:51 PM
I think he's wrong when he says this:

Quote
You can see it in stark, comic terms. What are Bezos and Musk doing? Trying to flee to Mars. What’s Gates doing? Recommending you books to read, and trying to save the world with charity. LOL — how ironic.

Bezos, Musk and Gates aren't trying to flee capitalism.   They're using it to accomplish something they feel is worthwhile.

That's what most of us are doing.     We're not trying to escape capitalism per se - we're just trying to achieve some objective that we feel is worthwhile.

Yeah, I don’t agree with several of the premises he sets out early on. And isn’t making money in the market while sitting on my ass the ultimate in capitalism?  I think his opening detracts from his ultimate proposals on basic income and such.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: FINate on October 13, 2018, 03:45:03 PM
Society's move into secularism and a strict materialistic philosophy has, instead of elevating reason, resulted in a growing sense of nihilism such that the only purpose is to experience as much happiness and as little suffering as possible. In short, most people are in practice hedonists regardless of stated beliefs. Due to phenomena such as the hedonic treadmill I don't think any amount of material surplus will free humankind from the inward bend of the soul.

To be pedantic, hedonism (thinking the purpose of life is to maximize joy) and nihilism (thinking life has no purpose) are not mutually compatible beliefs at a logical level. Which is not to say that plenty of folks aren't capable of intensely and unreservedly holding mutually contradictory beliefs simultaneously.

The concept of the hedonic treadmill is perhaps better referred to as the happiness setpoint theory. Using the term treadmill makes it sounds like if you stop walking on a treadmill you slide backwards, while the prediction of the setpoint theory/hedonic threadmill you stop trying to pursue the things which you're taught will make you happier, you won't slide backwards into unhappiness, you'll likely stay about as happy as you were regardless of how hard you try to pursue the things you're taught will make you happier or how many of them you reach.

The other key point is that regardless of what you call it the happiness set point/hedonic treadmill pretty clearly applies primarily to the things our current society teaches us will provide happiness. Removal of active sources of unhappiness (stress about money, negative interpersonal relationships in the home or workplace) can indeed raise individuals consistent levels of happiness, as can as a number of additions to ones habits and lifestyle (rather than simply removal of active sources of unhappiness). The best characterized of these is probably developing habits of altruistic acts or service, which seems to consistently improve long term happiness.

So a hypothetical person who adopted hedonism as a guiding life philosophy isn't doomed to failure by the happiness set point theory/hedonic treadmill, they just have to invest some time and consideration in the means by which they go about pursuing happiness/joy.

Agree that hedonism and nihilism are not mutually compatible, however that doesn't stop anyone from embracing aspects of both simultaneously. Humans are delightfully inconsistent :)

Also agree that, strictly speaking, a brand of hedonism focused on altruism and contentment could provide an escape from the hedonic treadmill. I just don't think that's likely if the primary focus (per the article) is changing the economic system. Largely my point here is in response to the article, about how "people who, having amassed fortunes, seem under the grip of a kind of compulsion" to keep growing their wealth. Or the fact that we live in a place and time unrivaled in terms of material wealth yet people are still stressed and unhappy. Economic systems focus on how resources are distributed, whereas the real problem is philosophical/spiritual, having do with how people think about purpose and meaning.

[ETA: Would also venture a guess that there are diminishing marginal returns of happiness for acts of altruism. E.g. I doubt Mother Teresa was exceptionally happier than the average person. In the end it ends up being a different type of treadmill, albeit one with much better results than consumptive hedonism.]
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: maizeman on October 13, 2018, 04:04:44 PM
Also agree that, strictly speaking, a brand of hedonism focused on altruism and contentment could provide an escape from the hedonic treadmill. I just don't think that's likely if the primary focus (per the article) is changing the economic system. Largely my point here is in response to the article, about how "people who, having amassed fortunes, seem under the grip of a kind of compulsion" to keep growing their wealth. Or the fact that we live in a place and time unrivaled in terms of material wealth yet people are still stressed and unhappy. Economic systems focus on how resources are distributed, whereas the real problem is philosophical/spiritual, having do with how people think about purpose and meaning.

Yes, no argument here that the author of that article is not in a position to lead people to a world full of happiness and contentment through changes to the economic system.

I think the people the author focuses on are, by definition, exceptional, because the people who make a relatively modest fortune and find a way to translate that into contentment don't make the newspapers.

There certainly are many people who spend their lives pursuing happiness/contentment through either consumerism, or trying to win at a game where money or status is the score card, and my sense is that neither strategy pays off very often. But I don't think that observation, at least by itself, is inherent evidence that the pursuit of happiness/contentment is a philosophically or spiritually flawed goal, just that those particular approaches aren't a viable path to achieve it (at least for most people).
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: HBFIRE on October 13, 2018, 04:13:18 PM
My favorite comment:

"The word capitalism seems to be confused with working. If the Point of “Working” is to Escape “Working”, Then What’s the Point of “Working”? See? Communicates the same point but takes away the needless enigma."
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: FINate on October 13, 2018, 04:19:23 PM
There certainly are many people who spend their lives pursuing happiness/contentment through either consumerism, or trying to win at a game where money or status is the score card, and my sense is that neither strategy pays off very often. But I don't think that observation, at least by itself, is inherent evidence that the pursuit of happiness/contentment is a philosophically or spiritually flawed goal, just that those particular approaches aren't a viable path to achieve it (at least for most people).

Pursuit of contentment and altruism to increase happiness makes sense, but this is radically different from the hedonism rampant in society today with a focus on pleasure seeking, consumerism, comfort, YOLO and bucket lists. Even so, the human capacity for happiness is finite while our appetite for happiness is infinite. If contentment means accepting the limits of happiness then I wholeheartedly agree with this. However, would question if such a diminished view of the attainment of happiness falls within the scope of hedonism.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: maizeman on October 13, 2018, 04:27:18 PM
There certainly are many people who spend their lives pursuing happiness/contentment through either consumerism, or trying to win at a game where money or status is the score card, and my sense is that neither strategy pays off very often. But I don't think that observation, at least by itself, is inherent evidence that the pursuit of happiness/contentment is a philosophically or spiritually flawed goal, just that those particular approaches aren't a viable path to achieve it (at least for most people).

Pursuit of contentment and altruism to increase happiness makes sense, but this is radically different from the hedonism rampant in society today with a focus on pleasure seeking, consumerism, comfort, YOLO and bucket lists. Even so, the human capacity for happiness is finite while our appetite for happiness is infinite. If contentment means accepting the limits of happiness then I wholeheartedly agree with this. However, would question if such a diminished view of the attainment of happiness falls within the scope of hedonism.

I believe we may be talking past each other to some extent.

My central point here is that none of the problems we're discussing with discontent in current society necessarily requires a spiritual or philosophical solution, but can, at least in principle, be addressed by changes in approach rather than changes in goals.

My understanding of your central point prior to your most recent post was that a materialistic worldview (in the sense of a worldview that doesn't provide for dual material and spiritual realms) inherently leads to unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

Is that an incorrect understanding of your view? If it is incorrect, would you be willing to try explaining your central point is in another way? For whatever reason I seem to be having a little trouble following alright right now, which certainly reflects a failing on my part not yours.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Sorinth on October 13, 2018, 07:01:58 PM


And unless you believe all taxes are socialism, then it's possible to create a safety net that isn't socialism. Simply have a negative tax bracket.

A negative tax bracket would be a socialist function in the same way a progressive tax is -- it's a form of wealth redistribution.  I think it's important to differentiate socialist programs and functions versus an entire socialist economic system.  I don't think the latter has ever really been tested in the real world.

There's no way I would consider a progressive tax to be socialist. There's 0 guarantee that the money gets redistributed to the needy, it can just as easily fund a gigantic military, or corporate tax breaks, etc....

A negative tax bracket is certainly more socialist as it does redistribute money, but I still wouldn't classify it as socialist, though it would be in a grey area. In and of itself I'm not sure I would consider wealth redistribution to be socialist in function/nature. But that's more of a distinction between theory and practice, since yes in practice it's been mostly used for socialist goals.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Sorinth on October 13, 2018, 07:07:33 PM
The author writes:

Quote
The capitalist, ironically enough, is trying to earn his freedom from capitalism — just like everyone else. The only difference is that he’s a step closer. Let me prove it, with a simple and extreme example, that of a plantation, and slave, owner — the truest capitalist of all, not so long ago. What is he really after? He’s trying to earn is freedom from labour — not having to do work, hence the slaves. He’s also trying to win freedom from exploitation — he holds the whip, but is above the moral law. And from control, punishment, hierarchy — he has no boss to answer to. Perhaps he devotes his life to more “gentlemanly” pursuits — art, literature, discovery, exploration: but what’s the point of these? These, too, are a freedom from capitalism — from its bruising stress, pressure, anxiety, competition — now he is free to really be himself.

Capitalism didn't emerge as a distinct concept until around the 17th-18th century, whereas slavery has existed since the beginning of human history. The author's description here is an accurate depiction of Greco-Roman society 2000 years ago where slaves were a integral component to freeing the elites to focus on philosophy, learning and the arts - and labor of all sorts was looked down upon. So either the author has a very non-standard definition of capitalism or he's woefully ignorant of the history of slavery predating capitalism. With such a flawed premise it's difficult to take the rest of the article seriously.

An argument can be a made that Greco-Roman societies were practicing free market capitalism. For example Crassus buying up property in the middle of a fire for cents on dollar is pretty much what unregulated capitalism looks like.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: HBFIRE on October 13, 2018, 07:29:33 PM


There's no way I would consider a progressive tax to be socialist. There's 0 guarantee that the money gets redistributed to the needy, it can just as easily fund a gigantic military, or corporate tax breaks, etc....

A negative tax bracket is certainly more socialist as it does redistribute money, but I still wouldn't classify it as socialist, though it would be in a grey area. In and of itself I'm not sure I would consider wealth redistribution to be socialist in function/nature. But that's more of a distinction between theory and practice, since yes in practice it's been mostly used for socialist goals.

Either one puts more money in the pockets of those who earn less, as they don't pay as much in taxes.  In that sense, it is redistribution in comparison to a flat tax.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: FINate on October 13, 2018, 09:06:47 PM
I believe we may be talking past each other to some extent.

My central point here is that none of the problems we're discussing with discontent in current society necessarily requires a spiritual or philosophical solution, but can, at least in principle, be addressed by changes in approach rather than changes in goals.

My understanding of your central point prior to your most recent post was that a materialistic worldview (in the sense of a worldview that doesn't provide for dual material and spiritual realms) inherently leads to unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

Is that an incorrect understanding of your view? If it is incorrect, would you be willing to try explaining your central point is in another way? For whatever reason I seem to be having a little trouble following alright right now, which certainly reflects a failing on my part not yours.

Fair points, thanks for the gracious response. Was thinking about this while taking the kids for a bike ride today and think the term hedonism is too broad and amorphous so let me clarify. I mean specifically the type of hedonism that permeates modern American culture; let's label this American Hedonism. It's an unthinking branch of hedonism, one that leaves unchallenged assumptions that more money, more possessions, more food, more sex, more whatever will bring more happiness. These are all good things, yet they have become dysfunctions for millions of Americans as they seek to fill a vacuum with things that cannot possible fill it. I do think this is an outgrowth of a strictly materialistic worldview. We killed <deity> and attempted to fill the nihilistic void with consumption in various guises - this is not a statement about the religious vs. the nonreligious, it's true of virtually all faiths and creeds. We're all steeped in this culture, it's our default context. This is my main critique of the article, that by focusing on the economic system it has applied a bandaid to a gaping wound.

As a culture we have largely lost the mystical and the philosophical. I suspect many believe this a good thing, as it means freedom from superstition, and this is not without merit. But I think we've lost something along the way, something important about what it means to be human, a more expansive vision beyond one's self. A strict materialistic worldview doesn't speak to the meaning of life except to say that for some reason life wants to perpetuate.  A belief that life is special or meaningful is itself a value judgement without basis in the physical. The same is true of happiness. Is happiness good, is it desirable, what if it comes at the expense of others? These are value judgements. It's possible to conceive of a hedonistic philosophy that recaptures what was lost to challenge the rot inherent in American Hedonism, but this would be a philosophical/spiritual solution. It would require accepting the limits of happiness as necessary for one's own integrity and for the greater good, where "good" is not something that can be defined strictly in terms of the material.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: FINate on October 13, 2018, 09:21:10 PM
The author writes:

Quote
The capitalist, ironically enough, is trying to earn his freedom from capitalism — just like everyone else. The only difference is that he’s a step closer. Let me prove it, with a simple and extreme example, that of a plantation, and slave, owner — the truest capitalist of all, not so long ago. What is he really after? He’s trying to earn is freedom from labour — not having to do work, hence the slaves. He’s also trying to win freedom from exploitation — he holds the whip, but is above the moral law. And from control, punishment, hierarchy — he has no boss to answer to. Perhaps he devotes his life to more “gentlemanly” pursuits — art, literature, discovery, exploration: but what’s the point of these? These, too, are a freedom from capitalism — from its bruising stress, pressure, anxiety, competition — now he is free to really be himself.

Capitalism didn't emerge as a distinct concept until around the 17th-18th century, whereas slavery has existed since the beginning of human history. The author's description here is an accurate depiction of Greco-Roman society 2000 years ago where slaves were a integral component to freeing the elites to focus on philosophy, learning and the arts - and labor of all sorts was looked down upon. So either the author has a very non-standard definition of capitalism or he's woefully ignorant of the history of slavery predating capitalism. With such a flawed premise it's difficult to take the rest of the article seriously.

An argument can be a made that Greco-Roman societies were practicing free market capitalism. For example Crassus buying up property in the middle of a fire for cents on dollar is pretty much what unregulated capitalism looks like.

Commerce != capitalism. In fact, I'm struggling to think of any economic system that doesn't feature commerce (would it even be an economic system without it?). Even the Soviet Union had commerce. The defining features of capitalism have more to do with how the means of production are organized, rather than how the market functions, though the two are related. The Greco-Roman world was very much centered on the empire, aristocratic families, largely agrarian and fueled by slave labor. Yes, they had commerce, but overall it was very different from capitalism.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: maizeman on October 13, 2018, 09:56:36 PM
Thanks FINate. Now that you've expanded a bit on your thoughts, it sounds like we are in complete agreement about the limitations and downsides of "American hedonism." Where our thinking diverges appears to be in whether "american hedonsim" is a inevitable outcome of a non-dualism (or materialistic) worldview, or just one of many possible outcomes.

It is been my observation that some people find satisfaction and meaning in a non-dualistic worldview, while other people seem to benefit from a worldview that includes that second, spiritual, world in one form or another to find the same meaning and purpose. Nothing wrong with either approach, it's just important to remember that this seems to be one of the cases where our own individual experiences don't generalize well to people as a whole. When people forget that, we tend to end up with materialists who don't understand why anyone would value the spiritual, and dualists who think all materialists are leading meaningless and unhappy lives and even in the best case scenario everyone comes away with hurt feelings.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Gary123 on October 14, 2018, 07:10:48 AM
GuitarSTV, I think you deliberately misunderstood my comment.  Capitalism is not a moral code by any means but an economic system for the free exchange of labor and goods.  That is why I also stated Libertarians have it wrong when they try to find morality in it and ignore the fact capitalism doesn’t necessarily create the ethical participants it requires to succeed.  People need to have a culture and moral code to participate ethically.

Regarding this comment,

“Without food I'll die.  I work therefore, because the alternative is death.  That's not a free exchange of labor and services, it's coerced exchange.”

Seems you are blaming capitalism on the reality of nature.  Mankind has suffered from nature more than anything else during our time on this earth.  If you don’t have an education or character to save for moving to another job than it’s a poverty of culture not a failure of capitalism.

In the United States, the poorest people suffer from a poverty of culture not opportunity.

Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Sorinth on October 14, 2018, 08:48:57 AM
Commerce != capitalism. In fact, I'm struggling to think of any economic system that doesn't feature commerce (would it even be an economic system without it?). Even the Soviet Union had commerce. The defining features of capitalism have more to do with how the means of production are organized, rather than how the market functions, though the two are related. The Greco-Roman world was very much centered on the empire, aristocratic families, largely agrarian and fueled by slave labor. Yes, they had commerce, but overall it was very different from capitalism.

I agree commerce != capitalism, and that seems to be a major flaw in the authors article.

However the means of production of the greco-roman weren't controlled by the aristocracy simply because they were aristocrats (Like it would be in a feudal system), they were controlled by them because they were rich and bought them from other private citizens. It's no different then rich people now owning most of the businesses/land/etc... The Romans even had a term for people who would rise up above their background, Novus homo, a New Man. So if capitalism is defined as the private ownership of the means of production, then those societies were certainly capitalist, as private citizens could and did own everything.

Where admittedly the line gets blurry is that the same rich people would then run the government, so it would be somewhat of an Oligarchy, though still one based on capitalism.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv on October 14, 2018, 09:44:42 AM
GuitarSTV, I think you deliberately misunderstood my comment.  Capitalism is not a moral code by any means but an economic system for the free exchange of labor and goods.  That is why I also stated Libertarians have it wrong when they try to find morality in it and ignore the fact capitalism doesn’t necessarily create the ethical participants it requires to succeed.  People need to have a culture and moral code to participate ethically.

Regarding this comment,

“Without food I'll die.  I work therefore, because the alternative is death.  That's not a free exchange of labor and services, it's coerced exchange.”

Seems you are blaming capitalism on the reality of nature.  Mankind has suffered from nature more than anything else during our time on this earth.  If you don’t have an education or character to save for moving to another job than it’s a poverty of culture not a failure of capitalism.

In the United States, the poorest people suffer from a poverty of culture not opportunity.

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.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv on October 14, 2018, 10:02:56 AM
The safety net you mention is the antithesis of capitalism.  It's giving goods and services without an exchange of work.  It's purely socialist.
 I agree with you that socialism and capitalism tend to work better together than apart though.

Socialism isn't the antithesis of capitalism anymore then fascism or feudalism or mercantilism is. They are different systems, nor is capitalism defined as the exchange work for goods and services. In every economic system people exchange work for goods and services.

And unless you believe all taxes are socialism, then it's possible to create a safety net that isn't socialism. Simply have a negative tax bracket. That said, I do think a mix of socialism and capitalism is the best system we've come up with so far.

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.)
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: FINate on October 14, 2018, 01:57:30 PM
Thanks FINate. Now that you've expanded a bit on your thoughts, it sounds like we are in complete agreement about the limitations and downsides of "American hedonism." Where our thinking diverges appears to be in whether "american hedonsim" is a inevitable outcome of a non-dualism (or materialistic) worldview, or just one of many possible outcomes.

I never claimed American hedonism was an inevitable outcome. And yet it is the outcome we ended up with.

It is been my observation that some people find satisfaction and meaning in a non-dualistic worldview, while other people seem to benefit from a worldview that includes that second, spiritual, world in one form or another to find the same meaning and purpose. Nothing wrong with either approach, it's just important to remember that this seems to be one of the cases where our own individual experiences don't generalize well to people as a whole. When people forget that, we tend to end up with materialists who don't understand why anyone would value the spiritual, and dualists who think all materialists are leading meaningless and unhappy lives and even in the best case scenario everyone comes away with hurt feelings.

My observation is about American culture in general, not making universal claims about all individuals. 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. Nothing wrong with doing so, but let's stop pretending that it's all empirically provable, that one worldview is more enlightened than another.

Also, for clarification, a dualistic worldview is one alternative to materialistic, but it is by no means the only. A classical Judeo-Christian worldview does not view the spiritual and the physical in dualistic terms. Instead, the spiritual is not fully separable from the physical and vice versa. The dualistic view of disembodied soul as distinct from the physical body (such that our souls will float up to a spiritual heaven) is based on platonic philosophy/gnosticism rather than the teachings of scripture. Similarly, some eastern religions do not really think in terms the spiritual, but instead that the physical world is an illusion of true reality. Neither of these are dualistic, yet they are distinct from strict materialism.

But I digress. I agree that we should all respect each other's worldviews. Because whatever your worldview, it is fundamentally a religious belief in the broadest sense of the word. Even nihilism is, at its core, a closely held belief that is ultimately unprovable. So is the belief that everything is material, that there is nothing beyond the material. Religion is nothing more than what someone thinks this life is all about. Yet for too long we've been taught that religion has no place in public discourse, what Max Weber calls the "iron cage of rationality." I think this is wrong, it is offensive to say that people are not allowed to express their deepest beliefs. Our deepest beliefs inform our deepest values, and modern America has a values problem (e.g. systemic racism/white privilege, economic injustice, environmental injustice). 
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Sorinth 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.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: WhiteTrashCash 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.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: maizeman 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).
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: FINate 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 (https://www.age-of-the-sage.org/philosophy/friedrich_nietzsche_quotes.html) 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.
 
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv 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.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: maizeman 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 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell%27s_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 (https://www.age-of-the-sage.org/philosophy/friedrich_nietzsche_quotes.html) 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.)
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: FINate 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 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell%27s_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  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unmoved_mover), in other words, why did any of this come into being in the first place. The universe we occupy is finely tuned (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine-tuned_Universe) 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 (https://www.theverge.com/2016/6/2/11837874/elon-musk-says-odds-living-in-simulation)) - these are all equally unprovable - no one teapot is more logical than the other. That we exist at all is a bit perplexing (https://cosmosmagazine.com/physics/universe-shouldn-t-exist-cern-physicists-conclude) 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 (https://www.age-of-the-sage.org/philosophy/friedrich_nietzsche_quotes.html) 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 (https://www.newsweek.com/obesity-crisis-us-childhood-overweight-two-billion-people-fattest-nations-624323). 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.]
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Gary123 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. 
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Kyle Schuant 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.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv 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?
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: maizeman 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.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: maizeman 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 (https://www.age-of-the-sage.org/philosophy/friedrich_nietzsche_quotes.html) 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 (https://www.newsweek.com/obesity-crisis-us-childhood-overweight-two-billion-people-fattest-nations-624323). 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).
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: HBFIRE 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.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv 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.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: EvenSteven 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.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: FINate 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 (https://www.amazon.com/Life-Home-Twenty-First-Century-Families/dp/1931745617). 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.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv 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
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Kris 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.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: HBFIRE 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.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: maizeman 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.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: scottish 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.



Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: maizeman 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
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: scottish 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...


Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: maizeman 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.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: HBFIRE 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.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Kyle Schuant 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.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: maizeman 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
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: scottish 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.

Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: maizeman 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.

(https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/images/2017.04.17/chart2.png)
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Kyle Schuant 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.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: maizeman 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.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: maizeman 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.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: WhiteTrashCash 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.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: scottish 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?
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv 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.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: cerat0n1a 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.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: HBFIRE 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?
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv 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.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: YYK 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.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: cerat0n1a 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 :-)
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: maizeman 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.)
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv 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.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: YYK 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?
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: maizeman 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).
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Gary123 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. 
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv 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.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Daley 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.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: DS on November 02, 2018, 11:31:08 AM
Separation of church & stache!!
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv 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.)
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Boofinator 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.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Daley on November 02, 2018, 01:25:36 PM
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.

You'll find I'm pretty well in agreement with you on these points. Slavery is wrong. Communism is a nice idea that doesn't work. There's a reason why I focused on what I did, though, and it actually supports your argument against Capitalism as in its purest sense is just as much a form of worldly slavery.

Despite what you think, I'm not on board with "ancient practices of sexual slavery and slave owning" as you so put it - what I am trying to emphasize, however, is that Torah through the near inescapable existence of indebtedness and the slavery it imposes upon us all in the natural state, is offering freedom and escape from that slavery by turning it on its head and forcing and transforming the conditions of ownership into something entirely different - redemption and restoration of the person to a fullness in freedom and equality, as well as providing a familial support and inheritance. To the one indebted within the world, who is otherwise with no means of escape, it should be a blessing. It is using the natural to reveal the spiritual truths of the Universe and the fullness of love of our Creator.

"Okay, you really want to buy a man? Guess what, you have to treat them like family, give them a home, feed them, care for them like your own brother, and you can't treat them any differently than a hired laborer." "Okay, you really want to buy a woman? Guess what, you have to treat her with dignity like your wife with esteem in your household, and you can't just use and abuse her like a piece of meat like the other nations." Look at this from a gentile's perspective at the time who's been sold into slavery, assuming one of the small windows of time when the Hebrews actually did as they should have. The other nations would have treated them horribly and abused them and passed them around like a piece of meat, or even shed their blood. The world's slave trade was throughout the nations at the time. Now, if the Hebrews genuinely did do as they were supposed to, what's the better path as a slave? An abused piece of meat, or taken out of that system, brought in and given a family? Remember, the outside nations at the time were doing such abominations as live human sacrifice in addition to the slave trade. Keep that in mind also when re-framing the "genocidal" slaughter of the tribes in Canaan - they, too, were given a choice. Stop their abominations and the shedding of human blood and the dehumanizing of their fellow man and come to HaShem and His better way of living at peace with one another, repent and be redeemed of that indebtedness, or answer for that evil and have the price they placed on their own head collected for all the blood they spilled themselves.

Part of it has to do with semantics and the stigma (rightly so, given its history) of the word slavery. There is no redemption in the world's slavery, and using the word carries a huge weight and stigma. The spiritual intent of Biblical "slavery" is to weaponize that debt system into something that destroys that worldly debt and slavery system itself. This is what's wrong with Free Market Capitalism, and why it's just as much a form of slavery as you've rightly highlighted, and why it's foolish for Christians to defend it. The system is not designed to redeem us or leave us free. It is a system designed to keep us in debt to others so that they may hold leverage over our very lives. People here are trying to buy that freedom by subverting the system and the free market to buy their way out, but so long as we're in the world's system, we're never free. No matter how much financial "freedom" we buy, we're still trapped in the system and a slave to it. We still rely on the labor of others to survive, and our money can still be taken from us. That's not freedom. It's perpetuating the cycle outlined and noted in the article Rebs posted.

Now, read Acts chapter two. What the community of believers were supposed to be doing for one another willingly and voluntarily? That is a portrait of the lessons that should have been learned from Torah and Yeshua about love and what it is supposed to look like. Nothing owed to one another, but love. If actually practiced to the letter, that's how the Hebrew system of "slavery" should have played out if actually executed properly - an abolishment of all slavery with nothing owed between people but love throughout the world, caring for one another. Yeshua paid the price to free us of the yolk of slavery and the debt that comes with us so that we may have a familial relationship through Him with HaShem, and we are to live with one another extending that same love and restoration as we were given.

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

I know it was. And I know they haven't, because most "Christians" historically have embraced the indebtedness of the world over the their own Messiah and what He did. Still do. The Western system has nothing to do with Christianity outside of superficial similarities, and everything to do with Nimrod's Babylon and the system of the world and its debt tarted up in flowery religious words, only providing the illusion of freedom within an increasingly onerous legal system that no one can live in without incurring a life debt to someone else who wants to keep you indebted and loyal to them at all cost, and without any hope of freedom.

Further, Gary's usage of mislabeling Communism as socialism, and equating "Christian" values with Western legalism and the perfection of Free Market Capitalism and its invisible hand as somehow being outside of that system and better? Somehow, one system is supposed to be better than the other, because "God" and words. I take issue with that, as do you. I wanted to back you up where you could be, and try to reveal a deeper truth in the process.

(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.)

And I think I just brought it back not just on topic with the current direction of the thread, but back on point with the original purpose of the thread. Or a reasonable semblance there-of. Hopefully.

There was an attempt, anyway.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv on November 02, 2018, 01:44:18 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.

Agreed, it's not possible to have a truly free market without it devolving into anarchy.  Government controls are necessary for the good of everyone, and capitalism fails horribly without them.



Re-allocation of capital is certainly a socialist action commonly used by countries.  You're appear to also be arguing that state regulation of the means of production, distribution, and exchange in several industries is not socialist though.  That's the very definition of socialism:

Socialism is 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
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv on November 02, 2018, 01:57:46 PM
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.

You'll find I'm pretty well in agreement with you on these points. Slavery is wrong. Communism is a nice idea that doesn't work. There's a reason why I focused on what I did, though, and it actually supports your argument against Capitalism as in its purest sense is just as much a form of worldly slavery.

Despite what you think, I'm not on board with "ancient practices of sexual slavery and slave owning" as you so put it - what I am trying to emphasize, however, is that Torah through the near inescapable existence of indebtedness and the slavery it imposes upon us all in the natural state, is offering freedom and escape from that slavery by turning it on its head and forcing and transforming the conditions of ownership into something entirely different - redemption and restoration of the person to a fullness in freedom and equality, as well as providing a familial support and inheritance. To the one indebted within the world, who is otherwise with no means of escape, it should be a blessing. It is using the natural to reveal the spiritual truths of the Universe and the fullness of love of our Creator.

"Okay, you really want to buy a man? Guess what, you have to treat them like family, give them a home, feed them, care for them like your own brother, and you can't treat them any differently than a hired laborer." "Okay, you really want to buy a woman? Guess what, you have to treat her with dignity like your wife with esteem in your household, and you can't just use and abuse her like a piece of meat like the other nations." Look at this from a gentile's perspective at the time who's been sold into slavery, assuming one of the small windows of time when the Hebrews actually did as they should have. The other nations would have treated them horribly and abused them and passed them around like a piece of meat, or even shed their blood. The world's slave trade was throughout the nations at the time. Now, if the Hebrews genuinely did do as they were supposed to, what's the better path as a slave? An abused piece of meat, or taken out of that system, brought in and given a family? Remember, the outside nations at the time were doing such abominations as live human sacrifice in addition to the slave trade. Keep that in mind also when re-framing the "genocidal" slaughter of the tribes in Canaan - they, too, were given a choice. Stop their abominations and the shedding of human blood and the dehumanizing of their fellow man and come to HaShem and His better way of living at peace with one another, repent and be redeemed of that indebtedness, or answer for that evil and have the price they placed on their own head collected for all the blood they spilled themselves.

Part of it has to do with semantics and the stigma (rightly so, given its history) of the word slavery. There is no redemption in the world's slavery, and using the word carries a huge weight and stigma. The spiritual intent of Biblical "slavery" is to weaponize that debt system into something that destroys that worldly debt and slavery system itself. This is what's wrong with Free Market Capitalism, and why it's just as much a form of slavery as you've rightly highlighted, and why it's foolish for Christians to defend it. The system is not designed to redeem us or leave us free. It is a system designed to keep us in debt to others so that they may hold leverage over our very lives. People here are trying to buy that freedom by subverting the system and the free market to buy their way out, but so long as we're in the world's system, we're never free. No matter how much financial "freedom" we buy, we're still trapped in the system and a slave to it. We still rely on the labor of others to survive, and our money can still be taken from us. That's not freedom. It's perpetuating the cycle outlined and noted in the article Rebs posted.

Now, read Acts chapter two. What the community of believers were supposed to be doing for one another willingly and voluntarily? That is a portrait of the lessons that should have been learned from Torah and Yeshua about love and what it is supposed to look like. Nothing owed to one another, but love. If actually practiced to the letter, that's how the Hebrew system of "slavery" should have played out if actually executed properly - an abolishment of all slavery with nothing owed between people but love throughout the world, caring for one another. Yeshua paid the price to free us of the yolk of slavery and the debt that comes with us so that we may have a familial relationship through Him with HaShem, and we are to live with one another extending that same love and restoration as we were given.

Or (and this is just a crazy thought I'm spitballing here), rather than watching idiot priests setting out complicated subversive morality rules that nobody would follow regarding the buying and selling of people . . . God could have formed another burning bush and said 'Slavery is fucked up guys, don't do it'.  It's not like OT God was hands off . . . Hagar,  Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Gideon, Samson's parents, and Nebuchadnezzar all got visits from the big dude.


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

I know it was. And I know they haven't, because most "Christians" historically have embraced the indebtedness of the world over the their own Messiah and what He did. Still do. The Western system has nothing to do with Christianity outside of superficial similarities, and everything to do with Nimrod's Babylon and the system of the world and its debt tarted up in flowery religious words, only providing the illusion of freedom within an increasingly onerous legal system that no one can live in without incurring a life debt to someone else who wants to keep you indebted and loyal to them at all cost, and without any hope of freedom.

Further, Gary's usage of mislabeling Communism as socialism, and equating "Christian" values with Western legalism and the perfection of Free Market Capitalism and its invisible hand as somehow being outside of that system and better? Somehow, one system is supposed to be better than the other, because "God" and words. I take issue with that, as do you. I wanted to back you up where you could be, and try to reveal a deeper truth in the process.

(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.)

And I think I just brought it back not just on topic with the current direction of the thread, but back on point with the original purpose of the thread. Or a reasonable semblance there-of. Hopefully.

There was an attempt, anyway.

I'm going to need some time to parse this Daley.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Daley on November 02, 2018, 02:33:34 PM
Or (and this is just a crazy thought I'm spitballing here), rather than watching idiot priests setting out complicated subversive morality rules that nobody would follow regarding the buying and selling of people . . . God could have formed another burning bush and said 'Slavery is fucked up guys, don't do it'.  It's not like OT God was hands off . . . Hagar,  Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Gideon, Samson's parents, and Nebuchadnezzar all got visits from the big dude.

And I would argue that Torah is that message of "slavery is effed up guys, don't do it." Don't blame the idiot legalist priesthood who weighed down the people with millstones too heavy to carry. But then again, that's the real problem - everyone wants legalism to justify being selfish a-holes, and figure out a loophole to justify those actions. This is the beauty of Torah, in the process of revealing a better way, it convicts the heart of chasing after that selfishness. It's also why, despite the outline of the sacrificial system, David wrote, "For You will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; You will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."

The people and the priesthood frequently preferred to keep slaughtering animals over simply doing the right thing and learning from their transgressions.

I'm going to need some time to parse this Daley.

That's fine, I know it's a bit sparse, yet dense. Sorry if it's a bit opaque... but I'm not sure how I can unpack that without another 2000+ words. Hopefully, with a little time chewing on it, it'll clarify a bit. If you want to PM me to help parse it further, feel free.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Boofinator on November 02, 2018, 03:20:00 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.

Agreed, it's not possible to have a truly free market without it devolving into anarchy.  Government controls are necessary for the good of everyone, and capitalism fails horribly without them.



Re-allocation of capital is certainly a socialist action commonly used by countries.  You're appear to also be arguing that state regulation of the means of production, distribution, and exchange in several industries is not socialist though.  That's the very definition of socialism:

Socialism is 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

I think I disagree with your interpretation of 'regulated'. Government has long had the social responsibility to regulate industry for public health and safety (which all of the examples you cited fall under). The main thrust from socialism was that government has a social responsibility beyond ensuring life, liberty, and property; instead, government should also make regulations to reallocate capital for social good.

Some examples to highlight the differences:

Inherently Governmental Function                                                              Socialism
Inspecting the bakery for food safety (public health risk)                              Preventing the bakery from selling doughnuts (individual health risk)
Regulating nuclear materials (public health and safety risk)                          State ownership of utilities or subsidized energy costs
Medical licensing (public health risk)                                                           Subsidized healthcare
Protecting the rights of publishers                                                              Funding public libraries
Taxation on goods and services to fund inherently governmental functions    Progressive or targeted (i.e. cigarettes) taxation
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv on November 02, 2018, 05:27:51 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.

Agreed, it's not possible to have a truly free market without it devolving into anarchy.  Government controls are necessary for the good of everyone, and capitalism fails horribly without them.



Re-allocation of capital is certainly a socialist action commonly used by countries.  You're appear to also be arguing that state regulation of the means of production, distribution, and exchange in several industries is not socialist though.  That's the very definition of socialism:

Socialism is 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

I think I disagree with your interpretation of 'regulated'. Government has long had the social responsibility to regulate industry for public health and safety (which all of the examples you cited fall under). The main thrust from socialism was that government has a social responsibility beyond ensuring life, liberty, and property; instead, government should also make regulations to reallocate capital for social good.

Some examples to highlight the differences:

Inherently Governmental Function                                                              Socialism
Inspecting the bakery for food safety (public health risk)                              Preventing the bakery from selling doughnuts (individual health risk)
Regulating nuclear materials (public health and safety risk)                          State ownership of utilities or subsidized energy costs
Medical licensing (public health risk)                                                           Subsidized healthcare
Protecting the rights of publishers                                                              Funding public libraries
Taxation on goods and services to fund inherently governmental functions    Progressive or targeted (i.e. cigarettes) taxation

I think you're drawing an imaginary line in the sand here.  'Social responsibility' enacted by the representative of the people (government), for the people is absolutely socialist in nature, and is entirely outside the realm of capitalism (or the small government so favoured by the pro-capitalist crew).  Early socialists were driven by the lack of social responsibility they saw in the capitalist practices of the time . . . indeed, socialism developed as a reaction to the excesses of those few who profited most from capitalism (Marx's Bourgeois) at the expense of the many who profit much less.

A far right believer in free markets (your typical capitalism loving libertarian) will tell you that there's no reason for bakeries to be inspected.  If a bakery makes people sick, people will stop going there and the bakery will go out if business.  Free market solution to the problem.  They will also point out that government regulation of bakeries didn't exist in America for a long time, yet bakeries have been around since the founding of the country . . . therefore it's obviously not a required function of government.  It certainly was not required for private ownership of bakeries and private sale of baked goods.  It really only stands as a road block to capitalism functioning freely and efficiently.

A far left socialist will tell you that allowing people to get sick in the first place is abdicating social responsibility.  It's possible for many to be hurt before the source of the sickness is revealed.  Even once revealed, it's hard for an individual to keep track of a malicious baker who simply sets up a new shop in a different town.  All bakeries should be regulated by the state to prevent sickness in the first place.  And hey, in order to make sure that greedy owners aren't just hiding stuff from the government inspectors, let's make the state the owner.  No profit motive to fuck over the proletariate should make things safer for all.

Both arguments suck.  The happy path lies in the middle.  We take the regulation and protection that socialists like, with a somewhat free market and profit motive that the capitalists like.  The hardcore folks on both sides are pissed off, everyone benefits.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: FINate on November 02, 2018, 05:34:58 PM
Or (and this is just a crazy thought I'm spitballing here), rather than watching idiot priests setting out complicated subversive morality rules that nobody would follow regarding the buying and selling of people . . . God could have formed another burning bush and said 'Slavery is fucked up guys, don't do it'.  It's not like OT God was hands off . . . Hagar,  Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Gideon, Samson's parents, and Nebuchadnezzar all got visits from the big dude.

Yeah, and how did that work out? The OT is clear, people keep fucking up even after God says "don't do that." Nowhere is this more clear than in the Garden of Eden when the humans, who by all accounts had full access to the presence of God and walked with him, yet they do the one thing they're told not to do and eat from the tree of good and evil. Now I have no idea if there was literally a tree or what kind - what's important is the symbolism involved. Humanity decides to give God a big FU and define what's right and wrong for themselves, which results in people exploiting others for their own benefit. Chapters 3-11 go into this in great detail.

As another example of prohibitions not really being effective on their own: God made explicit prohibitions against idolatry, but what do we find? Up until the period of the exile the Israelites had huge issues with idolatry, which is well documented in the OT. This is supported by the archeology as they often find idols in homes and public places in pre-exile Israel. They even sacrificed their own children to the Canaanite god Molech (Jeremiah 32:35).

And again, there is quite a bit in the OT about justice - not justice in the sense of convicting people of crimes (though this is part of it), but restorative justice - the importance of protecting the vulnerable, the widow, the immigrant, and the poor. You find this throughout scripture. And yet, what do we find in Amos, and Isaiah and the other prophets? The Israelites were not actually following God's commands for justice and righteousness (righteousness not being the religious term we think of today, more about having right relationship with God and others).

So clearly just making a command wasn't enough. People needed to be given a new heart as it says in Ezekiel 36:26 ("I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.")

Should also point out that slavery was widespread in the ancient world. This was not chattel slavery that we think of from US/European history. I'm not saying it was a good thing, but it was common because it was necessary for the functioning of civilization. Let's not forget our cultural context, where mechanization and tapping into millions of years of energy from the sun in the form of fossil fuels have freed us from the need for lots of manual labor. It's estimated that up to 1/3 of the population in the ancient Roman Empire were slaves. And even if you were not a 'slave' proper, you were still a subject of the ruler with few rights as we understand them today. So the OT and NT both seek to make changes within this broader context rather than total revolution. Should be pointed out that early Christians were regarded as an illegal cult and were often persecuted, and so they were not really in a place to force changes on the larger society. Even so, the early Christian views were attractive to those most trampled upon, so much so that the Greek historian Celsus criticized early Christianity for accepting "foolish and low individuals, and persons devoid of perception, and slaves, and women, and children." Then by the 4th and 5th century, after Christianity became the state religion, we start to see people such as John Chrysostom (https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/43167478.pdf) who are calling for the abolition of slavery based on their understanding of Christian Theology. And many of the abolitionists calling for the end of slavery in the 1700-1800s were also inspired by their theology, such as William Wilberforce (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Wilberforce).
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: FINate on November 02, 2018, 06:01:53 PM
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.

Really, are you going to make sweeping generalizations about an entire faith tradition? Christianity is very flexible and therefor super diverse, hence there are many cultural expressions of the faith. Even within the US there's a broad spectrum of Christianity, and only a tiny percentage are those with hate filled signs you see on television. (Aside: I've counter protested these folks before.) With somewhere around 2.4 billion adherents around the world there are going to be some bad actors. The Church, being filled with flawed humans, is going to make mistakes. It's expected. Nowhere in the Bible does it even imply Christians will be perfect. In fact, much of the NT is letters to churches and people to address problems of people doing wrong.

So yes, there are people in the church on the wrong side of things like failing to treat gay and trans people with human dignity. But there are also Christians on the right side. Though you're not going to hear much about those who are just doing the hard work of serving others instead of making fools of themselves on TV.

There's a long history of Christian abolitionists, both in the very early church (see my post up thread), and also more recently. Many of the civil rights activists were informed by their faith and their understanding of human dignity as described in scripture. So I don't think it's fair to say Christians "rarely showed the belief that everyone is deserving of human dignity." IMO, making such generalizations is in the same vein as people saying that Islam promotes terrorism, which it does not.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv on November 02, 2018, 06:16:12 PM
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.

Really, are you going to make sweeping generalizations about an entire faith tradition? Christianity is very flexible and therefor super diverse, hence there are many cultural expressions of the faith. Even within the US there's a broad spectrum of Christianity, and only a tiny percentage are those with hate filled signs you see on television. (Aside: I've counter protested these folks before.) With somewhere around 2.4 billion adherents around the world there are going to be some bad actors. The Church, being filled with flawed humans, is going to make mistakes. It's expected. Nowhere in the Bible does it even imply Christians will be perfect. In fact, much of the NT is letters to churches and people to address problems of people doing wrong.

So yes, there are people in the church on the wrong side of things like failing to treat gay and trans people with human dignity. But there are also Christians on the right side. Though you're not going to hear much about those who are just doing the hard work of serving others instead of making fools of themselves on TV.

There's a long history of Christian abolitionists, both in the very early church (see my post up thread), and also more recently. Many of the civil rights activists were informed by their faith and their understanding of human dignity as described in scripture. So I don't think it's fair to say Christians "rarely showed the belief that everyone is deserving of human dignity." IMO, making such generalizations is in the same vein as people saying that Islam promotes terrorism, which it does not.

Yep, there are good Christians.  Yep, there are bad ones.  I'd argue that things are generally better today with the religion (on average) than in the past.

My response was to the broad sweeping statement that Christians have historically treated others with dignity.  They have not.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: AnswerIs42 on November 02, 2018, 06:16:58 PM
Or (and this is just a crazy thought I'm spitballing here), rather than watching idiot priests setting out complicated subversive morality rules that nobody would follow regarding the buying and selling of people . . . God could have formed another burning bush and said 'Slavery is fucked up guys, don't do it'.

Well... he was going to, but then this happened :P

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDgCnoCMf9k (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDgCnoCMf9k)
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: blinx7 on November 02, 2018, 06:49:28 PM
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.

Really, are you going to make sweeping generalizations about an entire faith tradition? Christianity is very flexible and therefor super diverse, hence there are many cultural expressions of the faith. Even within the US there's a broad spectrum of Christianity, and only a tiny percentage are those with hate filled signs you see on television. (Aside: I've counter protested these folks before.) With somewhere around 2.4 billion adherents around the world there are going to be some bad actors. The Church, being filled with flawed humans, is going to make mistakes. It's expected. Nowhere in the Bible does it even imply Christians will be perfect. In fact, much of the NT is letters to churches and people to address problems of people doing wrong.

So yes, there are people in the church on the wrong side of things like failing to treat gay and trans people with human dignity. But there are also Christians on the right side. Though you're not going to hear much about those who are just doing the hard work of serving others instead of making fools of themselves on TV.

There's a long history of Christian abolitionists, both in the very early church (see my post up thread), and also more recently. Many of the civil rights activists were informed by their faith and their understanding of human dignity as described in scripture. So I don't think it's fair to say Christians "rarely showed the belief that everyone is deserving of human dignity." IMO, making such generalizations is in the same vein as people saying that Islam promotes terrorism, which it does not.

Yep, there are good Christians.  Yep, there are bad ones.  I'd argue that things are generally better today with the religion (on average) than in the past.

My response was to the broad sweeping statement that Christians have historically treated others with dignity.  They have not.

Compared to what standard?  The oceans of blood atheists have spilled in the last century?  The historical record of Islam?

This is way, way OT btw.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Boofinator on November 03, 2018, 09:08:48 AM

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.

Agreed, it's not possible to have a truly free market without it devolving into anarchy.  Government controls are necessary for the good of everyone, and capitalism fails horribly without them.



Re-allocation of capital is certainly a socialist action commonly used by countries.  You're appear to also be arguing that state regulation of the means of production, distribution, and exchange in several industries is not socialist though.  That's the very definition of socialism:

Socialism is 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

I think I disagree with your interpretation of 'regulated'. Government has long had the social responsibility to regulate industry for public health and safety (which all of the examples you cited fall under). The main thrust from socialism was that government has a social responsibility beyond ensuring life, liberty, and property; instead, government should also make regulations to reallocate capital for social good.

Some examples to highlight the differences:

Inherently Governmental Function                                                              Socialism
Inspecting the bakery for food safety (public health risk)                              Preventing the bakery from selling doughnuts (individual health risk)
Regulating nuclear materials (public health and safety risk)                          State ownership of utilities or subsidized energy costs
Medical licensing (public health risk)                                                           Subsidized healthcare
Protecting the rights of publishers                                                              Funding public libraries
Taxation on goods and services to fund inherently governmental functions    Progressive or targeted (i.e. cigarettes) taxation

I think you're drawing an imaginary line in the sand here.  'Social responsibility' enacted by the representative of the people (government), for the people is absolutely socialist in nature, and is entirely outside the realm of capitalism (or the small government so favoured by the pro-capitalist crew).  Early socialists were driven by the lack of social responsibility they saw in the capitalist practices of the time . . . indeed, socialism developed as a reaction to the excesses of those few who profited most from capitalism (Marx's Bourgeois) at the expense of the many who profit much less.

A far right believer in free markets (your typical capitalism loving libertarian) will tell you that there's no reason for bakeries to be inspected.  If a bakery makes people sick, people will stop going there and the bakery will go out if business.  Free market solution to the problem.  They will also point out that government regulation of bakeries didn't exist in America for a long time, yet bakeries have been around since the founding of the country . . . therefore it's obviously not a required function of government.  It certainly was not required for private ownership of bakeries and private sale of baked goods.  It really only stands as a road block to capitalism functioning freely and efficiently.

A far left socialist will tell you that allowing people to get sick in the first place is abdicating social responsibility.  It's possible for many to be hurt before the source of the sickness is revealed.  Even once revealed, it's hard for an individual to keep track of a malicious baker who simply sets up a new shop in a different town.  All bakeries should be regulated by the state to prevent sickness in the first place.  And hey, in order to make sure that greedy owners aren't just hiding stuff from the government inspectors, let's make the state the owner.  No profit motive to fuck over the proletariate should make things safer for all.

Both arguments suck.  The happy path lies in the middle.  We take the regulation and protection that socialists like, with a somewhat free market and profit motive that the capitalists like.  The hardcore folks on both sides are pissed off, everyone benefits.

I think the line is very real. Yes, semantically you are correct, every government function is inherently socialist in nature, in that it is for the benefit of the people. However, the traditional line between capitalism and socialism is the reallocation of capital beyond that needed for inherently government functions. Inherently government functions include everything that is necessary to ensure justice, defense, safety, and health. Anything beyond these functions begins to enter the realm of socialism. I think the bakery example we're going over is a poor choice, because you are right, regulations are probably not necessary, but they are fully within the realm of a legislative body to regulate for health and safety. (And as a former baker, I appreciated these regulations when I needed to threaten to call OSHA over a specific issue, which only subsequent to the threat got quickly resolved). Now if bakeries were owned by the government, or price controls were placed on bread, or food goods were taxed differently than other goods, etc., we'd be entering the realm of socialism.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: HBFIRE on November 03, 2018, 09:49:58 AM

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.



Have to be a bit careful with terms here.  In socialism and communism controlling the means of production is not at all the same as you're using it here.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: FINate on November 03, 2018, 12:35:34 PM
Yep, there are good Christians.  Yep, there are bad ones.  I'd argue that things are generally better today with the religion (on average) than in the past.

Agreed. People often act badly towards each other. But is this because of their belief in [insert religion], or is it because people are inherently selfish? The 20th century has laid waste to the idea that organized religion is the cause of all the world's ills, with more bloodshed and destruction than any other time in history...almost none of it motivated by religiosity.

Before someone tries to go here: No, Hitler was not a Christian. At best, he was maybe(?) a neopagan, but even that is probably unfair to neopagans. The establishment German churches were complicit in going along, out of a desire for self preservation, as was true of most of the rest of the population. But then there were also Christians such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dietrich_Bonhoeffer) who, motivated by his faith, resisted the Nazis to his own death.

My response was to the broad sweeping statement that Christians have historically treated others with dignity.  They have not.

I don't think anyone made a sweeping claim that Christians have historically treated others with dignity, though I apologize if I or someone else said/implied this and I missed it. My claim is that the Judeo-Christian faith has, at its core, a dignified view of humanity that is far ahead of its time, and has informed modern ideas of human rights that we take for granted today. That is to say, the faith contains the content to be internally self-critical when Christians do not treat others with the God-given dignity they deserve.

The entire science vs. religion war is unfortunate because 1) it's unnecessary and 2) those who claim a "literal" reading of Genesis (in quotes, because "literal" really means imposing a modern cultural context on ancient literature) completely miss the the bigger theological meaning of what's being communicated. Comparative studies of Ancient Near East (ANE) cosmology makes it clear that the Genesis 1-2 account is not about *how* God created, instead something much bigger and more important is going on. ANE readers, situated in their culture at the time, would have immediately recognized what was going on: The Genesis account describes the 7-day inauguration of sacred space, with the earth as a cosmic temple, and Eden the throne room where heaven and earth overlap and the divine assembly meets. In this context, Adam (hebrew: human) and Eve (hebrew: life) - aka Human Life - are understood as archetypal representations of humanity, and they are given a priestly role within the garden. God's command to rule and subdue the earth is not, as is often assumed, a command to rape and pillage the earth. Instead, this is a God giving humans roles as co-rulers. Their purpose is to be priests in communion with God while carrying on His creation project throughout the earth. In the biblical view then, humans are priestley co-regents. This is a highly dignified view of humanity.

It's difficult to overemphasise how much of a radical departure this is from the surrounding culture. Theomachy is the common theme in ANE cosmology, where creation is the result of waring, chaotic, and unpredictable gods. Whereas in Genesis we see God creating intentionally, by simply speaking, and it was very good. Another common theme in ANE literature is a view that humans were created, often through some form of theomachy, as slaves to the gods who were weary of caring for their own needs. And this becomes a reflection of the social structure where the king was deified, so the people served the king (essentially as slaves) along with all the gods. Whereas the God of the Bible makes clear that he is not served by humans.

So yes, Christians have not always remained true to the Biblical vision of dignity. Yet this ingrained dignified view has shaped our culture today in ways we take for granted. We don't fully appreciate the culture context that we've inherited from our Judeo-Christian past. For example, the dominant cultural assumption before the rise of Christianity was that of honor and shame. Greco-Roman culture despised Christianity because it did not value power and strength, and instead had an elevated view of the weak and vulnerable. The same can be said of the Anglo-Saxons who also considered Christianity offensive because of its elevation of the weak. In this sense, criticisms of Christians not treating people with dignity is self-referential, an accurate critique that Christians don't always live up to their values.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: maizeman on November 03, 2018, 12:53:28 PM
The 20th century has laid waste to the idea that organized religion is the cause of all the world's ills, with more bloodshed and destruction than any other time in history...almost none of it motivated by religiosity.

In absolute terms more people died in war in the 20th century, but this was largely an effect of the growing world population. If you look at the risk of an individual person dying in a war (whether as a member of a military or a civilian), the first half of the 20th century was well above average (note the log scaled y-axis on the first chart below), and the second half of the 20th century about average, and the bit of the 21st century we've experienced so far has been far below average.

(https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/3816326/ourworldindata_wars-long-run-military-civilian-fatalities-from-brecke1.0.png)
Source (https://www.vox.com/2015/6/23/8832311/war-casualties-600-years).

If we look at individual murder rates, which are certainly also a component of bloodshed, we see an even more striking decline over the past several centuries.

(https://imgpile.com/images/nyy5Ql.png)
Source (https://ourworldindata.org/homicides)
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv on November 03, 2018, 07:39:59 PM
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.

Really, are you going to make sweeping generalizations about an entire faith tradition? Christianity is very flexible and therefor super diverse, hence there are many cultural expressions of the faith. Even within the US there's a broad spectrum of Christianity, and only a tiny percentage are those with hate filled signs you see on television. (Aside: I've counter protested these folks before.) With somewhere around 2.4 billion adherents around the world there are going to be some bad actors. The Church, being filled with flawed humans, is going to make mistakes. It's expected. Nowhere in the Bible does it even imply Christians will be perfect. In fact, much of the NT is letters to churches and people to address problems of people doing wrong.

So yes, there are people in the church on the wrong side of things like failing to treat gay and trans people with human dignity. But there are also Christians on the right side. Though you're not going to hear much about those who are just doing the hard work of serving others instead of making fools of themselves on TV.

There's a long history of Christian abolitionists, both in the very early church (see my post up thread), and also more recently. Many of the civil rights activists were informed by their faith and their understanding of human dignity as described in scripture. So I don't think it's fair to say Christians "rarely showed the belief that everyone is deserving of human dignity." IMO, making such generalizations is in the same vein as people saying that Islam promotes terrorism, which it does not.

Yep, there are good Christians.  Yep, there are bad ones.  I'd argue that things are generally better today with the religion (on average) than in the past.

My response was to the broad sweeping statement that Christians have historically treated others with dignity.  They have not.

Compared to what standard?  The oceans of blood atheists have spilled in the last century?  The historical record of Islam?

This is way, way OT btw.

There was no comparison made.  I was responding to the claim that Christians have historically treated others with dignity.  By resorting to whataboutism rather than disagreeing with my statement, I'm guessing that you agree with my assessment on the matter?





Yep, there are good Christians.  Yep, there are bad ones.  I'd argue that things are generally better today with the religion (on average) than in the past.

Agreed. People often act badly towards each other. But is this because of their belief in [insert religion], or is it because people are inherently selfish?

People are people.  The religion they choose to follow (or not) certainly doesn't change that fact.  I'm not even sure that I'd agree that people are inherently selfish.  We are naturally a bit prone to tribal thinking - hurting others to benefit our chosen clan.



The 20th century has laid waste to the idea that organized religion is the cause of all the world's ills, with more bloodshed and destruction than any other time in history...almost none of it motivated by religiosity.

I don't really agree here at all.  As mentioned in maizeman's previous post, this simply isn't true.  We're living in a golden age as far as war goes, and I don't believe it has to do with religion (or lack of religion) at all.


My response was to the broad sweeping statement that Christians have historically treated others with dignity.  They have not.

I don't think anyone made a sweeping claim that Christians have historically treated others with dignity, though I apologize if I or someone else said/implied this and I missed it.  My claim is that the Judeo-Christian faith has, at its core, a dignified view of humanity that is far ahead of its time, and has informed modern ideas of human rights that we take for granted today. That is to say, the faith contains the content to be internally self-critical when Christians do not treat others with the God-given dignity they deserve.

Are those Christians who do not follow this (according to you) fundamental tenant of the faith true Christians?  If you answer no here, I kinda feel that you're no-true-scotsmanning your way out of the argument.  If you answer yes, then I'd argue that obviously your initial claim is incorrect.  I don't believe that you can claim a particular faith has a tenant at it's core that is regularly ignored and contravened by it's followers.


So yes, Christians have not always remained true to the Biblical vision of dignity. Yet this ingrained dignified view has shaped our culture today in ways we take for granted. We don't fully appreciate the culture context that we've inherited from our Judeo-Christian past. For example, the dominant cultural assumption before the rise of Christianity was that of honor and shame. Greco-Roman culture despised Christianity because it did not value power and strength, and instead had an elevated view of the weak and vulnerable. The same can be said of the Anglo-Saxons who also considered Christianity offensive because of its elevation of the weak. In this sense, criticisms of Christians not treating people with dignity is self-referential, an accurate critique that Christians don't always live up to their values.

Christianity has always been big on 'meek inheriting the Earth' type stuff, especially in the New Testament stuff.  (OT not so much . . . Deuteronomy 23:1 sticks out as a rather unaccepting passage for example.)  I don't believe that this type of thinking is quite as unique as you're claiming though:

“But we wanted to favor those who had been humiliated on earth; We wanted to make them its leaders and heirs. We wanted to establish them on earth and thus show Pharaoh, Haman and their armies that which they fear.” (Koran 28:5-6)

If we want to get into Eastern religions, the Tao Te Ching has got several passages that kinda glorify weakness (bending in the breeze rather than breaking, the softest thing in the world can overpower the hardest, etc.) . . . and in many ways Taoism is about accepting your position and not needing strength because you are just going with the flow.

I like this argument on the surface though, and will have to look more into it.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv on November 04, 2018, 08:47:53 AM

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.



Have to be a bit careful with terms here.  In socialism and communism controlling the means of production is not at all the same as you're using it here.

For communism, I agree with you.  Communism advocates collective ownership of everything, so control can be seen to mean loss of private ownership.  This is not the case for all forms of socialism though, many of which co-exist perfectly well with private ownership.  Liberal socialism for example, tends to explicitly oppose the type of state ownership advocated for by communist practices.




I think the line is very real. Yes, semantically you are correct, every government function is inherently socialist in nature, in that it is for the benefit of the people. However, the traditional line between capitalism and socialism is the reallocation of capital beyond that needed for inherently government functions. Inherently government functions include everything that is necessary to ensure justice, defense, safety, and health. Anything beyond these functions begins to enter the realm of socialism. I think the bakery example we're going over is a poor choice, because you are right, regulations are probably not necessary, but they are fully within the realm of a legislative body to regulate for health and safety. (And as a former baker, I appreciated these regulations when I needed to threaten to call OSHA over a specific issue, which only subsequent to the threat got quickly resolved). Now if bakeries were owned by the government, or price controls were placed on bread, or food goods were taxed differently than other goods, etc., we'd be entering the realm of socialism.

'Inherently government functions' is a confusing phrase to me.

You are arguing that food inspection is an inherent government function (among other things).  I already pointed out that the US government functioned for a long time without inspections of bakeries.  So, how do you determine what functions are 'inherently governmental'?  Is maintaining a public police service inherently a government function?  If so, why isn't public health care the same?  Both are fully within the realm of a legislative body to regulate for health and safety.  It is not possible to ensure justice for your people without a police force (and legal system), just as it is not possible to ensure health for your people without medical practitioners.

To me, this is a very arbitrary line you're drawing here, and it seems to be based around a particularly US-centric view of socialism and government.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Boofinator on November 04, 2018, 09:19:23 AM

I think the line is very real. Yes, semantically you are correct, every government function is inherently socialist in nature, in that it is for the benefit of the people. However, the traditional line between capitalism and socialism is the reallocation of capital beyond that needed for inherently government functions. Inherently government functions include everything that is necessary to ensure justice, defense, safety, and health. Anything beyond these functions begins to enter the realm of socialism. I think the bakery example we're going over is a poor choice, because you are right, regulations are probably not necessary, but they are fully within the realm of a legislative body to regulate for health and safety. (And as a former baker, I appreciated these regulations when I needed to threaten to call OSHA over a specific issue, which only subsequent to the threat got quickly resolved). Now if bakeries were owned by the government, or price controls were placed on bread, or food goods were taxed differently than other goods, etc., we'd be entering the realm of socialism.

'Inherently government functions' is a confusing phrase to me.

You are arguing that food inspection is an inherent government function (among other things).  I already pointed out that the US government functioned for a long time without inspections of bakeries.  So, how do you determine what functions are 'inherently governmental'?  Is maintaining a public police service inherently a government function?  If so, why isn't public health care the same?  Both are fully within the realm of a legislative body to regulate for health and safety.  It is not possible to ensure justice for your people without a police force (and legal system), just as it is not possible to ensure health for your people without medical practitioners.

To me, this is a very arbitrary line you're drawing here, and it seems to be based around a particularly US-centric view of socialism and government.

I could be wrong (and I'm definitely US-biased), but an inherently governmental function involves those things mentioned earlier: government protecting public health and safety. Where socialism differs is that it attempts to reallocate capital to improve individual outcomes (rather than public ones) in the attempt to improve public well-being. So the question to pose to determine whether a given government program is socialist or not, do people need to work together to form a government to accomplish those tasks, and do they directly affect the health or safety of the public (as compared to individuals, who could choose whether or not to allocate their capital accordingly)?

Here's a list. Not saying these all need to be implemented by governments, or to what extent they are implemented by governments, only whether or not they fall under inherently governmental functions and not socialist functions.

Courts? Yes.
Military? Yes.
Police? Yes.
Health Inspectors? Yes.
Safety Inspectors? Yes.
Legislators? Obviously.
Public education? No, education does not directly affect public health or safety, and people can choose what level of education is appropriate to them using their capital.
Public libraries? No.
Health insurance? Mixed. There's certainly a public health aspect to having some level of insurance and the associated infrastructure available to solve health crises which affect public health, but there's also some individual responsibility here as well. I feel the requirement for a basic level of health insurance should fall under an inherent government responsibility (again, whether or not the choice is made to implement it is another story).
Social security? No (though the argument could be made that hordes of homeless elderly people could pose a public health risk).
Public parks? No.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: PizzaSteve on November 04, 2018, 09:39:09 AM
Very good points so far as I skim the thread.

Posting to follow, as I would like to read more carefully.

My take is that some fundamental changes are occuring in some basic social interaction constructs about how we look at value creation, that undermine how we look at these various `isms.'

It is a long topic, but Ive been working on some business strategy contructs I developed during my consulting career that I label an Asset Driven/Balance Sheet approach to value creation.  Long and off topic, but basically I developed strategies for growing businesses by maximizing the performance of assets, differentiating by type.  Folks can PM me if they want to discuss it, but the asset types I analyzed include;

* Capital
* Labor
* Brand/Habit
* Information/Process knowledge
* Physical Infrastructure/commodities/equipment

Each of these performs differently and as one seeks to maximize their impact in producing effects that humans call value, one notices certain inevitable long term trends.

One of these is that information has become dramatically less scarce and that the cost of manipulating information has been declining exponentially.  I wrote about this in the 80s in some strategy white papers and predicted how this would evolve into creating what I called information utilities.

The interesting impact of the information utility (beyond crazy profitability) is that information is a catalyst for more efficient production of value by improving the impact of other asset types.  For example, give a call center the ability to edit, and enter orders, create a web site and ship via a fulfillment center, and suddenly small sales team can sell product globally. What used to be hugely expensive (IBMs Sales force) can be surpassed with much less input of other assets.  I helped build several new (e.g. online businesses, new markets, new products, disintermediation strategies, asset efficiency improvement strategies) for brick and morter companies by trying to document these scale economics and how to achieve them for years.   

With information business system improvements, the labor and other input costs for a business system are dramatically are driven down.  I helped define methologies for doing this for years.  They worked.  Companies made money.

What is interesting for this thread is that the sum of these activities, impacts notions of asset scarcity across the board. Labor needs drop, commododity needs drop, etc.

Now remember, the idea of scarcity is what created trade, money, economics as we know it.  The fundmental transaction of human kind, economically, for thousands of years, has been an exchange of equal value of goods or services.  We invented this idea and agriculture, society, etc were created (along with the need for governance, once we started trading).

Now we have this information availability and ubiquity thing distorting the very foundations of trade by pressuring scarcity, pressuring the need to demand value for value.  People give the stuff for free (or for habit brand values).

I predict that this will lead to a more social based society as social behavioral values will increasingly drive governance vs value exchange mechanisms.  Is this communism?  I dont think so. A set of values will be needed to manage the surplus wealth.  But universal guaranteed income is very likely, and I think eventually some sort of Star Trek like world where accumulation of money is seen as an old fashioned idea and people focus more on how they best contribute to a society that ranks them (there are Captains, therapists, and top scientists, after all), but begrudges no indulgence not reasonable (food, housing, space ships to explore, etc).
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv on November 04, 2018, 10:12:11 AM

I think the line is very real. Yes, semantically you are correct, every government function is inherently socialist in nature, in that it is for the benefit of the people. However, the traditional line between capitalism and socialism is the reallocation of capital beyond that needed for inherently government functions. Inherently government functions include everything that is necessary to ensure justice, defense, safety, and health. Anything beyond these functions begins to enter the realm of socialism. I think the bakery example we're going over is a poor choice, because you are right, regulations are probably not necessary, but they are fully within the realm of a legislative body to regulate for health and safety. (And as a former baker, I appreciated these regulations when I needed to threaten to call OSHA over a specific issue, which only subsequent to the threat got quickly resolved). Now if bakeries were owned by the government, or price controls were placed on bread, or food goods were taxed differently than other goods, etc., we'd be entering the realm of socialism.

'Inherently government functions' is a confusing phrase to me.

You are arguing that food inspection is an inherent government function (among other things).  I already pointed out that the US government functioned for a long time without inspections of bakeries.  So, how do you determine what functions are 'inherently governmental'?  Is maintaining a public police service inherently a government function?  If so, why isn't public health care the same?  Both are fully within the realm of a legislative body to regulate for health and safety.  It is not possible to ensure justice for your people without a police force (and legal system), just as it is not possible to ensure health for your people without medical practitioners.

To me, this is a very arbitrary line you're drawing here, and it seems to be based around a particularly US-centric view of socialism and government.

I could be wrong (and I'm definitely US-biased), but an inherently governmental function involves those things mentioned earlier: government protecting public health and safety. Where socialism differs is that it attempts to reallocate capital to improve individual outcomes (rather than public ones) in the attempt to improve public well-being. So the question to pose to determine whether a given government program is socialist or not, do people need to work together to form a government to accomplish those tasks, and do they directly affect the health or safety of the public (as compared to individuals, who could choose whether or not to allocate their capital accordingly)?

Here's a list. Not saying these all need to be implemented by governments, or to what extent they are implemented by governments, only whether or not they fall under inherently governmental functions and not socialist functions.

Courts? Yes.
Military? Yes.
Police? Yes.
Health Inspectors? Yes.
Safety Inspectors? Yes.
Legislators? Obviously.
Public education? No, education does not directly affect public health or safety, and people can choose what level of education is appropriate to them using their capital.
Public libraries? No.
Health insurance? Mixed. There's certainly a public health aspect to having some level of insurance and the associated infrastructure available to solve health crises which affect public health, but there's also some individual responsibility here as well. I feel the requirement for a basic level of health insurance should fall under an inherent government responsibility (again, whether or not the choice is made to implement it is another story).
Social security? No (though the argument could be made that hordes of homeless elderly people could pose a public health risk).
Public parks? No.

I appreciate you outlining things a bit better for me.  The problem with your list is that it still depends on a personal definition for things that directly effect health and safety of the public.

I'd argue that the health and safety of a society is directly impacted by the education of it's citizens.  Heck, just look at typical day to day safety in traffic.  Without a public education, how well do you think they're going to learn to cross the street safely?  How are they going to read street signs warning them of danger?  How are you expecting them to know what the law even is if you fail to provide the basic foundation for acquiring knowledge at all?  Public education is therefore an inherently governmental function.

Why must the government provide a military for it's people for health and safety?  The whole point of the second amendment in the US is that the people are supposed to be able to defend themselves, and not depend on a military to save them.

I'd also argue that other things you've identified like progressive taxation can make a lot of sense from a non-socialist perspective.  If a government is supplying health care to the public for health and safety reasons, then it would make sense to tax some of the more high risk activities (like say, smoking) at a higher rate in order to lower the costs of the program.  That's not socialist, it's pure cost reduction in a way that allows the free market to fix the problem.

This is still a very arbitrary definition.  At the very least, I hope that I've demonstrated how a reasonable person could draw a completely different line using your same definition.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Boofinator on November 04, 2018, 10:57:26 AM

I think the line is very real. Yes, semantically you are correct, every government function is inherently socialist in nature, in that it is for the benefit of the people. However, the traditional line between capitalism and socialism is the reallocation of capital beyond that needed for inherently government functions. Inherently government functions include everything that is necessary to ensure justice, defense, safety, and health. Anything beyond these functions begins to enter the realm of socialism. I think the bakery example we're going over is a poor choice, because you are right, regulations are probably not necessary, but they are fully within the realm of a legislative body to regulate for health and safety. (And as a former baker, I appreciated these regulations when I needed to threaten to call OSHA over a specific issue, which only subsequent to the threat got quickly resolved). Now if bakeries were owned by the government, or price controls were placed on bread, or food goods were taxed differently than other goods, etc., we'd be entering the realm of socialism.

'Inherently government functions' is a confusing phrase to me.

You are arguing that food inspection is an inherent government function (among other things).  I already pointed out that the US government functioned for a long time without inspections of bakeries.  So, how do you determine what functions are 'inherently governmental'?  Is maintaining a public police service inherently a government function?  If so, why isn't public health care the same?  Both are fully within the realm of a legislative body to regulate for health and safety.  It is not possible to ensure justice for your people without a police force (and legal system), just as it is not possible to ensure health for your people without medical practitioners.

To me, this is a very arbitrary line you're drawing here, and it seems to be based around a particularly US-centric view of socialism and government.

I could be wrong (and I'm definitely US-biased), but an inherently governmental function involves those things mentioned earlier: government protecting public health and safety. Where socialism differs is that it attempts to reallocate capital to improve individual outcomes (rather than public ones) in the attempt to improve public well-being. So the question to pose to determine whether a given government program is socialist or not, do people need to work together to form a government to accomplish those tasks, and do they directly affect the health or safety of the public (as compared to individuals, who could choose whether or not to allocate their capital accordingly)?

Here's a list. Not saying these all need to be implemented by governments, or to what extent they are implemented by governments, only whether or not they fall under inherently governmental functions and not socialist functions.

Courts? Yes.
Military? Yes.
Police? Yes.
Health Inspectors? Yes.
Safety Inspectors? Yes.
Legislators? Obviously.
Public education? No, education does not directly affect public health or safety, and people can choose what level of education is appropriate to them using their capital.
Public libraries? No.
Health insurance? Mixed. There's certainly a public health aspect to having some level of insurance and the associated infrastructure available to solve health crises which affect public health, but there's also some individual responsibility here as well. I feel the requirement for a basic level of health insurance should fall under an inherent government responsibility (again, whether or not the choice is made to implement it is another story).
Social security? No (though the argument could be made that hordes of homeless elderly people could pose a public health risk).
Public parks? No.

I appreciate you outlining things a bit better for me.  The problem with your list is that it still depends on a personal definition for things that directly effect health and safety of the public.

I'd argue that the health and safety of a society is directly impacted by the education of it's citizens.  Heck, just look at typical day to day safety in traffic.  Without a public education, how well do you think they're going to learn to cross the street safely?  How are they going to read street signs warning them of danger?  How are you expecting them to know what the law even is if you fail to provide the basic foundation for acquiring knowledge at all?  Public education is therefore an inherently governmental function.

Why must the government provide a military for it's people for health and safety?  The whole point of the second amendment in the US is that the people are supposed to be able to defend themselves, and not depend on a military to save them.

I'd also argue that other things you've identified like progressive taxation can make a lot of sense from a non-socialist perspective.  If a government is supplying health care to the public for health and safety reasons, then it would make sense to tax some of the more high risk activities (like say, smoking) at a higher rate in order to lower the costs of the program.  That's not socialist, it's pure cost reduction in a way that allows the free market to fix the problem.

This is still a very arbitrary definition.  At the very least, I hope that I've demonstrated how a reasonable person could draw a completely different line using your same definition.

It is not at all arbitrary. Let's use your examples.

Driver's education is not a requirement where I live, but being able to pass a driver's test showing your knowledge of the laws is. This is an example of ensuring public safety without publicly funded education. It's a safety inspection, so to speak. Even requiring education in this case would be minimally socialist, if the government did not fund the education (of course it would need to accredit the education).

For the military, the government always has a choice not to fund one. But the government has felt it is in the best interest of public safety to fund one. And I for one don't blame them.

You premise the example on the taxation of smoking products on having government funded health care. If that is the case, I agree taxation of smoking would not necessarily fall under the "socialist" column, but government funded health care for illnesses like cancer is perhaps a socialist cause, so the logic only works if your premise is correct.

I agree that there is a lot of grey area between socialism and capitalism, but there is also a big distinction. Otherwise, why would we even have the categories to begin with?
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv on November 04, 2018, 01:46:36 PM
It is not at all arbitrary. Let's use your examples.

Driver's education is not a requirement where I live, but being able to pass a driver's test showing your knowledge of the laws is. This is an example of ensuring public safety without publicly funded education. It's a safety inspection, so to speak. Even requiring education in this case would be minimally socialist, if the government did not fund the education (of course it would need to accredit the education).

For the military, the government always has a choice not to fund one. But the government has felt it is in the best interest of public safety to fund one. And I for one don't blame them.

You premise the example on the taxation of smoking products on having government funded health care. If that is the case, I agree taxation of smoking would not necessarily fall under the "socialist" column, but government funded health care for illnesses like cancer is perhaps a socialist cause, so the logic only works if your premise is correct.

I agree that there is a lot of grey area between socialism and capitalism, but there is also a big distinction. Otherwise, why would we even have the categories to begin with?


Earlier you said that "Inherently government functions include everything that is necessary to ensure justice, defense, safety, and health." and that "the traditional line between capitalism and socialism is the reallocation of capital beyond that needed for inherently government functions."  Providing health care for illness is (by your own definition), an inherently government function and not socialist.  Now you're arguing "government funded health care for illnesses like cancer is perhaps a socialist cause".  This is not consistent with the definitions you've laid out.

You're right, arbitrary is the wrong word, and I was mistaken in using it.  Inconsistent is better.  I don't agree with your definition because of many instances of inconsistency like this that we're running into.

My definition of socialism is pretty textbook:
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.

There's absolutely a big difference between capitalism and socialism.  They're polar opposite ideas, and there isn't much grey area between them.  Capitalism and socialism are quite different, but operate in a complementary manner though.  I think that you're getting tripped up in redefining what the two words really mean which is why you're finding grey area between them.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Boofinator on November 04, 2018, 03:17:40 PM
It is not at all arbitrary. Let's use your examples.

Driver's education is not a requirement where I live, but being able to pass a driver's test showing your knowledge of the laws is. This is an example of ensuring public safety without publicly funded education. It's a safety inspection, so to speak. Even requiring education in this case would be minimally socialist, if the government did not fund the education (of course it would need to accredit the education).

For the military, the government always has a choice not to fund one. But the government has felt it is in the best interest of public safety to fund one. And I for one don't blame them.

You premise the example on the taxation of smoking products on having government funded health care. If that is the case, I agree taxation of smoking would not necessarily fall under the "socialist" column, but government funded health care for illnesses like cancer is perhaps a socialist cause, so the logic only works if your premise is correct.

I agree that there is a lot of grey area between socialism and capitalism, but there is also a big distinction. Otherwise, why would we even have the categories to begin with?


Earlier you said that "Inherently government functions include everything that is necessary to ensure justice, defense, safety, and health." and that "the traditional line between capitalism and socialism is the reallocation of capital beyond that needed for inherently government functions."  Providing health care for illness is (by your own definition), an inherently government function and not socialist.  Now you're arguing "government funded health care for illnesses like cancer is perhaps a socialist cause".  This is not consistent with the definitions you've laid out.

You're right, arbitrary is the wrong word, and I was mistaken in using it.  Inconsistent is better.  I don't agree with your definition because of many instances of inconsistency like this that we're running into.

My definition of socialism is pretty textbook:
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.

There's absolutely a big difference between capitalism and socialism.  They're polar opposite ideas, and there isn't much grey area between them.  Capitalism and socialism are quite different, but operate in a complementary manner though.  I think that you're getting tripped up in redefining what the two words really mean which is why you're finding grey area between them.

On other occasions I clearly specified "public health"; I left out public in that sentence, so apologies for the confusion.

At this point I'm not sure our notions of capitalism can be reconciled due to contrasting definitions. I've never read Marx or Engels (the inventors of the word "capitalism"), but I've read Adam Smith. And though capitalism as a word did not exist in Smith's time, he basically described its essence. And he had a definite role for government along the lines which I describe. I do respect where you're coming from, I just disagree in painting the word "capitalism" with that brush.

And I also agree that there are plenty of flaws with unfettered capitalism no matter how it is defined.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: PizzaSteve on November 04, 2018, 05:18:44 PM
It is not at all arbitrary. Let's use your examples.

Driver's education is not a requirement where I live, but being able to pass a driver's test showing your knowledge of the laws is. This is an example of ensuring public safety without publicly funded education. It's a safety inspection, so to speak. Even requiring education in this case would be minimally socialist, if the government did not fund the education (of course it would need to accredit the education).

For the military, the government always has a choice not to fund one. But the government has felt it is in the best interest of public safety to fund one. And I for one don't blame them.

You premise the example on the taxation of smoking products on having government funded health care. If that is the case, I agree taxation of smoking would not necessarily fall under the "socialist" column, but government funded health care for illnesses like cancer is perhaps a socialist cause, so the logic only works if your premise is correct.

I agree that there is a lot of grey area between socialism and capitalism, but there is also a big distinction. Otherwise, why would we even have the categories to begin with?


Earlier you said that "Inherently government functions include everything that is necessary to ensure justice, defense, safety, and health." and that "the traditional line between capitalism and socialism is the reallocation of capital beyond that needed for inherently government functions."  Providing health care for illness is (by your own definition), an inherently government function and not socialist.  Now you're arguing "government funded health care for illnesses like cancer is perhaps a socialist cause".  This is not consistent with the definitions you've laid out.

You're right, arbitrary is the wrong word, and I was mistaken in using it.  Inconsistent is better.  I don't agree with your definition because of many instances of inconsistency like this that we're running into.

My definition of socialism is pretty textbook:
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.

There's absolutely a big difference between capitalism and socialism.  They're polar opposite ideas, and there isn't much grey area between them.  Capitalism and socialism are quite different, but operate in a complementary manner though.  I think that you're getting tripped up in redefining what the two words really mean which is why you're finding grey area between them.
I would assert that it is economics, almost more than social policy beliefs that should decide where social capital vs personal capital is spent.  If you read the work of the recent Nobel prize winners on contracts, some economic activity has natural scale economies or a natural monopoly structure that works most efficiently to deliver the `human desired' good or service.

I would let a fact based analysis of market dynamics drive the discussion.  Where natural monopolies or social inefficiencies exist (e.g. for profit health care incentivizes devaluing human life for profits), then governance of society needs to step in and manage.

I reject notions that competition and markets work best for all forms of value creation.  Ive worked at high levels in companies and government for most of my 30+ years of work, and inefficiencies abound, both in free markets and socially managed systems.  Private court is very efficient (arbitration) for some areas and horrible for others.  Restaurants thrive on competition, energy distribution, not so much.

Observing how a market behaves without a 'party colored lens' actually produces data on whether regulation by social policy destroys or creates capital.  In many cases it creates capital, net of costs, contrary to idiological capitalists who tend to suppport free markets, regardless of actual data about its costs and benefits to society, shareholders, consumers, etc.  Strip mines, for example, make money by destroying a social asset and the costs of restoration need to be input into the full life cycle cost of the activity, unless we want to say that robbing your neighbor is a capitalist action that creates value (which it clewrly doesnt).  Smoking is another good example, where some semi regulation (or at least collecting money via taxes to partly offset the health costs and discourages it) seems to make good sense.  Bans create other problems, Socializing the market (Japans solution) can also work, but has other inefficiencies, related to lack of consumer choice, a strength of capitalist competition.

Anyway, interesting discussion.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Boofinator on November 04, 2018, 06:10:55 PM
It is not at all arbitrary. Let's use your examples.

Driver's education is not a requirement where I live, but being able to pass a driver's test showing your knowledge of the laws is. This is an example of ensuring public safety without publicly funded education. It's a safety inspection, so to speak. Even requiring education in this case would be minimally socialist, if the government did not fund the education (of course it would need to accredit the education).

For the military, the government always has a choice not to fund one. But the government has felt it is in the best interest of public safety to fund one. And I for one don't blame them.

You premise the example on the taxation of smoking products on having government funded health care. If that is the case, I agree taxation of smoking would not necessarily fall under the "socialist" column, but government funded health care for illnesses like cancer is perhaps a socialist cause, so the logic only works if your premise is correct.

I agree that there is a lot of grey area between socialism and capitalism, but there is also a big distinction. Otherwise, why would we even have the categories to begin with?


Earlier you said that "Inherently government functions include everything that is necessary to ensure justice, defense, safety, and health." and that "the traditional line between capitalism and socialism is the reallocation of capital beyond that needed for inherently government functions."  Providing health care for illness is (by your own definition), an inherently government function and not socialist.  Now you're arguing "government funded health care for illnesses like cancer is perhaps a socialist cause".  This is not consistent with the definitions you've laid out.

You're right, arbitrary is the wrong word, and I was mistaken in using it.  Inconsistent is better.  I don't agree with your definition because of many instances of inconsistency like this that we're running into.

My definition of socialism is pretty textbook:
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.

There's absolutely a big difference between capitalism and socialism.  They're polar opposite ideas, and there isn't much grey area between them.  Capitalism and socialism are quite different, but operate in a complementary manner though.  I think that you're getting tripped up in redefining what the two words really mean which is why you're finding grey area between them.
I would assert that it is economics, almost more than social policy beliefs that should decide where social capital vs personal capital is spent.  If you read the work of the recent Nobel prize winners on contracts, some economic activity has natural scale economies or a natural monopoly structure that works most efficiently to deliver the `human desired' good or service.

I would let a fact based analysis of market dynamics drive the discussion.  Where natural monopolies or social inefficiencies exist (e.g. for profit health care incentivizes devaluing human life for profits), then governance of society needs to step in and manage.

I reject notions that competition and markets work best for all forms of value creation.  Ive worked at high levels in companies and government for most of my 30+ years of work, and inefficiencies abound, both in free markets and socially managed systems.  Private court is very efficient (arbitration) for some areas and horrible for others.  Restaurants thrive on competition, energy distribution, not so much.

Observing how a market behaves without a 'party colored lens' actually produces data on whether regulation by social policy destroys or creates capital.  In many cases it creates capital, net of costs, contrary to idiological capitalists who tend to suppport free markets, regardless of actual data about its costs and benefits to society, shareholders, consumers, etc.  Strip mines, for example, make money by destroying a social asset and the costs of restoration need to be input into the full life cycle cost of the activity, unless we want to say that robbing your neighbor is a capitalist action that creates value (which it clewrly doesnt).  Smoking is another good example, where some semi regulation (or at least collecting money via taxes to partly offset the health costs and discourages it) seems to make good sense.  Bans create other problems, Socializing the market (Japans solution) can also work, but has other inefficiencies, related to lack of consumer choice, a strength of capitalist competition.

Anyway, interesting discussion.

I appreciate your insights PizzaSteve. Though I agree in theory that economic costs should have a large weight on policy decisions, there is often massive uncertainty in how to calculate those economic costs. Even for social programs I very much agree with, such as for smoking taxation, where there is no doubt that it has been very successful in reducing overall smoking rates, it comes with several unintended consequences (http://www.iedm.org/files/note0214_en.pdf (http://www.iedm.org/files/note0214_en.pdf)): smuggling, increases in welfare subscriptions, governments actively advertising tobacco to increase revenue, etc. Recall that prohibition was another social policy that was seen as a near-universal positive at the time.

Economics can be a very tricky subject, and societies have fallen very hard after making what they felt were the right decisions for positive economic success at the time (communism being a good example).
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv on November 04, 2018, 07:06:33 PM
It is not at all arbitrary. Let's use your examples.

Driver's education is not a requirement where I live, but being able to pass a driver's test showing your knowledge of the laws is. This is an example of ensuring public safety without publicly funded education. It's a safety inspection, so to speak. Even requiring education in this case would be minimally socialist, if the government did not fund the education (of course it would need to accredit the education).

For the military, the government always has a choice not to fund one. But the government has felt it is in the best interest of public safety to fund one. And I for one don't blame them.

You premise the example on the taxation of smoking products on having government funded health care. If that is the case, I agree taxation of smoking would not necessarily fall under the "socialist" column, but government funded health care for illnesses like cancer is perhaps a socialist cause, so the logic only works if your premise is correct.

I agree that there is a lot of grey area between socialism and capitalism, but there is also a big distinction. Otherwise, why would we even have the categories to begin with?


Earlier you said that "Inherently government functions include everything that is necessary to ensure justice, defense, safety, and health." and that "the traditional line between capitalism and socialism is the reallocation of capital beyond that needed for inherently government functions."  Providing health care for illness is (by your own definition), an inherently government function and not socialist.  Now you're arguing "government funded health care for illnesses like cancer is perhaps a socialist cause".  This is not consistent with the definitions you've laid out.

You're right, arbitrary is the wrong word, and I was mistaken in using it.  Inconsistent is better.  I don't agree with your definition because of many instances of inconsistency like this that we're running into.

My definition of socialism is pretty textbook:
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.

There's absolutely a big difference between capitalism and socialism.  They're polar opposite ideas, and there isn't much grey area between them.  Capitalism and socialism are quite different, but operate in a complementary manner though.  I think that you're getting tripped up in redefining what the two words really mean which is why you're finding grey area between them.
I would assert that it is economics, almost more than social policy beliefs that should decide where social capital vs personal capital is spent.  If you read the work of the recent Nobel prize winners on contracts, some economic activity has natural scale economies or a natural monopoly structure that works most efficiently to deliver the `human desired' good or service.

I would let a fact based analysis of market dynamics drive the discussion.  Where natural monopolies or social inefficiencies exist (e.g. for profit health care incentivizes devaluing human life for profits), then governance of society needs to step in and manage.

I reject notions that competition and markets work best for all forms of value creation.  Ive worked at high levels in companies and government for most of my 30+ years of work, and inefficiencies abound, both in free markets and socially managed systems.  Private court is very efficient (arbitration) for some areas and horrible for others.  Restaurants thrive on competition, energy distribution, not so much.

Observing how a market behaves without a 'party colored lens' actually produces data on whether regulation by social policy destroys or creates capital.  In many cases it creates capital, net of costs, contrary to idiological capitalists who tend to suppport free markets, regardless of actual data about its costs and benefits to society, shareholders, consumers, etc.  Strip mines, for example, make money by destroying a social asset and the costs of restoration need to be input into the full life cycle cost of the activity, unless we want to say that robbing your neighbor is a capitalist action that creates value (which it clewrly doesnt).  Smoking is another good example, where some semi regulation (or at least collecting money via taxes to partly offset the health costs and discourages it) seems to make good sense.  Bans create other problems, Socializing the market (Japans solution) can also work, but has other inefficiencies, related to lack of consumer choice, a strength of capitalist competition.

Anyway, interesting discussion.

I appreciate your insights PizzaSteve. Though I agree in theory that economic costs should have a large weight on policy decisions, there is often massive uncertainty in how to calculate those economic costs. Even for social programs I very much agree with, such as for smoking taxation, where there is no doubt that it has been very successful in reducing overall smoking rates, it comes with several unintended consequences (http://www.iedm.org/files/note0214_en.pdf (http://www.iedm.org/files/note0214_en.pdf)): smuggling, increases in welfare subscriptions, governments actively advertising tobacco to increase revenue, etc. Recall that prohibition was another social policy that was seen as a near-universal positive at the time.

Economics can be a very tricky subject, and societies have fallen very hard after making what they felt were the right decisions for positive economic success at the time (communism being a good example).

Agreed.

If we could accurately account for the long term economic costs of a choice, an awful lot of the world's problems would just no longer be a big deal.  If we knew the full cost of what polluters were doing we could tax 'em for it as disincentive and have the capital to effect a solution for those who continue.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: FINate on November 05, 2018, 06:29:19 AM
The 20th century has laid waste to the idea that organized religion is the cause of all the world's ills, with more bloodshed and destruction than any other time in history...almost none of it motivated by religiosity.

In absolute terms more people died in war in the 20th century, but this was largely an effect of the growing world population. If you look at the risk of an individual person dying in a war (whether as a member of a military or a civilian), the first half of the 20th century was well above average (note the log scaled y-axis on the first chart below), and the second half of the 20th century about average, and the bit of the 21st century we've experienced so far has been far below average.

(https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/3816326/ourworldindata_wars-long-run-military-civilian-fatalities-from-brecke1.0.png)
Source (https://www.vox.com/2015/6/23/8832311/war-casualties-600-years).

If we look at individual murder rates, which are certainly also a component of bloodshed, we see an even more striking decline over the past several centuries.

(https://imgpile.com/images/nyy5Ql.png)
Source (https://ourworldindata.org/homicides)

That first graph is making my point, the meme that organized religion is the cause of *all* wars is false (yes, I still hear people say this). The Thirty Years' War was a religious war, and in relative terms it rivals that of either of the World Wars. And that's exactly my point, the World Wars of the 20th century were not religious in nature and yet were bloodier in absolute and relative terms than even the Thirty Years' War. Also, the red line (military + civilian death rate) - the only data going back past WWII - is what it was in 1400 and is really showing the rate dropping after the spike of the early 20th century.

Additionally, this graph doesn't contain many of the ~94 million people killed by communism in the 20th century (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Black_Book_of_Communism). Some of the data may overlap (wars), but other things like the purges, executions, and famines are unaccounted for.

Not sure what the point is of the second graph. Selecting a few countries which have experienced an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity as representative of the world is cherry-picking data to make a point, and it begs the question: Are homicide rates determined by religion (or lack thereof), or wealth and/or inequality?

Again, not claiming these things haven't happened in the past. Just that they've happened more recently and without religion as a major factor, so we need to reevaluate the idea that religion is the cause of the world's ills. Perhaps people are simply capable of great evil and they will use whatever tools they have to achieve their goals.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: FINate on November 05, 2018, 06:56:24 AM
So yes, Christians have not always remained true to the Biblical vision of dignity. Yet this ingrained dignified view has shaped our culture today in ways we take for granted. We don't fully appreciate the culture context that we've inherited from our Judeo-Christian past. For example, the dominant cultural assumption before the rise of Christianity was that of honor and shame. Greco-Roman culture despised Christianity because it did not value power and strength, and instead had an elevated view of the weak and vulnerable. The same can be said of the Anglo-Saxons who also considered Christianity offensive because of its elevation of the weak. In this sense, criticisms of Christians not treating people with dignity is self-referential, an accurate critique that Christians don't always live up to their values.

Christianity has always been big on 'meek inheriting the Earth' type stuff, especially in the New Testament stuff.  (OT not so much . . . Deuteronomy 23:1 sticks out as a rather unaccepting passage for example.)  I don't believe that this type of thinking is quite as unique as you're claiming though:

“But we wanted to favor those who had been humiliated on earth; We wanted to make them its leaders and heirs. We wanted to establish them on earth and thus show Pharaoh, Haman and their armies that which they fear.” (Koran 28:5-6)

If we want to get into Eastern religions, the Tao Te Ching has got several passages that kinda glorify weakness (bending in the breeze rather than breaking, the softest thing in the world can overpower the hardest, etc.) . . . and in many ways Taoism is about accepting your position and not needing strength because you are just going with the flow.

I like this argument on the surface though, and will have to look more into it.

Huh?? The OT is FULL of verses about justice and righteousness for the poor and the vulnerable.

For a few for example:

Quote
Isaiah 1:17 ESV   
Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause.

Proverbs 31:9 ESV   
Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Zechariah 7:9-10 ESV   
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.”

Jeremiah 22:3 ESV
Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.

Micah 6:8 ESV   
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Proverbs 31:8-9 ESV   
Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Psalm 82:3 ESV   
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.

Amos 5:11-15 ESV
Therefore because you trample on the poor and you exact taxes of grain from him, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not dwell in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine. For I know how many are your transgressions and how great are your sins— you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and turn aside the needy in the gate. Therefore he who is prudent will keep silent in such a time, for it is an evil time. Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said. Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

Leviticus 19:15 ESV   
“You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.

Proverbs 14:31 ESV
Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.

Proverbs 22:16 ESV   
Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.

Proverbs 28:27 ESV
Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.

Jeremiah 22:13-17 ESV
“Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice, who makes his neighbor serve him for nothing and does not give him his wages, who says, ‘I will build myself a great house with spacious upper rooms,’ who cuts out windows for it, paneling it with cedar and painting it with vermilion. Do you think you are a king because you compete in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well. Is not this to know me? declares the Lord. But you have eyes and heart only for your dishonest gain, for shedding innocent blood, and for practicing oppression and violence.”

I could go on and on, but won't. Can see for yourself here (OT and NT): https://www.openbible.info/topics/social_justice

Jesus didn't just show up on the scene and start saying a bunch of new stuff about the meek and the poor. The stuff he said was all based on the OT (the TaNaK). In Matthew 5:17 Jesus says " “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." The "Law or the Prophets" was their way of referring to what we call the OT.

Christianity and Islam both share the OT as a foundation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_view_of_the_Christian_Bible).
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv on November 05, 2018, 07:06:28 AM
My argument to Gary was against the easily disproven concept put forth that Christians have historically treated people with dignity.

I know it was. And I know they haven't, because most "Christians" historically have embraced the indebtedness of the world over the their own Messiah and what He did. Still do. The Western system has nothing to do with Christianity outside of superficial similarities, and everything to do with Nimrod's Babylon and the system of the world and its debt tarted up in flowery religious words, only providing the illusion of freedom within an increasingly onerous legal system that no one can live in without incurring a life debt to someone else who wants to keep you indebted and loyal to them at all cost, and without any hope of freedom.

I think that this is generally fair.  There is a fundamental disconnect between some of the core messages of Christ and the behavior of modern Christians regarding money, poverty, punishment, and forgiveness.  It has always struck me as odd that the right wing so publicly embraces Jesus, while actively fighting against so much of what Jesus stood for.



Further, Gary's usage of mislabeling Communism as socialism, and equating "Christian" values with Western legalism and the perfection of Free Market Capitalism and its invisible hand as somehow being outside of that system and better? Somehow, one system is supposed to be better than the other, because "God" and words. I take issue with that, as do you. I wanted to back you up where you could be, and try to reveal a deeper truth in the process.

Fair enough.  I sometimes get fixated on a particular idea (in this case, what I believe to be a bit of a weakness in the bible regarding rules/treatment of slavery) and can't always see the forest for the trees.  :P
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: ender on November 05, 2018, 07:10:52 AM
I appreciate your insights PizzaSteve. Though I agree in theory that economic costs should have a large weight on policy decisions, there is often massive uncertainty in how to calculate those economic costs. Even for social programs I very much agree with, such as for smoking taxation, where there is no doubt that it has been very successful in reducing overall smoking rates, it comes with several unintended consequences (http://www.iedm.org/files/note0214_en.pdf (http://www.iedm.org/files/note0214_en.pdf)): smuggling, increases in welfare subscriptions, governments actively advertising tobacco to increase revenue, etc. Recall that prohibition was another social policy that was seen as a near-universal positive at the time.

Economics can be a very tricky subject, and societies have fallen very hard after making what they felt were the right decisions for positive economic success at the time (communism being a good example).

And one of the most difficult valuations that takes place societally is the answer to the questions around the value of humans, such as:


While not often addressed explicitly, a lot of major societal and policy/political disagreements relate to these types of questions.

Just looking through these charts show a lot of tangible implications of these questions, given the percentages of healthcare spending on a relatively small percentage of people -  https://www.healthsystemtracker.org/chart-collection/health-expenditures-vary-across-population/

Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: maizeman on November 05, 2018, 07:17:01 AM
That first graph is making my point, the meme that organized religion is the cause of *all* wars is false (yes, I still hear people say this).

Has anyone said this in this thread? If not, it would appear you are setting up a bit of a straw man.

Quote
The Thirty Years' War was a religious war, and in relative terms it rivals that of either of the World Wars. And that's exactly my point, the World Wars of the 20th century were not religious in nature and yet were bloodier in absolute and relative terms than even the Thirty Years' War.
Both the 30 years war, and the world wars killed approximately equal numbers of people as a proportion of the total population, so it would not be correct to say that the world wars were bloodier in relative terms. (Despite the fact that during the world wars our technology for killing had progressed dramatically).

Quote
Also, the red line (military + civilian death rate) - the only data going back past WWII - is what it was in 1400 and is really showing the rate dropping after the spike of the early 20th century.
Yes, by the end of the century, we were back to a death rate that was similar to where we were 600 years earlier, before centuries of increasing deaths. I'd call that a good thing.

And you can certainly see the correlation between the blue and red lines where they overlap. The only way to argue that we haven't dropped even further below the 1400 baseline in the 21st century would be to argue that current wars kill dramatically more civilians relative the folks in the military than they have in the past.

Quote
Additionally, this graph doesn't contain many of the ~94 million people killed by communism in the 20th century (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Black_Book_of_Communism). Some of the data may overlap (wars), but other things like the purges, executions, and famines are unaccounted for.
Yes, it also doesn't show deaths from many other causes such as those killed during the inquisition, the russian pograms, the slave trade, or many other horrible actions undertaken by humans over the last six hundred years and change. It shows deaths in war, which is very clear in the title, legend, and my description of the figure.

Quote
Not sure what the point is of the second graph. Selecting a few countries which have experienced an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity as representative of the world is cherry-picking data to make a point, and it begs the question: Are homicide rates determined by religion (or lack thereof), or wealth and/or inequality?

I tend to agree with guitarstv that homicide rates, like deaths in war are NOT determined by religion, despite the attempt of some folks to blame the atrocities of the early 20th century on the absence of religion (and I've certainly heard many people attempt to do so).

Also, you don't see the contradiction in arguing that the first graph is flawed because it doesn't show deaths that weren't the result of a war, and arguing the second graph is pointless because it focuses on a set of deaths which aren't the result of a war?

As for why these countries? Because A) it's where we have the data B) these are countries where many folks will be familiar enough with history over the last 700 years to place historical events on this same timeline.

And speaking of history in those countries, describing the last 700 years in europe as "an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity" also seems remarkably incorrect. The last 70 years? Absolutely. But an era spanning the black death, the 100 years war, the 30 year war, the french revolution, the napoleonic wars, the little ice age, and the english civil war? (Plus those world wars we've been discussing.) Not so much.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Daley on November 05, 2018, 07:38:33 AM
My argument to Gary was against the easily disproven concept put forth that Christians have historically treated people with dignity.

I know it was. And I know they haven't, because most "Christians" historically have embraced the indebtedness of the world over the their own Messiah and what He did. Still do. The Western system has nothing to do with Christianity outside of superficial similarities, and everything to do with Nimrod's Babylon and the system of the world and its debt tarted up in flowery religious words, only providing the illusion of freedom within an increasingly onerous legal system that no one can live in without incurring a life debt to someone else who wants to keep you indebted and loyal to them at all cost, and without any hope of freedom.

I think that this is generally fair.  There is a fundamental disconnect between some of the core messages of Christ and the behavior of modern Christians regarding money, poverty, punishment, and forgiveness.  It has always struck me as odd that the right wing so publicly embraces Jesus, while actively fighting against so much of what Jesus stood for.

There's a loan word for this to describe those sorts of actions as a group of ruling-class people. Embracing all the technical legalism of His teachings and none of the grace, mercy and blessings. I believe Yeshua called them... Pharisees.

That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.
-Qohelet (Ecclesiastes) 1:9

Further, Gary's usage of mislabeling Communism as socialism, and equating "Christian" values with Western legalism and the perfection of Free Market Capitalism and its invisible hand as somehow being outside of that system and better? Somehow, one system is supposed to be better than the other, because "God" and words. I take issue with that, as do you. I wanted to back you up where you could be, and try to reveal a deeper truth in the process.

Fair enough.  I sometimes get fixated on a particular idea (in this case, what I believe to be a bit of a weakness in the bible regarding rules/treatment of slavery) and can't always see the forest for the trees.  :P

Not to be that guy, but I'd just like to point out that you kind of share more in common in the way you view things with the people you're criticizing than you realize. Glad to read that you're at least willing to see it and own the problem, though. ;)
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: PizzaSteve on November 05, 2018, 09:22:48 AM
It is not at all arbitrary. Let's use your examples.

Driver's education is not a requirement where I live, but being able to pass a driver's test showing your knowledge of the laws is. This is an example of ensuring public safety without publicly funded education. It's a safety inspection, so to speak. Even requiring education in this case would be minimally socialist, if the government did not fund the education (of course it would need to accredit the education).

For the military, the government always has a choice not to fund one. But the government has felt it is in the best interest of public safety to fund one. And I for one don't blame them.

You premise the example on the taxation of smoking products on having government funded health care. If that is the case, I agree taxation of smoking would not necessarily fall under the "socialist" column, but government funded health care for illnesses like cancer is perhaps a socialist cause, so the logic only works if your premise is correct.

I agree that there is a lot of grey area between socialism and capitalism, but there is also a big distinction. Otherwise, why would we even have the categories to begin with?


Earlier you said that "Inherently government functions include everything that is necessary to ensure justice, defense, safety, and health." and that "the traditional line between capitalism and socialism is the reallocation of capital beyond that needed for inherently government functions."  Providing health care for illness is (by your own definition), an inherently government function and not socialist.  Now you're arguing "government funded health care for illnesses like cancer is perhaps a socialist cause".  This is not consistent with the definitions you've laid out.

You're right, arbitrary is the wrong word, and I was mistaken in using it.  Inconsistent is better.  I don't agree with your definition because of many instances of inconsistency like this that we're running into.

My definition of socialism is pretty textbook:
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.

There's absolutely a big difference between capitalism and socialism.  They're polar opposite ideas, and there isn't much grey area between them.  Capitalism and socialism are quite different, but operate in a complementary manner though.  I think that you're getting tripped up in redefining what the two words really mean which is why you're finding grey area between them.
I would assert that it is economics, almost more than social policy beliefs that should decide where social capital vs personal capital is spent.  If you read the work of the recent Nobel prize winners on contracts, some economic activity has natural scale economies or a natural monopoly structure that works most efficiently to deliver the `human desired' good or service.

I would let a fact based analysis of market dynamics drive the discussion.  Where natural monopolies or social inefficiencies exist (e.g. for profit health care incentivizes devaluing human life for profits), then governance of society needs to step in and manage.

I reject notions that competition and markets work best for all forms of value creation.  Ive worked at high levels in companies and government for most of my 30+ years of work, and inefficiencies abound, both in free markets and socially managed systems.  Private court is very efficient (arbitration) for some areas and horrible for others.  Restaurants thrive on competition, energy distribution, not so much.

Observing how a market behaves without a 'party colored lens' actually produces data on whether regulation by social policy destroys or creates capital.  In many cases it creates capital, net of costs, contrary to idiological capitalists who tend to suppport free markets, regardless of actual data about its costs and benefits to society, shareholders, consumers, etc.  Strip mines, for example, make money by destroying a social asset and the costs of restoration need to be input into the full life cycle cost of the activity, unless we want to say that robbing your neighbor is a capitalist action that creates value (which it clewrly doesnt).  Smoking is another good example, where some semi regulation (or at least collecting money via taxes to partly offset the health costs and discourages it) seems to make good sense.  Bans create other problems, Socializing the market (Japans solution) can also work, but has other inefficiencies, related to lack of consumer choice, a strength of capitalist competition.

Anyway, interesting discussion.

I appreciate your insights PizzaSteve. Though I agree in theory that economic costs should have a large weight on policy decisions, there is often massive uncertainty in how to calculate those economic costs. Even for social programs I very much agree with, such as for smoking taxation, where there is no doubt that it has been very successful in reducing overall smoking rates, it comes with several unintended consequences (http://www.iedm.org/files/note0214_en.pdf (http://www.iedm.org/files/note0214_en.pdf)): smuggling, increases in welfare subscriptions, governments actively advertising tobacco to increase revenue, etc. Recall that prohibition was another social policy that was seen as a near-universal positive at the time.

Economics can be a very tricky subject, and societies have fallen very hard after making what they felt were the right decisions for positive economic success at the time (communism being a good example).

Sure. 

A point about our near future, though, is that we will have data analytics unknown to the prior history of man.

In a modern future world we can literally track policy outcome data on an individual level, aggregate it and and fully understand the impacts of policy options.  The ultimate fact based governance model could really work well, if leadership agreed to use actual data to help drive decisions. 

What a shocking thought...apply Deming to policy. 

Remember, in a very near future we will be GPS tracked, consumption tracked, idea monitored in a passive way via our mobile devices as never before.

We will need moral and governance frameworks to require the use of this data to drive for positive outcomes for society, as opposed to allowing its exploitation for crass profit and exploitation of others. (note:  the spiritual discussion is quite relevant, because if a gods plan is to give us humans the tools to chose between the two paths, we are definitely heading that way...we will have the power to build a paradise or a hell).

The conflict over how to use oinformation about ourselves will be a huge battle, and perhaps the defining conflict for the moral center of future human civilization. 

One can argue that Socialism contructs are a better framework for using data to anticipate and perhaps manipulate human behavior than Capitalism, especially in its purest form.  Certainly I dont want a theocratic approach.  Regardless, as a society we are building a sort of information based set of nuclear weapons systems.  I hope we can put in place `arms control' agreements to use them wisely, or we will really F each other up (e.g. Russian election meddling type actions).
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: FINate on November 05, 2018, 10:36:05 AM
That first graph is making my point, the meme that organized religion is the cause of *all* wars is false (yes, I still hear people say this).

Has anyone said this in this thread? If not, it would appear you are setting up a bit of a straw man.

Quote
The Thirty Years' War was a religious war, and in relative terms it rivals that of either of the World Wars. And that's exactly my point, the World Wars of the 20th century were not religious in nature and yet were bloodier in absolute and relative terms than even the Thirty Years' War.
Both the 30 years war, and the world wars killed approximately equal numbers of people as a proportion of the total population, so it would not be correct to say that the world wars were bloodier in relative terms. (Despite the fact that during the world wars our technology for killing had progressed dramatically).

Quote
Also, the red line (military + civilian death rate) - the only data going back past WWII - is what it was in 1400 and is really showing the rate dropping after the spike of the early 20th century.
Yes, by the end of the century, we were back to a death rate that was similar to where we were 600 years earlier, before centuries of increasing deaths. I'd call that a good thing.

And you can certainly see the correlation between the blue and red lines where they overlap. The only way to argue that we haven't dropped even further below the 1400 baseline in the 21st century would be to argue that current wars kill dramatically more civilians relative the folks in the military than they have in the past.

Quote
Additionally, this graph doesn't contain many of the ~94 million people killed by communism in the 20th century (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Black_Book_of_Communism). Some of the data may overlap (wars), but other things like the purges, executions, and famines are unaccounted for.
Yes, it also doesn't show deaths from many other causes such as those killed during the inquisition, the russian pograms, the slave trade, or many other horrible actions undertaken by humans over the last six hundred years and change. It shows deaths in war, which is very clear in the title, legend, and my description of the figure.

Quote
Not sure what the point is of the second graph. Selecting a few countries which have experienced an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity as representative of the world is cherry-picking data to make a point, and it begs the question: Are homicide rates determined by religion (or lack thereof), or wealth and/or inequality?

I tend to agree with guitarstv that homicide rates, like deaths in war are NOT determined by religion, despite the attempt of some folks to blame the atrocities of the early 20th century on the absence of religion (and I've certainly heard many people attempt to do so).

Also, you don't see the contradiction in arguing that the first graph is flawed because it doesn't show deaths that weren't the result of a war, and arguing the second graph is pointless because it focuses on a set of deaths which aren't the result of a war?

As for why these countries? Because A) it's where we have the data B) these are countries where many folks will be familiar enough with history over the last 700 years to place historical events on this same timeline.

And speaking of history in those countries, describing the last 700 years in europe as "an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity" also seems remarkably incorrect. The last 70 years? Absolutely. But an era spanning the black death, the 100 years war, the 30 year war, the french revolution, the napoleonic wars, the little ice age, and the english civil war? (Plus those world wars we've been discussing.) Not so much.

According to the graph, as a proportion of the total world population, Thirty Years' War killed as many people as WWI and was quickly followed by WWII which was approx. the same proportion (location on y-axis, unless I misunderstand the graph). Historians are pretty unanimous in their assessment that WWI and WWII were separate acts within a larger drama. The World Wars proportionally killed twice as many people.

And agree, the decline in death rate is a good thing, even though it is not unprecedented.

Regarding strawman arguments: My original statement was aimed at a general refrain I often hear about religion as the cause of wars - sorry for being unclear that this is not directed at anyone on this thread. It may be a strawman, but not one of my own making. I also want to point out that I did not say the decline in religion caused the conflicts of the 20th century, though I have seen people try to make this argument (which I think is incorrect). So perhaps we should both put our strawmen away for a moment and get to the crux of the matter. Wars happen because people do evil things. In the most general sense wars, and many social injustices, are about power. Even religious wars such as the Thirty Years' War are, at a deeper level, a political power struggle. A modern example of this is Iran vs. Saudi Arabia - yes there's a religious aspect (Shia vs Sunni) - but the real conflict is between two political powers. In these kinds of conflicts religion gets weaponized for a political purpose. The same thing happens with race and ethnicity. This doesn't make race and ethnicity bad, it just means we need to be vigilant about counteracting tribal instincts and not allowing these to become weaponized.

Religion is not going away. Even in places where it is/was outlawed (e.g. various times/places during communism) it persisted. There are about 2.4B people who identify as Christian. I agree with a lot of what Daley has said, that many modern Christians are pharisees and misunderstand what Jesus taught within the context of scripture. I'm also very critical of certain aspects of Evangelical Theology, the near total focus on the individual and "getting into heaven," as if Jesus is all about performing some ritual (saying a certain prayer) or having orthodox intellectual beliefs, while ignoring the message of social justice woven throughout scripture. Such theology reduces the faith to nothing more than a transaction (I've fulfilled my cultic requirements, now let me in!) and is a reflection of consumerism. Followers of Jesus are called to so much more!

So I push back on the idea that religion is bad - religion itself is neither good nor bad - there are only good and bad expressions of religion. And I push back on the idea that Christianity is itself inherently bad. I agree with criticism of instances where Christians behaved badly, but my basis for this is that these behaviors are contrary to what the Bible teaches. I'm not trying to convince you (or others here) that Christianity is good - but I do want to encourage Christians lurking here to go deeper in their faith and understanding of what Jesus and scripture really teach. Put differently, the solution to Christians behaving badly isn't to diminish their faith, it is to increase their faith, to spur them on to really following the example of Jesus, who hung out with sinners and the outcasts, served the sick and the poor, got angry at injustice and oppression, and even died for his enemies. A mature Christian understands that love is a verb - it requires action - and so the greatest command to love God and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37–40) requires taking action to serve others and put them before yourself, even if you disagree with them, even if they oppose you, even if it's not in your best interests, and even if they are hurting you...love them through your actions regardless.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: maizeman on November 05, 2018, 10:48:05 AM
So I push back on the idea that religion is bad - religion itself is neither good nor bad - there are only good and bad expressions of religion. And I push back on the idea that Christianity is itself inherently bad. I agree with criticism of instances where Christians behaved badly, but my basis for this is that these behaviors are contrary to what the Bible teaches. I'm not trying to convince you (or others here) that Christianity is good - but I do want to encourage Christians lurking here to go deeper in their faith and understanding of what Jesus and scripture really teach.

FINate, I think there are healthy and effective ways to push back on the idea the religious belief is bad without immediately resorting to "well if you think religious people are bad, look at how terrible the things people who aren't part of an (organized) religion do."

The latter approach is very unlikely to convince people who don't already agree with you, and at the same time is likely to crystalize a lot of people to argue with you who might otherwise be sympathetic.

Anyway, free advice on the internet, feel free to value it for exactly as much as you paid for it.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv on November 05, 2018, 10:59:55 AM
I'm not trying to convince you (or others here) that Christianity is good - but I do want to encourage Christians lurking here to go deeper in their faith and understanding of what Jesus and scripture really teach. Put differently, the solution to Christians behaving badly isn't to diminish their faith, it is to increase their faith, to spur them on to really following the example of Jesus, who hung out with sinners and the outcasts, served the sick and the poor, got angry at injustice and oppression, and even died for his enemies. A mature Christian understands that love is a verb - it requires action - and so the greatest command to love God and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37–40) requires taking action to serve others and put them before yourself, even if you disagree with them, even if they oppose you, even if it's not in your best interests, and even if they are hurting you...love them through your actions regardless.

I don't believe that the problem is misunderstanding and a failure to dig deep within the bible.

This is kinda the issue with religious manuals.  They serve as a Rorschach test.  If you want to find a message of peace and love, dignity and respect . . . then yeah, you can find it.  If you want to find a message of intolerance and hate . . . yeah, you can find it too.  The bible is full of contradictions and confusing wording, you're very much able to choose your own adventure.  That's how people can hold up their bible and say 'See, this says we're allowed to have slaves' while the people across the aisle can hold up their bible and say 'See, this says that slavery is wrong'.  It's not a lack of study, but an etymological crisis and fundamental disagreement of interpretation that you're seeing.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: FINate on November 05, 2018, 11:52:04 AM
So I push back on the idea that religion is bad - religion itself is neither good nor bad - there are only good and bad expressions of religion. And I push back on the idea that Christianity is itself inherently bad. I agree with criticism of instances where Christians behaved badly, but my basis for this is that these behaviors are contrary to what the Bible teaches. I'm not trying to convince you (or others here) that Christianity is good - but I do want to encourage Christians lurking here to go deeper in their faith and understanding of what Jesus and scripture really teach.

FINate, I think there are healthy and effective ways to push back on the idea the religious belief is bad without immediately resorting to "well if you think religious people are bad, look at how terrible the things people who aren't part of an (organized) religion do."

The latter approach is very unlikely to convince people who don't already agree with you, and at the same time is likely to crystalize a lot of people to argue with you who might otherwise be sympathetic.

Anyway, free advice on the internet, feel free to value it for exactly as much as you paid for it.

We'll, you're misquoting me now, I never said that :) So let me clarify: There are religious people who do good and there are religious people who do bad. Same can be said for non-religious people. Therefore, in the most general sense, some people do good whereas some people do bad. Bringing up the conflicts of the 20th century is not an attempt to say that non-religious people are bad, it is simply data to support that religion itself is not to blame. Or shall we pull that strawman out and swing at it again?
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: maizeman on November 05, 2018, 11:55:54 AM
So I push back on the idea that religion is bad - religion itself is neither good nor bad - there are only good and bad expressions of religion. And I push back on the idea that Christianity is itself inherently bad. I agree with criticism of instances where Christians behaved badly, but my basis for this is that these behaviors are contrary to what the Bible teaches. I'm not trying to convince you (or others here) that Christianity is good - but I do want to encourage Christians lurking here to go deeper in their faith and understanding of what Jesus and scripture really teach.

FINate, I think there are healthy and effective ways to push back on the idea the religious belief is bad without immediately resorting to "well if you think religious people are bad, look at how terrible the things people who aren't part of an (organized) religion do."

The latter approach is very unlikely to convince people who don't already agree with you, and at the same time is likely to crystalize a lot of people to argue with you who might otherwise be sympathetic.

Anyway, free advice on the internet, feel free to value it for exactly as much as you paid for it.

We'll, you're misquoting me now, I never said that :) So let me clarify: There are religious people who do good and there are religious people who do bad. Same can be said for non-religious people. Therefore, in the most general sense, some people do good whereas some people do bad. Bringing up the conflicts of the 20th century is not an attempt to say that non-religious people are bad, it is simply data to support that religion itself is not to blame. Or shall we pull that strawman out and swing at it again?

Bringing up the first half 20th century (with a specific speculation as to hitler's religious beliefs or lack thereof) is indeed going to come across as an attempt to explain that religious people aren't to blame for the terrible things we humans do to each other by emphasizing the terrible things people you believe to be areligious have done to other humans.

Like I said, you are free to take my advice or leave it. But I really do think the argument you are making and the way you present it is going to be actively counterproductive to your stated goal.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: FINate on November 05, 2018, 12:43:28 PM
I'm not trying to convince you (or others here) that Christianity is good - but I do want to encourage Christians lurking here to go deeper in their faith and understanding of what Jesus and scripture really teach. Put differently, the solution to Christians behaving badly isn't to diminish their faith, it is to increase their faith, to spur them on to really following the example of Jesus, who hung out with sinners and the outcasts, served the sick and the poor, got angry at injustice and oppression, and even died for his enemies. A mature Christian understands that love is a verb - it requires action - and so the greatest command to love God and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37–40) requires taking action to serve others and put them before yourself, even if you disagree with them, even if they oppose you, even if it's not in your best interests, and even if they are hurting you...love them through your actions regardless.

I don't believe that the problem is misunderstanding and a failure to dig deep within the bible.

This is kinda the issue with religious manuals.  They serve as a Rorschach test.  If you want to find a message of peace and love, dignity and respect . . . then yeah, you can find it.  If you want to find a message of intolerance and hate . . . yeah, you can find it too.  The bible is full of contradictions and confusing wording, you're very much able to choose your own adventure.  That's how people can hold up their bible and say 'See, this says we're allowed to have slaves' while the people across the aisle can hold up their bible and say 'See, this says that slavery is wrong'.  It's not a lack of study, but an etymological crisis and fundamental disagreement of interpretation that you're seeing.

Can you provide examples of contradictions?

Confusing wording is often related to translation issues and/or misunderstandings of the cultural matrix in which the original text originated. The Bible is high-context communication -- lots of symbolism and cultural references. Scholars (and science) have greatly improved our understanding of the Bible over the past few decades: archeology, ANE literature, and other extra-Biblical sources (e.g. Dead Sea Scrolls), Semitic Studies, Biblical Greek and Hebrew Studies, have all helped with this. The parts that are still uncertain do not concern core issues such as love, justice, salvation, etc.. The meta-narrative woven throughout the Bible, including God's heart for justice and commands to love your neighbor, is clear as day for those willing to do the work of studying it. These are quite literally themes that occur throughout.   

Can the Bible be taken out of context? Of course, as is true of almost all literature. Nietzsche was taken out of context and misappropriated by the Nazis to support their ideology, but that doesn't mean the general meaning of what he wrote is unknowable, even though parts are cryptic and difficult. There's a lot of flexibility in Christianity, as is evident in the diverse cultures and expressions of the faith. But when people get the core stuff wrong it's almost always because they've taken a verse completely out of context and/or have latched onto a single phrase while ignoring the rest of scripture.

Guessing we'll have to agree to disagree on this.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: HBFIRE on November 05, 2018, 01:13:40 PM


Can you provide examples of contradictions?


Good source of info can be found here:   https://ffrf.org/legacy/books/lfif/?t=contra

I spent some time in college translating the new testament from ancient greek, and there are many portions that can be translated with opposite meanings.  Finding an "accurate" translation is impossible, as much of the translation is subjective.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv on November 05, 2018, 01:51:57 PM
Sure . . . I mean there are zillions of odd ones right from the begining (in Genesis it says that God created the animals and then man . . . and then later on says that God created man, then the animals.  :P   )  I assume you're mostly interested in the inconsistencies that let someone pick and choose what they should behave like depending on how they read the bible.  Like:

- God prohibits killing in Exodus 20:13, Exodus 23:7, Deuteronomy 5:17, Mark 10:19, Luke 18:20, Romans 13:9, James 2:11, etc.
- God orders killing in Exodus 32:27, Deuteronomy 7:2, Deuteronomy 13:15, Deuteronomy 20:1-18, 1 Samuel 15:3, etc.  God also sends an angel to kill 185,000 people in 2 Kings 19:35.  The bible discusses killing children in the name of the Lord in several passages too, like Numbers 31:17, and Joshua 6:21-27.

Or maybe you're talking about customs . . . like divorce.  Divorce is totally OK (Deuteronomy 24:1-5), except when it's not (Mark 10:2-12).  Or circumcision . . . which is an everlasting covenant with God (Genesis 17:7), except that it's of no consequence (Galatians 6:15).  Is Jesus also God?  Yes (John 10:30).  And No (John 14:28).

There are plenty more.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Daley on November 05, 2018, 01:58:26 PM


Can you provide examples of contradictions?


Good source of info can be found here:   https://ffrf.org/legacy/books/lfif/?t=contra

I spent some time in college translating the new testament from ancient greek, and there are many portions that can be translated with opposite meanings.  Finding an "accurate" translation is impossible, as much of the translation is subjective.

Yeah... the Greek NT is.... problematic. You should give the Aramaic Peshitta a look instead (here's an excellent starting point with plenty of translational notes and transliteration into the modern Hebrew alphabet for easier reading (https://www.aent.org/), even if I don't agree with Roth 100% of the time). Amazing how a Semitic language can communicate the teachings better, no matter whether you think the Aramaic or the Greek came first. It's almost as if Yeshua didn't speak Greek! *feigned shock*

As for that link, most of their arguments come down to awful English translations, proof texting (removing context), nitpicking tiny scribal errors, and honestly? Awful Christian apologetics accepted as fact being taught by people where the academic lambskin mattered more for teaching authority than actual circumcision of the heart by the Blood of the Lamb. Show me a Bible scholar who's actually produced the fullness of fruits of the spirit in maturity as outlined in Galatians 5:22-23, and I'll show you a Bible teacher actually worth listening to. If you happen to find one still alive, tell me? I'm still looking for one myself.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: FINate on November 05, 2018, 02:01:11 PM


Can you provide examples of contradictions?


Good source of info can be found here:   https://ffrf.org/legacy/books/lfif/?t=contra

I spent some time in college translating the new testament from ancient greek, and there are many portions that can be translated with opposite meanings.  Finding an "accurate" translation is impossible, as much of the translation is subjective.

Ok, I don't have time to get to all of these, but will start with the first two...

First example:
Exodus 20:13 "Thou shalt not kill." vs. accounts of the death penalty and killing in battle.

The first hint is that this is using the King James Version. Most other English versions translate 'kill' as 'murder' (NIV, ESV, NRSV to name a few). The word in hebrew is ratsach (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=niv&strongs=h7523) and indeed, the correct translation here is murder, which is different from killing in general. See also http://jpfo.org/rabbi/6th-commandment.htm

Second example:
Exodus 20:16 "Thou shalt not bear false witness." and Proverbs 12:22 "Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord."

Bearing false witness is about lying in a court of law which has implications of injustice, this is not about lying in general.

The Proverbs 12:22 is exactly what I was talking about, taking verses out of context. If fact, this isn't even a complete verse:

      The LORD detests lying lips,
         but he delights in people who are trustworthy.

We should not deceive each other. saphah (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=niv&strongs=h8193) - speech and sheqer (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=niv&strongs=h8267) - deceit. The Hebrew sheqer is most often used in the context of bearing false witness or in things like business dealings...it's lying within the context of civil society. Hence it would be perfectly acceptable (expected even) to deceive an enemy in wartime. Even if this could be interpreted as against lying in general, it's important to note that the LORD is addressing humans whereas in the case of I Kings 22:23 this is God sending one of his elohim (spiritual being or angel) from the divine council to achieve his will on earth, and a similar thing is occuring in II Thessalonians 2:11. Sorry if it's offensive, but there are different rules for God carrying out his will for the world vs. humans on a social level.


 
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv on November 05, 2018, 02:37:44 PM


Can you provide examples of contradictions?


Good source of info can be found here:   https://ffrf.org/legacy/books/lfif/?t=contra

I spent some time in college translating the new testament from ancient greek, and there are many portions that can be translated with opposite meanings.  Finding an "accurate" translation is impossible, as much of the translation is subjective.

Ok, I don't have time to get to all of these, but will start with the first two...

First example:
Exodus 20:13 "Thou shalt not kill." vs. accounts of the death penalty and killing in battle.

The first hint is that this is using the King James Version. Most other English versions translate 'kill' as 'murder' (NIV, ESV, NRSV to name a few). The word in hebrew is ratsach (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=niv&strongs=h7523) and indeed, the correct translation here is murder, which is different from killing in general. See also http://jpfo.org/rabbi/6th-commandment.htm

Second example:
Exodus 20:16 "Thou shalt not bear false witness." and Proverbs 12:22 "Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord."

Bearing false witness is about lying in a court of law which has implications of injustice, this is not about lying in general.

The Proverbs 12:22 is exactly what I was talking about, taking verses out of context. If fact, this isn't even a complete verse:

      The LORD detests lying lips,
         but he delights in people who are trustworthy.

We should not deceive each other. saphah (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=niv&strongs=h8193) - speech and sheqer (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=niv&strongs=h8267) - deceit. The Hebrew sheqer is most often used in the context of bearing false witness or in things like business dealings...it's lying within the context of civil society. Hence it would be perfectly acceptable (expected even) to deceive an enemy in wartime. Even if this could be interpreted as against lying in general, it's important to note that the LORD is addressing humans whereas in the case of I Kings 22:23 this is God sending one of his elohim (spiritual being or angel) from the divine council to achieve his will on earth, and a similar thing is occuring in II Thessalonians 2:11. Sorry if it's offensive, but there are different rules for God carrying out his will for the world vs. humans on a social level.

Hang on.  It's important to deceive one another during war time?  War time?  Christ taught a message of extreme pacifism:

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

- Luke 6:27-31


That's not even shrouded in confusing old fashioned terms, it's very direct and straight forward.  No believer in Christ can go to war, because he's busy turning the other cheek and loving his enemies.  How exactly are you going to war as a Christian?  How do you kill those you're supposed to love?
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: ChpBstrd on November 05, 2018, 03:32:15 PM
Getting back to the article...

Escaping Capitalism:
I think we seek to escape nature itself, and capitalism is an (imperfect) means to that end. Living naturally means watching most of your children die, being subject to violence, experiencing constant hunger and fear, and being physically unable to claw one's way up Maslow's Hierarchy beyond a certain level. The millionaire/billionaire class has escaped all these problems and have thereby transcended part of nature (and they are funneling resources into the immortality problem).

Capitalism and Scarcity:
Capitalism is a set of rules for managing scarcity and selfishness (i.e. an alternative to Hobbesian brute force). Scarcity will always be a factor, despite the thought experiments. Even in a world with plenty of food and manufactured objects, there will not be enough oceanfront property in pleasant climates, status symbols, vacations/experiences, or sexual gratification. Human instinct for competitive advancement would have to be overcome for us to treat each other kindly in the absence of some sort of system.

Moving on to the tangents in this thread...

Meaning and Consumerism:
If consumerism was a symptom of absent religion/spirituality, and people were filling some spiritual void with consumer products, then I would not expect to see so many luxury SUVs in church parking lots. Instead of an antidote to consumerism, organized religion looks more like yet another consumer product. In my city, many brands of churches compete with each other using billboards, mailers, radio/TV ads, and social media ads. They have marketing departments, ad agencies, consultants, and accounting departments. There are churches for rich people and churches for poor people - different tiers of status/luxury and different messages available for each demographic. People are unashamed to talk about shopping for a church, and many bounce from provider to provider, looking for a "service" they like better. You can say "they're doing it wrong" but many millions of Christians consider this normal, they outnumber you, and there's no universally acceptable way to prove anyone wrong or right - although God's silence on these and all matters is conspicuous.

Dan Barker's book "Life Driven Purpose" is an interesting rebuttal to Joel Olsteen's "Purpose Driven Life." Barker argues that questions about meaning in life imply that there must be a meaning-maker. People assume this meaning must be externally generated by a sentient being, so they invent gods as interpreted by clergy to manufacture meaning. However, as sentient beings, WE meet the qualifications to be our own meaning-makers. We can take on the challenge of defining our own meaning, whether in an atheistic or theistic universe. The alternative to creating our own meaning is to buy an off the shelf meaning others have created for us. Joel Osteen makes millions this way, informing people that the meaning of their lives essentially involves consuming more Joel Osteen cultural products. The same could be said for scriptures, which claim following scriptures and recruiting more adherents to scriptures is the purpose.

It is a bit ironic how some of us buy mass-produced religious concepts of meaning and then look down upon those shallow bastards who live for luxury cars, designer shoes, McMansions, and job titles. It resembles the way some rednecks get a warm sense of identity from driving either a Chevy truck or a Ford truck. Nobody seems to get that they have sacrificed the ability to live for more or identify with more than consuming somebody else's product.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: FINate on November 05, 2018, 05:10:50 PM


Can you provide examples of contradictions?


Good source of info can be found here:   https://ffrf.org/legacy/books/lfif/?t=contra

I spent some time in college translating the new testament from ancient greek, and there are many portions that can be translated with opposite meanings.  Finding an "accurate" translation is impossible, as much of the translation is subjective.

Ok, I don't have time to get to all of these, but will start with the first two...

First example:
Exodus 20:13 "Thou shalt not kill." vs. accounts of the death penalty and killing in battle.

The first hint is that this is using the King James Version. Most other English versions translate 'kill' as 'murder' (NIV, ESV, NRSV to name a few). The word in hebrew is ratsach (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=niv&strongs=h7523) and indeed, the correct translation here is murder, which is different from killing in general. See also http://jpfo.org/rabbi/6th-commandment.htm

Second example:
Exodus 20:16 "Thou shalt not bear false witness." and Proverbs 12:22 "Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord."

Bearing false witness is about lying in a court of law which has implications of injustice, this is not about lying in general.

The Proverbs 12:22 is exactly what I was talking about, taking verses out of context. If fact, this isn't even a complete verse:

      The LORD detests lying lips,
         but he delights in people who are trustworthy.

We should not deceive each other. saphah (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=niv&strongs=h8193) - speech and sheqer (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=niv&strongs=h8267) - deceit. The Hebrew sheqer is most often used in the context of bearing false witness or in things like business dealings...it's lying within the context of civil society. Hence it would be perfectly acceptable (expected even) to deceive an enemy in wartime. Even if this could be interpreted as against lying in general, it's important to note that the LORD is addressing humans whereas in the case of I Kings 22:23 this is God sending one of his elohim (spiritual being or angel) from the divine council to achieve his will on earth, and a similar thing is occuring in II Thessalonians 2:11. Sorry if it's offensive, but there are different rules for God carrying out his will for the world vs. humans on a social level.

Hang on.  It's important to deceive one another during war time?  War time?  Christ taught a message of extreme pacifism:

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

- Luke 6:27-31


That's not even shrouded in confusing old fashioned terms, it's very direct and straight forward.  No believer in Christ can go to war, because he's busy turning the other cheek and loving his enemies.  How exactly are you going to war as a Christian?  How do you kill those you're supposed to love?

Israel existed as a nation for a long time before the time of Jesus. Yes, they had wars. Things like the Ten Commandments and the Law were about how the Israelites were to establish a just society - it's not about geopolitics. By the time of Jesus the Jews are living under the oppression of the Romans. Jesus did not come to establish a theocracy, he started a subversive movement that undermined the power structures while still submitting to their authority (e.g. "So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s." Matthew 22:21). It's a nuanced view of government power vs. personal agency that was the reality - submit to their rule (pay taxes) but only God is worthy of your worship (don't worship Caesar, as was customary).

With that in view, is it ok that the Allies deceive Nazi Germany on multiple occasions? Germany had declared war on the US, this wasn't your neighbor down the street suing you. Can Christians in good conscience join the military, what if you're conscripted, or what if your taxes are used to fund war? There's a spectrum of responses, and I would say it is highly dependent on the specific details involved. Personally, in certain situations I would be okay with being conscripted (well, not okay with it, it would suck, and I'm probably too old now), but in other cases I would be willing to be imprisoned if necessary to avoid participating in something I thought was wrong.

Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Kyle Schuant on November 05, 2018, 05:22:40 PM
Every religious or ideological text must contain contradictions or it won't be popular. If it has no contradictions and its meaning is clear, it'll only attract people who agree with that particular message, and people who never change their minds.

If it's vague and self-contradictory, then it can attract people with a wide variety of opinions and ideas and preferences, and can even accommodate them when they change their minds. For example, "It says gays are evil! What? My son is gay? Well I suppose God said to love one another and not judge... Look I've never minded gays, really... "

As well, if a religious or ideological text is vague and self-contradictory, then when it fails as a system, people can still retain their faith with the good old No True Scotsman fallacy. "Well, the Soviet Union wasn't really communist... and Wall Street isn't real capitalism..." Thus: the point of capitalism is to escape capitalism.

It's important to be vague and self-contradictory.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: FINate on November 05, 2018, 05:34:43 PM


Can you provide examples of contradictions?


Good source of info can be found here:   https://ffrf.org/legacy/books/lfif/?t=contra

I spent some time in college translating the new testament from ancient greek, and there are many portions that can be translated with opposite meanings.  Finding an "accurate" translation is impossible, as much of the translation is subjective.

Ok, I don't have time to get to all of these, but will start with the first two...

First example:
Exodus 20:13 "Thou shalt not kill." vs. accounts of the death penalty and killing in battle.

The first hint is that this is using the King James Version. Most other English versions translate 'kill' as 'murder' (NIV, ESV, NRSV to name a few). The word in hebrew is ratsach (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=niv&strongs=h7523) and indeed, the correct translation here is murder, which is different from killing in general. See also http://jpfo.org/rabbi/6th-commandment.htm

Second example:
Exodus 20:16 "Thou shalt not bear false witness." and Proverbs 12:22 "Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord."

Bearing false witness is about lying in a court of law which has implications of injustice, this is not about lying in general.

The Proverbs 12:22 is exactly what I was talking about, taking verses out of context. If fact, this isn't even a complete verse:

      The LORD detests lying lips,
         but he delights in people who are trustworthy.

We should not deceive each other. saphah (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=niv&strongs=h8193) - speech and sheqer (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=niv&strongs=h8267) - deceit. The Hebrew sheqer is most often used in the context of bearing false witness or in things like business dealings...it's lying within the context of civil society. Hence it would be perfectly acceptable (expected even) to deceive an enemy in wartime. Even if this could be interpreted as against lying in general, it's important to note that the LORD is addressing humans whereas in the case of I Kings 22:23 this is God sending one of his elohim (spiritual being or angel) from the divine council to achieve his will on earth, and a similar thing is occuring in II Thessalonians 2:11. Sorry if it's offensive, but there are different rules for God carrying out his will for the world vs. humans on a social level.

I started to go through some more examples...I just can't. So many are poor translation issues (often KJV). By the Second Temple Period when the TaNaK was completed, the Jews had a rich literary history that went back centuries. The TaNaK was skillfully authored, combined, and edited. The Jews were not dumb, nor were any of the ancients. They didn't have the level of technological sophistication we have, but they were just as intelligent. Some passages are not entirely clear (the meaning of some words are uncertain), and there are still theological debates on certain topics. But the idea that this body of work would be so incredibly inconsistent and full of errors (as suggested by that website), and that the Jews were not smart enough to recognize this is, to put it rather frankly, ethnocentric.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv on November 05, 2018, 06:02:58 PM


Can you provide examples of contradictions?


Good source of info can be found here:   https://ffrf.org/legacy/books/lfif/?t=contra

I spent some time in college translating the new testament from ancient greek, and there are many portions that can be translated with opposite meanings.  Finding an "accurate" translation is impossible, as much of the translation is subjective.

Ok, I don't have time to get to all of these, but will start with the first two...

First example:
Exodus 20:13 "Thou shalt not kill." vs. accounts of the death penalty and killing in battle.

The first hint is that this is using the King James Version. Most other English versions translate 'kill' as 'murder' (NIV, ESV, NRSV to name a few). The word in hebrew is ratsach (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=niv&strongs=h7523) and indeed, the correct translation here is murder, which is different from killing in general. See also http://jpfo.org/rabbi/6th-commandment.htm

Second example:
Exodus 20:16 "Thou shalt not bear false witness." and Proverbs 12:22 "Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord."

Bearing false witness is about lying in a court of law which has implications of injustice, this is not about lying in general.

The Proverbs 12:22 is exactly what I was talking about, taking verses out of context. If fact, this isn't even a complete verse:

      The LORD detests lying lips,
         but he delights in people who are trustworthy.

We should not deceive each other. saphah (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=niv&strongs=h8193) - speech and sheqer (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=niv&strongs=h8267) - deceit. The Hebrew sheqer is most often used in the context of bearing false witness or in things like business dealings...it's lying within the context of civil society. Hence it would be perfectly acceptable (expected even) to deceive an enemy in wartime. Even if this could be interpreted as against lying in general, it's important to note that the LORD is addressing humans whereas in the case of I Kings 22:23 this is God sending one of his elohim (spiritual being or angel) from the divine council to achieve his will on earth, and a similar thing is occuring in II Thessalonians 2:11. Sorry if it's offensive, but there are different rules for God carrying out his will for the world vs. humans on a social level.

Hang on.  It's important to deceive one another during war time?  War time?  Christ taught a message of extreme pacifism:

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

- Luke 6:27-31


That's not even shrouded in confusing old fashioned terms, it's very direct and straight forward.  No believer in Christ can go to war, because he's busy turning the other cheek and loving his enemies.  How exactly are you going to war as a Christian?  How do you kill those you're supposed to love?

Israel existed as a nation for a long time before the time of Jesus. Yes, they had wars. Things like the Ten Commandments and the Law were about how the Israelites were to establish a just society - it's not about geopolitics. By the time of Jesus the Jews are living under the oppression of the Romans. Jesus did not come to establish a theocracy, he started a subversive movement that undermined the power structures while still submitting to their authority (e.g. "So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s." Matthew 22:21). It's a nuanced view of government power vs. personal agency that was the reality - submit to their rule (pay taxes) but only God is worthy of your worship (don't worship Caesar, as was customary).

With that in view, is it ok that the Allies deceive Nazi Germany on multiple occasions? Germany had declared war on the US, this wasn't your neighbor down the street suing you. Can Christians in good conscience join the military, what if you're conscripted, or what if your taxes are used to fund war? There's a spectrum of responses, and I would say it is highly dependent on the specific details involved. Personally, in certain situations I would be okay with being conscripted (well, not okay with it, it would suck, and I'm probably too old now), but in other cases I would be willing to be imprisoned if necessary to avoid participating in something I thought was wrong.

So, as a Christian . . . when Jesus explicitly tells you to love your enemy and turn the other cheek, you are OK with being conscripted to kill others?  Is there a Jesus quote I'm not remembering where he said "but not for Nazis" or "you can ignore anything I say if your government tells you to do it"?

You have just demonstrated my point beautifully.  Interpretation of the bible and biblical message is largely up to the person reading it, and someone who has decided on a course of action will find something in the bible to support what he believes . . . even if it quite clearly goes against very straight forward and uncontroversial passages from the bible.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: FINate on November 05, 2018, 06:35:40 PM


Can you provide examples of contradictions?


Good source of info can be found here:   https://ffrf.org/legacy/books/lfif/?t=contra

I spent some time in college translating the new testament from ancient greek, and there are many portions that can be translated with opposite meanings.  Finding an "accurate" translation is impossible, as much of the translation is subjective.

Ok, I don't have time to get to all of these, but will start with the first two...

First example:
Exodus 20:13 "Thou shalt not kill." vs. accounts of the death penalty and killing in battle.

The first hint is that this is using the King James Version. Most other English versions translate 'kill' as 'murder' (NIV, ESV, NRSV to name a few). The word in hebrew is ratsach (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=niv&strongs=h7523) and indeed, the correct translation here is murder, which is different from killing in general. See also http://jpfo.org/rabbi/6th-commandment.htm

Second example:
Exodus 20:16 "Thou shalt not bear false witness." and Proverbs 12:22 "Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord."

Bearing false witness is about lying in a court of law which has implications of injustice, this is not about lying in general.

The Proverbs 12:22 is exactly what I was talking about, taking verses out of context. If fact, this isn't even a complete verse:

      The LORD detests lying lips,
         but he delights in people who are trustworthy.

We should not deceive each other. saphah (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=niv&strongs=h8193) - speech and sheqer (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=niv&strongs=h8267) - deceit. The Hebrew sheqer is most often used in the context of bearing false witness or in things like business dealings...it's lying within the context of civil society. Hence it would be perfectly acceptable (expected even) to deceive an enemy in wartime. Even if this could be interpreted as against lying in general, it's important to note that the LORD is addressing humans whereas in the case of I Kings 22:23 this is God sending one of his elohim (spiritual being or angel) from the divine council to achieve his will on earth, and a similar thing is occuring in II Thessalonians 2:11. Sorry if it's offensive, but there are different rules for God carrying out his will for the world vs. humans on a social level.

Hang on.  It's important to deceive one another during war time?  War time?  Christ taught a message of extreme pacifism:

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

- Luke 6:27-31


That's not even shrouded in confusing old fashioned terms, it's very direct and straight forward.  No believer in Christ can go to war, because he's busy turning the other cheek and loving his enemies.  How exactly are you going to war as a Christian?  How do you kill those you're supposed to love?

Israel existed as a nation for a long time before the time of Jesus. Yes, they had wars. Things like the Ten Commandments and the Law were about how the Israelites were to establish a just society - it's not about geopolitics. By the time of Jesus the Jews are living under the oppression of the Romans. Jesus did not come to establish a theocracy, he started a subversive movement that undermined the power structures while still submitting to their authority (e.g. "So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s." Matthew 22:21). It's a nuanced view of government power vs. personal agency that was the reality - submit to their rule (pay taxes) but only God is worthy of your worship (don't worship Caesar, as was customary).

With that in view, is it ok that the Allies deceive Nazi Germany on multiple occasions? Germany had declared war on the US, this wasn't your neighbor down the street suing you. Can Christians in good conscience join the military, what if you're conscripted, or what if your taxes are used to fund war? There's a spectrum of responses, and I would say it is highly dependent on the specific details involved. Personally, in certain situations I would be okay with being conscripted (well, not okay with it, it would suck, and I'm probably too old now), but in other cases I would be willing to be imprisoned if necessary to avoid participating in something I thought was wrong.

So, as a Christian . . . when Jesus explicitly tells you to love your enemy and turn the other cheek, you are OK with being conscripted to kill others?  Is there a Jesus quote I'm not remembering where he said "but not for Nazis" or "you can ignore anything I say if your government tells you to do it"?

You have just demonstrated my point beautifully.  Interpretation of the bible and biblical message is largely up to the person reading it, and someone who has decided on a course of action will find something in the bible to support what he believes . . . even if it quite clearly goes against very straight forward and uncontroversial passages from the bible.

If someone's interpretation leads them to complete pacifism then I respect that view. I said I would be ok with conscription under certain conditions. The second gulf war, no. WWII, yes, because of the extreme injustice the Nazis were perpetrating. I tend to take the righteous personal conduct interpretation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turning_the_other_cheek#Righteous_personal_conduct_interpretation) of that passage. Of the four common interpretations, all move people away from interpersonal violence within society, and away from taking vengeance.

Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv on November 05, 2018, 06:43:41 PM


Can you provide examples of contradictions?


Good source of info can be found here:   https://ffrf.org/legacy/books/lfif/?t=contra

I spent some time in college translating the new testament from ancient greek, and there are many portions that can be translated with opposite meanings.  Finding an "accurate" translation is impossible, as much of the translation is subjective.

Ok, I don't have time to get to all of these, but will start with the first two...

First example:
Exodus 20:13 "Thou shalt not kill." vs. accounts of the death penalty and killing in battle.

The first hint is that this is using the King James Version. Most other English versions translate 'kill' as 'murder' (NIV, ESV, NRSV to name a few). The word in hebrew is ratsach (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=niv&strongs=h7523) and indeed, the correct translation here is murder, which is different from killing in general. See also http://jpfo.org/rabbi/6th-commandment.htm

Second example:
Exodus 20:16 "Thou shalt not bear false witness." and Proverbs 12:22 "Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord."

Bearing false witness is about lying in a court of law which has implications of injustice, this is not about lying in general.

The Proverbs 12:22 is exactly what I was talking about, taking verses out of context. If fact, this isn't even a complete verse:

      The LORD detests lying lips,
         but he delights in people who are trustworthy.

We should not deceive each other. saphah (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=niv&strongs=h8193) - speech and sheqer (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=niv&strongs=h8267) - deceit. The Hebrew sheqer is most often used in the context of bearing false witness or in things like business dealings...it's lying within the context of civil society. Hence it would be perfectly acceptable (expected even) to deceive an enemy in wartime. Even if this could be interpreted as against lying in general, it's important to note that the LORD is addressing humans whereas in the case of I Kings 22:23 this is God sending one of his elohim (spiritual being or angel) from the divine council to achieve his will on earth, and a similar thing is occuring in II Thessalonians 2:11. Sorry if it's offensive, but there are different rules for God carrying out his will for the world vs. humans on a social level.

Hang on.  It's important to deceive one another during war time?  War time?  Christ taught a message of extreme pacifism:

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

- Luke 6:27-31


That's not even shrouded in confusing old fashioned terms, it's very direct and straight forward.  No believer in Christ can go to war, because he's busy turning the other cheek and loving his enemies.  How exactly are you going to war as a Christian?  How do you kill those you're supposed to love?

Israel existed as a nation for a long time before the time of Jesus. Yes, they had wars. Things like the Ten Commandments and the Law were about how the Israelites were to establish a just society - it's not about geopolitics. By the time of Jesus the Jews are living under the oppression of the Romans. Jesus did not come to establish a theocracy, he started a subversive movement that undermined the power structures while still submitting to their authority (e.g. "So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s." Matthew 22:21). It's a nuanced view of government power vs. personal agency that was the reality - submit to their rule (pay taxes) but only God is worthy of your worship (don't worship Caesar, as was customary).

With that in view, is it ok that the Allies deceive Nazi Germany on multiple occasions? Germany had declared war on the US, this wasn't your neighbor down the street suing you. Can Christians in good conscience join the military, what if you're conscripted, or what if your taxes are used to fund war? There's a spectrum of responses, and I would say it is highly dependent on the specific details involved. Personally, in certain situations I would be okay with being conscripted (well, not okay with it, it would suck, and I'm probably too old now), but in other cases I would be willing to be imprisoned if necessary to avoid participating in something I thought was wrong.

So, as a Christian . . . when Jesus explicitly tells you to love your enemy and turn the other cheek, you are OK with being conscripted to kill others?  Is there a Jesus quote I'm not remembering where he said "but not for Nazis" or "you can ignore anything I say if your government tells you to do it"?

You have just demonstrated my point beautifully.  Interpretation of the bible and biblical message is largely up to the person reading it, and someone who has decided on a course of action will find something in the bible to support what he believes . . . even if it quite clearly goes against very straight forward and uncontroversial passages from the bible.

If someone's interpretation leads them to complete pacifism then I respect that view. I said I would be ok with conscription under certain conditions. The second gulf war, no. WWII, yes, because of the extreme injustice the Nazis were perpetrating. I tend to take the righteous personal conduct interpretation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turning_the_other_cheek#Righteous_personal_conduct_interpretation) of that passage. Of the four common interpretations, all move people away from interpersonal violence within society, and away from taking vengeance.

Right.  A valid interpretation is that Jesus is saying to never engage in violence.  Another valid interpretation is that Jesus is OK with you killing Nazis for your government.  Both valid, both totally contradictory.

If you can't see the contradiction here, there's not much point continuing the conversation.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: FINate on November 06, 2018, 05:55:35 AM


Can you provide examples of contradictions?


Good source of info can be found here:   https://ffrf.org/legacy/books/lfif/?t=contra

I spent some time in college translating the new testament from ancient greek, and there are many portions that can be translated with opposite meanings.  Finding an "accurate" translation is impossible, as much of the translation is subjective.

Ok, I don't have time to get to all of these, but will start with the first two...

First example:
Exodus 20:13 "Thou shalt not kill." vs. accounts of the death penalty and killing in battle.

The first hint is that this is using the King James Version. Most other English versions translate 'kill' as 'murder' (NIV, ESV, NRSV to name a few). The word in hebrew is ratsach (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=niv&strongs=h7523) and indeed, the correct translation here is murder, which is different from killing in general. See also http://jpfo.org/rabbi/6th-commandment.htm

Second example:
Exodus 20:16 "Thou shalt not bear false witness." and Proverbs 12:22 "Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord."

Bearing false witness is about lying in a court of law which has implications of injustice, this is not about lying in general.

The Proverbs 12:22 is exactly what I was talking about, taking verses out of context. If fact, this isn't even a complete verse:

      The LORD detests lying lips,
         but he delights in people who are trustworthy.

We should not deceive each other. saphah (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=niv&strongs=h8193) - speech and sheqer (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=niv&strongs=h8267) - deceit. The Hebrew sheqer is most often used in the context of bearing false witness or in things like business dealings...it's lying within the context of civil society. Hence it would be perfectly acceptable (expected even) to deceive an enemy in wartime. Even if this could be interpreted as against lying in general, it's important to note that the LORD is addressing humans whereas in the case of I Kings 22:23 this is God sending one of his elohim (spiritual being or angel) from the divine council to achieve his will on earth, and a similar thing is occuring in II Thessalonians 2:11. Sorry if it's offensive, but there are different rules for God carrying out his will for the world vs. humans on a social level.

Hang on.  It's important to deceive one another during war time?  War time?  Christ taught a message of extreme pacifism:

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

- Luke 6:27-31


That's not even shrouded in confusing old fashioned terms, it's very direct and straight forward.  No believer in Christ can go to war, because he's busy turning the other cheek and loving his enemies.  How exactly are you going to war as a Christian?  How do you kill those you're supposed to love?

Israel existed as a nation for a long time before the time of Jesus. Yes, they had wars. Things like the Ten Commandments and the Law were about how the Israelites were to establish a just society - it's not about geopolitics. By the time of Jesus the Jews are living under the oppression of the Romans. Jesus did not come to establish a theocracy, he started a subversive movement that undermined the power structures while still submitting to their authority (e.g. "So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s." Matthew 22:21). It's a nuanced view of government power vs. personal agency that was the reality - submit to their rule (pay taxes) but only God is worthy of your worship (don't worship Caesar, as was customary).

With that in view, is it ok that the Allies deceive Nazi Germany on multiple occasions? Germany had declared war on the US, this wasn't your neighbor down the street suing you. Can Christians in good conscience join the military, what if you're conscripted, or what if your taxes are used to fund war? There's a spectrum of responses, and I would say it is highly dependent on the specific details involved. Personally, in certain situations I would be okay with being conscripted (well, not okay with it, it would suck, and I'm probably too old now), but in other cases I would be willing to be imprisoned if necessary to avoid participating in something I thought was wrong.

So, as a Christian . . . when Jesus explicitly tells you to love your enemy and turn the other cheek, you are OK with being conscripted to kill others?  Is there a Jesus quote I'm not remembering where he said "but not for Nazis" or "you can ignore anything I say if your government tells you to do it"?

You have just demonstrated my point beautifully.  Interpretation of the bible and biblical message is largely up to the person reading it, and someone who has decided on a course of action will find something in the bible to support what he believes . . . even if it quite clearly goes against very straight forward and uncontroversial passages from the bible.

If someone's interpretation leads them to complete pacifism then I respect that view. I said I would be ok with conscription under certain conditions. The second gulf war, no. WWII, yes, because of the extreme injustice the Nazis were perpetrating. I tend to take the righteous personal conduct interpretation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turning_the_other_cheek#Righteous_personal_conduct_interpretation) of that passage. Of the four common interpretations, all move people away from interpersonal violence within society, and away from taking vengeance.

Right.  A valid interpretation is that Jesus is saying to never engage in violence.  Another valid interpretation is that Jesus is OK with you killing Nazis for your government.  Both valid, both totally contradictory.

If you can't see the contradiction here, there's not much point continuing the conversation.

You see a contradiction between justice and love. Which is more important, to protect the vulnerable or to love others? This type of question is not new, those opposed to Jesus were fond of asking similar questions.

Quote
Matthew 22:35–40
One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

What it means to "love your neighbor" does not always have a simple answer. Life is messy and complicated. If a neighbor is physically assaulting another neighbor and I have the power to stop it, then I'm going to, even if this requires violence. The sole purpose of this is to stop the injustice, and it must not continue into taking vengeance. This is loving both neighbors.

Jesus did not teach simple adherence to a strict set of rules. He was not strictly a pacifist (John 2:13–16). He violated prohibitions against working on the Sabbath by healing a man on the Sabbath (Mark 3:1–6). This is a contradiction of Torah, and this is exactly the point. To Jesus Torah is not about simple adherence to rules, it's about love, and it would be evil if he did not heal (“Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?”).

It's too easy to just follow rules, and this is what Jesus accuses the Pharisees of; they follow the rules to the letter of the law yet they don't love God or others. Their primary focus is self, proving their virtue. It is empty worship.

So where you see contradiction, I see Jesus challenging us to examine our core motivations, which may look different if different people. For the pacifist Jesus may ask "Are you doing this out of love, or because you don't want to get involved?" To the person breaking up a fight Jesus may ask "Are you doing this because you love your neighbors, or are you doing it because you want to be a hero?"

TL;DR - If you're looking for a comprehensive list of simple and dogmatic rules, this isn't what Jesus is about.

ETA: I should clarify something, think I may be in error. Jesus didn't contradict Torah, he contradicted what the Pharisees taught about Sabbath. 
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv on November 06, 2018, 07:22:30 AM
I'm not looking for a comprehensive list of simple and dogmatic rules, nor am I trying to disparage Christianity.

I'm supporting my argument that religion in general (and Christianity is no exception to this) tends to be full of 'choose your own adventure' style advice.  As you mentioned the answer to a given question looks different to different people.  This is why your earlier suggestion is likely doomed to failure.  Additional/deeper bible study is not going to bring Christians in line with one another because two people will read the same words and come to a different conclusion.  The extra study will likely just more firmly entrench differences.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Daley on November 06, 2018, 09:07:16 AM
For the record, I am not in agreement with much of what's been extrapolated on over the past 18 hours of scripture talk. If we're going to claim and defend the faith, we have to stop defending sin and making excuses for it, and delight in the simple truth it teaches. That can't be done by protecting earthly religious institutions and excusing sin in the body of believers as just "differences of opinion" by twisting non-negotiables into contradictions to justify our own actions or claiming that our Messiah, He who fulfills and perfects Torah and being innocent of all sin for the sake of taking the curse upon Himself to save us, was actually acting in sin and violating it or teaching something not in agreement with it. But then, that's the problem I've been speaking to from the beginning.

This is what grieves my heart and keeps me up at night.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: PKFFW on November 06, 2018, 01:51:18 PM
So where you see contradiction, I see Jesus challenging us to examine our core motivations, which may look different if different people.
It does seem contradictory to be claiming there are no contradictions in the bible and that there is one true message throughout but at the same time that the message might look different to different people.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: FINate on November 06, 2018, 10:35:46 PM
I'm clearly not going about this the right way. Nor am I explaining things well. I apologize.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Gary123 on November 07, 2018, 10:18:45 PM
May I jump to in here to provide an historical perspective. 

The Catholic Church was created long before there was a New Testsment. The Bible from the time of the Council of Laodicea (c. 360) until the local council of the church in union with Rome produced a list of books of the Bible similar to the Council of Trent's canon. This was one of the Church's earliest decisions on a canon until the Council of Rome (382).

Without reciting the entire history, the Bible as in New Testament for the ones who assembled the books and deemed it cannon was the book of the Church not a church of the Bible as you are discussing religion here. 

Your entire exchange is based on the post reformation idea of the Protestant break-aways which are churches of many denominations all based upon the Bible in various forms as altered by the monarchs or former Catholic Priests (like Luther) who founded those many denominations of Protestant Christians.

My point is for the first 1,000 years of Christendom, and continuing today for the some 1.2 billion Catholics in the world, the Bible is indeed a book of our Church and not the other way around. 

Therefore, Catholic theologians have certainly been debating many contradictions in the Bible for centuries but with the knowledge it was the Church that assembled the Holy Scripture and not the other way around.  This is just fundamental to understanding Christian doctrine and why many modern Bible based churches that teach if it isn’t in the Bible it isn’t Christian is rediculous. 

Clearly the Pope who approved the Volgate (first Latin fully assembled books of what is today modern Bible) didn’t think to insert every other historical, administrative or important church document or prayer (like Creed of the Apostles) into the Bible for obvious reasons.

So the discussion appears to be based on the false premise that Christianity comes from the Bible when historially that simply isn’t the truth.

Our western and Christian traditions are based on essentially three major influences, the God of Jereseluem (which Christ and his apostles followed and is the OT), the laws of Rome preserved in Cathoic cannon law making its way into European and later American laws, and lastly the Philosophy of the Greeks from which the Romans benefited imensly and was preserved by the Catholic Church.

Trying to discuss Christianity through the narrow prism of modern evangelicals whose entire faith is based solely on a version of the Bible altered by a British monarch to fit his state religion seems a bit of a dog chasing its tail.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: PKFFW on November 07, 2018, 11:13:07 PM
May I jump to in here to provide an historical perspective. 

The Catholic Church was created long before there was a New Testsment. The Bible from the time of the Council of Laodicea (c. 360) until the local council of the church in union with Rome produced a list of books of the Bible similar to the Council of Trent's canon. This was one of the Church's earliest decisions on a canon until the Council of Rome (382).

Without reciting the entire history, the Bible as in New Testament for the ones who assembled the books and deemed it cannon was the book of the Church not a church of the Bible as you are discussing religion here. 

Your entire exchange is based on the post reformation idea of the Protestant break-aways which are churches of many denominations all based upon the Bible in various forms as altered by the monarchs or former Catholic Priests (like Luther) who founded those many denominations of Protestant Christians.

My point is for the first 1,000 years of Christendom, and continuing today for the some 1.2 billion Catholics in the world, the Bible is indeed a book of our Church and not the other way around. 

Therefore, Catholic theologians have certainly been debating many contradictions in the Bible for centuries but with the knowledge it was the Church that assembled the Holy Scripture and not the other way around.  This is just fundamental to understanding Christian doctrine and why many modern Bible based churches that teach if it isn’t in the Bible it isn’t Christian is rediculous. 

Clearly the Pope who approved the Volgate (first Latin fully assembled books of what is today modern Bible) didn’t think to insert every other historical, administrative or important church document or prayer (like Creed of the Apostles) into the Bible for obvious reasons.

So the discussion appears to be based on the false premise that Christianity comes from the Bible when historially that simply isn’t the truth.

Our western and Christian traditions are based on essentially three major influences, the God of Jereseluem (which Christ and his apostles followed and is the OT), the laws of Rome preserved in Cathoic cannon law making its way into European and later American laws, and lastly the Philosophy of the Greeks from which the Romans benefited imensly and was preserved by the Catholic Church.

Trying to discuss Christianity through the narrow prism of modern evangelicals whose entire faith is based solely on a version of the Bible altered by a British monarch to fit his state religion seems a bit of a dog chasing its tail.
I'm not sure I understand the distinction but it seems from the bolded sentence you agree that there are definitely contradictions in the Bible.  Which would seem to be the very point GuitarStv was making.

As a side note, I was raised Catholic and was quite involved in the Church until age 19.  I was taught the Bible was created by the Holy Spirit working through man to express the will of God.  Whether the Catholic Church as an organisation was created prior to what we now know as "The Bible" or not, from my understanding what is written in the Bible is considered the "WORD OF GOD" and would take precedence over whatever the Catholic Church has to say on any particular matter.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: Gary123 on November 08, 2018, 06:35:15 AM
It makes all the difference theologically and historically.  Back to my original point, the Bible is a document of the Catholic Church.  Sure, other versions existed in history like that of the Gnostics but it wasn’t preserved or transcribed by the Vatican through the ages so disappeared from history.  The Catholic Church has been around for 2,000 years.  Of course, the Old Testament we got from the Judaism which already had a history going back to Abraham.

Catholics do believe the message of the Bible to be inerrant (without error) but not the literal stories or history.  Many are really alegoreis not literal history.  So maybe I should say anyone who believes the Bible is literally true will find many contradictions and have trouble with science.  The Catholic Church, on the other hand, defined the first scupientific method and does not find evolution contradictory to the Bible nor teaches the world is only 6,000 years old as do many Bible based Protestant churches erroneously referred to here as historically Christian.

Look at each Apostle’s different accounts of the same event of a Baptism. In Mark 1:11 and Luke 3:22, God says, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” But in Matthew 3:17 God says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” So which is it? Did God say, “You are my beloved son” or “This is my beloved son?”

To someone who believes the Bible is the literal truth of God, written by God, we have a contradiction.  But to the very folks who assembled the various books and decided which would be included and which would not this a minor difference in memory of each author written long after the events occurred.  Again, Catholics believe the full text of the Bible, studied as a whole, provide us the revealed truth of God but not again as a literal historical account especially when it comes to the Old Testament.

Take for example this blog.  If you told me your girlfriend left you and you miss her so much your heart is beating 100 times a minute when you think of her.  In another post you say you are in good health.  Which is it?  Terribly high blood pressure or good health?  Well that depends on whether I understand you were not speaking literally but instead figuratively.

The schism in the Catholic Church began when Martin Luther born in 1483, a priest who wanted to marry a nun, decided interpreting the Bible was not best left to the experts but anyone could make his own interpretation.  Thus we now have 40,000 Protestant faiths mostly all Bible based (exceptions are Mormons, Jahova Witness and others who added their own Scriptures) all arguing over true Christianity.  Of course, corruption in the Catholic Church combined with the advent of the printing press made the Reformstion not only possible but to flourish eventually forcing the Catholic Church to begin translating the Bible into the lengua franca.

A wonderful book, by the way, on the beginning of Western thought going back long before Christ is Cahill’s book, “the Gift of the Jews.”  He argues Abraham came out of the desert to form the first religion with a taught beginning and end to everything including the earth.  Prior to Judaism, most world religion was cyclical and saw spiritual beings as coming and going like cycles in nature itself.

Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv on November 08, 2018, 07:18:43 AM
When you say 'he Bible is a document of the Catholic Church', I'm entirely certain that I understand what you mean.  The old testament of the bible was written by Jewish people well before the Catholic church ever existed, and large portions of it were cribbed from other earlier religions and folklore (see Epic of Gilgamesh for example).  There have been many alterations and edits to the bible over the years, so you could certainly argue that the Catholic church has been heavily involved in the development of the modern bible, but they most certainly aren't the source.  Or are you only talking about the new testament stuff?
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: maizeman on November 08, 2018, 08:21:04 AM
When you say 'he Bible is a document of the Catholic Church', I'm entirely certain that I understand what you mean.  The old testament of the bible was written by Jewish people well before the Catholic church ever existed, and large portions of it were cribbed from other earlier religions and folklore (see Epic of Gilgamesh for example).  There have been many alterations and edits to the bible over the years, so you could certainly argue that the Catholic church has been heavily involved in the development of the modern bible, but they most certainly aren't the source.  Or are you only talking about the new testament stuff?

So I read this as meaning Gary123 is saying their view is that the bible as it currently exists is something assembled by a group of human beings (who can make mistakes or write contradictory things) rather than something directly assembled by god (who presumably cannot). I certainly know people who adhere to each of those views. The former has no problem accepting contradictions in the bible. The latter will come up with explanations for why apparent contradictions are not contradictions.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: SwordGuy on November 08, 2018, 10:38:55 AM
[The safety net you mention is the antithesis of capitalism.  It's giving goods and services without an exchange of work.  I

Well, in the example I gave in my previous post about the disabled kid . . . society takes care of him.  He's not left to die because of his inability to work.  So, sometimes removing capitalism means that those who would otherwise die, don't.
[/quote]

Is insurance socialist?    Or is it just prudent?


John Rawls, in "A Theory of Justice" came up with a way to evaluate a situation in away that would expose biases inherent in our own situation.  (I.e., smart people think one way of organizing society is right, strong people another, healthy ones have their own view different from unhealthy, etc.)

Basically, imagine everyone is a spirit negotiating how things will be run after we're all born into the earth.  We don't know whether our parents will be rich or poor, whether we'll be strong or weak, smart or dumb, etc.

In that situation, the rational thing to do would be to set up society so that if we had the right mix we could greatly succeed, but if we didn't, we would still be ok.   We would want to set up a social insurance to protect our interests.


Taxpayer funded social safety nets are exactly that.  Insurance against shit happening, whether it's before you're born or afterwards.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: GuitarStv on November 08, 2018, 10:51:36 AM
Quote
[The safety net you mention is the antithesis of capitalism.  It's giving goods and services without an exchange of work.  I

Well, in the example I gave in my previous post about the disabled kid . . . society takes care of him.  He's not left to die because of his inability to work.  So, sometimes removing capitalism means that those who would otherwise die, don't.

Is insurance socialist?    Or is it just prudent?

Generally, insurance is a private contract between a company and an individual.  If insurance is provided by the state to bring the poor up to a higher standard of life, I'd argue that it's a kind of roundabout socialism.


John Rawls, in "A Theory of Justice" came up with a way to evaluate a situation in away that would expose biases inherent in our own situation.  (I.e., smart people think one way of organizing society is right, strong people another, healthy ones have their own view different from unhealthy, etc.)

Basically, imagine everyone is a spirit negotiating how things will be run after we're all born into the earth.  We don't know whether our parents will be rich or poor, whether we'll be strong or weak, smart or dumb, etc.

In that situation, the rational thing to do would be to set up society so that if we had the right mix we could greatly succeed, but if we didn't, we would still be ok.   We would want to set up a social insurance to protect our interests.


Taxpayer funded social safety nets are exactly that.  Insurance against shit happening, whether it's before you're born or afterwards.

The thing is, taxpayer funded social safety nets are quite different than private insurance.  They are provided by the people for the people.  The goal of the taxpayer funded safety net is not to make money, it's to provide for the people.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: PKFFW on November 08, 2018, 01:04:41 PM
It makes all the difference theologically and historically.  Back to my original point, the Bible is a document of the Catholic Church.  Sure, other versions existed in history like that of the Gnostics but it wasn’t preserved or transcribed by the Vatican through the ages so disappeared from history.  The Catholic Church has been around for 2,000 years.  Of course, the Old Testament we got from the Judaism which already had a history going back to Abraham.

Catholics do believe the message of the Bible to be inerrant (without error) but not the literal stories or history.  Many are really alegoreis not literal history.  So maybe I should say anyone who believes the Bible is literally true will find many contradictions and have trouble with science.  The Catholic Church, on the other hand, defined the first scupientific method and does not find evolution contradictory to the Bible nor teaches the world is only 6,000 years old as do many Bible based Protestant churches erroneously referred to here as historically Christian.

Look at each Apostle’s different accounts of the same event of a Baptism. In Mark 1:11 and Luke 3:22, God says, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” But in Matthew 3:17 God says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” So which is it? Did God say, “You are my beloved son” or “This is my beloved son?”

To someone who believes the Bible is the literal truth of God, written by God, we have a contradiction.  But to the very folks who assembled the various books and decided which would be included and which would not this a minor difference in memory of each author written long after the events occurred.  Again, Catholics believe the full text of the Bible, studied as a whole, provide us the revealed truth of God but not again as a literal historical account especially when it comes to the Old Testament.

Take for example this blog.  If you told me your girlfriend left you and you miss her so much your heart is beating 100 times a minute when you think of her.  In another post you say you are in good health.  Which is it?  Terribly high blood pressure or good health?  Well that depends on whether I understand you were not speaking literally but instead figuratively.

The schism in the Catholic Church began when Martin Luther born in 1483, a priest who wanted to marry a nun, decided interpreting the Bible was not best left to the experts but anyone could make his own interpretation.  Thus we now have 40,000 Protestant faiths mostly all Bible based (exceptions are Mormons, Jahova Witness and others who added their own Scriptures) all arguing over true Christianity.  Of course, corruption in the Catholic Church combined with the advent of the printing press made the Reformstion not only possible but to flourish eventually forcing the Catholic Church to begin translating the Bible into the lengua franca.

A wonderful book, by the way, on the beginning of Western thought going back long before Christ is Cahill’s book, “the Gift of the Jews.”  He argues Abraham came out of the desert to form the first religion with a taught beginning and end to everything including the earth.  Prior to Judaism, most world religion was cyclical and saw spiritual beings as coming and going like cycles in nature itself.
I can understand that.  What I can't understand is how the Catholics figure out what the real message is?

Take the example you give regarding being in good health and also having a heart beat of 100 per minute.   So if someone believes the message is I am in good health and another believes the 100 beats a minute is a clear indication of ill health how do we know who is right?

From my experience Catholics are not much different to any other brand of Christian.  They take the easy way out by believing what they want to believe and putting everything else down to "allegory".
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: ChpBstrd on November 08, 2018, 06:45:34 PM
What if the point of Jesus is to escape speculative nonsense about Jesus?
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: ender on November 09, 2018, 05:25:20 AM
Trying to discuss Christianity through the narrow prism of modern evangelicals whose entire faith is based solely on a version of the Bible altered by a British monarch to fit his state religion seems a bit of a dog chasing its tail.

There are many modern Bible translations used by evangelicals that are not based on anything other than the original manuscripts.
Title: Re: Article: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism...
Post by: OurTown on November 09, 2018, 01:26:50 PM
The guy up above gave a shout out to the Gnostics.  Just so you know, a number of the Gnostic "scriptures" were rediscovered and have been translated from the Coptic.  It's an interesting spirituality/theology.  "Gnosis" is knowledge (as in "knowing" God).  The concept is one of insight, similar to Eastern enlightenment.  So instead of Jesus dying for your sins, the Gnostic journey is one of personal development and connecting with the divine spark within each individual.