Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Stone Age Economics of the Left: Who Would Jesus Bail Out?

Here's one from two years back...

Susannah asks what my take is "on ostensibly religious left-wingers" and "how they come by their horizontality?" This is a complex issue, in part because the world is so very different today than it was 2000 years ago or even 100 years ago. One of the reasons human beings have always had difficulty understanding economics is that they are exceedingly temporo-centric, and do not appreciate the much larger trends at any given time. They see the weather but not the climate.

But one of the things that never changes is the hysteria of the left. The hysteria results from the conflation of existential and economic realities. In other words, when it comes to existence, there is always something to bitch about. But if you shift this to the plane of economics, then you can imagine that otherwise insoluble existential problems are susceptible to an economic solution.

For example, you can give "free college" to everyone, but this won't alter the fact that 50% of human beings are of below average intelligence. In fact, you'll only end up diluting education, so that if someone wants to be educated, they will have to do so outside of college. With the exception of the hard sciences, we're pretty much at that point now. Once college is universal, it becomes worthless. And if Obama has his way, the same thing will occur in medicine: everyone will be entitled to their government-rationed portion of mediocre healthcare.

Now, when Marx was writing his critique of industrial capitalism in the mid 19th century, living standards were finally rising after hundreds, and even thousands, of years of stagnation. Workers were just finally rising above subsistence levels and beginning to be able to purchase necessities and eventually luxuries that would have been completely unavailable to them in the past. Pockets of Slack were starting to break out everywhere, instead of just being available to the upper-upper classes.

In short, the means of creating unlimited wealth weren't really stumbled upon by human beings until the rise of industrial capitalism. Human beings had finally discovered the key to economic growth, which came down to the magical combination of individual liberty, free markets, strong private property rights, sound money, and the rule of law (both to enforce contracts and ensure transparency). And then get the hell out of the way.

And even then, it took several hundred more years to tame the "boom or bust" cycle [d'oh!], to the point that people no longer expect economic recessions, much less, depressions. It is now as if people imagine that unlimited economic growth and prosperity are the norm instead of an extraordinary deviation from the past. And with that, a sense of entitlement is nurtured, which in turn is rooted in what the psychoanalyst Melanie Klein called constitutional (i.e., inborn) envy.

As we have discussed before, I believe envy must have had some evolutionary utility, or else it wouldn't have survived the process of natural selection. Since 99% of human evolution took place in small bands of hunter-gatherers, my view is that envy must have ultimately served the purpose of group cohesiveness.

Human beings couldn't possibly have survived as individuals, but only as part of a tightly bonded group. Therefore, anything that promoted the fitness of the group is likely to have been strongly reinforced. In a small group, it would have obviously been detrimental for one member to horde all of the resources, so we might say that envy is a mechanism that is actually selected by evolution in order to maintain our intrinsic communism.

In other words, communism is our default state (as seen in our immediate families), whereas certain traits and habits of mind associated with capitalism must be learned, among them, trust of the stranger, the tamping down of envy, delayed gratification -- and with it, a focus on the future instead of the present -- and an understanding that economic exchange isn't a zero-sum game.

Back when I was writing my book and trying to assimilate as much world history as I could in a short period of time, one of the more provocative books I came across was one called From Plato to Nato: The Idea of the West and its Opponents. Gress believes that we have been misled by scholars who, because they live in the abstract world of thought, overvalue ideas in general, but especially their own. As such, they came up with the idea of the "grand narrative" of Western history extending back to its roots in ancient Greece, a narrative based upon ideas instead of human behavior.

But Gress believes that such critical developments as liberty, democracy, and the free market weren't so much ideas as behaviors that people lived out and only later reflected upon, in the manner, say, of Adam Smith, or America's founders. In other words, no one invented capitalism, or liberty, or democracy, and that's the point. These things had to first be lived and experienced in order to be valued in an abstract manner.

I think we can understand Gress's point in analyzing the difficulty of transplanting "the idea of freedom" to the Middle East. Frankly -- and this is a little alarming to contemplate -- you can't just unproblematically transplant such an idea, because it is a value rooted in centuries of collective experience. I remember Dennis Prager discussing this on his radio program, and it came as a bit of a jolt to me. Like President Bush, I had had it in my mind that the desire for liberty was a universal human wish, something built into us. Therefore, all you have to do is "give" it to people, and that will be that.

Quite the opposite. Liberty is not a built in -- much less universal -- value, and I think you can see how this is critical to understanding the motivations -- or shall we say, the deep structure -- of leftism. Classical liberals wonder why leftists don't value freedom, but they shouldn't.

Rather, the question is why we do value it, because it is an obvious aberration in the human race. Most humans value security over liberty, predictability over change, conformity over individuality, and authority over self-rule. So when we see that leftists devalue freedom and (spontaneous) progress but exalt centralized authority and comformity, we shouldn't be the least bit surprised, for it is true of most rank-and-foul humans. Political correctness, statism, micromanagement of our lives -- these are all the natural consequences of a dread of liberty.

To finish up with Prager's thought, he noted that it was God who wanted humans to have freedom, not humans. For the vast majority of human beings, liberty is not a particularly important value, much less the most important one. They would just as soon barter it away for security, as they have done in western Europe.

Once one understands this, then much about the left begins to make sense. In Europe, we can see how the welfare state puts in place a system of incentives that creates a new kind of enfeebled man, but that's not exactly correct. In reality, it simply reveals man for what he is -- a lazy, frightened, selfish, superstitious, pleasure-loving, and lowdown rascal. Leftism aims low and always reaches its target.

Only liberty unleashes the genuine possibility of man, and reveals what man can be, as an alternative to the unimpressive specter of what he is. Leftist man is like a human being, only worse.

Much of this is laid out quite succinctly by Robert Sirico in the latest edition of the Hillsdale College Imprimis. Sirico points out that leftism wasn't always the anti-progressive, anti-human movement it has become. Rather, it began with relatively good intentions, especially if we bear in mind that the means of creating wealth were not at all well understood at the time (in the same way that physicians weren't trying to harm patients by prescribing leeches for every problem). As such, the early socialists naively thought that socialism could achieve what capitalism could not:

"The core of the old socialist hope was a mass prosperity that would free all people from the burden of laboring for others and place them in a position to pursue higher ends, such as art and philosophy, in a conflict-free society."

But there was the problem of human temporo-centrism alluded to above: "The Marxist prediction of a revolution that would bring about this good society rested on the assumption that the condition of the working classes would grow ever worse under capitalism. But by the early twentieth century it was clear that this assumption was completely wrong. Indeed, the reverse was occurring: As wealth grew through capitalist means, the standard of living of all was improving."

That should have been the end of socialism, but it wasn't. And that is precisely when it transitioned from something that could at least be defended on rational or humanitarian grounds to a substitute religion. And again, it is specifically not a new religion, but a resurrection of mankind's default religion.

Leftism is actually the abstract articulation of the "economic psychology" of Stone Age man. There is nothing new about it, which is why we see so much "born again paganism" associated with it -- the cult of the body, the exaltation of the senses, barbaric art forms, the vapid mystagogy of the "new age," the Obamessiah, etc.

What was truly new and progressive was all of the dynamic change wrought by the unfettered free market:

"Historians now realize that even in the early years of the Industrial Revolution, workers were becoming better off. Prices were falling, incomes rising, health and sanitation improving, diets becoming more varied, and working conditions constantly improving. The new wealth generated by capitalism dramatically lengthened life spans and decreased child mortality rates. The new jobs being created in industry paid more than most people could make in agriculture. Housing conditions improved. The new heroes of society came from the middle class as business owners and industrialists displaced the nobility and gentry in the cultural hierarchy."

In light of everything that had gone before, this was truly a miracle. But one of the less flattering characteristics of human beings is that there is no gift so miraculous, no grace so bountiful, that they cannot take it for granted. As such, another trait of the leftist -- as we all know -- is the conspicuous absence of gratitude, for gratitude is another spiritual value that doesn't come naturally to human beings (hence the need for it to be a Commandment). In one sense it must be cultivated, but in another sense it is a spiritual reward, since it frees one from the painful constitutional envy that motivates the leftist -- the ouch they can't stop screeching about. Even when they have run out of other people's money.

Put it this way: from a world-historical standpoint, the "glass" of wealth is exponentially larger than it was 50 or 100 or 1000 years ago, and it is growing all the time. But no matter how big it gets, the leftist is condemned to seeing it as half full and obsessing over the fact that someone else has more. Thus,

"In the midst of all this change, many people seemed only to observe an increase in the number of the poor. In a paradoxical way, this too was a sign of social progress, since so many of these unfortunate people might have been dead in past ages. But the deaths of the past were unseen and forgotten, whereas current poverty was omnipresent. Meanwhile, as economic development expanded in the nineteenth century, there was a dramatic growth of a middle class that now had access to consumer goods once available only to kings -- not to mention plenty of new goods being created by the engine of capitalism."

Needless to say -- at least for a classical liberal -- "The poor didn’t get poorer because the rich were getting richer (a familiar socialist refrain even today) as the socialists had predicted. Instead, the underlying reality was that capitalism had created the first societies in history in which living standards were rising in all sectors of society. In a sense, free market capitalism was coming closest to realizing what Marx himself had imagined: 'the all round development of individuals' in which 'the productive forces will also have increased' and 'the springs of social wealth will flow more freely.'"

Oh well. At least when the Messiah of Mediocrity has finished destroying the engine of economic progress and imposing his idea of "fairness," there will be no one left to envy.


julie said...

And even then, it took several hundred more years to tame the "boom or bust" cycle [oops!],

(I thought a little illustration was in order...)

Rick said...

RE envy, we’ve all heard the old one “socialism fails every time it’s tried.” But it’s not exactly true. There is one set of conditions under which it hasn’t been tried: When the United States becomes like all the others. Or better yet, worse. It’s the pony on which they place all their bets.

Rick said...

Am I dreaming or did Spengler have a blog up this morning and now it’s gone? It was about Obama’s new bag of give-aways to Iran. The last couple of paragraphs I thought were real goodies and central to Bob’s post today.

julie said...

Instead, the underlying reality was that capitalism had created the first societies in history in which living standards were rising in all sectors of society.

Serr8ed had a post up earlier this month with quite an interesting visual aid, and the following observation:

The video's author is decrying the 'gaps'. I for one celebrate the excesses, because those with excesses tend to improve the rest. Take for example, China. Modern China embraces some facets of capitalism, see how they took off? That's because of Wal-Mart I think.

It took me a while to find the link this morning, because I made the mistake of googling "income disparity gap." page after page after page shrieking about how horrible it is, and how it's only getting worse. Oh, the unfairness! Oh, the humanity! Virtually no recognition that by any human measure, everybody's standard - of living, of income, of health - has been increasing where capitalism is allowed to take root (and even in many places where it hasn't, by virtue of the efforts of well-meaning people who want to help).

julie said...

Ricky, you might be right about Spengler; he's got two posts lined up in my google reader this morning, but I haven't checked them yet. It wouldn't surprise me if he unpublished something. If I can find the relevant quotes, I'll put them up. You may want to add him to an rss feed; he did that last week, too.

Rick said...

“In other words, communism is our default state (as seen in our immediate families)”

Bob, you’ve said this before, although I don’t think you included “default state.” I don’t remember much of the context surrounding it the last time you said it, other than I didn’t entirely agree with it . Could you explain what you mean here, because now it seems central to the post. Last time I don’t think it was central to the post.

Gagdad Bob said...

Well, in my family we share and share alike. Everyone is equal, except that some four year-olds are more equal than the rest of us.

Rick said...

In other words (and I’m not in love with the idea or anything) but I’m not sure it’s out default state. Maybe our predominate state. Last night reading HvB, I jotted down, “Freedom came before slavery.” It had to, I think, just as Truth does not require the lie to exist, but not the other way around.

Rick said...

Same here, Bob :-)
But if you had two sons, would you take the fruit of ones work and give to the other?

Rick said...

Thanks, Julie. I’ve been meaning to figure out that RSS feed thing. Does it send an email to you if someone publishes a new post?

julie said...

I use Google reader (thanks to Robin's suggestion a while back) - it doesn't send me an email, it's basically a web page you log into, and add "subscriptions" to the websites you like. It looks more like a blogroll sidebar, and anytime someone posts something new their link is bolded with the number of new posts showing next to it. It's also readable on mobile devices, in modified form.

Rick said...

Bob, of course it all depends on the situation, but at some point “justice” is noticed in the commune, or the lack of it. And at some point communism is rejected for what it truly is – unfair. So that person’s sense of justice must come from somewhere. I say it is built-into you, and either something happens to it along the way (what you call the default state) or it doesn’t happen to it.

Gagdad Bob said...


I think it depends on how you look at it. From the horizontal perspective, slavery clearly came before freedom. But from the vertical standpoint, freedom is just as obviously the prior condition. However, since we inhabit both the vertical and horizontal, I say that we "evolved" into our prior condition. This is how I am able to reconcile temporal evolution and atemporal spirituality.

Rick said...

Thanks, Julie. I was hoping it sent out an email :-(
I’ll survive :-)

Gagdad Bob said...

In short, the task of spiritual growth is to become what you already are. This formula will come into play later, in discussing the Theo-Drama.

Gagdad Bob said...

i.e., reconciling God's being with his apparent "becoming"....

Rick said...

Bob, that’s it!

julie said...

Rick, was this it?

Then there is the mess in Pakistan, where rooting out a few thousand Taliban fighters has driven a million people from their homes. It is remarkable that the United States feels comfortable requiring that Pakistan employ methods against irregular forces embedded in a civilian population that it decries elsewhere. A comparison of the behavior of Pakistani forces in the Swat Valley to that of the IDF in Gaza doubtless would show far greater concern for civilian casualties on the part of the Israelis.

What the tinkerers in Washington miss, and what Ali Allawi understands, is what he called the “crisis in Islamic civilization,” the title of his new book, which I reviewed recently in Asia Times Online. Unless Muslims can restore Islam as a “complete way of life” embracing the public as well as the private sphere, writes Allawi,

The much heralded Islamic “awakening” of recent times will not be a prelude to the rebirth of an Islamic civilization; it will be another episode in its decline. The revolt of Islam becomes instead the final act of the end of a civilization.

Existential despair motivates flight forward. There is nothing that the West can give to Iran or the Taliban that will satisfy them; nothing short of a sense of triumphal restoration of Islamic civilization would suffice, and too many Western interests stand in that way of that.

I hesitate to paste too much more, since he obviously had reasons for pulling the post, but if there was something else you had in mind I'll try to find it.

julie said...

Rick, I know there are some feed readers that work via email. Maybe someone else uses one that they like; they all seemed too annoying to me.

Rick said...

Yes, Julie, that’s it!
The last two paragraphs I thought were the home run.

Rick said...

Thanks, Julie.
I know, email RSS feed, be careful what I wish for :-)

Petey said...

That man can objectively pronounce on Ida proves that there is actually no link that can link animal and man. In other words, man is not just another "link" to some future animal, which he would have to be for the orthodorks Darwinians. Rather, man is the end of evolution, since he cannot be surpassed. Darwinian evolution allows for no "end," but if there is no end, there can be no truth, truth being unsurpassable.

However, man is a link between creation and Creator. In short, man as such is the "missing link" between God and cosmos.

Unknown said...

"...Who would Jesus bail out?"

He'd have to ask Algore.

VIDEOWall Street Journal: "[The creator of Beavis and Butthead ] Director Mike Judge’s new animated television series “The Goode Family” is a ... clan of environmentalists who live by the words “What would Al Gore do?” Gerald and Helen Goode want nothing more than to minimize their carbon footprint. They feed their dog, Che, only veggies (much to the pet’s dismay) and Mr. Goode dutifully separates sheets of toilet paper when his wife accidentally buys two-ply."

Their cars sport bumper stickers that say things like, "I Support Our Troops and Their Opponents As Well"

Van Harvey said...

"Since 99% of human evolution took place in small bands of hunter-gatherers, my view is that envy must have ultimately served the purpose of group cohesiveness."

Hmm... I hit a sticking point on a vice successfully serving as a virtue in any way. I suppose it depends upon what the meaning of 'envy' is. The common substitution of it for a desire for 'fairness', I can see as working here... "It's not fair that you have all that roast beast, while tiny flint goes hungry, lets spread that around.", and on the primitive campfire level, the distinctions between Justice and Fairness aren't readily apparent.

Every step in the development of civilization has required that some next level bottleneck distinction be made between between two or more concepts blurred together in the more primitive developments. Nomadic hunting and settled farming was a biggee. Revenge and Law was another.

Failing to distinguish between labor and slavery, and of course the value of the individual was (is) one, and held civilization to the pottery ceiling reached by Greece and Rome, for thousands of years. Thanks to Christianity, Capitalism & the Industrial Revolution (and the correct distinctions that were made by Greece and Rome), we surged through the shards of their limitations, but the urge to meld them together again, championed by the left, is constantly trying to pull us back down, and keep us from breaking through the next stained glass ceiling.

And of course, making those distinctions, requires ascending to a deeper higher vertical perspective, enabling you to see and travel farther than before; without doing so, the horizon remains fixed in place and others will eventually come to take your place.

Legalisticaly or Johnny Cashalisticaly?

Van Harvey said...

"In light of everything that had gone before, this was truly a miracle. But one of the less flattering characteristics of human beings is that there is no gift so miraculous, no grace so bountiful, that they cannot take it for granted. As such, another trait of the leftist -- as we all know -- is the conspicuous absence of gratitude, for gratitude is another spiritual value that doesn't come naturally to human beings. In one sense it must be cultivated, but in another sense it is a spiritual reward, since it frees one from the painful constitutional envy that motivates the leftist -- the ouch they can't stop scratching. Even when they have run out of other people's money."

Yep, hard to feel gratitude for taking what you deserve from people to unfair to just give it to you. Staying flat and low, is so much more satisfying to the apeitlite.

Van Harvey said...

Hey, did someone ok Walt going on vacation? Seems like his two weeks ought to be up by now... Skully? Ben? Might want to get ahold of him before the shore patrol does.

Just sayin'

julie said...

Re Walt, I left a comment at his place yesterday instructing him to check in (how'm I supposed to get my O→Ksional ration of frothy Tea if he doesn't dole it out?). Haven't heard anything. I'm hoping Robin or someone with his phone number will give him a call...

Going back to evolution and missing links, just another delightful demonstration that Petey is correct.

Re envy as an evolutionary advantage, clearly there is some truth to that. I have only to watch my dogs - social pack animals - interacting with each other regarding possession of objects: a bone, a favored spot on the couch, anything that holds one dog's interest for more than a second or two. It doesn't matter what one has - if the other has something, the first wants it. In my house, the behavior isn't particularly useful (though it is amusing, as they apply their canine intellect to the challenge of tricking each other out of something they want), but in the wild and in a pack it certainly must be. For one thing, it is a spur to establishing leadership, roles and hierarchy, by creating conflict that must be resolved so that the fittest is in charge. Thus, the whole group ultimately benefits.

Presumably, among humans it took somewhat different forms, but the usefulness remained.

Van Harvey said...

A good depressing chart on serr8d's site ( lots of interesting visuals there... thanks....).

Someone was asking what if the economy evens out, will I then give Obama any credit (and you'd have to include Bush in that for initiating it, but somehow I don't think extend equal 'credit') for it (might have been Lance?).

Assuming that some semblance of upholding the law and contract remain, the market will eventually even out, that's not in question (knocks wood bookshelf). Where it evens out at, and whether it can or will climb back up and above again, is the question, and I don't think Obama or the little 'r' repubs have the answer.

Having a steady market, and even a rising stock market means little on it's own. Whether your baseline begins at $7 or $90, does.

And the governor on that system is, as it always has been, is rooted in individual rights and property rights and an objective rule of law in "a nation of Laws, not men"... but that requires understanding that there is something above both.

Not seeing the likelihood of that at the moment.

goddinpotty said...

You know, the original Jesus was a bit of a commie himself -- all that stuff about forsaking posessions and giving them to the poor, and how you can't serve God and Mammon both. Fortunately the new Jesus 2.0 has gotten beyond that kind of crap.

Van Harvey said...

ehhh... I know I'm obtusely sticking on semantics, but envy isn't about establishing dominance or any other semi-beneficial action, it is about destroying what you don't have or are not worthy of.

Certainly it piggybacks on the fairness/justice mixture, but if any benefit is established, it is due to whatever measures of fairness or justice managed to see the light of day... as far as envy is concerned, it'd be 'satisfied' (loosely speaking) with there being no benefit to anyone and the lights put out for all.

Van Harvey said...

Lynn said "I Support Our Troops and Their Opponents As Well"

Heh, that'd be much funnier if it was less true.

julie said...

...envy isn't about establishing dominance or any other semi-beneficial action,

Ah, see, I think there's the problem. Maybe I'm wrong, and I certainly won't put words in Bob's mouth, but I'm thinking of envy from an evolutionary standpoint, wherein it is simply the desire to take what someone else has (not necessarily to destroy it, even though that's often the case). It is divorced from morality (in a sense both horizontally prior and vertically posterior, in that there can't be a divorce without there first being a marriage...); the only question is whether it's an effective tool for keeping a critter alive long enough to pass along its genes. And so, it seems, at some point it must have been.

From the standpoint of nature, it's sometimes tough to see where a lot of behaviors, such as eating ones own young, can be beneficial to a species in the long run. Good and bad don't enter into it - they only exist from our point of view because we have been graced to be able to make the distinction. And to be perfectly frank, in a lot of human cultures such morality really hasn't been established, either. It must be learned.

Van Harvey said...

gettinuppity, you're reading comics by al franken? Certainly can tell a lot about somebody by the 'books' they read.

Van Harvey said...

Julie said "...but I'm thinking of envy from an evolutionary standpoint, wherein it is simply the desire to take what someone else has (not necessarily to destroy it, even though that's often the case)..."

So my division of it into justice/fairness/envy is one of distinctions that are not made from the earlier, lower perspective.

Hmmm.... maybe... but that seems more like just plain old 'taking what I want' than envy... not seeing my way past that one... but I get what you're saying.

sehoy said...

Most Americans, deep down, are the decendents of people who rejected serfdom.

We are very different from those who chose to stay in Europe and live under serfdom.

The differences became very clear during the time I lived in Germany.

Europeans are still serfs. Americans are not.

Homo neanderthals and homo americanus.

Cory said...

Dimwits see Jesus as a social worker and a collectivist. They cannot get outside the mind parasites that dictate reality to them. The whole notion is so stupid and involves such a gross misreading of scripture it boggles the mind that it persists. But it does and it is used to justify wickedness that Jesus would condemn in a heartbeat (and will).

ximeze said...

They cannot get outside the mind parasites that dictate reality to them.

Gee Cory, is the nicespeak for
goddinpotty really ought to pull it's head out al franken's butt?

Rick said...

“…leftism wasn't always the anti-progressive, anti-human movement it has become. Rather, it began with relatively good intentions…”

And Cory, you are right. To me the perfect shocker was the new one Jesus tore Peter when he only wanted to protect Him (Matthew 16:22-23)

Later on, back at the ranch, He builds His church upon him.

Rick said...

RE Walt, I was hoping Ben had Walt's cell number. I thought that's how Walt got hold of Ben when he went missing once.

ximeze said...

Remember that story a week or two ago about US Military confiscating & burning trooper's Bibles?

Well here's the rest of the story.

QP said...

Walt's back! Serving Frothy Tea™

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...


Hi guys!

I heard from Walt today, and thankfully he's still alive n' kickin'! I was just about ready to give him a call. Anyways, here's an excerpt of his e-mail he sent just a few minutes ago:

"I also noticed your good wishes at my site. Fret not, amigo, all is
fine at the Hermitage. I wrapped up my work gig this week, so now I
can get back to re-screwing my head on straight -- it always seems to
wind up twisted, know what I mean?

I spent the last two weeks off the net, except to check for emails. I
even deleted my own site so I wouldn't go there. Actually it was
pretty refreshing in many ways. I'm not sure what I'll be doing next;
I've gotten used to the lack of stimulation!"

And this in his second e-mail, replying to some questions I had:

"Yes, I just don't know what I want to do next with the website, but like you say, something will come up as time passes."

Walt is gettin' in touch with his inner Sensei and slackin', and sortin' stuff out. And Walt is still taking and readin'

Godspeed Walt! :^)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

And what QP said! :^)

hoarhey said...

I'm still waiting for the first commiemarxistleftistasshole to show me where in the Bible it says that it's the State's responsibility to take care of the poor.
Amazing how Jesus hating commies use the Bible to justify their power hungry, humanity destroying ends.

carpal tunnel said...

Say and while you're waiting, try looking for evidence anywhere (you don't have to stop at the Bible) that constant whining is a mark of spiritual maturity.

Or is this just a token stop on your periodic border patrol?

perlhaqr said...

Bob, of course it all depends on the situation, but at some point “justice” is noticed in the commune, or the lack of it. And at some point communism is rejected for what it truly is – unfair.In subsistence situations like Bob seems to be talking about, you don't really have the problem of leeches. There were no "welfare queens" in Navajo tribes a couple hundred years ago, but there was definitely a lot of what could be taken for "communism" there. Simply because it required the effort of everyone to keep the tribe alive, and thus, people were supported, even when they were less productive. Not that we're talking about particularly spectacular living conditions here.

This actually leads to some really annoying cultural consequences these days, because conspicuous wealth is seen as something to be ashamed of. So people don't try too hard to rise above the level of the tribe.

Ephrem Antony Gray said...

This new freedom 'freed' us from existential slavery, but also opened for us new possibilities of slavery. As it is said, the higher one ascends, the further one may fall. In gaining this material success, we traded some things which we have yet to figure out that we lost. Socialism is in some ways a way to try to 'get it back' - but coercively and with a narrow perspective.

"Salty is the bread of exile" - said Dante. We want the good aspects of community without the community organizers, as it were. Only then can we 'have our slack and eat it too'...

Back to active slacking!

cde said...

'Darwinian evolution allows for no "end," but if there is no end, there can be no truth, truth being unsurpassable.'

Even though this point is made to no end, that evolution will always be here, in reality that's not what it does.

Technically one would say that evolution as a whole either "gets stuck" in a local optimum or finds the global optimum (much less likely).

Now what does "finding a local/global optimum" mean in practice ? Well simple : that a single species is the only one left and that all possible gene changes lead to the death of that individual.

What does that mean in practice ? Well, simple, that there is only 1 set of genes that will be left, and all others will be totally extinct. There will be no different species, no different races, not even different genders. There will just be one race of essentially clones that inhabit every last patch of the universe that can be inhabited.

That's the end of evolution. It is, of course, why we simulate evolution : we want to know the end of a specific evolution.

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