| Saturday, August 16, 2008 - 12:27 pm |
JF: I will support an militarily aggressive, politically assertive, and pro-business government that says the American citizen should be safer, freer, and more prosperous than everyone else
Are you suggesting that post 11-9 (9-11), post-Afghanistan and post-Iraq America is any safer from religious extremism thanks to the militarily aggressive, politically assertive, and pro-business government of G. W. Bush?
Here in the UK (Blair was militarily aggressive and politically assertive and certainly more pro-business than Labour governments usually are) we are no safer than before. Arguably we are less safe; the 7-7 bombings in London resulted directly from extremist religious views regarding our involvement in Iraq. We are much less free; Blair enacted plenty of legislation to restrict our right to protest and our right to free-speech. Similar to American legislation, we are now also able to lock people up for a significant period of time without proof (although not indefinitely as the States can in Gitmo).
We always were more prosperous than much of the World, but the pro-business ideals of the Blair-era have been long-term disasters that will end up costing the country far more in the long run. Similarly, the US has seen its national debt balloon despite the pro-business credentials of Bush. Whilst you as individuals might be more prosperous, that national debt must be paid back at some point.
Veritas: I love how people actually believe the President is solely responsible for economic success/failure in this (more or less) free market. Anyone with half a brain recognizes that economic policy in this country is set by several hundred more people than just the visible figurehead of this nation - and that economic activity is in the hands of hundreds of millions of average citizens.
I agree that the President is not solely responsible for economic policy. However, it is the President that people can vote for every four years (and other representatives of his party). As custodians of the country, it is only right that they should be held responsible for the results of their economic policy. Unfortunately, it is often the case that elections are decided on the basis of the economy, even when economic troubles (Credit Crunch) are beyond the control of the government. It would be nice if governments were judged on their handling of these troubles rather than the perception that they brought it about themselves.
Veritas: Depressions and recessions are the artificial creation of interventionist economic policy. Without intervention, the economy would be constantly adapting to changing market situations - certain sectors failing, others succeeding, propagating a move towards profitable endeavors in the short and long term.
Would that it were so! Depressions and recessions are the result of human psychology and excessive risk taking. Intervention can redress the imbalances that arise in a totally free market. I would argue that the economy is blind to long term profits. It is all about returning a profit to the shareholders at the end of the current financial year.
Veritas: The issue is this - as the world has moved towards the theory of evolution to explain how we got here, the world has likewise attempted to ignore evolution in the human experience. Notice that there is a large movement to protect and care for the weak, to aid the bottom of the economic totem-pole, so to speak. This is contrary to evolution; the weak die out, and the strong prevail. Not that I advocate simply screwing over Grandma because she outlived her retirement fund, but it brings up an interesting question, perhaps the most revealing in a person's outlook on his or her world.
And think it through, because there are larger implications than just what is written in words. It may be that you come to the conclusion that modern society is entirely damaging to our evolution as a species, or perhaps it's a matter of our species being the first to transcend the (cruel?) laws of nature.
and FarmerBob: Still, much could said for a "societal evolution" approach to examine our current condition. Definitely think you're on to something there. Continue the thought.
Veritas, you are very far off the mark. This large movement to protect and care for the weak, etc., is also a product of evolution. Natural Selection is perfectly capable of favouring altruism if it benefits the species as a whole. The sacrifice of a few individuals (not necessarily their death, but other sacrifices be it materially or socially to care for others) can help the immediate group (tribe, flock, herd) survive and thrive. Take a look at pole cats; a number of them will be on the lookout for predators while the others are feeding. A single pole cat that abandons the lookout to eat may prosper in the short term: better fed, more likely to survive and produce off-spring favouring selection for selfishness whilst relying on the altruism of others for its safety. However, as selfishness becomes the predominant trait in the species, there aren't enough individuals on lookout for predators and the population is at risk of dying out.
In caring for the sick and elderly, we are not transcending the (cruel) laws of nature. On the contrary, these actions are themselves the result of the laws of nature.
Mankind has attempted to apply your brutal understanding of evolution to society before. It was known as eugenics and was adopted by the Nazi Party of Germany. More recently, Enron adopted it as part of its hiring policy. It fired 15% of its employees annually based on their performance. This resulted in artificial selection for the most ruthless individuals who were also the greatest risk takers. Large amounts of money plus large risk-taking: how else was that going to end?
Veritas responding to Dvd: Trying to assert that Political and Economic freedom are one and the same is simply not applicable. Sure, it does push forth your own bias in stating that parties advocating freedom of the political variant are good and advocate all freedom, while those against such political freedom are inherently negative. However, that is all it does - it pushes your agenda similarly to what you've accused of DavePat. You ignore the overwhelming majority of experts who have confirmed, indeed, that the political spectrum needs to be placed upon a dual-dimensional field - with one axis representing social or political freedom, the other representing economic freedom. This is not an American development - this is the prevailing convention of Europe, as well.
Firstly, I agree that the single axis model of the political spectrum is inadequate. The dual axis model of authoritarian-libertarian vs. free market-planned economy is far more accurate.
That said, it does not invalidate Dvd's analysis. In a first-past-the-post parliamentary system, a two party system will naturally arise (or may be mandated, as in the US). The system penalises minority (even significant minority) view points as only the candidates representing the majority are likely to win the seat. This gives the first and second placed candidates an advantage (if close enough, then some seats will go to party A and some to party B). A two-party system of government vs. opposition arises and anyone who votes for party C is unlikely to be represented in parliament.
For some reason, these parties tend to divide along economic policies rather than social, so we end up with a system where the authoritarian-libertarian axis crosses the party divide. Dvd is right that the left-right description arose from the French revolution and it was immediately adopted by elements in the British parliament (the King's supporters on the right, the more radical elements on the left). Strangely, the parties have managed to swap ideologies in the intervening centuries - the Republican Party used to favour an element of planning in the economy and the Democrats were for a totally free market.
I can't argue why this reversal occurred in the US, but here is an equivalent view from the UK (my knowledge of political science and history is limited, so take this with a pinch of salt).
The right were originally the land-owning classes. Their money did not come from industry, but from the land. With the rise of the middle classes, the power of money began to shift. The right opposed the free market so that fewer industrialists could raise enough money to gain a seat in Parliament (British 'democracy' in action through the Rotten Boroughs). Concessions had to be made and eventually enough industrialists made it into Parliament to promote the free market but they retained the land-owning class' support for conservative issues. A realignment of political ideologies took place with the left beginning to triumph the working classes rather than the middle classes leading to today's divide along economic lines.
Furthermore, I would suggest that American opposition and rejection of socialism and socialist values has more to do with propaganda resulting from the Cold War era than anything else. All too often I have heard socialism equated with communism. Communism goes much further along the authoritarian and planned economy axes than socialism does. Might I suggest that we all take the test at www.politicalcompass.org to establish where we all fall on these axes?
I get -5.25 on the Economic Left/Right axis (moderate intervention, short of full-blown communism - this actually surprises me, I didn't expect to be quite so far to the left).
And -5.38 on the Social Libertarian/Authoritarian axis (social liberal, although not quite as liberal as I thought I would be).
This puts me pretty close on these scales to Nelson Mandela and The Dalai Lama (!)