• Isaac
    2k
    True, and yet...jamalrob

    The HDI is not a good measure relative to the things we're discussing here.

    1. It heavily weights school enrolment (1/9th of the total score), this heavily favours countries with younger populations, making it look like developing countries are doing better), and making population growth alone and indicator of development.

    2. It ignores income inequality in its GDP measures (1/3rd of the total score). Given that we know. Since the wealthiest 1% obtain around 15% of GDP, rises in this metric do not mean that the poor are any better off.

    3. Trading GDP for life expectancy (1/3rd weighting each) has the statistical effect of suggesting that any extra year of life has the same value, and that this value is linked to GDP. Again, the effect is to make it look like developing countries are doing better than they arguably are.

    4. Life expectancy and literacy are finite, GDP is not. Giving each an equal rating yet again favours developing countries (who can still realistically improve life expectancy and literacy) against developed countries (who can only improve GDP, effectively throttling their improvements to 1/3rd).

    Basically, the net effect of all this is to make it look like growth is good, that developing countries (where growth is greatest) are doing better than they arguably are.

    Furthermore, the data is highly ahistorical. It starts around 1870, and shows a steady increase since then. But a lot of extremely significant factors other than economic growth are correlated with that date range.

    1. The discovery and distribution of antibiotics. Hugely correlated with a drop in death rates. (particularly infant mortality). One single discovery which had nothing whatsoever to do with economic growth.

    2. The end of the colonial era. Colonialism was probably more responsible for rises in literacy rates than economic growth (and not really for good reasons). Schools were a means of freeing up women to do factory work and at the same time effect cultural change in the young. Education, measured by enrolment alone, is not always a good thing.

    3. The end of mass urban immigration. A function of increasing mass production and enclosure of common land is to push mass urbanisation. This leads to tremendous health implications and coincides with the start of the graph. Take India for example. Ancient Ayurvedic texts from pre-colonial India refer to "Middle age" from 30-60, and odd thing to say if life expectancy was below 25.
  • boethius
    351
    We’re not playing a Sims City video game where you pick and choose your designs of society, you have to deal with institutions in the current existing world in order to reorient and change the established order step by step.Saphsin

    What do I say that contradicts this?

    My point is that if industrialization is not sustainable then, if you care about future generations (if you don't this isn't an argument for you), industrialization will collapse along with the ecosystems.

    Maybe this isn't possible to avoid, that all attempts will fail.

    However, your argument seems to be "well, people like industrialization, and whether it's sustainable or not, we have need, for political expediency, to continue with it". Now, if you finish that argument with "... we need to continue with it until the ecosystems collapse", then your argument is sound and I have no analytical criticism. Our difference is one of values, I don't want the ecosystems to collapse.

    You can argue industrialization is sustainable, this is an an empirical claim and requires empirical investigation and a lot of time; if you care about the ecosystems and future generations you will carry out such an investigation, if you don't care you will not bother to investigate (you can claim to care anyways, but critical thinkers might not agree that's consistent with your actions). My point is that our view of the current system depends on whether we think it's sustainable or not. If you make an empirical review you can't come back to the myth of progress and just patch it up with "ok, maybe it's not sustainable but that doesn't matter".

    If global industrialization isn't sustainable, and if we view sustainability as a moral imperative, then we must try to change our production methods to something else regardless of the political enthusiasm from western populations, either due to not having time to think about it or due to being a beneficiary of the current system or due to profoundly not caring about sustainability. Such a political project is not guaranteed to succeed but if it's a moral imperative then it's simply the reasonable course of action to people who have that world view and ethics.

    I don't have analytical criticism of people who don't share my world view and ethics. If someone doesn't care about future generations, wants the status quo and reasons that they should just promote the myth of progress regardless if it's true or not, I have no analysis for them. Makes sense.

    My analysis is not directed towards people who don't care about future generations, but people who do, trying to untangle the myth of progress that might otherwise lead them to believe there is no alternative than an unsustainable system and that there are as good moral arguments for continuing an unsustainable system (graphs of gdp and whatnot) as there are for trying to become sustainable (even if it means dismantling global industry as we know it today, and rich people throwing their little rich people tantrums about it).

    If you show me the best path to sustainability is more global industrialization, that what has caused the problem will solve it, then I'll accept that's what we should do. But such an argument requires more than hand-waving and vague references to "political feasibility", it requires a very deep empirical investigation that our problems can, in fact, be solved with more industry and small changes to the status quo. My investigation into this subject, so far, leads me to the conclusion that it cannot; that the energy required to run global industry, in particular transportation of large amounts of material, has no industrial fix, and the only solution is shorten the length material travels as much as is feasible (and, importantly, that internalizing the costs of global industry makes shorter-material-flows more competitive; it's not a radical change to the status quo in terms of using markets, but rather a radical change to the status quo in terms of letting the rich and powerful disproportionately dictate the regulation of global markets through their various known schemes to avoid sustainable regulations -- the throwing the hands in the air and saying "ah, well, we can't do anything about that" is simply not true, we can do something about it).
  • Gus Lamarch
    80


    Socialism could have taken power over all the world in the 19th and 20th centuries, only if they had let their tactics of "doublethink" aside and truly accepted their egoistic nature.
    In reality, what most people don't understand is that Socialism truly worked (as a mean to hold on power), but Communism can never be achieved.
  • Wallows
    10.1k


    What do you mean by that?
  • Gus Lamarch
    80


    I mean that all socialists (at least the politically active ones) use the method of hypocrisy to their advantage and this is the "doublethink", they know that what they say in most cases is not true, but they accept it as the only truth, because for them, that "truth" is the best one in the immediate case. What is more egoistic than consficate the property of the people for their own state-proclaimed "good"?

    So in conclusion, Socialism as a mean to hold on power worked, but as a political ideology no, it failed miserably.
  • Valentinus
    665
    In regards to the discussion of the fetishism of commodities, it seems pretty clear from Marx that he was chastising identification of personal fulfillment with the acquisition of particular things. However one interprets his program to make the world better, that observation is his rebuke to others and the device by which his insight is turned against him.
  • boethius
    351
    I mean that all socialists (at least the politically active ones) use the method of hypocrisy to their advantage and this is the "doublethink", they know that what they say in most cases is not true, but they accept it as the only truth, because for them, that "truth" is the best one in the immediate case.Gus Lamarch

    Are you going to even define socialist for us?

    Would you agree with the first paragraph of Wikipedia:

    Socialism is a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership of the means of production and workers' self-management,[10] as well as the political theories and movements associated with them.[11] Social ownership can be public, collective or cooperative ownership, or citizen ownership of equity.[12] There are many varieties of socialism and there is no single definition encapsulating all of them,[13] with social ownership being the common element shared by its various forms. — wikipedia

    So please, defend why "all socialists (at least the politically active ones) use the method of hypocrisy to their advantage and this is the 'doublethink', they know that what they say in most cases is not true, but they accept it as the only truth" for this large class of theories, or then define socialism if you don't agree with the above definition.

    For instance, does socialism to you include regulation and progressive taxation? Or only collective ownership of one form or another as the wikipedia entry?

    I think a better theory of hypocrisy is with regards ideologies that view self interest as fundamental to market transactions and deregulation and lower taxes as good things that also happen to benefit the private interests of the speaker. Isn't it by definition self-interest to propose an ideology that, if implemented, furthers' one's self interest, and therefore, by definition, a hypocritical position?

    Not to say you are a proponent of such a theory, though you are welcome to elaborate your own view, but rather, because you have a keen eye for what kinds of people and theories are hypocritical, wouldn't this be a better fit to the hypocritical pattern: belief that self-interest is justified, therefore reasoning backwards to what ideologies promote one's self-interest (regardless if the ideology is true or not)?
  • Gus Lamarch
    80
    belief that self-interest is justified, therefore reasoning backwards to what ideologies promote one's self-interest (regardless if the ideology is true or not)?boethius

    This definitely describes the kind of people that enjoy the egoism of Socialism, but my point is that they use their rethorical power over lies to govern over the masses, i'm not saying that this is wrong or otherwise, i'm just pointing out that they don't accept their own greed.
  • boethius
    351
    In regards to the discussion of the fetishism of commodities, it seems pretty clear from Marx that he was chastising identification of personal fulfillment with the acquisition of particular things.Valentinus

    I agree it is also a prerogative, a chastisement as you say; my elaboration was is simply to clarify that it's not prerogative in a way we understand fetish today (for obvious reasons). It's also not without philosophical content.

    In my opinion, the philosophical content is that Marx is drawing attention to the religious transition happening in the development of capitalism: between devotion to the church and the immaterial well being of the soul and devotion to science and material wealth (all while claiming the previous social relations were also due to material conditions), in using fetish in the context of capital accumulation: that money is the new object of worship with mystical significance in a capitalist economy (greed of course existed before, but was not approved of; and church and monarchy could dominate merchants, and lords and priests could of course be accused of greed, but gold and power in feudalism operated differently than capital accumulation in capitalism).

    However one interprets his program to make the world better, that observation is his rebuke to others and the device by which his insight is turned against him.Valentinus

    Could you elaborate on this?
  • boethius
    351
    This definitely describes the kind of people that enjoy the egoism of Socialism, but my point is that they use their rethorical power over lies to govern over the masses, i'm not saying that this is wrong or otherwise, i'm just pointing out that they don't accept their own greed.Gus Lamarch

    But who are you talking about?

    If you're talking about Stalin, sure.

    If you're talking about every single person that has tried to unionize (take some degree of control over the means of production) or that has founded a cooperative for socialist beliefs or the people who overthrew the Russian Tzar (not knowing yet the Soviet Union would become a totalitarian nightmare) or the communists that resisted the Nazi's (and were tortured when found), I'm just not seeing the greedy hypocrisy in all these cases.

    You'll need to provide some argument that collective ownership somehow leads to the mental state you describe as a tendency, or then that the theory you are concerned with has an inherent contradiction such as self-interest based theories, we seem to agree, do have.
  • Valentinus
    665

    One way to think about it is to compare Marx with Veblen.

    Veblen emphasized how people bought stuff to fit in with the winning crowd. That is not a hazy vision of the "social value" of a product but a direct exchange of value to serve a specific need of the moment:

    Namely, to be perceived by the people who have power as a player, willing to play.

    That willingness to play is obviously a part of Marx's observations of class but it does not make all other observations along those lines "Marxist."

    There is a range of phenomena that was claimed by an explorer many years ago and the interesting stuff about the discovery is oddly not just about those claims. But it is also true that the claims cannot be dismissed simply because we have proof that we have gotten past them and now live in a different place.

    We don't have that proof.
  • Gus Lamarch
    80
    But who are you talking about?boethius

    The heads of states. Stalin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot, etc... The individuals that really took power, for me, they only used Socialism as a mean to inhibit their egoism, because they didn't accepted who they really were.


    If you're talking about every single person that has tried to unionize (take some degree of control over the means of production) or that has founded a cooperative for socialist beliefs or the people who overthrew the Russian Tzar (not knowing yet the Soviet Union would become a totalitarian nightmare) or the communists that resisted the Nazi's (and were tortured when found)...boethius

    I don't see how these people were integrated in my comment (at least the politically active ones), for me they were only poor, uneducated people that thought that in that moment, Socialism was the only way out.
  • boethius
    351
    The heads of states. Stalin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot, etc... The individuals that really took power, for me, they only used Socialism as a mean to inhibit their egoism, because they didn't accepted who they really were.Gus Lamarch

    Which is why I asked you to clarify what you meant by socialism. Most people do not qualify socialist as referring to the the leaders of dictatorships, but you are free to do so if you make your meaning clear.

    As for your statement here, if you read a biography of Stalin or Mao, for instance, they seemed fairly lucid and accepting of their tyrannical ambitions. Indeed, when Stalin got word from his agents in China (in charge of helping to organize the soviet sponsored communist revolutionaries there) that there was a sadistic and crazy Mao guy killing and raping and torturing (and really enjoying it) as well as ruthlessly getting rid of potential communist leader rivals (who doesn't even seem to believe in communism, just opportunism for power), and so these agents recommended needing to deal with or sideline Mao in some way, Stalin sent word back: That's my guy, put him in charge!

    However, that sadistic tyrant use social crisis and movements to take power is a constant throughout history, there is no special relationship to socialism.

    "Socialist revolutionaries" (at least as described by their opponents, whenever convenient) also brought the 40 hour work week, child labour laws, worker safety, and built the social welfare states in Europe that have the highest quality of life (Finland now the happiest place on earth).

    More so, the socialist movement that brought Stalin to power was explicitly vanguardism (the idea that a revolutionary elite need to seize power ... and ideas are pretty vague from there), which was an offshoot of more mainstream socialism in central Europe that was more democratic and incremental rather than revolutionary (that whatever socialists want to achieve, it must be first through sharing ideas and organizing with normal people and second through creating or strengthening democratic processes and third through those democratic processes; and if this results in compromise, especially in any short of medium term outlook, then that's fine).

    Vanguaridism was fairly fringe and just not that popular in central Europe, which is why Lenin and co. went to Russia during a chaotic civil society collapse (due to WWI) and tried the Vanguardism theory there (which, mind you, is not what the "Soviet" movement was about; the Soviets were local democratic units wanting more local rural self-management and at least some representation at the state level, and the first Russian revolution resulted in a compromise situation with the aristocracy, of having a democratic representational house as a check on a house of Lords (that controlled the military), but in the wake of disastrous military defeats due to aristocratic incompetence, the Bolsheviks (still fairly fringe) just seized the parliament buildings and managed to cut deals with enough police and military units to consolidate power; most people didn't know what was going on at this point, and keeping the Soviet name was a good marketing tactic to undercut potential opposition.

    My point is, social democracy or democratic socialism is just that, socialist and democratic and has a very different history than the Soviet Union and the CPP and it's also pretty clear why vanguardism would and did immediately produce dystopian totalitarianism states, and socialist opponents of vanguardism made all those arguments at the time (what they called the delusion of capturing the state).

    Now, you can decide not to call it a form of socialism if you want, it doesn't matter to me, but what I wish to draw your attention to is that there is a historical project of self-described socialists that resulted in very different conditions than the Soviet union and has developed lot's of policies that we now have the benefit of being able to simply check that they work empirically (universal health-care, free and equal funded education at all levels, robust public transport systems, rehabilitation based justice systems, paid vacation, paid maternity leave, homes for the homeless, ownership participation of key industries by the state, hyper strong labour union protection laws ... and collectivist defense programs such as conscription that provide a credible deterrent to invasion at a reasonable cost).
  • boethius
    351


    I don't think we're in disagreement here. I clarify Marx on the forum when others bring up Marx, but I generally don't bring up Marx myself in talking about policy in the here and now. Just as I would clarify Kant or Anselm or Aristotle or any other thinker if someone tosses them in and I thought it's a debatable point.

    I do, however, find it relevant the fear of Marx and the popular intellectual game of trying to rediscover Marx's points without ever crediting Marx and insisting that Marx was about something completely different and wrong ... by people that haven't read Marx.

    The issue for me here is more to do with propaganda; sometimes, as you suggest, there's no need to bring up propagandized names and new names can be coined for the same concept to out-maneuver the propagandists (such as saying 1% instead of capitalist ruling class). Other times, I think it's useful to call propaganda's bluff and unpack propaganda's game and explain what the words meant to the people using them at the time, or that still are, as this can strengthen individuals as well as the community's critical thinking skills in being more aware of how propaganda works.

    So I think we agree here that both points of view are legitimate.

    That willingness to play is obviously a part of Marx's observations of class but it does not make all other observations along those lines "Marxist."Valentinus

    Yes, my goal is not to retroactively expand Marx's writing to include everything arguably that fixes problems or then is a compatible extension with it. As I mention above, I wouldn't bring Marx into any specific contemporary policy debate, unless someone else does inaccurately and it's an opportunity to expose their ignorance and so undermine all of their other claims too.

    However, since this is a philosophy forum, as mentioned above, my view is Marx is a relevant thinker to understand like all the other important thinkers. It's useful to know when and where an idea originated and how it has developed since and what historical actors and movements, explicitly or implicitly, used or were influenced by the idea and what happened to those people and movements. Though name dropping long dead thinkers can seem like haughty erudition, my view is the opposite is more confusing as it leads people to believe that everything was thought of yesterday (a laziness that leads to an endless stream of rediscovery fever and praise).
  • 180 Proof
    740
    :clap: :clap: :clap:
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