Free Markets, Free People

Quote Of The Day

It’s actually from last week, but too good of a comment not to highlight, even tardily [Via Synova]:

Americans believe that the normal state of things is not-violence…

Do you suppose that’s true? That that’s why we have such absurdities as people climbing in zoo cages to cuddle the animals? It would explain a lot of things.

It would explain, for instance, why the writer of that article is able to regurgitate a century and a half of Socialist propaganda and get commenters calling it “insightful”. Two centuries of modern capitalism have resulted in such ease, such comfort, such near-total safety and security, that Americans (at least, some Americans) don’t just take it for granted but consider it the normal state of affairs, so much so that they are ready and willing to smash the structures that created it, in the confident “knowledge” that the safety and prosperity will remain because they are “normal”.

Ric’s observation stemmed from a Firedoglake post (linked above) in which capitalism is noted as the source of violence. I think Ric pretty much nailed why such thinking is so absurd. Also see Synova’s thoughts on the matter, which are also quite good.

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18 Responses to Quote Of The Day

  • Thanks for the link!


  • Oh yeah, all the cosmos is peaceful, but …

    Galaxies like our own Milky Way were not born in their current state and they grow by cannibalising smaller galaxies in their path – this is exactly the same with Andromeda,” said Mike Irwin of Cambridge University’s Institute of Astronomy, a member of the international research team.

    “What these images tell us is that even galaxies that look beautiful and symmetrical when looked at through a telescope have structure and interactions that you don’t see,” Dr Irwin said.

    … sounds like some of the worst features of capialism.

  • Thanks for the link, Michael.

    Original sin or born guileless to remain that way until corrupted from without?

    Which describes humans?

    • Thanks for the tip, Sy.

      I’ve always struggled with the tabula erasa concept, even though I think we are basically born “good” and that our only bad feature as new entrants to the world is selfishness (as any parent can tell you). That newborn innocence that captures our hearts is “natural” too. The “Original Sin” factor, IMHO, accounts for the way we have to cope with a hostile world until we learn how to deal with the harshness in effective, congenial ways that advance the process of life rather than leaving it in its natural, brutal existence.

      So, in a way, I think the answer to your question is “both.” We are born with guile, but it is an innocent, self-centered guile that becomes overwhelmed with the demands of a hostile world.

      What do you think?

      • I think that sin != evil, at least the way we tend to think of evil.

        But yes, I very much agree with what you said about children. My brother lived with us when my four kids were little and he’d look at them in wonder (has his own now) and declare that they were all little scientists. They were always *trying* stuff. They didn’t all try the same stuff but you could see the wheels turn in their little heads as they had some idea and then just *watch* as they tried it to see if it worked or not. Some times it was problem solving and sometimes it was the discovery of lying or some other way of trying to get what they weren’t supposed to have.

        Bottom line… none of them needed to be taught to be bad. They were bright kids and they figured it out on their own. They had to be taught proper behavior and rules and self-control. It’s only one example.

        The normal state of things is not non-violence. Not for people. And the normal state of things is not non-violence for nature or systems or anything else. From the cellular level all the way to the collision of galaxies.

    • Can human nature be described in a single short sentence?

  • It would explain, for instance, why the writer of that article is able to regurgitate a century and a half of Socialist propaganda and get commenters calling it “insightful”. Two centuries of modern capitalism have resulted in such ease, such comfort, such near-total safety and security…

    Those two centuries of “modern capitalism” did include the New Deal, the Great Society and introduce Medicare amoung a few other things which appear to have been socialist in origin. Ric paints 150 years of socialism as pure propoganda and states that the panacea for the worlds ills is modern capitalism; in reply to FireDogLake saying the exact opposite.

    • But the New Deal, etc. were pronounced turns away from capitalism, not celebrations thereof. For the most part, the history of socialism is tightly intertwined with propaganda because it necessarily depends upon everyone pulling in the exact same direction for it to have any success. Thus explains its tendency towards violent coercion as well as its ultimate failure. As Synova suggested in her thoughts on the matter, capitalism is more in line with the human condition because it doesn’t presume any natural goodness amongst men; instead it only works if opposing views can be reconciled in a way that satisfies both parties they are better off with an exchange.

      • Micheal that is the most succinct explanation of the difference I have ever read, And it is spot on. Humans might sacrifice for those whom they do not know for a while, emergencies and wars are examples. But human nature is to look after yourself and your kin, and maybe some friends. After a while in any socialist system, there quickly becomes a new aristocracy, Those who are clever or well connected enough to game the system, and those who are not.

        And in time everyone becomes a slacker to some extent, doing only the minimum work to get by. Thus the ever more shoddy results of any socialist enterprise.

        • Yes it is a good explanation of why capitalism is well attuned to human nature on a person to person basis. However I don’t think social activism is anti-ethical to human nature, but rather a tool through which masses of people can attack privilege. If there already exists an aristocracy who are gaming the system, action against that aristocracy is justifiable.

          • NO! it is NOT justified if you are going to replace the system with something worse. That sounds like the Unabomber’s reasoning.

            Since every system will have some elites and some poor, it makes no sense to attack a decent system just because you are dissatisfied with some measure of difference between the classes.

            Revolutionaries are for the most part lack witts who end up controlled by a dictator, and in the history of revolutions, even peaceful reform movements, is that they are usually worse than what they replaced.

          • Not revolution, more pushing redistributive politics by electing socialist politicians. If there is an aristocracy it makes sense to attack them through the democratic process, because if nothing else it avoids the motivation for mass revolution. But them you end up with a new aristocracy that is the mob, voting itself more and more privileges. From tyranny of the aristocracy to tyranny of the masses.

            A never ending spiral of descent into one or another sort of tyranny.

            Happy thoughts.

  • “That newborn innocence that captures our hearts is “natural” too”

    I like the definition of innocence as;

    “Freedom from sin, moral wrong, or guilt through lack of knowledge of evil.”

    Emphasize the ‘lack of knowledge” part. Children can be quite cruel and brutal, just like any other animal. Humanity has to be learned, and it’s not always permanent.

    This seems to be an opinion that some people dislike, which is probably why “The Lord Of The Flies” was banned when I was in high school.

  • We are born animals.

    It is foolish and counterproductive to define animals as either “good” or “evil”. When an animal is hungry it seeks food. The fact that the food is another animal is part of the process only to the extent that it constrains food-gathering strategy. The animal is not making a conscious decision to deprive another animal of life; it has no process for making such a decision. Hungry, hunt, eat (or fail to catch food, and remain hungry). Mechanical, in a way.

    A baby starts out the same way. The condition is masked by the fact that the human infant is for all practical purposes a worm, devoid of any means of gathering its own food or even getting to where the food might be. It has no conscious apperception of the existence of other beings; that has to be taught as the infant brain develops the capacity.

    Even an adult human being isn’t much better. No fangs, no claws, no armor, not even strong teeth and jaws for biting off vegetation. Humans only succeed in groups, so our “instincts” (heritable behavioral characteristics) tell us to teach our infants socialization and provide our infants with the precursors for that teaching.

    Everything we call “evil” traces back, ultimately, to selfishness — to privileging our individual selves over the good of the group. This is what the Socialists build their concepts upon, and it’s hard to argue against because it’s true.

    The problem is that an agricultural society, or even more an industrial one, requires behaviors that are “selfish” in the context of group socialization. If you feed the children the seed grain, everybody starves next year. The resources taken out of society to build a factory can’t be used to feed the sick, house the hungry, or cure the homeless, and that’s not fair — that is, it doesn’t match our “instinctive” reactions to how-to-support-the-group. Agricultural and industrial societies are intellectual constructs that don’t match our “instincts”, and are vulnerable to people who can’t or won’t do the intellectual work to support them.

    All die. O, the embarrassment — and the confusion from people who aren’t reasoning but emoting, based on “instinctive” reactions. What the hell happened to all the food?


  • “Americans (at least, some Americans) don’t just take it for granted but consider it the normal state of affairs, so much so that they are ready and willing to smash the structures that created it…”

    A perfect description of Prof Erb. His ideology is the noose around his neck, and the values of freedom, capitalism, and individualism are the chair he’s standing on, keeping him from hanging himself.

    Instead of taking his neck out of the noose, the fool is busy trying to kick the chair out from under his feet.