Sunday, July 4, 2010

Survival of the fittest: a political ‘Ideal’.



In 1857, an English sociologist by the name of Herbert Spencer, coined the term, “survival of the fittest“: the belief that evolutionary laws of natural selection, explained, social processes and behaviors- this theory is now referred to as “social Darwinism”.  Like Spencer, Karl Marx also believed in social evolution. However, unlike Spencer, who argued that: the poor and the sick should be left to fend for themselves; Marx believed that the state must prioritize the supply, production and distribution of comestible, clothing and domicile goods to society. This idea of Marx’s is known as “historical materialism” and it has been the subject of much scrutiny by those that can appropriately be called, the enthusiasts of Walter Lippmann’ progressive liberalism. The following tract will attempt to vividly explain what Marx meant when he stated: “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness”. This will be done to elaborate on David Held’s evaluation of Marx’s belief in Held’s book, “models of democracy” that: “it is not the state that underlies social order but social order that underlies the state“. Furthermore, the ideas of Marx will be examined against those of pluralists, such as Max Webber and Joseph Schumpeter. Finally, there will be some critical analysis of both ideas to determine my own stance on the relevance of  these ideologies in hitherto and henceforth human society.

 Although Marx was a German, in 1843, he left Germany for Paris; from where he was expelled in 1849 and eventually ended up in London- where he spent the remainder of his life. Based on his experiences in nineteenth-century industrial England, Marx was concerned about class inequalities created by industrial capitalism.

 To understand Marx’s indifference towards the liberalist battle for political equality, it is absolutely crucial to get a grasp of what Marx understood as “capitalism”, “alienation” and “class inequality“. In capitalism, according to Marx, are present two classes: the laborers and the capitalists or the proletariats and the bourgeois, respectively. The relationship between these two classes involves a division of labor. The capitalists supply the capital, such as raw materials and machinery necessary to organize production and control the labour process. The workers supply their labour, which turns those raw materials in to commodities- goods and services that can be bought and sold. One of the most important aspects of this relationship according to Marx, was that of domination. The workers sell their labour to capitalists for a wage, the capitalist in turn control the conditions under which the workers do their jobs and the hours they work. Marx argued that this relationship was one of unequal power. In large-scale enterprises, many workers are employed by a small number of capitalists who have the power to control their workers. In turn, specialised workers or managers are hired to manage the workers and ensure that the work is done according to the wishes of the employers- the mass of workers are thus left at the bottom.

 Alienation refers to the relationship between peoples labour and the fact that under capitalism, workers are separated from the things they produce, which thus have no meaning for them. Instead of the products of a person’s labour being something creative and of value, the worker is impoverished because their work is appropriated and commodified by capitalists. As more products are produced by machines, the greater the alienation experienced by the workers.

 Marx believed that this inequality and alienation was not only unfair, but would result in class conflict; which, according to Marx, would result in the overthrow of capitalism in favour of socialism: a society in which private ownership and wealth accumulation is replaced by state ownership; and ultimately, communism: a utopian vision of society based on communal ownership of resources, cooperation and altruism to the extent that the state no longer exists. The state is thus, always vulnerable to social cooperation that was constantly emergent. Ergo, “it is not the state that underlies social order but social order that underlies the state”(Held 2006, pg.103 - 108).

 

Pluralism:

In general English the word “pluralism” means the condition of being multiple(Pluralism - dictionary.com); in philosophy, it is used to describe, “a theory that there is more than one basic substance or principle”(Pluralism - dictionary.com); and in politics, it is a word used to describe “the affirmation of diversity in the interests of the citizenry”, making it a vital aspect of modern democracies (Pluralism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia). According to this view, no single, monolithic elite controls government and society. Instead, a group of specialized elites compete with one another for control.

  In contrast, Joseph Schumpeter’ political theory portrays the ordinary citizen to be a vulnerable and helpless person in a world dominated by the elite and their inter-elite feuds, much like Marx‘s communist theory. However, unlike Marx, Schumpeter’ theory seldom mentions power in the hands of intermediary groups such as community associations, religious associations, religious bodies, trade unions, business organizations and most importantly- society as a whole.

 According to pluralists and empirical democratic theorists, Schumpeter’s theory can be classified as incomplete or partial on the basis of its lack of attention towards intermediary groups. The pluralist model challenges Schumpeter’s theory by claiming that modern democratic politics is more competitive, and policy outcomes are far more satisfactory to all parties than Schumpeter suggested. Albeit, Schumpeter’s objection that capitalist or elitist oligarchies inspire government policy, echoes Marx’s argument against the liberal democratic goal of obtaining equality being hindered by capitalist interests. By this equation, the pluralist critique of Schumpeter is applicable to Marx as well. Pluralists refuted this claim that: the concentration of power in the hands of the competing political elite was inevitable; by extracting Max Weber’s idea that claimed, as mentioned above, the existence of many determinants of distribution of power and hence, many power centres (Held 2006, pg.158).

 Classical pluralists such as Robert A. Dahl and Charles E. Lindblom suggested that power is non-hierarchically and competitively arranged, as it is inextricably processed by bargaining between “interest groups”: a term used to describe business organizations, trade unions, political parties, ethnic groups, student unions, feminist groups, religious groups etc. Interest groups were structured in particular economic and cultural streams, namely:

a) Social Class

b) Ethnicity

c) Religion

There is no central decision making group in the classic pluralist model. Power is essentially distributed throughout society and interest groups may act as veto groups gradually to destroy legislation that they do not agree with. The government is there to mediate and adjudicate between different demands of different interest groups. Citizens must be given the right to vote once per election year between at least two competing political parties. Citizens have freedom of expression and freedom of organization to form interest groups to be vocal of these expressions. There is a system of checks and balances between the legislative, executive and judiciary arms of government which, diminishes the instance of corruption. All in all, it suggests that even though the major decision making process is vested in the government, small or large “interest groups” formed by ordinary citizens are influencing the government gradually: thus forming the pluralist view of democracy (Held 2006. Pg 161 - 165).

Marxists have dismissed classical pluralism as a narrowly ideological celebration of western democracies. They claim it to be optimistic and naïve. The ‘Elite Theory’ in particular, attacks classical pluralisms claim that modern democracy is the ‘ideal utopia’. The elite theory argues that a small minority of economic elites and policy planning groups, are sovereign in their control of power no matter what the outcome of an electoral term in a country. Via extensive networking among the business corporations, corporate boards, policy making networks and financial support of foundations, members of the elite faction can have considerable influence on policy making decisions within a country. This theory negates pluralism by suggesting that interest groups need high levels of resources and political connections or support to be able to contend for influence. This observation forms the basis for the theory of elite pluralism. Elite theorist Elmer Eric Schattschneider once said that “The flaw with the pluralist heaven is that the heavenly chorus sings with a strong upper-class accent” (The Haworth Press Online Catalogue: Article Abstract).

 


Personal reflection:

“A house may be large or small; as long as the surrounding houses are equally small it satisfies all social demands for a dwelling. But let a palace arise beside the little house and it shrinks from a little house to a hut…however high it may shoot up in the course of civilisation, if the neighbouring palace grows to an equal or even greater extent the occupant of the relatively small house will feel more and more uncomfortable, dissatisfied and cramped with its four walls.” - Karl Marx (Tracing the link between poverty and relativity) (Singer 2002, pg 190).


Since the 19th century, social scientists have shed light upon the relative nature of morality in human societies. That is to say, that a child is raised to exalt values coveted or preserved by their society. The early Finnish sociologist Edward Westermarck was somewhat of a beacon that shined upon the landscape of social relativism. Westermarck mentions that in New South Wales, the first born of every lubra (aborigine woman) used to be eaten by the tribe as part of a religious ceremony. A practice that can be deemed criminal according to the norms of the readers of this tract, yet, relatively sacrosanct for the Aboriginal tribe that Westermarck speaks of (Russell 1977. pg 52).

  In the same manner, I believe that capitalism has made the modern human negligent to modern slavery. It has done this by introducing monetarism that has enslaved people to sell their labour to compete for social stratification. This monetary system has left human society paranoid. We distrust one another everyday for fear of someone fooling us in to paying too much or too less for a product or service, offered by them or us, respectively. The price tag on commodities, as Marx pointed out, has led to “commodity fetishism”, where we constantly judge ourselves or others by the value of the cars we drive, or the wrist watches we wear: we are determined by avarice. In the case of States, the might of a state is judged by its military arsenal rather than the quality of life it offers to its citizens.

People are enslaved in a mindset that is set to exalt cupidity. Yet, politicians have done little or nothing to change this. Egalitarianism seems impossible when in fact it is true that, the Earth broke away from the Sun five billion years ago; we are all the same substance, and thus have little reason to fear each other.

 We live in an age when environmental issues should haunt us, yet we(the bewildered herd as Walter Lippmann called us) are astoundingly unaware of the means of propelling out of this umbra. Technology is what has been humanities greatest achievement. A quality that sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom is the fact that we can consciously invent things to solve and alleviate our daily complexities.

 Recent political debates have been hovering around environmental issues, and power production has been one topic central to this. At present, we possess the ability to tackle these issues with minimal use of scarce natural resources such as coal, gas and oil. Yet the representatives of the Roman Empire of our time: the United States of America; has managed to muster up solutions that are tedious at best. Nuclear energy, they say, is the present solution, and ten years of research could give way to an alternative bio-fuel or viable solar energy excavation; when at present, there is an energy source present that could provide enough to suffice the requirement of all the nations on earth: geothermal energy (energy excavated from the replenishing heat generated by the earth’s core).  A report by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2007 concluded that the worlds geothermal reserves could be up to 13,000 ZJ(zettajoules) of energy, with about 2000 ZJ being easily utilized with slight investment in research and development. An alarming amount, considering the entire earth consumes only 0.5 ZJ a year (Source: Geothermal.inel.gov the_future_of_geothermal_energy.PDF).

  I have to admit that I was not aware of the availability of this technology and resource until I saw an otherwise trite documentary: Zeitgeist Addendum. It is always important to take such works with a pinch of salt so I tried to confirm the data offered in that film myself, and it turns out that the means to pursue this resource are certainly available. In fact, the IGA (international geothermal association) has been around since 1988. Why then has there not been enough investment towards promoting this sustainable and renewable source of energy? Why are countries still trying to pollute the atmosphere by tapping in to their coal deposits to produce energy?  Although there have been a number of geothermal plants setup around the world- including one in Islamabad for a private office building by Pakistan's own Shan Geothermal- the promotion of this fantastic new technology has been very menial. 


So, basically, where the prospective fiscal spending on defence in the U.S will touch 790 billion US dollars in 2011 (Source: whitehouse.gov, FYI 2011 Presidents budget), the world has not enough money to run a billion dollar promotion campaign for Geothermal technology during the 2010 football world cup?

 On her internet blog, Naveen Naqvi writes:

According to Pakistan’s National Commission for Human Development (NCHD), about 80% of deaths and 90% of illnesses in this country result from diseases which are considered preventable. If that statistic wasn’t startling enough, here’s another. Every ten minutes, a child dies in Pakistan from a disease that is preventable.” (Source)

 In this age of economic progress, a hegemonic war machine can be ignited to devour nations after allegedly losing about 6000 of its civilians, but the daily global child mortality rate of 24,000 (9 million deaths annually, mostly from preventable and curable diseases) cannot be conquered? Alas, in the light of such realities, I am left with little faith in an aristocratic democracy- as it seems quite evident, that Marx, Engels and Schumpeter were right about them being on a capitalist leash. Slogans that exalt democratic values have left me to conclude that: “democracy is the opium of the masses”. My only hope remains in the emergent nature of social gatherings that ease the dependence on a monetary system to estimate value and embrace the true virtues of humanity: our power to innovate and our recognition of all being one. After all, we are the same substance that makes those distant stars glow.



References:

Held, D 2006, Models of Democracy, 3rd edition, MPG books limited, Bodwin.

Russell, B, 1977, Political ideals,Unwin Hyman Limited, London.

Singer, P, 2002, One World: the ethics of globalisation,  Swan house, Melbourne.

Pluralism - dictionary.com. Retrieved July 4, 2010, from:

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?r=2&q=pluralism

Pluralism(political philosophy) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia .  Retrieved July 4, 2010, from:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pluralism_%28political_philosophy%29

The Haworth Press Online Catalogue: Article Abstract, Retrieved July 4, 2010 from:

http://www.haworthpress.com/store/ArticleAbstract.asp?sid=DV6MNL6PSDE09KT5XHTMPJEM9081124E&ID=2581

the_future_of_geothermal_energy.PDF. Retrieved July 4, 2010, from:

http://geothermal.inel.gov/publications/future_of_geothermal_energy.pdf

For some data on Pakistani Geo Thermal reserves and capacity, go to: http://www.geothermal-energy.org/215,welcome_to_our_page_with_data_for_pakistan.html

For more on Pakistan Geo Thermal reserves and capacity go to: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a919555295~db=all?tab=references


14 comments:

  1. Pluralist democracy, with all of its flaws, has proved itself to be superior to Marx's socialism and 'state-slavery'. Modern democracy's flaws arise from the very issue of appointing a state to control the affairs of the populace. The state then proceeds to be dominated by the elite, those with ownership of 'capital'. Now imagine a state with complete ownership of this capital. Naturally a very human bureaucracy assumes the role of the elite, resulting in an even more oppressive society. A "behemoth" indeed. The east provides ample evidence of this. The scale of exploitation and oppression there is rarely paralleled.

    As for Engels' 'withering away of the state', it seems to be as much an oxymoron as buying f-16s and calling it a 'peace drive'. Giving total power to the state and expecting it to relinquish it on its own is foolishness. Nietzsche would have pissed himself. Optimism to the max.

    A major problem remains in Marx's failure to elaborate on the characteristics of socialism or lay down a time frame for the transition to communism. Later Marxists like the bolsheviks failed or refused to address these flaws and proceeded to turn Marxism into a dogma rather than continue to update and mould it.

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  2. Dear Maulana,

    Not only have you completely misunderstood the purpose of this tract but in fact, you've proceeded to peddle lies about Nietzsche's ubermensch (which only exhibits your very menial understanding of the dudes philosophy).

    Firstly, as the title suggests, this is a tract pertaining to the ideal that is "the survival of the fittest" (not marxism). So I've examined a few models of governance (including marxism and pluralism) to identify which one is exactly in the best interests of the entire human species. You say democracy has proven to be better, yet you haven't negated any of the examples I have given pertaining to present issues such as mass poverty, unacceptable global child mortality and environmental disarray caused by capitalism. Instead you've indulged in a mindless rant against Marxism. However, if you look at present socialist states like Ecuador, Venezuela and Cuba you'll see that your assessment about socialism's failures is very short-sighted and limited. In fact the greatest example of the folly of democracy comes from the largest democracy in the world, India- where the communist party has served its people far better than others.

    Secondly, if you read this tract with an attention span of more than three minutes, you'll notice that I have not called for any socialist revolutions here. In fact I clearly state that communism is a "utopia". I have also pointed out that democracy is a hoax if one believes in what the pluralists propagate (i.e many determinants of power, when in reality democracy is merely the governance of the haves over the have-nots), which was not only pointed out by Engels and Marx but also- Schumpeter (a canonical economist and political thinker that also believed in the demise of capitalism, except not in the way that Marx predicted)- and elite theorists. I have then drawn a "personal" conclusion which is that I'm not naive enough to follow this "bewildered herd" and beckon the "evolutionary laws of natural selection" to go in a better direction than the one in the movie "idiocracy". Too bad if you think that's marxist, because honestly this could be anarchism as well- it could also be a greater social democracy like Venezuela. Like I said, short sighted.

    Thirdly, likening everything Marxist to the Bolsheviks, Leninism, Stalinism and Maoism is as ridiculous as me assessing democracy as the first Athenian democracy from 450 b.c (where women and slaves had no suffrage). It's ridiculous and only shows how much of an OCD you have against the "M" word. By which, I am not surprised at all.

    Finally, Nietzsche was not a nationalist. He believed in a united species (the ubermensch, which is not only an individual, see UBERS from the t.v series Andromeda to understand this better maybe)- you know, like the whole "same substance" crap I was going on about. Any way, your criticism would apply to him as well- even if it were a singular Ubermensch because the Ubermensch has to empower the rest with "the will to power"; but what if, like Stalin, he/she doesn't?



    Thirdly

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  3. Maulana DiscoveredJuly 6, 2010 at 11:43 PM

    Firstly, You misunderstood me. I wasn't talking about his ubermensch fantasies, but rather about the will to power as the primary human drive. Was more of a joke than anything.

    Secondly, I don't need to negate your criticisms. They are inherent flaws of capitalism that will arise with the globalisation of capital and markets. Although it is interesting to note that states that are least democratic find it the most hard (or refuse) to shield their masses from this.

    Thirdly, you accuse me of judging Marxism on the basis of its later incarnations, yet you do the same to democracy. What you are criticising is the democracy concept as hijacked by neo-liberal capitalism.

    I never accused you of demanding a revolution, but the fatalistic tone of Marx and Engels in describing the path to communism forms a considerable part of the Marxist dogma I mentioned. With the 'dictatorship of the proletariat' and other such revanchist working class fantasies, Marx seems to drift into perilous territory.

    Let us not forget the atrocious record of 'Marxist' regimes. Need I remind you of Katyn, the 5 year plans, collectivisation, the cultural revolution, etc. Certainly as exploitative and alienating as any capitalist activity, undermining not only human life but also imposing fascist style repression on the individual.

    Please lets not include Venezuela (and the other South American states) as a success. The nationalisation policies that Chavez is employing have been tried before to really crap results. Venezuelas economy continues to run mainly due to its oil exports. I would like some other 'less blessed' economy to try similar antics so we could really see their practicality. Most of all it is far too early to judge the merits of this experiment.

    My point was merely that democracy is an absolute necessity for any concept vying for egalitarianism. Marxism as a political ideal is no better than any other. The way it is applied decides its merits and mistakes. As long as the individual is allowed dominion over his own affairs and existence. Existence under a Marxist hierarchical state machinery (as propositioned by the Communist Manifesto) has been proven to be as oppressive, exploitative and repressive as anything capitalism could come up with. True democracy would give individuals power to manage themselves completely without interference, something which includes sole control over their labour, their produce, their politics. Delegating this control to a bureaucracy is a mistake.

    Without representatives of the pluralists one could argue that the state is hijacked completely by the interests of the elite, bureaucracy or otherwise. While the pluralist model still allows some form of representation, the authoritarian model allows no space for input from the masses. As long as property (in the income producing sense) exists in the hands of the state or elites, there is no difference. The pluralist model at least allows the non-propertied classes, i.e. labour class, to group together (unions) and form their own lobby in government. This is particularly apparent in Europe, in countries like France and Austria, where unions wield considerable influence. Let us not forget that it was unions that brought down the very Marxist-inspired regimes, the supposed 'defenders of the working class', in Eastern Europe. Meanwhile, China and other 'socialist' states regulate worker activities to the second.

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  4. Well written sir! Tash you're an awesome writer dude! It's one thing to talk about this stuff and another to spend hrs writing and informing ppl. Why are you not getting published again?

    lolz i also see that the defenders of capitalism have come after you lol. haha maybe maulanaaa gee is JUI or a jealous journalist, I'm enjoying reading the comments too:)

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  5. Dear Maulana,

    I feel it's best now that I answer your interjections vis-a-vis:

    1) "I wasn't talking about his ubermensch fantasies, but rather about the will to power as the primary human drive."

    Firstly, I can see that you take the pragmatist approach to understand the "will to power" instead of a metaphysical approach. That is a fair comment because Nietzsche's thought uses both approaches. It should be realised then that the metaphysical approach is the one inspired by Schopenhauer' "will to life": the belief that the urge to procreate precedes all other goals for "life itself" i.e, sex precedes rationality in humans. Simplifying the "will to life" in one sentence is unfair because one might get discombobulated by such a simplistic definition of a much more elaborate thesis. However, I have not the time to discuss this in detail however, just for the sake of explanation still, it is better to understand the will to power as the urge to spread and thus preserve life (it has little to do with pleasure). It also relates to the general will to survive life threatening situations- illnesses, accidents, survivalism tactics etc. Schopenahuer was to Nietzsche what Nietzsche was to Iqbal. Albeit, I find the metaphysical approach more plausible because it is obvious that "eternal recurrence" (a purely metaphysical explanation of an infinite and homogeneous reincarnation of the universe) is the macro-ideal of Nietzsche and thus should be supplementing every thought of his.

    The pragmatist approach of understanding the will to power is that all principles i.e biological, epistemological, teleological, physical- everything, is the will to power. Quite a literal translation of "the world is the will to power - and nothing besides". This is an idolatry approach to Nietzsche because what the reader doesn't realise is that this principle defies Darwinian principles of evolution AND newtonian principles of matter. Although these are all theories, the idea that the will to dominate or the hunger to overpower is the principle behind everything is the least plausible one in this batch. For one, altruism can be found in the animal kingdom as well: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070625085134.htm . This to me negates the pragmatist approach to the will to power.

    What Nietzsche actually meant, is always up for debate. It also didn't help that his sister published his post-humous work on the will to power, since she was a Nazi- and as I mentioned earlier, Nietzsche an anti-nationalist.

    More tonight molvi sahab. Busy day today..

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  6. The will to life and the will to power differ on one penultimate point which is that instead of life (procreation, genetic transmission, etc.) the will to power gives primacy to the accumulation/assumption/maintenance of "power" (and all things associated) as being the driving force of humans. Nietzsche demotes the will to life to merely being a manifestation of the all-encompassing will to power. Personally I don't see much merit in treating this as anything but a metaphysical concept. And in turn I don't see many merits of metaphysics in itself.

    Altruism will start another endless debate. Although its one of the things Nietzsche and I agree on.

    Lets just ignore the will to power. As I said I mentioned it as a joke.

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  7. When I say "life itself", I don't just mean human life. Do you think plants are alive? What about planets and stars? Nietzsche doesn't demote anything. Eternal recurrence is based on the infinitely recurring "life cycle" of the Universe.

    Perhaps you should dabble a bit more in metaphysics before reading philosophy on your own.

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  8. The keyword here is 'you'. As I said, I'm not very big on metaphysics. Philosophy need not be the esoteric claptrap the pseudo-intellectual crowd loves to make it. Perhaps you should dabble a bit more into the material before searching for philosophies. hahaha...

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  9. "Perhaps you should dabble a bit more into the material before searching for philosophies."

    Material? Mate, that is a lot coming from someone who rejects the Ubermensch as a "fantasy", "eternal recurrence" and "and metaphysics" as an "esoteric claptrap?!". In any case, Nietzsche isn't Montesquieu- you need to study him academically to understand his : "philosophizing with a hammer" (with a tuning fork, with gentle taps that test the hollowness of idols- not with brute strength as most pragmatists might mistakenly presume).

    "The will to power" can not be understood by skipping his other aphorisms. Consider the "ascetic ideal(s)", the elaboration of which made him stipulate that values are not transcendentally provided but in fact human manifestations and that 'denial of life' is a nihilism. Religion empowered the idea of absolute truth by wedding it to "slave morality". But consider Nietzsche in today's secular societies where plastic surgeons are there to assist with the "denial of life" with their botox injections. Might that require a "revaluation of values"? Is that really, in essence that different from ancient Egyptian mummification?

    If you find eternal recurrence to be implausible, then perhaps you should enlighten theoretical physicists as well- with your "will to power" as the theory of everything. I wonder why they even bother with all this.. lolz.

    And you might also want to refrain from Albert Camus' works like the myth of Sisyphus. Especially since us pseudo-intellectuals have a habit of promoting philosophical maxims that are in fact nothing but befuddling, self aggrandizing pap. Probably started with the gentoo "samsara". After all, we're actually just in it for the benjamins, like uncle Milty- the "free markets" benevolent perpetrator of "shock doctrine(s)" with Generals like Pinochet.

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  10. Dude you're taking this way too seriously. Again you missed the point. I didn't mean you need to read the book. I meant material as in 'physical', empirically knowable, etc. Most materialists do think metaphysics is a bit wacky.

    For like the fiftieth time I mentioned the will to power as a joke. The will to power is just as metaphysical an idea as any other. I never said the will to power was the theory of everything. Don't even know where you got that from.

    Also, I never said there was anything wrong with pseudo-intellectual claptrap, just that philosophy isn't necessarily about "blowing your mind". Personally I have always found the idea of 'eternal recurrence' very interesting. Not just the Nietzschean kind but also the Ouroboros concept of old and of course good old Sissyfuss.

    Really man, you need to stop taking what i say so seriously. My only aim (conscious and unconscious) is to pull people's 'lullis'. Mission accomplished I suppose. hahah.

    If I'm not mistaken the original post had little to do with the merits of metaphysics and more to do with ideologies.

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  11. When you say "the material" rather than "material" it implies that I have a personally fabricated understanding of what is being said. Where as this dwelling in to "material" is actually known as "phenomenology": the philosophical examination and study of phenomenon (things that exist in a materialized form or are observably existent through all or at least one of the five senses), as opposed to the study of noumenon (a thing-in-itself, non-physical things only observable in intellectual manifestations). Metaphysics is the study of noumenon, and "Time" is a noumenon. Most phenomenology uses metaphysics at some point any way. I actually took metaphysics out of contempt because I studied phenomenology and wanted to make metaphysics look like a farce.

    Right, so back to the ideologies, I for one am glad this conversation happened because now I have a better glimpse of your mindset. It is one that is more convinced by phenomenological manifestations.

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  12. The success of a political idea will always depend on the proposition of this idea in relation to underlying social and political changes in a society- in order for such ideas to be successful then it need not give people anything more than what it claims to be the "truth". The problem is however, that at most times these truths are like horoscopes- they satiate the desire of many to know what the future holds but in reality, they are general and bogus.

    The 'end goal' for many political philosophies is the same- democracy can be best described as: a political movement initiated to distribute as much power as possible to the people. So the end goal or the promise of democracy is to have autonomy for each individual. Something that echoes the communist promise. Thus these are both ideals loaded with the same "general promise", like the horoscopes.

    Similarly in capitalism, Adam smith envisioned a utopian "market equilibrium": price mechanism balances supply and demand perpetually and perfectly; and in general the vision of economics is that of an "economic equilibrium": which is basically a lolz.. In any case, one of the critics of this "market equilibrium" is Schumpeter who claimed that the market is not as predictable as professed in Smith's idea. He also claimed that this flaw in the "market equlibrium" will lead to better solutions.

    Keynesian economics is the only sort that I know of (with my very limited knowledge of economic theory), that is somewhat relevant for the third world. This is what Keynes had to say about the general equilibrium: "The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is past the ocean is flat again."

    I don't see Milton Friedman or Von Hayek to be in the best interest of third world countries at all. And I believe they both worked within the general equilibrium(?).

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  13. As I mentioned in the articles conclusion, I find no more hope in an "aristocratic democracy". Which is to say, that rather than the power being distributed to the people (the goal of democracy), it is being polarized by the oligarchy which in turn is a faction made up of the elites (governance of the haves over the have-nots). I presonally think Obama has keynesian tendencies, which is hopeful, but the U.S foreign policy is also based on two other "Nobel" ideals.

    The first, Friedmans "shock doctrine": i.e the best time to introduce free market policies in a country is when it is in the midst of political disarray; his alliance with General Pinochet in Chile is something which makes one wonder (not without merit) whether the US has taken the initiative to create political unrest around the world on purpose (particularly in latin American during the Reagan years), to experiment with the shock doctrine. Naturally then, one has to wonder if this is true closer to home. Reading Naomi Klien's book also helps seeing Milton through this lense.

    The second, Kissingers "realpoltik": the pragmatist approach to politics as opposed to a moral one. Watch: trials of henry kissinger, for more details on this.

    Well, my point then is that if this is democracy, then I have no faith in its future. My only hope is in the constantly emergent nature of social gatherings that can stick it to these ideologues and psychopomps.

    Also, as a materialist, you should look in to "the materialist conception of history", and don't just wiki it. Read some peer reviewed works on it- take time to understand it- and then get back to me.

    My apologies if I came out too harsh. It's fair to say that you did "pull my lulli."

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  14. No arguments with what you said there. As I pointed out what we see today is not democracy, but the label 'hijacked' by neo-liberal capitalism. Gives people the illusion of power and self-determination, but really fucks them over when the elite interests come in.

    Keynsian economics again seems to me to be no great difference. It still reserves a role for some form of elite and still relies on private property to generate wealth, a concept which seems diametrically opposed to ideas of true equality. For there to be a real equal distribution of power, the issue of equal distribution of property needs to be resolved.

    Haha, yes, I know of the materialist conception. To be honest, its been on my to read list for quite a while, but such is the way of the lazy butt. It seems I came off as some sort of Marx-hater, when my only problem is with the deification of him and his philosophy. Its what happens when you're surrounded by 'pinkos' all the time. hahaha...

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