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Old 08-11-2011, 11:55 AM   #115 (permalink)

giant steps
'trane's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 15,190

i completely disagree. my argument is that there is more to be achieved when you view the world as a collective responsibility as opposed to reducing it to individuals who might win or lose (and to oblivion with the losers). i think a strong ethical argument (from evidence, not from faith) can be given as to why we are better off (both individually as humans and globally as an earth-bound system) if we eliminate suffering than if we compete to produce winners and losers.

i'd really like to know why you think the majority of the word's populations have had a standard of living increase due to global capitalism, and how you would separate the parts that are due to scientific and medical advances (which are quite often funded through wealth redistribution) from the parts that are due to pure capitalism. not to mention a longer-term outlook that may in fact be deeply problematic to the majority of the world in terms of environmental degradation and the legacy of finance-backed colonialism.

great dispair, alienation, depression and strife are some of the demonstrated outcomes of encouraging the philosophy of winning vs defeat. surely these are not elements of an increased standard of living, widely construed? of all the arguments against christianity (and i have made many points about not being a theist on this site), the opposition to charity is the most absurd. on this matter neitzsche was demonstrating his indifference to 'people' in favour of the world historical figure argument. (you really seem to be flip-flopping on your neitzsche). the idea of alphas in nature is also misplaced. we do not live in a natural environment, nor a natural social organisation. we live, deeply ingrained, in an artificial human construct. we absolutely have the chance to strive towards equity.

the other point worth mentioning is that capitalism, and especially finance capitalism, were the products of a particular historical context. north american capitalism owes its success largely to domination of humans and nature (indigenous populations, slaves, natural resource exploitation) that is no longer possible. without those elements it is tough to argue that success would have been the same. similarly, it is tough to argue that a collectivist approach, given the same starting point, would not have had a similar level of success, albeit in a different direction.

i would also argue that most of the happiness that is felt by rich humans (or 'winners') is blind to the suffering that it creates. if people had to bump up against the suffering that they are contributing to they would be less happy. by keeping our winners and losers as separate as possible, people can ignore the problems and feel better about themselves. we all fall prey to this. the psychological impacts of winning and losing are not to be ignored.

when you make the point that losers support socialism and winners free markets, you ignore a key element, namely the idea that humans might derive personal happiness and satisfaction from helping as opposed to from selfishness. many 'winners' have turned back to support the vulnerable rather than maintaining the status quo. liberal and bourgeois intellectualism has been very much about that, as has been much of north american activism and european socialism. in addition, the malaise of modernity, as taylor put it in his massey lecture, or the alienation that marx and also the post-structuralists have talked about, or the basic sense in many successful working people that there must be something more to life than what they have been achieving is a very real psychological thing. and arguments can and have been made that people find happiness in charity, in collectivity, and in 'helping' that they can't find simply in winning.

again, if you define success in capitalistic terms, and then base an argument on a natural order that favours alphas you ignore the human constructs in which we live and you ignore the enormous potential of the collective to achieve different sorts of goals. i am not arguing that under a system of global finance capital we need to restore communism - hell, i am a capitalist of sorts. what i am arguing is that any huiman endeavour needs a much broader persepctive than market forces can ever hope to achieve precisely because there are other, critical, ways to promote happiness and it is entirely within the grasp of human potential and human social organisation to move past the simplistic winner-loser mentality.
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