- Capitalism and Alternatives -

You really know how to spoil a bad mood, Sam.

Posted by: MDG on December 22, 1999 at 10:09:52:

In Reply to: There are reasons for pessimism -- be sure to choose the right ones posted by Samuel Day Fassbinder on December 21, 1999 at 23:06:37:

: : The socialist revolutionaries, democratic socialists, and assorted reformers here seem to think that once the system is changed according to their prescriptions, life will get better because people will make more rational and compassionate decisions. Inequality will disappear.

: SDF: Our main hindrance appears to be that we don't have a mechanism for changing society.

All these deep thinkers past and present and we STILL don't have the proper mechanism? Will dialectics bring us that fine mechanism as yet unrealized, or will it take a catastrophe to create one? Given my foul mood today, I cynically place my money on the latter inspiration.

: : Technology will only be constructive, not destructive. Sustainability and durability will replace short-term avarice and rapaciousness.

: SDF: "Avarice" is a SYMPTOM -- we have to end the social systems that require it (capitalism, militarism, nationalism etc.).

You may be right. One way to find out, of course...

: : Blah. What's to stop the powerless of today, once they overthrow the powerful, from becoming oppressors themselves?

: SDF: What's to empower the powerless of today to overthrow anything?

Objection! Question answered with another question. Continuing along...

:At any rate, once the New World Order is put out of power,

"Once?" How about "if"

: there will be some urgent tasks at hand -- converting industries to non-fossil-fuel sources of power, educating people for democracy, restoring the ecology, putting people in charge of their lives, etc.

That's for damn sure. Unless, as you and Farinata point out, we've been caught in an Easter Island trap where's it's TOO LATE to convert.
If that's the case, you won't evolve into full democracy, you'll devolve into the world of Mad Max.

: : Isn't it possible that the traits of lust for power, selfishness, greed, and indifference to the suffering of others when faced with one's own desires are INTRINSIC to human beings?

: SDF: No, the anthropological record shows that human societies come in such diversity that these traits cannot be said to be intrinsic to human beings. See for instance Robert Knox Denian's The Semai: A Nonviolent People of Malaya.

Were these people isolated by geography? Are they still with us? I'm not disputing the implications of the book's title (I'll seek it out); after all, even though chimpanzees are violent, warring, carnivorous SOB's like us, their Bonobo cousins are peaceful vegetarians who make love, not war, so maybe these Malaya are the exception (which proves the rule?). If so, can we, I mean, are we willing, to learn from them?
Is Rush Limbaugh a vegetarian liberal?

: : Aren't we the dominant speices because we're the most vicious, the most willing to obliterate anything and everything that gets in our way, including members of other human tribes?

: SDF: No, human beings are the dominant large mammals at present because of our versatility, of our ability to adapt to a wide variety of niches. Other animals have had to give birth to specific physical forms in order to adapt to ecological niches -- human beings, OTOH, can use their brains, their opposable thumbs, and their social organization in order to survive almost anywhere.

Agreed, but don't discount ferocity as a major factor in evolutionary
success. Also, in human relations, reasoned discussion is effective, but threatening to beat the shit out of your opponent is too.

: Too much has been made of the "nature red in tooth and claw" version of Darwinian population biology popularized by T.H. Huxley. The Origin of Species is primarily a book about niche theory, about how animals and plants find places where they can survive.

I'll take your word for it, but nature is indeed RIT&C

: : Are the Frenchys and Doc Cruels of this world mere aberrations, or banal examples of the human race? Given mankind's history -- one of unrelenting violence and cruelty -- why the sense of optimism here?

: SDF: Frenchy and DrWhatever are examples of ideologically-motivated wilful ignorance.


:They became that way through hard work and practice, not "by dint of natural talent".

*Snark.* I'll let them respond to that one.

: : Perhaps our self-destruction is inevitable.

: SDF: No, it's just likely unless change occurs fairly soon.

That's more like it!

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