- Capitalism and Alternatives -


Posted by: Darcy Carter ( UK ) on September 16, 1999 at 15:26:26:

In Reply to: Capitalist Logic posted by R Rockliff on September 14, 1999 at 20:37:29:

: According to the capitalist,

"the Capitalist". I lke that. You'll be calling me a "decadent western pig" in a phoney Eastern European accent next

it is incorrect to ascribe value to evolution and the forms of life it produces.

I don't say evolution has no value. Without it none of would be here and I am a big fan of the human race. What I said was that, as a natural phenomenon, it had no "purpose" - alhough in raising us from gloopy things in the ocean it is a more than welcome effect.

However, and most conveniently for the capitalist, it is perfectly correct to ascribe value to the various economic systems.

Of course. They are human constructs and will have value or not, as the case may be. Just as evolution does. The difference is that our constructions also have PURPOSE.

Would the capitalist come to us with his arguments for capitalism if he believed that capitalism were no better than socialism? Of course not. The capitalist has, most emphatically, entered into the world of values when he assails the intelligence of the socialist. In so doing he has made at least two value judgements.

I never claimed to be neutral. The main point of the post, though, was not that capitalism is better (though obviously that's my view). It was that, whichever system is better, it cannot have anything to do with biological evolution. This simple argument can be made without value judgements.

First, that capitalism is better than socialism, and second, that intelligence is better than ignorance. Like so many other things in capitalism, values are weapons that can be used by the "haves" against the "have-nots," while they can never be used by the have-nots against the haves. In the capitalist marketplace, the have-nots simply cannot afford to purchase a moral right for their cause.

This seems utter gibberish to me, though maybe I'm just having a bad day and have missed the point. But if you are saying that the "haves" have a monoploy on values, I strongly disagree. Opinions and values are free and open to everyone and, in capitalist societies, we are all free to express them.

: According to the capitalist, one can say that capitalism has succeeded, and socialism has failed, due to the fact that some recent attempts at a socialist state have perished. However, one can never say that evolution has failed if intelligence and justice perish from the human race, or even if the human race itself perishes from the planet in a fit of self-destruction.

Well yes - as i said above, evolution will have failed FOR US (or rather, we will have failed as a species) if we wipe ourselves out, but that may make way for an improved species. "Evolution" as a concept cannot "fail" as it does not have a purpose. Institutions ,such as governments, are humanly constructed for a purpose. They can therefore succeed, or fail, depending on your point of view and / or rationality.

The main point is that you can't argue for or against any form of government on the basis of Evolution. To do so is illogical ,whether the views argued for are right or wrong. "The world is largely capitalist therefore evolution has failed" is a silly statement whether your an communist, fascist or anything in between.

: The capitalist seems to think that intelligence is better than ignorance (he uses the ignorance of the socialist as proof that he is right),

No - I merely say that there is lack of logic in agruing about politics from the basis of evolution. I do not say that the fact that a given socialist has made what I see as a logical error means that capitalism is right.

and at the same time he says that evolution cannot be interpreted teleologically. Evolution has, in the human race, produced intelligence. That is a fact. Intelligence is preferable to ignorance. Whether or not that is a "fact" perhaps can be disputed, but the capitalist does not dispute it, he uses it as a bludgeon with which to beat the socialist. So, evolution has caused something to come into existence which we all agree is better than the alternative. Thus, it is perfectly reasonable to speak of the continuation of this process as "success," and the retardation or reversal of it as "failure."

No it isn't. The rise of our species is a beneficial (to us) result of a natural process. For it to have been a "success", it would have had to set out with this aim. Evolution is not sentient, and therefore cannot have an aims, or successes.

Also, you are a making rather large value judgment here, and entering a logically viscious circle. To argue for a socialism on the basis that not to be socialist is for evolution to fail, when the failure of evolution can only be said to have occured (even in a limited sense of regression from a result of evolution which we see as beneficial - intelligence) if we become less intelligent, is to say that socialism is more intelligent than capitalism. Not only are you making a value judgment that socialism is best (and there's nothing illogical in that per se), you are justifying it on the basis of your own justification (that it is more intelligent).

The capitalist can, of course, deny this, but in so doing he forfeits any logical right he has to claim that capitalism is better than socialism, and his criticism of socialism becomes nothing more than wanton meanness.

I don't deny that the development of intelligence is desirable. I deny:

1 - that evolution has a "purpose", and that failure to live under a certain political system means evolution has failed; and

2 - that even if we take intelligence as the yardstick of the benefits of the outcome of evolution, socialsim is necessarliy more intelligent.

Also, these arguments do not loose me the right to say that Capitalism is best. Only to say that it is best becuase it represents the success of evolution.

: Instead of self-contradictorily ascribing value to economic evolutionary processes while ridiculing the ascription of value to biological evolutionary processes,

As I said above, I do ascribe value to our species and evolution. It just hasn't got anything to do with politics. In making a disticntion between politics (human invention - has a purpose) and evolution (natural process - has effects, not purposes) I have not contradicted myself as they are distinct sorts of things.

the capitalist should address the real issue of whether or not the human species as a whole is best served by partition into mutually-hostile and exploitative populations. There is no doubt that this arrangement is highly successful for some of these populations, but what does it mean, in the long run, for the whole?

"Mutually - hostile and exploitative?" No value judgments there then. As to the reall issue - I absolutely agree. There is a debate to be had on how we should live, but you can't just say "my system's more intelligent; the purpose of evolution is intelligence; therefore anything other than my system means evolution has failed."

This makes your conclusion part of your premises and is therefore illogical.

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