- Capitalism and Alternatives -

me binary?

Posted by: Gee ( si ) on October 04, 1999 at 11:09:57:

In Reply to: The leisure time argument si a notoriously weak one posted by Nikhil Jaikumar on October 03, 1999 at 19:34:23:

: Waitaminit, there is not a binary distinction between "civilization' and 'barbarism". technological progress and rises in teh standard of living (the two both advanced over time, but do not necessarily go hsand in handz) increased over a long period of time. capitalism developed within the last few centuries, it wan't soemthing that dropped out fo teh sky and suddenly suhered in a golden age;

Did I suggest it was an overnight success? However take the general trend over centuries and observe the impact of technology from the fist tools via farming, Roman building, Middle age iron and renaissance machinery and you have an upward tremd which escalates with technological advance.

standards of living right befroe capitalism took hold were better than those (in Europe) of a hundred years before, and so on. To find a point at which "99.9%" of people were living in squalor, and at whichj conditions frist started improving, you would have to go way back into history- long before capitalism was even invented.

Yes, wasnt saying that 1699 was squalor, but 1700 was wonderful. One needs to note the rapid exapnasion (in proportion of human population) in the last 3 centuries though, and particularly in this one - despite the best efforts of Hitler, Stalin and Zedong.

: Well, actually, to a degree technological progress can make you MORE vulnerable to weather vicisstiudes; e.g, agriculture and the invention of cities, necessitated a sedentary lifestyle, which made people more vulnerable to droughts, flooding, blights, communicable disease, etcetera. To quote colin turnbull, "what teh hunter lsoes today he can regain tomorrow", such is nbot teh case fro a farmer or a factroy worker. In general, improvements in teh standard of living ahev lagged behind improvements in technology.

The point is that tech gives you a blanket of safegaurds against nature - some areas may fail while others continue.

: see above. The only iron-clad argument you can make about human life getting better is that many diseases have been vanquished, multiplying human life expectancy by a factor of maybe four times. This is an immense achievemnet, but it is due more to the achievemnets of pure science rather than applied technology.

The latter is required to make the former of practical value.

: No one was paying the doctor who discovered penicillin to find a new antibiotic; he noticed one day that some mold killed bacteria, and tehre we were. Likewise, most of teh fudnamental acheivements of science had no profitability or economic application at the time tehy were made,

They were very long range 'investments', observe maxwell's equations and its influence on communications and physics.

: thus you can't argue that they came about because the profit motive.

Not all profit is money today. Knowledge is gain too.

: How, then, can you claim that science would not ahve advanced without teh profit motive?

I didnt argue it. I did argue that said medicines wouldnt get anywhere without the profit motive to encourage people to develop masses of needles, pills and distribution networks. A scientists who sneers at this as 'below him' condemns his discovery to waste.

: Erm, major factual problem here. The san of soutehrn Africa, and the Pygmies, today's prototypical exampels of hunter-gathering societies, spent only 3 hours a day frogaing fro food and doing otehr necessary things for survival;

Look where they live and compare with eskimos and desert dwelling people.

Can you link some evidence for leisure time - i see so much conflicting stuff.

: See the point above about intellectual curiosity being teh driving force behind so muchscinetific research

I liked Carl Sagan too.

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