- Capitalism and Alternatives -


Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on October 07, 1999 at 16:51:21:

In Reply to: guilty by inaction? posted by Gee on October 07, 1999 at 15:09:38:

: : as opposed to murder or famine caused

: The word caused - we'll come back to that.

: : yes, I remember it, I also remember explaining why I thought it sucked and why it explained nothing. Bring up the posts if you would like- I haven't mastered the fine art of linking, unfortunately. In general, I believe my criticisms revolved around unscientific methodology, moral equivalency, selective glossing over of certain kinds of killing (deaths by neglect), biased reporting, tortured logic, blaming the wrong people for crimes committed, conflation of terms, and other fallacies.

: It appears that you should re visit the site http://www2.hawaii.edu/~rummel/

: It explicitly explains the terms of the research, there is no glossing. The quantitative analysis is sound.

OK, if you want specifics I'll get specific.

1) The man glosses over the murders committed by the US, France and other 'democratic capitalist' nations, simply because these generally took place in other countries. When the US hired Nicaraguan thugs to murder civilians, does that absolve them of blame? Murder by proxy is still murder.

2) the man glosses over the deaths caused by deprivation, ignroing teh fact that in the absence of a genuine material lack of food, medicine and shelter, the deprivation is caused by human agencies and is therefore to be blamed on humans. See my explanation in the previous post.

3) the man blames all the deaaths in Vietnam on the Communists, ignoring teh faact that millions of people were killed directly and indirectly by the US bombing aand by US massacres at plces like My Lai.

4) The man doesn't control for population. The murder of 420,000 Brazilian Indians seems platry by Chinese standards, except when you realize that that effectively exterminated 84% of the population.

5) the man apparently balmes both sides for killings in teh Nicaraguan civil waar, ignoring the fact tht it was teh Contras who commmitted all the atrocities.

6) the man counts famine deaths undesocialist regimes but not under capitalist ones, etc.

I could go on. WHy should I look at the site again?

: : really? How about the fact that millions of kids every year die of food deprivation? To write off these as 'deaths by neglect" is:

: Appropriate because:

: 1) You are blaming a system for the deaths. Rummel blames specific governments, and finds a correlation between totalitarianism and state caused deaths.

Yes, and that's part of teh problem with his methodology; he doesn't accept that an impersonaal system can be responsible fro lot of misery, which naturaally stacks the death in his favor. Also, he doesn't count the victims of private crimes and murder worldwide. Why not?

: 2) The above is difficult to trace cause. It seems that you are saying that a person who doesnt rush to the rescue if he is able is the *cause* of a persons demise. This is a very loose interpretation of causality.

No. I'm saying that if you have a storehouse of food and you distribute it to people according to some system you have, then you are responsible for the outcomes that come about as a result fo your distribution. If the Chinese issued every family an equal amount fo dfood, aand as a result teh largest families starved, I would say that in this case it was the egalitarian ethic, applied to an inappropriate situation, that caused teh deaths- as well as the Chinese being personally responsible, of course.

: : 1) Biased. Of the 20-odd million killed by Stalin and the 40-odd million killed by Mao, the two classic examples of 'left-wing' murder, over half died of famine. If you include those dead as victims of 'Marxist-leninsim', then you must include the millions of victims yearly due to capitalism.

: No, those starvations were planned by the state. If a starvation is planned by the state in America then it comes under the same banner - statism, and is not to be foisted onto the notion of private property

Those famines were 'planned' by teh state only inasmuch as the state said, 'we are going to restructure the means of production, and if people must die, that's OK". It was callous indefference to human life that caused the death. May I point out that such an indifference is only too common among capoitalists when confronted with teh reality of stravation- they always say, 'well, in 100 years the country will be better off, you can't make an omelette without breakaing eggs,", etc.

I am not convinced of a moral difference bewteen the two cases. Callous indifference is callous indifference.

: : 2)This does not excuse the Leninists of blame, because in both case the famines were engineered by man. There was enough food to go around, yet the Chinese caused these people to be deprived of food therefore they are to blame. Likewise, there is enough food to go around today, yet we live under an economic system which allots food according to ability to pay.

: 'we' can afford to buy food with our ability to pay for starving people anyway, but were not - thats a question worth asking.

No, but neither you nor I are the ones who decdie how food is to be distributed, therefore we bear less blame.

: : my criticism of capitalism is not based on condemning idnividuals at all, but rather on teh ideology itself.

: Taking my comment above, perhaps this needs to be reconsidered

No, I believe it's Rummel's arguemnt that needs to be reconsidered.

: : Examples that the capitalists themselves have given me include:

: : 1) Victorian England, where they hung pickpockets and had urban youths living in unbelievable squalor.

: Where the industrial revolution happened because commerce was not restricted nor held in tight reigns by a self interested beaurocratoc 'class'. Thats what they probably mean.

Not my point. My point is that this system caused unbelievable suffering and repression, aand ought not to be emulated or admired.

: : 2) Hong Kong, where in spite of the traditional Chinese revrence for teh elderly, they have old men living in tiny rabbit cages that don't allow them to stand up- codnitions fit only for animals, not for human beings.

: Where low taxes and little interference created more wealth, more childrens educations and any number of outcast old men. Dont point to a minority of genuinely destitute people as an indictment of everything else. Thats what they are probably talking about.

I don't know how big this 'minority' is....apparently HK's povert rate is 6 times China's though I would be skeptical of that myself. In any caase, your argument sounds suspiciously utilitarian. Even a small minority living in rabt cages isintolerable and inhuman.

: : 3) Singapore, where they can throw you in jail for chewing gum.

: See Hong Kong, and then add that the government is not liberal.

utilitarianism again?

: : 4) south korea, where professing communsim can get you a cozy billet in prison.

: As with Singapore

: : 5) pre-Civil war America, enough said. I guess at elast teh North didn't have slavery- no, we were too busy exterminating the Amerindians....

: The bit between 1800 and arounf 1915 is more often suggested.

That's precisly when we did most of our killing of Amerindians. The Trail of Tears? Exterminating the bufflo? Wounded Knee? Andrew Jackson?
Not to mention our annexation of teh Philippines and our war against Aguinaldo.

: : Given the examples above, supplied right from the horses' mouth, can you balme me for being a bit skeptical of teh capitalist utopia?

: There has never been a 'capitalist utopia', there has never been a 'socialist utopia' hence the danger of using real life examples where picking faults is easy.

No, but I proposed Kerala, Sweden, Nicaragua, and other stataes as good examples. I can live with their flaws, I don't try to evade them.

: : Um, Somalia has effectively no government right now. is it free?

: From whom?

You tell me. I though that libertarians used 'freedom' in some sort of general, sacrosanct sense.

: Sweden has a large, interventionist government. Yet a nonpartisan analysis in '91 by Charles Humana ranked it the freest country in the world.

: You cast doubt upon another 'freedom scoring' system before. Dont imagine Humana is abov that.

I don't. The chart is in the 1991 UN Human Development Index,. I'll retrieve it and then you can poke holes in it.

: : because in that case I'm not buying.

: You dont have to buy it, its there.

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