- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Not necessarily

Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on November 01, 1999 at 10:35:59:

In Reply to: Suicidal Races Warrant Dictatorships? posted by Deep Dad Nine on October 31, 1999 at 17:45:28:

: :Gee: In all seriousness I think it would have to be a dictatorship of sorts - because in each case there are no doubt counter-interests and counter views to the 11 goals you have stated. In any kind of democracy those counter views would be heard, no doubt compromises and reversals would occur in some areas and I'd wager that none of the 11 goals given would be accomplished in the full extent that they are worded.

: (I also hold that goal nr 11 is incompatible with goals 1-5, (maybe 9&10) - each of which require restrictions to work)

: Let me quickly list some groups/people which, in a democracy would argue to reverse the goal and with whom compromise or concession may be necessary - and in which a dictatorship could simply be ridden over with force, I'll include some for groups too.

: DDN: I guess I’m a dictator then. Personally I’ve always had a very hard time understanding why things like eating and breathing have to be compromised. I’ve come to believe that a civilization that cannot “progress” without compromising its water, air, food is fundamentally out of touch with reality and hence complete annihilation is inevitable.

SDF: It may not be necessary to advocate dictatorship directly in order to achieve your aims. What's more, you may get somewhere by clarifying the definition of the word "dictatorship" as you use it. From what I've seen of Gee, (and it's been for the most part short little quips, responses to quotes taken out of context, etc.) the Gee argument is a milk-and-water version of Robert Nozick (Anarchy, State, and Utopia), and it may (or may not) in fact be the case that a "dictatorship" is defined according to him as a government which levies taxes. Nozick believes in the thesis of "self-ownership," i.e. no institution, nor anyone, has any right to claim any of my property or anything that is mine.

: (I’ve entertained the idea that this might even be a desirable consequence since nobody really knows why we are here in the first place, but my instincts say that it is in our best interest to keep the human/Earth experiment going as long as possible).
: I would also have to wonder whether or not such a civilization were even indigenous to its own environment or whether or not it had been interfered with by some external, intelligent force. But I digress.
: With eminent destruction at hand, what’s wrong with a dictatorship? What’s the point of “freedom” if its going to make us physically and psychologically unhealthy and perhaps even kill us?

SDF: Great point, one B.F. Skinner has made many times. Freedom is freedom to screw up, and nobody dare say a word against it in a society that has struggled so long and hard against aversive control.

: How about instating a GREEN dictatorship until we’ve reached the point in our evolution where we understand that polluting our own air and water is bad for us AND unnecessary. Perhaps, in the interim, we’ll also pick up on other crucial little tidbits, like learning that a symptom is not a disease; that putting people in prison for being sick is barbaric; That genetic engineers are like two-year-old children playing with gasoline and matches; That when twelve years of reading instruction results in mass illiteracy, an intentional criminal act of massive proportions has taken place.

SDF: The problem is of course that dictatorships become self-serving vehicles for the dictators. Consensus democracy, where the will of the people is created and planned at meetings where the voices of all capably present are confronted seriously, is much better. It's also important to end the dictatorship of the ruling classes before anyone designs anything new, and we still don't know what the world would look like when THAT happened.

: My point is that most of us seem to be lacking some very basic common sense. The objectors to my proposals that you’ve listed, for the most part, are people that apparently have no problem hurting someone else (even hurting themselves) if it means they are allowed to remain in some petty comfort zone where they never have to change and their mostly selfish desires can be fulfilled as expediently as possible. As a whole, their political positions demonstrate that they would just as soon see the whole ship go down with them on it rather than become responsible caretakers of the earth and each other.
: These people are thinking only of themselves, whereas I believe am thinking of EVERYONE (or at least trying to) as are many of the people in your “For” lists. I might welcome a dictator that would enforce respect for very basic common denominators like food, air, and water in the name of the collective. I think I’d be willing to exchange the restrictions and freedoms that I have now for those that I imagine under such a regime. And I’d have very little pity for all the selfish little brats that would be screaming and whining for their oil refineries and strip mines. Industry and technology would not have to stop, it would just have to change. Capitalism and free enterprise would not be have to be usurped, they would just have to comply with some of the unenforced environmental laws that are already on the books and would probably have to adapt to quite a few more. There’s plenty of comforts to be had and fun things for people to do without killing the planet and poisoning each other, and I think we could discover this very quickly under the staunchest GREEN Hitler.

SDF: Again, I think this all pivots upon the definition of dictatorship.

: Gee: (I also hold that goal nr 11 is incompatible with goals 1-5, (maybe 9&10) - each of which require restrictions to work)

: DDN: I think this depends on your interpretation of the Constitution. I don’t think the Constitution endorses completely unlimited freedom to do anything one wants to. What it boils down to is a prioritization of rights. For example: Does a person’s right to chop down trees for McDonalds override my right to clean air? A logger’s bumper sticker would have to read “The U.S. Constitution. Void where people need to breathe.”

: DDN: Having said all of this now let me pose the question a little differently. Let us not assume that my proposed changes would have to be instated overnight and without compromise. What form of government, from where we stand now, would be best for simply maximizing the probability that these kinds of changes would occur in reasonable time frame and/or to the degree that we could save humanity from hell on earth. Would this government look more like capitalism or more like communism?

SDF: Communism, of course, but of the non-statist variety. That's not to say that we know how to get from here to there. Saving humanity from Hell on Earth means, of course, making life better for those for whom life is already Hell on Earth. Capitalism will not necessarily "do the job" by itself, as market signals will not arrange the utopia you've described. Mixed economies might not do it, either, since the governments of such economies themselves tend to become commodities, their services available to the dollar of the highest bidder. That's why the consequent form of government under capitalism is plutocracy, unless of course it's anarcho-capitalism, in which case it's rule by syndicate of the form currently experienced by Russia and Somalia.

I liked your post here. Utopian dreaming of the first caliber.

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