Wednesday, May 19, 2010

254: The Ways of Liberalism 1

[13:06] herman Bergson: Gemma isnt there...
[13:06] herman Bergson: Qwark???
[13:06] Abraxas Nagy: she isnt well herman
[13:07] herman Bergson: oh dear...
[13:07] Qwark Allen: yes
[13:07] Qwark Allen: she is sick
[13:07] herman Bergson: bad news... :-(
[13:07] Abraxas Nagy: the flew ?
[13:07] Qwark Allen: with some food poisoning, since yesterday
[13:07] herman Bergson: nothing serious I hope
[13:07] Qwark Allen: no
[13:07] Qwark Allen: just feeling bad, cause of vomiting
[13:07] Zinzi Serevi: poor girl
[13:08] Abraxas Nagy: awww :(
[13:08] Qwark Allen: yes, terrible
[13:08] herman Bergson: heard that story before last week....friend of mine same thing...
[13:08] Abraxas Nagy: wow
[13:08] Qwark Allen: could be a virus also
[13:08] Qwark Allen: they do sometimes things like this
[13:08] herman Bergson: Both US....
[13:08] Abraxas Nagy: it probably is m8
[13:08] Qwark Allen: yes
[13:09] Qwark Allen: it`s a "bug" for sure
[13:09] Qwark Allen: ╔╗╔═╦╗
[13:09] Qwark Allen: ║╚╣║║╚╗
[13:09] Qwark Allen: ╚═╩═╩═╝
[13:09] bergfrau Apfelbaum: lol
[13:09] herman Bergson: she should reset the system
[13:09] Qwark Allen: eehheeh
[13:09] Abraxas Nagy: vomitting and feeling rotten.. are the sympthoms
[13:09] Qwark Allen: i told her to run the antivirus next time
[13:09] Qwark Allen: lol
[13:09] Abraxas Nagy: often
[13:09] herman Bergson: lol...most effective
[13:10] herman Bergson: Well let's hope for the friend recovered after a few time Gemma will be up and running
[13:10] Qwark Allen: yes, i hope so to
[13:10] herman Bergson: Let's turn to the subject of today...
[13:11] herman Bergson: Ok...let me begin

To show you how close our philosophical discourse here in class is to reality I'd like to tell you about an article I read in my newspaper this very morning.

The article was an in-depth analysis of the masses and in particular of the behavior of the masses of speculators on the free money market, one of the goodies of liberalism.

The main theme was that speculators claim to act rationally on movements in the market, but reality shows that they don't act on rational analyses of facts at all, they just run after each other.

China is hot so they all run to China for investments and as soon as someone drops the message "The inflation in China is increasing rapidly" the masses of speculators turn their back on China and run, which causes inflation to increase rapidly indeed.

Then the author compares this with the behavior of voters in a democracy, where you see similar behavior of the masses and his conclusion is almost literally "quoted" from my lectures.

Democracy", he writes, " can only function properly if the voters demand certain standards of honesty and truthfulness. You could demand that from speculators too.Voter and speculator have to be re-educated and restricted by rules, so that these irrationally motivated movements of the masses not become too dominant"

Here I read exactly what we are studying here.
One : the idea that the individual is , and should be free
Two : we need virtues like honesty and truthfulness to show better behavior
Three: We can achieve that by education

These are literally the ideas we heard last week in the lecture on Adam Smith. A positive view on humankind: one can be a better man by being virtuous. This will improve the proper functioning of a free market and in this development education is quintessential.

By definition, a liberal is one who believes in liberty, but because different people at different times have meant different things by liberty, “liberalism” is correspondingly ambiguous.

Liberals have typically maintained that humans are naturally in ‘a State of perfect Freedom to order their Actions…as they think fit…without asking leave, or depending on the Will of any other Man’ (Locke).

John Stuart Mill too argued that ‘the burden of proof is supposed to be with those who are against liberty; who contend for any restriction or prohibition…. The a priori assumption is in favour of freedom…’.

This means, that freedom to act is a normative basic of being. You could call this natural law. One of the laws of nature philosophers kept looking for since Newton.

Thus, not freedom, but any attempt to restrict our freedom should be justified. The burden of proof lies by those who want to restrict us. To begin with our government and its endless flood of laws and regulations.

Consequently, a central question of liberal political theory is whether political authority can be justified, and if so, how. And as we have seen, to begin with Hobbes, the political philosophers came up with the Social Contract theory.

An other element that will need our attention is, that the origin of liberalism is closely related to the French Revolution of 1789. In particular with its slogan "Freedom, equality and fraternity".

We already discussed the concept of freedom / liberty, but equally important is the concept of equality. This equality is a presupposition of liberalism …. or are not all men equal? Are some men maybe "more equal", to wink at "Animal Farm" by George Orwell?

Lots of work to do here………

The Discussion

[13:21] herman Bergson: so much for a kick off
[13:22] herman Bergson: There are many questions to answer, as there are many different theories on liberalism
[13:22] TBDiscovery Harbour: The part about equality that catches my eye is that a free market helps to select those who are good at different enterprises and those who are not. Any attempt to maintain equality in that sense would be akin to egalitarianism or utopia.
[13:22] herman Bergson: besides it a good theory for all mankind for instance
[13:23] herman Bergson: or Why is is so moninant as a polittical theory?
[13:23] herman Bergson: things like that I will address in coming lectures
[13:23] herman Bergson: If you have any further suggestions, questions or ideas..plz speak ㋡
[13:24] oola Neruda: equal or... equal under the law
[13:24] herman Bergson: that is what I am thinking about oola
[13:24] herman Bergson: today I asked we OWN the earth?
[13:24] Repose Lionheart: Any attempt at all, TBD?
[13:24] herman Bergson: and when born here...what else are we but totally free?
[13:25] Abraxas Nagy: totally dependant
[13:25] herman Bergson: Yes hit the nerve
[13:25] TBDiscovery Harbour: An attempt to force an equality would mean taking from another to begin a new equilibrium, Repose.
[13:25] TBDiscovery Harbour: It disrupts the market.
[13:26] herman Bergson: But the other story is the distribution of wealth...
[13:26] TBDiscovery Harbour: In a sense, it handicaps, which is what the government does by interjecting stimulus, regulations, etc.
[13:26] Repose Lionheart: But the initial acquisition is sometimes a forceful and unjust act ㋡
[13:26] herman Bergson: Just the market means for instance the power of the strongest
[13:26] Repose Lionheart: there are larger issues of justice here
[13:27] Repose Lionheart: the market is amoral
[13:27] TBDiscovery Harbour: If we are talking about individual freedoms, then any who seeks to take, whether it be a corporation or government, would be out of line.
[13:27] herman Bergson: yes repose....
[13:27] Repose Lionheart: individual freedom is not absolute, TBD
[13:27] herman Bergson: It is not about taking is about sharing...
[13:27] herman Bergson: About social fairness
[13:27] Repose Lionheart: exactly
[13:28] TBDiscovery Harbour: But it makes perfect sense to have the strong working in labor positions, as they would earn the most in reward for their productivity.
[13:28] TBDiscovery Harbour: So we're talking about sharing...which would effectively be taking, if the government sets regulations.
[13:28] herman Bergson: For instance,,,you inherit a few millions....and you start a company that destroys all small retailers
[13:28] TBDiscovery Harbour: It's sharing to those who receive the entitlement.
[13:28] Repose Lionheart: except it is mostly the poor, weak or strong, who do so
[13:28] herman Bergson: just because you have to money and make more that the idea of a society?
[13:29] TBDiscovery Harbour: But you said in the beginning that education is key. If the citizens are not educated, then they would beware of monopolistic intentions.
[13:29] herman Bergson: Yes TD....
[13:30] herman Bergson: but what of all those human being that have difficulty with learning?
[13:30] herman Bergson: Who are not the most gifted in our society?
[13:30] TBDiscovery Harbour: It does not mean that we take from high earners, in my opinion.
[13:30] herman Bergson: Should we trash them because they cant be educated?
[13:30] TBDiscovery Harbour: If the high earner is a philanthropist, sure.
[13:30] oola Neruda: the word gifted... is dependent upon what one values
[13:30] Bruce Mowbray: "the greatest good for the greatest number"?
[13:30] herman Bergson: Yes Bruce....
[13:31] Bruce Mowbray: You mentioned JS Mill -- Utilitarianism = liberalism?
[13:31] herman Bergson: As you see in these short discussion..there are hundreds of questions to deal with
[13:31] TBDiscovery Harbour: So this means that we would have to be willing to sacrifice personal freedoms in order for wealth to be redistributed.
[13:31] herman Bergson: I wouldnt sat that TD
[13:32] Repose Lionheart: Education is over-rated, I think....groups of people tend to function at the lowest moral common denominator...there are many highly educated Wall Streeters who greedilydrove the economy into the ground knowing what they were doing
[13:32] Zinzi Serevi: i agree
[13:32] TBDiscovery Harbour: Well taxation in order to spend extra funding on the mentally disabled would be by force.
[13:32] herman Bergson: What is the relation with personal freedom....freedom of property?
[13:32] Zinzi's translator: i agree
[13:32] Bruce Mowbray: I'm willing to redistribute mugs of coffee to anyone who wants them. IM me.
[13:32] Repose Lionheart: is there no room for love in your philosophy, TBD ㋡
[13:33] TBDiscovery Harbour: I just dislike the view that others think they can take because of a universal standard of social good.
[13:33] herman Bergson: Many philosophers belief in the virtue of benevolence as one of the things that make us human
[13:33] Repose Lionheart: sharing is the key concept here
[13:33] herman Bergson: That is a good point TD...
[13:33] Repose Lionheart: and the interdependence that we all have in human societies
[13:33] TBDiscovery Harbour: But it's not sharing. Do we allow those who don't want to share not to share?
[13:33] oola Neruda: one would not necessarily have to force taxation for spending extra on mentally disabled... depends upon your values
[13:34] Repose Lionheart: sure...just don't take a thing.
[13:34] Repose Lionheart: nothing at all ㋡
[13:34] oola Neruda: people who have experience with people with handicaps often find that they love these individuals even more than they could have imagined
[13:34] Repose Lionheart: think about how much you DO take ㋡
[13:34] TBDiscovery Harbour: We are certainly interdependent, but each comes with his or her own skill sets.
[13:34] Repose Lionheart: and inevitably so
[13:34] oola Neruda: for it is from them that they learn some of the greatest lessons
[13:35] Repose Lionheart: no one denies that
[13:35] TBDiscovery Harbour: But you are justifying a forced taking from others. That is different from barter.
[13:35] oola Neruda: your values again
[13:35] Repose Lionheart: no, just suggesting you share or go away
[13:35] herman Bergson: One interesting pointr constantly talk about TAKING
[13:35] Repose Lionheart: from human society
[13:35] TBDiscovery Harbour: Yes, oola. I'm not denying the gift others have to offer. I just do not like the notion that others should be required to feel the same way.
[13:36] herman Bergson: I think we'll have to have a close look at the relation between citizen and govenrment...
[13:36] oola Neruda: smiles... true... we do not all feel the same
[13:36] Bruce Mowbray: Doesn't the concept of society or community imply sharing -- of values, territory, even goods?
[13:36] herman Bergson: Is the government a TAKING institution?
[13:36] TBDiscovery Harbour: Yes, most certainly, Professor.
[13:36] herman Bergson: Good point too Bruce...we need to pay attention to that
[13:37] herman Bergson: Ok TD...yo made a clear statement...
[13:37] TBDiscovery Harbour: If I do not pay my property taxes, then the government will take it.
[13:37] herman Bergson: So here we have an issue of analysis: Is a government a TAKING institution
[13:38] Repose Lionheart: yes, useful and interesting counterpoint, TBD
[13:38] herman Bergson: From a Social contract idea, that would be hard to defend
[13:38] oola Neruda: the government is not THEM... the government is US... WE... US
[13:38] herman Bergson: From a tyrran's point of view it is right
[13:38] oola Neruda: we need to be active as government
[13:38] TBDiscovery Harbour: However, I understand your point that redistribution allocates capital to areas of low production, so the government could be cycling the economy.
[13:39] oola Neruda: not just watch
[13:39] herman Bergson: Yes oola..if it is can we take fromourselves?
[13:39] herman Bergson: One thing for sure....
[13:39] herman Bergson: I gonna reread our discussion carefully....
[13:40] herman Bergson: It is loaded with good questions and remarks already
[13:40] Repose Lionheart: well, if the underpinnings of every republic (and most democracies) are oligarchical, there is something of a "them" in them ㋡
[13:40] TBDiscovery Harbour: But such redistribution further creates social stratification because even the most ardent supporter of charity does not like to be told how to allocate income.
[13:40] Repose Lionheart: historical underpinnings, i meant
[13:40] herman Bergson: Yes Repose
[13:40] Repose Lionheart: Rome, Venice, etc
[13:41] Repose Lionheart: and most current ones, though moderated
[13:41] herman Bergson: But money is allocated to education and militairy defences for instance TD
[13:41] oola Neruda: returning to what you said earlier... about the need for honesty... when you get corrupt officials (in particular, those who enforce)... then it is not really US..WE... US... it becomes THEM...
[13:41] herman Bergson: That is accepted by every taxpayer I guess
[13:41] TBDiscovery Harbour: Yes, they are considered public goods.
[13:41] oola Neruda: and one of their best weapons is to deny education
[13:42] TBDiscovery Harbour: Not true, Professor.
[13:42] TBDiscovery Harbour: In the US we have a failing public school system and the funds are wasted.
[13:42] Krissy Harbour: it becomes them when people are dependent on them
[13:42] herman Bergson: that is a technical issue not a political one I would say...
[13:42] oola Neruda: teachers are on the front lines in this issue... they are expected to solve the problems that are really not in their control
[13:43] TBDiscovery Harbour: I would disagree because if we do not hold the government accountable, then they become larger without checks and balances.
[13:43] oola Neruda: i mentioned, last class, a child in fourth grade who has frequent hangovers
[13:43] herman Bergson: Wait...before we begin to discuss these details...
[13:43] oola Neruda: that is a mere symptom...
[13:43] Repose Lionheart: yes, teachers fail because they are not free to do their best
[13:43] oola Neruda: the social problems in a community are beyond the pervue of the teachers
[13:43] herman Bergson: the basic principal is that a government redistributes money by funding public education..
[13:43] Repose Lionheart: true, too
[13:43] oola Neruda: but, they do their best with what they get
[13:44] herman Bergson: no body opposes to that
[13:44] Coffee Mug whispers: Ahh! Fresh Hot Coffee
[13:44] Repose Lionheart: not any more, Prof
[13:44] Repose Lionheart: mostly
[13:44] herman Bergson: whether it is done the right or wrong way doesnt affect the princial
[13:44] TBDiscovery Harbour: Yes, true Professor, but even those students who attend private schools must pay. So yes, they do oppose.
[13:44] TBDiscovery Harbour: I don't see how we can assume that no one opposes the taking of funds.
[13:45] oola Neruda: they are paying in order to escape the hubris of the the problems in society/neighborhoods
[13:45] herman Bergson: Well here we have such a difference...
[13:45] TBDiscovery Harbour: But I argue that public funding creates such detrimental aspects.
[13:45] herman Bergson: the US has expensive private schools...
[13:45] herman Bergson: a phenomenon hardly known in Europe..or at least in The Netherlands..
[13:46] Bruce Mowbray: ??? England has some VERY expensive "private" schools.
[13:46] herman Bergson: but we all have liberals among our political parties
[13:46] TBDiscovery Harbour: Understood. But I still feel that assuming that everyone does not oppose taxation, regardless of usage, is incorrect.
[13:46] herman Bergson: so one libarel isnt the same as the other liberal...
[13:46] herman Bergson: we have to look into that too
[13:47] Krissy Harbour: I agree
[13:47] Bruce Mowbray: The French Revolution demonstrated that, too.
[13:47] herman Bergson: Oppose to taxation in general TD?
[13:47] Repose Lionheart: interesting question
[13:47] Repose Lionheart: ?
[13:48] TBDiscovery Harbour: If we are classical liberals, then yes. I argue that the private sector can perform better in 90% of the government's purview.
[13:48] herman Bergson: Ok..Imagine a society without taxation.....we can think about that, yes
[13:48] Repose Lionheart: ok, we agree
[13:48] TBDiscovery Harbour: Private businesses can fail, the government cannot without a revolution.
[13:48] Repose Lionheart: though we might agrue the percentage
[13:48] Krissy Harbour: true
[13:49] oola Neruda: last class i also mentioned how one private sector infringes upon other ones... for example ... pollution of water or air that crosses state boundaries
[13:49] herman Bergson: I am fascinated by your point of view TD...I love it....lots of questions...
[13:49] Repose Lionheart: but for the percentage that the government does perform best, we need taxation, right?
[13:49] TBDiscovery Harbour: The government comes in when a public good will not be provided by the private sector simply because it is a profit losing venture. So, at its essence, government is a profit losing venture.
[13:49] oola Neruda: someone has to set agreements between the separate private sectors
[13:50] Repose Lionheart: public education has the greater purpose of providing an educational floor as a benefit to the nation's democracy
[13:50] herman Bergson: Well I reacall a quote.... was it Fauber.... "Governement is evil: anarchy is more eviel, yet government is evil
[13:50] oola Neruda: it sounds like money is the object of value... not the common good
[13:50] herman Bergson: we;ll look into that too
[13:50] Repose Lionheart: it is not all economics, TBD
[13:51] herman Bergson: Good point oola!!!
[13:51] TBDiscovery Harbour: But it is a public education mandated and performed by the government, which we agree is not the most optimal source of efficiency and effectiveness. We prolong it because we don't know any other way.
[13:51] herman Bergson: We are talking about a society..and indeed not only its economics
[13:52] oola Neruda: because power (especially in the private sector, i would say) corrupts... and money corrupts even more
[13:52] TBDiscovery Harbour: Well, oola, it depends on the percentage of individuals who are willing to work for charity or the common good. If that percentage is large, then great, but if not, then we must not force others to become charitable through regulation.
[13:52] herman Bergson: Interesting point TD....
[13:52] Repose Lionheart: noo...we prolong it because it is necessary for the functioning of a democracy.
[13:52] oola Neruda: were you born with a silver spoon and enjoyed perfect health all your life TB
[13:52] TBDiscovery Harbour: So this would ultimately create societies of like-minded individuals.
[13:53] Repose Lionheart: doubt that ㋡
[13:53] herman Bergson: Is the human being basically selfish in a Hobbesian sense or is is by nature a social being like Adam Smith claimed
[13:53] TBDiscovery Harbour: No, I want to be free and not have others impose their will on me.
[13:53] Krissy Harbour: he worked for it
[13:53] Qwark Allen: individuals work for charity when they have their own needs full fill
[13:53] oola Neruda: thinking of ayn rand....
[13:53] Qwark Allen: in "poor" comunitys that is not a reality suitable
[13:53] herman Bergson: Yes me too oola...have to reread her definitely ^_^
[13:54] Repose Lionheart: ahhh...we can never really be free in your sense. We are inevitably interdependent
[13:54] oola Neruda: one thing that creates compassion in a person is to see what is really out there... and better yet to experience it
[13:54] Repose Lionheart: the language you use it an interdepent social construction
[13:54] herman Bergson: My friend.s..... there is an overload of the system here!!!!!
[13:54] oola Neruda: you sound very protected from reality TB
[13:54] TBDiscovery Harbour: I feel the same about you, oola.
[13:54] oola Neruda: smiles
[13:54] herman Bergson: Just HOLD ON plz....
[13:55] Repose Lionheart: doubt very much the silver spoon theory, oola ㋡
[13:55] Repose Lionheart: hehe
[13:55] herman Bergson: In a 30 minutes we have dropped so many questions and observations....we have to sort this out and bring some order in it
[13:56] herman Bergson: So ..when this discussion is posted in the blog...plz reread many essential remarks already
[13:56] Bruce Mowbray: sort of a metaphor for society at large...?
[13:56] Repose Lionheart: microcosm here
[13:56] herman Bergson: Well, my point is that we have to focus on one issue...
[13:56] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:57] herman Bergson: and this was a brilliant kick off thanks to all your ideas and discussion
[13:57] Qwark Allen: ah
[13:57] Qwark Allen: ¸¸.☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`☆ H E R MA N ☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`
[13:57] Qwark Allen: thank you
[13:57] Repose Lionheart: Thank you, Professor!
[13:57] Abraxas Nagy: ty herman
[13:58] Josiane Llewellyn: Thank you Professor
[13:58] herman Bergson: So , may I thank you for this great discussion and we'll get back to is next lecture...
[13:57] Zinzi Serevi is typing...n...
[13:58] Qwark Allen: great
[13:58] Bruce Mowbray: Thank you, prof -- and everyone.
[13:58] herman Bergson: Class dismissed
[13:58] Abraxas Nagy: see you next time guys
[13:58] herman Bergson: And thank you TSD for your critical input...
[13:58] Zinzi Serevi: thanks Prof
[13:58] Abraxas Nagy: an galls
[13:59] TBDiscovery Harbour: Thank you for listening, Professor.
[13:59] Zinzi Serevi: bye Abrax
[13:59] Zinzi's translator: bye Abrax
[13:59] bergfrau Apfelbaum: danke herman!
[13:59] oola Neruda: yes TB
[13:59] oola Neruda: good points
[13:59] dzjengis Parx: bye all thx herman
[13:59] Abraxas Nagy: bye zinzi
[13:59] Krissy Harbour: Thanks
[13:59] Zinzi Serevi: bye bye all of you
[13:59] Zinzi's translator: bye bye all of you
[13:59] herman Bergson: Bye Zinzi
[13:59] herman Bergson: To me it sounds very American...
[13:59] TBDiscovery Harbour: I only wish, Professor. It's a rare view, and I hope that changes.
[14:00] herman Bergson: I liked all you said....
[14:00] bergfrau Apfelbaum: byebye all:-) see u thursday
[14:00] herman Bergson: doesnt mean I agreed..but you keep things sharp with your point of view
[14:00] TBDiscovery Harbour: You as well. I'll be back when I can. I usually work at this time.
[14:00] TBDiscovery Harbour: Krissy and I are off today.
[14:00] oola Neruda: nice to have your ideas TB
[14:01] herman Bergson: There is always the blog
[14:01] herman Bergson: there you can read how the story goes on...
[14:01] TBDiscovery Harbour: You as well, oola. This is a great class. I hold lectures at Thothica and Philosophy Island, but this is one of my favorite spots.
[14:01] herman Bergson: And I will take your remarks into account definitely
[14:01] TBDiscovery Harbour: Yes, I will tune in to the blog.
[14:01] oola Neruda: :-)
[14:01] TBDiscovery Harbour: Goodbye for now.
[14:02] oola Neruda: baiee baiee

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