Thursday, March 29, 2012

392: The Utopia of the Free Market - Alan Greenspan

In the discussion after one of my previous lectures Beertje asked, how can it be possible that one single person can have such influence.

In fact this is a fundamental question regarding our way of interpreting history. There are several options. Let's assume that history is the sequence of past events.

Then what should we call an event, that shaped the world? A common approach is to look at the influence of great personalities, kings, presidents, men of state, scientists, etc.

Another approach could be to look at the ever changing material conditions and situation. For instance the Industrial revolution, the invention of the nuclear bomb, the improving healthcare, etc,

Or we could focus on the dominating ideas in some period: the French revolution, cartesian dualism, colonial political thinking, imperialism, liberalism, etc.

Whatever approach you choose, you always get only a partial explanation of the historical events. Nevertheless, among other things, it is human action which shapes our world, in other world, we can hold someone responsible for how our world looks like.

And in that case we could ask the question: suppose that Ronald Reagan would have appointed a solid conservative successor of Paul Volcker as President of the Federal Reserve Bank in 1987

in stead of a dedicated disciple of Ayn Rand, that is Alan Greenspan? Would there not have been a credit crisis then?

A tricky idea of course, but a fact is that the relation between Rand and Greenspan lasted till her dead in 1982.

And another fact is that Greenspan was absolutely convinced that there was no better economic system than capitalism

and in pure Randian style believed that if everybody only would pursue his own happiness or rational self-interest, the world would be a better place.

Economic ideas were favorable then. In the rising market after 1982 the idea that the fundamental purpose of a publicly owned business is to make money for its shareholders became a basic tenet of capitalist faith: profit maximization.

Most of the information we have about the intimate relation between Greenspan and Rand comes from his autobiography "The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World" (2007).

There he is very clear about the fact that he has his view of society largely due to Ayn Rand. When he was 26 he already became member of her group.

He became an enthusiastic supporter of Objectivism, that pleaded, as he writes himself, for " a capitalism with as less as possible state intervention as the ideal form of social organization".

In March 2008, Greenspan wrote an article for the Financial Times' Economists' Forum about the 2008-financial crisis. And there he still sticks to his unbalanced and immovable Randian ideological suppositions about global capitalism and free competitive markets.

He concluded: "It is important, indeed crucial, that any reforms in, and adjustments to, the structure of markets and regulation not inhibit our most reliable and effective safeguards against cumulative economic failure: market flexibility and open competition."

In Congressional testimony on October 23, 2008, Greenspan finally conceded error on regulation. The New York Times wrote, "a humbled Mr. Greenspan admitted

that he had put too much faith in the self-correcting power of free markets and had failed to anticipate the self-destructive power of wanton mortgage lending. ...

Mr. Greenspan refused to accept blame for the crisis but acknowledged that his belief in deregulation had been shaken."

The Discussion

[13:26] herman Bergson: Thank you... ㋡
[13:26] herman Bergson: The floor is yours...
[13:26] Tessa Zalivstok: Can I start herman?
[13:26] herman Bergson: Sure Tessa ㋡
[13:27] Tessa Zalivstok: I think you know that I have had issues with some of your analysis here
[13:27] herman Bergson: that is ok...I am not all wisdom of the world...
[13:27] Tessa Zalivstok: but I think you're closer to the money so to speak when you mention Greenspan and the GFC in the same sentence
[13:28] herman Bergson: GFC?
[13:28] Tessa Zalivstok: Greenspan was unquestionably responsible for a large part of the GFC
[13:28] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Oh that is reassuring cos I don't know that either
[13:28] Tessa Zalivstok: but I question whether Rand had anything to do with it
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: well to believe some global financial crisis
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: well rand inspired Greenspan's awful ideas
[13:29] herman Bergson: Oh Rand had certainly an influence in his decision making..also after her death...
[13:29] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): TLA's everywhere
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: at least to a big degree it seems
[13:29] Tessa Zalivstok: the GFC is largely a matter off Greenspan failing to do his job which was to protect the currency
[13:29] Mick Nerido: GFC?
[13:29] herman Bergson: Yes but it was based on his absolute belief of a free market end open competition
[13:29] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Global Financial Crisis I believe
[13:30] Tessa Zalivstok: and the methods he employed to allegedly prevent the economy from reacting to the fall in the market after the tech boom were quite orthodox
[13:30] Tessa Zalivstok: sorry
[13:30] Tessa Zalivstok: global financial crisis
[13:30] llStopAnimation: Script trying to stop animations but agent not found
[13:30] herman Bergson: Philosophically ...
[13:30] Tessa Zalivstok: I don't see that this has anything to do with Rand except in the nroadest sense
[13:31] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): ooh dissent!
[13:31] herman Bergson: main point here is that Greenspan held believes that were based on the ideas of Rand
[13:31] Tessa Zalivstok: that's fair comment in the broad sense
[13:31] herman Bergson: Greenspan was a co -author of Atlas Shrugged...
[13:31] Tessa Zalivstok: but I don't think Rand has anything to say about sound currency
[13:31] Tessa Zalivstok: which is the real issue here
[13:31] herman Bergson: Rand and he worked two years on the speech of John Galt....
[13:32] herman Bergson: 70 pages long...
[13:32] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Greenspan was a co -author of Atlas Shrugged...??
[13:32] Tessa Zalivstok: oh I don't deny that they were associates
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: eeeeee ok?
[13:32] herman Bergson: Greenspan was the dedicated Randian...
[13:32] Tessa Zalivstok: she called him the Undertaker
[13:32] Tessa Zalivstok: lol
[13:32] Debbie Dee (framdor): lol
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: was Greenspan on it as well
[13:32] herman Bergson: No....that was in the beginning Tessa.
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:32] Tessa Zalivstok: yes but let's stick to the point
[13:33] herman Bergson: When Rand discovered his intellectual powers she changed the nickname
[13:33] Tessa Zalivstok: what did Ayn Rand say about sound currency
[13:33] Kell Babenco is offline.
[13:33] herman Bergson: He became The Sleeping giant
[13:33] Tessa Zalivstok: which was Greenspan's real job
[13:33] Tessa Zalivstok: nothing I think?
[13:33] herman Bergson: and it was she who was waking up the giant
[13:33] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate) is online.
[13:34] Tessa Zalivstok: I dont think you can skip this point herman
[13:34] herman Bergson: Of course I dont know all details...
[13:34] Tessa Zalivstok: the Fed exists to protect the currency
[13:34] Tessa Zalivstok: Greensppan failed in this
[13:34] Tessa Zalivstok: the questionis was this because of something Rand said?
[13:34] herman Bergson: It was Greenspan that opposed measures against the mortgage bubble….
[13:34] Tessa Zalivstok: I don't think she had anything to say about this
[13:35] herman Bergson: He stated that the market would regulate itself...
[13:35] herman Bergson: that was his consistent policy
[13:35] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): no but her philosophy of economics influenced his to some extent
[13:35] Tessa Zalivstok: yes but this begs the question of the integrity if the currency
[13:35] herman Bergson: to a large extend Gemma...
[13:35] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:35] herman Bergson: Look at the picture...
[13:35] Tessa Zalivstok: no market can exist without a trusted medium of exchange
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: well to believe that something like that would self regulate is insane
[13:36] herman Bergson: Greenspan and Rand in the White House....
[13:36] Tessa Zalivstok: herman we all know this
[13:36] Mick Nerido: Mortages were to freely given, everyone thought that the prices of houses could only go up
[13:36] herman Bergson: what influence does that lady have on Greenspan?
[13:36] hannes Breda is online.
[13:36] herman Bergson: Why does he take her there and not his wife???
[13:36] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): It wasn't that sort of party?
[13:36] Mick Nerido: The WFC is the correction
[13:37] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): sorry i have to go...
[13:37] Tessa Zalivstok: and I say that she had nothing to say
[13:37] Tessa Zalivstok: the question is what did Rand actually have to say about the issue that was a major cause of the GFC'
[13:37] herman Bergson: His view of society was due to Ayn Rand completely....
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: yes and then the entire world stopped
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: POOFF
[13:37] Tessa Zalivstok: yes but not his view of the currency
[13:37] Tessa Zalivstok: that was rather orthodox
[13:37] herman Bergson: No…Tessa Rand was dead already...1982....
[13:37] Mick Nerido: But it had to stop somewhere it was a bubble
[13:37] Tessa Zalivstok: now if you said that Friedman influenced his thinking I'd listen carefully
[13:38] herman Bergson: But the brain of Greenspan was filled with her ideas about how society had to be
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: if its a bubble you should always hit the brake
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: and then its a dangerous situation
[13:38] Mick Nerido: hindsight is always better than foresight
[13:38] Tessa Zalivstok: now Friedman wrote extensively in these things
[13:38] Tessa Zalivstok: liberty
[13:38] Tessa Zalivstok: markets
[13:39] herman Bergson: Rand, Greenspan, Hayek, Friedman....all are at the roots of our present economic situation
[13:39] Tessa Zalivstok: he unquestionably influenced Greenspan in the matters that were important
[13:39] Tessa Zalivstok: you see you're running round the point
[13:39] herman Bergson: But let me put all in perspective....
[13:39] Tessa Zalivstok: the real point here is the currency
[13:40] Tessa Zalivstok: take Hayek
[13:40] herman Bergson: The thesis I am defending is that the Idea of a free market is a Utopia...
[13:40] Mick Nerido: how should he have protected the currency?
[13:40] Tessa Zalivstok: he held very similar ideas to Rand on many matters
[13:40] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I find all this a bit difficult because I do not have the wider knowledge of it all
[13:40] Tessa Zalivstok: but he believed firmly that the currency should be protected
[13:40] herman Bergson: and that this Utopia was described by Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged
[13:41] Tessa Zalivstok: Friedman had different ideas and I believe that it was Friedman who greenspan followed
[13:41] Tessa Zalivstok: not Rand
[13:41] Tessa Zalivstok: this is important
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: and as we know an utopia can never happen its an impossible dream and so the free market cant work in a real world
[13:41] herman Bergson: Well Tessa...those are details I would say....
[13:41] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Tessa sounds as if she knows what she is talking about
[13:41] Tessa Zalivstok: but critical details
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: yet we have it
[13:42] herman Bergson: They all believed in the wonders of the Free Market and the ratioanl huamn being who would handle it
[13:42] Tessa Zalivstok: you can't blame Rand for the crisis
[13:42] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): :-)
[13:42] herman Bergson: smiles...
[13:42] Tessa Zalivstok: she had absolutely nothing to say about the things that caused it
[13:42] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I feel some need to understand why Tessa is defending Rand so much
[13:42] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): I think it is her influence he is blaming
[13:42] herman Bergson: No....she had no economic or political power at all.
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: but she had scary ideas that influenced Greenspan
[13:42] Tessa Zalivstok: if you want to look for somebody on that side of economic philosophy to blame my choice would be Friedman
[13:43] herman Bergson: But with Atlas Shrugged she influenced people who were in power!
[13:43] Lizzy Pleides: she probalby didn't know about her influence
[13:43] Tessa Zalivstok: sure but not about that
[13:43] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): and he was also influenced by her
[13:43] herman Bergson: people who were evening after evening debating these issues with her
[13:43] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): friedman that is
[13:43] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I still have my doubts as Herman says were also expressed by Beertje, that one person can influence so much
[13:43] Tessa Zalivstok: I guess Friedman might have read her
[13:43] herman Bergson: It makes little sense to talk about blaming someone...
[13:44] Tessa Zalivstok: he wasnt close to her like Greenspan was
[13:44] herman Bergson: It is a matter of what caused what...
[13:44] Tessa Zalivstok: well
[13:44] Tessa Zalivstok: if you want to choose people
[13:44] herman Bergson: History isn't about blaming people for whatever...
[13:44] Tessa Zalivstok: I would choose Bush, Greenspan, saddam hussein and Zhou Xiaochuan
[13:44] herman Bergson: It is about pointing out who is responsible for what
[13:45] Lizzy Pleides: Rand was a theorist and Greenspan moved her ideas to reality
[13:45] Tessa Zalivstok: and I forgot Usama bin Laden
[13:45] herman Bergson: and when talking about responsibility...recall what I said...
[13:46] herman Bergson: on the one hand you have historical personalities...
[13:46] herman Bergson: but they are meaningless when material situations and a world of ideas do not fit together....
[13:46] herman Bergson: Like Assad in Syria....
[13:47] herman Bergson: it is not only that single man who causes what is happening there...
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: a bloody masacre
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: terrible
[13:47] Mick Nerido: The military Industrial complex is most to blame...
[13:47] Debbie Dee (framdor): and over consumption
[13:48] Mick Nerido: The over production of arms...
[13:48] herman Bergson: Yes Mick..there are groups in that country that see their interests threatened and thus support Assad...
[13:48] herman Bergson: Our general mistake with history is that we are educated to believe that this or that leader did it all..
[13:49] herman Bergson: In Syria..there are tribes....
[13:49] herman Bergson: religious groups, which are opposing each other...
[13:49] herman Bergson: Like in Afganistan...
[13:50] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Ugh go away world
[13:50] Mick Nerido: Have to go thanks all
[13:50] herman Bergson: So Greenspan never could have done what he did if there hadn't been a group around him who agreed with him...
[13:50] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Bye Mick
[13:50] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): Bye Mick
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: ok bye then mick
[13:51] herman Bergson: Nor could the ideas of Rand in Atlas Shrugged have become a bestseller int the US if not the US 'mind' was open to that way of thinking
[13:52] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Well exactly!
[13:52] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): That is the point about the influence of a single person
[13:52] herman Bergson: Atlas Shrugged got bad reviews...and Greenspan wrote a defense
[13:53] herman Bergson: The free market idea in healthcare....
[13:53] herman Bergson: In my country all hospitals had to be privatized...
[13:54] herman Bergson: That would stimulate competition and increase of quality of care....
[13:54] herman Bergson: The result is disastrous...
[13:54] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): *looks to see who is still here
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: the results are rather
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: the rich should live the poor should die
[13:54] herman Bergson: PriPrizes gort up only....
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: really awful that something like this can have happened
[13:55] herman Bergson: Prizes got up only
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: see same things here too
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: really scary
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: it says it self that free market only give rise to own profit with no care of the service it self
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: its only money money in my own pocket
[13:56] Bejiita Imako: for the boss
[13:56] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): So will we discuss if there is a viable alternative at a future class?
[13:56] herman Bergson: Well so much on the utopia of the free market for today , I would say...
[13:56] herman Bergson: Oh Yes Annie...
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: interesting as always
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:57] herman Bergson: Thank you all for you vivid participation...
[13:57] herman Bergson: Class dismissed...
[13:57] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): Thank you Herman
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: ok cu soon all
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:57] Lizzy Pleides: Thank you for this lesson Herman
[13:57] Tessa Zalivstok: thanks herman
[13:57] herman Bergson: We are not done at all LIzzy....^_^
[13:58] Bejiita Imako: tnx Herman
[13:58] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:58] herman Bergson: So more to come...
[13:58] Debbie Dee (framdor): thenks hermen, and all of you. I will be back for the next class..
[13:58] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate) is online.
[13:59] Lizzy Pleides: Good night everybody
[13:59] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): Night Lizzy
[13:59] Bejiita Imako: cu all
[13:59] Bejiita Imako: bye
[13:59] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): Goodnight all
[13:59] herman Bergson: by eBejiita
[13:59] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Bye

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

391: The Utopia of the Free Market - The End of Rand

Take the following two core statements of Ayn Rand's philosophy:

1. Reason, the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses, is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.

2. “the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action and that man must act for his own rational self-interest.”

Those, who have attended my project "The Mystery of the Brain" , will conclude immediately, that even from a scientific point of view statement number 1 is old-fashioned and completely out-dated philosophy, even a factual error.

The second statement immediately raises the question: where does this "MUST" come from? What kind of "must" is it? Does it mean "have to" or "ought"?

In both cases we need an reasoning. Is it deduced from the scientific knowledge about the homo sapiens, from evolutionary biology, from neurobiological data?

Rand claims that reality is absolute. What ever it may mean, this reality refutes statement 2 too, because nature offers us dozens of examples of altruistic behavior among animals.

Jorge Moll and Jordan Grafman (2006), neuroscientists at the National Institutes of Health and LABS-D'Or Hospital Network (J.M.) provided the first evidence for the neural bases of altruistic giving in normal healthy volunteers.

When volunteers generously placed the interests of others before their own by making charitable donations, another brain circuit was selectively activated: the subgenual cortex/septal region.

These structures are intimately related to social attachment and bonding in other species. Altruism, the experiment suggested, was not a superior moral faculty that suppresses basic selfish urges but rather was basic to the brain, hard-wired and pleasurable.

That doesn't mean that we are all altruistic saints by nature. It isn't without reason, that Rand so easily can appeal to the idea of selfishness and even can call is a virtue.

Psychological egoism is the thesis that we are always deep down motivated by what we perceive to be in our own self-interest.

Psychological altruism, on the other hand, is the view that sometimes we can have ultimately altruistic motives.

Suppose, for example, that Pam saves Jim from a burning office building. What ultimately motivated her to do this? It would be odd to suggest that it’s ultimately her own benefit that Pam is seeking.

After all, she’s risking her own life in the process. But the psychological egoist holds that Pam’s apparently altruistic act is ultimately motivated by the goal to benefit herself, whether she is aware of this or not.

Pam might have wanted to gain a good feeling from being a hero, or to avoid social reprimand that would follow had she not helped Jim, or something along these lines.

The story of psychological egoism is rather peculiar. Though it is often discussed, it hasn’t been explicitly held by many major figures in the history of philosophy. It is most often attributed to only Thomas Hobbes (1651) and Jeremy Bentham (1781).

Psychological egoism makes a stronger, universal claim that all of our ultimate desires are egoistic, while psychological altruism merely makes the weaker claim that some of our ultimate desires are altruistic.

Thus, the former is a monistic thesis, while the latter is a pluralistic thesis. Consequently, psychological egoism is easier to refute than the opposing view. And neurobiological evidence points in the direction, that behavior is not only controlled by the pleasure centers in the brain.

Ayn Rand gave the world with "Atlas Shrugged" its modern utopia of the free market. It was adopted with open arms by the financial world and the political world started privatization of what had long been services of the government.

So far the results are disastrous. People have become homeless. Taxpayers finance the banks to prevent them from collapsing, which could make thing even worse.

Those in society who do not fit the Randian model of man as the creative, productive and independent individual, that acts only based on reason,

so the sick, the poor, the mentally or physically handicapped, or just the less gifted people, the elderly, are the first victims of the utopia of the free market.

Therefore let me go on showing that this utopia of the free market is a Randian ideology, which is only in the interest of certain groups in our society.

And don't tell me that less government is certainly better and a step forward to a better world. The tremendous economic growth of China is completely government controlled.

And most Scandinavian countries have way more public expenditure than the rest of Europe, are prosperous and laugh at the Euro crisis.

The Discusion

[13:28] herman Bergson: Thank you....
[13:29] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): right! on the government involvement
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: its an interesting subject for sure
[13:29] Mick Nerido: Its ironic the "Free Market" is anything bur "Free!"
[13:29] Farv Hallison: we need a fair market/.
[13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): there is a website of ayn rand in case you would like to listen to her defend some of her philosophy
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: its really crazy really that one author with a completely screwed up mind can wreck so much damage on the entire world
[13:30] herman Bergson: The right term Farv...a FAIR market...
[13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): in her own voice
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: that one single person can do so much damage
[13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): which seems to b e bigger than she was
[13:31] Farv Hallison: but how do we know what FAIR is?
[13:31] herman Bergson: That is the whole issue of politics Farv....what is FAIR....
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes
[13:32] Lizzy Pleides: every political party has an own imagination about FAIR
[13:32] herman Bergson: Oh yes Lizzy....
[13:32] herman Bergson: Just look at the Tea Party ideas in the US...or the extreme right wing in Europe...
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: aa
[13:33] Farv Hallison: Ayn Rand thought there was no reason to be fair because we are only material objects. The only morality is survival of the fittest.
[13:33] herman Bergson: they even cant spell the word "sharing"
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: the rights are controlling sweden at the moment and made a hell for unemployed people
[13:33] herman Bergson: There she was a clumsy ignorant Farv....
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: take from the poor give to the rich
[13:33] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): Herman can you please give a few examples of animal altruism.
[13:34] Huntress Selene (huntress.selenium): Farve, that is the exact opposite of what she believed; she thought that man was a spiritual being, and that fairness only came to play if all there was was material objects to distribute
[13:34] herman Bergson: Oh plenty....
[13:34] Huntress Selene (huntress.selenium): And she would admit to animal altuism; she was concerned with life qua human.
[13:35] Lizzy Pleides: we know it from primitive people as well
[13:35] herman Bergson: That was her fundamental error Huntress....
[13:35] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): I am more interested in concrete examples
[13:35] Huntress Selene (huntress.selenium): To be concerned with life qua human?
[13:35] herman Bergson: She overlooked the fact that evolutionary we are as much an animal as all other animals on this planet
[13:35] herman Bergson: Real examples...
[13:35] Huntress Selene (huntress.selenium): So would you deny that here is human consciousness and rational activity of the soul?
[13:36] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Bees are altruistic
[13:36] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): They are?
[13:36] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ants more so
[13:36] herman Bergson: One moment all..I want to answer Annie
[13:36] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): They are?
[13:36] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): I have yet to see a bee or ant help an old lady across the road
[13:36] herman Bergson: Type Altruism in Wikipedia as search term....
[13:36] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Certainly regarding their reproduction
[13:36] herman Bergson: there is a lemma Animal altruism….
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: 'hehe but maybe they help themselves a lot
[13:37] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): and yeah, ants are related to bees
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: a bee hive is like a collective
[13:37] druth Vlodovic: I suspect that animals have consciousness and varying degrees of rationality
[13:37] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): Each Bee or Ant is related with a nest
[13:37] herman Bergson: Even some ants are biologically altruistic...
[13:37] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): with
[13:37] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): within
[13:37] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Yes thats it, the work to promote the clan genes not their personal ones
[13:37] druth Vlodovic: cats have a lot of empathy, for humans and each other, though they are often confused :)
[13:38] Lizzy Pleides: i heared it from elephants
[13:38] herman Bergson: In case of danger a specific species of ants closes the entrances of their nest...
[13:38] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): They do NOT help rival none related nests
[13:38] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): This came up in the consciousness talk Druth
[13:38] herman Bergson: But to complete this they need workers outside...
[13:38] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I personally think animals perceive just as we do
[13:38] herman Bergson: which will perish...
[13:38] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Mammals anyway for sure
[13:38] Huntress Selene (huntress.selenium): Well, Rand grants altruism in an emergency; in the sense of individual sacrifice for what appears to be a greater good.
[13:39] Tessa Zalivstok: herman
[13:39] Tessa Zalivstok: let me take you up on an important point of fact
[13:39] herman Bergson: ok
[13:39] herman Bergson: Let tessa speak plz
[13:40] herman Bergson: Tessa is typing I guess.....
[13:40] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): hmmmm
[13:40] herman Bergson: Oh dear...she crashed....
[13:41] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): lol
[13:41] herman Bergson: Dont laugh Merlin ^_^
[13:41] herman Bergson: That is soooo annoying....
[13:41] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): *stifles further laughing
[13:41] Farv Hallison: thoughts can have profound effects
[13:41] herman Bergson: grins
[13:41] druth Vlodovic: if people must only work to their own good then any form of self-sacrifice for any reason would be counter productive
[13:42] Mick Nerido: When Pam saved Jim's life he "owes" her in some way...
[13:42] herman Bergson: yes Druth....
[13:42] herman Bergson: That is a major issue in evolutionary biology....
[13:42] Lizzy Pleides: wb tessa
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: Wb Tressa
[13:42] Volta (jerome.ronzales): wb
[13:42] herman Bergson: Welccome back Tessa...
[13:43] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:43] herman Bergson: Let all be quiet now and give the floor to Tessa...
[13:43] Lizzy Pleides: <= imagines what Tessa is thinking now*
[13:43] herman Bergson: You had a major point Tessa...
[13:43] Farv Hallison: We have a sense of time, a few generations anyway; we will sacrifce for our children or ourbreputation. We know we wont live forever.
[13:44] herman Bergson: Ok Tessa is still thinking...
[13:44] Volta (jerome.ronzales): we know?
[13:44] herman Bergson: To get back to Druth...
[13:45] herman Bergson: In my previous lecture I gave an example what looks like counterproductive for the individual...
[13:45] Volta (jerome.ronzales): ah-ok!
[13:45] llStopAnimation: Script trying to stop animations but agent not found
[13:45] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): I have looked at wiki Herman, I think Looking at the dictionary , altruism seems to have more than one meaning and perhaps that is why we disagree so profoundly
[13:45] herman Bergson: certain monkeys start calling out when there is a predettar in sight...that THEIR sight....
[13:46] Huntress Selene (huntress.selenium): Well, under Rand, it means sacrificing your highest values to a value you don't agree with.
[13:46] Huntress Selene (huntress.selenium): So sacrifice your children to Baal, drafting people for an unpopular war, that sort of thing
[13:46] herman Bergson: this means that they make themselves target of the in terms of survival as individual they seem to be not the fittest
[13:47] Huntress Selene (huntress.selenium): Unless, the group was their highest value; a mother sacrificing herself for her children is *not* a sacrifice in the Randian sense
[13:47] Tessa Zalivstok: sorry
[13:47] Tessa Zalivstok: I crashed
[13:47] Tessa Zalivstok: then somebody came to the door
[13:47] Volta (jerome.ronzales) " thats why monkey meat is appreciated in China restaurants"
[13:47] Tessa Zalivstok: thats very out of date btw
[13:47] herman Bergson: Exactly Huntress...
[13:47] Tessa Zalivstok: hard to get monkey meat in china nowadays
[13:48] herman Bergson: Rand is completely a-historical, a-social and a-cultural
[13:48] Volta (jerome.ronzales): ;)
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: in other words she's nuts
[13:48] Tessa Zalivstok: herman could I beg your indulgence to go back to my point?
[13:48] Tessa Zalivstok: sorry about my crash
[13:48] Huntress Selene (huntress.selenium): Not a social, but yes, she believes her truths are perrenial in history and transcend culture
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: at least seem to lack any social behaviour
[13:49] herman Bergson: look at the Youtube URLs I gave in the previous lectures Bejiita..and yes...there is someone who says that Rand was completely insane...
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: as said before she probably would bee a terribly dbad mother
[13:50] Tessa Zalivstok: you said before that the development of China was government driven
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: aa yes i watched this and when i can see about her so far might well be correct
[13:50] Tessa Zalivstok: my perspective on this is from very close quarters over several decades
[13:50] Tessa Zalivstok: Tessa isn't quite as young as she looks
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: esp if she is the one actually responsible for the world finance bancrupcy 2008
[13:50] herman Bergson: Give Tessa the floor plz
[13:50] Tessa Zalivstok: actually the government driven Chinese economy was a total disaster
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: when the world economy ground to a halt when us banks went down
[13:51] Tessa Zalivstok: in my experience most people were malnourished and poorly dressed
[13:51] Huntress Selene (huntress.selenium): Teresa, yes, the Chinese are doing so well as they have capitalism now, albeit a highly regulated one
[13:51] herman Bergson: I am talking about current politics inChina....
[13:51] Tessa Zalivstok: when I say poorly I mean cold in winter to the extent that they died
[13:51] Tessa Zalivstok: yes
[13:52] Tessa Zalivstok: the development of china started in 1978 with an important scientific meeting which basically decided that the government should butt out of economics
[13:52] herman Bergson: And I am only talking about the economic growth rate...
[13:52] Tessa Zalivstok: which they did
[13:53] herman Bergson: the 5 years planning system..yes
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:53] Tessa Zalivstok: interestingly the levels of development in various chinese regions correlate very precisely with the share of government in the economy
[13:54] Tessa Zalivstok: Shen Zhen where i live has basically zero government role and is the richest
[13:54] herman Bergson: Well Tessa..of course I am not an expert in this field....
[13:54] Lizzy Pleides: don't they have a black market? we call it shadow economy
[13:54] Tessa Zalivstok: Guizhou which is the poorest has 70% government
[13:54] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): that is happening all over
[13:54] Tessa Zalivstok: the economy is a market economy
[13:54] herman Bergson: but the Chinese economy is booming and the one party system keeps all in check, I would say
[13:54] Tessa Zalivstok: there is no black market
[13:55] Tessa Zalivstok: even so-called government enterprises work in the market economy
[13:55] Tessa Zalivstok: the question of what is a government enterprise could take up an hour in itself
[13:55] herman Bergson: Well..we get into detail here too much....
[13:55] Tessa Zalivstok: so I don't think it's accurate to say what you did
[13:56] Tessa Zalivstok: the governments share in the economy is lower than in most european countries
[13:56] herman Bergson: What my lecture was about is to show that the ideas of Ayn Rand quote Bejiita, 'nuts' form a philosophical perspective
[13:56] Tessa Zalivstok: that is an important figure
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: indded thats my view of her from what i've heard so far
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: started reading a bit on atlas too to see what its really all about
[13:57] Tessa Zalivstok: of course she's Russian
[13:57] herman Bergson: Look at the Scandinavian countries Tessa...
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: then ill get the perfect picture i guess
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: but nuts indeed
[13:57] llStopAnimation: Script trying to stop animations but agent not found
[13:57] Tessa Zalivstok: quite out of the mainstream of English thought on government
[13:57] herman Bergson: the government share seems to be there higher than in allother european countries....and they prosper...even in this crisis
[13:58] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): Please, I think everyone agrees that Ayn was at least a couple of cards short of a full hand, but then you taking a huge leap to dismiss capitaism in the same breath
[13:58] Tessa Zalivstok: I'm not sure why people spend so much time on her and her turgid novels
[13:58] Tessa Zalivstok: they hardly drive thought
[13:58] herman Bergson: No no Annie....I dont dismiss capitalism at all!
[13:58] Tessa Zalivstok: sounds a lot like it to me
[13:58] Bejiita Imako: the problem is the greediness
[13:58] Bejiita Imako: take from the poor and give to the rich
[13:59] Bejiita Imako: jump on the ones laying down
[13:59] Tessa Zalivstok: how do "they" do that?
[13:59] Volta (jerome.ronzales): take what?
[13:59] herman Bergson: ideology Tessa....
[13:59] Bejiita Imako: i use to say the world need a new Robin Hood
[14:00] Lizzy Pleides: that would be fun
[14:00] Farv Hallison: make the people work hard but don't pay them enough to buy the product.
[14:00] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): well here in USA the tax rate is higher on middle cllass workers than on the very very wealthy who pay so little
[14:00] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): so that is taking in a way
[14:00] Volta (jerome.ronzales): the concept of taking and the greediness idea can be pretty weird sometimes
[14:00] Tessa Zalivstok: ideology isn't a potent force for taking money from people presumably by force
[14:00] herman Bergson: Exactly too....
[14:00] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): thks
[14:01] herman Bergson: But let's not start a political discussion on details
[14:01] Tessa Zalivstok: look
[14:01] Tessa Zalivstok: the reality of history
[14:01] herman Bergson: This still is a philosophy class...
[14:01] Tessa Zalivstok: communism is a total economic failure
[14:01] herman Bergson: And what I wanted to make clear to you is
[14:01] Tessa Zalivstok: total
[14:01] druth Vlodovic: hard to separate if you're discussing the validity of an economic philosophy
[14:01] Tessa Zalivstok: details matter here
[14:02] herman Bergson: that the Ayn Rand philosophy is a huge erro
[14:02] llStopAnimation: Script trying to stop animations but agent not found
[14:02] herman Bergson: tho adopted by the financial begin with Greenspan...
[14:03] herman Bergson: What I want to clarify is...where the Utopia of the Free market leads to....and in what way it has its good features
[14:03] herman Bergson: I guess I need a few more lectures....
[14:03] Lizzy Pleides: TC Farv
[14:03] Volta (jerome.ronzales): the idea i take from here today is that the altruism of a economic philosophy is not favorable to the common wealth of today!!??
[14:03] herman Bergson: Thank you all for your vivid participation....
[14:03] herman Bergson: Class dismissed... ^_^
[14:03] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): Thank you very much Herman
[14:04] Bejiita Imako: hmm ot of interestigt stuff for sure
[14:04] oola Neruda: i think the takeaway is meant to be that altruism IS helpful to the commonwealth
[14:04] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[14:04] Bejiita Imako: oki now i need to rush to an event
[14:04] Bejiita Imako: cu soon all
[14:04] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Bye, Bye ㋡
[14:04] Volta (jerome.ronzales): herman i made a post on my jerome FB page
[14:04] Bejiita Imako: ':)

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

390:The Utopia of the Free Market - Altruism

On Youtube I did a search on the term "Altruism". What you find is almost shocking, but that is my personal view. One of the results was a trailer of the documentary "Ayn Rand & The prophecy of Atlas Shrugged".

It was uploaded August 19, 2011 and I was speechless. It was as if the whole world was turned upside down. Ayn Rand as the prophet of the current financial crisis !

Yes, she was with her Utopia of Greed and her Virtue of Self-Interest the opposite. She wasn't the prophet of it, but one of the main causes as a prophet of the Utopia of the Free Market.

Everybody who wished to enter the utopian Atlantis, as described by Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged had to take this oath:

I swear by my life and my love of it that I
will never live for the sake of another
man, nor ask another man to live for mine.

Rational egoism claims that the promotion of one’s own interests is always in accordance with reason. The greatest and most provocative proponent of rational egoism is Ayn Rand, whose The Virtue of Selfishness outlines the logic and appeal of the theory.

Rand argues that: first, properly defined, selfishness rejects the sacrificial ethics of the West’s Judaic-Christian heritage on the grounds that it is right for man to live his own life; and, she argues that, second, selfishness is a proper virtue to pursue.

She states: “the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action and that man must act for his own rational self-interest.” To be ethically selfish thus entails a commitment to reason rather than to emotionally driven whims and instincts.

Reason is, according to Rand, the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.

Now, take this. Vervet Monkeys give alarm calls to warn fellow monkeys of the presence of predators, even though in doing so they attract attention to themselves, increasing their personal chance of being attacked.

From an evolutionary point of view the calling monkey makes a mistake. It seems evident, that it is not the fittest surviver in this situation. By calling he makes himself a target for the predator.

If it had adopted the view that “the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action and that man must act for his own rational self-interest.” it would have shut up and run.

This then is an act of altruism, which would be scorned by Rand. But here we enter a dense forest with respect to the concepts of altruism and egoism, c.q. self-interest. Let's make a start with elaborating on these issues.

The meaning of “altruism” in ordinary language is quite different from its use among evolutionary biologists, of which the behavior of the Velvet monkey is an example.

An ultimate motivation of assisting another regardless of one’s direct or indirect self-benefit is necessary for it to be altruistic in the ordinary sense, for what we might call moral altruism.

However, motivations and intentions are not accessible to someone studying non-humans. Thus, they are not part of the meaning of “altruism” in the biological sense.

Biological altruism is a course of action that enhances the expected fitness of another at the expense of one’s own fitness. A matter of importance here is to keep in mind that this behavior is observed among social animals.

You could argue, that, even if we accept an evolutionary approach to human behaviour, there is no particular reason to think that evolution would have made humans into egoists rather than psychological altruists.

On the contrary, it is quite possible that natural selection would have favoured humans who genuinely do care about helping others, i.e., who are capable of ‘real’ or psychological altruism.

I am far from done that the subject of altruism, so we'll continue next lecture.


Documentary: Uploaded on Aug 19, 2011

Ayn Rand at large:

a good laugh:

The Discussion

[13:17] Merlin Saxondale: Richard Dawkins says a lot about this in Selfish Gene
[13:17] herman Bergson: Yes indeed Merlin...
[13:18] Mick Nerido: In war a solder who falls on a grenade and saves others lives is considered a hero
[13:18] herman Bergson: That is about kin selection, if I am not mistaken
[13:19] herman Bergson: Yes Mick…don't think Rand would call him that
[13:20] Mick Nerido: In fact we call all worse dead good because they sacrificed for our benefit very altruistic i'd say
[13:20] herman Bergson: But I think Rand ignores all social features of the human being....
[13:20] Mick Nerido: war
[13:20] Bejiita Imako: hmm ok
[13:20] Clerisse Beeswing: almost like me on a bus not making eye contacts with weirdos just to avoid them but in order to get them away from someone else one must act
[13:20] herman Bergson: Rand was against conscription for instance...
[13:21] herman Bergson: next time I'll discuss psychological egoism and altruism....
[13:21] Mick Nerido: In nomadic societies cooperation is encoraged
[13:21] herman Bergson: That deals with your action Clerisse
[13:22] Clerisse Beeswing: my ego and my psyche
[13:22] herman Bergson: Rand ignores a lot of empirical knowladge about the human being as social being...
[13:23] herman Bergson: For her we are plain individuals which are focused on our self-interest...gifted with that brilliant ratio that figures all out for us...
[13:23] Beertje Beaumont: how can a woman that thinks like that..have such an influence in the world?
[13:24] herman Bergson: never found any information about what she'd like to do with sick, mentally and physically handicapped people, old people, less gifted people...
[13:24] Velvet Braham: by writing bestselling novels!
[13:24] Clerisse Beeswing: she sounds very harsh
[13:24] herman Bergson: Well Velvet ....that is half the truth I would say....
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: hmm really strange way to see at people and think its the right thing to behave
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: so she basically is responsible for all bad things happening in the world now?
[13:25] oola Neruda: she does address those less fortunate people ... she says swim... or sink
[13:25] herman Bergson: Because Atlas Shrugged was translated in to Dutch only in 2007....50 years after it was published in the US
[13:25] herman Bergson: In Europe is ais basically unknown...
[13:26] herman Bergson: She wrote a bestselling novel that suited the American mind and way of thinking....I would say
[13:26] Mick Nerido: She has taken the cult of individual personality to an extreme logical conclusion...
[13:26] Velvet Braham: she's not responsible for the state of the world, but she predicted it
[13:26] herman Bergson: At least to an extreme conclusion, Mick
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:26] herman Bergson: She did not predict it.....
[13:27] herman Bergson: she stimulated the believe in the utopia of greed....
[13:27] herman Bergson: Influenced the right people...Greenspan, Friedman Hayek...
[13:27] herman Bergson: They liked her ideas.....
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: and from that it went straihgt down to hell
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: sort of
[13:28] oola Neruda: in a way, it excuses the competitive nature in some people... and in some...the competition is to be on top... she says go for it and excuses any means to get there...
[13:28] herman Bergson: Just look on Youtube....I'll give you a few URLs after class.....
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: oki
[13:28] oola Neruda: greed will take you a long way
[13:28] Beertje Beaumont: it's stupid to follow her fantasies
[13:29] oola Neruda: you believe what you want to believe
[13:29] herman Bergson: What you see is a load of movies tellin gthat there is too much government ...all American stuff....
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: I use to think, how can these people really sleep at night but guess they have no feel at all for others
[13:29] Beertje Beaumont: they dream of power and money Bejiita..
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: its strange cause i thought it was some instinct we had being social naturally
[13:29] herman Bergson: They believe they are right Bejiita....and then you sleep well :-)
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: but that seems not to be the case for many paople
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: hmm aa maybe
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: its not logical for me but then i'm totally opposite
[13:30] herman Bergson: When it goes wrong you invent a new theory which tells you that it still is right... ㋡
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: i care lot for others
[13:30] herman Bergson: That is normal, Bejiita ^_^
[13:31] Clerisse Beeswing: i do too
[13:31] Mick Nerido: my theory is that the suburbs and the auto allowed less close living and a more selfish lifestyle to florish
[13:31] herman Bergson: What Rand ignores completely is the social characteristics of the human being....
[13:31] oola Neruda: she was never a mother
[13:31] oola Neruda: or if she was.......
[13:31] herman Bergson: She makes us a skeleton with only a rational brain....
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: poor child then
[13:32] herman Bergson: even love is a business transaction in her opinion
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: she would for sure not been a good mother
[13:32] herman Bergson: I'll give you one URL where she explains this...
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: eee ok
[13:33] herman Bergson: the judge for yourself....
[13:33] herman Bergson: then
[13:33] Velvet Braham: It would have been interesting to see if her point of view changed if she had a child
[13:33] Clerisse Beeswing: not all people are cut out to be parents
[13:33] Mick Nerido: who were her parents?
[13:33] herman Bergson: Well that is one of the problems Velvet...
[13:34] herman Bergson: for the care for a child is regarded as atruistic behavior
[13:34] herman Bergson: or adopting a child?
[13:34] Velvet Braham: she emigrated from communist Russia.
[13:34] Velvet Braham: I think a lot of her viewpoint were formed by peoples' money and property being seized by the government.
[13:35] herman Bergson: Rand was an ardent opponent of all forms of collectivism....
[13:36] herman Bergson: For instance ...general healthcare was a no go for her...
[13:36] Mick Nerido: was she religous?
[13:36] herman Bergson: and at the momenet in the hear people scream that they don't want Europena socialism.....
[13:37] herman Bergson: NO!!!! She was against all forms of religion! Mick
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: basically the rich should get care and surfive the poor just die
[13:37] herman Bergson: Because those religions preached altruism.....
[13:37] herman Bergson: and the most peculiar thing is...
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: thats an awful wiev healtcare should be for everyone
[13:37] herman Bergson: when you look at all world religions....
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: but see clearly the signs here as well
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: going all wrong direction
[13:38] herman Bergson: one of their main focusses is the care for your fellowman....altruism as a virtue
[13:38] herman Bergson: An interesting observation...
[13:39] herman Bergson: There is a lot to see on I would say...have alook at the next URLS....
[13:39] Mick Nerido: Before there was health insurance religous organizations handled health care..
[13:40] herman Bergson: Hi Dusty....
[13:40] Dusty Kupferwasser: Hello
[13:40] herman Bergson: Thank you all for your participation...
[13:40] herman Bergson: See you on Thursday again...
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:40] herman Bergson: Class dismissed
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: interesting as always
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:41] Dusty Kupferwasser blushes
[13:41] Clerisse Beeswing: thanks professor
[13:41] herman Bergson: smiles
[13:41] herman Bergson: a bit late Dusty?
[13:41] Velvet Braham: thank you, professor!
[13:41] herman Bergson: Ah Rodney is in time...
[13:42] Mick Nerido: very interesing classs, thanks herman!
[13:42] Rodney Handrick: Hi Herman
[13:42] herman Bergson: Class was just dismissed Rodney !
[13:42] Rodney Handrick: Really? man...
[13:42] Velvet Braham: Well, gotta get back to Atlas Shrugged. It's a good re-read!
[13:43] Velvet Braham: the new one?
[13:43] Velvet Braham: I saw part 1
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: aa managed to download a copy of it so checking it out a bit too
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: makes u get the picture better
[13:43] herman Bergson: Yes the 2011 Part 1
[13:43] Velvet Braham: it is good, yes!
[13:44] herman Bergson: I had read the book....and the movie stood the test....
[13:44] Beertje Beaumont: thank you Herman..the ideas of rand are concerning me
[13:44] Velvet Braham: I read he book in high school, but it's a different story to me now
[13:44] herman Bergson: Yes Beertje....
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: hmm that last youtube makes a point, she seems completley insane for sure
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: at least have a very strange view on humanity
[13:44] herman Bergson: Just look at the Ayn Rand YouTube clip I gave you......
[13:45] Beertje Beaumont: yes i will:)
[13:45] herman Bergson: But look at all other stuff on Rand....
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: will be interesting checking then trough
[13:45] herman Bergson: She has a large group of zealous supporters
[13:45] herman Bergson: till today
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:45] herman Bergson: The Tea Party people is one of them
[13:46] Velvet Braham: gah
[13:46] Merlin Saxondale: Well, I will go, bye all
[13:46] Velvet Braham: bye Merlin
[13:46] herman Bergson: Bye Merlin
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: eee ok but is the tea party something good?
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: didnt remember what it was all about
[13:46] Velvet Braham: it was a couple hundred years ago
[13:46] Velvet Braham: now, not so much
[13:47] herman Bergson: In Boston it was an act of independence...1760 or so...
[13:47] Velvet Braham: a protest against paying taxes
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes was something like that
[13:47] herman Bergson: yes Velvet....
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: but wasnt that cause the taxes was awfully high
[13:47] herman Bergson: and now the Tea Party protests against almost everything that is governmental
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:48] herman Bergson: deregulation they call it....
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: hmm then its not so good
[13:48] herman Bergson: The oath of Atlantis....
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: seen the results here
[13:48] Velvet Braham: in the 1760's it was about paying taxes to England
[13:49] Velvet Braham: but having no vote
[13:49] Velvet Braham: no representation in government
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: they said here it would get cheaper and better but the opposite is true
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: turned into a nightmare
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: trains healthcare
[[13:49] Bejiita Imako: ect
[13:49] herman Bergson: Same here Bejiita...
[13:50] herman Bergson: Long live the Free Market....
[13:50] Velvet Braham: this is very interesting stuff
[13:50] herman Bergson: And I claim that it is a Utopia....
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: aa maybe cause to get it to really work this way is impossible
[13:51] herman Bergson: Well Velvet....Thursday same time same place next round :-)
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: its like saying - is +
[13:51] Velvet Braham: sweet. I'll see you all on Thursday!
[13:51] herman Bergson: You are welcome, Velvet
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: aaa cu soon
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: time to prepare for Qwarks party now i guess
[13:52] Nitro Fireguard: I must go now
[13:52] Nitro Fireguard: See you soon
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: aaa cu all
[13:52] herman Bergson: Ok Nitro....
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:52] Nitro Fireguard: and thank you for this interesting session :-)
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: was great
[13:52] Nitro Fireguard: byeeee
[13:52] herman Bergson: my pleasure...
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: you hit some interesting spots here
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:52] herman Bergson: It is pretty exciting Bejiita...
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: aaa indeed
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: and scary
[13:53] herman Bergson: yes...especially that

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389: The Utopia of the Free Market - Rand's Utopia

It is remarkable to note that in many studies on utopian ideas, you don't find any references to the utopia Atlantis of Ayn Rand.

There are on or two exception, which refer to the neoliberal utopia, but it almost seems that we have a blind spot, which obscures our view of the utopian features of capitalism.

It is like we take capitalism and its present form, neoliberalism, for granted, like we take gravity, electricity or magnetism for granted. That is just the way nature is, isn't it?

Let's have a closer look at this Atlantis of Ayn Rand and how it comes into being. Let's begin with the basic idea of the story in "Atlas Shrugged"

There is a striking resemblance between a tale by Claude-Henri de Saint-Simon (1760-1825) and the basic plot in Rand's novel.

Saint-Simon say: Suppose one day 50 top scientists of France, 50 top bankers, 50 leading engineers, a hundred farmers, craftsmen and artists would disappear.

The country would become a body without a heart. All activity would come to a standstill.

Now, suppose this. We leave all above mentioned groups in place and make all ministers disappear and with them hundreds of officials, landowners, cardinals, and ten thousand of the richest people, who do not work.

What would happen to the country? Probably nothing, because the empty places can be filled easily by others, because the people that disappeared were useless anyway.

Useful to the prosperity of the country are the people that do the real work, people who are creative and productive. And this is what is the core of Rand's story.

Top industrialists, scientists, bankers, managers and lawyers just disappear suddenly. Public transportation breaks down and so on.

But these people do not just disappear. They move to a valley in the mountains of Colorado where they establish their Atlantis.

That is the utopia in which not only Rand, but also men like Greenspan, Hayek, Friedman believed. When you let the market absolutely free, there will emerge an ideal society in which prices optimally will reflect the balance between capital and labor. That was their utopian belief.

In Atlantis all human relations are dominated by money. You don't need a government to control affairs, but you just pay for everything you need and get paid for what you produce.

Although Rand is reluctant to use the term, Atlantis is a society. Rand however prefers to see it as a collection of free individuals guided by their rational self-interest.

Atlantis is a whole new world, a new way of life. To bring this message of salvation to the whole world, the old world has to be destroyed.

The utopians in Atlantis do their utmost to destroy the outside world by blowing up their mines, abandon their factories, attacking and destroying all shipping.

The heroes of Atlantis are pure and dedicated to their conviction. When Dagny Taggert arrives in Atlantis and stays in the house of the man who loves her, she, of course, has to pay for her stay.

But she has no Atlantis money. No problem, to earn money she does his household. And she already is a true believer. When her lover offers her to help with the dishes, she says:

Oh no….isn't that agains the rules?! Oops, yes.

This is the oath all inhabitants of Atlantis take:
I swear by my life and my love of it that I
will never live for the sake of another
man, nor ask another man to live for mine.

It is not done to help your neighbor for free in Atlantis. Altruism leads to destruction. This leads to statements like this: " For a man of moral stature, whose desires are born of rational values, sacrifice is the surrender of the right to the wrong, of the good to the evil.

And this "I now work for use, not for profit - my use, not the looters' profit. Only those who add to my life, not those who devour it, are my market. Only those who produce, not those who consume, can ever be anybody's market. I deal with the life-givers, not with the cannibals."

What to do with those who are not such creative, productive and rational beings? No problem, they'll yet need money to survive, so they automatically become the labor force of this shining neoliberal world.

That is what Adam Smith called "the invisible hand of the market". And those who can not work? The answer to that question we can see all over the world. These people end up in slums near big cities and live in extreme poverty. Simple as that, if it were Ayn Rand to judge.

The discussion

[13:23] herman Bergson: Thank you....
[13:23] herman Bergson: The floor is yours.. ㋡
[13:23] Lizzy Pleides: Brilliant Herman, Thank you!
[13:23] Star Magne: yes thank you...
[13:23] herman Bergson: Well...if you have any remarks or questions :-)
[13:24] Tessa Zalivstok: so how do these people eat with put money
[13:24] Tessa Zalivstok: just curious
[13:24] Mick Nerido: even right wing tea party in US believe in giving to charties.
[13:24] Tessa Zalivstok: of course they
[13:24] Tessa Zalivstok: particularly
[13:24] herman Bergson: Rand doesn't
[13:24] Tessa Zalivstok: Rand is turgid
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: hmm that's also a thing we clearly see here in sweden, with the party that governs sweden now work and money is the way to go
[13:24] Tessa Zalivstok: why would you read her
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: the unemployed get a real hard time with less and less money while really hard to get a job
[13:25] herman Bergson: Because she has a great influence on economics these days Tessa
[13:25] Star Magne: so the strongest survives...
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: and the richer just get richer
[13:25] Tessa Zalivstok: the only good thing from Ayn Rand was when she gave Greenspan the nickname "the Undertaker"
[13:26] Mick Nerido: Bill Gates and other capitalist rich give a lot to causes...
[13:26] Beertje Beaumont: will you excuse me Herman..i have to go
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: well they give a lot of money to welfare
[13:26] Lizzy Pleides: Tc Beertje
[13:26] herman Bergson: yes Mick..what would you do whenyou possess so much money that it needs 5 generations to spend it all
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: ok cu Beertje
[13:26] Beertje Beaumont: bye:)
[13:27] Tessa Zalivstok: in fact Friedman writes at great length in praise of private support of the poor
[13:27] Star Magne: help others to help themselves..
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: if i had that much money id sure try help a lot of other people and not just take it for myself
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: but many does just that
[13:27] Mick Nerido: it should be my problem lol
[13:27] Tessa Zalivstok: now you may think that to be inadequate
[13:27] Tessa Zalivstok: I do
[13:27] Tessa Zalivstok: but it's a fact
[13:27] Star Magne: ...lots of freebies
[13:28] Tessa Zalivstok: and before Bismarck charity was always the function of the Church
[13:28] oola Neruda: social security and medicare are in real danger as well as pensions that have been demolished by companies... people did work but their promised earnings are in danger
[13:28] Tessa Zalivstok: you can't just dismiss this
[13:28] Tessa Zalivstok: intil very recently the very management of our hospitals was based on the management of convents
[13:28] herman Bergson: Charity and altruism is a special chapter on its own Tessa..
[13:29] herman Bergson: especialy in relation to Rand
[13:29] herman Bergson: Nice subject for a next lecture
[13:29] Tessa Zalivstok: yes but you can't pretend that the so-called neo liberals just ignore the poor
[13:29] Tessa Zalivstok: that's plain wrong
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: yes thats true, as i said, here the ones who governs see only to the ones who have a job and money, the ones that haven't or are sick are outsiders for them
[13:30] Mick Nerido: did she take her ideas from the natures dog eat dog world do u think?
[13:30] oola Neruda: regarding poverty... it is self interest to head off a mes for it is harder to clean it up
[13:30] herman Bergson: They cant ignore them...of would destabalize society
[13:30] Tessa Zalivstok: no
[13:30] Tessa Zalivstok: thats very cynical
[13:30] AnnieBrightstar Resident: But true
[13:30] Tessa Zalivstok: you can't just choose your opponents and accuse them of cynicism
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: they must help them get a job then, instead they say and this is a bit scary
[13:31] Tessa Zalivstok: people care
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: their slogan is work gives freedom
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: same as nazis used
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: arbeit macht frei
[13:31] Star Magne: yes have to invest more for people to get jobs
[13:31] Tessa Zalivstok: you also can'ty just pick hitler slogans and apply them to people who gave their lives to get rid of Hitler
[13:31] Tessa Zalivstok: that's cheap argument
[13:32] herman Bergson: Leave out Hitler plz....
[13:32] Lizzy Pleides: i hate this sentence, .. sorry
[13:32] herman Bergson: wrong metaphore
[13:32] Tessa Zalivstok whispers: well who said that the slogan of the neos is work makes free?
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: they say all should have a work but they yet don't care about the unemployed instead they make life harder and harder for them with restrictions less payout and no help getting a work
[13:32] Tessa Zalivstok: whats that but a Hitler slogan?
[13:32] Mick Nerido: Fudal society there was King Barons Knights Church and surfs...
[13:33] herman Bergson: Let's get back to the main issue here....
[13:33] herman Bergson: and that was to show that Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand is a true Utopia..
[13:34] herman Bergson: and that her ideas are the basics of the current neoliberalism
[13:34] Mick Nerido: Utopia meaning best of all possible worlds?
[13:34] herman Bergson: Which has led to the financial crisis the world is in now
[13:34] Tessa Zalivstok: Utopia meaning nowhere
[13:34] herman Bergson: Yes Mick
[13:35] Tessa Zalivstok: from Sir Thomas More's eponymous book
[13:35] herman Bergson: Greenspan believed in the blessings of the free market till th ened
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: ahj
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:35] Star Magne: what will be the next utopia offering a hope a way out from the currrent ills...?
[13:35] herman Bergson: when he had to admit to the Senate committee that there yes ..something was wrong with that idea
[13:36] herman Bergson: smiles..
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:36] herman Bergson: Well..this is a nice hot issue...
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: interesting for sure
[13:36] herman Bergson: We'll continue on this in a next lecture...
[13:37] herman Bergson: Thank you all for your participation
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: well I hope for sure that the tables will turn soon and start go in the right direction in some way
[13:37] Mick Nerido: thanks Herman
[13:37] Star Magne: thank you...for all the insights..was a be here ...:))
[13:37] Lizzy Pleides: Thank you Herman!
[13:37] herman Bergson: Class dismissed... ^_^
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: this capital system we have today is dangerous play for sure
[13:37] herman Bergson: Unless you still have an urgent remark or question of course
[13:38] Merlin Saxondale: Bye everyone :)
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: its a difficult topic for sure
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: but interestinbg
[13:38] AnnieBrightstar Resident: Bye Merlin
[13:38] herman Bergson: Bye Merlin
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: cu merlin
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:38] Star Magne: efficient energy and human fierndly technology ..can be the grounds for a promissing future?
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: ill see if i can find that atlas shrugged and read it
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: seems interesting
[13:38] Star Magne: thanks
[13:38] herman Bergson: I don't pretend to have all answers Bejiita...far from that
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: downloaded and started to read accelerando
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: seems very interesting
[13:39] herman Bergson: But we can look at matters with a critical eye
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:40] herman Bergson: You dont need to be a cook to tell if some dish really tasts good :-)
[13:40] Star Magne: hehee
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: indeed not, hehe
[13:40] Lizzy Pleides: true
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: easy to feel if something taste good or bad but harder to actually make
[13:40] AnnieBrightstar Resident: Seems more of an empty plate
[13:40] Lizzy Pleides: but as an expert you have another view i think
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: same analogy almost with using a good or bad software and program your own
[13:41] herman Bergson: Yes Lizzy....

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Monday, March 19, 2012

388: The Utopia of the Free Market - Neoliberalism

A utopia is not a collection of individual daydreams or abstract expectations about the future. A utopia has quite different features.

A utopia is characterized by three features according to the Dutch philosopher Hans Achterhuis(1942 - …). A utopia is a description of (1) a society, which (2) is doable and (3) is a totality, covering all aspects of life.

This leads to an interesting observation. Through history there have been described many Utopias, but hardly never a liberal one. That is to say, until Ayn Rand.

While liberalism is focused on the individual, a utopia is almost always a description of a society to which the individual has to conform.

So this confronts us with the question: does there exist a liberal utopia? To answer this question we have to make a difference between classic liberalism with names like John Locke (1632 - 1704) and Adam Smith (1723 -1790), who indeed never wrote a utopia

and neoliberalism, that was ardently propagated by Ayn Rand and described in a thoroughbred utopia: "Atlas Shrugged".

Later I'll dig deeper in the historical backgrounds of classic liberalism and neoliberalism, but already a few observations.

Classic liberalism from the 19th center made a sharp distinction between public and private, between state and society.

Current neoliberalism knows only private interests and regards the state as a kind of superior insurance company for private interests.

Neoliberalism assumes that the free market is more capable to organize economic affairs than organizations, which are under government control.

This is the real utopia of neoliberalism, which based on the assumption that it is a good thing to transform governmental tasks into private businesses: healthcare, hospitals, postal services, national railways and public transportation, telephone communication.

Here you see the utopian dimension of neoliberalism at work, which believes in the rather implausible metaphysics of the intrinsic harmony of all private interests on the free market.

And exactly this is the quintessence of the new ideal society, which Ayn Rand describes in 'Atlas Shrugged' and in which Allen Greenspan deeply believed till 2006.

As an economist he saw that things were going wrong, but as a believer he persisted in the conviction that the free market would correct itself.

And a utopian believer he was. When he officially was appointed by Ronald Reagan as President of the Federal Reserve Bank, it was not his wife who stood next to him in the Oval Office, but Ayn Rand.

Completely in line with this development are Ronald Reagan's words (US President 1981 - 1989)"
"Government is not the solution to our problem,. Government IS the problem. "

In several studies on utopian theories, researchers note a frequently occurring resemblance: lust and greed have disappeared and the use of money is abolished.

This in absolute contrast with the ideal Atlantis in "Atlas Shrugged". In Rand's Atlantis it is precisely the virtue of greed, that is praised and money becomes the symbol of success, achieved happiness and success.

With her utopia Ayn Rand did not only attack the communist collectivism, which she had fled in 1932, but in fact also the Western European welfare state, which was based on a deep sense of solidarity.

And under the influence of the neoliberal utopia of the free market we have to face the steady dismantling of this kind of society.

And if you really want to witness the delusion of the free market utopia just watch this Youtube URL and associated URLs:

The Discussion

[13:27] herman Bergson: You have 10 minutes to watch it....:-)
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: damn now my computer hates me
[13:27] Mick Nerido: In US neoliberalism is called Right wing or Conservatism
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: ok ill check it
[13:27] Merlin Saxondale: yeah, unexpected... need to put sound on
[13:27] herman Bergson: Yes Mick and the summit is theTea Party movement
[13:28] Merlin Saxondale: With things like this, most of the information is conveyed in the sound
[13:28] herman Bergson: and from now on the floor is yours
[13:29] Merlin Saxondale: In UK there is a Liberal Party.....
[13:29] Merlin Saxondale: It is not the liberalism you describe but it is somewhat left of centre
[13:30] herman Bergson: Oh Yes..,and Margret Thatcher was the neoliberal pur sang in the UK
[13:30] herman Bergson: a dear friend of Ronald Reagan
[13:30] Merlin Saxondale: yes but she was in the Conservative party, not the Liberals
[13:31] Merlin Saxondale: It is the Conservatives who fit your description of liberals
[13:31] herman Bergson: The conservatives are the neoliberals I would say
[13:31] oola Neruda: i see government as being a referee ... necessary regulations... because of the potential of one state to harm another state across borders
[13:31] herman Bergson: Indeed Merlin
[13:31] Mick Nerido: Reagen was a conservative Republican
[13:31] Merlin Saxondale: But there seems to be no agreement on the terminology
[13:32] oola Neruda: also that with big money, elections in states can be "bought" for selfish interests
[13:32] herman Bergson: don't look at the terms, look at their actions....
[13:32] Merlin Saxondale: Of course, but we need to agree on the meanings of words we use in order to communicate
[13:32] oola Neruda: you pollute the mississippi pollute the whole river to new orleans
[13:33] herman Bergson: Yes oola....a poor man will never make it in any election in the US, I guess
[13:33] oola Neruda: we NEED government
[13:33] herman Bergson: yes....
[13:33] oola Neruda: if it is not bought and paid for
[13:33] Farv Hallison: LTCM
[13:33] herman Bergson: but the big discussion is between government and private interest and freedom
[13:34] herman Bergson: the balance
[13:34] Merlin Saxondale: I have an issue about the ability of a single person to have huge influence too
[13:34] herman Bergson: well..Merlin...yet it is a historical fact.....
[13:35] Farv Hallison: Let people or banks gamble with their own money.
[13:35] herman Bergson: Galilei, Kepler, Newton, Descartes, Einstein..etc....
[13:35] oola Neruda: on a positive note...there IS a single person who will shortly be having an influence upon the problems in Uganda
[13:35] herman Bergson: Single brains that produced something very influential
[13:35] oola Neruda: and it is a relief to see it happen... renews hope
[13:36] Merlin Saxondale: But the time and the population has to be ready, receptive
[13:36] herman Bergson: The problem is Farv..that banks have no own money...
[13:36] herman Bergson: It is what we put into the bank that they have
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: basically they take our money for their own wallets
[13:37] Mick Nerido: The pendulum swings back and forth between liberal views and conservative in government
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: as i said before , before in time banks and companies were for the people now its the other way around
[13:37] herman Bergson: The metaphor is attractive Mick..but if it is true?
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: they don't care about giving service only to take our money
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: the service is only there as a bait sort of at least with some companies it seems so
[13:38] herman Bergson: Well...
[13:39] herman Bergson: at least we can conclude that we live in an aera, which is driven politically by the utopia of the free market...
[13:39] herman Bergson: This free market is not a natural phenomenon...
[13:39] herman Bergson: we invented it...
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:39] herman Bergson: and it doesn't work...
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: and its not living up to what they say it seems
[13:40] Mick Nerido: Think of your money is on loan to a bank which gives u Interest in return
[13:40] Farv Hallison: the market is not free
[13:40] herman Bergson: neither did the total absence of a free market work under communist regimes
[13:40] herman Bergson: So we have to investigate alternatives
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: as said here in sweden we see scary examples of that, trains getting more expensive to ride and that never come in time if at all is one example ¨
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: of this selling out to private hysteria
[13:40] herman Bergson: the balance between collective and private property
[13:41] Farv Hallison: Would it helpto return to the gold standard?
[13:41] Qwark Allen: for what i understand about Ayn Rand, the flaw in this neoliberal try was the lack of regulation
[13:41] herman Bergson: Well Bejiita in the Netherlands we see the same...
[13:41] Qwark Allen: the free market should had regulation
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: aa yes seem to be same phenomenon everywhere
[13:41] herman Bergson: We never had problems with our national railways...
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: not a good development in general for sure
[13:41] Merlin Saxondale: In UK the prices are rising, but the service is improving
[13:41] Qwark Allen: that was the purpose of the government
[13:42] herman Bergson: Since it is privatized there only needs to fall some snow and the system breaks down
[13:42] herman Bergson: Lack of maintenance....etc...
[13:42] Merlin Saxondale: lol
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: here in sweden we can soon get nowhere even the gasoline have been extremley expensive the train is even more, soon we cant afford to go anywhere
[13:42] Merlin Saxondale: That has been a problem here too... leaves on the line is the classic one
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: and we need to get around to work etc
[13:43] herman Bergson: Ah yes Merlin Autumn leaves.....a killer for the system, though it never has been
[13:43] herman Bergson: tilll they became a private enterprise
[13:43] Merlin Saxondale: hehehe
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:44] herman Bergson: To invest in maintenance costs money and reduces the profits....and the profits is the wholly Grael of each enterprise
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: aa nindeed they don't service as they should at all, drinking coffee and heave in money instead
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: sort of
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: the actual service comes in 2nd or even 3rd hand
[13:45] Merlin Saxondale: I did not like nationalization either, but what I really don't like is Monopoly
[13:45] herman Bergson: Well....I guess we'll have a lot to discuss still
[13:45] oola Neruda: many years ago, they did a study...what would make people conserve (gas, resources, etc)
[13:45] herman Bergson: But let us save it for further lectures
[13:45] oola Neruda: the best answer they came up with is higher prices
[13:45] herman Bergson: May I thank you for your participation again....
[13:46] herman Bergson: Class dismissed
[13:46] oola Neruda: people don't do it voluntarily in enough numbers
[13:46] Qwark Allen: ¸¸.☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`☆ H E R MA N ☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`
[13:46] Qwark Allen: thank you
[13:46] Qwark Allen: was extremely interesting
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: but the problem is then we would just be sitting in our homes not getting to work or anything, we need alternative fuels thats cheap together with cheaper vehicles and so
[13:46] Farv Hallison: ¸¸.☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`☆ H E R MA N ☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`
[[13:46] Bejiita Imako: and the society would stop
[13:46] Qwark Allen: i`ll see the other videos at youtube about
[13:47] Merlin Saxondale: Well Bejita, I think people should stop travelling so much
[13:47] Qwark Allen: °͜° l ☺ ☻ ☺ l °͜°
[13:47] Qwark Allen: lol
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Saturday, March 10, 2012

387: The Utopia of the Free Market - Capitalism....

While "Atlas Shrugged" was and probably still is a bestseller among students of American MBA institutes where the captains of industry are prepared for their job,

the book saw a Dutch translation only in 2007, and this just because it was 50 years ago, that it was published in the US and it was even self-published.

It IS the utopia of Capitalism, an economic system of which many people think, that it is the result of an objective process which is not the result of ideas of others or invented.

Nobody seems responsible for its intrinsic ideology and the obvious utopia, as described in "Atlas Shrugged". There would not exists something like "The Capitalist Manifest".

The opposite is true. "Atlas Shrugged" is this manifest, depicting the ultimate capitalist utopia. In addition to the novel Ayn Rand wrote a non-fiction "footnote" as she called it herself: "Capitalism, the unknown Ideal" (1966).

One of the contributors is that well known name: "Alan Greenspan is president of Town-send-Greenspan & Co., Inc., economic consultants."

The book is fascinating. Let me quote Rand herself:
This book is not a treatise on economics. It is a collection of
essays on the moral aspects of capitalism.

Our approach can best be summarized by my statement in the first issue of The Objectivist Newsletter (January 1962):

Objectivism is a philosophical movement; since politics is a branch of philosophy, Objectivism advocates certain political principles

—specifically, those of laissez-faire capitalism—as the consequence and the ultimate practical application of its fundamental philosophical principles.

It does not regard politics as a separate or primary goal, that is: as a goal that can be achieved without a wider ideological context

Politics is based on three other philosophical disciplines: metaphysics, epistemology and ethics—on a theory of man's
nature and of man's relationship to existence. It is only on such a base that one can formulate a consistent political theory and achieve it in practice… (…)

No politico-economic system in history has ever proved its value so eloquently or has benefited mankind so greatly as capitalism—and none has ever been attacked so savagely, viciously, and blindly."

She continues with stating that the truth about capitalism is secretly obliterated, not by a conspiracy of evildoers however,
-quote-" it cannot be done except with the tacit compliance of those who know better.

By their silence—by their evasion of the clash between capitalism and altruism—it is capitalism's alleged champions who are responsible for the fact that capitalism is being destroyed without a hearing, without a trial, without any public knowledge of its principles, its nature, its history, or its moral meaning. (…)

The method of capitalism's destruction rests on never letting the world discover what it is that is being destroyed—on never allowing it to be identified within the hearing of the young."

Now, when you take into account that Allen Greenspan, as a true disciple of Rand and her Objectivism, has systematically ignored all warnings regarding the oncoming financial crisis, the next words of Rand almost sound prophetic…..

"The guilt for the present state of the world rests on the shoulders of those who are over forty years old today (with a very few exceptions)—those who, when they spoke, said less than they knew and said it less clearly than the subject demanded. This book is addressed to the young—in years or in spirit— who are not afraid to know and are not ready to give up."

Of course Rand was thinking of other shoulders than those of Allen Greenspan and the Chicago-economists like Friedrich von Hayek and Milton Friedman.

But it is their Utopia of the Free Market and its shortcomings, that we now put under the magnifying glass and there we see that Rand's theory of man as being the rational, creative and productive individual, already is a utopia.

The Discussion

[13:20] herman Bergson: Thank you.... ㋡
[13:20] : Kime Babenco raises hand
[13:21] Kime Babenco: Applause
[13:21] Lizzy Pleides: Thank you Herman!
[13:21] herman Bergson: The floor is yours.... ^_^
[13:21] Gemma Cleanslate: interesting
[13:21] herman Bergson: floor
[13:22] Merlin Saxondale: I like Rand's idea of blaming the older generation, as a general principle
[13:22] herman Bergson: laughs...
[13:22] Gemma Cleanslate GIGGLES!!
[13:22] Gemma Cleanslate: ...LOL...
[13:22] herman Bergson: good idea Merlin
[13:22] herman Bergson: it was that generation that fed you and educated you
[13:22] Merlin Saxondale: Well, I'm one too, but we all have predecessors
[13:22] Mick Nerido: Do you think man is not rational, creative and productive?
[13:23] herman Bergson: assuming you are the younger generation
[13:23] Merlin Saxondale: Im not!
[13:23] herman Bergson: Ahh Mick....good remark!!!!
[13:24] Mistyowl Warrhol: Never trust anyone over thirty..where have I heard that before LOL
[13:24] Merlin Saxondale: only the over 30's would remember that Misty
[13:24] herman Bergson: The point is that traditionally philosophy assumed that the essence of being human was being rational...have a ratio...think of Descartes
[13:24] Kime Babenco: People are not better than you can expect from people... Altruisme... Great... You find that among soldiers or miners,,, not in business at stock exchanges or at politics
[13:24] Gemma Cleanslate: as old as molecules
[13:24] herman Bergson: However...consciousness as we possess is way more that just being rational
[13:25] herman Bergson: No Kime…Rand even sees altruism as the ultimate destructive tool of capitalism and society
[13:26] Kime Babenco: When people have a lot of power... they like it... We have religious powers, political ones, and financial ones
[13:26] Beertje Beaumont gave you Snapshot : Bergson's, Wainscot (213, 213, 38).
[13:27] Mick Nerido: capitalism assumes everyone is selfish and make it a virtue...
[13:27] herman Bergson: yes Mick...and that is a fundamental mistake...
[13:28] Kime Babenco: Is it the kind of society you would like ?
[13:28] Mick Nerido: Are we not all responsible for our selves?
[13:28] herman Bergson: even from an evolutionary point of view it can be shown that evolution has not led to ultimate selfishness as the way to survive
[13:28] Mistyowl Warrhol: Kime makes some very good points.
[13:28] oola Neruda: no man is an quote another famous source
[13:28] herman Bergson: exactly oola!
[13:29] Gemma Cleanslate: she would never accept that
[13:29] Mick Nerido: Does Rand disagree with wealth philanthropy?
[13:29] Gemma Cleanslate: Yes-ah!
[13:29] Gemma Cleanslate: oh
[13:30] herman Bergson: the quintessential core question of this project is actuallly.....what is the relation between government and the free individual, I think
[13:30] herman Bergson: Like Bill Gates does Mick?
[13:30] oola Neruda: a bit like state's rights... i think...
[13:30] oola Neruda: which the civil war was fought over
[13:31] Mick Nerido: Yes like Gates, she thinks this is bad?
[13:31] herman Bergson: I guess she would disapprove of it yes
[13:31] Lizzy Pleides: primitive peoples have a lot of sympathy with on eanother, so what rand says leads to an inappropriate and unnatural way of life
[13:31] Mick Nerido: She is cold..
[13:32] herman Bergson: Indeed Lizzy....
[13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: she was very cold personally
[13:32] Kime Babenco: Well, I can give an example... In Brasil Lula (ex president) started the zero fame plan (no one with hunger)... And education encouraged... At the other side in USA, the so called rich country of the planet, about 4 million people have lost their house because of stupid bankers
[13:32] Mistyowl Warrhol: and why the silent majority stay silent, while the radicals use every means to shout their greedy ways.
[13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: take a look at her
[13:32] herman Bergson: She really misses the point obsessed by her anti collectivism as she is
[13:32] Mick Nerido: Communism was an attempt to spread the wealth evenly it failed...
[13:33] herman Bergson: Yes Mick..communism is as unnatural as Rands Utopia , I would say
[13:33] Mick Nerido: I agree
[13:33] Mistyowl Warrhol: In her time, there was no fast communication, so did she ever think that there would be those who would share their wealth and power. That was something that wasn't in the news then.
[13:33] Kime Babenco: Communism was a good idea maybe , but in ended up with an elite class of captalism
[13:34] herman Bergson: Yes Kime....
[13:34] herman Bergson: after 1989 all of a sudden there were russian mijardairs...
[13:34] herman Bergson: millionairs
[13:34] herman Bergson: I was flabbergasted....
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: billionaires now
[13:35] herman Bergson: How could that be possible
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: the top of the billionair list
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: came out yesterday
[13:35] herman Bergson: amazing
[13:36] herman Bergson: so...
[13:36] herman Bergson: the essential question here is...
[13:37] herman Bergson: what is the balance between government control and the individual freedom
[13:37] herman Bergson: The Free Market Utopia had its answer as formulated by Rand...
[13:37] Lizzy Pleides: difficult question
[13:37] Mick Nerido: tough question
[13:37] herman Bergson: yes it is....
[13:37] herman Bergson: For instance....
[13:38] Kime Babenco: Does one go into politics because of ideal ? Or because of personal benifits ?
[13:38] herman Bergson: All states in Europe are spending more money than they earn by taxes....all of them...
[13:38] herman Bergson: which household woulddo that for years?
[13:38] Gemma Cleanslate: here in the usa too
[13:38] herman Bergson: oh yes...
[13:38] Gemma Cleanslate: but of course two wars cost a lot
[13:38] Gemma Cleanslate: tsk
[13:39] herman Bergson: The problem is ....when you spend 10.000 dollars you dont have...
[13:39] herman Bergson: you go to a bank and take a loan on those 10.000
[13:39] herman Bergson: then you only have to pay...say...1000 a year for it....
[13:39] Mistyowl Warrhol: After WWII, it was considered one's civil duty to pay taxes.
[13:39] herman Bergson: for 14 years...
[13:39] Mick Nerido: Governments can just print more money
[13:40] herman Bergson: those 1000 you can afford and for the public you can play Santa
[13:40] Lizzy Pleides: the central banks Mick
[13:41] herman Bergson: Well..I'll go on withthis project
[13:41] Kime Babenco: But let's assume you asked 100 000 for the bank to buy a house... and have to pay it as 110 000 in 10 years , but suddenly the houses fall in prices, and the bank is out of money... They want your money still...
[13:41] herman Bergson: and maybe dismantle neoliberalism... ㋡
[13:42] herman Bergson: Yes KIme....
[13:42] herman Bergson: those are the finacial bubbles
[13:43] herman Bergson: There is a flaw in your remakr Kime....
[13:43] herman Bergson: The 10 year contract stands...and the people can pay it ...
[13:43] herman Bergson: whatever the situation of th ebank is
[13:43] Kime Babenco: If failing banks have to be saved by the government when they fail... (so the tax payers), then why don't we see any money from it when they gain a lot ? So I guess banking is better be done by the offical governments maybe... Or at least a very strict control on it ...
[13:44] herman Bergson: Well...without loosing us in all kinds of details....
[13:44] herman Bergson: I'd love to see you agian next Tuesday... ㋡
[13:44] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:44] herman Bergson: Tahnk you all for your participation...
[13:44] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ㋡
[13:44] Mick Nerido: Thanks Herman great subject
[13:44] Beertje Beaumont: thank you Herman:)
[13:44] Kime Babenco: Thank YOU ALL !
[13:45] oola Neruda: take care all
[13:45] oola Neruda: baiee
[13:45] Mistyowl Warrhol: Interesting lecture and ty :-)
[13:45] Gemma Cleanslate: you too
[13:45] Lizzy Pleides: bye oola
[13:45] oola Neruda is Offline
[13:45] Gemma Cleanslate: Bye, Bye ㋡
[13:45] Mistyowl Warrhol: Bye Gemma, tc :-)
[13:45] Lizzy Pleides: bye everybody
[13:46] Merlin Saxondale: yes, bye everyone from me too
[13:46] Mistyowl Warrhol: Bye all :-)
[13:46] Beertje Beaumont: we again have a lot to think about:)
[13:46] Mistyowl Warrhol: Yes, we do.

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