Friday, May 11, 2012

403: The Utopia of the Free Market - early communism

In a previous lecture (398) I quoted the Harvard professor of philosophy Michael Sandel….

`In recent decades, social inequality has increased, especially in the United States and parts of Europe. It is often seen as unjust relative to the poor.

That is true. But there is another reason to worry about the growing disparity between rich and poor. 

Too large a gap makes it increasingly difficult to see ourselves as citizens who share a common life. This damages the moral fabric, which our society is made of´, he says.

Now take this quote:
The rich will do anything to skimp the wages of the poor, it happens either by fraud or by general laws, 

so that the abuses that already exist (because it is an abuse,that those who do most for the state get the lowest pay) are exacerbated by the same state.
-end quote

There are the words of Thomas More (1478 - 1535) in his Utopia, a description of the ideal society.

Under the reign of Henry VIII, King of england from 1509 till 1547, at least 12.000 tramps and thieves (Marx  mentions 72.000) were hanged.

What was going on? The slow rise of a free market economy. The late medieval society slowly changed from a subsistence economy into a market economy.

In England this was among other things caused by the Church and nobility, who confiscated more and more commons.

Commons were free fields and meadows where the people of small communities all could  grow crops or graze their cattle.

But in those days wool was big money. So those in power  confiscated the commons for their sheep. 

The same you see happen today in China, where poor farmers are driven off their land by fraud or other means by those who are in power. They want the land for their money making projects.

The result in those days was a hugh mass of poor and deprived people who  really had to steal to survive.

The most peculiar fact is that this increase of poverty, while general wealth was increasing, wasn't understood in those days.

Adam Smith (1723 - 1790) still was puzzled by the enigma of increasing social prosperity accompanied by growing masses of paupers.

Thomas More, however, came with a possible answer 200 years earlier. 

"It seems to me, that everywhere, where private property exists and where everybody appreciates everything for its money value,

it hardly is possible, that there can be justice and happiness in the state, unless you hold the opinion, 

that there is justice, where the best goes to the worst people or that there is happiness where everything is obtained only by a few.
- end quote

Thus Thomas More formulated in his Utopia the first anti free market philosophy in the form of a kind of democratic communism: no money, no private property.

This concept has never left us since.

The Discussion

[13:21] herman Bergson: Thank you.....
[13:22] herman Bergson: I want to add one remark to my lecture...
[13:22] herman Bergson: in More's days I don't think that they had a concept like 'unemployment' like we have now....
[13:23] herman Bergson: the floor is yours now ^_^
[13:23] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Maybe the unemployed just died
[13:23] herman Bergson: Oh yes they did.....
[13:23] herman Bergson: poverty in those days was enormous....
[13:24] herman Bergson: People driven from their land....that is one side....
[13:24] herman Bergson: the other was the new phenomenon that you "sold" your labor power for wages....
[13:24] herman Bergson: But there weren't many jobs....
[13:25] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Yes, people just working for themselves
[13:25] herman Bergson: Later the factory became the only way of survival....
[13:25] herman Bergson: Yes produced what you needed....or got it by barter
[13:26] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Concerning money, There is a comparison with animals, where some males get all the females and others get none. Sea Lions? Gorillas?
[13:26] herman Bergson: That is an evolutionary process....
[13:26] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Actually we are close to gorillas too
[13:26] Lizzy Pleides: lol
[13:26] Bejiita Imako:
[13:27] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I mean it is gross inequality
[13:27] herman Bergson: becoming a laborer in a factory is a cultural product
[13:27] herman Bergson: no...Merlin...
[13:27] herman Bergson: Because the male with the most females has also the best genes so contributes to the survival of the group
[13:28] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): you could say the same about our social inequality
[13:28] herman Bergson: That the few get all the wealth and abuse the masses of poor people has nothing to do with evolution...just with greed
[13:28] Velvet (velvet.braham): I'm not sure that men with the most women have the best genes in our society.
[13:28] Velvet (velvet.braham): :)
[13:28] herman Bergson: No Velvet..I agree ^_^
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: that can be true for sure
[13:29] herman Bergson: Tho there may still be atavistic features in our way to find a mate....there is too much culture in it too
[13:29] Lizzy Pleides: but every person has criteria for choosing a partner
[13:30] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Well other animals don't have money.....
[13:30] herman Bergson: besides our society also the weaker specimens of th ehomo sapiens survive and can have a fruitful life because of our medical care
[13:30] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Maybe its true also of territory
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: a very disturbing thing is in the middle east where the parents force the daughter to marry who THEY choose and murder her if she refuse
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: this type of honor murders have become alarmingly high
[13:30] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Yes Bej
[13:30] Lizzy Pleides: yes bejiita!
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: awful for sure
[13:31] Lizzy Pleides: we have that in germany
[13:31] herman Bergson: yes it is Bejiita...
[13:31] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): The happen in England
[13:31] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): *they
[13:31] herman Bergson: But such things are the result of the culture people are brought up in
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: you cant control someones love feelings thats impossible
[13:31] Velvet (velvet.braham): Here in the US, I just get the disapproving look from my mother. It's terrifying.
[13:32] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): lol
[13:32] Lizzy Pleides: they brake the will if the girls
[13:32] Velvet (velvet.braham): she's a force to be reckoned with.
[13:32] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): hmm..the LOOK is enough
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: heheh
[13:33] herman Bergson:'s basic idea is that Thomas More formulated the 'remedy' against the developing free market
[13:33] herman Bergson: abandon private property...
[13:33] herman Bergson: abandon money....
[13:33] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): There was a saying 'Property is theft'
[13:34] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I don't thing that myself tho
[13:34] herman Bergson: Thus Thomas More was at the roots of communism...
[13:34] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): are we going back to the time that people have to take care for their own survival?
[13:34] herman Bergson: That is from Marx Merlin
[13:34] Velvet (velvet.braham): share everything for the benefit of the group
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: a sci fo example of that we see in star trek, thats the only way they could build those ships cause money was abandoned there and the value of the produced things themselves and what they could do was the important stuff
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: not money
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: think they say something about a system like that in TNG
[13:34] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): ah OK ty Herman. Most quotes come from some famous person
[13:34] Velvet (velvet.braham): that's a great observation Bejiita
[13:35] Bejiita Imako:
[13:35] Velvet (velvet.braham): do we think that we can someday abandon money?
[[13:35] Bejiita Imako: i mean everyone nags about road repair ect "but there is no money to do it"
[13:35] herman Bergson: I dont think so Velvet.....
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: well it needs to be done anyway
[13:35] herman Bergson: At least not in our lifetime :-)
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: stuff like that
[13:35] Velvet (velvet.braham): me neither, Herman
[13:35] herman Bergson: We live in a money economy.....
[13:35] druth Vlodovic: money is just a manifestation of incentive and power really
[13:36] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Anyway, my belief is that there is no 'long term' for mankind
[13:36] druth Vlodovic: a convenience
[13:36] Velvet (velvet.braham): nods at druth
[13:36] herman Bergson: just study on those so called DERIVATIVES….which cause so much damage and disaster in the financial world....
[13:36] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): James Lovelock was on the radio this morning
[13:37] druth Vlodovic: actually, an alternative method is "social capital" which used to be based on family and friendships, you could trade on that
[13:37] herman Bergson: Just try to understand what derivates are and it gives you the shivers
[13:38] druth Vlodovic: but they have a way of basing it on your facebook and twitter post volume now that is donwright scary, because it can be easily gamed by those why don't believein the concept
[13:38] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Do you mean Derivatives?
[13:38] Fred123 Aiten: I agree that derivatives should be banned
[13:38] Velvet (velvet.braham): what are derivatives?
[13:39] herman Bergson: creepy mathematical things Velvet
[13:39] Fred123 Aiten: derivatives are combining several isolated instruments into a new instrument that can be traded
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: hehehe
[13:39] herman Bergson: they are kind of value objects.....
[13:39] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): can't find it in my translator
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes, derive from something else
[13:39] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I get you Fred
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: like that
[13:39] Velvet (velvet.braham): I studied math, I know what a derivative is mathematically
[13:39] Velvet (velvet.braham): but financially, not so much
[13:40] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): A bit like those mortgage packages that caused the bank cirsis
[13:40] herman Bergson: something a bank you have mortgages.....
[13:40] herman Bergson: they involve a certain risk that you wont get your money as abank...
[13:40] herman Bergson: then you sell those mortgages to someone else who likes to take that risk....
[13:41] herman Bergson: something like that
[13:41] herman Bergson: they have all kinds of fancy names...
[13:41] herman Bergson: SWAPS , SWAP OPTIONS..and so on...
[13:41] Fred123 Aiten: isn't that called hedging?
[13:41] Velvet (velvet.braham): ahhh those are called toxic
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:41] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): yeah its a bit vague to me but its all I need to know
[13:41] Velvet (velvet.braham): toxic loans
[13:42] herman Bergson: YEs for as much as I understand…hedgefunds are the biggest bandits in this world of derivatives
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: lot of terms made so no one will understand what they are and thyse make misstakes and loose money to the winning of the bank
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: i don't get half of the financial mumbo jumbo that you have to know to do this and that
[13:43] herman Bergson: One of toy gave a a URL to some webpage that explained on what mathematical formulas all these things were based....
[13:43] herman Bergson: invented in the 60s if I am not mistaken....
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: hmm ok
[13:43] Velvet (velvet.braham): would it be off-topic to ask about inflation in South America?
[13:43] Lizzy Pleides: the best is, put your money under the matras, the risk of loosing it is lower
[13:44] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): what money?
[13:44] herman Bergson: the thing is that the math is correct, but that people used it to take much higher risks than was justified by the financial math
[13:44] Lizzy Pleides: any money
[13:44] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): hahaha
[13:44] Velvet (velvet.braham): When I went to buy a house, I was stunned at the amount I was approved for
[13:44] Velvet (velvet.braham): I could never have afforded that
[13:45] herman Bergson: Well Thomas More gave us an idea…Marx tried it out...and it didn't work :-(
[13:45] herman Bergson: so now we are still in this capitalist madhouse ^_^
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: and now we are on a sinking ship basically
[13:45] Lizzy Pleides: more was a wise man but he ended tragical
[13:45] herman Bergson: Well Lizzy.....that is questionable....
[13:46] herman Bergson: in the first place...
[13:46] Velvet (velvet.braham): nothing wrong with being capitalist, as long as there are checks and balances
[13:46] herman Bergson: as politician he was a fierce defender of private property to begin with
[13:46] druth Vlodovic: the problem with communism is really the same problem we have with capitalism isn't it? a few people taking over and gaming the system for personal advantage without regard for others
[13:46] Velvet (velvet.braham): Nods at Druth again. I agree!
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:46] herman Bergson: Righ Druth...
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: ysing others for yourself
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: using
[13:47] herman Bergson: In fact what More already observed....
[13:47] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I still cannot understand why communism is always associated with totalitarianism
[13:47] herman Bergson: that a few get everything and the masses almost nothing
[13:47] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Even the british labour party were repressive
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:47] herman Bergson: there only can be one reason Merlin.....
[13:47] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): yes?
[13:48] herman Bergson: You really have to keep the people under control, otherwise greed will take over the orginasation :-)
[13:48] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): Moore was at least honest and a man of principles
[13:48] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): and gave his life for them
[13:48] Lizzy Pleides: but who controles?
[13:48] herman Bergson: Yes..that is why he was beheaded Annie
[13:48] herman Bergson: The greedy few at the top Lizzy ^_^
[13:49] Lizzy Pleides: lol
[13:49] Velvet (velvet.braham): Holy schike
[13:49] herman Bergson: Like in Animal farm
[13:49] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Oh Moore was beheaded?
[13:49] Velvet (velvet.braham): schnike. Who beheaded him and why?
[13:49] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Sir Walter Raleigh was executed too
[13:49] herman Bergson: All animals are equal but some animals are more equal
[13:49] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): One day a hero next day a vilain
[13:50] herman Bergson: Henry VIII did Velvet, because More didn't want to recognize him as hea dof the Church....More stuck to the Pope in Rome
[13:50] Velvet (velvet.braham): ahhhh right. Because Henry wanted a new wife.
[13:50] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): I do not know how historically accurate it was; but I would recommend watching "A man for all seasons" about Moore.
[13:51] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): it's like they sayd in earlier days..the priests said I keep them dom..and the Director of the Factory director said I keep them poor
[13:51] herman Bergson: Right Velvet ^_^
[13:51] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): That's my ancestor you are talking about
[13:51] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Henry VIII
[13:51] herman Bergson: dom = ignorant
[13:51] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Probably hehe
[13:51] Velvet (velvet.braham): The guy was a pioneer, Merlin
[13:51] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): sorry
[13:52] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Yes Velvet you have to admit it
[13:52] herman Bergson: Well...before we start a revolution, I think I'd better thank you for your participation again ^_^
[13:52] Velvet (velvet.braham): revolution!
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:52] herman Bergson: Thank you all
[13:52] herman Bergson: Class dismissed
[13:52] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Don't forget, the RL cops can read the blog
[13:52] Fred123 Aiten: thank you herman
[13:53] Velvet (velvet.braham): Thank you, comrade Herman!
[13:53] Lizzy Pleides: i don't want to end on a guillotine, lol
[13:53] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): i wish they did Merlin
[13:53] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): :)
[13:53] Lizzy Pleides: thank you Herman
[13:53] herman Bergson: Yes Merlin...sometimes I am aware of the fact that the pages have been read already more than 18.000 times by people all over the world
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: heheh
[13:53] herman Bergson: Just look at the map on the wall...
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: anither interesting time
[13:53] Bejiita Imako:
[13:54] herman Bergson: Thank you Bejiita
[13:54] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): Ik word er niet vrolijker van...
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: ok cu soon again
[13:54] herman Bergson: You never know....but maybe somewhere our discussion lights a spark somewhere ......
[13:54] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Bye All
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: time for me to go start a revolution now
[13:54] herman Bergson: Bye Merlin
[13:54] Lizzy Pleides: Good night everybody!
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: cu next time
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: hehehe
[13:55] Velvet (velvet.braham): revolution!!!
[13:55] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): Goodbye everyone
[13:55] herman Bergson: YEAHH!!!!
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: hugs all
[13:55] Velvet (velvet.braham): see you all on Thursday. I expect revolution reports.
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: ill do my best
[13:55] Bejiita Imako:
[13:55] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): lol Velvet
[13:55] Velvet (velvet.braham): smiles!
[13:55] herman Bergson: ok Velvet....
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:55] Velvet (velvet.braham): night all
[13:55] herman Bergson: By Velvet

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