Wednesday, June 20, 2012

412: The Utopia of the Free Market - The final Lecture

This is the last lecture of the project  "The Utopia of the Free Market". My goal was to show you, that what is called the financial crisis of today, is not just a financial crisis at all.

It is an existential crisis which forces us again to redefine the meaning of human life on a planet with limited resources.

What never reaches the newspapers, is the fact that at the bottom of the present crisis, is a set of utopian assumptions about us, human beings.

The worst of all is formulated by Adam Smith and in a more literary way by Ayn Rand: The Virtue of Selfishness, as she calls it.

The second assumption is that because all people are driven by selfishness it eventually will balance out, so that in fact the common good is served. In other words, the believe in the self-regulating free market.

But these utopian beliefs have a number of negative effects:
A. an impoverishment of human relationships because the world is reduced to a market (Money can buy everything….);

B. expropriations and violent uprooting of large groups of people, which happens in several countries to get access to natural resources by multinationals;

C. increasing social inequality;
D. exclusion of people who can not handle the competition in the free market;

E. degradation of the political power of communities, e.g. Thatcher succeeded in pulling the teeth of the unions;

F. a paradoxical increase in monitoring and control (everywhere surveillance cameras, in unstoppable increase of rules and regulations)

But you could object…but what about our increased prosperity? You can not deny that neoliberalism brought us that. 
And point A to E… it is just a matter of time to iron out these.

To begin with the last argument. If you mean that the policy of the Washington Consensus (1989)  maybe up to now  has not yet reached the expected results but certainly will in the future, you exchange empiricism for ideology.

And with regard to our increased prosperity, as alleged by  neo-liberals. Robert Skidelsky, born 25 April 1939, British economic historian and Emeritus Professor of Political Economy at the University of Warwick, England, came to different conclusions in his book "Keynes: The Return of the Master" (2009).

He compared the periods of Keynesianism with the periods of the neoliberal Washington Consensus. From 1951 to 1980 (keynesian period) the average global economic growth was 4.8%. From 1989 to 2009 the growth was 3.2% due to  the neo-liberal policy.

You can imagine what would have happened when this global economic growth of 4.8% had continued. According to Skidelsky's calculations our prosperity would have been 50% higher than it is now.

The financial crisis of today shows us that the neo-liberal utopia does not bring the good life, which it promises. We need more wisdom to shape our future.

Let me put it this way: you can distinguish three elements which constitute our world: The Market -- The State -- The Society.

The market is the global mechanism of exchanging goods and services. The state is the regulating principle in this and society are we, individual humans who want a good life, which means we want to  live in a community (family, town, country) and feel happy.

And here we need Aristotle (384 - 322 B.C), for what we need is what he already identified as justice. It is about the general good of society. 

Justice is not a property of the system, but a property of man himself. A righteous man, in his opinion, gives to everyone what he deserves.

As I  have emphasized in several lectures, the future will be about an equitable distribution of the limited resources of this earth and for that we need the virtue of justice.

The Discussion

[13:21] herman Bergson: This concludes the project and the lectures of this season....
[13:21] herman Bergson: Next lecture will be in the week of September 1 ^_^
[13:21] Debbie Dee (framdor): Yesss.... Thanks herman.
[13:21] herman Bergson: Thank you...

- My Second Live Viewer crashed, so I had to relog -

[13:23] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): *:::* WELCOME BACK *:::*
[13:23] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): Welcome back Herman
[13:23] herman Bergson: A real dramatic timing of a crash ^_^
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: wb herman
[13:23] Bejiita Imako:
[13:23] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:23] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): was
[13:23] Debbie Dee (framdor): dramatic exit herman ;)
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:23] herman Bergson: yes Debbie ^_^
[13:24] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): thought you just deserted us
[13:24] Debbie Dee (framdor): can we do drama next semester ;)
[13:24] herman Bergson: Yes ...looked like it indeed Gemma
[13:24] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): do you have the next project ???
[13:24] herman Bergson: but no...
[13:24] Lizzy Pleides: if anybody is interested in the documentation i mentioned earlier, here's the link:
[13:24] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): Thank you Lizzy
[13:24] herman Bergson: Ahh LIzzy...
[13:24] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:24] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): lizzy
[13:25] herman Bergson: That was about that movie?
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: nice
[13:25] Lizzy Pleides: yes
[13:25] herman Bergson: good..
[13:25] Lizzy Pleides: i found it in german only but i think you can find it in english too
[13:25] herman Bergson: ANyone got a remark or question about this lecture?
[13:25] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): german is no problem Lizzy
[13:26] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): well i hope that the rand people do not win
[13:26] herman Bergson: Ist mir egal Lizzy ^_^
[13:26] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): that the pendulum swings
[13:26] Debbie Dee (framdor): So as good citizens herman, we should we do?
[13:26] Penelope Apparatchik (penelope.grau): take care of those, whom god sets before us :)
[13:26] druth Vlodovic is online.
[13:26] herman Bergson: Yes is a pendulum effect....
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: this was a really interesting subject
[13:26] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:26] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): i think so
[13:26] herman Bergson: The Rand people wont win...
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: opened my mind for sure
[13:27] Debbie Dee (framdor): I think we need to be mindful of our thoughts and actions.
[13:27] herman Bergson: Thank you Bejiita
[13:27] Bejiita Imako:
[13:27] Lizzy Pleides: when the Rand people would win, they would be lost themselves
[13:27] herman Bergson: Yes Debbie....
[13:27] Debbie Dee (framdor): and we probably need a lot more socialism
[13:27] Penelope Apparatchik (penelope.grau): they lost already, Liz
[13:27] herman Bergson: And a lot of people are really thinking about the present situation....
[13:28] herman Bergson: just keep your eyes your newspaper...
[13:28] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): It is difficult to know whether we can make a difference by just doing the right thing as individuals
[13:28] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:28] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): it is
[13:28] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): and they are going after the unions all of them
[13:28] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): here in the USA anyway
[13:28] Debbie Dee (framdor): we are all individuals
[13:28] Penelope Apparatchik (penelope.grau): of course we make a difference
[13:29] Debbie Dee (framdor): every one of us. including Ayn Rand.
[13:29] herman Bergson: Yes I think so too Penelope...
[13:29] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:29] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): still hopes
[13:29] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Well I try to act in a way which I think everyone should, and if they did it would be ok
[13:29] herman Bergson: Every voice and vote makes a difference...
[13:29] Penelope Apparatchik (penelope.grau): if you are nice to someone, that makes a difference
[13:29] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): When the world burns I can at least say 'it wasnt me'
[13:30] herman Bergson: You just have to be politically alert....
[13:30] Debbie Dee (framdor): yes. and stand up to other people who are making bad decisions on a daily basis
[13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): if you find anything this summer of interest about this perhaps send to herman an dhe can send a notice to the group
[13:30] Penelope Apparatchik (penelope.grau): nothing like optimism, Merlin :)
[13:30] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): But we have the arch Environmentalist Jonathan Porritt jet-setting around the world
[13:30] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): He does not lead by example
[13:30] herman Bergson: I have to think about a new project this summer ^_^
[13:31] Bejiita Imako:
[13:31] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:31] Penelope Apparatchik (penelope.grau): illogical positivism :)))
[13:31] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): i am sure you will find something
[13:31] herman Bergson: smiles
[13:31] Debbie Dee (framdor): i like illogical positivism.
[13:31] Penelope Apparatchik (penelope.grau): sure, why not?
[13:31] Penelope Apparatchik (penelope.grau): might as well be cheerful :)
[13:32] herman Bergson: Well I am thinking about the themes Justice...or The Ethics of money....
[13:32] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): *sings Reasons to be cheerful part three
[13:32] herman Bergson: as a follow up of this project
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: oki
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: can be a suiting subject
[13:33] herman Bergson: I mean....we should work on a world where justice we have to know what justice is
[13:33] herman Bergson: It is not greed...
[13:33] Debbie Dee (framdor): well, please let us know herman. I enjoyed this project, and will be back.
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes
[13:33] herman Bergson: You are welcome Debbie...
[13:33] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Justice is often a euphemism for revenge, retaliation and retribution
[13:34] herman Bergson: There you go Merlin.....
[13:34] herman Bergson: at least worth two or three lectures ^_^
[13:34] Debbie Dee (framdor): Military intelligence, and fighting for peace, are both commonly used oxymorons
[13:34] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): :))
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: the sum of all this u can say is we have to hope for a more fair world where everyone not only the ones with money can get a good life
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: hope that the development today reverses in some way
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: hope for the best
[13:35] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): yep
[13:35] Qwark Allen: maybe that will hapen, if a rock falls from the sky
[13:35] Debbie Dee (framdor): I foresee wide spread famine first, as resource depletion curtails the population explosion
[13:35] Gramps Mistwalker is offline.
[13:35] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Exactly Debbie
[13:36] Debbie Dee (framdor): and global warming reduces crop yields
[13:36] herman Bergson: Skidelsky suggest in the last chapter of his book that there is a pendulum movement in economics...
[13:36] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): according to history i agree
[13:36] herman Bergson: one period the greedy ones the other one solidarity prevails...
[13:36] Debbie Dee (framdor): well - it is an over-excited pendulum - the upswing is eneormous right now...
[13:36] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:37] Debbie Dee (framdor): so the downswing will be too?
[13:37] herman Bergson: since ..say 1989 ..the Randians were the dominating species ...the greedy bankers and bonuses
[13:37] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): maybe but maybe years b4 the upswing is proved wrong
[13:37] Debbie Dee (framdor): too scary to contemplate...
[13:37] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): When exactly did solidarity prevail Herman?
[13:38] Debbie Dee (framdor): i think i will carry on hiding in the forests, growing my own food
[13:38] herman Bergson: in the 50s and 60s...
[13:38] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): Please may I join you Debbie?
[13:38] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): No, no never Herman
[13:38] Debbie Dee (framdor): lol...
[13:38] herman Bergson: Especially in Europe...where everybody had the feeling that they had to rebuild the world...a better one after the destructive World War II
[13:39] Debbie Dee (framdor): It is only hidden if I don't tell you where i am ;)
[13:39] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: hmm yes
[13:39] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): I don't recall the Cuban missile crises being a fun time
[13:39] herman Bergson: then in the 70s when prosperity increased the individual and his money became dominant...
[13:40] herman Bergson: As Rand said...the Americans coined the phrase : We can make money....
[13:40] herman Bergson: and making money became the main target...
[13:40] Debbie Dee (framdor): Now we all make money.
[13:40] herman Bergson: Banks made creating debts....
[13:40] herman Bergson: mortgages subprime stuff etc...
[13:40] Debbie Dee (framdor): the industrial revolution produced machines that made stuff.
[13:41] Debbie Dee (framdor): People no longer were needed.
[13:41] Debbie Dee (framdor): but they needed pay - so had to be employed.
[13:41] Debbie Dee (framdor): then we made the internet, so we could look busy
[13:41] herman Bergson: Yes..Debbie also a period of asking an increasing social inequality
[13:41] Debbie Dee (framdor): while making money.
[13:41] Debbie Dee (framdor): lol
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: haha
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: i thought we made internet to communicate
[13:42] Debbie Dee (framdor): that too.
[13:42] herman Bergson: So we do Bejiita...
[13:42] Debbie Dee (framdor): and that is a huge force for change.
[13:42] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): No its to play Farmville I thought everyone knew that
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: and CERN who created the www made it so it should be open free and controlled by nobody
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: created
[13:42] Debbie Dee (framdor): social networking is changing the way we get information
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: indeed
[13:43] Debbie Dee (framdor): and that breaks the government propoganda systems
[13:43] herman Bergson: Fact is that things are changing rapidly these days....
[13:43] Lizzy Pleides: the internet enables us to make a global brainstorming
[13:43] Debbie Dee (framdor): Oh yes. And you are helping it along, professor.
[13:43] herman Bergson: Except the market for houses...:-)
[13:44] herman Bergson: Try to sell my house in RL....
[13:44] herman Bergson: Sign in the frondyard….
[13:44] herman Bergson: for a year now....
[13:44] herman Bergson: got roots...
[13:44] herman Bergson: not a soul is interested :-)
[13:44] herman Bergson: my crisis ^_^
[13:44] Debbie Dee (framdor): Oh well, you need a house ;)
[13:44] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): My next door neighbours house has been for sale for many months too
[13:45] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): you live in wonder..grins
[13:45] herman Bergson: frowns at Beertje.....
[13:45] herman Bergson: :-)
[13:45] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont):
[13:45] Lizzy Pleides: we needed 5 years fr selling a house recently
[13:45] herman Bergson: As if H somuch better...
[13:45] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): hey!
[13:45] Debbie Dee (framdor): Start a self help shelter for starving refugees.
[13:46] herman Bergson: Well..let's enjoy the cries at hand with open eyes and stay sharp on politics...
[13:46] herman Bergson: I thank you all for this wonderful year again...
[13:46] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): yes..i read more and more artikles in the newspaper
[13:46] Debbie Dee (framdor): So, do we have a class party now with cake, and tea ?
[13:46] herman Bergson: and I gonna take a nice long vacation....
[13:46] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): you deserved it Herman:)
[13:46] Qwark Allen: Hooooooo!!!!!!!   \O/     \O/     \O/
[13:46] Qwark Allen:                                |         |          |
[13:46] Qwark Allen:                              / \      / \      / \
[13:46] Guestboook van tipjar stand: Merlin Saxondale donated L$100. Thank you very much, it is much appreciated!
[13:47] Debbie Dee (framdor): lucky northerners - winter is biting down here...
[13:47] herman Bergson: Sorry ..bit dull indeed party....
[13:47] Debbie Dee (framdor): ;)
[13:47] Qwark Allen: AAHH!!!
[13:47] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): it's raining since febrauri Debbie...
[13:47] herman Bergson: Next lecture will be in the first week of September
[13:47] herman Bergson: Class dismissed .....
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: been a lot of rain for sure
[13:47] Qwark Allen: have nice long vacations herman
[13:47] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): Thank you Herman
[13:47] Debbie Dee (framdor): Oh, and i thought i had it bad - it is 12 C tonight
[13:47] Qwark Allen: hope to see you around
[13:47] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Yes I will miss it
[13:48] herman Bergson: I'll enjoy it Qwark...really...
[13:48] Qwark Allen: good good
[13:48] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): last sunday it was 8c during the day...
[13:48] herman Bergson: I will be around dont worry
[13:48] Qwark Allen: nice
[13:48] Lizzy Pleides: enjoy the summer Herman, will you make a journey?
[13:48] Debbie Dee (framdor): ok. I wont complain about the weather again ;)
[13:48] Qwark Allen: at least for sundays partys :-)
[13:48] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:48] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): going to the island again?????
[13:48] herman Bergson: Yes an island to the north of the Netherlands :-)
[13:49] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ah nice
[13:49] herman Bergson: Indeed Gemma :-)
[13:49] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): the most wonderfull part of the Netherlands:)
[13:49] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): take more pictures and do a viewer
[13:49] herman Bergson: True Beertje
[13:49] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): except H ... of course
[13:49] herman Bergson: of course Beertje
[13:49] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): smiles
[13:50] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): have a wonderfull summer!!
[13:50] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): see yu soon
[13:50] Debbie Dee (framdor): Bye philosophical friends - see you after summer...
[13:50] herman Bergson: I'll be around
[13:51] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): I have to go..Goodnight and sweet dreams
[13:51] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ok
[13:51] Debbie Dee (framdor): and have a great break. Thanks Prof ;)
[13:51] herman Bergson: There will be a new project Debbie..that is for sure
[13:51] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Bye, Bye   
[13:51] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I dont want to step on anybody
[13:51] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:51] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): beertje
[13:51] Qwark Allen: see you all soon

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