Friday, June 1, 2012

409: The Utopia of the Free Market - Solidarity

The situation we are in now has deep historical roots. How could it come this far and can it be reversed? Reversed? Reversed to what? To a world without the utopia of the free market?

There is no way back. The Western world we live in is the result of a development during at least four centuries. It began with the "discovery" of the individual.

This may be traced back into the Renaissance, but it got its final form in Descartes' (1596 - 1650)  "Cogito, ergo sum". 

In political philosophy it was defined by philosophers like John Locke (1632 -1704) and Rousseau (1712 - 1778) in the form of individuals entering into a contract to form the state.

What I mean is, that we can observe an increasing importance of the individual. This growing individualism marks the end of the traditional subsistence economy and the rise of the free market. The world as a collection of transactions between individuals.

It is the basic stance of (neo)liberalism: first comes the individual with his natural rights. You can imagine that this can have a disrupting effect on the cohesion in a society: everyone for himself….

This idea isn't so modern. That society was developing in that direction was already noticed by Émile Durkheim (1858 - 1917), a aniFrench scientist and founder of the science of sociology.

- quote
"… if society lacks the unity that derives from the fact that the relationships between its parts are exactly regulated, that unity resulting from the harmonious articulation of its various functions assured by effective discipline 

and if, in addition, society lacks the unity based upon the commitment of men's wills to a common objective, then it is no more than a pile of sand that the least jolt or the slightest puff will suffice to scatter."
- end quote

Th growing free market increased the gap between the few rich and many poor. Even so worse that Disraeli, Prime minister of the UK from 1874 till1880, spoke even of "two nations".

With the concept of solidarity Durkheim placed himself between two political extremes. On the one hand you had the utopian, especially marxist and in France also anarchist revolutionaries, who were ready to establish a society, where all social differences would be equalized.

The revolutions of 1848 and the Commune of Paris in 1871 had, according to Durkheim demonstrated, that such kind of revolutionary solidarity  could easily drift into the nightmare of totalitariasm. 

At the other political end we find the freedom of individual contracts as propagated by the liberals. In their opinion it was not the task of the government to clean up social inequalities.

The social problems, which often were admitted by the liberals, had to be solved by the private initiative of charity.

Due to the increase of individualism, according to Durkheim, the traditional social cohesion creating institutions like the family or the church had disappeared in modern society. This is an observation regarding the 'modern' society of 1900!

With the complete disappearance of the subsistence economy, which was replaced by a free market economy, society had become mainly a collection of individuals.

The traditional feeling of solidarity, often expressed in reciprocity was no longer felt by the modern individual due to the increased division of labor. Everybody only was a small cog in the production process.

Social legislation and social security were the new form of solidarity in a free market economy and it is the present neoliberalism, which is breaking down this new solidarity since the 80s of the past century.

According to Durkheim the free individual can never be the starting point of a social order like Ayn Rand suggested with her extreme individualism.

The free individual is in fact the endpoint of a historical development, which culminates in the division of labor of the free market society.

The medieval solidarity of the subsistence economy is no longer an option for us, but we as individuals have to become more aware that even our personal greed is only possible in connection with the whole complex modern society.

The Discussion

[13:23] herman Bergson: Thank you...
[13:23] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Herman. The pile of sand quote.... I was not sure whose quote it was... Durkheim?
[13:24] herman Bergson: The floor is yours if you have any question or remark
[13:24] Ana (anasyro): dear herman, i am not sure what your main statement is
[13:24] herman Bergson: Yes Durkheims
[13:24] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): ok ty
[13:24] Ana (anasyro): can you clarify
[13:24] herman Bergson: That is a pitty Ana
[13:24] Ana (anasyro): not a pity
[13:24] herman Bergson: smiles
[13:25] Ana (anasyro): i am asking you to clarify your encyclopedia of knowledge
[13:25] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): ?
[13:25] Ana (anasyro): what is the point of your lecture
[13:25] herman Bergson: The main statement is that we need a new concept of solidarity in our society instead of the individualistic greed as leading principle
[13:25] Lizzy Pleides: i think people have a better education than earlier , this is lets increase individualism
[13:25] Ana (anasyro): well shoot!!!
[13:26] Ana (anasyro): tell us about that new concept
[13:26] Ana (anasyro): any idea?
[13:26] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Well Ana, this is part of a series
[13:26] Ana (anasyro): pfff
[13:26] Loo Zeta: Durkheim was a Functionalist, he did not accept the expoitation of the free market like Marxists
[13:26] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): It will only make sense if you heard the previous ones
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: people must think about others too instead of taking what he can from everyone else without any feeling at all for them
[13:26] Loo Zeta: excuse typos
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: like it is today
[13:26] Debbie Dee (framdor): Subsistence level may soon return due to overpopulation and resource depletion, and in fact do still exist in many parts of the world.
[13:27] herman Bergson: True Debbie
[13:27] Mick Nerido: There still are rules in the free utopia…
[13:27] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I heard someone on the radio say recently that society has never been more equal than it is now
[13:27] Debbie Dee (framdor): So, maybe solidarity will return of necessity.
[13:27] Loo Zeta: yes, the Chilian miners knew they had to share rations equitably or they died
[13:27] Loo Zeta: Really Merlin?
[13:28] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): You must admit, that in the west anyway, the poor are reasonably prosperous
[13:28] herman Bergson: In some countries it is Merlin
[13:28] Alarice von Doobie (alarice.beaumont): awww.. sorry.. have to leave :-(
[13:28] herman Bergson: In some
[13:28] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Yes it was about UK only
[13:28] Alarice von Doobie (alarice.beaumont): bye everyone
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: bye then Alarice
[13:28] herman Bergson: The UK is a bad example tho ...
[13:28] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): bye Alarice
[13:28] Loo Zeta: In some parts of the West I see a a division like a chasm developing in the UK
[13:28] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): oh?
[13:28] herman Bergson: the difference between rich and poor has increased there
[13:29] herman Bergson: compared to other countries
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: scary development for sure
[13:29] Kime Babenco: I give you an example of solidartity: the head of the international red cross earns more than the president of the USA... Check if you like
[13:29] Loo Zeta: we are going to end up with an 'Underclass' again, or an 'undeserving poor'
[13:29] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): well not compared to the third world surely?
[13:29] Ana (anasyro): i seriously don't know how these details will bring us closer to a new conception of solidarity
[13:29] herman Bergson: That is exactly the point Kim
[13:29] Ana (anasyro): this is an empirical matter
[13:30] herman Bergson: yes Ana...for everyone to see
[13:30] Mick Nerido: Perhaps the solidarity will have to come after the disolution of nation states...
[13:30] herman Bergson: the queen of the netherlands gets 69.000 Euro a month...
[13:30] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): omg Mick
[13:30] herman Bergson: The president of France gets 10.600 a month for instance
[13:30] Kime Babenco: So people keep on asking a bit help on any streetcross, to buy a sweet or whatever... and.. it's money not used what is was meant for
[13:31] Debbie Dee (framdor): When people have nothing, or have lost a lot - they tend to work together to subsist. that is a strong form of solidarity. Look at the occupy movements around the world...
[13:31] Loo Zeta agrees with Debbie
[13:31] Mick Nerido: misery loves company
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:32] herman Bergson: Yes Debbie..I agree..there is a counter movement...
[13:32] Loo Zeta: or turn to theft
[13:32] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I can remember those feelings but dont see them now
[13:32] herman Bergson: People begin to see (except the bankers) that personal greed is not working eventually
[13:32] herman Bergson: there is more to a society and being member of a society than by accumulating wealth
[13:33] Loo Zeta: The union movement emerged from exploitation
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: yes indeed
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: much morer
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: more
13:33] herman Bergson: Yes..and the unions in the UK for instance were knocked out by Thatcher
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: can you buy love for exampple or feelings
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: no
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: love
[13:33] herman Bergson: she opened up the free market instead
[13:34] Fred123 Aiten: but you have to accumulate wealth to provide security
[13:34] Debbie Dee (framdor): The old adage that giving is better than receiving, in social terms, is still true. To be a respected member of a community is awesome.
[13:34] Loo Zeta: Not totally, this government are trying to undermine the last bastion of socialism.... the NHS
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: you can buy sex but then its no love involved in it
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: love and such things is important things u cant buy
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: and social contact in general
[13:34] Loo Zeta: Is love a social construct?
[13:34] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I wish that was true Bejiita
[13:35] herman Bergson: But remember Marx's his words from the previouslecture...
[13:35] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Sociologists have found that women find rich men more attractive
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: if i pay someone for love me they will only love me for my money not for the person i am
[13:35] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Even if their richness is fake
[13:35] Kime Babenco: Human relations are more complex than that... We were talking about solidarity among people
[13:36] Loo Zeta: Well I so got that wrong lol
[13:36] Debbie Dee (framdor): DOH merlin.
[13:36] Debbie Dee (framdor): rich is the goal in the free market society
[13:36] Loo Zeta: But what does it prophet a man I he looses his soul?
[13:36] Fred123 Aiten: so are we saying that people should not save money?
[13:36] herman Bergson: Yes Debbie...but it shows that it is not the final goal in a society...a human society
[13:36] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): If I tell a girl I don't have a car she loses interest in me
[13:37] Fred123 Aiten: All spare cash at the end of the month should be given to charity
[13:37] Loo Zeta: stupid girl
[13:37] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Even someone in another continent
[13:37] Lizzy Pleides: for some people Money is the most important in their lifes
[13:37] Mick Nerido: How we treat the poor and sick defines our society
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: well a buffer is good to have but if you have 50 million and yet just want more and more its greed
[13:37] herman Bergson: That is what Marx already said in 1844
[13:37] Kime Babenco: Yes...
[13:37] herman Bergson: Money makes my individuality
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: that u should share some for sure
[13:38] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I don't know why people like Richard Branson keep on working
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: i mean what would u do with 50 million really?
[13:38] Fred123 Aiten: security is the most important thing not money. But money buys security
[13:38] Kime Babenco: So it's hard to understand in the USA they don't want to hear about public health care...
[13:38] Loo Zeta: who herman?
[13:38] Loo Zeta: money doth not make the man
[13:38] Loo Zeta: just the things he has
[13:38] Lizzy Pleides: i would know it but i would not sell my soul for it
[13:38] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Yeah its Manners
[13:39] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): But some people say Clothes too
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: indeed loo
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: its who u are as person that matters
[13:39] herman Bergson: WhenI am ugly and I have money....I can buy 20 women, so I am not ugly...
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: not how much money u have
[13:39] herman Bergson: When I am lame I can buy 200 feet, so I am not lame..I am what I can pay for....
[13:39] herman Bergson: Marx
[13:39] Loo Zeta thinks Herman playing devil's advocate
[13:39] Femtasia Rexen: no he's right
[13:39] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): But that research I mentioned... women actually think that men who they think are rich are actuelly better looking too
[13:40] Kime Babenco: Manners are under influence of money and time
[13:40] Femtasia Rexen: i know someone who bought a very beautiful woman, she was intelligent too
[13:40] Debbie Dee (framdor): If we all make lots of money and have a 50M buffer of cash, all around the world, we wont be any safer, because the goods will all be consumed.
[13:40] herman Bergson: Money alienates the person from his individuality...
[13:40] Mick Nerido: everyone has their price?
[13:40] Femtasia Rexen: he is fat , and old, but very clever :)
[13:40] Loo Zeta: Richness of life is found in the connections we make, some of my closest was when I was in an East End Mission caring for homeless
[13:40] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Rich means better diet
[13:41] Loo Zeta: nope
[13:41] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): often more opportunity for exerice
[13:41] Loo Zeta: not always
[13:41] herman Bergson: Yes Loo...what you say makes sense....
[13:42] herman Bergson: Compared with the banking and financial crisis and its causes...
[13:42] Mick Nerido: what happened to the meek shall inherit the earth?
[13:42] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): yeah Mick, that was always wrong
[13:42] Kime Babenco: The dream is maybe super(wo)man... though the actor ended in a wheel chair
[13:42] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Sermon on the Mount I think
[13:42] Debbie Dee (framdor): It was propaganda from earlier times.
[13:43] herman Bergson: Yes it was Merlin
[13:43] Debbie Dee (framdor): now it is - the meek shall watch soapies ;)
[13:43] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): ty :)
[13:43] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): lol debbie
[13:43] Loo Zeta: I could go into theological exigesis but later?
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: hahaha
[13:43] Kime Babenco: Mayb e as rich as the ocean is deep... but stil in a wheel chair
[13:43] Mick Nerido: mabe mistranslated "The Mean shall inherit the Earth"
[13:43] Loo Zeta: exegesis sorry
[13:44] herman Bergson: Ok....
[13:44] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Yes Kime that superman thing was tragic
[13:44] herman Bergson: To get back to the main issue...:-)
[13:44] Debbie Dee (framdor): mick - lol, sad but true.
[13:44] Ana (anasyro): I still think this discussion will lead us nowhere. It is about the contingencies of life, the bad an good sides. It is a personal matter this issue, I agree, but we do not seem capable of lifting it to a level of real theoretical debate about the assumptions of solidarity. We cannot find a real solution to the problem of lack of solidarity if we don't understand the paradoxes of social life. What I hear here are a lot of clichés and open doors kicked in. If I understand the essence of all statements I think we should discuss something like what makes social order possible. We should discuss in a more positive way the basic ingredients of social life itself. We go into details instead of looking at the structures behind it. Why not talk about the fact that, unless all the constraints, society still is a fact, coherent as it is. Why is not anyone explaining this fact? I conclude: this is just pseudophilosophy. But I doubt you will all agree with this. ;-)
[13:44] herman Bergson: Social legislation was a form a a new solidarity in the free market society...
[13:44] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): aaaagggghhhh
[13:44] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Not reading that!
[13:45] Kime Babenco: Right Ana
[13:45] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): What was it ... 2 lines max?
[13:45] herman Bergson: Ana plz read the rules of discussion here behind me to the right...
[13:45] Ana (anasyro): that is a way to avoid a real discussion
[13:45] herman Bergson: If you have a problem...plz state it in short statements
[13:45] Kime Babenco: We lost the issue of todays class...
[13:45] Ana (anasyro): i am out of here
[13:45] Mick Nerido: thanks herman have to go
[13:45] Ana (anasyro): this is really nonsense
[13:45] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): hoooo
[13:45] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): I need another hour to read that..
[13:46] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Bye
[13:46] Ana (anasyro): so try it
[13:46] Mick Nerido: bye everyone
[13:46] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): lol
[13:46] herman Bergson: If it is nonsense Ana why did you stay???
[13:46] Kime Babenco: I like discussing however...;-)
[13:46] Debbie Dee (framdor): Oh well. I think this is good stuff Herman.
[13:46] herman Bergson: Well...this hasn't happen only once long ago in 6 years
[13:46] herman Bergson: smiles
[13:46] Femtasia Rexen: *smilles
[13:46] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Good for a laugh
[13:46] herman Bergson: this is not a therapy group for people with social problems
[13:47] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): lol
[13:47] herman Bergson: nicely disrupted our discussion...
[13:47] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I know someone else too
[13:47] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Goes to Roadside and other places
[13:47] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): No names
[13:47] Kime Babenco: Don't confuse a philosphy class to psychological session...
[13:48] herman Bergson: Well...
[13:48] herman Bergson: shrugges like Atlas did
[13:48] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Is Herman stunned?
[13:48] Debbie Dee (framdor): that put a damper on things.
[13:48] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): I hope you don't have the same ideas as she had..
[13:48] herman Bergson: Sometimes we run into this kind of entertainment
[13:49] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): It was fun... I love dissent
[13:49] Debbie Dee (framdor): I think we are all a bit shocked.
[13:49] Femtasia Rexen: oh I think not, it was a lively discussion that is all :)
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: heheh
[13:49] Kime Babenco: Atlas bearing the world ?
[13:49] Loo Zeta: Atlas had the world on his shoulders ..... love it :D
[13:49] herman Bergson: Ayn Rand's book had the title "Atlas Shrugged"
[13:49] Femtasia Rexen: haha
[13:49] Kime Babenco: Means what ?
[13:50] herman Bergson: I still have to read the long text of this lady....
[13:50] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I won't
[13:50] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): we learned a lot this lesson...also the way we do not act..
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: the world was shaking is litteraly the title in swedish
[13:50] Kime Babenco: Atlas live in what area ?
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: or "and the world shook"!
[13:50] Kime Babenco: An old greec not ?
[13:51] herman Bergson: Atlas was a mythological figure
[13:51] Kime Babenco: OK
[13:51] herman Bergson: always shown with the world on his shoulders
[13:51] Lizzy Pleides: I have to go off, good night everybody!
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:51] herman Bergson: I have an old clock...
[13:51] Femtasia Rexen: night Lizzy
[13:51] Loo Zeta: Good night Lizzy
[13:51] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): night Lizzy:)
[13:51] Debbie Dee (framdor): Night Liz.
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: night Lizzy
[13:51] herman Bergson: one of the decorating figures on it is Atlas
[13:51] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Bye Lizzy
[13:51] Kime Babenco: The first one who determined the Earth size was Erastothen
[13:52] Kime Babenco: Bye Lizzy!
[13:52] Kime Babenco: Earth size
[13:52] herman Bergson: Well...thank you all for you participation and endurance today ^_^
[13:52] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): That title never did make sense to me.. Atlas Shrugged
[13:52] herman Bergson: Class dismissed...
[13:52] Femtasia Rexen: thank you professor
[13:52] Fred123 Aiten: thanks herman
[13:52] Kime Babenco: Ok, Herman
[13:52] Kime Babenco: Thanks a lot
[13:52] Debbie Dee (framdor): Thanks Prof Herman
[13:53] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): thank you Herman..we learned a lot again
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: well intreresting as usual
[13:53] Bejiita Imako:
[13:53] Kime Babenco: Sorry I was late ...:-(
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: cu soon
[13:53] Bejiita Imako:
[13:53] Loo Zeta: Thanks and apologize for not realizing you had started earlier
[13:53] Femtasia Rexen: and thank you everyone
[13:53] herman Bergson: Well....never a dull moment.... ^_^
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: nope
[13:54] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Bye everyone
[13:55] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): bye every one:)

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