Sunday, March 3, 2019

763: The Open Society and its Enemies...

In our research into the legacy of the 20th century we planned to pay attention to four influential economic and political thinkers and their books.
"Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy" by Joseph Schumpeter (1942), "Diagnosis of Our Time" by Karl Mannheim (1943), "The Road to Serfdom" by Friedrich Hayek (1944) we already paid attention to.
The fourth one is "The Open Society and its Enemies" by Karl Popper (1945). 
In "The Open Society and Its Enemies" and later  in The Poverty of Historicism  (1957), Popper applies his theory of knowledge 
to humankind and society in the form of an attack on historicism, the doctrine that there are general laws of historical development that render the course of history inevitable and predictable.
Popper, like the logical positivists of the Wiener Kreis, was strongly influenced by the scientific method that he extended to politics. 
There were two important views for him. The first was that political solutions looked like  scientific solutions, they are never more than temporary and always susceptible to improvements. 
This is what he meant by the poverty of historicism: the search for deeper lessons from the past from which 'Iron Lessons' would emerge, according to which society should be governed. 
According to Popper, there was no such thing as history, only historical interpretation. The second view was that the social sciences need to be able to  predict. 
But if that were the case, then the same would apply here as to historicism and human action. The responsibility of man, would have been reduced and perhaps even eliminated. And this, he thought, is nonsense.
Popper yet asserts that scientific method applies both to nature and to society, and in the same way to particular isolable aspects of the whole. 
Social science can discover laws that make clear the unintended consequences of human action, but there can be no laws of the whole system. 
It follows that social reform must proceed by piecemeal social engineering, not by total revolutionary reconstructions of the social order.
Popper presents the central problem of politics in a characteristically falsificationist way: 
The question “Who should rule?,” he says, should be replaced by the question “How can institutions be devised that will minimize the risks of bad rulers?”
It happens to be the case, that at this very moment such institutions, like a free press, a judicial system and intelligence institutions are put to the test in the United States of America.
The characteristically falsificationist way is, that you don't judge a ruler by pointing at all the things he does well, 
but to look for the refutation of his being a good ruler by focusing on what he does wrong, what are his unlawful and criminal actions.
Popper shared with Hayek the belief that the influence of the state should be limited to the minimum. 
Its main reason for its existence is to ensure justice, that the strong will not oppress the weak. 
He disagreed with Karl Mannheim who believed that planning would lead to a closer society, because planning presupposes an already known final state.
Popper disagreed because planning required a historicist approach, a holistic, utopian approach that goes against the scientific approach of trial and error. 

As a result Popper came to the conclusion that democracy was the only viable option, because it was the only form of government 
that contained the scientific method and made it possible for society to change its policy on the basis of experience gained, and to replace the government without bloodshed.
For us these ideas are probably very common, but it was 1945. A Russian revolution,  a totalitarianism at its peak, two World Wars, the stock market crash. All still fresh in memory.
Thank you for your attention again... feel free to add your remarks and questions...

The Discussion

[13:30] herman Bergson: I may add that Marx is an example of someone who saw a kind of laws of nature in historical development.....
[13:31] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): found this all very confusing
[13:31] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): will have to study it a bit
[13:31] herman Bergson: explain Gemma
[13:31] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): confused by what he really means!!!
[13:32] herman Bergson: The main idea here is that history is not governed by certain laws of history, but develops by trail and error
[13:32] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): agree with that
[13:32] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): trying to reconcile with hayek
[13:33] herman Bergson: so...every time you reach some state, you have to test it and find out what refutes this state and replace it by a better state
[13:33] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): optimization
[13:33] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): that sounds good
[13:33] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): i guess u could call it
[13:33] herman Bergson: could call it that, Bejiita
[13:34] herman Bergson: So you need institutions to keep an eye on what is wrong, so you can improve your situation
[13:34] herman Bergson: That is what is happening in the US, I'd say
[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:35] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): what is supposed to happen
[13:35] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): who will keep an eye on the institutions?
[13:35] herman Bergson: Democracy is these intitutions....not just a single person, a president
[13:35] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): however with congress hogtied  in agreeing with change and past saying no change
[13:36] herman Bergson: the people, I'd say Beertje
[13:36] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): that is different from the original constitution
[13:36] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): of a different interpretation
[13:36] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): change is very slow for the past few years
[13:36] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): and perhaps the near future
[13:37] herman Bergson: and to Beertje....also the law....
[13:37] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): ok:)
[13:37] herman Bergson: the present situation in the US is a perfect example....
[13:37] herman Bergson: the place is dominated by lawyers.....
[13:39] herman Bergson: Laws are passed by a parlement, which is a group of politically elected people
[13:40] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yes
[13:40] herman Bergson: so these laws are a kind of general opinion about how the world should look like
[13:40] herman Bergson: I guess that might answer the question: who will keep an eye on the institutions?
[13:41] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): yes:)
[13:41] herman Bergson: wow...we finally succeeded in answering a real question here \o/
[13:42] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:42] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:42] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): :)
[13:42] herman Bergson: You must be happy now Gemma ^_^
[13:42] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ha
[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hehe
[13:42] herman Bergson: But the basic point here is...
[13:43] herman Bergson: that in the days of Popper there was still the belief that history could be explained by showing a kind of control by 'natural' historical laws....
[13:44] herman Bergson: that is what they also tried with economics...
[13:44] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): sees
[13:44] herman Bergson: we still have this idea that economies follow a kind of wave cultures do to....
[13:45] herman Bergson: they come up.....rise...and get ready fro the rise of a new culture and so on
[13:45] herman Bergson: But Popper says that this is nonsense....:-)
[13:46] herman Bergson: History is the growth of knowledge is unpredictable
[13:46] herman Bergson: For example....
[13:46] herman Bergson: Nobody could have predicted Einstein......
[13:46] herman Bergson: nor consequentially the development of nuclear bombs...
[13:46] herman Bergson: but those bombs SHAPED our history....
[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and will hopefully never be used again
[13:47] herman Bergson: as we saw with "Rocketman" today :-))
[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm indeed
[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): another fiasco
[13:47] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): oye
[13:48] herman Bergson: In other words...we haven't the slightest idea at what we are heading
[13:48] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): well we were warned and warned in the past year that this is what would happen
[13:48] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): what did you expect Bejiita, that they would have kissed each other?
[13:48] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): by those who knew from the past daddy of rocket man
[13:48] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): not really
[13:48] herman Bergson: He was in love, Beertje!...HE said so!
[13:48] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:48] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:48] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yep
[13:48] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): sigh
[13:48] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): and writes great letters
[13:49] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): yes true Herman
[13:49] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): so lovely
[13:49] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): empty words from an empty head!
[13:49] herman Bergson: He fell in love with `rocketman....his own words
[13:49] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yep
[13:49] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): heard him say it
[13:49] herman Bergson: now the romance seems to be over......snif :-)
[13:49] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:49] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:49] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): you never know
[13:49] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): i instantly thought NO YOU DONT MEAN THAT! ITS JUST BS!
[13:49] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:49] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:49] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): might write another complimentary letter
[13:49] herman Bergson: ohh...someone here on TV called it a BROMANCE :-)
[13:50] herman Bergson: loved that word
[13:50] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): what is BS?
[13:50] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): BullShit
[13:50] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): right term
[13:50] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): ok:)
[13:50] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): its just play for the galleries
[13:50] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): we shall see
[13:50] herman Bergson: ok....let me summarize a few important point
[13:51] herman Bergson: which we learnt from the 20th century and which are still important...
[13:51] herman Bergson: first one is the belief in the Invisible Hand.....the belief that the free market will regulate all
[13:52] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): which is like believing that a nuclear reactor with no control rods will regulate itself more or less
[13:52] herman Bergson: the  second is the permanent debate about how much should government interfere with this free market
[13:53] herman Bergson: a third observation is that ideologies who belief in a kind of historical determinism have collapsed..
[13:54] herman Bergson: and...but that is  a personal opinion...I agree with Popper that democracy is a way of life that gives the most chances to the most people in a society
[13:54] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): definitely
[13:55] herman Bergson: and what I am observing in the US is this fight for democracy against a kind of  autocrat
[13:55] herman Bergson: or even an autocrat group which is as corrupt as hell
[13:55] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): and all his supporters in the congress who have embraced
[13:56] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): it is crazy
[13:56] herman Bergson: That is what impressed me Gemma...what Cohen said....
[13:56] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed
[13:56] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): must run!!!
[13:56] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:56] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ok cu Gemma
[13:56] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:56] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): bye for now
[13:56] bergfrau Apfelbaum: byebye gemmaa:-)
[13:56] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): bye Gemma
[13:57] herman Bergson: He said to those Reps....OK...go are doing what I have been doing for ten years myself....and be'll end up like me eventually
[13:57] herman Bergson: in other words.....
[13:58] herman Bergson: Class dismissed  and thank you all  again :-))
[13:58] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):

[13:58] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): :)

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